The tree is up! No trip to the lot this year - haven’t done that for many, many Christmases. Used to go to the Boy Scout lot at the Catholic church, pick one out, wince at the price. Then they’d give you a fresh cut, which somehow made you think it would spring to life when you brought it home. We went artificial / pre-wired at some point, and I hated that tree as the years went on. The lights were short strands joined into one rod of conjoined plugs ten inches long, which seemed ridiculous - but hey, UL approved. The last two years I would rage, rage against the dying of the strands of lights that had shorted or snapped, and last year I got a new fake tree. Unlike its predecessor, it consists of two parts, not three. It sits in the accustomed corner, unfestooned except for lights.

I’m going to the store tomorrow to buy a lot of new ornaments, and will argue for their installation over some of the usual ornaments. Why? Because I don’t like them. Because they hold no emotional meaning. There’s a Nutcracker Soldier in the bin, I’m sure. You know what? No. Scary lipless black-mouthed chomp-dude standing frozen at attention has never meant Christmas to me; it’s a cliche.

If this is to be the Best Christmas Ever, we have to address the accumulation of legacy ornaments and judge them unsparingly. This also means taking care not to put up the tiny little Rudolph licensed figurines, because Birch will eat them. Today I watched him excrete the product of some backyard forest foraging, and he was bothered by a stem of a leaf he had eaten BECAUSE OF COURSE HE DID; it had a dollop of intestinal product attached to it like the clapper of a bell, and he frog-walked around the yard trying to rid himself of it. I can only imagine him trying to crap out a Bumble.

This was Sunday night, December 3rd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


The temperature on Monday was in the mid 50s. It gave the day a strange unreal aspect I can only compare to the moment when the back half of the Titanic snapped off and settled back in the water - before taking its final plunge.

The temps were expected to drop 40 degrees in a day. Let's see what this scene looks like tomorrow.




This may be more recap than you care, but there's a point to be made, so stick with me.

Watched "Godless," a Netflix western that's obviously trying to be Heck-Yeah Big 'n; Mythical, comforming to all the cliches. I'm a big fan of genre pix that tick off all the cliches as long as they add something.


Well, it has the dusty-mustache old lawman, the cynical widower lawman, the hot-shot kid who doesn’t know his limitations, full-out evil bad guy (who, of course, is quite articulate, and makes his declarations of violence with rueful regret: the things you people make me do.) (Jeff Daniels, BTW, and he's fun.) There is a wise old Indian woman who can heal things with herbs, and a beautiful widder who’s a mean hand with a carbine, of course.

Does it have . . . the interesting main characters of Deadwood, with the opposing forces of Al and Sheriff? (Who, by the way, were both moving towards the same goal - stability - from opposite directions for different reasons.) No. No one's very interesting except for the bad guy, and maybe the hot-shot kid.

Is it . . . as well-written as Deadwood? We’ll give it a pass, because I don’t know if that’s possible.

It is . . . as funny as Deadwood? Doesn’t try. The premise, by the way, is this: the town of LaBelle is populated almost entirely by women, because all the men died in a mine accident. Many reviewers noted that the timing was good, on account of #metoo: empowerment.

LATER The dead-level BADASS not-Calamity Jane dumpy female gunsmith who’s also lookin’ out for the community is annoying as hell, partly because we’re supposed to cheer for her because she’s a DUMPY BADASS. She pulls a gun on the local merchant because he yells at the tetched li’l girl what breaks the liquorice jar. He’d asked her not to fiddle with it and break it, but she done gone and broke it anyway dadgummit, and he’s pow’rful vexed, but she points a revolver at his brain because he ought’n’t yell at the garl, who is mute and therefore symbolic.

There's an Easterner who represents the Syndicate, come to buy the mine. Get this: he's condescendingly contemptuous of local ways and sure of the skill of His Men to advance His Interests.

Sam Waterston is basically Sam Elliot with a sore throat but wobbly, as if he fell off his horse on the way to his scene, but he’s okay, thank you kindly for asking.

ALL INDIANS ARE TACITURN AND ENIGMATIC IN THIER OWN WAY, and also they have innate spirituality, which is obvious because they know the ways of the hills and herbs.

The best part of ep 3 concerns horse-breaking, which is a metaphor for impressing the Widder and giving her son - a half-breed! - some confidence. It works is because its grounded in the reality of physical strength and the dynamics of male interaction. The taciturn badass horse-owning lady and the taciturn Indian lady just watch with guarded respect, which probably irritated some viewers. But that’s all they can do, lacking the strength to break the horse or the knowledge of how men teach younger men.

We cut from this to the scene that confirms DUMPY BADASS is a lesbian. A young beautiful prostitute confesses long-standing admiration. Also, the womenfolk can build large buildings, being handy with saws, hammers, pulleys, ironmongery, etc. I don't know; maybe these were common Frontier skills for women, but if not it suggests that if you had to build a multi-story building that wouldn't fall down after a day you could just sit down and figger it out.

LATER LATER Nice penultimate ep; all falls apart at the the end with the obligatory Mythic Shooutout. The ladies know the bad men are coming to town, and given their record for killing everyone if someone harbored the member of their crew who ran off with the loot, they know it's do or die. So the serious dumpy cowgal - who turns out (surprise!) to be gay, hands out guns to the ladies as they head in the hotel for a last stand.

Her speech should go like this:

"All right, ladies, listen up. We got about 25 armed men riding into town, looking for trouble. We can assume they’re all proficient with a firearm. They’ll be coming here to the brick hotel, which is three stories high, and our most defensible building. Here’s what we’re going to do.

