I wonder if I’m the only parent who doesn’t leap for joy when school starts up again. It’s one of those beginnings that feels like another ending. Probably because it is; summer is over, no matter what the calendar or the weather says. The Fair is there to help with the transition. But Friday evening I took a prowl around the lakes on the back from dropping Daughter off, and while it wasn’t the last look, it had the feeling that something was gathering its things together to leave. This may have been blamed on the music, which was something I’d never heard before: the 3rd Symphony (I think) by Gliere, a composer of whom I was previously unaware. Soviet-era. Tonal. I kept thinking: this is insane. This is like nothing I’ve heard before in the post-romantic tradition. (I’m paraphrasing the vague thoughts of the moment, which I assure you did not include the phrase “post-romantic tradition.) It's like late-Romantic music on nitrous. This is a very mild example; I'm still trying to find the stuff I heard, which I'm pretty sure John Williams . . . repurposed, shall we say.

From the second movement.


Up early Monday morning; summer hours are over. Because school ruins everything, the weather was chilly. Nothing like August. No hint. Low clouds and a rude wind blowing south, so she had to walk into it to get to school. As if summer itself was trying to keep her from leaving, to complete the obvious thought. Worked and walked the dog, avoiding the news, telling myself “I’ll be okay with XXX point drop in the Dow.” It’s funny, not in a ha-ha way in the least, how you’d prefer the bad news to be attenuated. As in: two weeks of 100 point losses per day. We could live with that. All, a bearish mood. Stocks drifting lower over concerns about, as they always say. But lose 14000 points in two days and it’s panic. Because you don’t know what’s coming tomorrow! Okay, a hundred point loss. That would be better, right? Then two more weeks of that, per day. Less terrifying, right?

Everything has to find a bottom, and any attempt to keep it from doing so just masks the rot. But this is the season of overreaction and emotion. And I don’t mean fall. Autumn is the time of contemplative ease with the occasional pang of bittersweet recollection. And I don’t mean summer; that season fled in the night. I mean these times. These tired, angry times.

On the way back to the car from work, feeling neither emotion but perfectly happy ascribing them to everything else, I noted some downtown apartment buildings I’ve driven past for decades, but can’t remember walking past. They’re charming on the outside, but I’m sure on the inside the places are quiet, dusty, with old fixtures and layers of paint and some aged folk who’ve seen dozens and dozens of tenants come and go.

I love that this exists, and that it has existed for so long.

Did I warn you that we're in the Fortnight of Fair Duty? It is so. Things here may be scant and laden with pix and thin on top. It's not because I tire of this thing; when that happens, you'll know, because it will just be done and over.

Note: it will never be done and over.


They're on A SINGLE PLATE! And that makes them so gosh-darn summery and handy as well. Here: enjoy some Sea-Barf on a hard roll:



Two spoons so you can avoid cross-contamination. If you're in the mood for something with both the pink and green food groups:

Dougnuts - for dunkin'!





Hot weather days require appropriate confections. And no baking! So you won't heat up the kitchen. As they say in the lounge-music world, just mix and chill.

A "variant" of Key Lime Pie, Wikipedia says. It is the signature dessert of Clancy's, in New Orleans.

I suspect the Py-O-My version is fluffier. They seem up front about that.

Back to the 20s, just like last week - but these are from 1928. Here's the earliest radio show this site has ever mentioned:

Listen in on life! Singing! A travelogue! Not a shard remains, as far as the internet is concerned. Perhaps some scripts molder in a University archives, uncatalogued, forgotten.

It probably wasn't very good. Still, it's mass culture, coast-to-coast, beamed invisibly into boxes in your house. A miracle - and one that was taken for granted as quickly as wifi.

Guns! GUNS!

The one on the right, a "real He Man's Gun," is described as "fleshlike." No clue.

Send no money! Just ask for the gun and we'll send it. If you don't send it back? Well, remember who sent it to you. The Gun People.

You'll send it back.

At some point there were novelty pins that said "Chicken Inspector," right? Did I imagine that?


No, I didn't imagine it. These badges give you amusement "out of all proportion to their trifling cost," but of course carried no legal authority.

Other novelties you could buy that provide much amusement for a small amount of money and break quickly or be forgotten or discounted from the start as useless junk aimed at credulous appleknockers like you:

If you read between the lines, it's obvious that you need wires and tubes and speakers to make it do anything. But two points: one, the slang "talk up" for amplify, and two, the company. Still around.

Let's flash to the post-war era - a mere 30 years later, and graphic styles have changed completely. Plus, you don't have to dab when neutralizing anymore:

Pour-over pour-thru technology means there's less waving time. Take that to the bank, sister.


The name should be familiar. No, not George.

There's something of Lois in her. George's hair has a Dennis-the-Menace quiff, too. Let's see if the cheerful wife has any luck finding her beloved spouse, so she can really lay into the galoot with full wifely fury:


It's taken half an hour to chip the ice from the trays? He's been downstairs smoking and listening to the ball game.

George was not a regular character on the comic pages. George only existed to serve Servel.

It was a fine brand, still loved by fans of the genre of the 1950s fridge. The door handle had a logo: a flame.

Servel - which came from "Serving Electric" - still exists, in absorbed form.



That'll have to do; I have to write a column waaaaay in advance tonight. But at least no more novel work: it's off to be proofread and have its myriad inconsistencies exposed. But it's out of my hands, and that's a relief. Shooting for the end of October at a Kindle near you.

Until tomorrow: Enjoy some Frank Reade Jr., with more wondrous electrical killing contraptions.


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