Alert: Long-time Bleat patrons may recall when my daughter was born. She is now on Twitter. @Natali0730.

Do I feel old? Actually, no. I've never felt old. I will. But I don't.

It is impossible to parody this.

It’s a reminder that most people in their 20s who are not in the military are unformed lumps of maudlin confusion, and often so besotted by their own pretensions they are unaware how every single gesture, every thought, every concern, every sudden burst of certainty is hilarious to anyone who does not believe that a moment is made more momentous if a Leonard Cohen record is playing. I exaggerate, perhaps. The author exaggerates, perhaps. It could be read as a manifesto of sly auto-beclowning, with the preposterousness of every element placed with care to ensure that we get it: this is all just a ridiculous way to live. Everyone in the story: ridiculous.

What struck me was the casual profanity - not because I am OFFENDED BY THE BAD WORDS, but because it’s the fargin’ New Yorker. The little old lady in Peoria clutches her bosom and takes to her couch. Someone was the first person to get that word in the New Yorker; wonder who? Must be so proud. Everything up until then was just false, man, square, repressed, L-7, HERBERT.


Gods forbid you’d be Herbert. As I've long said: in my lifetime the F word will be on a billboard. Why a billboard, you wonder. What's so special about a billboard. Simple: a moron whose T-shirt has the Big F is an individual acting on his own behalf, a fool with no sense of public decorum. A radio station whose DJs or song lyrics abound with the effenheimer has to be chosen; same with a TV show. There's a wall between them and the public, however gossamer it may appear. A magazine with the eff-bomb can be cancelled, put down, ignored - or, of course, applauded, if your sentiments tend towards the direction of prole squawk.

But a billboard? You have no choice. Marketers and advertisers have decided that it's time for everyone to look at the word in a context previously agreed to be off-limits - for the purposes of selling something and trading on the last vestiges of "shock" the word contains. There will be a TV interview with people who are duly shocked - the word itself will be blurred out, but there will be debates in the newsroom about whether it's their role to censor something that's in the public eye. Eventually the word will cease to be bleeped, if it's judged to be relevant to the speaking style or passion of the person being interviewed.

All of the people involved in this process will be intelligent people who believe they're doing the right thing, somehow - either because they want to demystify "bad" words, or reflect the True Speech of the People, or just be Edgy.

If you walked up to their kid on the playground, bent down, and showed them the word on a piece of paper, or said it six times, all those people would be furious. See, there's their kids, and then there's just kids in general.

It's not like they don't hear the word here and there.

Non-Battlestar Galactica enthusiasts may skip this graf:

(Said “Gods” because I’m in the middle of the last season of Galactica, and it’s gotten to the point where I’m thinking: hey, maybe the lawyer’s cat is the Hidden Cylon, the 12th Imam of the Robot Race - er, no. Okay. The other night - this is not a spoiler - one of the characters who’s adopted heretical monotheism interrupts a religious ceremony, calls Zeus and his Olympian posse false gods, and the reaction of the authorities made my ears prick up: “we’ve dealt with Mithrians before.” See, here’s the thing: it’s one thing for the story to mirror human history, right down to the names of the constellations and ancient gods, but Mithras? We’re getting quite specific about particular times and places when you bring up Mithras. Also, a confession: I cannot keep all the versions of the Cylons straight. Good Six, Bad Six, Rebel Six, Imaginary Six - I almost expect the hidden Cylon to be Six of One, Half-Dozen of the Other.) (Sorry.)

Back? Okay.




I had no idea Legos were sexist, but these are special Legos. Girly pink ones with convertible cars for going to places, presumably to shop.

My daughter didn’t like the whole “Princess” thing after 4 or 5, and when they called her “Princess” at Disneyworld I could tell she winced. There were some princess dress-up moments, but it didn’t stick. But where did it come from in the first place? We didn’t read pink books with princesses and parties. The only influence was possibly a Barbie Cinderella computer game, but she wanted that; part of the Barbie phase that screeched to a sudden halt at a certain point, right around the time she cast off everything pink. It’s as if the stuff was in the air, that’s all. She never liked it as much as she liked Polly Pockets, which were irresistible because of the number of items you could amass on the cheap, or the holy trio of Care Bears / My Little Ponies / Hello Kitty.

And then those were over, and the real interests assert themselves. That’s when kids start to find out who they are.

I was a great fan of Lego.

We didn’t have kits. The closest we got to a “kit” was the introduction of the wheeled Lego block, which had a hole into which you inserted a wheel. Since they were two parts, this guaranteed you’d lose one piece, usually the block, and eventually you were making cars that dragged their rears like haunch-shot horses. I made planes (and crashed them) and spaceships (and crashed them) and robots (which exploded) and ships, which I sunk in the bathtub. In fact I recall attempting to recreate a plane crash from a movie I saw on the afternoon matinee, something that scared the hell out of me. It was from “Fate is the Hunter.” The front of the plane detaches and cartwheels over and over.

Happens at the end of the trailer.


Ah, the simple pleasures of childhood: sitting on the grey carpet, slamming a Lego plane into the grey carpet, trying to get the front part to come off while you make explosion sounds.

And then those were over. But right before I ditched Legos, I invested my door-to-door apple-selling money -

Yes, I sold apples door to door.


As I was saying: spent my apple money on a new snap-together toy that promised to be new! and different! and sorta like Lego but better! somehow. At the time I realized I was completely shifting allegiances. There wasn’t any in-between here. You were a Lego guy or you were these . . . I don’t know what they were.

Except disappointing. All that apple money, gone. I learned a lesson: be very careful when switching paradigms. But that’s what they want: lock-in.

Eventually my daughter was interested in Legos, and we got a Spongebob Krusty Krab set, with all the details reproduced in blocky form. Took a lot of time to complete. She’d lose patience and interest, especially if Spongebob was on. Finished it myself.


Well, no. That’s the thing with these kits: you build them, then you let them sit there. It was so much work. There’s no other possible way to combine the pieces into something as nifty. It wasn’t until I wrote the previous sentence that I remembered the emotion you felt when you looked at something you’d built you really, really liked, something that summed up your skill and imagination, something so cool: best spaceship ever. And then, with a certain trembling excitement, you took it all apart. To do something better.

No, it wasn’t Architex; don’t know if they made it to Fargo. But this picture sums it up perfectly - the excitement you feel when you see the box, and the dismaying sight inside.

Motels - two states’ worth. Enjoy.

Tomorrow: It begins.











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