’Tis the season! Jingle kringle merry merry!


Yay! Awright! Snow angels and snowmen and ribbons on kittens! Mistletoe and reindeer and peppermint!

Long-range forecasts call for snow through May! Deck the halls! Kill me now!

Well, we knew it was coming. There was supposed to be more; got a call from the school’s communication director, who has a singularly unimpressive speaking style, and was informed that seven inches was on the way - but that the schools would remain open, of course. I’ll give them that. Takes two feet in one hour for them to think about closing.

Before the snow I went here:

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which is next to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I gave a talk to a class about writing persuasive opinion pieces for a Sunday newspaper. Opened by saying it was a challenging subject, because the long-form Sunday op-ed is a dying art, and newspapers are a dying medium. (pause.) Thanks for listening; any questions? I had remarks jotted down, but turns out I just had to listen to their opening sentences and offer advice. It was an opportunity to discourage several words:




And one other I can’t recall, but comes from the same mindset, and carry baggage the reader is supposed to grasp immediately and approve. If I accomplished one thing, it was that. Also tried to suggest that no one’s mind is ever changed by one piece; the evolution of ideas and the consensus of the many is a gradual process. You might move the needle. That’s enough. “Oh, I forgot my Coke,” I added, getting the soda out of my jacket.

“Where are you from?” one student asked. I said Fargo, originally; why? Her father called any soda a Coke, no matter what it was.

“You’re drinking Pepsi,” she said.

Ah! Teachable moment! Yes! I went into the evolution of Coke as a brand, how it wove itself into the DNA of wartime American identity, cemented its connection with Christmas iconography, made its bottle shape instantly recognizable world-wide, stuck with a logo that meant Coke and nothing else, and how it was one of my favorite brands for design, advertising history, illustration, and so on. Coke has spent untold millions persuading us to trust it and prefer it.

I picked up the Pepsi and said “I bought this because it was cheaper. All that advertising, all that persuasion, meant nothing when it was the week at Target where Pepsi was on sale.

So keep that in mind when you’re writing 700 words to change someone’s mind.


A fulfilling day, all in all, I suppose; wrote, filed, talked, contributed. Voted. This time it was held at a church where I took Natalie for some Parent-Child Early Education program my wife signed me up for, just to get us out of the house. About ten years ago. Me and ten moms. It was great fun. Learned nothing. the Education part was all obvious and basic, one step above "don't dangle your chid by one leg while walking around the house with a beer in one hand," but no one really cared about that. Everyone was there to relax while someone else took care of the toddlers, and we could eat cookie and vent and swap war stories. I suppose there might be some groups that slightly resent the presence of a Male Interloper - I'm thinking of a Women's Lit class I took in college, where I felt like a steel splinter - but that wasn't the case here, and I remember it fondly. Walking out hand in hand, taking the steps with care, home to cook supper on a winter evening, everything rght with the world.

I remembered that the stairs nd the hallway had some classic early 60s ceramic tile, and decided to take a picture. Grabbed the handle on the door that led to the annex where the classes were held: kunk. Locked.

I could see where we used to walk, but the lights were low and all the colors I recalled were in shadows.

Went home, waited for daughter to flounce in the door from school and joke around and upbraid me for not having any STRAWS, which I was supposed to get. After which I would make supper on a wintry evening. Everything wasn't right with the world, but everything wasn't right then, either. You forget the cares and worries and paint it all with a brush of golden syrup. Or: the cares and worries fall away because they were the least important facts of the day, tarnish on a precious vessel. Time cleans it up. Reminds you what was inside.

Remember: watch this spot.

Let's see what it looks like tomorrow.


Well, killing the radio star takes careful preparation:

When last we saw Captain Video, he'd been shoved off a "space platform," left to plummet to the earth. This is achieved by rear-projecting clouds, on their side.

Someone seems to have drawn a happy cow smoking a pipe on one frame. Or a skull wearing sunglasses and a toupee.

Back at the lab, Gallagher - the assistant, not the prop comedian - brings him down by increasing the earth’s gravitational pull, which apparently made everyone drop to their knees and back their nose on the ground, but hey, everyone has to make sacrifices.

Then the Sonic Air Cushion - which I believe you can get from a late-night infomercial - slows his descent, so he falls gracefully to earth.

Finally, they tumble to the fact that Dr. Tobor is evil, and in league with Vultura. Tobor listens to them on the Ultraphonic MicroCondesifiying Sound Remitter, or hidden microphone:

He’s not worried. Let Captain Video do his worst! Tobor’s too clever for the likes of him. Never mind that Video has foiled NINE ATTEMPTS to kill him on TWO PLANETS, alf of which were arranged by a guy who conquers entire solar systems, or that Captain Video is but one member of a world-wide organization of militarized scientists. No, you just sit in the lab with Skelton and stroke your pointy facial hair.

Anyway, the trap consists of standing around the microphone and dropping false information. Tobor concludes that the only thing to do is to blow up Captain Video’s HQ. In the meantime, Future Thugs follow a truck which is supposed to be carrying the Falsagoric Migrossing Frambidigit, which Tobor thinks will expose him. and you realize:

There aren’t any roads in the future. Everyone’s always driving around dirt paths.

A fistfight follows. The henchmen have a good excuse for attempting to stop the truck:

But what if Tobor is still using his Invisibility Cloak? Well, it turns out the Captain Video has a Rondig Materializer in the closet, which can neutralize the Invisibility Cloak, which they didn’t know existed before. That’s handy. Just as things seem to be on the good guy's side, a random explosion occurs and we go to a trailer for next week:

Since Captain Video was falling from space in the previous cliffhanger, and this one ends with a minor flare-up of flame and smoke in the lab, you're excused if you think he'll probably be okay.








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