Saturday, September 30, 2023

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper is by the puzzle’s editor Stan Newman, constructing as Lester Ruff — in other words, it’s meant to be an easy Stumper. I think it is an easy one, though at times it felt 16-A, six letters, “Nowhere near clear.”

Some clue-and-answer pairs of note:

3-D, eight letters, “Don’t keep up.” Just surprising to see this verb.

14-D, six letters, “Car named to evoke safety.” I never thought of it that way.

22-A, nine letters, “Cable viewed by an audience.” See 16-A.

28-A, ten letters, “Imperious portmanteau.” Run!

33-A, three letters, “Poet with a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.” Easy, but I chose this clue because I didn’t know that St. Louis has a Walk of Fame, much less that poets are eligible. Is WSB in there?

34-A, seven letters, “Query after a holdup.” Pleasant ambiguity.

37-D, eight letters, “Got paid back for.” Such an awkward verb.

47-A, five letters, “Hawkeye’s pal.” I am never cottoning to this fictional world.

55-D, three letters, “2022 Emmy winner for a Beatles docuseries.” The changes in how the name has been clued are noteworthy.

My favorite in this puzzle: 30-D, four letters, “Puzzle pieces.”

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.


[Drawing by me. Click for a larger view.]

Elaine and I were married thirty-nine years ago today. That’s a lot of years. It hardly seems possible.

Happy anniversary, Elaine.

[I made this drawing with an Apple Pencil and and iPad months ago. I’m not sure why. Now I guess I know why.]

Friday, September 29, 2023

Computers and butterflies

Italo Calvino, from “The Tale of the Forest’s Revenge,” in The Castle of Crossed Destinies, trans. William Weaver (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979).

The Decameron-like premise for this work: a group of travelers who have lost the ability to speak tell their stories by means of the tarot deck. The passage above is the narrator’s interpretation of The Moon.

Related reading
Four passages from If on a winter’s night a traveler

Hallmark censors Frasier

As our household makes its way through Frasier, we listen closely for the missing words. The Hallmark Channel bleeps ass, balls, bastard, bitch, and butt. Buncha prigs! Yet the overtly bawdy often stands, as when Niles Crane reports a typo in the advertisement he placed for his Jungian practice. From “Love Bites Dog,” (September 24, 1996):

Niles Crane. Hung specialist. Servicing individuals, couples, groups. Satisfaction guaranteed. Tell me where it hurts.
You can watch the scene at YouTube.

The most awkward excision thus far, from “High Crane Drifter” (12th March 1996), Niles speaking:
“Oh, for God’s sake, Frasier, don’t waste your breath on this hairy, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing troglodyte who’s probably the only male in existence who suffers from envy.”
Hallmark apparently cuts scenes as well. See this Reddit thread: Damn you, Hallmark channel! And if it doesn’t go without saying, everything is a tad speeded up to make more room for commercials.

A related post
Hallmark is a bleep

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Recently updated

Emporia, firing Enrollment at Emporia State University drops sharply. It appears that students aren’t keen on attending a school whose administration engages in the wholesale firing of faculty.

Sardines in the news

From Christie’s, a Picasso ceramic, now sold: Trois sardines.

In The New York Times, “How TikTok Fueled the Tinned Fish Trend.” With a dazzling photograph of the Times Square store The Fantastic World of the Portuguese Sardine.

Thanks to Chris at Dreamers Rise and Stephen at pencil talk for catching these items.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

A thingy

[“Such Language!” Zippy, September 27, 2023. Click for a larger view.]

In today’s Zippy, Mr. Toad tells Claude Funston that th’ thingy has no name. But what does th’ toad know? It’s called a bread clip, among other things. My dad once repurposed one that gave us a happy surprise.

Merriam-Webster traces thingy (“something that is hard to classify or whose name is unknown or forgotten : thing, thingamajig”) to 1927. The OED has it as “originally and chiefly Scottish” for “a little thing. Also more generally: a thing (usually with some suggestion of small size).” Its first citation, from 1787: “In Scotlands familliar diccion evvery littel thing iz a thingy, annimate or inannimate.” The OED traces a colloquial meaning (“= thingummy”) to 1927: “Today the fairy hand of Judith burst the wood thingy that runs along under the sink.”


One’s attention goes where it goes. I got so caught up in thingy that I read right past dingus. Merriam-Webster: “an often small article whose common name is unknown or forgotten : gadget, doodad,” with a first appearance in 1873. And a later American slang meaning: “a dim-witted, silly, or foolish person ➝ often used in a joking or friendly way.” M-W has the word coming from Dutch and German: “Dutch dinges, probably from German Dings, from genitive of Ding thing, from Old High German.”

And now I recall the hilarity that Ding an sich brought to my grad-school days.

The OED definition:

colloquial (chiefly North American and South African). A thing, esp. a gadget or contraption, or (less commonly) a person, whose name the speaker or writer does not know, cannot remember, or does not care to specify precisely; a ”thingummy.”
Other meanings: “the penis,” “a silly or inept person.” The OED suggests multiple origins: “Partly a borrowing from Dutch. Probably also partly a borrowing from Afrikaans.” Green’s Dictionary of Slang takes the word further.

I would like to have seen a Dashiell Hammett citation in the OED. But M-W has it covered, with a citation from Mark McGurl:
In his [Dashiell Hammett’s] writings of the period from 1924 to 1952, “dingus” signifies, variously, a magician’s prop, a typewriter, a short story, a novel, and an elusive artifact, a black bird better known as the Maltese Falcon.
Related reading
All OCA Zippy posts (Pinboard)

A pocket notebook sighting

[From Ivy (dir. Sam Wood, 1947). Click for a larger view.]

Police Inspector Orpington (Cedric Hardwicke) and his pocket notebook mean business.

