December 8, 1972: Home husband and babies.

We continue the PAST LIFEs series, in which we revisit the last few months of LIFE magazine, issue by issue, on the 50th anniversary of its departure. There’s this one, and then there’s two more.

We are up to the issue of December 8, 1972, which can be read here if you want to see what I’m talking about. This is not one of the issues my grandfather saved; I’ve never seen it before today.


Presumably, Diana Ross’s agent (and maybe Miss Ross too) wants to put some distance between her real-life self and the junk- and pain-wracked Billie Holiday she is currently portraying onscreen in Lady Sings the Blues … and so we’ll get a spread this week of “home husband and babies.”

Also, I once again can’t accuse LIFE editors of writing what today would be called clickbait headlines. I’m pretty sure that this same headline in 2022 would simply be “A U.S. pilot faces his last mission,” or maybe even “A U.S. pilot’s final mission — will he make it home?”

It’s a given in 2022 that a little suspense or drama boosts readership. But LIFE editors in ’72 were content to give away the store and let us know that he’d be getting home again.

Anyway, here we go.

Two pages of Polaroid ad; two pages of Zenith television ad. The latter brings back memories: There was an appliance shop in the Rochester of my boyhood called Hill TV, locally celebrated for its earnest, wooden advertisements (whose unvarying backing music I can still hum to this day.) Its owner also owned a minor-league pro basketball team that he named the Rochester Zeniths in honor of his core product line.

The store, the ads, the team, and the TVs are all long gone.

Managing Editor Ralph Graves teases next week’s issue. Apparently LIFE has thought for years about doing a special Christmas-themed issue, but the idea always comes up too late to act on. Last year somebody finally set the wheels in motion at an appropriate time, and as a result, LIFE will finally present the Christmas issue of its dreams.

Incidentally, a visit to Newspapers dot com confirms that LIFE staffers were told about the magazine’s impending shutdown on December 7. This issue would have been put to bed by then. I’ll have to wait and see whether the Christmas special issue makes reference to it.

Good news, ladies: “The Beat of LIFE” begins with a mention that female U.S. Navy personnel have been cleared to serve as regular sailors, not just as nurses and secretaries. Less-good news: The lead photo still manages to capture a woman sailor with her arse to the camera and as much of her legs exposed as possible, in the classic LIFE fashion. (The explanation? A conveniently slippery gangway.)

A photographer follows Sherpas as they haul up supplies for a base camp on Mount Everest; the shots, while scanned in sideways for the online magazine, are impressive if you turn your head 90 degrees.

We then move to Camp David, where news reporters covering President Nixon are denied access to the camp and forced to use telephones set up on picnic tables under plastic sheeting in the rain. Cry me a river.

Editorials about Nixon rearranging his administration and property tax improvements follow. My opinion of editorials in general has plunged about as low as my opinion of White House reporters, and these don’t help.

Just ’cause you buy ink by the gallon doesn’t mean your institutional opinion (which at best means the opinion of two or three middle-aged white men at the top of the masthead, and at worst means the opinion of the guy who signs their checks) is worth using that ink to print.

Old Spice advertises decanters of cologne shaped like telescopes and cannons. “Tell him to keep the bottle – it could be worth plenty in a few years,” the ad counsels. This appears to be the same advertising approach used by the 2022 incarnation of LIFE magazine, which exists solely to churn out “Collector’s Edition” magazines, for sale at a checkout line near you, about the likes of Van Halen.

Four Roses is still promoting itself as “underwhelming,” and our editorial position here at Neck Pickup is that we will be glad to see the end of that misbegotten pitch. The ad does remind me, though, that it’s just about the season to make bourbon balls. I have of late been torn between the urge to make batches of cookies higgledy-piggledy, and the knowledge that I am not at present able to run off the resulting calories.

GE advertises electric appliances for the woman who cooks and irons but also does stuff like go for bicycle rides. I find the approach charming, even if half the appliances in question are still beauty-based. One step at a time, I guess.

Chevy advertises a new Camaro for 1973 called the LT, for Luxury Touring. Who buys a fastback Camaro to do luxury touring is beyond me; you buy something like a Monte Carlo or an Impala to do that.

The pic is shot at Zuma Beach, which makes me think of Neil Young, and also of that one line in the Stones’ “Some Girls.” (No, not that one line in the Stones’ “Some Girls.”)

Book reviewer Selma G. Lanes raves about the detail-intensive illustrations of Nancy Ekholm Burkert, which accompany a newly issued translation by Randall Jarrell of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (Jarrell, a superb poet, had been dead for seven years at that point, but if his translation waited for the right visual accompaniment, it seems to have been worth the wait.)

Fruit of the Loom men’s briefs! I remember those. Never stopped to think much about what a gorgeously daffy name Fruit of the Loom is. It has as little to do with the product as … I dunno … Grape Nuts.

Next to ads for freeze-dried Sanka and the Plymouth Duster, my favo(u)rite TV critic sings the praises of the BBC as it marks its 50th anniversary. Cyclops doesn’t entirely laud Auntie Beeb: He points out that Americans tend to see their best stuff, and they also make a lot of trash. This is not a bad deal for Americans, though, who regularly see Beeb productions that clean the clock of almost everything produced here.

A Schick ad promotes its SuperSharp electric razor. This is the kind of implement I remember my maternal grandpa (the guy who got me on this LIFE kick) having — a chunky, buzzing fistful of plastic and metal. The design looks like it could double as a 16-story building in any third-rank city in the U.S.; I catch myself mentally picturing where in Allentown’s street grid I would insert a Schick Building.

Richard Schickel drills the movie version of 1776, which I’ve never seen but probably wouldn’t like either. He closes by hoping that its “tawdry historical sensibility” will not set the tone for the upcoming Bicentennial celebration. I don’t think it did, although I’m a touch too young to remember myself.

Garry Wills lauds David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest, expressing the hope that it will save America from its best and its brightest. I don’t think I’ve ever read it; it sounds like the kind of thing well worth it if I find a gracefully worn 50-cent paperback at a library booksale. (One of the nicest things in post-pandemic America is the return of the library booksale.)

Oh, here’s a new advertiser: Cox, maker of motorized model planes, urges America’s fathers to “Fight a duel in the sky. It will make you better friends than ever.”  The reader is urged to “pit your flying skill against your boy’s” (we all know the skies are no place for a girl!) using Cox’s model Sopwith Camels and Fokkers.

It’s likeable enough, and it might have been fun … but at the same time, it summons the idea of a vast and urgent yearning among American fathers to be liked by their sons, and the thought of that unfillable national chasm makes me a little sad.

My own father and older brother participated in a program called Indian Guides when my brother was young — if it still exists today, it presumably goes by another name. For years afterward my father wore an old Indian Guides T-shirt with a slogan that went something like, “Fathers and Sons: Pals Forever,” or maybe “Fathers and Sons: Friends Forever.”  When I cared to think about it, the slogan touched me with its … naivete? Innocence? Fathers and sons aren’t friends or pals. They’re fathers and sons. The connection is more complex than that.

(This is not, incidentally, a criticism of my father. They gave him a T-shirt and he wore it holey, probably without thinking deeply about what it said. I do the same.)


Being who I am, of course I had to go digging for visual proof. My dad wore this shirt forever, and it stuns me that I can’t find a full frontal picture of it. If you squint you can see the words “Father and Son” above the arrowhead, and the tail end of “Forever” poking in below it. The gent at right is the grandfather who saved the LIFE magazines and owned the beefy electric razors. This photo suggests they were doing a fine job.

Back to the magazine. Fleischmann’s is selling its blended whiskey in holiday gift boxes whose patterns would have made groovy wallpaper. I would need a bottle (at 90 proof) to get through the adjoining “Comment” column, another of William Zinsser’s attempts at humor — this time, a parody of the family Christmas letter. Maybe in 1972 that wasn’t the howling cliche it seems like now.

A full-page ad promotes the Fire Islander, a line of acrylic-plus-polyester doubleknit clothing, and I once again wonder whether this is a zoned ad for the Northeast, or whether they were pitching the Fire Islander to readers in Omaha and Coeur d’Alene. (If the former, I wonder what ran in other editions?)

United Airlines advertises its first-class dinner menu, and I wonder how many Alaskan king crabs gave their glorious legs for the dubious purpose of being served on airline flights. United also offers a “Poor Boy Sandwich, Garni,” which is not a New Orleans-style po’ boy but rather turkey, salami, ham and Swiss.

This issue’s cover date — December 8, 1972 — was coincidentally the day that a United Airlines flight crashed on an aborted landing in Chicago, killing 45 people, including a U.S. Congressman, an up-and-coming Black female TV journalist, and the wife of White House dirty-trickster E. Howard Hunt.

“33 Years Ago in LIFE,” Betty Grable in Du Barry Was a Lady gets the cover, and at least semi-leggy young women imitating Al Capp characters get big inside play. My wife went through a stage of interest in Li’l Abner and still has a bunch of the books. For the most part the appeal was lost on me, and Al Capp himself was kind of a disagreeable article.

Two Letters drub LIFE for its dreadful cover photo of Richard Nixon, while a third suggests that the cover question — what he’ll do with his big win — is easily answered: “He will exercise the ancient Latin of get even — Soc et tuem.”  As humor in LIFE goes, that’s pretty good.

LIFE’s look at the hijinks of typical NYC boy Brian Sullivan draws criticism from one reader who basically calls young Brian an undersupervised brat. Another writer, Sharon Smith of Los Angeles, asks simply: “I enjoyed your article about a boy growing up in a big city, but what’s it like for a girl?” Ding ding ding! You win a year’s supply of Rice-a-Roni, Sharon.

