Saturday, December 31, 2011

Y Word(s) of 2011: Minatory and Sodality

Aloha, readers. I couldn't choose only one word this year. Both minatory and sodality are beautiful-handsome. Trying to choose drove me to distraction, so I gave up.

And then (once I had decided) I remembered an article written about 15 years ago, possibly in Boston, about the New York Times wedding pages. The article said that the featured couples usually had one person who was the predatory sort and one who was the peace, love, and happiness sort--something like that.

Minatory and sodality?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Clinkery

From a photo caption in the section "Around Kilauea" in Hawaii the Big Island Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook, 5th Edition, by Andrew Doughty:

'A'a lava on the left (named by the first Hawaiian to walk on it barefooted) is rough and clinkery.

The 'a'a lava in the photo looks like a cascade of giant Grape Nuts, overly roasted and somewhat charred, and of various sizes. Up close the formation is highly porous and sure to cut your feet. Clinkery makes the lava sound downright friendly. One might think, "Rolling chunks of this lava make a pleasant clinking sound."

The OED includes clinkery as one of its Obs. rare words; it means "Contracted or shrivelled with heat or cold." One 1398 spelling has the word as klynkery.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Y Finalists for 2011

I will miss pyththy, which seems destined only for a cameo.

Still in play:

Minatory
Sodality

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bey

From Waguih Ghali's novel Beer in the Snooker Club:

The servants in the club have seen us grow up and call us by our Christian names, adding such honorific titles as 'Bey' and 'Pasha'.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Y semi-finalists for 2011

Readers, I realize you're on the edge of your seats.

A newcomer has joined.

The semi-finalists are:

Dancetty
Minatory
Pyththy
Sodality

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jealouſy

From Hercules. A Musical Drama. As performed at Oxford. Set by Mr. Handel. "At the Theatre Thursday July 5th 1774":


Something about jealousy as jealouſy with the long s brings to mind (tonight) poufy things--Reddi wip on red JELL-O, festoons, ottomans--and soft-shoe comedy in the spirit of "The Way You Look Tonight."

Of course jealoufy would be even poufier.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sodality

From Ian McEwan's tribute "Christopher Hitchens, Consummate Writer," in a December 16, 2011 issue (but not my paper one) of The New York Times.

It was the smile of recognition, or one that anticipates in late afternoon an “evening of shame:” — that is to say, pleasure, or, one of his favorite terms, “sodality.”

It seems like an Emily Dickinson sort of word, too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Y Quarterfinalists for 2011

It's that time again. And although there's still time for a newcomer to break into this group, the finalists are:

Dancetty
Minatory
Orfly
Presnelty
Py
Pyththy
Wuffly

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gracy

Not Gracie.

It looks a bit odd.

From the interactive map accompanying Sam Roberts' March 20, 2011, New York Times article, "No Hero in 1811, Street Grid’s Father Was Showered With Produce, Not Praise."

I suppose some of John Randel's hand-drawn and colored maps are now on view at the just-opened Master Plan of Manhattan exhibit at The Museum of the City of New York.

The Times' interactive map is fun to play with. It allows the user to fade in and out of Randel's 1811 map of the proposed street grid and the grid as it now stands. Carl Schurz Park seems to be the latest layer to re-place the Gracy piece, the Gracy place.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Breakfasty

From the menu of a Park Slope restaurant whose name I didn't write down. I think it's across the street from Mura, on 5th Avenue.

Possibly I didn't write it down because the wholesome goodness of it was so uninspiring. I can't recall if the heading was Breakfasty Items or what, but it was too cutesy, too stereotypically gingham and baskets with bows.

I stood there for a moment, editorially, thinking, Why not just breakfast? Breakfast is good. Breakfast is already two words (or three, depending on how you view it)--why add on this curlicue?

Breakfasty. The image was a piece of cotton cloth twisted to the choking point. Unappetizing! The opposite of Gino's menu charms (written about, if I remember correctly, in these posts).

I wonder how a translator would render breakfasty in French or Italian.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Affy

Towards the end of the Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra's performance at Poets House on Monday, conductor Fagin suggested guests stop to take a walk around the Emily Dickinson exhibit.

From the closing of Letter 146, Emily Dickinson to Emily Fowler Ford, (December 21?) 1853:

Affy, Emily —

Isn't it curious that Emily Dickinson signed off with this kind of abbreviation? The terminal ys do draw attention to themselves, almost as a couple. The Dickinson dash—well: there it is.

Seeing the letters reminded me that I missed visiting the re-created Dickinson garden at the botanic garden.

The other day, I watched a video of a young Joni Mitchell singing "Urge for Going." I wonder how much Dickinson she read in her early years.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Custardy

I take part in the Writhing Society's meetings. This week we did exercises using state and country abbreviations. Angelo Pastormerlo came up with a "cuppiece" for Cuba that included the word CUstardy. I liked custardy and said so. It called to mind Picardy and (distantly) Anna Madrigal's address in San Francisco.

Tom La Farge said,

Joint custardy,

and this was delightful.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ansulary

Another Obs. rare from the OED meaning "Of or pertaining to handles, handle-like."

1664 H. Power Exper. Philos. Pref. sig. A4v, The secondary Planets of Saturn and Jupiter and his Ansulary appearances.


This is my excuse to post one of the nicer illustrations from the Huygens book (of the previous post). I kind of love it, and wonder if its real-life form/real life form is superior to the digital one. Very possibly not.


Before his Systema Saturnium, Huygens wrote De Saturni luna observatio nova (New observation of a moon of Saturn), published in 1656, which formally announced his discovery of Saturn's moon and casually announced his theory about Saturn's ring--and welcomed others to offer theirs. Not wanting to give it away just yet, he set down the theory in the form of a letter list:

a a a a a a a c c c c c d e e e e e h i i i i i i i l l l l m m n n n n n n n n n o o o o p p q r r s t t t t t u u u u u.

Annulo cingitur, tenui, plano, nusquam cohaerente, ad eclipticam inclinato (It is surrounded by a thin flat ring, nowhere touching, and inclined to the ecliptic).

