I decided to let the remaining organic mush in the Oak Island Water Feature tank dry out; it would be easier to remove. Mostly I was just tired of cleaning it and wanted an excuse to stop. Of course it rained for five days, remushing everything. I got it out today, but first I had to use the submersible pump. Scout is fascinated by that thing. When it comes out he gets excited, but not in a "let's play" way - more of a "I do not trust that thing, no, I do not" way that has him looking to me for cues about its intentions. He stands on the edge of the tank and watches it, because it is sure to reveal its perfidy soon.

Once I got all the hideous mush out of the tank and into a bin, which at this very minute sits at the top of the stairs waiting to be taken down, and I had better go do it now because it's supposed to rain tomorrow, and then it'll fill with water because the lid's downstairs . . . nah, don't feel like it. Anyway, once I got everything up I realized that two pieces of the pump were missing:

The filter

The cowl

But it still worked, so whatever. Alas: the pipe (it goes through the stone and produces the illusion of water coming out of a rock) was broken off in the pump's outflow hole - stop me if I'm getting too technical - and when I took the rest of the hose out of the stone, it was broken in half. So I'd need new hose, and of course I knew I'd get a new pump. Off to Home Depot because I hadn't been there in 18 hours. (Went to HD with the Giant Swede yesterday; he needed flowers to plant in his house, being a single fellow again [hey ladies of Mpls: now's your chance] and wanting his house to be nice. Unfortunately he is as methodical about buying flowers as everything else, so I just went outside and sat on the curb and read Twitter and waited. I know I should have just watched the passing parade of people pushing carts laden with verdant spectacles, but I tried that for a few minutes and got the point. I did buy some seed, but I didn't put it down. In fact I'm still carrying it! Hah.

Anyway, at Home Depot I found a pump, and it said it took 3/4" pipe. So I took a coiled length from the 3/4" pipe bin, and also bought some strong thin rope. Why, you ask? Well, a man needs rope about, but I had a specific purpose. The old pump's cord goes through a buried conduit and emerges by the outlet. I would tie the cord to the plug, pull it out, then tie the new plug to the cord and fish it back. This was a flawless plan and I was pleased at how I figured it out without head-scratching.

The conduit was plugged with the Mulch of Ages. I dug out what I could, and pulled out the old pump cord. Tied the new one, and pulled . . . and no, it wasn't going through. It just wasn't. I don't know what manner of obstructions are down there, but for the moment they are impassable. The entire damned thing needs to be overhauled, miserable misbegotten leaky half-working thing that it is; this is the time when I remember what a nightmare it was from the start, and how I ended up not paying the guy the second half of the bill because he'd done such a spectacularly idiotic job. So there's that. In the end I will pay the second half to someone else, alas. So there's that.

Now I had no pump, and bright florescent cord hanging out of a hole in the ground, which my wife could spot from deep sleep, so I stuffed everything in the hole and covered it up with a rock. We call this: success.

Got out an extension cord, and hid the pump cord in the corner. Can't be seen unless you're standing right over it, and why would you?

Well, because you're a dog. Otherwise no. Then I attached the hose to the pump, and of course, it's 1". It was in the wrong bin.

So concludes the end result of every damned thing around the house I have to build or fix: so I have to go back.

Well, I was going back anyway. I need some bags of stuff, and look at this, will wonders never cease:

I don't recall what it was before; don't recall anyone dragging them like corpses to the truck.


Click was a tabloid picture mag - brash and snappy. They ran a feature detailing everything women shouldn't do on a date.

I don't know if any gals took this advice. If they did these things they may have been beyond hope.

Men are quick to resent laxity. BE CHARMING. To be fair, no one who acts like this is a good first date. Let's start when he picks her up, where first impressions are made:

Be alert and silently masticate your thick, chewy confection. And before you go:


They were optional in '38? Well, ol' flapjacks and her horrid stockings and bad hair are ready to go out - and our stand-in for Male Approval is already regretting this.

More to come, through Thursday. It gets very bad.






A rare opportunity to look at a film from Weimar Germany . . . and its Los Angeles 50s equivalent.

