Food for thought

November 10, 2022

“Only a bonehead would try to predict what happens next. So, yeah — ‘Reply hazy, try again later.'”

“What do you think about the election?” the waitress asked.

“I’m glad it’s over,” I replied.

It’s not, of course. And it won’t be for a while yet, maybe not until just before the 188th Congress gets sworn in on Jan. 3, 2023.

When we finally get there, more than a few of the noobs — and plenty of the holdovers — will kick off the session by lying through their artificially brightened teefers as they take the oath of office.

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

But before we cross that crumbling bridge over the Styx we have many a long, hard mile to walk, through a wall of sound that even Phil Spector would deem overwrought. Enduring the media’s dissection of the 2022 midterms will be like trudging through an animal shelter that takes in only werewolves, banshees, and howler monkeys, and whose keeper is La Llorona.

The National Kindergarten for the Criminally Insane may change hands after Jan. 3, but you probably won’t get bitten if you keep your hands away from the cage.

If the inmates do wind up in charge of the asylum, Sleepy Joe will get carpal tunnel from ripping their frantically scribbled Crayola fever dreams off the Capitol refrigerator. But he has a generous medical plan. And once he’s past the first few impeachments the rest of his shift shouldn’t be any worse than a casual lunch with Hannibal Lecter.

Speaking of lunch, the green chile chicken enchiladas at El Patio were delicious and the service cheery and superb, all as per usual. I paid my tab, left a preposterous tip, and took the scenic route home through the North Valley, with a brisk autumn wind robbing the trees of their gold.

Erection Day

November 8, 2022

“Bad morning, Mr. O’Grady. We trust your wait was unpleasant
and overlong. Sauron will see you now.”

Looks like Mordor out there, doesn’t it?

High cloudiness robbed us of our full moon/total lunar eclipse this morning, and the Repugs will take everything else this evening, if you hew to the conventional wisdom.

Kevin Drum, who is a reasonable fellow for a lefty blogger, argues from time to time that the United States is a center-right country and that Democrats “need to moderate if they want to win over centrist voters.”

Maybe. But I think the Donks have been trying to be Repug Lite for a while now, to no particular purpose, and no matter how far they tiptoe to the right, they will always be at least one long goosestep behind.

“You got to put the kibble over where the slow dogs can get some,” as Roy Blount Jr. advised in “Why It Looks Like I Will Be the Next President of the United States, I Reckon.”

And the Donks do, bless their hearts. But it’s generally a sprinkle of some vegan non-GMO Oregon Tilth Certified Organic small-batch free-range hemp kibble, in a bespoke ceramic bowl, with 10 percent of the profits divided among Planned Parenthood, PETA, and the ACLU. And the marketing thereof — why this is a good thing and not just a stone saucer full of sawdust and spider webs — is polysyllabic and ponderous and even harder to swallow than the chow.

So the slow dogs bite the hand that feeds them, and then they scamper over to where the loud fella with the red tie is th’owin’ the raw meat on the ground.

Well sir, before long the slow dogs aren’t feeling so good and the national yard is a monument to canine intestinal distress and the loud fella with the red tie has wandered off somewhere to holler into a microphone about how everything’s gone to shit and the libs are to blame.

And so the libs trudge into the national yard with shovels and bags, clean up the mess and doctor the slow dogs while the loud fella with the red tie hollers at them through a bullhorn from the other side of the fence because that’s where the shit isn’t.

And before you can say “FREE DUMB!” the only thing any of the mutts can think about is how good that raw meat tasted.

Here comes the night

November 7, 2022

Trumpkin.

When did The New York Times add a Dire Portents section?

This morning, Mother Times hit me with this:

“During the early hours on Tuesday, darkness will slip across the face of the moon before it turns a deep blood red. No, it isn’t an Election Day omen — it’s one of the most eye-catching sights in the night sky.”

Not an omen. Ho ho ho, etc. As if. Fake news!

Then why was the moon a decadent orange during the early hours of this morning as it slipped behind a neighbor’s house?

And why were there Trumpkins scattered along my hiking route this afternoon? I saw at least three, among them the one leering at you from the top of this post.

And finally, why is KUNM bitch-slapping me with “Here Comes the Night?” right this minute? And not the good one, by Them, but some two-bit tosser’s take on the 1964 classic (featuring Van Morrison).

“Well, here it comes … here comes the night.”

So soon? I’m not ready for the night. What else you got, Ma?

