My wife is watching "For All Mankind," and she's ahead of me. Already at the season finale. Can't wait for me to catch up. Her preferred shows are not my preferred shows - every time I come downstairs while she's getting her small ration of TV at the end of the day, someone on the screen is either having a baby or having an earnest conversation, possibly about having a baby. Last night after I finished all my work I had a brief period of time to watch something, couldn't decide, and thought "aw, hell, been a few years, let's watch the first half of 'Downfall' for a nice cap on the day.'"

Anyway, since she's watching it, I have to avoid it, and since I wanted to go downstairs to get something to drink, I had to avoid spoilers. It's easy enough not to look at the TV, but you have to avoid the sound.

"Just put your fingers in your ears and hum," you say, and yes, that's good, but it means you have to manipulate a bottle and a glass with your elbows. So I just did that thing were you put pressure on your eustachian tubes to amplify your humming, and made tuneless melodies until I was done.

Why tuneless, though? Why just random notes? There are so many melodies; why not choose one? Why not the Sibelius theme for the geese leaving the lake and taking to the sky? Easy enough? No, I'm like some moron ("Like," you say) whistling random notes as if somoeone poured all the melodies into a barrel, and it sprang a leak.

I was listening to an old radio show in my studio, and could hear sirens. For a moment I thought they were part of the show, so I muted my computer: no, from the show. Uh-oh. Something blew up on the pad, I think, then I realize I just muted the old time radio station because I thought the siren might be from . . . GUNSMOKE.


Uh oh:

You should not presume that obsessive interest in Planet Coaster is a metric of my alienation or disaffection. Sometimes the desire to create perfect little worlds where you can adjust the sliders to ensure no one throws up or vandalizes things is just what it looks like: anal-retentive delight over atomic-level control of controlled environments.

Last we visited this, it didn't exist. I ripped up everything up and started over. I now regard Pirate Cove as a backwater, since I’ve moved on to other things. But it was a good place to apply new lessons, such as building custom structures, and applying light and effects.

Added an animatronic battle . . .

In short, it’s 10x better than the previous iteration, and still toddler fingerpainting compared to what other people can do.

And why do people do it? Same reason people make model train layouts in their basement. Same reason people knit. 

I chose a guest to walk down the path from the monorail to the Pirate Cove secondary entrance, just to see how things looked down there. We start in the picnic-table area, then move to the monorail station. You get a good sense of the level of detail here - I did all of this. By "did" I mean "placed." A few custom buildings, and custom signage.

I felt bad for this guest, who seemed alone and a bit dejected:

No one went up the second exit, except this guest. Why?

Later I went back around the corner to see if this guest had found friends, and discovrered something . . . BEYOND TERROR.

Her doppelganger is standing right there. The only difference is the color of the glasses.

At least it's nice to see someone using that rest area I made.

Don't worry. This is all leading up to something. Aside from madness.


Tightrope seranades . . .

An equilibriste! A wonderful term. Also, a stripper.

Also, a rather spiritually vacant equilibriste stripper.








As ordinary as it gets. And that's good! Twenty thousand souls. I've seen small towns this size in towns with a quarter of the popuation.

Someone ruined the ground floor. The decision to install those backlit fabric canopies was not . . . an optimal solution.

Just a little arch to tell you who paid for this pile.


The ground floor and the windows were abused by time and malice and the desire to improve, but the structure still has its character intact, somehow.

If you concentrate on what’s untouched, it’s better.

Handsome, except for the stylized shingling in the windows.



These always pop like nothing else in a small town. As they were intended to do.

Opened in 1910, “gutted by fire in 1938.” Rebuilt into the gorgeous thing you see before you.

Now a church, one of the last destinations for old theaters.

I hope it works.

OUMB, but from when?

Early 80s vibe, I think.


May look boring to you, but I have a soft spot for the crisp, spare look of 50s institutional buildings.

Big dumb Lenny and his smarter, short pal who’s all the brains in the outfit

Nice expensive work upstairs:

Apparent the short building was the original entrance, updated with no style or class, just a decision to do something “new.”

Ah! As I like the 50s institutional buildings, so do I love the 60s “International Style” knockoffs that rose in medium-sized downtowns. They added a serious, modern look.

This one’s a bit too dark.


The poor Arcade.

The windows took the usual hit. The wood over the second floor stairway landing looks ancient, and they painted instead of replacing.



Yet it has a hotel vibe, somehow. Well, you often find “house” applied to hotels; perhaps it was traveling men of business.

It was completely rehabbed after the war - the bottom floor’s new, the screen might obscure an unmolested facade.


The sad and obvious sign of a fire, or something that was knocked down because it couldn’t stand any more.


The classic Merle Norman store, once a mainstay on Main Streets across the land.

I think the same guy owned the building next door; decided to redo the lower floors at the same time.

Hmm: it looks abandoned, but perhaps someone with some scratch could bring it back to life?

Yes . . . and no.


Another big corner block gone.

Takes the heart right out of a town, it does.


Two old friends.

One’s feeling better than the other.

I don’t know why exactly, but there’s something about this . . .

. . . that says the end times have come and gone.


That will do! I hope. Restaurants await.




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