It’s a quarter to midnight, and I’m sitting outside in the uncompleted gazebo. Just took all the unused wood inside, because it might rain. This struck me as silly while I was doing it, since the gazebo is going to be - what’s the technical word? - outside for its entire life, and is built to withstand rain. But I fear the wood will swell and the screws will get the wrong idea when they go in, and there will be warpage, and so on. I should have built another roof panel tonight but the evening got away from me, as happens. Daughter wanted to go to the gym; I drove her there and went to the grocery store to see if the pizza prices had entered the predictable configuration that prompt a purchase. $8.99? No. That’s FULL PRICE. $7.99? Don’t make me laugh. Talk to me when it’s two-for-ten.

We both know it’ll be two for ten. Eventually.

The entire store stunk, and stunk in a way that reminded me of the Safeway in DC. What was remarkable was the variety of odors. It smelled like rank fish back by the piscine freezer, bad meat by the butcher area, and stinky mop everywhere else. Whoever cleaned up the aisles took a mop that had been marinating in its awfulness for half a day and swabbed the entire place, and for a moment I thought: is it me?

No; it was all-pervasive. I wanted to write a letter to the company: in this competitive environment, stores cannot stink! Too many non-stink options exist! But they’d shrug, probably. It’s the only cut-rate store around. You want to buy meat without sensing a palpable throb of green nausea at the edge of your vision, drive a few miles.

Once home I set about writing a column, which concerns the sounds of a summer evening. Hard! Hitting! Stuff! But it’s for the Sunday column, which is about Us Living Up Here, and as long as I could get some larfs in with some poetical-type writing, I was happy. Right now it’s perfect - a worried wind presaging the rain, crickets scraping away, Scout snorting on the sofa as he stretches.

And . . . it’s midnight. Midnight never seems like tomorrow, does it? As long as it’s dark, the day doesn't end until you close your eyes. It’s a play that goes on until the lone customer in the seat in the back finally nods off.

Better upload this and get back to writing other things. The following, I admit, I wrote before.


What makes me move quickly from patient customer who’s called technical support to irritated guy who will brook no BS? BS. The moment I start to get some BS, I think that they’ve assumed I’m a moron.

As I mentioned last week, my DirecTV system wasn’t doing well. It had a 771 message, which means I should call the number on the screen and say “771" and they will say what it says on the screen, which is “tighten your connections” - you know, in case the coax gremlins scampered through the house last night and undid everything that’s been screwed tighter than North Korea since 2017, or “check for obstructions to your dish.” Hmm, good point; a tree may have suddenly grown on the roof this month. No, it’s unobstructed.

At this point the idea of having a satellite dish seems so old. Once it was miraculous: my own dish, getting entertainment from Space! But now it’s like having an above-ground pool. My internet comes in from a buried fiber-optic wire. That’s where I should be getting all my stuff.

I restarted everything, and the picture reappeared. That was good. Later that night I sat down to watch Twin Peaks, and it wasn’t there. The Showtime menu said “Regular Programming,” instead of the name of the movies and shows. There wasn’t any On Demand pane. It didn’t display local channels; they didn’t exist. I called technical service, which is supposed to be 24/7.

Nope! They were closed. Actually, the recorded voice said that Customer Support was closed, but technicians were still available to assist me; I was put on hold, after which a voice came on and said “we are closed for today. Good bye” and hung up.

They didn’t reply to Tweets, so I assumed that secret agents had infiltrated their HQ and put knock-out gas through the ventilation system. Or Captain Trips had broken out of containment, and the security cameras were recording haunting pictures of people slumped dead over their desks while “Don’t Fear the Reaper” played.

Either would have been fine.

Called back the next morning, and got “Joseph.” He asked for a mobile number so he could call me back if we were disconnected. In case gas came through the vents of my house. They have my number on file. It’s in the customer information he was looking at. They ask every time.

Told him everything I had done, and how nothing had worked, so he walked me through doing all those things again, and nothing worked again.

He said he would reconfigure my main unit remotely, and I said that was fine. We would now have to wait three minutes. What did it mean, exactly? I asked. How was reconfigure different from refresh, which one could do from the website?

Exasperation. “Sir, you cannot refresh from the website.”

Me, looking at the page: “It says xx And there’s a button called refresh. What does that do?

Joseph: “that is different from reconfigure.”

“I get that, but what does it do? Does refresh just flash the memory, or does it check for updates, or -“

“It does not check for updates.”

“Okay. What does reconfigure do - reset to factory standards, reload the OS? I’m just curious.”

“It reconfigures the box.”

Okay, you don’t know. So we wait. Then he wants me to reboot the box. “There will be a red button on the front left panel by the card access.”

“Actually,” I say, “There isn’t. Not on this unit. There’s a card access panel on the right, but it doesn’t seem to want to open up. I’m just cycling the power.”

“You should not do that,” he said.

“I know it’s more stressful, but the automated instructions on your 771 line use the options interchangeably, and say I can use the red reset button or unplug the power and wait 15 seconds. So that’s why I did that. There isn’t a red button I can access.”

“It is by the upper left-hand side, where there is a panel.”

“It would be great if that was the case, but on this Genie model, the access panel is on the right.”

And he’s annoyed with me somehow. I can feel it across the ocean.

Well, nothing worked, so they sent out a tech, as I mentioned.


More of Robert Pilgrim's consumable-related Ripley knockoff. It ran in Family Circle, among other places.


  A Frenchman, asking for a holiday? Incroyable. Actually, I dont' believe this. An entire day to clear your eyes and nose? No.
  Now that I believe.

Those were sent in by Anthony Ramuglia, who lived at 2180 1/2 29th street, LA.

I've still no idea why they printed people's entire addresses. Perhaps it made them seem more authentic. Oh, we might make up a story, but we'd never make up an address.




No more serials for a while - just some light entertainment from the world of Drive-In pre-show rolls.

This is a style some love. I hate it.


Fourteen seconds of mod, hip, with-it graphics - including the obligatory stars, supergraphic-style designs, woodcuts, old-timey stuff, and that fake rock that played on the radio on the TV shows.

But it paid some animator's rent for the month.



That'll do; see you around!


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