No sir no ma’am no way, no how: I was not going to leave the house. It was too cold and we had everything we needed. A good weekend day to stay home. Get things done.

There are always things to be done. On the site, for example - there are some projects in a state of half-completion that make me sag just to consider what needs to be done, but hey! What better project for a wintry January? First, a hearty breakfast. Let’s make bacon. Let’s make half the bacon today and half the bacon tomorrow, because bacon - contrary to what you might think - does expire, and this stuff was a few weeks away from being something that is not bacon anymore, but greycon.

If you open up the package it will be greycon next week, but still edible. It’s the moment you discover it’s greycon before you open it up that you get wary. Despite what you think, bacon is not eternal.

So I made a hearty breakfast, and had a shower; noticed that the shampoo / soap was almost out. So maybe Target tomorrow. Make a note of it. I set about working repairing an old site, cursing Former Me for certain design decisions and sloppy choices that made no sense. 1000 pixel pictures, 980 pixel banner on top. Dude. Around noon I went downstairs to get something, and noticed that the microwave / toaster had all sorts of smears from someone making something smeary, like, bacon? Possibly. Best clean that now. And look, the cupboard has some loose coffee grounds - best sweep that out. Hmm; a stain. Wonder if a Magic Eraser would get that up. It does! Wonder what else it will clean?

An hour later I have done all the shelves and am disassembling the fridge, taking out everything inside. You learn things, such as: we are over-pickled. You learn things you previously just suspected, such as: no one will eat that lump of brie from Christmas. Not going to happen. I knew this would be the case, but you can’t just throw it out. You have to put it in Container Purgatory for two weeks, after which you can throw it out.

Wife comes home from errands, sees what I’m doing; there was great rejoicing. Says we should do the under-counter drawers where all the pots and pans are stored, since I bought her new ones for Christmas. (Because I had destroyed the others.) (Long story.) Great idea! Let’s do that after supper. So everything came out, triage began, and she said “didn’t you buy shelf paper a year or so ago for this? To match all the other drawers?” I had.

There wasn’t enough.

So either we abandon the dream of shelf paper on the under-counter, or . . . I leave the house. Drove to Target at 7:30 on a Saturday night and bought shelf paper.

Moral of the story: write NEED SHOWER SOAP on back of hand with Sharpie. Because I forgot to get it.

Daughter and I saw . . .

Stormtroopers in Paradise!

Here’s the thing: Daughter knows all the characters of Star Wars and the basic idea - Darth bad, Carrie Fisher good, Hairy Guy funny and brave, Robots Charming, and there’s a general scrappy-freedom-seeking people vs. totalitarian state plot.

She’s never seen 1-6.

But she saw #7, and loved it. Wanted to go see Rogue One, and what father turns down a daughter’s request to go see a Star Wars movie?

No spoilers, as usual; I hate spoilers. Did I love it? Of course. I go into these things with a generous spirit: just don’t be stupid, that’s all. I’m not expecting to replay my first experience watching Star Wars in 1977; I am hoping not to replay my disappointments during Return, when I got the feeling about halfway through that the spark really wasn’t there anymore. I am certainly hoping not to revisit the emotions of watching the prequels, when I fell into a groove of assuming that this will look great, but sound stupid every time someone speaks, and in the end I would be making excuses for the things I knew weren't that good.

(Although I think #2 is better than #6.)

What Rogue One did was something I have wanted for a long time: tell a different story. As it happens, it’s connected to The Same Old Story, but for once we get a Star Wars movie that’s not about the difficulties of the Skywalker family. As everyone has noted, it’s Grittier - which usually means dirty and depressing and dark in tone and look - but most important it didn't reaching for Mythic status. One reviewer, can’t recall who, said it lacked only Richard Burton saying Broadsword calling Danny Boy, Broadsword calling Danny Boy, and that's about right: Not Longest Day, but Where Eagles Dare.

