A mystery: 13

Our American Cousin, by Tom Taylor, Act II, Scene 2:

Enter, from R. 2 E., SIR E., MRS. M., … two servants in livery, carrying tray and glasses, a wine basket containing four bottles to represent champagne, knife to cut strings, some powerful acid in one bottle for ASA—pop sure. (p. 31, Samuel French ed.)

What in Fox’s name is meant by pop sure? And, unless I missed something, that bottle of acid is never used.

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DeLillo decoded

If ever there was a book that needed an explanatory wiki, it’s Ratner’s Star (1976):

He was watching her bend the edges of a paper plate someone had left on the table. Again and again she folded the plate so that a different point on the circumference of the circle touched the same ketchup speck every time, a small stain located well off-center. She kept studying the resulting creases. (p. 53)

The creases form an ellipse, as Dr. Math explains.

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At the park: 95

From my most recent report:

The not-so-good news is that five of our boxes showed no evidence of incubation, with eggs that had been laid four weeks prior — so we cleaned out those boxes. The much-better news is that we have new nests started in box #6 and our studio apartment, box #5. Box #6 would be a second brood, if it comes to term — it’s only one egg at present. We also have two, possibly three, nests still incubating.

* * *

A recent BirdNote featured Frank Bellrose and one of our favorite ducks: https://www.birdnote.org/show/frank-bellrose-and-wood-ducks

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Ka-chunk

Languagehat takes on the naval neologism geedunk. My post to the comment thread:

I had a colleague who was in the Navy in the 1990s; he was stationed, among other places, on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. He taught me “gee-dunk” (pronounced as a spondee) as a word for a break room, a place with a coffee machine, a table or two, and a couple of vending machines. Not at all the ice cream parlor of swankier years. His etymology, or perhaps the etymology that was handed down to him, was that “gee-dunk” was the sound of working the vending machine: the sound of pulling and releasing the knob, and the ka-chunk sound of the sweet and salty treat falling to the bottom tray.

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Fifth member of the quartet

The role of sound design in professional live theater, a podcast episode produced by James Introcaso.

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National Arboretum

onerfairwayAfter my trip to the Dogwood Collection earlier this month to get a snap of the plaque honoring Louisa King, I returned to get a look at the trees in bloom. Protip: The garden was peopleless at 8:00 of a Saturday morning, right after the gates opened.

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Waxy

What’s it like to record an aria on 120-year-old technology? Met tenor Piotr Beczala and soprano Susanna Phillips give it a try.

ArtsJournal

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Silver Line progress report: 43

Defects in precast concrete panels at five of the six stations under construction threaten to delay a 2020 opening of Phase 2 of the Silver Line.

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Underground Railroad Game

This play is not the first to treat its audience like children, but it is perhaps the first to do so literally, when the house lights come up and the house is addressed as a fifth-grade class beginning a teaching unit on the American Civil War.

Shallow, lacking nuance, weakly manipulative, and not nearly as shocking as it wants to be, the piece is not without its good moments.

  • Underground Railroad Game, by Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R. Sheppard with Lightning Rod Special, directed by Taibi Magar, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington
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Prairie

Chris Swan experiments in the ecology of vacant lots in West Baltimore.

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What do you see?

Always good advice: from Elisabeth Sherman with the Whitney:

So, if you have a… negative gut reaction, one of defensiveness or fear or anxiety or rejection, maybe try to move past that and see what’s available afterwards.

kottke.org

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Broadsides

An NEH grant will enable the digitization of an archive of 19th-century playbills in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York.

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Many-headed

An individual of Physarum polycephalum joins Hampshire College as a scholar in residence.

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Friends

Bas Bleu remembers her friend David.

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Peirce Mill river herring 2018

downstreamNeil Fitzpatrick and Bill Yeaman led a walk to Rock Creek and the fish ladder established in 2007 to enable migratory river herring to swim around the man-made barrier of the dam at Peirce Mill. And our luck was great! Despite some muddy conditions in the stream, many Gizzard Shad (Dorosoma cepedianum) could be seen, working their way upstream. Alas, no acceptable photos acquired. (Note to future self: bring a longer lens and a little more patience.)

On our walk down the somewhat trippy Melvin Hazen Trail, the group spotted a single Louisiana Waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla).

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