Wednesday, January 31, 2007

New word

It's juanete, which most often means bunion. It's from a mean photo-illustrated piece in the Mira tabloid that we picked up, showing closeups of non-beautiful parts of the bodies of those in show business. There's a shot of one of Madonna's hands, and it's described as a claw. We're going to save the article and all the rest of the tabloid for when we're tired and really need to be entertained. We've used up our backlog of the Onion, which was good for many laughs for us and visiting firemen.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

This is the forest primeval

I always forget that Evangeline and The Courtship of Miles Standish were Longfellow's, too. The Song of Hiawatha, The Wreck of the Hesperus, The Children's Hour, The Village Blacksmith, and The Ride of Paul Revere seem to come to mind more often. I read in the TLS that he visited the Tennysons at least once. Longfellow is our Tennyson; or maybe it's that Tennyson is their Longfellow. There are other poems that remain in the memory with no effort beyond the original one; The Arsenal at Springfield and The Arrow and the Song are two that come to mind without trying. The chain of all those generations of schoolkids who memorized all or part of these is broken. All the parodies are probably being forgotten just as quickly. I see just now that I must be reading so much about HWL because 2007 is the 200th anniversary of his birth. "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?" is another heading that could have been used here.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Popeye's friend

We've never had tastier spinach that what F. grows and sells at the farmer's market on South Congress. It's clean, plump, sweet, tasty in every way, and organic. This is the best spinach we've ever enjoyed, including what we've grown ourselves. Spinach from the South Austin Farmers' Market will be one of the pleasantest things to be remembered from this winter.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I can't believe that I never ran across this info-source before: the Internet Broadway Data Base. I punched in Eubie Blake as my first search and found that a lot of my favorite songs come from Shuffle Along ("Love Will Find a Way" and several more).

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Yes; but

This is a song suddenly remembered after years and years. It's said to date from 1908 and to be the chorus of a stage song (performed by Julian Eltinge of Cohan & Harris's minstrel revival show). This song is also known, apparently, as "Caution" and "The Bathing Song."

"Mother, may I go out to swim?"
"Yes, my darling daughter.
"Hang your clothes on a hickory limb,
"But don't go near the water."

Friday, January 26, 2007

As idle as a painted ship

Again courtesy of the library, we've been enjoying Hornblower videos. I think that a lot of these stories were published in the Saturday Evening Post and other magazines. Anyhow, in the fourth episode, Captain Pellew quotes from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This comes very close to being an anachronism, if it isn't one. The Rime is from 1797 or 1798, it appears; at least one Hornblower chronology places the year in that series as 1797. It's a near thing, anyhow, it seems. How many generations of schoolkids had to learn how many verses of this? Unlike some Shakespeare and other stuff memorized, these lines really stick.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sweet and aromatic

We can't tell if it's pea blossoms, cyclamen, violas, narcissi, or a couple of pinks, or a mix of all, but the yard smells wonderful. All hyacinths are showing tips. Two squirrel-planted "Montopolis" narcissi from Bastrop are coming into bloom. These are the ones that have a creamy perianth, multiple flowers on a stalk, and a very rounded, small, pale yellow cup that fades just a bit. These are very long-lived blooms and nothing ever stops them. Geraniums are liking all this. The poor roses are leafing out again; something ate them up all the year long.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Real modern-day tintype

At least one of these guys was in the business of capturing images of Civil War re-enactments, last I heard. A much more authentic typeface could have been used for "American Tintype Gallery."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Doorway facing east

This hooghan is shown under construction (two views).

Monday, January 22, 2007

Looking for something and finding something else

This pocket-sized booklet appears to be from the summer of 1943. All insignia and medals are explained inside, and the various military pay grades are there as well.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tomatoes in a paper cone

I don't read reviews of Almodovar movies before seeing them, and we've seen every single one. I like to be surprised. We loved Volver, even though we had to travel to South Waco to see it. The audience laughed aloud at the references to traveling to Houston, "where they cure everything." It always takes a little time to get used to the true Castilian accents, lispy and slushy and slurred, but the subtitles are quite good. We were hoping to fit in some more movie time (Guru and Stomp the Yard), but that proved to be impossible. Cooking, reading, and talking took the time.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Into my brain through my ears

Today's happy listens were Alice Coltrane (q.e.p.d.), the Lucia de Lammermoor rebroadcast with Callas, Ornette Coleman, Joan Sebastian (Mas Alla Del Sol), and the theme sung by Marco Antonio Solis from Mundo di Fieras (Antes de que Te Vayas).

