It is cold, but we knew that wold happen. It always does. El Nino gave us a clement kind December, but El Nino is no match for the Canadian Mare's Ass, which always descends like the guillotine blade. Speaking of which: the guillotine, like the saxophone, is named after its inventor. I wonder how the device would be seen if the name was something laughable in English, like the Boopdeehoo.
Let's pretend that's so, and call this cold snap the Boopdehoo. It takes the sting out. And sting it does; when it's five, six, nine below you think "I should wear gloves," but they're such an annoyance. You put them on, you pull them off. Don't get me started on hats; I've never been able to wear winter headgear without having flyaway hat-hair that looks like I just spent ten hours in a closet with a Tesla coil.
Daughter had a friend over Saturday night. One of the oldest, and one of my favorites, simply because she's brash but sweet and good-hearted, and we've always mixed it up. For as long as I can remember she has made preposterous assertions for the thrill of being outre, and I have slammed them back for being ridiculous, and then it escalates. I remember picking them up from Girl Scouts camp, and she was going on and on about how she was going to win the lottery and be a famous pop star, and I would say that the chances of the first were infinitesimal and the chances of the second even more so, and a raging, preposterous debate followed. That was years ago, and set the pattern. So tonight they were downstairs as I was fixing a drink, and I noted her T-shirt slogan:
"Women have always been an equal part of the past. We just haven't been a part of history."
And because I was feeling frisky, I said: you know, that's not true.
HERESY. Emphasis on HER, perhaps. But here's the part that makes me happy: they wanted to argue. They didn't roll their eyes and say DADS and go off to whatever. They wanted to fight. My point, as I well knew, had a cruel twist: if you want to insist that women had made equal contributions in art, literature, philosophy, war, politics, and so on, but were denied recognition because of Sexism, then you have to admit that women were allowed to participate in art, literature, philosophy, war, politics, and so on. This contradicts the standard view of the past, when women were not allowed to participate in art, literature, philosophy, war, politics, and so on. I mean, as I understand the contemporary view on the Bad Past, women were kept from entering those realms because art, literature, etc. were reserved for men. Are you telling me that the sexism of the past did not affect women's ability to participate in society? If that's the case, it wasn't very sexist, was it? And if there was sexism that kept women from doing things, the the idea that they were an equal part of the past and deserve to be part of History seems obviously wrong.
See the problem? Counter-argument: women were indeed alongside men who were doing these things, but they weren't recognized. Me: there were a few outliers and anomalies - Mary Shelley, Madame Levoisier, Marie Curie, Ada Babbage, sure. Sure. But they were not the norm. Women did not go to the scientific academies. They did not study under the Beaux-Arts masters of arts. Joan of Arc aside, they were not military officers. They had a role in diplomacy, but it was social. In fact the majority of women's contributions were social and domestic, because those were the roles to which the culture confined them. Right? Unless you want to give up that narrative in favor of one in which they were on the field directing armies, sculpting great works, designing buildings, and writing novels in numbers that were roughly equal to men. And if that's the case, prove it.
Just because something is harsh doesn't mean it wasn't true. Just about everything was invented and made by men. It doesn't mean women can't. It just means that women didn't. You can't pretend they did. If you want to say that they did, with scant evidence, then you concede the idea that women were not denied their rightful place in intellectual and political life, which is ahistorical.
This led to a fascinating conversation that went alllll over the map, and what really gladdened my heart was how they fought, listened, conceded, asserted, and engaged. It was the most honest discussion I've had in a long time, simply because they were willing to listen to information, incorporate, synthesize, and reply. We dealt with the adamantine and unfair truth of biology, how the sexual revolution has removed any sense of responsibility from men, how the removal of the guardrails that channeled people into certain roles allowed men to take any exit they wanted, the fatuity of believing in campus "rape culture" arguments and dismissing actual rape cultures as being a nativist, xenophobic slam on dispossessed communities (trust me, that one involves such disconnect you expect smoke and sparks to come out of their ears), why subsidizing Planned Parenthood isn't the same as requiring people to be taxed for schools, roads, or armies. And so on.