“How to Follow the News Without Spiraling into Despair?”

How quintessentially capitalistic of you, Ma. Sell me the disease with one hand and the treatment with the other. A mindfulness methadone clinic for the hopeless news addict. This morning’s shaman is this afternoon’s snake-oil salesman.

Here comes the night? Got a news flash for ya, Ma. It’s already here.

Just chillin’

November 4, 2022

Weather, outside, frightful, etc.

Sorel, God of Cold Feet, paid us a surprise visit last night.

Hard to believe the glider boyos were cruising the friendly skies just the other day.

The day before Halloween Herself and I saw three gliders working the thermals near the Menaul trailhead.

But Halloween has come and gone. We “fall back” on Sunday, and then slide at high speed into Thanksgiving, winter solstice, and Christmas. It ain’t always sandals-and-shorts weather, even in The Duck! City.

I’m not ready. I never am. I used to race in this shit? When? Was I still on drugs?

Herself is made of sterner stuff. She bundled up and sallied forth with a fellow Democrat to distribute campaign literature.

Comrade Eeyore is likewise on the hustings, telling The Guardian that Democrats “have not done a good enough job of reaching out to young people and working-class people and motivating them to come out and vote in this election.”

Hey, comrade, Herself is no passenger in this garbage scow. Ain’t her fault the officers are all rumdums.

Being of the Vanguard, I was needed here at Headquarters to propagandize over hot tea and a Taos Bakes bar. Arise, ye prisoners of starvation, and fetch me another mug of tea.

While I await the Revolution I’m also baking a loaf of bread so I don’t have to stand in line for it like the proles.

Here in a bit I’ll go for a run, if only because I never know when I might have to. It’s all this weather is good for. You can’t ski in it, or make snowballs with it, so you might as well pound ground, keep the muscle memory sharp.

The forecast for the day after Election Day is not encouraging. We may be feeling the heat, but not in a good way. I’m thinking of feet held to the fire.

It’s in the can

November 3, 2022

Rounding ’em up.

Well, we’ve gone and done it again.

I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps to avoid the full moon/total lunar eclipse on Election Day? Cthulhu only knows who — or what — might turn up at the polling place come Tuesday.

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”

“He sure does, Gustav old scout, and let’s hope he stays there.”

Of course, we could’ve just skipped voting entirely. Plenty of people do.

Others pick losers and then claim the game is rigged, try to tip over the table, send the cards and chips flying.

You pays your money
and you takes your choice.

Clearly these knuckleheads have never been to Las Vegas. There are always losers. If there were not, the Paiutes would still hold the mortgage on the place.

And has anyone else noticed that when these gardeners spreading their fertilizer around the Tree of Liberty actually win, they’re totally cool with it?

“Huh? ‘Stop the steal?’ How’d you like to stop some lead, fella? Looks like Hillary forgot to hit ‘save’ after she had the Illuminati reprogram the Dominion machines for the Chicoms, huh? (singing) Gonna hang George Soros from a sour apple tree. …”

And the game continues.

There are times when it feels that it’s not the arm you’re working on that cherry-popping bandit in Uncle Sam’s Casino. But it’s the only game in town.

And what the hell? If you don’t play, you can’t win.

Halloweenie

November 1, 2022

Upsadaisy. …

All Hallows’ Eve at El Rancho Pendejo was a total blowout, but not the kind one hopes for.

Some aspect of PNM’s power project in the ’hood unplugged half the cul-de-sac, including our place.

Around midmorning I saw a few trucks pull in and park, disgorging their hard-hatted contents into a neighbor’s yard. And so when a couple minutes later The Compound went dark I trotted out into my yard and spied them beavering away at some task beyond the wall.

“Hey, guys, the power’s out here,” I sez to ’em I sez.

“Oopsie,” they sez to me they sez, or something very much not like that.

Over we go.

Long story short, an autopsy found a transformer had been terminated with extreme prejudice and would not arise in three days or even three years. It would have to be replaced.

In case you were wondering, this is a tad more complicated than swapping in a new fuse after you try to run the box fan and hair dryer simultaneously in the ol’ singlewide.

The defunct transformer was in some impossible cranny in the yard, because of course it was, and the hard hats couldn’t just sherpa a new one in there. Superman was taking a meeting with James Gunn and Peter Safran at Warner Bros-DC, and the Hulk said he wouldn’t work on Halloween.

