Friday, June 29, 2018

1963 Fall Fashion Supreme Court Style

So far, it’s only a rumor, white robes for the Supreme Court justices.  And people in the know deny it.  But Wessays (™) has learned that with the upcoming 6-3 majority, the measurements are being taken and the bids will soon go out.

Traditional judicial robes are black.  But a source close to Chief Justice John “Vertigo” Roberts says “some of our justices thought it might be a good time for a change.”

We polled the current justices.  Here are the results:

Chief Justice Roberts:  Did not respond.

Associate Justice Ginsburg: “I am having my clerk block your email”

Associate Justice Breyer: “I’m on the fence about this one. Get back to me over the summer.”

Associate Justice Alito: “I strongly support the right of Supreme Court justices to choose the color of their robes. I lean white.”

Associate Justice Gorsuch: “This is complex. I can’t rush to judgment.  I will have to consult my law book. Oh. Ruthie, while you’re up would you mind getting me a cup of coffee?  Extra light. Three sugars.”

Associate Justice Sotomayor: “I don’t comment on cases we may have to decide.”

Associate Justice Kagan: “I don’t care. But I think Sonia would look really svelte in white.”

Associate Justice Thomas: “Do I get to wear the hood in the ‘hood?”

Associate Justice Kennedy: “What was the question again?

So Kennedy is set to retire.  And then whoever we get will be the worst of Thomas, Scalia, Gorsuch, Alito and Roberts.

Legal note: You don’t have to be a lower court judge to be on the Supreme court. In fact you don’t even need to be a lawyer.

This leaves the field open to such great minds as Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Steve Bannon and Bill O’Feely.... Uh, O’Reilly.

And since David Koch has retired from decades of good works in the public interest he may be available.  Since the Rehnquist era the workload has been lighter than air.  So Dave probably wouldn’t be over-taxed. (Plus not being over taxed is a multi-generational and possibly genetic characteristic.)

Before it takes off for the summer, the present court is leaving us with some Judge-On-Crack decisions.

--You can’t learn about abortion from some entity that calls itself a “Pregnancy Crisis Center.”

--If you don’t like to join a union, you can freeload its bargaining prowess and worker rights by not paying a fee in lieu of dues.

--If you’re in the right tribe you can give limitless amounts of money to political candidates as long as they promise something of equal value in return if elected.

--You’re welcome to visit or even become a citizen as long as you’re not Mexican or Muslim.

It’s all part of the ongoing plan to dismantle the America normal people of every stripe have worked the last 80-something years to build.  What further damage can they do?  Don’t look for answers here. We don’t have the kind of mind that can dream up this kind of tearing down.

--J.B. Writes from Nashua NH to ask whether there really a move is afoot to change the title “Chief Justice” to “Imperial Wizard.  None that we are aware of.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

1962 Nine Steps to Murder

Made for TV murder mysteries follow only a few story lines.  But they all have certain requirements.

--They’re set in a place where “things like this never happen.”  So, invent a small midwestern town where “everyone knows everyone else” and people “never used to lock their doors.”

--The victim is an attractive white woman who “didn’t have an enemy in the world,” and whose personality “lit up the room” and caused “everyone to smile.” Or make it a “beloved retired…” postman or grocer or cab driver who “always had a cheerful word for everyone,” told “great stories” and wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Keep those never-locked doors in mind.

There also are some plot requirements.  The eventual perpetrator can’t be accurately named until there are only 20 minutes left in the hour.  So, focus on some harmless character who
--Doesn’t have an alibi. Or
--Fails a lie detector test. Or
--Is the estranged or former spouse (if the victim is a woman) or is a mentally challenged neighbor who people shy from but don’t dislike. In this case, the gender of the victim doesn’t matter.

Things to remember:
--The cops are stymied.  Cops in mysteries are always stymied.
--The case “threatens to go cold” until
--There’s a sudden break in the case.
--Viewers have no short term memory so make sure you have a slightly different recap to begin each segment after a commercial break. Plus these things fill time because although the show runs an hour (37 minutes plus commercials) the stories are simple.

