Today: the fufdr03823493475; wiping your face on your sleeve to stop global warming; -lly Ballou


This week’s graphics are taken from a 1946 edition of Startling Tales, and details will follow on Friday. I’ll just say this: it’s an era of sci-fi for which I have great sympathy, because the guys who consumed this stuff had nothing but pulps. Nothing but stories. They were the hardy pioneers, they were – Buck Rogers serials were done, and  they had no flashy movies or TV shows or even radio shows. Just stories in cheap magazines. But nerd culture has amazing power, and you’ll see on Friday how they formed a private language, full of inside references.

Gosh, you can hardly wait, can’t you.

I went to an appliance store called, uh, Superior Purchase, to buy a new freezer. They had one. It was smaller than the unit that died the other day, by two cubic feet. On the other hand, the previous freezer had contained a gigantic brick of Freez-Pops, or whatever they’re called, for two years

(Note: this is being edited as I write, by a small sprite sitting on the edge of my chair in the gazebo. She noted that they are called “Freeze Pops,” not “Freez-eee Pops” as I had written, then asked if I wanted that minus. By which she meant the hyphen. Everybody wants to get into the act.)

(I just sent her upstairs to take a bath, and she said she wanted to spend some Quality Time with me. I said that was fine, but she had to take a bath. If Mommy said she could come back down, fine; she’s the decider. “Is that a word?” she asked. “Yes,” I said. “And so is normalcy.”)

Anyway. I figured I could get by with the smaller unit; it was attractively priced, and I had a 10% off coupon. But was there something larger? The salesman, a middle-aged white-haired man named Doug, said he’d check. He’d helped me buy the washer and drier last year, and he knew his stuff. In fact he gave me the complete rundown on the freezer I meant to buy, which I won’t relate here. He could have been making it all up – really, I have no idea if there were sufficient orders in the pipeline during the transitional phase to ensure that the line didn’t have to switch compressor suppliers, and so forth, but like I said, I’ve dealt with him before. He knows his machinery, and he doesn’t work on commission. All in all I’d promote him to King of The Appliance Salesman if I were king of the forest, because dealing with him is like dealing with some 1940s tailor in a fine men’s clothiers. You’re in good hands. Except that unlike a tailor, the good hands to do not approach your groin.

We went to the computer to see if other sizes were available. They were. GE offered a 16.7 cubic foot unit that defrosted itself, which is good, and cost $200 more, which is less than good. (Funny how these things impinge on your brain after you’ve quit a job – doesn’t matter that you can still afford the larger item, you still throttle back a little.) But the item had a number – fufdr03823493485 – which was not accepted by the ordering system. It understood fufdr03823493475, but not fufdr03823493485. Intracompany SKUs indicated that the fufdr03823493485 was the most recent item, which suggested that the fufdr03823493475 had been discontinued. I tell you, he worked that keyboard like Lon Chaney on the organ in “Phantom of the Opera,” but he could not resolve the issue. If I ordered the fufdr03823493485, it might turn out that I couldn’t get it. At all. Ever. I might have to come back and order the as-yet-undreamt-of fufdr03823493495, which was the same in all respects but had a Phillippine evaporator coil instead of a Brazilian one. In any case it would be two weeks. I thought. I considered. And I wondered how this would affect the possibility that nightly ice cream might be coming to an end.

See, I have a little ice cream every night. A bag of 100 calorie popcorn, and a small dish of ice cream. The latter is Kemp’s “Carb Promise” brand. Silly name; they all have the promise, unspoken but still understood, of Carbs. But Carb Promise is made with Splenda, and has no sugar. They make a chocolate – peanut-butter flavor to which I am partial. The anti-carb craze has passed, of course; my favorite anti-carb yogurt, Carb Freedom, has been rebranded Sweet Promise, and for a while now I’ve expected Carb Promise to bear the dreaded DISC label in the grocery store freezer. (That means discontinued, of course.) So I’ve always had two scrounds on hand – if it’s cancelled, I can play out the string a little longer. When the diet craze is winding down, as Sting sang, you make the best of what’s still around. But my Carb Promise stash was wiped out in the great Freezer Malfunction, and now I’m living scround to scround. If I bought the small unit, I could stock up. If I waited two weeks, and they discontinued Carb Promise, I’d be lost.

Because then I would have no ice cream at the end of the night.

Or would I? What’s stopping me? After all these years of watching sugars, I’ve been introducing a few more items into my diet. Moderation, after all, that’s the key. I could have a small ration.

In the end, the inability to figure out whether the system would accept the fufdr03823493485 or the fufdr03823493475 made me buy the smaller unit, which will be delivered Monday.

I went to the grocery store. Got stuff for supper. Checked the ice cream: no Carb Promise. NONE. They did have No Sugar Added Fat Free Frozen Choco-Gruel with Brownies, however, and the number of impact carbs – those are carbs that strike you in the torso and throw you back, stunning you temporarily – was low enough. I bought a scround.

At home my wife suggested that the larger freezer might have been a better choice. “But they don’t know if they have the fufdr03823493485,” I said. “And if they do have the fufdr03823493485, it might be two weeks.”

She noted that this wasn’t really a problem; we could muddle through.

I didn’t bring up the ice cream situation. She has no sweet tooth. Probably one of the reason she’s a size Zero. Or a two, depending. But I have bought her items in the Size Zero range, which suggests that she does not exist at all, but is a figment of my imagination.
Which makes this sprite perched on the chair, reading this aloud, either a familiar demon or something that proves the old theory of primageniture.

