Double dumbstruck

Gassing up for the long commute.

“This heat’s not good for the brain. Turns out nothing much is good for the brain in the 2020s. TV rots it, the Internet turns it to jelly, the miserable climate bakes it, 90 percent of what we call ‘work’ is deliberately designed to actually erase the human brain; this has been proven. Podcasts: Now there’s a guaranteed way to reverse years of book-learning and social skills. There’s online gambling, TikTok … and then Queen Elizabeth II passed away and it was like a Bat-Signal in the sky to make everybody go extra double-dumb. … Only in Ireland did they seem to sort of be enjoying it all.” — Ken Layne, “Like a Hurricane,” Desert Oracle Radio

You said a mouthful, brother.

The news has been so relentlessly grotesque that I found myself double-dumbstruck, which is to say rendered speechless by astonishment while simultaneously catching a puck in the gob from a wildly flailing eejit.

The prospect of commenting on any of our ongoing Dumpster fires felt like pissing into the drinking water in Jackson, Mississippi — an enhancement, to be sure, but not a solution any sane person would swallow.

So I kept it zipped. Averted my eyes. Instead I watched the hummingbirds mobbing our feeders; the little buzzbombs will be leaving us shortly. Played with Miss Mia Sopaipilla, who remains extraordinarily kittenish for a 15-year-old cat. Rode the bike(s) — 130 miles last week, 140 this week.

With “Better Call Saul” in the rear view we branched out a bit in our evening TV-watching. I can recommend “Letterkenny,” (absurdly funny Canadians); “This Fool” (snarky South Central working-class vatos); “Belfast” (The Troubles through a child’s eyes); and “The Sandman,” derived, like “Watchmen,” from a high-gloss DC comic of which I had been ignorant.

• Honorable mention: “Funny Pages,” a bent coming-of-age story about a teenage cartoonist who gets an up-close-and-personal look at the subterranean bits of “underground comics.” Could be straight out of “Zap,” “Bijou,” or pretty much any other comic you read back when weed was still illegal. And yes, Your Humble Narrator recognized more than a few unsavory aspects of himself in this film.

What about literature, you ask? Check out a couple road-trippers on the ragged edge: the cabbie Lou in Lee Durkee’s “The Last Taxi Driver,” and the shaggy mercenary Will Bear in Dan Chaon’s “Sleepwalk.”

• Honorable mentions: “Night of the Living Rez” by Morgan Talty (his first book; dark tales of a Native community in Maine) and “Homesickness” by Colin Barrett (his second; darkly funny tales of the Irish at home and abroad).

If none of these diversions from the daily disaster does the trick for you, find a hummingbird to watch or a cat to play with.

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24 Responses to “Double dumbstruck”

  1. Shawn Says:

    Thank life for the peacefulness of hummingbird watching and furry felines and their cat toys. Things that remind us that we really are just specks in the eye of a greater thing.

    It’s good to hear that you rolled the bikes out a little bit. It’s sad to see a bike hanging away on the hooks, on a rack, or still packaged away in a box gathering dust and old spiders. Their mobile release is as ours, a release from our meager cares.

    Is there a Branagh collaboration that is not good? From his talents the world gets to see the confusion of his youth and the elevation of the value of his elders. “For those who were not able to leave”, or a version thereof. An apt statement for a respectful film.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’ve ridden five different bikes this month and plan to get around to the others directly.

      “Belfast” was quite a film. The leaving and the staying, both heartbreaking.

      I’m looking forward to the next Martin McDonagh collaboration with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, “The Banshees of Inisherin.”

      • Shawn Says:

        Ooo. That Gleeson / Farrell flick looks like a good’n.

      • Herb from Michigan Says:

        Oh but we are taking bets POG that the time trial bike remains on the hook. Curiously, I did the same thing as you and abruptly held the screaming news at bay and read various books and publications until I realized I was getting stooped and moving like a tortoise. But the rain is headed away tomorrow and There Will Be Biking in the Mitten State. So it is proclaimed. Thanks all for the reading and viewing recommendations.

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          I need a flat base bar for that wee beastie before I can ride it with any confidence. When I’m on those low-down Profile cowhorns I look like a monkey fucking a football. Also, I feel like the King of the Wanna-bes. The old dude with a Maserati who should’ve saved the money for a tummy-tuck and proper hair plugs.

          • Shawn Says:

            You mean the Fat Guy who wished he still only got fat in the winter?

            We’re old enough now that it doesn’t matter if we look like wanna-bees, because we are still-cans, kind of. Even a youngster these days looks funny on an old style funny bike.

          • Herb from Michigan Says:

            I seriously should have not read the monkey/football response while taking a big bite of chile rellinos since I almost choked on it. Now, I’m forever going to conjure that image whenever I see someone on the trail with tri-bars.

  2. Pat O’Brien Says:

    John Prine said it best. “And all the news just repeats itself like some forgotten dream that we’ve both seen.”

