To my surprise, my entire column idea was predicated on something I misread. I suppose I ought to read the source material before it gets to column writing time, and not presume I’ll get a column out of a headline that left out one crucial word. Well, I’ve always said you ought to be able to turn one out from zero if you want to be in this business, and you ought to be able to do it every day, so off we go on another tangent. Good thing I always have an idea in a small box with a glass front and a red handle attached on a metal chain.

By the way, breaking the glass did not sound the alarm. It just gave you access to the alarm. This cut down on false alarms, supposedly - and isn't that a quaint touch? Someone might want to turn in a false alarm for kicks, but the fact that vandalism would be required was presumed to discourage a few.

"C'mon Tony, do it! Break the glass!"

"Ahhh, I dunno, Riff. It's one thing to pull the alarm and watch all the squares run, but look, the words are painted on the glass. Some guy had to do that. Doesn't seem right to ruin his work."

"What's the matter with you? He gets paid. He'll get paid to do it again. You soft or something? You gettin' yella?"

So I'm off, but good thing I had a few things in the tank.











Every three years I sigh, and say okay, okay. I’m between shows. Don’t want to start something new. I will give in.

I always come to things late, which is good: there’s usually a body of criticism you can compare to your own reactions. I stumbled across a show called “The Sinner,” a USA network show produced by its star, Jessica Biel. She looks odd to me, as if the sculptor had stopped after planing the surfaces into human form, but she’s good in the show, and the cop is Bill Pullman. He winces a lot. His main character tic seems to be wincing while smiling and not saying what he might have said. He looks like he is just realizing the shrimp was bad and he’s in for it. This is not a bad thing. Can’t imagine not wanting to watch him in something.

The first season had an episode that reminded me of Twin Peaks, in a way. The sort of hallucinatory depravity that TP suggested was spelled out at length, without the whole mystical evil thing. It was strenuously uncomfortable. It wasn’t cheap or sensationalist. The whole show just went somewhere you did not expect, and that’s rare. I read reviews for the second season that sounded several octaves of disappointed notes, but I thought it was better than the first. I’m about to start the third season, which the fans hated.

Ah, the fans.

The people who take possession of the show from its creators. The ones who know best. The ones who are eager, it seems, to show how much they love something by being the first to hate it the most.

Since I didn’t feel like starting it right away, and I didn’t want a movie, or another show . . . okay, okay. I give in. It’s been three years. I refer, of course, to ST: TOS.

I want the action shows. Not the deep philosophical ones. Not the backlot shows shot in Mayberry. SPACE STUFF. This means “The Doomsday Machine,” notable for William Windom’s phlegm-soaked lament on the battle bridge, and his sweaty, unshaven performance in the captain’s chair. The wrecked vessel where Kirk is stranded. The gnawing, panting score that was Jaws theme before there was Jaws. That mad frack in the horns at the end:

It’s just great, but what do you watch next? There’s a mirror ep, if you will: The Immunity Syndrome, in which they go up against an improbably expansive single-cell organism. Where “Doomsday” has panic and split-section peril, “Immunity” has an enervated dread and sense of hopelessness. It also has McCoy being a needless dick to Spock, and you wish he would have said “I’m sorry about that scene in sickbay. It was just bad writing.”

“I know, Doctor. But it is interesting how your human history, from Marxism to the Eugenics Texts of Dr. Hanang, are often blamed on ‘bad writing.’” (Rising oboe cue)

Oh, you know that one.

What struck me this time was how Kirk did the exact thing he had yelled at Commodore Decker for doing: he put the ship and her crew in needless peril. “All our power is being drained, we’re all dying, this thing already killed 400 Vulcans, we know nothing about it, we’re weak, half the crew is amped up on meth and still falling over from exhaustion, so let’s just get closer and see what’s what.”

But the more I watch it, the more I like it.

Enhanced graphics, too.


And now, or at least when they redid them:

What a strange thing to have watched 27 times in the course of my life.



It’s 1936.

Very clever: all other mayos are now suspect. Meet . . . the President of Dated Mayo!

The biggest advance in 16 years. What happened? What was it? I gather that they made it fresh and threw it out if it went past the date. Or maybe they took the arsenic out. I don't know.

Sparkeeta! From Sparkletts!

Look, just pick one, okay?

That was the bottle, and it was more gorgeous than you may have expected.

And they’re still around.

Hold on now. So it’s Beijing now, was Peking before, but Peiping before that?

It’s had a few different names. I didn't know that. I lost interest after we stopped saying Peking.

When it comes to coffee, flavor is important!

Er yes of course Dear tell this horrid man to leave us alone


Her interior monologue is not the most focused rebuttal I’ve ever read.


“Tops the breakfast with most of your customers? Thank you for telling me how ordinary my preferences are, Mr. Grocer."

More than a billion sold every year! Keep in mind, those aren't Mini-Wheats. Those are the enormous pillow-sized ones.


For that veneer - literally - of sophistication:

Finally, the homes are catching up with the movies. I wonder how much of this stuff persisted into the 50s; I know I was using one of my grandmother’s dressers until 1993.

Gosh, I never thought of that. You’re right - the telephone certainly is aces for contacting people who are not in immediate vicinity!

I suppose periodic reminders were helpful.


  That will  have to do. I'll make it up to you tomorrow. (As I said last week, and probably still applies.)





blog comments powered by Disqus