Friday, December 31, 2021

New Year’s Eve 1921

[“Drys Usher In 1922 with Many Raids.” The New York Times, January 1, 1922. Click for a larger view.]

Here’s to a new and improved year, with less disease, more sanity, and better prospects for democracy. Happy New Year to all.

[“A certain high sign”: tThe OED dates high sign to 1888. Am I the only one who had no idea that it wasn’t just an Our Gang thing?]

Last call

A 2022 calendar in Gill Sans, three months per page, with minimal holiday markings (MLK Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas). It’s a PDF, free, right here for downloading. I’ve been making calendars since 2009 with the Mac app Pages (using tables) and Gill Sans.

[Looming.]

Thursday, December 30, 2021

A fish-dish fish dish

[Maine Sardine Recipes (Augusta, Maine: Maine Sardine Council, 1975). Click either image for a larger view.]

A kind reader with great research skills left a comment on this post with a link to the pamphlet Maine Sardine Recipes. The pamphlet led me in turn to the website of the Penobscot Maritime Museum and a page about its Maine Sardine Council collection. The sardine industry is long gone from Maine, which once billed itself as “Vacationland & Sardineland,” as that page will attest.

Related reading
All OCA sardine posts (Pinboard)

Critter

[Click for a larger view.]

Beaver? Walrus? I’m not sure. But when I picked up this sweet potato last night, I knew it was also something — or somene — else.

[Thanks to the Mac app Acorn, whose Blur Brush and Vignette Effect helped me dispose of a kitchen table.]

Sardine art

Behold: images from a facsimile edition of Glynn Boyd-Harte’s Les Sardines à l’huille, described by the publisher as “one of the outstanding auto-lithographed books of the 20th century.”

Thanks, Fresca.

Related reading
All OCA sardine posts (Pinboard)

[Autolithography : “lithography in which an artist draws directly on the printing surface.”]

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Recently updated

Words of the year Now with one from The Economist.

How to improve writing (no. 98)

As I wrote in no. 75, “Every time I look at Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo, I end up rewriting one or more sentences.” Even the polls need rewriting. To wit:

Hypothetically speaking, would you be in support of or not in support of an exception to the Senate’s filibuster rule with regard to legislation involving voting rights?

☐ Would support
☐ Would not support
☐ I’m not sure
☐ Other / No opinion
Do you support an exception to the Senate’s filibuster rule in order to pass voting-rights legislation?

☐ Yes
☐ No
☐ Undecided
☐ No opinion
From thirty-eight words to twenty-two. Which question would you prefer to read and answer?

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

[This post is no. 98 in a series dedicated to improving stray bits of public prose.]

The best book of the past 125 years

Readers of The New York Times have spoken. Kinda predictably. Yep, the best. Whatever you say.

A related post
NYT “Best Book”

[At least they didn’t pick Harry Potter.]

Gorgias in our time

An episode of In Our Time made me think that it would be a good time to read Plato’s Gorgias. I had a fair idea of what to expect. But I didn’t know that there would be a discussion of medical expertise and its opposite:

Socrates: You said just now that even on matters of health the orator will be more convincing than the doctor.

Gorgias: Before a mass audience — yes, I did.

Socrates: A mass audience means an ignorant audience, doesn’t it? He won’t be more convincing than the doctor before experts, I presume.

Gorgias: True.

Socrates: Now, if he is more convincing than the doctor then does he turn out to be more convincing than the expert?

Gorgias: Naturally.

Socrates: Not being a doctor, of course?

Gorgias: Of course.

Socrates: And the non-doctor, presumably, is ignorant of what the doctor knows?

Gorgias: Obviously.

Socrates: So when the orator is more convincing than the doctor, what happens is that an ignorant person is more convincing than the expert before an equally ignorant audience. Is this what happens?

Gorgias: This is what happens in that case, no doubt.

Socrates: And the same will be true of the orator and oratory in relation to all other arts. The orator need have no knowledge of the truth about things; it is enough for him to have discovered a knack of persuading the ignorant that he seems to know more than the experts.

Gorgias: And isn’t it a great comfort, Socrates, never to be beaten by specialists in all the other arts without going to the trouble of acquiring more than this single one?

Plato, Gorgias. Trans. from the Greek by Walter Hamilton and Chris Emlyn-Gones (New York: Penguin, 1974).

Graphs!

From Alan Alda’s Clear + Vivid conversation with Steven Pinker, June 2020. Alda asks Pinker how he convinces someone that there’s less illness, less poverty, less violence, that things are getting better. Pinker’s response: “The answer is: I use graphs.”

Sigh.

If you are without access to proper medical care, if you are hemmed in by poverty or violence, graphs don’t mean a thing. No one lives life in the aggregate.

Pinker’s perky answer (which, of course, he elaborates on) has been stuck in my head for some time. I realize now that it sounds to me like the thought of a twenty-first-century Dickens character. Yes, everything is getting better. Look at my graphs!

Related posts
Jeffrey Epstein and Steven Pinker on overpopulation (yes, really) : Pinker on Strunk and White : A (withering) review of Pinker’s The Sense of Style

[The full exchange between Alda and Pinker may be heard at the 13:03 mark.]

NPR, sheesh

“We should be seeing a commiserate rise,” &c.

Uh, commensurate.

Garner’s Modern English Usage marks commiserate for commensurate as Stage 1: “Rejected.”

Related reading
All OCA sheesh posts (Pinboard)

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Word of the day: tragus

The word of the day is tragus, pronounced \ ˈtrā-gəs \: “the prominence in front of the external opening of the outer ear.” The word derives from New Latin, from the Greek tragos, “literally, goat.” Why is this body part likened to a goat? The Oxford English Dictionary explains: “on account of the bunch of hairs which it bears.”

Sample sentence: “The tragus should then be pumped 5 times by pushing inward to facilitate penetration of the drops into the middle ear.”

You can guess how I learned about this word. The sample sentence comes from the printed matter that accompanied my drops.

[Yes, an ear infection. And yes, there’s a goat in tragedy too.]

