We're allll done with this stuff.

A few days ago the ridge on the bottom was so high I almost flattened a Yorkie. Couldn't see the dog or the woman who was walking him. I felt guilty for a second, but perhaps the rattling sound of the opening garage door and red automobile pulling out was sufficient warning.

Every day over freezing, it recedes - but also, it hardens. The rain comes and the hillocks are covered with a carapace of ice.

And THAT, my friends, is the sound of a man typing at the end of a day in which absolutely nothing of distinction happened. That's fine; rote is good, if you've things to get done.

Perhaps I should start a weekly feature called "Interactions I Could Have Done Without, inasmuch as no lives were saved or changed as far as I know, but that nevertheless brought a note to the day of joy that would not occur if everyone stayed home and stared at the screens." This was one:

I was going up the elevator, and a fellow was coming down. But wait, there's more! He stood out, inasmuch as he was here in the first place in the diminished world of downtown, but mostly for the red suit jacket. Deep bright red. Perfectly matching tie. Sneakers with red accents. I shot him a finger and said That’s. A Sharp Look.

He lit up and said he tried to keep all the colors together, he liked to look sharp, and I said I was a big fan of consistent color palettes too, and by then I’m near the top of the escalator and he’s near the bottom, and he opens his jacket and says: LOOK!

Red suspenders.

Braces! I shouted down. You win downtown today, my friend.

Thank you sir, he said with great cheer. You made my day.

Maybe I did. The whole thing made mine. Imagine a world in which two or three times a day you tell a stranger "that's a great shirt" or "cool shoes." It would probably get old after a while. Okay, so it's once a week. Is it mandatory? you ask. No, because then everyone would forget and then get it out of the way on Friday. There are worse ways to go into the weekend, but you'd doubt the sincerity.










“Obsession” is overused and bleached of its meaning. If you really like something, do you think of it constantly, to the exclusion of all else? Are you having trouble functioning in society because you’re obsessed with this lipstick? No. Thenword is used to indicate “keen, persistent interest.”



By the rules of modern identity politics, she has no standing to write this piece. It’s like sending a straight guy to write a piece about women obsessed with a 19th century costume romance. What could he possibly bring to the piece, except for incorrect assumptions, stereotypes, his own ingrained sexism?


I don’t believe that for a moment, though. The author could draw on a lifetime of experience of observing the opposite sex and her own experience as an adult in Western Civilization, and write an insightful, respectful piece. I just like to point out that we’re not supposed to think that’s possible if it’s going the other direction. Women can write about anything, but men - well, they’d best not write at all, for a while. Sit down and listen!

Anyway. It’s amusing that this piece has to be written at all, as though there’s some curious sociological mystery here.

Twenty years after it was released in theaters, Master and Commander has found a new life on the internet, simultaneously the subject of memes and sincerely beloved by a certain type of guy (gender neutral).

I don’t know what that means, unless she’s saying that guy-type gals can like it too. Which of course they can. But they’re not the subject of the piece. I suppose it’s a way of blunting the inevitable YOU’RE WRONG I’M A FEMALE AND I LOVE THIS MOVIE, as if describing one subset of fans constitutes gatekeeping and exclusion.

Here’s the first quote from a fan:

Many of the film’s most vocal fans are in their thirties. If they originally saw it in their tween or teen years, their relationship with the movie only deepened as they grew older. Think of it as the male biological clock: Alex Yablon, who works for the New York City Council, said that he rewatched the movie after the birth of his first child.

[I can hear the uptalk in this passage below- ed]

“For me, personally, there's a lot of stuff that I have gotten into as I have accepted that I'm in my mid-thirties, that I'm a dad, that I'm boring now. I do boring shit, I read boring history books, and I mostly am pretty fine with that. I’m okay with being a little bit of a goofy, boring dad,” Yablon told me. “And I think that the way of sheepishly admitting that and kind of making fun of that a little bit is by being into such a cliché dad thing: naval adventure stories.”

Jeezum Crow, man, have some dignity. How common is this auto-cringe?

Here’s a particularly incoherent response:

Rachel Millman, the writer and Wrestlesplania podcast host, brought up his specific appeal. “He's very much a ‘dudes rock’ type of guy,” she said. “I don't think dudes rock is exclusive to men anymore. You're underselling yourself when you're like, ‘This is a thing for boys.’ No, it's just the attitude of ‘that guy rocks, he does what he wants, he's great.’”

