I added the last of the Hue bulbs to the house. They’re in the sunporch. I wanted them to be dimmer, and of course configurable. I don’t know how we lived with unconfigurable lights. People used to - get this - walk over to something and turn it off or on. With their hand. Now you just say “Alexa, dim the sunporch to fifty percent,” and it says “I’m sorry. I don’t know what you mean.”

So you call up the Alexa app but you’re not connected to wifi for some reason. You connect, and go back to the app, and discover that it updated and you have to enter your password. This you do. It’s wrong. You can’t see what it is because you just typed black dots. Check “show password.” Ahh, there’s the mistake. You type it again -

But the phone stops to tell you it’s on 20% power. Well, plug it in . . . but the plug in the kitchen is gone. Who took it? Daughter. She’s back from camp, and that’s great! But she took the plug. You ask her why, and she said someone took it. Who? Simon Bar Plugsteal?

Someone. It was right here.

Okay. Go get the nighttime plug . . . and it’s not there. Something is amiss. Did the French Foreign Exchange Student take it? She left this morning for France, and we’ll miss her. It was fun. It was novel, and it was ordinary in the end. Easy kid to have around. But she had her own charger.

Dip into the emergency kit, and wince: there’s one cord that’s still factory-condition, all nicely wound. Don’t want to use that one. Find the Amazon cord that doesn’t work half the time, but think, that’s probably lint. Get out the can of compressed air and a dental pick; fish about a pound of lint out of the plug. Connect the phone. It’s now at 19%. Panic!

Okay, let’s try this again.

“Alexa, dim the sunporch to fifty percent,” and it says “I’m sorry. I don’t know what you mean.”

Open the app, find the Smart Home settings, and add the new lightbulbs. Repeat command, and the lights dim accordingly.

It’s just miraculous! Like I said: people used to have to do that by hand. Who has time for all that?

Have to finish an architecture column now, so I can watch Twin Peaks ep. 9. Sorry about what follows, but you can always skip down to Product. And there’s Frank Reade today as well. What will he invent? Will Pomp get hit on the head? Will Barney save the day? There’s only a few left, and you’re not going to believe where it ends up in a few weeks.




Got a light?

I go outside the building for a small cigar at the midday break. There are a few vapers, mostly cigarette smokers, and the occasional ashtray gleaner. They come by, pick out the butts, and take them away to roll their own. Today there was no out there. I was alone. Clanked the Zippo, settled down to read the feed.

A Gleaner came by - you can tell by their garb - but instead of sifting the butts he just sat. Old, lined, dirty long-haired, gaunt, haunted, big nose, thousand-yard stare. I looked over, and he looked at me, and if he’d said those words I would have screamed.

I heard them, though. I heard all of them.

Back up. So. Eight eps into Twin Peaks, and . . . ? And? I just want Agent Cooper back. The more the show goes on, the more you realize that Coop is so damaged we're probably going to get a last-ep scene where he’s wearing his black suit, dying, cradled by Hawk and Diane as they urge him to go into the light. There’s just no guarantee we’re going to get what we want. The few moments Lynch has give to Us, the Original Fans, have been dead-ends or one-offs, vignettes of lives that have gone on for a quarter-century without shedding any illumination on the mysteries in the woods. To be honest, I thought we’d get Coop back soon, and donuts would be laid out, and a new horror would loom and be solved, and it would be the Twin Peaks we knew.

Except, you know, without annoying and unfunny Dick Tremaine, or without James on his bike going off to find a good sub-plot, or without Audrey and something-something-whatever about a bank vault, and without the question of who owned the Mill, without agoraphobic shut-in maybe having diary pages, without Nadine thinking she was in high school - jeez, that was stupid - without all that stuff we sat through to get to the good stuff, the Lynchian dread and fright and wonder and strangeness that felt like the edge of a dream you remembered a day later.

People on the internet are unhappy there isn't enough donuts and Agent Cooper giving the thumbs up!

Instead we get . . . this guy.


And it's astonishing. A while ago everyone was talking - well, a few people were talking about Episode 7, because it was Conventionally Plotted. Back on track, heading towards something, with just a few weird things like the flickering windows of the airplane, which could be a code, or the time-jump in the RR Diner with the unsettling TP music rising underneath “Sleepwalk.” Damn fine episode! That’s the TP we wanted.

And then came Episode 8, which said, more or less, look: you know this is a show where a guy sweeps a floor for almost three minutes while “Green Onions” played. So you know the rules are different. You know who wrote and directed this, right? You know everyone’s been theorizing about the show’s mythology for 25 years? So you’re going to be okay with a 45-minute sequence in black-and-white, mostly free of dialogue, that features suspended creature called The Experiment who vomits evil into the post-nuclear world? Okay then.

