Saturday I had to run to Walgreens for some pain medication. Wife threw out her shoulder playing tennis, and since the shoulder bone’s connected to the next bone, the next bone also being connected to the (beat) skull bone, NOW PRAISE THE WORD OF THE LORD. Everything in her upper back parts was out of sync, and hurting.

As I was going for the door there was someone else approaching the door from a different angle, and you know how you mentally calculate speed and trajectory and decide whether to hang back a step or give your pace a turbo boost? He seemed to hang back a sec, and I took this hesitation as permission, and went through the door first. Felt a little self-conscious, but hey, it’s the drug store; perhaps I really, really needed something quickly.


"Do you mean Immodium-D, sir?"


Anyway, I hear my name, and what do you know: it turns out I cut off a Bleat reader. (Waving at you! Decloak in the comments and share your side of the story.) I had to explain that I didn’t mean to cut him off, but I’d made one of those on-the-spot command decisions. So - damned - Minnesotan, I suppose. Well, I rambled on and on about stuff coming up on the site, because my head was full of the work I’d done the previous hour, which is for the 2019 updates.

How often are you thinking about your hobby and someone comes up to you in the store and thanks you for your hobby? It’s an odd life. But I love those moments. Just a warning: what begins with nice chat often ends with you checking your watch. Hey sorry pal, just came in for, for some immodium, you know?

"Oh? Immodium-D? Let's walk over to the aisle and I'll tell you about the 2020 motel updates!"

Right now it's Sunday afternoon, and I’m in my dressing room. My bountineire matches my tie.

The third concert of the season. Sigh; routine. Show up, park in the reserved spot, get someone to pin on my flower, stow my gear in my dressing room, walk to the backstage area and say hello to all the faces old and new. We have been doing this for two decades. When it began I was living by the creek, and the appearances were BIG DEALS that required some gumption and came freighted with trepidation. It’s a big barn, after all.

Now it’s punching the clock. Now, for some reason, I feel completely confident - indifferent, really - about addressing this room with every seat filled. How do you get to the point where you’re not nervous appearing at Carnegie Hall? Practice, etc. Also the liberating understanding that no one is there to hear me speak, and the shorter my words the better.

It’s a constant, and my life is full of constants. Including the thrice-a-year Bleat where I say what I just said above.

Except! This was different, thanks to a happy accident. At one point I had to introduce a speaker who gave an award, and when she was done I went back out to introduce and explain the next piece. I was halfway across the stage to the mike and stand when I realized . . .

the script was gone

The previous speaker had taken my script. By the time my brain registered this it was too late to go back, see if it was still backstage; some sort of combination of horror and confidence just made me sail right up, turn the empty music stand around and announce this was the part where I introduced the next piece, but she’d taken my script.

Best laugh I’d gotten all day, so let’s just vamp and milk it, based on what I remembered about the piece. Worked better than if I’d had a script. It's just fun when you're comfy up there and the audience is with you. Twenty years ago my knees would have been knocking hard enough to wear through my trousers.

So, great time had by all! Merriment. But.

Since it was the last concert of the season, the seniors wore red carnations. I have noted this to the audience for 21 years, leading applause for the students as they head off to their next adventure, but this year, of course, Daughter is a senior - and I suddenly knew what all the other parents had been feeling over the years. By "knew" I meant a scene in a funny backstage movie where a sandbag lands on someone's head.

The second orchestra played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and a student sang it with heartbreaking clarity. When I went out afterwards I grabbed a box of tissues by the door and waved them around in case anyone needed them. Ha ha! Joke. But not entirely. Not at all.

Other than that, how was the weekend? Well, circumstances on Friday required a frozen pizza - ask not, and judge not - and when I opened it up I had the sudden impression that David Brent had just told an offensive joke at the Office party:

What? Oh come on




It's like the 60s song, no? Skyyyy Murder! How high can you DIE

Why "new"? Would they try an old Nick Carter adventure? Oh yes. But we'll get to that. First, the action: two tough looking guys have a car accident; they hear sirens, which means coppers, and one of them plugs the other and takes it on the lam. The cops look at the fliers scattered around the wreck:

The movie was made in 1940.

Nick Carter started fighting crime around, what, 1886?

But we’ll get to that. Anyway, the fliers are the work of a Fifth Column gang who's following the orders of a Foreign Power the movie can't quite bring itself to identify. It’s brought to the attention of the FBI and soon a Senator is on the case. The Senator calls a guy who says he has a guy who’s coming into town to help, and then the guy starts talking to a girl he met at a fashion show.

We’ve moved from murder scene to DC to rich-guy’s office to flirting in 32 seconds. They did not mess around when it came to the programmers.

Then we meet Nick Carter.

Walter Pidgeon. And we meet Bartholomew, his aide! His Jenkins to his Lone Wolf. All debonair detectives need comic-relief sidekicks.

This guy was born to play Scoop, wasn't he?

Well, Nick bursts into a room full of Dames:

Remember something about a beauty pageant? Fifth columnists? Never mind. They need to get pretty women in the first ten minutes, preferably lounging around in a monochromatic setting, so that box’s been ticked. After we meet seven rich men in suits and have another scene with giggling fashion girls, we end up talking to the Senator.

Back in the days when they all smoked. So they want Nick to find the Fifth Columnists - but no one calls them Nazis.

Because it’s 1940.

I have to tell you: I am instantly bored with this one. LET’S GET TO THE SKY MURDER.

Someone gets stabbed while the plane is in the air, which ought to narrow down the list of suspects, but no. Everyone goes back to the house and sits around until there’s some more action.

There’s another attempted SKY MURDER later.

So yes, there's attempted sky murder, and pretty girls, and Nick Carter played like he's Lone Wolf type. So?

Well, that's for Friday. Don't google. I'll give it to you straight, with an example of everything that's B-grade about the 40s.



That'll do; May awaits.


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