It’s a going to be a light week, I think. Perhaps two. Oh, we’ll have all the usual updates – and by “we” I mean me, the one guy, slogging away on The Hobby That Ate My Life. Friday night, for example, I opened the Texas folder on the motel site, prepared to whip up a few pages before setting down to a nice night of not-really-watching a movie in the upper right hand corner window while doing something on the left side of the screen. Twenty postcards. Twenty! Jayzis T. Murgatroid, twenty fargin’ motels to write about, all of which no doubt had tile showers. I was seized with that familiar question: why am I doing this, exactly? What is the point of this? Well, to provide a nice online gallery of classic motel signs, of course.
So? If I die tomorrow, will my tombstone say “Failed to Resize the Images in the Restaurant Postcard Section”? Because that’s also in the queue. Behind the dreaded Minneapolis project, that is. All those pages shriek “1999.” It looks old. It looks small. I have to do it again, add the sixty-six tons of material I’ve accumulated, and make it right. But right now I feel like that building above: old, empty, boarded up, ready for the swinging ball. It wasn’t the best of weekends.
Nothing bad happened; just more treadmilling. Lo, wherest am I? Be this the grocery store I hath attended the day that preceded this one? Verily, it be – lo, cheese, in segments, under a dome of magical glass that lifts as though made of gossamer. Perfect twigs of rare white wood attend, that I may skewer, and sample. Such novelty! Mayhap I have been here every day, or is that but a waking dream? Perchance I shall come here tomorrow, because they are out of the bread I so assiduously seek?
I did make a nice trip to Home Depot to get a new hose reel for the front spigot. Last year I bought an all-in-one hose & sprayer, even though the vast network of underground sprinklers keeps Jasperwood nice and lush (didn’t do much for the towering pine, though; it’s dead, and will have to come down at the cost of 1.1 Macbook Pros.) (Sobs.) they don’t hit the potted flowers, so I needed something without a fixed trajectory. The all-in-one sprung a leak, so I needed new hose. Being unwilling to spend $50 on a tube used twice a week, I got the cheapest kind. Upon getting it home, however, I discovered it was made of cardboard. More or less. Kinks up faster than – well, I was going to insert the name of some brainless celeb known for sexual peculiarities, but none come to mind. Not because I know nothing of celebs; it’s impossible to spend as much time on the Internets as I do without being completely informed of the shifting parameters of Ashlee Simpson’s nose. But the definition of the word “kinky,” for me, goes back to early 70s free-love drivel catchphrases. Oooh, whips and chains – kinky! Like anyone liked whips and chains. Like most people wouldn’t run shrieking if a date brought out the cat-o-nine’s. Look, I’m a broadminded fellow, but if your sexual fantasies revolve around being handcuffed and helpless while Catwoman walks around you snapping a whip and telling you you’re a very bad boy, you are not exactly in balance with the universe.
Anyway, it was a hose of great disappointment. Before I realized that, however, I participated in the Great American Act of Mulch-Related Trust: I filled up the Element with bags of cedar chips, as many as she could hold, and then I went in the store to tell them how many I had. Nothing stops you from loading up and driving off, as far as I can tell.
As I heaved the fragrant sacks in the back a big pickup pulled up. One of those expanded vehicles with a full back seat and a bed the size of an Oklahoma county. A big guy with a big gut straining against his big white T-shirt and big low wide belt got out and started pitching bags of cedar chips in his big wide American vehicle. He could have held a sundered forest’s worth in his bed. For a moment I was relieved, again, that I did not put the white Apple decal in the back window of the Element, because that would make people who actually worked for a living want to give me a piercing look that said “you never broke a sweat for a dollar in your life, have you? And no, getting nervous because the hostess dumped two four-tops on you just as your orders came up don’t count. Don’t count none at all.”
Uh oh. He’s looking at the Element.
“You can get a lot in there, can’t you,” he said.
Me? You’re talking to me? Thin little symbolic manager with the tell-tale white wires to the ears, you’re talking to me?
