Saturday, June 6, 2009

Next Week's Episode

Country Girls

Here's the quickie video summary:

This was the second episode of Little House on the Prairie (Not counting the pilot movie). Perhaps it will offer clues as to how things flew off the rails?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Harriet's Happenings 5/5

There is a stampede of women running through town. Harriet is peeking out the window of the Mercantile as she flips the closed/open sign to “Open” and sees the stampede running towards her building. “Nels, it’s going to be a banner day,” she squeals. I believe Nels is mumbling the “Serenity Prayer” to himself. Oops, Harriet forgot to unlock the door so she scampers over to let the crowd in. Wow, there are quite a few people at the store and they are grabbing all sorts of merchandise off the shelves. Nels tries to keep up with his ledger but fails instantly. At the door Harriet greets Mrs. Foster and they chit chat about the wonderfulness of the sale. Mrs. Foster has had her eye on a mantle clock and now she can afford it with the sale. Harriet walks over to the display and talks up the piece and Mrs. Foster is sold on it instantly. Mrs. Foster grabs the clock and heads for the door. Harriet chases after her to collect payment. “Of course not,” Mrs. Foster says. She shows Harriet the newspaper which reads “Public Service Sale. 100% off of everything.” Mrs. Foster leaves as Harriet has a conniption. People are leaving the store with armfuls of items as Nels joins in on the freakout. Once everyone is out, Nels closes and locks the doors and flips the sign back to “Closed”.

Outside the Oleson house we can see Laura and Albert laughing at their little prank. Meanwhile inside, Nels is trying to comfort Harriet who is lying down on the couch in the parlor. Nellie barges in screaming “I HATE YOU!” Her parents ask what the problem is and she shows them the paper. “With Nellie Oleson’s looks no boy will be seen out with her at night.” Hehehe. Harriet whines that she didn’t write that, but Nellie has already stormed out of the room. “They can’t do this to me,” Harriet continues, but Nels reminds her “there’s no such word as ‘can’t’.” Willie decides to help by pointing out the tidbit about Harriet. “We have it from a most reliable source that Mrs. Oleson hair is not all her own. And neither are her teeth.” She starts to sob. Before Nels comforts his wife, he winks at Willie who then smiles.

At the homestead, we can see that the Ingalls kids are in the loft eavesdropping on Caroline and Harriet. Caroline is assuring Mrs. Oleson that the kids are being punished by not being allowed to work at the paper. Harriet is not satisfied with this resolution, probably because they would have been fired regardless. She suggests horse-whipping. Caroline waits a beat before telling Harriet “If the items were wrong, I don’t know that they weren’t…” Harriet interrupts Caroline saying that those items were wrong. Caroline continues “then you can always print a retraction. Put it right on the front page – don’t stick it way in the back. Something to the effect of, um, ‘Contrary to published reports, Harriet Oleson does not have false teeth and does not wear a wig.’” Harriet looks horrified at the suggestion and I want to give Caroline a high-five. Harriet turns around and leaves without saying anything.

Later on we see that another issue of the paper is being distributed. Meanwhile, Pa is drilling a hole in the barn as Laura and Albert return from fishing. Charles notices they came back early and asks what happened. Laura produces a copy of the latest edition. Charles admonishes them for buying a paper, but Laura tells him Nellie just gave them a copy. According to her, Harriet wanted Albert to have a copy for free. Uh oh. Albert reads the article in question: “The joke of Walnut Grove. The whole town is laughing over the fact that Charles Ingalls young houseguest Albert No-Name calls Charles ‘Pa’. He even had the audacity to register the boy in Walnut Grove school as ‘Albert Ingalls’. But who are we to laugh? Perhaps the boy really is Charles’, in which case the joke is on Caroline Ingalls.” Charles looks heartbroken. Albert apologizes, saying it was his idea to change the type. Laura chimes in saying they were just trying to teach Mrs. Oleson a lesson. Noble effort, Half-Pint, but I think even fire, brimstone, and sulfur would fail at teaching Harriet Oleson a lesson. Albert says he’ll tell Mrs. Garvey to change his name back to “Albert”, but Charles tells him no. “You like being my son?” he asks. Albert says he does, and Charles replies “Well I like being your Pa, so that’s the end of that.” Laura mentions that there is an item about the Schillers in the paper also. “It was reported earlier in this column it was a sad mistake to pick the son of illiterate parents to represent Walnut Grove in the Spelling Contest. Perhaps Mrs. Garvey has learned her lesson this time. By the way, Mr. Garvey is considering buying his wife a ham for their fifteenth wedding anniversary and I call that true love.” Could you imagine what Harriet would have been like if MySpace and blogs were around in her lifetime? Geez Louise. Anyway, Charles vows to hold a mirror up to The Pen and Plow at church on Sunday.

