Trivia time: Which Twin Cities TV personality worked with Alfred Hitchcock? Guess before reading!

He had a good role!

Zoo Lou of St. Paul: “Subject: Who is that court recorder?

“While watching ‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour’ the other night, I got a most unexpected surprise.

“This episode, which aired October 11, 1962, was about a man on trial for a fatal hit-and-run accident. At one point, the prosecuting attorney asks the court recorder to read back a statement made by a witness. When the man stands up, I said aloud: ‘That looks just like Mel Jass! But I don’t remember him doing any acting.’

“Later, when the recorder is asked to read the statement of another witness, I again said aloud: ‘If that’s not Mel Jass, it’s an amazing look-alike.’

“With my curiosity piqued, I eagerly waited for the closing credits to see if my tired eyes were deceiving me. They were not. There, big as life, was Mel Jass, listed simply as ‘Recorder.’

“For those of you who may not be familiar with Mel Jass, he was a very popular and pioneering host, emcee and commercial pitchman nonpareil for WCCO and WTCN (now KARE 11), who began showcasing his talents in the early days of television.

“Jass is probably best remembered for hosting ‘Mel’s Matinee Movie’ on WTCN, beginning in 1958 and ending in 1979. He often had guests on the show — and during their chats, he would invariably utter those immortal words: ‘He’s got a good job!’ [Bulletin Board says: Our recollection is that Mel’s “guests” “appeared” via phone calls — and that many of those with whom he talked were “housewives.” In the course of chatting them up, Mel would ask what their husbands did for a living — which led to those immortal words, about jobs both good and not so good.]

“As for the acting, I discovered that Jass left the Twin Cities for Hollywood in 1960. Along with the ‘Hitchcock Hour,’ he had a part in the short-lived police drama ’87th Precinct,’ also in 1962, along with several piecemeal jobs. He returned home in 1963.

“I wish I could have heard Jass talk about his experiences in Hollywood — especially what it was like working with Hitchcock. Mel had the distinction of being part of the last TV show Sir Alfred ever directed.

“One thing I remember about ‘Mel’s Matinee Movie’ is that it opened with this stirring, majestic music that I found myself constantly humming. I wrote several letters asking where the music came from, but Jass never replied. I eventually learned it was from the soundtrack for the epic ‘El Cid,’ composed by Miklós Rózsa.

“Whenever I play that music, I still think fondly of Mel and his movies, even if he didn’t reply to my letters.

“One last thought: When Mel Jass was on the set of the ‘Hitchcock Hour,’ did he ever approach the great director and say: ‘You’ve got a good job!’?”

Of boys and their toys
And: Till death do them part

DebK of Rosemount: “Hesiod and Euterpe stopped in at midweek to introduce their toddler grandson to the joys of bottle-feeding lambs, twins born on Pentecost in this, the longest lambing season in modern history. As always, the bottles were drained quickly, which opened the way for a quick consultation with Euterpe about the dishonorable condition of the wildflower garden I am attempting to establish on the shores of Hamish’s swimming pond. The pint-sized shepherd accompanied us as we made our way catty-wampus across the property to inspect my horticultural disaster area.

“We were waylaid when the child caught sight through the woods of the neighbors’ enormous (planned) brushfire. Momentarily struck dumb by the wonder of it all, the youngster quickly sensed the seriousness of the situation, pivoted, and rushed toward the garden shed, where Hesiod and Taxman were engaged in weighty conversation. The little fellow, nearly overcome with excitement, exhorted his granddad: ‘Bring your firetruck quick, Papa!’ — if my translation skills can be trusted.

“It’s the kind of plea that piques one’s curiosity. So, after Hesiod and Euterpe convinced the toddler that this conflagration was not one that required ‘Papa’s firetruck’ to be called to the scene, Taxman and I investigated.

“It turns out that Hesiod does own a firetruck, an ancient (but handsome) contraption that provided many years’ service as St. John’s Abbey Fire Engine No. 2. As is his wont, Hesiod had picked the thing up for a song, breathed new life into it, and for years piloted it along parade routes while the classics faculty of one of the Northfield colleges rode (clad in togas, I like to think) on top, hurling candy at onlookers and urging them to ‘Fire up for Classics!’

“None of this surprised us. But we did raise our eyebrows as Hesiod iced his narrative, for it turns out that a few years ago Hesiod met a fellow collector of fire-fighting equipment whose collection included St. John’s Abbey Fire Engine No. 1. Progress was quickly made toward a change in ownership when Hesiod prudently thought to bring Euterpe in on the transaction — to give it her blessing, you know.

“It wasn’t to be. Euterpe was uncharacteristically firm in her position: ‘One firetruck is enough.”

Live and learn!

The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: Used Auto Parts.

