I'll be the Count of Monte Cristo, you can be the callous maid

NEW 3.6

"Just because everyone does it doesn't mean it's not crazy."

Laborious Day 2002

      Traditional Labor Day Update: World did not end in the last year. Forecast for next year: Only 5% chance of Armageddon; 10% chance of Ragnarok; 15% chance of Robot Holocaust; 100% chance of Jerry Van Dyke.

      Vacations normally mean way too much posting on my part, but not the last two days. Mayhap it's the cold clammy rain we've had putting a chill on my motivation. No End of Summer BBQs in CT this year.

      I forced myself to jam Kill Kill into the cat carrier yesterday, as it was Nail Trimming Time. Damn, but she's learned how to contort herself. She fills up the maximum amount of room in order to prevent being cat-carriered. I'll need to use a net or a tranquilizer dart soon.
      She moped in a corner of the carrier while I talked soothingly to her. She didn't make a sound. We arrived at Suds & Scissors, and the place was closed. Yeah, every pet grooming place recognizes the important holiday of Labor Day's Eve! I put her back in the car, saying "Well, you lucked out, I guess." Her whole manner changed, and she seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. She knew she was going home.

      I watched Princess Mononoke next. Wow, what a great movie. It's animated, but your average Schwarzenegger flick is much more of a cartoon. Everytime you think "This is the villain," you find out that you're wrong--and right. Because no character is 100% wrong or right. Like real life, everyone has their own agenda (although I wouldn't have minded if the Wolf God had bitten a little more to the right, or if one guy had fallen off that rock). An amazing movie. Rent it if you haven't seen it yet (you loser!).
      Then I took a slight dip in cartoon quality, in the same way that you could say that the Titanic had an overflowed toilet one night. Remember those TV previews of the upcoming season of Saturday morning cartoon shows? Man, I lived for those as a kid! And their print counterparts, the comic book or Sunday comics ads touting the latest shows. (Here's a frustrating page that sells the old ads--frustrating because the jpgs are nearly unreadable)
      I thought that these ads were a long-gone art form, but Fox had a SatAM preview special on last night. It was interesting to me that almost every show was imported from Japan. I guess that Pokemon and Dragon Bore Z have won the cartoon wars. There's going to be a cartoon based on the Nintendo character Kirby. If you've ever seen a cartoon based on a video game, you're probably having seizures right now, trying to force the memory of the Pac Man or Super Mario Brothers cartoons out of you head. Remember the cartoon version of Space Ace? Rubik the Amazing Cube? (wait, that wasn't a sucky video game cartoon, just a sucky cartoon)
      And there's "FIGHTING FOODONS: It's French fries vs. pizza! Spaghetti and meatballs vs. peanut butter and jelly! Pork fried rice vs. chicken chow mein! We're talking rude food with attitude!" It looks like Pokemon crossed with Iron Chef crossed with Adult Swim's Aqua Teen Hunger Force, minus the humor but plus a lobotomy. In the "everything becomes retro immediately" department, there's a cartoon based on the dildo-headed M.U.S.C.L.E. little plastic wrestler men, and some sort of turtles that are teenage mutant nuns or Renaissance masters of chiaroscurro and perspective or some such.
      I'm going to market a new novelty item called the "Chia-Roscurro Pet." You'll water it, and it'll grow grass that leaves dramatic patterns of shading.
      At any rate, I'm glad that I caught this as there's a new show coming up that I'm psyched about actually seeing! It involves horrible ancient monsters kept alive through vile sorcery that sell rugby shirts for Old Navy! No, wait--that was an ad starring Morgan Fairchild. Man, how does she look younger now than she did 20 years ago? How many facelifts has she had? Her skin must run out at her knees.
      Actually, the horrible deathless monsters were on ULTRAMAN! WHOO, Ultraman!! As it's dubbed by Fox, and not the wily Canadians who dubbed Ultra 7, it has big-time potential to suuuuck. Expect a review from me in a coupla weeks.
      Researching the new Ultraman led to the inevitable Obsessed Fan Site. Lucky guy got to go to Japan's UltraManLand theme park!

      Scott the Gruntled Postal Worker must be trying to get me to go to Spooky World. Dawn Wells will be there! Since she's now in her 60s, that would be kinda spooky. So spooky that I'd probably never masturbate to thoughts of her again.
      Another "star" will be the guy who played Willow and Leprechaun, in Willow and Leprechaun. We're told that he also had "Several staring roles in the Star Wars films" to which I said, "OH YEAH? The one where Darth Vader was a midget?!" But then I noticed that they spelled it "staring" roles. So, third Jawa and ninth Ewok, the ones with the beadier than usual eyes. Maybe he was that Ewok that hit himself in the head with his rock sling! Ha ha ha, George Lucas, comic fucking genius!
      Spooky World includes Christopher FUCKIN' Lee and "A terror so Funky it could only have come from the 70's!"

      Save internet radio by autofaxing your Congresshuman!


      I fell asleep at the ungodly hour of 930PM last night. Normal bedtime for me is between 1 & 230AM. I was awakened by a dream around 330. The dream stuck with me and started becoming a story. The only way I could get back to sleep is to write it. It's 530AM, and it may not seem so great after sunrise, but here it is.

      Grunt. Evidentally there's a corollary to Murphy's Law that states: "The one day that Bill the Splut really needs to sleep in will be the day that the condo's lawn will be mowed very early in the morning. And the mowing will end as soon as he gives up and gets out of bed."
      Well, writing "Simmons" pretty much blew my day. I have an actual timetable today, as my favorite radio show plays Tuesday afternoons, and because of my work schedule, I only get to hear it on vacation days. I briefly went to the SalvArmy before it started. They had a toy gumball machine that looked kinda old. The package was unopened, but the gumballs were all rotting away inside. Yum, yum. There was also a little bowling trophy that I kinda wished that I'd bought. Every bowling trophy has a person in the process of throwing the ball, but this one was made like she'd dropped it on her foot. Must've been the trophy for Last Place.
      I'm currently living it up on my vacation by defrosting the ancient refrigerator. Whee, if I do say so myself.
      At least I'm listening to Andy Taylor's Ambient radio program. My schedule before I worked in the liquor store had me off on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. That was perfect; I'd hear Andy's show on the University of Hartford station Tuesday, then his show from Trinity College Wednesday night. He'd usually play the same music on each show, which was great. Two listens is enough to decide whether I'd want to buy a CD or not. But then my days off changed with my new job. At least I could hear the last 2 hours of his Wednesday show.
      And the very same week I started at the liquor store, a new program director came on board Trinity and cut Andy's show--which had been running for 20 years--in half. I now heard about an hour and a quarter of it. The show carved out of it was done by a young guy, who promised at the start of his first broadcast, "You won't hear the songs they play on top 40 radio all the time here!" And his first cut was off of the Bush CD, which had been number one for weeks. But it wasn't the hit single! WHAT A REBEL! Two weeks later, he led off with that 3rd Eye Blind hit that, at this point, had been in heavy rotation for over a year. Now that's Alternative Radio!
      After 4 weeks he stopped showing up. Andy would pop a compilation CD in the player and wait for the kid to show. Sometimes he would, sometimes he wouldn't. After another month, Andy would just shut the station down. Dead air.
      Despite the incredible success of his little experiment, the new program director proceeded to further subdivide Andy's show. Soon, he was on every other week; then, every other other week. The 3-hour-block that his old show once occupied now had eight different DJs, each playing a different style of music...Assuming the DJ bothered to show up at all. Now that's a clever programming decision!
      Andy eventually abandoned that station. That's to my loss, but I can't really blame him.

       Dude...Whoa, dude! Now THIS is the Anti-Drug!

      Of all the variants on "Am I Hot or Not?" this is probably the most entertaining. It's basically "Who Would Win in a Fight?" Not that the concept is all that clever, but the pairings can be quite funny, such as "A Fly" vs "S.W.A.T." or "Malcolm X" vs "Malcolm McDowell" or "De La Soul" vs "Telephone Pole." It's British, so Americans will go "Huh?" a lot. (via PCJM)


      How are you? I'm peachy! No, wait, I'm actually melony. Some ass at BIG!Lots unscrewed the cap on a bottle of juice and put it back on the shelf. I put it in my basket and it peed on my leg. It's actually called "Medicine Man Zuni High Desert Melon," which should give you an idea why it ended up in BIG!Lots.
      Want to remember those special occasions? B!L now has a photgraphy service. Maybe I'll ask to have my picture taken next to the life-sized Jerry Van Dyke cutout.
      I wanted pretzels and thus bought pretzels. I discovered that, verily, these were naught ordinary pretzels, but ZELS, "The Original Snack Attack Buster!" I'm not sure about this claim. Is this truly the original Snack Attack Buster, the Gilgamesh of Busting Attacks of Snacks? Was the recipe found inscribed on a Sumerian clay tablet in the ruins of Ur, with a picture of man-headed lion bustin' on some wack-ass Fertile Crescent snacks? And since "snack attack" per se means "a desire to consume a large amount of snackilicious food items," would not a "snack attack buster" by definition be something that causes said consumer of snacky comestibles to desire, to paraphrase Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe, "to snack no more, forever"? Are these pretzels made in such a fashion as to make one ne'er snack again? Are they composed of modeling clay, and salted with a dash of Comet? As the poet has said:
      It makes your mouth turn green!
      It tastes like gasoline!
      COMET! It makes you vomit!
      So eat Comet, and vomit--TOOO-DAAAY!"
Have truer, stronger words e'er been wroted down?

      I went to the state park today, after a giant thunderstorm crashed through Connecticut this morning. There was a nice earthy smell to the still-wet park, and the rain-darkened ground made the green of the forest stand out all the more in contrast. Cicadas whirred in the treetops; nature's alarm clock saying "No more Summer for you!" I can hear them in the woods behind my condo now. A dentist drill sound.
      I hate Autumn. Winter is beyond hope; if it's not 20 degrees and snowing, I'm happy. Every clammy, cloudy day in Spring is defeated by the knowledge that there'll be one last crummy day before the perfect days begin. But Autumn waves its perfect days in my face, sneering that "You never know which is going to be your last!" Then it all dies, and it's brown and grey for 6 months.
      Stupid Autumn.
      But I'm getting ahead of myself. Today was gorgeous. Despite months of drought, the rains of the last few days set all the formerly dry brooks to running again. There were a few buzzy flying things that had decided to either give me West Nile Virus or die trying, but they all chose option B. One big fast bug thwacked into my cheek, and hurried off as if it was as irritated as me by the interruption to both our days. Oh yeah, and I found a resume and cover letter. Can't seem to walk through the woods without finding one of those these days. Current job: "Forest Technician." Is that like a "Vegetable Programmer"? (No, there's plenty of those, at least after working a 70-hour week on a project) Forest Tech "Involves aerial interpolation, stand delineation, and forest measurements." Ahh. A Tree Counter. That pays good, I'll betcha.

