Okay, well, we lost. And deservedly so. A sour mood settled insoon while we were watching the game, when it became apparent that the Vaunted Vikings Defense was evaporating like someone turned a firehose on a ball of cotton candy, and by the third quarter the Giant Swede, deep in the cups of disgust, was rooting for the Vikings to be humiliated with more touchdowns, and taking grim solace in the knowledge that every Philly fan would be sharing our pain soon enough.

That’s the odd thing: last week we hated hated HATED the Saints until the last moment, and then we regarded them with a strange flavor of affection and respect. Noble foes, we salute thee. Now we wanted the Eagles fans to experience the absolute summit of delirium so the inevitable reckoning would be all the more painful. They will come to our town and be so nekulturny as to taunt and jeer. They will be ground to smooth paste, and when they look to us for something to daub their tears, we will offer sandpaper.

But it was fun. Watching the games with my friends, having hope, cheering on the team, exulting together - it was fun. And for that I’m glad, and thank the Vikings. Who SUCKED.


Saturday we drove to Little Canada - it’s one of the few places around here that has a Tim Horton’s, which fits - and went to the Roseville Area Middle School for the first orientation in The Daughter Removal Project. Of course, that’s not what they call it; there are sons involved too. The school was built in the 70s, and everything about it brought back the era with strange, not unpleasant emotions. It was like visiting my own senior year, even though Fargo North was laid out differently. It was just the architectural vernacular, the odd arrangement of spaces, the intentional darkness in design and materials, the Proud Concrete, the painted cinderblocks. Schools sum up their design era in a distilled fashion, and are rarely overhauled enough to affect the original spirit.


The first part of the day consisted of lectures about Rotary, learning the language before you go, and the inevitable emotional path all the students take: elation and fascination, followed by a crash, followed by integration that leaves you not wanting to go back home to your family because this is your family now! I know that’s meant to reassure everyone that it all comes out okay, but you have some parents sitting in the audience thinking you know F that; if they could be as happy to come home to their actual parents as their host parents that’s be great, and while the host parents will no doubt be great people and we trust them to love our daughter, they don’t get to wander on the movie set and shoot a few scenes and take credit for the whole movie, okay?

I know I’m sounding a bit too hung up on terminology, and I’m really not that bothered, but it rankles a tad. In other news, Tad Rankles is the head of the local Rotary chapter! Who knew.

Lunch break. I drove home - 25 minutes - to let Birch go out and pee and excrete; he laid a yard in the yard, as he does; he just eats and eats. Then I took him for a walk, and almost slipped on the ice as we went down the stairs. I would have hit my head and been laid out, possibly killed or incapacitated, and I thought “I’d still want her to go to Brazil.” When we got back to the house I actually did slip on the ice, and thanks to some fast mid-air acrobatics and hand-work I did not break a rib on the back steps. But I hit it hard enough to hurt like hell right away. Stood up - deep breaths - feel the ribs - nothing broken. Also pulled a string in my leg, on account of the flailing. So there I am in the kitchen, dog barking for food, hands stinging from scrapes, and this isn’t the best day of my life.

But it’s interesting. Back to the school, another 20 minute drive, and then I found the room for our group.

Yeah, that’s the one. Two hours of questions and answers about yellow fever and acclimation and what type of town she’ll get; could be a small rural town in the agricultural district. Lessons on the wisdom of putting Post-It notes on everything with Portuguese words. (I did that tonight with the fridge and microwave, so we can all start to use Portuguese conversationally.) There were questions about appropriate conversation, how to deal with HOT TOPICS (translation: Trump, United Fruit) and I asked one of the kids who’d spent a year there how much the high schoolers discussed current affairs in their country. She said they talked about the corruption, which they accepted as a part of the way things were. (note to daughter: read up on Car Wash.)

Today we had 1st orientation for Daughter’s foreign exchange trip. Lady who checks us in is excited because she sees my last name. She wants to know if I’m related to Jim Lileks, who drew cartoons. She went to the same high school with him in Mounds View. Well, he was a few years ahead, but she remembered he did these funny drawings of the principal.

“Well, “ I said, “I’m James Lileks. There are no Lilekses in Mounds View; we are few in number, and know where they all are.”

She said he drew cartoons for the U of M paper in the early 80s.

I said “I wrote for the U of M paper in the early 80s.”

“This Jim Lileks was a cartoonist,” she said.

“Oh, you’re thinking of Kevin Siers!” I said. “He was the paper’s cartoonist.” 5/7

She didn’t agree. That just wasn’t so. No, it was Jim Lileks who drew the cartoons.

“But I’m Jim Lileks. James. I worked alongside Kevin Siers, cartoonist.”

She didn’t believe me. I couldn’t convince her. Somehow in my tenure at the college paper, I failed to take notice of a guy with my name who drew the editorial cartoons in the same room where I worked with the editorial cartoonist who was named Kevin.

It was like “well, you’re James, but he was Jim.”

Thank God before I left a woman came up and said she was a reader of the paper and loved the work. She also said she'd read about Daughter for years and could well imagine this was hard because dang, it was hard for her too. We made a pact to meet at the airport, see the kids off, then dive into the engines when they spool up. But then again, no. That would delay the flight, and we wanted the kids go off on their adventure. Some other plane, then. Or maybe just lie down and let the baggage vehicles run over us, but they didn't go fast enough.

Ha ha! It'll all be fine! It's not like we can't go visit them - oh wait, we can't! Ha ha ha

Well, as I said to Birch when he ate four bagels: this, too, shall pass.



This is a quiet, unhappy movie. It's pretty good.

The Trailer:

This isn’t the sort of movie I usually watch; it’s a weeper. But the reviews were strong.

IMDB: "A young naive woman falls for a handsome young man who her emotionally abusive father suspects is a fortune hunter."

You know exactly how this will go, don’t you? It’s based on “Washington Square,” by Henry James, so you know this isn’t going to be a barnburner plotwise.

Let’s meet the naive young woman: not exactly sticking to her beauty regimen.

It’s a difficult role, because she really has to be something of a damp napkin for the plot to work. You have to believe her father, who realizes his daughter is dull - but you don’t like her father’s evident disdain and boredom for her, even though he’s right about her suitor, too.

Or . . . is he?

Monty Cliff, who’s just fallen desperately, desperately in love with her, and hang it all I don’t care if you’re rich!

As the film goes on, she gets more and more dour . . .


And when the most crushing blow possible falls, she works that Oscar moment hard:

It is a very, very good movie, even though you know everything in advance. The acting is superb throughout. Wyler’s a great director, of course - even though it’s mostly people in rooms, talking, he manages a few nice little moments.

That’s alienation. That’s a quiet, stifling household.

Here’s how she looks at the end.


That’s alienation. That’s a quiet, stifling household.

Here’s how she looks at the end.

She won. Or did she? Etc. Look, it's the 1800s.

This title card got my attention:


So you’re asking . . . did Aaron Copland write a Presley song?


BTW, here’s Copland’s “Suite” for the movie.

Ta da! The start of another week of glorious Bleatage. BTW, i did post the Lance solution last Friday - got called into a meeting and then there was a farewell party and cupcakes and OKAY I FORGOT I am sorry. But i expect you figured it out anyway.



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