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 : The Fearmakers : The Flight That Disappeared : A Foreign Affair : Foreign Correspondent : Four in a Jeep : Fury : The Girl in Black Stockings : Homicide : The Honeymooners : The House on 92nd Street : I See a Dark Stranger : If I Had a Million : L’Innocent : Journal d’un curé de campagne : Kid Glove Killer : The Last Laugh : Le Million : The Lodger : Lost Horizon : M : Ministry of Fear : Mr. Holmes : Mr. Klein : 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 : Portland Exposé : 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! : What Happened Was . . . : Where the Sidewalk Ends : The Woman in the Window : You Only Live Once : Young and Innocent

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Uh-oh, a Marxist

From today’s decision in Donald Trump’s bank-fraud case, page 21:

As detailed infra , the documents here clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business, satisfying OAG’s burden to establish liability as a matter of law against defendants. Defendants’ respond that: the documents do not say what they say; that there is no such thing as “objective” value; and that, essentially, the Court should not believe its own eyes.⁹
And the footnote:
⁹ As Chico Marx, playing Chicolini, says to Margaret Dumont, playing Mrs. Gloria Teasdale, in “Duck Soup,” “well, who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”
[Chico is at YouTube.]

Phone etiquette

[Ann Rutherford and Tom Conway in Two O’Clock Courage (dir. Anthony Mann, 1945. Click for a larger view.]

The Washington Post has tips about phone etiquette in our times (gift link). Useful stuff.

I’m not sure about the suggestion to stay still for video calls: “When people, especially kids, move around during a video call, it can be disorienting for the person on the other end.” It can also be charming, if, say, a grandchild is carrying the phone while walking from room to room to show you stuff. But the Post makes allowances: “The closer you are to someone, the less the rules apply.”

[No, the people in the movie are not talking to one another on pay phones. That would be, as they say, childish and immature, and best reserved for kids.]

James Joyce holiday cards

The Reader’s Catalog, a New York Review of Books enterprise, is offering James Joyce holiday cards, six for $29.95. The card has an illustration of a man in suspenders looking dreamily at the night sky. Next to the picture, a partial sentence from “The Dead,” source unidentified:

His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe.
So cozy. But look at the entire (final) sentence of “The Dead”:
His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
Not cozy. Not cozy at all!

Random House’s Proust gift tags and note cards (no longer available) also took statements out of context and wildly distorted their meanings.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Awkward metaphor of the day

“Nikki Haley has tried to straddle it, and all she’s gotten is strained muscles”: Claire McCaskill on MSNBC just now.

Related reading
All OCA metaphor posts (Pinboard)

[“It”: the line between Trumpism and conservatism.]

Charlie Watts: Literature and Jazz

A Christie’s auction: Charlie Watts: Literature and Jazz, Part I, Part II. Amazing browsing awaits. One detail: Watts owned a cigarette holder, lighter, and pocket ashtray that belonged to Art Tatum. The only word that goes with that? Reverence.

Ellington Live has a post that collects all the Duke Ellington material.

Mr. Parrish and Mrs. Cameron

[Walter Baldwin and Dorothy Adams in The Jackpot (dir. Walter Lang, 1950). Click for a larger view.]

It’s just a brief scene with bit players: a customer looking to buy a watch, a salesclerk trying to find something he’ll like. But there must have been someone in a 1950 audience who appreciated the pairing of Walter Baldwin and Dorothy Adams in this scene. They appeared as next-door neighbors in The Best Years of Our Lives (dir. William Wyler, 1946). Baldwin played Homer Parrish’s father, “Mr. Parrish”; Adams played Wilma Cameron’s mother, “Mrs. Cameron.” That was back when lifelong neighbors might address one another by surname.

[Homer: Harold Russell. Wilma: Cathy O’Donnell.]

Eleven movies, one mini-series

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

The Jackpot (dir. Walter Lang, 1950). Elaine found it, a movie with a screenplay by Henry Ephron and Phoebe Efron (Nora and Delia’s parents) from a story by the New Yorker writer John McNulty. Jimmy Stewart and Barbara Hale star as a canasta-playing suburban couple suddenly drowning in canned soup, meat, trees, and countless other prizes from a radio quiz show (totaling $24,000, or $304,000 today). They not only have to find space for their new stuff; they have to figure out how to pax taxes, which leads to various crazy harebrained schemes. It’s all as corny as downstate Illinois, with a few bright moments, and a chance to see Barbara Hale (Della Street) in a comic role. ★★ (YT)


Telemarketers (dir. Sam Lipman-Stern and Adam Bhala Lough, 2023). A documenttary exposé of fundraising for police, firefighters, and PACs, with Sam Lipman-Stern and Pat Pespas, two men who know the world well. The business model is, no surprise, shady, but in so many ways: fifty shades of shady, with false claims and crafty dodges abounding. Pat, a now-recovering addict, is something of a more genuine (and far less affluent) Michael Moore, speaking to people in high places, some of whom receive him with genuine interest, some of whom are merely patronizing (I’m looking at you, Senator Richard Blumenthal). This three-part series makes me feel good about all the times I hung up on yet another solicitation; it makes me feel even better about having ditched our landline and the distractions it brought our household. ★★★★ (M)


The Night Runner (dir. Abner Biberman, 1957). Truly, deeply strange: Roy Turner (Ray Danton), a mental patient with a propensity for sudden violence, is released from a institution (they need the space) and finds refuge at a small roadside motel, where he readies himself to reenter the working world as a draftsman. A romance develops with the motel owner’s daughter (Colleen Miller), and all goes well until her father learns about Roy’s past. Some genuinely suspenseful moments as Roy (no mere maniac) tries to avert suspicion. Hey, watch out for that nail polish. ★★★ (YT)


A Woman’s Vengeance (dir. Zoltan Korda, 1948). “You seem to think this business is like something in the movies, or in a novel,” says one character to another. Well, yes: when a wealthy, unhappy, sickly woman (Rachel Kempson) dies, suspicion falls on her nurse (Mildred Natwick), her oldest friend (Jessica Tandy), and her philandering husband (Charles Boyer), who has recently taken up with a teenager (Ann Blyth). Was it murder, or was it a suicide designed to look like murder? The herring here is bright red, but the movie is, still, melodrama of a high order, with strong performances from Boyer, Tandy, and Cedric Hardwicke as a doctor who makes house calls. ★★★★ (YT)


