Wife wakes at 5:45, sensing something is amiss. I'm not there. She goes downstairs; the lights in the gazebo are blazing away, Scout is sitting on the sofa. The back door is open. A chair from the kitchen island is in front of the glass door. She figures I am dead or sleeping on the sofa, but why would I be sleeping on the sofa?

I am sleeping on the sofa, and she wakes me, whereupon I say "Is he back?"

"Is who back?"

"Where's Scout?"

"He's on the sofa outside," and I get up at look at the clock - hey, I had an hour and a half of sleep, that's something - and see Scout is, indeed, on the sofa. I walk outside and he thumps his tail a few times, which could mean yeah I know I know we're cool right though

.Other than that he doesn't have much juice left.

Since he'd been hunting squirrels and rabbits for FIVE HOURS.

I'm glad he enjoyed himself, even at the expense of another hole under the fence. At 11:45 I went inside and left him standing in the back yard, alert, tail up, but that's a common posture. I stood at the kitchen island writing for a while, thinking "he should be barking," but I kept writing, happy he wasn't barking. Went out a few mintues later to see where he was. Nowhere. Didn't respond to the rattling box of Milk Bones, which made my heart sink. Then I found the ONE VULNERABILITY in the perimeter dog-containment system, and a tunnel under the fence. And I said: there goes Saturday night. Gone.

I know I enjoyed getting to know the neighborhood in the wee hours, walking our quiet streets with a flashlight and sometimes a box of Milk Bones, whistling. I think I walked for two hours total between midnight to four. At 1 AM I encountered some Nice Teens on bikes who were heading up to the Water Tower; they were curious why I was walking around with a flashlight and a leash, and as much as you want to say "lost my Gimp" it's helpful to enlist others. They were concerned and wished me luck. Around 2:45 AM I saw a car racing around the neighborhood - stops, puts on the flashers, someone gets out and runs to a house and runs back. Huh? Ah: newspaper delivery. Around 3:30 I saw the same car two blocks away, doing the same thing, which made me wonder what sort of pattern the driver had. After each walk I came back expecting Scout to be at the back door - but the neighborhood is quiet, and I would have heard his bark from a couple of blocks away. I would have heard him as I came up the steps. I knew before I got home that he hadn't returned.

Here's the thing - I heard him at 2 AM, next door. The jingle of his tags. A minute later, a growl. It was like "Stranger Things" - I know I heard my dog! Don't tell me he's gone because he's not! - but no amount of food-dish sounds and Milk-Bone box rattles could bring him over.

At some point you imagine your dog exhausted, plopping down, going to sleep - he'll be back by dawn! That's sad, because he's alone, and probably lost and not fond of either. Your heart breaks for the lonely lost dog. Then you think of your dog dead on the main road to the east, so you get up and walk five blocks to the main road and then north and then west along the other main road. No dead dog-shapes. Rabbits everywhere, which is dismaying, because if he was here he'd been chasing them. It was this last leg, around 3:45 AM, that made me give up.

At 4:17 AM and went to sleep, but left the gates open for him. Put his food dish inside the back door so he'd see it and bark. Left the back door open so I'd hear him from the couch. Remembered this is the Time of the Burglars in our neighborhood, so I put a chair by the door. Went to sleep and dreamed of a troupe of fat Russian acrobats doing espionage work for Donald Trump.

He's been tired all day. Me too. I went to sleep in the good bed as the skies lightened and the birds began to tweet.

Someone on Twitter spoke of the horrible emotions you feel when your dog is missing, and asked if there was a word for it.

It think it's "bowreft."


Following up on last week: I forgot to mention why I thought Apple was doomed. (Note: they're not. And I wouldn't want to be the 23,402,204 person to utter that idiocy.) (But they are.) It's because they're building a huge world HQ. That's always the beginning of the end. Ask Best Buy.

But there's something else. Just now I realized I was low on dishwasher detergent, so I said "Alexa, order dishwasher soap." She thought for about 1.4 seconds and said "based on your order history, you want" and suggested a brand and quantity. "Should I order it?"

Yes, of course, and thank you.

"My pleasure."

I've said before that Alexa is the sort of thing Apple should have invented and sold, but even if they had, there's the problem of connecting to a huge retail apparatus. They would have tried to make a partnership with someone, taken a cut, and scotched the deal.

There's a personality difference between Alexa and Siri, too. The former will tell me jokes. Siri will not. She makes a joke out of how she doesn't tell jokes. "James, get Siri-ous! Ha ha." The laugh is unexpectedly human, and that's something new. But Alexa plays Jeopardy. Ask it to tell me the news, and it plays a briefing. You may think that's dumb, but when you're cooking dinner it's quite handy. And fun.

The very existence of these things is Problematic, it seems:

Imagine if, on a weekly basis, you saw or heard "Xinghua" being compared to Siri. But "Xinghua" was available only in China and only to people who spoke Mandarin. How meaningful would those comparisons really be to you in the U.S.? That's about as meaningful as headlines comparing Amazon's virtual assistant, Alexa to Apple's Siri are to the vast majority of the world's population.


Let's return back to my favorite antique store museum, and see what's available to clutter up your house and make you wonder why you bought it, even though you couldn't resist, and you probably couldn't resist if you saw it again tomorrow.

Specially formulated for that new technological marvel:

This was the brand my parents chose. Or rather my mother; I don't know if my dad ever said one thing or another about the choice of coffees. "The Coffee Delicious" their slogan was - an archaic phrasing that must have connoted class, or something.

The can to the left was Butter-Nut, too. Part of the Americana craze.

In other metal packaging news: wonder what this stuff does.


It's still made - and the product design isn't too different from the version you see above.




They're getting worse and worse, I know. Believe me. I know. This week:

It's never a good sign when the movie consists of a voiceover for the first five minutes, narrating the action. We meet a Scientist who's breaking into a stone crypt to get a body for his Horrible Experiments. If you want to bring someone back to life, your best bet is a husk of a corpse that's had all its organs replaced with sawdust andbw1filled with chemicals.

Let the soundtrack tell the tale! Funny guard drinking music.

While Dr. Otto Frank is chipping away at a crypt to get a fresh body, we meet this guy:

No explanation. He just appears and strangles the guard. We learn that he's an early experiment. The body of a man, the brain of an animal! Which one? The guard-strangling type. That's what animals do when they're startled. They strangle. So it's a kangaroo brain, then.

We meet the old woman who's bankrolling the doctor's work.

Doesn't even enjoy her nightly quart of gin anymore.

She hires three new maids to be dissected for her rejuvination, and that really gives the composer a chance to do his thing.

If you're curious:

Did a lot of schlock - including the e'er-popular "Faces of Death" documentaries that disgusted everyone in the 70s and 80s. Yes, including "The Worst of Faces of Death." But that was a compilation flick.

One of the previous experiments starts acting like a cat. Hans, the monster, has to be chained up, but his presence keeps the maids in line. Eventually the old lady's brain gets put in a cat, but the cat manages to turn the evil scientist into a skeleton and one of the girls - the nice pretty one we all like - gets away and the house burns down and the old lady, in the form of a cat, pursues her to get back her money. Which she will then use. As a cat. For cat things.

It's a few minutes over an hour. There's not a minute that rewards your attention.

So that's it for this summer's run of Creature Features, and yes, the bottom of the barrel has been scraped.

Or . . HAS IT? Yes, it has. And that's why next week we'll end the summer run of monster / sci-fi flicks with one of the best, and tell you a story the movie itself didn't finish - on purpose.

Isn't this where I say I'll see you around, and point you to the update? It is.


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