18 September 2013
I like book indexes because of the tantalizingly incomplete sense they give of a large, impossible object broken down into its constituent parts. And because I like lists of words.
Anyway I was at the wine store the other day paging through the Jancis Robinson-edited Oxford Companion to Wine (it is as crazy authoritative as the title would suggest), and next to the introduction there’s a two-page double-column list of 300 new entries added to the third edition. If you like, it gives a rough sense of how the canonical wine world might have changed between 1999 and 2006—you know, black-magic big industrial processes in commercial production on the one hand, formerly forgotten regions and nerdy, nearly-extinct indigenous grapes on the other. (Also, the Internet: websites finally have an entry!) Did I mention I like lists of words? Like so:
Asian Lady Beetle
black dead arm
glassy winged sharpshooter
philosophy & wine
vegetarian & vegan wine
29 August 2013
WALTER BURNS. “Because it happened to be a colored policeman—and you know what that means, Hildy.”
HILDY JOHNSON. “Mm. (to Bruce) The colored vote’s very important in this town.”
I love His Girl Friday (1940) and always will, but every rewatch there’s that uncomfortable moment at lunch. It’s when we’re made to sit through the premise, right after the hilariously unfamiliar line reading Rosalind Russell gives the word “lowdown”: A black Chicago policeman has been shot by a mentally unbalanced white man; he’s going to be hanged as a sop to the city’s African-American vote; the Morning Post is taking the shooter’s side.
The movie, bless its heart, doesn’t really care about the case. It just has to sound like Chicago dirty politics-as-usual, something that will let Hildy and Walter be world-weary and knowing and on each other’s wavelength. Just texture, as they say. And if you’d like to forget all about it, the movie will let you. But it’s precisely the film’s genial indifference that makes the thing so perverse and unsettling: we’re meant to sympathize with Earl Williams, the “poor little dope,” to delight in the craven political hackery of the mayor and the sheriff—but what about the person who just got shot? The invisible dead black policeman is never mentioned again. He doesn’t even merit a name. Does a single black character appear on screen?
23 August 2013
All taken from the New York Times and Washington Post. Answers below.
01. He’s like the Tocqueville of the culinary world.
02. He’s like the Beethoven of cocktails.
03. He’s like the Ingmar Bergman of poetry.
04. He’s like the Pluto of talk shows.
05. He’s like the Lou Gehrig of Stalingrad.
06. He’s like the John McCain of action heroes.
07. He’s just like the Muhammad Ali of horse racing.
08. He’s like the Cal Ripkin Jr. of NYPD spokesmen.
09. He’s like the Sheryl Crow of now.
10. He’s almost like the Zelig of homeless people.
11. He’s becoming like the Keith Richards of content.
12. He’s the Paul Newman of American presidents.
a) Spanish chef José Andrés *
b) Muslim mixologist Mojnu Hoque *
c) Tomas Tranströmer, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature *
d) Carson Daly *
e) Soviet sniper Vasily Zaitsev *
f) Chuck Norris *
g) Jockey Edgar S. Prado *
h) NYPD spokesman Paul J. Browne *
i) John Mayer *
j) Matthew Eckstine, stepson of jazz singer Billy Eckstine *
k) Merlin Bronques of LastNightsParty dot com *
l) Barack Obama *
3 August 2013
Languages heard by fewer people in the world combined than Dothraki, the invented language of Game of Thrones nomads: Yiddish, Navajo, Inuit, Basque, Welsh.
Languages into which Georges Perec’s lipogrammatic La Disparition has been translated while preserving the constraint: German (Anton Voyls’ Fortgang); English (A Void, Vanish’d!, A Vanishing); Italian (La scomparsa); Spanish (El secuestro, no ‘a’); Dutch (‘t Manco); Swedish (Försvinna); Turkish (Kayboluş); Russian (Исчезание, no ‘o’); Japanese (En-metsu).
Nicknames of Charles Dickens’ children: the Snodgering Bee; Lucifer Box; Mild Glo’ster; Young Skull; Chickenstalker; Skittles; Ocean Spectre; the Jolly Postboy; Plorn.
Old-school newspapers: the Bee, the Comet; Press-Scimitar, Post-Intelligencer, Times-Picayune; the Argus, the Watchman, the Vigilant.
Old-school baseball teams: the Des Moines Prohibitionists, the Chicago Uniques, the Milwaukee Creams; the Spokane Bunchgrassers, the Kalamazoo Celery Pickers; the La Crosse Pinks, the Regina Bone Pliers.
Family cars: Adventure Van; Petunia Vader; Speedy Alice; Princess Buttercup; Bruce; Bonnie a.k.a. Hellfire Avenger.
Ways to call someone a wet blanket: aguafiestas; ponurak; rabat-joie; Miesmacher; ξενέρωτος; مفسد البهجة; guastafeste.
Marianne Moore’s suggestions for a new Ford Motor Company model, 1935: the Resiliant Bullet, the Intelligent Whale; Aeroterre, Pastelogram, Thunderblender; Utopian Turtletop.
27 July 2013
Here are some sentences I read in print recently and liked enough to go to the trouble of copying out:
‘You still have a queen,’ the lady checking museum tickets remarked. ‘So why don’t you cut her throat? Kings and queens are pointless, cost a fortune.’
Famously, when opening his club, The Establishment, in Soho in 1961, Cook remarked that he was modeling it on ‘those wonderful Berlin cabarets which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the outbreak of the Second World War.’
‘We learned to tap a keg,’ declared Representative Steven Palazzo, a Mississippi Republican and Sigmi Chi brother, who then yelled a cheer as hundreds of FratPAC donors applauded.
Mr. Shuppert disputed Ms. Ward’s charges, attributing the ‘sex noises’ to the garden’s full-throated bullfrogs.
Many here say the tango’s blending of passion and brooding perfectly expresses the Finnish soul.
In the entrance to the exhibit we see a video of punks ‘pogoing,’ which was a dance that was jumping up and down.
If, after a second highball, it brought tears to his eyes, he would recommend publication.