Afternoon. Southdale Dunn Bros. I suppose I should be exhausted, but I’m not, and that’s good; if I should ever find myself required to do a 63” piece nightly, it’s nice to know I have it in me. I’m not elated or relieved or anything other than mildly blue. Wasn’t particularly happy with the end result, and today has no end: after I pick up Gnat from class, we have Chuck E. Cheese’s and a trip to the mall while my wife has Bunco at home. Which is fun! Fine! Great! But then after everyone goes home I have to write a column, and that is feeling increasingly like a pointless gesture.

One of the more common objections to something I wrote the other day: the attack on the 60s has been made before, and also applied to instances where it really isn’t relevant, therefore attacks on “the 60s” are tiresome and useless. Okay. Well, since there obviously weren’t any ideas and cultural changes that came about in the 60s that had anything close to a less that delicious result, let’s blame it all on fluoride. But I still don’t understand how a critique of a certain set of ideas is somehow interpreted as an attack on every idea on the left. Oh, so you don’t like changes in welfare policy that deemphasized an implied preference for marriage; I suppose you don’t like child labor laws, either. Yes. Of course that’s exactly what I mean. In fact all change is bad and I wish we would go back to the 14th century, because I prefer the subjugation of everyone to serve a narrow elite. You nailed me.

And might I add that any insinuation that fine art has been in a bit of a decline is pure nonsense. Obviously. Obviously.

For that matter, who says it has to be “fine”? Who are you to judge?

I’m going to use that one a lot.

I put up the Newhouse column on Tancredo in the Screedblog, if you’re curious. Now I can get testy mail from people who think it’s a good idea to nuke Mecca. Variety, spice of life, etc.

Home Office, 11:07 PM Back from the night’s errands, and in a much better mood. Chuck E. was fun: I got high score on the SkeeBall, earning me 65 tickets. The lane next to me suffered some sort of malfunction and spit out an entire drum of tickets – a fellow stood there talking on his cell phone, piling the tickets up, the very image of a Bad Example To His Kids. At least he would be if he took the tickets and exchanged them for goods; since he had about 8000 tickets, he could have gotten half an Barbie doll leg for that amount of loot. Since this was the night I do the Hewitt show, I had to do the trained-seal act for America on a cell phone, shouting over the din. (In case the connection was spotty, the first words I said were “From hell’s heart I stab at thee.”) This is my life: sitting in the Photo booth with Gnat, on hold, waiting to go on the radio at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

And it’s a good life.

While she ate her pizza I eyed the Tornado game; it’s a light that travels around a circular array of bulbs. You whap the stopper in the hopes of trapping the light ‘twixt the goalposts, thereby winning the jackpot. It’s cumulative, and since the game is rather hard and very sneaky – you always stop one short or one beyond – people keep feeding tokens into the thing in the hopes of getting the payoff. This is the concept that leads directly to 60-story hotel rooms in Nevada desert towns. But I eyed the machine from across the room, and saw the jackpot total: 200.

“I’m going to get you 200 points,” I said to Gnat.

“Okay, dad.”

I fed it one token. One short. I fed it another. One beyond. I fed it another – and then I realized my mistake. I had been watching the light. I had tried to time my attack, when of course there’s latency between the optic nerve and the hand. Let go, Luke. Use the force.

I looked up, saw the traveling light in my peripheral vision; I let it go once, twice, three times. Now.

Jackpot. JACKPOT.

I came back to the table with 200 coupons. I looked around for cell-phone skee-ball guy, so I could walk up to him and wave the stack and say I came by these honestly, sirrah, and sweet is the taste! May your fortune fill your mouth wish ash. Ash, and sin. But he had left. Or he was in the can.

We went out to the lake (the Chuck E. Fargin’ is by a man-made lake that winds through a commercial and residential development, not quite New Urbanist but close enough. a 360 panorama is here; scroll down to "Centennial Lakes Park") and watched the RC boats, the ducks, the families. A Somali family, an Indian family, a couple speaking Russian: ah, the stifling conformity of the suburbs. One old woman sitting alone on a park bench, looking around with eyes that seemed to see little and engage in less. I’m kicking myself now for not sending Gnat over with a Chuck E token or two. It would have been a sweet thing to do, but it didn’t occur to me at the time; all I could summon was a smile and a nod. Maybe she was one of those mean old ladies who would snap at a kid and say now what would I do with this silly thing. Run away. But I don’t think so. Mean old ladies of that sort, the kind who wore long black frocks and peered down long thin beaks with beady eyes, are fewer in number these days. In any case, Gnat was distracted by a fish that a boy caught, and she watched with fascination as it flopped on the quay.

“I can’t believe I saw a jumping fish,” she said on the way back to the car. “That really makes my day.”

Did I mention that the other day I asked her who the first president of the United States was, and she said “George W. Bushington”? God, I love that kid.

We killed some time at Southdale. The Apple store was packed – Thursday night. 8:15 PM. One of the geniuses told me they’d been having off-the-charts sales. Interesting. Then we wandered around, I picked up some shirts, and we were ready to go –

“Daddy, I have to use the bathroom.”

Hmm. Well, I knew there was a head at the Gap Kids store, so we headed back. (I’d bought something there a half-hour before, so I felt entitled to request the use of the plumbing.) As we ran down the mall the stores started closing their doors, which Gnat had never seen –as far as she knows, they’re eternal operations – and we made it just as the Gap employee unhooked the front door.

When Gnat washed her hands she gave a yelp: hot hot hot hot hot! Sure enough, the water was steaming, as if they were sterilizing autoclaves in there. I noticed that the sink was hooked up to a water-pressure booster / heating unit; Gnat squatted down, peered at the pictograph on the side: a picture of a faucet, red lines, hands under the water. CAUTION CUIDADO!

“Oh, well,” she said. “See Daddy? They told us and we didn’t listen.”

And her mom’s a lawyer, too. Which says something about both of them. Never been prouder.

Came home to a house full of dames in full hen-fest mode; put Gnat in the shower, banged out a column, read her a story, then did this. And now I am done and ready to relax; almost 12, and the party’s still going on. I suppose I’ll put on the Shuffle and start cleaning. A neat house is a happy house. Have a fine weekend; see you Monday.


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