Monday’s snow storm is supposed to be so bad (HOW BAD IS IT SUPPOSED TO BE)
No, that’s how it. You’re supposed to say “How bad is it” and then I do a little Carsonesque double-take of mild surprise, and launch a bad joke, and Ed chortles. That was the call-and-response of the nightly mass for the Greatest Generation, and I was lucky enough to see it happen as it happened when I was young, and I learned the exact wrong thing:
Something is funny because it’s supposed to be funny and everyone else thinks it’s funny, but has forgotten when it actually was funny. That doesn’t matter. What matters is knowing what everyone else knows.
For many years you’d say “the snow storm was so bad” and people would say HOW BAD WAS IT, and no one ever said “we should stop doing that. It interrupts the flow of conversation. It dates us all, horribly. It raises expectations of a joke when no joke follows. I mean, what do you expect me to say? The snow storm was so bad I saw Robin Williams following a plough with a mirror and a straw? Hiyo! Except they never made coke jokes. They made booze jokes. Let’s try this again./
Monday’s snow storm is supposed to be so bad they’ve called off school in advance. This indicates a high degree of certainty about what’s to come, which means it’s already happening somewhere and it’s broad and strong. Let me check the weather app . . . Yikes.
That's not a storm, that's a judgment.
I wrote this earlier:
Friday night. Daughter’s cohorts - squad was the term a year or so ago; perhaps it still is, although I never heard her use the term, possibly because it seemed force-fed on high from BuzzFeed et al. Squad goals! and a picture of everyone making peace signs at Maccu Pichu. Anyway, the whole gang went to a school dance at a downtown venue. It was lame. It was rejected almost on sight by all who attended, and the DJ was reduced to begging people to stay. If they did, it’s because it cost a double-sawbuck to get in.
They came back to the house around 10:30, all dressed in costume: the girls were Powerpuff Girls, and the lanky guy was, of course, Professor Utonium. They were all tots under one when I watched the PPG at night while tending to gassy Gnat.
But they're grown and hungry now, so I said I’d put some pizzas in. They went downstairs, and I had this feeling I should make floats with bendy straws or something, or get a 45 record player so they could listen to fab keen tunes . . . except no, they wouldn’t be bendy straws. Those came later.
Or did they? Googling . . . No, bendy straws ere patented in 1937, so they’d work for the saddle-shoe / ponytail 45 cliches.
None of which applied here, but in the back of your mind you have become Mr. Cunningham, smiling indulgently as the kids have their innocent fun. Right now I am at the kitchen island listening to them sing along with pop songs at the top of their lungs. It's pure joy.
Daughter just came up to get some stuff and said that the entire dance could be summed up by one of the treat bowls: individually wrapped mint Life Savers.
“That is small-town bank calibre,” I said. “Second-tier mortgage broker office stuff.”
“They also had animal crackers.”
“No, the frosted kind”
Well, that is an important distinction. That makes all the difference in the world.
I asked where the music was coming from; a friend brought a speaker. Ah. That explained it. She asked if the noise was a problem, and of course you can’t start weeping: are you kidding? It’s the stuff of life that will soon enough depart this house, and I treasure the heedless joy. She'd described parties where everyone half-watches a bad movie while staring at their phones; I can tell from the racket that no one is looking at their phones, unless they're looking up lyrics. If there was silence I would expect the worst - everyone slumped, scrolling, scrolling, unsatisfied, incomplete, anxious, bored. Be noisy! It's fantastic!
She told me more about the party, how it was loud, too loud; the dance floor was empty and the DJ tried to pump it up.
“That,” I said, “is club life. The movies and TV shows are lies. For the most part it’s noise and alienation and posing until the point where everyone’s drunk and then it’s a mess of flailing and abasement followed by pancakes.”
Yes, because you go somewhere else with your friends and have pancakes in a brightly-lit place where the clientele is wobbly and the staff is dead sober and judging you all with weary full knowledge of every bar rush they ever worked, expecting cigarettes stubbed out in omelette carcasses, crappy tips, sugar spilled everywhere. But if you have your wits about you, and your friends are fine, that’s the best part of the night. You want to be wise when the lights come up.
