That was a peculiar Fourth. It was good, strenuously so, because Got-Dang it, I’ll be switched if I’m going to ramp it down and cringe and say “now’s not the time.” Now is particularly the time. Now is essentially the time. The neighborhood festivals were cancelled, OF COURSE, but they had a decorations competition. So we festooned the steps and garage, and Daughter drew the Statue of Liberty on the driveway.

I got a four-hour compilation of patriotic Sousa and Sousaesque marches from YouTube - FOUR HOURS - threw it on an old iPod, hooked it up to a speaker, attached a battery pack, and stuck it in the bushes by the end of the steps. It was quiet enough so it wouldn’t drive the neighbors mad, but you could hear it when you stopped to admire. And they did! The pizza guy on Friday noted that he really liked all the flags and bunting. I mean, I really like it, he said, giving a thumbs up. As in: thanks for pride and gratitude.

Like it’s counter-cultural.

Well. I suppose, at this moment, it is. The flag is for burning or inverting; no one wonders what you mean by that, because the over culture message is now activism! for all the good things. Put out a flag, and you get some side-eye: what do you mean by that, exactly?

I hung the big one on the stoop. It had been a while, since the hooks I used to put it up had fallen off. Believe it or not, I used Command adhesives on stucco, and they lasted a decade. An attempt to redo this with the same type of adhesives was not successful, and I was on a ladder that has decided to enter the Rickety phase of its life, tottering with trepidation on the top step. Eventually I switched to some double-sided adhesive squares I’ll have to razor off some day, or maybe not.

Maybe I’ll put it up every day.

Really make people wonder.

Not everyone. Downtown Minneapolis on the Fourth:

 

They wouldn’t wonder.

We also wanted to give Rotaria a taste of a true Fourth, and hence had a meal of grilled hamburgers, corn, baked beans, and a red-white-and-blue trifle. When the sun set and the detonations were going off in all directions, we lit some nice wimpy legal fountains, and she was delighted. Then the neighbor kicked in with the real stuff.

 

It was all normal and ordinary, but it wasn’t. One of the reasons the local fireworks were so crazy was the general assumption that there would be no cops to bother anyone. All the good law-abiding folk who never set off the big stuff decided they’d mosey on over to Wisconsin this year just for fun, because this year the heat was off. Some say this is a healthy American disdain for the niggling rules of a nanny state, but I’m not so sure it's an unalloyed good, and I'm not including the Dog Perspective in that. It's like "hey, no cops! I can see the upside here." It's remarkable how many upsides you can find if you set your mind to it.

 

 

 

Interesting credits: we're not beating around the dusty backwaters anymore.

Somehow I think this might be more comedic, with less pathos and that suicide or divorce subplot. And the opening credits have more pizzazz.

Oh boy.

It's odd - I like Red Skelton, but I don't like anything he's in, or anything he does.

Will it be Red? No, he's comic relief. They never get the girl.

So, what’s her job at the start of this one?

She’s in a knife-thrower act. But we soon find out that Prof. Orco’s wife just left him:

He's . . . he's not going okay.

 

She escapes a fatal shot, after which he fires her. She’s out of a job again!

As always.

Brief cameo by an enthusiastic potato peeler salesman:

Harry Tyler. Long career, tiny roles.

Inside the office building lobby are four guys camped out in phone booths, waiting for calls. “Indian eating banana” is the credit on imdb:

Jack Raymond, from Minneapolis. All the guys camping in the booth are called "Indians." Slang for the guys who spent the day hanging around in phone booths, I gather.

In the talent agent’s office:

Leo Gorcey, who always gives me the creeps. Finding him not in Bowery Boy mode is unsettlings. He's got an edge and it's not funny.

Then Skelton walks into the picture. When I was a kid we knew he was supposed to be funny, and he had a funny name, and always ended his TV show with a kindly and sincere “Gawd Bless,” and I hold him no ill will, but I never got the gag.

It’s stuffed with character actors and bit players, and I’m sure everyone was glad to get the job - but it spends the first 20 minutes introducing one character the other, and nothing has much promise.

It has many other recognizable comic faces of the day -

Unless you're familiar with the B movies of the time, you might not know how much audiences brought to these characters.

Alas, some of the laughter was cruel:

Willie Best. In another era he might have been a top-billed comic star. Bob Hope called him "one of the finest talents he had ever worked with."

What matters? It has Ann.

But this one doesn’t do her justice.

In a sense, none of them did.

There you have it; now the solid part of summer begins.

 

 

 

 
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