Yes, I get tired of hearing me bitch & moan, too. I know how you feel, but I gotta live with the mope. The good news? Big new site today, heralding the overhaul of the Institute of Official Cheer. Also, the return of the sorta-much-quasi-loved "24" feature.

It’s a better day; the return of the daily routine gives me Format and Structure, which help shore up the boneless spirit. This morning I drove to a neighborhood high school to pick up some community education forms, and was reminded again that my daughter will not attend this school. For one thing, it’s locked. A workman saw me coming and warned me that the door was closed, but after he sized me up he said he’d open it.

“Why is it locked?” I asked. He gave me an amused look.

“To keep the inmates in?” I asked.

“And to keep the others out,” he said. “If we don’t lock it up, they come in. And then there’s mischief.”

Mischief. Nicely underplayed. It’s a peculiar world: the schools are locked to keep kids from coming in. Inside the school, I felt the same cold grim feelings I had the last time I’d come here – even empty, the place bristles, somehow. A couple of students walked past, and I silently counted to see how long it would be take before someone deployed the Effenheimer, or the dreaded Mother Effenheimer. Three seconds. I’m not in favor of having nuns patrol with nail-studded two-by-fours, but on the other hand, I am. Or least some authority figure around which the Youts would feel compelled to display a civil tongue. I was talking with one of the neighbors at the bus stop; she’d been to the school last week, and one of the students hit on her.

My child is not going there.

It made me recall my own high school experience, of course; can't rub against a particle of modernity without scurrying back to Norman Rockwell-land, where I can safely shake my fist and make hooting bluster-monkey sounds. But. It was different, and it wasn't that long ago. We had a few ruffians, but they confined their anti-social behavior to smoking between classes, talking too loudly in the cafeteria, and slumping in the back row of English class and drawing skulls on their jeans. The idea that anyone would have shouted MOTHERFARKER in the hallways was unthinkable, and I suppose this makes me sound very old. But there’s no good reason we had to concede that particle of decorum.

I imagine that the school’s staff has bigger things to deal with, but I suspect that some of the larger issues of behavior could be made a tad more manageable by addressing the smaller issues. Just a thought from an amateur.


A few updates:

The sci-fi writer I discussed on Friday was, indeed, the right guy; he wrote back, rather surprised I’d found the old letter and traced it to him. It made his day, or at least a substantial portion of the afternoon, I gathered, and I felt good about that.

Re: this gravestone: I'd noted that two kids died, and said I hoped the parents tried again - and that the kid lived long enough to die in his sleep watching Golden Age television shows.

Debra, a Bleatnik with much better google-fu than I possess,  tracked the names. (I get a brainlock when I confront genealogy sites.) and here’s what she wrote:

The Bertie and Bertha headstone had some handy information on it and helped me find their parents in the 1870 census. Their parents were John David Layman and Arletta Leeinau Stone; he was a farmer, born in NY in 1834, she a homemaker born in Vermont in 1837. He died in 1877, she in 1906.

They had two children before Bertie and Bertha, George and Nelly, and a younger son Thomas. Looks like George, at least, made it to Detroit and married Lenore, with whom he had a son George. Thomas had a daughter, Virginia. There's a good chance that their kids, at least, grew up to enjoy Uncle Miltie and his ilk.

So we have a story to go with the stone. I'll never pass the cemetery again without thinking about that. Seriously. Under that marble marker, there's DNA whose kin still roams the world.

That's it for now, alas - I have many things to do today, but I did manage to bang out a new Institute site tonight. I've had the scans queued for a year; I was waiting to finish the final tweaking on the new Institute page, but I finally said to hell with perfection. I banged out the copy and put up the site. Here you go: a 1930s Joke Book designed to sell nerve tonic. Also the Quirk, of course, and also a Funny Book, so you can't quite say I sold you short today. Even though I am obviously in a non-Bleating mood this week, and still dealing with the semi-annual desire to upend everything, move to Fiji, and design restaurant menus.

Oh, all right, one tantalizing preview of tomorrow. Chew on this for a day:

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if this isn't the most un-PC image I've put up in some time. Fascist space-babe offers Nuclear Smoke-Poles! More on that tomorrow. Thanks for the patience, and I'll see you tomorrow. (All the flights to Fiji were cancelled.)




We have a recap of the previous week, in which many men shouted at each other about the fact that a firefight was initiated. Audrey is suffering from Post-Subplot Syndrome, and it appears to be producing large amounts of mucus and hair oils. She is led away. Back at CTU High, new acting head Nadia shows she has what the job takes: she, too, can pace and bark. She refuses Morris’ request to go home because his ex-wife said something mean, and Morris is all oh yeah, well, this isn’t over, and I’ll see you in the parking lot after Home Ec. We learn that the slinky blonde with the buzzard-beak nose who was osculating with the President Glower Tolliver actually has another boyfriend, big surprise; as a sign that they are creatures motivated by incredible passion, he throws Beaky on the bed and opens her blouse, revealing the presence of a bra. Animal! Back at the White House, the President has a conference call with the Russian President, who is upset that the Chinese have stolen the magic codes that make missiles wilt in their silos, or something like that. Pres. Tolliver resists the  temptation to remark that they should have updated their codes in the last, oh, 20 years, but the call ends too quickly; we learn that the Russians may invade a US base somewhere in Vagueistan.

On with the show.

UPDATE: animal blouse-opener may be a SPY. Or a male underwear model.

UPDATE: bingo. He talked to a Russian. Or Rudy Guiliani; the light was low.

UPDATE: Morris and Chloe are having a moment in the hallway. I think those crazy kids are still in love. “There’s a line, darling, and you crossed it.”

“So what are you saying?”

“It’s over. There’s no going back. We’re done.”

Uh – guys. You’re divorced?  Also, Morris, you might recall that you’ve been dealing out bitchy oh-snap comments since you showed up?

UPDATE: There may be a leak at CTU. In related news, water has been observed flowing downhill. In other news, Milo is insulted when Nadia concludes a conversation without putting her tongue down his throat. Men!

UPDATE: Jack is put in a room by Ricky. Protocols are discussed. Meanwhile, Audrey is diagnosed as a Type 3 Catatonic, a condition occasionally suffered by viewers of this season.  Whoa! Ricky said something to Nadia that was OVER THE LINE. It’s probably over between them as well. It’s over between everyone and everyone.
The series will conclude with Morris and Ricky and Milo screwing off their class rings and screaming I HATE YOU to all the girls, but they’ll make up after the rumble that follows the race on Dead Man’s Curve.

UPDATE: We’ve identified the spy and the leak. That was fast. Pres. Tolliver now regrets those fun lazy afternoons when he’d write classified information on his torso with strawberry syrup and let her lick it off. On the other relationship front, Ricky just sprung Jack and let him choke him to fake an escape; in their world, that’s practically an engagement announcement in the Sunday Times.

UPDATE: Apparently Level 3 Catatonia can be pierced by shouting and pointing a gun while people use a cutting torch to open a steel door. It’s just that no one ever tried that combination before. When the bow-and-arrow / shouting / cutting-torch didn’t work, they abandoned that line of inquiry.

UPDATE: “It’s still treason, Lisa, and that’s a capital offense.” That is the thing that sets “24” apart: when you betray a lover on this show, the lover can have you legally executed.

UPDATE: Hey! SecDef Heller’s all better. My money has him as the President next season. He leaves with a nice eff-you to Jack and forbids him from seeing his daughter ever again. The season’s transition to “The Days of Our Lives” with geosynchronous satellites is now complete.