The next few days will be scant, as I have things to do and not enough time in which to do them. Do you believe that? You probably shouldn’t. It’s not as if anything I do takes a significant amount of time to complete, except for novel writing and parenthood, and I can put the first aside for a while. The second is just a constant job, like long-distance driving. Some times you can put on the cruise-control. Sometimes you have to brake carefully to avoid a skid. Sometimes you have to pull over, get weighed, show your papers, and get out the log book to indicate you’re sleeping the Federally mandated amount -

Well, no, I took that one too far.

What can be said about the last week of March, anyway? It’s cloudy and damp, and feels surly and sullen. The month’s flown past. I’m looking forward to warm rain. A month of warm rain would be fine, in this mood.

No, no, not helpful. Think Colman’s Mustard. Remember the Colman’s Mustard Moment.

I think I’ll tease out the explanation for that phrase over the next four months, then drop it when it has the weight of Gilbraltar. Why, I might even make it into a Bleat-Only Meme, or BOM.

Okay, I’m rambling.

I wrote that at work, then went home to find Birch had saved the family from the grave peril presented by a throw pillow:

He was full of vim today, and insatiable as ever. He is in a meat coma now, though, deep asleep on his bed, legs still. You wonder what they dream about.

I wrote the following this morning in my Dream Compendium; it's all accurate without embellishments.


I had done a TV show, and it had gone well; they said they’s be happy to have me back, so I showed up the next week with all sorts of ideas, one of which was a parody of 1960s British TV spy / adventure shows, and featured a solemn boy detective. (I would play this role.) I would be followed around by nuns on tall bikes who wanted to help, but ended up making things worse. I thought it would just be smashing.

I knew I was taking a chance just showing up and expecting to be on TV, and knew right away I’d made a mistake. The producer displayed the minimum amount of good manners and assurances that we would all work together in the future, then told me that the Empire State Building was giving free impressions of its logo on any pancake, but you had to supply the pancake. He noted it would work on a crepe as well. He seemed certain this would get rid of me.

Then I was walking in the old dog park, and came across my wife arguing with a couple. She insisted that their dog was ours. Indeed, he looked identical to Scout. I asked the man when they got the dog, and he said “May,” which settled it. I walked on, and for some reason I was in the car with Daughter and Birch in an old amusement park set in a residential neighborhood with many valleys and hills and spots for dogs to roam free. I couldn’t find Birch, and figured he had run off.

Thought: I really can’t blog about this. No one would forgive me.

I went in the woods, down to the place where we’d seen the dog who looked like Scout, and then I thought I should go down by the river, where there was a large assortment of pinball machines in an old decaying wood structure. Needed quarters, so I went to a store to exchange bills for quarters. The clerk asked if I needed any stamps for collecting.

“Had enough of Magyar Posta in my youth,” I said, and he was impressed. Then I was home, walking past Daughter’s room; called out for Birch and he sprang from the closet, where he’d been all along. He was happy to see me, and gave me a hug, and I woke with the image of a pink nose in my face.








If you enjoy Scandinavian noir, you know the basics: grim troubled hero-cop who doesn’t say much, but drives around and frowns. The official settings are monochromatic, the women are grimly efficient and super-competent, the men are often at sea - literally, I guess - and everything’s surprisingly dour for a part of the world that ranks high in happiness.

I came to the genre in the 80s when I read the Martin Beck books, and I can't believe they haven't ramped up another series for Netflix. The last attempt was made in 1997. The Amazon summary is just . . . not right.

He's got no style, no flash and he's squarely in middle age. But Swedish detective Martin Beck is good at catching criminals so that they can be put away for a long time. His tightly-wound partner is his opposite: an impulsive man who never met a boundary he didn't cross. It's good cop/bad cop, and together they bring down criminals in the seedy Stockholm underworld.

No no no. His partner is more outgoing, but Kollberg is not a bad cop, and he’s not tightly wound. The actor playing Beck:

No no no. Beck is probably gaunt; he’s always sick. Kollberg’s the one with excess weight.

