Hey: new Diner today; link at the end of the bleat. That's right: I didn't just knock one off out of peculiar enthusiasm, then say "I'll do another next week," then lose my momentum and start to go fortnightly before hanging it up again out of shame.
That's later this year! Or not. I'm still sticking to the once-a-week schedule, and I've nine eps in the can. No sponsors. No HelloFresh or Caspar mattresses. I could, but I'm not. For one thing, I don't want to bring down some sort of copyright madness for playing snippets of old tunes. I got dinged on YouTube last week; put up an old, old, old Jackie Gleason comedy routine I got off a bargain-bin CD compilation - one of those awful, ugly disks with horrible menus and video quality like a fourth-gen kinescope originally shot with a hand-crank camera. Took about 14 minutes before it was dinged.
I had to go to Copyright School and answer some questions. My main question is why the owner of the copyright doesn't put the stuff up to maintain Gleason's legacy. It was a silent piece of physical comedy, and reminded you: he was our Arbuckle. With extra, bonus swank.
Today had extra, bonus pain:
A deep, deep under-the-gumline cleaning. in the old days I would have required the gas for something like this, but I'm just used to it now. It's remarkable how the point of the pick on a part of the tooth brings up the subject of immense electric pain, but never explores the matter beyond that.
I couldn't get radio on my phone, so I had to listen to an old radio show - Philip Marlowe, the Adventures Of. The radio version is different than the taciturn, world-weary down-these-dark-streets version of the books; it plays off and amplifies the Bogart persona, giving it the grin that lived in the voice of its star, Gerald Mohr. I can assure you that Marlowe was punched hard, as always, and blacked out. There isn't a Private Eye radio show that did not involve a concussion. Those guys were NFL players with 36-game seasons.
When it was over I left with that virtuous feeling you get when you have the cleanest possible teeth, but my mouth was numb from the topical anti-pain jam she applied. Couldn't taste lunch. It was like eating a Sunday newspaper.
In related eating news: my wife had a bag of almonds in her purse. My wife does not have a bag of almonds in her purse anymore. Birch dug into her purse when he was alone for 17 minutes. I didn't google "can dogs eat almonds" because obviously yes, they can. They do not, however, chew them, so a half a pound of almonds were eliminated sequentially like Pez in several episodes of regret, and the sign of the result was like a pile of aggregate used in Roman aqueduct construction. (As I said on Twitter, because I always want to be honest when I'm reusing material.)
Mind you, ncould feed him two cups of food every hour and he would still eat anything he could. It brings him no joy. Yesterday he snatched a hoagie roll off the counter and scarfed it down, even though it was 3X the size of his food hole, and he also chomped down ona Cholula hot sauce packet that fell on the floor. He regretted that right away, but hey: they can't all be winners.
If you eat everything, it'll pay off eventually.
Daughter demanded that I watch “The Marvelous Mrs Maisel,” which is about a fictional female stand-up comic in the late 50s. Mad-Men era, lots of period detail. I had resisted it at first because the show’s logo was in Font Diner Sparkly, a typeface that was played out long ago, but what the hey.
I found it delightful. YMMV, of course, but it charmed me from the start, and when Daughter saw I was watching it she wanted to watch along. She perched on the arm of the sofa the entire time. Because I am an insufferable “actually” type I had to pause it from time to time to explain, and as it turns out she actually enjoyed it.
The loser husband, who is like a boring Paul Reiser who is still as annoying, wants to be a comedian, and he’s doing a routine about Abe Lincoln advised by marketing experts. He says “you’ve all heard of the ‘Hidden Persuaders’’”
"That was a book by Vance Packard," I said."It was about the advertising industry, and the way they made people want to buy things."
Did you read it?"
No, but neither had anyone else in the audience in the show; it was enough to know what the book was about. Serious people were up on these things, they had to know what it meant when you said 'Hidden Persuaders or 'Vance Packard.' It meant Madison Avenue, daddy-o, trying to get you to buy Coke and Winstons. So that’s wheat that meant."
There’s a comedy club manager who’s a parody of a 50s Village archetype, maybe; squat sardonic lesbian who calls Mrs. Maisel’s loser husband “Mr. Saturday Night.”
"That’s a reference to Milton Berle, who ruled Saturday night TV with his show, which was sponsored by Texaco, my dad’s brand. He wore a dress. Milton, not my dad. He wasn’t a nice man."
