Right now it’s Friday. Coming up to Midnight. Snow and bombs falling.
The storm took all day to arrive. For most of the afternoon, it was phony war - some rain, some sleet, little piddly hail that fell on the metal roof of the gazebo like the sound of a hundred mice typing. On cute little typewriters! Aww.
Around 11 PM the wind picked up, and it wasn’t picturesque anymore. Now you could see the limbs falling on a powerline, or worse yet on the gazebo. If after all these years I finally got a sturdy gazebo, and it was destroyed by a fargin’ APRIL BLIZZARD I would be bereft. So I’m watching that right now while scrolling Twitter to see how the war is going. Someone said “so we’re at war again” and I thought, well, no; this is another front in a long campaign. A war longer than any other. We were fighting it before 9/11; just didn’t have the idea it was a war war. As I wrote elsewhere: Sixty years from now the speculative fiction won’t ask the question “what if you could go back in time and kill Hitler,” but “what if you could go back in time to Paris and kill Khomeini to prevent WW IV.”
At 11:50 PM I went out to the shed, which is full of spring-smelling garden stuff, and got the ladder. I’ll need it tomorrow to get the snow off the gazebo roof with the broom. For the first time I’m thinking “will I be able to get the car out of the garage to get the taxes?” Daughter just came downstairs to go running on the basement treadmill, picking up her headphones from the drawer.
“So there’s Syria,” she said. We had talked about this the day before. I showed her a Facebook page that translated an Arabic report of targets. This is what we did, perhaps. What we did not do was drop barrel bombs on civilians. The Russians did that. They seem to go out of their way to be bad guys sometimes, but no one hangs that around their necks - it’s as if they’re expected to be crude and brutal, but get a pass because people are impressed with the audacities of their lies, and also love Tchaikovsky. Everyone wants to love the Russians, no? Merry passionate Ivan! Do that dance with the legs kicking out, be charmingly drunk, quote poetry. Be that guy!
Or, you can be conspiratorial, paranoid, reclusive, wounded, apart, and mistake hate for respect. Okay. We’ll be over here inventing stuff and enjoying hamburgers. Drop us a line when your GDP is bigger than Texas’, and remember, that’s one state. We have 49 more.
The wind has stopped. Stopped dead. This storm system has done this all day: it hits us, then it backs off. The first few times you think it was overrated. After a while you think it’s just time in the corner between the bells.
Well, let’s hit weather twitter . . . not much. Minnesotans weeping. Let’s hit #resistance Twitter . . .
Trump to Putin: Dude, they’re onto us. Quick, you gotta do something! Putin to Trump: Okay, okay, relax. Lemme think …. I know! I’ll drop some chemical weapons in Syria, and then you can bomb Syria to distract ‘em
Makes you envious of people whose anal smug gland can spin a cocoon so quickly. I heard the President’s speech, and was unimpressed - the delivery was rote, distracted, and the tone wavered between the rhetoric of the house Speechwriter and the president’s own simple blunt strokes. Simple can be good, but when I hear the President speak in his most authentic voice it’s like someone dropping LEGOs on the carpet and thinking they built something.
After I took Daughter to work on Friday I laid down for a nap, and dreamed a strenuous scene. I was at her high school, walking around the huge dry swimming pool. It was something locals did for exercise. There was a man from the Nation of Islam holding a sign that blamed the Jews. Later in the walk I encountered a man with a grey close-cropped beard, wearing a suit, holding a sign with a swastika and remarks that blamed the Jews. I made another lap and spit on the ground as I approached both of them. I shouted - and I remember this, because I write all these things down as soon as I wake - Why don’t you walk in the same direction because you have one thing in common. Then I was sitting in the high school cafeteria, talking with Daughter’s peers about the men, and one said he had googled the NOI guy and he had some dank memes.
“I love the social,” he said, and showed me his phone: the Nation of Islam guy had posted lots of Spongebob Memes.
“Aren’t you supposed to be woke?” I snapped. I left the cafeteria and went out in the hall, where there were lots of adults milling around, waiting for an adult education class to start; I was appalled that they weren’t there to deal with the Jew haters walking in opposing directions around the dry swimming pool. And then I woke, wondering:
How much time?
When I wake from a nap before the alarm goes off, I usually have a pretty good feel for how long I’ve been under. Best case scenario: the phone face says two, three minutes.
The timer said 3 seconds. Ahh. A good Friday starts with a solid nap, and this was that. I got up, made a cup of coffee, wrote down the dream, cleaned the fridge, then picked up Daughter from work. Told her the dream.
You are literally dreaming about Twitter, she said. That is Twitter.
She has a point.
LATER It snowed all weekend long.
We don't have anywhere to put it anymore.
Well, you might be excused for not knowing Warren William, who was a wonderful 30s actor. Had a devil-may-care attitude, a charming grin, a crafty glint in his eye. It’s the “Lone Wolf” that may throw you. Are we supposed to know him?
Today, no. Now? They knew him. They’d known him for a while.
He was the prototypical, or perhaps archtypical, takes-a-thief-to-catch-a-thief character.
The Lone Wolf is the nickname of the fictional character Michael Lanyard, a jewel thief turned private detective in a series of novels written by Louis Joseph Vance (1879–1933). A large number of movies based on and inspired by the books have been made. The character also appeared briefly on radio and television.
So by 1940s, it was like reviving Sam Spade in 1990 - an old character with a long pedigree. The first Lone Wolf movie was made in 1917. This is the first in a series that started up in 1935; Williams was the third to play the role in the reboot. He was replaced by Gerald Mohr, who played the role for three films . . . then turned into Marlowe on the radio.
It’s a programmer, an hour or so - a quick bit of mystery fun. An old man is swindled out of his jewelry - which means we have to go to the well-known, universal sign of jewelry stores:
They always had theri name embodied thus. No other stores had this.
The grifter couple running the job react thus when threatened with exposure:
That’s our cue to introduce the Lone Wolf - who, throughout the series, was not alone at all. Series like these always have recurring characters, helping the reader settle unto the familiar pace of the story. First we have to meet Jameson the Butler, played here by Eric Blore, fussy, odd, almost erotically drawn to hte joys of criminality, and a bit crestfallen his boss went straight. He played the butler for many Lone Wolf actors, and was more of a mainstay than the Wolf himself.
He gave away some details because he was fooled by a pretty girl. And now he’s all annoyed, which requires him to mug and simper:
We meet another old jewel thief, and get a glimpse into the genial solidarity of the criminal fraternity:
Ah yes, honor among continental suave jewel thieves.
Let me put it this way: It’s a programmer that’s a notch above the worst of the genre. It’s all about stolen pearls and fake pearls. No one can tell the difference. Someone’s always offering the fake pearls as the real pearls, or swapping one or the other out, which suggests they have no intrinsic value.
Who do we have to blame?
He'd been in Hollywood for four years. This was his seventeeth picture. He was still a few years away from running afoul of those peculiar people who thought being a Communist was a bad thing. Fine writer; moral idiot.
That'll do; wish me luck digging out.