MONDAY, Sept. 15

Certainly has changed, hasn’t it?

Forty-second street, then and now. The picture above was taken in the pre-Taxi-Driver era, but only by a few years. The marquee to which I added some titles was the Victory’s marquee; in the box above the New victory is lined with blue lights. As someone who recalls 42nd street in its most craptacious period, I have no nostalgia for its gritty incarnation; romantic Lou-Reed ideas of the glamorous life of a heroin addict aside, it was just nasty. It’s missing something without the marquees, though, and I think that something is “marquees.”

Why this image? No reason. Except that this week we start the “100 Mysteries” project, with a new really old scratchy public domain mystery movie every week. It’ll start tomorrow or Wednesday. Also in movie news: my weekly Strib video has its own page now, so you can see all the old ones in one spot. This week’s installment, which details my experiences inside a gigantic plastic ball, goes up around noon.

I’m running on the barest wisps of fumes. It was a ghastly weekend. Normally I try to be of good cheer here, but this was just stupid. Nothing I will relate compares to actual problems, such as those suffered by Houstonians, and the root cause is just probably nothing more than weather-related: it’s been dark and cold and rainy, and it just reminds me of the bleakness and solitude to come. (That’s the downside of telecommuting. And when I do go to the office, I’m so far away from everything I might as well be telecommuting. That’s the downside of parenting as well, I suppose; when they’re gone, you often remember when they were always around.)

As you may have noted if you follow my leavings on Twitter, I am having network problems. The modem problem has been eliminated. The router problem has been eliminated, and I know this because I bought a new one, plugged it in, and had the same problems. Which is like divorcing someone because she picks her teeth with a knife, marrying her twin, then watching her pick up knife on your honeymoon and remove spinach from her gums. You have to say you weren’t warned, in an overall sense, but it’s still disheartening. The only thing I can do now is check the wiring, and if the cords seem stout and strong, hang myself with them.

In addition: had a 90-minute technical support session to hook up my old iPhone in my wife’s name. Eventually required a conference call with an AT&T man; he had me pop the SIM, whereupon I discovered that the genius at the AT&T store had installed a 3G SIM on a 2G phone. “That might be a problem,” said the AT&T guy. Or it could give the phone super powers, like Iron Man’s chest plate. The phone could be so powerful it could call people who weren’t born yet and leave them a message. Won’t they be surprised. There was one moment of levity, though; while they were listening to me proceed through the on-screen activation process, I came to the End User License Agreement, and told them to hold on while I read it.

Well, I laughed. In that bitter unlaughing sort of way.

The day I bought the router I did more than the usual amount of Saturday shopping; also bought a jacket at Eddie Bauer, one of those in-between thin jackets for the nine days we have between shorts and parkas. It’s green and made of some strange new miracle fabric; makes me feel as if it’s from 1997 as envisioned by 1972. I should be smoking Silva Thins and wearing Foster Grants. The clerk liked it, though – there’s a surprise – and said it looked good. Well, one heavily-invested store-manager can’t be wrong, can she? In the bag. Also visited the Bath and Body Works, which has rolled out its autumn home fragrances. They have the usual pumpkin aroma; I don’t know why anyone wants their house to smell that much like pumpkins. It’s like living inside a moist gourd. The Apple scent is nice, but I’m a sucker for the rich smoky scents of autumn, and was drawn to “Leaves,” which presumably means the dead ones on fire, since actual fallen leaves smell like nothing. The actual scent is peppery and pointed, but just seeing LEAVES on the bottle in a brown color cemented the connection, so my brain was already expecting the “fall” relays to trip. If the can had said “Turkish goat-leash” or “Belgian rudder grease” I might have had a different reaction, I suppose.

Home Depot for a light bulb. They no longer carry five-inch globe lights. Noted. Went to their mortal enemy, Menard’s, where they had the globes in abundance. They also had a sale on peanuts, and my kind of peanuts at that. You may ask if it’s possible to have a personal peanut preference, and the answer is yes: Fisher’s Golden Roast. Got four jars. I wondered if somewhere on a parallel earth a man was buying one jar and picked up four light bulbs on impulse. Who knows? Back into the drizzle, back in the car.

Target. I did not see this coming:

I’ve only been aware of Domokun as an internetesque punchline; now he’s an Official Target Spokesman.

That night I spent on the network, fruitlessly, and watched a black-and-white movie of limited interest: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. Barbara Stanwick, Van Heflin, Kirk Douglas (in his first role.) Van’s great, and the film had a hard edge in spots, but it was also a bit of a melodramatic weeper. Astoundingly stark ending. I bring it up only for the lady who played the Mean Nasty Aunt Who Controlled the Headstrong Young Heiress:

Recognize her? Dame Judith Anderson, aka T'Pau to my generation. The Vulcan matriarch from "Amok Time." It’s amazing to think she always looked like this – but of course we’re used to seeing her in color on a chair carried by pointy-eared devils. It’s that damned black-and-white wall – little from the period of dominant b&w seems like it should or can connect to the world of color media, especially if the medium was TV. But it’s her. And it was her in "Star Trek 3," too:

More time has elapsed between now and Star Trek 3 than between her late-60s Trek appearance and that black-and-white film. Meaning, nothing, I suppose, except that time is subjectively experienced. As Einstein would have said: well, duh.

Sunday was more networking and fist-shaking at the rain and general yawning, since I’d gotten about 5.5 hours of sleep. Went to the grocery store for stocking up, and let me tell you, there are days when you see things you just don’t think about very much.

I’m sure they’re quality chicken feet, but the thing about modern supermarkets is this: generally, not a lot of feet. Before that, though, I’d taken back the router, resisted trading it in for a Nano, then resisted going back to Eddie Bauer to see if they had anything on sale. It would look pathetic to walk in with the jacket I just bought there the day before. So I went to Radio Shack for a Linksys router. They had one! But not in “N” flavor.

“Why do you want N?” the clerk asked. He said it like were in Atlanta and I’d requested a Pepsi. I left the store, and noticed a crowd outside in the mall  - pedestrians watching the Vikings game on TV. One of them looked familiar.

“Jacket’s working out for you, I see,” she said, The store manager.

Every mall is a small town.


New Matchbook - #300! See you at the Strib video site around noon. (It may be up on the main page before it hits the archive.) will be light - I'm taking the day off to do some stuff at Natalie's school. I'll twitter whenever the mood strikes. Have a fine day.