Friday, January 19, 2007


There was wild carrot, seeded from next door, before all this weather. Now that it's over, we're seeing sticky-weed, from the same source. There are still some chunks of ice in shady corners. Tomorrow we'll have Montopolis narcissi open. Fennel is perking up.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


We haven't gone out to the movies since Sunday, so, when reading, talking, cooking, baking, cards, and board games pall, we're still relying on the haul from the library, some of which is no doubt about to become overdue. All I Wanna Do has a couple of laugh-out-loud moments and is affectionately observed, especially the male and female wardrobes. I guess that, if we do that sort of thing this weekend, schedules permitting, it'll be Volver and Stomp the Yard, and maybe Cedric if he's still in town, since the Hindi comedy appears to be gone.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Another day without

When I lived sixty miles over bad roads in any direction from where a pack of cigarettes could be bought, the mail arrived at the post office every single day, whether it was icy, there was unploughed snow to a depth of four feet or more, it was close to fifty degrees below zero, it was pouring down rain, the roads were washed out, or whatever else might be a deterrence. The mail came from as far away as where cigarettes were to be had. From that post office, Star Route carriers went out onto unpaved roads to take whatever went to rural mailboxes. Here in Austin, where the roads are paved and the delivery vehicles are the same ones in use all over the nation, it's for some reason impossible to sort and deliver mail. Monday was a holiday. Tuesday, the excuse was the weather; today, Wednesday, there was still no mail. I just really hate a four-day stretch without any.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A feast for the eyes

The Curse of the Golden Flower just fills the screen, to the point where it's impossible to look away, for fear of missing somethiing. Even the computer-generated bits are imaginative, and the various methods of attack, siege, and withstanding siege, including Roman-style siege towers and testudo-resembling use of shields, were fascinating. Gong-Li and Chow Yun-Fat haven't lost any star power. We thought of seeing the Hindi movie afterwards, but didn't. It was funny to go from hearing Mandarin in the movie to hearing plenty of it at the library, as well. I'd love to see Anna and the King on the big screen again. Wikipedia has more about today's movie.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Orlando was stolen

My copy of Orlando, a 1960 Signet paperback, was bought at the crazy store of the grumpy man who also sold cut-outs and records that had been on jukeboxes. Someone disappeared my copy after I'd read it just once. Signets from that era are badly bound and always have loosened pages after a while, it seems, no matter how carefully they're treated. I read Richard Wright, William Dean Howells, Theodore Dreiser, quite a bit of Henry James, and a lot of Stendhal in translation at that time just because the editions were Signet, as well as whatever else that guy sold that was Signet. Courtesy of the library, we enjoyed Orlando, but it deserves a large screen, for its sumptuous costumes and jewel-like scenes, some of which were more successful than others. The greatest sequence, of course, was on the frozen Thames, as is true of the book, although we also enjoyed in particular the scene with the wits from the age of reason. We saw the previews for this movie but were for some reason unable to catch it in theatrical release. Even in miniature we found it well worth seeing.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Elvis in film noir

Thank you, library, for King Creole. Great was our surprise to learn that this was directed by Michael Curtiz, who also directed Mildred Pierce, one of my great favorites. I've never seen Mildred Pierce on anything but a big screen; even on a 13-inch television, though, this black-and-white Elvis movie reads very well. And Elvis acquits himself well as an actor, too, surprisingly. His speech is untamed, and he may even have been able to select his own music for this one. The movie's date is 1958; the cars appeared to be from 1957. Carolyn Jones has an accent all over the place. This turns out to be based on a sensationalist novel by Harold Robbins.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I, the womanizer

Again, we thank the library for Yo, El Mujeriego. Antonio Aguilar is so charming in this one, in which there's yet another female boarding school, but in this one the kids are actually kids. The movie's in color (badly faded in some spots) and opens with bird's-eye view of Guadalajara, of which we see quite a bit, because the city's tourist agency invested in the movie, it seems. There are English subtitles, but they're a bit off. I would have fast-forwarded pas "O, Mein Papa" in Spanish, at least before the reprise, but otherwise we loved this movie, a farcical romantic comedy. I guessed the year from the cars.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Three flirts

Las Tres Coquetonas entertained, courtesy of the library. This is in black and white and has several musical numbers. Flor Silvestre (who married Antonio Aguilar) has a beautiful alto voice. We enjoyed this very much. Some sources say it's from 1959; others, from 1960. Every opportunity is afforded to show off the female leads in bathing suits, short shorts, and gowns of various sorts.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


In the current Esquire is a piece on Ramsey Clark, now 78, photographed in his City galley-like kitchen. Sharing the photo with him are two Revereware copper-bottomed saucepans with the classic scrolled handles. They even appear to be gleaming all over, top (stainless steel) and bottom (copper). Periodically, someone who shall remain nameless ruins the favorite teakettle and we order a new one from Callahan's General Store, but I see that it's possible to order one direct. The Clarks' pots appear to be from the same vintage as ours (mid-'Sixties). The only thing that ever, ever goes wrong with them is that, if one of the fasteners for the handles gets loosened and isn't noticed, it can be lost, but the handles stay on anyhow. With these and a variety of cast-iron items, from popover pans to deep fryers to Dutch ovens to skillets in a range of sizes, there's nothing that can't be prepared. Somewhere along the line, some professional-weight pots and pans were acquired. Unless there's something to be simmered at extremely low heat for hours, though, they defer to the Revereware, much easier on the shoulders, elbows, and wrists.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Texan left nameless

In today's NYT obituary of Jane Bolin, dead at the age of 98, it's reported that once when being interviewed she recalled from her time at Yale Law School, where she was one of three women and the only black person (and from which she was the first black female to graduate), "that a few Southerners at the law school had taken pleasure in letting the swinging classroom doors hit her in the face. One of those Southerners later became active in the American Bar Association and invited her to speak before his bar group in Texas. She declined." There's not a helpful clue at ABA past presidents or at YLS.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The surge equivalent

The word "surge," now tossed around all the time, has no military connotations for me. Brought to mind involuntarily are Surge and De Laval and related terms. I love this page of Surge logos. I also like this DeLaval page, even though there's not a good picture of a separator. There's a brief separator history here.

