Monday, October 5, 2015


[from the website of Chicago's independent research library, The Newberry]

On Sunday, during an NPR radio segment about interspecies communication with dolphins, the narrator tossed up a y word so sweet, I now must tip-type back into this supposedly defunct blog. Such is life (or SIL, as friends of my youth once said).

Dolphin-y, which I wanted to hear in my mind's eye as dolphinny, was the word.  As in Phineas, or finny.

Dolphins.  Intelligent creatures who swim and click and whirr-squeak.  They queak, or queek (spellers?....).  Asks a dolphin expert, What are they thinking while going about their days and nights; and what do they and their long-term memories recall, resift, replay?

Said expert has long studied dolphins and has, with help from a tech whiz, rigged up a device that hopes to be an interspecies translator and essentially operates as an emitter and receiver of whistles.  What I wonder is how much of a difference it would make to a dolphin for the whistles to be emitted by a human being rather than by a machine.

Train, STOP (festina lente)
 (out of frame and up "the hill," Fort Lewis College )

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Postscript Post, July 2015 — A Why Of the Y

Reader, if you walk parts of Western Colorado in the summertime, you may sight lupin and cairns.

You may also notice, within the vicinity of some gorgeous waterfalls (it's not a particularly good photo, the one below, I admit)

an average, everyday kind of y.  It's at the edge of a paved bi-cycling trail.

So: Mount your bike.

For what is sure to be an exceptionally memorable, mayhap joyful, mayhap grievous and thoroughly horrific adventure in modern journeying, pack something bagelly (appropriately bagelly), if you wish (as you wish), and plenty of Smart Water (btw would somebody pleeze close that super-irritating Cheney loophole already?)

Perhaps strap in a printed book or two for plein air reading.  And take off.

Do scream raucously in the tunnel (Note: It's just outside the frame of the above photograph.)  [ What are tunnels for, anyway? ]

When you dismount, may the lingering commence.

For starters I propose the first lines of novels, and card games, such as Go Fish and gin rummy.

For after the starters, perhaps unsent letters, unheard tapes, and such. You know: blah di blah (Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da?)

And, for after-after, well.  Come on.  As you wish, I'm not going to tell you everything.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Y Word of 2012: Horsy

It's true: horsy has nudged Tripoly to one side and claimed the spotlight.

Sam Sifton now has the dubious honor of being the chaperone of the Y Word of 2012 (as well as the final Y word of the year on this blog, ever). Congratulations to Mr. Sifton and to The New York Times Magazine, which exhibits the right kind of editorial spirit, regardless of whether Mr. Sifton had to fight for the word. I feel I should send him a cut-out y, but fear not: I shan't and I won't.

Instead I'll be setting my sights on other letters, other realities.


48 px specimen from the font Rocky Family, via Webtype



From Under Milk Wood, by Dylan Thomas. This is one of Mr Edwards' lines.

I am a draper mad with love. I love you more than all the flannelette and calico, candlewick, dimity, crash and merino, tussore, cretonne, crépon, muslin, poplin, ticking and twill in the whole Cloth Hall of the world. I have come to take you away to my Emporium on the hill, where the change hums on wires. Throw away your little bedsocks and your Welsh wool knitted jacket, I will warm the sheets like an electric toaster, I will lie by your side like the Sunday roast.

Does anyone -- man, woman, vegetable, or Other -- profess their love so ardently any more?

The OED's etymology tells: "In 15–16th cent. demytdimite, < Italian dimito ‘a kind of coarse cotton or flanell’ (Florio 1598), ‘a kind of course linzie-wolzie’ (Florio 1611) = medieval Latin dimitum (12th cent. in Du Cange), < Greek δίμιτος of double thread, n. dimity, < δι-δίς twice + μίτος thread of the warp. It is not certain how the final -y arose: could it represent Italian plural dimiti? Compare the plural in Du Cange's quot.: ‘amita, dimitaque, et trimita’, explained to mean fabrics woven with one, two, or three threads respectively. The relation to these of the Persian word dimyāṭī, explained as ‘a kind of cotton cloth, dimity’, which has the form of a derivative of Dimyāṭ, Damietta, is not clear."

Mr. Thomas was right to include dimity in Mr Edwards' list, seeing as it is a double thread.


If you are giving some thought to what Governor Cuomo is poised to loose upon New York State this winter, also please consider what you will do (send cookies, cakes, flowers, massage certificates, musicians) for the Governor if he draws upon the precautionary principle, shows a little backbone and waves bye-bye to this reckless, irresponsible industry. (Please don't fall for the specious suggestion that it's prudent to bring high-volume slick-water horizontal hydraulic fracturing* to but a handful counties in the state.)

From Sandra Steingraber's article (in 50 parts), "The Fracking of Rachel Carson," published in the September/October issue of Orion magazine.

12. Within the rumply state of Pennsylvania is a place called Triple Divide, where three adjacent springs feed the watersheds of three mighty rivers: the Allegheny (which flows west to the Mississippi River); the Susquehanna (which flows east to Chesapeake Bay); and the Genesee (which flows north to Lake Ontario).  . . . 

