Friday, December 31, 2021

Emily and the glamorfizication of Paris


There has been a fair bit of "Emily in Paris" watching over these holidays in my house. It seems better than braving the ice strewn and bitter sidewalks of Saint Minneapolis in order to experience "real life". And we don't want to travel somewhere nice for fear of catching the disease thing that's been going around this season, 

and the last one, 

and the one before that, 

and one more before that,

and during the entire previous year to that.

So there's Paris on the screen. And it looks super nice.

We were in Paris not that many years ago and also thought it looked very nice in person. 

But on the screen something seemed different.

It seemed like there were fewer cars.

"Aha!" I cried out. "I have caught "Emily in Paris"! They are making Paris look better by having no cars on the streets!"

This seemed very important at the time. I was going to exhaustively prove here in my award winning blog that cities without cars are better, a thing that no one I know disagrees with, but, I RUN IN A SELECT CROWD!

So I immediately, well, not immediately, but after watching several more episodes and sleeping for nine hours, I immediately started gathering material for my thesis. I tracked down "Emily in Paris" locations and inspected how they really are in the photos of Google Street View.



They are more or less the same as in the show.


Maybe that's why Paris seemed pretty great in person.

I rest my case.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Snow, libraries, and the fall of America


It snowed all afternoon at the library. And as I worked my way through my last day in a library whose closing hours were a respectable nine o'clock, before they became a less friendly to the public eight o'clock, it was actually... pretty empty.

But you know what? There is nothing wrong with a mostly empty library. Worry about the shuttered libraries instead, eh?

I am increasingly of the belief that the height of any Civilization is best measured in its open hours. This is why I run a 24 blog. I fight the darkness.

But where were we?

It was quiet at my library due to snow, a growing hatred of knowledge, and the fall of civilization.

So I made these pictures to express the range of my feelings.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

More video game art


Today I have a few pictures I've been working on, mostly using screenshot captures from a video game I'm enjoying called "Guardians of the Galaxy". These strange backgrounds are from a section of the game on a stormy alien planet that I find captivating in its design. I have layered an assortment of my usual elements into it, including other video game images, some Chris Van Allsberg drawings, famous cartoon characters, and even bits from my library.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Back again and again

After four days off I came back to work again at the library. I also had to write a blogpost.

But nothing had changed here. I mean, the date was different, but everything else was just




And I have already covered everything in this space. Everything. Twice.  I even wrote about this very problem before of having covered everything, a couple of times!

But then, in a moment of clarity, I thought:

But I've never done it three times!

Do I dare?

No. Better not.

I may get it right, and then where will I be?

Monday, December 27, 2021

My sort of joke


Once, many many years ago, there was a fad among fast food restaurants to put historical, sometimes military or industrial items in their front yards as a kind of attraction/plaything; an old howitzer or maybe even a train caboose that kids could inspect or climb on. Sometimes these unlikely things would be decorated with the characters or dishes of the food chain. For a variety of reasons this fad quickly died out to be replaced by drive-throughs, more traditional playgrounds, parking, and toy giveaways.

But after many decades these lost relics of relics, so to speak, became collectors' items, one of a kind pieces of sought after Americana.

I became a dealer in these unconventional antiques. And my secret weapon in tracking down these valuable hunks of metal, besides my contacts and scholarship, was my once assistant, and now partner, Joe. For some mysterious reason, whenever Joe was near one of these special old objects one could hear the faint sound of a very famous piece of classical music. Was it magic or did he simply have great instincts and top notch humming skills?

I didn't know, but his skill was too valuable to share around looking for that answer. 

I had had a hot tip regarding a large, half abandoned rural junkyard a few hours from Milwaukee. A couple of small bribes, a fee, and one legit permit had set me and Joe free to explore anywhere on the site, and to take anything we could winch onto our flatbed truck.

Unfortunately things were not going well. Amid the vast machinery, garbage, and hundreds of junked cars we wandered fruitlessly for so long that we were thinking of giving it up. The sun was starting to set and a light snow was falling. But as we came to the end of something that could almost be described as a row, I thought I heard the sound of a cello.

I looked at Joe. He shrugged, but as he did so his eyes lit upon something in the heap of recycling and widened. I looked and saw it too!

The low plucking of instruments started softly from out of nowhere. I scrabbled in the garbage, my heart pounding in my chest. Joe helped. I could swear the ever so faint music rose joyously as we brushed off the grime and pulled away rusted sheet metal. The music, faster and faster, was now clear as I revealed the shaft of a great, old 18th century sailing ship's gun, gleaming even in the dull light, and, emblazoned on its side, there was an unmistakable, enameled burrito. As the music sounded in racing exultation Joe looked at me with an amazed question in his eyes.

I spoke, almost incredulous. "Yes." I rasped out in awe. "This is Taco Bell's cannon indeed!"