“I saw a sign the other day saying that ‘All Cars Run on Used Parts.’ The sign suggested pulling good parts off of wrecked or otherwise out-of-service autos, thereby saving money. That can be a lot of work sometimes, but indeed good used parts often work.

“I remember years ago, when my salary was insufficient to cover all the needs and wants of a growing family and my old pickup truck needed a new alternator. I called around to a number of auto-parts stores offering after-market replacement alternators and could not find one at a reasonable price. I then called a ‘junk yard,’ where perhaps they might just have one. They responded in the affirmative, and the price was right — just $10.

“That was the first time I went there. It was not easy to find. It was located on the banks of the Mississippi River just across the river from our home and up a ways. I had to drive down some winding roads lined with lots of shady trees, but definitely not a residential area. The grass had not been mowed, and weeds had taken over wherever they could. The road was unpaved, with water standing in some of the ruts. This was pre-GPS days, and sometimes you had to wander around a bit to get where you were going. My trusty dog was with me, finding interest in everything we passed.

“Once I saw the junk yard, I knew this was it. Sometimes you can just tell by the way things look. There was a high fence around it, definitely unpainted and not very secure. There were several buildings, where I suspect that salvaged items could be sorted and categorized for resale.

“Walking around a bit, I found the office. It was a sheet-metal building. The galvanized metal was showing its age. Much was starting to rust, and the window had several panes broken. I entered the building and introduced myself, explaining my reason for coming there.

“The proprietor was an elderly gentleman who had not shaven in a week or so. It probably was two months or more since his last haircut, and it wasn’t clear that his clothing had been washed any more recently than that. But then, if you work in a place that recycles dirty, greasy, rusty auto parts, what else would you expect? A small radio on the shelf played country music. And I asked if they had an alternator for a 72 Dodge ¾ ton 4×4 with a 360 engine. The owner, whose name I will not divulge, said sure, right here. He reached behind him and pulled one off the top of a barrel of alternators. I traded my exchange with him and paid the $10. He didn’t even add in tax. I asked if it was guaranteed. He assured me that it would work and that he would stand behind it. OK. Then as I was turning around and heading for the door, he took my defective alternator and threw it back on top of that same barrel. OMG!

“The next person needing that alternator would probably get mine. I felt a lump in my throat and wondered if my ‘new’ alternator would work. To the credit of this used part, that starter was still on the pickup and working the day I sold it some six or seven years later. Used parts aren’t all that bad. And I became a regular customer.”

Anything for a buck

The Happy Medium: “Subject: My First Job.

“The fall of 1953, I began working for my great-uncle, a widower. I was 15.

Every Saturday morning, Mother drove me to my great-uncle’s dairy farm house, where I planned my 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. workday cleaning house, washing clothes, and baking.

“Organization was the key. For his next week’s treats, I baked an apple pie, nut-filled brownies and chocolate chip cookies, all in the wood cookstove. I also prepared a noon meal of potatoes, meat and Jell-O salad with mandarin oranges. One Saturday I did attempt baking bread, unsuccessfully.

“By 3 p.m. clothes had been washed, folded or ironed, bedding changed, floors washed and furniture dusted. Two Surge milking machines had been washed and were ready for the evening’s milking.

“Looking back on this job, I realize that I had mastered the art of multitasking, far before anyone had a term for it. And I did it for the great sum of $2 for six hours of work.”

This ‘n’ that ‘n’ the other ‘n’ the other

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All from Al B of Hartland: (1) “Going to Herter’s in Waseca was like moving to Beverly Hills for a young hick from Hartland.”

(2) “A chickadee makes me smile without doing anything more than being. The chickadee is in my birding sweet spot.

“In 2017, I spent too much time in the hospital. Freed from that confinement, I found walking difficult and birding nearly impossible. I decided to count chickadees, with 10,00 being my goal. I didn’t care if it was the same chickadee repeatedly; if I saw it, I counted it. I told no one, holding my own soft celebration upon achieving that minor goal.

“I counted 1,000 chickadees again this year. They added up much quicker in 2020.”

(3) “Holey hostas! Hailstones larger than golf balls.

“A beautiful country church had its steeple crash to the ground during the storm. The steeple was a reference point in a flat land.

“My wife headed out to check on relatives from a social distance. I stayed home to survey the damage and make proper adjustments.

“I carried sticks to brush piles and tried to count the six fox squirrels released at our place by the good folks at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Counting adopted squirrels is more difficult than herding cats.”

(4) “Sometimes I wonder whose side my GPS is on. ‘Make a U-turn,’ the female voice said sternly. I was in my garage. I grumbled, but I didn’t lash out. She knows where I live.”

Joy of Juxtaposition

Horntoad of White Bear Lake: “Subject: Coincidence.

“Coincidences can occasionally be so amazing that they seem to be unbelievable. The thought comes to mind that ‘This can’t really be happening,’ with the emphasis on ‘can’t.’

