It’s a column night. Used to say that every Monday, back in the Newhouse days. Now it’s every other Monday. What happened to Newhouse? you ask. Kaboom! The DC office, where I worked in the early 90s, suffered the contractions that befell the rest of the industry, but before that I quit over a matter of honor. An insult from the editor who handled my column. It’s one thing to read into a column ideas that are not present; it’s another to verbalize one’s criticism in a grossly insulting fashion that aligns your position with someone who had recently engaged in the crudest of racial stereotypes. To be clear, I mean someone who was not permitted to engage in stereotypes. There is latitude granted for the right people to make the proper points.

It was instructive, if nothing else. Apparently using Elvis Presley was a code-word for “black rappers.” It revealed the underlying assumptions about my position on certain social issues, and I have no time for people whose nova-strength auto-illumination of their own blinding virtue is accompanied by a cramped, reductive, contemptuous diminution of any opposing argument. Unless I’m doing it, of course.

Anyway, I’m writing a column on a Swedish toy catalog that’s going for a Gender Neutral approach, which means the boys have baby dolls and the girls have guns. Seems odd that the news stories call this “gender neutral,” when it’s actually an inversion. Right? There are contradictory strains in modern thought I cannot reconcile: there are no differences between men and women, except that women are more sensible and better. I know I touched on this yesterday, but it’s only because the examples of this idea are so banal, and frequently untethered to observable reality.

I have worked for women all my life - without complaint or resentment, because they’ve all been tremendous bosses. The one guy I had as a boss was the day manager of Ralph and Jerry’s, and he taught me how to shrink-wrap ground beef. A useful skill, and I dare say I could still do it; otherwise, all my editors up the chain have been female. So? So nothing. But when you’ve been edited by women since 1983, the idea that the patriarchal voice brays and blares and drowns out all female voices, well, it doesn’t quite hold. All the women I ever dated were career missiles. My wife is a high-performing medical-statue lawyer.

Every one of those women hated guns and would find an ad with a girl holding a gun to be abhorrent.

And say it was BS that they had to think it was necessary because of Reasons.

Ah. Well. Everyone who participates in the enthusiastic demolition of some social norm is eventually appalled by someone else’s assumption of your efforts and ideals. But - hold on, that’s too far.

Sorry. Not far enough. Just the beginning, really. Come along or stay behind; makes no difference. Thanks for getting the ball rolling, though. Be seeing you!

NO I am not saying that female bosses leads to gender neutral catalogs. I am suggesting that paradigms, when disassembled, should be treated not like locks, but bombs.

Whatever that means. It’s late and I’m under the gun and I swear I wasted half an hour of Bleat time tweet about Gershwin. I meant to talk about this:

It’s a Mall of America tree. I showed the picture to my daughter last night and she said NO WAY and called up her photos on her iPod, and she’d taken the same photo. I mean, the exact same angle.

“It’s in the blood,” she said, with that mocking tone to use to deflect the fact that you’re serious.

Next: Product Tuesday!






This incredibly helpful graph on Toothpaste Life Cycles says something about Ammident, but I’m not sure what. Possibly something about its short life cycle, due to the hint of “ammonia” in the name. I’m not being paranoid: “Ammoniated” was part of their ad campaign. Google helps with this old ad:


What of the Lucatortos? I don’t know. But they lived here.


Another in the endless series of defunct hooch:

Not all whiskeys had their own animated promotions voiced by Art Carney. Directed by CHAD! This is probably the only cartoon where someone says "what the hell."

It has a picture of the very ad from which I took the picture above:

Sugar Crisp Bear, the early years. No sugar needed indeed: it was 50% sugar, at its peak. When the package said it was “Candy coated,” they weren’t kidding.

I believe it’s Golden Crisp now, completing its transformation away from anything remotely resembling something that grows out of the ground. Here the Bear is sweet and kind and innocent - something that would change once he hit his teen years, discovered reefer, and started breaking into old ladies’ houses while naked.

One ad had examples of the Honeywell Muffin:

It was a Minneapolis company, by the way. (Not Honeywell, but the thermostat company with which they merged; it had an HQ here for many years.) Not saying the first thermostats weren’t too accurate, but this was the guy they had as their first chairman. He also worked with the Butz heating regulator company, and it’s only a kind accident of history that those things weren’t known as the Butz-Sweatt Adjustors.

Once upon a time, they included a clock - and you can tell an engineer designed it. Built-in redundancy on that clock face!

New Comic Sins; the tumblr; the Strib Blog; twitter. The great long smear of one's day on the internet, free of charge. Enjoy! See you around.












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