How long is been since the weekend was a break from the news? I remember once there was a time when everyone seemed to take a break from Doing News Things. I’ll bet it goes back to the First Gulf War, because CNN and Headline News were always on, and someone was always saying something, and we were ramping up to the big show. We became accustomed to it, and we liked it: the act of observing important events made us feel important, and we were proud of ourselves because we were involved. Engaged.
Ah, you say, it was better long ago, when the news came in a printed sheaf twice a day, and that was it. Less of a sense of immediacy; the perils were muted by time and distance. Perhaps for certain periods, but don’t forget radio. I’m reading “The Darkest Year” by William Klingman, and he talks about the period before US involvement in WW2 was underway. Constant national jitters. Dispatches on the radio, breaking into programs for updates - a slow-rolling storm that got wider and taller, streaked with lightning. No one had experienced the onset of a war in real time with mass media.
Things calmed down between 1991 and 2001, I think. The weekend was time for the shows, the talking heads, and they summed up the week, put it in a box and tied a bow so we could all tick that one off and watch football.
After 911, bonkers. After 2016, Bonkers Deluxe Turbo. After 03/2020, Bonkers Deluxe Turbo Max Overdrive. Now we had devices in our hands that barneygumbled everything directly into our veins.
I remember when I was in high school, and there was nothing more arid or inert than a Saturday afternoon. The only thing happening on TV was golf. Maybe bowling. An old movie. Now I’m sitting in my car flicking through madness before I go inside to get a TV stand. Could wait until after I get the TV stand; possibly, if it takes a while for the clerk to get it, I could hoover up some news right there, my head bowed as if in prayer, my thumb pulling up news from the depths of the feed and flicking the previous stories into the ether.
It’s no way to live, you tell yourself - but neither is ignorance.
So, you ask: did you get the TV stand? Thank you for changing the subject. Yes, but it had a complication. I ordered it online to be picked up at Target. I went to the Drive-Up Pick-Up area, and parked. Opened the Target app to get the necessary barcode.
You are not connected to the internet, the app said.
Don’t lie to me. I know I am. Four bars. Look, here, I’m calling up a website. Let me kill the browser app and reload it - hey presto! I have internet. What are you on about?
Knock at the door; it’s the Target person. I hold up my phone and say I’d show you the barcode but the app ( note I did not say your app) says I’m not connected. That’s wrong. As you can tell I have four bars. I’m signed in. Here, let me kill the app and reload it . . . okay, same thing. Well, I’m here for a TV stand.
He holds up three bags
“So I guess you’re not here for these groceries”
Uh no. I think: did I drive into a numbered spot that had been preassigned for this three-bag assemblage of gustatory bounty? Well, never mind, I’ll go inside.
I walked up to the counter and the woman at the register barked a curt command to stand on the RED CIRCLE, please.
This I did because of course I don’t want anyone to die because I want’t in the RED CIRCLE, and you don’t want to be the person who stands five feet away instead of six to prove a point. I want to be a good citizen! Actually I have always wanted to be a good citizen, but this is fatuous mummery. Because once I am in the RED CIRCLE which PROTECTS and makes us SAFE the clerk comes over, and stands about one foot away, while she beeps my barcode. (I got the app to work.)
BEEPING CAN ONLY BE PERFORMEd IF THE CONSUMER UNIT IS PLACED SAFELY IN THE RED CIRCLE.
As for why I was buying a TV stand . . . that’s for tomorrow.
Something new for Mondays: a never-ending contest with no prizes! Not for you, anyway. I have to preface this feature with a warning: I don't know the answers. I mean, I don't have the official answers. I can guess. It can't be that hard.
This one's really, really hard.
This’ll be great! Probably red-hot chorines and maybe s-e-x!
Oh maybe not. Starts out thus.
Huh? It's called Bad Girl and it starts with a wedding? Everyone knows it'll end with a wedding, but c'mon it has to start in a swimming pool or dressing room or something.
But soon we realize . . .
Turns out she’s modeling bridal gowns at a show. She gets lots of lines from the buyers, and shall we say she claps back, however nicely.
She’s spunky! We like her. But we’re not here to recap. It’s not saucy at all; it’s a bit of a weeper, like Penny Serenade - poor kids in love, trying to make it in a hard world.
First of all, who is she?
She made her film debut in 1927 in The Red Mill, directed by Roscoe Arbuckle. After several minor roles as an extra, in 1927-1928 she found work with Mack Sennett as one of his "flaming youth" comedians in several comedy short subjects, along with Carole Lombard, who had been a school friend. In 1928, she was voted as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars, a yearly list of young actresses selected by publicity people in the film business, with selection based on the actresses' having "shown the most promise during the past 12 months.”
Eilers was a popular figure in early-1930s Hollywood, known for her high spirits and vivacity. Her films were mostly comedies and crime melodramas such as Quick Millions (1931) with Spencer Tracy and George Raft. By the end of the decade, her popularity had waned, and her subsequent film appearances were few. She made her final film appearance in Stage to Tucson (1950).
Second, we get some inadvertent documentary right off the bat, and it’s spectacular.
It’s Coney Island.
From the Portfolios section of Urban Studies, a look down the chute:
And heeeeere we go.
Anything else of note? A store window . . .
The Hollywood version of a downscale kitchen.
I snap things like that because ads and movie sets are the record we have, aside from family photos and perhaps something buried in Library of Congress. The daily details, known to all and familiar and ordinary, pass from the collective memory, replaced by something else that starts in our childhood.
That’s inevitable, but still regrettable.
That will suffice! Now, as ever, the Matchbooks.