Yes, the fall banners are up in the 333 Skyway, the Burma-shave sequence that tells us we should be like everyone else at the 333 Building and enjoy the outdoors. They often have musical groups playing on the lawn at lunch; yesterday they had a quartet of pickle-bucket whappers, percussing in unison in a style that's initially interesting but produces a headache after a minute or two. It reminded me of DC, where pickle-bucket drummers set up on streetcorners and made a racket all day, hoping for donations. You would have been thought rude if you asked them to go away. Everyone was required to suffer for their art.
So the people who went to work outside as per the skyway baner instructions had to listen to four people sack amplified bongos while they tried to write a memo.
Maybe the signs are trying to rot capitalism from within: sit at your desk. Collect a salary, but do nothing.
Birch does not want to go on walks. Yet. I leashed him up, and he got a bit nervous, because the leash means something scary, namely, the terrifying world beyond the fence. I opened the gate. Bade him to come. He looked out at the land beyond with the same wide-eyed expression, and wouldn’t go. This will pass, but for now it’s a Sherlock Holmes-story twist. No, Watson, it was the dog that didn't go walkies.
We don't say walkies, by the way.
I’ll say this about the fellow: he belongs to me like no other dog I’ve had, mainly because of his breed. I think dogs break down into three categories: Chum, Peer, or Tot. The first are dogs who are happy to be with you, because you’re pals. You’re great friends. The second are dogs who are somewhat apart in temperament; you’re the boss, but that’s how things worked out, not because you’re like God or something. The Tots are the dogs you treat like little furry infants, and behave like excitable toys. Jasper and Scout were Peers. Birch is a Chum.
He’s a wonderful little dog and we love him and yes, I think about Scout still and get a pang. There are things you miss that mean nothing - the way he always was certain to go to the High School yard on his walk, because once he found a chicken sandwich there. Two years ago.
It’s the loss of the continuity of the trivial history of daily life. But that history changes daily.
Not entirely, though. We couldn't cope if our histories changed daily. Ther has to be continuity, which we prize, until it feels like a rut, and then we curse it. Today I had to restock the kitchen cabinet Wife and Daughter access the most, usually in the morning. Cereal, lunch stuff, breakfast bars, oatmeal, pita chips. There’s a small metal bucket with a jack-o-lantern face, and I’ve no idea why it’s there, but it’s been there for years, and I've used it as the place to put the last few breakfast bars, because
Oh, here’s a picture.
When I open a new box of breakfast bars, they go in the upper right plastic bin, and the last one from the old box goes in the pumpkin bucket. The basket on the back left is popcorn. The tall plastic basket is for Daughter’s dried mango. There’s a container of straws because she used to use straws, but doesn’t anymore; like many things in the domestic environment, a habitually used object persists for a while before it’s repositioned.
This arrangement has been constant for almost a decade, but the cast of characters changes. For a while the popcorn was a Walgreens house brand, but they discontinued it. There was a multi-year run of Traders Joe popcorn, but they discontinued it. Now it’s Skinny Girl, for GOD’S SAKE this is what I’m reduced to. Skinny Girl popcorn. That's because it's 130 calories per bag. If you look at the other caloric information grids, they're like this:
Or something useless like that. Calories unpopped is my favorite piece of nutritional information ever; it suggests there are people who tear off a bit like chewing tobacco and keep it in their cheek until it's soft enough to eat.
Anyway. There are four boxes in the daily pantry downstairs, and they’ve taken the place of the stack of Traders Joe boxes.
The trivial continuity. There has always been a TV in the corner of the kitchen / family room where I am now. Three TVs over 17 years, two TV stands. But there has always been a TV.
When I used to go home from college I was always a bit dismayed by the way things never changed. Didn’t they know how stuck they were? Then they remodeled the kitchen and it wasn’t home as much any more. How dare they.
A few weeks ago, a break in the new continuity: The Amazon Echo broke. I had a smaller unit in another room, which I repositioned to the kitchen. Crappy speaker. No one was happy, so I bought a refurbished replacement, and now there's a tall Echo back in the accustomed spot.
Look who’s back, I sad to Daughter, pointing out the tall Echo.
“You said ‘who,’” she said.
Yes, I guess I did. The Dot seemed to be channeling Our True, Real Alexa from a distant place over a bad connection. Now Alexa is home again!
But I’m the old guy who’s fully conversant in these new voice-activated technologies, and you’re the young-un who resists. Wait until Siri shows up on the other counter.
There will be a HomePod right there, where the old radio used to be. Remember the black radio? It had great sound. Then it died. Alexa took over the radio duties.
Rewind. Many years ago at the old house on Girard, I had a Bose Wave Radio, because Paul Harvey told me to buy one. Who? Never mind. It was white, because the kitchen was white. Then Wife took it to work, so I bought a black one for the new house. The white one died, so she took the black one to work, and Alexa stepped in to do radio duties. But I'm going to get a HomePod to sit in the old Bose’s spot, facing off Alexa across the room, because the HomePod will let me play all of my music.
So the HomePod will be an innovation to the house that keeps us from looking like we’re fossilized in amber. There was one radio on the counter when I was growing up. It had wood-grained plastic. Paul Harvey spoke from its grille.
Later they got a boombox with a CD player. Every time I came home the same CD was on the spindle. I don’t know why but that said everything.
History changes daily, until the day it doesn’t. And then the great smothering quilt descends, and it’s just a matter of sitting around and waiting.
I do not want that to happen.
Like yesterday, a show that lasted beyond one season. So it's technically not part of Fail Season. Checkmate had two seasons, and it’s possible that the theme was one of the reasons. Take it away, Johnny W:
And by "Johnny W" I mean John Williams.
Created by Eric Ambler, the program chronicles the cases of the San Francisco detective agency called Checkmate, Inc. Don Corey and Jed Sills run the agency, which specializes in preventing crimes before they happen from Corey's stylish apartment supposedly at 3330 Union Street. Sebastian Cabot portrays Dr. Hyatt, a college professor whom they employ as an adviser. Dr. Hyatt's dachshund, Bismarck, occasionally appears.
CBS replaced the show with the Beverly Hillbillies.
Look at the way they keep you up to date. Look familiar?
I think it’s the first time I’ve seen that type of crawl in a serial. You know, the famous serial crawl. It’s all shot over a strange aerial view of Times Square:
I don’t know if it’s a model or not; if it’s the former, then it’s from something else. Anyway, no doubt The Green Hornet got out of the way of the water and found a tunnel in which to hide?
No; nothing that implausible. So he takes the dying man to the hospital . . .
. . . and of course, lacing and untacing.
Britt, as Editor, is now in the crusading newspaperman mode, writing strong editorials. The shady construction syndicate is peeved; their unseen boss tells them to lie low. We learn there are 11 members of this conspiracy; that happens to be the number of episodes left.
But hey, hey, where’s the robots? The mad scientist? The secret remote control? Is this actually a straight-ahead story about crooks? Excellent.
Well, time to go talk to Mr. Mortinson, and that means we get the weekly take-off of the Black Beauty.
This guy was cooler than Batman.
Still as that name recognition problem, though.
Maybe if he wore green, and had a stinger?
Anyway, there are complications; a cop shows up, get shot by a hench, and Mortinson pins it all on the Green Hornet which is SO UNFAIR!!!!
The Green Hornet and Kato go back to Mortinson’s safe to get proof that the company is building substandard crap so they can insure the workers and collect when they croak. By now the safe has been booby-trapped, so they blow it up. No luck. Chase to get the bad guys, who have the incriminating documents and have OF COURSE hijacked a freight train to make their getaway.