Sunday, October 19, 2014

Scenic wallpaper

Cooper Hewitt’s Object of the Day, yesterday: mid-twentieth-century scenic wallpaper, manufactured by the J. C. Eisenhart Wall Paper Co., Hanover, Pennsylvania. Imagining a wall of this stuff makes me think of the problem of infinite regress. It’s rivers and trees, all the way down. And across.

You can subscribe to Cooper Hewitt’s Object of the Day and get all kinds of interesting objects through the mail.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Domestic comedy

“‘. . . the wine-dark fleece.’ Was that one mine?”

“No, that was mine.”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

[Not all fleeces are golden.]

Mark Trail arrows

[Mark Trail, October 14, 15, 16, 17, 2014.]

Mark is back from Africa and just back from fishing with Rusty. He has asked neighbor Mitch Wilson to come over. Mark to Mitch: “I’m aware of your expertise with a longbow.” What are you trying to say, Mark? A weirdly sexualized archery contest follows: Mitch shoots (THIP), Cherry shoots (THUP), Mark shoots (THK), and Mitch splits Mark’s arrow. That's the sound of SHUK. Oh SHUK.

I like this panel from the October 15 strip. Cherry’s is-it-a-smile-or-is-it-a-grimace suggests that her real calling was a career in Grade-B noir. Careful, Mitch. And Mark.

Related reading
All OCA Mark Trail posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Edgar who?

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. Here Leigh Fermor is visiting a Benedictine monastery, Göttweig Abbey, in the company of a shoemaker named Paul:

He led me along an upper cloister to see an Irish monk of immense age and great charm. His words are all lost, but I can still hear his soft West of Ireland voice. Except for his long Edgar Wallace cigarette holder, our host could have sat for a picture of St. Jerome.
Edgar Wallace (1875–1932) was a writer of immense output. Today he may be best known as the writer of the first draft of the screenplay for King Kong (1933). Wallace appeared on the cover of the April 15, 1929 issue of Time, cigarette holder in hand and mouth.

[Image from Time Cover Search.]

The image of St. Jerome with a cigarette holder is best left to the individual imagination.

Related posts
From A Time of Gifts : One word from A Time of Gifts : Leigh Fermor’s Brueghel : Leigh Fermor’s eye

[Monks smoke?!]

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

“Objects on which to lavish attention”

Susan Sontag, in “The Aesthetics of Silence” (Styles of Radical Will, 1969):

In one of its aspects, art is a technique for focusing attention, for teaching skills of attention. (While the whole of the human environment might be so described — as a pedagogic instrument — this description particularly applies to works of art.) The history of the arts is tantamount to the discovery and the formulation of a repertory of objects on which to lavish attention.
Back in grad school, I put these sentences on the syllabus for my freshman lit and comp class. Some nerve. I was an optimistic kid. Still am.

A universal question

“I love the idea that somehow this is the universal question, the thing that unites us”: Where do birds go when it rains? (xkcd).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Protecting the Chuck

Converse on in the courts:

In complaints filed with the International Trade Commission and in federal court, Converse claims that 31 retailers and manufacturers have infringed on one or more of its shoe’s trademark designs, including one or two black stripes, and the so-called cap above the toe. The Converse star is not in question.
Read it all: Converse Sues to Protect Its Chuck Taylor All Stars (The New York Times).

Converse All Stars puzzle me. At one time I lived in them. I still have a pair that I wear once a year, when I dress up as a younger me on Halloween. How I — or anyone — ever played basketball in Chucks is beyond me: they offer no support.


Checking on the fortunes of university hashtags always fills me with dismay. Yesterday, for instance, a tweeting undergrad advised prospective students to prepare for liver damage. His tweet coincided with a day-long open house for high-schoolers. Brilliant. This undergrad has company everywhere — tweeters who proclaim that they get weird, that they go hard, that their schools outdo all others in getting and staying drunk, hashtag, hashtag, hashtag. Granted, such tweeters are a fraction of a fraction of any student body (or as William Strunk Jr. would have preferred, the studentry). Yet such tweeters contribute mightily to shaping — or disfiguring — a school’s public face. They give that face a bulbous rosy nose.

O digital naïfs, when you take to the airwaves in these ways, you’re cheapening the value of your fellow students’ degrees, along with the value of your own degrees, should you attain them. That’s #stupid.

Related posts
Homeric blindness in “colledge” : Digital naïfs : Naïf watch : Naïf watch : Naïfs and Big Bird

[“Digital naïf”: my coinage. As I wrote in 2010, “so-called digital natives are often in the dark, or at least in dimly-lit rooms, when it comes to digital technology. Many so-called digital natives are in truth digital naïfs.”]

Monday, October 13, 2014