Monday, February 6, 2023

ChatGPT’s twenty-line poems

I asked ChatGPT to produce twenty-line poems in the styles of major American poets. A number of tentative conclusions: ChatGPT has difficulty distinguishing “in the style of” from a hazy idea of subject matter. And ChatGPT assumes that almost all poets write in quatrains of iambic tetrameter, with clumsy rhymes and inspirational messages. At times I was reminded of the calypso section of John Ashbery’s “Variations, Calypso and Fugue on a Theme of Ella Wheeler Wilcox”:

Gazing at the Alps was quite a sight
I felt the tears flow forth with all their might

A climb to the Acropolis meant a lot to me
I had read the Greek philosophers you see
Here are the exhibits. Chat GPT didn’t provide titles for its poems. You may provide a laugh track.

With Emily Dickinson, Chat GPT appeared unable to distinguish “in the style of” from “about”:
A life of simplicity,
With words that cut like knife,
Her thoughts, so deep and true,
Still echo through the time.

Her spirit, wild and free,
Her verse, a mystery,
A world of insight and power,
A soul that feels no cower.

A heart that knew true pain,
A mind that sought refuge in verse,
A voice that spoke of love, loss,
And truths that we still traverse.

Her quill, a tool of grace,
Her words, a healing place,
For those who seek a meaning,
Her legacy, still gleaming.

So let us raise a glass,
To Emily, our guiding star,
Whose words still touch our hearts,
And will forever be a part.
ChatGPT has a little information about Gertrude Stein:
Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose,
A simple statement that everyone knows,
It’s a symbol of beauty and grace,
A color that brings a smile to our face.

But words and their meanings are complex,
And the truth of what we say is often vexed,
So we repeat and repeat with care,
To make sure the meaning is always there.

And Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose,
A reminder of all that nature bestows,
A symbol of life, and its constant flow,
Of growth and renewal, in rain or in snow.

So we hold tight to the words we say,
And the truth that they hold, every day,
For Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose,
And its meaning will never, ever, go.
Wallace Stevens GPT exhorts us to cherish and bask in beauty:
The world is a dream, a mirage of hue,
A dance of shadows, a play of light and dew.
Its beauty lies in the eye of the beholder,
A kaleidoscope of colors, forever bolder.

The sky is a canvas, a masterpiece of blue,
The clouds, a symphony, a chorus of hues.
The trees sway in the breeze, like an endless show,
A gentle rhythm, a song of life that flows.

The stars shine like diamonds, in the endless night,
A constellation of wonders, so distant, so bright.
The moon is a mystery, a story untold,
A whisper of secrets, that forever unfold.

So let us embrace this world with open hearts,
With grace and wonder, with joy and art.
Let us cherish its beauty, its mystery and might,
And bask in its splendor, till the end of light.
ChatGPT has enough information about William Carlos Williams to produce a poem about a red wheelbarrow while avoiding meter and rhyme. But that’s about all it has:
The red wheelbarrow
Glazed with rainwater
beside the white chickens.
A simple thing,
yet so much depends
on its functional grace.
The tool of the farmer,
carrying weight with ease,
rolling through fields of green.
A symbol of hard work,
of the toil and sweat
that brings sustenance to life.
Without the wheelbarrow,
the farm would grind to a halt,
leaving only emptiness.
But with it, the earth yields
a bounty to be shared,
nourishing body and soul.
So let us give thanks
for the red wheelbarrow,
a humble hero of the land.
Langston Hughes GPT has “heard the blues.” He too wants us to appreciate beauty. Because poets love beauty:
Verse 1:
I’ve seen the sunset, orange and gold
Over fields of cotton, the story untold
Of those who worked the land, in scorching sun
    and rain
With calloused hands, they toiled, they sought to
    sustain

Chorus:
For I am a child of the earth, so rich and so bold
With a spirit unbroken, a soul that won’t fold
I sing for the weary, the tired, the worn
For the ones who’ve been burdened, it’s a brand
    new morn

Verse 2: I’ve heard the blues, the lament of the night
With a voice that’s so sorrowful, but filled with
    delight
For it tells of the struggles, the pain, the strife
Of a people seeking justice, a better life

Chorus:
For I am, &c.

Verse 3:
I’ve walked the streets, of cities so bright
With neon lights, and the sounds of the night
For the Harlem Renaissance, it was a time of pride
With artists and writers, who sought to defy the tide

Chorus:
For I am, &c.

Outro:
So let my voice echo, through the streets and the
    skies
For all to hear, for all to realize
The beauty in life, the beauty in rhyme
For a brighter tomorrow, for a future that’s truly
    mine.
John Ashbery GPT also encourages us to appreciate beauty. And look — he’s plagiarizing Wallace Stevens GPT:
The world is a strange and shifting place,
A maze of colors, sounds, and shapes.
Its mysteries are infinite, untold,
A labyrinth of secrets waiting to unfold.

The trees sway in the wind, the rivers flow,
The sky is vast, and the clouds aglow.
The world is a never-ending surprise,
A constant change, a flicker in the eyes.

But even in this chaos, there is peace,
A stillness that whispers, a gentle release.
The world is a tapestry, woven with care,
A masterpiece of life, beyond compare.

So let us embrace this world with open arms,
With wonder and grace, with joy and charm.
Let us cherish its beauty, its secrets untold,
And bask in its radiance, till we grow old.
Frank O’Hara GPT wants to stay in the city:
I am walking down the street,
The city’s lights shining bright,
I hear the sounds of cars and feet,
As people hurry through the night.

I feel the wind blow through my hair,
And see the stars up in the sky,
It's moments like this I can’t compare,
This feeling makes me want to fly.

I think of all the friends I’ve made,
The memories that will last a lifetime,
And I’m so grateful that I’ve stayed,
In this place that’s always been so kind.

I see the city’s endless rows,
Of buildings tall and grand,
And I know that everyone knows,
This is where they want to stand.

So I’ll keep walking down the street,
With a smile upon my face,
And I’ll remember this moment sweet,
This time and this place.
And then I wondered: what if I tried an unmajor poet? Here’s Amanda Gorman GPT:
Verse 1:
Amidst the night, I stand so tall
With words that carry weight, words that will
    enthrall
My voice a beacon, a lighthouse in the sea
Of doubts and fears, it’s a symbol of freedom,
    you’ll see

Chorus:
For I am a child of the earth and its fire
With a spirit unbreakable, a soul that won’t tire
I speak for the silenced, the broken, the torn
For the ones who’ve been crushed, it’s a brand new
    dawn

Verse 2:
My pen is mightier than the sword they say
With each word I write, I pave a brighter way
For those who’ve been oppressed, I am their voice
With my words I heal, with my words I rejoice

Chorus:
For I am a child of the earth, &c.