As the bell rings outside church Sunday morning, Papa Schiller hands Charles a Bible. The congregation takes their seats inside as Charles walks up to the pulpit. Oh, I guess Charles is substitute preacher this week as Reverend Alden is absent. Charles blames nervousness as the reason for forgetting his own Bible and thanks Mr. Schiller for letting him borrow his. Charles has picked Exodus 20:16 as today’s source material. Charles suggests that Walnut Grove’s outstanding citizen should read the text and invites Harriet up to the pulpit. Oh gross, she has her homemade “Press” card pinned to the lapel of her jacket. Caroline and Doc Baker share a glance. There is quite a bit of symmetry in this episode. Charles reminds Harriet which passage she should read as she looks at the book. She does a double take and whispers to Charles “I can’t read this.” “Why, are you illiterate?” Charles asks. Heavy-handed enough for you, folks? Harriet says it is written in some foreign gibberish. “It’s not gibberish, it’s German,” Charles responds. Mama Schiller smiles at this. “Just because I can’t read German doesn’t make me illiterate,” Harriet states. Charles agrees and continues by saying the converse of that statement is true for the Schillers. Harriet slams the book closed and returns to her seat.

Charles goes on to commend the Schillers for their ability to speak two languages which is a rarity within this particular congregation. Charles also claims another person present today speaks two languages: Sterling Murdoch. “Mr. Murdoch’s second language is that of his newspaper The Pen and the Plow [sic]. It’s a language made up of half-truths, innuendos and outright lies. It’s the language of yellow journalism.” Sorry Charles, but I’m going to have to call Anachronism on you. The concept of “Yellow Journalism” didn’t really establish itself, at least under that terminology, until the mid-1880’s and that would have been in New York City. This probably would not have filtered its way to Walnut Grove until the 1890’s at the earliest, about fifteen years after this episode would have taken place. Anyway, Murdoch stands up and argues that church may not be the proper venue to discuss this issue. Harriet agrees with Sterling and I think I agree as well, particularly because the term “bully pulpit” was not coined until the early 1900’s. Charles, of course, disagrees and tells Harriet to sit down. Charles goes on to talk about his earlier encounter with Murdoch and the freedom of the press argument. Charles says he doesn’t believe that entails spreading lies, damaging a person’s name or hurting people. Ooo, you are treading into very gray and murky waters there, Charles. He goes on to say that this publishing philosophy is in direct conflict with the text selection of the day: The eighth commandment, which is “thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor”.

Charles asks rhetorically “why do you continue to support that paper? Do you derive that much pleasure from the pain and suffering of others? Or is it because it’s not you that’s being hurt?” Harriet clenches her jaw as her second cousin once removed glares at Mr. Ingalls. “When you go out and buy that newspaper on Saturday morning, you are supporting and encouraging the very sins that you decry in this church on Sunday.” Charles suggests that the congregation starts practicing what they preach. The congregation mulls over these words as Harriet makes a ridiculous pouting face. She looks like Droopy Dog. Charles then suggests that the congregation rise and sing “What a Friend”. Murdoch takes this moment to exit the church. As the crowd sings in that way that white Christians tend to sing, Nels whispers to Jonathan that he can stop by the Mercantile after church to pick up the dress.

Laura voices over that the newspaper went out of business about a month later and the town went back to normal. She reports that Pa hoped that a real newspaper would one day open in town. “’Freedom of the press,’ Pa says, ‘is as important as all our other freedoms and should never be abused.’” You know, if you ignore the fact that Joseph Pulitzer was a yellow journalist before becoming a philanthropist and the namesake of the Pulitzer Prize, I could almost agree with Charles. But I don’t.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Harriet's Happenings 4/5

