My home network is sick and weak. Transfers are slow – they start robust and crawl to zero – and the wireless network comes and goes. AppleTV sync takes a century, and doesn’t happen. Pathetic YouTube clips pause halfway through on a machine with an Ethernet cable plugged directly into its backside. So it’s either the connection I’m getting from the ISP, or the network, or both. The worst part: I know with absolute certainty that whoever I call tomorrow will not be able to help me. It will take half an hour of talking to an Earthlink drone to convince him that I am not trying to get YouTube via cable TV, and when he does figure out what I’m saying, he’ll tell me they don’t support the AppleTV, and I’ll have to say, through gritted teeth, I know. That’s not the problem. As I said. When I called. The connection. Is slow. And intermittent. Then he’ll offer to send me a new modem for $45.00.

People used to hate the phone company for being uncaring and monopolistic and slow, but at least they were competent. If your phone did break – unlikely, since they were built to survive nuclear attacks – you could take it downtown and get another one. It was all very Soviet-flavored, what with the long queues and the choice of colors (black) and the special Princess phones for the Inner Party, but at least it worked; it’s not as if I can take in the Internet to the central office and get a new one.

I just remembered this, and I don’t know why: I had a phone in 1978 that wasn’t official, i.e., it wasn’t tied to a particular account. It was mine and I took it with me, which was a strange concept then, almost subversive. Whoa, man, you got a permit for that? I know I had it in 1978, because I hooked it up to the dorm-room phone. I split the wires and experimented with the wall phone – receiving a few mild and not unpleasant shocks – until I had created an extenstion. Two phones in a tiny triple-occupancy Sanford Hall room. This impressed everyone. You can do that? You did that? Yes. Mad phreaking skillz, I hadz them.

I know I mentioned this the last time this game came up, but Roller Coaster Tycoon is not an anal-retentive person’s dream, it’s a nightmare. Because you can customize everything. From the shirt color of the janitors in the different areas of the park to the trim on the trams – you know, the tram-trim – to the tulips in the bed, you can change everything. Which means you probably will. And so it came to pass that I tired of seeing nothing but blue balloons in the kiddie part of the park, and put in a shop that sold white balloons, and then I saved and went downstairs for a cup of coffee and THERE WAS A WHITE BALLOON IN THE HALL.

For a moment, just half a second, I thought I’d been driven mad by the game. It had happened before; a long time ago when I was playing the previous version, I’d gotten some sort of bug and had fever dreams about the park I’d built, with vomit everywhere. (The park guests tend to barf after extreme rides, and unless you have enough janitors, it sits around.) (Yes, this is the modern world: playing a game in which the barf just sits around unless you DO SOMETHING. In the old days in-game barf management was passive; now it’s interactive.) The balloon was from a party (G)Nat had attended that afternoon -  it had bounced into the hall, borne on the air-conditioned in-house breeze. Whew.

About the vomit on the sidewalk, though, I’m not sure.

Great weekend. Aren’t they all, these days? He said, nervously awaiting the comet strike or Great Depression one tempts by seeming to take the good times for granted. We had supper Sunday night at the Convention Grill. Finest burgers in the nabe, and untouched Moderne style:

That’s the real thing, not a gimcracky retro retread.

Friday night I did the usual web-work, watched “21,”  a movie about playing 21 that seemed to contain very little 21. There was a lot of cards flipped over and slid across the felt, but no sense of the game. Worthwhile anyway, and alas the best of the weekend’s three movies. Ah! The weekend wasn’t that perfect, after all. So no comet. The other movie we’ll discuss in a bit, and tomorrow for the weekly Noir.

Saturday afternoon I was delighted to meet a couple of folks who just happened to show up at Jasperwood with large cameras to interview me for something, and I shouldn’t say what until I know I can. We had a great lunch outdoors at Primo, a local Italian café, then shot the interview in the backyard here. The big problem, aside from the planes rolling over and spoiling every other take, was the subject of the interview, which was me. I can talk about this and that and certain write about my life in excruciating detail, but talking about it is something else; I just type. Summing up the last few years, and the last decade on the web, boils down to “well, I typed, then scanned, then typed about what I scanned, then did it again several hundred times. Occasionally I get in my car and drive somewhere and type in a different place.” If they can get 45 usable seconds out of the thing, I’ll be surprised.

You’ll hear more about this towards the end of next month.

Saturday night I went to a birthday party / housewarming for Chad the Elder of Fraters Libertas; capital time. He has a 1957 rambler with many of the trimmings of the era intact – huge thin-brick fireplace that requires a butterfly chair and a light-blonde wood table and a light-blonde wife in Capri pants. There were elegant cocktails and menfolk on the lawn with stogies and fine conversation. As ever, you learn things when you ask people what they do. I don’t know why people don’t introduce themselves with their names and professions. One fellow handled inventory for a local company that made photoelectric cells – who knew we had one? With three plants, too. One woman was a water-quality tester for the DNR, and her husband was a professional ice sculptor. Yes, really. Chainsaws and blowtorches: Michelangelo never used such tools, but he lacked the drive required to work with ice, I think. You can’t abandon a work for a few years and go back to it later if it’s ice. We all discussed Wall-E and carbon footprints and utility company shenanigans – very little politics, interesting enough. Perhaps because you can slake your desire for politics by discussing, well, Wall-E and carbon footprints and utility companies.

