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Gamera’s Kazoo | The Bleat.

Bin Laden’s dead? Good. By the end of the day the conspiracy theories among bin Laden’s followers will be A) he’s still alive, and B) the Jews killed him.

Sunday:

Orchestra Hall, last concert of the season, last time on the stage until fall returns and we’re back indoors for Culture. Yes, the final spring concert. I remember so many, and they’re all warm memories. Literally. Perhaps this one was a bit early. May first did not feel like spring.

It snowed.

Just a few flakes, tiny mites that didn’t live long to hit the ground, but gawd. Snow. It’s happened before. Still: felt like March, and it brought that strange nasty panic in the back of your head, as if you’ve been released from jail, spun around, and kicked right back behind the bars. Ha ha! Cold spring, absent summer. So sorry. Maybe next time. Or maybe not!

Please no. Not this year. Anyway, it was a fine concert; the Symphony concluded with Harold in Italy by Berlioz, a piece commissioned by Paganini. He declined to play it when he read the score and noted there were several passages in which he was not, in fact, playing. Won’t do, old boy, people come to hear the devil saw without pause, don’t you know.

Aw, damn: William Campbell died. He was the “Squire of Gothos” on original Trek, but more beloved for playing Koloth. He appeared in a cheap little number in B&W World, here.

Wrote this Saturday night:

Windy night, which means a long razz from the window kazoo. There are three ancient panes in my studio, with the original frames – there’s a date carved on the side of one, and even after a few coats of paint you can make it out: 1915. The hardware is original. The panes hang on an old metal hook, and there’s a metal arm that lets you prop open the pane and let in fresh air. And bugs. It’s the most archaic thing in Jasperwood. The middle pane cannot be replaced or dislodged, and this seems to bring it grief: when the wind rises, it finds a crevasse, bores in, and issues a nasal, metallic, tortured cry. Imagine a cicada the size of Gamera farting though a harmonica. I’m downstairs now, and I can hear it.

It’s Saturday night, I should add. Daughter has two friends here for a sleepover. I hear a few thumps upstairs in her room. The lights will be off in a few minutes. The chatter in the dark will commence. No decent parent would ever bug a sleepover, but no parent wouldn’t want to. Secrets will be passed, trials and tales related in hushed tones; the subject of BOYS may hang in the air, a tremulous thing made of fancy and fear, a strange confection. Between the Icky and the OMG, they are.

Earlier tonight they watched “Imagine That,” a movie containing large amounts of Eddie Murphy. One kid has a dad who works on the technical side of movies – sets, electricity, that sort of thing – and she told us that Mr. Murphy was “difficult.” Kids today.

It was rainy, so I curtailed my errands. Had no desire to go to Target. At all. Went to the local Walgreen’s, where my suspicions of the last few weeks was confirmed: they appear to have dumped the house brand of popcorn. This is a problem. They had a deal: two boxes of six-pack single-serv 100 calorie bags for three bucks. Now it’s all Orville Fargin’ Reddenbacher, with the usual confusions: one bag is 2 servings, which is 150 calories per two cups, or 20 calories unpopped, which is one-half-cup, which is .67 servings – for GOD’S SAKE. WHY does popcorn give the nutritional information for “unpopped” popcorn? Are there people out there with iron teeth who gnaw on a bag for sustenance? Dismayed, I put back my empty basket, hoping I could find a manager who would assure me that it was just a supply problem, the popcorn would return, but I know better. And thus are my trips to Walgreen ended. I went for a particular item, and usually picked up more stuff. No more. But.

But. I went to the local grocery store to get provisions to hold us over for a while. The expensive store. My. Lord. Everything was eleventy ninety-nine, compared to Target or Cub or Rainbow, and after a while the shopping was painful. No! I’m not paying that for coffee. No! I’m not paying that for sausage. At Target the rote ration of ground sausage is $2.29, and here it’s $5.99 because it’s organic and free of everything some people wish to be free of, and there’s no alternative. A tiny bottle of blood-orange juice (organic) is $3.99. The milk is drawn from cows who walk around in silk boots and deposit their offal in lace-trimmed bags. Oh, it’s all delicious; the quality is astonishing. But I watch people pushing their carts down the aisle, and search their faces for panic and shock: are you all bamillionaires? How much do you have to make before you shrug at nine-dollar pasta sauce?