According to the 1999 notes of Ronald Brashear, then "Curator of Science and Technology Rare Books in the Special Collections Department at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries" (and now at the Othmer Library), Systema Saturnium was printed in modern times (after more than a half-century) in 1925, "when it was published in volume 15 of Oeuvres complètes de Christiaan Huygens, a 22-volume set published over a sixty-year period by the Society of Sciences of Holland. The 1925 printing contained a French translation side-by-side with the original Latin text."

That would be interesting to see, the side-by-side translation.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Burndy

Imagine if we had Ancarn Steel, the Ancarn Free Libraries, Ancarn Hall.

Bern Dibner was an electrical engineer who, among other things, collected books on the history of science.

From a pretty book plate in Christiaan Huygens's The System of Saturn, or On the matter of Saturn's remarkable appearance, and its satellite, the new planet (Systema Saturnium, sive de causis mirandorum Saturni phaenomenon, et comite ejus planeta novom, 1659), via the World Digital Library:








I wonder what kind of shape the book is in after being scanned.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gynocracy

From the "Out of Town" episode of Mad Men, spoken by the character John Hooker just after he looks at Bert Cooper's ant farm.

This place is a gynocracy.

I don't pass this word too often. Maybe it's more common in academic journals. The OED has an 1864 citation. That's the most recent one.

Great find by the writers.

"Out of Town" takes place in March of 1963. I watched the episode not long after two little girls rang my doorbell. One was dressed up as Snow White, the other as Wonder Woman. If they had arrived at the same time as the sweet hound dog (not the rude M&M), I feel they might have made a jolly group.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Autexousy

I thought after struggling through the Thursday crossword with a friend last week that I would find an entire entry for aut in the OED. What I found was an Obs. rare word for free will.

In Greek it's τὸ ἐϕ' ἡμῖν.



Odilon Redon
Red Boat with a Blue Sail
1906-07




Arthur Hacker
Matinee afternoon,
Picadilly Circus (study)

1911





Beijing 2010

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Minatory

Not from the song "Homage to Marat," belted out last night at St. Ann's Warehouse by Justin Vivian Bond, who warmed up for The Tiger Lilies, an ensemble of impeccable performers:

Fighting all the gentry and fighting every priest,
Businessman, the bourgeois, the military beast


I heard minatory, not military--though the passing visual image was that of a labyrinth. How pretty, I thought. Minatory really is a very pretty word.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Grzny

From The 50 Funniest American Writers: An Anthology of Humor from Mark Twain to the Onion, edited by Andy Borowitz. By the way, a good number of the humorists in the book are dead. What does that say about American humor--or about this book?

And does The Onion qualify as a humorist? I wanted to know who wrote this article for the paper several years ago (and if they're now writing for the Onion News Network).

Clinton Deploys Vowels to Bosnia
Cities of Sjlbvdnzv, Grzny to Be First Recipients

Before an emergency joint session of Congress yesterday, President Clinton announced U.S. plans to deploy over 75,000 vowels to the war-torn region of Bosnia. The deployment, the largest of its kind in American history, will provide the region with the critically needed letters A, E, I, O and U, and is hoped to render countless Bosnian names more pronounceable.

"For six years, we have stood by while names like Ygrjvslhv and Tzlynhr and Glrm have been horribly butchered by millions around the world," Clinton said. "Today, the United States must finally stand up and say, 'Enough.' It is time the people of Bosnia finally had some vowels in their incomprehensible words. The U.S. is proud to lead the crusade in this noble endeavor."

The deployment, dubbed Operation Vowel Storm by the State Department, is set for early next week, with the Adriatic port cities of Sjlbvdnzv and Grzny slated to be the first recipients. Two C-130 transport planes, each carrying over 500 24-count boxes of "E's," will fly from Andrews Air Force base across the Atlantic and airdrop the letters over the cities.

Citizens of Grzny and Sjlbvdnzv eagerly await the arrival of the vowels.

"My God, I do not think we can last another day, Trszg Grzdnjlkn, 44, said. "I have six children and none of them has a name that is understandable to me or anyone else. Mr. Clinton, please send my poor, wretched family just one 'E.' Please."

Said Sjlbvdnzv resident Grg Hmphrs, 67: "With just a few key letters, I could be George Humphries. That is my dream."

If the initial airlift is successful, Clinton said the United States will go ahead with full-scale vowel deployment, with C-130s airdropping thousands more letters over every area of Bosnia. Other nations are expected to pitch in as well, including 10,000 British "A's" and 6,500 Canadian "U's." Japan, rich in A's and O's, was asked to participate in the relief effort, but declined.

"With these valuable letters, the people of war-ravaged Bosnia will be able to make some terrific new words," Clinton said. "It should be very exciting for them, and surely much easier for us to read their maps."

Linguists praise the U.S.'s decision to send the vowels. For decades they have struggled with the hard consonants and difficult pronunciation of most Slavic words.

"Vowels are crucial to the construction of all language," Baylor University linguist Noam Frankel said. "Without them, it would be difficult to utter a single word, much less organize a coherent sentence. Please, don't get me started on the moon-man language they use in those Eastern European countries."

According to Frankel, once the Bosnians have vowels, they will be able to construct such valuable sentences as: "The potatoes are ready"; "I believe it will rain"; and "All my children are dead from the war."

The American airdrop represents the largest deployment of any letter to a foreign country since 1984. During the summer of that year, the U.S. shipped 92,000 consonants to Ethiopia, providing cities like Ouaououa, Eaoiiuae and Aao with vital, life-giving supplies of L's S's and T's. The consonant-relief effort failed, however, when vast quantities of the letters were intercepted and horded by violent, gun-toting warlords.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shrimpy

From the menu at Yama, where I'd never wanted to wait. Tonight I arrived during a 10-minute lull and actually entered--and then ate dinner. (Walking Irving Place and peeking into Gramercy Park--the "Gramercy Park Litmus Test" hovered a little--qualified as dessert).

I believe one of tonight's specials is

Crispy Shrimpy

.

There must be a word for when words have matching endings. Certainly the vowel corridor helps with the affinity between these two here.

Closing the menu, I remembered the time a woman on the subway platform asked me if the train went to Yankee Station. Also David Henry Hwang's new play Chinglish came to mind. (According to The Economic Times, M. Butterfly is "essentially banned" in China.)

