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Went to a wedding Sunday afternoon here. It was once the home of a dry-goods retailer; he paid $16,000 for the house, which would the cost of the front door today. Apparently it’s made of “old growth oak,” as one fellow informed me, and no doubt was hand-rubbed with a mixture of ambergris, veal tears and unicorn semen every day to maintain its finish. Due to rain, the wedding was held indoors on the staircase, which was suitably grand; it had a landing after three steps, which indicated the original owner was quite fat. There’s a piano on the landing now. Perhaps there always was. Perhaps the owner went up three steps then banged out “Nearer My God To Thee,” which would be accurate given the beliefs of the day. Anyway, it was very nice. Some details:


The man who owned the house was named Schuleman; there’s a picture of his store in the basement, which was remodeled to accomodate the home's new life as an up-market party house. The store was demolished in 1964 as part of the national “Tear All That Old Crap Down" program, or TATOC-D, as it was known in Washington. I think they increased the grant to cities if they also burned all photographs of the structure. (They weren’t successful – the Minnesota Historical Society has a few.)

Rainy weekend, start to finish, which meant there was no excuse for addressing long-delayed indoor household chores. We attacked Gnat’s Closet, which would normally be used for brooms and mops, but since it’s in the family room it has somehow accumulated 05% of the products of Chinese factories (insert obligatory lead-poisoning reference here) (isn’t it interesting how it took about a week to make “Chinese merchandise” a synonym for something cheap and deadly?) The other day I had to force the door to close it, and that was that. Everything went out. Toy Triage Time. She agreed to part with one or two ounces of toys, but when pressed she agreed that the My Little Pony hairbrush could probably go, since A) it doesn’t work, never worked, none of them work, you can’t drag that damn thing through a pony mane if you soaked both in silicon, and B) she has 27 others. Some of the items hit me right in the sentimental ventricles, though. I remembered them from long, long ago. Just looking at an item conjured up private jokes long forgotten – like the thick joke glasses, for example. They’re supposed to give you that bookwormy Poindexter appearance. They appeared during Halloween, perhaps. Whatever: they coincided with a Suess book that had a picture of such specs, and called the, with typical Suessian nonsense, “goo goo goggles.” And so they ever were. But they were put in the bin, and the bin became the grave of Toddler Toys, and the slumbered forgotten under the shelf in the closet. Along with so many other things. But! I was pleased to note how many she remembered, and how stories still clung to some. We couldn’t throw out the Christmas Top. Remember? She said, and I did: we had contests to see who could make it spin the longest.

Oh, these! she said, and she pulled out a set of plastic interlocking tracks. You could fit the tracks together anyway you liked; a plane rode the groove, around and around. They sold them at a kiosk at the mall for four, five dollars. I remembered, all right: the plane didn’t work, so I took them back to the kiosk. The owner pointed out the NO RETURNS sign. I pointed out the DISAPPOINTED CHILD right next to me. He exchanged them.

We didn’t throw them away.

Made good progress, though. Everything went into bins, and the bins were labeled. I wrote the genre on a sticker and put it on the bin. Gnat amused herself by writing ART on a sticker and slapping it on my rear. Ha ha!  If I’d been thinking I would have removed it, but no: I wore it all day. To Best Buy. To Home Depot. To Office Max.  To McDonald’s. To the Bottle Shop. To the Grocery Store.

Oh the hilarity. Incidentally, the trips were productive: a USB hub at Best Buy. Because the last one caught on fire. Well, it stunk and got melty, which is bad enough. I think I attached the wrong power supply. Home Depot: light bulbs and batteries. Lots of batteries. I had reached the end of the last big bulk buy, and you know what Hank Hill said about Megelo-Mart: you can get a lot of batteries for eight dollars. Office Max: crappy printer. I saw a Lexmark wireless for $70, and thought: well. That will fill wife and child’s needs for a while. I know it’s crap, but its duties will be light, and once they have their own printer on the network I won’t have to suffer the complaints when my printer doesn’t work. So I bought it. With extra ink. The ink was half the price of the printer. This is like buying a $500 car that takes nine-dollar-a-gallon gas. McDonald’s: because sometimes you want a hamburger, fast. The manager was at the register, and he greeted everyone with HOW YOU DOIN’ gusto that belied his lack of a smile. I said I was fine and how you doin’. GOOD GOOD GOOD GOOD, he said. No smile.

