Okay, this is all lame, and you can skip it. A wonderful day of absolutely no consequence; not a jot of novelty or new idea, no new friends made or bright horizons opened. No good news. No bad news. Almost the very definition of a Tuesday, which exists between the bracing trumpets of Monday and the faint thrill of hope you feel when Wednesday idles down.

Except -

Well, the dog’s not dead. This morning when I got up he did not. He did not want to go outside. I figured my wife fed him first and let him out; she rises and gets out earlier. He was inert and not at all interested in my breakfast, which makes me think the Time Has Come. So after I made daughter’s lunch (yes, yes, I did, but she was busy beautifying, and I really believe she will be able to feed herself in the future despite my overprotectiveness) I took the leftover pasta and put it in a bowl and put it by his bed. He woke and snorted and looked at me and looked at it. I walked away, thinking if he doesn’t eat it I don’t want to know.

But he did. True to form he came to the dinner table hours later and made several sharp barks, expecting something. A ration of cheese. A lick of a plate if if’s not too much m’lord. Then he went outside and walked on the moonscape of the frozen snow, eyes gone, ears shot, back legs halt, then barked at the bottom of the stairs so I would come out and pick him up and carry him to the door - which, of course, I did. I swear he has become the canine equivalent of an elderly New York intellectual circa 1965, lacking only the thick black glasses.

And, it was cold - miserable bitter cold, minus ten on the thermometer upon rising, a scant three under zero when daughter returned home. She ran to the big marble slab over the radiator by the front window and planked, soaking it up. (Jasper used to sit there and behold his domain when he could get up on things.) I joined her, my feet still cold from leaving the house to go to work (note to self: do not leave house) and we just talked for half an hour. It was the best thing of the day, that. Nothing of weight, no hopes / dreams / fears, just catching up on slang (rachet: that’s the new intensifier) and school gossip (rumor says this kid went in his locker and smoked weed, and everyone knew because it wafted out - this led to a conversation on the Older Kids who possibly maybe do such a thing, and what losers they are. They don’t say “stoned” anymore. They say “faded.”) I noted her latest nail polish scheme. She said she was peckish. She told a blonde joke.

The sunset had a particular aspect it only gets in winter, a bright orange band over the top half of the trees. The gradient of summer is different. The leaves obscure whatever goes on between us and the horizon. In the winter there’s a stark divide, and it reminded me of a video I shot when she was just one, and how I set it to Frank Sinatra: This is a Lovely Way to Spend an Evening. She was on the bed and Jasper leaped up and nuzzled her and barked: c’mon, do something so I will jump down and then jump up again.

I pointed out how the birch trees out front were so small when we moved in I could string lights to the top. We watched a woman walk down the street far below, down the hill. We watched a dog up the blog bound through the snow to reach the front door. She said she’d never noticed how you can see the church steeple from the window, the flat modern one. I took note again of the extraordinary view from the front window in winter, the view down the great sloping hill to the point of the Triangle. In the original scheme of the neighborhood the Triangle was part of Jasperwood, and I’d consider it part of the property in my heart if I hadn’t been to so many Halloween neighborhood parties there. It belongs to everyone.

Unless you plant flowers there. Someone did, years ago. Someone complained. No one knows who.

And then the sun set and we went up to our studios; she wrote, I designed. The sun slipped away unnoticed. When I went back downstairs to make coffee the living room was dark, the view out the front window the usual winter black. The dog, for some reason, sneezed.

Bless you, I said, and I think he heard my voice: he raised his head and looked at me. Ordinary day, as I said. Possibly the best so far.








Well, it seems I am to use Google+ and Facebook as promotional terms. I have no objection to this, because entering either involves the disappearance of vast chunks of time down the sucking vortex of Internet Detritus, so huzzah! It’s work, technically!

It has to do with SEO; if I post links and such with Strib URLs it will be entered into the vast and silent Googleplex, thereafter appearing in search results should anyone want to know what I said, inaccurately, about quasars in the waning days of the first cold month of the year of our Lord 2013. Which, I am sure, they will not.

