Happy Birthday, Peg!


Why don’t we wrap the trunks and branches of the trees? my wife asked on Sunday morning, and I grabbed a kitchen knife and plunged it into my abdomen. The trick is to make an upward cutting motion, and act decisively; most post-mortems of ritual suicide usually have small puncture marks indicating hesitation. The more marks, the greater your shame, but shame was probably at the root of the action anyway.

Why don’t we indeed is the preferred response all wives want from husbands, of course. Capital notion! I’ll get a-wrapping in a trice. But the husband’s response to why don’t we? is “because we’re not an urban commercial shopping district with a budget for professional holiday decorators.” Granted, some neighbors have wrapped their trunks. Some have done huge evergreens. They must pay someone. It’s perfect. If I did it the trunk would look like the string from Charlie Brown’s kite in the trees.

Also, I think it looks dumb, compared to lots of lights spread out over a big area. Also, it wouldn’t be visible from the street unless I did the limbs to the tips, and that would require a ladder, and I’ll be switched if I put a ladder on soft ground and stand on tip toe. We left it at that, and I went out to do the lights as I usually do: swearing, holding a nine-foot pole with a hook on the end, draping long swinging cords of lights over spindly branches high in the air.

I hate this job, and not because it’s particularly hard. It’s just annoying. Two months ago while cleaning out the shed I tested all the lights, and threw away the ones that were inert or partially inert. Sunday I took them out and not one - damned - strand lit up completely, except one, and as soon as I started to drape it over the limbs, one third of the bulbs cut out.

And these were professional grade. Or commercial grade, I’m not sure which. But they were a good grade, I had been led to understand. Well. Off to the hardware store to get the cheapest bulbs I could get, because they’re all going in the trash after the season’s over. I draped them wide and high, then went to my Enemy Tree in the backyard, the one that gets the colored bulbs. This is the meanest tree I’ve ever owned. It has long crooked branches with a million tiny twigs and it’s just a giant burr, really - and when you drape lights over the branches they catch on every possible protrusion, and when you try to pull the lights off the branches whip you in the face. It’s like being caught in a ball of barbed wire. Festive barbed wire.

But I got it done. Needed more lights, of course, OF COURSE, so off to Home Depot with the Giant Swede. They had sets of 100 for $1.88. They sets of 50 for $2.47. Huh. Well. Bought lots of the former, and because this was Stock Up Weekend I bought batteries as well. You hate to buy batteries but you’re always glad you have them. The Giant Swede bought LED light bulbs, biatching as usual about the price and the fact that you can’t get incandescent. At the check out counter I was biatching about the credit-card swiping machine, which requires you to push CANCEL to continue, how intuitive, and I noted that this was because of that dadgummed Dodd Frank bill, and then the Swede starts in with the clerk about the incandescent bulb legislation.

“This has been your middle-aged man episode for the week,” I told her, and her reaction suggested I had put voice to the very thing she was thinking.

“Didn’t need no EL-EE-DEEs growin’ up!” the Swede said in coot voice.

But. Putting up the lights made me feel as if the nighness of the holidays was a good thing, and that this would be a nice time. After all, we had snow.

Or did. It was warm and it rained and now it’s mostly gone, and I would be sad about this except I’m relieved and pleased and. It’s supposed to go back into the twenties this week, but without snow that’s okay.

I know how sick that sounds. I know.



It's 1967 for the rest of the this year, for some reason. We begin with the Weekly Wulitzer.

Dex Cooper’s life is over.

Dex Cooper can only dream about the life he once saw for himself, but even then it’s just fragments - a girl on a beach, a car with fins (why don’t they make those any more?), a house in Phoenix for the winter where he could golf. Instead he’s stuck in Michigan working at the warehouse. Sure, he’s the manager. Sure, he has his hobbies. Birdhouses. Likes to build birdhouses. The birds come but they always leave eventually. Just like his dreams.

Jim, on the other hand, has his misshapen left hand to consider. He can play despite it, but everyone always winces when he sits down to play, because they wonder how he’ll manage the counterpoint.


I remember this. Dimly, but I remember them.

“Grab a handful of that new cheese flavor that gets you right back.” How can it be a new cheese flavor? I thought all the cheese flavors were taken. There are allusions to some sort of supercharged cheddar - “tastes like cheddar - only better!” So it’s not cheddar, then. What is it, and why is there this Gay 90s thing going on?

Well, surely that was the only clothing-related snackfood General Mills put out in ’67.

Tastes like popcorn, tied in a bow. Because that’s easy to visualize. This was part of General Mill’s late-60s snack onslaught; Bugles were released the previous year, and Whistles came in ’69.

Only Bugles survived.


One of the reasons the era annoys me: pretending that all the interesting, complicated people were in analysis, or understood it.

If Freudian analysis can be so easily reduced to this sort of nonsense and sound plausible, it's possible the source material is equally flawed.

Interesting: everyone was assumed to know that the bald guy with that kind of facial hair and glasses was a Viennese headshrinker.

Corn Flakes probably wouldn’t be making “schitzo” jokes today.


Fresh from the Swedish Plant:

The thousand foot strop makes it sound as if the blade has been somewhat dulled before it gets to you.

The idea of buying a blade all by itself will seem inscrutible in a few years, but that's how you bought them. You stuck them in the razor and closed the top. When it was dull, you threw it away. There are untold millions in the landfill. If ever there's an explosion, the rain will hurt.


Schick is a brand of safety razors by Energizer Holdings. It was founded in 1926 by Jacob Schick as the Magazine Repeating Razor Company. He sold this company in 1928 to start another unrelated company bearing his name which marketed his newly invented electric shavers.

Way to confuse everyone, Jake. But why sell the razor business to start the shaver business? Why not fold them into the same company? He needed the capital, I guess. Still seems a bit odd. And so much for "non-compete" clauses/


This is what the true TV Dinner looked like.

A careful distrinction is made between "beef" and "Salisbury steak," as well they should. But I prefer the latter, at least in this format. It's all ghaastly, and I cannot imagine what the Mixed Seafood Grill looked like. At least the Apple Crisp delivered, thanks to sugar. Of the peas we will not speak.


It's just a soup can. It's just the basic Campbell's design. But:

I remember when those band guys appeared on the label, setting it apart from the rest. STOUT HEARTED soup. I probably wanted Hot Dog Soup; what kid wouldn't. But the BEAN part spoiled it. Never liked beans. Took me 45 years to learn to like beans.


Hoffman. But Hoffman who?

This guy's style - or just perhaps this guy - was ubiquitous from about 1966 to 1976. As I find more examples, I'll put them up.

That's it for today; hope it met your Internet Needs. See you tomorrow!


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