I chose this banner months ago, when I laid out the site for the year.

Has a somewhat different message now, doesn't it? Or am I looking for that damned thing everywhere? I mean, I'm not, but sometimes you stop, and say "oh. That thing."

It finally happened: Birch went through a fence door someone forgot to close.

He just sat by the gate, outside, and bauw-woawed at someone across the street, but otherwise he just sat and waited. Daughter had taken a late-night walk and came home to find himself sitting outside. Wagging tail, hello you, can you give me some food? Hey great

What was interesting to me was my lack of surprise: when I’d heard him bark I had suspected the sound was a yard away from the back fence door, but dismissed it. The brain knows things at a level below your floating assessment of the situation. It had presented to me a sound and a location that meant the dog was out, but since this was unlikely, I discounted it. But the sensory array in my head knew.

Later, it saved my life. See, I had to drive for pizza on Friday because of Biz-Ingo.

I had to go to Galactic Pizza. Previously I had avoided this place because the vibe from the ads was so spectacularly twee (we deliver in superhero costumes!!!!) but they were giving away Biz-Ingo cards. See, it’s Bingo, but you can’t say it’s Bingo, because that is gambling, I guess. People picked up the cards at participating stores, then played Bingo - sorry, Biz-Ingo online.

We lost.

I was doing a Zoom event at the time, so I couldn’t play. But Daughter assured me that everyone had a fine time and it was nice that people made so many helpful and positive comments in the Facebook feed, all in support of our local restaurants. As I said, I’d gone to Galactic to pick up the Friday pizza, and they were reasonably busy. No one sitting down, of course; that’s DEATH. The pizza was actually really good, and I look forward to going there again, providing I can make it home without being killed. En route to Jasperwood with the pies on the front seat, some moron blew a stop sign at 40 MPH. I saw him coming, and you know how you just know someone’s not paying attention? The closer he got the less he slowed, and when he shot through the intersection I saw his head bobbing up and down to something on the radio. RAWKIN OUT

Laid on the horn, went through the intersection, looked to the right - he had slowed waaaay down, as if going 10 MPH would make it all right. Hey it averages out sorry man

If I’d been hit and killed the death would have been COVID adjacent, because Biz-Ingo was created to help restaurants weather the pandemic, and I had gone out specifically to get a card.

Saturday it rained, which was fine. Daughter and Rotaria made chocolate chip cookies - but only because I’d gone out for chocolate chips. I hate shopping on Saturday in normal times; now it’s both amateur hour and the people who have to wait for the weekend. Same store, OLB, aka Overpriced Lunds and Byerlys. Meat report: bounteous. Rice report: meh. Paper goods: TP, Napkins, Paper Towels. Latex gloves: lots . . . except.

A woman took five boxes. I would never upbraid someone for doing so; the Minnesotan thing to do is judge from a distance and hope the emanations of your penumbra trigger their shame gland. It made me think that the basic premise is Two, unless they say Four. The shelves with popular items ask people to take two, so everyone can have something. The meat department asks you to confine yourself to four items from the fresh meat department. Five boxes is one of those things that yells me-me-me, no?

Other important news from the grocery store: American innovation continues apace:

Because kids were just getting too jaundiced by the lack of unicorn options, and wanted some hard styrofoam nodule infused with sugar to be sprayed with a new array of colors, forming an unrecognizable blob that might be a unicorn, if the box said that’s what it was.

This was, for a moment, startling:

Then I realized it was for the Memorial Day, not the Fourth of July.

Whew. I don't expect to have much of a summer, but it would be nice if I saw it coming before it blew through the intersection.



Let's go waaay back to the early days of sound, shall we?

New Year’s Eve in a rich people’s mansion. It always ends like this.


At the end of each year, the extremely wealthy but odious Greene family gets together at the spooky old family castle to establish terms of a will, though they despise each other. This year, they start being mysteriously murdered one by one, and the police use Philo Vance to examine the clues and suspects.

Here we have to stop and talk a bit about Philo Vance, the characted Raymond Chandler called "the most assinne character in detective fiction."

Every era has its Private Investigator, and they always say something about the era. Wikipedia:

Philo Vance is a fictional character featured in 12 crime novels published in the 1920s and 1930s. During that time, Vance was immensely popular in books, movies, and on the radio. He was portrayed as a stylish, even foppish dandy; a New York bon vivant possessing a highly intellectual bent.

Perhaps he may best be described as a bored and supercilious, but highly conscious and penetrating, spectator of life. He was keenly interested in all human reactions; but it was the interest of the scientist, not the humanitarian.

What, exactly, is the appeal for the audience? In the case of the books, the reader would side with him, feeling smart and blithely unconcerned with the views of the pretentious, cossetted elite. When he's in radio or TV, it's different: we feel as if he's judging us, or would, if he got the chance. Perhaps we like to see him humiliate stuffed shirts, but - well, there's more.

He wore a monocle and gloves; he called people “Old thing” and ”old dear.” He smoked constantly and was referred to as a “sissy” by one antagonist.

Early in the book, as he is dressing, his friend Markham asks if he is planning to wear a green carnation, the symbol of homosexuality during the late 19th and early 20th centuries

Really? Well, there’s your lesson for today.

The author, Willard Huntington Wright, writing as S. S. Dine, had the Conan Doyle problem, but not so bad. He published under a pseudonym, because he was ashamed to be seen writing crime fiction. On the other hand, the books made pots of money.

Which might be considered a consolation, no?

Anyway, the work became formulaic and desultory, and the effete intellectual detective fell out of favor when the hard-boiled two-fisted dicks took over. His last novel, regarded as a failure in every sense, was the "Gracie Allen Murder Case," and had George Burns' wife as character. One of his previous books had been described by a critic as a "stitch in his literary shroud."

So who's going to play Vance?

It was William Powell's second turn, and he brings the smarts but not the Scarlet-Pimpernel sink me affectations. (Leslie Howard would have been perfect for the role, now that I think of it.) He did three, after which he pivoted to the Thin Man series, which means people already knew him as a detective - and perhaps, in a way, regarded the Thin Man character as a jaded straight version of Vance, the way the Prisoner was a reflection of McGoohan’s Danger Man.

That is the theory that is mine.

By modern standards it’s almost unbearably dull. There’s no incidental music; everyone stands around to make sure the microphones pick up their voices. It has Eugene Palette, gravel-throated as always and more raw and alive than anyone else, but it’s a typical early-talky movie.

I’ll give them credit for this: hell of a shot.


That'll do - more of a lesson than a B&W, but I run this joint and I make the rules, see? Right.

See you around. Wish me luck - I'm off to Southdale on Monday.

Yes. The Mall.




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