(Note: if you had trouble accessing the pictures in the Italian Cliche Tomato Sauce Festival Bleat pictures, all should be solved now.)

Got in the elevator. The other occupants pressed 4, which is the cafeteria and the ad deparment. “Which floor?” one asked.

“Which do you think?” I said jauntily, aware all too late how annoying I had instantly become.

“Three,” she said without hesitation.

“I have three written all over me, I do?”

She made a scowling face. “You look busy.”

Ack: I was scowling? “I was scowling?” I said. I put on a big smile. “I shouldn’t. I love my job.”

They nodded and smiled.

I think I speak for everyone in the elevator when I say that the third floor could not come fast enough. I hate it when you leave the car, and as the doors slide shut, conversation suddenly resumes.


Sorry; cleaning off a key.

Caught (G)Nat watching a forbidden show tonight: Ed, Edd, and Eddy. She was doing a puzzle and working on a drawing and playing a Barbie Pegasus computer game at the same time, so I think the deleterious effect of the show was minimized. But still. I turned it off.


“Because it rots your brain. It’s one of the few shows scientists have proven actually turns your brain into soup.”

“That’s not true.”

“Yes it is. What’s 463 plus nine million and forty two?”


“See? You’d know that if it wasn’t for this show.” She needs all the brainpower she has, since this week’s spelling test contains some remarkable examples: the Super Extra Challenge Word is “metacognition.” I’m not kidding. It means thinking about thinking. If there’s a word to describe the process of thinking about metacognition, I don’t want to know it.

Cold today; cold with flurries. I don’t mind. It’s time. Nearly all the trees are empty – one of the, er, low and wide trees in the backyard (I’m very bad at the nationalities of wood) usually keeps all its leaves until the last moment, the dumps them in a day. Yesterday was that day. Nothing now but evergreens and a few clueless hostas that never got the memo, and are still absurdly green. Huh? Hyuk! What’s goin’ on, fellas? It’s time to die. Gawrsh. The Oak Island Water Feature is mostly drained – the pump burned out before I could get the last few gallons out, so I have to get a new one this weekend. One of the lights in the backyard burned out, but that’s okay; they’ll be turned off for the season as soon as the snow hits. The Christmas lights on the gazebo roof shorted out for good a week ago – for that matter, the gazebo itself is a goner, the roof shredded by high winds and the wood veneer peeled away by the unrelenting power of the rains. Apparently I missed the “do not expose to elements” warning. We’re not used to the rumble of the thermostat and the comforting hot-pipe smell; I’m used to heading downstairs to turn off the thermostat for the upstairs before I turn in; I’m used to –

What? Oh, right. I’ve explained this before. The house, being old, was retrofit with Honeywell Muffins many years ago. (That would have been a fine name for a strip-tease artist in the Minneapolis burlesque district in the 50s. Honeywell Muffins.) The house was carved into Zones. The connection between the controls of one zone was lost forever a few years ago, and the electricians couldn’t figure out how to make it work again. So they hooked up a muffin downstairs to control the upstairs. Hey: it made sense at the time. Unfortunately, they put the muffin in the furnace room, which meant the upstairs would freeze, because the controls thought it was HOT. So the muffin was moved to the adjacent storage room, which is unheated and FREEZING, so it overheats the upstairs unless the Battle Bridge fireplace downstairs is turned on, which raises the temp in the storage closet.

I do understand why people buy new houses in the suburbs; I really do.

Speaking of the burbs: at buzz.mn today I had some photos of a gigantic 1960s office park complex that’s slated for demolition; it will be replaced by old-folk homes and offices and retail. It’ll be impressive, and I’m glad. I drive past that complex weekly to get the car washed at Mister Car Wash. When my father was here we had some time to kill, and I drove him around my usual Saturday paths, including a trip to Mr. Car Wash; he was amused at how far I went to get a car wash, even though the trip wasn’t any longer than the distance between our Fargo house and his station. Just seemed longer. I pointed out the common landmarks of our life across from Mr. Car Wash – the giant hotel where he’d come down every spring for the Midwest Petroleum Jobbers convention, the old Howard Johnson where we’d stayed the first time we came to town. The rest of the area was built up in the 60s when the freeway came to town, and it has a sad cast-off backwater feel. This was modern, once:

Hard-charging mortgage executives will park their flying cars beneath their offices – which appear to float in space! There’s a lot of unloved commercial modernism around the area, and I should document it before it all goes down.

Anyway. I drove out to get photos this morning, then posted, then went to the office for the aforementioned elevator interchange. After work was done I picked up (G)Nat, drove her home while she wailed over the world’s injustice – she hated her seatbelt and did not want fishsticks – then made dinner, did most of a Diner, wrote the Stagland and laid it out, finished a review I forgot to submit – it should be up here tomorrow at Smartflix, and if it isn’t, go there anyway! Lots of fun stuff. Then buzzwork, then this, now . . . well, I don’t exactly know. What have I forgotten?

Right: Bleat Radio Theater. This one requires you wipe the Etch-a-Sketch of your preconceptions, because Vincent Price plays a role made famous by Roger Moore. Chew on that one. Add this: the role was played in a movie by Val Kilmer. Yes, it’s Leslie Charteris’ “Saint,” which had a radio run from ’47 to ’51. It’s disconcerting to hear, because we’ve been trained to expect Price’s voice to end menace or creepy Poe-flavored intelligent madness, but that came later. The series had a sidekick cab driver, a comforting archetype of the day  - they were always decent and industrious and colorful, you know. This episode features one of the classic heavies, Sheldon Leonard. Run his voice through Damon Runyon and you have the voice of Fat Tony, the Simpsons mobster; he had a tremendous influence on the classic New York gangster cliché, changing it from the sneering deadpan psycho to the voice you’ll hear in this episode. He lived to the great age of 90 before he perished in 1997; he not only gave us great roles on radio and TV and the movies, he was the executive producer of shows such as “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and my beloved “My World and Welcome To It.”

Speaking of Van Dykes and Sheldon Leonard: the opening moments of a 1967 Sheldon Leonard produced sitcom starring Jerry Van Dyke. Don’t miss the ad at the end: it’s got so much plastic it lasts for weeks.

And that was a good thing, then. Heck, it's a good thing now.

Anyway: here’s the Bleat Radio Theater. Mystery and intrigue await.


There’s also a lackluster new Stagland update, creepy and ookey as ever, and buzz.mn all day. See you there!

Still here? Buy the book! Thank you very much.