And on the last day, I grilled. Oh, I’ll grill more, going forward; it’s not as if a royal edict has been made forbidding all subjects to cease the practice of cooking dinner outdoors. But I won’t have the same patriotic ad campaigns behind me. You know what I mean: it’s Summer! Fire Up the Grill! with red-white-and-blue lines to let you know that there’s a national holiday somewhere in there.

Admission: we had pre-cooked brats. They’re just as good, and there’s no trichinosis concerns. Whenever I cook raw brats I’m worried about Pig Sickness. Every meat has its own fungoo, it seems. Undercooked chicken? Salmonella. Undercooked hamburgers? Brucillosis. The Mayo Clinic, I just learned after a brief googling, says you can get typhoid fever from undercooked chicken, which is a surprise. The article also says you can get enteric fever. What’s that? Googling . . . “Enteric fever, also known as typhoid fever . . . ”

Hmm. So I guess the doctor could say you have “Enteric and/or typhoid fever.” Or perhaps “The good news? You don’t have enteric fever. The bad news, you do.”

Well, I’ll have neither, thank you, because everything gets jabbed with the thermometer to make sure it’s 185 degrees. 184? BACK IN THE FIRES OF HELL.

Except for steak, of course. It can spend a minute on either side and literally bleed when you cut it, but mmm-mmm. The other day I gave Birch some of the run-off from a package of sealed steaks, and wife was concerned it wouldn’t be good for him, all those raw juices - oh. Right. The whole “wolves” thing.

Maybe wolves didn’t hook up with us because we had food, but because we had cooked food. They could never figure that one out. Oh, this is so good. That stuff we’ve eaten for millennia was always disgusting, and we knew it all the time. Guts. We ate guts. Hard to keep it down. These guys turned it into sausage, somehow. Guts are meat but sausage is . . . meat inside of meat. Absolute wizards.

Tuesday the tree removers arrive to remove a tree. I will miss it, somewhat, since I have a video of Daughter taking some of her earliest steps by it. (That’s all it takes for something to have to stay around forever, thank you.) It’s an ash, which seems an odd name for a pre-burned tree. When it goes up in flames it’s really ashes to ashes. It will take a week for the mind to forget it was there and take the additional amount of sky as our normal ration. The neighbors lost a huge backyard tree, and for a day or two, I missed it. After that it was as if it had never been there, and there was more sky to see the clouds, the storms, the big blue beyond. One of the trees is visible from the window in the shower, and I've looked at it every day for 21 years. It's a bit unnerving to realize how quickly I will forget it was ever there.










I saw Play It Again, Sam before I saw Casablanca. It didn’t spoil anything. Either I forgot, or it didn’t matter.

In 1983 Casablanca seemed like an era that was both impossibly distant but also something you could grasp and understand. There were constants. The basics still abided: Nazis were bad, people went to cafes, guys in white suits were cool. At the head-shop record store across the street you could buy a Glen Miller compilation.

And I did. Same place I bought the first Sex Pistols album. (Yes, I know, there was no second album.) I don’t know why or when I got interested in wartime big-band, but I know it connected with a firm and familiar handshake when I heard “String of Pearls” and “American Patrol” and “Moonlight Serenade” and the wide romantic warble of Harry James. It was reassuring. It was fundamental. It was a test: if you got this, you got me - but I couldn’t quite say why.

So I was ready for Casablanca in many ways before I finally saw it. Big screen, the Varsity in Dinkytown. First date with big promise. Could it be the best first date movie ever for two people who have similar ideas how the evening should go? Of course I walked out of the theater and did a slight shoulder shrug and lit a cigarette. Every man is Bogie after they have watched Casablanca, and every man is able to finesse away the sure knowledge they are not. You just let it fade, and think that it’s enough that you’ve recognized what makes Rick a man.

