We have an extra dog tonight. A Boston Terrier, one of your more snoutless breeds, followed my wife home tonight while walking Jasper. He’s obviously lost - hungry, thirsty, and extremely grateful. Jasper was annoyed, as can be expected, but they seem to be getting along; he’s well-groomed with clipped nails and an innoculation tag, so I’m not fearful I’ll find his foamy jaws in my neck in the middle of the night. In fact, he’s more affectionate than Jasper - practically catlike in his need to rub up against you. Of course, if I were that small and ugly, I’d perfect the wheedling arts myself. Wait a minute - I am. Hmm. Note to self: develop craven bootlicking attitude towards authority. Wait a minute - I have. Whew.

I’m sick; wonderful news for the holidays. I got Gnat’s grippe, and have a throat that feels like I’m swallowing a serrated donut, and the fuzzy-brained disorientation that presages a full-blown attack of rhinitus. It hit me this morning, about two hours before I was supposed to go speak to several thousand people at Orchestra Hall. Being the least important member of the occasion, however, I wasn’t worried. It was the first of three Minnesota Youth Symphony concerts, which is my pet charity. I’ve written of it before, and there’s nothing new to add about the event - it’s still ten tons of fun to speak to a crowd that large and get the laughs where you think you’ll get them, and it’s also fun to just throw away the script and do it improv, which is what I usually end up doing. Man, were my knees knocking the first time I did it - Orchestra Hall! Packed to the rafters! I’m going to seize up like a Peugot climbing the Alps!
The Symphony orchestra, the oldest of the bunch, can tackle just about anything in the repetoire; they’re doing the last movement of Mahler’s 2nd next, for example. When they finish, the entire hall always explodes, and then it’s time for all the bows - Manny, the conductor, of course, who is much beloved, and then all the various sections, then the other conductors and your humble narrator for the big final bow, and when I stand on the lip of the stage and take a bow with these extraordinarily talented folk, it is one of the happiest moments of the year.

Sidelong observation: about 37% of the boys under 14 look like Harry Potter. Glasses and bookishness are in.

I wish those books had been around when I was a young lad, although to be fair I’m not sure I’d have read them; I much preferred science stories to Hobbitry, and had no interest in magic. Technology was my magic. I read Tom Swift and His Atomic Colonoscopytron, Tom Swift and his Undersea Submarijet, Tom Swift and his Nuclear Chair, etc. Stuff about magic seemed to miss the point, like writing about Play-Doh cookies instead of bakeries. (Nuclear bakeries!) That said, the HP stories seem nifty; I wish them well.

And I wish a bad case of Ewok Shudder Pox for Lucas, if the reports I’m hearing are correct about Episode Two’s new trailer: more crappy stilted dialogue, which is unforgivable. And the trailers test positive for traces of JarJar, which is just lunacy. I hear he falls off a building - if this is the first scene, and the camera lingers long on his spasming body impaled on a Coruscant flagpole, fine. Otherwise: oy. George Lucas, in his reclusivity, may truly rival Jacko for cluelessness at this point.

Well, I have mail to answer - remind me NEVER to speak my mind again - and then I have to go quietly die. At least the dogs are getting along. I’d called the pound to see if anyone could get the little fellow, but I learned that there was no one at the pound to answer the queries of Blackie’s owners. If they called, they wouldn’t be able to find out if he was at the pound. I don’t want him to spend the night at a pound. So he’s here tonight. Right at my feet, in fact. Note to self: get big wet eyes.


This house has peculiar air-flow idiosyncracies. Open the back door with gusto, and the front door, if unlatched, creaks open an inch. I didn’t know this before last night. When I came downstairs and found the door open, I was a bit chagrined, and instantly declared, like a million men before me, that I Was Not Going to Pay For Heating The Whole Outdoors. (Even though, at the time, I was.) I closed the door, went into the kitchen; my wife was returning from a trip outside.

“Where’s Blackie?” I asked, referring to the ugly little Boston Terrier who followed us home yesterday, and whom we’d adopted until we found his owners.

“He was right here,” she said. I looked at Jasper, sitting on the sofa; don’t ask me, he seemed to say, I couldn’t care less. Maybe I ate him. Whattya gonna do about it.

The OPEN DOOR. Could the dog have squirted out of the house? We checked all over the house: no dog. He’d left. I went outside, walked up and down the street, wondering what I’d say I ran into someone else who had that unmistakable searching-for-a-lost-dog aspect to his gait and face. “Looking for a dog? A black one? Well, so am I.”

Little guy probably lives around the block. Dropped by for a meal and a scratch, then headed home when it was time for bed. Since my wife gave him a bath, his owners will have something that comes along once in a generation: a dog that returns from its evening adventure well-fed, full of treats, and cleaner than when he vanished. Such are the mysteries dogs present.

