TIL tomatoes

In a restaurant review: “Leave it to Fraser’s co-owner, James Truman, formerly the editorial director of Condé Nast, to spin the word ‘Nix,’ shrouding it in mysterious new meaning. In fact, it refers to a Supreme Court case from 1893 in which it was deemed that tomatoes should be considered a vegetable, because they are eaten for dinner, not dessert.”

Nix v. Hedden. Like stuffed animals vs. pillows.

How life is this summer

Rain” by Kazim Ali. “With thick strokes of ink the sky fills with rain. / Pretending to run for cover but secretly praying for more rain.”

Brian Age Seven” by Mark Doty. “Why do some marks / seem to thrill with life, / possess a portion / of the nervous energy / in their maker’s hand?”

Good Bones” by Maggie Smith. “Life is short, though I keep this from my children. / Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine / in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways…”

The crowd at the ball game” by William Carlos Williams. “It is summer, it is the solstice / the crowd is / cheering, the crowd is laughing / in detail…”

Celebration for June 24” by Thomas McGrath. “Your face against the night was my medallion. / Your coming forth aroused unlikely trumpets / In the once-tame heart.”

Summer Kitchen” by Donald Hall, via Lori. “In June’s high light she stood at the sink / With a glass of wine, / And listened for the bobolink, / And crushed garlic in late sunshine.”

Here’s What All The Buttons On An IndyCar Steering Wheel Do” from the Jalopnik blog. “A typical IndyCar steering wheel has 13 main features: a dashboard, RPM shift lights, pit-lane speed limiter, push-to-talk radio switch, fuel-level reset button, fuel-map switch, dash scroll, weight jacker, drink switch, neutral button, reverse, push-to-pass and clutch paddles.”

Loved these two articles the Post ran for Father’s Day

Tim Carman writes about his father’s cinnamon toast. “You couldn’t drag me to the dinner table, but on first whiff of Dad’s cinnamon toast, I would bound into the kitchen like a hungry dalmatian.”

And thanks to my parents for saving me this one: Ted Gup writes about his father’s menswear store. “Under Father’s tutelage, I was introduced to more than Ban-Lon shirts, Harris Tweed and BVDs. Even the drive to and from work with my father was a rolling course in economics, class mobility, free speech, justice and the responsibilities of citizenship, not that any of these were ever mentioned by name. Rather, they were embedded in the stories a father tells his son on the way to and from work.”

If June 25 is your birthday: 2016

I always feel the need to say this: I only look at my horoscope one day a year. Glad to see the optimism across the board this time. We’ll see. On to a new year.

Holiday Mathis: “Whatever you think will be the best part of this year, you’re wrong. You’ll grow in ways you weren’t expecting, have adventures you never dreamed of and luck you wouldn’t have called. So open up your mind and fall into this mystery box of a year. You’re in for some thrilling highs and love galore. Scorpio and Gemini adore you. Your lucky numbers are: 3, 9, 13, 4 and 22.”

Jeraldine Saunders: “You can be inspired by something you read or someone you meet during the next three to four weeks. Write down your ideas as they may be well worth pursuing in the future. The fall may be the best one ever if you take advantage of the wisdom and good advice that falls in your lap during September and October. You may be overly generous and you will be recognized for your good traits if you merely follow through on promises. It is possible to find the job of your dreams or to make savvy financial decisions in November. You will be well equipped to take advantage of new circumstances that arise and on point to achieve your ambitions.”

Sally Brompton: “You will only reach your goals over the coming year if you are prepared to work as part of a team. Join forces with like-minded people and make it your business not only to change your own fortunes but also to change the world for the better.”

Jacqueline Bigar: “This year you follow your intuition. You see the results, and, for the most part, you like them. You find this approach to be more authentic and much easier than over-intellectualizing, though you will opt to do that, too. If you are single, you suddenly might notice that a friend has worked his or her way into your heart. You could be fearful of losing this friendship if the relationship doesn’t work out, but isn’t it worth the risk? If you are attached, you often take off on special trips together, which contributes to your bonding. You act as if you are newlyweds. PISCES is a lot like you.”

Phil Booth: “A multitude of propitious omens bode well for you in this great year ahead. The potential exists to accomplish some of your greatest goals. What was once unthinkable is now possible. Trust the benevolent spiritual force that is guiding you through a personal transformation. It’s been a difficult process, but you are winning and you will attain a well-deserved reward. A spiritual and emotional awakening is opening your life to infinite possibilities.”

Linda Black: “Generate possibilities and share your vision this year, inspiring your work (and others). Good things come through communications until autumn, when a two-year domestic bliss phase begins, and your networking reveals new educational directions. Get creative despite financial tension this winter, before making a great discovery. Graduate to the next level.”