Home in the dark on the highway, fast, listening to music with the windows down. Hell on the mileage. To hell with the mileage. It’s summer.

Later that night I watched “Doomsday,” which is Mad Max + 28 Days later + Aliens + Robin Hood.

Scotland has been devastated by a virus, and although it took but a week to infect everyone, the British government was able to build a wall across the length of the island to seal them out. I suppose you have plans in the vault for things like that if you’re one of the more narrow countries, but it’s hard to imagine a government would respond on day two a strange viral infection by sending the construction crews to put up a wall and seal off the top third of the island. It’s likely they had the plan in pocket well in advance, and were just looking for an opportunity to isolate the Scots. I’ve seen “Trainspotting”; can’t blame them. Chancrous stick-limbed dole-teat wankers, the lot of them.

Kidding! I love the Scots. There’s not a windy, rainy day but where I don’t stand by the window and think of how Robert Burns put it: gain the war’d tae nick th’ snick / and gae ye dram-wise tae Gargamac / wit’ nae but thistles an’ th’ song o’ th’ mutton-leaver / aye, t’is wee but for naught. Man had a way with wairds.

Kidding! Anyway, of course, the evil conspiratorial government thinks everyone’s dead up there – all Scots dead? Mission accomplished, lads -  but 25 years later satellite photos detect human presence, and a team is sent in. The satellite lens must have been smeared with haggis leavings, because the place is full of people – angry feral gibbering idiots all dressed in leather with Mohawks, because that’s retro and urban and scary. Why punk-wear? Why is that the default position, the go-to style for the post-civilization Fiend-Community?  Imagine “The Andromeda Strain” escaping the lab and ravaging the country, and everyone in LA dressing up in spats and flapper-dresses. Same thing. The punks also listened to the Fine Young Cannibals, which was funny, because they were also, well, cannibals. The film established early on that Scotland was overrun with cows, and the punks ate people. They also drove around on motorcycles, gasoline being plentiful and fresh 30 years after the pipes were turned off.

Anyway.  The good guys drive two APCs into the city; they’re described as the top of the line vehicles impervious to everything including “chemical weapons” – wow, a tank that drive through gas – but they’re instantly rendered unusable by a hail of rocks and Molotov cocktails, so our team is on foot. And so on. And so on. It would be fun it any of it meant anything or tried to mean anything, but it lacks internal consistency, logic, empathetic characters – although Bob ‘Oskins stomping around and shouting F*CK a lot is always a boost to a flagging story. Oh, and there’s knights on horses and Malcolm McDowell sporting a drinker’s schnozz bit enough to give a liter of wine if you gave it a squeeze. Awful. I mention it only because of this, or rather her:

Rhona Mitra as Kate Beckinsdale. Or not – Kate was good in those silly vampire vs. werewolves movies, but she’s undead so you expect her to have a certain amount of physical strength. Ms. Mitra is in great shape and has a modified Posh hairdo that’s pretty hot, but I am tired, so very tired, of movies that expect me to think these wrens are fearsome warriors who can take five blows to the solar plexus from a six-foot tall musclebound lunatic and not only maintain their consciousness and the integrity of her internal organs, but can run around beating up people and suffering more physical for the next 17 hours without sleep while having her makeup magically regenerated. One image sums it all up:

The fellow on the left is about nine feet tall and covered with metal, swinging a spiked ball on a chain with one hand, and holding a shield the size of a tractor hubcap with the other. She has no weapons, and has spent the last 14 hours being beaten, chased, beaten again, and dumped into a medieval gladitorial-type situation there. Who prevails? She does, of course.

Oh, there's one more image that sums it up. During the interminable punk-rally in which one of the team is BBQd and fed to screaming losers, there's a floor show. Filthy dancing kilt-men:

This sort of tripe works when you have great performances, a witty script, a scintilla or two of realism judiciously applied, and a director who doesn't think rote photocopying = "homage."



Now we begin another week. I have high hopes; we're 2.5 weeks away from the mysterious Changes of Buzz that have been in the pipeline for half a year. I will try to do a Diner. I will be insensate for one of these mornings while the absolute last bit of Dental Joy is performed on my open maw. Will I twitter from the chair as the drugs set in? Yes. Yes, I will.

New Matchbook - a classic pre-Charlie the Tuna number. Enjoy, and I'll see you at

Oh, what about the weekend grocery store report? We have to save something for tomorrow.

Oh, what about the Mad Men premier?

Missed it.