Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Mary Miller on a billboard

In Effingham, Illinois, the heart of Illinois’s fifteenth congressional district, the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association has rented a billboard to share Representative Mary Miller’s words with the world:

“Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.’”
That’s what she said, in Washington, D.C., on January 5, 2021.

From IDCCA President Kristina Zahorik:
Words matter, particularly from those who hold elected office. And when Mary Miller tried to excuse her comments about Adolf Hitler by accusing others of attempting to “twist her words” the IDCCA knew she needed to be held accountable for her finger-pointing defense. The residents of Mary Miller’s Congressional district need to know that Mary Miller thinks it is acceptable to cite Adolf Hitler to make a political point. The IDCCA hopes the voters remember her inexcusable comments, and hold her accountable as a public official and eventually at the ballot box.
You can see the billboard on the IDCCA’s main page.

All the Mary Miller posts
January 5 and 6 in D.C., with Mary Miller : The objectors included Mary Miller : A letter to Mary Miller : Mary Miller, with no mask : Mary Miller, still in trouble : His ’n’ resignations are in order : Mary Miller in The New Yorker : Mary Miller vs. AOC : Mary Miller’s response to mass murder : Mary Miller and trans rights

Fashionable parties

Marcel Proust, The Prisoner, trans. Carol Clark (London: Penguin, 2003).

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

Tuesday, March 30, 2021


Odd phrasing from Deborah Birx, speaking to Sanjay Gupta:

“There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge. All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.”
I know that mitigate and mitigation are words common in COVID-19 discourse. But they always strike me as odd. Merriam-Webster gives these relevant meanings for mitigate : “to cause to become less harsh or hostile,” “to make less severe or painful.” But Birx is clearly not talking about palliative care. She’s not even speaking, really, about persons: “all of the rest of them” is deaths. You can’t “decrease” a person’s death, only a total number of deaths. Birx is speaking about death en masse.

A less evasive way to say it, “About a hundred thousand people died from that original surge. Hundreds of thousands more didn’t have to die.”

I lost my respect for Deborah Birx on March 25 last year. It never came back.

“One does have one’s standards”

With his “painted lips,” “mascaraed lashes,” and “papier-poudréd cheeks,” Baron de Charlus is a man who takes care with his appearance when out and about. But he hates to be seen in bed in the morning:

Marcel Proust, The Prisoner, trans. Carol Clark (London: Penguin, 2003).

Twenty-five? As the Baron says elsewhere, he “shan’t see forty again.” And as the narrator points out, the Baron is “well into his sixties.”

All these years later, one can still buy Paiper Poudré.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

Elaine’s A Tunes

Elaine’s A Tunes: Capricious Pieces for Beginner Violinists just appeared at Amazon. Elaine has written two blog posts — 1, 2 — to explain how she came to write these pieces.

She is, as she says, “engaging in commerce.”

The Blackwing clamp, 100 years old

The excellent blog pencil talk notes the March 29, 1921 filing of the patent for the clamp that became a distinctive feature of the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 pencil: Happy 100th anniversary, Blackwing clamp!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Making it plain

From the Derek Chauvin murder trial. Steve Schleicher, prosecutor, asks a question. Alisha Oyler, witness, responds:

“Now can you please explain to the jury, why did you continue to record what you were seeing here?”

“Because I just — I always see the police, they’re always messing with people. And it’s wrong and it’s not right."

You can see this exchange at C-SPAN (5:48:59).

Mary Miller and trans rights

In The New York Times and The Washington Post this morning, news of a new battle in the so-called culture wars. From a Times article:

Lawmakers in a growing number of Republican-led states are advancing and passing bills to bar transgender athletes in girls’ sports, a culture clash that seems to have come out of nowhere. . . .

The idea that there is a sudden influx of transgender competitors who are dominating women’s and girls’ sports does not reflect reality — in high school, college or professionally.
And from a Washington Post opinion piece by Megan Rapinoe:
These bills are attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Transgender kids want the opportunity to play sports for the same reasons other kids do: to be a part of a team where they feel like they belong. Proponents of these bills argue that they are protecting women. As a woman who has played sports my whole life, I know that the threats to women’s and girls’ sports are lack of funding, resources and media coverage; sexual harassment; and unequal pay.
The Times article points out that these bills are the result of nationally coordinated efforts on the part of socially conservative organizations and female legislators. It’s no coincidence that the first bill introduced by my representative in Congress, Mary Miller (Illinois-15), would require sex-segregation in school bathrooms and locker rooms and on sports teams, with sex defined as “biological sex, not gender identity.” The bill, which Miller calls the Safety and Opportunity for Girls Act, appears to be H.R. 1417, titled “To clarify protections related to sex and sex-segregated spaces and to activities under title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.” There’s a general snafu with the House Education and Labor Committee website, with nothing to read for H.R. 1417 or any other legislation.

H.R. 1417 is likely going nowhere. But that won’t matter to Mary Miller’s supporters. I can already hear the campaign ads next year: “As a mom to five daughters, Miller led to fight to pass,” &c.

Among those co-sponsoring Miller’s bill: Lauren Boebert, Mo Brooks, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

All the Mary Miller posts
January 5 and 6 in D.C., with Mary Miller : The objectors included Mary Miller : A letter to Mary Miller : Mary Miller, with no mask : Mary Miller, still in trouble : His ’n’ resignations are in order : Mary Miller in The New Yorker : Mary Miller vs. AOC : Mary Miller’s response to mass murder

Separated at birth

  [Markku Luolajan-Mikkola, baroque cellist and viol player, and John Malkovich, actor and director. Click either image for a larger view.]

Younger self, that might be your older self.

Thanks to Steven Hall for suggesting a Luolajan-Mikkola and Malkovich pairing.

