Spring. Finally. Oh, we could get snow again, but it would have the same effect on our psyches as a 22 bullet on the skull of a charging bear - it would just make us madder. Saturday it rained, and it was a mean rain, one of those storms that seems to move overhead like an army preoccupied with a battle yet to be fought. The wind was stronger in the treetops than on the ground; great trunks creaked and complained, branches cracked off and skittered off roofs; then the rain itself bore into the snowbanks and finished them off for good. Even the great mounds of sand and grit and dirt were beaten and dissolved. This morning the sun came out. This afternoon I noticed tulip shoots in the backyard. This evening we went for a walk in the sunset, and down every block you heard children playing; in every alley, water ran into the gutters, getting out of town while the getting was good. Spring: we won.

And everything looks wretched. The trees are still bare; the lawns wear a mossy cape of dead grass and decomposed leaves. Houses that profit from a gown of ivy look scabby and old. No one’s bushes have come out yet, so half the backyards stand empty and exposed. Take away winter, and you take away the flesh the town wears half the year; we’re reduced down to bones again, and it’ll be a month again until we’re clothed in green and fresh paint.

in the first paragraph I almost wrote that the treetops waved back and forth like Marge Simpson’s insanity scene in “Streetcar!” and in graf 2 I wanted to compare the sight of unclothed houses to inadvertantly walking in on Mr. Burns in the shower. It strikes me that there are enough episodes of the Simpsons that people could speak entirely in Simpsonese, using references from the show to explain or describe an endless series of situations. Nelson and Apu . . .at Tinagra.

But now I’ve brought Star Trek into it again, haven’t I. Sorry.

Anyway. On a day like today, you have to do SOMETHING, so I put up lights in the porch. Strung 48 feet of rope-lights, which now make the back porch visible from space. How much time we’ll actually have to spend there this summer, I don’t know, but just to imagine the porch filled again with flowers, with a warm rain pattering down on the roof as I enjoy a fine beverage: mmm. Spring in Minnesota. How I love it. All seventeen days of it.

Otherwise, not much of a weekend. Everyone was ill but the baby, although we’re now on the mend. A peculiar bug - like the last few colds I’ve had, it’s timid and unsure, and never asserts itself beyond a few basic symptoms. While I was snortling and coughing last night, I deiced to test MacOS X on one computer, and I managed to make two computers nearly unusable. I’ve been testing X on the older slower iMac, and it’s been just jack-dandy - great interface, nifty new tools, robust performance, fresh spring scent, etc. In order to test it on the peripherals, though, I had to disconnect said peripherals, and this computer - or 9.1 - is flaky as hell when it come to hotswapping. It crashes. For that matter, it decided a while ago that it just didn’t like a Firewire HD, and dropped it from its social list. So if I can get everything to work in X, and in the emulator environment, I’ll make the switch and kiss this peevish 9.1 goodbye.

Still with me? I’m not. Somehow, in the process of testing this and teting that, I’ve managed to corrupt the system in the main Mac - something that happens everytime a USB item isn’t where the system thinks it should be. The new Mac wouldn’t recognize the Superdrive - in fact, the very existence of the drivers made it run screaming throught the wall- but the old Mac does. Networking is out of the question for the moment. Must replace system.

I’m waiting to see if the FireWire HD mounts on the old iMac under the new OS.

Man! My hobbies suck! This is like waisting a weekend because all your model train tracks decided to change gauge when you weren’t looking.


Jiminy Bitchwhistle, what a horrible day. But it’s done now, and ended happily; once all the duties & obligations were over, I could start to unclench. Now I’m spending a quiet night ripping all the Classical CDs, reacquainting myself with the less travelled territories of my collection. Somewhere in here is proof that Andrew Lloyd Webber stole the “Pie Jesu” from his Requium from a much better composer. Webber is a hack - a gifted pastiche assembler along the lines of John Williams, although Williams lacks Webber’s knack for a simple direct timeless melody. (Don’t tell me about the Star Wars theme unless you’ve listened to Korngold’s score for “King’s Row.” Everytime I hear Williams’ version, I ask: where’s the rest of it?) (Hah! There’s your obscure old pop culture reference for the week. Chew on THAT.)

