Just a Head’s-Up…

Next year is the 100th anniversary of the crossword puzzle. Start planning your relaxed, coffee-fueled, Saturday-morning celebrations now.

The Best-Written List of Lists You Will Read Today

Click on over to the New Yorker to read all hundred of the best lists of all time. And be sure to check out all great suggestions and quibbling in the comments:

How could you leave out _____ [interrobang]. It’s a travesty that _____ isn’t top five [frowny-face]. _____ is totally overrated [cartoon sweary glyphs]. (Those New Yorker readers, just like every other readership on the internet.)

From the list:

100. Generations of Adam (Genesis)*
99. Satchel Paige’s “How to Keep Young”
96. The World Rock Paper Scissors player’s responsibility code
94. Benjamin Franklin’s “Thirteen Virtues”
90. McDonald’s Big Mac-ingredients commercial
85. Stanley Coren’s dog-breed intelligence ranking
82. Maria Kutchera’s “My Favorite Things” (“The Sound Of Music”)
78. The Sporting News’ “Rules of Scientific Heckling”
77. Van Halen’s 1982 tour-provisions “rider”
70. William the Conqueror’s “The Domesday Book”
65. Guest List, The Marriage of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales with the Lady Diana Spencer
64. Vietnam Veterans Memorial
60. Roseanne Cash’s “The List”
57. Mayflower passenger list
55. Pablo Picasso’s “Recommendations for 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art”
52. Catholic Online’s Saints & Angels database
50. U.S. Department of State’s current travel warnings
49. 1927 Yankees’ opening-day lineup
44. George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Network Television”
41. The Dewey Decimal System
39. Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List”
36. The F.B.I.’s ten-most-wanted-fugitives list
35. The Beatles’ set list, Majestic Ballroom concert in Luton, U.K., April 17, 1963
31. Dow Jones Industrials
27. The UNESCO “World Heritage List”
25. The Apollo 11 surface checklist
21. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
19. The Fibonacci Sequence
17. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee?” (Sonnet 43)
16. Hasbro’s “2-Letter Scrabble Words List”
14. Dante Alighieri’s nine circles of Hell
11. Marquess of Queensbury Rules
9. The World Wildlife Fund (endangered) species directory
8. Alcoholics Anonymous’ twelve steps
4. The Ten Commandments
2. The Bill of Rights
1. The Periodic Table of Elements*

(Found at The New Yorker.)

Find Dennis Lehane’s Beagle, Become a Character in His Next Book

Dennis Lehane’s rescue beagle, Tessa, jumped their Brookline, Mass., fence this week and is “roaming through the wilds of Coolidge Corner.” If you find Tessa and return her, a character with your name will be featured in Mr. Lehane’s next novel.

Keep in mind that Mr. Lehane writes mysteries and pays attention to details, so he’ll see right through your scheme to substitute a look-alike dog in order to claim the reward.

(Found at The Atlantic Wire.)

Writing on Another Art: “Editing Obituaries”

I’m interested in what it’s like to write or to make kinds of things that I’ve never written or made before. Sometimes it’s the other art itself that fascinates, sometimes it’s seeing how the writer attempts to recreate in writing the experience of that other art.

Today that other art was the obituary, specifically Jnana Hodson writing about his experiences writing and editing obits.

There’s no room for error in the work, of course, or else families remember, their teeth on edge for decades. The work is repetitive–after all, the most important fact in every story is precisely the same. Family members submit manuscripts chockablock with illegible penmanship, factual errors, emotional whitewashing, outright deception, sap, and cliche. The tension in tone between elevated eulogy and bare-knuckles journalism is constant. Families want one sort of thing (a life story, a pleasant memory, the appearance of respectability), the audience of the morning paper want another (time and date of the memorial and maybe an offbeat or salacious detail), and future genealogists need still another (the place of birth, say, down to the name of the hospital).

Not much writing is as simple or straightforward while it’s happening as it becomes when it is finished, and this seems especially true of obituary. Still, writing obits comes across here as a workmanlike–a craftsmanlike–experience, and one that’s entirely absorbing to read about.

Please, read the whole essay at Jnana’s Red Barn.

Isabella Reads Her Lines

A look back at the famous women Eve Arnold photographed

Two quick thoughts: 1) How does she concentrate with photographers gazing at her from both sides? 2) Using your feet as a bookstand is probably a great way to keep your calves toned.

(Found at Behold.)