The weekend is long gone; ancient history. We’ve Monday behind us. Perhaps for you the worst is over, but I’ve always loved Monday. The promise of a new week, the return of the schedule and order. Tuesday’s the worst, as I’ve noted - the start of a 48-hour period in which I have to come up with two columns that will assure the readers I still hold to my primary objective: to make it plain that I am not coasting. At some point many humorists seem to assume that if they are writing something, it is funny. I don't know if they've just lost it, or can’t tell, or think they’ve enough of an installed base that will accept anything they do. But they stop being funny and they are content to be wry. This is the difference between being ice cream and being ice.

Anyway, the weekend was perfect, and requires a few notes for posterity. Wife finished planting all the flowers. I would not be surprised if she planted 200 flowers, when all is said and done and spaded and watered: she ordered a lot from the school’s plant sale, and apparently a mistake doubled the order. A ridiculous amount of geraniums. It is an enormous public beautification project, and I’m in awe.

If I were alone, unmarried, I would hang some baskets I bought at the grocery store.

She also took Scout to the dog park twice, and on one trip she couldn’t find the dog. This happens all the time. Scout is lucky: the dog park is off-leash, it’s woodsy, full of smells and critters, and he can be a 100% dog. Which, on Saturday, meant he found the most AMAZING thing which was a DEAD DEER in the CREEK and half of it was gone but it was SO MUCH MEAT.

Mind you, we live in the city, but we’re 14 minutes away from a feral area where you find slabs of gnawed deer bobbing in the current. Scout also got a hamburger that day. Oh such joy. You wonder how much of it accumulates, and you suspect very little; the dog does not add the hamburger to his store of daily joys. The dog does not think there has been hamburger before, but not on a day with dead deer. The dog just takes the day as it comes, good or ill, and at the end sits on his chair outside and does not take stock. He doesn’t try to shape it into a narrative that puts the day in a box and puts the box on a shelf.

Shouldn’t we be like the dog?

Well HELL no. I mean, it’s good for him. But people see time differently. We have the before and the after. Dogs have something of the before, when there’s an immediate possibility that wakes all the knowledge of previous similar things, and dogs know when something should be happening but hasn’t yet. But the After is fleeting, and replaced immediately by the Possible Next.

This is every day, and there are no weekends for dogs.



So I’ve been watching Fargo, as one should. It’s good and I like it more than last season, for some reason; can’t say why, but it feels more Minnesotan, more than a tale a Crime Family. We may have Crime Families but our lore isn’t Crime Families. Morally compromised parking-lot owners, that we can see.

Ewan McGregor’s accent is bad, but I don’t care; he has a loser-Jesse-Ventura look that’s quite accurate for the hinterland. The Eden Prairie you see on the show is nothing like Eden Prairie. There is no Eden Village. Early on, the Parking-Lot King is describing how he proposed to his wife 25 years ago, and the ring cost him two weeks’ wages from Red Robin.

There weren’t any Red Robins here 25 years ago. If he’d said “Perkins” or “Embers” it would have been a nice period touch, and showed some familiarity with our history and culture. But they’re not interested in our history or culture; they’re interested in a cliche - calm, rational, sensible, dull - and an overwrought characterization of our accent. (Which is well done, btw; the characters sometimes talk like David Mamet, and for once the halting short sentences sound immediately natural.)

There’s this:

Red Owl has been gone for a long time. I can’t figure out if it’s a callback to the Red Owl in the Coen Brother’s “Simple Man,” or intended as nothing more than a callback. The difference? The first is genuine, textual, connecting the stories with persistent iconography for an inscrutable purpose; the second is just something thrown over the fence for the viewers to snap up.

The amusing thing, as ever, is that “Fargo” set in actual Fargo wouldn’t be “Fargo.”

Anyway. The third ep has some gorgeous scenes of motel loneliness:

But there were a fewthings that caught my eye.


It's a real place: one of the last of the old coffee shops. Everyone loves these places. Everyone lauds the decor.

No one ever builds a new one.


Finally: this made me sit up like the Red Owl sign:

I mean. We're expected to make the connection.