“Pie Jesu” is the most beautiful piece of music he ever wrote, and it’s so good it makes me wonder where he got it. It’s only two minutes, at Webber is unable to do anything with the melody other than present it, but it’s just absolute perfection. It doesn’t hurt that it’s sung by a little boy, and he sounds like one of those angels who’ll blind you if you look straight at it.

You know, one of those angels. As opposed to the type that just make things blurry, or ruin your ability to focus at medium distances.

Flash of light in the sky . . . count. One . . . two . . . three . . .no, it’s not here yet. Big storm due tonight (ah. there - that rumbly sub-woofer in the rootcellar sound that says spring in these parts) and I’m looking forward to some conspicuous weather. Took a walk with Jasper tonight, and the world is still inert - the snowbanks have pulled back entirely, revealing a few ancient squirrel pelts, a beer bottle, a circuit board (?!), cigar wrappers, plastic bags of dogpoop that have been cooking for months. No shoots in the woods yet, no buds on the trees. Soon. Need some noise to wake them all up.

Watched but one movie recently - “Rope,” the new DVD version. It’s not all that hot. It’s okay, but there’s no suspense, really - you know the bad guys won’t win, and you know Jimmy Stewart won’t die, so . . . why are we here? To revisit Leopold & Loeb, the shocking murder case from the 1920s, that’s why. The movie is a Transatlantic Production by a British director, released through an American studio, of an adaptation of an English play that was based on an American crime. Leopold & Loeb, of course, were the two prep school SuperGeniuses who killed a little boy (Bobby Frank, I think - why do I know this?) just to show they were intellectual Supermen, superior to the common man who was bound by moral codes more fit for a titmouse. Or so they said, anyway. A movie was made about the case in the 50s - “Compulsion!” starring Orson the Hutt as a very sweaty, greasy Clarence Darrow. The title of that movie always struck me as odd, given that the murder was carefully planned, but I guess “Carefully Planned!” doesn’t sound like much of a thriller.

Apparently L & L had some odd sexual relationship, trading favors for crimes, and the author of “Rope” amplified it, made it explicit. And their teacher, the one who supposedly taught them their supramoral philosophies, was not only gay himself, but had a relationship with one of the students. Well, you can’t do that in a 1948 American movie, and you damn well can’t suggest that Jimmy Stewart was knocking broughams with Harley Granger, so all that stuff was removed from the movie, as if they set the transporter filters on GAY and beamed the movie into Kansas. The result was a movie in which the main characters are OBVIOUSLY gay, oddly enough. Interviews with the screenwriter in the DVD documentary confirm that he had to degay the movie because you couldn’t talk about “IT,” as he called it, in a movie. But it was played so obviously that modern eyes see IT right away. Perhaps back then people peered at the screen with suspicion and thought, y’know, there’s a definite whiff a’ lavender comin’ offa these two guys; wonder if - nahhh. Can’t be!

I doubt it. People got it then, too. The movie’s notable not for this, anyway - it’s lauded for its supposed technical brilliance. Hitchcock shot it all in a series of single takes with no editing. One film cannister at a time. When the cannister was running out, the camera closed in, passed behind an object, and there was a moment of black . . . then back to the action.

It’s the least impressive aspect of the movie. The edits are silly - look out! The gigantic fridge-sized Technocolor camera is lunging at that man’s back! It’s out of control! Hitchcock did an edit in “The Birds” that’s much more impressive - the opening scene goes from an outdoots shot to a studio shot with such grace and guilelessness that most people don’t recognize it until it’s pointed out.

