That was fast, eh? This week, I mean. Only four days. Monday, it’s like it didn’t happen. We just didn’t have a Monday. Next year will be great - we’ll get Tuesday off, and no one will be in the mood to do anything Monday, so the whole week will be a mess. BECAUSE THE CALENDAR SAYS SO. It makes you realize how arbitrary these systems are, and not to go all tiresomely Neil Degrasse Tyson on you, but there is really no such thing as Monday.
We wouldn’t be the same civilization without it, though. Monday is the fixed point around which the entire week revolves. No other day has meaning without Monday. Yes yes I know the Sabbath has its own meaning above all, but it requires the opposite force of a Monday.
He said, vamping and padding.
Anyway, it only seems fast upon recollection, and that’s an illusion. The escapade of the Stalled Car seems like two weeks ago; New Year’s Eve just a day or two past. The Christmas decorations went away on Tuesday, and Christmas seems like a month ago, except we haven’t moved the furniture back because it’s too cold and no one wants to do anything of any consequence. The faux tree is sitting in the basement like a corpse no one wants to talk about.
Speaking of which! (Now you’re interested.) I had a dream this morning in which someone made a piece of art that consisted of layers of sediment with different hues, ranging from brown to tan, and he called it a visual representation of a dog’s barks over the course of a year. It turned out to be the last straw: there was a massive public outcry, as people all over the country denounced it as the ultimate example of the stupidity of modern art. The event was understood to be a turning point in the culture, and modern art was ever after held in contempt. It was safe for everyone to point fingers and laugh with derision.
There’s more to this, but let’s pause for a moment and look at a cute dog who is not going to be as big as we thought, and has not thrown up in a week.
Let's check in with our curious little dog, who reminds us all the time that dogs have different personalties. Quite different indeed.
Remember that dog art dream? What amazed me, in retrospect, was the speed with which my brain translated Birch’s barking downstairs into instant dream material and filtered it through my own wish-fulfillment dream program. I woke with the dream fresh and the sound of his barking. Then I let him into Daughter’s room and he hopped up on the bed and went back to sleep, as did I.
Slept past the alarm, because I had no AM deadlines. It’s a five-piece week for the paper, and I’d done four. Got up and made a weekend breakfast with eggs and cheese, and a half of a half of a bagel. Sat down at the computer and worked on the difficult, problematic, troublesome 80s site. The interface is accurate, and ugly. What if I used the VCR font for
BIRCH cried Daughter downstairs.
GOD BIRCH NO
Oh dear. What now. Well. He had grabbed the bagels off the counter and eaten four of them.
It's 12 hours later and I doubt his stomach has processed the entire bolus.
When I mentioned that dogs have different personalities, I was thinking about his reaction to being caught eating something that wasn't for him. He does not give a bleep. Scout would go into Full Avoidance Mode; all you had to do was hold up the empty plate and look at him, and he turned, walked around the kitchen island, and stayed out of sight. He knew.
Birch is different. Yeah, copper, I did it. And I'd do it again.
I promised the return of some old features, no? Well, even if I didn't, here's an old feature, returning.
Yes! Lance Lawson! All new strips! New in the sense that they're frm 1948, but weren't posted before. If you're new to the strip, well, I found it in the old StarTribune archives, and was hooked from the start. Great idea: Lance solves a crime through keen detection, and you're expected to figure out how he saw through the criminal's pathetic prevarications.
That was quick. Typical Lance work. But how? How did he know? Hash it out in the comments. I'll post the answer in the comments around noon.
Welcome to our Friday assortment of snippets from old radio. It's going to be different from previous years; instead of following one show for the whole year, exhausting all the audio clips, we're going to jump all over. Variety, spice / life, etc. We begin with . . .
"Bill Stern (July 1, 1907 – November 19, 1971) was a U.S. actor and sportscaster who announced the nation's first remote sports broadcast and the first telecast of a baseball game."
Somehow the entry describes him as "verbose and egotistical," with no citation needed. Perhaps it was that obvious.
Isn't that interesting? In a minute we'll tell you . . . the rest of the story. I don't want you to read ahead; I want you to listen to this story the way it was originally told.
Then we'll talk about it.
Instead of the swank old sounds of Goodwill albums, this year we're going to share bad 1960s pop music. The second- and third-tier tunes that aped all the trends, but didn't have that spark that made for something lasting.
And I mean "lasting" in the sense that even the good stuff won't be interesting after everyone from the generation has passed to their reward. It was a lousy time for music. The mediocre stuff from the 30s and 40s is much better by a factor of ten, because they weren't trying to revoluntionize the world, maaan.
Google the lyrics if you want the names or backstories. I'll remove these after a day. Think of this as your only chance.
"Get Your Friend Stoned." more or less. The harmonies, the instrumentation - it’s all borrowed, nicked, influenced, and all the other words we use when some people with an ordinary idea are handed over to a producer who gooses up the drivel with reverb and harmonies and tell-tale period arrangements.
Even the band's name was a pastiche. I know, I know, they're considered a pioneer, in psychedelic rock, but all I hear are other bands and ideas. But it's fun to study it.
Our old ad of the week: it's 1950, and the bakers of America would like to tell you about a modern wonder. BREAD.
And now, the rest of the story.
Fascinating tale about the French Resistance member, fencing expert, and songwriter Alfred Stein, no?
Well, here's the thing. Bill's incredible stories, with their twists and turns, were presented in the decades before anyone could check anything anywhere. We had to take his word for it.
Let's google alfred stein france fencing. . . yields nothing. Perhaps provincial records were lost in the war, you might think, but then tehre was that line that made you think k Oh, now, come on:
“Some members of the French Underground loved the song so much they took it to England.”
Let's look around for that song, Symphony, and see what we find.
Killed by the Nazis in the war, he was nevertheless able to put out an album of piano music in 1952.
He used the Pigalle Orchestra, which suggests he was still living in France, and hence unable to sue the garters off Stern.
In other words, Bill Stern made it up. It's all nonsense. If it was one piece you could chalk it up to bad research, or a story too good to check - but believe me, he did this week in, week out, for years. You've heard of Fake News? You're looking at the Granddaddy of it all.
This year we'll sample some Bill Stern tales, and you get to judge the moment when you say "oh, that's just . . . B S."
That concludes our first week of the New Bleat - or does it? Yes, it does. But in a sense it doesn't, because there's a big new glorious Friday feature you'll get to know for the next 32 weeks: The Sears 1976 Catalog. Three pages per installment. Enjoy, and I'll see you on Monday.