The end of the year always has an inordinate amount of cleaning and sorting and putting things into other things. Big exciting New Year’s Day: backing up and sorting receipts and choosing all the best photos from the year for a book, putting all the sorted & sifted bits of ephemera into a large plastic bag and writing the name on the front and putting it into a box under the stairs. All the folders on the computer marked TO FILE are empty; all the year’s work is numbered by date; all the videos are backed up four or five times over, and I can sit back and smile. Done.

Never happens.

But! I’m closer this year than most. Today while going through the closet in my study I found a box of cords. This is different from the main box of cords, which is also different from the travel bag of cords. The travel bag has what I need, so I can just grab it and go - which of course I never do; I have to open it it up and check. The main box of cords has the same cords as the travel bag, together with chargers for various devices. The closet bag of cords has the triplicates and cast-off adapters for bygone interfaces. (Then there’s the drawer of cords in the basement storage closet. But I don’t want to think about that. Gah. Heavy inch-thick braided composite video cords never to be used again, but you have to have one set of everything for legacy technology.) It’s just one detail of modern life, but a bane. Cords.

I can’t throw out cords any more than my mother could throw out Sioux-Bee Honey plastic bowls. And so we had a dozen, in nice pastel colors, ready for that day she knew would come - leftovers to be pressed into the hands of a parting throng. But it never happened.

Everything was sorted and arranged and tied with twists, so if I have no other successes at the end of 2014, it’ll be this: my cords were managed. I have a managed-cord situation.

Then there’s the ceremonial Wiping of the Flash Drives, because they accumulate grot, and you don’t know if it’s backed-up grot or free-floating grot that hasn’t been sprayed in triplicate across various spinning platters. The chances these things aren’t backed up is nil. But I have to check. Because GOD HELP ME if there’s a picture of the lawn in March I would casually assign to oblivion out of carelessness and ignorance. There’s nothing more mortifying than plugging in a flash drive or a camera card and seeing pictures from two years ago. MUST - CHECK.

Yes, I have cameras. Three of them. The most recent one I bought I really, really liked - but it developed a black hazy spot that appears in all pictures like a black hole in another dimension is straining to enter our world. The other camera developed a problem with its display, showing a sheet of white now and then for no reason; out of warranty and expensive to fix. One camera I bought for my wife so she could take pictures of our daughter, but she’s always been one of those tiresome people who “lives live” as it happens as opposed to standing outside of it and freezing it in place like a butterfly dosed with freon, so it fell to me. Most of these cameras should just go. They WILL go. I do resolve it.

They have insufficient megapixels and shall be harshly judged for it.

I also opened a box under the box of cords in the closet; it was labeled MATCHES. It contained: MATCHES. Lots of them. I didn’t recognize any of them, but was sure I’d scanned them. That is the law: scan as soon as they are obtained. But they hadn’t been sorted according to era and value, and I have this dream I will put all the matchbooks into thin plastic sleeves some day - a job that would require bending over them with a tiny awl and teasing out the staples, hour upon hour, until they are ready for sorting and placement, the end result of which would be a magnificent collection that will just end up on eBay some day, like all the others.

So screw it.

No, really. I have a grand collection, but the purpose is the Matchbook Museum, the finest ongoing assemblage of matchbooks on the internet. Google “matchbook collection” and see what comes up. This morning, while waking up, I added three more for the February update. It’s rote: straighten the scan, isolate, copy, resize to 335 pixels, duplicate, rotate copy 180, create blank image @ 360 X 865, cut, place, flatten, select white space, invert selection, new document, paste, apply filter. I can do it in my sleep and usually do.

I’m never going to finish this, I thought. I should start doing five a week instead of three.

Because Five is the new Three for 2015, but that’s Friday’s post.