Keep Sweet (dir. Don Argott, 2021). A documentary about the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, whose members follow the teachings of their prophet Warren Jeffs, who advises women and girls to keep sweet, pray, and obey. It’s fascinating to hear women of this community speak: they sound smart and self-aware, at least until one remembers that they follow a leader who arranges marriages between girls and men, sends boys into exile to ensure enough girls for the menfolk, and takes wives from husbands and reassigns them to other men. The documentary goes off the rails in its second half, with the filmmaker expressing greater and greater sympathy for the beleaguered faithful (there’s a murky property dispute) and declaring that they‘re ”pretty amazing people,“ that he likes everyone he’s met, and that no one has told the story from ”both sides.“ Dangerously delusional if you ask me. ★ (M)


From the Criterion Channel’s Noir by Gaslight feature

Experiment Perilous (dir. Jacques Tourneur 1944). Released almost seven months after George Cukor’s much better known Gaslight, this movie too is about a psyop, with a wealthy older man (Paul Lukas) making his young wife (Hedy Lamarr) believe that she’s mad. As the doctor determined to free young Allida from her domestic prison, George Brent is not especially convincing: even when he runs through a house, he looks like a man pretending to run. Lamarr is fragile, soft-spoken, barely there, which leaves Lukas in control of the movie. The final moments, with exploding fishtanks and a fight on a spiral staircase, are worth waiting for. ★★★★

Ivy (dir. Sam Wood, 1947). Ivy Lexton (Joan Fontaine) is a Edwardian schemer: married to an unsuspecting ne’er-do-well (Richard Ney), she’s dallied with a lover (Patric Knowles) and is now interested in a much wealthier third man (Herbert Marshall). So how might she kill those first two birds with one stone? It’ll take the detective smarts of Cedric Hardwicke to tease out the truth. Little bits of Double Indemnity and Laura inform this satisfying story. ★★★★

Blanche Fury (dir. Marc Allégret, 1948). It plays like a mix of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Double Indemnity. Blanche Fullerton (Valerie Hobson) takes a position as governess and soon marries her cousin/employer Laurence Fury (Michael Gough), becoming the mistress of his great estate. But she has eyes for stableman Philip Thorn (Stewart Granger), the illegitimate son of the dead Fury patriarch. “You are out of your mind!” ★★★★

Corridor of Mirrors (dir. Terence Young, 1948). A bizarre tale that looks forward to Vertigo: a wealthy artist (Eric Portman) is convinced that he once lived in Renaissance Italy, where he loved a woman who betrayed him. He keeps a massive portrait of her behind a curtain. Visiting a nightclub, he spies a woman (Edana Romney) who’s the exact image of his portrait. Complications follow, with great scenes of a costume party, a room of mirrors, and Madame Tussaud’s. ★★★★

So Evil My Love (dir. Lewis Allen 1948). On board a ship sailing back to England from the West Indies, scoundrel Mark Bellis (Ray Milland), meets and charms a widowed missionary, Olivia Harwood (Ann Todd). Olivia is soon involved in Mark’s criminal schemes, which culminate in a desperate ploy to blackmail the husband of her old friend Susan Courtney (Geraldine Fitzgerald) with Susan’s youthful (naughty) correspondence. And then things really get wild. The final scene in a hansom cab, though easy to anticipate, is shocking. ★★★★

So Long at the Fair (dir. Terence Fisher and Antony Darnborough, 1950). Hard to see it as noir, but it’s certainly the most Hitchcockian movie in this Criterion feature, a variation on The Lady Vanishes. When brother and sister Johnny (David Tomlinson) and Victoria (Jean Simmons) arrive in Paris for the 1889 Exposition, Johnny disappears from their hotel; his name cannot be found in the register; what Victoria thinks is his room turns out to be a bathroom; and no one recalls ever having seen him. It’s left to plucky amateurs Victoria and George (Dirk Bogarde) to join forces and solve the mystery. Cathleen Nesbit gives a great performance as the scary omnipresent hotel proprietor. ★★★★

Madeleine (dir. David Lean, 1950). Based on the true story of Madeleine Smith (Ann Todd), a respectable Glaswegian in her parents’ household, in love with Émile L’Angelier (Ivan Desny), a French clerk whose lower status requires that Madeleine keep their relationship a secret from her parents, who are pressing their daughter to marry a suitable man. When Émile is found dead, suspicion falls on Madeleine, who made a recent purchase of arsenic. The plot is more than a little murky, and the movie never calls attention to what the patriarchy demands of daughters (after all, it’s 1950). The best moment comes from neither of the stars: it’s from André Morell as the defending counsel, speaking on behalf of his client. ★★★

[The other movies in this Criterion feature: Ladies in Retirement, Gaslight, The Suspect, Hangover Square, Dragonwyck, Moss Rose. All worth seeing, and our household has seen them all.]

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

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Laundry day

Back to laundry — namely, the laundry that was hanging when a tax photograph was taken one day in Gowanus.

[561 Union Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn, c. 1939–1941. From the NYC Municipal Archives Collections. Click for a much larger view.]

An alert reader noticed the human presence in the photograph: there’s someone at the top left window, and there appears to be someone below waving to the camera. I’ve tinkered with the contrast and added an outline for visibility.

[Click any image for a larger view.]

Here’s another view of the scene:

[557 Union Street. Click for a larger view.]

The likely residents of 561 Union Street when these photographs were taken: the Guadagno family, Gerard, Mary, and their daughters Rose, Nancy, and Gertrude. Under Industry in the 1940 census (distinguished from Occupation), Gerard and Mary are listed as “Groceries.”

[Click for a much larger view.]

And lookit: there was a grocery store just a few doors down the block:

[571 Union Street. Click for a larger view.]

That is a grocery store, not just a candy store (candy, newspapers, tobacco). The Salada Tea signage and the prices posted in the windows signify grocery store. And the word Grocery appears on the (Coca-Cola) privilege sign. I can imagine Gowanusites buying bread, milk, canned soup, tea, and coffee. Main staples.