Monday, January 08, 2007

In view

Hyacinth leaves are now appearing everywhere. We still have some paperwhite flowers. Pea blossoms are a pretty sight. After all the recent rains, loquats are springing up, from pits from at least a season ago. All cucurbit volunteers have succumbed to the chills, but they were young and tender. Things like lantana have purple tinges in their leaves, from changes in their sugars made by cool weather, but nothing has been truly frozen yet. I think we've put out blankets, towels, and old sheets just once, or maybe twice. I never did take slips from geraniums this year, but the old ones are bright with flowers right now anyway. Fennel and chiles have been blossoming. Nasturtium seedlings are all over the place. They'll go if it gets too cold. Potato leaves are handsome everywhere. California poppies have really liked all this; maybe it will be a good year for flowers.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The bright side

I'm getting a lot of reading done. And we listened to the entire broadcast of I Puritani, which was wonderful. Thanks to the library, we saw Empire Falls, which was evidently shown originally on cable and was never in theatrical release. Lots of fun for lots of actors, only some of them hamming it up. Nobody's Fool was better, but this was good. K. may now be inclined to check out Richard Russo. Paring things down to the essential (only that which must be done) is a luxury. When I'm not well, I feel better to just keep on working, for the distraction, but I give myself permission to let down the guard a bit for reading and viewing. I can really taste only salty and picante things. Cool feels better than hot.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Seeing red

It was in November 2002 that I was last truly under the weather, and probably with the same complaint. Aspergum and Throat Discs from the era have expired. The forager today could find only red Aspergum (forget it!) and no Throat Discs, but did return with Fisherman's Friend lozenges, which also list capsaicin among the ingredients. I haven't started to cough, but I want to be ready if I do. Pine Brothers cough drops are no more; sometimes Thayer's Slippery Elm lozenges don't taste good, although they work for the pain. I hate strawberry- or raspberry- or cherry-flavored anything. I think I've tasted Fisherman's Friend long ago. It's imported now by the Pez people in Orange, Connecticut. Maybe it's one of those things that only a well person can tolerate.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Seminal discovery

At Gardens recently, there were still some packets of Bavicchi seeds for winter greens of various kinds. At Mandola's today, heading back from the tax office, we found a larger selection and so bought some more. In both places, they were vegetable seeds only. The packets are very large and are generously filled. Where green is involved, the green in the printed images is one not likely to be found in the real world, or at least is a green never seen by me on a lettuce or anything else of a verdant hue.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Just as being zick is worse than being sick, bilth is the nth degree of filth, or at least disorder. Being zick excuses one from certain routine duties that are not at any given time essential, but neglect of which can lead to situations that require extreme actions in the future. I think that bilth is built-up filth. I sense that bilth is lying in wait if the zickness doesn't dissipate soon. At this point only non-sweetened applesauce tastes good. A person infrequently under the weather has a disposition soon spoiled by the slightest hint of being unwell.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Being zick

It's much, much worse than being sick. It gives permission for unadulturated escapism. It makes you work hard and fast in order to be distracted from how bad you feel. It makes you misanthropic. When you're zick you don't want to be bothered by people's petty discontents. I wish I could find that Roz Chast takeout on business self-help books, one of which was entitled "From here, they all look like ants to me." When I'm zick and awake in the middle of the night, I give myself permission to read as long as I want to, no matter what I or anybody else might have to do in the morning. Flashman still makes good escapist reading. I gave away all the ones before this one, the most recent, which came from the library. There are always referrals to tantalizing adventures not yet described. I think I'll be going on to Seminary Boy next after Flashman on the March. I guess I should be grateful that I hardly ever get sick, let alone zick, and never sick or zick enough to just take to my bed, only enough to have license to be grumpy. Which I am.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Random walk

I like the little feature on blogspot / blogger weblogs that let's you click to go randomly to another blog. Clicking brought me to a history teacher's class blog. Religious congregations are using blogs a lot, too. And so are nonprofit organizations. It's a very fast way to get the word out and keeps people from being subject to the whims of their webmasters. I notice that a lot of small businesses start a blog but don't keep it up. Maybe I'll return to this one, which purports to be "starling-based & starling-related observational humor," but seems to contain little about these birds, or about wrens, either, for that matter. Nevertheless, I'll be bock. Or bach.

Monday, January 01, 2007

In the yarden

The soaked ranunculus went in. The second kind of allium is up. California poppies are enjoying a growth spurt. We still have paperwhite narcissus in bloom. Several gulf fritillaries were to be seen. The geraniums truly love this weather. Wando has more blooms each time we inspect. Weed season is upon us; we saw many wild carrots for the first time today.