We needed a new corded phone. I should note that the corded phone is cordless, at least as the term was once understood. They were the miracle of the ages: walk around and talk without trailing the the beige umbilical that always kinked into a messy spiral like damaged DNA. I don’t remember when we got the first one, but it changed my life. Why, you could sit outside the house in the warm months and talk on the phone. Not that I talked a lot on the phone - for me the phone is mostly for arranging times you will talk later. This is a male thing, i believe. For many women the phone is for talking in between the other times you are talking in person.

So it’s cordless, but the base station is attached to the wall. So it’s a corded cordless. A month or two back Scout ate one of the remote units. There were three. One died; he ate the second - well, chewed the battery compartment and severed two wires. So there was but one, which is never on the floor of the house you want.

Years ago we had another set with a genuine innovation: you could add your own rings, and customize the little color screen to show who was calling. This required Windows, of course, so I created a Boot Camp Windows partition on a laptop for the express purpose of customizing the phone. And this led to an entirely different technical clusterfarg that consumed a week and culminated in the usual weeping and blaspheming, but eventually everything worked and I could enter tiny, tiny pictures into the phone’s memory.

I also made wallpaper to indicate whether the phone was the upstairs unit or the downstairs unit. You may ask: who cares? Please: it was an attempt to keep phones from migrating, and besides, I cared. If you can customize you must customize. The ringtone combined a comforting and ethereal chord with the old-style bell-ring of a classic phone. I liked it, and it was part of the aural domestic landscape for a while.

But then those phones died, as phones will these days, and I had to get something else. There was nothing comparable. The people who make corded phones have given up. And they gave up five years ago. The turnover in interfaces, as you know, drives sales and innovation; people always want a new look, a new feature, sharper screens. But TPC* has decided that no one who buys a corded phone is worth spending a jot of R&D on, because these people are technologically dullards who only want BIG NUMBERS so they can see who’s calling without putting on their cheaters or holding the phone at arm’s length.

There's one company that buck the style, or lack of one, but they’re VTECH, which stands for Very Trendy Exceptionally Cheap Handset, and one experience with those was enough. Really: for a consumer electronic to remain unchanged for ten years is unimaginable, but it’s the industry’s way of letting you know you’re buying the equivalent of a VHS recorder. Sod off, grampy.

Speaking of which - and you’ll be relieved to know I’m referring to VHS, not sodded-off grampas - on the recent Goodwill trip with daughter I saw a heap of the machines. Seven dollars. Tempting, perhaps, to see what old VHS tapes might yield, but the selection of tapes is just what you’d expect. It’s like the records: the good stuff has passed through the thrift store ecosystem, I fear, and there’s a lull in the supply chain until the boomers really start to die off. I was going through the bins while daughter looked for ugly sweaters, and as usual - it’s always like this - there was a vaguely creepy guy going through the bins as well. Every time I took something out he shot a glance at what I’d found, as If I’d taken his prize. I really doubt he was looking for the album of Swedish parody songs I bought for a dollar.

He had put aside a Linda Ronstadt album. Memories of youth. I was looking for Ray Conniff. Memories of someone else’s youth. Mind you, I don’t like this stuff, but I find it fascinating, and I think you’ll enjoy the coming Thrift Store Vinyl site. It’s not intended for people to swoon and say “now that was music! Not like that yeah-yeah-yeah crap! Back when the radio made you feel good!” and other remarks that made you wonder whether YouTube consists of four distinct categories: pedants, trolls, idiots, and earnest nice old folk.

We also went to ARC, which is like Goodwill. Packed. Shelves and shelves of Christmas stuff, proving again that the good kitsch has gone to antique stores, and the thrift-stores are tasked with finding new homes for recent cast-off items. I don’t think this will find a home soon:

Unless of course those kids look just like yours. At the LP bin a woman had set aside a Kate Smith record, which made me think of Peg Lynch, of course; she appeared on Kate’s show in the brave and terrifying days of live TV. Sondered how she was doing. I’d left a message on her answering machine for her 98th birthday, but hadn’t heard back.

Off to Target. Phone rings. Look at the screen: Peg Lynch.

It’s a damned odd life, it is. As I note - and is obvious from Friday’s old radio-snippet feature - I listen to one of her shows every morning as I start my day; the phrase “Written by Peg Lynch, Starring Peg Lynch and Alan Bunce” is spoken by Stuart Metz at 9:45 or so, as if the show was coming over my radio. And now here she is. So we chatted for a while about family and dogs and radio and writing. Made my day. Then a shopping trip with daughter, which was great fun because A) I’d already gotten staples the day before, and this was Christmas fun for her, and B) because it was a shopping trip with daughter, coming at the end of a bubble-tea-and-thrift-store run. AND I’d put up more Christmas lights as wife wanted, without being prompted or nagged five times.

Best day for everyone involved. Except for the phones I ordered from Amazon. They should come tomorrow. I hate them already.

---

*TPC is the super-powerful organization in "The President's Analyst."

   

For higher wages, perhaps?

Well, when last we left the Bat Man, he was about to be blown up. Or drowned? Hurled? No, stabbed, that was it. Stabbed by moving walls bristling with knives. Just the sort of thing you have in your average Evil Japanese Spy-Criminal Lair.

Robin opens up the trap door, hands him a conveniently nearby iron bar, which he uses to brace the walls until he can climb out. But it’s too late for Linda: the captain is a Borg! Er, I mean, she is now a Zombie:

The Japanese evil spy-crook is happy about that, but not so much so when he learns that Batman has escaped. What if he tells the police about the place?

 

Chamber of Harrs, boss? What’s that?

Batman and Robin find the collapsed tunnel, and it’s so unnerving Robin almost flubs his dialogue:

 

 

So it’s up to the street to find the other secret entrance. The crooks spot Robin getting into a limousine, and think “we should follow these guys who have confounded our every effort.” Chase ensues, past another backlot structure . . .

At least I think it's one. Something Garden.

And then an absurd fistfight shot night for day in someone’s front yard. We're really scraping the bottom of the location barrel all of a sudden.

The vanquished goons are taken to the Batcave, where the guy caught a few episodes back is still sitting, tied up. Before they can interrogate the goons, Alfred tells them they have a note from someone setting up the rest of the episode’s plot, requiring them to go to a remote location for fisticuffs and peril. They’re to be fed to the alligators in the Japanese Evil Spy-Criminal’s office.

But first that means capturing him. This is done quickly, as he discovers zombiied Linda and is distracted. A goon hits him on the head. AND SHOOTS HIM! Nah, they put him in a box and drag it across town to deliver him right to the main HQ of the Japanese sabotage effort, which probably violates all the rules of spycraft.

But at least he checks the box to see if it contains one (1) Batman, right?

Nah.

Well, we had a fistfight, an explosion, zombies, a car chase, and alligators, so that’s not bad. Don’t miss next week’s thrilling conclusion: The Room of the Rising Sun of Batman!

 
 
 
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