The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

The three boys moved hesitantly down the wide center aisle, their steps ringing out on the flagstone floor.1 The golden domes that arched above their heads kept their splendor hidden in the gloom, and in between the tall marble pillars that supported them the boys felt as small as insects. Instinctively, they moved closer together.

“Where are the confessionals?” Mosca whispered, looking uneasily around him. “I haven’t been in here very often. I don’t like churches. They’re creepy.”

“I know they are,” Scipio replied. He pushed the mask back onto his face and led the way as purposefully as one of the Basilica’s tourist guides. The confessionals were tucked away in one of the side aisles. The first one on the left looked no different from the others. It was a tall box made from black wood, draped with dark red curtains and with a door in the middle2, which the priest used for slipping into the tiny space behind. Inside, he would sit down on a narrow bench, put his ear to a small window, and listen to all who wanted to tell him their sins and clear their conscience.3

Of course there was also a curtain on the side of the confessional to protect the sinners from curious eyes. Scipio now pushed this curtain aside, adjusting his mask one last time and clearing his throat nervously. The Thief Lord tried very hard to pretend that he was coolness itself,4 but Prosper and Mosca, as they followed him behind the curtain,5 sensed that his heart was beating just as fast as theirs.

Scipio hesitated as his eye fell on the low bench half hidden in the darkness, but then he kneeled down on it. The small window was now level with his eyes and he could be seen by whoever sat on the other side. Prosper and Mosca stood behind him like bodyguards. Scipio just knelt there, waiting.6

[Source]

Daredevil #10 by Charles Soule

Introducers: The two introducing phrases before the main idea of “it’s not very big.” This changes the connection that the reader makes between the two ideas and surprises them at the end of the sentence, because everyone considers New York to be huge. The introducers delay this unexpected statement for the readers and makes it more unexpected as Matt talks about how New York is important to the world.
Introducers: The two introducing phrases before the main idea of “it’s not very big.” This changes the connection that the reader makes between the two ideas and surprises them at the end of the sentence, because everyone considers New York to be huge. The introducers delay this unexpected statement for the readers and makes it more unexpected as Matt talks about how New York is important to the world.
“But the way the neighborhoods work” begins a sentence with a conjunction, “But”. Starting a sentence with a conjunction is much more colloquial and gives us the sense of this being his thoughts
“But the way the neighborhoods work” begins a sentence with a conjunction, “But”. Starting a sentence with a conjunction is much more colloquial and gives us the sense of this being his thoughts
“Until this guy” fragment. This fragment here builds the sense of Matt’s inner thoughts and personality. But since the fragment is separated in a different panel as well, creating more separation than just a period, the emphasis is stronger and the pause is strengthened.
“Until this guy” fragment. This fragment here builds the sense of Matt’s inner thoughts and personality. But since the fragment is separated in a different panel as well, creating more separation than just a period, the emphasis is stronger and the pause is strengthened.

daredevil 4 daredevil 5

“New York City is alive. And living things change.” The decision to use a period instead a comma strengthens the separation of these sentences, while keeping the “and” connects the ideas. The overall effect is to create a sense of thoughts building off each other, connected but not thought immediately together.
“New York City is alive. And living things change.” The decision to use a period instead a comma strengthens the separation of these sentences, while keeping the “and” connects the ideas. The overall effect is to create a sense of thoughts building off each other, connected but not thought immediately together.
The ellipses that connect this panel to the last one from “For example…” to “…this flagpole” give the reader the pacing that Soule wants, as Matt starts the thought in one moment of action and finishes it after searching for an example in the next panel.
The ellipses that connect this panel to the last one from “For example…” to “…this flagpole” give the reader the pacing that Soule wants, as Matt starts the thought in one moment of action and finishes it after searching for an example in the next panel.

daredevil 8 daredevil 9 daredevil 10 daredevil 11 daredevil 12

Ellipses: this is one continuous thought that doesn’t require any punctuation in the middle, but the added ellipses draws out the thought and makes it more dramatic.
Ellipses: this is one continuous thought that doesn’t require any punctuation in the middle, but the added ellipses draws out the thought and makes it more dramatic.

daredevil 14

daredevil 15 daredevil 16

The repetition of “He didn’t” emphasizes the irony of the situation as Matt keeps his secret identity from Sam and pretends to not have the radar sense or his powers to keep the lie going, but the readers know that Matt and Daredevil are the same person.
The repetition of “He didn’t” emphasizes the irony of the situation as Matt keeps his secret identity from Sam and pretends to not have the radar sense or his powers to keep the lie going, but the readers know that Matt and Daredevil are the same person.

