The nap was fraught with drama, punctuated by a horrible moment where some core sample of dread seemed to bolt to the surface and explode in my head revealing in stark white letters a four-letter word that seemed to speak some horrible fact - i jerked awake, shook my head, and sunk back to sleep, but woke with my brain feeling as if it was slathered with oil and covered with sand.
We went to the grocery store, so I could buy lettuce for tacos. I get it from the salad bar. It didn’t seem like a lot of lettuce, yet it seemed sufficient. I wandered around looking to see if I needed anything else. Ugly bottle of BBQ sauce, the ugliness promising authenticity? No. Frozen pizza? It’s on sale. But it’s always on sale. The day you can walk into a grocery store and not find a brand on sale is the day when the pepperoni cartel has decided to put the screws to a world that has become entirely too accustomed to cheap pepperoni. Granted, some of the brands aren’t ones I’d choose. I don’t got for the first-name pizzas. Jack’s. Tony’s. i don't go for the two-buck Totino’s Party Pizzas because I am not having a party and I am not in my twenties, when those things were the big weekend treat. Little pepperoni nubbins like pencil erasers.
All of a sudden I want one.
Didn’t need anything, so I checked out. Sixty cents worth of lettuce. Between the bag and the container and the rubber band holding the container they probably lost money on me. The rubber band is your assurance that the plastic clamshell won’t open, even thought it’s securely cinched. Last year they changed to a new clamshell you could never be sure was closed; people complained. They added rubber bands to reassure you. They’ve since switched back to the ones that close with a satisfying snap, but they have to keep the rubber bands because people expect them.
OTHERWISE THERE IS KALE JUST EVERYWHERE
The real reason I’m logy can be laid squarely at the feet of a glass of red wine, which just lays me out. What a disappointment. I like the stuff and would like a second glass, but the idea of making yourself an espresso to perk up for another glass seems wrong. I would drink red wine more often except that it puts me to sleep, something no other beverage does. Since I work at night, this is a problem. It is literally like showing up for work drunk.
As the movie drinkers would say. That was always the sign that someone was hammered in a movie: hic. Something I’ve never seen anyone do. Also people were prone to sing “How Dry I Am,” preferably with their hair mussed and hanging over the shoulder of a Pal. If you look at old movie depictions of being drunk, people are seriously drunk. Staggering, cross-eyed, unable to count coins, lighting pencils instead of cigarettes. Drunk drunk.
Well, no, that’s not entirely true. If they were tipsy, which was different, they were delightful. Twinkle-toed and sparkle-eyed and given to happy pronouncements. But there was no in-between. You were either tipsy or you were high, soused, pixillated, drowned, spifficated.
Anyway, I hate it. I hate being sleepy. I want consciousness to be a binary state, and usually it is. I go to bed and fall asleep. Prior to that I am not in bed because I am awake. Well, good thing I wrote something this afternoon. Shall we? After the break.
So what’s the problem with you today? You like nice things, for one. Stop liking nice things. You should be out there doing loud, ugly things that are authentic.
This article decries the rise of Twee, which is stuff that is cute and nice, or at least attractive and nice. Gentle and nostalgic. The author disapproves.
The most regrettable omission in this potentially important book is any reflection on why the post-war era has seen the rapid rise of Twee. Why is ours the age of retro, why are we so drawn to the mood, styles and objects of the past?
Because they were better in many ways? I was thinking the other day that we are in a golden age of package design, in many ways, but that might be it. Hardly enough. The cars of the past had more style and mechanical panache. Women’s styles, which people today would decry as gendered and oppressive, were chic. Modern architecture - well. No one is very nostalgic for second-rate International Style buildings, but the exuberant commercial architecture and signage? Sure. The mood of the past we can never recapture, only infer, and no one wants to go back to the monoculture where there were three TVs and LIFE and Saturday Evening Post and the rest, all flowing out of black glass towers in New York. But we assume a solidity, a core, a center. It may not have felt like that at the time, which means we’re drawn to a mood that did not exist, but seems to exist when we look at the era from a distance.
Since the 1990s, we have not seen the emergence of an original collective style that has survived longer than one season. Has fashion simply become both more ephemeral and more violently eclectic, or do those who shape the cultural landscape indeed prefer to look backwards rather than forwards?
The first question. Yes. The second question: perhaps, inasmuch as they regard the values of the past - a little modernism mixed with traditional appeals - as something that connects with people more than top-down stem-to-stern FORWARDISM. For example, here’s something of the past.
That’s when they were looking forward. Bold graphics! Shapes! And if you turn it upside down, it’s the logo for the parent company, Loblow. Really.
Cheap! That’s what we take from the later 60s and early 70s - when they cut off ties to the styles of the past and tried to simplify everything, it just looked cheap and monolithic.
Perhaps with the exception of the Renaissance, the glorification of the past has tended to be driven by escapism – think, for example, of the Romantic idealization of all things Gothic.
That’s no small exception. The Renaissance was glorifying the past and finding heartening parallels with their own time, and they reinvented culture to equal the achievements of the past. It looked to the past, but it improved it and carried it forward, a movement that lasted 500 years until it crashed and foundered on the reef of the 20th century.
