Archive for the ‘Plague’ Category

Goin’ down

December 31, 2020

In the loo and adieu for you.

Hoo-boy. Pee-yew. That’n looks like a double-flusher to me. Might have to break out the plunger. Or a stick of DuPont Extra.

But it’s gotta go, come hell or high water, and I won’t miss it once it’s gone.

Twenty-fuckin’-20.

We put an old woman in a home. My foot in a splint. My cat in an urn. And our lives on hold.

We’re alive to bitch about it, which has to count for something. [Insert thunderous sound of knocking on wood here.] Plenty of other people aren’t.

Also, I finally made it to Social Security, so, yay for me. Plus Herself remains on the clock in a real big way, so, bonus. We want for nothing. Call it a lamp so that we need not curse the darkness from beneath our designer masks.

It feels greedy of me to miss my cat. Running. Road trips. Hot springs. Random acts of shopping. Long bicycle rides. Stand-up comedy. My favorite non-alcoholic beer. Bookstores. Mexican restaurants. Living in a country that helped defeat fascism, not resurrect it.

You know. The little things.

Still, I miss them. I do. And I don’t expect to get a lot of them back just like that, with a simple change of calendars, or administrations.

Especially my cat. Not unless Stephen King gets involved, and that’s a bridge too far for me. Turkish v1.0 could be scary enough.

We already have plenty to be scared of, thanks all the same.

Nevertheless, here we are, on the threshold of a new year. That I am not optimistic is not helpful. Time to show the affirming flame. We must love one another or die.

More, late*

December 21, 2020

A little light and a lot more tunnel.

“Pandemic Deal by Congress Provides Economic Relief, for Now,” reports The New York Times.

But it’s too little, too late, and perhaps the last of Uncle Sammy’s pennies in the ol’ tin cup for a while, adds The Old Grey Hoor, in an analysis by Ben Casselman and Jim Tankersley.

The injection of money comes months too late for tens of thousands of failed businesses, however, and it may not be enough to sustain unemployed workers until the labor market rebounds. Moreover, it could be the last help from Washington the economy gets anytime soon.

Call me cynical, but I think we need some brighter bulbs on this job.

*Apologies to Chris in the Morning.

Climb every mountain

December 15, 2020

The southern end of the Candelaria Bench Trail.

My work, such as it is, is done for the year.

Actually, I’ve already shipped the first cartoon of the New Year to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. That hole in the back of the book won’t fill itself, after all. Especially since all the hate mail goes up front.

I should’ve celebrated with a bike ride, but I didn’t feel like pulling on all that winter kit, like some elderly knight gearing up for a quest. So instead I went for a short march through the foothills, figuring I’d finish breaking in the low-rise Merrell hikers I’ve mostly been using for street wear.

Looking west along Comanche.

El Rancho Pendejo sits at the bottom of a cul-de-sac and endures considerable shade on its eastern and southern sides, especially when the sun is low in the sky, so I always think it’s going to be colder outside than it really is. And our little weather station said 32 degrees with a brisk wind out of the north.

But once I got out in it I enjoyed myself immensely, in large part because it’s harder for the shit-flinging monkeys of the media to draw a bead on a moving target.

The lightweight boots felt great on the trail, so I scampered up a couple short climbs just for giggles. While I was up there I took a nice long sight along Comanche at all the country I haven’t been able to visit this year.

Hey, at least I was outside. Forty-five minutes, an hour, hour and a half … they’re not much, these little expeditions of mine, but they’re a whole lot better than nothing at all. A small thing, but oh, how very, very necessary.

And now that the vaccines are rolling out, maybe it won’t be long before the people who’ve been locked down for real, for months, in nursing homes, group residences, and assisted-living facilities, will be able to get a breath of fresh air. Even if they have to take it through a mask, in a wheelchair, on a sidewalk.

Let them eat shit

December 10, 2020

“Be Best?” How about, “Begone?”

So I’m standing in the kitchen after a morning of bad dreams, idly thumbing through the news on my phone as the toaster mutters to itself, when I stumble across these two items back to back on The Washington Post app:

• Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic. One manager interviewed said he usually doesn’t call the John Laws, but instead tells the offenders not to come back.

“It’s become much harder during the pandemic,” he said. “People will say, ‘I was just hungry.’ And then what do you do?”

• Dismissing health concerns, State Department treats 200 guests to holiday drinks, tours and leftover “Be Best” swag. The hoopla included a tour of the White House holiday decorations, beverages at Blair House, and “Be Best” merch’ from the phenomenally unremarkable anti-bullying initiative by the First Plagiarist, Countess Malaria Dracula.

“It’s time to get rid of the leftovers,” said one official.

Indeed it is. There’s never a guillotine around when you need one. Jan. 20 can’t come soon enough.

A rare prayer for a friend

December 5, 2020

“Mons” spreading the good news at WLPO FM.
Photo provided to (and liberated from) The Catholic Post.