It was a decent enough “hamburger,” by McDonald’s standards, and on the way out I shot the manager a thumbs-up. “Tasty,” I said. GOOD GOOD GOOD, he said. I wondered if I was perhaps the first adult in the history of McDonald’s to compliment them on the way out. It’s possible.

The Bottle Shop. They had a sale on wine. They usually do. The Reyka Vodka display was gone. A few weeks ago I stood there and punched the button to watch every commercial. Ever wondered what would happen if you put Bjork on heavy tranquilizers and made her appear in an a-ha video? Here you go.

The Grocery Store. I stocked up on staples, which included the weekly double-scround of No Sugar Added Yet Curiously Arse-Widening Nonetheless ice cream, and other items. I chose poorly for my line. Well, I couldn’t have known, but: the woman insisted that the shampoo was on sale. So they called for a stockboy. He disappeared into the aisles and was gone for a very long time. When he returned he said the words you do not want to hear when your ice cream is attaining the palpable state: “where was this again?” She went to help him. They returned a few days later, weary and covered with insect bites, half their bearers dead or fled, and it turned out that the shampoo was not on sale. Ten minutes had been spent on this. I asked the clerk what the difference was between the sale price and the actual price. He had no idea what I was talking about. The minute he handed the woman her receipt she was erased from his memory.

Then home and a nap. In the eveningtime I worked on many things which will be rolled out in the next two weeks. Also watched many movies, pausing every half hour or so to wander over to and root out spam. Over 500 messages this weekend. May a dragon chew his buttocks. The Noir movie will be discussed tomorrow – it was really, really good. Finished “Outbreak,” which was exactly as I suspected: the appearance of Donald Sutherland in a military uniform = evil. It was all about the military’s attempt to keep a secret biological weapons program intact, despite the treaties signed about such things. Morgan Freeman in uniform = good, though. Interesting fact: pilots can be turned away from their mission if you raise them on a National Guard channel and make an impassioned plea. Additional bonus: according to Sutherland’s Evil Military Character, FDR knew about Pearl Harbor and Truman dropped the bomb to impress the Russians. These are stated as facts any clear-eyed person knows; you're a simpleton if you think otherwise. I'm still waiting for the movie in which an amoral death-loving jackbooted Jingo Starr dryly notes that we went into the Balkans in the 90s only to push back the Russians so we could sell arms to de-Sovietized states. Think you'll see that soon? I mean, can you imagine a movie where a military officer barks "Clinton didn't give a damn about genocide. It was all about (fill in the conspiracy issue of the day)." No. The producer might find himself at a fundraiser with the former President, after all. But FDR, Truman? Say what you want. No one knows who they are anyway.

It’s a staple of so many modern movies: the entire military apparatus is morally corrupt, but a few rogue idealists can change things by overacting. glowering intently in close-ups, or barking orders into microphones they have just commandeered from their superior on the grounds that his character is unsympathetic and smiles at the wrong time. Krep. Large overflowing vat of krep. Don't get me started on the instant-cure angle, either. Eureka! Ratso Rizzo and Rene Russo save the world!

tivo button > delete > are you sure > yes oh yes

Also watched “Hot Fuzz,” which was a disappointment of such immense dimensions I wonder if I’m just missing everything. Everyone else seemed to think it was the brilliantest thing evar, and I sat there with a laughless face for 96% of the film. Obligatory note: I loved “Shaun of the Dead.” Loved it. I’ve seen it six times. But this just wasn’t funny. It had its moments, but it seemed to confuse spoofing a genre via inhabitation of the genre’s conventions with out-and-out Xeroxing of the genre’s specific gestures and lines. It also suffered from plausibility problems: I can believe that England has been overrun with a zombie plague. But believing that most of the people in a small town turn into Scarfaces to defend a “Best Village” award by shooing the cops? Er – no.

New matchbook. The end of summer gas stations - next week we go to daily matchbooks. Off to – see you there!