daredevil 18

Subordinating clause “when I introduced her to you” adverbial clause that reminds the readers why Sam had a cast while the prepositional phrase “in a fit of utter idiocy” adds Matt’s frustrations about the situation and gives the reader a sense of Matt’s personality and inner turmoil about helping Sam become Blindspot. "The hero game’s addictive": this contraction is uncommon in written text, but very colloquial in the spoken word. This contraction makes Daredevil’s thoughts more accessible to the reader and informal.
Subordinating clause “when I introduced her to you” adverbial clause that reminds the readers why Sam had a cast while the prepositional phrase “in a fit of utter idiocy” adds Matt’s frustrations about the situation and gives the reader a sense of Matt’s personality and inner turmoil about helping Sam become Blindspot.
“The hero game’s addictive”: this contraction is uncommon in written text, but very colloquial in the spoken word. This contraction makes Daredevil’s thoughts more accessible to the reader and informal.

daredevil 20

The participial phrase “training with Stick” specifies and explains what Matt means by being in Sam’s place, implying that “his place” is the state of being new to being a hero.
The participial phrase “training with Stick” specifies and explains what Matt means by being in Sam’s place, implying that “his place” is the state of being new to being a hero.
Starting conjunction: “But I didn’t like to listen,” connects the two ideas of Matt hearing but not listening while separating them in the mind of the reader so the fact that the second sentence came as an after thought triggered by the first is conveyed to the reader with the punctuation.
Starting conjunction: “But I didn’t like to listen,” connects the two ideas of Matt hearing but not listening while separating them in the mind of the reader so the fact that the second sentence came as an after thought triggered by the first is conveyed to the reader with the punctuation.

daredevil 23

“you want to break the rules,” is a subordinating clause missing the subordinating conjunction “if”. This missing word makes Matt’s thoughts feel more natural since no one thinks in formal, perfect grammar. The addition of the ellipses before the rest of the clause, (also missing a clause) dramatizes the irony of the statement and gives the effect of Matt delivering the punch line of a joke.
“you want to break the rules,” is a subordinating clause missing the subordinating conjunction “if”. This missing word makes Matt’s thoughts feel more natural since no one thinks in formal, perfect grammar. The addition of the ellipses before the rest of the clause, (also missing a clause) dramatizes the irony of the statement and gives the effect of Matt delivering the punch line of a joke.

A Short History of the Jewish Fist Fighter by Markus Zusak

His favorite fight, now that he looked back, was Fight Number Five against a tall, tough, rangy kid named Walter Kugler. They were fifteen.7 Walter had won all four of their previous encounters, but this time, Max could feel something different.2 There was new blood in him—the blood of victory—and it had the capability both to frighten and excite.3

As always, there was a tight circle crowded around them. There was grubby ground. There were smiles practically wrapped around the on looking faces. Money was clutched in filthy fingers, and the class were filled with such vitality that there was nothing else but this.

God, there was such joy and fear there, such brilliant commotion.

The two fighters were clenched with the intensity of the moment, their faces loaded up with expression,4 exaggerated with the stress of it.5 The wide-eyed concentration.6

After a minute or so of testing each other out, they began moving closer and taking more risks. It was a street fight after all, not an hour-long title fight. They didn’t have all day.

“Come on Max!” one of his friends was calling out.” There was no breath between any of the words. “Come on, Maxi Taxi, you’ve got him now, you’ve got him, Jew-Boy, you’ve got him!”7

A small kid with soft tufts of hair, a beaten nose, and swampy eyes, Max was a good head shorter than his opposition. His fighting style was utterly graceless, all bent over nudging forward, throwing fast punches at the face of Kugler. The other boy, clearly stronger and more skillful, remained upright, throwing jabs that constantly landed on Max’s cheeks and chin.

Max kept coming.8

Chapter 2: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

“I have a problem, Miss Everdeen,” says President Snow. “A problem that began the moment you pulled out those poisonous berries in the arena.”

That was the moment when I guessed that if the Gamemakers had to choose between watching Peeta and me commit suicide — 9  which would mean having no victor — and letting us both live, they would take the latter.

 “If the Head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane, had had any brains, he’d have blown you to dust right then. 2 But he had an unfortunate sentimental streak. 3 So here you are. Can you guess where he is?” he asks.