“This is gonna take some doing,” grumbled one hard hat, giving me the side-eye. Hey, boss, I didn’t hammer a stake topped with a Hillary 2024 placard through your transformer’s heart. I was camped in my office, pounding out the fake news, and free of charge, too.

Or I was until the power went out, anyway.

But I keed, I keed.

What happened next was nothing short of amazing.

We — or at least I — have grown accustomed to the “sucks to be you” school of customer service. “We can pencil you in for between midnight and 4 a.m. on Feb. 31st, if that works for you, or even if it doesn’t.” That sort of thing.

But these dudes got right after it. They disappeared for a while, and I was anticipating a long wait for them to return, perhaps bearing electricity, or more likely, excuses.

Nope. In fairly short order the cul-de-sac was clogged with pickups and flatbeds and a big-ass crane, and before you could say “Thomas Edison” the crane was hoisting a new transformer over the neighbor’s roof and into the yard.

Jack-o-taillights.

As dark fell the hard hats were eating pizza from boxes on the hoods of the trucks, and we were eating jambalaya from bowls, and everyone was watching the crane operator perform his magic.

“That’s something you don’t see every day, hey?” said a hard hat.

For real.

We lit our plastic pumpkin with battery-powered Cygolite tail lights, brightened the front walk with their companion headlights, and used a couple rechargeable lanterns indoors (Biolite and Nite Ize).

But with all the goings-on in the cul-de-sac most of the neighborhood trick-or-treaters decided to give us a pass. Herself handed out some treats to the hard hats, but we have plenty left over. It was easily our worst turnout since the height of the Plague Years.

But the power’s back on, and the hard hats popped round this morning to double-check their work. Well done indeed.

Let there be light.

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.

R.I.P., Thomas Cahill

October 30, 2022

Ah, sure, an’ in what class of a donnybrook would ye be without us so?

The scholar and scribe Thomas Cahill has gone west. He was 82.

Cahill is perhaps best known for his book, “How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe.” (You’re welcome, by the way.)

It was to be the kickoff to a seven-part series about critical moments in Western European civilization, according to The New York Times; he wrote six before his death Oct. 18 in Manhattan.

In his introduction, Cahill argues:

“And yet … Ireland, a little island at the edge of Europe that has known neither Renaissance or Enlightenment — in some ways, a Third World country with, as John Betjeman claimed, a Stone Age culture — had one moment of unblemished glory. For, as the Roman Empire fell, as all through Europe matted, unwashed barbarians descended on the Roman cities, looting artifacts and burning books, the Irish, who were just learning to read and write, took up the great labor of copying all of western literature — everything they could lay their hands on. These scribes then served as conduits through which the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian cultures were transmitted to the tribes of Europe, newly settled amid the rubble and ruined vineyards of the civilization they had overwhelmed.”

Without “the Mission of the Irish Monks,” he continues, “the world that came after them would have been an entirely different one — a world without books. And our own world would never have come to be.”

By the end of “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” Cahill seems to wonder whether the worlds of then and now are really all that different.

He writes:

“As we, the people of the First World, the Romans of the twentieth century, look out across our Earth, we see some signs for hope, many more for despair. …

“Perhaps history is always divided into Romans and Catholics — or better, catholics. The Romans are the rich and powerful who run things their way and must always accrue more because they instinctively believe that there will never be enough to go around; the catholics, as their name implies, are universalists who instinctively believe that all humanity makes one family, that every human is an equal child of God, and that God will provide.

“The twenty-first century, prophesized (André-Georges) Malraux, will be spiritual or it will not be. If our civilization is to be saved — forget about our civilization, which, as (St.) Patrick would say, may pass “in a moment like a cloud or smoke that is scattered by the wind” — if we are to be saved, it will not be by Romans but by saints.”

Comforted

October 29, 2022

“You’re letting all the cold air in.”

Miss Mia Sopaipilla couldn’t care less that some elongated muskrat has made off with Twatter, or Twitcher, or whatever that other thing she couldn’t care less about is called.

Miss Mia is an intelligent Animal, a Higher Order (h/t James McBride, “Mr. P & the Wind”). She don’t need no phone, tablet, or laptop to get your attention. If she wants it she will throw a meow your way or do something cute like frolic in a crinkly pile of wrapping paper, or turn your crumpled comforter into a cat cave.

And it goes without saying that she would never ever come over to your house uninvited and hammer a loved one into the hospital.

Like I said. A Higher Order.

Goodness, gracious. …

October 28, 2022