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Eight Blows, sometimes nine. Once, TEN | The Bleat.

Okay, enough Fair. I’m sick of it now too. And I have two more days to go.

If you missed it last night, and you probably did: check the Twitter feed for a live account of the search for the Mysterious Hammerer. This sound has bedeviled me for weeks; finally went out looking for the source. Of course, ran into a neighbor coming out to walk the dog just as I was doubling back on the sidewalk, which looked hella suspicious. Had to explain. But now I’ve enlisted her in the mystery. Jinkies!

Child had to bring a water bottle to school today, because they were having an athletic afternoon with running and jumping and sweating. I set the bottle out. Off she went. Came home later after the Fair: bottle’s on the counter.

Sigh. Well, dutiful dad is dutiful, so I went to the school. The new school, I should note: she’s in middle school now. Had no idea where to find her. The office helped; went up to her room, feeling as she must have felt on the first day. Utter terra incognito. Saw her at a table drawing, summoned all my ninja skills, and made it in and out of the room without any of her peers seeing me: HAW HAW, YOU HAVE A PARENT. She later said it was “weird,” but only because SHAZAM there I was, with the water bottle, and then hey presto I was gone. Not her exact words.

Nothing feels normal. The Fair this week, coming off the trip, the trip, the new school – everything feels fluxed up, and I look forward to a nice fall. It’s sticky right now; I’m in the gazebo, and there are bugs, and I’m pretty much done with this. Planes are coming in overhead every two minutes, too – the nighttime landing season. Also a billion crickets. But at least I know this is one of the best states in the union, according to Gawker; did they a survey for the express purpose of drizzling snark over everyone who isn’t in New York (best state in the country, according to the people who live in Manhattan and regard themselves as terribly cosmopolitan and worldly and ever move more than five miles away from their apartment for months on end). Arizona was the worst, because no one in the office could possibly imagine living there. I stumbled on the survey through a link to this: a piece about a subway car made up to look like a 1920s car to promote “Boardwalk Empire.”

There’s no better example of the tormented sensibility of these people . . . than this. Headline: You Will Secretly Enjoy the Retro Boardwalk Empire Subway Car, But Must Pretend to Hate It

First of all, I hate this “you” crap in headlines. The article:

HBO finally bought so many ads on the New York City transit system that MTA let them buy an entire car. Coming soon to a 2/3 track near you: A vintage subway car from 1917, with rattan seats, a ceiling fan, and ads for Boardwalk Empire. If you end up on this car you will probably enjoy it a little, but will have to pretend you don’t, because you’re sick of this mind control ad immersion bullshit, and don’t want to be associated with the Instagram obsessives tweeting twee pictures of it. But secretly? Old-timey transit is fun. Admit it, you want to ride in this car.

The mental contortions some people have to go through just to enjoy life. “I’m having a reaction to something that’s mostly pleasurable, but ignorant of larger sociological and economic considerations! I’d best overlay some self-awareness over it, so I can synthesize the two into a reaction identical to the first but informed by my ability to step outside the situation and see it for what it is. Finally, I’ll top it off with a fillip of whispery entre-nous honesty that assumes everyone else had the same series of reactions, because they’re also smart people who nevertheless have an appreciation for history and urban culture. That’s why they’re New Yorkers! Well, Manhattanites. The rest of them, eh, it’s a mixed bag.”

How do they know the Instagram hipsters won’t be posting the pictures ironically? Or that Instagram users aren’t ironically enjoying the people who post them sincerely?

Then there’s this:

Apparently MTA occasionally brings back vintage trains during the holidays,

Translation: I had no idea, but read it in the original source article, and can’t be arsed to check it out.

. . . which raises another conundrum: Why do we yearn for old-fashioned stuff like glass Coke bottles at Christmastime? How do we know Santa isn’t a futuristic sci-fi enthusiast? His sleigh is technically a UFO.

It’s a trick I used often in the PopCrush blog, which I’m no longer writing, much. End the post with a rambling non sequitar that shows everyone you’re above writing this sort of thing, and frankly it makes you rather bored. But this makes no sense. Bringing back vintage trains during the holidays does not raise the issue of glass Coke bottles at Christmastime, and it’s not a conundrum anyway. No one years for glass Coke bottles. The ads have Santa drinking from them because it’s a callback to the ads that ran in the 40s through the 60s. There’s nothing about Santa that indicates he’s a “futuristic sci-fi enthusiast” because he’s always portrayed in traditional garments, with the level of technology firmly fixed in a Victorian-early 20th century style. His sleigh is not a UFO, because it is not unknown, and the fact that it’s tracked by NORAD proves the point.

To the comments! First, the unqualified delight:

This exists in real life! In beautiful Argentina!

Also, it’s a fact that Coke (preferably Mexican) tastes better in a glass bottle. It’s the only pop I’ll drink.

Also, this is brilliant advertising, Don Draper Kodak Carousel-esque.

Next:

Interesting, everything you say is elitist by way of education but yet you still say pop…From where you could possibly hail?

And the beeyootiful reply:

Pop’s an affected, conscious choice, not my local vernacular. I’m New England by way of Colorado, I just don’t like the way so-duh sounds.