Georgia Nicols: “It’s almost magical how you are able to realize your dreams in this lifetime. This year is one of growth, construction and building. Initially, this growth will begin quietly, which is why you might not see major changes until next year. Do what you can strengthen your financial position and reduce your debt. You are building for your future!”

Eugenia Last: “Take advantage of any opportunities you get to experience something new. Getting involved in events, activities or groups that attract people from all walks of life will be enlightening. What you learn will help you adjust your life in order to reach your optimum goal. Business and personal partnerships look promising and will inspire you to do your best. Your numbers are 4, 9, 20, 24, 31, 33, 45.”

To put 11-0 in context

What a season so far for Stras! Explained well by ESPN:

WASHINGTON — Stephen Strasburg is all about the theme night.

On ’80s Night at Nationals Park, Strasburg became the first National League pitcher to begin the season 10-0 since Astros reliever Juan Agosto did it in 1988. He’s the first NL starter to accomplish the feat since 1985, when San Diego’s Andy Hawkins got off to an 11-0 start, ESPN Stats & Information points out.

To put Strasburg’s throwback thriving in context, the last time an NL starter got off to a 10-0 start, back in 1985, the 66-year-old Baker was wearing an Oakland Athletics uniform … as a player.

My three favorite commercials of the last year because why not

3. McDonald’s “Morning People” because of its outright D.C. love. The guy doing the spin in the Barnes Dance crosswalk at 7th and H Streets NW at the end of the commercial is the definition of District delight.

2. Nestle, “Acceptance Letter.” Is it dusty in here?

1. Dick’s Sporting Goods, “The Gift.” Destroys me every time. Said Ad Week, “The result is shamelessly manipulative in the best possible way. It’s deliberately unpretentious and ultimately incredibly sweet. ”

Something I didn’t know until now: The commercial stars a real family. After the daughter auditioned, they asked her to bring to her dad to the call-back. Then they added the rest of the family. Hats off.

Refulgent translation

The new Seamus Heaney translation of Aeneid, Book VI? I’m interested. We read the Aeneid in high school Latin, and Book VI was one of the high points. Aeneas joureys to the underworld to find his father.

“Seamus Heaney’s daughter finds this manuscript that connects her to her father,” said Ari Shapiro on NPR as he talked with our poetry reviewer about the book. “Her father wrote this manuscript in a way memorializing his father who had died. And the manuscript itself translates this thousands of years old story about this great adventure going into the underworld to meet his deceased father.”

The Guardian gives the translation good marks, in warm fashion.

There are two things this book requires. First, it is best read aloud – it comes thrillingly to life – it sounds tremendous. Second, it repays close reading. Studying it is to listen in on a poet with perfect pitch. Getting the diction right – so that the ancient is neither modern nor archaic – is the challenge. And Heaney shows that plain words are stormproofed. It is about more than George Orwell’s tired prescription: “Never use a long word where a short one will do.” It is about how plain language, like plain speaking, has integrity. And it is weight-bearing. It carries. When he introduces uncommon, eye-catching (sometimes longer) words – scaresome, asperging, hotbloods – they stand out but work harder against their plain backgrounds. Take the sighting of the golden bough. The word “refulgent” is strikingly charged, surrounded by “clear”, “green-leafed” and “cold”. Refulgent breaks Orwell’s rule and stands out like the golden branch itself.

The New Yorker excerpts a key (beautiful) passage.

Not inventing the selfie

I thought briefly, maybe, just once, I had invented the selfie. I was thinking of a time about 13 or so years ago, whenever we first had a digital camera at the beach, which is to say a lifetime ago. The people with me in the photos at the time couldn’t have been more confused. “You don’t want me to take a picture of you?”

Some of the photos make the time look at least 20 years ago. This child is clearly in high school, right? But, no, I wasn’t. Just skinny and clean-shaven. As a colleague from then said when seeing me recently, “You filled out!” Yes. But, no, I didn’t invent the selfie.

Northwestern kids in 1975 did, or didn’t (probably didn’t), using a trigger on a cord, spurring a yearbook feature that ran for decades. Even if they didn’t invent the selfie, their results were wonderful and true to the selfie spirit that lives today. Said a yearbook editor from 1980 to the alumni magazine: “It’s disarming, because you think, ‘Oh, it’s just a snapshot.’ But in fact, the photographer is working very, very hard to make it just what he wants it to be.”

This gallery of those shots makes my day. Personal favorites: the guy jumping out the window, the man with the Muppet lapel, the gang of greasers, and the girl in the laundry machine.

Good music comes along when you need it

Like two amazing Tiny Desk Concerts during two of my most frustrating days at work this spring. Sounds that get through to your soul and administer the right kind of electricity.

Anthony Hamilton.

Tedeschi Trucks Band.

On the last track above, Anyhow, I love the echoes of the Marshall Tucker Band’s Can’t You See (“what the woman, Lord, been doin’ to me.”) A cover keeps threatening to break out but never does. The riff wants to go somewhere new.