All hail the miracle brace! A friend at work who recently had some hideous procedure to correct the pain of stupid tendon problems - tendons being the support staff for the muscles, the Dellas to the Perrys - reached into her bag and brought out a little cuff-type thing used for “tennis elbow.” I have tennis elbow. It’s not caused by tennis, but by repetitive motion strain brought on by drumming my fingers when my wife discusses her tennis matches, so technically, yes.

Kidding. But I do have some tendon / elbow / arm crap that results from a lifetime of pinball, gaming, mousing, and typing, and this thing supposedly helps. You put it on. You tighten it up. It’s supposed to help.

And it does! It’s a miracle! There's no blood flowing to my hand anymore, and the fingertips have gone from blue to white, but the shooting pains are gone. Now if I can just solve the shoulder and neck pain that makes every day a grey smear of wincing discomfort, we’re set. The average day now includes some Ungerized moments:


Isn't this boring? I know it's boring. So let me expand the topic a little.

If you’ve ever spent any extended time in the company of persistent but not debilitating pain - and I certainly hadn’t, until last year when my arm started to hurt because I’d done something stupid, like use it - then you know you start to narrow your activities, because that will hurt. I need to put away the big collection of all the family papers (tickets, brochures, cards, quotidian details scooped up and archived way deep in the basement) in the closet, but that means moving all the suitcases, and that will hurt. I need to put this box of photos back up on the shelf, because I’ve scanned the, but that will hurt. Annnnnd six months later you are living in a house with stuff piled to the ceiling, moving through tunnels.

Well, it won’t get that bad. I’m going to not look at my phone and hope that helps.

This is my message for the younger generation! Save yourself! Look up!

Really. Twitter ruined my shoulders and neck. On Saturday I had to take my phone to the Apple store, because it had the 30% battery problem: the level would drop below 40%, and the phone would shut off. When you restarted it, it said it had no juice. When you plugged it in and restarted it, there would be 38% power. This meant you went online to Apple Forums, where thousands of people complained about the same problem and no one from Apple said anything, and one bizarre guy who has crowned himself King of Debunking N00b Misconceptions and spends hours in the forums telling everyone the problem they are having is not happening at all.

I ran my serial # against the list of products Apple admitted were “crap, just crap” and I was eligible for a repair.

I sat in the store, not looking at my phone. I watched a video on the wall. Everyone else was hunched over, looking at a small thing in their hands or a larger thing on the table. It was a strange moment of zen detachment, and made me wonder: have I spent the last ten years looking down, instead of up and out?


I’d hoped they would take it away for a week, but they said it would take 90 minutes.

When I did look at the phone again I held it straight out, as if taking a picture of myself. And then I thought: there’s nothing here that matters now. In a larger sense, the conversation is illustrative of the times, but right here, right now?

Put it away.

Turn it off.

So I’m probably going to have to see someone about this, as well as change some other behaviors. I’m saying this in case the Bleat is a little light on top this week, because it hurts to sit and write, and that’s really not the best thing for someone whose job and pastime consists of sitting and writing.

Part of it could be tension, too. Angstiama multiforma.

I’ll explain that later this week.


More of the work of C. H. Wellington, cartoonist mislaid by history.

Not the most well-conceived set-up:

f I had to put the story together, I'd say he fell off the horse into the forbidden area. Except the sign is on the other side of the wall, indicating that's the no-trespassing zone. Or he leaned over the fence and the horse, which is actually a donkey, kicked him in the head - but if that's so, and the man in white is mad, what's he doing on the other side of the wall?

If the man in the black coat and spats was riding the horse, what was doing with a walking stick?



It’s much, much better. The show had matured, and it’s reflected in this episode.

The show had matured, and it’s reflected in this episode. Leroy is more of a scamp; Birdie is Birdier. We see the kitchen table, where much of the radio show takes place. It's as ordinary as you'd expect, and small.

The movie gets the catch-phrase and cheap gags out of the way as soon as possible:


Here's a sign it's not as disconnected from the source material as the first movie:

First of all, the object on the left in the window should tell you where we are. It’s an amphora, hence it’s a drugstore. I’ve no idea when they stopped hanging those things, but I’d guess it was the late 40s or early 50s. They had too many old-time connotations. An amphora in the window was like a sign saying “Remember the days before antibiotics?”

The drug store, of course, is owned by . . .


Mr. Peavey, played in the movie by the same person who played the character on the radio. Richard LeGrand. The audience would accept no substitutes, I guess. He looks the part, too. He's exactly what people imagined he'd look like.

And there’s Aunt Emma!

Except there never was an Aunt Emma. There was Aunt Hattie.

There’s a court officer, credited as “Balliff.” The actor:

It’s Ken Christy, who played a role in the radio show: he was the Chief of Police. He sounds like his character. He acts like his character. But he’s not his character.

So you think, well, it’s because there isn’t a Police Chief character. But there is.

Again, it’s like watching a Star Trek movie in which James Doohan plays a Scottish engineer, but not the chief engineer, and not one named Scotty. There is a Scotty, and he’s a different actor.

The plot has a simple premise: Gildy’s on a jury, and this makes him think he’s a legal expert. He starts quoting famous trials to Birdie - and this leads to a bit of dialogue that depends on a distinction lost on modern audiences. They might detect the contours of comedy in the exchange, but couldn't tell you why it was supposed to be a joke.

I'll bet one out of 25 people over 40 would get the reference today. Or two out of ten? More? I can't say; it's not something with whic I had any personal experience. It's just from studying the period.

Anyway: crooks decide to bribe Gildy to acquit the man on trial and send an anonymous letter. He never sees the letter, and goes ahead to acquit the man because he’s an egotistical contrarian. Hilarity results. Actually, it does - in the style of the show. It works better because of Peary: he was born to play the character. The movie makes a wise decision: a plot point hinges on Gildy singing, which binds it nicely to the radio performance.

It’s still not a completely satisfying transfer to the film medium, but it respects the source material better than the first. Right down to the end:


That'll do for today! Don't miss my SUNDAY newspaper column! Just click on the Star. You know: The big green Startribune Star.



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