Screenshot from HBO's magnificent "Band of Brothers."
J-Lo and B-Af have called it quits, and I’m as devastated as the rest of you. Which is to say I am incapable of caring any less than I did when that horrid symbiotic organism they called Bennifer first appeared on the covers of US and People and WE and Them and Pretty Humanoid Penile / Mucoid-Membrane Interface Update and all the rest of the magazines that detail the doings of vapid, genetically-blessed bipeds we have elevated to the status of impotent royalty. According to People, which I glimpsed in the checkout line today, the next big thing is Justin and Cameron. The magazine promised to tell me why they’re drawn to each other. That’s why we need People! Lesser mortals might figure that the usual triplicate enticements of money, fame and smokin’ pokin’ are at play here, but no: People will tell us that they share some deep bond based on a moment when they both took calls from their agents advising them to soft-pedal the PETA pronouncements and gradually move their advocacy statements to something more megaplex-friendly, like the Campaign to Save the Peruvian Forests.

"Whoa, Cameron - you like those native flute-guys who play on streetcorners through really loud amps? Me too! I was coming back from this one place and we were like stopped at like Times Square and I heard those guys playing, and it was like totally haunting. I even made my handler run out and buy a CD because I was like, whoa, we need to be seriously considering Peruvian music for underscore in my next film - but did you read that quote my agent sent to my Blackberry? If we don’t speak up the trees they use for native flute will be used for, like, furniture or something. I can’t believe you’re into that! That is so cool!"

It took me 4 seconds to translate the magazine cover - who are they talking about? Justin must be that Timberwood fellow, whose work I cannot quite fix. Cameron would be that goofy Diaz creature who was so lovely in “The Mask” but suffered so many internal tapeworms she will compete with Courtney Cox for a nomination in “The best performance by a prominent sternum bone” in the 04 People’s Choice Award.

A fine weekend, perhaps the last gust of summer. The weather turned cooler - not cold, no. But fall puts you on notice. Fall gives you fair warning. A few leaves drop. The temps decline. The sun pulls its punches; the light of late afternoon has a quality you haven’t thought about for a year, and recognize in an instant. The waning is upon us. Yesterday I put on long pants for the first time in three months; today I slipped on a jacket that had been hanging on a stroller in the garage since April. You adapt, adopt, improve; and in this fashion you feel almost as if you’re beating time at its own game. A necessary illusion. In the allegory of seasons, early fall is many things. It’s middle age. And it’s childhood as well - the new start in the face of the declining world. I love fall. It’s the only season that ends worse than it began. But you know that from the start. It’s how it acquits itself that matters. Our dry summer may mean a dull fall - no great bright riot of color, no rich autumnal palette. The leaves will die and the leaves will drop. But we’ll get one bonus day in October when the heat spikes and the sun blares, and the measured senescence of the old green world will seem both frivolous and precious. One last bright day before winter. One last romp in the yard. Brown leaves and green grass; lemonade at noon and the crackling fire at night.

I couldn’t live anywhere with one season. I couldn’t keep track of ten. Two would be okay, and perhaps we’ve invented Spring and Fall to make sense of the off-on cycle of the world, give it some grace and persuasion it otherwise lacks. But four: that’s just right. It’s one of those odd happenstance attributes of the planet. The Earth is just where it should be. The necessary moon, agent of the tides, is just where it has to be, too. The core spins; the invisible fields screen the bad space rays; everything is set up for life to arise and flourish. I should note I’m not one of those who believe that the existence of life on earth proves intelligent design. I want to believe in intelligent design, and hence I am suspicious of anything that seems to confirm my desire to believe. (It’s the ancient age-old inner conflict: Mulder v. Scully.) It’s quite possible we’ll get out There someday and discover that millions of planets formed in the sweet spot. And it would be really stupid to ascribe the symphonic perfection of the four seasons to any sort of design - particularly because they’re hardly ubiquitous on earth, and life doesn’t seem to have arisen in, say, Duluth. The world is what it is, and I don’t think God is sending me a message when the trees shed their leaves.

Giving me hints, though?

Perhaps. There are those who see Proof of God Everywhere, and I’ve never felt that. But as I’ve noted elsewhere, I am theologically incoherent: Lutheran Deism is the only way I can sum up what I think. Maybe your God spells things out; fine. Maybe mine implies things with an arched eyebrow.

Jeebus Crow, I did not expect to head down this path when I cracked open the laptop.


Pretty late-summer transitional day. Went to the Crazy Uke’s house for a dual birthday party; his three-year-old and his new daughter. Cake, hotdish meat on buns, four generations; men in the backyard arguing politics over cigars. Gnat was poised and polite; at one point I saw her standing by the presents, desperately wanting to rip them open - but she clasped her hands behind her back, waiting, waiting for the moment when she could hand a package to the guest of honor. I saw her try to thread her way through a forest of old-growth adults, and she said “excuse me, I need to get to get through . . . thank you.” Who taught her that? Well, we did. And it stuck. Earlier today she met up with a neighbor kid, and we invited her in to play while the moms attended the local Tangletown Tour. It’s a yearly fall event where people visit the fabled Old Homes of Tangletown, ooh and ahh over the renovations, drink in the history, snarkily carp at the houses that weren’t quite as fine as last year, etc. People come from all over for the tour. I could sell driveway space for parking places.

Gnat and her friend spent the afternoon playing. They invented an elaborate story: the Giant Dog and the Giant Cat were coming to Get Them, and to combat these creatures - and their assistant, the Witch - they contrived a series of house-wide maneuvers that involved umbrellas, hiding in closets, enlisting the services of several dolls, and other details no adult could grasp. Somehow they have intuited the existence of a Threat, and instinctively grasped the need to meet it. And then ice cream, please. Or juice.

En route to the Crazy Ukes’ Gnat wanted to hear the Powpuf song - it’s on a CD I burned, taken from a Powerpuff brand-extension disc I bought back in the days when I watched the Powerpuff Girls at 3 AM while gaseous Gnat slept on my chest.

Fighting grime tying to save the worwl
Here they come jus in time
The PowPuf Guls

I save the day! she tells me sometimes, after we’ve pretended to fight off unspecified threats. Not unusual. At the birthday party the Giant Swede said his son - his pre-kindergarten dynamo - wanted to play a game he called “Fight the million bad guys until they don’t move anymore.”

Needless to say the Giant Swede pitched in. He’s in the airline industry. He’s responsible for planes and places and people most of all. These days fighting the million bad guys is uppermost in his mind.

The birthday party unraveled all at once; bath-and-bedtime loomed for all. Goodbye to the wee gurlgy tot; goodbye to the patriarch who’d fought the Soviets, made it to the US with two dimes in four pockets, and was driven 50 years later to his grandson’s birthday in a classic Rolls. Home to Jasperwood. Home to Jasper, who really needs to leave a log on someone’s lawn. And so we walk through the neighborhood. Sunset. Earlier than before, but still a few months from the 5 PM guillotine. Green grass, tired trees, sprinklers, shirt sleeves on some and jackets on others. One week of school behind us. Chilly temps predicted.

Summer's done. Does the dog care? Not hardly. He bounds up the long stone stairs and stands at the top, and barks: we’re alive aren’t we? Let’s play.

And the first week of fall begins.

(too tired to edit this; forgive me my blather.)

Amazon Honor SystemClick Here to PayLearn More