“Mom said she was going to work out and then was going to take the dog to the park and then take him to the vet because he stinks.”

This was the response to “where’s Mom” on Saturday morning. She was off on her busy day before I woke. I regard the weekend as a time to sleep in a bit; she gets up when the sun pushes through the gauzy blinds, because the broad expanse of Saturday awaits: THINGS TO DO. I wake, and consider which innovations I will apply to breakfast. I actually stay in bed and consider Cheese. Or rather which cheese. Over the months I have perfected the Saturday breakfast - scrambled eggs with pepper jack, mild chilis, diced sausages, tomatillo salsa, a wedge of hashed browns, and a banana-bread English Muffin lightly smeared with peanut butter and honey. That will hold me until the sun goes down.

“The vet?”


I think: I hope she mentions the ears. I noticed the other day that Scout was shaking his head and flopping his floppy ears as if troubled by something. The stink, well, that troubled the rest of us. Figured it was an impacted butt gland that needed to be . . . expressed, to use the wonderful word. It comes to mind often when I hear people say they need to express themselves, or favor freedom of expression. Well, as it turned out, the doc needed draining, and his ears had a minor infection. So when they returned from the vet we were presented with two duties: squirt cold medicine down his ear, s and swab his butt with salve. TWICE A DAY.

Scout is now big enough that he’s as tall as anyone in the house when he’s up on his back legs, and if you want to know how to make a dog prove that he’s your equal in height, drive salving his hind-port with medicine. Coupled with the ear drops, he had it coming and going. Wife noted that since it’s a two-person job - one to restrain, one to apply - daughter and I should do this, because she’s up and out earlier.

So Monday I will lay in bed and consider breakfast: Raisin Bran. A small divot of sausage with Sriracha sauce. Two ounces of orange juice.

Dog-butt cream application.

It is the duty of a man to sit on a bench in an decommissioned school and examine his Twitter feed while music trickles from the piano lesson down the hall. That doesn’t mean I had to do it for the entire 45 minutes, though. So I walked around the halls making ominous hyperlapses.

There was an adult education class in progress in the main lobby; Google for Education, it said. All guys. There are innumerable courses in this building, including one on how to take photos with your iPhone or iPad. I imagine the second part of the course consists of “dont. Just don’t." Many of the old classrooms have been turned into exercise rooms; you can only imagine a kid sitting in his senior class in 1961 getting a sudden flash of the future 50 years on, and it’s all middle-aged women in leotards jumping up and down.

There’s a few bathrooms that haven’t been changed since 1960, and I find these places fascinating. The original details, untouched.

Something unnerving about that, like the snout of a robot mole. The Space-Age ceramic tiles on the wall to ensure maximum reverberation if anyone has unfortunate detonations in the stalls. The same floor-to-sternum urinals, with one decommissioned:

It’s like a headstone. Or perhaps it was a portal to hell, and they had to block it up. That would explain why the school’s no longer used.

Afterwards we went to Barnes and Noble, because Daughter had a gift card and wanted to buy a pen to use in her Moleskin. She has the same love of notebooks that I have, except she actually uses them. I bought one Moleskin and used it to write my experience while being sequestered for days waiting for jury duty. The book was so perfect I hated to write anything. I used a fine-point Sharpie. Winced when I made an error. Eventually I had to put it away because I had told a complete story in the first few pages, with neat handwriting and some souvenirs tucked in the back pocket; what was I going to use the rest of the book for, shopping lists? Things to do?

Daughter draws, so she needs sketchbooks, and I give her the extra Field Notes for scribblings and private teen projects. When I was her age I wrote down these thoughts in miniature Big Indian pads, 10 cents, five colors. I threw them out a few years ago. (Sharp intake of breath among some in the audience; how could you? Because I had nothing to say and no good way to say it, and while they were indeed Proto-Diaries, just having them wore me down, knowing someone would have to throw them away some day. Happy to make it easier down the line.)

(For that matter, this should be the year I scan all my old diaries from college and throw out most of them. I wince when I read them, for every possible reason. The writing. The concerns. The politics. The well-ordered and endless parade of delusions. How you can lie to yourself in your own diaries is a subject for study; surely I’m not the only one. This is what I should feel, therefore I’m going to say I feel it. As opposed to “I couldn’t be more bored with my girlfriend, and if I’d had any sense I would have cut the cord when such a move would take no more than a grade-school safety scissors. Now it will take a bolt cutter.” But you hang on because it was fun for a while, and she was more striking than any other woman you’d met and smart and quirky, and you met the parents, too. You had dinner at their house. Twice. And then a certain dead nothingness set in, at which point you wish a loud bell would go off signaling the end of the bout. ) Just about everything I wrote before 1978 is garbage, prior to my first piece in the Minnesota Daily: “Know Thyself, S, M, L.” It was about slogans on T-shirts, and it started me on the path that brought me here.

