One month left of short-pants weather. This thought makes some of us suicidal and homicidal, which is why it's good the month ends in the State Fair. Youre too hot, sticky, greasy and exhausted to act out on your furies. As long as were not wearing heavy coats by the end of September, we can handle it. Mild Septembers, kind Octobers - they build up this strange meteorological goodwill that seeks you through the bleakest February.
Today was humid and cloudy - a nice break, actually. After a while a sunny day strikes you as slightly idiotic, and you need a nice surly day to keep you balanced. You want scowling clouds and intermittent rain. You run the air conditioner full blast. You enjoy the cleansing rain that keeps you indoors. And you get down to some serious dusting. Im talking Olde English polish cloths on the wood trim, and - do NOT laugh - wet Q-tips in the corners where the dust really gets packed down.
What? WHAT? I havent done this in weeks. Needs to be done. Its my form of meditation, okay? Gnat plays in her room down the hall, and I polish and clean. And sometimes when Daddy is running the thin cloth along the woodwork he encounters a tiny splinter, and Gnat learns a new word.
You okay, Daddee?
Im fine, I say - but then I see she has her little doctors kit. Gnat has a bag with medical tools, and like millions of children, she enjoys jabbing blunt plastic hypos into the dogs butt. (Shes always careful to say this wont hurt a bit before she does it, though.) Today she asked if I was sick, and I said I had a little cold; out came the kit. She took my temperature, placing her hand to my forehead as I held the thermometer in my mouth; she had this priceless expression of solicitude, concern, and professional remove. Then it was the blood pressure test, also known as the Orange Puffing Thing, then an ear and eye exam.
The kit includes six cards - three are X-rays - a skull, a ribcage, some legs. The other three are patient charts.
Lets play cards, she said. Something else she picked up from a 1930s Mickey Mouse cartoon. She dealt the cards - six to me, none to her. She seemed confused about the pasttime, so I decided to teach her to gamble. I invented a game called Skeleton Poker: whoever gets two X-ray cards in their deal wins. I shuffled, cut, and dealt. Show your cards! I said. I had three skeletons. Whoo-hoo! Number one! In your face! Shuffled again, and this time she had the ribcage and shinbones. You win, I said. I win! she said. Back and forth the contest raged, until eventually she wanted to deal.
Shuffle, I said. She shuffled. Mickey was an excellent teacher, apparently.
Then she peeked at each card and dealt herself three skeletons.
At least she dealt them face down.
We went to a furniture store this afternoon; Mommy needed a little cheering up, so I thought Id get a picture frame a for a Gnat photo, put it on the mantle. Our mantle only has a few pictures, and it almost looks as if we dont like anyone. Oh, we used to have family photos, but we drove em all away one by one, so now its just the kid and the dog. Most of those other pictures came with the frame. The store sells mostly Mission and Arts & Crafts - reasonably priced, well-made. And its in (bum bum BUMMM) the suburbs! Imagine that. Granted, its a first-ring burb; theyre usually the burbs where you find the interesting shops, because theyve sunk in stature as the finer folk flee further into the fields.
Honest to Bog, I did not intend that sentence to happen. It just did. That was exactly what I wanted to say, and I watched in horror as one F word after the other presented itself and said huh? Well? I work, dont I? Hah! I apologize; alliteration always -
Yikes. Id better step away from the computer for a while. Freshen my drink and consult that small cigar. Back in an hour.
Okay. The store had an Arts and Crafts Adjustable Bed, of all things. Gnat sat on the floor and pushed the buttons: bed goes up, bed goes down. Bed goes up, bed goes down. I stepped around the corner for a moment to look at some tiles - you know, the limited edition tiles you put on a wire frame and display, so when people come over they say nice tile. When I looked back Gnat had climbed inside the frame, and all I could imagine was the bed suddenly Coming To Life and eating her while. Out she went, with remonstrations.
Made the purchase; the clerk wrote it up on the computer. In mid-transaction she stepped away to get new register tape, and another employee wandered past the terminal and looked at the invoice.
Hey, James Lileks? he said. The James Lileks? From the Hugh Hewitt show?