Well, or not

Honoré de Balzac, The Memoirs of Two Young Wives. 1842. Trans. from the French by Jordan Stump (New York: New York Review Books, 2018).

Balzac is not really my cup of coffee. But this epistolary novel has many rewards. Renée de Maucombe and Louise de Chaulieu leave their convent school and trade letters as their lives diverge. Letters from others appear as well. This passage is from a letter by Renée that describes what she calls the joys and terrors of motherhood. Well, or not seems eerily apt today.

[Armand is Renée’s son, named for Armande-Louise-Marie de Chaulieu.]

Monday, December 27, 2021

Pronouncing omicron again

“What is this penchant for using Greek to designate disasters?” In The New Yorker, Mary Norris looks at omicron and other letters.

I noticed a setence that needs improvement:

Though there is no universal agreement about it, many American classicists pronounce omicron with a short “o,” as in “om,” and omega with a long “o,” like an Irish surname: O’Mega.
As in “om”? I think that “om” here is too easily misread as the word om, pronounced with a long o : \ ˈōm \. Clearer:
Though there is no universal agreement about it, many American classicists pronounce omicron with a short o, as in Tom, and omega with a long o, like an Irish surname: O’Mega.
Tom goes nicely with O’Mega too.

A related post
How to pronounce omicron

[Why I added italics: “When a word or term is not used functionally but is referred to as the word or term itself, it is either italicized or enclosed in quotation marks": The Chicago Manual of Style (7.63). I replaced the quotation marks with italics for consistency. The New Yorker of course doesn’t use italics. The important change here is Tom for om.]

“Book-wrapt”

In its real-estate section, The New York Times hypes the idea of being “book-wrapt” in your “bookroom.” “Well-groomed libraries in brownstones,” we are told, “help spark bidding wars.”

Well-groomed indeed: five of the ten photographs accompanying the article show pretty meager shelves. How many books are needed “to make a place feel like home”? One thousand, the article’s expert says, and then he cuts that number in half, and the Times writer adds that “even that number is negotiable.”

Reading this article finally prompted me to make a rough count (with Elaine’s help) of what’s in our “bookroom,” which means our house, minus the bathrooms and the laundry room: about 3,200 books.

The Watts Towers at 100

“A hundred years ago, in what was then the semi-rural farming community of Watts, a 40ish-year-old Italian immigrant laborer named Sabato Rodia bought a little home on a dead-end block by the railroad tracks and started collecting junk”: The Watts Towers at 100 (Los Angeles Times).

The towers have been closed for for restoration since 2017. I feel fortunate to have seen them up close in 2014.

Related posts
Watts Towers : Watts tiles : Watts House Project

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Noir filter

[Click for a larger view.]

Elaine and I went on a walk after sunset last night. When I saw these street-light-lit student apartments and the strong shadows, I thought film noir? and took a picture. When I browsed the phone’s filters to turn the picture black and white, I found that the filter I wanted is called Noir. But I think it could just as plausibly be called Horror.

And now I am seeing this image as a still from a cheap, grainy, imaginary horror movie: Stairway to Terror. God knows what’s at the top of those stairs. I didn’t want to get any closer.

Zippy’s thesaurus

In today’s Zippy, a thesaurus. See also April 9, 1921. See also this OCA post, Beware of the saurus.

[It matters not that ‑saurus and thesaurus are unrelated.]

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper, by Matthew Sewell, is the most difficult Stumper in memory, or at least in my memory. Forty-five minutes last night, another fifty this morning.

This post is a placeholder. There is work to be done, to be done, to get set for the rest of the day. I’ll post some choice clues with comments later today.

*

And here they are:

5-D, ten letters, “Look before you leap.” Nifty.

5-A, eight letters, “What often accompanies a barbershop soloist.” I was thinking of background harmonies.

18-A, three letters, “Background figures.” A killer clue.

24-A, five letters, “Put one’s thumbs down, say.” I thought of a butcher and a scale.

21-D, three letters, “Bridesmaid duo.” Grr.

28-D, ten letters, “One on a panel.” I had to get my head out of academia, and I did.

33-D, five letters, “They can be used to find roots.” I was thinking about DNA tests.

36-D, three letters, “Document placeholder.” I know the newspaper abbreviation TK (“to come”), but this one is new to me.

37-D, eight letters, “Visually striking marine cavern.” I learned something that I hope never to put into use.

40-A, six letters, “Choice words.” My first thought was ABCORD, but A, B, C, and D aren’t really words.

34-A, fifteen letters, “What a trimmer might maintain.” Took me longer than any other clue, perhaps because I take exception to what’s being maintained here, or what it might be called.

43-D, six letters, “Uncle’s relative.” Nice misdirection.

57-A, fourteen letters, “Commencement accelerators.” STARTINGPISTOLS doesn’t fit.

59-D, three letters, “College class suffix.” A bit ridic. My first guess was IOI, or one-oh-one, which would also be ridic.

60-A, eight letters, “Abe Lincoln, as a teen.” My start in the puzzle, in the bottom row.

61-A, five letters, “Boarding announcement.” Clever.

My favorite clue in this puzzle: 39-D, eight letters, “Reasons to ask, ‘What was I thinking?’”

What am I thinking? That this might be the best Saturday Stumper ever. A Christmas gift!

No spoilers: the answers are in the comments.

Christmas 1821 in 1921 in 2021

In 1921, a New York Times writer looked at old newspapers to write about Christmas a century before.

[F.A. Collins, “Christmas a Century Ago: Holiday Gifts Which Pleased New Yorkers in 1821 — Vogue of ‘Vernacular Cards.’” The New York Times, December 25, 1921.]

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Sondheim with a Blackwing

[From Original Cast Album: “Company” (dir. D.A. Pennebaker, 1970). Click either image for a larger view.]

There’s Stephen Sondheim with an Eberhard Faber Blackwing pencil, his pencil of choice. Sondheim’s affection for the Eberhard Faber Blackwing — and for thirty-two-line yellow legal pads — is well known.