But it gives me a chance to customize pages, and there’s nothing I love more than tweaking the bland templates to make them slightly less bland.

So: I'm working on the links, but if you're on Google+, just look for jameslileks or lileks or something like that. My Facebook page is here. I will be adding links in the morning to the Bleat, and links to the Strib Blog when it goes up.

It is the illusion of productivity I like.

On the subject of Connectivity and Social Media: I should share this on Pinterest!


Right? Except I grew bored with pinterest almost immediately, partly because it seemed like one more damned thing to curate - hell, it was - and also because the tedium of following and checking did not fit into my normal internet flow. Everyone has a flow. Mine is as strange as everyone else’s. For most of the day it’s a process of reading short blog posts about 500 words or fewer. While eating or exercising I use my iPad, which has different apps for aggregating content, with feeds outside of my usual bookmarked perambulations. When I see an interesting article I want to write about, I shoot it to Pocket, for later reading or use as blog-fodder.

Every day I encounter some site I like, but rarely promote to the daily bookmark. I find this interesting. Why wouldn’t I? Because it’s a peripheral interest, and I really don’t need to check up on someone’s vintage kitchen remodel for a month. If ever. So the list of secondary bookmarks grows and grows, until weeded out six months later after a cursory revisit. Each of these pages usually has a Facebook page. Never go there. Why would I?

What I don’t like about all of this: the fragmentation of presence. If you just have Facebook, lucky you. If that’s what you want. But if you have a blog, you should tweet, and if you tweet, isn’t there a Facebook account and a Google+ account you might want to link to that? Ought not the Tumblr be chained as well, so all updates everywhere are sprayed across all possible platforms?

As you’ve noticed, perhaps - and I do wonder if there’s anyone here who goes way back, waaay back to the 90s - I prefer to do things my way. The site is the platform. The two-year dalliance with WordPress was an attempt to automate many things and make my life easier, but it defeated the one thing I liked to do: change it to reflect my mood and the temperament of the exterior world. Any change rippled back in time and changed every page that had gone before.

But you can’t stay in a walled garden. So while this page will remain the same, there will be external pointers and hints and samples posted every morning at the Facebook and Google+ sites.

About that picture: it’s part of the Orgy of Scanning I’m doing this month, building up a massive trove. The frontispiece of a promotional booklet for Rockefeller Center, the roof of which was the vantage point for the shot. It’s poignant, if you think about it. When you see the Trylon and Perisphere you think of 1939, of course - less so of 1940, the second year of the Fair, the one without the Pavilions of nations out of favor or no longer a going concern. But 1939, ah, that was the hopeful year - a tremulous hope above a bass note of unease. Rockefeller Center itself was a product of the Depression, a statement of will, one of the most severe and severely beautiful structures of the era, and perhaps the only successful start-from-scratch urban project that worked, no doubt because of the density and vitality of the surrounding blocks. Those people stand in a space that was created for them by the power of human imagination and the strength of money and politics; they were born up by whizzing cars whose safety they took for granted; they were admitted without care for their economic station. They looked across the expanse to the symbols of the future . . . and they would never get there.

I’m sorry, what? I mean “they would probably never get there today because that’s the sort of event you want to hit early, rather than pack it in on a sightseeing day in Manhattan,” but I needed to poignify the thing a bit more. They would get there, but it wouldn’t be so pointy.

Another scanning find:



A big huge book of "Modern" typography, explaining to novice designers how to design things in the current style and do it right. I scanned most of the book, and it'll be up some time this year.

Exotic Luxury Talc! Once there was such a thing. You puffed some in your pits before you went to the World's Fair. The papers said it would be hot.

There were so many papers.


I was going to add something from the Mpls site overhaul, but I think I'll husband those. I'm really ripping through the overhaul quickly, having settled on a style I'll probably hate as much in year as I hate the one that's up there now. The entire site is being trimmed and edited and made spiffy. See you around in the usual places.

There are so many places.










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