Just like that, it’s green again. It’s spring; it’s warm; it’s kind.
Just like that, there’s yard projects to do. Getting the grass to grow in the habitual dead spots, my own little patch of Carthage that was sacked, razed, and salted - that’ll be for the pros next week. This weekend I decided to shore up one of the brick walls at the end of the property. The stones had been pushed out of true by the implacable force of dirt itself, and by students sitting on the wall over the years as they wait for a bus. In order to get them all in order, I needed to dig out the dirt behind the stones and push them in.
The first stone showed the folly of this, since it would not move. It was simply too heavy, and I said “thank you, brother stone. Now I can call a handyman with a clean conscience.”
You can see the wall in in the left-hand corner. Looks okay in this shot! Maybe I should just let it be.
No, it looks askew and disheveled, and I owe it to the neighborhood to make it right.
I have always had a mortal dread of getting letters from the IRS. Silly me, I know - one of those irrational phobias! They’re just here to help. But every day I hear ads on the the radio about organizations that save people from trouble with the IRS, and they always ask if you’re one of those who dread a trip to the mailbox.
No, but I understand. There’s that month after you file your taxes where you’re sorta kinda maybe not sure everything was right. I pay someone to do it, because there are complexities relating to some things, but GIGO, and what if I missed something? THEN IT’S DEATH or at the minimum, taxes. Then I remind myself that all the people on the radio ads who are in trouble with the IRS are in trouble because they didn’t file their taxes, which is your #1 guarantee of trouble with the IRS. C’mon, man. An honest ad would be like this:
Utterly real guy: I owed $ 30,000 in taxes and penalties and didn’t know what to do, aside from calling up the IRS and filling taxes for the last six years, but then I heard about Ohcraprite Tax Relief, and they were right on the job! The calls stopped, the letters stopped, and when it was all over the IRS ended up owing ME money!
Announcer: example is rare and frankly we couldn’t believe it either
Anyway, I got a letter on Friday. But it was thin. See, when it’s bad it’s thick, because there’s 10 pages explains rights and process and all the rest you ignore because you figure, it's a fair cop. Pay up! Don't make them mad! When it’s good it’s thin. They had adjusted my refund, which was nominal, and there was only a refund because of the estimated payments I’d made before the laws changed, or WHATEVER. What counted was that it was thin.
Thus freed from worry, I was liberated: that letter was like a passing grade. Okay, relax, on with your life you can go. It was a Friday and suddenly everything felt possible.
There’s always an order to Fridays, because that’s pizza day, and I do a podcast, and spend the night on tons of web work without the pressure of uploading anything. But no: care, to the wind, be cast. No pizza. Daughter and I went to a 6:50 showing of “Isle of Dogs,” because she wanted to. I didn’t suggest it. Your Brazil-bound senior-class daughter asks you if you want to go to a movie, you rent a Caterpillar to move away all obstacles.
We both love Wes Anderson movies - I think “Grand Budapest Hotel” and its soundtrack was something of a touchstone in the parental-child relationship, to be sappy, inasmuch as it's one of those movies that says if you get this, you understand a part of me. And of course we love dogs, so. It was as delightful as I had expected, and while it didn’t have the piercing emotional spear-to-the-sternum power of a Pixar production, it didn’t intend to do that - and succeeded as a lean tale told with gorgeous, fascinating, endlessly detailed visuals. It makes you happy to think that people do things like this.
Afterwards we sat in the Chi-Fil-A lot eating sandwiches in the car and dumping on the Rotten Tomatoes critics who sniffed and pranced and sneered at the movie.
“It makes sense that we’re here after seeing -” she said. I knew exactly what she meant.
"No, we’ve been here between now and then. I know because we talked about it then."
During the Search for Scout, when all was hopeless and possible, we had come here, sat in the same car in the same spot. It was raining. Everything was off and everything was mad. That was nine months ago. A lifetime, in retrospect. But what she had meant to say was that we sat here when we were looking for a lost dog, and we’d just seen a movie about lost dogs.
Parenthood isn’t just remembering the time you went to Chik-Fil-A when the dog was gone, or the time you went there after you saw the movie and were reminded of the time the dog was gone. It’s remembering the time in between. And the time you were in the same spot by yourself, thinking of the others.
It’s just a fast-food parking lot. I have ridiculously intense memories of what happened there.
It’s probably the chicken. It’s pretty good. Yes; I’m sure it’s the chicken.
Anyway, I'd embed the trailer, but it really doesn't give the sense of the movie. It's not a thing that lends itself to trailer moments.
So, instead, this.
Subject: the poor investment returns of Crime.
Nothing stirs the blood like little, known public servants:
May I present an obviously fictitious man:
More things change, etc.
First scene: bringing a sack out of “A Florida Lagoon.” Seven bodies; one identified as Pablo Rivas. Also Russians and Chinese in the sack. Turns out they were coming from Spain, but once the smugglers sensed trouble, they put them all in the sack and threw them overboard.
Heading south for Cuba was apparently not an option.
Can’t we go to Cuba?
No, sorry. Into the sack.
But it’s close and poorly guarded. Why not -
Sorry, it’s the sack.
Then we go to the Lisbon embassy, where a Jewish immigrant has been granted entry to the US!
but has to wait a year.
He implores the kindly bureaucrat to get him in sooner, but it’s no dice.
Well, turns out the embassy has a spy who works for the smugglers, and suggests Mr. Kessler write home to his cliched family . . .
Sewing, as is their wont. He says he needs 2 grand, which wasn’t hay back then. Heck, it’s not hay now. He gets the dough and splits for Belize, and wouldn’t you know it the US Embassy tries to contact him to let him know he can get in!
But he’s in the clutches of the smugglers now. The US sends its best agents down to Belize to find him. Meanwhile, Mr. Kessler arrives in Belize, and naturally heads for . . .
Why, it's almost like Casablanca. Behold the tropicalness of the tropics:
A secret signal alerts the not-at-all-suspcious man in the next room:
Mr. Kessler is taken upstairs to meet the smugglers. Meanwhile, the government men have arrived, and are blending in like locals:
But our man Hugh Beaumont decides to take another tack: impersonations.
He secures passage on the same ship with Mr. Kessler. But as they get close to America, uh oh:
ALWAYS THE SACK WITH THESE GUYS.
But no one goes over. Destination:
Pretty big city, and nonexistent, too. Turns out they have all the refugees in sacks, and take them off the ship like cargo. But the smugglers spot the G-Men, and nix the unloading.
Hey, boss, should we just leave?
NAH GET THE CHAINS
But we can go down the coast to a place that’s deserted, and
While ICE is looking around the ship, the smugglers are using their specially-designed immigrant drowning system to unload the cargo:
So who’s in the sack?
Hugh Beaumont knows what’s going on, and makes noise; the gummint agents find him as they’re loading another sack in the murder tub. Pretty quick work here:
They save the little girl! Everyone else is okay . . . except for Mr. Kessler.
Back to Mr. District Fictitious Authority Figure:
Tidy little programmer, less than an hour. Crime, once again: didn't pay.