Note to a pencil company known, infamously, for its shameless and unacknowledged appropriation of other people’s work: Orange Crate Art is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. If you want images for commercial purposes, get a Criterion Channel subscription and get them yourself. And then see if the Pennebaker and Sondheim estates take kindly to what you’ve done.

Again, Sondheim is using an Eberhard Faber Blackwing, not a twenty-first-century replica.

I post these images in memory of my friend Sean Malone, the most dedicated and knowledgable Blackwing user ever known (and whose work was shamelessly appropriated by a certain pencil company). Sean’s website Blackwing Pages has many references to Sondheim. I would like to have been able to send these images Sean’s way. Perhaps I have.

Related reading
All OCA Blackwing posts and Sondheim posts (Pinboard) : Sondheim’s writing habits

Domestic comedy

[Watching the news.]

“She has the same glasses. But they look better on me.”

[Laughter.]

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

[It’s true: they do.]

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Streets

The New York Times, earlier today, in an obituary for Franklin A. Thomas, former president of the Ford Foundation, and the first Black person to head a major American philanthropy: “He rose from working-class Brooklyn,” &c.

The PBS NewsHour, tonight, in a seconds-long obituary: “He rose from the streets of working-class Brooklyn,” &c.

Ah, yes, “the streets.” A cheap — not to mention insulting — cliché. Not even the sidewalks?

The Times obituary notes that Thomas was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and “grew up in a tight-knit family of immigrants from Barbados.”

Joan Didion (1934–2021)

Joan Didion, “On Keeping a Notebook,” in Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968).

The New York Times has an obituary.

A pocket notebook sighting

[From Young and Innocent (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1937). Click for a larger notebook.]

Young Robert Tisdall (Derrick De Marney) must be innocent: on the run from the police, he still takes the time to write a nice note to his helper, Erica Burgoyne (Nova Pilbeam).

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

A Hamilton House menu

Here’s a five-page menu from the Hamilton House. Quite an array of choices, for an earlier American palate. Cold jellied tomato consomme, anyone? Anyone?

Related posts
10031 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn : Hamilton House cheesecake : Hamilton House green beans : A Hamilton House postcard

[The Hamilton House was a memorable restaurant of my Brooklyn childhood. The menu is, I think, from well before my time. Thanks to the reader who found it.]

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Bounce, no bounce

I was with my mom in the waiting room of a medical facility this afternoon. As I was getting her settled, I noticed a man and woman sitting across from us, the man with his mask under his nose. It’s a familiar look in these parts.

“Sir,” I said, “would you please pull your mask up over your nose? I’d feel a lot more comfortable.”

He looked at me and obliged. And then he got up and walked away, followed by the woman, who appeared to have no say in the matter.

“We better leave before I bounce him like a rock,” the man said, loud enough for me to hear. But I didn’t hear a thing. The man and woman went to stand outside, on the 30℉-ish prairie, rather than sit inside wearing proper masks. Someone would call them when it was time.

I did not bounce. If anyone bounced, this man did, followed by the woman, who appeared to have no say in the matter.

[This is not a dream post.]

EXchange names on the screen

[From Nocturne (dir. Edward L. Marin, 1946). Click for a larger view.]

This page fills the screen. The setting is Los Angeles, where GL meant GLadstone and CR could have meant CRestor, CRestview, or CRestwood.

More EXchange names on screen
Act of Violence : The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse : Armored Car Robbery : Baby Face : Black Widow : Blast of Silence : The Blue Dahlia : Blue Gardenia : Boardwalk Empire : Born Yesterday : The Brasher Doubloon : The Brothers Rico : The Case Against Brooklyn : Chinatown : Craig’s Wife : 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 : Hollywood Story: 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?

“How to draw a snowflake”

Today’s Nancy, by Olivia Jaimes, is exceptionally inventive.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Hagar in the Oval Office

Joe Biden has a framed Hagar the Horrible strip in the Oval Office (America).

Recently updated

Advertising 101 It turns out that spaniels have a history in sales.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Solstice

[4:32 p.m. CST. Click for a larger view.]

It’s my sunset, and I’ll post if I want to.

Advertising 101

[Life, November 14, 1949.]

Here we have an effective use of analogy:

Earmuffs : spaniels :: Champion spark plugs : winter

No, that’s not it.

Earmuffs : winter :: spaniels : Champion spark plugs

No, that’s not right either.

Here we have an effective use of analogy word association:

Spaniel makes the reader think winter, which in turn suggests earmuffs, which in turn suggests — Champion spark plugs?

No, wait.

Here we have an effective use of analogy:

Spaniels : earmuffs :: advertising : Champion spark plugs

Next slide please.

Are you ready for winter?

*

December 22: It turns out that spaniels have a history in sales. A reader passed this link on: Popularity of the cocker spaniel salesman. Thanks, reader.

Q & Q & Q & A

Tove Jansson, The Summer Book. 1972. Trans. from the Swedish by Thomas Teal (New York: New York Review Books, 2008).

It’s a wonderful book of vignettes from a summer on an island, with a six-year-old girl, her father (who’s nearly invisible), and her eighty-five-year-old grandmother. The shadow of mortality hangs over everything.

I wonder how many readers have known someone born in the eighteen-hundreds. I can count one grandparent. How about you?

[Thomas Teal is a distinguished translator of Tove Jansson’s work. I hope that NYRB will add a paragraph about him when this work is up for its next printing.]

Monday, December 20, 2021

From the department of irony

I walked into CVS this afternoon. Two employees were standing at the register, each with a mask hanging from one ear. I asked if the store had COVID rapid-test kits available. Yes, right up front, three full or nearly full boxes.

“You should really be wearing your masks,” I said. “You’re scaring me.” They put their masks on.

I bought three test kits in advance of Christmas. We are super-careful in our household and are even more so if someone is coming over.

Verizon, grr

Disappointing but not necessarily surprising: Verizon might be collecting your browsing history (The Verge). With directions for opting out.

