Friday, April 18, 2014

“Pat talks to teenagers”

Three finds at a library book-sale: a selection of entries from Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language, a Webster’s Third New International with marbled edges, and Pat Boone’s 1958 book of advice ’Twixt Twelve and Twenty. “Pat talks to teenagers,” says the cover. From the chapter “April Love”:

Kissing for fun is like playing with a beautiful candle in a roomful of dynamite! And it’s like any other beautiful thing — when it ceases to be rare, it loses its value and much of its beauty. I really think it’s better to amuse ourselves in some other way. For your own future enjoyment I say go bowling, or to a basketball game, or watch a good TV program (like the Pat Boone Chevy show!), at least for a while.
I would like to imagine a lost original for ’Twixt Twelve and Twenty, the print equivalent of “Tutti Frutti”: Little Richard Talks to Teenagers. That would be quite a book.

“’Twixt Twelve and Twenty” is also a song. Alas, it can be taken as an argument for kissing: “Don’t they know love is ageless when it’s true?”

[Small-world department: In April 1959, Boone’s book was fourth on The New York Times list of nonfiction bestsellers. In first place: Alexander King’s Mine Enemy Grows Older. Who is Alexander King, you ask? This page by Margie King Barab explains.]

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Imaginary word of the day

The imaginary word of the day is plutonic:

plutonic |plo͞oˈtänik|
(of a relationship) formerly of great importance but now of little or no importance: their relationship is strictly plutonic.
Elaine hit on the word and together we worked out the meaning.

Pluto plays a small part in the OCA archives:

“Chin up, Pluto” : Educated mothers and pizza : Pluto Day : Pluto in Illinois : Venetia Phair (1918–2009)

[Imaginary dictionary-entry modeled on the entry for platonic in the New Oxford American Dictionary.]

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Cooper-Hewitt’s Object of the Day yesterday: a 1958 Rolodex.

I have still not seen anything similar to this Rolodex-like design.

A related post

Mark Trail, from a distance

[Mark Trail, April 16, 2014.]

Mark Trail has a new artist: Jack Elrod has passed the ball to longtime assistant James Allen. And Mark is back home after catching a poacher. Mark has been driving about in a jeep, taking in the sights and sounds of Lost Forest. He has been driving since Saturday. In the panel above, he is talking to his wife Cherry.

As any Mark Trail reader knows, Mark’s relationship with Cherry is non-existent. The strip’s pattern: Mark heads out on an adventure, comes home, sits at the table with his family, and heads out again. It’s like the Odyssey without book 23. But the dialogue in the panel above marks a new intimacy between the Trails. What better way to show affection than to call as you drive alone and aimlessly, avoiding your partner’s company?

Is James Allen having fun with his own strip? I think it’s too early to tell.

Related reading
All OCA Mark Trail posts (Pinboard)

[Jack Elrod’s final daily strip ran on April 10. A Sunday strip appeared on April 13. In Odyssey 23, Odysseus and Penelope tell each other stories and make love.]

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The dictionary as commercials

Here’s why Merriam-Webster recycled madeleine as its Word of the Day yesterday: this week’s words are a form of advertising, “dreamy” words promoting the DVD release of the 2013 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The Wall Street Journal explains it all for you:

The [Word of the Day] page and email are peppered with banner ads for the DVD release — a more typical form of web advertising — but the text itself reads like “sponsored content,” ads meant to look and feel like the publishers’ original content.
The Journal quotes Merriam-Webster editor-at-large Peter Sokolowski: “People take us as a public service,” he said. “Nevertheless, we are a business.”

Yes, Merriam-Webster, Inc. is a business. But it never occurred to me that the Word of the Day was promoting anything other than Merriam-Webster itself. I miss so much by using an ad-blocking extension in my browser.

Favorite documentaries

Online at The New Yorker, the film critic Richard Brody’s list of “The Best Documentaries of All Time.” I’ve seen just three of ten. Reading Brody’s list prompted me to write my own, a list not of what’s best or greatest but of ten documentaries I could watch again and again:

Jazz on a Summer’s Day, dir. Bert Stern, 1959
Crumb, dir. Terry Zwigoff, 1994
Être et avoir, dir. Nicolas Philibert, 2002
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of
    Robert S. McNamara
, dir. Errol Morris, 2003
Helvetica, dir. Gary Hustwit, 2007
The Art of the Steal, dir. Don Argott, 2009
How’s Your News?, dir. Arthur Bradford, 2009
Bill Cunningham New York, dir. Richard Press, 2010
Cave of Forgotten Dreams, dir. Werner Herzog, 2010
Jiro Dreams of Sushi, dir. David Gelb, 2011
What’s missing? (Especially between 1959 and 1994.)

[“All time”: I’m surprised to see that phrase in New Yorker environs.]

Monday, April 14, 2014

DFW, “Your Liberal-Arts $ at Work”

Jason Kottke linked today to a post concerning a David Foster Wallace handout on punctuation and usage. Alas, the handout is full of errors, as I showed in this 2013 post. I’ll quote what I wrote there: “Pedantry is always tiresome, but it’s especially tiresome when the pedant doesn’t know what he is talking about.”

[I know: correcting mistakes is tiresome too.]

Rachel and Seth

[Rachel and Seth. Los Angeles, April 12, 2014. Click for a larger view. When I find out who took the photograph, I’ll add a credit.]

It was a beautiful wedding. Elaine has two more pictures.

[Excitement, excitement, excitement.]

M-W recycling

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day today is madeleine. It is a word that brings back memories, memories of September 26, 2006, when madeleine was also the Word of the Day.

Naked City monkeys

[From the Naked City episode “Kill Me While I’m Young So I Can Die Happy,” October 17, 1962. Click for a larger, more primatial view.]

Detective Frank Arcaro (Harry Bellaver) has decorated a wall of the detectives’ room with these monkeys. When Lieutenant Mike Parker (Horace McMahon) looks askance at that wall, Frank explains that the monkeys came from Coney Island. Frank went there with Ruth Curran (a newly retired city employee). Frank, who still lives with his mother (strong Marty-esque overtones), is dating. I would say that this Naked City episode is an unusual one, but every episode in this series is in some way singular.

Seeing these monkeys gave me a jolt: I had such a monkey in childhood. I wish I knew where he or she came from, and I wish I knew where he or she went.

Related reading
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)