I am all set for the avian flu pandemic. I first heard about this Looming Nightmare a while ago, and had an elemental reaction: I am not going down from chicken grippe and neither are my loved ones. I am all set for the panicked run on drug stores, when everyone finds that the face masks so popular during the SARS epidemic are sold out; I always have enough food and boxed milk to last a while, so we don’t have to have contact with the sniffling hordes of zombies that will stagger through the grocery stores when the epidemic hits. The first case I read about in North America, we’re not going anywhere. I know, I know: an overreaction, probably. But I would hate for the Vatican to reveal the third and horrible apocalyptic secret of Fatima, and learn it consists of “Cluck, Cluck.”

I’m not a big fan of March; it’s a brute of a month, long and raw with a name that sounds like a scrape or abrasion – damn, I marched the hell out of my shin – but I read today that it’ll hit 50 by the end of the month, and 60s are not unheard of. It’s not been a hard winter, but by the end of the month you’re sick of the monochromatic land, the bony trees, the scabs of snow on the boulevard: be gone. Go. Today I was taking Gnat to tumbling class I had my coat open, as usual – has to get into negative numbers to make me bundle up, because I am from North Dakota – and I realized I was just tired of cold air. You never get tired of warm air. You eventually tire of puckered flesh. The first day you can wear shorts you feel as though you have wandered into some general benediction you didn’t request but possibly deserve. I can’t wait.

But I will.

Well. Today. What? Learned how to remove crayon blush from My Size Barbie’s plastic face. Don’t rub; just makes it worse. Daddy can you get it off? Well, let me ask the internet.

Okay, you ask the internet.

I typed "remove crayon" into google.

Are you going to Barbie dot com?

You’d think I would, but I don’t think they’ll be any help.

Why not?

Where to begin. Because Barbie dot com exists to move the innumerable manifestations of the one true Barbie, dear. It does not help you deal with gum in the hair, sundered heads, or any other misfortunes she may suffer. I found a page that advised using lighter fluid, and voila: off it came.

What is that?

Zippo juice.

It's magic!

So it was. And that was my highlight, I suppose. Went to school, went to work, sat at my auxillary office – the window seat in the second-floor café – and wrote for a few hours. Gnat fell asleep on the way home from school, which meant I drove around for an hour listening to old radio shows. This happens once a week. I look forward to it. Another one of those things we share she’ll never remember. After I dropped her off at tumbling I made fish – sounds like a euphemism for some bodily function, doesn’t it? Honey, do you need to make fish before we go? – and listened to a certain radio host, who was talking about the avian flu. I called his producer, shot him a link, and did I get any sort of recognition? HAH! No, it was almost as if the host had found the FT story himself.

Hmmmm. I plot my revenge with cool serene patience. On a related note, I had a brief interview with City Pages today about some fellow’s “Swarm the Strib” website idea, and I said, more or less, that if people start with the idea that the Strib staff wakes up every day and receives instructions from Lenin’s Brain, they will look silly. That’s not how it works. They will eventually betray an unfamiliarity with the way newspapers are assembled that will utterly undermine any credibility they have with the very people they’re attempting to correct. On the other hand, a blog devoted to critiques about stories with an eye towards identifying institutional biases or group-think assumptions that mainstream journalists don’t often see in their work? Sure, why not. And the reporters should blog back, hard. Thousand flowers bloom, etc.

It would be great if every reporter felt free to blog about reader’s complaints, but in the real world: who has time? A guy turns in a story, someone picks up on a turn of phrase that seems to suggest a possibility of a subjective interpretation, and blogs the hell out of it – well, come five PM, most reporters want dinner and a glass of red. I can’t see management telling reporters to cut back on their work for the print side so they can blog during office hours, nor can I see most reporters leaping at the chance to blog in their own defense on their own time. Not necessarily because they don’t want to enter the fray, but because they have other things to do. Like go home.

In the end, the <blank>watch sites peter out and wander off, and the target steams merrily along undeterred. If someone registered, oh, HoundtheHewitt.com to correct the things he says in the Friday afternoon movie segment, it would be fun for a while, but six years from now Hugh will still merrily insist that there’s no discernible difference between the second and third “Alien” movies. In short, blogswarms are good for issues. Bad for institutions.

Worked on the book, which took up most of the night, and which explains why this Bleat is just boring transcription of my ever-fascinating life. Did the middle third of the Diner – I really have to get a new mike; sounds like krep – and now here I am, where I always end: at the kitchen table, winding the day down alone. Not even the dog comes down at night anymore.

Possibly because I now write the last words of the evening while listening to the iPod shuffle, and often get up and dance. That scares him. Hell, I’m so good I scare myself.

Note: some have written to ask where the Joe links went – they’re right below, in the Box O’ Options. New one today. An amusing challenge, this one; a wild card out of nowhere. But that’s why I have a cast of characters. Time for someone new, though. Who it’ll be, I don’t know, but he’ll present himself when the time is right.

Anyway, that’s it for the week – I have hellish playschool duty Friday morning, which means I have to spend tomorrow night on the book and the column. Expect a Diner for Friday. See you then.


perm link: here.

Amazon Honor SystemClick Here to PayLearn More
Coming eventually.

<< Last Month.