I read a lot of stuff this time of year from people who complain about resetting the clocks – it’s damned unnatural, I tell you! I don’t like falling back, but springing forward is a wonderful tonic; a few months ago it was dark at supper time, and now it’s light at seven. It’s new now; it will be unnoticed in a week. We will get greedy and impatient for spring in a fortnight. Honest to God, this part of the year is like the last half of the third “Lord of the Rings” movie.

A short weekend; sped fast at a brisk clip. Even the long slog through the congealed swamp of Sunday afternoon seemed to go quickly. The perils of keeping busy, I guess. I did the Northern Alliance radio show on Saturday afternoon, then ran some errands. Found myself at Best Buy, looking for a guitar pedal.

Then I saw it. Again. I’d seen it before, but it was gone the next time. Here it was again. Well If you save up your Best Buy gift cards and store credit and wait for a day when your decision to wander back to the musical instrument section coincides magically with an unannounced sale, what do you get? Or rather, what might you buy, after performing an elaborate series of justifications?

This. The reissued Seafoam Stratocaster. Complete with pre-aged plastic knobs.

We’re very happy together, thank you. I showed it to (G)Nat, expecting a WOW, DAD; she made a face. “It’s kinda ugly,” she said.

You are not my child.

“I liked the red one better.”

The red one was a cheap thing made out of balsa wood, child. It went out of tune if you looked at it. The red one was designed for beginners whose parents did not want to spend more than $150 on something they hoped was a passing fancy, an inevitable gesture of a youthful imagination fired by the raucous assertions of sensation-seeking popular culture. This is a Stratocaster.

“I don’t like the color.”

The color is a hallowed color. It is the color of finned cars and diner formica. This color speaks of a world aborning from the ashes of the old, a world of eternal cool and spaceships and atom-powered houses and the triumph of America, a joyous energy that runs through the world with tremulous excitement, promising liberation and exhilaration and hamburgers with cheese and mayo. Buddy Holly died so we could have this color.

“Can you please play the red one at the school concert?”




“FINE.” She stamped off, harrumphing.

While I was at the store I looked at new straps; nothing caught my eye. One of them was Soviet-flavored: a red star under an arch of stylized wheat. ‘Cause the Red Army is cool now, I guess. If all you know is a Sasha Dith video, I suppose it would be.

I can’t tell you how odd this seems. To be playing a guitar again. A lot. To ask the clerk for a pack of bullets, 9 on the top if you got ‘em, and a pack of Dunlop picks, white. I haven’t thought about the white picks in a decade and a half, but the very fact of putting the guitar in my hands somehow unlocked the synapses in which these details had been stored. The white ones are good for fast strumming. The grey ones are good for chunky lead work. Don't you know.

Watched (no spoilers given, ever, unless preceded by drastic unmistakable warnings) “3:10 to Yuma.”


I expected Russell Crowe being Rogueish and Christian Bale looking Grimly Determined, and that’s what it was. It was also preposterous, and made me miss “Deadwood” very much. I’d been warned that it “falls apart” in the end, and that’s true, in the sense that a Kleenex tissue “falls apart” when hit with a high-pressure water hose. The final scenes would have been more credible if Ninjas rode into town on giant ostriches and killed everyone with light sabers. It’s so preposterous that you cannot accept the movie as a depiction of a sequence of events that occur on the ordinary mortal plain, so it has to be something else – some sort of allegorical tale that reveals its true nature in the last sequence. Oh, that wasn’t about a good guy dragging a killer around; it was Flawed Man earning the respect of the Devil. (As some reviewers have suggested.) That would make more sense than a sociopath getting a last-minute conscience implant.

Someone needs to reinvent the reinvented Western: give us a bad guy who’s just plain bad, without leavening attributes like Bible-quoting, skill with a sketchpad, courtly manners and a tearjerker backstory. Just make him mean. Mean as a snake. A low-down, no-good sidewinding snake what ain’t had a decent thought in his mind since he first grabbed for his mama’s teat. Trust me, we’d still find something to like about him.

How I do miss Al Swearengen.

(You know, some people think they made that name up, because he swore so much. Nope.)

Today’s random little piece of pop culture from the ancient scrolls of the Strib microfiche: an ad for Kleerex, a pimple-remover that gave blemish sufferers expanded access to money and sexual partners. The first two panels show our heroine’s plight quite starkly: a handsome authority figure manages to yell at her with his mouth closed, while she thinks: my, this economic contraction is rather severe. Every position is filled.  She doesn’t realize she’s being turned down because she was nailed in the cheek with a load of zit-shot from the double-ought pump-action pimplegun.   In between the first and second panels she must have told her friend about her experience at the office, and her friend – who is prettier and has clear skin, and thus has authority in the ways of the world – steers her over to a drugstore display window, and reminds her friend that she doesn’t get jobs because of the angry, white-top’d crop of hideous zits that spatter her cheeks. Also because of her stupid hat.


The boys in the office discuss the latest addition as though she wasn’t even there – but of course she is, quietly praising KLEEREX for its power to restore her feminine allure. As we see in the fourth panel, though, she will always be pimply in her own mind; even while suspended conjoined circulatory organs appear in mid-air to suggest that mutual lip-pressing, courtship, legal conjoining and societally-sanctioned sexual activity will follow, she’s still thinking about KLEEREX and pimples.

New Matchbook, here. See you at buzz.mn all day!