I nod because 4 , by the way he says it, it’s clear that Seneca Crane has been executed. The smell of roses and blood has grown stronger now that only a desk separates us. There’s a rose in President Snow’s lapel, which at least suggests a source of the flower perfume, but it must be genetically enhanced, because no real rose reeks like that. As for the blood … 5 I don’t know.

6 “After that, there was nothing to do but let you play out your little scenario. And you were pretty good, too, with the love-crazed schoolgirl bit. The people in the Capitol were quite convinced. Unfortunately, not everyone in the districts fell for your act,” he says.

My face must register at least a flicker of bewilderment, because he addresses it.

“This, of course, you don’t know. You have no access to information about the mood in other districts. In several of them, however, people viewed your little trick with the berries as an act of defiance, not an act of love. 7 And if a girl from District Twelve of all places can defy the Capitol and walk away unharmed, what is to stop them from doing the same?” he says. “What is to prevent, say, an uprising?”

It takes a moment for his last sentence to sink in. Then the full weight of it hits me. “There have been uprisings?” I ask, both chilled and somewhat elated by the possibility.

[source]

Mrs. Dalloway — Virginia Woolf

“Yes,” said Peter. “Yes, yes, yes,” he said, as if she drew up to the surface something which positively hurt him as it rose. Stop! Stop! he wanted to cry. For8 he was not old; his life was not over; not by any means 2. He was only just past fifty. Shall I tell her, he thought 3, or not? He would like to make a clean breast of it all. But4 she is too cold, he thought; sewing, with her scissors;5 Daisy would look ordinary beside Clarissa. And she would think me a failure, which I am in their sense, he thought; in the Dalloways’ sense6. Oh yes, he had no doubt about that; he was a failure, compared with all this—7the inlaid table, the mounted paper-knife, the dolphin and8 the candlesticks, the chair-covers and the old valuable English tinted prints—9he was a failure! I detest the smugness of the whole affair, he thought. Richard’s doing not Clarissa’s; 10 save that she married him. (11Here Lucy came into the room, carrying silver, more silver12, but charming, slender graceful she looked, he thought, as she stooped to put it down.) And this had been going on all the time! he thought; week after week; Clarissa’s life; while I—13he thought; and at once everything seemed to radiate from him; journeys; riders; quarrels; adventures; bridge parties; love affairs; work; work, work!14 and he took out his knife quite openly—his old horn-handled knife which Clarissa could swear he had had these thirty years 15 – and clenched his fist upon it.

What an extraordinary habit that was, Clarissa thought 16; always playing with a knife. Always making one feel, too, frivolous; empty-minded; a mere silly chatterbox, as he used 17 summoned, like a Queen whose guards have fallen asleep and left her unprotected (18 she had been quite taken aback by this visit – it had upset her) so that any one can stroll in and have a look at her where she lies with the brambles curbing over her, summoned19 to her help 20 the things she did; the things she liked; her husband; Elizabeth; her self, in short, which Peter hardly knew now, all to come about her and beat off the enemy.

On Running After One’s Hat by G.K. Chesterton

I feel an almost savage envy on hearing that London has been flooded in my absence, while I am in the mere country21. My own Battersea has been, I understand, particularly favoured as a meeting of the waters. Battersea was already, as I need hardly say2, the most beautiful of human localities. Now that it has the additional splendour of great sheets of water, there must be something quite incomparable in the landscape (or waterscape) of my own romantic town. Battersea must be a vision of Venice. The boat that brought the meat from the butcher’s must have shot along those lanes of rippling silver with the strange smoothness of the gondola. The greengrocer who brought cabbages to the corner of the Latchmere Road must have leant upon the oar with the unearthly grace of the gondolier. There is nothing so perfectly poetical as an island;3 and when a district is flooded it becomes an archipelago.

