Favorite thing I learned today, in a review of a book about forgotten writers: “Even more pitiable may be the case of Hans Kafka, who found that everything he wrote — including ‘the grotesque story of a beetle who is transformed into a man’ — was completely overshadowed by the work of his neighbor Franz (no relation).”

I don’t know what’s more interesting: that there might be more to that story, or that there isn’t.


Work up to the gunwales, and by that I mean “my ears.” I am sure actual gunwales are higher than my ears, but “work up to my ears” is less evocative, more mundane. Even though no one really knows what gunwales are. I don’t. Off the top of my head, which would be about five to six inches above my ears, I’d say they’re part of a ship, possibly where the barrels of the cannons stick out. Let’s look it up, because it’s easier to write about this than anything else.

Close, but not really. “The upper edge of the side of a boat or ship.” The Wale is “a plank running along the side of a wooden ship, thicker than the usual planking, and strengthening and protecting the hull.” Which would sound like the part where the guns are, no? Do I have to google pictures of old ships? Sigh. Let’s google Man O’War.

Search returns pictures of the famous horse. Also a ship. No gunwales. Search for that and I get canoes, which I do not believe were ever used in famous nautical combat. One shot of the cannon and you’d flip right over. So I’m wrong, then.

But I have 200 words, and I’d like to give you 700. I have 950 to write for the column tonight, due early because Thanksgiving blows a bit hole in the latter part of the week. Daughter has no school on Wednesday, and there’s nothing a kid likes better than a two-day school week and a five-day weekend. It’s all a smear of obligations to me, but that’s adulthood. There is, however, the promise of a fine bourbon on Friday, and that is adulthood as well.

Like half the internet, I’m listening to “Serial.” I was under the impression it was about a serial murder for some strange reason, but it’s about one murder, serialized. It’s a nice piece of radio, if long, but two things annoy me: A) the Mail Chimp ad, where someone - a non-native speaker, I presume - can’t pronounce Chimp. I may also be prejudiced about the Mail Chimp ad because their logo is cute cheerful chimp, and I don’t like monkeys. They’re always up to something. <pilkington> Do we need them, is all I’m saying. </pilkington> B) The precious plinking music, which sounds tip-toe cute, as if they think I’m settling into an overstuffed chair with a mug of tea.

Really. It just says “oh, look! Crime! Let’s be long-form and slightly off-center about it.”

I also don’t think there will be any resolution. Any final answer. If that’s the case, then this really is a big tease: intrepid, curious reporters investigate a murder whose maddening inconsistencies left some unsolved questions, and discover in the end that it was a murder whose maddening inconsistencies left some unsolved questions. That’s often the case, I imagine. Murder is messy and memory is imperfect. No one seems to mention, at least as far as I’ve heard, that there might be some relation between the various participants’ weed consumption and their hazy recollections.

Went to the new Walgreens with daughter andher friend tonight. It’s in an old car dealership that was part of the community for decades, but decamped for the ‘burbs a while back. Walgreens was across the street for years, having shown up with murder in its eye for the old Rexall across the street. When I moved back to Minneapolis in 1994 the Rexall was dying, and didn’t put up much of a fight. It had a shelf of small glass figurines, as if they were staking their entire future on a sudden influx of elderly women. There was a pharmacist in the back, and I know I’m going insane because when I just thought of the pharmacist’s counter I saw William Schallert standing back there in a white uniform, smiling kindly. (He’s still alive, by the way. Wikipedia says “As with many character actors with long careers, Schallert's face is more recognizable than his name.” But I’ve known him for decades because he was in Star Trek.)

Anyway, the Rexall perished, which was probably karmic payback for a mom-and-pop place they put out of business in 1957. Walgreens put up a store with 90s-style design: parking lot in the front, building in the back. Thanks! Nice way to bleed off the energy of the intersection, what with the gas station across the street and the similarly situated building cattywumpus or kitty-corner or whatever you want to call it. Now it’s empty, and everyone is wondering what will occupy the space.

Well, not everyone. Well, no, probably everyone, but it’s not as if locals wander around with a distracted look on their face like they’re trying to puzzle out the possibilities. A bakery? It could work, but the space seems too large, unless they have a substantial seating area. But that would suggest they serve sandwiches as well, because people aren't going to sit around and just eat bread. Unless it's one of those places that serves seven-dollar toast.

Hey! 929 words. Here’s a picture of a dog on some cushions.



Remember what happened before? Doesn't matter.

When we left the Batman, he was trapped in a building on fire. However did he escape? Well, that would be a good question if the flaming wreckage had fallen on him, but it didn’t. He wasn’t out of the woods, of course; there was stock footage to battle.

After he gets out, it’s back to the Sphinx Club, where the criminals gather conspicuously without fear of detection. No one’s there, so Batman can look around for the good liquor:

He finds a secret passage, which is a good excuse for a fistfight. We see the perils of fighting while wearing a cape, which really isn’t a wise idea.

It’s that last move that cracks me up. Once he has punched the guy unconscious, he drags him to the bat cave and demands to know where Linda Page is. He doesn’t know. The viewer may also be wondering: they have Linda? Oh, right, back at the warehouse in its pre-flame state. Well, the thug says they'd better not go to the Bell Street house, and the viewer may be wondering: what’s at the Bell Street house? Seriously, that was ten episodes ago. That’s over two months. Can’t we have villains now? Can’t we have ray guns?



Yes, the dreaded Radium gun is back. While they’re discussing the matter, some henches show up to describe how they eliminated their nemesis:

This is actually rather clever. The bad guys believe there are multiple Batmen, because they keep killing them and they keep reappearing. (The second from the right isn’t responding because he is the Uncle who was Zombified.)

Down into the basement dungeon, where Linda Page is brought to the lair. (“A Jap!” she says when she meets our evil nemesis. He says he prefers “Nipponese,” which is understandable.) He wants her to set up a meet with her fiancé, Bruce Wayne, to discuss . . . bats. Whereupon she says “you think he’s the Batman” in a way that doesn’t indicate she thinks it’s ridiculous, likely, certain, or a confirmation of distant suspicions. To make her comply the Evil Japanese Supervillain brings out Zombie Uncle, which makes her cry. Since this scene has exhausted all dramatic possibilities, we go to the house on Bell Street, where Batman and Robin are finding the barely-concealed entrance to the Lair.

Where, of course, there’s this:

“It is a permanent wave machine of my own design.” No, he doesn’t say that, because he’s interrupted when Batman trips a hidden switch and reveals his presence. He’s trapped in the antechamber. Trapped!

And so we have my favorite moment in the entire serial:

Annnnnd this is how you end a serial. Immiment perforation and mad-scientist cackling!

Don't miss the next thrilling chapber: the Executioner Strikes of Batman!





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