So I called Dick Contino today. He –

Hold on, forgot something. Have to check my mail . . . ah. There it is. Friday morning I’ll be doing a show called “Weekend America,” which runs on public radio stations all across the land. If I don’t make an utter fool of myself I may be invited back. So that’s tomorrow. I don’t know when it will air, but probably Saturday, since it’s a timely show about timely events. Check your local listings.

So I called Dick Contino. If you’ve read James Ellroy’s “Hollywood Nocturne” or seen “Daddy-O” on MST3K, you’ve heard of Dick: the most noted heartthrob accordianist of his time.

Dang, hold on, have to check the mail again. . . Ah. Good! There’s the info. Cat’s in the bag, bag’s in the river. I will be doing a super-secret project with Mike Nelson of MST3K fame in a while, and the details have been nailed. Can’t believe I forgot to mention Dick Contino to him on the phone. Anyway.  Enough name dropping and ego-buffing. This is Dick Contino:

That’s a photo from an appearance in the Twin Cities in ‘49, I think, right before the unpleasantness with the draft board. Found them in the paper’s archives a long time ago, and had been meaning to send a copy to the fellow. His website had his phone number but no email contact, so I rang him up. Left a message on his machine.

I didn’t say I talked to him, just that I called him.

Thursday was a day off, and that meant relaxed, leisurely work. Two Lance Lawsons, of course, including one whose solution hinged on identifying typefaces; I can’t tell you how happy that made me. In the afternoon I went to the Parent-Teacher conference. Took (G)Nat along – she sat in the hall in the classic trepidacious posture of a child knowing her Future is being discussed by the Authorities. Before the conference we examined the art on the wall; there were several dozen Uncle Sams with placards indicating the policies of the student should he or she ascend to the executive position. About 2/3rds advocated the planting of trees; one-third indicated a willingness to use presidential power to ban smoking. Most said they would make sure there was peace and everyone was happy. I asked (G)Nat what she thought of that.

“I don’t think the president can do that,” she said. “The happy part I mean.” She read another one out loud: “I would let everyone do what they want and make everyone free.” She winced. “Everyone free? Let robbers out of jail? I don’t think so.”

Another platform plank: “I would put cameras everywhere to stop robbers.” I asked (G)Nat if she agreed. (She’s afraid of Robbers.)

“It wouldn’t work,” she said. “You can’t have cameras everywhere.”

“But what if they did have cameras everywhere outside? They might make sure no one could do anything wrong.”

“I don’t want to be on camera.”

“Even if it stopped robbers?”

She shook her head. “They would figure it out anyway. With eeeevil plans.

That they would.

The good thing about the radio tomorrow: I won’t have to worry about a close shave. Before I did the Orchestra Hall MC event Sunday (you know, my life sounds so much more interesting on paper) I gave myself a very careful shave; got out the special Bath & Body Works C. W. Bigelow shave cream, which uses a secret Italian barber recipe, and has eucalyptus emollients and such. The scent of the stuff haunts me every time I lather up; it takes me back, way back, to childhood, to my grandparent’s farm. It’s the smell of their bathroom. Oh, I’d love to tell you that Grandpa squeezed out a ribbon of aromatic paste, lathered up with a brush, spanked the strop and shaved his furrowed face with a blade so sharp you could the whisper of the stubble as it met the edge of the steel. But I’m remembering the smell of Lifebuoy and hard water, I think. Doesn’t matter – for some reason the scent has a powerful connection, and every time I use the cream I’m back at the Harwood farmhouse.

I probably won’t buy it again for that very reason: sometimes you just want a shave.

Since (G)Nat was at a sleepover Thursday night, we ordered Chinese. Apparently “kung pao” is Chinese for undercooked greasy chicken nubbins. My wife had a classic MSG reaction, too; itchy twitch throat-closing light-headedness. On the other hand, delivery was free.

And so ends the week: a good one. Off to watch “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” – the 30 minute shows were usually good, much better than “The Twilight Zone,” but the hour-long shows were spectacular. The one I saw last night starred Inger Stevens, who always struck me as the ideal choice to play Polly Purebread. The bad guys were clean-cut surfer dudes, and let me tell you: there’s something deeply creepy about buzz-cut hep cats who talk about “getting their kicks” while the bongos play on the soundtrack. They’re worse than hairy mad hopped-up-on-goofball types. I’ve also noticed that the last three episodes featured young blondes married to older men. Well, it is the Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

New video up on! It’s the joys of the Home and Garden show. I hope to post some outtakes later as well, so stop by. Have a grand weekend, and thanks, as ever, for the visits.