Just when you'd given up hope: a "24" update! But first things first.

I got my haircut on Saturday at the same small mall chop-shop, but this time I didn’t get the same pouty little witch I’ve had the last two times. I got one of those talkative types who pauses while cutting to gesture extensively. We talked about kids – she has a son turning nine, and his birthday’s next week, and she’s having 96 people over. Ninety six? Kids? No, no – relatives. All the extended family. Lots of people on her side and lots of people on her husband’s, and lots of kids in both families. Hence the birthdays are big events, and the kids are spoiled beyond reason. (“Seven hundred dollars in cash last year!” she said.) I mention this because she was the daughter of immigrants; her parents came from Laos, her husband’s parents from Cambodia. Her mother had to swim across the river while pregnant to get to a refugee camp to escape to America. And now they’re here; they number 96 and they’re doing well, to say the least.  I love this country.

It’s a busy week. You’d think it wouldn’t be, what with Spring Break, but it doesn’t feel like Spring at all. (It's supposed to snow soon.) As parents know, Spring Break means the kids are home, and those long productive hours you had before vanish in a trice. Add to this a peculiar set of deadlines that has doubled my workload – seriously, folks, I have 14 pieces due this week. FOURTEEN individual discrete pieces. My mood at present:


And that goes for everything happening nowadays. I’m tempted to come up with a McCoy Freakout Scale.

Oh, what the hell. Gnat has a friend over, I’ve already filed two columns and written a third, and I have a few moments.


You've just heard the news, but it can't really be this bad

Crap, it's worse

Holy crap, it's worse than that



If you reach Level Four, proceed directly to "The View" and explain to America how the World Trade Center was broughtdown with explosives cleverly smuggled in disguised as Hostess Fruit Pies. Heck, one of them can make your hips explode; imagine 4000 packed with C-4.

I chose a few items this weekend to post in case things got hectic, and while they’re not exactly overly hectic now, I might as well choke your connection with a few more scanned examples of Ye Olden Times. These are from the Metropolitan Life Insurance company, which put out several billion pamphlets telling people how to live better lives so they wouldn’t make insurance claims. The books are rather dull, but the cover art could be interesting. I especially like this drunk’s-eye view of the passing parade of humanity:

To whom the argyle-socked limb belongs, we may never know. It's in limb-o! Hah. In fact, the more you look at it, the more it resembles a nightmare you’d have if you were a night-watchman in a prosthetic-limb warehouse.

This is lovely:


Lovely, but sad; the man on the left has just realized that his sweetheart has found a new man, who is greeting her with the traditional Romulan salute. This volume was no doubt revised many decades later with the title STAY OUT OF THE SUN FOR GOD’S SAKE. Can’t beat the SPF number on a wool suit.



The books also dealt with common childhood diseases, like Whooping Cough; children were encourage to stay inside, but invite their little friends to stand outside while they played “Dictator” at the window and made long speeches about the need to annex the penny-candy display at Mr. Czerny’s drugstore.





Not so much of this around these days.


"Rickets & Scurvy" sound like a good name for a Renaissance Fair act, though.






Okay, this is just crazy. I wrote another column tonight, which means I will file four tomorrow. And they’re not bad, either; the manic cycle seems to have kicked in. Hello brightness my old friend; I’ve come to talk your frickin’ ear off again! I had intended to write something about the British / Iranian situation, but like so many other things today there’s really nothing to say, because the simple statement of facts contains the essence of the problem, and elaboration is just whittling the wind.

My good dog Jasper just wandered into my studio and grunted and sighed and rolled over. Of course I gave him a scratch; that’s what you do. What a perfect metaphor. Thank you, dog. You show you’re no threat and accept my authority, and I give you a casual reward. We’re used to this; submission repaid with affection and love.

But of course we like dogs.

Back to work. New Quirk, as ever, and a comic book cover. (Sixteen weeks into the regular weekly update: I think this is a keeper.) Tomorrow: ten tons of stuff. Really! Thanks for the visit, and I’ll see you Wednesday.

Oh, right! Sorry. The "24" Report.

