This may be the last night I sit outside after dark and write. I suppose I could do it all year long, but that would be uncomfortable and stupid, and my glass would freeze to my lip.

Hmm: I think I’ve just discovered why Russians throw back their vodka instead of sip it. Of course. Makes sense, now.

Another day of duty and chores and cleaning. Got up before 8 AM – 7:50, to be exact – and had breakfast at the table with Gnat. She wanted to look at the weather map; she loves seeing what colors the rest of the country will be. She takes it literally, I guess. Interesting how we understand that red is hot and blue is cool; the former is the color of fire, the latter the color of our extremeties. Real true lethal cold should be BLACK, since that’s the color after necrosis sets in. I think. Oh, and speaking of which: I go through about two bags of spinach a week, since it’s a great source of spinach. This week I went to a mixed jumble of greens – some white spines, some bitter inedible lettuces that tasted like lawn grass, and other varieties that were left on the floor in the Dole’s Abattoir of Salad. Today I learned that bagged spinach is being recalled – not fondly, either, nor with a wistful expression of nostalgia – because it’s loaded with Wile E. Coli. Usually you expect that in undercooked cow. You don’t want to know how it got into lettuce. You really, really don’t.

Anyway. I did what I had to do all day, then picked up Gnat from the bus stop. Her friend came to play for the afternoon. They dressed up as royalty and commanded the dog to do their bidding, then demanded  Walnettos as a snack. I said I was the king, and would not submit to their impertinence. No, I was informed by my daughter, she was the Queen now, which made me not King but Grandpa King. Sharper than a serpent’s tooth, I tell you. I had to inform her there was no such thing as a Grandpa King, and fathers and daughters did not share a throne. You’ll have to marry the dog and kill me, I wanted to say,  but there’s no reason to put those thoughts in her head.

The dog would probably go along with the idea if it meant an extra rawhide chew. Thinking ahead to a time when there are no chews because Grandpa King was dead and thus couldn’t go to Target isn’t the sort of thing a dog figures out. They would gladly kill the goose that excreted the golden rawhide, if you know what I mean.

This Friday’s Quirk – now available, thanks to the fixed link (they changed the URL. ) concerns my inability to finish all the TV I have queued, and it brings to mind an argument made by Mark Steyn about the problems of modern-day serial TV. As usual, it's a great read, but I don't agree. (girding loins, preparing for combat . . . okay. ) He argues that the old stuff had a genial advantage - because you could drop into any episode without having to know the Deep Rich Complex arcs that explain the characters. That's true. But While I admit that you can easily get into an episode of “Charlie’s Angels” without significant confusion, this still doesn’t change the fact that you’re watching “Charlie’s Angels.” The stories were all the same: the Three Graces – Sexbomb, Classy, and Smart One – sat around looking concerned while a disembodied voice handed out this week’s assignment. Then they jiggled off to run through the plot points and set pieces, during which no Affront to their Sex was suffered. Then they met again in the epilogue for a warm verbal petting from their unseen puppeteer. Rinse, repeat, as the Wella Balsam bottle said. It can be fun to revisit if you’re in a motel room somewhere, and the only alternative is the cocktail lounge, and you’ve already been there, and the premium pour was Chivas and it came with that damnable bar-ice that melts right away because it’s mostly hollow, so you had three. Then it’s the pips.

I agree that it’s hard to get into these shows when they’ve been up and running for a while, but that’s why I don’t watch them as they run. Mr. Steyn noted that "Ninety percent of all the people who’ll ever be into (the Soprano) are already into it." Really? I didn't start watching until season three; didn't watch "24" until 96 hours had elapsed. I watch the shows on DVDs, and the availability of entire seasons in one nifty box changes things. It's an entirely new way to watch TV. I watched the first season of “Lost” on DVD, and thought it was fascinated; when I tried to watch the second season, I lost the thread entirely – delays, hiatuses, repeats, weeks where they'd actually repeat a hiatus. Without the ability to visit the story every night as I wished, the coy wandering dance-of-the-veils quality of the plotting was annoying. When you have the box set in your hand, it doesn't feel open-ended. You know it'll end on a cliffhanger, but it's the difference between a serialized novel and Judge Parker. One is episodic but has certain distinct markers; the other is just one long thin dramatic smear. "Lost" may turn out to be something that makes Chris Carter look like Agatha Christie, but I have the second season on DVD now, and look forward to soaking it up in a fortnight as I did with season one.

“24” and “The Sopranos” compensate for the complicated stories by advancing the story constantly with great skill. Watch some of the 90s Star Trek, for heaven’s sake – as much as I liked  the latter seasons of “DS9,” it could move like slug in syrup, what with the useless B-stories and the demands to reach a false crescendo every 8 minutes. The commercial break forced a peculiar demand on drama, which was eventually institutionalized into the medium and accepted by those of us who grew up expect TV dramas to have four acts - and, if the show starred Efram Zimbalist the Latter, an Epilogue. Now shows cut out much quicker, adn we don't notice because we expect the breaks. The sudden urgent surge just means we reach for the remote to FF through the spots. Imagine Shakespeare if every scene ended after 640 seconds with the understanding that the audience would leave the Globe en masse, and might not return unless you’d left them depending from tenterhooks. No, I’m not saying “The Sopranos” is Shakespeare. If Shakespeare had written in the Sopranos style, “The Merchant of Venice” would have been different. Shylock gets a warning, then a prickly sit-down, then he does something stupid, then Silvio kills him in the woods, goes back to the Bada-Bing, shrugs, and tells Tony “He bled all over. What a prick.”

No, this is the golden age. But there is room for shows like “Crime Story,” which had stand-alone stories inside the arc. You still needed a scorecard, though. And where would “Miami Vice” have been without Sonny’s nemesis, Calderon? (I can’t remember anything about those stories, other than Crockett shot him with one of those super-powerful 80s guns that threw him into a swimming pool. Calderon, I mean. Ah, Calderon. The Mendoza of series TV.)

(Five bucks says that gets me a Corner link, just for obscure in-joke  reasons.)

Anyway. That’s what I think, and anyone who disagrees is welcome to come to Jasperwood and join me for a marathon of “It’s About Time,” which is probably coming out on DVD soon. Complete with the deleted scene in which Imogene Coco breaks down and screams I USED TO WORK WITH CAESAR, AND NOW IT’S COME TO THIS? at the makeup guy. Buy the Atlantic issue and read the whole thing, which is much more entertaining than what you just suffered through.

One more thing. You may recall that my coffee pot died, and that it was not the first. It was preceded in death by another Cuisinart, which had cool retro switches. It replaced a Mr. Coffee, which I shelved because it was not as cool as the Cuisinart. Well. After the most recent Cuisinart died, I brought Mr. Coffee back up from the basement and gave it another chance. It brewed up the joltin’ joe for three weeks. Today it developed Sudden Onset Pre-Brew Incontinence. Pour 12 cups in the tank? Twelve cups leak out the bottom. On the floor. I think I will destroy it with a baseball bat, just to get closure.

So. There you go. That’s my week. Started off in the ditch, and now it’s better. New Quirk, as usual – and sorry about the wrong link, as usual. NOT MY FAULT, completely; they changed the URL. So bookmark that, if you wish. New Diner as well - alas, SATURDAY is bandwidth-reset day, so you'll have to wait. (Remember - if you subscribe via iTunes you get it automatically when the bandwidth resets.) Since it's a weekend reset, here's the MP3 link. (Note: this is one of those plotless "talk a lot" Diners. They're all impromptu, but sometimes I have an idea. This one - honest - was generated entirely by an offhand remark in the opening 30 seconds.)

Have a grand weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.







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