Last weekend, the heater; this weekend, the AC. A perfect summer weekend, and I spent it cursing inwardly to prevent cursing outwardly, and lordy massy me therein hangs a tale of trees and perfidy, but it’ll have to wait. In fact I have so much stuff this week I could nail down the week of bleats with just a recounting of one 24 hours period, up to and including the removal from the back yard of the Inscrutable Wires.

Don’t know if I ever mentioned those. When we dig in the back by the fence we frequently encounter a thick wire, and since I’ve struck it many times with a shovel blade and stand here before you to tell the tale, I presume it’s not live. Spit on it just to be sure. This afternoon we were digging anew, and encountered a mass of wires wove in a starfish pattern.

What is that thing? Some sort of cage embedded in the earth to assist the root system?

As for the rest of the world, it's looking as nice as it ever gets around here. From the Cliff:

When I open the windows, the scent of the blossons fills the house. Which is pretty damned necessary because my wife cooked some califlower, and damned if I know what diseased imp leaked that stuff from his loinal area, but whew.

As regular patrons know, I do a lot of advance work on the site. The banners above were snipped and sorted and futzed with last year, probably, and filed in folders. All the pictures for May and June were cars. Probably because they represent the freedom that comes with the warm weather? Or did I know the Element would die?

It didn’t die so much as it just . . . let me know it was time. The bindings. The damned bindings. I have no idea what they are, but the guy who took a look at it for trade-in value said so. There’s a shuddering sound when I make a sharp turn. It’s not a new problem, and it has been getting worse, and I’ve been thinking - for a long time - well, I’m going to sell it. Last year I put on new tires, and didn’t go with the best ones because well, I’m going to sell it. And then I didn’t.

On the way back from grocery shopping the Element had a panic attack. It was the same thing that happened on the first of the year, when it started huffing and balking - it had entered limp-home mode again. OH NO. But it recovered, and drove normally - except when it did it again when asked to accelerate quickly.

Ping! Engine light.

Great. Just great. I figured either the car knew I was looking at other autos, and this was its way of saying Screw YOU after all our years together, or it was gently telling me it was time, and it was okay.

When I got home I took everything out of the car. Found a hairbrush Daughter had kept in the side pocket in the back, from the days when she rode in a car seat. I’d known it was always there. Never took it out.

Hey, maybe I’ll just take it to the shop, get another five years out of it. I can get 20 years out of this old gal. On the other hand, I've set aside money for years for the Unexpected Car Situation.

Whistling, casually - nothing going on, up to nothing, no sir - I went to the drawer of important papers and took out the title. Set it aside.

Found the checkbook from the back of another drawer.

Slept on it.

The next day I’m driving home in a different vehicle entirely, and it’s strange: what happened to my old life? This doesn’t feel right. This is SAD. Nothing is where it should be.

What have I done.

When I got home I took a nap and made dinner. Walked the dog. Thought: errands, right? Things to get. And hey, my car now has Bluetooth, so I can play my songs without getting out cords. I’d already set that up, but was surprised to find that the car started playing what I’d been listening to on my phone. It picked up where I’d left off. It was a sultry electronic number with a good beat and some Miami-Vice vibes. I was on the highway in four minutes. Turned into the sunset. Punched it.

Flew past my exit, because I wanted to drive. Surprise upon checking the speedometer: I’d been accustomed to the Element getting a nervous shiver at this speed, and this one had effortlessly climbed up to 80. Laid off the pedal and took the next exit, blasted back to where I meant to go.

The car seemed eager to please. They hadn’t sold it for sport or power, but practicality and “zipping” around town, but now it’s trying to tell me: I’m so much more than that. Do a tight corner! You’ll love it! Remember how the Element sometimes felt a bit top-heavy? Waddled, dare I say? No disrespect, I love him like a brother - a dead brother, and one I sorta replaced, but he wasn’t exactly a LeMans racer in the turn, you know?

I parked in the lot at Traders Joe, beeped, walked away -

and without thinking, involuntarily, I looked back at my new steed.

That’s the moment. That’s when you know you did the right thing.






Control your raging anticipation:

You can imagine a husband who’d been dragged to the pictures with his wife feeling his stomach drop when he sees this: aw, man, a book. And one of those books, too.

It begins with a scene of the title character having breakfast, and every act is so measured and precise you know you’re seeing an inflexible routine. He counts his steps to work. He always has two peanuts to give to the squirrels. That can only mean his orderly, tidy life will be upset by one of two things - crime or sex - or both.

By the way, the setting is so old-world and Bostonian that the breakfast sequence works this in:

Just in case you thought it was 1908.

Anyway, crime or sex? You suspect neither, because the music is jaunty and comic, the sound of a self-satisfied man who’s settled into life, and can be ribbed a little but deserves our affection, because after all he’s Robert Young.

The next thing that happens: he’s enlisted by his college class reunion committee to write biographies of old classmates. He starts by writing his own. So we go back to 1896.

And then it’s 1908, and he’s sent to boarding school by his cheerful but obviously hands-off father.

Yes, they had cars in 1908. The boy learns a lesson at school: be strong! But it’s done with exaggerated comic effect, so we’re supposed to scoff at boys school. WHAT IS THIS MOVIE ABOUT.

Here’s the problem: it was a serialized novel. I’d guess the brief 1908 sequence was an entire chapter. The return to the present day is a framing device to provide continuity between chapters. After the unexceptional backstory is filled in, he gets a phone call from a woman he used to know. She wants to meet after work!

But then he sees her from afar:

UH OH. It’s Hedy Lamarr. He’s a happily married man; he can’t have a drink with Hedy Lamarr. So he just leaves and sends her roses.

Then it’s back and forth between Then and Now. There’s war!

Then he’s in advertising in the 20s! Oh, let's skip ahead.


After the end of World War I, his Harvard classmate and friend Bill King (Van Heflin) gets him a job in a New York City advertising company, where he falls in love with a vivacious, independent coworker oddly named Marvin Miles (Hedy Lamarr). However, though they love each other, she cannot bring herself to fit into his traditional idea of a wife's role and he cannot imagine living anywhere other than hidebound Boston. So they break off their relationship.

Lamarr is gorgeous but so-so, and even though this is supposedly her best performance, there’s no fire. Let me sum up the entire movie: nothing happened. Years later they were a bit unhappy about things.

Then he realizes things are pretty good with his wife! The end.

It’s King Vidor movie, so it’s got class galore, but I was that husband, wishing it was shorter and there was a scene where they went to the beach.

That'll do; matches await.



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