THURSDAY, Sept. 18

Sorry about yesterday; was tired and everything looked banal and dull. I mean, I was talking about my network problem again. It appears to have been solved. You’re asking: shut up. Sorry, that’s not a question. You meant to say “really? Gosh, that’s just keen. However did you do it?” I took a suggestion to check the wiring, and used all my troubleshooting know-how to unplug the DSL wire, give it a little slack, and plug it in again. tThere was a kink in the wire, and all the bytes got bottled up. Once I straightened it out, 127 interrupted YouTube videos gushed into the modem with such force the monitor jumped forward an inch. Ha ha! ‘Cause that’s how it would work if it were water. 

Interesting:  It was the one thing no tech support person ever suggested I check. In retrospect, it’s like finding your car doesn’t start, rebuilding the engine, checking the fuel lines, then wondering if you have gas in the tank. Mind you, if the problem recurs (a fine word for getting another dog, now that I think of it) I will be bereft, but we’ll leap off that bridge when we come to it.

Yesterday was fine – for me, anyway;  Natalie woke with a headache and sore throat, and since she went to bed with the same I kept her home. The cold that has gripped the family for a few weeks is one of those tenacious bugs that likes to travel – it summers in the throat, takes a trip to the lungs, vanishes in some organ incapable of manifesting symptoms, then pops up in the head again. It’s like a houseguest that says it’s leaving, but never packs. She was fine enough to go to soccer, doing her part for the titanic death-struggle between the Meteors and the Earthquakes. (Meteors lost – as usual, every kick to the goal burns up in the atmosphere before it reaches the net.) Afterwards we went to school for parent-teacher orientation, and I was expecting to sit in a tiny chair with my knees around my ears with seven other parents. No: this was held in the gym, so all four teachers could give a coordinated presentation.

With PowerPoint. Augh. Nothing contributes to the flabby inflation of missions than PowerPoint; one or two objectives just look so scant and naked, so you add some more. In all fairness, it’s a great school and I’ve been pleased with her education so far, but it’s a bit amusing to hear that they’ve ditched the old math cirriculum for a new one that stresses conceptualizing over procedure. When haven’t they? In the last few years, anyway. Supposedly the old way, which was chosen after lots of study and is now doubleplus ungood,  you learned how to solve the problem without knowing how or why. Now you learn the concepts behind math, and you know why you’re wrong.


As I noted once a long time ago, I can see numbers in a fashion that’s both colorful, imaginative, and useless. They have personalities. Four is workmanlike, sturdy; five is brassy and proud. (Due to “The 12 Days of Christmas,” no doubt.) Six is shy; seven is  a trickster; eight is jovial, nine is oddly remote and mysterious. Eleven is bookish, diffident. And so on. I think mathematicians see equations as having personalities, but not numbers. This is why I am not a mathematician.

Wednesday: work and video. Tonight I went to a video arcade museum to shoot a video. It had been billed as a museum, sort of, but it was really a record store with five machines in the back. Anyone who’s done deadline video knows the feeling: this is your only window to shoot, and the story – just – ain’t – there. So what to do? Make it all up. The proprietor of the record store played along, literally, and we ended up shooting pinball.  I’m not bad at pinball. I won. So, there’s that.

Anything in the Sarah-Palin-is-the-fifth-horsewoman-of-the-apocalypse-and-hence-rides-sidesaddle department? Well, there’s this from the New Yorker:

There are two kinds of folks: Élites and Regulars. Why people love Sarah Palin is, she is a Regular. . .

Where was I? Ah, ye: I hate Élites. Which is why, whenever I am having brain surgery, or eye surgery, which is sometimes necessary due to all my non-blinking, I always hire some random Regular guy, with shaking hands if possible, who is also a drunk, scared of the sight of blood, and harbors a secret dislike for me.

Sigh. Well, let’s turn that around. I need a plumber, so naturally I call up a professor who specializes in Roman aqueducts, because what I really need when the faucet is broken is someone who can place it in the context of the ancients’ understanding of fluid dynamics and potable-water storage systems.

The term “elitist” does not mean a smart person with an area of expertise. It means a person who occupies a narrow stratum of society, usually academic – although people in think-tanks who view the world through steepled fingers qualify as well – whose Olympian perspective is usually predicated on a set of assumptions about people tinged with equal parts indulgent condescension and faint amusement, as an anthropologist might bring to the study of a Cargo Cult. It also confuses proximity to the Washington Monument with access to truth.

Another test for someone who believes they stand apart from the lowing masses: the following excerpt strikes them as the heir to Benchley and Perelman.

Sarah Palin knows a little something about God’s will, knowing God quite well, from their work together on that natural-gas pipeline, and what God wills is: Country First. And not just any country! There was a slight error on our signage. Other countries, such as that one they have in France, reading our slogan, if they can even read real words, might be all, like, “Hey, bonjour, they are saying we can put our country, France, first!” Non, non, non, France! What we are saying is, you’d better put our country first, you merde-heads, or soon there will be so much lipstick on your pit bulls it will make your berets spin!

