Got home from work, and ran the snowblower down the walk, then up the other side, then down that side, then up the side that had been the down side previously. The joy of living on a hill. The thing catches on a heaved square of concrete, and stops, refusing to be pushed - and IT’S SO ANNOYING I feel this surge of HATE in my breast for the sidewalk.

It is the same kind of surge you feel when someone in front of you in the car does not turn on the yellow even though there’s no traffic coming - c’mon! Now we all have to wait because of you, and by “we” I mean Me! Don’t think I won’t pass you when we get the green, and perhaps accelerate a bit to indicate my towering displeasure, and won’t that make you rethink your life choices.

If I do that, and someone behind me honks, well, we are clearly dealing with a lunatic.

But the SURGE was greatest yesterday when I got a call from the lawn-service company. I’d called them on Sunday because I got around to opening the mail, and there was an offer for free this and discounted that. This is the year we get the lawn back in shape, starting with new sprinkler heads and a new control system I can run from my phone, and I was keen to get a soil analysis.

The ground . . . is sowah, as Fred Munster put it.

(Someone explain that in the comments, if you would.)

The conversation on Sunday was long and detailed, and spelled out to the penny what I would be charged. Great! I hung up feeling great, because I was ahead of things, on top of things, had my hands around things. No more waiting until May to beg to get on the schedule.

So I got a call from someone on Monday from the company, and it was one of those flat bored slightly-annoyed-that-people-have-to-have-jobs-in-the-first-place rote voices that mistakes tired indifference for authority, and she started rattling off questions to confirm my details and agreements.

Do you live in Minneeanapolis


Where do you live


That’s what I said

I got THE SURGE and really didn’t want to do this, since I was in the middle of something, and said I would call back later. I did, when I was driving. A person with a more professional voice asked the same series of questions, and my answer to everything was “yes,” because we had gone over this in grueling, repetitive detail already.

At the end of it I asked why the previous conversation was regarded as possibly flawed, but this one wasn’t. Will someone be calling me to confirm this confirmation?

I always preface these things by saying “I’m not blaming you at all, I know this is what your job is, but if the calls are be recorded for quality assurance, maybe they could take note that this is time-consuming and needless.”

Of course while I said this I felt as if I should point towards the ceiling to indicate Those Who Are Recording For Quality Assurance. You know, them -

Annnnd this just turned into a column, so never mind.





It’s 1961. Familiar, yet remote.

Familiar in the sense of the evergreens - snow, murder, a mob somewhere. Remote, because the Congo problems long ago slipped off the front page.

The deets:

The Congo Crisis was a period of political upheaval and conflict in the Republic of the Congo (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) between 1960 and 1965. The crisis began almost immediately after the Congo became independent from Belgium and ended, unofficially, with the entire country under the rule of Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. Constituting a series of civil wars, the Congo Crisis was also a proxy conflict in the Cold War, in which the Soviet Union and the United States supported opposing factions. Around 100,000 people are believed to have been killed during the crisis.

Noted now in the West, if at all, for a line in a Billy Joel song no one recalls.He yelled "Belgians in the Congo!" which isn't quite date specific, but since it comes after "Psycho" we can fix the date at 1960, when the Belgians bugged out, their gawawdul exercize in extractive colonialism over.


Meanwhile, the Reds were forced to take a Soft Line:

1961 was a hell of a year for the Reds; the Berlin Wall Crisis, the ongoing Sino-Soviet split, Nikki the K dealing with the usual internal forces.

Whatever was going on in Soviet politics was always of keen interest in the States, because we were waiting for them to collapse, or decide to play nice. We were inevitably disappointed. Meet the old boss, etc.

A winter of hard storms:

The Nor’Easter of 61 has its own wikipedia page.

Historically unprecedented:

There were fears that atmospheric nuclear tests had changed the climate. You heard it all the time in the radio and TV shows of the day. The smart people who followed the news were pretty sure we'd screwed up the weather for good.


That’s some BS right there.


The case began in 1960 when The New York Times published a full-page advertisement by supporters of Martin Luther King Jr. entitled "Heed Their Rising Voices" that criticized the police in Montgomery, Alabama, for their mistreatment of civil rights protesters.[5] The advertisement had a number of factual inaccuracies, such as the number of times King had been arrested during the protests, what song the protesters had sung, and whether or not students had been expelled for participating.

The judge ruled the advertisement's inaccuracies were defamatory per se, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Sullivan and awarded him $500,000 in damages.[5] The Times appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court of Alabama, which affirmed it. It then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case and ordered certiorari.

SCOTUS heave-ho’d the judgement. The full page of the ad is here.

A thaw was underway, it seems:


Khrushchev was pleased by Kennedy's inaugural address on January 20, 1961 and immediately offered to release American pilots shot down over the Soviet Union as an olive branch. Kennedy in his turn ordered a halt to US Postal Service censorship of Soviet publications, lifted a ban on the importation of Soviet crab meat, and ordered military officials to tone down anti-Soviet rhetoric in speeches.

A reminder they made a ton of moves you never hear about today.

Rico came out in ’57. Wonder if “Mountain” is on Disney+.

As for "Surprise Package," one review said “Woefully unfunny.”

But Maurice Binder credits! And they're fantastic!

This is the only time I've ever, ever seen Maurice Binder credits that had the name of someone I slightly knew. He had an office next door. Came in now and then for the restroom key. Sweet guy.

The space race changed everything:

Popular comic - 180 papers at its zenith. Pity it’s forgotten, and its creator deserves a few words here:

Born in Wilton, Wisconsin, Phillips began his career in show business as a violinist at the age of 17. He also played the saxophone and led his own orchestras. Phillips studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and freelanced cartoons to 36 different magazines during the Great Depression. He eventually became head of the humor staff for Esquire in the late 1930s.

Phillips scripted for motion pictures, including Song of the Open Road (1944), which featured the film debut of Jane Powell. Phillips also penned the Powell vehicle Delightfully Dangerous in 1945.

For television, Phillips wrote or co-wrote more than 250 scripts.

The cover went over the typewriter in 2000, when he was 95.


I don’t think AP runs features like that anymore.


That'll do; now let's go back a hundred years.

A hundred years! It doesn't seem right.




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