Hey Hey, it’s Happy Lien Day! Yes, by certified mail arrived the joyous news that the subcontractor for the Water Feature has abandoned all hope of redress from the construction company, and has – with rue and sorrow, I am certain – placed a lien on Jasperwood.

I relish this; I really do. At least everything’s out in the open now. Have my phone calls been returned? They have not. Have I been given an explanation as to why the construction company thinks I’m liable for the bill? Apparently they think the charge was too high, but it appears – get this – they didn’t get a bid. And now I’m expected to pay for their half-assery. As for the company that issued the lien: drop on by and let me show you how half the work you did doesn’t seem to work at all. Oh, it’s win-win all around.

It is unwise to pick a fight with a guy who works at home, because he always knows when the workmen don’t show up, and what they don’t do. And he has lots of time to call you. Or he can go to the store and call you from a payphone, so the name doesn’t come up on Caller ID.

If I get satisfaction here, which is highly unlikely, you will not see the website in which the entire process is detailed in case anyone wants to google this fellow or his company. That’s always been my nuclear option, and let’s just say the crew’s oiling the silo doors.

Woke up feeling weak and spaced, and it didn’t go away until lunch. I hadn’t eaten enough food yesterday. That’s the thing about being satisfied with smaller portions; sometimes, it’s just not enough, and unless you get up at 3 AM and eat six apples you find yourself dragging. So I had a gigantic lunch – for me, anyway – with all the things I never would have eaten ten years ago unless you held a gun to my head. Fruits and vegetables, spinach, snap peas. Raw, of course; cooking just ruins it. Now, I’ve not become one of those alarming food faddists; just mentioning one’s distaste for cooked vegetables makes people think of those thin bald gristly old men who like to whip off their shirt and shout “I’m a raw food fiend! Cain’t abide nothin’ cooked – why, there’s a reason hell has flames, son! Here! Have some nuts! They’re packed with lybotol, the wonder serum!” You know, that kind. California used to be packed with them. Well, I saw one in a movie. Anyway, the reason I hated vegetables for so long had everything to do with cooking; what awful transformation steals over the soul of a carrot after it’s been cooked I cannot imagine, but it’s just not the same thing. Peas mush up and get excessively . . . peaish. Peavy. No, give me the crisp fresh taste, brothers and sisters. Pass the spelt bread and carob pudding!

Stayed up late last night – didn’t finish the columns until 12:40, which was standard for Mondays but still a pain. To decompress I watched the rest of “Groundhog Day,” which is perhaps the most perfect romantic comedy ever made. Not a genre I generally enjoy, but as with every genre there’s something wonderful anyone can like. And what is it with Andie McDowell, anyway – she squints, she shows an immodest amount of gum when she smiles, but man: yowsah. And it’s not just the hair, either. It’s interesting how the movie frames her – whenever possible it seems she’s looking up, and we’re looking down at her from behind Bill Murray’s shoulder. Gives her this angel-looking-up-at-heaven appearance. Perhaps it’s her guilelessness that appeals. Can’t think of any other supermodel who would have right in the role, since they all have large glands devoted exclusively to the production of guile. Unless you believe that flouncing down a runway in some silly sack and smiling at all the bitter hagged-out crows judging your strut and buttocks somehow comes naturally.

Except Kathy Ireland! She was really sweet!

(Note: according to imdb, Andie McDowell is older than me. Let me savor the moment.)

Okay, enough of that. Last night I tried to resurrect an old old iBook; I wanted to use it as an alarm clock. Why wake to beeps and buzzes when we could wake to carefully tailored wake-up tunes? Well, several problems. One, the computer smelled. Horribly. It was like it had been dipped in cumin and BO and smeared against the back seat of a taxi on New Year’s Eve. Since it used to be Gnat’s, I think she may have gotten food into the keyboard, or perhaps stuffed Play-Doh in the vents. It took me a while to clean it off, but it still had that unhappy Eau De le Bickle Travis aroma. Then I tried to install the latest OS, but ah: no DVD drive. I reinstalled the original OS X, which I still miss; I liked the pinstripes. Attempted to load some programs via a USB drive, but the machine wouldn’t recognize the drive. At this point I said: nevermind. And this was the laptop I used to demo “Interior Descrations” in New York. It seemed so modern then. So white. So scratchable.

