If it’s Wednesday, it must be Dome Destruction Photos Day. I don’t know why, except that I did it for the last two Wednesdays, so it’s now a regular feature.

Just wait for StarTribune Destruction Photos Day. Can’t say I look forward to it, but ever since the fate of the building became settled science - i.e., long-range computer forecasts show a 100% chance of swinging iron spheres - the place has seemed even wearier than ever. It’s given up. Of course, nothing’s changed - but I wonder how much of that has to do with the accumulated subconscious mood of the people who work there. Everyone knows it’s doomed. Everyone is ready to go on but we can’t. Not yet.

All will be transformed into an enormous stadium and three buildings of middling height and a two-block park. I expect I will take my lunch there some day. Sitting on the grass where the lobby used to be.

It was built for the ages, and in the end the block will look as if it was never there at all.

I have been tasked to do the video remembrances and tours, for History. I’m proud to do it.

Annnnd in the other category of things that aren’t any more: daughter came in just before bedtime, slightly stunned, and said “Pretzel’s dead.” If I’d said “Pretzel’s dead?” and she replied “that’s what I said” we would have had some funky Curtis Mayfield eulogy going on, but no; I just said I was sorry, and gave her a hug. She had some tears, as you can expect, and a big Mom hug. Recollections about how he was a cute and playful hamster, certainly better than Ace. (“I don’t think he liked living,” she said of that nasty little thing. Literally bit the hand than fed it.) I will miss her coming into my room every night with Pretzel, letting me give his little head a pat, marveling over those eyes - if dog eye bugged out of the side of their head like that we wouldn’t be so keen to have them as companions, perhaps.

We knew he wasn’t long, because he had got too wide. As I noted a while ago he was getting fat, which I ascribed to cold weather and eating and being old, and hence less inclined to run around. ( I googled it tonight, and of course came up with a million dire reasons, all of which boil down to “Hamster. Who knows.”) He also had a problem with his right eye not opening entirely; daughter gently daubed it with some sterile water until it opened.

Wife had told her that Pretzel was probably not long for the world, being two and change, and, well, such is life.

So Wife goes into consoling mode, tempered with Lessons and Perspective, and I pick up the cage and take it downstairs and brush away all the seeds and fluff and remove all traces of Pretzel’s little world. Get out a box for disposal: an Amazon box that arrived the other day with some meaningless little items, and was sitting by the back door for disposal. That’s how it goes: phone charger cord goes out, and you never think “I’d best order another now and save the box as a rodent coffin,” but life is improv. Adapt, adopt, inter, as the Musketeers said.

Too bad we couldn’t talk to him. When I was a little boy I loved Dr. Doolittle stories, with their mushy illustrations and exotic nomenclature and ever-so-English places. (Puddleby-on-the-Marsh; really, it’s as damp an English place-name as you can imagine.) I remember thrilling to the doctor’s trip to the moon on the back of a moth, if I’m not making that up, and being worried when he returned back in a terrible sickly state. I was still enamored of the books when the movie came out, and couldn’t wait to see it.

It was on TV the other night. I DVRd it and watched some last night. It begins with an Overture, a sign that the movie will exact a larger-than-usual babysitter bill and will have an intermission and go on forever until you can’t wait for it to be done. The Overture is a mistake, because it signals to the audience that there’s not a distinctive tune to be heard in the entire show.

Then it started. Oh joy! Dr. Doolittle in a movie this is keen this is neat this is so great this is -

Why are they singing? There’s no singing in the books.

I remember great disappointment. They got it wrong. The quiet gentle simplicity of the books was replaced with SONGS and Rex Harrison strutting around sing-talking (or talk-singing) and being too . . . too . . . keen. Alert. The real Dr. Doolittle was rumpled and gentle, more Nigel Bruce.

I bought the soundtrack but only listened to that one song. So last night I watched the movie until that One Song came along. It has the over-lit Important Movie big-budget feel of a roadshow production, an event; wikipedia noted that the first showing made the producers concerned, because the audience was not only indifferent, it didn’t have many kids present. (It was at the Mann theater in downtown Minneapolis.)

Anyway. I lifted off the top of the little igloo where Pretzel slept, and he was still. Eyes closed. Unaware he had been loved; unaware of the very idea.

I put the fluff in the box and picked him up - not cold, not stiff - and put him in the box and put more fluff on top and said thank you and goodbye.

Upstairs I consoled everyone that he hadn’t been dead unattended for a day; he was still warm.

This led to questions. What if - are you sure? Can you make sure?

So I went back downstairs and opened the box, hoping we weren’t going to have a Lazurus-type situation here hamster-wise. But no.

The progressions of childhood. The Fish Phase is over. The Hamster Interlude has passed. Just glad there wasn’t a parakeet.

Oh: in the Dr. Doolittle movie, we meet a parrot, and the fellow who’s been taking up the screen time to pad out the movie and sing until we meet the good Doctor says “hello, Polynesia,” and I was startled: I knew that character. I remembered her. I loved that character. And I understood why I didn’t like the movie. When Polynesia was drawn, I wanted her to be real. Now that she was real . . . I wanted her to be drawn.



You can tell the era right away by the typeface and the design and the fact that it’s just words on a flat surface: the Forties. It would be a while before credits were anything else. We’re used to kinetic credit sequences now, but for years they didn’t do much except spell it out.



The audience might have known right away where this is:



It was one hell of a cliffhanger: Rocketman flying straight at the building as the thugs shot right at him! How did he get out of that?

That was easy. The henchmen escape anyway, and it's back to the lab.

Before Jeff King finishes the Decimator, he needs to build a Chromium Shield. Serials are like that: something something has to be invented or found or transported, and this provides an opportunity for Villain X to display additional, if fruitless, villainy. As it turns out. Dr. Vulcan has a Chromium Shield Detector ready to go.


At least the scriptwriters had the decency to make Vulcan say “Since I knew Millard was working on a Chromium Shield, I had this built.” Captain Video’s nemesis would have just pulled it out of the closet.

Nice to see another angle of his digs, by the way. Wonder why the rental company doesn’t complain about his power consumption.

Here’s this week’s plot device Chromium Shield Detector:



Leads them right to the secret cave where Dirkin and Jeff King are inventing things!! Well, the henchmen trip the electric eye, and see a henchman driving off on a motorcycle, so it’s time for Rocketma -

No, they just drive off, leaving the cave unguarded. BRILLIANT. Because hey, that motorcyclist was probably a henchman for Vulcan! Let’s shoot him. At least we have a chase and gunplay; we need only wait for the fist fight and appearance of Rocketman at the end. Hey, maybe when they catch the motorcyclist, there will be a fistfight -

Yes, well, maybe not.

Back at the Secret Cave Lab, the most dangerous weapon in the world is gone, but their hidden cameras have a picture of its license plates (No doubt registered to Vulcan, Doctor). This leads to a dragnet, with all available pieces of stock footage deployed. Once they get a fix on the truck, it’s time for Rocketman!

But the truck he’s looking for is booby-trapped! If someone goes in the truck it’ll go off after ten seconds!



Good thing Rocketman gets there early before the hood leaves, because this means there’s a fistfight! Haven’t had one yet. But - he loses! No! Rocketman, wake up! WAKE UP




Usual usual here and there; see you around.




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