(We, meaning I, continue with last week's trip. I hopped over to San Diego to do a Rifftrax with Michael J. Nelson, a thing you should buy even if you don't want to listen to it right away. Some day you will. This message will be repeated at the end of this Bleat.)

8:56 AM Sitting outside among the jocanda flowers again, waiting for Mike. Had a nice 8 1/2 hour sleep, uninterrupted. If the train whistles blew, but I heard them not; the cries of the damned may have echoed down these whitewashed streets, but they fell on empty ears. I was probably snoring. The damned were probably wishing I would hold it down.

Had the breakfast buffet in the hotel's hard-to-find restaurant. You have to go up two flights, cross a courtyard, then take a parking garage elevator up two floors. Work it; breakfast buffet is hard to ruin, and they didn’t. The French Toast was trending towards the leathery, and another half-hour under the lamps it would have tasted like a purse left in the sun, but it was edible. Read USA Today, which had a story on the foreclosure epidemic in Denver. I hope I don’t catch it. Like dengue fever, it’s bad. You have to read past the jump to get the meaty graf, though: most of the loans in the subdivision featured in the article were given to people with spotty credit and income mostly derived from holding a sign at busy intersections. Well, not really, but there’s the usual litany – shady loans, loose credit, unqualified buyers rushed into homes so the paper could be hidden in a stack of other paper, shuffled, sold six times, and end up floating on the periphery of a distant bank’s balance sheet.  One of the families in the story featured a dad with two jobs – wrote parking tickets in the day, worked as a baggage handler at night. He had declared bankruptcy, but got a no-doc loan anyway.

The fellow said he fell behind on his mortgage after he was “injured,” and stopped paying his mortgage. He also had other problems, since he had a Federal tax lien. Proof? None; the reporter took him at his word, apparently.

It’s no-doc reporting!


That was 57 varieties of fun, that was. Mike picked me up at 9:45, and we drove off to the studio. His GPS system says “You Have Arrived” when you get to your destination; makes you feel rather special, and you expect an Imperial Margarine fanfare. The studio was in a fellow’s house – one of those amazing homebrew setups that were unthinkable a while ago; in the olden days of yore, you had to be Alan Parsons to get within six miles of these tools, but now here they are in a fellow’s garage. The booth was small; two stools, two shotguns, a window, a flatscreen up above, two music stands for the scripts. The 45-page script. (One of the longest EVER, I understand.) A few checks, and we were off.

Again, to reset the Import of the Momentousness: I watched MST3K since whenever, enjoying every show from the first shot to the last whaaaang on the guitar; I thanked the First Amendment and the Teachers of America and I circulated the tapes, and I thought, and still think, it was one of the most consistently brilliant, ingenious and hilarious shows ever written. And now I’m in the booth and I’m doing that thing. But! Since we are doing that thing, you have to do it; no time for glowing in the moment. We managed to finish the movie fairly quickly – only had to back up and run at the lines again about 15 times or so; if it sounds spontaneous, that's because it was. Took one break, drank lots of water, and had a grand time. As grim as the read-through was – it’s no fun, you’re sick of the frickin’ movie, and you’re reading other people’s lines for the first time – the actual performance was a joy to do.


As for the script: it was written by three people – my script was melded, Borg-like, with scripts by Mike and Conner, his padawan & Rifftrax scribe. He’s half our age and brings a different level of meta-meta pop culture references. (He's the one who slipped in Klau Kalash, which was dead perfect . . .and I'll say no more)( When you hear it  - and you will buy it, you will; if it goes over well I get to do another – you will hear me read other people’s lines, and they will read lines I wrote. One of the lines I didn’t write was simple – “It’s a trap!” When I first read it I didn’t get the reference, but it occurred to me 1.7 seconds before I read it in the booth. It’s General Akbar from Star Wars. Flashed through my head the instant I had to say it, and my brain frantically thrashed around for the answer to the question: HOW DID AKBAR SAY THE LINE? WHAT DOES AKBAR SOUND LIKE? I did it like Zoidberg’s goyim brother-in-law, which worked.

Afterwards we had dinner in a pub, then I went back to the hotel. Walked around Old Town, read a paper, had coffee. Tonight we had dinner at a fine Mexican restaurant with Mike, his assistant Josh, and his wife. Movie buffs and more. So conversation was about, well, movies – and every time we got stumped for a name or a title I could call up imdb on the iPhone (yes, I know, other handhelds get the internet, I’m years behind) and settle the bet. I’m hoarse right now; I don’t think I’ve talked this much in 5 years. What fun. I'd say I was the luckiest guy on earth, but Lou Gehrig set the parameters for that claim.

Time to sleep. Back in the sky tomorrow.


Had breakfast in my room, but not room service; that's for millionaires, and it's always cold, and the portions are too small. This will sound pathetic, but it's true: I ate cereal out of a box. But that's the way you're supposed to do it. The Raisen Bran came in a Kel-Bowl-Pac. They don't call it that anymore, but the box had te tell-tale perforations. I didn't have a knife, so I had to stab it with the end of a plastic spoon. The bag ripped when I opened it, but no milk leaked out: that's the sole criterion for success when you're talking Kel-Bowl-Pacs. (This NYT article says the KBP was invented in 1942, and calls it "richly Proustian." Quote: "Already breakfast was being treated as a meal without a home at the kitchen table, or at least without a proper bowl." Or perhaps they were thinking of situations in which a fellow might not have a bowl. Such as a camping trip, or Pacific Island invasion.

I also had a Danish which was not baked, as such; pastries like these are grown like fungii, I think. Two bananas and a convenience store apple (meaning? small and mealy. The Steve Buscemi of apples.) i checked out, caught a ride to the airport with MJN, then did serious long-term heel-cooling in the Southwest terminal. Had my snowglobe confiscated, because it could contain special explosive glitter. I understand the need for security but it's absurd to let my shampoo and toothpaste go and confiscate the snowglobe. The snowglobe is sealed. The shampoo and toothpaste containers were open and could have been refilled with anything. They didn't care. I went up an escalator and bought the same damn snowglobe at a gift shop.

Cooled my heels - my TSA-approved heels - in the terminal, boarded the plane. Up and over and down, an hour to Phoenix. When I got off the plane I had a feeling I can't quite explain, but it was as if I had swapped my old life in the Northern Tier for a new one in the southwest, and this was the new normal. Checked my phone for the weather: hot. Didn't check Minneapolis or Fargo. Possibly for the same reason I didn't check Pompeii.

Tomorrow: into the desert to find the rodeo; Tourist Gulch; the Scottsdale Waterfront. No, really.


The Rifftrax project, incidentally, is here. Buy it! Cheap at twice the price, and if I don't screw up their sales too badly, I get to do another one. In case you don't know what it's all about, well, it's a Mystery Science Theater 3000-type snarky commentary track for Spider-Man 3. You pop the movie in your computer, start the Rifftrax audio file, and voila: MST3K-style comments on a big-budget, heavily copyrighted movie. I'll talk about the process and the actual recording session tomorrow.


Back to the present: today's Mpls addition (I'm redoing the entire site in 08, and it's a very big project) features some pictures from the last days of the Bank of Minneapolis building. This wasn't germaine to the site, but I had to include it. Billboards:

Whistle sode; U.S. Royal tires; Canada Dry, and . . . what? Motorola Auto Radio, I think. Find the billboards in this week's update.

I’ll see you at buzz.mn!