Rumored reports of problems at the paper are NONSENSE! We're doing fine. This is a leaked ad from next month:


It's there, the power is! In the FOUR. Do not be misled by those who seem to think it's in the comma.

Obviously that's part of the source art for the banner graphic above; the rest came from a newspaper column that told readers what was going on at the Star newspaper. Inside the paper. Because they assumed that people cared. Perhaps they did; bylines were nonexistent for regular joes, the johnny-twenties who did the beat work, but they had about 12,045 columnists, each of whom wrote daily. The editorial page was so thick with type you could finish your lunch-counter cheese sandwich before you got halfway through the serious stuff. The mix, the look, the flavor, the clutter, the damned enthusiasm of the thing - it's apparently unreproduceable now.

The comics were lousy, though. Except for a few. That's always the case. Which reminds me: this week's Entertainment Weekly has a Stephen King column. I will take second place to no one in my admiration for Mr. King - he's written 48,034 novels and there was but one I didn't want to race to finish, and he is one of the most by-God American writers in the Republic's history, and people in the distant future will have a better chance of understanding this culture by reading "Christine" than a dozen dry dissertations about the Symbolism of Chrome in Postwar Transportation Modules. But. He has a best-and-worst column in the latest EW, and takes a look a comic strips: he likes Get Fuzzy, which is good, but says this about "For Better or For Worse." (It) "used to be a winning combination of humor and patjos. Now the Patterson family has been dumped down some weird wormhole in time and I have no idea what's going on or who anyone is."

It's a repeat of the beginning of the strip! She's drawing it all over again, in an attempt to see if an entirely new level of fourth-panel unfunny "ironic" punchine is possible. And it is. A little googling would have explained everything.

As much as the strip sets my molars on edge, at least now I do know who everyone is, since towards the end all the kids blended together into the same Gentle People Making Wise Realizations In Their Thought Balloons.

He is also down on Mickey D apple pies, and shan't quit ripping them till he does get buckled, but he lauds Checker's Apple Pies. Which is why I admire the man. The column is almost Larry King-like in its banality - I mean, here's the full excerpt. "Thanks for Checkers, which peddles those incredible deep-fried apple pies (rolled in cinnamon - yum)." It might be a shock for those who believe he's some Creature of the Night hauting the moors of Castle Rock, relishing the ghoulish horrid stink that rises for the corpseyard, but really: he's a guy who likes a good deep-fried apple pie, and is perfectly capable of typing "rolled in cinnamon- yum" one moment and penning a good dark yarn the next. There's no contradiction. And there's not a writer worth his finely-granulated iodine-added salt in the two-tube snap-apart fast-food packet who wouldn't kill to take a road trip with the man, pull into a Checkers, and buy him a Fried Apple Pie. The column has its cranky old spots, but he's as much an omnivore of American culture as ever - and if it doesn't show up in the work as it did, fine, whatever. If he's 90 years old, watching a TV show, and an actual live sparking wire came out of the set, and waved up and down like a snake that wanted to be charmed, he'd grab it.

This week’s black and white feature was so bad there was nothing I could grab – until the end. Oh, it started out with great promise: Pirate Detectives!

Then the title. Schlemiel, schmozzle, arsondash incorporated:

It’s about a fireman who goes undercover to bust an arson ring. First the department has to make it look like he resigned because he was caught gambling; naturally, this makes the arson ring want to take him into their criminal brethernhood. What could go wrong? The guy’s on the outs with the fire boys. And he can slide down poles! The actor is so wooden he seems a poor choice to be around fire, and the plot is advanced by a deadly duo of expository techniques: the voice-over, and the Civilian Authority figure sitting at a desk telling us what a great job firefighters do. It’s a cheap piece of crap, enlivened by one actor who plays his firebug role with odd cheerful glee. You can’t help but like the guy; he’s like Danny DeVito crossed with Curly the Stooge, as you’ll see in this fascinating piece of dialogue captured here. It's like a Newhart bit - you can really imagine he's talking to someone! (Flash vid; mouse over for controls if not immediately visible.)


Nyuk nyuk! Soitinly! Later there's a shootout in a burning warehouse; pay special attention you'll see how our hero uses his fireman technique to instantly activate stock footage:






(I’ve put the vids on another page to keep the load time down, until I figure out how to make them play only when requested.)

If you want to visit the page, you’ll find two more videos, and additional text. Apologies for the extra click.

The end of the film is more bizarre than anything that came before, and for once I’m not going to explain or make conjectures or tell you who the actress is, or anything. I’ll just show you how the movie ends.

No explanation could possibly do it justice, right?

Since this blew fish guts, I tried another in the queue: NARROW MARGIN. I was convinced right away I'd seen it before, and I had. In fact I own it. But I didn't remember how it ended. I knew enough to distrust the fat guy who kept showing up, though. That was his role: fat guy. Fat guy on a train. Fat guy in a narrow train hallway. Our hero is a cop trying to get a witness to Los-Angle-eese, fighting killers on board and an annoying kid who keeps calling him a robber. The Fat Guy is comic relief - right up until one moment when we begin to suspect he is not what he seems.

It's a great movie - short, lean, inventive, with twists and a great fist-fight in a train compartment. You always think you have it figured out, but you suspect you don't. For example: take a look at this, and tell me if you think the Fat Guy might not be the jovial fellow he's been set up to be:




Do you think he might be a bad guy? I don't know. Could go either way.

New comic, here; see you over at for some more retailing news a bit later. Hope to get that Screedblog essay up today. (Look, I have a job. And other stuff.) And there's the Twitter nattering. Have a fine day!