Went to Target Friday night with Daughter, who wanted T-shirts. White. Many. We would print off her designs and imprint them with an iron. This never ends well, because it works with one kind of design, and that is a black square. Everything else is a disappointment. But you can't say no, and there's always the chance they could turn out great! so off we went. Also, you can't say no to your kid wanting to to go Target in the evening and kick around, because every one of these moments has to be seized upon and enjoyed as a gift. Earlier that evening I'd been waiting for a pizza, and a dad & little tiny girl came into the store - the little girl said "A chair! Daddy, I'm going to sit here." And she did. She swung her legs and said "Daddy!" with delight, just a happy kid, loving being with her dad. He seemed a bit harried, and I wanted to stand up and howl like Jacob Marley and say THIS SHALL NOT HAPPEN AGAAAAAIIINNNNN to warn him of the perishability of such moments, but it probably will, so maybe I should howl THIS HAPPEN AGAAAAIIN WITH MORE OR LESSSS THE SAME CHARRRRRACTER OR QUAAAAALITY but that's not as impressive.

He got the pizza and told her to run to the car because she didn't have her jacket on. It was raining and a bit cool. She didn't have her jacket on because she'd said she didn't want to put it on, of course, and he'd said you must, and she'd said no, and he's said all right. I know how that goes.

And go it does. Why, just the other day at Target: we were in the snack aisle, and there was a display for Hi-Chew snacks.

"Is that Japanese?" I said.

"I don't think so - it could be."

"How would you pronounce it in Japanese?"

She thought a second, then said "no, you want me to say it so you can say Gesundheit after."

Exactly, I said. I held out my hand. When you can snatch the pebble from my palm it is time for you to go. You are not there yet, glasshopper, but you are close.

Went to the checkout. A Somali kid name Muhammed beeped and bagged.

"Happy Easter," he said when we were done, and I said "thank you, Muhammed." Thought of that horrible Glasgow story. Not here. Not now.

She wanted to know if I had the transfer paper, and I said I did. But I drove to Office Depot anyway to make sure we had some. Also, it was an excuse to attenuate the trip. (I knew I had some.) The sign was unlit. We walked in; two clerks standing around the front.

"Am I the hundredth person to say the sign's out?" I said.

"The thousandth," the clerk said. "The many thousandth." He helped us find the paper, and I went back to the counter where another nice young lady was waiting to help. She had watched us come in.

"Hey, do you know your sign's out?" I said.

"No sir thank you for telling me."

"Is the whole thing busted? Usually it's a few letters letter, and you're Fice Epot."

She shook her head. "We let building maintenance know, but." Shrugged shoulders: building maintenance. What else needs be said.

"At first I thought you closed. Or merged."

"We did merge. With Office Max. But now Staples wants to merge with us."

That one sentence spoke volumes of disruption: shuttered properties vexing big-box mall owners, media stories about the pressures on office-supply companies, an army of 20-somethings who take off their company-colored shirts with the wretched floppy collars that curl up after ten washings, the total death of a company culture, the reminder that there is something more depressing than office supplies, and that is the backroom culture of an office supply chain.

I would miss this place. We always came here for school supplies. I bought a few printers here, happy at the low price; I bought some ink here, furious at the high price. The Mac Tonight McDonald's was across the lot. My tax people used to be in this strip mall. I bought a vacuum cleaner here. Daughter and I went to Chuck E. Cheese's once a month here. I've never liked this commercial strip - it's everything wrong about suburban development, with its acres of parking facing the street, the stores set far back, but at least it's integrated into a park and a lake. Took Daughter fishing at that lake once, which she doesn't remember. I do. Caught nothing, but it was fun. It was the day before she went to Arizona with her mother for some trip, and that evening I went in to have a boil lanced.

I'm saying I have a history with this place, that's all. It all works on paper and it half-works in reality. When we left Daughter wanted to get some Cherry Berry frozen yogurt, one of those places where you extrude a coil into a cup and top it with sugary crap and they weigh it. There are times when I just think that no one learned anything from the Seventies or Clockwork Orange.


When we had left the car the Sirius XM Fihst Waive channel had been playing remixes from the 80s. 12 inches. These were cool when they first came out - wow, more song, longer faves - but it soon became clear that these dance-mixes were just cut-and-paste extensions of the original, and if you want to know Hell in the 80s it's the seventh minute of trying to dance to "One Thing Leads to Another" by the Fixx. The song was still playing when we got back in the car.

