This picture, in case you were wondering, isn't Art. It's an ad. If it was Art, and belonged to a particular school - say, The New Perspectivists - it would be studied and admired, and all sorts of meanings would be teased out of the image. (You could even get a term paper out of the seemingly inconsistent shadows - the rail-shadow on the ties vs. the posts by the side of the road.) It's intentional! Create a subconscious sense of unease that accompanies the larger message, which is the individual vs. the collective.

But it's just an ad.

Today I unsubscribed from an email list for an Edinborough Arts Festival, it being unlikely I will be writing about Scottish theater soon, or ever. I also unsubscribed from the White Kidney Bean Extract mailings, again, although it’s possible the previous effort has not been processed. As you’re informed, it may take 5-7 days for the change to apply, because apparently it’s done by hand by an old man with narcolepsy who thinks he can take you off the list by taking a pencil eraser to the computer screen. Or, it’s actually a way of verifying your address and letting them know it’s real, because that’s a great business model: the first 50 emails didn’t work, but by God the next 100, and the additional ones he’ll get for mail-order pants-pole pills, that’ll hook him.

Not to say email doesn’t work. I get emails from certain software companies that I enjoy getting. They’re well-designed and are, as they say, relevant to my interests. Here are some fonts. Here’s a bundle of software! Fourteen programs, and you name your own price. $379 value.

Okay, one dollar.

Fine! Here’s the download link. Of course, few of the 14 programs are interesting. There’s always an abandoned web-design program that hasn’t been updated since 2010, a time-management program that automatically dims the screen at programmable intervals to remind you to move, or stretch, or pee for heaven’s sake; something that rips videos from YouTube, so instead of not watching it now you can not watch it later; something that converts videos from one format to the other, which is always a hideous shiny beveled interface over some open-source program, and junk like “GarageSale Buddy” or something. It’s rare to find a program that fits a need, and I feel like a patent office bureaucrat in 1887 saying “everything that can be invented has been invented.” But it feels true.

For example. I bought, for a low introductory price, a program that just does . . . things. Lots of things. Drop a file in the little Action Zone and choose from the list of options. Compresses your email! Converts your video! Speaks text! Consolidates your monthly bills! Scans the heavens for signals of intelligent life! Uncompresses RAR files and converts the resulting M4V into FLV and searches google for the subtitle files! I never use it, as it turns out. Because - and here’s the lesson, maybe - I would rather have ten elegant programs that do one thing than one kludgy wad of code that does twenty.

Anyway. Somewhere along the line I was added to a million lists for every single political cause in the country, and while some find the various wheedling pleas to be A) amusing, and B) a sign that both left and right are united in their constant sweaty panic that horrible things are imminent if I don’t part with five dollars and Stand Up For This Thing That Requires Up Standing, they contribute to tsuris in my life and I despise them.

I must end here for the daily update part, because I have three pieces due to the paper tomorrow. One is not a problem; minor editing. One is already done, and there’s a tale: last night I finished the column around 1 AM, thought “whatever minor difficulties exist can be easily dispatched come the gracious glory of the morning sun.” When I looked at it the next day it was an unholy fusion of two ideas that did not go together. It was as if I’d said, after 325 words, “If I may now change the subject from diesel trains to small, marble carvings.” Removing the stuff that didn’t work invalidated the entire premise of the article, too.

Hmm. Well.

So I sat down and cracked my knuckles, removed the stuff that didn’t fit, set it aside for Sunday’s column, and completely rewrote the other part in 55 minutes, with two breaks to walk around and let a line or two work itself out in my head. If you read today’s Strib column, that’s the backstory. I think it worked out better for it.

I have every intention of rewriting the stuff I removed for Sunday’s column as soon as I post this. I have a sneaking fear I will come back from upstairs, having uploaded everything and done a cursory check to make sure it all works, and will think ahhhh, it’s been a long day. Hello Judge Judy.

And then I will wake tomorrow and find that the stuff I took out is UTTER KREP, and I will be scrambling to fix that AND squeezing down a long interview I did this evening into the weekly profile I write for Sunday Metro AND finishing the edits on the piece whose nature I cannot tell you because it’s a secret, but oh, man, it’s just the best news I’ve had professionally in a long time.

But that’s next month. Anyway: sorry the week was lame, but at least there’s been lots of it.

A brief thing to tie together Monday through Friday: Were these actors from Peyton Place Episode #100 also on Star Trek, or, Failing That, Some Other Form of Science Fiction?

Tell me you don't recognize this guy. Go on. Try. He always looked like . . . a cruel ostrich. Remember that one ep he did in the first season of Star Trek? He was an official at a colony that was having the problem with those creatures? Right.

Wrong. He was in "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century." But! He was on Star Trek: the Next Generation, which just seems odd. He's such a TOS kind of guy.



Commercial archeology, domestic nomenclature division: first, some dialogue that made me sit up. From Peg Lynch's "Couple Next Door" - but you knew that.

CND The Christmas Party #1

Did you catch it? I didn’t. Flew past me the first few mentions, and then it pinged. Of course. The Darrows. That would be Whitney Darrow Jr. When I was a kid looking through old New Yorkers I loved Whitney Darrow Jr.’s cartoons, and when I later discovered old magazines I spied his style here and there as well - he was one of those illustrators who got to sign his name, because it was prestigious to have Darrow on your side.

Fast forward decades; I’m in Peg’s house, and discover on the wall a few cartoons whose style is instantly recognizable . . . whoa. They’re real Darrows. Casual little things he tossed off, if I recall - thanks for the party, a Christmas invite. They were all friends, and she slipped his name into her national show. I doubt anyone listening put it together. Anyone. Even if they knew the cartoonist’s name, why would the funny lady on the radio know him? She was a housewife in the town of . . . well, that town.

Let’s head to the end of the show, when the party that began as a simple dinner for the Darrows has ballooned to 30 people. The phone rings.

Wikipedia says he was married to Mildred, but her friends, we now know, called her something else.

CND The Christmas Party #2

Whit and Middie. I can’t think of a better set of mid-century East Coast New Yorker-mag-connected name in the world, can you? Whit and Middie.

And now some cues.

CND Cue #444 Industry! Steel! The promise of tomorrow!

CND Cue #445 Soundtrack for living with a happy six-year-old girl, perhaps.

CND Cue #446 This is peculiar - completely out of character for the music the show usually played. The characters are marooned in a cabin in the winter, worrying about whether there are Indians around. (Long story. And very funny.)

Continuing the series of less-impressive but always instructive X-Minus 1 sci-fi music cues:

X-Minus 1 Cue #65 Rather dramatic wife-introduction music. No hubba-hubba factor, obviously.

X-Minus 1 Cue #66 More Buzz-Lightyear up-and-away music; this is perfect for 50s radio sci-fi.`

X-Minus 1 Cue #67 Go ahead, crib from Rite of Spring, it's not like anyone will notice

X-Minus 1 Cue #68 If I had to bet, I'd say yes: John Williams. Sounds a lot like the first two Star Wars scores.

X-Minus 1 Cue #69 And thus is langorous ease and peace destroyed.

X-Minus 1 Cue #70 Something from three minutes into a middle-period Mahler adagio.

X-Minus 1 Cue #71 And so our week ends. Ahhhhh.


There's tension headaches, exhaustion headaches, hangover headaches . . . anything else? Yes: when you hear the type of headache Alka-Seltzer describes here, you'll know exactly what they mean - and who the target market is.

Alka-Seltzer invents a new pain.


Work blog around 12:30, Tumblr around noonish or so - see you then!


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