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It’s foggy tonight; it’s humid. The snow’s gone. For perspective: a few days ago it snowed, and snowed hard; all day, all night. Two-foot drifts on the boulevard. Then came three days of hard stern sun, and that was all it took. Gone. There are a few crusty filthy bergs marooned here and there, but today we were treated to the sight of the sunlight sparkling in the gutters and the sound of winter trickling into the drain.

So I took the Christmas lights down. Put away the extension cords that now laid on the bare lawn like long dead snakes. Gathered up all the balls and toys Jasper had taken outside over the last few months. (Noted with sadness a goldfish toy sent to Jasper long ago by Kevin, a Bleat patron; Jasper had finally ripped it in two, and there were tuffs of white spun polyester fiber everywhere - it looked like some sort of evil Super Snow bred to survive warm weather.) The lawn looks like hell - needs a good reseeding, but that’s what spring is for. As ever I hope that this year’s lawn will not resemble an experimental testing ground for nuclear-radiation-resistant thistles. By August I will think, well, if weren’t for the thistles I’d have no green. It all depends.

If the pattern of previous years holds, we’ll get six inches of snow a week from now. But the corner has been turned; winter is gone, winter is dead, and anything it does now is just the last muttered oath as it topples into the bunker. I mean grave.

No, screw it. Bunker. We’ll hear that word enough rather soon; might as well get used to working it into daily conversation.

Watched “The Ring” the other night. Creepy enough, but it all falls apart when you think about it later. The secret, then, is not to think about it later. The movie contained what must now be my least favorite creepy-movie plot device: the silent, haunted blank-faced child whose symbolic drawings and cryptic utterances are meant to instill Dread in the viewer. Not anymore, it doesn’t. I see a single-parent child scribbling on a page, I know I will see a worried mom bending down to ask where did you get this picture from, honey?

I see them at night.

Where?

In the toilet.

In the toilet, sweetie?

Yes. They come out of the toilet and go into my brain.

You don’t mean that, honey.

Yes I do. Then they make me see things. Things I don’t want to see.

Like what, sugarpie?

Magpies with goat-heads and erections like a LOUISVILLE SLUGGER, MOM, you happy now?

Honeybunch - don’t tell a lie. It’s not right to lie.

I see meat draped on tree limbs, mom. All the time.

Go to bed. It’ll be better in the morning.

Okay. Mom?

Yes, darkly tormented reminder of a previous, failed relationship?

Put the lid down on the toilet?

Of course. Now go to sleep.

Mom?

What, my sweet little foreshadowing device?

Put a brick on the toilet lid?

Of course. Now close your eyes and surrender your consciousness. Mommy will be in the next room going over old newspaper clippings about a series of unsolved murders, and if you hear me scream it’s just because the phone rang and woke me from a dream about blood seeping from the eyes of horses.

Then I watched Tron. Why? Because I’d never watched Tron. I saw bits and pieces (hah! Or should I say, bytes and pieces! Hah!) here and there, but never submitted myself to the full thing start to finish. It certainly was ahead of its time, but it was also very much of its era - it reminds you that for some reason, a wire-frame grid was considered high-tech, the epitome of the Computer Future. As an artifact of the early days of computer animation, it’s quite fascinating, but every so often you realize that the entire plot is predicated on the existence of luminescent English-speaking clothed bipeds who inhabit 286-level processors.

The scenes in the Real World have a faint nostalgic charm, though - the video-game arcade makes me sigh for lost youth, and reminds you of the ubiquity of Pac Man’s wokka-wokka-wokka sound in those early Golden Years. A detailed analysis of the soundtrack could probably isolate the sounds of Joust, Tempest, Dig Dug and all the rest.

One night, years ago, I hyperspaced in Asteroid ten consecutive times, and lived. We spoke of this for many moons. The scream was aswarm with tumbling rocks, and I slapped the hyperspace button once - twice - three times, more, and it was on Jump Ten I was finally hit by a speeding astral fragment. After you’ve hit it six times and lived, you have to hit it again; you’re like a gambler at the 21 table with a million dollars in chips, four aces in your hand, and the conviction that you simply cannot lose.

Those were the days, simple & pure, easy and free; no fears, no worries. Nothing at all like today.

Except for that strategic ABM game called MISSILE COMMAND, which some people couldn’t play because it reminded us that we would surely die in Reagan’s global thermonuclear war ANY MINUTE NOW.

But aside from that: a golden era. Kids, you don't know what you missed.

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