Went to St. Paul to film a video on the Home and Patio show today. It was a stony furrow to plow. Walking around a showroom full of rocks and fences, looking for amusing things to describe: oy. But I cannot and will not and should not complain and you can beat me with stout hoses if I do; days like this are perfect, because they are full of things to do and see and people to talk to. At the end when I’d finished every obligation I drove to Starbucks to get a Valentine’s Day gift card for daughter. I’d seen them the day before and pointed out that I should buy one for her and then add it to my collection of Starbucks cards.

“Hoarder,” she said.

Really? Well, it’s an ongoing joke we have. Whenever I set something aside for History, I’m a hoarder. Whenever I pocket a condiment package and say “it’ll come in handy on the plane,” she rolls her eyes. (Until we’re on the plane a few weeks later, and I pull it out, and say “see? See? Huh? I have horseradish now and no one else on the plane has horseradish.”) One morning she was late getting out the door, and I said “Well, I’m not driving you to school. Miss the bus and you’re walking.” This became a regular thing, said with classic-dad gruffness: “I’m not driving you to school.” The other morn I came downstairs and said “I’m driving you to school,” and she said “really?”

Hah! Spent a month setting that one up.

A few weeks ago I was taking her to Confirmation, and she’d forgotten her Catechism booklet. At the door I said: “Meow.” I saw the gears turn, and then she got it and ran back upstairs for the booklet. The next week my wife was taking her, and as they headed out I said MEOW and she said OH RIGHT and came back up to get the booklet. Wife is . . . confused.

Lately I’ve been irritating her by speaking in outmoded Meme lingo.

Anyway, they were out of the cards. I asked if they had any left, and they hunted around and came up with one. And I thought: “last chicken in the shop,” that phrase that lodged in my brain like a railroad spike driven by a pneumatic gun by Nick Lowe, when he used it as a band name on the Stiffs Live ’77 album. It’s what I say when we’re shopping and I get the last of something, and she notes it: you always say that. She’ll remember that just as I remember my dad saying “and we’re off like a dirty shirt” when he pulled the Merc out of the garage. (Or, alternately, “we’re off like a herd of turtles.”)

Turns out the phrase doesn’t always refer to chickens, in the shop or otherwise, but we’ll let that go. I just want to say I am not a hoarder. I am one who Sets Aside Things. In 30 years ebay will be full of people selling collections of Starbucks cards, because they will be collectibles. I’m not holding on to them for their value; they have little. I’m not collecting them myself. But they’re interesting objects with graphics that speak to their era, and it seems to be an easy thing to set them aside for someone down the road who will be a collector. Do a Google Image Search for Starbucks cards: I’m hardly alone. Almost makes me want to take up collecting the things.

As if I need one more reason for ebay to send me alerts. Every day between 7 and 7:30 PM my phone tells me there are matchbooks available. Also Howard Johnson memorabilia. Why? Because the most incredible thing of my young life was a trip to the big city to stay in a HoJo and go the Southdale Mall. It’s probably why I’m here. Twelve years later my parents drove me down to take me to college, and we stayed at the same Howard Johnson’s. I had the fried clams, of course. Threw them all up around midnight.

Not an auspicious start, but I’m still glad I came.

Where was I? Oh. The Home and Patio Show.

The show also included the “JFK Experience,” with lots of presidential memorabilia. For some reason. When I asked directions, I could not resist: so it’s back, and to the left. Back, and to the left.

Which it was, as it turned out.


The owner was there to give us insight on the various items, which ranged from the authentic (cufflinks) to the inauthentically authentic, such as the Real Suit Worn by the Man Who Played JFK in the Movie “Ruby.” There was a reproduction of the presidential limo, which had appeared in the movie JFK. You get a sick feeling looking at it.

There were the official Presidential Cigarettes, even though JFK was a cheroot man.

  Matchbooks in the style of the times: the new simplified modern graphics. They look a bit . . . crude by today's standards. Possibly because they are.

Then I went home and filed a column and flopped on the bed and napped. The day's work was half done.


I love this feature. I really do. Where else could you have the Lum & Abner Mad Organist Challenge?

To bring you up to speed: many old radio shows had an organ to provide incidental music, and the fellow who played between scenes on Lum & Abner seemed to have a lot of fun amusing himself with references to other pieces.

Setup: The out-of-control robot killed a bull, and Abner was sued. Their plans for a court defense were accidentally leaked to Squire Skimp, the fellow who’s as close as the show came to a stock villain. What will they have to do now?

Trial strategy in trouble

The organists knew most people would get that one straight away. We'll answer that one a bit later. First, an instance when I didn't get it, and should have. I was listening to a BBC drama about 19th century poisoners. It began thus.


I peered at the speakers, thinking "I know that. Where? And then it came to me.

Now. What are the chances that the BBC had access to the same music library, and had HQ versions in stereo? It had to be from somewhere else. And so I went off in search of the terrfying music. We'll get to the rest of that story in a bit, but first we have to do the weekly sample of music cues from the exceptionally witty and warm-hearted Peg Lynch radio show, "The Couple Next Door." I listen to an ep every mornign and snag the cues that stick out, or seem new, attempting to reconstruct the background symphony of the late 50s domestic world.

New pieces of CBS Library music continue to trickle in.

CND Cue #308 Another one-two-three ending stinger.

CND Cue #309 Sometimes you hear a little snippet and think: “ringtone.” No one in the world ever thought that then.

CND Cue #310 Been a while since we’ve head the Chord of Domestic Satisfaction; this one doesn’t really seem to earn it.

CND Cue #311 Listen to the modulations involved in getting up to the floor where the melody’s waiting.

CND Cue #312 BRAND NEW and never heard before, and it’s wonderful - almost something you’d hear at the end of a 1960s game show. Now I await the rest of this doled out over the next forty episodes.

CND Cue #313 BRAND NEW, I think. This belongs more to the decade to come than the one just ending, wouldn’t you say? More early 60s than the 50s-sounding stuff we’ve been hearing for months.

CND Cue #314 You almost think you’re about hear the very first FOUR-NOTE ending.

CND Cue #315 This is used often - but never like this. Spliced in? Or another version held in reserve for DRAMA?

CND Cue #316 I include the dialogue so you can get the point of the selection: They’re Off to War.

Now, the Mystery Organ Music.

Remember, their old trial strategy has been blown apart.

Easy, wasn't it? He said, smugly.

As for the other one, this shows great gaps in my own knowledge. Let's hear it again.






From the Archie Bunker Era of advertising: one of them libber chicks thinks she can buy a car on her own.

Buick car ad, 1974.


Updates on the right - Patriotica ads, and a NEW COLUMN at the newspaper. Here. (Scroll down to the Columnists pane; when I did this it hadn't posted yet.) Have a grand weekend!



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