Erich and Papa Schiller are working on their fence when Charles drops by for a visit. He is returning the Bible that Mr. Schiller left at the school after he ran out of the Spelling Bee. Charles wanted to return it at church on Sunday but apparently the Schillers skipped out on the services this week because Erich was sick. Charles doesn’t seem to buy that excuse and asks Erich if it is true that he quit school. Erich says he doesn’t need school and points to his Papa that you can do just fine without it. Papa Schiller says he doesn’t understand what happened with that Spelling Bee to cause Erich to hate school. So you can’t spell “xanthophyll”; that’s a very small part of life. Charles confides that no one expected Erich to win the Spelling Bee because of the article in the paper and, as a result, Erich tried to hard and failed. Shut up, Charles. Papa Schiller says he heard that Mrs. Oleson hoped that Erich would win but Charles reports that she said more. “Just remember, son, if you quit school then Mrs. Oleson gets her petty revenge,” Charles says. “The only one who’s going to suffer is you.” You know, just because you brought their Bible back doesn’t give you license to be a preacher, Ingalls. Charles leaves so that the Schillers can have a chat. Papa asks what else the Frau said and Erich tells him the whole “illiterate” part of the story. I know English is not Papa Schiller’s first language, but he must have a pretty firm grasp of it if the word “illiterate” can be communicated with relative easy. Papa asks Erich why he didn’t tell them before and the boy says he didn’t want his parents to be hurt. “That woman can not hurt us, Erich,” says Papa. He then tells his son to go back to school so he can grow up and be better than they are. They have a moment. Aww. Papa sends Erich to school.

Over at the Pen and Plow office, Charles is talking with Murdoch about the quality of his publication. “This is America, Mr. Ingalls. Every business is entitled to make a legitimate profit, even newspapers.” Although Murdoch’s publication isn’t my cup of tea, the man has a point. Even though I agree with Charles calling the paper a “scandal sheet”, I like the First Amendment way more than I dislike The Pen and Plow. Charles resents the fact that the paper is being used to spread lies and rumors and promote the writer’s business. Yeah, the conflict of interest aspect is a bit disgusting. Murdoch is holding firm on his free market “give the public what it wants” publishing style. Charles says he doesn’t want to buy Murdoch’s garbage. Before he leaves, Charles reminds Murdoch that he owes his kids a week’s pay and they will be in later to pick it up. Uh, Charles, you do understand how the money to pay their wages is being generated, right?

Later that day, Harriet is walking over to the newspaper office to deliver her latest report. A dog chases after her and she runs into the office. Albert and Laura are rather sedated as they sit in the office chairs. Harriet wonders aloud why people bring dogs into town instead of leaving them at their farms where they belong. She then starts to mince about the office and is surprised to see that her cousin is not there. Laura tells Mrs. Oleson that he went to the telegraph office, so Harriet does her own copy editing as the children look on. After mumbling the details of the latest sale at the Mercantile, Harriet reads the next news item out loud. “There is a rumor being widely circulated that Nellie Oleson probably has the highest moral character in the community. She won’t be seen out with a boy at night.” Oy, where to begin? You know, with all of the non-news items reported these days, they are surprisingly more informative, more relevant, and not as poorly written as that tidbit of junk. Sorry, but the editor in me just had an ulcer. Anyway, Harriet skims the remainder of her copy until she reaches the following item: “Mrs. Oleson has been receiving many, many compliments on her likeness in The Pen and Plow. Some say that it brings out her natural beauty and others say it doesn’t quite do her justice.” I don’t care if “stet” is written in huge red letters across the copy, that shit needs fixing.

Laura has to bite her tongue to keep from openly laughing at Mrs. Oleson. Harriet places the copy on the desk and gives her permission to go to press as she leaves the office. Once the door is closed, Laura cannot contain herself and starts snarking on Harriet. Albert doesn’t seem to be paying attention to his sister as he stares at the typeset in front of him. A light bulb turns on in his head and he reorients the typeset. “I think we ought to check this type again,” Albert says. Laura says there’s nothing that needs changing and Pa said they aren’t allowed. “I know what he said,” replies Albert, “but I thought we might change it a little bit, if you get my meaning.” A smile crosses Laura’s face as she hops onto Albert’s train of thought. She joins her brother at the type set and they get to work.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Harriet's Happenings 3/5

