Tuesdays are turning into utter hell, at least as hell is mildly defined in my lucky life. Since we’ve decided to do a video every Wednesday – whether I have an idea or not – I have to come up with something by noon, and by noon today I had the bright idea of shooting fall colors, and finding residual evidence of summer. At 1 I found a story about a new survey re: Mpls, and it seemed a better topic. Everyone loves surveys. Unfortunately, it’s a tough thing to illustrate, as I quickly realized. I had a few concepts, and did what I could in the hour and a half I had to shoot. Hit seven or eight locales, pointed the camera here and there, got home, downloaded all the video . . . and found that half of it was simply unusable. Stupid Flip Video camera; thou art dead to me now. Thine grainy picture and patented Blur-O-Vision focus power: verily I cast thee out. Until I can move to the Star Trib’s video system, I’m going to shoot with the digital camera.

And why aren’t the buzz.mn movies on that system yet? Because it’s all in transition; because people are already working at a pace that makes smoke and sprockets shoot from their collar, and this is not a high priority at the moment. If all goes well we’ll have the redesign by the end of the year, with front-page wide-screen video in higher resolution. Anyway, it took forever to put together three minutes; usually the footage creates the narration, and I just pick up the mike and talk. This time I had to add extra amounts of Video Helper to extend the recipe.

So that was my day, and it’s not over yet; more work remains, and I have to wait for Veoh to encode the piece: it’s looking like a 2 AM bedtime.  So let’s extend this episode with some treasures found on the Usenet: the Jetsons Little Golden Book.

I love the idea of the Jetsons; the execution, less so. There are only two episodes I like: Jet Screamer, and Uniblab – not because they’re particularly hilarious or well-animated, but because they remind me of my childhood seem to sum up the essential tension between humanity and technology while projecting 60s cultural notes far into the future. I also like Mr. Spacely, the Mr. Dithers of Tomorrow. As I noted in a bleat a long time ago, I’m still nonplused by the fact that George Jetson’s voice came from a guy who did slice-of-life short subjects in the 40s.  It might not have seemed odd to anyone at the time, of course – the last McDoakes short came out in 1956, six years before the Jetsons. It’s like hearing Robin Williams voice a cartoon character now; the voice is part of the cultural terrain you’ve inhabited all your life. The stuff that comes before you were born always seems to occupy a different world.

Maybe it did. When I was a kid I lived for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents on the late late show Saturday nights. They seemed as if they were made in another century. But they were only 16, 17 years old. But the distance between 1956 and 1973 seems ten times wider than the distance between 2007 and 1990, doesn’t it? We dress the same, we have computers, we have the same values, more or less. Somewhere between 1956 and 1973 they did away with nearly every casual cultural signifier in the Hitchcock dramas, from the ubiquity of men in suits and hats to women in skirts to sleek modern interiors to, well, haircuts. It all seemed very adult in 1973.

Anyway. To get you in the mood, the best cartoon theme of them all:


Why does Jane His Wife get Chopsticks for her theme? Elroy gets a playground melody, Judy gets wild sexed-up brass, and Jane gets chopsticks, as though to imply the rote simple nature of her life.

I think I speak for many young nerdlings when I note that Elroy was a drip, and many of us resented him. If you're going to be in the future, be smarter.

A B&W ad. Blondes away!


If you're ready: here's some pages from the book. I wish I owned it, and thanks to the scanner who gave it back to the world. The cover:

It must have been hell for dogs; couldn't lean out the window. The opening pages show the amazing technology of THE FUTURE:

"Mrs." I grew up with the word, and nowadays the eye stumbles on it, like a fossil revealed by erosion. Mrs. Oh, I remember that.

If someone painted this today, and did so with the right amount of irony leavened with reverent sincerity, one of those modern pop billionaires would pay a great deal of money for the original:

We all assumed we'd have private radios in THE FUTURE, complete with cloth speaker grille and two buttons:


I'll put up a few more tomorrow. Back to work now - see you at Buzz.mn for the weekly video! And, of course, an addition to the ad archive. Learn how red hair sold FM radios - in 1945.