I got ripped on reddit the other day, for existing. I’d written a column about a survey that said Minneapolis wasn’t very fun, at least compared to Vegas. It was posted on r/twincities, whereupon someone barged in and said I was “an unfunny turd” who likes to shit all over Minnesota, and words to that effect. Also I was stupid, because the survey didn’t say we weren’t fun, and Vegas is awful, and so on. Many upvotes! I replied that “unfunny” was subjective, but “turd” could probably be proven empirically one way or the other, and that I love the state, and not some idealized version of it. (The author had compared me to Keillor, who he thought truly hates the state.)

Mind you, this is the subreddit where the outstate folk are regularly depicted as toothless dumb meth-addled MAGA lovers.

My self-defense earned me downvotes, as did a reply to a comment that said it was hard to read my architecture columns knowing I was a right-wing nut job. It’s all a bit disheartening, of course, because one does not want to be regarded as an unfunny turd. But then I had a peculiar thought, something I hadn’t entertained before.

What if there’s no point to reading reddit at all?

After all - and this is something we often forget - the Internet is voluntary. There’s no pop quiz every morning. You can go about your day unaware that six new memes have been created since you woke.

I thought back to what, exactly, I get out of reddit. Amusement, here and there, from some subreddits that detail the laments of hotel clerks and restaurant servers. The local subreddits are completely predictable - one person complains about crime, 7 people intone on the Social Reasons. One person complains about homeless encampments in his neighborhood, 9 people reply with the same Social Reasons. They hate the police for not doing their job and hate the police for doing their job. Cars? Big mistake, shouldn’t have been invented. Suburbs? Horrible places that should never have existed because people get to live where they wish instead of piling on top of each other in a city based on the pre-war borders, with all development beyond forbid.

It’s the male late-20s / early 30s demographic, underpaid perhaps, still marinating in a puddle of dorm-room socialism, free-thinkers who are 17% more smug about their intellectual abilities than perhaps the evidence warrants.

Fedoras, too? You ask. No, I don’t think so. Some of them may be fedora-adjacent, but not the large-bellied neckbeard geek types. More the closely-cropped bearded bike-in-January types.

Some of the subreddits are interesting, but absolutely nothing is essential. I think this sums it up better than anything:


That’s where you want to pat them on the head and give them a Werther’s and say “run along now.”









I haven’t watched any Christmas shows. The new programs are either sentimental cliche-fests, and the old shows tend to remind you how time has passed and things are different. Christmas is different. You’re different. When my generation was young, there were a few specials, rationed out from week to week on different networks, each with their own appeal. Rudolph was the gold standard. The songs were familiar, and unique: you never heard “I Am Old Kris Kringle” or whatever it was on the radio, just here. I know I’ve written about this before, but Santa is such a pill in the Rudolph special; either moaning about his work, or acting obviously bored when his serfs perform a special song, or bursting into the poverty-stricken home where his reindeer live, and singing about himself in front of a doe who’s just given birth.

The element that made Rudolph special different was the end of the second act: peril. He went out alone on an ice floe to save his friends, and was drifting into the realm where the Abominable Snowman lived. He was going to die! Ripped to shreds! The horrible sound of the Snowman roared in the distance as we cut to commercial. And then Yukon died! Not really. But we remembered the first time we saw it, and how we thought he did.

The Charlie Brown special was its equal. It had a different mood. The music, I believe, made everyone grow up inside a little faster. It introduced a mood children don’t quite develop on their own - a sophisticated sense of peace and a strange, pleasurable sadness.

Next down the line, it was the Grinch. I like it, but I have no time for the Whos, their smug smiles and closed eyes indicating personal satisfaction. Their toys and gifts seemed pointless, too. And for GOD’S SAKE WHAT WERE THEY SINGING.

After that, the cheaply animated Rankin-Bass stuff. Anyway. Over the weekend my wife started a puzzle she got at an office party, and that fixed her in place like a butterfly lanced with a pin. She usually has something playing on the TV and I suggested the Hallmark channel with its endless run of indistingushable Christmas specials. She never watches those, but thought it would be good mindless background noise. On my trips downstairs for ice, or a refill, or a handful of cashews, I paid attention to the music. Some of it was sprightly "caper" music that was common in the 90s and 00s, the stuff that indicated domestic niceness and mischief. Naughy dogs, cute kids, that sort of thing. You'd know what I mean if you heard it.

