The actual place you saw in the banner illustration yesterday. Canny retail historians will be able to name the store whose sign is partial visible.

It snowed. Not as much as predicted, but enough to make the entire day miserable: harsh wind, brittle sharp flakes flying fast into your face. When it died down I decided I would use the snowblower the next morning, because it was still supposed to snow . . . except I knew it probably wouldn’t, and if I didn’t do it tonight, my neighbor would.

Started up the snowblower. And by “started up” I mean I primed it and pressed the ignition and listened to it whine for a while without catching. I just had it fixed. And now, nothing. Do I have to pour some more of that magic elixir in the tank? It’s like the old days of “purgative” laxatives, which were guaranteed to work because they blew out anything in their path. The bran ads advised you not to rely on purgatives, as they left you feeling a bit fagged out, as they said.

I wonder if uploading this file in compressed and encrypted form to my Google Drive back up will get me flagged for that word. Well, I’m sure it’s for my own benefit. If I’m wrong, I should be told I am wrong, and set on the path of righteousness. Privacy is a piddling concern when it comes to mental and civic health.

But I didn’t use the word that way! I was referencing archaic slang!

(O’Brien removes his wire-rimmed spectacles and gives them a slow, careful polish, letting the cry die in the air before returning to his questions)

Anyway. I cursed and went upstairs and warmed up in my office, thinking: tomorrow, I’ll shovel tomorrow. But it nagged me: as much as I did not want to shovel now, I’d like it even less tomorrow. Besides, people would want to walk the dog in the morning. Here, I might add, is where I make my annual argument against sidewalk shoveling, because when you have the melt-freeze cycle, as we just did, the sidewalk gets icy, and the snow provides some traction. It would seem an act of public malice to expose the ice. Well, the law’s the law. I got the shovel from the backyard -


No! I rushed down. He can’t! I owe him at least two sidewalk passes as it is! Thing is, he has a tiny walk, and likes to run his snowblower. It’s his dad’s, he said, 20 years old, runs like a charm. Do you do anything between seasons? Ah, I rub some spit on the spark plug, starts right up.

He’s more than happy to help, so I do my walk while he blows the driveway. Then we talk, standing out in the dark, temperature 3 above. He’s a pilot, so I ask where he’s been flying lately, and I learn some things about the approach to JFK and the vortexes coming off the buildings. He said he had a landing that was a little hard, and winced; knowing his standards, that probably mean he set down a 757 like a sparrow alighting on a branch instead of a hummingbird.

Doesn’t matter, because even if you slam that thing down like a hammer on an anvil, the moment it stops, everyone’s thinking about getting out, mad they’re not out yet, annoyed the person ahead doesn’t have their bag down, mildly annoyed by the new airport if they haven’t been there before because it is not instantaneously apparent where they should go, and then annoyed because the bags aren’t out yet, then concerned when the bag doesn’t show up, then annoyed when it does because you had to be concerned there for a while.

No one’s thinking about the landing.

I had something else planned for today, but . . . I think not.  I mean, really, what can I add right now, except "confiscate every single Russian oligarch's assets in the West, and give the Billionaire's Row NYC condos to the staff of the embassies of the nations formerly in the Russian grasp.

For starters. Maybe pile up the cash and burn it, Joker-style.






It’s 1923.

Over 20 stories on the front page. Clean, dull, but there’s a lot there.


That second paragraph takes a lot of words to say what the headline says.


He was still missing in March. The paper had a clue - I'm sorry, a klew a few days later, but nothing panned out. And that was it. The story left the paper.

Nine years later:


A man named Clarence King, now a farmer, turns up in this story almost a decade later, and the ages check out.

I'd love to known Clarence's full story.


  I guess it never occurred to the obit writer to tell us what the cablegram said.

The Great Eastern laid it, but I can't find anything about the text. MAY GOD PRESERVE US or WHAT WONDERS HAS GOD WROUGHT. HAVE? HAS? HAVE GOD SOUNDS WRONG PLS ADVISE

Oh sure, those will be the guys who pay.

Quite the capitalist, that Stinnes fellow.

When World War I broke out, Stinnes secured an enormous share in the war profits which enlarged the fortunes of the great industrialists.

He was richly compensated when he was called in by Erich Ludendorff as the most competent expert to give advice, to organize the coal and the industrial production of occupied Belgium and to help to set in motion the gigantic production of war material which the German general headquarters demanded.

During the war, Stinnes extended his activities in Hamburg, and in 1916 he bought up the Woermann and the East African steamship lines. In these new undertakings, he became associated with the two greatest German shipping companies, the Hamburg-American Line and the North German Lloyd.

His Hamburg interests continued to multiply in something like geometrical progression. He purchased half a dozen landed estates in Saxony to supply timber for pit props. At Flensburg in Schleswig, he secured control of the largest Baltic shipping concern, and proceeded to build a new fleet of ships, christening one of them the “Hindenburg.”

And so on. Legacy:

In June 1920, after the German Revolution, Stinnes was elected to the Reichstag. He acted as spokesman for German industry towards trade unions and laid the foundation of today's system of cooperation between the unions and employers in Germany. The introduction of the eight-hour day is a prime example.

Stinnes died in Berlin as a result of a gall bladder operation. Although his financial empire held some 4500 companies and 3000 manufacturing plants, it collapsed within a year of his death.

I'd like to know a bit more about that, no?

Parts of his empire continued as Stinnes AG, Hugo Stinnes Schiffahrt and RWE, the second-largest energy supplier in Germany.

Which brings us right up to our present unpleasantness.


Wilton Lackaye (September 30, 1862 – August 22, 1932) was an American stage and film actor, who originated the role of Svengali (from the 1895 novel Trilby) in both stage and film.

The “Circle” may be a reference to a movie theater in Cleveland. I can’t find a movie with that name in his bio.

Bud Fisher? If so, why would he be doing this, when he was cleaning up on Mutt & Jeff?

Rather stupid flip-take, but they all were.


One of the many, many “humorous” newspaper columns. Can’t find much on Moss, aside from a few quotes.

He registered the trademark, though. Was the industry so dodgy people would swipe that right out from under him?



The editorial page is proud to offer this press release, unedited, by your government! In other news, the Department of Agriculture is in charge of roads and also, well, war.


And that’s what happened. Eventually.  But were they planning for invasion, or moving supplies around? Both, they'd probably say.




That'll do! Enjoy your midweek moments. Hooch ads await, with some Canadian examples.




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