OK here’s a great idea: let’s all pitch in some cash, not too much, whatever we happen to have lying around, and buy the rural New Hampshire house where famous American hermit J.D. Salinger lived for a while. It’s for sale, according to Curbed, for less than $700,000, and it is super pretty.
As reported by the Valley News, Salinger purchased the place in 1953 after separating from his first wife, by which time he had achieved both critical and commercial success with the 1951 publication of The Catcher in the Rye. He made the move to Cornish from his apartment in Manhattan (300 57th Street), and it’s in the small New Hampshire town where his reputation as a recluse solidified, but according to a 2010 article in the New York Times, Salinger was a relatively active member of the community.
Salinger, who sold the house in the ’60s but stayed in town, is said to have voted in elections, attended town meetings at the Cornish Elementary School, and been a mainstay at $12 roast beef dinners at First Congregational Church in nearby Hartland, Vermont. Locals, embodying what one resident once described to the New York Times as “the code of the hills,” have boasted since his death in 2010 of misdirecting the throngs of eager English majors that came looking for their resident writer. According to the owner of a local general store, just how far these misdirections took Salinger pilgrims “depended on how arrogant they were.”
Guardians of the Galaxy: In the future, money will be called “units” and will be instantly transferable from one person to another, I guess by telepathy or or telepathic internet or something. Everyone will be obsessed with getting as many units as possible even though there’s no reason to buy anything. You will only need one outfit and you’ll wear it all the time, and nobody ever goes grocery shopping in space. Also, Walkmans last for decades without ever wearing out or running out of batteries.
Even though there’s no real reason to have units, people (and raccoons) will still do a lot of stupid things to get as many units as possible.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: If you are a rich person, you’ll do everything that you can to increase your net worth, including releasing a deadly toxin over New York City and then attempting to sell the government the antidote (which is conveniently made from Ninja Turtle blood). You also invest a lot of money into a mecha suit for a mob boss, for reasons unknown.
If you are a Ninja Turtle, you’ll outfit your home with used furniture (including an entire wall of boomboxes) and somehow have enough money to order out for pizza even though you don’t have a job.
Thank you Grub Street, thank you Bubby’s High Line, the restaurant in the Meatpacking District of NYC, where said ice cream can be purchased. And lastly thank you AMERICA, land of the free (well, free for some people, and def not free for ice cream):
It includes 16 scoops of ice cream, pretzels, pecans, peanuts, chocolate-chip cookie crumbs, chocolate and caramel syrups, rainbow sprinkles, whipped cream, and, of course, a few cherries on top. This behemoth serves eight to ten Americans, but there’s also a $50 “Little Kitchen Sink” sundae with eight scoops of ice cream which can probably feed eight to ten people from any other place in the world.
16 scoops of ice cream does not seem worth $100. $20, sure. $30, even, if we are at a restaurant. But $100? Those better be some artisanal-ass pretzels.
Anyway, Happy Monday. I hope there is ice cream where you are.
Today’s“The Year We Saved $10K” stories both come from people who claim their stories are “boring” and “not dramatic,” but NO SAVINGS STORY IS EVER BORING.
Annecara: My story is pretty boring. My husband and I are DINKs, and we basically just auto-transfer 20-30% of our paychecks into our savings account every month, which has totaled more than $10k a year since about for the last three years. The percentage we save has gone up and down, depending on circumstance (for instance, our mortgage just increased by $400 a month, so we lowered our savings amount to compensate) but the only time we haven’t saved at all is when I was out of work at the end of 2011. READ MORE
An article on Quartz makes the argument that we should not think of math ability as innate and ourselves as either “math people” or not.
This 2007 National Institutes of Health Public Access twin study, using relatively transparent methods, estimates that genes account for somewhere in the range from 32% to 45% of mathematical skill at age 10. That leaves 55% to 68% of mathematical skill to be accounted for by other things—including differences in individual effort. (Other estimates of the percentage of variation of mathematical skill in kids due to genes range all the way from 19% to 90%.)
