You’ve no idea how beautiful it was this weekend. No, that’s not right. Perhaps you do. It was 97 in Fargo. It was hot and bright here - shorts weather, warm breezes, glorious color (at least a third of the trees turned in the last week) and the strange sense that something had changed for the better and was here to stay for a while. As I write this the wind has kicked up and the temps have dropped, as if the Real Teacher has come back after two days with a fun and cool substitute. No more film strips and rap sessions. Open your books. Silence!

The forecast has us one degree over freezing for a low next Saturday. A swing of fifty degrees.

You know what I did tonight? I digitized an entire Mitch Miller album. I hate Mitch Miller. Well, I don’t hate him, but I find the music so off-putting it’s hard to listen to, and I know someone else has already digitized this album and it’s floating around there somewhere, probably on YouTube. With comments about Thanx! Love Mitch awesome from people who are 74, God bless them, and are looking for the songs on Youtube because the old record player in the basement doesn’t work any more. Well, it works, but one of the speakers doesn’t. Waiting for one of the kids to come home and fix it. I think we had this record; I remember “Be Kind to Your Web-Footed Friends” for some reason, as well as the chorus of BIG VOICED MEN shouting about the fact that there is, indeed, a tavern in the town. I guess people sang along. Or more likely looked at the lyrics on the sheet and nodded along. It’s a mystery, all of it.

Why am I doing it? For the Vinyl additions, of course. Thrift-store music. I have at present 35 albums ready for 2016, and will chose the best from each. It is a tedious task but some of the things I find in the store are not on YouTube, and deserve to be preserved, if only as examples of a particular time in American cultural history. Someone sent me a link to a story about a German digital hoarder who cannot bear to part with his tens of thousands of photographs. Believe me, I am not like that. Winnow, cull, name, archive, back up.

So much of the stuff I collect was saved for a reason. I’ll assume it was a good one, and do my part to pass it along.


That said: can’t stand this stuff.

You may recall the tale of the photoelectric eye. The timer that controlled the lights outside. How it was dead. How I replaced it by putting dusk-to-dawn timers in the light sockets, bypassing the need for a timer at all. How the timers clicked on and off and didn’t work. How I returned them for another master timer to be hooked up to the wires. How the Giant Swede came by and discovered the wire to the master timer were dead. How he examined the Medusa Junction Box and suggested that the garage door repairman may have screwed something up. How the garage door repairmen insisted they had nothing to do with it. How the Giant Swede somehow, through a minor mistake, rendered the master switch that controlled the outdoor lights inert, which meant:

No master timer

No power to the lights

No nothing

No idea what was going on

I called Mr. Sparky to come and fix everything, because the name sounds cheerful and retro. The electrician at the wires that led to the master timer, and winced. He said he wouldn’t touch them without installing a junction box. Otherwise, fire. Maybe. He poked around while I worked in my office; he gave me a holler when he was done.

“First of all, you do have power to the master timer there.”

“No. That can’t be. We used one of those . . .testing things. It was dead.”

“Was the switch on?”

“You mean the one that’s dead now?”

“That one, yes.”

I thought. I had no idea. Probably not.

“Well, we thought it was.”

“You have power to the timer, so the timer was probably defective.” Which was my original diagnosis, long ago, when the earth was cooling and enormous dragonflies flitted through a hot primeval landscape. “I can fix that but like I said I need to put in a junction box.” He quoted a sum which was a lot. I had presumed a certain amount. This was $75 more. I said no, that’s too much. Maybe I’ll try the timers in the individual sockets again, but they didn’t work well - kept turning on and off.

“What kind of bulbs do you have?”

“CFLs. I hate CFLs but that’s what’s in there.”

“That might be the problem. There’s not enough resistance.”

So he fixed the switch that wasn’t broken before and now I am turning everything on and off again manually, hoping I can find CFL-compliant timers or 100-watt incandescents. The latter would be ideal, but they burn out, and like a smoke alarm that chooses 3 AM to tell you the battery is dying, the bulbs would burn out in February, requiring the placement of a tall ladder on icy, snow-packed steps that are made from stone with an irregular surface, and if I do that I know I will fall and get impaled on a rose bush. The cause of death would be “accident” but the real culprit would be a Chinese-made photoelectric timer that failed in the middle of September, months before.

