Went to the Fair, as did many many fellow Minnesotans. I went to do  . . .

Every year the StarTribune has a new flavor of free lip balm, and I've no idea why. People love it. They queue for blocks. I ask some lip-blam-related questions and do some Fair lore, then interview someone.

The most important thing to remember is no one is there for me, and no one knows who I am. This is soon disproved when a fan comes up and says nice things, and yes I wrote that first sentence knowing my vanity would not let it stand, but it’s generally true, and a good thing to keep in mind. You have to assume the people sitting around under the tree are just resting their dogs, and have no idea why this guy is pointing a yard stick around and talking about lip balm.

But! You have to power through, speak with excitement - much more than the event requires - and just drag people up to the stage area to get free stuff. After the show people came up to the stage to get their free lip balm, because I was handing out this year’s flavor three hours in advance of the scheduled disbursement. I knelt at the edge of the stage and passed it out into the open hands, feeling as if this was some secular communion.

So the first one went well. All clockwork, including the hellish search for a parking space. It was not, in fact, hellish; the park-and-ride lot had about ten spaces left when I showed up. Waited a long time for the bus, wishing it was warmer. Cloudy. Cool. Inauspicious start. Packed bus, slow trip up the special busway that connects the U to the Fairgrounds. It’s like a wormhole.

Annnd we're here, again.

What did I feel when I entered the Fairgrounds? There are many emotions that play from year to year, and the one that characterized the last few years was bittersweet and solitary. Here we are again. Again. Everything is winding down, but the Fair goes on forever, Brigadoon, palace of memories, etc etc. Sometimes it just hits me with great joy, and all the Fairs of years past flood in. Why - why I remember that year when I got the Fresh French Fries, the small cup, and went in back down the alley and sat on a bench and ate them! They were good! Then I went and did a show.

Profound, meaningful memories like that.

I remember 1984, because the girlfriend who’d dumped me (I know the usual locution would be “my girlfriend dumped me” but the second you’re dumped, the whole “my” part is off the table) a few weeks before just showed up at my apartment, and wanted to know if I wanted to get back together. Oh, twist my arm. In a fit of youthful glee we decided to go to the Fair, the last day, and it was bright merry fun.

I think it lasted two months after that. The hard thing to realize when you’re in your 20s is that you break up for good reasons, whether you know it or not. But I do recall it from time to time, inasmuch as you remember all the people with whom you went. Friends long gone, friends still here, and of course your child, from stroller stage to older. I was very young on my first trip down from Fargo, but I remember the statue of Fairchild, clad in his mid-century modern-colored vest, holding out his cane. Before I left Minneapolis for DC, thinking the relocation would forever, I had my picture taken on the same spot where my tiny self had stood before, where I’m sure a million people have stood for the exact same reason.

Anyway, current mood? Perfectly content. It’s like I was just there. It’s like the intervening year never happened. If I don’t make it all the way down the north side past Machinery Hill this year, no big deal; I was just there.

Four years ago, yes, but I was just there.

More tomorrow, with the obligatory photos of the unchanging Fair, which changes. True: the fantastic "World's Greatest French Fries" sign, revolving for many a year . . . has been replaced by an oval sign that touts some Caribbean food. Eh.

. . . has been replaced by an oval sign that touts some Caribbean food.

The old sign was neon. The new one, like all the others, is backlit.


Eddie’s here to tell you how much he loves working for Sono Art.

"Talking Pictures enable a star to build up to his best performance and then give that best to the world."

I'm not sure how, Eddie, but glad to have you aboard.




I’m sorry, but . . .

Didn't everyone know how this turned out? It was a famous radio play. If you hadn't heard it, a loudmouthed friend would have told you all about it. There's this sick woman who overhears a call about a murder, and it turns out her husband's behind it! Can you believe it?

And isn’t everyone wondering why Agnes Moorhead isn’t in it?

I suppose that makes it a bit more relatable, since Moorhead played the most annoying, unlikeable, screechy, nervous women. They were often right, but you just wanted something to happen to them so they’d be quiet, already.

The only question: how they they carry this out over an hour and a half?

By adding backstory. Lots of backstory.

For example: the original did not have the husband’s former girlfriend trailing him to a deserted matte shot to investigate his peculiar behavior.

The first third of the movie spends a lot of time on the phone, but that’s not going to work for the whole film. The flashbacks get longer, and we start to see things the heroine can’t possibly see, although the conceit - people on the phone telling her stories - keeps a tenuous line to the original concept. So it explains why the husband’s trying to have his invalid wife killed.

Turns out he’s in deep with some crooks, and look who’s the boss:

I swear this actor shows up in my media consumption at least once a day.

Look who else shows up.

BTW: the heroine is the heiress to a drug store chain, where her husband works. They came up with a logo and everything!

It's interesting, but it doesn't have the frantic snap of the original, and nothing beats Agnes Moorehead for this type of character. You're actually not that said when Agnes gets it in the neck, as they say. If you were her husband, having to listen to that, you might do the same.




That'll do! See you around.




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