From Shorpy



The garage-door repairman comes Saturday, as I mentioned. I am filled with shame in advance. There’s no reason I shouldn’t have been able to figure out the wiring, but there’s also no reason the front switch should have stopped working just because I got up on a ladder and looked at the wiring, because I am not Cyclops from the X-Men who blasts deadly scouring rays from his face.

But hey: they waived the estimate charge, because I had a coupon. I actually used a coupon from one of those “ValuPak” things you get - a sheaf of slick glossy coupons for stuff you cannot possibly need until hey, what do you know, you do. Blinds, patios, garage doors, foundation repair, marble counters, curses lifted, curses imposed, rivals eliminated, Chinese buffets. The code was 1053. It entitled me to half off the estimate, but if they have to do work, the estimate is free.

Well there’s a good racket. For all I know the guy will show up, squint, adjust a strap on his overalls - all the cartoon characters on the ads wear overalls - and say “it’s your Heisenberg Compensator. I’ll have to access the plasma conduit and realign the polarity of the tetryon flow. It’ll cost about $200, I estimate.” And then I look at him and say “that’s Star Trek technobabble,” and he says “take it or leave it.” Whereupon I owe him one hundred dollars.

1:11 update: The icemaker, as I noted, started working again. I just got myself a glass of ice for some lemonade. Almost immediately I heard the water-pressure booster downstairs kick in. Waited: the icemaker made a whirring sound with the exact duration.

They are plotting against me.

Checked the ice level: that last ration dropped the metal gateway that determines whether ice should be made, or ice should be forestalled. One simple switch sent a message to the brain of the fridge, which made a request of the water lines, which woke up the water-pressure booster. The programming in the fridge’s chips apparently requests water in small increments. Every one minute and eleven seconds.

Someone wrote that.

Someone coded the program that made the fridge talk to the water lines, unaware that it might trigger the sound of a water-pressure booster spinning up. He could be dead. His work lives on in the mindless whirr of a machine in a Minnesota basement. Well, once again I’m working downstairs in a dead-quiet house, and I think I’ll turn the ice maker off. I have ice aplenty. I have ice to burn.

1:11 later

Okay. Something’s wrong. I turned the icemaker off. But now every 1:11 the water-pressure booster spins up . . . and the downstairs toilet gurgles. This is new. This is completely new. I opened up the ice-maker compartment again, and held the metal gate up, indicating NO ICE REQUIRED GOT LOTS THANKS

1:11 - the booster kicked in, and I saw that the lights inside the fridge flickered for a second.

They are in cahoots. They are in a state of cahootage.

I turned on the ice maker and hit EXPRESS ICE. Maybe that’s what it wants. If it’s not making ice it’s angry and restless.

1:11 - booster kicks in. Toilet gurgles. I resolve to stare at the light over the kitchen table to see if it’s affected as well.

You have no idea how long 1:11 lasts when you’re staring at a light bulb, waiting to hear a booster-motor spin up at the same time a toilet gurgles and the light over the kitchen island flickers.


Turning on EXPRESS ICE, that’s the key. As long as it has something to do.




I’m tired of doing things for free.

Won’t stop, but just had to say that.

I was thinking about that when I read this long Atlantic mag online post by the editor about a freelancer kvetching that he’d been asked to contribute something for the grand sum of Zed, and while I understood, A) heck, it’s the Atlantic, and B) why did the editor have to swear so much? Here’s the thing: I understand the effenheimer on personal blogs, but I don’t see the need in magazines. It’s like seeing the mother-effenheimer in the New Yorker: you imagine the bones of William Shawn burning red in shame. If you work for a nameplate, a venerable brand, brash deployment of the big-king cusses seems low. That’s all.

Well, just blew my chance to be invited to write something for free, I suppose.

