Archive for the ‘Culinarion’ Category

Daily Office: Thursday

Thursday, August 27th, 2009


¶ Matins: At Survival of the Book, Brian considers David Ulin’s widely-read LA Times piece, “The Lost Art of Reading.”

¶ Lauds: Prince Charles takes his (architectural) case to the public. (via Arts Journal)

¶ Prime: Robert Cringley poses the Emperor’s-New-Clothes question about American corporations that we’ve been asking for ages — only with greater élan: when did profits become more important than pensions and health benefits?

¶ Tierce: What happens in Oman at iftar, the call to evening prayer? One thing seems to be clear: the orgy is not traditional. (via  Café Muscato)

¶ Sext: Vacationing on Cape Cod, Scout looks at the hostelries along Route 6A between Truro and Provincetown, and finds a romantically abandoned motel.

¶ Nones: In the eyes of the developed world, Muammar el-Qaddafi hovers unstably between dictator and thug. Dictators, while not approved, are accepted; thugs, like terrorists, are not permitted to negotiate. Negotiating the release of the Lockerbie bomber, the colonel may have kicked himself away from the table.

¶ Vespers: While we’re getting all weepy about the end of The Book, maybe we ought to feel a little hopeful about the end of Books Like This, which never ought to be published in the first place.

¶ Compline: Edward Moore Kennedy: a princeling who had a U S Senate seat handed to him (repeatedly)? Or a little prince who had to overcome the allure of accidental advantages in order to find real strengths? We take the latter view, along with the Times, the Journal, and even the Post.  


Daily Office: Tuesday

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009


¶ Matins: Jonah Lehrer proposes a molecular theory of curiosity: don’t worry, it’s easily grasped.

¶ Lauds: David Denby’s unfavorable review of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds makes sense to us — which confirms our suspicion that it is an old-man view of things.

¶ Prime: Felix Salmon reads that crazy story about the guy with the $25,000 certified check in his briefcase, and contemplates a depressing conclusion.

¶ Tierce: Why rock stars ought to die young: “eccentric-looking old man” spooks renters, turns out to be Bob Dylan. (via The Morning News)

¶ Sext: A “Good Food Manifesto for America”, from former basketball pro Will Allen. (via How to Cook Like Your Grandmother)

¶ Nones: Turkey struck an interesting agreement with Iraq last week: more water (for Iraq) in exchange for tougher crackdowns on PKK rebels active near the Turkish border. (via Good)

¶ Vespers: Not so hypothetical: what if you could teach only one novel in a literature class that would probably constitute your students’ only contact with great fiction? A reader asks the editors of The Millions.

¶ Compline: Two former policemen argue for legalizing narcotics. (via reddit)


Daily Office: Thursday

Thursday, August 6th, 2009


¶ Matins: The High Line may be cute, but we disapprove (an understatement) of elevated highways in urban areas. So does everybody with a brain. Jonah Freemark and Jebediah Reed contemplate the elimination of seven American monstrosities.

¶ Lauds: Matt Shepherd ruins Rashomon for everyone, forever. (via MetaFilter)

¶ Prime: Gracious! All of a sudden, defunct Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers owes New York City gazillions in back taxes! Was Mayor Bloomberg perhaps a bit too pally with Richard Fuld?

¶ Tierce: Four months in, and the prosecution is still at it. Not even the newspapers are paying much attention; what about the Marshall Trial jurors?

¶ Sext: Who will replace Frank Bruni as the Times’s restaurant critic? [Sam Sifton, that’s who.] This may be the last time that anybody cares. (via The Awl)

¶ Nones: And, just the other day, we watched The Hunt for Red October: “Russian Subs Patrolling Off East Coast of U.S.”

¶ Vespers: Aside from Pride and Prejudice, we haven’t read any of the books on Jason Kottke’s best-book list (why only six). That may change.

¶ Compline: James Bowman regrets the fading of the honor culture. We don’t, not a bit, but Mr Bowman’s very readable essay can’t be put down.


