The crossword puzzle can seem utterly authorless. If you haven't caught the documentary Wordplay, or bothered to look up the name that appears in tiny agate type below the grid in The New York Times, you might join many others in assuming that the crossword is written by editor Will Shortz. Or volunteers. Or a computer.
In fact, crosswords are made by people (called constructors) whose status is roughly equivalent to freelance writers—that is to say, low. Puzzles are sent on spec to editors, who buy them or turn them down, and who fine-tune the ones they accept without, as a nearly universal rule, consulting the constructor. Submissions may sit [...]
It's come to my attention that a request for bourbon salt has been made, and I feel that it's a safe assumption that if I don't take up this call to NaCl no one reputable will. Which makes me worried for those who wish to try some, who might otherwise be left to cast about, seeking out bourbon salt from sketchy characters and wandering into dark alleys at all times of the night and I already have enough to fret over. So here, I made you some bourbon salt.
Because I think of bourbon as stronger and sweeter than wine, I decided to go with a cup and a [...]
A new translation of Nostradamus has just been published—though if you’re a real fan you already knew that! Actually, this is the first time we’ve had access to the real thing: the prophecies that launched a thousand crackpots, in all their trippy medieval weirdness, taken seriously as poetry, translated by a great Guggenheim-winning translator, and decked out with essays and notes to give us half a chance of understanding what the hell is going on. But let’s just flip through randomly, shall we?
Life & death changing Hungary’s regime, The law far harsher than mere loyalty : Their capital shall ring with howls, pleas, screams : Castor [...]
"Comfortable" is a flexible term. Any one person’s threshold for comfort can differ from another’s. For the individual, comfort is relative: a heat wave in Edmonton, Canada, say, no longer agonizes after one has endured a heat wave in New York. When a person says "comfortable," they often mean "pleasant." Other times "comfortable" translates to just "bearable" or "satisfactory." While the word "comfortable" doesn’t change, a person’s definition of it can, and usually does, with time—that is, with age and experience. It might happen gradually, incrementally, with constant comparisons between then and now. Comfort itself is relative, its meaning elastic.
The word "comfortable" has been thrown around since the Middle [...]
Last week, Gotham Books released Jesse Jarnow's Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock. It's a biography of the Hoboken indie rock lifers who've been a working band since the mid-80s, and always seem to opt for the slow and steady over the quick cash-in. What made Yo La Tengo able to do what so few bands have managed: not only stick together but continue to release new, vital music for almost three decades? Via email, I talked with Jesse, a friend, has been writing about culture in venues such as Rolling Stone and Spin for a solid couple decades himself, and shares not [...]