“We have lived at our home for 32 years, having built it in 1988. Our back yard overlooks Rice Lake, a small lake with floating bogs. The view is beautiful, with no buildings closer than about 3/4 mile.

“The lake is difficult to access, so we have never had any boat traffic on it. We are able to enjoy a lot of wildlife, including a wide variety of birds. A great place to relax.

“Recently, after a hot day of work on my landscape makeover, I decided to relax with a cold beer on the deck. I don’t drink much, and even more rarely drink beer, but it seemed like the perfect refreshment.

“I grabbed a Leinenkugel’s ‘Canoe Paddler Kolsch,’ described as a ‘German classic that’s perfect for winding down and relaxing.’ I had never had a Canoe Paddler before; it was one of a few remaining from a 12-pack that had been brought to our house by friends awhile back.

“I stepped out onto the deck and took a seat on a deck chair. Taking a sip of the Leinie, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of my first Canoe Paddler. Leaning back, I put my feet up on a stool, looked up and saw, for the first time in 32 years, a watercraft on the lake — yes, a canoe.

“What? I looked at my beer with the canoe on the label. I looked out at the canoe on the water.

“All I could think was: ‘Did that just happen?'”

The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon?

Mustang Sally of Maplewood: “I’ve just experienced my first B-M.

“I’ve been reading a recent edition of the SPPP. On page 3B are the Comics (aka: funnies), and in ‘Arctic Circle’ there is a Pangolin, which is being blamed for spreading the coronavirus. On page 4B, there is an article about things the virus is able to infect. Among those things are Pangolins.

“I’m so relieved . . . that there aren’t any in St. Paul.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We are very sorry to say that that is an excellent Joy of Juxtaposition . . . but not a B-M. The creator of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, Gigetto on Lincoln, very explicitly stipulated that a B-M may not be topical (i.e., in the news). If anything is more topical than the COVID-19 coronavirus, we can’t imagine what it might be!

Then & Now
Or: Just a coincidence?

Semi-Legend reports: “Subject: Serendipity.

“In November 2018, my wife showed me a book from the Half Price Books dollar bin: ‘The Word Exchange,’ by Alena Graedon. Copyright 2014. I glanced through what the cover called ‘A nervy, nerdy dystopic thriller,” liked what I saw and put it on my shelf. Knew nothing about the book or author. Had heard nothing about it or her after purchase.

“I recently picked it up while reading my way through shelter-in-place.

“The heroine’s father is a lexicographer. A colleague tells her on page 56: ‘He was most afraid of a pandemic.’ She replies: ‘Pandemic? You mean — of a disease?’

“Hmmm . . .

“Then, pages 236-7: ‘It now seems dangerously naive, but before that night I’d never really believed that an outbreak could turn so quickly into an epidemic: the steadily rising waters abruptly rushing above our heads. That a virus we’d only just learned about — that had by then infected only hundreds of people — could very quickly sicken tens of thousands. Hundreds of thousands. More. That we could be derailed in other ways: infrastructure wracked. Language devastated. I always thought we’d have more time — to prepare our citizens, shut schools, develop more and better treatments. Of course the schools were closed. But by then it was too late.’

“It appears I shall read no book before its time.

“Incidentally, that bit about ‘Language devastated’: The disease is ‘word flu,’ aphasia. People forget how to use words, thanks to their handy hand-held devices . . . .”

Our times
Pandemic Division

Writes luv.mom: “My sister sent this picture from their 58th wedding anniversary celebration.

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“This is SO Bulletin Board!”

See world
Floral Division

Mounds View Swede has again been out and about with his camera: (1) “I went down to Chicago Avenue and 38th Street today to see what flowers had been brought there as part of the memorial for George Floyd.

“It was a very peaceful gathering, and because there was a band with young performers, there were a lot of teens in the audience moving and dancing a little to the music. It was comforting to me to see how much care had been put into the different memorial pieces, but I concentrated my photos on the blossoms.

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“I don’t know what these flowers are, but the petals were so striking in their vividness.

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“I like the power that blossoms seem to have on people and how we turn to them for use on important occasions.

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“I also stopped up the street about a block to visit the tables set up to distribute food, toilet paper, infant supplies and water to the community, now that the food stores they relied on are destroyed. Some other system of food distribution will soon need to be created by the city, county and/or the state to help this neighborhood bridge the months involved before new stores can be built, if they ever will be.”

(2) “Some of the ‘old reliable’ blossoms are starting to appear in my neighbors’ and my yards.

“Our north-side neighbor had this nice rose blooming — the first local rose I saw this summer.

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“My south-side neighbor had this peony in bloom. I noticed the big pink blossom from the house and had to go out and see what it was.

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“She also had red cosmos blossoms . . .

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“. . . some light purple cosmos blooms . . .

