That's a suburban parking lot, Thursday afternoon. The predicted temperature next Wednesday: 76 degrees.

So, you ask, how's the six-piece week going? Four in the can, two to do, and a preposterous amount of things to do on Friday that mitigates against success on a number of fronts. Last night I sat down with two competing ideas: How I'm increasingly uncomfortable with the pace of growth in AI - which is A) hard to do without seeming like a fuddy-luddite, and B) not exactly ripe with humorous possibilities, except for lame Skynet jokes. The second idea had to do with Target losing its #1 spot in the local grocery market. Then it hit me: combine them! Show the advances in AI by pretending to ask ChatGPT from two months ago to write a humorous column about Target sinking to #2, then write how the new sophisticated model would write a humorous column on the same subject.

I was proud of that, so that might explain something that happened today. I got in the elevator at work, and there was a fellow coming down from Above. There are many companies upstairs, from reinsurance agents to wealth management to transport logistics. Before I could ask where he worked - I usually do, because it's rare to meet someone in the elevator in the first place, and people seem eager for conversation in this depopulated world - he asked if I worked at the StarTribune. I said that I did, and he introduced himself: "I'm the new publisher."

Well. Well. Whereupon I said, with a sense of horror, as if I was observing myself from a distance:

"Ah! Of course, welcome! And I'm the most beloved and important columnist in the newspaper."

Good thing he laughed. We had a chat and did a walk-and-talk to his destination, and I was glad to make his acquaintance. It might have been a ridiculous thing to say, but at least I demonstrated that I was the sort of fellow who was in the office.

Automatically puts me ahead of 98% of the rest of the shop, that.

I saw this ad on Reddit, and had to laugh.

This is a throwback to the ancient luggables, except it's just the head with the thorax removed. Or it's like the miserable portables reporters had in the early 90s, with a tiny screen that showed four lines of green type.

It's five hundred bucks. Half a grand to make sure you concentrate and don't wander off to check, well, Reddit.

But wait. There's more. For a thousand dollars you can have . . . the Hemingway Signature Edition.

I love retrofuturism. I'm simultaneously amused and obscenely desirous of a manual switch that toggles between folders. (The other one is for wifi, with three positions - off, on, new.) But the design is almost a parody of retrofuturism. This is like reviving tailfins on cars, except they're nine feet tall. So much real estate devoted to switches, neither of which you'd use much. Distraction free? I would always be looking at those switches, wishing I had a reason to use them.

The screen should take its cue from the typewriter and be equal in width to the keys.

It gets worse the more I look at it. A thousand dollars. The reviews, of course, are glowing. And I'm glad. People found it and they love it. No need to point and hoot, unless they're being pretentious cork-sniffers about it.

Today concludes the underwhelming and overworked series of Bleats for the week. I appreciate your patience. I have, alas, taken on a project which makes next week almost as duty-laden. The good news is you'll see the fruits of my labors, the Total Fruitage, in early May, and it is absolutely like nothing I've ever put up here before.

And now, our new Friday feature. Extracts from the Dream Diary . . . illustrated by Artificial Intelligence.

I was in a movie theater, although it was like a job. Everyone sat in the theater doing his job. The guy next to me announced that he had to go into the military for a while, and left; my responsibility was letting the black sheep out.

They poured out of the building, went towards a fence, smashed right through it, and scattered.

I spent some time rounding them in the skyways, and had trouble with the smallest one - it was bitey, and held on to my sweater sleeve. Eventually got them all back, then went to my seat. The guy who had to go into the military was back, but a lot of time had elapsed. I nodded hello, and welcomed him, considered thanking him for his service, and considered telling him I’d had to round up sheep, but thought he’d probably had a more difficult job.

(Note: since I began this feature, AI capabilities have advanced abou 100X. I have exhausted my free credits, and will be signing up to take advantage of the new improvements. To be honest, I think the older stuff works better for this feature. It's just off, in way dreams feel off.)





Remember when this was a pit? Just a concrete thumb rising from a hole?

Four different decades on display here.


In a local subreddit the intrepid excerpter u/lasocs posted a piece about new buildings in Minneapols in the late 20s, and this picture gave me a pang:

The great Minnesota Theater, the one landmark I'd save if I only could save one.


The bones of the lobby area and office space of the Minnesota theater are still there, but forgotten and unmourned.

Seems unnecessary:

Unless they didn't want him to catch a cold; there was a draft about

Solution is here.

Bonus fun! This year's old newspaper feature: a social no-no single-panel illustration. Can you figure out what's wrong?

The answer will be yours on Monday. For now, speculate away.

Now two ways to chip in!

That will do! Hope you enjoyed your visits this week and found them a useful application of your time. See you here next week for more of the same - except all different.




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