Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Y words galore in the New Yorker's September 10th issue.

First and last, from Peter Canby's "Mushroom Noises" in the Talk of the Town section:

A pedestrian pushed a squeaky-wheeled baby stroller, creating a wobbly tremolo [no italics for tremolo].

Mr Canby's next sentence includes "a thumpy percussion," and given that this weekend I learned of thump's relation to tump in Old-Scots lingo (eligible for inclusion in The Scone Charter? probably no), thumpy was almost tonight's post.

Too, I considered drapey, from Bruce Eric Kaplan's caption for his cartoon showing the grim reaper  trying on a black cloak at a clothing shop. (My guess is that every time the grim reaper appears in the New Yorker's pages, half its readers recall Charlie Rose's interview with the great man.) Drapey was a candidate because isn't drapes a word that the advertising industry pushed, displacing curtains? Vaguely interesting if it's true.

Wobbly comes to the top, however, because of Mr Canby's pairing with tremolo [italics mine]. A wobbly vibrato, for example, wouldn't be half as good, and I can't quite really say why. There it is. Wobbly tremolo is much more pleasing to the eye, to me.

On a related note, the idea, as mentioned in the article, of using "the fruiting of mushrooms as [a] randomizing conceit" when recording ambient sounds for a soundscape event (this weekend at Cooper Union), reminds me of the kind of thing writhing society people do over at Proteus Gowanus: define a constraint; compose accordingly.

It would be fortuitous if somewhere in the vicinity of a mushroom patch somebody's ear caught the sound of a poppy unfolding its petals. This is a delicate crinkling (or un-crinkling). It's on tonight's short list with horseshoe crabs, butterscotch pudding, and Edith Wharton.

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