The Twenty-Third Best Email We Wrote This Past Weekend
The Twenty-Third Best Email We Wrote This Past Weekend: YOUR HMM WEEKLY NEWS-LETTER
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LAST WEEK ON HMM DAILY
Sometimes the art elements for the posts line up funny. Do not read anything into it.
Bravo on the folk tales, the Jim Cookean contributions and the prose too. These are worth something. A 38-page story book, for children who have been naughty?
x —Alex T
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The Future Is Over
PHOTO: DAVE_7 VIA WIKIPEDIA
An old, old Toyota was sitting at the stoplight—a Supra, it had to be, all sharp wedges and low, wide rectangles. It was in fine condition. It could have passed for something much newer, but nothing newer looks like that.
The seven-year-old, the car enthusiast, couldn't stop marveling at it. "That car is so old," he said. "It looks like the car on the cover of the Neil Young album with 'Computer Age.'"
OK, yes, fine, I know: look—this is just how the child experiences culture, under our present conditions. It's not my fault. We're talking here about someone who learned that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker's father courtesy of a sticker book about Lego minifigures, before he'd ever seen a Star Wars move, or maybe any movies. I was just trying to show him the riff from the Sonic Youth cover of "Computer Age," because he was singing something over and over that sounded like it, or like a cross between the "Computer Age" riff and the "Super Freak" riff. So we went to YouTube.
We went to YouTube, and YouTube has the answers to a curious person's follow-up questions. Maybe those answers tell you the earth is flat, or that you should think about joining ISIS. Here (after we'd dealt with "Super Freak") the question was, if the Sonic Youth song was a cover, what was the original?
I didn't even really know the original myself. My position on Neil Young is that I like Neil Young songs, a lot, when people other than Neil Young do them. Neil Young was Old People Shit, back when I was Young People. This was before the Old People had their counterrevolution, when the idea of the future still existed. Why would you listen to old music, when people were making new music?
So I pulled up the Neil Young "Computer Age" on YouTube and started playing it, and I had to giggle. The seven-year-old asked me what was funny. I had forgotten that this album had existed, Trans, the album where Neil Young went all bloop-blip with the synths and vocoder. This was...not what Neil Young usually sounded like, I told the child. What did Neil Young usually sound like? I looked up some real Neeeeeill Younnnnnnnng stuff, clips of his own versions of the songs of his the Pixies had covered, with him playing that excellent noisy rock guitar at those tempos and durations I can live without. Then we went back to the bloop-blip.
Bloop-blip! I played him "The Metro" by Berlin, to try to explain what bloop-blip had meant, to me, at the time. He wanted the Neil Young bloop-blip. We played it a few times, as he stared at the Trans album art in the static YouTube clip: the low-slung hyper-angular car coming toward you, the dowdy old-fashioned car heading away into the sunset.
We had really believed we in the process of solving it, that the sharp angles were going to pry apart the world, so that the new and cool would cover the ruins of the corny and old. I went off to bright-kid camp and my roommate spiked his hair with mousse and wore a maroon-and-black tunic-and-pants ensemble, in parachute cloth, cut in angles to taper from the shoulders down. He looked like he'd rolled off the same assembly line as a Honda scooter. This was what things and people were becoming, then.
Now the seven-year-old, born in the true age of computers, has learned to identify that aesthetic himself. It's the look of how things used to be, long ago.
JOE MACLEOD'S SUPERMARKET SWEEPIN'S™
Each week, Joe will present an item he saw at the supermarket. Not to suggest that you buy it, or eat it, or anything like that, it's just to show you an item of interest available at the supermarket. Clean-up on all aisles!
B&M Brown Bread, found in the supermarket near the canned beans
This week's item: B&M BROWN BREAD!
$3.79 for a net weight one-lb can of loaf at my local supermarket.
Here in the news-letter we've been sending out selected recipes for sandwiches from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book: 400 Ways to Make a Sandwich, by Eva Greene Fuller, published in 1909, and I noticed a lot of the recipes called for "brown bread," and so I looked for some at my local supermarket.
Look at all that bread! And that's not even the muffins and bagels! No brown bread! The closest thing I could find was Pepperidge German Farm Dark Wheat, which, when you look at a slice, is more on the gray side.
Meanwhile, weeks ago on an unrelated mission near the canned beans aisle, I saw CANNED BREAD, made by B&M (Burnham & Morrill), makers of canned beans, which is something B&M suggest you serve with this bread as a "special treat."
I am going to make a series of sandwiches with this brown bread, but for now, I tried this one:
TOMATO AND NUT SANDWICH
Chop three medium sized tomatoes, add one small green pepper chopped fine, and a half-cup of chopped walnuts; add a dash of mayonnaise dressing and place on a lettuce leaf between thin slices of white bread cut in squares.
I know, it calls for white bread, but I wanted to try the TOMATO AND NUT part! So it's time to open the bread!
