Sunday, October 31, 2021


Larry David, in “Angel Muffin,” tonight’s episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm:

“Who am I supposed to trust, the maintenance guy, or Don Junior?”
[“Don Junior” is a Netflix exec. In Curb, as in life, the name is a standing joke.]


[“Brinks Holdup.” Photographs by Ralph Morse and Yale Joel. January 1, 1950 (?). From the Life Photo Archive. Click any photograph for a larger mask.]

Something is off here: these photographs are dated January 1, 1950, but the Boston Brink‘s robbery took place on January 17. The FBI says “five to seven gunmen,” masked; the Life Photo Archive has photographs of at least twenty masks. Were the photos meant to suggest what the gunmen may have worn? None of these photographs appear in the January 30 Life article about the robbery.

Also — Happy Halloween.

A UCSB mega-dorm

Hey, University of California at Santa Barbara: Franz Kafka called, and he wants his idea for a dorm back.

It’s worth creating a free Chronicle of Higher Education account to read the details of this monstrosity.


November 3: Here’s a letter of resignation from Dennis McFadden, architect, and adviser to the UCSB committee for design review. And here is an opinion piece that McFadden published in the Los Angeles Times.

Goodbye, Mongol

News from penciltalk: Newell Brands has canceled its trademark for the Mongol pencil.

Related reading
All OCA Mongol posts (Pinboard)

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Not from The Onion

Steve Wozniak:

“I got the new iPhone, and I can’t tell the difference really.”

“I got the new watch, I can’t tell the difference.”

“I got the new computer. I’ve been so busy I haven't had time to open it.”
Less Onion-y: a quick diss of Facebook Meta.

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday crossword is by Stan Newman. It’s an easy puzzle by Stumper standards. I found my way with two toeholds, 23-D, three letters, “Informal ‘exceedingly’” and 29-A, three letters, “Petition.” And I was off.

Some clue-and-answer pairs I liked:

3-D, eight letters, “Ducks glide there.” Is it okay to call this clue cute?

9-A, five letters, “Breaks into a vault.” The kind of clue that doing crosswords teaches you to understand.

10-D, seven letters, “Canine coats.” See 9-A.

17-A, nine letters, “Pancake purveyors.” Feels very ‘80s to me. But I still like it.

30-D, nine letters, “Étude embellishment.” Three in a row. (Alliterative clues, that is.)

45-A, nine letters, “Heating system component.” Takes me back to earlier abodes.

52-A, nine letters, “Navigational hobbyist.” I didn’t know about this hobby.

53-A, five letters, “Earliest-born Poker Hall of Famer.” I’m out.

If you, too, are having difficulty with the Newsday paywall, you can access the Stumper at GameLab. And if Newsday is listening: please consider offering a crossword subscription. The Stumper has a national audience, and you cannot expect non-Long Islanders to pay $363 a year for a crossword.

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, October 29, 2021


[Click for a larger view.]

I like this at least semi-dowdy logo, which I noticed on a shipping container in the parking lot of our friendly neighborhood multinational retailer.

See also today’s Zippy.

A serious sign

Fresca noticed a sign outside a liquor store: “BIKES LEFT HERE WILL BE THROWN ONTO LAKE ST.” That store isn’t playing.

Thursday, October 28, 2021


I plan to continue to use the word meta in its traditional (since 1988!) sense. I will not cede this word to Mark Zuckerberg.

[No, thanks.]

I presume the blue loop is meant to suggest infinity. I prefer to think of it as pair of handcuffs. Lemme out, Mark! Or maybe it’s head hitting itself against a mirror. Again, lemme out, &c. Elaine sees a Möbius strip. (Go back two sentences.)

I thought the following image was someone’s joke, but it’s credited to Facebook. Look! Mark is choosing an avatar. And I think of the Bhagavad-Gita: “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

[Poverty of imagination, with everything at its disposal. This is progress?]

I doubt that Mark Zuckerberg has read Steven Millhauser’s 1996 novel Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer, which might serve as a cautionary tale about the difficulty of replacing one world with another. Talk about handcuffs and mirrors.

[The Zuckerberg presentation is here. But I’m done thinking about the (so-called) metaverse.]

“More traditional”?

I started turning pages in the October 25 New Yorker and found a listing for a Brooklyn jazz festival: Kurt Elling, Cecile McLoren Savant, and others. And then: “the Sun Ra Arkestra — led by nonagenarian saxophonist Marshall Allen — represent more traditional fare.”

What’s up with “more traditional”? More traditional than a singer singing a great American standard? I wondered whether the writer assumed, given Marshall Allen’s age, that the Arkestra is some old-timey outfit. But no, the writer knows jazz. So perhaps “more traditional” is a wink of sorts, given that the Arkestra (which has outlived Ra) has been going since the early 1950s.

I was hoping to see the Arkestra in April 2020: they were scheduled to play a free concert at a theater in east-central Illinois. But everything changed.

“The key to this disorder”

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room (1956).

Related reading
All OCA Baldwin posts (Pinboard)

Wednesday, October 27, 2021


[A genuine sign.]

I photographed this sign in a medical building some time ago. Tororo’s photograph of a mirror under repair made me think of this photograph, look for it, and post it.

This sign must have been meant as a warning to employees with deconstructive tendencies. Hands off the signifier and the signified! Notice the tape at the top: this sign about a sign must have been a placeholder for an even more portentous signifier.

Related reading
All OCA signage posts (Pinboard)

Chicago pronouns

“This quiz is looking for answers that reflect formally correct usage, which won’t necessarily coincide with common usage.” It’s a Chicago Manual of Style quiz: “Who, Me?” It’s about subject and object pronouns.

Gotta wonder if this quiz was prompted by John McWhorter’s recent defense of me as a subject pronoun. Him and me disagree about that.

A related post
John McWhorter’s me

Stefan Zweig’s diaries

For the first time in English, Stefan Zweig’s diaries, 1931–1940. Here’s a review.