When I checked our account tonight, I discovered that our fambly had been opted in. But now we’re out.

Bombas, 25% off

I am not ashamed to share this link: click on it, buy Bombas socks, and save 25%. And I get $20 to spend on more Bombas.

Bombas socks are great, the best socks I’ve ever worn. (Way better than Wigwam.) My only connection to the company is that of a happy customer.

Twelve movies

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

Nocturne (dir. Edward L. Marin, 1946). George Raft plays Joe Warne, a LAPD detective doggedly investigating the death of a songwriter: was it really suicide? The movie flies off in many directions: it starts with Laura-like sophistication, moves to the details of police work, visits a nightclub with a pianist on wheels, adds some silly comedy with Joe’s mother and another oldster, throws in some romance and a fistfight, and briefly turns meta when Joe stumbles through a dance lesson (Raft had worked as a professional dancer). Look for Janet Shaw (Louise Finch in Shadow of Doubt) as the dance teacher. And enjoy the glimpses of Los Angeles: a Brown Derby, the Pantages. ★★★ (YT)

*

Promising Young Woman (dir. Emerald Fennell, 2020). Carey Mulligan plays Cassie Thomas, a woman of a thousand faces: a med-school dropout, working in a coffeeshop, living with trauma and rage, seeking revenge. I thought about the Iliad while watching this film: here, as there, exacting revenge takes a very high toll when a loss is unredeemable. It gives little away to say that the shadow of Brett Kavanaugh seems to hang over the movie. Bo Burnham is the standout among the supporting players. ★★★★ (HBO Max)

*

Two by Alfred Hitchcock

Young and Innocent (1937). Delightful early Hitchcock. Derrick De Marney is an accused murderer on the run; Nova Pilbeam (young Betty in The Man Who Knew Too Much) is the police constable’s daughter who runs with him. Echoes of The 39 Steps, and anticipations of Saboteur and North by Northwest. Wonderfully episodic, with the children’s birthday party and the hotel dance as standout moments of strangeness. ★★★★ (CC)

The Paradine Case (1947). London: Gregory Peck is a barrister, Anthony Keane, married to a beautiful woman, Gay (Ann Todd), defending another beautiful woman, Maddalena Anna Paradine (Alida Valli), who is charged with murdering her much older husband. The contrast between the Gay and Maddalena anticipates the contrast between Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes) and Madeleine (Kim Novak) in Vertigo — and you can already guess that Keane, like Scottie Ferguson, will be going over to the dark side (here represented by a brunette, not a blonde). Can Keane return to the daylight world? Capable acting by all, but the movie feels long and talky, talky and long. ★★★ (YT)

*

Step Down to Danger (dir. Harry Keller, 1958). A low-budget, surprisingly good remake of Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943). The family dynamics are simpler and only slightly less creepy. Johnny Walters (Charles Drake), serial killer on the run, visits the folks, but there’s no niece in the family: here the relative who suspects something is the killer’s brother’s widow, Helen Walters (Colleen Miller), whom Johnny — eww — finds appealing. There’s nothing here to approach the strength of Thornton Wilder’s screenplay, nothing to intensify the incongruity of a psychokiller in Our Town. But it’s fascinating to see a director take up Gordon McDonnell’s short story “Uncle Charlie” and avoid mere repetition of what Hitchcock made. ★★★ (YT)

*

Too Late for Tears (dir. Byron Haskin, 1949). A story of contingency. After Alan and Jane Palmer (Arthur Kennedy and Lizabeth Scott) make a U-turn to skip out on a party, a fellow motorist throws a bag into their convertible, and Jane insists on keeping what’s in it: $60,000. When the money’s claimant, brutal Danny Fuller (Dan Duryea), comes calling at the Palmer household, Jane’s character comes into clear focus, and a battle of criminal wits begins. With Don DeFore (Mr. B. from Hazel) being enigmatic, and Dead End Kid Billy Halop renting boats. ★★★★ (TCM)

*

Strange Victory (dir. Leo Hurwitz, 1948). A post-war semi-documentary that’s disturbingly apt for our time. In the words of one of its narrators: “We live like a man holding his breath against what may happen tomorrow.” Hurwitz cuts from image to image, juxtaposing horrifying war footage with scenes from American life. At home: anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, war talk. Thank you, Criterion Channel, for bringing this neglected filmmaker into view. ★★★★ (CC)

*

Remember the Night (dir. Mitchell Leisen, 1940). My idea of a Christmas film, with sharp wit and much tenderness via a Preston Sturges screenplay. You can’t go home again, at least not happily, as career shoplifter Barbara Stanwyck learns, but you can spend Christmas with your handsome, single prosecutor (Fred MacMurray) and his family. It’s always instructive to see MacMurray as a real actor and not as the pipe-smoking, sweatered zombie of My Three Sons. And Barbara Stanwyck — well, she’s Barbara Stanwyck. ★★★★ (TCM)

Listening to Kenny G (dir. Penny Lane, 2021). Kenny G(orelick) is to music what Thomas Kinkade is to painting: a brand with mass appeal and little substance. The saxophonist presents as both preposterously egomaniacal and charmingly self-effacing: see for instance his idle pronouncement that he might get into writing classical music, so that people will wonder if a piece is by Bach, Beethoven, or G. This well-made documentary is filled with clips from G’s career (gee, he can do circular breathing), lengthy monologues for the camera, and commentary from music critics who explain why G is so awful — and yet, like spoons in Uri Geller’s hands, the critics begin to bend, which I guess is the magic of Kenny G. Now it’s time for HBO to offer documentaries about, oh, say, Albert Ayler, Sidney Bechet, Benny Carter, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Coleman Hawkins, Johnny Hodges, Steve Lacy, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Zoot Sims, Lester Young, Ben Webster — but I’m not holding my breath. ★★★★ (HBO Max)