Well heaven forfend we have a thing for boys, of course, but “dudes rock” is a guy thing, inasmuch as it’s an attitude tied to an archetype with certain characteristics. Maybe let guys have this for a while? Also, Ms. Millman, can you speak in terms more sophisticated than a Wayne's World character? That would be great.

There’s a quote from one of the men who willed the movie into existence:

Tom Rothman, the current chairman of Sony’s Motion Picture Group, was the chairman and CEO at Fox when Master and Commander was released. The film was his personal project: a longtime fan of the books, he had been attempting the project for 15 years. “I had to become the chairman of a major motion picture studio before I could get it made,” he told me.

“Why the books, I believe, endure is because they combine the epic and the intimate. They have epic action and daring in them,” Rothman said. “And I'm like any guy. I love that shit. ‘Oh man, they're going to take that ship’ and all that stuff. That's fucking great. Right? But they're also very intimate and personal. They combine the epic and the intimate, and that's what great historical movies do.”

Thank you, Tim, but you don’t have to sound like a bro. You really don’t. You’re all grown up. Talk like an adult. Use your church words if you have to.

The most lyrical and correct description of the movie comes from a guy who does a leftie podcast, which reminds you that the love of the movie is politically ecumenical. If it were not, or if the writer had been assigned to find out why so many right-wing men and “cultural restoration” and “trad” types were drawn to the movie, the author might have found someone on the left who applied the necessary Presentism, and decried the idealization of a militaristic, colonialist, white supremicist culture. “Really, it’s just ‘Top Gun’ with mizzenmasts for the tiki-torch set.”

In a just world we’d have more “Master and Commander” movies, and fewer installations of quippy noisy Marvel nonsense. (And I say that as a lifelong fan of Marvel, albeit one bored and annoyed by the recent iterations.) Everyone notes that they don’t make movies like this anymore. They could. But they don’t want to.




It’s 1849.

Well, it is the National Whig, so it would have more text than the Local Whig. But jeez.

How much of this is news, you wonder? How much is ads?


Really? That’s your extraordinary medicine?




Sarsaparilla was popular in the United States in the 19th century. According to advertisements for patent medicines of the period, it was considered to be a remedy for skin and blood problems. Ruth Tobias notes that it evokes images of "languid belles and parched cowboys".

Sarsaparilla is sometimes considered to be a type of root beer. There are dozens of brands of sarsaparilla made by microbreweries, mainly in the United States.

Three thousand cases of Female Complaints, cured by root beer!

I remember drinking some in 1977. Someone was trying to revive it, but the effort was short-lived. People tried it, shrugged, and said "but why? There's Hires."

Leahey, the Awful Disclosure Man:

It took about five minutes of googling to figure this one out. The keywords “Awful Disclosure” took me to the scandal of Maria Monk.

Maria Monk (June 27, 1816 – summer of 1849) was a Canadian woman whose book Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, or, The Hidden Secrets of a Nun’s Life in a Convent Exposed (1836) claimed to expose systematic sexual abuse of nuns and infanticide of the resulting children by Catholic priests in her convent in Montreal. The book became a best-seller.

A NYT story from 1852 says that a certain Rev. Lehey, the “converted monk,” had caused a riot in Baltimore when he gave a lecture. The excerpt in the Whig says he was “disturbed in his labor of love,” which was “detraction, and money making.” I expect he was making Anti-Catholic speeches, and locals objected with vigor.

This guy offed himself and BTW, the paper would like to criticize him:

Well, let’s see what’s on the next page OH MY GOD

You don't know where to start, except at the top, on the left. Settle in and make sure you've sustenance to keep body and soul together. Pour a big glass of sarsparilla, for starters.

I’m guessing this is New York. Ices of every kind, and the Choicest Plants!

Sounds as if a gentleman could wet his whistle well.

The address is now the home of Scholastic books.

This sounds like a lively and quirky rag:

Matthews ended up at the U of Chicago, as a professor of “Belle Lettres.” One copy was on eBay once, but not any more. It merged with the Boston Portfolio in 1865.


My God, the ads of the day were so much work.

Now two ways to chip in!

That'll do - a short trip to 1955 interiors awaits. See you tomorrow.



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