Sorry for taking the day off. I was tired. Although I probably should come up with a better excuse; who isn’t tired in January? How about: I was in mourning for Gerald Ford, and it just seemed wrong to fritter time away blogging.
But really, I was tired. Our friends John and Sam came by on their way back home to Atlanta — they’ve been in Michigan most of the last three months (sick parents), but we haven’t seen each other. It seemed time to take the night off, go spend some money on beef tenderloin and open a few bottles of wine. (Although I will say: You can spend all you want on beef tenderloin, but you know what’s a bigger hit? Picking up a couple dozen tamales in Mexicantown for microwavable breakfasts. My kitchen still smells like salsa.)
So, anyway: Tired, but now rested. Back in the proverbial saddle. But I need to hustle. A freelancer’s income depends on multiple income streams, and all the streams are trickles at the moment. There are a few checks expected in the next few weeks, but it’s time for QueryFest 07. Oh, well — what else is January for?
Of course, thanks to the newspaper business, the ranks of potential freelancers swells seemingly hourly. It’s a jungle out there. In the sturm und drang of my last days in Fort Wayne, I talked regularly with a friend who works as a newspaper journalist in another city. His advice: “Don’t get bitter.” Exchanged e-mail with him yesterday, and learned his wife didn’t escape the reaper’s blade in Philadelphia this week. Guess what? He’s bitter.
Ah, but enough of that. This new year more than any in recent memory, I’m sensing a vibe of Big Change in the air. I know now that big change is as likely to be cancer or terrorist attacks as a new pony under the Christmas tree, but I’m choosing to be optimistic. You really do never know, and that’s why we get up every morning: To know.
Actually, yesterday I got up for another reason — I had to be Cocoa Mom at Kate’s school, to make warm chocolate sustenance for the incoming crossing guards, who are inordinately exposed to the elements as part of their duties. This being the Winter That Wasn’t, it was a borderline day; you’re excused from duty if the temperature is above 45 degrees. It was a couple below that, so I came in and stirred up a couple pots of Swiss Miss. Most of the takers were boys, who then sat down around a table in the small kitchen area to drink. I turned around, and caught them in a brief moment when their poses were not that of little boys, but of old men talking over coffee in all the places that old men do that — a casual slump, one hand wrapped around the cup, staring into the middle distance, dreaming of whatever. One boy wore, with no apparent sense of irony, a Sinatra-style fedora, which is probably why my mind made the connection. I just stood there for a minute, looking at the old men they will become (if they’re lucky enough to live that long), enjoying this moment of time travel before the bell rang. A little gift from the cosmos.
And now a little gift of bloggage:
When conservatives get high, they get high with a doctor’s prescription: William Rehnquist, addict. A fascinating story, really, which would have been an interesting cautionary tale, had its central figure chosen to tell it before he died. It seems the man in the striped judicial robes fell victim to a classic trope of the age: If it comes from a doctor, it’s not a drug, it’s medicine. Only the medicine was Placidyl, a “sleep aid” that could knock out an elephant, and the judge was taking three times the prescribed dose. Withdrawal made him a raving loon, and he tried to escape the hospital in his jammies.
Why laid-off newspaper journalists get bitter: “There has not been an occasion for many months when I got on our plane without wondering whether it was really affordable. But I’m not prepared to reenact the French Revolutionary renunciation of the rights of the nobility.” An inside look at the looting of the Chicago Sun-Times. Don’t read if you’re on blood-pressure medication.
One dark cloud on our visit with our friends came when they were preparing to leave early yesterday morning, and John checked his e-mail one last time, only to learn of the death of a college friend, Steve Korte. John writes a nice remembrance, but I’m linking separately to a little treat within for you Columbus natives: Steve’s recreation of “Wake Up, Mr. Tree,” beloved by all Columbus kids who watched “Luci’s Toyshop,” which is to say, all Columbus kids.
I’ve loved Djimon Hounsou since I saw his staggeringly fine ass in “Gladiator,” and resented the preachy movies of Edward Zwick since I saw “Glory” for the second time. Joe Queenan has his own problems with the Zwickian genre, perhaps best described as Whitey Saves the Black Folk. The usual Queenanesque evisceration.
Now I gotta go make dog biscuits. Why? Because I care, that’s why.