Pup’s limping, but the stool’s cohesive.

I should back up a bit.

Not to start the week on a blue note, I had a horrible weekend. Saturday I lost my wallet, so I couldn’t leave the house. It had my cards! It had my necessary cards - my papers. You live in fear of waking up in a totalitarian state where a grim official with a dueling scar says YOUR PEPPERS PLEZ and you have to hand over your folded documents - which, to be fair, look as easy to counterfeit as every other document of the era. Hmmm, this typing looks correct . . . the photograph in indeed you . . . the stamped seal of the government could not possibly be duplicated. You may pass.

So where were they? I looked everywhere, Birch tagging along on every journey up and down the stairs. I should note that I was alone, wife and daughter off on a college tour (that’s another issue) and I felt like Tom Hanks in “Castaway,” with Birch as my Wilson.

I pictured myself finding the wallet and exulting, and Birch would wag his tail side to side in that “okay, something’s happening, hope it’s good” way dogs have, and then we’d go down to the garage and he’d leap in the car and I’d drive off to get a hamburger!

And maybe Target! Why, it’s been three days since I went there! The world = oyster (subset My Oysters)

But I couldn’t find it. Oh, I looked all the places you’re thinking. Every pair of pants. Every inch of the car.


Okay. It’s a slim wallet I wear in my front pants pocket, because when I wore a back-pocket wallet the cards would curve and snap. It has my work ID, my driver’s license, two credit cards, a thin slit for those old-style “bills” that can still be used as legal tender. When do I last remember having it?

Friday noon, at work. The doughnuts. Remember the donuts I spoke about last week? There were additional doughnuts on Friday. Huge, big as tractor tires - from Bogart’s. There was a fundraiser at the office for a student journalism project, and I kicked in some ones, and took a doughnut.

I didn’t eat it all. Oh it was incredible, but I would only eat half.

What are the chances that I would take out my wallet, extract two dollars, then put the wallet on my desk and forget about it? Nil and none. Besides, I’m sure I left the office for a while, which means I used to wallet to beep back in past security.

Then I drove home.

And I haven’t left since.

So where is it. Did Birch find it in the closet and carry it off and gnaw at it? More likely than finding it in the freezer, which some people on Twitter suggested. Hah! Ridiculous. (Just checked freezer again . . . nope.) (Why would I open the freezer door and put my wallet inside? Because I was distracted by some sort of distant but howling angst that clouded my recollection of my simple autonomous movements? Yeah, that’s possible; better check again. Also the car.)


Right now it’s after midnight, and I just got back from following Birch into the backyard woods to watch him poop, using the phone’s flashlight to determine the composition and firmness of the poop. I have been worried about him today, because he’s been low-energy, and limping. The limp he’s had before, and happened after he fell off the car seat because I slammed on the brakes to avoid killing a cyclist who pedaled merrily into my path going the wrong way on a one-way. I screeched and honked and got flipped: you remember. Well, he started limping again today, and it’s good we’re going back to the vet on Monday for heartworm pills; they can examine the leg.

And then what? I’ve felt the leg, which he allows me to handle without complaint. He just doesn’t want to put any weight on it. It’s possible he strained something again the other day.

You worry, is all I’m saying. You worry because he was sickly when we got him, and I thought we were past that. And now he’s down again, holding up his paw in that way that makes you just sag: oh dear little dog, I am so sorry.

Maybe it was sore, and the walk made it worse. His spirits were certainly high - tail up, nose in the leaves. His appetite is as ravenous as ever. He eats things in the woods and I wish he wouldn’t, but if they gave him a stomach ache there’s nothing I can do save sprinting across the lawn every 90 seconds and taking some twig or hard nut out of his mouth.

I just get this horrible feeling that he’s meant to be with us for a little while.

WHICH IS RIDICULOUS, because there is no God-directed Fate Routine that says “well, let’s break their hearts anew, but now they’ll grieve for a different dog, and that’ll even it all out in some cosmic fashion.” I’ve just never known a puppy this sedate, and it makes me worry.

Not sedate when you want to clip his nails, though, and full of vim yesterday when we played outside. Even tonight when I was worried he perked up and went outside and tussled with the rope for a while.

Earlier we took a nap, and he burrowed in and put his snout in the crook of my neck and put his paw on my back. This is not a Jasper or a Scout move.

Yesterday: can you not follow me around EVERYWHERE so I don’t have to worry about stepping on you when I get out of the shower? K thnx

Tonight: why aren’t you following me around everywhere?