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Lost and found

It's late and I'm peacefully on the phones at my library waiting for my four day weekend to begin.

But suddenly there is work to be done! The phone rings! 

Being of conscientious library spirit I answer.

A man has lost his gloves in the library.

"I lost my gloves." The man says. "Can you see if you can find them?"

I am not filled with joy at this task, but okay, if there's some information to go on I'll give it a shot.

There is. There is information to go on!

The man was at computer 51 or 52 and thinks his gloves are there. Can I just put them aside for him. He'll be back tomorrow.

I tell him to hold the line while I go check. Computers 51 and 52 are about two miles and a large staircase away from where I am, so I swear and lay the handset down roughly, but really, the exercise will only do me good.

There are no gloves at computer 51. 

There are no gloves at computer 52. 

There are no gloves anywhere at any computer from 30 to 60. There are no gloves on the ground on the way out from there or anywhere in the vicinity. And there are no gloves turned in at any of our desks or in our lost and found. 

There are no gloves anywhere.

I go report the bad news. 

It is not taken well.

I tell him to check in again tomorrow if they haven't shown up. Often items lost in the library take awhile to surface and aren't where one thinks they might have been.

He doesn't like this theory that much.

"Someone stole my gloves." He says darkly.

Sometimes this leads to an insistent fantasy about reviewing our security footage. It is always better to head this one off if one can. So I say a vastly gentler version of the following:

"Look, no one stole your crappy, worn out, disgusting old gloves! No one will ever steal your gloves. They will steal your soul, your dignity, and your rights. People are surely stealing your labor, every penny out of every dollar they can, and they are stealing hours, days, and years of your life for almost nothing. They have stolen your heart, your birthright, and most of what you deserved from birth! Everyday rich people, bureaucrats, and comfortable cowards steal from you, casually and without even knowing you. You live in a terrible world full of thieves!

But the one thing no one will steal from you is your stinky old, mangy, miserable, and worn out gloves!" 

After a little pause he says "I guess they were kind of wearing thin."

I let out a breath. "Check back with us tomorrow."

"Okay." He says heavily.

I still think he's going to find him in his backpack, but there are some suggestions that are better left unsaid.


Saturday, December 25, 2021

Christmas picture


Hmm. Christmas.

Nope. I got nothing. 

You're probably not even reading this on Christmas because on Christmas Day you are too busy opening presents.

"Oh, another present for me." You might exclaim. "But my fingers are so exhausted from unwrapping so many already!"

Or so I imagine.

We don't celebrate Christmas in my house. We celebrate a Middle Eastern holiday called "Hanukkah" (spelling varies).

Except we don't celebrate Hanukkah. So to put it more simply: Hanukkah is the seasonal holiday we don't celebrate in our house, not Christmas. 

So we're missing out on way less than, say, a person not celebrating Christmas. So there's that.

Come to think of it we don't really celebrate any regular holidays at all. We don't need to celebrate holidays. We get high on life!

Though I may also have a stiff drink tonight.

Friday, December 24, 2021



Lately I have been seeing dinosaurs.

Have other people been seeing dinosaurs?

No. No they haven't. It's often just me seeing the dinosaurs.

But this is exactly the sort of thing life has trained me to get used to. This is just one of many, many, many reasons why I like to stay home with my wife so much. She sees dinosaurs (metaphorically).

But when I do go out and about, rambling the city because I'm a ramblin' man, toiling away in the library factory, buying goods and services, talking to people, it is better to just let the whole dinosaur thing go.

 I have learned, alas, that there is no profit in trying to make others see the dinosaurs.

Unfortunately I am completely incapable of not trying anyway.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Reducing library hours


For the first time in my long career working in one pretty good American library, we are reducing our hours, just a little bit, closing at eight in the evening instead of at nine in the evening beginning in January. Why we are doing this is perhaps too complicated to answer to here because evil is always really hard to explain. Evil also can be really puny and boring, right up until it is suddenly... horrifying. 

We're just at the boring part here, which fairly speaking should maybe have a different word other than the supercharged "evil", maybe like "uvil", or... maybe not. But I did decide to make my little attempt to rail against this dark tide. I wrote the elected officials in charge of approving this reduction in library services.

I said:

Please don't be uvil and reduce the library hours.

One of these officials wrote back (though most didn't) and said (roughly):

I am not uvil! How dare you call me uvil. I have always done good. We are not reducing library hours! We are simply changing library hours to better serve the community, mostly for procedural reasons.

 You should be thankful it's not worse because we thought about that too.

I naturally had a long, complex, angry response to this.

But I wrote this instead:

Commissioner Xxxxxx,

Thank you so much for your response to my email.

Did you see that charming romantic comedy movie a couple years ago called "Long Shot"? The Seth Rogan character's small, muckraking newspaper gets bought out by a right-wing billionaire's media conglomerate, Seth Rogan quits in protest, and by oddest chance that night runs into the billionaire at a charity event.