      Sneak Preview Time!
      Mimi is MySTing Gonterman's Night Soldiers! Here's a no-frills look at the first few pages (and, yes, you have to hit "back" to here to see the next one, but that's pretty Daveyesque in itself):
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5

      Mimi also sends Portal of Evil's "Everything I need to know About Life, I learnt from GONTERMAN!" which is there for those of you who care.
      All I ever learned from him is "Know your limits, or don't post on the web."

      Really amusing Onion article titled Commentary Tracks of the Damned. The director of the eternally-reviled Scientology-financed cinematic flaming sack of dog poop Battlefield Earth "calls the film 'Schindler's Listy-like in places.'" (That's from the Onion's A.V. Club, NOT from an Onion "article"--so, yes, the real-life director really did say that)


      "If the U.S. is Goliath, it faces an army of Davids, armed not with slingshots but with heavy artillery the Arab League's stranglehold on world oil production. As easily as drawing breath, the nations of the Middle East uniformly aligned against Bush's New Crusade can bring the already-foundering economy of this nation to a screaming halt."

      "Inevitably, there will be a book entitled What If Sept. 11 Had Never Happened ? I'd like to read that book right now. We all wish this were true, don't we? No political persuasion or wingish leaning has a monopoly on this horrible event. There is no flag big enough to cover the scar, no missile big and loud and destructive enough to cauterize the wound, no speech patriotic enough to put this massive moment of religious insanity into any sane and civilized context, no outrage loud enough -- on the left or right -- to do justice to the smoldering bones of the dead in New York City and Washington, D.C."

      "What is most chilling is that the hawks in the Bush administration must know the risks involved. They must be aware of the anti-American feeling throughout the Middle East. They must be aware of the fear in Egypt and Saudi Arabia that a war against Iraq could unleash revolutions, disposing of pro-western governments, and replacing them with populist anti-American Islamist fundamentalist regimes. We should all remember the Islamist revolution in Iran. The Shah was backed by the Americans, but he couldn't stand against the will of the people. And it is because I am sure that they fully understand the consequences of their actions, that I am most afraid. I am drawn to the conclusion that they must want to create such mayhem." [And before you go "OOOH, it's in the GUARDIAN!" it was written by a former cabinet minister under Tony "Dumbya's Lapdog" Blair.]

      " Some of the fundamental changes to Americans' legal rights by the Bush administration and the USA Patriot Act following the terror attacks."


      Work it off playing Headkicker, the Game.
Or read this funny (although VERY LONG) MySTing of Gonterman's first/worst fanfic, "Blood and Metal." Sample:

      [Daveykins speaking of his alma mater]:
      >"Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. It's a college I went
      >to when I was still on Earth."
      >What do you call a redneck with a college education?

      MIKE: A liar?


      I admit that the next link is going to either fascinate you, or sound so dull that you won't click on it (in which case, I recommend that you don't): Shattered World: A Worse World War. If, like me, you're a freak for Alternate Histories and a (recovered) WWII geek, you'll love it. If not, don't waste yer time.
      The conceit is simple: Hitler doesn't invade Poland in 1939, Stalin does in 1937. And things get odd.
      The author REALLY knows his subject, and his timeline is completely plausible. While this type of story is best told through vignettes highlighting individual characters, he chooses to describe it as if it was a history book. And that's a good thing. The few times he tries to tell it first person are...Well, there's only one way to look at those...
      (This is my first time writing one of these, and I just knocked it off in one sitting, so please be gentle. And don't be surprised if it isn't very good)

>Moscow is pitch dark, the black out

CROW: ...there is mighty dark.

is being more enforced than ever due to
>the roomers of a new German bomber.

JOEL: I hate living in this bomber! The German roomers in the ball turret upstairs play oompah music all hours of the night, and they leave wienerschnitzel everywhere!

>Tendrils of smoke rise from a thousand
chimneys as darker blasts

TOM: How could the smoke be darker than pitch black?
JOEL: Maybe they're burning the hearts of Enron executives.

> of noxious fumes

CROW: That's probably from those German roomers. Eating a lot of wienerschnitzel will do that to ya.

> rise from the city's industrial
districts, turning out the weapons and equipment for an ever worsening war.

TOM: Highlander III: The Worsening.
CROW: International House Of Pancakes IV: The Waffling.
JOEL: Peanut: The Woozeling.
TOM: Huh?

> Red Square is as dark as a closet,

CROW: OOOH, nice one, Captain Simile of the Darkness Metaphor Commandos!
TOM: Look, Tschaikovsky's about to come out of it.

> obscuring any movement across it's
open stretch. Darker still are the grounds of the Kremlin.

JOEL: Maybe that's coffee grounds.
TOM: Mmm, Kremlin blend! The taste is oppressively GOOD!
JOEL: Coffee that's worth the six hour wait in line! Available only at Stalinbucks!

> The guards on
duty are mostly invisible,

TOM: Except for their glow sticks, and the mad gleam of Ecstasy in their eyes.
JOEL: Stalinist techno is 200 beats per minute on your head with a rubber hose.

> ever vigilant. That several of them are recently
deceased has gone unnoticed by officer's in charge of security.

CROW: It's the Night of the Vigilant Dead!
JOEL: Lousy rent-a-cops. They'll hire anybody.
TOM: I'll bet that they were darked to death.

> In the bowels of the Kremlin,

CROW: Where it's as dark as the sootiest, pitch-blackiest, ebon-shroudiest face of Ted Danson performing at the Friar's Club. And smellier.

> at the heart of the Soviet Union's power

TOM: Hey, you got heart in my bowels!
CROW: You got bowels in my heart!
JOEL: Two great organs that taste great together!

> Stalin sat calmly at his desk

CROW: In the dark of his hearty bowels.

> studying the latest reports from

TOM: His bowels!
CROW: (Stalin) Man, did I eat a lot of corn last night!
JOEL: Guys, could you possibly raise the taste bar a notch?

>the front. The sound of footsteps in the corridor outside his office went
barely noticed.

TOM: It was too dark to hear.

>The reports from Siberia were good.

JOEL: His delicious Purge-sicles remained frozen.
TOM: (Stalin) My favorite flavors are Grapey Gulag and Lemony Lenin!

> The Japanese were
stalled and soon the cold would halt all operations there.

CROW: Operation! The Goofy Game for Dopey Dictators!

> Voices beyond the door leading into his inner sanctum brought Stalin's
attention back to his office. The voices became more heated,

CROW: Those guys sound like they're hot to Trotsky!

>some kind of

TOM: (Stalin) It's times like this that make me really wish I knew how to speak Russian.

>Stalin put his pen on his desk and stood up.

JOEL: And then he breakdanced like nobody's business!

>The owners of those voices were going to regret disturbing him.

JOEL: He cruelly pulled out a Gonterman comic!

> He was halfway to the door when the sharp crack of

CROW: A really angular plumber popped out!

>gunfire cut through the silence of the Kremlin. Two more shots quickly followed.

TOM: But they were of vodka, this being breakfast time in Russia.

> Stalin froze.

CROW: He hoped that, in the darkness, he would be mistaken for a giant moustachioed Pudding Pop.

>The door to his office burst in under the force of two heavy boots.

TOM: "I believe you were expecting me!" yelled Doc Marten.

> Men in NKVD and army uniforms strode into his office.

JOEL: Whoa! Calm down! Did you have some traumatic experience involving the Soviet secret police?
JOEL: The Soviet secret police. The NKVD.
CROW: OH! Sorry, I read it wrong. I thought that was the sequel to "Little Nicky." You know, "Little Nicky 495: The Sandlering."
TOM: What?! That's the dumbest thing you've ever said since yesterday! Don't you know what "VD" stands for?
CROW: "VD" is "495" in Latin.
TOM: You moron! Everyone knows VD stands for Valentine's Day!

> "What is the meaning of this?" Stalin asked, his anger and fear rising

JOEL: It's a Red Storm Rising!

>in concert.

TOM: LIVE at the Fillmore Eastern Bloc!
JOEL: Joey Stalin opening for Simply Red, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Redman, and...umm...Otis Redding!
TOM (singing): "Purgin' at the dock of the bay..."
CROW: Oh, Joey Stalin! I'm you're biggest fan! I've been to ALL your show trials!

> In the back of his mind he knew very well what was happening.

JOEL: He was going to be forced to change long distance calling plans again.

> He'd been on the other side of such events for so many years, decades.

JOEL: Centuries, in dog years.
CROW: Minutes, in Galapagos turtle years.
TOM: Millenia, in Tom years. Is this over soon?

> "This is for my father" one of the army men stated calmly.

JOEL: My name is Inigo Montoyavitch!
CROW (Stalin): Umm, if that bullet's for your father, hand it to me and I could mail it to him for you.

> Stalin heard the first few shots and felt a sudden flaring of pain as bullets stitched up

CROW: Hey, self-stitching bullets! It's the greatest medical advance since the self-cauterizing flamethrower!

> and down his body. He felt himself falling to the floor, and then he felt
nothing at all.

JOEL: But he remained ever vigilant.
CROW: I thought you said these guys were funny!
JOEL: I said that Stalin was funny?!
CROW: No no no, those brothers!
TOM: The Marxist Brothers!
JOEL (Groucho): Say a State Secret, and a duck'll come down and you'll disappear in the night! Here's an easy question: Who's buried in Lenin's Tomb?

> The Kremlin remained as dark as ever.


> The headlights of several dozen
armored cars broke the cloak of

TOM: Magical Summoning! 3 hit dice, armor class 2!
CROW: Geek.

> darkness on the streets outside. Soldiers flowed from the vehicles

CROW (Austrian accent): Zey ver made uff leequid metal!
TOM: Hasta la VODKA, babushka!

> and began jogging towards the Kremlin.

JOEL: Except for the powerwalkers from the NKVD.