Next, LIFE gives me a view of a world I am grateful not to inhabit. The United Mine Workers, an organization traditionally riven by violence, is voting on a new president. LIFE points out negative aspects to both the incumbent and his rival, quoting the president of a UMW local: “I’m sort of leery of them both.”

It is a sharp leap from the black-and-white photos of local union leaders (of course the union spread is all in stark black-and-white) to a full-page color ad of Santa Claus toting a Kodak pocket Instamatic. Santa cannot erase the suspicion that the suspicious, ground-down men of the UMW will probably get a bitter deal either way.

(Wiki tells us that incumbent Tony Boyle not only lost the December 1972 election to challenger Arnold Miller, but was later convicted of charges related to the killing of rival union leader Jock Yablonski and his family shortly after the previous election in 1969. It is interesting to know that the man pictured here, campaigning furiously to hold his position, has a secret.)

“New Day for Diana” is next … and as I imagined, with no great prescience, Diana Ross is eager to separate herself from the Lady Day image. We see her husband, Bob Silberstein, shirt open to mid-chest in the Seventies style; and her mirrored piano; and her pool table; and her young daughter; and the Beverly Hills home she decorated herself; and her mentor Berry Gordy; and some other stuff.

The spread doesn’t convey much beyond the message that the real Diana Ross is successful, rooted, married, and not addicted to drugs. But, that might have been the point.

From Diana Ross’s glamorous contentment, we leap wildly to a spread on “CALCULATORS FOR A POCKET.” These remarkable new machines are “a spin-off of our space program,” LIFE notes. One- or two-sentence evaluations are offered of six of the most popular models. One is capable of trig or log functions; another does not handle decimals or negative numbers.

LIFE, bless its heart, resists the temptation to set up any of the calculator screens so that they read 5318008.

Feminism seems to be a recurring theme of this issue — surprisingly so for an issue with “home husband and babies” on the cover. The next story introduces America to Janet Bonnema, an engineer who sued her employer, the Colorado Department of Highways, because it wouldn’t allow her to work on a highway tunnel project — based on an old belief that it was bad luck for women to enter a tunnel or mine.

The story is surprisingly well done, giving us a fairly full picture of Bonnema as well as of a growing trend for women to sue in pursuit of jobs they were traditionally denied. And it has a happy ending: She settled her suit for $6,750, got permission to work in the tunnel (only one man quit in response), and was planning to use some of her money to take a trip to Africa.

(Newspapers dot com tells me that she died in 2008 in Florida at age 69, having retired from a civil engineering job with a regional water management agency.)

Jim Beam offers about nine different holiday booze options and takes out an ad to promote them. They include “Beameister” wines, imported from Germany and sold in ceramic crocks “to protect the delicate flavor of the pick of the grapes.” That sounds like a ceramic crock.

We move on to the spread on the American pilot wrapping up his tour in Vietnam. As the U.S. presses for a cease-fire, nobody still in Vietnam wants to be the last person to die there — including 25-year-old pilot Thomas Waskow.

Waskow, whose role seems to involve reconnaissance rather than bombing, navigates his final flight successfully and is greeted by his buddies, who drop him into a trough of water in celebration and hand him a foaming bottle of New York State champagne. (The brand is Taylor, a name I remember well from my time in the Finger Lakes. Nothing but the finest for our men in uniform.)

Waskow’s return home after a year’s absence is marked by a photo of him kissing his wife, Kathy; they have a young son, just two months old when his father shipped out. Like Diana Ross’s older daughter, we don’t see him.

LIFE mentions that Waskow was bound for a new military role as a flight instructor. Fifty years later, Wikipedia tells us that he built a distinguished military career for himself.

A profile of Laurence Olivier follows. The expected tributes are paid to his complexity. If you like Olivier or acting you’d find this interesting.

I have a blind/numb spot myself when it comes to actors and acting: I don’t appreciate or understand the mindsets or techniques that actors use to get themselves in the zone. So acting talk doesn’t hit my monkey nerve. (And anyway, the best way to understand a great actor’s performance is to watch it, not to read people talking about it.)

Kodak takes an intriguing ad for its Ektachrome movie cameras, a two-handed ship-shaped jobbie that allegedly films in natural light without requiring movie lights. I’d love to see a random sampling of home films shot with them, to see how true that really was. If I wanted to search YouTube I probably could.

Fiat talks about how popular its cars are in Europe. I wonder if they are any better-built there. Ah, for the golden days when an Italian car company thought it had a shot at conquering America. Magnavox advertises portable TVs (in beige or red — and don’t I wish the ad were in color?) and alarm-clock radios that stand tall like ungainly urban towers.

I guess the Olivier profile is this week’s go-on-and-on piece. There’s always one at the back of the book. I think the LIFE editors’ logic was, if you’re going to lose impatient people who put the magazine down two jumps into a long story, you’d rather lose them on page 60 than page 16.

LIFE gives itself a quarter-page ad, urging people to subscribe. I assume if you saw the issue on December 8 and called the phone number, they would still set you up with a subscription as if nothing were wrong. I wonder. A few pages later Time-LIFE gives itself a full-page ad to promote holiday gift subscriptions to Time, LIFE, Sports Illustrated and Fortune. Maybe in the Coeur d’Alene edition they sold that space to somebody.

Next up is the story of a well-regarded former New York police detective, retired from the force at 44, who took his own life in October 1972 with, apparently, no particular warning. The piece is accompanied by photos of the detective taken seven years earlier — I assume to accompany a different news story, either in LIFE or some other media outlet.

After lingering a touch longer than necessary on the physical impacts of shooting oneself, the story explores various reasons for police dissatisfaction — including a growing paranoia that cops are “wired” to entrap each other, and that every action they take or every remark they make could boomerang against them in court or in internal discipline.

Unfortunately, no one truly knew why old-school detective Bob Kenney killed himself — or whether it had anything at all to do with the issues described in the story. This lends LIFE’s story a certain hollowness. It feels as if they have used him, without full justification, to tell a larger story about police problems that could have been told equally well in his absence.

Another wild segue follows to a story marking the 150th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed some of America’s most famous public parks.

The story makes only a one-sentence passing mention of his work in Boston, and the words “emerald necklace” seems to be entirely absent, which means the story naturally fails to meet my full approval. (The story ends with a Boston-centric stinger, reporting that Olmsted died in 1903 at McLean Hospital in Belmont, not far outside the city. He had designed the grounds there three decades earlier.)

Sears, whatever its other failures, at least has the good sense to realize that an ad for a portable television really works better in color.

The closing “Parting Shots” column touches on feminism once again, with a brief profile of an Evansville, Indiana, housewife who wrote the Western novel The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing on the quiet, as a remedy for housewifely boredom. Production was about to begin on the movie version, starring Burt Reynolds.

LIFE also provides a quick profile of Alex Karras, who since ditching the NFL has tried to reinvent himself as a TV host, an actor — and a critic of NFL owners. Conveniently, the short piece is written by the Chicago sportswriter who co-hosts Karras’s show. (LIFE acknowledges this; it still seems pretty weak. The world is full of other writers who could have fulfilled the assignment, after all.)

A shot of a cute, round-faced grinning two-year-old with a massive boa constrictor around his neck is … memorable. Apparently a Hollywood film studio put out an open call for a trained snake to appear in a movie, and young David Jackson was one of those who turned up. The snake belonged to an adult friend, but David apparently played with it on the regular, and the photographer captured him with it. It didn’t make the cut for the movie.

A peanut vendor is covered with pigeons. A Canadian whiskey brand is — get this — selling its wares in holiday packages.

And always, it seems, at the back of the mag, there are cigarettes.

Less slow, still thankful.

Just to follow up on my recent post about the turkey trot I jogged on Thanksgiving:

Today I ran the second of the two 5Ks I signed up for before I realized I’d done something to my legs in the half marathon.

My approach to this one was the same as it was on Thanksgiving: No running training in advance, just some walking here and there. Lots of stretching and walking in pre-race warmups, but no running — save every step for the race. Once the race starts, jog it at a consciously slow and noncompetitive pace. Run until the troublesome right calf complains, and be ready to stop when it does.

Somehow, the calf never complained … and while I was waiting for it to start, my pace kinda crept faster and faster. I ended up beating my Thanksgiving time by two-and-a-half minutes. Even kicked a little bit at the end.

I am totally powerless to explain it, but I appreciate it.

It’s actually kinda fun to run from the middle or back of the pack after all these years trying to be near the front. I have to be sure I don’t get too used to it. I still have my eyes on getting up somewhere closer to where I was.

(I did discover one hassle of starting further back, more so today than on Thanksgiving. Today’s race is the kind of family-oriented community race that lots of local kids run — or run/walk. The standard operating procedure for kids under 13 or so is to run a little while and then suddenly start walking, usually with no great regard for surrounding traffic. Kids that age also aren’t all that fabulous  at holding a straight line; they’re not in your way until they are. I think it’s great that they’re out there running. I just wish some of ’em would start a little further back, and/or grow some radar.)

Anyway. The 2022 racing season has come to a close in positive enough fashion. We will see what the fat man manages in 2023. He hopes he’s not done yet.

More regional fetishization.

Another pic from my travels yesterday — featuring 100 percent less bullets and pie.

I was convinced for a brief time that this photo had the germ of a Big E photo contest award-winner in it, if only it had a better background.

(Cue my dad, a one-man Statler and Waldorf: “And better handwriting!”)