What if it shrimpy were spelled schrimpy?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Orfly

Pleasantly connected to Orphic and Orpheus and seal sounds that actually don't exist, this is from the first page of the comic supplement of The Chicago Tribune of September 16, 1906, exhibited at the Whitney Museum as part of its Lyonel Feininger exhibit. The text of the first panel reads:

This is the way Willie Winkie told it to me: You see, Unkie Fein- / inger, de ole sun was hot and tired, an orfly fretty, and wanted so bad to / have his face washed with a cool sponge and be put to bed, ‘cause he’d got / up early and been shining so hard all day long.

The sun is a bald, baby-old man face of an orb hung in a yellow sky.

As described in Feininger's online biography published by Ohio State University's Cartoon Library & Museum, Wee Willie Winkie’s World was the second strip Feininger wrote for the Tribune. Named after the nursery rhyme character,* "Wee Willie Winkie’s World first appeared . . . in August 19, 1906. The concept of Wee Willie Winkie’s World was similar to Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland. The comic centered on a wandering boy who brings elements in nature to life through his imagination. This strip was also short-lived, with its last appearance on January 20, 1907."




This is Carnival in Gelmeroda II, a 1909 work.

I liked paintings like this the most, something about Feininger's colors.




This is Edge of the Wood, Lobbe 1907.

Wasn't at the Whitney.







Neither was this,
The Proposal
1906.





Or this.

Steam Train 1908.







Feininger spent time in Paris from 1906 to 1908.


Is this a self-portrait?

I was interested to see that Feininger had composed music. Amazingly, three of his organ fugues are going to be played at Carnegie Hall this coming Friday by Leon Botstein's American Symphony Orchestra. It's too bad the Whitney provided so little space for Feininger's musical work. Part of what makes the artist so interesting was his capacity for working in so many mediums.

On a completely different note, I just want to say that although the name Lyonel is winning, the name Léonell (which was his at birth) is as good. I wonder when he began to live as Lyonel.


[Feininger images via the Splog of Michael Sporn Animation, Inc.]

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bol'shoy

I'm so accustomed to seeing Bolshoi that it was a nice change to see it this way.

From a wonderful book about choral repertoire, the section on Rachmaninoff:

In the meantime, he continued to conduct, leading the Bol'shoy Theater between 1904 and 1906 and touring the United States in 1909.

Interestingly the author didn't go with Bol'shoy Teatr.

Sometime I'd like to hear the children's poems Rachmaninoff set to music, Six Choruses for Women's of Children's Voices with piano accompaniment, Op. 15. According to the book, they include poems about "a lonely pine tree that dreams of a far-off kingdom" and "a caged nightingale that does not sing until released." I wonder how often they're performed in Russia.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Smothery

From Chapter XVIII of Huck Finn:

Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't.

I just noticed the mother in the center of the word. Wonder if Mark Twain saw it.

I was in my 20s when I read this book with a boy I was tutoring at the Prep for Prep program. Tonight I found a paper he wrote for me, in the book. I was not a Mickey Mouse tutor. Inside the book's back flap is a list of vocabulary words I looked up in the OED, and on the last page is the phone number for a man named Luke.

I had an enormous, speechless crush on Luke, and could never bring myself to admit it to anybody, not even to the mutual friends who introduced us.

We didn't have much to talk about. He knew about horses and I didn't. I knew about books and he didn't. When, for a chaste five minutes, we entered some horrible, grotty apartment on the Upper East Side--I recall it as dark, narrow, bachelor-bare, and non-furnished--the space between us widened. I could not begin to imagine how he could live in such blah circumstances. He was full of life. His apartment was about as interesting as a pocket protector. At the time, such things mattered to me.

We wouldn't make it through many more non-conversations together.

I couldn't have much of a conversation with my student, either. One day he asked me what reading Huck Finn had to do with his getting a job when he grew up, and I didn't really have an answer for him. I myself had never asked the question.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Synastry

When seeking a rhyme for ministry.

1855 C. Kingsley Westward Ho! xv, That these strange attachments were due to a synastria, or sympathy of the stars, which ruled the destinies of each person.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

DSNY

From a comment posted by one Mitchel Cohen, of Brooklyn Greens/Green Party, on the Times website, in response to Rebecca White's City Room article "Gathering on Upper East Side to Oppose Garbage Station," either posted or printed on June 11, 2011:

When I and other brought this up more than six years ago during the initial City Council hearings on the siting of the new round of Marine Transfer Stations -- not only the one abutting Asphalt Green but also one near where I live in Southwest Brooklyn on the very same site as the old unlicensed municipal incinerator that poisoned our neighborhood -- Gravesend, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst and Coney Island) -- for decades until we finally organized and succeeded in closing it down in the 1990s, Doherty, the Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation (calling itself DSNY), mickey moused us and said nothing.

Yes, everybody has riffed on DKNY. It's still amusing when it's the Sanitation Department.

Mr. Cohen goes on to say that "The City needs to be united around a viable holistic approach to garbage."

I don't know if the city does holistic approaches, period--does it? Artists who work on trash-awareness issues understand something basic about the process of processes. Most city officials do not, I'm guessing. Even if DSNY would like to take a holistic approach to trash, could it? Considering the number of people here.

San Francisco (at least, under Gavin Newsom, who might give Rodel Fellow Jessica Lappin his opinion on whether it's possible to do for health care in NYC the kind of thing he accomplished in San Francisco) can do holistic--its residents actually compost--but San Francisco is not quite as populous as New York City. And it's not a city on the Eastern Seaboard, which (as anybody who lives on this coast knows) has its own entrenched codes.

Whether or not the city can one day embrace holistic anything, process-oriented anything, the people in the East 90s are now stuck wondering why the city embraced Asphalt Green and then eventually opened two new schools (East Side Middle School/M.S. 114 and Yorkville Community School/P.S. 151) while planning to reopen a long-closed garbage depot, albeit one whose trucks will now queue inside instead of outside.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Danuby

In the organ loft at St. Ignatius Loyola this evening, at an informal talk about and a first performance (by the wonderful Renée Louprette) of composer David Briggs' Diptyque — Mannahatta 1611–2011, Mr. Briggs, responding to a question I had about what had "entranced" him so much about Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City that he was sufficiently inspired to compose a 20-minute organ piece commissioned by Ms. Louprette, referred to a line from John Donne, saying, "Change is the nursery of music."

Mr. Briggs is inspired, he said, by the very fact of change, and, apparently, by the way (the book) Mannahatta presented it.

