Fine weekend, except for the dog-hawking. On Friday night I heard Daughter downstairs say BIRCH NO NO NOT ON THE CARPET, and I rushed down; she said he’d tossed up something substantial - and being a dog, instantly thought “hey, food” and scarfed it up again. Whereupon the great convulsive machinery began again, and I got him outside. I have absolutely no idea how he got out what he got out. It was like watching a sparrow cough up a boxing glove. I thought he’d eaten a rabbit, but upon examination, it was familiar.

He got into the closet where there was a bag of chicken treats. My wife buys him lots of nice healthy treats - pure premium chicken! Finest cuts! They’re crosshatched with lines to make you think they were flame-broiled. The lines gave it away. Well, it took some time, but eventually we had evidence he had eaten an astonishing quantity, and most were hardly chewed. He took a few chomps to break them up, then down the hatch.

When it was all done he sat by the back door with a miserable expression, hiccuping.

That was Friday night. We played, took a walk, had the usual fun. Same on Saturday. Then, at 3 AM Sunday morning, the rest of the treats were revealed unto us, because apparently he’d been hiding them in his backup stomach, and GOOD - LORD. Imagine a 14 year old coming home from a party where he ate four pounds of chili and drank a fifth of sloe gin, except of course the 14 year old wouldn’t growl as if to say this is my barf, dammit, and ain’t no one else gonna get to my barf because this is the barf that is my barf so BACK OFF.

That was 3 AM. So of course he starts to whine at 7 AM because . . . because he’s hungry.

Don’t get me wrong; I love this little guy. But he’s at that stage where he will eat everything - a stage in a dog’s existence we call “life” - and it’s exhausting.

That was not the entirety of the weekend, of course. I went to the Giant Swede’s house to watch the Vikings win. I picked a good year to start watching again. It’s been what, 15 years since I found myself in a room with friends, all of us having risen to our feet because he - could - go - all - the - way! I also adjusted the font size on 265 pages in the Institute and had pizza, twice.

And I wrote. Holiday deadlines mean I have to columns due this morning, and it’s 11:03 PM right now, so you know what? I’d best get to work.


“My keyboard isn’t working,” said my wife, tapping at the wireless slab that makes her iPad respond. “Can you fix it?”

“Nope,” I said. “You’re an adult. A grown woman. You manage an office of workers, you ejudicate complex legal situations. Your keen mind is one of the reasons I was drawn to you over a quarter century ago, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to apply the most basic diagnostic evaluation to this matter. If the keyboard is powered, it is powered . . . how? Yes, good, batteries. So they must be skint. Where are the batteries to replace them? Here, in the drawer, where they have been for 17 years, miraculously resupplied as if the Battery Fairies come fortnightly and ensure we have a constant supply of AAAs, AAs, Ds, tiny lozenges for your keyfob, and so on. Swap out old for new and Bob’s you’re uncle.”

But no, of course I didn’t say that. I opened up the keyboard and shook our two batteries. I put in two new ones. It didn’t work.

Huh. I took out the batteries, looked inside: there was the positive pole of a battery staring me in the face. It was stuck. Why? Don’t know. Bang it on the counter a few times; doesn’t drop out. This means it was corroded and wedged in by its own corruption. Damn. Well. Step one: put it near the fireplace so everything expands. Give it a chance.

Nope. Okay, internet. Web search reveals two methods for dislodging corroded batteries; one involves baking soda, the other requires vinegar. I have both. Of course I have both! The other night daughter wanted some baking soda for some teeth-whitening thing, and sighed a gust of exasperation because WE DON’T HAVE ANY.

If only someone had seen fit to store some in the downstairs pantry, I said with full knowledge of how this would play out, enjoying my role as the insufferable person.

What? That’s, like, your survival food.

Yet there may be Baking Soda there.

And there was. That meant I had to buy more baking soda, which I did, but I did not want to open one up for this, because that meant stocks would be drawn down and I'd have to go through the whole baking-soda replacement business again. So I investigated the matter; the A1314 keyboard could be opened up underneath by prying open a plastic cover. I checked; I had an A1314. I tried to open the cover. No good.