It is my favorite movie, and hence I am hesitant to watch it. Maybe every four, five years. It never disappoints. It is a perfect thing. You always find something, even though you had found it before. How many movies of the era spent 30 minutes on one day? Do we make ourselves forget that Sidney Greenstreet ends that scene with a rote indifferent fly-sway, a note that nails his true character, or do we come up to the end of the scene and suddenly remember what he’s going to do?

People who discover the movie in the modern era are lucky, because they bring nothing to the actors. It’s like Oz. Everyone is perfect, and will always been seen through the prism of this performance. I’ve seen Raines, Bogart, Lorre, Greenstreet, Heidt et al in other movies, so many movies, but they are all something unique in this one. They are all the most perfect manifestation of their screen personas, and it’s done in a way that servers them from all other roles.

From the start, Lorre is not Lorre playing Ugarte; he is Ugarte. From the start, Raines is not playing Renault, he is Renault.

Heidt is the personification of cool, cruel Nazi arrogance - and that leads to something interesting. For all its romance and passions, the movie relies on the shared belief in legalisms. Strasser will not have Lazlo abducted and killed because it is Free French territory. That the letters of transit are unquestionable documents, a signifier of an order that surpasses all. Even the most vile are bound, somehow, to a remnant thread of law.

The older you get, the more you appreciate the benefits of the censor’s code. In the modern version, Lazlo would say “I know you slept with him when you thought I was dead,” and she says “And I’ll do it again to get the letters. Don’t take it personally.” It would be all out in the open. The inability to say these things led to a scene that makes you wonder how people at the time interpreted it: this wasn’t how people acted, talking around the truth.

But it was how movie people acted. How our better selves might act. If we found ourselves in a movie, set in Casablanca. Wherever, and whenever, that was, or is, or will be.



It’s 1918.

When I was a kid, I knew the word as “overalls,” with no particular meaning. The pronunciation was almost over-halls. The idea that the name meant something you wore OVER ALL your other clothing never occurred to me.

Like I said, when I was a kid.

Wikipedia: “In 1920, groups of "Overalls Clubs" formed around the United States. They took overalls as their symbol to protest the rising cost of clothing, and profiteering in the garment industry.”

I suspect, and cannot prove, that this ad looked really modern at the time, and other companies took note. It’s just different.

And I love the picture of the guy brushing away; you get a sense of the clothing, the pastimes, the hairstyles, the everyday posture we recognize a hundred years later



I suppose that helped impart a medical emanation.

I guess I should’ve run this one last spring. Ah well.

STYLEPLUS, known for its set prices. No dickering, no arguing, no hidden costs. Look for the trademark of the man with the inordinate whiskers.

That would be Henry Sonneborn? His company made Styleplus. Closed in 1931, but their factory still stands.

A long-gone brand:

The details:

Templar was a manufacturer of automobiles in Lakewood, Ohio from 1917 to 1924. The company was named for the Knights Templar and  used a Maltese Cross as an emblem.

The entry of the United States into World War I severely curtailed production, the company making artillery shells for the war effort. The cars were extremely well equipped with a compass and Kodak camera as standard equipment. Only around 150 cars were made in 1918.

A Kodak! Mounted in the chassis? Gorgeous old cars; see them restored, here.

Artificial gas?


Before the development of an economical way of transporting natural gas, artificial gas, consisting primarily of hydrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide, was made near where it was to be used. There were several compositions of the artificial gas, depending on the manufacturing process used, and if there were enough hydrocarbons present to add color to the burning gas, the gas was referred to as Illuminating gas. Usually coal was the starting material, but petroleum was sometimes cracked to give Pintsch gas.

Pintsch gas from ceracked petroleum! Here’s the factory for Cribben & Sexton.

“We know which is more efficient, because we make the less efficient models, too.

Before the internet, there were travel brochures. We have forgotten how important they were, how many reveries they inspired.

A box full of travel brochures was a box full of dreams.


  That will do. Some Gluyas awaits, and I'll see you tomorrow.



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