I should always make a point of waving to readers of the Bleat who say hello in public, so hello, Trenton! I mean Craig. I was momentarily confused. Feel free to wade into the comments and impart your Thrilling Tale! (“He needed a haircut.”)

A week ago last Saturday I bought two arbor vitae , which looks like Latin for “Live Tree.” Don’t know who’s in the market for dead ones, but if they are, we have several. They were Arbor Vitaes, as it happens. The unfriendly lady at the checkout counter took down my delivery instructions, and told me I’d have to pay $20 more to get them moved from the driveway to the place where I wanted them, since “delivery” is a fairly specific concept. FINE.

They were supposed to arrive on Wednesday between 10 and 2. They did not. When I got out the receipt to call the store, I noted that the delivery date was listed as 6/12, which was two weeks off. Well, that explained it. Called the story, kindly noted that the clerk had got the date wrong, and rescheduled for Friday, 10-2.

By two o’clock I’d heard nothing. They’re supposed to give you a 30-minute heads up. No call, no word. Called the store, and was informed they’d call me back. They did not. I called again, and was informed that after much research the delivery team had determined that the tree order was being “fulfilled” by the Richfield store, since they had the trees and the Bloomington store did not. But - you had 30 in the lot on Saturday! All gone, I guess.

Called Richfield. Was put on hold for nine minutes. Here’s what happens when you’re on hold: you crash into the middle of a loud, fuzzy, crunchy guitar riff that probably sounded great when they played it at corporate function to pump up the crowd, but it cannot be endured for more than ten seconds without causing pain. Lucky for you, it stops, and a prerecorded voice tells you how awesome Home Depot is for everything, and then the phone rings, and then it’s answered by another robot that tells you how important your call is, and then it’s back to the guitar sound. Over and over and over again.

Finally someone picked up, said they would direct my call - NO DON’T SEND ME BACK THERE -

But this time I got silence. Then three robotic duck-quacks, repeated every four seconds, for five minutes. When someone picked up I explained my situation, and she said yeah, the trees had missed the truck.

“Did they not run fast enough?” I wanted to say, but instead noted that this was too bad but not my problem, although it was now. She said they were trying to get someone to find a truck. They would call me back.

No one called me back.

At four I called to say it’s too late, let’s do tomorrow. The manager assured me with cheer and confidence that he could indeed get them to me after ten, and he apologized.

Saturday: no one came after ten, or eleven, or noon, or one. I called the store. CRASH MUSIC again. Finally Henrietta Uptalk answered, and said they were aware of the situation? They’re trying to find a truck? But they can’t find one that can securely deliver? They’ll call me back?

The underlying problem was Bloomington dumping their deliveries off on Richfield, and apparently they were beefing about this. Now I’m the middle of a garden center rivalry. A turf war! Ha ha.

No one called and no one came so I went to the Bloomington store at 7, nine hours after the appointed time, and asked for a manager.

“I apologize for dumping this on you,” I said, “but with great power comes great responsibilties, I guess. Here’s the story.” He was familiar with it. There had been many missed deliveries from the Richfield store. Eight, to be exact.

He got on the phone and called his delivery people and said he had a customer here who was involved in the Richfield Debacle.

That was the term he used. The Richfield Debacle. It said everything. It reminded you that wars and struggles and resentments and loyalties and tribal passions that rage and subside across organizations. What looks like one big monolith from the outside is subject to all sorts of internal fissures and strife.

Anyway, the manager said he’d drive them to my house. He said he would waive the delivery fee.

“And?” I said.

“You want more?” He asked.

“Wouldn’t you?” I said. He nodded and took off more. He loaded two trees on the Home Depot truck, drove them to my house, and we got them up the steps. Total time from going to store to getting them where they needed to be: 80 minutes.

Saturday I tweeted extensively on the matter, since I love calling out big companies on crap service.

Monday, 11:23 AM: Home Depot sent me a tweet saying I should DM and they would fix this right away.

Okay thanks








I haven’t seen the Deadwood movie as I write this, and it doesn’t matter because this isn’t a review. I’ve recommended the show to friends, and few have taken me up on it - there’s just so damned much TV, and a Western doesn’t always hit them where they live. Some of my friends, I have to confess, have a shields-up approach to modern takes on American standards, because they figure it’s going to be a lecture at best and a Brave New Imagining at worst, like that show I discussed last year where a couple dozen Strong Pioneer Wimmen faced down 50 sharpshootin’ road agents on account of their men dyin’ in a mine because of capitalism, or something.

