I think I avoided a carjacking today. I drove to the spot downtown where I always park, a stretch by a hotel. It’s cheap and spaces are always available. Today one side of the street was almost entirely open. I drove up behind a car, and began the usual process: put on the earbuds, transfer the audio from CarPlay to iPhone, then call up the app to pay for parking. But I didn’t do any of that. A car had swooped up behind me just as I pulled up to the curb.

See how I made it more ominous? It swooped. Well, that’s how it felt. It was a white Honda, CR-V, new model. Something about this just seemed suddenly fraught. I hadn’t killed the engine yet. I turned the wheel to the left and put the car back in D. Looked in the rear view mirrors. It was hard to see the occupants of the other car, but I saw, as th cops say, that it was occupied three times. One head in the middle in the back.

Command decision: TOGO. Take off and go around the block. As I pulled away . . . so did the other car. I turned right; it turned right. It was behind me half a block, so I just floored it and used the shifting pedals to wind it up before I upshifted, which always gives my car a little kick. Worth a ticket, if that happened. Turned right again, then shot into an alley, watched the rear view mirror. The white Honda had turned right again.

Huh. So we wait a bit. It wasn’t a dead-end alley, and it came out where I wanted to park in the first place. So I did. It’s possible I misread the whole thing. I’m not paranoid, he said, having just described the textbook definition of that very thing, but I think the combo of “immediately coming up behind me / three people / leaving as I did” is a good argument for being suspicious.











This is not a review, but a recap of leitmotifs. I know, again? Bear with me.

I felt as if it was a cultural obligation to see the latest Batman movie, which is called The Batman. After all, I’ve always been a fan. On the other hand, I am an grown-up fellow who ought not be overly connected to the enthusiasms of his nine-year-old self, watching the campy show on TV and not knowing it was campy. It was just cool!

On the other hand, Batman is a symbol, an idea reinterpreted by every era, while maintaining the core idea of the damaged vigilante who is terribly necessary. I remember being knocked out by the Burton “reimagining,” subsequently dismayed by its rote iterations - it went to crap with Batman Returns, from the opening moments. Although I insisted at the time it was great.

The Nolan roboot. This was in the early days of cape-and-tights movies as a dark ’n’ gritty art form. I even forgave them when they burned down Stately Wayne Mansion, which is like crashing the Enterprise. You don't have to do that. It's going to cost a fortune to rebuild.

I worry about these things.

The last few movies I’ve missed. Who's playing him now? Oh. I'll bet he's a moody orphan with lots of money and walks through misty alleys, all backlit 'n' stuff. I began the whole Serious Superhero Movie phase as a long-time enthusiast, and have ended up exhausted and bored. The last movie of the genre that made any impression was The Joker, and that’s because he had no Powers. Same with Stranger Things - at some point in the second series, we had the 4,3672nd sequence of someone grimacing while holding out their hands and exuding BEAMS OF POWER to keep the THING OF EVIL at bay. Okay. I did enjoy the season, but then I realized “those were great call-backs to Aliens, what with Paul Reiser - or was that the first season,” and thought: rehash / mash-up / call-back culture again, and again, and again.

I think I've said it before: I'm tired of Powers. But. Batman has no powers of the supernatural sort. He has tools and a mood. I'd heard good things, so why not give it a try?

I’ll tell you what I did notice, right away: the music. The Batman of every era has a motif.


  The campy Batman: frenetic dedication to the Hefti riff.
  The end-of-the-80s Batman: Elfman’s, er, reimagining of an old Universal (I think) motif to present something that seemed to unfold its wings with grave majesty.
  The Reboot: Zimmer’s two-note motif, which presses down like a hot thumb on a ripe bruise. It’s literally BAT. MAN
  The ReReboot: now this is interesting. Hypnotic, insistent, downbeat, funereal.

It's like the Bolero of Batman themes.

It drew me into it, to a place I really didn’t want to go. By which I mean the deprivations of Gotham. There’s a sort of helplessness that accrues after watching thirty years of urban misery. A cumulative despair. Okay great it's Batman but we’ve had what 30 years now, and it’s still dark and rainy and corrupt and the main criminal is named Moroni, again? Wasn’t he in Johnny Dangerously?

It's normal to fall away from things you used to enjoy, but filling the space seems harder than it ought to be.





It’s 1922. We are in England.

“Household economy is King of Anti-Waste.” That slips trippingly off the tongue, and everyone nods: oh yes of course.


"Household economy is King of Anti-Waste and Fluxite his Prime Minister" - well, give them a few decades, they'd improve their copy.

Who gets a hole in their pot?

You will say “Simply Delicious” after the 20th piece! Then you will vomit

Here’s what the can looked like, if you wonderwhat color it was.

It’s fish glue:

It made it into a lyric:




Finally! Some non-blistering Rod Wax:

Yes, it’s Hot Sauce Vaseline. Burns! So it must be working.


The Glory of Devon in a Packet:

Odd; seems that it came from Australia. But wikipedia is not entirely correct. In fact, I think it's wrong.

“Oh, nice camera!"

“No, it’s a water finder.”

A letter to Nature magazine in 1909:

WITH reference to Mr. A. A. Campbell Swinton's letter in regard to Mansfield's water-finder, which appears in NATURE of October 14, it may be of interest to state that I made inquiries from Messrs. Mansfield and Co. in May, 1908, asking for the names of the “leading scientists and engineers” who, as they stated, “vouched for the successful application of the invention”; they did not send me any names, but allowed a friend of mine in Liverpool to call to see the documents. One was from an architect in Liverpool, another from a firm of well-borers, and there were some foreign ones, but none were produced that were signed by persons whom I should describe as “leading scientists and engineers.”


That middle one. Did people have their shins blown off, a la Cotton Hill, and they reattached the foot?

Lovely tableau. Halcyon Days, indeed. Sleep well, and tomorrow you shall have toffee!

Only 8 d, too.


D means “Penny.” Of course. Why wouldn’t Pence be called “d”?

(It means denarius. A long-lasting ghost of Rome.)



That'll do: get ready for some halitotic Sunday quasicomics.





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