Saturday night we went downtown to watch the Aquatennial Fireworks. We went to the same place we’d been on the Fourth, with two exceptions: 1) we were visiting a cousin of my wife’s who had a condo on the river with an astonishing view, and 2) the fireworks were put on by Target, not the city, and have a reputation for being, not just awesome but literally awesome. I think that's as impressive as things get these days.

The banner above was taken on the Stone Arch Bridge, an old train route that ties the two banks of the Mighty Miss together with a sinuous course of old stone. The area was industrial - it’s where the city began, where the mills were, where the men toiled and the flour that fed the nation was made. But the milling operations faded away long ago. It was seen at its worst in that old Route 66 ep they shot in town - ugly, old, muddy, a typical city riverfront. Now it’s, well, a typical city riverfront: parks, condos, paths, eminently civilized and urbane.

We walked into the lobby of the condo (it's the one on the far left of the picture above) which was a service facility for an adjacent mill when built in the 19th century. I had to smile at this:



If you had no context, you would think: well, art! Right? And somewhat ominous. Or hopeful.

It would have made sense to everyone, once.



That's a view from the old Pillsbury building, I think - the General Mills history page puts the date at 1919. The clock face is bigger than Big Ben's clock face, as we are always pointing out around here. Anyway, you see it: same script, same style. It was an early nation-wide ad campaign:


Washburn was a Titan of Industry who also built railroads and went to Congress. In the 20s the Washburn-Crosby Company bought a small radio station so they could run flour ads, and it still bears their name.

Our hosts were capital folk - literally, in one case; he’s in financial services. She’s a chaplain for a pediatrics oncology ward. The windows were almost floor-to-ceiling, wall to wall, with the Mississippi and the bridges below. The Teeming Crowds below; cake-eaters up above on the balconies. (In the next building across was Osmo’s pad.) (You know, Osmo.) At ten the detonations began, and it was one of the finest fireworks displays I’ve ever seen.



It was set off from the Third Avenue Bridge, so instead of seeing the action up in the sky you saw the lift-off as well as the aerial glories. One of the highlights: a waterfall from the bridge, mimicking the falls on the river.



The weather was perfect. The temps were warm. The view was gorgeous. The tequila was really good. Best of all, the party included at least six people who read my column, so I felt special! I mean, it doesn’t get better.

Kidding. (not at all but sort of.)

The Aquatennial has had better years. It was downsized a few years back, some key events cancelled - the milk-carton boat races, the sand castle competition. They were brought back by stalwarts, but they're not part of the official celebration, and somehow that just took the wind out of the event. No longer the Ten Best Days of Summer, either.

Every year, there's a Skipper Pin. It ges you perks and treats, and marks you as a memeber of the summer tribe. I have small collection. 1997 was a good year for graphic design, I think. Perhaps I just have nostalgia for the look of the era. It was a pretty good year.


That could have been 1987, too. There's a certain look to the era before computer-aided art got really good.

Let's remind ourselves that the Oughts just lost the plot.



This year's pin:

I appreciate the spare, clean design - but I don't know what the dome in the logo is supposed to be. A bridge? Doesn't look like any bridges we have.

Compare 1997 to 2017, and it's like comparing 1917 to 1937.

So that was Saturday, but just a part of the weekend. Tomorrow: the extra dog.



More of these for a week. I have a million.

I’m sorry, catarrh of the head?



Yes. Catarrh. Also known as the stuff that comes out of you when you have a cold. But what are they talking about, exactly? Sensitivity to bells, whistles, and crickets, or the persistent sensation of having bells, whistles, and crickets inside your ear? If it’s the latter, and you actually have a locust stuck in your auditory canal, The Elmo Co. may be able to help. Otherwise, no.

Should anyone complain that their tinnitus wasn't relieved, the advertisers could point to to the copy: if you have ear noises AND are hard of hearing due to catarrh. Even then, they guarantee nothing: good results many have reported.

There are three Elmo companies in Davenport now. One is a pawn shop. One sells used cars. One is in telecommunication.

They could all be part of ELCO, you know.






As I noted last week: did these a few years ago, but gave them short shrift.

Maybe sometimes they deserved it.

Last week we returned to the problem of the Colossal Man. Again, he died. He was electrocuted into nothingness. Or was he? Perhaps he was teleported to a movie whose very titles gave away its low budget?


Three years after her fiancee disappeared, she wants to find him in the wilds of Mexico.


Is this a different colossal man? Are we pretending that multiple big grunting guys with horribly scarred heads wander around picking up delivery vans and sucking out the bread and potato chips?

Who cares. Accompanying her on her trip to the forbidden Mexican territory - which happens to have lots of uranium, so you know what that means - is Clark Gable’s dorky brother . . .



Also along for the fun, Lon Chaney Jr - hey, he was the werewolf so this must be awesome!



He acts drunk for most of the picture. It's possible he may have had a few. His name adds Horror Legitimacy to the movie, or it's supposed to, but I don't think anyone at this point expected much of him. He plays an impetuous idiot who panics in the plane, knocks out the pilot, and almost crashes the plane into whatever screen they’re using for rear projection. It’s actually not a bad scene, and establishes him as the nervous nelly for the show. You wish they'd let him be the hero now and then.

In this mysterious jungle; we see many colossal things, like this spider.

They should be wetting their pants, but they just look at it. Then we meet a giant lizard, which is of course a salamander inserted into the scene with effects that had been used since 1918.

Hey, guys! Wait up! Wait up, guys!



Why are there many large animals? Because Uranium! Thirty-one minutes into the movie, and no Cyclops. But lots of Lon Chaney Jr. bitching about being stuck in Mexico. Eventually there's a titanic battle of rubber toys, and then - 44 minutes in - it's time for Ol' Blue Eye:





It’s not as good a makeup job as the previous version. Fiancee doesn’t recognize him as her beau. Realizes it eventually. Then it’s running and a series of unending grunts from the Amazing Colossal, who’s voice by Paul Frees.

I think they may be reusing shots in same damned movie:



One of the small actors throws a flaming torch into his eye, which makes him die . . .



. . .Or does it? No, he get up right away and staggers towards the plane, but at the end is inexplicable prone again.



Worst of the lot. There was not a fourth.

Don't think they didn't try, but the money men must have taken a look at the books for the third, and said nah.


That'll do! I hope. See you around.


blog comments powered by Disqus