Also separated at birth
Claude Akins and Simon Oakland : Ernest Angley and Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán : Nicholson Baker and Lawrence Ferlinghetti : Bérénice Bejo and Paula Beer : Ted Berrigan and C. Everett Koop : David Bowie and Karl Held : Victor Buono and Dan Seymour : Ernie Bushmiller and Red Rodney : John Davis Chandler and Steve Buscemi : Ray Collins and Mississippi John Hurt : Broderick Crawford and Vladimir Nabokov : Ted Cruz and Joe McCarthy : Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Gough : Henry Daniell and Anthony Wiener : Jacques Derrida, Peter Falk, and William Hopper : Adam Driver and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska : Charles Grassley and Abraham Jebediah Simpson II : Elaine Hansen (of Davey and Goliath) and Blanche Lincoln : Barbara Hale and Vivien Leigh : Harriet Sansom Harris and Phoebe Nicholls : Steven Isserlis and Pat Metheny : Colonel Wilhelm Klink and Rudy Giuliani : Ton Koopman and Oliver Sacks : Steve Lacy and Myron McCormick : Don Lake and Andrew Tombes : William H. Macy and Michael A. Monahan : Fredric March and Tobey Maguire : Jean Renoir and Steve Wozniak : Molly Ringwald and Victoria Zinny

An EXchange name sighting

[Tony Curtis as Sidney Falco. From Sweet Smell of Success (dir. Alexander Mackendrick, 1957). Click for a larger view.]

Yes, it looks like Sidney is about to beseech the gods. Or the god, J. J. Hunsecker. EL-what? It’s impossible (for me) to read. ELdorado would make sense, but Ma Bell suggests ELmwood.

More EXchange names on screen
Act of Violence : The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse : Armored Car Robbery : Baby Face : Blast of Silence : The Blue Dahlia : Blue Gardenia : Boardwalk Empire : Born Yesterday : The Brasher Doubloon : The Brothers Rico : The Case Against Brooklyn : Chinatown : Danger Zone : The Dark Corner : Dark Passage : Deception : Deux hommes dans Manhattan : Dick Tracy’s Deception : Down Three Dark Streets : Dream House : East Side, West Side : Fallen Angel : Framed : The Little Giant : Loophole : The Man Who Cheated Himself : Modern Marvels : Murder by Contract : Murder, My Sweet : My Week with Marilyn : Naked City (1) : Naked City (2) : Naked City (3) : Naked City (4) : Naked City (5) : Naked City (6) : Naked City (7) : Naked City (8) : Naked City (9) : Nightfall : Nightmare Alley : Out of the Past : Perry Mason : Pitfall : The Public Enemy : Railroaded! : Red Light : Side Street : The Slender Thread : Stage Fright : Sweet Smell of Success : Tension : This Gun for Hire : Vice Squad : Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Domestic comedy

“Did you do the dishes last night?”

“Yes, you identified me as doing them, as such.”

Elaine and I have been working the empty phrases “as such” and “at that” into our conversation. Living where we do, we have long been accustomed to making our own fun.

How, earlier in the day, had I identified Elaine as the dishdoer? By the spatula in the dishdrainer. Elaine puts those larger tools in the cutlery cups. I stand them up in the small rectangles formed by the coated wires running the length and width of the drainer. When I asked about the dishes, the spatula was gone.

As I said, “our own fun.” And good fun at that.

I have written this post in the excellent writing app iA Writer. When I turned on the Style Check (for fun), the app suggested removing “as such” from these sentences. No way.

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

Saturday, March 27, 2021

The one that got away

I forgot to include in an earlier post this clue from today’s Newsday  Saturday crossword: 14-D, four letters, “‘___ by night, a chest of drawers by day’: Goldsmith.” I will give away the answer, from Oliver Goldsmith’s poem “The Deserted Village,” in lines that describe a now-gone inn or tavern, a “house where nut-brown draughts inspired”:

The chest contrived a double debt to pay,
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day.
Those lines seemed familiar, and not because I have Oliver Goldsmith on my mind. I thought of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and the enervated coupling of the typist and clerk:
On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
There’s no note for these lines in Eliot’s often-parodic “Notes on The Waste Land,” but there is a note for lines that soon follow:
When lovely woman stoops to folly and
Paces about her room again, alone,
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
And puts a record on the gramophone.
Eliot’s note: “V. Goldsmith, the song in The Vicar of Wakefield.” Here’s the song.

Was Eliot consciously borrowing from Goldsmith with the divan/bed thirty lines earlier? Unconsciously borrowing? I think it must have been one or the other.

The coupling of the clerk and typist seems to have extraordinary resonance in contemporary college classrooms, at least in my experience of teaching The Waste Land. It’s an emotional blank, presented in fourteen lines that — guess what? — turn out to be a Shakespearean sonnet.

Today’s Newsday  Saturday

Today’s Newsday  Saturday crossword, by Brad Wilber, solves like an easier Stumper. Lots of interest in the clues and answers, with generous helpings of novelty and misdirection.

1-A, nine letters, “Off-the-grid period.” I, not even sports-minded, thought football.

12-D, ten letters, “Swag supporter.” Nice and arcane, at least to my ear.

19-A, five letters, “Female name that sounds like Roman numerals.” Not DEEDEE — too long. Not DIDI — too short. Not EM — you can’t have a two-letter answer in a crossword.

27-A, seven letters, “Parisian’s patron.” My first thought: What’s the French for customer?

29-D, ten letters, “Do-it-all’s bane.” Yep.

37-A, three letters, “Navigation aid.” Duh, right? Wrong. This clue adds value to 62-D, three letters, “What a 37 Across can’t do without.”

45-A, seven letters, “Peanut butter Hershey bars.” Semi-obscure candy treats seem to sneak into Newsday Saturday puzzles. Not long ago it was a MARSBAR.

64-A, nine letters, “They’re in a star’s orbit.” Wait, stars orbit?

My favorite clue-and-answer in this puzzle: 13-D, ten letters, “Seller of banded and boxed merchandise.”

And one clue I’d like to make Stumper-y: 28-D, “What a daredevil might kiss when done.” That seems too explicatory to me. How about “Dry spot”? “Everybody’s turf”? “Place to take a stand”? I’m omitting the letter count to not give away an answer. Never no spoilers.

All answers are in the comments.


I forgot one clue-and-answer and ending up writing another post: The one that got away.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Beverly Cleary (1916–2021)

The writer Beverly Cleary has died at the age of 104. The New York Times has an ample feature on her life and work, beginning here. HarperCollins has a Cleary website.

I’m a latecomer to the Cleary world. In adulthood, I’ve read all the Ramona books, Ellen Tebbits (my daughter’s favorite), Fifteen, Jean and Johnny, The Luckiest Girl, Sister of the Bride, and Cleary’s two memoirs, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet. Her writing has lifted me to laughter and reduced me to tears.

Fellow kids-at-heart, I encourage you to read Beverly Cleary if you haven’t.