> Shots echoed in the night as the Kremlin's guards fired at the soldiers,

TOM: SHOT! SHOT! ...shot!

>shouts and
screams of pain echoed off the Kremlin walls.

JOEL (clamping hands over Tom's mouth): Enough.
CROW: Enough is right.
(All leave theater)


      I expected to have a big post here yesterday, as Kevin and I went to "Hope Out Loud," a 9/11 rememberance done from a Leftist perspective. There were to be live bands playing and booths selling merchandise. I guess that I mentally pictured a big Liberal flea market. I joked to kevin, "I hear that later on, the police will be giving away free bean bags!"
      While the booths had the usual suspects--the Green Party, NOW, the Quakers--the speakers were as embarassing to a rational Liberal as Ann Coulter would be to the Right Wing, if the Right had the ability to be embarrassed by the bigger retards on their side. I'm against war, but I'm not against EVERY POSSIBLE WAR. If you think that there's no such thing as a "just war"--Tell it to Hitler. Sometimes you HAVE to fight. Iraq today is not one of those times. But there were songs and skits and speeches about how dumb and stupid and stuff the US Army is. One guy made a big point of his Army-recruiter-supplied t-shirt that he'd altered to read, "An Army of NOne." Nice joke, but the idea that we don't need an army is a bigger joke still.
      Being raised in a very political and Liberal family in the 60s and 70s, I was against the Viet Nam War from an early age. But I was truly outraged by the news reports after the war, when hippies called returning Nam vets "baby-killers." Get mad at Nixon, not the poor slobs who had to do his dirty work at the risk of their own lives. Get mad at Dumbya's cynical owners, who'll let American soldiers die over a war no one but those fat-assed chicken hawks and their ditto-heads want. Funny how the Administration official who's the least enthusiastic about war with Iraq is Colin Powell, the only one with any real military experience.
      Speaking of t-shirts, I got a couple of unexpected compliments on my "It's A Sick, Sick, Sick, Sick World" shirt. I pointed to it and said, "Sad but true."
      We signed a petition against nuclear proliferation and listened to a couple of bands. Paranoise has a name like a Death metal band, but they were a pair of guys that played acoustic guitar and a big-ass hand-held drum, with Tuvan throat singing. Their music was instrumental--always a plus in my book--and they had the best political line of the day: "We're dedicated to regime change in Washington." In retrospect, I wished I'd bought a CD by them ($14 on the website, $10 at the rally) Then we left, as the latest tedious speaker began lecturing. We'd had better political discussions sitting on the lawn pretending to listen to them. If digital cameras count with Iraq as political...
      We retired to City Steam, an excellent brew pub. We got "Crop Circle Ale," due to the stupid name, and were glad we did. Delicious! Great lingering finish. Our waitress was this tiny young black woman who, as far as we could tell, was the only waitress in the place. They must've been understaffed, and it took forever for our personal pizzas to arrive. She kept flitting back to our table to say that she was making sure that our food was coming. We didn't care; we were outside on the patio on a gorgeous day, engrossed in our usual far-ranging conversation, and we're retail vets: We sympathize with the overworked, underpaid and unappreciated. Especially when they have to deal with crazy management dictates such as the Sunday Pizza Special Rule: Get a one-topping pizza, and your first 2 beers are free! Kevin wanted a NO-topping pizza. Sorry, she said, you have to get a topping. The topping cost a whole $1, and 2 beers would be in the $8-10 range. He gave up trying to save them the cost of the topping, and ordered extra cheese. We tipped her 20%, and when she counted it as she raced to her next table, she stopped and said a very sincere "Thank you!"
      Fun day, all in all.

      They were predicting high humidity and heat today, so rather than go hiking in a state park, I slept in, surfed a bit, then decided to take a walk in the woods behind the condo. It can be a detriment to have a smart cat. After our aborted non-visit to the claw clippers last week, I figured that she'd act the same as if we had gone. Wrong! She knows that she didn't go, which she knows now means that sometime soon we will go. For 8 days, she's run every time I've put my sneakers on. Smart, but dumb: that means that when it becomes time to go, she's getting incarcerated in the carrier longer, as she's going in before the shoes go on.
      I was smart but dumb also: It really wasn't that humid. Then I went to the SalvArmy and bought that odd bowling trophy I'd mentioned last week:

      "OW! My foot!"
      This is supposed to be a woman, but given her angular facial features and blocky Legoland boobs, I think the sculptor was Gonterman.
      I went grocery shopping and, for no reason, the place was packed. And it seemed that everyone was intent on abandoning their shopping carts directly in front of whatever item I wanted to reach. I had to move four of them. The first was when I walked across the checkout lines, and an old fart in one of those electric shopping cart/wheelchairs drove up and literally pinned me against a woman's cart. I stood there while the woman leaned on it and looked at me blankly. "Excuse me," I said, and pushed her cart up about three inches. This broke her from her reverie. The old fart didn't react, and he obviously had pinned me in there deliberately. The next stage from the peril of the roadways, Old Man In A Hat, is Bitter Old Fart. Both types used to piss me off, until I realized that they'll all be dead soon.
      But I was close to being bitter when I found out that they didn't have this advertised item in stock!

      "When I was younger, nutty people used to drive me nuts. But as I grow older I see the nutters differently. The nutty are fun. The nuttier the better. For they are nuts on the sundae of life."

      "D'oh! There's One Tiny Flaw in This Plan..."

      "'It seems to me that we are wallowing in September 11th, and that is not good,' Chapman says. 'I think our reaction to the event has been more damaging than the event itself.'"

      Years ago Kevin told me about the RealDoll. It's a sex doll that costs thousands of dollars, designed using Hollywood SFX technology. You can mix & match hair color, breast size, the various usable orifices...You get the picture. Kev's wife Melanie said, "If you buy one of those, you've guaranteed that you'll never get a real girlfriend!"
      "This guy needs to get a life," says Mark the Vet of a guy with SIX of these dolls. That he dresses up and poses and assigns personalities to. The bodies are amazingly lifelike, but the dead, staring eyes...Looking at these are nearly like necrophilia. And, of course, the worst part of the page is titled "Real Doll Repair." "This ia [sic] a major breast tear...This was caused by her sliding on her belly one time." Yeah, she slid.

      Bang out a drum roll, please! Or, if you're Gonterman, simply bang Roll. (Amount of readers that got that joke: 3) The first 11 pages of Mimi's MySTing of Night Soldiers now has a home, complete with "next" tags. Go here if you want to pick it up where it last left off. I'll let you know when there are more updates.

      Kevin's put his DVD collection ONLINE! Nobody knows why.


      I have been dreading today, and the Thing.
      I do not want to talk about the Thing, or hear about the Thing. The Thing is depressing. Every time I think about the Thing, I think about death. Innocent deaths.
      But the radio's on at work, and every hour on the hour CNN burst onto the oldies station to tell me that 2800 people died, in this city and this city and in some farmland, and they died a year ago. Thanks. I remember. I can't forget. I don't need you to remind me, as if it was a President's Day Sale at the Mall.
      CNN ran the results of a poll it did last week. They said that the majority of Americans planned to watch the televised tributes. If the minority had said that, do you think that CNN would've cut down on its coverage? Yes. There's a difference between "remembrance" and "sensationalizing."
      And personally--I hope their ratings suck. I don't understand the type of person who would want to watch hours and hours of falling towers. I might want my death to be remembered, but not as a screen saver backdrop.
      And today someone paid with a bunch of bills, and this was one of them:

      Sorry, George, but he's old news. Who cares what he's plotting? We need to blow up Iraq to make the world safer now.
      I turned on a classical station, and of course it was the tribute to the Thing. A program of American music, "dedicated to the tragically fallen in New York City, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania. Enjoy!"
      But Kill Kill went all bonkers when I got home, running from room to room, then demanding to demolish toy mice and chase little flying propeller toys, then konking out in her favorite sleeping-box.

      And there she is, with her face all scrunched up against the side of the box.
      So it became a normal day. Normal is good.

      Let's keep acting like it's normal, 'kay?

Go, Speed Racer! Go!
Take the Cartoon Hero Quiz?.

      Oddly apropos, if you remember a certain story I wrote a while back.

      The Power Goth Girls cartoons ("movie archives"). Would be better if I could understand more than every third word of dialogue.

      Mimi's MySTing of Night Soldiers issue 1 continues here! (And it really does continue--I fixed the bug from last time)


      Because of two overlapping vacations, I have to work a 12 hour shift Saturday. Amazingly, that sucks. However, I did get to go to work 2 hours late 2 days to make up for it. Today was one of the days.
      It was to be a beautiful late Summer day, and 2 hours is just enough time to hit up the state park, which is only 5 minutes away from the New Store. My other option was to sleep in late and hang at home with the cat. I set the alarm to go to the park.
      Kill Kill made my decision for me. She normally sleeps in bed with me for an hour or two, then wanders away to do whatever she does when I sleep. But last night she came and went no less than 5 different times, staying for hours the last time. To a cat, sleeping together is a bonding experience.
      And it's just as well that I stayed. She was full of an energy unusual for the morning (okay, lunchtime, but that's morning to me). She rampaged through the rooms, jumped over stuff on the floor, chased toy mice, engaged in hand-to-hand combat (paw-to-ski glove, actually), accepted pets and belly rubs, agitatedly warned me that there were 2 bugs crawling on the wall above the toilet (actually nail holes from a long-gone shelf) that she stretched out and swatted at. After I showered, she sniffed my hands and decided that they needed a good rubbing from her cheeks to show the world who owns me. They know already, honey. They already know.

