Thursday, September 30, 2021

Uh-oh, Safari 15

There appear to be many good reasons not to upgrade to Safari 15 for Mac (Michael Tsai).

I tried 15 via Safari Technology Preview (described here). To my eyes, 15 looks ghastly. I’ll stay with 14 or, if need be, switch to Brave or another browser. (But not Chrome.)

Franz Kafka, artist

“Drawing and sketching extensively before he published a single word”: “Kafka, the Artist” (Los Angeles Review of Books). With a link to the National Library of Israel’s online archive of Kafka drawings and manuscripts.

Related reading
All OCA Kafka posts (Pinboard)


“Today’s Tedium is looking at Yikes! pencils, one the 1990s most iconic school supplies, and how a notorious fat substitute indirectly helped its creation”: “Yikes! You Call That a Pencil?”

Thanks to Mike Brown at Oddments of High Unimportance.

Block that metaphor

On CNN, a healthcare worker who refuses to get vaccinated for COVID-19 speaks:

“I believe that the fabric of our truly free, civilized society is at a precipice.”
Related reading
All OCA metaphor posts (Pinboard)

Recently updated

Makin’ whoop Now with a surprising pre-millennial whoop.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Starring Joe Namath et al.

[Click for a wider and longer play.]

This dramolette (a word I’ve borrowed from Robert Walser) draws on commercials that play incessantly on MSNBC and the PBS NewsHour, with Joe Namath, Jimmie Walker, George Foreman and family, Tom Selleck, and the “Change in plans!” guy.

A related post
“Change in plans!”

One of some

[Nancy, January 10, 1955. Click for larger rocks.]

In “today’s” Nancy, Herman owes Sluggo a dollar, so Sluggo is being solicitous about his friend’s well-being. I like it that even “that big rock” is one of some.

“Some rocks” are an abiding preoccupation of these pages.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Hi and Lois watch

In today’s Hi and Lois, the talk has shifted to “the new series on Netflix.” “I thought this was a book club,” sniffs Lois.

[Hi and Lois, September 28, 2021. Click for a larger view.]

The third hand from the left: is it on Lois’s leg? I don’t think so. I think there must have been a problem with the instructions for the assembly of today’s strip. Or to say it less fancifully: the colorist messed up.

[Hi and Lois, September 28, 2021, labeled by me. Click for a larger view.]

I think that Part A, or at least part of Part A, is really the arm of the middle character’s chair and should be green. Part B is Lois’s other pant leg and should be blue. I think.

As for figuring out the oddly shaped book in Lois’s lap: I give up.

[Click for a larger view.]


6:08 p.m.: I think I have it: the small brown and white patches should be green. They form the arm of Lois’s chair in partial profile.

Related reading
All OCA Hi and Lois posts (Pinboard)

[Is there such a dearth of imagination at Hi-Lo Amalgamated that all three characters must wear pants of the same or nearly the same color? Maybe it’s the club uniform.]

Domestic comedy

[Of a pizzicato passage in an orchestral work, requiring that bows be placed on laps.]

“Aren’t they afraid their bows will fall?”

“Not the people with no-problem laps.”

Elaine’s fix for the problem-lap problem is putting a dent into the Internets this morning. One of her readers has named the fix the lap-stop.

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

Monday, September 27, 2021

Twelve movies

[One to four stars. Four sentences each. No spoilers. Sources: Criterion Channel, TCM, YouTube.]

Double Jeopardy (dir. R.G. Springsteen, 1955). The story begins with a hapless drunk (Robert Armstrong) and his two-timing wife (Gale Robbins), then shifts abruptly to the digs of a posh executive (John Litel), his daughter (Allison Hayes), and her fiancé, who is also the executive’s lawyer (Rod Cameron). A blackmail scheme links the two worlds. The most interesting thing about the movie: the near-look-alike couples on the two sides of the class divide, Hayes and Cameron, and Robbins and her used-car salesman boyfriend (Jack Kelly). ★★ (YT)


Cloudburst (dir. Francis Searle, 1951). John Graham (Robert Preston), a Canadian cryptographer working for British intelligence, seeks vengeance for his wife’s death in a hit-and-run accident. I liked the scenes of the code room, with men and women toiling away with primitive tools (paper and pencil). And I liked seeing Robert Preston (!) playing a character bent on killing those who have wronged him, whatever the consequences. And I liked the British emphasis on duty that, finally, takes over the story. ★★★★ (YT)


Deep Valley (dir. Jean Negulesco, 1947). Ida Lupino is Libby Saul, a young woman living with her estranged parents (Fay Bainter, Henry Hull) in rural isolation and poverty. Libby is damaged: she’s spoken with a stutter ever since she saw her father hit her mother, and there’s at least a hint that she’s been the target of someone’s unwelcome advances. Into Libby’s life comes an escaped convict (Dane Clark) — and love. A variation on High Sierra (which paired Lupino with Humphrey Bogart), with great performances by the two principals, beautiful contrasts of light and darkness by cinematographer Ted McCord, and a particularly bitter kind of tragedy in the ending. ★★★★ (YT)


Lizzie (dir. Hugo Haas, 1957). From a novel by Shirley Jackson, who, despite what you might read at IMDb, was not unhappy with the movie. Eleanor Parker is Elizabeth Richmond, a quiet, asocial museum employee receiving threatening notes signed “Lizzie.” Figuring out who Lizzie is requires the uncovering of what Elizabeth’s psychiatrist (Richard Boone) calls “multiple or disintegrated personalities” and the exploration of very dark territory in Elizabeth’s childhood. A brave film of modest proportions, released several months before The Three Faces of Eve, with great shots inside the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, two songs by Johnny Mathis (huh?), and only occasionally appropriate comic relief from Joan Blondell as Elizabeth’s aunt and director Haas as a platonic pal next door. ★★★ (YT)


Knock on Any Door (dir. Nicholas Ray, 1949). “Live fast, die young, and have a good-looking corpse”: so says Nick Romano (John Derek), a young punk on trial for murdering a policeman, defended by a lawyer (Humphrey Bogart) who takes a special interest in his case, prosecuted by a vengeful DA (George Macready, with lighting and camera angles forever accenting the vicious scar on his right cheek). The courtroom histrionics go on too long, and the movie’s resolution is disappointing in its obviousness. Look for Jimmy Conlin (of a zillion movies), Sid Melton (The Danny Thomas Show), Allene Roberts (The Red House), Houseley Stevenson (Dark Passage), and in a nightspot, in the distance, at a piano, Dooley Wilson. ★★★ (CC)


The Case of the Howling Dog (dir. Alan Crosland, 1934). Perry Mason makes his screen debut as the head of large legal operation, with two switchboard operators, countless secretaries, and detectives and sous-lawyers galore. As Mason, Warren William is sharp, suave, and underhanded. His relationship with Della Street (Helen Trenholme) might be filed under F, for Friends with Benefits. Our household gave up on trying to follow the (bewildering) plot early on and enjoyed the clothes, the furniture, the presence of Mary Astor, and a wild scene in which a radio playing the song “Dames” is the background music for a murder. ★★ (TCM)


