We seem to have a new genre: humorless humor. I mean, this New York Times piece on the Modern Man and What He Does - it can’t be serious. I think it’s supposed to be that gentle sort of inside humor that produces the general impression of humor, but contains no actual, measureable, discernible humor.

Some thoughts.

When the modern man buys shoes for his spouse, he doesn’t have to ask her sister for the size. And he knows which brands run big or small.

As for the second, he may, but he shouldn’t. As for the first, he can’t look in her closet? I used to buy shoes for my wife for Christmas, and I knew her size, but after a certain point you realize that you are not only buying coals for Newcastle, you are buying coals for the company that supplies coal to Newcastle.

The modern man never lets other people know when his confidence has sunk. He acts as if everything is going swimmingly until it is.

He says this as if it’s new, or an insight. It’s Guy 101, because R. Lee Ermey is always in the back of our heads and yet an inch from our face: SUCK IT UP, MAGGOT.

The modern man is considerate. At the movie theater, he won’t munch down a mouthful of popcorn during a quiet moment. He waits for some ruckus.

This is indeed a civil thing to do, unless you are the sort of Modern Man who goes to movies that do not contain any quiet moments longer than four seconds. In which case you are a Modern Brute and beneath the notice of the Times.

If this is attribute #3 of the Modern Man, he’s not really full of substantial quantities, is he? Shoe buying and soaking his popcorn with spittle so it doesn’t interrupt the shadow play, that’s two-thirds of the three things you’d notice straight away?

The modern man doesn’t cut the fatty or charred bits off his fillet. Every bite of steak is a privilege, and it all goes down the hatch.

Down the hatch, as The Men say! O what lusty lads we be! Down the hatch, ye signifier of bounty! I say, chaps, shall we quaff some grain-based spirits of a carbonated nature now, and discuss the athletic competition? Also, girls! Are they not admirable in their many ways?

The modern man won’t blow 10 minutes of his life looking for the best parking spot. He finds a reasonable one and puts his car between the lines.

But he’ll probably blow 20 minutes talking about moisturizer at the Macy’s counter.

Before the modern man heads off to bed, he makes sure his spouse’s phone and his kids’ electronic devices are charging for the night.

I do this from time to time for my wife’s phone, if it’s out. If not, I don’t dig around in her purse to fish it out and charge it. I also don’t sneak down to the garage, run the car to the gas station and fill it up. I also do not cut her steak for her.

The modern man buys only regular colas, like Coke or Dr Pepper. If you walk into his house looking for a Mountain Dew, he’ll show you the door.

The Modern Man is an ass, then. The Modern Man is also under the impression that Dr Pepper is a cola.

Having a daughter makes the modern man more of a complete person. He learns new stuff every day.

The Modern Man is happy he didn’t have a son, which would be just like Xeroxing himself, and is glad his wife is one-and-done.

The modern man makes sure the dishes on the rack have dried completely before putting them away.

The Modern Man thinks this is one of the things his wife talks about at the book club, and thinks the other wives are jealous.

The modern man has never “pinned” a tweet, and he never will.

For the Modern Man, this is, in his mind, the equivalent of Humphrey Bogart snapping “Sure I know what a blow job is. That doesn’t mean I’d give one.”

The modern man checks the status of his Irish Spring bar before jumping in for a wash. Too small, it gets swapped out.

The Modern Man is running out of ideas halfway through the piece. The Modern Man believes soap has status that can be checked.

The modern man still jots down his grocery list on a piece of scratch paper. The market is no place for his face to be buried in the phone.

No, the market is no place for that. There are standards to uphold. A man comports himself in a certain way. You do not look at your phone in the market, no more than you thrash your manservant in the public square.

The modern man has hardwood flooring. His children can detect his mood from the stamp of his Kenneth Cole oxfords.

The modern man’s children have been waiting for Daddy to come out for years now.

Does the modern man have a melon baller? What do you think? How else would the cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew he serves be so uniformly shaped?

So has his wife. Maybe when the kids are gone.

The modern man has thought seriously about buying a shoehorn.

But not those plastic ones. Something elegant with a bone handle. There has to be a place in the Village that sells them. That sells only shoehorns. There will be an old man who knows his craft, and the store will be old and cluttered and you know like European? And he will learn something about the art of the shoehorn, and the traditions of the makers, and the old man will be pleased to help him, because most people these days, they don’t care about the old ways.

The modern man lies on the side of the bed closer to the door. If an intruder gets in, he will try to fight him off, so that his wife has a chance to get away.

Stay away Mr. Burglar or you are going to get such a melon balling

On occasion, the modern man is the little spoon. Some nights, when he is feeling down or vulnerable, he needs an emotional and physical shield.

So you sleep on the burglar side tonight, ‘kay?

(Four meaningless examples which, like the others, fail to coalesce into an archetype, omitted)

The modern man has no use for a gun. He doesn’t own one, and he never will.

The modern man trusts the police as much as he dislikes them.

The modern man cries. He cries often.

Self-knowledge is a cruel mistress.

But other times he doesn’t cry, even though the world bears down with all its maddening frustrations and vexatious complications. He knows there are times when a modern man doesn’t cry.

He stamps his Kenneth Coles.

He bites a knuckle and tells his wife nothing’s the matter. Everything’s fine. Just fine.

That took me 16 minutes to write. I expect it took the author at least three times that long.

Construction / Destruction update: it's over.


It's gone. My final summing-up video will be for the Strib, and I'll tweet out a link tomorrow.



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. Actual bits of script are left in now and then for surreal effect.

CND Cue #586 I haven't heard this one in hundreds of eps, and never this much.

CND Cue #587 A telegraph in the big city!

The PSA of the week: This land is everyone's land. It's like the "City you might be from and possibly want to hear about, even though you're stuck in Germany." An Armed Forces Radio PSA for the existence of Alabama.

Maybe this person wasn't from there, but this other one was


Finally, our ad of the week: a 1947 ad from the era of Domestic Servants.

Sho nuf was required by law to be part of the copy.

More from the Official Album of Paintball Mustard Head-shots:

The song is simply called "Love" - and it starts out like Musique Concrete or some other experimental electronic music. It's credited to "Blane, Martin." That would be Hugh Martin, who wrote a little tune called "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."



Although Ralph Blane is credited with writing the music for many of Martin's songs, Martin claimed in his autobiography that he wrote both music and lyrics to all of the songs in Meet Me In St. Louis and that "all of the so-called Martin and Blane songs, (except for "Buckle Down, Winsocki" in Best Foot Forward), were written entirely by me (solo) without help from Ralph or anybody else." His explanation for allowing Blane equal credit for the songs was explained, "I was reasonably content to let him receive equal screen credit, sheet music credit, ASCAP royalties, etc., mainly because this bizarre situation was caused by my naive and atrocious lack of business acumen."


That'll do it - see you in the usual places!



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