I had an unusual weekly provisions run. When I looked at the clock when I was checking out, it seems I’d been gone for two hours.

I had been a wanderer. An aisle flaneur. There had been no imperative hastening me through the store. Most provisioning runs are 3 out of 4 - not Traders Joe, Lunds, Target, Cub, but 3 of 4. This time I did them all. I had entered the Grocery Zone. If there’d been a fifth store I would have gone there.

Actually, there is a fifth store: Kowalski’s. The neighborhood store. I love it, but it’s not for the weekly run, because you have to cash a bearer bond to get everything you need.

There was no reason for the excessive provisioning. We are stocked. We are good. I can feed us both for three weeks with what I have. The problem is the GOT-DANGED FISH DEALS.

It’s as if they all conspire. For a month the fish entreeseverywhere are full price. And then everything’s discounted or gets hit with the BOGO stick, and what’s a guy supposed to do? So now I have two months of accumulated fish, and that checks off the weekly fish ration until JUNE. Or so I thought. Two weeks ago I bought a bag of Lobster Puffs - new! An entree or an appetizer! When I looked at the back of the bag while making dinner, it said “Serving size: two. Servings per bag: nine” and awwww man, now I’m fish-fulfilled through July.

Then there’s cheap bacon. I remember when there was a bacon shortage. It was brief. It made an impression. When bacon is $2.99, I leap on those pig strips. Perhaps it is not the finest bacon, but there is no bad bacon, unless it is turkey bacon, which is not bacon at all but some horrid fowl slurry pressed into the shape of grade-school rulers and slathered with “flavor.”

Since the Bacon-Industrial complex refuses to make resealable bacon containers, it’s all or nothing. Oh, you can wrap it up and put it away, and it’s as grey as Bernie Sanders’ head the next time you look at it. So I make it all, and that forces the issue of hamburgers for supper.

That means buns. I don’t buy buns to have around, because they go stale, so that means an extra trip to Kowalski’s for the four-pack. I could freeze the buns, but cryogenic storage does something horrible to buns. It deflates them. Robs them of their will to live.

So it’s bacon on weekends now for a month. This is good! Except that means the weekend sausage will not be consumed at the usual rate. I found a particular brand my wife likes for making egg muffin sandwiches. Ordinary price: $6.59. Now and then, perhaps once every six weeks, the price drops to $3.29. Regardless of whether or not I need it, I buy it at that price. Consequently I have four bags in the freezer; at the consumption rate of four per weekend, max, that means I have sausage through July.

Then there’s my favorite zero-calorie vodka mixer, SoBe Blood Orange. Makes a healthy screwdriver. It’s been gone for a month, maybe two. No one’s talking about this. Everyone pretends it’s not a problem. They fill the shelf slots with the blueberry flavor, and hope we’ll understand. It vanished in the same fashion a few months ago, then suddenly returned. I bought four. I would have bought more, but WHEN YOU HOARD YOU HELP HITLER, and I know I was happy someone else hadn’t bought it all.

Some things we needed. We were down to two blended yogurts. At some point in the day Wife, who works so very hard, comes down for a mid-morning snack of yogurt with granola. She expects to reach into the fridge and pull out a yogurt. She has so much on her mind that she does not consider the state of the stocks; she just knows it will be there, because that is my job. BLENDED. Not the stuff that has fruit on the bottom. BLENDED. I need to get six to make the week work.

There is also the matter of the snack chips, which are part of the mid-afternoon walking-away-from-the-computer / need-to-eat-something part of the day. She expects chips. She has every reason to expect there will be chips. The other day I noticed that she had gone to the stocks to bring up a new box of Cheese-Its, and I felt as I had failed: it is my job to swap out the boxes.

To anticipate Cheeze-It needs.

Also, popcorn needs. The SkinnyBiatch brand, or whatever it’s called. It’s low-cal. Small portions. Standard price for a box: $5.67. Now and then it goes on sale, $4.27. I would buy two, knowing it is best to strike while the iron is hot. But the price has been pitched to sale amount for a month. What devious plan is this? Okay: okay. I will buy just one, knowing I have six boxes in the pantry. Likewise the cereal: we are GOOD, but damn, BOGO on my Raisin Bran? NO CHOICE

The one thing I bought that was outside of the parameters: a single serrano pepper, which I intend to add to weekend eggs.

(Note: I forgot)

Something new for Mondays: a never-ending contest with no prizes! Not for you, anyway. I have to preface this feature with a warning: I don't know the answers. I mean, I don't have the official answers. I can guess. It can't be that hard.

What I love about this one is that the dialogue is not enough, and the BARN is not enough.



Serial time!


The recap:

"Kid" looks as if he's pushing forty. Maybe they call him that because he's the yongest of this old, old gang.

I still think Pa Stark is a rather boring name, but he’s not a particularly interesting villain. He’s not a spy, not a mad scientist, not a lunatic master criminal. He’s . . . Pa.

Who is this guy again?

Doesn't matter. We're here for . . .

When last we saw Dick, he was unconscious in a car that sped down a ramp and hit a truck! Surely he leaped out before, though.


Nope! Just survived, Shadow-style. Back up to the place where he was knocked out; the gang wasn’t able to get back into the ether-filled room, and had to leave the money behind. Smart crooks, real ace adversaries.

Tracy finds a blank piece of paper at the site, and concludes it may have secret writing. Of course! He gets out his equipment . . .

And it reveals a name. This fellow:

He’s a spy. An international menace!  Now we’re getting somewhere. This dude could muscle the Starks out of the picture. I've never seen a serial where the bad guy is replaced by a worse bad guy, but it could happen.

He wants the Starks to steal a new radio control, which could be used in tanks. He’s obviously German, but no one can say he’s a Nazi, because it’s only 1938.

Tracy intercepts a telegram addressed to the Baron, saying the train with the “farm machinery” - HINT HINT NUDGE NUDGE - will be diverted at Perlita Junction. So Tracy drives out to bust up the theft.

The tank with the REMOTE CONTROL:

Man, they loved their remote controls in these serials. Tracy interrupts the theft with five other G-men. Gun battle!


They’ll never be able to shoot through straw!

Stark’s men get away to the sound of Beethoven’s Egmont Overture - trust me, it's in there. It's all over the soundtrack of this serial.

And there’s a fistfight atop a boxcar while the train speeds towards another passenger train! Stark handcuffs a beaten G-Man to the car, because why shoot him? That would end the serial right here. Meanwhile Tracy takes off in the tank . . .

- and the Starks jump off the train.



The station master diverts the runaway train! Whew! But . . . where’s the cliffhanger?



That will suffice! Now, as ever, the Matchbooks.





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