Daily Office: Tuesday

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009


¶ Matins: David Carr writes about The Party. You know the one! The Talk launch, which happened ten years ago last Sunday. Remember? When the Web was a “niche”?

¶ Lauds: Alex Ross’s New Yorker column on the wealth of interesting music available through Internet portals, “Infinite Playlist,” hits a lot of bases, but keeps running.

¶ Prime: Thinking of “investing in art”? Felix Salmon: Don’t be daft.

¶ Tierce: Compare and contrast these contemporary fines: $675,000 for file sharing in Massachusetts; $1300 for second DUI arrest. Get your dose of righteous anger at World Class Stupid — it’ll make you laugh before you can rant.

¶ Sext: Here’s something useful to fight about while we ponder Michael Pollan on cooking and couches: the (Scottish or English) origins of haggis.

¶ Nones: Sometimes, ceremony matters. A lot of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s former cronies stayed away from his “endorsement.”

¶ Vespers: Here’s a wonderful new literary game from LRB: take the title of a famous book and attach it to the name of an author who (a) couldn’t possibly have written it or (b) would have turned in a very different text.

¶ Compline: David Bromwich writes about “America’s Serial Warriors,” captured at Tomgram. (via The Morning News)


Daily Office: Friday

Friday, July 31st, 2009


¶ Matins: The Urban Mole won second prize; I’d have made it the first-prizewinner. (via Good)

¶ Lauds: A forgotten instrument from a famous score has been re-invented (one hopes!): the steel glockenspiel that Mozart had in mind for The Magic Flute.

¶ Prime: One of the biggest problems in the way we do business — literally — is the slapdash way in which we do or don’t clean up after ourselves: “When Auto Plants Close, Only White Elephants Remain.”

¶ Tierce: Unexpected but inevitable: what happens when lightweight Smart Cars are parked near canals. (via Infrastructurist)

¶ Sext: How To Cook Like Your Grandmother. (via  MetaFilter)

¶ Nones: After more than six years of expense, it has come to this:

“If there ever was a window where the seeds of a professional military culture could have been implanted, it is now long past. U.S. combat forces will not be here long enough or with sufficient influence to change it,” wrote [Col Timothy R Reese]. “The military culture of the Baathist-Soviet model under Saddam Hussein remains entrenched and will not change. The senior leadership of the I.S.F. is incapable of change in the current environment.”

¶ Vespers: Will Blythe writes up the new new Thomas Pynchon novel — a noir detective story — at The Second Pass.

¶ Compline: At the Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer discusses some recent findings about television as a balm for loneliness.

¶ Bon weekend à tous!


Daily Office: Thursday

Thursday, July 9th, 2009


¶ Matins: Max Fisher calls it semitarianism, and Peter Smith likes it. Now, eat your vegetables.

¶ Lauds: The evolving aesthetic of public monuments finds interesting expression in a new 7/7 memorial, soon to be unveiled in Hyde Park.

¶ Prime: The death of Robert McNamara reminds Philip Delves Broughton, author of Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School, of what he calls “The McNamara Syndrome.” (via Felix Salmon)

¶ Tierce: Ya gotta admit: the trial as eveything: Gurneys! Oxygen! A men’s room shut down for an hour, while Charlene comforts her traviato.

¶ Sext: Henry Alford files a report about leftovers: “chunks of some sort of appalling turgid brownish oozing cake.”

¶ Nones: In the bad old days, utter nincompoops could inherit thrones. Now, they get elected. But the problem is the same: how do you get rid of them? The kid-glove approach taken by the Honduran élite seems not to have worked.

¶ Vespers: Chalk another win up for NYRB Books: they’ve reissued L J Davis’s A Meaningful Life — now, 29 years after hardcover publication, in cloth. John Self enthuses.

¶ Compline: John Lancaster, a Washington-based journalist, did not finish out his term at Atchison College, Pakistan’s top prep school (boys only, natch), but he did gather enough material for a must-read report. (via  The Morning News) (more…)

Daily Office: Wednesday

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009


¶ Matins: Is the Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound a template for health care reform?

¶ Lauds: My friend Ellen Moody writes about the strange success of Ronald Colman.

