Today was hit-the-wall-and-fall-down day. I had it coming. You can’t run around for four days, sleep no more than a parakeet who’s been gnawing on a cuttlebone whittled out of crack, and not get tired at some point. Really tired. I made it worse by staying up until 2 AM with that consarned “24” update, but some of you like it, and this isn’t the time to start throttling back content, or sitting around looking despondently at my shoes. (They are, however, good shoes. In fact for the first time in years I actually like looking at my shoes. And wouldn’t you know: I can’t. Or rather shouldn't.) But this morning: the bees in my head were gone. Which either means I’m settling down, or the bees were killed by fungus, cellphone radiation, or whatever else has decimated the li’l pollinators.
That bee-death story will probably turn out to be less worrisome than some fear, incidentally. I was never particularly worried about that Albert Einstein quote – you know, if the bees all die we’ll have no food in four years, and will have to make honey from subatomic particles , or something. I doubt he said that, anyway; someone just hung the quote on the hook of his name. It’s like asking Werner Von Braun about tropical fish. Not his specialty. (I said that just to make many people rush off and google Werner + Von + Braun + tropical + fish. Hey, I would.) I think one of the reasons people don’t think much about Bee Loss is because the little bastards have been stinging us all our lives, and they hurt, and well, here’s a nice stamen full of payback. Suck it up, Jabby.
After I did some work-related work I went to work to drop off the work-related work. Then I wandered around and talked to people. The mood is, shall we say, subdued. Imagine if you were deaf, standing next to a freshly-struck gong: like that. On the other hand, it’s made comrades of us all, and I don’t mean that in the seize-the-Potemkin sense; no one has declared a Soviet, grabbed the PA system and announced to great rejoicing that the security guards have joined our cause. No, it means you find yourself doing more than trading pleasantries. Last week you chatted about nothing; today you’re putting hands on foreheads to check emotional temperatures. It’s odd: you talk to some folk about the immediate future, and they’ll give you a half-smile and look away, as if seeing something on the other side of the horizon. What they see, you don’t ask. But I’ll tell you this: the day in Arizona I saw that the paper had been sold, I figured I was dead. Like many, I’ve been waiting for the shoe to drop, and now it has. There’s relief in that.
But man, what a big damn shoe.
Went to the store, got groceries. Forgot half the bags at the store. Got Gnat from the bus stop; went back. Home to do homework and read the latest Highlights magazine; it's one of our favorite things. She does Goofus and Gallant; I try to refrain from pointing out how Gallant may actually be motivated by the desire to craft a compliant persona that will deflect all suspicion when he starts lighting fires. We read the Timbertoes, find the hidden pictures, read the jokes - all of which are so dim and flat they require explication, which may drain the moment of amusement but provides instruction on the delicate, subjective nature of humor - and then we do the Brain Page. Thirty open-ended questions. I fell asleep during #29, excused myself, and took a nap.
The dog woke me up after three minutes. He was whining about something. Or maybe everything. Well, it was too early for supper, and he'd already been let out for his excretions when we got home. He jumped up on the bed, settled with a great sigh, and breathed heavily through his nose. Then he gave a questioning whine, rolled over, and grunted. A few more soft whines through the nose. Jasper, please. He fell silent again, then got up, clacked down the hallway, found a nice spot of carpet, and I heard the dreaded sound: gloarg gloarg GLOARG GLOARG
Oh, shoot. I went to the spare room, and discovered he'd thrown up a stick the size of those jumbo novelty pencils sold in gift shops. I felt horrible, and apologized. He'd been trying to tell me needed to go out and hurl, because hurling in the den went against His Beliefs.
Compared to us they know little, but the things they know they know for certain.
