Keep those MySpace requests coming – I’ll get to them this weekend, I swear. Pinky swear.

Actually, tonight I broke a pinky swear. I told Gnat that if she tickled me, I would tickle for five straight uninterrupted minutes. Pinky swear? Heedless of the consequences and the signal it would send if I cut and run, I rashly agreed. So she tickled me. I began the promised five-minute tickling, but stopped when she implored me to set a new benchmark, or shrieks to that effect.

But I pinky-swore, I said. So. I will have to tickle you for a second every day until the five minutes is up.

You’ll forget, she said.

I never forget a pinky swear. So now I’m committed to a brisk daily tickle, lest I lose all credibility. Since we end up having tickle fights every day (she started it!) I think I can burn off the five minutes without effort. Today after school she started tickling me during homework, and that’s never wise. I fear you have awakened a tickling giant, kid. It’s remarkable how the very sight of fingers in a tickling posture, deployed near the Rib Zone, seems as bad as the actual tickling. But that doesn’t count.

Busy day. Cold. Snow, but loose fluffy Fifi poodle-fur snow. I wrote a column about the death of the creator of “I Dream of Jeanie,” which was an excuse to pose some questions about that particular show. (It runs next Monday.) Didn’t have the space to deal with Jeannie’s evil dark-haired twin, that petulant Veronica to Jeannie’s clean-scrubbed Betty; in retrospect, she just oozed naughtiness, and I have no doubt she popped up in the Gemini module when Major Nelson was up in high orbit. If the capsule’s rockin’ don’t bother knockin’. And I’m sure once word got out in NASA that Major Nelson managed to smuggle a hot chick on board, everyone wanted to ride that candle, so to speak. I wish the series had revealed at some point that Jeanie was just a pleasing form assumed by some  ancient horrid slug-beast with a thousand tentacles and a million teats to suckle the damned with the bitter waters of Lethe: ha ha! But no.

There was talk of a remake with Jimmy Fallon. And nothing sums up our era better than the preceding sentence.

Great theme, though: LISTEN.

Every note is simple and obvious but it still seems remarkable that no one had thought to arrange them in that particular order. It’s the countertheme, to invent a musical term, that gives it spice, and the middle section has a lovely expansive quality that makes you think of Frank Sinatra peeing off a balcony in Vegas . And of course the beat: bum / bum / bum / bumbum bum / bum / bum / bum / bumbum bum.

The name of the show was a callback to an old song from the early part of the 20th century – “I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair.” I’ve only heard the first few bars, sung by Bugs Bunny with appropriate alterations: “I dream of Jeannie, she’s a light brown hare.” Old as the song was, audiences in the forties got the joke, just as people today recognize a reference to a song from the 60s.

The difference, of course, is that the 60s aren’t seen as The Past; the 60s are a Timeless Vault of Cultural Touchstones, the apotheosis of Western Civ. Sigh. Well. One of the future Diners will take place in the 60s – don’t ask why, it’ll be explained – and I will use many of the gutbustingly dreadful “psychedelic” records I have collected. It’s obvious from Note One that everyone involved in the effort had so much THC in their system you could dry-cure their phlegm and get a buzz off the resin, but instead of having the loose happy ho-di-hi-dee-ho cheer of a Cab Calloway reefer number, the songs are soaked with Art and Importance and Meaning. You can imagine the band members sitting down to hash out (sorry) the overarching themes of the album, how it should like start with Total Chaos man because those are the times in which we live with like war from the sky, okay, and then we’ll have flutes because flutes are peaceful like doves and my old lady can play that part because she like studied flute, man, in high school. The lyrics are all the same: AND THE KING OF QUEENS SAID TO THE EARTH THE HEIROPHANT SHALL NOW GIVE BIRTH / THE HOODED PRIESTS IN CHAMBERED LAIRS LEERED DOWN UPON THE LADIES FAIR / NEWWWW DAAAAY DAWNNNING!

Five years later it was obsolete. The Jeannie theme, however, will make toes tap in 2476 AD.

Screediness follows. Usual warnings apply; bail to the Quirk if disinclined, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

I read, with a heavy heart, this WaPo blog entry by William Arkin, who handles the paper’s “national and homeland security” beat.  (The distinction escapes me, at the moment.) The pith of the gist seems to be “shut up and bleed,” but I’ve only read it once, and subsequent study might yield additional nuance. Go read it.