¶ Prime: According to Patrick Devedjian, the French stimulus minister, “The country that is behind is the U.S., not France.”

¶ Tierce: Defendant Anthony Marshall called in sick today, and the jurors were excused. Vanity Fair comes to the rescue, with a slideshow of sketches by Jane Rosenberg.

¶ Sext: It’s time for lunch: think I’ll cloud up my vital fluids.

¶ Nones: Coup or clean-out? The fact that the Obama Administration can’t seem to decide upon a characterization of recent events in Honduras suggests to me that we’re going to support the new regime.

¶ Vespers: Richard Crary writes about youthful reading and outgrowing writers.

¶ Compline: Remember the “Peter Principle”? Italian researchers have confirmed it. (via reddit)


Dear Diary: Madeleines

Monday, June 8th, 2009


It was a good day, even though I woke up late and took a while to get started. The first thing that I did when I sat down at my desk was to put together a playlist for the day. I didn’t try to make it perfect; I aimed, rather, for a list that would lend itself to improvement — to substitution, really. Instead of Karl Böhm’s late Mozart, how about Karajan’s. Instead of Locatelli’s Opus 1 (a new addition to the collection), maybe some more Sammartini, if and when I can find it. And what would happen if I stuck Ein Heldenleben where Romeo & Juliet is now?

As for the end of the day, I spent it in the kitchen. It has been ages since I spent an evening in the kitchen. I used to, all the time; but that was before The Daily Blague was a twinkle in my eye. My kitchen is no longer a hobby; it’s a utility. Just as I have a plan for paying the bills every month, so I need a kitchen management system that, while not interesting in itself, is easily operated. It consists, for the most part, in taking down the contents of half of two cabinet shelves and checking out the stuff on the top shelf of the refrigerator door — the shelf that’s held up with duct tape. (The refrigerator is not three years old, but that’s modern plastic for you. Kathleen promises me a superdeluxe, freezer-at-the-bottom refrigerator, but I don’t hold her to it; I’m managing all right as it is.)

When I was through with my dinner (spaghetti alla carbonara — my default kitchen dinner), I decided to make a batch of madeleines. I do love to bake, and madeleines have been a specialty of mine ever since my mother brought back two madeleine tins from a trip to Paris in the early Seventies. (Of course I had begged her to do so.) In those days, the Proustian experience was a strictly literary, and not at all culinary, phenomenon. Also, there was no Pam: you had to butter and flour the grooved molds one by one, and it was a royal chienne.

The interesting thing, I find, is that even the modern Silpat, allegedly nonstick, madeleine molds require Pam. So I don’t much use the full-sized molds that I’ve collected. When I make a batch of madeleines ordinaires, I use the those tins from Paris to make two dozen regular madeleines, and two Silpat forms to make about three dozen mini-madeleines. I keep the big ones, and send the minis to the office with Kathleen.

Baking these shell-shaped treats — they’re neither cakes nor cookies, but something in between — used to be an affectation, I’ll admit. But, by now, I’ve been making them rather longer than anybody of my age, and probably as often as anybody on earth who isn’t either paid to make them or slightly mad. At an early age, baking madeleines became something that I do. Connecting them with Proust has lapsed into an afterthought. But I do wonder what his grandmother at Illiers would have thought of mine.  Woiuld she have detested the drop of lemon oil that, after wild experiment and variation, has become my only lasting interpolation to the recipe? It doesn’t much matter, because Kathleen adores it.

Dear Diary: Salad

Monday, May 25th, 2009


This afternoon, I invented a chicken salad. I probably did no such thing, but what I came up with was new to me. I tossed the white meat from a roast chicken (Kathleen and I eat only the dark when the bird comes out of the oven) in a dressing made up of mayonnaise, a half teaspoon of curry powder, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, two tablespoons of fresh orange juice (left over from breakfast), a splash of white wine vinegar, a few pinches of dried tarragon, and salt and pepper. How much mayonnaise? Enough to make a slightly runny dressing. I covered the dressed chicken and set it in the fridge for a few hours. (In winter, I should have left it on the counter, wrapped.) At the last minute, I added two avocados, chopped, and one small tomato, seeded and chopped. That was that.

