If there’s one thing that proves that dogs remember things long-term, it’s the pump that drains the Oak Island Water Feature. I set about draining it today so I could fill it up - have to get the leaves out. The horrible, sodden, disgusting organic mass of slimy leaves that apparently never decompose. As soon as I brought out the pump Scout got excited. I’m sure it’s the smell, but he remembered that it was interesting, and sure enough when I put it in the tank he stood on the edge and stared down at it. He paced a bit. Then - in a move that shows he’s learned something - he ran alllll the way across the yard to the end of the hose, which was under the fence, so he could smell the water going out.

I’ve noticed he’s learned that when you turn on the water, he runs to the end of the hose. He gets it: cause, effect. I never thought he was dumb, bur I never thought he was clever - failed the pointing finger test, for example, although more and more he seems to understand that: the relevant item is not my finger, but what it indicates. Jasper got that right away.

If only we knew everything they know, but we can’t. If only they knew we didn't know everything they do. But we pretend.

The arrival of the growing season means it’s time to turn on the sprinkler system. Can’t be hard, right? One button, on it goes?

Nay. First I have to turn some handles on the main whatsimajiggit outside, and then turn on the sprinkler system. At this point I realize that nothing’s coming out of the spigots, which reminds me that there are knobs to turn on the whatsimajiggit. Go around to the side of the house, HOLY HELL THERE’S WATER COMING OUT EVERYWHERE I FORGOT ABOUT THIS PART - turn the knobs off! Turn them off!

There’s still water gushing out in two powerful jets! What! Why! Oh: right. I have to adjust them with a screwdriver, so I get the screwdriver, turn them clockwise - whereupon the whatsimajiggit starts jumping and gagging like a dog about to throw up, and I intuit that it’s shaking off the seasons-long torpor, pushing water to the heads which will now rise from the earth like small 2001 Monoliths, except round, and soon all will be well. I went to check the west side of the house, the part of the yard that’s absolutely pointless, and sure enough they were up.

And they were spraying water on the driveway and against the side of the garage. So I adjusted them, not remembering how many heads populated this zone, and one popped up behind me and shot my right in the seat of the pants. I walked over to adjust it and was bending down when the one I had been adjusting raked me with a stream of frigid water, and for a moment I thought I am actually in a silent comedy. A two-reeler? No, I wouldn’t be famous enough for one of those. Yet. Maybe this is the routine that gets me into the two-reeler league, though.

But only if there is more madcappery to come.

There wasn’t. So much for that career.

I remember when the system first went in, and I stood on the porch and watched the water hiss out over the verdant lawn in the evening, and I felt like I lived in a resort. So proud of the place and so happy to be here. That’s never faltered. The lawn is a constant struggle, though. There are patches I swear are impervious to growth, and as I wrote in the column last Sunday I’m ready to spread Chia Pet paste on them. Or perhaps use vocal therapy, as we believed in the 70s. Talk to your plants! No. Yell at them. Drill-instructor style.

You disgust me! I’ve seen more growth on the chin of a 13-year-old boy! You are a disgrace to my beloved lawn! Miniature golf course have better grass and they’re made out of plastic! Do you think this is lush? Do you think this is verdant? Well do you?


(imagines timid sound coming from lawn) sir no sir


Sir no sir!



Now give me half an inch of growth! Do it! Do it now!


Another week of our old friend, The Worst is Yet to Come. What horrors are about to befall ordinary Americans now?

Ha ha, he tried to kill the cat but it didn't work






I’m not going to have much to say about this one, because . . . it’s okay. It’s more interesting as a period piece than an example of the cinematic art.

It’s about Saboteurs. As you may have guessed. Between the credits, we get a look at the cover of the issue from which it was taken:

That should be easy to find. 1944 movie, so it was probably a 1943 story . . . and yes.

I miss that magazine, even thought I don’t remember it. No, belay that - I remember the reincarnation, which appeared at the end of the 60s for a few years. You know what killed it? Along with the usual reasons (TV, greying audience, out of step with the times, postal increases)? A lawsuit.

Also, if you believe Wikipedia, it was a conservative magazine, inasmuch as it had conservative tastes in fiction and other cultural products, and hence, daddy-o, was L-7. Herbert.

For all that, it still exists. Or rather, it exists again.

I love this for two teasons: the script, and the background illo. You know that's from the magazine - and you know a large part of the audience was expected to know this was the style of the Post.

Anyway. The movie’s plot:

Pat O’Brien is a secret agent sent to investigate sa-botta-gee in the shipyards. His cover requires a wife and two European orphan kids. A fake wife:

A typical 40s domestic interior, complete with useless ceramic knick-knacks.

The actress? Carole Landis. Her nicknames: The 'Ping' Girl. The Blonde Bomber. Also: The Chest

As for the last: “Her ‘break’ came when Hal Roach cast her as the skin-clad lead in his hit One Million B.C. (1940).” She broke through with I Wake Up Screaming, a great picture we’ll visit later this year. Her story’s been told here before - tumultuous love life, fading career at the end of the decade, malaria and pneumonia, and an affair with Rex Harrison that sputtered out and left her miserable. She put a suitcase of his letters by his door, went home, drank enough to blow a .12, then ate a lethal dose of Seconal.

Pat O’Brien was a pallbearer.

In the office, just to remind you it’s wartime:


It’s amazing, the internet; I found the poster in 6 seconds.

It's an odd poster. He doesn't seem to be wounded. He seems to be grieving for someone who was.

That'll do for today! Don't miss my newspaper column! Just click on the Star. You know: The big green Startribune Star.



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