Nothing less interesting on a Monday morn than a Halloween recap, eh? Except:
First year I didn’t go down to the Haunted Triangle for chili and conversation. It was cold. Yes, that was it; cold. But it wasn’t that cold, and there was a fire. However: daughter had about 27 friends over, and they were going out to collect confections, and I had to manage the stream of trick-or-treaters and logistically assist the guests, and mind the dog, and . . . for some reason, I just didn’t want to go.
Wife went down for a quick stop to see if Daughter was down there, since that’s where the geolocating spy-app said she was. She wasn’t. Wife came back after a few minutes.
“I didn’t recognize anyone,” she said. Which seemed impossible. But so it was. Mostly people from up the street on the other block, which is another world entirely, I guess. A far cry from all the moms and dads milling around, peeling off to safeguard the children on their extortion tours.
But of course all of those kids are old enough now to go on their own.
How did that happen.
When daughter and cohort returned they spent two loud hours in the living room; one of their number - a lad, the sole representative of his gender in the party - played improvisational piano. It was the first true teen gathering at Jasperwood, a sprawling, loud, happy thing, and you know what that means: DAD PLEASE CAN YOU GO UPSTAIRS k thnx.
Around midnight I was outside and heard music from down the street, and looked down the hill, menfolk around the fire. I remembered the years past when I’d wander down after the trick-or-treaters had tapered off, when the party was reduced to the diehards around the fire, and you could pull up a chair and talk. I wondered if the event had passed me by, and there was something portentious about not going down this year, until I remembered: every year at the end of the night I never knew anyone, and they were all half in the bag. The only reason I went down was because I was picking up the chairs I’d brought earlier in the day.
Saturday was remarkable. And I say that knowing well how silly it seems to combine “remarkable” with “the postcard convention,” but really, it was quite the day. A great harvest at the tables. Fred, the vendor who used to have a stamp shop in the neighborhood, had come into possession of many motel postcards, and priced them sensibly at two for a dollar. I said hello and took a seat and started rifling through the cards. A young woman came up and asked if he had any religious cards, and he referred her to the box marked “religious.”
“Do you have any nuns?” she said. You don’t hear that asked often. Fred said he did not recall offhand if he had any nuns.
Another fellow was going through some cards and asked Fred if he had any dinosaurs. Fred said he might, in cartoons. They started talking about a series of Caveman cartoon postcards popular in the early years of the 20th century; they both knew the artist.
After a while I said “Do you have any dinosaurs dressed up as nuns.”
Fred said “Yes, I think I do.”
“Do you have them separated out by Order?”
“You’ll have to check.”
The dinosaur guy looked at me and said: “Are you fame - are you a writer?”
“I love the way you started to say famous but thought better of it,” I said.
We had a great chat about what we collected, and why; he was an archeologist, hence the old dinosaur interest. I was mentioning something about cruise ships, and a guy sounded off from down the table:
“Do you collect cruise ships?”
“No,” I said. “Well, not much. A few ships.”
“Oh. I do. And I heard you say cruise ships.”
A way of marking territory, perhaps. I AM ON A MISSION STAND BACK.
At another table I was chatting with the owner of the goods and the fellow next to me said: “so I hear you on Hugh Hewitt.” And we’re off talking about that, which is just great. Makes a fellow feel . . . fame.
Phone rings. I answer. It’s Frontier Airlines, wanting to know if I have a lost bag. I tell the person I do not. She asks if I am sure, because she has a note that I have a claim. I explain that I have a claim for the ticket I didn’t use because the plane broke, but no lost bags. Anyone else in my party lose a bag? Because that would never occur to me.
One last pass; I find a table of ephemera. Old labels. Must buy. Some matches: I ask the vendor how much. “Three bucks,” he says.
“Oh. It says fifty cents on the back.”
“That’s what I paid for them,” he said.
Okay then. Any other matches? As it happens, yeah, he has some pages. I look: all forties. “They’re from my dad’s collection,” he says, almost dismissively. “Ignore the price. We can dicker.”
And there’s the fate of my collection, right there.
Finally . . . something else. But that’s for later.
