It would be wrong to have this image in August, wouldn't it? Late July is almost too late. Mid-July is almost too late. That's a picture for middle June through the 9th, 10th of July.
But it's summery. And it's summer. So there.
“Hangry,” a portmonteau meaning “angry from hunger.” It is a horrible word but it fits, sometimes. To explain:
Second time in two weeks I’ve stood in the Coffee aisle at Target, looking for drip filters. They’re nowhere to be seen. It’s possible they moved them. To some location that’s more intuitive than right by the coffee. Made a note: buy them at Cub, the next stop.
Oh, I’ll just cut to the chase. I forget them at Cub. I was otherwise occupied.
The sign at Cub said I would get 10 FUZE drinks free if I bought 10 Fuze drinks for 10 dollars. For those who don’t know, FUZE is one of those flavored-water drinks that isn’t soda and doesn’t have sugar, and usually prides itself on having antioxidants or pro-oxidants e or oxychloride or something. Plus Acai. Drinks like to have Aca these dasi. So I picked up a shrink-wrapped box with the flavor Bananaguava or some-such flavor crossbred on the Island of Dr. Moreau, then got another flavor in case the first tasted like Windex. Daughter likes the brand, so I figured I was safe.
I needed a coupon, though. Cub has coupons. They come with the newspaper. They are also sitting in stacks at the store. You can get them by the door and rip them out and use the little pieces of paper as scrip. Totally pointless. If only someone had figured out a way to deliver them electronically! But they have: the app for the store downloads the coupons, making the redemption process slightly easier, because you’re not standing in the store tearing scraps of paper. (Or cutting them with the scissors on your tiny Swiss Army Knife, as I do.) So I opened the app to get my coupons and PLEASE LOG IN
Oh to hell with it. Now I have to log in to get coupons. I thought I had logged in before. App must have updated behind my back. Entered password. WRONG. Would I like to have my password mailed to me?
Heck yeah! I live for things like this. I could fumble-thumb the email address and wait, or I could get the actual coupons, which were 12 feet away.
So I got the coupons from the stack and looked at what else might be a fine bargain. Well, the Lotsa Mozza pizzas, frozen but with a nice sauce, were two for one. Truly, a deal too hot to miss. Yes, these are the hottest deals of the summer, indeed. Great time to be alive. There was also a coupon for bacon, and even though I had bought bacon at Target, I decided to take advantage of the sudden generosity.
There was also a coupon for two scrounds of acceptable ice cream for $5, and the price for each is usually $3.50. I have plenty. But this is a great price. It has been years since I opened the freezer on a Saturday night to treat myself to ice cream, and found none. It never happens.
But it could.
I do the self check-out, which is satisfying and annoying. I beep the coupons over the barcode reader. It tells me to put them in the slot. I’m a pro at this, so I fold them and stick them in the slot and blow, which satisfies whatever mechanism in the slot says “yes, that meaningless piece of paper has been inserted, and commerce may now resume.” The scale that holds the bags doesn’t think I put something in, so I have to lie and touch “I don’t want to bag this item” on the screen, even though I know that if it happens again, it will require a manager to come over and give me permission to move on with life.
I hold up the box of FUZE drinks. It doesn’t beep. The manager comes over and explains that the bar code on the box isn’t one the machine recognizes. That’s when I realize that the box has 12. The sale is buy 10, get 10 free. I have 24, in two sets of a shrink-wrapped dozen. So I open the shrink-wrap. The manager takes a bottle, beeps it; hits I DON’T WANT TO BAG THIS ITEM. Does it again. And again. And it says MANAGER PERMISSION REQUIRED, because she, the manager, just blew over the non-bag limit. So she swipes her card and continues and beeps it again, and then she says:
“How many was that?”
I don’t know. Four? Five? She exits to another screen, scrolls up, and counts.
“Four.” And she swipes again. But I say I’d be glad to do this, because I’m going to bag them, and she says fine and heads off, and I start taking them out of the box and beeping them and putting them in the bag -
It is 3 PM. I had a 70 calorie cup of ersatz eggs with cheese and salsa for breakfast, and half a thin bagel. I am hungry. I am hungry. I am confused. I don’t know how many have been beeped. There are five in the bag. There are seven in the box. But she beeped four. HOW CAN THIS BE -
Oh, figure it out. Four plus five is nine. Beep one more, and take all the ones that haven’t been passed over the Magic Purchase Validation Device into the cart. That’s right: I didn’t beep them. Come get me, copper.
I also got some cans of soda, and on the way out of the store one of the 12-packs fell off the front of the cart and I ran it over just enough to pierce one of the cans, which started spraying a thin high-pressure jet out the side. But it wasn’t carbonated, so it calmed down. This I placed in the back on the plastic mat and stored everything and went home and got the cold stuff in the freezer, then I ate about 150 peanuts. Man.
When I went back to get the cans I’d run over - FUZE ice tea, by the way; daughter loves it - I picked up the 12-pack and it fell apart, because it was wet, and 12 cans hit the garage floor, and three of them started hissing out iced tea in all directions.
