|Ahhh. There’s nothing like finishing a column and finding that it’s exactly 700 words. That’s my Newhouse length, and I like to hit it on the nose. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. To run down my day:
8:00 Wake. Putz around for an hour. Get to work on the Sunday column, due at noon. Prune the crap. There is much crap. It’s now 500 words. Write more.
11:45 Final edit, file from laptop while Gnat has lunch and I slam down a peanut butter sandwich. Get her socks and shoes on, comb her hair – usual battle with the detangler; let her watch Higgleytown Heroes for a few minutes while I step outside to start the noontime cigarillo.
12:07 Take Gnat to school. En route I listen to a “Suspense!” radio broadcast I’d started a few days before; it has Charles Laughton. “He sounds like a King,” Gnat says.
12:30 PM Settle in to office chair. Read mail. Start Thursday column. 3:00 PM. Column is finished, except for buffing and tweaking. 3:30 Pick up Gnat at school; she’s under the big tree out front, sitting on a blanket with the other kids, listening to a story. This is just how you want school to be. But we’re off: errands, then home. 5:20: Hugh’s show. He wants to talk about the book, God bless him. BUY THE BOOK! Please? Thanks.
6:00 Dinner tonight: chicken sliced into narrow portions, placed artfully on spaghetti, and covered with sun-dried tomato pasta. Gnat pronounces it “ugly.” Of course it’s ugly, I say. It’s bloody monkey brains! Her expression is priceless. I take a bite, then caper around the room in classic pit-scratching ooh-ooh-ooh monkey mode. Wife pronounces my meal a success. I love my wife.
6:20 Walk dog. Odd: he avoids marking all the leftover political yard signs. You’d think these would be prime spots for dogs to leave their calling card, but they seem to sense these things will not abide. Then again, he pees all over piles of leaves.
7:00 – 8:00 Play with Delicious Library, a new program that lets you catalogue all your DVDs, books, CDs and games. Killer ap: you use the iSight to scan in the barcode, and it scurries off to fetch the cover art and product info. An anal-retentive’s dream, this. The demo version lets you scan 25 items. I scan 24 and get out the credit card – but the site is unable to accept orders at the moment, drat the luck. Well, tomorrow, perhaps. Tomorrow they’ll accept my money and I can scan EVERYTHING for no good reason, except to hear the Beep! as the program accepts the barcode, and the Mac speech-synth reads out the particulars. Can't wait to scan my own books and hear my name mispronounced. (It's Lie-lex. Not lillecks.)
Incidentally, now that I have my iSight connected, I might as well put it to use; from now on I’ll turn it on between 7 and 8 CST, in case anyone wants to check in and wave hello. Seriously. Unless I forget. But that’s usually the time when I’m not doing anything. Drop by and see me in my full 7 o’clock shadow, with pasty blue lighting.
8:00 Run through the blogs to see if there’s anything new to write about . . .hey, Ann Althouse bought my book! I am in her debt.
Nothing else happening, so let’s write the column that’s been sluicing around in the back of mind all day.
9:00 Column done. It’s one of those that just falls out a hole in your head. Three down, this to go.
9:09: Gnat enters my studio. “Knock Knock.”
“Banana don’t change your diaper.”
“Yes, it’s the only one you own. You might use it if you feel better. When you get home.”
“That’s not funny.”
“No, or particularly compelling in the musical or lyrical sense, either. I never really liked Steely Dan, hon. Didn’t dislike them, but while I appreciated that cool distance that set them off from the heart-on-the-sleeve troubadours or the glam rockers, I was never drawn in to their oeuvre. “Reelin’ in the Years” excepted, of course, but you could ascribe the appeal of that seminal tune to Elliot Randall’s guitar playing. If ever there was an example of the masterful use of tone, that was it; the notes were hot and wet, each one detonating like ripe grapes filled with quicksilver.”
“I have new underwear!” (runs from room.)
I think that’s the best possible response to all rock criticism. I have new underwear! Let’s try it: “While Fagen and Becker’s work leave me impressed but unmoved, why does Fagen’s ‘Nightfly’ – in particular, ‘New Frontier’ and the bittersweet ‘IGY’ - strike such a chord with me? They’re indistinguishable from Steely Dan tunes, really. Perhaps it’s the lyrics; perhaps the oblique and cryptic nature of Steely Dan’s lyrics put me off, and the relatively open and honest sentiments of Fagen’s solo work made the chilled tasteful irony of the arrangements seem more human.”
(Pause. All together now)
I HAVE NEW UNDERWEAR!
Gnat just reentered the room. Screams: Play me a disco girl song!
Sigh. I call up the playlist of stupid 70s songs; oh perfect: Love is in the Air, by John Paul Young. Wife enters room; does bump with Gnat. Ten seconds before Jasper comes in and barks in alarm. Hell, I might as well dance too. Back in a minute.
<wipes sweat from brow> Did “Stayin’ Alive” with all the clichéd disco moves, with improvements; Travolta never picked up his partner and spun her over his head eight times. Now the dog is seriously alarmed. OKAY! SHUT UP! QUAALUDES FOR EVERYONE! Time to find a room-clearer to get them out of my hair so I can work. Searching . . . searching . . . ah. HALO soundtrack. That’ll work.
Oh: my stars. HALO 2 comes out tomorrow. Well, I’ll buy it, but I won’t play it yet. Better to spend the hour reading news and blogs about Fallujah than to play soldier on a TV screen. This is one of the big battles of the Iraq campaign; this is where the loop that began in Somalia is closed and welded shut.
Paul Harvey, of all people, noted that the hard phase of the battle would involve house-to-house combat, “just like Vietnam.” Sigh. It’s now the all-purpose metaphor. There could be a war on the moon with armies on dune buggies launching crossbows at each other, and someone would pronounce it a repeat of a disastrous battle in the Mekong Delta. But he’d be 108 years old, the last boomer, a brittle old survivor - not the Greatest Generation but the Generation that Grates, determined that any conflict should be seen through the prism of his youth with “White Rabbit” playing in the background. Times have changed. It's FLIR and Kid Rock now, I think. Stay tuned, and keep them in your thoughts.
The Marines, I mean.