You know, there’s nothing wrong with Merlot. That damned “Sideways” movie just made it difficult to drink without fear that someone will kick down the door, slap it out of your hand and make you drink something earthier, with notes of berry, fir, paper, turnip, and the digestive lubricant of the common weevil. I like earthy wines, but when someone gives you a merlot, you ought to drink it. Eventually.

I am going through my wine cellar, starting from oldest to newest (see? I’m not a total novice), just to clear out the stuff before it converts to vinegar. I know, I know: it improves with age. Except when it doesn’t, and gets ruined by temperature variations. I should note that the “cellar” is the downstairs storage closet – an excellent room for storing wine, but probably a little too cool. Or hot. I don’t know. I do know that I pulled out a white a while ago, and the stuff in the bottle would cut through the deck of the Nostromo. Then again, I bought it for the usual sensible, informed reasons:

It was on sale

I liked the label

I’ve said this before, but I’m convinced that label design is the single greatest factor in impulse wine sales. There’s a wine called “Barefoot,” and I’ll never buy it, simply because the picture on the bottle makes you think of someone’s foot squishing the grapes. I know it’s a fine honored old-country tradition, but if there is one item I do not want as the intermediary between the grape and my mouth, it is someone else’s foot. Usually I drink Australian wine – Penfold’s, to be specific, because the label had a classic old font and a severe, dignified layout. It looked like something they’d pull out in an English club in 1947.


You may note that the image atop the page has changed. It was this:

Through the miracle of distributed intelligence, a reader of this site in Frankfort, KY, noted the old postcard image I used for the weekly graphic, and took it upon himself to send me photos of the place today.

Amazing, I say. And wonderful. To make my day, he also sent along the sign:

It provides an inadvertent contrast; say the words aloud, and you can tell something about the culture from which they came. Sunrise tanning is soft and smooth and soothing; Charcoal Steaks, Cocktail Lounge sounds like someone jamming a magazine in a firearm. (Big, big thanks to Bleatnik Frank D. of the fine state of Kentucky.)

Gnat is asleep on the couch, ahead of schedule. Wife’s at Bunco. We went to Chuck E. Cheese’s tonight, as usual, and had a great time – as usual. But. I hit the high score on the skee-ball, and it did not produce 100 tickets, as was promised. I felt someone silly asking a manager to pay up, since it is a kid’s game, but on the other hand, I was owed 100 tickets. I also had to inform him that the MegaJolt Movie Ride Theater Extravaganza Horror-House Ride, or whatever the thing was called, was showing the Blue Screen of Death. Which is frightening enough, but not worth a quarter. Also the left flipper on the pinball machine was dead. And there was no paper in the men’s room, and by paper I mean the coarse, bleached variety used to dry, and chap, one’s hands. And the waitress forgot the milk. On second thought, give me 200 tickets.

Gnat played her favorite game, a virtual reality shooter.


She’s good at knocking down alien vessels. On the way to Chuck’s, and the way back, we discussed Pokemon. She is totally into Pokemon.

“What do they do?”

“Well they collect them, and train them.”

“But they fight, don’t they?

“Well they have battles to use their powers.”

“What were they doing before they were caught?”

“I don’t know. Living in the forest, I guess.”

“So this Ash guy captures them, and trains them to fight each other? Wouldn’t they be happier just living alone?”

“Well they can help solve problems, too.”

I still think it sounds cruel. On behalf of parents everywhere, let us form People for the Ethical Treatment of Pokemons! Ban this trade in suffering and slavery!

We discussed her favorites, which are Cute, and which ones are evil. Only one is evil, and that would be Mewth 2. (I think that’s the name.)

“He can read minds, and when he talks his mouth doesn’t move.”

I wanted to say that he had the Power To Cut Down on Animation Costs, but kept it to myself.


By later, I mean I got sucked into a YouTube vortex. You start with one Russian Tunnel Crash Compilation, and that’s the end of your productivity for half an hour.

She’s still asleep. Good. She needs it. Tomorrow is a busy day; ground to scratch, eggs to lay. (That’s next week’s song, I think.)


Anyway. Before Chuck E.’s, I did an early appearance on the Hewitt show, re: the NBC decision to air the tapes. I think it was ill-advised. For that matter I was appalled by the picture in my very own paper this morn – a big picture of he-who-shall-not-be-named glowering from the top of the page, arms outstretched, guns in hand. To repeat what I said on the air: this gives him all the power he lacked in life. I blame “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” he said, not entirely meaning it. But that movie was a perfect example of the way the Boomers inverted every lesson they’d been handed: crazy people are actually saner than sane people, who are bundles of repression. One man’s madness is another man’s genius! Once upon a time, crazy was crazy; you could put out a song called “They’re Coming to Take Me Away,” and everyone knew what you meant. Now the response would be different: who’s coming? Take you where?

She’s awake! And disconsolate. I rented her a Pokemon movie, but the disc contains more fatal errors than a Russian tunnel, and wouldn’t load. I consoled her by checking the TiVo schedule for Pokeman shows; there are only 83,924 upcoming episodes. I got her  a season pass, and that helped. Then I made hot chocolate. All is well. But we have to go up for a bath and bed soon.

Just a note to some who minsunderstood what I wrote the other day: I quit the Newhouse column, which is different than the Star Tribune column. I have no intention of quitting the Strib. Ever. Even if I won the lottery, I’d write for them; it was always my goal to have a newspaper column in the local paper, and having attained it, I have no desire to give it up. If I ever announce the end of that gig, it’s because the Reaper moved through the newsroom and laid a bony hand on my shoulder. Which is one of the reasons I write mostly from home. Hah hah! Fine me, Bony McTerminus!

Let’s see. What else. J-Pod, at the Corner, used the last “Lost” episode to prove that the show has jumped the shark. I can’t agree. Then again, I’ve always watched the show expecting more mystery than resolution. I think the X-Files comparisons are misguided. First of all: the X-Files central mystery, in retrospect, was never a mystery. We all knew there were aliens, and there was a government cover-up. For the first few seasons it was a matter of finding out who knew what, when they knew it, and what they’d conspired to do. It all went to hell because the central mystery really wasn’t, and the writers had to pile on details that suggested a Greater Mystery – but it was all about logistics, really. Bees, smallpox, black oil, enforcer aliens, et cetera. We still don’t know the great Why of the Island. At this point I’m not sure I need to know, either. I didn’t have to know the exact longitude and latitude of the Red Room in Twin Peaks to enjoy the show.

Although if it turns out to be a dream in the head of an actor who’s napping on the set of “St. Elsewhere” between takes, I’ll really be irritated.

Well, I feel as if I should do some more here, somehow; the week feels light. But I'm done. There's a Quirk, the weekly Joe Ohio, (if you missed it, last week's installment is here) and a Diner podcast. It takes place in 1967, and has the most curious commercials I've ever found. This was another one-afternoon rush-job, and lacks the Diner ambience, as with the others in the hurtling-back-through-time series. Then again, I am hurtling back through time every 33 minutes, so what can you expect. (MP3 version, downloadable and portable but without the art, is here.)

Now to watch "Battlestar Galactica." I fell behind a long time ago, and now I'm starting anew with the second season. Have a grand weekend, and I'll see you Monday!




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