Another thing I do at the end of the year: ruthlessly cull and trim bookmarks. I look at the site I have set aside for regular visits, and regard them with a total lack of ruth. Every year a big site gets cut, it seems. A tentpole falls. This year it was Fark. I’ve been on Fark forever, but it looks old and the comments are . . . well, it’s like Reddit. A lot of clever males unmoored from anything but tech and snark. The sort of smug adolescent impotent anger that makes them feel superior because everyone else is deluded or stupid. For some this lasts their entire life, and while it’s cute in the young it’s unbearable in those who carried this guttering pitch-stinking torch into middle age.

But I also tire of the places where the men of my demographic cohort have pulled away and disconnected and have no interest in the world at large, and seem content to shoot little toothpick arrows down at the pullulating hordes banging on the gates. Most of all I tire of the sites and comments that luxuriate in their critiques of West as the most perfidious manifestation of human nature that ever blackened this innocent orb. People who put the seed corn in the microwave and complain because it takes two minutes to pop, is probably GMO, and was marketed in a way that reinforces some horrid old social norm. And then bitch because you don't have French sea salt to sprinkle on it.

Joy and suprise and something different every day and stories and petty bitchery and gratitude: that'll keep me around. It's my mantra for this site. Failure rate: well, I suppose that's up to you.


Brief product today, because it's a lazy holiday week. (Again.) Let's end the year right by starting it even . . . righer, or something.


Easibind were, well, easy binders for keeping your LIFE magazines in pristine condition on the shelves, instead of sitting in circular bins were they sat for a month until they were thrown out. Shows you how LIFE was viewed: not just a dispensible periodical, but something akin to reference material. Something you kept for the stories about great paintings and foreign correspondance.

And the swimsuit pictures.


PULLMAN was a manufacturer of sleeping cars, and ran ads to remind everyone to take a Pullman car and sleep well. Hmm. Don't know anyone had much of a choice about that.

Shiela Barrett's first ten Google hits reference this ad, so you wonder how famous she was.

There's a Billboard reference in 1943. In 1937 she was on an NBC radio variety show, "The Time of Your Life", where her gift for instant mimicry was not confined to the physical. Which is good. Because it was radio. Although that never hurt Bergen. . Key line above: "In my profession as an imitator." Not something many people have put down on the line that says "Occupation."

Then there's the PUPPET KING, whose professional abilities are sufficient accredation for making judgments about rolling stock. Tony Sarg we know a bit more about. Wikipedia phrases it poorly, but it seems he was on the ground floor of the big-balloon innovation for Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. He was also a very, very good illustrator. And an animator. Of course we have his 1921 work, The First Circus:

DEPENDS who you talk to, I suppose:

Of course, a Commie front. Wikipedia: The International Association of Friends of the Soviet Union was an organization formed on the initiative of the Communist International in 1927, with the purpose of coordinating solidarity efforts with the Soviet Union around the world.


Let us suffer all sorts of chronological whiplash by jumping from 1937 to 1968, to see how ads changed in a mere 30 years:

The copy explains that you can now vary your dosage, just like a doctor would do! If you have a heavy cold, dial it to maximum. If you have a light cold, use the fine mist setting.

Which no one ever did. If you can go max you go max. Who ever said "oh, no, I don't think I need that much nasal relief."

A campaign I haven't encountered before; may have been a sleeper slogan that popped up from time to time, or a new one they were launching. Once again, it's that fabulous, smart, clever new world of ads we saw in "Mad Men":



Yawn. Is "eat" really the world you want to use with soup? It's neither fish-nor-fowl when it comes to descriptive verbs. You don't drink soup, but you do. You don't eat soup, but you do.

You have soup.

The hand-drawn = modern wit style of ads makes it way to the world of TV Dinners, which once distinguished themselves with the ideas of modern convenience. Now they're pitched at the epicurian. The gourmet. The person who was of course neither of those.



Let's look at that box in close up.


Mom is dressed like a medieval server, sort of. Her eyes are closed to indicate pride and satisfaction.


Stop back tomorrow for a treat from 1989. New Year's Eve TV . . . starring your host.

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