*

Saturday Night Fever (dir. John Badham, 1977). I never once thought about watching, but after learning that one scene takes place a block from my child home, I had to. I loved the Brooklyn-ness of it, especially the coffeeshop conversation between dance partners Tony (John Travolta) and Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney), a little like a latter-day Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint. Tony’s confidence and cluelessness, the meager rewards of his work (a four-dollar raise), the boiling-over hostilities of his family life, Stephanie’s aspirations (two courses at the New School next semester): it all makes for a poignant story of limited means and long odds. Oh, and there’s also dancing. ★★★★ (H)

*

Park Row (dir. Samuel Fuller, 1952). Newspaper wars in 1880s New York, with the principled editor of an upstart paper (Gene Evans) at war with the unprincipled (yet still attractive to him) owner of an established paper (Mary Welch). The circulation war and the love-hate story are secondary here. This movie’s real appeal is in its depiction of the workings of print — paper, ink, type, and jargon (“printer’s devil,” “hellbox,” “30”). It must be the only movie in history in which Ottmar Mergenthaler’s invention of the Linotype machine is fictionalized into a plot point. ★★★★ (TMC)

*

Original Cast Album: “Company” (dir. D.A. Pennebaker, 1970). It was supposed to be the first of a series of documentaries about the making of albums, but it turned out to be the first and last. The recording session (nearly nineteen hours, according to Criterion) runs into the early morning, and what we see is a model of intense effort and generosity among singers, musicians, the recording engineers, and the composer (Stephen Sondheim, of course). I’m not especially attuned to musical theater, so I found it instructive to see Barbara Barrie, Beth Howland, Dean Jones, and Charles Kimbrough, all of whom I know from movies and television, in the Sondheim world. The highlight is Elaine Stritch’s attempt (at least eight takes) to get “The Ladies Who Lunch” right: weariness, frustration, and then, at a later session, she nails it, and for all time. ★★★★ (CC)

Related reading
All OCA movie posts (Pinboard)

Nancy and orbisculate

[Nancy, March 17, 1949. Click for a larger view.]

Figure 1: Aunt Fritzi is asking a question.

Figure 2: Nancy is pretending that she’s eating grapefruit. She’s also pretending to orbisculate.

I know that a website and petition do not get a word into the dictionary. But I’m at least willing to use the word. I think the word’s advocates need to clarify one point: is it a person that orbisculates, or a fruit or vegetable? Look at this page and you’ll see why I’m confused. The definition suggests that the verb applies to people, but the examples suggest fruits and vegetables.

Thanks to Kevin at harvest.ink for referencing the word in relation to Nancy’s grapefruit.

[Nancy is eating prunes.]

Domestic comedy

“Our knowledge of Los Angeles is vast and shallow!”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

[In the latest episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, “Igor, Gregor, & Timor,” we were pleased to notice and understand a passing reference to the Park La Brea Apartments.]

Sunday, December 19, 2021

RTF$

“Tucked into the second page of the syllabus was information about a locker number and its combination. Inside was a $50 bill, which went unclaimed.” It’s a story of life in college: “Professor Put Clues to a Cash Prize in His Syllabus. No One Noticed” (The New York Times).

And the syllabus was only three pages long.

A funny, sad story, but I have to question the word clues in the headline. Merriam-Webster:

something that guides through an intricate procedure or maze of difficulties

specifically : a piece of evidence that leads one toward the solution of a problem
If you tell someone looking for 123 Main Street to seek the source of acorns, you’ve given a clue. But if you tell that person to turn right on Oak, left on Main, and go two blocks, you’ve given directions, not a clue. The syllabus gave students all that was needed to get the money: a locker number and a combination. Directions, information, not a clue.

Thanks, Elaine.

[Anyone in academic life should recognize RTFS.]

Mary Miller in The New Yorker

There she is, Mrs. America, in Amy Davidson Sorkin’s commentary on the Republican response to the work of the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack:

When the committee’s recommendation that [Mark] Meadows be referred for charges reached the House floor, though, the Republican members who rose to debate it barely bothered to engage with the legalities. Several used their time to urge the passage of the Finish the Wall Act. “You know who doesn’t show up for court orders?” Representative August Pfluger, of Texas, asked. “Ninety-nine point nine per cent of the illegal immigrants who are served those papers.” Members spoke about fentanyl, Hunter Biden, mask mandates, “empty shelves at Christmas,” and the unjust treatment of parents who object to “some crazy curriculum,” as if the response to any criticism of Trump is to hopscotch from one of the former President’s obsessions to another.

When the Republican members did address the matter at hand, it was in startlingly vitriolic terms. Representative Mary Miller, of Illinois, said that the committee’s work is “evil and un-American.” Yvette Herrell, of New Mexico, said that it is setting the country “on its way to tyranny.” Jordan called the committee an expression of the Democrats’ “lust for power.” And, inevitably, Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, said that its proceedings prove that “communists” are in charge of the House.
You know what’s really “evil and un-American”? Attempting to overturn an election.

This is Miller’s second appearance in The New Yorker this year. Here’s the first.

Related reading
All OCA Mary Miller posts

What’s a candy store?

I discovered this morning, only partly to my surprise, that neither Merriam-Webster nor the Oxford English Dictionary has an entry for candy store. I think there should be one, because candy store does not always denote a store that sells only candy. It’s not an obvious compound. My try at a definition, subject to adjustment:

can·dy store \ ˈkan-dē-ˈstȯr \ n : an urban retail establishment usu. selling candy, chewing gum, lottery tickets, magazines, newspapers, novelties, tobacco products, and stationery, often with a soda fountain attached
Am I missing anything?

All the candy stores
4417 New Utrecht Avenue : 4417 New Utrecht Avenue, again : 4302 12th Avenue : 4319 13th Avenue : 4213 or 4215 Fort Hamilton Parkway : 4223 Fort Hamilton Parkway : 94 Nassau Street

More candy store

[Click either image for a larger view. But it’s better to click on the links below for the full-size photographs.]

From the New-York Historical Society, two more views of a candy store at 4417 New Utrecht Avenue, Brooklyn. In keeping with the N‑YHS terms of use, I’ve posted low-resolution images. It’s worth clicking through to see the astonishingly zoomable originals: 1919, 1922. Look for the Parcheesi boards in the store window.

