Everything's beautiful now. This may seem late for some of you, and in a way it seems a bit late for me, but it's high spring in its generous glory. And that means work. For my wife, that is. She is in charge of flowers, both in the garden and in the pots, and there are now 14 pots at least in the backyard. I help, of course; when they are done, I pick them up and move them. This is the order of things because I have little aptitude for flower planting, and that's her hobby. Leave me the manly things!

Like drilling hooks in the gazebo for hanging baskets. That was Sunday's #1 duty. I got out the cordless drill, stood up on the ladder, conjured up the lethal scenarios (Basically, I fall on the drill) and tried to get the bit into the wood. Fresh battery. It struggled. I pushed. It whined.

Not enough torque, I said, manfully, and I got out the corded drill. It is not as much fun as the battery-powered drill, because you don't get to slap a fresh battery into the handle like you're loading a cartridge. This time the bit went through the wood like butter. Screwed in the screws. Tight as a drunken tick. Next one.

This time the drill went too quickly, and formed a hole wider than the screw.

Sigh. Off to the hardware store. Two screws. One to drop in the grass and lose until the lawnmower shoots into the stucco of the house, and one to fill the wider hole. It worked. I went to a smaller bit, and drilled the other holes. Too narrow. Took some wristwork to get the screws in.

Wife comes home, sees baskets, is pleased.

'Bout time for a nap now.

Because I am doing podcast ads for Hello Fresh, they’ve sent me some food. This is nice and I appreciate it. Reminds me of last spring, when I was doing all the delivery services to upgrade our dining experience, and had all those problems with Blue Apron - namely, rotten produce. They would apologize and credit my bill and send me more rotten produce.

The meals we got from Hello Fresh have been fantastic, and I look forward to starting up the service when Daughter goes away and I’m just cooking for two. (internal screaming) (make sure internal screaming temperature reaches 160 decibels) Here’s the telling detail that says a lot about me, and not in a good way. The reason I like Hello Fresh more? Brand Names.

The ancillary items have labels. A can of tomato paste? Label. The tiny jug of vinegar? It has a brand. They could invent all of them, like Aldi brands that remind you of real brands (Captain Mackintosh Fishsticks, Mama Rotini ravioli, Thai Cafe curry - the last one because there’s no recognizable names, so they just add “cafe”). But I don’t think so. The sour cream containers have that child-like drawing style with cows and green letters. The Italian additions have serif typefaces and images of countryside and vine. It’s as if they went to the store, looked at all the stuff you’d like to buy but didn’t because when would you use it? And it’s so expensive! And they used a shrink ray to turn them into tiny, hotel-shampoo-sized versions.

Chopping the vegetables is the most time-consuming part, and this is what makes you feel like you’re cooking. Look at me, ma, I’m coring a termato.

They’ve sent boxes to feed four, which is nice, because there are three of us. But when I re-up I will look at the options for TWO or FOUR, and of course: empty nest. Downshift.

Last week I had to take her out of school to get her Invisiline tooth-movers. The penultimate batch. It was a merry trip in the morning, and I don’t remember what we were discussing, but it was funny and peppery, another installment of the monthly drive to the indistinguishable low-slung suburban office building. It seems I can’t remember which one it was. I overshot it once, twice, three times. I puled into the wrong lot once, twice - so now it’s a joke, a bit. DAD. IT’S ACROSS FROM WHOLE FOODS. Well what isn’t.

Now she just runs in and gets the stuff and I don’t have to sit in the lobby. You spent a lot of time as a parent just sitting in beige places with 80s music and last month’s Time, waiting. Waiting for the door to open, the twenty-something tech to come out with your relieved child, and then you hear about this or that and everything’s fine, and see you in six months, and then it’s down the stairs of some suburban office building with abstract art on the wall, and it’s part of a continuum that rolls along with lazy unconcern until it’s the LAST, and then it’s DONE.

Every damned day has a LAST. We get graduation announcements from kids who used to come over when they were seven, and put pink boots on the dog and pretend he was a cowboy prince, and that’s the LAST I’ll hear of them.

Well, it’s not all like that. Friday I got the Criminal Background Clearance check for daughter to send in with her visa application.

That was a first!

Anyway, summer's over:

As soon as those show up, the season's shot. If you want to think that way. Or could just walk outside and look around and realize: Everything's beautiful now.



We continue with our fiesty newspaperwoman light-mystery series:

There’s nothing here you haven’t seen in a dozen other programmers. There’s also no Chinatown.

Well, there's an opening shot. That's it.





I want you to think about the Torchy Blaze theme song. Here’s the second movie’s opening, which established the Torchy Theme.






Here’s the "Chinese" version. With a little Gershwin thrown in.


With that style of music, you have to have this style of type:

The plot is the usual ah-so-so huggermugger - stolen jade, honor, many ancestor curses, and so on. Torchy gets a warning:

The more things change, etc

There’s one fellow not listed in the credits - Lem Ki, the unofficial Mayor of Chinatown. A go-between.

No, he’s not Chinese. Tetsu Komai, who, at the time of this movie, was about three years away from FDR’s internment camps. He resumed his career after the war, but it took a while.

I'll give you a few clips.

Man, they were hard-boiled, even in their comic mysteries.

Second, our bumbling flatfoot McGonigaliheenehan or whatever, has developed the ability to compose verse on the spot.

Third: these sure are some convincing Chinese criminals, wouldn’t you say? Or, of course, as the movie would say, climinals:

Forgettable entry. But people didn't go to the theater to see a Torchy. They went to see the main movie. This came first, and it gave a few laughs and a bit of mystery.

You got a lot for a quarter in those days.




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