On Saturday morning, at approximately 1:12 AM, the Oak Island Water Feature ceased to work. But perhaps we should narrow our terms here. By “ceased to work” I mean that the water flow -  heretofore strong and constant as a Crusader’s heart – was reduced to a trickle as weak as a Crusader’s heart, since he really wasn’t out to recapture the Holy Land but find secret documents that would prove the Church was ruled by liars who denied the Goddess. (Also read “The Da Vinci Code” this weekend. Obviously. More later.)  Technically, water was falling. Just not very much. The sound of the pump in the bottom pit – gorsh! gorsh! gorsh! - indicated that the level had dropped at least four feet, and the blades were thrashing around like Red Buttons in a flooded engine room of an upended ocean liner. At 1:17 AM I turned it off. (The intervening five minutes were spent, motionless, in the dark, staring at nothing in particular.)

On Saturday morning, at approximately 11 AM, I turned it on again; water trickled down the rest of the afternoon. At 4 PM I refilled the tank. It took half an hour. The OIWF resumed its vigorous flow, but was down to a trickle by midnight. On Sunday morning I turned it on again; by 8:57 PM Sunday evening, the waterfall was completely dry.

Oh, it gets better. But you’ll have to wait.

Crushing, punishing heat this weekend; 98 degrees, by some thermometers. I turned on the AC switch, and could almost hear the unit weep: GOD, NO! YOU ASK TOO MUCH! At least I hosed off the cottonwood effluvia; asking the unit to cool the house while its mouth is full of cotton is the definition of Cruelty to Appliances. We went over to the Giant Swede’s for the first of the season’s three get-togethers, and unlike previous years when we’ve sat outside and shivered, this time we sat inside where there was air conditioning, and shivered. Only the kids went outside to play. They had a new game: everyone run into everyone else as fast as possible. Last one to get a subdural hematoma is a rotten egg. We ate meat in the usual forms, drank things of a spirituous nature, then separated into three conversations, each of which required talking across the lines of another conversation. A grand time was had by all.

Everyone had to ooh and ahh at the new car, of course. And by “new car” I mean Wesley’s latest acquisition. He’s one of the seldom mentioned guys from the Old Days, mostly because he’s busy, we’re busy, and that’s how it goes. We should all see each other more often, of course, but most of us are now busy attending the offspring, and the opportunities for just dropping in and sitting around drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, scoffing at MTV, and rising from the sofa six hours later to go home and have a frozen pizza are remarkably few. (Every man misses his single days in principle, but rarely in specifics.) Wes, like the Giant Swede and your narrator, is doing what he wanted to do when we were at the Valli restaurant in the early 80s. The Swede is an Engineer with an advanced degree in Applied Heinleinism;  I write, and Wes is a videographer, for lack of a better word. (He has a company that produces corporate events, industrials, etc.)

Anyway. He showed up tired and hot, an exact rectangle of sweat soaked through his shirt. What, you didn’t turn on the AC? Oh, you must have driven the Mustang. (He’s also a gearhead, and has been bringing a classic Mustang back to life for the last 15 years, one glorious part at a time.)

Nope, he said. I looked out the window.

Oh my stars & bars:

A 1956 Ford Country Sedan in the most-holy hues of mint and seafoam green. With, I might add, the Thunderbird engine:


The details on these lovely machines just flow with liquid grace:


The thing itself, however, is a reminder of the Old Days: while the engine will take you into the troposphere in four seconds, it lacks power steering and air conditioning, which means that driving is \ work on a 98 degree day. The seats are made of a material that actually collects and stores heat, it seems, and the steering wheel itself can take the flesh off your hands if you don’t park it in the shade.

