The new Entertainment Weekly arrived yesterday, with a Star Trek cover. Can’t read it. Aside from the casting, I don’t want to know a thing about it; it must all be fresh, like the wonder and awe that attended the first 15 seconds of Star Wars Episode One before we realized we were about to see Jedis on a trade mission, which is like sending Ninjas for the GATT talks. Then again, most EW cover stories don’t tell you anything anyway, except that everyone involved with the project is sure it’s going to be awesome.

I’ll know I’m in goods hands if the doors make the right sound.

Spock had better say “Fascinating,” but it can’t be a jokey okay-we-got-that-out-of-the-way moment, or an “edgy” updated moment like Spock at an Orion strip joint. Bones will be allowed to say “He’s dead, Jim,” as well as “I’m a doctor, not an unrelated profession,” but Scotty – if I were writing it – would tweak his lines, especially if Simon Pegg’s playing the engineer. “They’re the laws of physics, Captain. I can’t change them. But I can fool them a wee bit.” Something like that.

I have about 960,000 gallons of pent-up WANT riding on this one, but I’m pretending it doesn’t exist until it does. I should also note I’m one of 16 people who actually liked “Nemesis” – certainly enjoyed it more than “Insurrection,” which was nothing but the Denny’s Senior Breakfast Club attacks Marin County.

Cool bright day;  Fall seems anxious to be done with us, somehow. I don’t know if we said something wrong. Thinking of winter ties a stone around the heart, and we’re already plotting our escapes. In the chill of the morning the parents no longer linger at the bus stop; we hunch our shoulders, wave goodbye to the kids we presume are waving back behind the glass, and head home. I pass the boulevard trees, and I always feel grateful – they’re the last to go. They’re green through the end of October. They were sticks when we moved in; now they’re four stories tall. There’s a weed-tree in the backyard my wife hates, but I can’t speak against it; I like all our trees – we have an inordinate number of trees for an urban house – but this one I remember from its younger days. It’s a scene from a home video. My wife was on a business trip. I was home alone with Natalie for a few days. She was learning to walk. We were walking beneath the tree, and she fell over and laughed. It was the week after 9/11.

There were four huge elms down the street when we moved in, and they formed a great high canopy over an intersection. The post 9/11 home vids I shot had pictures of the trees in the morning mist the day after the attack. The trees are all gone; left behind are semi-circles in the sidewalks, which were formed to accommodate the massive trunks. You see those everywhere if you walk enough: the only record of something that’s gone is the effect it had on the things that survived. 

But. Winter doesn’t seem imminent. Good; I’m having a hard time getting into the Halloween spirit, let alone the Christmas Spirit. Why anyone should feel the former is a mystery, though. The only part of Halloween I enjoy is Halloween. The day itself. Or the night itself. Even then, it’s nothing – until the kids are done knocking on the door and my daughter is asleep and the world is quiet and empty. Then the jack-o-lanterns  seem to be broadcasting something on a different frequency. Well, it will be fun. For kids, no day has the same delicious shiver as October 31st. And no day has the baleful clang of The First of November.

Up early tomorrow to do a Strib thing; if it fails, I will be silent about it. I did get some news on the new blog situation, which looks juicy and fun; as promised, I’ll be going to a different format with an expanded mandate. But technical limitations prevent multiple images in a single post for the moment – which is why “100 Mysteries” will always be rolled out in Bleat format. In case you’re just joining us: my wife gave me a compilation of 100 public-domain “mystery” movies on DVD, and I’m going through them in order, posting the details. It’s a two-year project. But they’re all multi-year projects: today’s Minneapolis update was originally posted in 1999, for heaven’s sake, and Friday sees the return of the newly respiffed Restaurant Postcard site, which has gone from 25 cards to 100.

Well, find a niche and fill it, as the evolutionary impulse decreed. Anyway:


This would seem to suggest he had left:

Perhaps the previous one was "Bulldog Drummond Wanders Away" or Bulldog Drummond Strolls Off, Absently Scratching Himself" or "Bulldog Drummond Excuses Himself from the Dinner Table to See A Man About a Horse" but it doesn't matter; might as well call them "Bulldog Drummond Does Something" and people would still sit through it, patiently watching the cast go through the paces, waiting for the lead feature to start.

This one comes before the previous one, I think. Bulldog and his fiancee are still not married, which can be partially explained by the fact that Miss Clavering looks different in this one. Algae and Tenny the Stroke-Addled Butler are played by the same actors. I think. It’s hard to tell, since either the print is horribie or it was shot using an all-ectoplasmic cast:

Here’s the villain, Baron Von Milkpuss, horribly scarred during an explosion in a flashbulb factory:

As usual, the Scotland Yard inspector shows up, and doesn’t bother to ask Bulldog why the hell he never takes off his trenchcoat and hat. Are you naked under there, man? Been sprawled over the desk getting a caning from the manservant? The lighting and the condition of the print reveals that the doors to Bulldog’s estate might be painted. Possible?

Miss Claveringlyingly is kidnapped by a femme-fatale with a Roosian accent; it seems she and the other indistinctly featured bad guy are revenging the death of someone Bulldog sent to the gallows in a previous movie. They attempt to lure him to his doom with . . . riddles. For the audience’s sake, the riddles are repeated often enough so you can play along too. (Brief flash video; mouse over for controls.)

The damned thing is round and flat - but it isn't a hat? Not a hat? Yet it still carries a message, despite its non-hat status? What could it be?

Why, it’s a gramophone record. They go to the record player, and hello, there’s a record on the platter with a typewritten label that says “For Capt. Drummond.” They could have told him to go listen to the gramophone, I suppose, but we chewed up five minutes with that riddle.

Following the record’s instructions, they head to a dive bar where everyone’s singing “What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor.” Always thought that was a curious song; why do you have to do anything with him? Let him be. If you’re a sailor yourself, which seems to be implied by the song, surely this isn’t your first encounter with a drunken sailor. Draw on your experience.  First suggestion: put him in the longboat until he’s sober. Why? Why go to the trouble? Leave him where he is. Then there’s the conclusion: “Oh, God, we’ve got to drown him.” Yes, that follows quite logically. 

Algae looks like a Kiwanis president at his first leather bar:


 On it goes, with a complete lack of suspense or drama – at least by modern standards. The camera is bolted to the floor; every shot is hip-to-head, and the bad guys  construct an elaborate fate instead of just shooting everyone in the head and leaving it at that. In true “Batman” TV show fashion, the villains walk away once the fatal machinery has been set in motion. Nothing can possibly go wrong with our plan now! Having waited a year for revenge, let us now deny ourselves the pleasure of seeing our adversary's dead body, and drive away, cackling. The best part comes early, when Bulldog himself sums up the first half of every one of these damned things:


Because it's 1937 and this isn't the main feature.

One more to go! Previous installments are here. New Mpls update; see you at While it lasts.