Had to pick up some sheet music for daughter’s piano lessons, so I proposed an Outing that would include eating somewhere.

“Sonic?” she said. Odd: I’d just been talking about Sonic with my editor that afternoon. He had a cup from the place on his desk. Made me think about working down south that summer long ago, finding an old Sonic on the edge of town, a few of the fluorescent bulbs out and the rest flickering and buzzing; whine of the highway, music from the cars, bugs, the great baking world cooking down in the twilight. The towns where that’s the only place to be.

So off we went, stopping first at Menard’s. She didn’t want to go. “Trust me,” I said. She was amazed by the store, marveled at the great escalator ramp that magnetized the carts so they didn’t roll as you moved up to the second level, wandered through the showroom of doors and rooms as if making it a private maze. It was great fun. My main goal was the purchase of Good Batteries for the smoke alarms. The other night at 3 AM one of them died, and we were all so sleepy it took forever to find which one it was. (There are six upstairs.) The next morning I found one downstairs outside the door leading to the tunnel to the garage, where I had put it because it just wouldn’t shut up.

“You get a lot of batteries for four dollars,” I said to myself, as ever, channeling Hank Hill, except I didn’t: The rectangular ones are ridiculously expensive, because they know you need them for smoke alarms. We walked outside: sunset. Warm. Beautiful evening to sit in the car and listen to the radio and have hamburgers at Sonic, which we did. I suggested we go to Office Depot so she could play havoc with fake people on the demonstration computers, which she loves to do. They have fake emails and fake twiiter accounts set up for the Windows 8 computers, and once she enjoyed sending fake emails to other people in the fake email programs. Every time we go to Trader Joe’s she asks if she can do it again, and since I have no need to go to Office Depot, I decline, but this was one of those nights where your daughter is just having a wonderful time being with Dad, and sure, shoot the moon.

On the way home I rolled down the windows on the highway and turned up the music and we just flew.

“The Heat is On” was playing. WHERE? I shouted. “It’s on the street” Glen Frey dutifully reminded us.

I noted that this song, which was always fun to hear once a year, came out at the worst time of my life. She found that interesting: you had worst times? I was out of college, out of the paper, wasn’t writing the column anymore, dateless, working at a convenience store at midnight, so yes.

But it got better. Been better ever since.

Then "Blue Monday" came on, and I explained that this was

Got home, unpacked the bags, said hello to Wife, who’d just gotten back from a run. A simple evening with nothing but minor errands, but it was rejuvenating and made me feel like a very lucky fellow.

“Dad?” Daughter said. “We forget the sheet music.”

Happiness makes you sloppy. But that’s all right.

Walked around downtown today to take pictures of the Nic on 5th, a structure I've been tracking for a few months. Decided to go down to the oldest part of town to see the things they put up for urban renewal. Some of the replacements have been around as long as the buildings they replaced. I've always loved this one.



It's the temple of Nimes. Sort of. A classical Roman temple shape extended and revised for the punchcard era.




It's an unusual example of a style that oft went awry - modernism breaking free from the severity of its origins and starting to add whimsy, curves, decorative shapes. This style is all over the 1964 World's Fair, and would fall apart in a riot of kitsch eventually.

The fountains along Washington Avenue are dry at the moment, but the old one in the park is still quite enthusastic.



Postcard view from the days when the skyline had City Hall, the Foshay, and little else.



It was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, who would use those thin lines and stylized Gothic features on the ground floor of one of the most famous buildings of the 20th century. And most infamous of the 21st. He wasn't one of my favorite architects, and the building his firm put up next to this one is absolutely terrible. But there's a grace to this one that serves the neighborhood well - and fifty years after it went up the excavation of the heart of the Gateway is starting to heal.


Down the street, one of the new housing towers going up. As opposed to going down, you idiot? Well, there was a time when tha's what we were supposed to do: earth-sheltered houses that burrowed into the ground and were heaped with dirt on the sides and top. This was the era when we were expected to run out of oil in 1995.



It's going to be better than it looks. The precast panels are unavoidable, I suppose. The corner will be all glass, and the glass they've already installed looks dark and cool. Hardly perfect. Hardly a monument. But if they filled every parking lot with one of these I'd dance a jig.




To bring you up to speed: Captain Video, so named because . . . well, it was futuristic-sounding. Like Captain Cyber in 1995, or Captain Sextant in the seafaring days. He is fighting to protect Earth from invaders, and the entire story is played out over 15 incomprehensible plotless installations that show how far sci-fi has come from the serial days. If you showed the kids who loved this stuff the latest Star Trek in 3d IMAX their brains would run out their ears and noses. Anyway:

His peril has been approved by the Motion Pictures Association of America! Or the Middle Portion of Active Alcoholics or Mostly Pathetic Aesthetic Attempts, or whatever.

They actually popped for some three-frame animation:

That’s the Planet Atoma being bombarded by Atomic Atom. The JuniorSsidekick thwarts it by shorting out something in the control room that controls everything on the planet. Then Captain Video signals for a rescue ship, like he's calling a taxi. Never occured to him to do that when they crashed landed.

It’s the same one they took in Episode 1. Needless to say, it lands far away behind some mountains, and they have to run to it, because they don't have the budget for a landing sequence. Once inside the craft, the Evil Doctor Tobor, who is secretly in league with the engagingly casual ultra-villain of the other planet that isn’t Earth or Atoma but seems to be about sixteen miles away from each, starts to poison the atmosphere to kill Captain Video and the Ranger.

Oh if only there was a button to press to send for help

Makes you wonder why they didn’t press it in the previous episode, when they were under attack. Or why the button isn’t in the back compartment that detaches from the ship in an emergency. Best not to overthink these things. With Captain Video out of the way, Ultra Villain Whatsisname subjects Earth to the terrible tribulations of stock footage:

But! Captain Video has restored the atmosphere of the ship and landed safely! Surely he will be able to . . . well, I don’t know what he’s supposed to do about anything, except find a way to kill Ultra Villain, but we’re only three eps into the 15-ep run, so that's not in the cards. So what to do?

Unlease the Krapen:

A look at the finely detailed construction of the fearsome Busted-up Hatted Robot Men:

In the end they get the Ranger, and deposit him in a burning building.

Which leads naturally to the subject of next week’s installment.

I will, and so you will you. See you around! Have a grand day, and remember, if there is ever any doubt where the heat is, it is on the street.

Providing the heat is on, of course.








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