Two interviews with insurance investigators. In both cases I had difficulty - or rather, the interviewer had difficulty understanding exactly what happened, because I was turning left from the center lane. The conversation went like this:

“So . . . you were turning left.”

“Right. Er, correct.”

And you were in the left hand lane.

“Yes, although it wasn’t the outer left-hand lane. It was the center lane, which also turned left.”

“The center lane turned left.”

“Right. Er, correct.”

Trained myself to say Correct eventually; you’d think I would know from my vast courtroom experience. (Which consists of watching Judge Judy. It seems everyone is told to say “correct,” because people from disparate walks of life all use the term.) (It should also be noted that the tables where the plaintiff and defendants stand have a pitcher of water and glasses, and should anyone use them, JJ snaps at them for using them. Just to keep the proper level of terror, I suppose.)

After the first interview concluded - it was taped, with all sorts of disclaimers about being taped, consenting to being taped, being aware that it shortly would not be taped - the investigator said they would continue to investigate for purposes of sebregation. I had never heard the word before, and stopped her right there to ask what this meant. She seemed surprised I did not know. I seemed surprised that she seemed surprised. I wanted to say “I’ve been listening to Johnny Dollar, America’s Fabulous Free-lance Insurance Investigator for years, and he never used the phrase.” Makes you realize how little insurance lingo was in the show, apart from “policy” and “covered.” I mean, Johnny never gets embroiled in romance and fisticuffs over the matter of a deductible.

BTW: there’s a new series of encodes of the show at, including the post-Bob-Bailey ones, and you get windburn from how fast the quality dropped off. Mandell Kramer played the character differently - older, slower, more thoughtful - and while he does a good read, it’s not the same. Without Bailey it was just a mystery show. (Lots of interesting music cues, though; we’ll get to those next month in LISTEN.) (Yes, I’ve laid out the pages through the middle of February.) Between for and Kramer there was Bob Readick, who left almost no biographical trace. He played the role fro six months, and must have been happy to get the role: things are looking up! Steady work! Then bounced for Kramer. Just a footnote now, but if you’re a footnote a half century after you played a role, that’s not bad. A handhold on the Cliff of Oblivion, sure, but it’s something.

Anyway. Took the car to the garage. The estimator gave it a once-over, made lots of notes, came back inside and addressed the issue of sebregation. Again with this word. I said I’d never heard of the word before today and now I’d heard it twice.

Went home; worked; got a phone call from my investigator. Went through the story again. I asked her if we were going to talk about . . . oh, what was the word. Disambiguation? Disembiggening? She didn’t know what I was talking about.

It has to do with the other party paying my deductible.

Oh! Sebregation!

Right, right, sebregation, and the heartbreak of psoriasis. (She laughed at that, which nailed her age.)

Then came the phone call from the people who are picking up wife’s old car to give it to veterans. They wanted to get some information to make sure this was a legitimate request, and told me I would get a call from the resellers soon.

Resellers? The brokers. The people who fixed the value of the car for the auction. Auction?

I had the idea that the car was going to be handed to a veteran, but apparently they sell it and use the money to buy cars - or something. It’s a charity and I get a tax deduction whatever they do. The conversation was quick and pleasand and she said I would be getting another call to confirm.

What’s this call, then?

To confirm, but then we hand it off to the resellers and they confirm the tow-truck pickup.

Okay. Fine. The confirming confirming call came the next morning, and a motormouth guy read the information, including my address. (To confirm.) He pronounced the street in such a way that indicated the presence of a vowel that should not have been there, since it would turn the short A into a long one, and if the tow-truck driver googled it, he might have problems. I interrupted the boilerplate to correct the spelling, which seemed to irritate the guy. This happened again when he blasted through the next paragraph and said they were now handing this off to the towing company would would call beforehand and may come today although it is scheduled for tomorrow noon to four which is when they are likely to arrive.

“What was that about coming today?”

“I have to say that. They are scheduled for tomorrow.” And then he reads the entire paragraph again, including the phrase about possibly coming today, and goes on to the next paragraph, and I interrupt him again and say “if they come today I won’t be here.”

“Sir,” he says with irritation, “they will not come today. I have to say that for legal reasons.”

