This was the best weekend EVER! According to Gnat, who had friends sleep over on Friday, had a sleepover at her Nana’s on Saturday, and managed to wheedle from my wife the acquisition of a key mass-produced item of extruded plastic of Chinese origin she had seen at Target. I won’t argue; it was very good, almost perfect – not despite the grueling miserable heat, either. I like hot weather. I prefer that dry aching baking heat to the torpid sullen soup we have now, but remember: it snowed May First. If the pendulum has to swing the other way as far as it can to make amends, I understand. I sat outside with a vodka – Fris, my new favorite (although the bottle was designed by the inheritors of Carrie Nation’s spirit – it is almost impossible to open, made of some fiendish plastic that contracts to 94% of its original dimensions and forms an Entente Cordial with the grooves of the spout) – and savored the day. We’re at the point where summer seems permanent and strong, almost Roman in its confidence. For such nights ice and spirits were made. (Attention VodkaPundit: this brand's for you.)

Busy night – column due, much commotion around the house. Random notes follow.

Errands: attempted to find a small white shelf for the boiler room, and some 20watt halogen bulbs with the 8.0 base. Failed in both cases. Dealt with it. Moved on.

Bleg: I need this for the Backfence. Cast superhero / comic book movies using old-school movie heroes a la Bogart, John Wayne, etc. You can do it! fence@startribune.com

Peeve: I’m one of those soul-cramped creatures who counts the items in someone’s basket in the 10 items or fewer line. I never go in those lines if I have 11 items. Today I saw a woman bring 16 items. Sixteen. That’s not just running the red light, that’s coming to a full stop and gunning it. Thus is civilization brought low. It’s the small things, you know.

Movies: “All the President’s Men,” which seems a bit overwrought and self-congratulatory to modern eyes. Oh, the portentious moments of Threat and Peril: any car that slows while our heroes are interviewing a lowly cog might be filled with GOP assassins. The one thing that stands out whenever I study Watergate: why on God’s earth would anyone put together an organization called “The Committee to Re-Elect the President,” knowing you’d be CREEP? Why not just name it the Permanent Entity Devoted Overall to Presidential Happinesss In the Life Everlasting?

Beef: Is it time to point out that TiVo’s interface sucks stoat toes? It is. Look, I love TiVo as much as anyone, but by “TiVo” I mean a digital recording device attached to my roof dish. I like the TiVo brand because it has a cute mascot, and there’s something about him that makes you root for the brand. Awww! ReplayTV looked like a bland brand with a boring typeface, and the name was one of the worst choices they could have made. Replay? Makes it sounds as if it only records shows you’ve already seen. You wonder if TiVo knew they’d end up like a generic catch-all like Kleenex, Band-Aid and Xerox; I’m sure that was in the Wildest Dreams Department when they started up, but if they had known it they might have chosen a different name. TiVo isn’t just a noun but a verb, and if it ended with a consonant it would be easier to say in its past tense. “Tivo’d” is a slippery little bolus of a word; Tivoxed would be better, more decisive. No one says “I TiVo’d it.” They say “I Tivo Dit.” Even when I say “Tivo’d” I see the little apostrophe, hanging there like a little roosting bat.

Anyway. The interface is old and needs revision. The way it stacks shows on top of one another rapidly leads to a list ten fathoms deep, and there’s no way to get around it except scroll up and scroll down. Way down. I’d like to be able to create subfolders and categories where I could store things; I’d like ONE BUTTON DELETION, thank you very much, and I’d like an upgrade on the OS so it doesn’t take a minute to change a program’s status to SAVE. Don’t get me started on the “Pick Programs to Record” menu, with its useless subcategories. And for that matter speak NOT to me of its intuitive ability to read my preferences – it will record nearly every single children’s program ever broadcast because I gave Rolie Polie Olie three thumbs up three years ago, but misses the season premier of “Battlestar Galactica” because I didn’t rate it. Even though I had a season pass to the HD version for the last six weeks.

I’d love to see Apple come out with a DVR. (Eyes roll across the land.) Well, no, think of it. Two things would be assured: it would have an interface that looks like iTunes, complete with a little preview window where the album art is now; and within a year all the cool hip audio gear for home theaters would have translucent white cases.

Random link: Darth may be evil and all that, but given the searing pain that accompanied his disfigurement and loss of limbs, I think this is rubbing it in. A bit. Frosted? You bet he was.

Gnat’s note on Sue Storm, gleaned from ads: “she is great fighter because she can turn invisible and sneak up and punch them in the butt.”

Book: “Our Culture, or What’s Left of It” by that eminent delineator of decay, Theo. Dalrymple. Yes, the same guy I talked about last week. He had an essay on the two main dystopian novels of the 20th century, “Brave New World” and “1984.” Pity he didn’t discuss other highlights in the genre, such as “We” or Burgess’ three
examples, “Clockwork Orange,” “The Wanting Seed,” and “1985.” The first we know well, and it’s loved for all the wrong reasons, given the saucy impertinent narrator and his instant skill and drawing you, O his brother, into his confidence. The details never came true, which gives the book a strange parallel-universe quality. Kubrick’s cemented the novel’s look-and-feel (or rather, viddy-and-tolchock) into a certain style that says nothing to us now but “A Clockwork Orange.” Pity. “The Wanting Seed” is less successful but more ambitious, based in the fundamental ideological differences between the conservative and ahistorical political impulses. (He said, confident that meant something.) “1985” is almost never referenced or even read nowadays, partly because one of its premises – England paralyzed by militant trade unions – never happened, and that undercuts the prophetic quality that makes these books work. In “1985” the totalitarian reformation of language is achieved by the false egalitarian tropes of economic forces. Political correctness has a Soviet cast. What happened was something different, of course: the old language of the labor unions was replaced with the multi-culti blatherations of romantic progressivism, until the only thing doubleplus ungood was “judgmentalism.” Unless you were judging the judgmental. In which case, have at it, brother.

Keillor: in which we learn that he farts less than he might. And note how the column ends: it sounds like someone who, having changed the subject to his liking, just gets up and leaves the room.

There follows a strained silence, then someone coughs, says anyway, and they go back to discussing Aunt Blanderson, who has the gout. Or so she says.


(Screedblog resumes Tuesday. RSS feeds soon. Perm link here.)

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