THIS CALLS FOR THE NARROW TOOLS. Got out the computer screwdrivers, which are impossibly thin, and cracked open the plastic cover. Ah: circuit board, screw, spring that connects the batteries. I pushed the screwdriver into the battery slot, hoping to dislodge the crusty battery. No good. Got a longer thin screwdriver, and huzzah: it popped it out.

Except it wasn’t a battery; what I had been looking at was the contact that connected the batteries to the circuit board. There was no third corroded battery. When the original two batteries tumbled out, that was it.

Now I had broken the contact.

“How’s it going?” wife asked. “You’re breathing heavily.”

“I may have to replace this one,” I said. “We’ll see.”

I unscrewed the screw, popped up the spring, stuck the contact back in, and added fresh batteries, hoping Bob was indeed my father's brother. It didn’t power on.

Huh. Dang. Well. Perhaps this screw I took out is crucial. So I replaced the screw, which wasn’t easy; only a small portion was threaded, and it took to the plastic grooves grudgingly, in a way that suggested I might get it out again but I’d never get it back in. A Seals and Crofts song: We May Never Screw This Groove Again. Wasn’t one of them the brother of England Dan and John Ford Coley? I think so. We’re they Baihai? I think so. Wasn’t it a pity that hai alai and BaiHai never got together to promote baiahia jai ahali! Indubitably.

No one says indubitably anymore, but spellcheck recognizes it. So there’s hope.

I affixed the screw and reseated the spring contact and replaced the batteries. Nothing. So . . . either the circuit board had failed, or I’d really pooch-screwed this while attempting a “repair.”

Then I looked at the diagram of the battery placement and realized I’d put them in backwards. I reversed the batteries, clicked the ON button:


Typed: the iPad responded.

“Fixed,” I said to Wife, gathering up my tools.

“Great! How’d you do it?”

Humble shrug. “Process of elimination.”


Man, that's just typical of you, kitchen. Typical.

This book assembles the types of metal kitchens you could get, now that Hitler was dead.


It would look small today. The metal doors probably got dented after a while; the hinges got tight. It looked archaic by the time the jet-age materials and hues came along ten years later. But for the time? Affordable beauty.

We'll look at four this week, just because it's something to do.






The sort of movie that used to come on the TV at 3 PM on Saturday afternoon on the low-power station:


You know you’re in for the Big Cheap:


If there’s a better American B-pic credit name than U. S. Anderson, I don’t know what it.




  The theme, which is full of dark fate, until it's not.


Let’s just enjoy the opening shots: Vegas, baby. The way it was.




Anyway, here’s the pitch. It’s a lam number. Here's our hero.


Richard Conte. He plays a demobbed Marine who hooks up with a cheap blonde in Vegas. She turns up dead. Cops think he looks good for it; he pulls a gun and legs it. A few miles into the desert, he hooks up with two frails making their way across the desert. Joan Bennett as an arch-butch Professional Woman . . .

. . . and she's transporting a model to a photo shoot:


Wandra Hendrix.

Her marriage, after a two year-engagement, to Audie Murphy was a disaster. The World War II hero suffered from traumatic stress disorder and was prone to fierce jealousy, yet slept with other women. He kept a gun under his pillow and also gambled away all of Wanda's money betting on horses. Despite breaking up after a year, she continue to love him and was devastated when he died suddenly in a plane crash in 1971.

Developed a drinking problem in the 1960s due to the few acting roles she was offered.

Divorced from her third husband in 1980, Wanda died shortly thereafter at age 52 of double pneumonia in Los Angeles. She had no children.

It’s the usual series of close scrapes at gas stations and hash houses, none of which would make sense today with the internet and helicopters. About halfway through there's a TWIST that's just ridiculous, and from that point on, you're just in it for the laughs.

They end up in the Salton Sea, a place I find fascinating. That's what makes the movie interesting: the Vegas that isn't anymore, and the last days of this doomed resort whose wikipedia entry includes details like "Gaseous mud volcano," which isn't high on most people's vacation attractions.



It’s flooded, and hence unlivable, but that doesn't stop our young lovers from an interlude:


Later someone falls in quicksand and confesses to CRIME within earshot of the policeman who was wounded in a shootout but he was only, you know, movie wounded. He hears everything and absolves the people we like and takes away the people we don't.

I'm not sure why this one had to be made, except someone really wanted to end a movie at the Salton Sea.


That'll do; see you around! It's going to be a great week. I just know it.


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