I think I’ve given myself AD (hold on, have to check the TiVo) D, and I’m not alone. But I’m not sure that Attention Deficit is a Disorder, really; it’s merely an ability to get (checking webs; Israeli strikes continue) many things done. The number of tools and devices I have mean that I can do two things at once, and if I can, I should. Today, for example, I switched between writing a column and digitizing a few old VHS tapes. The latter takes tending, since the tapes are moldy and blurry and bleeding, almost unwatchable. The tracking has to be adjusted constantly, or I get hash. I feel like I’m rescuing documents from a safe hoisted from the Titanic, but it’s nothing more important than scanning 80s shows for Long John Silver commercials and early-computer-graphics-era station idents. On the other hand, there’s some personal history to be gleaned from the crinkled magnetic tape:
That’s me on the Joan Rivers Show. It’s a tender memory. I stayed in the Plaza, took a limo to the studio, got made up with a degree of care I will not experience until I’m a cadaver, and played the part of An Author With a Book. Much fun. I also found an amazing commercial from 1992, something that can only be described as Busby Barkley:
It’s a Nike ad featuring Charles Barkley, done in the Busby Berkely style; must have cost a fortune. Copies several Busby motifs and backgrounds. I’m casting about for a YouTube-like host for these commercials, and I’ll post them next week.
Didn’t get all of this one, due to degraded tape:
It’s a Long John Silver ad from 1992. It was the year of yellow, it seems. Yellow and red.
Wonder what happened to her; she was a number. (Legs like pi, to be specific; they went on forever.) Marriage / kids / community theater? Drowned in a swimming accident? Beauty without talent? She’s hardly alone; the ads of the 90s are populated with krill from that vast teeming stratum of the Thespian Sea from which you can see the sun without feeling it. It’s hard not to experience mild pity when you see a bunch of guys pretending to be excited about Slim Jims: that was as high as they got.
Also found this ad, which I remember well:
It’s an early bit of computer trickery – the iconic Hershey bar is inserted into old footage with “modern” backgrounds. At the time it was quite stunning: Gene Kelly dancing with candy? Charlie Chaplin doing the bread roll dance with a bisected chocolate bar? How did they do that?
With very large and slow computers and Silicon Graphics workstations, probably.
While I digitized that stuff I tackled the messy storeroom AND spent an hour trying to shove the column into the Strib mainframe AND called a contractor to bid on the buckling retaining wall by the garage. (It’s always something.) Then I picked up Gnat from camp and took her to deep distant Eden Prairie Center, where we would spend a few hours. First, Costco, where I was reminded that I do not need 32-gallon drums of mayo or jeraboams of soy sauce. But I did see my favorite product, the very name of which is ineffably mellifluous:
And I don’t mean Handy Wacks, which is one of those legacy trademarks that will probably outlive its ability to make Beavis-types snigger. Say it with me: Interfolded Delicatessen Paper. If I had a mantra, that would be it. Makes me calm just to think of the words
The world of Bulk Food has interesting innovations; you see things you wouldn’t see at smaller stores. Behold, the Trinity of Morning-Related Processed Grain Nodules:
Together! In the same box. The Cookie Crisp Wolf, however, is not hanging with peers; Lucky and the Trix Rabbit are old-school OGs in the cereal hood. (O Big-Gs, if you must.) The Wolf, however, has no reputation or history; he could be replaced in with any other sort of character, like a robot or a tree, and no one would care. Now that I think of it, didn’t Cookie Crisp have a fat baker with a white moustache as a mascot? What happened to him? Mauled and disembowled, I guess, in a sequence of vivid box-art that was probably buried in a landfill. Highly collectible now, though.
I had a moment of high pride when Gnat looked at a crate of individual-serving-size cereals. I told her how I loved those small boxes when I was a kid, and she pointed to one: “I think this looked different when you were a kid,” she said. I looked: it was “Pops,” and the font was distressed. It used to be Corn Pops, of course.
She’d identified its modern status by the typeface.
That’s my girl.
We visited the Mall for supper, then had our quarterly visit to the shrine of retro sugared dough:
Krispy Kreme. When we entered a fresh batch was rolling off the line, hundreds of perfect glossy Os rolling in formation. A tall clerk who looked literally glazed was shoveling them into boxes; another clerk picked up two, walked over and handed them to us. Free! I was somewhat nonplused, since I had intended to buy donuts. I mean, if you enter with the intention of purchasing two donuts, and they hand you donuts gratis, what now? Well, I bought a maple, that being my favorite, and ordered drinks. The margin on coffee ought to be sufficient. (I worry about this place, since there’s never anyone in there, and it’s huge. But I think it’s a local distribution / baking node, so they’re probably doing okay.) The clerk insisted that I could have a free refill if I wanted.
Stop giving things away! I wanted to say. I’ve seen your stock price! You expanded too quickly!
We enjoyed our donuts and drove home by the long winding road I know by heart from last summer. Once we got back to the dangerous crime-choked city of Minneapolis, Gnat rode up and down the sidewalk on her scooter while I detailed the car with those shiny clothes that make the plastic gleam like the skin of a devil. Well, one who works with the public, anyway. Then we went inside and she picked away at her computer, exhausted, while I did this. It’s been another grand day in the Best Summer Ever.
At least here, and here is a very small portion of the world. But it’s what we have.
See you tomorrow – it’ll be Diner-free, alas, due to bandwidth overages, but also due to the fact that it’s 99 degrees out and I’m loving this weather, and my brain is like a dish of slumped butter. Until then.