Saturday was my birthday. Some years that feels like this:

But not this time. It was a good day; began with bacon, and the sight of the poor beseeching dog. Oh please. Please. But we’re not going to have a begging dog who whines and barks at dinnertime. Which is why, a few hours later, I was at Target with daughter, looking at the Wet Mix-In to simulate the bacon experience.That’s the thing about dog ownership: you'd never consider combinations of words like “Wet Mex-Ins” until you have a pet, let along know what it means, but there you are and it makes perfect sense.

There was Porterhouse Steak Flavor. Filet Mignon flavor. Ribeye flavor. C’mon. Don’t tell me that a dog is so discriminating about Steak Flavor that he’d prefer one over the other. Do humans test them out, purse their lips, stare at the ceiling, and point to DISH X and say “that one. That’s the filet mignon.” C’mon. It’s all about you, the owner, and how you regard your beast. If they are your Fur Child then perhaps, yes, it’s “Grandma’s Sunday Stew” with chunks of things in an exquisitely designed can that flatters your own sensibilities. Say there, consumer - doesn't this typeface make you feel glad you're the sort of person who finds whimsical things on etsy? If you regard the dog as a dog, then Wet Flesh (Bovine scent & taste) is sufficient.

We were at Target because we had to get dog food. Scout got into the food the other day and ate a gargantuan amount; when wife discovered him he was sitting by the larder, looking somewhat distressed. Well that was a lot. Very much a lot of a lot. Darn. Still, hooray. After Target we went to Petco for a puppy play session; six or seven dogs in a small area yelling at each other and sniffing those gloriously informative rears and fighting as if their lives depended upon it. A small dog with lots of moxie went after all the larger dogs, nipping and dashing away and acting as if he could take any man in the house; Scout got him in a corner and sat on him. A cute Husky puppy showed up and everyone puddled with puppy adoration until it became apparently he was a mean little SOB who bared his teeth at every dog and erupted in a flurry of snapping incisors and claws. All the other dogs sized him up fast: psycho.

Wife bought another chewing toy for Scout, who ignored it because he had a long paper pole to eat:

From there we went to Menard's, the enormous hardware store, to get a sprinkler - there's a story that will conclude tomorrow at ruinous expense. They had no sprinklers. They did, however, have Lay's Cappuccino flavored potato chips. Somewhere a grocery store is looking at a pile of lawn irrigation equipment and wondering how the world got so out of whack.

The chips were confusing, at first. Sweet instead of salty. A hint of coffee and cinnamon and vanilla, to name three things not previously associated with potato chips AND FOR GOOD REASON. As I tweeted later, if you gave them to someone without describing them, then said "That's sugar-dusted ashtray flavor" they might agree. Horrible.

Wife tried them: loved them. And thus does the market prove its ability to satisfy everyone eventually.

For dinner we went to a local place, one of the 14,937 local places that have appeared in the city over the last few years, most of which are friendly and interesting and have one or two details that sets them apart from the others. In this case it’s a magnificent 1940s bar, and skeeball in the back. Now. Daughter and I used to play skeeball at Chuck E. Cheese’s, and had famous success until they redid the machines, and then no one won anymore. I still remember standing by the machine with my little bowl-cut butterball, watching the endless tickets come out of the machine because I’d hit the high score. And now here I am with Teen (TM) and we’re playing a machine from the 1940s and not doing too bad and it’s the best birthday ever.

Earlier we went to the antique store, which decided it was going to go into House of Horrors mode. I mean. Gah.

This statue has always bothered me, and while I know the religious iconography is serious and sincere, it’s just so . . . explicit.

Which reminds me: one of the pastors from the church, the Really Cool Guy who slips me a cigar now and then, sent me a birthday greeting that said “HAPPY ate a precious gift from The Almighty....all the best”

I wrote back that it was delicious and I put some in the fridge for tomorrow.

