Sunday, the dog park:

Keep in mind that this is in the city. It's an area around the airport kept feral for expansion or security. Turn around and you see offices; drive a few block and there are houses, although the neighborhood seems sad and wary.

There are no dogs in the picture because they'd all run past, including Scout with muddy paws, and a new friend of his who jumped on me and put mud on my fresh jeans and mud on the sneakers I'd just washed. The laces were white for about 47 minutes. But dogs know not and care not. Dirt is great. Mud is awesome. Filth is fascinating. It's a generous world, sometimes.


Dude rolls into the Great Clips while I’m having my mane shaved. He’s rubbing his chin with thumb and forefinger, because he has seen videos in which this indicates craftiness, intrigue, and a fascinating personality. I don’t hear what he says to the manager but I hear the manager’s reply.

“Sorry, we don’t have public bathrooms.”

The dude nods and accepts this: it’s cool. He just wanted to check his cap. It’s not feeling right. Can he look in a mirror?

The manager holds up a hand-held mirror. The dude fonzies a bit at the sight of his reflection and it seems all is well in the cap department.

“Do you know Barry Fitz?” he asks.

“I don’t know Barry Fitz,” the manager says. Dude nods and rolls out with the same lupine gait that took him into the store.

For the next few minutes we all parsed the particulars of the interchange. The stylist and the manager are wondering why, exactly, anyone should be expected to know who Barry Fitz is, as if his name is some open-sesame in the world of franchised hair salons. I’m fascinated by the way it all unfolded:

I need to pass bodily waste. Can I do that here?

No? Okay. I need to check my outward appearance. Can you help?

Great. Do you know some guy whose name sounds like an actor in a Bing Crosby movie about a fightin’ Bowery priest? No? Then I’ll be off.

I am of the opinion that the fellow was looking for something else. An implement to pocket, perhaps. Given his close-cropped head, it was unlikely he was seeking to boost some Product, as the stylists call it. I do know that the next time I make an appointment I will go under the name Barry Fitz, and ask if there was anyone around asking for me.

Sitting outside late at night having fine bourbon with my wife, who is also enjoying fine bourbon. We are planning the daughter’s college career. She’s at a sleepover, so so can’t argue; I just send her texts about how we’re determining her future existence down to the letter. Talk wanders to technology and Kids These Days, and Wife mention an app she heard about from the women at the monthly Bunco meeting. (This month they abandoned all pretense and never even got around to playing.) She couldn’t remember the name, but it was something that let you chat with people in your neighborhood about local issues, garage sales, that sort of thing. A great idea! What was the name?

While she was talking I googled neighborhood chat app, got the name, downloaded it, and then said “I’m signing up for it now.” Many questions about my interests were asked. Many questions about my emotional reactions ot my neighborhood were asked. I’m sure I’m now embedded in a silent impassive database that has my name paired with the terms LANDSCAPING, CREEK, CONVENIENT. I entered her data as well, after asking permission, of course.

Scrolled through the messages for the neighborhood. Lots of locals are already on it; I’m late to the party. Someone wants bricks. Someone wants a certain kind of baking pan. NINETY-SEVEN PEOPLE WANT TO SELL A NORDIC TRACK. Well, no, but lots of exercise stuff for sale. After a while you just give up. I had to stop using the Nordic Track because it damaged a nerve in my leg. My right quad goes numb if I put my weight on it for a protracted period of time. This would seem to be the opposite outcome one wants from an exercise machine, no? It’s not as if I did anything wrong; it’s not as if I didn’t use the item exactly as I was supposed to use it. It’s like buying a Nautilus home gym and finding fine print that says “may cause severing of neck muscles, leading to head wobbling.”

Here’s the thing: I have no idea what happened to the Nordic Track. We used to have it. Now we don’t. We have a treadmill, but no Nordic Track. It’s possible we gave it to someone, but we don’t know anyone who has one. It just vanished. In a way, this is ideal; a periodic Rapture of the Exercise Machines would relieve you of the self-recrimination the objects produce when you realize they have become nothing more than apparatuses for drying freshly-laundered sweaters.

Anyway. While we were talking my wife’s iPad bonged; new mail. All about the app. My phone started beeping; new mail. All about the app. Invites! Meet friends! Share concerns! DISPOSE OF UNWANTED BAKING PANS

And I think: I’ve managed to add another batch of Bother and Nag to my life. Not responding to a welcoming note from someone in the neighborhood I don’t know could be seen as anti-social. Huh: he said nothing. Why’d he sign up?

