The rose parade

… with figurative roses. Recent gifts to me of many kinds: symbolic roses for me, in accord with a 1/29/20 posting of mine on a line from the Sacred Harp: “Give me the roses while I live” (SH340 Odem (Second)). I’m an old man, currently writing things under the Python Queen of Scots cry “Not Dead Yet”. Meanwhile, I have been given some excellent roses.

The thematic quilts. Made from old t-shirts of mine, in 3 x 4 panels, by Janet Salsman (with the collaboration of Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky and Kim Darnell). Three delivered on 12/9/19; their precursor I posted about on 7/30/17, in “The queer quilt”. Then came these three:

— in a 12/10/19 posting “The university quilt”, t-shirts for some universities I’ve talked at

— in a 12/11/19 posting “The linguistics quilt”, t-shirts for linguistics programs or linguistics events

— in a 12/15/19 posting “The images quilt”, t-shirts with images that have pleased or entertained me; here:

(#1) In contrast to the queer quilt, with its 12 panels of solid queerness, this one’s not queer-oriented at all (panels 11 and 12, not at all clear here, have stylized representations of California live oaks at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences)

The BSDR files. From my 2/7/20 posting “The BSDR files”, about

my 1992 Presidential Address to the [Linguistic Society of America], “Mapping the ordinary into the rare: Basic/derived reasoning in theory construction”. In trying to retrieve memories of the event, I discovered that my computer files for the paper (the BSDR files) were in a format that was inaccessible to me and that all my paper files had been destroyed.

… a reconstruction of the BSDR handout — with formatting preserved — [was] done for me, purely in the spirit of colleagueship, by Luigi Talamo, now at the Univ. of the Saarland:

(#2) Thumbnail head-shot of LT, from his ResearchGate listing

— whose labors I celebrated in that posting, with some notes about him and his interests.

The semantics book. The first of two presents that arrived in the holiday season, this one by calendrical accident. András Kornai (Professor in the Institute of Computer Science, Budapest) had just published his book Semantics with Springer Verlag (so late in the year that it has a 2020 copyright date) and thought of me — András is a 1992 Stanford PhD, dissertation on Formal Phonology — as a suitable recipent of a complimentary copy.

(#3) The cover; the book is out of my price range (list price $84.99, though Amazon has it on sale for $65.32)

AK’s own summary of the book (page vii):

Our aim is to present the conceptual and formal tools required for building semantic systems capable of understanding text, both for specific tasks such as information extraction and question answering and for broad understandings such as the semantic web. Our goal here is to present the fundamental ideas that working systems rest on, and our textbook is aimed primarily at the computer science or engineering student interested in developing semantic systems. The ideal reader is a hacker, ‘a person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system’.

András necessarily works quite a bit of linguistics and philosophy (philosophy of language, of science, and of mathematics) into things, along with the formal semantic and engineering foci of the book.

The mansex alphabet surprise blocks. (Because of some references to male genitalia and mansex in this section, some readers might want to skip it and pass on to the next.)

From my 12/24/19 posting “Hung with care”, about a holiday present to me, beginning with the

deeply carnal CGI artwork of Vadim Temkin, in his alphabet of gay sex, where the letter shapes are formed by men’s bodies and body parts, many engaged in a variety of intense sexual acts.

… though the alphabet began merely as a set of 26 images, it came to me as worked into another genre: these images on the faces of surprise cubes, a set of 8 cubes which arrived a few days ago as Vadim’s New Year’s 2020 gift.

… [From among my favorites of VT’s images: P, for Powerful Pounding, chosen] because the idea of getting fucked in mid-air moves me deeply, and the flying cowboy position (shown in P) is an achievable, though seriously acrobatic, realization of the fantasy:

(#4) The P face of a mansex alphabet surprise cube, shown here (reduced in size) amidst cymbidium orchids in my patio garden

Comped at Coconuts . Returning to my neighborhood Coconuts Caribbean restaurant on Saturday 2/1, after an absence since 1/13 (I’ve been sick), I was told by my server that he (together with the rest of the staff) was buying me my lunch, for being such a good customer; he refused to take a tip, so I told him I’d make that up on my next visit (which I did, yesterday).

(#5) The little outside garden, lit up for the night (right on Ramona St., half a block or so from my front door, a wonderful thing for a dyspneic like me)

Two things, one mostly a promissory note, the other a note on English syntax.

Thing 1: being an empathetic.(This from discussion with Max Vasilatos, who has had occasion to see the way the Coconuts staff fuss over me when I come by.) From very early childhood, I have been an empathetic person, an apparently inborn trait that has served me extremely well in life, since it helps to conceal my being so monstrously off the norms in most ways and so to avert some of the consequences of my otherwise failing so deeply to fit in anywhere. (I hope to post separately on being always and everywhere a stranger, in a piece on the folksong and shapenote hymn Wayfaring Stranger and a stunning performance of it by Rhiannon Giddens.) The larger story is about finding ways to carve out little worlds where I can find a useful place and people will value my presence there. Projecting (genuine) nice-guyness — palpable empathy and an egalitarian mindset — is a big help in this larger life project.

In any case, many people pick up on my nice-guyness and reflect it back to me. Which I always find surprising but gratifying. I am genuinely interested in the individual staff at Coconuts (and Reposado, where I also go as often as I can); waiting tables is often a difficult job, and in addition, almost all the servers have to work at least two jobs to make ends meet. I communicate that, somehow, and they then project interest and liking back at me.

There’s obviously a lot more to be said here, but here’s at least a wedge into the topic.

Thing 2: getting comped. And now for something completely different. From NOAD:

verb comp: [with object] … 2 North American give (something) away free, especially as part of a promotion: the management did graciously comp our wine selection. [short for complimentary ‘free’] …

There are several argument structures for this verb comp: the object can refer either to the thing provided (as in the NOAD entry) or to the person provided with the thing — Coconuts comped me, I was comped at Coconuts — or the verb can have two objects, as in this comment from the FlyerTalk Forum on 2/29/16, about the Hilton Garden Inn, Cusco:

I had a problem with the hot water, not only did they fix the issue in under 30 minutes but the manager even comped me [recipient] a dinner at the restaurant [provided object] for the inconvenience.

Double-object examples are in fact easy to find.


3 Responses to “The rose parade”

  1. Mark Mandel Says:

    And here I was expecting BSDR to be something like BDSM.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Well, one reading of BSDR is that it is in fact a sexual fetish, b vs. t roles, involving bondage and submission vs. dominance and restraint. But the obvious reading is as “b.s. dr.”: ‘bullshit doctor’.

  2. Robert Coren Says:

    What a lovely gesture on the part of the restaurant staff.

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