I spent some time slamming microfilm at the Boston Public Library, doing baseball history research for my ever-spewing fount of stories. (There are always more, somehow.)

One of my requests involved an issue of one of Boston’s now-departed evening daily papers, the Traveler  (originally known as the Traveller, so my spelling on the request form is not completely incorrect.)

For the newcomers in town, the Traveler merged with the Herald; the Record merged with the American; and the Herald-Traveler merged with the Record American to create the Herald American, which finally became today’s Herald. The Post, which for a while was bigger than any of them and the Globe besides, just sank beneath the waves without the pretense of merging with anybody.

Anyway, the BPL’s microfilm machines used to be located in Bates Hall, a.k.a., the gorgeous old study room with the green lampshades and studious English ambience. A twenty-year-old jar of gefilte fish would look cool and dignified in the surroundings of Bates Hall.


Above: This is what doing newspaper research at the BPL used to look like in October 2018. That year’s walletcard is visible at right. I had a whole bunch of ideas for a 2023 walletcard, but they’re not worth much without a Twitter or Instagram account – unless I post pix here, which I just might.

Alas, they’ve moved the machines to another, much less picturesque part of the library.

So when the Boston traveler got his reel of the Boston Travel(l)er, the photo with its implied tale — one ticket back into the past; all aboard! — just couldn’t be made to look as good.

(It didn’t really matter, as I only had an iPhone to shoot with.)


All of my tickets to ride, shown above. They told me I had two hours on the machine; I told them I’d be off well before then. I finished with three minutes to spare.

# # # # #

Speaking of baseball, the Internet Archive has hosted, for some years, a collection of more than 500 baseball radio game broadcasts spanning from the 1930s to 1973.

For whatever reason, the guy who uploaded this initial collection has reposted it in a new location — and he’s added 400 more games. There’s a St. Louis Browns game from 1953 (how many of those could possibly be knocking around?), and Boston Braves games from the 1948 World Series, and and and and and.

So much to listen to, so little time.

In Chicago in July 1953, the Browns are ahead of the White Sox 1-0 after half an inning on a homer by Dick Kokos. Just thought you’d like to know.

(Edit: On a hot July day at Comiskey Park, broadcasters Al Helfer and Art Gleeson mention that the wind has turned and they’ve just gotten a whiff of the stockyards. “They must be doin’ business over there,” Gleeson notes. “Chicago’s a great town … the more you’re in it, the more you know about it,” Helfer responds. I am reasonably sure you won’t hear a discussion of stockyards or bad smells on a MLB broadcast in 2023.)

The punctured crust of the naked city.

This is the sort of content I used to dump out freely on Twitter. On a blog I should probably be more sensitive to copyright. For today I won’t be; we’ll see how it goes.

Found this during today’s research trip to the Boston Public Library. (I sagged off from work.)

This is quite possibly the finest piece of crime-scene photography ever run in an American daily newspaper, and it deserves to be exhumed and seen.

From July 1970, the Boston Herald-Traveler shows you the city’s gritty underbelly — or maybe its gritty top crust:


PIE, its crust ripped by gunman’s bullet“! Has there ever been a more vivid combination of the bloody and the absurd? The violent and the trivial?

It reminds me a little of Zappa’s Weasels Ripped My Flesh: Gunmen ripped my pie crust.

And that’s not all: Note dent in pan where slug went awry! Or was it the precise composition of lard and flour in the crust that rearranged the best-laid plans of the burglar?  (“It was a short crust, but it made a big difference,” police Sgt. Melton Mowbray said.)

Once you get past the absurdity of the pie-as-Exhibit-One, the rest of the package delivers a complementary dose of bracing crime-scene content.

This isn’t just any rank-and-file dogsbody in the picture, it’s a police ballistician. (WordPress is trying to tell me that’s not a word, but readers of the Herald-Traveler know better.)

And any time you see the back of somebody’s head in a professionally shot photo, you know subconsciously and immediately that something’s gone sideways, like getting a phone call from your kid in the middle of the day. Everyone knows news photos aren’t supposed to look like that.

There’s only one missing piece of evidence here, one which apparently didn’t occur to either the photog or the reporter:

What sort of pie?

December 1, 1972: Mellow, busy days.

We continue the PAST LIFEs series, in which we revisit the last few months of LIFE magazine, issue by issue, on the 50th anniversary of its departure. Four are left.

This week we tackle the issue of December 1, 1972, which you can read here if you want. My grandpa saved this one.


“Mellow, busy days after the White House.” Well, you can scarcely accuse LIFE of trying to goose the drama in its cover story this week, can you? I expect 10 pages of, “Dad watched the baseball for a while and then went for a walk.”

Volkswagen is holding the line on price with its 1973 Beetle, keeping the ’72 price of $1,999. According to the online inflation calculator, that’s $13,984.18 in October 2022 money. Seems to me that when you haven’t invested substantial money in the redesign or improvement of the car, you can get away with that kind of thing, and perhaps even should be required to.

Managing Editor Ralph Graves pretty much hands his column to Margaret Truman for a discussion of the writing process of her book about her father. It doesn’t tell you anything interesting. Some mellow, busy days went into its writing, I’d say.

GE takes a full-page ad, urging you to give the pretty girl in your life a GE Sunlamp so she can get a tan whenever she chooses. I mean, if she wants skin cancer that badly, why not enable her? (I wonder if GE has ever been sued over the lasting effects of tanning lamps, or whether it can rely on the simple legal defense that GE never forced anyone at gunpoint to sit in front of a sunlamp.)

“The Beat of LIFE” begins with Juan Peron, returned to Argentina, gazing happily out onto street-choking crowds of Peronistas. Thank God I live in a country that doesn’t have irrational political cults of personality … right?

An interesting spread shows us the work of Vatican art repairmen who are carefully fixing the marble face of Michelangelo’s Madonna, after an attacker named Lazlo Toth (!) took a hammer to it in May.

LBJ, who seems to show up a lot in these parts lately, is shown celebrating his 38th wedding anniversary with Lady Bird; Prince Charles, ditto, is shown on his 24th birthday wearing a kilt. The shots are paired by some editor’s debatable stretch-logic.

Hugh Sidey is pretty good this week, reporting on what life is like at Camp David, where President Nixon is spending a lot of time lately. If I had access to Camp David I’d probably be there a lot too. Sidey reports that the President was recently seen taking a casual walk while wearing “purple flared trousers” — a vision unfortunately not captured on camera.

Panasonic shows off its system for playing quadraphonic recordings. I think of George Harrison’s long-ago wisecrack that he was always skeptical of quadraphonic because you only have two ears.

Polaroid takes out two pages to advertise its full line of Polaroid Land Cameras. Wonder why Edwin Land had to have his last name on the product line? Kodak cameras aren’t — er, weren’t — Eastman Kodaks; George Eastman put his name on the company but not on the product.

I skim the masthead and am reminded that the editor of LIFE is a Thomas Griffith. We never seem to see him; he lurks in the clouds. (Why is it Managing Editor Ralph Graves gets a column but the big boss doesn’t?)

Cyclops watches Saturday morning network television kids’ programming. The only program he has a kind word for is the Jackson 5ive cartoon series. (He says something nice about ZOOM, again, but it’s not on on Saturdays.) He also notes the phenomenon of the networks cannibalizing their adult programming for cartoon equivalents. “Not much harm is being done,” he says, “and no good at all.”

Holland House touts packaged sour mix. Is it really that hard to mix an acceptable drink from scratch? I don’t do a lot of that, so maybe it is.

McDonald’s takes a full page to tell us that it serves Coca-Cola, not “a second-class soft drink.” Of course I am drawn to the anachronisms in the ad. There is no mention of “Coca-Cola products,” just the flagship … and McD’s touts its burgers and fries but nothing else from its menu. And of course the Coke pouring out of the tap is draining into one of those big styrofoam cups that are collectively not-decomposing under our feet by the billions.

Book reviewer Melvin Maddocks weighs in pithily and effectively on five books, including John Gardner’s The Sunlight Dialogues, which is apparently set in Batavia, New York, in the late 1960s. I might have to check that one out; I think the last good book I read that was set in western New York was Yobgorgle.

Next up is a two-page ad; the way it’s duplicated online, we see the photo — a smiling, attractive young man and woman under an umbrella, with a few prominently displayed hardcover books — before we can see the caption.

It’s mildly amusing to stop on the photo, without moving on to the caption, and brainstorm about what it might want to sell us. What will the accompanying pitch turn out to be? They don’t have cigarettes, hamburgers, or glasses of whiskey, so no, no, and no. They could be bright young Chevy Nova owners … but if they were, they’d be required by law to be standing next to the car, so no dice.

It could be something totally random — maybe they are so happy because they slept well on a certain mattress.  Or maybe it’s a public-service shock ad: These happy young Americans don’t know that they have gum disease, venereal disease, the yellow jack, and a leaky muffler that’s trying to kill them with carbon monoxide.

Oooooh, or maybe it’s America’s Light and Power Companies telling us that these people work at a nuclear plant and you should pay for more nuclear plants because they’re awesome! (See, I’ve become fluent in the ad-language of 1972 LIFE.)

Nooooooo, after all that, it’s an ad for the Army, recommending military service as a destination for those who aren’t quite ready to tackle college. I didn’t guess that, maybe because chauvinist me saw the pretty girl and didn’t think “soldier.” Be better, Blumenau.

Richard Schickel doesn’t much like Lady Sings the Blues, The Valachi Papers or Rage, though he finds things to praise about the first and last of them, mainly in the performances of Diana Ross and George C. Scott.

