I put the Christmas lights up.

Now, now, before you go hammering YGH about jumping the season: I am not. A season jumper. I do not admit the existence of Christmas until 12:01 AM the day after Thanksgiving, and even then, it’s just a mental note. But the weather was warm and my wife was doing busy wife things that improve the general state of things in the far reaches of Jasperwood, so I thought I would do something useful. I removed all the lights from the bin in the shed, and tested them. Failure rate was about 7 percent. Once I had teased them all out from their thorny wads, I had a choice: put them away, or put them up.

Which would result in more husband points?

Duh. So I wrapped the firs that rise along the front steps. I did not plug them in, because that would be really pushing it, and my neighbors would revolt: you have set a standard we understand but instinctively reject. I didn’t connect them to power, but left space for the cords I need to get. Lights and extension cords are at war, always. Polarized plugs, non-polarized-plug extensions. Adaptors. The main thing to remember is to point the prongs towards the outlet to which they will eventually connect; a simple rule. All illumination flows from that. In three weeks I will plug them in and shout huzzah!

Actually, no: every time I plugged in the lights, and they lit up, I said “Thunderbirds are go.” I have no idea why. At first I said it in my head, and then I said it out loud. It’s my new Christmas Mantra. When I plug in everything and the light is glorious, I will shout THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO into the bowl of the streets, and if neighbors are disconcerted, it will pass quickly. No one who says such things has come for ill purposes.

I went back to Dinkytown and the U of M to take some Fall pictures, since it’s the perfect time to get that Collegiate Feeling. I was driving down University, and saw an open parking spot. Stopped, but on the blinker. The car behind me was not happy. The driver threw up her hands and gave me middle fingers, repeatedly.

For parking. Now, it’s not unusual for people to park on this street. There are lots of cars already parked that indicate this is permitted. Even common. I had not slammed on my brakes. But I was the worst person in the world.

I saw a parking space a few yards up, and moved towards it, to give the idiot behind me time to pass. When I looked in the mirror she was still yelling at me and throwing up middle fingers.

I mouthed: “I’m parking.” Try it in front of a mirror; I don’t think the message comes across.

Once parked, the drama passed, I went to the Old Campus. For years I have regretted the state of the U of M website, old with small pictures, but then again it’s not really up to me. (It was at the time; there wasn’t any place where you could go to see old U of M postcards, or pictures of Dinkytown. Such was the web.) Still, I wanted to make some improvements.

First stop, the old library: Burton Hall.

Mr. Pillsbury is standing outside, as always.

Burton Hall used to be the main library.  In 1894, this must have looked like a drink of cold water:

One of the few extant designs of Leroy Buffington.

The frieze over the doors lists the great arts, and when you adjust the pictures to compensate for perspective, you realize that the carvings themselves . . . are adjusted for perspective. We’re meant to look up at them, as if they are Muses kin the Empyrean Realm. I always felt enobled looking up at these.

Click on the pictures if you want a bigger version.


Little written at the time is remembered today. But so it goes with every era.


Hard to portray SCIENCE allegorically, I guess.

The painting of this era still speaks to us today, although  suppose it's regarded as kitschy and sentimental:

Pull up your pants,  mister. Can't you tell she's looking away in embarassment?

Sculpture is a dynamic art, judging from the fellow on the right:

We'll be visiting some ancient places all week, along with the modern intrusions.


She seems pleased by the prospect.

Martountess Q. Bronxconey!



Uh oh

This meant something then. That exact position on the dial.

But it's not year Zero yet.

A family gets up early to hit the road for a vacation!

It’ll be fun!


But if this is the theme for your vacation . . . you might be heading for trouble. You might meet some characters whose appearance is signaled by bongos.


A series of flashing lights, like lightning but noiseless, starts to worry them. Better stop at the telecommunication kiosk placed in remote places for communication purposes:

Can’t get through to LA. All the lines are down.


Civilization breaks down quite gradually - first with angry people in a remote restaurant, and later with stock footage of lots of cars driving on the highway. Not very convincing. Our hero goes to a store for supplies . . .

Ray Milland, at a curious point in his career, does a quick transition from a guy who wants to pay for things to a guy who’ll deck a hardware store owner and take his guns while promising to come back and pay for them, and meaning it. We don’t know if he’s meant to be a frightening portrait of a man who finds his inner savage or someone who really steps up to the challenge.

Oh great it’s everyone’s most hated archetype: insolent clean-cut beats who say “Daddy-O” and repeat each other and crack wise. CUE THE BONGOS.


Thanks, Son! Good work.

Dad's going to keep everyone together, and make sure they maintain their values.



About twenty minutes later, we catch up with the beatnik hoodlums:


Man. Ray Milland has gone all Bronson, all Straw Dogs . . . years before anyone else.

It’s a straight B picture, which makes you feel bad for Ray, but as one imdb reviewer said, if you go in with low expectations you will be quite surprised.

Oh, one more thing:


  That will  have to do. Matches await!





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