Milwaukee Road Depot, Mpls

Why I love the web: you see words in combinations that would have made no sense ten years ago. Like “128 Responses to “Restore your iPod nano to new condition with a $4 can of Brasso.

I’m going to try it, since my Nano got a cloudy patch on the screen right away. I don’t know why - could have been rubbing against my shirt pocket for a day, could have been sitting in my sweatpants pocket night after night, or it could have been that time when I was hauling the garbage down the stairs, the bag broke and dumped 20 pounds of smelly waste on the steps, and when I leaned over the Nano fell into a pile of coffee grounds. Damn Apple quality control.

Why I also love the web: photos of the marchers at the SF Anti-War rally. It’s interesting to look at people who share an entirely different set of predicates. I especially enjoy the picture accusing POTUS of being a psychotic murderer, given that an ACTUAL psychotic murderer seems to be following he woman with the sign. He has that Ditko-peak in his hair, too – the sort of thing Ditko gave Harry Osbourne. You know what bugs me about Shepherd Smith? He looks like a Ditko drawing.

I have the feeling I mentioned that last week. Possible. So stone me. By Thursday my brain enters a mobius loop. Today I had a moment where the dog was barking at the contractors, Gnat was yelling about something just as her play-date friend came over, which triggered more pack-in-peril barking – and all the while I’m on the phone with my publicist talking about my upcoming radio tour, where I will spend a week going from one show after the other discussing a book I’ve already forgotten. Calamity yes, but happy calamity. What’s the alternative? No dog no kid no book no water feature, just sitting cross-legged in a flax-spun robe studying a beetle, and finding his trials analogous to my own? Which would consist of noting how cold my arse felt?

I am coming to realize this: of the 10,000 tunes I have in iTunes, I don’t like about 7,000 of them. Or I am indifferent. But I can’t get rid of them because I might need them. Or come to like them. I did, however, get rid of all the 30s European swing I somehow picked up, because that stuff creeps me out. Most of the music is by The Ramblers, a Dutch group that played nice with the Nazzis (as Churchill would have said; I always find that pronunciation jarring) but ended up in a concentration camp anyway. But it must have been one of those Stalag 13 B-grade camps, because according to a review of a Ramblers compilation, “they managed to escape.” Man, there’s a story: an entire band gets set to the camp, and escapes en masse, preferably in costume. It’s The Beatles Meet the Killing Fields! Or not: this page says the band’s darkest moment was when it kicked out the Jewish members in 41. Otherwise, bier und skittles:

Several times Masman was reprimanded by the authorities for playing jazz-inflected music (eg. the extended feature for drummer Kees Kranenburg "Triple Sec") but he always managed to avoid getting into any serious trouble and the band continued recording and touring Holland and Belgium throughout the war.

So I don’t know what to believe. The article notes that the band faced some hostility after the war because they’d worked for Churman probaganda, but that “opinions soon changed” and all was forgiven. Here’s a Ramblers tune – rather flavorless swing, and there’s something missing; it’s the difference between watching a beautiful woman disrobe, and watching her reflection in a mirror. The tune, Gott help me, is called “Bouncin’ in Bavaria.” It’s like learning there was a song called “Berlin, Berlin”

Das kleine burg boots
Are longing to win
The right to earn Der Furher’s love
Berlin, Berlin!

(Don’t email me corrections. I don’t know any German, obviously.)

Today Gnat had a play-date with a friend given to mischeivous fabulations. She convinced Gnat that the house had a China Bug, responsible for various indentations in the wall and woodwork. The China Bug also ate children. I was called upstairs a few times to look for said bug, but it never showed itself. Gnat was concerned enough to ask me if they were real, and what could I say? Your friend’s a bald-faced liar, kid, get used to it. No, diplomacy was required.

“Well, there are bugs in China. And they would be called China Bugs. But they don’t eat little girls and we don’t have any bugs in the house.”

This was not enough. “Go look at china bugs dot com” she begged, so I sat down at her computer, dismissed the My Little Pony flash game she’d been playing (note to Hasbro: consider a limitation on the number of MLPs a player can place in the meadow; after 60 or so, the system tends to chug) and wrote “china bugs” in the Google pane. I turned the screen away, because although I’m sure I clicked “safe search” in the prefs, you never know, and the ornate & baroque nature of internet pron is such that “Nixon’s tinfoil weevil” probably brings up some horrid “Real Teen” site replete with blank-faced 30-year old Czech doxies showing things you usually don’t see unless you’ve spent eight years in med school or two weeks in a morgue. But only bugs came up. Nice bugs.

It reminded me of a documentary I’d seen the night before: Insectia, or, a look at how insects unaccountably come up with ways of confounding predators, narrated by a goofy likeable Frenchmen obviously angling to be the Gallic version of that crocodile guy. The subject of camouflage in the insect world fascinates me. In evolutionary terms, it’s one of those deep-time issues – I suppose that if you have 500 million years to work with, you’ll come up with insects whose wings look like eyeballs, fish that look like the bottom of the sea, toads that spray pheromones that make the predator think it’s actually Tara Reid's stippled fundament, etc. But that’s not satisfying to me. I don’t believe God steps in and designs butterflies individually any more than Gaia spontaneously manifests these things as a result of her innate if regrettable non-self-aware intelligence.

But it’s one of those things that makes you realize again: there are rules to how it all works. Precepts. That's obvious; the how and why is more obscure, if you want. Sometimes it seems that the likelihood of these rules arriving spontaneously of their own accord is as likely as electrifying a pool rich with amino acids and expecting, 2 billion years later, to find the Congressional Digest sitting on the shore. All volumes. Arranged by date.

Anyway, we decided there weren’t China Bugs in the house. The friend went home, and I went to Gnat’s school for the parent-teacher conference. Bottom line: smart kid. Even better: good kid.

Which reminds me: here’s the picture hanging in the school hall. All the kids were asked to decorate their names. She drew Daddy, Mommy and Herself in the school, and took a decidedly proto-renaissance approach to the playground, placing it in the same plane as the school but smaller in size to indicate distance.

And now I’m done for the week, word-wise – except for all the stuff I have to write tomorrow, but that’s non-immediate-deadline material, which can only mean one thing: Friday! Which means Pizza and a movie and a single malt and a cigar the size of a Saturn V booster. Have a fine weekend, and I’ll see you Monday morning.

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