      The New Store is an old laundromat, so there are two drains cut into the carpet. Two days ago, the carpet began getting really wet around the drains. We called plaza maintenance about it the first day, but by today they still hadn't turned up. The wet part was getting bigger, and it had a septic stink to it. I called up the guy in charge, and while I was getting transferred to his line, brown water welled up from the drain and covered an area about twice the drain's circumfrence. He sent a plumber over in 45 minutes. That was good. The plumber saying, "I can't figure out where the water's coming from!" was not good. It wasn't from our toilet or sink, or from the place next door, or any other store. It was coming from some pipe somewhere...but where?
      He looked all over our end of the plaza, going into the pizza place next door repeatedly. Pizza Turk (well, he is a turkey--I mean, from Turkey) told me how 5 months ago a drain had backed up in his place, leaving "18 inches of water!" That's not a drain, that's a busted dam. The plumber was the same guy who fixed their problem, and he said it was less than an inch. Pizza Turk was giving him a hard time; you'd think that he'd be a little more sympathetic, given that he'd been through the same thing himself.
      He ran 50 feet of snake down the drain. Every so often, water would well up out of the the other drain, and each time more water would come, browner and stinkier than the last. Eventually, the drain was puking bilge that covered a good 12-15 square feet before it slowly crawled back down into the pipes below the store. It was like watching "The Blob."
      I called an owner to see if he knew something that I didn't about the store. "There's some kind of tank under the front carpet," he said. The plumber's eyes flashed "A-HA! Some old laundromats had dryer drains that went into a pit. There's a filter that traps the lint from going into the sewer." He went back to Pizza Turk to check one last thing. After he left, I was lookin' at the tube, and up from the ground came a bubblin' crude. Black gunk, Texas pee--brown spewage made from ancient dryer lint that had been basting in rancid pizza grease for 5 months, that is.
      Well, the next thing you know, ol' Bill's a millionaire, so long as millions of stank particles count, and he done got him a store that smells like...5 month old rancid phrackin' pizza grease and dryer lint, really. Turns out that the pizza place had a sink that they hadn't told the plumber about, and every time they used it, grease went into the lint trap, until it clogged it up and went into MY store. We still don't how we're going to fix this, beyond telling them not to use that sink. The main PTurk said that the Board of Health made him use that sink, so that "customer can see we washing the hands." Umm, okay. Never seen that law in effect in any restaurants before, but his command of the English language is limited enough that maybe that's what he thought the guy said. "This sink needs an 'All Employees Must Wash Hands' sign!" "All employee wash hands here, yes."
      The smell wasn't that bad after I went over the swamplands with the wet-vac, but it carried for a good 8-foot radius from the offending drain. They're going to dump some enzymatic cleaner into the carpet to remove the stench on Monday; no idea whether that'll remove the yard-round shit-stain of grease from the carpet. I'm glad that this didn't happen during either 90 or 40 degree weather, but after a night with the doors shut, I'm not looking forward to smelling my workplace tomorrow.
      By the way--Did I mention that on Saturday, a guy's coming to the New Store, to possibly buy it? This is like someone smacking into your car the day before you trade it in.
      Side Note: Plumbers really do wear those pants. They either need a new industry standard in clothing, or need to start hiring hot chicks as plumbers.

      Guest host time!

      First up, from Paul Curtis, on the strange ripple effect this page has had:

      Don't worry, dear readers, he KNOWS the difference! I had some trepidation when I heard "based on Keeler," the Bulwer-Lytton of the 30s crime novel--does that mean "it's nearly incomprehensible"? But it's GREAT! It's very funny, and, of course, all the crazy Keeler crap you'd expect: Unlikely coincidences, weird names, a bad accent, and the Inevitable Skull. Oh, yes, it stars "Gilrick I. Sandringham, America's wiliest mental patient!"

      Next, Robin in Canada (CA-NA-DA! Whoo!) sends us her Tales of SHAWTery in the Internet cafe/Laundromat she worked at. (Hmm, Internet, cappuchino, laundry...Could this have taken place somewhere around 1995 and 1998?) She now works here. And she sends this...

      ACK! Like Tonguey and IncrEdible Eddy, another visitor from the Planet of the Meat-Men! And, judging by the look on his face, he's quite the one with the ladies!
      Well, the look on his face, and the wiener in his hand.

      If you want some great, get-all-pissed-off political stuff, I won't even bother stealing from Tom Tomorrow today.



thoughtviper#hotmail^com with theories...Where's the joke?


      Bill the Liquor King is Dead!!
      Long Live Bill the Liquor King!
      I may no longer be working for the owners of the liquor store. But I may still be working in that liquor store.
      Remember my mention of a guy who's interested in buying the New Store? I met with him today. "I'm only going to buy it if you stay on," he said. And I guess that I just might.
      He's a nice guy, and obviously has a good sense of business--for 10 years he ran a big, high-volume newstand near Yale in New Haven (called "News Haven," which is actually pretty clever). He sold it because--well, I get cranky when I don't get 2 days off in a row, he got 2 days off in a year, Thanksgiving and Xmas. But he has no liquor store experience, and he wants someone who does (a certain Splut) to run the place while he gets his feet wet. If it doesn't work out for him, I can bail and still work for the current guys. If it does, he buys Store 2, and I stay in New Store. I've been thinking about this all week, and if it ain't a win-win for me, it's definately a not lose-not lose.
      Much as I like my current employers, I also love New Store. And I get a good gut feeling from Art. He said that he'd write an employment contract with me, guaranteeing that I'd keep my current benefits and pay. Much as I like working for the guys I work for now, If he buys the store, I guess that I'm going with it.
      The current owners telling me that "If you don't like working for him, you still have a job here" doesn't hurt.


Mike Snard:

Angela Gillepsie:
      "Spaghetti Junction, how's that function?"
"I like hookin' up boxcars of cheeses and meatballs--!"
Yeah, okay, that would make sense if we were given any hint about that. The road is clear! The overpass is just a simple high curve! And yet, he snarls with contempt and goes off-roading in his one seat convertible with a ground clearance of only 2 inches--err, 5 centimetres, as he's European. If this was in America, he'd be driving a 10-ton SUV with optional surface-to-air missile launchers.
And even if it WAS snarled with traffic or bent into the shape of a pretzel that had a mommy pretzel that took Thalidomide...Then there would be a joke, but it wouldn't be remotely funny. Or is this my whole logical fallacy--That the strip contains an actual joke?


      Yes, but in panel 3, he only barely avoids running over a terrorist water balloon!

Aldo in Mexico:

      (squints at trophy)
      DAMMIT! There's little hexagons on the ball! It IS a soccer trophy!! Way to ruin it for me, Aldo!
      Hey, I'm an American. There's like a law that says we can't know anything about soccer. Or, as we call it in our country, "Foosball."
      And at least the trophy wife still looks like a Gonterman babe.

      And the winner IS...

Li in Hawaii:

Robin from Canada:

      WHOA! I saw a banner ad a while ago that said that Pupkin was "Part puppy, Part pumpkin, ALL LOVE!!" and that sounded like Ziggy so I didn't click it.
MY GOD! I read 3 months worth, and I have no idea WHAT THE COMIC IS! Apparently (or not), it's a comedy (that isn't funny), with light-hearted vignettes about dogs (except that 1 of the dogs kills and eats people then vomits their bloody stumps), and there's...Christ, but this makes me long for the clarity and artistic vision of Daveykins Gonterman.
      The scariest part is that there's a longer strip on Sundays, AND IT HAS A TOPPER. That's the panel or two at the top that can be included or removed on a Sunday at the local newpaper's discretion. Which means that this freak job thinks he really has a shot at mainline syndication.
Yeah, pal. Mainline? Only when the comics page editors start mainlining heroin.


      How did I spend my Sunday? By sleeping until 5PM. No, that's not a typo. My body wants 9 hours sleep, and I only slept 6 hours each of the last 2 days. So the missing hours got tacked onto last night, and I slept for 15 hours. Eh, it rained all day anyway, so it's not like I missed anything.

      Oh, my children, you must flock to this "Incredible Offer! Get this FREE Contemporary Gospel CD!" Just download the song snippets and have yourself a hearty laugh.

      Speaking of people who are as talentless as they are clueless, here's Gonterman on his art and 9/11. His meds must be wearing off. If 9/11 is why he does his strips, the terrorists have already won.
      And here's what he considers the highlights of his fanfic for "Touched by an Angel." Have another hearty laugh!
      And for those of a more masochistic bent, his Magnum Crappus "Disney Firestorm". It's long, and that's just the first part (I think) of many. Oh--and it's very, very bad. Deeeep Hurtiiiing!
      (Update: I've been informed by a little bird [actually, a Duck] that it isn't the first part, and that she has THE WHOLE SERIES! Eek!)

      I think I'll go to bed now.


      I got up early today. Only slept till noon.

      A fun Yahoo! Pick of the Week site, roughly in the InExOb vein: Tacky Treasures. Kinda brief, though.

      Why must we invade Iraq? I mean, there's proof that they have nukes, that they were the biggest supporters of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, that they had Al Qaeda training bases in their country, that Al Qaeda is hiding in their country now, and it's likely that bin Laden survived Clinton's cruise missile attack only because their intelligence agency tipped him off just before it happened--Oh no, wait, that's Pakistan! They're our BUDDIES!
      I don't know if this is true, but it's the scariest thing you'll read today if it is.

      Unless, of course, you read this vintage piece of demented Gontermania. (Note: a strategic partnership between Jen White and myself may lead to the web's first one-stop collection of all of Daveykins' existing works...You have been warned)

      There was Portal of Evil thread that linked to a few Gonter-related sites, including both here and my old Geocities site. Oddly, they didn't go to where either page has any real Gonter-content. You'd think that it would've gone to the MySTings of Jen White or Mimi.
      They did have a link to an image-heavy site with reviews of various bad comics. With almost every image link broken. Since yesterday, they've fixed some of the links. Hopefully, they're in the process of fixing all of them. Unfortunately, the Gonterman one is "fixed" in a way that I have to scroll sideways to read the damn thing. Hate that! The Jack Chick one is pretty funny.

      Check to see if your website has been banned in China! (This one hasn't)
      MAO ZEDONG?! More like--Mao has ZE VERY TINY DONG!!!
      Maybe that'll do it.


      Iraq has finally agreed to unconditional UN weapons inspections. NOW we'll finally find out why Dumbya's handlers want war with Iraq. This is exactly what Bush demanded 5 days ago at the UN. So, he should be happy with that, right? If they start complaining about the inspections taking too long, demanding new UN resolutions against Iraq, or keep talking up "regime change," it's most definitely not about weapons of mass destruction...
      I like that the head of the UN inspection commitee is named "Mr Blix." He sounds like a cartoon character or a breakfast cereal.
      "Silly Saddam! Blix are for preventing WWIII!"
      "Always after me Frosted Weapons o' Mass Destruction! White Anthrax! Yellow Mustard Gas! Grey Mushroom Clouds! Undetectable Invisible Sarin!" "Frosted Lucky Blix! He's unilaterally intrusive!"
      VELMA: "The old caretaker was really--[rips mask off] SADDAM HUSSEIN!" SADDAM: "And I would've gotten away with it, if not for you meddling Blix!!"

