Gnat explained to me today that if she did poorly on the spelling test, it might be the fault of Friday the Thirteenth. All the kids are abuzz about it, because it’s Bad Luck.

There’s no such thing as bad luck, I said.

Uh huh there is.

No. There’s no such thing. If something doesn’t work out, or something bad happens, it’s not because of bad luck. It’s because of something real. Luck is an excuse.

Well Faith said –

I don’t care. Do you really think tomorrow is bad luck?


Then we’d better not go to the pizza store, because the ceiling could fall! Or they could put snail feet in the sauce!


And we’d better not get on the bus, because it could be attacked by buzzards. That would be bad luck.


And we’d better not study for the spelling test, because we might poke our eye out with a pencil. Bad luck!


Well, you see what I mean.


So what do I mean?

There’s no such thing as luck, she said, disappointed.

That’s right. Because it’s up to you. You make your own luck. I know it’s hard to give up thinking about good luck, but that means you don’t have to worry about bad luck.

She brightened. This was good news.

So let’s study the spelling words!

And that was the bad news, I guess.

Today is the Sneezy Day. Could be worse. Sneezing is actually a pleasant thing, if it’s not incessant or accompanied by profuse nasal flow. A good full-body sneeze encromulates the frame, as the poet said; it shakes the bony rafters, and reminds you of a satisfying clap of thunder that cleaves the air, gives it a brisk tingly charge. Of course, you don’t have to wipe thunder off your computer screen.

Since I had a dial-tone brain today I just rejiggered sites over and over again; as usual, designs that seemed peachy a year ago bug the hell out of me now. Around eleven AM I remembered that I had not one but two columns due, so I got down to it. Wrote two columns, thus earning my right to reside on the good side of the dirt. (I feel horrible whenever a day passes without something written; it goes back, way back, to college days when I felt as though my entire life consisted of dogpaddling in a deep trough of aimlessness, of learning without useful application. So I’d write. At the end of the day, I’d have something to prove I hadn’t just floated through my mortal allotment with nothing to show for it but a bruise on my palm from crasting the corner of the Eight-Ball Deluxe machine.

(Man, what I wouldn’t give to have that machine in my basement. Right now. It just pains me that pinball is dead. Oh, I’ll find machines here and there, but they’re always damaged or dark, shrines for a cult religion. There’s one at Chuck E. Cheese’s – Rollercoaster Tycoon, of all things – and I’ve put it in its place a few times. It’s the only machine in the joint that gives you a free play. Everything else expects another coin. Even if you do well, it expects another coin. At some point people were trained to expect their excellence to be repaid with nothing more than the opportunity to enter their initials.

I was a good pinball player. I wasn’t the best, but I was good enough. I could transfer the ball from one flipper to the next; I could wiggle a ball from the drain, nudge the table enough to move the ball from the B to the A slot, make those life-changing flipper saves that require split-second coordination. I was in the B leagues, though. I was always trying to convince the machine, which is a sign of an B-leaguer. The A-leaguers dominated the machines. [The C-leaguers begged it and fought it.] My old droogs from the Valli will probably dispute my evaluation, but the A-leaguers were Rick Hargis, who worked a machine like the snake worked Eve, and Homeboy Mike, who just beat the tables up. He also perfected the drop-back cash-box kick, wherein a particularly evil drain would earn the machine a boot in the front – a blow that blanked the table’s brain and made it reset. It was annoying if you were playing four on a table, and had a good game going, but on the other hand it was remarkably cathartic; it was almost a kung-fu move, fluid and fast. One second the ball was in play; the next it had drained; then Mike would reel back and plant a boot in the silver front with such force you heard all the captured quarters quake in fear.


Anyway, I wrote every day. Even if it was about pinball.

A few pictures to pad out the end of the week, since I’m very interested in the sofa and popcorn and TV and eventual bed. (Last night, after “Lost,” I looked at some “Night Gallery” episodes the TiVo had recorded. Ugh. I felt sorry for Sterling, having to promote the sort of witchy-warlock / ESP crap that was all the rage, post-Rosemary’s Baby.  One more sin we can heap at the feet of the low end of the 60s counterculture: all that Satanist-chic shite.) There’s an acronym called FUD; it means “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt,” and it’s a sarcastic term thrown at people trying to muddy the waters or recruit others to their nervous-nellie worldview.

Well, it’s also a cheese!

Observed the other day while leaving an inner-city parking lot:

Somehow I don’t think the builders of this house thought this would be its eventual form. At some point it was rezoned for commercial; the lower floors were redone by Amontillado Masonry, Inc, and the upper-floor addition windows were remade in the modern style. Odd how one has bars, and the other doesn’t. I wonder who looked out that attic window, which you can barely see; it looks right at the magnificent tower of the old Sears department store, and I imagine a few children over the years sat behind that window at Christmastime, watching the snow, looking up, and dreaming . . but that was before the house was put in prison. Now it’s literally in house arrest.

Whatever that means. I'm fading, fast. Here’s something I’ve been meaning to post for a while. Frames from an online ad. The animation concerns a father with a baby, and the baby urinates. Bleatnik Test: what irritates me about this sequence?

Men are useless and unnerved when it comes to leaky diapers. Ah don’ know nuthin’ ‘bout blottin’ no micturashun! Even if we accept the Clueless Male stereotype, the idea that men want to cry about it is absurd. It’s an advertant message to guys, though: even if they sufficiently internalize everything the New Man is supposed to do, right down to promiscuous weeping over life’s little crises,  you’ll still be held up as useless dolt because you want to cry over leaky diapers. Would they use the same copy for a situation that had a Mom?

I’m a member of an oppressed and misunderstood group! Booyah!

I’m also done for the week. Here’s a link you didn’t expect: Patriotica. I love this site, and look forward to adding more. Oh, and new Quirk, of course. And there’s also 33 minutes of Diner available for your pleasure: we continue hurtling back through time to save the Diner from its new investment-group owners. We have paused for half an hour in 1977. Lots of horribly familiar music. (iTunes subscribers got this two days ago, so sign up if you want them hot off the nickel-plated griddle.) If it doesn't work - and I'm about ready to toss Veoh, alas - the MP3 is here. But! This Mp4 link has the fancy embedded art that enhances the experience 17% more, though.

Thanks for coming by this week, as always. While I was fixing and redesigning and rejiggering stuff today, I realized that this site is just my favorite creation ever, for all its faults. And I think it’s better than it’s ever been. But that’s probably the Zinc talking. See you Monday!