This day was . . . fun. Work, did a video, had a deadline jacked up on me four days in advance, did the caucus, and now here I am with this. Let's go.

I got a package the other day, and was confused. There wasn't anything on order. (Or, as the New Yorkers say, in order.) It was a cord. (Sorry, no, the Yawkers don't say that, but they do say "on line" as opposed to "in line," and while that's one of those charming regional variations that makes America the vibrant multifaceted diamond of linguistic diversity that it is, it's wrong. Think of it: if you're standing in line, you are the line. The line is what you are in. You are standing on the floor. In the line. Okay? Okay.) I didn't recognize the cord, and consulted the folded piece of paper. It was in German. Turned it over - ah. English. It said that I was the owner of a MacBook, and the power cord was likely to fail, according to tests and reports. This would be a replacement. Thank you.

No, thank you - but the cord hadn't failed. Nice to know they were thinking ahead. I put the cord in the closet and went on with life.

Three days later, I plugged in my MacBook, and the familiar Bong! indicating charging was underway did not sound. I jiggled the cord. Nothing. Went up to the closet, got the cord, plugged it in. Bong!

Wow: that's customer service. And I couldn't help imagine all the backstory and meetings and memos and phone calls behind this simple exchange. Reports from the field: high failure rate in the cord. Who supplies the cord? Uh - this factory, Sxhcehua Industrial District, Xin Hua Inc. Get them on the line.

Now imagine you're the guy who has to take that call. You sent out some cords. Big order, very big. Most important client. No one wants to disappoint Apple. You're in your office, perhaps looking through a window at the factory floor, and you're waiting for the Apple guy to come to the phone. Maybe the head of the factory cut a corner. Maybe a supplier cut a corner. Maybe there was an error in the manufacturing process, a fatal flaw the computers couldn't check. This isn't the end, you think, it's not the end, there are other contracts, but you have just failed Apple.

There will be no more business from Apple. Why should they come back for another order? Factories are running at 65% capacity now. Better factories can bid and promise higher quality. Your brother has a friend at the company that makes cement mixers; they have 200 trucks in the parking lot, waiting to be sold. Everyone knows that everything has been slowing for a year. Everything is slowing everywhere. Life seems like the moment before a great airborne firework explodes - there's the bright cry of ignition, the fast fizz into the heavens, and then . . . silence for a second, a moment that hangs in the air savoring the inevitability of detonation, a moment that is important only because it gives the loud flower of fire its dramatic entrance. This is that silent moment.

APPLE IS ON LINE ONE says the receptionist.

Then there's the smiling face of the man whose factory will make the replacements: of course we can have them by the date you desire. We appreciate your confidence and look forward to the ways in which we can work together

There's the guys who load them into trucks and the guys who load them into cargo containers and the guys who do the opposite when they hit this shore. There's the low-wage workers who staple the multilingual instruction sheets and stuff them in the envelope. (Nevermind the people who had to write the text, and nevermnd the low-level legal that to sign off on it; these people regarded it all as an annoyance beneath their attention.) Finally, the mailman who left it on my porch.

That's the story of one long piece of plastic, which I replaced without problems or interruption to my day or workflow. But there was one, or two people at least who spent sleepless nights over this, wondering how bad it would get, scraped by worry.

So thanks, guys. Hope you came out okay.


Back to my favorite museum /antique store . . .


Pearson's is a local company - someone should snap it up. I wonder how deep their corporate archives are.



It's one of the finest candy bars you'll ever had. No chocolate. A core of stiff nougat, a thick layer of peanuts held together by caramel - oh, man, it's good. And a Minnesota original. If ever you're in our airport, buy one. Or five.

Another tableau of found art:

Who would make that head and keep it?

Who would find it in a relative's attic and think it was worth saving?

Who would buy it?




And now, a new serial! The titlecard alone gives us great hopes:

Stabby credits, with the same strange TERROR-SOAKED typeface:

Let's just go straight to the fun.


He wants to get his hands on a device designed to detect and repel an atomic bomb attack. The Crimson Ghost wants to steal it, because it would make him the most powerful man in the world.




But it's not his real face. He tells his henchmen he's a member of the Scientific Community, a role he will use to steal the device. Here it is, and take special note! This device will be an integral part of all future episodes!


Hah. As you know, we'll forget about it in four eps. To test the device, Dr. Richards launches the decoy plane to be blown up by remote control. It's rather realistic, which just serves to remind the audience that all the flying stuff is probably models, too.

Hmm: a Lovely Assistant; wonder if we'll see more of her. Watch her eyes:


So it's the Sonic Fartulator, then. That's Dr. Richards, and I assume he will be the hero. After the demonstration, two henchmen show up to take the Fartulator; the good scientist throws it in the corner, wrecking a perfectly good prop. The hench take the scientist away so he can build another, but our intrepid hero-scientist shows up, and man, who needs the Rocketeer?

It's a hell of a fight:

Slip 'n' Slide fightin':


Anyway, the scientist ends up getting captured, and the Crimson Ghost fits him with a collar that makes him a slave, and also kills him if anyone else removes it. He really is a creepy sort of fellow.

So we've had no sequence of explosions to indicate a reign of terror now joined in progress, but it doesn't matter; just the face is enough to set the mood. I mean, gah:


The Crimson Ghost discovers that there's a second device, and sends his henchs & the Zombified captive scientist to get it; Our Hero interrupts for a fistfight so brutal two out of three hats do not stay on. He chases the bad guys, so we have a running gun battle. Then they remember hey, we have a device that can blow up planes from great distances. So:

Pretty sure we've seen that before, but who cares? A modest start, but a good one. I think we're in for the duration.






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