We went out to dinner on Saturday.

At a restaurant.

Whoa whoa back up, what? Next thing you’ll tell me, someone in the household got a haircut.

That too. Wife got up and went to the salon at 7:45 to get in line, because we expect lines now for the most basic things. Everyone stood outside, six feet apart of course, duly masked, waiting to get in and get trimmed. She was happy. The most normal thing in the world was possible again. Different, of course, but at least it was possible.

Rotaria finished high school on Friday, in an anticlimactic sense. No ceremony, no fireworks, no rushing through the corridors of the school banging locker doors shut for the first time. It concluded with a class, online of course, in which she was the only student. The rest blew it off. The teacher said she had one thing more to do but if she didn’t want to do it, that was okay. Same with her photoshop class, which, from the sound of her recaps, did not actually teach photoshop. I ran through a series of questions about various tools and menus, and she had no idea what they were.

What did they teach you?

“On first day, teacher ask us question is ‘What kind of a horse are you.’”

Maybe they got around to “new document” after a few weeks.

Anyway, all her classes were like that at the end; more assignments than teaching, diminished participation, and As for everyone.

“What do you have to do to fail?” I asked.

She shrugged. “Do nothing, maybe.”


Online learning was a disaster. At least we learned that out of this. Not that it isn’t possible, but that the public school system seemed incapable of making it work, and in the end just threw up their hands and tossed As like confetti. Wasn’t the kids’ fault, you know.

To celebrate we went out to eat. I made a reservation at one of the restaurants that was open; roof deck, well-spaced, an hour maximum time so they could hose everything down with bleach, I guess. Realized I needed a cake, so I went online to the local grocery store’s website. They wanted 48 hours. It was 48 hours and 20 minutes. The “pick up” window was the problem: 48 hours out meant 8 PM was the last possible time for getting the cake, because that’s when they closed. But the last possible option for the start of the pick-up window was 7:30, which was inside 48-hour envelope. It simply would not accept my order.

So I sped off to the store, got there with five minutes remaining, and found a guy who wrote down the order on a pad of paper. Not as easy as an app, but bulletproof, because I knew that guy would do it.

Why? The store is built on things like that. Customer service. Guarantees. Follow-through. If you order a cake from them with specific instructions, that cake will appear at the promised time, and that’s that.

We still take that for granted. It reminds you how much stuff you took for granted.

Saturday comes; time for yard work. I did some more seeding, including application of some full-sun seed. Can’t wait to see what color this grass will be.

I know there's such a thing as bluegrass, but this ridiculous. This is the haircolor of an obessive Tumblr poster.

I’ve done so much planting on this spot. The ground is sowah! So I added new dirt. On the hill. It washed away. I put in sod. It died.

I’d give anything to know what this area looked like when it was wild. Much like it is, without the streets, because DUH, but how many trees? What wild flowers? What fauna on the forest floor? It wasn’t platted and graded until the early part of the 20th century; kids who lived ten or 15 blocks north passed by to go to the crick, talking about the Frank Reade Jr. story they’d just read. The days of real sport.

All of this is running through my head as I water and scrape and seed and rake and water, hoping that 17th time’s the charm.

At 5:30 we went to dinner. Line in the parking lot to check in. Staff masked; patrons not masked. Staff had gloves. Bottles of sanitizer on the check-in table.

The restaurant itself was completely boarded up, since, you know, mayhem.

Up on the roof. Rustic Italian, pretty good; merry time, everyone happy to be doing something normal. The last time we’d gone out was right before Rotaria came to stay, and we’d eaten in a small cramped noisy restaurant crowded with people. That was early March, maybe the first week? When the plague was abroad in the land undetected, and we’d lost precious time?

Except maybe it wasn’t, yet? Or was, but . . . oh never mind. It doesn't matter. It will, but that's a conversation for later when we have a new set of facts that can be ignored or amplified depending on one's perspective.

After an hour we groaned our way back down the stairs, rain beginning to fall. Good timing. Went home for cake, which she loved - they don’t do graduation parties in her home town. Why not?

“Is something you have to do, why should you have a party?”

A thunderstorm rolled in. Birch was nervous and went downstairs to sit under Daughter’s desk in her basement cave. The womenfolk watched “Emma,” and I worked on the Pictures section of the website, adding some photos of Rome, rearranging some of the sites. At midnight I came downstairs and wrote this.

It was a perfect day, and deserved the honor of being noted as such.

Sunday was different, because a rare Sunday pronouncement from our esteemed City Council suprised a lot of people, but we'll talk about that tomorrow.




They just made a million of 'em.

#9 in the series, with one more to go. (I don't have it, so this is the end of the Crime Doctor feature. Compose yourself.) The writers may have thought “we’ve done everything we can with this series. What could possibly revive it?

Ah, right.

Crime Doctor is giving a lecture here:

You can tell it’s Europe because that is what all European doctors look like.

Anyway, it’s time to go out on the town, and that can only mean one thing: utterly cliched montage with floating neon signs!


I . . . I don’t think that’s Paris.

In a club, we see a cabaret routine. You can tell it’s French, because he’s wearing the proper costume of the menfolk. Striped shirt, beret . . . hey wait a minute, OW

Do you worry whether I will give you an exhaustive account of the Crime Doctor’s Exploits? You do not. Let’s consider that dance you just saw.

This is what came to mind, instananeously. 1937, Woodland Cafe, Silly Symphony.

There was a term for this type of dance; can’t remember . . . ah.

The dance is sometimes said to reenact a violent "discussion" between a pimp and a prostitute. It includes mock slaps and punches, the man picking up and throwing the woman to the ground, or lifting and carrying her while she struggles or feigns unconsciousness. Thus, the dance shares many features with the theatrical discipline of stage combat. In some examples, the woman may fight back.

In fin de siècle Paris young members of street gangs were labelled Apaches by the press because of the ferocity of their savagery towards one another, a name taken from the native North American indigenous people, the Apache. In 1908, dancers Maurice Mouvet and Max Dearly began to visit the low bars frequented by Apaches in a search for inspiration for new dances. They formulated the new dance from moves seen there and gave to it the name Apache.

This wikipedia entry on the Apaches says they were noted for their stylish appearance, which set them apart from ordinary thieves. They were known for the Apache Shirt - no link in the article, alas, but other pieces indicate that a “sailor” shirt was part of the garb.

From a 1907 Petit Journal cover:

The striped shirt, the cap - is it possible that our cliched Frenchman, minus baguette, is based on the style of a criminal gang, adopted by subsequent bourgeoise as a way of seeming less bourgeois?

Wouldn’t be the first time.

The dancers in the Crime Doctor movie were Dolores and Don Graham, who’d do the dance again in “Phantom of the Rue Morgue." I don’t know if they were married. Neither imdb bio mentions the other.

As for the movie . . . it’s a bore.

That'll do. And I had no idea when I did the B&W entry nine months ago that might have relevance today.



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