Related reading
All OCA Beverly Cleary posts

False prophesying in the Times

From The New York Times:

The marked focus on vaccines is particularly striking on discussion channels populated by followers of QAnon, who had falsely prophesied that Donald J. Trump would continue as president while his political opponents were marched off to jail.
“Prophesied” seems very odd in the newspaper of record. “Falsely prophesied” seems odder still. “Believed” or “claimed” would be a more appropriate choice.

Don Heffington (1950–2021)

Drummer and songwriter, and Van Dyke Parks collaborator. Variety has an extensive obituary.

I heard Don play with Van Dyke in Chicago and St. Louis. So I can agree with Don’s Lone Justice bandmate Marvin Etzioni, quoted in Variety: “Like Ringo, he didn’t play drums, he played songs.”

The Los Angeles Times obituary has a great photo of DH and VDP. And here is Don Heffington’s website.

Write this down

Once again, research has shown:

A study of Japanese university students and recent graduates has revealed that writing on physical paper can lead to more brain activity when remembering the information an hour later. Researchers say that the unique, complex, spatial and tactile information associated with writing by hand on physical paper is likely what leads to improved memory.
Related reading
All OCA handwriting posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, March 25, 2021


It makes me happy whenever I hear that someone I know has received a COVID-19 vaccine. Yay, says I, every time.

Today Elaine and I got our first shots of the Moderna vaccine. Yay, says I.

And it makes me happy to see so many people getting vaccinated. Sometimes 800 a day, the nurse said. And that’s in deep-red downstate Illinois. Yay, says I.

“In the lighted bookshop windows”

After the death of the writer Bergotte, a simple, solemn memorial.

Marcel Proust, The Prisoner, trans. Carol Clark (London: Penguin, 2003).

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

“A little patch of yellow wall”

In Proust’s The Prisoner, the writer Bergotte dies after after gazing at “a little patch of yellow wall“ in Vermeer’s View of Delft. Marcel, our narrator, says that a critic described this patch as “so well painted that it was, if one looked at it in isolation, like a precious work of Chinese art, of an entirely self-sufficient beauty.” Vermeer’s painting is on loan in Paris. Bergotte, ill, hasn’t left his house in years. But he doesn’t remember this patch of wall, and he wants to see it.

Is there such patch in Vermeer’s painting? Elaine found a good discussion of that question by Dean Kissick: “The Downward Spiral: Little Patch of Yellow Wall” (Spike ). And another: “Petit pan de mur jaune” (Essential Vermeer).

My 2¢: I think it’s the bright roof in the right third of the painting. But I think the point is to invite the reader to look as closely as Bergotte looked. Bergotte’s response makes me think of the last sentence of Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo”: “You must change your life.” But Bergotte has no future:

“That is how I should have written, he said to himself. My last books are too dry, I should have applied several layers of colour, made my sentences precious in themselves, like that little patch of yellow wall.”
Moments later, he dies.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

[Quotations from The Prisoner, trans. Carol Clark (London: Penguin, 2003). The translator follows Proust in keeping the dialogue tag inside quotation marks. By this point in In Search of Lost Time, it’s more or less clear that the narrator’s name is Marcel. The confirmation is still to come. The sentence from Rilke: “Du mußt dein Leben ändern.”]

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Heather Cox Richardson on the NRA

In today’s installment of Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson, historian, offers a brief history of the NRA’s shift from “sports” to “gun rights.”

[I just realized that the title Letters from an American must have been inspired by Alistair Cooke’s BBC broadcast Letter from America.]

Pocket notebook sighting

Two of the (many) creepy things about the gossip columnist J. J. Hunsecker are his little pocket notebook and his little writing instrument.

[J. J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) and Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) at 21. From Sweet Smell of Success (dir. Alexander Mackendrick, 1957).]

Good grief: it’s a perforated pad with the Hunsecker name on every page.

[Click either image for a larger view.]

Harry Kello is a corrupt cop. That little note for Sidney is a directive meant to destroy a musician’s career. J. J. will ask for that piece of paper back, of course.

What is J. J. writing with? I’d guess a miniature mechanical pencil, sterling silver no doubt, but the handwriting suggests a pen. A miniature ballpoint? But the thick and thin lines of Kello suggest a fountain pen. Well, it’s a movie. A great one.

An economical choice for the aspiring gossip columnist: the Zebra T-3 mini ballpoint or TS-3 mini mechanical pencil. Speak viciously and carry a small writing instrument.

More notebook sightings
All the King’s Men : Angels with Dirty Faces : Ball of Fire : The Big Clock : Bombshell : The Brasher Doubloon : Cat People : City Girl : Crossing Delancey : Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne : Dead End : The Devil and Miss Jones : Dragnet : Extras : Eyes in the Night : The Face Behind the Mask : Foreign Correspondent : Fury : Homicide : The Honeymooners : The House on 92nd Street : Journal d’un curé de campagne : Kid Glove Killer : The Last Laugh : Le Million : The Lodger : Ministry of Fear : Mr. Holmes : Murder at the Vanities : Murder by Contract : Murder, Inc. : The Mystery of the Wax Museum : Naked City : The Naked Edge : Now, Voyager : The Palm Beach Story : Perry Mason : Pickpocket : Pickup on South Street : Pushover : Quai des Orfèvres : The Racket : Railroaded! : Red-Headed Woman : Rififi : La roue : Route 66The Scarlet Claw : Sleeping Car to Trieste : The Small Back Room : The Sopranos : Spellbound : Stage Fright : State Fair : A Stranger in Town : Stranger Things : Time Table : T-Men : To the Ends of the Earth : 20th Century Women : Union Station : Vice Squad : Walk East on Beacon! : Where the Sidewalk Ends : The Woman in the Window : You Only Live Once

A Walser talk

Soon: Susan Bernofsky talks about Robert Walser with the poet Eileen Myles. It’s a Zoom event, free, April 15, 7:00–8:30 p.m. GMT: “Clairvoyant of the Small": A Conversation.

Also soon: Bernofksy’s biography of Walser, Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser, arrives on May 25.

Related reading
All OCA Walser posts (Pinboard)

[World Time Buddy is a handy site for figuring out when.]

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

In Illinois-15

Representative Mary Miller’s response to mass murder: to retweet Lauren Boebert and Ben Shapiro. That is all ye know in Illinois-15, and all ye need to know.

