This will be a mild week, Bleat-wise; novel repair. But as luck would have it - or, if you wish, the concentrated and methodical application of fingertips to the keyboard, which has nothing to do with luck at all, but decades of accumulated discipline - I wrote ten tons of stuff which has the appearance of being Timeless, so you won't notice that I've written a lot in advance. Unless I tell you, which I won't, because that would ruin the effect -

Oh, damn. Well, right now it's Sunday night, and the notification panel is pinging because someone found my Twitter account and is favoriting a lot of the weekend tweets. Some are about "Tomorrowland," a 2 hour and 10 minute movie I did not entirely hate and loathe, although the main emotion during the middle was Endurance, and the finishing note was "brackish loathing." Save your brickbats or kudos; that's Wednesday. One of the retweeted tweets had to do with Scout the Dog, who got out on Saturday. I was working in my studio with the window open, and heard my wife call his name once; twice; three times - and it was the insistent HEY YOU THERE LOOKING AT ME GET OVER HERE command. He'd gotten out. (Because she left the gate ajar.) Soooooo we all fanned out, and assumed the worst. Middle of the day, lots of cars, lots of squirrels to chase. Where is he.

I found myself down at the creek, calling his name. What would have been a beautiful afternoon stroll now had that uneasy combination of hope and resignation, and for a moment the empty field seemed . . . I don't know. Foreboding. Off- kilter. As if there was something dark and mindless at the end of the shadows. You can imagine how the primitives were seized with Panic, thinking some creatures moved around beyond your range of perception, amused by their own agendas, waiting to swallow you for the fun of it all. Perhaps they began to imagine Pan as playing his pipes to civilize his image.


Eh, maybe you had to be there. So I went home, and got a call from Daughter, who had found Scout and leashed him and was heading home. He was happy. He'd had fun. We hadn't. He didn't seem to notice, or care. I mean, we're great and awesome and all, but running with Pan, that's a whole different world, and there's no way we'd understand.


You're wondering if I saved all the data from those balky drives. The ones that declined to spill their tales, yield their secrets. Last you heard, the second drive, the redundant one, had gasped its last and taken its data to the grave. But what of the primary drive, the keeper of the original files? You'd been told it was kicking at the stall walls when mounted, and that's so; it would eventually consent to be bridled, but the more I tried to examine its file structure, the more it was apparent that A) the drive was corrupted, and B) the horse metaphor, or any other metaphor, really wouldn't work here. Failing drives are a thing of the modern age, and require no metaphors. At least they shouldn't. I fear that the time we spend with whirring platters will be so short that they don't establish any metaphors. My daughter will never say her drive crashed. Only that her computer is broken.

People have attachments to certain media - albums, for the art of the sleeve and the satisfying physical act of putting the needle in the groove. We've been desensitized to the sound of a needle flying across the serrated landscape, because it means "interesting sound to get your attention," not "from now on all the songs on this side will have a scratch, and this sucks." No one cares about 8-Tracks except for people who are dedicated to archiving old media, and really, c'mon - nothing was released exclusively on 8-track. It was a redundant medium. Cassettes have nostalgic appeal because some guys who are now slumping into middle age made mix-tapes for girlfriends, and while they may or may not have been listened to, or understood to contain the amazing messages the sender intended, they were a cheap, universal, compact medium.

I used to send tapes to a friend in Chicago I met at debate camp. It was proto-podcasting. Tunes and commentary, with notes that indicated the exact time where the music did something important or awesome. The medium itself was instantly ubiquitous, and so it held no particular value. We were happy to toss it over for CDs, thanks to "8 1/2 Days." Really; you had to be there. The minute guys saw that motorized disk tray slide out at the push of a button, we were sold. The Future. Ours. Here.

