You can teach old dogs new tricks. Jasper has learned that when I sit on the marble slab atop the radiator by the front window, it means that Natalie is coming home soon. I sit there and plink away on my iPad until she comes in the back door. It’s warm. It’s cozy. The house is quiet, except for the sound of the ticking clock I got on my 10th anniversary of MCing the Minnesota Youth Symphonies. He gets up, whines, goes to the door, whines some more. Years ago he jumped up on the slab without effort, and watched the doings of his domain, but no more.

I can feel the rumble of the bus when it comes down the street, hear the hussshhhh of its brakes. A minute later I turn around and watch her trudging up the street, and I always wonder what she’s thinking. Empty street, bare trees, snowy lawn, a kid with her hands in her pockets walking up the hill, unaware she’s observed from above. Looking forward to some hot chocolate, maybe. Wishing it was Thursday. Remember this, you think, just for its wonderful ordinariness. Eleven is getting close to the time when you weld your memories to your sense of self, a defect in the human brain that makes a parent weep with frustration sometimes. There’s room in the head for more, isn’t there? What cold evolutionary calculation decided that the first ten years don’t deserve a full remembrance?

Which is why I take out the camera sometimes, and film something as simple as her trip home from the bus stop.

Sometimes you think the smallest things matter most, because the smallest things are forgotten first.

Anyway: door opens. “I’M HOME.” And the dog trots over and says hello, and everything is normal and ordinary. How was school? School was fine. What did you learn? Stuff. What did you do? Things. She feeds the dog - it’s early, but he’s old, and we now give him supper at the equivalent of the time Denny’s drops the prices on the Senior Super Specials. His long day of waiting is over, and delights await - scraps, a Frosty Paws treat, a walk - so he’s perky and ambulatory, studying our faces with his cloudy eyes for hints and signals. She makes some tea. I head upstairs for a quick nap, and when I awake I realize I’ve been dreaming about trying to get my daughter to the airport to take a trip - we’re late, she’s not packed, we don’t have boarding passes, she’s going to miss her flight -

I’ve had that dream every day for two weeks.


I get a lot of cruise mailings. Today’s was the best. “IMMERSE YOURSELF IN A TRULY EUROPEAN EXPERIENCE,” it said. It’s for the Costa Concordia.

Seriously. ‘When you choose Costa, you don’t just see Europe - you live it.” If by “live” you mean the opposite, I guess. “You can meet dedicated staff with distinctly Continental perspectives . . . Barriers can dissolve in the high jinks of theme nights on board. You’ll visit picturesque harbors and ancient ruins.”

And make new ones!

Forty-three degrees on Tuesday; amazing. Global warmin’! hyuk hyuk. (I am so tired of hearing that used sarcastically. By anyone. In any context. What do you expect me to do - get a sly grin, and say “why, my good fellow, you’ve certainly punctured the assertions of some climatologists by implying that this anomalous weather is a result of anthropogenic climate alteration. Well played!) Usually at this time of the year we are weeping from the piercing cold, looking at February as another movement in the Symphony of Winter - albeit a scherzo - and thinking about warm escapes. Not this year. If you’re miserable, you have other reasons.


What it is like to be a font enthusiast: you see this in the office lobby and think . . .



. . . that can’t be. Is it? Did someone make an entire font based on Rankin / Bass credits? Research says no. So you get out your phone, take a picture, send it to WhatTheFont, and learn that it’s “Sniplash,” a font “inspired by cartoons of the 60s and 70s.” So it’s Rankinesque, not Rankin in origin.

Well, that was five minutes well spent.


Cleaning up some old stuff that ever turned into full-fledged sites: more sad penpals from the late 1940s, answering the question of what people diddid before they could talk to strangers on internet message boards. First on the list: whee!



Just so you don’t miss the point: gardening and fishing. So don't go getting huffy when I haven't time to do some damn fool thing you want to do, because I told you, woman. Gardening and fishin. I’ve no idea what a G-footer is, but if you can retire at 45, it can’t be all that bad. Unless you’re a man reading Thrilling Love. Really? There’s detective mags, westerns, science fiction mags, and you read Thrilling Love?

This one seems like a typical girl-shy loser looking for candids, until you get to the end . . .


. . . and then he’s an American archetype, square-jawed and silent and rugged, riding the rails, eyes fixed on the horizon, riding the great metal steed.

Joe needs to step up his game:



No one likes a pleader, Joe. Shirl is likewise a bit underwhelming.



Can you honestly think of anything more boring than exchanging letters about hobbies like writing letters?

One more thing about “Lady in Cement,” that unremarkable movie I mentioned yesterday. It had some inadvertent documentary - a car chase drove past a commercial strip in Miami.





That’s Pumpernik’s, which I remembered from this postcard. But it looks nothing like the postcard. Googling around yielded another restaurant at 12599 Biscayne Boulevard; probably that one.

Bizzare mascot. Mr. Burn-unit Bagel, perhaps.





TODAY: some marvellous wartime music, with a peculiar plot and a negligee catfight. It's HERE.

Finally, today: the penultimate hint:



Answer tomorrow! See you around.










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