This is a vacation week, of sorts. Still have all my work obligations, but otherwise, yay, vacation! Have to burn off some PTO, as it’s called because we all speak in HR / Corporate lingo these days. All these acronyms. The more complex the system, the more acronyms everyone has to learn, and the more they define the in-group.

I see a hand in the back; yes?


You’re correct, and thank you for making that point. An acronym is an abbreviation pronounced as a word, like Scuba. (I’m still surprised no one ever came up with the word “scuba” before the invention of the device; it’s such an interesting sound.) “PTO” is simply an initialism, unless you ask your boss for paid time off by making the sound of a disgruntled frog - puttoh. Perhaps in years to come the word peatio will come to mean “an absence from work."

There’s also LEA, or leave of absence, pronounced elly-ay, not Leah-ah. Daughter will be taking an ellyay from Target when she goes back to school. And of course who can forget TFA, Two-Factor Authentication? I had a brush with this today, as I attempted to reauthenticate the Authenticator on my phone. This required a call to IT, which is distinct from Technical Help Emergency Management, or THEM.

The problem: the Authenticator installation wanted a QR code, and I knew not where to get it. The patient fellow on the other end walked me through a series of questions designed to place me on a spectrum, one end being the Urine-Soaked Rube, or USR, the other end being someone who knew what he was doing, and hence could be spoken to in tones that implied equal status. (Note: you will never have equal status, because if you had equal status, you wouldn’t have called.)

Got it working with a minimum of blood shooting out my ears, which was good, because the only other option was doing the process in the office. At one point I said “great, when are you in the office.”

“Oh we’re not in the office.”

No, I suppose not. Guess I’m SOL. Or SOOL, to be accurate. But as I said, it worked out, and everything was OK. I filed my columns for next week and that was that. VACAY!

Which does not stand for anything. Yet.




The Amazon alogos know me well, for good and bad. It thinks i want to watch all the Star Trek movies again.They're right. I wish they weren't. It makes broad assumptions that aren't always flattering. I was not surprised when it said I might enjoy UFO. I did, once, in a state of mind we call "adolescence." Hate to think I haven't moved past that, but I am a guy, and we tend to attenuate certain elements of that state into dotage.

I think UFO aired on Saturday afternoon in Fargo. A dead time where they dumped stuff because no one was watching. I was keen to like it, because they weren't making any Star Trek anymore, and hey, spacecraft!

People with grim faces in high-tech control rooms!

I liked it, but there was something . . . missing. I didn’t know what. The problem may have been the producers, because there was almost nothing Gerry Anderson did that I liked. Miss me with that puppet stuff, as they say. There was something cold and off-putting about our hero, Commander Straker. Why that hair. Why.

Its view of the future was . . . colorful, let's say.

And of course the purple moon-girl wigs. I guess. Seemed to be trying too hard on that whole "future" part.

Point is, I think I liked it in the abstract, and didn’t mind when I missed it.

But who am I to argue with Amazon's recommendations?

I’m somewhat surprised by how good it is. The FX, the miniature work - it’s fantastic. Ed Bishop’s no-nonsense Straker is a man under unbelievable stress, when you think about it, and what seemed cold and brusque when i was a kid is now the character of a fellow who has no time for error or lassitude.

I think the thing that sealed the deal, and said this is not silly kitsch, was an early episode in which Straker’s spending the day with his son. He’s divorced. After he drops off the kid, there’s a traffic accident, and the child is seriously injured. Because the sonsuffers from a plot-induced condition, he needs a rare medicine, and Straker pulls strings to get SHADO air assets to transport it. But oh no, there’s a UFO attack! He has to decide - get the medicine to his son, or bring down the threat?

He goes with the former, and there’s a few tense moments, but the plane eventually gets the medicine to the kid, as we knew it would.

But it’s too late and his son dies and his ex-wife curses him.

That’s the thing about UFO: for a show made by people known for rictus-faced marionettes, it’s remarkably dark. That doesn't make it good, of course. But it gives it a character that's more shaded than the garish overlit shots suggest.

And of course it has a fantastic theme. The keening strings of the ident isn't part of it, but for me it always was. Sets you up. Seems 60s-Brit. The opening shot of the eyeball before the music kicks in, and a complete explanation of what you're about to see.

Always thought the interceptors should have more than one missle, though.




It’s 1926.

Remember: Camels are sold wherever civilization has its stores.

If there are no Camels, you have exited civilization. If going into the deep wood where trade and people have not come, bring along, oh, ten cartons.

Nowadays we define civilization not by cigarette availability, but cellular signal.

The . . . the what?

Why would they use that word? Facsimile, I mean. It’s a usage that’s passed from immediate comprehension. Then again, the brand name turned into a term used mostly to describe condoms, so it’s no surprise you can’t find this brand anymore.



Get genuine like big stars use

Send postal.

The Buescher block was address enough; the numbers identified the publication in which the ad had run.



Deal quickly with eruptions!

You could conjure up a long detailed backstory for that model, eh? Perhaps a young actress picking up a few extra bucks. Maybe an extra in a Broadway show, or chorus line. A few hours’s work, twenty-five dollars, and the nagging feeling that this was not, in fact, the start of something big.

You couldn’t just plug in the radio?

Sure you could.

If you had a plug.

Most houses of the early 20s had ceiling-mounted electric lights, maybe some scones. But plug molding came later in the decade, so you’d have to get a battery. When houses become Fully Electrified, with all sorts of bounteous opportunities for appliances and modern living, it was ta-ta to a lot of battery makers, I’m sure.




"Where you going?"

"Top of the Flatiron. I want to test something."



When you’re negotiating the delicate shift in tastes from Egyptian to Virginia with a stopover on the Ottoman palate, why not use Chinese headgear:

Made of “practically indestructible Radite.”

It’s a lovely ad for a commonplace thing still used today. In fact everything in these ads are familiar, aren’t they? Almost a century past, and we still have a lot in common. If nothing else, we could talk about pens and road trips and what’s on the radio.


That'll do; head off for some Webby, if you wish. We're in late 30s territory now.




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