Yesterday was the last nice day, right? That’s what I said? I don't know what I’m talking about. Monday was clear, bright, warm, with the leaf balance of green-to-turned at 60-40. Almost perfect. You would be a churl to want more. The sunset was lovely, and I snapped some shots while daughter was at music lesson. She came out of the building praising the beauty of the sky, and wanted us to drive around the block to the open field to see more.

But it was gone.

They’ve been so red these last few weeks. Probably that volcano the National Weather Service and NASA started up to dump ash in the air so they can blame it on global warming. No seriously I read that on the internet today. The site also advised me to buy gold and seeds. We’ll need them, brother. We’re all going to be sent to FEMA camps and you’ll need gold for bartering.

Sorry, thought it was 1996 for a moment there.

Yes, times are crazy; they have been crazy for some time. It’s just that the people who used to sit at the end of the Woolworth’s counter writing in a spiral notebook in tiny lines on both sides of the paper are now on Twitter, where at least they are confined to short bursts. But the strangeness infection is wide and high. Today I took a site off my bookmarks for a while - not because I disagreed with it, but because the tone was just insane. What had been dark and funny was now beset by the grim enemy of polemical sites: joyless monomania. There’s more of that about than I’ve seen for a long time.

I also decided to stop listening to one of my very favorite radio hosts for a while. The subject, as you might imagine, was the news of the weekend. The caller was describing Trump’s boasts as sexual assault, and the host cut in: “but they liked it.”

There’s something corrosive about DT that's capableof corrupting even the people who defend him the least. “They liked it” is based on how DT described women’s reactions - they let you. It’s what the abuser likes to think is going on, inasmuch as he cares at all about the reaction of his target. Ahhh, c’mon. They love it.

I understand how some people have made a cold calculus based on certain issues, and most of the time I would rather nod and say "this is where we part, then" and move on to more congenial matters. But this latest episode, like all the others that came before, has been revelatory, and each thing that must be defended, explained away, or put in contrasting context is a sign of what someone is willing to accept or ignore. You just want to say wake me when it's over. Except it's never over, and when you wake, it's just begun again.


I need some coffee. I’m in my car. This could mean McDonald’s, but that’s waaaay over there, ten blocks away. Since I’m en route to Traders Joe, I know I can swing in the misbegotten strip mall and get an Americano from the drive-through. When I say “misbegotten” it’s because the project did everything wrong. And it was a big project. Four office tours around a man-made lake; a park; a shopping complex that had matching Crystal-Palace-style anchors. Oh it looked grand on paper - the way cars would drive down a boulevard, peel off to the two parking lots, shop at the stories or wander down the main road to the park below. Some people do just that, of course. I have. But what looked down on a top-down architectural drawing doesn’t integrate well into the neighborhood or the surrounding streets. No one cared because that’s not what suburban projects were supposed to do. So the parking lot faces the street - who cares? Where else will it go?

When you drive past you see a great vacancy, with no suggestion of what’s beyond the lot. It’s just an odd place. But it could be worse; at least there’s a park and a lake. Took Daughter fishing there once. We bought equipment at Target and baited and cast our lines into the murk; caught nothing. The next day I had a boil lanced.

The things you remember.

Anyway. I pull up to the window. It’s about 6:30; sun’s heading down, but it’s warm. Golden light. Lovely evening. There is a sign on the shelf by the drive-through window.


The window opens and the perkiest, happiest, blondest Edina barista you can imagine gives me a 50,000 watt smile and says Hi! What can I get you?

Medium Americano, please.

Hot or iced?

Hot. I know I should say that but I just can’t figure why anyone wants a cup of coffee iced.

Wellll some people do.

I suppose. So how do you know I shine like a diamond?


The sign. I shine like a diamond. How do you know?

Because you’re special! she beams.

What is this, first grade? How do you know I’m special?

Well you are rocking the green. Your jacket matches your car. It’s awesome.

I suppose it is. (I pick up my phone charging cable from the floor of the car; it is braided fabric, green and dark green, the colors of my jacket, as it happens. I hold it up.

Wow. Is this your thing? Your favorite color?

It . . . it is, but after ten years I’m starting to move to blue. Deep blue.

You’re like, a model. You could be in an Eddie Bauer catalog.

So I’m one of those middle-aged guys who are smiling while they handle ropes on a yacht, is that what you’re saying?

It’s the coordination! It’s the vintage sunglasses.

(I take them off.) They’re plastic. They’re from the StarTribune. See? Says so right here.

Do you work there?

I do.

Cool! And here’s your grande Americano. Have an awesome night!

I will!

And I drove away grinning, because that was fun.

Because after a certain age you just feel invisible.





More from the "humorous" advice columnist in a monster magazine.

I guess with only one T, it's pronounced "bateing."


Basil could be a gay bat ha ha

Oh wait he's put in a personal ad in the same issue

It seems Lucretia has anxiety issues

Ha ha






Today, a Fall circular:
  This ordinary domestic tableau is from 1967, and brought to you by Gamble-Skogmo, two North Dakota boys who built a retail empire. G-S was purchased in a leveraged buyout in 1980 by Wickes - you know, surprisingly Wickes - and the whole thing collapsed.

The pieces were sold off, and some survived. There's a Shoppers World chain now, but it must be different; it was started in the 70s, and this circular was found in my 1960s scan folder. So obviously it can't be the same place.

Gamble-Skogmo came up with an in-house brand for electronics and appliances: CORONADO. I wonder how much they focus-tested the name; probably had connotations of monarchy and exotic Spanish appeal, which sexes up an oven hood nicely.

It was someone's job to market that oven hood. It was someone's job to bring in the oven hood at a certain price. It was someone's job to get FESCO to deliver those baskets and make sure the color was consistent. Dammit, Hal, that's not mushroom color. Well, it is, but that's the problem. We wanted a color that we could call mushroom, not actual mushroom color.

Danish design! At its worst. At this point the term just meant "doesn't look, you know, Colonial or anything." Don't think Skogmo flew in Danes to nail this one down.

Progress Chandelier: bad taste at a reasonable price.

"Maple Gold or Charcoal slimline case." The word they're not using is "plastic," but perhaps that went without saying.

Ads from Life, from the same era. I'm sure you could get one of these at any Gamble-Skogmo. OR Shoppers City.




Another technical innovation from 1967.

These were amazing things to have. Everyone had to have them. There were all these things that didn't have labels. Suddenly the world looked as if it was crying out for labels.

Oh, the horror when you made a mistake.

Oh, the horror when you came home after college and those labels were still on the phone. It's like nothing ever changed at home. It's like they couldn't see how dated these things looked.

The ends always curled up and collected dust, and you pressed them back in place. They stayed stuck. For a while.







If your eyes hurt from watching too much TV perhaps you shouldn't watch too much TV. At least don't sit that close.

I'm starting to think Whit took every job offered. Good for him; one day they're calling with offers, and the next they're not.


Another day, another blog entry; another week, another ration of sci-fi covers. Only one week left after this week! Then an old dear inventor friend returns. See you around.



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