Mar 20

We go back in time

I didn’t go out to see this, because we shouldn’t be going out anywhere right now, but this is really lovely.

If you unpack that tweet as a thread, you’ll see a collection of marquees around the country. The Buskirk-Chumley’s signage is pretty terrific, and that is a wonderful quote.

Fun fact of trivia: I walked in there Thursday of last week to pick up some Will Call tickets for a show last Friday night as the show was being postponed. Sometimes you can only smile, and so that’s what I did. The woman working there at the moment didn’t know anything yet. She said they hoped to know something soon about make up dates. I said that’d be nice, and hopefully so, but I think we both knew it wouldn’t be tomorrow or the next day, like she said. I wished her well, and good luck with all of the other customers I was sure they’d hear from, and gave her a smile as I walked back outside.

That’s not being a helper in the sense that Mr. Rogers taught us about, but I’d like to be a person who doesn’t cause other problems, which is one of his less well-known quotes, I’m sure.

At the moment, their website says they plan to reopen on May 11th. Wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe the first movie in May, or whenever they get back, will be Home Alone.

If I may sum up a convoluted website I just read about the place, it was originally built as the Indiana Theater and used for vaudeville entertainment and silent movies, in the 1920s. It lived on as a movie theater until 1995, when it became a performing arts center, so a little bit of everything these days. (We were supposed to see Guster last week.) It is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Let’s fall back in time and look a little more at this place. May as well, we’re homebound anyway, right?

The time was 1917, the paper was the Bloomington Evening World, a paper that dates back to 1892, and ran under this name until 1943, when it merged with the coolest paper name in town, the Bloomington Telephone. A few mergers and name changes later, and it’s lineage is loosely still found in the modern Herald-Times, which is being almost stripped for parts today.

I’m looking at this issue for the first time as I create the screen captures, so I’ve no idea where this is going or what we’ll find … but on this day in 1917 …

The Campbell’s ad, which is so scandalously run on the front page — it isn’t a scandal, and it wasn’t a few years ago when some papers returned to that historic trend — invites you to come into their shop on the west side of the courthouse. Actually, the ad doesn’t say where it is. Everyone just knew. A man named Noble Campbell ran that concern. He was an IU graduate, sat on the library board, married well and eventually retired to Florida, where he died in the 1950s. I see on one site that he “was also connected with the motion picture business.” Whether that means he made wardrobe or just liked movies, we don’t know.

It’s fun to imagine though. I’m going with the silent, silent investor type. The guy the organized guys were afraid of.

They just put all your news in the old papers:

Another front page ad, where most assuredly people gathered for batteries and to gossip about that front page brief:

The Willard franchise was about 20 years old, but already a national concern. I’m not sure why the character is shooting his own sign there. Anyway, by the 1930s there were more than 5,000 shops under their banner. They’d eventually buy a radio station, built batteries that powered submarines and some of the sort you could hold in your hand. Things dried up in the 1950s and 1960s. A few years after this ad J.W. Farris also got into plumbing, heating and air. That was probably a booming series of career choices for a man in the 19-teens. Where it led him next, we don’t know.

Where that store was then? Condos today, just a few blocks from the theater, above.

There are four pages of the paper, and a lot of it points to the agricultural audience of the time, and some what we would today call syndicated content, or sponsored content, or “there weren’t a lot of people involved in writing this thing, perhaps.” You’ll be happy to hear there’s advice for how women can remove any corn, and a “Write Now” to receive the secret to masking gray hair. It’s not a new concern.

There’s also this, just hanging out on the bottom of the third page:

It’s just a hundred years ago, but they were still looking for people to settle land. In that time the building they wanted you to write to, the Traction-Terminal Building in Indy, came and went. It was the train station, and then a bus station. They razed it in the 1970s. Today there’s a Hilton on that spot.

At the student building on campus you could settle in for a play with a legitimate silent film star:

She was about to turn 21, so her audience looked a lot like her. She’d been in 125 movies and shorts by then, too. She acted regularly until 1930. This was one of her last films.

She got married, got divorced, different than the one above, and then the talkies came. She only appeared in three of them before moving to radio and Broadway. She worked in retail and then showed up in two television shows and one movie from 1958-1960. This was her last appearance, on The Many Loves of Doobie Gillis.

