Hey! Fourteen below. So of course we spent an hour and a half in the car, where it’s both toasty and close, but you feel like you’re in a vehicle bumping along the surface of dark side Mars. Mission: audition.

Daughter has caught the theater bug. She came in the room the other night to show me a tweet she got from some theater-advice account: you don’t have to be overly dramatic to be dramatic.

“That. Is SOOOO true,” she said.

“You’re being overly dramatic.”

“I know, but it’s soooo true.” Other kids in her previous classes, it seems, equate “acting” with loud gusts of sobbing emotion. She prefers the quieter approach. To my surprise, though, she started researching auditions for child parts, and came up with a movie audition that called for someone her age. I asked a few questions, such as the appropriateness of the show, when they would need her; Googled the director; satisfied myself that this was not a child-slavery ring that would require me to go all Liam Neeson on her abductors, Taken-style (“I have a very specific skill set, including mockery and ridicule. I will find you, and I will use a humiliating simile for your actions.”) To my surprise, it was TOMORROW, and tomorrow was today, as we say when you’re an hour away from calling it yesterday. So off we went.

Took forever; it was in St. Paul, in a decommissioned church. Since the roads are encrusted with ice, and stopping distance at 20 MPH is about three blocks, everyone was doing about 16 MPH up River Road, hands and knees in the bleak dark. When we got there she was nervous and excited, and when she introduced herself with poise and good cheer to the filmmaker and his assistant, I’ve never been prouder. She did this all on her own.

She did well, and her temporary mortification and forgetting a line was salved when the director said, well, actually, the part has no lines. Lots of screen time, but no lines. We thanked them for their time and left just as another kid was coming in - and you could tell this was one of those Theatah Kids who brimmed with the precociousness of someone who’d had their ego buffed to a high shine since she was a zygote. Daughter said she gave her the evil eye for a second but never stopped SMILING!

A long slog back home, elation, doubt, recrimination, reassurance, resignation, acceptance, ending with just being glad she’d done it. We stopped to eat at SMASHBURGER, a new entry into the burger wars, and I thought “if I like it and post about it people will say ‘but it’s not as good as In-and-Out or SuperPatty or UltraMeat’ or whatever chain is regarded as the epitome of the circular-meat experience. I don’t like Five Guys too much, except for the fries. SMASHBURGER reminded me of the lunch-counter hamburgers of my youth, and that’s a very good thing.

Here’s the part you must imagine to know what it’s like up here right now: we sat in the restaurant, eating supper, wearing parkas. There is no place that is not cold. That’s how it feels. You get used to wearing bulky thick coats while eating a hot juicy burger, because otherwise you start to shiver and your teeth chatter and it’s hard to masticate properly. Hard to time it right.

Well, that was my day, or rather the highlight of it. Column night, and also Diner work, so this won’t be the epic-length Bleat of the last few days. But there’s more below the fold! Can’t leave it at this.


Last week I said I was scraping the bottom of the Odds 'n' Ends barrel, and that isn't quite fair. I wouldn't post anything I didn't think was worth posting. There has to be a reason I set these things aside, right? For example: I'm pretty sure there was a reason this stuck out.

It's the style, of course - like an old woodcut. For all I know it was a woodcut. It's part of a series about the people who cause car accidents. The year is 1938.

Driving over the center lane and not caring a fig, or more likely a bucket of figs, whether people have to drive into the ditch to get out of the way. If he heads into dreamer, watch out - although the dreamer would probably just fly around like a dandelion seed, and the engine block of the car would bounce off Road Hog’s guts.

American Despair, 1938.

Why is there a "Pikes Peak Or Bust" sticker on his windshield?

The artist had a few mistresses in his time - as opposed to someone else's, I guess - and one of them was staying at his cabin while he was away. She walked into the woods one day and showed up in the ocean three weeks later.

The driver seems to be more of the "Drunken starer while pretending to listen" type, but I get the idea.


You won't find this today, will you? You can get two in the front. No more.

The common theme in all of these seems to be nonchalant inattention. The artist was Rockwell Kent. I knew the style was familiar when I saw it - WPA art + William Blake + Streamline Moderne + old English woodcuts, and so on. One of the most famous versions of Moby Dick bears his work, and he was so well-known when the book was issued he got bigger billing than that Meville fellow.


That's it for today - but the new restaurant interiors begins today. It gets browner and orangey rather quickly.









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