The Seventh Victim (dir. Mark Robson, 1943). Still one of the strangest movies I’ve ever seen. Two years after a first and only viewing, I was surprised by how many scenes I could anticipate. Perhaps the strangest one this time around: the noisy crowd of actors, still in costume, exiting a theater and making their way to a tavern. The eeriest: the abrupt, startling ending. ★★★★ (TCM)


Whirlpool (dir. Otto Preminger, 1950). The Laura overtones are strong — Gene Tierney’s presence, a portrait on a wall (though not of Tierney), a disembodied voice playing on a sound system at the movie’s end — but it’s a very different story, focusing on relationships between a scheming astrologer/hypnotist (José Ferrer) and his former and present clients (Barbara O’Neil, Tierney). Richard Conte is not entirely convincing as a psychoanalyst; Charles Bickford is entirely convincing as a police detective. ★★★★ (YT)


Backfire (dir. Vincent Sherman, 1950). A mysterious visitor (Viveca Lindfors) comes to a hospital to tell Bob Corey (Gordon MacRae), a WWII vet recovering from surgery, that his friend from the service, Steve Connolly (Edmond O’Brien), is in pain and peril. As Bob questions people to find out what happened to Steve and where he can be found, the movie moves from one flashback to another. And in present time, one person after another is being knocked off by a mysterious assailant. With Ed Begley, Dane Clark, Virginia Mayo, and other possibly familiar faces. ★★★ (TCM)


Craig’s Wife (dir. Dorothy Arzner, 1936). From a 1925 play by George Kelly. Rosalind Russell is Walter Craig’s wife Harriet, a woman intent on exercising panoptic control over her husband (John Boles) and her household servants (including Jane Darwell). A cold, terrifying picture of a marriage. Keep your eye on the vase. ★★★★ (YT)


Harriet Craig (dir. Vincent Sherman, 1950). Now with Joan Crawford and Wendell Corey as Harriet and Walter, in an even darker picture of a marriage. This time Ellen Corby is among the servants. Lucile Watson provides welcome relief as a party guest, cheating at cards and, later, telling an important truth. Hard question: to what extent, if any, do these movies invite an audience to feel compassion for Mrs. Craig? ★★★★ (YT)


The Garment Jungle (dir. Vincent Sherman, 1957). Overtones of On the Waterfront: a garment manufacturer (Lee J. Cobb) is determined to keep the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union out of his shop by any means necessary. His son (Kerwin Mathews), who comes back home after several years abroad and is forever a cipher, sees things differently. I was most struck by the performances of Robert Loggia as a pro-union worker, Gia Scala as his worried wife, and Richard Boone (from Lizzie) as what they used to call a legitimate businessman: “Everything for the Needle Trade.” ★★★★ (CC)

Related reading
All OCA movie posts (Pinboard)

Word of the day: furbish

Today’s Zippy has taught me that furbish is a word.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Makin’ whoop

Just wondering who thought it was a good idea to put something close to a millennial whoop in this Sensodyne commercial. That oughta get the kids’ attention!

Far more congenial than the whoop, for me: this recording of “Makin’ Whoopee” (Gus Kahn-Walter Donaldson), by Art Tatum, Lionel Hampton, and Buddy Rich (August 1, 1955). Stay with it.


Here’s a surprising example of a pre-millennial whoop. Thanks, Kevin.

[If what’s in the commercial is a pre-existing song, it’s one Shazam doesn’t recognize.]

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper is by “Anna Stiga,” Stan Again, Stan Newman, the puzzle’s editor, using a pseudonym that signals an easier Stumper. This one was indeed easy. I hesitated with one square, where 44-A, seven letters, “Reality host with 10 Primetime Emmys” crossed the first letter of 45-D, three letters, “Alphabet-enders preceder.” I sang the alphabet song in my head — it was no help. I finally entered the letter I thought had to be right, and it was, and I couldn’t see why. And then I saw why.

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

1-D, five letters, “Word from the Latin for ‘sweet.’” I learned something.

11-D, “Soap substitute brand.” The name brings back my adolescence. I had no idea that this product is still manufactured.

15-A, seven letters, “Have a Bath break.” Just because.

30-A, thirteen letters, “What Robert Louis Stevenson called wine.” It can be that.

35-D, six letters, “Half a Cocoon real-life couple.” I can think of only one real-life couple in Cocoon, with only one six-letter name between them. But the spelling of that name might be difficult for solvers who haven’t seen enough old movies.

38-A, three letters, “Home of the new TWA Hotel.” Spoiler links: everything old is new again.

39-D, five letters, “Dates, e.g.” Neat.

52-A, six letters, “Brewers once worked there.” I found the start of the answer cleverly misdirective.

My favorite clue in today’s puzzle: 20-D, nine letters, “It features Beetle Bailey’s sister.”

The answers are in the comments.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Recently updated

Sardines, a game Now with a little help from the OED.

Sardines, a game

From the Peppa Pig episode “Chloé’s Big Friends” (first aired November 22, 2010). Cousin Chloé’s friends Belinda Bear and Simon Squirrel don’t really want to play what they call “baby games.” They’re almost grownup! And they’ve already sneered at Hide and Seek.

Peppa: “Let’s play another game. Have you ever played Sardines?”

Belinda: “What’s that?”

Chloé: “Someone hides, and we all try to find them.”

Simon: “That sounds like Hide and Seek.”

Chloé: “But when you find them, you keep quiet and hide in the same space until everyone is hiding there.”

Peppa: “Like sardines in a tin!”

I’d never heard of it, but the Internets confirm that Sardines, the game, is a thing.


Later in the day: The Oxford English Dictionary has this definition: “A party game of hide-and-seek, in which each seeker joins the hider upon discovery until one seeker remains. Also sardines-in-the (also a)-box (U.S.).”

The dictionary’s first citation, from Mendell and Meynell’s Weekend Book, says that “Sardines is gaudier still” and goes on to explain the game. (Gaudier than what?) The next citation is more interesting: “‘Hide-and-go-seek’ or ‘sardines-in-the-box’ with all the house thrown open to the game.” From F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925).

Also from Peppa Pig: Edmund Elephant is a clever clogs.

Related reading
All OCA sardine posts (Pinboard)

Two skies

Clifford B. Hicks, Alvin’s Secret Code (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963).

The scudded in that passage has stuck in my head since I first read Alvin’s Secret Code in childhood. Here is another scudded, which I discovered much more recently:

Robert Musil, Young Törless. 1906. Trans. from the German by Mike Mitchell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

Alas, the similarities between the two works end there.

[Are clouds the only things that scud? No. Thanks, Martha.]

