Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

The fir is flyin’

January 2, 2022

The jingle bells no longer rock at The Compound’s main gate.

Piss on the fir and call in the dawgs. The Christmas-New Year’s holiday is done and dusted.

Herself is on a mission this morning, breaking down all the holiday decorations and returning them to their closet.

The fake tree is closet-bound.

Later I’ll unplug the multicolored strand that’s a component of the outdoor lights encircling our courtyard tree. We use the white strand year round, ’cause having little dangly lights strung around and about to no particular purpose is kind of a New Mexico thing.

All this rooting around in closets is guaranteed to trigger a flurry of eBaying as useless items come to light.

“What’s this?”

“Beats me.”

“Can I sell it?”

“I dunno, can you?”

The answer to this last is, “Yes,” because Herself can sell anything. She could sell an anvil to a drowning man.

If my attention drifts for a nanosecond she will sell the office chair right out from under me. That chair and its occupant are not big earners lately. And they’re not cute, like the cat. They’re battered and stained and they smell like canned farts and broken dreams.

And they never purr.

Thus, sacrifices must be made. Propitiate the goddess. Quick, find some extraneous electronica to place upon her altar.

Not the outdoor lighting, though. It’s still New Mexico.

• One final holiday gift: Arlo and his new(ish) bride.

2022’s not so hot

January 1, 2022

It’s a wee bit weatherish in the ’hood today. First rain of the new year.
We’ll take it.

During the night, I heard what sounded like a brisk rain or maybe some wind-driven sleet peppering El Rancho Pendejo, a soothing musical overlay to the percussive fireworks, gunfire, and general revelry that traditionally accompanies New Year’s celebrations in The Duck! City.

Sure enough, when we arose to greet the new year we found a stiff wind, gray skies, and chilly temps. The weather widget reported 0.24 inch of precip. Yay, etc.

Checking in from Weirdcliffe, where temps were in the teens with a light snow falling, my man Hal Walter reported: “I have looked outside and see no good reason to get out of bed today.”

Of course, his neighborhood is not on fire. Hal confines all fire to his kitchen wood stove. Which he had to get up and feed (see video). Still, a man can dream, yeah?

We have a very slight chance of snow, but I won’t be breaking out the skis or snowshoes. It may be a new year, but I’m the same suspicious old dog. I’ll believe it’s snowing when I can write my name in it.

Happy happy joy joy to all of yis who keep popping round no matter what the calendar or your better judgment advises.

X’dmas

December 26, 2021

This way to the Egress.

Well, that’s that. Another holiday crossed off the calendar.

I threw out my back just in time for the festivities, so I was not the usual jolly old elf as I tottered around the kitchen assembling Emeril’s chicken cacciatore and Martha Rose Shulman’s stir-fried succotash while listening to my favorite traditional Christmas carols (“Christmas in Prison,” John Prine; “Merry Christmas From the Family,” Robert Earl Keen; “Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis,” Tom Waits; “Christmas in Washington,” Steve Earle; and “St. Stephen’s Day Murders,” The Chieftains and Elvis Costello).

Having a bad back is like having a bad dog. You can feed it and scratch it and take it for walks but you never know when the sonofabitch is gonna bite you.

Nevertheless, I persisted, and with an assist from Herself (lemon bars with whipped cream) we took a bite of supper with Herself the Elder and then relaxed with some 22-year-old standup from Marc Maron, Dave Attell, and Mitch Hedberg on Comedy Central.

Eye see you.

This morning it seemed some portal to another dimension had opened while we slept off the grub and giggles. You can see it up there to the right of the backyard maple.

And unless I miss my guess this other shot at right is either of the Eye of Sauron or Cthulhu’s bunghole. Red eye or brown eye, it’s not something you want to see before coffee, especially with a dodgy back that hampers your ability to flee in terror.

The sun is peeking out now, and I may go for a short hobble, see if I can jar all my scattered bits back into their proper places.

But I tell you what: If a chiropractor had beckoned to me from that interdimensional gateway, I’da jumped through it like a bad dog hopping a fence, howling, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn?” (“By any chance do you take Medicare?”)

The dump is closed for Thanksgiving

November 25, 2021

Never heard of a dump closed on Thanksgiving? Where you been, kid? On the Group W bench?

