From Shorpy


A moment of Dog Sadness in the morning: he didn’t eat his breakfast. That’s the sign I’m always waiting for, with dread: when they give up on food they have given up on Life Itself. At noon he got up from his cushioned rectangle in the living room and staggered over, back legs balky, to see what news his nose had announced; upon seeing a tray of gravy and candied apples left over from my Lean Cuisine lunch, he began to eat. When he was done he walked over to the food bowl, and hullo, more. He crunched it all down, sighed, gave me a look familiar to anyone who’s had an old dog: Okay. Fine. That. Again.

And then he went back to his spot and found a sunbeam and dozed and, in the middle of some dream, popped out two hard poops. You spend the first year of your dog’s life training them to do it outside and the last year whisking up the accidents, which aren’t really accidents anymore. I mean, a car hits the same phone pole every day at 11 AM, it’s not an accident. My wife lets him out in the morning when she gets up; he hops down the stairs in a sideways fashion. I let him out when he seems intrigued by the possibilities on the other side of the cold glass wall, and he hops down. We pick him up to bring him back in, and there’s always a short mutt-mutter of disgruntlement, but sometimes I wonder if he thinks he can fly now. When I set him down there he shakes and snorts and we agree not to speak of this, again, or ever. He walks to the dark room, to his soft bed, a hitch in his step, a deadness in his haunch. I hear him drop down and sigh.

Not a minute passes but he’s up again. There might be something to eat. There might be something to do. He appeals to my wife, of course; they have a relationship of equals. Affection from me, Alpha, is always confusing. Okay I get it fer Dogssake all these years you’re the boss what do you want. With my wife it’s just pure love. While I would like to have the same relationship, it says something about Jasper that we all have different entry points into his heart. I mean, 12 years on, and Natalie is still the intern.

Later, I checked the mail. Smiled: a card fro the vet. Time for his heartworm check, so hecan get his meds.

The ones that will see him through the summer.


Many subjects common to women’s websites strike me as inconsequential or irrelevant to my own life and interests, so I don't go there. When I click on a link to an interesting story on a women’s site, there’s often a parade of issues on the sidebar that represent a parallel human world where A) it’s all about figuring out WHAT HE MEANS WHEN or WHY HE DOESN’T DO THIS or JENNIFER LOPEZ SHOE FAIL, or B) gender issues comprise the totality of human intellectual study. And that’s fine. Microtargeting is the boon of the web, and just because someone patronizes a site that sees everything through a particular prism doesn’t mean you have cramped constricted interests. There’s Jezebel, and there’s Kotaku.

So I don’t really care that a Jezebel writer got really, really spun up about a company marketing Greek yogurt to men, and expressed herself thus. (It cannot be excerpted. Its totality must be beheld and absorbed.) The problem is GENDERED YOGURT. Now, the ad campaign may be silly; one could castigate the ads because they don’t take the proper Old Spice tone, winking at the very idea of appealing to men’s concepts of masculinity without all sorts of necessary qualifications. But this is like going to a men’s site and going on and on about a product that’s usually aimed at men, and is now branching out to appeal to women, and ridiculing it because it suggests that the product (oil, gaming consoles, ethernet cables, guns) enhance fertility. This wouldn’t happen because in general men don’t care.

When I read this I think: why, exactly, does she care? I mean, I know it's comedy, but it's remarkably contemptuous. It must be exhausting. Yogurt? That touts the fertility enhancing power of zinc? For men? EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! But also like be amused that this is seriously a thing but seriously no it's icky because reasons


I’ve been watching “The Shoes of the Fisherman,” which I remember from childhood because I bought the soundtrack. Even remember the cover: a big screen with a shouting Chinese politician. See if I can find it . . . Yes.


The cover made me want to see the movie, because it looked like science fiction. Someone at imdb thinks it is, too:

Set in a futuristic vision of the late 1980's, Ukrainian Archbishop Kiril Lakota is set free after two decades as a political prisoner in Siberia. He is brought to Rome by Fr. David Telemond, a troubled young priest who befriends him

What? There’s nothing in the movie that suggests 1983, unless it’s the chairs - they look like 1968 chairs people thought would be 1983 chairs because they were futuristic in 1968 and 1983 was the future. The plot, in case you’ve never heard of the thing: a Ukrainian Catholic priest (strict RC, not Orthodox, or Ruthenian) is released from the gulag and sent back to Rome by a crafty Soviet premier, who wants to use him in the future for political reasons. By some madcap series of hilarious misunderstandings, the priest becomes Pope! Well, no. The film’s explanation for Kiril getting St. Peter’s job is rather muddled, and seems to rest on an anecdote he tells fellow cardinals between fruitless papal ballots. He almost beat a guard to death in the camps. The cardinals are horrified, but inside they must think “dude! Hardcore” and so all of a sudden, they’re seconding his nomination.

It is long. Three hours. In the 60s they made “event” movies, and this is one of those: overture, intermission, a booklet handed out in the lobby with color photos. An Important Cultural Event. This meant pageantry, costumes, huge sets, exotic locations, and Big Name Actors - and in all these cases, man, does it deliver. Unfortunately, it delivers in the sense of large crates being removed from a cargo ship by sleepwalking stevedores, but it looks great.

It's the other side of 1968, in other words. The Culture against which there was a counter-example. It treats organized religion as an unquestioned good thing; it is respectful of those who regard the Church with revenence; it stops a few times for theological arguments, pitting the old guard against an agonized quasi-heretical Jesuit who represented new strands in Catholic thought. (Think Chardin.)

In one scene that reminds you “this is a movie based on a novel” the Pope has slipped out of the Vatican to wander around the Subura, more or less; in this teeming mass of humanity, he runs into the wife of David Janssen, international TV correspondent. She’s heading upstairs to help a sick man. Kiril goes up with her, does some basic blessing work, and the relatives say “thanks, I guess, but it’s not going to do anything. We’re Jewish.” Whereupon Kiril covers his eyes and begins to intone a prayer in Hebrew.

It’s a powerful moment. I have no idea how it played at the time, whether it startled the audience, but if it surprised me in 2013, I can only imagine.

The trailer.


I remember not being particularly impressed with the soundtrack as a kid, and it doesn’t do much for me now, alas.







Going through some odds and ends from the 2011 Scanning Project folder: a old cartoon that explained Science! for the newspaper Sunday reader.



Great name for a scientist: Athelstan Spilhaus. A South African who ended up in Minnesota. Wikipedia says:

The strip therefore was quite influential in its time and John F. Kennedy is cited to have said on a meeting with Spilhaus in 1962: "The only science I ever learned was from your comic strip in the Boston Globe."

Paleofuturist Matt Novak has more, here. We continue:



The subject is pollution, and unlike many of the sunny new-marvels-await tone of the strips, it's worried and cautionary. It notes that rockets spew pollution 80 miles up - which wouldn't seem to be a big problem, as rockets were rare and we weren't climbing a ladder 79 miles high to get a good fresh lungful - but the consequences would be dire.




Some people don't believe me when I say I grew up worried about an Ice Age returning.












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