Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Theft and retrieval

January 14, 2018

A posting about my life, though there will be incidental music (Glenn Gould’s 1955 recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations) and a linguistics book (Julie Tetel Andresen & Phillip M. Carter, Languages in the World, 2016).

The story starts with the music, piped during the night from my laptop computer (a MacBook Pro 15.4 from 2010) in the front of the house to my bedroom in the back. Around 2 a.m. yesterday, I came partially to consciousness, feeling the beginning of an old man’s need to take a middle-of-the-night leak but enjoying the Gould Goldberg in a semi-conscious state — when the music cut out. This sometimes just happens, for reasons I can’t discern, so wasn’t alarmed but dozed for a while, then did the bathroom thing and stumbled into the front of the house to check out the computer’s settings.

And discovered that the laptop was gone. Vanished, which would explain why the music had died. Everything unplugged, the scraps of notes on top of the laptop put aside on a chair, but nothing else disturbed in any way. Creepy.

This is Act 1, The Theft Discovered.

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This week’s terrible literary food pun

January 6, 2018

It starts with the piece by Calvin Baker on the life of poet Derek Walcott in the recent NYT Magazine “The Lives They Lived” issue (12/28 on-line, 12/31 in print), with this photo of the Nobel laureate:


(#1) Walcott in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, in 1993; photo credit: David Hurn/Magnum Photos

The village of Hay, on the river Wye, on the border between England and Wales, is famously picturesque, and I’ll get to that. But I was then struck by a recollection that there was in fact a village in England called Ham (also picturesque, and I’ll get to that too), which is not on the river Wye (though it’s close to the river Avon, as in Stratford-on-Avon, cue Shakespeare, so you could reasonably think of it as Ham-on-Avon) — but if it were, it would be (insert massive groan here) Ham-on-Wye. Well, it gets worse.

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Chandleresqueness to Mittyesqueness

January 3, 2018

Today’s Zippy, a follow-up to yesterday’s:

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Yesterday,  “Between Parody and Pastiche”, with the Zippy title “The Long Corn Rye” (The Long Goodbye). Today’s title: “Farewell, Ned Smedley” (Farewell, My Lovely). This time, I’m focused on just one thing, the clicking / ticking sound effect at the end, toketa toketa toketa, which takes me not to Chandler but to Thurber, in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”.

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Between Parody and Pastiche

January 2, 2018

Today’s Zippy takes us to the rolling green hills between Parody and Pastiche:

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Memory and the power of diner food

December 22, 2017

Yesterday’s Zippy (“The flying bucket on Sepulveda”) took us to Dinah’s Fried Chicken on Sepulveda Blvd. in LA. Today, Zippy continues the narrative with remembrances of diner foods past — rice pudding, creamed spinach, corned beef hash — and their ability to evoke specific moments from times gone by:

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The day when Zippy spilled ketchup on his styrofoam shoes at Dinah’s; the day when Dinah’s ran out of rice pudding and substituted creamed spinach; Marcel Marceau’s recollection of May 14th, 1894 in Fresno CA, a memory triggered by just a whiff of corned beef hash.

All of this is just absurd if you don’t know about Marcel Proust, the madeleines, Remembrance of Things Past, and involuntary memory; in case you’ve forgotten, the title, “Remembrance of Flings Past” is there to nudge your memory. All this Proustian stuff comes from high culture, but like other Great Books, Great Art, and Great Music, it’s worked its way into a pop-culture meme that anyone can use for jokes and that everybody’s supposed to recognize.

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100 years of independence

December 6, 2017

Though today is one of the dark days of early December alluded to in my recent posting — it’s Mozart’s death day, a sad occasion indeed — it’s also St. Nicholas’s day (gifts!), and Chris Waigl’s birthday (eggcorns, remote sensing of wildfires in the Arctic, Python, knitting, and more, in three languages!), and Independence Day in Finland. As Riitta Välimaa-Blum reminds me, this year’s Independence Day is something spectacular: the centenary of Finland’s declaration of independence from Russia.

(#1) The Finnish flag

So raise a glass of Lakka (Finnish cloudberry liqueur) or Finlandia vodka, neat, to honor that difficult moment in 1917 — the year should call to your mind both World War I (still underway then) and the Russian revolution, and these enormous upheavals were in fact crucial to Finland’s wresting its independence from Russia.

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Pillowtalk

November 25, 2017

It starts with pillowcases and pillowslips, moves to pillow-beres or pillow-biers, and from there to pillow bears, and also pillow-biters — the scourge of Australia, a continent famously “swarming with raving shirt-lifters and pillow-biters”. And from there to gay pillowcases and throw pillows. And on to facial expressions during, ahem, receptive anal intercourse. Get into bed, and before you know it, you’re getting fucked, ecstatically. The scene evolves:

(#1) Gay Evolution Pillow Case (designed by Joe Monica) from Cafe Press: the evolution of mincing (color me purple, honey)

(There will be seriously racy pictures of mansex. But even without them, after the first part, this posting is not for kids or the sexually modest.)

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Wrinkle cream

October 13, 2017

Today’s dialogue between Mother Goose and Grimm:

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It’s all about the semantic relationship between the two Ns in the N + N compound wrinkle cream.

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Mapping the bookstores

October 1, 2017

On the Chronicle Books blog site on 9/26, an excellent on-line “Comprehensive Map of All the Bookstores in San Francisco”, featuring this photo of what is probably the city’s most famous bookstore:

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The fatal bookpile

September 28, 2017

Today’s Bizarro:

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(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

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