No, I haven’t left the house since Thursday, aside from a trip to the airport to pick up Daughter. She’s home from college, which is going “online” ha ha, and no, they won’t refund any dorm fees. She was also just in New York, so she probably has it, and will pass it along, and I’ll get it, and hey: I could die! Isn’t that an interesting twist to the whole parenthood story.

Unlikely, but it’s possible. We live in those times - by which I mean an era where over-the-top “I’m a doctor and we are going to see the system collapse by Thursday” tweets jostle with tweets about things that seem to be working and advances in vaccines, interspersed with inanities, stupidities, and full-strength poison from people who seem stunned to find that the systems in which they placed their trust for their entire lives were not, as it turned out, beavering away on their core mission.

“Hey, if we have a pandemic, and we have to switch to an online model, what will our pay structure be, and what will the codes for billing be?

“Good question. Let’s form a working group on this. Email all the stakeholders, each of whom will come with a set of objections designed to make them look important and concerned and knowledgeable, and when the group’s done we’ll submit the results to the task force, which will pass them over to billing, which will roll its eyes because it’s dealing with other things you just can’t imagine, but they’ll form their own working group and come up with a set of guidelines that either contradict our own or present a totally new set of barriers, or probably both. We should get this done by the end of the year.”

Wife has a different mindset; she went out on Saturday because the Rotary student is coming next Saturday and she wanted to replace the lamp. She did, indeed, get a lamp.

“Any food?” I said, toting up the stocks in a document that’s reassuring - four weeks on hand, assuming I don’t go back to the grocery store, which I will. “Any canned beans? We only have two cans of beans.”

She laughed, because we don’t eat a lot of beans, but when I saw we had but two cans I felt irritated with myself: should have bought beans. Why did I not buy the beans? Why do I have so much pasta? On the other hand, I like pasta. You know what would be an unhappy situation? Running out of pasta, and having to eat beans. Good thing I didn’t buy more beans.

Then I discovered my wife had bought a 900-lb brisket at Costco, and I nearly wept with joy. That thing will feed us for a week!

Meanwhile, I was texting daughter, to see if she got on the train at New York and was heading back to Boston. No response. Feeling a bit peeved. These are not normal times; heads-up, keep me in the loop, etc. Finally connected; she had just got a text from one of her cousins in Boston. That’s good - family backstop. She’ll get to the airport early, and while outbound shouldn’t be a problem I still imagine scenes from people trying to get out of Paris before the Nazis arrive.

Okay, that’s enough of that. Let’s think of something simple and abiding.

When the men came to install the new heating system they had to work on the pipes in other rooms, and they moved the marble tops from the wood screens that hide the radiators. A few days later my wife asked for help getting one back into place; something was keeping it from moving.

I found a small metal object that had fallen between the cover and the wall, and was preventing the marble from sliding forward.


How’d you get there, little guy? I knew what it was right away. What I didn’t know was how it had migrated to another room to the spot where I found it. Perhaps I put it there. I’m sure I put it there. I wouldn’t know what it was if I hadn’t had some experience with its original location, but why did I put it on the marble slab in another room?

A temporary resting place while I found a screw to put it back? Perhaps. But that was a long, long time ago. Ten years, perhaps. We’ve been at the house for almost 20, longer than I’ve lived anywhere else.

Anyway: here’s its counterpart.

It belongs here.

The metal button goes down when depressed, springs up when released. It was part of the house when it was first built, 105 years ago. It still works. This simple device has been performing its task for a century. Quite extraordinary, really.

When I get a small screw I'll put the part back where it belongs.



This is never a good sign, if you ask me.

The dreaded international production.

Opinions differ on this one. Some find hope and amusement. Others find it unutterably depressing.

I watched this because I'd seen "Stan and Ollie," a wonderful little movie about . . .

Ollie is huge.

The print I have is crap, so Stan looks like Keith Richard:

But even in better light . . .

Here’s the story behind it.

The production of Atoll K was riddled with many problems that caused the production to be extended abnormally. Ida Laurel, Stan Laurel's widow, told biographer John McCabe, "I'm hardly likely to forget the date we left for France and the date we returned – April 1, 1950, and April 1, 1951. But there was no April Fooling about that terrible year. That bloody picture was supposed to take twelve weeks to make, and it took twelve months."

From the beginning, there were disagreements on the film's screenplay. Laurel was unhappy with the storyline envisioned by French director Léo Joannon and insisted on bringing Alfred Goulding and Monty Collins to aid in the screenplay's creation (Alf Goulding received no on-screen credit and Monty Collins was credited with "gags"). There were also considerable problems in communications, since neither Laurel nor Hardy spoke French and Joannon spoke very little English.

During the production, the two comedy stars encountered serious problems. Laurel's pre-existing diabetes was aggravated and he developed colitis, dysentery and a prostate ulcer while on the French locations for the film. He eventually required hospitalization,  and his widow would later fault the quality of the French medical care, claiming that at one point, she had to substitute for an absent nurse by changing her husband's bandages. Laurel's weight dropped to 114 pounds, and for most of the production he could only work in 20 or 30-minute spurts.

Hardy, however, saw his already hefty frame expand to 330 pounds while in France, and he required medical care for cardiac fibrillation and the flu.

Here’s an example of how it looks, how it was edited, and how sad the damned thing is.

It's another week! But not just any week, is it. We'll be here for your home-quarantine / cautionary isolation needs. I will be releasing some stockpiled material to make your home-confinement more enjoyable. It means using up stuff I'd saved for 2022, but what the hell. Carpe diem.



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