 

Some consider such romantic views of flood or fire slightly lacking in reality. But really this romantic view of such inconveniences is quite as practical as the other. The true optimist who sees in such things an opportunity for enjoyment is quite as logical and much more sensible than the ordinary “Indignant Ratepayer” who sees in them an opportunity for grumbling. Real pain, as in the case of being burnt at Smithfield or having a toothache, is a positive thing; it can be supported, but scarcely enjoyed. But, after all, our toothaches are the exception, and as for being burnt at Smithfield, it only happens to us at the very longest intervals4. And most of the inconveniences that make men swear or women cry are really sentimental or imaginative inconveniences—things altogether of the mind. For instance, we often hear grown-up people complaining of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train. Did you ever hear a small boy complain of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train? No; for to him to be inside a railway station is to be inside a cavern of wonder and a palace of poetical pleasures. Because to him the red light and the green light on the signal are like a new sun and a new moon. Because to him when the wooden arm of the signal falls down suddenly, it is as if a great king had thrown down his staff as a signal and started a shrieking tournament of trains. I myself am of little boys’ habit in this matter. They also serve who only stand and wait for the two fifteen. Their meditations may be full of rich and fruitful things. Many of the most purple hours of my life have been passed at Clapham Junction, which is now, I suppose, under water. I have been there in many moods so fixed and mystical that the water might well have come up to my waist before I noticed it particularly. But in the case of all such annoyances, as I have said5, everything depends upon the emotional point of view. You can safely apply the test to almost every one of the things that are currently talked of as the typical nuisance of daily life.

For instance, there is a current impression that it is unpleasant to have to run after one’s hat. Why should it be unpleasant to the well-ordered and pious mind? Not merely because it is running, and 6 running exhausts one. The same people run much faster in games and sports. The same people run much more eagerly after an uninteresting, little leather ball than they will after a nice silk hat. There is an idea that it is humiliating to run after one’s hat; and when people say it is humiliating they mean that it is comic. It certainly is comic; but man is a very comic creature, and most of the things he does are comic—eating, for instance. And the most comic things of all are exactly the things that are most worth doing—such as making love. A man running after a hat is not half so ridiculous as a man running after a wife.

Now a man could, if he felt rightly in the matter, run after his hat with the manliest ardour and the most sacred joy. He might regard himself as a jolly huntsman pursuing a wild animal, for certainly no animal could be wilder. In fact, I am inclined to believe that hat-hunting on windy days will be the sport of the upper classes in the future. There will be a meet of ladies and gentlemen on some high ground on a gusty morning. They will be told that the professional attendants have started a hat in such-and-such a thicket, or whatever be the technical term. Notice that this employment will in the fullest degree combine sport with humanitarianism. The hunters would feel that they were not inflicting pain. Nay, they would feel that they were inflicting pleasure, rich, almost riotous pleasure, upon the people who were looking on. When last I saw an old gentleman running after his hat in Hyde Park, I told him that a heart so benevolent as his ought to be filled with peace and thanks at the thought of how much unaffected pleasure his every gesture and bodily attitude were at that moment giving to the crowd.

The same principle can be applied to every other typical domestic worry. A gentleman trying to get a fly out of the milk or a piece of cork out of his glass of wine often imagines himself to be irritated. Let him think for a moment of the patience of anglers sitting by dark pools, and let his soul be immediately irradiated with gratification and repose. Again, I have known some people of very modern views driven by their distress to the use of theological terms to which they attached no doctrinal significance, merely because a drawer was jammed tight and they could not pull it out. A friend of mine was particularly afflicted in this way. Every day his drawer was jammed, and every day in consequence it was something else that rhymes to it. But I pointed out to him that this sense of wrong was really subjective and relative; it rested entirely upon the assumption that the drawer could, should, and would come out easily. “But if,” I said, “you picture to yourself that you are pulling against some powerful and oppressive enemy, the struggle will become merely exciting and not exasperating. Imagine that you are tugging up a lifeboat out of the sea. Imagine that you are roping up a fellow-creature out of an Alpine crevass. Imagine even that you are a boy again and engaged in a tug-of-war between French and English.” Shortly after saying this I left him; but I have no doubt at all that my words bore the best possible fruit. I have no doubt that every day of his life he hangs on to the handle of that drawer with a flushed face and eyes bright with battle, uttering encouraging shouts to himself7, and seeming to hear all round him the roar of an applauding ring.

So8 I do not think that it is altogether fanciful or incredible to suppose that even the floods in London may be accepted and enjoyed poetically. Nothing beyond inconvenience seems really to have been caused by them; and inconvenience, as I have said, is only one aspect, and that the most unimaginative and accidental aspect of a really romantic situation. An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. The water that girdled the houses and shops of London must, if anything, have only increased their previous witchery and wonder. For as the Roman Catholic priest in the story said: “Wine is good with everything except water,” and on a similar principle, water is good with everything except wine.