So my generation did not present itself well this evening, but earlier in the day I'd picked her up from the Minneapolis Institute of Art. She asked to be picked up around the corner, because she had to ditch her knife in the bushes. Really: she'd gone with a friend to an estate sale and found an exquisite letter opener, but couldn't bring it into the galleries, so she put it in the bushes. She said it was a dark and depressing estate sale, and the worst thing they were selling was half-used bottles of hand cream. I mean. Ewww.

For some reason I put on the Bosch theme song. I'd finished the show the previous night. Loved it, missed it, and wanted to hear the theme the way you want to hear a dead friend's ringtone. She was asking questions. Is he a cop? Yes. Does he not play by the rules? Sometimes. Does he have a tragic past? Well, in a way. Is he grim and determined? Yes, but - Is he haunted by a failed relationship? Well any man in his situation would be - THAT'S SO CLICHE.

Trust me, I said. It's better than that. I played the theme.

Oooh. I like this

And so we drove home on a sunny March Friday to the music of a dark LA evening. The show was still over but right there I let it go.

The video will be familiar to Bleatniks.



Another week of old pinball, selected not because they're the Best, but because - well, I have sharper pictures of some more than the others. today it's Crescendo by Ed Krynski.



It's the first Gottlieb to have drop targets. There was a four-player version called . . . Groovy. As you might expect from the era when this was suppose to mean something Deep and Artistic and Relevant to today's concerns.



In retrospect, there was really one word to describe the typography of the era, and that's "amateurish."






Lum and Abner Festival continues with #5. If you've been following along, you know that the venerable radio show was ill-served by the previous three entries, which either squandered the familiar setting or put the old fellows in fish-out-of-water situations.


THEY'RE JIVE DIZZY: that was the big slogan on the print ads.

Of course, they were nothing of the sort.

The fifth episode in this regrettable maladaptation has a plot that would have fit on the radio - oil is discovered (supposedly) in Pine Ridge, and hallelujah, everyone's going to be rich. The radio show would have played it out over three weeks or four, with the usual arc: elation, over-estimation, formation of a company with Lum setting himself up as the President, stock sales, Squire Skimp intruding to siphon off money, catastrophe, misery, unexpected resolution.

As the movie begins, t Cedric, the village idiot, comes in to chat, but Lum's doing inventory, because they have an offer to sell the store. First the audience has heard of it.

We meet Lum's sort-of girlfriend; they've been dating for years.

Again, not from the show. Haha doesn't matter. It's Florence Lake, who had a long career. Including this:



Can you name that show?

She was never mentioned on the show. Never happened on the show. Ergo, no one cared. They could ignore continuity as they pleased - but to be honest, the show did this all the time. Characters would appear and do a long, slow fade. They adopted a young girl once, and wrote her out of the show within seven months without explanation. That takes some stones. Now and then an established character would be dropped cold, and not because an actor quit - the two played all the roles. Mousy Grey, for example. Hilarious. Around '43 he just vanished.

For that matter, they were supposed to be old when the show started in the early 30s. In a sense it reset every four or five months, with the memories of everyone wiped clean.

Anyway: the old fellows sell stock in their oil company, just as they sold stock in the train company last week. Turns out they were swindled, so they have to go to the Big City, AGAIN, to confront the bad guys. So we can get some fish out water gags.

Let's go to a nightclub. Or a nightmare club:


Those dresses. There's something crustacean about all that. Ask yourself if a low-budget picture would bother to hire and train a bunch of dancers, or use some pre-existing unit that could be plugged in. Right. Back to the credits:



Googling NTG won't help right away, but eventually you land on an old issue of Billboard, and learn it stands for Nils Thor Granlund, a producer and promotor who worked the nightclubs. Wikipedia: "after appearing on early radio was commonly referenced only by his initials, N.T.G., on the air and in print." So he'd be familiar to the audience.


Five movies, and they're all haunted by the same thing: they don't do anything more than the bare minimum. Put the old fellows up on the screen and have them act country; trot in some familiar characters but don't do anything with them. I don't know if they could have worked on the screen. It was an idea that only worked in 14 minute segments - and in that sense, it would work for 20 years.

Well, you say, that's five - how many did they do? We'll see if they can turn it around next week.

That'll do - and now into Spring. Three more matches if you like.



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