Related reading
All OCA Stefan Zweig posts (Pinboard)

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

A John McWhorter page-ninety test

Spur of the moment: I thought to try the page-ninety test with John McWhorter’s Nine Nasty Words: English in The Gutter: Then, Now, and Forever (New York: Avery, 2021). Here’s what I found:

The metaphorical meaning closest to the root connotation of feces is that of the unwelcome, given the noxious nature of the substance. Hence the idea of haranguing someone as giving them shit. When I was in college, one of the managers in the dining hall I worked in was a brilliantined fellow with a pencil mustache (a look that was already obsolete by the 1980s) and a keening, petulant voice, given to complaining, “Everybody shits on me!” But the man is relevant to us in that the expression he was so fond of embodied this metaphorical usage of shit as a burden and insult.
It is not difficult to improve this paragraph:
The primary metaphorical meaning of shit is that of what’s noxious or unwelcome. Hence the idea of haranguing someone as “giving them shit.” As an undergraduate I worked in a university dining hall with a manager who was given to complaining, “Everybody shits on me!” His pet expression embodied this metaphorical meaning.
Granted, this kind of revision might make a much shorter book. But I think I’ve made a better paragraph.

~ “Root connotation”: I have no idea what a “root connotation” is. You won’t find an explanation elsewhere in the book, as this passage marks its only appearance. As for the root of feces, it’s the Latin faeces, “dregs,” which McWhorter does mention earlier. But he characterizes the Latin word as “euphemistic,” which doesn’t jibe with an emphasis on noxiousness.

~ I removed the awkward phrase that ends the first sentence.

~ It may be that I’ve drained some color from this paragraph. But if your point is to illustrate the use of shit as a metaphor, the description of a dining-hall manager is beside it. And this description of a brilliantined, mustached man with a keening, petulant voice smacks too much of some sort of ethnic and/or sexual stereotype.

~ “But the man is relevant to us”: I hate condescension.

~ I’ve changed the final sentence to echo “metaphorical meaning.” And I’ve removed “burden and insult” to let the idea of what’s noxious or unwelcome carry the meaning here. Giving someone a homework assignment might burden them, but it’s not necessarily giving them shit.

And now it occurs to me that I’ve written another “How to improve writing” post. This one is no. 95.

Related reading
All OCA “How to improve writing” posts (Pinboard) : John McWhorter’s me

[Benjamin Dreyer and Steven Pinker have both blurbed this book. And Bill Maher has praised it. Yikes, yikes, and yikes again.]

An Aldi find

A seasonal item at Aldi: Brussels sprouts with balsamic-glazed bacon. Though I think it should be balsamic-glazed Brussels sprouts with bacon. But either way, it’s a dark, delicious side dish. It’d be swell with Thanksgiving dinner.

Did you know that balsamic-glazed Brussels sprouts with bacon are a thing? I didn’t. There are many recipes available online.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Recently updated

Chock full o’Nuts in Brooklyn Now with more Chock full o’Nuts.

Eddie’s Sweet Shop

From The New York Times, “An Ice-Cream Parlor Where Time Stands Still”:

Often described as New York’s longest surviving ice cream parlor, Eddie’s is a neighborhood institution beloved for both its frozen confections and the fact that it has remained pretty much unchanged since Giuseppe Citrano, an immigrant from Southern Italy, bought it in 1968.
[+1 for the hyphen in ice-cream parlor. But -1 for the absence of a hyphen in the other ice cream parlor.]

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1934–2021)

The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi had died at the age of eighty-seven. Nothing in The New York Times yet, but Boing Boing has an obituary.

I heartily recommend Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990). Here are a couple of OCA posts — 1, 2 — with excerpts.

Sardines on a bus

In The New York Times Metropolitan Diary, sardines on a bus.

Related reading
All OCA sardine posts (Pinboard)

[Even when there’s big news, there is room enough for sardines.]

Big news

From Rolling Stone:

As the House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack heats up, some of the planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington, D.C., have begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Two of these people have spoken to Rolling Stone extensively in recent weeks and detailed explosive allegations that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent.
One remarkable detail: Arizona congressman Paul Gosar promised presidential pardons for all:
“Our impression was that it was a done deal,” the organizer says, “that he’d spoken to the president about it in the Oval . . . in a meeting about pardons and that our names came up. They were working on submitting the paperwork and getting members of the House Freedom Caucus to sign on as a show of support.”
That’s a novel premise: a “rally” whose participants are assured of pardons. Pardons for what?

I must point out that though she isn’t mentioned as a member of Congress with whom the planners met, Illinois’s own Mary (“Hitler was right on one thing”) Miller is a member of the House Freedom Caucus.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

John McWhorter’s me

I flagged this sentence when I linked to John McWhorter’s commentary on a professor’s showing of an adaptation of Othello :

Were me and my students missing something about which our modern era is more enlightened?
And now McWhorter has written a column defending his choice of me. Many readers, he says, insisted that the sentence should read “my students and I.” (Well, yes.) But McWhorter assures us,
I’m aware of this “rule.” However, my being a linguist is much of why I often flout it. The idea that pronouns must be in what is termed their subject form whenever they are used as subjects seems so obvious, and yet it is just something some people made up not too long ago. It isn’t how English works from a scientific perspective.
The examples he uses to cast doubt on this “rule”: 1. we don’t say “I and you know,” and 2. if someone asks who did it, we answer “Me,” not “I.” Yes, and yes. But that’s because you and I and this use of me are idiomatic, just as aren’t, not amn’t, is the standard contraction for am I not. That’s just the way the language goes, and there’s nothing “scientific” about it.

McWhorter goes on to assert that
before or after a conjunction, one may use either I or me : “You and me know”; “Me and you know.” This is true of subject versus object forms of he, she, we and they, as well: “You and him know”; “Her and me know.”
He also gives the okay to between you and I :
Shakespeare used “between you and I,” for example, in The Merchant of Venice. English speakers simply sense I as OK when it sits a certain distance from the preposition, such as after a pronoun plus an and.
There’s what an astute editor (whose blog has disappeared) called the “Jane Austen” fallacy — if Jane Austen, &c. used it, it must be okay. As that editor wrote, “past usage does not justify modern practice.”

And now I’m thinking of a cringe-worthy line from the Brian Wilson song “The Night Was So Young”: “Love was made for her and I.” I’m not sure what John McWhorter would say about those pronouns.