Westclox takes out an ad to reassure all those people who toss and turn all night because they’re worried that their alarm clock won’t ring in the morning. I have tossed and turned on plenty of nights and that has never been the reason. Indeed, anyone who ranks that among their biggest concerns ought to sleep soundly.

Sylvania expends lots and lots of words guiding you, the reader, through the process of evaluating and buying a stereo set. Not surprisingly, all the best features just happen to be built into Sylvanias.

“21 Years Ago in LIFE,” a photo essay about a rural South Carolina midwife clashes absurdly with the cover photo of leggy actress Suzy Parker. (is there any other kind of actress? If there is, they didn’t make the cover of LIFE, at least not back then.) I am heartened to learn that LIFE readers apparently deluged the midwife with donations that helped her open her own clinic; as of December 1972 she was still in business, with plans to retire in the coming year. I guess LIFE was good for something more than selling gift-wrapped whiskey.

The retrospective section ends with photos of three people who peaked before my time — Phil Silvers, Anthony Eden and Dean Acheson.

Virginia Slims follows with another of its “you’ve come a long way, baby” ads. This one merits seeing because of the remarkable matching floral outfit the model is wearing. I don’t think that’s a skirt, but it doesn’t look quite like pants either. Whatever it is, the pattern just screams.

Letters is oddly free of fireworks this week, except maybe from a Massillon, Ohio, resident who disputes LIFE’s claim that the people there have forgotten the sacrifices of Vietnam War soldiers. (The boys don’t all grow up to work in the steel mill, either.)

A spread shows Henry Kissinger at the American ambassador’s house in Paris in between peace negotiating sessions, then some pictures of American and Vietnamese leaders stepping outside during breaks in the negotiations. They are apparently our first glimpses of the process, but they don’t show much — just older men in coats standing or pacing outside buildings. I guess nobody turned any handsprings.

The editorials are pretty bland — one points out that 91 percent of West German voters took part in a recent election, as opposed to only 55 percent in the US Presidential election, and says “more people oughta vote here!” without bothering to propose any methods or solutions to make it happen.

Southern Comfort takes one of those off-putting ads that tells you to go buy the product but neatly sidesteps any discussion of what it tastes like or what’s in it. I go to Wiki to find out what is in it, and am at least heartened to learn that it’s based on whiskey again, after a period in which a corporate owner changed the base to neutral spirits.

The best part of the ad, hands down, is that — for a mere 75 cents or two for a dollar — you can get a poster that combines SoCo drink recipes and “fascinating facts on astrology, numerology, palmistry.” I have no idea how you shoehorn two subjects as diverse as those onto a single poster, but I bet it made a fine decoration for dorm rooms everywhere.

Yay NFL!!!!!!! Changes to the rules in 1972 have encouraged the running game, and a bunch of running backs are gaining mad yards; LIFE “talks” to seven of them in one-paragraph blurts. John Riggins admits that he’s thrilled to be on bubble-gum cards; Mercury Morris says that running on AstroTurf reminds him of running on the streets where he grew up; Floyd Little tells some scary stories about getting his bell rung; and OJ Simpson says he’s guilty, guilty, guilty.

Well, OK, one of those is made up.

Ford-Lincoln-Mercury makes a bold promise in blue type: They’ll fix it right the first time or they’ll fix it free the second time. I find this promise in no ways reassuring, as it is eight words too long. They also guarantee their service work for 90 days or 400 miles, whichever comes first, and that doesn’t give me the feelgoods either; you mean I might have to be back at the dealership in four months? Screw that, I’m buying a Volvo.

The Consumer Watch column returns with useful advice on which pets can make you sick, and with what illness. Goldfish are the safest, LIFE counsels; “no one has pinned anything serious on them yet.” A noble pet, the goldfish.

A Time-LIFE ad introduces us to a hostess of color who speaks only English, but can cook recipes from the world over, thanks to her Time-LIFE cookbooks. Coq au vin is once again cited as one of the world’s glamour dishes, along with beef Stroganov [sic] and cheese fondue.

Margaret Truman’s narrative of her father’s post-Presidency begins with the subhead: “Back home, Truman dealt with grass, pesky tourists and the verdict of history.” I am still not compelled … although I look at the story just long enough to see Truman and Eisenhower throwing some smack at each other on Eisenhower’s inauguration day.

Kodak takes an ad for its Instamatic X-15, which shoots 126-format cartridge film. Twelve exposures and you’ve gotta shell out for a fresh cartridge (and pay to get the old one developed). I like now better.

Hitachi takes an ad for various electronic products, including portable TVs. The room where the kids used to sleep when we visited my grandparents had a portable black-and-white in it for a while (can’t remember whether it was a Hitachi), and a portable TV served as our family’s computer monitor for a while in the Apple II+ days, so I actually have modestly fond recollections of small televisions. Today they are all barn-sized; I don’t necessarily like now better.

The story plods along; LIFE advertises itself as the perfect Christmas gift (I wonder when Hanukkah fell in 1972, and whether I will see it mentioned in LIFE); you can buy a Zippo lighter with a Dallas Cowboys helmet on it. Harry Truman verbally drills a friendly long-haired young man; eat it, Harry. A photo shows four Presidents at the funeral of Sam Rayburn, and it’s astonishing how much younger JFK looked than all the other old white political men in the surrounding pews.

The UCLA Art Gallery has assembled a touring show of rope art, and LIFE introduces us to it, with an introduction that doesn’t sound particularly sold on the whole idea. The headline and subhead are in one of those great ’60s typefaces I should know the name of but don’t (Zappa used it on the Absolutely Free cover, if memory serves.)

LIFE devotes several pages to the case of an Iowa couple whose five sons were taken from them and put into foster care, based on assertions that the parents were “retarded,” they kept a shabby house, and the boys’ behavior was incorrigible and beyond their control. (Their “moderately retarded” 11-year-old daughter and a baby remained with the parents, I assume because they hadn’t acted out like their brothers.)

The implication seems to be that the parents were railroaded, and that juvenile authorities were biased against them … but it doesn’t feel to me like LIFE has (or presents) evidence to prove that point. The parents’ case, at press time, had gone all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court, which ruled against them. We are left to conclude that the system was stacked against the parents all the way down the line, but it’s just as easy to come to the conclusion that, well, they had chances to prove their side, and they must not have done so. A sad story, yes … but it feels to me that LIFE tries to set up an argument that it doesn’t have solid backing for.

Parting Shots depicts the cast of an upcoming movie about the fall of Nazi Germany; it is apparently the first time Hollywood has shown Adolf Hitler and his henchmen as on-screen presences. Alec Guinness takes on the Hitler role. For balance, we also get British actor Simon Ward, star of the contemporary (and recently panned) Young Winston, duplicating Churchill’s famous bulldog portrait with photographer Yousof Karsh.

Should that bring back any unpleasant memories for LIFE readership of a certain age, they can drown them with some gift-wrapped Walker’s bourbon and chase them with menthol cigarettes.

Three issues to go.

December 12, 1981: A smile relieves a heart that grieves.

Been a while since I blogged an American Top 40 countdown, but people always seemed to like ’em, so here we go.

This is one I downloaded from the Internet Archive during the brief golden moment when someone had a cache of AT40s uploaded there. (Come to think of it, someone could have another cache uploaded there now. I love the Internet Archive but there’s something Wild West about it.)

Nineteen eighty-one wasn’t a tremendously good year for pop music, if memory serves, but let’s dive in and see if we find anything that suits us.

At this point, Casey has been doing AT40 countdowns since July 1970, and he is something of an established cultural presence in his little niche. He has also stopped appearing in horrible movies like the one with the guy with two heads.

Also at this point, a certain narrator of your acquaintance is in third grade when this airs. He is not yet listening to top 40 radio of his own accord, although he might hear it here or there in his travels amid the post-Pleistocene geography of the Rust Belt. He is aware that last week’s Number One is a big song that lots of people know, let’s put it that way, and other than that he is chiefly occupied with his NFL pencils.

So what does the Caser have to give us this week? (Favourites in bold, as always.)

Casey begins by playing the top three hits of last week, as he used to do after he moved to four hours in 1978 and had more time to kill. In the interest of suspense, I won’t tell you what the Top Three was last week; I’ll wait until the songs come up in this week’s countdown. (Edit: It turns out this week’s Top Three is unchanged from last week.)

No. 40: Don McLean with a new version of a song he charted with earlier, if I understand Casey correctly. Debuting this week, “Castles In The Air.” I’ve got a dream I want the world to share too, Don.

This is sort of soggy (“I’m weak but I can’t face that girl again”) … and yet not completely disastrous. “Strife” rhymes with both “life” and “wife” … and OK, maybe I take back whatever nice I was gonna say about this one.

I dunno: Nine-plus years after “American Pie” it’s nice to see the guy still exerting a commercial foothold, but the song has little to say for itself.

We’re counting down to the latest hit by the Beatle who almost didn’t make it through childhood, Casey says. I know who that is, and I can’t remember what he had on the chart in December 1981, and I kinda don’t wanna find out. But time is one-way, and so are these countdowns.

No. 39: From the LP Nine Tonight, here’s a former Top 10 hit: “Tryin’ To Live My Life Without You,” Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. There’s just something square and professional about this; I bet bar bands did great versions of it, because it just sorta plays by the rules. Again, I respect the artist but this is not his most incandescent work.