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Candy stores

New York City Candy Stores: A Look Back: a short narrative with photographs, at YouTube.

Revery: I remember Mary’s for cap guns, comic books, and water pistols. There was also at least one plastic bust of a composer (Beethoven?) for sale. Picholz’s had a full-fledged soda fountain and a long display of magazines. I think we bought Coke syrup there (for school-day stomach jitters). A third Brooklyn candy store, nameless to me, was a source for charlotte russe. A fourth, also nameless, was a source for pumpkin seeds.

Here, courtesy of the New York City Municipal Archives, is Picholz’s location, 4417 New Utrecht Avenue, circa 1939–1941, then a candy store owned by L. Stoppick. His name is on the awning. A great location, right by the stairs up to the El. Notice the bakery next door offering charolotte russe: 5¢.

[Click for a much larger store.]

L. Stoppick was at this location in 1922.

[The Retail Tobacconist, February 9, 1922.]

I suspect that “fine smoke shop” was a euphemism for “candy store.”

Since at least 2012, 4417 has been home to an Ecuadorian restaurant, Sol de Quito.

[The name Picholz was spoken, never written. I was guessing, but it turns out that I guessed correctly.]

Tinta Azul

I know that one is never supposed to buy wine for the label, especially not a label with a picture of a critter. But Tinta Azul I had to buy for its label. Look: tile work. And the name means “blue ink.”

Tinta Azul is a red blend from Portugal. It has a dark, inky color. But I’d describe the taste as “wet.” It’s nearly tasteless. But the label is just fine.

[My dad was a tile man, floors and walls: Leddy Ceramic Tile.]

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Robert Walser biography

Susan Bernofsky, Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2021. viii + 378 pages. $35.

Translator and, now, biographer Susan Bernofsky’s Clairvoyant of the Small is a brilliant account of Robert Walser’s life, deeply researched, and deeply respectful of its subject, recording Walser’s idiosyncrasies and strangenesses while never reducing him to a condition or attempting a diagnosis in retrospect. The writing is full of inventive turns of phrase along the way, as when Bernofsky describes the inveterate walker Walser’s frequent shifts of residence (she counts sixty-six known addresses between 1878 and 1929) as “a slow-motion real-estate version of walking.” Here is the gist of Walser’s work in one beautiful sentence: “The marginality he celebrates is that of secretly magnificent complexities hiding in plain sight all around us under the guise of the ordinary and small.” A clairvoyant of the small indeed.

For anyone curious about reading Walser in English, I recommend The Walk, from New Directions (Susan Bernofsky’s revision of Christopher Middleton’s translation).

Related reading
All OCA Walser posts (Pinboard)

[The phrase “clairvoyant of the small” comes from Jo Catling’s English translation of W.G. Sebald’s essay about Walser, “Le Promeneur Solitaire,” in A Place in the Country (New York: Modern Library, 2013). Catling gives Sebald’s German: “ein Hellseher im Kleinen,” which borrows from Walser’s “dafür ist es ihm vergönnt gewesen, in seiner kleinen hell zu sehen,” which Catling translates as “he has been granted the gift of farsightedness in his own small world.” Catling notes that “‘Hellsehen’ (‘seeing clearly’) has in German the additional meaning of clairvoyance.”]


Pomotroid is a free Pomodoro timer by Christopher Murphy for Linux, macOS, and Windows. The app marks time with a clock-like ring, red for the Pomodoro, green for the break. On the Mac, the ring sits in the menu bar, tiny and unobtrusive. And on the Mac Pomotroid has a minor display problem that I hope will be fixed.

I still like Flow, but a ring in the menu bar is a nice alternative to watching time run down by the second.

A related post
The Pomodoro Technique Illustrated

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Naming of parts

From The New York Times: “Taking the ‘Shame Part’ Out of Female Anatomy.” The word in question: pudendum. I knew about hysteria, but not pudendum. It’s patriarchy, inscribed in the language of anatomy.

Dip Night

In honor of Only Murders in the Building, tonight is Dip Night: baba ghanoush, hummus, carrot and celery sticks, orange and yellow pepper slices, Kalamata olives, and pita. Viewers of the show will understand. Dip Night is Elaine’s idea, prompted by an abudance of eggplant from a friend’s garden.

Are we alone in this kind of TV-centric whimsy?

A newly identified Van Gogh

Smithsonian magazine reports on a newly identified Vincent van Gogh drawing, made with the simplest materials:

Van Gogh used a carpenter’s pencil to draw the scene on a 19- by 12-inch sheaf of watercolor paper. He finished off lighter parts of the composition by rubbing pellets of bread on the coarse surface, then applied a fixative made from milk and water to better emphasize the dark pencil strokes.
Related reading
All OCA Van Gogh posts (Pinboard)
When to capitalize Van Gogh

One letter, two pages, six points

Today’s installment of Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American should make any right-thinking person’s head spin. It begins with a two-page, six-point memo for stealing a presidential election.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Just One Thing, a podcast

A worthwhile podcast from the BBC: Just One Thing, with Michael Mosley. Each short episode is devoted to one suggestion for better health. Much of the evidence is anecdotal (“I’m sleeping better”), and at least one suggestion (about the superior benefits of short bursts of exercise) has been challenged by more recent research. But any podcast that recommends morning walks, time spent in nature, and the consumption of dark chocolate is all right by me.

Index, A review of

“Like writing and the printed book, indexes created excitement as well as anxiety, just as digital aids do now”: from Anthony Grafton’s review of Dennis Duncan’s Index, A History of the.

More about Index, A History of the on the publisher’s page. The book arrives in the States next February.

Thanks to Gunther at Lexikaliker for letting me know about this book.

[My favorite index: that of Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire. Gunther tells me it’s mentioned in Duncan's book.]

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Recently updated

Pinboard tags They appear to be working again.

Idol worship

“What would you do if I didn’t exist, Little Zippy?” “I’d have to invent you!!” [Zippy, September 19, 2021. Click for a larger view.]

In today’s Zippy, Little Zippy has spotted a statue on the sidewalk. He brings it home in a red wagon. Purpose: “I’m going to idolize you!”

Venn reading
All OCA Nancy posts : Nancy and Zippy posts : Zippy posts

[And for anyone who needs to know: Bill Griffith has a biography of Ernie Bushmiller in the works.]


[Photograph by me. Click for larger turtles.]

The nearest faraway place for our household right now is a trail around a lake.

See also this heron and Little Baby Turtle Who Would Not Brush His Teeth.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper, by Greg Johnson, is a fun, fast puzzle. 1-A, ten letters, “Slowdown en route”: that looks like a giveaway. 1-D, five letters, “Convention of dramatists”: can the answer be that obvious? 2-D, five letters, “Come loose”: this one too? 4-D, five letters, “UK’s best-selling female album artist of the century”: uh, yes, pretty obvious. Anyone who fears the Stumper should try today’s puzzle as an opportunity to build up the chops. Contra 63-A, it is.