My conclusion: if readers wonder about a sentence, if the sentence looks blatantly wrong, if the sentence displaces attention to your argument, if you feel obliged to take 1,210 words to justify that sentence, you’re doing it wrong. A wiser strategy: practice what Garner’s Modern English Usage calls preventive grammar. Faced, for instance, with the choice between “Neither you nor I am a plumber” and “Neither you nor I are a plumber,”
The best recourse is a rewording. Why perpetrate a sentence that’s awkward but arguably defensible? A sentence that’s only defensible will raise doubts in the reasonable reader’s mind.
Thus: “You’re not a plumber, and neither am I.”

I told Elaine about the plumber sentences, and both her and me came up with Bryan Garner’s recommended rewording.

But of course John McWhorter wasn’t even faced with an awkward choice between two ugly sentences. “Were my students and I missing out” is good English. “Were me and my students missing out” isn’t. Even if one insists that we look at language “from a scientific perspective,” it’s still a good idea not to create distraction.

And speaking of distraction, look again at these sentences:
I’m aware of this “rule.” However, my being a linguist is much of why I often flout it.
So much better:
I’m aware of this “rule,” but as a linguist, I often choose to flout it.
But not, I bet, in official correspondence at Columbia U.

Chock full o’Nuts in Brooklyn

[519 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, c. 1939–1941. Click for a larger view of the many details, including the plucky luncheonette next door.]

The 1940 Brooklyn telephone directory lists two Chock full o’Nuts locations. This is the one for which there’s a tax photograph.

The strange part: when I was a kid and our family went shopping on weekends, we’d get lunch from Chock full o’Nuts. Abraham & Straus, a department store of the day, stood at 422 Fulton Street. We may have been getting lunch from this Chock. As I remember it, we’d eat in the car. It was no doubt impossible to find four open stools in a row on a Saturday.

Abraham & Straus was subsumed by Macy’s in 1995. Everything changes.

Thanks to Joe DiBiase for catching my mistake with the address and putting the location of this Chock full o’Nuts — 519 Fulton, not 159 — back on the map.


An informed reader informs me that in the 1970s there were two Chock full o’Nuts outlets on Fulton Street, at 451 and 538. Here from the blog Then and Now is a post with a photograph of 451 (now a pawnshop). Note also in the post the addresses of present-day Chock Cafés in Brooklyn: 1510 Avenue J and 1611 Avenue M. It appears that only the Avenue M outlet is still going.

Thanks, Brian.

Related reading
All OCA Chock full o’Nuts posts (Pinboard)

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Today’s Saturday Stumper

[A caution: there’s one very slight spoiler at the end of this post.]

I think it’s safe to say that the Newsday Saturday Stumper is back. Every Newsday Saturday crossword since August 7 has been a Stumper. To quote Peppa Pig and friends, “Hooray!” Today’s puzzle, by Greg Johnson, is chockablock with clever clues. Remember when people used to say “chockablock”? Me neither. But someone must have. It is, after all, a word.

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

1-D, nine letters, “French zipper (no, not a minor boast).” I had no idea this word exists.

3-D, nine letters, “They tell only half the story.” A wonderful clue.

14-D, five letters, “Inedible chips, frequently.” Aha.

26-A, four letters, “Stand-in for absentees.” The clue adds value to a common answer.

32-A, three letters, “Construction site carrier.” I am a tileman’s son, so I better know this, even if it’s not used in tile work.

33-D, nine letters, “Uncommon bank deposit.” A recent puzzle or two readied me for this clue.

37-D, eight letters, “Six-decade game show panelist in A Night at the Opera.” This clue might be better phrased like so: “Six-decade game show panelist who appeared in A Night at the Opera.” There was no six-decade game show panelist in the movie. But the person in question did speak at Elaine’s graduation from Juilliard. Our household is a 37-D-friendly zone.

35-A, seven letters, “Above-center piano key.” I am a piano player of sorts, but I was not familiar with this term.

38-A, seven letters, “Serving in a paper cup.” A much nicer answer than I anticipated. I was thinking of the dispensation of meds in institutional settings.

55-A, four letters, “Carbs around fillings.” Clever.

60-A, eight letters, “Log-shaped desserts.” What? I’m sure they’re chockablock with goodness.

One clue I would take issue with: 54-A, five letters, “Big name on cake boxes.” Well, no. An alternative (and maybe arcane) clue: “Fatha of ‘Rosetta.’”

No real spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Sisyphus in Harlem

It’s still Saturday. John Grimes is sweeping.

James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953).

Also from James Baldwin
“The burden is reality” : “Every corner, angle, crevice” : “Life is tragic” : “She was Sanctified holy” : “Somewhere in time” : “What we make happen”

Manufacturing vinyl records

“A couple of years ago, a new record could be turned around in a few months; now it can take up to a year, wreaking havoc on artists’ release plans”: The New York Times reports on the difficulties of manufacturing vinyl records.

Thursday, October 21, 2021


From The New York Times:

Five veterans tapped to advise Senator Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, resigned from their posts on Thursday, publicly accusing her of “hanging your constituents out to dry” in the latest sign of growing hostility toward a centrist who has emerged as a key holdout on President Biden’s agenda.
It’s difficult to understand how being a “key holdhout,” a party of one, makes someone a “centrist.”

[Maybe it’s a party of two, but it’s impossible to know, because Sinema, unlike Joe Manchin, gives no indication of what she’ll support.]

New directions in academia

In the news:

Staff shortages at Michigan State University prompted an unusual request this week: A senior administrator asked colleagues to volunteer to clean tables and prepare and serve food in the cafeterias.

“Faculty and staff from around campus are invited to sign up to assist in the dining halls!” wrote Vennie Gore, senior vice president for residential and hospitality services and auxiliary enterprises, to an email list of deans, directors, and chairs. “We have specific needs during evenings and weekends. I ask that you share this message with your departments and units.”
“Faculty and staff from around campus are invited to sign up to assist in the dining halls!”: I like the cheerful exclamation point, which is obligatory in missives trying to make what’s unappetizing seem appetizing. No pun intended.

“Senior vice president for residential and hospitality services and auxiliary enterprises”: in other words, he is one of the people who run food services. His salary in 2020: $292,857, “274 percent higher than average and 354 percent higher than median salary in Michigan State University.”

