Amazon Honor System

Blogging! It does a body good. I haven’t had this much fun on the internets in years – already feels like home, and I thank everyone who’s dropped by. Traffic is up. WAY up. Tell your friends, and visit it all day long. I don’t mean to turn the Bleat into a behind-the-scenes thing about another website, but it is The Thing That Occupies My Brain To the Exclusion of All Else at the moment, so forgive me. The pattern seems to be this: an introductory morning post to salute everyone who hits it when they get to work; a slab of meat around ten, some snacks in the morning, another big chunk for lunchtime, lighter, less consequential links in the afternoon, and something entirely irrelevant in the evening. Podcasts will start soon – I have an idea for tonight, for that matter. We’ll see. I’ve hit my own goals for the week: I’ve established a pattern, uploaded pictures and audio, and found my voice. It was over there, in a box, behind the sofa.

It’s been a strange, hot day – bullying wind, threats of storms, rumors of funnels in the margins of the metro. In the end, nothing.  I’m oddly disappointed; I like big noisy storms. Gigantic sky-splitting bolts, rumbling thunder you can feel in your diaphragm. 

This morning I went down to the storage room to get some old journals; I was looking for a series of books I wrote in the early 80s. Filled with the usual mewlings, I’m sure. How I want to burn them. For a year or two I cut out the daily quotes from a page-a-day calendar, and I thought I’d use them for the’s daily quote feature. (Which I just invented for the hell of it.) I discovered that half the books have the fatal taint: MOLD. White specks on the binding. I felt like Keats discovering a spot of blood on his handkerchief – which is to say, a certain amount of grim relief that the disease had finally announced itself. These journals are a burden – tales of love won and lost are excruciatingly jejeune, the observations puffed up with the thin cynical helium of collegiate certainties,  the literary flourishes so obvious and contrived it’s like watching a duck try to perform a card trick with a broken wing. Gah. (I did find one line I liked: “In America, no decade prepares us for the next one,” but, well, no duh.) At least the cast of characters is consistent. Last night I dreamed about someone mentioned in a 1985 book.

I’ll have to scan them all, I’m afraid. If nothing else, they’ll reassure Gnat that her father was an idiot was he was 22 as well.
I didn’t find any good quotes, but I found plenty of ephemera – including comic strips I clipped for odd reasons. Here’s an ancient Dagwood, almost indistinguishable from its modern iteration. I think I clipped it out for its sudden topicality – he’s singing a Billy Joel song! – and the strange sudden surreal third and foutrh panels. It’s almost the perfect daily strip:

I love how the mysterious stranger – dressed in classic Tough Egg clothes – disappears over a hill, which heretofore we’d never seen.

On a related comics note: Chris Ware, call your lawyer:



I spied this on a garbage can at a BP station.

The URL led me here, a BP site devoted to “A world of babies driving, beeps flying, desktops evolving, and lots of other cool stuff.” Uh huh. It’s a bunch of babies in diapers shilling for British Petroleum, playing around a gas station. Hey: I grew up around a gas station. They’re no place for kids. It’s the definition of playing in traffic. Plus, there’s poison all over. But not in BP littlebettergasstation land, I guess. Explore around: it just gets creepier and creepier. I’ve never seen a major corporation infantilize itself like this.

Gnat’s Pokemon update: still obsessed. And now that I’m watching the shows with her, I have several important questions. Let us leave aside the fact that Team Rocket shows up in every single episode, undaunted, and that the heroes are always stunned to find Team Rocket behind whichever transparent plot occupies the first ten minutes. Never mind the fact that Team Rocket is apparently a much larger enterprise with many operatives, yet they send out the same two idiots to match wits with our heroes every time, despite the fact that every – single – encounter ends with Team Rocket flung into the sky, screaming. Never mind the horribly inappropriate vocal acting for the Team Rocket characters. Never mind the cheap animation, which I’m training Gnat to observe: the other night we were watching an ep in which all the traveling Pokemon masters encountered a young girl who wanted to be a stand-up comic, and the masters laughed thus: they stood ramrod straight and vibrated, eyes closed. I paused the show, and showed Gnat what this would look like in real life. I stood still as steel, shut my eyes, and twitched like a rhesus on a hotplate.

THAT’S CREEPY, she said. And now she points out all the other inaccurate expressions of mirth. Mission accomplished. She also noted that no one blinks. “Good,” I said. “Blinking is the most basic way to animate a face. And they don’t even bother with that.”

Not that she cares. But the other day we saw a show that began in a Pokemon hospital, where Pokemons who’d been injured in these senseless cockfights were treated. I wanted to point out how the Pokemon were being abused by their trainers, forced into needless combat to satisfy the competitive urges of their adolescent masters, but I kept it to myself.

She’ll grow out of it.

I miss Barbie. Hell, I miss Spongebob.

Have a great weekend! And remember: if you hit the Bleat in the AM, it’s just the start. The conversation continues at Go there now for more, and stop back throughout the day. Thanks! See you here Monday, and see you later today in buzzland. I think there might be a podcast, too. What fun!