Everything's two, three weeks ahead of schedule, warmth-wise; if the cool times return it'll be a hard mean joke. The little blue flowers - aka weeds, but recontextualized due to their beauty - are out, and the blooming trees are starting to bud. This means it's time to turn on the landscape lighting.

But! It doesn't work. No, of course it doesn't. The outlet was blown, so I reset it and tried again. It worked - but it would pop again if I didn't reduce the load, and that's what I was prepared to do. Replaced half the lights with LEDs I'd bought at Home Depot that afternoon, and that trip was interesting: a guy in a wheelchair rolls up and pushes a button on his iPad and a voice comes from speakers in his chair. This iPad helps me to communicate with you. Can I help you find anything?

It's a macro, but who cares? It's like having Stephen Hawkings help you find light bulbs. So I told him what I was looking for, and he pushed another button: I will find someone to help you with that. And he rolled away. But I found what I wanted, and chased him down and gave him the thumbs-up. Which he returned with a grin.

Sometimes you hear of people thinking man, I feel sorry for people who have to work jobs like Home Depot, and you want to introduce them to the people for whom that job is everything.

So I got lots of bulbs and grass seed and a new spreader and some drain cleaner, because Daughter's pipes no doubt contain a mass of hair, and the previous drain cleaner did not work. This was guaranteed to work or your money back. Why hadn't I gotten it before? Why are there levels of effectiveness in drain cleaners? They should all work. It's like selling aspirin and Extra-Strength Aspirin. No one ever says "I have a headache, but it's not that bad. Better save that extra-strength for a really bad one." I poured it in and set a timer by asking the robot lady who sits on the counter downstairs, then went out front to try the lights.

Did they work? No. It took me a while to remember what I'd done, and why there were two transformers, and where this buried line went - then I remembered trenching all the way down to the bottom of the steps to light up a pathway light. (Which has stopped working, because everything falls apart.) I finally found the right buried wire, and tested it on a transformer circuit I knew was good. Nothing. Got out a test light, tried it: it worked. Moved down the line, connecting and reconnecting, until I found the dead spot; pulled up the wire, and discovered that I'd spiced together two lengths of low-voltage cable, and the connection was now rotten and decayed. (Because everything falls apart, or squirrels get to it.) I stripped the wires and taped it all up and shazam huzzah.

But. Now to replace the old lights with the LED lights. This requires lining up two teeny pins into two tiny holes; you can't see what you're doing, and many oaths are uttered. Eventually all the lights were swapped, and I'd taken 60 watts off the circuit.

For years I have been doing this. A spring-summer ritual. For a few years I was thinking about the passage of time as I did it, then I thought about how I had thought of the passage of time, and now I don't even remember what I was thinking about when I was noting the passage of time. I'm sure it was the usual progression - remembering when daughter was very young and toddling around, Jasper whining at the gate, and then remembering how she was swinging on the swingset, which is now gone, and then remembering how there had been some perfect time back then when all was well.

Which is nonsense; there was always something troubling, always something to brush away, always some doubt and trepidation. There were a few grand times; you can be sure of that. I suppose it's a good sign that a handful can color an entire era - it means it was, in general, a good time. Time passes; lights die; but there's that one moment every year when the timer clicks on and the backyard lights up for the first time since winter bore down for keeps, and you smile: this is fine, this is right. Maybe some day I will remember today, and shake my head: this wonderful place, and I'm so used to it. Is that what I remember? The first year? Oh to go back and do it all over again.

Then I remember: I'm thinking about August, 2001. When the good times were supposed to begin.


Aw, just because:


Because we had enough pinball. What, three weeks? Just a week of this - some things I got out of the back of old yellowed pulps, blew up, and restored to their original whiteness. Keep in mind that the audience for these things was not expected to be particularly discerning. Credulous might be the word. Desperate, perhaps.

You'd think they'd have something like a High Lord Master, don't you? Secretary General sounds like some sort of mystical bureaucracy is behind it all.

