The mail is mostly useless. The clank of the mailbox lid is the ringing phone from a spam caller, the ping of an email from a newsletter I never subscribed to. Catalogues and begging letters. I check the mailbox every third day or so. There was a small card from the Post Office, telling me I had a parcel. I knew what it was.



Sure enough, the package was the Christmas present. I knew it when I saw the slip in the mailbox telling me I had a parcel to be picked up at the post office. A battered box was set on the counter, and I had to sign for it.

It’s seen some travel. According to the USPS website, it spent one day in Brazil, and then was sent to South Korea. Why? I’ve no idea. Why did it take two months to come home? No idea. No one knew. It was marked “Undeliverable,” which was BS; I copied the address from the host family’s own documents. It’s entirely likely that the Brazilian postal authorities, and I use the term with a snort of derision, looked at the box and figured there was nothing of value worth taking, but some odd sense of duty said they should send it back instead of throwing it away. That would be a violation of their sacred duty as Postal Officials. Why it went to the Korean Peninsula, well, I could fly down there and find the post office and ask them what the devil they were thinking.

Eh, the next international flight out was to Seoul. It hitched a ride.

Or they had the drug-sniffing dogs examine it, and having determined there were no drugs they could steal and sell, they sent it off on its merry journey.

I took a picture of the box and sent it to Daughter, 5400 miles away.


It’s your Christmas present.


Weed, Minion ornament, wild rice



The Minion ornament was a callback to a post-Valentine’s Day picture I sent her: a candy bracelet with an edible medallion featuring a Minion. I sent it with the note Happy Belated Valentine’s Day.

You have ruined my entire day she wrote.

I said Mom got it at work, and she should be glad, because Mom would never turn into a Minion-meme Facebook poster.


Later I explained to my wife that I had told our daughter who was 5400 miles away that she should be relieved that her mother would never be a minion-meme poster, and as you might expect this required some explanation. She had no idea that Minions were the preferred mode of memeage for the middle-aged demo that made Facebook uncool for the subsequent generation.

Nor, might I add, did she care. She has a grown-up life and the ebb and flow and surge and fade of internet culture is a distant roar outside the window of a well-insulated office building.

Later I was making dinner. Talking to Wife about the day. Ping!

What is the word that starts with P

I thought, instantly: panoply

That means many, an array

Panoply? Pallisade?

Panoply was it. Phone went silent. Wife asks: was that Natalie?

Yes, she wanted to know about a word that started with P.

We’re not supposed to intrude on the Rotary Experience, you know, but she started it. Evening plans? I asked. She said she was watching TV with the host family and jotting down ideas for her note in the Notes app. She sent a paragraph, which was good, and I suggested a word substitution, which she liked.

It’s a typical Friday night and we are having pizza, I said, harking back to the blessed tradition. It was always pizza on Friday night. After piano, we’d pick it up from Davanni’s. At the old place, before they tore it down, there were pictures of silent movie stars on the wall, and I would tell her about them. There was a video game she loved to play. Then the strip mall was torn down and replaced with another strip mall; Davanni’s moved to an old restaurant that used to be a Big Boy. The manager was a reader of my column and always said nice things to Gnat, who bore it well. Then she grew up and went away.

IS IT FROZEN she said, from Brazil.

I cooked it in the oven, I said, in Minnesota.


That was the end of it, but that was enough to make the weekend just fine.



Just because Clippings replaced the Serial feature doesn't mean you're getting off easy. Oh no, my friends. Not at all.

Again, I start this with trepidation. What if this isn’t a serial?

What’s the damned point of these things if there isn’t a cliffhanger? Did they decide it would be easier to sell them to TV if they were stand-alone eps?

So there’s no recap. We go right to the action - a missile is headed for Earth!


Lucky for Earth, we have an early-warning system:

(Sorry, no sound, for reasons.)

It lands:

Hope it had an airbag. He meets The Leader; he’s an agent of The Ruler, who is intending “interplanetary conquest of this system.” Okay. See, they can’t blast through Cody’s Radioactive Defenses, so the agent brought some Finestrum, a special element much like Uranium but very powerful. However, the agents of the Ruler don’t have a lab, because the Ruler apparently is funding this whole take-over-the-solar-system thing on the cheap, so what do they do?

SO OF COURSE they forge credentials so they can work with Commando Cody and use his labs. The entire invasion and subjegation of Earth depends on whether two or three guys can come up with a credible fake ID. It's like betting D-Day on whether or not a 16-year-old could buy beer at a Berlin liquor store.

Cody decides to do some patrolling in space to check out where that UFO came from, but first he decides “to put Dr. Varney’s element in our Atomic Pile.” Sure, just toss it in, what the hell, what’s the worst thing that could happen.

Cody then drives the agents of The Ruler to his secret rocket base. Everyone in the old office chairs:

Hats-on space travel!

The new element works fine, although there’s a problem with the atomic pile Cody solves by hand, flooding the compartment with presumably deadly radiation, but what the hell, what’s the worst thing that could happen.

Turns out the Ruler has sent his agents to steal Cody’s rocket ship, because it’s superior to his. Dude is way out of his league.

The agents of the Ruler take William Schallert and the Gal Scientist at gunpoint, because they’re totally done with this infiltration business, and they hijack the rocket. Smart move: kill Commando Cody, and get him out of the way, since he has a flying suit and could possibly fly up to the rocket ship. But nah.

So he catches up to the ship, sneaks inside . . and they knock him out.

Adventures in spaceships in outer space! Or a guy wearing a hat sitting on a swivel chair in an office, your call:

Well, they have problems with atomic pile again, so they send out Vody, their arch enemy, to fix the problem so they can steal his ship.


Get this, he sabotages the ship! The Agents have no choice but to surrender their weapons, after which he’ll fix the ship. They head back to earth, but of course there’s a last-minute fist-fight.

The ship is out of control! That’s the cliffhanger!

What the hell

Well, I’m committed. Aren’t I?

How about if I pretend it’s a serial, and start chopping them up in odd ways? These things are half an hour long, too. Man.

A meh start to the Bleat Week, no doubt. Let's see if we can do better tomorrow. See you around.

Note: mood is full-strength February. Not a good sign.



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