Good Lord, that was a huge possum. Birch trotted out of the shed with the beast in his mouth and laid it down, and we pounced to get him away from it.

This does not go well. His inner cur comes out, and he’s quite snarly and snappy, and does not take any instruction on the matter. Took two of us to get him back to the house, whereupon he had a Milkbone and wagged his tail and smiled: hey, howzabout you? Nice day, isn’t it?

Wife was worried about the Poor Possum, but I figured he’d get up and run away as soon as the threat had passed. I’m not falling for that old trick any more. Sure enough, when I went outside, there was no possum. Which is good, because that was one big nasty ugly thing, and I didn’t want to dispose of it in my usual way - that is, get the shovel and put it over the fence, where “nature” can take its course, like a British movie comedy series. Carrion Feeding!

Sorry. Did I mention I watched a documentary on the Carry On movies in my room in London one night? You may say: you watched TV in your room in London? You didn’t go see the Mousetrap? It was right around the corner! No. And yes, I did. Watch TV. It was late and I was mixed up from jetlag, and I’d done what I wanted to do. Some people want to go see a show; some people just want to walk around the city, and I’m the latter kind. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a theater enthusiast, and can’t quite understand why you’d sit inside when you could be walking and looking. But, the art of the performance! I’ll give you that. But there’s the improv performance of the people in the streets, and the solid silent performance of the buildings. I passed this place in an Uber:


An ornate complex from the late 19th century, boiling with ornate stone - a commercial arcade behind the arches, trying and failing for a hundred plus years to make a go of it. More here, if you're inclined to study the details of a city in which you do not live. Excerpt:

That someone who designed it was architect R J Worley, with Sicilian Avenue built between 1906-1910. The name reflects the architectural style he used, a tenuous link to the eponymous Italian island. Rumour has it that it was the first purpose-built pedestrianised street in London. Very little is known about Robert Worley, or his fellow architect and brother Charles Worley, but their names hardly scream 'Italian'. Perhaps they never saw Sicily, let alone hailed from it. Perhaps London's 'Italian street' is a big lie.

There are stories on that street you can imagine. Decades of them. (It’s one of the reasons I like the Royle Family, I think - it’s a peek through a keyhole in a world with a billion keyholes.) Some of my happiest days have been spent simply walking in big cities, and at the end of the day it is a relief to have a drink at the hotel bar, go up to your room, and bask in some local programming. I guarantee that between the walk, the subway, the chat with the bartender and the stories on the local channel, I got more out of the city that someone sitting in a dark room watching a play in its 67th year.


Anyway, the Carry On movies were awful, but they did strike a chord with a certain type of population at a certain time, and can be seen as interesting cultural documents. The documentary treated them with more respect than they probably deserve, because everyone involved is now very old, or dead, and there’s nostalgia for the cheap sex-farce era because it was part of the salutary loosening-up of staid old culture. Eh. There was no great awakening. There was a board of censors who said “you can’t show that,” and then the rules loosened and you could, so they did. As usual, the loosening of standards was celebrated as the means by which art could flourish, but it was just an excuse to show boobs and get it off with a bird without worrying about marriage. What a relief! No downside there, lads.


Now, the Dept. of Miscellany presents . . .

It was a feature in Modern Mechanix, one of those men's mags of the 30s. Old census data puts Nic Sprank in Jackson, Iowa around 1918. That's about all we know, but it's better than most. I don't know if he drew the feature, but we do know that Modern Mechanix was based in Connecticut. That'll be relevant in a bit.


Maybe reverse the panels, so the explanation follows the assertion?

"How to illustrate this one?"

"I don't know. A giant and a whirlpool."

"But that's not what the fact says."

"A giant and a whirlpool."

Well . . . okay:

That's 5.4 billion miles. So 60 times would be 2.7 billion, 59 times 1.35 billion, and so on. I'll take his word for it. Seems fishy.


I've no idea, but I guarantee everyone who read it held their hands up to the light.

Here's the interesting thing, for me: Nic gave a dollar for every fact he used, and asked people to send them not to Connecticut, but to his office at 529 South 7th Street, Minneapolis, Minn.


I drive past it daily.




Thirty-eight thousand souls; has a big Anchor Hocking plant. The company was named for the Hocking river, which may have been named for a nearby town of Hockhocking. Native American (Delaware) word meaning "Bottle River." .

Let's see what downtown looks like.s

Well, I’d like to think it’s being rehabbed, but . . .

. . . if so, it doesn’t appear that the windows are changing back to their original size, and will remain cramped portals for brief peering.

Pat, I’d like to solve the puzzle:

What caught my eye, aside from the large and somehow ominous sign (YES THIS IS JOHNSONS SHOES NO IT COULD NOT BE ANYTHING ELSE WHY DO YOU ASK) was the cave they drilled in the building to make some display cases. It’s deep and dark; who’d wander in there to look at the new styles? Original stone, though - very much the perfectly preserved mid-century retail look.

The flour was Gold Medal, from Minneapolis. As for the other name . . .


A little googling turns up a Bauman building elsewhere in town, so I gather he was a mover and/or shaker, and while I’m sure there’s a mile of genealogical info to be found, it’s boring. It’s always nothing but begats. No one ever saves things like what he liked to drink, and whether he was known as a snappy dresser, or what book he preferred. Most everyone is lost, a few were photographed, fewer still left their names on the buildings, and an infinitesimal number of those ever come to life in a way we can appreciate.

Someone got a haircut:


“We’d like to reserve the third floor for people who like to crawl around on their belly.”

As for the rehab on the right, note the brick at the top - it looks like they filled it in. Once a department store or something equally important; now, a pawn shop.

“The Tower’s arrived. I think we got the wrong size.”



The Democrat? I’d say, newspaper.


About the building or the paper, I can find nothing.

“My got-damned twin brother always has to stand on tip-toe when we’re out in public together, and now he’s talking about building a structure right next to mine."


When you want to rehab, but frankly, there’s only so much you can do at this point:



“Calm down, calm down. No one will notice.”


A beautiful little post-office. That’s all.


Simple civic gravitas.

The turret is new; they replaced it a few years ago in a taxpayer-funded renovation.


The building was begun as an investment of two men, P.W. Bininger and William Schleicher. Bininger died unexpectedly on July 7, 1893, with about six months of work left to be done. His widow decided the building should be completed.

“Stop the project, I can’t bear to be reminded!” What else would she have done?

Finally: a nice little surviving bank, whose architect had one motto:


"Never let 'em wonder how to get in the place."


And now, Motels! See you around. Starts with a repeat, since there was an image / link problem last week.

THERE'S something new.


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