Here it comes, it seems: the Remaskening! I got a peevish letter a few weeks ago after I had criticized the Delta in-flight safety video, because they were masked. It was setting a good example. It was showing solidarity.

No, it was an actor did not have to hide their face. If we have to make all fictional representations conform to the new norms, then get those computers fired up and use the software to remove Bogie’s cigarette and slap a mask on his puss. Surely we have the technology to put a mask on everyone in The Ten Commandments, for example, lest some people feel anxiety over seeing a super-spreader event like the race through the Dead Sea.

It will be interesting to see if the State Fair has a mask mandate, with the exception made for “eating.” The entirety of the State Fair experience consists of eating, or just finishing eating, or being about to eat, so you’ll have the people who want to flout the mandate walking around with an enormous turkey leg to confer immunity. From the mandate, that is. Not the COVID.

Just remember: everything that is going amiss is due to people you don’t like. Right? No. But . . . everyone I like is guided by reason, right? Not necessarily. Or entirely.

I do know that if there’s another two-week-to-slow-the-curve lockdown where we can’t go anywhere except the store (totally safe) and people take to wearing masks on the street again, we may have to go back to baking bread. The other night my wife found a plastic envelope with 20 packets of yeast, which I had gradually assembled after the great Yeast Panic of ’20. I would not buy yeast when it was in short supply, because that would be wrong. But after it reappeared I bought a packet every week, if there was lots.

Was that wrong? Irrational, perhaps, but it took a few months before I stopped checking the supply of flour and pasta on the shelves.

I went to the Apple Store today to see if there was money on my gift card. There was enough for two AirTags, those little things that help you find what you’ve lost. I want to put one in my luggage for some future trip, so I can spare myself the anxiety of watching every bag but mine come tumbling down the chute.

The clerk had a mask, which is fine. But she wore surgical gloves. At the Gap they wouldn’t let me into a changing room until they had sprayed the surfaces.

The paper today:


You get the sense that nothing has changed, at all. Or rather that we should believe nothing has changed, and it is foolhardy to think it really has.

So, should I put this here, or elsewhere?




Thank you for your kind support. I was just going thorugh some stuff i bought the other day, and I think I'll give you a preview on Thursday to show you how the sesterces are spent.










I do watch new shows, promise. Watched “Mare of Easttown,” which was gritty and depressed and honest and unflinching and all those adjectives used for shows set in economically-challenged places where a weary female cop carries the burden of the world on her shoulders and is also trying to stop smoking while dealing with teen children. I thought it was a successful piece of television and have no need for season two.

But. The other day I started rereading that Cicero bio, which got me back in the Rome Groove, and once I slip into that familiar warm bath I want more. It was I, Claudius that hooked me decades ago, and also set in stone some ideas that would last until - well, until I knew better. That Claudius secretly wished for the Republic to return. Any evidence of that? And what was the nature of the Republic for which he pined? Then there was jolly old Augustus, almost a simple fellow. Marvelous performance, but I don’t think its measure of the man was true. From what I can tell, people who know Roman history still love the show, because it’s ten-stars all around.

Movies? Gladiator is wonderful, but I saw that a few months ago. Reminded me that every Rome-set movie that followed to capitalize on its success was mostly kak. Could they screw up a Pompeii movie? They could. The TV shows are likewise dull, with the same rote ignorant anachronistic retrofitting. It’s something you feel and intuit: this has been dumbed down and adjusted for modern mores, and presumes that the audience knows exactly bubkis, except people wore togas and everyone had orgies and there were silent slaves standing in the shadows, and everyone was ruthless and ambitious, and they would recline on couches and talk about Gaul.

I watched one episode of Domina, which I gather is the story of Livia, Octavian’s wife. She was a badass! Made her way in a cruel world! Soap opera.

