From 60 the other day to 22 this morning, with a stabby wind that went right down the collar and down your back and cut to the right where the wallet sits, holding a credit card that could be used to fly somewhere warm. But we have the dog. The snow didn't melt entire, but it got soft; pools of melted water lined the edges of the backyard snowpack by the walk. It froze solid overnight. Meaning it will take longer to disappear.
There was thunder last night, too. A great flash in the sky.
Then it started to snow.
At work right now, just taking a break after filing something. There’s a big machine in the parking lot out the window, pounding the asphalt, breaking it up for the building to come.
Soon they’ll take down the building right outside my window -
- and I hope we don’t move before it goes. This view, this ability to be in this point in space, will be gone. The block will be a park, and no one who sits on the grass on a sunny day will ever look up at think that people used to spend their entire day up there in the sky, walking around on floors now vanished.
Annd right in the middle of writing that comes the news to meet upstairs at 2:30 in the main assembly room.
That’s never good.
Except it is, this time: we’ve been bought. We’re assured that the new owner will not be involved with the product, although of course he has every right to do so. Who would buy a car factory without the right to change what type of vehicle they make? Reporters tend to bristle at the idea of Influence From Above, though; it’s one of the few industries where the employees would be appalled if the paycheck-signers told them what to do.
But just wait until the day when he realizes that he’s been reading a particular comic in the paper for 30 years, and it’s not funny. It’s never been funny. It’s within his power to do something about it. That will be the test.
Back from the meeting.
There was applause at the end. There are meetings where everyone breaks into mutterings and shuffles towards the door, and ones that end with applause - it was for our publisher, but there was something else in the sound as well. We weren’t bought to be broken and sold. We weren’t bought for the land. We weren’t bought to be a bauble or a plaything. We were bought because we were a good investment that was also by no small coincidence the STAR TRIBUNE, then and now and tomorrow.
These are interesting times. First: it’s nice to work in a newspaper and get called to a company-wide meeting that feels like the news will be good. It almost feels as if the paper - by which I mean the people, of course, but also The Entity, the product that gets remade anew every day - is eager to get out of the building, start fresh. The demolition could be the best thing that’s happened to us, if it lets all the ghosts go. The place never recovered from the Great Purge of ’07. You never get used to doors that are locked for good, areas where the heat no longer flows, where the window slit in the door shows an room of empty cubicles or heaps or chairs. Lights out.
I used to enter by a door that was closed, then walled up. But before they shut it off for good I took pictures, for some reason. As the months went by and more sections of the building were decommissioned, I snuck in and shot what I could. When I do my final goodbye to the place I’ll post them. Never experienced anything like the feeling that your livelihood was dissolving at the same time an entire institution was reacting like a cotton candy in a hot shower. I do not recommend it.
There’s not a lot of the physical aspects of a newspaper building in “Autumn Solitaire,” but the sequel is all about life in a dying newspaper. But you won’t know that unless I get “Autumn” out so it’s back to the last read. 16K words into the 70K book, and it still holds up. To my amazement.
Oh, you didn't think we were done with these, did you?
I think this is apt. Compare and contrast with the movie hitting the theaters soon.
Let's meet the fighting embodiment of all we hold true and dear!
Er - okay. Next:
Wow, twins with the same name!
She’s the DA’s secretary.
Wonder who the villain might be . . . oh.
I think he might be the bad guy in this one.
It’s black and white, so you’ll have to take their word for it. What is this death with a grape-like hue? First we see, a man in a car is receiving instructions from a Golden Scarab; he is instantly hypnotized and commanded to drive his car off a cliff, which he does. Yes, we’re not 25 seconds into the serial, and a car’s gone over a cliff. We’re off to a capital start.
Two more deaths follow, and THE PURPLE DEATH is blamed. No reason why it’s so named, except that “all the victims had a certain chemical in their bloodstream, and were found clutching a Scarab.” Oh, and they were members of an Egyptian expedition. So the police round up all the other guys who were on the trip and put them in protective custody? Investigate the background of anyone who’s had business dealings with the expedition?
Nah. They stand around The Chief’s Office and wish they knew how to get in touch with Captain America, whose reputation is such that police hesitate to get all geared up for an investigation, because he's just going to show up and deal with it.
Looks legit. Dr. Mordor or Maldor is talking to another member of the Egyptian Expedition, and being very ominous. He gives him a cigar, and notes that while the old fellow doesn’t have a lot of money in the bank, he has something else that the Scarab wants:
Looked in your sock drawer, you naughty boy. Malodor reveals that he’s the Scarab, and that’s a relief; we don’t have 12 episodes ahead wondering about his identity. He tells the old guy that he’s the Slave of the Purple Death now, thanks to the cigar fumes, and gets the details about the plans, their location, the combination of the safe, the secret blend of herbs and spices, and so on. Man, this one could be over before it started!
The crooks are going through the safe at the prof's house, when . . .
It's Captain America! With a gun to make up for his utter lack of super powers! In other words, it's a guy with a gun in a costume.
By the way, Captain America is the secret identity of . . . the District Attorney. And he’s got a brilliant plan! Since the crooks left behind some Purple Death Bombs, and since the stuff in the flasks is lethal if dropped, and since it kinda smells like flowers, let’s send around the DA’s secretary to all the florists to see if they can identify it:
I’m from the DA. We're trying to identify a poison. Would you please inhale this Purple Death Bomb?
But it’s not really a Purple Death Bomb. They drained the poison.. When she pulls out the flask, she’s looking for a reaction like this . . .
. . . and when she gets the scared reaction, she drops the flask, and if the guy looks like he just wet himself, then he’s connected to the ring that’s been killing Egyptologists!
This makes perfect sense.
Alas, Captain Attorney didn’t think what might happen after that. They get the drop on her, and we get another necessary element of the serials:
The Secret Lab. Bossman Malodor says “off the skirt,” or words to that effect, but hot on the secretary’s trail is the District Attorney, who of course is Captain America, but he's not in costume, so this can't be the cliffhanger. He does shoot two thugs dead; add that to the guy he shot in a previous scene, and the District Attorney has gunned down three men in the course of two days.
Those were the days! Two-fisted lawyers with a vigilante spirit.
By the way, this would be a good time for a cliffhanger - but this episodes runs a half an hour i instead of 15 minutes. So, pad pad pad, peril, gunplay, fisticuffs, plots, and eventually we find the DA’s secretary looking at a demonstration of the Vibrator Destructor.
You know, as the secretaries of District Attorneys are wont to do.
The bad guys arrive, put everyone in the vault, and turn the machine up to destroy it and the entire building, so Dr. Maldor is in sole possesion of the plans the henchmens stole. Mind you, there aren’t any plans for it anywhere else. Not in a safe, not in a bank. The scientist is dead and he didn't make copies of his plans. So.
While the machine warms up we see shots of Captain America driving a car to the lab, which seems underwhelming. As is the reaction of the Henchmen:
I love that. Of course, he doesn't just shoot them on the spot, even though he's already killed three people so far; there has to be a fist fight first. One of the henches really packs a punch:
It’s a long fight; Cap throws one guy out the window, bringing his body count to Four, , and ends just in time for the Death Vibrator to reach Peak Whine. Cap saves the rest of the cast, but must turn off the machine before it destroys the building. Will he be successful?
It would be hilarious if the words THE END came up after that, but no.
Strib blog in short form in the morn; Tumblr, of course. See you around!