A park in a small town in southern Minnesota. We drove 40 minutes to get there, heading for a building with a Brazilian flag outside. That’s where the last meeting was held before they went away.

The drive down was a joy, as the weekend had been; Daughter and I had a grand time, albeit with stress levels of previously unmatched levels, as I’ll get to in a bit. Radio loud, making jokes, answering questions about things she didn’t know or hadn’t quite understood - wait, you were a seed salesman in the south? I thought it was south Minnesota.

No. Mississippi Alabama Kentucky Tennessee with a bit of southern Indiana.

What was your most Southern experience?

Aside from eating at Waffle House whenever I could, because it was good for the per diem -

Wait really? I watched this Anthony Bourdain YouTube clip on Waffle House -

And he nailed it. He got it. I ate a lot of grits. I drove through so many towns I can’t remember. I got pulled over the first day on the Nachez Trace by a State Trooper because I had a commercial vehicle, a van with Hertz livery. I had to tell him I was a seed salesman and everything in the back was empty boxes, which was true. I can’t tell you what he looks like but in my mind he was fat and had mirrored sunglasses. So that was something. But the most Southern thing was stopping at a two-pump gas station and walking a Nehi out of a cooler. The bottles didn’t drop down into a chute, you had to put your coin in, and then slide the bottle in the cooler along this metal rail that would cut your hand if you weren’t careful, and then you’d get lockjaw. But cold Nehi on a hot day was so good.

Then I realized that we’d forgotten a serving spoon for the hot dish, because I am a guy and didn’t think this all the way through. This assertion of gender-based inadequacy went unchallenged, but later when I asked her to read the map on my phone she said I should turn right at the ramp, and I said that can’t possibly be so. We have to head east.

East is right.

East cannot possibly be right. WOMEN.



She turned the map around and said okay yes, it’s east, sorry.

Women, for the most part, don’t think in N-S-E-W terms and men forget ladles. So we had to go to Walgreen’s, which was right by the park. They didn’t have ladles. Drove daughter to the shelter with the Brazil flag and said I’d go to Target for a ladle. Halfway there she texted me to say there were ladles aplenty, not to worry, but if I was going to Walgreens I should get some bubble wands for everyone.

I was passing Walgreens, so sure. I will buy bubble wands. Went to the SEASONAL aisle and looked at all the fun stuff and thought this is the last time I buy seasonal kid stuff. All these gott-damned lasts.

SHAKE IT OFF. At the checkout line there was a guy trying to enter his phone number for Rewards. It took a while to remember which one he’d used. He didn’t know which button to use for credit or debit. “I always thought it was the green one,” he said, and he looked at me, smiling, like “amirite? You never know.” And I just didn’t have the desire to participate. I just didn’t feel like backing him up here. I felt bad right away, too.

Back to the shelter for the session. The outbound kids and the inbound kids sharing experiences, and the parents sharing concerns. Most of the parents seemed a bit shell-shocked, or they had spares, or they’d sent the rest off to college and had been through the disconnection process. I ended up talking with one dad who worked for a soft-drink company, and had a fascinating talk about the bottling industry. I mentioned daughter’s inquiry about my trip to the south, and the memory of the old chest-style coolers.

“I have one of those,” he said. He’d been with his daughter at some flea market, and seen an old battered cooler for his brand. Later she’d bought it and given it to him as a Father’s Day gift, and it absolutely tickled him down to his toe bones.

“Turns out they do pay attention to what matters to you,” he joked.

I took back roads half the way home so Daughter could see some rural Minnesota, the small towns, the clean orderly world, the moments of patience when you’re stuck behind a tractor for a few miles. Beautiful old, old John Deere. A few miles later we saw a two-tone 57 Belair, and I felt as if we’d been thrown back in time. We crested a hill on the highway and saw Minneapolis, rising up on a distant hill, and we marveled at the beauty of it all. I had a sudden sting in the eyes.

Blink, blink again, and turn up the radio. It’s summer and we’re on the highway heading home.

