I hate digging in the dirt.
I make no apologies for hating sweaty, filthy, manual labor, and I don’t believe it ennobles the soul or teaches some homely virtues. If you like it, great; if you take personal satisfaction from digging and planting and building something, my hat is off to you. My wet, stained, hat. To me it’s always meant one thing, and that’s my glasses falling off my face because I’m sweating.

Saturday’s task was finishing the half-arsed job I started last Sunday, putting down stone by the driveway as an apron for the garbage cans. Why? Because. (Married men are nodding: yes, of course, because.) I was hoping for a full-arsed job, but realized that three-quarter-arsed was probably the best I could hope for, because it involved getting the dirt level.

I have many skills in my personal tool box, but “leveling dirt” isn’t one, and besides, the area slopes, and besides, it curves on one side. Well, I leveled, put down paver sand, got the pieces in, and took a hammer to the remaining piece to break it up to fill in gaps. There’s a big spot that can’t be covered, because there are THREE valve covers for the sprinkler system I never knew about, but I’m thinking I will A) use some pebble rocks to cover the gaps, and B) pray for winter to cover it all with snow.

Then came the Laying of the Sod, one of those jobs that gets you completely filthy before you even start because you’re caring carpet rolls of dirt. I dug and scraped and leveled (hah! HAHAHAhahahaha, right, leveled) and put it down and prayed it would pass wifely muster. Of course, I didn’t have enough, and will have to go back for more, because




requires going back for more of something.

At least I didn’t have to get mulch.

Sunday: went back to Home Depot. To get mulch.

Also I had to get a wheel for the wheelbarrow, because it had gone flat. All the salespeople, or customer-relations experts, or guest managers, or whatever they call themselves, were dealing with an old, old woman who had come for some pebbles. She wanted three bags. Each bag weighed more than she did. She had samples! These! Here! Upon learning that there weren’t three bags, she looked around and said “well, it’s late in the season.” That just hung in the air for a while.

When she left I waved to one of the clerks for assistance; she shook her head slowly and smiled to herself and walked away. Well then. Another clerk helped me get the tire down and I went to the checkout. Two registers. The clerk who had walked away was sitting on one of the counters. I asked if she was open. She shook her head slowly and smiled to herself.

I wonder if the pebbles were gone because they were Kosher pebbles.

A Sainsbury's branch emptied its kosher food shelf after the manager feared anti-Israeli protesters outside would attack it, the supermarket giant has said.

Meats, cheeses and sauces were removed from a Sainsbury's Local branch in Holborn, central London, as it was picketed by demonstrators who were calling on the grocer to boycott Israeli goods.

The incident yesterday afternoon happened on the same day anti-Israeli activists 'wreaked havoc' at a Birmingham branch of Tesco when a demonstration got out of hand.

I suspect it went exactly as the protestors intended.

There is a solution to this, which would require some public outreach and education.

Israel has nearly 1,000 life science firms, of which 29% are in biopharma, developing proprietary drugs and experimenting with stem cells to treat diseases such as diabetes, Gaucher and leukemia. Israel has 23 public biotech companies, a total surpassed by only two countries in Europe. There are about 500 medical device firms in Israel that generated more than $1.6 billion in exports in 2011.

The people who want the grocery store to stop stocking Israeli products should sign waivers indicating that they do not wish to be treated with any medicine or device or course of treatment that is the result of Israeli research. This could be entered into their National Health Service database, along the lines of a “Do not Resuscitate” order, and possibly having the same effect.

Then everyone’s happy. But it's only a start. I think there enough Israeli telecommunications patents to make the protestors think twice about using their mobiles, and it is time for the serious-minded in their midst to foreswear these tainted technologies. Going Jew-free isn’t as easy as it might look, but c’mon, you can still keep in touch. There’s always the mail. It’s not like every stamp has Disraeli on it.


Let’s spend some time on something no one intended to last for eons. Let alone the end of the summer. Behold:

Something tells you this isn’t going to be the hardest hard-core sci-fi you’ve ever seen.

Ronald Stein, eh?

Musical director for the cheerfully schlocky crap-factory known as American International, which turned out some good movies in spite of themselves. He scored about a hundred films, and “Attack of the 50-foot Woman” might be the best known, on account of being a movie about a 50-foot woman. From imdb:

At mid-century Stein, as a young hopeful film composer, wrote to the various music department heads at the film studios in search of advice or suggestions. He received only one reply, and that from Lionel Newman at 20th Century-Fox, who said simply: "Don't come."

That wasn’t a reflection on his scores, I assume, but Newman just warning him off. Wonder why. Where else could a composer go? Anyway, the movie takes place in a small town called . . . Hicksville. Really.

Even the narrator says “really.” Of course, it's some block in LA, and it hardly looks like Hicksville; that's a fairly substantial commerical block and a wide street; the amount of lights down the strip suggests a town that has some action somewhere. If you've seen the Mainstreets feature on this site, you know about Hicksville. And Hicksville this ain't.

But who cares? Here’s the plot: saucer lands. Alien gets out. Is icky. Clean-cut teens who say “gosh” mobilize to vanquish it. Grown-ups are skeptical. Kids get in trouble with the law. Sound familiar? It’s basically “The Blob,” except it came out a year before. According to one person who worked on the film, it was intended as a serious feature but turned into a comedy as they went along - which suggests it was shot fast and in sequence, and that everyone involved was looking for a way to make a rote teens-grope-at-lookout-lane / creature-feature into something a bit more enjoyable.

It has this guy, which helps:

FRANK! GORSHIN! It has a spaceship, which is almost a saucer:

It was designed by Paul Blaisdell, who also drew the illustrations for the title cards. AND made the alien monsters.

Folks helped out and pitched in as best as they could, I guess.

And most importantly, it has a severed hand with an eyeball that has a mind of its own and makes life bad for everyone.

We don’t see what it was attached to, and can only guess. Until we don’t have to guess anymore:

My what big eyes you have. It features a guy who does a pretty good Odo from “Deep Space Nine,” too:

But the real thrill is the creature, who gets his eyeball gored by a cow in a scene that must have provided a throatier full of screams and shrieks. At the end we get to see the creature in the full light:

The default setting for 50s creatures, and you have to wonder what the hell those guys were doing. Angry-looking big-headed things who land on a planet just to inject people with alcohol from their needle-fingers - what a bunch of jerks.

Should you watch it? Of course! Why, it's a mid-century classic, with all the themes of sublimated commie-fear, changing sexual mores, the last gasp of reflexive trust in the authorities, and -

Kidding. It's brisk chipper junk. The idea that people would be watching it on home computers two decades into the 21st century would have stunned its makers, and once they got over the shock they'd fall over laughing.

But I'm glad we can and I'm glad I watched it. "American International" they may have been, but only America could have come up with this.

Work blog around 12:30, Tumblr around noonish or so - see you then!


blog comments powered by Disqus