It was fun.
Highlight of the weekend, really. Oh God Saturday was grim: it was nine below. I spent the afternoon cleaning out the storage room, the Bin of Shame, the basement room where things are stored and accumulate and grow and multiply. Drives my wife NUTS when she goes in there and has to walk through a narrow path to get something twice a year. So I attacked it with ruthless force. There was no ruth involved. I may have attained a state of negative ruth. Bushels in the trash bag; boxes of stuff for Goodwill. And then I attacked the Closet of Mysteries in my studio, and -
One shoebox, due for the basement. Only so much space in the Closet of Mysteries, after all. Now: this box once held something else - legacy cables. There's a bag of cords in my drawer; these are redundant examples of the cables I use day to day. Cables that duplicate the duplicates are put in a box in the closet, and every other year I realize that some of the cords in the closet are no longer needed. The plugs are obsolete. I have too many of this particular plug. They go down to the drawer in the basement closet, and every other year I sort through those. Well, today I cast off six USB plugs and a raft of component cables and all but two FireWire cables. (Two, because one may fail. Will fail.) All in all, we're down to treble redundancy on current cables, and double redundancy on cables I am 98% sure I will never need again. This frees up space everywhere.
So the empty box has been filled: CDs, a VHS tape, pictures, newspaper clippings. It was all the stuff that remained from my brief interjection into the latter years of dear Peg Lynch. The CDs were her collected work, the scripts, copies of the old 78 RPM record with which she was buried, microfilm print-outs of stories from the paper, cards that she wrote me, pictures she sent.
This is, without question, Basement material. Bound for cold storage. And I'll be damned if that's where it goes. In the basement I came across a stack of CDs of old games, each of which I remember. Caesar, Pharoah, CoD, Battlefield, Star Wars, Sim City. I'd held on to each because I thought some day, well, perhaps, I might, I could - but I won't. They all went. I will never play that Egyptian city-building game and worry about sufficient dentist offices again. I always knew it, but now it's a fact. But Peg is not going in Cold Storage. The box went on the shelf under two other identical Converse shoeboxes: one for detritus, the other for archive disks I refresh a couple times a year. Quintiple backups. Just in case.
She's not going in the basement. She's never going in the basement.
Again, not a review, but a look at how the character and stories and look of the series changed. Or didn't. The third has more polish from the start - something that reflects the sophistication of the medium. 1939 was not 1936. And 1936 was pretty good, considering how new the medium was.
Third one: the background art on the title card's the same; just the stars' names instead of adding "Nick and Nora." Because the pairing was the main draw now.
The font's gone Forties as well (even though it's 1939.)
What happened to the missus?
Last time San Francisco; this time, Gotham. This said New York to America:
First drink taken: 3:30. We meet the baby, who's almost one year old.
Anyone who smiles like this at Nick is sure to regret it quickly.
That's Otto Kruger. Grandnephew of the South African premier, and now that I've said that you're thinking "I see some Boer in that fellow, yes." Four times on Perry Mason, which counted for more than familial proximity to power.
Monoxide fatal to man in room. Front page, above the fold? Slow news day, aside from the DREAM BUTCHER.
Great band name.
Let's take a close look.
That was easy. But the rest of them, I've no idea. Not even the other Life.
Students of the era, or magazines in general, will be able to name the founder of the magazine on the right side of the middle shelf.
Okay, if you say so, but I really don't want to:
Again, great name for the killer . . .
. . . but an ominous note about the future. New U-Boat Patrols Put Out to Sea.
People had best get used to that.
Myrna Loy is as delightful as ever; I include this shot for the outfit, and that incredible phone. Those things weighed a ton.
You wonder what she would look like today, if she was this age in 2016. Same with this hard case:
Why does everyone look a little classier and more adult, even though they're hoods or thugs? It's the suits.
Odd to remember that once upon a time, all the men were shellaced.
That's number three: utterly enjoyable, and the franchise showed no sign of losing its charm. Much less drinking, though. Perhaps something about 1939 made people feel as if they should have their wits about them.
That'll do; see you around in the usual places.