It’s Friday evening and the newest edition of The Pen and Plow is hot off the presses. We join the Garveys at their place where it looks like they are finishing eating dinner outside. Alice is reading the paper and spots an item that she shares with the family. “Your devoted reporter hears disturbing reports of short weight, low quality and high prices in the general stores over in Tracey and Lamberton. At Oleson’s Mercantile it is always the reverse: The highest quality and the lowest prices in Hiro Township.” I do have to hand it to the writers for really nailing the style used in newspapers of that time. The vocabulary and sentence structure of newspapers was so different back then and I can’t really think of anything modern that really matches it. Jonathan chuckles and speaks almost admirably of Harriet’s blatant advertisements. He continues to whittle a piece of wood as Alice skims the paper. She stops and calls for her husband’s attention with a serious tone in her voice. “By an extremely reliable source we have learned with sadness that the Jonathan Garveys are deeply in debt, unable to pay long overdue bills. Bankruptcy looms and they may lose their farm.” I guess Journalism Ethics is offered only every other year at whatever school Harriet is learning her craft. Andy asks if the story is true and Jonathan says the story has to do with a bill over at the Mercantile. “Pure spite,” claims Alice. “That’s the only thing pure about Harriet Oleson,” Jonathan says, throwing his whittle stick to the ground.

Over at the homestead, Laura and Albert are doing their homework as Pa pours himself a cup of coffee in the kitchen. Laura is working on her spelling and Pa asks her how she thinks Walnut Grove will do in the Spelling Bee. Both kids want Erich to win, particularly after the article in the paper about the Schillers. Pa says he doesn’t read the paper, but since the kids are setting the type they have no choice. Albert recites the article from memory. “Erich Schiller was voted to represent Walnut Grove in the annual Spelling Bee. Of course we would all like him to win.” Voted? I really don’t think Harriet has any understanding as to how a Spelling Bee works. Caroline is surprised at how nice that article was considering the author. Laura continues with the recitation: “However, it is most unlikely because Erich comes from an illiterate family, though Erich tries hard to conceal this sad and embarrassing fact.” You know, I am continually amazed at how Harriet manages to outdo herself each week in just how wretched a person she can be.

Over at the Schiller villa, the family is just finishing up dinner. Papa asks Erich to read the paper for them. “A flood hits Walnut Grove!” he starts. Ooo, an emphatic reading. Mama is surprised by the news and Papa points out that it hasn’t rained for a few weeks. Erich reads on and sees that the “flood” is referring to a large inventory shipment arriving at the Mercantile. Gross. Papa laughs and says “That is one crazy lady.” I like this family A LOT. Mama asks “What else is happening by Harriet?” That is a bizarrely astute question. Erich sees his name in the paper and gets excited. He reads the first two sentences and he and his parents are beaming. Erich reads the next sentence to himself and his face falls. He doesn’t share it with his parents and excuses himself to get some firewood. Once outside, Erich crumples the paper and throws it to the ground.

Time for the Spelling Bee! It looks like it is down to Erich and a blonde girl who isn’t Nellie. Instead, Nellie is sitting in the front row with her mother. Alice gives Erich the next word: “Repetitious”. Fun fact: If you watch the National Spelling Bee with the closed captioning on, you will not be able to cheat on the spelling. When the judge gives the word, the CC will read “Your word is Judge says word”. Back to this Bee, Erich dives into the spelling without asking about origins, roots, or alternate pronunciations. “R-E-P-I-T-I-T-I-O-U-S.” Alice, who is holding a dictionary in her hand, declares his spelling correct. Maybe Harriet was on to something in her initial reporting about Spelling Bee chicanery. The next word is “Mimosaceous”. Sarah also doesn’t ask for any clues like the definition (a subfamily of legumes) and dives right into the spelling. She spells the word correctly. Good for her. Erich’s next word: “xanthophyll” (a yellow pigment). Erich looks like he is about to barf before he spells the word. As he attempts to spell, Harriet rattles a pencil between her teeth. “X-A-N-T-H-O-P-H-I-L-L”. This time Alice declares Erich incorrect. The crowd moans while Harriet gives an incredibly obnoxious “Aw.” Erich runs out of the room and his parents chase after him. Sarah spells the word correctly. I actually like the way they do it now where the last surviving contestant has to spell a new word and if they fail to do so all players knocked out in the previous round will return. Of course, since Erich left the venue I think that would be a moot point.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Harriet's Happenings 2/5

It must be Friday because a bunch of people are walking around town reading newspapers. Doc Baker must not have picked up a copy yet because he is organizing one of the cabinets in his office. Jonathan enters with a newspaper in hand and asks the Doc if he read a particular item. Jonathan’s tone suggests that something is amiss and Doc Baker asks if his name is spelled correctly. His name was spelled correctly in this tidbit: “Doctor Hiram Baker lost another patient when Ezra Jenkins died last Wednesday.” The Doc narrows his eyes as he announces that Ezra Jenkins was 96. Jonathan semi-playfully points out that the paper must be true because the article was written by “Walnut Grove’s Leading Citizen.” “Misleading Citizen is more like it,” grumbles Baker.