He also said the book's authors know nothing of his composition, including its grand premiere on Wednesday night.

I was drawn to the book, which I don't even possess, because one of my favorite subways games when I lived in Brooklyn many years ago and took the Q train was to imagine the island as an island. A million New Yorkers must do this. Every now and then I do it when I'm biking back over the George Washington Bridge, look downstream and think of the Hudson with no bridge spanning it and no buildings along its banks.

Who knows what originally led Mr. Briggs to the book. He is a transplanted Brit who (among other things) directed music at Gloucester Cathedral for eight years before moving to New York City, which he left for Massachusetts.

His poetry citation sent me to Google Books, which had the line, and then to my old Norton Anthology, which didn't have it. The line, from the elegy "Change," is "change is the nursery/Of music, joy, life, and eternity."

Above the line, however, is this funny appearance of the Danube:

Though Danuby into the sea must flow,
The sea receives the Rhine, Volga, and Po
.

No doubt there's a good reason why Donne did this.

Meanwhile there's no Donne in Mr. Briggs' composition—but there is a line from West Side Story. It comes out of the soundscape (with its fog horns and skyscraping file cabinets and parades and honking) in all its Leonard Bernstein-ness.

I had no idea what I'd hear in the organ loft tonight but it's safe to say that "I Have a Love" was nowhere in orbit.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Batty

From the tote bag of a woman who'd attended the Bay Area Tarot Symposium, or SF Bats (billed, according to somewhat-of-a-sponsor Daughters of Divination, as "the oldest continuously produced Tarot event in the world"):

just a little batty

It may have said "just a little bit batty," but I didn't copy it down. We were pulling into Grand Central. I was ready to de-train.

Batty is an amiable word. Picture Audrey Hepburn attempting to sit down to cocoa and singing marshmallows with the singer Mark Volman.

Apparently it took on its meaning of "dotty" and "eccentric" just before the 20th century put down deep roots; I wonder how that happened. The OED didn't clue me in much, not that it's supposed to. One of its citations includes this from Ambrose Bierce, 1907: He was especially charmed with the phrase ‘bats in his belfry’, and would indubitably substitute it for ‘possessed of a devil’, the Scriptural diagnosis of insanity.

Has anybody hypothesized whether batty is one of many words and expressions that represent a shift from religiously charged language?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wuzzy

From the mouth of Norton Juster at the Brooklyn Book Festival this past Sunday.

I didn't take down the exact sentence.

Mr. Juster and Jules Feiffer were sitting along with Leonard Marcus at a table in front of a shockingly small (small considering the perfection of The Phantom Tollbooth) audience telling stories about their collaboration on the book.

One story concerned a prank Mr. Juster pulled on Mr. Feiffer at the Overseas Press Club. He had had a lot to drink that evening, and he said that (somewhere along the way) he had been feeling wuzzy.

I thought, "Wuzzy? . . . Woozy?" But he really did mean wuzzy, which the OED defines as "confused, fuddled, vague."

Some time-minded people--possibly from the Knopf publicity department--did a grand disservice to everybody who stood on line to have their books signed. The author and illustrator signed only their names. No Brooklyn. No New York. No date. Said one publicist: We have to move things along.

If the line had been longer--the audience did not even fill all 300 seats in the auditorium--I could see the publicist's point. But if The Phantom Tollbooth is, let's say, my idea of a True Book, and I am genuinely excited about having my book signed, and I go out to Brooklyn to stand on line for tickets and then stand on line for a good seat, and enjoy watching Jules Feiffer heckle a little boy who's giving him a hard time about the number of horses and the number of riders, and enjoy listening to the cadences of two very old friends, I don't see how moving things along will leave me with a happy memory when the day is over. In fact, once I got home I was a little sorry my book was signed at all. Which is too bad when you think about it.

I wonder what Jason Epstein (both the man c. 1961 and today) would say on this subject. I say (in this case) sign completely or don't sign at all.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wuffly

Perhaps my favorite y word from Nicholson Baker's delightful and adorable new novel House of Holes:

"Ah, old Chuzzlewit," Cardell said in a wuffly English accent.

Baker also uses the word whuffled:

"Mgonna come, mgonna come," he whuffled.

I asked him about these, via email, viz.,

EM: Did you know the meaning of the word wuffler or whuffle before turning in the manuscript?

NB: No, I just winged it. Wanged it?

EM: What can you tell me about the use of wuffly? Did Dickens or his era figure in somehow?

NB: I think I was going for the wuffly mustache effect. The Hollywood version of the British Empire subaltern. Could be the "h" should be in there.

EM: Could you say a little more about the wuffly mustache effect? Is everybody supposed to know what this is?

NB: Wuffly Rudyard Kiplingesque walrus mustache.

Lest you think that Baker does not attend closely enough to his y words, consider this portion of our exchange:

EM: On page 228, Dune sticks his pinky into Shandee's pussy. How did you choose pinky over the common pinkie?

NB: I've never gone for "pinkie"--too much of the Sunday afternoon lifting of the teacup, too much Hostess Twinkie. When the copyeditor corrected it I changed it back. Same with "hanky," as I remember.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wakey-Uppy

Heard today at brunch, from the mouth of a family member:

" . . . wakey-uppy pills."

Apparently there is a prescription drug called Provigil, which is "used to improve wakefulness in adults who experience excessive sleepiness (ES) due to one of the following diagnosed sleep disorders: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), shift work sleep disorder, also known as shift work disorder, or narcolepsy."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Protensity

From "A Perfectly Unique Moment," by Nathan Heller, posted Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, at 11:57 AM ET in Slate:

The Mezzanine is a slim book of Proust-like protensity, describing its narrator's return to his office one afternoon through the kaleidoscope of his wandering thoughts.

I don't come across this word very often.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Smoothy

From Anthony Lane's review of "One Day," in the August 29, 2011, issue of The New Yorker:

They have just graduated from the University of Edinburgh; he is the high-born smoothy, dripping with confidence, and she is the scholarly mouse, as indicated by her large round spectacles.

The word applies just a sprinkle, a dusting, of disdain to the man described. Had Mr Lane/his editors rendered the character a smoothie, it's likely too many readers would associate him with the fruit shake, which, of course, would be the wrong connotation.


