I’m at the office, trying to make myself finish the column. It’s not that I have no ideas - I banged out half last night just to see if there was anything in the subject, and having decided there was, I quit so I could watch some TV and get to bed at a non-embarrassing hour.

I would probably stay up until 3 every night if I could, and rise at 9, and use the useless hours of 3 - 5 to make up the deficit. I’m the opposite of the Fitzgerald line: in the wan afternoon of the soul, it is always 4 PM. The very sound of it makes me tired. Five o’clock has the feel of a grey mid-century TV show with grey office desks and cabinets and bosses with grey at the temple, and everyone’s winding down to catch the 5:17 back to Connecticut or something. Three o’clock PM is the guy who doesn’t realize that everyone else is tired of the meeting, and keeps asking questions. Four o’clock is a cipher, a shade, neither here nor there, neither part of the enthusiasms of the afternoon or the transitional time between late-late afternoon and early-early evening. Six PM is technically evening, but it doesn’t feel like it until clocks change, and it’s dark.

I got enough sleep, and was happy to wake: I’d been dreaming that the house was taken over by criminals, and they had every intention of staying there forever. (They wanted to know how long the mortgage was.) I was allowed to leave, though, and since the criminals had made it plain they would shoot anyone who blew their cover, I began to investigate how I would shoot them first. But I ended up having dinner with the former Mayor of Minneapolis, and at the end of it I was going to ask him if he knew anyone who could shoot all the squatting crooks, but he wasn’t interested, and insisted I accompany him to a new animated movie starring a clever lizard.

Now where did that come from? I was googling the bio of a Russian nutwad who appeared at the Red Square rally the other day, and it turns out he was an actor who dubbed a voice in “Rango,” that CGI thing about a lizard out west. Somehow that fragment got put in the tray for sorting, and that was its last appearance before it’s filed away for however long. It was the voice of Rattlesnake Jake. Bill Nighy played him in the original.

LATER Concluded my work, such as it was, and went to Traders Joe to see what else had been subject to annual Pumpkinification. (And I don't mean Failed Claudian Deification in the Seneca sense. They had some pumpkin ravioli, and I actually stood there like an idiot with the package in my hand before I came to my senses. I've never had ravioli and thought "if only it was like a small tin pillow of pie, but not pie at all, but somehow just gourdy." I made the weekly stop for the hot Pico de Gallo, which goes on morning eggs, and according to the date stamp, goes bad faster than Billy the Kid on a Saturday night. I guess you're supposed to use it all at once. Most of the containers expired on Wednesday. The pressure is intense. Use it! Now! You have no idea what will happen otherwise!

Then I checked to see if they had the house brand whiskey, which is one of the better popular-priced non-blinding liquors they have. It was gone for a long while, long enough so you thought it was discontinued. Then it reappeared, so I have bought a bottle a week, expecting it will go away again.

Why not two? Because that would be hoarding. But you're a hoarder. Right, right, but as long as it's fully stocked, I don't want to be the guy who buys it all up and irritates my consumption-pattern doppelganger. But would he do the same for me? No. But virtue is its own reward.

Still, I'm a bit peeved with him. Don't like him. Although when I argue with him in my head on all matter of issues, I win all the time, so there's that.










Concluded the Bill-Burr festival of abrasion called F is for Family. The final season wasn’t quite as good as the others, because it seemed to relish the crudity more than usual. It felt a bit broader. The new baby was just there, and you wondered why no one noticed that the child seemed animated in a slightly different style. But I liked it. I was inclined to like it, because I think it’s the most heartfelt of all the post-Simpson animated family sitcoms. As well as ear-blisteringly profane, if you’re bothered by such things, and if you’re not, you might object to some of the things that happen.The main character’s unceasing geyser of anger is something that’s off-putting at first, until you settle into the character and start to enjoy the quality of his rages. And I usually don't like angry characters. Even when I'm one.

As I’ve said before, it’s the setting that makes it work: the early 70s, in a town called Rustvale. It’s the 70s Show “The 70s Show” wasn’t, with a full and excoriating critique of the contemporary culture in all its garish, cheap, gimcrack, past-its-sell-date decline. It has TV action hero:

A Robert-Mitchum-meets-Robert Wagner knock-off, Colt Lugar. His motto: “Sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man does.”

I’m actually happy it’s done. There wasn’t more to say; we leave everyone at the right moment, and it ends . . . with joy and forgiveness and a simple positive note. And I’m glad it’s done. Spending time with those people was exhausting, and revisiting the mustard-and-brown 70s brought back memories of a tired, dreaey time. Throughout it all, and I have to believe this was an intentional choice, the soundtrack uses a Fender Rhodes piano, which anchors the melancholy in a particular time.

And that's the last I'll say about it.



It’s 1936, and . . . wowsah, as they probably no longer said by 1936.

This artist did a lot for Tattoo. I haven’t seen a lot of his or her work elsewhere, nor have I seen attempts to copy this lush, glowing style.

At least we know they could do it. I mean, of course they could, but you wonder why more didn’t.

One of the glamorous jobs for a Career Gal: roving reporter! Note: “Drugs take off fat” is one of your dieting options.

There’s something flatulent about the brand name.

They got dinged by the FTC, and agreed not to say that the Perfolastic would take off fat. The next case in the compendium of decisions, by the way, hits 7-Up for false advertising.

7-up? What did they say?



“We agree to stop saying that a sip of soda will give you that old-time zip.”

  Why, it’s Alice White, wearing stockings!

Guaranteed replacement. "Hello, is this the Wilknit company? I’m calling about -"

"Sorry lady, they moved. No, I don’t know where."

Actually, they were legit, and stayed around for a few decades.

Dr. Leslie E. Wilkin was an optometrist in Greenfield who began selling glasses by mail order. He changed his product to hosiery, a product much easier to ship. The Wilknit Company was started in the 1920s.

Dr. Wilkin sold sales kits to salesmen who ordered the product through him. The company grew through the 1930s. Materials were difficult to come by during the war years, but the company survived to continue to grow after the war.

By the 1950s the company employed over 200 with 7,000 sales agents and did over one million dollars in business. It had its own dying factory in Greenfield with its shipping facilities in the nearby town of Leesburg.


Works on Air!



As far as I can tell, it was powered by gas, even though it says “better than gas.” That’s what comes up on the eBay listings, anyway.



Federal for the moment; that’ll change.

We’ve been over these ads before, many times. But I just realized the genius of the ads: it’s not “Draw Her.” It’s “Draw Me.” And that made all the difference, I suspect.

Changeable Tongue Color!

Sport shoes of the stars.


I’ll bet these weren’t too hard to sell. You didn’t slip a picture in the ring; they reproduced it on the plastic.

Where are they all now? Down sewer drains, rushed to the ocean to be buried in the silt; reposing in landfills; rattling around a shoebox of stuff inherited from Grandma; sitting forlorn in a dish in an antique store.



And now we come to the end of our Nicotine Imp's adventures - perhaps a bit quicker than Johnny might have liked.




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