While different from anything that I had ever had, the result was not at all strange. Like most tasty food, my chicken and avocado salad tasted like a secret that I’d just been let in on. The sweetness of the orange juice combined with that of the tarragon to brighten the roast chicken, and the hours of steeping in the fridge had moistened it nicely. As we enjoyed the salad, I thought of how often in the past I have ruined chicken and avocado combinations with the greedy but deadening addition of bacon and mushrooms.

As for the rest of my day….

Yesterday — was it yesterday? I think so — I was trying to select an RSS feed in Outlook when I noticed a problem: the reading pane was blank. Worse, Outlook was suddenly “not responding.” Rebooting, deleting the feed and replacing it with a new one under a different name — nothing worked. Presently I discovered that the laptop was similarly afflicted. The net result was that I gave up on Outlook for feeds, and started a page in Google Reader. I ought to have done this a long time ago, for when you’re working from two or three computers, it makes no sense to channel all news feeds to just one of them. Clouds, my dear, are all silver lining.

Unfortunately, I had by that time deleted whole folders of feeds. Of course I remembered the sites that I depend on the most, but I’m afraid that I lost many of the new possibilities that I’d begun following in the past two weeks. A few years ago, the loss would have put me in a tragic frame of mind for at least a week. Now, I’m too busy for that sort of thing. I say this not to show off my newfound stoicism but to thank heaven that I am too busy for tragic states of mind about… lost RSS feeds.

Thanks to one of the new blogs whose name was rescued from the debacle, I discovered the site of an artist who paints disturbing oils. You could say that the pictures are pornographic, or at least I can, because I responded to them, more or less, as one responds to dirty pictures, if you know what I mean by that. (I looked at every last one of them.) But the paintings are disturbing in a way that has nothing to do with bizarre couplings. The young people who are shown in various states of undress, smoking and drinking at a party held in a Eurotrashy-deluxe setting, look terribly lost, and anything but happy. They’ve clearly been drinking too much, or drugging too much; and the men especially seem to be wondering how they got to this swinging soirée. When, that is, they’re not in a state of leer. I also had the most peculiar sense that they were for the most part still living with their parents, whose servants had ironed the shirts that hung unbuttoned on their unbalanced chests, and pressed the jackets that, despite the décolletage, they had neglected to shuck. The women are rarely absolutely naked, but almost always elaborately nude. The air is rancid with the scent of privilege gone wrong. For what it’s worth, the artist appears to fancy Cartesian, geometric titles.

You’ll be waiting for a link about now, but I’m not ready to give it. There’s no need for you to risk feeling as complicit in unseemly doings as I did for hours this afternoon.

Daily Office: Thursday

Thursday, May 21st, 2009


¶ Matins: At a blog, new to me, called Reddit, readers were asked to identify “closely held beliefs that our own children and grandchildren will be appalled by.”  Then Phil Dhingra, at Philosophistry, composed a bulletted list of a dozen possibilities. Be sure to check it out.

¶ Lauds: Sad stories: No JVC Jazz Festival this summer, and no more Henry Moore Reclining Figure — forever. The festival may or may not limp back into life under other auspices, but the Moore has been melted down.

¶ Prime: David Segal’s report on the planning of Daniel Boulud’s latest restaurant, DBGB, on the Bowery near Houston Street (it hasn’t opened yet) has a lot of fascinating numbers. 

¶ Tierce: Attorney Kenneth Warner’s attempt to discredit Philip Marshall strikes me as desperately diversionary, but you never know with juries.

¶ Sext: This just in: “The 1985 Plymouth Duster Commercial Is Officially the Most ’80s Thing Ever.”

¶ Nones: The Berlin Wall, poignantly remembered by Christoph Niemann — in strips of orange and black.