Could the white garments hanging on the line be grocer’s aprons? They look much too substantial to be sleeveless T-shirts. Here’s a tax photograph with a grocer’s apron. I think that’s what we’re seeing at 561 Union.

[Click for a larger view.]

I was going to leave it at that, but I thought (once again) of Robert Caro’s mantra, “Turn every page.” Here that’d mean “Look up that grocery store address in the census.” And there it is. And in one of the 571 apartments, more Guadagnos: Arnold, Catherine, and their children Arnold, Marie, and Lorraine, all much younger than the family at 561. A Guadagno son and his family, I would guess.

[Click for a much larger view.]

Grocer’s aprons or no, I think that the grocery store was a Guadagno enterprise.

Thanks, Brian, for all your attention to this Gowanus scene.

Related reading
More photographs from the NYC Municipal Archives (Pinboard)

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper, is by “Anna Stiga,” Stan Again, the puzzle’s editor Stan Newman using the pseudonym that signals an easier Stumper of his making. I found it not especially easy, and I really struggled in the southwest corner. Many proper names in this puzzle. Many pieces of trivia. But I got it, or them.

Some clue-and-answer pairs of note:

1-A, ten letters, “Jets’ address, in part.” Wha? An unusual start.

7-D, five letters, “Inspirational half-sister of Helen.” This name is fine by me.

14-D, nine letters, “Gives.” Corny? Perhaps. But I like it.

20-A, five letters, “Malcolm, Jr.’s nickname.” A blast from some past.

25-A, five letters, “It cut a key in half on QVC (2005).” Another blast from some past.

32-D, nine letters, “Monetary term in rhe BBC’s E-cyclopedia.” New to me.

33-D, nine letters, “Owned up to hitting a parked car.” Yes, that’s exactly what I would do.

35-A, three letters, “Work on the side.” I love this clue. Even the plainest answer can be delightfully Stumper-y.

50-D, five letters, “Much less than a roar.” Yow, this is downright mean.

My favorite in this puzzle: 48-A, three letters, “Half a prominent name in modeling.” Could it be — no, it couldn’t. Oh, wait, it is.

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Dickinson State is the new WVU

Steve Easton, president of North Dakota’s Dickinson State College (and critic of tenure) is looking to cut and cut and cut. From Inside Higher Ed:

Easton told the Faculty Senate in an email Aug. 9 that he was considering cutting undergraduate degrees in English, math, political science, communication, music, theater, chemistry, environmental science and computer technology management, including the teaching tracks for those subjects, such as math education. Left would be degrees in history, biology, elementary education, computer science and other areas. . . .

Earlier this year, Easton expressed opposition to common tenure protections. He said that he drafted a version of a “Tenure With Responsibilities” bill for North Dakota’s House majority leader.

The bill the majority leader introduced would’ve let Easton and the Bismarck State College president fire tenured faculty members based on those presidents’ own reviews, with no possibility of appeal.
Related posts
Emporia, firing : West Virginia University cuts

Google to delete inactive accounts

I now see that I received the e-mail about a change in Google policy in July and August — and looked right past it each time. So I’m glad that I follow the Blogger-centric blog Too Clever by Half, which makes the e-mail’s importance clear.

Long story short: if you want your Blogger blog to outlast you, you need to make your, uhh, arrangements.

Here are the Google policy and the announcement. More helpful: Too Clever by Half’s advice about how to keep a Blogger blog online.


Textise can be a handy tool for navigating the Internets. There’s an ample explanation here.

Thanks, Ben.

Builder’s tea

I learned this term from Michael Mosley’s BBC Radio 4 podcast Just One Thing. From the Oxford English Dictionary:

British colloquial. In builder’s tea and similar compounds: designating robust, full-bodied black tea, brewed until very strong, and usually drunk with milk and often sugar.
Wikipedia: “It takes its name from the inexpensive tea commonly drunk by labourers taking a break.”

Ah, so that’s what I’ve been drinking. (Almost always black, no sugar.)

Related reading
All OCA tea posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Squirrel with avocado skin

It’s a grey rainy day. So here is a squirrel enjoying an avocado skin, as seen outside Boston last month.

[Photograph by me. Click for a larger, cuter view.]

A related post
KNUT winter schedule (Squirrel TV)

“Thick with virtual dust”

From a New York Review Books e-mail:

In 2016, Phillip Lopate, who has been writing essays and thinking about the essay for decades now, turned his attention to one of the essay’s offshoots, the blog, a form by that time already thick with virtual dust. Lopate committed to writing a weekly blog about, really, whatever over the course of a year.
And now it’s 2023, and those blog posts (themselves thick with dust?) are being sold as a book. Except that they’re not really blog posts. Lopate was writing what might better be called a weekly column for The American Scholar. Some blog!

[If the word blog applies, Lopate committed, really, to writing a weekly post. A phrase in his final entry — “what my next week’s blog will be about” — suggests that he used the word blog to refer to both the whole and the part.]

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Seeing and smelling

“The judge was smart enough to smell a rat when she saw it”: Representative Tom Tiffany (WI-35), mangling an old idiom at the Merrick Gatland show trial just now.

Tiffany voted against accepting the results of the 2020 presidential election. He also voted against making Juneteenth a national holiday. I smell a rat.

[The first citation for smell a rat in Green’s Dictionary of Slang : c. 1529.]

Travel by plane and book

Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler, trans. William Weaver (New York: Harcourt, 1981).

The “you” of this passage is a character in the novel, a reader who is now reading On the carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon by Takakumi Ikoka. That novel is one of ten (imaginary) novels that the reader in/of this novel encounters, each in the form of a few pages.

Postmodern play aside, this passage captures what flying always feels like to me: it’s not being anywhere.

Also from this novel
The formula : Novels and theories : “A fairly precise notion of the book”

[I am not now flying.]

Got stamps?

[Dustin, September 20, 2023. Click for a larger view.]

Today’s Dustin: Paterfamilias Ed is looking for stamps. Snarky Meg wonders who still uses them. Some of us do, Meg. And we mail early in the day and use ZIP codes.

