Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Tidings of comfort and joy

December 26, 2022

Santa pisses off to the North Pole.

Whoosh! Solstice in the rear view, New Year’s dead ahead.

So far it’s been a quiet holiday season around the rancheroo. Kinfolk were chatted up and a medium-light feast prepared (green chile stew with flour tortillas and an avocado-and-tomato appetizer, plus pecan pie for dessert).

No white Christmas here. The bomb cyclone gave us a miss and we were able to get out for a daily run without Jack Frost nipping at our noses or any other critical bits.

Today we’re looking at a high of  … no, I won’t say it. It would be cruel to any of yis who have to crawl out of a second-story window to take a leak in the snow because the terlets are all frozen solid.

In other tidings of comfort and joy, we failed to move the economic needle very much in a gift-giving sense.

Herself acquired a new vacuum cleaner to replace a battered unit that would be old enough to run for president if it were human (and is still smarter than many of the humans currently surveying the campaign trail).

Me, I ordered up a pair of Merrell Hut Mocs because wearing socks with Tevas, even in winter, is apparently a fashion no-no. I also scored some Darn Tough micro crew cushion socks because my DT light hikers are starting to feel a tad beat down after a couple years of stumbling around on the local trails like some homeless old soak who hit the exercise-wear jackpot at a Sally Ann clothing giveaway.

I doubt we’ll be crushing the after-Christmas sales, either. Herself and a co-worker have some pagan ceremony planned (a dark rite involving fire and French 75s). And while Capitalism is carpet-bombing my in-box with any number of fabulous deals, I get a jolt from my shock collar every time I — Yowtch! — reach for the credit card.

I don’t really need anything anyway. Except maybe some insulated bolt-cutters for this goddamned — Ow! — shock collar.

Through a glass, brightly

December 25, 2022

Nothing says Christmas like a fake tree viewed through a rippled window.

Happy holidays from our elves to yours.

Cookie monster

December 24, 2022

Star with royal beauty bright.

Yesterday we made a batch of shortbread cookies for distribution throughout the cul-de-sac.

We were a tad late to the holiday party. Four neighbors had already laid goodies on us by the time we got our asses in gear. And had I been in the driver’s seat, we would still be idling by the curb.

As usual, it was Herself who got us rolling. She dug out the recipe, added a few items to my grocery list, and started cranking out cookies like Mrs. Fields once I came back with the fixin’s.

I provided tech support for our elderly oven, which is the baker’s equivalent of driving a stick. I also took on the gruntwork of sliding trays of dough in and cookies out so that the baker could focus on her Art.

In the end we had just enough cookies to accommodate everyone who hadn’t fled The Duck! City to spend the holidays shivering in a snow-covered ditch or kipping on an airport floor.

While Herself distributed the sugar bombs I pulled on the rubber gloves and started policing up the kitchen. I was in dire need of a haircut and shave and didn’t want to frighten any children looking forward to a visit from St. Nick rather than Old Nick.

“Mommmmmmm! We already did Halloween! It’s supposed to be Christmastime!”

The reason for the season?

December 18, 2022

The Ghost of Christmas Present.

The War on Christmas continues apace. And leading the charge: preachers?

From The New York Times:

This year, church leaders are grappling with what may seem like an odd dilemma: Christmas Day falls on a Sunday for the first time since 2016, and that’s a problem.

“Christmas morning and Sunday morning are sort of in tension with each other,” said Timothy Beal, a professor of religious studies at Case Western Reserve University. “Most people who are churchgoers think of Christmas morning not as a religious time but as a family time: stockings and brunches and staying in your pajamas until midday or later.”

In other words, Ho ho ho, Baby Jesus. Happy birthday and all, but come Sunday morning we’ll be in our jammies, worshiping that golden plastic calf from the Church of St. Costco. Feed it four D-cells and it moos “Away in a Manger.”

• • •

If you happen to find yourself with a little change left over after your holiday shopping’s all finished, please consider kicking a bit of the extra to Charlie Cunningham’s GoFundMe, which Jacquie Phelan uses to help underwrite his care following an awful crash in 2015. She would welcome your warm wishes and cold cash.

