Time to wake up, sir.

Time to wake up, sir.

Time to wake up, sir.

It worked. The first test of the Andromeda Strain Alarm Clock was a success. I’m considering an entire line of movie-inspired alarm clocks, including R. Lee Emrey from “Full Metal Jacket,” banging a baton in a trash can and commanding me to drop one thing and grab another, if you know what I mean. The alarm volume rises gradually, which might affect dreams in interesting ways. The other morning I had a great dream of some long-lost noir movie -  Humphrey Bogart in a machine-gun shootout. Underwater. Everyone had suits and hats and shoes on, too. The ties floated behind them as they fired their underwater tommy guns. It certainly beat the previous night’s dream, in which my car was stolen and I went directly to a voodoo specialist to put a hex on the thief. She made me drink a sugary liquid while she held my keys in a candle flame.

Gee, one of these days I might actually dream about sex.

At the risk of cementing my reputation among the Young and Vital as a laughably inert antiquarian, I must admit that I not only spent 30 minutes prying staples from matchbooks this morning, but that I enjoyed it. I have some time set aside in the morning for archiving, and this month it’s the pry-and-iron project. See, after I’ve removed the matches, I iron the books flat. When I’m done I have a nice neat stack of warm matchbook covers, bound by a rubber band. Eventually they’ll all go into plastic sleeves in a binder. Doing my part to make the estate sale go well!

But of course there was more to the day than that. So much more. In the morning I marshaled my BestBuy Xmas gift cards, RewardZone coupons and cards,  and prepared to speed to the store to get a new receiver. For four years I’ve dealt with a Panasonic combo unit – VHS and DVD plus receiver. It has a unique function which eliminates the vocal track from DVDs. Very handy if you’re having your own home karaoke showing of “Rocky Horror,” but otherwise the only purpose is to make wife or child ask me to get the voices back. I have showed them how to fix this – hold shift and push this button – but the lesson has never stuck. Why should it? Why the devil should anyone have a fargin’ SHIFT KEY on their remote? I was all set to go, but then I realized that this entire spasm of upgrade fever had been occasioned by a coupon I got in the mail: Twelve percent off! Sale ends Monday! The coupon had sent me to BestBuy on Sunday, where I’d priced out various items with the help of a salesman who, swear to God, made Gomer Pyle look like Dennis Miller. (Or, as Dennis Miller might put it, made Hulk Hogan look like Aristophanes after a Benzedrine enema.) His expert commentary boiled down to “this button makes the front light up all purty-like,” but it was a good unit and the price would be covered by the gift cards.

On the other hand, what the hell was I doing? So the sale ended today. Electronic equipment sales are like busses: there’s always one plunging off a ravine in India. And after that, another one will be along. Besides, it didn’t solve the problem of the Proprietary Subwoofer Cord Interface, about which I will say more when I’ve truly exhausted all possible material. So I stood down. Got out the knife. Did a few more matches.

Wrote two columns, went to the office. Can’t tell the mood; it’s tentative but expectant. Nervous but unsettled. Dedicated, yet committed.

Picked Gnat up at school. First day back. I waited in the lobby, hoping her day had been more productive than mine. Chances are it had been; at the very least, she’d done math. My math consisted of driving past a Powerball sign and reminding myself of the odds. I picked her up, drank in her great happy grin, and out we went. On the way through the doors I passed two moms who hadn’t seen each other since the break; one said Hiiiiiiiiii! in a tone that rose up nine octaves and descended eleven, and the other responded with Hiiiiiiiiiiiii! in the same fashion. I smiled, thinking of how the sexes greet one another in such different fashions. With most guys I know it’s like this:

Guy One: Hey.

Guy Two: Hey.

And that’s it. Maybe a brief jut of the chin if it’s been a while. But the Hiiiiiiii! is uniquely female.

Gnat looked at me and asked “why are you smiling? What’s so funny?”

“Nothing,” I said. “It was just the way those women said hi.”

“HEY,” she said. “I’m a women.”

“That you is.”

“And boys can be silly. Men can be silly.”

“Absolutely true.”

It’s interesting – lately she’s been asking if I would have been happy having a son. There’s no insecurity in the question; she knows the answer, and gets a warm glow just asking. I tell her I would have been happy with either, but then I admit that I was happy to have a girl, and happier even more to have her. She blushes and grins and critiques boys (loud, silly) then assures me that I am not like that. Except when I’m silly of course.

In the end it’s not what you say, anyway. It’s the behavior you model. Treat Mommy with love and respect, and that does more for the kid’s worldview than rolling out rote pat noble boilerplate while treating women like shrews.

I hope today’s  site looks better – many complaints about yesterday’s layout. I preview this thing in many browsers, but can never quite tell what will happen. Sorry. Also, I have heard the Voice of the People, and will add different sizes and colors to the T-shirt line ASAP. Thanks for the input! Now I have a column to write, and must leave you with a postcard portfolio picture. Not because it’s relevant to anything, but I was sorting through folders today and came across a collection I’d scanned and forgotten. Seattle, this one’s for you:

I hope the damage cause by the inexorable march of the capital letters has been repaired. Note to future urban publicists: "Vicinity" is not a pulse-quickening word. It's a word black-and-white policemen say into crude heavy microphones. Ditto for "environs." No one ever hails a cab, tells the driver he's new in town, and barks "I need a good time. Take me to the environs."

Don’t forget the Motor City!

Underpopulated region of the southwestern portion of the Dakota Dominion, put your hands in the air like you just don’t care, and could not possibly entertain an argument, however well constructed, that suggests you should!

I got a million of ‘em. You should all hope I lose my job; I’ll have nothing to do but scan and post.

See you tomorrow.