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

4-D, nine letters, “Boss doing training and fighting.” 33-A had me thinking in the wrong direction.

12-D, nine letters, “Many Greek-made planters.” Ah, so that’s what they are.

15-A, ten letters, “Prime-time fare of old.” How old?

16-A, four letters, “‘Rudolph . . .’ rhyme for ‘history.’” Why was it so hard for me to reverse-engineer the lyrics?

39-A, four letters, “It’s a swell thing.” That’s a swell clue.

51-D, five letters, “They’re often seen on greens.” BACONBITS won’t fit.

58-A, three letters, “It’s seen at the end of A Beautiful Mind.” Good ’n’ weird. I was thinking a Greek letter?

62-A, four letters, “Contraction lacking three letters.” WOULDNTVE wouldn’t’ve fit.

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Count the assumptions

A grown-up, speaking on the news about 3D-printed rockets. He likened his dream of having a million people on Mars to “when we founded the New World with Christopher Columbus.”

Cathartic dancing

“Man confronts truck driver with cathartic dancing in Brooklyn” (Gothamist).

One thing I don’t miss about not driving in New Jersey: the honk that sounds from behind just a nanosecond — no, make that a fucking nanosecond — after the light turns green. Drivers in New Jersey and “the city” will understand.

“Vaccine-resistant Trump country”

Susan B. Glasser, writing in The New Yorker :

Consider the news this week that now one in five hundred Americans has died in the pandemic; total deaths in the country approach seven hundred thousand. What’s worse, covid deaths — the vast majority of them preventable, avoidable deaths, now that science and the federal government have provided us with free vaccines—are continuing to rise across large swaths of vaccine-resistant Trump country. This is not a tragic mistake but a calculated choice by many Republicans who have made vaccine resistance synonymous with resistance to Biden and the Democrats. The current average of more than nineteen hundred dead a day means that a 9/11’s worth of Americans are perishing from covid roughly every thirty-eight hours. To my mind, this is the biggest news of the Biden Presidency so far, and it has nothing to do with Afghanistan, or the fate of the budget-reconciliation bill, or Bob Woodward’s new book.
Six more deaths from COVID-19 were reported yesterday in my deep-red Illinois county.

Using a dictionary

“Dictionaries reward you for paying attention, both to the things you consume and to your own curiosity”: in the age of digital searching, Rachel del Valle recommends using a (print) dictionary.

I think though that she’s wrong on one point: a dictionary is a rabbit hole, or can be.

Related reading
All OCA dictionary posts (Pinboard)

[I have the same Webster’s Second that Del Valle writes about. (It has dazzling endpapers.) But I wasn’t lucky enough to find my copy on the street.]

The Unfaithful : an EXchange name

The Unfaithful (dir. Vincent Sherman, 1947) has something for everyone. Here is an EXchange name, more than ready for its close-up.

[Click for a larger view.]

Also in The Unfaithful : Angels Flight, The Bradbury Building, and phone booths.

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 : Escape in the Fog : 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 (1) : Sweet Smell of Success (2) : Tension : This Gun for Hire : Vice Squad : Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

The Unfaithful : phone booths

The Unfaithful (dir. Vincent Sherman, 1947) has something for everyone. There are phone booths in the airport.

[Click for a larger view.]

Four related posts
Angels Flight in The Unfaithful : The Bradbury Building in The Unfaithful : Phone booths, Chicago, 1961 : “Telephone Inside”

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Almost lunch

[Click for a larger view.]

Almost lunch, not lunchtime. This can of sardines was almost yesterday’s lunch. But then I looked more closely: “Best Before 2016.” That sounds to me less like vintage and more like dangerous. I hesitated to open the can. But I didn’t hesitate to take a photo.

Mabuti is a Filipino word for good. I trust that at some point these sardines were good. I (evidently) bought this lone can of Mabuti years ago. In a nearby Asian grocery, Mabuti sardines were cheap. Amazon has more recent cans of this variety, $27.99 for three. Not cheap.

Related reading
All OCA sardine posts (Pinboard)

[Yes, that’s cellophane tape at the ends of the can. The tape came with the can.]

The Unfaithful : Bradbury

The Unfaithful (dir. Vincent Sherman, 1947) has something for everyone, including a scene in the Bradbury Building. Dig the elevator.

[Click for a larger view.]

A related post
Angels Flight in The Unfaithful

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Unfaithful : Angels Flight

The Unfaithful (dir. Vincent Sherman, 1947) has something for everyone, including a ride on the Angels Flight Railway.

[“Mrs. Tanner” (Marta Mitrovich), about to board. A round trip or two rides: 5¢. Book of ten: 25¢. Book of 30 (?): 50¢. Click any image for a larger view.]

[Down we go.]

[Talk about vertiginous. No wonder almost everyone’s looking straight ahead or at a newspaper.]

The Angels Flight website lists the railway’s appearances in film and on TV.

Here, from an earlier blog post, is a glimpse of Angels Flight in Act of Violence (dir. Fred Zinnemann, 1949).

Must. Get. To. Los. Angeles. Again. But not now.

Sardines, drawn

At Yellow Petals, George Bodmer shares a lovely can of sardines.

Related reading
All OCA sardine posts (Pinboard)


Orange Crate Art turns seventeen later today. It has reached its full height but continues to develop muscles. And its voice is deepening. Time to start thinking about college.

They grow up so fast!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Twelve movies

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

Some Kind of Heaven (dir. Lance Oppenheim, 2020). Before watching this documentary, I knew The Villages only as the place in Florida where old white people (one yelling “White power!”) were riding around on golf carts with Trump** banners last year. No politics in this picture of things, only dances, pickleball, cheerleading, margaritas, acting classes, and the enforced cheerfulness and shadowy sadness of life in a vast retirement community. The movie focuses on four people: Anne and Reggie, a married couple beset by unusual problems; Barbara, a widow trying to reengage with the social world; and Dennis, a sketchy nomad in search of a “classy lady” with money. The artful storytelling and surreal cinematography make it easy to forget that this movie is indeed a documentary. ★★★★


My Scientology Movie (dir. John Dower, 2015). Journalist Louis Theroux travels to Los Angeles and beyond to investigate the world of Scientology. With — surprise — no cooperation from the organization, he interviews ex-Scientologists, finds himself followed and surveilled, and casts actors to recreate scenes from life on the inside, with expert help from former Scientology executive Mark Rathbun. The result is both hilarious and scary, and much more than a stunt: the violence and obedience in the reenactments suggest the world of the Milgram experiment. The Scientology model — us vs. them, Scientology alone can fix it — seems like a rehearsal for contemporary American authoritarianism. ★★★★


