Today: the link between disposable razors and utopian socialism. But first:

The mist came in.

And then the snow.

It’s nice. It’s timely. Who can complain about snow in December? It’s why we’re here: the guarantee of seasonal adornment to go along with the return of those songs you didn’t really miss and the decorations whose appearance in the Big Box Hardware Store makes you wonder who, exactly buys a big plastic Santa whose face is askew because someone bumped the robot in a Shanghai industrial zone while it was spraying on the eyes.

Sunday I put up the light. This is no small event. The back lights I did two weeks back, cursing as usual as the tree put up the usual fight. It has innumerable short twiggy protrusions from its supple branches, and every time you lay a line of lights acros them the twigs grab it like demons trying to claw a victim down to hell. And of course the lights catch on themselves. Everything snags on everything. You are sure there is a better way and it probably involves LDCs but they’re expensive and besides it’s not as if you can snap your fingers and Home Depot drops a perfect net over your house by helicopter, so you soldier on until they’re draped in that back-and-forth pattern that doesn’t look like you just jammed them up there with the business end of a show shovel and said to hell with it.

The front tree is a different matter. It is tall, which means you would ignore it completely if not for wifely insistence. She has a point: when lit, it stands atop the hill like a torch. or at least a torch in which one third of the lights in one strand went out after you’d put it all up there. The only way to get the strands on the upper boughs is to use the Pole of Poking, which was left by the previous owners. It’s about 12 feet long, and has a hook on one end. Or did. The hook was taped on, and finally fell off after a dozen years of service. So i bought a coat hook, screwed it in instead of taping it, feeling like a man who accomplishes things, and doesn’t take any half-measures nosirree.

But then I discovered that this hook was different. When I picked up the strand . . . it stayed in place about as often as before. But it was different in the sense that it was white. And was screwed in. Other than that, it provided no amusing anecdote of hair-yanking frustration I could parlay into Bleat material for your entertainment. GHOULS.

Sorry! The mask slipped for a moment there. Anyway, I got all 600 lights up while listening to an old Suspense radio show (this one was a mine-sweeper tale from the Korean war, as opposed to last year, when I put them up while listening to a Gunsmoke about a dancehall doxy who made two men fight for her. I remember these things. Radio is like that.) Then I did the evergreens and the front bushes and hooked it up to a device I can activate from inside.

Pushed the button, Max, and . . .

They all went dead.

Because of course they’d been on all along, and I was just testing the remote. Honestly, do you think I’d put them up without plugging them in first? Yes! you say. Because you could get a story out of it! We had our hopes up with the hook, but that didn’t pan out.

Sorry. To recap, then: I put up the lights, and all went well, and they look good. Then the snow came. Ta da. Also, picked up daughter from after-school class, because that way I can make her come with me to the grocery store.



For a bull, Elmer is such a Drama Cow:

I’d tell you what it’s about, but you can imagine. Elmer is hurt. Cut to the quick. Instead of shouting and raging and blowing steam out of his nose, he stands at the dinner table with a look that says he will foreswear this world for another place where sins such as his are accepted.

Poor Beulah.

This week I’ve tried to get as many in-store promo displays as I could - which isn’t hard. Before Christmas in the Olden Tymes the ads were full of these things to alert people: look for this! Buy when you see this! They’re a particularly ephemeral form of marketing; cardboard, seasonal, discarded when the next one came along. We begin with . . .


From the golden age of company HQs:

From the golden age of company HQs:

View Larger Map

This Wisconsin historical site says:

The seven-story tower has applied brick pilasters of varying height and width that give the tower a stepped, zig-zag, Art Deco appearance. While the main parts of the building were designed as large open spaces, the tower contained stairs and an elevator. The fifth floor of the tower originally contained a conference room and the president's office.

Of course it did! From there he could COMMAND THE INDUSTRY. The tower was built in 1929; the rest was built in 1925. Amity dominated the industry in the 30s and 40s, thanks to the vision of its founder, Robert Rolfs. The article said he learned a few tricks from another Wisconsin cowhide-repurposing magnate, Enger Kress. I mention that only because I like the name, and it might be familiar to people familiar with old gun holsters.

The building holds apartments today.


Hail the King:

King Gillette, of course. You know, the brilliant guy who said “we’ll sell them the razors cheap and make them pay more for blades!” Except no, he didn’t, according to wikipedia: “in fact he only adopted this model after his competitors did.” News to me as well:

Gillette was also a Utopian Socialist. He published a book titled The Human Drift (1894) which advocated that all industry should be taken over by a single corporation owned by the public, and that everyone in the US should live in a giant city called Metropolis powered by Niagara Falls. A later book, World Corporation (1910)was a prospectus for a company set up to create this vision. He offered Theodore Roosevelt the presidency of the company, with a fee of one million dollars. (Roosevelt declined the offer.)

What would it have looked like?

Gillette gives a highly specific picture of his metropolis: it is shaped in a perfect rectangle, 135 miles on the long side and 45 on the short. Even with necessary farming and mining, most of the rest of North America outside Metropolis would be a natural environment. Gillette saw the city as containing the full population of the United States at that time, sixty million people; he also thought that the city could accept another thirty million in future population growth.

Gillette wanted the buildings of Metropolis to be built of porcelain, for endurance and cleanliness.

A city you can just hose down and it’s sparkling white! Yes, who wouldn’t want to live in a city where these Matrix hives marched east and west as far as they eye could see:

King concluded his book thus: I here reiterate what I have said before, that no system can ever be a perfect system, and free from incentive for crime, until money and all representative value of material is swept from the face of the earth.

He died poor, but mostly because he’d spent so much money . . . buying property.


Everyone’s thrilled when the home movie screen comes out!

$119 wasn’t hay, and as you can see they needed a few lights if you were shooting indoors. But it was a start; the democratization of video is one of the great achievements of the last 50 years. If you’d told someone in ’52 that everyone would have cameras in their pockets that would take movies - with sound! - in astonishing quality, instantly viewable, edited with a few flicks of the finger on the screen of the device (which, by the way, was a radio, music player, encyclopedia AND PHONE) they would have said lands sakes, that’s wonderful!
Well, yes and no. People will hold them sideways and ruin everything.


Now this is good design.

There was a Mr. Mennen; Gerhard Mennen. More important, I remember that talcum container: it sat in my parent’s basement bathroom for decades. No one threw it away because it was metal, perhaps. You could fill it back up. Good as new.


Guess what there used to be?

Old Spice for women. In fact, OSfW came before the scent aimed at men. This page says the ships on the original packages in 1937-8 were the “Grand Turk” and the “Friendship.” Wikipedia isn’t helpful, and I’m not in the mood to poke around too much, since I’ve no idea what possible information we might glean. But there was a 19th century ship called “Friendship” that was purchased by a Spaniard and renamed. Fellow named Speilberg made a movie about it.


This has a crisp wintry look:

I’ll bet a box or two shows up on eBay from time to time. A guy gets that, he might set it aside for a night out, an anniversary dinner. And then he’d forget it. The box would sit on the top shelf for decades and the kids would find it when they clean out the closet for good.

The usual things in the usual places! Site notes: The Bleat redesign for 2014 is finished; the main index page is almost done. Aren't you excited to see what sort of incremental changes will characterize 2014? I'm looking forward to the rollout. If only because it'll be 2014. I hate odd years.









blog comments powered by Disqus