¶ Vespers: The other day, I discovered An Open Book, the very agreeable (if less than frequently updated) blog of sometime book dealer Brooks Peters. (via Maud Newton)

¶ Compline: At Outer Life, V X Sterne resurfaces to post an entry about an unhappy moment in his job history. (We’ve been through this before, young ‘uns.)

¶ Bon weekend à tous!


Daily Office: Tuesday

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009


¶ Matins: In one of those hard cases that the vagaries of editorial wording can decide, an Army contractor, who in what I should certainly call the heat of passion “revenge-killed” a prisoner, was finally sentenced. The prisoner had doused the contrator’s partner, a woman, in flammable liquid and set her on fire. (She later died of burns.) Read the judgment below. (via The Morning News)

¶ Lauds: Nicolai Ouroussoff decries the latest design for a transportation hub at the World Center site as a “monument to the creative ego that celebrates [Santiago] Calatrava’s engineering prowess but little else.” 

¶ Prime: Act today? “The 99 Most Essential Pieces of Classical Music” are on sale, as a set of MP3 downloads, for $7.99. I’m not sure that I can recommend starting a classical library this way. (via

¶ Tierce: For the first time in my life, I bought the New York Post yesterday. How could I not, given this screaming headline: “DISS ASTOR.” Never mind that what it refers to doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. What, though, can Charlene Marshall have been thinking, when she allowed a Post reporter into her apartment?

¶ Sext: Ian Frazier, longtime New Yorker humorist, must have started out in his playpen, seeing that he’s celebrating his fortieth birthday.

¶ Nones: Page A11 of yesterday’s Times was entirely taken up by a call to journalists to recognize the body of water that you probably know as the “Sea of Japan” as the “East Sea.”

¶ Vespers: Joseph O’Neill’s three boys didn’t understand why they couldn’t drop in on President Obama during a recent trip to Washington. Did they know that he was reading daddy’s book? Vintage Books certainly did. (via  Arts Journal)

¶ Compline: In the current issue of NYRB, Sue Halpern goes after a couple of the anecdotes upon which Malcolm Gladwell argues his case in Outliers.


Daily Office: Wednesday

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009


¶ Matins: The Justice Department has decided, provisionally, that the Bush Administration lawyers who okayed torture, while “serious lapses of judgment,” ought not to be prosecuted. Meanwhile, Christopher Hitchens explores the unnecessary folly of those lapses. (via  The Morning News)

¶ Lauds: The first “Madoff” art sale? The co-founder of Nine West, Jerome Fisher, one of the fraudster’s investors, has consigned one of  Picasso’s “Mousquetaire” paintings to Christie’s. (via  Arts Journal)

¶ Prime: If you liked that article with the spaghetti on the back page of the Book Review, there’s more, at Psycho Gourmet.

¶ Tierce: Geriatrician Howard M Fillit testified yesterday that, without her ample support staff, Brooke Astor would have been tagged with Alzheimer’s at least three years earlier.

¶ Sext: First the good news: “China cigarette order up in smoke.” Now the good news:

The authorities in Gong’an county had told civil servants and teachers to smoke 230,000 packs of the locally-made Hubei brand each year.

Those who did not smoke enough or used brands from other provinces or overseas faced being fined or even fired.

¶ Nones: The truly interesting detail in Carlotta Gall’s Times story about the impending government assault on Taliban forces in the Swat valley of Pakistan is the absence of two words: “civil war.”

¶ Vespers: DG Myers has written up an Orthodox and (culturally) conservative reading of Zoë Heller’s The Believers that all serious readers of the novel, I expect, will have to consider.

¶ Compline: Making the New Yorker Summit rounds yesterday was Jason Kottke’s appreciation of Milton Glaser’s Rule #3 (“Some People Are Toxic Avoid Them“)


Dear Diary: Busting, Popping

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009


At our very late dinner (we had the New Panorama to ourselves), I told Kathleen that I could have kept time sheets for the day. I could account for every half-hour segment of the day.

I got a lot done, all right, but it wasn’t what I would call a “productive” day. “Productive” means something else — there’s an element of surprise involved. Wow, look what I did! That was wholly lacking today. I had to make a list (mental time sheets) in order to remind myself of all that I’d accomplished.

