I needed some shirts to match some ties. Usually it’s the other way around, no? Maybe. All I know is that I have this reputation (narrator’s voice: one or two people had said something over the years) for a sharp combo shirt-and-tie-wise. It’s a monochrome look I like. In a year or two I may disavow it entirely. It’s all predicated on the fact that anyone looks at me at all, which I doubt. People see the Shape of You and the General Abstraction You Present, and fill in the rest.

If you start to dye your hair, and go from grey to brown, you’ll never hear anything. Maybe they notice, maybe they don’t. If you go from black to pink, they’ll notice, because it busts something. If you always wear ties that play nice with your shirts, then it fades away as a signifier; if you start wearing plaid ties with checked shirts, people notice, but say nothing.

Point is, I have some cheap shirts from Penneys that needed to be replaced by other cheap shirts from Penneys, so I had to go to Penneys.

What? You say. Why not head off to a proper haberdasherererer and get good fitted manly rainments? Yeah, well, okay, but no. The most compliments I’ve ever gotten about my shirts and ties have been from the Penneys selections, simply because the colors are bright. I like that. I have a few dun-hued sweaters and I have my black / grey / charcoal sweater phases in winter, but in general I like something with a little pop.

But the Penneys in my neck of the woods - which is a 14 1/2 - closed. This meant a trip to Rosedale.

Ah, Rosedale.

It was my mall when I lived by the U. I knew it well, and all the surrounding stores in the strip malls that hung around it like prostitutes on the wharf where the big ship was tethered. When I lived in St. Paul it was my mall, a straight shot north. But then I achieved Southdale, as we say amongst ourselves, with requisite winks to let each other know we’re kidding but not really.

Alas, Southdale is whimpering these days, and visits are dispiriting. The Mother of All Malls is not doing well. Penneys closed. What might the Rosedale location hold?

Well, let me show you this perfect picture of 1970s mall design.


It’s so desolate I can’t help but smile, because for a while that was modern and cool! I think the glass may hail from the early 80s. It was a brown mall. God, it was brown. Brown brick and stone, brown fountains that should have spouted brown water. I remember going there in a brown coat and buying things, and feeling somewhat disconnected from the moms and kids and adults living their suburban lives without care. College is hell.

I’d been back a few times since, but forgot how they’d renovated. Daughter and I went there years ago to check out a store that sold Cool Things, Many From Japan, and I got the loaf-of-toast pillow that’s still in her room, a smiley thing we told me to keep safe from Birch while she was gone. That was a million years ago. Now I am back, again a lone atom, looking at the families and small kids, everyone seemingly unaware how absolutely precious these rote moments are. Every empty-nester is a Cassandra.

I went into the back door to Penneys, and it was bustling. Crammed with customers and piled high with goods. Found some shirts - hey, big surprise, there’s a sale! Two for one! Except on this shelf it’s buy one get the second for 50% off. Well, screw that, I’m all about the two-for-one. Picked out four and took them to the counter.

Thing is, I had no idea if someone had moved a shirt from the 50% off rack to the BOGOF rack, so I said to the clerk “I have no idea what any of this costs.”

She beeped everything, held up one shirt, and said it did not qualify for BOGOF status. It was discounted.

Well, they’re all discounted, that’s the bloody problem with bloody Penneys, for God’s sake. You never know what anything costs but you’re happy because hey BOGOF.

“Can’t you just count it as a free shirt?” I pleaded.

“No,” she said, with a heavy Indian accent, because for some reason all the clerks at the Rosedale Penneys are Indian, just as all the clerks at the Southdale Penneys were Indian. There’s a big Indian community by Sdale and I suspect a lot of the employees were moved 20 miles to the north. “This shirt is discounted, it is six dollars. It is a very good deal. If you got another shirt you could have it for free, and this shirt would be yours as well. For six dollars.”

Six dollars. Original price: $50.00. Who could resist that sort of bargain? Who could pause for a moment and laugh at the fact that Penneys’ unit price on the shirt was probably three bucks to start? I ran back and grabbed a shirt I had rejected, then returned to the line apologizing to the people who were waiting.

“You just can’t tell what the price on anything is,” I said to the lady behind me in line.

“Boy that’s right,” she said.

I waved SORRY to everyone else and the clerk beeped five shirts and I was done. Decided to walk into the mall to see what Rosedale looked like now.


Then I drove home, something nagging at the back of my head. But I wouldn’t know what it was until the next day.






We return to the utterly generic story of . . .


This being black and white, we have to take the "purple" part on faith. He's not much of a monster, either. He's not very good at this at all.

The cliffhanger resolution:

Here’s your Purp in all his fearsomeness: owie! Run away!

I was under the impression that Dr. Uncle Scientist was in the ambulance, but I guess not. He’d been transferred to the car of a henchmen, and as the episode begins he’s taken back to the Observatory. Purple Monster does the smoke-trick thing and occupies Dr. Scientist’s body again, so he’s up and moving around. Last episode, remember, he had some sort of paralyzing condition; no more.

He tells everyone he jumped out of the car and walked back to the Observatory, which everyone believes because it’s not like the Purple Monster could have figured out a way to stop the car and retrieve a dazed, weak old man on his hands and knees.

Now Purps has to call the home office.


Oh man we have nothing to fear from the Martians. To answer the Emperor’s question, Purple Monster says “allow me to give you a complete report” - and you know what that means. It’s a clip ep. Tenth in the series, and they’re so strapped for story they’re reduced to recapping all the previous failures.

The Emperor says you know, this Foster guy is a problem. Eliminate him. To which Purple Monster says “you betcha,” like that never occurred to anyone.

At this point the henchman pipes up and says “you know, I got this hotel room downtown where I take care of people who won’t play ball. I take care of ‘em by telephone. Get him in that room, and I’ll see he doesn’t trouble us anymore.”

Whereupon Purple Monster beats him to death with his fists for never mentioning this before? Nah. He pays a visit to Foster as Dr. Uncle Scientist, says “hey, I just remembered that Purple told his henchman to go to this particular address,” so off goes Foster.



Just what every hoodlum has in his apartment.


That'll do; some insider ads await you in the Sixties section.


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