Hmm Weekly for November 26, 2019

We missed the whole pizza thing and we're OK with that

Hmm Weekly for November 26, 2019

Another Week, Another Hmm Weekly

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A Serial Travelogue, Part 12


OUR DENVER FRIENDS’ address was in a newish development. On the way in, we passed an air traffic control tower. It was unmistakably a control tower, and unmistakably not in anything resembling an airport. We had to guess, correctly, that Denver had built a neighborhood on top of an airport site, rather than that anyone would have gone to the trouble of building an ersatz airport tower with no airport.

I remembered, long ago, reading about the construction of the new Denver International Airport, the immense airport of the future, where a high-tech baggage-processing system sent people's luggage rocketing great distances through the facility before tearing the suitcases to shreds, before they got the kinks worked out of the whole thing. Before all that, people must have flown into Denver somehow, and this must have been where. The neighborhood, our friends would tell us, was called Stapleton, which they confirmed was named after the old Stapleton Airport, which was, they added, unfortunately named after the former mayor Benjamin Franklin Stapleton, who along with being Mayor of Denver was a prominent Klansman. Elements of the Stapleton community were working on a new name.

The streets were numbered, some of them, but the grid bent around and somewhere where the information from Google Maps was supposed to match up to the information coming into my eyes, the connection was lost. One more time we blundered past our destination and worked our way to it in reverse, and a little sideways. We found the house number and parked.

Now the experience was domestic and fixed in place, not properly a road trip. Our friend unplugged his electric car from the garage wall and we rode in that and their other car to Ethiopian restaurant, leaving the Kia behind. Our friends did most of the ordering, but my eye fell on the chopped fish on the menu, the fish dulet, which I'd never noticed on any menu before. It arrived in a whitish mound, with flecks of green peppers chopped into it, and even though it had sounded good I was a little stunned by how good it really was.

In the morning, and the next morning after that, we went to get bagels at a bagel place that advertised how it had reproduced the mineral balance of New York municipal tap water for bagel-cooking purposes. I couldn't tell if it made a difference.

The Flatirons

All we had not done, that we still felt we ought to do, was to reach the mountains. We drove out to Boulder, behind the bright green electric car, following our friend on the path of his normal commute. We parked in a lot by an open lawn at a trailhead, at the foot of the Flatirons. It was hot again, but the path up was easy and wide. Butterflies flitted over wildflowers; a sign announced that drones were forbidden. The sun was brilliant and the air was thin—so thin, in fact, that the easy stroll became an effort, and then it felt like it was becoming a prohibitive effort. We were halfwayish up, maybe better. We looked around at the peaks, the least and nearest still out of reach, and then turned back downhill. The children went running on ahead, letting gravity take over for oxygen.

We went back to the house and settled in. We ate little strawberries growing in the backyard. There was a trampoline there. I posted a photo of the children on it and somehow a friend on Instagram, an East Coast native, identified the precise former-airport neighborhood from nothing but the fence and the neighboring rooflines, as if it had been geotagged.

At dinnertime, we rode downtown as passengers with our friends. We'd left the kids home alone with their two kids, their elder slightly older than ours. We'd never done that before, with no sitter. It would be a new and different kind of adventure for everyone. We ate at a Chinese restaurant beside the downtown train station, where the station itself had been turned partway into more restaurants. We could see the platform from our outdoor table. Everything was becoming something else.

Denver International Airport

I topped off the gas tank after our last trip for the New York–water bagels, and we packed up to leave the old airport for the new. Google Maps disagreed with the airport signs about where to exit to get to the car return. I followed the signs. We were done exploring. The car return was as chaotic as O'Hare had been easy. Traffic was backed up on the roadways, and cars spilled out of the Avis lot as the drivers waited, with various degrees of schedule anxiety, to be unburdened of them. We unloaded the back of the Kia for the last time. Odometer Out: 11434, Odometer In: 13098. A total of 1,664 miles. We peeled the fluffy white Walmart towel off the younger boy's seat. The Febreze seemed, improbably, to have won the battle against the vomit smell, or possibly we were all the way past being able to tell anymore.

We rode the shuttle bus to the airport, and after security, the internal airport shuttle train to the gates. The train tunnel was dark and square-sided, like passing through a string of giant shoebox dioramas end to end. An art installation of little propellers spun and flashed on the tunnel wall. In the terminal, we had time to sit down and eat lackluster barbecue. Barbecue is a food that depends on where you are, but you can get some kind of it anywhere.


