Short one here, since I’ve much work to do, and much homework and piano practice to shepherd. Sitting outside by the chiminea, which is Latin for “gives no heat,” and actually sounds like some sort of venereal disease suffered by Dick Van Dyke in “Mary Poppins.”

Today I got into a large plastic hamster ball and rolled around a parking lot. It was a promotion for the movie “Bolt,” and I did a video about, well, rolling around in a large plastic hamster ball. They’re as difficult to steer as you might imagine, and at one point I found myself stumbling inside the ball. Instincts told me to duck my head and somersault inside the ball, which I did, but unfortunately I shot myself through the hole used to enter the ball, and I was deposited on the concrete, back and head first. I look like I’m being birthed by a small, transparent Death Star.

I swear to God, it appears I could write one of yesterday’s pieces every day; almost every commentator on the left seems moved to shoot spleen-juice out of their fingers over this woman. If they’d ignore her, the phenomenon would be half as big, but no. Look, a bonfire – what should we do? Blow on it! As hard as we can! Roger Ebert is the latest:

(H)ow can you be her age and never have gone to Europe?

Because she was busy? Look, Europe is nice but it is not Mecca. Americans are not required to go there as an act of faith.  I agree that travel broadens one, and the Grand Tour is a jolly tonic, but it is possible to live a rich, diverse, intellectually satisfying life without ever setting foot in Paris, and you wish the Germans had gotten that message. It’s not as if America doesn’t have magnificent museums – in fact, a Louvre exhibit is coming to Minneapolis this year. We have cathedrals; they’re just younger. We have great architecture, and most of it wasn’t built by inbred white-whigged autocrats in tights who swanned around a mansion built on the backs of the peasants. I agree it's a good place to visit and study, but I'd no more hold the lack of a European vacation against someone than I'd criticize a big-city film critic for not visiting all 50 states. I'd give him a pass on the duplicates, like those two Dakotas.

Ebert is also bothered that she went to five colleges; he went to one. The man seems remarkably incurious about other colleges.  

He continues:

Palin is a shallow, chirpy person with those vaguely alarming eyeglasses. Now her fans all want a pair. Remember back when women wore glasses that departed their ears in plastic swoops and swirls? My theory is, anyone who wears glasses that look weird is telling me something I don't want to know.

It has come to this, then: he is criticizing her for a style of glasses she doesn’t wear, but seem stylistically connected to the ones she does. She also wears these glasses. Here’s Roger’s glasses, which appear to be modelled on portable TV sets. What do they tell me? I don't want to know!


This week's Noir was called “The Big Combo.” Meaning? An obese small band? A special deal at Burger King? Doesn’t matter; “Combo” had a slangy sound, and “Big” was the adjective that guaranteed you’d be spending the next two hours in Dark City. It had the requisite dark-haired dame:


The heroine, if you can call her that, was actually blonde, and she was prized by the villain – a smooth but dead-souled gangster, and the hero, a tortured cop who always looked like he wanted to crumple up pieces of paper in his hand and stalk out of the room. Over anything. The gunsel:

Who’s that guy on the left? Hey, it’s . . . it’s . . . it’s the cook from “Forbidden Planet,” isn’t it? Trust me. It’s odd to see him kill people. Aw, Cookie. C’mon. Don’t be that way. Anyway: it’s a good B, but it has one unintentionally amusing scene. The gangster is torturing the cop for info, but he doesn’t want to leave a mark – so he grabs a henchman’s hearing aid. (Note the light in Cookie’s eyes in the back – nice touch.)

 He puts the hearing aid plug in the cop’s ear   . . . testing, testing . . .


Later he holds up the device to an old cathedral-style tabletop radio, and turns up the crazy beatnik jazz all the way up. The cop passes out from the pain. The pain of jazz.

But that’s not why I mention it. Ready? Here’s the theme. Ba-da-dada, ba-da da-da. Wait for it.

One last thing. This is from a trip to New York in March of 2002. It's shaky and amateurish, assembled from stuff I grabbed at random - which explains the overlong shot of the painted sunset - or sunrise, if you want. The Star of David and the Cap of Liberty had particular meaning that trip. (We'll ignore for the duration the rather overenergetic causes and eventually undemocratic governments that used the cap.) What counts is the display in Grand Central station, as you'll see if you watch it.

The music is the theme from the Ric Burns New York documentary; it's called "City of Dreams" by Brian Keane, and ever since I put it to these images I cannot listen to it anymore without going right back to that day, and the days that followed.



New Advertising page - the site's back! And I did find some photos of the Forum's interior - a rare intra-week Mpls site update, then, here.