I had Friday off, burning some PTO, and spent the afternoon on two fine outings. The first was to pry money out of a bank. The insurance check sent to us to cover the roofing was made out to me, Wife, and the Mortgage company. They’re a bank, in Fargo. They have branches here, because they’re trying to crack this market. In fact they have their name on a big suburban office tower. Still low profile for most people, I think, but I know them well: their first bank office was a block from my house in Fargo, housed in a small building that went up in the early 70s.

Well, maybe “up” isn’t the word.

The heavy top was added later. As were those dogleg columns. Gah. Swing around 180, and you'll see the tallest building on the North Side! We were so proud when it went up. It was an Old Folk's Home.

I had my first bank account in that building, proceeds from my paper route. Even though there’s no connection between the structure and the Bell Bank system now, we’re still linked. In my head. Tenously.

Turns out I needed to submit a lot of documents, and they had to go to Fargo, and they were supposed to come back Tuesday, but they didn’t. So while I was driving daughter to work I called the bank on the car phone, asked to talk to my guy at the bank, and said “Hey it’s James. You got my money? Don’t make me send my guys over. They’re nice guys. Unless you don’t have my money. Then they’re not so nice guys.” Click

Daughter looks at me with mild alarm: should you . . . should you say that? To a bank?

“He’ll understand.”

So the check came on Friday, and I drove to the suburban HQ to get it. Then picked up Daughter at home to go to Bed Bath and Beyond and Thereafter to the End of Known Space to get a pizza stone, because I was going to start making pizza at home! Customize it, do the artisanal thing! No more delivery, no more frozen.

And here my troubles began

Bed Bath Body Works Beyond Infinity was out of pizza stones. Unacceptable. Totally so. But what can you do. We went to Backwards Target nearby, so named because it has a mirror-image layout of Good Target in Edina. Found a pizza stone. Daughter, now keen to the ways of Target, did a search online to price check, and learned it was six dollars less online. Ah hah! We’re Savin’ money!

Except when you start buying the ingredients. Then you’re paying the price of a Domino’s small for a single jar of something . . . except of course you can make many pizzas from this, so it’s not the same. I end up spending . . . a lot, but A) we have Gnat’s (sorry, Daughter) employee discount, and B) this is fun. I can’t remember the last time we went to Target and ranged through the store commenting on All the Things. Found a DVD of a kid’s animated movie - there’s still a filament of memory that connects today to the time when she watched all the straight-to-DVD stuff, and since she’s interested in animation and marketing and culture and all that stuff, it’s a long ongoing conversation that stretches back years.

"Tell me what's sad about this."

You hit what you think is the uppermost of the topper most, and your name still doesn’t mean squat.

At the self-checkout the Guest Advocate asked Daughter to input her employee ID, and here’s the point of all this: she tapped out what looked like a nine-digit string with such speed we all got windburn. The Guest Advocate was almost stunned: yeah you’re an employee, all right.

The stories I hear of the dull larcenous customers, the new-but-now-routine routine of driving to drop her off and pick her up, the conversations about the life of the store and the neighborhood, the things she’s learned - none of that I saw coming for 2020, and it’s good. She’ll go back to school in 2021 and slip into the academic world with this intense experience with all its lessons and stories and characters, better for it. Watching her bang out that number was a thrill: kid’s good. Oh and she’s also a barista at Starbucks in the store a few days a week.

Her parents? Loving it all, despite all the confusion and uncertainty outside of the house. It’s been a blessing. It’s been a joy. I’m at the kitchen island now, standing up, typing at 12:42 on a weekend night, and I hear the creaks in the floorboards upstairs in her room. Won’t hear those in three months.

Won’t mind so much. I got an extra helping.

The pizzas? That’s another story. Ten times the work and 1/10th as good. But that’s another Bleat, the one about “making your dough from scratch.”

This was not that Bleat.



As you know, or don’t, or do, and don’t care in the least, I’ve been underwhelmed by the Hildegarde Mysteries. That might be the least essential thing I’ve ever written. But! I do enjoy Hildegarde. It’s just everything else that’s a bit rote. There’s a reason they showed these before the main feature.

There were three, and this is the last. It begins with the government logo everyone was compelled to use, lest you be regarded as an opponent of the President and his policies.

Is it - hers? That would be wrong. She’s no supposed to have sex!


Let’s see if Bob punched this up a little. By the way, the cast also includes . . .

Sleep 'n' Eat?

I’ll bet he plays someone quite dignified.

We begin in an airplane - a small one with huge windows.

So I’m guessing they’re not heading up to 30,000 feet.

One of the passengers is feeling airsick, and it’s an uncomfortable scene, because there isn’t any bathroom. If he barfs, everyone will. Then he gets claustrophobic. Then he dies! So that’s the murder.

Eventually we meet Sleep ’n’ Eat, who isn’t even given a name.


William Best.

One of the hard-working, unappreciated African-American actors of Hollywood's "Golden Era" who produced good work with what he was given. He starred alongside some of film's great comedians including the Marx Brothers, Bob Hope, Laurel and Hardy and three films with Shirley Temple. In addition to being a talented comedian and character actor, Best was also a musician/song writer. After a drug arrest ended his film career, he worked in television for a while before retiring to obscurity. He passed away at the Motion Picture Country Home and is buried in North Hollywood, California.

Best was one of the victims of the racist attitudes of the era, never given the opportunity to fully flex his comedic muscle beyond the stereotyped porter and janitor roles that dominated his career. Sadly he was also a victim of backlash for these same roles during the Civil Rights movement and it is hard to watch many of his films without cringing, despite his ability.

Bob Hope referred to Best, as his comedic co-star in The Ghost Breakers (1940), as one of the finest talents he had ever worked with.

And here’s imdb’s Personal Quotes:


Oh for God’s sake. But here’s the other:

"I often think about these roles I have to play. Most of them are pretty broad. Sometimes I tell the director and he cuts out the real bad parts... But what's an actor going to do? Either you do it or get out." Interview, 1934.

He did it. His first movie credit? His character’s name . . . is George.

As for the Hildegarde movie, it lacks the novelty of the first one, but it's not as grey and impoverished as the second. Has some snap and panache:

It takes place at a luxurious casino:

The Catalina Casino. It's fun to study the frame for details . . .

. . . and find them in Google Street View.

That'll do; Matches await.




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