1.  Someone is killed.
2.  Police are stymied until
3.  There’s a big break in the case.
4.  The big break turns out to be a dead end.
5.  Police are stymied until
6.  There’s a “real” break that “takes the investigation into a whole new direction.”
7.  A “suspect” or two is identified.
8.  The “real killer” is found, tried and convicted or the case remains unsolved but if you have any information call the tip line number on your screen.
Some things that will come in handy:
--Posters and or billboards with a picture of the victim and the headline “MISSING.”
--Townspeople tacking up the posters.
--More townspeople walking through the woods looking intensely at each step.
--At least one tracking dog, preferably one that doesn’t look playful or dumb.
--Evidence boxes.
--A cop who is doggedly determined to “solve this one.”
--Actors or those who knew the victim who cry convincingly both in front of fake news cameras or (even better) real ones.
--The victim’s equally saintly sibling.

I’ve handed you a box of parts. Now get busy and use them to create your very own TV murder mystery.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Monday, June 25, 2018

1961 Kicking the Can

This is not about “kicking the can down the road.” It’s about just kicking the can.  And it’s not really the can’s fault.  It’s the people who put stuff in it and sell it.

You can put on your steel-toed work boots and boot these things into the next century and when they arrive there, they may be dented but they’re still sealed.  They say “Best by 2/13/2104” for a reason.  And that’s not an expiration date, it’s just a precaution.

The cans to kick are those that have funny weights.  One in the cabinet says 14.5 ounces.  Not 14. Not 15. Certainly not 16. 14.5.  Where do they get that?

Maybe it’s because canned food makers think in metric.  So let’s find out what 14.5 ounces is in grams. Goodness!  It’s a nice round figure.  411.  Great if you ever forget the phone number for Directory Assistance.  Actually, we didn’t have to get out the scratch pad and the pencil. The gram weight is right there on the label.

So is the volume.  The can holds “One cup.”

We’re not talking about some unheard of brand of soup or string beans.  We’re talking about a national brand.  But we’ll call it Mother Cluck’s Original Recipe Chicken Broth.  Why commit slander via truth and name the brand?  But you’d know it the minute you saw it.

These odd measurements all have to do with the biggest question facing food retailers today: “How can I jack up the price without seeming to?”  Another translation: “How much less than usual can I put in the can, bottle or jar and charge the same, which is actually a price increase?”

It’s not what “Mother” would have done. Mother Cluck who actually is a 76-year-old man who inherited the company from his father who inherited it from his father.  Yes, the Cluck Family has been in the canning trade for three generations.  But Mother herself never had anything to do with the company other than creating the secret recipe.

It’s not so secret anymore.  Here it is:

--Four quarts of water.
--One chicken.

Place the salt, water and chicken in the pot and heat on the stovetop until most traces of the chicken disappear.

Strain the liquid.

Later, you can make the recipe without the salt and call the product “Mother Cluck’s Chicken Broth -- Low Sodium.”

But let’s get back to those ingredients for a moment. Many recipes require unusual measurements.  For example, yours may require ¾ of a cup of broth, if It were one cup or half a cup, measurement would be easy.  Dump the contents of the can or half the contents into whatever you’re using it for.

¾ of a cup takes some careful measurement.

Oh… and then there’s the nutrition label.  Calories per serving: 100.  Servings per can: About 2.45.

TODAY’S QUOTE: “Once a family gets to a third generation it’s about ready to fold.” -- attributed to Steve Forbes who is the third generation of his family to run the magazine.  Quoted by Mother Clucker CEO of Mother Clucker’s of which he is the third generation owner.

Movie Recommendation: “The Promise.” If you find it on either your streaming service or real TV, consider watching it.  It’s a tangled love story and about how our great ally and NATO partner, Turkey, tried to obliterate its entire Armenian population around the time of WWI, something they still deny.  No big names were hurt or during the making of this movie because no big names were in it.