It’s in the basement somewhere. In a box I carried from place to place for years until we got here.

Daughter will have better things to keep.

Anyway, they didn’t have the right pen. So we walked to Target. Here you may reel back in surprise and horror - those words, together in such a peculiar marriage. “Walk” and “Target.” Please explain. Well, the city has been trying to make its car-choked byways more pedestrian friendly, and introduced a few ideas that had a few locals griping. Like roundabouts. I like them, because traffic flows rather than starting and stopping, and they're single-lane. Beyond single-lane roundabouts you get confusion and terror.

Some don’t like them because they think the city planners want the expanse of the 'burbs to be more like inner Amsterdam, with roundabouts and bike paths and trolleys and the rest, but A) that’s impossible, and B) more and more people are living in the area, and there’s nothing wrong with a pedestrian path that winds through the strip malls. In fact it’s a good idea, especially in the summertime.

So we walked from the Galleria to Target, something that would previously be unwise due to murderous intersections where the WALK light lasts for three seconds.

I’d been at Target on Wednesday night, as is now my wont, and ran into Dale the Indispensable, who motored over to chat. He’s always there. He said he was surprised to see me on Wednesday. I said I’d changed my ways. No more Saturdays.

“You’ll be back,” he said.

We walk into Target and there’s Dale.

“I said you’d be back,” he said.

“Ahh, shut up.”

We found three pastel-hued Moleskins, and she regretted every previous Moleskin purchase, because now there were these and they were so lovely. I tossed them in the basket, because they said Spring, and because it was six below, and because we were out on a Saturday afternoon doing things. And because she didn’t ask for them. She’s never begged.

When she figured out that was the best way to get things, I’ve no idea.




Let's admire the typography of . . .

This is the modern house where milady lives.

She can't answer the door, because she's dealing with a repairman. Behold, proto-technobabble:

You could say the same thing about the acting. Here's the control panel the man has come to adjust:

They control her robot.

He is helpful. He answers the door, brings in the box, extends a knife to cut the ribbon, and notes that the flowers look a bit wilted.


As we soon learn, Rollo is just a dream, leading the audience to wonder what the hell is the point here. Well, it's this: milady may not have a slow-moving enormous creepy-voiced robot taking up an inordinate amount of space, but she does have a house full of little robots. Can you spot them all?

The toaster, the coffee-pot, the stove, the tea kettle - each in their own way is a robot. Or robut, as the announcer prefers to pronounce the world. The rest of the movie is a rather staid description of robuts everywhere, most of which seem to be electric eyes. But there's this:

An automatic pet feeder that opens when the timer goes off, so you can feed Fido while you're out. And there's this:

I clipped that for two reasons: the spare industrial beauty, and the SPERRY name. They were into gyros for decades before this, but after this film was made they'd buy Remington Rand - and make the UNIVAC, so it's a bit prescient to see them here. Sperry eventually turned into Unisys, which had a presence in town before it was sundered in the usual corporate convulsions.

The name survived, and now it's a Northrop subsidiary called Sperry Marine - which, get this, was assembled from Sperry, a company called C. Plath, and Decca. Decca? you ask. Any relation to . . . no, can't be. But yes: the record company. Or rather their radar division. I know, I know, it's bizarre, like a record company having an airline division.

Look at this enormous thing: a car radio.

I'll bet anything it's a Motorola. Which of course we know now for making phones.

The film ends with a visual representation of the man little Roll-Ohs who make our American life what it is today.

Who made it? Chevrolet ponied up, it seems, which may explain all the car promos near the end. Elementary googling says it was produced for the World's Fair of 1940, which was the same thing as the World's Fair of 1939 except with a few no-show nations. This means he competed with the Fair's other robot, Elektro.

Here's the whole thing, if you wish.

Next week: a movie or an industrial? You'll have to wait.

Yeah, I know. Suspense, killing you, etc.

And we're off on another week. More hotel matches await, and there's probably a workblog of sorts coming up around noon. Have a fine bright day.



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