There's things I miss about living in a city. I do work in a city right now, although my only interaction is to drive in and out, and to fairly often walk down half a block to get lunch. That doesn't give much room for odd things to happen, although they sometimes will anyway, like the oil dripping from the ceiling. One of the little moments from walking about Manhattan was going past one of the many T-shirt vendors, who was hoping to encourage a person to buy shirts showing off the Statue of Liberty and the like. At the point my mother and I walked past, he said, ``Now this one is not the Canal Street special.'' We took another couple steps and then looked at each other and shrugged about how such a thing could be said.
Wholly unrelated: I ran across a review of The Nutcracker, a ballet which I've never seen I suppose because my parents evaluated holiday traditions on a case-by-case basis before including them in our lives. I have seen it parodied often, since it's almost as hard to dodge as It's A Wonderful Life parodies are, and some of those are great. I'm thinking particularly of SCTV's sketch ``Neil Simon's The Nutcracker Suite'' starring `Judd Hirsch', `Richard Dreyfus', and `Alan Alda'. I don't know what it does for Tchaikovsky, but I like what it does for Simon, Hirsch, Dreyfus, and Alda.
What I didn't know was a casual mention that the ballet was based on a story by ETA Hoffmann. Him I know, as I've read a smattering of the prototypes to science fiction from the 18th and 19th century and his name (Ernst Theodor Wilhelm) crops up there reliably. I had no idea; more, I'd never stopped to wonder where the story came from. That it came from a name I would recognize I really wouldn't have guessed.
Wikipedia incidentally notes that Hoffmann was ``a German Romantic author of fantasy and horror, a jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman, and caricaturist.'' I wouldn't have guessed the caricaturist part either. I'm always amazed by the things I never stopped to wonder.
Trivia: Thomas Hutchins and Andrew Ellicot's marker denoting the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, set in 1785, was only 23 feet west of the intended location. Source: The Fabric of America, Andro Linklater.
Currently Reading: The Age of Voltaire, Will and Ariel Durant.
(Oh, and look at that: 40 years ago today Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt was officially declared dead. He'd just kind of gone missing during a swim two days earlier. According to Wikipedia, the Coroner ruled he drowned in accidental circumstances. The Coroner ruled this on 2 September 2005. Interesting country.)