--Dan Ingram was the disc jockey many of us in radio wanted most to be like.  Ingram died yesterday in Florida at 83 of complications from Parkinson's. He was lightning-witted, a little risqué and smooth on the air and a joy to listen to.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

Friday, June 22, 2018

1960 High Times

We’ve seen this before and sometimes it works. Major moneybags take over a once-great newspaper and revive it.  Where it didn’t work: The Orange County Register.  Where it has, at least so far: The Washington Post and the Boston Globe.

Now a billionaire doctor-owner of a high tech California company is giving the Los Angeles Times a shot at getting off the deathbed and walking out of the hospice on its own.

We’ve already had plenty to say about the new owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong (see link below) and the fine work Otis Chandler of the dysfunctional Chandler family (see other link below) did to Make the LAT Great Again.  (It worked, unlike some other “Make… Great’s of our acquaintance.)

No, today we’ll talk about three things.  The building, the new top editor and the staff.

First, the building, an art deco monstrosity the paper has occupied since 1935, the year “It Happened One Night” with Gable and Colbert won the Academy Award for Best Picture down the block and around the corner.

The paper is moving to a new “campus,” as they now call corporate sprawl on open land these days. The remaining staff will have to get used to things they don’t expect at work: telephones made in this century, air conditioning and hot water that work on the same day.  And no trace of previous owner, Tronc, which sounds the name of someone who emerges from a flying saucer and destroys the Chicago Tribune, which is exactly what happened.

The new editor is Norm Pearlstein who has played in some of America’s classiest journalistic pool rooms including Time, Inc. (twice) and Forbes and the Wall Street Journal. He even did a cameo as Bloomberg’s Chief Content Officer which neither he nor anyone else know what it was.

Pearlstein acted as adviser to Dr. Soon-Shiong in his search for talent.  An “adviser” different from a “consultant” in that he only borrows your watch and charges to tell you the time, instead of stealing it.  Dr. S got his watch back and decided after getting turned down by the major-ist editors in modern newspaperdom that Pearlstein suggested and hired Pearlstein who is 75 years old, knows the ropes and will recruit the talent to the Times in ways they’ll be able to wear red baseball hats with “Great Again” on them and mean it.

Which brings us to the staff.  Usually reporters are skeptical of new owners.  If that’s the case here, it’s pretty hard to detect.  Even the head of the reporters’ union likes the idea.  They’re welcome his arrival with celebrations.

Pearlstein says he wants to attract major talent to the sprawling region of Los Angeles.  And surely he will. He also will look for sick wood among present staffers.  There’s no actual deadwood left, but there are enough vacancies to populate “America’s Most Wanted” for three seasons.

So, rack-em-up and let Norm do is magic.  It may be Hollywood, but the tricks may be real, not illusions.
And let’s hope high times remain.

For context, you may want to look at our previous post about the Times, here

And an earlier one here

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

1959 Culture Shock: Who Wears the Pants in This Band?

News Item: The New York Philharmonic is getting ready to overturn a 176-year-old ban, women in pants on stage.  Lincoln Center has been shaken to its very core. No longer will women members be forced to wear skirts or (shudder) dresses.

Okay, it’s not a done deal yet. But the biggest of the “Big Five” symphony orchestras has sent out trial balloons. And when the New York Philharmonic sends up hot air, it usually cools and lands in reality.

Part of the trial balloon leaked to the NY Times which leaked it to the Associated Press.  And that’s how we all found out about it.  This is the only major orchestra that forces women to put their dresses on, except for outdoor events.  

No one will accuse this band of making hasty decisions.  This one started in the 1980s when a woman horn player in San Francisco got one of her valves caught in the folds of her dress, hitting clinker after clinker and awakening the audience of flower power people too high to understand it wasn’t part of a new arrangement.

If a musician gets her valve caught in a skirt in San Francisco in 1980, it sets up a chain reaction of events lasting decades and finally lands at Lincoln Center.

Good thing it didn’t happen sooner, else CNN would be doing endless stories of women with skirt-fold-caught valves.  Talk radio would label it another left wing conspiracy to force people into costumes not of their own choosing.  And Bloomberg TV would be analyzing historic charts of Selmer horn sales.