Verse 3:
The world is listening, and I won’t be still
With every rhyme, every line, I will uplift and heal
For I know what it’s like to live in pain
But now I rise, now I soar, and I won’t refrain

Chorus:
For I am a child of the earth, &c.

Outro:
So let my voice echo far and wide
For all to hear, for all to take pride
In the power of words, the power of rhyme
For a brighter tomorrow, for a future that’s truly
    mine.
With that chorus, Amanda Gorman GPT is ripping off Langston Hughes GPT. And Gorman GPT repeats the same curious verse-chorus-outro structure. But that structure isn’t reserved for Black poets. T.S. Eliot GPT uses it too:
In the still of the night, I hear the city moan
With the sounds of the traffic, a symphony alone
For the city is alive, with a life of its own
And the shadows they dance, to a rhythm unknown

Chorus:
For I am a part of the world, a part of the scene
With a mind that’s so restless, a soul that’s so lean
I wander the streets, in a daze and a trance
In search of the truth, in search of a chance

Verse 2:
In the heart of the city, I see the people move
With a pace that’s so frantic, they’ve got nothing to
    prove
For the city is a maze, with a life that’s so cruel
And the ones who get lost, they’re just another fool

Chorus:
For I am a part of the world, &c.

Verse 3:
In the mind of the city, I feel the emptiness grow
With the weight of the world, it’s a burden I know
For the city is a world, with a life that’s so low
And the ones who find peace, they’re just letting
    it go

Chorus:
For I am a part of the world, &c.

Outro:
So let my words flow, with a rhythm so pure
For all to hear, for all to endure
For a world that’s so bleak, for a world that’s so true
For a future that’s bright, for a future that’s brand
    new.
I was hoping for “A future that’s bright, for me and for you.” I guess I’ll have to write my own poem.

*

When I showed Elaine these bot efforts, she suggested trying Charles Bukowski. Why hadn’t I thought of him? Perhaps because I sold my Bukowski books some years ago.

Beneath the streetlights, I stand and ponder,
Of all the drinks I’ve had, the nights I’ve squandered.
With worn out shoes, and a broken soul,
I roam the streets, seeking a new goal.

The city is alive, with neon lights,
And laughter ringing in the endless nights.
I walk the alleys, with a bottle in hand,
Looking for solace, in this lonely land.

The raindrops fall, like tears from above,
As I remember the women I’ve loved.
With lipstick stains, on cigarette butts,
I find comfort, in my drunken ruts.

I write my thoughts, in a crumpled notebook,
Of life on the edge, and the streets I took.
With every word, I pour out my heart,
And hope to capture, what tears me apart.

So I’ll keep drinking, and I’ll keep writing,
Until I find meaning, in this endless fighting.
For in the words, and in the whiskey’s flow,
I’ll find redemption, and a way to grow.

Even Bukowski ends with a message of hope. On his gravestone though: “DON’T TRY.”

Related posts
A 100-word blog post generated by ChatGPT : I’m sorry too, ChatGPT : Spot the bot : Teachers and chatbots : Imaginary lines from real poems : ChatGPT writes about Lillian Mountweazel : Rob Zseleczky on computer-generated poetry

Rob Zseleczky on computer-generated poetry

I often go searching for the past online. And thus I found (via Google Books) a letter about the possibilities of computer-generated poetry by my friend Rob Zseleczky, published in the February 1983 issue of the computer magazine Byte. Strange: a few days ago I took screenshots of the pages with the letter and did some cutting and pasting to make a column of text. And now this issue of Byte is available only in Snippet view.

[Rob Zseleczky, “Computer Poetry: Art or Craft?” Byte, February 1983.]

The key passage, to my mind:

An artist may draw upon any or all of his life’s history in order to pass judgment on a single word. His intellect, his moral integrity, his honesty, his passion, his love, his hope, his hate, his fear, his skepticism, his faith — in short, the sum of the poet’s whole existence gives him the ability to make artistic judgments. And a sense of tradition supports the artist’s individuality, which includes his powers of artistic discernment. Thus, in our ever-changing, prone-to-forgetfulness world, the popularity of computers is assured, but computers still lack what Keats called “the knowledge of contrast, feeling for light and shade, all that information (primitive sense) necessary for a poem.”

If you could accurately enter your whole life into a computer without leaving the minutest fact out, then the computer could possess a chance of becoming artistic. But even then the computer would have to be considered the protégé of its programmer. For now, computers may be profitably used as electronic thesauri, as servants to the new craft of electronic poetry-writing. As far as the art of poetry is concerned, computers will have to wait.
Right on, Rob. Judging by the poems I ordered up from ChatGPT this past weekend, computers are still waiting.

Related reading
Rob Zseleczky (1957–2013) : All RZ posts

Sunday, February 5, 2023

O.B. Rude Drug Co.

[O.B. Rude Drug Co. 5003 Fifth Avenue, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, c. 1939–1941. From the NYC Municipal Archives Collections. Click for a much larger view.]

Looking at this photograph, I went back and forth: Rude’s, Rex, Rude’s, Rex. I decided to go with Rude’s Drugs — I like how its sign (look closely) turns R into Rx. And it’s just as well, because after looking into Rude’s Drugs, I couldn’t find a thing about Rex Repairs. If it’s Rex Shoe Repair Service, as I suspect it it, the owner declared bankruptcy on April 13, 1940.

The O.B. Rude Drug Co. had a much longer life. Ola B. Rude established a pharmacy at this address in 1908. He and two partners incorporated the business in 1919. In 1931 and 1932 Rude ran the same ad again and again in Brooklyn newspapers:

[Brooklyn Times-Union, December 7, 1931.]

A Norske Apotek? A Norwegian pharmacy. Wikipedia: “Until the early 1970s, Bay Ridge was dominated by its Norwegian community.”

Rude died in October 1931, as reported in a compilation of Brooklyn deaths in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He left $10 to his wife Evelyn, who left him in 1927. Two sisters in Norway received $1000 each. Everything else — what the paper called “the residue” — went to Rude’s son Christopher.

In 1938, a new advertisement:

[The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 2, 1938.]

In 1955 and 1956 Christopher — now Christoffer — appeared in the Bay Ridge Home Reporter in photographs of gatherings of Scandinavian-American Business Association.

[Bay Ridge Home Reporter, March 127, 1955.]

And here’s a photograph of the younger Rude with a fancy cake.

Rude Drug was still going as late as 1960. Here’s a story with an unusual headline. Do click for Mixtura Brita and more:

[“Norwegian Compounds in Aura of Old Bklyn.” Bay Ridge Home Reporter, November 4, 1960. Click for a readable view.]

No wonder the store was still going. It gave good service:

[The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 30, 1931.]

Here is the final item I discovered, a brief biography with a photograph:

[Norske utvandrere og forretningsdrivende i Amerika: Utgis som minde i anledning av hundreaaret for den Norske indvandring til Amerika [Norwegian emigrants and business operators in America: Published as a commemoration on the occasion of the centennial of the Norwegian immigration to America] New York and Oslo: J. Burner, 1927.]

