Wife said the faucet had a drip, and of course I heard this like “Spain is a peninsula” or some other statement of fact.

Wait, you want me to fix the drip? I took a look; the faucet dripped about once every three minutes.

Is it keeping you up? Does the water land on the ceramic with the sound of cymbals clashing? I did not say, because I’m not entirely stupid. I figured it was a washer, so I took the faucet’s nozzle apart. Indeed: a rotten washer. Went to Home Depot with the Giant Swede, where I showed the nozzle portion to the clerk by the enormous display of washers and nozzles, and said I needed something to fix this. He looked at the piece in my hand.

“Don’t have it,” he said.

“You - you don’t?” The unspoken message being how the hell do you know?

He was quite clear. They didn’t have it.

Well. Hmm. When I got home I googled leaky faucets and came up with a page from This Old House that detailed the reasons. Had nothing to do with the washer in the faucet. The problem was a washer, or O-ring, in the part that turns on the water. The Hot or Cold taps. There were four kinds - cartridge, compression, ball, and “the one you have which is the most complex and difficult to fix, probably.” But I was pretty sure I had the cartridge type. And so I set up the iPad on its stand and called up the instructions and began to disassemble the tap to find out what part was causing this VICTORIA WATERFALL of one drip per three minutes.

My troubles began immediately. The screw to remove the tap was of course one of those hex things, and it was A) too small for one size and B) too large for another. I managed to get it out, though, and removed a screw that seemed to serve no purpose except to get lost.

Next step: remove the sleeve holding the whatsit part in place. It would not budge. I padded the area with towels, because I just imagine the wrench slipping and cracking a tile. No good.

I realized I hadn’t even figured out what kind of tap I had, so I took a picture and went to the friendly neighborhood hardware store.

The guy took a look at the picture, said “That’s a cartridge,” and I agreed; my thoughts exactly, my good man. He strode to aisle 8 and picked out a small packet that had the exact O-ring and spring I needed, and said it had to go fat side up.

Okay okay fat side up

I repeated that to myself, my Saturday afternoon mantra. The entire day was now devoted to getting this thing fixed, and that required me to remember FAT SIDE UP. I bought some WD-40 to loosen the sleeve, sprayed it on, and thought: whew, time for a nap.

It was short and fitful, because I knew the project was undone, and wife would be coming home from cross-country skiing with the dog. She had asked me to extend the leash with some bungee cords - don’t ask, long story, couldn’t get the Finnish-word X-Country skiing Dog Leash, yes, there is such a thing - and I was worried that my bungee extender would not hold. I had strung four short cords together, looped the hooks together, used a pliers to close the hooks - still thought it would break and the dog would be GONE!

Can’t go through that again.

Back to work. Unscrewed the sleeve - the WD-40 had done its work, which reminds me to throw away all that WD-39 because that stuff is useless - and extracted the cartridge. Used a dental pick to extract the old O-ring assembly, and fumbled the installation of the new one six times. FAT SIDE UP.

Put everything back together, turned on the water, and waited to curse.

Next time it’ll take me five minutes. That’s what they say about the high cost of repairs - you’re not paying for the five minutes it takes the guy, you’re paying for the expertise he accumulated by learning this repair.

Yeah, I get that, I’d say, but half the time was spent taking time out to check Twitter and maybe go downstairs for an espresso? We got this new machine, it’s so nice - inexpensive, too! Of course, the get you on the capsules, the old razor-blade idea, but I found a good source for those online. Hey, look at this -

The Nespresso capsules are all deep, rich colors. So you have to provide that experience. But look at what they did.

  I guess I understand - they’re painting part of the capsules instead of doing the whole thing, and that brings the price down, but it still feels like a bit of a cheat -

What? Oh, right, the faucet, I’ll get back on that in a minute. Let me have my espresso first.

Mmmm. It’s delicious. Okay, let's check the faucet. No more drip! Let's have another cup of espresso and check Twitter again.

Holy crow

  Sweet Jeebus. Had her on the podcast a few weeks ago. Just the other day she’d sent out a little video from the bus en route to the border, and I was just thinking if this was my daughter I’d be terrified. Sent her a DM saying be safe. Now this.

And I’m happy the running water that I take for granted doesn’t drip every three minutes anymore.



The first, and some would say, the one before the second:

Don’t I mean “the best”? I don’t know. This year I’m going to watch them all - the classic Rathbones, and a few others. Rathbone gets second billing in this one, which seems peculiar to modern eyes - isn’t it all about Sherlock? Of course. But he spends a lot of time off screen, and the cliches are yet to come.

It’s a few minutes before we meet the hero - and in a second, he grabs the mantle for himself with such ease and confidence that every subsequent Sherlock will be in his shadow.


We meet more familiar archetypes first:

The great Lionel Atwill - well, I don’t know if he’s great, but he’s never less than fantastic. Thanks to his Universal monster work, he’s associated with the B&W Old World European mood. We’re also cementing for all time the bond between Sherlock and the gaslit London mood:

Then there are the Barrymores! Sorry, no, my mistake, wrong theatrical dynasty. It's the Carradines! Here’s John:

Wikipedia: “The butler was named Barrymore in the novel, but because of the existence of the real-life John Barrymore of the Barrymore family theatrical dynasty, his name was changed to Barryman in the film.” Mrs. Barryman was played by Eily Malyon, and she was 60 at the time of this film. Carradine was 33.

The setting is fantastic, in the old and new sense of the word. The Moors, the wretched Grimpen Mire, as the audience may have imagined: a misty barren scoured land beyond the sheltering gates of civilization . . .

. . . but a place where hellhounds roam . . .

The dog is not credited, for some reason. He’s a natural:

The movie has moments like this that cement the Holmes we’d never shake.

For ever after, the hat, the coat, the nose.

Like I say, not a review, but if it were, I'd say this one feels like an A movie, and they never quite felt like an A film again, but never cheap like a standard B. It's another reminder what an incredible year for movies 1939 was.

But then there’s the end. I’ve seen the movie a few times, and I always know it’s coming, and it’s still a holy-heck moment.

Will we ever see a reference to this again? That’s what we’ll learn over the course of this year.

That'll do; see you around.



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