Here’s the thing: she likes these footnotes. I mean, she has a bright happy face, because she’s learning, filling in the gaps. She had said how attractive New York of the 50s looked, how the 50s looked fascinating and yes yes of course all the bad things, but still.
But still. I think this was the first show set in the 50s she’d watched that actually tried to get the details right, and she found it fascinating. She picked up on the mishmash of styles, with the Scandinavian modern sitting side-by-side with ersatz baroque, the clean colors in the kitchen -
"That," I said, was Our Fridge. "That was our Frigidaire. That handle. My mother told me not to hang on it because I would break it. That was our fridge".
Later, the Village comic-club manager says to Mrs. Maisel that’s she’s only thought “this is the real deal” twice before, and the first was Mort Sahl. Before I could hit pause, Mrs. Maisel says:
“We saw him last fall at Grossingers.”
I laughed and thought right then this is a sharp show, because there’s a world in those words. Sahl would start out as a new thing, the toast of the forward-looking moderns, and in a trice would be a class-status signifier that elevated the observer but reduced him to a pet in a resort.
When the show was over I called up Google images of the ruins of Grossingers, and she was sad. What happened? Shrug. Things change. Tastes change. People change.
In a year these conversations won’t happen. No: in a year we will text about the second season. NO: in a year we will FARGING SKYPE ABOUT IT.
And I will have a new car and different glasses and will be halfway through a new novel and all my teeth will be great.
Class is not dismissed.
Get this: your music connection can double without taking up any additional room! That thick sheaf of 12 songs? It’s now 24!
For a dollar. That wasn’t cheap. In 1913 it would be $25.00 or so - which today will get you 25 songs individually, or a few months access to 40 million songs.
But you won’t get access to “Sextet from ‘Lucia’” played by a military band.
That’s . . . fast.
The modern house arm that gives the advantage to the man behind it.
And, by implication, woe to the man in front of it.
Civic prints for your home, in case you have no taste and want something homely that “tells a story.”
That’s Arthur Burdett Frost, 1851 - 1928. Take a look at this gruesome tableau - dead housekept and children with the tell-tale toothache kerchiefs. Two of them. Orson Lowell (1871 - 1956) was another successful illustrator, known to ad audiences perhaps from his work in Life. Not that Life, the other Life. The Life before Life became Life.
The content asked you to derive as many Christian names from “Hinds Cream” as possible, and since you were just sitting there alone in the house with all the work done and the children not due back for an hour, you sat down with a pencil and notepad, and tried your luck.
You wondered who won. You never knew anyone who won.
It is the weapon for YOU:
Whether you are the bold forest hunter or the timid woman.
I don’t think that guy’s hunting. I think he’s up to something else, and the gun is to make sure no one keeps him from doing it.
A two-stroke valveless engine with only five parts? Man, your face must have rippled with G-forces when you opened up your Atlas:
“A non-adjustable, foolproof engine.”
The wikipedia entry is . . . odd. It begins:
The Atlas car was built in Springfield, Massachusetts from 1907-1911 (and became the Atlas-Knight for 1912–1913).
After Harry Knox left the company that had been building Knox cars in Springfield, he established the Knox Motor Truck Company in 1905 to produce Atlas commercial vehicles. His former partners at his previous firm took him to court over the name. After he was forbidden from using the Knox name, he formed the Atlas Motor Car Company in late 1907.
Got it? Then there’s this:
Harry Knox had proposed to the people producing the Sunset in California that he produce the car under license. At first they refused, but changed their mind after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Must have focused their mind in a new way.
The Great Northern Steamship company? Had to be a J. J. Hill operation, right? Right.
As for the Minnesota: Built by Eastern Shipbuilding Company, New London, Connecticutt | 1917 sold to Atlantic Transport Company, not renamed, never carried passengers for ATL, 1919 renamed Troy; 1920 reverted to Minnesota, 1921 isolation hospital at New York, 1923 sold for scrap, 1924 scrapped.
Wikipedia says it was the most luxurious liner built in the early days of the 20th century, but they always say that. Her sister ship was the Dakota, which lasted just under two years before it hit the rocks.
The Library: Gosh, make yourself comfy.
If this did everything it said it would, why, it was a miracle:
By telling you what it doesn’t require, it reminds you how even the simplest things were pains in the keister. Just writing was a pain.
Diner 2018 E02.
Enjoy! See you tomorrow.
And don't forget our new friend Scoop.