Terror by Night (dir. Roy William Neill, 1946). Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) are on a train to Scotland, with Holmes guarding an enormous diamond, the Star of Rhodesia. When it’s stolen, everyone in their car is under suspicion, with much peeking out of compartments before pulling the curtains shut. Harmless fun, aside from the references to Rhodesia and India and the dissing of curry. But where did the diamond’s owner, Lady Carstairs, go? ★★


The Unfaithful (dir. Vincent Sherman, 1947). When husband Bob, a builder (Zachary Scott), is away on business, Chris (Ann Sheridan) kills an intruder in the house. But who was the dead man really, and what danger does his corpse pose for Bob and Chris’s marriage? This movie seems to have been doing important cultural work, inviting its audience to consider the virtues of compassion and forgiveness in the wake of wartime infidelities. Lew Ayres shines as Larry, the lawyer, bachelor (hmm), and friend who gives Bob and Chris good counsel. ★★★★


Johnny Belinda (dir. Jean Negulesco, 1948). Lew Ayres again, as Robert Richardson, an idealistic doctor in rugged Nova Scotia who seeks to help Belinda MacDonald, a young deaf woman (Jane Wyman), learn to communicate by reading lips and signing. There will be much sorrow before Belinda finds a voice and freedom. A poignant drama of disability, patriarchy, and justice. Great performances from Ayres, Wyman, and Charles Bickford, and stark painterly cinematography by Ted McCord. ★★★★


In This Our Life (dir. John Huston, 1942). John Huston’s second film, quite a contrast to the first and third (The Maltese Falcon and Across the Pacific). This one’s a melodrama and a half, with Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland as the daughters of a once-great tobacco grower, and George Brent and Dennis Morgan are the men in their lives. Two guesses as to which daughter is the evil one. With blatant racism, hit-and-run driving, a veiled suggestion of incest, and emotional manipulation galore. ★★★★


Highway Dragnet (dir. Nathan Juran, 1954). A hitchhiking veteran and murder suspect (Richard Conte) takes up with a photographer (Joan Bennett) and her model (Wanda Hendrix). A vaguely Detour-like premise, some fine campy dialogue, and a preposterous ending. Watch for Murray Alper as yet another truck driver, and Reed Hadley, the distinctive narrative voice of several semi-documentary films. Startling to see Bennett, whom I know only from ’40s starring roles, in these low-budget surroundings. ★★


His Kind of Woman (dir. John Farrow, 1951). The beginning is reminiscent of Out of the Past, as an elite criminal cabal enlists gambler Dan Milner (Robert Mitchum) in a mysterious scheme. The middle is reminiscent of Casablanca, with assorted characters drinking and gambling in a Mexican resort town as we wait for the scheme to unfold (Milner even helps a man win back his money at cards, earning a kiss from the man’s wife). In the final forty-five minutes the movie comes alive, turning into a giddy, lunatic spectacle (as dictated by RKO owner Howard Hughes): Milner is beaten and whipped by the bad guys, and a swashbuckling actor sojourning at the resort (Vincent Price) dons a cape, tosses off bits of Shakespeare, and leads the real-life effort to save him. I must note that Jane Russell is absent from nearly all of those forty-five minutes. ★★★★


Northanger Abbey (dir. Jon Jones, 2007). Felicity Jones and Carey Mulligan are wonderful as naive, fanciful Catherine Morland and wilier Isabella Thorpe. The adaptation’s emphasis though falls on externals: beautiful clothes and a castle. The shifts between English reality and Gothic fantasy are too often reminiscent of Wishbone — and I love Wishbone. But I think Catherine’s explorations of Northanger should run more along the lines of, say, Hitchcock’s Rebecca. ★★★


’Till We Meet Again (dir. Edmund Goulding, 1940). Love and mortality and a mysterious cocktail. Joan (Merle Oberon), a fatally ill woman touring the world, and Dan (George Brent), a criminal on the run, meet in a Hong Kong bar and are soon involved in a shipboard romance. Also aboard is the lawman (Pat O’Brien) who nabbed Dan as he left the bar and is bringing him back to San Francisco, where he’s to be executed. Now I want to see the pre-Code version, One Way Passage (dir. Tay Garnett, 1932), with William Powell and Kay Francis. ★★★★

[The Paradise is a genuine cocktail, but it bears no relation to the drink in the movie, which mixes Cointreau and Pernod in a glass with a sugared rim.]


The Emoji Story (dir. Ian Cheney and Martha Shane, 2019). The perfect documentary length, eighty minutes, all about the history of emojis and the process of getting an emoji candidate approved by the Unicode Consortium. Of particular interest to me: the comments by linguists on the ways in which emoji have been repurposed, both semantically and syntactically. I was surprised though not to hear someone cite “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world,” as the limited symbol language of emojis drives home Wittgenstein’s point (see, for instance, in the recent past, uniformly white faces and limited roles for women and girls in emojis). I wish there’d been more detail about the work of designing an emoji and the rigor of the application process — and some explanation of why the only emoji for guitar is an electric instrument (so wrong!). ★★★


Cluny Brown (dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 1946). The Lubitsch touch indeed, in his last completed film, a love story of two eccentrics, Cluny Brown (Jennifer Jones), a plumber’s niece who can’t keep away from pipes, and Adam Belinski (Charles Boyer), a philosopher-humanist who’s fled the Nazis for England. The screenplay by Samuel Hoffenstein and Elizabeth Reinhardt teems with vaguely sexual suggestions, non sequiturs, and sweet comedy. Special recognition to Richard Haydn as the village chemist. “Squirrels to the nuts!” ★★★★

Related reading
All OCA movie posts (Pinboard)

[Sources: Criterion Channel, Hulu, TCM, YouTube.]

Foot falls

“Oh no! The Silver Lake Foot has fallen down the steps at the #MetGala.”

Thank you, Rachel.

Related reading
All OCA Foot Clinic sign posts

George Wein (1925–2021)

Maker of Newports, Folk and Jazz. The New York Times obituary focuses on the Jazz, but I’d venture that the Newport Folk Festival, via Dylan and “rediscovered” blues musicians, made a far bigger dent in the shape of American culture.

Monday, September 13, 2021

“Individually wrapped treats”

About “tangible inducements” to get students to wear masks at the University of Austin at Austin: I went to the source and found the details in FAQ for faculty. It’s far more complicated than bringing cookies to class:

Can instructors, departments, colleges and schools offer incentives to students to encourage masking?

Yes, although with some limitations, namely:

Positive incentives/rewards are permissible while negative consequences/ punishments are not.

Instructors can only offer non-academic incentives of a de minimis value (less than $50) per reward during a given semester.

Incentives can NOT be paid for with university/State funds.

Incentives cannot result in academic benefits to any student.

Incentives cannot result in heightened stakes creating coercion.

Incentives should be delivered outside of the classroom.

Incentives cannot result in differential treatment in the classroom between those that mask and those that do not. The following examples ARE permissible and comply with the guidance on incentives:
E.g., The instructor offers that everyone who wears a mask for two weeks of their class can stop by the courtyard to pick up a gift certificate for a free item from a nearby bakery.