The women of Deadwood are all over the spectrum - the chilly, aristocratic East Coast society lady with a laudanum jones; the bitter, guarded, battered Trixie the Whore; raucous alcoholic Calamity Jane, bottle-brav, full of raw hurt and gumption; gorgeous guarded Joanie, the brothel-keeper; Jewel, the girning gimp who sweeps up the mess; and so on. There’s not one who’s a type. They’re all individuals, keenly drawn, and you love them all.

You can’t say it has a revisionist take on the West, because they’ve been revising the myth for 50 years. What made Deadwood work was the way it honed in on an archetype, and gave you the fullest possible version: the good guy is a strong and moral man, and the bad guy has all the fascination evil provides. But there is a better man than the good guy, and a worse man than the bad guy. This pushes the two into orbit around a common purpose, rather than making them perpetual opposites doomed to mutual antagonism.

(I tweeted this observation, and people wanted to know who was the better man, and I'm loath to say because the Better Man is distributed amongst others who have quality Bullock lacks, but the lack of whcih does not make Bullock bad. He's just flawed, like everyone else. Also, I sorta kinda meant Saul.)

It’s the messy, dirty, muddy, loud, hootin’ hollerin’ hi-de-ho of the town that seems utterly authentic, if a bit exaggerated. It’s the raw planed wood, the painted signs on cloth, the homely furniture, the brownness of the world against the green of the woods. If I had to choose anything that got what it was must have looked like, it would be this.

But not for the dialogue. There we have the thing that puts off some people: the ornate verbosity of characters, who are, shall we say, occasionally profane. The words, though, are pure music. However foul, they sing.It’s some of the finest dialogue I’ve ever heard.

And the acting! Which brings us to this guy.

I did a search in the newspapers.com archives, and found Al pop up in typical Al fashion.

Go as you please.

Usual Al:

"The grand laugh."

Grandest of the season:

New faces! The town was getting NEW FACES.

I wonder how this turned out.

Dan in a dark alley with a knife, I expect.

In between the time I watched it for the first time and the time I watched the last movie, I got to know people who know Ian McShane, and will of course! Pass along any emailed gushing and praise and simpering admiration I may wish to conjure.

I’ve no idea what to say.

By the way, the movie? It's perfect.




Rotarians were - and are, of course - concerned with going elsewhere and doing good Rotary things. So you’d have an ad for Braniff.

This seems to be a rather specific end result not applicable to the majority of the magazine’s readership

Or perhaps it is; perhaps the Boss Class read the mag in higher numbers than most general-circulation periodicals, and were looking for ways to speed up the cleaning of grease-caked floors.

Oddly enough, the invention - patented by Walter S. Finnel - was described as a rotary brush machine, so perhaps the advertisers misjudged the true nature of the publication.

“Texas Style,” meaning . . . I don’t know. Big? Loud? Brash? Oily? Smelling of cattle?


From glory to death-by-gummint: “The Texas Chief was a passenger train operated by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway between Chicago, Illinois, and Galveston, Texas. It was the first Santa Fe "Chief" outside the Chicago–Los Angeles routes. The Santa Fe conveyed the Texas Chief to Amtrak in 1971, which renamed it the Lone Star in 1974. The train was taken off in 1979."

It took 26 hours to get to Galveston. The flight today to Dallas takes considerably less time.

There’s something nerdy about the Americans who went to other countries in the 50s and didn’t do package tours; you really get the sense of the black-sock-and-sandals crowd.

Man, that Panhard. An adorably goofy looking thing.


The United States is still around, but derelict and awaiting an overhaul for use as a hotel, or something.

Launched in 1940, pressed into war service, then back as an ocean liner after the war.

En route to a refit in 1994, the America - towed by a Uke tug, skeleton crew - ran into bad weather. The tow lines snapped and it ran aground. Some haunting pictures of its last years as a vanishing wreck, here.


No one really wants to take a bus, unless it’s a charter. That changes everything.

If you could get a SceniCruiser, what better way to go? Besides flying and getting there right away.

Or you could take a trip on the S. S. Alcoa Cavalier:

Alcoa ran their own ships to transport bauxite. After WW2 they bought 3 Victory Ships in unfinished condition. cruisehistory.com:

The ships were redesigned and finished with accommodations for 96 first class passengers.  Alcoa hoped that by entering the passenger business, this would give the company an edge on any rival who might want to lure away some cargo, thereby reducing income per voyage.

I wouldn’t say it was the nicest cruise ship to ply the seas.


Finally, when you’ve come home, bore company with some slides:

That'll do! See you around - or at the imported beer aisle in Infinite Liquors.




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