Storm cloud approach Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin on June 22, 2024

June 22, 2024: Storm clouds approach Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. Woodman’s Market is visible at left.

Another Week: Number 78

by | June 23, 2024

Laying low, keeping my head down, staying inconspicuous — these were the main themes for the past few days.

This was the week of the brutal June heat wave across the United States, and it did get hot and sticky here — but I’m a mile and a quarter from Lake Michigan, which has a cooling effect when the wind is right, and my colonial-style house has excellent cross-ventilation. I can open my four living room windows and pull the blinds halfway down, and it’s just like sitting on a screened-in porch.

So far, I have not run the central air conditioning this year. Amy’s hot flashes previously made it mandatory, but now on my own, I like to feel the steaminess and hear the back-up beeps of the construction equipment lumbering in the dust at the Mitchell School across the way. On Tuesday, reading in a lounge chair in my shady corner of the backyard, there was a wonderful lake breeze and the wail of a dozen sirens as Donald Trump arrived in town for his rally on our lakefront.

On Thursday morning at 1:15, I was awakened by the sound of someone banging on my pipes — except it wasn’t anyone banging on my pipes. It was a sound I had heard a couple of Januarys ago: Gunshots on my block. Evidently, this latest event was a drive-by shooting at a nearby house, but no one was hurt.

On the bright side, gun violence in Racine is down 40%, and we are murder-free so far this year.

Saturday evening, the threat was tornados. I was at my mom’s apartment in Pleasant Prairie when a line of powerful storms swept across southeastern Wisconsin, spawning several tornados in nearby communities. The Dave Matthews concert at Alpine Valley was called off, Ludacris was pulled from the stage at the Tacos and Tequila Festival in Franklin, and WISN 12 News went into full Weather Watch for two hours, with the outstanding Lindsey Slater at the helm, coordinating weather bulletins, remote cameras, and newsroom staff.

Mom and I sat briefly in her central hallway as tornado sirens blared outside and a nasty storm blew through.

I went for zero walks this week.


Call Northside 777 (1948)

I have been using the cloud DVR feature of my mom’s DirecTV service to build a small library of TCM films for our movie nights.

Thursday, we watched Call Northside 777, a noirish detective story starring Jimmy Stewart. I dimly remember seeing it years ago at the insistence of a friend who was giddy over its Chicago scenery. Filmed on location in a semi-documentary style, it does feature some great shots of the city.

The plot — based on a true story — has Chicago Times reporter Stewart drawn into the case of a possibly wrongly convicted cop killer. It’s predictable and slightly stiff, but the guy’s mom is an adorable old Polish cleaning woman who has saved up $5,000 as a reward for getting his conviction overturned.

In the end, his freedom hinges on technology: photographic enlargement, as later used in a 1971 episode of The Brady Bunch called “Click!”

Mom enjoyed the movie quite a bit.


Black Narcissus (1947)

Saturday night’s movie was something from a list I browsed recently — Black Narcissus. We streamed it via Max.

Years ago in Hawaii, Amy and I took Dramamine ahead of a whale-watching excursion. The outing itself went fine — but afterward, we passed out for a bit, then spent the evening in a sort of aching grogginess trying to put our mental pieces back together, like characters in an episode of Mannix.

This movie had a similar feeling. Deborah Kerr is a nun in India who is assigned to establish a school and hospital at a broken down palace high up on a Himalayan mountain that’s been left in the care of some semi-batty old crone. The palace’s bell is inches from the edge of a cliff.

Kerr brings a crew of nuns with her. Whenever they need a handyman, David Farrar is hanging around in shorts that are way too short. This causes certain nuns to have flashbacks about boyfriends in their former lives, and there’s a clear suggestion that the nuns are suffering mentally from repressed desires.

The constant wind also makes people crazy – including one of the nuns, Kathleen Byron.

Sabu, John Prine’s “elephant boy,” is in this too — as the “young general” who gets mixed up with Jean Simmons, in brownface, playing a local temptress.

This movie is nuts and watching it hurts your brain.



Please add your thoughts: