It was a good weekend, but of course, diminished in all possible ways from those of yore. And that’s fine. When we all had kids around we all got together on Memorial Day for the first tentpole of summer’s three-ring circus, usually at the Crazy Ukes’. (We always had the Fourth at Jasperwood, because I had the space for fireworks. Theoretically. Not that we ever had them.) Two years ago, when Daughter and Judith from Barthelona were here, we had an old-style family jamboree. Which was nice.

By the way, we all zoomed with Judith just the other day, catching up on things. Rotary exchange has a strange bonding power. She was here just a while but she just got grafted into the family cosmos. She’s out of high school now, in college, and doing tutoring for later-year high school students. They are, she said, unmanageable. Insolent, diffident, disrespectful. They regard the entire classroom environment as a meaningless joke.

Wonder how that happened.

Well, chores: dug a spot in the side yard and planted grass. Dug a spot on the west hill where a great tree once stood, and planted seed. I expect absolutely nothing to grow. I watered a lot, which is pain in the tuckus - the sprinkler system is down, so I have to move the oscillating sprinkler every 15 minutes. It’s a big yard. There’s nothing you can set your mind to doing when your watch buzzes after 14 minutes, and you have to go downstairs, down the hill, grab the sprinkler, reposition. There are eight zones I have to hit. In each instance there’s a moment when I let go of the kink in the hose (and I fully accept that I’ve just ensured this page will come up in google when some desperate person in the throes of some obsession searches for “let go of the kink”) and I have to run fast to escape the water.

Because it’s cold. There’s nothing like the spray of sprinkler water across your back. It’s like being raked with gunfire, without the penetrating-death part.

I did have a duty epiphany, though. I was texting with the Giant Swede about lawn duties. He sent a picture of his infestation of helicopters, the two-bladed Maple tree seedlings. I sympathized, but thought no more about it. When I went down the steps I suddenly saw that there were helicopters everywhere. Previously I had ascribed them to the Cycle of Life - eh, they’ll just go away, they’re green, they’re natural. But now I thought: wife would like them gone. So I got out the leaf blower, and began herding the seedlings into piles to be hoovered up. Nothing makes an ordinary man feel like he has superpowers than wielding a leaf blower to bend the wind. Periodically the cord would disengage, and I would feel bad for everyone: this is but a temporary peace. Take no solace in it.

Did the gutters as well. After it was done - an onerous, irritating task - I dragged all the cords back up to the patio level, whereupon I learned again that electrical cords will Laocoon into thick knots without any assistance. I untangled everything and rewound the cords around the spindles and tossed them in the shed with the job-well-done sense you get when you do something your wife didn’t have to nag you to do.

Shower, brief nap. After 15 minutes I had a sudden dream of Birch growing tall and leaping over the gate. That’s the thing about Jasperwood. It has a long fence that encloses our realm. It has an enormous expanse of public-facing grass that belongs to the world, inasmuch as all can see it. In the hard hot depths of summer the yard has its flaws and aches and bare spots. But right now, at the start, it looks as lush and thick and green as it was the day when came here. Even if the Memorial Day events have passed, and the dogs have changed.

For 20 years I had some lights in the back, and one of them finally broke. Found some replacements and hooked them up.

Yes. Summer's here.











If you remember, or care, or a strange combination of the two you can best chalk up to habit, we took a look at the faces of the most recent Airplane Perry. I was stuck on one face, which leaped out from primal childhood.

It was, of course, her.

What was the trigger that made me put two and two together? It was the Talosian’s startled expression when Captain Pike grabbed her, him, it. That matched up. All this goes to show is what an impression the show made at an early age, and on subsequent rewatches.

For one thing, the fate of Captain Pike was truly horrible.

That made an impression.

When you think about it more than anyone intended, it suggests the limitations of their technology. In modern Trek he'd be right as rain. In creaky Trek he was disfigured and immobile. Had a nice hair stylist, though. Came in twice a month.

All a cliche by now. But the pilot, nested and parceled out in the two-parter, was a different Trek, one that had its roots in the tropes of 50s sci-fi. The Enterprise was out there, alone; you didn’t have the sense that it was connected to a vast organization that could muster force in great numbers and get somewhere quickly, like TNG. I mean, in DS9, they could muster a fleet.

Something else: the sense that Talos IV was a very bad place. You got the death penalty for going there. I mean, if they’d kill you for going there, there had to be something awful on that planet. The Talosians were frightening and revolting, and their world seemed empty and doomed, with a few humanoid wormy people sitting in sparkly caves living out false lives in their head.

Which, at the time, seemed a sad dead-end for civilization.

It was good TV sci-fi, and Trek would have been different if they’d gone with Hunter. I think it would have been good, but Hunter was more of a military figure than Shatner, and seemed less inclined to amusement or romance. He didn’t have the time.

Since then we’ve had other Pikes. I liked the fellow in Discovery, who brought a sort of paternal authority the rest of the show lacked, being filled with silly Millennials who tear up all the time. Well -aware of from the eye-rolling inclusion of Jan 6 in the sequence about the Horrors of the Past, I sat down to watch “Strange New Worlds” with the same hope that accompanies every new iteration of Star Trek.

First ep of TNG: I was happy it was back and ignored all the things that bugged me.

First ep of DS9: impressed, although I found Brooks to be cold.

First ep of Voyager: I liked it, loved the theme and the ship, thought Janeway sounded like Katherine Hepburn after a carton of Camels, winced a bit at Neelix and Kes.

First ep of Enterprise: loved it. Period. But I’ve always been an advocate for that one. Sorry.

First ep of Discovery: immense wall-to-wall disappointment, beginning with the go-nowhere theme.

First ep of Picard: warm bath of familiarity, feelings of gratitude.

First ep of Strange New Worlds: well, stay tuned. As I said somewhere here, I lived long enough to be not interested in Star Trek, which I never thought would happen. We'll see if I can be wooed back.



It’s 1952, and these are from Billboard. Let’s go roller skating!

1 Recommended for seasoned skaters who know how to use it, and won’t smash their face on the floor a half second later:


From Pro-Tec-Toe to Pos-Tiv-Lok:

Ah, the old clamp-type.

Never stayed on.

“We went skating for an hour. Well, we spent an hour there, total. I spent half that time getting my shoes on.”

This seems like a highly complex and no-doubt-patented gadget:

Yes, always trust Chicago Skates . . from Pittsburgh!


Other items for the trade.

Real butter-like:

So, not real.

Simonin’s was a vegetable oil refiner, or so I gather from this item sold at an HO model train vendor.

In fact, the train car is what comes up the most when you search. The company appears a few times in lawsuits, one of which was for “mislabeling of salad oil.” Verdict: guilty.

Okay, we’re done skating and eating. Let’s move our show to another network:



“Pouring the Cole.”

Cole and Baxter: what a lush number that must have been. Shall we listen? We shall.




That will do! Off to Sunday Quasicomics now.





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