We almost always close this dump on Thanksgiving; for a little while, anyway. Think of it as a friendly gesture. Gives you a chance to have a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat, maybe a nap, before Officer Obie calls and all the after-dinner fun begins.

While you wait for the phone to ring, how about having a little singalong? If you want to end war and stuff, you gotta sing loud. We’re just waiting for it to come around, is what we’re doing. …

• In related news: Our patron saint of Thanksgiving is getting married. Congrats to Arlo and his bride-to-be, Marti. May their one big pile be better than two little piles.

All is well

November 24, 2021

It’s nearly kickoff time for the 2021 Cavalcade of Consumerism, so grab yourself a sammich and a frosty beverage and settle into the La-Z-Boy for the Big Game.

The NPD Group advises us that 30 percent of respondents to a recent survey yearn for the door-busting, clerk-trampling, no-holds-barred combat of Black Friday, in which sleep-deprived, half-frozen fatties who spent Thanksgiving night camped outside a Lubbock Best Buy do it hand to hand over dubious bargains on giant TVs that will watch them like famished zopilotes and suggest other must-have items based upon their observed activity, if any.

“Damn, another ad for Weight Watchers. And Planet Fitness. Who has the time? Pass the Fritos and bean dip.”

NPD doesn’t explain their survey methodology, but you know they didn’t ask for my thoughts, because 100 percent of me would rather stuff an angry ferret down his bibs than head for the trough on Black Friday to see what the Waltons are serving to the sneezers and wheezers (there’s still a plague going on, you may recall). Let ’em make their bacon out of the NPD’s dummies.

We plan a muted Thanksgiving here at El Rancho Pendejo. Herself will collect her mom from The Facility and we will do a late lunch —  cider-braised turkey thighs with taters and apples, stir-fried succotash with edamame, some class of a green salad, and Herself’s famous lemon bars. The ladies will enjoy a dram or two of wine, while I make do with a bottle of fake beer.

I bought the fixins on Monday to avoid the rush. There were just two cashiers at Sprouts and the queued natives were restless. If we get through the weekend without gunplay it will be a holiday miracle.

Many treats, no tricks

November 1, 2021

Behold the Red Punkin.

Man, am I ever glad I doubled up on the sugar stash. We had a veritable thundering herd of trick-or-treaters last night.

We had been thinking that turnout would be on a par with 2020 — basically, the kids in the cul-de-sac and their minders. But some Voice from the Other World suggested I snatch up a couple more bags of goodies when I was in the store the other day. And as soon as I locate a Ouija board I’ll thank him/her/it for the tip, because the little goblins started hitting the doorbell at dusk and didn’t quit until we croaked the lights at 9 p.m.

Maybe it was the light show. Ordinarily we just plug in the Not-So-Great Pumpkin, set it in my office window, and call it good. But this year I gave it some bush-league mad-scientist backup, planting six bicycle taillights around it to add an eerie red glow: three big Busch-Müller jobs that cast a steady light, and three smaller Cygolites set to “Zoom” mode. Muah haah haaaaaah.

More likely it was just some cabin-feverish parents deciding to air out their munchkins for a couple hours. “No, we’re not watching ‘Frozen II’ again. Now put on this Wonder Woman costume and let’s go make your dentist crazy.”

Whatever. It fairly made my shrunken black knuckle of a heart go all pitter-pat. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. You get to be somebody else for a day, or at least part of a night, and who doesn’t want to climb out of his or her boring ol’ skin for a spell at least once a year?

With all the evil news-droppings poisoning our spiritual wells day in and day out, it was comforting to see that we can still trust each other a little bit, share a moment now and again.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. … oh, wow, Mom, Snickers!”

Dia de los Viejos Gringos

October 31, 2021

Nothing says Halloween like a plug-in plastic punkin.

Here we are again, All Hallows’ Eve, boogity boogity boogity.

I don’t have any idea what to expect, trick-or-treatwise. Last year we kept our lights out and restricted candy distribution to the neighbor kids and their keepers. The supplicants included two cats, one cow, a fairy, a princess, and Wonder Woman. The booty was sealed in individual Ziploc bags. We didn’t quite toss it at them from the roof.

