Sorry. But I think you'd figured that out, right?

I auditioned for a play on Saturday. It’s a Klingon version of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Signed up a month ago, not realizing a scheduling conflict would make it impossible to do the play - if I were selected, big if - but decided to go anyway for the experience, and make the next audition easier.

Drove to St. Paul, and caught some sights on the way. There's a lot of old and untouched stuff in our Twin.

It’s still odd, after all these years, to have an entire other downtown a few miles away. It’s felt moribund for years. The presence of a few big employers and the State Capitol keep it going.

On the outskirts is an old Sears, closed for a while, and it’s a fine piece of suburban midcentury modernism plunked down in a city, with the usual vast wasteland of a parking lot. It has its merits.

Really! There’s a clean optimism to that style, utilitarian as it may seem.

But one might prefer the Basilica, standing on a hill to square off against the dome of the state Capitol, the two old forces eternally in dispute and concordance, depending on the issue.


The theater was an old movie house that had been closed for 40 years before its renovation in the early Oughts. The block has seen some hard times.

I’m going to write a column about the experience, so I won’t bore you here when I can tread on your patience in the paper. But two things:

1. I asked a guy who was leaving what they expected, since I hadn’t seen anything about the actual requirements. He said oh, they just want your monologue.

My monologue.

Hmm. Well. I had ten minutes, so I thought up a three-minute monologue on my life as a Star Trek fan, culminating in spoiling the last Star Trek movie for William Shatner, and delivered it with brio, or so I thought.

2 I had to do a cold read of some dialogue. The play is mostly Klingon but there’s an English section at the end; the George Bailey character has to explain Christmas to humans (I know, I know) and only knows English phonetically so he speaks a bunch of nonsense phrases.

  The line at the top of the page said to start with Jimmy-Stewartness then build up to strength, and when I gave it a fast scan nothing made any sense except the last two lines. Now those lines I knew.

It was fun. I’ll try again for a small part somewhere. Daughter suggested this, by the way, during a low point a few weeks ago - something I could do that presented a new challenge. Rather than sit with it and let it slide away I signed up for a play immediately and sent her a screen grab of my reservation, and she was delighted. She even brought it up in a text yesterday.

When I told her today I did a tight three minutes on my life as a Star Trek fan she texted “So . . . you auditioned by being yourself” and yes, I guess so.


Oh come on. What's the point of going to Paris if you can't impress strangers.







It’s a noir that turns into a fishing movie. Basic studio product. Even the name says “Gird for cliches.”

And yes, it starts as noir as they get:

Hard case.

She changes her look.

Bang! Richard Conte rubs out a rival! He has to run through the foggy, wet streets of FRISCO, as the natives call it. (Kidding.) It’s the old San Francisco, rough and briny, utterly unique. For interesting reasons.

His attempt to escape is foiled, so he heads through a restaurant. Time for some inadvertent documentary:

You can see the place here, and even go inside.

It’s listed as “permanently closed” now, a victim of . . . what? The pandemic? Changing tastes? Money problems?

Anyway, the movie is a reminder that big studios put out movies that couldn’t quite climb up from their rote origins. It’s based on a novel, and the novelist wrote the screenplay. Will the gangster find redemption on a fishing vessel? Will he corrupt or save the captain’s angry son? Will Shelley Winters stop looking as if she just cut into an onion?

It’s by no means bad, though, and a good lesson in the difference between an ordinary movie now, and and an ordinary movie then. It’s never less than competent, because the director -

- a solid second-feature man - knew what to get and how to get it. Never had a big hit, although he did two films with John Wayne.

As I said, basic studio product. But I don’t regret a minute I spent with it.

Now two ways to chip in!

That'll do: off on another week of stuff, and I hope you enjoy it.




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