Get in the car, drive downtown. It’s the Homecoming for the newspaper, an open house for all the former employees before they knock the shop down. The parking lot is full. People are streaming slowly into the building, and I hear the end of “Night on Bald Mountain” where the damned spirits stream sadly into blackness again. Saw some folks I haven’t seen in years. Everyone assembled upstairs for speeches, and Sid got up to talk about the old owners, how they didn’t get the credit they deserved for all the things they did. He mentioned that the publisher sent an envoy to DC to lobby for funds to fix up Washington Avenue, aka bum alley, and how the reborn character of the street today was a result of his work.
I thought: it took forty years for the street to come back after urban renewal. Those DC funds flattened the Gateway and tore the old heart out of downtown. And my paper had a role in making it happen.
But. Well. It’s all coming back now, and I suppose from Sid’s perspective time looks different, the past looks different. A full-page ad in the paper today congratulated him on him on his Seventieth.
Not 70 years on earth. Seventy years at the paper.
As promised - or threatened, I can't recall - some more DC pictures. Because I can.
North of Dupont Circle. A view unchanged for many decades.
Not a review, but a look at old things, with a challenge: is there a connection to Star Trek? If we want to get really tricky, is there a connection to Star Trek AND Star Wars?
Welcome to New York, America's biggest, boldest, and most inadequately rendered city:
Here comes the printed filth of Gomorrah:
Dirt? A magazine called Dirt? What would such rags give the reader?
It’s a movie about a scandal sheet with diminishing sales, based on the idea that “the public has the brains of a halibut steak.”
Everyone seems vaguely familiar, if you watched enough B&W B movies and TV. For example:
Her imdb bio:
Denver-born supporting actress Irene Tedrow is another in a long line of "I know the face...but not the name" character actors whose six-decade career was known more for its durability than for the greatness of roles she played.
Then there’s Effie:
Lurene Tuttle. She was Sam Spade’s secretary on radio, and also the Great Gildersleeve’s niece, a character who was two decades younger. Howard Duff said “I think she never met a part she didn't like. She just loved to work; she loved to act. She's a woman who was born to do what she was doing and loved every minute of it.” And she had a daughter, who married a musician, had three kids, and died young of a cerebral hemorrhage. The surviving husband has done okay for himself. So there's the Star Wars connection.
Again, either Perry Mason or a million early 60s sitcoms and TV shows:
Malcolm Atterbury, who went into acting as a way of escaping the depredations and back-breaking labor of his family business. (Dad was the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad.)
No, he wasn't the bartender in "The Trouble with Tribbles." Yes, I checked.
You recognize the guy on the left, don't you?
The guy on the right is the publisher, played by Steve Cochrane; mostly forgotten today, he had a nasty charisma. The guy on the left is . . . I forget. (Philip Coolidge.) But you get the idea: it's a movie whose supporting cast is everyone who appeared on Perry Mason.
Get me Phil Silvers! What, he’s not available? Get me the guy who played his stunt double in the movie where he went on a diet.
Our hero, Van Johnson, wants a decent, wholesome job working for a cereal company. The movie continues the long tradition of never, ever getting fake products quite right:
The scandal rag, facing a financial shortfall, needs someone spotless and well-respected to ruin, so they go after a children’s puppeteer. His show is practically Woody’s Round-up:
The show's a hit! His wife is the gorgeous Ann Blyth, and we get the Star Trek Actor out of the way 18:00 into the movie. Bela Oxmyx, of course.
Anyway, it takes about 36 hours after the puppet-show's premierfor the magazine to dig up the dirt:
Photoshop, the early years. That's the early proof they show the wife, so she can spend of the rest movie not smiling. Surely they won't go through with the dastardly plan, will they?
The only question is how far the publisher will go, and how the maligned man will get his comeuppance. Because the publisher obviously has to die. And the good maligned guy can’t do it.
How will the writer kill the bad guy? You can FF to the last 15 minutes if you like. Or highlight the text below for a spoiler.
The puppeteer's son is killed when he is taunted by school chums and runs into traffic to escape. The Puppeteer makes an appeal on TV for people to stop buying gossip rags, because they ruin lives, and he blames the publisher by name for his son's death. The publisher thinks this will sell even more copies, and tells his staff to prepare for another sensational issue. The publisher's mother, who is rich and something of a drinker, overhears this, and she is very disappointed with her son. SO SHE SHOOTS HIM.
Yeah. Well. At least the movie ends with Bela Oxmyx telling the Puppeteer and his wife that people all over the country are starting to buy such magazines less frequently. Apparently such data was available hours after a live TV appeal.
Usual usual here and there; Tumblr and work blog start up again today. see you around.