No groundhogs here

February 2, 2019

You’d think these dudes had engines, the way they stay aloft forever. But they’re just riding the thermals like big ol’ hawks.

Well, there was me. These daredevils may have been tooling around above the Sandias like Icarus and Daedalus, but yours truly kept his landing gear on the deck. I saw my shadow, too, and you know what that means. Bundle up.

But for today, temps hit the mid-50s, and basically anyone who wasn’t chained to a concrete bunk in the Graybar Hotel was out and about, doing something.

“I’m trying to get my bike legs on!” wailed one rider as I yielded a narrow section of trail.

“I feel your pain,” I replied. I’ve been running the trails, but riding the road; this was my first trail ride of 2019.

Ordinarily I shun the trails on sunny weekends, reasoning that I get to play pretty much whenever I please while the cube farmers have a limited window of opportunity. But it’s been a long week and I felt I needed a change of pace.

Speaking of which, there will be no Radio Free Dogpatch this week, for a number of perfectly defensible reasons. I had a notion, but it ran off with one of the voices in my head. I hope they didn’t get married. We don’t need any children from that quarter.

And in other news …

January 31, 2019

VN and BRAIN, together at last.

… we have this. More later.

Grounds for dismissal

January 31, 2019

Lumpy the Bedbug, a.k.a. Miss Mia Sopaipilla,
practices her duck-and-cover.

Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) displays his enthusiasm for another wealthy egomaniac at the helm.

I took a poll of registered felines this morning: “Is former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz a viable candidate for president of the United States?”

The results are as you see.

Of course, the respondents had yet to enjoy the morning’s venti salted caramel mocha frappucino with five pumps of frap roast, four pumps of caramel sauce, four pumps of caramel syrup, three pumps of mocha, three pumps of toffee nut syrup, double blended with extra whipped cream. So the results could be skewed.

Or maybe the candidate is. In describing Schultz as “more of a bore than a monster,” a one-percenter who could draw a few gazillion from petty cash to run as an independent, split the anti-Cheeto vote “and re-elect the dumber version of himself currently in the White House,” Matt Taibbi sums it all up nicely at Rolling Stone: “Is anything in the world more dangerous than a bored billionaire?”

The call is coming from inside the (White) House!

January 29, 2019

“Top threat to the U.S. … hmm, lemme think for a minute. Can you give me a hint? ‘Fat, dumb, mean, orange?’ Nope, doesn’t ring a bell.”

This should be a short hearing. I mean, it should be. Doesn’t mean it will be.

• Update: Il Douche’s own minions seem to think he is full of orange shit, from clodhoppers to combover. It’s a helluva commentary on your fabled deal-making and management skills when your people are saying — out loud and in public — that you’re building Walls® in all the wrong places.

Onewheel to rule them all

January 27, 2019

I gotta get out more often.

After a couple enjoyable hours on the ol’ bikeroo I decided that what I needed was a plate of chicken enchiladas in green prepared by somebody who was not me, so off I went to Los Cuates.

“OK,” says Charlie at Two Wheel Drive, “I’m gonna start framing pictures then. See how you like it!”

On the way there I saw a guy riding one of the dinguses in the video up top. I dismissed it as another acid flashback, but here it is on the Innertubes, so it must be real.

On the way back I saw this frame shop, which is considering branching out into new services (hey, a frame is a frame, amirite?).

And on Central near San Mateo, where you never know what the hell you’re gonna see, I saw a couple folks waving signs for a charity car wash … to raise funds for a funeral.

There has to be a story behind that last one, and I hope to Christ I never hear it.

The wrong Bozos keep getting kicked off the bus

January 26, 2019

Here’s a golden oldie, from my short stint at The Arizona Daily Star. I didn’t stick around to get the sack; I shot out of that place like a rat out of an aqueduct.

As long as we have a cartoon president, how ’bout drawing him up a cartoon Wall®?

We have the technology. Also, the manpower. Newspapers are shitcanning Pulitzer-winners right, left, and center, among them Steve Benson, who was the editorial cartoonist at the Arizona Republic back in 1980, when I scribbled the occasional ’toon for The Arizona Daily Star.

This is nothing new, of course. A J-school prof warned me in the Seventies that there were maybe a thousand editorial cartoonists, tops, and that I might consider expanding my portfolio a tad. This was excellent advice. Because their numbers kept shrinking like a spider on a hotplate, to hundreds and finally dozens.

It was nearly impossible to even make a start Back in the Day® because what few cartoonists there were could be had for chump change via syndication. So the editor of the Frog Dick (S.C.) Daily Lily Pad & Croaker could have Pat Oliphant every day for the price of a tepid cup of Maxwell House at Lulu’s Lunch Bucket.

