Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ace Combs; or, Things Ain’t What They Used to Be

[Life, June 6, 1955.]

It’s sad to see a once-great brand sink into crappy cheapness. I know that Ace combs are no longer made of hard rubber. But I’d at least expect a plastic Ace to comb hair without raking and scraping the scalp. No such luck.

I bought an Ace yesterday and tossed it after one use. That’s how bad it was. If, however, tiny ridges and “burrs” are your thing, today’s Ace is what you’re looking for. Ouch.

I still own a hard-rubber Ace, many years old. That, friends, is a comb.

[No, you may not borrow my comb.]

Some cookies

Elaine made some cookies.

[Oatmeal-raisin is the official cookie of the Musical Assumptions/Orange Crate Art blog cartel.]

Friday, November 21, 2014

Reacting to technology

From Chris Dixon, via Khoi Vinh’s Subtraction, Douglas Adams’s rules describing reactions to technology:

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2.Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
I‘m not so sure. I’m fine with the scroll wheel (1995) and the Toyota Prius (1997). I have no interest in, say, TiVo (1999), but it’s no more against the natural order of things than recording with a VCR.

Google Glass (2013) though is against the natural order of things, for people of all ages. It just is.

Mark Trail interjections

[“Whooa!” Mark Trail, November 11, 2014.]

[“Whoa!” Mark Trail, November 21, 2014.]

I do not yet understand the grammar of Mark Trail’s interjections. Is whooa reserved for interior monologue? For underwater use? For moments when one’s own life is in danger, and not some bear’s? For use when one is at least partly clothed? Clearly, more study is needed. Whooa!

Related reading
All OCA Mark Trail posts (Pinboard)

[I think it unlikely that whooa is what Van Dyke Parks calls a misprink.]

Thursday, November 20, 2014


The television was on for “warmth.” Hamilton Burger was speaking to Lieutenant Tragg: “It’s an anonymous hipster. See if you can trace the call.”

I misheard what I misheard. But then there’s this shining moment. Perhaps the tipster was a hipster after all.

Related reading
All misheard posts (Pinboard)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mich wundert, das ich so frelich bin.

From Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube (1977), the first of three volumes recounting the writer’s 1933–1934 walk across Europe. As Leigh Fermor prepares to leave Vienna, he hears a story about the Holy Roman Emperor Maxmilian I:

Someone was describing how he used to escape from the business of the Empire now and then by retiring to a remote castle in the Tyrolese or Styrian forests. Scorning muskets and crossbows and armed only with a long spear, he would set out for days after stag and wild boar. It was during one of these holidays that he composed a four-line poem, and inscribed it with chalk, or in lampblack, on the walls of the castle cellar. It was still there, the speaker said.
Whoever tells the story writes out the poem, “with the old Austrian spelling painstakingly intact”:
Leb, waiss nit wie lang,
Und stürb, waiss nit wann
Muess fahren, waiss nit wohin
Mich wundert, das ich so frelich bin.
Leigh Fermor’s translation:
Live, don’t know how long,
And die, don’t know when;
Must go, don’t know where;
I am astonished I am so cheerful.
These lines remind me of a sentence from Guillaume Apollinaire: “la beauté de la vie passe la douleur de mourir.” And of lines from Frank O’Hara: “Grace / to be born and live as variously as possible.” All wonderful, compact philosophies of life.

Related posts
“Footpads and knaves” : From A Time of Gifts : Leigh Fermor’s Brueghel : Leigh Fermor’s eye : One word from A Time of Gifts

[The poem exists in several versions and is also attributed to the theologian Martinus von Biberach. The Apollinaire sentence is from the calligram “La cravate et la montre” (The Tie and the Watch). The O‘Hara lines are from “In Memory of My Feelings.” Relineated, they appear on O’Hara’s grave marker.]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ivory Tower to air on CNN

The CNN film Ivory Tower (dir. Andrew Rossi, 2014) airs on CNN this Thursday, November 20, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

A related post
The gold standard, haircuts, and everyone else (On the future of college)

A teacher’s response to school reformers

From high-school English teacher Ian Altman: Seven things teachers are sick of hearing from school reformers (The Washington Post). Move past the listicle title and you’ll find a deeply thoughtful response to school reformers. One choice passage:

Educators talk about and analyze test score data, and supposedly let that data “drive instruction,” but the truth is that numbers and measurements gleaned from those tests are not data.

They are a flat, bleached replacement of data, because they replace the substance of learning with an abstraction, a false image of learning, much the way Descartes replaced the idea of physical things with the concept of graphable spatial extension. The acts of thinking, learning, and knowing, are not objects that can be replaced with abstractions about thinking, learning, and knowing. In that specific but crucial sense, all school test data are fake.
I wish I had had Mr. Altman for English.

Monday, November 17, 2014

“Notorious Dead Criminals”

[“Close-up of file drawer at FBI office.” Photographs by George Skadding. United States, 1944. From the Life Photo Archive. Click either image for a larger view.]

The file-drawer label “Notorious Dead Criminals” is worthy of Chief Wiggum. That’s Pretty Boy Floyd in the second photograph.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Real Housewives of NPR

Andy Cohen, executive producer of The Real Housewives, plugging a book this morning on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday: “Some people say to me, ‘Oh my God, that’s your show ?’ And I say, ‘Look, don’t blame me. Either turn the channel, or get on board.’”

Duly noted.

Public radio ought not to serve as an organ of publicity for junk-pop-culture. NPR’s willingness to do so makes me less and less interested in kicking in to support NPR.

Related posts
NPR, sheesh
PBS wants me to flip my phone open

[Note: junk-pop-culture. Not all pop culture is junk, not by a long shot.]