Let me tell you something about winter here. It wasn’t that cold today; super 20s. The wind knocked that down ten degrees, though, so the dog walk was brisk. Very brisk. Birch strained at the end of the leash to get home, momentarily distracted by a doggy funk from a tree trunk or the scent of a small creature under the snow, which made him pounce almost fox-like. I turned the heat up so the house was toasty, and we took an excellent nap all huddled up: a one-dog afternoon, if you want to use the old “Three Dog Night” standard.

I took today off, because I needed to burn off PTO and had a dental appointment in the morning. That was more poking than normal, and I have to go back for a procedure that will involve more poking. Afterwards I went home and ate and didn’t floss, because hey! Free Parking, sort of.

But I was talking about winter, not the dentist. Although my next appointment is in early January, which will be like this, but colder, and with no ho-ho-etc to Brighten Spirits and all the rest of the emotions the profusion of red and green is supposedly provoking. (This far, Christmas Feeling = zero, but that’ll change.)

But I was talking about winter, not judging myself for a lack of Pavlovian reaction. Dropped Daughter off at a restaurant to meet a friend, then went on errands. I had an hour before I picked her up, I thought. Little did I know that she would text me in 55 minutes: she had a ride from the restaurant to the gym. Okay. So I slowed down my errands, and added a stop. Went to Infinite Intoxicants (Total Wine and Spirits, they call it) and bought a box of wine. It comes out of a tap! And you can’t tell how much you had because the box isn’t transparent at all. I have a self-regulating reaction to red wine, anyway: it puts me to sleep. I’m sure there’s a good reason; seems common enough. No other spirit puts me to sleep; in fact, they have a positively Churchillian effect, except for the desire to invade Gallipoli.

I bought some anyway, because it seemed like something nice to have on a cold night. In fact I’m having it now, and


Wha! Huh? I’m awake, no really I’m up. Just nodded off. What was I talking about?

I was talking about winter. Right. On the way into Total or Infinite or Limitless Hooch or Liver McPuncher’s House of Minor Perceptual Recalibration, I gathered up the things in the car Daughter had left, and I’d neglected to pick up. A bag from our Chick Fil-A meal Saturday night. An empty Altoids tin. Two cups of take-out coffee she’d brought from work. I stuffed them in a bag and put the bag in the garbage outside the store, noting that the Traders Joe bag I was holding had gotten a bit damp. And sticky. Some of her coffee, I figured.

Thought no more about it until I got back in the car, whereupon I realized I had spilled a large quantity of coffee on the driver’s seat, and I was now sitting in a puddle of cold, wet milky coffee, and it had soaked through my pants.

I drove back home sitting on two layers of fabric saturated with ice-cold cappuccino. And that is winter here. I said I was going to tell you about it, and I just did.



TV Tuesday is not about reviews: who cares? I always think. If you’re not watching the show, why would you care?

Watching “Halt and Catch Fire,” the show no one else watched. Really! No one. They renewed it just for me. I’ll probably get a bill some day. It’s about the computer industry, but it’s really about the relationship between four or five people over the course of a few decades - and while that is absolutely true, it’s also really about the computer industry, and how it changed. Good characters and steady, intelligent writing and directing have made it a dear fave, but that’s not what I’m here to discuss.

It’s this: when the show enters the 90s, it’s no longer nostalgic. It’s familiar. It feels as if I’ve been dropped into the warm bath of post-Bush 42 culture.

There’s a million BuzzFeed posts about Things Only 90s Kids Will Understand etc., and they relate to hair styles, games, early tech, and so on. I lack a sense of the decade like I grasp the 70s and 80s, and this would obviously seem to be a function of age. You are young at a particular time; its cultural products seem incredibly relevant; they matter. As you age, you disengage.

You don’t get it.

But I was no less engaged in the 90s. Given my early involvement in the Internet (I was in the WaPo newsroom a few days after they fired up Mosaic! Present at the creation!) I was dunked and steeped in it. The music, TV, politics, fashion, nerd culture - yes. Absolutely.

So I’m trying to figure out what was the there that was there. Post-history, no Soviets, that’s cool, big relief. What flooded in was an astonishing amount of paranoia and doubt.


I was in radio during the Art Bell time, a perfect bellwether - the lid was off, all the poisons lurking in the mud hatched out nightly. With nothing to hate and fear - the Soviets were gone - we had to invent new monsters, and man, did we go to work. All of that was rendered instantly silly on September 11, the effective end of the 90s.

What it makes me think is this: we should have been happier than we were.

