You’ll be happy to know that I pulled a heartwarming Father’s Day column out of my fundament in 87 minutes. Sap on tap! And I even got in some TV before expiring on the sofa. Woke this morning with the grim realization that I had not polished the column – in fact, I’d just roughed it out, sketched out the basic ideas. I had the fear I’d open the laptop and find things like “insert story here” or “unexpected but entirely perfect parental sentiment should go here, then a joke.” And this was going to be a very long day – my wife has her bunco coven tonight, which means I would not be relieved from duty until Gnat went down. The good news: I’d had a nightmare. The old recurring dream where I sold Jasperwood and moved into some crap-shack for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. It’s never about financial reversal - it 's just something I do for reasons unknown, and then the rest of the dream is a disconsolate funk. This time it was worse; the new house was across the street from Jasperwood, so I’d have to confront my mistake every time I looked out the window.

Waking to find this hadn’t happened put a nice start on the day. To my additional relief I looked at the piece – ah. It required trimming, nothing more. It was in the system by ten, and we were off on the rest of the day.

The long, long day, the slow steady march into the maw of hell. By which I mean Chuck E. Cheese’s. Interesting crowd, as usual. The kids aren’t interesting, but the parents always are. A knot of Somali women in full burqas. Big American dads with Big American Bellies. Thin well-groomed suburban women. One couple mystified me – early 20s, slackerish guy with one of those women who makes you bite right through the knuckle on your index finger. Spray-on clothes, metronome saunter. The effect on men was like watching a bottle of Absolut tied to a string and dragged through an AA meeting. No way it was his kid. No way it was hers. You could tell just by the way they acted; the kid had been fobbed off on them for a while. He didn’t mind because it meant he could spend time with her. She didn’t mind because it put a measure of distance between her and the guy, who appeared to be a place-keeper, a guy to occupy the Guy Spot until something better came along.

The clerk made me think of Judge Reinholt in that great American classic, “Fast Times at Richmond High.” He wore a Hawaiian shirt. He wore a fake lei. He had a straw hat. He had a button that identified him as a member of the Fun Patrol. His expression said it all: kill me now. Life in this clangorous cave had dulled his brain; he didn’t see faces or people, just ambulatory sacks of protoplasm in two sizes: large and small. The couple in line before me consisted of one huge beefy guy with a beard, a smallish woman in a jean skirt, and the obligatory child jumping up and down. He promised to bring the woman some apple juice. He disappeared into the kitchen. The couple went off to the dining room. A few minutes later he emerged with the apple juice – and handed it to me.

“That’s not mine,” I said. This took a while to sink in. I counted: one. Two. Three.

“Oh,” he said. “Where’d they go.” And he stumbled off to the dining room. He wasn’t high; he wasn’t stupid. He was an ordinary kid with the worst fargin’ job in the mall. He was a member of the Fun Patrol.

I considered asking him what it took to get into the Fun Patrol, but thought better of it.

Even Chuck E. Cheese’s couldn’t ruin a fine day. We went to the pool again. Afterwards we came home and fell asleep on the sofa downstairs – first time I’ve napped in a long time. Very sweet. I ate dinner before CeC’s, so I didn’t have to eat that vile sugary circular krep. I didn’t listen to much news today, which improved my mood considerably. The house is clean and the bills are paid; as is our tradition when I have her all night, she’s rotting her brain with Kipper cartoons while I write at the kitchen table.

Instyprof was kind enough to link to this piece I wrote on Fargo. I think it turned out well. At least I hope so; I can’t bear to read anything I write. It wasn’t the easiest thing to write, since the subject – Fargo – was rather open-ended, eh? I could do 50 words on Fargo or 50,000, but 3K was tough.

The Drunk called again last night. I mentioned this Wednesday – someone from the past who had read something I wrote, and was horrified to discover that someone with whom he had once had a conversation about classical music now believed in lowered marginal tax rates; if he does it again tonight I have to put my foot down, preferably on his carotid artery. I don’t know what compels someone to call up out of the blue and attempt to demolish another’s belief system with one-word arguments that consist entirely of nouns (Enron! C’mon! Halliburton! Education!) but it is instructive, I suppose. He had no arguments, only assertions. We’re in a depression, for examples. There are no news jobs. Informed that there are new jobs, he insisted that they were bad jobs. Burger flipping jobs. An’ the world hates us!

When have they loved us?

They hate us now.

Does the world hate Sudan?

S’dan? What have they done to anyone?

M'kay. It was all very depressing, but revealing: in his long list of grievances and horrors, there was one conspicuous absence: terrorism. Not even on the radar. Enron, yes. Islamic fascism, no.

I’m quite surprised: the evening news is playing 9/11 footage. Fox local is covering the commission’s latest release, and – get this – we were unprepared on 9/11. What’s more, we now know how “unprepared the military was to deal with the hijackings.”

Yes, because we all know that the job of the military is to deal with hijacked airplanes. Let us imagine that the jets were scrambled, and they shot down all four planes before they reached their targets, and splashed two other commercial airliners for the wrong reason. We’d be talking about the reelection chances for President Cheney.

Switch to the stand-up reporter in front of a monitor. She says:

“Four planes. Four bombs. Four chances to take control. We never did.”


What? Leaving aside the fact that the passengers of one of the jets apparently did take control, or at least thwart the mission, what does she mean? Well, let’s hit play and find out.

Footage of the planes approaching the tower. No shots of the impact, God forbid. Can’t see that. Cut to a man in a nice suit being interviewed: “Everyone is to blame to some degree.”

Next story: Rumsfeld comments about the Secret Prisoner who was moved without notifying the International Red Cross, the Hague, the EU Cheese-Accrediting Bureau, and the Columbia Record House. The anchorperson helpfully informs us that this violates the Geneva Accords. Next story: an American shown blindfolded, held hostage; photos from the internet with his captors in hoods holding guns.

The anchorperson neglects to opine on whether this violates international law.

And why should she?

That’s relevant, how?


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c. 1995-2004 j. lileks