Well, it usually is, one way or the other.




I blow hot and cold on "Twilight Zone." Some wonderful episodes. I liked it when they went into space, only to find that they could not escape human nature!!! Trick ending. Some brave episodes, inasmuch as they confirmed the prevailing opinions of right-thinking folk of a liberal bent, and flayed the rubes everyone else treated with obligatory respect. (That was, and is, "brave.")

The worst ones pick some personality characteristic and amplify it until it consumes the character, until that's all the character is - and there's usually lots of overacting involved to sell the point. The worst example is the TZ ep about a grown man who romanticizes his childhood, and he's always talking about the good ol' days in the neighborhood, playing stickball with the gang. He comes across as mentally ill. He's married, holds down a job, and shoots into rhapsodic reveries about Stickball and The Gang at the slightest prompt, and you'd think his wife would so mightily sick of this delusional fool she'd put a carving knife in his back.

Anyway. This ep isn't very good at all. It's called "Static."

In this one, an old guy - Dean Jagger - in a rooming house rails against Television. The vast wasteland, the box of constant ads, the meretricious drivel that beams from the tube and sedates all the borders. One of whom is . . . .

That guy, on the left. It's Robert Emhardt. "The portly Emhardt was typically cast as a villain, often crooked businessmen or corrupt politicians." Yep.

Then there's the spinster and the workin' guy what wears him some egghead glasses for no reason:

Arch Johnson on the right. One of those guys who did a million shows.

Of course the old guy finds a magic radio that plays all the old shows, and gets lost in nostalgic reveries. Okay. Couple of points.

The ep was filmed in 1962. Most of the shows the "old" guy remembers are from the 40s. At the most, the stuff was twenty years old. This is like someone being deeply nostalgic for the early days of internet culture to the point where they're railing against streaming HD video and Spotify. You do get the sense of a chasm between early 60s TV & Culture and 40s culture, but it's just a couple of decades. The man isn't that old.

Two: the shows the old radio plays aren't that good. You don't get the sense that something great was lost. But they were the shows that played while he was courting a girl he should have married, but didn't . . . who turns out to be another boarder, who's been at the rooming house for a decade and change as well. They get to go back in time and maybe everything's okay. You're just stuck with the idea of two people who were going to get married calling it off because he had to take care of his mother and then they lived in the same boarding house for year after year. It's all a stretch.

Three: You are reminded that the internet is the magic radio. The real thing. It has thousands of hours of old radio shows, and I've listened to plenty - which is why the opening scene of "Static" made me laugh. They're watching a Western.



Hah! The music is from the Gunsmoke radio show.


So. I'd leave it there, but I was interested by this.


Credits say the ep was based a story by "OCee Ritch." That was unusual enough to make me poke around. He had a few names - O. C. Ritch, which you suspect was the closest to the real thing, and Oceo Ritch. He wrote for car magazines, it seems, and dabbled with screenplays on the side. He wrote one Twilight Zone ep, and had another - this one - based on a story he wrote. Imdb says O.C. was also known for "The Intruder," a Corman flick described thus: "A man in a gleaming white suit comes to a small Southern town on the eve of integration. He calls himself a social reformer. But what he does is stir up trouble--trouble he soon finds he can't control." Starring . . .



But here's the fun part. The screenplay for "The Intruder" was adapted by Charles Beaumont from a novel written by Charles Beaumont.

Were they one and the same? No: Ocee Ritch acts in the movie. He died in 1981. Beaumont died in '67 at the age of 38, of Alzheimer's.

He's in the movie:


That's your Twilight Zone author.

And look who else is in the movie:



It's not a bad movie, and hardly sensational. Shatner is unnerving, and quite good. Perhaps the only movie where you hear June Foray drop the N word.

My rabbit-hole journey was complete when I looked up the shooting location: Charleston, MO.


And so:

At this point I realized that B&W had become both "Listen" AND "Main Street," and decided I'd stop right there.

That'll do - see you around, like in the newspaper.



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