"We have two good shooters - myself and the beautiful widder. We’re going tup cross the street on the roof. On the roof of the hotel we’re going to put about ten of you, with carbines. All you got to do is lean down and fire, and while none of you can shoot for shit, all the men will probably be bunched up nice and convenient, even though this is shot widescreen, so chances are you’ll hit something. That’ll draw their attention up. After the first volley, everyone on the second floor lean out the window and fire your shotguns. Again, you can’t aim very well, but that should surprise them and turn a passel of them varmints into dead meat.

"Me and the widder will pick them off as best as we can from across the street. Chances are the leader of the group and his trusted hand will be at the head of the group, so we might just shoot them in the haid first and get it over with. If they try to get inside the hotel, you ladies in the parlor let loose with your shotguns, and that ought to let them know they’d best stay out. Now, if one of them is damn fool enough to ride his horse in the hotel, that’ll be good for us, because he’ll be a slow target, constrained by the hallways, hard to maneuver.

"If you run out of ammo, remember, you got your pistols, but remember the shootin’ we did yesterda for practice, the way they kick something fierce? Keep that in mind. All rightee then - Darla, you got a question."

"Yes ma'am. This is a mining town, right?"

"It was. What's your point, girl."

"We should have some dynamite."

"I reckon there's some down by the mill, yes. So?"

"Why don't we throw sticks of dynamite down into the men when they're all standing close together on horses, making demands?"

"Never thought'a that. Bertrice, run down to the mine and get some sticks."

What happened:

All the women are packed into the hotel. The sharpshooters - Butch Cassidy, if you will, and the Beautiful Widder - are on the roof, and they shoot first just to give away their position. Then the ladies on the second floor open their windows all at one with a big SCREECH so everyone knows they’re about to fire, and they shoot. Then a guy goes into the hotel on a horse and shoots a bunch of the women, except the Plucky Prostitute is able to take a few down because she can fire that Colt 45 without the barrel ever bucking up an eighth of an inch. The man on the horse goes up the stairs and down the hallways shootin' everyone, because sitting on top of a horse in a narrow hallway confers some sort of tactical advantage, I guess.

Then Han Solo swoops in on the Millennium Falcon and joins the Almost-Blind Sherrif, who’s pickin’ ‘em off at will, his vision problems fixed by a line in the script where he says “I’m not blind yet!”

Just ridiculously stupid. Oh, by the way: down the road a piece - and this is a big spoiler - there's a settlement of former Buffalo Soldiers and their families. Big African-American community. While they're considering whether to help the white wimmen in town, the bad guys show up and kill everyone one of them (except for the spunky daughter, who's sweet on Hot-shot Kid.) That's right: in order to push the plot to the desired culmination, where an all-female town has to take on the bad hombres, the plot requires the massacre of all the Black characters in the series.

Because otherwise the men would have shown up and shot the bad guys full of holes before they got two hooves in town.

Listen to this! Mournfully Mythic as all git-out, I tell you. It'll give you an idea how well-shot this thing is.


The color scheme goes from sand to brown, but it is striking. The cinematic craft on display in this series is exceptional. The storytelling skill?

Man, I miss Deadwood.


It's Christmastime at my favorite antique store / pop-culture museum.

There's a box of loose abandoned slides, with a light table for inspection.


To give you an idea what offices used to look like, consider the picture above with the overwhelming festive decorations removed come January.


Is she on the phone to indicate she's the receptionist?


Lettering no doubt done by the company that did the arrangement and provided the candles. (Extra charge.) You shoved them into the glass well and hoped they stayed up straight.

They didn't stay up straight.






It's 1897. And there she is!


The Walter M. Lowney Company was a chocolate and candy business founded in Boston in the early 1880s by Walter M. Lowney, a native of Bangor, Maine. Lowney's business was a great success, and experienced rapid growth over the next fifteen years.

The end of the 15 years would be about the time this ad ran. But the brand survived over the years; Lowney died in 1927.

This was his factory. Shuttered since 2010.



You read this because you're certain that it probably ISN'T if they have to say it is:



No arsenic, antimony, or lead? Man, this "healthy living" craze is getting ridiculous.

A website for porcelain plate enthusiasts helps us out:

Two French immigrants, Charles Lalance and Florian Grosjean formed the L&G Manufacturing Company, and started producing porcelain enamel covered iron  cookware between 1863 and 1870 - one of the first companies in the United States to do so. 

They made it all the way to 1955

It almost rhymes. It's sort of a Dad-rhyme, made by someone who's full of great cheer because he's going on a picnic and is assured of lots of fart-pills:


Van Camps are the originasl. OTHERS ARE STEALS.

Mac and Cheese . . . with tomato sauce? Tastes change.

To sum up the consumer market: chocolate, beans, and . . .


Would you like a surprise? Here's a surprise.

Not a product you see advertised much these days. The passion for camel hair has passed. Now we just see them as ugly, spitting, stinky hump-horses.



I don't see any company history, but some old ads say the HQ was at 1 Green Street.

Then for amusement, they decided to move across the street?


The modern ideal female shape:



The company began as Ypsilanti Health Underwear, founded in 1865. It was sold to Hay, Wing, and Todd n 1875. Wing called it quits a year later. The local historical society says:

  • In the 1890s, the painting of the lady wearing a one-piece “Ypsilanti Union Suit” was considered risqué for the times.
  • The painting was visible to passengers traveling on the Michigan Central Railroad.

The Calvin Klein ad of its day.


Yes, and it proclaims he's having trouble swallowing and looking around:



Men have it so much easier these days. The very idea of a separate collar that got all sweaty and dirty - a hard thing around your neck, chafing, getting out of sort - criminey.

Finally, a recognizable brand.


Who's that jaunty chap enjoying a shipboard salad?


  Somehow . . . I doubt this.


Thanks for the visit! See you tomorrow.



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