I'm sorry, everybody, I can't do the column this week. I'm just too bummed. All the available topics are too depressing. I went through the whole list and not one didn't make me want to jump off the house.

New strawberries that are like eating cotton bolls.

Dog and Beth Chapman with their respective blouses open to the waist and tufts and gobs and blinglets of God knows what hanging out and hanging down.

Civil War reenactments — painting glory on old folly.

All the young people being bored. Trying to lose weight. Trying to remember what it was like. Toenails determined to remake themselves into talons. "Whatever." "It is what it is."

Ivy ascending the south wall, its progress the backward measure of my own. Expiration dates passing almost before you can get the stuff home and pantried.

Bedbugs in goosestep like newsreel Heinies. Should make me feel like Leiningen vs. the Ants, but it's Munch's screamer instead. Crossing the bridge when you come to it. The same feeling as with America's Funniest Home Videos, with the one connecting thread or theme: Somebody gets hurt in an unusual way, and everybody laughs. Why?

It's depressing in several respects to read of someone with his or her tongue planted firmly in his or her cheek. And the other chestnuts and weary parts and figures. Remembering what the 20th century had that the 21st doesn't; momentum as opposed to entropy.

Whoa Nelly at Riverfest , his titles and lyrics oozing with niggaz and pimp juice and holy excrement and f-bursts like a fireworks show. Old hat for our reviewer but a hill to climb if you're not hip to only-yesterday's stylizing of grunts.

Son of The Hangover said to be more clone than sequel so no point in looking there.

All factors contributing to this column-killer funk. It's not going to lift anytime soon, I can tell, so I'm of a mind to take off and go fishing. I'd rather go with Ophie but she's tubbed her last perch, so it looks like I'm obliged to seine the sewer pond for some live bait, borrow a boat, and go on alone.

Except I just remembered that going fishing has got even more depressing than not going fishing. What was I thinking? Success would amount only to bringing home a stink. Have to hire somebody to clean the bastards. And then somebody else to eat them, if the preacher refused, and after him the hogs.

Youngsters and the used-up may get something out of it still, and honest trailer necks who believe you get more meat for the money in the bar-pit than the buffet line, but otherwise increasingly fishing becomes a ritual of despair, meant to lull the reaper, like Macomber's safari, or like casino or racetrack gambling, where squandering your dwindling resources becomes a depressing metaphor for squandering your remaining time.

Nature itself ratchets up the depression this time of year — skunks, snakes, tornadoes. Approaching perigee of the summer dog. Your poached deer all have madstones, even worser omens than aces and eights.

Or I could cut some brush, as George W. Bush has been doing for three solid years now, without a single day off to decide decisions. Sucker's cleared the greasewood out of three Texas counties by his lonesome, they say.

He was in Little Rock last week promoting golf for kids. Golf is extry depressing, as you know. Golf coverage even moreso. How they moon over Tiger and Lefty. With endless reminiscences about how they were pretty fair country ball-strikers themselves back about 75 years ago.

So Lonesome George was here promoting golf for kids, and here's something he said: "Certain values are timeless and true, and the golf course is a good place to learn those values."

GWB on values timeless and true!

Golf-course values such as awarding yourself gimmes and mulligans and overs. Invoking "winter rules." Pulling out the foot wedge early and often. Swindling feebs with bogus scats. Gaining precious green inches cheating on a spot.

Just about all the hard-core vices I've ever viced I picked up at old Rebsamen, Burns Park, Riverdale, Hindman.

So fishing's out, golf's out, no slingblading brush, no movie relief, camp meeting, bender, gruntalongs on the pod, and I guess I won't follow up on my idea of inviting Lonesome George up for a patio derby racing de-winged flies. It would've required him to de-wing, train, and van his own fly up 30. But I lost interest in the proposal, afraid he and the fly would spurn the invite, maybe more afraid they wouldn't.

So no column this week — apologies again — or until this stupid muse gets a little bit unfunked. One of them revoltin' developments Jimmy Durante used to talk about. Sorry about that, Chief — spoken into the shoe.

This too shall pass, I must remember.

Maybe by next week.

Watch this space.


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