A translation, via DeepL, Google Translate, and a small bit of sprachgefühl:

Ola Bertram Rude was born on June 12, 1875 in Drammen, the son of the late photographer Rude. He departed from Oslo on May 27, 1902 and arrived in New York on his birthday. Immediately after his arrival he was employed as manager of a pharmacy in Brooklyn. After six years, in 1908, he bought his own pharmacy and established himself at 5003 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, where he still does business. Rude graduated as a pharmacist from the University of Oslo and is the only Norwegian-graduated pharmacist in the eastern states. He has one of the largest and best Norwegian pharmacies in America, and is noted for his conscientious efficiency and thorough knowledge of his profession.
He might also be noted for a more than slight resemblance to the actor Thomas Mitchell.

The Rude stretch of commerce — one side of one Brooklyn block — gives a nice sense of urban retail density. On the corner, Kane’s Men’s Clothing, followed by Rude’s, Rex Repairs, The Bargain Center, Merit Shoes, Leonard’s Meat Market, Weisslite Paints, O’Malley’s Tavern, P. Gleicher Floor Coverings, a Paints and Hardware store, S & L Public Market, and Fancy Fruit & Vegetables.

Google Maps shows no. 5003 for sale in 2022. Before that it was a Party Fair store.

Related reading
More OCA posts with photographs from the NYC Municipal Archives

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper, by Stella Zawitowski, is a toughie. It took me half an hour, with the greatest difficulty in the northwest and southeast. I kept looking and looking at clues, “Over and over and over and . . .” (30-D, ten letters). And eventually answers turned up, correct ones. Much difficulty, little joy, save for 37-A.

Some clue-and-answer pairs of note:

2-D, ten letters, “‘Fighting fuel’ of WWII.” I thought it had to be a foodstuff.

18-A, ten letters, “Craft presaged by da Vinci.” My first thought was HELICOPTER. I have to nitpick: the name is Leonardo. A helpful editor at the British Journal of Aesthetics once turned my da Vinci into Leonardo, and I have never forgotten.

28-D, five letters, “Part of a vegan crunchy sandwich.” I can’t imagine it, but if you say so.

31-D, ten letters, “Trash-talk.” I took a shot, thinking No, that can’t be. But it was.

33-A, five letters, “Domelike dispenser.” A bit farfetched.

34-A, nine letters, “Guy a la mode?” See 33-A.

38-A, nine letters, “Ear or eye.” Good clueing.

42-A, five letters, “Nickname on a singer’s ’72 40 Across album.” A lot of work to figure out these five letters, even knowing that 40-A, five letters, “First.”

51-A, eight letters, “Major trading partner of Turkey.” Next they’ll be asking for principal exports.

52-D, four letters, “Power source of little power.” Really?

My favorite in this puzzle: 37-A, five letters, “Get the 411, once.” So hard to see, these days.

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, February 3, 2023

“The witty outsider”?

On the PBS NewsHour, David Brooks just characterized Donald Trump** in 2016 as “sort of the witty outsider.” Wut?

Three more posts about Brooks
He misunderstands the term SNOOT : He says that everyone in the 1980s wanted “more integration and less bigotry” : On Bono’s “raucous go-go”

[Two asterisks: two impeachments.]

From Cartoons

A teaser, not a spoiler. Jeffrey Cartwright will go on to provide an extended summary of Cartoons.

Steven Millhauser, Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943–1954, by Jeffrey Cartwright (1972).

If this passage isn’t enough to move someone to read the novel, I don’t know what is.

Related reading
All OCA Steven Millhauser posts (Pinboard)

Another ChatGPT fail

From a 500-word ChatGPT production:

Lillian Mountweazel was a famous photographer and sculptor in the 20th century. She was born in Bangs, Ohio, on May 11, 1942 and died in an explosion on August 2, 1973, while on assignment for a photographic encyclopedia. Mountweazel’s work was known for its unusual themes and the inventive use of light and shadows, and was a major influence on the American art scene of the 1960s and 1970s.
Hundreds of words follow. But what ChatGPT doesn’t understand is that Lillian Mountweazel was not a real person. I won’t tell if you won’t.

The Lillian Virginia Mountweazel Research Collection has much more about Mountweazel’s life and work.

Related posts
A 100-word blog post generated by ChatGPT : I’m sorry too, ChatGPT : Spot the bot : Teachers and chatbots : Imaginary lines from real poems

Thursday, February 2, 2023

“THAT AIN’T HAY”

Edwin courts the mysterious and sometimes terrifying Rose Dorn. A partial inventory.

Steven Millhauser, Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943–1954, by Jeffrey Cartwright (1972).

Does Steven Millhauser understand certain varieties of American childhood? Does he ever.

This passage made me think of Drake’s clickers, little toys once included in boxes of Drake’s cakes. And my goodness — there are Drake’s clickers for sale at eBay.

Related reading
All OCA Steven Millhauser posts (Pinboard)

“Raucous go-go”

You know what Robert Caro says: Turn every page. Thus I found myself looking at a David Brooks profile of Bono in the December Atlantic, “The Too-Muchness of Bono.” For your consideration:

Rowing for heaven by day and drinking with superstars by night — Bono’s spiritual adventure is the greatest high-wire act in show business. You can’t help wondering which way he’ll go. Will he be ruled by his rage or his compassion? Can he find inner stillness amid the raucous go-go of his life? Can he keep his focus on the celestial spheres when the people on the beach at Nice are so damn sexy? Can he die to self, or has his permanent tendency toward self-seriousness and pomposity become too great? If the guy is so concerned with his soul, why did he spend so much time writing about his hair? The ultimate questions at the center of it all are the same ones that have haunted American history: Can you be great and also good? Can you serve the higher realm while partying your way through this one?
And while I think of it, I’ll recommend the David Brooks episode of Michael Hobbes and Peter Shamshiri’s podcast If Books Could Kill. I’ll recommend all the other episodes too.

Two more posts about Brooks
He misunderstands the term SNOOT : He says that everyone in the 1980s wanted “more integration and less bigotry”

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Beauty , defined, undefined

The CEO of Coty, Sue Y. Nabi, is writing to dictionaries to encourage new definitions of beauty. There is of course a hashtag: #beautyundefined. Nabi is quoted in Harper’s Bazaar:

“Of course, not all people are impacted by, or feel excluded by these definitions. But the implicit ageism and sexism in the examples were born in a different time. We believe it’s time to bridge the gap — time to bring the definition to where society is today. By changing the definition, if more people feel included — feel beautiful — there will be a ripple effect which touches us all.”

