Programming note: I’ll be on Hugh Hewitt’s show at 5:20 Central Time; check your local listings. I don’t know what my theme music will be, but if it’s anything close to the Hokey Fargin’ Pokey, John Denver or Dan Fogelberg he’s going to find himself interviewing my good friend Mr. Dial Tone. I have no idea what we’re going to talk about; he’ll pitch, I’ll swing, and if the bat connects enough times I might be back the next week. It’s an honor to be on once, for that matter.

Sunday night; I have the deep sense of satisfaction that comes from watching all the extras on the DVD you rented before you have to give it back. I watched “The Recruit,” which starred Al Pacino and some guy and some tomboy beanpole and some other guys. Apparently the director used a special De-Pacinofying Gel on Al to keep him from leaving toothmarks in all the scenery. It was nice to see Pacino in somewhat subdued form, since his throttle’s been stuck open since “Devil’s Advocate.”

“The Recruit” is one of those fun-house CIA movies we’ve all see a dozen times. Who’s real? Who’s a mole? Who’s turned? You can make a drinking game of it:

1. Someone says “we’re through the looking glass here.” Take a shot of Russian vodka.

2. Since the plot involves computers, it will have lots of typing-while-frowning. For each shot of typing-while-frowning, drink beer for the duration of the shot. If the shot ends with the actor dramatically stabbing the ENTER key, you have to finish the beer.

3. My favorite: Movie-GUI. A Movie-GUI is a computer interface that looks nothing like any computer you’ve ever seen. For example, if you “hack into the CIA mainframe,” which can be done by typing extra fast and scowling double-hard, you will know you are successful when your desktop wallpaper is replaced by the CIA logo, and your laptop is displaying text with fonts you didn’t install. It’s hard to incorporate the Movie-GUI into the drinking game, since most people would expire of alcohol poisoning by the time the movie concluded.

I also watched “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” New restored widescreen Technicolor Cinemescope etc. version. Having only seen a scratchy pan-and-scan on TV as a kid, I was curious what the movie really looked like. Oy. It’s just sublime. The FX are impressive 50 years later, which says something - and the “Making of” featurette shows you just how low-tech some of this stuff was by modern standards. The featurette also has an alarming interview with Kirk Douglas, filmed shortly after his death. (Not a typo.) One of the most charming interviews is with the director himself, who was the son of Disney rival Max Fleischer. He’s surrounded by his father’s creations: Betty Boop, Bosco, that horrid clown-thing. I’m dead certain he made that a requirement for the interview. Oh sure, I’ll be happy to do it, but I want Betty in the picture. And so Ms. Boop appears in a Disney product.

The more I learn about the Disney studio, the more I admire it - at least up until the point where it turned into scratchy dreck like the Aristocats et al. I’d like to read a bio of Walt, even though I gather from the reviews of such bios that he was a chain-smoking SOB whose heels were constantly stained with the hearts and souls of the gentle men who toiled in obscurity. That’s probably an exaggeration. But there’s a lot of hagiography in these interviews, too - one fellow, describing how Nemo’s sub was atomic powered, noted that Walt came up with that idea before anyone else had thought of using nuclear energy in a sub. Please. This was 1952. People thought nuclear energy would be powering hula-hoops in a few years. A visionary? Yes. A canny observer of talent, a leader of men? Yes. But he didn’t invent the wheel. He didn’t even draw it.

But give him his due. My child isn’t yet three. And she recognizes his signature.

For years - decades, perhaps - every package of chopsticks I’ve ever seen around here has come in the same red wrapper. There are five Chinese characters, and I’ve no idea what they mean. Lucky Dragon Five Star Buffet, maybe, since that would cover about 79% of all Chinese restaurant names around here. Perhaps they say We Spit on the Body of Chinese Gordon, Imperialist! Who knows. But today I read the tiny English type for the first time:

Welcome to Chinese Restaurant.
please try your Nice Chinese Food with Chopstick
the traditional and typical of Chinese glorious history.
and cultural

“Glorious” and “cultural” are in a different typeface than the rest of the words, suggesting someone went back and fixed the original.
"Wassat?" croaked Gnat. She has a cold, or allergies, and has had a rasp that makes Susanne Pleshette sound like Truman Capote.

