There’s a podcast born every minute, and you probably don’t know where to begin. I don’t. I mean, there’s a pane of new stuff in iTunes, and some of them seem interesting, but I lose interest almost immediately if the female voice? Uptalks? And friiiiiiiies. And the man’s voice? Is also uptalkyy but crestless and nasal? And you get the feeling that his gestures can mostly be described as fluttery? Not to say they’re gay, because I have no idea? Could just be a New York millennial thing? You go to certain schools and you’re super Super! smart this is how you talk?

When I mentioned this in Twitter form the other week I got some snarky accusations of “whining,” probably by someone who speaks like this, or feels compelled to defend his or her generational styles.

I called up an episode of Alarmist, which is about bad things happening, and why, and who was to blame. They had an episode on the Titanic. It began with one of the worst ad reads I’ve ever heard? which doesn’t download with the file? you guys? so maybe they removed it out of horror?

Then we get the host, who describers herself as an actress, comedian, and “history enthusiast.” She knows a little about the subject because of the movie and also googling, but mostly the movie? You know, Titanic? This is the prism through which we see the Titanic disaster: Rose and Jack. (The existence of the others goes unremarked upon.) Then we meet the guest, who knows nothing about it.


For example. Molly Brown? Who has a certain attribute attached to her name?




He admits his ignorance, frequently, and spins it into inadvertent comedy gold! ICG, the best kind!


She seems to have missed that whole part about steerage and immigrants.


GET THIS - the Titanic, it’s like, you know, a metaphor!


They never shouted out its unsinkability.


God help us all


Well it CAN’T BE all like this. Skip ahead a few eps.


Uh -





Yes, it is.




"It's not a real photo, it's a drawing"





Anyway, discussing the Hindenburg, they sorta kinda blamed the US for the disaster because we didn’t sell the Nazis helium, and then there’s the smoking lounge.


“The lengths people would go through to smoke.”


No one had to go to any lengths to smoke.

Here’s your educational system at work, deciding whether the Hindenburg’s destruction was karma:




Next week: did you guys know about this place called ROME? And it totally FELL? Like SUPER-DUPER LITERALLY FELL?

It's a great, and grating, hate-listen, because very soon you are fascinated by the self-satisfaction of people who went to college but seem to lack the simplest, flimsiest, sketchiest outline of history.

Or am I being too hard?



It's 1909.

That’s a lot of news.

Sunday school shakedown:


Candler, of course, was the founder of a little beverage concern called “Coca-Cola,” quite popular in the Atlanta area.

“Acting under a compulsion.” They tried that line of BS as soon as it was available.


Black Hand:

(Italian: Mano Nera) was a type of Italian and Italian-American extortion racket. It was a method of extortion, not a criminal organization as such, though gangsters of Camorra and the Mafia practiced it.

A June 1912 newspaper report in the New York Tribune stated that the Black Hand "really exists only as a phrase. As an organization such a thing never existed out of the minds of the police. It is a catch phrase made familiar through the newspapers, and the quick witted criminal of Latin extraction lost no time in using it as a nom de crime, which he wrote at the bottom of his blackmailing letters, sometimes – in fact, generally – adding fanciful decorations of his own, such as daggers dripping blood, revolvers spitting fire and bullets, crudely drawn skulls and crossbones and the inevitable sketch of a human hand.”


Never heard of the Youman; perhaps this is why.


  A little research shows Youman had his hand in several businesses. Would you like to see his hotel? I can do that.


But I won't, because that's for next week. The hotel was three stories tall. A very large office block sits on the spot today.

TR pays a visit:


The Re Umberto was a battleship whose keel was laid down in 1884; took four years to complete.

Saw action in the now-forgotten Italy-Turkey war, or Italo-Turko, or whatever you wish to call it. Decommissioned in 1920.

The earthquake had struck in 1908, and it was bad.



The earthquake almost levelled Messina. At least 91% of structures in Messina were destroyed or irreparably damaged and some 75,000 people were killed in the city and suburbs. Reggio Calabria and other locations in Calabria also suffered heavy damage, with some 25,000 people killed. Reggio's historic centre was almost completely eradicated.

The number of casualties is based on the 1901 and 1911 census data. It was the most destructive earthquake ever to strike Europe. The ground shook for some 30 seconds.

Ten minutes later, just for fun: a tsunami.

A note of longstanding mute pathos at the end of the entry:

Because of its dearth of historical buildings due to the catastrophic 1908 earthquake, as well as the 1943 Allied bombardment during World War II, Messina has been called "the city without memory"



The variety page, just to show you how things were laid out.

”The World And His Wife” was a British phrase, but it obviously jumped the pond. It meant "everyone or anybody – used when you want to emphasize that a lot of people do something or anyone can do something.”

The Mystery of the Yellow Room, by Gaston Leroux - remembered by most now for “The Phantom of the Opera” - was an early “locked-room mystery.”


I’m curious about the strip “If It Weren’t for Father,” which seems to be a precursor of Bringing Up Father - boorish dad in high society with a wife name Maggie? It’s by K. K. McGill. Alternately, H. A. Macgill, according to one lone library listing. Nothing about it or him on the internet.

Perhaps it was just one of those ideas floating around in the culture.

McManus was inspired by The Rising Generation, a musical comedy by William Gill that he had seen as a boy in St. Louis, Missouri's Grand Opera House, where his father was manager. In The Rising Generation, Irish-American bricklayer Martin McShayne (played by the fat Irish comedian Billy Barry in the stage production McManus saw) becomes a wealthy contractor, yet his society-minded wife and daughter were ashamed of him and his lowbrow buddies.

Daily variations on this two-panel feature:

Ha ha marriage is awful

I wonder how many boys were forced to wear sailor suits, or whether it was just a cliche for the cartoons.

Mordant chap, that Quincy:






That'll do; see you around. And no, I'm not being too hard.




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