In summary: Because my candidate, unlike your winking/blinking Vice-Presidential candidate, who, though, yes, he did run as the running mate when the one asking him to run did ask him to run, which that I admire, one thing he did not do, with his bare hands or otherwise, is, did he ever kill a moose?

Humor writing is so much easier when no one expects you to be - what's the word? Funny. That's the word.

Is that all we have today in the anti-Palin department? No, there’s this, in Salon.

I had to leave church Sunday morning when it turned out that the sermon was not about bearing up under desperate circumstances, when you feel like you're going crazy because something is being perpetrated upon you and your country that is so obscene that it simply cannot be happening.

I understand; I had to leave church once because the sermon was not about the death of Gwen Stacy at the hands of the Green Goblin, which bothered me a lot and took up a great deal of my imagination. Of course, I was ten, but it was an emotional reaction and hence unassailable. But what is bothering her? What is so obscene in its perpetration that it cannot be happening, simply?

I sat outside a 7-Eleven and had a sacramental Dove chocolate bar

This is my class-status-reinforcing confection, quiescently frozen for thee.

A man and a woman whose values we loathe and despise -- lying, rageful and incompetent, so dangerous to children and old people, to innocent people in every part of the world -- are being worshiped, exalted by the media, in a position to take a swing at all that is loveliest about this earth and what's left of our precious freedoms.

All that is loveliest about this earth? They actually have the power to destroy flowers, Mozart, sunsets, children’s laughter, dog’s smiles, the sound of crickets, and Megan Fox? They have this power? Evidently so, but I suspect the Loveliness Extirpation Program takes second place to the Precious Freedom Elimination Project, which starts with the shuttering of all newspapers and a law that states Alan Colmes must wear a ball gag and be referred to only as “the Gimp.”

Innocent people all over the world are in peril from Palin. Remember, take the L out of Palin, and you have Pain. And that L stands for love.

Once home, she phones Brother Strawman:

When I got home from church, I drank a bunch of water to metabolize the Dove bar and called my Jesuit friend, who I know hates these people, too. I asked, "Don't you think God finds these smug egomaniacs morally repellent? Recoils from their smugness as from hot flame?"

I am unwilling to say what God can and cannot do, but I think “hot flame” is low on the lists of things from which He instinctively recoils. Naturally, the man of God heartily concurs:

And he said, "Absolutely. They are everything He or She hates in a Christian."

It would be instructive to know why, and illustrative to find which points of Rev. Wright’s theology God loves more than McCain’s, but I suppose when you’ve taken a vow to lead a simple life everything is above your pay grade.

I have been in a better mood ever since.

No doubt; nothing gives the soul peace like knowing God hates the same people you do. After giving people advice on how to deal with their own panic – she spends a lot of time on a website called  Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator,  a laff riot she would no doubt applaud if it were applied to other cultures  - she musters the strength to tell us how to muster the strength:

Everything you need to know about how to bear up during these two months is already inside you. Go within: Work on your own emotional acre. Stand still, and hurt, and feel crazy. Then drink a lot of water, pray, meditate, rest. Rest is a spiritual act. Now, I am a reform Christian, so it is permissible for me to secretly believe that God hates this woman, too.

Well, it’s not much of a secret anymore. I was pleased to learn that “rest is a spiritual act,” since that means I can count a nap as prayer, although I suspect the author believes that everything is a spiritual act, including doing the dishes, scrubbing grout from the tiles, throwing up bad shellfish, getting angry at Vogue magazine, and drinking water. It metabolizes the Dove, you see, and the Dove is a symbol of God, who created birds so they could crap on the heads of people He can't stand. She concludes with more advice to make it through these dark times:

Reread everything Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower ever wrote. Write down that great line of Molly's, that "freedom fighters don't always win, but they're always right." Tape it next to your phone.

If only to have a new way to make the telemarketers hang up on you, perhaps.

Call the loneliest person you know. Go flirt with the oldest person at the bookstore.

And thus were the loveliest places on earth saved: by cozening winks fluttered across the stacks at the Barnes and Noble, only a few of which resulted in calls to the police.

Fill up a box with really cool clothes that you haven't worn in a year, and take it to a thrift shop.

Because the act of charity makes Sarah Palin wilt like the Wicked Witch doused with water. No, strike that; water is wasted on her. Water is for healing:

Take gray water outside and water whatever is growing on your deck. This is not a bad metaphor to live by. I think it is why we are here. Drink more fluids.

Urination is also a spiritual act, it seems.

And take very gentle care of yourself and the people you most love: We need you now more than ever.
Unless you’re not full of fear and hatred, of course, in which case, go die. Preferably of dehydration.

New Ad; see you at for a four-Lance-Lawson Thursday, with all old-style Lance episodes. See Lori and Tiny in their earliest incarnations! Meet Lance’s mom! But bring your own water.