FRIDAY, Aug 22

Guess where I was today?


Late summer at the park now; typing on a park bench. No one’s in the pool, but at least it still has water; there’s nothing sadder than the bare pool when the kids want to swim. Why is it closed? It’s 85 degrees! Priorities, child. Go run your head under the $50,000 water fountains we’re building.

It’s warm enough to swim, even with the sun sliding down. Hot day – which I spent, of course, at the Fair with Natalie. My column – front page of the paper, hurrah – details the event, and you can find it here. All I have now are photos, and not enough of those – when you have a child in tow it’s hard to document things. Plus, there’s not that much new. Some years it looks exactly as it did last year. Then something truly new pops out:

Bacon! Big fat bacon! Unapologetic bacon, and more: dig the shirts worn by staff:

Smoking, drinking, bacon and sex: I remember when only one of those was a sin.

We took a ride on the Old Mill, which is detailed in the column. Space prevented me from detailing my exact reaction, which was (long, 127 character scream, suppressed.) I’m reasonably claustrophobic, if that makes sense; elevators don’t bother me, planes don’t bother me, but sitting in a tiny wooden boat moving through a tunnel that made the “Great Escape” exit route look like the nave of St. Peter’s  tripped every oh-shite bone in my soul. I turned on my iPhone to use the flashlight feature, and my GOD it was narrow and my STARS the ceiling was low. You couldn’t see anything six inches in front of your face, so you couldn’t tell where you were, and at times you couldn’t tell if you were moving. It’s an old make-out tunnel, of course. Hence the lack of distractions. Eventually we saw light, and were relieved . . . until the boat moved away from the light into the second half of the ride. Plus, the “water” was this lurid blue, like Drano, or the stuff in the Duff Beer “Small World” ride. Ugh. Yes, I know: bwalk, bwalk bwalk. But confinement + absolute darkness does not equal merriment for me.

More Fair fun: an ancient palm-reading machine in the crappy arcade.

If you believe in the palm reading part, you'll probably read in the electronic part, too.

They had some claw games that converted quarters into instant disappointment – put one in, nothing works! I went for a refund, and found an old man with haggard, exhausted face ; I told him the E-Z-Prise over there had taken two quarters. The one in the middle. He nodded, walked over, looked at it, then took two quarters out of his pocket and gave them to me. Apparently we had to be in the presence of the machine to get a refund, perhaps to shame it. He wasn’t the first unhappy person I’d met at the Fair; on the way over we’d gotten some attitude from the bus driver. It began to pull away just as we got close, and I ran madly, waving my arms, shouting HEY. That’s the magic word you summon in these situations: HEY. The bus stopped, which was good, because I wasn’t looking where I was going and would have gone straight into a bus shelter at Wile E Coyote speed in another second, and that would have been all kinds of blood. Well, one kind, mine. The driver opened the door and stared down at us over her glasses. I thanked her and thanked her some more, but I knew I was a bad wittle boy here.

Upon getting to the Fair, the driver noted that she was letting us off at the U of M Drop-Off spot, and we should take the bus back from the same place. Look for the banner that says U OF M BUS DROP OFF. Right here. Hmm. This failed to gibe with previous experience, and when you’re having a gibe-failure you examine your memories for accuracy. I was also assisted in my doubts by a large banner 20 yards away; it read U of M BUS PICK-UP.

So I asked the driver if, er, we could also catch a bus there, and there was a moment of silence. After which she got on the mike, and said “Correction. You will be picked at by Pick-Up spot,  not the Drop-Off spot.” I wanted to say “aren’t you glad you picked us up?” but that would be pushing it.

More food:


Enjoy! Then expire of a constipation-induced heart-attack in the bathroom.

Food in the raw state:

Cows. They could not care less. They're like kids who get a trip to Rome and spend it in the hotel watching TV.

I’ll be heading back to the Fair next week, but in between now and then I have to get out of town. I’ll be blogging and shooting video from the DNC convention, so head over to to read all the fun. I’ll also be posting on Twitter as much as possible. Fun? I certainly hope so. History in the making!

Have a great weekend, and see you Monday.