It [the campaign] doesn’t suggest a specific alternative, though. “At Coty, we believe that no one can control or dictate what is, or is not, beautiful,” Nabi says. Indeed, the campaign aims to “undefine” rather than simply “redefine” beauty, so that no one feels excluded by the definition or examples that accompany it.
There’s a certain incoherence in this effort: is the call for new definitions, or no definitions?

Merriam-Webster’s entry for beauty includes this definition and sample sentences:
: a beautiful person or thing
His new car’s a real beauty.

especially : a beautiful woman
She was a great beauty in her day.
And from the American Heritage Dictionary entry :
One that is beautiful, especially a beautiful woman.
The ageism of “in her day” could easily be excised. But the especially is reasonable: it is the case that the words beauty and beautiful have more often described women than men. And it’s important to notice that neither dictionary states what constitutes beauty. M-W :
the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit
And AHD :
a quality or combination of qualities that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is often associated with properties such as harmony of form or color, proportion, authenticity, and originality
Does Nabi realize that these definitions apply not just to people but to art, music, &c.? Either way, there’s something risible about the head of a cosmetics conglomerate pushing for a redefinition — or undefinition — of beauty.

Don’t miss the photograph that accompanies the Harper’s Bazaar article, showing models wearing lots of makeup. At least one model appears to be wearing colored contact lenses.

A related post
Being wrong about beauty

Music history, rhyming?

LL Cool J, in the PBS documentary series Fight the Power: How Hip-Hop Changed the World:

“DJs intially are like bandleaders, right? They were like Count Basie. And then the same way in bebop that people started singing to those riffs, how the vocalists became front and center, and how Count Basie moved a little bit to the background, that’s kind of the same thing that happened with the DJs and the MCs. You know, history doesn’t repeat itself but it rhymes.”
It’s a passing moment, but one that caught my attention. Suffice it to say that history here is neither repeating nor rhyming. Or suffice it to say that the purported history recounted here, of Count Basie taking a back seat to singers singing bebop riffs, has no basis in history.

This series, which I learned about when watching the PBS NewsHour last night, is filled with great archival footage. There’s an awkward shift from an emphasis on the turmoil of the 1960s to hip-hop, which began as party music, for dancing, socializing, and good times. But then Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message” comes in, and the documentary’s emphasis turns to music as cultural commentary and protest. What the documentary fails to mention is that the group was reluctant to record that song. Melle Mel, in 1992: “We didn’t actually want to do ‘The Message’ because we was used to doing party raps and boasting how good we are and all that.”

[Quote Investigator covers history repeating and rhyming.]

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

“We clearly f-ed this one up”

“We clearly f-ed this one up and it’s being fixed”: in New York City, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Communications Director Tim Minton comments on a mispelling of Georgia O’Keeffe’s name in stone. Just a single f .

Related reading
All OCA misspelling posts (Pinboard)

From an interview with Bryan Garner

From Oxford University Press: Sarah Butcher interviews Bryan Garner, “the least stuffy grammarian around.” She asks how it happened that the teenaged Garner fell in love with books of English usage:

You’re asking me to psychoanalyze myself? Okay, it’s true. When I was four, in 1962, my grandfather used Webster’s Second New International Dictionary as my booster seat. I started wondering what was in that big book.

Then, in 1974, when I was 15, one of the most important events of my life took place. A pretty girl in my neighborhood, Eloise, said to me, with big eyes and a smile: “You know, you have a really big vocabulary.” I had used the word facetious, and that prompted her comment.

It was a life-changing moment. I would never be the same.
I will mention again something I’ve mentioned only twice in these pages: I was a member of the panel of critical readers for the recently published fifth edition of Garner’s Modern English Usage.

Related reading
All OCA Bryan Garner posts (Pinboard)

Crafted, baked

I noticed this morning: Pepperidge Farm now packages its bread as “Crafted Baked Goods.” The company is not alone.

Orange Crate Art is not friendly to craft — a vogue word, to be sure. School assignments are crafted. City ordinances are crafted. Movies are crafted — from scratch. The vitamin and mineral supplement Airborne is crafted, specially crafted. Poems of course are not just crafted but well-crafted. And some baked goods are handcrafted. No doubt from scratch.

Monday, January 30, 2023

“Most valuble”

I don’t follow sports, but I do follow misspelling.

Related reading
All OCA misspelling posts (Pinboard)

Screenshots from streaming services

It’s become increasingly difficult — or impossible — to get a screenshot from a film or TV show shown via a streaming service. In Safari the result is a black box. It’s reasonable for streaming services to want to defeat thieves, but fair use tilts strongly in favor of screenshots. How else is one to get stills with mystery actors, pocket notebooks, and telephone exchange names?

Two Chrome extensions that (still) work: FireShot and GoFullPage. Screenshot Tool no longer works. I’m using FireShot and GoFullPage with Brave (I don’t use Chrome), but I assume that they are working with Chrome as well.

Related posts
Screenshots and fair use : Streaming screenshots

Get back Blogger Quick Edit

If you use Blogger and miss the pencil icon that once let you edit posts on the fly, here’s a simple way to get it back. Save the code as a bookmarklet or call it up with a keyboard shortcut. I think bqe is a good choice, so long as you don’t do a lot of writing about the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

[Found via Too Clever by Half.]

Use by

Useful stuff from The New York Times: “The Food Expiration Dates You Should Actually Follow.” And there’s always the exhaustive site Eat By Date.

One thing I don’t understand: the Times says that “Mustard lasts forever.” Eat By Date says one or more years (except for homemade mustard). But mustard often has a rapidly approaching “Best by” date on the container. Is that merely a ploy to sell more mustard?

Sauce from a jar?

The Washington Post tests twelve marinara sauces. The winner costs $10.49 for twenty-four ounces. Questo è pazzesco!

As the Post acknowledges, you can also make your own sauce. They offer a recipe.

I’ve been making sauce since 2010. It’s ridiculously easy, and I would bet that anyone’s homemade sauce would be better than any sauce from a jar. If I’m wrong about that, I’d prefer not to know.

Here’s a recipe I use. Here’s another, much simpler one for Coppola/“Godfather” sauce.

And here’s another more elaborate preparation, from Catherine Scorcese, filmed by her son Martin.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

RAG

In today’s Los Angeles Times crossword, by Brian Thomas and Brooke Husic, the clue for 34-A, “Ellington composition,” is wildly off. The answer: RAG. No, just no.

It’s true that the earliest Duke Ellington composition is “Soda Fountain Rag,” but to identify Ellington as a composer of rags is to be, no pun intended, clueless.

It’s curious to me how crosswords seem to go awry about jazz. E.g., identifying Jelly Roll Morton as a SCAT singer, identifying Mel TORME as a “cool jazz pioneer.” No, just no.

Related reading
All OCA Ellington posts (Pinboard)

[Typing with at least — at least — 200 Ellington LPs and CDs in the room.]