      Sure, that's his "favorite philosopher," but I'd only buy it if it was made from pictures from his favorite book, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar."

      Is the Vinland Map proof that Vikings discovered America, or was it a Jesuit priest fucking with the heads of the Nazis? (free registration required)


It's the All-Iraq Issue!

      Well, THAT didn't take long.
      After screaming at the UN "Weapons inspections or WAR!" Bush magically claimed today that it was NEVER inspections he wanted, but ALWAYS "disarmament," a word which I know I've never heard him say, because if he had, I'd go "Wow, he knows a four-syllable word, and it's not 'alcoholic'!"
      If the Iraquis "disarm," expect Dumbya to insist that "It was NEVER disarmsunmenning, but ALWAYS everyone in Iraq must wear clown suits and dance the polka while committing SUICIDE!"

      John C sent me a link to a GOOD online comic for once. I've been following it for many months, and I never linked to it thinking, "Well, everyone must know about it!" So here it is, if you don't:

      And that's about the mildest statement on the site.

      Keith Knight sums up half the reason we're going to blow up Iraq, and Karl sends a pic that explains the rest.

      Kill Kill is also against war with Iraq! Umm, I'm pretty sure. At any rate, that's our segue into my Tagua Nut Cat via The Animal Rescue Site. They originally had a white dog carved out of a rain forest nut, and I was all excited! I call Killsy "Little Nut" when she goes all crazy, so it doubly fits! Until I discovered that they had no white cat nuts. When they introduced one a few days ago, I immediately ordered it. Okay, it's $15 with S&H, but buying it donated food to strays, and "It is harvested sustainably from rainforests, allowing the local people to make a living without engaging in 'slash-and-burn' practices." The strays get fed, and it's a better job than working in the Nike factory. The only thing that gets hurt is my pocketbook.
      And it sold out immediately! "Nutty CATS is better than smelly butt-sniffy DOG NUTS!" sez KK!
      But you should get one of either species, if you have that much (extremely!) disposable income. Because if you don't--you're an animal hater!! YEAH, spend that $15 on PUPPY-KICKIN' BOOTS, you PET-HATING IRAQI NAZI!!

      I went to Tasty Chick and got the haddock dinner. I dropped me a quarter in the EGGY EGGY EGGY! Machine, and got a crappy tiny kaleidoscope! And it's TRES COOL!
      Ummm...it's an IRAQaleidoscope! Spin it round, and you see TENS of THOUSANDS of colorful dead!
      Okay, so it wasn't the all-Iraq issue after all.


      Yes, kiddos, it's Sense of Duty Posting Time here . I don't like posting when I don't have much to offer, but I dislike going more than a day with nothing here even more. Let the unexcitement commence!

      My latest visit to BIG!Lots uncovered a toy for the cat.

      Why the thought of eating treats vomited from the gaping jaws of a rat was supposed to make this more appealing is beyond me.
And it didn't. Kill Kill gave them a cursory sniff, and despite being laden with more Iams kibble than a 2nd grader in Mississippi has head lice, she's ignored them.

      For a mere 99 cents, I picked up some Star Wars Episode Two cereal, Christopher FUCKIN' Lee edition! Glad I didn't get it when it was $4 a box. Sadly, Mr F! Lee was not made into a marshmallow. Here are the marshmallows:

      And I suppose that I'm expected to say something funny now. Great.
      Let's see, top to bottom: Yoda's head! Cause who'd want to eat the head of a 900 year old Muppet! It'll taste like Frank Oz's dirty fingernails! Ha ha h--Oh, wait, the box says that it IS Yoda's head. This isn't off to a good start. Next: Pac-Man ghost in leotards. It's funny because he's a GHOST, and thus too dead to need leotar...I'm really off my game tonight. Maybe I should've actually given some thought to this before starting. Next, "Think how chic you'll look at the senior center with your new Depends/thong combo!" Then, it's the skull of a Parasaurolosophus! That duckbill dinosaur with the really long tube in its head! FUCK YOU! I didn't say that I had anything good here! Then, a member of a vicious gang of "Keep Left" signs! YOU KNOW! The "Hell's Grannies" Python routine! Hey, maybe the problem here is that you're not smart enough to get my jokes, not that my jokes suck! And finally (thank GOURD), his & her Jedi butt plugs. Thank you! I'm here all week! Remember to tip your waitstaff!--Oh, wait, I've just been told that I'm not here all week. I'm fired.
      OH, and I suppose that you think you have something funnier to say about the marshmallows?! Well, you'd almost have to after that, now wouldn't you? thoughtviper#hotmail*com accepts all suggestions.

      Okay, I'm now abandoning any pretense that I'm entertaining. Here's Jack Parsons, King of the Rocket Men. "One of the founding fathers of American rocket-science was a character strung between Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Kerouac, and the Devil himself."

      The always interesting FuckedWorld has gained a few new branches.

      "Shoot First: Bush's whitewashed national security manifesto."


      Kill Kill hasn't been sleeping in bed with me the last week. She might pop in for an hour and settle down at a spot by my feet, but what I really like is when she snuggles up next to my chest and snoozes for hours. I always sleep better when she does, and have pleasant and vivid dreams. So I was quite happy when she did just that this morning.
      We were happily floating on our river of dreams when a neighbor opened his garage door, then slammed it down. We both awoke, we both settled back down. Then he opened it again and slammed it down. Then again. Then again! And again!
      Killsy had had enough. She jumped out of bed to investigate. I blearily thought that it might be thunder, but I noticed that it ended with a thump-thump every time. After 5 minutes, I stumbled from bed to see what was going on.
      I couldn't see it, but whatever it was, it was happening directly below my third floor condo. Then I spotted a kid with a skateboard, walking up the hill and waving in my direction. I put on some clothes and walked down a flight of stairs. "Do you mind?!" I snapped at the kid skateboarding on the second floor deck. "Sorry!" he said (un)apologetically. I went back upstairs, and back to bed. After a minute, the XTREME RADNESS continued. So I went back down, flung open the door and screamed at the half-dozen suburban vermin with skateboards, "DO THAT SOMEWHERE ELSE!!" "Excuse me?!" sneered one of half a dozen ragin' shredders. "THIS ISN'T A FUCKIN' SKATE PARK!! DO THAT SOMEWHERE ELSE!!" And I slammed the door. And they left. I wished that I hadn't used the F-word, but I work second shift and I was barely awake. I pictured one of the ill-mannered brats' parents coming to complain about that. I could also picture the same parent, when one of their half-witted spawn flung itself from the second story to the pavement to make an XTREME SPLAT ON THE HEAD, to sue the condo association for not making the deck safe for sk8boarding morons.
      I am now officially OLD. "DAMN SMOOCHERS! GET OFFEN MY PROPERTY!!"

      My latest unappealing spam subject line: "Christine Virus." What? Click on a spam with virus in the subject?! Where's my Nigerian Scam spam? At least those are funny.
      A woman got the Nigerian Scam and believed it. To the tune of giving them $2.1 MILLION in embezzled funds. While it's insane that anyone could be that dumb AND have access to that kind of money, the really insane thing is "If she's convicted, she'll likely face three years in prison." Steal a thousand, and you'll go to prison for a decade; steal millions, and you're one of Dumbya's friends from Enron. *slap* "Ow, my poor widdle wrist!"


      There's a trail behind my condo that's based on the old railroad line that once led to the manufacturing district of Rockville. I've never followed the whole thing, as it's bisected by the Hartford Turnpike. I don't feel like walking across the second-busiest road in town. Today I figured I'd see where it goes, so I parked by the infamous Volcano Church, as seen in a Zippy strip. The first stretch was through a blasted heath-like area that ran under the highway. The underside of the bridge was filled with graffiti, of course. Only a few were in the Mandatory Graffiti Phat Phont; the rest were from the "dickweed with a can of Krylon" school. A list of Eternal Loves, people who either sucked or needed to fuck off, the word "BLUNT," some garbled nonsense that probably was inspired by underage drinking, and such deathless philosphical statements as "One Love 4 Dat Nigga" and "Die Jew Prick." They paled in the presence of the masterwork: "STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN," with crudely drawn stairs leading up to a cross. Me, I would've drawn a bustling hedgerow. And a bong, which was probably the root inspiration of the artwork.
It turned into a beautiful area, nicely wooded but going through people's backyards. My I-want-a-house lust kicked in ferociously. It eventually led to the Vernon Depot, the original stop for the railroad. It's long gone, and been replaced with a little bus stop shelter of a building. Before Vernon's National Guard combat engineer battalion redid the trails, there was nothing unusual about finding ancient, rusted railroad spikes along the trail (I have a few). At one point along the trail, they'd left the rotting railroad spurs in the ground. That's not all that surprising, either. But I was surprised to see eight of these:

Telegraph poles! Note that it's not a "pole" in the modern sense of the word, but a tree that had its branches cut off. It's just odd to see something so old still standing in the forest. I wonder what this trail looked like a century ago.
This was even odder:

There was a low red and green leafed plant growing that you can see in the background, but it wasn't hemlock. Sadly, there was no info. Although the box did contain an old Dunkin Donuts wrapper. Maybe that was one of their less popular flavors. "Double Chocolate Hemlock! It's Socratically Delicious!"

Well, that's all that I've got today. Since it's been mainly pictures, here's one of everybody's favorite, lying on her beloved sunning box. I think the name on the box sums up her position in this household.