Below, all wrong.



[photo: Cassie of the blog Veda House, a February posting.]

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Piggy

Not from Lord of the Flies.

From the website of Jason Shelowitz, which features his Subway Etiquette signs. For contemplation while living through this, New York City's historic pocket of no-subway time:

Don't be a piggy.

Discovered while passing through the site of Jeremiah, possibly still hunkered down in the East Village (as opposed to another location).

Better than "Don't Be a Litterer."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blabbity

I'm not in Brooklyn enough to hear whether "blabbity blah" is a common expression.

From the mouth of Brooklyn resident Alex Basek, as quoted in the July 26 New York Observer article "A Twee Grows in Brooklyn":

“There’s Glass Shop, a fancy coffee spot, like single roaster blabbity blah, all the way on Classon Avenue."

It certainly doesn't make me think of Babbitty or even blabber. Possibly blubber. And maybe the verb blab.

Winningly, it has summoned from the depths of memory a phrase I once liked very much, viz., "blather blather."

Blabbity blah has more kick.

Mostly it makes me think about how seldom I hear people say this. Could be that the emphases work out well, though--a little like dickory dock. Blabbity wouldn't be the same if it were flying solo.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Amoy

Tonight I was watching the CUNY TV channel. The Aspen Ideas Festival gave way to jellyfish and oceanographers, then Shanghai (city of ever-widening streets, though not on that program).

Who are CUNY's trustees these days?

One of them, Judah Gribetz, graduated (so says the website; I'd feel better if a New Yorker checker could verify) in 1946 from Boys High School of Brooklyn, of all local places. Were I to pass Mr. Gribetz at a philanthropic world, I would be tempted to ask him why Mount Sinai Medical Center (he's a trustee there, too) must erect so tall a building, it will throw a shadow across Central Park (check with Civitas about this.)

Back to the y path.

There is also a CUNY trustee named Wellington Z. Chen, whose bio states:

He is conversant in several languages, including Chinese (Amoy, Cantonese, Mandarin), and Brazilian-Portuguese. [My italics.]

All those children out there learning Chinese have likely heard of Amoy; I had not. Do they watch Amoy dialect films made in Hong Kong in the 1950s?

Meanwhile, in September, CUNY TV (which has quite a few arts shows) will be airing episodes of "Bouillon de Culture."









Saturday, August 20, 2011

Insectary

NOFA-NY's organic food guide led me to this word.

From Cornell University's College of Agriculture Bulletin of the Agricultural Experiment Station (November, 1888), by entomology professor, Station Council member, and uncommon husband J. H. Comstock:

As this, so far we know, is the first building of its kind, we were forced to coin a word; and have proposed the name Insectary for buildings arranged for keeping or raising living insects.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dancetty

From Heraldry, a slender book written by Julian Franklyn, with drawings by Alan Keith-Hill.

I began reading the book in earnest while waiting on line to get into the (small and overrated) Alexander McQueen exhibit. Fittingly, I began the book while standing across the way from a 15th-century statue of Saint Bavo, a Norwegian man carrying a book bag.

The author remarks in his introductory material how appealing the language of heraldry is, how musical. I found this out myself before turning from the back matter to the introductory note where he writes, "each term in its turn is a glittering gem, every sentence a poem. The auditory pleasure of Heraldry is as great as the visual." Indeed reading aloud the Blazon of Illustration portion of the book brings to mind Dylan Thomas and e.e. cummings.

By "visual," Franklyn means the shields; there are also the words themselves.

Argent, a saltire engrailed sable charged with another invected of the field, debruised by an orle azure guttée d'eau: on a chief of the third, three leopards [sic] heads erazed proper.

Gules, a chevron vairy Or and azure, cotised argent, between three roses of the last barbed and seeded proper.

Argent, crusily-fitchy sable . . .

Gyronny of eight ermine and gules . . .

Sable, two bendlets raguly between as many hawks argent . . .

Gules, three bendlets dancetty Or.

Sable, a cross parted and fretty between . . .

Barry-nebuly of six argent and vert . . .

Argent, on a bend sable, four crosses clechy voided and pommetty of the first . . .

Per fess dancetty argent and sable . . .

Per fess nebuly; in chief checky azure and Or . . .

Azure, in base barry wavy of four argent and of the first
. . .

The thing to remember about dancetty is how many times people with little or no knowledge of heraldry have almost seen it, on the front of Charlie Brown's shirt (truly in the early 1950s, when the line of zigzags had no more than three peaks).

Of course there is more to say about the profusion of y words and the migration from French to English, but I'm not going to address that in this post.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sorry

Etymologically rooted not in sorrow, but in sore. Bodily pain enters the mental arena.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Relationshippy

This is just a funny word, said aloud by a friend today near the Little Red Lighthouse.

It reminded me of another friend calling people who'd been together in what struck me as an excellent many-years-long relationship "coupled out".

Years ago I went out with a man who made it very clear that I was never to call him my "partner in crime." It would never have occurred to me to use that expression.

Another boyfriend was very particular about whether we were going out, seeing each other, dating, or involved.

I don't know if I like the idea of being in a serious relationship with a man who's relationshippy (the silliness of the word says it all), but coupling out seems all right.

Pyththy

Here the word is ordinary and the date of origin is surprising. The OED dates the adjective to the beginning of the 15th century. Anybody who wants to know what pithy means need only think of the core of a stem.


Pith itself is an Old English word (peoþa or piða).

My favorite spelling and example of the adjective is from 1529. Little bit of python in there.

T. More Supplyc. Soulys i. f. xv, The sore pyththy poynt where wyth he knytteth vppe all hys heuy matter.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fluty

From John Rockwell's March 12, 1981, Times review of Musica Sacra's performance of Haydn's 'Creation' (the but might have been supplanted by an and):

From Kathleen Battle's fluty but commanding soprano, deliciously articulating the trills and ornaments, to John Aler's manly and idiomatic tenor to Simon Estes's richly sonorous, sweetly controlled bass, these were vocal performances fully capable of investing Haydn's time-bound vision with the profundity still inherent in it.

No comment on manly, a word I know best via the mouth of Melissa Gilbert.

There were some good music critics in the deep old days. Bill Zakariasen and Speight Jenkins also had a thing or two to say.

