Before the week ends, I have to ask: don't you love that picture? So staged, so manufactured. Such contrivance in the service of whiskey.

It's always odd to come home after a vacation and find everything where it should be. The house always feels somewhat reproachful. Standoffish. It's good to be back! but nothing responds back. For a moment you look at things as if this wasn't your house at all, but someone sent in to clean out your stuff because you never returned. What would they think?

More to the point, I suppose, why would you care? But I would. Live fast, die young, leave a well-organized spice rack, that's my motto.

First day in the new office. (I will be Periscoping from work tomorrow, if anyone's interested. Around 12:45.) It's very cool and modern and clean and I love the place, he said, leading up to a but, BUT, it's just odd to have the old crew on a new ship, with everyone in different places. I haven't been in a cubicle in a row of cubicles since . . . well, since never, at least this arrangement, and sometimes I feel as if I should be working an oar. But I don't have to write there. All around the office are nooks and hideaways and even dedicated quiet rooms where you can type. In the pantry there's free coffee, and -

Yes. Free Coffee. You must use the company-provided cup with a lid, though, or something that has a lid, because they will be got-damned if the carpet ends up looking like Jackson Pollack in his monochromatic period. There's also a series of snack-and-drink machines, and you can deposit a few dollars ahead of time, set up an account, and pay with your thumbprint. This is a noticeable improvement from the old shop, which had one sad snack machine that carried a dismal selection of carbs. These machines sell microwaveable hamburgers. Sorry: MEGABURGERS.

I'll have to try one, because I wonder whether they have the unmistakable flavor of a gas-station microwavable burger. Same for the inevitable Ham Sandwich - you know those awful things, with their slick shiny vinyl ham and gooey melted cheese-type glop. Roast beef? Sure - complete with moist bread and a sheet of lettuce that appeared to be made out of shellacked paper mache.

My father was one of the first in Fargo to sell microwaved hamburgers. At least at a gas station. They didn't go over, unfortunately. It couldn't be due to the quality - not a lot of repeat business when you're catering to the highway crowd. Perhaps the store's position on the edge of town hurt the food biz: people on the way into Fargo figured there were better options ahead, and people on the way out didn't want to commit when the gustatory delights of Jamestown - fabled for miles! - lay ahead. Or they feared microwaves. It was an early RadarRange, and probably made people see colors and taste metal when it was running. Eventually it broke and they had to cover it in a concrete sarcophagus, dumped from a helicopter.

Now, of course, the station sells complete meals. People on the way home stop to get buckets of seasoned animal flesh from the steam table, along with a six-pack of watery beer. AH! That's what I was going to talk about. I've just been typing idly here, waiting for the original idea to resurface. Beer.

If I lived in Arizona I think I would drink a lot of beer. I know that because while I was in Arizona, living, I drank a lot of beer. It seemed the thing to do after a hot day, and reminded me how much I like beer. And how it makes me feel like a water balloon. But at the end of a rote and utterly ordinary "Mexican" meal at an old Scottsdale fixture I not only wanted a beer, I wanted a shot of tequila as well, and yea I indulged. I won't tell you which tequila I ordered. They had 180. Tequila fans will upbraid me (no, it wasn't Sauza) and those who know nothing about the stuff won't care. But I like tequila. It's like . . . whiskeyvodka.

Because I was on vacation and gave not a fig for the diet, I thought perhaps some ice cream might complete the night and take away the burn. In old Scottsdale that means The Sugar Bowl, and here's what you need to know about that place: it has been around since 1958, the ultra-pink interior with old-timey Ice Cream Parlor decor has not changed, and its frequent mention in the Family Circus cartoons means there were lots of Family Circus cartoons. They had about seven flavors. When I entered I was hit with that old-wet-towel smell, something you get when you wipe everything down with old wet towels, and it killed my interest in ice cream.

As we drove away I was surprised to see the Valley Ho; had no idea it was here. Oh, man.

One of these days we'll come back and there will be no relatives' house to stay at. I know where you'll find me then.


Here's the Downtown East construction update. As you may note, my perspective is different.


A certain palette emerges. It'll be different when the corners are sheathed in the standard Kasota-hued stone. The building in the middle foreground is a jail, so you can excuse its fortress appearance.

Here's the new view from the office. We are up among them! As you can tell, they built a replica of the Sydney Opera House on the roof.


Next week a new feature in this spot you may enjoy. I know you will, because you've enjoyed it before. Any idea what it'll be?

I have no idea why I asked that, but there it is.



As usual for Friday, the Music Cues. Of course we begin with the Couple Next Door, with its cheerful soundtrack of the mid-century domestic scene.

The first one is a rare cross-over; Bob and Ray used this cue.

CND Cue #532 Welcome to Aunt Penny's Sunlit kitchen!

CND Cue #533 Another piece of music we'll never hear in its entirety.

Moving along with the innumerable Gunsmoke cues:

Gunsmoke #70 Need anything else, boss? Yeah, plunk a guitar at the end.

Gunsmoke #71 Hard-thinking music flirts with atonalism.

The late-season Johnny Dollar cues, drawn from the library of big bad boss sounds:

YTJD #20 The Chord of Domestic Tranquility's uneasy relative.

YTJD #21 Examination music. Composer wasn't trying very hard.

To round out the radio offerings, here's a reminder that Americans are out in the jungles, dealing with . . . .

Commies and Witch Doctors.

Frenesi, played by George Lewis and the Bargain-Basement Pickup Orchestra. Well, no; this is the ALL-STAR Orchestra.

It's not just High Fidelity. It's Golden Tone Hi-Fidelity.


And that's it for the week - and a short one it was, at least for me. But that's what happens when you loll around in vacation limbo for a five days. See you Monday!



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