The writer, incidentally, seemed bemused by Hitchcock; he clearly regarded him as a fine director, an ingenious fellow, but you could tell he’d had his fill of all this Genius Auteur talk.

Now I’m going to upload & shove another series of CDs through the CDDB, and burn while I sit back and wait for rain. Enough of this day; let’s try again tomorrow.


This is a tale well-calculated to keep you in . . . SUSPENSE.

As I was wrangling the Gnat this morning, getting ready to take her to Nana’s, I hit the answering machine: a call from our Uncle the Realtor, who had a place to show us. I drove past. Nice brick pile by the lake - sure, I could see that. I set up an appointment. He named the price; I gagged. Fuggedaboudit. But I’d see it anyway, just to learn what that absurd amount of money could get you.

See, in the back my head, it’s still 1964, and I’m a very small boy, and I cannot believe that cars cost $3,000 and houses cost $20,000. Unimaginable sums.

After work I swing by the house, take a look. Eh. Some nice features, but the floors creaked like a quattocento trampoline, and the kitchen had been updated in some ways and backdated in others. There was an impossibly twisty little maid’s staircase that led upstairs, and I could just see Gnat goin ass over teakettle down that one twice a day. So, no. But he had two more to show me . . . off we went to a neighborhood close to this one. Greater distance from the lake, and the creek, and also a huge amount of money. But, well, let’s see what it has.

It was on a hill. Incredible view - since it sits at the point of the hill, it has no immediate neighbors; the view from the front door makes you want to sing. I stepped inside -

You know, despite the midcentury appearance & fascinations of this website, our home is designed in Mission style. I love it for its solidity and proto-modernity; it feels warm and smart.

This house had a Mission feel to it. And by “feel” I meant every single light fixture, doorknob, hinge, and tile. Every wall had been freshly painted in the exact proper hue. It was low, flat, open, bright - on a cloudy rainy afternoon the room still shone. Hmm, I thought: this is, well, incredibly comfy. Went to the kitchen - jaw drops, bounces off hardwood floor - fireplace in the kitchen area, island that seats six, brand new kitchen appliances, cabinets, countertops.

Upstairs was where I fell to my knees. And I was holding Gnat, too. The master bedroomhad a walkout sunporch and bathroom the size of Times Square. The other rooms were fabulous as well. But surely the basement wasn’t done? It was - as a child’s playroom. Carpet, fireplace, ample toy storage.

The backyard was a two-level expanse bigger than any I’ve seen in the city.

The garage was attached to the house by a tunnel. A tunnel! I’m Batman.

I called my wife, told her that I’d found The House. She had to see it. Tonight. I went home, called my broker and mortgage banker and lined up the scratch. Had a second viewing with my wife, who nearly wept, agreeing that this is the absolutely perfect house.

Put in a bid. The bid was due at eight. There are other people bidding. I crafted my bid like a Price-is-Right contestant.

I’ll know in 80 minutes. I have already - this gushing to the contrary - separated myself from the house. It does not exist. I will never live there. Another house, completely different, will come along someday, and we will love it there, too.

70 minutes.

10 minutes . . . the phone just rang. Father-in-law.

Now ten minutes after the time we were supposed to hear.

Now 20 minutes past. What are they doing? Have they all lit out for Vegas with my earnest money?

Now one hour past. The phone rang; it was my dad, returning a call I made this afternoon when I was calling in every available chit. Specifically, the family-farmland chit. Since the majority of the old ancestral plot is still farmed by a descendant of the patriarch, I have no compunctions about selling off my little portion. It’s not as if I’m going to move there, make my wife cook concrete flapjacks in her lingerie and call me Oh-lee-varh.

I also asked my dad about an old insurance policy, and was amused to find that the cash value makes it slightly less substantial than the policy George Bailey brought to Mr. Potter.


Phone rings. It’s Uncle the Realtor.

I’m Batman.

Holy smoking Judas on a popish pinwheel, I’M BATMAN!