• Editor’s note: This is a guest post from my old comrade Charles Pelkey, first published on Facebook. One of the people who helped make his Live Update Guy operation so much fun has fallen victim to The Bug® and is in a bad way. Msgr. Richard Soseman’s essays were a highlight of our coverage of the grand tours, which often leaned more toward low comedy than high art. “Mons,” as he came to be known, put a high gloss on our rattly old jalopy. I wish him a speedy return to health and his ministry, and I hope you will too.

By Charles Pelkey

My friend, Richard “Mons” Soseman, is currently under sedation and on a ventilator because of a COVID-19 infection. We first met while his ministry brought him to the Holy City in Rome.  The Monsignor (hence the moniker “Mons”) has since returned to the U.S., now serving as pastor at Saint Joseph’s in Peru, Illinois.

Mons is an avid cycling fan, which is how we got to know each other. He often wrote beautiful and detailed essays to be included in daily coverage on LiveUpdateGuy.com. He twice hosted my son at the Vatican in Rome over the course of several years.

The monsignor on the job in Rome, hosting visitor Philip Pelkey.

Mons would light candles in Saint Peter’s Basilica for me when I was taking finals in law school, during the bar exam, and when I developed breast cancer. I finally told him, “You know, Padre, I have a confession: I am not a man of faith.”

Not missing a beat, he quickly said: “Oh, Charles, I already knew that. It’s okay. I am,” and he went on lighting candles just as before.

Now it’s our turn. Please keep this sweet, sweet man in your thoughts — or prayers — as he fights the biggest challenge of his life. Pray, light candles, send good vibes, but above all, keep Mons in your thoughts.

Mons took the risks of COVID seriously and took as many precautions as possible. Nonetheless, he caught the virus and is now quite ill. Please be careful out there.

Godspeed, Padre. A lot of us out here love you.

Chile con cooties

November 29, 2020

Cooties, boogity boogity boogity.

Weird dreams last night. More like this morning, actually.  Four straight days of red and green chile will do that to you.

Herself got up at 3:30 for some reason. I made the usual profane inquiries without achieving enlightenment and soon drifted back into a troubled sleep.

I found myself in our old place in Bibleburg and there were bugs crawling everywhere. Great big gnarly muthas that went sploosh if you stomped ’em. Real sandal-soakers.

Don’t suppose we need to engage a brain mechanic to explain that one.

The Clampdown, v2.1

November 19, 2020

The gub’nah had to both tighten and clarify The Clampdown 2.0 just days after it debuted because (a) people are stupid, and (2) see (a).

This is going to be one of our biggest problems as we endure Bug Breath, In The Year of the Plague: Democracy and dummies don’t mix.

Lord, am I ever glad I managed to surf the free-range-rumormongery wave smack dab onto Social Security Beach. People just don’t read anymore, probably because too many of them can’t, and thus my services are mostly no longer required.

If the educational system and the Fourth Estate were spared the machinations of the political-industrial complex, we might not be where we are at the moment, which is crouched in the valley under our tiny parasols, awaiting the shit monsoon, while our betters in the mountaintop trophy homes trade us like junk bonds.

Still, you don’t need to be a pro copy jock to take a casual glance at the gub’nah’s public health order and see that, hmm, yes, you can still buy a jug of Skeeter’s Sidewalk Softener in person from The Beernut’s Booze ’n’ Bullets Boutique, but no, sorry, you’re gonna have to depend upon the Christian charity of the Internets and the Brown Truck Dude to acquire that plastic Jeebus for your dashboard.

Now, I know, retail represents a big chunk of the economy, both in terms of GDP and total employment. And it’s nice to get out of the house for an hour, wander the aisles of FreeDumb Hardware & Nail Salon, touching this and that with an ooh and an ahh, maybe buy a Chinese belt sander to tackle those irksome calluses on our tootsies.

But for the sake of public health, maybe it’s time we started thinking about what we want versus what we need.

Do we need a Starbucks, a Mickey D’s, a Shell station, and a Walgreens holding down every corner of every intersection? I don’t see that one in the Constitution. I checked. Because I can read.

‘Beer’ me

November 16, 2020

The only fake beer worth drinking.

When the gub’nah announced The Clampdown v2.0 on Friday I didn’t think much about it.

Seemed obvious it was coming, the grownup equivalent of your mom delivering a dope-slap to the back of your head for acting the fool. I can see one of those coming a mile away and my mom’s been dead since 1995.

Since I’ve actually been minding my manners during The Plague, following Michelle’s Big Book of Rules and whatnot, I figured to just keep on keepin’ on. No dope-slap for me, thanks all the same. Lookit me, all like being a good boy, an’ shit.

I’d done my chores, gotten outdoors for a bit of essential aerobic exercise, and endured the gub’nah’s weekly video tongue-lashing. It was definitely beer-thirty. But I was out of my preferred fake ale, and so, with some spicy tacos and taters on the dinner menu, I figured I’d toddle down to Total Wine and fetch me some more.

Total Wine is your basic one-stop shop. They have my Clausthaler Dry Hopped and Herself’s La Vieille Ferme rosé. Zip in and out like a great big road runner. Meep meep!