Related reading
All OCA mail and stamp posts (Pinboard)

[I have heard from reliable sources about college students who don’t know how to send a piece of mail. Meg is in high school.]

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Facts and truth

Reading about Russian-textbook “history” made me recall this observation, from Robert Caro’s Working: Research, Interviewing, Writing (New York: Knopf, 2019):

While I am aware that there is no Truth, no objective truth, no single truth, no truth simple or unsimple, either; no verity, eternal or otherwise; no Truth about anything, there are Facts, objective facts, discernible and verifiable. And the more facts you accumulate, the closer you come to whatever truth there is.
Related posts
Barack Obama on facts : “Facts are stubborn things” : Longhand and a Smith-Corona : Taped to the lamp

Fact-free history

In The New York Times, an introduction to Vladimir Medinsky, Putin adviser and lead author of new history textbook for Russian high-school students:

“Facts by themselves don’t mean very much,” Mr. Medinsky wrote in one of his books. “Everything begins not with facts, but with interpretations. If you love your homeland, your people, then the story you write will always be positive.”
Impossible to think about what’s happening there without thinking about what’s happening here: Stalin was a wise leader; slaves developed skills. War is peace, &c.

A related post
Reporting the teacher

“A fairly precise notion of the book”

From the diary of Silas Flannery:

One instance of the “reading” that follows:

Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler, trans. William Weaver (New York: Harcourt, 1981).

In the digital humanties, it’s now called distant reading. I’ll say it is.

Also from this novel
The formula : Novels and theories

Reporting the teacher

The Washington Post has a long article about Mary Wood, a South Carolina high-school English teacher who was reprimanded after two of her AP students reported her to the school board for teaching about race. Wood had assigned her students selections from Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me.

The clips of residents calling for Wood to be “disciplined” or fired are chilling.

[Gift link, no subscription needed.]

Monday, September 18, 2023

What not to-do

From The Guardian :

Donald Trump has denied wrongdoing after a report on Monday said that one of the former president’s long-time assistants told federal investigators he repeatedly wrote to-do lists for her on documents from the White House marked classified.

The aide, Molly Michael, told investigators that more than once she got requests or tasks from Trump written on the back of notecards that she later recognized as sensitive White House materials, ABC News reported on Monday, citing sources.
As a longtime maker of to-do lists, mostly paper-based, I know that this is what not to-do. A scrap of paper, a fresh index card, or a page in a pocket planner is always a better choice than a classified document.

A related post

The rules

From a pre-school:

~ No hurts.

~ Be kind.

~ Have fun.

Useful for later life too.

[“No hurts,” as explained to me: “Keep your hands to yourself.”]

Sentences and their fortunes

Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) gets his sentence tangled in a conversation with new station manager Kate Costas (Mercedes Ruehl). From the episode “She’s the Boss” (September 19, 1995):

“Some people — and this is so unfortunate — can't tell the difference between self-respect and pigheadedness.”

“Yes, but those people are usually rigid little demagogues who don’t know the difference between the kind of respect that is earned and the kind of respect that is irrespective … of what others expect.“

“Isn’t it sad when bad things happen to good sentences?”

“I think I made myself clear.”
See and hear this exchange at YouTube.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Four Duryea’s

[Duryea’s Confectionery and Duryea’s Restaurant, 2 and 26 City Island Avenue, The Bronx, c. 1939–1941. From the NYC Municipal Archives Collections. Click for a much larger view.]

An island in The Bronx? Yes:

City Island is a neighborhood in the northeastern Bronx in New York City, located on an island of the same name approximately, a mile and a half long, half a mile wide.
I visited City Island a couple of times with friends in my student days. The lure was seafood, inexpensive and wonderful. For now I’m going back by map. Seeing the name Duryea — though alas there’s no obvious relation to Dan — is a bonus.

Duryea was a prominent name on City Island. There was a Duryea pier at the south end of City Island Avenue.

[Port and Terminal Facilities at the Port of New York (1942).]

The New York Times has two Duryeas, Herman B. and Albert B., most likely a father and son, participating in yacht races at City Island. Herman’s name first appears in 1902. Albert’s name last appears in 1964. The 1914 Official Automobile Directory of the State of New York lists an Albert Duryea residing on City Island as the owner of a Ford. The 1940 Bronx telephone directory has an A. Duryea living at 151 Belden Street (no tax photograph), which would more or less next to Duryea's Restaurant. A New York magazine article about City Island (August 1, 1977) mentions a Norma Duryea, “whose family goes far enough back to have once owned much of the south end, including what is now the Lobster Box restaurant.”

Indeed: 26 City Island Avenue, once the location of Duryea’s Restaurant, is now part of the larger Lobster Box (no. 34). What was Duryea’s Confectionery (serving Bruckner’s beverages and Gobel’s frankfurters) is now the site of a parking lot for Johnny’s Reef Restaurant.

Today there are two restaurants with name Duryea’s on Long Island, in Montauk and Orient Point. I reached out to ask if there’s a connection and received a reply from someone who said she wasn’t sure and that “the restaurant” (I assume the one in Montauk) was bought from a family with “deep roots in Montauk.” I would suspect that there’s a connection.

Related reading
More photographs from the NYC Municipal Archives (Pinboard)

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Today’s Saturday Stumper

My philosophy of crosswords: If I can finish a puzzle, the puzzle is at least pretty good. If I cannot finish a puzzle, there’s something wrong with it. (Solipsism 101.) I had to look up two answers to finish today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper. So I regret to say that there’s something wrong with Steve Mossberg’s puzzle. Kidding aside, I think most crossword doers with find today’s Stumper ultra-difficult.

Some clue-and-answer pairs of note:

1-A, nine letters, “Sharp-turn roller coaster.” Whaddaya know — I’ve passed one many times. But I had to look up the answer.

4-D, three letters, “Something sold in a snap case.” I was sure it was PEA, until I realized there was a less obvious possibility.

12-D, ten letters, “Collegiate quarters.” My first guess was UNIVERSITY — after all, a university can be home to a college. But there’s a trickier answer.