I amassed a large CD collection, and jettisoned it as soon as I could: incorporeal was better. I didn't realize this meant the end of the idea of an album, of committing to a particular group of songs arranged as the artist wanted them to be heard - it just meant I could blow past the filler and go to the songs I wanted. So it didn't matter where they were stored, as long as they were accessible at a moment's notice. CDs became a backup medium; mass storage, from Iomega drives to other generic removable storage to USB drives, the medium was not the message. But then you find yourself digging through the guts of a dying drive, trying to pry the remnant bits out of a wrecked file structure, and it's like trying to salvage pages from a library hit by a fiery meteor.

The Deep Scan process on a disk-drive utility informed me that it would take 40 hours to translate the garbled drive's contents. Eh. I have backups. Right? Call up the Master List, and there were the files on other archived hard drives. But I had only two copies, and I'd just seen what happens when you get lazy and rely on two copies. I set about copying the files for distribution elsewhere, and was surprised to find that the Disney 08 and Disney 09 files were all .mov.

I'm talking about the raw video here. The home movies made from this trip are mp4, of course, and backed up five times. The raw files - the stuff that actually captures the moment, as opposed to the moment edited and set to music and defined retrospectively - these are fat files that could stand some trimming, so I dumped them all into a batch converter, and checked the progress now and then.

It's hard to watch the actual video. It's yesterday, b utmy daughter is a little girl. These files are a curse. And a joy. A lance to the sternum, wings on your heart - stop. Not now. Watch them later, when you're on the gurney at the Soylent Green factory, and even then I'll think "this needs to be stabilized and set to Beethoven."

So all that's done and everything is backed up safely, and nothing was lost. But it made me realize that my offsite backup is a month old, and if the house exploded or thieves took every hard drive (not ridiculous: happened to a photographer I read about; lost a life's work) I wouldn't just lose all the footage of the StarTribune demolition, the world would lose it. Which sounds egomaniacal, yes, but as far as I know, no one else documented the building's final days inside and out. There are three videos on YouTube, and they're just fragments. I think I got that subject covered.



A brief respite from pumpkin-flavored foodstuffs - sorry pumpkin spice flavored. Some holds for baking. From the top left, clockwise: Mr. Classic, Goofy, Mr. Classic's Twin, and Hellspawn who's really annoyed at how this season has gone cutesy and fun.

It used to be about the soul-stealing, man. It used to mean something.




The potential and the problem are right here in the title card:

Ooooh, bodies! Bodies snatched! And it's all foggy 'n' stuff so it's like Jack the Ripper territory in Merrie Olde, et cetera. But Robert Louis Stevenson wasn't known for horror, was he? I mean, it's not one of those names that makes your blood run cold.

But then you start watching, and you're relieved: it's Frankenstein!

But the show needs an effete man of science, preferably one untrammeled by morality.

Henry Daniell, making the most of a rare lead role. But we need a lass and her mother to be put in peril, right? Preferably they live on a stage, with an unconvincingly projected sky:

All the elements are ready! Yes, let the monstering and horroring begin. When we -


Bela! Holy cow, it's Frankenstein and Dracula in the same movie! This, you think, is going to be amaaaazing!

You're 12, in other words. You are unaware in the ways of the world, and how such illustrious names make for long, dull movies.

Oh, it's not bad; Karloff is charming as a grave robber. That's what it's about, of course - selling fresh cadavers to medical schools and curious doctors. The old Burke and Hare game, in other words. There's a little kid who needs a special operation to help her walk again, a noble young scientist, and a unending procession of dimly lit scenes that contain no horror or terror at at all. In fact, we get a moral:

Thanks, Mr. Crates. It's possibly better than I thought it was; just didn't engage me. Two things:

1. It was directed by the same fellow who did "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." That still surprises me.

2. The ending is unnerving. Don't click if you don't want a spoiler, but really, you can see this coming for the entire movie. Our noble but flawed doctor is driving with the dead body of the Body Snatcher's. Or at least he thinks it is. He's gone a bit barmy.

You almost expected the carriage to explode, didn't you.

That's it for today! See you tomorrow.



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