• • •

And finally, John Fleck comes away from a Sin City water convo more hopeful that the states can reach some class of a compromise over Colorado River water use — management based on inflows rather than reservoir levels — before the feds step in.

Now that would be a useful Christmas present. Not this year — but maybe next?

A friendly gesture

November 24, 2022

We’re taking out the garbage, but we’ll be back later for some observations and a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat (if Officer Obie doesn’t get us en route).

While you wait, walk into the shrink, wherever you are, and sing a bar of “Alice’s Restaurant.”

Scary monsters

October 31, 2022

Nothing says Halloween like a plug-in plastic punkin.

I used to love Halloween. It was my favorite holiday by far. Who doesn’t want to be someone or something else for at least one day per annum?

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird … it’s a plane … no, it’s The Kid with the Giant Head!

Mom made more than a few costumes for me: Superman, Mike “Sea Hunt” Nelson, even one of my own cartoon characters, Loadedman.

I can’t remember how the hell I talked her into that one. Surely I never let her read any of the comics. They did not promise a future of fame and fortune for Your Humble Narrator.

Eventually I started cobbling together my own getups, but found my options limited by my everyday appearance, which was long on hair. The pirate thing is easy, but gets boring after a few voyages.

So I stretched myself a bit. I was Chihuahua Guevara one year, and Jesus another. The Che getup was easy — basically pirate, but with assault rifle and beret instead of cutlass and bandana — but the Prince of Peace required a little more skull sweat.

An early Eighties Halloween in Oregon

Chihuahua Guevara, Fido Castro, take your pick.

It was a combo act. A newpaper colleague and I planned to crash a divinity-school party as the Deities from New Jersey, with accents to match.

Robes and halos were a snap, and I used green trash-bag ties to fashion a crown of thorns, but we couldn’t talk anyone into joining us as the Holy Ghost. Something about “blasphemy.”

Yeah, right. Like we weren’t already going to Hell for running an afternoon newspaper.

One aspect short of a Trinity, we were forced to improvise and adapt. In short, to evolve. We bought a white helium-filled balloon and slapped a happy-face sticker on it. Hallelujah. The Lord helps those who help themselves.

At another newspaper I managed to catch the publisher napping one All Hallows’ Eve. I throttled back my prodigious beard, then braided my hair and stuffed it down the collar of a very pro dress shirt. Took out the earring, added tie, slacks, and footwear, and went to work.

Well sir, I don’t mind telling you the publisher was impressed. Shook my hand and congratulated me on finally joining the human race.

Later I left for lunch and returned clad in motorcycle-outlaw finery — all hair and earring and black boots and denim, including a vest with homemade “Hell’s Editors” colors on the back and a “No Morals” button on the front.

The publisher subsequently went dotty. I like to think I contributed in my own small way.

These days I mostly play it straight. We hang around the house and wait for all the little goblins to pop round, screeching for sugar.

If anybody asks what I’m doing for Halloween I tell them I’m going as an old white guy. I can’t imagine anything scarier.

When will it be Labor Day?

September 5, 2022

The late, great Gahan Wilson.

We never hear of Capital Day, not because Capital has no day, but because every day is Capital Day. The struggle in which we are now engaged will end only when every day is Labor Day.Eugene V. Debs, Labor Day 1903

It’s still Capital Day. For now, anyway.

At The Guardian, Douglas Rushkoff recounts his chat with a secretive group of super-wealthy dudes “preparing for a digital future that had less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether.”

In short, they’ve grown tired of our sniveling about their shitting in our shared sandbox and wonder whether they might be able to dispense with us altogether.

Writes Rushkoff, a self-described humanist and Marxist media theorist who writes about the impact of digital technology on our lives:

Their extreme wealth and privilege served only to make them obsessed with insulating themselves from the very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is about only one thing: escape from the rest of us.

One of the capitalists’ main concerns centered on how to control their security people after The Event — “their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, solar storm, unstoppable virus, or malicious computer hack that takes everything down.”

Yep, that could be risky. A SEAL might grow weary of barking for fish from the plump, well-manicured pinkies of a plutocrat. How to get away from it all when you need to take a few of “them” with you?

What happens when Labor Day finally comes around for real?

One step beyond

August 31, 2022

Your money’s no good here, and neither is anything else.