14. . . . only some of the frack water stays behind in the shale. The rest, now mixed with brine and radioactivity, shoots up to the surface with the gas. Finding a safe place to dispose of this toxic flowback is an unsolved problem. Sometimes, the waste from drilling is just dumped on the ground. That’s illegal, but it happens. Sometimes the waste is dumped down other holes. In 2010, 200,000 gallons were poured down an abandoned well on the edge of Allegheny National Forest. . . . 

26. April 2012 was a silent spring in Pennsylvania. Funds for a statewide heath registry—which would track illnesses in residents who live near drilling and fracking operations—were quietly removed from the state budget. At the same time, a new state law, Act 13, went into effect, which allows a physician in Pennsylvania access to proprietary chemical information for purposes of treating a possibly exposed patient—but only if he or she signs a confidentiality agreement. Confounded, Pennsylvania doctors began asking questions. Does that mean no contacting the public health department? What about talking to reporters or writing up case studies for the New England Journal of Medicine? Can a physician who signs the nondisclosure agreement (in order to treat a patient) and then issues an alert to the community at large (in order to fulfill an ethical obligation to prevent harm) be sued for breach of contract? . . . .

41. No comprehensive study on the human or animal health impacts of fracking has ever been conducted. . . . In cattle exposed to fracking fluid: stillborn calves, cleft palates, milk contamination, death.

42. In cats and dogs: seizures, stillbirths, fur loss, vomiting.

43. In humans: headaches, rashes, nosebleeds, vomiting.

46. In May 2012, Stephen Cleghorn, a farmer, scattered the ashes of his wife, Lucinda—who died of lung cancer—on their farm in Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, which is in Jefferson County. The ceremony was unusual. It included a press conference, during which Cleghorn announced that, with this deposition of ash, he was hereby consecrating his land and declaring it off-limits to fracking in perpetuity. . . . 

What I keep writing to Governor Cuomo is that is it better to deal with problems before they arise.

via Thalo 

*note to The New York Times: it would be better if the paper would call "fracking" by its full name.  

Friday, December 28, 2012

Finalists of 2012

Reader, the finalists of 2012 are:




Clerkly was a close contender, but clerkly looks better to me with a lowercase c than an uppercase one. It's best if the word is appealing regardless of an initial capital letter.

What do the two finalists have going for them? Horsy is a prime example of the elasticity and suggestiveness of language. Tripoly includes the word poly (as in roly-poly) and has the good fortune of being embedded in a single sentence the character count of which, including spaces, is 889. A sentence of this length is as pretty as the Empire State Building lit in Steinbergian orange.

public garden, Paris circa 1930
Copyright © AFP / Harlingue / Collection Roger-Viollet
via Catwalk Yourself

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


From "Recollections of a Lost Seascape," a 1947 story in Back in No Time: The Brion Gysin Reader, edited by Jason Weiss and published by Wesleyan University Press. The story begins by describing the island of Herm and goes on to say:

The owner of the island is, therefore, a feudatory of the duke and owes him at least nominal allegiance.

Just do not come across this word much, if at all.

I happened onto this book in the library. Stack-browsing usually brings on some kind of serendipity, doesn't it? Especially when one is searching for one book and finds another, more appropriate, one for the occasion of that particular day.

A Paul Metcalf collection was my intended. Then there was a volume criticizing Gertrude Stein (which I almost took, having seen Rachel Dickstein's newest play, The World is Round, in workshop last weekend at the JCC). And then I spotted a man's face on the spine of a book and took it down from the shelf. Who is Brion Gysin? Who was Brion Gysin? I had never heard of Brion Gysin (and probably because he brought to mind Weldon Kees and Jim Salter--really for no good reason), I wanted to know more.

He was a Canadian-born word player who learned to speak seven languages and traversed various artistic disciplines, from painting to collages, sound poetry (poésie sonore), and screenwriting (he wrote an unproduced screenplay based upon William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch.)

Okay, he was also Burroughs' partner.

The book includes his Permutation Poems, which he discovered "upon seeing in print the Divine Tautology, 'I am that I am,' while reading Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception . . . [recalling to Jason Weiss in an interview] 'I saw the phrase on paper and I thought, "Ah, it looks a bit like the front of a Greek temple," only on the condition that I put the biggest word in the middle. So, I'll just change these others around, "am I," in the corner of the architrave. Then I realized, as soon as I did this, it asked a question. "I am that, am I?" And I said, "Wow, I've touched the oracle!' The full version of the poem I Am That I Am "as put through a computer by mathematician Ian Sommerville, was performed for BBC Radio in 1960, along with a "poem" assembled from a pistol shot recorded at five distances and layered variously. Philip Glass was one composer who was influenced by Gysin's sound poetry.

I just finished Jess Walter's novel Beautiful Ruins (edited by Cal Morgan and published by HarperCollins) (and which made me miss my subway stop last night), it's time to leave Walter's Porto Vergogna and move on to the next book.