Archive for the ‘Just mumbling along’ Category

Sucking the mop

June 15, 2020

Richard Pryor didn’t much like Chevy Chase, and he probably wasn’t fond of the rest of us honky-honkies either.

Anyone besides me find it ironic that black Americans have taken on yet another shit job — cleaning up the mess that white folks have made of this country?

The place is definitely a fixer-upper. Not exactly that “shining city upon a hill” that ol’ Death Valley Dutch babbled about as he rode off into the sunset. Even the neighborhood slumlords are giving it the side-eye, grumbling about property values.

Plus the people who wrecked it are still living in it. Hell, they still own it. Stripping the dump like a chop shop parting out a hot car, too. Selling everything, furniture to appliances, bathroom fixtures to copper wire. You want to watch your step when they start pulling up the hardwood floors. Take a header into the basement en route to mopping the crapper and they’ll sic the dogs on you for trespassing.

I was a janitor a couple times. Once after breaking a window in my junior high school, and again after dropping out of college. Spend a little time cleaning up after entitled white folks and you will get good and tired of them and their bullshit, even if you’re entitled white folks yourself.

Thing is, entitled white folks who are pretend hippies playing janitor can always go back to college. Get a haircut and a career. Drop back in, start being part of the problem again.

It’s harder to quit being black, though. Or so I’ve heard.

For quite a while now I’ve been trying to write something thoughtful about the ongoing upheaval, but as entitled white folks I don’t feel qualified. Plus, as regulars here know, I was not, am not, and never will be smart.

As a sprout I was so dumb that I bought the whole “E pluribus unum” bit, all that melting-pot hogwash. Never noticed the asterisk referring to the fine print (*Whites only). It took a good long while for me to realize that a lot of the folks stoking the fire, washing the pot, and mopping the deck had to come and go by the back door while I was digging their music up front.

I didn’t even figure out that my old man was a racist until I was in high school. This is either a testament to his efforts to conceal his bias for fear of passing it on to us kids or more evidence that I was a self-absorbed little prick who didn’t notice much outside the confines of his own skull.

Eventually I caught on, though. And I suppose this means that anybody can, given enough time and patience.

But corporate America’s mad dash to “woke” marketing notwithstanding, it seems to me that white Americans are running out of the former, while black Americans have long since exhausted their supply of the latter. They haven’t given up on the place, the way so many of us have, but this time they’re not just cleaning it up for the white folks.

Just ask Charles M. Blow at The New York Times:

It is exhausting and infuriating and maddening to be forced to fight, always, for what for others is free. It enrages, when you realize that you’re still fighting the same fight that your parents fought, and that their parents fought.

It is an everyday struggle to neither fall into despair nor explode in anger.

So, these people are in the streets, having their moment and having their say. And America would do well to listen and not try to silence them or soothe them.

In fact, America listening and responding to these protests, respecting them, is one of the healthiest things the country can do, because as protester Kimberly Latrice Jones said at the end of her viral video, “They are lucky that what black people are looking for is equality and not revenge.”

• Extra-Credit Bonus Reading: Jon Stewart has popped back up to say a few smart things, and just in time, too. He’s written and directed a film, “Irresistible,” which debuts on June 26. But in his chat with David Marchese at The New York Times Magazine, he talks about much more than that.

Ride or hide?

March 19, 2020

The Soma Double Cross in townie configuration.

Larry and Pat O’B have been discussing the merits of forgoing outdoor cycling for the moment.

There is some merit to the idea of giving it a miss, especially in Italy, where the toll has been particularly fierce and the authorities want everyone indoors save for brief food-gathering expeditions and other critical tasks.

That sort of lockdown has yet to come to Albuquerque. And I’ve been hobbled for nearly a month. So naturally I’m itching to ride.

But. …

Yesterday I walked for a half-hour, covering a little more than a mile, and that felt nice too.

So, I’m thinking that despite what you see on social-distance media about cycling being The Next Big Thing® (always with TNBT®, our people), it might be politic to ride the trainer indoors and save the outdoor cycling for business trips. Like, say, rides to the grocery.

It’s good PR. And it comes with a couple of side benefits.

One, unless you’re me, you are unlikely to fall off your own two feet and become an unwelcome burden to an already-overtaxed medical-industrial complex.

And two, unless you own a cargo bike and a pair of thunder-thighs, it will curb the human impulse to hoard. The average Joe/Jane can only carry so much in a basket or a backpack.

Thoughts? Sound off in comments.

Going nowhere fast

October 19, 2019

The leaves are changing faster than what remains of Il Douche’s mind.