At the homestead that evening, Caroline is providing a snarky reading of one of the articles. “Claude Beakins has been spending an awful lot of time at Widow Foster’s house lately. One wonders if Claude’s wife knows about it.” First, Mr. Foster died? When did that happen? Charles is about as bemused by the article as his wife, pointing out that Claude was fixing the roof of the Foster house because that’s his job. Caroline shakes her head as she skims for another tasteless tidbit. “Mrs. Sally Larson has left her husband to return to Chicago. Could there be someone special in Chicago? Could the separation be permanent?” That would be a shame; the Larsons seemed so happy. Caroline fills in the details, “There is someone special: her father. And their separation could be permanent: he may die.” Charles is not pleased with this local news declaring, “If that’s culture, then I’m Abraham Lincoln.” He goes on to suggest that Caroline use the paper to start a fire and she seems to agree.

We now see a copy of the paper. “FLOOD HITS” something and immediately below the headline is the feature box for “Harriet’s Happenings”. Way to do layout, Murdoch. Wait a minute – is this episode a veiled slam on Rupert Murdoch? Even though he is Australian and his ancestors would have been nowhere near Walnut Grove or Minnesota? Oh, show. Anyway, in the feature box is a picture of Harriet and whoever is holding the paper has taken the liberty of penciling in her mustache and devil beard. Oh, it’s Willie. Good for him. Nels and Harriet enter the parlor and are both exhausted. I guess people saw the sale ad and it lead to the busiest day ever in the Mercantile. Harriet declares the paper a Godsend. She then instructs Nels to double the inventory order for next week’s sale which will be for 25% off after a 40% markup for a gain of 15% (WRONG: 5%). Nels says they can’t do that, but she replies “there’s no such word as ‘can’t’.” Nels is not happy about this but Harriet explains that paper subscriptions are pouring in and that it is because of her. “I am a success in every way,” she says as she dances around her husband. She’s successful at tap dancing on my nerves, I’ll give her that. “Including the worst way,” Nels sneers. He takes the paper from Willie to provide some examples. “Seven month married Helga Svenson gave birth to her first child, a baby boy. She claims it was premature.” Harriet is all like “Well, use your arithmetic.” Really, lady? Nels informs his wife that he talked to Doc Baker right after that particular delivery and the Doc said the baby was premature. Harriet sits down and claims there were rumors. Nels gives her a Journalism 101 lesson: Print facts, not rumors.

Willie pipes in that Nellie had a fondness for Helga’s husband back in the day and was not all to keen that he and Helga got hitched so she started a rumor or two. Journalism 102: Don’t reveal your sources, Harriet. She asks where Nellie is and Willie says she is upstairs crying. The local round of the spelling bee happened earlier and Nellie was knocked out by none other than Erich Schiller. “That Allison Garvey betrayed me,” seethes Harriet. Um, it’s a little difficult to rig a spelling bee unless you give one kid “cat” and the other “ergasia” (which MS Word doesn’t believe is a word), but I think people might catch on that the playing field isn’t exactly level. Nels tells his wife the test was fair and Erich is the smartest boy in school (except when the plot requires it to be Albert or Arnold Lundstrom). Harriet still says “Not fair!” and has added Alice Garvey to her list. I’m serious: she has a legal pad and everything.

The next day we see Jonathan going to the Mercantile. Did he find out about Harriet’s Enemies List? It doesn’t look like it as he starts browsing instead of confronting Mrs. Oleson. Harriet finishes with one customer before walking over to buy eggs from Caroline. Harriet asks if Caroline read this week’s paper and is trying to fish for compliments about “Harriet’s Happenings”. Caroline bluntly tells Mrs. Oleson that she found the tidbits to be “inaccurate”. Harriet, who is wearing her Press sun hat again, asks for some examples. Caroline mentions the items about the Beakins and the Larsons, but Harriet counters with “If they are untrue, and I’m not saying they are mind you, but IF they are untrue we shall certainly print a retraction.” Caroline is unimpressed with this, particularly after hearing that such retractions are printed in a small box mixed in with the ads. As expected, Harriet gets all petty about the slightest bit of criticism and tells Caroline that the Mercantile won’t be buying any more eggs in the foreseeable future. “I’m sure the hens will be relieved to hear that,” Caroline informs her. As she leaves, Jonathan whispers “That’s telling her.”

