A great weekend! And an absolutely horrible, mortifying one. How can two such ideas live in the same container? You'll see. Bonus teaser: I really, really screwed up something.

Saturday: The lights do not work in the backyard. The low voltage system I laid out over ten years ago. Ten years! More than that, I realize. Here is the problem with troubleshooting the system.

Lights do not come on.

Experts say this is the first sign of a problem when it comes to lights. So. Is the bulb shot? Looks like it. Replace the bulb, reattach. The light does not come on. Is the lamp good? Check the wire, because maybe - ah. The wire is completely cut. Neatly. How? Why? Did the dog chew it? Was the dog hired by someone to cut the lights and plunge us into darkness so black-clad agents can steal into the house and take my matchbook collection? Well, move the light to the part of the cord attached to the wire. It does not light up.

Hmm. Is the power on? Check the transformer. It is plugged in. Is the outlet good? Reset the socket.

The light is now on! Repeat the process with the other five lights on the circuit. Not one of the lights goes on. Move the bulb from the lamp I’m now calling SUCCESS LIGHT, and nothing comes on. So the lamps are all broken, save one. Seems unlikely, but possible, I say, and I realize I’ve been saying all this out loud, Popeye style.

Anyway, that was the easy part. Now for the second circuit. (There are six, with three transformers.) This line snakes around the entire backyard, and serves about 12 lights. I reattach the cord and turn on the transformer. Nothing. So: all the lights are broken, or the cord is defective, or the second circuit on the transformer is shot. How to test this?

Simple: attach a new cord to the second circuit terminals, attach a new light right out of the box. That’s what you do! Unfortunately I arsed around with three other solutions before I realized the shortest way to prove my point. So: get the transformer from the side of the house, bring it over, hook it up - hello, seven out of twelve lights pop on. So it is the original transformer, then. I think.

This is when I realized that the transformer on the side wasn’t hooked up to anything. I don’t know what it does. There’s also one on the front that drives the lights on the walkway and the spotlights on the lawn. Oh: the spotlights on the lawn stopped working. Last fall. I replaced the bulbs. Nothing. The cord is shot or the lights are shot. This requires trenching a new line by myself and putting down new wire - which was supposed to be last weekend’s project.

SUNDAY I found the wire that connected to the second transformer. It wasn’t attached. I followed it along the house, under the mulch, to the backyard, and discovered the wire was attached to the transformer on the shed. This makes no sense, but there it is. Indisputable. So! Let’s use this extra wire to put in a few more lights in this dark spot of the lawn, okay?

What I should be doing is going to Home Depot for lights and cords to replace the five lamps I started with yesterday, but I’ll get to that. I run the cord where I want it to go, and get out some of the lights I had set aside as broken, except now I’m really not sure about that. But we’ll see. Ask wife if she likes it. She doesn’t. So remove all that and -

Hello, company! Some friends dropped over, and they brought me some stuff from an estate sale. Some old goat who had a randy eye in the 40s; lots of brittle yellowed men’s mag, probably owned by a brittle yellowed man. This cover made my jaw literally drop, and by that I mean figuratively:

First of all, it’s a great shot. There’s your Forties, right there. Second, I knew her. Or rather I knew the shot. I’d seen it in some WW2 publicity stills in our newspaper archives, and I remembered the actress because she was a knockout. Elyse Knox. And here’s the picture from the same session, together on the first page for the first time ever. Ever!

How about that. BTW, her son is married to Pam Dawber. He’s done some TV himself, something called NCIS. Mark Harmon? Ring a bell? Yeah. Bonus: one of her other daughters married John DeLorean. Then there’s this:

While appearing on the Bing Crosby radio show, she met football star Tom Harmon. They were engaged to marry, but ended the relationship when Harmon entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. Later that year, Knox married fashion photographer Paul Hesse who had shot many of her print ads and magazine covers.

The marriage was brief.

Following her divorce and Harmon's return from World War II (during which he survived two plane crashes and being lost in the jungle), she and Harmon married in 1944. Knox's wedding dress was made from silk from the parachute Harmon used when bailing out of his plane.

Like I said. There’s your Forties, right there.

Ninety-four when she passed, in 2012.


While I popeyed away
in the backyard muttering about lamps and lights and cords and transformers, I also practiced the speech I was going to give Sunday night to a banquet. It’s been on my calendar for five months, and you’d think that would be adequate time to write something. But I never write speeches. I talk until I have something, then I write down notes to guide me, and trust the moment. It would be great to have A Speech I can trot out any time, but that’s not the case. Before I went to be Saturday night I called up the home page for the event to get the exact directions - I had the location in the calendar entry with a Google Maps route, and didn’t think traffic would be a problem, but just wanted to make sure.

Hah. Just wanted to make sure, he said.

The speech was Saturday night.

You know that dream you have where you suddenly realize you’re missing something? A class, an event? I have them in performance form: I am supposed to be on stage. THAT WAS THIS. IN REAL LIFE. AT 2 AM. I walked around for an hour beating myself on the head with my fists. I could not believe I’d done something like that - not because I am a perfectionist; I’m not. Not because I don’t make mistakes - c’mon. Of course. But I had not shown for an event and that was the most mortifying thing for which I could be responsible. That is the worst thing I have done in a very long time and all of Sunday was spent with a large rabid weasel chewing on my soul. Eat hearty, little fiend; you’re entitled.

Yes, I too wondered why they didn’t call me. I could have made it. The coordinator left my phone number behind. And so.

Ah. Crap. Well. Still, crap. Yet it passed; it’s over. But. Crap. Now for a week of wincing until I put it in the box and put it up on the shelf with other things I’ve done I would prefer to forget.

Not one of which I’ve managed to forget. They’re in boxes and they’re on the shelf. But the boxes leak.






Well, well, well, would you look who's here:

Yes, it's another Inner Sanctum Mystery. Will it star -

Who am I kidding? Of course.

Whether or not he's a tortured authority figure or an authority on torture remains to be seen, but he's usually good for a role as a fellow who despairs of what strange unfortunate fate has befallen him.

Ah, this is simple.

So he's a mentalist. We start with tilty pictures to give you that off-center feeling. Like this.

And this.

I'm feeling ill. No more, please -

Man, the Luisitania listed less. Stop it! And sure enough, things level off quickly. In all ways imaginable. Alex the Great gets a heckling drunk, and hisses "I could kill him" to himself. While hypnotizing the drunk - something that consists of staring hard with occasional eye twitches, the drunk falls over dead. Alex is convinced he murdered him and the police just don't understand. So he's wracked with guilt! A perfect role for Lon.

Alas, it's dull. He quits the stage and goes to stay in that most dreary of suspense / horror locales, the Wax Museum. Will he kill someone else with his eyes? Probably. Will Evelyn Ankers scream? Probably, but it's not certain. Will justice triumph in some way that's slightly ironic? No doubt. So we'll content ourselves with some shots that say FORTIES.

FORTIES hair and a FORTIES tie:

Here's how FORTIES MEN walk away:

Work that shoulder, mister. Work it.

It's the third in the series, and whatever enthusiasm and pride bore the first one aloft have completely evaporated, and everyone goes through the motions. It takes place in a wax museum, which is supposed to be ultra-creepy, but never lives up to the billing.

That's it for today! See you tomorrow.


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