Weepingly cold. Sleeting rain, blustery gusts - people walked around downtown looking as if we'd all gotten the worse news possible, like "this is going to go on for two weeks." We've completely forgotten all the years when there were floes of ice on the boulevards into the middle of April. We always forget. Every spring is the worst, until there's one that's abnormal, and that's what we think we should always get. No trees are budding. Tulips are coming up. It's all a mess. It's just what it should be.

Compensations? Many, if you look in the right places. Like the mailbox. Today I got a package from Field Notes. Forgot I'd ordered some of the special edition notebooks - three, as usual. One to use, maybe; one to save, certainly; one to add to the pile of ones I might use. It's a sickness. I love these notebooks so much I can only bring myself to use the ones that aren't special, and the ones I love I can't bear to take out of the wrapping. They're limited editions.

I mean, c'mon - can't use this series; they match, and come in a slipcover:


Same with the National Crop edition.



There are backups from each pack on the shelf, in case I need a replacement, stat. This will never happen. I just like the way they look:



There are little ledger books with gilt edged pages that make me want to open up a pharmacy in 1927. One series has wooden covers. Actual wood. They can never be used, only admired - and that's why I'm glad they make ordinary ones that have no special covers, so I can use those and leave the others pristine.

As I said, a package arrived today, and it had the three books I'd requested. It also had - on the house - two packs of three, one being the most recent edition (the pages are colored and perforated, that's the wrinkle) and the other being Shenandoah, one of my favorites. Autumnal hues. This put the ratio of books I have saved away to books I will actually use at 15 to 1. MADNESS. Gave the colored ones to Daughter.

Seriously? she said. Unbelieving. She loves these books too.

Lifehacker put up a Field Notes vs. Moleskine piece last Sunday, and I didn't have to read to know which I'd prefer. I have one Moleskine, which I bought many years ago before I went into jury duty. Since I couldn't take a laptop, I thought I'd write down things in the little book. It was so fargin' European, in all the ways you think Europe is like when you're in high school. Ah, sitting at a cafe having an espresso, writing in the book while someone goes by on a Vespa, smoking. True. The problem, however, was immediate: the hard cover and the evident craft of the book was daunting. You didn't want to spoil it. Whatever you did in this thing, it had better be perfect.

So I stopped writing in the book, lest I disappoint it. I never have that problem with Field Notes. Respect, yes, but not fear.

You may say: it's just a notebook, for heaven's sake. You can get them for a dime at Wal-Mart. Perhaps, but cheap junk has no spirit. It doesn't care if you use it or not. No personality. Nothing like this:

If you are so inclined, you may find them here. If you don't care, consider someone you know who's a list-maker, or would like to be a list maker. I think we can agree that every smartphone list app lacks joy. I've tried many over the years, and nothing has the satisfaction you get from uncapping a fountain pen and checking a box. As you may have gathered over the years, everything in my life is digital, and while I have obvious love and respect for the past - it's the point of lileks.com, after all - I have no patience for movements that want me to go to a rehabbed warehouse with hand-rubbed bricks and sample craft-brewed horehound phosphates, because that's what they did in the era when straw boaters were in vogue and bicycle wheels had wildly varying ratios.

But often there's simply no good digital substitute for the original thing, and notebooks to keep track of the daily surge of details and obligations are one such irreproducable object.

By the way, Daughter saw something at Target tonight when we were heading through the Personal Care department: Beard Wash. This strikes me as the perfect term for pretentious artisanal folderol: what a bunch of beardwash. She also saw Beard Butter, which I will use to describe something that flatters the craft-brewed horehound phosphates demographic.



This . . . is mad. A 1977 table with crazy surreal art, including our old friend from the 40s, the plain of lines that converge in the distance.

Around this time Gottlieb was experimenting with chipboard, because the price of plywood had gone up. Plywood was becoming too expensive. Oh the wonderful Seventies.

It had a murderous gate that made it chancy to catch and hold a ball.

But check out the Lazarus at :48. So it had its compensations.



My favorite recent serial, the Crimson Ghost, continues with . . .



Ashe, by the way, was the Lone Ranger too. So let's see how that plane crash was averted:

There's a guy who can recover from a bullet wound in the chest with remarkable speed.

Remember how I said that having the Cyclotrode would mean nothing, because we'd get a side-quest that would take up most of the middle episodes? In this case it's the need for heavy water. I've forgotten why it's necessary. Doesn't matter, except that they've failed twice to get it. (It blew up in the plane.) So the Crimson Ghost says We Shall Have to Make Our Own Heavy Water.

Okay, welllll . . . . if you could do that, then why did you need to -

Oh, never mind. He says they'll need some uranium, but that's not a problem. He's invented an "electric fuse bomb." They'll use it to blow up a bridge and trap a train that's transporting uranium.

By the way, I am highly suspicious of this scientist now:


Here why. His entrance to the Meeting Room of Scientists, just a minute before:


If he isn't the Crimson Ghost, that's some quality misdirection right there - the editing implicates him.

Our Hero shows a map of the Fernando Hills area. This is where the pilot was supposed to go to deliver the heavy water. Duncan (Our Hero) says he's going to check out the area. So:


Mind you, I write this as the serial happens, so now I'm thinking: whaaa? So that scientist we just met really is the Crimson Ghost? If he's an agent, then that makes two scientists from the Bureau of Scientists who've been revealed as CG agents? Or is it the other scientist in the room to whom we didn't pay attention?

As it turns out, Duncan isn't flying the plane.


It's All-Purpose Gal. They spot her and turn on the Cyclotrode. And so:

That's not the cliffhanger. (This is a great serial.) She hits the silk, and gets captured - but Duncan comes to the rescue, and it's face-punching time ON THE EDGE OF A CLIFF and even though that's literally a cliffhanger, it's not. The bad guy goes over, and Duncan and All-Purpose Gal run off to save the uranium. This leads to another fistfight, as APG runs to warn the uranium truck not to cross the bridge.

A lesson on the importance of hats in these fights: they can be fearsome weapons.



Now, get this. APG has to keep the uranium truck from going over the bridge. Surely she can't get there in time, or stop them, can she?

Nothing happened in this one to move the plot, but everything happened, and it was tremendous.

An equally tremendous update in the 1939 World's Fair Views section - almost 30 color images of the midway. Enjoy!


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