This will be the worst week of the winter. Not that anything bad is going to happen; I think we’ll all be fine. But there’s something so mundane and empty and wearying about the second week in February. You can’t be sick of winter, because there’s so much more to go. It’s too soon to dream of spring, and besides, it’s unwise to wish you could be done with the next six weeks in advance, as if time was a record you could replay if you wanted to skip ahead and go back. If time is a record, there’s no B-side. Just one groove spiraling towards the hole.
So no, I don’t wish it was spring. Yes, I’m glad the shortest month takes its time. No, I don’t mind the snow due this week. Yes, I know that once Valentine’s Day is passed you start to feel as if a corner’s been turned. This is the depths, right here. Let’s enjoy it together, eh?
Me, I’m ready. My phone is loaded up with the history podcasts I want to hear. The meals for the week are all planned. Why, the Bleat itself is in fine shape. Would you like to go behind the scenes? Let me pull back the curtain and reveal the hard work behind the magic:
On the left is is the updates and the below-the-fold features. The left boxes indicate whether it’s been laid out, and whether it’s been written. The right box is checked when it’s uploaded. The other page has the folder for the art - 0202, in this week’s case - and the names of the files that need uploading. The Blue tab is the current week. The Yellow tab is the most proximate week that needs work. The Pink tab is the outermost week, in progress.
Everything in my life is digital, except for this notebook. There is no digital equivalent to the satisfaction of checking a box with a pen. Swiping to dismiss doesn’t even come close.
Anyway: ready. The drawer where daughter's lunch stuff is stocked; the playlists for the upcoming week's radio shows are stocked; all of the TO FILE folders are emptied, everything having been filed; all the chargers are charged; I need only fill up the Tumblr and the week is ready to go.
That's how I spent the weekend: getting ready for the week. And now to spend the week getting ready for the weekend.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Friday night’s usual work was tossed aside when wife & friend came back from a concert. We sat downstairs playing Name That 70s or 80s TV Show Theme, which Barb had on her phone for some reason. I think she’s trying to learn them for one of the bands she’s in. She’s a bassist, and you can always make the crowd happy if you start with the Barney Miller riff. That was great fun, and reminded me how these things burn into your memory. All these years and I can name the “Love, American Style” theme instantaneously, and repeat those wretched lyrics. And by the dawn's early light my love / I will respect your right to try. Try what? For years I thought it was "your right to cry," which was goopy in the lovin' groovy sense of it All Being So Wonderful, a notion that would reach its apotheosis in "Sometimes When We Touch." The honesty's too much / And I have to close my eyes / And hide. You just want to slap him but you'd get beard oil on your palm.
I want to hold you till I die / Till we both break down and cry / I want to hold you till the fear in me subsides
What a fun couple. Loads of laffs at parties, I'm sure.
No more piano lessons, as I noted a few weeks ago. Now it’s mostly singing. But: same teacher, same building, same routine, in a way. Piano was on Friday for seven or eight years, part of the routine that signaled the end of the week. Classes with other kids for many years, with a core group supplemented by stragglers. One kid was always upbraided by overly demanding mom who could not abide imperfection; she would haul him out of class for infractions both behavioral and aesthetic, and once she pulled him out and they never came back. Lord knows what sort of a sullen, quivering wreck he is today.
The class dissolved, but we kept taking private lessons in the same school. Continuity! Since it was Friday, that meant picking up the pizza on the way home. Then then pizza place moved a few blocks up the street. Same manager, though: continuity! Then she left. A new manager came along and he was keen on making my pizza experience everything it could be, because if the former manager passed along anything, it was “this guy. Sauce. Don’t contrude with his sauce requirements. Sauce it up.” But then he left. and it’s like I don’t know anyone there any more.
So now pizza on Friday is just wiiiiide open, and no longer part of the Friday piano sequence. Detail by detail everything shifts. Give it three weeks and it’s a tradition and the new idea is now a tradition. Anyway. After piano: Uptown.
Daughter is getting glasses, and since everything in the mall stores was bland, it was time to try the Spectacle Shoppe in Uptown. Because in Uptown things are Funky, and Chic. Or differing amounts of each. Daughter found specs that flattered her self-image, and wouldn’t you know it the store had a coupon on their website that could be applied to our purchase: $100 off! That’s great. That also tells you what the margins must be on these things. No one ever feels quite so reamed as when buying eyeglasses. Three hundred dollars for a foot of wire and tiny screws.