It’s my problem; I’m cheap, I guess. I try to feed the family for a week on a hundred-fifty bucks, and I usually can do it. But I go to this store all the time, and I’ve never seen things seem A) absurdly high, and B) non-essential. That’s the grim intersection: the middle-class, which felt rich, was happy to buy $3.99 organic blood-orange juice, because it flattered a set of assumptions they had come to believe about their lives. When that ends, a lot of things end.

The store didn’t have any single-serv popcorn bags. They had a cheap brand, a General Mills medium-price brand, and a high-end organic brand with Paul Newman on the box, pretending to be a character in a Grant Wood painting. I thought: so now it’s the internet, finding a supplier, buying in bulk. Just like cigars. Everything that isn’t perishable moves to the web.

And this is bad, why? I don’t like going to Walgreens. More or less I hate drug stores. Screw ‘em.

Note: I have been informed that Trader Joe’s has a suitable replacement. Will investigate.

The next novel is underway. Why? Because it’s easier to write it than revise the previous one, that’s why. The surest, most justifiable rationale for plunging into Skid Row Jack is this: since all five novels in the sequence are connected, I can’t possibly revise the first one until I know how everything works. Right?

Lies, lies, damned lies. The novels are loosely connected. There are common characters, one central crime that binds the third and the fifth together, but they stand alone; they have to. But. The more I assemble this story, the more connections I see, and there’s always a great pleasure for the reader when something surfaces late in a series, and ties things up. In the end it will be a novel of three newspapers, as well – the Daily, the Star-Tribune, and the fictional Citizen-Herald, where all the characters eventually end up. The book I started is the third, set in 1947 / 1953, and it’s something I’ve been trying to write for years. Every day I enter the office I pass through the portals of black stone, past the date engraved in the site of the building. Been trying to write a post-war hard-boiled 40s mystery set in the paper for years, based on the Casablanca Murders. When I started the book that turned out to be the 5th in the series, I referenced the Casablanca Murders as a backstory for the events, but now that I’m doing the series, there’s no reason not to dive in.

Excuse me for a second; I have to come up with the end point of the novel, the character who’s responsible for the crimes. This should take five minutes.

(break)

Well, that took two minutes. Easy enough; it was right there on the page I just wrote a few hours ago. So now it’s just a matter of getting from here to there, and at the same pace.

New Matchbook, and new Joe Ohio. See you around.

 

93 Responses to Gamera’s Kazoo

  1. Vader says:

    “Bin Laden’s dead? Good. By the end of the day the conspiracy theories among bin Laden’s followers will be A) he’s still alive, and B) the Jews killed him. ”

    This.

  2. hpoulter, as much as we have agreed about, you may have noted already I do not shrink from a challenge. You can call my comment unseemly all you wish and then just wish to let it go. Were you truly sincere in “letting it go” I doubt you would have felt compelled to call me out in such a manner. I accused you of nothing in any of my remarks. I do find it interesting that you feel defensive enough about my observations of the conduct of others to have to provide me with just a slight touch of slime.

  3. I hate it when mommy and daddy fight :(

  4. ScottG says:

    “Vader says:
    May 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    “Bin Laden’s dead? Good. By the end of the day the conspiracy theories among bin Laden’s followers will be A) he’s still alive, and B) the Jews killed him. ”

    This.”

    Psst, Vader. I have it on good authority from a friend in Mossad that the one on the trigger who killed OBL is little Haddasseh Kohen. A nice rabbi’s daughter from Tiberias….

    Burn this letter.

  5. Oh come now. This is 18th century gentlemanly discourse. Kind of like what Burr and Hamilton engaged in before . . . well, you know.

  6. or a brotherly spat, Like Cain and Abel.

  7. I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you, that I have to be the one to post this:
    http://lileks.com/match/gallery/407.html
    That is, the correct matchbook link, after more than 50 comments! Sorry it’s kinda lame matchbook, though.

  8. Paul S says:

    Actually, this conspiracy theorist doubts that Osama bin Laden ever existed. Emmanuel Goldstein, anyone?

