Daily Office:


Matins: There must have been other stories making the same point, but this is the one about libraries reminds me of what I know of the Depression.

Lauds: At least it’s free. Download John Cage’s celebrated composition, 4’33 at iTunes, and you won’t be charged. That’s because, well, you know….

Prime: Here’s a truly benighted project: “Make Your Own Morandi.”

Tierce: In an admirable move, Attorney General Eric Holder has dropped charges against former Alaska senator Ted Stevens — who would probably still be senator if it hadn’t been for his conviction of ethics violations. 

Sext: Maira Kalman glosses Tocqueville; attends town meeting in Vermont, also elementary-school student council meeting; illustrates beautifully. (via  kottke.org)

Nones: Just in time for the weekend, a palatial clip showing the meeting of two Anglophone heads of state in a remote corner of Mayfair (or is it Belgravia?).

Vespers: Here’s a book that I would definitely read, if only I had time for such fun: Allegra Huston’s Love Child. Janet Maslin, mildly disapproving, makes it sound particularly delicious.

Compline: Gmail turned 5 yesterday. Seems like just yesterday… and yet, how did we live without it? Just thinking about it is a sort of April Fool’s joke. Michael Calore sends an ecard from Wired. (Via Snarkmarket)


§ Matins. Although libraries have been gutted of their core mission over the past twenty years, they remain the most stable and reliable institutions that most communities have to offer. Libraries are still quiet places where reasonable requests are granted. How tempting it must be to see them as everything that the State has to offer.

§ Lauds. … the “song” consists of four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence.

What fun the historians are going to have — may be having already — with the idea that modernism was an aesthetic for “the people.” (That’s how it was sold!) In fact, there has never been a more rigorously elitist outlook, or one with such a committed  opposition to the everyday longing for beauty.

§ Prime. the Morandi show that recently closed at the Museum (to make room for Bonnard) has moved to the Phillips, in Washington. Well and good — but surely anybody who really looked at the show knows that Morandi’s paintings were not about “composition.” They’re about paint — often quite gorgeous swabs of the stuff. The idea of arranging a bunch of bottles on a shelf and taking a “Morandi” picture is too totalement ding-a-ling not to laugh at!

§ Tierce. There is no point to sending octagenarians to jail for doing business-as-usual but just getting caught. I’m glad that the man is no longer in office, certainly. But few areas of criminal law are more disfigured by prosecutorial caprice than ethics violations.

Neil Lewis’s story reads as though the Obama justice department had gone after Stevens — which is, I’m sure, the way that Republicans will contrive to remember it. 

§ Sext. If I’m not mistaken (and I see that I’m not), the Margaret, Countess of Salisbury whom Henry VIII beheaded in 1541 was a daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, the hot-tempered Yorkist whom Shakespeare drowned in a “butt of malmsey.” Margaret was thus a potential rallying point for anti-Tudor sentiment. She is the last casualty of the Wars of the Roses, despite outliving it by fifty-six years.

§ Nones. I can’t share with you my mother-in-law’s thoughts on the First Lady’s habit of talking with her hands, but I can guess what they are. I’m sorry that we never got to see Helen Mirren squirm out of an unexpectee photo-op embrace.

§ Vespers. There’s always the danger that Ms Maslin is more entertaining than the author under review:

In “Love Child” Ms. Huston paints herself as the most stolid, “bog-ordinary” member of the endlessly creative Huston clan. While the others (including two brothers, Tony and Danny) expressed themselves imaginatively, little Allegra felt terribly literal minded: among her favorite childhood pursuits were painting by numbers and playing connect the dots. But she had gifts of her own, and one is a flair for passive aggression. It’s fascinating to read her book verbatim. It’s even more so to read it between the lines.

§ Compline. I can run this Web log and engage with my email on anybody’s computer, thanks (I think) to something called Ajax. (For Portico, however, I need an FTP application; and PhotoShop has yet to go cloud.)

Although my life didn’t really make any sense until personal computers came to the rescue, I have never been very interested in what I call the Heathkit side of computing. Every moment spent thinking about computers is a moment stolen from using them to facilitate projects that I seem to have had on my mind when I was born.

Today, for example, I designed a playlist that will help me to learn which Bach suite is which. Here’s the sequence:

  • Corelli: Concerto Grosso Op 6 2N-1
  • Bach: English Suite N, French Suite N, Partita N, Cello Suite N
  • Corelli: Concerto Grosso Op 6 2N 

Thus, the final iteration goes like this:

  • Corelli: Concerto Grosso Op 6 No 11
  • Bach: English Suite No 6, French Suite No 6, Partita No 6, Cello Suite No 6
  • Corelli: Concerto Grosso Op 6 No 12

I haven’t even loaded the playlist onto the Baroque Nano yet (the music is all there already), so I’m thinking of moving the Cello Suites to precede the Partitas.

Not very computery, to be sure; and in the olden days I could have made sequence of cassette tapes, or, more recently, copied the music onto a sequence of CDs. In fact, however, I would never have taken such pains just to construct an exercise. And all  that I have constructed is a playlist. The slog work of uploading CDs onto a hard drive and creating MP3 files was done long ago.

Long ago…

Bon weekend à tous!

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