Today’s Nancy

Olivia Jaimes continues to reinvent the Sunday strip.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Bronx games

I found the first of these photographs traveling up Fordham Road in Street View of 1940s New York. I found the second by searching for the block and lot numbers in the archive of Bronx 1940s Tax Photos.

This recreational area (no address) stood near the intersection of West Fordham Road and University Avenue. It was part of the Old Croton Aqueduct Walk. In the first photograph, the building in the far distance is 2406 University Avenue.

[The Bronx, c. 1939–1941. From the NYC Municipal Archives Collections. Click either image for a much larger view.]

When I typed the block and lot numbers into the archive, I was surprised to see that those are horseshoe players behind the shuffleboarders. Is that a bocce court in the middle? No, just wishful thinking, I think.

Notice too that there’s lots of laundry hanging to dry.

Here’s much more about the remaining traces of the Croton Aqueduct. No games, no laundry at West Fordham Road and University Avenue these days.

Related reading
More OCA posts with photographs from the NYC Municipal Archives : Bocce in Brooklyn

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper, by Steve Mossberg, is a challenge, the northwest territory in particular. 1-D, four letters, “Sound like ‘Grrr!’”? Yes, exactly. But I got it.

Some clue-and-answer pairs of note:

1-A, nine letters, “Skewered then served.” I have eaten many a kebab. But this term is new to me.

8-D, five letters, “Name on Perfectly Moist mixes.” Perfectly moist? Ideally damp? Eww.

11-D, ten letters, “Password, from the Bible.” My starting point, learned from a podcast.

17-A, ten letters, “Sizable print makers.” Pretty Stumpery.

24-A, five letters, “Doing what's dignified.” This clue's syntax is off, just off.

27-D, ten letters, “Part of the Boston Celtics logo.” I can’t believe I spelled it correctly on a first try.

29-D, ten letters, “How foxgloves flower.” Eh, not quite, Michael.

29-A, five letters, “Toon bearded brawny bully.” Everything old is new again.

39-A, four letters, “Swamp thing.” LOL.

44-A, three letters, “What’s left.” Ouch.

64-A, nine letters, “Omission of conjunctions in prose.” My first thought was PARATAXIS, a word I cherish from my first acquaintance with modernist poetry, but no — that'd be an answer in a dream.

My favorite in this puzzle: 56-D, four letters, “Brooklyn, briefly.” Represent.

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, January 27, 2023

“No mother”

“No mother, no mother — no mother — should go through what I’m going through right now”: RowVaughn Wells, whose son Tyre Nichols died after being beaten by police in Memphis, Tennessee. From a press conference earlier this afternoon.

Rapolski’s

In the novel it’s just Rapolski’s. But let’s call it what it is: a candy store.

Steven Millhauser, Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943–1954, by Jeffrey Cartwright (1972).

Related reading
All OCA Steven Millhauser posts (Pinboard) : What’s a candy store?

Domestic comedy

“Basmati?”

“No, chasm rice.”

I wanted to give Elaine credit, but as she pointed out, I labeled the jar some time ago. Blame it on the “Summer Breeze.”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, January 26, 2023

“Fascinating implements”

Visiting the seven-year-old artist Edward Penn, who lives in a room in the heated basement of his parents’ house and doesn’t go to school.

Steven Millhauser, Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943–1954, by Jeffrey Cartwright (1972).

Edwin will later remark that only three of his contemporaries exercised an influence on his life: Rose Dorn, Arnold Hasselstrom, and Edward Penn, the last of whom was the only one to leave a lasting mark. “Oh,” Edwin adds, “and you too, Jeffrey.”

Related reading
All OCA Steven Millhauser posts (Pinboard)

[That last fascinating implement seems to join several French curves to a template for drawing shapes. Can such an implement be found outside Edward Penn’s basement?]

Forty years

From There’s Always Tomorrow (dir. Douglas Sirk, 1955. Norma Vale (Barbara Stanwyck) is speaking to Clifford Groves (Fred MacMurray):

“The only reality is twenty years of Clifford Groves as a husband and as a father, twenty years of my being a career woman with an eye to design and merchandising.”
A related post
A four-sentence review

Footnoting Zippy

There are many big coffee pots. The one in today’s Zippy looks like the one in Bedford, Pennsylvania.

Related reading
All OCA Zippy posts (Pinboard)

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Mystery actor

[Click for a larger view.]

Easy? Not easy? I’m not sure. Leave your best guess in the comments. I’ll drop a hint if one is needed.

More mystery actors
? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ?

“My Bathroom”

An ode to solitude: Sid Siegel’s “My Bathroom,” from the industrial musical The Bathrooms are Coming! (1969), sung by Patt Stanton Gjonola. Featured in the documentary Bathtubs Over Broadway (dir. Dava Whisenant, 2018).

For anyone who has to hear it, the cast recording of the musical is at archive.org.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Martins and Child

Seeing as our household has had Julia Child on the brain, I reread a piece of fan-fiction I wrote a few years ago: “Bon Appétit!” It’s about Julia Child visiting the Martins — as in Paul, Ruth, Timmy, and Lassie. Oh, and Uncle Petrie.

My one regret: when I wrote the story, I didn’t know that Julia Child’s husband was named Paul. That would have made a nice bit of conversation: “Mrs. Martin, I hope you agree that Pauls make extremely good husbands.”

Vegan options

“Julian, you need to add some vegan options to your business plan”: I think the writers were having fun. From The Great Holiday Bake War, a story of love and desserts. It’s on OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network), but it out-Hallmarks Hallmark.

Twelve movies

[Oops: make that eleven movies and one series. One to four stars. Four sentences each. No spoilers. Sources: Criterion Channel, HBO Max, Netflix, OWN, TCM, YouTube.]

Daisies (dir. Vera Chytilová, 1966). It’s no. 27 on the Sight & Sound list, between Shoah and Taxi Driver — and I think again about the absurdity of lists. Two attractive, stylish young women, both named Marie (Ivana Karbanová and Jitka Cerhová, neither of whom had ever acted) conclude that everything is bad, and thus they too will be bad. They smash cakes, and they smash the patriarchy, or bits and pieces of it, luring men and dropping them. A wildly transgressive movie, with strong elements of montage and silent-film comedy. ★★★★ (CC)

*

The Great Holiday Bake War (dir. Lisa France, 2022). We made this our one formulaic holiday movie this season, so bad/good that after catching the second hour by chance, we went back for the first: Brianna and Julian (LeToya Luckett and Finesse Mitchell), baking-school rivals who hooked up — just once — in their student days, now find themselves competing in a televised dessert bake-off (which has one judge and a three-week run). The principals do their best with a script so bad that I swear you can see Mitchell cringing as he speaks some of his lines. Sub-plots bring in Julian’s snoot-baker mom (Arlene Duncan), a guitar hero and absent dad (Colton Royce), and Brianna’s brainy twelve-year-old (Naomi Sogbein), who’s just been accepted to a posh school. But gosh, where will Brianna ever get the money to make her daughter’s attendance a reality? ★★ (OWN)

