In the folder of things I’ve been keen to clear out: the bizarre world of homemade children’s shows on YouTube. Found them from a Guardian story appalled at the cruelty of some of these shows, which sucks in the tots with their favorite characters, then does horrible things.

There was one example. The others cited were shows like these, which sound horrible but are actually just dumb, amateurish, and banal.

What? WHAT?


Hey, this is getting dark.



Don’t know if I mentioned Cool Cat, because he popped up in the searches for strange and bad kid shows. There’s really nothing else like Cool Cat, or the desperate enthusiasm that attends his promotion.

He has a new movie!


Annnnnd it’s the same as the old movie, with a different name. Perhaps a new scene here and there. I do not recommend watching the movie. I recommend watching its critical demolition.

The problem with the NYT crossword puzzle has to do with the age and skin color of its audience.

I, Adrianne Jeffries, am writing this week’s Letter. Thesis: The New York Times crossword is very old and very white, which is bad and also makes for a boring puzzle.

It’s amusing. It’s not ENRAGING and it doesn’t trigger Male Fragility, the new assumption that men are like rocks made up of brittle sedimentary layers, ready to shatter like schist at the slightest tap. It says nothing about me, and everything about the speaker and the people she perceives to be her audience.

So the crossword is old and white. So what? Well, it’s in the Times, and thus it should be inclusive, and that means abandoning terms that Young Persons of Color don’t get, or, if they do get them, don’t find them appropriate for the newspaper. Eskimo, for example. The term is no longer used - therefore it should not be referenced. Cultural literacy thus shrinks to only the common terms deemed acceptable by the Word Judges, until we have a generation unaware that the term Eskimo ever existed.

But what if they encounter an Eskimo Pie? Is it possible they won’t, because they’ll be renamed I-Scream bars? Wikipedia:

Danish immigrant Christian Kent Nelson (1893-1992),[3] a schoolteacher and candy store owner, claimed to have received the inspiration for the Eskimo Pie in 1920 in Onawa, Iowa, when a boy in his store was unable to decide whether to spend his money on ice cream or a chocolate bar

You know me: I don’t believe that stuff at all. As if that had never happened before. Why, if only there was a way I could combine the two! No one’s ever thought of that before.

After experimenting with different ways to adhere melted chocolate to bricks of ice cream, Nelson began selling his invention, under the name "I-Scream Bars."

When you hit a cavity, sure. Now someone else enters the picture:

In 1921, he filed for a patent, and secured an agreement with local chocolate producer Russell C. Stover to mass-produce them under the new trademarked name "Eskimo Pie" (a name suggested by Mrs. Stover), and to create the Eskimo Pie Corporation.

Does that name sound familiar?

Stover sold his share of the business. He then formed the well-known chocolate manufacturer Russell Stover Candies. Nelson became independently wealthy off the royalties from the sale of Eskimo Pies. In 1922 he was selling one million pies a day.

The Eskimo Pie baron! A peculiar twist:

Nelson then sold his share of the business to the United States Foil Company, which made the Eskimo Pie wrappers. He retired at a young age, but reportedly out of boredom rejoined what was then called Reynolds Metals Company (now part of Alcoa) in 1935, inventing new methods of manufacturing and shipping Eskimo Pies and serving as an executive until his ultimate retirement in 1961.

The Eskimo Pie was his life. If there’s a statue of him anywhere, it needs to be taken down. From the piece about why the Times crossword is bad:

ESKIMO. The puzzle uses outdated, offensive terms for people, even if the New York Times itself has moved away from them. Looking through the archives shows the Times has curbed its use of “Eskimo,” especially in headlines, although it still shows up occasionally and is sanctioned in the style guide. The crossword, by its nature, makes the word more offensive by oversimplifying its meaning and depriving it of context. According to the crossword desk, ESKIMO is still a type of person who lives in an igloo, hunts seals, and is just as likely to be from Nome, Alaska as Nunavut, Canada. In other words, not much has changed since racist colonizers invented the term to describe native people living in cold climates on different continents.

But they’ll learn.

In 2012, Shortz clued ILLEGAL as “One caught by the border patrol.” When criticized, he turned again to the dictionary. “At the time I wrote this clue (and yes, it was my clue), I had no idea that use of the word ‘illegal’ in this sense (as a noun) was controversial. It’s in the dictionary. It’s in widespread use by ordinary people and publications. There is nothing inherently pejorative about it.”

Still, he said, his aim is not to offend people in the puzzle. “So I don’t expect to do this again.”

Good boy. See? Even old, white dogs can learn new tricks.



There's one massive project downtown I haven't said anything about, because it's been so dull and depressing. Months of mud. No progress anyone can see. The streets had been returned to their original unpaved condition; business withered.

Now it's starting to look like something.

The original design had curves; the street undulated as it headed towards the river. It was the most influential and successful of the pedestrian-mall concept, and because it worked so well many cities emulated it. Most failed. Fargo, for example. They put up a pedestrian mall in 1975. The result? NDSU:

By 1986, it was apparent the Red River Mall had not saved downtown's retail sector. Most Broadway business owners wanted the mall's twisty street and planters removed. In its place they wanted the return of 55 parking spaces.

Downtown isn't perfect, but it's getting better. The Nicollet Mall redesign won't save downtown, but it's one of the pieces that will make it more pleasent. The old stones and hues and lamps were tired. This should be quite cool.


Do you see them? The first iron sprouts of the last part of the complex.




As noted, I'm going through the entire Gildersleeve series this year. A million custom cues, giving you the feel for 40s vernacular.



Remember that odd, annoying, braying laugh from a few months ago?

Meet his wife. I swear he's in there too.



I think I noted this because it was the first time they used the bubbly descending theme - or because they cut to it right away, which they never did again. It is delightful.




Tucking into the theme with the usual gusto - but turning uncharacteristically sad.





The show went for the most cliched ratings-booster ever: the baby. This is his theme.

Oh, and the ratings went nuts.




PSA: 1946s. Gildy makes a pitch for . . . housing. Imagine Seinfeld ending a show with something like this.



The lure is quite obvious:


Ol' Andy wasn't above cashing in on the Polynesian trend. It's a standard written by Alfred Newman.

The "Airport" guy, not the Mad magazine guy. I



That'll do - thanks for stopping by this week! It'll be different next week, believe me. Whether it's better is your call. Or the dog's.

Cheryl says she’s had cases that went six months. She’s had cases that went two years.


At some point, though, the signs come down. When the signs come down the calls stop coming in. You wait for the moment someone somewhere waves a wand over your dog, and the chip lights up. In the old days? A flier up on the wall at the grocery store, resignation, patience.

In the end it comes back to that. I don’t regret the intensive search of the last three weeks one iota. But at some point I think he'll just . . . pop up. Somewhere.

But I dreamed the other night that we surrounded an entire field with signs. A forest of signs, a thicket, a wall of orange neon paper on sticks - and Scout was trapped in the middle. That’s how we got him. The signs.



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