Sorry about yesterday: I plumb forgot. Posted the archive version, but was OH LOOK A PUPPY!
Sorry, distracted again. Anyway, there was a Bleat, and there remains a Bleat; today is another matter. It was the apotheosis of quotidian detail, and little of it bears mention; I have drilled down so deep into the uneventful quality of my life I’ve done two, count them, two Quirks based entirely on waiting for a stoplight at 50th and Xerxes. Because that’s what I have done this week. Again, and again. This morning I picked Gnat up from her morning class –
No, start at the beginning! I took her to class. Came home. Banged away at this and that. Had a lunch, a disappointing lunch; bought a new fiber-choked bread that tastes like compressed hay. Topped it off with an apple (a Fiji, if you must know; they’re my favorite. Tart as a Cole Porter lyric) then drove to get her from Spanish Camp. Today “Camp” consisted of making a piñata, then dragging the kids into the hellish auditorium (no A/C, walls caked with decades of kid-sweat) to see the play another class had done for Drama Camp. Afterwards, Ice Cream. Thursday is Ice Cream day. The man at the microphone asks “what day is it,” and all the newbys mutter “Thursday;” the kids in the know respond Ice Cream Day, but in insufficient numbers, so he poses the question again. Everyone shouts ICE CREAM DAY and by everyone, I mean about 200 + kids, plus parents. Then he sings a song no one understands due to the muffled PA system, and by the time he gets to the hip hooray he’s lost all the kids, who have correctly divined a loss of ice-cream related momentum. Then the volunteers dump out the treats. Which are not ice cream. First they dump out the boxes of popsicles, which no child will take if the general rubric has been established as Ice Cream – but they’re bade to chose and move along. I told Gnat to take a popsicle just as a kid brought out a box of Butterfinger Ice Cream bars, which are like the Mercedes of frozen treats. But they’re off limits as a pre-lunch snack. Sorry. I would, however, give in to a pudding pop (90 calories as opposed to 300 for the Butterfingers) – but she was instructed, again, to chose and move along. She made a grab just as the ice cream sandwiches came out. Victory!
I know what you’re thinking: man, if that was noon, the rest of the day must have been a soul-grinding mess of dashed expectations; how do you top that? You don’t. So I got her home, got some fruits and vegetables in her, then took her to Bug Camp. Back home. Wrote a column. Sent the column. Picked her up from Bug Camp. Bunco night for my wife, so that meant Chuck E. Fargin.
This is the machine next to her favorite (the Spider Stomper.) Creeps me out. Joker-robot trapped at gunpoint:
You hit the stump with a mallet and the robot judges your power. (In every instance, the recorded voice praises your effort as Fantastic; you could drop a salt grain on the stump and the lights would go to Eight.) It’s a chance for young boys to bleed off some aggression. Most of them pound the stump six times while screaming those incoherent war cries embedded in the male DNA. Next to the robot:
I don’t know why, but this one annoys me more than any other game. Perhaps it’s the name: Country Acres. It’s like Nation Versts, or Rustic Roods. And Chuck E. is in full farmer mode, what with the straw chaw and the Osh Kosh by Allah and the pitchfork and clichéd here-you-go-folks cartoon character hand gesture. But no farmer puts his hat on backwards, okay? I don’t care if he’s one of those modern farmers who has the airconditioned tractor cab with the GPS autosteer that turns the tractor at the end of the furrow (you think I’m kidding? Hell, you can read a book while you do the back 40 these days. You can take a nap. You can watch a DVD. I have no doubt there are internet-enabled tractors with satellite access that allow farmers to sit in the cab, turn on the autosteer, head for a chat room and bitch about rainfall.) NO FARMER WEARS HIS FEED CAP BACKWARDS.
She made a new friend, and went upstairs to play skeeball. Fine with me. I ordered some tepid coffee, put on my headphones and listened to Hewitt; Mark Steyn was on, and I didn’t want to repeat anything he’d said when I did my bit in a few hours. Just so you know: that’s the life of a Radio Talk Show Regular Guest. It’s like a tsunami of glamour.
We went home; I did the radio show. We went to the park and sat in the sand and made a sand farm. (My idea. Laid out the grid, drew furrows with my finger, planted sticks. Good crop. The price hardly makes it worth the bother, though, even with the guvment price supports.) Home. I wrote another column, this one based on something observed at Nicollet and 54th – I’m branching out! – then we had a Road Runner marathon. I was heartened to see that she didn’t laugh at the gags that weren’t funny. Many of them aren’t. She has sympathy for the Coyote; if he was a pup, he would be so cute. But she roots for the Road Runner. I keep telling her that the Road Runner gets by on speed alone; at least the Coyote is using his brain. On the other hand, the Coyote is often paralyzed by imminent doom, particular if it’s a result of something he set in motion. If he set a boulder rolling south, and a minute later it appears behind him from the north, there is always a moment of complete understanding in his face, braided with fear and horrible anticipation. He always knows who’s really to blame, but it never stops him from the next invention.
She also picked out some logical inconsistencies, which gladdened me. The gags that made her laugh were the ones that had that perfect inevitable logic. She insisted that I narrate the cartoons, so I did my best Wile E. Coyote GEEEENius voice. She snuggled up to me and laughed and begged for another. We watched six in a row.
That’s as good as life gets.
Can Road Runner fly? She asked. I said no. But look at the Coyote. He can’t fly, either, but he does, with the aid of mail-order machinery. Granted, it all goes horribly wrong, but he flies. And he’s a dog. The Road Runner is a bird, a creature to whom flight should be as natural as breathing, yet he is content to run. What lessons should we take from this? Right! Never order ACME balloons. (One episode, I noted, had a crate marked “ACME Self-inflating balloon,” as thought the lack of a device to inflate the bladder would somehow cripple our suspension of disbelief.)
And now I must write another column. Grand day, all told.
New Quirk. Yesterday’s Bleat can be accessed by hitting the calendar below, if you didn’t get it. New Diner as well: click the link below for the fun art-enhanced podcast, or go here for the boring old MP3. It’s an ordinary episode, made extraordinary by the fact that I lost two previous versions. This is the third attempt.
Monday: a project of glorious dimensions. No hints. You’ll have to wait. Thanks for the patronage, and have a fine weekend!