Fantastic day for the human species: the Falcon Heavy lifts off, lands two of its boosters like the rockets we saw in old 50s moon-movies. I felt something long-buried stir when I saw that lift-off. This is what we used to do. This is what we’re doing again.

Oh, and puts a car in space. That last one irritated some people, of course. A . . . a car!


Quick! You will get $100 if you answer this question correctly! Based on the guy’s twitter feed, is he A) inordinately obsessed with Israel and the Jews, or B) critical of the actions of Syria or Russia?

(Two gentle notes on the Jeopardy timpani)

Now, it could be that the fellow’s just rolling out the usual hyperbole to focus our attention on the things we Must Do Right Away, starting with the abolition of captalismo, natch, but I hear this a lot: the Earth is already sentenced to death. So nothing matters; carry on.

Let me give you a little video view of the planet that is sentenced to death. Look at this miserable, desperate hellscape.


Full screen is recommended. Either you look at those images and think “this is all going to be underwater in a year and everything will be horrible everywhere” or you think: humanity, for all its flaws, is a remarkable species.

The 1st-world misanthropist scolds are infuriated by the latter reaction, and impatient with anyone who seems to be enjoying life for the wrong reason. At some point you imagine they sat around McDonald's on Prom night talking about how everyone who had a date and was dancing were stupid. And shallow, of course. So shallow.


I have no idea what this is about, but I assume there's a rough sort of continuity.

Diner 2018 E06.



I hate crank-call comedy bits. The second I detect that the comedy channel on the satellite radio is playing a crank-call routine, I change. If someone wants to prank a cold-caller who interrupts your life to sell you a credit card with a 29% APR, I don’t care - string them along as you like, they deserve it. But the people who call up someone and initiate a crank-call are like people who pick the wings off flies.

What? Why? How is that different from pranking telemarketers? you ask. Because the person on the other end of the call did not ask for this. You call up someone with a scummy scammy intention, you deserve what you get - but wasting the time of someone who’s paid crap to sit in a warehouse in a cubicle and deal with strangers who saw an ad for cremation services or Hot Amish Natural Furnaces or the MiracleLobe Hearing System - it’s punching down.

Change the channel. Old Time Radio? Sure; I listen for a while, since it’s the top of the hour and the show’s just starting, and if I like it I can listen to it at home. Any show that’s on the OTR channel, I have. Or can have. The content provider for the channel sells CDs with all the programs, trading on the target-market’s ignorance that all the shows can be found for free on (Except, ha, the Couple Next Door.) They aim their ads at people who lack the skill or initiative to find the shows online, and are so BLOODY OLD they put CDs into boomboxes for GOD’S SAKE or their old cars, I mean seriously, CDs? They’ll sell a 6-CD set of 50 shows for $30, when one CD holds 650 MB and the shows are usually about 3 or 4 MB.

But they have a business model, and it works for them, and it’s all a mutually-agreed-upon exchange, so whatever.

Go to the Right Wing Station, which is generally ranty; the host is in full nasal whataboutism, and I am i no mood to have the blood all angered up at this moment.

Go to the BBC. Ahhhhh, the warm bath. Everyone is English, even the people who aren’t. Every single possible speaker hews to a narrow perspective that seems expansive from the outside, because they have different accents, but they’re all BBC-approved speakers who are supposed to nail down that country or culture for the listener. A country or culture may be illberal, but someone from that place can say the right things with an accent, and we are expected to regard everyone else who lives there as a covert or overt ally of the person who says what we believe, with an exotic accent. I wish it were so! But even when the speaker describes themselves as an outlier, a dissident, the host spreads the warm paste of BBC marmalade over the conversation to suggest there’s a general, global agreement about certain values, and all we need do is find a nice way to pressure recalcitrant governments to recognize reality.

Guest: “I watched my brother, who was homosexual, be hanged by the religious police.”

BBC Host: “Do the authorities realize how objectionable this is to the rest of the world?”

Guest:“I do not think the authorities care. They charged me for the rental of the knife to cut him down.”

BBC Host:“This is a problem in other countries with conservative religious elements, as we heard from our report from Andrew Wonker in Alabama. But how does the gay community of Tehran adapt to these publicized hangings?

