An absolutely perfect day, which is always deadly for Bleats. Really. I got her off to school, wrote a column, filed it at home, went to the office so I could put my tie-and-good-shoe collection to good use. Picked her up: tears. There had been an incident with her best friend, who was likewise unhappy – I suggested a playdate, her friend’s mom agreed, and all was happy chatter again. So they played while I made dinner and listened to the every-song-from-1938 playlist. Some of these songs I know. There’s something to be said for chopping cod while singing “Donkey Serenade,” although I’m not sure what it is. Not sure if I care.
Spent the night on the podcast, a column, and the next book. (There’s always the next book.) (If you’re lucky.) What gave me the most satisfaction, of course, was attempting to match the typeface used by news bureaus in the 40s. I have a batch of old photos I’ll be posting, and the backside has the cutline information. It’s always printed on a certain kind of paper with a certain kind of typing, and the ink has a purplish mimeo-ditto quality that’s hard to nail down. The paper was cut out and taped to the back of the photo 63 years ago, and both have yellowed, as you might expect. So the trick was duplicating the yellowed tape. When my wife came by my room, she knew better to ask what I was doing, because I would have said “attempting to simulate the accumulation of dirt in the edge of old cellophane” or something equally exciting.
I put on the “Local Hero” soundtrack, which might be the one record I cannot live without, and set about copying the look of the old paper. A link to the results is at the end of this installment.
I do hope I provide enough variety over the course of the week. I know people come for different things, and I hope I earn your patronage. I don’t expect anyone to be as interested in these things as I am – if you are, well, spiffy – but at least there’s variety. A little kid stuff, some spew & bile, a matchbook, an old motel, a podcast – I’m trying to keep the content worth your while, within the boundaries of my own narrow interests. (My child and my scanner, and Target.) If I thought about it too much I’d worry; if I tried to make this an X Blog, X meaning a specific topic or tone, I’d be unhappy. As I keep saying: you can write a blog devoted to one thing, and you’ll be popular. You can write about many things and be rather joyless, and you’ll be popular. Joyless monomania, however, is a killer. I had that phase, and I don’t want to repeat it. Great for the hits, but it made the rest of the site feel like a sidecar.
Much interesting mail from yesterday; I always enjoy getting the ones that boil down whatever I’ve wrote: “Shorter Version: you don’t think Joel Stein is funny.” Well, yes, that was the point, I suppose, but just because something can be boiled down doesn’t mean is has to be. I just got Chris Ware’s “ACME Novelty Library #16” today, and the shorter version would be “children with banal psychological problems experience anxiety in school.” But that doesn’t quite capture the emotion you get in a 68-panel wordless strip about driving to school with grandma. The volume also contains his exquisite “House” series, which could be reduced to “people who share a common address often have divergent lives.” It’s the execution. Speaking of which: EXECUTE FASTER, PLEASE. I love Chris Ware’s stuff, but I’m not waiting four years for a collection that ends with Rusty Brown inviting Chalky White over for bologna sandwiches and TV.
Oh, of course I will.
Some wrote to ask why I didn’t pick apart the piece line by line – well, my appetite for fisking has abated; it feels like angry break-up sex, and I don’t quite see the point much anymore. Not to say I won’t ever again, but nowadays I read fiskable essays and just sigh: whatev.
In any case, I’m going to finish a column and watch TV now. The new site, in rough preview form with only four pages, is here. It’s devoted to old newspaper photos; I scan them at high resolution and blow up details that were never seen when the pictures originally ran. The splash page is 150K, and the pictures require you to scroll right – sorry, I hate to do it, but either I run ‘em big or I don’t run them at all. New minor Screedblog as well. Thanks for the patronage, and I’ll see you tomorrow.