All the Mary Miller posts
January 5 and 6 in D.C., with Mary Miller : The objectors included Mary Miller : A letter to Mary Miller : Mary Miller, with no mask : Mary Miller, still in trouble : His ’n’ resignations are in order : Mary Miller in The New Yorker : Mary Miller vs. AOC

Ralph Kramden’s list

[Ralph Kramden’s bad points and good points, by Ralph Kramden. From the Honeymooners episode “Young Man with a Horn,” March 24, 1956. Click for a much larger view.]

I have the thirty-nine “classic” Honeymooners episodes on DVD, but I am still driven to watch whatever episode airs on Sunday night on MeTV. “Young Man with a Horn” aired this past Sunday. In this episode a visit from doughnut-company owner August Gunther and his wife to the Kramdens’ apartment — the Gunthers’ first apartment, many years ago — prompts Ralph to emulate Mr. Gunther and aim to become a success by eliminating his weaknesses and building up his strong points.

Bad points: 1. Late for work. 2. Oversleeping. 3. Snores. 4. Loses temper. 5. Don’t pay debts. 6. Too fat. 7. Brags. 8. Connives. 9. Daydreams. 10. Avoids responsibility. 11. Stubborn. 12. Too fat. 13. Overeats. 14. Neglects wife. 15. Spends foolishly. 16. Gullible. 17. Sloppy dresser. 18. Treats wife like workhorse. 19. Generally untidy. 20. Too fat. 21. Talks too much. 22. Argues too much.

Good points: 1. Loves wife. 2. Admits mistakes. 3. Soft hearted. 4. Has good intentions. 5. Basically honest when pinned down.

Norton suggested bad point no. 5: “You owed me two dollars for the last month.” And after Ralph pays up: “I knew it’d work!” Norton’s single suggested good point, which sort of makes this list: “The sweetest guy in the world.”

“Young Man with a Horn” is one of the most poignant Honeymooners episodes. It has very little yelling, and is nearly all hope, failure, and hope.

You can watch this episode now at YouTube.


An afterthought: It occurred to me that aside from the names of members behind in dues, written on a chalkboard in the Raccoon lodge, Ralph’s list of bad points and good points might be the only handwritten text we ever see in The Honeymooners.

Related reading
All OCA Honeymooners posts (Pinboard)

[Individual items on the list shift in and out of focus as the camera moves away from the wall. I transcribed with care. As far as I can tell, this transcription is the only one to be found online. I am thinking of this post as a fleeting refuge from the horror of current events.]

Monday, March 22, 2021

Small pleasures

We were making our way through the empty TV hour that precedes two late-night episodes of Murphy Brown. We had Antiques Roadshow on for lack of anything better. I flipped to see the descriptions of the upcoming Murphy Brown episodes and read aloud: “/ˈkā-mē-ˌō/ appearances by,” &c. I always say /ˈkā-mē-ˌō/. I always have it wrong. Elaine always points out that it’s pronounced /ˈka-mē-ˌō/. And I continue to get it wrong.

Back at the Roadshow, someone soon said /ˈka-mē-ˌō/. And on the first of the night’s Murphy Brown episodes, someone said /ˈka-mē-ˌō/. The second episode had the cameos, by Ed Bradley, Bob Dole, Linda Ellerbee, and many others.

The Antiques Roadshow episode was from /spō-ˈkan/, Washington, not /spō-ˈkān/. That’s how it goes in the spoken language.

The small pleasures here are two: 1. hearing cameo pronounced correctly, once in our living room, twice on on TV, and 2. getting a lesson in pronunciation that will stick.

[Nos. 6 and 7 in a series.]

Mystery actor

[Click for a larger view.]

The guy on the phone: recognize him? I didn’t. Leave your best guess in a comment. I’ll drop a hint if needed.


That didn’t take long. This actor’s name is now in the comments.

More mystery actors (Collect them all!)
? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? :

Sunday, March 21, 2021


Bill Griffith channels Carl Thomas Anderson.

Venn reading
All OCA Henry posts : Henry and Zippy posts : Zippy posts (Pinboard)

“A Dance to Shpring”

Patrick McDonnell channels Jules Feiffer.

Related reading
All OCA Mutts posts (Pinboard)

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Today’s Newsday Saturday

Today’s Newsday  Saturday crossword, by Matthew Sewell, is not an exceptionally difficult puzzle, but I have to remind myself: it’s a Themeless Saturday, not a Saturday Stumper. The puzzle was a pleasure to solve, with lively fill and a few tricky spots, particularly in the southwest corner, where I was sure I must have had something wrong. But I didn’t. It’s strange fun to get the puzzle right without knowing why. I think of it as the crossword equivalent of “Bank error in your favor.” Okay, if you say so.

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

2-D, nine letters, “Breaking the host’s bowl, for example.” Takes me back, or forward, to the world of hosts and guests.

6-D, seven letters, “Hard seltzer category.” It’s only hard seltzer, but the answer sounds so lowdown to me. The reason is in the comments.

7-D, seven letters, “White pet cited by Aristotle.” I think mentioned might be more accurate. I’m not sure what it might have said in Greek.

16-A, ten letters, “Scrooge, to Dewey or Louie.” So that’s what he is.

22-A, four letters, “Dollywood group.” I heard it from a customer-service person on the phone the other day and loved it.

44-A, twelve letters, “Real dilemma.” Simultaneously lively and dowdy.

56-A, four letters, “Not a long range.” The answer made me think I must have made a mistake.

58-D, three letters, “Nickname for a Genesis patriarch namesake.” Nicely unexpected.

My favorite clue in this puzzle:

46-A, five letters, “It depends on oral interpretation.” So clever. And even after filling in an answer, which I thought couldn’t be right, I didn’t get the point, not right away.

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, March 19, 2021

“One rancid corn dog”

[“Herb Caen Was My Co-Pilot!” Zippy, March 19, 2021. Click for a more nostalgic view.]

That’s a Doggie Diner dog head, dreaming of 1970s San Francisco. The head is a familiar element in Zippy, as is M. Proust. In 2007, Zippy visited Proust’s grave in Père Lachaise.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts : Proust and Zippy posts : Zippy posts (Pinboard)

Acorn 7

Acorn, an image editor for macOS, just received a major update. For a limited time, Acorn is available for $19.99, half the regular price. I just updated, and the new Acorn 7 looks great. One big improvement: the floating palettes that popped up all over the screen are gone, replaced by a single window with a toolbar. But a choosy user can have it the old way too.

