Gnat has started a book: the story of a dog family named the Mrples. That was not her original intention, though. When I went to her room she was drawing a picture in a spiral notebook: a dog in a bed with a thought balloon containing a bone. She showed me the other pages in the story, and at the top it said Mrples; I asked if that was the name of the dog family; she thought a moment, and said it was.

“Actually no,” she said. “But it is now.”

What do you mean?

“It’s supposed to be Miss Maple. It’s a story by Miss Maple. That’s the name I’m using to write the story. But I like Mrples. It’s a good name for a dog family.”

Coming up with a pen name, knuckling under to editorial authority – the kid has the writing game down pat already. I hope she does not pass it off as a memoir, since that genre is now completely discredited. I tell you, I knew something was fishy about that “Million Little Pieces” book, simply because it was so successful; there HAD to be something wrong with it. Every time I saw it, I got annoyed – in a just world, drug addiction and criminality would not be rewarded with such good jacket design. (When I first saw that hand covered with tiny pill-dots, I thought: he was abusing Contac?)

The Strib had a nice piece on the controversy today, written by a reporter who’d poked holes in his story a while back. I doubt he would have gotten one-tenth the attention if he’d attributed his salvation to, say, Seven-Day Adventism. Although he probably would have made it on Oprah if his last chapter described his conversion to Rosicrucianism.

“I’ve heard of that,” Oprah said, leaning forward, “and it always sounded so mysterious. Tell us all about it.”

I was a Rosicrucian for a while, back in my early teen days. It was a quasi-religion you could join by clipping a coupon out of a Popular Mechanics magazine and sending away for a portfolio of wisdom. Couldn’t make heads or tails of it, and it seemed like Masonry without the fezzes.

There are days when I fear Microsoft, and it’s days like this one: Word does not question the spelling of the plural of fez. Is there now any doubt Bill Gates is a 33-degree man?

(That’s the highest rank a Mason can attain, as I understand. The ceremony involves a bath in warm Rolling Rock beer.)

(Oh, OKAY, explanatory link.)

Anyway, Rosicrucianism (the spell checker flagged that one! More Masonic bigotry!) is still around, and they have a website, of course. It has quotes which I gather express the AMORC philosophy, and they do not exactly inspire:

“No one is free whose mind is not like a door with a double-acting hinge swinging outward to release their own ideas and inward to receive the worthy thoughts of others.” – Validivar.

But it seems harmless and well intentioned. Scientology without the, uh, scientology.

I’ve narrowed the new podcast theme music down to 257 songs. Decided against the bright happy industrial music (and by “industrial” I don’t mean grim throbbing dance or the sound of stamping machinery; I mean the sparkly stuff used in promotional films, the sort of music that makes you want to say “Starring Donna Reed” when the B theme kicks in.) I’ll go with some late 30s jazz, I think.

The front page of the paper ran a story on the Iranian decision to “break the seals,” one of those things that makes you feel like the daily news is just a serial version of Revelations. Next up, the IAEA blows the sixth trump! And a lamb shall appear, and a third of the lamb will fall away and the blood shall get all over everything, so you’d better use a wet cloth right away or that’s never coming out. The second story was the decision by a historical preservation site to nix some new towers down in the old milling district. The tallest would have been – wait for it – twenty-seven stories, and this would have dwarfed the old A mill. The developers (hisss!) insisted that they needed to build tall to cover the costs of turning the old mill into something other than the six-floor-heap-of-pigeon-shite-and-MD 20/20 bottles it probably is today. Too bad. The neighborhood will be irreparably harmed, said the preservationists. But apparently the neighborhood wants to be ruined, inasmuch as the local groups want the project. I’m torn – on one hand, I think the preservations are wrong, but on the other hand I think they’re very wrong. As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

I think you’ve gathered by now that I am in favor of preserving the past and reusing it as much as possible, and if anyone had argued knocking down the historic A mill because it’s old and useless, I would have written sternly-worded blog posts on the matter, which I am certain would have stopped the project dead. But this is different; they’re talking about renovating the Mill and building housing projects next to it, which will revitalize a portion of the river currently underused. So hurrah for that. Critics are worried – they are always worried – that the highrises would “drastically alter the historic landscape.” (Newspaper’s paraphrase.) Well, perhaps, but that’s the nature of cities. They grow and change. Different needs arise. The district was once a loud stinky dangerous industrial zone where flour and immigrant fingers were ground in equal amounts, and now it has the chance to be a swell high-density residential zone, if only the city will get out of the way.

The cost of the project: $400 million.

Public subsidy: $0.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never thought “my, that building is just too tall.” Such a thing doesn’t seem possible. Not even the Larkin tower.

LATER. Tired, for no particular reason - and I even had a nice nap today. At the end of the night I went downstairs to see what Gnat was doing, and she wanted “A Daddy Night,” her term for the two of us goofing around in the basement, watching TV. We watched an Olie. She doesn’t watch Olie much anymore, as I’ve noted, but likes to watch it with me; it reminds her of something, and she knows it reminds me of something. It was one of the recent episodes, which aren’t as good – the lighting is harsh and the frame rate’s different. They introduced two twins into the later series, which changed the dynamic, and the show got more slapstick. But one of the episodes had the old sweetness, and we laughed and hummed along with the music. But they showed the twins’ bedroom, and this bothered me: I know every inch of that computer-generated Polie household, and I have no idea where that room might be. I’d like to think I missed an episode in which Percy reconfigured the upstairs bedrooms.

I was also somewhat startled to find that the Mom has a first name; in all the years of watching Olie, I’d never heard it. Perhaps because they never said it. But the next-door neighbor, Bonita – a square-headed robot from the planet Cubie, with an alluringly husky smoker’s voice – addressed Mrs. Polie as “Paulina,” which just fit. I am certain I am not the only father who sat sprawled on the sofa, watching a two-year old on the floor, thinking: Mrs. Polie’s kinda hot, in a way.

All email (first name at last name dot com) warning me about Kim Possible will be sent to the OBVIOUS bin. I know Disney TV backwards and forwards. The animated stuff, anyway; the live stuff I turn off. Gnat has never seen That’s So Raven, but has always called it “Ratso Raven,” which brings to mind Dustin Hoffman hacking out a lung in the back of a bus.

Which reminds me! I TiVo’d “Midnight Cowboy.” Also “Saw.” Time to flip a coin and see which joyful, life-affirming experience I’ll give myself tonight. See you tomorrow. (Sorry about no Screedblog yesterday – it's up now, and it's an unedited mess I will no doubt regret tomorrow.)

UPDATE: "Saw" won the toss. Note to self: buy coins with two heads.

on Monday
on Tuesday


c. 2005 j. lileks .