Oh, I’m full of vim today. Good vim! I think. First of all, the usual banalities before we move on to the special banalities. The basement storage room proceeds apace. This morning Jon started framing it up, using a nail gun whose single reports could be heard two floors up. The thing about a nail gun in this: it makes a sound you expect to hear again, soon, but you don’t, until you do. You can’t predict it. You forget all about it. Then BANG, the sound of metal expelled into wood and concrete. Freaks out the dog, I’ll tell you that. But even that is a good sign; shows he's still awake, still engaged. Some day he won't care. I do not wish for that day to come soon.

This afternoon we had errands in the north part of town; my wife suggested we stop off at Har-Mar Mall and do the rides. Fine. I hadn’t been to Har Mar in years – well, ever, now that I think about it. City Pages named it the “Best mall of the Twin Cities” a few years ago, which is just nonsense – if you want do any shopping, anyway. They thought it was the best because it was downscale, small and unpretentious. (“Readers Choice: Mall of America.” Big surprise.) But it has its charms. It was built in 1961, and it’s been renovated in fits and starts, so it’s sort of an architectural Frankenstein. The hallway pavers are from the 70s; they’re brown and orange, the holy hues of the era; they give way to the salt-and-pepper terrazzo from ’61 in the big barrel-vaulted main hall. The bathrooms, which I had the misfortune of using, are 80s-style black and white, and the toilet lid looked like someone waved a flame-thrower at it. Very odd. The sort of bathroom where you feel compelled to operate everything with knees and elbows.

The rides were sad. Four coin-op rides around a cylinder that had HAR MAR KIDS written in black tape. Tape. The rocketship ride jumped up and down: big whoop. The race car was fun, because I pretended Gnat was running me down. The airplane did not work. The last was a big plastic covered wagon. The coinbox gave the name, telex and fax number of its Italian manufacturer. I suppose that explains the words on the side of the wagon: FAR WEST. You all remember that Robert Conrad show set in the 19th century, don’t you? FAR FAR WEST. Sigh. Typical Europeans! Can’t be bothered to understand other cultures, get the details right.

Just kidding. Then we went to the pet store, which had that rich animal stink you only get when you combine dogs, fish, turtles, and various rodents into one small room with limited ventilation. Whoa. The puppies – or baby puppies, as Gnat called them – all went for more than $400, which just seems wrong. Get one at the pound and give the money to the shelter, I say. Granted, purebreds cost extra. You want the dog, you pony up. But give me a mutt any day. They’re individuals. I think some people want a particular breed so they can keep the same dog going over the years – even though temperament varies within the breed, they look the same. I’d love another Jasper Dog someday, but there’s something special about the idea that he’s one of a kind.

Back in the car. The rain came. Fifty minutes of pouring pounding rain. Gnat fell asleep while I eked my way through side streets. You know, my general highway-phobia has a nifty payoff; I see the city the way people saw it before they carved out huge gashes and laid down the interstates. The slower you drive, the bigger the world seems. (By “highway-phobia,” incidentally, I mean my dread of getting stuck in interminable jams with no possibility of exit for a half an hour. Makes me breathe poorly, that does. Makes me tight in the chestal area. Wide open highways on which I can drive 90 are A-okay, on the other hand.) I love the small commercial nodes left behind by the vanished trolley car system – you can tell where the cars used to stop, because there’s always some old brick buidings from the 20s crowding the corners. Two stories – stores on the ground floor, apartment buildings for singles, old maids, drifters and lonely souls above. The antithesis of these corners are those strange intersections where once there stood four gas stations, erected in the bitter genocidal Gas Wars of the 60s. As much as I love gas stations, I regret those four-station corners – they demolish the peculiar humanism you get with four two-story brick buildings crowding the sidewalk. Even if the stations turn into other stores, which they often do, they have the tell-tale taint of a two-bay gas station sitting in the back of the lot like motionless lizards waiting for prey. If you want to reclaim the city, you have to knock it down and start again

Home. Made salmon. The salad was topped with Green Goddess dressing, which I didn’t know was an endangered species until I read about it in that Crap Grandma Liked catalog I referenced the other day.

The Green Goddess is a salad dressing. And a fire engine. And a drink beloved by Mr. 666 himself. And an ear candle. You know, a candle you put in your ear and light, to draw out the wax.

Ear Candling is an alternative method that has been used for centuries. Ear Candling is NOT intended to be a substitute for any medical treatment nor is it the practice of medicine. Ear Candling is NOT intended to treat or cure any medical ailments or diseases.

I believe they are speaking the truth. My favorite line:

Some people find the process to be so relaxing that they fall asleep during the candling.

Mm hmm. And “Urethra Sparklers” are so soothing you often nod off during that prodecure, too.

