Ah, Fall

The year before a mid-term election is the nadir of the political cycle. I’d be worried if I hung on every syllable uttered on talk radio about Harriet Miers or P(F)lamegate or the Titanic Texas Struggles of Tom Delay. When the world drapes itself in such gorgeous colors, turns up the sun and draws the afternoon out like a long low viola note, it’s a message: pay attention. I find myself driving around listening to music instead of chatter, rolling down the windows as I wind around the serpentine parkway, letting great airy clouds of Eno float out in my wake. And it’s a relief, really. The whole Miers affair is like watching a two-headed octopus chew its legs off. Fine. I’ll be over here. See you in 06.

Today? Not much. Merry morning with Gnat; I bought a box of Frankenberry (“The Cereal Made from Dead Graveyard Parts!”) to kick off the Halloween Fortnight. The season is long and I don’t want to spoil it; decorations go up next week. This week we introduce Spooky things, incrementally. I hadn’t confronted Frankenberry since I was a kid; apparently they’ve boosted the Berry quotient, because I could smell the chemicals from across the room.

“It’s like a bowl of blood,” she said after the milk hit the cereal. “And these are noses.”

“They’re Frankenberry heads, hon,” I explained.

“It looks like noses in blood, dad.”

She had a point. Jasper ate the leftovers after I drained the milk. After lunch she got on the bus and I went to work; wrote a column in the second-floor coffee shop. The Strib has a cafeteria upstairs where you can get a full meal, any number of ice cream novelties, and coffee that comes from a spout in the wall. I’ve always loved Wall Coffee, but the second-floor coffee shop is my favorite office haunt, and it’s where I do most of my work. The guy who makes the coffee is a fine fellow – garrulous, irreverent, always ready for a chat if you’re in the mood, circumspect if you’re tight and preoccupied. He’s as close as we come to the Office Bartender. (Of course, that position never existed; pity.) He’s also the Court Jester; high or low, they get the guff. He listens to the radio stations no one else in the newsroom listens to; he reads nonfiction books when the traffic ebbs, he takes the bus. Football fan, but don’t get him started. He’s the readership. All the money they spent on focus groups to test the redesign! Hell, ask Jim.

Picked up Gnat, went to the grocery store. There was a all grizzled man in cowboy hat demonstrating a new variety of hamburger. I’d tried some before. In fact he remembered me: you must come here every Monday! He said. “Every day,” I said. “Ho ho,” he grinned. “You must be a Yuropean.”

“Them’s fightin’ words, ponder,” I said.

“I didn’t call you no Frenchman,” he said. “Have some steak.”

Gnat took a piece of hamburger, and nibbled it; she made a face. “Daddy I don’t like it,” she said. I told her she could throw it in the basket. She tried the steak and made a stricken face. I found it tender, and asked where the items were in the meat case. He walked over and showed me. As he described the varieties, the horrible aftertaste of the meat came back on me; apparently steroids, animal feed and antibiotics impart a succulent flavor, because this stuff lacked all those poisons and it tasted like a sofa cushion soaked in bouillon and left on the porch on an August afternoon. You could almost hear the blowflies buzzing. I lingered in the area making serious meat-considering faces until he left. Then we left as fast as possible. I feared he might rope me like a doggie and shout meat-related insults: hey you daily-shoppin’ Pierre! C’mon and gitcher butt roast, ya medrasegsle!

Highlight of the day. Went home, made spaghet, walked the dog, passed my city councilman who was out passing out literature – whatever his phermonal profile might be, it made Jasper stop squat and excrete on the spot – and then I watched Crime Story while working on this and that. Wrote the Newhouse column. Now this. Now I have to finish Newhouse and the Strib column and upload this, but first! Some links.

Here’s my next car.

"Who does not now cringe when Kramer opens the door on reruns?"

Agreed. While I don’t think this will cause Larry David to rethink his work, I imagine the article might feel like a nettle in his squishy orthopedic inserts. Doesn’t matter how many tens of millions you have – all it takes is one article that whispers the truths you hear yourself at night when everyone else has gone to bed, and you’re peeved and annoyed for a day. Or two. Or a week. Hey, let’s go to Aruba. Get away. But the article follows you. It helps that it’s written by “The Edgy Enthusiast,” which is just the sort of name Larry would choose for a pestering hack . . . but he’s not a hack, is he? And the ending: wince.

I don’t agree entirely with Rosenbaum’s points; I thought the second show was hilarious, a Triumphant Return to Form, because it had that neat circular logic the show uses to clever effect. But the third episode, while funny, showed that David picks and chooses the targets for his withering what-me-worry ridicule; his comments about Islam in the second episode are rather banal, but his remarks on Christianity – delivered with indifferent glee, without provocation, to a family member – are full of ridicule. One suspects he wouldn’t dare go off on Mohammed. For any number of reasons. But the season is young.

Let us imagine the hue and/or cry of a women’s room whose stall doors had pictures of men pointing and laughing, holding up d-cup bras, looking disappointed. Most women would probably find it annoying, just like most men find this meaningless and funny, the way many things are, you know, meaninglessly funny. Like someone throwing a football and hitting a squirrel in the crotch: meaningless, but funny. There will always be men who complain about these things, however. Just so you know: I’m not one of them.

Before we had Gnat, poor Jasper was our child surrogate. But I never insisted that my wife call me “daddy,” and we did not call him our “Fur Child” or “Canine Toddler” or “Son Who Is Entirely Human Except For Being Covered With Hair and Having a Disgusting Wet Penis That Looks Like a Fevered Eel And Deploys When You Bring Out Steak” or any other cloying name. But one Halloween I dressed him up in a bomber jacket. Once. Just once. He looked so miserable I took it off right away. Well, after I took pictures. That was wrong, but understandable.

This, however, is just pathetic.

On the other hand: yes. And yes. The most holy Boomerang.