Will time in the dining halls (eight hours a week!) count as university service, to be applied toward retention, promotion, or tenure?

Thanks, Diane! (Yes, that’s a cheerful exclamation point.)

[A longer article in The Chronicle of Higher Education requires an account.]

“Every corner, angle, crevice”

It is John Grimes’s fourteenth birthday. He is cleaning his family’s Harlem apartment, as he does every Saturday.

James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953).

I think of James Joyce’s “Eveline”: “She looked round the room, reviewing all its familiar objects which she had dusted once a week for so many years, wondering where on earth all the dust came from.”

Also from James Baldwin
“The burden is reality” : “Life is tragic” : “She was Sanctified holy” : “Somewhere in time” : “What we make happen”

[“He who is filthy”: Revelation 22:11.]

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Firing Frank Lloyd Wright

“I am sick and tired of hearing people say Mr. Wright is wonderful, but he is not practical”: “”How to Fire Frank Lloyd Wright” (The MIT Press Reader).

Thanks, Elaine.

Related reading and listening
“Usonia 1” : “Usonia the Beautiful” (99% Invisible)

Diacritics with an external iPad keyboard

With a Mac, iPad, or iPhone, you just hold down a key to get a display of characters with diacritics. With an external iPad keyboard, diacritics are not especially intuitive. The Option key (⌥) is key. Briefly:

⌥ + E, followed by letter: acute accent

⌥ + `, followed by letter: grave accent

⌥ + I, followed by letter: circumflex

⌥ + N, followed by letter: tilde

⌥ + U, followed by letter: umlaut

⌥ + C: cedilla
Thus déjà vu, fête, mañana, Mädchen, garçon.

The key combination that needs glossing is ⌥ + `, which uses the sadly neglected accent that sits below the tilde in the upper-left corner of the keyboard. Yes, it might be mistaken for a single quotation mark.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021


[Click for a larger skullface.]

It appears to be faintly smiling. I think it knows something.

[My first thought was “Cookie Monster.” But the skull shape is so clear, and Halloween is approaching. I say Skullface.]

A guest lecture

I had a guest lecturer coming to talk to my class. When I walked into the room, the guest was already there, standing at the front of the room, ready to begin. I said I first wanted to take a minute or two to show my students how I had solved a problem with a sentence. I handed out strips of paper with the sentence, which was about Lorine Niedecker’s poetry, and had something to do with making clear the difference between “blue-black and green” and “blue, black, and green.”

I took a seat and looked for my copy of the sentence in the sheaf of papers I’d brought to class and found another strip of paper with a much longer sentence about political philosophy. And I realized that there was nothing in it about colors. I asked the student sitting next to me if I could borrow his strip of paper. I had just handed out copies, but he didn’t have one.

Then a student two desks away volunteered how much he liked Simon and Garfunkel. Yes, I said, Paul Simon’s songs really hold up, though I always thought that Simon and Garfunkel’s albums suffer from too much production.

Half an hour of class time had now gone by. Twenty minutes left.

Another student volunteered to let me borrow her strip of paper. It was, she explained, in her underwear. She proceeded to remove her bloomers from under her dress — yes, bloomers, bright pink, made of crepe — and handed them to me. I asked her if she could remove the piece of paper herself.

Related reading
All OCA teaching dreams (Pinboard)

[This is the twenty-third teaching-related dream I’ve had since retiring. In all but one, something has goes wrong.]

Monday, October 18, 2021

“Idiosyncratic excess”


This sentence represents an extreme instance of Anne Brontë’s idiosyncratic excess and defect in the use of commas. I have not deleted the formally intrusive comma after “Because,” because I have chosen to read it as an emotional notation indicating the staccato breathlessness of speech under high stress; neither have I inserted a comma between “a trifle more” and “I imagine,” which may therefore represent the outpouring of indignation Anne Brontë intended.
I think I’m going to stop reading the notes in my edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. ”Idiosyncratic excess” too often describes the editor’s commentary.

Gotham Book Mart

For many years the Gotham Book Mart (1920–2007) stood at 41 West 47th Street in Manhattan. But when the WPA and the New York City Department of Taxation were photographing all city properties (1939–1941), the Gotham made its home at 51 West 47th. That must be the Wise Men Fish Here sign hanging above the door. I’d love to be able to see what books (and prints?) were on display in the window.

[Gotham Book Mart, 51 West 47th Street, c. 1939—1941. Click for a larger view.]

Related posts
Andreas Brown (1933–2020) : Berger’s Deli : A Gotham bookmark, by Edward Gorey : A Gotham tumblr

[All the Gotham addresses: 128 W. 45th Street (1920–1923), 51 W. 47th (1923–1946), 41 W. 47th (1946–2004), 16 E. 46th (2004–2007). Sources: Bill Morgan, The Beat Generation in New York: A Walking Tour of Jack Kerouac’s City (1997) and a 2004 New York Times article.]

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Merriam-Webster and Typeshift

“The standards for word-based games continue to evolve”: The Washington Post reports on a dictionary, a game, and words.

John McWhorter on Othello at Michigan

I find myself disagreeing with John McWhorter about lots of things. (For instance.) But I think his discussion of Othello at Michigan gets it right.

[But “Were me and my students missing something”? Block that pronoun: “my students and I.”]

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper is by “Lester Ruff,” or Stan Newman, the puzzle’s editor. It felt to me like a New Yorker Monday — not too rough (but also not as self-consciously hep). A kinder, gentler Stumper.

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

1-D, four letters, “Partner in eye health.” I’ve known the answer from childhood, but with no relation to eye health.

10-D, seven letters, “Big name in big heads.” EGOTISM? No, that’s a word, not a name. It’s a good clue for an ugly, ugly name.

14-A, ten letters, “What may infuse olive oil.” MOREGARLIC? This idea is new to me.

13-D, five letters, “Apple, mostly.” What kind of Apple/apple?

17-A, ten letters, “Rather soft.” I liked seeing the answer, new to me in crosswords.

20-A, nine letters, “45 descendants.” Ugh — I thought of you-know-who. Fortunately, the answer has nothing to do with his spawn.