So I get texts from Daughter and Wife about their college tour in Boston; Daughter loves it, wants to go there. She sounds so grown up on the phone. Underlying tension about her going far away, I can tell; she texted a picture of the library at Boston U, which had an exhibit of war posters. I thought it was a mishmash of WW1 and WW2 posters and asked what the general theme was, and this was, like, CRITICISM of the whole place. The whole IDEA.

I get that. Then I made the mistake of noting that the poster up on the left hand side was by Flagg and the one next to it was a Joan of Arc poster by Coffin, because I had to show off. Asserting KNOWLEDGE to control and shape the new input into something I could handle. So yeah, you like the place, but let me tell you something about that picture you don’t know, just to show you how I can turn any situation into a pedagogical episode that demonstrates my wide-ranging knowledge.

Which wasn't the intention, but I get that. She sent me the picture because she knew I’d be interested in the old posters, and correctly interpreted the artist IDs as a way of deflecting the whole leaving-home situation.

I mean, that’s the subtext to the whole trip. I ended up asking her what pants Bostonians use to activate their motor vehicles.

She finally asked what? nine hours later, and I sent the answer.

Anyway. In the absence of actual human interaction it’s me and the limping pup, and pizza for dinner twice in a row because I couldn’t leave the house, and my eye feels swollen and everything seems distant and stupid.

I really need to figure out the next thing I’m going to do. Left on my own for a few days, everything falls away, and I realize that everything feels spent and played. At least the work is still good.

In other words, I may be limping, but the poop’s solid.

UPDATE: Everyone's home and filled with Boston Excitement. After dinner I checked the pants on the hangars for the third time, and I found the wallet.


What, you thought I was done? Hah.



If this confuses you, well, consider that the Cheez-It boxes have been confusing for years. They feature wheels of vagely antthropomorphic cheese wheels, with check boxes, under the words ARE THESE CHEESES READY? You have no idea what this means. How can the state of readiness be ascribed to cheese?

How did he get the hat on his wheel? Or the mask? Who dresses up like a cowboy who feels the need to protect his identity?

Isn't it odd to say BEWARE on one hand, and then offer a helpful tip about how the cheese are great for on-the-go?






It behooves us now and then to go all the way back to the beginnings, and ask the question: it's a classic, but is it great?


Does it hold up? Same answer: yes, but. There are more Buts with this one.

The opening scene is fantastic, in all sense of the word: the imaginary landscape of that mittle-europa fantasy, with its Bavarian and Slavic elements, its apartness, its sense of being cut off from the world and thus permitted to develop strange customs and indulge its cruelties.



What’s this?



Well, Palinka is a fruit brandy, so I’m guessing that Borr Sorr was a brand.

If you know the movie, you know how it begins: incredibly naive real estate agent Renfield shows up in Trrrran-seelVAYnya, and even though the locals say “don’t go see Dracula,” they don’t quite say why. “Listen, friend, you’re new here, so let me fill you in. That guy is an undead fiend who lives on the blood of others. We’ve lived in terror of his unholy ways for decades. You go up there, you’ll end up either dead or a madman who gobbles flies and spiders.”

But no, it’s just a vague warning. Up he goes, and he soon realizes that this is a strange land, with unseen light sources:



Meet your driver:


Low Uber rating, you suspect.

Inside the castle, a wonderful scene of foreboding decay:

Look at the size of that spider web. When you think about it, though, why is it such a mess? Because Dracula kept eating the chambermaids and housekeepers, and eventually the employment bureau stopped sending them around?

Doesn’t this suggest that Dracula is something of a slob, really? For all his cultured manner, he’s a mess in his personal life.

He also can’t seem to fire his incompetant lighting directors.

Really, that ought to be right on the eyes.

I love this scene; it’s so 30s. All those doctors in the Operating Theater.

You couldn’t have done that in the play, and that’s a reason the movie works better on film than on stage. The closeups of Lugosi are much more effective when projected on a large screen than a guy on stage staring hard at someone. But Lugosi brought a certain physical element honed on the boards:


Note what the camera does.

For the most part, though, the movie is stagey, with a sagging middle. You get moments like this:


Whew! Gosh! Gee whiz. But you also get this guy:



Dwight Frye, who was the proto-Igor in Frankenstein, is magnetically weird here, with this insane, mannered laugh.

It all comes down to this . . .


. . . but all the horror takes place off camera, including the (spoiler!) driving of the stake through Dracula’s heart.

It’s good for what Bela brings, and for Frye’s supporting fiendishness. The rest? It’s typical early 30s, and not as exciting as Frankenstein. But it set the tone and the style and has Bela at his best - and that's why it's worth watching.



That'll do; see you around.


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