Late night, no time to edit, forgive the mistakes. So:

Ten inches? Twelve? The details aren’t important. It keeps coming, and coming, and packing down. The dog loves it. I love it. And most of all I like what I see on the highways: apparently the new, bigger vehicles are equipped with something that helps them defeat the laws of physics. Gravity. Momentum? Not a prob, bro! I turn this switch, and I can do a dead stop from 65 MPH in three feet. SO GET OUT OF THE WAY!

Winter has sounds defined by the absence of other sounds; it’s a season of silence. I just went outside to finish the cigar. Up the street: the blade of a shovel crunching into a snowbank. In the distance: the beeping of a salt-spreader backing up. Then nothing. Scarves of smoke from all the chimneys. The hill glistens in the light of the streetlamps. February is grim business, don’t get me wrong; we’re past the great thirty-one-day bulk of January, but the miserable fickle month of March is down the road, tapping its cudgel in its palm. February is four solid weeks of snow and cold. It’s all bones with slush for gristle. When the sun comes out it’s either a taunt or an apology. If this weather had hit in March, we’d all be grouchy. If it had hit in April we’d be reaching for the razor and drawing dotted lines on our wrists. First week of February? We can do that. We’re happy to rise to the challenge, frankly; so many winters lately have been pallid shades of winters we knew, and since so much of the Minnesota psyche is grounded in blizzards and deprivation, it’s good that we have the chance to show we can still take it. I walked Jasper tonight through sidewalks unplowed, drifts, banks, alleys, and he loved it: dogs love snow. Dogs get to leap. They get in touch with their inner wolf. And I remember every other winter that came, bore down hard, did its worst, and left in shame when the flowers threaded up on schedule.

Why do I live here? Not because I love the snow. Just because I need it. Go figure.

And I am crazy, nuts, unhinged. It took 45 minutes to drive Gnat to her Nana’s house today. What I call “hands and knees” driving. At least it gives us a chance to talk.

What are you thinking about?

Dogs, and cats, and cars.

What about them?

I don’t know.

Well, those are good things to think about. I will think about them too.

No you don’t.

But I want to.

No! No thinking.

You can’t make me not think.

Yes I can!

And I’ve seen enough Twilight Zones not to press that point, because the next thing you know you're a jack-in-the-box in the cornfield. Gnat gets into these argumentative loops which can be quite interesting; while ferrying her and Jasper to Nana’s last weekend, she noted that Jasper was “bopping.”

He’s burping?

No, bopping.

He’s boffing? (Euphemism for hurling.)

No, bopping.

What is bopping?


I don’t think I know what I’m saying.

She recognizes it and admits it. No chance for her in politics.

Back to work – hit the Backfence link for my unnecessary column on the Janet Jackson Controversy. As of 1:00 AM last night it was going to be a Bleat, and the grindingly banal tale of being turned down at the movie theater was slated as the newspaper column. Then I thought: be timely, my good man. You work for a newspaper. Keyword: news. So I flipped them.

Now I write my national column about Janet Jackson, and the distinction between the public and private realms. As I said on Hugh’s show tonight – when you come out against some public act that erases a previously solid boundary, you always have to note that you’re hardly a prude; why, I spent six months touring the fleshpots of the Barbary Coast, so I’m used to human perfidy. It’s almost as if your bona fides are based in your enjoyment of that which you now critique. But why not? As I say in the column: if we’re going to hell in a handbasket, can’t we have a nicer handbasket?

Oh: one more thing. While doing Hugh’s show last week I had to read some John Kerry text, and I found myself doing a not-entirely-bad rendition of his voice. When I heard him today giving a stump speech, I realized that I got it right: sonorous, ponderous, cluelessly self-regarding, the voice of someone who’s spent years in the Beltway cocoon. It's an easily reproduced voice. And it’s not a voice that will wear well as the campaign continues; one article I read this week from a Democrat said that listening to Kerry drone made him yearn for the “terse nullity” of a Bush remark. The debates will be interesting, he said to avoid ending a genial bleat on a polarizing note.

Okay, back to work in three . . . two . . . one.


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