I went to the hardware store to get some ethanol-free 4-stroke fuel. I've no idea how much it will take to mow Jasperwood, but we'll find out tomorrow. I'm starting to regard this job as the modern equivalent of Hannibal getting the elephants over the Alps.

I saw this by the checkout:

ID Guard that rolls POLICE over your confidential information. Okay, if that's what you need. But it's a 2-in-1 device. It doesn't just obscure your inforamtion, it opens boxes!

Dang, I can't rip open the Amazon box. Where's my ID Obscurer?

I suppose it makes sense, because my X-acto knife also has a reservoir of ink and a sponge.

It's Mother's Day on Sunday. Don't forget:

Never fails, the old Sampler. You can imagine it, can't you? The stiff top, the overhang of the lid, the way it seizes up when you try to take the lid off, the strange crinkly thick paper over the chocolates.

So that's good for Moms of all ages. But what if she's old? Like 58?


All women turn instantly into matrons with a grey bun when they hit mid 50s.

This is a lot of money for the mid 20s. And what do you get? A watch? No, a cameo.

According to the copy, your payment sistem is confidential, so your neighbors won't know that you couldn't lay out a double sawbuck all at once.


When I was thinking about Mother's Day, I remembered something, or rather something I've conveniently forgotten. I have no idea why my mother slapped me, but I know this: I deserved it.

It’s an odd thing to bring up on Mother’s Day, but hear me out. This is always a day of flowers and Hallmarky sentiments, cards with bland assertions that may or may not apply entirely. Or words that gild the thorns.

You’ve always been there for me. Well, maybe she wasn’t, once, in the way you wanted. You wanted complete approval and indifference to the consequences; you wanted her to blithely co-sign your adolescent idiocy, and she wasn’t there for that.

You always had a smile when I felt bad

Yes, except when I shredded a kneecap doing something stupid like trying to ride my new gold Schwinn side-saddle and got curb-rash when the wheels caught in the sewer grate and flung into the concrete, a smile didn’t keep the gangrene away. She applied the dreaded mercurochrome, a red tincture that seemed to burn through skin and muscle down to the bone. You would have preferred a pat on the head, a Band-Aid, and a Creamsicle, but no, we had to forestall infection and possible amputation.

There’s no card that says “when I was raw and bleeding, you seemed to make it worse / by painting my abraded skin with the brusqueness of a nurse.”

Some of the cards will have a line that alludes to a passing gust of disagreement, and the grown-up kid can sign off on the sentiments without recalling the particulars. Ha ha, guess I was a handful for a while! Well, water under the bridge.

Except being a parent is to be always standing on the bridge, watching the water flow.

Oh, the slap. It was awful. There you were, the large version of the child she had raised and tended and taught and fed and loved, and you’d said the most horrible thing. Clever and cruel, perhaps. It’s just too much, after all these years.

It wasn’t a hard slap. I am absolutely certain I earned it. My mother was a kind, loving woman who gave absolutely everything for her family, and if I brought her to that, I must have said something monstrous.

I don’t believe in corporal punishment. It’s either full of boiling wrath or terrifying precision, and both are traumatic for a child. There’s maybe one situation in 15,204,206,038 where it’s okay to slap your mouthy teen boy, but for my Mom to do this was like hearing that Ghandi had kicked someone in the shins. You’d wonder what the guy did to earn it.

She’s been gone a long time. I think of her at odd times, unexpected times - I hear a song she loved, remember a movie we saw, recall a dessert she served, catch a whiff of the Aqua Net that preceded the parental anniversary dinner at the supper club. Every day I see her in a photo on the shelf: a young woman petting the farm dog, her beau away at war. Now and then I recall the moment after the wake when I stepped outside in the chill Fargo air, and felt her presence arrive, and linger, and depart. It was an astonishing sensation of love and farewell.

Every day we’re alive is Mother’s Day, really.






We were driving along a city street, and stopped to ask a fellow if he needed help with his truck. He was working on the tailgate. He said no, and became somewhat cantankerous about the need for help, and produced a shotgun and aimed it at the ground as if to fire a warning shot. Nearby was a news crew filming some news story; the camera man put down his camera and produced an automatic rifle and shot the man, then aimed it at us. We sped off, bullets whizzing all around.

Turns out he was a prolific killer awaiting his opportunity to start. The next portion of the story took place in comic book form, almost, as the survivors of an attack pulled their vehicle through a cavernous warehouse, unaware he was above, aiming, ready to fire. At this point I grew annoyed with the obvious nature of the dream and was ready to give it up; I probably woke. But upon returning to sleep I was driving around, passing a mass casualty event, knowing out was his work. All the victims were dressed in white. Flash / jump cut I’m confronting the madman, standing on the stairs, flaming hair standing out, terrible grin, arms behind him. He looked like Freazazoid.

I jumped up, grabbed a pipe on the ceiling, swung out and smashed my feet into his face as hard as possible. He was handcuffed, so he was rather vulnerable. A dozen other cops showed up, one thanked me, and they all beat him to death with careful vigor.

And now, a related feature that will provide some Friday amusements:

For some reason I can't quite remember now, I was prompting for upset newsrooms.

I like the two guys on the bottom - the fear and despair on one man's face, the stern, intent concentration of the other. That's who you want guiding the ship in its difficult hours.

The AI always thinks that newspaper offices are carpeted with previous editions.

It is, as usual, a bad dream of a newspaper drama.

It looks like the end of a trial that results in these guy's execution. I guess they're not unionized yet.

None of these are indicative of the book I'm working on, BTW.


I guess this was still new information?

Your answer is here.


And that's it for Fridays! Ha ha kidding, of course it's not.

Last year I cut out the tunes, but heck, why not bring them back. We'll be counting down the bottom 50 songs as listed by Whitburn. It'll be fun! Stuff you've never heard. A grab-bag of styles.

B. B. King: Help the Poor.

Sid Feller was Ray Charles' arranger, so he's responsible for the Sha-la-las, and perhaps the absence of a guitar solo.

Now we're done. Off to the Orphange, a legacy site from the earliest days of lileks.com, resized and cleaned up a bit.

Thank you for your visits this week, and your kind words. Onward! Excelsior! Face forward, frantic ones! And a no-prize for the first to say who I'm quoting.