Seth is at first polite, but then, impulsively, issues about three sentences of sharp, possibly rude criticism, before the billionaire dismisses him with an "Enough." and security steps in.

Seth Rogan says "I've already had more time with you than I thought I would have had."

Then he falls down a staircase.

It's a great movie. Charlize Theron is also excellent in it.

You can actually get a copy of it for free at a R...... County Library.

But, starting in January, not after eight o'clock.

Thank you for your time (it's more than I thought I would have had).


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Six Stories


Working with my diverse sources of imagery I have been putting together pictures over the past few days. The funny thing is that I work on these for hours and hours and hours, and when I come here to present all my work it can be a little surprising that in all that time it turns out that I have only produced a total of six pictures.

Beyond time and style and tools, there isn't a lot to link up all these pictures. One of the greatest Children's book illustrators and writers, Chris Van Allsburg, whose work I have stolen a bit of in the past and surely will steal more of in the future, wrote a book called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick that has a series of compelling, somewhat inscrutable illustrations, and mostly leaves the reader to come up with their own stories to them. So, because that seems fairly easy, and a useful solution to my problem, that's what I'll do today myself, though obviously not as well.

Nevertheless here are my six pictures and whatever inscrutable caption I can now come up with for each one. 

Write your own story as you please.

Only by continuing to canoe could they keep the pond from freezing.

Late that day he would save his life, and then have his life saved.

The old car looked just as it was even though it was exactly 75 years later.

Whatever was down there was very, very large indeed.

Even the mice in the snowy fields suddenly stood on their hind legs and danced.

They never thought they'd make it there, and they felt a triumph in it just before the danger of the situation sank in.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Current projects


One might think that after a 372 part photo essay of the navigation of Pike Island, followed by a, frankly, harrowing trip to the local zoo, clerkmanifesto would be exhausted. One might think we'd only have a trickle of energy for the daily essay and might be reduced to telling jokes that we heard recently and found brief and amusing.


A Priest, a Monk, and a Rabbit walk into a blood bank. The Rabbit says "I think I'm a Type-O."

But no, no jokes today. I'm onto the next thing. I recently realized that I have a few sandboxy computer games, more like visually interesting, open ended software toys, that I could maybe work into my photography pursuits. I'm just scratching the surface of these as yet, and who knows how deep they might go. I can only show you where I am now.

Here are the first few in this oeuvre:

Monday, December 20, 2021

The other zoo


Here then, from my evil trip to the zoo, in Como Park, are my pictures. 

It was cold. The Winter animals were doing the best. My camera fogged over, and my glasses above my mask. It was hard to get my camera to work like I wanted sometimes in the temperature changes, through glass and fence, and in dim places.

That's all, except to note that the thing that looks like carrion is a reindeer's antlers, and that's normal.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

The Zoo


I went to the zoo. 

Something tells me it's all happening at the zoo. I do believe it. I do believe it's true.


So I'm no better than the animals sitting in the cages in the zoo man.

Yeah, that.

I go to the zoo whenever I can't help it anymore. And seven more sins are chalked up on my soul. 

Maybe I'm paying as I go. I hope so.

I took 500 pictures at the zoo, there among the four year olds, the fences and trenches and walls, the pretty little fake environments, the working zoo people, the pandemic, and the cold. Maybe the pictures didn't turn out so well so I'll have to go back. Maybe it was the price I paid. Maybe it was all the fences and fences and fences.

Fortunately one picture summed it all up. I'll show you the rest tomorrow. Today it's just one,

The Zoo

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Pike Island: The End

And then just like that it was over.

597 blog posts and three hours of arduous wilderness strolling on Pike Island, and our epic journey was finally at an end. 

We had visited Pike Island and lived to tell the tale. 

I crossed the Pike Island Bridge, back to the Fort Snelling mainland, and like all great wilderness explorers, Lewis and Clark, Anne Bancroft, Pocahontas, and Farley Mowat, I was thinking that a cocktail would be nice.  

What a journey. I was full of feelings.

I looked back to the bridge I had crossed. 

Was there one last picture?

Thanks for coming with me.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Pike Island: The Beavers


Finally our 38 part account of our three hour trip to Pike Island is winding down. As it now stands (in our story) we are walking along the shoreline back up north to the bridge.

We have been looking at trees with some affection. 

But up on the north end of Pike Island there are others besides us who have taken an interest in the trees, a professional interest. Check this out:

And this:

That's beavers!

I didn't actually see any beavers, which took a fair bit of the fun out of it. There were just dozens of dozens of trees that had been chewed down by beavers. It was interesting, but their purpose was unclear. The only nearby body of water was the Minnesota River channel to the Mississippi. Besides not seeming particularly dammable, no effort in that direction was made. The trees simply lay where they fell.

Perhaps the beavers were just keeping in shape?