Called the dealership to cancel a service appointment. Of course I called the service number. Why wouldn't you call the service number for service? It’s right there on the website. SALES is one number. SERVICE is another.

The SERVICE number is answered by a recording, which gives me three options. Sales, Something or other that is not Service and hence does not stick in my brain, and SERVICE. Huh: here I thought I called the SERVICE number, but well, we’re certainly on the right track now, aren’t we?

They pick up right away. Great! Lupient Chevrolet, how may I direct your call?

Er - service.

Juuust a moment.

Hold music. Christmas music. Apparently we need a little Christmas right now. Just this very moment. Never liked that song; it’s anxious and a little desperate. A voice interrupts, but I can tell it’s not someone answering the call. It’s a young lady who has a song in her heart about their five-dollar-over-cost tire pricing. Then it’s back to the music. Then a male voice reminds me that my call is very important to them, all evidence thus far to the contrary, and tells me I can wait or press 0 to return to the operator.

I listen to another song and hear about the tires a few more times. Finally, it RINGS in that sudden way that makes you marshall your statements and prepare to state your case.

But it’s the recorded menu again. I press three right away, because I’m an old hand at this now.

Back to Christmas music and tire enticements. After another song the phone rings. And it rings and rings and rings and rings until it picks up:

Lupient Chevrolet, how may I direct your call?

This is where I say I’ve been bounced around a lot, and could I please just leave a message for SERVICE? She is sympathetic because she says they’re pretty busy down there. I describe my exact situation, starting with how the SERVICE number goes to the main number, and tell her that she might want to let an overlord know about this.

“That does sound strange,” she says, adding, “I just started here.”

Meaning: she won’t say a word about it. Boat-rocking and all that. They might think she was doing something wrong. I assure her I didn’t think she set it up, but if she picks up the phone and people sound a little steamed, well, there you go.

I hang up and realize it would have been faster to drive to the place and cancel in person.

This strange knee-capped holiday season stumbles on, with nightly reports from my wife in AZ. Updates on the father-in-law’s struggle. Just me and daughter and dog - odd how it seems like it’s just us, even though that’s the majority of the household.

But the season must be observed. I put up more lights on the tree to replace the ones hard-wired to the artificial branches; I draped some ribbon over it, the type with a double spine of wire, and added some nice simulacra of stringed cranberries. No decorations. I’ll do that tomorrow. . Since it’s not a family event, with hot cider and Christmas songs (from the DirecTV box, usually modern and unconvincing, with the inevitable appearance of my least favorite song, “We Need a Little Christmas” - there’s something anxious and desperate about it) and stories told as the ornaments come out of the box, it doesn’t seem important to put it all up at once. I completely understand now my dad’s reaction to not putting up the tree the last few years, even though “Putting it up” meant picking it up from the basement storage room and moving it to the living room. It was a small tree. They get smaller as you do the same.

Scout was fascinated by all of the things I brought up, partly because it meant access to the Forbidden Room where the food is kept. (While my wife is away I decided to completely clean out the storage closet, an annual job of misery and indecision that always ends up with boxes of books I swear I will take to the store that buys these things - but I never do, because I hate to do it. I just hate to walk up with a box of stuff and ask for a price. Because it’s out of my way and requires time and this year, no. It’s all going to the Goodwill.) When I opened one of the boxes he stuck his nose in, rooting around; I told him to desist and went upstairs to array some decorations. When I came back down he was sitting with his muzzle on the floor, looking up, a tiny Christmas stocking by his nose.


It was Jasper’s stocking.


Monday night we sped off to an audition for a play; daughter has been bitten by the Theater Bug again. I walked around the building and took some photos of the romantic decreptitude:

They made fire doors.

When she came out she had a big smile: made the first cut, callback tomorrow. Joy! And hunger: we sped to Dinkytown to get something to eat, and I regaled her of tales of Yore, of the days when Dinkytown was . . . different than it is now. Heed me, my child, for I shall tell tales of men who sat on cold concrete benches outside Burger King, yea, smoking into the night and - well, more of an aggregate bench, really; that type of material with the rocks all mixed up in it, but it’s smooth? Right. From there we could watch people going in and out of the House of Hanson, a convenience store of little charm, or enjoy the night air while our laundry was dizzied in the tubs and bins across the street, enjoying the fresh air before we returned, as we always did, as we were seemingly deeded by fate to do without relief, down to the smoky cave of the Valli below, where pinball and video games and beer of remarkable weakness awaited.

There’s much that’s still the same in Dinkytown, but the new apartment complexes are enormous and give the place a vitality we would have loved in the old time - except that there’s something about living in cut-up old houses, in drafty flats, in ancient apartment buildings with pipes that clang as though elves are forging the Rhinegold in the basement. It would be amusing if she ended up living in Dinkytown. More so if she got a job at the place that occupies the old Valli’s space.

