An hour before it sets the sun always seems like it’s trying to get your attention: last call, gentlemen. Last call. I looked up at the sun today and thought: eight o’clock, early August. The long warm dusk waits. But it was four-thirty. The sun takes its leave quicker now. It has other places to be, I guess.

I hate the day we turn the clocks back. I don’t see the point. It’s a point of great contention, I know – some want “natural time,” and view the whole thing as a government intrusion with dubious justifications. I don’t care about any of that – I just don’t see the point of slamming down the curtain an hour earlier. You have to live in a cold place to know how hard and vast a 5 PM sunset feels in winter. You get used to it quickly, and you accept it as the Way of Things; the idea of leaving work with the sun still dallying around high above is a dream, like that dream you had the other night where you went to your child’s parent-teacher conference and Jennifer Anniston was the teacher, and you were so surprised you bought her a car. (A Prius.) (And you don’t even really like her. Nice hair, though. It’s the sort of hair through which a comb would pass without effort. Woman hasn’t had a tangle since 1992.) (Why did she take the car, anyway? She’s loaded.) For a while you wake in the dark and you leave work in the dark and the sun, if it shows at all, is pale and abashed. But that’s a few months away. It was in the fifties today, and it’ll be the same tomorrow.

The forecast for our first annual outdoor Halloween party? Forty. At noon.

Friday I drove to the Postcard Show, my twice-a-year descent into the dorkiest recesses of my archivist’s soul. It’s in Rosemount, half an hour away, at the local community center and armory. The threat level is posted on the door. (Theta, I think. Which means a high probability of attacks by Scientologists.) I parked my car in the lot  and sat on the curb and had my sandwich, listening to the radio. The host was talking about the time his kid fell off the counter on his head. I looked down on the ground, and saw this:

It’s a . . . something or other. These divots are usually used by surveyors, but I can’t imagine what this is for. Camp Ripley is a long long ways away. I’ve been there; I covered a National Guard weekend many years ago. Had the brain bucket and the MREs and the rest of it. Anyway. I spent two and a half hours there, and as usual by the end I was nearly mad from the tedium of it all. Say what you will, but sitting in a chair in a room that always manages to smell faintly of farted-out pants, sifting through the Minneapolis bin looking at cards you have seen nine hundred times before is not as exciting as it sounds. And of course you’re always reminded of the bland nature of your own collection: you look through the Mpls and St. Paul bins, check the Motels (got forty more, God help me) and hope to stumble across a rare Fargo card. Then a guy walks up and asks if they have any Clowns Entering Woolworth’s Big Letter chromes, and you think: could be worse.

“So what’s dead?” I heard one dealer ask a collector.

“North Dakota,” he said. “It’s over.”

“It is? Why?”

“All the major collectors quit. Donated their collections and hung it up.”

“Weren’t you one of them?”

“Well, I’d say I was one of the top collectors. Maybe had the third best collection of North Dakota.”

I looked up: Mr. Third Best had been sitting next to me an hour ago. He’d been complaining to the dealer how he kept getting outbid by a rich guy on eBay. I ventured a tale about how the exact same thing happened to me, dagnabit, and the feller was collecting Fargo. Ended up donating it all to the University and quit. The Collector had not deigned to note my comments or presence, because what I was saying was common knowledge to those in the North Dakota collecting community, I guess.

I was tempted to wander over and mash-up some genres just to make the Collector feel startled – any Venezuelan Negro See-Through Linens? – but no. I did find this:

I was surprised, because I’ve been collecting New York hotels for some time, and I’d never seen this one. It’s huge. When I got home I googled it, and nothing came up. That’s when I read the back of the card again: the hotel was described in the future tense. It will be the largest. It will be commonly owned. It was never built. Perhaps they put out the postcards to gather investors. Pity.  That’s the sort of man-made Gibraltar they can never quite find a good reason to tear down. In the end they find a bad reason, but in their hearts they know they did wrong.

Seriously: I’m sure all the developers and architects who mauled large swatchs of New York in the 60s and 70s put on a game front and told themselves they were helping the city, but some nights after a few scotch and sodas when they realized they were money men first and last and knew nothing of aesthetics or what a city truly needs, they might have felt a pang of shame. Or maybe it was just the brisket coming back at them. More soda next time, then.

Movies: I watched X-Men 3. Might as well have called it X-Men: Let’s Just Kill Off Everyone, Then. I liked the second one, but never really loved the franchise, to use that horrid word. The entire mutant-as-a-metaphor was insulting, anyway –if you know anything about kids you know that a teen with the ability to shoot fire out of his ears would not be shunned as a weirdo freak but elected class president on general principle: dude! Awesome! I can understand parents getting upset if their kid was blue and covered with hairy nodules, but the idea that parents would consider their kid “sick” if she had the telekinetic ability to raise every car in the neighborhood nine feet in the air – please. We have parents who will go across the ocean to adopt a Down’s Syndrome baby; are we to believe that the majority of American parents reject their kids because they can levitate or cough up gold by the quart or exude perfectly formed Neapolitan Ice Cream bricks from their hindquarters? Far from persecuting them, they’d get their own reality shows. Storm would be a TV meteorologist in New York. As for your morning commute, I’ll see what I can do. Stay classy, Manhattan.

And then there’s Wolverine - he’s Troubled and Frowny and Haunted, even though he appears to be a 35 year old man living in a high school with no job, surrounded by good-looking women, and able to kill whoever he wants without any sort of legal repercussions. You almost want some mutant to confront him in the kitchen some night: what you so mad about, anyway? You can heal from a gunshot to the head in six seconds and you got spikes coming out of your hands. Yeah, well, it hurts when the spikes come out. Oh really? I shoot liquid nitrogen everytime I pee. That’s my mutation. I go by the name of Holdit. Wanna switch?

I’ve more, but I’d better save some for tomorrow. Monday has five deadlines, which is a bit of a record. New Match & Quirk – see you tomorrow!


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