Damp day; that makes four in a row. At least the first of May didn’t see snowflakes, like last year. This does mean the Oak Island Water Feature will be pushed back to next week, I’m sure; whatever job they intended to do today was no doubt put on hold, since any form of precipitation bollixes up their schedule. Apparently landscaping firms hire exclusively from Tin Woodmen Employment Services.

Mondays are busy, which means I have nothing of note here, aside from motels. I redid the First Day Covers site for Wednesday while my wife was off at a neighborhood board meeting – couldn’t work on the columns, since Gnat was involved in some sort of money-calculating project that required my input every sixteen seconds.

TV notes  now, since nothing else happened to me today. Skip to the next boldfaced item if you don’t care.

I am heartily enjoying this season of the Sopranos, even though it has more yakkin’ than whackin’  - even the stuff that usually spells death for a show (dream sequences, celebrity cameos) have worked for me. And who could have suspected that Fat Vito, loathsome bloater that he was, could have turned out to be an object of poignant pity? I admit it’s peculiar (in New Hampshire, parking-lot fistfights are foreplay. Who knew?) but it’s sad in a way that Christopher not getting his screenplay produced isn’t. But for the second week in a row, there have been glaring examples of choppy editing and continuity; in this case, it’s A.J.’s hair. Short, then long on the boat, then short. He may be one of the least likeable characters in modern TV – for six seasons, he’s been a stupid, dull, sullen load of bricks. It would have been different if he’d been smart and bad, because then you could despise him. But you don’t feel anything except his parents’ sadness. He is devoid of qualities. A victim of his family, perhaps, but even so: eh. Who cares. He’s a busted mirror Tony Soprano walks past a few times a week.

Note to the designer of DVD menus: you might want to reconsider using a still from the episode’s dramatic highlight as the main graphic on the submenus. I just finished the second season of “24,” and learned how not to look at the TV. Not wise. Let’s consider this together: I have committed to the show by virtue of the fact that I have not just the disc, but the fifth disc in the series. You don’t have to worry; I’m on board. If I call up episode 18 on the main menu, I’d kinda like to, y’know, watch it. But no: I get a submenu, including chapter markers. Fine. But there’s a big picture of something that happens in the episode I’ve not yet seen. In one instance, it was our hero held at gunpoint by someone who we thought was dead; in another, our heroine held at gunpoint by some guy in the middle of an ambush.

I’ll get there, okay? It’s not as if I’d throw the disc across the room if you gave me a picture of our hero, oh, pointing a gun at an indistinct target.

This is why I now have to avert my eyes from the submenu, lest it give something away. For that matter, the art on the DVD gives things away – a few times it’s shown a character who pops up When You Least Expect It, so I have to ignore the main menu and the picture of the disc.

Life is hard.

Anyway: glad it’s done. (Skip to the RED boldfaced item to avoid this tedious segment.) The geopolitical and military aspects seemed rather . . . questionable, though. The American response to the terrorist incident seemed to be three bombers, sent from New York, and the necessity of striking NOW before the fearsome armies of Three Unspecified MiddleEastern Nations got their shiest together seemed underdone as well. And which three countries were they, anyway? Gentlemen, I have taken the advice of the Joint Chiefs, and will simultaneously strike Lebanon, Qatar and Yemen. And why did we have to invade with ground forces TODAY? Ah, nevermind. What counts is the amazing resilience and resourcefulness of Jack Bauer, who can have his torso sliced with knives dipped in sulfuric acid, die, come back to life, jump off the torture table and have the presence of mind to deliver the anchor shot to his torturer. I’m done with the daughter, though. If she manages to get taken hostage by a bank robber who used to be her boyfriend on the next day Western Civ hangs in the balance, I’m phoning CTU myself. Stick to business, guys.

Highlights: 1. George Mason’s redemption. A sad man; lonely, a personal failure. His password was Hendrix, which was a deft touch. Said it all. 2. Tony Almeda loses the soul patch, but still maintains the expression of a man with a persistent hemorrhoid. 3. President Palmer’s advisor – the kinder, gentler Cheney – weeps a single Iron-Horse-Cody tear, realizing he has screwed his chances to appear in the third season.

It’s a burden, having all the shows on Netflix DVD. You can’t stop watching; it’s like an obligation. But now it’s done.

After I picked up Gnat from school, we ran errands. Hit the video store for Disc one of season three. Went to the grocery store for everything except the thing I had intended to buy – a bag of Kraft shredded mozzarella. Then home, dinner, and work. Put Gnat to bed after she read me a Spongebob book, rated for seven-year olds. She does the voices – it’s pretty cute, since she realizes halfway into the line who’s speaking, and shifts from neutral tone to the character. She does Patrick as a happy dullard, Squidward as a nasal killjoy. I’m partial to Squidward myself – the John Derbyshire of the cartoon world, and I mean that as high praise. Bikini Bottom could devolve into riot and ruin, and Squidward would look out the window and sigh, not so much annoyed by the chaos as the preexisting presumption that it was not inevitable.

Wrote a column. Wrote this. Before I get back to work, one more thing:

Clever ads, but I’d like to recast the Mac guy. Some of us can find a razor, you know. That said, I love the ads for the fury it will encourage in the hardcore PC world – the guys who’ve modded their cases with neon and smokepots, who run some OS so cool it doesn’t have an icon on the developer’s page because that would violate the collaborative ethos, and who spit thumbtacks when you point out how seamless and cool the Mac experience is. Yeah, for a price! Well, yes. Except the Mini, of course.

I actually never tire of PC vs. Mac  debates; every month or so I enjoy marinating in a good OS flame-war. You always have someone pointing out the ease of whipping up a family video and posting it via iLife, and someone who responds with contempt: who does that? Real computer users are downloading a Dragonball Z torrent while playing WoW on a hacked Czech server! And DRM sucks! Et cetera. Fine; I have no problem with anyone’s choice of OS. Doest as thouest wiltest, etc. But love of Macs always seems to inspire Happy Happy Joy Joy in the defenders and bilious froth in the PC camp. It’s like watching the Hare Krishna engage ‘roid-stoked professional wrestlers. And not the cool Mexican kind, either.

Sorry about no-Quirk Monday; the paper screwed up. New one today, I hope. Motels as well. Tomorrow: the return of son of Mighty Joe Something or other, plus First-Day Covers. Thanks for the visit, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

c. j. lileks 2006. Email may be sent to first name at last name dot com.