Column daay ahead of schedule, because of holiday deadlines, so I'll be brief.

As I mentioned, I got a new printer. Cheap. We don’t do much printing any more - it’s amazing how much you don’t do when the old printer stops working. You find ways around it. Daughter, for example, hands in homework in pdfs. Or, she’s just stopped going to school. I suppose I’ll find one way or the other.

This printer is now the emergency printer. I will not use it. I will not admit its existence. I will train myself to think that it was just a dream, this printer; I will lull it into smug confidence, and then when I use it I’ll surprise it and it will work.

It has something called “Instant Ink.” You never run out of ink again! How? Because they found a way to make ink inexpensive and store it in quart bladders? No. The printer senses when it’s running low and automatically orders it for you. Isn’t that nice? You have to register for the service, of course, and that’s the usual process with drop-down menus. Country of origin is always my favorite. You know who’s lucky? People buying printers in Afghanistan and Azerbaijan. They’re right at the top! The idea of detecting your country of origin and putting that country at the top of the list - beyond the technical capabilities of mankind.

At the end of entering all my data:

The printer might work, but that doesn't mean it was going to give up.

I was wrapping a present and listening to a BBC documentary about the exact amount of ear Van Gogh sliced off when I thought: I’ve been putting stuff in the closet for a while now and I haven’t been taking things out. It’s getting crowded and I don’t know if I need a lot of these things.

Four hours later everything is out of the closet and I am ripping DVDs from a box marked VIDEO, because there’s no point in having a physical copy of something I will never watch again when I can have a digital copy of the thing I will never watch again.

Bushels of slippery magazines: out! I have all my clips in PDF anyway. Books I have kept for sentimental reasons: begone! Since I was winnowing the closet, though, it might be behoovin’ to work on the shelves, which were winnowed a few years ago but now look ragged and overstuffed. I don’t need any of these books, and they’re all the product of a 2002-2008 project to amass a library of books about American cities and 20th century architecture. They're impressive and I’ve read them all and I hope someone enjoys them some day. But I cannot part with them. They say something, they mean something; I cannot part with early DeVries novels in hardback, gleaned from second-hand bookstores when you could find such a thing. DeVries is out of the bookstream entirely now.


I open a shoebox and my jaw drops: oh. Right. This was, for a while, a box where I just tossed stuff I found in antique stores, and while nothing in the box is valuable, it’s priceless. A selection of 1950s aspirin tins. Hotel drink stir-sticks. What appears to be ten years of StarTribune State Fair flavored lip balm. Some pins from the early 1980s, when people started wearing pins that had no meaning except to say “see this modern design? Right. Because I am a modern person.” There was a sudden shift in the way things looked out the outskirts of the culture, and I loved it. Things were new.

The very word was new again. In 1978 Be-Bop Deluxe, a prog-rock group led by a marvelous guitarist named Bill Nelson, released “Drastic Plastic,” a stripped-down work that bridged the old baroque prog-rock with the imperatives of the New Wave, and two songs on the album had “New” in the title. Things felt new, but it wasn’t novelty for the sake of sensation - there was the sense that things had stagnated, and this reaction was organic, wide-spread, multi-sourced. Everyone wanted new and so everyone was coming up with new.

I’d say it was a hopeful time, but of course Reagan was elected so everyone assumed that repression and nuclear war was right around the corner. All the smart people, anyway.

Only the Bellows is labeled Bellows:

This is from the era before the fall. This site says:

In the 1970s Bellows Club Bourbon was owned by National Distillers and contained whatever bourbon they wanted to put in it which has caused varying reports on its quality

So the name meant nothing. A Redditor says:

Bellows Blended Scotch is a brand that goes back to the 1830's and was last popular as a respected whisky in the 1930's from what I can tell. Not much other information is readily available. I am assuming the distillery went defunct or the brand eliminated from production but the name was passed along by selling it to another producer. It is a bottom shelf whisky, bulk transported from Scotland in glass-lined stainless steel tanks and packaged locally in plastic bottles. Every possible expense has been cut in getting this product from distillery to market, hence its extremely low cost

Can you palpate the bottle? Then it's not very good.




We're blowing through a Western this sequence - one of those Vaseline-smeared prints that tells the same old tired story of bandits and posses and desperados and a good guy in a white hat. Nothing wrong with that if you're 12 and it's 1938.

Almost done. Not that I’ve been paying any attention. This is just a study of Western cliffhanger cliches, since the copy is too muddled to make out anything.

I mean, really:

When last we saw Red he was untying someone and also he had diamonds. The bad guys got the drop on him. And so:

Of course the hero is tied up and of course he escapes and of course he heads off to find the bad guys with his comical sidekick, but CS forgets his gun. Haw! And so this quintessential American dialogue:


When the CS drops the gun he sees the diamonds, which were thrown out of the window. Tthe bad guys never found them.

Things are looking up! Time for a romantic subplot. Red’s pal Tommy is in love with the Spunky Ranch Gal, and so Red goes to her and proposes on Tommy’s behalf. But Spunky Ranch Gal will have none of it, and says, more or less, “why aren’t you asking me? You know I’d take your bridle in a second?” Red stammers, on accounta he doesn’t know ‘bout no courtin’, and besides the hat and immaculate kerchief ought to have told her he’s not that kinda guy.

Anyway, the bad guys go back for the diamonds, and there’s another replay of the previous sixteen scenes where people burst into rooms with guns. Hey, Red Rider is coming - everyone hide!

Took me a while to figure out what he did, and how it shouldn’t work, and why this seems a bit . . . risky.

Anyway, stay tuned for episode 2! Again! Forever!

Minor stuff, I know. It's the end of the year. It's the holidays! Give me a break. At least we're wrapping up the Bisquick book, which wasn't all that exciting, I know. (By the way, the Mysterious Ank sent some info on one of the high-society buscuit makers, so I'm going to redo her page. YOU WILL BE INFORMED AT THE PROPER DATE.)

See you around!




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