How was your weekend? Me, I crimped. And then I crimped some more.

About five years ago we bought a trash bin container, to hide the shame of the trash bin. People drive by your house, see the trash bins, they think: look at those declasse people, generating trash, generating so much trash they have to get a bin for it, and then they . . . put it out on the curb, I guess. It’s so common.

So we got a small shed that hides the bins so people think better of us. It was on Mayfair, and it had to be painted. It took about four years to fall apart completely. I was able to repair it somewhat, but the screws could not longer find purchase in the wood, the whole thing came out of true, and it looked like a Dogpatch outhouse.

Replacement options? The same thing, which would fall apart, and had to be painted, and oh by the way was an utter horror to assemble, or something made of plastic and hence eternal. The options are quite presentable, if you ask me, but my domestic associate disagreed. Eventually we hit upon the idea of a fence around the bins, and while I thought I could do this, I also think I could do a circumcision if you gave me a mallet and a scapel. Just wouldn't be a good circumcision.

No, it would be better to hire someone who was skilled in the ways of wood. And so the fellow came on Friday and built a small fence around the bins. It is anchored to the driveway. It looks fine. Wife is already planning ways to improve it and add some sort of details, perhaps the cliched Artsencrafts lines and crossbars.

In the course of judging the new fence she noted that the downspout on the garage has a substantial indent, caused by a visitor who did not judge the distance correctly. It would be nice if that was replaced. Like, now. So I went to Home Depot and got a length of downspout, and had a fellow cut it. He worked with the brusque industry of a Civil War field surgeon, but I can’t complain, I can just note it and move along in typical passive-aggressive fashion. When I got home I set about crimping.

It doesn’t seem as if residential downspout designs have changed in a hundred years, except that the tubes are thinner and of course brought over from China, because God Forbid I pay $18.99 for something made here, instead of $17.49 for something made in China and schlepped across the bounding main. In order to mate all the pieces I had to crimp one portion to fit inside the other, and this is maddening. The piece you are bending says “oh sure, I’ll indent a little, no prob! Buuuut I’m just going to pop out over here if that’s okay with you.” So you’re crimping and recrimping and tricrimping and so forth, until you can get the damned thing on.

The next step was to drill some holes to get the screws in to hold it to the wall, but I had planned this very carefully, and had no plugged in the batteries for the drill so we’d just have to wait for that until tomorrow. Nap time!

I kid. I took the nap before. I was also supposed to paint the shed door, because the same fellow who made the fence in about three hours built a new shed door, and I had every intention of doing that on Saturday, but hello: ACE Rewards just sent a batch of coupons, and they’re not good until October 1. Huzzah!

And now, our 2023 first-of-the-month feature.

Oh boy! Thinks the kid as he grabs the paper from the table. Another of those stories about what life will be like in a hundred years. Bet this one is about going to Mars and living on a canal!

Hey, what is this


Not the most exciting topic.


His eyes skid over the story, looking for something interesting . . . gee, vegetables as hard as bricks, that’s great

  It’s like no one’s listening to Grandpa but he keeps going on and on

I don’t quite know what he’s talking about here, but that’s me.


It almost has an H G Wells character to it. A future with larger fruit. But of course!


Look at the name again: a man still revered, it seems.

Luther Burbank (March 7, 1849 – April 11, 1926) was an American botanist, horticulturist and pioneer in agricultural science. He developed more than 800 strains and varieties of plants over his 55-year career. Burbank's varied creations included fruits, flowers, grains, grasses, and vegetables. He developed (but did not create) a spineless cactus (useful for cattle-feed) and the plumcot.

Spineless cactus is a good insult, waiting for the particularly apt application.

My favorite fact:

In 1931, while visiting San Francisco, Frida Kahlo painted a portrait of Burbank emerging as a tree from his interred corpse.

Lots of things are named after him. But not the Burbank with the beautiful downtown.



The expression on the woman on the left says it all: gawd how this biddy does go on







The typeface tells you we're in for some ORIENTAL INTRIGUE.

Wong was Monogram’s answer to Chan. A lot of people like these movies. I’m not sure why. Oh, they have their pleasures, here and there, as we’ll see, and who doesn’t want to watch Karloff in anything? But still:

Probably one of the very last people I would expect to play an Asian detective.

Karloff would play Wong in five movies, with Keye Luke stepping in for the last one. I’ll have to find it. First time they used an ACTUAL ASIAN to play an Asian sleuth.

Wiley wrote 20 stories.

In the stories, James Lee Wong is depicted as an agent of the United States Treasury Department, who takes orders directly from his bureau chief in Washington and has other agents under his command. He is six feet tall and a Yale graduate with a special knowledge of the physical sciences (especially chemistry), and resides in San Francisco's Chinatown.

Hugh Wiley continued to write short stories into the 1940s, and also returned to his original profession as an engineer, writing on the subject. Additionally, he wrote on the subject of early Chinese jade and bronze, an interest that, undoubtedly, intersected with his original impetus in creating James Lee Wong. He died of influenza at the very end of 1968.

So: SF in 1940. Took me a while to find this one.

The taller building is the Russ, and the row of featureless buildings is gone. Or so it seems.

That’s the last we see of the real world, because it’s nothing but sets from here on. We have a wise-cracking reporter, a cop on a mission, a jade dealer (of course) and a carefree romantic youth. Somewhere in here is Jason Robards’s father.

What’s in the paper?



Subhead: Interest of Utah Democratic Committeeman in Two Cases Called to Farley’s Attention

The rest doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the matter. I wonder if anyone ever noticed, or cared, or just took it for granted that dummy papers were dummy papers.

One noir shot, from which we take this year’s banner:

Here’s the interesting part: the discussion of remote-control radio.


At the end, after a mere hour and six minutes, it's all wrapped up and we go out with the usual pentatonic Oriental Music. Ah so.



I am not compelled to seek out the others. But you know how that usually goes, don’t you.


Now two ways to chip in!

That'll do. Here we go - another week, with much to see and talk about! Hope you enjoy it.



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