Saturday, May 28, 2005

The new tower of Babel

Ought Magazine is looking for a new home—possibly in this building.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Ice Age

Exclusive — Breaking American Idol Scandal — Ought Magazine reporters have discovered that American Idol runner-up Bo Bice, whose Skynyrdian swagger and Gayle-force mane captured over 5 trillion votes this season, barely needs to lift a finger in order to transform his name into "Bob Ice."

That is, short for "Robert Ice."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The ugly organ

This is, by some lights, the ugliest site ever.

The Gay 90s

Passing by Cleopatra's Needle after work—a restaurant on upper Broadway, serving up Middle Eastern cuisine and limpid jazz—we noticed a chalkboard easel outside, listing the evening's specials.

Someone had erased the second "m" in "Hommos."

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Quality control

We thank all our contributors, who scour the globe in search of lexical curiosities. We publish as many pieces as we can. Occasionally, however, even the best field reporter turns in a piece that just . . . doesn't . . . work.

Here's a recent example, of something that we call a "lapsed palindrome":

"This is so weird"
By [name withheld]

We were passing a bodega, our new copy of the new New York Review of Books atop our head serving as a makeshift brolly, when we overheard the cashier talking on the phone.

"No, I did. No, A.J. . . ."

We didn't stick around to hear the rest—it was raining—but those words haunted us. Why? It was only later, on the subway, while reading a piece in the NYRB on Terry Schiavo, that the connection was made.

The byline on the piece: Joan Didion.

Where am I?

Welcome, NYC Bloggers. If you're looking for our sister blog, The Dizzies, please find it at

Very best,
Your friends at Ought Magazine

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Corrections

From this Sunday's Times:

Because of a transcription error, an article last Sunday in Summer Movies, Part 2 of this section, about the director Don Roos rendered a word incorrectly in his comment about the use of onscreen titles in his film "Happy Endings." He said, "I love foreign films, which have a lot of signage in them" - not "porno films."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Naked is the best disguise

Nudity and untidy are anagrams.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Music Po!

A word website taught us this about the expression "po-faced"—we reproduce it here because it mentions a great friend of one of Ought's favorite authors, Anthony Powell.

"It’s actually quite a modern word, first recorded only in 1934 in the book Music Ho! by Constant Lambert, the British music critic and composer: 'I do not wish, when faced with exoticism, to adopt an attitude which can best be described by the admirable expression "po-faced". We cannot live perpetually in the rarefied atmosphere of the austerer classics'. Mr Lambert’s phrasing clearly suggests that the term was by then already well-known, though perhaps within a restricted group (it has the feel of public-school slang about it)."

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Posh spice

“The P&O Line* has always made much of the fact that it gave the word ‘posh’ to the English idiom. The word began life as a booking clerk’s term in the late nineteenth century; it meant Port Out-Starboard Home, and a wise traveler of the day stipulated this formula when booking his cabin to the east and back for it put him on the shaded side of the ship both ways, away from the fiercest heat of the day on the passage through Suez and the Red Sea. Posh became a word that did for the whole style of passage by P&O, and it was the sort of style which the North Atlantic, so vulgarly competitive on various levels of ostentation, never really achieved, except perhaps in the White Star ships, which in their day were much more the gentleman’s way than even the genteel though less fashionable Cunarders were. They were floating country houses rather than floating hotels, offering the same impeccable protocols and mannered informality, and this was very much the tone of the P&O.”

—Noël Mostert, Supership (1974)

*Editors' note: “P&O” was short for “Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company”