Roast, beast

October 16, 2021

The uniform of the day will include pants.

Nice to see devolution picking up the pace.

As literature loses ground to memes and emoji we’re inching back into nomadic life, killing each other with knives and bows.

Well done indeed. Can’t be much longer before we’re all living in caves, pulling the rope ladder up come evening and dropping rocks on the neighbors’ heads if they pop round to borrow a cup of fire.

Speaking of fire, our journey to the Dark Side is complete. Both furnaces snapped on this morning. Happily, I’d already plugged the sprinkler system into the wall to keep it from exploding like a baked potato in a microwave or we might have a skating pond in the back yard.

Our ovens are baked.

The joys of home ownership. Lately they include the decline and fall of our wall-mounted Whirlpool ovens, which date to 1990, if I read the serial-number code correctly.

The top unit has a bum element and runs 50° below proper temperature, while the bottom can be as much as 20° off the mark. The thermostat may have gone to its reward, too. And of course parts are hard to come by for ovens with this much white hair in their ears.

I suppose we could always roast a haunch of whatever in the fireplace. But in the meantime we’re going to roll the dice, replace the element, see if that’s all it takes to get off the bench and back in the game.

If not, well, then we’ll start shopping, see what the 21st century has to help a fella melt the cheese on his enchiladas. But a quick peek at the Lowe’s and Best Buy websites made my wallet pocket slam shut faster than a banker’s door on a homeless dude hunting a loan for the used van of his dreams and a river to park it by.

A cave and a rope ladder might be cheaper.

Piss on the dogs and call in the fire

October 14, 2021

Space: the final frontier. (Some restrictions apply.)

What’s that ominous rumble? O buggah — it’s the Trane XR80 roaring to hideous life astride the cooling carcass of summer.

Mid-October is a wee bit early for this sort of thing. But these are strange times, and getting stranger by the minute.

Captain Kirk rode one of Jeffy Bozos’ dick-missiles to the edge of space yesterday and returned to tell us all how glorious it is to be a wealthy white man with friends in high places. A first-class ticket for Aer Dingus is just one more thing you can’t afford, suckers. Now get back to work.

“Live long and prosper,” murmur the Vulcans. But they’re being ironic, as usual.

Either that or they’re talking to the Vogons, whose Constructor Fleet should be popping round to start work on that hyperspatial express route any day now.

Resistance is useless!

R.I.P., Paddy Moloney

October 13, 2021

Paddy Moloney, frontman and piper for the Chieftains, has gone west. He was 83.

Reports Mother Times, quoting Himself in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Our music is centuries old, but it is very much a living thing. We don’t use any flashing lights or smoke bombs or acrobats falling off the stage. We try to communicate a party feeling, and that’s something that everybody understands.”

I’m grieved to learn that Paddy has left the party to which he brought so much feeling. In his honor let us banish misfortune.

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!

October 12, 2021

A big ol’ storm gives us a love-tap en route to punching someone else out.

O, ’tis of a class of a wind out there this morning would peel the decals off your down tube.

Yesterday was the first truly chilly ride of this fall. With our weather widget spitting out a wealth of contradictory data I dithered for a while — “What will the style-conscious velo-fellow be wearing this season?” — before finally settling on tuque, short-sleeve jersey over long-sleeve jersey (augmented by arm warmers), long-fingered gloves, bib shorts, some lightweight tights, and wool socks.

Naturally, I was overdressed.

Bell lap.

The arm warmers came off first, followed by the tuque. Knee warmers would have been just the thing — tights were overkill — but the wool socks were spot on.

Still, fashion failures aside, the thing is to get out the fuggin’ door, amirite? Don’t just sit there at the desk, letting the stink-tide of the Innertubes wash over you like a sewer backup, glancing out the window now and again to see if summer plans an encore. Get out there and take your beating.

That being said, I am not a fan of cycling in the wind. I’ve been blown off highway shoulders and rock gardens, spun around like a weathervane while running a cyclocross course, and shot-peened smoother than a baby’s butt while grinding squint-eyed into various gales.

But as you know, I will never be smart, so I went right back out in it again today. Kerchief, long-sleeve jersey over sleeveless undershirt, long-fingered gloves, knickers, and cotton socks.

Naturally, I was underdressed.

The wind gave me a welcome assist on the climbs, but when the rain auditioned for a part in my little passion play I said to hell with it and turned around. All the world’s a stage, but we needn’t be overly dramatic.

Book ’em

October 10, 2021

Due in December from Copper Canyon Press.

Good news for the readers in the audience.

First, the fall issue of Alta Journal includes a special section featuring seven of the last poems by Jim Harrison. A complete collection of his poetry is slated for release in December by Copper Canyon Press.

Second, Denver’s Tattered Cover bookstore will be opening a new location in downtown Bibleburg. The story doesn’t mention that it will be about a block from where the fabled Chinook Bookshop once sat. It was B-burg’s Tattered Cover Back in the Day®.

Zeezo’s they remember, but not Chinook. So much for institutional memory.

Sea Notter

October 9, 2021

We have a sea, but it’s grass. No otters in sight.

I’m not at Sea Otter. Can you tell from the pic?

Being parked at home and mildly bored, I’ve been awarding various neglected bikes some outside time. The DBR Prevail TT, Soma Double Cross, Voodoo Nakisi, and Jones all have been granted furloughs from their hooks this month, while the New Albion Privateer takes a well-deserved break.

Today’s clouds: Not that ominous.

On Thursday I was riding the Nakisi, and not well. The trails are deep sand in some spots and gullied in others, the 700×43 Bruce Gordons were probably pumped up a tad too hard, and my mad skillz — well, the less said about them the better. I was dabbing everywhere.

So yesterday I took the Jones out for a spin on the same trails, and it was mucho bettero, as we say south of the border. Still rolling a wee bit overinflated, but since the tires were big ol’ 29×2.4 muthas at least I wasn’t embarrassing myself. Not much, anyway.

And there’s still quite an audience out there enjoying this fine fall weather instead of putting nose to grindstone for The Man. Hikers, joggers, dog-walkers, and cyclists, most of the latter astride your consarned dadblasted newfangled whizbangs with the 1x drivetrains, boingy bits front and rear, hydraulic discs, dropper posts, and what have you.

Cain’t even fit a proper water bottle in there anywheres. Gotta wear a backpack with a sack in it, suck on a hose like a deadbeat siphoning gas from a workin’ feller’s car.

Speaking of the ol’ suckee-suckee, the WaPo warns that fall might be turning a tad winterish for some of yis. Get the chimbley swept and keep your snow shovel and long johns where you can find ’em in the dark. Don’t want to be caught with your drawers down and your arse in the wind when Thor starts swinging his hammer.

Cheap dates

October 6, 2021

If you had seen this sky yesterday, your first thought would not have been, “Bet it’s gonna rain tomorrow.”

I was lazing in the bed this morning, contemplating the day ahead.

“Maybe I’ll ride the Jones down south, check out the trails below Menaul,” I mused. “Or I could take the New Albion Privateer out east past Tijeras. Haven’t ridden the Voodoo Nakisi in a while — I wonder how crowded it’ll be around Elena Gallegos.”

Then, I stretched, got up, and headed for the reading room, where I heard the pitter-patter of … raindrops on the skylight?

Raindrops? Who ordered the raindrops?

Well. Shit. What a delightful gift. Maybe the skeeters will all catch pneumonia, or drown. Sonsabitches made an amuse-bouche of my ankles last evening as I chatted with a neighbor. Go bite a Republican, you disease-spreading bloodsuckers. Wouldn’t you be happier dining on your own kind?

No, not you, neighbor. The skeeters.

In other news, friend and colleague Nick Legan blazed through town on Monday. He was motoring down from Colorado to oversee a video shoot for Shimano, and hollered at me from the road, so we had him over to the rancheroo for some medium-heavy refreshments before he had to get down to business supervising the artistes.

Afterward Nick asked for a tour of the garage, where he complimented me on The Fleet, observing cannily that clearly I favored the “affordable bike.” Which is true.

The Soma Double Cross, back to its dirty roots.

It’s possible to spend a great deal of money on bicycles, or even a bicycle, or at least look as though you have (cough, cough, bro’ deal, cough). But it’s not necessary. So there’s a lot of old steel in my armory, where modernity has to make do with representation by nine-speed Ultegra STI.

Lately I’ve been riding bikes from Merry Sales — either a Soma Saga (now discontinued) or the New Albion Privateer — and if I had to drastically thin my herd these two would probably make the cut.

For sure the Privateer would. It’s a versatile, affordable, eye-catching beastie and up for just about anything, from cross-town to cross-country.

All told we have five Merry Sales machines in The Fleet — two Soma Sagas, two Soma Double Crosses, and the New Albion Privateer. It all started with me buying a Double Cross for Herself. I was so impressed that I bought another for myself. Over the years it’s been a cyclocross bike, a light-touring bike, and a townie-slash-grocery bike.

It’s been the latter for a while now, and I found I was rarely riding it, in part because I’ve been making fewer and heavier grocery trips during the Plague Years, and in part because I never really warmed up to that configuration (swept-back bar, bolt-upright position, flat pedals).

So the other day I turned it back into a cyclocross bike, kinda-sorta, with eight-speed Shimano bar-end shifters, a vintage XT FC-M730 triple and newer XT/Ultegra derailleurs, PD-M540 SPDs, battered Shimano 600 brake levers and IRD Cafam cantis, 700×42 Soma Cazadero tires, Deda Elementi 215 handlebar, and a Ritchey WCS stem that’s just a hair too long and too low.

