I can’t send mail. I don’t know why. Before you ask: no, I did not go into my preferences and change SMTP to IMAP or retoggle the port or enable “remote server nuking” or anything else. Something on Earthlink’s side, probably. They regularly change the rules to keep honest customers – 99.9 of the people who rely on their service – from sending eighty trillion pieces of boner-spam every half hour, and it means I have to call up the “live chat” page and sit through fifteen macro-generated responses (“Hi James. First, let’s check to see if your computer is on!”) before they admit pertinent details, like “we changed the configuration” or “a goat ate the cables” or, more likely, “nothing is wrong.”

Earthlink! You say, and you prepare a chastising email. Don’t. I know. It was the cheapest broadband I could get at the time, and there were various other technical reasons. I will be in the market for a new provider soon. Same goes with the cellphone – I’m with Verizon, which I don’t like, because of their logo. That’s it: the logo bites rhino nads, and I’ll probably switch carriers for that reason alone. I like the Cingular logo better; it may be a cutesy little extruded liquid humanoid, but at least it doesn’t look like a Nike swoosh from 1974. We’ll see. That’s actually the subject of a column I have to write tonight, so I’d best hold my powder.

Hold my powder? Keep my powder? Hold my fire? Fire my kept powder? Eh. In any case, I can’t send mail – but it keeps coming in! Cue the Sorceror’s Apprentice theme. (One of my favorite cartoons, incidentally – and I know not everyone loves Disney; I blow hot and cold, depending. But that’s a marvelous piece of work. I bought the soundtrack when “Fantasia” was rerereleased in 197whatever – a thick blue sheaf of four records on the Buena Vista label, I think. In the “Sorceror’s Apprentice” you can hear traces of the old original mix – apparently the movie required a fancy audio setup for its initial run, with music bouncing from one speaker to the other. [Old Walt, the proto pothead? Nah. But gabba gabba hey, the potheads made him one of them.] It was called “Fantasound,” and it was an early version of stereo. This proved too expensive for the time – carting around 60 speakers cuts down on the profits – and it was abandoned for the usual old glorious mono. But you can still hear the mix in the mixed-down version; the music goes from one channel to the other to follow the action, and you can only imagine how this must have seemed to audiences at the time.

Crass philistine trickery, probably. To all the snobs in the audience, anyway.

Why are blogs & websites different from newspapers? Well, after I wrote the paragraph above I went downstairs, got a copy of “Fantasia,” fired up WireTap, watched “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” on the laptop, captured the relevant moment that stuck out when I first heard it 30 + years ago, and uploaded it to the site. 150KB; use headphones so you see what I mean. That was proto-stereo, Disney style, with Mouse.

Thus concludes the longest parenthetical insert in Bleat history.)

An ordinary day. Sunshine, which was nice. Had trouble moving my column over the interwebs to the Strib Colussus, and for a moment faced the ridiculous prospect of mailing the column to myself, driving downtown, calling up the mailserver on a website and transferring the piece into the relevant program. That’s the downside of telecommuting; when you cannot tele, you must commute. But I solved the problem eventually. Went to pick up Gnat from school; got there early, so I sat in the lobby and read “The Godfather Returns,” which makes so much more sense after you’ve just seen the first two GF films. It’s a better book than Puzo could write, and avoids all the sis-goombah clichés of the genre. Well, most. Someone has to show up with cannoli, at some point. We went to the grocery store, and there’s usually a fifty-fifty chance Gnat will complain: aw, not the grocery store. This was one of those days. But she perked up when she saw a friend in the parking lot, and they spent the time following each other around the store and exchanging big hugs. I tell you, I soak these days up, fearful she will go Teen Goth overnight and the sweetness and light will leave my life for good.

Yes, five and a half is a little early to worry about that; on the other hand, she said “Bring it on, Grandpa!” today. Dang TV. On the other hand, we were having a conversation about popularity, and why pursuit of friends can make you do things you know in your heart aren’t right.

“I know,” she said. “You do something that isn’t really you, and then your new friends like you, but they really don’t like you because you weren’t being you, so they don’t like you for real. Just for what you did to be cool.”

“That’s right,” I said. “Where did you learn that?”

“I figured it out in my brain,” she shrugged. I looked in the rear view mirror. She hunched up her shoulders and grinned and held her thumb and index finger a half-inch apart. “With a leeetle help from TV.”

I wanted to spend the night on various projects, but my wife had to take some business calls, so I had Gnat in my lap in the office, playing Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 for a while. She hired about 46 janitors to clean up the barf. Every time she sees barf in the park, she hires another guy. I’m starting to think that the Custodians Local has a guy who walks around dumping out cans of chicken a la king here and there so she’ll put another guy on the payroll. Then she took her bath, and I got back to work – but the moment had passed. I wrote no novel tonight, no site additions. Nothing. Put up my feet and read, then came down to the kitchen table for this.

A few links:

Sigh. Really, lads, a good hobby would help. I can predict the responses on the inevitably Fark thread: one nuke-and-pave remark, six snarky irrelevant comments about how America arms Pakistan, an angry diatribe about Kansas fundamentalists who want to change textbooks, 47 comments about the Crusades and the moral superiority of atheism, including in a dispute about whether Hitler was really a pagan, ending with a graphic of the Flying Spaghetti Monster saying O RLY? Sometimes all I have to do is hold my hand up to the screen, and I feel as though I can absorb everything that boils beneath. There hasn’t been a new argument advanced by anyone since the fall of Baghdad. (Via LGF)

Dude: you’re renting. And that show chewed Borg trouser-implants.

Check out the default selection on the weekly poll. Uh huh. Right. Yes, Uhuru doing the fan dance was certainly a high point in the franchise. Bill, we love you, but don’t push it.

Interesting conversation about how the patriarchy forces women to empty the dishwasher. Personally, I’ve known messy women, and clean ones. I’ve known neat guys and slobs. Until I met my wife, in fact, nearly every woman I dated was a slob. She was the first one who knew how to keep house. She also was the first one with a job. I was a half-slob once and a mostly-slob before that. Now I do all the housework and child care and do not feel as though I am making some Brave Stand Against Predominant Sexual Paradigms. It’s not like I get boobs when I mop. The thread is notable for the usual joyless prim thin-lipped intensity of some of the commenters; I hope they’re enjoying grad school. One fellow noted that anyone who has daughters has to be a feminist, to prepare them to push back against what society will push on them. I know what he means. Society came to the door the other day and insisted I take her out of her girl-power Scout program, turn off “Dora” and “Kim Possible” and the “Barbie Princess and Pauper” videos and anything else that encourages intellectual inquiry and personal strength, eliminate all the female role models she sees – teacher, working mom, all the bosses at Dad’s office – and start learning to walk ten steps behind men with her eyes downcast and worry about her ability to make dishes so clean she can see her reflection. Damn society. Sometimes I see its face outside pressed against the window, too. Then I release the hounds.

Well, I’m done! Time to write the next column and deal with the mail problem. See you tomorrow.


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