Choosing to say “pop” is an affected, conscious choice. It’s not so much the choice itself, it’s having a ready-made explanation when called on it.

It’s cooled off since I wrote the above. Too a showed because A) Fair grime adheres, and B) it was sticky out here, and C) while taking a bag of debris from the great pit-filling project described earlier this week, the bottom of the bag broke and dumped dirt, twigs, and an aromatic selection of rotten vegetation on the steps. So I’m out there at 10:00 shoveling and sweeping – and I hear a mom down the street calling in a kid. It’s a bit late for a school night, and the kid’s a bit young to be galivanting around in the dark. On one hand, it’s nice to know there are free-range kids who push it and hang outside as long as there’s still some summer left. On the other hand, if it was me, I’d be thinking the worst. Remember a while back when I talked of the Walking Man, and the doorbell that rang with no one there?

The doorbell rang again tonight. Could be the kid, for all I know. Could be ghosts. Maybe that’s all ghosts can do. They gather their strength to pierce the veil, and ring a doorbell on the house where they once lived – not to tell us anything, not to scare us, not do anything but know there was a sound in their old house, and they caused it.

Well, back to the Fair tomorrow; I have a noon appearance at the Strib booth, and then a column about the Fair, and then two videos about the Fair, and then Labor Day, when I shall rest. Now to the novel: I was walking across the parking lot to my car after the Fair today, when I was struck by a thunderbolt, and realized who the murderer was. Not who I thought. “Can’t be,” I thought. “It’s wrong.” But it’s right. Will take some rejiggering, and I’m really pushing the limits of belief-suspension with the sequence of events at the Casablanca, but it gives the book the one-two-three punch at the end.

Rewriting this thing is going to be . . . interesting.

http://gawker.com/5836657/

 

59 Responses to Eight Blows, sometimes nine. Once, TEN

  1. jk says:

    Really? Nobody here’s seen the pop vs soda (vs coke) map?
    http://www.popvssoda.com/countystats/total-county.html

  2. S.T. Mum says:

    I grew up in Southern California, and honestly cannot remember WHAT we called the “soft drinks” then (they were not a staple in our house). I think the drinks were always called by name or flavor — Coke(or Pepsi), R.C., 7-Up, Orange. I think this because I was thrown off by the term “soda” when we moved to N.J. – thinking of “soda” as an ice-cream soda. By the time I got used to the term “soda”, we moved to Colorado and I was thrown by the term “pop”. I also remember when I was traveling thru the mid-west hearing an old man referring to it as “a COLD drink”(emphasis on “cold”.) Now: East Coast, soda, (unless being specific, i.e., Mr. Pibb, Dr. Pepper).

  3. James:

    1. Terra IncognitA. The earth is considered feminine.
    2. “Gallivanting” has 2 Ls.
    Just checking . . .

  4. Russell says:

    Over here, they’re called “fizzy drinks” except for lemon-lime (7-up) which is referred to as “lemonade” — sometimes, the term “juice” is applied to anything that isn’t milk or whisky…

  5. MJBirch says:

    John W: — another good “Casablanca” book is “Round Up the Usual Suspects” by Aljean Harmetz (who also wrote an excellent book on the making of “The Wizard of Oz.”)

    It still amazes me that so many of the actors playing the extra roles as Nazi soldiers were actually Jewish refugees. Some escaped Hitler with the clothes they were wearing at the time — and that was all.

    I never miss seeing “Casablanca” when TCM runs the movie. I love Claude Rains.

  6. Mr. Dart says:

    In The Andy Griffith Show Barney Fife says, “I think I’ll go down to the fillin’ station and get a bottle of pop.” This is very odd because nobody with the background of the Fife character would use “pop” for soft drink. This struck some Southerners as odd at the time, but Don Knotts was from West Virginia, part of the region of the US where “pop” was used and clearly ad libbed the word choice.

    Of course, Barney Fife would have gone to the filling station for a “Coke” whether he had a root beer, an orange drink, or a cola. And then he would’ve gone over to Thelma Lou’s to watch a little teevee.

  7. browniejr says:

    Mr. Dart:
    I think you are right in that in the South Barney would have said “Coke” whether it was something else, but back then they never “watched” TV– they would always go over to someone else’s house and “look at television”– Beaver Cleaver would always be asked by June if he was going over to Larry Mondello’s house “to look at television”– it had yet to evolve into the boob tube.

  8. DensityDuck says:

    “affected” choice for soda?

    Reminds me of a phrase I heard used to describe someone…”ponders the correctness of his choice of breakfast cereal”.

  9. JMD says:

    I’m afraid I’ve come to this thread of comments very late. Nevertheless–I believe Fife would have been correct to say “pop.” My elders (beyond my parents) were from Surry County in North Carolina (the location of Mt. Airy aka Mayberry), and they all used the term “pop” for soda-style drinks (though you would on occasion also get the term “coh-cola” used). I think this is an instance of the “mountain” influence trumping the expected “southern” influence in the region. Surry County (at least when I was a wee lad) felt almost more akin to West Virginia or mountainous Virginia than to North Carolina.

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