25-D, four letters, “They may get into a jam.” Yes, but it’s harmless fun.

26-D, ten letters, “Number associated with Yale.” I sometimes wonder what it might be like to be a Yale grad and see oneself — as ELI — in crosswords day after day. Would one preen? Swell with self-regard? The closest I’ve gotten to Yale: 1. watching Gilmore Girls, 2. eating pizza from Frank Pepe, though not at the same time.

34-A, three letters, “Olympic VIP.” Ha.

56-A, ten letters, “Crime story where the perpetrator is revealed early.” New to me, but I realize that it describes every episode of Colombo. Is this a well-known term?

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

National Dictionary Day

In case you hadn’t noticed: it’s National Dictionary Day. Here to celebrate are some pages from an unusual item available at, a salesperson’s 1937 demonstration model of Webster’s New International Dictionary, second edition, aka Webster’s Second or W2.

The comments at are cranky: “random pages,” “of little or no value.” What the commenters fail to understand is that this item isn’t the dictionary but a tool with which to sell the dictionary. Thus, promotional pages, front matter, color plates, sample pages of entries, an advertisement for dictionary stands, and endorsements. “Here for the seeker are many evenings of word orgies,” promises O. O. McIntyre, newspaper columnist.

Click on any image for a much larger view. And don’t miss the weigh-in.

Dictionaries are in the news today: Madeline Kripke’s dictionary collection will have a new home in Indiana University’s Lilly Library.

Related reading
All OCA dictionary posts (Pinboard)

Friday, October 15, 2021

Mongol sighting

[Elizabeth Wilson as Dr. Anna Willson, Cliff Robertson as Lee Tucker. From Man on a Swing (dir. Frank Perry, 1974). Click either image for a larger view.]

Elizabeth Wilson might be recognizable as “Mrs. Braddock” (no first name), Ben’s mother in The Graduate. A Mongol pencil is always recognizable as itself.

Related reading
All OCA Mongol pencil posts (Pinboard)

“”Think metric!”

[Peanuts, October 18, 1974.]

Peppermint Patty’s reaction to Franklin’s whisper: “AAUGHH!”

Wikipedia notes that “the International System of Units has been adopted as the official system of weights and measures by all nations in the world except for Myanmar, Liberia, and the United States.” Yesterday’s Peanuts truly is today’s Peanuts.

I’m not sure how the sequencing works, but there may be a Sunday “Think Metric” Peanuts coming in the near near future.

Related reading
All OCA Peanuts posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, October 14, 2021

A notebook and a pencil

When Gary Paulsen was a teenager, a librarian gave him a library card, then a book a month, then a book a week, and then a Scripto notebook and a no. 2 pencil:

“She said, you should write down some of your thought pictures, which I called them, you know. I said, who — for who? And she said, me. None of this would have happened except for that.”
Gary Paulsen died earlier this week. NPR has an obituary: “Beloved children’s author and wilderness enthusiast Gary Paulsen has died at 82.” And here is the conversation I’ve quoted from.

I’d never heard of Paulsen before today. Now two copies of Hatchet are on the way to our house.

Thanks, Ben.

What is a straight wire?

Or was.

People in old movies are always sending their telegrams straight wire. The term comes up, for instance, in the opening scene of Executive Suite (dir. Robert Wise, 1954), which must be the greatest telegram scene in film, with a clerk counting the words and making change. Neither Webster’s Second nor Third has a definition. Nor does Wikipedia’s article on telegrams. But look:

A straight wire is sent immediately. It’s likened to first-class mail. A night telegram, like third-class mail, gets deferred handling. [Click for a larger explanation.]

This explanation appears in a handbook of questions and answers about third-class mail, created by Harry J. Maginnis, Executive Manager, Associated Third Class Mail Users. It formed part of Maginnis’s testimony before a Senate subcommittee (Postal Policy: Hearings Before a Senate Subcommittee of the Committee on the Post Office and Civil Service, 85th Congress, 1st session, 1957).

Once again, it’s Google Books FTW.

A related post
How to send telegrams

[$2.70 in 1957 = $26.36 in 2021. Mighty expensive words.]

Lloyd Nolan

He was an actor: Lloyd Nolan.

Not Norman Lloyd. Not Lloyd Bridges. Lloyd Nolan.

And the more often I type his first name, the odder it looks. How must have he and the other Lloyds have felt?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Red Cars

[Hell Bound (dir. William J. Hole Jr., 1957). Click for a larger view.]

The extraordinary final minutes of this movie, shot on Los Angeles’s Terminal Island, include sweeeping views of junked streetcars. They are the Red Cars of the Pacific Electric Railway. So much for that great mass-transit system.

Also from this movie
A Ticonderoga sighting

Ticonderoga sighting

Just another day at the office: a Hawaiian travel brochure, drugs, and a Dixon Ticonderoga for jotting down appointments. If you squint, you can almost make out the name.

[Hell Bound (dir. William J. Hole Jr., 1957). Click either image for a larger view.]

More Ticonderoga sightings
The Dick Van Dyke Show : Force of Evil : The House on 92nd Street : Lassie : Lassie again : Perry Mason : Since You Went Away

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

It’s Ciattarelli, dammit

As a one-time New Jersey resident, I feel compelled to bring this matter to your attention. In 1994, Jack Ciattarelli, now the Republican candidate for governor of the state, did indeed attempt to ban cursing in the borough of Raritan. Talk about cancel culture.

As Elaine observes, Ciattarelli was pretty clearly overcompensating. Because thinggaboudit: if your last name is Ciattarelli (first syllable pronounced “chit”), whadda the other kids gonna call you? And if your last name is Ciattarelli and your first name is Jack — what then?

Says I, don’t cancel cursing. Change your name!

“This is not a sandwich”

Table and chairs with cut-out pictures of sandwiches on the wall [The Naked Road (dir. William Martin, 1959). Click for larger representations.]

The crudely scissored pictures of sandwiches on the wall are supposed to signify restaurant. But they’re whispering among themselves (after Magritte): “This is not a sandwich.” “Me neither.” “Nor I.”

The Naked Road is a low-budget affair.

Domestic comedy

“That guy looks familiar. Everyone on this show looks familiar.”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

[The show was Murder, She Wrote. Familiar faces in new arrangements.]