It is astonishing. Or it’s incomprehensible pretentious blather. Up to you, I suppose, but it made sense to me.

(big chunk of stuff removed b/c YouTube took down the video. Count your blessings, I suppose.)

Meanwhile, back on Earth:



Got a light?

Got a light?

If the Gleaner had said that, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all. I expected it.

I found myself whistling “Sleepwalk” as I walked to the car at the end of the day. Aforementioned time-jump closing credits:



Without the undertone of the dark sounds coming up under the song. But you hear it anyway. It’s there. It’s always there.



Another of the Costello series, and one of my favorites.


Favorite sleeves, that is. New Amsterdam is a fun song with lyrics that sound like they might mean something, but man, Dr. Luther's Assistant. There's a tune to test the fan's patience. It's the drunkest, murkiest, sloggiest thing of the era.





It's 1905. What does The American Home have for the American Home?

They must have been so damned hot, that’s all I can think about:

We’ve discussed American Standard here before, so I won’t retread the history. Note that the three pieces cost $101, and in 1905 money - well, 1914 money; that’s as far back as the calculators go - that would be $2,500.

You can get a cheap enameled tub today for $120 at Lowe’s. You could buy the whole set and have scratch left over for an air conditioner, which you might not need all the time because you’re not dressed from neck to ankle.

There’s a term you don’t hear any more:

The heaters outlast the building. You have a vision of them standing in the sky, connected to quivering pipes, after the bricks have fallen to the earth.

But why would you want to add more? Because you’d taken out a wall, perhaps, and enlarged a room.

Which is why the bricks fell.

Photographs of the President, cutting down trees, haying in the fields, and enjoying himself generally.”


I don’t think they released photos of him enjoying himself specifically.

There’s a cover online at Google’s Arts & Culture Whatever; I have color-corrected it for your viewing pleasure.




Stop blindly grabbing bottles from the cabinet and chugging them down in the hopes your bowels will loosen! You will take poison! Rather, the other wrong poison! Also, make sure you store your poison near the medicine!



The Lincoln Trust Building was a handsome piece of early 20th century Filedrawer Style. And there’s a tale.

A 1962 "renovation" removed or covered up many of the building's interior features. By the 1970s, the spector of civic planning loomed over the Title Guaranty, as it was in the path of a plan to create a linear green park from the Arch to the Civil Courts and beyond. Conceived in 1907 - a time when St. Louis was crowded to bursting and desparately in need of green space - the plan was horrifically outdated by the late 70s, as St. Louis was hemoraging population and downtown had lost significant skyscrapers at a frightful rate.

Looks like another City Beautiful / White City urban redesign; seems odd they’d dust it off in the 80s. Alas:

the combination of ribbon-cutting politicians, business interests in the "half mall" plan, and outdated notions of progress were too much. The Title Guaranty Building was demolished (by conventional means, rather than the dramatic implosion which befell the neighboring Buder and International) in 1983.

Today the sleek, bland Gateway One Building stands on the Title Guaranty's former site... surrounded by largely unused green space, parkland which the depleted city has constantly struggled to bring to life.

Bland? Sleek? Ugly piece of junk.


For the 1%:


The pieces that survived probably consisted of a few end tables, which spent their last years in the tumble-down apartment of a great-great-grandchild.

Taste is relative, of course but I think that’s relatively ugly.



Gee, if only we knew more - but we do!

Heywood Brothers was established in 1826, Wakefield Company in 1855. Both firms produced wicker and rattan furniture, and as these products became increasingly popular towards the end of the century, they became serious rivals In 1897 the companies merged as Heywood Brothers & Wakefield Company (this name was changed to Heywood-Wakefield Company in 1921)

Thanks, obsessive completist wikipedia editor!

Still around - although whether the original firm is still in existence or the unused name was bought by another company, I can’t say, and to be honest, I don’t care.


Furniture, toilets, poison, bandages: these are the ever-lasting basics. Behold, the always-popular In Of Accident Case:


You can buy these things now, in a different form, but I don’t think they have Surgeon’s Lint.

Finally, this marvelously self-satisfied ad:


Technical achievements and Ideas! That’s what we’re here for. To invent. To improve. To imagine and make it happen. To focus the sun’s reflected light and burn a hole in an enormous book floating in a gas nebula.

No, wait, that’s God’s job.

That'll do; see you around. The adventures of Frank Reade Jr. await. Do the Chicken Wing!



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