Without further ado, the quincunx. This tweet from Aitor García Rey sent me off in a spiral of feverish discovery: “Today I learned the layout used to represent 5 in a dice (⁙) has a name: quincunx. In fact, the pattern appears in many disciplines ranging from horticulture, architecture and tattooing to vexillology, heraldry and even graphics processing (antialiasing). Quincunxes everywhere!”
That led me to this chain which goes from here:
“oh my… ‘Within the transverse square is a pattern known as a quincunx’ The #Quincunx was obsessed over by Thomas Browne, and that duly bifurcated into another obsession - Borges’s Garden of Forking Paths!” (@mrprudence)
A lot of forks to follow there, but none of it told me about the origin and derivation of the term. For that, Wikipedia’s sources lent a hand. First, of course, it was a Roman coin that sometimes used that pattern: “originally a coin issued by the Roman Republic c. 211–200 BC, whose value was five twelfths (quinque and uncia) of an as, the Roman standard bronze coin. On the Roman quincunx coins, the value was sometimes indicated by a pattern of five dots or pellets. However, these dots were not always arranged in a quincunx pattern.” Later, in the 1600’s, it also became known as or used as a pattern for planting trees. Nowadays, it refers to that five dot cross pattern (⁙) most often found on the 5-side of a die. And is a hell of an awesome word.
There are no some small roles in the Mario Universe. The Supper Mario Broth blog features the obscurest corners of Super Mario Land. I’m sure you already knew that Bowser had a mom. We all come from somewhere. But did you know the one time she makes an appearance in the canonical Mario and Luigi game universe?
“The 1994 CD-ROM re-release of Mario’s Time Machine, known as Mario’s Time Machine Deluxe, features the only appearance of Bowser’s mother in a Mario game. She is a librarian in charge of the game’s reference texts.” (@MarioBrothBlog)
Ursula LeGuin’s writing routine. I relate to a lot of this.
I love seeing this and it led me to sketch out what my day looks like. I’m most regimented and ritualized from 5:30 am to about 9:00 am, and then looser from there. I’ll spare you the minutiae for now, but different parts of the day are definitely better for different things for me. I can do short, focused, relatively mindless or straightforward things in the mornings. I seem to do best with whole heart and mind tasks that involved discernment, judgment, and brave experimentation, from 2-5. I can sneak trumpet practice sessions in just about any time throughout the day.
Seeing LeGuin’s routine sent me off on a hunt for more context around other writers - particularly Graham Greene because the factoid everyone seems to know is that he wrote 500 words a day, religiously (ha) but there’s not much context that goes along with that. A few finds:
It’s entirely true that he wrote that way through his entire life as a writer.
He really did want to just write to his target and be done. He tried to get it all out of the way in the morning and as soon as he hit his target number, stopped even if he was in the middle of a scene. “He was asked if he was “a nine-till-five man.” “No,” Greene replied. “Good heavens, I would say I was a nine-till-a-quarter-past-ten man.” (from a post on Routine Matters)
When he started to write to 300 a day, he would mark little x’s after each 300 word burst.
He varied the number, as much as 700 when he was trying to bang a novel out, but tailed down to as few as a few hundred a day as he got older.
He kept a dream diary but rarely did it serve as material for his work. “Only once,” he says. “I was working on a book called ‘A Burnt-Out Case’ and was having trouble with it and had a very bad block. I was passing through Rome at the time. And I had a dream which was not my dream but was the dream of my character. Directly I woke up I knew it was what he had dreamt, and it fitted in to the book, and the book went on afterwards.” (from In the World of Graham Greene by Charles Trueheart in the Washington Post, 1988)
I uncovered so much more on this (and on Graham Greene some of which was unpleasant to learn), but that’s more than enough to invite your own explorations.
It is not weird to have to get your clothes adjusted at a tailor’s, even your cheapo ones.
There were so many good bananas this week, even more than I have shared here. I even meant to make this a shorty to save your eyes, but failed. I hope you don’t mind the overflow.
Those are this week’s crop of bananas. Thank you. And thanks to everyone who dropped me a note last week, who did in fact confirm that if you hit reply it will go only to me. I love hearing from you. And same applies this week.