Oh, for heaven’s sake, let Scotty go up in a shuttle. This is ridiculous. Put the remains in a small black lozenge and play Amazing Grace on the bagpipes and there will not be a dry eye on Planet Earth, at least for those who’ve seen any Trek as a kid. I’ve told the story before: I met Doohan (along with the rest of the original crew) at a press event for the opening of the Trek exhibit at the Smithsonian back in the 90s, and as I was leaving I saw him standing in the hall that lead to the exit, looking up at the model of the Enterprise from the movies. I stood alongside for a while, and he said “It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it.” (Or words to that effect. Time sands all the quotes down.) You couldn’t ask for more: Scotty was a fan, too. The anti-Shat, that one.

Some of that ever-popular cereal blogging. This time I went to Target, whose house brands do not pretend to look like the things they’re copying. The packaging aims for, and generally succeeds at striking, some sort of early-80s generic style. (The Market Pantry brand, anyway; the Archer Farms stuff looks great.) Here is a cereal I am not compelled to buy:

I am opposed to using a truncated version of “outrageous” in any context, but since “fruit” is a second cousin to “out,” we’ll let that slide. This, however, pushes the limits of decency:

It’s hard not to read that as “courageous,” which is a good quality in leadership but not so important in breakfast cereal. This made my eyebrows raise, Spock-like:

New? So everyone who remembered the original Alpha-bits has either died or been retconned, and those of us who do remember that Alpha-bits have existed before will be tracked down by Agents bent on wiping our brains? I loved Alphabits as a kid, and enjoyed this site’s exhaustive detailing of the boxes, from the Phil-Silvers-mailman character to his immediate replacement, Loveable Truly. (Really.) 

Now, the weekly question: what's angering Garrison Keillor this week? I'm sorry, but I'm just fascinated by his column. Each is nearly identical in formlessness, subject and general pointlessness. To be fair: we all write at haste and repent at leisure, unless we can somehow get it out of the Google cache. We all make inelegant remarks that seemed wonderfully writerly at the moment but curdle when exposed to another pair of eyes. It’s the perils of blogging. But he has an entire week to write these things. Never does he attempt to make an argument or explore a line of thought – it’s just flat assertions ladled out with nuance or shading. The sun rises, Bush is bad, life is long but also short and so you should sit outside and drink lemonade and think of the people who came before you and sat outside and drank lemonade and there is a comfort in that continuity and we need all the comfort we can get in these days when nihilists in golf pants are everywhere and the Republic lies in ruins. Also, he is given to run-on sentences. This week has perhaps the finest example yet.

But first, last week. It contains one of the clunkiest opening sentences in the genre:

"New York in July, hot and breezy, the smell of pizza and coffee in the air, and on the subway one is surrounded by women in light summer dresses, the bare shoulders of elegant young urban women whose shoulders tell you they never toted barges or lifted bales, never laid eyes on a barge or a bale except for someone barging into their office and giving them a baleful look."

Never mind the old days when New York women worked with barges and bales, and had muscular shoulders “Never laid eyes on a barge or a bale except for someone barging into their office and giving them a baleful look” is just dreadful. But that’s a matter of opinion, I suppose. Then there are some complaints about Amtrak, how the subways are better, and this is nice, and then this left turn:

"My urologist gives me a long learned lecture on the prostate of which I cannot now recall a single thought, only remember the honor of being treated as an intellectual equal. To me, this is the wonder of city life – I find so much that exceeds my provincial expectations . . . “

The present tense would indicate that he was on the subway to go to his schlong-doc; it's a bit jarring to realize we didn't only ride there with him, but now we're in the office. The “provincial expectations” is some unbecoming gee-shucks from a fellow who writes from a different city every other week, lived in New York, and does not seem unacquainted with the ways of the world. It also suggests that rural urologists talk down to their patients.

Then he goes to Central Park at night, which is nice and philosophical:

“A peaceful and profound place at night where you imagine you might discover the elusive secret of your life (you're a writer because you're lazy and you don't get along with people), or maybe God would sit down next to you and confess His own doubts as to His existence . . . “

Well, a God from college fiction, perhaps.

“but almost nobody goes there because it feels unsafe because almost nobody goes there. Why does a great city surrender this beautiful turf to predators real or imagined?”

Because the people who run the city aren’t willing to do what’s necessary to deal with predators? If Guiliani was still mayor and put lots of cops in the park and sent predators away to Rikers in great numbers, you suspect the Old Scout would find this fascistic, but perhaps it would be okay because it meant he could sit in the park more. The question, however, is just a set-up for the inevitable answer to the deathless question: What makes the Old Scout hate President Bush this week? New York, I guess, and his enjoyment of it.

“And why should we Americans surrender our beloved country to the predators who've plundered our sacred institutions in the name of conservatism?”

Then he lists the things that angers him, which are pretty much the things that angered him last week and the week before, and ends up recycling one of his most curious descriptions:

“In a democracy, however, it is possible to take a sharp turn, whoosh, and in one majestic moment, the bums are dumped out on the street, the cronies of cronies who rigged the system and the bulbous blowhards wrapped in Old Glory and nihilists in golf pants—they have to sell their Washington condos and move on and find some other line of work. Glory, hallelujah, the truth is marching on.”

Nihilists in Golf Pants! It’s a hardy perennial for the Old Scout.

As he wrote in 2006: "Ancient crones from FDR's time are still walking the halls, kept alive by anger at what has been done to our country. Old conservationists, feminists, grizzled veterans of the civil rights era fight off melanoma, emphysema, Montezuma, thanks to the miracle drug of anger. Slackers and cynics abound, not to mention nihilists in golf pants and utter idiots."

He even inspired a blog. (Incidentally: ancient crones? There are other varieties? And after all that invective and calumny, he concludes the sentence with "utter idiots"? )

So what do we have this week? The NiGPs have been given the week off. Take a deep, deep breath.

“Another paradise day in our old river town and we linger over supper in the back yard and talk about the dry weather and bats (Do they eat three thousand mosquitoes per night? No, says the family biologist.) and cousin Bruce’s truck farm besieged by suburban yards and of course Barack’s audacious trip to Iraq and Europe, meanwhile the sun goes down and little candles come out a fresh pot of green tea and nobody feels the urge to get up and go.”

There’s conversational writing, and then there’s just talking to yourself as you make coffee. It goes on in this vein; the general mood is that he is happy because the Republicans will soon be gone and McCain seems old. He misses his wife and child, who are in "Paris and Prague." This from a man who was nonchalant about 10-dollar-a-gallon gas a few weeks ago? Spoken like a fellow who will always be able to afford a plane ticket - and possibly recycle the usual remarks about the real provincials who don't have a passport.

The concluding lines of this week's column repeats a line from the last one: “Talk to you later. Keep the faith. The truth is marching on.”

See you later, alligator! Hang loose! Keep facing forward! Don't take any wooden nickels! Or leaden sentiments.


New Comic; see you at buzz.mn.