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the "fun" begins here


My wife is gone for four days on a business trip, and it’s just me and the kid until Wednesday night. Fine by me. Staying at home all day is pretty much my ideal day anyway. But it began at when Gnat crawled into my bed clutching her new Barbie as Erica Doll.

“Wake up, Daddee.”

I checked the clock. Eight. Not bad. Unfortunately, I had gone to bed at 3 AM. After several years away from my old shameful habit, I have become hooked on Hawaii Five-O again. And we’re talking the recent episodes that have that Al Harrington guy. This meant I was two hours shy of the amount of sleep I’d need to make it through the day. But she fell asleep, waking periodically to ask me to get up. “Five minutes,” I said. I got an hour more out of that one. Eventually I woke to hear her composing a little play with two Barbies.

“Erika’s dead,” she said.

“That’s too bad. Are you sure?”


“She’s only dead in the dark.”

That was the creepiest thing I’d ever heard her say. OhKAY, let’s get up. Joy: it was 10:30. I made a breakfast of scrambled eggs with swiss cheese, sausage and cinnamon buns. Get the paper. A section: whatever. B section: the real news. Oh , Pierre Salinger died; he was one of the few who vowed to leave American if Bush was elected. And this was before Bush revealed himself to be Adolf Torquemada Antichrist! If he’d hung around long enough for a second term he would have probably climbed up on a tall stool and tried to jump to the moon. The obit unsparingly noted how he blew his credibility with his theories about downed planes. I doubt that’s how he saw his life, but that’s how it goes. Live your life like you’re writing your own obit, and you might be more careful, for good or ill.

Ah, platitudes! Sorry. It’s been a simple day. My companion is four, after all. But she does surprise me, all the time; tonight after our Halloween Peeps Hunt, she took the bag to her room – “for safekeeping,” she explained. She's four. Where did she learn that word?
Yes, Peeps Hunt. I promised a Halloween Party, and we had one. Got out the decorations, decked the house with grinning gourds and cackling cats, lit the candles, put on spooky music that raises the hackles and chills the blood – Celine Dion, mostly – and put out Halloween paper plates and orange plastic cutler and tiny cups shaped like ghosts. Then she changed into her jimmies, since the event had now been recontextualized as a slumber party. Oh boy! Chicken nuggets, my favorite! Thank you, Daddee. That’s very thoughtful of you. Can we brush our teeth in bed?

Moments like that wipe away ten huffy fits. Of course, they know this.

Mommy called from the road; I saw the caller ID and handed the phone to Gnat. “Hello, who is this talking? MOMMEE! WE HAD A SLUMBER PARTY HALLOWEEN PARTY IN OUR JAMMIES WITH MARSHMALLOWS AND –“

And so forth. Of course I shot lots of video today. For safekeeping.

Watched “The Day After Tomorrow,” because I enjoy special effects, and can find the FF button on my remote in the dark.
Notes to director Roland Emmerich:

1. You can stop destroying New York City now, okay?

2. While one can only applaud your use of the PC Trifecta for your Plucky Young Kids – smart sarcastic African-American, nerdy-brilliant girl who’s humma-humma sexy when she de-geeks, and a mopey chestless nice guy – you are quite behind the times. That would do in the 90s. Now the mix must include a biracial transgendered kid, preferably Asian / American Indian, who also exhibits unusual strength and/or bravery. Bonus points for the cheerful homeless-guy-as-comic- relief, though. You = social empathy!

3. I noticed that the guys who walked from DC to New York entered the city by walking past the Statue of Liberty, then approaching the East Side. Uh – right. You know, a few of us out here in flyoverland have actually been to NYC. True! And that line about not being able to find the Library even though they’re standing right on top of it? amusing it was, but heck, I’m here in Minneapolis and I could find the Library if the city was buried in ice up to the tenth floor, since Manhattan has – how do I put this? – a landmark or two.

4. Boy, you sure nailed Cheney, huh? Right down the part where he goes to a global warning conference and snaps derogatory retorts at the scientist who’s giving a presentation. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a major politician dress down a civilian with scorn and sarcasm in a major conference on ecological catastrophy.