Behold the power of radio! You can labor in the print world for decades and never make a single impression, but come out of peoples car radios once a week and you lodge in their brain like a fishbone in the throat. (A throat in the brain.) (Im very tired. Please forgive me.) We had a merry chat about things; I introduced Gnat, said Id see him at the Fair, and we left.
He'd be repaid that night, as we'll see.
Back home. Did this, did that. Gnat wanted to watch the Powerpuff Girls movie, but I turned it off after 15 minutes, as she was having seizures. The advisory in the ratings box says nonstop frenetic animation, and theyre not kidding. She had watched one Powerpuff Girls cartoon, and she approved of them. I asked her what they did:
Poahpuff Guls beat monsters. They be hewoes and save the day! From one viewing she got it all. Later she wanted me to be a monst Anyway: as I was making dinner Hugh Hewitt referenced the Vodkapundit, which gave me a little shock - the world got one degree smaller again. Later he said he needed to play Happy Birthday for Gnat, and I thought: wouldnt that be sweet. Then my wife came home - much dog barking, welcome home honey, heres supper, how was your day? Forty minutes later I was heading down the stairs with Jasper to give him a walk, and I turned on the radio. Looked at my watch - last segment of the hour. I had a feeling. Just had this premonition. I ran back up the stairs, bolted into the house with the appearance of a man who needs to call 911 because a jet just cratered up the street, and turned on the radio. And there it was! The Happy Birthday song, with host-provided interjections of Gnats name. Her eyes went wide, and she grinned.
That fo me? Happy Bawthday fo me?
Yes, honey, thats for you!
She sang along until it ended, and then she said:
Mo Poahpuff Guls?
When she was a few months old I watched the PPGs at 2 AM while she slept on my chest, and I always wondered if shed ever enjoy the show. Would there still be PPG by the time she could grasp the concept? I spoke to her in Mojo Jojo voice all the time, so I think it had some impression. Namely, she regards her father as an orotund megalomaniacal monkey.
But I am not a monkey.
Tonight I was viewing a slew of trailers for movies Ill never see, and I happened across Jeepers Creepers 2. I watched the trailer for two reasons:
1. The song Jeepers Creepers is on my monthly car CD - and I have the original Paul Whiteman / Modernaires / Jack I Sing Like Im Incredibly Loaded Teagarden version. Kids love this song. I loved it as a child, and now I trust it as a mother. Children have no idea what its about, just that its fun to say Jeepers Creepers.
2. I actually saw JC1, by mistake. I thought it was that movie about the kids who were followed by a big semi-truck driven by the voice of the creepy weirdo in Silence of the Lambs who was also in Crime Story. Ted something. Dont write me about it. Ill go to imdb later.
Anyway, the Apple QT trailers site for JC2 referred us to Jeeperscreepers2.net, which made me think: someone must have poached jeeperscreepers2.com.
And sure enough!
Criminey: a please-leave-Saddam-alone guy who hoovers urls to lament the end of Saddam? A whois search led to an Oslo based web developer with a fallow site . . . which linked to his personal site, which has a nice warm fuzzy quote:
An' it harm none / do as you wish
Where had I read that? Right: Crowley. The Beast! Its a line oft quoted by Wiccans, but I remember it from reading Crowleys Diary of a Drug Fiend back in college. As it harms none, do as thou wilt was the ACs version. Makes the Beast sound like the original libertarian. Unfortunately, what does not harm anyone now may harm lots in the future. I mean, its not going to harm my family if I jam a spike in my arm and shoot myself full of heroin tonight - as long as I dont overdose and keep to my room, no ones troubled in the least. But at some point this expression of personal desire that does no one any harm suddenly ends up harming lots of people. You cant judge these acts in isolation.
Anyway, dont think of ordering Jeeperscreepers3.com; heres the whois:
Sevelle, Karin firstname.lastname@example.org
Manning Marketing & Publications
4/40 Burdett Street
Why dont studios think of these things in advance?
And why dont you just go listen to Jeepers Creepers right now at dismuke.org. (Scroll down.) Enjoy! Have a fine weekend.