I was picking up a TV stand at Target. Why? Was my TV leaning up against the wall? No. The TV I got for the family for Christmas did not fit on the table in the corner. The clerk at Best Buy had said that the TV’s feet - a term I really don’t like to use - were adjustable. They were not. He also told me that the Sony would have a native app for AT&T Now - indeed, the very reason I was changing TVs was because the Samsung was not able to load the AT&T app. Why? Because it was an older TV, and hence the proper fees had not been paid.

As it happened, this was the first part of our conversation at the store, but as I have learned, no one hears the first thing you say. You might as well begin by making random gibberish sounds, because they’re going to say What?” anyway.

So. Informed that the table did not work, the Best Buy guy offered another TV, which was not as good, or two hundred dollars off, which would help pay for a bigger table. I took the two hundred.

Next step: investigate the table situation. It was bleak. But I found one unit at the HOM store, so I went to measure. My objective: get the precise lengths of every side, photograph it from above, then recreate it on the floor with painter’s blue masking tape.

This I did. It didn’t fit.

IT DIDN’T FIT. That was my last hope!

And then I thought:

Wait a minute. I know there are after-market stands that let you attach a TV to the wall.

Might there be third-party vendors that sell a stand you can attach to a TV?

Search results: 147,090,493

Or something like that. Duh. So I ordered one. What gripes me is this: the guy at Best Buy, whose job consists entirely of selling television sets, did not think to suggest such a stand.


These are the times in which each of us has to take a stand at some point.


No, I want’t leading up to that. Be sad if I was.










There’s something so self-flattering about enjoying an astronomy documentary. I am the sort of person who is interested in these things, and awed by distant majesties and mysteries that lesser minds cannot be bothered to entertain. I am the sort of person who feels a kinship with these bright eager scientists nerding out about finding geological anomalies! Why, I’d love to have a drink with them all and discuss hexagonal polar rotation conundrums.

At the same time you also think: whoo boy all this doesn’t matter a hill of beans,and I’m like one atom of bean, and that’s generous, and maybe my fascination here is a cold comfort, and sign of disengagement with the day, a pulling away from the irritations and confusions and the never-ending tumble into the alienating chaos of a society from which you feel increasingly alienated.

But no, countermand that, this is an age of exploration again, and it is a sign of engagement to pay attention, to brush away the clamor and chatter of the day and focus on the things that will truly endure. Yes, that’s it! Back to self-flattery again.

I watched a PBS / Nova show about the planets called “The Planets,” and I swear I’ve seen a few versions of this before. No matter. Now we know more. Our spacecraft have seen things, and our computers can conjure up recreations, and we even have a new Spock (Zack Quinto) to narrate. It was marvelous. Every time you got to a new planet you’d think this is the most awesome of them all it’s so cool and what happened and hey now we have theories oh I love this planet, and then you’d leave and go to the next and fall in love all over again.

One of the most seductive elements was the soundtrack, which had a throwback sound: it had the grand, epic, sweeping grandeur of a good 90s movie’s credit sequence. The music that says everything that is contained within this story has resolved, and there’s peace and understanding and vision and the promise of something new tomorrow. Everything is okay. Everything is good.

It’s different from Holst’s “Planets,” which ends with a haunting dissolve, wordless voices singing us into the void. It’s such a brilliant and abstract work for 1914 I still listen agog. Are we carried by the voices into another realm? Do the voices diminish because we cannot follow? Is the diminution of the voices really the moment when we look back at our own sun, and cannot see it anymore - and if that’s the case, are these celestial sounds really the spirit of Earth, waving farewell?

Three final points.

One: the last ep concerns Pluto, with the usual yeah, yeah, whatever about its demotion. The talking heads - who are all delightful - wave away the nomenclature, because whatever you want to call it, Pluto matters, and gets to give a big FU to its critics when they learn what it’s really like, and why it's special

Two: people note that we achieved flight in 1903 and landed on the moon 65 years later. True. Impressive. But a decade later we started launching machines that would scoot past all the planets and eventually leave the solar system.

So what do we do when we develop fast engines? Define that however you like. Do we head out and pick up the Pioneers and V’gers and bring them home to a museum, or let them wander?

Three: Whoever crews the first deep-space missions with the new fast rockets, I hope the mission designers look at every space movie made in the last 20 years, take notes, then do the exact opposite. No backstories! No tragic loss of children! No weird hobbies that coincide with the time the boomers were in college and having sex! No angry young brilliant scientists who are slightly unstable but we’re sure he’ll be fine because he’s brilliant! No exasperated brilliant young female scientist who hasn’t time for any of this because we have work to do!

And for heaven's sake, no joshing banter when you're on an EVA, because that means someone's going to die.



It’s 1921.

Big national push for a Minneapolis company.

EVENTUALLY. That word haunted all their ads. Eventually you’ll move to Gold Medal. Why not now? Why not?

As I’ve mentioned before, I live in the Cadwallader C. Washburn addition, and Daughter went to Washburn school. I’ve done a lot of time on the radio station named after his company. The Flour of Greatness can still be bought, and some of the mills still stand. But they will all pass from the earth . . . eventually.

The Irresistible Charm . . . of a pencil.

The artist:

Clarence Coles Phillips (October 3, 1880 – June 13, 1927) was an American artist and illustrator who signed his early works C. Coles Phillips, but after 1911 worked under the abbreviated name, Coles Phillips. He is known for his stylish images of women and a signature use of negative space in the paintings he created for advertisements and the covers of popular magazines.

He got TB of the kidneys, and passed young.

It’s an age of wonders and scientific marvels! Now your wife can harangue you from a distance! There’s no safe place anymore! She’ll call you at the office and let ‘er rip!

“Glad tidings are forever streaming over the telephone.” I’d have chosen a different illo for that sentiment.

Ever heard the phrase “still in short pants”? Right.

“There’s a reason.” Wait a minute. There was a reason for Postum, too. Is it the same reason here? Because the reason here is growth and regular elimination.

The Heat Machine!

The company had the usual early 20th century series of names:

The American Radiator Company was established in 1892 by the merger of a number of North American radiator manufacturers. The company expanded in the early 20th century into Europe under the brand National Radiator Company.

In 1929 it amalgamated with the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company to form the American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corporation, which evolved in 1967 into today's American Standard Companies.

I’m most grateful for their HQ in New York. At night it glowed. Like a furnace.

The interior of a New York plumbing fixture store.

The HQ was in Chicago, 836 S. Michigan. It had a showroom, too.

A small little piece of elegance:



Talk about negative space:

Lawrence Fellows, who had a long and distinctive career.

Fellows’ preference for off-balanced compositions kept him a step ahead in terms of uniqueness, and he eventually attracted his first commercial client Kelly-Springfield Tires. Although advertising was rather conservative at the time, they provided him with the opportunity to combine his sophisticated draftsmanship with his humor and wit, sometimes coming close to breaking the rules against negative competitive advertising.

I’ll say. Turns out he wasn’t the future, though - ads wouldn’t look like this. They just couldn’t bear to leave all that space blank, when you could fill it up with bushwa and ballyhoo.

That will do today, I hope.

Oh some fun tomorrow.



blog comments powered by Disqus