A cold and snowy weekend. Can’t say I minded. It puts one in the Christmas mood – tree’s up, lights blaze, Friday comes, and all is fine with life, right up to the moment when my child gets off the bus in tears.

Some girls in school were mean to her. Friends, to make it even worse. They’d bumped her in the line to the bus, pretended not to listen to what she said, made faces. One of them is always mean – calls her names all the time. Casually mean, which makes it worse. The other is a recent best-friend-forever; for her to throw in her lot with the tormentor was the real blow, I suspect. There’s no cruelty like girl cruelty. All I remember along those lines was a punch in the face now and then. You clotted up, manned up, and went on.

So I made hot chocolate and we played some UNO by the fire, and that did the trick. But on Sunday she got a stomach ache when she came home from a sleepover, and I wonder how much of that was from worry over school. I know the mom of the Main Tormentress, but I’ve been forbidden from saying anything to her. Just as well. You know how these things go. Earnest, stern parent issues stern earnest lecture; child, in full Bad Seed mode, nods and solemnly swears she didn’t do anything, mentally calculating the degree of misery she’ll inflict tomorrow.

The kid’s coming over next Saturday for Natalie’s annual Christmas party, too. I should take her aside and tell her I have her number. You want your name in the paper, kid? No? Lay off.

Not that I would, of course, but she doesn’t know that.


Anyway. Cold. Saturday I ran the usual errands, and had the usual winter moment of despair, pushing a Target cart across the snow-swept lot. It’s all nice when you’re inside your vehicle, but then you have to get out. Often. I was in search of a birthday present – Natalie had a sleepover party that night up the street – and I tried three places looking for the exact pattern of Nintendo DS case. Didn’t find it; didn’t mind. On Saturdays I drive around listening to old “Suspense” shows from the 40s. They're loaded up on the iPod, run through the Element's sound system, and there's no better company for solitary excursions. Drive, listen, park, pause, shop, return, resume. The short excerpt below snagged my ear – it stars Paul Lukas, who specialized in playing cultivated middle-European types. In those days a Hungarian accent always suggested a civilized man of learning and discernment, for some reason. Everyone probably saw someone  with a pince-nez and a waistcoat and a moustache that rose to two points.

That's not why I present it here, though. Listen to the few bars of music at the end, Sounds familiar? Not the notes, necessarily, but the rhythm, and the mind behind it. Made me sit right up; the style is unmistakable. Name that composer!

Answer at the bottom of the page.

At Target I noted something I haven’t heard much about.


Pepsi changed its logo. Good googley-moogley, that’s a disaster. Apparently the logo changes depending on the variety of Pepsi, with thinness or fatness of the white stripe based on the amount of happiness or carbs or sugar or extremeness contained within. It looks angry and misshapen; the “e with its wiggly part looks bizarre as well, like an old crazy Pac-Man who doesn't care what anyone thinks anymore.

The bottles are even worse.

I don’t have cola brand identity; I buy whichever brand’s on sale at Target. If they’re selling four 12-packs of Pepsi for $10, and Coke is $4.29 per 12-pack, I cannot possibly see a reason why I would buy Coke. Ditto when it’s the other way around. I’m a marketer’s nightmare. I could even quote you decades of ad strategies and describe long-ago campaigns; makes no difference. I couldn’t be more aware of each brand if they burned the logos backwards on my forehead and I saw them every morning while I shaved. And I don’t care.

It is impossible to conceive of an agency running an ad like this today:

Not sure how well it worked then, either, but it has some flair and style. It’s from 1958. Lots of cigarettes – she’s holding hers at arm’s length so she can sniff the flower, and it seems to be ashing in the Pepsi of the woman in the background, who’s holding her cigarette up so it burns the neck of the guy behind her. (Who's not impressiing the redhead in the green dress, obviously.) The Sociables were replaced by the Pepsi Generation, more or less square-john types who didn’t go for any of that hippie garbage, and preferred to run o the beach and laugh and show their teeth and have hot dogs. You look at those images, and how they fell into mocking disfavor – none of those people looked like they’d go to Woodstock – and you realize how well the counterculture did its work.



Finally the brio evaporates, and it all collapses in dull meaningfulness and Earnest Earth-People:

Damned hippies! Anyway, I don't like the logo. Did I say that? I don't.

Finally, a new Bleat Feature which should carry us through the end of the season:

Odd Santas and the like. Today:

He's in candle form. Of course he survived; no one ever burned these things. Might as well be made of asbestos-coated steel. It's possible these candles were a Russian plot, each one filled with high explosives. They would demoralize Americans with exploding Father Ice-Time, or whatever those decadent fools called him. But no one ever lit one off.

No one ever wanted to see Santa with his head melted off.


New matchbook, this being Monday. See you at buzz.mn, and of course Twitter.


Oh: the answer is Bernard Herrman.