(I seem to write that, or variations on that, a lot. Maybe I am a bastard for expecting every artist to conjure up their most incandescent work every time they appear in front of me. This song kept Bob Seger in the general American consciousness as a commercially viable performer and is that so bad? Just accept the pleasant, Kurt, even when it drops eight spots.)

No. 38: Casey discusses the medical history of Ringo Starr, which involved repeated lengthy stays in the hospital as a boy. The first volume of Mark Lewisohn’s Beatles history is heartily recommended for its summation of Ringo’s medical bedevilments, as well as its capturing of the entire long-lost Liverpool milieu from which the Fab Four emerged.

(Ringo Starr became “the final Beatle,” the Caser says, and it’s a two-horse race to determine whether that analysis was truly correct.)

Ringo’s 10th solo hit is a tune written by George Harrison, “Wrack My Brain.” Ringo declares himself “all dried up,” and it’s hard to argue with him.He is, perhaps, coasting into the Forty on a post-Lennon wave of Beatles goodwill, rather than any particular quality in his current single. (Can you sing this song? I bet you can’t.)

This will be Ringo’s final Top 40 hit.

No. 37: One of four debut hits, Billy Joel with “She’s Got a Way.” This is a live version from the Songs from the Attic live elpee, although it’s faithful to the original studio version. According to Wiki, this was recorded at the Paradise club on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, which I have walked past a quarter-million times but have never been inside.

There is absolutely no reason Paul McCartney couldn’t have written this song except that he never managed to set aside time to think of it. This is BJ’s 15th Top 40 hit, apparently. It’s not among his greatest but it’s among his pretty-goodest and that counts for something.

No. 36: Caser drops some station call letters, like KCRV in Carruthersville, Missouri (where’s that?) and 6KG, Kalgoorlie, West Australia. The single, debuting this week, is the Stones with “Waiting On a Friend.”

Years ago I was hanging at Penfield High with some friends of mine who had business to transact in the front office. The secretary asked me if I needed anything and I said, “No, thanks. I’m just waitin’ on a friend” — reducing the other friend I happened to be with to giggles.

I guess I lead the sort of life where even a momentary outburst of laughter 35 years ago is mentally preserved as a high point, worthy of remembering.

Is this Sonny Rollins’ only appearance in the American Top 40? It’s gotta be. Unfortunately, Sonny was robbed of full credit by the fact that Tattoo You was partially comprised of vault tapes, and the Stones didn’t credit the contributing musicians because doing so would have made clear that they were cleaning out their leftovers.

Anyway, this — like “She’s Got A Way” — is a solid second-rank single for its performing artist. The kind of single that Internet commenters write deep-dives about in 2022, making cases about how underrated it is.

A listener in Mississippi wants to know what family act in the rock era has hit Number One the most times. Casey’s intro makes it clear that — three years after that family act reached unbelievable peaks — the listener in Mississippi damn well oughta remember them. But we’ll get validation in a moment. We’re just waitin’ on a friend.

No. 35: In their second week, up five notches, Queen and David Bowie with “Under Pressure.” In December 1981 this is just a random one-off from a pair of superstars. Give it a dozen years or so, and it will become An Event.

I will shamelessly promote the writing of Chris O’Leary here: He’s written two excellent books analyzing the work of David Bowie song-by-song (Rebel Rebel and Ashes to Ashes), and he is also a former college colleague of mine on the Boston University Daily Free Press. By Chris’s telling, “Under Pressure” was an impromptu studio collaboration that became, in the rearview mirror, something noteworthy for both artists.

By the late-year, can-we-wrap-it-up-yet-and-move-on standards of December 1981 — a year owned by the likes of AC/DC and REO Speedwagon — this song is an earthquake, particularly when Freddie Mercury’s “give love, give love, give love” makes way for Bowie’s “Love is an old-fashioned word.”

Anyway, I have no idea what the kids at the CYO youth dances thought of it, but this is art plus hooks plus concept plus heart …. and I’m gonna bet you won’t find that too often in the remaining 34 songs on this week’s Forty. (Casey mentions that this is Number One in England … and this week, England is a few steps ahead of the States.)

Now we’ll answer the question about family acts. It’s not the Jacksons, or the Everlys, or the Beach Boys. The act with the most Number Ones was the Bee Gees — you, listener, would have to have the attention span of a mayfly not to recall them — with nine Number One hits.

No. 34: Genesis, down five slots, with “No Reply at All.” I am hard-put to explain why I enjoy this. But as I’ve said in the past, there was a period from 1980-1982 — before Miami Vice, before the omnipresence of Phil Collins — when Genesis seemed to me to represent smart pop. They could play in odd time signatures, but then turn around and hire the Earth Wind & Fire Horns and record a shameless earworm like this.

I suppose there is a certain retrospective pleasure, too, in hearing Genesis before they toppled off the cliff — before they were an inescapable cultural presence, and were just an experienced rock band with catchy ideas.

No. 33: A band whose lead singer and keyboardist met while recording commercial jingles. Their first Top 40 hit, up a notch: Survivor, “Poor Man’s Son.”  About 12 steps down from Genesis, I’m afraid. Skip.

Casey teases the upcoming Top 100 year-end countdown, featuring a bunch of 1981 names. Then …

… No. 32: The biggest-ranking debut song this week, the Cars with “Shake It Up.” There are better Cars songs, but I don’t know if we’ll specifically hear Casey mention Boston again this week, so I have to apply the bold.

I wish I hadn’t traded in my secondhand copy of the first Cars LP from 1978, which is just astonishingly good, and which I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. I suppose I could buy another one.

No. 31: There are two former Number One songs still hanging on this week. This is one, down 14 notches. Christopher Cross, “Best That You Can Do (Arthur’s Theme),” a.k.a. the theme from Arthur, a.k.a. “The Moon and New York City.”

I remember hearing this one on the radio in 1981, perhaps at the family cottage on Keuka Lake that was new to us that summer, and it seems in retrospect like a defining earworm of its year. The writing credit for this includes Peter Allen, Carole Bayer Sager, and Burt Bacharach, which is a pretty distinguished pedigree. Still not bolding it.

No. 30, up six: Ronnie Milsap, “I Wouldn’t Have Missed It For the World.” I seem to remember this one coming over the radio, as well.

This isn’t the worst single we’ll hear this week either, however little interest I  have in country crossovers. If you heard it at the time, you can probably sing the chorus, too.

No. 29: Barry Manilow, “The Old Songs.” Do I have to listen to this and objectively evaluate it? My drink needs refreshing.

Oh, boy, a Long Distance Dedication. This letter is from a group of federal prison inmates in Oklahoma. “The music box is all we got.” They ask for “I’m Comin’ Out,” by Diana Ross, as a prelude to the day when they will be released into free society.

No. 28: This hit looks like it will place among the Top 100 of 1981. Down 18 notches, after 11 weeks in the Top 10, the Rolling Stones with “Start Me Up.” For all its ubiquity, “Start Me Up” really is that great and that jagged and that raw.

As you, the reader, probably know, this began life as a reggae song that was thrown onto the discard pile. I guess there’s a lesson in the fact that even Mick and Keef couldn’t recognize the raw pulsing heart of ROCK N’ ROLL directly in front of their noses, at least not immediately.

No. 27: Casey notes that Eddie Rabbitt just headlined for the first time at a major Las Vegas nightclub. You’ll have to excuse me if I am less than moved by that career achievement. (I still have that “you’d make a dead man come” business in my head; I’m not in Conventional Showbiz Mode right now.)

Rabbitt is up five notches with “Someone Could Lose a Heart Tonight.” I have no memory of this and I am blessed for it.

No. 26: More station namedrops, including KDWB, St. Paul/Minneapolis. Up two spots, Stevie Woods with “Steal the Night.” Who and what? This has that blanket of synth-strings going on in the background; this seems like the kind of music the narrator of “Hey Nineteen” would play to seduce the nineteen-year-old.

This sucks. Anyway:

No. 25: The latest hit by “the hard-rockin’ J. Geils Band.” Casey tells a story about Peter Wolf’s family background in vaudeville. Geils checks in with “Centerfold,” and while I might be kinda tired of it now, I’m trying to picture it from the viewpoint of December 12, 1981, when it was fresher. It’s just a shame that Magic Dick didn’t have more to do here.

No. 24: Up two notches, “Heart Like a Wheel” by the Steve Miller Band. As cold and clinical as the rest of Miller’s oeuvre, only less memorable. Miller’s first AT40 appearance since “Swingtown,” and he probably had name recognition to thank for it.

No. 23: Casey starts talking about “melodies from the classics,” and bleah, this can’t bode well for the average listener. He’s setting up a medley of Mozart, Sibelius, Handel, Grieg, etc.: the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and “Hooked On Classics.”

Classical music has much to offer … but sod this business of taking the top-line melodies and plopping them down atop disco beats.

No. 22: Chilliwack, from Canada, with “My Girl.” Good on ’em for making the Forty — before Rush, even — and it’s certainly an improvement over “Hooked On Classics.” Not quite hauling out the bold for this bit of Canadian falsetto longing, but it ain’t half bad as December 1981 goes. This is the Number One song in Canada this week, Casey reports … and maybe Canada, like England, is a step ahead of the States.

No. 21: Paul Davis of Meridian, Mississippi — the home of Peavey guitars and amplifiers — up four notches with “Cool Night.” Another song I oddly remember from the radio, far beyond any relation to my actual exposure to it, and I am tempted to bold it. I won’t, quite.

Suddenly this feels like the kind of countdown on which one would encounter Todd Rundgren and Utopia. One won’t, I think, but I’ll keep up my defenses anyway, just in case.