18-A, five letters, “One of Africa’s Big Five.” I thought it had to be GHANA. This one, too, I had to look up.

29-D, ten letters, “Summer academic workshop.” NEHSEMINAR? Uh, no.

46-D, five letters, “Old-school kind of guy.” Neither BUB nor MAC fits.

58-A, nine letters, “One seen in seasonal snaps.” I had a hunch, and it proved correct.

60-A, nine letters, “Crown jewel.” Dang clever.

My favorite in this puzzle: 15-A, nine letters, “Break for biscuits.”

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

[The Newsday puzzle still won’t load from the Newsday website, at least not on my Mac. Brains Only and The Washington Post have the puzzle for online solving on the day of publication. A printable puzzle can be found the night before publication at I wish Newsday would offer a separate subscription for its crossword. The price for a digital subscription to the newspaper — $99 a year — makes no sense for a non-Long Islander.]

Friday, September 15, 2023

West Virginia University cuts

From Inside Higher Ed:

Despite pleas from students, faculty members and academic organizations to change course, and despite student protesters disrupting its Friday meeting, the West Virginia University Board of Governors voted today to eliminate 143 faculty positions and 28 academic programs from its flagship Morgantown campus.

Some students wept, and an assistant math professor stormed out of the meeting room Friday morning as board members approved cut after cut, with only the student body president, the Faculty Senate president and another faculty representative consistently voting no. . . .

The university is eliminating all its foreign language degrees, which include bachelor’s degrees in French, Spanish, Chinese studies, German studies and Russian studies, along with master’s degrees in linguistics and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

WVU will also eliminate all its foreign language minors, with the possible exceptions of Spanish and Chinese, the two languages in which it will still offer courses. There was one relevant change Friday: the board preserved two faculty positions in the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

The current minors allow students to study Arabic, Italian and Japanese. Those will all be eliminated. The languages and literatures department will go from 24 faculty members to seven.

The university will also end its master’s in public administration program, along with its master’s degree in higher education administration and its Ph.D. in higher education. There are also cuts in the arts, though the board saved one faculty position each in art and music.

The university is also eliminating its current graduate degree offerings in mathematics, though it says the School of Mathematical and Data Sciences has been given “approval to begin the intent-to-plan process” for replacement master’s and doctoral degrees. Sixteen faculty positions will be eliminated in that school, a third of the current faculty.

University officials have said these and other cuts will take effect at various times, as WVU provides individual employees notices of planned termination, and as professors finish teaching graduate students in discontinued programs and undergraduate students who have accumulated at least 60 credit hours toward their degrees. Those with fewer credit hours have no guarantee they’ll be able to finish their intended degrees at WVU.

Some faculty members may lose their jobs as soon as May.
WVU is led by E. Gordon Gee, who has the (dubious, to my mind) distinction of having held more college presidencies than any other American. He is seventy-nine years old and is being paid $800,000 a year.

You can find the grim paper trail leading to the cuts here.

Bill Griffith in Bushmillerland

Bill Griffith. Three Rocks: The Story of Ernie Bushmiller, the Man Who Created “Nancy.” New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2023. 265 pages. $24.95.

Bill Griffith is a longtime visitor to what he calls Bushmillerland. He learned to read, he says, by looking at Nancy. His own work is characterized by crosshatching and density — there might be more lines in one Zippy panel than in an entire Ernie Bushmiller strip — but Griffith’s admiration for Bushmiller’s “pristine simplicity of composition” is absolute. And that simplicity was the result of extraordinary care: in his later years, Bushmiller let his assistants know that Nancy’s hair was to have 69 to 107 spikes, no more, no less.

For Griffith, Nancy is the irreducible essence of comics. As he writes, “Nancy doesn’t tell you what it’s like to be a child. Nancy tells you what it’s like to be a comic strip.” As if to prove the point, we learn late in this graphic biography that Bushmiller kept a copy of the American Heritage Dictionary next to his favorite chair, the volume opened to page 266, where a 1957 Nancy served to illustrate comic strip.

Ernest Bushmiller (1905–1982), a child of the Bronx, left school at fourteen and became a copy boy at the New York World. Work on crossword grids and comic strips followed, and in 1925 he took over Fritzi Ritz, a cheesecake strip. Nancy, Fritzi’s niece, came onboard in 1933, and in 1938 the strip was renamed Nancy. (Fritzi stayed on, ever glamorous, something Griffith ponders in a meditation on “The Persistence of Cheesecake in Nancy.”) Though Bushmiller thought of himself as producing entertainment for the “gum chewers,” he found himself in esteemed company: James Cagney, George Herriman, Rea Irvin, Harold Lloyd, Groucho Marx, and Eleanor Roosevelt are among those whose paths crossed his. By the mid-1970s Nancy appeared in more than 800 daily newspapers. When Parkinson’s began to limit Bushmiller’s ability to draw, assistants took on ever greater responsibilities with the strip.

The Bushmiller who takes form in this biography is more than slightly driven: living a frugal life in Connecticut with his wife Abby, working his way through vacations, browsing the Sears Roebuck catalogue for comic possibilities, forever looking for the next “snapper,” the gag idea from which he would work backwards to create a strip. Drawing on the recollections of Bushmiller’s friend and assistant Jim Carlsson, Griffith has many surprising details to share: Bushmiller admired Velázquez, Fats Waller, and Thomas Wolfe; he corresponded with a young Charles Schulz; he worked at four drawing boards, switching from strip to strip; he kept a bathroom plunger close at hand for inspiration (“It’s golden,” he said). Griffith now and then depicts himself as a tour guide in an imaginary Bushmiller Museum of Comic Art, making a case for Nancy as stuff for grown-ups, and suggesting largely convincing parallels to the work of Hopper, Magritte, and Warhol.

This biography is, of course, full of art, with full-page illustrations and many smaller panels depicting places and events in Bushmiller’s life. Dozens of original Nancy strips serve as exhibits. Many other Nancy strips and single panels are repurposed to tell parts of the story, with Griffith keeping characters as Bushmiller drew them and adding new dialogue and backgrounds. The repurposing of Nancy images reaches an emotional and imaginative peak in the book’s final pages, with “Professor Griffith” visiting a United Feature Retirement Facility to meet the aging Nancy, Sluggo, Dagmar, Plato, and Spike. But you’ll have to read to find out what happens.