We are, at least, spared from “How does it feel to get your valve caught?” And tours of French horn factories interspersed with brief “fair use” clips of Leonard Bernstein waving a stick at a bunch of guys in tuxedos.

It’s fine to have a dress code if you’re a symphony orchestra.  If not for that, the musicians would show up in rags that used to be sweaters or those figure-enhancing yoga pants.  But there are limits. And limiting what women can wear from mid-thigh to ankle must violate half a dozen anti-discrimination laws.  If an orchestra bars women in pants, then someone will find a way to send management to jail.

Hmmm.  That may not be the worst possible outcome.

So, relax, ladies.  It’ll soon be okay to search the fashion magazines for pictures of Hillary Clinton and tips on where to get the best deals on LadyTuxes.

TODAY’S QUOTE: “¡Papa! ¡Papa!” -- child at a Border Patrol children’s’ prison camp as he is removed from the arms of his father.

--Literally ripping kids and their parents apart and putting the children in cages?  What’s next, trains to the camps and their showers?  What country is this again?

--The administration says the kids are being “well treated.”  You call traumatizing a toddler “well treated?” This is the kind of response that turns ordinary apathetic citizens into anarchists.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

Monday, June 18, 2018

1958 Too Many Rights

1958 Too Many Rights

Note to readers: No vaudevillians, scientists or onlookers were hurt during the following adventure.

This could have been Abbott and Costello. Or Olsen and Johnson. Or Laurel and Hardy. Or Black and Decker. But it wasn’t. It was just “A” and “B” trying to put together a three-drawer plastic cabinet.

The first hint that all wouldn’t be well was the label on the box: one part of it said “easy to assemble.” There is no such thing as easy to assemble. And it’s especially difficult when it says on the box “easy to assemble.”

Also on the box: product descriptions in three languages, one of which was Spanish. One of the things it said in Spanish was “quatro cajones.” You have to assume the word has at least two meanings and the meaning the factory had in mind was drawers.

So Einstein and Kepler unpack the thing, all the while admiring its sturdy all-vinyl construction and its attractive two tone grey finish.

There are 4,000 parts. There are no instructions. Not even instrucciones. Just pictures. Smeared, vague, poorly drawn pictures.

Step by step, though. Now, here’s Kepler trying to put one of the sides into the bottom, while Einstein studies the drawings. Then, Kepler studies the drawings and Einstein gets the second side into the bottom.

Building this thing goes on and on and on. It’s 90 degrees. The vaudeville duo is out in the garage disputing whether it would be cooler with the door open or closed.

What happens when you get a great scientific vaudeville duo performing in a garage on a hot summer-like weekend and looking for distractions and an excuse to return the thing without losing face? There’s no good answer.
Here’s a handy hint when doing this yourself: you can’t un-do some of those plastic things without wrecking them, so get it right the first time.

Next, metal sliders with small wheels, one pair for each of the four drawers and one for each of the sides of the cabinet.

Laurel and Costello look for markings on the metal. Right. Left. Whatever. Some are marked some are not. No problem. Two great minds can figure out which unmarked metal goes where. This is why we win Academy Awards and Nobel Prizes.

Nothing lines up. There is no way to get the drawers into the cabinet without them either sticking in there or falling out under load – load being the weight of the drawer itself.

Reverse things. Unscrew things. Screw things back. Double check the blurry instruction pictures.

Off to the store to inspect the floor model. No floor model. They don’t have these anymore. Small wonder. But a helpful guy shows the two great scientists and vaudeville and movie performers how these kinds of things typically work. Easy. No problem. No problemo.

All it takes is a little patience and quatro cajones.
Finally, there’s a case conference. Should this thing go back? The scent of defeat is in the air. Find an excuse.

Carefully going over ground covered and re-covered for hours, the two superheroes find the face-saving excuse they need: the drawer sliders were counted wrong at the factory.

There are nine right sides and seven lefts. That’s too many rights.

