My wife, being much much better at these things, arranged events for the Free Day for our Japanese exchange student. A corn maze in the morning, complete with pumpkin cannons, then a theater performance of lithe acrobats, then a bike ride around three lakes, and a jog up to the Water Tower to see the sunset before supper.

“Ever think she’s going to go home and say she stayed with a madwoman?” I said. “‘Oh, she never gave me moment’s rest! Always we had to be doing something!’”

Perhaps not. This is probably quite enjoyable and revelatory, and nothing she’s experienced is anything out of the ordinary. Today’s gustatory success: bratwurst, with a small dessert of pumpkin ice-cream bar segments. She gave a few leftovers to Jasper, who singled her out right away as someone who didn’t get the No Scraps During Dinner memo.

Good weekend? Sure. So far, another October marked by the inability of photography to capture the experience of Fall. That makes about 170 or so. The quality of Autumn exists outside the capabilities of recording devices; the camera cannot grasp the essence. It sees color and light, nothing more. A picture of faded leaves can’t communicate the progression of hues that threads through the days; a moment can’t possibly contain the plots that unfold on every branch and vine around you. In Spring it’s one big glorious eruption, arising with one single thought: GREEN. Winter is the long blank punishing absence. Summer has the stature and bearing of indolent monarchy, assuming itself to be the natural order of accomplishment - when it is undone by Fall, it’s at the end of a series of demands to which it acceded without thinking of the accumulated consequences.

Fall is a fugue of major and minor, largo and vivace; there are days I look out and see nothing but green, and an hour later in another place green is the grace note in a threnody of somber ochre.

It was warm Friday night. The last of this, you think. It was grey and almost as warm on Saturday, but with a hint of the needle in the wind, the sort of day that makes you pass a display of Pumpkin Bread Mix and sweep it into your basket without a second thought.

If you’re shopping. Which I was, of course. Got home with the groceries, put everything away, basked in the perfection of Provisioning. Saturday afternoon is when I put things where they are supposed to be, so everyone can reach for what they want come Monday, and it’s there. Wife’s yogurt, daughter’s lunch fixings. I cleaned the fridge and consigned the spent cereal boxes to recycling while listening to the “Mystery of Edwin Drood,” a 1952 radio adaptation of the unfinished Dickens story. There’s a lot of honor and duty and bosom-clutching social obligation. It is heartening to read of Dickens’ thoughts on the plot, related in a letter.

Discovery by the murderer of the utter needlessness of the murder for its object, was to follow hard upon commission of the deed; but all discovery of the murderer was to be baffled till towards the close, when, by means of a gold ring which had resisted the corrosive effects of the lime into which he had thrown the body, not only the person murdered was to be identified but the locality of the crime and the man who committed it. So much was told to me before any of the book was written; and it will be recollected that the ring, taken by Drood to be given to his betrothed only if their engagement went on, was brought away with him from their last interview. Rosa was to marry Tartar, and Crisparkle the sister of Landless, who was himself, I think, to have perished in assisting Tartar finally to unmask and seize the murderer.

This is every Post-It note I scrawled over the last year figuring out “Autumn Solitaire.”

When it was done I napped. In the evening watched a ghost story. “The Awakening,” a haunted-house story, or rather haunted-boarding-house story. It has a twist! Yes, at one point there are Startling Revelations that call Everything into Question. Set in England in the early 20s. Dark room, fire crackling behind the grate: the pleasures of fall. Didn’t hurt that I really enjoyed the movie as well. When it was done I had time for another movie, and considered popping in the “Iron Man 3” DVD I got from Netflix, but I looked at the running length and thought, again: why so much? Do I want to sit here and get beaten over the head until it’s 2:07 and I’m just waiting for this incredible eye-popping action set-piece to end so I can sleep?
But I have to watch it. One must. Pop culture is a series of musts. You had better wonder what the fox says. You’d best know why Agent Coulson’s reanimation is an issue. You really ought to know why it’s funny that Larry King is doing DrakeHands. It comes at you from all directions. But I call those days Monday Through Friday, when you have to keep up so that one may Blog with Assurance. Weekends I disconnect; nothing outside the parameters of Jasperwood or the weather or the duties of provisioning or the immersion in the culture of ages past matters. I reconnect on Monday around 10 AM.

And then it’s all fascinating and appalling and amusing and dazzling. You know when you were a kid, and you stayed under the covers for a while and then threw them back and the air tasted fresh and clean and cool? That’s Mondays. I never understood why people didn’t like Mondays. I’m always hungry Monday mornings. The week is a buffet and the sound of the alarm clock is the clank of the plate you just took off the stack.



As ever: not a review. It's a look at the things one might glean from the images of old movies in the days before color was absolutely required to hold an audience's attention. Today, a movie that tells you up front what it's going to be about:

That doesn't make sense.

This boy and this girl were never properly introduced to the world we live in. to tell their story, they live by night.


Well, it has an arresting opening; fleeing crooks in an old jalopy, shot from a helicopter. They ditch the car and run through a field . . .

Cosmo Nifties! Our hero, Farley Grainger, has a bum leg, so he has to wait under the sign over night.

I should note that he's a Good Crook. Soulful. Well-meaning. Unlike the other yeggs in the gang. Looks like Michael Shannon's grandfather:

The character's name is T-Dub. Actor: Jay Flippen. Then there's the leader of the gang:

He hated it when anyone called him "One-Eye." Howard da Silva, a fellow who could project affability and menace with an effortlessness that was his all alone.

The movie is a love story. The daughter of One-Eye's brother is the first gal our hero's ever kissed! Which was probably true.

He just wants to get money to hire a good lawyer and clear his name, because he's not a criminal at all, you see. Once he gets money from the bank job they're going to pull, he can prove it!

The bank is in the oddly named town of Zelton.

Doesn't exist. So I've no idea where this is, except I would have liked to have seen that sign on the window:

The shots in the town of Zelton, wherever it is, are some of the best parts of the movie, with the old trick of putting the camera in the back seat of the car as they case the joint. Like "Gun Crazy." But as I tweeted the night I watched it, the movie is like "Gun Crazy" without the Crazy. The love story is inert and the crime segments - which might provide some action - all take place off stage. Really: we hear about the bad ends of the other members of the gang on the radio, or second-hand from another character. DaSilva stands out. T-Dub stands out.

And then there's the kindly scam artist who's also the town's Marrying Sam:

He looks like an old coot here, in 1948. But of course he was just visiting from the future.

Work blog around 12:30 and Tumblr as well. See you around!





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