Snow was the verdict on Friday. Not just early snow, but its evilest incarnation: snow that accumulates. Snow that persists. The idea brought dark malaise to the state, since it meant we would have six months of winter, and the day would darken soon when Daylight Savings Time kicked in or expired or whatever it does.
I went to the porch to take pictures, because it didn’t seem fair that this should be cut off in prime autumn. Once the snow sticks around it’s just lipstick on a corpse.
All day it spat and rained and yes, it snowed; it gathered on the lawn, in the upturned palms of dead leaves . . . but it did not cover the world. It did not persist. The psychological effect of this was sufficient to make me dance Zorba-style through the entire weekend.
Ready, then, for Halloween! Decorations are up, and quite effective.
It's going to be about 31 degrees out, though.
TRICK OR TREAT
Oh my! Why, it's a goblin underneath a parka, Elsa underneath a parka, Olaf under a parka, and Batman under a parka.
What was the main accomplishment of the weekend? The usual - but with one thrilling event.
The most interesting words in the English language must be “Semi-annual Postcard Show”!
But only if followed immediately by “now includes a shameless bacchanal” or “has been cancelled due to nameless horrors awakened from their godless sleep” or anything that suggests people are doing something besides sitting in chairs looking at postcards. But there I was, sitting in a chair, looking at postcards.
To tell you the truth I wouldn’t go at all if it wasn’t for this site.
Really. I mean, I love looking at motel postcards. There’s something evocative about the humble hostels with their bright metal signs; there’s always something learned when I look for the location on google. But would I make a point of collecting them if I hadn’t gotten into the rhythm of posting three a week for three-quarters of the year? No.
Same with restaurant postcards: it’s a litany of supper-club mediocrity, for the most part: wagon-wheel chandeliers, empty rooms perfectly arranged, waiting for the humans to come and put the meat in their mouths so it can be dissolved by acids in their stomachs. They’re a break from the motels. A piece of American vernacular history. I buy them and post them because I'd love to find a site with 200 old restaurant postcards, just for an afternoon's amusement.
Also, because I think this site is, in its scope and detail, the most idiosyncratic and approachable museum of 20th century American culture on the internet. I wouldn't say so if asked to describe it, but I would assent to the verdict if someone else described it thus.
Scoff? Google "Motel Postcards." Or "Matchbook Museum."
There’s always someone who deals in ephemera, which is a different matter. Catalogs, matchbooks, labels - the amount of loose paper from every era is astonishing, and I’ll bet what survived is 5% of what was made. There are entire categories of things you don’t know about - something you realize when you see a glassine envelope of Union Dues receipts with tiny pins for the Railway Conductors Local 3084 or whatever. A different pin for every year.
Eight dollars; I didn’t buy it. Leave that for the guy who’s trying to get a complete set; he’ll be thrilled.
Or not. You never hear a whoop of triumph as someone finds that one last card that completes the set, or discovers something that changes their opinion of their collection utterly. Collecting is a private thing, and everyone’s in their own little world, sifting and judging.
The woman sitting next to me at one of the tables was curious about the date of a card, and handed it over to the dealer. He was able to nail it down to a 15-year period based on an abbreviation in the stamp box, which identified the manufacturer. Whoa. Now, it’s not that esoteric; if you know the detiology world, you know that real-photo cards were often Kodak prints people sent off to be turned into postcards, and there was one big printer, and they used their initials in the stamp box, and the genre died out at a certain time. But it’s still a reminder of the atomic detail that attends any sort of collecting enterprise, and it’s why I steer clear of any postcard club or organization. I know nothing.
Although I do know about Raleigh catalogs, DAMMIT, so now I have to buy the ones that are too cheap to pass up. At some point I bought one at Hunt & Gather, because it would be fun to scan and post and there wasn’t anyone else doing it. That led to some other patent medicine / extract / vitamin house-lady books, and now I have a fargin’ site about it. (Can’t link, because it’s part of a future update.)
How could I resist this, from 1929? It’s just lovely.
Now let’s flash-forward thirty years.
Something seems a bit amiss. There’s not an expression on that cover that seems reassuring. Mom looks almost contemptuous - ha ha you bought the god stuff - and blonde daughter looks uneasy, while brown-haired daughter seems lost in a plot of her own devious devising.
