I awoke with the knowledge that one thing was required: I had to dig eight holes and plant eight bushes and thus would the yard be perfect. I was also conscious of something else: I was dizzy. And I hadn’t even gotten up yet. I laid in bed on a Magic Carpet, bucking and swooping. You can ascribe a swimming sensation to standing up too quickly, but if the mere act of rejoining the conscious world - already in progress - causes vertigo, something might be askew. After breakfast I went out to the back and began digging in the dirt, but I could barely get the spade in the earth. My muscles felt like sheets of lasagne noodles after an hour in a warm bath.

“I’m sick,” I told my wife. She suspected I meant “in the general sense of not wanting to dig,” but as the day went on my point was made: grey, wan, drawn. I had the Denver ague.

It was 2008, and I’d come back from the Democratic National Convention with a horrible cold. The problem was this: the Republican National Convention was going to be held in town in a few days, and I had to get the shrubs in, because we were having a party at the house, and everyone was coming. Guest list: Dick Armey. Matt Iglesias. Everyone in between. So we hired a kid and he put in the bushes. The day of the party the event-arrangers came and built a big tent for the band, which was John Andresik (“Five for Fighting,” aka) and no one could see the bushes at all.

A few years later two bushes died and were replaced. This year they all went out. I bought five to replace the eight, as per wifely command. Can you see the problem? Even number holes, odd number bushes.

“I need to dig a trench,” I told my wife. “We have to obliterate the holes and the only way to do that is a trench.”

So I awoke with the knowledge that one thing was required: a trench. But first, breakfast; the aroma of French Toast and bacon was unmistakable, and gave the day a marvelous start - something instantly ruined by a glance out the window, which revealed the 56th grey clammy day in a row. I also needed more Brown Mulch, because the tale of late May and early June is always the tale of mulch Mulch MULCH, so daughter accompanied me to Home Depot. She got to control the music on the way. We settled on “No Speak Americano,” which we both enjoy and never tire of, and then for a joke she called up “Gangnam Style” which made us laugh because SO. OVER.

I got the mulch while she took flower pictures for Instagram. Then I went home, dug the trench, put in the bushes, dug all the dirt out of the planter box my wife used for tomatoes until it fell apart. As I took out the dirt the iPod played old radio shows, and I realized that I’d not only heard this episode of Suspense before, I’d heard it last year while putting down dirt and seed on the front lawn. I knew just where I was. It seemed a long time ago. Less than a year, a long time ago: that’s a good sign.

On the other hand, I knew how this episode turned out, so the conclusion wasn't really a surprise.

Dumped out six bags of sodden mulch, arms screaming more with each one. Quit after five hours, showered, hit the hay for a nap - and right after I was certain I was standing in my mother-in-law’s laundry room watching Jasper Dog walk past like the Cowboy in the party scene of “Mulholland Drive,” I snapped awake, the only evidence of being asleep being the fact that I had thought something in a dream I would not otherwise conjure.

I laid there for a moment, waiting for the room to revolve, but that was long ago. That was the time of Eight Bushes. This is the era of Five. I went downstairs and made coffee and started the lasagna in the oven. Toted up the day thus far, counted the accomplishments in the muscular twinges, caught the scent of lilacs in the kitchen from the bouquet garnished from the bushes outside, and pronounced it all a grand success.

The bushes aren’t dead yet, after all. Only been a day but that’s a good sign.

Also approving:

Is he America's Dog? VOTE NOW!





Not film reviews. Just a peek at old movies and the ideas or images they contain.

Not the most compelling title, is it?


You don’t think about dosage strength with death; it would seem to be an either-or thing. Holy crow, fella, taking a small dose of death is bad enough, but you just took too much! You’ve overdosed - on death! Right.

The movie is based on a story in Saturday Evening Post, and if there’s one thing that guarantees a rather humdrum movie experience, it’s a movie based on a magazine story. There are exceptions. This is not one of them. It concerns a wonderful boon of the modern era which some drivers, alas, abuse:



I don’t think that taking too much St. Joseph’s Children Aspirin would be disastrous. Here’s our hero!



A fellow who used to go to school just a few blocks from my house and went to the movie theater where I used to rent videos. He’s sent undercover to find out where the truckers are getting the drugs. But first he has to find someone who’s taking them.

That’s not as hard as you might think.



Chuck Connors, reminding people he would have made an awesome Biker Frankenstein.

Eventually Peter Graves finds a job sitting behind a wall with two windows and a wheel, and pretending he’s a truck driver.



The other guy isn’t very happy, but that might be because he read ahead in the script and saw what happened to him.



They really had a peculiar idea about which local stories would move the papers, didn’t they.

Eventually Peter Graves gets a lead from a waitress who writes large enough so the camera can read her confession; awfully decent of her.



This leads to the woman who’s behind the plot to move huge amounts of pills. She’s tearing out a match from the matchbook, nervously.



Where did it come from?

Okay, I’ll help. A close-up.



I’m not sure why I know this, but I do. Why did I notice? Because it's a matchbook, of course.


Odd week - Monday was a "holiday" even though I did this and wrote a column; Tuesday I have to give a speech, and then Wednesday is column night. Expect the Bleat to suffer. But it'll all be better come June. That's what I've told myself on every grey damp May day. It will be better. It has to be.

Of course, it doesn't, but who wants to think about that? Comic sins update, Strib blog and Tumber after 12:15 or so. Have a fine day! I hope you have sun.



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