Assuming you’re popping round at some oddball time and day, that is — not at 3:30 on a Friday just as the gub’nah is announcing that come Monday, the retail drawbridge will be pulled up and the moat restocked with alligators, piranha fish, and electric eels.

Holy hell. The parking lot looked like Shea Stadium during that 1965 Beatles concert, and inside was worse. Plus they were completely out of my near-beer.

I managed to escape with my Subaru intact and motored on over to Kelly’s Liquors in the Mountain Run Shopping Center, the second of just three options for Clausthaler Dry Hopped in the Duke City, Wholeazon Amafoods being the third.

That parking lot was a hair less batshit, but only thanks to greater capacity; it serves an entire shopping center, with a Smith’s, a Walgreens, and all manner of other retail opportunities. But there was a big ol’ boy standing at Kelly’s door directing traffic in and out of the shop, of which there was plenty.

I took a deep masked breath, shot to the cooler for a case of hoppiness, paid, and beat feet. On the way to the Subaru I heard the big fella respond to a question about what might happen come Monday with, “Naw, we’re an essential service.”

Boy howdy. I’ll drink to that. As long as the gub’nah will let me, that is.

Bang-up job, New Mexico

November 14, 2020

Sunrises and sunsets will be exempt from restrictions
during The Clampdown.

Welp, the gub’nah made it official on Friday the 13th: New Mexico is shit out of luck.

Starting Monday we’re back to where we were in April, more or less: non-essential businesses and nonprofits must cease “in-person activities;” essential businesses (including bicycle repair shops) may operate with restrictions and a reduced workforce; and all New Mexicans “are instructed to shelter in place” save for “the most essential trips for health, safety, and welfare.”

I’d like to give a shoutout to all the fuckwits who have been insisting on strutting around with their faces hanging out, throwing parties, hootenannies, and jamborees, and otherwise acting the fool.

A second shoutout goes to all the poor sods at USPS, UPS, and FedEx who are going to get hernias, sciatica, and flat feet delivering Internet purchases throughout the Land of Enchantment as local retailers suck the bleachy end of a wet mop for the next couple of weeks.

Finally, lo siento mucho to everyone who has to try to enforce this edict, badged or unbadged. I anticipate a few tense moments along the way and a fella can’t find ammo anywhere at any price.

Look for a strong uptick in the online sale of items that do not require a background check or waiting period, such as baseball bats, ax handles, and tire irons.

Toast, master

October 25, 2020

A one-pound mini-loaf from our new-used Toastmaster Bread Box.

We missed the Big Breadmaking Boom of the Apocalypse.

By the time we thought, “Hmm, might be nice to start making our own bread,” all the ingredients had become as rare as plague-free toadies among Adolf Twitler’s Brown Noses.

Anyway, I am not a baker. Too much math, too hands-on, too much finicky attention required by too many niggling little details, especially at altitude. It’s classical, and while I appreciate the art form, I’m more of a jazz kind of guy, prone to improbable improvisations. Faced with a binary choice — right way vs. wrong way — I’ll say, “No way,” and walk away.

Herself makes the occasional pan of cornbread, but it’s tough to stuff a wedge of cornbread in the toaster.

The device at work.

We had an automatic breadmaker once, a gift from my sister. It was a Toastmaster Bread Box and cranked out serviceable loaves of whole-wheat goodness when we lived up near Weirdcliffe and acquiring proper groceries involved a 110-mile road trip at minimum.

Once we moved back to what passed for civilization the breadmaker went away in some unremarkable fashion, there being a Whole Paycheck, a Wild Oats, and other fine establishments doing the baking so we didn’t have to, even with machinery. You could get a loaf from the hippies at Mountain Mama that made you feel like a beaver gnawing a tree.

But here in the Year of Living Antiseptically our favorite English muffins abruptly vanished without warning, not unlike democracy, science, and common sense. And as I noted earlier, by the time we started weighing our options there were none, and nothing to weigh them with, either.

Herself made a few pans of cornbread, which was fine, unless we wanted toast. Locally made tortillas we have aplenty. But goddamnit all anyway, sometimes a fella just wants a slice of something toasted with butter and jam while he enjoys his morning coffee and tsk-tsks at the news.

I priced modern breadmakers and after recovering from the coronary remembered that there was no yeast to be had anyway.

Something is coming to call, and I don’t think it’s bringing bread.

And then, a miracle occurred.

After an unauthorized stop at a neighborhood garage sale Herself came home bearing — wait for it — a Toastmaster Bread Box.

A lightly used Model 1172X, it looks exactly like our old one save for the kneading blade, which seems larger.

The cost: $20. Even a senior citizen on a fixed income can bear that fiscal burden.

With yeast suddenly available again, we were in the breadmaking bidness. The inaugural loaf was kind of meh due to a poor choice of recipes (molasses, barf). But the next two, plucked straight from the owner’s manual, were perfect.

Now it’s all toasty around here in the morning. And just in time, too. Winter is coming.