Scout got out Sunday night. Someone left the back gate ajar. Not me. It needs to be replaced; it's footings are loose and the latch doesn't close when you slam it. That's a spring expense. Everyone in the family knows it must be checked but some are more conscientious than others - or rather, some have more on their minds than others. When he didn't respond to my call I checked the gate, saw it open, and swore; time to suit up and head out. AGAIN.

I got in the car and drove around with my mag light, driving slow, interrogating all the yards, thinking how different this was from the utter despair we felt when he first bolted for sport. He would come back. Unless a car got him - but no, don't think about that. Just drive slow and look. Windows open so I could use the flashlight; heater blasting so I didn't freeze. A couple walking their dog flagged me down, and said they'd seen him in the area ten minutes before. Thanks! But what do you do with that? He could be here or he could be elsewhere. He could be down by the creek chasing squirrels in the last few days before snow covers the good rich smells. So I parked by the stairs and got out of the car with my flashlight.

Noticed a car occupied four times. Dome light on. Youts.

Went down the stairs, over the bridge, over the rushing water - now sounding like the desperate mutterings of someone trying to say his piece before the End Closes In. To the field. Call his name. Whistle. Nothing; back up.

As I get in my car I see one of the Youts get out.

"What you doin, bro," he says.

Stifle the urge to say I'm not your bro, bro.

"I'm looking for a lost dog."

"A dog huh."


"You sure, bro."

"Yes I'm sure." I got back in, and got out my phone, and took down their license plate. Because four young men sitting in a car by the creek after dark on a residential street by the entrance to a wooded area interrogating passersby means one thing, probably: they were selling drugs, and wanted to make sure I wasn't a customer. They were still there 20 minutes later. Dome light off and the motor off.

Went back later with the intent of phoning it in; they were gone. Mentioned to this to my wife, who says that spot always has trash around it. She sees it when she walks the dog: soda bottles and pizza boxes dumped out on the sidewalk.

So let's say I see them again, and call it in, and they're caught holding, and they get criminal charges on their records which will complicate their lives. They're just selling weed, probably; is that too harsh? If you say "yes," then you admit that you want your neighborhood to have drug dealers sitting in a car waiting for customers, and that you want your street to be known as the place to buy weed. Yeah, no. Sorry. We have enough petty crime around here - not a lot, but any is enough.

Oh, the dog? As I was driving home I saw him loping back to the den. It was cold and he'd had fun and now it was time to go the place where it was warm and soft and smelled comfy. What goes through their minds, you can't know. Time to go home now - the most basic and elemental emotion, in a way. It's one of the reasons we love dogs. And one of the reasons you go out looking for them, in case the thought has not yet occurred.


I was encouraged to watch "Jessica Jones," because it was Noir-ish dark Marvel, like Daredevil. Well.

I liked the theme!

The problem from the start: the heroine, who is wordly-wise and jaded and speaks in weary noir judgments on the rest of humanity, appears to be about 19. Maybe somewhere in the middle. Of course she's gorgeous; of course she has super powers. Yet she's a bitch to everyone, and issues her brackish demands with the voice of a cheerleader who's trying to sound really tough about missing one of her pom-poms. Oh, and she drinks!

All of that would work if she was older. Had some seasoning. But the pose seems unearned - unless, of course, you're reading what you already know about the character. Because you read the comic books. And if you didn't?

Anyway, she's damaged, but strong. She's underestimated, but can overwhelm. She's hot, but it's that casual no-effort tousled hotness. In short, she is . . . a BADASS!

It's someone's wish-fulfillment, but it's not mine. As the AV Club reviewer says: "I’ll always enjoy shows that feature small women performing inexplicable feats of strength (shout-out to Buffy and Supergirl), and I get a little rush every time Jessica breaks open a door, rips off a combination lock, or knocks out a spastic sportsman."

If anything, the first two episodes might have been titled "Hope you're looking forward to the Luke Cage series, because that, now that looks like it has some promise."




Since it's Thanksgiving week, let's do nothing but food today. Space-age foot. Modern, high-tech food. Food that has shared many intimate moments with aluminum hot and cold. Behold:

"If it's Swanson's, it's got to be rectangular" - rejected 1955 slogan

Mr. Swanson, a Swedish immigrant, bought out his food-bix partner J. O Jerpe, and renamed the company after himself. Imagine if this hadn't happened. Imagine a world of Jerpe dinners. They'd probably be known as Jerps.


As these things usually go, the company because so successful it was doomed. In the Seventies . . .

. . . The increasing number of two-income families and single working parents meant that the primary competition came from restaurant food, either eaten at the restaurant or ordered to take out. This allowed the use of more expensive ingredients, but Swanson was slow to make the shift. In addition, American consumers were being increasingly exposed to more authentic international cuisines and fresher flavors

Slow to shift? Perhaps. The items below came from the 60s. Let us study the Swanson International Dinner Collection.


I'm going to go waaaay out to the thinnest end of the limb and say this was gloopy, salty, flavorless mush:

Or you could have Browned Mash-and-Mush with Chunky Red Fluids


Everyone in your family will say Achtung! when you put this down, because that's all they know of German, and that comes from war movies. Well, they known Heil, but that's not nice to say at the table on account of, you know, that paperhanging SOB. So:

That meat looks like water-logged sheets of balsa wood. Yes, prunes, the final sweet German touch.

Ole! No, that's not right . . . oh, right. Mama Mia! (puts fingers together, shakes hand)


I mean, technically it's food, and it's probably a nice change of pace from the same old salsibury steak, but I prefer my meals don't look like a diseased heart.


Swanson was also slow to recognize the importance of the microwave oven in the heat-and-eat food market, and retained foil trays that could not be used in a microwave long after their rivals had adopted paper or plastic trays. Swanson introduced their "Le Menu" line of meals to address all of these concerns, with more sophisticated menus served on undivided plastic microwavable plates with lids.

So the ones above preceded Le Menu. Which probably bombed as well.

This was what people wanted. This. Now and then for variety, some chicken. But it had better be fried.


The ad copy is almost achingly sad. Declare a Swanson Night =there must be someone's birthday or anniversary or SOMETHING you could celebrate with this small, prefabricated, industrially frozen muffin.

And you supply the candles, by the way.

Our family wasn't much for drink, so there wasn't any wine around except for this stuff.


"Mogen David Dry" seems to be impossible, but their scientists must have found a process whereby the sweetness of MG was dialed back a bit. Since no one in my family knew good wine, they drank the sweetest kind. At least that's what Grandpa always had at the house. Horrible, horrible stuff.

The website is blocked as of Nov 14 for hosting malware. If only the bottles had had such a warning.



That'll have to do; column night, due to early deadlines. But there's Frank!



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