Wife has Bunco, which means I’m on deck sun up to midnight. Just got Gnat down after a long day – we did Chuck E. Fargin’, of course, and afterwards she watched “Barbie Mermadia,” just out today. It’s the Indiana Jones 4 for the five-year old demographic. While she amused herself with computer-generated sprites united against aquatic perfidy, I finished the Diner – and there’s a tale, believe me.

I lied yesterday, sort of it.  The “technical difficulties” did not specifically relate to writing any sort of Bleat update. In fact, I wrote this:

Gently, the newfallen snow falls, fallingly, on the virgin breast of the last fresh drift. Seven inches predicted tonight. Get me out of here.

I am in a mood of rare black dyspepsia. You must first understand that I am a man who frequently saves his work. (Pause while I save this.) (There.) The minute my hands idle, I save; it’s instinct. I have becoming unaccustomed to some strange crashes on my machine lately – once or twice during podcast creation, Garageband goes down like the Hindenberg. Tonight it crashed, and when I called it up again it was missing one track.

Which one? Oh, the one with the vocals. Everything I had said was gone, and I was 22 minutes into the podcast.

Like a stabby knife, stabbing me stabbily, that word: Podcast. All in ruins. Gah.

So that’s why I said nothing yesterday; I was filled with the dark corrosive ichor that comes when even your hobbies disappoint.

On the other hand, we have an offer on the next book, so that’s good.

On the other hand, book contracts don’t make the podcasts come out of nowhere, so I redid the thing this afternoon. Since you can’t recreate spontaneous crap without making it sound like reheated crap, I had to come up with entirely new crap. The old idea was “St. Patrick’s Day” at the Diner, but I jettisoned that in favor of something else. I think I like this one better anyway. Done in haste, so be kind. If nothing else, it’s worth it for the music; if ever there were two examples of famous men who ought not to sing, it’s these. Regular iTunes subscribers will get the cool art-enhanced version automatically; click the Diner button below to subscribe. (It takes a while for the main page to reflect the new addition. Sometimes it takes a while for the archive page to sync. I know not why.) The boring old MP3 version is here.

And that’s all I have, more or less; can’t really tease anything new out of Chuck E. Cheese’s, except that I tried something new; went with the Italian Sub. I was under the misunderstanding it would contain meatballs. It had four sheets of meat, each about three microns thick, smothered under the usual quilt of cheese, served with fries as cold and limp as a William Hurt audition. Horrid. But I met some fans, which was nice – a guy said “You’re that Star Tribune guy,” and actually put his arm out in the posture of the old Backfence illustration. Called his wife over, too. It’s that guy! It’s Alvy Singer! I love those moments. Of course, it makes me self-conscious when I go to play the Chuck E.’s Duckies machine by myself. Usually I get the highest possible score, because I know the secret: punch every other duck. (Words to live by.) But they’ve changed it, somehow; the fist does not retract as quickly as before, and I was shooting 14 for 20.

Definition of parenthood, that: you become convinced they’ve rigged the Chuck E.’s Duckies game, because you’re not scoring as high as you used to.

Got in the car. Turned on the radio to the Hewitt show, because I had to appear in a few minutes. I’d told them I’d have to move the segment back an hour, because of Chuck E duty. The first thing I hear is this: “Lileks is probably leaving Chuck E. Cheese’s right now.”

“Hey!” Gnat said from the back seat. “That’s us!”

Yes, hon. Sigh. Yes, it is. Apparently there had been a miscommunication; they’d tried to call the hour before, I wasn’t there, and this was regarded as an opportunity for a free shot. Much sport was made at my expense, it seems.  All in good fun, he said, gritting his teeth.

Just kidding; it is fun, and Gnat grows up regarding the radio as a magical device that occasionally says her name, and sometimes Daddy comes out of it, too.

Yeah, yeah, blah blah, famous me. Whatever. Sorry. I am dead tired, ready to drop. Only enough energy for the weekly Firefly review. Watched“Safe.”  I realized last night I’m watching these things completely uncritically. Just enjoying them. I mean, scenes where the “special, troubled superkid” discovers a Country Faire and kicks up her heels in gay abandon usually annoy me – the music has reached her where nothing else could! – but golram if it wasn’t an affecting little moment. (Frackin’ A!)  I’ve become such an uncritical consumer of this I look at Summer and think “Gee, Christina Ricci should play her in the movie.”  I don’t even mind that the frontier planets all look like the Old West, because I know there’s zero chance Capt. Reynolds will show up in fringed leather shouting MIRAMANEE. I was right about the Shepherd’s back story; has to be potent. Still right about Zoe; she doesn’t seem to have anything to do, yet. Yet.

All in all, it would have made an interesting 90 minute story; it suffered somewhat from compression, but anything that ends with Jayne hanging out of the cargo bay of a spaceship on a rope aiming a laser-guided rifle at witch-burners has my complete approval. Again, if this had been Trek, Dr. Bashir would have got snippy and pissy while the music sawed away and various aliens with slightly different nostrils coughed in the infirmary; in “Firefly,” the captured doc gets to work, but makes the point that he thinks they’re all a bunch of shanghai-happy hill-country whackjobs. Not just the writing’s good here – the fellow who plays the doctor packs more than you expect behind that prissy impassivity.

And of course, there’s the writing. The little details. When the father bails out the son, he notes that his record will now reflect the fact that he went through those doors. That’s all he has to say; it’s tidy shorthand, and you can imagine the rest. If you have to go to the police department, well, there’s a reason. Might be a good one; might not. But they’ll flag your file just the same.

Now I’m done - Friday, with its joys and traditions and promises of exquisite pizza, awaits. Think of me at 6:30 Central time, when I'm walking the dog, listening to the show, looking forward to the night where I can stay up all night, sip a single malt, scan without writing, writing without editing, and end up on the sofa by the fire at 2 AM with the dog at my feet, watching a movie. Which may possibly be lousy. Trust me; I won't really care. Enjoy the Diner (MP3 link above, otherwise click below; if it's not in the main page, it should be in the archives under "Happy St. Whatever Day." Subscribe already!) and I'll see you Monday.