Hey, you’re wondering: did you organize anything this weekend? Why yes! Thank you for asking. The last step was the downstairs storage closet, because . . .
Well, let me back up. Previous iterations of the storage-closet cleaning have involved moving things around and throwing a few things out. Sunday’s assault was pitiless. I found some old snorkeling gear; the plastic had become sticky, and there was stuff growing in the tube. Some strange tropical fungoo that would probably leave me raving in a Caribbean patois if I inhaled it. . I dragged out boxes of my old books, fearful they’d started to mildew, and a few had. Don’t need 30 copies of each, but it’s hard to part with them. Opened up plastic tubs of old magazines and ephemera; still fine, thanks to plastic-bagging. There’s still no reason to have them, but I just - can’t - part with them. Scanning isn’t enough. Scanned versions are like 3d printed steak. The thing itself, the smell of it, the fragility - its perishability is what gives it meaning.
Rollerblades went out, because it is not 1998. Wish it was, but I could never stop when I rollerbladed. I always ended up aiming for a wall or tree and hoping for the best.
When I had eliminated a few cubic yards of stuff it was time for the worst closet of them all: under the stairs. The place where the first kid who grew up in this house had his clubhouse. I don’t know why; It’s damp and dark and full of spiders. It’s where paint cans go. It has three bins of plastic envelopes that hold memorabilia from every year since 2000, a physical memory trove for Daughter to discover someday. (And then discard.) It’s where the suitcases are. And it’s where I knew there would be a box whose contents I needed for a website.
The covers of Tom Swift Jr., the natural sequel to the Frank Reade Jr. site. I recently finished the Frank Reade site - and yes, I know someone did a book about him and recreated the vehicles in amazing Photoshops; I was stunned, but on the other hand I have the web’s foremost array of covers and COMMENTARY, which is necessary. Something about sites that just put up pictures without notes or context irritates me; it’s like hanging a sheet in the breeze with only one clothespin, and a loose one at that. Tom Swift was the natural inheritor to Frank, and there was the same father-son inventor dynamic, the same plucky can-do American spirit, the same love of technology and its power to improve. The last time I took out the suitcases I’d seen a familiar cover in a box in the recesses of the understairs area, and knew I had to make a site. But if I was going to drag out the box I needed to sort things first . . . and that, I think, is what made me attack the garage a month or so ago.
There are a few sites that have the covers, but the main one is strange tripod.com crap that requires you to install Flash to see the pages . . . so no. Anyway, I found the box, culled the suitcases - three of them were battered and sad, and two others fit inside larger ones, so a space that had seven suitcases now had two.
The bad part: had to bring the Tom Swift books and other things up to my studio, which has no room. I have no room for anything anymore until I start piling up boxes in the closet or filling every inch of every shelf, and that’s not going to happen. Time to start selling stuff. I mean, I have a big tub of Life magazines. I don’t need them. I have them all in digital form, but as I said above: there’s no substitute for holding the magazine, though, for feeling its heft, realizing it’s an artifact from 1942. So maybe I won’t sell those. My comics? Lots of old comics from the early 70s! I’ll be they’re worth THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS!
Ha ha no.
Anyway: it began with the garage. It moved to the inside basement closets that I converted to a pantry. It moved to the upstairs family room closet which was culled and sorted and organized with an absolute and total absence of ruth, with an eye towards everyday usage AND emergencies. (There are now flashlight / lantern / battery stations on all floors.) Then to the laundry room closets - oh did I mention that? Gah, the stuff in there. Caulk and lots of it because we had to keep redoing the bathroom tub; that’s all gone because there is no tub anymore. Then I put down shelf paper in the rollout drawers and redid the utility drawers. Then I did the basement storage closet and then the area under the stairs. One more weekend to get some new containers, and I’m done.
It sounds insane, but it beats sitting in my room staring at the screen thinking “I have to redo this entire site because I don’t know what I was thinking the last time I redid it.”
BTW, I am redoing that entire site because I don’t know what I was thinking.
PS Scanned all the Tom Swift covers; site is due in 2018.
This is interesting. This guy. Famous for not sleeping with Marilyn Monroe, when you get down to it. The Tom Ewell Show.
"The Tom Ewell Show (CBS) leads a relentless parade of situation comedies, all designed to show that American family life is as cute as a freckle on a five-year-old. The show, which might also be titled Father Knows Nothing, presents the comic with the excavated face as a bumbler named Potter who is trapped in the customary format: Harassed Man Beaten Down by Wife, Three Daughters, Mother-in-Law. In the opening episode, Ewell could find no better way to outsmart his spendthrift women than closing his bank account and ruining his own credit. For those who may have tuned out early, the women were all set to start spending again."
