Viking Liquors, West Bank

Upscale grocery store parking lot. A W sticker here, a Kerry-Edwards sticker there. (And there. And there. And there.) But nothing long-winded. None of those “It will be a great day when schools have all the money they need and the Pentagon needs to hold a bake sale to raise funds to accommodate federal mandates on mainstreaming ESL or non-native speaker / learning disabled students in line with ’06 budgetary projections [assuming no adjustment in property taxes aside from inflation and/or changes in assessed values due to inspections or fluctuations in market conditions.]” That one actually decreases your gas mileage, it’s so big. But not in this parking lot. If people have something to say, they figure the nameplate says it all, be it Prius or Cayenne. But I saw one that stuck out. Not because of the sentiment; I’d heard it elsewhere, last year:

“We apologize to the world for electing an idiot for President.

I did not vote for him.”

What made this one stick out, I think, was this: it was in French. I know the feeling of being tailgated by someone gesticulating angrily, and you suspect he might be a French person angry about the long-term structural problems of the prescription drug benefit – how do you assuage his aggravated breast?

Usually a gesture suffices, but you never know. I guess that’s where the sticker comes in handy. Better safe than sorry, some say - but why not be both?.

Got a lot done this weekend. Saturday was warm, again – cloudy, windy, spitty clouds, but warm. I disassembled the gazebo. Chances I will get it up in the same condition next spring: pretty good, since I bagged all the nuts & bolts & washers, and put the items in separate labeled Ziplocs instead of dumping everything into a common sack. It all fit in the potting shed, including the furniture. The end result was an empty patio, and it looked sad. Bereft. Windswept. Could have doubled as a 1970s civic plaza. I should get a large ugly sculpture and place it in the middle, preferably something rusty and inhumane that symbolizes man’s inhumanity to fellow man. Specifically, the men who must walk across the plaza every day in fear that a sharp wind will throw them against the Art and require a tetanus inoculation.

I put a couple of chairs and a brazier out there. I used the firepit once, and it smelled of some horrible chemical aroma – either the log, which I doubt, or the finish of the brazier, which was applied to the highest standards of China’s famously stricty Anti-Arsenic industrial codes. After I finished that merry job I went to Southdale to see about an Object to place on the living room table. The Object that had once been there was moved upstairs when I started putting out fresh flowers on the living room table. But I stopped putting out fresh flowers. Why? Because the ones in the kitchen died in a state of perfection. A month ago I bought some cattails and brownish-green things at the grocery store, and while they are very, very dead they look great, so there’s no need to buy new flowers. That little habit fell out of the weekly duties. So the living room table is bare. So I went to Southdale. There’s not much available in the way of living-room table Objects, since everything is Holiday themed. I could get a bowl and fill it with potpourri – you know, cones, leaves, twigs, the usual scraps from the abattoir of the forest floor. I almost did. Then I remembered that I had a bowl with cones and leaves and twigs. It was upstairs. I moved it back to its place on the living room table, ending a six-month experiment in living room flower deployment. And thus are the days of our lives spent. Tomorrow: the magazine rack by the rocking chair is moved towards the fireplace by six or seven inches. I’ll keep you posted.

I ordered dinner at Big Bowl – the wait for take-out was nine hours, or something, so I shopped around the Galleria. Went to the furniture store – they were having a sale, imagine that – and took a look at a rug I plan to buy some day. It’s woven by Tibetans. So the info says. Not in Tibet; I think that would violate the standards of many buyers, since Tibet is occupied and you wouldn’t want to help out the Chinese, who are okay and dandy in every respect except for the whole Tibet thing; it’s like their Puerto Rico, you know? But to support Tibetans – well, that gives you the old warm glow right in the ethical plexus. They didn’t have the rug in the size I desired. I was assured that legions of Tibetans were weaving as we spoke, and another would be long soon. Unfortunately the sale would be over. The sale price was FIFTY PERCENT OFF msrp. The “missurp,” of course, is the manufacturer’s recommoned price. The usual price the store offers? Forty percent off. “So you’re saving an extra ten percent,” the salesman explained. I didn’t want to bring it up at the time, because I was nearly falling over from hunger and wasn’t sure I could make the case, but I don’t think that’s so.:

If you always sell a $100 item for $60, and then you sell it for fifty, you’re actually saving more than ten percent. Because ten percent of $60 is six dollars. Ten dollars is, oh, 17.5% or something. But like I said, I hesitated to make the case, because I have these humbling spasms of innumeracy, and tend not to trust numbers at all. Letters, that’s my game.