So it anyone drove by the house and saw a guy kicking cans out of his garage, that was why.
Cleaned the kitchen and said “nap” and hit the hay, and when I woke up it was just a few minutes before wife returned from the church parking lot with daughter from camp. She came bounding in all happy and tousled, and I made hamburger and she told camp tales and everything was perfectly wonderful again and life is absolutely grand and I will never complain about anything again.
That assertion, like this week’s coupon, expires 08.03.14.
This is a perfect example of a childhood memory that nails down a time: summer; staying over at a friend’s house (they had a camper! Those were cool, and that’s where we stayed); Saturday night with the late-night Spooky Movie feature. Neither of us cared for the supernatural stuff, and seeing another dim overwrought Hammer vampire movie wasn’t exciting. But this movie was different. It started in SPACE.
And Space was narrated by that guy! That guy who did all the sci-fi movies and also cartoons. (Paul Frees, if you're wondering.) The title, which we'd seen in the TV section of the Fargo Forum:
Monolith monsters? Walking, marauding Washington Monuments? It starts with a nice crisp shot:
The framing, the tones, the way the dust shines behind the car - I'm sure we noticed none of it.
The guy in the car is a geologist, because there would be no movie if anyone else discovered the rocks. He drives back to Everytown USA, Desert Version:
There’s a bit of scientific talk, and we were gratified because it was Science! talk and we liked to hear the Authorities talk about Science. The geologist says he doesn’t know what the rock is, and the kindly but slightly depressed local newspaperman (Les Tremayne) says you probably skipped school that day. Anyway, who cares, it’s a rock. It’s not like anything ever happens in this town.
And we probably laughed: oh, he doesn’t know how wrong he is! It’s a movie with MONSTERS in the title. Brother, things are going to happen. Once the Monolith Monsters - whatever they are start moving around, they’ll go to San Francisco or Los Angeles and wreck stuff! Get ready to see that City Hall tower snapped off!
But no. What happens doesn’t fit the template. A window blows open. Water gets on the rock. The next day the geologist is found . . . like this.
Solid rock. He topples over and we don’t see him break, but the movie cuts right to a carload of happy screaming kids - a nice, effective, and inexpensive touch, and a hint you're dealing with some folks who know their craft.
Well, soon we see a small child has picked up one of the rocks. Fifteen minutes into the movie, and all we really have is this.
But there’s the matter of the geologist who was turned into a solid mass. Could it be related to the several hundred pounds of rock that appeared in the geologist’s office? If so, aren’t we lucky that the teacher who took the screaming kids to the desert remembers that one of the kids picked up a rock JUST LIKE THE ONE that appears to be tangentially related to the case of the geologist who turned into a solid over night? Better drive out to their farm.
At this point you realize that this is a monster movie like no others. No giant lizards or bugs, no atomic-mutated wombat, no 50-foot-man, no flying saucers - just rocks, aided by a score that seems much more worried about things than the participants.
Perhaps it was the gradual foreboding that made us fall silent after a while; perhaps it was that nervous anticipation of waiting for the monster’s first reveal. Perhaps it was something you could only intuit: this was made by reasonably talented people who, for whatever reason, were taking it seriously, and didn’t overplay a thing.
You’re rewarded for letting them build the case for the movie with slow, steady, confidence intelligence. Because MONSTERS. And they’re . . . not monsters are all.
Rocks. Tall, multiplying, non-conscious, unstoppable rocks. The moment you see them crash, shatter, then grow anew from the shards, you think: that’s new. Never saw that in any other movie. Never imagined it. Horrifying? No. But if you’re 13, you’re in awe because it’s so damned cool. The worst thing that can happen is rain.
But how long will it rain? I’ve uploaded a little scene that provides a bit of comic relief: William Schallert spiels out some mumbo-jumbo and manages to create a character with just a few moments on screen. The reason I like this movie comes right at the end.
The pills. There’s no reason for that. But it’s just the right touch.
Anyway. The town must be evacuated, of course. But how to alert everyone?
PAPERBOYS. Of course. Print the quit-notice and send out the boys on bikes with bags. You might think that some more capable form of Civil Defense might be called in at this point, but the movie has narrowed the action so completely you don’t mind. It’s our plucky band - which includes the painfully thoughtful Grant Williams, who made “The Incredible Shrinking Man” something of an existential tale - that has to figure out how to save the day. Better hurry, because the boys in the matte-shot department have cooked up some top-shelf disaster:
It’s only an hour and seventeen minutes, and features very little in the way of Monolith Monsters, but it left an impression so deep I would have sworn they showed up in the first fifteen minutes and crashed their way through a two-hour film. Because it’s a pretty good little B sci-fi movie.
And because I was 13, and it was summer.
Meteor Borne! Meteor Strange! Thrill crowds upon thrill!
(PS Yes, I've done this one before, years ago. I'm redoing all the old sci-fi ones, if they need it.)
Work blog around 12:30, Tumblr around noonish or so - see you then!