When we conclude our purchase the clerk gives Daughter a rose. A real rose in cellophane with a vial of water at the stem. Because it’s Uptown We love Uptown. I note a vintage clothes show across the street; want to look? Sure. Patterns from the Metrecal Era:
This is serious vintage, where the term means 40s - 60s, not the kids' current definition of "anything contemporaneous with 'Saved by the Bell.'" We buy nothing (I saw ties I liked, but not $36 like) and went next door to Spyhouse for coffee. It’s a funky Uptown place full of Uptown funkyness, because it has a small bust of JFK: whimsy! Also RESPECT and that Grandma’s-living-room vibe.
We sat in the back and drank good, expensive coffee. Criminey: three dollars for a cup of Americano. Well, unclench, tightwad, and enjoy the moment. Which I did. We had a discussion about the music the cafe was playing, and she was surprised to learn I did not care for 20s and 30s Blues. Or Blues, period. But it’s old. It’s from that time you’re interested in. True. But it leaves me cold. I know there are a million subtle variations in all these records but to me it’s all the same. Got up this morning / why you done me wrong / my mane cain’t be true / my hoss done run long and so on. And everyone in the band is stoned.
Walked back to the car and drove home as she pointed to places she'd like to live. That's what Uptown is for. It’s what you aspire to when you’re in college. It’s what you leave with slight regret when you grow up and get the house. It’s what you always miss a little. It’s what you come back to, with your child, and point out what used to be there and what happened here.
And she’s interested and likes the time spent together. Too good to be true.
Continuing with the industrials made by companies that couldn't spring for color, or didn't see the point of the expense:
The Cheerful Chevy Go-Sell-Stuff Theme!
Meet the hard-nosed no-nonsense Bossman:
Here's his new hire, played by Michael Shanley of "Boardwalk Empire" and other fine shows.
He’s eager to get started, but first he has to read lots of manuals, and it's a parade of nifty little covers I'd love to own.
Did I say little covers?
That's the Acme Novelty Library version.
As it turns out, Jimmy is going door to door to sell cars. Imagine that: hello, I know you’re busy, but could we sit down and discuss an extremely large purchase? He has no luck, but is undaunted, and bucks himself up thus, making all the other ladies on the street draw their curtains in haste.
He gets nowhere on a construction site, which might have something to do with the fact that he showed up at a construction site. He doubts his ability to sell cars, and next we see him talking to a prospect who is sweaty, unhappy, and possibly drunk.
Jimmy can’t say why the Chevy is better than the Plymouth. The prospect asks him that question and he can’t answer it. NO SALE. But he’s not letting that slow him down.
We switch to a front porch, where the bossman is pensively sucking a cigar, and his father asks what’s the matter.
It’s that Jimmy. He’s not learned the knack. He’s not doing as well as he should be doing, and the bossman is pretty much steamed up about it. He doesn’t have tie to play nursemaid. But Dad reminds him that when he started out, Harry Carpenter gave him lots of breaks as well as advice, and it seems like we’re heading for a flashback . . . but no, it’s just a scene to make us aware of Dad’s heartbreaking mental decline:
Bossman goes on about the importance of prospects being pounded into him, and Dad asks if he’s reminded him of the importance of prospects being pounded into him. HARRY CARPENTER POUNDED PROSPECTS INTO HIM, after all.
So Bossman realizes that Men need leaders, leaders who can pound things into them, and starting Monday he’s going to show the sales force what leadership means. That includes pearls of capitalist acumen you just can’t get in school, but have to learn on the hard-knock streets were every dime matters:
You can’t teach insights like that. You have to live them.
Bossman gives Jimmy a lesson on winnowing out crappy leads, which makes you wonder whether this is aimed at salesmen or managers. If it’s the former, why are we spending so much time now on the deficiencies of management? If it’s the latter, and intended to make managers manage better, why is it called “Hired”? I suspect it’s aimed at employees, and Bossman is a complex figure who realizes that he is indeed a leader of men, and has things to teach them. Unlike the guy they actually work for.
Jimmy, meanwhile, has strange new feelings for Bossman.
A montage gives us the Chevrolet Salesman March of Sales:
Go sell 'em, boys!
The prospects come to the showroom, unaware that war will soon make these vehicles unobtainable, and all production will be diverted to instruments of righteous destruction.
But can Jimmy sell a car to this skeptical old man?
Montage with the Salesman March of Sales, lots of diagonal wipes and titled camera angles - and then he signs! It ends with five points for good salesmen . . .
. . . and now it’s clear this is aimed at the managers. The title “Hired!” shifted the focus so it didn’t seem like this was Chevy’s way of telling them they were all crappy managers. But that’s okay.
He changed. You can too.
You'd better. Regional sales figures are in. You're hanging by a thread, mister. By a thread.
Matches, of course. It's Monday. Have a fine day, and I'll see you in the usual places.