link href='' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css'> LILEKS (James) :: The Bleat 2014



I am dogsitting the Canine Who Fears Me tomorrow. I feel bad for the dog, somewhat; I know I’m not Mr. Happy, but every act of discipline is matched with affection - just not immediately. You can’t impose order and undercut it with ameliorating gestures right away. Dogs do not understand the idea of apologies. I think we understand each other well enough; she knows she can’t play me, and I know she wants Love first, and Order maybe second or third.

Working on a column tonight, so the above-the-fold must suffer. But because the Bleat is now a machine arranged and oiled and prepared in advance, there’s much for you to enjoy. Really, what am I apologizing for? Captain America serial video-snippets and 24 pages of malls for you to enjoy, for free! So let’s start.

While researching something or other I've already forgotten I landed on a Google Newspaper page - a reference modern newspapers might well consult, since the extraordinary profusion of information large and small is one of the things that defined the medium. There was just so much. Tiny, tiny ad at the bottom of one page:

Hand-drawn Thirties design; those rounded windows showed up everywhere, and gave little towns a taste of Things to Come, even though the fact that they were Things Already Here meant that that the future would be different. Somehow I knew it would still be there. And:

Whoever thought this was a good idea? The person who couldn't replace the rounded glass at a reasonable price, I suppose.

News story:

You might not realize it, but every time you order dinner digitally, you subconsciously order more--whether it's Domino's, deli food, or your favorite delivery app.

No, I don’t. I order what I want, which is usually what I got before. I never call up the pizza-place’s website and think “hmm. What will it be? What size? What toppings?” The size doesn’t vary, and the toppings never vary. Why? Because I like them. But wouldn’t you like . . . this? Perhaps. Maybe not. Why chance it? Besides, it’s for the whole family, and if I order half with banana peppers, that renders the pizza unusable for 2/3rds of the diners.

Every time I order a box pops up, offering Rice Krispee bars, breadsticks, breadsticks stuffed with cheese, cheese logs stuffed with bread, braids of cheese and bread, and WINGS. Because when I selected “build your own pizza” on the main page I was thinking WINGS. Because when I hit the button that said my order was done and I’d like to pay now, I really meant WINGS and ohmygod ohmygod I almost forgot about the WINGS that could have been a catastrophe.

Bioshock Infinite update: I’m in Emporia. The battles are exhausting and completely confusing and hard, which is how it should be. The people who cheered on the anti-robber-baron themes of the earlier levels are probably a bit crestfallen when the Occupy crowd takes over. The attack of the Songbird during an escape gave me gooseflesh; the number of well-spaced HO-LY KREP moments are few and hence quite effective.

And it's still gorgeous.



Coinciding with the release of the latest Captain America movie, we're looking at . . . another Captain America movie. The difference is the pacing and the budget; this one cost $7.99. On DVD, I mean. The actual budget was twice as much. Want to catch up? Here's last week's. Otherwise, onward:

As usual, a re-Cap! Hah! Get it? Sorry.

Don’t be so happy, Gail; there’s a big blade over your head, remember?

It begins with a reprise of the fist-fight, which is a bit dismaying; does this mean we won’t get a new fist-fight? The elements of any serial are the Suddenly Important Piece of Technology, a fist-fight, a car going off a cliff, gunplay, and certain death faced by the hero or the Gal Friday. The best episodes have all of them; most have two.

Anyway, Gail was saved, as usual, by selective editing; Cap manages to stop the blade before she’s bisected, leaving everyone too shaken to ask why there was a guillotine in a box factory in the first place.

Well, everything that has gone on before is dropped like a hot poker; Maldor says “it’s time for the next phase of the operation,” suggesting that they’re no longer into using high-powered scientific inventions to steal art and precious metals. Rest on their laurels? Not our Maldor! He wants to go after Henley, the Oil Magnate, who’s never been mentioned, but “he also was a member of the Mayan expedition that discredited me.” As if we remember that from six weeks ago. As if the fact that all the members of the expedition are dying off except the one guy who they discredited wouldn't occur to, oh, MAYBE THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY WHO IS ALSO CAPTAIN AMERICA.

Maldor sent Henley an extortion note, confident he will show it to Captain District Attorney, and by bugging Captain District Attorney’s apartment, Maldor will know what he is doing.

Because if there’s one thing you want when committing blackmail, it’s the constant involvement and attention of the District Attorney.

A henchman says it’ll be hard to bug the DA’s apartment, but Maldor knows what to do: invite the DA to his house to talk about things. Operation Look As Suspicious as Possible is underway! First step: dispatch the least-conspicuous lookout imaginable:

Because there’s always a shine boy walking around residential neighborhoods. Bonus: Maxwell Smart communication device.

Anyway, the henchman plants a radio the size of a cigar box in the DA’s apartment:

. . . and we await the next phase of the plot, confident SOMEONE will pull out a gun. Of course, the DA goes right back to his apartment, like most DAs who left the office in the middle of the day to answer legal questions for a private citizen.

Well, Henley comes over to the apartment to talk about the blackmail note, since that’s where most DAs conduct these matters.

Captain DA says the blackmailer might be a homicidal maniac, so he’ll send his secretary to deliver the money. Since he knows his pad’s been bugged - don’t ask - he fabricates a story about the money-bag containing a tracking device. In other words: the Suddenly Important Piece of Technology. The bag is dropped off, and in a move that might make an ordinary criminal mastermind wonder about the relationship with the DA and a certain costumed fellow who matches his build:

Yes, Captain America shows up! But how could he have known? Curses! Time for a fistfight with all the usual acrobatics. Edited version:


That qualifies as the car going off the cliff, doesn't it? Tick off that box.

Cap goes back to the henchman’s lair - I forgot how he found it, and it doesn’t matter - and there’s the promise of gunplay! Alas:


The fistfight is in an abandoned mine, which means there’s shaft in the middle of the room, and someone’s going down. And that someone is . . . .

Sweet Jeezum Crow, he’s dead. Actually no; he shakes off the five-story drop, in time to see:

Why pay retail?


New additions to the old Malls of Yore site, but since I overhauled the whole thing you can start at the top. Enjoy!



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