From Shorpy

It’s that peculiar time of year when everyone’s in shorts, the sun has punch, the dogs pant, the trees almost strain to bud - and in the shadows lurk a compounded floe, one last sliver of ice, the remnant of the first accumulation. If you had pity you would chop it up and let it go fast, but pity for winter’s dying is the last thing on anyone’s mind at the tail end of April. Let it suffer.

The warm weekend was a reminder of the chores and duties of the outside season - the sticks and detritus on the lawn, the grated rocks laid down on the steps to keep everyone from slipping and killing themselves, now the equivalent of bits of tacks and LEGO for your bare feet. The landscape lights need replacing. The windows, now raised to let in the clement mistrals, have filthy sills. The gazebo -


Longtime Bleatniks know I have had many gazebos. The first one rotted. The second one literally blew away, it was so insubstantial. The third occasioned an epic set of Tweets regarding its delivery, something that ended up with UPS management putting on driver uniforms and delivering the box to my house; it went down in a spectacular collapse two years back. TCG, or The Current Gazebo, made it through the winter well enough save for one roof beam, which bucked under snow load. I slackened the fabric cover so it wouldn’t accumulate snow, but the wind blew it over and the snow came and WHATEVER OKAY a strut was bent. The metal is a strange cheap metal that can easily be convinced to bend and rust. But it’ll hold up. The lights, however, died. An entire string of Christmas lights. Dead.

But! I saved last Christmas’ lights for just this moment. I’d thrown away the ones that didn’t work and saved three strands. That was a month ago. Plugged them into today; one strand had perished in the interim. How can this be? They’re UL approved! You look more closely and learn it’s not Underwriters Laboratory but Undertakers’ Laughter. Out they go. Strung a new batch, undoing the velcro ties I’d done a year ago, thinking as usual how I’d spent all the days between then and now, gulping a bit when I realized I hadn’t finished the novel I was supposed to finish. I mean, it’s finished, but it stinks, so I had to redo it, and maybe I shouldn’t worry about it so much because it’s only going to be a $3.99 thing. Maybe $2.99.

Then again, if it stinks, .99 is too much. If it stinks, people put it aside and don’t finish it and the price is irrelevant.

The velcro did not want to become undone, and had to be persuaded with brute force. Tedious work. When I finished the lights did not reach all the way around the gazebo. Had to undo all the velcro, readjust the strand, do it again.

But it’s up. Let the green days begin!

Supposed to be 45 on Wednesday. There's a chance of precip and the logo on my app has two rain drops.

And one snow flake.


You know, I never tell you about Fridays. Well. On Friday I added to the internet the blog post, with all the CBS EZ-cue library music and a newspaper column. Did the work blog. Wrote a column for Sunday. Did an interview in the morning for a Sunday feature, which I wrote after I did a long video interview with the editor of Architecture Minnesota. Did a 45-minute interview for the Hugh Hewitt Aftershow by Duane Patterson. Action-packed, Pee-Wee. When it was done I had the standard requirements: nap, dammit, and then pizza. (Piano was moved to Saturday.) I set the alarm and hit the pillow, content that I would wake up around the time daughter was coming back from her post-school jaunt to the coffeeshop.

Well. The girls decided to go to a park on the other side of wherever, and daughter had texted me four times and called me twice and, getting no answer, finally called the home landline. This woke me up. This was the second time the alarm on my computer had failed to go off, which means it can never be trusted again. If I’d woken of my own accord, checked my phone, found a welter of texts and voice messages I would have assumed some sort of “Taken” scenario.

Why not use your phone as an alarm? you ask. Because it’s possible I forgot to drill down into the settings of an app that periodically feels entitled to send an ALERT because the barometric pressure is dropping in my email box.

It was the same only worse on Sunday: I went on an errand to Menard’s with the Giant Swede, the first seasonal trip to get lightbulbs for all the landscape lighting. (Six fixtures died entirely over the winter.) I go Menard’s instead of Home Depot because A) it’s local, and B) it has tremendous loss-leader items Big bags of Fisher-brand Omega-3 Trail Mix for a dollar? A DOLLAR? That’s plane food. (I’m already starting to pack for a trip three months hence.) He needed a sawhorse and some lumber, being a DYI sort of fellow. When we were done it was back to the Gazebo for cold drinks and a small cigar, and -

I realized daughter had gone off on a bike trip with friends and I hadn’t heard in a while. In fact I didn’t know where she was.

This is the opposite of the Normal State of my Brain. Texted: no reply. Waited a while; called. Answering machine. Likely scenario: ninja abductors. Next possible scenario: en route to some place, phone in bag.

It rang a while later and all was well. I’m still getting used to this whole “leaving the house” thing, to put it bluntly. This morning she wanted to run to the grocery store for fruit and oatmeal, since she’s now all about running and fruit, and of course: fine, off you go. It’s starting to seem ordinary but it will never be so in one small part of the back of my brain. Not knowing where she is is like going to Target and being informed that they’re still out of paper bags.

