Posts Tagged ‘humor’
From Word Journal, “a journal of interesting and infrequently encountered words.”
* Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
As we luxuriate in language, we might recall that it was on this date in 1984 that noted slinger of mots Prince Charles threw a wrench into plans to build an addition onto England’s National Gallery. The museum had held a competition for designs, and tentatively settled on plans drawn by Ahrends, Burton and Koralek (with elements from the high-tech scheme of Richard Rogers). The Prince, on reviewing the drawings, pronounced them a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.” His pronouncement sparked spirited dialogue, both on the proper role of the Royal Family and on the state of modern architecture. Indeed, “monstrous carbuncle” has become a common descriptor for a modern building that clashes with its surroundings.
The ABK plans were withdrawn, and the Gallery went back to the drawing board. In 1991 they opened The Sainsbury Wing, designed by the architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.
“Well, I hate to break it to you, but there is no big lie. There is no system. The universe is indifferent”*…
Did you ever notice that almost every Mad Men episode ends with Don Draper staring blankly?
On the occasion of tomorrow’s series finale, the exquisite Tumbler, “Don Draper Staring Blankly.”
* Don Draper
As we get in touch with our motivations, we might recall that it was on this date in 1988, 24 years after the first Surgeon General’s report enumerating the dangers of smoking, that then-SG C. Everett Koop, delivered the second installment: a report that declared nicotine to be addictive in ways similar to heroin and cocaine.
* Jonathan Lethem
As we shed pump up the PoMo, we might recall that it was on this date in 1928 that Mickey Mouse made his debut. Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks tested their new character in a silent black-and-white animated short called “Plane Crazy,” loosely based on Lindbergh’s trans-Atlantic flight and the furor it occasioned. On that day, the cartoon was screened for distributors… all of whom passed. Later that year, Disney released Mickey’s first sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie– which was, of course, an enormous success. Following two more Mickey vehicles (The Gallopin’ Gaucho, and The Barn Dance), Plane Crazy was tracked and released as a sound cartoon on March 17, 1929.
Just because you CAN design your own book cover doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
* Charles Dickens
As remind ourselves of Groucho Marx’s insight: “outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend; inside of a dog it’s too dark to read,” we might recall that this is a big date in the annals of English letters… It was on this date in 1842, that Alfred, Lord Tennyson, published Poems. While the future Poet Laureate had been writing for a decade, it was this two-volume release (which included “Ulysses” and Morte d’Arthur”) that made his name.
And on this date in 1925, Virginia Woolf published the story of a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway– one of Time‘s “100 Best Novels since 1923″ (2005).
SmartyPans: frying an egg has never been more needlessly complicated!
From the wonderful Tumblr, We Put A Chip In It–“It was just a dumb thing. Then we put a chip in it. Now it’s a smart thing.”
* Douglas Adams
As we call the electrician to add more outlets, we might send inventive birthday greetings to Oscar Hammerstein; he was born on this date in 1847. In 1883, Oscar Hammerstein patented the cigar-rolling machine… and began to amass a fortune that he promptly reinvested in theaters and concert halls, becoming one of Americas first great impressarios… a fact worth honoring, as history tends to overlook Oscar the First in favor of his grandson, Oscar Hammerstein II, the librettist/lyricist and partner of Richard Rodgers.
Recently some folks at the New York Public Library discovered a box containing old reference questions from the 1940s to the 1980s. They’re posting the questions to their Instagram account each Monday, noting that “we were Google before Google existed.” Some of the examples include answers; others are… well, probably unanswerable– but all are a reminder of the extraordinary value of the Library and its reference librarians.
People still use an updated version of the service, Ask NYPL; the Library reports that they receive about 1,700 reference questions a month via chat, email, and phone.
Read more at “Before Google, Here’s What New Yorkers Asked The NYPL.”
* Neil Gaiman
As we keep it down, we might send bibliographic birthday greetings to Archibald MacLeish; he was born on this date in 1892. A Pulitzer Prize-winning poet (Conquistador) and dramatist (JB), MacLeish became “America’s Reference Librarian”– the Librarian of Congress– in 1939.
* Oscar Wilde
As we emend Maslow, we might recall that it was on this date in 1432 that Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, (better known as the Ghent Altarpiece) was dedicated in the Church of Saint John, Ghent (now the Cathedral of Saint Bavo). Begun by Hubert van Eyck, and completed (after Hubert’s death in 1426) by his more famous brother Jan, the work is regarded as the defining monument of the “new realism” of Northern Renaissance art.