“Amped Up to Grotesqueness”


Gina Beavers’s “Who Has Braces?” (2014) in her show “The Life I Deserve” at MoMA PS1. Credit Gina Beavers.

Gina Beavers’s work hits a sweet spot for me. It’s impossible not to bumble where the talent has gone already, but I intend to explore serial, inflated, anatomical detail myself.

Her idiosyncratic aesthetic… [offers] canny statements on contemporary bodies, beauty and culture.

[Her] works tackle the weirdness of immaterial images floating through the ether, building them up into something monumental, rather than dismissing them, as most of us do.

(Martha Schwendener, “New York Galleries: What To See Right Now,” NYTimes, 8-14-19)

(c) 2019 JMN

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Help Drill

stacey abrams

Stacey Abrams speaking at a DNC gala in June. Credit Audra Melton for The New York Times.

Help fix inaccurate voter rolls
Help address shortages of voting machines
Help address shortages of provisional ballots
Help formalize the rules around counting absentee ballots
Help increase participation in the 2020 census.
Help increase youth turnout

Source: Melanye Price, “Stacey Abrams Is Playing the Long Game for Our Democracy,” NYTimes, 8-15-19)

(c) 2019 JMN

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Kudos to Automattic


John J. Custer.

This commentary by Kara Swisher made me glad to be on WordPress.

… Tumblr has landed with WordPress, a former rival and the kind of company that it probably should have been with all along. [Founder, Matt Mullenweg] is one of tech’s most earnest entrepreneurs and also someone whose ethos has hewed most closely to the time when the internet was a lot more innocent…

As to why he bought it, despite all the rough times Tumblr has endured? “It’s just fun,” Mr. Mullenweg said to The Wall Street Journal… “We’re not going to change any of that.”

Fun? On the internet? Today? From his lips to our ears — and, maybe, to our souls, to take us back to when we were all a little bit better. Because we were.

(Kara Swisher, “Who Killed Tumblr? We All Did,” NYTimes, 8-14-19)

(c) 2019 JMN

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Song of the Ottoman: Original Poem

Our past is our mystery. It is the tangle we have made of our hopes when we have come up to them. The future alone is clear.
(Robert Henri)

What it is not is an ottoman.
What it is is not an ottoman.
An ottoman is not what it is.
An ottoman is what it is not.
Not an ottoman is what it is.

Not what an ottoman is, is it?
Is not an ottoman what it is?
Is an ottoman not what it is?
Is it not what an ottoman is?
Is not it what an ottoman is?

Ottoman is an it. What is not.
Not is what? An ottoman is it?
An is is not. What an ottoman!
An is not. What is? An ottoman!

(c) 2019 JMN

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Where Cate Sits

“My father was born in Texas. My mother is Australian. I’m married to a British citizen. So I sit in some weird fork in the road.”

(Cate Blanchett, Stephen Colbert Show, 8-12-19)

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Song of Theirselves


I’ve been at Amsterdam dinners where everyone is speaking brilliant English, but the minute I leave the table they switch back to Dutch. If all we know is English, we won’t know what the rest of the world is saying about us.

(Pamela Druckerman, “Parlez-Vous Anglais? Yes, Of Course,” NYTimes, 8-10-19)

The constipated grammarian holding out for correctitude is low-hanging fruit for parody. It’s fun to adopt the pose. He — or of course it could be “she” because of the accident of gender, or “they” in a travesty of number — is a milquetoast chewing tepid tea and crumble over a dog-eared book of rules.

Most people now learn English to communicate with other nonnative speakers — and even many of their teachers aren’t native — so they acquire few expressions and idioms.

English is being invaded by nonnatives! The language shrivels as it burgeons, shrinks as it grows, morphs as it sloughs. Worldwide, English is blasting a path of coinage, assimilation, and soon-to-be-standard barbarisms like “discussing about” in  advanced and “shithole” countries alike.

Here’s one of the most delightful points of this informative article:

Linguist Jennifer Jenkins writes that “at European Union conferences, nonnatives who can easily understand each other’s English switch on their translation headphones when someone from Britain or Ireland takes the stage.

It’s a phenomenon I have experienced more than once. I may have understood roughly half of the dialog spoken by my sister Anglophones in “Derry Girls.”

(c) 2019 JMN

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Here Lies a Scotsman

Adverbs Ahead

Grammar Ahead

There once was a Second Amendment paladin in the Houston area who lay in wait one night to discharge his Ruger into the belly of a nefarious shadow on his castle’s driveway; having done which he laid his weapon down, only to discover that the presumptive intruder, now dead, was a lost Scotsman from abroad who sought directions out of the neighborhood.

This true tragic tale illustrates how the English language lays traps for its natives. The traps lie in wait for the under-schooled journalist to come trudging by. When he (or she) trips a trap the effect is paradoxical for being little noted, if at all, by him (or her) — in stark contrast to how the slug affected the Scotsman — and even less by his (or her) lack-minded readers who have trod the same terrain where the trap has lain, and who have tripped it with the same effect.

(c) 2019 JMN

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