(Program note: written in great haste with no thoughts about an overall narrative or point; column night for the national piece, and hence distracted.)


Had to laugh at the weather on the front page of the paper. It said:

91 / 70
Hot & Steamy
High risk tonight

For what? Severeness! Another storm to blow through and slap trees to the ground. The great severed limb of the tree next door is literally a Sword of Damocles over the shed; it hangs by a metal thread. No word on its removal. The neighbor would like it removed as well, along with the rest of the towering trunk; it goes one way, it’s my back yard, but it goes another and it’s her house. Of course, power and internet are strung along the path as well.

Did I say 91? And Hot? And Steamy? The day began bright and humid, but of course every single weather prediction has been proven wrong by actual events. Just as the weekend was supposed to be nothing but rain, and was only half rain, the world went sullen and cool at noon, spat big globs of rain, then opened up in another pointless torrent that just feels like you’re watching a ‘roidal bartender pummel a patron into sidewalk jam. I was on the highway at the time, of course. Everything slows and everything stops.

Got to work; there was something up on the bulletin board about global warming, and a handwritten note urged me to bike to work!

No. Behold the list of things I do not wish to do: yea verily, biking to work is prominent among them. Fine if you do; hats off and applause and all that, but I like driving to work.

This morning I dropped off Daughter at the summer-school program she’s attended for many, many years. First year I dropped her off and said “go.” Last year she didn’t attend; would have dropped her off. Year before that she was probably old enough to be dumped off, but parents often lag a year or two behind, and besides, tradition. The same fellow in the straw boater, calling off the names of children who are here today. I think he was just naming them in the generic sense, which might give a small kid the strange idea that some omnipotent being had spotted him and conveyed his name to the Authorities - much like the fabled robotic Paul Bunyan who terrified me as a child. I’ve mentioned this: a huge statue sitting on a stage made of enormous logs, his head swiveling back and forth with terrible, implacable certainty of his power and control. At the gate your dad told the ticket-taker your name. This was relayed to the Man Behind the Curtain. PAUL CALLED YOUR NAME. It’s one of the earliest memories I have, and that’s all I recall from that entire trip, except stepping across a stream that would become the Mississippi. Went with my cousins, I think, and I believe the trip ended in Duluth at the Buena Vista motel, where the restaurant had a brilliant view of the lake. A happy memory. A road trip to the Northwoods.

Cousins mean uncles. The uncle died a decade and a half later.. I always remember going to his shop - the smells, the sound of the machinery, the interesting things his little company made. He had two shops in Fargo and the buildings are still there, and I think of him when I drive by.

I liked him. He was a nice uncle. There are Tall uncles and Important uncles and Amusing uncles and uncles who always grin and uncles who have something better to do, and uncles you remember with a wry look and a can of beer. He was a nice uncle. A kind man.

I had a lot of aunts and uncles growing up. They were all distinct from the start. Next time I talk to Auntie Bootsie - I’m pretty sure she still does the morning walk around the mall with my dad - I’ll ask if she ever listened to “The Couple Next Door.”

Wonder if anyone in 2037 will ask someone if they ever listened to The Diner.

Anyway: dropping off the kid at the program was easy. Picking them up was a nightmare: unmanageable crowds, total chaos - almost said utter chaos; not sure of the distinction - and the usual panic tickle when all the kids are out, all of them, every damned one but yours.

Well, no more.

But driving home after dropping her off I remembered that in Days of Yore I listened to the 40s channel on the way back, then went home and wrote at the kitchen table while listening to the same channel on the satellite feed through the home entertainment system. I bought a device that sat on the windowsill and picked up the bits from the bird above. Like the rest of the XM services, it cost extra. Content on your car: that’s an account. Content on your phone: that’s another. Content in your house: again, you must be charged. I ended up dumping them all. The company was struggling at the time. Charging me for every single receiver seemed like ingratitude, somehow.

The song on the radio was the “G. I. Jive,” which I can’t stand. It’s not the song so much as the Mercer sings it. I’m sorry. It’s his song, but it bugs me.



Louis Jordan, now that’s the thing. Not so cute.



