Two stages of marriage:

Early. You come downstairs with a scratchy throat, nasal passages blocked solid as a Teamster’s colon the day after the annual party, and a small slight fever.

I have a cold, you say.

Your wife says: my baby! and puts a hand on your shoulder.

Later. Same scenario; same symptoms.

I have a cold, you say.

Your wife says: my baby! and pulls her child away from you.

I don’t blame her, of course; we don’t want Little Miss Moist to get my cold. Consequently, I feel like the Plague Man. Mr. Boils. Bobby Buboe. Franky Chancre. Steven Lesions. Nebecudnezzar Neoplasm. Okay, I’ll stop now.

Of course, since I couldn’t handle my daughter, might as well leave the house. The Giant Swede swung by in the Miata at eleven. Two old friends, now dads, out for an afternoon on the town. Made a stop to Target for seventy dollars of this and that, had a cup of coffee and worked on our Joe Lieberman impressions, then - fateful moment! the phone rang. We both reached. It was his. The Giantess Swede, making one of those as-long-as-you’re-out-shopping requests.

“Uh huh,” he said. His eyes shot up. “Sure.”

He hung up.

“My wife just called and asked me to bring home a scanner.”

A sign of the end times? Perhaps. For your wife to call and ask you to bring home computer equipment - well, it never happens. (Although tomorrow Sara’s having the baby shower, and she’ll play the movie I made on the iMac. If all goes as planned every woman in attendance will go home and demand that their husband buy an iMac and make movies. I mean, you could play this movie for the Politburo and they’d dissolve into tears.

My secret: lots and lots of movie music, interspersed with 40s and 50s jazz pop.

My suspicion: I will spend exactly zero time in the next year developing web sites, and will concentrate exclusively on learning how to make movies. Don’t worry: I have a backlog of sites to come like you wouldn’t believe.


We went scanner shopping. The grocery shopping. The hardware store. His phone rang again: get movies. So it was the video store. I felt faint in the Hollywood - just too damn tired and too damn sick, so back to the house. It’s steamy here tonight; no air moves, and the rain that’s been promised has stayed locked in the clouds. I wish I could go into the next room and hold my daughter, but I can’t.

So, if I can’t hold her, I can’t worry about dropping her.

Finally: I’m going to have a beer. A Sam Adams Pale Ale. And then I’m going to input data for this website that’s due on Monday, and then . . . face down in the bed, hoping I’m less contagious tomorrow. I’m sure new parents get colds all the time. I just don’t want to have to take her back to the hospital because I gave her a kiss when I knew not the rhinovirii percolating in my system.

Of course, once we’re past this little scare, it’s smooth sailing for the next 18 years.


Recent movies:

My Dog Skip. Took a wise, sweet adult’s book about childhood and made it a movie for children and adults, perhaps satisfying neither. It captured the era of the early 40s nicely, at least enough to satisfy my limited knowledge, but it took many, many liberties. The opening scenes, for example, portrayed Grim Pinched Kevin Bacon-Dad as being utterly opposed to gettin’ a dog fer the young’un, see’in as how he’s too young. The opening pages of the book, in essence, say “I grew up with dogs; we raised dogs; there were always seventeen dogs in the house, and my parents loved dogs, especially dad.” Screw Hollywood.

The last five minutes had me blubbering like a moron, though, especially when the old pooch tried to climb up on the bed. Went through 18 Kleenexes on that scene alone. Good to know that having a child has not lessened my fellow-feeling for the Canine-American population.

Scream 3. I’d heard it was bad. It wasn’t. Courtney Cox looks horrible, though; she looks like a strip of floured jerky. I like thin women, but not when they look like someone stuck a wig on a skull. My wife came downstairs as I was finishing the movie, and I tried to explain what was going on - twists within references within twists within twists within references - and finally just said “the guy with the knife is the bad guy.”

“I guessed that,” she said. And that pretty much sums up the whole series: it all comes down to the fact that there’s a guy in a black robe with a knife. Repeat until everyone’s a millionaire.

Marnie. I ordered this one from Amazon. Kids: if you drink, don’t turn on One-Click. If you turn on One-Click, don’t drink.

Actually, I made this choice with a clear mind, but since Amazon knows I want Hitch when it’s released, they served up this option and I one-clicked my way to Marniesque disappointment. Never really seen this one intact, wide screen. It’s just not very good. Sean Connery is fine as the Main Line junior scion with an inexplicably Scottish accent, but Tippi is just horrible, and the story just drags. It needs George Sanders, and lots of him. Anywhere.

There was one point where Tippi is wearing riding clothes, her hair in a big blonde bouf; she’s walking down a grand staircase in a hideously overlit foyer of a country mansion, and I thought: this looks like every stinking ABC Movie of the Week Starring Gary Collins I saw when I was growing up - the spooky doings in a high-falutin’ old-money world, with frantic blondes and gloomy oil paintings and flocked wallpaper and filigreed light fixtures and a general sense of underwhelming omnipresent dread that leads, inevitably, to nothing but a commercial and the local news. I thought: it was five years from Marnie to the shite of the 70s, and you can see it all coming in this movie. No thanks.

Romeo Must Die. Well, okay, if you say so. As I stood in line at Hollywood to rent this movie, I saw an incredible martial arts movie on the monitor. Turns out it was a Jet Li film - Twin Baby Carriage Drunken Master Dragon Master Revenge Fists, or something like that. Just delightful. I love good HK action films, like I love a good musical; it’s not the realism you want, it’s the quality of the artifice. It’s the art of the actor, the director, and - the unsung hero in these movies - the editor. Having never seen any Jet Li, I was looking forward to Romeo. And I was unimpressed. The soundtrack is saturated with the stoopidest kind of rap, namely, the variety whose lyrics consist mostly of warning to Unnamed Niggaz. Seems niggaz gonna get capped by utha niggaz. Rationale: frontin.’

(I was driving to the store yesterday to get milk; I was in my wife’s car, and her radio is set to different stations. The local teen station was playing “Big Pimpin’”, which is apparently a hit. If I can translate the lyrics: we are men who force women into involuntary sexual servitude. And now we are spending the money, cheerfully. Also, we have drugs in the car.

I’m sure it’s a metaphor for something or other. But they certainly have established their lock on the genre; woe to all those artists who are medium pimping.)

Anyway. “Romeo” was mostly laughable. A few amazing set-pieces, and we all loved the X-Ray Cam of Death, but once again Hollywood shows it has no idea what to do with imported Asian stars. Oh, it knows what to do with blacks - give them Armani suits and guns, make them say things like “gitcho shifty black ass outta here”; this apparently conforms to the expectations of the moviegoing public. Likewise, Asians are presented in the usual fashion: like sauerkraut farts, silent but deadly. Asian elders sip tea in rooms decorated in red; young Asians excel in kicking slow Black people in the head. But Blacks have more expressive dance routines when they are victorious at video games.

How else to read these minstrel acts? On one hand, it’s a good sign - the age-old story of Romeo and Juliet, told in a new mix. The old cultural fault line - white vs. Puerto Rican - no longer has any relevance. Now it’s Blacks and Asians, West Side Story for the new century. But at least Tony slept with Maria. Unless I missed something - and I did hit FF once or twice - the hero and heroine of this movie didn’t even kiss. It’s always interesting to find where the taboos are - in a mainstream TV series, a Black-Asian romance wouldn’t note a notice in a TV columnist’s daily roundup. But in an action movie, it’s still dangerous territory. Who, exactly, were they worried about offending?

Arnie should have married Rae at the end of “Commando.” We’d all be past this nonsense by now.