There is flutey as well but visually speaking fluty is more flute-like.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bristly-Hairy

From African Violets, Gloxinias, and their relatives: A Guide to the Cultivated Gesneriads, by Harold E. Moore, Jr., with illustrations by Marion Ruff Sheehan (Plate II from the book borrowed from the Central Coast Geranium Society's site).


There's lots of hairiness in here: short-hairy, glandular-hairy, pale-hairy, softly hairy, velvety-hairy, soft-velvety-hairy, stiffly hairy, appressed-hairy, rough-hairy, shortly hairy, finely hairy, reddish-hairy, rusty-hairy, sparsely hairy, white hairy, harshly hairy, red-brown hairy, brownish-purple hairy, minutely hairy, sparingly hairy.

Bristly-hairy is a sort of late fall afternoon honey on good bread kind of phrase.

Read aloud, Dr. Moore's book brings to mind Under Milk Wood.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Y, Utopian

Though I did pass some y words on a vegetable table today at the Greenmarket outside of Columbia's gates (my purchase: organic cherry tomatoes), they did not rate. Sorry, farmers.

Continuing in my best imitation today of a librarian: from The Open Utopia site, reprinting the alphabet "from a facsimile of the woodcut, first edition, Louvain: 1516, reproduced in The Utopia of Sir Thomas More, translated by Ralph Robinson, edited and additional translation, J. H. Lupton, Oxford: Clare[n]don Press, 1895."


To the average reader, the Utopian y likely brings to mind the Soap and Detergent Association's symbol for

Cool/Cold (water temperature, machine wash)



and Low (heat setting, tumble dry)

.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Anthropogeny

As I have discovered today, this should not be confused with anthropogenic.

I had been thinking about music and white noise and the increasing number of helicopters along the East River (and daydreaming about weekend quietude). An article in the National Park Service Park Science newsletter (Volume 26, Number 3, Winter 2009-2010) referred to that which should not be confused with anthropogeny:

With greater knowledge and understanding of the important role the acoustic environment plays in overall ecosystem health and visitor enjoyment as well as the potential impacts of anthropogenic noise, protection of the acoustic environment has received growing attention by managers and policy makers.

This makes me recall cringing years ago when I read that snowmobiles would be allowed in the parks, and also about an excellent short article in the Times a year or two ago.

The article was about how quiet the publishing industry had become, and what had been lost. I wondered what publishing people thought of it, both the old guard and the newly networked. No doubt some thought it was just another lament about the snows of yesteryear.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Glassphemy

Back in November of 2005, I saved to email an idea I'd hatched a few years earlier:

The Smashatorium: a different kind of spa.

My notes read:

For anybody who needs a healthy alternative to yoga, meditation, swimming, jogging, crying jags, passive aggressive gestures, drama-queen scenes, facials, the bar.

A three month experiment in a space between tenants—raw space OR like traveling nightclub, moves

(Bitters) bottles, plates, fine crystal stemware

Bring your own—different pricing

Special requests taken; could have artists assemble room with a token piece of familiar furniture

Powder room—grind bottles to a fine powder with a _______ tool ; take home sand in a baggie to dispense as you please

Men’ s nights two nights a week

Need protective goggles


There was more to the spa services than just smashing bottles, but in time I realized I just wasn't finding the people I needed to find in order to turn the Smashatorium into a real place. I didn't present it as a recycling sport spot; I presented it as a therapeutic performance art installation.

I told a few friends about it. No luck intervened on behalf of my idea.

Today I came across a version of it, though the version has been around since May 2010.

Glassphemy is the name, and breaking glass is the game. My version did not include live people standing behind bulletproof--shattering-glass-proof--glass; it called upon the glass thrower to take an imaginative leap, or aim at a photograph. Bulletproof glass is a good idea. There's a video of the wife of one of the creator's throwing a bottle at her husband.

I like Smashatorium better than Glassphemy. Glassphemy doesn't make sense to me. For one thing, nobody's throwing the bottles in a house of worship.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Towery

Had to look up J. Alfred's love song in my old Norton Anthology, and passed this on the way, from Gerard Manley Hopkins' "Duns Scotus's Oxford":

Towery city and branchy between towers;

And then it goes on to "Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmèd, lark-charmèd, rook-racked, river-rounded;," which I quote for no very good reason except the stresses and all the work one's mouth must do to say this line, as if practicing Italian in the mirror.

Towery is so lightly touched in the center of word, it looks more substantial than its actual "mouthfeel".

More fun than reading "Pied Beauty" aloud, and Duns Scotus leads to more y words (quiddity, haecceity, univocity).

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Chewy

Yesterday I and several other people apparently in the throes of puppy withdrawl set upon a several-months old golden retriever on a Long Island beach, and one of the women called him not cute or sweet or smouchy, but chewy.

What a chewy puppy, she said, or He's a chewy puppy.

I was in the midst of trying to get my ring finger out of his mouth, so I can't quite remember how she said it. The phrase was definitely chewy puppy, and it occurred to me that she was saying something unique unto herself.

I appreciated it in a new light after hearing one of my sisters' friends talk about personal vocabularies. Before I tell you what this woman said, though, I want to mention how, many years ago, I started to take an interest in the books read by a man I knew. He'd read whatever he was reading, and I'd happen to read whatever he was reading--until the day he noticed what I was doing and told me that I really needed to get out of his wake. Which I did.

Even before that, there was a very short piece in the Observer called Cock A-Doodle Don't. I think either Phil Weiss or Peter Stevenson wrote it, or maybe it was that Stevenson wrote a parody of a book Phil Weiss wrote....? Something like that. It was a good piece, regardless, and in it there was this instance of an assistant to a Graydon Carter-like man using a word that the Carter-like man would have used. The assistant plucked a word from his boss's lexicon/wardrobe/arsenal and used it on his own lips.

Why I bring this up is because my sister's friend happened to articulate one of the best language practices going--best in my opinion, at least, because it speaks to (sorry) everything that is the opposite of salesmanship and slick, quick insta-relationships one-sidingly calculated and supposedly rooted in an organic common language .

The friend of my sister was talking about how nice it was to have a conversation with a certain architect we all know. It was nice, she said, because after she and her husband explained their thoughts about a project, the architect demonstrated his understanding of what they'd said by explaining it all back to them using his own words.

His words, not their words.