E.g., The instructor offers that if the class maintains 85% masking by attendees for the next two weeks, then after the following Thursday’s class period, individually wrapped treats from a certain bakery can be picked up by every student in the courtyard (i.e., not the classroom) where all can still socially distance.
Examples of incentives that would NOT be permissible due to violating at least one of the criteria listed above include:
E.g., An instructor directs class that if all students do not mask, then the class will be taught online. (negative consequence, academic impact and heightened stakes creating coercion).

E.g., An instructor directs that any students failing to mask will not be allowed a partner on the team project. (negative consequence, academic impact, heightened stakes creating coercion).

E.g., An instructor offers that there will be no final in the class if everyone wears a mask. (Academic impact/benefit and heightened stakes creating coercion).

E.g., An instructor offers those who mask during each class meeting for the semester a 5-point increase in their final grade. (Academic impact/benefit and heightened stakes creating coercion).
If raffle-style incentives are used for masking, organizers should not collect or maintain any protected health information (e.g., vaccine records, list of vaccinated applicants).
It’s astonishing to think that several administrators, probably all making six-figure salaries, must have pooled their intelligence to develop these guidelines. Nothing half-baked here: they’ve really thought it through, even if they don’t know how to use e.g. properly.

These guidelines call for considerable diligence on the part of the faculty member, who must monitor masking (a COVID-era form of “taking attendance”), place and pay for orders, and distribute gift certificates or individually wrapped treats, but not in the classroom. Or maybe the faculty member can palm the work off on a TA. I think of the absurdity of students lining up, six feet apart, maybe in the rain, to receive their individually wrapped treats. Here ya go.

And there’s the detail that gets me: “individually wrapped treats,” presumably to assure proper hygiene, on a campus where neither masks nor vaccinations are not required.

And what’s with that reference to “a certain bakery”? Is it reasonable to suspect that at least one these guideline developers has flour on their hands?

Rural hospitals and COVID-19

I was startled to see a doctor from a local hospital on MSNBC’s The Week with Joshua Johnson. Jeremy Topin, MD, is respectful of local reality at every turn, but you can sense his exasperation about life here in COVID times.

The most recent ICU numbers at this hospital, from The New York Times: 93% occupied, with 29 COVID patients and one available bed.

A Douglas Ewart exhibition

Good news from Chicago:

Experimental Sound Studio (ESS) is pleased to present a retrospective of the virtuosic artist and educator Douglas R. Ewart, alongside Ewart’s recent large-scale audio-visual work Songs and Stories for a New Path and Paradigm, created in collaboration with NOW Society of Vancouver and 36 artists from across the globe.
The exhibition runs through December 11, with concerts scheduled for mid-October. Here’s more information.

Related reading
All OCA Douglas Ewart posts

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Performative again

Arts & Letters Daily recently linked to a short commentary on the word performative. The commentary is crotchety and overwrought, with talk of corruption and senseless violence and infestations of body lice. I’m not linking.

It so happens that I wrote what seems to me a far clearer, more helpful, and less wrought commentary on performative back in March. That commentary I’ll link to: here it is. I’d say I got there first.

What, no candy?

I was so struck by the story of an eighty-eight-year-old professor’s encounter with a student who would not wear a mask that I missed this choice bit in The New York Times about “tangible inducements” to get college students to wear masks in class:

The University of Texas at Austin told professors that they could offer nonacademic rewards, like cookies, to cajole students to wear masks. (A university spokeswoman, Eliska Padilla, said this was informal, not an incentive program.)
Good thing UT Austin has administrators to clarify these points for the public.

A related post
On games and candy in the college classroom

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Recently updated

Hi and Lois watch Now with no Odie.

Recently updated

Teaching the unmasked More on an eighty-eight-year-old professor’s last day in a classroom.

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper, by Matthew Sewell, is yet another week’s worth of evidence, the sixth, that the Stumper is back. It’s a good puzzle, filled with smart clues and novel answers. The clue that somehow, I don’t know how, opened up the puzzle for me: 62-A, ten letters, “International Emmy category.”

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

13-A, ten letters, “Fancy low-level furnishing.” I was wondering if it had something to do with a conversation pit. But of course not.

21-D, four letters, “Audio equipment.” GEAR?

22-A, three letters, “British Columbia’s 1000-year-old Big Lonely Doug.” The answer is guessable, but the clue adds value.

23-A, seven letters, “Secured a bill, perhaps.” Clever.

33-D, four letters, “Like some stand-out characters.” The clue works in a couple of ways.

42-A, nine letters, “Sent sideways.” I was thinking boxing, or something to do with pool. No.

53-D, four letters, “Enhance unnecessarily.” Like, how often do we see this word?

55-D, four letters, “Suited to following.” Pretty Stumpery.

59-A, ten letters, “Very early arthropods.” I don’t know what arthropods are, but I know my Clark Coolidge.

And my favorite: 10-D, eleven letters, “Group hitting the bottom of the barrel.”

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.


[Photograph by me. Click for a larger heron.]

The nearest faraway place for our household right now is a trail around a lake.

Please consider this photograph a brief respite from the day.

Friday, September 10, 2021

A passion for ancient edifices

. . . and another for Henry Tilney.

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (1818).

Related reading
All OCA Jane Austen posts (Pinboard)

“Cold ellipses”

Zippy on a boardwalk, near a Dippin’ Dots stand: “You’ve gotta love the ellipses!” [“Totally Elliptical.” Zippy, September 10, 2021.]

“ . . . I feel oddly hesitant for some reason . . .,” says Zippy.

Here’s my favorite way to make an ellipsis in HTML. And here’s my favorite use of the ellipsis in literature. I have nothing to say about Dippin’ Dots save that I have never understood their appeal.

Related reading
All OCA Zippy posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Six parties

A New York Times quiz: “If America Had Six Parties, Which Would You Belong To?”

[Me, the Progressive Party. Gracie Allen’s Surprise Party is not a Times option.]

Two eyes, eight parts of speech

“Catherine wished to congratulate him, but knew not what to say, and her eloquence was only in her eyes. From them however the eight parts of speech shone out most expressively, and James could combine them with ease.” Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (1818).

Garner’s Modern English Usage: “Grammarians have traditionally recognized eight parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.”

Related reading
All OCA Jane Austen posts (Pinboard)

Hi and Lois watch

A classroom with Dot and Ditto sitting at legless desks. [Hi and Lois, September 9, 2021. Click for a larger view.]

No masks, no distancing in today’s Hi and Lois ? Okay, it’s the comics. But no legs on the desks? There’s a way to fix that problem.

The same comic strip, cropped to remove the legless area, and with a piece of tape removed from the corner of a poster. [Hi and Lois revised, September 9, 2021. Click for a larger view.]

If you look closely, you’ll see that I’ve made another revision that all self-respecting teachers should appreciate.