 

Source: http://essays.quotidiana.org/chesterton/running_after_ones_hat/

Letter of Recommendation: ‘Pinky and the Brain’ by Jonah Weiner

“Pinky and the Brain,” a cartoon that aired for half of the 1990s 9, is a three-chord kind of show, as bound by formal constraints as they come. Before spinning off into its own half-hour slot 2, the series began life as the best thing about “Animaniacs,” an exuberantly unhinged variety cartoon executive-produced by Steven Spielberg and packed with non-sequitur punch lines, meta-level laughs and so many showbiz in-jokes that you could forget this was a show nominally made for kids 3. “Pinky and the Brain” stood out for its ingenuity and extreme economy. The show has only two recurring characters to speak of — the talking lab mice of the title — 4 and precisely one plot, set into motion in the opening moments of each installment with the same 23 words: “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?” “The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world.”

 

That the mice will deploy some scheme for world domination is the lone narrative motor, and that their failure is guaranteed provides not only the inevitable third-act kicker but also the condition of the show’s continued existence: a reset button that returns the mice to the lab to plot again. The pair is at once idiosyncratic and archetypal, in a vaudevillian kind of way. Brain is a hyperintelligent, short-tempered straight man voiced by a guy doing a stentorian Orson Welles impression; Pinky is daffy and sweet and speaks in an over-the-top Cockney accent 5.

They are given no back story beyond a stray line in the theme song (“Their genes have been spliced”), and they learn no lessons by episode’s end. Characterization takes the form, instead, of kid-friendly, broken-record repetition 6. In every episode, while unveiling the plan at hand, Brain will ask Pinky, “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”–a question so ritualized that fans refer to it by “AYPWIP”–to which Pinky will offer a reliably outré response. “I think so, Brain, but I can’t memorize a whole opera in Yiddish.” “I think so, Brain, but Pete Rose? I mean, can we trust him?” “I think so, but Kevin Costner with an English accent?”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/06/magazine/letter-of-recommendation-pinky-and-the-brain.html?_r=0

Don’t move to Canada. Stay and fight. by Michael Krikorian

No one’s moving anywhere. My friends Dahlia and Chris aren’t going to Mexico, and 7 Alexis is not going to Copenhagen. My gal Nancy’s not permanently packing up and moving to Umbria, and Duke is not moving to Thailand with his cousin Jake.

And2 you?  You aren’t going wherever the heck you say you are moving to now that Donald Trump is going to be president of the United States of America.

What we all do is this:3 We stay and fight.First, we wait and see. Even Hillary Clinton said Wednesday, “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”

But4 if we don’t like what happens, we fight it. We5 take to the streets and rekindle memories of the anti-Vietnam War protests and civil rights marches. We don’t run and hice.6 We don’t abandon America.

I feel, strangely, not what I thought I would “the morning after.” I’m more patriotic than I was yesterday. More in love with my country than I have since, I guess, Sept. 11, 2001.

As my old friend Aqeela Sherrills, a longtime Watts gang interventionist and community activist said in a Facebook post Wednesday: “There’s a gift in every tragedy…   A Trump victory is an opportunity, if your like me, I do my best work under pressure. Don’t go to Canada or where ever you thinking, The U.S. is ours! and no President, Senate, Congress or White House will tell me otherwise!… lets go to work!”

The country our parents,7 uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents fought for is sliding around a hairpin turn, but it hasn’t crashed.

Yesterday, a guy I know from the streets showed me a knife he had in his waistband. A killing knife.8 It made me think of “Saving Private Ryan”and a brutal, achingly sad scene:  room-to-room fighting, a German soldier slowly pushing a killing knife into the chest of an American soldier.

What happened Tuesday doesn’t compare to those days. Everyone walking around like it’s the end of civilization now that Trump is in? It’s not. We’ve been through far worse. A perceived threat is not as bad as a punch in the face.

I was on a text thread Tuesday night that included several millennials. It started with how wonderful the election was going turn out: the first woman president, the rejection of hateful talk.

[source]

Diagnosing and Treating The Ophelia Syndrome By Thomas G. Plummer

The Ophelia 9 Syndrome manifests itself in universities. The Ophelia (substitute a male name if you choose) 2 writes copious notes in every class and memorizes them for examinations. The Polonius writes examination questions that address just what was covered in the textbook or lectures. The Ophelia wants to know exactly what the topic for a paper should be. The Polonius prescribes it. The Ophelia wants to be a parrot, because it feels safe. The Polonius 3 enjoys making parrot cages. In the end, the Ophelia becomes the clone of the Polonius, and one of them is unnecessary. I worry often that universities may be rendering their most serious students, those who have been “good” 4 all their lives, vulnerable to the Ophelia Syndrome rather than motivating them to individuation.

