Today: a new site; a big Surprise

First off, some site notes – Sundays have become Mondays, which is one of the reasons the January bleat motif is still there. I made a decision: the time I usually spend doing a weekly redesign will now be spent creating fresh content for the site. So if the look of the bleat lags, it’s for a good reason. And it’s not as if the motif isn’t still true – we got ten tons of snow this weekend, and once again I live in a winter wonderland. It’s hard, harsh, cold and brutal, but lovely beyond compare. I love living here. I love meeting from people from warmer climes who seem to think that just because it’s 20 below you have to wear gloves – but that’s tomorrow’s entry.

Saturday. Babysitter! Night on the town! Finally, a chance to see LOTR as it has to be seen. Off to Southdale, where the movie’s playing at our favorite theater. Big screen, lush seats that rock back, steeply raked floor, fabulous sound. I wound through the new parking lot, which I’m sure looked wonderful on paper, and sent my wife to get tickets while I parked on the other side of the mall. I don’t even bother trying to get close – it’s easier to park by an entrance that leads to the duller, sad stores no one wants to visit on a Saturday night. Parked, walked, and noted with pleasure how full the Mall was. Why not? It was murderously cold outside, and if you felt the need to be around your fellow humans nothing beats the mall; you can be together without sharing anything except your location. As I approached the movie theater I was actually in awe of the number of people entering the mall – a throng, a ceaseless flow. The hordes of Genges Khan would be outmatched by this ceaseless flow of giddy loud Americans. I got to the theater entrance.

“Sir you can’t come in” said a security guard. Young guy. Shaped like a pear. He had the sort of moustache that does not inspire confidence in his employers or fear in the public - faint, wispy. Looked like his chin follicles had the hiccups.

What do you mean? I asked.

The theater’s closed.

Closed? Why?

A sprinkler head broke, and they’re evacuating the theater.

Of course all you can do now is be the Human Xerox, because this is just ridiculous. A sprinkler head broke, and they’re evacuating the theater?

Yes sir.

And indeed they were. SIXTEEN THEATERS were being emptied because one sprinkler was defective. I’m sure THAT’S THE RULE. Was it broken, how? It had busted and was raining down water in one theater? Probably not - no, they wouldn’t shut down everything for that. So . . . I guessed that the computer monitor flashed RED for Sprinkler #409 in Zone B, and regulations said they had to empty the place out. Hey: why not just send in a guy with a bucket of water to sit right under that sprinkler, and if he sees a fire – you know, one of those fires that break out all the time nowadays – he can just douse it.

But I didn’t say any of this. I thought of the fact that I was supposed to meet my wife in the lobby.

My wife, I said. She’s in there.

I’m sorry, sir. No one can go in.

I almost felt like doing a Last of the Mohicans – SARA! I WILL FIND YOU! But I just waited, and eventually we hooked up. Grrr. Well. Off to the other theater in the neighborhood, then. It’s a crappy 80s theater with flat floors and lousy sound and threadbare seats. Looked at the marquee: oh no. Oh, no.

“The Last Samurai,” she said.

“I’m not going to watch three hours of Tom Cruise rejecting Western civilization so he can learn the ways of some feudal god-king.”


“Plus there’s going to be pentatonic music and robes and bamboo and all that way-of-the-warrior crap.”


Then I saw another movie: “Master and Commander,” I said. “I’d see that.” Pause. “But if you want to see Samurai, we will.”

I dropped her off, and she went to see if anything was showing within the next hour. Thumbs up, she gave me. I parked. I walked in past the ticket booth, where she was queued. The ticket taker was quite cheerful: “Last Samurai, theater three, to your left. Enjoy the show! Master and Commander, theater four, to your left. Enjoy the show!”

My wife appeared with the tickets. Please theater four please theater four. Handed the tickets to the usher. “Master and Commander, theater four, to your left. Enjoy the show!”


I’d wanted to see this movie, but had forgotten all about it. Never read the novels – I’m saving those for my late fifties, when I am have long since replaced the Bleat with daily video updates, and have time to read all 943 novels in the series. All I knew was that people I knew loved these books for reasons I suspected I would share.

Ads. Previews. Annoying chain brand-identification animation. The movie begins. Dead silence. Water. Words. A ship. Only the sound of the wind.

And the sound of Fat Bastard across the aisle shoving his paw in his popcorn bag. There’s not a sound in the room except for this. His eating process is louder than the movie. I looked over to see how big the bag was – well, he should be done by the sixth reel.

Other than that, Mr. Picky, how did you enjoy the show? Confirms my suspicions: the myriad difficulties we face abroad and at home aside, we live in a golden age. I must now reshuffle my top ten all-time favorites. There you have it; there you have the human mystery. Two men on a ship. One a man of adventure and war, the other a man of science and healing; they are sitting in a room several thousand miles from home, a room designed to remind them of the civilization that sent them to this remote locale, and they playing a stringed duet (cello, violin) before a battle where they will endeavor to cleave the skulls of Frenchmen with sharp axes. And there’s no contradiction implied. No 21st century sensibility barging in to make us all wonder how people who appreciated the muses could then stick a knife in a man’s throat “for England, for home, and for the prize.” The story rambles, like any good voyage, and I never doubted a single minute of the film. It had absolute confidence in its characters and stories. I want ten more, please.

Must post & sleep; long day, fabulous weekend. Hit the new stuff, and enjoy; it’s part of a new site called Patriotica, devoted to WW2 ephemera. I wrote the text at 9 AM this morning when I had the house to myself, and I’m sure it’s raw & stupid. But that’s a job for Monday morning. Fix it before it’s cached at Google, that’s my motto.

Or would be if I had a motto. No – I do!

There’s also a matchbook.”

Oooh: put that on my tombstone.

argh: permanent link here:
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