24” update at the bottom of the page today.

Uh – that was Dinah Shore, not Doris Day. I blame my sources at Insight magazine!

Monday was the worst day of the year, according to some half-baked thesis cooked up by some fellow in a University in Great Britain. I found that story interesting, because A) I had received a press release for a book – a compendium of catastrophes, one of those breezy useless books that gravitates to the top of the toilet tank within six hours of purchase  - and the letter noted that Wednesday the worst day, and B) I had already written a column for Wednesday on the very subject. Some clever rewriting saved the column, though. (I added an update at the end that said, essentially, NEVER MIND.) I imagine the person who sent out the press release was peeved, though.It’s nonsense, anyway. If you didn’t pile on the debt over Christmas or make any foolish resolutions, the day sailed past like they all do, and if the weather was dank and the skies painted with leaden gloomy, well, consider yourself lucky: every day rolls us farther away from days like these, and into the warm kiss of spring.

He said, staring out the window at the most godless expanse of lifeless, monochromatic scenery one can see outside of a 1930s Walker Evans photo. Of the Antarctic.

The day began well; I was cheerful and well-rested, and Gnat was mulish and tired. This led to a fit of obstinacy regarding the wearing of boots. Said boots were thus removed by me while I gave off incandescent waves of quiet displeasure. The parent’s greatest weapon: silence. As long as you’re talking, kids figure they have a chance. When you say nothing, they know they’re deep down the well. It’s not that the boots must go on because I say the boots must go on; it’s the fact that it’s cold and the snow drifts are high and my request was not fashioned from a deep reservoir of cruelty that manifests itself in capricious footwear fatwas. I might have bent if she hadn’t stamped her feet. As it was we walked to the bus stop without saying much, and when we came to a drift I said, in a level tone, “See, here’s where boots come in handy.”

“Gulp,” she said.

She actually said “gulp.”

It’s all a matter of tone. Kids naturally wheedle and whine, and trying to remove that sound is like teaching fish to swim backwards.

I’ve been working at home, although it wasn’t my intention. Meant to go to the office, but by the time I finished with the columns (three today) there wasn’t much point and not much time. So I’m picking through the mail and trying to ignore Twitter and eyeing the new receiver, which just showed up from Amazon. It has all the inputs a modern person needs. It replaces a lousy combo unit that once played VHS tapes, back before I banished them by executive order. Unfortunately, the combo unit has a special proprietary plug for the subwoofer. Fortunately, I have another subwoofer in the basement, so I can swap them out. The result will not be theater-quality sound, but I can live with the shame.

Just realized something of even lesser interest than the revelations provided in the paragraph above: all the speakers in the house are tiny. So? You say. Well, once upon a time a man was judged by the sheer bulk of his speakers – you’d walk into a single guy’s apartment and find these giant wood-and-fabric monoliths. Tombstones by Dior. The guys who had these fancy systems usually had exquisitely hip tastes (Steely Dan! Weather Report!), but sometimes they were just headbangers who wanted brute force. These were also known as the guys who lived upstairs. The ones who’d start the REO Speedwagon the moment they got up – which, thankfully, was usually around one PM. I’m sure lots of people still have speakers the size of Sub Zero industrial refrigerators, but I’d prefer to trade size for that incremental fraction of audio fidelity.  

Sigh: the letters I’ll get on this. Okay, I’ll make it worse: I have a Bose system. This makes some people spitting mad. It’s the Apple of speakers! Overhyped and overpriced! You need to get these, which have tweeters so well-balanced you can hear a butterfly hiccup in the balcony during a live performance of Berlioz’ Tuba Mirum during a hurricane.

Later: It’s time for “24.” Hour Five. When we last left Jack Bauer, he had just finished throwing up (what did he leave, anyway? No one eats anything on this show) after shooting his most trusted comrade to save Yasser Arafat Jr., after which Jack looked up and saw a mushroom cloud, putting the cap on his first four hours back on the job. On the plus side, he got the best shave of his life: all that hair, and not a nick or a rash.

