Daughter today on the way as we got in the car:
“Hey Dad have you heard that in 2012-”
“It is?” She was relieved. “But the Mayans say it’s the end of the world.”
“How would they know?”
“They had a calendar and everything and it doesn’t go after 2012.”
“I got your school calendar today in the mail, and it ends in June. That doesn’t mean the world ends.”
“Anyway, there aren’t any Mayans. I mean there’s no Mayan civilization. Or Aztec. Or Toltec.”
“What happened to them all?”
“Too much war, and a bunch of guys in tin suits with magic weapons showed up. Germs and politics.”
“Oh.” Pause. “They cut out hearts.”
“Some of them. Where you’d learn that?”
“A book in media class. They were like . . . Nazis or something. Hey can I see that game where you fight Nazis again?”
“It was funny when I asked ‘Can I play, Daddy.’”
It was amusing: I’d been setting up the game, and she’d come into my studio. She asked if she could play, Daddy, then burst into laughter: the first option for the difficulty setting was “Can I play, Daddy.”
It’s all a variant of Doom. Ask a guy of a certain age how he wants his gaming, and he’ll tell you: Hurt Me Plenty.
The matter of the 2012 issue solved, we drove to her friend’s house.
A day at home, working. I’d hoped for a day with my daughter, but in the afternoon she got a call to see a friend, so I was on my oddy-knocky after lunch. Didn’t even get to make her mac and cheese. Not that she’d know, but: we used to have that for lunch every day. At first it was this . . . stuff that came in a microwavable tin, for pre-toddlers. The great thrill: spreading it over the high-chair table in a sticky paste, jamming fistfuls in the maw, grinning, slapping the hands on the high-chair table to send undetectable molecules to adhere to the woodwork, the wall, the dog. This was followed by Easy Mac, which was slightly less gag-provoking. I’d pick up the chair and fly her over to the microwave, and she’d punch in the numbers, giggling. Just the two of us, at home, on a winter noon. It was like that for a long time. I’m certain that winter lasted two years.
It would be sad to say it seemed like yesterday. Doesn’t. Seems like a very long time ago. But I can still imagine her sitting at the tiny table, playing the annual Barbie game on the computer. We slipped out of the Barbiestream long ago, so I’m not sure what this Christmas’ brand-extension is; she lost interest around Unicornia, or whatever it was called. No: Pegasus. The toy of the season was a Pegasus, noted for having one wing fall off in mid-flight all the time. I named her Icarus. Each year there was a new toy, a new DVD, a new game. They never hit three-for-three. “Princess and the Pauper” was the best movie, at least from the standpoint of a dad who had to hear the soundtrack six time a day, and it was competently animated; the rest looked like Claymation made by people wearing oven mitts. The game was difficult, though. The dolls were duplicate Barbies who had conversations, mostly of the empowering sort. After that, though, it was all flying horses and fairy-tale nonsense.
But that’s where she got her start as a gamer: Barbie. There was a first-person shooter portion in one game. You had to walk through a maze and break through barriers. Doom for kindergarten girls. The point of the game was to rescue Prince Stefan, not be rescued by him. As far as I can tell in the Barbieverse, the prices just stand around and look gallant, and the women do all the work.
So, yes, one of those days, notable for the absences and deletions and other inevitable side-effects of rolling around the sun and passing through time. Although that doesn’t sound right; time isn’t waiting for us to arrive, and it doesn’t exist after we’ve passed through. Time, like Indiana Jones, is just making it up as it goes along.
Did a Newsbreak interview yesterday about a new galaxy discovered by some Minnesotans. Lots of gas but no stars. “You might think that’s a definition of Joan Rivers on Oscar night before the limos arrive,” I said, hardy har. (If you hit the link, wait for the peculiar George Lucas detail.) I love new galaxy stories. I love learning that someone pointed a telescope at an empty patch and found 1000 new spiral galaxies, each of which no doubt teems with life. Yes, I think that’s so, and no, I’ve no good explanation for why we haven’t been visited by Vulcans. I’m a fan of the multiverse theory, and I’d also be comfy with the notion that this is one of an infinite number of iteration of the universe, each with their own laws. It would be a pity if we ended up in the one whose laws were A) everything’s far apart, and B) you can’t get there, but them’s the breaks. Some galaxies, however, have it worse off. You get those peculiar ones with enormous rapacious black holes in the middle and just a smattering of stars, you think: bad neighborhood. Imagine being a sentient being in a system that evolves sufficiently to figure out it’s going to be eaten by a black hole in a few thousand years, and how this would affect society. If you knew it would be all over in 2000 years, who would build? Would anyone try to escape if there were no systems to which you could flee? Futility would be the handmaiden at every act of creation. Or it might make everything precious. Or, most likely, both, and neither. Some people would still live their lives, go to work, make what they could for their ration of time. A great many would use the expiration date as the validation of the standard-issue nihilism that affects those with attenuated adolescence, and clothe their selfishness in philosophy.
And now, some aspirin.
Yes, over the years people have sent me many things, including old aspirin tins. This might give you an indication of the quantity of stuff yet to be scanned and posted. If I waited a few more years we’d have holographic scanners, and you could see these in 3D, but I’m just an impatient sort.
All that’s left of the brand these days is the children’s version, it seems:
One dime for 12 pellets of willow-bark, as the Romans would have called it.
The brand, like Woolworth’s, has assumed a new life in Australia.
This color can only be described as mid-century medical:
Ever heard of McKesson? No? Largest health care company in the world – now. According to this entry in wikipedia, anyway.
They’ve come a long way from the scandal that followed when a bootlegger bought the joint and ran some funny-paper scams.
Later today: the start of the 1934 Sears Catalog site. And of course 100 Mysteries! See you soon. Also, column up at startribune.com – don’t have the link at the moment, but just scroll yourself down and it’s there, by my face. Or my name. Either will do.
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A Book I Recommend
The Distant Past
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