I was walking down a dark street and saw the sign: GAMES FOOD AND DRINK. Neon, glowing red, hanging off a big building made of metal siding. Being hungry and thirsty, I thought I'd head in for a bite before continuing on. Where I had come from and where I was bound was forgotten the moment I walked inside.

There were ten pool tables in the enormous room, each under a pool of light. One player, clacking balls into pockets without any joy. Rote work. In the back I could see an aluminum foil tin of grocery-store caramel rolls under a heat lamp.

That was the food.

Next to the heat lamp stood a man I understood to be the owner; smiling. He was surrounded by pinball machines. There must have been twenty. He asked me if I wanted to play pinball, and I said sure, and he steered my by the elbow over to some machines against the wall. The glass was cloudy and the machines were so close together you couldn't get your hands in between them to operate the flipper buttons. He became irritated when I pointed this out, and pushed me another machine - a 1980s Western-themed table that was in the basement of the Valli - and said I could climb up on this stool here and play it looking over the top. But I didn't want to. The playing field was bleached and cracked. I thanked him and moved towards the door, and he began a loud and angry tirade about how much money he and his family had put into this place, they'd bought it from another owner, fixed it up, added all these pinball machines, but no one was coming in, they weren't making any money! How do they expect him to live?

He went from desperate smiles - a customer! Have a sticky bun! - to despairing in a simple minute, and as with the case of all sad retail strangers, you just want to get away. So I did: I woke up.

I had slept five hours. Well, this wouldn't do. Went back to sleep, and now, seven hours later, I can still see the interior of the doomed roadhouse GAMES FOOD AND DRINK, and I'll bet I can see it in a year, if I read this.

Which I won't.

I don't read anything into dreams, except that general daytime moods can influence their flavor sometimes. I don't think they're symbolic, any more than random collections of words are poetry, although sometimes poetry results. (Remember those spam subject matters from ten years ago? Robot-assembled phrases that always had an odd, melancholy aspect.) I think your brain just lights up and the subconscious has to behave like a stage manager who finds himself in the wings as the curtain goes up - the house is packed but there's no play, so he throws costumes at the actors and pushes random scenery on stage and tells everyone to improvise.

It's remarkable, when you think about it: your brain is a fiction writer. The stories start when we anesthetize our selves and let the machinery take over. This is why dreams in novels and movies are never quite convincing; they always seem like stories we would want to be told, but they're never so specific. I dreamed I went back to Mandalay. No, you didn't. You dreamed you went to the circus and it turned into a car show and then you lost your cat.

Re: the BBC show "Happy Valley," mentioned the other day -

I've seen a lot of cop shows in my time, and there's a constant theme: the callousness of the investigating officers when they come across a body. How they react is revelatory - it's what you should know about them, their character, how much the abrasions of the job have planed their hearts smooth. If, for example, the cops are unmoved, it's because they are steeped in the ways of the world. But it's the details, the little revisions, that reveal authorial intent. If the cops are standing around the body of a prostitute who hung herself, and one of them is more concerned with his recent discovery that the other officers have nicknames for him, you'd take that into account. Here's a dead body, and you want to know whether your nickname is laudatory or derisive?

The other cop doesn't say what the nicknames are, and you get that; rookie is asserting himself. But then the rook goes back to the station, relates what it was like to find a dead woman hanging from a tree, and how it was actually interesting (he mimes the protruding tongue) and asks if it's true that their sexual organs are engorged when they die. You'd think: something amiss with this one, too.

Oh, you blinkered soul. This is the sign of a seasoned vet and a curious noviate. Because it was two women who were arguing in front of the dead hanging man, and a young female cop who wanted to know if dead men got boners. They're STRONG. And this turns all the old preconceptions upside down.

I've figured out what intrigues me about "Happy Valley," the BBC cop show whose second season is now running on Netflix. The main character, the Tough-As-Nails female cop with a jaundiced eye, is . . . all of the above, and: emotionally concealed, disdainful of institutional blandishments and double-talk, disinclined to expose herself emotionally to people who think it's their job to sort out fractured psyches, willing to conform to the existing structures to accomplish a job but ready to go outside the structure's boundaries. In the end, a lone wolf.

She is a cliche of male detectives. All of the elements that would be condemned by the critics are celebrated because she's not a man, and hence does not have the baggage those traits carry.

This is not to say that the actress who plays the officer isn't tremendous; she is. This isn't to say those traits can't be used in a male character, successfully; they can be. These can be laudable traits and they're good markers in the necessary shorthand of fiction. But in this case the show seems unaware that what they'd regard as a male deficiency is regarded here as a female strength. Human traits and characteristics are good or ill not in themselves, but dependent on the DNA of their possessor.

Anyway, that's not why I bring it up. Well, it is, butthere was something in a recent episode I noted that made me smile. This:

I recognized it right away, but wanted them to GET OUT OF THE WAY so I could say hello luv and shed a small tear:

It's the Bush radio, the TR82. Just a beaut - but it's probably the remake they put out oh, ten years ago. A Retro Classic; can't remember where I bought it, but it was a damned suitcase of a radio, and completely useless except as an object of admiration. You would bring it to the beach for keen tunes if it was 1962, but nowadays we have tiny devices and Bluetooth speakers.