No. 20: The first hit single by the Go-Gos, up one notch with “Our Lips Are Sealed.” I dunno, there’s a certain new-wave verve to it, and it’s not as tired as “Vacation.” The bridge — “Hush, my darlin’, don’t you cry” — is an all-too-brief moment of genius. Five points for the clap track, too.

No. 19: Kool and the Gang, up three with “Take My Heart.” Zero memory tracks of this one. Apparently Eumir Deodato produced it, and Brian Jackson (the same Brian Jax from Gil Scott-Heron’s Midnight Band? One would have to assume so) plays keyboards on the album. That’s a pretty great pedigree for a nothing single like this one.

No. 18: The Caser name-drops more stations, including WDNH in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. I’ve been to Honesdale. I think it’s one of those places where “pizza” means tomatoes spread over thick bread.

Down 12 notches, Daryl Hall and John Oates with “Private Eyes.” This song is as astonishing as Kool’s is forgettable — this is one of Hall and Oates’s two or three best ever. (What else ranks? “You Make My Dreams,” and either “Sara Smile” or “She’s Gone.” Thanks for asking.)

Anyway, yeah, this is trebly and paranoid and tightly wound and Cold War-flavored, and yet at the same time also richly giving in the fine pop tradition. And is there more clap track? There might be.

It ain’t gonna get better but on we go:

No. 17: Juice Newton, up three notches with “The Sweetest Thing.” Remember Juice Newton? Hope she enjoyed her year or two. Is it OK if I don’t listen to the whole thing? It’s my blog, so yes, it is.

Casey tells the story of Jackie Wilson, who suffered a heart attack six years ago onstage in New Jersey and remains in a semi-comatose state. He invites readers to drop Jackie Wilson a Christmas card care of AT40, and spins Wilson’s “Higher and Higher.” Have I always found this song repetitious? Yes, I have.

No. 16: George Benson, a Pittsburgh native who’s since moved to Maui, up seven notches (the biggest mover this week) with “Turn Your Love Around.” This is the sort of early-’80s jazzy pop that’s kinda grabby, but not enough for a bold.

Casey mentions that “Bette Davis Eyes” and “Endless Love” each spent nine weeks at Number One in 1981, and if you tune in to the year-end holiday countdown, you can find out which one was Number One for the year. I am less than enthralled by the options.

No. 15: Barbra Streisand, up four spots, with “Comin’ In and Out of Your Life.” I’m waiting for rock n’ roll punch from this countdown and I’m not getting it. Perhaps I am wasting my time on a drawn blind, as the song says.

No. 14: Neil Diamond up two notches with “Yesterday’s Songs.” El blando supremo. I can’t imagine fifteen-year-olds were buying this, so who was responsible for keeping Neil D. in the Forty?

A reader question from Quebec: Which recording acts have had the most million-selling singles and albums? From fifth to first: Elton John; Diana Ross; the Rolling Stones; the Beatles; and Elvis Presley.

No. 13: Up five notches, Hall and Oates with “I Can’t Go For That.” This continues with the barbed sonic paranoia, but it doesn’t do it for me the way “Private Eyes” does.

No. 12: Lindsey Buckingham up a notch with “Trouble.” I’ve never quite been sold on Buckingham as a pop genius, and this doesn’t change my mind.

No. 11: Stevie Nicks and Donhenley, up a notch with “Leather and Lace.” This is better than “Trouble,” and, OK, it’s pretty good (“I am stronger than you know.”)

I’ve just arbitrarily decided to spell Don Henley’s name as one word: Donhenley. It looks like one of those bogus names they put on suburban subdivisions: “All modern conveniences! Six designs to choose from in Donhenley Estates.”

OK, time for the 10 biggest hits. Can this be over yet?

No. 10: Journey up one with “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Once again I encounter a now-tired song in a setting where it is ascendant, and not yet a part of the fixed pop-culture landscape. It’s a good piece of work; doesn’t mean enough to me to bold it, but it was inescapable for a reason.

Casey teases the life story of Frankie Lymon. Oh, boy.

Meanwhile, at No. 9, we have Quarterflash with “Harden My Heart.” One of those Benatar-ish tough-chick tunes. Nice chorus. Band from the club circuit Makes It. Nice job.

Casey explains what happened to Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, then cues Diana Ross at No. 8 with “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?”

Why does this cover version even exist? What did Diana Ross — a weathered veteran of the pop music wars — see in its naive message in 1981? Who wanted to hear it? And, maybe most importantly: Given the passing of Frankie Lymon years before, who got paid for it?

No. 7:  Down two notches, Air Supply with “Here I Am.” It passeth midnight here, where I am, and I arven’t the patience to appreciate the professional pop craftmanship that these gents are capable of bringing to the table.

Another long distance dedication — this time to a couple who went to high school together, then met and dated on vacation — from a guy who wants to hear “This Magic Moment” to help him remember a kiss on the beach.

No. 6, up two: Rod Stewart with “Young Turks.” Songs like this kind of deflate one’s notion of a Top Ten hit as being a cultural phenomenon, and a thing that means something to somebody. There were actually people who hung out by the radio waiting to hear this?

No. 5: Another radio-station call-out, including Rediffusion Singapore. The #1 soul song in the country: Earth Wind & Fire,. “Let’s Groove.” I run out of stuff to say.

No. 4: The Commodores holding for the second week with “Oh No.” See No. 5. Lionel Richie gets himself paid, and three cheers for that much, but I don’t have to hear it again. The Commodores’ 16th Top 40 hit.

No. 1 on the country chart: “Still Doin’ Time” by George Jones. No 1 on the album charts: Four by Foreigner. And for the second straight week on the pop chart ..

… No. 3: “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” the Police. I have a pretty firm no-bold policy where Sting is involved, but this does stomp most everything else around it, and I don’t mind hearing it more than once.

No. 2: Foreigner for the third week in a row with “Waiting For A Girl Like You.” A fellow traveler of the post-Pleistocene geography of the Rust Belt on lead vocal. It’s pretty good. Professional. Not too bad.

No. 1: This song just broke the tie for most Top Ten hits by a female singer in the past 10 years. It’s Olivia Newton-John with “Physical,” the most popular song in the U.S. for the fourth consecutive week.

I have vague memories of when this was a sociological phenomenon — like when people would make jokes about it, and when parodies would be played on the radio, and when it had sort of a general pop-culture buzz. That seems like a long time ago.

Kind of a damp squib, this countdown.

Unloading the hopper.

A few post-Thanksgiving odds and ends.

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It’s Michael Dukakis turkey soup time!


Some explanation for those who don’t know or have forgotten:

The former governor of Massachusetts and Presidential candidate is an evangelist for stock and soup made from leftover turkey carcasses — he’s one of those “everybody throws out the best part!” merchants.

Dukakis’ penchant for soup entered the mass consciousness (and the Mass. consciousness) in 2015, when the Boston Globe published his recipe for turkey soup, along with his open invitation for anyone in the Boston area to swing by his house and drop off carcasses they weren’t going to use. According to subsequent articles, he received deliveries of 28 picked-over fowl — filling his freezer and those of his neighbors — along with one that later arrived in the mail and that he threw out.

(In more recent years, it seems to have become a mini-tradition for Boston media outlets to run a “please don’t bring Michael Dukakis your turkey carcass this year” story. Exhibit One here; Exhibit Two here.)

As the Duke himself has said, there is nothing secret or magic about turkey stock. Simmer a carcass for a couple of hours with some aromatics, and you have a stash of stock that can be filed away in the freezer, defrosted anytime, and turned into a quick dinner using whatever stray add-ins you can find in the pantry or at the bottom of the crisper drawer.

We don’t do this at my house every year. But somebody brought it up this year … and in these inflationary times, I feel especially frugal.

So I threw the old bird into a pot with two bay leaves, some sliced-up onion and carrot, a little celery, and a few peppercorns. Later tonight, after it simmers and cools, I’ll discard the solids, portion out the broth, and put it up in the freezer for whatever the winter brings.

Waste not, want not.

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I have been enjoying a quiet and lovely Thanksgiving, with both kids at home (though one is about to ship out again as I type this). Couldn’t ask for better. I hope my readers are enjoying the same, or something like it.

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I was researching one of my baseball stories a little while ago when I came across this Sports Illustrated story from April 1972 with a berserk, breathtaking first paragraph — one Hunter S. Thompson would have applauded.

The rest of it’s pretty good too, but the intro just puts you there.

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Got “published” recently in one of those weird ways that I do.

The alumni magazine at my alma mater, Boston University, threw out a request, or a challenge, or an invitation, for alums to write a poem about gratitude. They got 80 poems or so in return.

They put ’em all on the website, but they only had room for about a dozen in the fall quarterly issue of the print magazine. Mine made the cut.

(That might have owed more to its brevity than anything else.)

Anybody wanting to know what I had to say about gratitude can find my poem, and 79 others, on the Bostonia website.

I told my wife that I should submit an entry to the alumni achievements section of Bostonia that says, “Kurt Blumenau, COM/CAS ’95, got published in the fall 2022 issue of Bostonia.” Seems like one of those jokes that would fail to amuse the person on the receiving end, though.

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Been researching the Nuns’ Days they used to have at Fenway Park in the 1960s and there will probably be writing on that subject at some point (not here; maybe here.)

Is it baseball season yet?

Slow and thankful.

I had a whole post mapped out in my head this morning about the end of a personal streak … but by luck, grace, and/or patience, it will have to appear another day.

