Positives: I was not arrested for solicitation in a park, so there’s that.
I was going to post what I had queued up for last week before Scout ran away. I did not want to repeat that grim week. That was the plan, anyway. Then Saturday happened, and by the end of the day I resembled a squirrel I found on the parkway.
With the green representing . . . hope! Or the persistence of nuisances.
Around 1 PM I got a call. Unfamiliar number. Young woman had seen a dog that looked like the one on the signs. Same neighborhood, six blocks to the north, specific directions. He had run away, of course. I’m out the door in seconds. Wife is pulling up her car just as I open my garage bay, and I shout directions: go go go go.
We get there, we walk around, nothing. Wife stops to talk to woman, show her the flier; three kids on bikes drive over.
One looks at the picture. It’s the best picture we have.
“That’s the dog that runs around in the soccer field,” he says. And he pedals away.
That’s two sightings. One of the three kids crowds in and wants to know if there’s a reward. I name a sum and he scowls and asks for more. I say he would be doing a very good thing and make some sad people very happy, and yes, he will be rewarded.
“What if we all get him.”
“Don’t chase him. Just tell us if you see him. You’ll all be paid.”
“Can I have twenty dollars now,” he says. I say we are very sad about our dog and need him back, and he will be rewarded.
Little shit scowls at me.
So I walk around, showing the picture, texting the picture to people who have their phones. (“Holy hell, you’re James Lileks!” says one. “I read you all the time!” Again, that moment of complete absurdity. Thank you for reading. I appreciate it.)
We fan out again, but nothing. Wife has an appointment, has to go; I go home, get more big signs to stake down. Phone rings. It’s one of the people I showed the picture to and gave a flier.
“I got your dog,” she said.
“You - you have him?”
“Well, he’s here, in the soccer field.”
And I burn over again. En route the phone rings: he left. Headed towards the alley. DAMNIT DAMNIT DAMNIT.
Troll the alleys, talk to people. Most are nice. Wife goes on site; I go home to get sandwiches and pick up a few more signs posted in other neighborhoods. All the while I’m getting grief from Scout’s case worker because I blurted out details on Twitter and FB, forgetting that specifics are BAD BAD BAD - people go look, they scare off the dog. We have to find out where he is and then set out the feeding stations. So I go home and delete everything and make sandwiches and go back to the park.
Wife and I have our anniversary dinner at the park. Pastrami and potato chips.
The soccer field fills up with kids, and it’s too loud and busy. We go back when it’s getting dark, and I do all the alleys again while she sits in the park. Mind you: not a great neighborhood. It’s . . . challenged. She has French Brother-in-Law with her. After dark they go and I stay. Food is strewn; items of clothing left behind; water dishes put out. I stake out a position in the car where I can see Scout come from the alley - if it is Scout and he went that way, of course. If if if if if if.
After I while I drive around the park to sit by the area where there’s food - including a hamburger and a hot dog someone left after a picnic, along with all their garbage and cans. This is a challenged neighborhood, as I said euphemistically, and everyone has been kind and friendly because why not? But it's a mess, and much of the disorder and chaos is not the result of poverty. You don’t leave your trash on the picnic table because you’re poor. You don’t throw your trash over the fence into the alley because you’re poor. If you have a TV tube sitting in your weedy backyard face down and a Lexus in the driveway, what the hell.
So I get out to smoke a cigar because Scout’s case worker says he might pick up the familiar scent. I position myself in the shadows. There are people across the street on their stoop, saying goodbye for 20 minutes, and eventually I feel compelled to tell them what I am doing there so they don’t call the police to say a man is trying to pick up a trick.
They’re Somali, and there is a bit of a language problem, but when I say I am here for a lost dog, one says “Black dog?”
“He has been in the field for two days.”
If it’s him. If if if if.
If he wasn’t scared off by the kids who want money, and moved to another area. If only we had stuck around. If only he could take the bridge across the freeway. If if if.
Then there’s this: one of the kids said something to the lady to called to say “I got your dog.”
He said the dog was bleeding.
That was Saturday. More on Sunday, and it came down to But. If. Maybe.
Less of the Maybe, though.
Now, as promised, a return to normalcy somewhat. Let’s do a nice friendly old sci-fi movie and then some matchbooks and cross our fingers.
Marathon. Not a sprint. Tell you this: the events described above happened 24 hours ago, and they feel like a week ago.
Items recently noted at my favorite art museum - er, antique store.
You wonder if he was second-in-line for commanding vice, or the children's auxillary, or someone commanding less important vices.
There's new old lino down in the main room; it's a children's pattern.
You'd have to take it up, eventually. That wouldn't be the happiest day.
One of the intentional tableaus that makes the place different from your usual jumble joint:
Revisiting some old favorites, as part of the general rehabilitation of the B&W World section of the site. About which I care little, but feel a peculiar old obligation, as I do to all the “legacy” sites that populated lileks.com in the middle years.
The site’s been around long enough to have middle years.
It might be my second-favorite old sci-fi movie - the first being Them. Like that movie, it takes itself seriously, and with unexpected intelligence. It just isn’t stupid. No one’s reacting hammily to a reverse-projection or matte shot. There are no giant crickets, or stop-motion beasts. (Harryhausen was great, but we always knew they were models.) It has a unique premise, once you get past the Perilous Rocks From Space angle. The Monsters aren’t sentient. They aren’t angry and confused and roaring at people because they’re mutated beasts.
They’re just tall rocks. They don't even move on their own. They fall over and shatter and new ones grow.
So why do I love it? Because I remember seeing it on an old black-and-white portable TV on a sleepover in the backyard in the summer, when it wasn't as apparent that they shot the movie on location in Matteshotte, CA:
It's really Everytown USA - which was the point of its construction.
In the 1950s Richard Cutting derived fame as "Manners," a tiny butler in a Bowler derby hat in a series of commercials for Kleenex Napkins. By trick photography he appeared to be about only inches in height and would manifest under a dinner table in a traditional butler's cutaway. A paper napkin was always slipping off the lap of a diner, giving Manners the opportunity, after a polite "ahem," to inform the guest of the non-slip benefit of the Kleenex napkin.
Oh joy, it exists:
Anyway. Eventually the rocks grow, and we get a tease, a brief reveal:
It's better than any monster movie with a rear-projection cricket.
The question: when will the damned rain stop? That's what makes them grow. Time to call . . . The Weather Authorities:
Our old friend William Schallert, of course - the voice of many commercials for those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s. Instead of being Super Competant, though, we get this amusing sequence:
YOU CAN STOP WATCHING NOW after his scene is done, unless you want to spoil everything.
Well, the rain does what the rain'll do:
That's a fantastic image. Both meanings of the word. You have no context for that, like you have for a giant ant. It's just cool.
The ol' crusty newspaperman is entrusted with getting out the word:
He's obviously old school, because a modern editor would have tightened up that lede, for GOD'S SAKE.
And here they come.
Everyone was worried that The End would come from the sky, and here it was in the form of stupid rocks.
Perfect summer drive-in B-movie, simply because it's different.
Then again, I was what, 12, 14? Doesn't mean it was good. But sometimes that means it was good in a way you learned to dismiss as you aged.
I decline to disavow "The Monolith Monsters." It's still a favorite after all these years - and it holds up, dammit. It holds up.
That'll do; see you around. Tomorrow's another day.
Well, it usually is, but you know what I mean. Thanks for bearing with me.