But why?

There was a series I did break up, because it wasn’t complete. The only one I wanted was this one.

Now, if you check your back issues of Boot and Shoe Recorder, as I’m sure you’d do if you had the time, you’d find some information about these cards.

That was written in August 1907. The card is 110 years old. It's without crease or soil.

It cost a dollar.




It's 1921. What do they have to sell?

Conducive to good health, as they are sanitarily perfect:

A lovely painting of the spare, modern bathrooms of the era. The Dutch Girl bothered me as a child; that faceless, bent-over creature with the stick. Why? Because, as I later learned, she “chased away dirt.” This is not possible. Dirt cannot be threatened.

Varnish was big in those days. Varnish did a lot of advertising. This one had a cartoon mascot:


Or rather it borrowed one from a popular cartoon strip, “Toonerville Trolley” by Fontaine Fox. "The comic panel included the largest cast ever seen in a comic strip, 53 different characters in all.," Wikipedia said/

It ran from the teens to the 50s, and made the transition to cartoons.


Fun note, if you’re interested: They also did some live-action films, and played up one kid character named Mickey McGuire. The kid who got t he role, Joe Yule, changed his name to Mickey McGuire - but when he stopped doing the part, the studio said he couldn’t use the name in other pictures. So he chose something else: Rooney.

Upon retirement, he refused to let his brainchild pass into another cartoonist's hands. Fox died at the age of 80 in Greenwich in 1964. His epitaph reads, "I had a hunch something like this would happen.”

I’m serious: they had a thing for varnish.

The chemicals they used stunted puppy growth, it seems.



“Associated with Murphy Varnish, USA.” This was the house that Varnish built:

They put out a book: “The house that found itself : or how a house was redeemed from shabbiness by the wise use of good varnish and white enamel.”

You needed to varnish the floor because people kept walking on it:

Still around. But it’s Matthew Dack now, after the founder; R, I expect, was his son. And there were more sons after him, obviously.

Ah, a sparkling, tart glass of salt water in the morn:

The earlier Eno ads made grander claims.

Drawing an Overdraft on the Bank of Life. Late Hours, Fagged, Unnatural Excitement, Breathing Impure Air, too Rich Food, Alcoholic Drink, Gouty, Rheumatic, and other Blood Poisons, Fevers, Feverish Colds, Influenza, Sleeplessness, Biliousness, Sick Headache, Skin Eruptions, Pimples on the Face, Want of Appetite, Sourness of Stomach, etc. It prevents Diarrhoea, and removes it in the early stages. Use ENO's "FRUIT SALT" It is Pleasant, Cooling, Health-Giving, Refreshing, and Invigorating. You cannot overstate its great value in keeping the Blood Pure and free from Disease.

You can’t? They go on:

Be careful to avoid rash acidulated salines, and use ENO's "FRUIT SALT" to prevent the bile becoming too thick and (impure) producing a gummy, viscous, clammy stickiness or adhesiveness in the mucous membrane or the intestinal canal, frequently the pivot of diarrhoea and disease. ENO's "FRUIT SALT" prevents and removes diarrhoea in the early stages. Without such a simple precaution the jeopardy of life is immensely increased. There is no doubt that where it has been taken in the earliest stages of a disease it has in many instances prevented what would otherwise have been a severe illness."

This one makes no claims at all, except you’ll feel better. Still sold today.

Ah, the clever swain:

The name was nationwide:

The original company was started in 1815, when a Scottish immigrant, Benjamin Moir, opened up a bakery in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

James Moir, the third generation in the business, started experimenting with candy-making in the corner of the bakery and is credited with changing the emphasis of the company from cake-baking to candy-making in 1873.

Moir’s introduced the Pot of Gold brand in 1928 and at least one box has been under every Canadian Christmas tree since.

Eventually Hershey’s bought it, and moved the entire operation to Mexico. People were unhappy: the end of a Canadian tradition.


Man, you just know this thing sagged horribly after a year or two:

Or maybe not. It was a Minneapolis company, and we make quality goods.


That'll do for today! See you around.


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