Turns out I wasn’t coming down with the Tunguska Grippe; I was just tired. I was restored on Friday evening with a boon from the Gods, which I’ll get to in a second.
Friday afternoon I picked Gnat up from her afternoon excursion, a field trip to some fish place. They caught fish, or made fish, or invented fish, I don’t know. The main attraction was lunch at Old Country Buffet, home of the infinite dessert options. She enjoyed seeing the insides of fish, though. She saw a fish heart. Another kid, she said, had fish intestines put in his hands and poop came out. She also informed me, nonchalantly, that she had touched a fish bladder, and was curious whether I’d ever done the same. I said I had not. She nodded, filing that one away. Then she was picked up for a birthday party at Pump It Up, where kids run and bounce and try to avoid concussions, after which they are fed pizza and cake and the parents don’t have to clean up. It’s become the default option in our social circle, I think. You hear a kid’s having a birthday, you ask “Eden Prairie or Burnsville?” (There are no locations in the city, which says something – no cheap spacious office parks with high ceilings. We do, however, have a Chinese Antique Art Gallery in our neighborhood, and if ever I need Chinese Antique Art, I know just where to go.) (To be honest, I will never ever set foot in the place, even out of curiosity; I have this peculiar fear of giving local merchants false hope. I don’t go in unless I’m going to buy something. You always have that horrible moment when you try to wander nonchalantly towards the door while the shopkeeper stands behind the counter, looking at you, thinking: I mortgaged my house for this and you can’t buy a river-smoothed pebble engraved with the character for Opportunity, can you. Not even that. Why don’t you just stab me in the heart.)
Anyway. Since she was out, I had to make dinner. But it was Friday. And that’s pizza night. So I went to the freezer and pulled out the Manhole of Promise, something I’d found at the grimy grocery store the other day: Geno’s East. I don’t want to get into pizza wars here, because I have come to believe that it’s all good. Even the bad stuff. Even the soggy-crust sauceless triangles with granulated sausage and mealy pseudo-cheese - it’s still pizza, and if you’re in the proper state, the very fact of being pizza is enough. But for decades Geno’s has been the Ideal, the very definition of pizza. I had my first in 1975 when I visited a friend in Chicago. He was Italian, too, so he’d know about these things. It would be years before I’d have another, but when I took the train from DC to Minneapolis I’d have an all-day layover in Chicago, and I took my noon lunch at Geno’s. It never disappointed. The corn meal crust: unbelievable. The best deep dish ever anywhere end of story thank you. So I was stunned to see a frozen Geno’s at the grocery store. Ten bucks. I threw one in the cart and stored it in the freezer and forgot about it.
Until Friday. It took 50 minutes to cook. It had a pop-up timer. Assuming as we must the diminished standards that apply to the genre, I have to say: worthy of the name. I almost wept after the first bite – a thick lake of sauce, aggressive sausage, perfect crust. I had a vision of myself weighing 300 pounds after a year-long diet consisting of nothing but three of these a day, fat and sweating and glistening with grease extruded through the pores, shunned by all except the dogs that gather to lick my fingers after I have finished with the first pass, and I thought: it would be worth it.
Friday night I watched many things. I watched a disk of an old TV show I’ll discuss tomorrow – that’s a screen grab up top; see if you can identify the performer. I watched the first episode of the third season of "Dead Fargin’ Wood,"
and was reminded again how fargin’ wonderful the fargin’ motherless writing can fargin’ be, profanity aside; everyone’s speaking through some peculiar American variant of the Yoda Filter, but it’s a delight to hear. Shakespeare in the mud. Then I began to watch “Nicholas and Alexandra,” which the TiVo nabbed; it’s three hours long, and I know how it ends, and it has Doctor Who as Rasputin, and it’s a little too obvious with the Vietnam parallels in the first hour, but what a production. It came at the end of the old Hollywood grand historical epics, and the absence of stars apparently hurt it at the box office. (Laurence Olivier appears, in his tired-old-man-of-principle mode, but it wasn’t enough.) In the end it was far, far better than I thought, and I suspect it got Alexander right. One of the most pivotal figures of the 20th century, if only for his inaction and his ill-advised actions; not a fool, but not smart enough; decent, insulated, patriotic, remote, compassionate to the concept of Russia but not the particulars, and capable at the end of understanding what he had wrought, and the horrible result his rule, however well-intentioned, had on his country. The actor who played him was superb – the opening shot of his face is jarring, because my God, that’s him. It needed better music, though, and had that peculiar flat glaring lighting of the period that illuminated every inch of the massive canvas. Perhaps that was intended to contrast with the dark and shadowy final hour. Doesn’t matter – really a fine film, and fair. His rule brought about one of the greatest catastrophes of the century, but you still think: Poor Nicky.
Saturday. Worked all day on the various web sites. Redid the Funny Pages site, scanned, cleaned, ordered, sorted, did all the stuff I used to have time for. In the evening I went to Keegan’s for the semi-annual Minnesota Organization of Bloggers party with the Giant Swede, had a drink with Bob Davis, my favorite M-F local talk show host, and met a few fine local bloggers. Cigars and potent liquids. Wife and Child were at a Twins game – a Brownie event – and I got home in time to hear Gnat assure me she had a great time.
“Did you root for the Twins?”
“Of course,” she said, yawning. “They’re my team.”
All the kids went down on the field for a special event – I hope somehow she remembers that. I went to Met Stadium as a kid, eight years old, and remember little. I have photos:
But beyond that, the trip’s indistinct. She was down on the field – and she takes it in stride. The range of experiences available to the most ordinary kid nowadays surpasses the glories once reserved for Tsars.
More tomorrow – must get to the buzz. New Matchbook, of course. Happy Monday! Let’s begin.