Fifty-four degrees. The snow shrinks, the sidewalks flow with melted water, and the ice forms those structures you love as a kid: it’s frozen on top but liquid below, and you can shatter them with your heel. All you have to do is watch a child crack acres of ice to realize the joy of spring approaching, and the unlimited human capacity for destruction. It’s so satisfying.

I took the dog for a walk, which he hated. Some dogs romp in the water. Some do not like to get their feet wet. You’d think there wouldn’t be any difference between dogs, would you? They’re just dogs. What makes one indifferent to something that annoys the other? It’s almost as if they have individual personalities. I know, I know: sheer projection. It’s all genetics and breed and biology and other mechanistic switches.

The mistake many make, perhaps, is measuring dog intelligence against our own. Dumb dawg! Ha. But then you think that dogs are capable of thought processes like “after that, this happens,” and that’s not exactly hay. I’m still impressed that when I point at something, Jasper looks to what I’m pointing at.

Anyway, it was lovely. It’s not the end of winter; it’s not even the beginning of the end, but I think we can say it is the end of - no, scratch that, it’s the beginning of the end. Hell, it’s probably halfway towards the end of the beginning of the end.

Ran errands. Big change in life, that. No more will I fight the Saturday crowds. Went to Trader Joe’s, and got the worst cart I’ve ever had. You know those carts with a palsied wheel? The ones that shudder as you shove, push your cart in different directions? This one seemed charged with a strange field that made it feel like I was pushing a dumpster through a magnet factory. It was impossible not to hit people or crash into the shelves. So I started dragging it - whereupon the end fishtailed around, as if some petulant imp was floating behind me, yanking it fro and to.

Target. The clerk started putting things in plastic bags, per the company’s new directives, I guess. They don’t ask. They assume. And you know that when you make an assumption you make an ass out of U and Mption, and you have to ask them to put in paper. Whereupon you get a look: do you want me to take it out of the plastic bag? No, that’s okay. But could you put the plastic bag in a paper bag?

Yes, Mr. Insane, I could. The reason? I need paper bags for recycling. I’m out. We had a lot of them stored up but a few weeks ago, in the grips of some sort of devil-may-care foolishness that presumes an endless stream of paper bags, I put them all into another paper bag and recycled that. Then we were behind. Bagless.

Well, not exactly; had Cub bags, but they are made of a special paper that rips under those extreme conditions known as “usage,” and I can’t get one in the house without the handles popping off, or a box of Cheez-It Duos poking a corner through its gossamer side. (Speaking of which, and I was: ever since the great Cheez-Its brand-winnowing panic of January 2012, when Target put up a giant wall of Cheez-Its Classics with none of the brand-extensions, something that just flatly ignored several years of R&D in the difficult art of making diverse Cheez-It species live in harmony. You might think sharp cheddar and parmesan would get together, sharing a cheese history, but sharp cheddar is a total bastard. White Cheddar refuses to get in the same box, which is why they broke it out as a new flavor. Anyway, I feared they were canceling the brand, so I bought whenever I saw it. Now have five boxes down in overflow pantry. Ah well.)

But I didn’t want to go to Cub, because Daughter wanted to know if the cheese-dusted taco shells still existed. So I went to Rainbow, which is always depressing; the guy behind me in line had exactly one (1) tooth in his upper face-part, and the clerk only bested him by five.

On the Twitter last night I mentioned I was watching “Awake,” the pilot for a new series. Great premise: a man has a car accident that kills his son, spares his wife. When he goes to sleep he immediately wakes up in a world where his son is alive and his wife is dead. In both worlds he is aware of the existence of the other; in both he has a psychiatrist who’s trying to make him give up the other existence.

The network wisely put it out for free on iTunes. People are warning me that it’s going to take a turn I may not like, and that may be so. As a piece of stand-alone TV it was impressive, for network work. You’ll recall last week I had a few clips from “Take Shelter,” with the large and pained Michael Shannon; this show featured this guy -


He sells every scene; has a gravelly gravitas. But he looks like a guy. Lined and haggard and lived-in. I remember the last high-concept show to which I was initially drawn, that “Fast Forward” or “Flash Forward” thing, and the main cop guy looked like he should have worn kohl around his eyes and showed up in a TV movie about Egyptian court intrigue.

So, is this a trend? Are we back to Rugged, Bogart-style?

I'm sure I intended to say more about this, but A) I got caught up in the news, and then B) I had a big long novel section that ended with something I did not expect, predict, or - as far as I can tell - control. A main character ended up dead.

And now I got to sleep, and maybe when I wake I'll rewrite that scene. It's a comfort of fiction: it has do-overs. Of course, the main comfort of fiction? It's fiction.










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