Of course, it's this:



Mr for Morder! Or Murder. You know the story - Fritz Lang, Lorre, the Kurten murders, the trial by the Underworld. I'm not here to review it, just to look at it, since that's what this feature is about. The singular images.

The introduction of the killer is brilliant: we see a poster about the murders as a little girl bounces her ball against the words - and then.



He enters in shadow, and says what a pretty ball in an insinuating parody of an adult's concern. When the child doesn't come home, we hear her mother shouting down an empty staircase . . .



A maze. The mother calls out with increasing panic, her voice heard over static shots of the home:



And we get the most chilling image the cinema had produced. The last we saw of them, he'd bought her a balloon.



We return to the killer quite quickly, pulling faces in the mirror as a voice-over describes the characteristics of the madman.




The VO describes the police efforts, and we realize we're watching an elementary procedural. Interesting notes of how American culture had a role in Germany of the 30s. You see ads for Wrigley's gum, and of course our most powerful ambassador:



This is interesting. The poster:




That's for Westfront 1918, a GW Pabst movie from 1930. Same studio, released the year before. It's an amazing movie, and why yes: we will be doing it in a few weeks.




Here's a shop window:



Sarotti was, and is, a German chocolate.




In the next shop window:

Matador was wooden construction set. Now. Did you see movies in 1931 in America that had real movie posters, Hershey ads, TinkerToy displays? You did not.

This tweaked my head, because I knew the logo:

But what is it? Google the name of the store . . . Ah. I saw the logo on knives. The J. A. Henckel store is still in Berlin, but the building looks like it's from the late 40s or early 50s. Why, it's almost as if the entire area of town was rebuilt. Wonder why.

Afterwards he tracks little girl, and stares at her reflection in a mirror in a window display showing hundreds of knive. Could be symbolic. She runs into her mother. He does not pursue. You know why?

We'll get to that. Instead, he goes to a bar and whistles "In the Hall of the Mountain King," his trademark killin' song. He does not take pity on a bird. There is no bird. We'll get to that next week.

Anyway: it all comes down to the underworld trial, and Lorre's harrowing performance has great power. This, of course, is what people remember:

But of course he can, and we saw earlier that he could. He doesn't knock over a cop to snatch a little girl. He doesn't run over the mother to get her daughter. When the opportunity withers, he declines. Because he can help it.

His confession, the underworld boss says, makes their job clear: he's said he can't not murder, so he needs to be put down. "Snuffed out. Like a candle. This man must be wiped out, eliminated."

What makes this a bit unsettling is the guy doing the talking:


Gustaf Gründgens (22 December 1899 – 7 October 1963), born Gustav Heinrich Arnold Gründgens, was one of Germany's most famous and influential actors of the 20th century, intendant and artistic director of theatres in Berlin, Düsseldorf, and Hamburg. His career continued unimpeded through the years of the Nazi regime; the extent to which this can be considered as deliberate collaboration with the Nazis is hotly disputed.

He makes a convincing leather-clad shouting authority figure.

I started a documentary a while ago about German cinema of the 30s, and how it paved the way for the Nazis - by establishing certain visual tropes, bright and dark. This fellow, all clad in leather, channeling the audience's desire for vengeance, brushing away any remnant scraps of empathy for the sick and evil killer -

Perhaps it planted a few seeds in some minds, or watered the ones that had begun to germinate. Not that I blame Lang. Right after that he hands the story over to the "lawyer," who says "no one can be punished for something he can't help." He recommends the asylum. The crowd bays: he will fool them, he will escape, he will be released - he will take advantage of the law. The law is the handmaiden of corruption. (To paraphrase someone else's observation, even the Devil can quote statutes.)

The final scene, the trial, is full of those haunting faces Lang served up:


The last time I saw "M" I found it a bit talky and slack; this time I found it riveting.

Impossible to remake? On the contrary, they've been remaking it for decades, and next we'll see the most literal do-over.

It was called "M."


Oh, er, ahem:

Great week coming up! Thunder and lightning, very very frightening, etc. See you around.



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