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It took over an hour not to get to the Fair today. I went into the city at rush hour, thinking that would make traffic lighter. It was. Except for the choke point where three lanes narrowed down to one - and here my vigilantism occurred. I know we’re supposed to go to the head and merge; the zipper, it’s called. But I could not in good conscience go past a line of twenty cars and barge in. I can’t. I hate it when someone else does it, and you know they don’t do it because the Department of Transportation says it’s the preferred way. They do it because they don’t care that there are 20 people in line ahead of them. Moreover, it doesn’t work when there’s a traffic light - after all the merging and crawling only a few cars got through the light.

I saw cars behind me get out of the line and go to the head of the line. Because they didn’t want to wait. This upset my own particular standards of justice, so I gently moved into the middle of the adjacent lane, straddling both. Now, you say: jerk! But there was still another lane. Anyone who wanted to barge to the head could easily go around me, but somehow that seemed too obvious.

Everyone merged behind me.

From that moment on everything went through the intersection smoothly.

I’m sure people are split on that decision. Well, you have the email address.

Once I got through that I landed in downtown, which was gridlocked for a football game. Er. Hmm. Well, it’ll lighten up . . . eventually . . . hey, it’s not. I saw what you don’t want to see: a bus driver walking around the back of his bus to look at something.

A bus that does not have a driver isn’t going to be moving any time soon.

Got through that, and landed on Washington, headed towards the U. Hideous traffic queued for the interstate; when I went over the ramp I saw that the exit to the U was solid, unmoving. Hmm. Juked through the back door over the 10th avenue bridge, thinking, as I always did, of the University cop everyone called Puffer. He amused himself by sitting in his squad car at the end of the bridge, nailing anyone who went over 30. For that matter I remembered walking over the bridge after it was built, my second year in college. No cars. We had it all to ourselves.

There wouldn’t be anyplace for Puffer to park - the old Hardee’s site, a sad reminder of a failed franchise, was now a construction zone for a big new apartment complex. The gas station on the corner, where Dick used to work, and whose desperate pleas were heard by neighbors at Florence Court before he was killed in a robbery, is gone. No one who lives in the apartment building now on the site knows about that; why should they?

University was thick, and I chalked it up to rush hour. Trundled past the old dorm, remembered having bottle-rocket wars out the window with the frat across the street. Saw an illuminated sign telling me where to go for event parking.

Event? Hmm. No - can’t be. But yes: a football game. Another one. Another huge stadium drinking in the crowds that flowed through the portals. This meant the park-and-ride to the Fair wouldn’t be running.

I gave up. I drove home. I tried to go to the Fair but there was just too damned much football everywhere.

Call to wife: I can pick up daughter from the Mall. So back on the road, and the phone rings: crapcrapcrap I forgot, Thursday, 6:40. RADIO INTERVIEW. I chatted for the allotted time and then hung up on the host when he started pressing me on a particular question. (Really. Long story. He understood.) Got the kids, who tumbled into the car laughing with the sheer wide-and-high joy of being together, at the Mall, on a day when school was canceled, with no school tomorrow and a sleepover to come. Heaven. When they saw their favorite songs come up on the radio display they shrieked some more and I cranked it up. Windows down, music loud - make the last days of summer the best.

There are four pieces due: Friday column (done and sent) Monday front-page feature (half done, unsatisfying) Sunday profile (interview in the can, not written) and another shorter column. I’ve been pecking away at them all day and will peck away all night; there’s no whistle to let me know it’s time to slide down the dino tail and go home.

Meanwhile, I have SimCity waiting for me to play it and complain. I can’t wait. I’ve read so much about it I want to customize and personalize the complaining to my own standards, and experience the same amount of frustration and idiocy others have been having for months. Months! I want to buy add-on packs so I can have a sixty-story skyscraper in a town that’s forty blocks square. I want to run up against all sorts of limitations that keep me from designing the city I want, and weep over the memory of typing in iamweak and porntipsguzzardo to get more free money and clean tech right away.

Years ago when I played the game often, I built the same city over and over again. There was no reason it shouldn’t have been incredibly prosperous - it had diverse industry, magnificent neighborhoods, broad roads, subways, buses, trains, picturesque bridges, parks galore. But periodically the software would say “it’s time for a recession, so the people of your city will now tear down that nice new building and replace it with something that looks old and burnt-out, because that’s what happens when times turn bad. They tear down the new office buildings and houses, and replace them with ramshackle versions of the buildings from 60 years before.”

I can still see that city in my head. I could build it from scratch tomorrow.

Anyway, that’ll be a weekend diversion. Now I have to get to work.

But we’re not done yet.




Now, the Cues! Do I have to explain? Fine. As I say every week: if you're just joining the Listen project, it includes a selection of music cues gleaned from old radio. Library music the producers dropped in to get them in and out of scenes. It's the background soundtrack for mid-century life. Many more can be found here.


It never ends. I’ve discovered a new series of cues. I think. As I said, they bleed together.




What is going on here? The horn tattoo gets our attention, the string swoop up, and then everything skips along la-di-da before petering out. Distracted cheer; not quite scatterbrained.





Part of a larger suite; I’ve heard this theme, no doubt intended to mock the mockable archetypes, but this is the first time I’ve heard it end decisively.





Another nimble bit of pizzicato anticipation - except this time it falls down into the Chord of Domestic Contentedness.




A show closer.




Another retread, except here a stinger of Doubt is inserted:





Practically an entire movement here; love the way the strings chug with Holstian vigor at the end.





A longer version of something previously heard, the one that sounds like some mannered peasant dance.This is the first time I noticed that "da-da daa, da-da daa," which makes it rather childlike. But not necessarily in a good sense; it sounds bored and almost stupid.










Let's see what National Jell-O Week it is this week:




That's the guy Bill Conrad was imitating a few Bleats back.

That's it for this week. Column up here; scroll down to the COLUMNS pane.



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