X’dmas

December 26, 2021

This way to the Egress.

Well, that’s that. Another holiday crossed off the calendar.

I threw out my back just in time for the festivities, so I was not the usual jolly old elf as I tottered around the kitchen assembling Emeril’s chicken cacciatore and Martha Rose Shulman’s stir-fried succotash while listening to my favorite traditional Christmas carols (“Christmas in Prison,” John Prine; “Merry Christmas From the Family,” Robert Earl Keen; “Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis,” Tom Waits; “Christmas in Washington,” Steve Earle; and “St. Stephen’s Day Murders,” The Chieftains and Elvis Costello).

Having a bad back is like having a bad dog. You can feed it and scratch it and take it for walks but you never know when the sonofabitch is gonna bite you.

Nevertheless, I persisted, and with an assist from Herself (lemon bars with whipped cream) we took a bite of supper with Herself the Elder and then relaxed with some 22-year-old standup from Marc Maron, Dave Attell, and Mitch Hedberg on Comedy Central.

Eye see you.

This morning it seemed some portal to another dimension had opened while we slept off the grub and giggles. You can see it up there to the right of the backyard maple.

And unless I miss my guess this other shot at right is either of the Eye of Sauron or Cthulhu’s bunghole. Red eye or brown eye, it’s not something you want to see before coffee, especially with a dodgy back that hampers your ability to flee in terror.

The sun is peeking out now, and I may go for a short hobble, see if I can jar all my scattered bits back into their proper places.

But I tell you what: If a chiropractor had beckoned to me from that interdimensional gateway, I’da jumped through it like a bad dog hopping a fence, howling, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn?” (“By any chance do you take Medicare?”)

BRAIN Farts: May 2021

December 25, 2021

• Editor’s note: From now until New Year’s Day I’ll be popping up selected “Shop Talk” strips from this year’s run of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Some shots come with beer backs, others with sore arms and side effects other than the ones that provide the shaky foundation of Irish literature.

Ho ho ho

December 25, 2021

Deer Santa

December 24, 2021

Mrs. Claus threw Bambi a carrot, but nix. Next comes the coal.

We got rain. We got deer. Does that mean we got rain, dear?

 

BRAIN Farts: April 2021

December 24, 2021

• Editor’s note: From now until New Year’s Day I’ll be popping up selected “Shop Talk” strips from this year’s run of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Bike parts will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no bike parts.*
* Apologies to Freewheelin’ Franklin of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers

BRAIN Farts: March 2021

December 23, 2021

• Editor’s note: From now until New Year’s Day I’ll be popping up selected “Shop Talk” strips from this year’s run of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Vertical integration is all the rage. Alas, the Old Guy Who Gets Fat In Winter is more of a horizontal kind of guy, and the only “economy of scale” he knows is weighing himself at the port of entry to avoid breaking the AccuCheck in his bathroom.

Chipseal, choo-choos, and curses

December 23, 2021

Take me to the river.

Yesterday was one of those rare December days in the desert, the sort where you think, “OK, so if we survive the Parade of Plagues we’re all going to be drinking our own wee-wee come summer. It’s worth it.”

I was overdressed when I slipped out midday for a quick 20 miles of rollers, but not ridiculously so. Temps ranged from the low to mid-50s, and the sky was as you see.

Choo-choo-cha-boogie.

Still, there have been Dire Portents of the End Times. My totem, a clockwork railroad engineer who waves from his locomotive-slash-mailbox as I pass, withheld the friendly gesture on Monday. But yesterday he was back on the job, so make of that what you will. Some of us just don’t feel the wave on Mondays.

And one of the cute little girls from next door swore at me like a Vegas Teamster. She’s a bit of a dervish, but usually she doesn’t whirl that way. Mom caught her at it and she was compelled to offer an apology watered down with a grinning decline to make eye contact, followed by a quick ascent of our front-stoop trellis. I suspect a mild case of demonic possession. No vaccination for that.

Speaking of vaccinations, Herself got boosted yesterday, and this morning she feels like she got shot at and hit and shit at and hit. That’s a Thursday Two-fer for you.

Still, better to be poorly for a little while than a long while. This Omicron cootie gets around faster than bad news on cable TV and we have a little old lady in our orbit. Wouldn’t do to fire a round of The Bug into assisted living. That’d be like turning a hyena loose in a Texas Roadhouse.

Speaking of which, who picks the names for these things? I’d just as soon not get croaked by something that sounds like a bush-league Avengers villain hoping for a callup to The Show. Whatever happened to proper plagues like the Red Death? Eddie Poe must be spinning in his grave.

BRAIN Farts: February 2021

December 22, 2021

• Editor’s note: From now until New Year’s Day I’ll be popping up selected “Shop Talk” strips from this year’s run of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

The cupboards were bare in February 2021, but The Mud Stud was still cooking up ideas. Bad ones, as usual. Note the belated “Happy birthday!” honk on the Mad Dog kazoo to Frank Zappa in the first panel.

BRAIN Farts: January 2021

December 21, 2021

• Editor’s note: From now until New Year’s Day I’ll be popping up selected “Shop Talk” strips from this year’s run of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

 

Today, let’s look back at New Year’s Eve 2020. The Mud Stud and Dude have had themselves a good year in the ol’ bike shop. Maybe a little too good, as it turns out.

 

Why the long shadow?

December 21, 2021

Gandalf the Grey? Nah. Gradaigh the Groady.

No, it’s not some dark twist on the old “a horse walks into a bar” joke.

It’s solstice! Short day, low sun, long shadows. Huzzah, etc.

Don’t forget your cap, squire.

I start carrying a cycling cap on rides this time of year. Generally I get a late start, because it’s not exactly toasty out there in the mornings, even in the Upper Chihuahuan Desert. And if I’m headed home into that low sun come midafternoon, I want some sort of eyeshade so I can see who’s trying to kill me.

Likewise on hikes I favor a broad-brimmed hat, either a Carhartt crushable boonie or a Broner fedora if I’m feeling stylish.

For runs I go back to the cycling cap — not the Rivendell, but a beat-up Campagnolo model that is so old I can’t recall where or how I acquired it, since I’ve never been a Campy man. I usually fetch a light Sugoi watch cap along too, and wear one while tucking the other into my waistband. Got to keep the brain-box warm since I don’t drink the antifreeze no mo’.

Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo. …

Just remember to keep moving, like the Earth around the sun, and the Milky Way around the amazing and expanding universe. Don’t crouch indoors like a gargoyle, puzzling out that goddamn WordPress block editor or how long it’s been since your last shot and whether you dare have your great-aunt Fannie over for tea and biscuits. Get out there and chase yourself around.

I know, it’s dark out there. It’s dark when you get up, dark when you go to bed, and in between it’s just dark.

But keep a smile on your lips and a song in your heart. While you’re at it, you might pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space, ’cause there’s bugger-all down here on Earth. And keep one hand on your liver.

Good night, moon.