That was the quickest week ever. Something about being Somewhere Else for 2/5ths of the time chews up your sense of continuity; Wednesday was Monday. What was Monday for everyone else was just Elsewhere Day for me, with all the routines and rituals cast aside. Does one good to snap the dry bundle of habits and toss them on the fire, I think, but a few days later you're poking through the ashes wondering if a few are still good. Nothing as exciting as heading off to something different; nothing as nice as settling back into the warm bath of routine. Which is full of habit-sticks. That were burnt.
I could untangle those figures of speech but I reserve my straightening and unknotting for my daughter's earbud cords, which assume knots whose names are known only to sailors. There is no way those cords can get like that unless they are alive, and squirm around in complicated mating rituals while they're in your pocket undisturbed. I mean, there is nothing in the act of taking off your earbuds that threads one around the other and draws a bud through a loop, let alone tightens it. Every day she says "It's okay, I'll do it." But of course she doesn't. She would wear them until 87% of the cord was knotted and she had to walk stooped over because there was but three inches of cord between her ears and the device in her pocket. As it is she goes off to school with a backpack that makes her look like she is transporting bricks to a construction site. I send her off with a lunch that includes a small packet of Ritz crackers, which I'm sure are ground to Ritz dust by the time the books have finished with them. That's probably why she wants jerky for the protein portion. It's pre-hammered for your convenience.
Where did that term originate? "For your convenience." I remember seeing it as a kid on the Holiday Inn toilet seat-belts, an ingenious touch that assured you the butt-saddle had been bleached of all cooties. For all you knew they just put it on the seat and that was that. They don't do it anymore, because the hospitality industry has grasped a key psychological element of the customer: we do not emotionally imagine the possibility of the previous occupant, even though we know they existed, and we do not imagine in any form the existence of the next occupant. Hotels that have scars from previous people are unnerving, because they are like messages from the Other Side. They give the game away. You are not a constant in life. This place is a constant.
Ever passed the open door of a hotel and seen the room all ripped up for cleaning? It's like walking in on the autopsy of someone you vaguely know.
My UBER driver to the airport was from Pakistan. He was also a caterer. Pakistani food. I said I'd never had any.
"You like Indian food?" he said.
By the end of the trip I had learned that Lahore is fun and safe ("The women, they are in the cafes not wearing the veil, in jeans, smoking cigarettes") and all about food; Musharraf was a good man who fought corruption; the army is corrupt; the country is corrupt and a total mess, and even he gets nervous when he's going home but then he gets to Lahore, and everything seems normal. He liked driving for Uber. It was something to do.
It's odd, but I miss DC. A little. It's different. I think I let everything go on the last trip, and made peace. Rocky marriage and fast divorce; didn't keep in contact. Now it turns out we can be friends. It would be nice to go back every six months.
You know, add that to the routines.
Let’s all mock technological optimism because everyone’s middle-class and singing:
It’s as fun to laugh at yesterday’s futurism as it is sobering, for today’s futurism may also become the butt of jokes. Take the 1956 GM promotional movie first screened at Motorama, a company show that traveled among major cities throughout the United States.
I didn’t know it was sobering to laugh. As for whether today’s futurism “may also become the butt of jokes,” it depends whether people in the future have the historical attention span of a mayfly pupae. There are certain kinds of paleofuturism, to use Matt Novak’s term, that are exempt from laughter. Steampunk depends on people thinking it’s cool because it has a Jules Verne charm, and because they can dress up in Steampunk stuff without worrying about being accused of colonialist or imperialist sympathies.
But 50s varities? Scofftastic. Stupid people looking forward to things! Stop doing that. The writer describes the movie as “too-corny.” Possibly because it’s a nuclear family enjoying each other’s company.
It got most things wrong - especially the time; 1976 was nothing like that. They didn’t anticipate how small computers would eliminate the tower controller. If there had been such fellows, they would probably have organized to fight automation, insisting that the human touch was necessary in these things, and the old guard would have missed the days when a real human being helped you on your automatic journey.
In 1975, desert cities will rise like the images on sci-fi pulp covers:
Too-corny! And when they dial up an ad for a motel, the model talks right to them:
Anyway, the headline for the piece: “Watch General Motor’s Hilarious 1956 Movie on Smart Roads. “
Hilarious! Those idiots!
Tell me that’s not Hoyt Curtin writing the music.
Not the final Downtown East construction update by any means, but it's getting close to being done on the outside:
Next week the evergreen goes up, I believe.
As usual for Friday, the Music Cues. Of course we begin with the Couple Next Door, with its cheerful soundtrack of the mid-century domestic scene.
Lots of new cues in the 600 episode series. I'm surprised - and I wonder where they were keeping them, and didn't use them before.
CND Cue #544 A stately little May dance; wonder what it was called.
CND Cue #545 Generic scherzo, but I could listen to three minute’s worth. If such a thing existed.
Moving along with the innumerable Gunsmoke cues. Like the show itself - all different, and all the same . . . or so I used to say. Things got different in Season 5.
Gunsmoke #82 What more DO you want? Most Mahleresque Gunsmoke cue ever, at least at the beginning.
Gunsmoke #83 You’ll note the music is different now. Why? To match the cues from the TV show that would eventually eclipse it.
And now, Lum & Abner - but not a return to the old name-that-tune feature. For a while the plot concerned the invention of Lumburgers, a delicacy that was promoted by Duncan Hines. He appeared on the show, which may surprise people who think he's like Betty Crocker - a fictional corporate entity invented to personalize a product. Nope; real guy. For a few weeks, the show read telegrams from restaurants around the country asking for the recipe. Nice way to give a national show a regional boost.
Here's a guy:
And here's his moment in the sun.
The great and late and dearly lamented.
To round out the radio offerings, this week's advertisement. It's from 1962. Millions love them!
The 1962 Kent campaign.
More from the excruciatingly ordinary Readers Digest record collection.
It's all the hits of today, played by clean-cut people who don't do drugs. This time:
PERVERSELY is a word never before used to describe this song.
That's enough, eh? Quite the week, and thanks for your visits. See you around. Oh - new column; you can find it at startribune.com. New website, if you haven't noticed.