*

The Woman in White (dir. Peter Godfrey, 1948). From the novel by Wilkie Collins. A complex and confusing plot, with jewels, poison, and look-alike cousins: it was almost like trying to follow The Big Sleep, and like The Big Sleep, it might best be watched for the atmosphere and the acting: John Abbott as an invalid aesthete, Eleanor Parker in a dual role as the cousins, Agnes Moorehead as a nearly silent wife, Sydney Greenstreet as, well, Sydney Greenstreet, or Kasper Gutman. ★★★★ (TCM)

*

Titicut Follies (dir. Fred Wiseman, 1967). Life and death at Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. I hadn’t seen this documentary in decades, and I was surprised to find that so many images and bits of dialogue were stuck in my memory: a mad monologue, like something out of Lear or Godot; a former high-school teacher, naked, stomping the floor of his empty cell as he’s tormented by guards; the manically cheerful guard who presides over a talent show (one must wonder if he is secretly insane); the doctor who is never without a cigarette, even as he scrapes Vaseline from a nearly empty jar to lubricate a tube used for force-feeding. The nightmarish conditions take on new significance in light of the abuses of Abu Ghraib. And guess what — life at Bridgewater is still bad. ★★★★ (TCM)

*

Julia (created by Daniel Goldfard, 2022). The rise of Julia Child, from novice cook to accomplished cook to cookbook co-author to television novice to national star. The cast is terrific: Sarah Lancashire as Child, stopping well short of anything close to parody; David Hyde Pierce as occasionally resentful but always again supportive Paul Child; Bebe Neuwirth as best friend Avis DeVoto; Brittany Bradford as WGBH associate producer Alice Naman. And the ambience is right, with proper clothing, furnishings, office supplies. What I don’t like: the effort to make the story of Julia Child appear relevant not on its own terms but via invented story elements: a Black woman (Naman) fighting to be heard at WGBH; a Smith alum who realizes that she’s lesbian thanks to sharing a blanket with Julia; a confrontation with Betty Friedan at a public-television gala; a visit to a gay bar with James Beard, where Child joins a Child impersonator on stage for “It Had to Be You” (no, it didn’t). ★★★ (HBO)

*

Julia (dir. Julie Cohen and Betsy West, 2021). From the directors of RBG. Permit me to be a killjoy and suggest that this documentary, with great archival clips, is a much better way to learn about Julia Child (and Paul). It’s especially helpful in letting viewers understand the state of home cooking in mid-century America. With José Andrés, Ina Garten, Jacques Pepin, and many beautifully filmed pots and plates. ★★★★ (HBO)

*

Bathtubs Over Broadway (dir. Dava Whisenant, 2018). A wonderful story of chance and change and obsession. Steve Young, then a writer for David Letterman, was tasked with finding odd LPs for “Dave’s Record Collection” bits. And thus Young discovered the lost world of industrial musicals, which became for him not something to laugh at but something to love: “We’re assembling some version of a picture of America in the twentieth century that had never quite been seen before.” A great documentary about a form of entertainment never meant to be seen or heard by general audiences, with rare recordings and film clips and conversations and performances with composers and lyricists and performers, including Sheldon Harnick, Florence Henderson, Chita Rivera, and Martin Short, all of whom worked in industrial musicals. ★★★★ (N)

*

From the Criterion Channel’s Joan Bennett feature

Man Hunt (dir. Fritz Lang, 1941). It’s not yet WWII, and Captain Alan Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon), on a hunting vacation in Germany, comes close to assassinating Adolph Hitler with a long-range rifle. Fast-forward, and Thorndike is back in London, pursued by Nazi agents and finding refuge with a young Cockney of at least semi-dubious character, Jerry Stokes (Joan Bennett). Lots of suspense, strong overtones of The 39 Steps, and especially sinister performances by John Carradine and George Sanders. I want to make it five stars for an amazing scene that pays homage to the Odyssey. ★★★★

There’s Always Tomorrow (dir. Douglas Sirk, 1955). Fred MacMurray is Clifford Groves, a Los Angeles toy-company executive and invisible man: though he’s dedicated to his family, his wife Marion (Joan Bennett) and three children ignore him. When a former employee, Norma Vale (Barbara Stanwyck), now a prominent fashion designer, comes to LA on business and drops by to say hello, Cliff falls, hard, and his routine life begins to look intolerable. Previous MacMurray–Stanwyck efforts (Double Indemnity, Remember the Night) and MacMurray’s future role as a philandering husband in The Apartment make this movie especially interesting to watch. I’d love to show it to a class of undergrads and find out what they think Cliff should do. ★★★★

*

I Was a Shoplifter (dir. Charles Lamont, 1950). I expected an amusing educational film, a cautionary tale for teens. Instead, I got a story of a gang that seeks out newly apprehended shoplifters, training them for work in other cities. (And exactly why would you choose inept folks for your schemes?) Of some interest: Anthony Curtis (already sounding like Cary Grant) as bad guy Pepe, and Rock Hudson (briefly) as a store detective. ★ (YT)

*

Before Dawn (dir.Irving Pichel, 1933). The first three scenes look like parts of three different stories: a gangster dies in Vienna; back in the States, an old woman and her housekeeper talk in a big old house; and a young psychic and her father do business in a big city. A hidden fortune is what ties the three parts together. Warner Oland (of countless Charlie Chan movies) is probably the one recognizable actor here, playing an Austrian doctor suddenly transplanted to America. One of many glitches: the young psychic, whose ability we’re invited to take seriously, seems capable of discerning everything but the location of the loot. ★★ (YT)

*

The Great Sinner (dir. Robert Siodmak, 1949). An adaptation of Dostoevsky’s The Gambler. In the 1860s, Fedja (Gregory Peck), a writer, disembarks from a train in Wiesbaden to pursue Pauline (Ava Gardner), the beautiful woman who shared his compartment. Surrounded by gamblers (among them, Pauline’s father, played by Walter Huston), Fedja immerses himself in casino culture, all in the cause of research for his writing, but he soon finds himself a compulsive gambler. Peck is a pretty stolid presence, and Gardner is not, to my mind, an especially expressive actress, but brief turns by Ethel Barrymore and Agnes Moorehead and grim scenes of cards and roulette (with an assortment of compulsive gamblers) add considerable value to the movie. ★★★ (TCM)

Related reading
All OCA “twelve movies” posts (Pinboard)

Monday, January 23, 2023

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY EDWIN”

He’s four.

Steven Millhauser, Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943–1954, by Jeffrey Cartwright (1972).

“We wake from green dreamed islands to drown in the dark” sounds vaguely like “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
Is Jeffrey Cartwright imitating T.S. Eliot?