“It’s a chopstick,” I said.

“Leb me hab chobstig.”

I gave her two.

“Was id do?”

"It’s for picking up your food so you can eat it."

She took a chobstig in each hand and attempted to pick up her chicken - which was of course on a skewer. It was like watching someone try to bob for apples while wearing a motorcycle helmet.

“Dey don’ worg, Daddee.”

No, they don’t.

“They brogen?”

"No, they aren’t broken, honey. They are merely traditional and typical of Chinese glorious history."

“Okay, Daddee.”

I could have these conversations all day. And I think if I couldn’t have them anymore I couldn’t go on living. To put it another way - Are you as bad as me? Take this simple test:

You call home to see what to get for takeout. No one answers. Hmm. They should have been home an hour ago. Do you:

1. Figure they’ll be home by the time you get there

2. Start imagining a sequence of events that ends with you finishing your will, surrounding yourself with pictures of your departed loved ones, swallowing 89 barbiturate tablets and putting a plastic bag over your head

If you answered 2, you are as bad as me. I tend to get . . . unhinged when wife & child are very very late, and I can’t raise them. They’d left at two for a bike ride; back in two hours, my wife said. To me that means 120 minutes, each composed exactly of 60 seconds. To my wife, and any other sensible person, it means that indefinable allotment of time that’s longer than an hour but shorter than the entire afternoon. Still, I don’t start to sweat when minute 121 has elapsed and I’ve not seen them through the spyglass or the thermal monitors. In fact I often don’t notice they’re late until they’re really late. Then the sequence starts: “I hope nothing’s happened” becomes “I suspect something happens” becomes “I know for certain that they both fell off a bridge into the Mississippi,” and this leads to horrible conjectures. How long will it take to find them?

“Here’s your credit card,” says the clerk who’s ringing up your order.

“At least it’s not winter,” you reply. “They’ll find the bodies faster.”

By now you’re resigned to the worst. You might as well pick up a pack of Marlboros on the way home. Start smoking again. What’s the point. You’ll have nothing to live for. Put your head in the oven . . . no, it’s electric. Great. Local man found dead. Roasticide suspected.

But then you get mad. Mad, somehow, that your wife was late, and didn’t get in touch with you by skywriter or mental telepathy.

This all sounds rather operatic, I know, but really - a four-and-a-half hour bike ride is a bit much, and I was worried. I’d called home, left messages on the machine, told her to call when she got it. Finally I left a message that said “Don’t call, I’m turning off my phone, the sound of it not ringing is driving me batty; I’ll just come home now with the curry and hope there aren’t cop cars in the driveway.” On the way home I thought, well, maybe they’ve been out in the backyard for the last hour.

I got home. The bike was in the garage. They’d been in the backyard for the last hour.

At one point my wife had gone inside, seen the caller ID blinking, figured it was me, and that was that. But after an hour had passed - an hour after my note said I’d be home - she said she’d started to get worried, and -

Wait a minute. You were worried?

"You hadn’t left a message."

I left six! Look, the answering machine’s blinking.

"Well, there’s a long recording from a telemarketer on there and I didn’t have the patience to sit through it."

So now we’re arguing about this, but then it occurred to me that we had both been worried about the other, and there was no reason to argue. So I gave everyone a hug. “I thought you were in the river,” I said.

“Silly Daddy,” said Gnat. “We’re not in the riber.”

And so the day ended well. We were all together, no one was in the riber, and I had the Chinese take-out.

Which was horrible. Jasper got to eat the cast-off chicken. He’s now in the backyard eating grass to calm his stomach. Gnat’s asleep; my wife is ready to head off to slumber as well, and I’m going down to watch the second season of “The Wire.” Good week ahead - and yes, I know I’d promised some new site additions. They’re coming. I ripped up everything because I stumbled on a cache of true horrors: 1970s Saturday morning cartoon publicity handouts. Look for them later this week.

Hey, it’s June! Let’s all hit the road in swank autos and stay at orange-roofed chain motels. Summer's begun. It's going to be a good one.