Anyway: more statues, arrayed in front of a big painting of a church:

The usual mid-century vibe from the place wasn’t working in the back room; more like “scenes from a horror show where teens whose bus broke down come across a strange house filled with dead things:

There were many glass bottles full of dead bugs. Bait for fishing, I guess. Or they have a really disturbed new vendor.

She recovered and found some old-lady glasses with an incredibly strong correction.

That’s my girl. Like I said; best birthday ever. And now I’m going to go see if there's any cake left. Salted Caramel. It's delicious. Just don't make it into a potato chip.



Since I’m re-doing soft-spot sci-fi movies, I can’t let the summer pass without revisiting this one.

Regalscope, you suspect, was convened for this and no others. Oh, no, invaders from another world.

We expect a big streaky kaboom as it crashes on earth, or a sneaky landing in the desert, where men in silver suits walk out with ray guns and begin conquest of the Earth, or at least the Phoenix metropolitan area, or the ship hovers over the Washington Monument . . . none of that. From space we go to the desert, where a small ball of light leaps into the body of a guy whose truck goes dead. Thus possessed, the trucker goes to LABCENTRAL, one of those secret-science places that does special things with whirring machines, and the ball of light leaps out to take over the braaaain of the head of LABCENTRAL.

I mention this because the audience might think this a movie about a special effect that takes over people’s bodies, when it’s really about - well, wait.

Here’s the reason I love it: retro-computer geek extravaganza.

And it’s run by this guy. I think you know him.

Jane, help me out here

Susie, of course, is the computer.


Anyway, the eggheads discover the UFO, but they think it’s an asteroid, due to its speed and irregular trajectory. (?) Hence, an immediate effect on commuter fare prices:

There’s a TV broadcast to inform the public, and I always wonder if these were real broadcasters.

Yes. Robert Stevenson, from New York, or so I've learned from message boards. He seems to have fallen through the cracks on the Internet - no kids to put up a tribute page; no kinescopes; no air checks. Nothing.

Anyway, not to worry:

But our intrepid scientists want to see where it went, so they fly to the site - they’re helicopter pilots in addition to computer jockeys and astronomers, which is why this movie is awesome - and take some time out for beach nookie with the Smart Female Scientist who came along. This leads to the movie's greatest line of dialogue, if not the greatest 50s sci-fi dialogue line (Personal Emotions Division) ever:

Unfortunately, the possessed leader of LABCENTRAL, who had some sort of stroke and is in a hospital staring at the ceiling with terrified eyes, is connecting with the meteor / UFO, and the intercut between the be achy smooching and crazed possessed man reminds you that you’re glad you’re not seeing George Jetson making out with anyone.

We’re half an hour into the movie. It’s built up the characters nicely. There was some dread over the “asteroid,” but it passed, and we got to see stock footage of military outfits getting ready to blow up the meteor. We got a little romance. But the sea boils and a dome emerges in the roiling water, and we’re going to see the KRONOS or whatever now, right?

No. The genius of these movies consists in withholding the Monster as long as possible. The initial shock has to carry you through the rest of the film. The blasted face of the Colossal Man. The giant ant in “Them.” The, er, deadly rocks of “Monolith Monsters.” Whatever it is, it has to rock you back in your seat, make you want to see it again, and dole it out just enough to keep the movie going. So, at 38:00 into Kronos, we see . . .


I submit that this is the moment that split the audience right down the middle. The ones who came expecting a Creature were confused, dismayed, disappointed. The ones who had been geek ing out on the computers and science and technobabble were electrified, because this was like nothing else. This was a cold alien thing, unknowable, huge, impassive and indifferent.

It wants electricity. Okay, well, it’s odd that a civilization capable of interstellar flight needs juice, but it’s an excuse for huge scenes of mayhem on models of power facilities. Then it walks around on pistoning shafts that crush everything. Excellent.

Naturally, it has to be nuked. The press continues to treat matters as delicately as possible, to avoid panic and alarm:


Note that the Bond market is holding steady, and the Mayor continues to outline his new project, so it's not all that bad. But Science comes to the rescue, as you know it would.


Work blog around 12:30, Tumblr around noonish or so - see you then!


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