My only connection to Acorn is that of a happy and enthusiastic user. I like the free app Seashore too, but for some tasks, it has to be Acorn.

Recently updated

#Sedition3PTruck Chris Miller has been censured by the Illinois House.


A chilling episode of the podcast Criminal : “If it ever happens, run,” an account of an 1898 coup in Wilmington, North Carolina. Draw your own parallels.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Proustian music

“Two new compact disks, both of them more or less perfect and charming, evoke the ambience of the Proustian musicale”: in The New Yorker, Alex Ross reviews recordings by Steven Isserlis and Connie Shih, and Théotime Langlois de Swarte and Tanguy de Williencourt.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

[But disk, New Yorker ? Really?]

Instant Hallmark

Turn mealtime into a Hallmark movie. For instance, while eating a blueberry muffin:

“Cancel the Blueberry Festival?! Berry Hollow wouldn’t be Berry Hollow without the Festival!”

Work and fame

One piece of advice:

“Work, achieve renown,” he said to me.
That’s Charles Morel, violinist, speaking to the narrator of In Search of Lost Time, who’s said that he finally wants to get to the work of writing. “Who’s that from?” the narrator asks. “From Fontanes, to Chateaubriand.”

Another piece of advice:
Work your ass off to change the language & dont ever get famous.
That’s from “Experiments,” a list of writing practices compiled by Bernadette Mayer and members of a St. Mark’s Church Poetry Workshop.

Sources: Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah, trans. John Sturrock (New York: Penguin, 2005). Bernadette Mayer et al., “Experiments,” in In the American Tree, ed. Ron Silliman (Orono, ME: National Poetry Foundation, 1986).

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

[Translator’s note: “‘Work, work, my dear friend, achieve renown.’ Chateaubriand cites the words as having been written to him in 1798, by the Marquis Louis de Fontanes (1757–1821), a mediocre writer with whom he had become friendly during his exile in England.”]

Sardines in film

[John Kellogg as Dan Monroe, newspaper reporter. From Tomorrow Is Another Day (dir. Felix E. Feist, 1951). Click for a larger view.]

Some reporter. He’s eyeing an ex-con and missing the big story: a sardine sandwich, only 25¢. There’s a tiny “¢” next to “25.”

Related reading
All OCA sardine posts (Pinboard)

Typewriters in film

A short marvel of imagination and editing, by Ariel Avissar: The Typewriter (supercut).

Mike Brown at Oddments of High Unimportance passed on the link, found in Sameer Vasta’s newsletter Weekend Reading: Flashing Palely in the Margins. Thanks, Mike and Sameer.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021


When I hear the word performative on the news, I think back to graduate school, where I spent considerable time thinking and writing about speech-act theory. In speech-act theory, the word performative is both noun and adjective. Performatives, or performative utterances, are statements that satisfy these conditions:

A. they do not “describe” or “report” or constate anything at all, are not “true or false”; and

B. the uttering of the sentence is, or is a part of, the doing of an action, which again would not normally be described as, or as “just,” saying something.

J.L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words, 2nd. ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975).
“I bet you a nickel,” “I bequeath you one thin dime”: given the appropriate circumstances, to say it (or write it) is to do it. That’s a short explanation of performative utterances.

Performative as an adjective invoked on the news is quite different. Here is Merriam-Webster’s definition:
disapproving : made or done for show (as to bolster one’s own image or make a positive impression on others).
A Merriam-Webster citation, from Alia E. Dastigir:
But when expressing outrage is as easy as posting a hashtag, a meme, or an empty black square, there’s a question of whether that outrage is genuine or performative.
So in speech-act terms, a performative is a statement that does something. In current everyday use, performative describes a statement that pretends to do something, that is merely a performance, that substitutes for doing anything of substance. One can of course bet or bequeath merely to bolster one’s image or make a positive impression. Still, such a bet or bequest is genuine, unless the bettor or bequeather is acting in bad faith. But something “made or done for show” is inherently ungenuine, not a matter of commitment to one’s statement, not a matter of obligation to another person (as a bet or bequest must be). It’s only an attempt to convince another of something about one’s self. Look at me: see how good I am?

Thus performative has become what H.W. Fowler’s Modern English Usage calls a “worsened word,” a formerly neutral or commendatory word that has acquired a pejorative meaning. Alas, that shift makes perfect sense when discourse, of all sorts, is too often a form of cheap performance. (Cue some senator reading Dr. Seuss.) One might imagine a book about the role of such performance in our politics. I bet it would do well.

A related post
Dear Abby and J.L. Austin

[“Worsened words” is an entry in the second edition of Modern English Usage, revised and edited by Sir Ernest Gowers. Among Gowers’s examples of worsened words: academic, epithet. Please notice that my “I bet” is not a performative. It’s a way I stating what I would anticipate. No stakes, no taker of a bet.]

Chess 1024

Chess in 1024 bytes: The Kilobyte’s Gambit. Two tips: 1. The opponent is highly aggressive. 2. It’s easy to mistake bishops for pawns.

St. Patrick’s Day in the comics

In ones that I read anyway: The Far Side is all green and Irish. Hi and Lois is all alcohol and Lucky Charms. (So tasteful.) Mark Trail is all four-leaf clovers. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

[The name Leddy is Irish.]

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

“The roads were not lit”

Traveling through the dark to Mme Verdurin’s rented retreat, La Raspelière. The travelers are in carriages, after a train ride. What’s out there?

Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah, trans. John Sturrock (New York: Penguin, 2005).

The hours are “nocturnal, pastoral, and marine” because it’s night, away from cities, on the coast. Why a “double sash” and “double journey”? That’s traveling through the dark and back again. The “double sash” of darkness alters the character of the social world of light. “The darkness sur- / rounds us,” as Robert Creeley wrote, and I think of every soirée in the Proust world as an unconscious attempt to stave off the darkness. There’s great poignance in the image of these salonistes again and again assembling at railway stations to board a train, travel to a station, and climb into the waiting carriages. And then they cimb back into the waiting carriages, travel back to the same station, and board the train to go home, in darkness once more.

Even without trains and carriages, anyone who’s driven to visit a friend who lives in a remote rural spot should have an idea of what it’s like to step into a bright household after an at least semi-mysterious darkness. What’s out there?

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

[Sash? It’s écharpe, scarf. Nothing to do with double sash windows, nothing to do with (my first guess) heraldry.]

