Problem: front yard spotlights don’t work.

Solution: jigger wires. Problem solved.

Problem: bottom-of-the-steps light doesn’t work; it’s on the same circuit.

Solution: replace bulb, which is impossible, because it means sticking my hand into a tiny space to push a bulb into position. So: jigger wires. Doesn’t work. Eh.

Problem: wife notices bottom-of-the-steps light doesn’t work, asks when it’s going to be fixed. Jigger wires. Nothing comes on anymore. Hmm. Three lights on this circuit. It’s a buried wire left by the previous owners. Is it possible the wire went bad?

How often do buried wires covered in plastic go bad?

Well. Let’s test. Two years ago I extended a line of low-voltage wire out from the backyard to the side fence, and put in some lights. They were cheap plastic lights but since they were hidden, I didn’t think it mattered. Wife did not like the look. The wire was disconnected, but knowing me, it’s still behind a bush . . . ah. Yes. With all the cheap plastic lights attached. So: get the wire, strip the ends, put it into the transformer . . . the lights work. So we have some wire.

All of the cheap plastic lights have to go, because they can’t be seen on the front lawn. WHAT WOULD THE NEIGHBORS SAY. None will release their grip on the wire; cut them off.

Now: uncover the wires from the light that doesn’t work . . . hmm. It’s a professional job. It’s a good light. It’s attached by bare wires, not the plastic clip-together things with most commercial low-voltage lights. But! If I attach the wires to the wires left in place when I clipped off the cheap plastic lights, I might have something.

Problem: I clipped them too closely. Hardly any wire. Except for one. Strip. Thread the wires together. Plug in. It works!

I should note that I am leaving out approximately 20 trips up and down the hill and 10 swap-outs of the wires in the transformer, which requires unscrewing a screw, threading the wire into the hole, screwing the screw, pulling the wire, noting how it comes right out, and repeating the process.

Since I now have power and a good wire, I can extend the wire with more cord, so it’s off to the hardware store for 50 feet. They come in different sizes and the numbers make no sense, but I buy the one that has the same thickness as The Good Wire. Take it home, strip it, mate the wires, attach the lights, and plug it in.


Nothing anywhere.

No matter what I do, nothing on the new wire will light up. Somehow it’s the wrong kind of wire. HOW CAN YOU HAVE THE WRONG KIND OF WIRE. IT’S WIRE. It’s 25 feet with three lights. It’s not like I’m expecting one copper strand to power 47 light fixtures along a 100 yards.

O the rejiggery that ensued. Eventually I got two lights to work, trashed the new wire, and stuck one of the others on another circuit.

The stairs light: nope. The bottom-of-the-steps light: forget about it. Next spring, God willing and the Krull don’t rise.

This was the entire afternoon. Up and down, poke, jiggle, screw, pull, and so on. At least I got the Halloween lights down . . . and some Christmas lights up. Because it was sunny and 58 and it took my mind off other things, such as -

and this is truly a testament to the peculiar nature of my life -

Should I email Buck Dharma that “Kids of the Past” video I did where I played guitar?

I mean, he was an inspiration, one of the reasons I started playing guitar in the first place. I think I’ll go with yes.

And as I’m standing here at the table writing this, daughter comes down: she was looking through the drawers for one of Mom’s shirts. Which drawer? Doesn’t really narrow it down, seeing as how she occupies the entire dresser, five of six drawers of the dresser in the spare room, 65% of the master closet space and has, in the last year, somehow occupied 20 percent of the storage space on my side of the master closet. Hmmmm? She holds up the T-shirt and I know exactly which drawer. My drawer of Special T-Shirts that cannot be tossed, and cannot be worn. There are three. One is from Klingon Language Camp. One is from 1983, the Minnesota Daily; there will be a time again when I wear it. Bury me in it, maybe. Then this:

It’s a cartoon by Jack Ohman, the great syndicated cartoonist with whom I agree half the time and enjoy all the time, because he’s a great cartoonist. We were covering the 1996 GOP convention in Texas, and were stuck miles from the action in a Days Inn. Commemorative T-shirts were made for the troops.

Daughter thinks T-shirt is AMAZING because of Munch’s Scream, and wants to know if she can wear it to school. But of course. But don’t spill! It’s one of a kind.


As promised - or threatened, I can't recall - some more DC pictures. Because I want to. Daniel Webster:


Back to 1967 again, for a reason I can't quite recall, but that's the theme for the rest of the year. It's the end of the old culture and the rise of the new, co-opted whenever possible by novelty-addled ad men.

P-p-p-p-people try to rip us (thump thump) offff

Fine print: be sure to see the Andy Williams Special. Because everyone who loves this ad is also a big Andy Williams fan. And everyone who loves modern rock goes ca-raaazy when they use words like Cool and Dig. And the people who love Andy Williams are also in the mood for ersatz who.

Great job, Full Service.


Such an archetype:

The standard 1967 New Yorker Middle-Management type, looking with that famous East Coast skepticism we all find so charming. TRIACTIN. Because it has Three Actions. The "IN" suffix is one of those made-up Mad Av phonemes to indicate medicine.

No one trusts tablets to do the work, that's the problem. Either smother it with Pepto-Bismol, or down an Alka-Seltzer so you can burp. If a tablet could soak it all up it would have to expand to the size of a tennis ball.


Everything wrong with 1967 design is summed up in this ad right here. Particularly the sign. Oh, it's . . . homey, I guess, and traditional, but

The style was just as overwhelming and ill-proportioned as it looks. Here's an old model, done in the style a Texan might call "all roof and no window."


A Wollensak unit, branded with the 3M logo:

Mr. Wollensak founded a camera shutter company in 1899 in the center of American tech and photography, Rochester. (Previously he worked on shutters with a fellow named Bausch.)


A flip-side version of the last Product organ ad, which featured a sleepy housewife with nothing to do but slip into the clammy arms of Morpheus, another mortal allotment spent with naught to show for it:

Most guys might think Bob got the better end of the deal here. I mean, he saw a movie.


A very 1967 typeface, probably hand-drawn, invented for the ad.

Did anyone buy cards with a nagging sense of doubt and trepidation?

It's the Cel-U-Tone that caught my eye: that has to go back many years, to the days when things were hyped for their Cellulose attributes. Sure enough, the brand goes back to 1881. From the website of the parent company:

During World War II, the company secretly worked with the U. S. government in fabricating special decks to send as gifts for American prisoners of war in German camps. When these cards were moistened, they peeled apart to reveal sections of a map indicating precise escape routes.

How did the POWs know? One night the cards got wet and the maps were revealed, and the POWs looked dumbly at the routes, thinking and we've had these cards for two years.



Get that "old feeling" because a life of debauchery has numbed you to simple human sensations:


He doesn't look entirely thrilled about this, does he? More like Can you believe it? This again.


Because if there's one thing people like in a pudding, it's the suggestion of a metallic aftertaste:

Fancy! Elegant. Made for fine dishes. but you know you'll sit in front of the TV and eat the whole damned can, don't you.



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