I’m driving up the street thinking, as I do every time when I hear the tune, that I need to google “Fluid Drive” again.

Anyway. I get home, and there’s workmen. Oh. Right. The dead dirt at the bottom of the hill. Long ago I had the Lawn People investigate what might be done, and here they are. The shame of the eroded bare straggly lawn may finally be over, because Professions are on the job. They have new dirt bursting with life and magical chemicals and straw blankets and the exact kind of seed and the lawn will be beautiful again.

Mind you, this is just one zone of the unmanageable expanse of wood and fescue that ring Jasperwood and comprise the marvelous neighborhood in which I am lucky and grateful to live. The rain has made nature run riot. I’ve never seen it like this. There are days I go out to get the morning paper and expect to see Pan standing in the Triangle down the hill, arms out, laughing; a few more storms, a bit more initiative from the foliage, and the armies of chlorophyll could push the houses off their lot and smother the sky with a million fingers of eager growth.

I’ve lived in this climate all my life, and this is the first time I’ve felt this in the weather, the skies, the land. Blood lust.




A round-up of old logos, packages,a nd products, so that we may reconstruct forgotten corners of the old commercial culture.



This, I think, is almost perfect.



There’s a bit too much going on that doesn’t work together, but the typeface on “shredded cheddar” makes me happy. Things did look like that in ’53; they really did.



Those anthropomorphic Ks always creeped me out. They shouldn’t be alive.



Double Kay, at one time, was the biggest seller of salted nuts in the country; they had a line of canned nuts, and fresh warm nutcases like these. I can’t find anything about the company, which seems to have thrived and expired in such a fashion that it failed to leave an imprint on the mind of Google.

Cannot remember the last time I was in a store, and there was a machine offering nuts. Blame the decline of the downtown 5 and dime; that was their market, I'll bet.





There was a ray: Arthur Raymond. With his business partner Arthur Law, they made brakes in 1906, and I’m not saying business went well, but by 1924 they were able to hire Norman Rockwell to do their ads - many of which can be found here.





Nils Testor bought the assets of a company that made “Karlson’s Klister.” You may ask: Klister? Yes: it’s “an adhesive made for mending women’s stockings.” Nils realized that the stuff could be used around the house, and marketed it as “Crystal Clear Household Cement.”



The superglue of its era, in other words. Naturally, this led to something else:

Making use of the supply of available balsa, Testor began producing inexpensive flying airplanes.

The new Testor toy glider was an overnight success. In addition to using balsa for the toy planes, Testor also imported balsa for custom model builders. Sheet, board, and strip stock turned up in hobby shops all over the country—for a number of years Testor was the single largest user of balsawood in the world!

Everyone had of those when I was growing up.




A review of the movie on imdb:

I was to be a guard at the phony gate as the stars passed through but I was not in the picture when released. I was a private in the U.S. Army Air Corps at Kelly Field. I am sorely disappointed that some movie studio has the picture locked up so no one can now obtain a copy except at an exorbitant price on eBay. This picture seemed to be the "launch pad" for many in the cast. It was fun to see and hear stars such as Brian Donlevy and Ray Milland complaining about the hot weather at San Antonio. During the filming a plane crashed on the runway and the pilot burned in it. It seemed so very ironic that it happened in front of the cameras in reality while so much boring stuff was staged


I wonder if she complained. I suspect she did.


Finally, an odd account of the the Hones, who awake in tandem, dress in tandem, and appear at the same time in the kitchen to find a breakfast laid out - once again! - but elves who vanish with the morning dew:



They were, I suspect, brother and sister.



And then they were rich, thanks to regular defecation! All the smart people have movements so regular you could set your clock by them.



Now we call it fiber. Then they called it BULK, which seems much more likely to encourage regulatrity.

You can only contain so much BULK before, well, you know.




There you go! Work blog and tumblr and twitter and etc. etc. And a Comic Sins. See you around.

NOTE: when I say "Work blog," I mean that little STAR down on the list of icons. Bookmark that bad boy. NOTE: Sorry for saying "bad boy."



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