Meta doghouse

[Peanuts, March 19, 1974. Click for a larger view.]

Some context: Peppermint Patty has refused to go to school. She’s “the only kid in the history of education to have a straight ‘Z’ average,” she says. The final insult: a teacher criticized her lunch: “She said I had too many doughnuts and not enough carrots.” Peppermint Patty is just going to sit atop Snoopy’s doghouse: “He never had any education, and he’s done all right!”

Look carefully at that doghouse: it’s made of one wall and one side of a roof. Charles Schulz did, in earlier years, offer foreshortened views of Snoopy’s home, but the standard view became one wall and one side of a roof. On March 19 and March 20, 1974, Schulz showed the reader a meta doghouse, or guest cottage, a two-dimensional form rendered in three dimensions.

Yesterday’s Peanuts is today’s Peanuts.

Related reading
All OCA Peanuts posts (Pinboard) : Snoopy ceramic tile

Monday, March 15, 2021

Twelve movies

[One to four stars. Four sentences each. No spoilers.]

The Shadow on the Window (dir. William Asher, 1957). An unusual dramatic role for Betty Garrett as Linda Atlas, a freelance secretary, held captive by thugs in the farmhouse where she’s gone to do some work. Her son Petey (Jerry Mathers) looks in a window, sees what’s happening, and runs off, traumatized into muteness. Linda’s estranged husband Tony (Phil Carey) is a police detective: can he find his wife before it’s too late? Genuinely suspenseful and sometimes brutal, with John Barrymore Jr. as the thugs’ ringleader, and Corey Allen (Buzz from Rebel Without a Cause) as an obedient second. ★★★★


When Tomorrow Comes (dir. John M. Stahl, 1939). Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne are ill-fated lovers: he is a concert pianist, internationally known; she, a waitress dedicated to union organizing. Their relationship can only be a brief encounter — but why? The story is told with an understated tact that respects each character’s truth. My favorite scenes: the organ loft, and the final seconds. ★★★★


Interlude (dir. Douglas Sirk, 1957). A remake of When Tomorrow Comes, with a German-Italian orchestra conductor (Rossano Brazzi) and an American in Munich (June Allyson). I’d dare anyone to watch both movies and prefer this one. It’s partly the dopey ending, and it’s partly the landscapes and gaudy interiors, which swamp the human element, but it’s also partly the human element itself: June Allyson’s character seems like a dull (English-only!) naïf abroad; it’s difficult to understand what a big-time conductor might see in her beyond a malleable fan. Look for Jane Wyatt as a hyper officer manager. ★★


Crack-Up (dir. Irving Reis, 1946). “All right, all right, I’m psychopathic!” A storyline that baffles almost to the end, with Pat O’Brien oddly cast as a museum curator who gives folksy, friendly lectures on art. His life begins to go wrong when he’s in a horrific train wreck. But was he even on the train? With Ray Collins, Herbert Marshall, Erskine Sanford, and Claire Trevor, and, in my imagination, perhaps Basil Rathbone in the starring role. ★★★


Broken Strings (dir. Bernard B. Ray, 1940). Clarence Muse stars as Arthur Williams, an acclaimed classical violinist with contempt for all things swing. When his left hand is injured in an auto accident, his children take to the stage in a nightspot playing — gasp — swing music to raise money for an operation. The movie shows an all-Black world of accomplished, sophisticated men and women: executives, secretaries, booking agents, radio producers, and, above all, musicians. Watch for Matthew “Stymie” Beard as a crafty young violinist and Elliott Carpenter, an extraordinary pianist and, here, emcee. ★★★

[Clarence Muse, a star here, plays a Pullman porter in the early minutes of Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt.]


The Longest Night (dir. Errol Taggart, 1936). With a running time of fifty-six minutes, it’s not the longest night, but it is a slog. Robert Young is the heir to a department store that employs two lovely sisters played by Florence Rice and Eve Sutton. There’s something funny going on with stolen goods, and all sorts of other funny stuff too. The best thing about this movie: the chance to see a studio recreation of a 1930s department store. ★★


Sweet Smell of Success (dir. Alexander Mackendrick, 1957). For anyone who’s never seen it: a press agent is given the job of breaking up the relationship between a newspaper columnist’s sister (Susan Harrison) and a rising jazz musician (Martin Milner). Tony Curtis as press agent Sidney Falco and Burt Lancaster as columnist J.J. Hunsecker are outstanding, the one a sycophantic Michael Cohen, the other a Donald Trump** plotting to destroy anyone in his way. “Tell him that, like yourself, he’s got the scruples of a guinea pig and the morals of a gangster,” another columnist says to Falco. Great Manhattan street scenes, a great score by Elmer Bernstein and Fred Katz, and great cinematography by James Wong Howe. ★★★★


Dementia (dir. John Parker, 1955). No dialogue, just music, sound effects, occasional screams, and maniacal laughter. A young woman, the Gamin (Adrienne Barrett) wanders through a nightmarish world of mean streets, threatened by a wino and a lecher, seduced by a rich man, terrifed by a scene of childhood trauma. I’m subtracting a star for the loss of momentum when Shorty Rogers and His Giants take over for an extended interlude of West Coast jazz. This Criterion Channel offering would pair well with Carnival of Souls (dir. Herk Harvey, 1962) for stylish low-budget strangeness. ★★★


Cast a Dark Shadow (dir. Lewis Gilbert, 1955). Everything about this movie (from the play Murder Mistaken by Janet Green) is meant to make its viewer profoundly uneasy. Dirk Bogarde plays Edward “Teddy” Bare, a louche young man married to a much older woman (Mona Washburne). Enter a feisty wealthy widow (Margaret Lockwood) and a househunter (Kay Walsh), each of whom brings complications to the story. It’s more drawing-room drama than film noir, with further complications that the movie only hints at: why is Edward reading a muscle magazine while sitting in a café? ★★★★


The Steamroller and the Violin (dir. Andrei Tarkovksy, 1961). The title suggests, to me, anyway, a moment of grotesque slapstick destruction, but there’s nothing like that at all. This short student film from a renowned director (whose work I don’t know at all) shows the unlikely friendship of a fatherless boy violinist and a steamroller operator. Around the edges: a mother, a would-be girlfriend, a music teacher, and feral bullies. Some beautiful moments of filmmaking: reflections on water, the steamroller rolling across a nearly empty screen. ★★★★


Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (dir. Albert Lewin, 1951). As weird as it gets: on the Spanish coast, a beautiful woman from Indianapolis, Pandora Reynolds (Ava Gardner), meets Hendrik van der Zee (James Mason), the Flying Dutchman (a man, not a ship), condemned to sail the world until he finds a woman who will die for him. Dazzling Technicolor scenery on the coast of Spain adds value, and a bullfighting subplot makes the story something of a bizarre cross between ancient myth, modern legend, and The Sun Also Rises. My greatest difficulty amid all the weirdness: Ava Gardner is not an especially good actor, certainly not good enough to sustain the weight of this story. ★★


Killer’s Kiss (dir Stanley Kubrick, 1955). So artful, so stylized, right down to the last minutes in Penn Station. A triangle of love, sex, and violence, with a washed-up fighter, Davey Gordon (Jamie Smith); the taxi-dancer who lives across the courtyard; Gloria Price (Irene Kane); and a brutal dancehall owner, Vinnie Rapallo (Frank Silvera). Eddie Muller calls the movie disjointed, but I prefer to think of it in terms of Umberto Eco’s characterization of a cult object: “one must be able to break, dislocate, unhinge it so that one can remember only parts of it, irrespective of their original relationship with the whole.” Thus Gloria at the mirror, Davey in the dark with a can of beer, the ballet story, Vinnie watching the fights on TV as he mauls Gloria, the prankish Shiners, the long staircase, the gladiators in the mannequin factory. ★★★★

Related reading
All OCA film posts (Pinboard)

Euphemism in higher ed

From NBC News, the evasive version:

Administrators at Duke University ordered all undergraduate students to stay in place for one week to contain a growing coronavirus outbreak connected to “recruitment parties for selective living groups,” according to an all-campus communication.

From The Washington Post, a franker version:
School spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said in a statement that the new cases “are almost all linked to unsanctioned fraternity recruitment events that took place off campus” and are “the direct result of individual behavior in violation of Duke’s requirements for in-person activity.”

“Selective living groups,” sheesh. But even the franker version is a tad evasive, substituting events for parties. O colledge.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

DST Proust

Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah, trans. John Sturrock (New York: Penguin, 2005).

As I began reading this sentence, I wondered if I was about to read about DST, which, to my surprise, did exist in Proust’s lifetime.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

[DST is a dodge, so that I don’t have to write daylight-saving time and look like a pedant because of the hyphen.]

Saturday, March 13, 2021


On Friday, March 13, 2020, my life on pause began. Elaine and I went out to eat at our favorite restaurant that night (Thai food) and made a quick run to the supermarket, where I took a photo of an aisle emptied of paper towels and toilet paper. I remember that empty aisle as a sign of strange times. We then drove to play music for services at the Jewish community center (I’m just a fellow traveler) and made a fast exit before the oneg. These were pre-mask times, and I remember how uneasy I felt that night sitting in a restaurant and looking around at the other tables. I remember how uneasy I felt everywhere.

On March 14 I wrote in my datebook: “Inside the house as of today.” Well, more or less. One or the other of us has gone to get take-out from our Thai restaurant every Friday (minus the weeks when they’ve closed for holidays). We’ve shopped for groceries every two weeks, or, now, every three. We’ve made three stocking-up trips to our nearby “beverage depot” (read liquor store). And thank goodness for beverage depots. We played music for friends on Play on Your Porch Day (everyone masked and distanced). We marched in a Black Lives Matter march. We made an urgent, unexpected day-long drive to New Jersey to bring my mom to Illinois to move into an assisted-living residence and did all the necessary legwork to make that move happen. And we’ve taken a walk nearly every day, weather permitting.

It’s been a year of without: without bookstores, without concerts, without movies, without museums, and, most acutely, without our children and grandchildren in three dimensions. But we have ourselves and we have our lives. When we were walking today, I was listening to a This American Life segment about vaccination, and I thought about how many people aren’t here now, as I am, waiting for a shot.

On March 13 last year we made it home a little after 9:00. Now, as then, I am inside in the house.

Give ’em an inch . . .

. . . and they’ll take a foot.

[As seen on Twitter.]

It’s a Los Angeles thing. Specifically, a Silver Lake thing. It has to do with feet, or a foot, not guns.

Thanks, Rachel.

Related reading
The Foot Clinic sign (With in-person photos) : Leaving Silver Lake : A new home

Today’s Newsday  Saturday

Today’s Newsday  Saturday crossword, by Greg Johnson, is not quite a Stumper, but it’s a satisfying puzzle. A distinctive feature: a pair of fifteen-letter answers, 7-D and 34-A, both clued as “Start of some feedback loops.” That’s delightful, and it’s appropriate that getting one of these answers gets you the other.

I started by taking a guess at 3-D, eight letters, “Purple-haired star with an ‘Ab Fab’ film cameo,” which gave me 1-A, four letters, “39 Down’s evildoer,” which in turn gave me 39-D, three letters, “Much-translated author, initially.” And I was off. The sticky wicket for me was 15-A, six letters, “Guinea pig resembler.” Those critters must be really good spellers.

Along with 7-D and 34-A, I found many delightful clues and novel (in my experience) answers. Some of what I especially liked:

21-D, eight letters, “Homemade Philly sandwich slice.” I haven’t thought of it, or them, in years. Surprisingly tasty, at least in memory.

22-A, four letters, “Guy in Parliament.” Not Fawkes.

24-A, nine letters, “Flee.” Nicely dowdy.

36-D, eight letters, “Hotel management figure.” The misdirection worked.

38-D, eight letters, “‘Look here.’” I first heard these words as argumentative, but I had misdirected myself.

42-A, three letters, “HAPPIER TO SEE ___ (POPEYE THE SAILOR anagram).” Crazy! I can imagine Popeye saying “You compleek me.” Or something like that.

51-D, five letters, “_____ a good one!’ (playwright pun).” It’s a good one, and a good way to redeem a bit of crosswordese.

54-D, four letters, “Inedible waffle.” Food for thought.

My favorite clue in this puzzle: 64-A, six letters, “Distance between landings at Heathrow.”

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, March 12, 2021

FML in colledge

A student at my university attended a party in violation of COVID-19 protocols, an unmasked off-campus party to mark “Unofficial” — that is, Unofficial Saint Patrick’s Day. After testing positive for COVID-19, he posted a photograph of his test result to Snapchat with the caption “FML” — that is, “Fuck My Life.”