--At last, a really practical practicum. Hofstra University has announced a new, course for the people in the above story.  It’s how to get the things you unpack repacked when you return them so that the shipping box can be completely closed.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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Friday, June 15, 2018

1957a We Are Taking Today Off. Reasons:

We are Missing in Action today. Or maybe it’s Missing Inaction.  Wessays ™ will return Monday, 6/18/18. We are taking a day off for two reasons:
1.  We’ve been invited to watch two renowned vaudevillians and two Nobel-level scientists assemble a polystyrene storage cabinet. And…
2.   Our home town is about to undergo a cultural revolution the likes of which have not been seen since women got the vote.
Each of these events will be covered individually next week.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

1957 Dim and DImmer

(Photo: Dennis Rodman/Getty Images)
Are you getting all warm and fuzzy about the NoKo thing?  You are not alone.  It turned out OK-ish. If you don’t count the part about how trump got nothing in return for a vague and empty promise to denuclearize.  Oh, and the war won’t start tomorrow. But before the Two Old Friends sat down for trump’s Asian medicine treatment -- leeching -- there was chaos.  Here’s a look at what happened before Singapore.

Dim and Dimmer’s summit hadn’t started as this post was put together.  And it doesn’t matter what happened or didn’t happen at the Summit of the Century, at least as far as we’re concerned here, because everyone has now reported on it and you are chock full o’data about what everyone has and had to say.

No, this is about the runup to the unlikely meeting between Kim Jong-un of North Korea and donald trump president of what used to be the United States of America but now is some third world wannabe striving for legitimacy in the eyes of the rest of the world and doing so by throwing stink bombs.

The news story up until the first moment of the meeting was “there’s a meetin’ here tonight.”  But that wouldn’t have satisfied those of us who must speculate and analyze and read tea leaves.  After all, how could Wolf Blitzer and Rachel Maddow and the Grudge Report survive on a mere few words when they have all that time and space to fill.

So we do endless previews, based on guesswork, sometimes educated guesswork.  Else ACN Newsnight would have to would have to put up a slide that says “There is no news of the Summit in Singapore.  Stay tuned for seven minutes of Percy Faith records, three minutes of commercials and then Will McAvoy will be here to tell you about cats rescued from trees in East Mongoose, Indiana and a ham pot pie dinner in Fognozzle, Nebraska.”

Well, there is no ACN and there is no Will McAvoy and CNN and the rest of the mob still have to fill the time, so they get panels of people to discuss such holiness as what can and can’t be accomplished at the meeting.

And then there’ll be a panel on the political implications, where “experts” on every side of every issue will pontificate about the effect of the summit on the 2018 elections and the 2020 elections. Bloomberg TV and CNBC will put on panel discussions about the effects on the markets, with some side tracks about the impending trade war and its likely doom of world trade.

ShrinkTV, the psychology channel, will put on some interesting speculation, featuring panels of psychiatrists, psychologists, swamis, psychics, self help gurus and the intellectual descendants of such luminaries as Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Art Bell and other important cultural figures.

Print media was right up there with its more widely circulated broadcast pals.  The New York Times, Washington Post, MAD Magazine, Forbes, Fortune, the Wall St. Journal and every other huxter with a website and an ax to grind... ground.

Bottom line: No one knew nuttin’.  But they had to fill the time and space.  Because they know you don’t like Percy Faith records all that much. Plus nobody ever shouts during one of those, except maybe to shut off the Victrola.

--Give ‘em the benefit of the doubt.  The stopped clock president and frozen in time supreme leader may actually have accomplished a great leap forward, to quote Mao. And we still can flip a nuclear missile into Pyongyang faster than Kim can hit Sacramento.

-Yeah, who needs Canada and Britain and Germany for trade when we have NoKo and Russia?

-ATT to buy Time Warner after a judge says anticompetitive M&A is good for you. (We may have more about this on Friday or next week unless something uglier comes along.

-Tesla is reducing its workforce and Elon says he’ll run the whole shebang by himself, which he has been all along, anyway.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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4745 An Ounce of Cure

  Forget the ounce of prevention and the pound of cure.  With everything getting odder, let’s make it a Troy Ounce of prevention.   While “n...