You want the Taco Bell opening or the Computer story? What’s that - computer stories are so boring you’d prefer to save the Taco Bell story as a chaser? Happy to oblige.

Nothing worked out as planned this weekend. Absolutely nothing. Everything bit the wax tadpole. This main annoyance -

hold on, let me wait for the computer to catch up on the typing; I had the gall to switch windows and click the play button in QuickTime . . .

. . . annnnd there. Yes, still on the old sturdy but overtaxed computer, because the new one’s in the shop. Still? you ask. No; again. Friday I called to see it if was fixed, and they said they’ replaced the video card, and were just running some tests. Great! I was in the neighborhood around six, and dropped in the store to see if it was done.

“Still running some tests,” said the tech.

How long?

“Maybe . . . an hour?”

Okay fine great. Back to the store at 7 PM, but I called the store from the parking lot to see if it was ready, wincing at the awful hold music played at timpanum-piercing levels of treble; it was like chewing tinfoil chaff. After 14 minutes on hold I started walking towards the store. They picked up as I was entering. I sat down and said “you know, I’m here, so let’s do this in person.” Out comes the Apple Guy. Dealt with him before; fine fellow. He said they’re testing it.

I asked how long the tests could possibly take. Does it work? Oh yes, it’s running, the OS is on the screen, they’re just testing it. I asked if I could have it anyway, unless they were making multiple clones of my hard drive for amusement purposes. Ha ha! He said he’d bring it out. Lugged the damned thing back home, plugged it in, went downstairs to get coffee; came back up and . . . of course. Nothing.

Here’s where you feel stupid. Here’s where you think you’re using the second person to avoid saying “I felt stupid.” Obviously it wasn’t ready, and I’d ripped it from the bosom of the Testing Apparatus, but what the devil was the matter with it? Eventually I got into the screen that lets you reinstall the OS, providing you’ve checked the hard drive. All was fine. Why, that hard drive was nothing but a well-ordered series of ones and zeroes precisely where they should be. Let’s reboot and reinstall, lads! Weigh anchor! Trim the sails! Hard ‘a port! Say, why is the bow dipping below the water?

Couldn’t install because the hard drive needed repair.

But I just asked it it how it was doing and it gave me the jaunty thumbs up of a RAF pilot off to knock some bloody Jerries out of the sky. What now? Redid the scans. PROBLEMS WERE FOUND. I was advised to click the REPAIR button.

Whereupon it said “you know, it’s interesting how these things go, but now the disk not only has problems, they can’t be repaired at all.”

So the hard drive failed a day after the video card was fixed. It’s like one of those stories about old married couples. except one died hours after the other came out of a coma and started doing the Lindy Hop. Back to the Apple Store.

A dull and grinding tale, but I hope I told it in a way that provided slight amusement. At least there was this:

This is Southdale, the original Mall, the 50s idea from which all others sprang, and by all means argue about that in the comments. They’ve completed the upgrade and given it a sleek midcentury look; all the nightmarish puce and turquoise from the late 90s renovation is gone.

Taco Bell story: in the midst of my mopery on Saturday I went in for a single taco. There was a big sign that said FIERY TACO.

“Welcome to Taco Bell may I take your order please”

“I’ll have a Fiery Taco, please.”

The clerk said:

“What?” And I don’t mean “i didn’t hear that” what, but an almost incredulous “I’m sorry, I have no idea what sound just came out of your mouth. Was that a goat barfing up Pop Rocks?

I leaned back and looked up at the sign to double-check. No, my initial reconnaissance had been correct.

“A Fiery Taco, please.”

“Fiery Taco,” she said, matter of fact, of course, everyone’s ordering them, “Anything else?”

I wanted to say “an explanation,” as if it was possible I had said “borble-gadorb teep! teep! Wangle fiddle-me-gibbit” instead of the four clearly enunciated syllables that comprise the words “Fiery Taco,” but no, you just say “that’s it.”

It’s possible she thought I said “fire me taco,” as if I had decided to brighten everyone’s day with a piratical take on the tedium of fast-food ordering.

Anyway. The problem with the weekend was simple: I accomplished nothing. I made nothing, created nothing, revised nothing, fixed nothing. I thought I might go back to the Apple Store on Sunday to get the computer, but they didn’t call. The Giant Swede, however, did call, and wanted to know if I was free for a jaunt. Sure. What’s up?