      I went hiking in the woods today.
      "DO TELL!" you cry. "Bill the Splut, how do you manage this mad whirligig of a life, so chockablock with more exciting events than a circus crossed with a Mardi Gras parade performed entirely by wild monkeys in tutus!" To which I say, "Chockablock? Is that like a Chunky bar? Can I have one?"
      It was supposed to rain all day, but instead the sun struggled to break through the clouds. A lovely day, even if it was the first day of HATEFUL AUTUMN. The woods had a constant whir of crickets and cicadas, and the breeze sent acorns tumbling to the ground every other minute. None of the leaves have changed. Not a single tree in the state of Connecticut has fall colors yet. Except for the TREES OUTSIDE MY DAMN LIVING ROOM WINDOW.
      I hate Fall, but Fall hated me first.
      Then I went to BIG!Lo--
      Stop doing that, or I'm turning this car around and you won't get to go to Six Flags! You wouldn't like THAT, now would you?! I bought $19 worth of junkola, mainly juice and snackfoods, but also Xmas lights (for the inside--it's dark when I get home, and she's not nicknamed Underfootnik without good reason). This B!L has a different selection than the one I usually frequent, and their Jerry Van Dyke standup has a broken neck (Hey, don't look at me, he was like that when I got here!). The cashier was...very...slooow. She took a full minute to acknowledge my existence (by starting to ring me up, not by talking to or looking at me). She even spoke slow. Actual quote, to another cashier: "When I'm done...I'm going to...get the trash...and empty it...cause I filled it...up......Okay?" She was like a real life version of Bob & Ray's "Slow Talkers Of America" skit.
      This B!L had no Star Wars Episode Two cereal. I had some of that last night. Since I haven't had breakfast cereal in a long time, I overestimated how much milk to use. But I flashed right back to childhood--Too much milk? Pour in more cereal and eat again! Kill Kill had a teaspoonful of milk, as that's as much as she'll ever drink. I offered her a milk-soaked Clone Trooper marshmallow head, but she politely refused. Strangely, the cereal made me very sleepy, and I had to take a nap. Which, of course, is the very same thing that the first hour of Episode Two did to me.
      On the way home I saw a car with the vanity plate HO BLDG. Either he lives in a very, very small model railroad depot, or he's actually building a ho. Where do you get the parts for that? Home Depot? I guess that there wasn't enough space on the plate to spell out "Frankenhooker."
      Not that anyone cares, but I got a new hit tracker for this page. This is maybe my seventh counter in 5 years. They always go bust on me. Looong time readers of this drivel will remember 2 years ago, when I stopped Newsing for 3 months. That was because of the fact that the hits on the InExOb dropped by a third one week, and stayed there. It seems funny to me that there was once a time when I'd give a shit about "only" having an audience of 1700 hits per week instead of 2500. I finally figured out that the problem wasn't that 800 people decided that I sucked, but that FunCounter was simply going down constantly. It was easy to spot when it was crashing for hours or days, but it was going down minutes during the hours. Did I mention that this happened right after it was bought by Microsoft?
      My last counter, with the stupid name XTREME! Counter, stopped giving me referrers. I don't care how many people hit this (there's about 50 of you, BTW), but I do want to know if I'm getting readers from other sites. I quickly discovered that, for one brief shining moment, I was Google's expert on the Fighting Foodons TV show, due to exactly one reference on this page. That did lead me to this entertaining journal/blog by some guy in Houston. "As I was exiting the lanky, mid-jointed number two this morning, I overheard the driver telling a passenger that she didn't care what went on as long as no one messed with her. 'In my bus you can curl up with a blanket, you can sleep, you can eat your food, you can get your drink on, you can bring your woman up in here... shiiiiit, my bus is like a mobile motel!' Something tells me I'm going to check the seats a little more carefully from now on before I sit."
      Speaking of which...You guys all know that you can link right to this url, bypassing the main index of thoughtviper.com, right? Because Gourd says that it's a sin to waste bandwidth!

      Pamela in Miami sends this Flash short: "Saw this and thought of you... or, well, of Killsy." It is an astonishing likeness (her ears are bigger and eyes more golden than Sam's, though). I assume there's audio, but I can't hear it, due to issues my motherfuckerboard is having.

      Despite her fearsome name, Kill Kill reserves her belligerence for toy mice and not me. Unlike the cats of meankitty.com.

      A short and funny rant on using Netspeak inappropriately. And read the article that follows, which is in a totally different vein. There would be no wars if everyone had this level of empathy.

      A long, thoughtful article on an issue of invading Iraq that everyone's ignoring: If we win, what then?



      ...And all was fine and good, until some wise guy asked, "Who would win in a fight?"
      The fighting has spread here.


      A short one, as I'm pretty tired. I think I'm coming down with a cold or zombieitis. Mmmm...BRAINS! BRAAAINS!!
      (Jeez, I just read the Onion, and they did the same zombie brain-eating joke. We're reaching a point of Critical Joke Mass, when evey website comes up with the same jokes simulataneously)
      I've wanted a copy of Dougal Dixon's "After Man" for years. I saw that Book Happy was selling one--for $35. I decided to try my luck on eBay, and immediately snagged one for 5 bucks.
      I have "The New Dinosaurs" by the same author. He's an artist and paleontologist with a fascination for evolution and ecological niches, the nooks and crannies where predator and prey find their respective dinner tables. "Dinosaurs" was interesting and boring--Great paintings of very believable dinosaurs, as they would look today if that big rock hadn't slammed the Gulf of Mexico 65 megabig ones ago. But they evolved just like the mammals did. There were dinosaur giraffes and whales and seals.
      "Man After Man" was much more imaginative. And quite creepy. Humans begin genetically designing weird variations on themselves, like people who can live in the vacuum of space or the bottom of the ocean. Eventually, humanity is done in by its rape of the environment and its own genetic impotence (Dixon seems to believe in eugenics). Homo sapiens dies off, but humanity lives on in wild animals based on human DNA. Over the millenia and billenia, human predators eat human prey. It's the most interesting book of his. I found mine a few years back at Borders for $5.
      "After Man" also assumes the extinction of humanity. Just as after the the doom of the dinosaurs, the little critters scampering between the feet of the giants evolve into their ecological niches. Deer-sized rabbits are hunted by wolf-sized rats.
      The amazing thing was the envelope the book came in today. It was plastered with 27 stamps! I don't remember the shipping being that much! Then I noticed that they were all 8 or 10 cent stamps. And some had a Bicentennial theme, or celebrated America's "Decade in Space" with a picture of Apollo 11. The stamps are all 25 to 30 years old. Someday the envelope may be worth more than the book.

      Guy tries to cross the Atlantic in a hot air balloon, makes it as far as 5 miles up the road from my store.

      Recipes from a cookbook for bachelors. For real.

      For the first time since she was a kitten, Kill Kill stomped all over the stuff in the recycling bin. I guess that she's reminding me that it's Recycling Night. Au revoir.


      The first thing I saw this morning was that "someone"--oh, I wonder who--had decided to play in the bathroom sink overnight. Just stuff knocked over or to the floor, like Killsy was standing up to bat at the toilet paper (which I keep in the medicine cabinet so that she doesn't destroy it). When I got out of the shower, I turned on the blow dryer, expecting it to whooosh hot air. Instead, it went burrrrrr and all that whooshed was thick grey smoke, acrid with the stink of burning hair. It's 15 years old and thus was ready to go to the great hair salon in the sky (via the dumpster). Hmm...but it's in the medicine cabinet where KK was standing last night...and she's never liked the sound of it...Hmm...I wonder what she's been doing with all her shedded hair...
      Good thing I bought that old 50s blow dryer at the SalvArmy for $4 years ago. I just liked the look of it. It's all metal, except for the plastic hand grip. Its maximum speed and heat are about half of my old--err, newer one. But it's a "Handy-Hannah"! Made by the Handy-Hannah Products Corporation of Whitman, MA. Your life has been enriched by this knowledge, I just know it has.
      And that was the least of our hardware problems today. I asked Kevin, who built the current Pookie, why sometimes it wouldn't load the sound or the trackball or the keyboard. And why that CD-RW I'd stuck in the secondary CD drive wouldn't come out. Not even when I'd stuck a paper clip in the manual eject. It'd just blink green green green in the spot of blinky green lightness. He said "BIOS problems with that motherboard," or possibly "bibbity bobbity boo," for all that means to dumbassed me. "I'll have to come over and fix that for you," he said. Two weeks ago.
      I was surfing tonight and *blip* the screen went black. Maybe this is an XP upgrade, the Black Screen of Death. Nothing happened when I ctrl-alt-del'ed. Well, that's what reset buttons are for. Pookie popped back up, and I clicked on my Internet connection. The little hourglass appeared. The blinky green light of the CD-ROM continued to blink green. And nothing happened. I hit the Windows Menu key, and the taskbar popped up. I clicked on it, and nothing happened. UMM, this is worrisome! So I reset again. The same things happened. Reset again. As above. Rinse and repeat two times more. This is the point where I'm unhappy that the used computer place is closed. The "nothing happens" happens again, but this time I can get the Menu up, and finally can hit the real Reset button off of it.
      Obviously, that worked, or you wouldn't be reading this. But I think I need to get Kevin to do his BIOSopsy on this thing soon...
      When it did finally work, I breathed a sigh of relief. And noticed that the blinky green light NO LONGER BLINKED GREEN. I pressed "eject," and the CD popped out. After four months. Kevin needs to look at this real, REAL soon.

      America's Richest: The Forbes Fictional Fifteen. And an angry and funny attack on its accuracy, especially as it regards vault-swimming ducks.

      "Saddam invaded Kuwait, stole its money, and used poison gas on his own people!" What with all the talk of "regime change" in Iraq, exactly who are we planning on changing to? The CIA's 3 stooges: Either an Enron-level embezzler, a leader of the invasion of Kuwait and massacrerer of anti-Saddam Iraqis, or the general in charge of USING THE POISON GAS ON THE KURDS. I only WISH I could say that this surprised me.

      The Religious Right is deliberately trying to destroy Public Radio.

      Oh yes, I forgot to post this last night: Shayna lets everyone answer my question "Who would win in a fight, Pancake Bunny or Baturtle?"


      If Handy-Hannah is a 50s version of a blowdryer, then the 50s version of a shower must've been wiping your hair with a soggy napkin. It dried my ponytail as fast as someone blowing on their soup to cool it off. Now I'm going to have to buy a prohibitively expensive exotically hightechian blow dryer for $10. At Big!Lots.

      The last New got a Google hit from someone looking for "paul reisner helen hunt they don't catch on whole." Yes, I can see why you'd look for that. TO POOP ON! Ha ha! I am so "dope" with the "homies" with my "right on" "far out and funky" references!

      Kill Kill has spent the last 10 minutes staring at a something near the laundry hamper. Possibly there is a slowly moving bug. I better go give her backup.


      It was a spider. That bug KK was after last night. She stomped it. The Small White Tiger does not like intruders in her realm.