An observant reader points out that the dog on the poster is Odie from Garfield. Thanks, Kevin. And we agree, given that it’s a Garfield poster, it should come down.

[Hi and Lois revised again, September 9, 2021. Click for a larger view.]

Related reading
All OCA Hi and Lois posts (Pinboard)

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Phil Schaap (1951–2021)

He was a jazz historian who hosted programs on WKCR-FM for more than fifty years. He was a hero of the music.

The New York Times has an obituary. WKCR is planning a tribute and will be rebroadcasting Schaap’s programs at their usual times.

Better books?

Catherine Morland doubts that Henry Tilney could be a reader of novels.

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (1818).

Related reading
All OCA Jane Austen posts (Pinboard)

Methods of communication

Selena Gomez, Steve Martin, and Martin Short appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night. They were talking, of course, about their Hulu series Only Murders in the Building.

SC: “Now there’s a lot of texting in the show. Do you guys have your own text chain between the three of you?”

SG: “No, it’s strictly e-mail with these guys.”

SM: “But when we started communicating, we were using pay phones.”

See also “Aloha, Mabel!”

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

“Tilneys and trapdoors”

Catherine Morland is riding with John Thorpe. But her mind is elsewhere.

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (1818).

Related reading
All OCA Jane Austen posts (Pinboard)

[False hangings: tapestries covering secret passages.]

Teaching the unmasked

From a New York Times article about life in college, “‘An Emotional Hellscape’: Frayed Nerves for the Teachers of Unmasked Students”:

Irwin Bernstein, an 88-year-old psychology professor, said the University of Georgia had lured him out of retirement this fall. But when he posted a “No mask, No class” sign in his classroom, his department head told him to take it down “since I was in violation of the governor’s order.”

At his next class, a student resisted wearing a mask, saying it was uncomfortable, he recalled. He announced that he was retiring — again — and walked out of class.
Imagine having that moment be your last as a teacher.

The kind of selfishness that student showed is what we see around us in downstate Illinois every day, from all sorts of people. It’s what’s prompted a local bookstore owner to close and move his bookstore back to Chicago — he’s tired of arguing with people who refuse to wear masks in his store, even after he tells them that his children are too young to be vaccinated.


September 11: An article from The Red & Black (University of Georgia) has much more on Irwin Bernstein’s encounter with an unmasked student in his class. An excerpt:
The 88-year-old psychology professor explained to the student that he could die from COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and age-related problems, Bernstein said in an email to The Red & Black.

Only about 15 minutes into the Tuesday lecture, which consisted of Bernstein taking the student attendance, he asked the student to pull her mask up again, but this time, the student did not respond.

Bernstein, who was already informed that two of his absent students tested positive for COVID-19, then announced his resignation on the spot and left the class immediately.

“At that point I said that whereas I had risked my life to defend my country while in the Air Force, I was not willing to risk my life to teach a class with an unmasked student during this Pandemic,” Bernstein said in an email to The Red & Black. “I then resigned my retiree-rehire position.”
[Yes, there’s a mask mandate in Illinois. But the local response is to ignore it. I’ve rewritten a sentence to make clear that the selfishness here comes from all quarters.]

A Blogger warning

If you upload an image to Blogger, tinker with the code, delete </div>, but forget to delete <div class="separator" style="clear: both;">, your sidebar will end up where the body of your blog used to be and you’ll wonder what’s gone wrong.

The fix: proofread, and delete <div class="separator" style="clear: both;">. You may have to look through several posts to find your mistake.

Google makes so many unannounced changes to the Blogger platform that it’s easy to assume that any odd new problem is the company’s fault. But not always.

Why tinker with the code to begin with? To reduce the size of the big blank space Blogger adds above an image.

A related post
How to get clear images in Blogger

Monday, September 6, 2021

Michael K. Williams (1966–2021)

One of his roles: the trickster-god Omar Little on The Wire. The New York Times has an obituary.

An Omar-related post
The meaning of “rip and run”

Nancy Labor Day

In today’s Nancy, Olivia Jaimes follows Ernie Bushmiller’s practice of taking holidays off, or “off” (f’rinstance). Here’s April 5 for full context.

And other Jaimes Labor Days: 2020, 2019, and 2018 (“Sluggo is lit”).

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Labor Day

[Thomas Wimberly, Global Forefront — Thank You (2020). Via Amplifier. Click for a larger view.]

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Starring Robert Mitchum

We were visiting Robert Mitchum in Los Angeles, courtesy of a friend in the industry. We met Mitchum in his apartment. It was an older Robert Mitchum that we met. He was sitting in a light-brown recliner. He was taciturn but not unfriendly.

He had no plans, nothing he had to do, so we took him out to lunch, perhaps to the now-defunct Clifton’s Cafeteria. We were seated with some other people at a long table. I was on the other side of the table from Mitchum, and at the greatest possible distance. It was impossible to ask him what Jane Greer was like when she was off camera.

Then he agreed to come back to our house, because he still had no plans, nothing he had to do. Did he want something to eat, to tide him over between lunch and dinner? Takeout Thai food?

I was about to ask him about Jane Greer when I woke up.

Related reading
All OCA dream posts (Pinboard)

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper, by “Anna Stiga” (“Stan Again,” Stan Newman, the puzzle’s editor), is the fifth Stumper in a row, which makes me hope that the Stumper is back for keeps. “Anna Stiga” is a pseudonym that goes on easier Stumpers of the Newman’s creation, but I found this puzzle challenging — twenty-two minutes’ worth of challenging — with the top half relatively easy, the bottom half much tougher. The puzzle’s distinctive feature: top and bottom stacks of thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-letter answers.

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

1-A, thirteen letters, “Mutable sci-fi skill.” The answer is a gerund. The answer makes 38-D, eight letters, “Prone to pallor, 1 Across, etc,” a bit tricky, for a reason I can reveal only in the comments.

1-D, six letters, “Really bad.” I’m a kid in Brooklyn again. This answer opened up much of the puzzle for me.

10-D, five letters, “Rapper named for his Florida capital home and his early hardships.” I wonder if he’s appeared in a puzzle before. (Yes, he has.)

16-A, fifteen letters, “Lingual clue for Sly’s surname.” My first thought was “Sly”? As in “Stone”? Surprising to see this answer in a puzzle.

40-A, eight letters, “Faux glow.” Faux indeed.

59-A, fifteen letters, “Family-friendly, furry friend.” I sometimes aspire to share their outlook on things.

64-A, thirteen letters, “Titular adventure of a ’68 film.” Notice: titular. This one threw me a bit.

My favorite clue in this puzzle, and what must be one of the great clues of all time: 23-D, seven letters, “Pink elephants, perhaps.”

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

[Twenty-two minutes: As in “You give us twenty-two minutes, we’ll give you the world,” the WINS-AM all-news mantra.]

