Hello! I’m at the office again, looking out the window, searching for something new. Of course, the configuration of cars in the lot across the street is new; it changes daily, and that counts for something. If they replayed the universe from the moment the dense hot dot wriggled its way into our dimension, thought in principium erat verbum etc. let’s go, exploded and expanded and cooled and congealed and turned photons into gloomy bipeds with brogans and briefcases, there’s no guarantee the cars in the lot would have the exact same arrangememt they had on the penultimate Monday of 2005. It’s a miracle!

The American Trio condo project isn’t occupied yet, but in a few months I expect to see people standing at the window of their 1.2 million loft, looking down on the parking lot from a different angle, and running through the list of reasons it was a good idea to drop a million dollars on this particular space. Right! View of the Strib. I could understand that if we had the old sign, bless its garish boastful heart –

- but even from the condos you’d just see the back of the sign. Other than that, everything’s the same. The bricks of the Advance-Thresher Building (“Threshing Advances Since 1903”) glows with the setting sun- it would be seven o’clock sun in the heart of June. Now it’s two o-clock sun. Fitzgerald never talked about the dark three o-clock in the afternoon of the soul, which is odd, since he’s from these parts. There’s probably a tour built around his old haunts, including permanent spray paint around an irregular spot where he threw up a gutload of Hamm’s. (He was a beer drunk towards the end in his LA days, which is somehow less glamorously self-destructive than whiskey, the Tragic Writer’s choice of weapon, or Vodka, “For When Flavor Somehow Gets In the Way.”)

Ah: I can see part of the Guthrie parking ramp. That’s new. They’ve covered it with blue panels, just like the theater itself. I can also see the smokestack that tops the Guthrie – it’s probably faux, an artistic affectation whose purpose eludes us all. But it’s there for a reason! Makes the entire complex look like a suburban waste-disposal facility; perhaps unused playbills and headshots are trucked in from a six-state area, incinerated at the Guthrie, and converted into electricity.

Woke with the usual sinus misery. I have a cold that comes at night, bedevils my nose, then slinks away. Probably the dryness of the house – Gnat has the same problem. It did not keep her from waking early to talk about Pizza Lunch, an innovation in mid-day meals she has hotly anticipated since I mentioned it last night. I bought bagels, a squeeze bottle of pizza sauce, low-fat mozz and some turkey pepperoni. She assembled the ingredients. For once, hallelujah, she ate everything. Lunch is usually a time of failure – soup, barfaroni, bologna, nothing works. Not even peanut butter and honey. But we’re onto something with Pizza Lunch, and I can introduce various vegetables for variety’s sake. Provided I use those tools molecular biologists employ to split off micro-thin pieces. In any case, she went to school well fed for once, and will have the necessary strength for the Spanish class play, which I will be attending in an hour or so. More later.


Ladies and Gentlemen: Miss Shirley Bassey.

Dumm-dum (wa wah wah wah wah!) DUMM-DUM (wa wah wah wah wah)

Dissssk failure!
It’s the thing, the thing that you oft denied
And now you cry
(da da-da, da da)

Such a bliss nailer
(wa wah wah wah wah!)
B-tree’s hosed, directory’s naught but hash
Magnetic rash

How you shrugged at the long access time
How you thought “disk’s just full, all is fine”
Now you know you’ve many bad sectors -
Killed your data like Mister Lecter, that’s the

(wa wah wah wah wah!)
Sys admin, you’d better begin to pray
Last backup: May!

Actually, the last backup was three weeks ago, and the disk that failed is just a backup for cast-off stuff I might need. Still, it’s painful; the directories are so crippled that it takes five minutes to read the contents of a 2MB folder – and that’s after Disk Warrior rebuilt the directory. (It instantly re-corrupts, too.) So I’m saving what I can, then it’s nuke and pave.

It’s not been a good week for storage peripherals, and I do not say that lightly. A few days ago I bumped my leg against a USB memory stick stuck in the front of the G5, and discovered that when struck with sufficient force it devolves into three pieces. I put it back together, but as Stephen King noted in “Pet Cemetary,” sometimes dead is better. (Or bettah, if you want the Fred Gwynne pronunciation. Ayuh.) It needs jiggling before it connects, and I trust nothing that needs jiggling. A rather general rule but it has served me well. So tonight at the Boring Office Stuff Store, as I described it to Gnat, I looked for a replacement for the 128MB flash memory USB stick. I had cost $50 or so at Target a year ago. Now the 256 MB sticks were $60. The 1 GB sticks were $99. On the other hand, Seagate had a tiny little FIVE gig drive for $89. Well, that settles that.

“Seagate,” the young clerk said when he rung it up. “It’s a new company but I hear good things about them.”

I scanned him for prevarication; no signs. “Actually, they’ve been around for a long, long time.”

“Really? Cool. Well, we just started carrying them.”

I figure he was about zygote-status when I got my first computer. For him, “retro” is a Bondi-blue iMac.

Bondi Blue: the official color of the world before 9/11.

The school play was long, amateurish, performed in all available keys, and delightful. It must be amusing to the kids to see twenty parents in the kiddy chairs, knees up to their ears. Gnat’s performance as the Spanish Giraffe Who Was Not the Spanish Bunny’s Mom was, I think, a worthy contender for a Tony; she did not so much exhibit the elongated neck as subtly suggest it, and while we all can agree that Glenn Close’s performance of the role in the 1987 revival defined the character for a generation, Gnat truly brought a new spirit to the part. Afterwards I drove around for a while so she could nap. Had the heater blowing hot on my face, as I prefer – but the end result as ever was sleepiness and numb feet, and I did not regain feeling and color to my nether digits until I’d been home for 40 minutes.

A GREAT holiday gift:
Made supper; skipped the dog walk, dealt with the drive, wrote the Newhouse column. Preview:

Setting: the office of B., a Hollywood producer. A writer we shall call “K” enters.

B: Loved the script. Powerful. Timely. I know your agent has gone over the changes – we swapped out the Muslim terrorists for Mormon Nazis, and instead of trying to set off a nuke in New York they’re to assassinate a new Supreme Court nominee who’s pro-choice. Streisand is totally on board for the role and everyone smells Oscar. Anyway. There’s this scene here at the Department of Central Security – is that real?

K: It’s a composite.

B: Right, right, super-secret stuff. I see lots of monitors on the walls and dim lighting and James Earl Jones grabbing phones and barking stuff like “Get me our man in Beirut,” right? Except in this case it would be, I don’t know, Beirutah, ‘cause they’re Mormons. Hah! Work that in. Anyway. It’s on page 35. The hero – we changed the ex-SpecOps guy to a transsexual Navy sniper who got discharged after she came out, has a daughter who’s pregnant from a rape by a GI who came back from Iraq all bent, that’s the backstory. Anyway. She’s watching this board where they track outgoing calls, catches a call going from a terrorist in Washington to a terrorist cell in Hamburg, and she picks up and listens. Now. I have the highest respect for your talent, but, uh, don’t you think this is a little far fetched?

K: Which part?

B: You expect audiences to accept they’ll just tap a call without a court order? We want them to like these guys.

I’ll post the rest later. Now it’s back to other column duties; see you tomorrow.