Did I mention that that garage-door opener lights on my wife’s side both died? I replaced them with LEDs. The bulbs are different, so of course one is Blinding White Light of Heaven and the other is Smoker’s Teeth. You can't buy a light bulb anymore and assume it’ll shed the same quality of light. It’s just one of those things we can’t have. You must decide whether you want Bright, Daylight, Clear Light, Natural Light, or whatever terms are used by seven different manufacturers who have their own terms and standards.

Believe it or not: to be continued.

Get out the Pumpkin Cream Cheese and Pumpkin Maple Syrup:


Enlarged for texture! I had no idea that accurate representation of texture was an important aspect of waffle selection. Don't know anyone who was awakened one morning by a horrible scream from the kitchen, ran downstairs to see what calamity had befallen his wife or childen, and found them cowering in the corner staring at a waffle in the middle of the floor. It's not smooth at all! It's pitted! It's covered with horrible, tiny indentations!

If it's enlarged for texture, I wonder: what was the purpose of blurring the upper ration?




This sounds bad, doesn't it.

Well, it is.

But it's fun, in a cheap B-movie fashion, and it has something of a twist. First we meet our evil aliens - the imperious Queen of Space (Mars, actually) and her minister of Evil, Dr. Nadir. He's still working.

He's got this impish thing going on . . .

He reminds me of someone . . . ah, of course.

Let's meet our hero, the intrepid Astronaut who's heading up into the inky beyond, unaware that the Martians are shooting down all our rockets because they think we're being aggressive. The press conference takes an uncomfortable turn:

He locked up. He froze. Did they try turning him off and on? Because he needs rebooting. He's an android, don't you know. That's the new wrinkle in space exploration: send up smart robots who are stronger and more resilient. Unfortunately, he's shot down by the Martians, and this boils off half his face.

Did I mention he goes by the name . . . Frank? So now you have it. His circuits are scrambled; he's lost any sense of himself, except that he's angry and unable to communicate, and his programming has devolved down to "strangle everyone," which is an odd subroutine to have included in his BIOS.

Here's the Space Monster.

Pretty good costume, although it's not clear why they keep the guy on the ship.

Oh, the ship:

It's come to gather up Earth Women to repopulate Mars. That old dodge. All the action takes place in Puerto Rico, and when I say action, pal, I mean action:

I'm sure you can find it somewhere in all its schlocky glory, but it's not worth it Unless you're dying to see some drive-by shots of Cocoa Beach. Like the burger joint with the moon door:

The Moon Hut, I believe. From their website:

The round, yellow moon sign was a landmark from the minute the doors opened on the Moon Hut restaurant in 1958. Locals, astronauts, tourist, space workers and even movie stars rubbed elbows with each other over cups of coffee in the early days of the race to the moon.

Popular for its Moonburger and the space and astronaut memorabilia that filled the walls, the restaurant was always a little seedy, and yes, a little dirty. But that didn't bother most locals. The restaurant has changed hands over the past several years, but one thing that always endured was the Moon Hut sign.

Well, kiss the Moon Hut goodbye and welcome La Fiesta Azteca, a Mexican restaurant. The restaurant's new owners, Nestor Martinez and Alice Fusillo, are a little surprised by the amount of attachment people seem to have for the old restaurant.

Yes, "La Fiesta" sets it apart so much more.

Ah, the Satellite.

Still there, but the sign's gone.

I mourn the Space Age. It was such a pliable concept. It fit everything.

The sign changed, evidence suggests. As for the Mousetrap, here's the last Yelp review, in a series of brutal evaluations:

Shame on those who took a great name and ran a HORRIBLE restaurant. I have never seen anything as bad as this. They actually blamed the customers.

I never met a single person (I live here) that liked the food. They lifted their leg on a great legacy. Mousetrap used to be a great place to eat. It was THE place to eat on the Space Coast during the Apollo days.

The stories of other diners are more horrifying than anything in this movie.

Nevertheless, dig the terror.

That's it for today! See you tomorrow.



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