“You can get a lot in there,” he repeated. “I saw that at the auto show.”
“It’s a great car,” I said. “Unbelievable room.”
“And you can hose it out,” he said, a trace of wonder in his voice. “HONEY? COME OVER HERE AN’ LOOK AT THIS.”
Honey came over here. “This is the one I was telling you about, I wanted Nancy to get? Look at that. Look at what you can get in it without even taking out the seats.”
By now I was buying more cedar mulch than I intended. I was going to ram as many bags as I could into the Element. Honey was impressed, and when I opened the suicide doors, noted that I drove around a six-year-old, and this made it easier for her to get in and out, well, she just sort of sagged: Oprah and magazines had suggested there were men in the world who based their vehicle choices on things like that, but she hadn’t suspected it might be true. And I wasn’t one of those tall guys with patchy beards and sandals and a shirt that seemed angry about the earth, either.
“Lots of room for the dog,” I added.
Big white wide man nodded and went back to pitching bags in the back.
“’S a great color,” he said.
“Thanks.” I pointed to his vehicle. “But that. That’s a nice rig.”
He shrugged. “Kids, dogs, boats and motorcycles; need the size.”
I’d nominate that as the second national motto behind E Pluribus Unum.
I drove. The rain was coming; the entire left-hand side of the sky was bruised and blue, and the air had that perfect pre-tornado feel that spells summer in these parts. Traffic was heavy so I whirred down the windows and turned up the music. Went to the grocery store. Again. Went home; wife and child still at the mall. Made a stab at “Vodka,” the crime novel set in Russia I started a few days ago. I’m losing patience. Everyone spends all their time talking about how everything is like Russia. In Russia, Russian things are very Russian, it is the Russian way of we Russians. Far from being the “most inspirational” nation on earth the author describes in his prologue, it comes across as cheap, drunk, crass, corrupt, and hopelessly besotted with sentimental tripe, like a nation of gangsters, serfs and informers who are nonetheless helpless in the face of a Peter Cottontail story. That bunny, he is a true Russian! Always trying to steal cabbage, even though cabbage not as good as carrot.
I mean, what would you think if I wrote a novel, and you read this:
Jack sat in the auto dealership, magazine in his lap. It was difficult to concentrate on the words; the TV was set to a VH1 documentary about Marky Mark’s third nipple. He glanced at the clock, reminding himself that he was lucky to live in a country where you could make an appointment to have your car fixed between two and three, and it would indeed be fixed. The minute hand swept effortlessly forward. The present was merely a transitory state between the past and the bright future just ahead. How like America itself, Jack thought.
You’d think I was a fargin’ hack, right? Well, the author of this book is not a hack, not at all, but Jayziz G. Krebs, this is from "Vodka":
Irk looked at the clock on the wall behind Svetlana. Each time the minute hand moved forward, it first jerked slightly backward, as if gathering itself for the leap. It was like Russia itself, Irk thought, where profess is never made without a retrograde step before and after.
Right. Uh huh. It’s like this every other page. I fear someone will show up with a dozen donuts: “Twelve different varieties, each with their own flavor. Much like Russia’s dozen time zones, Denis ‘Denyitchka’ Denisovitch Denisovamitri thought.”
I get the point! The book takes place in Russia! Which is full of Russians!
Well, I have to get back to work, so this breathless narrative must now conclude. One note: I read in Sunday’s paper that my colleague Katherine Kersten, whose conservative columns are a source of much bile and scorn among the local left side of the blog world, will be starting her own blog. You might well disagree with her, but like her counterpart Doug Grow, she’s a decent person, one of those people with whom you could have a long serious & amusing argument.
Anyway: the article announced the paper’s new blog initiative thus:
Several new blogs are in the wings. Katherine Kersten will soon become the first Star Tribune columnist to start a blog.
Just . . . wow.
Well, maybe they meant the first one to start a blog on the Strib site.
That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.
New Match, of course, and new