It is no coincidence that Spitz’s account commences with the 1950s, a period that occupies a special status in the Twee canon. A faux new age of innocence, in which people were eager to forget the horrors of war, the Holocaust and revolutionary politics, and to seek both solace and meaning in the pleasures of consumerism, the 50s also saw a return to reactionary gender roles and to various other forms of cultural conservatism.
It takes an academic to say that the “return” to prevailing roles was reactionary. If she means that society snapped back to mom-in-the-kitchen after mom was working in the aircraft factory, well, A) the number of women who stayed home compared to the number who went to the factory was small, and B) there were some who were happy to go home. I don’t know, of course, but home is a more pleasant place than the factory floor.
“Various other corms of cultural conservatism” is handwaving that stands in for “everything was repressed and no one had fun, or so I’ve heard.”
Like the Twee movement more generally, the 50s attempted to counter the horror with decency, homeliness and cupcakes.
You have been instructed to regard this as contemptible.
Twee, then, is a symptom of profound cultural exhaustion, a pop-cultural response to the death of grand narratives and radical politics: too weary to fight the corporate capitalist machine, the twee instead create hyper-stylized alternative worlds in which kittens play, ukuleles sound and childhood is eternal. Their basic disposition is melancholy rather than angry, and they will always opt for owl-print wallpaper over kicking against the pricks.
They should be out there prick-kicking and making ugly things that rage! over things! including the corporate capitalist MACHINE, that monolithic power that smothers grand narratives.
Grand narratives are exciting, but they tend to get people killed in great numbers.
Anna Katharina Schaffner is Reader in Comparative Literature at the University of Kent. She is currently working on a cultural history of exhaustion.
If she can find the strength to finish it.
When last we left Brick, he had been beaten by one of the Crime Gang guys, and the villain, seeing Brick unconscious while a pool of acid streamed towards him on the floor, took a page from the Villain Handbook and left before making sure our hero was dead. Well:
Meanwhile, outside, a fistfight rages, and Sandy takes one on the jaw. Roll, Sandy, Roll!
No of course you can't shoot him. That would violate the Code of the Serial.
Sandy goes back to find Brick recovering (“Hey, what’s eating you? Oh - acid!” is actual dialogue. That Sand! ) and then they go to look for guns to find the guys who found the plans to the ray beam and would now use it to Conquer the World.
The fact that they were just on the moon about 15 minutes ago has been completely forgotten by everyone. Including the scriptwriters, who think that going after some megalomaniacal gangsters holed up in a cabin is where the story has been heading all the time. Much more interesting than civil war on the moon.
Hold on - hold on! Brick and Sandy discover a document, and it proves something startling!
Dr. Tymak is no scientist, but a ten-year-old boy! No, just kidding. It’s the Invisible Z-Ray Machine. Dr. Tymak’s theory, Brick says, referring to a conversation no one remembers, involves the use of Z-rays to render you invisible. He turns it on and disappears.
It’s sort of thing you’d think someone would have mentioned before. Oh, I invented invisibility. Did I tell you that? No, well, with all the interplanetary travel and death rays, there just wasn’t time, I suppose.
These are the three most important inventions of the 20th century, but somehow you suspect Brick will find a way to stretch this out for eight more episodes instead of using invisibility to kill all the gangsters and keep Tymak safe. I mean, global domination is at stake.
So Brick goes to the cabin and plays Invisible Man tricks on the gangsters until they fight with each other while he unties the guys we had forgotten about because they’re secondary characters and the pretty girl is not amongst them. As far as I know she took a car into town for a malted. Everyone escapes, and they head pell-mell back to the city, where Tymak can be put under armed guard.
Kidding! Back to his lab in the country, down the road from the Lair Cabin. Here Tymak announces he has something else to keep the story going for a few more installments:
Oh, did I mention the title of this one?
Turns out Brick is going to South America, in the past, to intercept some pirates who are burying treasure that also contains some scientific documents made by a 19th century scientist who was ahead of his time in his understanding of the Cosmic Theory.
“What’s the rush?” someone says, and it’s a good question. No sleep, no food, no bathroom break, no shower, nothing. Go, go. Frozen death on the Moon in the morning, Time-Top Travel in the afternoon, with fistfights, near-death by acid, and a stint as the Invisible Man in between.
Apparently this “Top” business is meant literally:
This is the Time Top.
Wikipedia: "Before his death from cancer, Canadian artist Jerry Pethick (1935 – 2003) conceived a large bronze sculpture in the shape of the Time Top as depicted in later installments of Brick Bradford. In 2004, his widow, Margaret Pethick, took over the project. It was submerged in sea water for two years while connected to an electrical source to accelerate barnacle and mineral accretion on its surface for an aged look. In August 2006, the sculpture was installed on its permanent site at False Creek, Vancouver, British Columbia."
They walk west, but soon meet 1748 South Americans living in the lush jungles of South America:
The “Natives” ask no questions but promptly set about building a fire to eat or roast our heroes. But not to worry:
She, of course, will defy tribe, society, and the wishes of her god to set Brick free.
I don’t know. I’m this close to making the next entry nothing but cliffhangers and the last episode. I mean, I'm not even giving you the cliffhanger for this one because it's just smoke, and I'm guessing that the boys can beat 18th century fire just as easily as they survived Fiery Death on the Moon.
That'll do for today; enjoy some Sci-fi covers, and I'll see you around.