Arrivederci, Mrs. Dowell! It’s a quick part, and how it came to her is probably one of those small non-mysteries from 70 years ago we’ll never know, meaning a quick glance of the Internet didn’t have an essay or comment from a great-niece. In the late 1960s film scholars and, eventually, documentarians, rediscovered her career. She lived long enough to see all of that and died, at 90, in 1986.

The society notes tell of us a student recovering from appendicitis, a man who had lung fever, various family visits, and the return home of Howard M. Tourner, a jeweler. He had been out of town in Washington D.C., where he saw the second inauguration of Woodrow Wilson. He had a shop downtown, though it might not have been downtown back then. He played and taught the flute. He passed away in 1941.

On the front page there’s a paragraph about the signs of spring. The university’s baseball team had taken the field for practice, and boys could be seen playing marbles in the streets. On the back page there was the weather forecast: “Generally fair tonight.”

Mar 20

To the fruits ahead

My first full work-from-home day in several years, it turns out. I used to do this quite frequently at a previous stop. Once you are in the right groove, it can be quite productive.

I remember I found that the advice to keep a schedule was something that worked well for me. So I set the alarm, get home, have a breakfast snack, do the morning read of news, cringe at what I’m reading in the news, and then remember I have saved 20 minutes of commute here, plus the time ironing slacks and that sort of thing.

It is important, for some reason, to address the mop on top of my head. And it is important, for some reason, to wear some sort of shoes.

So give that a try, if this sort of thing is new for you. And remember, grace and patience. Even with yourself. Perhaps especially with yourself.

We went to the grocery store this evening, which is basically just a morbid fascination I have now. Even though we’re now ready to cut way back. Today I discovered a new thing in the produce section. This is a jack fruit. You can pick it up for $1.99, but lift with your legs and not your knees. These ran about 20 pounds each. Why, yes, I did weigh them.

Jackfruit, I’ve just learned, is a unique tropical fruit native to South India.

It has a distinctive sweet flavor and can be used to make a wide variety of dishes. It’s also very nutritious and may have several health benefits.

Just once, I want a site like this to say, “The flavor is meh. And you can only use it in one or two things anyway. If you don’t already have a natural taste for it, or if it doesn’t remind you of home, don’t worry about it.”

The description I just read, however, sounds interesting, and I’d like to try it sometime soon.

Got in the third bike ride of the year this evening. Hopefully the weather will soon warm up to the point where we stop picking our spots for rides, and I stop counting the progression.

No photos, because those don’t come until after the first few rides, when I remember how to do this properly. A little more fitness would help, too. Also, I need it to warm up for photos, since my full-length gloves discourage photos.

But it was a nice, easy, 20-miler. And as soon as I stop counting the progression of bike rides I can start counting the addition of extra miles. That’s a goal for this year. More miles, more miles.

Mar 20

There’s a pun here

There was a miniature conference in the building today. I wish more people had attended. The students who were presenting their research had some interesting topics and they’d worked quite hard on their papers. Maybe it is a function of doing this on Fridays, or the subject matter, or the weather or the publicity, but this is what they saw.

The 3D printer version of a giant sloth skeleton is a good and attentive listener, though.

The sloth will be with us for two more weeks, and then he’s going elsewhere. He’s actually already moving, he’s just doing so very, very, very slowly.

That’s the easy joke. And you’re right to take the easy sloth joke. How many sloth jokes are there? Let’s count …

I went out for a run to count sloth jokes, and over the course of four miles I came up with two. There are two sloth jokes. “Google, how many sloth jokes do you know?”

Turns out there are somewhere between nine and 16 sloth jokes, depending on how critical funny has to be to your conception of a joke. I would tell you all nine to 16 sloth jokes but that would be very time consuming.

That’s the other sloth joke I had without Google’s help.

Anyway, I hope you, like Poseidon, are ready to leap into the weekend.

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Feb 20

Ever see a two-year punchline pay off?

Unannounced. Unheralded. Barely mentioned. We’re to that point now, were you don’t even acknowledge that more of this happened today:

I don’t even think that was in the forecast. So, naturally, it snowed all afternoon and into the evening. At least it will be sunny tomorrow, and we may hit 60 degrees on Sunday.

I was thinking of that as I walked up the street to Studio 5, where this took place.

