I think today we reach the absolute height of irrelevance. But IT'S MY BLOG and I can do what I want. Pffffft. (Note: not actually pffffting at you.)

Here's something I saw for a few days in the office lobby, and it reminded me how well the human brain figures things out.


Context is everything, of course, but when you see it you understand there are three planes here. The empty sign, the handrail, the grid of glass and steel in the background.

Looking at this picture, you might think the handrail goes through the frame, but when you're there you know it doesn't. Because you just know all sorts of things you never have to think about.


Navigating every day consists of knowing a million things you never have to think about.

"You're just bringing that up because you couldn't make it into a Bleat banner. No matter how you tweaked it, it lacked that je ne sais quoi that made it look like 'art' to you."

Oh shut up

(note: I did not actually mean shut up.)

Since this is Tuesday, and we have the Comics Obscura updates, I thought I would let you know how the Photoshop AI program handles 1920s art, and generates additional imagery to fill out a wider image.

Not well.

The result, like so much of what you get from vague AI prompts, is nightmarish:

They're alarmed by the feathery hell-port opening up, unaware that they are about to be mauled by a blind monster wearing a Princess Leia headpiece.

And again: This time we have a Francis Bacon grounp on the left, but the lads are alarmed by the presence of a pig with a lattice-work pie crust head, sitting among strewn musical notes.

Melt-Face Cometh, while the apparition on the left summons NO into existence

I don't know why I'm fascinated with these ungodly things, but I am. I also tried the illustration for matchbooks:

I can imagine that in a museum. Some assemblage from the mid-Sixties.

It did pretty good with the Motel illo:

But there's the same dream-like vagueness, the sense that something was invented too quickly, and you shouldn't look too close.

And now, part two of "What does this appliance beep remind you of?"

  The second name-that-tune challenge.











I may have mentioned that Daughter was interested in Cold War nuclear dread movies. I sent her Fail Safe and Strangelove, the two takes on the same thing. But then I remembered something else that’s one of the best period pieces of the 80s:

Special Bulletin. It’s an account of a nuclear terrorism incident as seen through the medium of a fictional TV news show. It gets just about everything right, and to watch it from the distance of four decades is to sink into the tropes and beats of the era. The graphics:

At the time I thought the “Flashpoint” graphic was a bit much, but okay. In the movie one of the terrorists, who’s on a live feed with a captured reporter, comments on how they’ve already got a logo and a theme for this, which is meta-meta.

Ed Flanders plays a gravitas-soaked anchor literally described as “the dean” of the network’s new team, reminding you of the days when every channel had its Walt. These were godlike figures when I was growing up. Walt of course was the top, and the others were like non-Coke colas, with the ABC guy being the RC Cola, but they had authority.

The worst thing that could happen when you were young was when one of these guys broke into regular programming. Not just because it meant your show wasn’t on, but because you sensed this was big, and this was bad.

I noted to Daughter that she would enjoy finding one of the actors from her favorite TV shows, if not THE favorite, in this cast. He would pop up in one of my favorite episodes of Miami Vice, as a CIA agent who was really KGB, and he went up against Castillo, who faced him off in Samurai stance. At the time we somehow figured yeah sure Castillo was probably part Samurai, he was into that stuff. Which made no sense. Why would Castillo be Samurai? He wasn’t Japanese. He was . . .

Well, what was he?

Depressed, sullen, removed, brusque, hoarse, and unhappy, is what he was. But man, did he command respect. We knew he had been in the deep ordure. He had seen things. Nam, man.

In retrospect it seems odd that the Miami Vice Unit consisted of two undercover guys whose cover should have been blown long ago, two prostie decoys, and two mopes running a Laurel-and-Hardy routine.

Anyway. The CIA-KGB guy was named Surf, and when he faced off Samurai Castillo, he was impressed: “When you go,” he said, “you go all the way.” That was our Castillo. That line stuck with me, for some reason. I think Sonny shot Surf dead, one of 78 confirmed kills he got in the series’ run.

As for what role the actor would play in Daughter’s favorite show, the clue might be here. I sent her this clip of a stroll down the lawless dystopian streets of Minneapolis, and asked her if she heard it. The theme.

She did.

(BTW, all of Special Bulletin is on YouTube.)






It’s 1949.

Here’s a lot of curly French stuff because Rococo is a big part of the 40s aesthetic. You might not have anything like those hooks or candle-holders or spore-growths or whatever they are, but you can have these patterned towels.

They look like they’d be on the scratchy thin side.

No more Berlin-type situations at your breakfast table!

The whole family will be pleased when the inexplicable tensions of the adults ebbs for reasons they can ascribe to something as comprehensible as a new cereal. Daddy really does love Mommy! All it took was a wider selection of morning grains!


The idea of a seasonal pack has faded from advertising. Now it’s just all assumed to have an equal level of freshness, or lack thereof, all year.

Hiawatha Land! Because, of course, Minnesota. By the shores of gitcheegoomie etc. Although LeSueur is a ways from Hiawatha Falls, where a statue commemorating the poem can be found.


Okay, Moms and Dads, this one’s going to be on you if you don’t take care.

“Don’t use gasoline for cleaning.” That one’s easy, I guess. At least nowadays. Back then gas - or benzene - would be something Mom would reach for when getting stubborn stains out of nightgowns.


“The 138 orphans and the telephone girls who made it all possible.” Guess the Bell System had a strict policy on unwed motherhood.

You wonder just when The Clown tipped over from Symbol of Gaiety and Laughter to something else. That’s Emmett Kelly, of course; every damned ad with a clown had Emmett Kelly, Famous Presenter of Poverty and Poor Fortune who Nonetheless Saw the Beauty and Humor in Life.

Proctor-proud party part!

Long, solid career. Married to Peter Gunn.

She also starred in the short-lived 1988 series Hothouse, and was nominated for an Emmy Award for her guest appearance on Cheers in 1990.

Now two ways to chip in!


That'll do! Except for this.

  I hear it every time.



blog comments powered by Disqus