Friday! Thursday was a long smear of patter and palaver. To the office; did a video interview with a demographer; ran home so I could interview the guy who designed many great fonts (including the one on the Target “Archer Farms” label) - I have to do the interviews at home, because I like to write standing, and I walk around while talking. The idea of sitting at a desk with a headset speaking quietly is an athema. Isn’t that how we really want that word to be? Not anathema, but An Athema.

Had Pat Sajak on the Ricochet podcast this morning, which is always a pleasure. Also Mickey Kaus, whom I last saw while sitting on the floor of a house in LA that belonged to the guy who wrote “My Cousin Vinnie.” None of which means anything, but it’s fun to realize how odd life is, and how the best parts are the one that are simply different. I remember going outside to call home and talk to daughter, who - as kids usually are when you call home - was completely adjusted to my absence, and distracted by something as I talked. I mean it wasn’t like I was gone forever so no big deal.

I hung up and looked west and tried to tell myself that was the ocean out there. Nothing but black beyond the lights. They said there was an ocean. I had to take their word for it.

Ah. The toilet is quiet and the booster is still. Yet I fear I have solved nothing. This would be a fine epistolary Poe story. The Tell-Tale Compressor. Except when I ripped open the door and showed everyone the thing that haunted me, they’d see it. I’m not mad!

That’s what they all say, but I have the receipts for the installation. Probably have the manual around somewhere. They can’t say you’re mad if you have the manual.








Old-time radio moments, as usual for Friday. These are music cues from "The Couple Next Door," examples of CBS's enormous library of stock snippets to fit any mood. As I keep saying: the soundtrack to the idealized post-war domestic life.


Good morning! We know it's morning because the birds are out:




This one's by someone else - the orchestration, the tone, that harmony at the end, which is just swank. It has the feel of a different session, a different disc from the CBS EZ-Cue library. Something you'd find in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.




Then came this one, which made me think: I know who wrote this stuff. Here's some music for a domestic scene that's neither happy or unhappy, tense or relaxed - just a morning. Listen:




It has the Five Notes noted last week. But something stuck out when I heard it again. I recognized it. Not in this form, but similar. Couldn't place it. Then I saw small creatures in robes moving around. You know, as often happens when you think of things like "late 50s anonymous filler music."


I saw Jawas. Those little robed traders in the first Star Wars movie. The ones who drove around sand dunes on a thin top-heavy machine with a narrow wheelbase. Those guys. This was Jawa music. I got out the soundtrack, and no, it's not the same thing, but what if? Young composer, known for quick work, able to whip up pastiches in any style (you should hear the whole Jawa sandcrawler piece - Stravinsky could be heard chuckling from beyond the grave) and asked him to whip up cues?

Last one for a while: open mike again. I don't know why I find these fascinating. Well, no, I do; suddenly you're there in the studio right before the artifice begins. It's the things no one intended to be captured that we prize the most, sometimes. The accidents. This is mostly crosstalk, unintelligible, until you hear Peg Lynch at the end say something with amusement and affection about her co-host. But Bunce says something like "I can't be here" and there's a note of surprise and concern in her voice: Why? "Well, I'll try to clear it."




AND NOW, a new show. It's obscure; can't find it in the great conpendium of Old-Time Radio shows. The show only ran a dozen episodes or so: "In the Name of the Law." Mid-30s, and quite unusual for the time. Hard to explain, but it has a naturalism you just didn't get in the 30s.

Except for the end. Consider: there was a time when this was meant with all seriousness. You could say this without winking.




Although I'd bet the people involved made fun of it. For all I know this guy was leaning into it juuuust hard enough to pass for serious, but with a bit of a wink.

All of this is a prelude to the Site No One Wants. It existed before in a shoddy shape, and I never liked it. Now it's cleaner and better, I think. It's the Listen site, a personal look at the medium of classic bygone radio. Not everything is up, but half the site's there.


Augh. Forgot: the update to the Permanent Collection. I had all week to do that, and I didn't. But there it is. Promised. And so: to work. Have a grand weekend - see you around the usual places today, and back Monday with another vast panoply of Things. Or Stuff, if you like. Either works.









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