Column night; you know the drill.

Interesting dream: I read on a blog that the Target I frequent was going to be closed and turned into a SuperTarget, complete with grocery store, but it would only be used for training purposes, and citizens would not allow to shop there. I was disconsolate; I was furious; did this mean driving to the far reaches of the city to buy my Archer Farms coffee? Then I checked the web counter for my Fireworks page, and it read:


That’s it. That’s it. No Target, no audience; what’s the bloody point? I called the Giant Swede, explained the facts of the world as I saw them, and we both concluded that the sensible thing to do was to enlist in the Army. So we did. Basic training was easy, although they never let us use live ammo; we had to make BANG sounds when we pulled the trigger. Eventually we were posted to Baghdad, where we were put in charge of security for a shopping mall. A rather dispirited place; it looked like an unrenovated mall from the late 60s, with cool signage in Arabic. I wondered whether the 60s Arabic fonts had the same nostalgic appeal for Arabs as old typefaces did for some Americans, or whether their fonts were less decade-specific. Finally I asked the Giant Swede why we were here – we were family men, middle-aged; wasn’t war a younger man’s game? He explained we were doing this to make the Middle East better so it didn’t threaten our children, and I agreed, but I couldn’t help think: at least I got that damned chickenhawk thing off my back.

Then Gnat came into the bedroom and pulled up the shades and announced she had just watched Barney. It was a taunt. She knows what I think of that.

At lunch, she posed a question. Our table is topped with granite, and she likes to ask what substances might break it. Today’s question: “Would all the grass in the world break the table if it fell on it?” I said that it would. But it would be hard to get all the grass in the world in one place. (Unless you were holding a Grateful Dead Reunion Concert with the skeleton of Jerry Garcia propped up on stage.)

“Well you could put it in a bag and put on a space suit and go up above the earth and use your muscles to push it down.”

That you could, hon.

“I thought so.”

We did math lessons, hit Target (had to tamp down residual dream anger) and the grocery store, then went home; I listened to the Hugh Hewitt show, a deeply depressing event I will write about tomorrow or later today. Note to CAIR representatives who represent the organization to the public: when someone asks if you believe the state of Israel has a right to exist, it’s not a trick question. It requires no preamble.

Then to work. First, the weekly Noir. This time it’s “Crossfire,” a social-justice-message movie in Noir clothes. I’d actually heard this one as a “Suspense” drama, with the original cast, so it was unnervingly familiar at first until I figured it out. Basic idea: soldiers on leave involved in a murder. Who did it? And why? It’s from 1948, but this picture tells you it’s set a few years before:

Nice composition, with the Holy Icon of FDR nicely placed. The cop:

Marcus Welby, Smoker. He’s pretty good; he has the requisite weariness, but for those of us who grew up knowing Robert Young as the kindly doc, he seems to be play-acting, like Welby doing community theater.

This fellow caught my eye: yikes.

Would you be surprised to learn he actually killed a man and went to San Quentin? No, you wouldn’t.

Light, shadows, and railings: the cinematographer’s friends. Why, it’s as if jail-cell bars are being prefigured, right before our eyes!

This is the movie theater where the suspect was hiding out.

I zeroed in on the poster, curious what the set designer had chosen. I could make out “Dick Powell,” so I imdb’d him.

Nice. It’s “Cornered,” from 1945. And cornered is exactly the situation our hero was in. Not that he’s really the hero. More like the patsy. The hero is Robert Michum, who shrugs his way through another frictionless performance without peer. He just is. Few actors ever managed to just be, and he was.

The plot concerned the beating death of a guy for the crime of being Jewish – one of the soldiers was an anti-Semite nutjob, and the film’s penultimate setpiece has a long lecture from Robert Young on the perils of prejudice. But the book from which the story was taken wasn’t about anti-Semitism – the murderer beat the guy to death because he was gay, and came on to the soldier. Can’t do that in '47. But one you know that, the final title card looks prescient:

If they ever colorize the movie, might as well make that triangle pink.

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