A cool and overcast Monday gave way to sun before the Labor Day guests came over, but it was a sun without conviction, a false smile of insincere apology for the summer now concluded. By the end of the evening French Brother-in-Law was standing by the open oven, trying to get warm. As I write this outside in the gazebo, fireworks are going off somewhere nearby. I don’t know why or where. The entire confused, indistinct, mess of a summer stumbles over itself in haste to leave. Too damned short. Three months from the start, which seemed like yesterday; three months from Christmas, which seemed like yesterday. The terrible gallop of time - but, as you remember with consolation: the years are short, but the days are long.

And the three-day weekends are interminable. But I got a lot done. If I can end the summer with all the video edited and filed away, all the photos sorted and tagged, the entire season bagged and sorted, that's good. Ready for fall! Drop that pellet, boys, let's get this show on the road!

Sigh. No. Hot tomorrow, they say; the fortnight of autumnal denial begins. Blare, O green! Bore deep, O sun! Buzz, friend cicada! Because you remember May, right? You remember June?

You owe us.


Wife & friend & kids went to a Drive-In on Saturday night; I passed, because it was a Girls-Night-Out sort of thing, and I like drive-ins in the abstract more than the particular. It’s a thing to do when you’re young - high-school, naturally, but your 20s on a date. As I’ve no doubt written before, I have a peculiar deep childhood memory of drive-ins; there was one on the edge of Fargo by the highway that led to the family farm. We went out every Sunday. In the summer we came back after dark, and I would be half-asleep. The road took a turn, curved east, and the sensation of the sudden turn jogged me half-awake. I’d look up and see the big faces on the screen, speaking in great silver silence. One of the mysteries of childhood.

In high school I went with friends. I remember seeing the playground underneath the screen, rusting and bent. I know I’d played on it as a kid, running outside in summer night in pajamas. Seemed sad it was in disrepair, as if your own childhood had gone out of business A few years later the Star-Lite closed and was replaced with a grocery store, which failed, just like the Piggly-Wiggly failed nearby: you could not detonate the mothers of the north side of Fargo from the SuperValu.

There are so many of these compilations, all from the late 50s and early 60s: you imagine boys in striped shirts with buzz-cuts running around with cap guns, little girls in blue dresses, Dad with a faint factory cologne, Mom's hair in an AquaNet carapace, the Family out for a night at the Drive-In. Wafting smoke from cars, teens lazing on the hoods of the cars like big jungle cats on a rock - the spray of gravel when someone peeled out. The heavy speaker hanging on the window, the plastic knob, the fabric grille, the tinny sound. Crickets and laughter. Summer on the plains.



Daughter said they missed most of the first movie and the second was bad so they left.

But sitting in the back of the hatchback with friends, watching the screen, swatting mosquitos, the last line of the sunset drawn behind the trees in the distance, the last Saturday sunset of summer - yeah, that was cool.

It'll probably close; digital conversion is driving them out of business. But she got there. The Drive-In: a visa stamp on the passport of travel through the American experience.


On Sunday I painted the shed. If there’s anything that needed it, it was the shed. If there’s any part that needed it that I didn’t paint, it would be “all of it.” To explain: when a tree fell in the backyard - I was there, and can vouch that it made it sound - it crunched the roof, and this was rebuilt while we were in Norway. It needed painting, so I got around to it with almost no wifely prodding. It took one episode of “Suspense” to prime and one more to paint; that’s about 25 minutes per. One of them starred Jack Benny in a somewhat dramatic role; the other had - well, we’ll get to that. I hate painting. the stuff gets everywhere. At least it helped a battered pair of Converse make the transition from “comfortable but frayed shoes” to “footwear for filthy exterior jobs you could discard if it came to that.” The result is nice.

But I didn’t paint the stuff that was peeling, and that’s about 80% of the shed when you get close. So I’ll have to scrape and paint, which seems like a nice early-fall chore, no?

Because it is early fall.