Mikhail Gorbachev has died and gone to Commie Hell, which looks a lot like Walmart.

Capitalist Hell, of course, looks more like Bed Bath & Beyond.

If I cared to visit a BB&B, which I do not, I could wander right on in with my face hanging out as in days of yore, and not just because there would be no other customers (and possibly no employees).

No, it seems that overnight Bernalillo County has switched from Condition Red on the Bug-O-Meter to Go-Anywhere Green, for reasons which elude me.

Oh, wait, just thought of one: The Labor Day Drive Far and Spend Heavily While the Gas is Still Cheap(ish) Holiday Extravaganza. Get out there and buy something, you sissies!

I suppose it beats hanging out in the castle with Prospero, waiting for the Red Death to come knocking despite the “No Solicitors” sign on the door.

And if worse came to worst one could always bunker up in a Bed Bath & Beyond, which has to be the closest thing to a sterile environment outside the Wildfire lab near Flatrock, Nevada.

But still, it all seems a bit one step beyond. Madness!

A bang-up job

July 4, 2022

The morning clouds have been something to celebrate.

The only firecracker I personally set off today was a itty-bitty kiddie snap-pop left over from the previous night’s celebration in the cul-de-sac, a neighbor’s lightly explosive summertime labor of love. I hit it with a tire as I rolled out for an Independence Day bike ride.

Snap!

That felt about right, considering.

Albuquerque seemed unusually quiet for a Fourth of July, and I wondered once again whether The Duck! City is a place that people leave for a holiday, not one they visit.

Or maybe we’re all just wondering whether there’s anything left of America to celebrate.

We had a good group at last night’s fireworks show. Not exactly a representative sample of the U.S. population — hey, this is the ’burbs, and the foothills to boot — but if we were heavy on white-collar types from the university, the lab, and the government, we also had people of color and a sizable crop of kids, the most I’ve ever seen at one of these shindigs.

There were snacks and beverages and folding chairs. Squeals of delight from the young, and oohs and ahhs from the rest of us, with the occasional round of applause for a particularly percussive fountain.

The show didn’t start until 8:30 and so we were up a little later than we like, and I may have been a little grumpier than usual as I toured the foothills this morning on my old road-racing bike. Frowned as some oblivious tool blew right through a stop sign. Got mildly irked at an American flag protruding from a New Mexican zia with a security camera built in. (One nation, under surveillance.) And I actually flipped the bird to a banner reading, “Don’t Blame Us, We Voted for Trump!”

Finally, motorists eastbound on Paseo del Norte still haven’t figured out the new right-turn configuration at Tramway. Jesus wept, etc. You want to watch your ass cycling southbound if you ever want to see another fireworks show.

All this being said, there are bright spots. One of them is out there in the cul-de-sac right now with a leaf blower, clearing away any detritus he might have overlooked last night as the rest of us headed for bed.

He doesn’t have to do it. It’s a free country, amirite? But he’s doing it anyway, and not just for show, either. He does it because it’s a nice thing to do.

Sallying Fourth: It’s a gas

June 30, 2022

Get thee behind me.

Behold! The Fourth of July Holiday Travel Extravaganza is upon us, and gas prices are … falling?

Hee, and also haw.

You know what this means, right? If the prices had stayed high, why, you’d stay home, roast your weenies in the back yard. But they’ve dipped a few pennies, so fill ’er up, pard’, we’re gonna go visit grandma back at The Old Home Place, burn some of this discount dinosaur wine.

’Course, soon as you get there, boom! Up shoots the price at the pump. And son, you got to pay it to get home. A whole bunch of you.

Notes AAA:

Car travel volume … will break previous records as 42 million opt to drive this Independence Day. Recent issues with air travel and ongoing concerns of cancellations and delays may be driving this increase.

I hope to leave old Sue Baroo the Fearsome Furster in the garage through Monday. My idea of a real good time on a holiday weekend is not driving anywhere, even in The Duck! City.

Especially in The Duck! City. Herself recently told me a tale of some poor commuter who had a dope fiend jump on her car and beat in the windshield. Apparently some passing hardhats had to sedate him with a shovel. I’d rather hitch a ride on a flaming garbage truck.