At the office, in the WiFi Dead Zone, finishing up the 1939 playlist. I’m really tired of 1939. The previous year was better.

The things I learn from you, the readers:

The exciting action clip is from “Banlieu 13,” which is the French word for the narsty suburbs around the big cities. One of those words that probably means “the ‘hood / the projects” rolled into word that can be spoken with Gallic derision, in the proper company, anyway. The movie looks great.

The last word on the ports: which I remain uncomfortable about it for plenty of reasons, and can pose all manner of hypothetical scenarios, Gen. Tommy Franks has endorsed the deal. Do I know more about these things that Gen. Franks? I do not.

The ACME shot for this week showed a fishing store at the base of the Chelsea hotel. I didn’t bother googling since I figured there wasn’t an chance in hell's kitchen the Chelsea still had that tenant – well, what do you know. And it’s run by Tommy Franks! (Just kidding.)

I’ve been watching many movies lately, spending the end-of-the-day TV allotment on stuff the TiVo nabs. Last night I finished “Gorky Park,” which was upon its release a great disappointment to fans of the book. Put it all in context: the book came out in the early 80s, when its context and characters were rare in mysteries. A cynical Moscow policeman, solving a crime in a Moscow park? Given how little most knew about the daily realities of Soviet life, it was engrossing, especially for newly-minted Russophiles. (I was one of those – there were lots of us who were anti-Soviet who were Russophiles, and we still got caricatured as Birchers who hated Ivan on sight. I still don’t know what it is about Russia that fascinates – the fatalism, the doomed history, the vast dreamless expanse, the sense that the country lived in a parallel reality to the West, echoing every development but twisting them in its own fashion? The literature, which is peerless? The fact that you can’t drink six shots of vodka and hear a balalaika without bursting into tears? And then throwing your best friend out a window?) Anyway. The hero of the novel, as I recall, was dark and rumpled and unshaven; the movie gives us William Hurt. Who is peculiar. But it’s a better movie than I remember, and bonus points for using Emperor Palpatine as a forensic investigator. There’s a guy who actually grew into his fishy looks, for the better.

It also had Brian Dennehey. Half the movies I’ve seen lately have Brian Dennehey. “FX,” “Presumed Innocent,” “Gorky Park.” Makes a fellow reluctant to order anything on the Spice channel, I’ll tell you that.

Woke up this morning, and everything was good. Damn: there goes my shot at writing a blues tune again. Did some piano practice with Gnat, and she finally nailed the difficult both-hands passage in “Flemmish Dance.” And yea there was great rejoicing. While she practiced I laid out next week’s Matchbook – not a hard task, and not one that requires much work. Clip, rotate, apply filter, duplicate last web page, change URLs, write copy. Fifteen minutes, tops. I used to do it on Sundays. Then one day I did it on a Friday afternoon and felt ahead of the game. So why not do it Thursday, and free up those 15 minutes on Friday? This means that next week if I do the Matchbook at the usual Friday time, I’ll feel as if I’m slipping behind. No doubt in a year I’ll feel stressed unless I immediately complete a new Diner after uploading the last one.

I have that to do tonight, don’t I. Hmm.

Ah: banking duties to do. Back later.

Back, and fried. Did the Diner, and that’s all I have in me for the day. I mean, really: I have nothing to add to anything. The podcast feed page is here, if you want to listen and / or subscribe; if you do subscribe, of course you’ll get it automatically. The iTunes version has a new feature: art that changes according to the conversation. Rather primitive, really; like silent movie dialogue panels, in a way, but it’s better than nothing. The plain vanilla MP3 version is here. Sorry for the delay, but I am tired of sitting in front of a computer, and want nothing more than some couch therapy. Besides, I have another column to write before the day’s done. Thanks for the patronage; have a fine weekend, enjoy the Diner, and I’ll see you Monday morning.


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