The chill set in fast, and was not entirely unwelcome. The switch has been flipped, and suddenly your brain moves to soup and sweaters. Great night to turn on the fireplace! Except it doesn’t work.

It broke last spring, and I’ve been endeavoring daily on a replacement. Ha! Just remembered it a while ago. Went to a showroom and looked at some nice fireplaces that cost more than my car, and left without speaking to anyone. No salesman appeared. There was a radio in the back playing yacht rock, but no other signs of life. Checked the news later; no murder. Just bad business. I mean, the door bonged on the way in, so it's not as if I was playing the game on stealth mode. Bonged on the way out, too, but not salesman appeared in the parking lot waving his arms and apologizing.

A salesman from the gas company came by n Friday to look at the setup. "That's interesting," he said. The words you love to hear. Sure enough, it’s another stove situation. A custom install. The woman who redid this house simply could not do anything other that custom jobs that are hard to repair. I'm surprised I can replace the toilet paper without having to get specially cut rolls from a company that imports them from the Basque region. But he could accomodate the situation with some modifications, a phrase that made my wallet sigh. Or perhaps it cried out; it was in the drawer, so its reaction would be muffled.

Good news? New options are now available for your gas fireplace, and that includes a five-setting remote. Five levels of fire, five levels of fan. Why, it even has an ersatz embers feature.

While he made up a proposal I talked to his factotum, who was along to learn. He’d just started in the gas-fireplace selling game. What did he do before this? (He was early middle-aged, or late 30s.) He said he worked for a large processed-and-flavored potato concern. Or words to that effect. He was a liaison betwixt the chip makers and the grocery store. Ah! Well, let’s plumb him for inside know-how!

When they come up with a new flavor, does it cannibalize the existing brand block on the shelves, because those are set in stone by contract, right? You got your Frito-Lay, you have your regional brand - Old Dutch, Wise - and then you have a silver of boutique brands. Can’t move into their territory, so what do you do? If you knock out one of the boo-teeks - you know, Amanda's Kettle-Baked Chips or Monica's Pita Fragments, the ones that always have a story about someone who had an idea and a passion - do you have to pay? Or do you really just own everything, and knocking out Keith's Olde-Fashioned Spud Slices would give away the illusion of choice?

The In-and-Outs, as I learned the new flavors are named - because they might not last - are usually put in the main block at the expense of some of the others, but not on the end cap, because those are enterprise arrangements. I think that was the term. Possibly “equipment.” Anyway, end-caps are a whole different thing, don’t get him started.

But that was then, and now he sells devices that produce and contain domestic flame.

While the main salesman toted up the estimate, I realized I had probably underestimated the cost of this. I’d been going on the base price of a Home Depot insert, thinking, okay, double that, plus installation. But the Home Depot price was probably low, because the Home Depot thing would be . . . what’s the word? Krep. Instead of contoured faux brick in the back, it would be printed. It would have flimsy metal. It certainly wouldn’t have five flame positions. So I made a number in my head it would probably cost.

Annnnd it was twice that. I asked the salesman to tell me why I shouldn’t get the Home Depot model and get some guy to install it, and he said the right thing: well of course you can. But. Here’s what you’re going to get from that thing, and here’s the advantages of this product. Plus, they can add it to my gas bill, and I can pay on it monthly, forever.

Well, had to be done. The fire broke, just like the stove broke, the AC broke, the trees broke, the fence needed staining, the faucet broke, the sprinkler system broke. Everything broke this year. Our tenancy hit 21 years, and Shazam: money-shoveling nonpareil.

That night I dreamed the chimney fell over and half the side of the house just peeled off.

Good weekend, though. Got many practical things done. Enjoyed the sudden gloom and rain and cloudy dank, because it won’t be forever, and there’s a great surge of nostalgia that attends to these conditions. They’re usually filtered through parenthood, of course.

Shot a text to Natalie to note how the weather had whipsawed me back to all the Fall Feelings, and she replied from the other side of the country: same!

She will always live in a place with Seasons, I think. Seasons firm you up in ways the perpetually warm will never understand.

Jose Bahr didn’t make this movie, and Lola Wendrell doesn’t exist, but otherwise, sure, great movie.

Sono just threw them out there to look busy, I think.




Last time we saw Buck and Wilma blow up real good, so it’s a miracle they’re still alive, right? Right? Asks someone who never saw a serial and is also thick as a safe stuffed with bricks.


  Let's catch up with the exciting head-'em-off-at the-pass music.


Well, they’re built of sturdy stuff, I guess.

It’s Exciting Forced Landing Time:

Funny, I would’ve thought they’d go through the windshield, but the inertial dampeners must’ve kicked in.

Buck’s captured and brought to Killer Kane’s HQ, where the underwhelming leader of world-wide oppression and villainy makes him an offer to join forces. Of course Buck would NEVER! So he gets the robot helmet.

I should note that they just dropped the soundtrack in at random with little regard to the emotional nature of the scene.

Back in the Hidden City, everyone’s given up Buck and Wilma for dead, except Buddy.

“ . . . and this happens to be a clip show, yes, I think it’s possible.”

Somehow Bucky convinces the Science Poobahs to send him to rescue Buck, and maybe they think “we can get this annoying kid out of our hair, sure, why not.”

We return to Kane’s city, a great set:

The guards hear something, and turn on the searchlight . . .

. . . which was previously the Paralyzing Ray, but never mind. He makes it to Killer Kane’s council chamber, which is such a brilliant idea. And so:

Eh, never liked that kid anyway, but it was a fun scene for the juvies.



That'll do! See you around.




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