Pronounced “prim-a-gen- genit – gentooree.” If you believe the demon.

Saturday morning was Hazardous Waste Amnesty Day in the neighborhood; we could drop off whatever deadly Gaia-gagging household toxins we had at a local high school. I used the opportunity to rid myself of the 48 cans of paint Jasperwood’s  previous owners had left behind. The days of pouring them down the drain are over, dagnabbit, and forget about pouring the paint into small phials and mailing them to fictitious addresses. You have to go the disposal facility, conveniently located on the other side of the world from wherever you happen to be. Which is why the cans have sat in the garage for the last eight months. Well, now they’re gone. Gone!  What I should have done, of course, is tied them to a string and dragged them to DC, showing up at the Correspondent’s Dinner like Jacob Marley. Then I would have seen this, a titanic battle of the ages:

Global warming was the talking point last night at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner when singer Sheryl Crow and "Inconvenient Truth" producer Laurie David walked over to Table 92 at the Hilton Washington to chat with Karl Rove -- and the resulting exchange was suitably heated.

"I am floored by what I just experienced with Karl Rove," David reports. "I went over to him and said, 'I urge you to take a new look at global warming.' He went zero to 100 with me."

Obviously he wasn’t driving a Prius, then. She also said “I've never had anyone be so rude,” which is quite possible; people tend to suck up to very rich women whose husbands have show-business connections. You could say there’s something rude about bothering someone at a dinner with your pet project, but as well all know, the personal is the political, so you’re entitled to  bray on and on to whomever, wherever. The article continued:

Things got so hot that Crow stepped in to defuse the situation and then got into it with Rove herself. "You work for me," she told the presidential adviser, according to singed bystanders. "No," was his response. "I work for the American people."

News of the dust-up filtered quickly through the room. Some witnesses said David was very aggressive with Rove; a shaken Crow later said that Rove was "combative and unresponsive."

So he was a reanimated zombie corpse? Those are the only “combative and unresponsive” creatures I can think of. At least Ms. Crow has a sense of humor; her Hufffington Post blog is a nifty satire of environ-panic, including a suggestion to limit one’s self to a single square of bathroom tissue per visit. (I think she’s talking about Number One, unless she’s come up with some magical form of excretion called Number Three, in which all waste is expelled in vocalized form.) She has also declared herself opposed to paper napkins:

I also like the idea of not using paper napkins, which happen to be made from virgin wood and represent the height of wastefulness. I have designed a clothing line that has what's called a "dining sleeve." The sleeve is detachable and can be replaced with another "dining sleeve," after usage. The design will offer the "diner" the convenience of wiping his mouth on his sleeve rather than throwing out yet another barely used paper product. I think this idea could also translate quite well to those suffering with an annoying head cold.

This is typical. The hallmark of any revolution – our own excepted - is the dislike for bourgeois convention, like manners.  They’re a false face that masks our true & honest selves, a tool by which the upper class manacles the rude and honest energy of The People. For the enlightened individual who has seen the one true path, signs of the old corrupt order are everywhere, so it’s not surprising that a noviate like Ms. Crow would find her dudgeon inflamed by the sight of people daubing at the corners of their mouths with the flesh of virgin wood, or propose a solution that makes everyone look like cavepersons.

I am kidding. Sort of.

In my lifetime, musicians with itchy consciences have declared themselves opposed to four things, more or less: Nuclear Power, Nuclear Missiles, Global Warming, and playing concerts at Sun City. They opposed the first because nuke plants poison the earth; they opposed nuclear missiles under the general auspicies of the Bad For Children and Other Living Things Comprehensive Banality Act of 1968; they were opposed to Sun City because of apartheid – bully for them, but let’s see any of them refuse to sell their products in China to protest the occupation of Tibet. They were wrong about nuclear power; wrong about the Soviets, misguided about the effect of depriving South Africa of their presence, and now it’s this. It would be amusing if this stuff wasn’t starting to saturate nearly every single aspect of modern life, turning the most incidental of choices into signs of moral failings.

Anyway.  While waiting in line I listened to some 1952 Bob and Ray shows, which are deft and clever in a manner unknown today. I’ll post a show in the weekly radio theater soon, and you’ll see what I mean – it’s bone-dry, hilarious, impeccably timed, and simultaneously loose and tight in a fashion that relies entirely on the chemistry between the personalities. It’s also a window into another era, as they say – the objects of their satire are timeless, but the musical interludes – bass, organ, and a really fine electric guitar – are pure pre-consultant radio. It’s stuff from the days Before the Shift, before the ties and hats were taken off for good, and comics went for f-bombs and screechy aggression to get the laffs.

But they survived The Shift, if only because so many held them in stratospheric regard. This clip isn’t timeless, because it’s tied to so many things – the popularity of the song, the absurdity of the old guys singing the chorus, the sight of the comediennes doing something different, and of course the veneer of Hip that covered the show at the time. It makes me think of bartending Saturday nights down at the Valli; I’m sure I walked past this when it was on, had a laugh, and wondered who those guys were. Well, stupid me then, smarter me now, I guess. New Match and Quirk; see you tomorrow. (Note: no new merchandise until tomorrow, so the link is dead for a day.)