    I did re-discover Tony Hillerman books I read in the distant past, and when I couldn’t remember who done it and how Leaphorn and Chee solved it, I dove right in.

    My back, after repeated strains, is finally healing up, so short walks, a mile or two, around the hood was the best I could do.

    TV viewing was watching “Shaun The Sheep Movie” and the BBC series of “Sherlock.”

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I reread Jim Harrison’s “The English Major” this past week and found a line in it I liked a lot:

      “Everything in our culture seems to be marinating in the same plastic sack and the ingredients are deeply suspect.”

      Meanwhile, did you see “Dark Winds,” the TV series based on the Leaphorn-Chee tales? Not as good as “Reservation Dogs,” but a lot of Natives got work in it, so I hope it gets greenlit for a second season. Zahn McClarnon is in both and is always worth watching.

      • Pat O’Brien Says:

        Funny you should mention Jim Harrison. I drove through Patagonia today with my friends Mark and Alan. Mark, also a past resident of Bibleburg, mentioned Jim Harrison as soon as we entered town. We were on our way to my favorite store, Tumacookery in Tubac.

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          Jimbo had a casita down that way, and divvied his time between it and a place in Montana. I’d hoped to bump into him when I passed through town on that Adventure Cycling Association tour, but nix. He was not a fan of random encounters with fanboys in any case.

          I always liked his essays, and if you haven’t read any of ’em, “Just Before Dark,” “The Raw and the Cooked,” and “A Real Big Lunch” are all worth your time. And his “Brown Dog” tales have all been collected into a single publication, with one never-before-published tale added. Light reads, but mostly amusing.

      • Pat O’Brien Says:

        Unfortunately we can’t watch the “Dark Wind” series sine we don’t subscribe to any apps on the Apple TV except for PBS/Arizona Public Media. Has any watched the “Dark Wind” movie from 2003 with Lou Diamond Philips? Any good?

  3. khal spencer Says:

    Was going to break out the bike but on inspection, the grape arbor had one more harvest to be done after walking the dog and doing morning chores. So with three more pounds of grapes, I spent the day boiling them down to jam and sterilizing jars. Call it the 9-11-22 Twin Towers vintage. Maybe tomorrow I’ll go for a ride.

    • Shawn Says:

      Regarding your grapes and canning them for jam, I couldn’t help but think of Ben Rumson in Paint Your Wagon responding to the rescued pilgrims in his home when they said that they grew apples. He responded with “Apple Jack?”. I suppose it’s the genetic alcoholic in me thinking first of wine when grapes are harvested. Of course I am in a land of agriculturists who know the value of raising grape vines for wine.

      • khal spencer Says:

        My brother makes wine. I’ve not tried that yet. With Total Wine a 20 minute drive away, it seems like excess work. But I do want to make sure the grapes get preserved for something, either food or beverage.

        • Shawn Says:

          I agree about not wasting grapes. I collected some from our vines a few years back and put them into a couple of 5 gallon buckets and set them in our garage fridge to deal with later. I didn’t get to them in time before the mold set in.

        • khal spencer Says:

          Lately all our friends are getting tomatoes, squash, or grape jam as gifts. We had a bumper crop of all of that.

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          The neighbors have been dropping off bounty from their garden — apples, zucchini, and whatnot. I have lust in my heart for their tomatoes but one mustn’t be greedy.

          • carl duellman Says:

            I believe that the Marinarian branch of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster allows tomato lust.

          • Pat O’Brien Says:

            Indeed they do. You can’t buy a tomato, any variety, that tastes as good as home grown. Purloined ones taste even better! I don’t eat much pork these days, but if someone gives me garden grown tomatoes, I am buying some bacon and sourdough bread. No room to garden? Grow them in a stock tank, which we have discussed before. I am surprised every year that Herself hasn’t already started a stock tank garden. No rabbits, no weeds, no sticks or stems that you don’t need.

          • Patrick O'Grady Says:

            Alas, Herself has all she can handle with full-time employment, Herself the Elder, a vigorous exercise program, her eBay sideline, and local Democratic Party gruntwork.

            As for me, I have a black thumb. I could kill a plastic flower, I shit thee not.

            And if I didn’t, something else would. Our wildlife cam routinely spots raccoons, gray foxes, coyotes, and deer in the yard, among other critters (the neighborhood Cooper’s hawk is running a pogrom on the doves and will even go after a roadrunner if it suits his purposes).

          • Pat O’Brien Says:

            Never mind. Your back 40 is a zoo!

  4. Jon Paulos Says:

    I can recommend “Deacon King Kong” as a good read. I’ve had it on my night stand for months, and it took a vacation to London to give me time to read it. Unplug the phone, turn off the tv, and enjoy.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Second that nomination. “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride is a keeper. Also, “Harlem Shuffle,” by Colson Whitehead, and “Anxious People,” by Fredrik Backman (translated from the Swedish).

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