Tuesday will be odd. Get up, not have breakfast, then become unconscious for four hours. Well, not unconscious, but sedated to the point where I’m not present, which seems to be the same thing, practically speaking. I intend to tweet the first hour as the tiny little pills take hold. Should be fun.

Since I wrote yesterday’s Bleat on Saturday night, you’re probably wondering gosh, how was the rest of the weekend? Full of food. We went out to dinner on Saturday with some people I didn’t know - a professional acquaintance of my wife and her husband, with whom I had about eleventy hundred things in common. Much fun. But: ever opened a menu, looked at it up and down, and thought: there’s not a damned thing here that strikes my fancy. Oh, there’s a hamburger, but it’s off to the side in a box, which tells you that they’ll make it if they must, but really. You came here. For a hamburger. I mean, I recognized everything - chicken, for example; I clung to that as a lifeline. If all else fails there’s chicken - but you’d find a word that had promise, like Ravioli, and it would be immediately followed by “gourd” or or “braised okra,” and you realized that everything here was going to be subtle. The menu was proud to announce that all the foods were locally produced, which really isn’t the first thing I look for when I’m dining out. No one ever takes a bite of steak and says “man, you can really taste the proximity.”

The beef dish - which had no price; it was Market Price, the fluctuations in the daily beef market being so volatile they can’t commit - was described in a way that failed to suggest the form or shape or type of beef, only that it was beef, and there was okra, and perhaps artisanal potatoes. There was fondue for appetizers, but we were assured it wasn’t Seventies fondue.

“Although fondue in the Seventies could be awesome,” said the waiter, who was born around the time Prince started disappointing the casual fan. When it came I noticed that the forks were from the 50s or 60s, a rather staid design. This meant were supposed to consume the fondue without irony. If they’d come with long orange skewers we would be have to be self-conscious about how they were reinventing a long-maligned dish, and how the period forks were putting a kitschy gloss on the experience to justify ordering the fondue.

Eating as a pastime is more work than you’d think.

Anyway, it was lots of fun. And then we went out the next night, to Salut, a French restaurant of sorts in Edina. I love the place. The mascot is a frog wearing a beret, smoking a cigarette. This was a Mother’s-Day dinner with wife & daughter, and sister-in-law & niece. Afterwards we went to an old ice cream parlor - and I mean old. Behold the ancient Kelvinator crest:


Then there was this:



Wow. RMC. Know what that means? Perhaps this will help:



The Rockola company is known for jukeboxes, of course, and people probably thought the name was typical 50s hype: Rock-ola, Rock-o-rama, whatever. But it’s named after the founder, David Rockola. That just amuses me to no end. He started calling his jukeboxes “Rock-Ola” in the late 30s, too - leading some to say the term “rock and roll” may have come, in part, from the name on the jukes.

Read that paragraph again: that’s how you do a feature story! “Leading some to say” is total BS; no sources, no cites, but an appeal to the ever-handy Some, who are always saying what you want someone to say. “may have come, in part,” supposes a connection that meant more than sheer coincidence, otherwise Some wouldn’t have been lead to say it. And it sounds about right.

One other journalist’s trick: use the phrase “Call it . . .” and then use a made-up phrase you’re ever so proud of, even though it will never be used by anyone and no one will ever call It that.

The other accomplishment: the $#%@& cedar chips. It’s the first sign of late spring or early summer: off to Home Depot for 15 bags of cedar chips. Throw them in the car. Drive home. Up the stairs. Dump them out. Messy. Hot. Dusty. Hate it. You say: why don’t you pay someone for that? I say: because I’m cheap and I can do it myself. Anyway, pushed the cart to the checkout. Once again confronted the choice that has infected credit-card terminals everywhere: if you’re not using a debit card, press cancel. This is counterintuitive, of course: press cancel to continue. I asked the clerk how many used debit cards. “Not many,” she said.

“Why isn’t there a separate step for them, then?” I said. “Why does everyone else has to have an extra step to get past the PIN entry?”

She liked this and thought it was a wise idea and laughed much more than the observation was worth. But it was my day for clerk interaction - earlier at Trader Joe’s they had samples of 1000 Day Cheddar, and the sampler-person asked me I liked it. Because I was in one of those moods, I said it was okay, but I liked the 1001 Day Cheddar better, haw haw.

She frowned. “Where do you get that?” she said.

Out of my mouth unbidden came the following: “Trader Jim’s. It’s like this place but it’s just a tiny, tiny bit better.” Thereafter followed a series of questions, requiring me to improvise the entire gestalt and business model of Trader Jim’s; it was exhausting, but we had a good time.

Anyway, pushed the cart of chips to the car. A young man offered to help stow them. Me, being hale and firm of arm and now intent on showing the whippersnapper I can hurl 40-lb bags of dirt into my car, declined, but he said “you sure?” and I thought, what the hell.

“Nice shirt,” he said. I was wearing a NASA T-shirt. “You with them?”

“No, no - got it in Florida. Near NASA. But I love rockets.”

“Me too. I was stationed in Houston.” We get to talking - second-generation immigrant (Guatemala, I think), came up here for a change, it’s cold but it’s nice, the people are nice, it’s a good life. He asked what I did and I said I was a writer, and he said he read science-fiction; did I write that? I said alas I did not. Every writer’s nightmare: he could remember titles, not authors. I thanked him and shook his hand and went home.

Any shopping trip where you don’t come back with an anecdote or a notable personal interchange is a waste of time.

When I was done with the chips I attacked the Oak Island Water Feature - yes! The first seasonal appearance of the nightmare waterfeature. Sorry: <richardlewis> The Water Feature - From HELL! </richardlewis> I’d drained the tank last week, leaving a foot-deep pile of sodden rotten leaves. Got these out. Drained the rest of the water. Plugged in the pump . . . .

. . . and the plug’s broken. Which means I have to get into the drain pit and replace the damned pump. But that’s next week.

What horrors are down there I cannot possibly imagine.



The banner this week is an extraction from a postcard for the motel site. Thos are cool cars. I love the colors. The chrome. The "pointy bits," to use a gearhead term.

This . . .



I don't know what to say, except to shake my head and mutter "the seventies" like someone describing a plague of mechanical locusts who fell dead from the sky and turned the world to rust.


Speaking of the Seventies: (profanity warning.) This is the opening to "Saxondale," a comedy by the utterly brilliant Steve Coogan. The main character is a 50-year old pest controller who used to be a roadie in the 70s.




While shooting pigeons in a car park with a pellet gun:

"Excuse me, there are some animal-rights protestors."

"Not a problem, come down to their level, show them I'm not on a power trip."

And here he gets the difference between 60s people and 70s people exactly right. The 60s burnouts would be peace-and-love. Seventies people, well:



Ricky Gervais is the face of British comedy, and Coogan seems relatively unknown; it's such a pity. Neither of these sketches do the character justice - someone on YouTube said, correctly (!) that Saxondale is his Alan Patridge character with a soul., and I agree.

Saxondale and Partridge are available on Netflix, if you're interested.

Okay then! Off to dreamland. See you around.











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