Friday, September 3, 2021

Mess with Texas

From The Guardian:

Pro-choice users on TikTok and Reddit have launched a guerrilla effort to thwart Texas’s extreme new abortion law, flooding an online tip website that encourages people to report violators of the law with false reports, Shrek memes, and porn.
Last night the form for anonymous tips was down. This morning it’s back up.

There’s even an iOS shortcut (noted in the Guardian article) to mess with Texas by sending false tips en masse.

Local lunacy

A localite persists in adding COVID disinformation to the posts from our county health department. The department eventually removes her comments. But there they are, until they’re removed.

Her latest: coughing up mucus and taking cough medicine are defenses against COVID. You can cough in your backyard or in the shower, she explains. And she closes with what she must think is a witty turn: “Some of us refuse to live in fear. Pass me the Robitussin DM, please.”

If it doesn’t go without saying: she won’t get vaccinated.

A king on the bus

I was on a long-distance bus trip from ____ to ____. The bus was packed. I stood up to stretch in the aisle and saw the Imperial Margarine king several rows back. He too was standing up to stretch. The king was wearing a red-velvet crown and a dark T-shirt and slacks. He had two tiny scabs on the side of his nose, near his left eye. He looked like Norman Fell.

“You look just like the Imperial Margarine king,” I said. “Are you him?”

“Yes, I am.”

I asked him if I could take a picture. He nodded yes. But when I tried to use the camera on my phone, all I could see were maps of Bristol, England, and streaming video of soccer hooligans. No camera.

The bus stopped for a short break. The king walked across the street and through an open garage door into an enormous produce store. I waited beside the bus and tried restarting my phone. No improvement. I noticed my daughter standing nearby and asked if she had any idea what was wrong. No, she didn’t. I waited for the king’s return.

Related reading
All OCA dream posts (Pinboard)

[Possible sources: thinking yesterday about Nabokov’s Pale Fire and its king or pseudo-king, and later making a U-turn in front of a huge garage door for a heating and air-conditioning company. I haven’t seen anything to suggest that Norman Fell appeared in an Imperial commercial. But here’s one with Charles Kimbrough.]

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Rewrite that sentence, PBS

From the PBS NewsHour:

Designer Ed Welburn’s passion developed early, as a small child.
The problem is the dangling modifier “as a small child.” I think of the passion sitting quietly in a corner, reading or drawing. Better:
Ed Welburn has been passionate about design since early childhood.
But I’m not crazy about passion or passionate. My preference:
Ed Welburn has been interested in design since early childhood.
Or more simply:
Ed Welburn became interested in design in early childhood.
From at least the age of eight.

Related reading
All OCA “How to improve writing” posts (Pinboard)

[This post is no. 94 in a series dedicated to improving stray bits of public prose.]

Word of the day: tittuppy

Mr. Thorpe, do you really think that Mr. Morland’s gig will break down? From Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1818):

"Break down! Oh! Lord! Did you ever see such a little tittuppy thing in your life? There is not a sound piece of iron about it.”
And he goes on and on about the danger it presents. “Good heavens!” cries James Morland’s sister Catherine. And I am already imagining a Clueless-style adaptation, with James Morland driving a “ricketty” old compact, and John Thorpe, a shiny new SUV. “Ricketty” is another of Thorpe’s disses.

But the word of the day is the adjective tittuppy, also spelled tituppy and tittupy. The meaning is easy to guess: “characterized by bouncing movement; unsteady, shaky, rickety.”

The word’s origin is likely impossible to guess. Tittuppy comes from the noun or verb tittup. The noun first meant “a canter,” then “a cantering horse,” then “a woman or girl, spec. one who is bold or impudent.” The earliest meaning is now rare; the others, obsolete. As for the verb:
To walk or move with an up-and-down or jerky movement; to move in an exaggerated or affected manner. Also (of a horse, etc.) to move with short up-and-down strides in a prancing fashion; (of a rider) to guide a horse in this way. Usually with adverbial of direction.”
The verb is still in use. The Oxford English Dictionary has a 2003 citation: “A bizarre figure — is it a man or a woman? — tittups towards them.” Tittup also had life as an adverb — “with a tittup; at a canter” — also obsolete.

The dictionary’s first citation for tittuppy? Northanger Abbey! And the adjective is still in use; the most recent citation is from 1995.

Northanger Abbey is a wonderful novel. I’d describe it thusly: Catherine Morland, a reader of Gothic novels, finds herself a character in a Jane Austen novel. She must adapt.

Related reading
All OCA Jane Austen posts (Pinboard)

[All citations from the Oxford English Dictionary.]

Hi and Lois watch

Lois to Trixie: “You want to see the menu?” “Ya!” [Hi and Lois, September 2, 2021.]

Wrong-way swodniw are a fact of life in Hi and Lois. Though that’s not necessarily a wrong-way window. Lois and Trixie could be dining al fresco in today’s Hi and Lois. But it sure don’t look it.

More troubling than the window: the menu has a picture of a juice box. Jeez.

Related reading
All OCA Hi and Lois posts (Pinboard)

[Yes, swodniw is a plural.]

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Misspelling in the news

An Illinois woman has been arrested for entering Hawaii with a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. It showed her as having received the Maderna vaccine.

Related reading
All OCA misspelling posts (Pinboard)

Lives of the fakes

In The New York Times, the lives of fake works of art:

Works declared to be fake often enjoy diverse afterlives, according to law enforcement officials, academic scholars and art market veterans. Some are retained by universities as study instruments, some as the legacies of well-intentioned donors who lacked an expert eye. Some were used in a sting by an undercover agent who hoped the sense of wealth created by fancy paintings on a yacht would be a persuasive part of his pose.

But many of the works, experts say, have second lives that very much resemble their first: as fakes recycled to unsuspecting buyers.
[See also the great documentary Art and Craft (dir. Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman, and Mark Becker, 2014).]

Burying the lede

An odd headline in The Washington Post: “Four conservative radio talk-show hosts bashed coronavirus vaccines. Then they got sick.”

More accurately: “Four conservative radio talk-show hosts bashed coronavirus vaccines. Then they got sick and died.”

“Aloha, Mabel!”

From “How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?,” the third episode of the new Hulu series Only Murders in the Building. Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin) is conferring with Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) on how best to get in touch with their neighbor Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez).

“Let’s see if Mabel's free. I’ll call her. Or should I text?”

“Calls bother them for some reason.”

“Yeah. I think it’s a text. What sounds more casual? ‘Dear Mabel,’ or ‘Greetings, Mabel’?”
And then: “Hey, I figured out the perfect greeting for the text.”

Mabel reads a text message that begins “Aloha, Mabel! and ends “Best, Charles-Haden Savage” Mabel writes back: “fyi you don’t need to sign your texts” She reads the reply: “Okay! See you SCONE! I meant SCONE! Duck, sorry SCONE.” [Click any image for a larger view.]