Ever been stuck in the mud, or the snow?

You get out of your rig to evaluate the situation, consider your options, and compute the probabilities. Eventually you arrive at a conclusion.

“Well, shit.”

Everyone else is motoring gaily along and yet here you are, mired to the hubs in a mess of your own making.

“Well, hell.”

And, no, I’m not talking about our national political quagmire, though, yeah, that too.

“Well, fuck.”

This was simply a matter of me taking my eye off the seasonal ball for a second, and suddenly, boom, here it is, half past October and I haven’t ventured beyond the city limits more than a couple of times all year.

Thus there was something of a piling on, envy-wise, this week.

Old Town Bike Shop’s John Crandall and his wife, Kathy, rolled through town on a short motor tour of the Southwest. The neighbors headed north for a weekend in Taos. And Herself, a confirmed non-camper, sallied forth with a friend to overnight with the Sierra Club at Chaco Culture National Historical Park before Il Douche’s pals decide to strip-mine, drill, or otherwise frack the place all to hell and gone.

“Well, goddamnit all anyway.”

This last was particularly irksome. The Chaco junket had come up in casual conversation some time back, but I have the memory of a Mac 128K and some data gets overwritten in fairly short order.

Suddenly the trip got scrawled on the calendar in the kitchen and I found myself pressed into service as quartermaster officer, furiously inspecting, rejecting, and selecting neglected bits of this, that and the other. Camp stoves and cookware; sleeping pads and bags; and various creature comforts of our modern age (the BioLite PowerLight is a charming little torch/lantern/charger combo, particularly so when paired with SiteLights.)

All for a trip that I was not taking.

You know how your dog looks at you when you’re loading up for a car trip? Imagine my expression as we muscled all this gear into the companion’s Honda CR-V. Things they thought they needed and things I thought they needed — including two bicycles, because of course they were taking bicycles too and there was no bike carrier on this auto.

Like Rufo’s little black box in Heinlein’s “Glory Road,” the thing had to be bigger on the inside than the outside. I should’ve taken a picture. Sardines in a can have more elbow room.

The spartan Camp Dog, featuring the North Face Expedition-25, at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, circa 2016.

I was not consulted as regards the tent, and when I caught a glimpse of the companion’s eight-person (!) tent in its sack, I knew immediately what Private Pyle’s body bag must have looked like. Especially if they stuffed Gunny Hartmann in there with him.

There was no time to dig out the old North Face Expedition-25 and provide instruction on setup and takedown, so I kept my lips zipped. But I’ll bet that cavernous sonofabitch got cold last night.

Me, I was toasty in the old king-size with a couple of unauthorized cats. Today is shaping up to be sunny and warm, and I have a new review bike to ride, a Cannondale Topstone 105.

But I’ll be riding it on the same old roads, and you what they say about familiarity.

 

A sinus of the times

April 21, 2018

“Excuse me, you wouldn’t happen to have a Kleenex, would you?”

The local allergists must be making money hand over nose.

Between the wind and the drought my snout spent most of this week looking like an undercooked calzone. Or maybe it’s auditioning for the latest addition to the “Alien” canon in which the beast blasts out of its victims’ faces instead of their chests.

I have not sought medical attention for fear that the whitecoats would wish to keep me, to study. “Hm, maybe evolution is bullshit after all.” Instead I’ve been self-medicating with various pills and potions, irrigating the ol’ calzone with saline solution, and periodically steaming it like a pierogi.

Shit. Now I’m hungry for some reason. Maybe not.

Naturally, I’ve been trying to exercise through this, which is like drinking Sterno to quell that nasty ache in your liver. It’s not too bad while you’re barreling along, strafing buzzworms with snot rockets, getting the blood pumping, but back at the ranch it’s all Kleenex and Carmex, sniffling like a Trump capo getting done to a turn on Bob Mueller’s grill.

Night before last God decided He wanted to be John Bonham for a while and played the drum solo from “Moby Dick” on the neighborhood, all night long, using nothing but wind and whatever wasn’t solidly nailed down.

Cooler weather followed and thus I spent yesterday indoors, returning El Rancho Pendejo to a habitable state in anticipation of Herself’s triumphant return from a five-day confab in Virginia, because I know what’s good for me and an ass-whuppin’ isn’t it. God and John Bonham aren’t the only folks who know how to swing a stick.

Dognition

January 27, 2018

Laying down some hot tracks in the cerebral cortex. Or not.

No Bike Day at the Capitol for Your Humble Narrator. Instead, it’ll be Bike Day in Duke City.