Nels finishes assisting a customer and walks over to help Jonathan. He jokes that the dress that Mr. Garvey is looking at is too small for him. Jonathan chuckles and says that he would like to get it for Alice for their 15th wedding anniversary. Nels looks at the price tag, but the price is a little steep for Jonathan. Nels offers to work something out but Harriet butts in with a reminder about the credit that was already extended to Alice. Nels tries to reason with Harriet but she says they can’t afford to extend credit on “frivolous items such as clothing.” She is, however, willing to make an exception on food and suggests a nice ham. Well, crystal is more traditional and a watch is more modern so Harriet’s suggestion isn’t that much more off the mark than what Jonathan was going for. Then Harriet suggests a rack of bacon, so I think Jonathan is now closer to the bullseye. Jonathan refuses the offer and Harriet walks away, muttering to Nels “overgrown ingrate”. Was she talking about Jonathan or herself? Nels apologizes and Jonathan asks for Nels to hold the dress until Jonathan gets a loan.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Harriet's Happenings 1/5

This episode opens with a crowd gathered outside a building where Charles and Jonathan are hanging a sign. The sign reads “The Pen & Plow” and Mrs. Oleson is screeching at both men to make sure the sign is hung correctly. I guess once you feel the bubbles in your blood pressure subside you know the sign is level. I’m a little amazed at the size of the crowd watching – someone invent television, please. Meanwhile, a wagon is riding in town also labeled “The Pen & Plow”. I wonder if they’re connected somehow. The man driving the wagon is none other than Mr. Johnson from Blazing Saddles. More specifically, the Mr. Johnson who shares his knowledge about Pasteur making hoof and mouth disease a thing of the past.

Never mind that shit; here comes Harriet. She goes all Beatlemania as Mr. Johnson’s wagon approaches, literally pushing people out of the way as she runs over to meet the visitor. Harriet keeps on “Yoo-hoo”-ing, causing my ears to have a sad. She runs alongside the wagon and yells to the driver “It’s me, Harriet,” a couple of times before he eventually stops and dismounts. Caroline and Doc Baker watch the scene unfold. Mr. Johnson got off his wagon on the side opposite of where Harriet is caterwauling and he walks over to the first woman he sees, hugs her, and says “Harriet, you haven’t changed a bit.” The woman pushes him away as the real Harriet runs over to embrace him. After they hug, Harriet introduces the crowd to her second cousin once removed from her mother’s side, Sterling Murdoch. If I have this right, that means Harriet’s mom’s grandparents are Murdoch’s great-great-grandparents. That seems reallllly irrelevant for 1878. Charles seems to share my assessment as he gives Jonathan a look, but Mr. Garvey still gives a polite golf clap with the rest of the crowd. Murdoch thanks the crowd and gives a speech about how he followed the advice of “go west, young man” blah blah blah end of the rainbow blah blah blah. Ha! Charles rolls his eyes. I don’t know what this new guy is talking about, but Harriet says she now has goosebumps after his riveting speech. Doc Baker whispers to Caroline that he’s working on a cure for Harriet. So much snark in Walnut Grove today; I love it.

Over at the school class has been dismissed. Laura, Albert and Andy invite this kid Erich to join them at the newspaper office to watch the printing press in action. Erich politely declines, saying that he promised he would help out his Pa after school. The other kids say goodbye and run over to the office. On the way they run into Charles and Jonathan who are delivering paper to the printer. The kids ask if they can watch what is happening and Charles says it should be okay. Once inside, Charles introduces the kids to Murdoch and asks if it is okay if they watch the newspaper in action. Murdoch says that would be fine and compliments the men on how they fixed up the building. He also asks if they would be interested in handling the bulk deliveries of the newspaper on Fridays. Aw, Jonathan and Charles just got their first paper route! I hope it’s more successful than their lemonade stand. After the men leave, Albert asks Murdoch if there are any other odd jobs available. Murdoch thinks about it a moment and says he needs two bright kids to be typesetters, or “Printer’s Devils” as they’re known in the biz. Albert is all aboard and Laura pipes in that she wants to be a devil, too. Albert vouches for her brightness and Murdoch hires her as well. Andy is late to the party, so he gets saddled with flyering instead. The kids run off to share the news.

