Not just warm, but hot. Monday morning we slid down the sidewalk to the bus stop, taking old-man-on-ice steps down the slick insidious plane; this morning we strode with confidence, jeering at the dead and withered drifts. Oh, there’ll be snow again – that late-season bitter vindictive snow – but winter’s back has been snapped, and the drifts have only the dirt to preserve them.

It’s called Snirt, and we hate it. But it gladdens our heart nevertheless, because it means that snow has retreated to its redoubts and surrounded itself with craven collaborators. The end is nigh.

Gnat said something interesting this morning: “Isn’t it cool how the water goes under the ice?” She was looking at the melting snow flowing under a shelf on the sidewalk, and the moment she said it I remembered my own reaction to the same thing, forty years before. Of course it was cool. Mysterious, too. When I went to the bus stop eight hours later I noted how the water gathered on the underside of the shelf and formed big perfect circles, traveling under the translucent ice like corpuscles jostling in an artery. Occasionally a car passes when I’m waiting for the bus, and sometimes I wonder what people think: there’s no real reason for me to be where I am, since there’s no Bus Stop Sign, and the houses are up on a hill and nothing around here suggests a destination. If you don’t live here you keep moving. But there I stand, headphones on, looking up at the sky, or crouched on the ground examining ants or ice. Once when the bus was late I made a series of confounding foot-prints, hoping to recreate the Spring-Heel’d Jack panic of ’37. When the wind was cruel I would simply stand there like an oak. The arrival of the bus always breaks the reverie, but it’s the bus that gets me out there for some random urban zen in the first place.

This morning we heard the Mystery Train louder than ever before. As I’ve noted, there’s no train anywhere around here. No tracks. But yet we hear the horn. What sounds mournful and alluring at midnight sounds different at 8 AM, though – it’s rude, and it’s not taking any contrary opinions. At midnight the train horn says come with me; at 8 AM it says get out of the way.

Work? Yes. Filed two columns then wrote a third, and filed it. Drove to the accountant’s to drop off tax material, and returned a couple of DVDs my wife had rented . . . from McDonald’s. Really: she took Gnat and a friend to McDonald’s Moon on Saturday, and rented two DVDs from the Redbox machine. Now I get it: the point isn’t to make you go to McDonald’s to rent a DVD. The point is to make you eat at McDonald’s when you return the DVD. But I am immune to their charms, and left without shoving my face in a giant feedbag of fries, as much as I really, really, really wanted to. So that was my day. That, plus housework and homework and other sundry chores.

Interesting timing: yesterday I plucked a swizzle stick from the collection to scan, and used this one:

The Stardust was blown up a few hours after I posted the Bleat. Well, imploded, but I prefer BLOWN UP, since it seems that the building did not actually implode; explosions were used to compromise its structural integrity, and then it fell down. From what I’ve read it was time to go; it had fallen from its glorious age. You know, this:

I’ll always be grateful to them for the typeface, which spread far and wide across America, a bit of glamour that showed up on motel signs blinking in the dusk of the empty plains, or shining down on fresh asphalt in a Minneapolis bowling alley parking lot. This sign was taken down years ago, but it has a wonderful New Frontier vibe:

Even the name makes you think of Cape Canaveral. I’m sure the name came from the old song, but by the time they put up the sign it had a new connation; it was the stuff through which mankind would one day shoot in sleek silvery ships. Fly me to the moon, and all that.

What of the names of on the marquee?

Billy Daniels: a singer best known for “That Old Black Magic,” he was the first Black to have a TV show on a network – in 1952. The Idiots? No idea; as you might expect, a Google search for “idiots” and “Vegas” reveals a rich deep vein. Al Escobar was a pianist whose album covers taxed the talents of pre-Photoshop designers. Wingy Manone – well, he was the smallest name on the marquee, which tells you he wasn’t exactly in the headlining phase of his career. His time had come and gone, I think; most of his hits came in the late 30s, including this one: Nickel Slot. Enjoy! And I’ll see you tomorrow. Oh, and new money today. It’s China, and lots of it.