What she was getting at, I think, was the intelligence at work during that conversation. She wasn't saying, "He heard everything we said, as evidenced by his repeating our words to us"; she was saying, "He heard everything we said, as evidenced by his responding to us in his own way."

I glanced at my sister's friend. She could not, I am certain, know how grateful I was to hear this. I was grateful because sometimes when people echo my words, I've sometimes wanted to say, as my reader friend said to me: "It would be better if you could find your own words, so that this doesn't wind up feeling like an act of co-optation or a linguistic hijacking."

What might be regarded as a benign movement toward common ground or a gesture of friendliness can actually feel like something invasive--though it could also represent an instance of linguistic migration, or some such (a phrasing I picked up from an editor I once knew). I doubt I'm the only person who feels this way. Certainly there's plenty of language to go around.

I still call golden retrievers golden retrievers, even though a man I used to know called them Connecticut dogs. I always thought that was hilarious. When I see them, I sometimes think to myself, There's a Connecticut dog, but I never say so aloud. When I saw the puppy on the beach, all I thought was I have to pet that puppy right now.

::UPDATE:: However, it must be said that when there's an established context and some level of familiarity between people, people who affirm one another's vocabulary words do so in affinity. Also, for whatever it's worth, in the past two weeks the words group and team (or perhaps I should say group vs. team) actually posed some difficulties for an entire group/team of people who didn't know one another except in a business context.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Scoopy

Although the OED's word of the day (today) is shouty, the word that caught my eye is scoopy.

From the list of citations for shouty:

1914 H. Coward Choral Technique & Interpretation 19 There are a great majority of untrained voices, which may be roughly classified as follows:—weak and quavery, worn and tinny, harsh and shrill, strident, metallic, shouty, throaty, cavernous, hooty, scoopy, and nondescript.

Needless to say, I have no idea what scoopy means. When I look it up in the OED, I arrive at

scoopy, adj.

Fashion slang.

Of the neck of a garment: rounded and low-cut. Cf. scoop neck n. at scoop n.2 Compounds, scooped adj. 1b.

1970 Daily Tel. 1 June 13 This summer's dresses are heaven-sent for this event. The voiles are in full swing, the necks are scoopy.

So scoopy and its 1914 meaning appears to be . . . unlisted.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bloddy

From the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters eGForums, by a person I could not reach. This is from a discussion about gazpacho.

It's a fasntastic way to start off a BBQ..somewhere between a bloddy mary & a salad..also a pretty good hangover lunch

I sort of like typos in dashed off notes. Not everything should be gone over with a fine-tooth comb.

(How long was the time period before spell checking and instant correction came along?)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Presnelty

I went to Barnes & Noble to pick up the July issue of Velo News because there's an article on women's bikes. Took a peek at the racks to see what else was in there. An Italian Vogue special issue. n+1. Ceramics something or other, or maybe just plain Ceramics. A little magazine all about the wonderful world of meat. And Esopus, which I hadn't picked up for quite some time.

From Ray Johnson's November 30, 1988, letter to Robert Warner, as shown in Esopus' Spring 2011 issue:

I have the luxury of having a complete North Shore Estate, presnelty the Police Academy as my private walking place.

Because it's Ray Johnson and not, say, Robert McFadden, I wondered if perhaps the error had been committed on purpose. Was snelty a word? Could something be pre-snelty? What could that possibly mean?

Was I doing what many have before me--looking more deeply into Ray Johnson's work than is merited? Some think he was a real and Authentic artist; some think he was merely pretentious.

I wanted presnelty not to be a typo, even as I knew it was a (mid-level) typo. I wanted snelty to be a word. It's not. (Snelly is.)

A man I know used to have a coconut (maybe he still does) that a friend had sent him via mail.

The coconut sender, mail artists, users of the WASTE system, teachers who bring their students on field trips to the Post Office: I can't help but admire their connection to one of my favorite transportation systems.

Do I really really hold Ray Johnson's art in the highest esteem? Certainly I like his art, but what I almost love is his relationship with the U.S. Postal Service. I like the idea of an artist working with an institution this way. It somehow hooks up with the kind of ephemeral art Jim Devevan makes, though at the moment I'm not entirely sure how.

Howdy

My shoemaker said this today. He greeted me with howdy and then called me "my dear."

My shoemaker does not say howdy, although, yes, today he did.

But he really doesn't (say it).

My shoemaker, a man I would truly miss were I to move to another state, is, if I recall correctly, Ukrainian.

Were I to apply a little-used form of Sarah Palin logic, I would posit that when I entered the cobbler shop, a pleasant memory (from Sunday) of watching the Georgian bread baker of Brighton Beach scrape his toné somehow infused the atmosphere of the shop, altering the climate so as to throw my usually laconic cobbler into a state teetering on the brink of loquacity.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hurty

Alerted to this one by a biking friend.

From Jill Outside, a blog with a lot of good photographs and a dutiful chronicle of terrains explored by a serious biker.

I've mostly stayed off my feet this week in a pre-emptive — though hopefully unnecessary —hurty-foot recovery plan to avoid plantar fasciitis.

Something about the phrase suggests an overwrought paw, reddened as if smarting from sunburn. Has a little of hacky-sack's kickiness and none of hurdy's weight.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Whoopy


I stopped by Orwasher's today on the way to the CSA site, and they had some small whoopie pies under a cake dome. Chocolate cake with vanilla cream or white cake with lemon cream. I asked about the cream: a custard cream, or more like a frosting? It's more like a buttercream, said the hairnet-headed woman we all love (take away that woman and it's really goodbye, Orwasher's, which, of course, it sort of already has been since the new owners came along; but I digress). I bought a vanilla with lemon cream and delayed eating it until long after my first victim, a small apricot hamantaschen. (Orwasher's hamantaschen is quite good, but, Glaser's apricot hamantaschen, I must say, is the best I've had.)

Back to the whoopie pies. If an American elementary school were going to serve whoopie pies for dessert, I think it would be better to offer them as whoopy pies instead of whoopie pies, the y casting an effect similar to that of calling a Hoopoe a Hoopie (because this is how it was mispronounced in my household growing up). If the school were French, however, whoopie would be preferable.

Coincidentally I passed whoopy this weekend, while finishing Paul Zindel's Pardon Me, You're Stepping On My Eyeball!, a good book to follow The Phantom Tollbooth.