That evening Murdoch has joined the Olesons for dinner. Nels asks Murdoch how the newspaper is put together, specifically where he finds all the content to include. Murdoch explains that the inside is usually general news that gets sent from St. Paul on a weekly basis. The outside pages are local news and ads. Nellie asks if “Uncle Sterling” writes all the local content himself. He handles the editorials and all the administrative aspects of the paper but the rest of the news will need to be covered by the yet-to-be-hired head reporter. Harriet’s eyes perk up as she hears this and she volunteers for the job. “All the news does filter into the Mercantile,” she laughs. Nels is not amused by this prospect in the slightest. Harriet asks about the pay and her cousin hems and haws a bit, saying that the startup costs of the paper are going to force the pay to be a bit low until the paper starts to thrive. Geez, this episode certainly is a relic nowadays.

Harriet thinks about it for a moment and is then struck by an idea that she claims won’t cost either of them a cent. She proposes that instead of cash the Mercantile gets free ads in the paper. Murdoch agrees almost instantly. They both leave the table to discuss things further. Murdoch suggests that she write a number of items that include people’s names, since people like to see their name in the paper. Harriet assures him that she’ll name names, times, and places. I hope she starts with Mrs. Jones on Hudson Street. She prattles on a bit more and eventually comes up with a name for her column: “Harriet’s Happenings”. AHHHHHHHHHHH!

The next day, Alice Garvey is shopping at the Mercantile. She is just finishing up and Harriet tabulates the bill. Alice asks for the amount to be added to her tab, but Harriet reminds her that all store accounts need to be paid at the end of the month. Alice apologizes and says she doesn’t have the money for the balance today. We see a close up of Harriet and she has a card reading “Press” placed in the ribbon around her sun hat. Oy. Harriet decides to go on a tangent about how Nellie would be a good representative for Walnut Grove in the Spelling Bee. Alice acknowledges that Nellie is a good speller, but Harriet continues by pointing out Nellie’s poise and beauty. Have you ever seen a spelling bee, Mrs. Oleson? Sex appeal and a lack of awkwardness very rarely come to mind when you look at the kids that make it to the finals. Of course, all of those kids are under 15 anyway, so sex appeal shouldn’t even be part of the equation, but are you picking what I’m putting down? Anyway, Harriet goes on to say that she would be happy to donate a $2.00 gift certificate for the Bee and when Alice compliments the thoughtfulness of the gesture, Mrs. Oleson practically creams her pants at the idea of being chairwoman of the awards committee. Alice just chuckles as if to say “whatever, crazy lady” and gets back to the subject of her purchases. Harriet okays the extension of credit in the most condescending way possible. You can almost hear the fillings getting sucked out of Alice’s teeth as she holds back saying what’s really on her mind. She thanks Mrs. Oleson and leaves the store.

Meanwhile in another part of the store Erich and his folks are browsing. Erich’s Pa is holding a canister of some sort and asks his son what it says on the label. Harriet overhears this and informs the gentleman that the Mercantile carries a wide variety of spectacles. “What I need, Frau Oleson, is English,” he informs her. That’s awkward. And kind of awesome. Erich reads the label: “The name Blankey’s is synonymous with good drinking coffee.” Erich’s Pa asks the Frau if this statement is true and of course she says it is. Erich’s Ma asks the Frau about the price and it is 25 cents. Erich’s Ma says something in German to her husband and judging by her face I think it is something along the lines of “Bitch crazy, I’m not paying that much for coffee.” Erich’s Pa thanks the Frau and they leave the store coffeeless.

Nels walks in from the office with a piece of paper in hand and asks Harriet about the ad. She says that the ad is correct. Nels tells her they can’t afford the 20% sale mentioned in the ad, but she tells him that they can if they raise the prices 30% beforehand. “That gives us 10% more profit than if we didn’t have the sale at all,” she says smugly. You know what I say? WRONG! Check it: Say an item cost $1.00 today. If they raised the price by 30%, that would raise the price to $1.30. If you take off 20%, in this case 26 cents, that would make the new price $1.04. No matter what base you start with, the increase would only be 4%. Uh, I did better in math competitions than spelling bees. Anyway, Nels tells his wife that her plan is dishonest. “Of course it is,” she replies. I guess if they’re in agreement then it’s okay. Good to know.