Snow again; the world is white and quiet. It's a nice change from the empty ruined remains of last fall, which is what winter gives you when the snow retreats. The world is smeared, muddy, dead, and in need of repair. More snow doesn't fix anything, but it's a beautiful bandage.
So! How was your weekend? Mine was fleet and well-struck. Not as productive as I would have liked, but if I would really have liked to be more productive I suppose I would have done something about it.
It was happy, and that matters. Last Friday Dennis Prager had his usual show about the necessity of happiness. Not my favorite hour, because I get the point. This show's theme was Looking Forward To Something, and whether happiness is dependent upon it. You should enjoy the moment, he said, not fix your happiness on some future point. Find yerself a diem and carpe that sucker.
I don’t think it’s either-or. I have some things coming up that give me a nice tingle of anticipation, but I also understand the necessity of inhabiting the moment. But I also know that I like doing things now that you will see later. I like walking down the hall at the office on the way to the stairs because I know the end result will be coffee from the Giant Urns. Is it permissible to look forward to the thing you’re about to do in a minute, or do you have to wait until you’re doing it?
Attitude is everything, in other words. And I am guilty of bad attitudes, because now and then you stop and feel all these implacable facts swamp your boat, all those shoals out there waiting to sunder your hull. You can stop and drift or start to row, and the latter is better; movement towards something is better than circling around the ragged hole that sometimes seem to be the center of everything, the point into which it all drains.
What’s necessary: something immediate to look forward to, a daily ritual or indulgence. A routine that pays dividends. I have these for every day. You will probably not be surprised to learn that within 20 minutes of waking, I am resizing matchbooks. Really. Breakfast, coffee, then a few minutes in the folder of scanned matchbooks (there are 436), cutting them up and placing them in the 365 X 950 pixel template, adding the drop shadow, all the while listening to a Lum & Abner radio show. M-F, that’s how the day starts. So by the time I’ve been awake for 40 minutes, I’ve done something.
Friday, though - ironclad rituals. They are: Nap. Pizza. Whiskey. Ice Cream.
Secondary objectives: 1 hour evening radio show; do a serial episode for the site; B&W World entry; various website work.
How’d that go? Herewith a review.
The Nap. 3 out of 5 stars. The best nap is a solid hour, dreamless, instantly achieved, effortlessly abandoned. I set the timer for 1 hour and ten minutes, knowing I didn’t have to get daughter from work, and while falling asleep wasn’t seamless, it was TSA Pre compared to the usual airport security line. REM sleep, agitated dreams that seemed to gain intense momentum before I woke - one of those moments where the abandonment of sleep seems like an act of self-preservation. GAH! Oh.
Checked the phone; I’d had 45 minutes of nap, the minimum to assure a successful Friday. Checked Daughter’s location. Checked email. All was well.
The Pizza. Since Daughter would not be having dinner with us, this meant I would rely on the stock of Frozens. To my dismay I didn’t have my favorite frozen pizza, because it hadn’t been on sale lately. Every third week they sell it for 50% off, training the consumer to wait and never buy it when it’s full price. I’d bought something else on sale, and it was a Hott ’n’ Tott Meaty Fiesta something or other, with spicy sausage and spicy sauce and jalepenos and everything else that says “my, what a subtle, discriminating palate you must have.”
It was the most painful pizza I’ve had in years. It made me sweat. When I went outside to get Scout in I could feel frost form on my forehead.
Scout had a piece of crust but he wasn’t too happy about it, and then he looked at me as if asking for another.
The Whiskey. I use the term to describe Friday Brown Stagger Sauce. I have a large collection, sampled on Fridays in sequence. At present (Yes, it is Friday when I am writing this) I am finishing a bottle of Ainsley Brae Highland Single Malt Oak Cask. It has notes of oak and an undertone of boredom. It’s utterly undistinguished, and I’m not surprised; something about it said this wasn’t the finest example of the distiller’s art, because the price was too low for something that came in a cardboard sleeve with a manhole-cover lid. The label tries too hard. I think I paid $22 for this.
I’m sure there’s a website with pictures of some master distiller sniffing a glass of the stuff and pictures of the staff from 1923 gathered outside the distillery looking stern and devoted, but you always have to ask yourself: what if none of these people really had any taste? I mean, just because you’re Scottish doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing.
If a distillery had a certain percentage of people who really didn’t know whiskey all that well, they’d establish a culture that would drive out the people who knew good from bad, because the smart people couldn’t stand working for morons. Or it would accommodate people who recognized mediocrity but had no problem assisting its distribution.
