Well, it does say four, doesn’t it? Not five? I figured I’d take today off, because I have an Important Dinner to attend to on Wednesday night, and it’s a column night, and the novel is thiiiiis close to the final revision. There’s a small little bottle waiting to be cracked when it’s done, a little flask of Balvenie.

I bought it years ago in New York, because it was part of a trio of Balvenies, each aged longer than the other in more exotic woods - I think the third one spent 50 years in a mahogany barrel - and I set it aside for a special occasion, like “drinking it.” But I never did. When I got into the three-book idea I figured I’d give myself one at the end of each final revision. So I’m shooting for Friday.

But I can’t leave it at that. Remember the doll I set out last week? It’s gone. It’s possible the lawn guys ran over it, but there would be flecks of pink plastic everywhere. The neighborhood kids may have taken it; my daughter reported that everyone walking down to the bus stop noticed it, and kept their distance. There was just something wrong about a doll sitting under a tree, eyes open, arms out.

Daughter, by the way, is starting to troll me.

“Dad, someone said you reminded them of an owl.”

I scowl. “Who?”

Oh. This morning:

“Hey, you know how you confuse a bad writer?”



“Seven? I don’t -” Oh.

So I’m trying to think of one to get her back.

“You know, you’re like the 26th letter of the alphabet.”

That works, because “why?” can be met with “no, that’s the 25th,” and “I am?” can be met with “No, that’s the ninth and the thirteenth.”

Yes, I’ve got her right where I want her.

(UPDATE: I tried it, and she responded with "I don't know what you mean." Ah well.)

The Scream is going on sale - one of four versions, may fetch $80 million. (Later: sold for $119 mi.) I wonder how much money you have to have before you feel completely comfortable spending that much money on a painting. It also made me realize I knew little of Munch except that work. What else did he do? There are other words, including “I Left the Kid at the Mall:

A lesser-known work, “Spinal Cord Fluid Vampire:”



And this one, which I like: “Summer Night.”



I think the test tube symbolizes science, or medicine. What, you say? It’s the sun setting on the lake, even though that raises the question of the source of the illumination on her dress? Could be; I can see that.

Munch was a nervous case, prone to anxiety, drinking, and fisticuffs; had a few breakdowns. He died in 1944 in Norway, never seeing his country liberated. Seems typical. The red skies in “The Scream,” by the way, may have been the result of the Krakatoa volcanic explosion, which threw up ash that embloodened the skies of the world. It’s a great theory! But that happened over 9 years before. Munch’s own description:

I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.

It takes a particularly tremulous temperament to interpret a sunset as a psychotic shriek of Nature. If only he’d done a companion piece of the same fellow the next morning, when everything’s blue and yellow, and the bald ghoul is grinning and clicking his heels. Or a series of paintings that followed Mr. Scream around on his daily errands, screaming at everything. The newspapers were thrown from a cart in a bundle that landed on the sidewalk with a thump! I sensed a great cry of pain passing through the city!

Possibly too much coffee.


Here's some more Beeeyootifil Music, taken from the beginning or end of a 1974 CBS Radio Mystery Theater tape. . I find this stuff fascinating. First, the Candy Man: the session guitarist peobably did this in one take.


A Bread tune. Three PM in the Doctor's Office on a March Thursday.



Now, let's get soulful. Check out the backing vocals. The song announces itself at 3o seconds in, in the most Muzaky way possible.



Anyway: four new Main Streets, all from Wisconsin. I just find these fascinating. Signage was a proud sign of a thriving downtown, and now they’re all gone. It’s such a loss, and what do they have to replace them? Trees. Hell, you can get trees anywhere. You want trees, go to a park. Downtown is for signs.



















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