“G’wan, gedoudaheeh, y’little Petri dishes! I’m warnin’ ya, I got a bucket a hot bleach up heeah!”

In other news, Ken Layne is back from the road just in time to crank out a Halloween episode for Desert Oracle Radio. Author Tod Goldberg joined him to tell a spooky story, and I liked it so much I dashed right over to Page 1 Books and bought one of his books, “The Low Desert,” a collection of short stories. The first was worth the price of admission. There is a scary clown. I shall say no more.

Me, I don’t have a scary story for you today, or even an original costume idea. I’m dressing as Old White Guy, just like always, because in these dark days I can’t think of anything more frightening. Boo, etc.

Mardi Gras on the rocks

February 16, 2021

Save your beads, boys. Ain’t nobody pulling off their tops today.

February almost always looks better somewhere else.

In February 2014 I fled Bibleburg for Albuquerque. In 2016, I traded Albuquerque for Fountain Hills.

And this year?

Well, shit. I appear to be sheltering in place, like everybody else.

Well, maybe not everybody else.

At stupid-thirty I looked outside and noted that our neighbor to the west had laid down some tire tracks in the snow that fell overnight. It kept falling, and after sunrise, the neighbor to the east laid down a matching set on the other side of the cul-de-sac.

They both have jobs and munchkins to manage. Me, not so much. I don’t have to be anywhere, and so I’m not going there.

• Lone Star Update: In Texas Monthly Mimi Swartz feels her hurricane reflexes kick in as the power grid is pushed to the limit.

What’s he building?

December 27, 2020

And we wrap up our Christmas 2020 bloggery with Tom Waits, who seems to have had the Music City Bomber on his musical radar back in 1999.

‘Better Call Santa,’ or ‘Breaking Bethlehem’

December 26, 2020

No snow in them thar hills for Christmas.

Father Christmas has done his usual drive-by on us. A few donuts around the cul-de-sac and off he shot into the frosty Duke City suburbs. Couldn’t ID the plate on that rig, but it was probably stolen, so why bother?

Anyway, all the John Laws on this side of town were tied up with some act of misbehavior down on Copper (and no, the irony did not escape us). We saw their Mickey Mouse ears all aglow to the west like some SWAT-team Star of Bethlehem as we turned off Copper onto Tramway, homeward bound following a visit to Herself the Elder’s assisted-living residence.

Earlier, Herself distributed freshly baked molasses cookies to the neighbors in a brazen act of socialism as I contemplated the verities.

Father Christmas,
give us some money.

We walked off our breakfast pancakes with a brisk hike through the foothills — “Merry Christmas!” shouted a happy family from their backyard hot tub, and no, I am not making that up — after which we motored off for the aforementioned holiday chat through HtE’s bedroom window, like family members visiting a jailed relative.

“I know, I know, you didn’t do nothing, habeas corpus and all that, but they still won’t set bail, and that abogado pendejo Saul Goodman won’t return our calls — ‘Better Call Saul’ my ass — so you’re just gonna have to wait a while longer, OK? Next time we’ll bring cigarettes and commissary money, I promise.”

Back at the shack we rang up my sister and her husband in Fort Fun, after which it was my turn in the kitchen barrel. The main dish was a largish Alaskan salmon filet (h/t Matt Wiebe) drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled generously with salt and pepper, and baked at 425° for 10-12 minutes, after which it got a squeeze of fresh lemon. Sides were white asparagus, arroz verde, and a green salad. Fake beer for me, a nice Provençal rosé for Herself.

As we ate we finished our binge-watching of “Breaking Bad,” because nothing says Christmas like an apocalyptic settling of old scores among meth kingpins.

Speaking of holiday entertainment, at some point during the day I gave ear to “Desert Oracle Radio,” a podcast recommended by Adventure Journal magazine. I’ve only listened to two episodes so far, but I’m gonna give it a tentative thumbs-up based on the Christmas show alone, which touches on our beloved Land of Entrapment and a few of its holiday oddities.

Herself thinks Ken Layne sounds like the Motel 6 guy. (“We’ll leave the light on for you.”) I think he sounds like the Motel 6 guy (with a smack habit). Take him for a quick spin around the Mojave and tell us what you think he sounds like.