I’m supposed to write a letter to my daughter telling her how much I love her. It’s for Confirmation. All the kids will have one; they open them up and read them to themselves in class.
I am sorely tempted just to put a Twenty in the envelope.
I won’t, but that would be so perfect on so many levels. You get the gushing Mom letter, and then Dad’s is the ultimate practical missive; the other kids look at the $20 and think I wish my dad had done that, which instantly elevates me above all other days for exactly the wrong reasons. It would be mean. But funny.
I won’t. I am writing something that will not sound like a class essay, though, and will be devoid of recollections. All those time you don’t remember that I treasure, and wish I could revisit! What they really want to hear, you suspect, is that “ah, that was fun, but you’re better at holding up your end of the conversation now.” I do miss the middle years. I do miss the early years. I don’t miss the very early year, of being awake at 2 AM and unable to move because the child on my chest had gone to sleep after an hour’s bout with the Knives of Gas, and there I was watching that U2 video for “Discoteque,” which they always played at 2 AM on MTV. Always.
In between now and then not a lot has changed with me, I don’t think. I am still doing the same things and am interested in the same things and avoiding the same things and considering the same things and so on, and so on. I’ve travelled more, and I’ve written a lot, but otherwise it’s an unbroken line from here to there and vice versa. This would not suit some people. It suits me, which is why it happened.
I was listening to a comedian on the comedy channel on the way into work. The BBC wasn’t interesting at the moment - something about fighting corruption in Africa; there’s a new effort underway, and supporters hope it will lead to lasting change, etc. etc. The Talk Channel was playing the Reconfirming Everything You Believe Show, and the callers were either skinny cranky dudes or thick angry sarcastic middle-aged lumps of glowering resentment. The Old Time Radio channel - can’t remember. Possibly the Shadow, which was the dumbest show on the air. Lamont Cranston, man about town, learned in the East the secret power to cloud men’s minds! That was the extent of the explanation. The “how” was never explained. He’d talk, and the crook would panic and shoot everything and everywhere, and the Shadow would just laugh. I’d love to go back and redo the series, and have the Shadow take one in the gut the first time he tried this trick, because the crook smelled his cologne.
Well, Margo, fighting crime by taunting criminals under an assumed name turned out to be a rather stupid idea. I’m done with that. I say, as soon as I get out of the deuced hospital bed, let’s hit Ciro’s, shall we?
Of course we will Lamont. Of course. (sobs to herself, because Lamont has sepsis from the gunshot, and is not expected to recover)
No, it was the ha-ha channel, which sometimes has actual amusement. Never heard of the fellow they were playing today; he wasn’t funny in the least, but was British and had a certain offhand charm. He said his friends came to him and said their lives were empty, they were in their 30s, they had the perfect relationship, a good flat, loved their job, but their life was empty, and he counseled them not to go to Africa to help out because they don’t need you and there’s nothing you can do. You can’t drop by the Lepertorium and say make way I’m a DJ.
That was a good line. But in his scenario of friends in their 30s with empty lives not one said they had children.
I don’t think kids plug all the holes in your life, but at least they’ll turn a fast drain into a slow leak.
I lied; didn’t redo every site when I overhauled lileks.com from stem to stern. Sometimes I looked at a site and said “well, that’s fine,” and moved on. When I took a closer look at the North Dakota Small Towns site, I was surprised to see that everything seemed to be shot through a lens smeared with bacon grease. Google sent the cars back around in 2011 - 12, and the shots are much better.
Google Street View today:
If you're wondering whether I've become preoccupied with these pictures, you're right: This is the largest building survey in the history of human civilization. And it's not sitting in file cabinets at the Library of Congress. It's on your phone.
Another interesting technical note: the old embedded street views still work, and you can still move around in the frame and see what it looked like in 2009. The new versions are new. So there are different states existing in the Googleplex. Of course they’d never overwrite them.
They will never overwrite anything. The upside is knowing that somewhere there's a complete account of a small town in North Dakota in 2009 before it was destroyed by a tornado in 2016. The bad news is that they know you looked at it in 2010 and again in 2017. But that's the price of free.
There are two things we will not see in this episode of Captain America:
One is a shroud, and the other is the color scarlet. No matter! Let's begin.
I don't know what he's grinning about:
Be more sad! You failed! Well, the Mechanical Executioner - aka "a tractor" - was bearing down on Cap, who was unconscious. A goner!
Missed me! Missed me! Now you gotta kiss me!
He frees the professor, who tells him that the henchmen escaped with the plans for the aforementioned Electronical Firebolt, which will enable them to break into any safe in the country.
Those fiends! Stealing gems is one thing, but historical gems! Turns out they also broke into an art gallery and took Old Master paintings. So Malodor’s plan is revealed: steal the most difficult-to-fence items possible.
The next step in these serials is always the yang to the technological yin; a Scientist develops something that will locate the last thingamabob, and that’s what happens here. Of course. Professor Dodge, Scientist, is working on just such a device, and he says it will be ready by the end of Episode 3. No, but he might as well. Mordor, meanwhile, is worried about the biggest threat to his plan: The District Attorney.
Why not Captain America, you ask? Because he was worried about Captain America in the last episode. There is an unshakeable ping-pong pace to the plot; makes Kabuki look like a flash mob.
The professor is working on his device at the District Attorney’s apartment, which makes perfect sense.Is there any technobabble?
Ah, the Firetrone Tubes.
Well, a hench has tampered with his car so it overheats, and as the hench says, “once it overheats it’ll explode like a bomb.” Lucky for us, the secretary saw the tampering, and runs out to stop the District Attorney. She’s too late, but the hench’s attempt to stop her leads to my New Favorite Serial Moment Ever:
She manages to warn him via radio, a sequence that chews up two minutes. And here we see how a lawyer treats sensitive electronic equipment:
Don’t worry! It’s okay. Good thing the Firetrone Tubes weren’t installed. I imagine they’re rather delicate.
So the Firebolt Locator locates the Firebolt, and we get a gander at it:
Oh, you can see why no one ever saw the crooks make their getaway with that discrete little tool.
The District Attorney heads over in his underwear and surprises the crooks, so, fistfight. After two minutes of hitting each other in the head Cap and a crook fall in a box, and the other hence wakes up and turns on the Electronic Thunderbolt, which was previously shown cutting through an 18 inch steel vault, but now can only set a wooden box on fire.
Hmm. And this is disturbing:
Drat! No murder, just a preview. Well, friends: tune in next week.
Strib blog in short form in the morn; Tumblr, of course. See you around!