Yes, I tried to find this bank. The ad said it was in a Chicago suburb. buildings liks this had a hard time in the 70s - the windows, once a marvel that let people sit inside in warmth and cozy comfort and look out at the snowy world beyond - were regarded as energy enemies. I'm surprised they just didn't paint them over and hang a sign that said FOR THE DURATION, but we didn't believe that was a war we would win.

As I was saying yesterday about this style: it's from a good place in the American experience. It's dull when everything looks like this. It's keen when new things do. They couldn't go back to the classical vocabulary, not yet; they needed distance from its previous run. There was still a lot of it around, downtown, and it was old. The country wasn't in the mood for old. The designs of the 30s, being modern at their time, now looked like a vogue, a fad, a dance step, a hat style. The War sucked away all its glamor and strange optimism.

Time for a walk, I said, and I picked him up and took him down the steps and put on the Collar of Obedience. Not because I think he’ll run away, but because a slight tug tells him where we’re going. Down the hill on the south side of the house:


(Leash photoshopped out because it ruined the shot; that’s why his ear is crimpled.) Down to the end of the street. It’s easier going that way; back is harder. Back is up. But he did it, step by step, and when we got back he walked around the back yard for a while. Tottered stiff to his mat, and slept until supper, where he ate with voracious determination another bowl of unpleasant stinky goop. This is why he has been rejecting breakfast: goop or nothing, pal.

So goop it is.

So that’s the update. Another this-is-it moment passes and the indomitable dog pads slowly though another day, and we adapt and adjust another the next moment. Except now his days are goop-plus. Also, there’s snow. He likes it; dogs find snow interesting. When I put him outside after the flakes had fallen he picked up his paw in surprise: that’s novel. I doubt dogs think “oh, snow again.” It’s more like “conditions are different” and the adjustment is made and memory of green and sun blink out, until they’re needed again. Last winter I wanted him to repose in the sun again, hoping he’d make it to spring. Tonight my wife and I are on the steps outside, talking about how I should put down some grit when it gets icy on the path he walks.

I appreciate so much the kind thoughts people have been sending our way. When the day comes it’ll be hard for us but easy for him - a soft surcease, a snort, a sigh. But it wasn’t today and it won’t be tomorrow. Tomorrow I will pick up the leash and head to the back door, and he will come along. Slowly. But he will follow.

Thus concludeth the Fortnight of Difficulties, I hope. I’m looking forward to a good cozy productive weekend. Concludeth? Archaic churchy talk, I guess. The spell-checker flagged it, just as it objected to “Crimpled” above. I knew I meant another word: crumpled, which in animal context brings up the cow with the crumpled horn, a line from a children’s story that always bothered me. It’s from the House that Jack Built.

This is the horse and the hound and the horn

Draft-animal, dog, and musical instrument: got it.

That belonged to the farmer sowing his corn

Not all the time; was this his only attribute?

That kept the cock that crowed in the morn

As they are wont to do.

That woke the priest all shaven and shorn

So he lived close, and woke before sunrise to remove his facial hair

That married the man all tattered and torn

I presume this was on another day, and I’d also expect he married many men. Why this one?

That kissed the maiden all forlorn

There’s the darkest line in the story. Did not the priest see her unhappiness? What social order had forced her into this situation? Was she pregnant?

That milked the cow with the crumpled horn

I cannot give you a more poignant and haunting image today than a forlorn young woman squeezing the teats of a cow with a defective cranial defensive mechanism.

That tossed the dog that worried the cat

With its head, and crumpled horn? You know the tossing wasn’t on the cat’s behalf; the dog was annoying the cow.

That killed the rat that ate the malt

Death, violent death, with terror-squeaking and blood, but nothing personal. Again, it had nothing to do with the malt. The rat didn’t think “crap, this is payback.”

That lay in the house that Jack built.

And thus does fiction draw false inferences: none of the above happened because of Jack’s malt placement. Jack’s purchase of malt had nothing to do with the bride’s unhappiness. Jack’s construction of a domicile had nothing to do with the events that followed in the story. In fact there are probably dozens of other stories that resulted specifically from Jack’s decision to construct a house, and the poem concerns itself with the irrelevant actions of barnyard animals.

And hey, Jack? You have to factor in some malt-loss due to vermin, right? I assume you buy accordingly.



Now, the Cues! BOILERPLATE: As I say every week: if you're just joining the Listen project, it includes a selection of music cues gleaned from old radio shows In this case, "The Couple Next Door," the wonderful 1958-1960 radio show written by, and starring, Peg Lynch. It's library music the producers dropped in to get them in and out of scenes. It's the background soundtrack for mid-century life.

As far as the shows go, it's an interesting batch; Peg was throwing everything at the wall in this batch.

CND Cue #260. This one exploded out of nowhere: never been used before. I can’t imagine the entire piece is like that. I’d love to know that it is.

CND Cue #261 More of that cocky-drunken genial conniving stuff.

CND Cue #262 When cutting cues, it’s best not to come in right on a modulation like this - although I don’t think anyone really paid strict attention to the stuff; it was just a way to say “The End” without putting the words up on the screen. Because there wasn’t any screen, of course.

CND Cue #263. More puttering-around hi jinx, the audio version of a Wife watching with amusement and faint dismay as the Husband tries to do something. Pratfalls into The Chord of Domestic Satisfaction.

CND Cue #264 And here’s the music the Wife would use to describe her own daily activities. Mind you, that’s how these were used - the one above was about the Husband, the one below about the Wife. They knew who their audience was.


As noted last week, the "Couple Next Door" shows were recorded with promos for CBS; local stations could put in ads, if they sold them. They're dreadful. It's a combination of bad writing and oddly stiff-but-enthusiastic line readings. This week:


CBS Promo #5. The marvels of the modern age: portable radios!


Galen Drake 1959 #2. I was unaware of him the last time I ran one of his ads; he had a style I couldn't quite define, and can't. It's completely natural. Here's another ad for that miracle greaseless stuff, with a word for the common cold you may not have heard.



The Four Lads cut a Red Cross Spot. This sounds so 1959 - the perfectly massed voices, the reverb, the workmanlike orchestration, the general appeal of a car commercial. The Lads were originally known as the Otnorots, because if you take off the S and spell it backwards it’s Toronto! They grew up there.

Of member Connie Coldari, Wikipedia says:

Codarini died on April 28, 2010, in Concord, NC, at the age of 80. Connie also owned a restaurant since the early 1980s in Medina, Ohio called Penny's Poorhouse, named after his wife. They came to Medina showing Great Danes and didn't leave until the restaurant was sold in 2007. Codarini was well known in the area for being an authentic bartender by making drinks from scratch and not taking short cuts.

The Four Lads. Sing it! Blood and fire!

That's it for this week - column up here; scroll down to the COLUMNS pane.









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