Sorry about yesterday’s absence – the home network was screwed up, and it took a call to “Steve” in India today to get it straightened out. His help consisted of asking piercing, relevant questions such as “is your modem plugged in, or have you taped a AAA battery to the back” while I poked through the network settings, and discovered something that had reset to a default when a cord got unplugged. I wouldn’t have written much yesterday anyway – was out late at a gathering of talk-radio enthusiasts and other like-minded sorts at Orchestra Hall. I had expected to watch it from the seats, but ended up –
Well, let's back up. Went down to the Hilton to be on the Hewitt show for a little bit, since Hugh was in town with Prager and Medved. I had offered to introduce him at the event, but heard nothing and assumed it was met with a “what? Who? Huh? Why?” at higher levels. But once I was there they asked if I’d introduce him; sure. It’s only a packed house at Orchestra Hall – and I have 30 or more of those under my belt. It was a familiar but odd event, being backstage with Manny – he’s the conductor of the Minnesota Youth Symphony orchestra, and was going to play the National Anthem on his trumpet to start the show. So it was like the MYS concerts, except that we were with the Three Caballeros of the radio and Sen. Norm Coleman, Rep. Michelle Bachman – no horns! Srsly - and Governor Pawlenty, who was dressed like a guy who’d just picked his kid up from soccer. Which he had, actually.
The show started late, and the crowd was getting a bit restive; Manny went out and played “God Bless America.” The crowd all stood and sang along. (“Never had that happen before,” Manny said.) Then they started stamping their feet and calling for the show to begin – they’re restive! Someone has to go out there! Okay, fine, I’ll do it. Again: 30 shows in Orchestra Hall gives a fellow a little confidence; what was once a knee-knocker of a prospect is now fun. I walked out, took the podium, said “Prager, Medved and Hewitt in the house!” and got thunderous applause, which I promptly spoiled by saying they were checking out their luxurious dressing rooms and would be out in a minute or two. Patience, patience, it’s a virtue, etc.
Eventually I made my introduction, which was fun, and that was it for me. Hung around backstage and talked the rest of the night – as I’ve said before, it’s always a pleasure to spend actual time with the guys I listen to on the radio; it’s like having your imaginary friends come to life.
Drove home laughing and had a hard time getting to sleep; excess of enjoyment will do that.
Wednesday was normal – sunny, with the impression of warmth without the actual thing itself – and the only high point was a trip to Dairy Queen with Natalie. Hadn’t been to this one before. They have a big widescreen TV on the wall, and it was turned to the Chris Matthews show; the guy swabbing the floors paused in his labors, looked up at the silent Irish Pumpkin on the screen with the graphics Almost President Obama to Address Grateful Nation or something, and he gave a deep long chuckle of satisfaction. The room had the usual collection of old DQ photos, but I hadn’t seen this: an old poster for the bygone Big Top Sundae.
An exciting Carnival of Flavors! Those would be sugar, sugared chocolate, sugar sprinkles, and jelled sugar-wheels dyed with chemicals guaranteed to be tested on bunny-eyeballs. How many millions of those plastic boats slumber in the 60s stratum of the landfills, never to be kissed by the light of the sun again?
Then the bookstore. She had finished her novel, and cannot bear to be without the next one in the series, so compelling is this tale of warring clans of talkative cats. So we went to Barnes and Noble, where I had to submit to the usual pre-checkout interrogation: Am I a member of the club? I am not. Would I like to be? Perhaps some day. I have to reserve some thrills for my old age. Would I like to receive special offers via email? I would like to buy a frickin’ book, is what I would like. I’m amazed they don’t ask if I’d like the service contract in case the characters lose their interest in the plot, and everyone starts sitting around swapping limericks for 60 pages.
Then home to work, and there’s lots of it. Column night and more. But I banged out an entry in “100 Mysteries” this morning – before 9 AM, not on the work clock – and there are yesterday’s updates as well. So. In case you’re late to the story, my wife got me a collection of 100 mysteries on DVD, mostly public domain stuff of dubious quality, and I’m reviewing one per week. Here we go with #6:
We say goodbye to our intrepid band of sleuths and sleuth-assistants with another indistinguishable episode in the continuing saga of one man's attempt to use crime to avoid getting married. But the wedding is only hours away, which may explain the title:
It begins in Scotland Yard, where an inspector has handed a clipping from the paper. It’s announcing National Annual Look Over There Day:
Yes, Bulldog and Miss Clavering are finally getting married so she can be good and truly Clavered, and he can settle into the quiet life of a Swiss gentlemen, waiting for WW2 so he can defeat the Nazi war machine with the help of his butlerTenny and addlepated friend, Algae. Seriously, he’s in Switzerland. You can tell because the color scheme is antiseptic and neutral.
The wedding gifts are arriving, as well as the guests. One fellow might as well be introduced as The Chap With No Obvious Connection to Any of This, and Hence Your Criminal Element for the Next 67 Minutes.
He’s the head of diamond syndicate, and naturally he reacts with alarm when he sees Algae’s gift: it’s a new kind of manufactured diamond. Naturally, he’ll have to KILL EVERYONE to steal it, because that’s how you stop a chemist in the UK from destroying your entire industry: a high-profile murder resulting in the lost of one example of the manufacturing process. Oh, and after you’ve killed the policeman guarding the wedding loot, leave the party.
Algae and wife also give the couple a penguin, for comic relief. As a gift. Picture someone showing up at your wedding and giving you a penguin. It would be up all night screaming in the bathtub.
After the murder is discovered, we leave the spacious confines of the Claveringinglesquely Villa and return to the familiar, thrilling confines of a frickin’ train car. Just as we did in the first Bulldog we saw. It’s all coming full circle. Of course, this is the train car containing Sir Raymond, the Diamond Syndicate chap, and when he spots Bulldog he knocks on his cabin door to ask what he’s doing on the train. Weren’t you supposed to be getting married? Bulldog, apparently keen for any excuse to escape the teethy horror of his wedding night and hang out with the lads, has a little chat with the fellow in the remarkably spacious “vestibule” of the train, where they are suddenly drawn into the life-sucking vortex of a massive, unicellular space-borne organism:
There’s a thrilling flying sequence, as Bulldog races back to England to detain the villain, his complete and utter lack of police powers notwithstanding. He has to deal with the air traffic control system of the era, which was nothing if not dramatically lit:
We’re treated to a lengthy demonstration of how the diamonds are made, and it goes without saying that SPARKS are involved. (Brief flash; mouse over for controls.)
On it goes; the last half hour is the usual chase from set to set. Tenny, the elderly butler, ends up going after the bad guys on a motorcycle, leading to an FX sequence as good as they could afford. (Brief flash; mouse over for controls.)
In the end, I’m actually glad I watched these; it was fun to spend time in the company of these guys for the last six weeks.
And I’ll never watch any of them again.
They didn’t get married in this one, either. I’m beginning to think this was a running gag. Which would also be a description of Bulldog's reaction when his new bride disrobed and he realized what he would be called upon to do, unless he fled, making sounds of distress. Come now, old chap. Think of England.
Of course, the 100 Mysteries series can be followed here, if you wish.
Other updates of note: the Minneapolis site begins the overhaul of the "Hotels" section with the West. There's a new ad in the Archive. That should do it for the day - see you at buzz.mn for a Lance Lawson Thursday - special "Lori, the Stupidest Journalist in Town" edition. And twittering all day, of course. See you around, and have a grand day.