Tonight I went to my first Spanish class at Idlewild on Nineteenth Street. 7:30 to 9 P.M.. When I signed up for this class in November, shortly after I came back from spending a few weeks in Barcelona, I was flush with the joy of recent travel, and intent on injecting some novelty, intellectual and otherwise, into my life. I had an idea that I might try to make it back to Spain at the end of this year, and if that happened, I’d like to be able to do more than buy a few peaches without tripping over my tongue, or wanting to revert to French, the only other foreign language I know. And if that never happened, I would at least be doing something to forestall dementia. But as the intervening weeks, growing colder and darker, put more and more distance between me and that trip—I dreamed that, didn’t I?—I started to wonder why I’d done such a thing. It seemed as unnecessary and out of character as signing up for ten colonics through Groupon. But when, after the fifteen of us had gathered in a circle in the back of the store, and the teacher welcomed us in Spanish, something in me quickened in response to hearing the language. Maybe it was just sound as souvenir, but some sleeping dog in me perked up. Something similar had happened back in Barcelona, while standing in the La Central bookstore, looking at all the books I wanted to read but could not, feeling a strange urgency to get the key that would unlock what lay between those covers, a strange feeling that this was a language I needed to know deeper. Read More
I am buying Christopher Johnson’s Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little after reading Dwight Garner’s review in the New York Times. Johnson is a branding consultant (he worked at Lexicon Branding, a firm that has invented names such as Blackberry and Powerbook). “‘Feminine’ brand names,” he writes, “like Chanel, are often iambs; ‘masculine’ ones, like Black & Decker, tend to be trochees.” —Thessaly La Force
In an effort to reclaim my childhood, I dug up Edward Gorey’s The Epiplectic Bicycle: “It was the day after Tuesday and the day before Wednesday. Embley and Yewbert were hitting one another with croquet mallets.” Need I say more? —Eli Mandel
I picked up Sara Wheeler’s The Magnetic North for a brief respite from the city heat, but now I’m itching to hitch a ride on an ice breaker, wrangle up some reindeer, and embark upon that great milky abyss, the Arctic circle. —Mackenzie Beer
I just saw the documentary Page One, which was described to me as an “inside look at the production of The New York Times.” Really, it’s more of a riveting love letter to journalism. David Carr, the media columnist on whom the film focuses, is humorous, gritty, and lovable—exactly my idea of the perfect newspaperman. —Sophie Haigney
The winners of this year’s Bulwer-Lytton bad-sentence contest outdid themselves. My favorite: “As I stood among the ransacked ruin that had been my home, surveying the aftermath of the senseless horrors and atrocities that had been perpetrated on my family and everything I hold dear, I swore to myself that no matter where I had to go, no matter what I had to do or endure, I would find the man who did this . . . and when I did, when I did, oh, there would be words.” —Sadie Stein
In anticipation of John Berger’s Bento’s Sketchbook, I’ve been paging through I Send You This Cadmium Red, a book of correspondence between Berger and the artist John Christie. Their first letter is a painted square of color—the eponymous color, of course—which leads them to exchanges on everything from the blue of Yves Klein to the blue of Matisse. The accumulation is a monument to friendship, art, and the art of letter writing. —Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn
Continuum took two things that I love—music writing and books that fit in my back pocket—and put them together to make a series that is my favorite thing ever. I plan to get through all eighty-three books, each of which contains a critical discussion of one classic album. Up first for me was Nas’s Illmatic. Up next? Maybe My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. Or Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane over the Sea. —Cody Wiewandt
If book reviews could kill. Slate has three golden rules for reviewing. —Ali Pechman
Just in case anyone forgot, Splitsider reminds us of the sexual shenanigans on Friends. —C. W.
Watch all nine minutes of this video, where the life of a baby humpback whale is saved after it becomes dangerously entangled in a nylon fishing net. —T. L.