It’s a column night, he said, wondering why he didn’t have that on a macro key. Probably because I don’t have macro keys. I used to. Little shortcuts that would drop snippets of HTML into whatever I was writing, but I reinstalled the operating system and didn’t reinstall the program. I feel manly and swaggeringly confident just writing the code by hand, the way it was meant to be done. Look ma, I’m programming!

Many things to discuss but the brain is gathering the column, and I hope there’s something there when I start to write. It’s never good when you start to write and think you have the matter in hand but there’s really nothing there; it’s like bellyflopping into wet cement. Spent Wednesday evening as usual, doing the errands, windows down and music blaring as I hit the highway. It’s practically summer. Everything smells like flowers and the trees are green and the lawns - what’s the word? All together now, lush.

I wonder how a word that meant “growing luxuriantly” became attached to being a chronic drunk, The dictionary suggests that the meaning of expansive and sprawling was used for wry effect, and I can see that for drunkenness, but not chronic inebriation. It went from “he’s behaving lushly” to “he is A lush,” which is different. It’s like saying “I worry about him. He’s an overgrown.”

Anyway. The errands went without incident, although the stop at Starbucks with daughter after choir was confusing. I buy the gift cards because, I am ashamed to say, I sort-of-kinda collect them. They’re interesting pieces of design, and I like how you plug the numbers into the app and the card appears, with the same design. So I bought a card and entered it into the app so I could get Points, good towards something I never order. The clerk rang up the drinks and the card while I was entering the numbers, which defeated the entire purpose of getting Points, or so we thought. So he voided it out - cheerfully! - and I paid with a different piece of plastic, then attempted to use the card I had just entered into the app. It was NOT REGISTERED, even though there it was, sitting on my phone with a $10 balance. Ah, to hell with it. I paid for the drinks with the card I’d just bought.

The balance on the app recalculated to reflect the purchase. I tried to transfer it to another card. The card was NOT REGISTERED.

At which point I thought back 60 years to a guy sliding a dime across a counter to pay for his joe, and not wondering whether phones or electronic brains should enter into the matter. But that’s when coffee was just coffee, not a lifestyle asset or class signifier or whatever academics call it because they have to produce a paper on something and there’s bugger-all to write about because someone already took Marxist perspectives on gender-based shampoo differentiation.

Okay, off to write.

UPDATE: done. Wet cement? More like a bubbling tub at the perfect temp. I got the line DAMN YOUR EYES YOU CRUSTACEAN HOOLIGANS into the piece, which pleases me greatly.

There’s a Mancunian at work I want to ask about this girl:


The things you can learn today because of the internet: BBC Test Card Music. Because they didn’t have commercials, and because shows had disparate lengths, they’d throw up a calibration card and play music. The card had a picture of that girl, frozen forever playing tic-tac-toe with a soulless doll. She stared out for years, I gather. Well, some notes on a Yahoo group or some website haunted by people who share my interest in Library Music - plus an email on the subject AND a tweet - finally made me search for BBC Test Card music, and lo, YouTube delivers. The stuff from the 80s and 90s is a bit too late-period whacka-chicka for my tastes; end-of-the-century easy-listening is really a depleted genre. But the 60s stuff was written by the greats of the medium, if you can call them that - and I will. For years I’ve only had the finest pieces from the TV Dinners collection, but now I have a few more precious examples, like this. Same composers.

I love this stuff for what it is: background music that rewards a slightly closer look, and sums up the commercial tone of an era. Mind you, I don’t want to go there to stay. I’d love to take a vacation in the 60s, but I would check my passport and ticket every night when I got back to the hotel. You don’t want to end up a modern man sick with flu, inexplicably stuck in the 70s, trying to figure out whether it’s all a fever dream or a persistent condition. Like, for example, the protagonist in “Life on Mars,” that BBC show about a cop who just finds himself in the early 70s for Reasons we expect will be explained.

From the opening of the second season:

That meant nothing to me when I first saw the show; now I understand.

BTW, someone did a doc on the girl in the picture; it's here.




Let's see what's going down in Pine Bluff. Well, the buildings give you the impression there was action here, once.

But the more you look the more you suspect the show has packed up and the auditorium is empty. This is not intended as a metaphor.

The good news: the sign says it's being restored.

It's a Kress, from the 40s. This wasn't the original design; they remade some stores into this simplified moderm look. It's gorgeous.

The same old grand hotel, pride of the town, local businessmen pitched in, opening ceremony attended by bankers from nearby towns, et cetera. The script's always the same.

If it hasn't been rehabbed for senior living, it will.

It's a sign of a formerly handsome street that you can tell this used to be nice. Then they split up the building on the left, and insulted the one on the right by grafting the front of a house on the facade.

The brickwork on the first floor suggests a 1920s or early 30s rehab. They were better at it then; it didn't seem to fight the rest of the building.

Although the building doesn't seem to have much fight left in it.

A story in the local paper said it closed in 1996.

Best Clothes in Town. This site - scroll down - has more on the building, and the unique windows Google Street view doesn't capture.

It looks like the Google car showed up just after a piece fell off the facade:

Unless it's just been sitting there for a long, long time. It revealed hints of a much more interesting facade - but not, it seems, to Owen.

Huzzah! Restored:

The late 50s / early 60s job next door is irritating: for heaven's sake, just do the whole thing and be done with it.

Finally: sigh, as we often say.

And here's why.


Saenger Theatre from Chris Cranford on Vimeo.

That'll do - see you around!


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