Friday. Horrible Friday. I finished my morning work and was preparing to head to the video studio to test the new equipment, and walked past the TV. Saw the number: 27. And that was it for the rest of the day.

Oh yes now let’s write the Sunday humor column. As it turned out, I didn’t; just wrote the only thing I could think about. Dipped into Twitter here and there looking for links to news, and saw people trotting out their prefabs. Everyone has them, but not everyone can keep from waving them around. You have to think: could this insertion of a personal conviction possibly, under broad definitions, put me in the camp of the people who protest funerals? It could? I’d best shut up.

I had a prefab. I suspected that the killer was male, young, and had been on mood-changing prescription drugs for some time. For millions they are wondrous things that give them their lives back. For millions more they may suppress the actual personality - for good and for ill - and while it allows them to be happy, they grow up not knowing who they are without the pills. That might be the price some pay for not being crippled by depression; whether it's a fair price for not being troubled by anxiety, I can't say. I'd have to be pretty damned bleak and bereft to take them myself. But that's my personal view. I don't judge people who take them.

But now and then I suspect they make monsters. The dosage changes, the prescription changes, new brews seep through the head, something gets honed horribly sharp, and the user does unspeakable things. It's just a suspicion. Maybe it's not because we don't do this anymore, or we have too much of that in the culture. Maybe it's the pills. That’s why we see more of it now.

That’s my prefab, but twitter is not the place for these things, so I just said “There’s not a parent in the country who doesn’t want to go to their child’s school and pick them up.”

Which produced:


Internet culture in a nutshell: someone who lacks the empathy to understand a point, and feels compelled to point out his disbelief.

I will confine myself to pointing out that Joe Colucci's glasses are crooked.


(Before you jump to any conclusions - if you are a new reader - I had panic attacks in my mid-20s for a year, which led to a decade of agoraphobia and other wonderful anxietis; cured them, more or less, by white-knuckling through desensitizing situations. This doesn't make me better because I turned down drugs - I don't even know what was available then - and I'd say that I wasted an exhausting amount of time dealing with these anxieties when a pharmacological remedy might have helped, and helped quite quickly.)


Okay. This damned thing.



On Thursday my daughter was doing through the garage to get to school; pushed the button, and the door went up. Pushed it again: it didn’t go down. Huh? So the switch failed right there, betwixt uses?

Well, it had to fail some time, I suppose. Later that night I used the other button - there's one on the frame of the garage door, and one by the Bat-tunnel going up to the house. The garage door duly clattered up. When I went back inside after taking out the trash, I pushed the button again. It didn’t go down. Huh? So both switches failed on one day? There is where you want a HAL 9000 informing you weeks in advance that the switch is about to fail - not that I would do anything about it, but it wouldn't be a surprise.

Sigh: get out the ladder, go up, remove the cowling, remind myself how I like to say “cowling,” and examine the situation. Ah: All the wires had come undone. See that crazy bracket arrangement? The unit is so oddly mounted that it shakes like a rummy's hands when the chain engages. Over the course of a year or two, this undoes a nut, and the unit drops two inches to the side - pulling out the wires.

Just simply a matter of putting them back, I guess - except that what you see up there is a bunch of unlabeled wires that go to a big wad of wires, and there’s no way to tell which set goes to which terminal. Four terminals. Eight wires. You do the math.

I found the manual online, got a general idea of how it works - unstriped wire / striped wire / unstriped wire / striped wire - but I can’t tell if I’m attaching two sets of OFF wires or one set of OFF wires with the other ON wires; all I know is that no combination worked, at all, and when I ceased to feel my fingers I left it for tomorrow.

Which is a nice word for “Spring.”


Weekend viewing included one of the episodes from “Rutland Weekend Television,” the aforementioned Eric-Idle Pythonesque show. One of the musical parodies had this band:



In case you ever wondered where the name came from. Apparently it was used in a Python sketch first.

The question is whether "Toad" is intended as a verb. I'd like to think it is. What does one do with a wet sprocket? Well, toad it, of course.






This week: a festival of old TV Christmas Shows. To begin:



Red Skelton: as a kid I kept thinking of a Crimson Bone-man; as a kid he was one of those trailing-edge characters from my parent’s time, playing out the end of a radio or movie career on TV shows that weren’t really all that interesting, but had the virtue of being On TV, and thus something you watched whether you really liked it or not. Hard to imagine the mindset, although I’m sure it still exists: you watched TV in great big chunks, enduring the shows you didn’t care for very much, waiting for a show you liked better to come on.

Red was kicked off TV in the Rural Purge, when CBS sniffed the demographic winds and killed all the rustic shows, the legacy entertainers. Farewell to the Clampetts; goodbye Hooterville with those lovely lasses swimming in the all-together in the watertower; alas, no more of the brilliant surrealism of “Green Acres,” which was really an old radio show dressed up as a TV program. I’ve mentioned this before, I think - one of the writers was Dick Chevillat, who came out of radio - in many of the comedy shows that didn’t have story arcs, the show consisted of the star strolling from one set-piece to the other, engaging a character who had a particular defining aspect. This one’s Italian, this one’s a loud brassy woman, this one a dumb cluck, this one Yiddish, and so on. “Green Acres” was that format, except you saw them standing there talking. Mr. Haney. The County Extension agent. Ed the hired man.

Anyway: Red’s show was cancelled, and he was heartbroken. But he’d had a good run. The radio shows that remain are energetic enough, and corny, but he managed to slip a catchphrase into the national conversation (“I dood it”) and create a few characters like Clem Kaddlehopper and Freddie the Freeloader, the latter being a full-out character clown.



No one seems to note that he’s a grown man walking around in public wearing clown makeup, least of all the Kindly Policeman who gets Freddie a pedlar’s license so he can sell chestnuts. Surely he wouldn't run him in, though. And don't call him Shirley.


Freddie’s goal is to get enough money to put on a show for orphans, which is laudable. He manages to get a theater, but since there is no money for a show, he tells the kids they will have to imagine a show. What results is the sort of nightmare perpetrated by people who have no idea what children want, but are lazy played-out hacks who just reach into the bag of cliches and come up with this.



I mean. I mean really. I mean MY GOD.



This is not Christmasy in any sense understood by a human being who has experienced the event on a personal level.

Lest you think I exaggerate: behold.



Yeah, kid, sleep. Sleep after watching that.




Comments on hold for a while while I retool the site code. I'm rebuilding this page from the bottom up, which is why some things - horrors - are not aligned as I'd like.

That's not OCD; that's just . . . craftsmanship.