Hold on . . . googling . . . Criminey Joseph. The partner, the bad cop - well, wikipedia says he’s “Gunvald Larsson (this series completely omitted the character of Kollberg)

That’s insane. It makes the entire enterprise useless. As I’ve mentioned before, the authors of the series were political idiots, and concluded the whole thing with making Kollberg advocate for Communism, but he was one of the more interesting characters in the series. As was Larsson, but not for reasons the authors may have intended. Gunvald is the cliche reactionary detective: big, hairy, not quite bright, fond of guns. But he’s also absolutely necessary, and he also brings energy to scenes that would otherwise consist of weary socialists sitting around staring at the peeling paint on the police department’s window frame.

Anyway, the new show is Borderland, and the main cop MIGHT BE GAY. Okay Ep 2 DEFINITELY GAY. But it’s played as something furtive and shameful, as if . . . it’s not okay in Norway? Even among cops? Especially among cops, who are usually shown as mostly young and enlightened, rolling their eyes at the old mossbacks? Odd. Perhaps he’s trying to keep it from his father, who is a character that appears in every Scanda noir I’ve seen: the old-but-vigorous man living in a rural area by himself, by his own rules, in a cottage full of manly things. He drinks and falls asleep and the son is Worried but he is also Worried about The Case.

It’s twisty and not entirely by the numbers, so I’ll stay with it. Because I love the genre.

UPDATE: It got very twisty, but not in the sense we usually expect. It kept twisting in on itself

By the way, I started watching the second season of “Occupied,” a terrific series about a soft takeover of Norway by Russia. First few minutes of the show: I HAVE NO MEMORY OF ANY OF THESE PEOPLE




It’s 1947. From Billboard magazine, a selection of back-of-the-book black-and-white ads for things the normal average person didn’t know about:

It has the Coradio National Slug Rejector Unit, too.

I used to work for KSTP. If there was any fish-related branding, it had passed by the time I got there.

I just don’t get the fish thing, but apparently it had to do with the Promotions Plaque added to the Showmanagement Plaque.

An industry term you might not know at first:

But think about it. A carnival attraction. Dark Ride. Meaning? The tunnel-of-love type rides where you sit in the dark and move through a tunnel and see things, which may or may not be frightening.

A bit off-putting, knowing that your popcorn stuff comes from a REFINERY:

And the name sounds like a skeezy clown.

You could get a model train car with one of their tanks! Yes, popcorn oil hauled in enormous train-car tanks.

Muncie, the red-hot Gay Games makers:

Muncie Novelty is still around:

Muncie Novelty was founded by Ted Broyles, the grandfather of current president David Broyles and vice president Megan Jones, in 1937 in downtown Muncie, Indiana. With his practical business sense and dedication to serving his customers, Ted found success in the production of jar tickets for gaming.


Drink-o-Mat with Cooler-Carb!

I assume this was one of, if not the first machine that served a cup of cold Coke - but did it have crushed ice? That would have been a lot to ask in ’48.

Competition: the Ex-Cell. You owe it to your future to see this.

Two at once! No more customers standing in line, annoyed, because they had to wait 15 seconds for Coke. They can have Root Beer RIGHT NOW. Unless they want Coke.

Whoo-boy, you can smell the enormous R&D investment and the hundreds of balky, complex, hard-to-maintain units, can’t you? Not that they would actually smell. Unless the wiring shorted.

Look at the size of this thing. It was a coin-op TV, and a juke box. The article linked above said few were sold. Bars that put in TVs and didn’t charge - up front, anyway - got all the business.

The Harmonicats, ladies and gentlemen.

The picture above is exactly correct.

Does that sound familiar? The way the accordion attacks the note at the start? Does it make you think of any TV show?

Am I right, or am I right? (I’m not; different group.)

A forgotten jukebox company, and more:

A little history for a forgotten name:

The Mills company, located in Chicago, famously known for their slot machines, was founded as the M.B.M. Cigar Vending Machine Co. by Mortimer Birdsul Mills in 1891. In 1887 The Owl, a mechanical slot machine was introduced and became a great success.

In 1889 Mortimer sold part of his company to his son Herbert S. Mills and the company was renamed to Mills Novelty Co. They began to produce coin operated machines like electric pianos and the first self-playing violin with piano: the Violano-Virtuoso.

Many pictures of the Mills jukeboxes at the link.

You’re thinking, perhaps: a self-playing violin with piano?


Holeeee crow.


And we think we're high tech.

There you have it; some merry adventures from Scoop await. See you tomorrow with much, much less. Sorry! All explained on Friday.



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