It was the same thing yesterday. I don’t know myself anymore. I’ve become — gasp! — a steady worker!

I did make popcorn in the middle of the day. Well, it wasn’t the middle of the day really, but more like seven o’clock. I had just finished a long overdo book write-up, and I was about to pay bills. I made popcorn largely for the larder; I like to have it around for the occasional hunger pang, especially now that I’m making good popcorn again. I only ate a bit of it. Then I got back to work. Paying, as I say, the bills.

The bills were not fun to pay this month. Next month will be better! Even though I ordered an Asus netbook this morning.
What was it with the bad popcorn, anyway? I ask myself this a lot lately. One of the few specific things that my father taught me was how to make popcorn. To give you an idea of how exceptional this was, let me share with you his method for cooking bacon.

Three-Step Bacon

    (1) Put a pound of bacon in a skillet.
    (2) Over heat (turn on the stove).
    (3) Rely on the rest of the family or the fire department to prevent fatal smoke inhalation, as you snooze in your easy chair, having completely forgotten the first two steps.

Dad made popcorn in an electric popper that couldn’t be washed very conveniently, but that was the least important angle. Peanut oil was the indispensable ingredient. Why did I forget this? For years I used canola and safflower oil, always regretting the results. And we’ll draw a veil over the various microwave techniques, one of which required a small treated cardboard patch that had to be thrown away after three or four uses. I have no idea why I ever strayed from the tried and true laetificat juventutum meum, but it’s good to have my head screwed on again.

I not only knew a would-be popper guy who thought that corn syrup was a substitute for corn oil, but I saw the pot that he tried it out in. Not pretty!

Dear Diary: Freezer

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009


Another housebound day. The sun came out between five and six, but by then it was too late to run errands. Tomorrow, I thought. Tomorrow will be nice. But — (more…)

Daily Office: Tuesday

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009


¶ Matins: China’s purchase of American debt has slowed down, according to a recent report. As long as it doesn’t simply stop altogether (gulp)….

¶ Lauds: Green Porno, with Isabella Rosselini. These birds-‘n’-bees audio-visuals are almost okay for kids. Except of course for Ms Rosselini’s delicious naughtiness.

¶ Prime: Geoffrey Pullum, a professor of English and linguistics at Edinburgh, doesn’t think much of The Elements of Style, and will not be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. (via Arts Journal)

¶ Tierce: The Ford Foundation, our second largest, has streamlined its operations. This is not a cutback so much as a reconception of “lines of work” — an intellectual advance.

¶ Sext: Culinary professional Peter Hertzmann may convince you that you need an iPod Touch more than a new KitchenAid stand mixer. Wholly Apps!

¶ Nones: Jonathan Head’s BBC report, appraising the latest, and inevitable, wave of unrest in Thailand highlights the core problem for most sovereignties since 1789: nurturing an élite that has the common sense to avoid disenfranchising the lower strata of society.

¶ Vespers: What, exactly, is a novella? A short novel, or a long story? At hitheringandthithering waters, John Madera collects a number of reasonably learned opinions — or, at least (and what is better), reading lists. (via The Second Pass)

¶ Compline: Simon Blackburn argues (at some length, alas) that David Hume is very much the man for our times.

I suspect that many professional philosophers, including ones such as myself who have no religious beliefs at all, are slightly embarrassed, or even annoyed, by the voluble disputes between militant atheists and religious apologists. As Michael Frayn points out in his delightful book The Human Touch, the polite English are embarrassed when the subject of religion crops up at all. But we have more cause to be uncomfortable.

The annoyance comes partly because of the strong sense of deja vu. But it is not just that old tunes are being replayed, but that they are being replayed badly. The classic performance was given by David Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, written in the middle of the 18th century. Hume himself said that nothing could be more artful than the Dialogues, and it is the failure to appreciate that art that is annoying.


Daily Office: Wednesday

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009


¶ Matins: Between this and this: I just had one of my big ideas: Libraries in France are bookstores. (Bibliothèques are libraries, but never mind.) What if we altered the English definition, and publicly funded small bookshops?

