Lone berry, front yard

Ah. Well. Expect very little bleatage tomorrow, because I am having a house guest; if experience is any judge, I will need 46 aspirin and a fresh liver Wednesday morning. I will, however, have a podcast Thanksgiving morning, with a special guest. Stay tuned, as they say. I will also be explaining why Fat Tony speaks in the peculiar elocution that has become his how-you-say trademark.

Very little tonight, for that matter; Thanksgiving deadlines mean I have to turn in about three columns a day, and tonight I am swamped. Not that I have much to report; woke, ate, read, wrote, shopped, cooked, and wrote some more. Nothing happened at the grocery store. Nothing! I can usually count on something to pop up, something that sparks nine thousand words of questionable utility, but either I’m in an unreceptive mood or the emporia no longer hold the usual mysteries.

Well, I did note that they had “Winter” Lucky Charms for sale.

They looked okay.

See? That’s it! I’ll probably buy them, since I like to give Gnat a little seasonal variation in the sugar ration. This morning I attempted to bring her into the ways of Cream Cheese; I’d purchased some Toaster Strudels with cream cheese filling, and built it up as a great taste sensation. I even promised to make a special pattern with the icing.

“What kind,” she said last night as I tucked her in.

“A zig zag pattern. With dots.”

“Great, daddy.”

This morning I got up before she did – rare, and welcome. She came down rubbing her eyes and yawning in the traditional fashion of the freshly-awakened urchin, and asked for a Toaster Strudel with a zig-zag pattern. I obliged. But. I tore the frosting packet incorrectly, opening a gash at the bottom (think Titanic) and this made precision application impossible. I had no choice but to smear the stuff all over with a knife.

“It’s not a zig zag,” she said.

“It’s impasto.”


“It’s a schmear. It’s a schmear over the cream cheese instead of a schmear of cream cheese.”

“You’re not making any sense.”

“Eat it.”

She ate it. She said it was okay, but that was for my benefit. Which reminds me: last night at supper my wife brought out a small centerpiece she’d purchased for the Thanksgiving table. I didn’t like it. Not because it was ugly; it wasn’t. It was quite attractive. But it was made of feathers. Feathers are not part of my aesthetic cosmos. I see feathers, I think dead bird. I see a wreath of feathers, no matter how attractively arrayed, I see some giant pagan bird-god
Rectum. She knew, in a second, that I didn’t like it. I had no idea what to say. If I said nothing, she would know I didn’t like it. (Even though I did, sort of.) If I said something positive, it would be a lie.

“What kind of feathers are those?” I said, and I knew my voice and words gave me away. It reminded me of a time 27 years ago in college; I had visited a friend at his dorm at a different school. He was something of an epicure; prog-rock Tull fan from the south side of Chicago, no BS Italian guy, knew good food. One of those guys who’s always telling you how bad the pizza is. That’s not pizza. Let me tell you about pizza. (And he was right; he introduced me to Gino’s, and he spat on Unos. Spat!) Haven’t seen him since I flopped at his house in Chicago on a cross-country car trip in my Pacer in ’83, but that’s another story. He’d made some lamb in his room in a little toaster oven. Pretty good. I took the bus back home; my folks called as soon as I got back in my room, and as ever I knew they were worried about me. As well they should have been. I was careful to sound happy and clear of mind, which of course makes you sound unnatural, which makes parents worry. “I was over at Rich’s,” I said. “We had lamb. He has a broiler machine.”

A broiler machine. The term just sounded wrong. People have a toaster oven. They have a broiler. They don’t have a broiler machine anymore than they have a coffee contrapulation. Ever since then, strained locutions made to cover up things that do not need covering up always made me think: that was a broiler machine.

I explained to my wife, later, in detail, that the problem was not the wreath; I liked the wreath. It was my problem with feathers, a preexisting condition that affected my initial reaction.

“It’s just a wreath,” she said. “Why do you have to have an opinion about it?”

“I have an opinion about everything,” I said, forlorn. I almost added “You can’t expect me not to have an opinion about a wreath,” but she is Italian and I am not stupid. That stupid, anyway.

But of course:
Oh: at the grocery store, Gnat took some foil turkeys off the end-cap by the register, and arranged three on the floor in a barnyard hoedown.

“Please don’t play with those,” said the young female clerk, in a not-child-friendly voice. I could not believe it. She spoke to my child in that way. She gave stern instructions without a sugary inflection to MY CHILD, who was only expressing her creativity. Well. Well! Well I never. I summoned all the snoot I could find and vowed NEVER to shop there again.

Just kidding. Gnat put them back, said Sorry, and looked abashed. “Listen to the lady,” I said. “They’re not toys, and we don’t want to damage the chocolate.”

Which is why I salute the owner of this place. He may be a tad too dictatorial, but it is his joint, and he seems to be peeving the right people.

Back to work. I’ll leave you with this: Architecture Flash-porn. One of the nicest sites for a building I’ve seen in a while. I’ll take the penthouse.

And yes, I attributed the “Princess Bride” quote to the wrong hero. At least the number of people pointing that out exceeded the number of people who thought Vonnegut made some brave points. There’s hope. See you tomorrow.