To the best of my knowledge, in my post-high school running history, I have never had to either abandon a 5K to injury or walk part of the way. The caveman has always shown up, done his thing from start to finish, and gone home in one piece — whether he was running a half-marathon, or a 5K shortened to two-and-a-half miles by sloppy conditions, or distances in between.

(I do remember one race that I came out of with some knee problems, years ago in Pennsylvania, but it didn’t stop me from running and finishing.)

The half-marathon I ran in Hartford in early October has left me with some nagging leg-muscle problems. My right calf is particularly troublesome. It feels fine as long as I don’t run … but as soon as I try to run, it sooner or later feels like an alligator is biting it, too painful to run through.

I don’t think I tore anything, because the pain is not constant — it only hurts if I push it. The problem is, pushing it is integral to my preferred (indeed, only) method of staying in shape and blowing off stress and frustration.

Anyway, I signed up for my favored Thanksgiving Day 5K in Framingham — the one I triumphantly returned to in 2019 — as well as another race in early December, before I realized the calf problem wasn’t going to magically vanish with a few days of grudging idleness and a couple of ibuprofen.

I hadn’t run in at least a week-and-a-half when I went to Framingham this morning, and had even rolled back my walking workouts to a fair degree.

I figured I would jog at a deliberately gentle pace until the calf complained, at which point I would walk the rest of the way. It would still be a workout in the crisp air, and burn a few calories, and get me out of the house. Plenty of other people walk the 5K; I wouldn’t be alone.

But the calf was kind to me. It started feeling tight maybe a mile in, and it was pretty tight at the end, but the alligator never bit down. I was able to jog every step of the way, punctuating my finish with an emphatic two-footed jump on the timing pad.

It didn’t occur to me until later that a fat man’s two-footed jump is maybe not the best thing for timing equipment. Hopefully they build those timing pads strong, knowing that at least a couple people are going to thump down on them hard. C’mon, fat man, act like you’ve been there before.

Anyway, my streak of completing races lives for another day. The streak might not survive the race on December 4, but if it doesn’t, that’s fine too.

(I also enjoyed my unique-to-Framingham post-race tradition of a Budweiser and a banana. Somebody always has a couple cases of beer at the finish line, and I take one with thanks. It’s the only Bud I drink in a typical year. If I knew who was responsible, I might write a check to support their beer fund. It’s a nice perk.)

My shorter streak of completing 5Ks in a time half my age is over, but that’s OK. I’ll have to make it a goal to get back there, gradually, over time.

I’m not getting younger, so running half my age oughta get easier every day, right? Right?

On the drive in I listened to Can’s Tago Mago — not hype music; more pensive and mysterious, befitting the uncertain outcome of the race. And on the drive home through the ancient precincts of Natick and Sherborn I listened to Cheap Trick’s Dream Police, which isn’t really hype music either, just a comfortable old friend I subconsciously associate with this time of year.

That seemed sufficient for a day of limited and tightly defined triumphs.

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As a side note, I recently signed an online petition protesting my hometown school district’s decision to fire my former cross-country and track coach.

Coach Hennessey had been there for 47 years, becoming the national leader in cross-country league-meet wins, before the district told him a few weeks before winter track season that it wasn’t renewing his contract.

The district has said only that they wanted to “go in a different direction.” For 47 years, Coach Hennessey has embodied athletic success, positive personal impact on athletes, and all-around good-natured dedication … so God knows what other direction the district wants to go in instead. Doesn’t really matter to me, as my kids don’t go there.

Some would find it interesting that I am dealing with a running problem at the same time my old coach got fired. It’s funny to think that maybe I was good to keep plodding as long as the guy who taught me to do it was still around, but once he left, some invisible level of mojo disappeared.

Of course there’s not really a direct line there. The issue is simply that I’m getting older, and have more miles on the odometer than I used to, and the simplistic “don’t think too hard, just run and stretch a little” approach that carried me this far might not be enough as I get older.

Maintaining the status quo might require more thought, effort, and strategy than it has. It probably also requires the advice of a doctor, which is something I have to buckle down and go get one of these days.

Today, though, I will be thankful. Thankful for the long-ago presence of a great coach who started me on the path, and thankful that all these years later I am still able to cross a finish line … however gracelessly.

November 24, 1972: George Wallace fights back.

We continue the PAST LIFEs series, in which we revisit the last few months of LIFE magazine, issue by issue, on the 50th anniversary of its departure. Five are left.

Something or somebody caused a spike in traffic for last week’s entry. Not sure what it was, but if you’re reading, thanks. This one might or might not be as interesting.

We are up to the November 24, 1972, issue. You can read along here if you want. My grandpa saved this one.


Depending on your perspective, the cover photo is either a stirring shot of a man who refuses to give into physical disability, or a pitiable shot of a man who is trying to convince America that he still has enough of his physical abilities to remain a viable Presidential candidate (given that Americans, with one exception, don’t have a long history of electing those with disabilities to the Presidency).

It’s Friday night and I have just had a snapping disagreement with a co-worker but will try not to let it infect my review of this magazine.

Calvert Extra, the Soft Whiskey, touts itself as a holiday gift suitable for Tom, Dick, or Harry. Presumably not Jane, Margie, or Amanda, though. Their angle: Rather than try to remember all your friends’/colleagues’/relatives’ gift preferences, just give ’em booze. Hiccup.

Managing Editor Ralph Graves introduces a photog named Bill Stack, who has his first LIFE byline with a photo essay on boot camp at Parris Island — a trip he himself took as a young recruit. The cover tease promises, “Marine boot camp is still hell,” and I am left wondering why I should want to read something that tells me what I already knew. Maybe if the photos are good …

Magnavox takes a two-page ad asking whether you want your stereo sound to come built into a console, or as separate components. I am firmly in the latter camp, by nurture, and wonder where all the consoles are now.

“The Beat of LIFE” brings us into the excitement on Wall Street on November 14, when the Dow Jones finished above 1,000 points for the very first time. White men are thrilled. I guess it’s a refreshing contrast to the stereotyped white-man-gestures-frantically Wall Street stock-trading photo.

We get a spread of college football photos: Rich Glover, Johnny Rodgers, and Greg Pruitt are stars who will face off Thanksgiving Day with the Heisman Trophy in the balance.

Then we get a spread of photos of Earth taken by the ERTS satellite — in infrared! They’re not all that interesting but they are infrared, so hooray for scientific progress. One of the photos shows New England, including the entire infra-rhode state of Rhode Island. I guess the photo that shows a six-mile swath of polluted water off New Jersey is kinda interesting.

Cheesecake alert! Twenty months before, Sonia McMahon, wife of Australia’s prime minister, had been photographed descending a staircase and displaying lots of leg. With her husband on the campaign trail, LIFE takes the opportunity to re-run the shot, along with a new photo of Ms. McMahon among a herd of sheep. Sigh.

Hugh Sidey is reasonably readable this week as he writes about the aftermath of the Presidential election. Richard Nixon is making noises about reorganizing the White House and cutting staff; Democrats of all stations stare at smoking rubble. I don’t think I said anything to my colleague that I’ll regret on Monday.

Seagram’s VO is the next whiskey into the gift-giving market. A man and woman stand in a room that, I assume, was meant to impress people in 1972 as, I dunno, old money or something. Old portraits, wood, high ceilings, a fireplace, a big Christmas tree, and like that. It does not look like a room I would want to spend time in. I bet it’s drafty.

Tyco apes Norman Rockwell with a two-page ad for electric trains, in which a young boy is surprised to find (presumably) his dad and grandpa playing on Christmas Eve with the next day’s gift of electric trains. I find the ad quite touching — not because of the painting, but because it brings back those sepia-toned days when makers of toy trains took out two-page ads in national magazines.

The other page, in hard-to-read type, lists stores in New England and New York where you can buy Tyco trains — which makes me wonder, not for the first time, about the regional “zoning” of these issues.

I blow up the size of the ad, just to try to figure out where the nearest store to my house was, and I am confronted with some crazy long-gone names: Lechmere! Two Guys! Mammoth Mart! Abraham & Straus! Naum Brothers! Sibley’s! Bradlees!

A “former New York newspaperman” named Joel Sayre gives a rave review to a book collection of drawings by John Held Jr., whose Jazz Age-type style you would recognize. Mr. Sayre notes that Held-drawn flappers “had long, racy legs with beautiful bone structure to them,” then goes on to add that they were “scant in their pectoral region”  because that was the fashion. Whatever he might have been like in person, he comes across — well, not quite as a dirty old man, but as one of those disagreeably smudged old men who doesn’t understand that, no, nobody wants to go there.

Time-LIFE takes a full-page ad (or maybe “gives itself a full-page ad” is a better way to put it) advertising a book chronicling the latest in photography gear, ideas, and approaches for 1973. Might be a fun read now.

Actually, part of it is a fun read now: The ad touts that the government’s Project Documerica has put 50 photographers to work across the country to document the condition of the environment. A whole bunch of photos from Project Documerica are available on Flickr, and they’re a marvelous time capsule of man’s inhumanity to Earth, as well as various aspects of social life. Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 1970s.

Cyclops raves about NBC Reports, a documentary series whose subjects have included pension-plan manipulation, Japanese-American internment during World War II, accessory-to-mass-murder Caril Fugate, and the Tasaday tribe (hey, weren’t we just talking about them?) George Dickel, meanwhile, wants you to give still more whiskey.

The American Gas Association tells America they’ll have to dig deep to pay for more natural gas, but it’s worth it because gas is cleaner-burning than coal. This is accompanied by a photo of a kid blissing out in a mammoth tree. One of the problems of adulthood is you can’t climb trees any more, but that one looks big enough to hold a full-grown individual. BRB, as the cool kids on the Internet say.

