This may not surprise you, but I get the art for the Bleat banner months in advance. I have the whole year done and I'm a third of the way through 2017. It used to be that I'd do the matchbooks the night I posted them; now I feel remiss, and slightly itchy, if the whole year isn't done in advance. Anyway, when I saw the picture above in an ad, I thought: April. When you're looking at the tulips, but they're not real yet. It was apt when the week began, chill and mean - but Wednesday it allll began. Sun and heat. Just like that: spring, true spring, and the best kind of early spring day: warm and blue, and not a single tree budding. Because that's yet to come! It hasn't started, so we still have that wonderful revelation to behold.

As if on cue, there were workmen in the nieghborhood. Some of the workmen came here for various jobs I cannot do.

Cable a big tree. It's an important part of the domestic forest, and when the trimmer went through the inventory last year he said it needed to be cinched and corseted, or it would falter and perish. That would be bad. We've lost lots of grand trees on the block since I moved, and the neighbor's big elm went down last year. There's one trash-tree my wife doesn't like, and it has gnarly roots that cause strange depressions in the lawn, but I am loath to give up any tree. Not out of some fear that the planet is running out of trees or will asphyxiate. I just have a natural reaction: woodsman, stay thine axe.

So they fixed the tree while Scout stood at the back door and made gruff boofs until he could go out and meet them, and then of course he was underfoot all the time. Brought him back. Noon: more workmen, this time to saw the bathtub in half.

Really. They sawed it quarters, to be accurate. Out it came, down the stairs. The reason for the leak was discovered - and no, I did not have them saw it up because it leaked; that could have been patched. It's being reconfigured into a walk-in shower, because the ruinous cost of redesigning it was close enough to the ruinous cost of fixing it. This entire week has been a case of opening up financial veins and letting the money flow unstanched until I am white. None of it was optional, really: the leak had to be fixed. The taxes had to be paid. The tree had to be cabled. The frame on the Caravaggio in the living room had to be regilded.

Okay, maybe that was optional.


A piece on a father's efforts to help his daughter enter a science fair had this stat:

According to Ajmera, more than 118,000 students in grades six to 12 competed in the society’s affiliated fairs in 2015 — a number that’s held steady in recent years. She’s been gratified to see girls get much more involved. This year there were more girls than boys as finalists.

Yay! Yay girls, of course, although you wonder if the desired result is parity, or an imbalance that continues indefinitely to redress the bad old past. Anyway, the author said this:

Last fall, my daughter Veronica got an idea for the seventh grade science fair at her school. She’d compare different ways to clean a toothbrush. First she’d take a new toothbrush out of a package and brush her teeth, covering it with her mouth bacteria. Then, she’d clean it with one of three liquids: water, lemon juice, or vinegar. Finally, she’d wipe the brushes on Petri dishes and see how many bacteria grew on them.

Fine idea. How'd it turn out?

Veronica submitted her plan, and then reported back to me that we had to fill out some forms. These forms turned out to be an avalanche of confusing paperwork. We also learned that this experiment was so potentially dangerous that Veronica would have to carry it out under the supervision of a trained expert, who would first have to submit a detailed risk assessment.

Sounds preposterous, right? The author turned to some Science Friends, who helped out, and now she's thinking she might be a Scientist. Happy ending? There are no happy endings, only reasons to Worry.

The only reason Veronica was able to carry out her experiment was that I had the flexibility to spend hours struggling through paperwork, and because I had a social network of scientists I’ve developed as a science writer. This was an exercise in privilege.

If Veronica had been the daughter of a single parent with a couple jobs and no connections to the world of science — if she had been like a lot of American kids, in other words — her idea would have gone up in smoke. She might not have even bothered thinking about the science fair at all.

That's the issue. Not the paperwork or regulations involved in swabbing a toothbrush with vinegar.

If you scroll down, you'll see a story on locally sourced food, and how it often isn't. This may be my favorite story of the week. The author visits a restaurant that has that quality we all seek when hungry: it's edgy.

MERMAID TAVERN has been a Seminole Heights draw for craft beer since it opened in 2011. In 2015, Gary Moran, chef-owner of the defunct restaurant Wimauma, took over in the kitchen at the restaurant owned by Becky Flanders and Lux DeVoid, tweaking an edgy, independent-minded menu.

The restaurant’s tagline is “Death to Pretenders,” and one of the appetizers is the “F**k Monsanto Salad.” Monsanto, if you need a reminder, has come under fire for innovations such as Agent Orange, Roundup and genetically modified “frankenseeds.”

The menu has a manifesto: "This menu is free of hormones, antibiotics, chemical additives, genetic modification, and virtually from scratch. We fry in organic coconut oil and source local distributors, farmers, brewers and family wineries … Our fish is fresh from Florida or sustainable/wild fisheries."

The author demurs: "Only it’s not. Those cheese curds arrive in a box. The fish and chips, which the menu says uses wild Alaskan pollock, are made from frozen Chinese pollock treated with sodium tripolyphosphate, a common preservative." The fish is from India. The salad is from a place that may or may not use GMOs.

On and on it goes, one restaurant after the other: it's devastating. Everyone lied. Here's the line that explains a lot: “Folks think they need a story on almost everything on their menu,” he said. They need to know that their sausage is virtuous.

One of the comments: "As a nutrition consultant, one of the themes of these challenges is people not willing to pay what good food costs. As a nation, we spend much less on food per capita than those in most other countries. Europeans spend much more on their food. For sure, misrepresentation on ALL fronts needs to stop, AND we need to understand that quality food simply costs more. Period. "

Damn you Americans with your cheap food! Pay more!

Everything is always horrible, if you want it to be.

I missed this one. I missed its announcement, the groundbreaking, the first few floors, all of it. Now it's ten stories and counting - apartments (or condos) with a river view.

Did I mention that Nicollet Mall is under construction? Yeah kinda sorta:


It's odd, though - most of this is utility work unconnected to the impending rehab, so they're digging it up and filling it back in, and people expecting a brand new exciting street are sorely disappointed.

Finally, a look at the end of the utterly 79s ugly little Kraus-Anderosn building, slated for death and replacement:







This being Friday - hoorah1 it's the music cues for "The Little Things in Life," Peg Lynch's last continuously running sitcom. The cues run from substandard 60s cues to cringingly 70s.


Old-style life in the big city


As I said last week, bassoons are indications of husbandly buffudlement.


All of these 70s cues are regrettable.


Another old-style cue:


That's how she usually ended a show. Curtain, and theme.



Lum & Abner's 1935 Sponsor: Horlicks! Let's have MORE HORLICKS! There's just no end to the amount of Horlick stories they have.



It's just malted milk, for heavens sake



We are reenacting the Cincinnati drugstore event. Because it is important.




This week's Bob & Ray sketch isn't a parody, but the mumble-mouthed wisdom of Dean Archer Armstead, agricultural enthusiast and chewing tobacco enthusiast.









Oh, man, that typeface. You knew you were in for some middle-aged middlebrow when you saw that.



"Gary was considered by many to be one of the most talented of popular singers due to his extraordinary breath control and tonal quality of his voice. He had an exceptionally wide range of three and 1/2 octaves. His singing ranged from robust baritone to a high sweet tenor often in the same song. Many popular songs of the time were suited to his intimate style. After signing with RCA Victor, Gary was nominated for a 1964 Grammy Award for Best New Artist."

He starts this one out with an unusual note.



That wraps up the week - thank you, as ever, for joining me. Next up: oh, who knows. More of the same, but is that necessarily bad?


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