Last week: Jack popped the Rooskies and got Brother Savant home in time to watch Wapner; Vice President Tolliver Palpatine ordered a strike on that strange, mysterious nation known as “Fayed’s Home Country,” only to be countermanded when President Palmer the Lesser rolled back the stone and regained full possession of his ability to issue orders with unpersuasive, tentative authority. Meanwhile, Jack is interrogating the hairy Slavic nationalist, only to discover that the bastard watched previous “24” series and knows all about the magical Get Out of Jail pass from the Attorney General. We begin.

Uh oh: it’s a cabinet meeting. Someone actually asks “will Medical testimony be allowed.” If that line doesn’t promise an action-packed episode of medical testifying, I don’t know what does.

UPDATE: VP Tolliver Palpatine seems to making his 25th amendment case on the grounds that Palmer the Lesser is not in his complete right mind, but it would help his case if he could name the nation he intends on nuking. 

UPDATE: Back at CTU, Milo is having a moment with hot irritable non-traitor Nadia, who’s called up to see Ricky Schroeder, who tries to turn her against Milo. As with previous seasons, it’s a clear argument for an intelligence service composed entirely of eunuchs.

UPDATE: the vote is in! It’s a tie. Palmer FTW, no? No! The Veep uses a devilish technicality. There’s another shot of the mysterious blond, whose sketchy, indistinct screen time suggests she is Jack’s half-sister, and thus connected to the conspiracy. You know, The Conspiracy. Whatever the hell that is.

UPDATE: Nadia gets Milo to leave his station by asking him to reset her system codes. In a lesser show, this would be a double-entendre. As a bonus, the scene reveals Ricky to be a spiritual man who combs the religious texts of many cultures in search of an answer, and envies those who have settled upon an answer whose cool steady draughts slakes their thirst. Anyway, he has to get ready to kill some people now, so maybe we could meet for coffee later.

UPDATE: Hairy Rooskie calls Fayed to set up the meet to exchange the protocols. Pardon my language, but do all terrorists attend the Dickweed School of Conversation? How do these guys deal with drive-thru?

Hello, welcome to Happy Burger.

I want the hamburger.

One hamburger. Anything else?

I want it with cheese. And I want it hot.

Hold on . . . okay, that’s one cheeseburger. Anything else?

I want it in paper wrapper with two packets of ketchup. If there is anything else in the bag I will kill you.

So no fries?

(Pause) I will accept some fries. But only a small order. Ten fries, no more. If there are eleven fries the girl dies.

So that’s one cheeseburger one small fries. Anything to drink?

The tears of the enemies of Allah. No ice. 

That’ll be $2.12. Please drive through.

I will meet you at the power plant in ten minutes.

Uh – the food comes out the window ahead, sir, and –

Ten minutes! No more! Or I will see about getting tacos.

UPDATE: Ah ha! Cold Blond Lisa reveals herself. She’s EEEEvil.


UPDATE: Nice to finally see Chloe. She looks like she ducked out over the supper break and put on some evening wear.

Ah, it’s the old meeting at the deserted amusement park.

UPDATE: the signal isn’t moving, which means that Harry Roosky is either standing motionless in the room, or they managed to saw off his arm in complete silence in the 90 seconds that preceded Jack’s entry. I’m going with the sawing.

UPDATE: Yep. Axe not what your country can do for you, axe what you can do for your country. CTU planners roll eyes, think: okay, fine, next time we plant the bug in the nuts. WHATEVER.

UPDATE: “Show me your head.” You really don’t ever want anyone to say that about you, I think.

UPDATE: Harold Russkey pulls a double-cross in a bar, and really: who wouldn’t believe the assertions of a sweaty man clutching a bloody stump? Result: classic American barroom justice, with much righteous kicking. Fayed is in custody. Elsewhere, our Russia friend comes to suspect that trading a presidential pardon for the loss of a limb followed by flight with an international criminal maybe wasn’t the best choice.

UPDATE: The nukes have been launched against Fayed’s Home Country. We can only hope the GPS database isn’t tied into Interpol, and the missiles become confused: do we strike the nation where he was born, the nation where he was schooled as a young man, the nation where he has a summer house, or the nation that funds him?

I assume we’ll find out the answer next week.