So Jasper Dog jumps on the bed with one great leap, and decides that the pillow is his enemy; the pillow must die. He strides it, goes for the throat - a rather flexible definition of “throat” is made here - and manages to shove the pillow, and himself, up to the headboard. Enraged by the pillow’s fierce struggle, he flips around 180 degrees and dives at it again, not noticing that he has run out of bed. The back legs go first. The body follows. For one second both front paws are clawing the sheets; his ears are back and his eyes have the expression of Alan Richman in “Die Hard,” right before he fell. In the last moment Jasper decides to take a page from the Cat Manual, and flips himself around - which guarantees that he hits the baseboard radiator with the sound of someone striking an anvil with a tungsten pipe. Nothing harder than a dog’s head. Depleted uranium shells would bounce off a canine noggin. He’s up! He’s okay! He’s ready for more! But he leaves the pillow where it is. You have won this day, then. But we shall meet again.

Later that day I’m in the basement filing some used DVDs I picked up at Hollywood, and in the shelf Gnat sees some Simpsons figurines still in their original packaging. (I buy the series in bulk - it’s cheaper - and the characters I don’t like or have room for I just leave in their boxes.) Oooh, Sissons. She looks at the back, studies all the pictures. Bumblebee, she says. That’s right, I say, distracted; it’s the Bumblebee Man. Then I look at what she’s pointing to: it’s Bumblebee Man, all right . . . but it’s a tiny cameo picture that only shows his face. No striped torso, no antennae, just his face. Ai ai ai, una nina brilliante. Then we went upstairs to unpack a bag from Target I got four days ago. I put the items on the counter, and put her in her chair across the room. She pointed at one of the bottles: puppy shampoo, she said. Which is exactly what it was.

They don’t miss anything. I had to turn the sound down on the President’s speech today, just so I can ensure she’ll pronounce “nuclear” correctly.

As for the illustration above, well, it speaks for itself. Poorly, too. I’ve been working on the American Motel site this week, adding 50+ cards, plus tales and details sent in by people who actually stayed at some of these places. I’ve also completed a 30+ page site on Times Square, from the 1910s to the 60s; lots of postcards and close-up photos. It’ll be in the New York City section when done, and I probably won’t announce it, just to keep the bandwidth (dang: forgot to mail the check to the server guy. It’s sitting right here. Moron. Hey! Mark! Sorry! I’ll mail it tomorrow. Apologies) down. Then it’s Curious Lucre updates, then it’s the beginning of a gigantic overhaul of the Institute of Official Cheer - new sites, new updates, lots of stuff to build demand for the next book to a screaming, fevered pitch -

Just took a break to dance with the Gnat. After her bath she runs laughing into my room and wants to dance. There are three songs she wants: “The Chunk Swirly Twirl,” from the Rolie Polie Olie show, the theme from the game “Tropico,” which I have MP3d, and “Love is Good for Anything that Ails You.” She enjoys being picked up and swung in a circle until dizzy, after which she staggers around, giggles “Dizzy!” and then falls down, or pees on the floor, or both. Daddy’s little raver. I have to get her some glow sticks.

Anyway. The Restaurant section will also suffer a major upgrade, as I continue to post the fruits of my postcard collection for an audience of six or seven dozen. But that’s what the web is for, isn’t it? Every small niche is densely packed in the hopes that like-minded people searching for the authoritative archive of 60s coffee shop postcards find it, and enjoy. The other day I picked up a copy of Skyway News, a downtown giveaway paper that used to be a silly, insubstantial rag, and has since gained some heft under new editorship (David Brauer, longtime lefty local journo and a good guy) and a pooling of resources with Southwest Journal, another giveaway for this part of town. The front cover story for the week of 9/11 was about peace activists who believe war is bad, and that we can set an example for peace by leaving Iraq alone, just as one can set an example for air brakes by jumping in front of a speeding Peterbilt. I thought it was an . . . . odd choice for a 9/11 cover, and turned the page. There was an article on the Loeb Arcade, a long-gone building about which I did a small site in the Mpls section. The pictures were interesting, and I read the article with great interest - and imagine my surprise when the credit read “pictures from” I had to grin. Cool.

I’ve been reading reactions to the President’s UN speech, and I’m amused at how people don’t seem to get it. Oh, now he’s being a multilateralist? Now he believes in the UN? No. That speech was the equivalent of that fabled kung-fu move that removes your opponent's heart and shows it to you, just before you crumple. It’s of a piece with the administration’s behavior since 9/11: Let all the carpers and obstructionists gather on the tip of the thinnest branch, then show up with a saw and announce they have five minutes to come hug the trunk, which incidentally is covered with sap and stinging ants. It was sheer malicious brilliance to cast the entire case in terms of UN resolutions, because now the UN has to chose: either those resolutions mean something, or the UN means nothing. Why, it's almost as if the UN painted itself into a corner - and woke up to find this rude simple cowboy holding the brush. How the hell did he do that?

Is there anything worse than this gathering storm? Why, yes. From Liz Smith, breaking the news of an upcoming W magazine scoop on the chilling effect of the Bush regime on fashion:

Glamour is . . . gone from D.C. Pizzazz is dormant. Wretched excess won't rear its tiny head. This is not post 9/11 doldrums, according to W. The Bush clique simply doesn't want to party, get dressed up in black tie, meet new people or lure fabulous famous types to big state dinners. The result, according to the capital's reigning hostess, Sally Quinn is "Washington, as we know it, is over . . . the social scene has come to a screeching halt."

Maybe because they’re busy. Maybe having dinner with actresses isn’t why they went to Washington in the first place. Maybe they want to turn in early and get up with the roosters, because there’s a war on. Just a thought.

One of the things that struck me about DC during my bureau years was the quantity of sheer untrammeled dorkiness evident at any social gathering. You’d see tuxedos whose lapels had the wingspan of the Spruce Goose, hair styled by someone who worked with a trowel and a rake. The women looked better than the men, usually, but they sometimes had that chilly defensiveness of smart women dressing up in slinky skirts: in my day job I’m heading the EPA study of residual effects of chlorine on coastal jellyfish, bub, so don’t think that this black strapless number reflects the totality of my identity. But isn’t it hot? Smart stylish people end up in New York. Smart people whose spasmodic attempts at style were periodically successful, in that million-monkeys-typing-and-producing-Hamlet way, end up in DC. There are, of course, enough exceptions to either rule to prove me a lazy idiot, but in general that's how it works. Put it this way: there's no penalty for being beautiful and stupid in New York, and no penality for being smart and unstylish in DC.

So these “gala” events are like a prom in a school where the chess club had all the cheerleaders and football kings sent to the work camps. They’re indistinguishable from a holiday party at a Des Moines insurance company, and they're are Glamorous only because of their proximity to power. You really do feel as if you’re at the center of the universe when you’re at the Woodley, waiting for the President to speak, noting Woody Harrelson in a hemp shirt across the room. You can’t wait until tomorrow to tell everyone who you saw.

The stupidest events I ever attended in DC were the glamorous ones. The best were the gatherings of smart clever people in office clothes, getting together around a drink or dinner. I guarantee that the social scene has not ground to a halt; people still meet after work to kvetch and rant and laugh and harangue. But the empyrean vault is little less crowded than before. I feel bad for Sally Quinn and her circle, staring at vacant chairs, wondering how to fill the spaces once occupied by Barbra and Alec. The world is about to spill again onto the Field of Mars, and they’re pouting about the lack of good parties. A city of grown-ups. A city of children.

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