I didn’t have anything else for a banner picture except Blunt State Power, because the world is still ugly. Warmer, though - 63! Sunnier, yes - the sun is where it will be in the late-middle of August. But the snow floes linger, the trees haven’t budded, it’s mud and grit everywhere. All of this will be forgotten in a fortnight when the trees outside my window start to blossom. I remember the first spring I lived here, and discovered that two trees bloomed - one pink, one white. It was such a delight, and it’s been the sign of spring ever since.

So, so . . . weekend. Right. Well. Lots of work, rote work, busy work, keep-the-mind-occupied work. Wrote a few peppery things you’ll see tomorrow and Wednesday. Ate sushi for supper yesterday, added too much wasabi, vaporized my nasal follicles, so they’re going to be useless for trapping germs. Is that what they’re supposed to do? Trap germs? Seems like trying planting redwoods to make an obstacle course for a mosquito. They’ll get through. At least the flu’s done around here, and once again I didn’t get it.

Because I got the shot! Right? Maybe. It probably has more to do with touching any public surface with my sweater sleeve or coat cuff. You have to remember the other rule: NEVER TOUCH YOUR FACE. If possible, scratch your nose with your elbow. Better to wear a helmet with the wind shield down, just to be safe.

We had final orientation for the Daughter Removal Program on Saturday. As I mentioned before, the high school is pure 70s. Even if you didn’t attend one of these, things like this make you feel as if you’ve been shot back several decades.

The pointlessly broad thick wood was a standard of the era, as were the holes on the wall: that's where the concrete was pumped in. Authentic!

There’s a mural on the wall to inspire the kids to make amplified demands:

It's not an image I'd chose to suggest knowledge is important, since it seems to suggest the student knows all she needs to know.

The exchange program speakers talked about the crazy situations in which they’d found themselves while abroad, and the necessity of clear thinking and good judgment. So there we were in Paraguay, and the bus driver dropped us off at the edge of town and said he'd go no more, and put out luggage on the street! What would you do?

NOT GET IN THE SITUATION WHERE YOU'RE STRANDED IN PARAGUAY is running through my head, but I'm Mr. Boring McSafety, and hence have no tales to tell of South American adventure.

There were another set of alumni and host families to drive home the fact that your child will regard the new family as prettttty much the equivalent of you, for a while. And I suppose that’s good, inasmuch as you don’t want your kid to feel unconnected in a strange place without an attentive authority, but right now I’m imagining New Brazilian Dad as Raoul Julia, debonair and witty, expertly grilling a steak while tossing off lines of poetry from a beloved writer - the man who captured the soul of Brazil! Our forests, our passion, the complexity of our hearts - and then splashing a jot of wine into a glass. Drink! Here in Brazil we live! Hand me that guitar, so that I may crouch over it, tuning it, with the pensive concentration of an artist. This is a song I composed myself which was also handed down from my father, and his father before him. It is the song of a simple man who cannot pay off the official to get clean water to his house. If you weep, you will know what it means to be Brazilian.

i much more interesting than Minnesota. That’s the other thing - we’re told that your child will not only be Different upon returning, but might tend to get angry because we just don’t know. Seriously: you might be upbraided for taking hot showers for granted, or being able to flush toilet paper instead of putting it in a can for later disposal because the sewers can’t handle it. Like it’s my fault a cultural disposition for lassitude and institutionalized corruption means civic projects are half-assed.

In other words, culture shock when they return to their own culture. Just as they get homesick while away, they get homesick when they come back - and then, after a month, they’re off to college!

So next summer will be fun.

Going off to college was something I accepted as the Normal Course of Events, Alas - but at least she’d be home for Christmas, and possibly Thanksgiving. Right? Strained reassertion of old norms as if nothing had happened, happy feelings that everyone was together again, a few moments when it seemed like nothing had changed and all was normal, and then BANG it was over, and you waited for the next ration. Summer! It’ll be good. Next year. It’ll go fast.

It all goes fast these days, he says, whistlin' and grinnin'

[internal screaming]




Having previously stepped in and taken over, there's not much left to do but . . .

As noted before, jewelry stores always had a physical manifestation of their name:

It’s only a few minutes into the story, and - well, how did it come to this?

They were chasing a cat that stole some pearls. That picture tells you everything about what you’re going to see - light tone, with expected familiarity. We’re supposed to regard these two with amused familiarity.

When they chased the cat to a bank, they triggered an alarm that drops a heavy grate over the door. So if someone wandered too close to the bank, they’d possibly be killed and the bank would have a lawsuit. Ah, the good old days when lawyers weren't so opportunistic Anyway, all is cleared up, and The Lone Wolf has some banter with the Police Detective Nemesis, who bets him he can’t stay out of trouble for 24 hours.

The police evidently regard the Lone Wolf as a criminal, even though he’s obviously on the side of good now, but gosh, they hate to admit how he gets results.

Anyway, the cops send one of their guys to shadow the Lone Wolf, and he’s spotted and humiliated right away. I love the way Warren Williams plays this.

The address is mentioned for a reason.

Now we go to the second set of characters who’ll advance the plot, and hello:

He’s an inventor, and he picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue. You know that the invention is going to be stolen, and the Lone Wolf will be involved. We get a look from the window of the hotel where Lloyd's staying:

That tells us exactly where they shot this. You can make out the marquee, so it was shot from here:

It’s the Nine & Broadway Building, a real beaut. Finished, alas, in 1929 - and it has that ’29 vibe all the way.

The action soon shifts to a train, and there’s nothing quite as trying as a run-of-the-mill train adventure. Everyone’s dashing in and out of small rooms. But that’s the second act. Why are they on a train? They have to find Lloyd Bridges, who invented a new kind of armored door used to protect high-value cargo. The crooks want to use him to open the door and steal everything. On a train.

Which would seem to be like stealing something on a plane or boat. There’s the whole problem of getting the stuff off.

An hour and change. Notable only to watch Warren have fun. He should have been bigger, and you wonder if it ate at him - or whether he was happy to get the work. So he's known for playing a certain type exceptionally well in small movies, and remembered for his breezy charm in B-level joints. Worse fates can befall a man.


The last week of April begins, and I think you'll enjoy what's to come. If not, there's Facebook. ;) See you around.


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