Saturday I got the Visa materials off at the post office. Treble and quadruple-checking of everything. Nightmare, start to finish. Everything in Portuguese that had an official seal (sparkly, holographic, impressive) went into the envelope. All the stuff I didn’t need to send, just in case. Vaccination. Criminal background check. Everyone’s ID, notarized. Incomprehensible letter from host people - it was a photocopy of a handwritten letter, and for all I know it expressed a desire to adopt, but it had a seal! Sparkly, holographicm, impressive!

The long nightmare was over. The line was short for a Saturday morn. I bought the USPS money order, because Brazil accepts nothing else just like they don’t accept FedEx or UPS. Put the card in the reader.

“Oh, it doesn’t take credit,” the clerk said. “Only debit or cash!”

I - had - come - this - far - only - to - be - denied -


But then I remembered I had a debit card. Used it. Worked.

“Anything else?” The clerk said.

“Yes. Take everything I gave you and burn it, because I don’t want her to go to Brazil for a year.”

“Awwwww,” she said, and laughed.

No seriously I’ll give you twenty dollars

When it was all away a great weight was lifted, even though I’m sure something’s missing and the visa won’t arrive on time but for now, success. Time to get some shirts and pants that fit, for the rebranding.

Oh, right: the 3 Mantras.

1. Colman Mustard Moment

2. Get me to the Anchor

3. The Great Rebranding

These are the three things that keep me going.

Not that I’m in danger of not going. But. I have to warn you. The Bleat is going to be extremely unstable for the next month. My standard response to “how are you?” lately is “an earthquake weakened building held together with twine and Elmer’s glue,” said with a smile, and that’s just how it is.

Colman Mustard Moment

Get me to the Anchor

The Great Rebranding

This is the order of things. All will be explained.



It’s IT Month.

It starts out as a sub movie . . .

Commanded by Kenneth Tobey, who’s got a great stern-but-approachable sort of style; he’s natural in commander roles. His new atomic sub smacks into something strange underwater, so there’s some sub drama. This happens right off the bat - and we see nothing.

A stentorian, portentuous voice-over gives it a documentary feel. But like a sub that loses ballast, it settles into a trough: the dreaded Lab Scenes.

See, the sub came back with a piece of . . . of something. This gives us a chance to see the Skipper and the Lady Scientist to flirt while a three-person team studies the strange gunk. Lots of staring through microscopes at aquariums.

We have to wait for the rampage. That’s the bottom line.

At 28:00 we see a sucker:

And then sorta the whole beast, as it takes down a model.

You can’t not admire Harryhousen, but there’s just the touch of hesitation that makes the stop-motion work less than convincing to modern eyes.

I'm sure I could find the location for this rear-projection shot, but I'm more interested in the headlines.

If you're the editor, which one do you go with? The first one is more local, but doesn't explain the nature of the threat. The second one is more explicit, but oddly passive.

It helps if you have dramatic music playing in the background to suggest tension, I guess.

The obligatory Fleeing Shot:

The billboards were regarded as urban blight, and there were campaigns to remove them. I think it's rather lively.

From the imdb "Factual Errors" section, because there are people happy to fact-check a movie about an enormous radioactive octopus:

Near the end of the film, when fear of the giant octopus is at its most frenzied, there is a highway scene purportedly showing people fleeing San Francisco in their cars. However, this shot actually shows traffic coming INTO the city. The shot is of I-80 west and the cars are just entering San Francisco from the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It is evident that the traffic is flowing into San Francisco and not away from it, because one of the bridge's two towers can clearly be seen in the background perpendicular to the road.

I always have to check to see if they were real radio men, lending some legitmacy to the fantasy:

No. Sam Hayes, actor. This was his last major role.

We come for the destruction of famous place we know and love, and Harryhausen provides

Another goof:

In most shots of the octopus's tentacles wrapping around the clock tower, the clocks read 5:35, but in a couple of shots the hands show 9:25.

They must not have caught it, then thought "ahhh, no one will notice or have the time to care about pointing out other people's insignificant mistake."

Then came the internet.

Why haven't I posted any clips? Because I can't find them. No matter: everything in the movie is in the trailer.


Who wouldn't want to slam down a quarter for that?


Tomorrow: the madness increases, probably. Right now I'm less Colman Mustard Moment and more Get Me To the Anchor. We'll see.




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