The last thing I want to do tonight is listen to mournful Peruvian pan-flute music punctuated by eagle screams. That is what I remember from calling DirecTV customer service back in the olden times, when I had problems. Haven't had them for a long, long time, but after the first snow of the year - minor, all things considered - the reception was lost, and crew after crew had to come over and tweak the dish. Eventually they decided it was too close to an exhaust vent; condensation was freezing. So they moved it. Problem solved for years. But now the signal is out and I have the usual hapless futile emotions: I do not want to call. I know there is nothing they can do. I do not want to sit in front of the TV and look at Azmuth numbers.

They've made it easier to get no satisfaction, though; I just call and say "711" or whatever the error code is, and I'm routed to someone who asks if I've turned it on and off again.

An argument for cable, I suppose, except COMCAST looms like the staring eye of Sauron. It doesn't mean there's nothing to watch. Heavens no. I'm missing "Fargo," but I'll find it somewhere later. I could turn on the Fire and watch "Man in the High Castle," but that's saved for later. I could turn on Netflix and watch any number of series or movies or documentaries. A few nights ago I stumbled on a doc about the making of Blondie's "Parallel Lines," which reminded you what a knockout Debbie Harry was, informed you how much the producer shaped the album, brought back the days of late punk / New Wave and the endless nights slinging beer and popcorn at the Valli Pub while "Heart of Glass" played, and so on. Ms. Harry had little to add to the contemporary sequences; there was something about her that suggested "Garbo struck by lightning and thereafter never quite the same." It's always amusing to see the amount of care and artifice that goes into something you regarded as raw and primal - at least the rock / roll songs on the album. "Heart of Glass" was Moroder-influenced disco-thump, but we forgave it, just as people forgave "Rapture." Because it was catchy. I never forgave them for "Tide is High," because there's nothing like polishing a bar at 3 in the afternoon hearing that dreary piece of ethnological forgery for the ninetieth time.

I could watch one of the new DVDs I got. I order animation in Blu-Ray to see it in all its glory, and in a spasm of Black Friday shopping, I apparently ordered "Shaun the Sheep." It's Aardman, and that's the end of that. StS came along at a peculiar time - Toddler Daughter loved "Wallace and Grommet," but I remember how "Curse of the Were-Rabbit" baffled, and "StS" seemed a bit too subtle compared to the bright stuff she was watching. I felt like I was watching something that was commercially doomed but brilliant, like a silent movie. It's odd how these emotions attach to certain shows at certain times, but it was like the first show I really wanted her to love, and she didn't seem to. Ten years later I have the feature DVD.

But not tonight. There's Deadwood. The DirecTV screen keeps looking for a bird in the sky; the home network might be slow and make Netflix stutter and buffer. You can always count on the old, ancient, bygone methods of entertainment.

A laser-beam reading ones and zeros on a shiny disk. Man, practically an Amber Cylinder.

It's snowed. It snowed a lot, but not eight-to-ten as promised. It was thick, and it's melting now. But it's beginning to look a lot like - oh. Right. Sorry.

I went to see the Industrial Musicals show at the Heights tonight. Did a feature on it for the paper, and had to meet Steve young, the fellow who's bringing these things to a wider, appreciative audience. He has the exact sensibility the project needs: amusement, horror, fascination, affection, and admiration. It's not the "so bad it's good" school, which just revels in lousy krep for the sake of justifying one's own lack of standards, and it's not campy. Is anything still campy? When I wrote the word it was like writing in a dead language.

Anyway: The Industrial Musical is just that - a chipper go-out-there-and-sell-sell-sell! extravangaza that used original tunes (mostly) from top-shelf composers (mostly) and employed the numberless hoofers and chorines in perishable shows for conventions and sales meetings. Quality varies. Big companies poured in lots of money because they were big companies with lots of money. Of course there was the filmed version of "The Bathrooms are Coming," which had previously been known only throught the LP; discovering the filmed version was like finding a complete print of Metropolis in the closet of an abandoned movie theater in Buenos Aires.