Monday, October 11, 2021

“Employees superannuation”

From The New York Times, the apostrophe, or its absence, in the news:

A missing apostrophe in a Facebook post could cost a real estate agent in Australia tens of thousands of dollars after a court ruled a defamation case against him could proceed.
At issue: the agent’s assertion that his employer doesn’t pay “his employees superannuation.” Says the judge,
“The difficulty for the plaintiff is the use of the word ‘employees’ in the plural. To fail to pay one employee’s superannuation entitlement might be seen as unfortunate; to fail to pay some or all of them looks deliberate.”
Related reading
All OCA apostrophe posts (Pinboard)

[Too bad a Times reporter had to invoke the ill-informed, melodramatic Lynne Truss on the apostrophe.]

Eleven movies, one mini-series

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

Rope of Sand (dir. William Dieterle, 1949). Diamonds are the center of this story of greed, betrayal, and vengeance, set in South West Africa (now Namibia). A hunting guide (Burt Lancaster) knows where the stones are buried; a mining magnate (Claude Rains) wants to find out. Peter Lorre provides Casablanca-like atmosphere, and Paul Henreid is brilliant as the sadistic head of company security. The one weak link is Corinne Calvet as the seducer tasked with eliciting Lancaster’s secret: I’d say this movie needed Rita Hayworth. ★★★ (YT)


The Naked Road (dir. William Martin, 1959). The stuttery digitized version of The Naked Street (dir. Maxwell Shane, 1955) — a legit movie, with Anne Bancroft, Farley Granger, and Anthony Quinn — was difficult to watch, so we took The Naked Road instead. It’s the story of a model who’s held captive by two men intent on making her work for their “public relations” firm. Incredibly lw-bdgt — so lw-bdgt that there isn’t enough money to buy vowels. Faintly redeeming features: Ronald Long as a lw-bdgt Charles Laughton, and Jeanne Rainer (Jeanne Rejaunier), who has a pretty astonishing life story. ★ (YT)


Autumn Leaves (dir. Robert Aldrich, 1956). I must admit that until seeing Harriet Craig and this movie, I never realized what a great actor Joan Crawford was. Here she plays Milly Wetherby, a self-employed typist who finds her life changed when she shares her café table with the much younger Burt Hanson (Cliff Robertson). He’s charming, insistent, and, soon enough, devoted, but there’s more to his life than meets the eye. Most remarkable scene: Crawford appears to age at least a decade when she learns some surprising news about Burt’s past — and there’s more news to come. ★★★★ (TCM)


Hell Bound (dir. William J. Hole Jr., 1957). Plays like a dollar-store version of The Asphalt Jungle: in other words, a perfectly plotted heist (here, of war-surplus narcotics) in which everything goes wrong. John Russell is Jordan, the vicious mastermind; June Blair (Miss January 1957) is Paula, torn between her loyalty to Jordan and her relationship with an ambulance attendant (Stuart Whitman).Many strange details: a meta semi-documentary voiceover, a scene that turns out to be a movie within the movie, Paula’s shoes, a baffling double-entendre, a blind man drinking milk in a strip club. Worth waiting for: the closing minutes on Terminal Island, with stacks of junked streetcars. ★★★★ (TCM)


Scene of the Crime (dir. Roy Rowland, 1949). The first minutes are promising, but this movie felt interminable. Van Johnson stars as a police detective investigating the murder of a colleague. He spends much of the movie shuttling between his sour wife (Arlene Dahl) and a nightclub performer (Gloria DeHaven) whom he romances in the interest of justice. DeHaven’s song and dance and John McIntire’s stoic presence add value to an otherwise mediocre movie. ★★ (YT)


Nine Perfect Strangers (created by John-Henry Butterworth and David E. Kelley, 2021). Tranquillium (in the real world a mattress brand and a med to calm pets) is a place for healing, transformation, et cetera, run by Masha (Nicole Kidman), an enigmatic sage with piercing blue eyes and a hazy backstory. To this luxe retreat come a family of three, a married couple, and four people traveling solo, all, in different ways, “broken.” So we get something like a cross between Big Brother and Survivor, with tropes galore, eclectic — or is it incoherent? — dabbling in spiritual practices, and an ever stranger, ever darker atmosphere. Forget Masha: it’s the guests who make this mini-series worth watching, and Melissa McCarthy steals it as Frances Welty, a writer of romance novels. ★★★★ (H)


The Many Saints of Newark (dir. Alan Taylor, 2021). At yet another funeral, young Tony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini, bearing a remarkable resemblance to his father James), and sister Janice (Alexandra Intrator) look at the made men in the next room and wonder what they’re talking about: and there’s my problem with this prequel to The Sopranos, which is always attending to surfaces — a MAD poster, a Mister Softee truck, the Palisades Amusement Park jingle, the ghastly drink known as Seven and Seven, and heaping platters of Italian specialities whose names I had to look up. Tony’s relationships with his father Johnny (Jon Bernthal) and his mother Livia (Vera Farmiga, looking and sounding eerily like Edie Falco) are left largely unexplored. At center stage: clichéd mob man Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola) and lots of violence in a war between the mob and a Black entrepreneur (Leslie Odom Jr.) for control of the Newark numbers racket. Despite the clichés, Dickie, who for reasons none too clear is Tony’s mentor, has the movie’s most surprising moments, challenging his father “Hollywood Dick” (Ray Liotta), going to the beach with mistress Giuseppina (Michela De Rossi), and visiting uncle Sal (also Ray Liotta) in prison, where the conversation turns to Buddhism and Miles Davis’s The Birth of the Cool. ★★ (HBO Max)


The Innocents (dir. Jack Clayton, 1961). An adaptation of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, with a screenplay by William Archibald and Truman Capote. Deborah Kerr plays Miss Giddens, the governess determined to protect her charges, Flora (Pamela Franklin) and Miles (Martin Stephens), from the evil that haunts their rambling, creaky house. It’s clear enough that something went on in this house between the now-dead gardener and the now-dead previous governess, and that the children heard and saw things they should not have heard and seen, and that the children are downright spooky, but as for the rest — well, you’ll have to watch. This governess and this movie scared the bejeezus out of me. ★★★★ (CC)