¶ Lauds: The world’s “largest concert“: the Hamburg State Orchestra plays Brahms — all over Hamburg.

¶ Prime: It took me forever to realize what Formenwandlungen der &-Zeichen means. “&-Zeichen” is the (rather klutzy) German term for “ampersand.”

¶ Tierce: The good news is also the bad news: Orient-Express Hotels wants to back out of a deal with the New York Public Library that may leave the Donnell Library building standing.

¶ Sext:  Keith McNally, owner of Balthasar and other eateries, would like to swat the bloggers who are swarming around his latest venture (which doesn’t open until next week), Minetta Tavern. Buzz, buzz!  

¶ Nones: Amazing news: “Arrest warrant issued for Sudan leader.”

¶ Vespers: Maud Newton reconnects with Katherine Anne Porter, who has just appeared in the Library of America.

¶ Compline: This is a joke, right? The United Transportation Union objects to surveillance cameras in railroad engine cabs; recommends staffing same with two people.


Daily Office: Thursday

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009


¶ Matins: Setting aside, for the nonce, dreams of Camelot restored, let us peer deeper into history, with Russell Baker as our guide.

The blooming of literature about the Hundred Days probably has a lot to do with Barack Obama’s assuming the presidency at a moment of economic breakdown just as Roosevelt did seventy-six years ago. Parallels like this are hard for historians and journalists to resist. Could history be repeating itself? It never does, of course. Still, there are similarities too interesting to be discarded without a glance.

¶ Lauds: Carnegie Hall announces its first “recessional” season.
The Kronos Quartet, China, Papa Haydn, Louis Andriessen, and a Polish double bill: the Chopin bicentennial and a Szymanowski festival. Interesting!

¶ Prime: A young man who used to live in Chinatown — I knew him then — has relocated to a great university in the West, where the ghosts of Mmes Child and Fisher have inspired him (apparently) to take up cooking. I shall refer to him as “Deipnosophistos” — the Learned Banqueter — in honor of his new Web log, which demonstrates that classics scholars may indeed know more about leftovers than the rest of us. We’ll call him “Deep” for short.

¶ Tierce: Will Richard Parsons be as good for Citigroup as he was for TimeWarner? Let’s hope so. For starters, he looks like the best possible choice.

¶ Sext: Alexander Chee’s extensive quotation from the Goncourt diaries at Koreanish today makes me resolve to be a better person by remembering who the hell Princesse Mathilde was!

¶ Nones: Inevitable, I suppose: In the wake of the success of Slumdog Millionaire, an organization called Realty Tours & Travel offers 4½ hour, £12 tours of Dharavi, “the biggest slum in Asia,” on the north side of Mumbai. Nigel Richardson reports in the Telegraph.  

¶ Vespers: Yet another story about changes in publishing, this one, augustly, from Time.

¶ Compline: Can you believe it? They’re still arguing about textbook evolution in Texas.


Daily Office: Monday

Monday, January 5th, 2009


¶ Matins: What an upside-down world we are in, when Congressional Democrats bashfully support the Israeli attacks at Gaza but the Times dismisses them as “a dismal coda to the Bush administration’s second-term push for Middle East peace.”

¶ Lauds: Ever since Ghost Town, I’ve been a huge fan of Kristen Wiig. Knocked Up was the movie that ought to have taught me, but her role in that film — as the infamously snarky production assistant — struck me as just another Hollywood bitch. As a colonoscopist, however — well! Regular readers will know why I sat up and paid attention.

¶ Prime: Muscato strikes gold — or perhaps, since he always strikes gold, we ought to call it vermeil — with a collection of TV ads for Konsum, the konsumer emporium of the DDR. Who can resist ein tausend kleine Dinge? Don’t tune out before that starts. It could have been called New York Confidential.

¶ Tierce: How do you spell “Idiocracy”? A-r-p-a-i-o. David Carr writes about the showboating Arizona sheriff who may, one hopes, find his true calling as a reality-show fixture — and put a stop to his travesty of public service.

