“Mister?” said the very small man on the floor of the kitchen. His parents had come from Cambodia, all the way to the middle of North America, their son had learned the art of appliance repair, “Mister, your dog pooped.”

And so he had. He’d been out a few times that day, the timing had been off, I guess. I apologized and said that the dog was old, and makes mistakes.

The repairman was fixing the fridge, which has a very stupid part: the Actuator. While it actuates as well as can be expected, letting ice fall from the maker to your glass, it requires pressing on a piece of plastic. They designed something that would be shoved several times a day by a hard object, and they made it out of plastic. When the tab snaps off, it’s $95. Like that. Just like that. Because I bought this five years ago and subjected it to that unforeseen set of circumstances some engineers dread, namely “daily use,” it required the repairman to come by, and because pulling the fridge out wasn’t really an option - “it’s a bear,” said the very small man - we had to cut power. Because the fusebox doesn’t have a label that says FRIDGE, he went through the others without labels, including the one that cut power to my studio.

I went upstairs to turn on the computers. The iMac did not turn on. Nothing. Pressed the button. Nothing. Checked the surge protector: all lights green. Checked the cords, as though the act of flipping a switch two floors below had caused a wire to kink up and short out. Nothing. So I did the only sensible thing: unplugged everything, took it to a different room, and plugged it in. I came to life, fans screaming at 100%. FAN PANIC.

Well, good thing I’m backed up, I thought, except, well . . .

A few days ago I checked my status on my online cloud backup, and discovered that I was backed up, totally and completely! As of 8/31/2012, that is. Nothing since then. Checked the status at the website: there was no backup online at all. In fact there was the word DELETED next to my computer.

Well. A few emails with the help desk revealed that something had gone very, very wrong with my backup, with my unique user ID somehow spraying two sets of data at the backup site, overwriting everything. Hence the deletion; didn’t you get an email about that? Check the spam / junk, well, there it is. It said they had made several attempts to alert me - which, as the tech said, meant “the program was supposed to tell you it hadn’t backed up.” That’s a bit different. In other words, we’re relying on the malfunctioned program to tell me it had malfunctioned, even though it didn’t think it had.

It was an enjoyable series of exchanges, really; I like people who want to get to the bottom of things, solve the mystery, and not incidentally keep you as a customer. He offered me my money back and said my case would be one of those things the bug-fix blokes really get their teeth into, because this was pretty much the Nightmare Scenario for an automated set-it-and-forget-it backup service.

So my backup continues automatically over night, and in 68 days I will be backed up again. But here I am with a screaming computer, and I’m unsure if it’ll come back on if I turn it off. While the fans are screaming, then, I backed up everything from the last few days - even though I knew I had two versions elsewhere, and as I selected which folders to dupe -

“Mister.” The dog had pooped. Also, daughter came home, passed the small man kneeling before the fridge, went upstairs and saw the iMac in the hallway, fans gusting.

Okay then, she said.

Computer calmed down when I rebooted. Everything is working fine. Ice now clatters from the door. I have learned the term actuator. Every day has something new.




Watched, with no great pleasure, a movie that came around on TCM because it’s a “lost classic,” a “seldom-seen” movie with “star power” - Jack Palance, Rod Steiger, Shelley Winters, script by Clifford Odets. It’s called “The Big Knife,” and is often described as a “noir.” It is not. It is a stage play about how Hollywood is mean and shallow, and nothing happens. Stagey, wordy, slow, poorly paced and lugubriously plotted, with only the occasional outburst from Steiger (playing an unnervingly blonde German film producer) livening things up. Palance has a way of acting that makes his hairline go up and down a lot. It’s about a beefcake-type star who wants to do Serious Roles, and doesn’t want to sign a new expensive contract. In the end he realizes everything is shallow so he goes off stage and kills himself. No knife, as far as I can tell, appears, but like some knives, the movie is long and dull.

Thought about it when I watched, with more pleasure but not an entirely significant amount, the pilot episode for a mid-60s sitcom called “Love on the Rooftop.” The title tells you we’re in the blossoming era of Liberation and Youth Culture; the premise - a spunky rich girl and a poor-but-determined apprentice architect get married and live in a small apartment, beset by her judgmental father and the fact that Rich Little lives next door - tells you that the old culture still holds sway. They’re married, after all.

Recognize the spunky rich girl?


A few years later, things would be Socked To Her. The husband was played by Peter Deuel.


ABC put a lot into the show, shooting it all in color, giving it a nice time slot; the producer, Harry Ackerman, had done “Bewitched” and “The Flying Nun,” so everyone thought it would be a hit. It wasn’t. It did okay, but ABC canned it after a season.

Judy Carne and Deuel ended up having an affair, which A) makes me wonder how many “married” couples on TV did that, and B) led to Deuel being quite protective of Carne on the set, almost punching out someone who called Carne a “dyke.” Carne had recently divorced . . . Burt Reynolds, and was in a relationship with a woman when the show began.

Things got worse for her - bad husband, drugs, no work after “Laugh-In,” showing up hammered for “Hollywood Squares,” but she seems to have pulled out of it, and the TV pilot - a murky artifact four and a half decades old - shows her charm and bright presence. Deuel went on to star in “Alias Smith and Jones,” a popular show whose run ended when Deuel shot himself on New Year’s Eve in 1971.

The show was still in production, and Universal wanted to fill out the season; another actor was stuck in the role, and filming continued before Deuel was laid in the ground.

Do any of these people end up happy? you wonder.

Well, Palance did okay.

As I hope we all do in 2013! Although that's premature - see you on New Year's Eve for another truncated, update-deprived (perhaps) week on the Bleat. Feels like things won't be back to normal until a week after next Monday.

See you around. (Oh: Strib column.)



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