And now, the Worst Bleat Week ever!
I don’t know what that would look like. Compared the cornucopia of stuff, it would probably look like the Bleat c. 2003, with some topical commentary, a note about parenting, a couple of tiny pictures of a movie I watched, and nothing else.
Somewhere back in previous Bleats, I’m sure I described my new coffeemaker. A Cuisinart! Nine, ten years ago. I go through a lot of coffee makers, and a confession must be made: now and then I get a new one simply because the aesthetics of the old one annoyed me. I check Amazon, find one I like, read the reviews.
Top review: makes great coffee, easy to clean, had it for four years and works!
One-star review: broke after 27 seconds, brewed only poison bile, when I complained the company sent hitmen to my house
A few years ago I got a new one because the old one gasped and died, and the replacement unit was HUGE. I called it Big Head Todd, after a band I’ve never heard, and that stuck with me. Since my previous coffeemaker had a smaller profile, I wondered why this thing had to be so damned large. Eventually it had to go, because it was taking up too much space. Braunspreading.
Then I got a Hamilton-Beach unit that had a K-cup spout - two machines in one, fantastic - but it smelled like a petrochemical factory and the K-Cup function broke after the punishing routine of making two or three cups per week. They company agreed to send me a new one, if I cut off the cord and sent it to them as proof. Somehow I never got around to that. Somehow I think they knew I wouldn’t. It seemed like sending them a war trophy, proof of a battlefield atrocity.
The original high-class coffee maker brand, in my mind, was a Krups, since that’s what the Giant Swede had back at the old place in Dinkytown. The rest of us had Mr. Coffee. He’d been hired by Sperry, a real proper professional job, and bought a Krups. It came with four clear-glass cups, which was an elegant touch; we were used to drinking out of brown ceramic Valli mugs. I thought: when I get a real job, I’m getting a Krups. It’s a sign you’ve arrived.
And I did! But eventually it broke. Over the years I’ve gone back and forth between this brand and that, looking for something that had sharp styling. For the last year I’ve had . . . well, a Krups, but the design was pure Todd. It was too big. It also shut off after two hours, and there was no way to extend that time. One night while shopping Amazon I was lured into the coffeemaker section, and as usual faced my lust for a Nespresso. No! Resist! It’s like K-Cups except they’re made with ambergris! Expensive!
But delicious. I remember staying in the Blu in London with Daughter in 2017; the room had a slim Nespresso and a box of capsules in deep rich colors. I think we used every single one of them. We binged on in-room coffee. In the olden times that meant a pot on an electric coil, with powder dumped in a cup; now it’s espresso with actual crema, and it’s fantastic.
But expensive. I have an espresso machine. $150, does the trick; if I want espresso, bring it down from the cabinet, fill it up. It’s such a production. Pull out the . . . I don't know, what's it called, where you put the coffee? The grounds wand? Ffill the basket, tamp it down, watch it carefully while it dribbles out the potent ichor. A lot of work for a few sips. The Nespresso, it’s . . . it's magic. Put in the capsule, press the button, and it's like a replicator.
No! NO! Resist the siren song. That’s what the Keurig is for. The single cup of coffee goodness. Except for some reason it doesn’t make hot coffee anymore. It makes coffee you can toss off with two gulps. Okay, google, Keurig, tepid . . . ah. Many complaints. There’s a page with LIFEHACKS that helps you get slightly hotter coffee.
They are not hacks in any sense. It's just advice.
So, no Nespresso. We've made a vow on that, and it will last at least three months. But this Krup I have. Such a Todd. It shuts off after two hours and there's no way to keep it awake any longer. Still. it works. So I'll struggle through.
Two days later, green ring on the Echo: Alexa has a notification. Your coffeemaker will arrive today! Oh, I guess I pulled the trigger the other night. It’s the same Cuisinart I had years ago, unchanged. Smaller profile.
This might be my third one, because I know the drill: put in the filter you’ll never replace, throw away the measuring cup. When I took it out I had to laugh, because this is the same coffee maker the Giant Swede has now. On Super Bowl Sunday I looked for the glass mugs in his cabinet, because I knew he had them still.
“To Jennifer Beals,” I said, toasting the past.
For a while he had a picture of her taped to the wall by the coffee maker.
