The iTunes just kicked up “Heart and Soul,” which I haven’t heard in years. Didn’t miss it, either. But there was a time when it seemed every kid could play it on the piano, regardless of whether he could actually play the piano. It was the jazz equivalent of “Chopsticks,” another hearty chestnut that echoed through the church basements of America on Youth Night.  Perhaps the only piece of music that seems designed to mimic energetic chomping on a mouthful of tinfoil.

Warm bright Saturday, miserable Sunday. Temps in the thirties, snow in the morn – evil, laughing, malicious snow. But it was all quite good; Friday night was perfect. Everything proceeded exactly according to plan - the supper, the nap, coffee, Balvenie, a "Cracker" episode watched while writing all the usual weekly updates, scanning and coding on old sites, (Lance Lawson and New York Postcards, updates to be announced later this week), and the penultimate Mad Men with a 3 AM bedtime. The only wrinkle was Natalie's desire to have a website for her own drawings. She didn't want a site apended to, either. On this point she was emphatic. So I regsitered a site and prepared to re-enter WordPress Hell, but that will bear some fruit here soon.

He said, obliquely. All I know is that I have to change my workflow. There are several balls in the air, and if each one lands on my head as expected, you may have to endure the arduous process of changing your bookmarks. It'll mean more product, not less. I just have to detonate this end-of-the-evening routine - I mean, it may be bright & early Monday for you, but it's Sunday for me, and given the afternoon spent Saturday on the Strib video, this means seven-day-workweeks. I use the term "work" in the diminished form; typing and talking still don't meet the level of "work" I saw growing up, when my dad came home from work smelling of gas, tired, ready for meatloaf and . . . whatever it is he did in the evening. I don't recall. I'll have to ask. I know he watched TV; he thought Archie Bunker was funny. He got the joke. And voted in a way that put a stick in Norman Lear's eye anyway.

Saturday: A night on the town! First we went to a Vietnamese restaurant. Mild food. Dumpy joint. No coffee. The owner came out to tell me they didn’t have American coffee, just Vietnamese coffee. AISOT, I was tempted to say “that’s fine, I don’t have American money, just Vietnamese money.” I hate to be the Ugly American, although you’d think you’d get a pass to be one in America, but: I don’t see why it would be so difficult to have actual coffee as it is practiced in these parts. Twenty bucks, a Mr. Coffee machine, some Folgers, and you’ve just avoided that little Post-It note in the diner’s head that says “Fails To Provide Coffee.” No, it’s not authentically Vietnamese – or “typically Vietnamese,” as the old travel brochures would put it – but I don’t think meals in Vietnam come with a fortune cookie, either. The tables had a ghastly blue-white faux-marble pattern that made me nostalgic for the 80s, only because the 80s meant the 70s were over.

Or so we all thought at the time.

At least the theater had coffee. Yes, we went to see a play.  I don’t see a lot of plays, and have a limited interest in the theater. I suppose that speaks poorly of me. I usually like it once I’m there, if it’s well-written and well-acted and does not exhale precious clouds of self-regard about The Theatah; my wife got me to this one because she knows I love David Mamet. I was amused when we got to the theater, since the name of the play was “A Life in the Theater” – thereby guaranteeing the sort of theater-centric theater I usually avoid. It’s an earlier work, ‘77  or ’78, and while I admired the calm, centered confidence of the lead actor and the director, whistling dental plate and all, I kept waiting for the nervy crisp rigor of a Mamet work to appear. This was pudding. But as I say, I don’t see a lot of plays. I’d rather watch a bad movie – if anything, the level of pretense is less manifest. 

Sunday: shopping. The weekly trip to the grocery store. I’ve switched stores for the third time in a year.  All my alliances are up for sale, it seems. The old verities are falling away. As noted in this space last week, I tired of the place I’d patronized; it just seemed shabby and failed and uninterested in service. The meat department was particularly alarming -  I don’t know why, but everything that came out of the back room looked suspect, as if it came from cows that wanted to die anyway. They didn’t give them a nail-gun to the skull, they just tripped them on the way in.

So I went to Cub, which also feels like a Soylent Green dispensary, but it’s cheap. I spent about five minutes at the breakfast sausage department, because I’ve cast off with heedless abandon my usual brand. I don’t even know what it was. It came in the yellow-and-red flat box – but it’s not that other brand in the yellow-and-red box; can’t stand that stuff. The old brand came in four styles: Beef, Maple, Maple Lite, and Unspecified Filtration Organ Parts With Minced Connective Tissue. The other day there was a sale on a big back of sausage “patties,” a word we only seem to use in connection with your circular meats; the quality was indistinguishable, the price much lower, and the brand name brought to mind Mr. Trouble Tongue. (Man, there’s another site I have to redo.)

No such cut-price here, but once you’ve left the boxed sausage paradigm and thrown in your lot with the bag of jumbled hog-pucks, it’s a different story. Different sizes, different quantities. So you calculate price and quantity until you finally say to hell with it and buy the biggest one. It simply doesn’t matter, especially since I put Cholula or Frank’s Red Hot on them in the morning for that morning biatch-slap to the taste buds.. Could be wadded up Bounty towel with salt and gristle, and I’d be happy.

A new store always means some legacy products, things the store feels to carry because they’re the last place in town to stock the item, and that keeps some customers coming. I’m always glad to see something with old graphics – even if they’ve been tweaked and updated; you can still detect the dead hand of some long-ago designer whose work was probably seen by more people in a year than Arshile Gorky in a decade.

Anyway, I love it. Sunshine isn’t a word that comes to mind when I think of bags, Ruta-style or otherwise, but it’s lovely:

This one is the spiritual brother of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. (Both of them dated Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt, because she was a free spirit, but it didn’t last; chick was nuts.) It’s Ken’s Steak House Salad Dressing. The typeface, the bottle shape – shake this thing and Barbara Eden pops out.


New Matchbook; see you at New alter-ego video up at at noon; hope you enjoy the Shining references.