Well, I’m still sick, and overworked. It was a good day to stay home, cough, and snortle. I wish I had. After Gnat’s nap we went to the Mall of America for firewire cords; Apple had them cheap. We also went to FAO Schwartz, which has a big clock tower that plays a short happy song every 85 seconds. After I’d heard it ten times, I was ready to bolt; no doubt the people who work in this store will be humming that tune under their breath when they are in a nursing home getting a sponge bath 50 years hence. All Gnat wanted to do was push her stroller around. I am truly blessed: when she picks up a toy and hugs it, I ask her to give it to me, adn she does. No fits, no tantrums, no ME WANT. She certainly doesn’t get this from me. In terms of temperment and character, I expect she’ll put me to shame; just have to live up to her example, then.

Finally saw the Episode Two trailer. Looks good; very Maxfield Parrish. The scenes on Trantor - I’m sorry, on Coruscant - look incredible, but as usual everyone is standing on a balcony on the 5478th floor. You have these huge cities with huge buildings, and all the action always takes place in the upper stories. You never see anyone sitting in a board room on the 3rd floor. I’m a little more hopeful; my expectations are raised just a bit. It can’t be as bad as the last one.

Did I mention I’m sick? Oy. My throat feels like I’ve been gargling with Listerine Burst O’ Shards, and I’m hot. Disoriented. How I’ll make it through tomorrow I’ve no idea, but I will. There’s a payoff at the end of all this, which we’ll all see Monday.

Ahem: the entire site returns Monday. That’s right: from Motel Postcards to Interior Desecrators to Bad Comics, it’s all coming back. There will be a new site called Flotsam Cove, where I’ll post new material - and payment will be optional. (If no one ponies up, it’s dead.) Back in business soon.

Now I am going to go wheeze my way through the best Thanksgiving ever, as Richard Scarry might say. Happy holidays; see you next Monday.


Still sick. Worse, if that’s possible, and of course it is. Nothing to say but run the review I wrote on Nyquil of a movie: Planet of the Apes. Some observations about humanity’s future, gleaned from the film:

In the future, mankind will somehow become as stupid as we are brilliant. We will build at tremendous expense in the far corner of space a gigantic spacestation whose sole job is to train monkeys to drive small capsules around. For example: the space station will disconnect the capsule, but after that it’s up to the monkey to engage engines, pilot the craft, respond to new situations, etc. It’s possible that when this was announced, one of the board members for NASA said Let Me Get This Straight - instead of a station one fourth the size that carries computer monitored and controlled drones we can fly by remote from the bridge, we’re going to house monkeys, train monkeys, feed monkeys, and use monkeys? Why? The computer in my house is smarter than ten chimps. What’s the frickin’ point?

“Looks like someone didn’t get the monkey memo,” says the chief in a sing-song voice.

What do you mean?

“We’re entering a monkey intensive phase of space exploration.”

But they smell and they’re easily distracted, and you have to equip the pod with a life-support system that takes up 70 percent of the weight and hence chews up your range, because you can’t carry as much fuel -again I ask, what’s the frickin’ point?

As Marky Mark’s capsule enters a wormhole, we see a little dial with the date and year start to spin. So: In the future, the best rocketship designer will be a fellow who has one, well, peculiar idiosyncrasy: he believes that once on a mission he went forward in time. No one believed him. Just to humor him - he is the best, after all - they allow him to install a date-and-year chronometer in every cockpit, which will spin wildly if the vehicle enters what he calls “A Chrono-tunnel-hole.” He always shows up to test the new designs, while a workman stands by embarassed for the great man.

You there! Technician! These years don’t spin freely enough. They have to fly, man. Fly!

Uh, yessir - pardun me, sir - but, uh, how will the ship know time’s movin’ a-forwart? Is there like a universal time signal that’s always broadcastin’?

When you’re being held as slaves by another species who believes you are inferior morons, DON’T SPEAK. Do NOT use complete sentences, connect concepts to sounds, express ideas, indicate that you have an intellect that equals, if not surpasses, your captors.

Best scene: Charlton Heston. Didn’t even know it was him until he reprised the damn the mall to hell line (actually, most people don’t know this, but Hestton was blaiming consumerism at the end of the first Apes movie, and said “Damn the Mall to Hell.” Really.) But even that was annoying - the script is encumbered with contemporary references that do not exactly help you suspend disbelief. “Can’t we all just get along,” one character wheedles.

It got better, but it was still too much and too long. I don’t know why people complained about the ending - it’s taken right from the book, fer chrissakes.

Not that any one read the book, I guess.

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