Mean spring storm tonight. Thunder that feels as if it’s been building for months. Big full throaty rumbles with terrible authority. It’s supposed to end in thick snow, which is not unusual for April. Everyone forgets. Everyone thinks it’s tulip time and happy bunnies; can’t count the number of Easters where I lost feeling in my fingers on an outdoor egg hunt. I remember leaving Fargo once on Easter after Holiday Inn buffet (ham, if you can believe that) and the snow was whipping hard, broken glass and rapier wind.

I am keeping warm with a bourbon I regret buying. It’s “First Call,” and it was on sale at Infinite Intoxicants. I did some research right there in the aisle, reading the reviews: apparently a group of investors said “let’s make a whiskey.”

IJW Whiskey Company is a privately owned whiskey company (whose ownership is not disclosed) based in Kentucky. The business doesn’t have a distillery and doesn’t seem to have a plan to build one — instead, they started sourcing whiskey from other distilleries and laid down the first barrels of spirits for aging in their Danville, Kentucky based warehouse in 2016.

And that’s fine, I guess; you can get good stuff from these companies. But this one has a smoky note I don’t like, and I am now resigned to moving it to the back of the shelf, waiting for a moment when someone asks for an Old-Fashioned and I can cloak its flaws with syrup.

That sums up the day, I think. A damp nullity with a note of smoke. Nothing I wrote captured my interest, so it’s unlikely to do the same for you. I mean, I wrote 975 words about K-Mart being down to three stores before I realized oh right, K-Mart. I don’t know if there’s an episode of post-war retail less interesting.

Like the death of Sears, K-Mart's demise is entirely self-inflicted. Target shows you can still make a go of the big-box variety store. K-Mart declined to compete, and was hampered by wretched management. Most people are surprised to learn they have even three stores. Most people can’t remember the moment they stopped considering K-Mart as a shopping option. It just faded away, and left almost nothing in the way of interesting ads or lore or store-culture history, except for the Blue Light Special.

Why doesn’t it have the same pull as a Woolworth’s or Kresge’s or Grant’s, or any other old chain? Because it began in the suburbs, I think. The other stores were mainstreet fixtures, embedded in older buildings, and this gave them a sense of continuity and belonging. The early big-box stores in the outlying areas were disassociated from the retail core.

You can't tell me they didn't know it: this ad tries to tie the store to Main Street, as if it's a natural extension.

Still, I'm grateful these exist.

The era of massed voices singing corporate exhortations and praises has ended entirely, hasn't it.

Anyway, I have nothing today, but I promise a cracking installment tomorrow.




It’s 1952.

This is a bit misleading - he won’t tour the country as a candidate for the nomination, not the presidency.

"Taft asked if Ike could kindly state where he stood on the issues, it would be helpful."


Perhaps it’s just me, but these are not the most clearly written stories. Reading this is like trying to inhale warm soup.

  Nice to see Frank Lovejoy get some big-screen work. He was allll over radio in those days. The movie wasn’t about his character - Danny Kaye played Gus Kahn, who wrote the lyrics for Donaldson’s music.

Well, his official family-sanctioned website now says:

Well known and well loved as a festive and generous man of boundless enthusiasms, with a particular fondness for the racetrack, Donaldson was also acknowledged to be a highly disciplined writer who never stopped writing wherever he happened to be, whether working at home, vacationing with his family or friends, at restaurants, nightclubs, billiard parlors, in taxis, on trains, or at the track.

Make of it what you will.


Iran’s government had passed a bill to nationalize of the oil industry in 1951. Mossadegh was unhappy that one was buying their oil now.

  Given his expertise, I guess we can rule out weather balloons.

There was more to the story. In fact, here’s the Strib’s front page.

The people involved were corporate execs, and the guy quoted said he saw the UFOs while he was piloting a plane.



Fair to say they couldn’t do that today.

Well, they wouldn’t.


April promise: Soon you’ll be on the beach! Trust us, the colors are pretty, too. 

Larger version here.


Max Bygraves, of course.

Walter William Bygraves OBE (16 October 1922 – 31 August 2012), best known by the stage name Max Bygraves (adopted in honour of Max Miller), was an English comedian, singer, actor and variety performer. He appeared on his own television shows, sometimes performing comedy sketches between songs. He made twenty Royal Variety Performance appearances and presented numerous programmes, between 1983 and 1985.

His catchphrase "I wanna tell you a story" became an integral part of his act, although it had originated with comedian Mike Yarwood impersonating Bygraves.

Another well-known phrase of his was "That's a good idea, son!”

From his K-Mart period:




That'll do, and apologies for the scantness. Fifities Hooch awaits.





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