This address still housed a candy store many years later. In my 1960s Brooklyn childhood the store was known as Picholz’s. More on the location’s history in this post.

Thanks, Brian.

Four more Brooklyn candy stores
4302 12th Avenue : 4319 13th Avenue : 4213 or 4215 Fort Hamilton Parkway : 4223 Fort Hamilton Parkway

And one in Manhattan
94 Nassau Street

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Someone at Crossword Fiend mentioned that the Newsday crossword is now in ten-year-old reruns for the holiday season. I hadn’t even heard of the Saturday Stumper ten years ago, so today’s puzzle is, as they say of TV reruns, new to me. It’s by the puzzle’s editor, Stan Newman, no pseudonym, and it’s a good one — which means that it took me about twenty minutes to solve.

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

1-A, seven letters, “See 23 Down.” Okay, what kind of puzzle begins with a clue like that? This one. 23-D, six letters: “With 1 Across, Baldwin’s mom on 30 Rock.” I think a better (non-giveaway) clue is in order, but I’m happy to see 23-D 1-A in the puzzle.

8-A, seven letters, “Now and then.” Clever. And have you heard John Lennon’s “Now and Then”?

11-D, five letters, “Net 26 Down.” And 26-D, six letters, “Scratch.” I am unreasonably proud to have gotten 26-D straight off, which somehow let me catch the trick in 11-D.

19-A, six letters, “It’s usually felt on the head.” A wonderful clue.

37-D, seven letters, “Put up or shut up!” The answer puts me back in my schooldays, early ones.

38-D, seven letters, “Loosen up, perhaps.” Terrific, and if you’re starting with the first two letters in place, you may be headed in a wrong direction.

43-A, eleven letters, “Food processors.” Okay. But the answer feels dated to me, maybe from a thirty-year-old puzzle.

46-A, five letters, “Host mail.” Technology makes this clue fun.

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Breakfast with Nancy

[Nancy, March 17, 1949. Click for a larger view.]

Yesterday’s Nancy is today’s Nancy. But styles in children’s breakfasts have changed.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Drinking and defending

From Assignment Paris (dir. Robert Parrish, 1952). Sandy Tate (Audrey Totter) is an Eve Arden type, cracking wise and going it alone:

“I may not believe in what you say, but I’ll drink myself to death defending your right to say it.”
The statement spoofed here is usually attributed to Voltaire. Quote Investigator suggests that it is “probably” Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s characterization of Voltaire’s attitude toward another writer. Sandy Tate wouldn’t care one way or the other.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Frank O’Hara was kidding

About the claim made in a New Yorker piece that Frank O’Hara typed the poems of Lunch Poems on a store-display typewriter while on his lunch hour: Joe LeSeuer provides some context. The source for the claim is the blurb that O’Hara wrote for the book’s back cover. From Digressions on Some Poems by Frank O’Hara: A Memoir (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003):

It turned out that Ferlinghetti had nothing against — perhaps even wanted? — an irreverent, tongue-in-cheek blurb, since he immediately decided to go to press. Incidentally, it is Frank’s facetious reference to his pausing “at a sample Olivetti to type up thirty or forty lines of ruminations” that led later commentators to assert that he sometimes wrote his poems on an Olivetti showroom typewriter. The dumbbells — didn’t they know when they were being kidded?
I guess at The New Yorker they don’t know that O’Hara was kidding.

And yes, I’ve e-mailed the magazine.

Related posts
“Distraction-free devices” (Ralph Ellison, Frank O’Hara, and The New Yorker getting its facts wrong)
A review of Joe LeSueur’s Digressions

Distraction-free devices

In The New Yorker, Julian Lucas wonders whether “distraction-free devices” can change the way we write. I’m not sure. But I do think that they allow a writer to think about writing — and not tabs, fonts, margins, and app settings.

In 2005 I hit on my first version of what Paul Ford once called “Amish computing.” I used the Windows app Notepad2 (still available) and a spellcheck script. When I switched to a Mac in 2007, I began using TextWrangler (since superseded by BBEdit) and WriteRoom. I still stand by what I wrote in 2006: Writing is not word processing. And in 2011: I consider a word-processing window a hostile workplace. I consider Blogger’s Compose view and HTML view hostile workplaces as well, but they’re tolerable if I’m writing a short post.

I now do almost all my writing in iA Writer. For anything that’s to be printed (that is, a “document”), I still use Apple’s Pages app to “process” — ugly word — my words. For writing of any length, I still start with pen or pencil and paper.

[Two mistakes in the New Yorker piece: Ralph Ellison didn’t begin his second novel (published as Juneteenth and Three Days Before the Shooting . . .) on a computer. And Frank O’Hara didn’t write the poems of Lunch Poems on a sample Olivetti, not as what Lucas calls “a cute stunt,” nor as anything else. O’Hara’s claim to have written on a store-display typewriter is just a bit of urban pastoralism, part of the “blurp” the poet wrote for the book’s back cover. (You can see the blurp here, in a letter to City Lights publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti.) If you do take the blurp as factual, well, it also describes the poet on his lunch hour withdrawing to “a darkened ware- or fire-house to limn his computed misunderstandings of the eternal questions of life, co-existence and depth.” LOL. Come on, fact checkers.]

The Greek alphabet and us

“Never did anything I learned as a drunken sorority girl prepare me more for the current world climate as learning the Greek alphabet”: from a Washington Post article about the Greek alphabet in our time.

My teaching experience makes me suspect that fraternity and sorority members learn only the capital letters of the Greek alphabet. But I could be wrong.

An odd detail from this article: a scientist who thought the names for COVID-19 variants should have “gravitas” and “familiarity” suggested using names of characters in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Gods help us.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

A gang of six

“How a half-dozen right-wing members of Congress became key foot soldiers in Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the election“: just out from The New York Times, “Meadows and the Band of Loyalists: How They Fought to Keep Trump in Power.”

Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, Jim Jordan, and Scott Perry (that name is new to me): they’re fascists at work. Expel them from Congress and charge them with sedition.

From the carny world

In The New York Times, Brooks Barnes writes about Nightmare Alley and his life as the child of carnies:

People don’t quite know what to say when I mention my carny past. Some are fascinated, asking if I ever encountered sideshow performers. (Read on.)
Yes, read on.

I’m looking forward to seeing Nightmare Alley. But I doubt that it will outdo the 1947 original. (Elaine thinks that 1947 is our ideal year for movies. We watched thirteen in a row earlier this year.)

Almodóvar in the Times

“To find his American equivalent, you would have to imagine that the director of American Pie went on to make American Beauty and then a film that touches the ugliest aspects of the American Civil War”: from Marcela Valdes’s long profile of Pedro Almodóvar (The New York Times).

Our household is an Almodóvar-friendly zone. We’ve seen eighteen of his films. If I were ever to meet him, I would use the Spanish that remains to me to say “Gracias por sus películas, señor.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Yikes

Our own Mary Miller ((R, Illinois-15) made the PBS NewsHour tonight. Miller’s brief moment on camera begins at the 1:22 mark in this segment. An unmasked Marjorie Taylor Greene sits behind her.

I wonder who wrote Mary’s lines for her, and what she thinks a “star chamber” is.

Related reading
All OCA Mary Miller posts

Domestic comedy

[The shelves were bare.]

“Pepperidge Farm forgot.”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

[Context here and here.]

Frank Cook (1942–2021)

He preceded Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra as the drummer for Canned Heat and later became a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. Here is an account of his life.

Frank Cook gets considerable screen time during Canned Heat’s brief but exciting appearance in Monterey Pop (dir. D.A. Pennebaker, 1968). Watch at YouTube.

Related reading
All OCA Canned Heat posts (Pinboard)

Monday, December 13, 2021

Mary Miller, troublemaker

“At the center of it all is freshman Rep. Mary Miller, a member of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus”: she’s hard at work making trouble for her fellow Republicans (CNN).

In office for nearly one year, Miller hasn’t done a damn thing for the people of her district — except make us look like idiots to the world beyond “east-central Illinois.”

Related reading
All OCA Mary Miller posts

“Mandit”?

An NPR reporter pronounced mandate that way, three times in one story: “mandit,” or \ ˈman-dət \.

Perhaps modeled on \ ˈman-də-ˌtȯr-ē \?

Reader, have you heard this pronunciation?

“Some rocks”

[Click for bigger rocks.]

There they were, where two roads meet, or diverge, depending on which way your feet are going. They are large rocks, aspiring to grow still bigger.

Imagine if Robert Frost had been out walking: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, / When all at once I saw some rocks.” Then we would have “The Roads Not Taken,” the poet (already with Wordsworth on his mind) having been stopped in his tracks by the sudden stony sight.

Frost’s “For Once, Then, Something” refers to “a pebble of quartz” at the bottom of a well. I think “For Once, Then, Some Rocks” would be a much more satisfying poem.

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

See also today’s Zippy.

[I’m not touching “Mending Wall” — too many rocks.]

From the PBS NewsHour

The PBS HewsHour had a story about whether people feel safe enough to return to theaters. “Absolutely not!” one person said. That made me think of something from Martin Buber that Matt Thomas quoted in a blog post.

Then the NewsHour went to Stephen Sondheim’s house. The house had a trick floor, with a small section of one floorboard that was held to the rest of the board by a metal pin at each end. A reporter pushed down on one side of the section, and it tilted, revealing $300,000.

When the house burned down, the money went with it.

Related reading
All OCA dream posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Recently updated

Another Brooklyn candy store 4302 12th Avenue, now with a Saturday Night Fever connection, or almost.

Another Brooklyn candy store

[4213 and 4215 Fort Hamilton Parkway, Brooklyn, New York, c. 1939–1941. From the NYC Municipal Archives Collections. Click either image for a much larger view.]

Or at least a candy-store location. Either 4213 or 4215 was the home of Mary’s, which sold comic books, water pistols, novelty items — in other words, life’s necessities. A curtain in a doorway at the back of the selling floor seemed to screen a kitchen. And indeed, Mary and her family may have lived behind and above the store. I never understood that these storefronts had houses behind them.

I have a hazy memory of Mary — and her father? — doing business from lawn chairs, what my family called beach chairs. I remember that Mary made change from coin reserves in enormous pockets (of a smock?). I remember buying reprints of old comics at Mary’s, including one with a hero who discovered his superpower when pulling baked potatoes outta the fire for the gang. I’ve never been able to track down that origin story.

When these photographs were taken, 4213 was devoted to ignition parts and repairs (if I’ve read the large sign correctly) and radio repairs. Even if you have difficulty spotting HARDWARE in the 4215 window, the key below the street number makes that store’s identity clear. The guy in the coat, obviously with the shoot, appears in several photographs from this block. The kids disappear after these two. It’s worth clicking to see details in the larger version of each photograph.

A 2019 photograph in Google Maps shows 4213 as Kim’s Nails. At 4215, W Sunrise 99 Cent Market. Search results suggest that they’re both still going. If you look closely, you can see that the brickwork between these storefronts, or at least part of it, is the same as it ever was. As Holden Caulfield would say, that kills me. It really does.

Five more candy stores
4417 New Utrecht Avenue : 4319 13th Avenue : 94 Nassau Street : 4223 Fort Hamilton Parkway : 4302 12th Avenue

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper, by Anna Stiga, “Stan Again,” Stan Newman, the puzzle’s editor, is easy — too easy, really. MEH or SOSO, in crosswordese.

Some clues whose answers interested me:

13-D, six letters, “Blunder.” I had never heard or seen the answer, which is both noun and verb.

29-A, twelve letters, “Yukon Quest and La Grande Odyssée.” I didn’t know they had such noble names.

35-D, eight letters, “Personal-care brand name since 1872.” Ick.