Detective Story (dir. William Wyler, 1951). A day in the life of Manhattan’s 21st Precinct, with all manner of odd characters dropping in: it’s a picture of a police station that must have influenced Barney Miller. At the center of things is James McLeod (Kirk Douglas), a detective whose rigid notions of crime and punishment will lead to a tragic reversal in his life. Surrounding his story are countless other stories and bits of business, courtesy of a remarkable cast that includes William Bendix, Lee Grant (overacting), George Macready, Horace McMahon (prepping for Naked City !) Cathy O’Donnell, Eleanor Parker, and Joseph Wiseman (also overacting). Lee Garmes’s cinematography finds every imaginable angle and character grouping in the station house, with lots of deep-focus shots. ★★★★ (CC)


Debate: Baldwin vs. Buckley (dir. John McGonagle, 1965). The hall is packed for a Cambridge Union Society debate: “Has the American Dream Been Achieved at the Expense of the American Negro?” James Baldwin, with nothing more than a crumpled piece of notepaper, is a stunning speaker, recounting what “you” as a Black American experience, then speaking in the first person as the embodiment of centuries of history: “I am stating very seriously, and this is not an overstatement: that I picked the cotton, and I carried it to market, and I built the railroads, under someone else’s whip, for nothing.” Buckley, with gratuitous insults and grand gestures and his usual clipboard, presents as a genteel racist. My one complaint: “the American dream” (which iA Writer flags as a cliché) is never defined. ★★★★ (YT)


Private Property (dir. Leslie Stevens, 1960). Long thought lost but rediscovered: the story of two drifters, Duke (Corey Allen) and Boots (Warren Oates), who spy on, charm, and menace a wealthy (and, clearly, lonely) Los Angeles housewife, Ann Carlyle (Kate Manx). Boots is Lennie to Duke’s George, with this difference: Duke is a psychopath who promises Lennie his first sexual experience with Ann. The threat of sexual violence that hangs over the film is offset by odd elements of comedy: inane conversations, non sequiturs, and grim clichés of suburban life. I wonder if this film might have been a secret influence on The Graduate. ★★★★ (CC)


Man on a Swing (dir. Frank Perry, 1974). From a (purportedly) true story: here’s Cliff Robertson again, as Lee Tucker, a police chief investigating the baffling murder of a young teacher. A local clairvoyant, Franklin Wills (Joel Grey), comes to his assistance and displays a remarkable knowledge of the circumstances of the murder. Grey makes the movie: polite, dandyish, or menacing; falling into a trance or suddenly appearing in the chief’s garage; an enigma as to his gift and his possible guilt. Watch for Anna Wilson (Ben’s mother in The Graduate ) as a psychiatrist and George Voskovec (Juror No. 11 in 12 Angry Men ) as a professor. ★★★★ (CC)

Related reading
All OCA movie posts (Pinboard)

Elaine says

Our household has been enjoying Chock full o’Nuts New York Roast as an alternative to our usual Chock full o’Nuts Original blend. New York Roast is more flavorful. “Dark, bold, intense,” says the can.

Elaine says that New York Roast tastes just like the Chock full o’Nuts coffee she enjoyed in her student days, when she was studying at Juilliard and teaching in the Bronx. Her Chock full o’Nuts stood at the corner of Pelham Parkway and White Plains Road. We have been looking lucklessly for a photograph of the location.

Related reading
All OCA Chock full o’Nuts posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Chock full o’Nuts

Time travel is not that difficult: browse a 1940 Manhattan telephone directory, then browse the 1939–1941 Manhattan tax photographs.

There are nineteen Chock full o’Nuts outlets listed in the 1940 directory. Many are not to be seen in the tax photographs. Some appear in photographs that aren’t especially helpful to the discriminating traveler. These two photographs are the best I could find.

[976 6th Avenue, at 36th Street. Click for a larger view.]

The building still stands, with a Taco Bell at street level. Those pedestrians are no doubt headed to Chock full for lunch.

[38 East 23rd Street, between Broadway and Park Avenue. Click for a larger view.]

This building, too, still stands, just down the block from the Flatiron Building. At street level today: Bambu, serving Vietnamese coffee, dessert drinks, tea, juice, and smoothies.

Those hatted men must be waiting on line for a seat. Take a look at this 1955 interior.

Related reading
All OCA Chock full o’Nuts posts (Pinboard)

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Block that metaphor

Andrew Yang:

“The question is: How can we bring the temperature of the country down? And I want to be the metaphorical wet blanket for the country.”
Merriam-Webster: “one that quenches or dampens enthusiasm or pleasure.”

Synonyms: drag, grinch, killjoy, party pooper, spoilsport.

In high school, we called such a person a bringdown. Aw man, don’t be a bringdown!

Perhaps Andrew Yang is harking back to nineteenth-century hydrotherapy and the practice of “wet-sheet packing.” In which case, again: block that metaphor. The doctor is out!

Related reading
All OCA metaphor posts (Pinboard)

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper, by Matthew Sewell, has many delightful clues and answers. But it is on the easy side. 1-D, four letters, “Name from Old Norse for ‘grandfather’”: I could guess at that. And then I looked at 19-A, three letters, “Muskrat habitat” and saw that I must have 1-A right. And so it went, mostly. This was another puzzle in which the southwest corner was a struggle, thanks to 33-D, eight letters, “4 Yards More sporting goods.”

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

1-A, ten letters, “Excessively angled.” Aha.

11-D, five letters, “Numbers put together.” I thought the answer must be about math.

15-A, ten letters, “Modern civil rights phrase.” Good to see this sentiment (a sentence, not a phrase) in a puzzle.

34-D, eight letters, “Coffee creamer flavor.” I would never use the stuff. But my friend Aldo liked the original. That’s why the answer came to me.

38-D, eight letters, “Hot tuna roll ingredient.” I’m glad I already knew how to spell it.

45-D, six letters, “Formal disclosure.” I thought it must be a term from the law.

51-A, three letters, “Letters in Prof. Higgins’ notebook.” Very clever.

62-A, four letters, “Walk-on part.” CAMEO doesn’t fit.

