Thursday, May 24, 2018

Spare change

All those challenge coins.

Mac, asleep

If you are sitting in front of a device at night, the free app f.lux (pronounced “flux”) can be very helpful. The app changes the color of the screen display, “warm at night and like sunlight during the day.” Correlation is not causation, but after using this app for a month or so, I’m realizing that I find it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the orange glow, but I don’t mind it anymore. f.lux is available for macOS, iOS, Windows, Linux, and some Android devices.

Thank you, Rachel, for recommending this app.

Mac, awake

Marcel Dierkes’s KeepingYouAwake is a free Mac app, a successor to the worthy Caffeine (which hasn’t been updated for quite some time). KeepingYouAwake keeps the Mac from going to sleep. Useful when downloading a large update or when you’re using the computer intermittently and don’t want to be typing in a password again and again.

A more elaborate free no-sleep app: Amphetamine. As a resident of downstate Illinois, I wish that one had a different name.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Garfield minus Garfield

[Garfield, May 23, 2018.]

A carrier left a free copy of the local newspaper in our driveway today, and I ended up noticing Garfield on the comics page. And having noticed, I had to play Garfield Minus Garfield.

[Garfield revised, May 23, 2018.]

That dog must have magical powers. Clearly an improvement.

Related posts
Blondie minus Blondie : Garfield minus thought balloons : Garfield minus Garfield


Adolfo Bioy Casares, The Invention of Morel, trans. Ruth L.C. Simms (New York: New York Review Books, 2003).

The Invention of Morel is a wonderful novella, literally so. The cover of the NYRB edition — a photograph of Louise Brooks and books — is a bit of a lure: Brooks inspired the novella but plays no part in it. The setting is a mysterious island; the narrator, a man who realizes that he is not alone. No wonder the book appears in Lost, in the hands of James Sawyer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

They’re back

“Repurposed in imaginative ways, many have reappeared on city streets and village greens housing tiny cafes, cellphone repair shops or even defibrillator machines”: “The Red Phone Box, a British Icon, Stages a Comeback” (The New York Times).

Cake revision

“Congrats Jacob! Summa --- Laude.”

I’m not sure how to phrase it:

A South Carolina grocery store created a graduation cake with the —


A South Carolina grocery store removed the —


A South Carolina grocery store made a cake without —


A South Carolina grocery store created a graduation cake with three hyphens in place of the “cum.”

That’s the best I can do.

Twelve movies

[Just two sentences each. No spoilers.]

Othello (dir. Orson Welles, 1951). A stark, swift version of the story, with Welles — who else? — as the brooding protagonist and Micheál MacLiammóir as the cipher Iago. Othello here seems like a version of Charles Foster Kane in Xanadu, growing estranged from his partner and roaming massive rooms.


The Skin I Live In (dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 2011). A bereaved surgeon decides to settle a score. Insane and insanely great, with echoes of Ovid, Beauty and the Beast, Vertigo, and Eyes Without a Face.


Mystery Street (dir. John Sturges, 1950). A low-budget whodunit, filmed in Boston, Cambridge, and Cape Cod, with a strong story and John Alton’s brilliant cinematography. Ricardo Montalban plays a state-police detective; Elsa Lanchester, a sly landlady; Betsy Blair, a savvy tenant.


The Shape of Water (dir. Guillermo del Toro, 2017). Though I greatly admire Sally Hawkins, I was reluctant to see any film with an inter-species romance. But I found the story compelling enough that my disbelief walked off and hung itself up on a coat rack, no act of my will needed.


Crossfire (dir. Edward Dmytryk, 1947). Post-war America, and as one character says, “The snakes are loose.” A dark story of a murder investigation, with three Roberts (Mitchum, Ryan, and Young), Gloria Grahame, and Paul Kelly.


Up the Down Staircase (dir. Robert Mulligan, 1967). Sandy Dennis as the earnest Sylvia Barrett, graduate of an elite college, teacher at a tough New York City school. I love the music (by Fred Karlin), the hallways and staircases (like those of my elementary school), and Dennis’s voice (like Mary Tyler Moore’s, as I’ve only now realized), and I must agree that “There is no frigate like a book.”


Elmer Gantry (dir. Richard Brooks, 1960). A true believer (Jean Simmons), a vengeful prostitute (Shirley Jones), and Burt Lancaster as “Elmer the great, Elmer the grifter.” Religion and entrepreneurship in the so-called heartland.


Man on the Train (dir. Patrice Leconte, 2002). A retired professor of literature (Jean Rochefort) shares his house with a small-time criminal (Johnny Hallyday). Shades of “The Secret Sharer,” of Borges, of shades.


Summer Hours (dir. Olivier Assayas, 2008). A mother (Édith Scob) and her three adult children (Charles Berling, Juliette Binoche, Jérémie Renier ) in a story about what becomes of our stuff (here, an art collection) after we’re gone. “Memories, secrets, stories that interest no one anymore.”


Maps to the Stars (dir. David Cronenberg, 2014). A tangle of relationships in movieland: a fading actress, a personal assistant, a teenage star, the star’s parents, and several ghosts. Funny, frightening, and truly, deeply, wonderfully strange, with overtones of All About Eve, Sunset Boulevard, Mulholland Drive, and, at least in my head, Nabokov’s Ada.


The World of Henry Orient (dir. George Roy Hill, 1964). A sweet, sad story of the imaginative life of two fourteen-year-old girls in the playground of mid-century Manhattan. This movie has long deserved to be part of the Criterion Collection.


The Enchanted Cottage (dir. John Cromwell, 1945). Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire as a disfigured veteran and a “homely” maid, and you can guess where they fall in love. My mom is right: “I didn’t think she was homely!”

Related reading
All OCA film posts (Pinboard)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Imitation and parody

From the May 20, 1974 episode of Cavett, available from Hulu. Eudora Welty, responding to Dick Cavett’s question about writing in the manner of another writer:

“There are many writers that I admire. But it doesn’t occur to you to attempt to do anything someone else has done, because you can’t do anything except what you know how to do.”
Cavett goes on to tell a story of Graham Greene entering a Graham Greene parody contest and coming in second. It’s a true story.

Related posts
Against “deep reading” : A Welty self-portrait

In room 19

In a hotel, a younger Jorge Luis Borges meets an older Jorge Luis Borges, already registered in room 19. The older Borges explains that in 1979, the younger Borges will give in to the temptation to write a “great book.” It will be “a masterpiece, in the most overwhelming sense of the word.” The older Borges explains:

Jorge Luis Borges, “August 25, 1983,” in Collected Fictions, trans. Andrew Hurley (New York: Penguin, 1998).

The older Borges adds that when he published this work, under a pseudonym, he was taken “for a clumsy imitator of Borges.”

“I’m not surprised,” says the younger Borges. “Every writer sooner or later becomes his own least intelligent disciple.”

Other Borges posts
Borges manuscript found : Borges on reading : A sentence from “The Aleph” : “Hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typefaces”

[Borges was born on August 24, 1899.]