In retrospect, when the TV brand is DYNEX, it gives you a hint which of your appliances will expire in sequence. After the failure of the power supply for the second monitor comes the failure of the basement TV, which decided not to power on today. It worked. And then it did not work. Something failed in the darkness, in the middle of the night - or, more likely, failed the second a joule of juice was applied. I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE and it snapped.

I will not miss it. I hated that TV. It’s odd to have strong emotions about such things, even though I never watched it, but it was cheap and muddy. HD: hah. Store brand for Best Buy. It served its purpose, which was to show pictures to the women in the house as they ran on the treadmill. The end result, however, is that I will never buy a Best Buy house brand again. I assume they know that, and expect that mining the low-end market is better strategy than encouraging repeat business.

Went to Target with the Giant Swede to get a TV. The space in the basement wall is 32 inches wide, which would suggest I get a 32 inch TV. Right? Right. There were five such options, ranging from $199 to $299. Brands were Samsung, Westinghouse, Phillips, and Vizio.

“They’re all the same screen, aren’t they?” I said to the clerk.

He nodded. “Same screen. Different guts.”

So it’s a matter of reliability, and whether I believe that the Samsung is better than the Westinghouse. I almost wanted to buy the Westinghouse, because, well, Westinghouse. That great old logo on the front. It spoke of trust and reliability and American know-how and for all I know the brand was sold to someone who resells crap. But the logo!

The cheapest, at $199, was a Samsung. I have a larger Samsung and find it a commendable TV - sharp and responsive. The most expensive was also a Samsung. Why?

“This model is being discontinued,” he said, meaning it had been. It was replaced by the 1080 model.

“You don’t need 1080 for this,” he said. “This screen, this size, you’re not going to notice.”

And so it came to pass that me, who had cursed myself for buying the cheap TV, bought the cheap TV. But it was a Samsung, and that was a Name I Could Trust.

When I got my first wide-screen TV in 2000, it took two men to bring it into the house. It took two men to move it to Jasperwood, where it sits in a cabinet in the living room, watched on occasion, used as a Wii monitor. It is so heavy I cannot get rid of it - but it’s also a very good set, and after all these years still produces a wonderful picture. It’s a Panasonic, a brand I trusted because it was the Cool Brand when I was in high school and college. They were eclipsed in my heart by Sharp, of all things; for a brief period in the 80s, Sharp was the Apple of consumer design, turning out great electronic toys in striking colors with interesting buttons, and often that’s enough. Hell, usually, that’s enough.

Anyway: I was able to bring the TV into the house using one hand. It was that light. Took the old piece-of-crap-Dynex out of the hole in the corner cabinet; that required two hands, because the three-year-old TV was heavier. Assembled the stand for the new one and put it in the cabinet.


Wife comes downstairs, takes a look, winces. Hmmmm.

Is that the same size?

It’s the same size screen.

It looks smaller.

It is. The housing around the screen was bigger. This one is just . . . all screen.

And because of this it looked alone and naked and forlorn. Now: the corner unit is oddly shaped, and it’s possible I can get a larger TV in there, but the edge of the housing may be hidden behind the wood. In fact, I told my wife, a few millimeters of the screen would be behind the cabinet frame.

“That’s okay.”

I wanted to rear back as if I had heard thunder strike and horses neigh in fright. What monster have I married? That’s okay? I wouldn’t be able to sleep in this house again.

Back to Target tomorrow. We’ll see how this plays out. Stay tuned.

It occurred to me that I should give you some inside views at the paper before it’s gone. We move out in three weeks. Here’s something you cannot possibly identify, but it will be cool for a few of you.

Someone sat here back when this was the newsroom. And this was the view from his desk:


Clifford Donald Simak (August 3, 1904 – April 25, 1988) was an American science fiction writer. He was honored by fans with three Hugo Awards and by colleagues with one Nebula Award. The Science Fiction Writers of America made him its third SFWA Grand Master and the Horror Writers Association made him one of three inaugural winners of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement.

That's where he sat and those were the windows out of which he looked. I'll bet he nodded to David Neill at the cafeterial, or worked with him. And why does that matter? We'll get to that.



And now . . .

Today's box-related movie tie-in should be rather obvious. It is somewhat dubious to assert that Finian was uninterersted in gold until the pot - a study device with a handle - was replaced by a corrugated box, but Hindy knows what she's talking about.

Finian was not a leprechaun, by the way. Og was the leprechaun.



As noted last week, I have reached the last few inches of patience with Brick Bradford.

This is a serial that went to the moon and ran out of juice after six episodes. So now they get into the Time Top and go back to Central America in the past to get science documents hidden in . . .

In the last cliffhanger Brick and his pal were about to be burned alive, but they slipped their ropes and escaped. Then they met up with the buccaneer who has the treasure, in the jungle - which looks nothing like a Central American jungle. They have to dig, and I'm guessing the very-much-a-genuine-Inca-princess doesn't like what they're doing.

Last week I thought she would fall in love with Brick, but no. Brief pause on the actress, who you'd think would have gone on to better tigns, since she's got a classic look. Dig this:

Minnesota-born Noel Neill's ambition was to be a journalist like her father, the editor of a Minneapolis newspaper. However, she was hired by Bing Crosby to sing at the Turf Club at the race track in Del Mar, California.

There's a step missing there, no? Indeed:

In 1938, Noel and her mother drove from Minnesota to California, visiting relatives along the way, until they finally reached Hollywood. They stayed with a friend of a Minneapolis neighbor who happened to be a musician. Finding that Noel was a singer, he arranged for her to audition for a job singing at the Del Mar racetrack. She was hired and started immediately.

Second favorite WW2 pin-up after Grable. She ended up playing Lois Lane in the TV show, so her dad must have been happy she got into the newspaper business after all. Still alive at 95.

Anyway. Brick is digging something to get the treasure. Too bad she stole Brick's Zippo.

BEST CLIFFHANGER EVER if they actually turn up dead in the next one; that seemed rather definitive.

But of course:

Yeah. Well, it's back into the Time Top to go home. Surely that'll be smooth sailing.


This one reintroduces the Gang of Crooks, because guys in suits are much more interesting than going to the Moon, or time travel. They're still back at the Science hack. Let's just cut to the end, when the lead Crook decides to use Dr. Tyvak's Atomic Missile Interceptor Beam on the Time Top, which apparently flies through space while it travels.

Well, kaboom? By Atom Ray? They're dead. They have to be dead. Or at least TRAPPED IN TIME. Who can rescue them? Adam Smith:

Let's see if they escaped the beam! I seriously doubt it! That seemed conclusive and definitive!

Hey, that briliant professor Brick was supposed to protect - how's he doing?

Oh. Well, once Brick is back and the Time Top device has been abandoned along with the Moon Portal, we get back to the serious work of fistfights, as Brick tries to free all the people who are tied up. (Everyone in serials gets tied up at some point.) Also, since he's working on behalf of the government with the express duty of keeping Professor Xavier safe, maybe he should have shot all the crooks when he had the chance? Before they shoot him? Not that we expect that to happen, of course. That would be too conclusive.

Oh. Well! More to come. In compressed form.

That's all, except of course it's not: sci-fi covers! Too bad one isn't a Simek.


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