5. Next time, have Dennis Quaid set his Acting Face on something other than “woke up to the sound of the smoke alarm.”

6. Early in the movie we infer that Dennis Quaid is no longer married to Sela Ward because his demanding job as a paleoclimatologist drove her away. Given that this means he preferred drilling ice to – well, Sela Ward, do you expect us to have any sympathy for this idiot at all?

7. You remember that scene where the guys in the Scottish station are sitting around pounding the Balvenie, knowing they're going to die, and one of the guys is talking about never seeing his son grow up as if he's describing a lottery ticket he lost six years ago that may or may not have had the winning numbers? Bookmark that scene should you ever wake in the middle of the night wondering "do I suck, completely?"

8. Also, when the script calls for something as remarkable as the President of the United States perishing in a horrible snow storm, you might consider, oh, showing it. Having a character walk in and say “The president didn’t make it” is rather like doing a film about the Apollo space program and casually alluding to the collapse of a Saturn V gantry.

AFP wins the DOOM-CRAMMED PHOTO award of the week, I think. Jeez. All it needed was a sign that said “Bridge to the 21st Century Out.”

Interesting piece in the NYT: according to Bruce Bartlett, conservative economist, Bush’s worst problem is that he’s a flaming Jesus nut and hence too much like OBL.

“Just in the past few months,” Bartlett said, “I think a light has gone off for people who’ve spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he’s always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.” Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush’s governance, went on to say: “This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can’t be persuaded, that they’re extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he’s just like them... This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.''

A look through Mr. Barlett’s archives was not particularly instructive; his style cannot be described as “Economists Go Wild.” The prose is so dry it’s not so much written as it is grated, like ancient parmesan. Let’s look at what he wrote on Sept. 12 2001:

As this is written, George W. Bush has pretty much been invisible. He seems to be acting as if the nation were attacked by nuclear missiles from Russia, rather than terrorists with limited, if devastating, capabilities.

It seems to me that Bush's reaction was inappropriate. Instead of acting as if the nation were at war, he should have reacted as if an earthquake or hurricane had hit New York. Instead of hiding out at a military facility in Nebraska, he should have gone to New York and directed the relief effort. Rather than looking like the commander in chief, Bush looks out of touch.

Got that? New York and the Pentagon are attacked, another plane goes down en route to God knows where, and the President makes a great grand crazy leap of logic: this might be war. Directed the relief effort? For heaven’s sake, did the want the Commander in Chief running down to Ground Zero and handing out bottled water? Sir! We have unconfirmed reports of troop movements in Syria, and our satellites have found unusual activity in some Afghan training camps! Not now, you fool! I have to get these sandwiches to the firefighters!

But back to the main point. I guess Bush wants to kill them all because his religious beliefs make him disinclined to be persuaded, and extreme in his convictions. Ergo agnostics want to kill only some terrorists, and atheists don’t want to kill any? Look. The problem some people have with Bush isn’t that he believes in God, it’s that he really believes in God. To a certain stratum of our intelligentsia, you’re supposed to believe in God like you believe in continental drift, or the tides, or the yearly reappearance of Shamrock Shakes at McDonald’s. The idea that it’s a two-way conversation strikes many as nonsense, proof that we’re dealing with someone two steps removed from worshipping the moon. I don’t say this as someone who gets daily briefings from the Big Guy Upstairs; for whatever reason, I’ve never felt as if God had me on speed dial. This hasn’t influenced my thoughts about religion in the least, believe it or not. I don’t need Carl Sagan showing up at my door to believe there are billions and billions of stars.

It varies, shall we say. For every believer who feels compelled to drop to his knees you have a Gene Hackman-style priest from “The Poseidon Adventure,” yelling at God. Rational people can have many different manifestations of faith, and it’s a failure of imagination to think there’s but one way.

Duh. I know: duh. But back to the point: The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence. Well, yes. Except, well, no. It depends how you define “evidence.” Bartlett seems to think the problem isn’t what you believe, it’s that you believe. No small distinction. It’s almost a spiritual version of George Carlin’s law: anyone driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac.

Okay, the Tivo’d “Backyardigans” is over, time for story, time for brushing teeth, time for bed for her and “The Wire” for Daddy. Best sleepover Halloween party day ever.