Yeah, yeah, new Star Trek. I’ll get around to it later, after I’ve finished the second ep. So far: eh. Don’t jump the gun in the comments. I’ve a larger point to make.

Oh good, a larger point! He’s going to go long and deep! Sorry. It’s my blog and I’ll screed if I want to.

Cold day, true Fall; still green everywhere, but suddenly clammy and wet and very much like August was. I’m serious: wore a coat to work, and found a parking meter receipt for August. But a good day! Productive, even-keeled, with lots of necessary work done in the evening. The 2018 Bleat redesign is about 70% done.

This stuff takes time, you know. No one asks for it, but I feel compelled to make every year a bit different. Anyway: something I wrote while the Travel Bleat was going on, below.


I went to the State Fair the other day. There wasn’t any. Wrote a column about it - the usual constraints and form of the Sunday column kept me from saying anything beyond the tightest hardy-hat stuff, but it really was somewhat dispiriting - and also heartening.

First of all, everyone thought it was really peculiar that I went to the Fairgrounds when there wasn’t a Fair going on. But I’d missed it. I mean, I wasn’t there when it happened this year, and I sort of kind of missed it. Good to take a break from the annual effort, even though this year I’d sworn I would not go back again and again. It just made me feel old last year to walk through the gates and think a year has passed. Better than the alternative - not that you’d know - but still, on and on boats, current, ceaselessly, etc.

I walked right through the gates, nodding and smiling at some people who were taking down hanging corpses of floral arrangements.

Seemed as if it had been abandoned after a plague order, though. Everything was boarded up, but the flowers were still hanging from baskets - withered and dead - and flags still fluttered from all the poles. You could hear voices behind some of the shuttered doors.

Some images.


No one turned off the powerful magnet up on Machinery Hill, I guess.

Bob's in no hurry to take down his signage:




Real Live Zookeepers! And Goldie Gopher just because.


These windows are open only 2 weeks a year, so in a sense this is their natural state:



What surprised me was how everything looked fresh. As if they could turn around and open it all again tomorrow.



See what I mean? It's the same as it would be during the Fair, except there's no one here. And it doesn't seem as if there should be anyone here.



A new piece of chain-saw art: I don't think I saw this last year.



Remember, someone did this with a chain saw. So be nice.


We've shored this up; it'll last another few years. Apparently the original was built with non-exterior-grade plywood, so it needed some love. Mostly wood and nails but also some love.


The side door was open, so I walked up and stuck my head inside and said "you have any lip balm?" Because that's what we give away: Fair-Flavored Lip Balm.

There were two guys inside, and one said "sure" and rummaged around in a drawer and came up with several flavors. I asked for Stick, which was this year's flavor; he had it.

So I didn't miss the Fair after all.




And now: obscure shows that didn't last. There were so many.




Ever heard of this? I hadn't. But there are so many shows few remember. Wikipedia:

Guestward, Ho! is an American sitcom which aired on the ABC network in the 1960-1961 television season. It was based on the 1956 comic memoir of the same title by New Mexico dude ranch operator Barbara "Babs" Hooton, written in cooperation with Auntie Mame author Patrick Dennis. The series altered the characters' family name from "Hooton" to “Hooten."

That’ll keep legal happy. Vivian Vance was supposed to be the star, but the network execs thought she was too closely identified with Lucy.

The premise is a New York City family, the Hootens, tired of the urban lifestyle, relocate to operate a dude ranch in New Mexico. They bought the place unseen, and found it to need considerably more work than they had been led to believe. The Hootens befriend the American Indian "Hawkeye" whose "trading post" was the only source of supplies in the vicinity. Hawkeye, played by J. Carrol Naish,

You know: the Japanese villain in the Batman serial. Here he was . . .

was a rather cynical Indian, who sold Indian-looking trinkets which had been mass-produced in Asia, and frequently read The Wall Street Journal, seemingly in search of a way to purchase the country and return it to its "rightful owners”.

One season, and done.






