Gloriously warm. Wrote all day. Decided to go to a post-an-hour format instead of saving things up to release in clumps; as I noted on, more posts takes the burden off the rest. You post three times, they’d better be strong. Post eight times, and the slender reed on which you hang the entry doesn’t matter so much.

Now I’m in the gazebo, writing. I’m a bit tired of writing, frankly. Sad to say I don’t know quite else what to do, though. And I do have two deadlines tonight.

Oh, I know! Let’s scan something.


Okay.  From a Minneapolis Bridal Guide, 1962. It's her first adventure in buying meat:


You’re always first, never hurried, and there’s no cause for embarrassment   - provided you use the Self-Service Way.

I'll just leave it at that, okay?

Most of the ads in the book are aimed at the new cook who must satisfy the exactly demands of her husband’s palate. Hah! Mr. Epicure. Couldn’t make toast if you helped his hand push the lever down, and thinks paprika is one of those spices only immigrants eat. Makes them sweat red, or something. It reminds me of the old coffee commercials, where SOBs regularly dressed down their wives for bad coffee. Make you own, you jerk.

Before Mrs. Olsen, there was this woman – who seemed about as likely to offer coffee suggestions as Mrs. Robinson offering laundry tips; she seems like the sort of sarcastic and unhappy person you’d find to be sitting in the living room chain-smoking Larks reading magazines, snorting derisively at something William F. Buckley said.

We can look at these things and think how horrid! But I suspect most people saw them as silly little plays that exaggerated the norms to make a blatant sale. Ads came from a parallel universe where these things mattered - indeed, they formed the entirety of people's mental activity. If you think a housewife actually moped around all day because her jackass husband held the secretarial pool’s coffee as a superior standard – conjuring up images of slinky single va-va-voomies perking up a pot on the hot plate, if you know what I mean – then you have to think that husbands would see that ad and think gee, I’m not dumping a load of scorn on my wife before I leave in the morning. That appears to be my right, too. Well, fancy that. Frankly, modern ads strike me as equally unrealistic, perhaps because they try to be so knowing and real and honest. It makes them appear far more calculating than these blunt little morality plays.

I mean, I don’t think anyone took this as a documentary:


Sorry, one more old ad; I got sucked into a YouTube clickathon. A 1982 airlines ad. She looks familiar. I’m pretty sure the mechanic is Art Metrano. And I don’t know why I know that. Someone in the comments says the voice-over is Harold Gould, a man born to play a rich guy from 192; sounds like him. It’s also a reminder that the 70s lived on into the 80s – the browns, the patterns, the lapels.


When the 80s arrived, you could tell. Shut your pie holes, hippies! We've cut our hair and put on serious glasses and we're going to make some money, dammit:


The 1982 ad, incidentally, had the line “largest airline in the Free World.” You could say that back then without making everyone roll their eyes. It reminded me of something I thought the other night – “Hunt For Red October” came on the HD channel, and I watched a bit of it. Well, a lot. All of it. Again. It’s always a surprise when Fred Thompson shows up and smokes a cigarette; it’s still a grin to see Tim Curry as the boat’s doctor; it’s nice to remember when Alec Baldwin could show up without trailing sixty-eight pieces of baggage (I don’t care about his politics, though; he’s just always good) and the amusement of Sean Connery pretending he’s a Russian never fails to deliver.  (Accent aside, it’s one of the few post-Bond roles he seems to inhabit successfully.) I always end up thinking the same thing: now there was an enemy. Ridiculous, isn't it? Of course the film romanticizes the Soviets – there’s none of the shoddy stolen tech, the brutalization of the conscripts, the fear of the verticle stroke. It has to paint them in a good light, since they’re good Rooskies. But you could understand those guys. What seemed perpedicular then seems parallel now, at least in terms of technology and cultural similarities and a desire to leev in Muntana. There was a small amount of comfort in that. Or at least we comforted ourselves, using well-intentioned illusions about the other guy. How did Rocky 4 end? Gorby gave Rocky a standing O, just for being such a plucky fellow? Right.

In somehow related news: This interview with Monty Python’s Terry Jones was interesting, inasmuch as Jones doesn’t venture into batshite unfunny jackassery as he seems wont to do these days. But he says:

“I think my reading of the Middle Ages made me more politically conscious. I see the same people seeking power, and using the same techniques to keep power, whether it be propaganda, media control or religion.”

We all learned in school about Pope Gregory VII’s canny use of the media, particularly his MTV-style illuminated books which employeed quick cuts and flashes of imagery and only took seven years to draw.

“The one thing that is certain is that people don't change and the same untruths and reasons for going to war, for example, prevail now as they always did. In the late 14th century, Richard II tried to establish peace with France, but this flew in the face of the interests of those barons who made their money out of warfare, and who were adamantly opposed to Richard and who, in the end, managed to depose and murder him so that they could carry on making money despite the bloodshed and destruction. Nothing changes.”

Well, if that’s what Mr. Jones says, that must be so. Didn’t have anything to do with undue taxation or the execution of his enemies, abolition of consulting bodies, succession issues, and generally irritation of the rest of the nobility. He wanted peace, and was killed, and so the war in Vietnam ground on for another – oh, right. 

I agree with Mr. Jones;  Human nature is immutable, damn the luck – although I suspect a great many of Mr. Jones’ prescriptions rely on its endless mutability – but the nature and quality of societies change, which is why Tony Blair left office on his feet instead of being dragged into the public square to have his bowels unspooled, and Mr. Jones himself – who believes Chaucer was assassinated for political reasons – can speak his mind without fearing for his life. Especially since he took the right side on the matter of the Crusades – those rude God-bothering popish maniacs blundering into the civilized gardens of Islam, ad so on.

What it is with these guys? You point out that America was the first nation to land on the moon, and they nod and say yes, well, the Sumerians first described the moon’s orbit 2000 years ago. Perhaps, but that’s like saying that marrying Sophia Loren is an equal accomplishment to watching her walk across the street. Historical perspective is one thing. But “nothing changes” is a sad gust of defeat. Things change, all right. Just wait.

Well, I ended up writing, didn’t I. Enough: here’s a Diner. It’s about Sputnik. We’re told that Sputnik TERRIFIED America, and freaked everyone out – well, perhaps, but you’ll be surprised to learn how much rock ‘n’ roll we extracted from the event. Really. Enjoy! iTunes site here - - subscribe and you'll get it automatically; MP3 here. Or listen below.

Thanks for coming by this week; see you at