Guest:“They get married.”

I exaggerate, as is my wont. I’m not sure the Beeb would be so sympathetic. I heard a BBC interview with Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian Nobel prize winner, living in London. The interrogator aggressively challenged her being an expat who could snipe from a safe distance. If I had to explain the dynamic: the radio hosts may personally find the Iranian government distasteful, but really, anyone would, no? What’s distasteful to the host are the people whose distaste exceeds the host’s objections, and hence must have some agenda that needs unpacking.

The Right, according to this mindset, opposes the Iranian government because of their free-floating spectrum of prejudices. Anything that enables that viewpoint must be scrutinized. The leftish side of the objections to the mullahs will be placed on a table in the next room for the duration, because everyone knows the progressive opinion abhors the behavior of Islamist governments. But it is not helpful to say so today - unless they are doing a story that details how the old repression is now a little bit better. In Tehran, a rainbow appears.

Go back to the Old Time Radio station, which is now done with commercials. (Satellite radio has commercials on the stations they presume are popular with old people who need tax relief.) The channel’s host is describing the next show. He has a voice that’s the absolute opposite of classic old radio. It’s nasal and not particularly inflected. But we’re all used to him. Ah, it’s a Whistler. These are good. I know I can leave the show in the middle and go to the store, because I have all the eps at home on my computer.

The voices are familiar, of course. It always seems as if there were no more than 15 people doing all the radio shows on the air. I’m serious. You want to know how many of them made it out into TV? About four. From everyone in radio. Four. William Conrad, Howard McNair, Jack Webb, because he drove his show - and Virginia Gregg - and then only because of Webb. Oh, and Peg. ;)

TV was an extinction-level event on the scale of talkies; it cleaned the slate. There was some crossover in the early days, but not a lot of it took.

Which sets up something we'll get to after the break, and the Serials.




We're currently having a small amout of fun with Batman.

Oh man this was bad! Batman and Lois Lane were in the flaming water! No, Vicky Vale. However will they get out of this?

Okay, that makes sense.

Sirens drive everyone away, but not before Batman has a somewhat Hopperesque moment with Vicky, if Hopper did close-ups:

Back at the Batcave, Bruce Wayne uses his powers of disguise . . .

He now looks like MAC LACEY, the one mug they captured, and he’s going to go to the waterfront joint where the criminals hang out. In case anyone wonders who he is, he’s got that covered:

It’s like something an 8-year-old carries around. So he goes back to the Harbor Club for a line on this Wizard super genius dude; everyone thinks he’s Mac, although they’re briefly suspicious: so . . . you were captured by Batman, and he let you go? That never happens. Eh, I escaped. Well, okay, then. Now let’s discuss our plans in front of you.

Smooth. Well, they head out into the countryside, because it’s probably time for a mine or shack ep. Robin follows.

Hey, remember Barry Brown, the radio guy who seems to be sending coded messages to the Wizard and his yeggs? They tune him in at the shack hideout, and Barry says the police have . . . MAC LACEY IN CUSTODY.

Look! It’s the Registered Trademark of the Batman! He always shows that to give away his position and lose the element of surprise!

They capture Robin and bring him inside. Bruce Wayne, who says now that he’s actually a friend of Mac’s and just wanted to join the Gang, is given a chance to prove himself: shoot Robin.

Sure, why not; it could lead to a lousy fight scene. Well, they escape, and the Wizard’s furious. He decides that he will lure Batman to a trap on Marine Street.

Marine Street. Because it’s on the wharf. Again.

This is perfect. Right down to the “CO2 Control” that pumps the stuff into a room for some reason, to the Caped Crusader’s hair-trigger instincts when it comes to hissing gas:

I can’t believe I’m saying this about Batman and Robin, but JUST SHOOT THEM ALREADY

Since it’s a crappy cliffhanger, I owe you the whole ending.

Even with that, it's still not suspenseful.

A new site today: The Unknowns. When talkies came in, as everyone says, it was moider on the careers of many. The stars who populated the movie mags in the 20s are mostly forgotten today, and even if you know a little about silents, there are dozens of faces and careers that have slipped completely from public memory.

This site gives them another day in the sun. Three per week for the next few months.


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