Screenshot from HBO's magnificent "Band of Brothers."
Eyeball headache all day long, doo dah, doo dah. Eyeball headache very strong, all the doodah day. I was standing at the counter making supper, wincing, when I heard “American Pie” on the radio. Ah. Well. We know what this will be about, then. The Man On The Radio is going to tell America that I like this song, because the MOTR read my Sunday column detailing my deathless hatred for it, and his need to needle can no longer be contained. Sure enough! He waxes rhapsodic on my devotion to the Don McLean oeuvre. Lies! Filthy, stinking lies! What can I do?

Well, I do have the super-secret studio number, so let’s call up and make him face his perfidy. Which I did. I should have mentioned my suggestion for a nickname for his new intern, Moses. I propose: “Rosy Toes.” It has the proper connotations for an intern - youth, fleetness, optimism, lightweightedness. If Mr. Hewitt is indeed the fan of “show tunes” as he says, he’ll get the reference.

Yes, he said he loved show tunes.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

I wrote my weekly column about the California recall / 9th circuit thang, so I’m not going to write about it here. Except to say this: imagine you’ve been asked to complete the sentence “I’m pleased that that the courts have canceled the election before it took place, because . . .”

I wouldn’t know what to say. And I’m fascinated by those who leap to finish the sentence. They’re perfectly comfortable with the courts calling off a vote in advance. Wow: jaw, meet Mr. Floor.

04 is going to be bloody, and it’ll be bloodier still after that. This is the sort of stuff that infects the body politic to the point where people demand that we saw off a limb, because the smell is too horrid. This is the stuff that leads to Constitutional Conventions. I’m always slightly chilled when I read a paper from the Center of the American Experiment, because the name reminds you that this is, historically, just that. And as any scientist will tell you: experiments fail.

Sometimes there is such delight in cruelty. And I know what you’re thinking: sometimes? Go away, you. As for those who wonder what constitutes cruelty on my part: I called up my friend the Giant Swede and played him this.
(Note: loud wav.)

I suspected he would recognize it without being able to place it, and that he would spend the rest of the day dealing with this unscratchable itch. What was that? What? He called back twice, I think, with the names of old computer / pinball games. Nope! I said, content to let him twist, and knowing that when he did realize the sound’s origin, it would bring back memories from 20 years past.

Just to put the knife in a little deeper, I left two sounds on his answering machine at home, too.

And he got it. Dark Tower! Until I saw the link on Fark today I don’t think I’d thought of the game for years. We only played it a few times; mostly our circle spent the dateless stretches playing Risk. (And we played that one so much we tired of the rules, and introduced a new one: each player got a nuke, a piece capable of destroying all the army pieces in a given territory. Consequently no one ever massed an army again, and the game became interminable and dull. And for some reason the Cubans and Angolans downstairs had knife-fights.) Dark Tower never made it as the necessary centerpiece of a weekend night; the novelty wore off around the same time the batteries wore down. But it was fun while it lasted.

The sounds on that website were a Proustian cookie - each summoned the memory of the apartment building where we all lived: 718 4th street. The butcher-block table, the Swanson’s chicken-and-teriyaki sandwiches, the magazine photo of Jennifer Beals over the sink, the old sofa, the crappy view into the parking lot, the cigarette haze, the secondhand carpet that hid the beat linoleum. (I got myself one of those carpets as well; end-of-the-roll shag picked up for a pittance at a carpet store. Never vacuumed, of course; who had a vacuum? Later my parents took it back to Fargo and put it in the basement; my mom got one of those steam-cleaners. Apparently it took six cleanings before the water in the tank didn’t resemble four gallons of squid ink.)

Dark Tower. Wow. There was a java version available on the site, so I downloaded it at work while trying to think of something to write about. Maybe I’ll write about Dark Tower! And after playing the game for a few minutes I thought man, this is really boring.

That’s why we stopped playing it.

Still liked hearing the old sounds, though. Sure, it was like running into an old college friend and remembering that they were a tedious drone, but it’s still nice to see them. I suppose.

The conclusion to yesterday’s story about the MPIRG et al phone call: inconclusive. The fellow I spoke to had no idea how we got on their list, and assured me that we would be taken off quickly. But I’d use the word “unclear” to describe his description of the relationship between MPIRG and Citizen Action and PAN - I’d say “evasive” but it’s quite possible I just didn’t get what the hell he meant when he described the relationship. -Yes, yes the last two help MPRIG do phone work, and I’m pretty sure they don’t do it for free. But the fact remains that the guy said he was calling from MPIRG, and the Caller ID was quite clear: he wasn’t. Oh, he could have been an MPIRG guy who dropped by to use their phones. I don’t know and I don’t care. I just enjoyed pointing out that they had a big database, I didn’t know how I’d gotten into it, and I didn’t care to be there. In any case he was crisp and helpful, and quite respectful of my concerns. And there you go.

And now I go; it’s Sunday Column night, and I have two hours to finish the piece. Argh: midnight. Criminey joe.

But my headache’s gone!

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