A bunch of socks

I DON’T KNOW why I hang on to socks so long. They are logically the item of clothing most susceptible to failure and wearing out because you stand on them all day, and personally and especially for me, a long time ago when I used to take karate lessons, I read a thing that Bruce Lee wrote about his formless Jeet Kune Do philosophy of Kung Fu and he said you should always be training, somehow; for instance, always get dressed on one foot, for your balance. I still do it, and every once in awhile I completely destroy a sock because I’m standing there on one foot with one toe in a sock, and I am about to lose my balance (my balance has never improved but THAT’S THE DISCIPLINE), so as my balance degrades, I continue to proceed ramming my foot into the sock, as my entire out-of-control body heads to the floor, behind part of a foot semi-inside a sock, and I rip something, the heel, or some stitching inside along the leg-tube, and I finish pulling up the sock and forget about it, until the next time I see that pair of socks in my sock drawer and I push ’em to the back.

So because I buy new socks every now and then, I ran out of space in the sock drawer, which inspired a full drawer sock-cull, including some socks that weren’t even blown out at the heel, they were socks that I don’t like anymore and don’t ever pull out of the drawer to wear, but instead of getting rid of them like a sensible person, I pushed them to the back of the drawer. Inspecting the contents of the entire dumped-out sock drawer for rips and blowouts, I realized I owned some socks that were so old that when I opened up the entryway of the sock, there was a soft but audible p-rrrrrp of the failure of the elastic sock-holding-up material, so out they went, destined for under-the-sink rag duty or a brief moment as a balled-up cat toy stuffed with nip before heading to the trash. I will miss my blue camo-pattern socks from The Gap most of all, and I even wore them after I destroyed the leg-tube, but wow they were hard to put on standing on one foot.

Chadwick Boseman in 21 Bridges


21 Bridges, directed by Brian Kirk

CHADWICK BOSEMAN HAS played James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, the Egyptian deity Thoth, the Black Panther comic book character, and Jackie Robinson, among many other roles, and now he is a one-hundred-and-ten-percent Movie Star because he’s the hero in this new cops-and-robbers movie 21 Bridges, named for the 21 bridges, four tunnels, and three rivers connecting/surrounding Manhattan, all of which have to be SHUT DOWN because there are cop-killers on the loose!

Stephan James and Taylor Kitsch

Boseman plays Andre Davis, “the cop who kills cop-killers,” and he is the film’s moral center, the way Harrison Ford or Liam Neeson or Tom Cruise or Will Smith or The Rock are in their movies. All the highly-accomplished Mr. Boseman has to do now, for a movie like this, is show up and be the good guy, while lots of other accomplished actors jump in to support him in the production and cash paychecks.

J.K. Simmons, Chadwick Boseman and Sienna Miller

In this case, our ensemble is rounded out by J.K. Simmons, Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch, Keith David, Alexander Siddig, and Sienna Miller, who is employing an extreme Heyyy I’m Doing a Noo-Yawk Accent Ovah Here. They all help or hinder Mr. Boseman’s character as he zooms around Manhattan tracking the killers, who, of course are trapped in Manhattan because 21 bridges, four tunnels, and three rivers were all clamped shut in about five minutes of movie-time.

Taylor Kitsch and Stephan James

This movie is very much a Law & Order episode, but with lots of violence and a high bodycount, owing, possibly, to the influence of producers Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, who directed a bunch of comic book movies with lots of punching and shooting. 21 Bridges is a very good compromise-movie choice between seeing something too heavy or too stupid, and Chadwick Boseman is going to be in perfectly acceptable flicks like this probably for as long as he wants in between more important movies.

Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith in Queen & Slim


Queen & Slim, directed by Melina Matsoukas

THIS IS KIND of a perfect movie, a living thing, all the way around. Go see this movie. It’s a tragedy, it’s life-affirming, it’s funny, the actors are great, the photography is evocative, it’s got great music, it’s romantic. Even the movie’s poster dials you in to how this film is going to feel as you experience it, a road trip through America, our country, as it is right now.

Daniel Kaluuya

There isn’t a moment I wasn’t fully invested in Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith’s as Queen and Slim, strangers who meet for a first date that immediately goes south. It’s a compelling relationship up on the screen and you will care about them and want them to win as you travel with them on some of our nation’s roadways, visiting convenience stores, auto mechanics, and roadside taverns.

Bokeem Woodbine and Indya Moore

Anybody who complains about how there are only comic book movies has no idea what they’re talking about as long as there are movies getting made that are as human as Queen & Slim.



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WE PRESENT A selection of recipes for ancient but reproducible sandwiches, found in The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book: 400 Ways to Make a Sandwich, by Eva Greene Fuller; 1909; McClurg and co, Chicago, now in the public domain for the delectation of all.

Toast three thin slices of white bread and butter, on the lower slice lay cold white breast of turkey; cover with another slice of toast; on that lay a thin slice of hot broiled ham; cover with another slice of buttered toast and press together. Serve on a lettuce leaf. Garnish with small pickles.

Between thin slices of lightly buttered white or brown bread, place thin slices of turkey breast; spread a little cranberry jelly over this and sprinkle with finely chopped celery.

Between thin slices of lightly buttered toast, places slices of warm turkey breast; over same pour a hot gravy made of slightly thickened turkey stock. Garnish with a pickle.

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