I hate and despise my lawn service, as Lum and / or Abner were wont to say. It was one of their catch phrases, and had roots in the Arkansas culture from which the show’s originators came. Not to lose the thread two sentences after I announced the subject matter, but I have reached the point where I’m repeating Lum & Abners on my morning radio listening. For years I’ve begun the day at the computer by listening to a L&A while doing rote work that does not require much thought. I just adore the show. It’s still surprising and dismaying to realize that when one of the performers did a “What’s My Line” less than a decade after the show ended, no one knew who he was or remembered what he’d done. TV obliterated radio.

Anyway. I have a lawn service because the lawn is too damned big. The hill, the side, the north-side of the west hill, it’s ridiculous. When I lived on Girard I had a sensible lot and mowed it with the usual spirit: grudging annoyance. It was liberating when we moved to Jasperwood and I realized I literally could not mow my lawn, unless I wanted to get a heart attack pushing a mower up the hill, or tumble arse-over-teakettle on a riding mower that tipped when I took a turn too quickly.

The lawn service does not care about the health of the lawn; they just care about shaving it. They show up and rev up the machines and shave it. If an area is bare they blast over it and a cloud of dirt and dead seed flies behind them. I requested that they use mowers will smaller decks, so they don’t destroy newly seeded areas, and then I cut the mowing back to every other week. Result: Unbelievably verdant lush lawn, thanks to new seed, new dirt, and much rain.

And then they paid their fortnightly visit, and ran their Reaper machines over the grass. What was a carpet of fulsome green was now trimmed, with the bare patches showing - and because the lawn hadn’t been cut for two weeks, they left a thatch over everything. This could have been solved by running the mower over the thatch, but c’mon, dude, seriously? We’re paid to mow once. Not twice.

The thatch turns brown and looks ugly. So I got out the rake. The thatch did not want to be raked - or at least it considered the rake I was using a tool of such manifest inadequacy it declined to be gathered up by its spidery tines. I pressed down harder. The rake broke. Because it was time for the monthly reminder that cheap Chinese metal is cheap Chinese metal.

Well great. Wife wants this done, and it’s not done. Then I remembered:

I have a lawn vacuum. It’s a leaf blower, but it doesn’t just blow, it sucks. As they say. So I got out all the extension cords, hooked it up, and vacuumed the lawn in the back and the front. I thought about a column I’d written on this subject a while ago, how I had become the Thing That I Hate: an operator of the noisome machine. But someone else in the neighborhood was running one too, at a different pitch, and I thought neighbors who were annoyed might think “The noise is annoying, but at least it comprises two thirds of a tonic chord.”

The other person’s machine quit before I was done, and don’t think I didn’t take that under consideration. But I had to vacuum the lawn before Wife returned from tennis, because she’d note my progress, or lack of, and she hates and despises when I say I’ll do something and I don’t.

I knocked off at 8:30, because I was weary and sticky with grass atoms and the shame was too great. I turned the machine off and said SORRY in case anyone was in the mood for an apology.

If I’d run it past 9, neighbors would've been peeved. Stop running that infernal contraption! But it’s nothing compared to the airplanes overhead, bound for the airport. Here’s why: the airport noise has a predictable plot. It starts, grows, roars, diminishes. Repeat. The Infernal Blowers rev. They start, they stop, they start, they stop. They’re a sibling in the back seat of the car sticking a wet finger in your ear at unpredictable intervals.

Which is why I just leave mine on until I’m done. You turn it off, you give people you hope. You turn it on, you take it away.

I want to give people hope.



I loved this one as a kid – not for the sound, but the design. I just thought this was cool. Five pennies . . . Red “Nichols” – was that a coincidence, or was it intentional? (The “Five Pennies,” of course, were his band.) I also confused Red Nichols with Red Buttons, the sad sack little carrot-topped mouse from “The Poseidon Adventure.”

Question: is that supposed to be something?





And now . . .

The end. Usually they end with the bad guy dead or arrested, but never hung. That would be a bit much. There’s usually a wedding, too.


Yes, guys were certainly fooled by that mask. Had to be a guy, right? Zorro was a guy. What else could he be?

If you recall, the Coal Oil bomb was heading down the tracks, followed by flame. We saw an explosion. However could they escape, etc etc


You’ll note that Goody 2-Shoes Gummint Agent is protecting Zorro the Black Whip Who Isn’t Zorro. She turns into a damsel-in-distress towards the end. You’ll also note that this is the last in the serial, so there won’t be an cliffhangers.

After the fracas in the mine, the good guys realize that Hamilton was the ringleader. I haven’t been paying enough attention to know who that was. On the other hand:


Fantastic! Aroused voting to end the show!

There’s a gunfight, with most of the bad guys doing the Lead Crumple. Not a single window is broken.

Hammond gets away and trails the Black Whip to her HQ, where the serial is given a surprisingly satisfying finale:

It’s not as good as being shoved out a window by your Robert, but it’s close.

Here’s the ending after that. The newspaper layout guy, who was known for his nervousness and constant supply of powders and physics and pills and such, is cured of his problems by Statehood and the resultant peace. So he swears off all that junk he’s been taking.

I hate Western serials.


That'll do; see you around.



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