UPDATE: turns out we have to wait for the iTunes link to show up. So, tomorrow.

YES the Diner returns today (update! See above), but I don't know the exact time. Hard link tomorrow, or wait for a tweet. Hosting is not in my hands . . . for which I am immensely grateful.

The dishwasher broke again. Or rather refused to go on, blinking OE and chiming out an alarm, if it’s possible to alarm anyone with a chime. It’s like frightening them with a slide whistle. I rearranged the drain cord and it seemed to be satisfied, but for all I know it’s just entered a finicky stage where nothing seems right and it just doesn’t want to drain. I mean no one ever thanks it for draining. No one ever pats it on the side and says “nice job of removing all the water, again.” It sings a nice little song when it’s done, and does anyone sing along with it?

Yes; I do. If I’m in the kitchen when it’s done I whistle along with it. There are times I whistle the little tune for no reason, since it’s such a kind little ditty. So don’t give me that I’m-so-unappreciated routine.

The weather came and killed half the plants. Before and after. Four days ago and today.

Some are still look good, but they’re the ones that look happy even after they’re dead.


I should have saved the “gosh this is short” for today; spent the hour of Bleat-writing time polishing the Diner, to make sure it’s reasonably tight. It has everything you want, if you’re an old fan. What’s new: a sponsor, and more old commercials. I will be figuring out a way to take calls, too - via Skype, of course - to give it more of the old Diner feel. Next week it’s the Halloween show, too.

Why? Because all this fills the hours and makes me feel somewhat useful. The daily contribution to the entertainment needs of the great maw of the internet is: the Bleat for your morning read, or whenever you get to it; at least three updates to the site, matches / comics / restaurants; substantial work blog in the noon hour; tumblr post; the occasional tweet. Doesn’t seem enough. I can’t get anything done between 3 and 7. In the evening there’s other work, including the novel, the misery of which is ending soon.

Fun little insider story: as I noted, I wrote “Autumn Solitaire” without knowing one small detail - the identity of the killer. I figured he or she would show him or herself, and eventually, that’s what happened. But there’s so much lard and expository blather en route, and the end in particular might be described thus, in movie-script form:



Sit down, let me tell you everything that happened.


Do I need to interject with questions to give the illusion of a conversation?


That would help.


Is it okay if the questions sound as if the author himself is trying to figure out what happened, and figuring he can find out by typing some more?


You read my mind. So, here’s what happened. Oh, by the way, there will be a stunning revelation which will really mean very little, since the character in question was developed about as well as a Polaroid ripped open after five seconds.


Maybe the reader will be invested in the character because he or she was so vividly drawn during that brief appearance 200 pages ago.


That’s almost touching. By the way, lighting my cigar was one of those things that keeps this from being nothing but dialogue. If you would like to smoke or stare at your drink that would help.


What do we do to indicate the passage of time?


Fall silent, and there will be the sound of a clock down the hall, or traffic outside.


Isn’t talking about the solution the antithesis of a good ending?


We’re in luck. It’s not the real ending. See, the author subscribes to the one-two-three punch theory, with a series of escalating realizations and set-pieces. Unfortunately this one’s locked in place, because it’s the most plausible of the half-dozen barely plausible scenarios he wrote.


That’s a problem though.


Yessiree, my boy. To make matters worse there’s real-estate developers involved.


Oh, not another mystery where a series of deaths cover up the nefarious doings of property owners. Please tell me this isn’t that.


You’ll see. The good thing is that the author hates cliches about serial killers and deep conspiracies. Did you read his other three novels? He doesn’t believe in maniacs.


That’s a relief.


Except for this one. In a way.

(JOHN GROANS. TRAFFIC is heard passing on the wet streets outside. A CLOCK chimes in alarm down the hall.)


Well, let’s start. Here’s a series of incriminating statements complete with justifications which I, the powerful newspaper columnist, am admitting to a photographer who showed up at my house.


Excuse me, but I’m here too.


Oh! That’s right, you are. Batman and Superboy are together for this scene. When did that happen?


The third rewrite. It seems that the second pass of the novel had me fired from the newspaper, but there’s no reason given. There’s a note in boldface that says WRITE FIRING SCENE, but little else.


I see. Damned unlikely I’d spill all this to a reporter for my own paper, especially if I’ve been covering something up.