So I am finishing the bottle to get it out of the way and move on to the next sub-$30 single malt. The label doesn’t try so hard. The Brae label looks like a piece of 2015 design, which suggests it’s aimed at people who don’t know that modern fonts excel at aping the old styles and doing them one better.
The Ice Cream. I’ve made a change in the weekend Ice Cream flavor, because daughter shamed me into it. But it still has veins of peanut butter, because there is just nothing better than some peanut butter and chocolate and caramel in your ice cream. The difference is the medium - now it’s vanilla instead of chocolate. When the dish is done it’s a sign that the Friday rewards are over, and I’m never so far from having them again as I am at that moment. Saturday, all duty, awaits.
But I’m not there yet! It’s just past Midnight, and I was watching women’s tennis with my wife. She has become a tennis devotee over the last year, playing several times a week, and I wanted to watch the match to learn more about what she likes. From my perspective, it was Emotionless Polish Beanpole Robot vs. Hot Puerto Rican Fireplug.
I rooted for the latter, but she lost. On the other hand her Instagram feed suggests she enjoys life. Good for her.
What’s the alternative?
A 30s crime pulp mag ran a WANTED section, so you could keep an eye peeled for these hardcase yeggs. This fellow was known for his ability to change his appearance simply by turning his face to profile, I guess:
Maybe that was Fell on the left and Singer on the right?
The idiot tattooed his initials on his arm, thereby invalidating his alias. Genius!
Interesting name: by the 50s, "to fall" was criminal lingo for doing a stretch. It had an almost Biblical sound, as if you are confirming man's natue.
I'm sure someone will call this an underrated noir:
The title, the black-and-white look, the hard-boiled score - it's promising. Right away we get a tense ride, with a mobster heading to testify.
Alfred Linder - scant bio. Born in Churmany, as you can tell from his agcent. Not much seems known. Oh, it was known once, but it never seems to have made it to the Internet.
They get over the bridge, and it's old, shabby New York:
And then it's remarkable, monumnetal New York. Do you know where this is?
I'm surprised the location isn't used more often. Of all the big important New York building, you'd think they'd use the romantically named Manhattan Municipal Building more.
It's quite an accomplishment. Zoom out for a 3D look, and note the top. It has a statue based on Audrey Munson, an artist's model and the first person who go all starkers in a movie. She had . . . stability issues.
On January 27, 1919, she wrote a rambling letter to the US State Department denouncing Hermann Oelrichs Jr. as part of a pro-German network that had driven her out of the movie business. She said she planned to abandon the United States to restart her movie career in England.
At the time, Audrey Munson was living with her mother in a boarding house at 164 West 65th Street, Manhattan, owned by Dr. Walter Wilkins. Wilkins fell in love with Munson and murdered his wife, Julia, so he could be available for marriage.
Although Munson and her mother left New York and the police sought them for questioning. After a nationwide hunt, they were located. They refused to return to New York, but were questioned by agents from the Burns Detective Agency in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The contents of the affidavits they supplied have never been revealed, but Audrey Munson strongly denied she had any romantic relationship with Dr. Wilkins.
Wilkins was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to the electric chair. He hanged himself in his prison cell before the sentence could be carried out.
She went to a lunatic asylum in 1934, and stayed there until she died in 1996, aged 104.
Wouldn't that make a great movie? Instead, we got this one.
Brian Keith plays a cop, watching a moll who's going to turn state's evidence.
The crime boss they're going to take down - well, dum diddy dum diddy dum diddy dum diddy BAD GUY
He's so good in heavy roles; in another universe he probably went on to play Perry Mason.
So there's a lot of talking in an apartment, and they watch TV. The movie - made in 1955 - has a rather scornful take on TV, and presents it as a fountain of endless idiocies.
Mor-Hair for More Hair! And then there's this:
A telethon! That's Doye O'Dell. He had a children's show on LA TV: "Cowboy Thrills." I'm sure that's why he got the job.
Well, it gets outdoors now and then, for some filthy, soot-stained, miserable old city scenes . . .
But mostly it doesn't. That's not the problem.Tthe problem is the brassy broad who's hiding out, and whose feminine wiles and hotcha-mama appeal we're supposed to believe without question.
It's Ginger Rogers. She's just too old for the role. And there's no chemistry with the hard-boiled cop who's guarding her.
This says a lot:
Well, yeah, that might have had something to do with it.
That'll do for today! Don't miss my MONDAY newspaper column! Just click on the Star. You know: The big green Startribune Star.
You may like that column. I did. NOTE: I was late uploading this, so if you came early and the video didn't load or the link to the column was janky, it's your fault for jumping the gun. So there.