When you can say something like that without explanation while holding a nondescript glass coffee cup, and someone understands you’re referring back to the early 80s and no more need be said, well, that’s history.
"I got a new coffee maker," I said. "I got the same one you have."
And swear to God, this is what he said:
"You got sick of Big Head Todd?"
There's a reason I'm doing this one, and you'll learn all about it on Friday.
Here's a challenge: who might this be?
You'd have to back that up. You couldn't say "Number One = Super Hero" and reveal that it's a movie about the Green Arrow. Oh, sure, it could be "number one" in the sense that he's the best but you know that's not the objective. The producers were banking on the audience knowing . . . .
That's from the trailer, and perhaps a re-release. The title card for the movie was a bit more sedate.
Like Nick Carter, it's a detective character known for decades and mostly forgotten toda. Wikipedia:
Shayne debuted in the novel Dividend on Death first published in 1939, written by Dresser as Halliday. There were fifty Shayne novels published in hardcover by Dresser (until 1958) and a variety of ghost-writers. Twenty-seven more were written as paperback originals for a total of seventy-seven. There were also 300 short stories, a dozen films, radio programs and television shows, and a few comic book appearances that included the character.
The books were typically well plotted, with Shayne often gathering the suspects at the end and explaining the crime and naming the murderer. In the book Blood on the Black Market, the comedy aspect of the earlier novels disappears and Shayne is forced to deal with his wife's death.
Comedy, eh? Tailor-made for a programmer, which require a quippy protagonist. Before you start asking who cares, what's the big deal - well, there were 12 movies. There were more Shayne movies than Star Wars movies. There was a radio show. There was a TV show. The Shayne brand stood for something.
In the 1945 radio shows, Shayne is famous - toast of the town, feted by the police, and all the other things you really don’t want in your PI.
In 1940, he’s having his furniture taken away because he’s missed the payments.
Nolan has a nice comic edge - plays him with a comic edge that sets him apart right away from all the other programmer dicks. He can go from amusing to hard-boiled in a second.
He’s supposed to keep tabs on a misbehaving daughter. She has a gambling problem, but since this is an amusing B-movie, she’s not a drunk or a desperate gambler, or likely to end up in a skin mag. She’s just a little wild, that’s all!
That means we have to go to a club . . .
It's supposed to be swank and sophistiated, but it looks like a small-town banquent hall.
Let's meet the obligatory elegant crook who runs it the joint:
As you might expect, he gets involved in murder - and it’s a nasty frame. He sets up a fake murder to scare the wild daughter, but get this, it turns into a real murder! As always, everything’s breezy, and our hero wiggles out with glib ingenuity. We're not here to review it. We're here for the details that tell us what the culture was telling the audience about itself.
Like this apartment lobby. You know it's a high-class joint, because the phone is white and the lights drip with cut glass. All that streamlined crap, that's history. That was always nouveau riche anyway. Real money knows class.
So who’s this guy playing the desk clerk?
You can build a whole story out of this, can’t you? Comes to Hollywood, gets noticed for his pan - small roles, no spark, drifts on the edges for a decade, gives up.
Robert Conway was born on June 12, 1908 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Robert Anderson. He was an actor, known for Down Argentine Way (1940), Moon Over Miami (1941) and Joe Palooka in The Counterpunch (1949). He died on June 18, 1969 in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Joe Palooka was no small role, so he must done okay - hold on, wait. No. The title of the movie was Joe Palooka in The Counterpunch. He wasn't Joe at all. His credit is way down at the bottom. Steward.
Oh, those rich-gal fashions:
Oh, those ice-cold dames with gats:
Oh, those wild daughters who turn out to be a right gal on the level after all:
You might not be completely surprised that the murder is resolved when everyone is standing around in a room talking, and the fast-talking shamus wraps it all up. It’s a convention of the genre. And I can’t help but imagine the audience arriving late, or paying scant attention, or dipping out for peanuts and losing the thread, and not really caring because this was the B picture.
The big one was next. Everyone settled in and got ready, and thought no more about Michael Shayne. Until the next time they were at the pictures, and a Shayne came on, and they were pleased: hey this one. These are good.
You know what? They are. On Friday we're learn how the radio show took a dark twist, and hear a few surprising voices.
That'll do - Matchbooks await, and I'll see you around.