It's 1972, and I'm so sorry. But it's 1972.

Are you ready to capture the entirety of your summer experiences? Beaches, vacations, parties, the baseball game with the fellas, the cookout with the neighbors?

You’re going to take, like, thirty-six pictures. So you’d better stock up.



That’s almost $12 today.

Once again, the nostalgia angle: the old car, summoning up an era people were revisiting for no particular reason, unsure of what they were reanimating.

Takes a while before you see the face, and I'm not sure that's a good thing.


At its peak around 1980 there were over 4,000 Fotomats throughout the United States, primarily in suburban areas. Fotomats were distinctive for their pyramid-shaped gold-colored roofs and signs with red lettering, usually positioned in a large parking area such as a supermarket or strip mall, as the Fotomat huts required a minimal amount of land and were able to accommodate cars driving up to drop off or pick up film.

Did you know this?

In addition to photo developing, Fotomat was one of the first companies to offer movies for rent on videocassette—a new concept then—starting in December 1979. Customers would browse through a small catalog, call a number and order the movie or movies of their choice. The following day, the customer would pick up the cassette at the Fotomat kiosk of their choice. The rental cost was $12 per title (the equivalent of $39.36 in 2016) and the customer could keep it for five days.

Forty dollars. Today for ten dollars less you get a 4K disk to keep, and you play it on a TV wider than the Fotomat booth.

They had a logo.


Everyone knew they ran out when you needed them and had no real strength after a few minutes:



Try to explain the strange cheap brick wall. Go ahead. Defend that.

The company goes back a ways:

Henry Disston was born in Tewkesbury, England in 1819. As a child, he planned to move to Albany, New York with his family in 1833. Just days after their ship arrived in Philadelphia, Disston's father died, and Disston took a job there as a saw-maker's apprentice. By 1840, he had started his own saw-making business.

His saws bore the motto “For Mechanics, Not Botchers” - a rather stern way of separating the wheat from the chaff. Botchers not welcome. I got that information from a website devoted, of course, to extensive cataloguing of every Disston saw ever made.

The brand name, owned by someone else, still exists.


Fun Size: they’ve been around longer than you think. And now they’re frosty-firm



I always chuck a few in the freezer around Halloween, because they’re great when they’re rock hard! Right? Right? Actually, no; it’s like eating brittle granite, but for some reason I do it every year.

Frozen Peanut-butter cups, that’s different.


Bulova: it was the name we held in higher regard than Timex. You got a Timex for Christmas, but your mom got a Bulova for her birthday.




Bulova became a renowned watch company in 1923. Bulova produced the first advertisement broadcast on radio in 1926, announcing the first beep of history: ‘At the tone, it’s eight o’clock, Bulova Watch Time’, an announcement heard by millions of Americans.

And then:

Bulova produced the world's first television advertisement, on July 1, 1941 (the first day that commercial advertising was permitted on television), before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies over New York station WNBT (now WNBC). The announcement, for which the company paid anywhere from $4.00 to $9.00 (reports vary), displayed a WNBT test pattern modified to look like a clock with the hands showing the time. The Bulova logo, with the phrase "Bulova Watch Time", was shown in the lower right-hand quadrant of the test pattern while the second hand swept around the dial for one minute.

A youtube search pulls up this . . .


But it's not it, and I don't think that's the original voice.

You’ve no idea how revolutionary this was:



Things were getting so thin, they were like Bond gadgets! I had to have one. We all had to have one. You got one on Christmas, and you were excited - you put in the film, and then . . . you just took a picture, like you always had, but it was thinner than before! And then you didn’t take another because that cost money.


This guy. Who was this guy.


His style was unique and oh-so-70s in a way I can’t quite describe - perhaps because he was so popular for a while in the 70s you thought he captured something of the era, but it was really the other way around. You think it looks 70s because he did so much . . . or did enough to be noticed, because the style was so distinctive.

So smooth.



For those smokers who want menthol, but don’t like carrying a green pack:



That'll do; see you around! Thanks for stopping by.


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