This sticks out:

These soldiers should be grateful that the American public, which by all polls overwhelmingly disapproves of the Iraq war and the President's handling of it, do still offer their support to them, and their respect.

Through every Abu Ghraib and Haditha, through every rape and murder, the American public has indulged those in uniform, accepting that the incidents were the product of bad apples or even of some administration or command order.

They ought to be damn glad we don’t regard them all as man-stackers and baby stabbers, I guess. Every time they’re not spit upon in an airport, they ought to offer up a silent prayer.

Noted. Then comes this:

So, we pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society?

As for the obscene amenities, I recall putting together that package to send to the troops a month ago. Foot and hand warmers were requested. I realize now they were just stockpiling those things in case the fancy propane-fired boots run low, and the fur-lined Gucci gloves get swiped by the locals. Fine. I heard the other day that some bases have fast-food outlets. They have a Subway stand. And you can just walk to it. Me, I have to drive. And find a parking place. And they don’t give stamps anymore. I suspect the Subway stand in Iraq gives stamps. Right now I’d imagine there’s some guy who’s paid a decent wage whose family back home in a nice house with freshly painted cinder block walls is sitting in his bunk (with a blanket he got for free, no doubt) licking the stamps that bring him ever closer to a free six incher. With meatballs. And he has the nerve to have an opinion about other people’s opinions.

No, that’s not fair; he’s entitled to his opinion. But it’s another thing to express it. It’s almost as if the actual troops think they have some sort of absolute moral authority to have an opinion, and this gives them the right to express themselves without considering  the impact that might have on people who disagree. They do have a moral authority, but only when they’re killed, and it transfers immediately to the closest relative who disagreed with the mission.

Oh, and we need the Fairness Doctrine to restore balance to the AM radio band. Dissenting voices are being stifled.

Then comes this:

I can imagine some post-9/11 moment, when the American people say enough already with the wars against terrorism and those in the national security establishment feel these same frustrations. In my little parable, those in leadership positions shake their heads that the people don't get it, that they don't understand that the threat from terrorism, while difficult to defeat, demands commitment and sacrifice and is very real because it is so shadowy, that the very survival of the United States is at stake. Those Hoover's and Nixon's will use these kids in uniform as their soldiers. If I weren't the United States, I'd say the story end with a military coup where those in the know, and those with fire in their bellies, save the nation from the people.

This is the most singularly incomprehensible passage I have read from a mainstream media journalist in my entire life. And I’ve written a few that might win second place.  I don’t know where to begin. Hoover’s?

Hoover’s? I write for a second-tier regional daily, and if I woke tomorrow to find I’d posted that paragraph on a company blog I would open my veins in a warm bath.

The coup de gracelessness occurs in the next paragraph:

But it is the United States and instead this NBC report is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary - oops sorry, volunteer - force that thinks it is doing the dirty work.

Oops, indeed. That just slipped out. He temporarily forgot the patriotism that motivates many, and provides a definitional difference between mercs and volunteer soldiers,  but thank God he caught himself in time. As for that dirty work, it is best understood in terms of soiled linen, which wives are ALWAYS complaining about. We don’t do the laundry, we don’t do it right, we mix the bloody clothes with the silk shirts, et cetera:

The notion of dirty work is that, like laundry, it is something that has to be done but no one else wants to do it. But Iraq is not dirty work: it is not some necessary endeavor; the people just don't believe that anymore.
I'll accept that the soldiers, in order to soldier on, have to believe that they are manning the parapet, and that's where their frustrations come in. I'll accept as well that they are young and naïve and are frustrated with their own lack of progress and the never changing situation in Iraq. Cut off from society and constantly told that everyone supports them, no wonder the debate back home confuses them.

Dear lambs, confused by Robust Debate, thinking that the big package of letters from the elementary school back home means more than last Tuesday’s editorial in the Times. One last blurt of unpunctuated insight:

America needs to ponder what it is we really owe those in uniform. I don't believe America needs a draft though I imagine we'd be having a different discussion if we had one.

You have your orders from the Post’s muller-in-chief: commence pondering. Oh, and we’d be talking about something different if we had a draft, which we don’t, but somehow this all applies anyway. Did I mention Abu Ghraib? I did. Okay. Fine.

Fricken’ Hoover. Hate that guy. Don’t you?