Perfect start to the month so far. But I’m not a dog. The firecrackers started on Saturday night, and he is unhappy. Hence this piece he wrote.

We took a nice walk before the terror began. I’m at the point in life where I can walk around the neighborhood and recall who used to live there. That’s the old Johnson place. That’s where that family lived where the dad lost his job because of some shenanigans, it was rumored, and ended up selling retaining walls. Which is a useful job! It was the shenanigans part that made it sad. What happened to them? They came to the Haunted Triangle Halloween party for a while and then they didn’t. I get the feeling he’s living 50 miles out of town in a self-contained exurb like Becker, maybe working at the outlet mall. This part of life - the house, the wife, the kids, seeing them off on the bus - a long-gone episode that feels like a dream.

The continuity of living in one place can wear on you, and you miss the times when there was a critical mass of parents who had kids going to the same school, and we all met down on the corner in the morning. Now it’s newer families, replacing the ones who downsized or snowbirds or went to the burbs for newer and nicer. There’s still enough of us to gather at the block party and reminisce and feel as if it’s our place. It still is.

We went down to the creek, because Birch wanted to smell rabbits. Well, he wanted to kill rabbits, but we’re not going through that again.

This two blocks from my house, in a dense area of town.

That’s a secret path down the creek, where he can drink cool crick water, and probably throw it up later if it has some funk in i

You really can’t tell a dog no, we have cold water at home, like a parent who doesn’t want to buy a Coke because they have some Shasta in the fridge.

Speaking of which:

This was the budget stuff, but we didn’t know it, and we liked it. Ours was not a pop family, so I associate Shasta with picnics and trips to the lake. The phssst when you pierced the top with a church key.

Why a “church key”?

The term in the beverage-opening sense is apparently not an old one; Merriam-Webster finds written attestation only since the 1950s. Several etymological themes exist. The main one is that the ends of some bottle openers resemble the heads of large keys such as have traditionally been used to lock and unlock church doors.

Yes, because everyone was familiar with those. Someone handed a friend the can opener, and he said “why, that looks like a church key.”

“It does? How do you know? Have you any experience in opening, or closing churches?”

“No. In fact I don’t even know if the church door has a lock.”

“So why do you say it’s a church key? Why would the church door be any different from a standard lock? We live in the suburbs. The church we attend was built in 1949. It’s got standard Yale locks. Saaaay . . . you’re not really a time traveller who just spent a lot of time in the 19th century, are you?”

“Ha ha no not at all! You’re right, nothing like a church key at all! It’s a modern tool with a pointy end, so unlike the church keys of the 1860s as found in rural Montana, where scholars have long supposed was the originator of a doctrine that went unnoticed by mainstream religion, burning like a fire in an underground coal seam, until it erupted in the late 21st century and transformed Protestant Christian dogma in ways no one could have foreseen, but seem almost inevitable from the perspective of a later century. I am ready for to have Shasta in me!”

Maybe that’s it. But why would people all over the country at the same time start using the term, instead of the absolutely correct “can opener”? Because that was reserved for tin cans that had corn or chili? Perhaps.


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

Oh, look who’s telling us about Things to Come:


Got that wrong.


Annnnd got that wrong.

  Those were the days when you could advocate for “selective breeding” in the newspapers and people would nod along over their breakfast.

Interesting formulation, no doubt familiar to the educated readers of the day: the Militarist-Commercial. Seems a good phrase to gather in the pacifists and Reds.


It’s a dull piece, and she doesn’t get into specifics.

For some reason.


Look, guys, it’s either eugenics pretty soon, or it’s mass death at the hands of the inevitable super-race.


The answer to the social foe-paw:


The more things change



Repeat: it is NOTHING.





Behold: Canadian sci-fi.

Billy Idol does not sing the love theme, alas.

We’re in Canada, where an airbase has been established. It uses nuclear power. Naturally, when people start showing up dead in barns or in the forest, it’s blamed on the base, and nuclear power.

A rather spare control room:

They’re not far off: turns out some local Scientist decided to harness the stray atomic radiation that just gushes out of the power plant, and use it to project his thoughts. Just as an experiment, mind you! Of course it created a Monster who could not be seen, but would knock over pails and other objects with ominous slowness as it was en route to strange someone.

Eventually we see the thing and it’s a disgusting stop-motion blob of brain jelly.

That’s when the movie gets terrifying, if you’re ten. I don’t have to check the imdb page to know it’s full of reviews from old guys who saw this when they were young and got nightmares.

Suddenly there are lots of the brain critters, and they turn their fury on the man who summoned them into being:

At the end it gets absolutely insane. This talky, show-nothing movie turns into something the likes of which I’ve never seen from a late 50s movie. The survivors have barricades themselves in a house, a la Night of the Living Dead, and they’re dealing with face huggers straight out of Alien, except that’s 20 years to come.

Ah, here’s a review:

I've read many comments about this movie from those that I assume just recently viewed it. In 1958 my brother and I saw this film at the local theater. It must have cost us at least 35 cents to see it and one other movie. To sum it up it scared our socks off. Remember that sick feeling you got in you stomach when you watched Alien for the first time. That same feeling and probably worse is what we experienced. The shear terror of the invisible beast and the subtle way the movie lead up to revealing the monster created a tension an 11 year kid in the fifties was not ready for.


When the atomic power is turned off, they all dissolve, and that’s disgusting, too.

For the era, that's really quite something.

Now two ways to chip in!




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