38-A, twelve letters, “What follows a successful shakedown.” BAGFULLOFCASH doesn’t fit.

49-A, ten letters, “James River tributary.” Can anyone spell the answer correctly on the first try?

50-D, five letters, “Two bells, to bosuns.” Right away I thought of Cap’n Jack McCarthy, who hosted one of WPIX’s cartoon shows for kids. “Eight bells, and all is well,” he’d say. That was at noon. So what would two bells signify? Alas, you need — spoiler approaching — more than Cap’n Jack to figure it out. But I enjoyed the reverie.

62-A, five letters, “Tablespoon fractions.” The answer interests me because it has another meaning suggesting something more than fractions of a tablespoon.

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Here in downstate Illinois

Any regular reader knows that Elaine and I live in downstate Illinois, where we had harrowing weather last night. This post is just to say that we are fine.

When we heard the tornado warning on our phones, we brought our electronics and musical instruments downstairs (as we have done many times) and watched the weather on local television for about two hours. We had strong wind and rain, but the closest tornado (quite close) bypassed our town, or nearly all of it. Other places were not nearly so lucky.

And now I am waiting for a news source to post some “How to help” links.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Shadows

[From Johnny O’Clock (dir. Robert Rossen, 1947). O’Clock (Dick Powell), a junior partner in a casino, and his boss Guido Marchettis (Thomas Gomez), in the office of Inspector Koch (Lee J. Cobb). Cinematography by Burnett Guffey. Click for a larger view.]

Yes, that’s a gold watch in the boss’s hand.

Among Burnett Guffey’s films as director of photography: In a Lonely Place , From Here to Eternity , and Bonnie and Clyde.

A related post
A miniature city

Night and the city

[From Johnny O’Clock (dir. Robert Rossen, 1947). Click for a larger view.]

A miniature city.

A related post
Shadows

Barry Harris (1929–2021)

Pianist, teacher. The New York Times has an obituary.

Here’s Barry Harris, playing in 2017, parts 1 and 2.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Giant telephone

[Life, January 30, 1950. Click for a larger telephone.]

Maybe an early version of the monolith?

See also: Giant scissors, giant pencil.

Telephone FTW?

“A recent study suggests that, at least when it comes to two people working together remotely, we might be better off going old-school, and scrapping the cameras”: James Surowiecki suggests that the world of work bring back the telephone.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Overheard

“Oh, it’s jazz. All they do is improvise.”

Related reading
All OCA “overheard” posts (Pinboard)

A mail chute in the movies

[From Nazi Agent (dir. Jules Dassin, 1942). Click for a larger view.]

This mail chute filled the screen. The florid handwriting, which belongs to a courtly stamp and rare-book dealer, fits.

This post is for my friend Diane, who has quite a (virtual) collection of mail chutes from real life. Diane’s attention to mail chutes got me looking at them too.

Doris Miller and democracy

“I hear a lot these days about how American democracy is doomed and the reactionaries will win. Maybe. But the beauty of our system is that it gives us people like Doris Miller”: from the December 7 installment of Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Pronouncing omicron

From The Wall Street Journal : “However You Pronounce ‘Omicron,’ You’re Probably Saying It Wrong.”

I go with this pronunciation: \ ˈä-mə-ˌkrän \, which is the way Dr. Anthony Fauci pronounces the word. Dr. Fauci, as you may already know, majored in classics. That doesn’t mean his pronunciation is the correct one. He may be making the word more easily intelligble for American ears.

A related post
How to pronounce omicron

[Yes, the COVID-19 variant is capitalized. But it’s the name of a Greek letter that we’re pronouncing.]

Chock full o’Nuts sighting

[Terry (Geraldine Brooks) and John (George Montgomery) and coffee. From Street of Sinners (dir. William Berke, 1957). Click for a larger view.]

That’s a can of Chock full o’Nuts, immediately recognizable, even in blurry black and white. Here’s a can in color.

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

The non-breaking hyphen

I saw something odd when previewing a recent post:

A modern rule might be formulated thus: when the -
ing (present) participle has the force of a noun, it preferably takes a possessive subject, especially in formal contexts.
It was time to look for a non-breaking hyphen. And one exists: ‑. Behold:
A modern rule might be formulated thus: when the ‑ing (present) participle has the force of a noun, it preferably takes a possessive subject, especially in formal contexts.
The detached hyphen seems to be a sometime thing, a matter of device or browser or font or some combination thereof — or perhaps it’s just the magic of Blogger. In the sentence from Garner’s Modern English Usage that I’ve quoted here, the hyphen sometimes detached itself and sometimes stayed put. Here, for the sake of the example, I’ve detached the hyphen by means of a line break.

A related post
Looking for a non-breaking thin space

Recently updated

Words of the year Now with allyship.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Heebie-jeebies

“The geek — he’s got the heebie-jeebies again”: a great line from Nightmare Alley (dir. Edmund Goulding, 1947), on TCM now.

A related post
“GEEK WANTED IMMEDIATELY”

Hallmark Holiday Movie Bot

Some are funnier than others, but for some reason, they all follow a pattern: Hallmark Holiday Movie Bot.

A little Hallmark nonsense

[Click for a larger view.]

This dialogue took shape as Elaine and I sat at the kitchen table holding cups of imaginary cocoa with both hands, Hallmark style. I took it upon myself to improvise some more in writing.

To the best of my knowledge, “skyldig till anklagelsen” is good Swedish for “guilty as charged.” Looking at previous posts about Hallmark movies, I now see to my astonishment one from 2020 that quotes “Guilty as charged!” as a line of cringe-worthy dialogue. Did that line lodge in my memory for later use?

I have no idea what this scene may portend. But I fear that He and She are about to stumble onto something like the Swedish original for Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” That’s not very Hallmark of me.

A few more Hallmark posts
“Double-extra whipped cream” : Hallmark hypercorrection : Hallmark and Prufrock : Hallmark rising : Hallmark trees : The Hallmark Zone : Instant Hallmark