High eighties, no breeze: off to the lake again. This time we went to the south beach, which has more Moms and kids. Also more nannies. You can spot the nannies if you listen, because they talk to the kids less. If at all. The new moms ushering their firstborn into the waves bend over and keep up a constant stream of patter; the nannies watch from a distance with guarded eyes that nonetheless lack that hawklike instinct; the moms who’ve been through this before stand on the sand and watch, but they’re at ease. As much as possible, anyway.

We build a gigantic sand castle, with all the requisite inlets and moats and estuaries; half the beach had been terraformed by little hands, each structure abandoned by some and claimed by others. Kids never learn the lessons of sand castles, which is just as well. The towers fall, the rivers silt, the bridges crumble. All things shaped by the hand of men eventually fall, often by the feet of four year olds making Godzilla sounds. (Pictures to follow; links at the bottom o’ the Bleat.)

We drove home with the windows down and the music blasting: a “Princess and the Pauper” song for her, “Time is Tight” afterwards. How come we have to listen to your song?

Because it is sheer perfection, honey. It’s not just the drums, although they’re perfect; it’s not just the spare guitar line played with an unerringly sublime ration of both chunk and funk, and it’s not the organ. It is all these things together as Booker T meant them to be.

We got home before the tune ended, so we just danced in the garage. Mindful of public aesthetics and my reputation, I put the garage door down first. We’ve been doing a lot of that lately. Yesterday my wife was home late from work, and I had the classical station on, so Gnat and I ate our meal while acting out the Carmen suite by Bizet. (One of those pieces of music you don’t make a point of listening to, because it’s a warhorse, a traditional favorite, the Stairway to Heaven of the classical stations – but when you haven’t heard it in a while it’s all new and fresh and remarkable, again.

Then again, every bloody time I refresh my Shuffle from my iTunes playlist – which has over 10,000 songs – it finds something from the “You Only Live Twice” soundtrack. Every time. And that’s fine with me, too.

I’d put this in the Screedblog, but it’s not really apt. Has to do with learning that Kerry had crappy grades in college. Big whup. One of the things I’ve let go in the last few years is the belief that college grades are an accurate predictor of intelligence. (I’m sure it would horrify some of my more . . . vociferous emailers to learn I got great grades in my three-semester European Diplomatic History course.) Put it this way: if you get good grades in college, you’re probably not unsmart. (I also excelled in English.) I did well in Art History, my minor; I had teachers and courses that rewarded passionate essays full of doubleplus bellyfeel. I suq’d the hindmost teat in the sciences. I like science – I was a total chemistry set geek as a child – but my essential impatience swamped that inclination, and I really do lack the temperament for mastering that amount of details. Geometry, algebra – they irritate me. I was not an indifferent college student, but college did not seem to be pointing me where I wanted to be. Until I found the newspaper, and that was the end of that.

I attended the U of M for seven years. And I don’t have a degree. I have no shame about that, and admit it freely; am I dumber than someone who was in and out in four? I spent one glorious year taking three classes that lasted all year long – Art history, Russian lit, and European history. They led to nothing in the professional sense, and did combine like Transformer Credits to turn into a sheepskin, but I wouldn’t trade that year for anything. When I finally left college I took a job as a convenience store clerk, which is just what my English degree would have prepared me for anyway. But. I had clips. Damn, I had clips. I had written about 100 pieces, and I had an audience and a name, however lower-case and minor it might have been. But when you want to be a writer, that matters more than a Masters in Fiction.

So Kerry’s poor scores mean nothing to me. College is an interesting fiction; it’s become the modern monastery that confers Holiness merely by virtue of tenancy in its ivy-slathered walls for a certain period of time.

But it’s still worth it, depending on what you want to do. For oh so many reasons. I’m reading “The Last Good Time,” a book my editor at Crown gave me. Did squat in the market, alas, but that’s not unusual. It’s the story of Skinny D’Amato, who ran a club in Atlantic City in the 50s. Makes the Vegas Rat Pack stories look like an old ladies’ crochet club in Peoria. Crisply written, with obvious love and rue for the old days. The first third details the history of Atlantic City, and you can smell the sea. The second third brings us the post-war era, complete with Martin and Lewis, who got their big break at Skinny’s club. Point is: the talent didn’t have a college degree, but they had talent. The mobsters and grifters and roués of the demimonde didn’t have a college degree; they had money and juice. But both came up against the college boys – the government men, the tax lawyers, the accountants. The best stories always end in jail and shuttered doors, and the men who turn the keys always die in bed. And their obituaries describe their degrees.

He said, typing without thinking. Whatever. I’m not even sure why I’m writing this. I have no idea if this will be up tomorrow – although if you’re reading it, obviously my internet connection returned for a few precious seconds. The modem turns itself off and on. CLICK. (Hence the sole update to the Screedblog today.) I called Earthlink, was duly transferred to India, and went through the usual routine: yes, the computer is plugged in. No, I have not dunked the modem in a vat of water. Yes, I understand that you do not support my Airport Extreme, and that would be germane if said unit was causing the problem. Yes, I have reset the modem and unplugged the power and waited fifteen seconds and sent a monkey up to yank the powerline from the house, and sent up another monkey to reattach it. No, he was not deterred by the charred corpse of his brother twitching on the lawn. Yes, the problem persisted. BECAUSE IT’S THE MODEM.

Or the heat. I can’t say; it’s warm enough to make my Mac’s fans run loud. And by “loud” I mean I can hear them. They sound like normal computer fans, which is disconcerting given the general level of silence I’m used to. But I don’t think that’s the case. I think the modem is wonky. They’re willing to sell me a new one: a refurbished modem for $40, or a new one for $49. Sigh. Fine; the new one, then.

“Shipping and handling will be $19.95,” he said.

“What? No. That’s ridiculous. I mean, the thing weighs less than a pack of cigarettes; why should it cost 20 dollars to ship?”

“Nineteen ninety-five,” he said.

“Fine, nineteen ninety-five. That’s just robbery. I’ll buy my own.”

“I am very sorry.”

“Don’t be; you didn’t set the prices. Thank you for your time, and have a good day.”

Everything doesn’t work. I tell you, it’s hell. The modem is shot, the old monitor I’m using is blinking short-short-long to indicate an imminent backlight failure (the new monitor is in the shop) and I can’t use my HTML software on the laptop because I lost the original activation code I got, oh, five years ago. I’ve been using upgrades ever since. No idea what the original code is. I downloaded a trial version of GoLive CS, and discovered that control –N, the handy command for new page, now puts up a menu that asks if I want to make a new page, a new site, a new style sheet, a new car, etc. Makes sense. Most people want to create a new site far more often than a new page. Might as well make Control-S “Shred” the document instead of save it. Control-C should Convert to Chinese instead of copy. I tell you, there are peculiarities and brain-boiling nonsensical nonintuitive shite in Adobe products that would drive me daft if I had to use them for a living.

Instead of a hobby. A joyful, merry, devil-may-care hobby. Oh, Photoshop Elements team: nice work removing the undo icon from the layer styles menu. Because no one ever wants to go back 47 steps later and undo a bevel, do they. Ever.


Anyway. Life is good. Proof is here.

Perm link: here. And the crusty dull predicatable hypermoronical Screedblog IS updated daily, at the very least. If you like Howard Dean, however, you might well give it a pass. Just so we're clear. Friends? Friends.

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