Today was picture day, and to repeat what I said at - or would have, if the post had made it through, which it didn't:

Don’t know if this is so in your portion of the Metro or the world beyond, but today is picture day at my kid’s school. This meant an extra amount of hair-fussing, and the inevitable complaining, that come when you try to make your child presentable for history. You’re just trying to pull my hair! Yes. Yes, I am. That conforms wit my general modus vivendi, doesn’t it? I yank your hair on purpose, I put scorpions in your underwear drawer, I dress you in itchy burlap and feed you clotted gruel studded with squirming weevils. Why is this picture so important, though? Thanks to digital cameras today’s generation is probably the most photographed in history. Yes, I know, it’s nice to have a professional shot, and it’s a tradition to have a book at year’s end with all the heads arrayed alphabetically with the same lighting. But as one the guys at the bus stop pointed out this morning, this leaves a record that can be accessed by anyone. You get famous, and people find your yearbook, and your ancient pictures are unearthed for all to see. There really is a permanent record. 

My high school portrait is regrettable – the brown clothes, the quiana shirt, the hair down my eyebrows. For the last one I had a good excuse – pimples of Vesuvian dimensions – but the rest was all done in conformity with the styles of the time. Can’t blame me. No, I blame my parents, who didn’t argue against my choices. You’re just trying to make me a laughing stock in a quarter century! No, you can do that on your own. If you apply yourself.

Today wasn’t any worse than most days, really, but every morning I am accused of the malicious hair-yanking, as well as deliberate scourging of the ear and next with the hated brush. Fine; go get lice and we’ll shave it off. Seriously! Go to school and wear everyone’s hats.

This is a strange and vacant week; it all feels oddly deflated, for reasons I can’t name. Perhaps we’ve all absorbed and internalized new rhythms, or at least come to believe that the old ways are on the way out, and since nothing new has taken their place yet, we wait. Everything goes on as normal, but it doesn’t feel normal. Unless you’re around kids, and then the comforting verities return. I don’t remember much from being eight, sad to say – the failure to remember childhood in all its details is one of the cruelest, and kindest, features of the human brain. Then again, it seems less important than ever to remember the details; I’ve never lived in an age so blithely unconcerned with anything that didn’t happen a month or two again. The past is the enemy of idealism, after all, and we can’t have that. Because this time we’re going to get it right.

Watching the debates tonight, and then I have a column to do - but that won't stop us from continuing the grueling process of chewing through the 100 Mysteries DVD series. Here we go:

I'm starting to enjoy the Bulldog Drummond series. Really. The regular characters are like old friends now, but you could say that about the guards who enter your cell to give you some salve for the leg shackles once a week.

He’s not on active duty; he’s not a member of the official constabulary. He butts his nose into crimes and plots of high importance, most of which seem to happen within a six-mile radius of his house. Now he has secret police? Well, if it’s anything like its predecessors, the title has nothing to do with anything. They could call this Bulldog Drummond’s Spanish Goiter or Bulldog Drummond Pees Bleach and it would have the same relationship to the actual plot.

In this one, Bulldog is – yes, you guessed it – set to marry Miss Clavering, young rich babe, but he finds another reason to stall the marriage and run off with his men friends. One of the new additions to the troop, besides Algae the stupid, bumbling friend and Tenny, the stroke-addled butler, is this fellow:

Once again, it looks like Terry Jones. What he’s doing at Bulldog’s mansion will be clear in a bit, I hope – but first we must suffer through a dream sequence. Really. Here’s Bulldog at his nuptials, looking drunk, scared and stupid:

Ah, it seems that Algae, fresh from drawing up the plans for an interocitor, has a flower to show the lovely bride.

Ho ho, it’s a novelty flower, one of those squirty things.

Right in the kisser.

We’ll leave the symbolism to the experts, who could base a career on Bulldog Drummond and Repressed Homosexuality in Inter-war English Movies That Last Under an Hour. Speaking of the running time: the movie has no plot 14 minutes in, but it does have time for a dream sequence that also includes a montage of exciting action scenes from other Bulldog Drummond movies. Odd how all his dreams are in the third person.

The movie reruns the Africa fight sequence we saw in the last movie. But it was the “last movie” only in the cheaper-than-dirt / dumber-than-stone sense of the “100 Mystery’ compilation authors; there was at least six movies between this one and the last one we saw, and of course the ones in between are #5 and #6. Also it seems that this is the sixth time the wedding has been postponed.

A prowler interrupts the nightmare, beats Drummond senseless, flips his butler and kicks him – which would surely have broken the old man’s hip, as well as ruptured an internal organ – then flees with a book containing secret codes. Turns out there’s ancestral jewels hiding in Bulldog’s ancestral home, and that means only one thing: the rest of the movie will take place on this single set! Hearing the racket, the fiancée shows up with twitchy old Aunt Clavering. This is her nightgown.

Soon we meet the villain, Baron VonLampleaner:


Actually, that’s Leo Carroll, whom we trusted as kids because he was the head of UNCLE. He does mean things to Terry Jones, requiring the gang to break into the room with an axe. A body is found, prompting Auntie Clavering to issue the closest approximation of a Jonny Quest pterodactyl sound I’ve heard in a while:


The secret code, incidentally, is a bitch to crack:

The jewels are hidden in the Yrarbil? What room in the house could that possibly be?

The conclusion is actually pretty good for the series – lots of action in a dungeon straight out of an Indiana-Jones-style movie. Spiked ceilings descending, fabled treasure, secret levers . . . spiked ceilings descending again, that sort of thing.   There’s a fight in an underground lake – granted, it’s about the size of a trampoline – and you can tell it’s the 30s, because Miss Clavering gets soaking wet and still looks as if she’s wearing six layers of wool underwear.

Four down – two more Bulldogs to go. I fear we have seen the best of the series. We’ll see next week – on 100 Mysteries!


Today: the #42 hit, by that big sack o' chipper "jazz," Paul Whiteman; singer unknown. Enjoy! See you at for a Lance Lawson Thursday. Oh - also a new old ad in the archive.