What a perfect me-centric way of seeing the situation. Never mind the friends or housemates or family members or community members he may have already infected. Never mind that he may have been the student who brought the virus to the party and infected others.

Well, that’s life in colledge.

Related posts
College, anyone? : Colledge signage : Homeric blindness in colledge

[I’m revealing nothing private here; this incident is public news. And colledge is not a typo.]

Hamlet, revised

Robert Saint-Loup has no interest in meeting M. and Mme Verdurin and company: “I find that kind of clerical circle exasperating,” he tells the narrator. Saint-Loup sees the Verdurins and company as “a small sect,” kind to those on the inside, contemptuous of everyone else. An apt comparision, as the Verdurins refer to their salon regulars as “the faithful.”

Listen to Saint-Loup, unnamed narrator:

Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah, trans. John Sturrock (New York: Penguin, 2005).

Anyone in academia has known such sects. They may be found in the ranks of both grad students and faculty. Sometimes they think of themselves not as a sect but as a “set.” I tend to call them “the anointed.” I never was one of them, nor was meant to be.

My friend Aldo Carrasco once mocked a grad school “set” in a letter: “They’re all too busy buying Entenmann’s cake for each other to read anything aloud.” Sometimes it was cookies.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

[“Kind to those on the inside”: and even that’s not true. Ask M. Saniette.]

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Signed today

President Joe Biden has signed the American Rescue Plan into law. Some context from Heather Cox Richardson:

Rather than focusing on dismantling the federal government and turning individuals loose to act as they wish, Congress has returned to the principles of the nation before 1981, using the federal government to support ordinary Americans. With its expansion of the child tax credit, the bill is projected to reach about 27 million children and to cut child poverty in half.

The bill, which President Biden is expected to sign Friday, is a landmark piece of legislation, reversing the trend of American government since Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cut. Rather than funneling money upward in the belief that those at the top will invest in the economy and thus create jobs for poorer Americans, the Democrats are returning to the idea that using the government to put money into the hands of ordinary Americans will rebuild the economy from the bottom up. This was the argument for the very first expansion of the American government—during Abraham Lincoln’s administration — and it was the belief on which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the New Deal.

Unlike the previous implementations of this theory, though, Biden’s version, embodied in the American Rescue Plan, does not privilege white men (who in Lincoln and Roosevelt’s day were presumed to be family breadwinners). It moves money to low-wage earners generally, especially to women and to people of color. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) called the child tax credit “a new lifeline to the middle class.” “Franklin Roosevelt lifted seniors out of poverty, 90 percent of them with Social Security, and with the stroke of a pen,” she said. “President Biden is going to lift millions and millions of children out of poverty in this country.”
It’s a good day.

A missing person

Yet another social gathering, this time at Mme Verdurin’s salon, home of “the faithful,” “the little clan,” and occasional visitors.

Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah, trans. John Sturrock (New York: Penguin, 2005).

The Norwegian philosopher, we are told, speaks French very well but very slowly. He also knows how to leave a gathering of some size: “The fact was that he had vanished without anyone having had the time to notice, like a god.” I’d say that he had the good sense to get out. Perhaps the narrator will follow his example.

I have long thought of such a departure as an Irish goodbye. I had wanted to make a joke about the philosopher being fluent in French and Irish, but I just learned that the Irish goodbye is also known as the Dutch leave, the French exit, and French leave. And in French, one might filer à l’anglaise.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

[One reason the philosopher appears in the novel, aside from the comedy of his disappearance: he’s described as having recounted to the narrator, perhaps reliably, Henri Bergson’s thinking about memory and hypnotics.]

Wednesday, March 10, 2021


A confusing chyron on The 11th Hour just now:


“State Street Rag”

Thinking about guitar and mandolin duets, I thought of this recording:

[“State Street Rag” (Bogan–Armstrong). Louie Bluie (Howard Armstrong), mandolin; Ted Bogan, guitar. Recorded in 1934).]

On the flip side, “Ted’s Stomp” (Bogan–Armstrong), for violin and guitar.

Notice that the illustration accompanying the recording is by Howard Armstrong. For more of his life, music, and visual art, see Terry Zwigoff’s 1985 documentary Louie Bluie.

Small pleasures

From Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (dir. Albert Lewin, 1951). We watched this movie last night. Pandora Reynolds (Ava Gardner) inquires of Stephen Cameron (Nigel Patrick):

“What is today’s date, Stephen?”

“March the ninth.”
[No. 5 in a series.]

Yazoo Zippy, sort of

In today’s Zippy, Bill Griffith pays tribute to his great-grandfather, the painter and photographer William Henry Jackson. I knew there was something familiar about this image of two musicians.

[“Picture Maker.” Zippy, March 10, 2021. Click for a larger view.]

Of course: another Jackson photograph from this depot scene appears (uncredited) on the cover on the 1972 Yazoo LP Blues From The Western States 1927–1949 (L-1032). Here’s that photograph: Waiting for the Sunday Boat. You can see the album cover in this illustrated Yazoo discography. And here’s the photograph Griffith captures in today’s strip: True Lovers of the Muse.


Later in the day: I just discovered an earlier glimpse of True Lovers of the Muse on page 5 of Griffith’s Invisible Ink: My Mother’s Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist (2015), where the artist depicts himself examining the photograph with a magnifying glass.

Related reading
All OCA Zippy posts (Pinboard)

[Orange Crate Art, footnoting the comics since whenever.]

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Louis Stettner in Penn Station

An online exhibition from the Tibor de Nagy Gallery: Louis Stettner’s The Penn Station Series (1958), twenty black-and-white photographs.

Would pair well with Walker Evans’s 1938–1941 subway photographs (collected under the title Many Are Called). Also with Stanley Kubrick’s 1946 photographs in New York subways. And with his film Killer’s Kiss (1955), which begins and ends in Penn Station. And with Aaron Rose’s photographs documenting the destruction of Penn Station.

“Paradises lost”

Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah, trans. John Sturrock (New York: Penguin, 2005).

This idea reappears in Finding Time Again: “les vrais paradis sont les paradis qu’on a perdus.”

The large and ordinary world as I knew it before March 2020 feels like that paradise right now.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

[Ian Patterson’s translation in Finding Time Again: “the only true paradise is a paradise that we have lost.”]