I wonder if there's a name for the pain you get in your neck and your shoulders because you've been looking down at your phone all day reading news and opinions. I know, I know, it's a depressing sign of our times, everyone looking down at their phones, and in one sense I agee, but in another, think of the phones as books, or newspapers. If we looked at old photos that showed men in suits and women in dresses and hats walking around reading books or newspapers, we'd think what a literate world, what a culture! We wouldn't care what they were reading, only that they were reading. We might feel differently about people who were reading mail or telegrams, I suppose.

And now for something completely expected:

My Michael Palin interview - well, excerpts - is here. Non-paywalled

All right, enough of the world for the moment. Something of minor importance because

Last week, the 5th I believe, was the 50th anniversary of the release of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, a double album named for its most overplayed and perhaps least interesting song. Everyone sing along: HUNTING THE HORNY-BACK TOAD

In retrospect, you wonder what Elton might have meant by that. (Yes yes I know Bernie Taupin etc etc)

I’m not here to delve into the details - although it is really a remarkable piece of work from someone en route to total transformation into a campy kitschy pop star, and then a sort-of has-been, and then the guy who was Still Standing, and eventually whatever role Reg serves now. It’s a work whose depth and diversity he never matched, and he probably didn’t have to.

Rather, this: the extent to which that album had an impact makes me wonder if there’s a comparable example today. Whether playlists have replaced albums. It’s rare I find an album that does something for me now - Kinobe was the last example - but perhaps I’m not trying hard enough. I'm content to skate from tune to tune in the channel.

In the olden times you didn’t go out and buy the album if you merely liked a song; somehow a single might satisfy your entire curiosity. The other day on the 70s channel “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” came on, and a raft of recollections were instantly summoned. How we liked it well enough; how Casey Kasem probably told us how Elvin Bishop had been kicking around for years before this breakout song; how cruelly they truncated the solo. I ended up seeing him in concert because he was an opening act. Enjoyed the song. Never felt interested in the album.

But when your guys came out with an album, well, that was an event. I remember exactly where I went after I bought Yellow Brick Road: to the little restaurant in the back of Dayton’s department store at West Acres. A counter and a few booths. I had a hamburger. In those days it was not surprising at all for a department store to have a restaurant, and Dayton’s in Minneapolis had a fine-dining place upstairs. The Southdale Dayton’s had a nice restaurant downstairs. Elegant places for the ladies of means, nice middle-class cafes for the middle-class shoppers. You could probably say that the rise of food courts was better because you had more variety and lower prices.

You could.

But there’s something about the old culture of the department store eatery with cloth napkins, and a menu that had a special section for guests who were reducing (Cottage cheese, hamburger patty, coffee), and food on a plate instead of a tray.

Another note about getting that album from your guys: you got a rill of excitement when you saw the first song was 11:10. Eleven minutes on an Elton album? Hold on hold on, there’s MELLOTRON?









We must talk about The Color again. It hasn’t stopped.

You’d think that after a whole year of this, they’d come up with a new hue. But the ads still push this unnatural tint. I see it when I watch football, and it’s gotten to the point where Ulysses the Crazy Uke notes it. There’s your color. Of course, he’s noticing me taking pictures of the TV, so.

There are two variants, now that I think of it. One’s more flat and metallic.

Apple had an ad full of desaturated versions, a depressing dystopia that was supposed to be an Exciting Quirky Story about office people rescued by Mac tech.

Kitchenaid wants you to know that your life will be easier if your bowl, your tablecloth, and your interior light on your dishwasher have THE HUE.

Progressive: for those moments when your shirt matches the car next to you!

Chevy ads are rife with The Hue. I just have to wonder: what is this supposed to suggest? Fun? Sex? Wealth? Hipness?

Dr. Pepper might be the current worst offender:

For GOD’S SAKE they have red-white branding, and they coat everything in this blue? Look at how sickly it makes their branded colors. The red doesn’t pop. Everything looks utterly unnatural. Why?

Invisiline really dials it up:

That was last week. Sunday's Vikings game gave me ten more.






It’s 1961.

When we think of “aged” in this context, it usually means “stale.”

The name stood out when I was a kid; it seemed oddly exotic. Turns out there’s a reason for that. It was a new line of coffee from the Arbuckle empire, the guys who’d pitched the first national brand, and the JWT ad agency liked made-up names to establish a unique identity. But why Yuban?


The coffee would eventually be named “Yuban.” But here is where legend comes into conflict with the record. The story most often told is that the name Yuban came from a combination of YUltide and BANquet, a reference to the holiday dinners where John Arbuckle would serve his special blend. It’s a good story, but there is no evidence that it is true. In the records of JWT, there is no reference to this naming prompt. There is no contemporary reference that John Arbuckle ever called any holiday dinner he hosted a “Yuletide Banquet.” This story is repeated hundreds of times on the internet but not one instance cites any source at all, let alone a source anywhere near the creation of Yuban.

It was, for a while, the best-selling coffee in the country. My theory? It’s meant to connote Cuban, but with You.

It was a joy. This was something most people had never experienced. And here it was, a new norm.

“Other needed minerals” doesn’t quite sound like a front-line offense against a cold. And honestly, I thought they were over "alkaline" by now.

Bad cold Bob? You may have to replenish your alkaline reserves.

Bonus: you could see the flash of the nuclear bomb a second before it blew out the windows! Gave you time to get under the desk.


Don’t they? Of course. Sort of. Why would you think that? Do you think about these things a lot, Pete? Okay then. It’s about the tobacco. And the women who like a long cylinder. Of tobacco, Pete.

Dude, take her to the flower show. You can pick her up later. Hold on to this one. She’s beautiful and the mother of your children. You’re really going to screw this up over golf?

Never knew anyone to rent a car just to go golfing, though.


Honestly, these Dial ads could be a little much. They’re supposed to be happy, but this guy looks like he’s been possessed by Quasimodo.

It’s proof that once the term “Used Cars” did not have a stigma. Or, perhaps, it’s proof that it did, and they were trying to overcome it.

As hemmings.com put it:

By the '60s, with near-yearly style changes and updates rolling out of Detroit, preying upon the fashion-conscious was as strong as it ever was--nothing looked older than a three-year-old car. You'd think that this would leave used-car buyers feeling down in the mouth. Yet seeing OK Used Cars advertised in national magazines also took some of the sting and stigma away from buying a used car. It wasn't brand new, no. But that didn't make it any less stylish, or comfortable, or dependable, or quick. Or yours.

See, middle-class families like yours - maybe even a little bit better than yours - eat this stuff. There’s no shame in it. He probably bought his car at a dealership, not the OK lot, but maybe he eats this because he likes it! The turkey’s tender and it has lots of salt.

Fantastic! Except for the peas. Be better if there was some cobbler in there.


Now two ways to chip in!


That'll do. Except for this: Comics Obscura moves to the 50s now.



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