I cleaned out the shed, again. Just cleaned it out last summer, and here I am again, taking everything out so I can put it back again. What happens with garden sheds, I think, is that people are too tired and annoyed by the time they’re done doing lawn chores, and just chuck stuff back the shed and close the door and think “I need a shower. That wasn’t fun at all. To hell with dirt and all dirt-related implements.”

Many of the seed bags had been onanized by rodents, so there was a lot of gradual detritus to vacuum up. Many cans of garden poisons and garden potions to remove, and put back. A mile of garden hose, which I fit into a hose reel that is used only to drain the Oak Island Water Feature twice a year. Two identical dandelion removers. Some bags of fat wood from the time when we had a chiminea - that’s a clay pot that burns wood, produces smoke, and provides absolutely no heat whatsoever - and a few decorating things I probably bought on sale a decade ago.

Those years are on my mind a lot these days. Not because they were golden years; 2007 and 2008 were hellish, professionally. But Daughter was young and we went to Disneyland, and I prefer to concentrate on that, since the other story makes me want to say all sorts of things about an arrogant, insulting, charmless person who blew into the paper and screwed with my life. (It’s the one grudge in my life I hold, with a certain amount of delight, because I won.)

While taking stuff out of the shed I did a lot of conspicuous wincing, since I had thrown out my back - well, my side, wrestling with the dog. He got a chipmunk the night before, and I’d felt compelled to try to save the chipmunk. We give our dogs squeaky toys and think awwww when they play with them, but of course the sound mimics the sound of FEAR AND AGONY prey gives off, and we’re appalled when the dog enjoys the real thing. Birch gets feral when you try to get him away from something living he wants to eat, and it’s not a good thing. It requires some serious physical domination to let him know that his insubordination is unacceptable. He is normally the most compliant and nuzzling little guy, but man it’s Wolf Time when you get between him and a high-status snack.

About an hour after our battle I felt a crick in my side, and thought it might be from hauling in the groceries. I’d put two bladders of milk, two of OJ, and two of lemonade in the same bag, and picked it up while wearing two other heavy bags on my shoulder. Because God Forbid you can take two trips.

It still hurt the next day, but subsided as I did more work, as if the act of lifting more heavy things somehow rearranged the muscles. When I had gotten everything from the shed on the lawn, I decided it was time for a break and sat down to look at the photos from Daughter’s grad dinner party.

That was fun. Rooftop in Uptown, a Japanese place that had fantastic ramen bowls. Slurping encouraged. Party of ten in high spirits. Daughter allowed a sip of sake, which she found odd and interesting; so many flavors. I had to agree, except that I didn’t like any of them. The main notes were mushroom and wet ferret, I think.

“So how do you think your dad will do when you’re gone,” sister-in-law said to Daughter. “He’s been crying on my shoulder for months about it.”

Oh fer crissakes - kitchen conversations while I do the dishes and unburden myself are not crying on someone’s shoulder.

“This is my sister-in-law,” I said, “With whom I no longer speak, because she exaggerates and betrays confidences.” CHANGE THAT SUBJECT. That’s the last thing I want Daughter to think about, because this breeds unwanted guilt, the sort of guilt you don’t deserve, and hence suppress or reject. But it’s in the air: I wandered over to a grad party down the alley because my wife said Heidi From Piano was here. No idea there was any connection, but I hadn’t seen her in years. She’s a hoot and a half, and we always had a merry time at Friday piano, her and me and the other friend who doesn’t talk to me any more because I didn’t vote for Trump and took an anti-Trump position because I wanted to be accepted by the cool kids at the big table. So we’re having a fountain of happy chat like it was ten years ago. “How are your incrementally different but indistinguishable sons?” I said, because we razzed her about having three boys who looked like the same boy at different ages, and she gets it like it, was ten years ago. Because it was, but all of a sudden it wasn’t.

Then father comes out to tell us he’s calling the cops if we’re not off his boulevard in five minutes, and he’s about as quick-witted as a professional stand-up comedian, and the three of us are just winding it up and having the best possible time in the world, under a tree, rain pattering around, guests trickling out of the house, offering their final congrats for the grad. The dad tells a story about instructing his son to do something for his mother because she’d going to be, you know, devastated in short order when he goes, so get to it.

There was another parent who had one kid who was also heading off, and yeah, same thing - and for a second you have this feeling like a bomb went off, and now the noise is gone but everyone’s looking at their arm where there just to be something and now there’s a stump, and everyone’s thinking well this isn’t right, I’d best look for it, perhaps it’s in the bushes -

Anyway. After Daughter’s grad dinner everyone came back to the house for cake and ice cream, cards and presents. Daughter liked her necklace - which, as I said on Friday, had the go-forth message: Buy the Ticket. Take the Ride.

“That’s what Dad used to say,” said sister-in-law.


“That was his line. We’d have doubts about doing something or he thought we should experience opportunities and he’d say ‘Buy the ticket, take the ride.’”


Anyway, did a lot of culling and tossing and sorting, and got everything back in the shed. It looks perfect. As the year goes on more stuff will be put in the shed, and not in the place where it was originally, and it’ll be a got-damned mess by next spring. But then I’ll think back and remember how the last time I did this, she was about to leave. Next time I’ll be thinking about how she’ll be back soon, if only for a bit.

Never wish away time, I always told her, but now and then . . . you’re tempted.



It’s like Frankenstein! But also crap.

This could be a summertime monster movie. One of those C-pix they showed on Saturday afternoon in February. Meet our scientist in his well-equipped lab:

John Agar. He had some big roles,- six movies with John Wayne, pilgrim - but if you believe Wikipedia, or piece together what they imply, his career suffered when he divorced his wife, Shirley Temple.

You don’t think of Shirley Temple marrying anyone, do you. Anyway, he had some drunken driving arrests after that, so you can infer a bottle problem. But he kept working - crap movies, yes, but he kept working.

Anyway. Hand of Death is basically the forearm of death, since anyone who touches him groans, and dies. Because of Reasons From Science. Doesn't matter why.

Before we get to the good stuff, though, we need a dream sequence where our hero is tortured by bongos and beakers:

So after he drinks the serum, he realizes that anyone who touches him dies, which is odd. That shouldn't happen.

He takes it on the lam to a gas station run by a guy surprised by the sight of motor oil:

Trivia: can you identify the credit card by the sign in the window by the door at the end?

Can you name its colors?

Eventually he turns into Ben Grimm.

The sequence where he terrorizes a shopping district is interesting as inadvertent documentary; new storefronts with thin brick, modern banks, and the like.


When you're strange, it's hard to get around.


Anyway, eventually the cops shoot him.

20th century Fox? How the hell did they release a stiff like this?

I hope I can find better minor sci-fi for this summer's creature features - but then again, I hope I don't. If I can help dispel the idea that these dopey things are somehow "cult classics" or "guilty pleasures," then I'll have performed a public service.

That'll do - see you around! Happy Monday.


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