Down comes the cold, a big brusque shoulder that hits you walk out the door. I had a cup of coffee in hand as usual, since the parents usually stand outside and chat for a few minutes after the bus picks up the kids. But this morning I saw the bus turn the corner as we headed down the stairs, so we jogged to the stop, and my coffee, my fine sweet precious go-juice, jumped out of the mug as I trotted to the stop. After the bus left the parents agreed it was COLD; see you tomorrow. This won’t last; in two months, today’s temps will seem unseasonable warm, and we’ll stand outside and bask in the boon of 19 above. Mad, we are. Utterly mad.

Went back up to the house and listened to the 1944 playlist while I read the paper and had breakfast. 1944 was a bad year for pop; crooners and swoony sugary drivel dominated the top 100, and that makes for an interesting hypothesis: did people somehow feel free to dream again, to get loose and mellow and silly and sappy? The hard muscular cheer of the early 40s swing had a whup-the-Axis undercurrent; this stuff seems to look forward to a post-whupped-Axis world. One of the tunes, “Song of the Trees,” is so creepily banal it sounds like something you’d hear on the radio in some alternative universe where FDR died and State Radio played anodyne instrumentals while the inner circle got down to purging and shooting. I turned it off and listened to talk radio around nine – a local show - Bob Davis, who does not make my blood feel all pestered and cranky.

National issues do not have the usual appeal at the moment. It is hard to describe how little I care about presidential handicapping at this point. It’s going to be Guiliani / Rice v. Gore / Obama. Move along, please.

I did housework and archiving and thought about the column I’d write; I had lunch and wrote the column. All obligations were done by 2 PM, so I sat down and did a Diner. Picked up Gnat from school; home for homework. “List four things you do inside the house to help the family.” She hunched her shoulders and grinned her uh-oh smile. We managed to come up with four, anyway. “List four things you do outside the house to help the family.” This was considerably harder. We came up with some theoretical examples in which she carefully restored her sidewalk chalk to its original condition in the container.  Bonus question: “What does it mean to be a family?”

“Well,” she said, “you’re really small and then you come out of Mommy’s butt and then you have parents, and –“

“No, that’s not it,” I said, thinking: we need to have a talk, eventually. We finished the homework, did the piano,  and then she was released from her obligations.

The evening was spent on a few projects, one of which was the conclusion of the Brazilian money update. Link follows. I also scanned a few items I do not ever want to see, again. are some items which cannot be categorized. They have value, but I can’t see how they’ll ever come in handy. They could have been included in a box I stuck deep under the stairs last week, but since I’m not inclined to get the box out again, and since the item isn’t really that important – dad fishing in 1995, for example – I will put it in the misfit-remora pile. Today I just swept it all into another box and put it in the storage room. I DO NOT NEED INSTANT ACCESS TO A 1965 SAVINGS BOND STAMP FOLDER OR 1967 SUPERVALUE SEWING KIT. Give it up.

Anyway, it’s a 1971 Green Lantern / Green Arrow comic. I don’t know what I have it; I never bought DC. The main story – with remarkable art by Neal Adams – concerns Drugs, as you’ll see in a few inches. The reprint reminded me of every reason that DC gave me the creeps. Green Lantern, it seems, could use his ring to form any object. All the important civilized planets had Green Lantern guys. This comic concerns a conclave of Lanternites who are trapped by their Arch Enemy, Sinestro, in a yellow dome (they are powerless against yellow, I learned. Makes sense. Sort of like Superman’s powers being sapped whenever he’s in a place where they speak Portugese.) Sinestro floods the dome with chlorine gas, which naturally leads to this scenario:

The other Lantern fellers are blowing the gas away while our Green Lantern fashions a tube to condense his breath into water vapor, which will defeat chlorine.

Let us examine the alien Lanterns:



From a planet where the phrase “Neither Fish nor fowl” makes no sense. I love the fact that he wears a mask; God knows if he showed up in Times Square he’d have to have some way to conceal his identity. Then there’s this fellow:





This is why DC creeped me out: bad ideas explicitly delineated with hallucinogenic force. This is a Green Lantern from a planet where plant life has become sentient. He’s a biped with hands and abdominal mucles and opposable thumbs and a symmetric body, but evolution gave him the head of a turnip. Needless to say, he speaks English. As does this gentleman:





At what point, you have to wonder, does evolution bestow hair on a crystal? To what purpose, exactly? Ooh! He has 13 senses! The number of mystery! He can sense colors in Dimension X-9! Please.

Our hero successfully condenses the water while a talkative comrade helpfully describes the science:






But what to do with the water now? If you have to ask, you’re not Green Lantern material!

That’s right! A table fan, presumably one with all the internal machinery of the real thing. But no cord.

Conjuring up something more immediately efficacious – like, oh, a BUCKET OF WATER – doesn’t occur to him, I guess.

But the real draw was the Shocking Cover Story. And here it is:


Yes, his ward is on drugs. It's such a shock he doesn't even notice how someone shot a flare gun at the back of his head. Does anyone have a ward anymore? It was common in '71 for courts to award custody of minor boys to unrelated single men who run around at night in tights shooting criminals with arrows, but I think that’s changed. I blame judicial activists.

New Brazil, as noted, plus the Quirk. See you tomorrow.