Herself is slowly getting past that cold, though she still has a cough.  She’s made it to work the past couple of days, but is skipping her usual Saturday workout class, the way I’m skipping that trip to Fanta Se.

Goddamnit, he’s set up another checkpoint in the hallway.

Hoping to dodge contagion I’ve been kipping on the far side of our sprawling compound, which annoys Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), who is deeply suspicious of any departure from standard security protocols.

My practice has likewise been upended, and I’ve felt slightly off all week, even more so than usual. Not sick, but not biking, not blogging. Creatively constipated. Irritable. There’s sand in my oyster, but no pearl.

I’ve been trying to get some ignition in my cognition by fiddling with GarageBand, but can’t get any kind of rhythm going (rimshot).

OK, so that wasn’t bad. The oyster bit was OK, too. Maybe I’m on the road to recovery. If not, at least I can get out on the road. …

The Great Zot

July 18, 2017

When The Zot speaks, a wise man listens.

And lo, I did find at last that the work was done, and while it was not good, at least it was Tuesday, and thus it was good enough.

Therefore did I step outside clad in cycling togs, and clutching a bike, and it was then that The Zot spoke to me, saying thusly:

“Boom.”

“The hell you say?” I replied. “The forecast said nothing about electrocution. Some cloudiness, tops.”

And yea, there was a cloud overhead, and it appeared dark and foreboding, yet also exceedingly small, and thus I rode on, the work having been done.

After a time The Zot spoke once more, saying thusly:

“Booooooooom.”

“Fuck right off with that noise,” I replied. “The work is done and this bike I shall ride, lest my inner fat bastard arise from the dead to take dominion over me, and also my new stainless-steel LG refrigerator, and the contents thereof. In any case, you do not appear to be The Great Zot, but only one of the Lesser Zots.”

And thus I rode on, ascending along Simms Road toward the Elena Gallegos picnic grounds.

‘Twas then that The Zot spoke a third and final time.

“BOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM!”

“Oh, ‘BOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM,’ is it?” I replied, putting it in the big ring and wheeling about. “Why didn’t you say so? There’s always something needs doing around the house, especially the inside of it. And it’s not so bad being a fat bastard, I suppose. Must be something on TV. Right, I’m off.”

I’m not dead yet

June 15, 2017

Yeah, I’m still on the right side of the lawn. But that doesn’t mean I’m not covered in deadlines, allergens and whatnot.

The few times I’ve surfaced for a peek at the news my outlook was not improved. It seems everyone’s nuts, armed and lawyering up.

Well, at least I don’t need any lawyers. Not right this moment, anyway.

Meanwhile, as a respite from the tyranny of evil men, have a listen to Hal Walter, who is trying really hard to be the shepherd.

No foolin’

April 1, 2017

The wisteria is going wild out front.

We don’t do April Fool’s Day around El Rancho Pendejo, reasoning that it’s a sort of amateur hour, on a par with New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day and Election Day for the serious drinker.

Plus, I mean, like, damn. Reality is a tough act to follow lately. At any given minute you can point to eleventy-seven things on the Innertubes that seem outrageously improbable and yet are demonstrably true, or demonstrably false and improbably outrageous. Like just about everything else, the high art of bullshittery has been swamped by low-quality mass production.

Meanwhile, it’s 40-something and raining sideways in Duke City, so Herself has passed the morning paying her respects to various elders — phone calls with her dad’s second wife and our tenant in Bibleburg, FaceTime with her mom — and just now she hung up to scamper off to yoga, which can be done indoors.

Cycling indoors is more of a stretch — for me, anyway — and so I may go for a short run.

I’m also contemplating a sweeping purge of the family electronics. We have far too much of that crap around here, thanks to someone’s penchant for collecting Apple products, and it’s long past time some of them went away.

I mean, who needs an 800 MHz G3 iBook from 2002, or a 1.5 GHz G4 PowerBook from ’05? A scroll-wheel iPod from the same year? A 2011 iPad 2 that peaked with iOS9? They still work and all, unlike democracy, but they’re about as cutting-edge as a soup spoon.

The elderly iPod came in handy when I still rode the trainer, but see paragraph four. Come to think about it, there’s that stationary trainer cluttering up my meditation room-slash-podcasting studio. And those furshlugginer heart-rate monitors! Everything must go, going out of business going out of business. …

Jailhouse rocks with turkey

March 11, 2017

I’m goin’ down. I’m goin’ down, down, down, down, down.

I’m still not very interested in what I have to say about anything, possibly because I just wrapped one deadline and am wrangling another.

