Mercifully short today, for the usual Tuesday reasons. (Hmm: “Tuesday Reasons.” There’s a good name for a femme fatale in a noir novel.) I worked hard – no, correct that. I worked. It was not hard. The most interesting thing I did all day was fix a busted matchbook, and ARGH that reminds me that I didn’t finish that project. ARGH some more. See, I used to do a monthly postcard feature for the local urban glossy; now I’m doing a monthly matchbook feature.

Make your hobbies pay, I always say.

Well, I’ve have to write that piece when I’m done here. Fine. So let’s have some links. But before that, a treat, if you can call the horrors about to be deployed a treat. One of my co-workers who took the buyout left me a 1973 Sears catalog, and it is astonishing. It’s the design version of the Necronomicon. Next year I’m going to put up a site that compares the 73 catalog with a 1930s Montgomery Ward catalog. But until then, share with me the nightmare:


If you were a checkers enthusiast who spent her spare time asking churches to reduce noise pollution by switching to bells made from felt, this might make sense.  Then there’s this:


Yes, it’s Veronica Hamel in the Bust-Crusher 9000. Simply adjust the malted milk balls until you achieve your level of discomfort. That is Veronica “Hill Street Blues” Hamel, incidentally; she was a Ford model. She appears several times in the first 20 pages of the catalog, which were the choice spots for modern models. Really. Susan Blakeley and Shelley Hack show up as well. Really. Shelley appeared in "Annie Hall," as you may recall; I wonder how many other Sears models showed up in Woody Allen movies. Aside from Olan Soule, of course.

That ad tells you all you need to know about the 70s: YKK Zippers were considered a fashion attribute.

Here’s a design touch we’ve managed to shake off: Flintstone-patterned bile-hued crapper blankets.

It wasn’t enough to swaddle the lid; they had to hide the tank and the tank cover as well. And the floor. Plus a special pad to soak up hubby’s ill-aimed stream.

More to come, as they said on the Carson show. Other links:

Careful long-time Bleat readers know I’m a big fan of Chris Ware. He’s created an animated sequence for the TV version of “This American Life,” and you can see it here. Of his many styles, this is my least favorite, but it’s still Ware, and I like it. I do not, however, listen to “This American Life.” I know I should. It’s smart and clever and quirky and reveals the vast broad breadth of our society, et cetera, but it bugs me. The host’s voice bugs me. The pacing really, really bugs me: one line of dialogue, some music, another line of dialogue, music, a nasally injection from the host, music, and so forth. They’d take nine hours to recite an e e cummings poem, and you’d get the sense that someone had spent an entire week auditioning music that sounded perfectly lower case. The format of the show freights everything with Extra Added Important Meaning, and this clip is a perfect example. First, I’ve no idea if the actual events really happened as the speaker describes. We have to take his word for it, I guess. Second: it’s a rather banal story. Write it out, remove the pauses and music and animation, and it’s not particularly interesting. It’s dinner-party conversation, and not even the sort of anecdote that holds the whole table spellbound; it’s what you say to the person next to you, if you’re getting along, and discussing the media, and you’ve both had a glass of wine, and both agree that TV has just changed everything, and isn’t that important, really? When you think about it? (Third, and this is really inside Ware-related baseball: the school teachers look like Rusty Brown and Chalky White. Which made me smile.)

I’m sure there are many wonderful TAL shows and I know people who are smart & sensible and enjoy the show. Like my wife. But it annoys me – not for what it actually does, but for what it seems to think it’s doing. And yes, that’s more a reflection on me than the show.

Unless of course I’m right. I suspect I could intersperse a Curious George book with some Brazilian-accented Pat Metheny music, and come up with the perfect TAL piece, just like someone could parody the Bleat with Portentious Capitalization and the cheap easy overuse of underpunctuted sentences that rely on italics.

I wish them all the success with their Showtime program, but I still prefer Penn & Teller’s Bulls***. (Side note: I agree with P & T’s take on most of the subjects they cover, but occasionally I don’t, and when I don’t, I really, really don’t. It’s not because I don’t agree with their reasoning; it’s because I don’t share their predicates, and I just think: well, I’ll pass. I mention this only because I know there are patrons of this site who don’t share some of my predicates, and I know exactly how you feel.)

And now, HELL.

GAAAAAHHHH! Live-action Mexican Simpsons! No! No! Please God NO!


Sorry about that, chief. New Quirk; new Money! Enjoy the splendors of Costa Rican lucre, and I'll see you tomorrow.