It’s tough to get a compassionate pizza-delivery manager on the phone, even after you’ve told him that a driver almost ran you down. His sympathies are with the driver. They have to get those things out. They have to move that 'za. A bum address, a guy who doesn’t answer the door for five minutes, a guy who can’t find his checkbook - next thing you know the rest of the order is cold, and people are complaining, and you have to send them out again. Hell, it’d be a bad manager who didn’t encourage his drivers to clip a few pedestrians, just to encourage the others.

This happened to my wife, who crossed the street on a green light without pressing the special button that supposedly makes the DON’T WALK sign go to WALK. She looked behind to see the driver approaching, and watched him speed up and turn left and come an inch or two from pulverization. She indicated her displeasure in verbal terms; the driver yelled that she shouldn’t walk through the intersection when it said DON’T WALK, something he has never done and wouldn’t do and frankly is the sign of a scofflaw whose cavalier attitude threatens the underpinnings of our underpinned things.

She decided to take it up with the Pizza Hut organization, that being the sign on the top of the car. The first store said it couldn’t be them, because their drivers didn’t have any toppers that evening.

Do you believe that? No, of course not. But it’s possible. This exchange required 15 minutes on hold, because the number for the store goes to a main number, which might route you back to the store if you’re calling with details of, oh, a bomb threat, but if otherwise you’re low priority.

At the second store the manager, who had taken master classes in mumbling, expressed concern, and said she would look into it. She apparently believed this would be possible without knowing the location or time of the incident.

So that’s where it ends. The offending party won’t remember it, the manager doesn’t care, and our years-long decision to avoid Pizza Hut is reinforced for another decade. Pity, in a way; for all I know it’s okay. I used to work there. I made my share of pizzas when the cook stepped away for some consultation with a weed pipe. Somewhere back in my archives is a waiter’s order blank, which I saved because I knew someday I would want to look at it and remember the summer and fall of 77 - first at the Fargo joint by West Acres, where I did the stupidest thing I have ever done after a shift and possibly ever, and then the St. Louis Park outlet in the burbs where I felt as disconnected from college in particular and life in general as I had ever been, and would be, until I was out of college and working the convenience store.

Oh, the stupidest thing? Ran from the cops. I was driving down the Red River Mall, a twisty road that ran through Broadway, and I ended up waiting for the light to change, over the center line. I drove ahead when the light changed and saw the cop car turning around to follow. I took the next right very hard and drove into an alley and into a parking apron and killed the lights.

I’m here to say it’s possible, but I don’t recommend it.



Well, I’ve run out of TV again. I’m doling out “Wallender” for Friday nights; excellent show if preposterous, mostly for Kenneth Brannnnnnagh and the scenery. Takes place in some mythical country called “Sweden” where it doesn’t snow. The last one I watched ended with thirty-seven gallons of Empathy applied to someone who had killed many people for the usual twisted reasons, but Wallender was vulnerable. It reminded me of a mystery novel I read many, many years ago - Laidlaw was the character, I believe. Jack Laidlaw? Googling . . . yes.

Laidlaw’s ambivalent feelings towards criminals and the police highlight one of the most important questions the novel raises which is not ‘Whose side is Laidlaw on?’ but ‘Who are the criminals?

In mystery novels, and often in real life, the answer would be “the people who commit the crimes,” but I’m one of those old-fashioned types who thinks that the person who pulls the trigger carries the lion’s share of the guilt. As we saw with the story of the local Dentist who shot a lion. I mean, if I’d been caught by the cops, it wouldn’t have been because someone else shouted FLOOR IT, JIMMY, IT’S THE NOZZERS. That’s what we called them back then! The Nozzers.

No, we didn’t. Anyway, I need a new mystery series, and while there are 9423 BBC and ITV shows on Netflix, I’ve been burned by shows that looked a bit old and creaky and moved like Marple syrup on a cold day. The other night I started to watch “Gotham,” and was instantly moved to stab the remote. Why? Peevish weariness on my part. Oh look, it’s Catwoman, and she’s badass! Doing things people don’t do. I’m still watching “Fear the Walking Dead and Also the National Guard and Come to Think of It Mostly the National Guard,” but all the characters are tiresome, and the show fast-forwarded past the part where civilization collapses. Because where’s the interest in that? We’re really curious about how the events affect the ability of a young heroin addict who’s trying to kick, but not really. And then there’s the solemn haunted barber who must return to his Old Torturing Ways. As I tweeted last night:

I'll find something. "Narcos" was a ripping yarn, and it did not linger. Would you like to hear its sad and evocative theme? Of course. It's but 90 seconds.

I love that stuff.

Delayed for a few weeks while they clean up the rubble, the final destruction of the main building began today. I have the same feeling about this as the moment in the sinking of the Titanic when the aft half, having splashed down to the water after the ship broke in two, began to nose down for its last plunge, unaware that the screaming and crashing was drowning out the soundtrack. Horner must have sat in the theater and thought oh why did I bother.

There’s still something there, even if only for a day. I expect it will be gone tomorrow.

The stadium looms in the background. Final report on Friday, with video.


Our big color splash ad promises a word everyone knows and no one can quite define:

Homogenized food has the flavor you only get with homogenized foods! It's tautologized for your convenience.

Let's look at some close-ups. Shall we? Sure.

Durkee durkee durkee: Famous-flavor sauce. Mm-mmm, your guests will say. I can taste the widespread recognition! If you needed anything else, dash on some Flavor Salts - which I suspect were MSG, and MSG, with a side order of MSG. And salt.

Maritally-associated females will not turn away and make choking sounds or vomit-faces:

Philip Morris - yes, Mr. Philip Morris, there was such a fellow - had a shop on Bond Street. It was also known in cigarette form. A modern review: "When you first pop the lid of the plastic tin and take a whiff, you will swear you have just unwrapped a bar of Ivory Soap."

No wonder wives liked it!

Ah, a 1964 store display:

No World's Fair connection seems to be offered. But I wish I could buy a "45 Jotter" today, just to tell people I was writing with a 45 Jotter.

Oh, this one again. Thanks to a comic book my grandma had for the kids to read, I will always associate Little Lulu with Kleenex. The book had an actual packet of tissues built into the cover. Of course they went fast. But The connection was made.

She shilled for those things in Times Square for years, too. Why take my word for it, when you can see colorful proof and the sign in action, on the New York City / Times Square site I made for some reason?

But how, exactly, was Kleenex meeting us halfway? Was this the result of long, painstaking negotiations between the warring parties?

Something I didn't know: Marge, the artist, came up with Little Lulu at the request of the Saturday Evening Post, which wanted something to replace Henry. This was in 1934. That damned silent boy with the light-bulb head was still running in my local Sunday funnies in the 70s.

Marge stopped drawing the strip in 1947; syndication began three years later, with someone else toiling away, and it ran for 22 years.

Marge, however, would draw the Kleenex ads. They paid a lot.

Some back-of-the-book 40s ads from the New Yorker.


An old shoe. With a bandage.

Who needs a chair.




Yes, pal, that's what you're dreaming of. All the things she can do with her vaculator.

She looks like she's had one cup too many, to be honest.


  Let this rice remind you of tanks thrusting over blasted hills where no tree can grow, and the specter of death hangs heavy in the air!

That will do for today - but two covers await with the exciting explots of Frank Reade, Murderous Inventor. See you around!




blog comments powered by Disqus