Somebody is selling Swedish army officers’ coats; the look is “really now,” apparently. I am content to never have worn one. The theater critic takes up “Pippin,” which just got a photo spread a week or two ago. I learn that Ben Vereen’s character is called Leading Player, which is pretty damn stylin’. Maybe now that I’ve quit Twitter, Facebook,. and Instagram, I’ll use that as my CB handle.

For only $2 in coach, United Airlines passengers can watch 26 minutes of an NFL game while they fly — presumably a Los Angeles Rams game, since they’re the team pictured. It would be great if you plunked down your $2 and it turned out to be the Houston Oilers and Philadelphia Eagles trading fumbles and offsides penalties for 26 minutes.

(Oh, OK, I actually bother to read the ad, and allegedly those 26 minutes contain an entire Game of the Week minus time-outs, halftime and huddles. Can you really fit all the action of a football game into 26 minutes? If so, why don’t they?)

Old Grand-Dad is next, and you’ll never guess what they’re suggesting, and dude I want a shiny silver paisley-patterned box with a bottle of 100-proof inside.

Recent LIFE coverboy Joe Namath, still wearing that eyes-narrowed semi-drunken smirk that made him so much money, appears in an ad for La-Z-Boy lounge chairs. Joe has clearly been cut-and-pasted in from some other background; a slice of his hair is missing. The overall effect is disorienting.

“36 Years Ago in LIFE,” we revisit the magazine’s very first issue, with photography by Margaret Bourke-White. I believe that, as of this issue, LIFE had yet to announce its closing. Robert Taylor, “Today’s Great Lover of the Screen,” appears in one of those delightfully ripe old portrait shots. Cutty Sark brings the number of whiskies that want you to give them away to five. Why did this grand tradition fade away before I could turn 21?

The Letters section lights up with fireworks in a few places. Barbara Korth of Oakland, California, strafes LIFE for giving Jackie Robinson’s death too little space and the Onassises’ anniversary party too much. Terry Burrington, morning radio jock on WCLO in Janesville, Wisconsin, says he thinks listeners don’t need to be “put on,” “put down” or “put through” Don Imus’s daily shtick.

Regarding the spread on the children of Presidents, a reader from Hollywood asks about the children of Warren Harding and Woodrow Wilson; LIFE assures him that Harding had no children and Wilson’s kids are dead. LIFE is, of course, half-right … although Harding’s illegitimate daughter was still in the “alleged” category in 1972, as DNA testing did not prove the relationship until 2015, after her death.

David Maxey’s cover story on George Wallace in therapy plays solidly to the positive. I am trying to decide if my inability to summon sympathy and admiration for Mr. Segregation Forever is a character flaw in me.

An entertaining spread about the massive popularity of blue denim follows. I have worn blue denim every single day of my life that I could (except for the days when I wore either shorts or sweat pants) so I heartily applaud this.

What makes this article great, besides the fact that it’s mostly a free ad for Levi’s? Well, French rock n’ roll legend Johnny Hallyday (why him of all people?) makes an appearance in an eagle-studded denim shirt and studded jeans. And a California rancher is shown admiring the interior of his new Levi’s-edition AMC Gremlin. He looks damned happy, and so too would I be.

Hey, ladies: Bulova points out that its self-winding ladies’ watches wind themselves while you’re knocking back booze and necking. No, really. It seems like a triumph of design.

A big blue Olds Ninety-Eight gets a testimonial from the design head of Henredon Furniture, which seems like a name I should know but don’t. Of course, there’s a lot about furniture I don’t know, seeing as I’m typing this while seated at what used to be my older brother’s desk when he was in elementary school. The faux-walnut three-piece set has sat quietly through a lot of bad writing, including right now.

LIFE reminds people that the deadline is upcoming for its Bicentennial Photo Contest: While the deadline for submission has been extended to March 1, 1973, photos must be taken by December 31, 1972. Of course, in the days before digital dating, there is no way to know for certain when a photo is taken; it would be amusing to think of somebody taking the winning photo on February 1 just to cock a snook at the judges.

(Also, I note the specific language in the ad: You have until midnight March 1, 1973, to mail your photos to us. 11:45 p.m., March 1, 1973: The streets of Atlanta are filled with drunks, windblown newspapers … and one hell-bent photographer in a secondhand Dodge Dart, steaming toward the post office. Don’t really big cities have, like, one post office that keeps crazy hours? Or did I dream that?)

The Record-a-Call Company of Paramount, California, takes an eighth-page ad to display its telephone answering machine. The tone of the copy suggests that the idea of recording phone messages — and remotely accessing them — is new for people. Apparently Americans grew familiar with it over the next two years, as an answering machine would be a prominent part of a TV-show opening beginning in September 1974.

LIFE rolls out the first of two parts of Margaret Truman’s memoir-slash-biography, with the second to follow next week. I am acquainted enough with the Truman legend that I don’t feel like reading it. Old Harry, as previously mentioned, has less than a month to live when this issue hits stands and mailboxes.

Another California company offers readers the chance to buy a roomful of cheap furniture and “do your bit for ecology, too.”  The furniture in question (allegedly) knocks down and builds up easily, plus it’s made from “recycled paper tubes — incredibly strong — with plastic fittings and shelves.”  I suppose in an alternate universe these people were the IKEA of the Seventies.

Ronrico rum shows off a big fizzy drink but doesn’t suggest that you give its product away for Christmas. That’s just a whiskey thing, I guess. I’m listening to the Rockford Files theme now on semi-repeat and that’s a serious jam.

A full-page ad follows of a sort I’m not used to seeing in LIFE. It offers the chance to buy property at Sleepy Hollow Lake, a man-made lake and recreational development in New York’s Hudson Valley. The photo — of a Sunfish-style sailboat scudding across sunny water — features a caveat: The lake is still under development, but bonds have been posted to ensure full completion.

I go to Wikipedia, hoping to find out this was a raging scam and the property is now a county dump, lovers’ lane and impromptu skatepark … but no, the place got built, and it’s still there fulfilling its function as a privately owned vacation development. According to Wiki, the New York State-record white crappie was caught in Sleepy Hollow Lake in 2021. What a load of crappie.

I’ve mostly forgot about my colleague. Hey! An ad for Fotomat photo centers, the little booth-looking things that used to fit into stray corners of mall parking lots. You can order Christmas cards there with family photos on them, to send to the people who are also getting bottles of whiskey. You can sign them, too, with the exotic-wood Hallmark pens being sold a couple of pages later. (Fancy pens are cool but I’m always losing my writing utensils so I don’t spend any more on them than I have to.)

Benson & Hedges Multifilters runs an ad featuring a young woman wearing roughly 35 pounds of bedazzlements around her neck. She is, perhaps, not doing her neck any favors inside or out.

The boot camp essay is boot camp. There are scared kids and screaming drill instructors. You, as the cliche says, know the drill.

More interesting is Parting Shots, which touches base with Ann-Margret, who is recovering from a freak accident in which a mechanical hand she was riding dropped her 22 feet onto a Lake Tahoe stage. It sounds horrifying but apparently she’s dancing up a storm.

LIFE also interviews a Spanish-speaking passenger on a jet recently hijacked to Cuba; the passenger got to meet Fidel Castro after disembarking. The interview is short and not especially revelatory, and the pictures aren’t great either.

The issue ends on a note that is pure 1972: The student government president of the University of Hartford challenged the school president to a duel, and the president agreed, on the condition that he choose the weapon. His choice: Cream pies. After a sequence of blow-by-blow covering the rounds of the duel, the last photo in the issue shows the lavishly mustached president and his hippie-ish opponent, grinning widely, with arms around each other.

I bet it settled nothing … and all those young people who two years earlier were marching and shutting down campuses in protest probably wondered what the hell happened to the revolution.

The question would recur.

(One last note from this issue: Canadian Club runs an ad in which, apparently, a complete amateur is handed the job of lassoing a wild rhino. Canadian Club doesn’t give a good goddamn if you give it away for Christmas, apparently. Finis.)

Swirl the dawn of the tongue in the morning.

I’m doing that thing again where I go to the Internet Archive … find videos of local bands playing in summer park-and-rec concert series … watch the videos with the closed captioning on … and laugh uproariously as the poor-quality captions make these local musicians seem like they’re spouting surreal streams of consciousness.

I rarely fail to find this hilarious. And really, we should all have something in our lives that can be counted on to make us convulse with laughter without causing any direct harm to anybody else.

This time around I’m watching a video from my old hometown, of a three-piece rockabilly Fifties-type band grinding it out one summer evening before the pandemic. They’ve got the hollow-body Gretsch and the big upright bass and … well, a distinctive lyrical take on things, at least according to the captions.

(I won’t include their name in this post. In case someone happens to be searching for them online, I wouldn’t want this post to be found and the poor quality of the closed captioning to be held against them. However, I will link to the video in question, in case anyone out there wants to confirm that this exists.)

Last night I dreamed I was the elderly Henry Aaron’s home health care aide (no, seriously, I did.) Tonight I hope to consider some of these captions in my sleep, and perhaps figure out what bizarre set of occurrences they are referring to.

The bomb room? The little dog? A jug-toting bishop? “The burning in the bud”? A folded body? Singing along with blood? Conservative lips? A shooter with a book by the sea?

I think the closed captioning is trying to tell me something (the plot of a really wild novel, maybe?) and it has seized on this obscure video as its means to reach me.