Over to Pottery Barn. They had moved the sales counter. I had quite a conversation with a clerk about this. We agreed it was for the better.

Got the food, drove home. Spent Saturday night in blissful indolence. The previous night I began a rather large web project: updating the Motel Postcard pages. Who-hoo, you say. Either out of glee or sarcasm. Fine. But it’s one of those things I have to redo, because A) I have about 65 more cards, B) the navigation scheme I used is just totally buttafucoed, with the pages named by the name of the motel: d’oh. This means it’s hard to insert a page between two others without changing links on both sides, and given GoLive’s bratty attitude towards these things, the change may or may not take. (You can type in the change, but if you don’t hit return, forget it.) Also, I am I upgrading big chunks of the site to accommodate today’s larger monitors, which means the old 500 pixel-wide cards will be replaced with new 700-pixel-wide versions, at higher resolutions. Because this is not 1998. The magnitude of the project means I should just start from scratch. Job one: arrange all the cards by state.

I wrote the state abbreviations on PostIt notes, put the notes on the floor, and walked around distributing cards. Gnat came in, eager to help; I put her in charge of AZ and CA. We had a grand time, and I gave her the duplicates – “I can start a collection!” she cried, elated. (They would be forgotten tomorrow.) It took a while, but I arranged them all. Next step: scanning. I am scanning one state a day, and will start to post the results in January, at the pace of one state a week.

Ah, but you say, surely you’re keeping the same interface? The same 50s-fonts and clichéd colors? No. Saturday night I had a nice time sitting before the machinery, watching a movie in the upper window (“Whirlpool,” a late-forties sorta-noir with Gene Tierney; she’s a society klepto who falls under the spell of Miguel Ferrar. One of those movies where married couples express great affection by facing the camera and pressing their cheeks together) while making the new Motel page. The first version was just more of the same. The second version, I think, is nice. Here’s the old page. Here’s the new design. Coming in January.

So that was my weekend. Oh – Friday. Well. I was under the impression I had an interview at 7 AM, so I got up at 6:30 after five hours of sleep. I did not have an interview. So I spent the morning in a fog; I edited and filed two columns, cleaned a lot, and waited for Gnat’s bus to take her off to school so I could nap. Unfortunately, we had some window-washers over, and they took a short lunch. I had slept for 27 minutes when a long horrid squeeeeeek pealed from outside the bedroom window. And that was that. Up; off to school; off to piano, then home for pizza and the dog walk and all the other fascinating endeavors described above.

But of course:
Incidentally, there’s the weekend movies, then there’s the weekend movies. The stuff I watch with one eye I get from Netflix and watch while working; when the weekend worknight’s done I go downstairs and see what delights TiVo has recorded. It chose “Pulse,” one of those Japanese horror films where people are frightened by abrupt editing. Interminable. But the TiVo also served up “Goodfellas,” and that’s still a prime piece of cinema, even though Ray Liotta looks like a dead mime in half the scenes. And as a special bonus: "Blood Simple," albeit the needlessly edited version that takes out the amaaazing revolving newspaper shot. (Why? WHY?) But it remains a near-perfect movie, even thought its supposed Texanite qualities appear to consist of boots and Spanish-language songs on the soundtrack. You could make that movie in North Dakota. You could even call it "Fargo." How I wish they had.

I still have "Seabiscuit" saved for the time when I'm in the mood for a nine-hour feel-good movie about a horse that ended the Depression, but not tonight. Tonight it's "Rome!" After I file this and write two columns, that is. New Matchbook, of cours; this is Monday, after all. See you tomorrow.