  9. hpoulter says:

    Sorry, Mark. I am not trying to call you out, and I see nothing to be defensive about. We are apparently talking about different things, since I don’t understsand what you are mad about. If you didn’t mean to imply that the celebrators were acting like the Palestinians on 9/11, then I sincerely apologize, since that’s what I thought you were appearing to say, though obviously not really meaning it.

    I am not trying to throw slime, and I purposely chose “unseemly” as a mild, semi-humorous word, since it is kind of a “Miss Manners” term. Absolutely no offense intended.

  10. Very well then. I quite understand now and my sincere apologies as well. My seconds were in any event unaccountably delayed whilst obtaining some laudanum to boost their flagging spirits. Our collective honour has been satisfied.

    See, this is what happens when you read too many books about Aubrey and Maturin.

  11. GardenStater says:

    @bgbear: “I hate it when mommy and daddy fight”

    Gave me a good chuckle, that one did.

    Say, when will Lileks organize a Bleat cruise? I bet there’d be lots of takers for that one!

  12. Mr_Hat says:

    A bleat cruise? We’ve got a passel of admitted skinflints and several more folks who are stretching to make ends meet. Doubt that many bleatniks would be up for that kind of adventure.

    bin Laden be laid down. Good. There are still many more, probably hundreds in Abbottabad alone. (And is the suburb of that town Costellobad?)

  13. Hmm, not sure Mr_Hat. The real question might then become, who’s on first?

  14. Brian Lutz says:

    Cruising really isn’t THAT expensive, at least on the more mainstream lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, etc.) Panama Canal on a luxury line like Crystal would definitely be pushing it though…

  15. Al Federber says:

    We’ll never know for sure if bin Laden was killed or not. But beyond that, what is worrisome now is that a sizeable “retaliatory” terror attack in the U. S. would give the Feds all the excuse they need to curtail even more of our liberty, and – given the newly ginned-up patriotic fervor of Boobus Americanus – the public would go along with it even more willingly than they already have, if that’s possible.

    It is quite troubling, and I see no good coming out of it. It’s too well-timed.

  16. Cory says:

    They should not have killed Bin Laden.
    They should have captured him and made him go through airport security continuously for the rest of his life.

  17. If I had the cash for a Bleat Cruise, I think I would hire an athletic, good-looking, and charming actor to play me on the cruise.

    I would also attend and be the guy wearing the “anonymous reader” name tag.

    @Mr. Hat Some of these terrorist have interesting names, Wahat is the name of the first terrorist. Wahu is the name of the second terrorist. Who is the terrorist I shoot first? No, Wahat is the name of the first terrorist. . .

  18. I think Al is ready to start the “deather” movement ;)

  19. Oh, daether meme was well underway before Al decided too mention it. Tinfoil is always in plentiful supply.

  20. Terry Fitz says:

    Al’s a schnauzer (see John Robinson post from last week). I’ve been waiting this long to call a lefty a schnauzer – as in “cute as a schnauzer and just as predictible in his responses”. And before anyone says it…I never claimed to be mature.

  21. grs says:

    Only Al could think the death of bin Laden is quite troubling and nothing good will come of it.

  22. Be better if it were poorly timed….

  23. Terry, you have nothing to explain. I referred to Al as Gollum for quite some time.

  24. madCanada says:

    Congrats on your catharsis, American friends. It all played out sweet. Elegantly done. May sunnier, safer, more harmonious days ensue, everywhere.

  25. Thanks for the good wishes madCanada. We sincerely hope the same for our neighbors to the North.

  26. chrisbcritter says:

    I posted this on another board I frequent, but it’s just as good here: The last time I was so satisfied to hear someone was dead was when John Wayne Gacy was executed.

  27. Same here, chrisbcritter. I lived in IL when Gacy was up to his antics and even had occasion to make prisoner transports to Channahon where he dumped some of his victims. I had a quiet drink by myself in quiet satisfaction years later in CA when they gave him the needle.

    Then again I had the same response when they tied the rope for Saddam Hussein.

    I’m hellbound without doubt, unforgiving geezer that I am.

  28. pfsm says:

    <>

    No. Now they promise you armageddon from an added 0.001 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But…they can fix it! Just send money!

