Ran off to St. Paul this afternoon to do another interview at the Public Radio mothership. Same studio, same mike, same slightly creaky chair, same bad coffee.  It was free and I was grateful that it was fetched as per my exacting instruction – two cups, if you please – but most radio station coffee is horrible. The coffee at KSTP’s new studio? Yech. The coffee back at the Maplewood studio, though: delicious. Maybe because I made it fresh before the show. It hadn’t been sitting there for six hours getting as bitter as the staff.

The interview was fine, except for a hideous echo at the start. Talking as your voice comes back a second later is a trick I haven’t mastered. I don’t know how those fellows on the monster truck rally commercials do it.

Jinglepixie at 7:53 AM: came down to the kitchen, and there he is with the largest knife in the house.

Said he wanted to cut the coffee cake. We don’t have any coffee cake. He knows this well. You would trust this face?

A Bleat reader alerted me to a frightening fact: he has a posse. Apparently the species is known as the knee-hugging elf.


Memo to self: Friday will be more productive than Thursday, providing this incipient crud doesn’t assert itself. Providing there is incipient crud. Providing it’s not that Killer SuperCold that starts with a tickle in your throat and then kills you in a day when your organs liquefy. You sneeze once and explode.  I’ve read about it in the papers. Scientists expect it will  kill off the few remaining people who survived SARS, and the hardy survivors will scuttle amongst the ruins until the fatal effects of global warming pick up the carcasses of dead polar bears in a freak typhoon and thrown them on people’s heads. Doomed, we are.  Well, let’s run down the symptoms and see how long I have to live.

1. Muscular soreness in the legs: could be a sign of a cold. Or the fact that I ran for 30 minutes the other day.

2. Tickle in the throat: the house is dry. It’s always dry in the winter. You touch the dog and there’s enough static discharge to stop his heart. Quick! Someone rub your feet on the carpet and touch the dog again! Clear! BZZZZZZT. You wonder if dogs have near death experiences. They wouldn’t go to the light; they would go to a big wonderfully smelly thing. Perhaps one of the harder, more redolent cheeses. In Dog Heaven there’s every dog who ever lived.  Start sniffing hinders, pal; you only got eternity to do ‘em all.

3. Thickness in the head: that could be boredom, or a sign of poor sleep. Last night I had another one of those sold-the-house dreams. It’s never because of a financial reversal; I just sell the house for no damn reason. Actually, I never sell the house in the dream – it’s done before the story picks up. In this case I had moved ten blocks away to another neighborhood, a charmless dump with a lousy grocery store. How lousy was it? The house brand was Food House. The packages were colored brown and yellow, and had a distinctively early-60s font. Food House. Jeebus. Somehow that said everything about my new neighborhood. I tried to convince myself this would be okay, because the buildings across the street had a cool 60s look, but they were worn and faded and lifeless. I’m sure it meant something.

Time to leave the nostalgia behind, perhaps? I admit that it is frustrating to be interested in the fifties and sixties, because we could bring back so many of the cool ideas and colors and styles and designs. But we won’t. The fifties have been reduced to chrome and tailfins and Fonzie, and the swank neurotic cocktail-culture thin-lapel pre-hippie culture now looks like a golden age we dare not revive, because we’re simply not up to it.

4. Sneezing: well, I just sneezed. The first one today. I think it was alone, though. Then again, Jasper Dog just sneezed.  It’s a coordinated attack! Into the bunker! It’s a pity the sneeze is associated with disease, because it’s such a satisfying thing to do. If we didn’t sneeze naturally, someone would have discovered a means to induce them, and nightclubs would be full of young people sticking things up their noses and sneezing all over the place. You’d see kids with bloodshot eyes and red noses, rubbing their stiff necks, and you’d think: sneezers. In my day we expelled wind, yes, but from the other direction, and it was a shameful thing you did alone.

That covers it. Appetite? Fine. Brain? Bored silly. No, I’m fine.

Just had an interesting conversation with (G)Nat: she wanted to know what a dork was, and whether it was bad. Did anyone call her a dork? No, but she heard about them. What are they like? They have square glasses and high pants that are plaid and greasy hair. Nerds.

Well, honey, that’s right, but nerds are smarter than dorks.


Yes. They look like dorks, and often act like dorks. Except for their braying laugh.

So they’re like geeks.

No, no. Geeks are smart.

Well I’m a geek. I’m kinda a history geek.


And you’re a technology geek. You can fix things. Computers, TVs.

Yes, but geeks are also hip in ways that cool kids aren’t, and dorks can never be.

Do they have Mohawks?

No, those are punks. But some punks are geeks, admittedly – here, let’s draw a Venn diagram.

That’s okay. As long as you’re not a dork.

If she was a nerd, she would have wanted to see the Venn diagram. If I was a nerd, I would have been disappointed that she didn't want to see it. As it was we were talking while playing catch with those plastic scoop-things, and moved on to other subjects, like the Moon, and the theme song for the Harlem Globetrotters. I have six versions of it. Awesome!

Yuletide Radio Theater: another ladle of well-meaning hagiography. This time it’s the origin of the Salvation Army Kettle. Since no Salvation Army page on the origin of the kettle seems to include any of these details, I can only conclude that they made this up, and they knew it, and they passed it off as fact. Imagine that! Clever ears will detect the presence of Paul Frees, who voiced a million shows, sci-fi movie voice-overs, as well as the Disneyland Haunted Mansion narration. (That's his picture below.) It’s from 1959. Pure corn, but it has its moments, particularly where the drunk abusive husband rails against the gummint men who contruded with the money supply.

I’ve also included a Suspense from 1961, because if there’s anything that balances a saccharine Christmas story full of goody-two-shoes, it’s an inevitably saccharine Christmas story that begins with a guy in a cheap bar hacking his lungs out before he makes a dying wish to a parole violator. It packs a lot into 30 minutes; it’s a hard-boiled number with a heart of gold. Enjoy! I’ve more to say – and you’ll find it at buzz.mn. See you there.  Oh, right: the end of Stagworld. Here.