Daily Office


Matins: Kathleen’s off to Flah-dah in the morning. She’s staying at 100 Chopin Plaza.

Prime: I was so busy over the weekend that I still haven’t read the paper. I had to come across a link to this at kottke.org. In the Times, the article is entitled “A Guide to the French. Handle With Care.” My own title: When Seven out of Eight of the Following Propositions Hold True Here, New York Will Finally Be More Civilized Than Anglophone.”

Tierce: Didn’t you love The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini? No? Meg Wolitzer may be able to tell you why.

Sext: Father Tony agonizes over apostrophes. Is the plural of “CD” CD’s or CDs? I’m resolutely for the latter, but it makes my friend uncomfortable. He has found a link to “the rule,” which is correct so far as it goes.

Nones: The Hong Kong of the Hudson? You’re joking! This is Gotham City, surely! Be sure to click through Gothamist to the Big Apple list of no fewer than ninety-eight nicknames for Old Nieuw Amsterdam. What’s this? “The Frog and Toe“?

Vespers: The reviews appeared side-by-side in the Arts section of yesterday’s Times; how curious it was to have been to both evenings of chamber music. To give some idea of how different they were, in their wonderful ways, I’ve written them up together.  


§ Matins. 100 Chopin Plaza? In Miami? If I were a little sillier (if you know what I mean), I’d try to get to the bottom of the nomenclature. One almost asks: Kate or Frédéric?

§ Prime. We do have a marvelous language, second not even to French; but we are the most dreadful slobs, really quite unparalleled in human nature. And it’s not American; it’s built into the English language. Elaine Sciolino advises her readers to say Bonjour to people in the elevator, and so on, but that’s not enough: you must add some sort of address, or expect a wag to reply, Bonjour, mon chien.

It is true that, for many years, I wore shorts, in town, for twelve months of the year; but I have given that up. And in any case I never wore them out of the quartier. I would, it’s true, have a terrible time with the French bathroom thing (no strangers, please!), but I would be inventive and cook up a medical condition or something even more delicate. Madame, je suis désolé, but the elastic has short-circuited. Of course, I might never be asked back.

§ Tierce. Meg Wolitzer, acclaimed author of a long string of “midlist” novels, has this to say about why her books might not sell better.

Ms. Wolitzer acknowledged that she didn’t write the kinds of books that seemed most popular now. “I think there is still a real interest either in novels that read like nonfiction — like “The Kite Runner” — or straight nonfiction,” she said. “And fiction that doesn’t necessarily have a historical hook or teach you something so that you feel like you’ve gotten an education — people are a lot more suspicious of it. But that’s the kind of book I want, a book that doesn’t teach you anything but shows you possibilities of things.”

The best that I could come up to express my dissatisfaction with The Kite Runner was to complain that it seemed “artless,” underwritten. Now I get it. It “reads like nonfiction.” Like Ms Wolitzer, I also prefer a novel “that doesn’t teach you anything but shows you possibilities of things.”

And I’d much rather read straight history than a novelization of current affairs.

§ Sext. But Strunk & White note an important exception for “the possessives of ancient proper names ending -es and -is.” Hence: Jesus’ suffering. But they counsel avoiding the problem rather than solving it: the laws of Moses for Moses’ laws.

§ Nones. “The King Kong of the Hudson” — now that’s got legs.

Spring is beginning, just beginning to burst upon the city. Tiny clouds of green can be perceived in the odd treetop. Most trees on our side streets will turn white first, as their Bradford pear blossoms pop out; and the cherries in Carl Schurz Park will erupt in annual magnificence. Brilliant yellow forsythia have already appeared in Central Park. But green is the most welcome color. I took my walk today without benefit of muffler or gloves, and was quite comfortable.

§ Vespers. Nothing like a little compare-and-contrast. What you can’t get from the Internet is the impact of allotting twice as much space to Allan Kozinn‘s coverage of the Perlman evening (natch) as Steve Smith‘s gets for the Rhodes.

2 Responses to “Daily Office

  1. Fossil Darling says:

    Re : Sext : plural of “CD” : I cannot access the link from here for the “rules” but there is my version:

    We have a product under water called Auction Rate Securities, or “ARS.” I have struggled with how to say that “ARSs will be bonded out.” I decided that when it ends in an “S” an apostraphe makes it look better but I am with you on “CDs.”

  2. Milan says:

    Fr Tim,Thank you for posting about your stay with the Carthusians. It has been abelultsoy riveting reading – what a blessing that there are those who are called to lead this austere life and pray for the whole world !