And the lights always come up.
She had to go back down and just as well; I would have bored her with stories about the club nights at the Old Library, the Dinkytown dance club where I waterboarded my sorrows in 1985. We went there every night - me, out of college and without a column for the first time in six years; Sam the Poet, who’s now in the wind, Lisa, who is dead, and the Giant Swede, who I will probably see tomorrow because we haven’t made a Home Depot run in a while. It was a banquet space for Mama D’s, back when Mama D’s was one of three Italian joints in Dinkytown. The Valli, where I worked, a 24-hr joint, the social hub; Vescio’s, the place with the New Jersey gimcrack plastic-fruit decor - you took a date there because it wasn’t the Valli - and Mama D’s, named for the squat smiling matriarch who fed generations of University students.
She passed; the restaurant used its liquor license to open a dance club. (The second floor had Dinkytown’s only hard-liquor bar, Bootlegger Sam’s, and that was the Green Parrot to the Valli Pub’s Rick’s Club American.)
I actually went there to dance. It was a dark place with flocked wallpaper, betraying its banquet-space history. They sold a new innovation in beer consumption: the Miller Lite King Can. It was larger than the usual 12-oz can. We would order King Cans and listen to Prince and now and then we would dance. I had my eye on one patron in particular. Day Welder.
That was the private joke between me and Lisa. Day Weldewould go out and dance by herself or with girlfriends, and for some reason we ascribed a “Flashdance” backstory to her. She became Day Welder, as in the object of desire who was a terpsichorean marvel by night but an industrial worker by day. It was my goal in life to dance with Day Welder - I had no column, was working at Ralph & Jerry’s convenience store, had nothing and I mean NOTHING going on, was still heart-raw from a rending romance. Curly-haired self-contained Day Welder was my Beatrice.
At one point the DJ would played “Let’s Go Crazy,” and everyone had to hit the dance floor. Eventually, the odds were in my favor: I'd be there, Day Welder would be there, the song would play, and I wound myself dancing in proximity to Day Welder. This would be the point at which we might, in the communal confusion, actually face each other, which would constitute mutual recognition.
It did not happen.
None of this meant anything, in the long run, but those evenings in the dim beer-soaked club of failure constitute a big block of strange time in my mind - between the life of being a reasonably well-read college columnist and the start of the climb up the post-college journalism ladder.
Day Welder was my girl on the ferry, and I’m Mr. Bernstein.
No, Beatrice on the ferry, if I'm keeping that all straight.
Better be Mr. Bernstein than Jedidiah. He couldn’t write the truth and ended up begging for cigars.
The kids just left. The electronic doorbell sang a shimmery song to mark their passage.
The house is now dead quiet.
And, as if on cue, the dog in his bed sighed, and issued a soft fart.
An interesting 60s WW2 movie - it's Mission Impossible, Kraut style.
Hey, great! Alfred's in it! But only for a few minutes. We meet our hero, who should have made 50 more movies because he's always fantastic:
That's a bit fanciful. Plot: the Nazis have built a perfect replica of an Army hospital, and kidnapped an American secret agent who knows when and where D-Day will happen. Rod Taylor is the Nazi who's running the operation; Eva Marie Saint is the nurse, liberated from the camps, threatened with return if she doesn't do her job.
They've built a perfect replica canteen:
They made an alternate history:
But you think, no. There's no way they could get every detail correct. Someone would slip up. Someone does - but not before Jeff Pike says something that will -
Well, no, I'm going to let you experience it without spoilers, should the opportunity arise. It's clever and tense, even though we know D-Day went off as planned.
So what can I possibly say to justify its inclusion here? It's not a 40s noir; it doesn't have interesting camera work. It's a striaght-ahead nail-biter. I want to mention two actors:
T'Pau, of course. She's just a few years away from Star Trek here. She always played old ladies mit Churman accents. Even when she was 25, it seems.
The Minister: oh, what a delight this is. He's Home Guard. Not the most enthusiastic Nazi.
And that, you suspect, led to the thing for which he's known.
Another week; I wonder if I'll do the things I'm supposed to do but don't have to do right away. Experience says no. But