I don’t want it. Sunday it was cool and breezy, and I thought “the instincts for cozyness have not kicked in. Good.” I don’t want to feel cozy. I don’t want to sit next to the fire and think “ahhhh, snug, bug, rug, et cetera.” I want a month more of summer untrammeled; I want to attenuate the season of sun into October, when we go to Disneyworld.

Except we’re not going this year. I’m of two minds on that.

Disney is out of our house now, and has been for a while. I miss it. But it’s been gone for so long I’m missing missing it. The era of Disney is in a box on the shelf in my head. We’ll go back; we love Epcot. But I know when I walk in and hear those songs - may they never, ever change the music, even though I fear they will - it’ll be something that speaks to me alone, a time of absolute happiness that came from seeing my daughter in that place, in that spirit, in those ears. It was all sunlight then. It’s moonlight now. But the source is the same, you know.

I’m also editing the past, as you do - one of the most pleasurable memories was one of the worst times of my life: I left for Florida as the paper was melting down, and my entire future was up in the air. But I’d never felt such freedom.

I tell you, if there’s any place where you want to be reassured it’s all going to be okay, you can do worse.




It’s another movie I’ve seen. I’m running out of black and white films.

“Come and Get Me!” was the other title; the “Sound of Fury” was deemed too close to “Fury,” a Fritz Lang movie with a similar theme. And by “Similar” I mean that both were based on the same story, set in historical facts.

It begins with a fire-and-brimstone streetside preacher, and the raw scrape of his delivery and the frightening images shows you we’re not in the 40s anymore. The 50s are going to be much, much different. This you would not have seen in 1944, I believe.



Yikes. He's supposed to be blind, but, yikes.

We meet our cheerful psychopathic villain: And I do mean cheerful.



Lloyd Bridges. But I’m getting ahead of the story. Not that you care; but it helps. A guy with a wife and a kid and another on the way is finding it hard in California; can’t make a buck. He calls in with Lloyd, who convinces him to drive a get-away car by inviting the patsy up to his room, giving him a drink, taking his shirt off, and grinning a lot. Really. They embark on a Crime Wave, which is duly hawked by streetcorner urchins in the time-honored fashion:



The movie was supposedly shot in Phoenix, but I’ve no idea where. Now, when I say psychopathic, I mean it. But in a natty sort of way. After a kidnapping ends up in a killing, Lloyd reacts poorly to the idea that he doesn’t know what he’s doing.




Here’s our patsy, who does not actually walk around with the words TOP SIRLOIN halo’d about his head in reverse.



Yes, it’s Frank Lovejoy, the subject of a B&W World a few weeks ago, and the lead actor in the Suspense I listened to while painting the shed, 61 years after the show was cut. I suppose he’s be happy to know his work would be remembered, don’t you think? He’s good enough here; tortured and agonized by what he’s got into. But again, this is not a review. Inadvertent documentary:



Another Gene Doyle restaurant: he owned a few. Nothing really pops up in Google except a lawsuit. Inside Phil Torrey’s (another Gene Doyle Restaurant) the cameras are set on Bat-Tilt:




Why yes. It is Joe E. Ross.



Ooh! Ooh! I know I've done this film before, because I know I've linked to this: King of Slobs, the Joe E. Ross story.


Side note on a forgotten career.



The woman is a completely unnecessary character, a prim spinster who’s never had a steady fella, and the movie gives her much more time than it needs to. Which makes it a better movie: it’s a fine piece of characterization by Katherine Locke; she made but 9 movies, was better known for stage work, and was married to the well-remembered radio writer, Norman Corwin.

The camera finally straightens up to give us a look at our guy before everything goes south.



Frank’s sympathetic. Even as a bad guy, he had integrity, right up until the moment you realize he doesn’t, really. You root for him, which makes the finale of the picture one of the most harrowing things 1950 put up on the screen. It’s a lynching. It’s absolutely brutal - and nothing is shown, lynch-wise; it’s what happens before that makes the film almost unbearable. The dark stark poetry of noir is gone. The Fifties are going to be much, much different.

Today: the usual. Monday links on Tuesday - it's all messed up! Plus Tumblr and the work blog. See you around.





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