It was a good Halloween; they’re all good if there’s no snow. I went as a giant mustard bottle, also known as “the last costume in the 50% off rack at the chain hardware store.” Everyone met down at the Triangle; the dogs skulked around snapping up food, the kids scampered and screamed, and the older kids headed out on their own to shake down the neighbors. First year Gnat’s been out on her own. Four other friends. The giddy release from the surly bonds of parental overseeing. They had a grand time - but she said they were heading down towards the creek, and turned back. Why?

“Too dark. It was scary.”

Good. It’s supposed to be.


We ran out of candy, thanks to the early batch of kids who showed up and took nine of everything from the big pot set out in the triangle. Every year, the Tragedy of the Commons. Later in the evening the teens came, and took handfuls even though Natalie said “take one, please.” What the jerks didn’t know was that she was handing out her own candy, because we’d run out and the little kids were still coming.

I was proud of her, giving her own.

“I’m a good person,” she joked.

“It’s a good thing to be generous.”

“I’m a good person.”

“Don’t push it.”

“But I am! I’m a good person.

“The more you say it the less it’s true.”

She was kidding. But it was good to see her get the warm glow of altruism. And yes she gave away the good stuff. Not just the box of Nerds. (Subspecies “Spooky,” flavor: “punch.” What. the. hell. Is punch.)


Been a while since we investigated the World of Cereal, eh? Sometimes I think they clutter up the boxes just so they can simplify them and get our attention. Here’s the old Cheerios:



Throbbing heart, overuse of attributes - Oat Cluster isn't good enough, we need to be reassured it will CRUNCH - and a subset of the grouping in case the stuff in the spoon is too confusing. Text description. That "Whole Grain Guarantee." Box Tops. Nutritional info. They just kept piling on the stuff until it's overloaded and dull. Here’s the new style:



Cleaner, yes. Better? I'd say no.

And because Chocolately Cocoa Puffs may leave some confused - is there chocolate? Is there enough chocolate? - I bring you the latest innovation:



If these aren't your style, enjoy Generic Cereal with Generic Mascots who don't even have names:




But note how the Frosted Flakes box has the same background as the Frosted Cheerios. Both generic characters seem insane to the point of homicidal fugue state.

Watched “Tomorrow is Forever,” one of those pay-the-bills movies Orson Welles did. I’d never heard of it.



Came to the movie in a very modern way: driving home from work I hit the satellite old-radio channel, heard a Screen Guild show about a man who loses his face in World War One, refuses to go home and disappoint his wife, and stays behind to be surgically reconstructed by a nice Austrian doctor.. Fast-forward 20 years: he comes to America to consult on some chemistry matter, and by the most extraordinary coincidence the family who runs the chemical plant includes his old wife, now remarried, AND his son, who was a zygote when he went off to war. Of course she doesn’t recognize him. It’s a warm-hearted version of “The Stranger,” with Welles doing his quasi-sorta Churman accent, and Claudette Colbert weeping up and down as the woman who doesn’t want her son to go off to war. This being a 40s movie, she has to be convinced to let her son head off. (It’s set in the pre-draft period, so he wants to go to Canada to join the RAF.)

Anyway: I entered the garage in the middle of the drama, which killed the signal. Downloaded the episode from, then did a search and found the movie online - someone ripped it from TNT and posted it. There being absolutely no moral distinction between DVRing the movie, since I pay for TNT, and watching a version put up online, I downloaded it and watched it. Or is there a moral distinction? Does the transfer of formats and platforms invalidate the assumed license I have as a cable subscriber? I’d love to hear someone make that argument. The radio version is different, much more compressed - a Reader’s Digest Condensed Books version that eliminates a key character for sake of shoehorning the story into the time slot. It’s like retelling Star Wars and leaving out Princess Leia. Think about it: it can be done. She can be replaced at almost every point in the story. The opening of Episode 4? Pshaw: the robots head for the escape pod to spirit away the Death Star plans. Luke is inspired not by dorky lust but duty and visions of glory. It can be done, that’s all I’m saying. It’s almost a challenge: take any famous story, and eliminate one character. Any serious editor would find someone to cut. But a good editor would stay his hand. It’s the characters who aren’t vital to the pith and marrow who make the story something more than a rote march through the plot points. Star Trek doesn’t need McCoy. Star Trek would be so much less without him.

I also started watching “Thor,” but was instantly uninterested, which surprised me. It’s all the CGI. Nothing is real; nothing matters. Over at io9 a few days ago there was a piece on “Jurassic Park,” and why it was so danged good: one of the commenters noted that it had puppets, not just CGI. The dinosaur breathing on the vehicle window, the bronto or whatever they’re called eating the leaves, the sick stego: real. They had heft and presence. He noted that when it’s all CGI, the camera does things no real camera can do, and you’re removed from your sense of the real world - to which I’d add that you subconsciously disconnect from the events.

Today: Matchbook Museum! Enjoy. See you around.




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