Related reading
All OCA Steven Millhauser posts (Pinboard) : Calendar pages in a movie

Shelves, books off the, books on the

Elaine and I scored big at a nearby used-book store this weekend: nine Steven Millhausers. (We need two copies of everything.) We left one In the Penny Arcade on the shelf. It was like going through baseball cards: got it, need it, need it, got it.

The bookseller mentioned that he puts most of the books he buys and reads in the store, knowing that he’s never going to read them again. But, he said, he has a shelf of Steven Millhauser at home — those books stay. And now he’s going to reread Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943–1954, by Jeffrey Cartwright.

Related reading
All OCA Steven Millhauser posts (Pinboard)

[I recently borrowed Dennis Duncan’s Index, A History of the from the library.]

Lorem ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, &c.: from Jack Shepherd, a close look at the history of Lorem ipsum.

Orange Crate Art has three lorem ipsum posts, one of which shows the dummy text on a now-dead congressman’s house.gov page, where it spelled out his position on health care.

Thanks, Rachel.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

The Oteris and Marty

Previously on Orange Crate Art:

We visited no. 2376, once the home of Arthur Avenue Noodle & Macaroni Manufacturing. Today we’ll look at the two establishments that once flanked AAN&MM. To the south, the Baccalà Store.

[2374 Arthur Avenue, The Bronx, c. 1939–1941. From the NYC Municipal Archives Collections. Click for a much larger view.]

Baccalà, salted cod, is a traditional Italian food. No, I’ve never had it.

And just north of AAN&MM, the Oteri Bros. Prime Meat Market.

[2378 Arthur Avenue, The Bronx, c. 1939–1941. From the NYC Municipal Archives Collections. Click for a much larger view.]

These photographs would be worth posting for their own sake — they’re beautiful streetscapes. But there’s a bonus.

Danielle Oteri tells some of the Oteri history here and here: her great-grandfather and great-grandmother, Albino and Grazia Oteri, opened the baccalà store in 1918. The Oteris’ son John (Danielle’s uncle) converted the store to a butcher shop post-World War II. Danielle confirms in a Facebook message (thanks, Danielle; thanks, Elaine) that John previously ran a butcher shop for a short time at no. 2378.

The later shop at no. 2374 is the butcher shop in the opening scene of Marty (dir. Delbert Mann, 1955). You can watch here. Look closely and you’ll see the shadow of the street address on the wall.

[Ernest Borgnine as Marty Piletti. Click for a larger view.]

More from Danielle Oteri:

The scenes of Marty working were shot in Oteri’s Butcher Shop. Uncle John had to teach Ernest Borgnine, who also won Best Actor for his performance, how to cut meat, specifically sausage, so that his scenes would be realistic.

Although the screenplay indicates that Marty’s boss was to be named Mr. Gazzara, Uncle John was able to convince them that his name should be used instead, and in the final cut, Marty refers to his boss “Mr. Oteri” at least four times.

In 1980 my Uncle John sold the shop to Peter De Luca, who runs the shop today. Peter has a butcher pedigree as well. He grew up working in his father’s butcher shop on 143rd Street and Morris Avenue. (The current store is named Vincent’s Meat Market in honor of his father.)
Vincent’s Meat Market is still going strong at no. 2374. No. 2378 is now the second-floor residence above the now-defunct Club Fiasco at no. 2376, which took up the storefronts at nos. 2376 and 2378.

You can hear Marty refer to “Mr. Oteri” twice in the scene with Clara (Besty Blair) in the luncheonette and twice in the scene with his cousin Tommy (Jerry Paris) on the Piletti porch. The second (silent) butcher in the opening scene is played by Silvio Minicotti, husband of Esther Minicotti, who plays Marty’s mother Teresa Piletti.

Related posts
More OCA posts with photographs from the NYC Municipal Archives : A corner in Marty (White Plains Road and E. 211th Street) : Happy birthday, Mr. Piletti (Marty and Clara post-Marty)

And from NYC in Film, a detailed look at various Marty locations, with a photograph of Ernest Borgnine and John Oteri. As Marty would say, Holy cow!

Recently updated

F.H. Knapp Now with the Knapp backstory, a possible future, and crowds watching an automaton at work.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Knives for sale, 70% off

The defeated former president’s faux-Twitter feed is now showing advertisements for switchblade knives, along with advertisements for alternatives to Botox and blood-pressure medication.

Every pane in the Overton window is broken, and the window’s casing has been ripped from the wall and thrown in a dumpster. The dumpster is burning.

[Why do I look at the defeated former president’s faux-Twitter? As a lack-of-wellness check on a dangerous, deranged man. I hit some kind of limit when seeing this advertisement.]

Domestic comedy

“I wonder if anyone has vandalized his Wikipedia page.”

“Don’t you mean ‘vandelayzed’?”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

[Strange: George Santos’s Wikipedia page seems to be untouched by pranksters. Vandelay, for anyone who needs it: Seinfeld.]

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper, is by the puzzle’s editor, Stan Newman, constructing as “Anna Stiga” (Stan Again), the pseudonym that signals an easier Stumper. The right half of the puzzle — yes, easier. I started with 29-A, five letters, “Chilling” and 12-D, eight letters, “Schubert sacred song” and soon had half of the puzzle done. The left was tougher.

Some clue-and-answer pairs of note:

1-A, ten letters, “Brown-orbed breakfast.” This clue gets the puzzle off to a whimsical start. My first thought was WHEATCAKES, but they’re discs, not orbs.

9-D, five letters, “Green toon with a ‘Fairytale’ Baskin-Robbins flavor.” I think most solvers will choose wrongly.

11-A, four letters, “Son of Marge and Homer.” See 9-D.

15-A, then letters, “Newly coined (9/20/22) name in the news.” I’m not sure that the date is right, but I don’t care either.

19-A, three letters, “Key to leave with.” Clever.

22-A, five letters, “Long divisions.” Nicely punning.

23-D, four letters, “‘My dream world is complete Hieronymous Bosch and ___’: Lennon.” My first guess was ACID.

37-D, eight letters, “She first met 15-Across last September 9th.” Oh, her.

41-A, three letters, “Staple of Canadian music education.” I did not know that.

43-A, five letters, “Clamshell, for Neanderthals.” SCOOP? SPOON?

51-D, five letters, “Jazz singer with a damehood.” I had to reach a bit for the name.

62-D, three letters, “What may be found between two dogs.” Stumpery!

One problem: 1-D, six letters, “Introductions to oboe music.” I thought this clue was clever, but Elaine pointed out that it’s mistaken.

My favorite in this puzzle: 25-A, nine letters, “About a third of 1/2.”

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, January 20, 2023

“That bright August morning”

Jeffrey Cartwright recalls first meeting Edwin Mullhouse.

Steven Millhauser, Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943–1954, by Jeffrey Cartwright (1972).

The date: August 9, 1943. Edwin was nine days old. Jeffrey was six months and three days.