Tom, upset at always being the family chauffeur, tries to teach his wife how to drive a car. Junius Matthews (best known as the voice of Rabbit in Disney's Winnie the Pooh movies) guest-stars as an elderly man.
Tom finds part-time jobs for his daughters, who rebel against the idea. Billy Mumy guest-starred as a young boy.
Tom is pressured to get another phone for the house.
Mother-in-law isn't satisfied with her life.
John Emery plays Tom's old college buddy, Jack Hunter, who invites Tom and his wife to a wild Hollywood party. Former "Miss Iceland" Sirry Steffen and character actor Fay Roope also appear as party guests.
Sirry Steffen (May 29, 1938) is a former Miss Iceland who appeared in American television series and movies in the 1960s. "Sirry Steffen" is her Americanized name used for film and television credits; her actual name is Sigríður Geirsdóttir, anglicized as Sigridur Geirsdottir.
She lives in Iceland to this day. Tom Ewell died in 1994.
Rather than give you a big movie, here's a short. Herbert Marshall comes on to tell us that we're about to see . . .
It's Hollywood's view of . . . 1960!
If that looks familiar, it should; it's the set from the US Metropolis remake, "Just Imagine." So the movie that starts in 1944 shows us the future of 1960, which is actually 1929.
Meet the fashion-forward teen of 1960:
Futuristic Junior comes home hungry, and asks what's for dinner. Warning: in the future, sound doesn't sync with the picture very well.
Oh I love that. I love that shot so much. Danny, however, wants a rocketship. He makes a deal: he'll eat steak of his parents give him a rocket. His parents say he'll eat steak or they'll take away his plane and make him drive an automobile. He's horrified, because his girl would give him the air if he drove an automobile. Conversation naturally turns back to 1944 again, and they want to hear a song from that long-ago era. So they use . . .
And they dial in Jack Carson. Mom thinks he was really funny, but Dad thinks Charlie Ruggles was funnier. Mom doesn't remember him so well. (Dad is played by Charlie Ruggles.) Who should appear in this feature about 1960 that has suddenly turned into a feature about 1944? Someone who lights Mom's long dormant pilot light with explosive effect:
Then Jack Carson introduces Dennis Morgan and Irene Manning. They sing! Then Cary Grant comes on and reads a letter from a dying Canadian soldier to his son. He doesn't have long to live, but he feels well enough to write the letter telling his son that the future will be better. Grant wrings every possible tear out of the letter, and then Deanna Durban sings "Begin the Beguine" in Rosie the Riveter garb. Live from the planet Vega:
Then it's right to a shortened version of "Sing, Sing," Sing," that great Benny Goodman song in which no one sings, with Gene Krupa on the skins and Harry James on the trumpet.
One small problem: this is from 1937's "Hollywood Hotel." So we have a movie that starts in 1944, shows us the world of 1960, where they turn on the Reverso-TV to watch a show in 1944 that shows a clip from 1937.
They turn off the TV to eat steak Steak STEAK! But there's someone at the door. Check the Flouroscope, Jimmy.
You're going to be seeing a lot of this guy in 2017. Or rather hearing a lot: this year I've undertaken a start-to-finish listen to the entire show - years and years of one of the most interesting sitcoms of the medium. I'll be doing the music cues, of course - that's what the LISTEN feature is about. But it'll be a way of explaining some interesting things about the era. Anyway, Gildy has come to pay a debt. And why is he suddenly flush?
Hey, what? A Canadian Soldier, Canadian warbonds - what is this? Well, it's back to Herbert Marshall in 1944, telling us to buy bonds, and then it's Bing Crosby singing a bond-buying / blood-donating song.
It reminds me of footage from the 1984 version of "1984." For a better cause, of course. Here's the whole song:
Get off the rusty dusty.
That explains it! You can watch it all here, if you like. But you've seen what needs seeing. Usually this would be the point where we say "it's interesting how they thought the future would turn out" but there's just nothing of the future at all beyond a few pieces of archaic FX and the usual nonsense about personal rockets.
I think we're better at it today. I think we know that people will be wearing jeans in 20 years.
And now . . . MATCHBOOKS! Because of course. Only two, though - we've come to the end of the Restaurant section.