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“. . . and some white cosmos blossoms. I liked their symmetry and color variations.

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“And on each side of our fence, chives are growing and having their blossoms — which are unique in their form.

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“This is a salvia I have planted in the middle of a planter I move out each summer — one on either side of the driveway. Each has a taller middle plant surrounded by four or five shorter annuals.

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“There are more blooming annuals to photograph in the street-side gardens, which will have to wait for another time. Some of those plants are just getting started.”

(3) “Each summer, I plant a variety of annuals in two front-yard gardens that get more sun than the rest of the yard. It varies each year what I plant, and these photos show some of my choices this year.

“Most of the blossoms are red with a fringe of white — except on the left side, where a few are white.

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“This one made a nice circle of red blossoms.

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“A couple of cosmos blossoms.

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“I always include some seed dahlia plants. This one was already blooming when I purchased it . . .

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“. . . and then I noticed that even the back of the petals had some interesting patterns on them.

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“Another seed dahlia had a different style blossom.

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“The gardens seem to be off to a good start . . . and it’s early in the season yet — a reflection of staying home more and taking care of things there!”

(4) “I stopped for a look at my nearby neighbor’s gardens to see what was blooming now that most of the irises were finished.

“I found a fresh-looking white iris, which I had not seen before.

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“Some roses were just getting ready to blossom. This one, I thought, was just about perfect: interesting light yellow amidst the creamy petals, each petal flawless.

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“A more typical red one was OK, but didn’t quite compare in its impact on me.

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“This was a climbing-vine blossom of some sort.

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“One small cluster of yellow blossoms caught my eye.

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“And this one was at the top of a fence support for the climbing plant.

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“There are a great variety of plants still in the ‘getting ready’ stage. I just have to remember to keep coming back to see what is happening.”

The vision thing

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GramB of Nisswa: “While pondering the state of the world recently, I was gazing out one of my upper windows and for a moment thought I saw an elephant eating one of my favorite trees!”

The literallyists

Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: I’d pay to see that!

“While watching a TV show featuring a political panel, my ears pricked up when one of the guests finished her remarks with this: ‘It was literally a case of the fox in the henhouse.’

“I’d love to see that video.”

There’s nothin’ like a simile!

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “This is the first paragraph of a movie review by Stephanie Zacharek in the current issue of Time: ‘Elizabeth Moss, often drawn to portraying either vaguely or totally unlikeable characters, has no vanity and no fear. In Josephine Decker’s Shirley, she plays a fictionalized version of eccentric, reclusive novelist and short-story writer Shirley Jackson — perhaps best known for her chilly 1948 groupthink parable “The Lottery” — and once again her instincts prevail. Her Jackson is a tyrant with cold, inquisitive eyes, her skin dotted with age spots, her tummy thickened with padding. Moss melts into this disguise like a poisonous but dazzling color-changing salamander, beckoning us for a closer look, if we dare.’”

Shirts happen (responsorial)

LeoJEOSP writes: “Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul, had a great T-shirt submission recently. I saw someone wearing a shirt with a volume knob numbered zero to 11, and a quote from Nigel”:

Could be verse?

From the one and only Tim Torkildson: “Subject: Narrative poem.

“The landlord said ‘Get out. You never pay rent anymore.’

“So I got out.

“I went to live with my aunt, until she said

“‘Get out. You leave dirty dishes in the sink.’

“So I got out.

“I went to live with a friend in his basement apartment.

“But things came out of the woodwork and took him away.

“Then his mother upstairs said ‘Get out. You bring bad luck.’

“So I got out.

“I lived in my car, until a cop said ‘You can’t do that. Get out

“and get a job or something.”

“So I got out.

“But I couldn’t find a job. Or a place to live.

“And then I was hungry.

“So I ate berries on a bush in a park.

“The berries gave me superpowers,

“which I used to build small houses for people

“just like me.

“Each house had a front porch and a shade tree.

“Inside were rag rugs on the floor, made by the Amish.

“Wallpaper that could smell like cinnamon or vanilla,

“depending on your mood.

“In the bathroom the towels were fluffy and never damp.

“The kitchen featured a wooden bowl that remained full

“of fresh grapes, figs, bananas, oranges, and apples,

“no matter how many you ate.

“There was an endless supply of paper towels,

“with interesting facts printed on them.

“Like: ‘Augusta is the capital of Maine.’

“The refrigerator was always stocked with Swiss cheese

“and hard-boiled eggs.

“And the beds felt like a day in early spring when you’re in love

“for the first time.

“I built hundreds of these small houses all over the world

“and gave them away to displaced families, widows, and orphans.

“My superpowers made certain no government or private

“organization

“could ever take their homes away from them.

“And their tap water tasted like Hawaiian Punch forevermore.”

Band Name of the Day: Adopted Squirrels

Website of the Day: