Hell ain’t half full

May 25, 2020

Through a glass, darkly.

You can’t spell “Memorial Day” without “me.”

The other night we revisited one of the great plague movies, Terry Gilliam’s “12 Monkeys.” A line delivered by Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt) has long been a favorite observation around El Rancho Pendejo:

“There’s no right, there’s no wrong, there’s only popular opinion.”

How do I feel about something? What’s in it for me? If enough people think the way I do, it must be Truth, yeah?

So count me among the unsurprised when I see people packing Maryland’s Ocean City boardwalk, standing shoulder to shoulder in pools at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, or crowding around some tool tossing money from a car in Daytona Beach, Fla.

“Disney’s closed, Universal’s closed, everything’s closed. So where did everybody come? On the first warm day with 50 percent opening, everybody came to the beach,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood told CBS Miami.

It practically goes without saying that Il Douche spent the weekend tweeting like a fat orange budgie on Adderall and urging Americans to go to church while he air-mailed divots to Jesus from one of his own golf courses. Dude brings a whole new meaning to the term “a bad lie.”

What does surprise me is that no matter who is “in charge,” or whether the enemy du jour is a Saudi with a box cutter, a highly communicable disease, or some other threat most Americans have never seen, some of us continue volunteering for and serving in the armed forces, or signing up for less celebrated duty at emergency rooms, cop shops, nursing homes, fire departments, pharmacies, sewage treatment plants, grocery stores, appliance-repair shops, hardware stores, restaurants, and delivery services.

I’m guessing that a lot of these folks would rather the customers hadn’t spent the Memorial Day weekend playing Beach Booger Bingo with a few thousand of their closest friends.

But hey, what do I know? There’s no right, there’s no wrong. …

Holiday travel gets Bug-gered

May 23, 2020

We’re rocking out this holiday weekend.

The Bug® has put AAA’s Memorial Day travel forecast up on blocks.

It’s the first time in two decades that AAA hasn’t had a stab at guessing how many Americans might be traveling over the holiday weekend, according to PR manager Jim Stratton.

No worries, Jimbo. I haven’t been big on holiday travel since, well, forever.

If Tony Stark had been a cat, Iron Man might look something like this.

When I was still a newspaperman it was possible (and pleasurable) for a single fella to piss off for points unknown while the breeders were juggling work, school, and the juvenile justice system.

My shift was generally something like 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., with oddball days off like Tuesday and Wednesday, and I got spoiled by not having to deal with crowds whenever I wasn’t on the clock and wished to make a nuisance of myself without billing someone for it.

After mutating into a cycling scribe I often frequented Durango on Memorial Day weekend, getting my ass handed to me en route to Silverton, in the crit at Fort Lewis College, or on whichever stretch of hilly, rocky dirt Ed Zink was using for a mountain-bike course that year.

But holy hell, a long haul to an ass-whuppin’ loses its appeal faster than a kissing booth at the state fair in a plague year. So I decided that if I ever craved a beating I could sass the wife, save myself all that driving time and gas money.

We’ve had the ingredients for this bench lying around the rancheroo for the better part of quite some time.

This time around, as it happens, it is a plague year. So we kicked off the long weekend with a short road ride and some light landscaping.

Parts of the back yard were looking like that part of your neck you always miss with the razor because at age 66 you’ve taken to shaving in the dark to avoid panic attacks, myocardial infarctions, and suicidal impulses, and the whole concept of shaving at all has become meaningless since nobody gives a shit about that part of your neck because mostly they are not looking at it or any other part of you, unless they think you may have wandered away from a nursing home or insane asylum and are wondering whether there might be a cash reward for your return, dead or alive.

But I digress.

So we pulled weeds and dug up junk elms, laid down weed block and river rock, and bagged up unsightly piles of this, that, and the other. There will be more of this sort of thing as the holiday weekend progresses. Or so I am told, anyway.

If Herself posts any FaceButt pix of a new “flower bed” that’s 6 by 6 by 3, you’ll know I’ve given up shaving and yard work for good.

Charge!

May 22, 2020

This teensy little sumbitch got me back on four wheels after a few hours plugged into a wall socket (the four-wheeler, not me).

Almost forgot: Sue Baroo the Fearsome Furster is back on the road after a few hours hooked to the Schumacher SC1301 Fully Automatic Battery Charger.

So, yay, etc.

I must’ve triggered one of the 2,485,397 interior convenience lights somehow. When you only fire up the four-wheeler every couple of weeks this can pose a problem re: infernal combustion and the application thereof.

Happily, the SC1301 was on sale at O’Reilly, so with all the moneys I saved I added some jumper cables to the order.

Even so, I think I may start using bicycles and the Vespa for errands more often, because (a) I really don’t enjoy driving in Albuquerque all that much, and (2) I rarely venture far from home in this, the Year of the Plague. So why not make my outings more funner?

Seeking higher ground

May 21, 2020

Looking southward from a parking lot.

I headed for the hills yesterday.

Unlike our brethren and sisthren in Michigan I was not dodging floodwaters (our man Herb reports that he is high and dry). I just wanted to get out of the house and sit in the shade awhile, chatting amiably with the voices in my head.

La Cueva Picnic Site is a good spot for this sort of thing. It’s close to El Rancho Pendejo, and easily reached by bike, if you don’t mind that final mile. It rises about 367 vertical feet on beat-to-hell chipseal, so it’s not as challenging as the private road leading to our old place outside Weirdcliffe, which was a hair longer, a bit steeper (430-odd vertical feet), and unpaved.

One of the CCC-built stone structures at La Cueva.

But a fella wants a nice low gear if he’s to enjoy the grind, so I was aboard the canti’-equipped Soma Saga, stripped of racks and fenders. When it’s just a bicycle instead of an RV it slims down nicely, all the way to 27.8 pounds. And with a low end of 20.5 gear inches even a stove-up auld fella can do the deed.

Once you’re up there you have a fine view of the Greater Duke City Metropolitan Area. And when you get tired of that you can inspect some Civilian Conservation Corps projects from the Thirties.

Remember those fabulous Thirties? They’re making something of a comeback, only without the public works/resource protection bits.

Maybe it was that the gov’ has relaxed restrictions somewhat, or that the Memorial Day weekend was approaching, but there was almost nobody up there, which I consider ideal. There’s nothing wrong with other people that a certain degree of distance can’t resolve.

That leetle green stripe down there is the Rio.

Assault by battery

May 19, 2020

Guess which one starts?

Today was grocery day. I was armed with a rather extensive shopping list, my last trip having been a short one to the Wholeazon Amafoods to collect a few delicacies for our 30th anniversary dinner.

That list got edited more than somewhat when I slid behind the wheel of the Fearsome Furster, turned the key, and … bupkis.

Not a slow crank. Nary a whir, click, or grind. Fuck-all, is what. Dead silence.

The trusty Wald basket shifts easily from bike to scooter. I use toe straps to cinch it down.

Like the rest of us, ol’ Sue Baroo has been enjoying some extended downtime in the Year of the Plague. She gets out about every two weeks for a grocery run.

But our last voyage was just a week ago, so I can only assume I managed to trigger some pain-in-the-ass interior light that failed to catch my eye. The battery is fairly new. Newer than the car, anyway.

But plenty of things are. This beast dates back to the last dipshit fool we had in the White House.

“Well, hell,” sez I. “What else we got in this garage here?”

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s Bike Month. I should’ve manned up and turned one of the touring bikes into a grocery cart. It’s not as though we lack for racks and sacks around here.

But I took the easy way out. Pulled the Wald basket off the Soma Double Cross, strapped it to the rear rack on the Vespa, and putt-putted over to the Sprouts with a messenger bag slung over one shoulder.

The lack of cargo capacity means no buttermilk biscuits for breakfast. But we all have our crosses to bear, amirite?

Socially and vertically distancing

May 17, 2020

Herself burning up the road to the Sandia Peak Tramway
on her trusty Soma Double Cross.

Here we see Herself motoring up Tramway Road as some stove-up auld fella pauses to take a snap with his obsolete iPhone SE.

The auld fella, who was aboard a Soma Saga, may have been feeling the effects of a couple days’ worth of yardwork. But he’ll probably blame the ankle. Or Obama. Or the fake news.

‘Better weird than not at all’

May 16, 2020

I settled for a snap of the balloons because old guys taking snaps of children unrelated to them is mega-creepy.

One of the kids next door celebrated her sixth birthday yesterday.

There was a party of sorts in the cul-de-sac. Instead of hugs and kisses, she got social distancing and masks; in lieu of cake and the slicing thereof, we noshed on individual cupcakes in either chocolate or vanilla.

From the vantage point of someone who turned 6 in 1960, it seemed a strange way to mark the Great Leap Forward from kindergarten to first grade. Or it did until I recalled that when I reached this milestone Elvis was being discharged from the Army, a few thousand of his countrymen were heading off to Vietnam, and Francis Gary Powers was enjoying an unscheduled layover in the Soviet Union.

So, then, as now, there was lots of weirdness going on, and not just in your friendly neighborhood cul-de-sac, either.

“It may be weird, but better weird than not at all,” as a neighbor and I agreed.

A hummingbird had a bird’s-eye view of the party from her nest in a pine just off our driveway. According to Audubon New Mexico, the hummers lay two eggs a half inch long in nests the size of a walnut shell, and this one has done a fine job of camouflaging her tiny nursery. Herself and I saw the little nipper zip to the limb yesterday as we were leaving for a bike ride; I took a closer squint and spotted the nest.

It takes a bit of squinting to find this hummer guarding the kids.

The corral-based lifestyle

May 14, 2020

As long as we’re checking in with old compañeros, say howdy to my man Hal Walter.

Hal is Bug-bound up to Weirdcliffe, in Crusty County, Colo., where he’s helping his son finish his sophomore year in high school; trying to cobble together something approximating a living (he doesn’t call his blog “Hardscrabble Times” as a party gag); and pondering the cancellation of the marquee events on this year’s burro-racing calendar.

“You know, these are weird times,” he says in the video up top. “I’ve been in the sport of pack-burro racing for 40 years, and the idea that we wouldn’t … have a season is just unbelievable to me. The important thing, I think, is for us all to stay connected — stay connected to our animals, the earth, and the sky.”

Social distancing isn’t much of an adjustment for guys like Hal and me. We’ve been home-based scribes for hire since forever (some days it seems so, anyway). And we weren’t all that cuddly when we had reg’lar newspaper jobs. Ask anyone.

But The Bug® is out to bite us all in some tender place, no matter what we do or where we do it. The sumbitch got Hal and his burro-racing buddies right in the ass. So, like the rest of us, he’s just trying to keep himself plugged in and plugging along, putting one foot in front of the other.

You can download a free copy of Hal’s latest e-book, “American Flats,” at “Hardscrabble Times.”

LUG rides again!

May 14, 2020

Remember this guy? He’s gonna be on Zoom and ESPN.
And here I always thought he had a radio face, too.

This time around, the acronym stands for “Legislative Update Guy,” and the live updates will include a video component.

No, not old “Monty Python” clips. Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person.

My old Live Update Guy comrade Charles Pelkey and his fellow Wyoming state legislators will be participating in a special session via Zoom beginning Friday. And yes, we can watch. And without having to drop any of our DonnyDollars® into the Tip Jar!

Bonus! Winning! So. Much. Winning.

Charles rang me up last night to wish us a belated happy wedding anniversary and we spent a few minutes catching up. In addition to attending virtual special sessions of the leg’, he’s continuing to practice law, and while he’s not exactly burning up Wyoming’s roads on the old two-wheeler these days, he is finding time to do a bit of walking.

He’s also appearing in the latest HWSNBN documentary, “Lance,” as you can see from the screen grab above, which I liberated from the trailer.

Filmmaker Marina Zenovich has directed works on Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, and Roman Polanski. I don’t believe I’ve seen any of them, and I don’t believe I’ll be seeing this one either, having exactly zero interest in the latest version of Ol’ Whatsisface’s “truth.”

But it was cool to get a live update from an old pal.

Bingo!

May 13, 2020

“Learn Big Numbers as you Play.” Or not.

Thomas B. Edsall at The New York Times cranks out another keeper about the unholy combination of church and casino that is the Il Douche re-election campaign.

This dude alone is worth the price of a subscription to Mother Times. He throws a wide loop and brings ’em back alive.

A Democratic tech strategist describes the campaign website as a casino, “purposefully built to keep gamblers inside and at the table … trapping people inside an ecosystem of dangerous misinformation, conspiracy theories, and grievance politics. And it’s doing so while making the experience as fun and exciting as possible.”

In the nation’s “political churches,” meanwhile, a survey of hymn-singing white Protestants finds “clergy speech is driving up the religious significance” of Il Douche. In short, a strong plurality of respondents believe this gibbering gobshite was anointed by the Lord to be our Leader.

While elite “right wing media are having a profound effect on public opinion, serving to insulate Trump supporters,” the authors write, the process is also “built and sustained from the bottom up. That is, political churches, among Republicans especially, reinforce the argumentation that is also coming from above.”

I consider this another solid argument for taxing churches. Uncle Sugar gets a cut of what I earn for preaching my gospel. You want to play too, padre? Ante up, sucker, the pot’s light again.