Monday, May 22, 2017

William Friedkin on Proust

William Friedkin writes about visiting Illiers-Combray and Paris in search of Marcel Proust. But, Friedkin says, “the alchemy” of Proust’s work is not to be found in places:

It exists in the genius of a person who understood there was a connection between everything — that the roads we take inevitably lead to the same place, a place within ourselves.

What Proust inspires in us is to see and to appreciate every seemingly insignificant place or object or person in our lives; to realize that life itself is a gift and all the people we’ve come to know have qualities worth considering and celebrating — in time.
Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

“Center of the World, Ohio”

An especially good episode of To the Best of Our Knowledge: Charles Monroe-Kane visits family and friends in “Center of the World, Ohio.”


From The Dark Past (dir. Rudolph Maté, 1948). Al Walker (William Holden), escaped killer, sneers:

“Teachers, writers — screwballs!”

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Trump, child?

Alison Gopnik, who studies learning and development in children, explains why Donald Trump is “utterly unlike a four-year-old.” Four-year-olds, she writes, “care deeply about the truth,” “are insatiably curious,” “pay attention,” “understand the difference between fantasy and reality,” “have ‘a theory of mind,’” “are not egocentric or self-centered,” “demonstrate both empathy and altruism,” “have a strong moral sense,” and “are sensitive to social norms and think that they and other people should obey them.” So there, David Brooks.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A real nut job

I found this defenseless creature online, combed its tail forward, did some touching up, typed a word, and added some sepia.

[Inspired by Fresca and bink’s alphabet book.]

From Jack Benny

On The Dick Cavett Show, February 21, 1973: “I’ll tell you what kind of life insurance I got: when I go, they go!”

Friday, May 19, 2017

Word of the day: nut job

The Oxford English Dictionary has it:

slang (orig. U.S.).

A mad or crazy person; (also, occas.) a violent person. Cf. NUTCASE n.
The first citation is from 1975: “He was led and followed by nut jobs, him the biggest of all for being there.” The OED also notes a dictionary of slang that records a New York University student using the term in 1972. Was it Donald Trump? No. Trump graduated from the Wharton School in 1968. Trump did not invent nut job.

This post is prompted by an extraordinary New York Times headline: “Trump Told Russians That Firing ‘Nut Job’ Comey Eased Pressure From Investigation.” Let’s see how that logic works out. Perhaps nut job will be the 2017 word of the year. And it won’t be applying to Comey.

[The OED spells it as two words: nut job. Merriam-Webster spells it as one. Google’s Ngram Viewer shows nut job outnumbering nutjob 2.8:1 (2008). Nut job is an open compound word; nutjob, a closed compound.]

Modern times

A book on interlibrary loan was due today, and the lending library would not allow a renewal. So I photographed the pages still to go and will read them on my phone.

That last sentence is one I couldn’t have imagined not so long ago.


[A caffeinated blowhard.]

“It’s really loosey-goosey, and it probably wouldn’t hold up in court, but —”

Related reading
All OCA “overheard” posts (Pinboard)

Shelley’s Jerry’s

A local pizza parlor was torn down, and all that remains on its large lot is a sign. I thought of lines from Shelley in which a traveler recounts what he read on the pedestal of a broken statue in the desert:

“‘My name is Jerry’s Pizza, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
My friend Rob Zseleczky would have gotten a kick out of this post.

[I follow many modern printings of “Ozymandias” by adding quotation marks around lines 10–11 for clarity.]