[A representative composite panel: Nancy and rocks by Bushmiller, mise en scène by Griffith.]

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

OCA blog-a-versary

Orange Crate Art is nineteen years old today. How did that happen?

[The obligatory Muddy Waters reference goes here.]

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Novels and theories

Silas Flannery meets a reader.

Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler, trans. William Weaver (New York: Harcourt, 1981).

Also from this novel
The formula (Shades of AI)

My proof that I never knew phonics

I learned to read before kindergarten, picking it up at home. I was one of the fortunate kids who learn to read without formal instruction. In the Brooklyn school of my childhood, we had Dick and Jane books and were taught reading by way of the look-say or whole-word method. But how do I know that I was never taught phonics?

Here’s how. When we moved to a New Jersey suburb at the start of my sixth-grade year, my class had, as a regular feature, an exercise with words and sentences projected on a screen for rapid reading. It must have been an exercise in pronunciation, because I remember frequent references to the schwa. Schwa this. Schwa that. I never knew what schwa meant, and my guess is that I must have felt too embarrassed to ask, “What’s a schwa?” That would’ve been just one more way to look like an outlier. I did, however, know how to pronounce the words we were reading.

These days I understand the importance of phonics in reading instruction. See the podcast series Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Going to church

I was at a church service, a Protestant service of some sort, sitting in the front pew by myself, with my guitar, uncased, at my side. The people that I was supposed to have played with — elsewhere, not at the church — hadn’t shown up. I was sitting next to a red-haired young woman named Hannah. She was the daughter of a churchgoing family but a non-believer herself.

As I didn't know what I was doing, I stood and sat by following the movements of the congregation. At one point I realized that I had been standing with my eyes closed and that everybody else had already sat down. So I sat down too.

During intermission, most of the congregation left. The pews were now mostly empty. A minister in a red robe appeared on the altar platform (if that’s the right term) to perform prop comedy. He began to place a plastic bag over his head and mimed that this was not something to do. A skit began, with several dozen members of the congregation circling the altar platform. A white woman on the platform walked over to a Black man in the circle and pointed at him angrily.

At some point during this service I noticed an illustration on my guitar that I’d never noticed before, down by the tailpiece: a cityscape of tall buildings with stylized windows — something that you might see in a Nancy cityscape.

Related reading
All OCA dream posts (Pinboard)

[“Only fools and children talk about their dreams”: Dr. Edward Jeffreys (Robert Douglas), in Thunder on the Hill (dir. Douglas Sirk, 1951). My guitar is a replica National Style O: it has illustrations etched on the front and back — palm trees, volcanoes, water, a canoe. The little Nancy cityscape is from August 1, 1950.]

A Frasier Mongol

Bebe Glazer (Harriet Sansom Harris) and a cup of pencils.

[“Agents in America: Part 3.” Frasier, May 9, 1995. Click for a larger view.]

Those other pencils? Maybe Dixon Ticonderogas. But the Mongol ferrule is instantly recognizable, in black and white or full color.

Elaine and I are watching Fraiser in the spirit of old-time moviegoing: we walked in in the middle of things (fifth season), watched to the end, and are now picking up at the beginning. I’m not sure that we want to sign on to Paramount Plus for the reboot.

Related reading
All OCA Mongol posts (Pinboard)

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Recently updated

Mind the gap There’s someone — maybe two people? — doing laundry in that photograph.

The formula

A visitor calls on the novelist Silas Flannery to warn of unauthorized translations. The visitor shows Flannery a volume in Japanese, with Flannery’s name on the title page in Roman letters.

Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler, trans. William Weaver (New York: Harcourt, 1981).

Silas Flannery needs to meet Jane Friedman.

A message on an egg

From The Washington Post: a handwritten message on an egg, and, seventy-two years later, a reply.

[Gift link, no subscription needed.]

Monday, September 11, 2023

In search of lost passage

Elif Batuman asked ChatGPT to find a passage from Proust, something about love affairs in the past and present. Here’s what happened.

I think that the passage Batuman was looking for (and still is looking for?) might be this one, from the narrator’s recollections of the “young girls in flower” of his youth, girls who are now much older or already dead:

It was painful for me to have to retrieve these for myself, for time, which changes individuals, does not modify the image we have of them. Nothing is sadder that this contrast between the way individuals change and the fixity of memory, when we understand that what we have kept so fresh in our memory no longer has any of that freshness in real life, and that we cannot find a way to come close, on the outside, to what which appears so beautiful within us, which arouses in us a desire, seemingly so personal, to see it again, except by looking for it in a person of the same age, that is to say in another being. It is simply, as I had often had reason to suspect, that what seems unique in a person whom one desires does not in fact belong to her. But the passage of time was giving me a more complete proof of this since, after twenty years, spontaneously, I was trying to find, not the girls whom I had known, but those who now possessed the youth that the others had had then.

Finding Time Again, trans. Ian Patterson (London: Penguin, 2003).
Unlike Elif Batuman and ChatGPT, I have that passage (or most of it) at hand in a post about Proust gift tags and note cards. But that passage might not be the one in question.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

What’s on your nightstand?

[From Eva (dir. Joseph Losey, 1962). Click for a larger view.]

Francesca (Virna Lisi) has just one book on hers.

A related post
“By the Book” for the rest of us

Bill Griffith and the Reuben Award

Bill Griffith has won the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year. Congratulations to him.

Related reading
All OCA Zippy posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Yamandu Costa in Illinois

[Yamandu Costa in Illinois. September 9, 2023. Photograph by Elaine Fine.]

Elaine and I had the great good fortune to hear the guitarist Yamandu Costa yesterday in — of all places — east-central Illinois. His free performance was part of ELLNORA (so styled), the biennial guitar festival held at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

Yamandu is a household name in his native Brazil, and he performs widely in Europe and Latin America. His appearance at ELLNORA was one of only two performances in the United States this year. I’ve been following Yamandu’s music for several years via performances on YouTube and a lone CD. The chance to hear him in person was one I hadn’t counted on.

