Daughter comes back from camp tomorrow, and perhaps we will get the final document that lets me start the visa process. START. It’s driving me crazy. It won’t be here in time. She’ll have to change her flight, not go with the group, will be alone when changing planes, will be abducted. The phone will ring - a scratchy line with a faint echo, as though someone is calling from a cave made entirely of dead electricity - and we will be asked why she wasn’t there at the airport. Did she leave? Did they have the date wrong?

INSTANT CATASTROPHE is my modus operandus these days. Operandi? Plural, way of operating, as opposed to modus vivendi, way of living. What’s the difference? Either one - I can ramp up to disaster on just about anything these days, and I expect that will be the case until the evening of the 14th August. I will explain that later. That’s what I’m working towards. The 14th of August. You’ll have to wait.

Lovely day. Watered a lot to feed the sod. One little part is starting to brown, which suggests grubs, even though I put down anti-grub powder. Target and Wal-Mart have built their evening webs, although Target moved away from his previous locations, perhaps having learned that the Giants Who Cannot Be Eaten walk into them and ruin the work. I handed in one column for the magazine and wrote another architecture piece for the paper - always good to end a Monday with two pieces under the belt.

“Focus on the work,” my editor said, upon realizing I was fraught and frazzled. “Just clear everything else aside and focus on the work.”

“Easy for you to say, boss person. Telling me to do my job and all that.”

I’d come to her with three ideas, and we picked one and I sat down and wrote it. The job took 45 minutes, not counting a trip outside to be outside, and a trip to the upstairs pantry for some coffee. There wasn’t any coffee. Tragedy of the commons: no one had made Java or Woodside, the two blends whose names tell you “dark” and “light.” So I made two batches and waited looking out the window at the tableau below. (The Bleat Banner above.) I thought of how good I had it, compared to the boys in the cave. Many of us are well-served by claustrophobia, and hence will never find ourselves in caves except in dreams where we are crawling into passages that diminish in diameter, and we cannot back up because there is someone behind us. That’s enough to make most people wake gasping, so the idea of actually going deep into a cave that does not have the constant height of Chartes Cathedral is anathema. I know there are enthusiastic spelunkers who have the grit to explore the depths, and while I find that impressive, it’s like learning that some people like to sleep in boxes filled entirely with centipedes.

I think I would be the last person out and I’d ask the divers who came for the other guy to also bring a gun, or some fast-acting poison.

What? Don’t you want to be rescued? It’s only three hours of swimming through dark mud in spaces that make you feel like a rat in a garden hose.

No, thanks, I’ll be fine. Gun for me! Ta!

By now the coffee was ready. Back to work. After supper I got a haircut from a new stylist at the Great Clips; she was new in many ways, and read from a card to tell me her name and what I would like her to do. Since I didn’t have my glasses on I couldn’t see what she was doing, and all the tentative clipping and moving around with no discernible objectives made me think I’d be bald at the end, because of MODUS CATASTROPHUS.

It was a pretty good cut, which means the visa will probably get here in time.

The amusing part about all of this, as I keep saying, is that I have high stress over whether I’ll be able to get the documents that guarantee Daughter goes away. It’s really win-win. Also, I’m pretty sure her Brazilian family lives in a cave.

August 14.

August 14. Colman Mustard Moment.

August 14.









Tintin popped up in Netflix, and I had to see it again. We saw it in the theater - daughter was 11, and had no idea what Tintin meant to me, so of course I had to subject her to a lecture on that, and tell her afterwards about all the hints and winks the movie made to long-time fans. I suppose it would be like my dad getting excited about a Brick Bradford movie in 1969, or something.

Actually, I can’t imagine my dad getting excited about something from his childhood. I’m not sure they even had a radio.

Anyway, as I’m sure I said before, someone - Mom or more likely Grandma, who was liked to buy me things - gave me the Tintin book about the moon trip when I was, oh, 8 or 9; it absolutely and completely captured my imagination for its story, characters, setting (Syldavia! Hidden atomic facilities!) and cliffhanger. I grew up not knowing what happened to Tintin on the moon, since Fargo didn’t seem to have any Tintin books aside from the one Grandma bought at the drugstore.

It made Europe seem very civilized and intriguing. (And this was Belgium.) There weren’t any superheroes. No one had powers. There were spies, and danger, and every boy’s favorite, massive underground secret scientific complexes. Of all the characters, I loved Captain Haddock the most. A man of cheer and temper, courage and quavering doubt if he found himself in a situation that really would be a wee bit better after a drink.

If I’d read the books from the start, I would have known that Haddock started out as a disreputable lush. That’s how the movie introduces him, and plays him for a great part of the movie. He’s a sobbing, slobbering wreck, and it’s played so intensely that his eventual transformation isn’t entirely convincing. The whole tone of the movie is too loud and fast; you can see where the studio execs said MOAR 3D.

But here’s the thing: all of those set-pieces are really good. If Tintin himself comes across as something of a bore - earnest, on the job, resourceful - that’s because he was, and that was fine.

Here’s the main thing: it’s an obvious labor of love by Spielberg - you can feel his adoration of the source material in every second of the movie, just as you feel the reverence overridden by the demands of the genre. Action! Blows to the head! Otherwise the kids get restive, and this is or kids. Well, kids and families, and hence, excitement! A really good adaptation would have been a bit more leisurely, and naturalistic, but you can’t pack in the kids with a talky Tintin that lifted the story out of the comic-book origins into something, well, worthy of a Bale-period Batman.

But here’s the other thing: I know I was grinning like a fool when Nestor or Castafiore or even the Tall-Nosed Henchman came on screen, because they just nailed it, and it really was your childhood stories come to life.

Snowy’s off. It says something about the early years of computer-generated animation, no? The one thing that always gave them trouble . . . is dogs.

Because there’s something about dogs.




It’s 1937.

Punch up a brunch much with . . .

I have never heard cucumbers described as “spicy” or pickles described as “lush.”

Pickle. At some point the word became plural, it seems.



Oh just flush the sodding thing once in a while.

That said, there’s nothing you’d want to avoid more than a Hot Toilet.



3 Last year: that healthy glow! This year: BLEACH YOUR FLESH

Othine Flesh-Bleach! Now with scientific Xytheleneochrloic!

Works overnight. Promise! Note: some of the white will be bone

Good Lord, look at the size of that thing: it would reduce your gas mileage.

We’ve discussed the venerable Crosley brand before, and how it’s been revived for a line of “retro” radios and record players, most of which look pretty damned spiffy, although they seem to have reduced the variety of styles.

The first car radio, of course, was . . . Motorola. It cost about 1/5th as much as an actual car; imagine paying 6K for a satellite radio set in your modern auto. The price came down, and by the middle of the 40s there were 9 million AM radios in cars.

Here’s the thing: the Crosley radio was made by . . . Motorola.



  Modern kids require liquified young beef packed under a vacuum.


Modern women are Mercolized and Saxolited:

The name ‘Mercolized Wax’, was not a chemical term but rather a trademark taken out by the Dearborn Supply Company in 1911.

They also made Stallax, Silmerine, Stymol, Colliandum, Prolactum, and other things that sound like sci-fi alien names.


It’s paint! Just paint, that’s all.

Five cents more in Canada because SCREW YOU, YA BLOTCHY CANUCKS

It looks more like chili than Coke.

No boss I swear I did not go in the backroom with Martha and smoke reefer and she did my brows it was nothing like that.

“Oh, you know what I mean. Not sex! Not sex stuff at all. Silly billy.”

Okay, that was that, for some reason. More tomorrow, for some reason. See you around.


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