Cold and rainy, but I knew that would happen. My phone told me so the night before. Alert! Notification! Tomorrows temperature will be 14 degrees lower than today’s high! Okay, thanks, whatever, dismiss. ten years ago: your portable global-network interface will alert you when tomorrow’s weather is significantly different than today, what do you think about that? Us, then: a world of marvels! Today: SHUT UP

I answered a telemarketer call by mistake today. Usually the lock screen says AT&T Warning: Telemarketer, which makes you wonder: if you know, can’t you do something about it? It’s like the grocery store owner saying “hey, warning, this meat’s bad.” What? “Yeah, pretty sure the guy selling it is injecting his cows with botulism.” Can’t you . . . can’t you report him?” “I’m telling you.” But can’t you tell the authorities? “Look, I’m warning you, isn’t that enough?”

In this case, it turned out to be semi-legit, since I had a preexisting commercial relationship with the company.

Me: Hello?

Person about whom AT& T warned me: Hi, this is Henry, from Hilton Hotels.

I wanted to say “let me guess, you’ve a new hostel line, Alliterations, but I found myself saying:


He went to explain that because I am a valued member - a status reached by staying for one (1) night in a Hilton property over the last two years - I am now eligible for a resort stay and one of four exciting locations, whereupon I told him my vacation plans were booked solid for the foreseeable future and I wished him well on the rest of his shift. He sounded like a nice enough fellow. I’ve been there. I did that.
I quit in shame after two days, but I did that.

Also did a job calling people to ask survey questions, and it wasn’t to sell them anything. I learned what might be the first rule of the game: the people who want to talk are not necessarily the people the company wants to hear. They have nothing else to do. Not always true, of course; I’ve answered some phone surveys if I felt indulgent, was doing some housework, and the person sounded nice. You could be the only one who says yes.

What’s the harm in giving them a sense of accomplishment? Apart from being entered into another database of good leads that inevitably results in you disconnecting your land line and communicating only through texts, avoiding the phone entirely like everyone else, messages sent to another with furtive intensity like prisoners tapping code on the bars to evade the ears of the guards and the warden.

Normal day in another sense long unfamiliar: coming home from work and shouting BURGLAR as I came up the steps, a nod to an old Monty Python sketch, the way I always used to address to Daughter. For that matter, just hearing her down the end of the hall. We went to Panera for dinner, since wife had hockey, and I heard tales of Brazil, the sort of details that you’d never learn by asking, but come out in the course of a story. Southdale to pick up my repaired computer, then the art supply store where she got new paints and a big canvas for her next work, excited to start.

We’ve done that a dozen times, but, you know, it’s been a while.

As we were leaving Southdale I paused to show off the wall of vintage potos of the mall in its early days, point out which decorations still remained, note the women dressed up for the day out. Walking back to the car, Daughter said she could imagine the music playing in the background - you know, dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dum de dum de dee dee dee dee.

"I'm sure you know which one I'm talking about," she said. We got to the car and I pushed the button and said "Play 'Holiday for Strings,'" and it poured out from the speakers and off we went.

Day: made. Day: complete.



Remember this feature? We never met Bela Lanan himself. We never will.

This was a daily feature, with the solution on Saturday. We'll do it the way they did it then - one entry per day, with the expectation that you'll be following the story.

There was an accident.


I wonder if the record label was actually saying "Okay."



It's 1940. Even in Texas, it was the biggest news, and the worst.

The Crossroads of Existence.

Nazi hordes forge ahead as Petain named premier.

He was (wikipedia)

a French Nazi collaborator (Collaboration with the Axis Powers) and general officer who attained the position of Marshal of France at the end of World War I, during which he became known as The Lion of Verdun, and in World War II served as the Chief of State of Vichy France from 1940 to 1944. Pétain, who was 84 years old in 1940, ranks as France's oldest head of state.

After the war, Pétain was tried and convicted for treason. He was originally sentenced to death, but due to his age and World War I service his sentence was commuted to life in prison and he died in 1951.

But of course no one was looking for that day to happen soon; the future seemed set.

The war linked Paris France to Paris Texas:

Well, that, and benzedrine


Hey, the news is grim! Let’s lighten things up!

Okay, it was 1940. Slim pickings in the day-brightener department.


One of the most popular one-panel comics of the day.

He usually wore a fez around the house.

It was all about Major Hoople, but the strip was called “Our Boarding House.” Wikipedia:

"Hoople has been compared to the type created on-screen by W. C. Fields, but was probably closer to Falstaff," writes comics historian Maurice Horn. "A retired military man of dubious achievement like Shakespeare's [comic figure], he boasted of soldierly exploits that were perhaps not all invented, and his buffoonery sometimes concealed real pathos."

It ran until 1984, but its influence continues: The first recording of the term "hooplehead" appears in 1980, in Dennis Smith's Glitter and Ash ("The old man said, 'Speakin' of Maureen, you know she's been acting like a real hooplehead lately, like a kid they let out of Creedmoor [Psychiatric Center] by mistake.’").

"Hooplehead", as used by the character Al Swearengen on the HBO Old West television series Deadwood, is an anachronism as it was "probably derive[d]" from Major Hoople. One etymologist, without giving citation, claims, "The producer and head of the scriptwriting team, David Milch, has been reported as saying in essence that he picked something out of the air to serve as a suitable insult without great concern for its etymology. It seems he must have heard it somewhere and it came conveniently back to mind while writing the scripts.


Yes, the Bleats are short. There's not much to say except Yay and hoorah and everything is so abnormally normal.



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