I even resurrected a beat-to-shit Selle Italia Flite saddle and some Off the Front handlebar tape for the project. Remember Off the Front? Bruce and Jodie Ruana? Started out cutting up shower curtains in SoCal, then set up a small home factory in Nevada, and finally fled the bike biz altogether for straight jobs so they could live to tell the tale.

Anyway, all of a sudden I’ve been riding the shit out of my Double Cross. And what fun it is, too. I did a three-day credit-card tour on it back in 2012 and had a delightful time. Lately I’m just pooting around town, on and off pavement as the spirit moves.

Your modern Double Cross has taken a distinctly gravelish turn, with disc brakes, more bottom-bracket drop, and more mounts for this and that. Different strokes, as the fella says. I bet it’s just swell, for those of you who demand all them consarned newfangled whizbangs, whatchamacallits, and comosellamas.

Me, I’ll stick to my old-school DC, thanks all the same. But that Soma Pescadero sure looks interesting. …

The Farce is with you

October 5, 2021

How do you “like” them apples, Obi-Wan?

“I felt a great disturbance in The Farce, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.” — Mark Zuckerberg, Jedi Not

All those delicate eggs in Facebutt’s inexplicably unraveling basket. Has anybody pulled in the Easter Bunny for questioning? Just what is it he does between Easters, anyway?

In its coverage, The New York Times observes:

The Facebook outage on Monday was a planetary-scale demonstration of how essential the company’s services have become to daily life. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger have long been more than handy tools for chatting and sharing photos. They are critical platforms for doing business, arranging medical care, conducting virtual classes, carrying out political campaigns, responding to emergencies and much, much more.

Pardon my smirk, but the only reason these “services” have become “essential” is because the rubes, marks, and suckers have made them so.  Some of us limp along just fine without them.

I croaked all my social-media accounts long ago and I don’t even pop round to piss on their graves, that’s how little I think about Buttface, Twatter, and the rest of ’em. Hideous time-sucks that encourage humans to indulge their every whim, no matter how grotesque.

Convenience is not always your friend. Convenience leaves you with Amazon, Walmart, and Starbucks after the mom-and-pop corner stores are gone. Anybody remember AOL? Email, messaging, browsing, website hosting, chat rooms, etc., all under the same leaky roof. O, the howling when that dog decided for one reason or another that it would not hunt when you whistled it up.

Some of us eventually built our own website(s) elsewhere, set up any number of email accounts, used Netscape for web browsing, and so on and so forth. More fiddly, but more rewarding, too.

I did use AIM for instant messaging when Netscape and AOL teamed up for that project. What the hell, it was convenient.

There’s cold in them thar hills

September 30, 2021

Thor is taking a few tentative swings with Mjölnir this morning.

The arm and knee warmers have begun tagging along on my morning rides.

I don’t always wear ’em, but it’s nice to know I have ’em. Just in case.

If I were riding today I’d pack a rain jacket, because the NWS boyos are calling for thunderbummers. And snow? Really? In the higher elevations, to be sure, but still, damn. You’d think it was almost October or sumpin’.

Speaking of a chill in high places, I see the usual rampant dipshittery has hit a frosty new low in DeeCee. Fuck me running, but it has become wearisome to watch our national “leadership” rolling around in that big ol’ barrel of titties and telling the rest of us to go suck on our thumbs.

Can we get a conservatorship established to oversee this mess? Maybe Britney Spears could recommend someone. Then again, maybe not.

Personally, I’d like to see more than a few of these Gilded Age fuck-bubbles loaded aboard the next Jeff Bozos dick-missile to the stars, with nothing to eat but each other, but only if we’re talking a one-way ticket.

I suppose we’d wind up replacing them with more of the same. But maybe the new crowd might think about dinner and a movie, and maybe kissing us, before sticking it in.

R.I.P., Commander Cody

September 29, 2021

George Frayne IV, better known as Commander Cody (he of The Lost Planet Airmen), has driven his hot-rod Lincoln into the sunset. He was 77.

“Hot Rod Lincoln” cracked the top 10 of the Billboard Top 100 in 1972. But my personal fave from the Commander and his Airmen was “Seeds and Stems (Again),” for some reason. Also, “Lost in the Ozone.”

George got the band’s name from an old Republic Pictures serial, but never thought he’d wind up becoming the Commander.

“I was watching the ‘Lost Planet Airmen’ movie and I saw the Commander Cody character and I thought it would be a great name for a band,” he said. “I had no idea anyone was going to have to be Commander Cody. I mean, there’s no Lynyrd Skynyrd. There’s no Steely Dan. There’s no Marshall Tucker. Why did there have to be a Commander Cody?”

But there did, and there was, and now he is no more. Smoke ’em if you got ’em. But not while you’re driving your hot-rod Lincoln, please.