Elaine and I finished the novel a few days ago. We’re reading all of Steven Millhauser and are crazy happy to know that a new book of short stories, Disruptions (Knopf), is coming out in August.

Also from Steven Millhauser
From Martin Dressler : Also from Martin Dressler

Domestic comedy

[The television was on.]

“Unfortunately, this guy is a total bore.”

“Who?”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, January 19, 2023

David Crosby (1941–2023)



The New York Times has an obituary.

[I went looking for this 2019 performance of “Long Time Gone” but it seems to have disappeared.]

F.H. Knapp

[“Stafford Ink window display at F.H. Knapp.” 146 Hamilton Place, New York City, June 3, 1914. Photograph by William Dabis Hassler. From the New-York Historical Society. Click for a larger view.]

This photograph must be the largest image I’ve ever posted. So click, I say. Click for a much larger view. It’s an extraordinary window.

The automaton therein couldn’t be appearing at a better time: Elaine and I are reading through Steven Millhauser’s fiction, all of it, and just finished “August Eschenburg,” a long short story about a maker of increasingly fabulous automatons.

F.H. Knapp sold his business in 1920. As Reich & Schrift, the store, still a stationery store, was still in business c. 1939–1941. Here’s the tax photo to prove it. Hamilton Place is still there in Upper Manhattan. There is no no. 146 today.

*

January 22: On June 3, 1914, a crowd gathered (at the photographer’s invitation?) to watch the automaton at work:

[“Crowds admiring the Stafford Ink window display at F.H. Knapp.” 146 Hamilton Place, New York City, June 3, 1914. Photograph by William Dabis Hassler. From the New-York Historical Society. Click for a larger view.]

Here’s a little more about F.H. Knapp. From The Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer, February 8, 1908:



The Century Co. was the publisher of the celebrated Century Dictionary.

In its September 1921 issue, Typewriter Trade Journal and the Office System reported that Mr. Knapp was thinking of reentering the stationery business. He was then living at 500 W. 144th Street, right next to his former store. The September 25, 1921 issue of The Modern Stationer and Book-Seller has an advertisement that he placed:

My few thousand dollars, experience and business reputation in book and stationery business would make a genuine asset in starting business. A grand chance for some one in a similar position to double up with me and establish a first-class, profitable business. I want to connect with party familiar with commercial stationery, printing, engraving, die stamping and kindred articles; kodaks, artists' supples, books, greeting cards, etc. if you have an equipment — good! Or capital and experience, that will do. A trade following and capital would be interesting. F. H. Knapp, 500 West 144th street, New York City.
Related reading
All OCA stationery posts (Pinboard)

[Photographs of F.H. Knapp’s and info on his 1921 plans shared by a generous reader. Thanks, reader.]

Footnoting Zippy

Today’s Zippy, “Hearing Things,” looks at and listens to roadside attractions.

The Big Duck — “Quack!” — is in Flanders, New York.

Our great nation houses many giant chickens and roosters. The bird in today’s Zippy — “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” — looks as if it might be this one, which once stood in Byron Center, Michigan. The page with the photo says chicken, but the photograph’s URL says rooster.

There’s only one Haines Shoe House. It’s in York, Pennsylvania. I’ve passed it dozens of times driving on I-70. Elaine has pointed out that the shoe house is nowhere near I-70. But I know I‘ve seen it. How? When? Dunno. If I see it again, will slow down, roll down the window, and listen carefully — “Florsheim!”

Related reading
All OCA Zippy posts (Pinboard)

Finding Your Roots

With Henry Louis Ga Gary Larson.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

More ChatGPT fails

Excerpts from text generated by the prompt “Write a 500-word analysis of.”

John Ashbery, “What Is Poetry”:

Ashbery writes that “poetry is a language that speaks to the soul,” suggesting that poetry is a way of expressing emotions and ideas that cannot be conveyed through more conventional forms of communication. He also writes that “poetry is the voice of the ages,” suggesting that poetry is a way of connecting with the past and with the collective human experience.
Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art”:
The theme of loss is further developed in the third stanza, where the speaker describes different types of losses such as “a you, or a night, or a home” which are all things that can be lost, but not necessarily things that can’t be replaced. The fourth stanza describes the loss of a “shifting, floating city” which is a metaphor for something that is not tangible and can’t be replaced. These examples are intended to show that the speaker understands that there are different types of losses, and that some are more difficult to accept than others.
Emily Dickinson, 764 [My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun]:
In the fourth stanza, the speaker describes how their power is “the engine of my heart” and how they are “the tongue of my power.” The use of the metaphor of the engine and the tongue suggests that the speaker’s power is something that drives them and gives them voice. This stanza also implies that the speaker’s power is something that is a part of their very being, and that it is something that they cannot separate from themselves.
Philip Larkin, “Annus Mirabilis”:
The third stanza of the poem is where Larkin’s cynicism becomes most apparent. He states that “the stairs are where the girls are,” suggesting that the sexual revolution was primarily focused on the physical act of intercourse rather than genuine emotional connection. He also notes that “the trash / Our young men collected / To build their heaven which exists / And cowers in them to this day.” This line suggests that the societal changes of the 1960s were superficial and that the individuals who were involved in the sexual revolution were ultimately unfulfilled.
William Butler Yeats, “The Wild Swans at Coole”:
Yeats writes that “Nineteen hundred years have come and gone / And I, a passer-by.” This line suggests that Yeats is aware that his own life is fleeting, and that he is just a temporary presence in the world. He also writes that “The years upon my back like some great beast” which symbolizes the weight of time on him.
In each case, ChatGPT produces phrases and lines nowhere to be found in the poem. My best efforts to find sources return nothing, though “Nineteen hundred years have come and gone / And I, a passer-by” sounds like a great start for an Ashbery poem, titled, perhaps, “A You, or a Night, or a Home.”

Yesterday I found ChatGPT producing a 500-word analysis of Ted Berrigan’s poem “Red Shift” that bore no relation to the poem and, again, contained phrases that don’t appear in the poem. I can’t imagine what it would be like to speak to a student who turned in this sort of stuff as genuine writing.

Related posts
A 100-word blog post generated by ChatGPT : I’m sorry too, ChatGPT : Spot the bot : Teachers and chatbots

Time is money

I saw an eminent typographer’s tweet about the Onigiri Menu Bar Timer for Mac. It is indeed a beautiful timer — and free, with in-app purchases. Okay.

But when one looks more closely: “free” means ten uses. After that, it’s $79.99 for a license for use on five desktops. If reviews at the App Store can be believed, the price used to be $199.99.

Time, indeed, is money. I’m sticking with the free app Pomotroid, available for macOS, Windows, and Linux.

For a kitchen timer, I like the Ozeri Kitchen and Event Timer, small, loud, nicely designed. For $79.99, you could buy Ozeri timers to equip the Brady family — and Alice.