The bad news: the storm knocked out the cable.

The good news: it’s not going to be fixed until after Christmas.

Either there’s too much snow on the dish, or it was knocked out of true. Either case, the rest of the family gets to learn about Life Without Cable, and this will be instructive for our financial situation. I’d love to cut the cable. Who wouldn’t? But I always think “there might be an international crisis I would want to watch in HD,” or “that show I like gets recorded without fuss or muss.”

Don’t watch much TV myself. I mean “TV” in the broadcast sense; haven’t sat down to watch a show at the moment it was broadcast since oh, nineteen-ought-94 or so, by cracky. The only show I watch now is “The Walking Dead,” because it will not be cancelled. I don’t watch shows they might cancel. No sir. Don’t even try. I also watch movies, like the awful thing I’ve been trying to finish for three days, “Spider-Man: The Dork Knight Rises.” Spider-Man 3 cured me of any lingering interest in the franchise, which took some doing: I was a big fan since childhood, and owned a stinky plastic inflatable Spider-Man pillow. Ditko-Romita; after that, nevermind. I liked the Toby McGuire movies, at least #1 and #2; #3 was #1 and #2 in another sense. This reboot is just krep. It’s like watching a “Star Trek” movie made by someone who only caught a few episodes of Voyager.

Peter Parker is on a search to find out what happened to his parents! Until he isnt, ‘cause something else happened. Peter Parker is on a search to find Uncle Ben’s killer! Until he isn’t, ‘cause something else happened. Major biotech company with the tallest building in Manhattan hires a high-school girl to do orientation for interns! Uh huh. Scrawny kid at school demonstrates sudden superhuman athletic ability at the same time scrawny costumed guy starts appearing around town demonstrating superhuman athletic ability, and no one says “You know . . .” Uh huh. Hard-as-nails Chief of Police finds boy in daughter’s room, invites him down for dinner. Uh-huh. Supergenius kid develops webshooters because he’s like, supergenius and all, because we saw him mumble something about fixing the air conditioning. GENIUS. PROOF OF. Lizard appears running around and making mayhem, but cannot be brought down by bullets because he is the product of GENETICS or something.

It’s just awful. I feel compelled to watch it just to know what’s going on. Or did. I also have the latest Batman movie on blu-ray, which I want to see . . . some day. Not now. I want to let some time pass so I can watch the entire police force of Gotham run into the sewers, and think “that was a wise decision, easily explained by the exigencies of the moment.” But I will watch it again.

Some men just want to see Alfred cry.

Although it’s hard to watch Caine after this.



Not that hard, though. Best Alfred of them all.

Mostly I want to watch it so I can recharge my own Bane voice, and spend a few days walking around talking in that voice of superior delight. Also to see why some people thought the conclusion was “open-ended.” Open-ended is a shot of the empty cowl in the rain. The ending was rather obvious, to me.





Beech-Nut. Need some mouth exercise? Here you go:



Beech-Nut: two words that said “also-ran gum and hard candy” for a lot of kids when I was growing up. They got their start packing ham, of all things, and expanded all over the place. Main competition in the hard-candy line was, of course, Life Savers; the two giants merged in 1956, something that would probably be turned down on anti-trust grounds today. You cannot have one megacorp controlling the nation’s circular stiff-sugar market!

Then the company was sold to Squibb, then to Nestle, then to Ralston-Purina. Rather odd to think of Life Savers as a product of a dog-food company. Ralston sold it to Milnot Holdings, which would sell it to Hero, a Swiss company in 2007.

Beech-Nut’s site today says “a family-owned company.”

Fun times:

Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation paid US$2.2 million, then the largest fine issued, for violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by selling artificially flavored sugar water as apple juice. John F. Lavery, the company's vice president for operations was convicted in criminal court and sentenced to a year and a day in jail; Niels L. Hoyvald, the president of the company, also convicted, served six months of community service. Each of them also paid a $100,000 fine.

Wait: you mean apple juice isn’t artificially flavored sugar water?

The “spice” drops - no idea what they tasted like, but probably like, well, spice drops, which exist today in gum form and taste like something that isn’t really supposed to be candy, but got grandfathered in.


Chun King

. . . makes Chinese food . . . do what? If you’re a certain age, you can answer that without hesitation.


This is a brilliant ad. It’s by Stan Freberg, and I have certain antibodies to some of his stuff. But the set-up’s great, and the pay-off is hilarious.



Yes, the elevator operator is Arte Johnson. The man is Jesse White, who was also the woebegone Maytag Repairman.

Anyway: “Chun King Makes Chinese Food . . . swing American!” Right? The line was written by Trudy Huebner, who must have been something of a pioneer in advertising. Her obit says it’s her line. So it must be true.

Except it's not.



Anyway: Chun King was brought to American tables by Jeno Paulucci, a Minnesotan who also invented the pizza roll. Jeno’s Pizza Rolls were eventually rebranded as Totino’s, which was a brand-name founded by another Minnesotan, Rose Totino. You can still buy them today.

Northern Tissue

For a while they came with pictures of little boys, a frank appeal to the Mom demographic. The artist is Frances Hook - about whom not a lot seems to be known.

The brand is now known primarily as a toilet paper product, “3-ply Quilted Northern Ultra Plush.” Their company pages notes that it was founded by Northern Mills in Wisconsin in 1901, and

Northern Paper Mills emerges as the largest producer of bath tissue in the world. Northern Tissue is commended for its sterilization, its white appearance to match modern bathrooms, and the fact that it requires no embarrassing conversation when purchased.

Citation needed, perhaps. Here’s the sole entry for the brand’s run in the 1930s:

Northern Tissue is hailed as a splinter-free toilet paper.

That made everyone shift in their chairs, didn’t it.



Every time he buries his pipe bowl deep in the fragrant gay Christmas Treasure-tin of Prince Albert . . . not that there’s anything wrong with that.



Not a fictional Tintin country, as I keep reminding people. Here’s what you had to carry about to be a photographer back then - and this only gave you ten shots. Make them count:

Hey, hit the tumblr over on the right - Christmas Retro Vintage Fortnight has begun. See you around. Don't forget the Strib Blog! If you like this, chances are you'll not entirely hate that.











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