  29. hpoulter says:

    yeah, I don’ think we’re largely a cruise crowd, unless it were a cruise by bus. Surely somebody has one of those classic Greyhound Scenicruisers fully restored and available for charter.
    OTOH, being cooped up on a bus with a passel of rabid bleatniks might not be OGH’s idea of heaven. “Flintstones! Meet the Flintstones!…”

    How bout Disney World? He could attend via big-screen video presentation from an undisclosed location.

  30. pfsm says:

    A quote from a previous post about scientists is what’s missing between those less-than and greater-than marks.

  31. swschrad says:

    I don’t care whether you’ve got a party going to celebrate the end of bin Looney or not.

    that chapter is done. with a little red grinning seal embroidered on the edge of the shroud.

    there are more rats down on the wharf.

  32. hpoulter says:

    (Nelson voice) ha-ha! You can’t use those. Use [ or {. If you really want to use one you have to “escape” it like this: < > (ampersand lt semicolon, ampersand gt semicolon)

  33. swschrad says:

    @hpoulter: bleatniks? more like a Flash Mob eating Snickers in the Peavey Plaza garden, and then vanishing down the one-ways.

    half of them the wrong way.

    don’t ask.

  34. I pity the first fish to take a bite out of BL’s rotting carcass. I’ll wager even the lobsters (“nature’s garbagemen” …albeit tasty ones) will give him a wide berth.

  35. browniejr says:

    At last, the rotter is “pining for the fjords”!

    Terry Fitz, liked your version, perhaps it should be animated, like this one:
    http://www.nma.tv/bin-laden-dead-video-animation-terrorist-leaders-final-moments/

    Especially like their interpretation of how “Islamic traditions were observed” when dealing with the body…

  36. John says:

    It just ain’t right that Googling the exact phrase “I thought you said 72 virgin GIRLS” returns precisely 1 hit.

  37. IggyRules says:

    What an awful looking city. How can a person live there?

  38. swschrad says:

    @John: yeah, particulary when Wacko bin Looney got at least two hits… head and chest.

    The Coarse Gourmet says: don’t specify Arabian Sea lobsters this year.

  39. alvo says:

    Popcorn in a bag? Why, seriously, why? Popcorn in a jar is cheaper, only slightly harder to make than in a microwave, and tastes a lot better. Put a few tablespoons of olive oil and some butter (about a tablespoon per serving, but use as much as you like, the more you use the better it will taste) in a large pot on high heat. Once the butter begins to melt add the popcorn and put the lid on. Shake the pan once in a while once the corn begins to pop. That’s it.

    Some foods are worth paying more for. Supermarket chickens and eggs that come birds that have the ends of their beaks chopped off so that when they are raised in overcrowded conditions (and in complete darkness) they won’t injure the other chickens with their pecking. The chickens run around in massive amounts of their waste, increasing the incidence of salmonella and e coli in the animals and their eggs. Buying poultry from farms that raise it properly costs more, but not only is it less likely to have bacteria and food borne pathogens, it also tastes better (seriously). Just a note: just because a label reads “organic” or “free range” doesn’t mean it’s humanely produced; that takes some research.

    And ground beef? 70% of it sold contains “pink slime” (Google it). Quality meat costs more, and is healthier.

    Not that everything in the high-priced organic is worth the price, but when feeding my family, price isn’t my only concern.

  40. Sam L. says:

    I don’t know abut you guys (I have my suspicions), but I boil up popcorn for breakfast.

  41. Amanda BP says:

    Hi, Mr. Lileks. I just want to remind you that I was your fan in China all those years ago, an American teaching abroad in Shanghai, having been gone from home for a mere 3 weeks when 9/11 happened. I wasn’t even over my jet lag and then this. Most of my co-teachers were Australian, most of the locals didn’t speak English, and very few of the people I intereacted with had any clue what I was going through.

    I processed the events through reading your daily catharsis on the Bleat. You prepared me emotionally for what I encountered when I returned home in January of 2003: a country substantially changed from the country I had left. I will forever be grateful to you for the comfort, familiarity, and commiseration that you offered me during that difficult time. I wrote you a few times during my time abroad and I figure you probably remember me. Thank you again.

  42. Lileks says:

    Thank you, Amanda – and thanks for sticking with the site for all these years.

  43. shesnailie says:

    _@_v – the one unanswered question? if his compound qoes on offer, will minneapolis pay anyone to buy it?

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