Over the course of the last year I came to the end of the life cycle for all pairs of jeans, save one. This meant there was no Plan B for jeans, if they needed the gentle agitation of the washing machine. I had to have another pair. Gap? No. $$$. Banana Republic? For heaven’s sake no; $$$$. Old Navy, that’s the sweet spot. We all suspect they take the same pair and rebrand it anyway, adding $20 each time it moves up the class-status ladder of the chain.

I went to the Maw of America, which is the closest Old Navy. Going to the MOA is less of a production than you might think - parking is always a bit more difficult, since there are 593,935 people at the Mall on any given hour, and you have to troll through the ramps looking for the tell-tale red lights. But you'll find a spot. The ramp and the exit points are a poor introduction to the MOA, and have a certain concrete atmosphere that’s underscored by, well, WALLS OF CONCRETE. Even if they’re not urine stained you expect they have been, or will be. It’s just East German and ugly.

But! Once you’re inside it’s all light and fun and Cinnabon smells. I went right to the Old Navy, where a pretty young lady smiled as though I was the most fascinating and handsome creature to walk through the door in months. Found my jeans, and noted the store was having - get this - a SALE on pants. Since most of my work / professional pants have also reached the end of their lifespan, I thought I should restock, and if I read the signs right I’d walk out with four pair of pants for $80, in all the manly hues: black, khaki, greenish, and jeans. I tried some on. They fit. Huzzah. Off to check-out.

The old Old Navy by Southdale had six check-out counters, and you could always get through with brisk speed. You never had to wait. They closed that store. Op cit, you never had to wait. This one had 12 registers. Twelve!

And three clerks.

The line was long. The line was slow. There were 15 people ahead of me, and judging from the interactions I observed, half the customers were flummoxed by the card-chip upgrade, and did not know how, or why, they should put their card into the slot. The family in front of me was buying enough clothes to outfit the Red Army. Took forever. At one point I saw a manager wander over to approve something or fix an error; he looked at the line, now stretching to the horizon, and wandered off. I saw him folding sweaters ten minutes later.

Maybe it’s just me. But if I managed the store, I would have looked at that line of grim-faced customers and felt a hot surge of Duty. Or worse, a bad evaluation. I would have opened up a register and called in someone else to staff the counter. I remember when I was a waiter and saw long lines at the hostess station - didn’t matter whether you could do anything about it, the atmosphere got a bit charged with impatience.

By the time I got up to the register the line was twice as long behind me. “If it’s like this on Sunday evening,” I said to the cashier, “what’s it like at Christmas?”

He sighed and indicated a certain amount of sympathy with my situation, which of course was tempered by the fact that I would soon be leaving the store, and he was welded to this spot until relieved.

On the way out I passed the manager, who was folding sweaters. I asked him for a moment’s time, and waved my hand to the interminable queue. Launch unanswerable Question #1:

“Is that acceptable?” I said. “A line that long, with twelve cashier positions?”

He got that oh-crap-an-opinion-has-been-requested / must consult company policy guidelines / deflect deflect deflect expression.

“Well we try to balance the sales associates so some are on the register, and others on the floor,” he said.

Because figuring out things at Old Navy is confusing and you need someone to help.

“I don’t really care if someone greets me at the door,” I said. I pointed to the line. “This is what I take away when I leave: How long I waited.”

Wan confused helpless impotent smile. What do you want me to do man

I wasn’t a jerk about it, just straightforward. I did not say: How can you fold sweaters when there are 25 people in line? But such an accusation may have been infered from my general disposition. My problem, of course, is that I thought it would make any difference to say something. I was forgotten the moment I walked away.

“Good bye now!” said the pretty young lady at the door, and I gave her a big smile and said thank you.

Wasn’t her call.

God help me, I almost tweeted something to @OldNavy. Idiocy. Meaningless,

A strongly worded letter, that’s the ticket.

A brief break for something that isn't pumpkin flavored, but has seasonal connotations.

They're Little Debbie Cakes. Once again, the product has been embiggened to show detail, because no one wants to think that the Bat Brownies wouldn't have details. The ones on the box were made of plastic,so the lines in the bats are more pronounced.

Then again, the actual cakes are probably made of a strange amalgam of chocolate and plastic, so the representation is accurate.






The Black Widow, Republic's "most expensive" serial ever, is starting to wind up.

In related news,the titles have inconsistent "A"s. Just noticed that.

In case anyone was coming in late, they got this tantalizing plot detail:

This made his car crash into the river. No one who had ever seen a serial doubted for a moment how that would go.


Steve Colt gets back to town, somehow, and makes his way to the Rocket Fuel Doctor’s cave lair, and consults with the doc - could the Black Widow (we’ve now assumed she’s the Black Widow, the masquerade in the last episode now completely forgotten) have taken a drug in the form of a newspaper clipping that simulated her death? The Rocket Fuel Doctor says of course, and they test the drug. It is indeed a rare drug, invented by Dr. Jaffa - but he’s dead.


Turns out Dr. Jaffa’s old associate is now . . . a book store owner.

Hello, I’m the colorless new guy, and I’m here to advance the plot. They have him put in an ad in the classified section to reach out to Jaffa, who probably didn’t die of a heart attack because duh, he invented a drug that made it look like you’d had a heart attack but just made you cataleptic. The bookstore owner agrees and Steve and Joyce leave.

Of course:

He calls Steve and Joyce back a day later and says he got an answer! Jaffa lives at 34 Chestnut Lane! They’re so happy! They leave.

But wouldn’t you know it: STEVE IS BATMAN. Well, he has gadgets. He goes back to the bookshop and puts on his Serious Business face.

Really thought that one through, didn’t he. Well, there’s a fistfight, and Steve comes out A) the victor, and B) with his hat on. They head off to 34 Chestnut Lane, which is where Ward the Bad Henchman is wiring up boxes of explosives marked . . . EXPLOSIVES/

They’re set off by remote control - in this case, a phone call. Because it would just be ridiculous to sit up in the hills by the deserted shack and shoot Steve Colt in the head. No, lure him in a building and then use a radio to tell someone to call the phone.

Steve goes to investigate, and Joyce gets suspicious - leading to this moment, which is totally normal for a female journalist in 1947:

Such a natural, graceful gait. Then, heroics!

Right. Ward tells her she’s just in time to see her boyfriend get blown all over the countryside, and she doesn’t say “He’s not my boyfriend” so maybe she really does love him. Not that he’s paid her a second of kindness and respect, but perhaps she’s drawn to tall jerks. Anyway, let’s just enjoy this pulse-pounding score. Masterful use of instrumentation and dynamics to heighten the suspense:s

Only two more to go! Will they succeed in stopping the Black Widow from . . . whatever it is she's doing?


It's the middle of the week already? Fine by me. See you around. Oh - Heinz concludes, with some pretty shots.



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