Plus the weather has been, in a word, top notch (OK, so that’s two words, but you get the idea). So I’ve been spending a whole lot of my free time outdoors. Yesterday I ran in the morning and rode in the afternoon. Fat city, is what.

So while I slack, feel free to kick back and sing along with some of today’s greatest hits, unearthed between bouts of work and play.

• If You Don’t Have a Dime, Don’t Do the Crime: Deep-pockets offenders can buff the rough edges off their jailhouse stays in Southern California. Says a guy paying $100 a night for a 90-day stretch for driving while smacked (it was his third DUI): “I’m really happy I was able to come here. But you need the money to do it.” Everybody sing!

• Make America Gravel Again! The cash-strapped folks in Omaha City Hall have been “reclaiming” some crumbling roads — if your idea of reclamation involves helping them crumble all the way down to gravel to cut upkeep costs. Kids quit riding their bikes on one street after the asphalt was torn out, said one retiree living next to what is now a dirt road a block from a busy Starbucks. “During the summer, it’s just a dust bowl,” she said. Everybody sing!

• It’s Nobody’s Business But the Turks’. Seems Mike Flynn was working for two turkeys at once during last year’s pestilential election. Which one came first? Sounds like a turkey-and-egg tale, or maybe a porno. Everybody sing!

No foolin’

April 1, 2016
The 2009 iMac, resurrected (however temporarily) for service as a podcasting tool.

The 2009 iMac, resurrected (however temporarily) for service as a podcasting tool.

Consider this your shelter from the storm that is April Fool’s Day.

Here at Mad Dog Media we do the perpetual tee hee, 24/7 and 365. As George Carlin noted on “Carlin at Carnegie Hall”:

“I am a professional comedian. As opposed to the kind you see at work all day long.”

To be honest, it’s been something of a pro-am week here at Ye Olde Gagge Factorie. I had professional obligations to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, and despite being sidetracked by the death of one of my favorite authors I managed to, as we say out here in the West, “Git ‘er done.” It was not unlike shitting a full case of broken whiskey bottles.

During rest intervals I reacquainted myself with the ins and outs of podcasting. This was strictly amateur hour.

Longtime victims of the blog may recall that I’ve dabbled in audio a time or two, but it’s been a couple years since my last episode of Radio Free Dogpatch. I even pulled the link off the site. It felt like driving past the same shuttered storefront every day.

GarageBand '11, v6.0.5, had a dedicated "Podcast" option. The "improved" version, not so much.

GarageBand ’11, v6.0.5, had a dedicated “Podcast” option. The “improved” version, not so much.

I started out recording with Felt Tip’s Sound Studio, an application I got for free, I think, maybe with a hardware purchase from Other World Computing. Then I tried Audacity, another gratis bit of software, and finally moved over to Apple’s GarageBand, which I considered the least user-friendly of the three. But it comes with every Mac, so there you have it. And there was a dedicated “Podcast” selection in the startup menu, plus you could pull jingles and other sound effects out of the library it shared with iMovie.

Well, that’s all history. If anything GarageBand is even less user- and podcast-friendly than it was before. And I’m a couple years dumberer. So, yeah, there was a little bit of the wailing, the gnashing of teeth and the rending of the garments as we became reacquainted. It was like running into the smartypants kid from high school, the one you hated, and finding out that he had landed a job providing a service you needed.

Once I got back up to speed with recording myself as a solo act, I studied up on adding additional voices (and no, not the ones in my head).

The fun part was learning how to record a Skype call and import the audio into GarageBand. Any old scribbler has spent a fair amount of time recording phone interviews, but a painstaking transcription traditionally followed and the quotes gleaned thereby were worked into what we used to call “a story,” or “copy,” as in, “O’Grady, where the fuck is my copy? News editor has a two-inch hole on D42 and the slot man is drunk again.” Journalism 101, right there in the tar pits, next to the brontosaurus.

Here at the FutureFair a modern Bozo (or Bozoette) wants to add the actual audio from that chat to a podcast. It’s a breeze, thanks to the brainiacs at Ecamm. Their Call Recorder records both sides of the Skype call directly to your Mac, and a widget lets you split the recording into individual tracks. Another widget converts those files into mp3 and you drag them sumbitches into GarageBand for editing. It’s easier than slipping a fabricated quote past a drunk slot man.

Anyway, my man Hal Walter and I did a short test drive yesterday. The wheels didn’t fall off, and nothing exploded, so our next attempt will be an actual podcast. No foolin’. Don’t touch that dial.