I should just quit right now. Hang it up, stand back, marvel at the eventual perfection of the thing, and find another project.

I’ll explain. First, a fascinating retail episode!

On Saturday I texted the Giant Swede and asked if he wanted to go to Best Buy, unless he needed something at Home Depot. He did not. (Note: I did, in fact, need something from Home Depot, and forgot all about it until I was home and settling down for a nap, whereupon a shining, rotating bottle of Swiffer Wet-Jet fluid appeared in my mind like a vision of the Chalice, spurring Lancelot on to his quest.) At Best Buy we looked at TVs, something that always makes you rue whatever TV you had. The clerk was a smart fellow who steered us away from the 8Ks, said it’s nonsense unless you have 8K eyeballs, and besides, everything you’re getting streamed is 1080.

“All this beautiful stuff we’re seeing is shot in the highest definition known to mankind, right?”

“Right. Nothing else looks like this. But it sells TVs. What you really want, is . . .” and he led us over to some other TVs that looked just as good. I wondered aloud whether the entire 8K product line existed just to make us more likely to heed the wisdom of the salesman and lay out some money for the 4K.

I asked some questions of the fellow staffing the Oculus demonstration.

Could my tall friend here try one on?

“No,” he said. “Covid.”

The Swede essayed some japery about getting Covid from someone else’s digital avatar. Hard to say if the clerk found it amusing, as 2/3rds of his face was swaddled with black fabric. I said I had a question:

My set was rather blurry, and it’s not just my eyesight, good sir; I put on the attachment, I know about the three settings, yes, I have progressive lens, but when everything is aligned just right, it’s indistinct, and much seems pixilated.

He had a good explanation: it’s broken. I could bring it by, and the Geek Squad could look at it. Not that they could do anything, but they could look at it. As a Total Tech member, I could get a replacement - but, he noted, they wouldn’t be able to do it right away.

“You’re all out at the store?” I asked.

“They’re at the warehouse,” he said,

“But you could get one from the warehouse to the store,” the Giant Swede said.

“Oh yes,” the clerk replied.

“Is the warehouse . . . close?”

“It’s nearby, yes.”

“So you’re saying I’d have to come back? That’s not a problem.”

“Oh good!”

Then we looked at toaster ovens. He is in the market for one; I just got one. I suggested mine. He was interested in another unit, which I took personally. There were some new microwaves which have the “Soft Close” feature: you don’t have to close the door all the way. You just start closing it, and the latches grab and seal. For all you people who are so tired of having to do all the microwave door-closing by yourself, and yearned for the boffins in Microwave Design to take this bothersome chore from your hands.

I didn’t like the feel of the door. I said the hinges seemed to be made of Gummi.

“Is that a noun or an adjective? Is gummi the thing itself, or does it modify things, like bears?”

He wasn’t listening; he was looking at a big toaster oven that had more knobs than the panel of an Apollo module.

We left, buying nothing, and went to the nearby McDonald’s. We used to do this a lot. Covid knocked the pins out from that habit, but now things are getting back to normal, somewhat. The store was cold and one of the drink stations was permanently decommissioned Because Covid and there weren’t any condiments or salt / pepper packets or napkins Because Same. But we sat in the sun and enjoyed a meal.

So why should I stop and declare Total Perfection?

Because this is the 25th anniversary of the Bleat.

Not this exact day. Sometime in February, but I know it was early February. Let me go back to the very first line in the very first surviving entry.

The standard Saturday guy's-day-out afternoon with the Giant Swede.

Let us scroll down a bit:

Odd skirmishes in the customer-clerk war today. I told the Swede about yesterday's problems of attempted customer levity. We commiserated. Five minutes later at the computer store, he gets a clerk who tries to be funny - unheard of in this day. The Swede had asked if the Intellimouse worked with all Win95 programs, and the clerk had responded no, it actually makes the programs blow up. Or something like that. Another clerk slapped him in the head and told him to stop lying to customers.

A quarter of a century has elapsed. Children have been raised and sent into the world; dogs and houses have come and gone. But the Bleat not only abides, it talks about the same damned thing it did twenty-five years ago.

I have no idea what I thought this would all become, but if you’d told me 25 years ago I’d still be doing it, and I’d still be going to the tech store to look at things and judge them with the Swede, and enjoy some French fries afterwards, then go home to wife and dog (same wife, different dog) I’d have been . . . grateful. Happy. Perhaps: relieved.

Anyway, I’ll declare this the 25th anniversary day. Thanks to all who’ve been with me these years, however many they’ve been. And no, I’m not stopping, just because one day echoed another. There’s so much more to do!

What, I have no idea. Maybe take that Oculus back.




They were always taking over. Batman, the Shadow - they all took over at some point.

I neglected last month to give you the theme. It varies from movie to movie, but this is the basic idea - strong opening assertion, playful notes, Big City Piano, then a strenuously sub-Mahlerian love melody.

  Let's all enjoy the theme together.

Ah, a promising start: the lost world.


We meet a big palooka.

He's outside a nightclub; the Falcon's inside, and his sidekick Goldie is waiting in the car. The big palook walks up.

Hey - wait a minute, you say.

Big dumb guy, looking for a frail by the name of Velma.

Yes. You're correct. Let's go back to the credits:

They bought the rights for a programmer. That's Moose Malloy. And this means George Sanders is Marlowe, except that he's not.

So imagine, say, hard-boiled Bogie movie . . . played for laughs.

But not big laughs. Think: slight, constant sense of amusement.


See, the smiling cop is sarcastic and thinks the other cop is a fool. And the smart sarcastic cop is the guy we saw a few years ago (!) in the Miss Whatsername movies, the one about the spinster teacher who solved murders.

Then we get this 40s trope:

Always with the swamis. And who is the Great Anthor?

Why, it’s the villain from the first movie, Mr. Bey.

Anyway: maybe it’s me, but the thing is absolutely incoherent. It has one scene in a cemetery that’s quite good, though - wordless, with just crickets on the soundtrack. It’s followed by the Falcon talking to the gal what showed up out of nowhere in the boneyard:

Yes, there is a Morgan.


Anyway. It’s just another mystery programmer. It doesn't feel like a Chandler story at all, perhaps because it lacks, oh, I don't know, MARLOWE. It ends like the others: supposedly setting up the next case.

Will it? We’ll see.


(Spoiler: we never see her again.)



That will do! On to the next installment, and again, and again, for however long we're here together.



blog comments powered by Disqus