On Halloween night I wrote this, for yesterday:

Today is the meanest, coldest, emptiest day of the year. I don’t know if any words in the English tongue have such aching vacancy as November First. It goes without saying that the orange pageantry of October is over, and all the remnant decorations look abashed and banal, like everyone had to pretend to belong to a stupid religion. The party’s over, and there’s nothing to take its place. Oh, there’s Christmas, but no one’s in the mood.

“Jeziz they’re bumping up Christmas already?” Said the guy behind me in the Walgreens line on his phone the day before Halloween. “ F*ck, did you notice? Too soon, it’s always too soon.”

I glanced back, hoping the minor movement of my head would indicate something along the lines of “watch the lingo, let’s keep the public sphere civil.” He kept talking about the manifestations of Christmas, which as far as I could tell consisted of a rack of Russell Stover candies about two feet by one feet.

“How you doing,” he said. I wondered if he was actually on the phone. “You doing okay?” he said. I turned.

“You talking to me?”

“Yeah! How you doing tonight?”

Shortish guy, early thirties or rode-hard late twenties. Had two cans of energy drink. Face as round as a pumpkin, ill-advised faint moustache, stringy hair.

“I thought you were on a bluetooth,” I said.

“Oh no man, oh no, not those.” I figured my obligation to continue was over, but he said “Hell of a night.”

This was where I was supposed to say “really? How so? What tale of trials have you to relate, my good squire?” But I just didn’t feel like entering the big gauzy Realm of Familiarity he had set up. Since t was now my turn to get beeped, I stepped up to the register. I entered into the transaction with cheerful chatter, since I know this clerk from many transactions and she’s always fun. Now I felt like I’d dissed him - oh you can’t be friendly with me but you’re Mr. Banter with her.

Well yes, because you’re peculiar.

Another register opened up. He walked over and sighed, heavily, and said “It’s the weight of the world, I tell you, the weight of the world.”

What are you, Jack Torrance? Hair of the dog, Lloyd, can’t live without them.

Then I remembered something. “Is the sign out front was broken?” I asked the clerk, and she said nooooo? Why?

“Well, it’s off. The main sign and the logo over the door. Do they come on automatically, or do you have to turn them on?”

She looked at the other clerk, and they both shrugged and giggled: don’t know!

Obviously it’s not in their job description, and obviously, no one has mentioned this. But me, the Guy Who Always Has to Say Something, has said something. The other guy was also the he Guy Who Always Has to Say Something, but at least I was useful and civic-minded.

“Computers!” said the stringy-hair pea-jacket talky guy. “Bane of our existence. Okay, you all have a good night.”

He left as though he’d just been the hit of some witty cocktail party where he’d charmed all with his roguish iconoclastic banter.

There was a brief pause in which the room could evaluate whether it missed him, and then we continued.

“I never look at the sign when I’m off work,” the clerk said. “I just go to my car.”

Odd: Daughter was always paranoid she’d left the sign on at the place where she worked - which, I can now tell you, was Sparrow Cafe.

I haven’t thought of Sparrow in almost three months. Three years of picking her up, chats there and back, sitting in the parking spot looking at the green vines turn to fall hues, then turn to bare branches, then bloom again. Watching the patio empty out then fill again with Wine Moms having a 5 PM bump. Daughter always worried she’d left the light on.

I drive past it now, and I never look.

Maybe I’ll go there the first of November. It’s always a bleak day; it’s the worst. It’s the start of winter. And winter hasn’t even begun to begin.

That’s what I wrote on October 31st, presuming grey skies and nippy winds. It was bright, cheerful, full of fall colors, and not cold at all.

The First of November! Long may we sing its praises!


Now, stuff that sat around all week waiting for a reason to be on the Bleat, but ended up filling up space in Friday Detritus.

Can you guess what this is?


One of four containers on the Free Stuff area at work. It's Cotton Candy.

Let me tell you what the flavors were, and you pick the one that's false. Answer later.

1. Strawberry Serano

2. Candy Corn

3. Wasabi Seaweed

4. Smore



The parking ramp I liked is almost completely gone. The banner image above is the last section to go. Around the corner, the Thrivent lot project is reaching ground level; the ramp will be buried, never to be seen again by the light of day in my lifetime. It’s quite the world down there.


It’s like an Pharoah’s tomb, without the part where they kill everyone who worked on it so no one knows its secrets. You would have thought that would have cramped recruitment for other projects. Where’s Mahtmet? Oh, he took a job on a tomb, he’s been gone a year now. Did his brother go with him? No, he was working on a tomb three years ago for a prince, and he didn’t come back. Probably got another job. And your cousin, who worked on that other tomb for the royal family? You know, we don’t keep in touch any more.

Perhaps they didn’t have a choice, but from what I’ve come to understand it wasn’t slave labor entirely that built the great projects. People were honored to labor for a god, and they got paid, and there was beer. Warm beer, but beer. Ten thousand guys with a single purpose, paid in beer - you can get a lot accomplished.



Her Instagram has some cryptic shots.



Right now she's in another town, having flown to a different part of the country; I'm not exactly certain where, but she promises to send some pictures.

Man, there's "watching them leave the nest" and "watching them pass the moon and head for Jupiter."


It's always the little things:

There wasn't a North Carolina in 1942, you idiot.

Solution here.

Oh, as for the other puzzle: they're all real flavors, and the one shown was Wasabi-seaweed.



Wikipedia puts it succinctly:

Frontier Gentleman was one of several "adult westerns," along with Gunsmoke,(1952-1961), Luke Slaughter of Tombstone and others, that appeared on radio and television in the early 1950s. The genre was described as "grittier, more realistic, and clearly intended for an older audience.

Gunsmoke and Dragnet changed everything.


The opening theme. It's by Jerry Goldsmith.

The next time we meet him, the music will be quite different.



Instead of the swank old sounds of Goodwill albums, this year we're going to share bad 1960s pop music. The second- and third-tier tunes.

1967. As if you couldn't tell. Trebly guitar, harpsichord, sunshine pop voices - everything to win the dimes of a 15 year old girl.


"The Giant Sunflower" was the group's name. As if you couldn't tell.




1950s A car ad from Frontier Gentleman - impersonations of famous movie stars, for some reason.

It's . . . interminable.



That'll do! See you on Monday.



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