Exactly. So we appear to be in something of a pickle.

(OLE FROWNS. TRAFFIC is heard outside. A CLOCK chimes again)


Am I a good guy or a bad guy in this book?


I think you strike the most dull-witted mystery fan as an obvious Dudley-Smith-type from Elroy’s “LA Quartet.” It’s not clear -


Hold on. In the last book -


Don’t worry. Your son is the narrator of the third book in this series, and he speaks highly of you. Lives in this house, in fact, which is why we have to have this scene here. Anyway, let’s begin. Ben, are you ready?


My name’s John, not Ben.


I’m sorry. You were Ben in the first two drafts. Old habits, and all that. So then, Ole - there was a scene at the Calhoun Baths that seemed to be written just to set something at a bygone Minnneapolis locale. There are four other such scenes in the book, at least three need explaining. The fourth can be chalked up as the book’s version of the car in the river in “The Big Sleep” - even Chandler didn’t know what that meant, in the end. Shall we begin?


This is what goes through my head every day in the shower and the drive to work and the drive home and before I sleep at night. I live in mortal dread of this book not working.

And then I dip in here and there, and it sings; then I think of the third one, already written, which had none of these problems, and not only bookends “Autumn Solitaire,” but brings “Falling Up the Stairs” into the mix as well and ends with grace and commemorative resolution, and I relax.

A little.



When last we met our heroes, they had escaped the clutchs of Vultara, clutch-escaping being their stock in trade; now they're heading back to Earth on a missile-ship aimed at the HQ for all the Rangers. This would leave Earth powerless. Now:

The ship is headed straight for earth - in fact, it’s the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere that releases the Paralyzing Vapor Gas into the cabin.. Because the genius of Voltura decreed that when you’re sending a bomb in the shape of a spacecraft, have the cockpit fill with deadly gas before it reaches its target. Let's think that through:

"When will the gas go off, killing everyone?"

"The gas begins to fill the cockpit of the remote-controlled unmanned vessel when it reaches Earth's atmosphere."

"What the hell good is that? Why not when it reaches its target?"

"I don't know, why don't you just make the damned thing a bomb, instead of a gas? What if it lands outdoors, and it's windy?"

BZZZZZT as Vultura kills the uppity missile designer.

Lucky for Captain Video and the Ranger, he always carries a plot device:

It’s an Ionizer, which cleared the gas out of the room. As soon as they’re back in the pink, they get a call from the planet of old albino Arabs:

That’s Theros, Planet of, and since Captain Video’s ship is passing through their atmosphere, they volunteer to help bring it down. Mind you, the ship was just entering earth’s atmosphere a minute ago, and now it's untold parsecs away around Theros. Whatever. But this is necessary; once the guy on Theros - named “Alpha,” in the wildly imaginative nomenclature of the Future - says he can get control of the robot ship with some strenuous dial-turning, then it is just a matter of doing it and giving control of the ship to Earth. Somehow.

Voltura, or Vultura, takes it with his characteristic style:

Meanwhile, back in the lab of the Evil Dr. Tobor, they decide to destroy the ship using Superhyrogenated Rays or something. Keep in mind that there is no plot. This is all there is. Going from here to there, encountering deadly peril, surviving. going elsewhere, using the Cosmic Osmosifier, and on and on and on.

I’d forgotten about this guy:

KNAGGS. Skelton Knaggs. Drank himself out of a liver four years after this was made; he was 43. That takes work.

Tobor summons his minions, who, in the future, are apparently vintage fans:

Off they go in their high-tech Captain Video-Destroyer Futuristic DeathWagon:

This ship is in trouble, and they have to escape somehow. It’s burning up. But they have no chutes! You might think this is the cliff on which the show will hang, but no; you can’t end a serial chapter in the same locale. If they’re in a burning barn one week they can’t be in a burning barn the next. So how do they escape?

Well, there's a new invention he can use: the Radio-Atom Crucifix!

That's the aforementioned Atomic Eye. If you trip the beam, you're disintegrated. Wonder why they never used it before. Ever. On anything. It would seem to take care of matters with few complications or paperwork. Indeed, when Captain Video and the Ranger walk in front of it, poof! They cease to exist. Hell of a cliffhanger.


Here's where that "be sure to see" line doesn't really work.


Work blog around 12:30 and Tumblr as well.





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