There’s only one TV program, really. Rome. Decided to read some reviews from the time when it aired; Slate found it boring. I suspect the reviewer had seen too many Roman shows and movies as described above, had no idea who the secondary characters were, and why this particular time was so critical. It was just another session of men in togas jostling for prestige. So talky! Also, so much sex!

Okay. It’s also the most immersive and convincing portrayal of every aspect of Roman life that’s been set before a camera. It just is. You see things you never thought about before and they seem instantly correct. You see things you read about - the streets, the walled houses - and ding! Yes, of course, it looked like this.


Highest praise: the actors have defined the characters, and I can see no others.

This is Caesar.

He's just extraordinary. Everything underplayed. Note the background: the public areas of the show are vivid, familiar, surprising, and inhabited. Again, you're convinced: This was what it was like

Cato, the odorous defender of the Constitution:

Of course this is Pompeii after the wars are over and he’s come home to settle into a life of influence and adoration, and it hasn't turned out as he expected:

There is no better Mark Antony:

So yes, I do watch new TV shows. But until there’s updates on Picard and Perry Mason and the last Trek show on which I’ve placed my hopes, Strange New Worlds, I’m going to return to Rome.

UPDATE: No, I can’t do this. I subscribed to Acorn, which has British TV shows. I am going to find something there I like. Something new.

UPDATE: Oooooh, I Claudius, remastered



It's 1936. I think. I do know that this movie was never made.

Imagine that: a cigarette for people who smoke.

He was a Carson-era punchline when I was a kid, for some reason.You could get laughs by ragging on George Jessel. I’ve no idea why. I seem to recall he was always available as an MC; was that it? Bad jokes? A way of talking that seemed to be working around an excess of spittle?

Okay, googling . . . ah.

George Albert "Georgie" Jessel (April 3, 1898 – May 23, 1981) was an American, actor, singer, songwriter, film producer, and illustrated song "model." He was famous in his lifetime as a multitalented comedic entertainer, achieving a level of recognition that transcended his limited roles in movies. He was widely known by his nickname, the "Toastmaster General of the United States," for his frequent role as the master of ceremonies at political and entertainment gatherings. Jessel originated the title role in the stage production of The Jazz Singer.

If he'd had the movie role, pop culture would be a bit different.

We’re really in a golden age of newspaper advertising.

There’s no reason for that line to be curved, except that a lot of ads did this, because other ads did it. A sign of modernity.

Frankly, it looks as if they bought a speakeasy, and are trying to convince the doorman they’re the new owners.

They built ‘em close together, didn’t they?


The mystery has gone out of foreign reception! The names of distant cities are right on the dial.

The Eastern store, of course, is one of the most beautiful buildings in LA.

The name remains, but Eastern itself is long gone.

Over several decades, the city's airwaves chimed the jingle "Eastern Columbia, Broadway at Ninth" to advise Los Angeles shoppers of new arrivals and special offers at Downtown's flagship department store.[49] The jingle was written by Julian M. Sieroty, son of the founder of the Eastern Columbia department store chain, Adolph Sieroty. The lilting ditty proved so popular that it was parodied regularly on television

The building was featured prominently on the September 29, 1946 radio broadcast of The Jack Benny Program. During the show, various cast members were asked where they had gotten specific items. Each answer was: "Eastern Columbia, Broadway at Ninth". The line was reprised the following week, October 6, 1946, but in an absurdist way: Jack asked Dennis Day where his mother ever got his father, to which Dennis replied "Eastern Columbia, Broadway at Ninth". Jack responded with "Gee, they have everything!”

Sounds glamorous, in a wake-up-feeling-oily kinda way:

Not cheap.




You who play sports and you who don’t - you all deserve a treat! People who do not fall into either category, however, do not.

Sweepstakes update! We’ve bought a lot of paper!

Hmmm . . . Stronheim? Lang?


History is being made! Right here. Six-point-three cubic feet!

It’s about three times that today, at least.

Good-looking year, wasn’t it?

That'll do; our weekly visit with Mr. Williams awaits.