Archive for the ‘My life’ Category

Higashi Day cartoon 1: grim Bliss surprise

March 12, 2020

Here at Ramona Electronica, the cartoons have been piling up haphazardly, making awkward barriers to even the smallest simulated movements around the labyrinth of virtual rooms. So now, a modest effort at house-clearing — to celebrate March 15th: Higashi Day, formerly known in these parts as (spring) Removal Day, marking the day when, for roughly 10 years in the fabled past, Jacques and I set off to car-trek east, from Palo Alto (and Stanford) to Columbus OH (and Ohio State).

(Its winter counterpart is December 15th, Nishi Day, marking the send-off for the corresponding trip west, from Columbus to Palo Alto.)

I note that, ominously, March 15th is also — oh, Julio! — the Ides of March, but that the preceding day is that edibly mathematical event Pi Day and that only two days later comes the spring green of St. Patrick’s Day (which J and I experienced annually on the road in northern Arizona).

The inaugural Higashi Day cartoon is by Harry Bliss, in the March 9th New Yorker. But first — surely you saw this coming — a note on compass directions in Japanese.

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Double damask

March 10, 2020

My morning name from ten days ago, from a celebrated comedy routine: a double dozen double damask dinner napkins. The original was apparently two dozen double damask dinner napkins, and it sometimes is performed as a dozen double damask dinner napkins, but its tongue-twisteristic core is the double damask dinner napkins part — and the history is interesting, but what consumed me that morning was where I’d first encountered that phrase and the routine.

I was pretty sure it was at Princeton in 1959-62, in the Bendon/Daingerfield menage on Nassau St., and I recalled clearly that I was familiar with them in the fall of 1962, when Ann Daingerfield and I moved into our house in Cambridge MA and discovered we were in possession of several dozen double damask dinner napkins; we dissolved in giggles repeating the phrase. (I still have some of those napkins; they are not only handsome but durable.)


(#1) An Irish linen double damask dinner napkin, in service

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Timothy and Agrimony

February 25, 2020

(Plants, but also gay male life, with the latter focus leading to talk of mansex in street language (also with some deeply carnal (but fuzzed) photos of 69ing), so not for kids or the sexually modest.)

My morning names for 2/15: timothy and agrimony. A familiar crop grass (for grazing and hay) and a yellow-flowered bitter-tasting medicinal herb. Then these personified as two queer types: Timothy — called Timmy — the twink, a cute country boy, a hayseed, sometimes found with a stalk of grass between his teeth; and Agrimony — called Agro — the bitter old queen, jaded, sharp-tongued, largely disaffected with the queer community and feeling alienated from those in it.

The two men are of course unlikely to hook up, or even have anything to do with one another socially, but they share one bit of their sexual makeup: they both adore 69, find the exchange deeply satisfying. But characteristically, they prefer different positions for the act.

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The rose parade

February 9, 2020

… 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.

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The BSDR files

February 7, 2020

This posting represents the intersection of two posting topics that have pretty much gotten out of hand for me, so I’ll be extracting pieces from the larger material.

Topic 1 is the 1993 annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, at which I gave (on 1/9/93) my 1992 Presidential Address to the society, “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. So I put an appeal out on 12/21/19, on several sites, for help in finding a copy of (at least) my (very detailed) BSDR  handout.

Topic 2 is 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”. I have been given some excellent roses.

One of these wonderful gestures to me was a reconstruction of the BSDR handout — with formatting preserved — done for me, purely in the spirit of colleagueship, by Luigi Talamo, now at the Univ. of the Saarland. Whose labors I will celebrate here, with some notes about Luigi and his interests. But first I exhibit his gift.

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Revisiting 41: roses for remembrance

January 31, 2020

A very sweet Twitter comment on my posting yesterday “Roses now, or roses later”, from London Sacred Harp (@LDNSacredHarp):

Read these beautiful reflections on singing from the #SacredHarp in the face of real and impending mortality, and Give. Him. The. Roses. We wish Arnold the most elegant and highly scented hybrid teas, blowsy cabbages, striped Bourbons, Titania’s sweet musk roses and eglantine…

(Clearly a message from a specific person, not from the London Sacred Harp singing group as an organization, but I don’t know whose actual voice this is.)

A lovely wish, understood figuratively — my little patio garden in Palo Alto is entirely unsuitable for roses (it’s mostly cymbidiums and geraniums, plus some succulents) — but it taps into two rose-related matters, one general (roses as remembrance gifts), one personal (two hybrid tea roses in memory of my man Jacques Transue, a red Mister Lincoln in Bucks Harbor ME (where his family has long had a summer place), a peach-pink Gemini in Columbus OH).

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Roses now, or roses later

January 29, 2020

On Sunday at the Palo Alto shapenote singing, we came to #340 in the 1991 Denson Sacred Harp, Odem (Second), with the chorus “Give me the roses while I live”. Counterbalanced, as it turns out, on the preceding page by #339, When I Am Gone, with the second verse “Plant you a rose that shall bloom o’er my grave, / When I am gone”.

Roses now, or roses later.

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Three little digits

January 22, 2020

Today’s Wayno/Piraro collabo, another little exercise in cartoon understanding:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.) Wayno’s title: “Number, Please”

No doubt you recognize the speaker as Satan / the Devil / Beelzebub, but the cartoon will still be incomprehensible unless you know that there’s a particular three-digit number that’s sometimes said to belong to Satan.

Pursuing this topic on my man Jacques’s birthday, today, will lead us, through a favorite verse of his, on a circuitous route passing through a mysterious British village, Chicago, and Santa Monica, on its way to the Big Gay Village, where men hug, spoon, and screw. (There will eventually be a content warning. I’ll warn you when the screwing is imminent.)

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A squirrel in the hand

January 21, 2020

A literally eventful time of the year, surrounding the Mournful Valley of my life, that rift of bereftness between Ann Daingerfield’s death day, 1/17, and Jacques Transue’s birthday, 1/22; see my 1/16 posting “At the rim of the Mournful Valley, singing”.

By accident, in this period fall two odd celebratory dates: 1/20, Penguin Awareness Day; and 1/21, today, Squirrel Appreciation Day. Plus, on a Monday in or near this period, MLK Day in the US (this year: yesterday, 1/20/20).

This year I’ve been terribly sick and deeply dispirited, but I was cheered by coming across a sweet photograph of a young Jacques and a squirrel he had, to some degree, tamed:

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At the rim of the Mournful Valley, singing

January 16, 2020

(About other things as well, but centrally about my life, which some readers might just find annoying and want to avoid.)

January 16th today. At the very rim of the Mournful Valley. From my 1/21/15 posting “Antonio Soler and the Mournful Valley”

Not long ago, WQXR [NYC FM radio station specializing in classical music] played some keyboard sonatas by Padre Antonio Soler, a favorite composer of mine since my student days at MIT but one not especially widely known. That tweaked bittersweet memories of those days in Cambridge MA, especially powerful at this time of the year, in what I’ve come to think of the Mournful Valley of Mid-Winter, in between January 17th, the anniversary of Ann Daingerfield Zwicky’s death ([in 2020, the 35th anniversary; she died at age 47]) and January 22nd, my man Jacques Transue’s birthday ([in 2020, his 78th]; Jacques died in 2003) — and with celebrations of love, for Valentines Day, very much in the air.

In the context of the Mournful Valley, VDay is definitely bittersweet. On the one hand, I’ve been alone since 1998, when J went into a dementia care facility. On the other hand, VDay is Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky’s birthday, and that makes the holiday a very big thing.

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