Putter Patter Silver Platter

Hugh Hefner plans to auction off his black books. Among the entries? “Big blonde from ‘Wild Women of Wongo.'”

Brian Stillman remembers Hal Clement.

Stories from Eric Kraft at The Hamptons.

Life working at B&N (via Maud).

Sad news from Ohio: Almost half of the third-graders failed a reading test, with a wide gap in race. And in Scotland, half of the 14 year-olds failed a national writing test. Writing of an altogether different sort might be in the horizon for NYC subways.

And a comparative oldie, but a goodie: J.M. Coetzee’s Nobel speech.

[1/20/06 UPDATE: What I didn’t know at the time was that The Wild Women of Wongo was a bona-fide film directed by James L. Wolcott (no relation as far as I know to the blogger) and not a secret codeword at all. This Wolcott, apparently born in 1907, is still alive. But which of the blondes did Hugh Hefner bed? Further, the black book question raises other issues, such as whether other celebrities’ black books are worth auctioning. And is Hef’s black book the closest we get to Casanova’s memoirs?]

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  1. One study of university students found that 40% could not place the Civil War in the correct half-century. Only 37% knew that the Battle of the Bulge took place during World War II. A national test of high school seniors found that 57% performed “below basic” level in American history. What does that mean? Well, over half of those tested couldn’t say whom we fought in World War II. Eighteen percent believed that the Germans were our allies! — article in OpinionJournal, via A&L Daily

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