      And neither do I...
      Yesterday, a regular customer (who, oddly enough, I used to work with at Sam Goody 10 years ago) told me that he'd heard that the cops were going to do a sting that night. I thanked him for the tip, but I said that I wasn't worried. We've always beaten the stings. We're the town's biggest badasses when it comes to carding underage drinkers! I thought about calling the other 2 stores about this, but I'd forgotten to ask the guy where he got his info. If I was asked "How does he know?" was I going to say, "Uhh, he's a roofer. Maybe he was working on the police station roof." Plus, who cares? My crew is made up of badasses!!
      I forgot that "my crew" hasn't been mine in one store for over a year. The stingers waited until the busiest possible time, 15 minutes before closing on a Friday (like they always do), and went to a cashier that I've never worked with (who, oddly enough, is the sister of another employee that I worked with 5 years ago at Lechmere). She didn't even ask for ID. She thought that he looked under 30 (then card him!) and she kinda thought that she'd seen him before (if you're not sure--CARD HIM!!). Then a plainclothes cop was in her face, and, in front of a store full of customers, she was arrested and handcuffed.
      The store is facing a $2500 fine and a 3-day forced closure. Maybe we can lawyer it down to just the fine, as that's less money than we'd make in that store in 3 days. It pisses me off. This is so close to entrapment, as they send in underagers from the Police Athletic League with underage IDs, but they pick the kids that don't look underage. THEY break the law, then arrest US for the law they broke.
      I was talking on the phone with Shelley, a manager at the busted store. "Let me guess," I said. "He bought a 6 of Bud." "Yes! How did you know?!" "They ALWAYS buy 6s of Bud. They're underage nondrinkers, so the cops send them in to buy the easiest thing they can find."
      Just before closing tonight, a kid of the "Damned if I'm not carding YOU" age came in, and poked in the wine aisle. 21 year olds do NOT buy a fine merlot. They buy beer and liquor from the "get all fucked up an' shit!" category. Immediately after, a girl, 24 years old max maybe, walked in, went straight to the beer cooler and grabbed a...6 of Bud! "May I see your ID?" I smiled. Pause. "I left it in my car." A pause long enough that she's hoping that I don't tell her to go get it. "I'll need to see it," I say without smiling. "I'll get it!" she says, and walks out the door. And up and up the plaza sidewalk. If she's in a car, she's parked it where we can't see it. HMM, could it ever so possibly be that it's a VAN with BLACKED-OUT WINDOWS with COPS inside, listening to the WIRE she's wearing, and parked on the other side of the plaza so that I can't SEE this OBVIOUS PROOF of POLICE INVOLVEMENT?
      The other kid left as soon as she did, and got in a pickup and drove off in the same direction that she'd walked. He was too young to be of age, I'm sure, and clean-cut enough to be from the PAL. Maybe it wasn't her wearing the wire, but him. HMM, come to think, her shirt was needlessly skintight, and he was wearing a jacket in 70 degree weather...
      Unfortunately, he made his departure so hastily that I didn't get a chance to flash a big smile and sarcastically ask, "I'm sorry, sir--Didn't you find what you were looking for?"
      I repeatedly carded people in their 30s the rest of the night. Jitters? No. It's my job.

Remember that eBay auction of the picture of Dumbya made up of itsie-bitsie teeny-weeny tiny polka dot Jesuses? Mike in the UK informs us of the Jesus picture made from tiny Dumbyas. The page also tells you how to make your own tiled mosaic portraits but in geeky words I can't understand. The site's Holy Grail is "the Bill Clinton made of porn."

      "The official U.S. government message on how citizens should decide about going to war is, 'Don't worry your pretty little heads about it.' Last week the White House issued a sort of Official Souvenir Guide to the Bush administration's national security policy, and it is full of rhetoric about democracy. Yet that policy itself, including at least one likely war, has been imposed on the country entirely without benefit of democracy. George W.'s war on Iraq will be the reductio ad absurdum of America's long, slow abandonment of any pretense that the people have any say in the question of whether their government will send some of them far away to kill and die."


      "Ahead the beautiful road lies..."

      A cup of tea, some web and a mighty session of Kill the Toy Mice started my morning. And there actually was still a half-hour of morning left when I got up.
      After I ran through my usual daily reads, I looked at a couple of Google requests that led to here. I still get several hits a day looking for Fighting Foodons, but most are from idiots that fail to put quotes around their requests, and thus get a random string of words. Such as the guy who looked for everytime you masturbate a cat dies. He clicked on my site despite the summary sentences being "... in order to prevent being cat ... Everytime you think "This is the ... that I'd probably never masturbate ... in my face, sneering that "You ... be your last!" Then it all dies ... " Of course, by quoting this, I'll now get hits for "I'd probably never masturbate in my face." Trust me--I wouldn't.
      Since I had a Google window open, I checked on a couple of better names for this site that, unfortunately, I didn't think of until after I went through the torturous process of registering thoughtviper.com last year. One was interbang.org, which is still available. An "interbang" is "?!" combined into one character (or !?, as Mimi tells me is the Aussie version). No real reason why I like that, except that it sounds cool, like a confused and surprised version of Interpol. And I use ?! a lot.
      The other and far superior one was splutopia.com. Splut plus Utopia, geddit? I searched for that, expecting no hits except for the old New that had the word in its title. GAK! There's another Splutopia out there?!
      Oh. SPL plus Utopia, SPL being some sort of sound system used in cars that go boom. That's about as far from the definition of Princess Kitty's self-coined word "Splut" as you can get.
      And there was a third link! Confusingly and surprisingly ( or ?!ingly), it's something from Pop Culture Junk Mail's Gael, on a webring of collections of online journals. This drivel is there, as well as the undrivelly Space Waitress. Very few of the rest I recognize, beyond obvious ones like Boing Boing. I'm going to work my way down the list and check 'em all out. The first two I read, Sundry and Secret Kings, are great reading. Such as this on The Curse from Sundry, or this simple but perfect observation from Secret Kings.
      I read a bunch of each diary, and the writing was so good that I got that twinge of inadequacy. I don't think that I'm a bad writer by any means. But I'm only an interesting writer, as opposed to a fascinating one. I'm "effective." I'm "precise." I can't "write a lyrical or poetic description if you held a gun or a naked 1966 Dawn Wells to my head," is all. I'm...Hemingwayesque, yeah that's it! I get right to the point and I'm frequently drunk! Oh, how ever do I esque!
      I'd be better if I didn't lead a sheltered existence, I guess. If it seems like my life consists of work, the Net, the Cat, junk shopping, the occasional visit with Jess or Kev or Scott and walking in the woods when the weather's nice, it's because that's what it does consist of, right down to the molecular level. And in a month, it'll be so cold that one item will drop off of that list.
      That, of course, being the segue into today's The Weather Was Nice So I Walked In The Woods story. You people really find this stuff interesting?! My prose is effectively precise, but ultimately disposable. It's disProsable!
      The trail I was on last week split into two at the Hemlock Info box. I followed the north trail a few miles, until I figured out where I was. A couple more miles, and I'd be walking past the Super 8 Motel. A few more, and I'd be within easy distance of the Store. Feh. This is why I've never fully checked out the Rails to Trails system. The one behind my condo ends in busy roads at each end, and runs through people's backyards for the most part. The woods aren't that wide. There's no sense of Only Person in the World that I can deceive myself with in a state park here. But there was a bucolic stretch of a couple miles on the north trail, so I decided to try the south one today.
      If I wanted a picture of an old telegraph pole, I went the wrong way last week. There were about 5 over the course of a mile. The south trail had one every 25-75 feet for miles. It looks like they were originally every 25 feet, but over the decades a few had fallen down. There must have been two hundred still standing. The telegraph had been so thoroughly eclipsed by radio in the heavily settled Northeast that the technology wasn't even worth knocking down, just left to disappear in the forest alongside the railroad, which joined it when highways became commonplace. The poles were all stripped of their wires; I'm willing to bet that that happened in World War II, when copper was in short supply.
      It must be weird to be a kid growing up with a telegraph pole right in your backyard. Weird in the You Don't Know It's Weird sense. When I was a kid, I assumed everybody had apple trees in their backyard. If that brings an image of little Billy sittin' in the ol' tree, barefoot and wearing overalls while chompin' on an apple like Splutleberry Finn, it shouldn't. The apples were small and icky tasting, so my main memory of the trees was being careful where I walked, lest I step on a squishy rotten apple that might be getting eaten by a short-tempered yellowjacket. The Big Tree was good for climbing, though, and also nailing Creepy Crawlers to, in an effort to scare my little sisters. Oddly, none were frightened by the common New England tree-climbing gila monster.
      A mother and her preschool son were walking the trail. "Should I carry you?" she asked him. "I won't get tired!" he enthused. "I'm gonna walk forever! All the way to the tunnel an' back!" The tunnel? Oh, THE Tunnel. Tunnel Road, a local landmark and annoyance. It has the highly specific claim to fame of being the oldest one-lane tunnel in Connecticut. Which is still used for traffic. You can sit 5 minutes at the damn thing waiting to drive through it, one car at a time.
      Eventually, the backyards ended and the woods expanded. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was really becoming deep woods, or at least as deep as it could get with a bike trail running through it. The old railroad ran along the side of a steep hill, a hundreds of feet slope down and a hundred more above of glacial bedrock. I've lived 3 miles from this trail for 15 years without ever knowing it. And it seems like I'm the only person in town unaware of it, as it was pretty busy. I was one of the few not riding a bike or being dragged by a big dog, and the only one gawking at the trees and boulders and telegraph poles. Nature should be appreciated, not ignored like grocery store Muzak.
      I thought that I was hallucinating when I heard a pig oinking and grunting behind me. Was I about to be mauled by a wild boar, without Tod Holton Super Green Beret's uncle to save me? (It says something about my brain that that thought was literally the first thing to come to mind) I looked back and saw a couple walking a small, low-to-the-ground black animal. A pot-bellied pig! And a damn noisy one. Grunt and oink, grunt and oink. When they passed me, I saw that it WAS a dog, one that made only piggie noises. And I always thought that Pigdog was a website.
      At one point I caught a glimpse of what I really can't call graffiti. On a sheer rock face someone had painted--hand painted, not spraypainted--a 5 stanza poem. The years of weathering and a coating of wet moss made it almost completely illegible. I could make out the words "America" and "This is Connecticut," but the only complete part I could decipher was this:

