Bons Mots

    I’m reading this novel Constellation, about a French plane trip gone wrong, but the damn thing is in French, so I have to keep reaching for the dictionary. I looked up the word estiver and was not helped by learning its definition was “estivate.” So I looked that up in my Oxford dictionary […]

Oh Quelle Sensation

  One of the problems with my French is that I cannot for the life of me keep straight plafond and plancher. Since one means floor and the other ceiling, this can introduce startled disbelief to otherwise mundane exchanges. Le Lionel Richie de la conversation, c’est moi! Speaking of which – and no disrespect to […]

Canada Guy

  It doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but well wishers still stop me on the street to encourage my candidacy for prime minister of Canada. No amount of protest on my part – I’m happy with my current job, it’s increasingly unlikely I could obtain even a plurality in the House of […]

There Goes Rhymin’ Sipe

Of Bez, the Buzzcocks, the bouncing bombs, and the beautiful Busby Babes One question I have for Song is: why is rhyme such a big deal? Yes, it’s neat when the ends of words sound the same, but it also seems like a strange organizing principle. Adam Gopnik pointed out that it’s very easy for words to rhyme in […]

Slap, Memory

The other day I asked for a kiss and instead received a slap. Though only a toddler, my daughter’s got a mean open hand, and I see no reason to interpret this exchange as anything but portentous. That very afternoon, coincidentally, I was passing out laptops for a reading level test, and asked a student […]

Ooh La La

I’m sure Arne Duncan’s office is fine and all, but I bet it’s not lined with gold leaf. And in France the top education job is apparently “a prestigious position held by monumental figures,” too. Secretary Duncan may, alas, have better luck installing gold leaf in his office than commensurately elevating its status. More happily, I […]