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Today was the first day back at school, after a month off. (The first handout I got said there’d be no class January 15.) Gnat was very excited to return, since it meant she would see her fiancé, Louie. She informed me en route to school that they are to be married when they grow up. “I’ll give you away,” I said.


"I’ll give you away when you’re married."

Thoughts of cast-off toys, abandoned puppies, etc. "I don’t want you to give me away!"

"It’s just a way of saying I’ll provide the transitional act of symbolically reassigning protection to the replacement male."

"Oh." (Pause.) "What’s fabric made out of?"

I explained cotton, which was grown in the dirt, and synthetics, which come from liquid dinosaurs. Our word for the day was “petroleum.” And then we were at school.

Off to work, where I didn’t. Much. Had some drive-by meetings and confabs, talked movies with a colleague who has the TV beat, sees a hundred movies a day, and never lets his critical faculties stand in the way of actually enjoying something. I pity those who cannot wallow in dreck without poking their thigh with a pin every five minutes to remind themselves that they’re only enjoying this ironically. If I had control of a cable channel, I’d put out “Half an Hour theater,” which would just show the start of movies. Even bad movies are worth watching for ten, fifteen minutes, if only to see why it’s bad and how it gets worse. I watched a few minutes of a typical Toho monster movie the other day: krep. Most Godzilla movies are just pacifiers for stoners.

Checked the web. This Bleat is disappointed that Dave Barry’s blog – as well as Gene Weingarten’s gutbustingly good column (no link, killed cookies, forgot registration password, I suq at the intraweb) – has remained curiously silent about this. As far as I know. What will it take to get his attention? The Bøøger stacking chair system? (h/t Fark, of course.)

(That paragraph would have made no sense to me 20 years ago. I can only hope I write something in 20 years that will be equally mysterious.)

Left. Got in the car; the radio and heater were going full blast when I turned the key. The latter was loud and the former was cold. I enjoy listening to my local Hugh Hewitt affiliate, because one of their sponsors is a store catering to shootists, and the ad offers “machine gun rentals.” Not that I would rent one – if ever I should have the need, I’d hire someone. But it just gives me a warm little feeling to think of someone deciding to move the dial from the amniotic slosh of NPR, turning over to one of those talk radio stations, and the first ad offers machine gun rentals. Stereotype confirmed! All ye need to know! Run away!

That said – and this is local stuff, I know, and apologize – the station has new promos that add dinosaur sound effects. It’s supposed to be awesome and powerful, but guys: the first one sounds like a brontosaurus who has just finished an unusually satisfying bowel movement, and the second sounds like a pterodactyl that landed on a cold flag pole. And slipped. Please. Stop.

Anyway, Hugh is having a Photoshop contest for his new book. (Rather Generalissimo, his producer, is having the contest; Hugh’s preferred method of putting pictures up on his website no doubt consists of taping them to the monitor face in, so we all can see them.)

I have posted a few entries here, but I felt the need to kick it up a notch, as that horrid Emeril fellow used to shout during his brief spasm of ubiquity. So here’s another Photoshop, using the creepy My Size Barbie again. Find the book!

Tech geek thoughts, occasioned by the freezing drive back to Gnat’s school. It was incredibly cold today, but I have a sock to keep my iPod warm. For the first time I truly appreciated the ingenuity of the iPod interface: I could click between songs and pause without taking the thing out of the little wolly bag. You can operate the device even when it’s wearing a sock. Mmm, that’s good Squishy. I can’t tell you how much I want my Apple Phone, now; when I flip it open and see the nice grey Apple logo my life will be complete. It won’t be easier or happier or smarter or sexier, but it will be integrated.) And maybe a little sexier too.) I know I’ll be able to plug it in the cradle, download ringtones from the Apple iTunes store, transfer all my notes, sync it at work via .Mac, see Address Book pictures of contacts show up on the screen when people call, etc. Nothing new or earthshattering, but there’s all this phone stuff I don’t bother with now because it’s just a pain to do, or I don’t have the time to figure it out. With Apple it’s figured out in advance.

And yes, you have to do it the way they’ve decided it should be done, but damn if they’re not generally right. (Of the Quicktime thumbwheel we will not speak.) Right now my phone is just a phone. Small and useful, but loaded with features I don’t care to explore. There’s a button that says “Get it Now!” for example, and my general reaction is “no.” I don’t know what I’m supposed to get. Something on the internet, which means it will cost me money – did I check the billing plan to see what it would cost to get it, whatever it is, now? No. Whereas I’m certain that a basic ringtone from iTunes > iPhone Store would have a set price; push this button and I pay 59 cents, period. AND I could probably import it into iChat, so all calls, be they IM, video chat invites or email or voice, are announced with the same sound. If I want.

How about integrating the iPhone into the .Mac concept, so I can route recorded calls to a holding pen at my personal web storage site? Whoa! I cannot wait to buy one!

Or for there to be any substantial reason to believe they’re really going to make one!

I know, I know. I’ve heard the rumors. We’ll see.

Whoa – late. Back to work. There’s a Backfence, and a matchbook. After this week I won’t announce the new matchbooks – just assume it’s a M-F thing. See you tomorrow.