I still got to draw cartoons, as you know. But I did it as a reporter, as a copy editor, as an assistant feature editor, and like that there. On the side. Onliest time I ever got hired as an honest-to-God cartoonist was when that Boulder-based journal of competitive cycling decided I was too dim to be their managing editor but funny enough to scribble gags about fat masters, dope fiends, and Suits.

In a few short years there won’t be any of us. Robots will be drawing all the cartoons. And you won’t get any of the jokes, because they will be by robots, for robots.

“Ha ha,” they will say. “That’s very logical.”

Let them eat loans

January 25, 2019

Wilbur Ross, The Man in the $600 Embroidered Slippers, doesn’t understand why federal workers idled and/or unpaid by Darth Cheeto might choose to visit food banks instead of the other sort.

Well, for an appetizer, even idled and/or unpaid federal workers like to eat at least once a day.

For the main course, unlike regular banks, food banks don’t require collateral, charge interest or repo your lunchbox.

And finally, for dessert, idled and/or unpaid federal workers know they won’t have to look at some bogus billionaire wearing $600 embroidered slippers while doing business with the food bank.

Yes, yes, yes, it’s another low-fat, low-interest episode from Radio Free Dogpatch. Bon appétit.

And remember, Wilbur, the Big Dog always eats last.

PLAY RADIO FREE DOGPATCH

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with a Shure SM58 mic and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder and edited in Apple’s Garageband on a 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “Stay Away,” from www.zapsplat.com. That dog enjoying a meal comes from peridactyloptrix at www.freesound.org. And “Ahoy, polloi,” lifted from “Caddyshack” using Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack.

Behold The Wall®

January 23, 2019

Something else I can do better than King Donald the Short-fingered:
Get a Wall® built.

What’s all this fuss about a Wall®?

I had a Wall® done yesterday. Easy peasy. Spanish-speakers were involved, though they declined to pay for my border-security project. And it wasn’t a Wall® from scratch, but rather enhancements to an existing Wall®.

But still, as you see, here we are. And nobody had to work for free, take on a second job, or go to a food bank over it.

Degrees of difficulty

January 22, 2019

It wasn’t what I’d call warm on Saturday, but the Big Yellow Ball was out in a blue, blue sky, so I had that going for me, which was nice.

Hmph. After six consecutive days of healthful outdoor exercise I thought I’d award myself a day of rest yesterday.

Should’ve kept an eye on the weather wizards. ’Cause today, it’s snowing again. Bah, etc.

Happily, I wrapped and shipped the latest “Quick Spin” video to Adventure Cyclist on Sunday, so I won’t have to check the integrity of those Jamis fenders today. Instead, I can go for a short run in the snow, see if I can find a new place to fall down.

And it could be worse. It could not be snowing in January, and come June I would be bitching about being on fire.

Or I could be an unpaid federal employee standing in line near the Trump International Hotel in DeeCee, waiting for some free food.

Radha Muthiah, president of the Capital Area Food Bank, tells The New York Times that her organization has had to reassess its targets, which now include people “making upward of $60,000 a year.”

“What was more interesting than the number were the types of calls: individuals who had never had to request food,” she said of those contacting the food bank. “Many had donated, but had never expected to be on the receiving end.

“What this experience is showing them is that so many of us live paycheck to paycheck. Any time of emergency — whether a medical emergency or something else — how quickly one can become vulnerable.”

Some federales are hunting other work, whatever they can find — babysitting, driving for Uber, substitute teaching. This may or may not keep other Americans from landing those jobs.

Notes FDA employee David Arvelo: “Who’s going to hire me not knowing how long I’m going to stick around?”

One common thread running through all these stories involves infernal combustion: people who suddenly can’t afford gas, insurance, car payments, whatever. The humble bicycle looks awfully good by comparison. Unless, of course, it’s snowing.

Sunset with a side of Aurora

January 19, 2019

The Big Yellow Ball returned to the sky yesterday, as did the color blue.

We had a lovely bit of color yesterday afternoon to close out the work week.

If we’re lucky we might be back to what passes for normal around here, weather-wise, for the next few days, anyway.

The Jamis Aurora Elite, ready for its closeup.

This would be useful, as I have a Quick Spin video to finish for the Adventurous Cyclists. It concerns the Jamis Aurora Elite, which I last reviewed in June 2011.

It’s surprising how little the bike has changed over the years, and that goes double for the price, which has been pegged at $1,699 for the better part of quite some time.

That ain’t bad for a steel bike with rear rack and fenders. A small bright spot in an otherwise dark time.