I went from having the best shift in the world to the worst shift in the world, previously, evenings 3-midnight with Saturdays and Sundays off; now, overnights, 9:30 to 6 in the morning with Fridays and Saturdays off. Any other time of year it would be slight gradients more palatable, but in the summer, when it’s hot as balls out and the sun stares right at you right when you’re fixing to go to bed, and when there’s nothing on television worth a darn, well, I’ve spent this summer feeling mighty upside-down most of the time. It’s the kind of thing you can try to correct for and keep trying to correct for but that you can’t get straight. If I draw this shift next quarter, I can tell you I will have questions.
It is though a great opportunity to binge-watch television programs. I have watched Parenthood. I have watched Brothers and Sisters. I have watched Ally McBeal. I am now on season 3 of Better Call Saul. And I want to mention something about the third one there.
Anne Heche has died. She is in seven episodes of Ally McBeal. She plays Melanie West, a tourette’s-having cutie who for a moment is a romantic interest for the silly little man known as John Cage. She is delightful in it. I would enjoy watching outtakes of her working in rehearsal with Peter MacNicol. I know she did much more other work. It’s just I recently watched her in this. And this was an actor who lit up the screen. It is sad the context of her end, the firey car crash, the anoxic brain injury. She was my age almost exactly and born in a place I know too well, Aurora, Ohio, though she did not grow up there.
I will say this too about the show Ally McBeal: I found it more compelling now than I did then, mainly because I know more music. What TV show these days would suddenly break into a cover of “To Sir With Love?” Who does that? I don’t know what neighborhood in Boston Ally McBeal’s world is in, but I’d like to check it out sometime.
And Olivia Newton-John as well. It’s odd, if there is ever an earworm from this person for me, it’s “Hopelessly Devoted” from Grease. Then maybe the weird ’80s mainstay “Physical.” Then maybe “Magic” from Xanadu. It’s weird how a musical artist like that can seem so innocuous but can be so vital. If Linda Ronstadt ever goes, you’re gonna have to give me a day or two to process it.
Binging Better Call Saul is a great experience though. I was watching it when it first came out, but I think I lost interest trying to figure out what Mike Ehrmantraut was doing with that stupid battery and the tracker. I had to look it up on the internet this time, and I’m here to tell you, it’s pretty smart. Quite a crafty way for ol’ Mike to meet up with Gustavo Fring. That’s the beautiful thing about Vince Gilligan. He trusts you. In the Mike storylines, there is barely any dialogue. They want you to watch, to bear with a slowly-unfolding story, to cheerfully receive a story not told but shown. So much so that I had to go look up the thing with the tracker and why Mike was hooking up a AA battery to a radio. Okay, here’s what he was doing, ready?
Mike drives away from the location where he tried to kill Hector[b] and unsuccessfully checks his car for a tracking device. Certain he was followed, he completely dismantles the station wagon he was driving at a local junkyard but finds nothing. While looking at a sales display of gas caps, he has an epiphany and takes apart the one from the station wagon, where he finds a battery-operated tracker.
After finding the tracking device, Mike obtains an identical one from Dr. Caldera, studies its function, and discovers it remotely warns the operator when the battery runs low. He replaces the tracker in the gas cap of his sedan with the new one, drains the battery of the one he took from his sedan, and stays awake all night to watch the sedan. In the early morning, someone arrives to change the tracker on his sedan for one with a fresh battery. Because the man who replaced the tracker is actually carrying the one Mike placed on his car, Mike is able to follow him.
Do not mess with Mike. I’m just saying.
Meanwhile today is the day that Salman Rushdie got stabbed in the throat at Chappaqua of all places and the day that we all found out that Former Loser Preznit Carnage the Magnificent likely actually absconded with nucular documents. Can we impeach him yet? I mean, again?
Here’s a picture of my cat.