What was it, really? Acccording to one site, it was a special concoction that made you go backwards in time and die before you were born:

History: It was created at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel (now called the Sheraton-Palace) in the 1920s. The Palace Hotel was built in 1875 and was San Francisco’s first grant lodging. The hotel chef named the dressing for English actor George Arliss (1868-1846), who stayed there while performing in the play called The Green Goddess. This play was considered the best play of the 1920-21 Broadway season and it later became on the earliest “talkie” movies in 1930.

It was also a movie in 1923. Basic plot:

An airplane carrying three Brits--Major Crespin, his wife Lucille, and Dr. Trahern--crash lands in the kingdom of Rukh. The Rajah holds them prisoner because the British are about to execute his three half-brothers in neighboring India. His subjects believe that their Green Goddess has given them the lives of the three Brits as payment for the lives of the Rajah's brothers. They will execute them when the brothers are executed. Trahern and the Crespins must figure a way to use the Rajah's radio to call India for help.

The movie was remade in 1943, too. The Working title was “Green Goddess.”

The final title: “Adventure in Iraq.”

I had intended to use this as a springboard for screedishness, but we had a Child-Care Situation. Gnat doesn’t want to sleep. I’ve just spent an hour playing gotcha. She gets up. I send her back. She gets up. I send her back to her room. She cries. “Go to your room,” she says between sobs, “and close the door. Lock it.”


"I don’t know. Just do it, please."

So I do, knowing what she means. If I’m in my studio working, I won’t hear her get out of bed. So I lock my door, tiptoe downstairs, stand on the stairs, and wait. Sure enough; here she comes. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

So the big long blast o’ drivel will have to wait until tomorrow. Although I can’t resist pointing you to this. Tacky-fingered CD enthusiast and ageless fop Rex Reed has seen “Fahrenheit 9/11,” and he not only drank the Kool-Aid but ordered up another gallon for a high colonic. I love this:

No need to talk about plans to build an underground pipeline through Afghanistan pumping money into a company owned by Vice President Dick Cheney. Alarmingly, it’s all gone unreported by an irresponsible press corps.

Dick Cheney owns Unocal! Who knew? He continues:

Moore) accuses them of lying about their motivations for declaring war against Iraq, a country that never threatened America in the first place, killing thousands of innocent civilians in retaliation for the acts of 9/11 aggression, although not one of the terrorists was from Iraq, and killing more than 800 of our own American kids (all from ethnic or working-class families).

In Rex’s world, to accuse someone is the equivalent of proving it’s true. Parse the grammar: Bush killed 800 American ethnic working-class kids. The fascist remnants of the regime? Blameless patriots, I guess. Now, some old-time moral equivalence:

Nobody denies that Saddam Hussein was a monster, but not the Iraqi women and children who have been "saved" from one villain only to be burned and shot and maimed for life without arms and legs by villains in a different uniform.

Set aside for a moment the incoherence of the prose, and set aside the ritual denunciation of Saddam. Bad Saddam! We frown in your general direction, frowningly, and if anyone puts on a play that artfully describes the plight of gays and women in your country, we will give it FOUR STARS and write stern denunciations of Reagan-era policy that favored you over Iran, which also suppressed gays and women, but that's another play and WAITER ! I ORDERED THE CALIMARI? PLEASE? WHILE WE'RE YOUNG? Anyway, consider this remarkable clause: “villains in a different uniform.” All of a sudden the “ethnic working class kids” are villains. We must therefore be obligated to spit on them if we see them in uniform at the airport, I assume. But it gets worse:

At the same time, Mr. Moore shows Mr. Bush justifying American atrocities against Saddam Hussein by actually saying to the camera, "He tried to kill my daddy."

Atrocities against Saddam Hussein?

Atrocities against Saddam Hussein?

Forgive me; it’s late. I’m really tired. I’ve tried to take a run at that paragraph a half dozen times, and I keep running into a thick brick wall. I cannot get past the fact that Rex Reed thinks we committed atrocities against Saddam Hussein. It shatters my faith in my profession. Is there no copy desk at the Observer? Is there no one to point out that Bush’s statement preceded the Iraq campaign? Does it not matter to Mr. Reed that Saddam did indeed try to kill Bush 41?

Who’s the object of sympathy in Rex Reed’s remarks?

Here’s the quote that matters:

Mr. Moore, who has tackled corporate greed (Roger & Me) and gun control (Bowling for Columbine), now feels driven and obligated to strip the façade from a swaggering, bow-legged, grammatically challenged bully and a cabinet that is beginning to look more like the Third Reich every day.

Does this sort of rhetoric make us more likely to accurately identify future Hitlers, or less? I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat myself. You have Bush. You have Saddam.

One is a meglomanical dictator with a small moustache who killed millions, gassed ethnic minorities, annexed a neighbor state and paid underlings to kill Jews.

The other is Hitler.

I know I'm an unsophsiticated partisan blinded by ideology, but something about that equation just strikes me wrong. Rex! Help me out here. Who's Condi Rice? Goebbels, or Goering?

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