‘expression is the need of my soul’

February 20, 2018

Archy and Mehitabel, like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, have transcended their times and speak as well to today’s world as they did to their own.

This tickled me no end when I read it in bed last night.

Archy and Mehitabel live! And in them, so does their creator, Don Marquis, who started cranking out tales of their lives and times for his newspaper column back in 1916, two years before my father was born. George “Krazy Kat” Herriman, whose work is likewise deathless, provided the illustrations.

Another writer I revere, E.B. White, wrote the introduction to the book at right. In it, he recalled how Marquis suffered for his craft and eventually, like Archy the poetic cockroach, fell exhausted.

I don’t recall when I first stumbled across Archy and his feline shadow Mehitabel, but I must have been quite young. I was reminded of them many years later when I first read the collection “Essays of E.B. White,” and rushed out to buy me some Marquis.

Christ, he was good. As White notes in his introduction, the work is among a handful of books by American humorists “that rest solidly on the shelf.”

“It is funny, it is wise, it is tender, and it is tough,” he added.

And it holds up. If you don’t already have a copy, get one. You’ll find it marvelous, even if you’ve never thrown yourself headfirst at the keyboard, as have Archy, Marquis and I.

Stewing

February 19, 2018

I had just about decided to step out for a run when the rain talked me out of it. Instead I’m making green chile stew. Manaña, baby.

Hoo-boy. It may be raining here, but I bet the actual water is landing at Hal’s place up Weirdcliffe way, because the wind is flat-out howling out of the south.

If you haven’t had a real beer for five years, a fake one tastes remarkably like beer.

Herself went back to work today and it’s just me and the cats here.

There’s a dog-shaped hole in the kitchen, which feels like an abandoned house.

But it’ll warm up a tad when I start making some green chile stew. It always gladdened The Boo’s hungry little heart to see me moving around and about in his living room, laying hands on knife, pot and cutting board.

And y’know what? I may even have a beer with it. Non-alcoholic, of course. Surely I must be training for something.

• Late update: From Esquire (where else?) comes this list of  “tasty near beers that don’t suck.”

Get. Out.

February 18, 2018

You can see company coming a long ways off from the intersection of Spain and High Desert.

“Dude: You need to get the fuck outdoors. Seriously.”

That was my man Hal Walter, who knows an attitude problem when he sees one. (He’s been observing mine since 1983.)

Thus, the getting the fuck outdoors has been gotten, and seriously, astride the Bianchi Zurigo Disc. Didn’t get run over or nothin’.

I feel better already.

R.I.P., Andrew Tilin

February 18, 2018

Former Outside editor Andrew Tilin died Saturday after being struck by a vehicle during a club ride in Austin, Texas.

He was 52, with a partner and two kids.

You can read the magazine’s report here. The Austin Statesman also has a report.

Sounds like bad weather was at least a contributing factor. Let’s be careful out there, folks. It might not help, but it can’t hurt. And my condolences to Andrew’s friends and family.

Sorry, we can’t use you

February 17, 2018

Going down? Don’t you wish. …

“I have insisted that we enforce the necessary safeguards and processes to review an individual’s suitability for employment at the White House before that individual begins work,” says John Kelly, White House chief of staff.

Too bad the Electoral College didn’t share his lofty standards, hey?

Like rain falling on the city

February 17, 2018

The sky is crying.

It was gloomy around here the past couple days, and not just for the obvious reason. The weather finally turned and we got something like a half-inch of rain; a long, steady soaking.

Something seems dreadfully wrong
with this picture.

Even the normally stoic Turk grew unsettled, first spending an unusual amount of time under the bed, and then following me around like bad news.

This morning he was finally back to his routine: yowling outside the bedroom door when he’s decided that I’ve logged enough shuteye; jumping into bed for a brief cuddle; and finally nodding off as the sun crept over the Sandias.

Herself is easing back into business as usual, hitting her workout classes and fencing with the taxman, whose clammy hand is even less welcome in our pockets than usual.

Mia performs her one-cat show “Sit Like a Cat,” based on a poem from the Ted Kooser-Jim Harrison collection “Braided Creek”:

We should
sit like a cat
and wait for the door
to open.

And the unflappable Miss Mia Sopaipilla, who came to us from the same shelter that gave us Mister Boo, continues to provide some much-needed comic relief. The other day it was zazen on my drawing stool; this morning it was mortal combat with a long-forgotten toy mouse.

Me? You’d think I should be chronicling some velo-business for fun and profit, what with CABDA just concluded and Frostbike, NAHBS and 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo ongoing.

But I’m not, so maybe I’ll go for a ride instead.

• Editor’s note: Gassho and deep bows to one and all for your condolences following the passing of Mister Boo. Sifting through the piles of photos and videos depicting the sprightly young Boo of days gone by, and seeing the pleasure his presence provided beyond our own household, helped us remember the good times, bright moments that often fade under the harsher light of day-to-day caregiving.