And so what? 5 Is it such a bad thing to emulate teachers? What if you are a student of biochemistry or German grammar? 6 Then you have to memorize information and take notes from instructors who know more, because the basic material is factual. There is no other way. 7 And this is a temporary condition of many areas of study. But eventually every discipline enters into the unknown, the uncertain, the theoretical, the hypothetical, where teachers can no longer tell students with certainty what they should think. 8 It is only an illusion, a wish of the Ophelias and the Poloniuses that literary texts have just one interpretation or that the exact sciences be exact. At its best, even science is a creative art. Hayakawa quotes his good friend Alfred Korzybski as saying,

Creative scientists know very well from observation of themselves that all creative work starts as a feeling, inclination, suspicion, intuition, hunch, or some other nonverbal affective state, which only at a later date, after a sort of nursing, takes the shape of verbal expression worked out later in a rationalized, coherent . . . theory. 9

Most of us have metaphors—either subconsciously or consciously—of our student experience. 10 I asked several of my students about theirs. One said he thinks of himself as a computer with insufficient memory. He is able to enter information but cannot recall it. One said he is a sieve. A lot of stuff goes right on through, but important pieces stay lodged. One said she feels like a pedestrian in front of a steamroller, and the driver will not give her any hints about how to get out of the way. Another described his metaphor as a tennis match in which he must anticipate his instructor‟s response to each shot. Another thought of herself as a dog jumping through a hoop. Another described himself as a mouse in a maze with no directional signs and no exits. Another as a child in a candy store where you can choose only one or two pieces to take home. These metaphors describe people at various stages along the way from Ophelia to individuation.

Talk is cheap. It‟s fine to say, “Learn to think for yourself,” and it‟s quite another to do it. A recent Fortune magazine article described the plight of middle managers in American corporations. Driven by chief executive officers at the top for greater profits and productivity, many are working 70 or 80 hours a week and sometimes more. The article reports that the corporate byword for urging these people on is “think smarter.” But since no one really knows what that means or how to think smarter, they just work longer. And people are burning out. 11

Learning to think while still in college has its advantages. It may mean shorter working hours later on. It may mean not having a mid-life crisis because you chose to study what you wanted rather than something that someone else wanted you to study. It may mean becoming your own person. 12 It may, purely and simply, 13 mean a much happier life. I want to suggest six things you can do—six things I wish I had done—to treat the Ophelia Syndrome.

[source]

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

Harry Gold was right: 14 This is a big story.  It’s the story of the creation—and theft—of the deadliest weapon ever invented.2  The scenes speed around the world, from secret labs to commando raids to street-corner spy meetings.3 But like most big stories, this one starts small.4  Let’s pick up the action sixteen years before FBI agents cornered Harry Gold in Philadelphia.  Let’s start 3,000 miles to the west, in Berkeley, California, on a chilly night in February 1934-

On a hill high above town, a man and woman sat in a parked car.  In the driver’s seat was a very thin young physics professor named Robert Oppenheimer.  Beside him sat his date, a graduate student named Melba Phillips.5   The two looked out at the view of San Francisco Bay.

It was a fine view, but Oppenheimer couldn’t seem to stay focused on the date.  He turned to Phillips and asked, “Are you comfortable?”

She said she was.

“Mind if I get out and walk for a few minutes?”

She didn’t mind.6

Oppenheimer got out and strolled into the darkness.  Phillips wrapped a coat around her legs and waited.  She waited a long time.  At some point, she fell asleep.

She woke up in the middle of the night—the seat beside her was still empty. Worried,7 she stepped onto the road and waved down a passing police car.

“My escort went for a walk hours ago and he hasn’t returned,” she told the cop.

The police searched the park, but found nothing.  They notified headquarters, and a wider search was begun.  An officer drove to Oppenheimer’s apartment to look for useful clues.

He found the professor in bed, sound asleep.

The cop shook Oppenheimer awake and demanded an explanation.  Oppenheimer said he’d gotten out of the car to think about physics.  “I just walked and walked,” he said, “and I was home and I went to bed. I’m so sorry.”8

A reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle got hold of the story and wrote an article with the headline: “Forgetful Prof Parks Girl, Takes Self Home.”

No one who knew Robert Oppenheimer was the least bit surprised.9