From about midway through the book, when Mrs. Shinglebox is complaining about her daughter not taking a computer dating service seriously enough:

" . . . I asked Edna one of the questions about where she thought the best place to make whoopy was, and she said on a horse.
"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cramberry

Another charming menu typo, this time from the cocktails list at Falai on Lafayette. Ingredients for the Costline (should this be Coastline?):

20gr. CRAMBERRY, 20gr. ORANGE JUICE, 35gr. TEQUILA, 15gr. PROSECCO.

Another cocktail is called City of Roses, with rose elixir from Santa Maria Novella. Whoever designed the liqueur bottles probably meant for them to be used afterwards as candle holders or lamp bases.

:: UPDATE :: On second thought, maybe the other cocktail is called Villa of Roses. It was Spanish, French, or Italian (Villa or Ville). Oops. Sorry.

If the cocktail is called City of Roses, I add only this thought: City of Roses would make a nice nickname for the city if Andrew Cuomo yields to patience and reason and bars methane companies from bringing their high-volume slickwater horizontal hydraulic fracturing technology to New York State and its so very good drinking water supply. Let rose bushes (and not toxic chemicals) crowd the governor's office and the halls of Albany if he makes the right decision. Certainly everybody will be able to breathe more easily (not to mention, literally, because who needs L.A. smog hanging around the Southern Tier of New York?) when it comes time to water the plants.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pudsey

I watched Bicycle Repairman, but it didn't have New Pudsey.

New Pudsey: at least as silly as Paglesham, a name Julie Christie somehow managed to say with a straight face.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Py

From the wine list at Dovetail:

Morgon, "Côte du Py- Vieilles Vignes" J-M Burgaud 2008

I was there with some people from Landmark West!, one of the organizations that keeps the Upper West Side looking so pretty, and the most wine-savvy person at the table, in from Santa Cruz, California, ordered this for us (along with the Beaujolais and others):

"Toh-kai -- Exto Gredic Vineyard" Quattro Mani 2008 friulano

Recommendation: Excelsior

Whether it will be served at Landmark West! and Friends of Roosevelt Park's September dinner (produced by Outstanding in the Field) just outside the planetarium's glass box, one cannot say.

Prothonotary


New vocabulary.

From the April 19, 2011, post on the Prince William Conservation Alliance blog:

Prothonotary Warblers are named after Catholic clergy called prothonotaries, who wear bright yellow robes.

Hello Again: A Return and Candle-Scenty

That didn't last long, did it?

Everything was fine until about a month ago. I attended a baby shower. A guest said vowelly. I kept my hands in my lap.

Then, at MoMA, a friend, describing his friend who writes Internet poetry, said internetty. Naturally this conjured a filigree of netting.

There were at least two other words after that. I tried to keep the pressure from mounting.

Now I'm reading Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City, and y-words are everywhere. It's a little obscene.

Last night I took myself to ABT at the Met to see the premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's ballet Thirteen Diversions. I first saw a Wheeldon piece several years ago, and I was determined to make sure yet another year didn't pass without seeing his work again.

It happened to be in a program with a Millepied. Now: I saw a Millepied some months ago, when we were still wearing furry boots and the sky was dark by 5 p.m. To my surprise, I thought it was quite good. It was different, strikingly so. I'm not a dance critic, so I can't say what was appealing.

Last night's Millepied piece, Troika, was, again, striking. A narrative featuring three male dancers and a cellist, it told a little story about relationships. One of the dark-haired dancers was particularly crisp.

A revival of a piece called Shadowplay came after the Millepied. Nobody seemed to be much impressed. Maybe they thought the dancers were miscast? I liked it (and happen to like The Jungle Book), and I had never seen it.

The program concluded with the Wheeldon. Here's what happened during the watching of it: candle-scenty, a y-word from the Lethem kept popping into my head (candle-scenty emitting precisely the right connotations for the scene in which it appeared); the phrase "hair-acting" came to mind, because I kept thinking that what was playing before me could be termed "arm-dancing"; and I wondered if perhaps Benjamin Millepied wasn't my preferred new choreographer.

I lost count of the movements--probably while wandering between a rigorous dance sequence from Fred Wiseman's "Paris Opera Ballet" and the Maria Tallchief scene in "Million Dollar Mermaid"--but am guessing that my favorites were the two Toccatas and possibly the Ritmico.

The lighting was superb, at once a nod to sun play on the horizon, computer screens, and the corner of a lone page of a blank book.

Philistine though it is to say, the stars of the show were the women's costumes, gossamer gorgeousnesses created by a man named Bob Crowley. What they were made of I don't know. A plunged V-neckline (with skin tone fabric stretched across the gap) blossoming to full three-quarter (?) length sleeves, coming back in to a cinched waist, then out into a bell-shaped skirt to the knees (slitted so as to fan at the hip line), with a little apron flap (surely there's a name for this) fluttering from the small of the back.

Where was the lagniappe? In the hem line.

The soloists's dresses were silver hemmed with pink and bright pink or .... something along those lines, in the reds, pinks, and purples. The others wore black hemmed with something approaching a cadmium yellow, although (because I took no notes) perhaps their hems were red and yellow. (Now I wish I had taken notes.)

I wondered if the dancers loved the costumes or not. I wondered how Bob Crowley created them. Did he test-dance them to see how they wore, how they moved, how they held up under the grip of the men's hands? Did he have people sit in the Family Circle (where I was originally) to see if the colors made it up that far? Were the hems hand-sewn? What were the ribbons made of? What is the function, if any, of the little flap?

After the program, I walked over to the fountain and lay back with my head toward the water plumes. Sometimes New York seems like just another big city, but last night wasn't one of those nights.

::UPDATE:: Looking at the photo in the Times this morning, I see that the sleeves on the silver (apparently grey, but such a luminous grey....) dresses were sleek sleeves, leotard-like. The corps wore black with yellow hems. The principals wore silver (grey) with pink hems.

::ADDITION:: Haglund's Heel characterizes the choreography of the first ballet of the evening, Dumbarton Oaks, as "very steppy and peppy, which seems to be Ratmansky's preference. It had a Great Galloping Gottschalk feel to it without the dynamics that Lynne Taylor-Corbett designed in her piece."