We tell students you have to do a lot of boring work to get the good stuff, sometimes, and today was one of those times when it paid out.

For two years this show has wrapped every episode with the joke “Tune in next week when Jesse Eisenberg and I …” and some silly activity. Tucker’s said that for two years. Today the punchline paid out when Eisenberg, who’s in town visiting family, declined a dozen other requests and spent a few hours with our show.

At the end of the show he did a bunch of the things the show had been promising. The production went well. That video was from my phone; the actual show will be released Sunday and it has real production value. The crew were thrilled.

It was a great moment for them, and he was so gracious with his time and input. We’re all terribly excited with how it all came together.

After work it was to the grocery store. I bought many items and nearly broke the self checkout system because of it. One needs supplies, though, and sometimes a great many supplies. A problem with the self checkout is that you must put your item in the bagging area, which is finite. And if you move things out of the bagging area, or don’t put an item immediately in the bagging area, the register is not pleased. Do that enough and you start getting warning sounds. Donk! Donk! And if you do that enough an error message appears on the screen: someone will be coming to assist you.

Not that I need the assistance.

Not that anyone is coming.

It’s a symptom of our times, I suppose. A system designed to element staff has reduced staff to such a degree that there’s no one serving in an oversight capacity.

And if you’ve ever stood in line behind a person in the self checkout area — or me, this evening, I suppose — you’d wonder how prudent that is. But, hey, Friday. Weekend ahead, groceries going in the trunk …

I had to type it three times. The first two managed to come out grocers. As if I was stuffing people in the back of my car just because of where they worked. What a way to begin a terrible short story: “He never liked florists. Or butchers. Something about the way they smiled and smelled. Cashiers and stockers, they were guilty by association, and so they’d have to go, too. Not all at once, of course. There was only only so much you can steer in a cart, just so much you could put in the trunk of the car. But if you are precise, if you are crafty, you could manage before the next bulk mail circular went out, or the store owner really noticed.”

Which, hey, for the first draft of a bad short story, might be OK. Feel free to work on it this weekend, punch it into something good.

Feb 20

We are leaving the week behind

Quite a few years ago we impulsively pulled into a Sonic. I feel silly saying that because, really, how often does one pull into Sonic as part of a plan? We’re coming back from the beach and decided we wanted blizzards. We parked, the guy’s voice came over the little speaker and we placed our order, feeling a little like we were in a different era. Maybe they’d skate our snacks out to the car. Maybe it would be just like you imagine.

We aren’t Boomers and the guy wasn’t a carhop. He shuffled slowly, painfully, aimlessly, like there was nowhere to go. Like he didn’t know which of the other empty spaces this order was supposed to go. Like he didn’t know what to say.

“We’re out of spoons. Can I interest you in a fork?”

The blizzard is an ice cream with a thick viscosity, but, no, you can’t interest me in a fork. (We went to the drive-thru at the McDonald’s next door and said they’d forgotten our spoons and they, of course, gave us two.)

That was the precise wording, though. “Can I interest you in a fork?” So polite and, yet, absurd, that we committed to memory, added it to the lexicon and turned it into a perma-punchline.

The Sonic orbited a grocery store. I just measured the distance on Google Maps. It is 618 feet away. So my near-incredulous “Walk across the parking lot, walk into that Publix and buy a box of plastic spoons,” remains on point.

Today I got to make the joke again. Because we went to Chipotle (again) and they were out of forks.

Chipotle on Kirkwood, I observed, should join forces with the Sonic on Whitemarsh Island. Between them, they could maybe they could put together a full set of plasticware.

Have you ever tried to eat rice with a plastic spoon? It can be done, but you shouldn’t try to do it if you can help it.

Also, that same out of order note has moved down the line.

Gerald, the fictional third shift leader in charge of liquid refreshments, really is the worst.

Here’s the classic Friday evening photo. See ya, work week:

There’s not much better than putting it all in the mirror, is there? And sometimes if the car is pointed in the right direction you get lucky with the sideview.

One of the few things better? Terrific pizza:

We went to Indianapolis for the night, which meant we went to nearby Carmel for a decent pie. Because, again, in a college town with 46,000 students, you can’t get a superlative slice. Mellow Mushroom should always be closer. We’d be there every week.