It rained and rained, but in between the rain there were a few interludes in which the skies held back. So you did what you needed to do. When my weather app said it would not rain for another half-hour, I decided to take up the blankets on the lawn and see if anything had grown.

Never worked before, but this year might be different. This year had been wet, ad I'd watered, and this year I'd done a better job - instead of Onanizing the seed and flinging fertilizer on ground I'd dug up with the . . . the pronged thing, I'd pronged the holy hell out of the ground, added a new fertilizer that swore it would grow grass on Venus (Specially formulated for crushing atmospheric pressures) and laid down the blankets that protected the seeds. Then I took them back up because I forget to add the seed, then put them back down. Today was the test. There were four spots, ranging from a yard-square area to a big long strip about 30 feet long.

Took off the first blanket.


I mean, nothing. Bald as a baby's butt. This was not a good sign. But the others looked a little more hopeful; either those were new shoots poking through the blankets or they were old shoots unmowed for two weeks. Took off the second blanket: SUCCESS! HUZZAH! Grass and plenty of it, brother. Oh, a few bare spots, but they'll fill out, right? Because grass, it spreads out and moves around, right?

Took off the third bandage, and it was 80% grass. Previous amount of grass: 10%. Now it was thick and wild and fantastic. All that remained was the big enormous blanket down by the sidewalk. Once again: 80% where once there was 10%. It worked! I planted seed in dirt, applied water, and something grew!

I hate to say it, but it's a first.

The amusing part, in an utterly non-amusing sort of way - the grass blankets, which had been tight rolls a few inches thick when I bought them, were now huge wet bloaty piles that required four lawn trash bags to remove, and they're not lawn trash because they have nylon string. I will have to put them out with signs that say NOT LAWN TRASH - IGNORE THE CONTEXTUAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE CONTAINER this week, or they'll go to the place where they put the lawn waste and nylon will enter the equation and everything will be ruined.

Except . . . I don't know what they do with lawn waste. We have new bins now for composting, which suggests the old lawn waste is probably fed to a compactor, turned into incredibly dense cubes, shipped to China and thrown down a bottomless well. I don't know. As for the composting bin, so far we've composted exactly Zero Molecules, because I don't have a bin under the sink to dump my Organics. There isn't any room for the bin. In a recent work meeting when the subject came up, a co-worker said she had a pail on the counter where the organics went, and I was incredulous: you have a bucket of rotten vegetables on your counter?

I am from a different country. I'd say different age, but we're contemporaries. I am from the land where the growling grinding teeth in the hole of the sink reduce everything to fluid and hasten it along to the treatment plant, because we are not living in huts on the edge of a field and sharpening sticks in case the sabre-toothed tigers come at night, again. Save the pepper cores! They can be mixed with out filth and heaped around the gourds!

Always thought the future would be a bit more elegant than that. Growing up in the Seventies, I had residual childhood utopian sci-fi visions from the Sixties arguing with the new doomed future of scarcity. Save that apple core! The fiber can be turned into a nutritious paste to be spread over wounds! I thought we'd be tossing apple cores into the Home Disintegrator, which would reduce it to nothingness with a zap and a short sizzle.

If such a device existed today, it would be the subject of endless worried pieces on Salon: The carbon impact of Home Disintegrators. Even though studies show that the energy required to operate an HD is less than the requirements of a sink disposal or a truck that picks up compostable material, the symbolic implications of a device that eliminates our trash says much about our culture, and why it is horrible, and full of horrible people who are not like all my friends

On Medium, there would be a clumsy earnest essay: Tossaway World - How the HD taught us it was okay again to throw away things, and what this says about our attitude towards the homeless and noncomforming gender unbinary people

Amazon would sell them, of course - the middle-range ones would have Cuisinart or Hamilton-Beach nameplates, and the reviews would be mostly fives with a smattering of cautionary fours, few threes, and some bitter ones and twos, all of whom said STOPPED WORKING THE FIRST WEEK. There would be cheap versions that looked okay, and hey Prime shipping, but when you got it the instructional manual had sentences like:

Please to thank for the owning of MetaTech Home Desintegrator 3000. We hope this unit will allow many years of the good

Then Amazon would come out with their own version under the Amazon Basics label, and you'd buy with confidence. It linked to the Echo. You could put garbage into it and say "Alexa, run disintegrator," and Alexa would say "Everything has been disitengrated" when she was done.

By the way: I bought a Dot, which is the small Echo without speakers. Connected it to the speakers in my office. Now in the morning I sit down and ask it to tell me the news and weather. Apple is working on an Echo of its own, and I'm keen to see what they invent. I'm sure it'll be interesting. But by the time they bring it out, I'll have two, three years of talking to my Echo. It listens and it understands; it tells me jokes.

Alexa's voice is more understanding and friendly than Siri. It's a small thing. A nuanced thing. A subjective thing. I wonder if Apple knows this. I suspect they do, and don't think it matters once they come up with something Insanely Great.

But what if someone already came up with something that was Great Enough Already?

tl;dr The grass grew. No home vaporizing machines yet. Soon.


From 1942, the women of the Miss Subway beauty pageant. This year-end compliation ran in Life to tell everyone around the country what they missed by not sitting in an underground tube looking up at beer ads.

Attractive doodling chatterbox Joan:



Mona Freeman wanted to be a magazine illustrator. Didn't work out that way. No, she had to settle, like so many people of her day, for something else. In this case, MOVIES. She signed a contract with Howard Hughes, moved to Paramount, made a batch of teen features, then went into TV and did many shows, including three Perry Mason eps.

She died in 1987, but from the early sixties on, she spent more and more time on . . . painting.

She did this portrait of the matriarch of See's Candies. That's her signature down in the corner.






As is our custom, we're not going straight to another big serial, but running through a low-grade Western as fast as possible. Because they're boring. No ray guns, no rockets; all they can do is blow things up or -

Well, you'll see.



Why does he have to be Zorro? Because he likes feeling pretty, I guess. Anyway, he was in a wagon loaded with gunpowder, and it blew up. Chunks of Zorro the Third everywhere. Or not:

That's odd! In the first installment they made it look as if Zorro the Third was killed when the wagon exploded. Why, sneaking ommisions like this make me wonder whether the filmmakers are being honest with me. I'll suffer a trick like that once, but they'd better not try it again.

As I've said, I don't like Western serials. There are two few opportunies for serial-type peculiarities, like moon cities or Axis villains. I'm not going to do the whole thing, just the highlights. For example:

In the OFS, or Obligatory Fistfight Scene, do hats remain on?



Hats are on. Now, for the cliffhanger: the Spunky Cowgirl who will be Secretly in Love with Zorro III by the time this is over - well, they may have a chaste hug at the end, which is as torrid as these things got - is unconscious in a wagon heading for a cliff. You know where this is going: down.

I'll bet they used that clip in every damned Western they made.

Oh, er, ahem:

Ice Capades concludes - and with it, the 30s. Next week? Any guesses?



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