Anyway: I bring this up because I was thinking – really – about the new 7-port USB 2.0 bus I bought. Therein hangs a tale, and you may be glad to know I will not tell it. (Short version: they had a sale on the 7 port that made it half the price of a 4 port! What a country!) I bought it at Best Buy. The store’s been renovated recently, with big sub-brands hanging over the relevant departments: Magnolia for the home-theater section (watch out for raining frogs), Geek Squad for the computer stuff, etc. Well. All the signs for various products – DVDs, games, cameras, networking, etc., all have Spanish subtitles nearly as big as the English word. This bugs me. This really bugs me. Hello Quebec. Not because I have anything against Spanish; I love Spanish. I am trying to ensure that my daughter speaks it well; it’s not as lovely as Italian, but it’s more useful than French. But I do not think this suburban location would lose business if they didn’t provide Spanish subtitles for tricky things like “Computers” or “Games.” There is a substantial Spanish population in the surrounding area; it’s a first-ring burb shedding its old-folk demographic for newcomers who want nice little houses and nice tidy yards and a safe good school for their kids. Lots of young marrieds from the city, lots of immigrant families. Some Hmong, too. No signs for them, though.

Hey: I had my first BoingBoing link today, which I shamelessly sought out; one of the founding Boingers had expressed admiration for an artist I find ineffably creepy. Stacked-eye dog creepy. I have one of his Time illos in the Institute’s Archives, and promised him some scans of the artist’s uber-alarming work for a 1942 Life magazine. Might as well share: it’s here, here, and here. Big scans. The artist uses the swastika to ridicule the Nazis, and while it certainly does that it also looks like the stuff that chases Hitler around in hell. Some of the items look like the face-huggers from Alien, and make you wonder if H. R. Giger saw this stuff as a kid; as I noted in an email to the fellow who collects these pictures, the images may have had the same effect on Giger as a copy of Playboy on a 12 year old. It would certainly explain a lot.

Another email discussion with a correspondent about a childhood memory led to this. Warning: Anyone in middle age will suffer severe Johnny-Carson related flashbacks; I guarantee you’ll think “oh, right, that guy.” Click the video, listen to the testimonials (the guy had a spinal injury, fought his way back, and now inspires Laura Dern’s every waking moment, from the sound of it) and wait for the comedy bit. Yeah! Right! That guy. And it’s a great bit. It’s proto-Andy Kaufman, but for the scotch-and-soda set. There was a time when we all shouted out that show-time tune, just as he did. The man threw a big audio meme into the culture, and I don’t think there’s one person in 100,000 who remembers it. Until you watch the video.

Aw, Jeez, not this crap again. Someone send that butthead a Khrushchev biography, okay? See how that all turned out for him?

Heard an interesting conversation on the Hewitt show today ‘twixt HH, Joe Carter, Medved, and Prager re: the Dreaded Cartoons, and whether or not newspapers should continue to drape them in a burqua lest they enflame. I side with the “print ‘em” side, not to cause offense, but because they’re news. (Asked a few comrades at the paper today what they thought, and, good newspapermen all, they said “print’ em.” They’re news.) Later I thought: there are three belief systems that the media won’t ridicule: Islam, Scientology, and Astrology.

I doubt whether Muslims would enjoy the company.

New ACME photos; this one’s a beaut. Now I’m going to attack the tottering stack of email – thanks to all who’ve written in; I’m trying to get to everyone. Really! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow.


c. 2005 j. lileks. Email, if you wish, may be sent to "first name at last name dot com."