Or perhaps it was good that we weren’t decadent, but girded our loins for the next loin-threatening challenges and opportunities. These things are never explicit; they’re only discernible later when you poke through the culture. Perhaps it meant something that there was the Lounge Music / Swing / Big Band revival, harkening back to another time of cultural confidence, aping its styles and postures to remind us what it was like to believe in ourselves.

I want to be connected to my time, but it’s strange: you get the impression now that reality exists on the internet, which is why we spend so much time on our devices, which does not let us peak at the truth but constitutes a firehose shot through a keyhole.

Got Apple Music to listen to new stuff. I should listen to what’s current. I hate almost all pop music, and in every instance I hit NEXT it’s for the same reason: the sound of the female voice in pop music is unlistenable to my ears. The autotune, the fry, the same sullen resentful tone - they all sound like they’re imagining themselves in a music video.

Gah. Well, call up the Costello playlist, see what’s there, I love Elvis . . . oh. Well. Not many recent albums, and that’s probably a good thing because every time I dip into the work from the last 15 years I am bored and annoyed.

Gah. Well, call up the Squeeze playlist, see if there’s some old songs I haven’t heard . . . no, of course not. Oh hello: they released some albums I hadn’t heard . . . Ah! A recent one, a couple tracks I like.

Then: a link to the solo work of Chris Difford, half of the great songwriting team that powered Squeeze. And a door opened. Holy Jeezum Crow, it’s fantastic. It’s an old voice from youth, melodic, rueful, greateful. google google hurrr hurrr stampa, he’s like the anti-Costello.

And so.

I can only recommend the album "I Didn't Get Where I Am," since that's all I've heard, but I know there's more. I discovered he had a blog, and recently flew - which he hates - to a concert at Disneyworld. I have a horrible fear he played the amphitheater in Epcot across from the Hall of Presidents, where the crowds are spare and tired and sticky and killing time.

But that was me tonight, as well.



This isn't unexpected, but it's different. For one thing, the packaging is quote nice, aside from the embossed OREO, which I predict will be gone in a year or two.


Same great taste - with RED CREME.

Which is indistinguishable in taste from WHITE CREME, but that wouldn't be seasonal . . . except it would. Snow!





Welcome . . . to 1975.

The photo says it was shot “at the site of the National Christmas Tree,” but don’t think that’s the tree in the picture. They’re looking at the tree.

Mommy, can we turn our bodies so we can look at the tree straight on? My neck hurts.

No, children, we’ll stand here at a perpendicular angle and look up at it, sideways.


Red bricks printed on sturdy paper. That thing was trashed by the end of the night.



Flickering flame illusion created by a 25 watt bulb, which they were too cheap to include.

Close your eyes, you can almost hear the chatter . . .

. . . no, that’s mom and dad in the kitchen, arguing. Close your eyes again and put your hands to your ears.

A palace for your pet. A regal palace.


It also comes in Happy Patch variety, where the trademark quilts of depressed, impoverished rural culture are printed on white fabric to give the illusion of rustic, homespun virtues.

Hey, Kings! The kid’s over here, ya stupes! You’re worshipping the lambs!



But they said - they said the Lamb of God would



Two-tone plastic! It’s the richest kind:


“Decorator’s delight.” How the heck this weighed five pounds, I can’t imagine. Make sure you put it over the fireplace, though; nothing like leaving the rumpus room gas fire on by mistake when you go to church, and coming back to find a puddle of melted plastic.


If I understand these things correctly, the field vibrates and the figurines move around, totally at random. Right?




The unreadable mess of a Wikipedia entry says:

Each player is attached to a base, with "prongs" or "brushes", also known as "cleats", on the underneath of the base. These prongs can be "coached" prior to the playing of the game by using smooth mouthed pliers which stretch, shape and or flatten the prongs to get them to perform faster, stronger and in an exact route. The base in combination with a specific action figure can then be put in an on field position in the offense or defense that best makes use of the combined attributes.

Oh: it has a coach’s association.


This . . . this seems familiar.


9 Let’s adjust the picture, compare . . . Yes. That’s what it was, all right.

They didn't even change the shapes of the holes. Both games were made by Milton Bradley, but I don't know if MB still owned Operation. They sold it to Hasbro at some point. Or perhaps Operation was old and tired by 1975, and they wanted to use the board for something new.

God forbid they should redesign the board.

Hope you enjoyed your visit! More tomorrow, of course. Always more tomorrow! (Offer not Valid Friday - Sunday)



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