I also could not resist the SCIENCE OF NARD:
It’s 1942; the war will be won by scientists who stare at things being poured from one vessel into another. Note: you will not see this again for at least a year, probably two.
The art inside these books is delightful, and while I was looking through the 1929 book I realized something that I guaranteed not one of you has ever thought in your life, ever. EVER. Namely:
“Now that I have enough 1920s clipart, I should just redo all the art that goes to the left of the google ad in one style, and save all the 50s-style 2018 google-ad left-hand art for 2019."
No, that will only work through the first four months on Tuesday during the 20s updates.
“So . . . should the left-side google-ad art echo the era of the update below? Wouldn’t that be a good idea?”
That’s the level of tweaking that goes on in my head about this site. Which is why I am the sort of person who hears “Semi-annual Postcard Show,”and thinks “I 'd better be off, then..” You'll be glad I did some day.
More rescued photos from the antique store.
Sis, or wife, or aunt, or mom, or daughter, in her finery:
Don't @ me for identifying her relation to other people. She had to be one of those. Someone who knew her took the picture and kept it. She's certainly quite self-possessed, and while I know nothing about the fashion of the day I'm reasonably certain that outfit cost a packet.
By the way, as we go forward this week, remember: this is usually the condition of the pictures.
It's also about an inch and a half wide.
Quite the merry crew:
It was the convention to be somber, of course. But it seems to come quite naturally to these folk.
The 'stache hid a lot in those days. It rendered a man quite inscrutible.
She has a certain peppery presence:
I wouldn't argue with her. I don't think that would be wise.
Here's what you might be thinking: is this connected to the American one in the 70s that everyone thought was so incredible?
Any why isn't Lon Chaney in this one? That's an odd choice for a sequel.
Well, it's not a sequel.
We're in the Tibetian mountains, where everyone wears robes and has great wisdom. Our hero is looking for a certain flower that feeds on moonlight.
Oh. and speaking of the moon, our hero doesn't notice someone else who dines on the reflected photons:
A fight follows, and our hero's bitten. He doesn't seem the worse for wear, and goes back to England to continue his Research in his Laboratory:
He has all the usual devices that go crackle-crackle and hum and make other sounds to indicate Science. He has a Moonlight Generator, too:
He's working on the mysteries of the moonlight flower. When reading up on the lore, he stumbles across an important plot point:
You have to kill someone to avoid permanent werewolfitis. Note: in monster movies, the "Full Moon" lasts about six days.
While performing an experiment on the flower, he notices something unusual. Oh crap:
But he rubs some juice from the plant on his skin, and the hair goes away. He’s invented Nair!
Well, someone snips off the flowers, depriving him of access to the cure. And then this happens.
It’s a pretty good transition, and works better than having the guys stand there while they pause the camera and someone sticks hair on his face.
Well, he goes on a reign of terror, mostly communicated by newspaper headlines.
FAKE PAPER UNCONVINCING
SUBHEAD POORLY LAID OUT.
He makes for a deucedly civilized looking werewolf, don’t you know; keeping up appearances and all that.
He makes for a deucedly civilized looking werewolf, don’t you know; keeping up appearances and all that, although he is prone to his beastly moments. Literally.
This is a longer clip that usual but it'll show you the style, the score, and the fact that English werewolves don't have much choking power.
We learn that he can be overpowered with a shoe. Or a belt. Or a vulcan neck pinch. It’s hard to tell.
At the end, bang: and a most English ending.
The policeman says, in essence, “I’ll cover this up, milady, don’t worry,” and then we cut to a plane. Why?
To transition into this:
Introducing the new logo? If so, did all the Universal movies of the era have the same plane-oriented ending? You'd think I would research that before posting this, wouldn't you.
What counts is this: a necessary movie for any Universal Monster horror fan, or someone interested in 30s culture. The latter matters. It's the lynchpin. It's the source material for everything that echoed through the culture for 70 years.
I just said that off the top of my head, but I suspect I might be on to something. Or at least repeating the thesis of people who know the subject much better than I do.
That'll do; see you around.