The picture above shows the KA block whose construction I detailed from pit-to-finish. The part on the left is the new stuff; the background is a condo on the edge of downtown. Shots like this make downtown look like Hong Kong, but we’re not that dense. It's something of a trick shot - step back half a block and don't crop the pix, and it's 93% sky.

Well, it's the usual Friday hodgepourri, so let's get started.

What’s your favorite gas station brand? I know, you probably don’t have one. I fill up at a place that has labored for decades to build a certain cachet - eco gas! Food galore! And I can’t tell you if it’s a SuperAmerica or a Holiday. I drove past it three hours ago. I’m pretty sure it’s a Holiday, but they’re indistinguishable in my mind, because both have a blue-and-red color scheme. Both are local.

  Well, the SuperAmerica brand is going away, replaced by Speedway. I’m not all that verklempt about it, except that the old logo is a piece of local history - unchanged for decades, and it has a tinge of Tomita about it. (By which I mean, what? I’ll leave that to someone in the comments.)

It's not the only familiar name we're about to lose. Sears is close to death, and there’s absolutely no one in America who cares. It’s fascinating. The people who swore by a few of their core brands are dwindling, and if they had any recent experience with them - Kenmore! Craftsman! - they realized that the old Sears solidity was long gone. They bought K-Mart, for some reason (I’m guessing real estate) ad that just down-marketed the brand even more, since K-Mart has been a joke for decades. Ask anyone under 50 what the K stands for, and you’ll probably get a shrug. Why should it stand for anything?

The last time I was in a Sears was in Fargo on pre-Black Friday, and it was hilarious: they had nothing. The biggest shopping day of the year, and the store was a dumpy jumble. No one thinks about Sears for anything. It’s the store you walk through to get to the rest of the mall.

Some say they could have been Amazon if they wanted, since they had the catalog market. The precursor to the internet. If only they’d . . . pivoted? Gone online? Embraced the Virtual? In some fantasy world where corporations are run by cut-throat types who command the heights of industry and bark commands to harried staff, perhaps, but in the real world these dinosaurs have so many built-in procedures they cannot adapt to a new paradigm, and there’s no upside to anyone in the company who cracks the glass and pulls the alarm.

It’s like Penneys, also in the same category, but at least Penneys tried something different. They remade some stores, went for open pricing without the constant churn of BS sales, nudged it all upmarket - and it all bit the wax tadpole. If Sears had tried to do the same thing, it would have spent billions and gained nothing, because the brand was tired.

Everyone is tired of Sears, but brands die from mutual exhaustion. They got tired of serving us first.

(PS The station down the street is a Holiday.)

Detritus! Crappy Link Chum from the Junk Internet!

Why wouldn't Magnum discuss his military service?

It’s really "stars who served in the military," so it's a lie. As for the Kid Bodybuilder - obvious photoshop. Doris Day? It’s really this: Famous Women of the 1980s: Where are They 30 Years Later? I got 23 pages in; no Doris. I bailed out because I'd taken a deep breath and held it, and was getting dizzy. Honest to Gott "Routinejournal," take a deep breath? Should I duct-tape myself to my chair so I don't fall over from shock?

So it's a lie. These ads lie all the time, and they don't care if you never come back, because X% are going to click even though they know it's a lie. Like me, but I do this as a public service to remind you that all of this stuff is junk.

  This linkchum had the old trick: look closer! Meaning, maybe you’ll see boobs! Or maybe someone dead! Like this guy, who obviously has a large parasite on his head.

What you get, of course, are the same old photos, except now they’re accompanied by text written by a seventh grader.

It's possible the copy is aimed at people who were 18 at the time, and have seen such steady mental degredation from a lifetime of recreational chemicals that they have to sound all the words out, their tongue lolling out of their mouth as they puzzle ove rhte tough ones.

Tap - est - tapester. EE. Tapesteree!



Below-ground work a few floors below street level.

It's an unassuming project, but it fills two parking lots, and that's a plus for downtown. Unless, of course, you want to park. Silly you! There's no parking anymore.


It's potpourri time!

They never did this again. Solution here.



Some cues from Dimension X, introducing . . . the star of the future!




Oh, you know her. Maybe.

Nancy's increasing status in Hollywood came to a virtual halt in the mid-1950s, after marrying renowned lyricist Alan Jay Lerner (who later wrote "On a Clear Day..." and "Camelot"). She abruptly put her acting on hold in favor of raising their two daughters and her career never fully recovered. While the couple divorced in 1957 and she decided to return full-time to acting, the writing was already on the wall. An actress' prime can be ruefully short; by the late 50s Nancy was perceived as too mature to now play the fresh-faced, girl-next-door type for which she was so identified.

Disney Studios came to the rescue, however, in the early 60s and gave her mid-career an added luster by playing Fred MacMurray love interest in both The Absent Minded Professor(1961) and Son of Flubber (1963). Her poise, charm and ever-animated appeal was absolutely in sync with the studio's squeaky-clean image, and adding just the right amount of feisty, feminine starch for the light slapstick happenings around her. Other Disney films she participated in included Pollyanna (1960) and Snowball Express (1972). She also made an uncredited cameo appearance in the Flubber (1997) remake starring Robin Williams.

Instead of the swank old sounds of Goodwill albums, this year we're going to share bad 1960s pop music. The second- and third-tier tunes.

1967. It's so odd the styles and combinations they thought would work.


"Okay, everyone, Take Five. No seriously, I mean that. Literally."




1953. Isn't it . . . isn't it always?



That'll do! Thanks for the patronage, and I'll see you on Monday.



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