Welcome to another week at the Bleat, where we drive steadily down the absolute middle of the road, confounding trolleys. Where we look at an imagined American past, and tell ourselves sure, they had trees in central business districts in the 50s. Where we will, on occasion, actually learn something in a serendipitous fashion. We will see at least three matchbooks! And that's just today! What a week of wonders awaits.

When I shopped for Saturday dinner on Friday afternoon I remembered that we were experiencing a Cheese Deficit at home. My wife had taken to making grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, and had exhausted the reserves. I was at Kowalski’s, and winced at the price for the cheese I usually bought: a $1.50 more than it cost at CUfB. So why not just bump it all up another $1.50 and get some very good cheese for the hamburger? Ah: Cheddar-Gruyer with Applewood Smoke and Sea Salt. That’ll do.

But this didn’t address the general Cheese Deficit, for morning eggs or such. So after dinner I went to CUfB, in the hopes there would be the usual sale. There’s always a cheese sale. And indeed there was: the standard bag of shredded was $1.99. I opened the cooler, took one - then noted the fine print. That was the price if you bought four. I put it back.

The man stocking the cheese cooler looked at me askance.

“You’re turning down that price?” He said. I should advise you to consider the rest of this conversation as if he was a certain Kubrick hotel cook, and that I would not at any point have been surprised if he called me “Doc.”

“It’s only that price if you buy four,” I said.

“Let’s see if there’s something on the end cap,” he said, and went around to the end of the aisle, whereupon we saw that there were no more deals to be had in the shredded cheese genre. We returned to the place where he was stocking.

“The Crystal Farms was two for five last week,” he said, with a slight note of admonishment, assuming I’d missed it.

“I know,” I said. “I bought it. And it’s gone. I buy that when it’s two for five, because it’s usually between $3.29 and $3.79. The house brand here, that’s usually between $2.39 and $2.79. The Sargento, that’s always too much.”

He nodded, realizing he was dealing with a careful shopper.

“You know it’s all the same,” he said. “Comes from the same supplier.”

“I figured the Everyday was from Crystal.”

“But what some of these got” - he gestured in the direction of the Sargento - “is their own shredders. So it looks nicer.”

“But they all have the same anti-caking agent.”

“Oh hell yeah.” He cocked his head. “You from Wisconsin?”

“North Dakota.”

“They do like their cheese in Wisconsin.”

“So pre-cut’s out, and that means I’m looking at the prices on the bricks.” We walked over to the other cooler.

The bricks on the house brand were $1.99, if you bought four.

“See, I’ll buy four here, because it’s versatile. You can shred it yourself or you can slice it. You can’t make a slice if it’s been pre-shredded.” I took a brick of Pepper Jack. “Just wish this was hotter, though.”

“You know where to get the good hot cheese?” He said, leaning forward, dropping his voice. “The Wedge.”

“I never get there. Kowalski’s closer.”

“They’re good but I’d say they’re number two. Wedge, that’s where. Whole Foods, close to that.”

“I never go to Whole Foods.”

“Why is that?”

“I want to pay my mortgage.”

He laughed and told me remember, the Wedge, if you want it hot, and I said it was a pleasure talking to a connoisseur du fromage. And we parted as friends. I came home with four bricks of cheese. I should also note that the thing my wife said before I left was that she was tired of grilled cheese sandwiches, so I didn’t have to buy extra.

I put the four on the counter and held up a finger and said “Let me explain.”


Our new Monday feature! The Gazettes provide a look at the commercial vernacular from 90 years ago. Sometimes they look forward, and just as often as not they reach back decades for a familiar look.

Are any of these brands still around? We'll find out.

Another nice early-30s design:

Maybe sorta still around, inasmuch as the Gridley board sold out to Borden in 1929, according to one page, and 1942, according to another. The name was dropped in 1953, says the first page, and it was Borden from then on.



It's the last Monday of the week, so that means . . . .

Merrily we continue along with . . .

Good ol' Lucy:

Annnnnd the obligatory Top Hench:

As one does. Standing in the way, of course . . .

And so:

That was easy. Then he climbs back into the cockpit and they return to “the patrol station,” where a guy who was sapped by Lucifer’s men shows them something he swiped off one of the assailants.

Why, that has to mean “Trent Steel Mill” - the next target! So Dick get s job there to see if he can foil the plot. This gets spilled to the Secret Council, and as we know, The Ghost is one of them, so now they’re waiting for him.

Stock footage of a mill follows.

Tracy is soon discovered, so there’s the OFF, or Obligatory Fist-Fight; this one’s half-hatted.

Tracy’s assistant whatsisname ends up unconscious in a dangerous position, so some fast thinking is required.

The Ghost decides to cut to the chase, and just go to the guy’s house and shake him down for the plans at gunpoint. He sends a henchman ahead to open the safe:

Well sucks to be you, but that’s what henches are for. He gets the plan and plugs the industrialist and goes out the window before Tracy arrives.

And so:

Action packed, if you just came in on the middle of it: the boat explosion, the fistfight at the steel mill, a guy falling down a hole, gunplay, and another guy falling down a hole. Brisk stuff. You needn’t think about anything at all, and this Dick Tracy doesn’t have gadgets or two-way wrist radios or anything, but who cares. Now it’s the cartoon and then it’s the picture you came to see.


Oh . . . one more thing.