The Answer: you imagine writing lyrics and music to these specs.

I'm convinced the speed is too fast - not by much, but enough. The reason? The narration. You have to be of a certain age to understand this, or a student of things inconsequential, but bear with me when I say "there were times when I wasn't sure if the narrator was Mason Reese or William Schallert." Now, it being 197X, it had to be one or the other. But Mason had more gravel than Schallert, and he was pitched a bit too high.

The fellow is John Pleshette, Susanne's cousin. He went on to Knott's Landing. Most of these people didn't seem to go on to anything that big, but it was a job. And then they did something else. Imagine how some of them felt when they got a call about a job they did 35 years ago - you were charming! Lots of people are watching it again. Could I ask you some questions?

Steve's doing great work. Can't wait for the movie.

It's Finn Copyright Trademark Fish, back for another month of non-specific holiday tie-ins. This is for people who hate all the holidays and want no mention of them whatsoever, but are not opposed to recognizing that the weather has changed and the predominate temperature is below the point where water freezes:


For those who want a little more Festive Oomph in their Goldfish BAKED Snack Crackers, we can oblige with some cosplay. Because of course a fish who is made of baked compacted cracker dust would put on reindeer antler and the storied Navigational Aide Nose of Rudolph:


Holiday SHAPES! The TREE is a SHAPE! The TREE SHAPE is a HOLIDAY shape! The Chimney VOMITS them UP!



Flying Disk Man from Mars. Flying Mars Disc Man. Disc Mars Man, Flying. Doesn't matter. It's the same old same old: someone from another planet is trying to take over the earth at the behest of some larger jerkwad we haven't met yet.


To recap: an epicine dillweed has come to earth to conquer it for the Surpeme Leader of Mars, and within two minutes of being shot down by our energy beam, he's found a Quisling who wants to help. Unfortunately for us, it's the inventor of the energy beam. But we have an ally:

Yay Kent! But when last we saw Kent, his car had crashed into a plane! Surely he was dead! No way out of that one!


WOW I DID NOT see that coming. Remember, the Wikipedia entry says that jumping out of vehicles at the last moment is the hallmark of this serial.

After this, it's always talk. This sets up the next Thing the Foes are trying to get, and we'll have to deal with it for three episodes until they find something else. So Kent goes to the Scientist who's secretly in league with the bad guys, to see if he's dealing any uranium. Hey, natural question. And that's as far as he'll take it, because there are never more than 8 people in the entire world of the serial.

Mars Man is ticked:

Oooh, trouble in paradise. Well, they need a new secret base, and the Mars Man has one. Inside a volcano. An active volcano.

Sure, why not. How to get around? In the Mars Mobile:

Kent is flying around in the neighborhood, of course, and radios in a report of a "semi-disk-shaped" vehicle, which promptly engages him in a dogfight. With bullets. Because that's what they have on Mars. And of course Kent, who runs a security service that flies planes around to look for stuff, has a plane with twin guns as well. Kent bails out, and Mars Man says "well, that's the end of him," because he's never seen a serial before.

This, I must admit, is cool. For the age.

The pilot is a henchman, and seems a bit hapless. My favorite moment so far: hench asks "what's this gimmick?"

Okay this guy's nuts, but the money's good.

Turns out the Mars Man and Dr. Quisling want to wreck a train and get its uranium. By some happy turn of fate Kent's employee overhead the phone conversation, and knows exactly where the train wreck is supposed to occur. Of course no authorites are alerted; Kent goes alone, finds the guy who's wiring up the bridge to blow up; fistfight, with hats firmly on throughout. Of course they end up fighting on the tracks. And so:

That's some impressive miniature work. Okay, this one's rote and cheesy - but it's keeping my attention. I think we're in for the long haul. Also because:

She has to do something besides sit behind a desk. PERIL must surely be coming her way. NEXT:

Oh, when doesn't it.

See you hither; thither; yon.


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