Everyone’s back, and everyone’s happy. Gnat saw me at the airport before I saw her, but I heard DADDDEEE!! and saw her running towards me, arms outstretched. Big hug. She never let go. I nearly wept with joy, and that was just after a six-day absence; imagine how it would feel after six months on wartime duty. It’s a miracle people survive those reunions; the collision of bodies ought to produce cracked ribs and concussions. I missed you so much! she said. Me too, honey. Me too.

She’s grown about three inches and gained 40 IQ points.

It’s close to midnight, and I’m fried - pounding headache from the new glasses. The prescription ain’t right, to use Hank Hill terms; my eyes feel like I’m bobbing for onions in a basket of porcupines. And I had to use some Dad muscles not used for a week. Gnat and I spent the night playing tag, hide & seek, and Hide In the Tent from Monster Dog - it's a game Jasper can play, although he has his own agenda. He puts the ball in the tent. I throw it. He retrieves the ball, then throws himself into the tent with full lupine fury, blasting in the front and crashing through the back. Vastly amusing, except for the parts where he appeared to be taking this very seriously, and we got a foretaste of rabid-addled family pet goes Cujo mode: whoa.) Around ten PM Gnat was sitting at her desk with no pants on, arranging letters in her Chicka Chicka Boom Boom CD, and I thought: all is well again. Everything is as it was.

Except that it isn’t.

I think I might return to radio.

No: I know I’m going to return to radio. I just made the decision, now, at 11:54 PM. If all goes well, the Diner’s coming back. It’ll stream on the web, and it'll be archived. But that means the end of the Backfence, and the end of the Bleat. By which I mean: if things happen as I wish, I need to streamline my metaphors. The radio show would be a broadcast from the Diner; the newspaper column would be renamed as well, and the Bleat would become, oh, I don’t know, Napkin Scribblings or something equally stupid. Blessed convergence may finally be at hand.

Downside: a static design for this page, with turquoise-and-pink boomerang pattern formica elements. Upside: a static design, so I don’t have to spend an hour Friday nights redesigning. Friday night will become “show prep” night. Additional upside: I can use the iSight camera for webcasts while the show’s in progress. Downside: I look like a dork when I have the headphones on. But I look like a dork with them off, too. Might as well strap on the cans and make a dollar or two.

Last night was a pip. A real pip. Look up pip, you have last night. Pipperific. Went to the fair, again, thinking I’d pop on Hugh’s show for ten minutes, but bless his heart he had me on for the entire hour. We took calls from people around the country who read this ragged thing, which just astonished me. Whether there was an unnoted Hewitt-show / bleat nexus before I've no idea, but there is now, and it's completely a creation of the man's generousity. You don't find many people in the radio business that willing to spread the wealt, and I'm in his debt - Oh, so THAT'S it. I get a show, he drops by six months later with Generalissimo, looking for his cut. All is clear.

Afterwards I went to the midway to shoot video for the family movie, and this time I got the rides at sunset. Very nice. I did not shoot the ride that consists of chairs hung from chains; I shot that one in 01, and edited lyrical slo-mo shots of the people flying through the air, falling, not falling, spinning, rising. After 9/11 I couldn’t watch the footage, because it reminded me of the people who jumped. The bodies that fell. It made me hate the hijackers all the more - a simple fair ride half a continent away, poisoned. Bastards. Bastards.

But that’s another post, two weeks from today.

Went home. Ecstatic dog: you’re not dead! You’re not! Fed him, walked him, sat down to begin the day’s work.

It was 10 PM.

Usually this would be a problem, but the longer wife & child stayed away the more I reverted to my natural state, staying up later and later until the remote fell from my boneless hand. So “ten PM” meant I had at least five hours ahead of me. Could I get a movie in? Only if I worked fast. First up: download, crop photos, whip together a site for the fair photos. One hour: check. Second job: the Sunday column. I’d written a quarter of the column that afternoon, but upon close examination it sucked like an Oreck. Hmm. Oh, the premise was fine. The premise concerned the closing of the wading pools in the middle of August. That’s right - budget cuts, you see. They couldn’t find $13K in a $60 million budget for wading pools, so they shut them on the hottest day of the year. I think, but cannot prove, that this is their way of making us scream to our legislators, to show up outside their offices carrying our limp tots, begging for tax hikes so the wee bairns can be moistened with chlorinated, pee-infused H20 through Labor Day. God forbid they’d ever let some staffers go - no, every Park Department employee is vital and crucial, right down to the guy whose job consists of visiting all the wading pools and putting up CLOSED signs. (The sign at our local pool actually said it was closed for maintenance, which was a lie.)

The pools reopened thanks to a gift from KSTP TV. I didn’t see anything about that in the paper. I did, however, see an interesting story about the state budget for arts. It seems that Minnesota sends money to . . . North Dakota. Under the theory that Minnesotans cross the border and use the museums in Fargo, the state spends over 100K to fund NoDak facilities and programs - and it also spends in excess of a million dollars to support Prairie Public Television, the Fargo NoDak PBS station.

No, it’s not coming out of the Park budget, but it is state money, and the Park board gets state money - less this year than ever before. I hate to be one of those whack-job state’s rights nutcases, but here I go: I think my tax money should go to our local wading pools instead of subsidizing television stations in other states. There, I’ve said it.

Anyway, the column had ire but no yuks. So I decided to write an all-Fair column. Small problem: I’d just written one. Well, let’s write another. So I banged it out on my office laptop; logged on to the office mainframe, sent the column. One thirty AM.


Complete & total freedom. No more radio; no more columns; the Bleat update was done. And I wasn’t cross-eyed with exhaustion yet. What to do? Fire up Soundtrack and make another MP3? No, I’ve learned my lesson. You’ll get no more of those, you’ll be glad to hear. Movie time. The big quarterly box of Amazonia had arrived a few days before, and I had a few 50s sci-fi movies to watch. I chose The Thing.

Not the remake. All I remember about that one was 56 pounds of intestines bolting out of Wilfred Brimley’s cake-hole. This was the original, with James Arness as the malevolent carrot. From what I’ve read, Howard Hawks just didn’t produce it, he directed it - and that’s what gives it a spin few other creature-features have. The dialogue, shall we say, is snappy. Everyone’s talking over everyone else, like it’s some 1930s newspaper-office farce. Imagine “Alien” directed by David Mamet, and you get the idea. I’ve seen it before, but the print that circulates on cable is craptacular; this one was clean and clear. I love this movie.

And it’s cheap. Fourteen bucks! Here you go.

And while you’re at it, pick up Soylent Green for grins & Super Saver Shipping rates. Do not, I repeat, do NOT get “Omega Man.” I watched it so you don’t have to. It’s bad. It was the coolest movie ever when I saw it as a kid, but it doesn’t hold up well - too sodden with 70s up-the-establishment, maaaan BS to make it work 30 years hence.

Now I'll go downstairs and watch a little TV - but this time I'll tiptoe and whisper. Everyone's home; everyone's asleep. Back to normal. No more 3 AM bedtimes. I'm back to my life as a family man. I'm shooting for a 2 AM turn-in. At the latest.

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