Something in my nature balks at renting a movie from the streaming services. That thing is small and cheap. The movies are always five, six dollars - and I know I can get it for half, at least, from the Redbox.

WHAT says the horrified modern. Redbox? Actual things you touch and have to put in and then when they’re done you have to take them out and then go somewhere to put them back?

YES says me, because I’m going to the store anyway. As much as the idea of “taking the movies back” dates me, and as much as I prefer to watch something without any sense of responsibility for the item and its protective plastic armor, it’s not that big a deal. Besides, once you give in and start renting them from the streaming services, you get used to it, and boom, there’s $20 extra on your account every month.

But. But, oh God, but how I wished I hadn’t rented from the Redbox, because it’s in the non-heated portion of Cub Foods, the transitional portal with the other vending machines and racks of useless free magazines and benches for people to sit in silence while they wait for the shuttle back to the home. The wind on Sunday was achingly arctic; the wind chill was 13 below. The machine kept rejecting my attempt to feed it the movie.

The act of trying to return a movie was literally painful. The wind was sticking its fingers down the back of my neck, my eyes were watering, and I was so damned miserable, cumulatively miserable, that I almost wished I’d spent an extra three dollars.

On the other hand, wife wanted some cherry tomatoes, so I would have had to go out anyway.

Not to drop any surprising revelations or anything, but I’m a bit interested in old images of American cities. I wonder how many people pass by this daily without pausing:

Okay. Third picture from the left. See that leeeeetle white jot in the lower right-hand corner? It's this:

I ran this past some people who know the old pictures, and this was a stumper. Until you spot them the ERS. Maybe TERS.

If you say "Three Sisters," there's a 1-500 chance someone will pick out the location. Which makes the building across the street easy! Except it's not, because most of the old pictures and postcards don't show the entrance in detail, like this.

Yeah, let's chisel that off and cover it up.

Down the street, you can see an unrelated man and woman standing on either side of an implied marital bed:

It's the Glass Block.

More about this block can be found here, of course.

Let's look at another picture from the wall.

It’s all gone.

As much as I love the IDS and Wells Fargo tower, I miss the enormous bulk of the NW Bank. It wasn’t torn down - it burned, thanks to two hoopleheads who set it on fire for fun. The other buildings aren’t particularly distinguished.

But they're necessary. The street profits from having small, human-scaled individual buildings with lively signage and varied uses:

Next door:

The mysteries of the second floor! You know they were crammed with stuff that went back 50 years.

The photo is like something out of Blade Runner; I keep enhancing and zooming, and new things appear.

What's playing at the Pantages?

Can you figure it out?


Remember this feature? We never met Bela Lanan himself. We never will.

This was a daily feature, with the solution on Saturday. We'll do it the way they did it then - one entry per day, with the expectation that you'll be following the story.

Every day, with the solution on Friday.



One of those titles that tells you nothing, except where you might write for a refund.

It's a fight pic. These either trace the rise and fall and arise of a pugilist, or use his defeat as a springboard for another hard-luck story.

Begins with a bout.

The punches are oddly ineffective:

It ends poorly for a fellow we assume we're going to follow for an hour and a half.

We advance to the present, where Ernie - that's our hero's name - is watching a TV rebroadcast of “great bouts of the past.” His wife -

. . . has absolutely no time for him, and can’t understand why he wants to watch an old fight when his luck went south and his life changed forever. Eat your chop.

It’s clear his wife hates him and wants out, and is probably cheating, or will soon. He’s a decent guy who drives a cab and is trying to put some money away to buy a gas station. She scoffs. Two-bit dreamer.

Well, we meet this guy . . .

. . . and he’s ogling the wife. Sure enough, ERnie catches them smooching while he drives his cab past his house, and wouldn’t you know they come out to get a cab and it’s HIS!

So he goes off in a blind rage, because he’s a blindey-ragey kinda guy, but after he cools down he goes back to the drugstore where the nice gal who's sympathetic says . . . well, she just killed a guy.

It's a bad night all around.

There’s more, and I’m compressing, and it doesn’t matter since we’re here for the look & the feel. It’s a good, lean, well-shot little movie. The guy the nice girl killed was a grubby-grabby theatrical producer, and her description of the event - one long take in close-up - makes you wonder what happened to her. (And man, does that scene have a twist that just pulls the movie out from underneath us.)

Oh, look who’s here:

Mr. Atoz. who was born 85 years old Anyway: it’s basically one night in the life of a guy who’ s in a really, really bad mood.

And it’s quite good. What follows is just a gallery of pure noir images.

Some inadbvertant documentary. "Night at the Opera" is playing at the Gotham. That movie played in 1935. Re-released, I guess.

What was the Gotham? I've never seen that before.

Okay, well, there's a few ways we can reverse engineer this. (Checking cinema . . . no help.) (Let's run the word and movie title through . . . 100,000 results) (Maybe the obsessives at imdb have something: ah. Reference to the theater's address, which throws us back to It was the Central, renamed in 1944.

From the streets of New York to the backlot of California.


If this is the way your evening is going, you're stuck in a noir loop of murder and betrayal.

If you're in a joint where this guy's eyeing your dame, move along.

If your wife looks like this and works a flower shop and comes home in a bad mood, you're not long for the marriage.

If this is where your entire life has taken you, and it's midnight . . .

Hope you got a gat.

That will do. Big news to come tomorrow, site-wise - the Gnat Thanks and something added, no charge. See you then!



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