R.I.P., Mister Boo, 2005-2018

February 15, 2018

Mister Boo at play in the fields.

The Boo has left the building. Gone ahead he has, to join Jojo, Fuerte, Bandit, Tina and Ike.

We — OK, I — occasionally joked that Mister Boo was God’s gift to veterinary medicine, and there was always a bit of an edge to it, because medical care for anyone, man, woman or dog, dollars up on the hoof right quick.

But we dug down, and paid up, because that’s what you do for family.

One tough little dude. “Where’s my dinner, bitch?”

It helped that Mister Boo was a tough little son of a bitch. You wanted to be in his corner. Abandonment, imprisonment, eye operations, bladder surgeries, patellar issues, senility, incontinence, renal dysfunction — they all knocked him down, but nothing could keep him on the canvas.

Or so it seemed.

The bum kidneys and liver were what finally rang the bell on him. They forced him to surrender his disco kibble some time ago, and he considered the prescribed renal diet a bad joke, so I cooked for him. The food was not what the doctor ordered, but it was what he liked, and we figured the auld fella was near the end of his days and entitled to eat as he pleased.

Thus I was Mister Boo’s chef. But he was never my dog.

Oh, I spent a ton of time with him, because I can do my little bit of business from home while Herself suffers from gainful employment. It was usually me who took him to his vet appointments because see previous sentence. And come mealtime I was That Man, the anonymous dude with the food.

But Herself was That Lady Who Gives Me Things. Liberation from prison; baths and walks; toys and treats; pills and potions; hugs and kisses.

In a word, love.

It was Herself who gave Mister Boo a home in the summer of 2011, when she volunteered at the Bibleburg shelter, and it was Herself who gave him peace this bleak February morning. It’s one of those chilly winter days he enjoyed so much, and I’m sad that he couldn’t be here to savor it.

The Boo and Herself enjoying a brisk walk in April 2016.

• Click the “Read the rest” link below for a memorial gallery.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oh, SNAP

February 14, 2018

Mister Boo needs a bib. And a brain transplant. And a butt plug.

It’s Valentine’s Day. The Turk’ sounded Reveille, Herself gave me a kiss, Mia offered a series of head bumps, and The Boo laid a turd in the kitchen as I was fixing him a delicious snack.

Got a bit of it on your chin, there, didn’t you, old fella? The party, it never stops.

Speaking of defecation, I see the Swamp Thing wants to take a crap on SNAP. Given the fiscal discipline displayed by this lot I expect those “Harvest Boxes” are likely to contain nothing more nourishing than IOUs.

Maybe they can be printed on rice paper. We can pretend it’s cake.

 

Not insane! (Well, maybe a little)

February 13, 2018

A Firesign sampler.

Thanks to Steve O’ for sending me on a little trip down Dr. Memory Lane with his mention in comments of a KCRW podcast that looked forward, into the past, at the Firesign Theatre.

I first stumbled across the Firesigns in high school. The source of the contagion may have been my friend Bruce Gibson, who was something of an audiophile, or perhaps Dan Stephanian, who was an actual disc jockey.

The Firesigns struck me like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist, and if I hadn’t planned to be a cartoonist I might have gone into radio instead of newspapering. Their skit “The Further Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye,” and far too many impromptu amateur performances of same, would provide an entrée into friendships that, like herpes, have proven impossible to eradicate.

We saw “Martian Space Party” at the Rialto Theatre in Alamosa way back in 1972, and even the actual Firesigns themselves in concert at the old Ebbets Field in Denver, circa 1977 or thereabouts.

One of our college hovels bore the sign “Ed Siegelman’s Ground Zero Equal Opportunity Apartments,” a FT reference from “Dear Friends.” And when I was assigned to build an actual show as part of a radio-production class I created an all-Firesign homage. Music, news, weather, sports and commercials, all were pulled from their tattered casebook.

Phil “Nick Danger” Austin himself even popped around the blog to try, Python-like, to squeeze a dollar or two out of the Bozos and Bozoettes who loiter around my drugstore, drinking chocolate malted falcons and giving away free high schools.

Phil’s gone now, dear friends, as is Peter Bergman. But last fall the surviving Firesigns, Philip Proctor and David Ossman, got together at the Library of Congress to perform and discuss the troupe’s work.

The Library has all their albums. I only have most of them, an oversight I intend to correct.

 

Light show

February 11, 2018

“Well done, Yahweh,” as my fellow ‘Burqueño Doc Sarvis once said in “The Monkey Wrench Gang.” Also, “Weather’s comin’,” as his comrade Seldom Seen Smith added. “We might have a sprinkle or two tonight. On the other hand we might not.”

The temperatures became more seasonable overnight. But if that’s the price of admission to yesterday’s sunset, why, we’ll pay it.