Another simple Monday. They can be simpler. Every other Monday I have a National Review column due, so there’s a bit of cleaning and wincing and tightening - and, oh, constructing the top part because I just dived in and started writing without setting the stage. But that’s nothing. That’s my job. No writer should feel as if he’s owed any applause for the simple act of meeting a deadline.That’s like a doctor washing his hands and turning around, expecting applause.
So I did that - washed my hands, and expected applause, because c’mon it’s a lonely job - then filed an architecture column piece, and hey presto that’s my work day. Started casting around for the next column, and considered something on Ray from Menards - a local pitchman for a hardware store chain. Big guy, white hair, great cheer, and one distinguishing characteristic: a grin that made his lower mandible swing out to the side. Bloopers:
If you spend enough time in a place, you incorporate the jingles into your DNA. You save big money. You save - big - money. When you shop Menards. To this day I’m torn between Menards and Home Depot, because the former built an enormous store that made Home Depot seem like the scrappy underdog. Sometimes on weekend runs to the hardware store with the Giant Swede, we’ll go to Menard’s instead of Home Depot without quite knowing why. In his case, I think, it’s because they carried Dr. Pepper Licorice for a while, and his kids loved it, and maybe they’re coming back for the weekend.
Maybe not, but the memory was nice. I know, I know: Dr. Pepper Licorice cannot exist, because Licorice is a flavor. I still want to fight this battle. There’s no red licorice. There are red twists. There’s Dr. Pepper vines. But sometimes you have to put aside your objections with the understanding that your friend knows what you probably want to say and doesn’t want to hear it, because you know what I mean.
Ray retired a few years back, but they still have a cartoon picture of him all over the store. Never met him; wish I had. I’ve met some famous pitchmen in my time, from Rudy Boschwitz to Fancy Ray to Johnny Mac - well, not a pitchman when I knew him; he was a newsreader for KSTP, but he’d sold stuff on live TV in New York in the early days, which took stones and poise.
Local pitchmen are a vanishing breed, like local TV kid-show hosts - most of those are gone. Internet culture planes smooth the very idea of a regional TV figure, no? You’re global or you’re nothing.
Anyway. Those Dr. Pepper things were awful. And I love Dr. Pepper. Just not when it’s intentionally congealed.
This is almost a B&W World entry, but it’s TV, and we don’t do TV in B&W World. (This year, anyway. Next year? Oh all the rules will be broken.) Netflix has a reboot of “Lost in Space,” and I watched a little. Was not interested. Since I have no attention span, and also require shows to step it up a little in the first ep, and also have little interest in shows about Plucky Kids, I’m going to pass. But it made me go back to the original, which wasn’t very good. Beloved, yes, but not very good.
And we all know it wasn’t very good. But still it is beloved. Why? Because it’s part of the Hallowed Boomer Youth, and we remember being eight and watching it because it was Space and we liked the robot. Et cetera.
Well. The original pilot, like many eps of the first season, weren’t campy. They didn’t have Dr. Smith being the evil mincing baddy sparring with the Robot. Let’s take a look at the pilot - which wasn’t aired, for reasons obvious now. (Dull, no villain.) Take a look at this set!
It would never be used again, right? Because they were Lost in Space.
Live from Mission Control:
TV of 1997 turned out to be accurate, at least in the shape and size of the screens. The TV broadcaster is telling the audience how the ship will help solve the overpopulation problem, although it’s possible they were just annoyed by the Robinson family and wanted an excuse to get them off the planet. As soon as it takes off, it hits a storm of wadded aluminum balls:
The voice-over from Mission Control describing the events to the viewers at home seems a bit too well-informed.
They crash. Time passes.
In the future, people will write in longhand on paper notebooks. They can presume scientific advances that get us to other planets, but the quotidian details of daily life? Nah. Anyway: monster.
It’s dull. So they took another run at it, and added the two things that would keep everyone tuning in.
A villain. A spy! A traitor!
Here’s the robot, whom we all know and love.
. . . and Dr. Smith is doing something to his controls. What is he accessing?
All he has to do is drop his lids to half-mast, and the audience sneers and boos and hisses.
Anyway, two things:
Anton Leader, a man who directed uncounted radio shows in the old days. Imagine someone who directed Amos & Andy showing up as a director of the original Star Trek - or, for that matter, the director of West Side Story doing a Star Trek movie - no, wait, that happened. Anyway, it was a surprise. As was this:
Not that it was a cliffhanger; big deal. No, it’s the typefaces. They’re so un-futuristic. I mean, they’re western.
You know, like Wagon Train to the Stars.
My, the family was hungry tonight
What was she feeding, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir? And is that even a reference anyone gets anymore?
Chipso was named because it came in flake or chip form, and the -o suffix was a typical product name for the era. It connoted modernity, and like most things, ended up a cliche for someone who wanted to mock a product or ad of an era.
Men love the fleeting glint of gold!
Also the short hair, which suggests you smoke and have sex.
Were people tottering around in the 20s with unstable gaits because of the unscientific shoes of the turn of the century? What an innovation: shoes that flex, as opposed to the old bricks people had to wear.
Really, I have no idea how uncomfortable shoes used to be - I imagine there were cheap, uncomfortable shoes sold to the lower class. You’d get a nail in your foot from a cheap heel. And then you’d get tetanus. It was always something.
“Are they any good?”
“Well, they’re pure.”
The company started selling mints in 1893, and continues to this day.
They are pillowy soft. And as you can tell, they have the added attribute of being sold at CHAIN stores.
It’s the exact replica of a three-day-old baby.
Not two. Not four. THREE IS THE IDEAL.
Grace Putnam. After a divorce, “she gave painting and drawing lessons and began sculpting dolls to support her family. In 1920 Putnam visited a Salvation Army day nursery in Los Angeles where she studied a 3-day old sleeping girl.
"Using clay she quickly worked at the baby’s side to sculpt its likeness. Putnam often remarked that she wanted the doll to be as lifelike as possible, unlike “prettier” dolls of the day. The doll was a huge success, and was distributed by the New York firm, George Borgfeldt and Company, distributors of Rose O’Neill’s Kewpies and other well-known American dolls."
What does Bye-Lo mean, really?
Beautiful ad for that modern marvel, aluminum:
It would be Mirro, eventually.
Mirro Aluminum Company’s roots began in 1893 when Two Rivers’ Joseph Koenig traveled to the Columbian Exposition in Chicago where products were displayed made of aluminum. Henry Vits, from Manitowoc, set up a shop to manufacture aluminum products at the same time. In 1909 Koenig’s Aluminum Manufacturing Company and Vit’s Manitowoc Novelty Company merged with the New Jersey Aluminum Company of Newark to create the Aluminum Goods Manufacturing Company, which was locally known as the “Goods”.
So you can see where the name came from.
Quick: does the can still look like this today? If not, how much has changed?
Also: how many times can you say “beef” before it starts to sound quite silly? I can make it up to five.
That will have to do; see you around - and of course don't forget the brilliant comic stylings of our crudely-drawn friend, Scoop.