Note: the code name for the bomb is “visitor.” The Reformed Terrorist is played by Alexander Siddig, who was married for four years to Nana Visitor, the actress who played the brusque butch Bajoran on Star Trek. Additional note: he was born in Sudan, and his mother is the sister of Malcolm McDowell. Additional note: He had a child with Nana; they named the boy Django. Which is cool. Except that his name is now Django Siddig-Visitor, which might as well be Bingo Digdug-Wysiwyg. Sounds cool, though. If he dumped her, he’s a dolt. But that’s my own preference, I suppose.

Anyway! Let’s make the popcorn (100 Calorie bag of Zombiebacher) and begin.

00:01 The voice over guy who says “viewer discretion is advised”  sounds like he’s trying to sell a 13-year old to a sex-slave ring. They really ought to redo that.

How many Palmers are there? We never met the sister before. What is the status of the nation’s Strategic Palmer Reserve, in case President Palmer the Second dies?

00:02 I’m sorry, but if ever we’re nuked I don’t want everyone in the Oval Office to stop what they’re doing and watch Fox News.

00:05 We have left the Oval Office and moved to the bunker, which provides many more interesting camera angles.

 00:16 All the major characters have checked in. Chloe is working, although 38% of her mental CPU is processing this season’s deaths; Morris, the series’ most empathetic suppository, is opening up a channel or mounting a volume. Spiky-haired dude appears to have wet himself; Bill Buchanan is Steely and Resolute, and Jack just rescued Arnie Pye from a traffic helicopter. We have met the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one of whom went into a trance and channeled Curtis LeMay, and we’ve met a fellow named McCarthy who’s helping the terrorists.  I expect the Council on American-Irish Relations to lodge a protest tomorrow. Note: the President has the same laptop I’m using for this. Because Macs are cool.

00:18 Bill Buchanan does not shake Arafat Jr’s hand. Meaning, they’ll shake hands later. Now to the conference room, where Morris is plugging cords into what appears to be the world’s largest guitar pedal.

00:21 The suitcase nukes came from a Russian general? Good Lord, the Council on American Impresssons of Russia will pitch a fit tomorrow.

00:25 Jack has a father who had contact with the Russian general.
I’m guessing they’re estranged. It is quite likely the phrase “after your mother died” will be spoke in the next few hours. Upside: Oepidal showdown tentatively penciled in for the seventh hour, with lots of pained shouting at gunpoint. Downside: Kim reappears and shouts “Don’t hurt Grandpa, Dad! I hate you!”

00:31 Jack has a BROTHER. By the end of this episode I expect to learn he has a sister, a dog, a fish, and a hamster, each with their own vulnerability to a different color of Kryptonite.

00:31:00 SWEET Smokin’ JUDAS: Jack’s brother is THAT GUY from LAST SEASON. The technocratic scotch-drinking offspring of Jason Alexander and the Voice of Piglet.  I didn’t even know they were dating.

It’s a small world. A small, vicious, irradiated world.

Season six’s extra added bonus: fratricide!

00:33 Commercial with Christopher Lloyd making a pitch for DirecTV inside of the “Back to the Future” movie. Reminded me again how much I love that movie. Top 10. Seriously.

00:38 Mission Accomplished, screenwriters: Jack’s brother is now the guy I most want dead. With that stupid cellphone earpiece he reminds me of that mute fellow who communicated telepathically with Billy Dee Williams in the Cloud City. If you know what I mean.

00:39 Ah: the bad guy's wife and Jack had a thing. Which probably explains why Piglet McBluetooth  turned against his country and set up the president.

00:47 Bill Buchanan shakes hands with Yasser Jr. That was quick. Indicates betrayal in hour eight.

00:53 America wanted to see Piglet McBluetooth decked. Jack Bauer delivers.

00:59 Jack Bauer invents “Dry Waterboarding.”

And thus ends another episode. Tune in next Monday.