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It’s eight minutes to midnight; I’ve this to do – an opportunity, not a duty! – and the morning note for Buzz, and I have to rise early. So expect little, and I will happily fulfill your expectations. We had company over tonight for a Father’s Day dinner – in-laws with their niece, who’s a few years younger than Gnat. They put together a “talent show” that consisted of somersaults and a ring-toss game, and the adults duly applauded. The kids pushed their luck with an impromptu story about pirates, though; they had no idea where that one was going, and lost the audience halfway through. YOU’RE NOT WATCHING, they shouted. YOU’VE LOST THE NARRATIVE DRIVE, I replied.

After a while the kids went inside and the adults finished off the bottle of rose, slapping at skeeters, talking about the neighborhood. A car was stolen up the street, and the homeowner discovered the theft in progress. He’s due to be deployed to Bosnia in a week. This he does not need. The car was found later, battered and stripped, the family’s sole transport destroyed for an airbag mechanism. Jail first-time car thieves, I say. Support the troops.

The weekend wasn’t, except for a few moments when it was. Saturday night I stepped away from everything and enjoyed the monthly Tableau Festive with the lads; we sat outside and ate meat and smoked cigars, which seemed subversive. When you realize that the place allows you to smoke a cigar, you almost worry: what sort of debauched, “Hostel” like situation have we stumbled into? Will they bring by a selection of baby seals after dinner and let us chose our bats?

I got home early enough to watch part of a movie, something I haven’t done in a while. (I haven’t done much of anything else in a while.) The movie was “Ghost Rider,” which I rented for obvious reasons: it’s Nicholas Cage operating at three-quarter Elvis power, playing a damned soul with a flaming skull-head who drives his motorcycle down the side of skyscrapers. I mean, come on. Point out any aspect of that description that doesn’t make you want to see the movie. I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s enjoyable – more so than turgid dutiful sequels like X-Men 3 or the  childhood-befouling “Fantastic Four.” (What was wrong with that one? Everything but the Thing, to coin a band name.) The movie is hampered by Eva Mendes – if I make to the end, I’ll watch the credits to see who was responsible for spritzing her cleavage with a fine mist of oil, because that’s probably one of the better jobs you can get in the industry, but that’s all she brought to the film: spritzed, glowing cleavage. The last time I saw such a wooden performance was the Soapbox Derby. You’d think someone would have noted the problem after a few days of filming: whoa whoa whoa, she cannot act. I mean, she is incapable of projecting a scintilla of a jot of thespian skills. Yeah, but look at those – I don’t care. Find me someone else with spritzable cleavage who can read a line without reminding you of a third-grader sounding out Latin phonetically.

Sunday morn I woke to a Father’s Day Repast: Eggs, with cheese and pepper; proper pancakes, not nuked prefab divots, with real syrup; bacon. Then the gifts:  a lovely card with Gnat’s sentiments concerning my fatherhood abilities – I am the best ever, it would seem – and a few little presents, all with a retro theme. I’m wearing one now: a T-shirt with the faces of 1960s Marvel Superheroes. Proof, I suppose, of the hopeless eternal adolescent strain that characterizes the modern American male; it’s like my Dad wearing a T-shirt with The Shadow  in the mid 70s. On the other hand, what’s the harm? These are by-god archetypes, they are. I explained to Gnat that these were the comic book guys I liked when I was young. Maybe some day her kids would give her Pokemon shirts. She was a bit surprised: why would they do that? She’d buy her own. And maybe by then Pokemon will be real.

I’ve come to realize that Pikachu is her Winnie the Pooh. I wished Pooh was real when I was kid, but I didn’t have a stuffed version. Gnat has a tiny stuffed Pikachu. All the other friends had security items, well-worn scraps of cloth they carried around and regarded as Real Friends, the loss of whom would send the parents into a frenzy. Gnat never had one of those, but now she has this cute little thing everyone loves, and can also shoot fatal electrical bolts. It’s like a Pooh who has flamethrowers in his paws. Still, it melts my heart when I see her perform her daily ritual before leaving: she puts Pikachu on a pillow on the sofa and gives him a little kiss. Jasper gets a kiss too, and a hug. He’s an old dog, and his reply is always the same: Mrgph.

Anyway. More, but no time. Here’s a matchbook! More gas. Click below for buzz, which is also more gas, I suppose.  Tomorrow I will attempt to reconstruct my email database, which was completely hosed in last week’s computer problem, so I plead for patience. It’s not like I’m Mr. Free Spirit anymore, anyway; no time for anything. It’s going to take me three days to get through this Ghost Rider movie, because it appears that I got the Extended Cut. There’s even a nine-minute featurette on Eva Mendes’s beauty mark. With optional commentary!

NOW TO GO THE BUZZ. Thank you. See that link below? Click! Voila! Mrgph!