“Your head looks thinner,” said my daughter after my hair cut. The sides were indeed reduced in volume. Had no idea they added that much width to my cranial volume. Did the haircut to prep for a promotional headshot I’ll probably hate, but, well, it’s my head, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

The shoot was quick, and I sat there and grinned like an idiot, trying to summon up Genial Guy With Things to Say expression, wondering how much older I’ll look when they replace my column picture. It’s one of the perils of the trade. Sudden Dorian Grey Syndrome. Hey, look at the painting we found in the attic!

August might be the cruelest month. You always think it’ll be an unrelenting blare of heat, the last hurrah, summer in all its strength without the vagaries of early June or the drama of July. But this morning there were hints of Fall, which are always more detectable than any other season. You never get “hints of winter,” you just get winter. “Hints of spring” might be a momentary warm waft, but everything around you belies its inevitability. Hints of Fall, however, are unmistakable. It’s not just a sudden coolness. It’s the light. It’s changed. You know it. Your eyes can detect the shift like the palate of a wine expert can tell the difference between a ’62 and a ’63.

So begins the six weeks of denial, I guess. Denial Fall is coming, and then once it’s here, the warm spell that denies Summer has left. School starts in ten days. The machinery of the last third of the year, an enormous construction that occupies our days and thoughts with holidays and celebrations and traditions - it’s not spooling up yet, but it’ll shudder to life soon. And that’s fine. If summer had the busy schedule of fall and winter it would seem longer, I think - but it drifts and floats, snagging now and then on an event and then bobbing off down the stream.

For now, a quiet night - no planes, only crickets counting out cadence, another insect rattling a castanet reply. The sprinkler system hisses. No heat, but no chill. It’ll do.

Hey, it’s time for more construction updates. The north site’s core is rising inexorably towards its 90-story height:

Did I say ninety? Probably about 20. Across the street, where the exact same building is being constructed in mirror-image form, two months behind the other:

All of this assembled by hand. A hand has to guide the girder; a hand has to rivet it in place; a hand puts up the frames for the cement; a hand waves to the operator to start pouring; a hand trowels off the excess. Hand-made, all of it.

Artisanal skyscrapers!

(Sorry that's it for the above-the-fold; column night and other matters I'll save for tomorrow.)

Oh, okay. Here. Found this in an old TV show. I recognized her right away. Can you tell me why I might have recognized her, and why contact with her meant the death penality - the only such capital crime still on the books?



We saw Batman falling out of a tall building, spinning around and around. There are two possible options: he hits the pavement at high velocity and dies instantly with a disgusting sound, or he is saved. Will he land in a laundry truck with lots of pillows? Will he whip out a hook from his Bat-Belt?


Oh. He’d dropped about six stories, by the way. That’s part of the problem with these serials: half the time the hero is saved from sudden death, it’s just dumb luck. Anyway, he shakes it off and he’s back up on the roof somehow in mere seconds, and after some punching and scuffling with the previously unbeatable bad guys, he saves the day and claims the Radium Gun.

He drags the sole surviving henchman to “The Bat’s Cave,” as he calls it, and gets all wierd and creepy: it’s feeding time for the bats! Hope you don’t mind. The henchman confesses all, but Batman get tough. Yes! Gritty, dark Batman!

With thunder thighs! Jeezum Crow, my old grandpa didn’t have his belt hiked up that high.

Now we meet Alfred:

He’s reading a comic book. Or a magazine. It has DETECTIVE in the title . . .


. . . which of course was the name of the comic in which Batman appeared. Anyway, Linda, the Obligatory Female Character, or OFC, gets a call from a minion of the evil Japanese criminal mastermind, pretending to be the uncle who disappeared after he got out of jail. Meet me at the Blue Parrot, and come alone!

She takes a phone call, and:

Now. You could intercept her as she leaves her apartment. You could strong-arm her as she walks from her car to the cafe when she passes between streetlights. No: arrange for her to be gassed in a phone booth with a secret door, thereby increasing your risk of exposure by at least 100X.

I should mention that Bruce and his Youthful Ward went to the Blue Parrot as well, but hid behind menus. When they discover that Linda is gone, they decide to . . . scour the area? Alert the police? Get in the Batcopter and shine a floodlight on the area? Use the Bat-Detector to follow the footprints left by the special chemical he put on her shoes? Nah. They go to the flophouse where the previously captured henchman said he was supposed to deliver radium. Bruce Wayne, in bum-garb disguise, is aided by the sound effects editor, who removes all traces of squeaky steps:

Robin alerts him by secret radio!!! that the bad guy is coming up, and we soon learn that the flophouse is the secret HQ for whoever-the-hell they’re looking for. The BatRope is deployed:

Annnnd fistfight:

If you watch carefully, you’ll see Batman’s cape go over his head - and then the guy who’s fighting him helpfully attempts to remove it.

Well, bottles are broken, and since they contain CHEMICALS, there’s a choking poisonous fog. Batman saves Linda - did I mention she was in the flophouse? Great how that worked out - and tries to escape by tightrope-walking over some electrical lines.

Let’s be honest: nice shot.


And that’s it. No “Next week’s chapter.” Just ends. In silence. Because they’re all dead! The next 13 episodes are all about the funeral and the sale of all Wayne properties.


Motels, as is our wont in the summer. Work blog around 12:30, Tumblr around noonish or so - see you then!


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