There are three new dogs next door. The damage to the plants by the fence is incalculable. Well, no; I suppose I could price them at the store and get an estimate, but that doesn’t include the time my wife spent putting them in, feeding them, watering them, and so on. It’s a bit much to ask the dog to respect these things. Any dog. You could put 56 Faberge eggs in between a dog and a squirrel and the damage to art and history would be in the millions. Makes you wonder what the record is for heedless canine-related destruction - usually they’re not in a position to do something really catastrophic, like devalue a currency or default on a debt. Too bad; if a cute dog had ruined Greece, everyone would be mad, but would also feel “awww, look, he thinks he’s people, particularly the type that puts their hopes and dreams into unwise monetary transnational schemes whose underlying idea was, all along, the diminution of national identity, but has only ended up reinforcing it. So cute!”

Sitting around waiting for Daughter to turn on her phone and read a cascade of texts whose tone is “escalating irksomeness.” Ran off to a friend’s place, has a vague notion she will walk back in the dark. A bit late for that. Phone might be out of power, and of course that means no other form of communication is possible, which makes you wish you’d sent them off with a flare gun. But that wouldn’t work. Why didn’t you shoot up a flare? It got wet. How? I don’t know, it just did. This would be the conversation if you lived in a desert.

I know where she is, so it’s not a big problem, but I have this thing about not being able to work well if I know I have to go do something. You know? You have to settle in and get into the groove.

BACK Of course her phone was charging, and as you all know, when a phone is being charged you cannot look at it, or it bursts into flames.

Where you stand on the matter of Things Today can be easily gleaned from your reaction to this:

Throughout history, civilisations have compensated for this loss by stowing their shared memories in communal institutions. But today, for perhaps the first time in history, large chunks of our culture appear indifferent, even hostile, to their own past.

You can say “Yes, I see that.” Or “No, I don’t.” Or “Yes, and that’s good.” The middle position is indifference and ignorance. And so:

The great oaks of Western art were burned to the ground. Today, radical artists are left scouring through the embers, still looking for last traces of life. Their primary target is now the taboo — the unspoken memory of a once-communal system of values. Tracey Emin shows us her unmade bed, strewn with used condoms and bloodied underwear. Damien Hirst suggests that the 9/11 hijackers “need congratulating”. Every last inherited standard — every last comfort — must be torn from us once and for all.

You might think “oh, so it’s going to be one of those. Quotes out of context for sensationalist effect, that’s your first clue: handwringing and over-exaggeration. It’s not that bad.


"The thing about 9/11 is that it's kind of like an artwork in its own right. It was wicked, but it was devised in this way for this kind of impact. It was devised visually... You've got to hand it to them on some level because they've achieved something which nobody would have ever have thought possible, especially to a country as big as America. So on one level they kind of need congratulating, which a lot of people shy away from, which is a very dangerous thing.

It is a dangerous thing to suppress people’s desire to applaud the conceptual audacity of a terrorist attack. Well, Hirst is a modern artist of the first water, so you’d expect that. (The second water is tears. The first is urine.) We continue:

But by trying so hard to wipe its own memory, art comes perilously close to losing its sense of self altogether. Once the shocks no longer shock, what does it stand for? A few generations after the narcotic highs of modernism, the art world has left itself largely brain-dead. <snip> Wherever one looked, the West seemed to be in the midst of a curious experiment: can a civilisation survive on nothing but the impulse to debunk its own presuppositions?

He speaks in the past tense because the movement to debunk has been underway for a hundred years. Anyway, I read to the end hoping for something more than stating the obvious depressing truth, but it’s mostly a summation of where we are, how we got there, and a call to do something about it. But what is to be done, as one highly motivated individual put it a century past? When you’re up against this, as a commentor points out, what is to be done?

Camille Paglia`s `How Capitalism Can Save Art` made similar points years ago. At the Venice Biennale (representing Britain) are Sarah Lucas`s expensive plastercasts of arses and vaginas with real cigarettes sticking out of them.

Yes indeed. And you’re a philistine if you find yourself tempted to mock the whole lot as ugly, pretentious, empty dreck santified by a gloss of identity politics. What do you want, this? Some old dude in a robe? Really, more of that? Isn’t there enough? Which is like saying “I’ve seen the list of upcoming movies, and it’s mostly pictures of humans doing things with orchestra accompaniments. As we don’t have enough of those.” Yes, bring on the movies that take their cues from High Fine Art, and make them seven minutes of black, punctuated by the sounds of motorized can openers auto-tuned to form a 12-tone row, interspersed with pictures of bloody meat and broken glass.