He had to go to the Apple Store.

I tagged along. Asked them if my computer was ready. They checked.

“They’re running some tests,” they said.

I said that was fine and they could call me when they were finished.




Watch for the light! Amble north on Main! Movies of this stripe often had ordinary-sounding titles that were supposed to be fraught with intrigue - and by "this stripe" I mean the rather dreary genre of "documentary" films that unmasked Commies. At least we know this one will be a hard-hitting expose of the sometimes extra-legal actions of the FBI:

Or maybe not. As I always say, this isn't a review. It's just a look at the odd details that seemed normal then, but stick out now. Like, for example, the dockside delivery truck:

Who knew they delivered? Who knew the trucks had the Simple Simon / Pieman tableau on the top?

The movie pays particular attention to the truck, because it's actually full of Federal Agents, who are tracking Commies. Sometimes this means they must put on white uniforms . . . AND DRIVE SOUTH ON COMMONWEALTH!


They're in constant contact with the home base, which seems to be a radio station no one else can hear. You're listening to Wonderful WFBI, Fibbie radio in the Boston area. In case the radio man forgets which town he's in, a sign provides a helpful reminder.

A brief and wonderful piece of inadvertant documentary footage, as the HoJo truck goes past The Tasty:

There was a place called The Tasty in Cambridge; it has its own wikipedia page. Doesn't seem to be the same location at all.

Here's the main Commie bad guy. He's like Michael Shannon's dad. Except with less of that natural warmth.

Karel Stepanik. He fits the role nicely, since all the Top-Dog Communists in these movies are bloodless, arrogant, cruel, and contemptuous of everyone, including their underlings. The subordinates are either weaklings or smelly intellectual losers or, for some reason, hot-tempered women who would cut your throat for the revolution. A miserable lot.

In this film the Reds are trying to get scientific secrets from an old scientist, and to tell him where to meet his contact he must . . .

READ THE DIRECTIONS UNDER THE STREETLIGHT AT BEACON! You can see a bit of noir going on here - high contrast, spotlight lighting, moody ominous nightscapes.

But mostly it's shots of Boston in 1951. Which detail do you think I wanted to investigate here?

TIMILTY FOR MAYOR, of course. Wikipedia has a Joseph F. Timilty, a state Senator who eventually went to jail for wire fraud. The entry gives you an idea of the rest of the family:

Timilty's grandfather James P. Timilty was a state senator and the namesake of the James P. Timilty Middle School in Boston. His uncle Joseph F. Timilty was Boston Police Commissioner from 1936 to 1943. His son, James E. Timilty is a State Senator. His daughter, Kelly Timilty, was a member of the Massachusetts Governor's Council. His brother, Walter F. Timilty, Sr. is the Clerk of Courts in Norfolk County. His nephew, Walter Timilty, Jr., is a state representative.

And so on.

Some of the shots make Boston look like an old European city:

"Never been there," says one suspect about Boston. "Hear it's dirty."

Let's meet the scientist:

What's that behind him? Why, a computer. A rather large one.

We don't know what he's working on until he has the Eureka moment, and his theories are proven true by the computer. This was the golden era of men with Middle-European accents puffing at their pipes and being delightfully absent-minded in a fashion that earned gentle chiding from their matronly wives who were always worried about how hard they were working. These men had theories. Eif my theeorrry iss carrect then and so on.

His dream:

I'm wit you there, professor.

One more scene: context doesn't matter. Title it "Boston, 1952" and it could be in a collection of photos, complete with an admiring note from an art critic about the tension between man and woman, civilian and military, and anything else you could read into the frame.



Here's some "Following the Communist Taxi Driver " music. Note how the music starts out with great promise, and ruins it almost immediately. From something that could have been a driving theme all on its own - base and furtive clarinet - and ruins it with generic cop-drama nonsense.

Here are some updates. I was surprised to find that there was a batch in the Transportation section that wasn't uploaded, so therre's lots of matches today. If I'm wrong and they look familiar, they'll start to look new at #32.

Work Blog at the usual time; tumblr eventually. Have a grand day!



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