I managed to complete the task without having to "push the loaf." It's a lot drier to the touch than it looks, and straight out of the can it sorta tastes like a not-sweet molasses cookie. It's not bad!
I made the TOMATO AND NUT SANDWICH, and it was OK, but I think the sweetness of the bread didn't work with the sandwich filling.
The bread ingredients don't seem to be too awful, I mean, compared to typical macro-breads. I'm going to make a few more Antique Sandwiches with it and report in next week. If you're not revolted by the commercial bakery ingredients (but it's loaded with fiber!), it could be a fun thing to buy and enjoy with your kids, to warp their idea of what food is.
Unsurprisingly, I guess, it REALLY works nicely toasted with some (a lot) of butter on it, wowwww, the toasting sorta caramelizes the sugars, brings up the molasses flavor and adds sort of a nuttiness to it.
This was a less-toasted slice, I ate the more-toasted one before I remembered to take a picture, but bottom line, not bad at all!
Thank you, and see you at the discount dented cans rack.
HERE IS A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE SKY
We are still deciding what serial project should come after our 19 Folktales. In the meantime, here's yet another installment of Spam Filter Letters to the Awl, from the 80,000-word collection of dummy-text cover letters I wrote to make sure that when I emailed that site a photograph of the sky, the filters would allow it to go through.
Subject: So we beat on, boats against the current,
To: Awl notes
a current consisting of the ineffable intransigence of the computers, not an active current you can see and brace against, but a reactive one, a current that only bears back the boats because the boats are trying to bear themselves forward--an impersonal and yet directed resistance, as devoid of hostility as the tides, but where the tides represent forces beyond human scale, the filters represent simply an over-iteration of human-scaled response. Here is a photograph of the sky; the review is in the system.
Subject: "Above the world so high...
To: Awl notes
"Like a diamond in the sty..." So serenades the two-year-old as he squirms and presses and clutches, unwilling to move off, motivated by what he thinks is need and affection but is actually a combination of boredom and dread and unacknowledged bladder pressure, coming together in a seething crisis. Why? Because preschool is over for the summer as of today, so he has lost his grounding in routine. Even the littlest humans need routine and structure. Routine frees us not to have to think. This is what the machines do not attend to or allow, in their heroic misconception of human nature, as conveyed to them by human programmers. The human forbidden to function by rote is a human lost in the wilderness of conflicting impulses and possibilities, forced into an excess of awareness and decision. All the human really wants is to deliver a photograph, like the attached, and to signal that a piece of work, the writing of a weather review, has been done.
Subject: In one respect, the routine
To: Awl notes
has gotten easier, in that after an embarrassingly long time, I finally figured out that in this apartment, the windows slide sideways, so that I can point a phone-camera out the narrow child-safe opening and snap a photo of the sky that way. In the old apartment, the windows tipped out from the bottom, so I had to remember to take a picture when I stepped out the door (tilting the camera up ever higher as the building next door added more and more new floors, till eventually the phone-camera stopped recognizing which way I had meant the picture to be oriented). Although, either way, the challenge is in remembering to make sure to do it--which is to say, in routinizing it till it becomes impossible to forget to do it. Anyway, here is a photograph, and the review is in the system.
Subject: In the larger sense
To: Awl notes
it would be much harder to have to take film out of a camera and go into a darkroom and develop the negatives and print out a photograph of the sky, and then to deliver it to Brooklyn by hand, although at some point in that counterfactual scenario, the offices of a publication would not be located in Brooklyn, owing to the time and expense of delivering printed-out photographs there. So here is a digital transmission of a photograph, if the digital channels are willing to transmit it, and also notification that a galley proof of the review of yesterday's weather is available in the basket outside the paste-up room.
Subject: Marc Andreessen tells us
To: Awl notes
that the future is one-bit communication: yes/no, red light/green light, yo/absence of yo. This would at least simplify things with respect to the machines' perceptions of human communication. At last, identifiable "humanity" would be beside the point; only the recipient would need understand what the one-bit communication was meant to convey. The machines would simply deliver it, and context would do the rest of the work.
We present here for your continued amusement, delectation, and possible degustation a selection of recipes for antique but entirely possible sandwiches, found in The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book: 400 Ways to Make a Sandwich, published in 1909 and now in the public domain for all to enjoy. Enjoy, and if you have made any of these sandwiches, please send a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two medium sized tomatoes, three green sweet peppers, and one small onion, chop fine, mix together, salt, and drain in sieve for five minutes. Mix with a little salad dressing and place on a lettuce leaf, between this slices of white or whole wheat bread lightly buttered.
GRILL ROOM OYSTER SANDWICH
Toast three slices of white bread and lightly butter. Place fried oysters between the slices and dust lightly with pepper and sale. Cut in strips and serve on a lettuce leaf. Remove contents of half an orange peel and fill with chili sauce. Serve on a plate with the sandwich.
Spread thinly buttered white bread with caviare, season with lemon juice, and on top of this lay a little minced lobster. Cover with another slice of buttered bread and place on lettuce leaf.
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