If your child has a birthday in the summer, and you have a back yard, and a few dollars to spare, there will be a sound you will hear for a while, then forget for a decade or two. It is the sound of the engine that keeps a bouncy castle inflated.

We had one once, a Disney Princess bouncy house. I remember that sound. A constant, confident, relaxed sound.

While I was listening to it in the still of a Sunday afternoon, I realized I hadn’t heard the first cicada yet. I was just talking about that with Mother-in-Law the other day: you always hear the first, and never hear the last. IT’S A METAPHOR!

Annnnd just now I heard the first cicada.

Another sound: Friday there was a shudder in the wall. I knew what it was, on one level, but didn’t, on another. It suggested there was someone upstairs closing a drawer. But that can’t be. There’s no one upstairs, anymore. Ah: the sprinkler system shuddering, for some reason. Shutting off, perhaps.

There are two late-night sounds. Or were. The creak of the floorboards in Daughter’s room, which has noisy wood. Or the thump of the treadmill downstairs.

No, there were others. Or are. Now and then the clatter of the ice maker. A distant siren. A late plane. The neighbors having a midnight confab by the fire. But for a moment, I read the shudder as a drawer upstairs in her room. I used to wonder if the house was haunted, even though I don’t believe in that. Now I know it is.

No one’s home. Wife went up to a memorial service with her mother and sister and brother in law. They went up Highway 10! I gave advice about where to pull over and take a look, see the remains of a tired coma town, or one that was still pitching. Brother-in-law Tim, big city guy, hospital administrator, busy, busy - he loves these American moments, if that doesn’t sound to pretentious or condescending. When your life is Zoom and spreadsheets it’s good to get out amongst the people who do not spend the day tethered to Zoom or spreadsheets. I mentioned last month how we attended the car show at the Fairgrounds, and how he was in heaven - well. Wife sent a brief video from their final destination, and it was a demolition derby. He got to hear cars rev and see cars smash. Practically a trip to the Flavian Amphitheater to see a gladiatorial match.

Mother-in-law had noted that they didn’t have these when she was growing up, and indeed not: they were everyone was too poor to smash cars for sport. Madness, that. You could fix that up. Lick of paint, good as new.

So it’s me and the pooch for the weekend. Occasional texts from Daughter telling me what’s up. I mentioned that I was grilling a pizza on the Weber. She said she was making toast in a frying pan. Froast? Fread? She sent a taunting image of Wallace from Aardman, mocking my new Twitter status.

Yes, I did it.


I thought of that because I am rereading a fictional Cicero bio, the Robert Harris book. I really should read something else, but it was on my phone when I was on the plane and I wanted to sink into the warm bath of familiar Roman history, and open a vein. It’s obvious Harris admires ol’ Chickpea, sees his faults, and shades him with a positive preference. I know a guy who strikes me as a modern version - principle and passion and conviction, but in the end it’s more about him than he would ever admit, or know, and he’s not entirely aware of it. He could never bear for the spotlight shift. He would let it drift elsewhere, as a sign of conviviality, but was impatient for it to return, and quietly peeved when it lingered on the other side of the stage. I admire his talents, but if I ever said he was our era’s Cicero . . . it would not be compliment.

I don't recognize the artist.

The Thinking Reed? Yes indeed. A Rebecca West novel.



Serial time!

The recap:

Wrecking a dam seems like a lot of work to block a truck route, and we’re not quite sure why. It was explained, but the basic reason was “we need to end with a dam blowing up,” I think.

Tough customer:

Then there's this annoying little idiot, who's partially responsible for ruining Dick’s arrest of the gang, All those people dead from the damburst, that’s on you!

Never rent a truck from the Serial Prop Department Garage:

When last we saw them, the truck ran off the road and kablowie:


We knew that was going to happen. Dick asks where the water is headed, and gets out an alert in approximately 2 minutes.

Once again, classical music is pressed into inappropriate service. Name that piece! Or you’ll have “eg” on your face!

Success; whew

The Starks are sitting around trying to figure out how to bump off Tracy, and see that he’s meeting later that day with some concerned citizens who are worried about the crime wave. You know, the Crime Wave Tracy has already foiled eight times.

They hire a paid killer:

He’s wearing a robe, so he’s, like, you know, a gentleman assassin. A real professional. He’ll kill Tracy for a cool . . . one thousand dollars.

He shows up as the president of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce; Tracy sends a note to check up on this dude.

Then he tells them what he’s been up to.


Oh crap it’s the half-point compilation ep. Ah well. Let’s cut to the end. Tracy leaves the room, and the killer arms a bomb in his suitcase, and not even Jimmy notices. Because JIMMY IS STUPID.

Then he recognizes that the guy left his briefcase. See, the killer didn’t say “I’m going to see a man about a horse” and leave, which wouldn’t raise suspicions. He makes a show of having to leave entirely, says good byes, and leaves his briefcase by his chair. Jimmy notices, and runs after him.


Well, one can only hope.

That will suffice! Now, as ever, the Matchbooks. Still working on the comments; verdict by Friday. The embed code is still causing the program to crash. I suppose I could go to the Disqus message boards to see if there are complaints.

But I am sure there's always been complaints.