Had a nice birthday dinner (thank you! I am 19) at a local restaurant. None of the diners wore masks; all the staff did. This seems to be the generally agreed-upon arrangement. No menus, of course; menus are over. It’s odd how we went from “substitute” to “replacement” with so many things. Oh well I guess that’s how it is now.

Daughter’s present was a painting of The Black Dog or Mucky Pup in Walberswick. Made my day:


One of the weekend projects was reviving, revising, resizing, and overhauling an ancient site called “Stagworld.” It’s about men’s magazines in the 50s and 60s. It’s clammy stuff. The original title for the site was, I thought, quite clever: “Solitary Confinement for Arrested Adolescence.” Fifties cheesecake looks tame now, and sad and pathetic. The ads are even worse. One of the things Hefner realized: you don’t want to stuff the back pages of your magazines with 20 pages of tiny ads that cut a bit too close to the bone.

  The reader might think yeah, okay, I get it.

What the mags indicate is the seamy, embarrassed, furtive, humiliated aspect of junk culture in the post-war era, and why it was seen as a Breakthrough! When Hefner gave it an upscale, middlebrow gloss. It wasn’t liberation. It was a relief. No more hot-faced moments at the drug store buying gum, and oh a comb, and oh one of those, and oh also this. Now it was a sign of sophistication to have the mag on your table.

Here’s the thing: the old magazines were not only tame, they were dumb. The cartoons are witless scrawls with all the old cliches - bosomy chorines in the lap of whiskered plutocrats, hapless hubbies who got birds and stars whirling around his head when a va-va-voom number walked by (his wife scowling, of course, she being a sexless lump), the unclad showgirls in the dressing rooms discussing their mercenary plans. The picture sets that aren’t girl-on-beach are often about some Wild Nightclub where outrageous things happen, but there’s a dankness to the forced gaiety, the sense that some syphilitic Joel-grey Weinmar emcee-type is in the wings, watching it all with jaundiced boredom.

Now I feel a bit bad about some of the comments made on the site, and will adjust them accordingly - but. But. As I may have mentioned before about the use of 50s / 60s imagery on the site, it feels as if any presentation of the material of the era is suspect. It feels as if anything that doesn’t explicitly place the images in the Proper Context of This Minute in Time is a suspect endeavor, and your intention can only be malevolent if you’re not brushing everything with the glistening impasto of Critical Theories.

Well, spinach, hell with it, etc. The site isn’t up yet, but I do have something you might find interesting.


Anyone want to take a guess why I saw this and thought “oh, c’mon now. Really? Really?”

To put it another way: Are (there) no editors who would nix this one for outright theft?



Hidegarde #2:

You know they're crazy about each other!

But it's a chaste, sexless admiration! Right? Because, man, look at that spinster. She's, like, 38.

We met Hildegarde last month - a sour, acerbic, prissy, no-nonsense busybody who runs mental rings around everyone else. A popular character, and performed to comic perfection by Oliver.

This is your guarantee of Comedy and Breezy Charm.

Edgar Livingston Kennedy (April 26, 1890 – November 9, 1948) was an American comedic character actor who appeared in at least 500 films during the silent and sound eras.

Professionally, he was known as "Slow Burn", owing to his ability to portray on screen characters whose anger slowly rises in frustrating situations. Kennedy in many of his roles used exasperated facial expressions, performed very deliberately, to convey his rising anger or "burn", often rubbing his hand over his bald head and across his face in an effort to control his temper.

One memorable example of his slow-burn comedy technique can be seen in the 1933 Marx Brothers' film Duck Soup in which he plays a sidewalk lemonade vendor who is harassed and increasingly provoked by Harpo and Chico.

Some inadvertant documentary:

Grim and sooty world.

The principle of the school is an old goat, and as the movie begins, we see his secretary hide a gun under some papers on her desk, and then the boss makes his move.

You can smell the denture breath from 1934.

We meet an unhappy teacher - it was her gun in the first place - and a blackmailing drunk janitor. Everyone’s a nasty piece of work. The only question is who ends up dead. Won’t be either girl; too pretty. The drunk janitor?

Hildegarde shows up at the nine minute mark to disapprove of the drunken janitor, tartly:

It’s apparent she works at a crappy school, which is something of a surprise.

You'd think she'd have a better job - but it does fit, since she's the altruistic sort who'd work at a poor school.

Anyway. I like the main characters, and it’s a classic pairing. But it’s strictly B+ at best, a programmer. We're supposed to enjoy the banter between the cop and Hildegarde, because you know despite their arguments they're kinda sweet on each other.

A cliche. She will, of course, have nothing of this sex nonsense. At the end of the film she's at a diner with Inspector Piper . . .

. . . and Hildegarde says she's going to call the dear sweet teacher who must be all alone and feeling horrible.

Aw, we know they'll get together! Maybe next movie.

That'll do. See you around.



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