Monday it was 61 degrees. Tuesday morning there was snow on the ground. Monday there was a rumble of thunder and a flashbulb illumination of the clouds; Tuesday was bright. The winds are strong and unconcerned with mortal affairs; they blow hard and constant, scouring away the remnant dead leaves and winter-weakened branches. The wind filled the ripped roof of the gazebo like a schooner’s sail and moved the heavy metal frame four feet to the east. The dog points his nose into the stream and samples the offal of Chicago. March is a highly underrated month.
Tuesday, which are done with, is a correctly rated day, though. Tuesday is the worst. Tuesday is the cold-pizza-from-Saturday-for-lunch day, the sock-with-a-hole-in-the-toe day, the day you realize that you actually read a Garfield cartoon day, the day when you are out of coffee filters and have to rinse out the old one without breaking it, which you manage to do anyway. I love Mondays; I love the return of the workday routines, the sense of heading out to sea again. Fridays, of course, are perfection. Thursday is my favorite, because everything is possible on Thursdays. Wednesdays are good for one reason: Because Tuesday is behind us.
I have undertaken a project of significant heft and duration, and you’ll never see it.
Correction: two projects, and you’ll see one. I started to cut and resize and write a massive site about drug store industry magazines, and you will love it. A heretofore unexplored aspect of 1960 culture with no presence on the web as far as I can tell. Would you like a preview? Of course.
Everything in the magazines was aimed at the drug store industry, not the average consumer - so it's an entirely different set of ideas and themes. It's amazing.
Four hundred pages, coming in 2018 in the Friday slot. Yes, I prepare that far ahead. I am 55 pages into 2018’s site Sic Transit Gloriaswansonmundi, which details lost 20s silent movie stars. Forty-five pages into Scoop the Cub Reporter, a really crappy 1916 daily comic that makes Jerry on the Job look pretty good - and I do like Jerry on the Job, if only because it harkens back to the early Oughts version of this site.
Fifty-two pages into the Bicentennial Sears Catalog.
Twenty-six pages into Frank Reade Jr. . . . in Color!
But that’s not the big project.
I am reediting old family videos. There are times in a man’s life when he has to face the facts: at some point, and I don’t know how, I screwed up the aspect ratios.
And I’m man enough to admit it.
I first picked up a video camera in 1986; those sequences are degraded and blurry, but I have a few. Before I left for Washington DC I memorialized one last night at the Giant Swede’s apartment watching football with The Guys.
One of them is in the wind, even though we know he’s around somewhere; the other cut us off. Which stings. But watching the footage brought back 1990 as if it was yesterday, and I edited the shots and uploaded them to a private-access page on my Vimeo account and emailed the Guys with the link and the password. It’s their history too.
The stuff I have from the early 90s looks like I was shooting underwater from the inside of a tub of Vaseline’ don’t know if it’s the degraded tape or the limitations of the original media. Probably both. Looked fine back then, but now you wonder: did everyone just have bad vision? How did we put up with this?
I edited every moment of Daughter’s life, but when I was looking through the videos searching for a particular moment in 2004, I realized that the aspect rations were off and the resolution was horrid. Many years ago I had sighed and said “well, this is a thing I should do” and digitized all the raw tapes, possibly so Daughter could see the whole story instead of relying on what Dad selected. When I called up the raw footage I saw the aspect ratio was correct, I realized what an immense job laid before me. I had to do it all again. With a consistent soundtrack and typefaces for the titles!
That’s what really bugs me. Aesthetically, my daughter’s childhood is a mess.
It’s not for me. It’s for Daughter. It’s backstory and context. It’s what she doesn’t remember, and can’t, but made her who she was. Literally: I found a monologue I made to the camera at 3 AM pre-delivery. Wife, pre-birth, with monitors hanging off her, walking around the room. Tape was rolling throughout the birth, from a discreet angle.It looks like convenience store security-cam footage, but it’s real and it matters.
Actually, it was convenience store security-cam footage; I had to pay a fortune to the clerk for a copy. Bastard. And just when the birth happened the feed switches to the pumps. There's not even anyone out there.
Perhaps the point is this, as we approach Daughter Departure Date: you think this is the start of your life, kid. Leaving. I understand. Completely. But it’s actually the start of the second series. The spin-off. Here’s the prequel.
And so I begin to give it all another look.
UPDATE: Since I wrote that a few nights ago I have gone back to the DVDs on which I burned the movies in Apple’s iDVD format, and discovered that all the original VOB files have the correct aspect ratio, so to hell with all that work.
If anything, it reminds me to shoot more. You always do the early years, and then comes the era when they don’t want you to film because WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS. You’re not directing a movie anymore, you’re just trying to get some scraps wherever you can, and that’s why so much of the last year consists of Scout. If I stand upstairs on the landing and shoot her playing with Scout, and she catches me, it’s DAD COME ON, and you can’t say “someday you’ll thank me.”
We actually believe that day will come, don’t we?
Over the course of the last decade and a half I would just go into Daughter’s room and shoot the walls and floor and desktops and things she found interesting or symbolic. I am fully prepared to be accused of being CREEPY because SERIOUSLY REALLY DAD? Fine.
I have three or four pictures of my childhood room. Some things persist. Remnants remain and reappear as the years pass; you see something, and it triggers buried charges. I was watching “Colony” the other night - it’s standard cable serial sci-fi high-concept fair, but it’s good. A long-lost son is rescued, and his little sister shows him his room in new home, the room that has some stuff from his old life.
Ping ping ping ping
Right there is the reason I do the Frank Reade Jr site. Can you tell what it is?
Here's something else I found from the blurry outtakes. There's a second where the camera captures a corner of my room in the previous house.
The object in the middle-upper-right? Looks maybe like a robot? I guarantee you I'm the only person in the world who knows what that is, just because I had it and it was in my room.
Any guesses? Answer tomorrow.
We've seen Mr. Mason get a bit simplistic when it comes to making moral arguments, but that may be the result of his meter and its limitations. What have we today? And by "today" I mean 1915:
"But in the end we hate him." Hard to argue.
We are at present studying the criminal strategies of the man known only as . . .
This week it's nothin' but punchin'. And it's great.
Another card for Speed? He's really coming up in the world.
I had no idea there was someone named Gort in this serial. At all.
When last we saw the Copperhead, he was under a fallen beam, and everything blew up because Mr. Dr. Satan’s henchmen had about 50 cans of POWDER heaped in the cave. Well:
Well, it’s off to the P&G Warehouse to talk to Mr. Wilson, whose name was on the scrap of paper. The henchmen show up, pick up some Tungite, and Bob and Speed hide in the office. That goes as well as expected:
This sequence brings a note of levity to the supercharged fisticuffs:
And then there’s Copperhead doing his Spidey thing:
My God the hits just keep on coming:
I’M WAHKIN’ HEAH
Bob Wayne - who is in reality, etc - jumps on the truck loaded with Tungite, and slips into the Secret Smelting Smelter. He calls Spunky Daughter, whose father was forced to work with Dr. Satan, and tells her to alert the DA. He’s spotted right away by henchmen, and since at least 2 minutes have passed since a fistfight, we have another battle, ending atop a big gas tank. It’s a bigger scale than you usually get in a serial:
And all of a sudden:
The plot wasn’t advanced an inch. Barely any Dr. Satan at all. No robots. All action. And it was awesome.
That'll do! See you around.