I DON’T KNOW! WE WERE JUST sitting outside talking and now I’m somehow obligated to Connect with people in my Circles and express my sincere hopes that they unload that Baby Saucer on someone? Gah: back out, back out, delete delete.

Then I think, no, stay with it. These are the early days. A nascent means of encouraging the tendrils of neighborliness that thread through the houses I pass when I walk the dog. Stay with it.

There’s a column in this. Then delete it.

Notes on the ongoing Pumpkinification of Everything:

Finally, someone who seems a bit dismayed by how far this has gone. His expression suggests that the pumpkinification was done against his will, and he has naught to look forward to but disembowelment, rot, and dismantlement by squirrels.

Hey, look! New ad art. Full of cliches. It was a pleasent surprise to see that when I called up the page tonight; I laid this one out two weeks ago and forgot all about it.



In the annals of bad horror movies, this one has a special place in people’s hearts. For reasons you’ll soon see.

Bubbling tubes mean Science! The X means Bad Science! The score means horrible bad science aimed at discovering secrets that mankind was never meant to know! It’s remarkable that the movie is only a few years away from “Frankenstein” - it feels like a different era, more the 40s than the 30s. But 1939 was leaning hard into the Forties, as if it couldn’t wait to get them over.

An intrepid reporter who thinks and acts and speaks as if he’s in a mildly madcap screwball comedy sees a note for an upcoming concert. I reproduce the ad just for font enthusiasts, or anyone who wants to reproduce the look of the late 30s. You’re welcome:

She’s glamorous in that strange European way that wouldn’t pass today. She looks like Merle Oberon with mumps. As she chats on the phone, her monkey notices that she’s about to be killed:

Long story short, reporter discovers dead body, then body disappears, then reporter’s doctor friend appears so we can meet all the people who make the rest of the movie possible. There’s the doctor friend’s friend, a doctor:

Now he could be good, in that clinical European way, or evil. The monocle suggests the latter. The deal, however, is cinched when we meet his assistant:

Yeah. Well. Here’s looking away from you in disgust, kid. Worst role he ever had. Story has it he went to the studio head and said he'd be getting a raise from now on for everything he ever did because they made him do this thing.

The formerly dead actress reappears, alive and walking around, if a bit cold to the touch. Let’s just say she’s not looking in the pink of things:

Of course Doctor X has been draining blood from people for nefarious experiments. Also to keep himself up ’n’ running, since he was electrocuted a few months back for experimenting on children. Nice touch in case anyone wondered whether he was going to get a pathos angle.


Some nice storefront work for 1939:

The term "undertaker" always means "guy who plants the stiffs," but consider what a euphemism it is. You undertake a task, right? Basically, it means "the guy who does the job."

The actress re-dies, and the obit has something I wanted to research:

Is there a Grand Cordon of the Yugoslav Order of St. Sava? There is. Civilians got it for good works. It was dropped when the monarchy was abolished in 1945, but the Serbian Orthodoz Church has been awarding it since 1945.

Recipients include Helen Keller and Vladimir Putin. And Vidkun Quisling.

And Karl Malden.

So it's a mixed bag.

As is common with ghouls and reanimated people, Dr. Xstarts affecting 19th century garb in case he has to fill in for the Phantom of the Opera:

As is also common to his type, he is contemptuous of those who do not understand SCIENCE.

Turns out Doctor Monocle was sort-of good; he wanted to bring people back to life and invent artificial blood, and you can’t fault him for that. His work has mostly been with bunnies, and this leads to the inevitable Scientific Procedure with lots of electrical buzzing and tense staring. It’s a bit of a come-down from “Frankenstein,” since we’re talking bunnies here - and if you recall from a few months back, the same thing was done in the Captain America sequel.

Doctor X kidnaps the sole female supporting actress because she has Blood Type 4, and drives her to a shack where he will perform his horrible experiments. The good guys are in hot pursuit. Because it’s Bogey, though, and he was known for bad ruthless guys, there has to be a shoot-out, and Doctor X, whose lab was located in a farm, buys the same:

Interesting headline at the end: no mention of the fact that this is the guy who was electrocuted to death and buried. That would seem to be your lead item.

Oh, about the burial: he was disinterred, of course, and the caretaker?

Mr. Atoz, once again.



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