Sorry about yesterday. I thought I uploaded it - and I did! But the reference page was wrong. It's there, if you're in the mood for more, and there's lots of it. Remember, if I screw up, there's a chance you can access the page by the calendar, or adjustint the URL. I shouldn't have to make you work for it, though, so apologies.
I’m at the office now, even though I am off. Had to burn off some PTO, formerly known as “Vacation Days,” but going to the office - if just for a while - gives the day structure, and I love the week before Christmas downtown. There have been musical acts (as in, I suppose, acts of music) in the atrium for a while, and today it was four young women dressed as elves harmonizing Christmas songs. Delightful. Last week, a guy really banging out some jazzy standards; Thursday, a woodwind duet, sounding like phlegmatic geese. Traffic is lighter. The streets are a bit less clogged. Everything has a certain tingle.
The downside: holiday deadlines. Gah. Everything is due all at once earlier than ever, and I’ve written myself out of the subject. But my next columns will run the 24th and 25th, and it seems as if Christmas columns are obligatory. The challenge is finding something new, or, if I really wish to challenge myself, write something again in a way that seems new.
Which describes most things written since 100 BCE, I suppose.
Well, off to the UPS place to drop off a package; perhaps I will get a story there. An anecdote! The mood of the line, that sort of thing. You just can’t say “please, everyone, be interesting, so I don’t have to make it up” because then people feel put-upon, and worse, unpaid.
I can’t write about Star Wars, because A) that’s not what I do in the newspaper, and B) Daughter went to see it with a friend, even though we’d made plans to see it. But she’ll go see it again! Nah, that’s okay, he said, a bit hurt. I mean of course she’d want to see it with her friend.
It’s all karma for seeing “Ice Station Zebra” with my friend Jim when I told my dad I’d see it with him.
Something I remember, 49 years later.
MAY SHE BE THUSLY CURSED UNTO HER DAYS
Not much to report here, because I feel guilty about watching things I’ve watched before. I started a German show called Dark, which is . . . oh, Stranger Things meets Twin Peaks or something or other. The first episode proved that teenagers are the same the world over, I guess. At least in the West. What I couldn’t take was two or three shots of someone sitting bolt upright in bed after a nightmare.
Has that ever happened to you? Or anyone you know? I had a nap-mare the other day, and the only thing I remember about waking was that I woke, and did so with a growl of discontent and unease.
Also, there’s a mysterious cave, and nuclear power is involved. Because it’s bad! Better to shut down those evil plants and be reliant on wind, solar, and the good will of Gazprom.
Started the second ep, and thought . . . I don’t remember any of these people, really. Archetypes. I think there’s an unhappy divorced cop, too. Because HE CARED TOO MUCH or possibly GOT TOO CLOSE to a crime. The old people say “it’s happening again, just like before” which is supposed to make us shiver with dread, but that just means the monster was defeated before, and presumably will be defeated again.
Interesting idea for a show: there’s a monster that crawls out of a cave every ten years and lays waste to a town. A different town every decade. Every decade they anticipate it, devise ways to kill it; in the last episode it appears, and the town loses, every time.The monster wins for at least five seasons, taking us from the 30s to the 80s. Then the show is cancelled and the monster is never seen again.
I couldn’t find anything to which I wished to commit after that; so much of modern TV consists of scrolling, noting, considering, saving for later, and finally saying “What the hell,”and watching the first ep. Just watching the first ep is committing, because unless it is an unholy stinker you’ll be obliged to look at the second ep. I watched one ep of “Glow,” which was well-reviewed and all that, and felt the same sort of deadness I get these days: it’s okay. Do I hafta? No? Okay then.
Situation, characters, intelligence, wit, recognition of genre tropes and willingness to observe and transgress them: that’ll do it.
They rarely do it.
So I fell back on something I’d seen before, but hadn’t seen like this: the first season of the remastered Star Trek. (I know. I know.) Thing is, I skip most of the first season shows, because I knew them by heart. They feel different than the excellent shows of the second season - and look different, too. Soft focus; frequently everyone is unusually moist. I know the plots. Salt Monster. Teenager with Powers. But it’s been so long since I’ve seen them I can watch them almost with new eyes, especially - and this is key - since I’ve studied (what a pretentious word) the radio sci-fi that preceded it. There were two big sci-fi shows on radio in the 50s, Dimension X (1 season) and X-Minus One (3 seasons), and they embodied the view of the future the sci-fi pulps put out, at least when it came to “hard” sci-fi. The ship’s command structure, the quasi-military framework, the barked commands and buckled shielding, the super-aliens - it was all part of the genre’s vernacular, and Roddenberry hoooovered it up for Trek.
I also watched “Force Awakens” to prepare myself, as I mentioned last week. I’m glad I have so little invested in this. I love it very much, but I have no porg in this fight. Go where you will. In fact, go someplace I don’t expect. PLEASE.
Let's Christmas shop with the Campbell Kids!
One question: what kid would ever want to play with the Campbell Kids? Who decided that a popular, well-established line of soup needed to branch out into toys?
Things like this are good for building brand awareness from an early age, though. Mirro was a popular name, and a Manitowoc mainstay for over a century.
Tot-tailored knee-skinners from the gun company:
I'm sure all these things were fun, but if you really want to get good at roller-skaing, imagine yourself being chased by one of the Campbell Kids, its lidless eyes wide and starting. And needing.
There was a Richard Hudnut. By the time this ad ran in 1937, he’d been dead nine years.
Richard Alexander Hudnut (June 2, 1855- October 30, 1928) was an American businessman recognized as the first American to achieve international success in cosmetics manufacturing. The company once maintained separate US and European headquarters on Fifth Avenue in New York City and on the Rue de la Paix in Paris, respectively.
Although his fortune had been built around cosmetics and beauty products, he preferred to be known as a “perfumer".
My mother used Hudnut products, and probably grew up looking at glamorous ads like this. Gorgeous work - that bottle is particularly well-done.
What did it smell like? Says this website devoted to . . . to Richard Hudnut products, “It is classified as an aldehydic floral fragrance for women with a dominant jasmine note. In a similar vein of Chanel No.5.” A comment on the website says: “For sure, it has many similarities to Chanel 5, but is actually less cloying/sweet, with more of a honeyed leather quality. Simply divine!”
It was discontinued long ago, but the site says it was still sold in 1968. So the young woman who took this ad to heart could be wearing it into her fifties - remembering, perhaps, what rich people used to look like. At least in the ads and movies.
She will remember you longer if you give her stockings. She will forget you eventually, but the date can be forestalled for a while.
Hues for piquant women:
Hues for screaming harpies, I suppose if you read between the lines.
She's not having any of your presumptions, though.
Even Santa hired Raymond Loewy to redesign his sled. And hell, while you’re at it, modernize the reindeer too, could you?
Those are alarmingly sleek and shiny reindeer.
An excerpt from a site coming next year, devoted to trade-publication ads for drug stores. Trust me, it’s fantastic! It’s absolutely crammed with the stuff to which Tuesday Product was once devoted: not just ads, but bygone packaging. Store displays are the most ephemeral commercial things, since they were always thrown out after a promotion was over.
Well. Here's what was on the floor and the counter of the drug stores of America!
STEP UP YOUR LOOSE BULB SALES, PEOPLE.
Those new frosted rough bulbs that make you think about snow somehow!
Are the packages more lovely today?
The main typefaces are better. The rest of it? I suppose that's up to you, but there's something about that script typeface and the blue gradient that's just classic.
Well, it is classic.
That'll do; see you around.