Well, I have to write two pieces now – the last column needs to be run through the deMaudlinizer, and I have to complete an essay on the 30th anniversary of Star Wars. I hope to get to some other things tonight; I did a Diner this morning, and it’s a damned loopy thing. I still think it’s hilarious how this turned out – when I started this sequence a few months ago I intended it to be an obvious comment on downsizing and corporate uncertainty. I mean, please: the Diner’s been sold, what does that mean? Not exactly the most artfully concealed metaphor. Well, it’s coming to a conclusion – this episode, then the 1927 one, and five months of homebrew radio will conclude with an audio punchline that’s been right in plain view all along.
Blah, blah, et cetera, whatevs. Back to work; more in a bit. Oh: there's this. While walking around downtown yesterday looking like a nutjob, I took many pictures. With my magic pretend camera! It looks like a Hostess Fruit Pie.
Actually, with my new tiny Sony, which I use for those Kodak moments. This is my favorite sign downtown:
Every Minneapolitan of a certain age has a Peter's Grill story, and one day soon I'll tell mine.
You know, I think I have a new definition for being “with it,” or “in the know.” Those who have the inside track on memes already knew that David Hasselhoff was filmed, by his daughter, eating a Wendy’s burger while suffering from a very bad case of booze-assisted stumble-tongue. Those of us in the next circle learned about this development from an aggregator site, and contented ourselves with the knowledge that there were already spoof replies to the video on You Tube. If someone asks, we can say we not only knew about the clip, we were so jaded that we were bored about talking about the spoofs. Jeez, move along! News flash, Alec Baldwin is a bad dad too, oh, and the Austro-Hungarian empire no longer exists. Dude.
I think the internet news cycle is about 129 minutes right now.
It reminds me: backstage at Orchestra Hall on Sunday I was talking to two young people, both very bright. High schoolers. One male, one female. I asked them if they read newspapers; they did not. They read online sites, but picking up the old paper blanket? No. The young woman also read the Economist, on the urging of a family friend who was in Cambodia, and sent her links to many European papers. She liked the European press, because the bias was open. She didn’t believe in objectivity, and preferred to read source that didn’t pretend, and linked to primary sources.
There’s not a damn thing we can do to get them to buy the paper paper on a regular basis. We can't get them back, because we never had them in the first place.
This morning I was talking to my neighbor, waiting for the bus. We were discussing the problems with the Strib. (You may have heard about it; I confess to alluding to the subject here and there.) He was sympathetic, having suffered through his own industry shakeout a while ago. I asked him where he got his news. “I get headlines on my cell,” he said. “I read it while I’m driving. I suppose I shouldn’t.”
I never considered that. Oy. So for casual consumers of news, even the daily summation placed on the doorstep is too much; they want 14 words beamed to the palm of their hand, glanced at when the highway traffic slows.
Well. I’m pleased to repeat that Gnat reads the paper. She reads the weather page. It fascinates her. She can find cities she knows, read the forecast, tell the temp of the country from the colors. You could do all that on the internet, but you can’t mop up the spilled milk with the B-section.
Added value for the product! We’re absorbent!
Maybe she reads the paper because she sees us read the paper. I know I still start the day with the paper; I don’t flip open the laptop until I’ve read the entire Metro section. It’s the first connection I have with the news of the day: local stuff. And it’s the last connection I have with local stuff, too. Three minutes after I open the laptop I’m laughing at the work of a brilliant Australian columnist. And not just because he enjoyed a famous Jasperwood Skillet Breakfast a few years ago. Hell, it was just eggs and pepper cheese. And some Lawry’s seasoned salt.
It was a good meal, though. I think you could market it as a topical hangover cure.
Well, that was a rambling entry. Guess this isn’t the day to pitch a new subscription model, then.
This week's Bleat Radio Theater, chosen without preview from a run of a show I loved very much, is Philip Marlowe. At first I didn't like the show; didn't seem Marlowesque, but everyone has their own notion of the character. Now I think it's old radio at its finest. The actor is Gerald Mohr - a fantastic radio actor who played many roles, including Reed Richards in the cartoon version of "The Fantastic Four." The year in 1948. Enjoy! And I'll see you tomorrow. Oh - new Quirk. First of the last three. Just typing the URL gives me triste.
That's Old French for "reality."