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Still on vacation, sort of. Book work, Sunday column writing, duty duty duty. Which means I am not even going to TRY to edit this stuff. Write & post & errors be damned. And so:

Interesting things you hear when you’re sitting at the kitchen table and your child is downstairs playing in the basement: “Wow, look at all the blood!”

You don’t want to know, but of course you have to. It was just a bloody nose (what do the Brits call a bloody nose when they’re irritated about having one, incidentally? A buggered bloody nose, probably) and it was stanched at the usual pace: no inbred aristocratic anticoagulant genes here, thank God. But it soaked up a few tissues. Which got shredded and strewn around the floor. Note to self: next time that happens, pick them up before wife returns home. But it’s typical for me – in 72, I think, I fell while attempting to climb up on a sink to get something on a shelf. The sink fell off the wall, insecurely attached as it was. It hit the floor and shattered into many point white porcelain shards. I fell on it quite shortly afterwards. Big gash. Much blood. I called a neighbor to take me to the hospital, and while waiting I drew a map of my paper route to give to my friend Peter, who I called after I called the neighbor. I’m sure I called my mom, who was out at the farm at the time; surely I called my mom. Didn’t reach her, though. So she came home to find a trail of blood up the basement stairs, through the kitchen, and over the plastic sheets that covered the carpet in the hallway. I’m sure her first thought wasn’t “who will do his paper route?”

The memory brings back the recollection of those horrible plastic carpet condoms, all the vogue in nobody-sit-on-the-nice-sofa era. They gave off dizzying chemical smells for at least a year. C’mon, kids, it’s time to razor off your benign growths. I don’t know if people still put them down. We, as a society, may have come to our senses. Really, if you’re going to have carpet, then have it. Deal with the dirt. Deal with the blood.I have no idea where I'm going with this. New subject.

Watched “I, Robot” with the usual sense of weary resignation. Will Smith plays the worst homicide detective ever; at first, his idea of interrogating suspects consists of asking zero (0) questions while acting Cocky, thus establishing that he’s a guy who Plays By His Own Rules. He has a gruff-but-lovable boss who chews him out for following hunches and letting his personal feelings influence his work, and boy what a stunner when the boss takes him off the case! You can’t help but sit on the edge of your chair wondering whether he’ll go his own way now, because this time it’s personal.

The story’s okay; the basic idea entertaining enough, and the FX were often superb. (The best actor in the movie was a computer-generated robot, which is warning enough.) The vision of the future was right out of Minority Report – apparently blue and silver are the only legal colors in 2035, except for the darker tones worn by sullen, world-weary cops who play by their own rules because this time it’s personal. It’s heartening, in a way, to see the future so clear and bright; no polluted dystopias here. Chicago looked great. The skyscraper for the robot conglomerate looked a little out of place, since they’d mostly likely build a sprawling suburban office park, but fine. I worried about the huge underground freeway – if they’re going to have that thing in place by 2035 they needed to start working on it yesterday, and I’ve been checking the papers: nothing. Will Smith comes off fine and likeable as usual – he’s the Tom Hanks of action blockbusters – but you wish the film had let his character seem smarter than you sensed he was. At some point the movie actually gets interesting and exciting, but I imagine the following dialogue took place in the producer’s office:

“Guys, I love what you got going here. It’s great. It has it all. But I have one small problem with the big riot scene before the end, when Will and the white chick, forget her name but she’s great, and they’re on their way to the big evil corporation building. It needs crapping up.”

“Uh – what do you mean?”

“It needs some candy for the trailer. Here’s what I see. Will and the chick are driving through this mob, and Will spots this kid about six blocks away. A young kid. Will’s a role model for him. And Will decides to save him, so, I don’t know, he gives his gun to the chick, then drives his motorcycle over to where the kid is, and – I’m just talking out loud here, he drives the bike up a car like it’s a ramp, and then does a backflip off the bike and takes out his spare gun and shoots the evil robot who’s strangling the kid while he’s still up in the air! Bang bang bang. Then he and the kid have some sarcastic dialogue. You know, lighten the tension.”


“Why would we want to lighten the tension?”

“To heighten it! You know, opposites attract, sweet and sour.”

“Okay. Then how about another robot comes up and strangles Wil, and then the chick shows up and shoots him with the machine gun which she’s never used, and she has her eyes closed but manages to shoot just the robot, and then they all laugh about how she shot him with her eyes closed?”

“That’s exactly what I mean! Crap it up! You’re the best. Okay, I gotta take this call.”

“But your phone hasn’t rung.”

“It will, it will. I’ll see you later. Great job. Really. We couldn’t be happier.”

Whether the audience shared the sentiment was irrelevant.