Got the flu shot today, and whatever hardy-har I can spin from that I put in Sunday’s column. I was surprised to find I had to fill out a form. On paper. With a pen. The Target Minute Clinic used to have touchscreens.

“Computer down?” I asked, glancing back at the alcove where the screen is. Or was: just an empty bracket. “Oh, it’s gone.”

“We switched to iPads!” said the cheerful receptionist. “But they’re not working.”

I sat in the waiting room, the entirely of Target reduced down to this small space. I wasn’t here for dog food and milk and Paul Newman Sockarooni Pasta sauce, but to have my flesh pierced with a sharp object to forestall disease. Some people hate shots. When I was a kid I dreaded them as the worst things ever, but back then needles were as thick as dandelion stems and dipped in lemon juice and went down until they hit bone, or so it seemed. The nurse had a little box that took your mind off the imminent jabbing: she asked you to tell her when the light changed from red to green, and you knew this was a ruse to distract you. Will the shot take place before the light changes, so the changing of the light is a stimulus that takes your mind off the shot for a second? If so, change, O light, change! But what if the light changes after the shot to take your mind off what just happened? Such dread.

Now you just loosen your shirt and present bare flesh to a stranger. “Relax your muscles,” she said. Sorry; I’m a guy; must flex. You will judge me as poor breeding stock if I slacken. Jab one: pneumonia vaccine. Painless. Glad I got it; this will discourage the usual paranoia about a cold turning into the pneu-monny, which I got back in Ought Two and still recall with shuddering dread. Shaking with chills, 104 fever, nightmare dreams, soaked sheets. The shot inoculated me against hypochrondriacal fears, so that’s good. As she prepared the second poke I was tempted to get out my phone and check Twitter to distract myself, thinking: it’s the modern version of the red-green light box, and also thinking: I thought that the last time, too. Childhood is the maypole around which you dance the rest of your life, and you’re surprised to find you grasp the streamers as tightly as you did so many years ago.

The second shot was a bit more . . . piquant, and long. Not as long as the gum-shot I took to anesthetize my head for molar removal; that one, I swear, made Dr. Zhivago look like a “coming attractions” preview, and actually paused for an intermission complete with orchestral accompaniment. When it was done I thanked the nurse and said “Now I have to get a haircut,” as if I was on some personal mission to tidy up all the things that needed doing.

Which, this week, I am. Yesterday while daughter was at choir practice I went to Southdale and bought a belt and a wallet. Haven’t bought a belt in six, seven years. Apparently we’re in the square buckle age now. Everything looked late 70s. The wallets were all too thick; bought the thinnest one possible. It didn't have space for photographs.

People used to carry around pictures of loved ones in their wallets, perhaps to take them out and run their fingers over the images while tearing up because they were trapped in a mine. I don’t ever remember looking at the pictures I carried around, or having anyone else show me the pictures they carried around. But now that we have rectangular computational miracles in our pockets we have dozens of photos, and share them all the time. Wallets, in a sense, are the land-lines of back-pocket inhabitants. I’m annoyed when I have to use cash. In a few years I’ll be annoyed when I have to use a card.

At the Target check-in I gave the receptionist my insurance ID, and she photocopied it to enter later, because the System was Down. Reminded me that there really is something to say for cash in the wallet and a picture in the plastic sleeve. No one trapped in a mine looking at a picture of a loved one ever saw the message 10% BATTERY REMAINING (DISMISS)

Since I don’t anticipate a late-career shift to subterranean extraction, I’m okay with having the pictures on my phone. As long as there’s local storage. I don’t trust the cloud. Of course, local storage fails. If only there was something in-between that could never fail.

I’d say “pictures in an album of family voyages,” but the dog ate one of those last month. He either barfed up a scrap of Estonia or excreted it. I wasn’t paying strict attention.


The Friday updates, as we watch things grow. First, the Downtown East project continues to rise, which is a thuddingly obvious cliche - I mean, what’s the option? Delivering the building intact and taking it apart?

It’s starting to get some bulk. Six stories up by the end of the week. Lower floors are poured, beams have been sprayed with what I assume is a fire-suppressing chemical. Remember: there's another one just like it rising across the street, albeit a month and a half behind. When the second site is as big as this, it'll truly feel like a new neighborhood - and for those of us who've been working on the outskirts of downtown for years, it really feels extraordinary to see downtown come to us.

Pupdate: as if he wasn’t hard enough to shoot, he vanishes when backlit - but you can detect the eternal vigilance of the dog who is making sure a walk is in the cards.


The sentinel.

The wistful companion remembering times gone by. Like two minutes ago, when he thought he heard the food-drawer opening. Sweet, sweet memories.

Concerning the ongoing Pumkinification of Everything:

Oh no, the Pointy Hat of Necromancy! If you start to google "Why do witches" it autocompletes with "wear pointy hats," because you're not the first to ponder the choice of headgear. Seems unwise for flying; a cap with a small brim would be better. This long article considers the sources, and comes up with a shrug: no one really knows, but thanks to Margaret Hamilton it's the go-to look for your airborne-crone cohort.

Note the absence of anything that suggests the Holes have a seasonal flavor.



As usual for Friday, the Music Cues, with more Gunsmoke. This means I've been listening to a lot of Gunsmoke, which is best taken in weekly doses. Don't get me wrong: it's a tremendous show. But if you listen to it every day it means you note the frequency with which Matt Dillon killed someone. Now, they were all bad. They drew first. And Dillon hated doing it. (There's a tremendous episode in which he's so sickened by his job he quits, and goes fishing with Kitty; fine, fine radio.) You also note how there are three Western Voices - the young ornery kid, the slow-talkin' outlaw grinning with contempt and malice, and the flinty but basso voice of an intelligent man who may or may not a good guy.

CND Cue #483 This is the end of a longer piece, and I know these things so well I can tell which one even though the clues are scant. Wish I could find it and prove it, but I’m not going to go through 480 cues.

CND Cue #484 This one always seems like it's about to end, but it can't work up the courage.

CND Cue #485 Wonder who the horn player was, and whether he ever heard his contribution through the metal grill of a car AM radio.

Now, cues from the latter seasons of Gunsmoke, when a larger orchestra was employed to add scope and scale. About 85% of all cues that lead into a scene bleed into boots walking on the boardwalk, or laughter in the bars. Sometimes horses.

Gunsmoke Cue #13 Now and then the soundtrack would hint at other old West tunes and make them new. In this case, it's "The Coronor's Inquest for O. Susanna."

Gunsmoke Cue #14 Main theme restated. I love the little harp-pluck at the end. Just the right chord to reassure us Matt might be okay.

Gunsmoke Cue #15 Another old-West theme turned evil - I think. Can't quite place it.

Gunsmoke Cue #16 That scene just concluded was DRAMATIC! Here's a cue to REMIND YOU!

Gunsmoke Cue #17 Now let's give the main theme to the loneliest oboe in town.

Gunsmoke Cue #18 O Susanna requoted and redeemed.


Cool weather is soup weather. And so:

A bright & sprightly new tune.

Work blog around 12:30, maybe - ten tons of work tomorrow. Tumblr around noonish or so - see you then!


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