Storms, snow, war, panics – the venerable StarTribune  building, on the right, has seen it all before. Couldn’t do much about it, being an inanimate structure. Big fat lot of help you are, Mr. Building. Hope I still work there at the end of the week, though. Monday we hear about the next swing of the Reaper’s scythe, whistling through the newsroom anew.

An odd weekend. Nearly everything was off-kilter, someho, as if I had something on my mind. It needed kiltering. Stands to reason that if something not quite right is off-kilter, then when things are good they’re all perfectly kiltered. . . . hmm. According to the dictionary, the word only has meaning in the phrase “out of kilter,” and its origins are unknown. Well, that’s the damndest thing. I don’t know any other word that has no meaning unless it’s yoked to others for context. Trying another dictionary  . . . ah. “Proper or usual state or condition.” It dates from 1628, which seems rather specific.

Doesn’t matter;  no one would dare say “I’m perfectly kilter today,” even though everyone would know what you were talking about.

Anyway. Got up Saturday morning to take Natalie to karate class; she set a personal record for front kicks while standing on one leg: 64. The previous record was 0. Next, the children’s Christmas choir concert, with all the old favorites. “Away in a Manger” is one of those songs that always gave me a headache to sing; never in my range, ever. And it bugs me to this day that no one ever explained why we were singing about Emmanuel. No one ever knew what that meant. It was the last name of one of my uncles, which made it even more confusing. For that matter, we had no idea what Herald Angels were, either, except that they were known collectively as a “hark.” A pride of lions, a murder of crows, a hark of Heraldangels.

Then Natalie’s annual Christmas party. Not as screechy as years before. They had more sugar in them than all the cane in Cuba, but they were calmed by the application of a Mickey Mouse Christmas special, “Once Upon a Christmas.” Couldn’t find “Twice Upon a Christmas,” no matter how hard I looked. “Once" is sweet but 2-D; “Twice” is computer-animated, and something of a tradition around here, just like my solitary viewing of “A Christmas Carol” after everyone’s gone to sleep on Christmas Eve. I only have the Patrick Stewart version, which isn’t as good as you’d like it to be. This year I have to find the mid-50s British version, which now seems as remote as a Roman mosaic. Hearty bluff industrious Holstian England is gone, or so it seems from here.

In the evening, a party up the street. You will always find me in the kitchen at parties, and that’s where I was, having an animated discussion on newspapers and urban design with people who may have been figments of my imagination; I get to do that so infrequently I suspect I may actually hallucinate the moments in which it occurs. I kept leaning into the stove controls and turning on a burner – but not enough to light it, so it seemed as if I was punctuating my assertions with flatulence. Which, to be honest, is underrated as a rhetorical device.

As you may have detected, there were no traditional errands on Saturday, which may be why the weekend felt de-kiltered. Well, that’s what Sunday is for. Goal: get the pictures printed for the Christmas cards. Went to Target. Put the thumb drive in the slot. The kiosk examined it, and said there weren’t any photos on the drive. So I removed it, tapped it on the counter to get all the bytes down on one end, and tried it again. Nothing. Tried another machine. Nothing.

Drove home. What was sleet and other forms of inconclusive precipitation had become actual snow, and the roads were slick. Made it home – a 20 minute trip – and burned a copy of the picture on a CD. Decided it looked too small; made another version, which looked like it would print better, once all the relevant information was squozen down. (Not a word.) Drove back. First stop, though: Haircut. There was a man standing with a board that advertised Fantastic Sam’s, one of those horrible 70s-sounding places, like, oh, The Great American Haircuttery or O. T. Follicle’s Cliporium.

The stylist asked if I used scissors or a razor.

“Neither,” I said, somewhat confused. “Someone else cuts my hair.”

“What do they use?” I said a scissors, but I had no preference. She did; she got out a razor and started working on my head, and I was convinced that hanks were falling to the floor, Boot Camp-style. But when it was done there was enough hair on my head so no one would yell HEY AIRBENDER when I walked outside, so it was good.

Back to Target. The CD worked. I requested 60 copies. By the time they were done the weather was worse and the roads miserable, so I drove hands-and-knees all the way home. Where I discovered I’d gotten the wrong size picture. They were supposed to be 3 X 5. Of course, there’s no 3 X 5 option. Don’t know why I thought there would be. The cards into which they were supposed to fit were 3 X 5, though. Dang those non-standard cards and the ideas they give people.

Which reminds me: I bought two portfolios of 1955 Christmas cards the other day.

The Tall Cards were a new invention - Regal Deluxe Slims. You can't get swankier than that. They all remind me of my aunts, for some reason - don't know I wrote about this here or on Twitter, but all the relatives seemed to have different tastes than my mom, and all the cards seemed to represent some contrarty aesthetic. Most greeting cards made me feel that way. Most still do. (Cue my wife: "must you have an opinion about everything?") Here are two Regal Slim Deluxe Extra Bonus examples:


That has to be an aluminum tree. It has to be. If you want one, well, you know where to go; try (.com was already taken.

The picture above is the secular side of the line; below, the devout side, which is kewpie-kitschy all the way:


The other portfolio contained more traditional cards for people who weren't living stereo-lives in modern ramblers with push-button stoves:

This is almost ethnic:

Fifties cute . . . wasn't:

Finally, some suggested tag lines for your personalized cards. You were encouraged to make plays on your name when it came to the kids, like Mr. and Mrs. Adolf Hitler and the young "Furors," or something:

I'll have few more later in the week, if anyone's interested.

New Matchbook - see you at, and of course on Twitter.