Bacon ipsum dolor amet ribeye porchetta picanha capicola, flank pork chop meatloaf doner tenderloin cupim leberkas prosciutto ground round ball tip. That's the placeholder text I face every day when I call up these pages. (It used to be "I should read more Dickens.") The 2016 site has different lorem ipsum, because I'm tired of this and tired of bacon worship.

I've been spending so much time tweaking the 2016 site this one looks flabby and annoying. Can't wait to move on. But we've the holidays to get through first, right? Have you gotten into the Holiday Mood? The Festive Mindset? The stores the other day rolled out more Xmas merch, and as usual we were enjoined to make things Merry, and also Bright. What I love about the wintry tableaus, with all the snowmen and people sledding and skating, is this: nothing looks cold. Hats are decorative; scarves loosely draped for aesthetic effect; coats open. There's no sense of the temperature. Winter, for those who don't experience it, is just scenery on a stage.


Segregated restrooms are a Victorian relic, says this piece. You know what that means. A relic ought to go, in these bright and brilliant days, but a Victorian relic? Defend that, and you want to put pants on piano legs. Sorry, limbs. but it gets worse: they're an Outdated Relic of Victorian Paternalism.

Women's growing presence in the factory workforce, and in public life more generally, triggered a paternalistic impulse to "protect" women from the full force of the world outside their homes, which manifested itself architecturally in a bizarro parallel world of spaces for women adjacent to but separate from men's—ladies' reading rooms at libraries, parlors at department stores, separate entrances at post offices and banks, and their own car on trains, intentionally placed at the very end so that male passengers could chivalrously bear the brunt in the event of a collision.

It's that last one I like. Chivalry can be mocked because it was paternalist, and hence had no virtues. And that's why we have sex-specific toilets today, because of those peculiar Victorian hang-ups, and a bizarro sense of how things ought to be! He also says:

. . . much of the United States' toilet-related building codes reflect a literally Victorian prudishness that we might mock in other contexts.

All those other contexts where the sexes mingle and pull down their drawers. Just remember: nothing in the past happened for the right reasons; history is an imposition. You are now supposed to regard gender-segregated bathrooms as Oldthink, and please do your best to give the impression that you held this belief last year, at least.

Some people really underestimate the extent to which people simply do not want to issue a thunderclap of flatus in the same room as a co-worker of the opposite sex who, to your horror, turned towards the bathroom door at the same time you did. Explaining that this is literally Victorian prudishness is an insufficient explanation. I mean, birds don't care if they crap on gender-neutral terrain, but as Queen Victoria said, We are not emus.

TV shows are good shortcuts for learning about other cultures. They may not tell truths, but they tell you what the culture wants to believe, or is being told to believe, or believed in their formative years. Historical dramas are a useful indicator of cultural confidence; you can tell whether the populace wanted to hear something inspirational, or had been so sufficiently beaten by years of castigating messages they slumped on the sofa, resigned to another recitation of their culture's sins.

I'm watching "Deadwood" again, one of HBO's great Balzacian dramas. Many people found it unendurable, due to the ornate profanity. But it's a remarkable work. Upon rewatching the first episode, I realized that it was a mirror image of the first radio show of "Gunsmoke," the great American tale of the territories on west. In "Gunsmoke," Matt Dillon faces down a mob that wants to lynch a prisoner, and shames them for their lawlessness. William Conrad brought everything he had to the role, and his stentorian rebuke to the mob raises the hairs on your neck. He was the sole embodiment of law in a feral land, and he laid down the necessities of civilized society with an idealistic combination of lethal power and rueful compassion. He would have shot every man who tried to trump the law; he would have slept poorly for a week afterwards. But he would gotten over it.

In the opening of "Deadwood," Seth Bullock is about to resign his Marshall job and head to South Dakota to open a store. He has a prisoner. The man's guilty. He admits it. Bad luck; his life's been all bad luck. Bullock talks to him as he writes his resignation; he gives the prisoner little comfort, but treats him like a man. The mob shows up. The mob wants a hangin'. There's been no trial; the man is innocent in the eyes of the law, but we know he's guilty.

Bullock, like Dillon, faces down the mob. He won't let them through. If a man's going to be hung, he's going to be the one who hangs him - and he does. On the porch of the Marshall's office. He instructs the condemned to say his piece, and entrusts a member of the mob with the duty of passing along the last words to the dead man's relatives. He makes everyone in the mob complicit in the execution; he establishes the humanity of the condemned. And then he kicks the stool, lays down his badge, and walks off to South Dakota.

Seth Bullock is the reluctant Dillon, as the show will demonstrate, and his world isn't the theme-park west of Dodge City. "Gunsmoke" on the radio was a breakthrough for its time - realistic sound effects, a sense of open prairie space, morally ambiguous characters. It turned into a formula soon enough, and it was possible to make a parody of the show by using nothing but elements of the show.

Hello, Kitty

Gunsmoke was what we wanted to think we were, when the doubts were setting in. (It was a revisionist Western, in its own way.) "Deadwood" is a story of the mud - and how we emerged in short order, thanks to law, money, force, hard work, and the distant hand of Uncle Sam. If I had to explain America to a newcomer, I'd start them with an inane Hopalong Cassidy show, give them a few Gunsmokes, then let the whole story of Deadwood roll out.

If you had to choose a TV show to explain America, what would you select?

PS: if you wrote off Deadwood for the cussin', reconsider. It is a stunning piece of work.

Construction update:

The towers are done, but only the one on the right is lit from within. The Edition is about to top off. The stadium in the background - I've no idea what remains.

See those trees? I wonder if they'll be spared. They are building a part in this space, after all; tearing down the trees for different trees would seem to be unwise, but they probably don't fit the plan.

Pupdate, because it's been a while and he hasn't been naughty.





As usual for Friday, the Music Cues. Of course we begin with the Couple Next Door, with its cheerful soundtrack of the mid-century domestic scene. Actual bits of script are left in now and then for surreal effect.

Repeats, at this stage, are inevitable. We'll be done at the end of the year - although the end of the month will have some behind-the-scenes stuff you are sure to enjoy.

I hope.

CND Cue #594 Martial Mouse Maneuver Music?

CND Cue #595 Another old favorite with a double mocking wah-wah

What will replace this feature? That's for 2016 to reveal.

The PSA of the week: Let's all learn a fascinating fact about the Kentucky flag! Because you're in the Army and we're going to use every opportunity to get some learning in your skull.

This is what radio sounds like when there aren't real ads.


Finally, our ad of the week: a 1958 ad for Sta-Nu.

Sorry, I mean staaaaaaaaa Nu.

Back to the Hart Collection 45s, and back to Champion Jack Dupree.

Could be an homage to Pete Johnson. Or he could be talking about, you know, Johnsons.

Interesting left hand. It doesn't quite make sense right away.

I don't know if this is the first time it's been released on the Internet. There's one on YouTube, but it's different.


That'll do it - see you in the usual places, like the Newspaper Column.



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