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I'm sure happy that the Kavanaugh deal is behind us.

I think we should bring "groovy" back into the lexicon!

Your book review reminds me of what I am reading, An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. This book was published in 1925, so is older. I can't say I'm not enjoying it at all, or I would put it down. But I am about 250 pages in, of an almost 900 page mass market paperback, and unsure whether the time left to spend with Clyde Griffiths is really worth it.

Which brings me to the question of what makes a book a classic that stays in print? Algren may no longer be in print, although that book (and movie) are famous enough that I had hear of them and knew "golden arm" referred to a heroin addiction.

When I re-read novels from the 18th and 19th century I feel much more enthusiastic about them than a lot of works of the 20th century, other than authors that I already love (P. Roth, S. Bellow, J. Irving, M. Atwood, etc.).

I stand corrected! Just looked at Amazon and there is a lot of Alren in print. Someone other than you is reading this guy. :)

"Groovy" actually is still in the lexicon, but in an ironic way, specifically about '60s stuff. I heard somebody say that a place was decorated in a "groovy" style, meaning that it was '60s-retro.

It occurred to me to wonder if Flannery O'Connor read Algren, since he was a big name in her day. So I checked and his name occurs several times in the index to her letters. The first one, August 1955, says she's reading "this book of Algren's", so I don't know whether it's Golden Arm or not. "I have read almost 200 pages so far. I don't think he is a good writer. This may be a hasty judgment and I suspect the book as a whole has an impact." And so on.

I was talking to my kids last evening about the word "square", as in "He's a real square." They didn't know what it mean. So I said, "It is the opposite of cool." Then they got it. Then we talked about the phrase, "Be there or be square." They use it correctly, but they didn't really know what it means.

Some of the reason for the demand that women be believed has to be a result of the Department of Education Title IX rules re campus sexual assault -- in a new piece in The Atlantic:

Many Democrats, in keeping with #BelieveSurvivors, are taking their certainty about Ford’s account and extrapolating it to all accounts of all accusers. This tendency has campus echoes, too: The Obama administration’s well-intended activism on campus sexual assault resulted in reforms that went too far and failed to protect the rights of the accused.

The impulse to arrive at a predetermined conclusion is familiar to Samantha Harris, a vice president at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Harris says that under Title IX, students who report that they are victims of sexual misconduct must be provided with staffers who advocate on their behalf. These staffers should “hear them out, believe them, and help them navigate the process,” she said, but added, “When the instruction to ‘believe them’ extends to the people who are actually adjudicating guilt or innocence, fundamental fairness is compromised.”

There's been a lot of hooraw about that in the conservative press over the past few years. Seems to be a real problem. I'm a little surprised to see The Atlantic taking it seriously this way. Usually the Democratic press (which TA mostly is) treats any objection as "Republicans want to make it easier for sexual predators to escape punishment."

Funny about "square," Robert. A good example of a term that didn't really survive while its opposite did. There was an interesting use of "square" in Man With the Golden Arm that I should have marked, because I can't remember exactly how it went now. I think it was similar to the square-vs-cool usage, but with at least a suggestion of law-abiding-vs-criminal.

There was an 80's song called by Huey Lewis called "It's Hip to Be Square," which is as bad as it sounds.

One of the more forgettable bands of the period.


Hey, I kind of like "It's Hip to be Square"!

Let every reader judge for himself:


I wonder if the term 'square' was invented by marketing men and used only irl by the most naive and adolescent people of that era

I liked Huey Lewis too back in the day. They played "Grad Night" at Disney World when I attended with my high school class back in 1984! Silly and catchy music.

In my day (said the old man) we didn't say "square," except maybe ironically. There were freaks and straights but that was a whole cultural-political divide, more than just cool and not-cool--early days of the culture war.

It's interesting that both the pejoratives used by the hip and cool against the non- are words that suggest genuine, honest, reliable, and the like. Square deal, straight story.

My Facebook name is Thomas Square. He is a character from the book Tom Jones.

I've been saying "Groovy" to people this week as much as possible. I think it's catching on!

So that's you! I've been ignoring that friend request.

If "groovy" comes back into common usage, I'll give you credit.

I think it's interesting that "freak out" is now pretty much a standard figure of speech for most people now. "Far out," though, which was actually more popular than "cool" at one time or in some circles, hasn't really survived as a general term of approval.

Grumpy as Ever, the Oxford dictionary gives this as the first use of "square" to mean "a person considered to hold conventional or old-fashioned views": "1944 Sun (Baltimore) 27 Jan. 10/5 Square, in musician's jargon, anyone who is not cognizant of the beauties of true jazz."

So maybe the music-related sense was the original.

I wonder if it had something to do with time signatures.


I don't know.

Just found this in the Online Etymology Dictionary:

Sense of "old-fashioned" is 1944, U.S. jazz slang, said to be from shape of a conductor's hand gestures in a regular four-beat rhythm. Square-toes meant nearly the same thing late 18c.: "precise, formal, old-fashioned person," from the style of men's shoes worn early 18c. and then fallen from fashion.


Yes, it is.

I hope you're all ok in Mobile, after Hurricane Michael hit Florida.

Thanks, we're perfectly fine. It didn't even rain. Wouldn't even have known there was a hurricane if we didn't have modern communications.

Re "square": I just noticed that in something I'm writing I used the term "squared-off" as a description of rhythm: "The hymns were the old squared-off marching Protestant hymns."

Certainly different from (opposite to?) jazz rhythms.

Glad to hear it.

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