Better day. Good day. Happy day. Great day! No sun, but that’s what a daughter’s smile is for, no? (Yes, I know. I should just mail you a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth’s and save you the trouble of reading things like that.) One of the problems with a good day, however, is the lack of items about which one can go on and on and on, and since I have that gigantic header graphic at the top I feel compelled to ramble on about something, lest the space between the roof and the floor look cramped and miserly. I spent tonight’s work segment on the bleatcast – 20 minutes, 20MB, and again I must repeat the reassurances: it’s not rambling talk about Stuff, and you do not need an iPod to listen. You can click on the link and it will play. As with most, I had no plan, aside from two sound files that summed up the carefree, vacation-from-history, silly paranoid Art Bell nineties. I took a few steps back to run up to the topic, got sidetracked, and the result is - well, it’s 20 minutes. If you liked “the Schickele Mix,” it’s like that, without the erudition.

I apologize if these bleatcasts leave some cold for whatever reason, but it’s only going to get worse; next week I get a good mike and a mixing board, and I plan to keep it up. Why? Because it makes me happy. Because it’s fun. Because sometimes, like tonight, it all ties together in a fashion I could not have predicted when I was driving home from the grocery store, listening to the theme music for “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” and thought: that’s the first time anyone used harps and celestes in a sci-fi score to suggest the twinkling of stars. Or is it? And who wrote that piece, anyway? Imagine my surprise.

Anyway. I felt like six bags of crap all day, mostly because I stayed up until 2:30 and was woken earlier than planned by – The Water Feature Contractor! Guess who didn’t pay the electrical subcontractor? Guess who’s facing a lien? That this nightmare should surface in January shouldn’t surprise, but does. There’s some dispute over the bill, it seems. It sounds as if the bill exceeded the bid by 600%, which probably resulted from a communications failure – I’d told the contractors I wanted lights in the Water Feature, and showed them the fixtures I’d purchased, but this was not communicated to the electrical subcontractors, so they had to return and install a transformer. I was surprised to see what they put in – if the Water Feature had the attributes of the Belagio fountain in Vegas, this device would suffice, but we could have made do with a $60 item from Home Depot. So the battle continues – at least it keeps the skirmish hot and fresh, ready for renewal when the snows recede and work begins anew.

But thus roused I was not happy – as mentioned, little sleep, compounded by going to bed in a sour mood. Most of the day I dragged. Wrote a column. Tried to send it to the office, but failed; I’m having trouble with the Strib’s mainframe emulators. (Geordi! Recalibrate the dish, run a level three diagnostic on the isometric couplers and reboot the mainframe emulators! I’m on it, Captain.) So we went to the office. Gnat was Little Miss Chatterbox en route, counting to 100 over and over again. We went to the second floor coffeehouse, sat where I usually sit – the window seat, looking out on the parking lot and the old warehouses – and drank our beverages. Hot chocolate for her, an Americano for me. She read the copy on the Starbucks cup, saying “We Proudly Brew” with solemn chest-puf’t exaggeration. Five and a half.

We explored some other parts of the building, played with the revolving doors – the security logs will show I used my card to enter about 14 times in three minutes – and she pronounced it the Best Day Ever and gave my leg a hug. Then she fell asleep in the car and I listened to a Dragnet from 1950; the tape speed was off, so everyone sounded drugged. Friday’s wasted, dude! Listen! You know they were all doing massive spliffage during this!

I wonder if crackheads are like dopeheads – that is, they’re convinced that their appreciation of a particular thing means the author was also on drugs. That Beethoven, he had to be on the pipe.

At least I realized something crucial about Dragnet. Most of the scenes end with a Laconic Portentious Statement, something along these lines:

Officer on the scene: Sorry, sargeant, but the killer didn’t leave us much to work with.

Friday: He left us something.

Officer: What’s that?

Friday: He left us a body.

DA DA DUUUUM. On the radio, that’s the end; that’s all you need. But the TV show couldn’t just end with Friday’s remark and a stinger; they had to go for the wide shot, where everyone gives each other grim cop-nods. You know exactly what I mean, don’t you? Every scene in TV Dragnet always ended with those awkward nods. The music would be stern and dramatic and serious, and Friday would just nod, then head for the door. The format of the radio show required that the TV show sound like its radio antecedent, but Webb didn’t know quite how to make the audio version translate to video. So he went for the classic wide shot. He nodded up and down and Gannon nodded side to side.

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At the grocery store Gnat slept in the cart, which was sweet. Been a while. She woke up at one point, said “What’s your middle name?” I told her. “Oh right. I know your initials,” she said, and went back to sleep. We went home, I let her watch the Incredibles, and I hit the hay. Half hour nap. Perfect. Made some steamed hams for supper, Plaza Style. (In this part of the country, or perhaps in this city, that means a burger with sour cream and chives on a dark bun. Popularized by a Wisconsin restaurant, brought to the Twin Cities by Annie’s Parlour, a West Bank hole in the wall that no longer exists – although they used the name and menu when they reconfigured a Dinkytown restaurant called Greenstreets, where I spent many afternoons in the early 80s drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and writing, looking out over the gates of the old U. (Did I ever come up with a word for googling a subject to learn more, and finding your own name as one of the top hits? We need such a word.)

After the burgers were consumed I walked Jasper around the block, ran upstairs to do the Hew Hughitt show. Then the podcast, then this. Now the weekend – tomorrow is another vacation day for Gnat, with Target and piano and pizza and a nice glass of Ancient Shenanigan. Thank you for your patronage and forebearance this week; have a good weekend, and I’ll see you Monday. (And here's the Podcast.)



c. 2005 j. lileks .