¶ Sext: The nice thing about the juggling LaSalle Brothers, currently wowing audiences at the Big Apple Circus, is that they give credit where credit is due.

According to Jake, the act is more about genetics than balance. “Juggling is such a difficult discipline to perfect,” he said. “You have to be so precise. There are very few good team juggling acts out there now. I think everyone has an individual internal rhythm.

“There’s a difference in internal rhythms,” he added. “With my brother, we’re exactly on the same page. When I watch other professional teams perform, it seems much more forced. There’s a fluency from our luck in being twins.”

¶ Nones: The post-mortem will be interesting, and resurrection oughtn’t to be ruled out; but Waterford Wedgwood has gone into “administration” — receivership. Among the many causes, there is a sad truth:

Waterford Wedgwood has suffered from falling demand for its high-quality crystal, china and other tableware, and has recorded a loss for the last five years.

¶ Vespers: Just when my bibliotechnical energy was failing, I encountered an encouraging entry at Anecdotal Evidence, where Patrick Kurp shares a poem by David Slavett.

“What will I re-read, or even consult?
Let us admit that, for all their heft on the shelves,
books are flighty, become souvenirs of themselves,
appealing no longer to intellect and taste
but playing to sentiment. Why else keep on hand
Look Homeward, Angel, except in the in the hope that the schoolboy
who turned its pages may show up some afternoon?”

¶ Compline: A proper dinner at our house ends not with dessert but with a reading from Harold McGee’s On Food And Cooking. One or the other of us wants to know why such-and-such a thing happens in the kitchen. Our curiosities — Kathleen’s and mine — have very different motivations. I usually want to know What Went Wrong. Kathleen, in contrast, wants to know How Things Work. These are two sides of the same coin, the flip being whether or not you actually spend any time in the kitchen making meals. Tonight, in a rare congruence, we both wanted to the skinny on how something works: the substance known, very unscientifically, as “cream of tartar.”


Daily Office: Monday

Monday, September 22nd, 2008


¶ Matins: The land of opportunity? Not so much. The Polish community in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is moving out as the gentrifiers move in — back to Poland, though. Kirk Semple reports.

But Poland’s admission to the European Union sharply accelerated that trend, business owners and residents say. They note that the momentum has increased as the dollar has weakened against the Polish zloty, the American economy has faltered and the United States has been more aggressive in enforcing immigration rules. (Similar reverse migrations have occurred recently among other New York immigrant populations whose homeland economies have improved, like Brazil and Ireland.)

¶ Lauds: In “The Art of Darkness,” novelist Jonathan Lethem muses on the mirror that The Dark Knight holds up to the nation.

¶ Prime: Sergey Brin’s new blog, Too, begins with the announcement that he carries the G2019S mutation of gene LRRK2. That’s Genomic for saying that he stands a very high risk of developing Parkinson’s. One can only imagine what it must be like for one of world’s most successful knowledge workers to contemplate the degradation of his brain.

¶ Tierce: Brent Staples writes about “uppity,” “disrespectful” people of color, and how Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (Rep, GA) must have been perfectly well aware of the implications of applying the “U” word to Barack Obama.

¶ Compline: Did you know that Cauliflower Cheese is a British alternative to Macaroni & Cheese? I’m going to give it a try one of these days.


Daily Office: Monday

Monday, September 8th, 2008


¶ Matins: One thing that I thought about all weekend was how much I agreed with Arianna Huffington about Sarah Palin: Democrats must forget that she exists.

¶ Tierce: Even though you probably don’t want to read about mortgages — especially on a Monday morning —the refreshingly cogent Floyd Norris assesses Feddie Fran.

¶ Nones: Cake Wrecks goes meta: readers are creating their own disasters! “We ‘read’ your ‘blog’,” says one, highlighting Jen’s pet peeve, inappropriate quotation marks.  

¶ Vespers: Thanks to JR at Mnémoglyphes, I’ve discovered a new blog, Project Sidewalk. Don’t miss the Procrastination Flowchart (with its chuckling plethora of foreclosed alternatives.