How do we fix the problem? How do we act as though we have faith (in ourselves) so that faith will be given to us? It’s easy:
spend time doing math in the kinds of ways people who love math spend time doing math. Think of math like reading. Not everyone loves reading. But all kids are encouraged to spend time reading, not just for school assignments, but on their own. Just so, not everyone loves math, but everyone should be encouraged to spend time doing math on their own, not just for school assignments. If a kid has a bad experience with trying to learn to read in school, or is bored with the particular books the teacher assigned, few parents would say “Well, maybe you just aren’t a reader.”
Peter Mendelsund is associate art director of Alfred A. Knopf Books, which makes him perhaps the preeminent expert among those who judge books by their covers. He’s designed covers for everything from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to classics by Dostoevsky, Nabokov, Joyce, and De Beauvoir. Last week, he published two books: What We See When We Read, an incisive exploration of the phenomenology of reading, and Cover, a monograph of his best work, which includes his thoughts on designing and several short essays from authors.
I talked to Peter the other day about his work as a cover designer, which began eleven years ago, after a past life as a classical pianist.
So, you were a classical pianist for many, many years, and you mention in Cover that that you still self-identify as such. Is the pleasure you get out of designing at all different than the one you get playing?
Oh yeah, it’s different in kind and degree. The joy I get out of playing piano—there are very, very few things in life that match that particular form of communion. Of course, it’s also hard work, but when it’s going well it’s just one of the great feelings a person can have. If one is playing great music, if you’re playing Bach or Beethoven, and you’re playing it in a way where things are working properly, then your self dissolves, and it’s absolutely a transcendent experience. And nothing, nothing, in design matches that.
It’s not like I’m sitting in front of my InDesign documents swooning. I wish I did. Designing evokes a much narrower range of emotions; that range is somewhere between cool, which is one response, and oh, that’s pretty.
You say in Cover that with book design “clever” and “pretty” are the main benchmarks of quality—that design doesn’t need to deal in profundity. Is that really true, though? Looking at some of your covers, I find profundity. Is that incidental, or do you aim for that?
Well, what you’re trying to do is make something that structurally maps the text. So if there is some unintentional profundity, it has to do with the way the author has written the book and the way the reader has read the book. You’re gonna bring your own experience and feelings to bear on it. I don’t think there’s ever been a moment where I’ve said or felt, “this cover is really profound.” It’s really profundity by association—if it’s a great text, Dostoevsky or whatever, then you connect the experience of reading with the paratext.
This morning I woke up at 6:30 and the baby was still asleep. He usually wakes up at six and we all sit in bed talking to him for like an hour, praying he will go back to sleep soon, but today he is sick. I got in the shower, ate breakfast, got dressed, packed my bag. He was still asleep. I opened my computer to check on the site, tried to start working, but we had no coffee in the house and this was just not going to happen. I laid in bed and just stared at him for awhile, looking at the clock. I paced the apartment, put a granola bar in my bag, went and stood over his little bed. I can’t leave for work until I feed him, and then I have to leave immediately after I feed him so I can get the most of my 2.5-hour window. Two and a half hours is kind of pushing it, even, but sometimes I am gone for three. At two hours I start to get antsy. Guilty. My boobs start to hurt and I imagine the baby to be fussing and I’m panicking a little while I search for an image to go with a blog post. If I finish my work and come home early I am the family saint, a hero. “Look who’s here! It’s your mama!” The baby is smiling, I’m wondering if this means I get extra credit. Can I leave again after I feed him? Go do more work?
Before I sit down to nurse him I have the tote bag by the door, my shoes on my feet, hanging off the bed. I check Twitter on my phone and favorite articles to blog about.
He finally woke up at about 8:30 today. He stretched, made some noise, closed his eyes again. “Shit child,” I thought, “I don’t have all day!” READ MORE