No, no. The whole wide world, and she walks down my narrow ruts? That’s what makes people stay where they’re born. On the other hand, it was the most instructive period of my life: relatively hard work, dirty work - you cleaned up tables, spent a stint as a pearl diver, worked the grill, took out trash, mopped up vomit and spilled beer, emptied cheap ashtrays that had twenty butts and enough ash to blanket Pompeii, AND you went to school AND you belonged to a tribe of servers at a particular place and time.

I look back fondly because I’ve forgotten all the unhappiness. Time is kind that way. Or the brain has a built-in erase function for vague sorrow and youthful melancholy. Or it puts it in a storage facility and throws it away after ten years when you don’t come back to claim it.


Product Yulfication! Aka how bags and boxes are redesigned for the Red and Green Festive Interval.

Today it's Seasonal Bread with a ribbon of seasonal flavor that reminds you of anthropomorphic cookies with an indistinct backstory. He was self-aware, right?




<majelbarettvoice> And now . . . the conclusion. </majelbarettvoice>

When last we saw Batman, he had lost a fistfight - again, of course - and put into a box which we later saw dumped into a pit with an alligator. so he’s dead? Rewind:

Batman uses technology, for once; he taps out a message on his Bat Telegraph about his location, including the helpful words “in box.” Robin steps in, and as usual, he’s put a lot of thought into it. Quiet now Stealth is of the essence!



Of course, that was his plan all along. Always rely on a guy who’s been beaten and kept in a crate to provide the element of surprise.

Batman, in an act of commendable cold-bloodedness, puts the unconscious hench into the box and lets him get taken to the Lair of the Evil Japanese Genius-Crook.

“Got the box, boss,” says one hench.

“No, let the Zombies do it,” boss replies. Because what’s the point of having zombies around if you can’t have them throw boxes full of Batmen into an alligator pit. They soon learn it was “Wallace,” one of the interchangeable incompetents who are helping the New Order, and figure it was just desserts. That is what you get for failing to kill the Batman. Of course, that description fits everyone in the room who didn’t shoot him when they had a chance, but decided to leave his unconscious body on the ground and drop a heavy object on his head from three floors above, or push him down an elevator shaft, or leave him in a burning building, and so on. These guys never close the deal.

Batman, Robin, and Alfred go back to the Lair, which they now know is the Lair, and they are followed by G-Men and police and all sorts of government muscle, right? They storm the place, guns blazing, and capture a vast treasure-trove of intel, right? No, of course not. Batman, who has been entrusted with this mission by the government, sends his elderly butler to create diversion. Once they get into the carnival-ride attraction that fronts for the Lair, one of the guards spots them, and shoots them both! Or rather starts a fistfight, which he loses.

Back at the Lair HQ, the Japanese Super-Genius is talking about a final plan to exterminate the Batman, and he’s talking to all the guys who failed to kill him before. Plus Zombies. While he’s entertaining suggestions, guess who shows up at the Lair’s front door?



Given the level of help he has, it's probably wise not to request they kill him. They'd go out and buy a safe and winch up on the rafters and drop it on his head. There’s a fistfight, which Batman wins, because it’s the last ep in the serial. But he’s taken by Zombies, which provides a face-to-face revelation:


The zombies take Batman down to the “Electronic Laboratory.” Where he’s electrocuted! Immediately! With twice the lethal dose! No, they put him in the “Zombie Chair,” and then Linda Page and her Uncle are brought out in Zombie form to provide closure for everyone, I guess. Just in case you haven’t gotten the point about the bad guy yet:

Hee hee! Then Robin shows up and subdues Dakar the Evil Japanese Genius.

So victory, after 15 episodes, is due to Robin.

Next comes some dezombification of Linda, according to Dakar’s instructions, because why would he be anything other than cooperative?

Meanwhile, Batman is starting to reveal the physique of a 75-year-old man in a Florida retirement community:

Looking through Dakar’s records, Batman discovers a note that said the Uncle was framed of a crime, which wraps up that plot. The one no one cared about. While they’re slapping each other on the back, the Evil Genius frees himself and takes Linda Grey hostage. Uh oh.


Well, any button will do, I guess. Again: ROBIN saves the day. And look at Batman’s wide stance when the cops show up:

Like he did anything but get knocked out fourteen times. Anyway, remember all those great scenes from the modern Batman movies when someone turns away, then turns around and Batman is gone? Ever wondered how that worked?

All in all, low-budget, cheesy, unbelievable, and juvenile. In other words, a serial. In other words, great fun.

More in 2015!

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