The music was different, and had the same relationship to the John Williams score as the “Incredibles” soundtrack had to a John Barry Bond score - it reminded you of its source material while seeming unique. (Except for a few cues; the scene where the prison vehicle is stopped and the door blown off in a rescue attempt was an old cue, and I heard a few more. )

It had a few moments you’d never see in any other Star Wars movie, one of which was jarring: after a battle, one of the Stormtroopers struggles to get up, and one of the rebels, walking his way, casually shoots him in the head. It’s an offhand moment of violence that suggests what the new directors would do if they could - arms blown off, blood on the white plastic suits, screaming gutshot soldiers.

And let’s just say the end of the final battle isn’t what I expected, at all.

The Empire continues to make questionable tactical decisions, such as poorly-defended access points to entire planets, easily recognizable data-centers, failure to observe sensible distances between Star Destroyers, and the Rebel Alliance continues to burn through their X-Wing fleet at an alarming rate; it’s a wonder they had anything left for that run on the Death Star. But these were passing thoughts that didn’t interfere with the enjoyment, and the gratitude.

Should I go on a sci-fi site and nitpick? Is that how people make themselves happy, or proud of themselves?

These pictures were given to me by my uncle-in-law.

He found them in houses he was selling. Empty houses whose occupants left things behind.

Whoever left this couldn't have known who this was.

No names on the back; no dates. I'll give them to an antique store, and who knows if anything will become of them. For this week, we'll just put them up and let you imagine your own story.



This, I know, is a bit unusual. But I watched it on the plane, snapped some screenshots with my phone, because something about it seemed interesting. It's an episode of a show about a guy who walked into empty courtrooms and started tripping:

That's a close-up of the opening sequence; works better when it's not in close-up. Burr played Perry Mason with brilliant understatement - he was almost physically immobile, except for his eyes. They said it all.

It's the Case of the Double Something-Something Whatever - an episode from the strange season when Perry was out of the picture, due to Surgery. He didn't look sick. He showed up in a bathrobe and consulted with other attorneys on the phone. IMDB says he was actually sick, but . . .the shows are all written with non-Perry lawyers who have different characters, different offices, different staff, which means they had some lead time. What was going on? What producer would approve a long absence by the show's indispensible star?


In 1963, when Burr had to miss those four episodes because of dental surgery, it wouldn’t have done to give his spot to a lesser light. The first week, Bette Davis – 13 years after All About Eve and two years after Pocketful of Miracles – starred as a fur-clad lawyer defending an irritating punk played by method actor Michael Parks.

Anyway. The lawyer in this one wasn't Bette Davis or Michael Rennie, and the murder concerned international geopolitics. A man from Bulgaristania visits the US, and the DPs and their kids show up to protest.

Butcher Go Home! They never named the country, of course. They never do. It's like those Central-and South-American counties in Mission: Impossible. San Propinquo. San Cristofor. So Schreck was probably from, oh, Borduria.

So who's the Central European Commie heavy? OH

Commie-Nazis! The worst kind. But that's not why brought this up. It's this.

Wow. What's this? An amusement park. The Pike in Long Beach. (Or Nu-Pike.) Some Googling turned up the Pike after searching for this:

You got in a car and it went through a tunnel and things scared you. What I learned: in the carny parlance, it's called . . . a dark ride. Makes sense.

Those guys up top? Laffing Sal.


Laffing Sal is one of several automated characters that were built primarily to attract carnival and amusement park patrons to funhouses and dark rides throughout the United States. Its movements were accompanied by a raucous laugh that sometimes frightened small children and annoyed adults.

The original animatronic entertainment robot. They were made by . . . the Philidelphian Toboggan Coaster company, because of course a sled company would go into funny robots.




It sounded like this.

Imagine working here 8 hours a day.



There was a murder on the ride, and guess who shows up? A playboy lawyer. HOBY hugs:


(This gif should be repeating; if not, reload pls)

It's a bad, bad episode. Hugh O'Brian is as likeable as ever, but the plot is a mess, you can't keep track of anyone, and Perry is sorely missed.

Without Perry Mason, there's no point to Perry Mason.


That'll do for today! Don't miss my Sunday newspaper column! Just click on the Star. You know: The big green Startribune Star.

Now to the comments, where someone thinks I didn't know what I was doing when I made that Rogue One - Incredibles music comparison, and leaped right down the comments without reading this far.



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