Office/Diary: Thursday


If I had my druther’s, I’d still be in the living room, listening to Mahler’s Third and reading from the Book of Cake, where the story has finally passed the moment at which Lady E accepts the Duke of York. Not that a shred of evidence of romantic feelings on the lady’s part is presented. Although it’s true that any display of a future queen’s falling in love must be smothered by propriety, William Shawcross does nothing to preclude cynical conclusions. One has to remember that no one could have imagined that the groom was the brother of an abdicator. I hope that my attempt at discretion has rendered this paragraph intriguingly opaque.

¶ Matins: Why Paul Volcker wants to restore some form of Glass-Steagall separation between retail and merchant banking. (Over Larry Summers’s dead body, we suspect.) Why Arianna Huffington wants to curb our enthusiasm for “small-bore, high-drama stories” of the “balloon boy” variety.

Probably just “opaque,” though. “Irritatingly opaque,” very likely.

¶ Lauds: Every once in a while, along comes an illustrator who outdoes photography for documentary punch, by incorporating moods that no shutter can capture. Matthew Cook is one such. (via The Best Part)

Quatorze spent the afternoon with me, helping out with this and that on the home improvement front. Nothing could induce me to enumerate our projects (dreamed up by me and executed by him), but drills, safety pins, and twisties were involved. A lot of CDs were pulled down from the tops of shelving, and stacked neatly on the outgoing dining table. For dessert, so to speak, we gathered up three bits of furnishing for which there is no room at the moment and taxied them down to the storage unit.

¶ Prime: An Andrew Ross Sorkin moment (to whet your appetite for (a) his book (b) antacid tablets), presented by Felix Salmon: “We’ve wasted our crisis.” “How on earth did Paulson think this was okay?” Clicking through today’s Counterparties entry: “Need I name the source of the quote?” 

At the storage unit, Quatorze asked if it was true that some of the units were used by prostitutes to turn tricks. Mon Dieu — as if I would know! Like everyone else in the world, I read the article in New York magazine (or somesuch) from a thousand years ago, in which it was alleged that some ladies of the evening keep their frocks in storage, and repair to their units for quick changes between Johns, but it is clear to me that having sex in a storage unit is a stunt — nobody does it (regularly) on a faute de mieux basis. Regular readers will remember that I used to call the storage unit “Westphalia” (“because that’s where detritus are”), but these days I call it the Moribundo Beach Club, because it combines the exiguity of a sand-plagued cabana with the charm of a morgue.

¶ Tierce: Book proposal for Scout: The Castles of Westchester am Rhein. Today: Castle Rock, in Garrison, with, among other things, a rather startlingly comprehensive view of West Point.

The home improvement is having a calming effect overall. I think that it is teaching me that anything really is possible.

¶ Sext: Cant words that (a) British office-workers and (b) Esquire’s editors dislike. When you’re through clucking at malatinisms and nursery-talk, have a gander at print ads that would fail to effectivate today’s markets. (via The Morning News) Department of Phew!: the FTC isn’t after us!

While Quatorze made a template of the top of the bottom half of the breakfront — there really is no top, so we have to have one made to measure — I fiddled with a caladium that I’ve been growing fond of for a couple of months. Although I have had caladiums before, they have never thrived as this plant is thriving, and I never had to tend one, beyond watering it. From time to time, I could say, you have to rope in the new leaves, which require the support of rudimentary treillage.

¶ Nones: Testing a conciliatory, pro-Kurdish law in Turkey, a judge ordered the release of PKK rebels who have not renounced their membership in the separatist organization.

(The last paragraph of this BBC story switched on a lightfbulb in the Editor’s brain: a terrorist is simply a nationalist who is out of power, speaking a language that flag-wavers understand but that cosmopolitans have either renounced or forgotten.)

There was much to learn about gathering the stems behind a cordon of string — two cordons, really. I saw that notching the poles would be a good idea, and it was. By the time I was through, an utterly ill-trained retriever had become a well-mannered Airedale.

¶ Vespers: Alexander Chee mixes up character flaws, Tarot Decks, and a brilliantly concise appreciation of Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings. Exemplary blogging!

He [Tomine’s protagonist, Ben] lacks that famous other creative writing hobgoblin, character consistency, in one way–he is absolutely inconsistent in his views–and yet that ends up being what the book is about: he has no core, except a shame at who he is that destroys all his relationships. THAT is his consistency, that is his ‘flaw’. And what’s more, this gap is precisely what creates the dramatic irony that moves the whole book along.

I asked Quatorze about finding a cachepot for the caladium. The first rule of cachepots is that they are never, ever large enough. To conceal the base of any robust house-plant, you have to grit your teeth and settle for nothing less than a bathtub. Quatorze’s rather depressing suggestion was eBay. I say that only because I find eBay depressing. Quatorze and Kathleen do not; for them, I’ve come to think, eBay is a delicious mix of The Wizard of Oz and Mystery Science Theatre.

¶ Compline: The coolness of this post-industrial transformation (in Vienna, no less) induces word failure. (via The Infrastructurist)

Now I am going to climb into bed with Lorrie Moore’s beautiful book, which is every bit as unreverencingly fresh as the Queen Mother was.