Yamandu’s range of expression on the guitar (the seven-string Brazilian guitar) is, to my ears, unparalleled. From a whisper to a storm, with impeccable taste, imaginative freedom, and extraordinary harmonic complexity — and maté at his side, which he says helps with faster numbers.

I arrived with my one CD yesterday and left with seven more. I asked Yamandu if he would sign two, and he insisted on signing them all, after slicing open the seven new ones — no hesitation — with his thumbnail.

Here are just two musical samples: an audience video from a September 7 performance in North Bethesda, Maryland, and a professional video of “À Legrand,” a composition dedicated to Michel Legrand. And here are Yamandu Costa’s website, Instagram, and YouTube channel.

Elaine too wrote about this performance, with a photograph of Yamandu at the signing table.

Note to the Krannert Center: bring Yamandu Costa back, please, before the next ELLNORA, and give him the Foellinger Great Hall, where he belongs. Obrigado.

Mind the gap

[561 Union Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn, c. 1939–1941. From the NYC Municipal Archives Collections. Click for a much larger view.]

Look past the wooden fence and the laundry hung out to dry: there’s a house back there. A recent real-estate listing ($2.695 million) tells the story of a property with “so much charm that even the pickiest Parisienne will melt.” At the time of this photograph though? Maybe not so much.

This is the sixth Gowanus photograph I’ve posted. I’m moving to an island in the Bronx next week.


September 12: An alert reader noticed the work of laundry:

[Click either image for a larger view.]

There’s someone at the window. But maybe also someone standing and waving to the camera?

Related reading
More photographs from the NYC Municipal Archives (Pinboard)

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Today’s Saturday Stumper

What’s up with the Newsday crossword? The puzzle still won’t load from the Newsday website, at least not on my Mac. I’ve tried three different browsers, turned off content blockers, turned off iCloud Private Relay, and still no puzzle.

Brains Only and The Washington Post have the puzzle for online solving, but only on the day of publication. Newsday has slways made the puzzle available at 10:00 Eastern the night before, which makes Friday night Stumper Eve.

Last night I found a printable puzzle at I started at 9:00 and was done at 10:00. Today’s puzzle, by Matthew Sewell, might be the most difficult Stumper I’ve ever completed.

Some clue-and-answer pairs of note:

3-D, ten letters, “What Martha Stewart bakes with turkey ragu.” I’m not sure how one should clue this answer, but I’m not crazy about this kind of factoid trivia.

9-A, five letters, “Hunger (for).” This clue gives a good idea of the puzzle’s difficulty. It’s a fair clue, but the answer is surprising, at least to me.

10-D, fifteen letters, “Screenplay overhauls.” So that’s what it means.

18-A, ten letters, “Scrooge McDuck, by birth.” It’s a bit of luck that I’d just seen a movie that put the answer in my head. (Not a cartoon.)

20-A, five letters, “Kid-lit pachyderm, aptly enough.” New to me. My first guess was BABAR — because it sounds a bit like babytalk.

26-A, seven letters, “Perrier ingredient?” Très Stumper-y.

28-D, three letters, “Bingo alternative.” GIN? UNO? No, make it Stumper-y.

33-A, eight letters, “Aghast outburst.” I like the clue’s near-rhyme and the answer’s colloquialism. It just occurred to me that the word colloquialism is not at all colloquial, just as big is not big, but David Foster Wallace figured that out some time ago.

35-A, five letters, “Capacity.” See 9-A.

36-D, three letters, “Sports booster.” If you say so.

42-A, seven letters, “Fall break?” Yay!

43-D, six letters, “Met set.” Just a great clue.

46-D, four letters, “What films have to be.”

56-A, four letters, “Rodin’s thinker.” Tricky.

My favorite in this puzzle: 4-D, fifteen letters, “Corresponding request.”

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Gothamist hears from Lucy Calkins

WNYC’s Gothamist reports on the dissolution of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. And Lucy Calkins responds:

“I stand by what I have said often: In every corner of the city, some of the highest achieving schools are those using the Units of Study and have been partnering with the Reading and Writing Project,” she said.
Indeed, high-achieving schools are using the Calkins curriculum. Those schools represent the world that the Calkins curriculum was designed for, where kids have grown up reading the monograms on their bath towels. What Calkins fails to mention is that low-achieving schools use that same curriculum.

From the Gothamist report:
[New York City Schools Chancellor David] Banks often invokes city students’ poor reading test scores as proof that the previous approach was not working. Citywide, he says, just over half of students are not reading at grade level, including 64% of Black students and 63% of Latino students.

“Our teachers have been criticized … but I think we gave them the wrong playbook for how to teach children to read,” Banks said.
Calkins warns that the city is about to implement what she calls “a one-size-fits-all basal reading program.” But if phonics is one-size-fits-all, then so is the alphabet. And so what?

Basal sounds as if it too is meant as an insult. But there’s nothing wrong with laying a foundation.

A related post
TCRWP LC? LLC! (Close-reading the Teachers College statement about the dissolution of TCRWP)

Recently updated

The case of the odious odor Now with the real source of the smell.

Fani Willis to Jim Jordan

“Chairman Jordan, I tell people often ‘deal with reality or reality will deal with you.’ It is time that you deal with some basic realities”: if you haven’t read Fani Willis’s response to Jim Jordan, here it is. It’s a wow.

Salad years

A city day: we dropped into a Trader Joe’s to pick up some items. Potato salad? Nope. Macaroni salad? “Nobody’s asked for that in” — and then the employee stopped herself. No, they didn’t have that. Just pasta salad.

From childhood’s hour, I’ve thought of cold cuts and potato salad as a gold standard for “lunch.” And various breads, Gulden’s mustard, and dill spears, please. And I’d settle for macaroni salad.

[The Trader Joe’s website shows packaged potato salad and several recipes. No sign of macaroni salad though. No one’s asked for that in years.]