See, it’s getting better. Gradually fixing and tweaking and getting back to old styles. Today’s art comes from a Texaco ad from 1951; it featured a pumpkin in earmuffs:

Not very Halloweeny. An odd transitional pumpkin who got work after the Halloween season was over. Hey, I’m more than an ancient talisman against spirits - I can sell antifreeze, too! Just give me a chance, that’s all I’m saying.

Speaking of the ancient role of pumpkins - they’re supposed to ward off spirits, right? Spirits see them and get spooked, or rather auto-spook, and flee. This means that spirits are not particularly smart, for one thing, but if an evil spirit did encounter a grinning face lit up in the night, wouldn’t he assume they were on the same team? Hey, dude, great night, eh? What’s inside? Some old brown shopworn souls and a few pink fresh ones? I was thinking of doing the rattling-on-the-windows routine then making the fire flare up. Hello? Are you deaf? What’s so funny? If a spirit rears back in panic because there’s another smiling face in the dark, he’s not particularly fearsome.

Big weekend accomplishment: I replaced the pneumatic door closer. If you searched “pneumatic door closer” on this site you might find several entries; I’ve installed a few. All on the same door. Strong winds over the last year have grabbed the door and flung it wide, like the spirit of Texas Guinan opening a bar: come on in, boys. It’s a miracle the door hasn’t struck the brick ledge and shattered. But the wind has twisted the . . . er, piston thing in the pneumatic door closer, because it bent the door back so far it bent the piston. But not before it ripped out the part that attaches the closer to the frame. This rips out the screws. From the wood. Which is old. So the last few times I’ve had to replace it, I’ve had to get . . . threaded poles with additional lateral dimensions. (Sorry, the potential for cheap double entendres is too great.) Today I went to the store for foot-longs, more or less.

Since I was making a trip I figured I’d get some keys made as well. You always need keys. Everyone wants to have a key drawer that makes sense: duplicates well-labeled, no strays whose purpose you cannot discern but may be apparent some day. I have one stray now. Went through every lock in the joint. Can’t find a match. Can’t toss it. Don’t know where it came from; it’s ancient, which leads me to believe I’ll need it when some panting shambling beast shows up at the door and bellows THE LOCK SHE ACHES FOR RELEASE, MORTAL and there I am scrambling through the drawers, holding up the key I know is for the servant’s door - this one? no? - cursing myself for throwing away that One Key. Can’t throw it away. Also, it leaves a bloodstain wherever you put it. That might mean something. You just don’t know.

A kid made all the keys. The store has an endless supply of kids working for it. They’re all related. I think there’s a mold downstairs they inject with protein, bake it a while, and presto a new employee. While they’re in the mold the complete engrams of the store’s layouts are injected into their heads. I asked another kid for the foot-long-screws, and he looked at the example I gave him, nodded, headed back to the Screw Department, and stopped and said:

“We might only have stainless steel. Is that okay?”

I said that it was, and since it would be buried in wood I didn’t care if it stained, and what was the difference?”

“Well, it’ll be more expensive.”

“How much?”

“Maybe eighty-five cents a screw.”

“I’ll open up a line of credit.”

Commerce depends on people who have knowledge useless outside a particular place. If the kid was in Estonia and stood in the square and said “I know where the stainless steel 1 1/2 panheads are!” no one would care, but put that kid in the store and he’s indispensable. Saturday at the grocery store I had to ask a clerk where they kept the Vanilla Extract, and he knew: aisle 2, right side if you’re heading up this aisle and turning left, middle of the aisle, middle shelf. I suppose there are analogues to everything else, if the human mind is a store of its own: how do you feel about issue X? You know just where to go.

When I got home I installed the door closer, and this left me with four screws from the package. I went downstairs and put them in my own personal Screw Drawer. Then I went back to tighten the door to the wood frame, and noticed there were a few screws missing. Back downstairs to the Personal Screw Drawer. It has 30 drawers, and not one is labeled. Of course not. What am I, a fargin’ hardware store? So I opened every drawer looking for appropriate screws, smiling - there’s not a homeowner in the world who has one of these things who hasn’t done the same thing. Open the drawer, look, no, close, open another. What am I supposed to do? Label each drawer SCREWS? Like that would narrow it down? Label two or three drawers HOOKS or NAILS so I can skip those? Yeah, right -

- no, that makes sense. Hmm. Find some labels; where’s the Sharpie?

Of course: the wife has the Sharpie because she is outside drawing eyes on a white balloon over which will go the hockey mask worn by the gravedigger in our Halloween tableau.

We have a Halloween tableau.

There’s a neighborhood effort to get as many as possible. I support and endorse this endeavor as long as nothing is required of me, but you know different, having read the tale of the lights and the cords. She wanted to add a gravedigger, so she stuffed some jeans and a sweatshirt and leaned the figure against a tree by the tombstones. So it’s Jason from “Friday the 13th,” but retired. He has a job now. Look, running around chainsawing virgins, it’s a young man’s game. He wanted something with benefits and a pension plan. It’s a pretty good tableau, but it needed more lights, so I repositioned some lights from the backyard to shine up in the gravedigger’s face. Looks great. Supper time!

By now I had completely forgotten about labeling the drawer with hooks with a label that said HOOKS and I will pay for this some day in the future.

Today: Matchbook Museum, with 14 restaurants. Also Joe; you know where to go. I’ve tried it, and there aren’t any password issues. RSS is coming - but it’s going to take some tweaking on my end, so be patient. Until it’s up and running I’ll post at the old wordpress site every day, so that should work. Have a grand day!




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