Usually we get 14 – 16 dependable weeks of warm weather here, shorts and T-shirt weather. I live for this season. This year we’ve had four, maybe five such weeks, and they’ve been scattered throughout the entire season. It’s going down into the top 40s tonight: evil. But we’ve all adjusted. It’s the damndest thing. Everyone has just accepted that September will last eight weeks this year, just as we accepted that April lasted sixteen. It’s fall. Move on. So at Target today I looked at the fine collection of patterned napkins, and chose one that had brown and red leaves. Brought it home, stored it behind the current package of napkins, which – hope against hope – have a nice floral pattern. When I went downstairs to put away the Bounty towels, I discovered that I’d been buying them at twice the rate of consumption; Jasperwood now has enough paper towels to soak up the contents of the Exxon Valdez.

But wait! The thrilling tale continues. While rearranging the towels I discovered another pack of fall-patterned napkins identical to the ones I’d just purchased. I also found another batch of the floral variety. Well, there was just one thing to do, and I think you know where I’m going with this: I moved the fall pattern from the upstairs storage area to the lower, and brought the floral ones back up. Yes. Yes, I did that. That’s the kind of guy I am. That’s the kind of life I lead.

I told this story to my wife when she got home from her High-powered Legal Job, and at first she really worried: he’s the worst kind of crazy. He’s boring and crazy.

Then she realized I was kidding, but if truth be told, I am nuts. I know without question that I will never get to the bottom of the napkins and towels, because I will never let the supply get too low. This is genetic. Proof:

When cleaning out the ancestral manse before my father moved out, I found a sheaf of napkins my mother had put away. I have no idea why. They were amongst the towels. She had lots of towels. A generational thing, perhaps; they all looked like gifts from showers or minor holidays, and had been put away for special events, in case they had a party and someone either went into labor or sliced open a leg vein and had a hemophiliac attack. It makes you wonder just how many acres of towels rest in dark drawers, never used, waiting for someone to cart them off to the antique store in the hopes they’ll fetch a buck. But among the cloth towels was an unopened pack of Kleenex brand table napkins in this really cool hue. I wouldn’t want to see this color anywhere but on a napkin, but I love it.

It has an op-art pattern the scan barely picks up. I have fifty of them. I think I’ll use them at the next book party.

It’s Thurlsday, and that means links and other oddities. First, to continue the parade of 70s-inspired horrors, I present this new phone from Nokia:

This is not modern design. This is a cologne bottle from Logan’s Run.

At least when he’s bent over the frets, it leaves his ponytail vulnerable. Yank it hard enough and he’ll topple off the stool howling in pain. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Prepare to scream.

The digitizing of old tapes isn’t going very well, because the tapes are too degraded. Lots of fuzz, bad audio. So far I’ve teased three clips out, and they’re not just fuzzy and crackly, they’re very small. Nonetheless, if you’re interested in 80s video, we have the opening credits for “Private Eye,” which was Miami Vice set in the 40s in LA, just as “Crime Story” was “Vice” set in Chicago in the 60s. Meaning, lots of shots of cars at night on wet streets with men smoking moodily. Longtime Bleat readers know that I regard “Crime Story” as the best of the shows from the Mann stable, but I recall that I liked “Private Eye” a lot. If Crime Story was Deep Space Nine to Vice’s Next Generation, “Private Eye” was “Enterprise.”

Speaking of which, before I give the links: The other night I watched “First Contact” again, because it came up on HDTV. The portion that takes place on the Enterprise is quite fine; the best ship-centric movie scenes in the series. The stuff on the ground is all wrong. As written, the character of Cochrane might have worked if it hadn’t been played by James Cromwell; he acted like a silly drunken hippie biker, and there was nothing to suggest that he had somehow managed to figure out, you know, warp drive while sitting around in a tin-roof shantytown. (His statement that he built the engine to make money is supposed to be a character flaw, too. Sigh. ) At least it ends right: the Vulcans sitting in a bar while drunken Americans dance around to 50s rock and roll. You can only hope that the Vulcans ended the night heaving in the bushes - and after only 4 hours on Earth! No wonder they mistrusted us. We were like the cast of MTV Spring Break with nuclear weapons.

Speaking of Star Trek: do you know who Alan Keyes reminds me of? Richard Daystrom. He had that same erudite quaver that suggested madness or brilliance and probably both. Now that Keyes has come out for reparations, I also expect him to announce that M-5 will be his political strategist. Note to Mr. Keyes: regards to Senator Dunsel.

Boy, that red-lined the geekometer.

The ads include The Noid. A true child of he 80s, he reminds me of a herpes blister come to life. Another ad will be familiar to Twin Citians: an ad for “The Connection,” a pre-internet sort-of-computer-thingy system for finding out show times and phone numbers. I don’t know anyone who used it, but they ran these commercials late at night, every night. The music will be instantly recognizable, just like the music that used to accompany the “don’t smoke, and this theater is available for rental” trailer that began every showing of every movie in the 80s.

Finally, a Pontiac ad that ran during “Miami Vice,” and you can see why. This was the sort of ad that made me feel small and lonely, because here I was watching TV on Friday night instead of driving my Pontiac to bars to see musicians make pained faces in front of brick walls. Start here, and click the 80s links at the top of the page for more.

Thus ends Thurlsday. New Fence as well; click below. See you tomorrow. Tonight I will be at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Pray for me.


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c. 1995-2004 j. lileks