Ineffable

  Joan Acocella has written one of the more entertaining paragraphs I’ve read lately: Japan, curiously, does not have swear words in the usual sense. You can insult a Japanese person by telling him that he has made a mistake or done something foolish, but the Japanese language does not have any of those blunt-instrument …

The National Anthem

  1. Who’s on First? Last week it was fractions, and I spent some time trying to explain how “equivalent” differs in meaning from “equal.” We used currencies and first names as examples. Then we got into national anthems. I’ll spare you the transcript, but there were several iterations of: Mr. Sipe: Yes, but what’s …

Macabre Revisited

A colleague whom I like and otherwise respect recently told me she’d attended a concert by [surpassingly detestable band*]. I declared this band “macabre.” Puzzled, she asked if I meant “maudlin.” Nope. I meant “macabre” as said by Anthony Blanche. That’s the epithet he uses to damn, and it indisputably deserves broader currency. If you don’t know who …