That’s the Mall of America up there, all tricked out for our Super Bowl week. Bold North! That’s how we’re branding ourselves. On Saturday I went to the MOA to get my press credentials, and was expecting a long line; people who went on Friday said it took forever. The press room was empty. Sailed right in. Metal detector, of course: I could have brought a weapon. Make that all access if you know what’s good for you, pally. The laminated credential was attached to a plain black rope, and I marveled at the lack of branding.

“It seems like a missed opportunity,” I said. “There could be a soft drink or a content provider or at least an NFL logo.”

“Yes, well, times are tight,” said the guy behind the desk. Which made no sense. If times were tight, they would have sold the space, no? What’s the opposite? Loose times? “We had fourteen bids for branding on the lanyards! Man, times are loose.” Everything is branded. Besides, in general, times are not tight. I’ve seen tight times. These are not tight times.

Perhaps he didn’t know what to say. I understand. All of my clerk interactions for the rest of the day seemed off. When the clerk said I had saved $24 at the clothing store because they had a promotion, I said “Yee-hoo.” I meant to say Yee-hah or Whee-hoo but I said Yee-hoo, which is wrong. When another clerk gave me two receipts and said “With you, or in the bag?” I said “There are two! Why not both?” and he stared at me as though I’d thrown up pages from a Sanskrit phrase book on the counter.

Last Friday I discussed the different types of wrapping material, and while I know you were all spellbound and wondered if there could possibly be anything more to such a perfect story, there was. Oh, there was indeed. When I upstairs to post the entry, I discovered that the font code in the Sears 1976 pages was incorrect, so I had to copy & paste from some other pages, preview it, clear the cache, preview -

And I heard the door downstairs bang open. It connects the kitchen area to the rest of the house; I’d shut it so no ice-machine noise woke up my Wife. When I went downstairs Birch was sitting on a rug in the living room, looking nonchalant. When I turned the corner I saw aluminum foil and Cling Wrap on the floor, and NOTHING ELSE. He had gotten the entire loaf of banana bread off the counter and eaten it.

The loaf was about half the size of his entire body. He was literally about 42% banana bread now.

Daughter heard me admonish him, and rushed down, expecting exactly what happened. She berated him, shook the aluminum foil at him; he seemed to grasp that he was in a bad odor around these parts, but probably didn’t know why. I know dogs don’t feel guilt, and react to your posture and tone, but I also remember that Scout knew exactly what he had done after he’d eaten something he shouldn’t have. Once I found an empty plate on the counter and took it upstairs to find him; he was sitting on the bed, and I simply held out the plate. He looked away. He got up. He left. He went to the back door and wouldn’t look me in the eye.

Birch has no such shame.

So I said I’d go to the grocery store in the morning to get more bananas, since she’d intended to take the bread to a party Friday night. Daughter said: what if they’re not ripe? Then I’ll go to Cub. I still felt responsible, even though she hadn’t put her baking away. Apparently when I said I would wrap it up I assumed responsibility.

So 25 minutes before the Friday podcast I go to the store. Then I go back in the house because I didn’t have my wallet. Where was my wallet? Well, I had my phone and watch, that would be enough.

Imagine having that conversation with yourself 10 years ago.

At the store: The bananas are very green. I found the least-green ones available, got a pizza, got some flavored water, picked up more flour just in case, and a few other items. Went to the cash register:


Oh MAN, come on come on. I NEED THESE BANANAS. But no go. So I drove to Cub - 12 minutes to air time - and the bananas on display were just . . . bright neon green. I mean, picked-this-morning green. So I got some plantains. They’re like bananas, right? It’s banana bread, who can tell.

The self-serve lane is closed off. Great. Went through the usual line, drove home, dropped off the plantains to find from dismayed daughter that no, dad, you can’t use plantains. I explained what I had been through in the last 20 minutes, and you know, you could have taken care of the banana bread -

“When YOU offered to wrap it up I figured you were taking care of the bread -“

Okay, I’m not in the mood for this. Dog is looking at us both, thinking: any more of that banana bread? Because that was delicious.

SUNDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Birch ate three bagels and several pieces of bread left on the counter. He also his broke his two-week non-barf streak, tossing up a goulash of chicken and vegetables that bore no resemblance to anything we have had in the house for a week. We don't know where it came from.

He also decided to pull my Bose noise-cancelling headphones off my desk and chew the ear cushions. For an hour I searched the house for the missing ear cushion, convinced he'd eaten it, and would suffer intestinal blockage. Wife had found it earlier and thrown it away. When I learned that, I was relieved. Oh good it's just ruined headphones, not surgery.



So it’s London?

I’m unsure. IS IT LONDON?

Yes, I guess it is. The Trailer:

Julia Ross:

She goes to an employment agency, and takes a job as a secretary - assistant to a nice old rich lady with your basic dissolute, arch, bitchy, self-loathing son:

The great George Macready.

You know, though, I’m not sure they’re on the up-and-up. Anyway, she goes to their house, settles in, goes to sleep in London - and wakes up in a matte shot, which never bodes well.

She wakes up pretty damned intact, but so everyone did in the movies of the era.

Everyone calls her by a different name. They say she’s married to Mr. Hughes, but they’re gaslighting her big time. You’ve had an attack! Of nerves. Just nerves. That's supposed to settle everything, including your nerves.

A scheme like this requires everyone in the family to be a good actor. I mean, Larry Olivier-level. The scheme also depends on isolating her from anyone who would believe her, and the director does a nice job framing all the shots to remind us she's the outsider, the victim:

Movies like this require the heroine to go mad at some point and believe she’s mad, or to behave in a way that “normal” people would regard as proof of insanity. That’s the delicious, terrifying thing. You don’t know if everyone’s in on it. You don’t know if you could make a convincing case for your sanity.

That's it. I'll say no more. It's a little more than an hour long - and it's one of the best little B-movies of its era, because it knew what it wanted to do and did it with style and economy. If ever you see it coming up on TNT: hit record.


There you have it. Get ready for SUPER BOWL THINGS.



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