Cold weather moving in fast and nasty. If we had snow, it would be better; if we had snow, it would all seem right. The depths of winter, the hardest part, the drifts eternal piled along the house and the fence, the sidewalks mere suggestions, the streets coated with a shield of ice. Everything against us. When it’s like that and it gets really cold, and the wind comes up, you face it: all right, fine. Do your worst. Here I am. Come at me, sno.

But when there’s nothing it just seems like a vacant place that’s cold for no good reason. It’s just stupid.

Went to Target the other night with my daughter. We like to go at night and walk down the toy aisles and make fun of things, because they’re all pretty stupid and OH LOOK, and then it’s cool and fun. But this:



No. I mean, doesn’t that completely screw up all the backstories? If you care about either, which I don’t. It’s unnerving to see Darth Maul’s glaring face everywhere again, as if it’s 199-whatever again and our hopes are so very high, right up until the moment we read the opening crawl, and think - tax dispute? - and then see the guys who are obviously wearing crude ASIAN ALIEN masks, and then someone has to say “I have a bad feeling about this,” and so on. From the very beginning, in other words. Realizing you’ve waited all these years, and you’re getting a kiddie movie. Robot soldiers who talk and say Roger-roger. My God. If only someone had shot a time-lapse movie from the perspective of the screen, capturing the faces of the audience as they went from rapture when the Star Wars logo crashes on the screen, and stayed with the same fixed smile gradually fading away as all hope leached from their bodies.

Anyway. At the checkout:



Everyone loves these. Haven’t had them in years, because they’re just sugar - but sugar in different densities and textures, you say. The crisp balances the creme! Yes, I know. But:


What’s missing? Chocolate. No one likes the chocolate ones. The store doesn’t even bother to pretend they’re going to sell.


The most extraordinary thing happened in the novel last night. I know, I know, just FINISH IT AND GET THEM OUT. Or: Don’t spoil anything. Or: this is dull to read about, pal. But it’s like this. For the entire book I’ve been mashing together two plots, making #3 a sequel of sorts to #2. (It’s not, but they’re tied together, like they’re all tied together, by the Casablanca Bar.) The two plots would not blend. There was nothing to make them mesh, at least nothing I knew. A while ago I got the idea that the main character would meet up with one of the protagonists of the late-40s noir novel, and he’d be a spry old bird who could set a few things straight. Imagine Bogart at 80, showing up in a sequel to “The Maltese Falcon.”

Well, he got to talking, and holy. Crow. He explained it all. He wove them both together, provided the motivation I’d been missing, and provided a theme and subplot for the sequel to the 40s-noir novel, “Band Box.” It’s just a bombshell. I looked at the page, walked away, came back, looked at it again, went to bed to chew it over, woke thinking: yes. That’s it.

It’s the best part of the job: you’re not writing. You’re just taking dictation.

Today: just a little update in Restaurants, of all things, HERE. Also a column at, somewhere. Yes, it's a short Bleat, but I think it's been a good week on the site, all in all. And more to come! Have a grand weekend, and I'll see you Monday.










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