A clue whose answer I understood only after looking it up: 43-D, three letters, “Group kept in banks.”

And my favorite in this puzzle: 35-D, eight letters, “Poppy?”

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Less than, fewer than

Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News tonight:

“. . . less than [?] jobs added, far fewer than expected . . .”
I wasn’t fast enough to get the number (200,000?), but you get the idea. I can imagine a writer wondering, “Should it be less than? Fewer than? I know: I’ll try both!”

But there’s nothing wrong with repeating fewer here.

Feel Flows

Having made my way through the 5-CD Beach Boys compilation Feel Flows: The “Sunflower” and “Surf’s Up” Sessions, I ask myself, as I have before: was there ever a group that so veered between the great and the awful? Yes, the Beatles had clunkers now and then (“What Goes On” immediately comes to mind), but the Beach Boys — oh my.

This compilation alone includes “A Day in the Life of a Tree” (sung by a tree), “My Solution” (a mad scientist story), “Student Demonstration Time” (Mike Love’s rewriting of “Riot in Cell Block 9,” with lyrics that equate protest with rioting), “Susie Cincinnati” (she’s the city’s “number-one sinner,” a cab-driver/groupie, it seems), and “Take a Load Off Your Feet” (yes, foot care, with references to avocado cream, broken glass, and sandals). Yikes.

But then I hear the back-to-back album tracks “’Til I Die” and “Surf’s Up,” or the trippy “Feel Flows,” or the staggeringly good live versions of “This Whole World” and “Disney Girls (1957)” or almost any of the isolated background-vocal tracks in this compilation (for instance), and I’m undone. Even “Take a Load Off Your Feet” in a 1993 concert performance is weirdly glorious — and it puts to shame the current assemblage performing under the Beach Boys’ name. I recommend Feel Flows to any fanatic who doesn’t already have it.

Related reading
All OCA Beach Boys posts (Pinboard)

Domestic comedy

[After a partial rendition of “Nighthawks at the Diner.”]

“So do you like my Tom Waits imitation?”

“It affects me physically.”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Marie Wilcox (1933–2021)

Language rescuer and lexicographer. The New York Times has an obituary.

A mobile phone

From Harriet Craig (dir. Vincent Sherman, 1950). Harriet (Joan Crawford) to her husband Walter (Wendell Corey):

“Walter, maybe you’d better not call me. Heaven knows where I’ll be from minute to minute. But I can always reach you. And if you’re not at home or the office, you will leave word where you are, won’t you?”

“I’ll carry a phone around with me.”
He could never have imagined.


Mater, by Jason Long: “a simple and purty menu bar Pomodoro app” (free) for Linux, macOS, and Windows. Perhaps too simple for some users, just twenty-five minutes, then five, with no other settings and no pausing. (I’d prefer a three-minute break.)

But I like the box in the menu bar, looking like a calendar page or scale: to my mind, it’s a better choice than a display that shows time running down by the second.

Three related posts
The Pomodoro Technique Illustrated : Flow : Pomotroid

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

A Hamilton House postcard

[Linen texture, 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 in. From Digital Commonwealth: Massachusetts Collections Online. Click either image for a larger view.]

The text accompanying the postcard says “c. 1930–1945.” But we know from this tax photograph of 10031 4th Avenue that the Hamilton House could not have been at this location before 1939.

Thanks to an indefatigible librarian for finding this postcard.

Related posts
Green beans and the Hamilton House : Hamilton House cheesecake

The Grapes of Wrath, handwritten

The Guardian reports on the publication of John Steinbeck’s handwritten manuscript of The Grapes of Wrath. At the start is the reminder “Big Writing,” to keep things legible for Carol Steinbeck, who was typing. But the writing gets smaller along the way.

Related posts
Fambly : Steinbeck on the Blackwing pencil : Steinbeck on migrant camps : Steinbeck’s Salinas

And from pencil talk: Steinbeck’s favorite pencils.

Hamilton House cheesecake

“In the mid-nineteen-eighties I made six to eight of these delicious cheesecakes every Monday morning during my time as executive chef at the Hamilton House Restaurant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York”: from chef Monte M., the recipe for Hamilton House cheesecake.

Thanks to an indefatigible librarian for finding this recipe.

Related posts
10031 4th Avenue : Green beans and the Hamilton House

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Brian Wilson at his piano (?)

Two tunes, “God Only Knows” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” have now been released from the forthcoming Brian Wilson album At My Piano. I have five thoughts:

~ The performances aren’t especially interesting. They remind me — much too much — of the wallpapery piano music I hear in our nearby antiques mall. Pleasant, but I wouldn’t want to pay to listen.

~ The piano sounds odd, as if it’s been run through a filter and an echo chamber.

~ Given Brian’s typical approach to the piano — pounding chords — I find it almost impossible to imagine that these performances are of his creation. And given recent evidence of his pianism (for example), I find it almost impossible to imagine that these performances are of his creation. Again, it’s not that the playing is especially interesting: it just doesn’t sound to me like what Brian Wilson might be doing at a piano.

~ And these performances at times are what no one person could be doing at a piano. Listen for yourself: there is sometimes a third hand.

~ The Brian Wilson website has nothing in the way of video to go with this recording, an omission that seems telling. I would love to see Brian playing what I’m hearing and feel foolish for having been skeptical. But for now I will stick with my suspicion that these performances have been engineered and assembled. I think there’s more and less here than meets the ear — more than Brian Wilson at his piano and less than Brian Wilson at his piano.

Related reading
All OCA Brian Wilson posts (Pinboard)

[There are some poets and musicians I have to call by their first names. Ted Berrigan is one. Brian Wilson is another.]

EXchange names in directories

The telephone directory, informally known as the ’phone book, allows the user to look up the name of a person or business and find their number. Ah — there’s Mr. Passmore’s number.

But the telephone company’s directory allows the user to look up a number and find the name of a person or business. Ah — there’s Mr. Craig’s name.

[From Craig’s Wife (dir. Dorothy Arzner, 1936). Click either image for a larger view.]

Someday I’m sure I’ll tire of seeing exchange names on screen. But not yet.

And, yes, ’phone is slang, or was.

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 : The Unfaithful : Vice Squad : Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?