I forgot to take out the recycling. Amend that: I took it out, but that last step of getting the bin from the shed to the curb was too much to ask, I guess. So the only way I can manage the next two weeks of STUFF is get rid of it surreptitiously, and I feel like a POW in “The Great Escape” dumping dirt out of his cuffs in the yard. Without the whole “threat of death by Nazi overlords” part, of course.

Naturally, it’s off to Target for more STUFF. They had a sale on a new variety of sparkling water, Bubly. It is my favorite, for two reasons: the flavors are good and prominent, if vague, and the packaging is more attractive than any other brand. I put an 8-pack in the cart, then noticed why it was caleld Bubly Bounce: it had caffeine. I'm a big fan of the stuff. As I've said before, I don't drink coffee to wake up in the morning, I wake up in the morning to drink coffee. But I don't want the stuff in my water. It doesn't belong there.

Now, you're saying, what's the difference between the water-based coffee, and water-based Bubly? Everything. I am stuck in my ways. I like my caffeine-delivery systems either coffee-hot or cola-cold, and I'm not having any crisp Blood Orange Mango Go-Juice.

So the Target run began with putting something back on the shelf, which is not a good augur. I second-guessed everything else I bought. 

When I got out it was snowing softly, which made half the traffic drive as if they had a vial of nitro in their lap. But it was nice. We're past the Seasonal Snow of early winter, the Punishing Snow of January. Now it's just snow.

The Cruel Snow of March awaits. We always think March is the end. Sometimes it is, just to give us an anomoly to recall and think it was a norm.


I think I spent most of the weekend building a theme park. If you think this sounds like a childish waste of time, well, yes; but it’s been years since I just pushed everything to the side and played a game.

In other words, I was gaming. That’s the word. I think people use it because it makes them gamers, which sounds like an actual occupation. “Playing a game” does not sound like a serious pursuit, but gaming - well, that’s different. There’s an entire culture built around it! So it’s a totally serious thing adults can do for as much as they wish.

Eh. I’m split on the matter. But playing a game, particularly online, is better than passively absorbing televised drivel, as we did in my youth. You may decry a teen sitting in a room alone playing CoD with online friends, but it’s far more social than sitting with a glazed expression watching TV simply because this was the time of day when everyone watched TV. The problem is the lure of the unreal, its ability to make the real world a boring place.

But what if the real world is a boring place?

One of the things I liked about Minneapolis was its sedate and settled sense. A walk around the lakes was a civilized diversion. It hadn’t changed for a hundred years, simply because it could not change. There’s the path, there’s the view - lake on one side, early 20th century houses on the other - and off you go. The only thing that changed were the cars (quieter, cleaner, less interesting in appearance) and the clothing of the people you encountered. Other than that, it was as it always was. The sun, the water, dogs, the purr of passing cars. Nothing happened, and that’s why people lived there.

How much do you really want to happen, anyway? Elsewhere, sure. In your front yard? Well, I suppose there’s the old Brooklyn model of old movies, where everyone’s on the stoop, and thick-bosomed old Mamas are leaning out the window yelling at someone to stop doing that, and there’s stickball and open hydrants, the clank of bottles in the rack the Coca-Cola delivery man is pulling out of his truck, crooners on a radio on the second floor, rattle of the L, all that. Very picturesque and nostalgic. There are times I wish I could’ve experienced that era, and then I remember that when they built Levittown everyone who could leave jammed their trunks in the Mayflower van and lit out for the burbs.

This is still a quiet and sedate place. More so, with the reduced air traffic. I think what I miss is the sense that it’s not just peaceful, but peaceable. Settled and sane.

That’s different from stunned and guarded. Perhaps, again, that’s just me, overlaying on the city my own mood. But I think it’s shared, and it will take a while to get back to our previous assumptions - and even then, they’ll be shaky. As with everything else. 2020 was a hard set of lessons. Every institution upon which you put your trust cracked, and broke. I think we all know it, but we’re just MTMing our way around the lake, as if it’ll be okay if we walk fast enough.

Something new for Mondays: a never-ending contest with no prizes! Not for you, anyway. I have to preface this feature with a warning: I don't know the answers. I mean, I don't have the official answers. I can guess. It can't be that hard.

Oh it has to be Isadora Duncan



Serial time!

The recap:

Pa: there’s a real Dick Tracy villain name.

Five sons? Isn’t he down one? And really, this is all we have for the bad guys? An old dude and five interchangeable sons?

Aren’t they all kids?

Yes, that’s how we all imagine Dick: smiling. Well, when last we saw him, he had slammed right into a mountain.


There’s a surprise.

Well, the Stark gang packs up their beam gear, but drop a tool.


“You fool! Can’t you see the way the camera took note of that? Don’t you know that could lead to trouble?”

Tracy finds it straight away:


Tracy runs the name through the National Database of Criminal Nicknames, or something, then heads off to court to testify against Kid Stark.

Next scene:

That was fast.

Next up, arrest SNUB, who is working at a local garage. Of course, the whole damned Stark family’s there, milling around, so it’s a four-on-two fistfight. Hats are shed.


Pa gets a bright idea:

And what might those four pipes carry?


Paint remover? I’d think ether would be the least of his trouble. It’s not enough to knock him out and shoot him, of course. They take his body out and put it in a car.

Which, it seems, was an early version of those “self-driving” cars you hear so much about these days.


Evens it up for the Kid, who apparently was already executed. Justice was swift in those days.

That will suffice! Now, as ever, the Matchbooks.






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