Was that my weekend? I suppose; I didn’t expect much, and was duly satisfied with what I had. I did very little site work. Well, no, actually I did a lot, come to think of it. The Matchbook Museum begins its Salute To Beer, so I had to scan and resize; I got the King Feature batch scanned and resized, and did the fargin’ motel for the week. (I am looking forward to finishing that site. Believe me. Looking forward.) Picked away at a Screed. But on Saturday I read: sat outside in the gazebo and hammered my way through “The Da Vinci Code.” If “Angels and Demons” was a Tom Clancy novel for Art History majors, “Code” is “24” for pagans, I suppose. The writing, as others have noted, is bad – not unbearably so, but reading the book is like being borne along by a rushing stream of flat ginger ale. You’re certainly going somewhere, but the medium of your conveyance lacks distinction. Some moments were laughable – I could not imagine the character “Teabing” as anything other than “Teabag,” and almost imagined a bottom-heavy wet man with a string tied to his head. I did put the book down, laughing, when the author suggested that Walt Disney was in on the conspiracy to bring forth the truth about the Goddess. Why? Because of “The Little Mermaid,” which was just full of Piscean symbolism. Because the ancients, you know, revered fish, or crabs, or water, or something or other.

Those ancients: they revered everything. They worshipped the circle! Also the square. And, according to a 10th century French monk, the rectangle had certain mystical connotations as well, and that’s why our beds are rectangular. Up until the Council of Sealy, convened by King Quoil, everyone slept in circular beds like the ancient Zoroastrans, beds from which no one ever fell. But rectangular beds were easier to fall out of, so the Council mandated such shapes so people would be reminded of the Fall of Man, preferably on a nightly basis. And so forth. On and on. The wisdom of the ancients. They believed the moon was the Breast of the Goddess of Night! All well and good, So-crates, but we’ve been there, and it’s a rock covered in dust.

Blasphemer! You – no, sorry, only the evil horrible CHURCH accuses people of blasphemy, we pagans are a come-one-come-all sort of people, accepting of all beliefs. Except for Christians, who go straight to the Coliseum for lion appetizers. Anyway, the moon has mystical goddess powers! It affects the tide and the cycle of a woman’s womb!

Well, gravity will do that.  All due respect, you guys didn’t have the whole story back when you were assembling cosmologies based primarily on observation. I mean, you made a nice start, but you were also poking through bird guts to see if the augurs were good. Nowadays we’ve come to believe that half-digested seeds are an insufficient means for predicting likely outcomes. The financial industry hasn’t used them for decades.

But we believed in the Goddess, and you, the patriarchal Western evil sex-denying female-fearing popish testosterone-intoxicated tool user has utterly removed the Holy Female from your spiritual realm!

Right. Exactly. Women, all gone. No sacred dames. Aside from that Mary, Mother of, but she’s just a footnot, and you hardly hear anything about her. You’re quite right; Western civilization is bound up in a cinched surplice of denial and prudery, and we spend our days in fear of the Holy Sexual Whatever. I – hold on, the TiVo just bonged – whoa! "G-string Divas" marathon on HBO tonight! Alright. Anyway, you’re quite correct; we do have a certain veneer of “civilization” draped around sex, inasmuch as the Twins do not open with the pitcher rutting with a consort on the mound. Which I’m sure is named after some part of Venus’ anatomy, and if only we knew it, we would be amazed at how some of our words and terms were derived from ancient cultures, man! Did you know George Washingon was a Mason and a hemp farmer? They'll never let you know that. How do I know? I read it in a book in the library. Anyway, pass the bong.

You are missing the point! At this very moment, self-mortifying Opus Dei monks are plotting to suppress the old and ancient ways!

And more power to 'em. A bloody albino shows up at my door tomorrow, I'll put him up, with gratitude. The alternative worldview postulated in “The Da Vinci Code” does not exactly give us anything transcendent and wonderful, friend; the most “sacred ritual” described consists of some old French grandfather, nagoy and panhandled, moaning under some grindy-hipped fleshy woman “with long silver hair,” while observers – yes, observers! – stand around in masks holding orbs, chanting. I met her in the grotto and she sheathed my sword, da doo ron ron, da doo ron ron. This may be why the interminable Latin mass became popular: absolutely zero chance of seeing Granny get it on in front of the bridge club.

Back to work now. One last note: over the weekend I filled the Oak Island Water Feature four times. It ran down each time. Last night I resigned myself to another week of work, and contented myself with the thought that I could enjoy the sound of water splashing from the pump that fed the rock. I flipped the switch.


It worked before. Now it doesn’t.

I took a deep breath, and let it all out:


You’re always surprised to find how much that doesn’t really help.


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