Sorry. Fargo! And many points in between, the details of which will be relayed soon. In fact I'm already back.

Oh: we found the vases. They were in a cupboard I hadn't thought to check. Wife put them there last Christmas and no one had thought about them since.

So I just put them back and played dumb when she asked where I found them.

Found what, Polla?

Polla, you are not well.


While I'm out and around, something from my favorite museum / antique store:

These were taken a few weeks ago, so half this stuff is probably gone. The stock moves at a remarkable pace, although some things endure for years. Guess for yourself what lasts, and what gets snapped up fast.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say:

And I'm right. How do I know? Google! Yes, that miraculous invention brought up an obit for a fellow who bought Andersen drug in 1955 and changed it to Skelton's, since that was his last name. He's gone now, but lives on in the friendly version of his name. Skelly's.

This one might be a bit more difficult. I don't even know what it is.


Well, that took exactly one click. Ritchie makes automatic watering devices for livestock. The logo's almost the same, but this fellow . . .


. . . doesn't seem in vogue anymore.

A few items from the kid department: Ken and Barbie, and what, Scooter? The simulacrum of a nuclear family, except it's not. Can't be, right? The little kid is Barbie's sister?


It's a picnic set, and includes slots for the role-model instructional figurines to be placed so they can stare at the dark lid with open, unseeing eyes.

I have no context for this:

"Slide into the mayo Bobbie Jo, slide! You'll never get a chance like this again!"


Something else forgotten in the age of email: V-Mail. You'd write a letter and it would be photographed, transfered to microfilm, then expanded upon reaching whatever theater your boy was serving in.

National Postal Museum:

V-mail ensured that thousands of tons of shipping space could be reserved for war materials. The 37 mail bags required to carry 150,000 one-page letters could be replaced by a single mail sack. The weight of that same amount of mail was reduced dramatically from 2,575 pounds to a mere 45." This saved considerable weight and bulk in a time in which both were hard to manage in a combat zone.

In addition to postal censorship, V-mail also deterred espionage communications by foiling the use of invisible ink, microdots, and microprinting, none of which would be reproduced in a photocopy.

Then there's the three-dot-dash detail, which I've discussed enough here before that you ought to know what it means.

Oh, all right.

Finally: a King Red Crown pin from Brunswick-Balke-Collender. It's shed two-thirds of its name now.

But there's more. It's a ceremonial Gift Pin. From. Not to.


Also what?



We begin a new one now, having finished with Commando Cody. (Don't worry: he'll be back.) This one, from the first episode, looks great. Of course, they all look great on the first episode.

The music tells you you’re going to get plenty of “Oriental” action here, with the usual strains of psuedo-pentatonic music swaying back and forth to indicate the standard traits: obscure mystery, fortune-cookie proverbs, Wise Old Men in Pajamas, and so on. At least that’s what the music usually means. But it ends with something that just sounds like it was composed drunk, and played drunker:

The Black Widow theme.

Well, we meet the Black Widow right away, trying to get a fellow to sell her some industrial secrets. He declines, and of course says “I’m going to the police.” Alas, he’s in a spider-equipped chair.

Cue the spinning papers:

Musician ill on day of wedding? STOP THE PRESSES

We meet our heroes: a newspaper publisher, a lady reporter to provide peril-related opportunities, and Steve Colt, a mystery writer the newspaper brought in to solve the story.

Because that’s a natural move: get a fiction writer, because they’re good at solving mysteries! Like the ones they write and know the answer to before they even begin.

They get into the car and start to look around for where a watchman-killer might hang around. Nice backlot shots.

As it happens, it takes them about three minutes to find . . .

. . . the lair of the Black Widow. Does it matter how? No. Well, that’s a short serial. What are they going to do for the next 14 episodes?

Of course she plays dumb; she hadn’t seen any of the victims. Well, dead end; cross her off the list. Kidding! Colt has a picture of the last victim, and that’s helpful: the Black Widow has a henchman standing outside her fortune-telling studio. Guy named Blinky. He takes pictures of everyone, and acts as a lookout. for some reason he tells Colt where the pictures are developed, and the BW overhears the conversation on her secret radio. Just to make sure everyone’s suspicious when they weren’t suspicious at all before, she sends someone to take all of Blinky’s photos from the developer. And so:


Hats in combat! The guy with the gun is a real tough guy, you'll note. RUN AWAY.

Uh oh, though: turns out the Black Widow isn’t alone in her spy perfidy. Her dad’s in on it. Man knows how to make an entrance:

Turns out Dad is interested in world conquest, and needs something to beat the Atomic Bomb, and he’s trusting his daughter - Sombra, by the way - to do his bidding. So she has to set up a meeting to learn something to get the secret for a rocket fuel or something (doesn’t matter; this McGuffin will cease to be relevant in five episodes), and this requires impersonating the a woman. She’s a master of disguise:

I expect we’ll be seeing that as much as Dad’s explosive throne. Anyway, her disguise lets her get the drop on Dr. Bruce Weston, who has the Rocket Fuel Formula. In a safe, of course. The Mystery Writer shows up, and proves himself as adept as every other writer when it comes to killing people seconds after he entered a room:

Sombra escapes. Hey -

Haven’t we seen this street before? Wasn’t there a bank robbery in Commander Cody that took place right here?

Sure. Anyway, car chase, and you know how that’s going to end, right? Over a cliff? WRONG:

Not bad, not bad. I like the unlikely hero, and the villain is different, being a villainess. Should we stick with this one to the end? I think we will. Stay tuned.

Or, untune all you like, just come back here next week.

Lots more tomorrow - in the meantime I regret to say I have only a seventeen page update in the Industrials section. With four 1950s music cues. Shame overcomes me. I feel sorry with my rice.


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