Patreon update: this is today's Patreon update. Have you pledged a George or two to keep this site going? (Which is a euphemism for "paying your host for all the things he feels compelled to do even though no one asked him to do it, and are really under no obligation to assist whatsoever.) You can - and there will be a special Bonus Thing coming next month. Not a mug. Not a shirt. Not another secret website. You'll have to be a Patron of the Bleat, or a POB, to find out.

Feel free to call each other Pobbers in the comments, unless the term is insulting. I think it sounds like some friendly British term.



From 1949, a feature in Look, the magazine that was Pepsi to Life's Coke. They said nice things about people who had hard-working, succesful, persistent publicists. Today:

I always thought Nash-Kelvinator was a great American company name.Wikipedia has this:

Mason was a large and gregarious man, standing well more than six feet tall and weighing over 300 pounds. Despite his large physical size, he was fascinated with small cars, especially the concept of a small, inexpensive car and Nash’s marketing and strategic management. As a result, the automaker introduced three compact car lines.

Eventually he was instrumental in creating AMC, which would give the world the Pacer. But he didn't see that day; months after creating the company, he went out with pancreatitis, leaving the company's future to his protege . . . George Romney.






Sob: we conclude the adventure of the Scientist with an Undefined Speciality vs. the Guy in an Ugly Mask:



The last episode of the serial is always something of a disappointment. For one thing, it's over, and if it's been fun that's too bad. The bad guy doesn't always get the amount of just desserts a person bent on world conquest or Axis victories deserves, except for the one where Batman fed the Japanese guy to the alligators. You fear that the Crimson Ghost will just be arrested. But at least there's the question of his identity.

Which one of the scientists you don't remember at all will it be?

Anyway. Let's catch up:


As for the conclusion of the cliffhanger, no need to show it, because it was silly. Someone fell out a window and it obviously wasn't Duncan. They had similar hued suits, that's all.

Back at the lab, Duncan and Diane discover the false bottom in the garbage can, and find the Crimson Ghost's eavesdropping device, put there by the charwoman. But it's a wire recorder, not a radio - so he can wipe the data, say some false things, and lure the Ghost into a trap.

He says that as if this sort of misdirection doesn't happen twice in every damned serial. Even in Westerns someone sends purposefully false smoke signals.

He also says he'll drop some hints at the Meeting of Scientific Scientists. We're down to two.


So it's one of these guys? Who cares? My money's on the charwoman.

Time for some high-quality technobabble:


The Isotron will destroy the Cyclotrode! Duncan says the Isotron is back at his apartment, and "let the Crimson Ghost strike if he dares."

Back at the lair, the Ghost says he's heard that Duncan made up some story, and doesn't believe a word of it. An attempt to draw me into a clumsy trap. But then Ashe shows up with the wire recorder - with Duncan saying there is an Isotron! It's not in his apartment, but in the wall cabinet in the Main Room of the University Storage Building! The Ghost is bummed; Nazi Vader is peeved, being a Nazi, and they send Ashe out to get it.

I assume everything from here on in will be fist-fights and gunplay? No. Ashe goes to the Storage Building and easily steals what he thinks is the Isotrode, while Duncan ties some smelly musky chemicals to Ashe's car.

So a dog can track him.


Timmy the Wonder Dog is chasing a car that's going 30 and has a five minute head start. Okay, I'll buy it.

This isn't Crimmy's day, is it? Hell, it's not his serial. Well, he still has a Cyclotrode, which he uses to disable Duncan's car at long distance. They get Timmy the Wonder Dog and follow the scent on foot. Ashe is just standing around outside, which makes him vulnerable for the sort of thing that makes me love this serial.


Then he knocks him unconscious and shoots him through the head. Enough of this guy! No, of course not. Handcuffs him to the car and heads inside to confront THE CRIMSON GHOST.

Oh, how I love this:


Your inner 10-year-old just screams YEAH! He makes everyone put their hands up, frisks 'em - but there's a gun on the floor, so that mean someone has to lunch for it, and there's a fistfight - it would be three against one, but Crimsy runs out the door as usual. But he didn't count on Timmy!



Diane goes after him with her pistol, because everyone on the side of good in this one is awesome, and she truly is All-Purpose Gal. Timmy brings down the Crimson Ghost. It's the moment we've all been waiting for.





Uh - guys? A fade to black? Really?

Really. Because if they'd shown him we wouldn't know who he was. So the last scene has Duncan talking to the last two Scientific Men of Science:


So he caught him, cleaned him up, took him back to the office, sat him down, described the obvious, and had the cop take him. This makes very little sense and I do not care. Best Serial Ever.


Oh, er, ahem:

More Ice Capades below; have at it.



blog comments powered by Disqus