The raccoon returned, which was the signal for the dog to race around the base of the tree, destroying all the hostas. Well, it’s late in the season. The raccoon gave us the usual saturnine stare, unconcerned, and even Scout grew bored. But I texted daughter to come down and see the sight, and she came down with - of course! - her phone, because this could be added to a Snapchat Story she was doing. She asked if I had my phone, and I said no. Rare example of not having my communicator-slab affixed to my leg. No matter, she’d call it up . . . hold on . . . Spotify, search, ah. Soundtrack. She had “Smooth Criminal” called up in ten seconds, and used it as a soundtrack for a five-second shot of the raccoon in the tree.

I remember a raccoon from childhood. Pepper the dog found it in a culvert, and for some reason they deduced that it was rabid. Such were the ways of Farm People. I say “culvert” in the sense of a galvanized metal tube that ran under the road that led to one of the sheds; it connected two ponds, and I expect was used for drainage. I grew up used to galvanized metal tubes connecting sloughs, and if you did, you know what I mean. Thinking back, I wonder why the raccoon was hiding there, why it didn't run away out the other end. It just stayed there. I wonder why we just didn’t let it be. As I said, I have a memory of the Rabies Verdict, and that meant it had to be Dealt With. My uncle got a shotgun and bade us to stand back, and kaboom: rabies, cured.

I was six at the time. I know this because I wrote a story about it, with an illustration on top and the text below on each page. Sort of like . . . like . . . well, it’s not quite coming to me, but I’m sure it will.

Anyway, I’d probably be sent to the office nowadays for a story like that. I would be sent to counseling to make sure I was okay. They would use stuffed raccoons to gauge my level of trauma. To this day I wonder if I remember it because I wrote it down. That seemed necessary.

Sort of like - oh, hell, I don’t know.

It’s like a literary magazine humor column: what if John Cheever wrote a script for a sitcom? Well, he did. I have two unpublished John Cheever stories in my Dropbox. They’ve been read by four people. Five, including Cheever.

Turns out that Cheever was a fan of Peg Lynch and her work, and wrote a spec sitcom script, in prose. Astrid found it in PL’s papers.

More on this to come. It's quite a remarkable find.


Last week they dug a chunk of turf out of the lawn in the building across the street. Yesterday I saw why.

They put out furniture. There are now two sets of outdoor sofas and chairs flanking the walkway, so people can take a break from the games they play on the lawn to have Collaborative Moments, or perhaps just enjoy the sun. the whole building wants to project a "Fun, Innovative" vibe, and it works; there are times I'm envious, even though WE have a firepit and a coffee shop and an atrium and lots of chairs too, so nyah.

It's a long ways away from the barren, cool interiors of 60s office towers; nothing there was supposed to be fun. It was supposed to be profitable. You can't imagine the owners of the Seagram Building worrying that the barren plaza outside didn't encourage noontime hackysack.




This week features the greatest combat sequence in any serial, at any time. Trust me. You’ve never seen a weapon like this. So, without ado of any size or duration, we return to "The Black Widow."

It's not up there with Flaming Death or Deadly Fall, but I suppose it'll do.

By "fight" we mean "was knocked unconscious, his sixth concussion in a week, and was directly in the path of an oncoming car." But:

Now that they lost the handbag with the Black Widow’s handbag, they’re back to square one. They have no idea who she is. Can’t be that fortune teller they keep running into.

Steve hides Dr. Weston, so he can work on his rocket motor and Synotrone. The Widow’s gang can’t find him, so they spin the wheel of characters who haven’t been in peril in a couple of chapters, and lands on . . .

Joyce, of course. The Chief Hench stashes her away, and suggesting that violence is imminent, HER HAT IS ON.

She undoes her ropes quickly, though. Turns out it’s a trick! They meant for her to do it, so they could pretend to know where Weston is, and she’ll overhear, and she’ll escape, and lead them right to Weston!

Steve reacts with all the affection and charm we’ve come to expect:

We don’t hear his plan, but it involves driving past the same old theater we see in all Republic serials, redone here as a hotel . . .

. . . and then it's off to the desert backlot where men in suits and hats walk around with guns. Colt and the Main Hench have a brief tussle - hats remain on throughout - and then the Hench steals Steve’s car. Joyce shows up, and manages to give Steve the needle:


I might be light romantic banter, but I’m certain they hate each other. Anyway GET THIS: Steve planned to let Ward get the jump on him and steal his car, because it has an Oscillator, and that lets him track Ward right back to the Widow.

Not a lot of fair play in this one, but it’s living up to the name.

Sondra’s holed up in a warehouse, and she’ll looking . . . different.

You know why, don’t you? Because Steve’s right behind, and heaven forfend he realizes her Secret Identity in Episode 8. Well, to ensure that Joyce doesn’t get in any trouble while he’s poking around the warehouse, Steve gives her an extra gun and tells her to ditch the car and wait.

Just kidding. I think we may now agree that Steve Colt is the most unlikeable hero the serial genre ever produced:

Of course he goes face to face with Sondra, and doesn’t recognize her at all. She gets the drop on him - literally; there’s a trap door - and he’s in danger of death. But! We can be grateful for the war, which mean that cars were used far too long, and things broke and got loose. Like steering wheels. But what do you do if you've managed to snap off the steering wheel, and you're still handcuffed to it?

You go girl. That’s rocket fuel, of course, not linseed oil. Fight! Steve vs two hunch, and Joyce vs. Sondra. My favorite fight scene ever:

Steve’s knocked out as well. Did I mention this was the most expensive serial ever made? Well:

I've no idea what's really going on, or who the Black Widow even is, but it's all great fun. Next week: more of the same.

And there you go. Longer stuff tomorrow; bet you can't wait for an essay on the solemn drivel of the flaneuse, and her interlocutor. See you around.

Oh - the first part of the Meal Planning Industrial is up, with old images restored for your enjoyment. SO ENJOY.



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