Then there was something else I heard in two different movies: "O Tannenbaum" played on a piano, jazzy, slow and slightly bittersweet. They're trading on the Charlie Brown emotions buried at the core of the boomer emotional marrow. We are, for always, ten years old.




It’s 1943.

Whaaa? Daisy-fresh Martinis? That’s worth a find-out test!

The people whose livelihood depends on mixing drinks agree that this is superior.

Sure they do.

I never miss an opportunity to add to our growing stock of TROLLS ads.

Wintergreen or peppermint! Go ahead, try to explain the difference.

I think the 40s were the nadir of women’s shoe styles, but that’s just one man’s opinion. Great ad, though, and I love the typestyle. Is it meant to call back to circuses, parades, old posters, good times in the ol’ home town? Or is it meant to be smart and up-to-date? I don’t know, but I don’t think they’d use that font if the word “parade” hadn’t been part of it.

Note: Stand out* Soles, the new mannish extension edges.

Well this is a bit uncomfortable

We have no problem with Russian Communism; that’s their choice. International Communism, though, that’s a whole different thing.

Well, I suppose you had to make adjustments for the duration. I do wonder who the Cleveland Rabble-Rouser was, though.


Ah, Phil and his dames.

If you didn't know:

The Hour of Charm Orchestra was an American musical group led by Phil Spitalny. Popular in the 1930s and 1940s, it was an all-female orchestra in an era when most orchestra members were male.

Phil Spitalny (November 7, 1890 – October 11, 1970) was a Ukrainian-American musician, music critic, composer, and bandleader heard often on radio during the 1930s and 1940s. He rose to fame after he led an all-female orchestra, a novelty at the time.

Spitalny was born into a Jewish family of musicians in Tetiev, Ukraine and later was a student at the Odessa Conservatory of Music. A child prodigy on clarinet, he toured Russia and came to the United States in 1905.

After playing with bands in Cleveland, Spitalny moved to Boston to direct the orchestra at a theater. Later, he returned to Cleveland, where he led his own orchestra, then went to New York to lead the orchestra at the Pennsylvania Hotel.[1] For two years, he conducted the orchestra at the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[2

He led orchestras under the name Phil Spitalny and His All-Girl Orchestra, beginning with Hour of Charm Orchestra on his radio program The Hour of Charm in 1934. Spitalny and Evelyn Kaye Klein auditioned over one thousand women to fill the twenty-two piece orchestra. Klein was the featured performer, a virtuoso violinist introduced as Evelyn and her Magic Violin. The program lasted for over ten years on radio. He and Klein married in 1946.

Awwww! You think. What a love story! I suppose. More on Evelyn:

When Klein was 14 years old, she debuted at The Town Hall in New York City. Among the members of the audience was Spitalny, who at the time was conductor of the orchestra at the Capitol Theater. Although Kaye's grandmother slammed the door in Spitalny's face when he first tried to contact the girl about auditioning for him, she eventually auditioned for him, and he signed her to be the first member of his planned all-female orchestra.

Brought to you by America’s business-managed, tax-paying ELECTRIC COMPANIES. Which ones? Well, names available on request from the magazine, if you really need to know. Do you? Are you going to ask just because you they seem to be covering it up? Will you be satisfied when the answers are predictable and ordinary? Do we have to call Scripps-Howard?


The eternal boast, which no one ever believes. Money-back guarantee or not.

Why? Are we just so sure of its insuperior qualities that our palate has an insurmountable bias?

Also, Mom, we love having you here, but are you ever going back to the farm?

Lithe tumblers for the keen set!

It looks like they’re having a Good Neighbor-themed party, as kids will, but what is she doing?

Reaching for the glass the seated guy stole so the standing guy, played here by Ross Martin, could take a drink. Keen times, keen times.


The last shot of some Twilight-Zone-style TV show, perhaps:

’ve always wondered how this bygone brand tasted. The “Golden Wedding” is a blend of fine whiskeys, as they’ll tell you. But it’s also jolted up with tater-juice.




Quasicomics link below, but it goes to something else. What? You'll just have to see.





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