I should read more Dickens. Correction: I should read some Dickens. That's something I said a few months back, and when I redesigned the site I used it as loremipsum copy. Somehow it ended up being used over and over as I tweaked and built out the site for the rest of the month (doesn't that sound impressive, jargon-wise? I built it out. I also populated it with content! I can't stand seeing the word "populate" in this context; when I downloaded a new Flipbook-type app, it asked if I would like to pre-populate the app with categories. NO.) (I was looking for a Flipbook replacement because Flipbook is maddeningly infinite; it just keeps going, page after page.

Makes you realize that one of the pleasures of magazines is their finiteness.Their completeness. There is a front and a back and in between is the weekly ration) the Dickens line kept appearing over and over. I'm tempted to drop it in from time to time over the course of the year.

The Bleat is now laid out and pre-populated through the end of February - at least the below-the-fold copy and the site updates. This page was designed on December 21st. I have no idea why I chose that graphic, except that it seems cheerful and a bit unnerving, if you think about it too much. Feel free to construct your own stories and scenarios. And be careful: today I got an email from someone who hit the site while searching for "towel strangling." (This page, if you're curious.) He wanted to know the name of the movie.

Oh, the public services I provide.

Frustrating weekend in all respects. Nothing bad happened. Just nothing happened, due to circumstances. Parents will understand. Sometimes you are a driver, and if the kid has to be somewhere on the other side of the Metro area, and it’s 35 minutes there, then that’s what you will do. The kids never think about you driving back. It’s as if you just evaporate and re-materialize when the time is right.

So I drove a carload to SAVAGE, the suburb with the most feral name around. Leads to interesting signage. SAVAGE LIQUOR. SAVAGE CONVENIENCE. Oh sure we’ll make it easy for you to get gas, but then our store tiger will open your bowels.

I could not nap. In the list of personal problems people face this one is a grain of rice next to a . . . a much larger object, I guess. Too bored for figures of speech. Five and a half hours of sleep, unable to nap because daughter had friends over and every time the brain started to slide down the slick gully into Lethe someone would shriek as if stuck with a hatpin, and yes I know that hatpins are mentioned now only in the context of screaming as if being stuck with one. I always winced when jerry jammed a hatpin up Tom’s rear in the cartoons, because of all the animated violence you saw, that was something you could imagine. I mean, that must have really hurt.

Worked on the website, scanned, arranged tax stuff, listened to obscure music for the next Diner - I swear, I spend more time listening to music I don’t like than I spend listening to stuff I like - and at evening’s end couldn’t even find a movie I wanted to watch, because it was too late to commit. Then I remembered I had been chewing through “Metropolis,” which I hadn’t seen in a few years. There’s a reason you’ll never see it in Black & White World: the page would be a mile long, because every single shot is astonishing. Okay, well, not these -

- There’s lots of those. He does a lot of reachin’ and beseechin’. But the sets are so numerous, the design so startling, that you lose all mooring with the world outside the theater, inasmuch as you stop expecting anything remotely familiar. But since this isn’t your world, you don’t know what’s coming next.

And then there's the score. No, not the Moroder version. No, not the rock version. No, not any version except the one that has the original score.

On Saturday I settled on watching "The Man in the High Castle," and here my troubles begin. It’s not available on Netflix, because it’s an Amazon show. This is like living in 1964 and realizing you can’t watch Walt Disney because your TV only gets CBS. Well, you can watch it on the Apple TV like Netflix and Hulu and Crackle, right? (Crackle? Yes.) No. It is not on the Apple TV. So . . . I have to watch it on my phone or iPad? I don’t want to. I suppose I could stream it to the Chromecast gizmo, but that’s on another TV. So I’ll just have to use Airplay to beam it from my phone to the TV. This works reasonable well with decent resolution, except that the Amazon Prime Video app decides to lose the connection every ten minutes. I call it up on my laptop in the browser, to stream it using Airplay Screen Monitoring. The browser says I need a Silverlight upgrade. This I get. Manage to beam it to the TV, but the resolution is akin to 1939 TV and it’s choppy.

Annoying, but nothing I couldn’t fix. Thing is, I can fix it. Someone who has no grasp of the matter, or no knack for work-around solutions, would be lost. I suppose the detail that shows my age is my desire to watch it on the big screen.

Today’s Youth seem utterly happy watching things on their phones.



This message has been brought to you by the Ad Council and your local broadcaster. In other words, they couldn't sell the time to an advertiser. Or they had to do the community-service bit to keep the license. In a 1962 magazine I found an ad that the Ad Council put out to tell people that the Ad Council were doing ads. That weren't ads. But were. Why, here are just some of the orgnizations for whom the altriustic industry does great work for free:


I don't know if these were specific organizations, of concepts with logos. I'll tell you this: if you need an organization to celebrate confidence in a growing America, there must be a deficit of the same.

As for the MH Bell: the organization began as The Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene, in 1908.

Then it was the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, which this site says was the predecessor for the National Association for Mental Health, which became Mental Health America. As for that bell:

In the early 1950s, Mental Health America issued a call to asylums across the country for their discarded chains and shackles. On April 13, 1956, at the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore, Md., Mental Health America melted down these inhumane bindings and recast them into a sign of hope: the Mental Health Bell.

I have dim childhood recollection of that bell icon. It seemed ominous and unnerving.




For amusement I've decide to do some instructional / civic virtue movies. The shorts they showed kids in high school, or played for workers to teach them Valuable Lessons. Today:

Imagine the soundtrack that would do with these words. What comes to mind?

Beware, girls, but also: be bluesy!

For a change, a simple educational film. It's How Not To Be A Bad Girl, more or less. A policewoman narrates some simple scenarios that might result in very bad things. These movies can often be horribly boring, with cheap production values, wooden scripts, and amateur acting. Or they can be like this one, which has cheap production values, wooden scripts, and amateur acting, but some interesting details noted only because our time is not their time, and things stick out.

Like that lamp / table / ashtray combination, with the hard plastic-covered sofa. Modern as all heck for 1960. But what's that on the wall? A door-chime grille cover? A vent?


The story opens with a young girl who wants to babysit, and puts a notice up at the local grocery store. SoCal in '61: the thin utilitarian poles doing double-duty as "stripped down style of the future," the faux-stone, the broad windows and those hellish banks of overhead lights everyone seems to have forgotten.

But that's not what made me decided to put this short film here. This did:

AH-HA! burgers. No mention anywhere on the internet, as far as I can tell.

Wonder how they felt about being associated with shiftless predators:

At this point in the film, the babysitter is dead. Sorry - SPOILER, but she took a job from someone who picked her up at her home and drove off and she was never seen alive again. Moral: don't get in the car with strange men. Sound advice. The next story concerned a girl who got a ride home with some older boys she met at the movie theater, and was found later wandering down a deserted road. Moral: don't do that, either.

The guy above, however, is just older. She's in high school. He's out of high school. Here's the soundtrack for dangerous love:

She gets pregnant. So don't do that either. As long as we're at it: some other snippets of music to show how cool-daddy-o and with-it the movie really was. Or wasn't.

BEWARE the movie boys.

BEWARE when the music changes to danger-guitar.

BEWARE the cozening library music of happiness.

It's all perfectly good advice for high school girls, but we are supposed to laugh at it because it's earnest and your parents are squares because they're always so worried.

Well, Mom's worried. Dad's enjoying a magazine and a smoke.

Maybe a work blog; I have a piece to finish. Actually, I have a piece to start, and have to finish it as well. Have a fine Monday!



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