“We’re still out of paper bags,” the clerk apologized the person in line ahead of me. When it was my turn I asked if they’d fired the person who’d screwed up the ordering for the paper bags. That’s what I’d been told: someone was supposed to order bags and forgot, and the other stores got tired of sending over extras, and now it was all paper for the duration.

The clerk said he didn’t know, so I asked a manager, who told me that it wasn’t a screw up at all, but “A change-over in our distributor.”

So one Target store bears the brunt for a system-wide distributor adjustment. Right. I’m thinking, she’s the one who forgot.

No paper bags means everything in plastic, which falls out of the bags in the back of the car, which means no paper bags for the recycling. It’s an utter nightmare. I can’t go on. I must go on.

Anyway, Friday. I was saying something about Friday. Daughter came into my room before I went down to watch a movie, and she had her big coin container - it has three slots, Save Spent and Share. We counted out all the coins, and determined there as 48 dollars in change. She wanted to give 20% to charity, so we went online, found a local food-to-children site I trusted, and I met her contribution, and she got to see how much just a little could accomplish.

Best part of the Friday. Best part of the week.


Watched “Skyfall” this weekend, and thought it was absolutely incredible. The opening sequence was probably the least of it. Loved the way the set-piece at the end was the inversion of the standard Bond cliche, where he assaults the Lair. Loved the reassertion of the basics at the end. Just loved it.

Also watched a movie that forms the basis for Monday’s Black and White World, as you’ll see below the fold.

Say there:


I am pleased to say, and saddened, that response has been so good I cannot possibly say thank you to everyone right away, if ever. But my stars and garters, as no one says, this has been a nice little bump. I have so far converted seven percent of the receipts into matchbooks, guaranteeing two years of updates to ensure that the Internet's Greatest Repository of Matchbook Art will thrive and flourish. Among other things.

To thank you all there will be an extra update on the site come Friday.



This may strike you as the biggest “you’ve got to be kidding me that you care about this, and that you think anyone else does” in the history of the Bleat, which is no small order. But it works like this.

Many years ago, I became fond of a Christmas song called “Hello, Mr. Kringle.” It was my first introduction to a band of my parents’ era; it gave me music to go along with “Kay Kyser and his Kollege of Musical Knowledge,” which I knew only as an old pop culture reference; it featured Ish Kabibble, which was something my father said. It seemed as if I could reconstruct a tidy portion of old popular culture just from this novelty song. The first 45 seconds:



Later my daughter was born, and I bought a CD at Pottery Barn Kids. It contained “Three Little Fishes,” which I’d heard before but never quite connected with Kyser. I noted that it had the same structure - song is introduced, there’s a musical interlude, and then. . .




That same transitional element.

Now that I was curious about the group, I found some more songs. Here’s the opening to “Chatterbox.”




And “Playmates.”




To sum it up:



Well, I'm watching this:






. . . and here’s the opening music.




I realized that it was a song in itself. In other words, I realized what anyone who knew anything about the band already knew, and had probably told me, but all of a sudden I realized that they quoted one of their first big hits in every song they did. It’s “Thinking Of You,” which they first did in 1934.

Context: It’s like the Rolling Stones quoting “Satisfaction” in every song they did after that. Forever.



As for the movie: an imdb reviewer says:

A fictional-story film in which many of the people seen in it are using their real name portraying the character who shows up in this fictional film in a completely fictional-and-staged setting, which means their role name is their own name, and is not any combination of "Self."

The reviewer concludes:

Lots of fictional things follow including a fictional press conference.


It's the first movie with this hugely popular entertainer:



Kay Kyser's bit was the "Kollege of Musical Knowledge," a radio show where he hammed it up and played the fool - and had, as a foil, a greater fool than himself. Ish Kabibble.



An acquired taste, but he amuses me more than anything Kyser does. KK was no fool himself, which might be the charm in the schtick. Here's the opening sequence:



Then they go to Hollywood to make a movie. That's right: it's a movie where the band goes to Hollywood to make a movie about the band going to Hollywood. There's a sequence that has everyone donning costumes and making faces for an awful, juvenile routine about the Fox and the Hound, and includes Mr. Nightmare Pumpkin:




Man, you really didn't have to do that.

The movie is never made, because the plot calls for a romantic lead. Mr. Kyser is no romantic lead, even when he's paired with an irresistable ingenue:




That's right: Lucy, in 1939.

Once the movie fails the movie ends with about 15 minutes of staged radio show, and that's it. Ta-da! But it gave everyone what they wanted, if that's the sort of thing they enjoyed: their radio friends on the screen, corny humor, a few tunes, and a reminder that Hollywood is a mad-cap mogul-driven wonderland where good art goes to die, more or less.


Usual things in the usual places; have a fine Monday.





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