I wanted to say “well, it doesn’t make any sense at all. If they’re not coming today then don’t say it,” but he was mad at me. During the call someone else beeped in; went to voice mail. Called it back after I was done with Speedy McBoilerplate, and got someone who was . . . calling to confirm the pickup by tow-truck. Same office, I guess. Working down a list. To her I was as pleasant and merry as humanly possible, in case Speedy had got off the phone and damned my eyes for being a persnickety, literal jerk. Really? I just talked to him. Nice guy!

Then the phone rang from the garage. They had the parts and I could come in tomorrow to drop off the car.

So there we are. Next step: SEGBREGATERATIONING!

I thought that was the end of the phone calls, but later someone from an unknown number rang. It was someone from Barbizon Modeling Agency following up on a card your daughter filled out, indicating her interest in modeling, acting, and movies? We were invited to an event at blah blah blah would I be interested?

She filled out that form at least three years ago, I said.

Okay! Is she still interested?

When we were at the Mall last weekend when the Barbizon booth was set up she said walk away and don’t make eye contact.

Okay thank you!

Short and clear and sad, a flare sent up in the dark:

You suspect they knew.

Nowadays this would be 200 texts and a restraining order.




Presenting your thrilling adventure for the next three months . . . maybe.

My interest in this serial can be explained by a site I did in the late 90s, I think. Worst Comics. There was this guy:

The Met-Al Mo-Nst-ER! They got 342 strips out of this story line. Wikipedia:

Brick Bradford was a space opera/adventure story, resembling such comics as Skyroads, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon with its tales of dinosaurs, intergalactic villains, robots and subatomic worlds.

The usual. It's forgotten now, entirely. But for a few decades it was a name kids knew, and so fans of all ages were thrilled when he was brought to the screen in serial form in 1947. Updated, too:


We first meet him in his PJs, after he's been wrestling with sidekick Sandy as a late-night prank.


The phone rings! It’s an important visitor. Dr. Clausen. This must mean he is an eminent scientist. Or he’s David Lynch:

He’s a highly respected scientist for the United Nations, and he wants to enlist Brick’s help. They can’t talk in the house, though. Best to go outside and talk in the car with the windows down. During the conversation some enemy agents show up and there’s a fistfight, and the quality of the print makes it look like two black bears covered with tar wrestling in a cave.

Brick wins, because it’s the first ep of the serial and early in the first chapter; the doctor declines to pursue the bad guys, because it is more important that they continue the conversation. “Perhaps we had best go inside.” Where it was unsafe before. Okay.

The scientist reveals that another eminent scientist, Dr. Tymak, is developing a ray beam that can intercept atomic rockets. Unfortunately it can also be used for destructive purposes.

Does every serial have a death ray? Apparently it’s in the code.

Off they all go to Dr. Tymak’s house - Brick, Sandy his comic sidekick, the love interest June to provide sex and peril, and a doddering professor pal who will provide technobabble.

We meet Dr. Tymak:

He says the beam’s working great, and will continue to do as long as . . .


Oh boy. That’s six episodes right there, but at least it’s something new. Spaceships! Rockets! Blasting off! Or not: the Dr. has also invented a means of traveling through Space and Time. The Crystal Door.

I hope they didn’t blow the entire budget on this.

Meanwhile, at the usual abandoned cabin, the usual anonymous criminal elements are taking orders from Headquarters concerning the theft of the ray. Here are the bad men.

You see, the United Nations is very concerned about this death-ray / interceptor beam that will completely change the balance of power, and hence have set him up out in the woods with a mere electric fence and a fellow with an alliterative name to keep him safe.

Of course the bad guys storm the compound, but not before Tymak gets into the Crystal Door. I like the cut of this guy’s jib, even if his invention works by playing the opening credits of “The Honeymooners” backwards:

He makes it safely to the moon, which has atmosphere and gravity, because they can’t afford space suits.

Hold on, he might not be alone. No, that’s nonsense. Life? On the Moon? Preposterous.

Yes, that’s Vultura from the Captain Video serial. Wouldn’t mistake that barrel gut for anyone else.

It’s off to the Ruler’s Chamber:

A bitchy queen, a mustachioed advisor, a bald scientist who insists he’s from earth and wants to know why they all speak such good English: I think we’re in good hands here. But where’s the cliffhanger?

One of the bad guys, disguised as a scientist, decides to show Brick the Death Ray, and says “go stand over there.” Brick and Sandy oblige.

Oh no! Since it’s obvious that knee injuries sustained in previous adventures made it impossible to kneel, however will they escape?

The audition continues next week.


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