Off to the vet tomorrow. Birch has a hot spot, as they’re called. Humans, for most of their existence, itched, and while we continue to itch, we used our brains and hands to create unguents. Dogs just lick until bone appears. I have some anti-itch spray for him, but the very concept is idiotic: spray the affected area, and the first thing the dog will do is lick off the medicine. So I sprayed a pad with the stuff and tied a tape bandage around his spot, and it did the trick: he mostly left it alone. I took it off before I went to bed so he didn’t wake at 3 AM because an opossum had strolled past the house, and decided to chew off the bandage and eat it and choke.

It might be the cone. I hope it’s not the cone, but it could be the cone.

This is a six-piece week, so expect a somewhat diminished Bleatage for the first three days. Also, it’s summer. Also, nothing is happening. I rise, work, office, drive home, nap to remove the shame of using “office” as a verb, make dinner, relax with family, write, sleep. The only thing of consequence today was a dream that involved a lot of exciting bike riding, ending in a banquet hall where the only thing left in the buffet were those awful sweet barbecue meatballs. The ones you eat with toothpicks. Like I said, it was all they had, and I was hungry, but I wonder why the default for cocktail meatballs is so damned sweet.

In related news, Cocktail Meatballs is my new sloppy blues-rock band, playing covers of Cole Porter tunes.





For some reason I started watching a copy of "Ice Station Zebra" I got long ago, for the sake of having it. I did that a lot in the early Oughts, and built up a nice collection. It can't be taken away because I forgot to pay a streaming service, or because they yanked the movie for reasons.

What reasons?

We don't need to tell you what reasons.

Apparently the movie was panned as inert and obvious. Granted, Ernest Borgnine is a big slab of ham, and Rock Hudson as Rock Squarejaw is a bit too much of the ultra-capable unflappable captain, but it has Patrick McGoohan, who is all bite and snark, with that contemptuous smile and occasional flashes of fury. He can say the most civilized things, every word polite and concise, and pack it with so much contempt or amused disdain the victims know they’ve been flayed but can’t quite point to the moment where the skin started to come off.

It’s a sub movie, and I love sub movies. All sub movies are the same sub movie, inasmuch at some point the boat will sink, and everyone’s looking at death and entombment. They’re never played for panic and fear, just desperate hope. You almost can’t ruin the sub-dives-out-of-control sequence, simply because it’s terrifying enough just to show the instruments that displays their depth and speed.

Here’s what I remember from childhood, though.


Movies had overtures.

And then, after an hour and change:


Intermission. But wait - there's more

Can you imagine that word on the screen these days? Let alone in military stencil?

This was the sign of a big important movie. It may seem odd to someone who grew up in cramped 80s multiplexes or saw movies like “Ice Station Zebra” cropped for 25-inch TVs with no letterboxing, but the movies used to be enormous. Some of them, that is. the 70mm movies you’d see at the luxe theater with the enormous curved screen. Yes, we had one in Fargo: the Cinema 70. It was an astonishingly immersive experience, and when I saw “Ice Station Zebra” there I was no doubt convinced it was the greatest movie in the world.

Patrick McGoohan's presence may have unnerved me, since I connected him with the Disney Scarecrow Disney movie, as well as The Three Lives of Thomasina, which played on TV when I was young, and had an effect I can’t quite describe. It was as enchanting as the Scarecrow was terrifying. Disney provided the entire gamut of emotions for children at the time; there wasn't a lot of competition. Pathos, wonder, terror, crushes, laughter, it was all given with cheer and affection by Uncle Walt. (He was really old, too, like, 50,)

McGoohan always had a tense electric presence, best put to use on the Prisoner, of course. Anyway: I don’t know how long it’s been since I saw this movie. A very long time. But because of McGoohan, I knew how this scene was going to go. And it did.

A bit much? Sure. And I love it.

The soundtrack suite, if you're interested. A great nautical theme, if a bit scant.

They used it a lot in the first half. Every damned time we saw the boat, the theme would swell.





It’s 1971.

Only participating bowling alleys.

Check ahead. You might have to go to the other bowling alley.

There were days when towns had lots. When I grew up in Fargo there was Red River Lanes a few blocks to the north, and of course the swank Bowler down on the south side. Were there more? Possibly.

Let’s look at those cereals:

Grape Nuts Flakes, because we’ve realized those damned pebbles are absolutely inedible. Crispy Critters, which we’ll dump when we realize the term has become inextricably linked with stoners.

The cigarette so good we had to include stamps you can collect to get prizes:

You can get thousands on eBay for pennies, so I think they’re useless now.

The party’s over, and you can finally smoke!

Didn’t I do this one already? Or did they have a series of pictures where exhausted young hosts have the 27th and 39th cigarette of the day, respectively, and wonder if they have enough gas in the tank to clean up before they pass out?

A brilliant slogan:

It was smart to hit the problem straight on: this stuff is just awful.

TDon’t worry about the trade deficit - we’re buying your stuff too!

No one read this ad! No one cared! The entire thing was a failure, and that would teach them to override the focus groups!

You’re not like other smokers. You’re a free-thinker. You don’t take guff. You don’t follow the herd. You sneer at those Marlboro smokers: sheep

Do you get the feeling that the diversity of advertised products had begun to contract?

However you do it, please do it quickly



Let's drop in on the far-away yet oh-so-relatable world of 1916, as seen through the work of Clare Briggs. See you around.



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