Or you can make movies like Pixar and others make, which have invented a new genre of art, and increased its sophistication at a rate comparable to regular old movies. They went from stagy one-camera setups shot outside in natural light against painted backdrops to epics with cameras mounted on flying machines in just a few decades. Computer-generated art has likewise left the old High Fine Art in the dust, leaving it to fart and squat and cut up sharks in order to shock the jaundiced, who themselves refuse to be shocked, lest someone think they maintain that capacity.

The Biennale site has a timeline of British contributions, and you can see everything fall apart. And it happens rather quickly. I understand why the artists rebelled against the Academy, but once you tear it down and the thrill of swinging the hammer is gone, there’s nothing but finding new ways to rearrange the rubble.

Mind you, I love a lot of modern art. But that sort of thing is never content to coexist. It has to replace, and then pretend it is the equal in every way to what it destroyed. Every revolution is born of resentment and insecurity.


Summer Toyland, you see, distinguishes it from Regular Girl and Boyland, which is a Christmas thing. Rather clever pairing.

Pools? They had pools. Here's Ideal's pool, combining three words that practically guarantee fun: Rigid, Frame, and Nylon.


Rot-pruf! Odd to see SARAN in this context; nowadays it's just . . . the word before WRAP. It was discovered by . . . sarandipitous means. (Sorry.)

Polyvinylidene chloride (PVdC) was discovered at Dow Chemical Company in 1933 when a lab worker, Ralph Wiley, was having trouble washing beakers used in his process of developing a dry-cleaning product. It was initially developed into a spray that was used on US fighter planes and, later, automobile upholstery, to protect them from the elements. Dow Chemical later named the product Saran, and eliminated its green hue and offensive odor.

Wonder how much of a cut Ralph got. This site says "Ralph Wiley continued his career at Dow Chemical. He went on to become a scientist in the company and receive many patents for the plastic and other chemicals he developed." Google Image search is useless, but eventually I found the fellow in an AP profile. Question answered: "It hasn't made him rich. Dow holds the legal rights to the product." But it says he gets a "little flash of pride" when he sees it in the store.

Well, that an a quarter, as they said. When coffee was a quarter.



Well, it's been a long, long haul, I know, but here we are!


What's that? You missed 1-14? No, you didn't. I'm sparing you this:

Poor quality. I'm just not going to sit through 15 weeks of stuff that looks like the film was stored in a solution of lye and Vaseline. Besides, here's a shot from the last episode:

Yes, MEN IN SUITS WITH HATS IN THE ROCKY COUNTRY. For heaven's sake. That's every single serial. If it's set underwater they're going to find a way to shoot out in the hills. Is there science and a gal? There is science and a gal.


A young sidekick, too. But what's that about a flying disk?


There's an overload! They have to wait. Well, while they're waiting, let's check wikipedia.

Dr Benson , a friend of charter pilot Bruce Gentry , is kidnapped by the mysterious enemy agent, "The Recorder" who only issues orders through recordings. Benson is used to perfect the villain's flying saucers, launched and controlled by electronic means. Industrialist Paul Radcliffe hires Bruce to investigate the saucers as he thinks they may have a commercial use.

Necessary for the production of the flying saucers is a mineral called Platonite. The Recorder's only source, an abandoned mine on the land belonging to Jaunita and Frank Farrell , has run dry and he needs to steal supplies from the US Government.

Standard stuff. But there's this:

At the end of chapter 14, Gentry drives over a cliff on a motorbike. In the resolution at the beginning of chapter 15, Gentry is replaced by an animated sequence which shows him escaping death by use of a parachute hidden under his jacket.

This is wrong. It's the end of Chapter 13 and the start of 14. Behold the thrilling escape on the dinkiest bike ever:

Oops! Over the cliff. The next week:

You can see why I wasn't all that keen on this one.


As for the flying saucer, Wikipedia says it's the first cinematic appearance of such a thing. This being 1949, that could be right. Alas:

Wikipedia: "The flying disc is described by Harmon and Glut as 'an embarrassingly bad animated cartoon drawn over the action scenes.'"

These are the action scenes.

Rejoice! Nal is saved!

The Canal, that is. The Panama one.

That'll do, pig. See you around.



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