      A Google search finds no match. How long ago was this painted? And is this the only copy of the poem, now lost forever under the moss?
      There were mile markers every so often. The 4 mile one simply said END. But the trail didn't, and I was determined to see where it did.
      In retrospect, the marker was actually giving me some good advice.
      By this point, every telegraph pole every 25 feet had the same No Trespassing sign on it. Were they put up by the town when they redid the trail, or was this all one person's property? There were no backyards here. I couldn't tell how far back the woods went, but there were no trails into the property. I came across, in the absolute middle of nowhere, an old train depot. Unlike the telegraph system, this was in immaculate repair. It had the same POSTED: Private Property signs like everything else, but it was in the middle of freakin' nowhere! It was surrounded by lawn, and a grassy trail that led south. And it looked mowed. This was the first sign of human habitation in the No Walk Zone, but I didn't see the house that the mowed trail led to until a mile later. Long drive on the ride-on.
      There was a litle brook that began running along the edge of the trail. It had markers that informed me that it had been "reconstructed" under the LUNKERS project. That stands for Little Underwater Neighborhood Keepers Encompassing Rheotatic Salmonids. If I didn't already know that the Military did the trail and the brook, that kLUNKy acronym would've tipped me off. It started life as a brook, became a railside drainage ditch, and now was changed back to its original brookiness, so that trout and minnows could live in it. That's awesome, but the brook was 6 inches deep, and I didn't see me no fishies. Maybe it was stocked with nanotrout.
      Finally, I saw a yellow gate blocking the trail up ahead. The end of the trail! I was amazed. I'd walked 5 miles without it endi--Oh, dang, it isn't ending! It splits off in 3 directions!
      I kept at it. I was starting to hear traffic. It must end soon. And there it was, a parking lot just like the one I started at, and the traffic was roaring. I was at the highway...And it didn't end! It went UNDER the highway! I wished that I'd brought my camera; under the overpass was smooth concrete that ended in untouched boulders. It was like a passageway in a villain's lair in a Bond movie. And it continued. So did I. Dammit, where the hell am I?! I spotted a sign for "Notch Road" way above me, but I don't know any Notch Roads...
      Then it clicked. A factoid from the Rails to Trails page I'd read last week: There's a trail that goes to Willimantic, and I'm on it. If I follow this to the end and turn around, I should arrive home around...let's see...2 AM.
      This was the point that the Grand Expedition ended.
      Page to the right of this map if you want to see my route. I started at the top "P" near Church Road, and made it well past Notch Road. I walked 12 miles total, and that was without exploring any of the side trails. Tomorrow's supposed to be even nicer than today, and on a weekday I should have the place largely to myself. I may go again.
      Or maybe not. My legs might not feel so great tomorrow after 12 miles today. "Ahead the beautiful road lies, Which leads to Painful Thighs."

      That was pretty esque, huh? Now I need to get drunk and kill me a bull! ARR, matey!
      I'll bet that Hemingway talked like a pirate.


      After all that woodland traipsing yesterday, I wasn't surprised when I went to bed 3 hours earlier than usual. Sleeping only 3 hours is a different story. I figured that I'd be out cold for 12 hours. Instead, I went into that horrible half-world of "too awake to sleep, too sleepy to stay awake." To hell with this, said I. Daddy needs his medicine! I got up and brewed a cup of bedtime tea (Ancient Yogic Formula, available at BIG!Lots). I must've picked the Bizarro World tea bag, as it woke me right up. Daddy gave up on medicine and had a couple of beers, but that didn't work either. All that left was going back online until I burned out.
      Space Waitress had a link to these silly singing Viking Kittens. It shows my desperate mental state that I waited for the Shockwave or Flash to load. Every since this computer got its upgrade, it either says "Loading" and then gives me a blank screen, or I get video but no sound. But it worked! Huzzah! I got to hear the little white kitten scream "We are your Overlords!"
      Emboldened, I clicked on another movie file, and that worked, too! So I went back to "My Cat Sam," and got the audio that I couldn't get just days ago! I even saw the sequel to My Cat Sam, which was fortunately not named "Son of Sam." It's funny in a deliberately retarded way. The other movie, American Girls, is funny in an undeliberately retarded way. I even got a Golden Oldie to finally work, All Your Base. You may have heard of that one.
      The downside is that now I'm afraid to turn the computer off, for fear of losing my newly-regained power to look at dopey web animations.
      I finally zonked out at 530AM. Unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth; every hour I awoke, then fell back to an unsatisfying sleep, only to awaken again. I raggedly dragged myself from bed at 1130. A cup of Red Rose tea, a bottle of Lemon Zinger iced tea and a good round of interactive cat play got most of my synapses firing in the correct order.
      The weather was nice today. Guess what I did.
      Yesterday I could see the roof of a gazebo and part of a pond from the heights of the rail trail, right below a bike rack by another trail that ran down the hillside. There must be a park down there. I decided to invesitgate that today. I figured that it would be best to drive directly to the park, since I didn't know if I'd walk a mile and then have my leg muscles explode. I didn't know where the park was, but it had to be either off of this one road, or one of its sideroads. And the cold hand of logic said that either way, there would be a sign that said "Park."
      I always put too much faith in other people using the cold hand of logic.
      It wasn't off the main road, and there were no signs on either Valley Falls Road or Bread and Milk Road (what, no Milk and Cheese Road?). So I just kept on a-goin'. Evidentally all that Private Property I saw yesterday does belong to one owner. There was a few miles of woods with the occasional tiny plot of farmed field, all behind one single, ancient stone wall. That's great, unless the owner's just waiting for the right offer to sell it to a developer. The other side of the road had 50s and 60s homes, all on wide, forested lots. A modern developer would clear-cut the forest into a suburban desert of McMansions, jammed together on lots 3 feet wider than the houses' walls.
      The road ended right near where I gave up walking yesterday. So I looped around and parked at the same place, and entered the trail the long way.
      It's a good thing that I snapped a picture of the Hemlock Info Box last week, as today it was GONE. 200 telegraph poles are left there for a human lifetime, but not this. "Mayor! A terrible outbreak of HEMLOCK has occured on the west side of town!" "May God help us! If only--there was some way to tell people this INFO!" "There might be, Mayor--there just might be!!"
      Why it was gone, I don't know, but I know who took it. There's a big concrete post padlocked to the ground at the beginning of the trail. It's to keep idiots from driving their cars in there. But the post was pulled out of the ground and laying to the side. That meant that they were mowing the woods. Yeah, that's as brilliant as it sounds. It's freakin' OCTOBER in NEW ENGLAND. In a month, the only green will be on leftovers in the back of our refrigerators. I immediately saw one of those giant municipal lawn mowers, the kind with a crane-like scythe. The Grim Reaper of Lawn Boy. Thankfully, he was on his way out. I couldn't even tell what the hell he'd cut. I didn't walk around yesterday thinking, "Uh-oh, better look out for that highly dangerous bracken! The common New England underbrush Komodo dragon may be lying in ambush under that dandelion!"
      As expected, I had the place pretty much to myself as I walked to the bike rack. I followed the trail down towards the park. Trails, to be more exact. Umm, not this way, go back and try that other way. Okay, no, try the other other way--Oh. Umm, here's the park's trail, and it's 20 feet of Straight Down. I climbed, stumbled and crab-walked down to the valley. There was a small waterfall. I think I know which sideroad I should've taken, especially since I didn't see any bread or milk.
      I did see a roped part of the trail, with little placards every few yards. Each placard had one half in text, and the other in Braille. It was the Braille Trail! Their name, not mine. I followed it through. The text described what the blind couldn't see, with emphasis on what they could hear or touch. Bizarrely, it sometimes described things that weren't there! Kind of a rude thing to do.
      This was once a mill, which burned down, then a trout hatchery founded by the local who later designed one of the key Union weapons in the Civil War, the Sharp's Repeating Rifle (Huh, I didn't know that), and later, someone bought the whole damn area, pond, falls and all, as their luxury summer home. One placard mentioned a stand of hemlock trees. Ohhh, that explains it...
      MAYOR: (digging a post-hole) Put the info box HERE! And QUICK!!
      There was a map of the whole trail area. Finally. The trail that looped around the pond would run parallel to the rail trail. There didn't seem to be a connecting trail, but I figured I'd take it anyway. Lewis and Clark and Splut! Onward, into the Great Unknown!
      The trail opened up into a meadow, with wildflowers and crickets and birdsong and dragonflies the size of Mothra. Beautiful. I was a ways along the trail when it occured to me that there was a big area marked "Private Property" on the map, but it was on the right. That's funny, it was on my left yesterd--
      --Because you were walking south yesterday, dimbulb. Maps orient north. So once again, I was going to who-knows-where.
      Most people would've cut their losses and turned around. I am not most people! (You could also say that an intelligent person would've turned around, but I prefer not to phrase it that way) I summoned my inner Junior Woodchuck and sallied forth. I knew that to get back on the rail trail, I just had to go Up There. Up 200 feet of deeply wooded nearly vertical Up There, so no time soon. But obviously I'd eventually hit the Private Property. If I made it to that train depot, that was just yards from the trail. Hopefully I wouldn't get a backside full of buckshot for trespassing. But I'd probably not have to go that far. When I reached the No Walk Zone, the trail was either going to end, or veer up to the rail trail. That's what the cold hand of logic says!
      Possibly this was a flaw in my plan.
      It wasn't. The trail dropped me off just a hundred feet from the private property. On the way back, I discovered that the trail to the park was about 25 feet further up from that bike rack. I didn't have to rapell down the hillside. Well, Lewis and Clark didn't know where they were going, either.

      That "Milk and Cheese" link was just my little dork. Er, joke. Evan Dorkin's the guy who writes the comic collection "Dork!" I was excited to see that his "link of the moment" is one of the first things that I ever linked to, 5 years ago: Kaiju Big Battel. It's a demented cross between wrestling, giant Japanese monsters, and theater of the absurd. Great to see that they're still around! Checking out site of large monster fight, must be you for the laugh!
      Oh, great, they've got an online mall. Like I didn't just drop $100 at J-List last week. Time to drag out the Visa again...

      Mark the Vet says "With your mention of masturbation, I thought this was appropriate. Weird as all get out, but appropriate." More apropos than you know, Marko. It's a retarded Shockwave video from the crazy land of Japan. It's called Knead Your Dick, and it's as XXXplicit as ASCII can get. Which isn't very. With kittens!