NEW 4.4

"It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things:
freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them."
--Mark Twain


      Last night Kill Kill loudly demanded a piece of my cheeseburger, so I gave her exactly what she wanted: a leaf of lettuce that she devoured as noisily as possible. Then she cried "Let's play!" I crawled around the floor, picking up dozens of mice and bouncy balls and shooters and fliers. I threw a mouse, and she immediately jumped into her sleepin' box to watch. Cat TV. She seems to like it, but it bores me. I got out that RC car I bought a couple of weeks back; at least I'd have fun. But she jumped out of the box and stared with big kitty eyes as it raced and crashed across the kitchen floor. It's fun to watch her jump and scamper away from it when it gets too close. She wasn't afraid of it; if it sat still for only 10 seconds she'd sneak up to slap at it, then run away when it started moving again. There were grocery bags on the floor as an obstacle course. Best was when it got caught inside some plastic bags and dragged them around from inside like some goofy land-squid. It definitely got the highest ratings for Cat TV's sweeps week.

      I heard a radio ad for the Viva Las Vegas hotel voiced, inevitably, by an Elvis impersonator. He said that their package deals were "sweet as a peanut butter and banana sandwich," which got me thinking on cuisine a la Presley. A peanut butter and nana sammitch, how unhealthy could that be? A lot, if you fry it in a stick of butter. His personal cook said of him, "When he ate, butter would be running down his arms." It's kind of understandable that a poor kid raised in the rural South during the Depression might enjoy eating several servings an hour from the Lard segment of the food pyramid. The Ultimate Food fit for only the King was "Fool's Gold Loaf." Here's the typo-ridden recounting of the story (after the fried squirrel), with a bowel-clogging recipe for the Loaf, in case you too want to make some and die from heart failure while on the toilet at age 42.

      Google failed me for the first time. I knew that "oddball comics" "zody the mod rob" should lead directly to what I wanted, but no permutation of the search turned it up. So I manually went through 2 years' worth of 5-days-a-week-every-month archives before I found the link. One of the few direct links to just "zody the mod rob" was an article titled How Not to Run a Comic Book Company, about the very short-lived Atlas Comics. I know of them only from a copy of Planet of Vampires that I found in the quarter bin once. 1975 was a real bad time for comics, and this was really hard to get through. It was one of those comics where everybody yells at each other all the time, and that's considered "realistic dialogue." I later found out a lot more when good ol' Gone and Forgotten did several columns/attacks on their output. "Reading these things is like sucking down a balloon full of sulfur and lemon juice!"
      To prove that there's no topic so obscure that someone won't do a webpage on it, the main site is
The Atlas Archives. It looks for diamonds among the dross, though it clearly admits that Atlas had a lot of problems. They hired highly talented freelance help with the idea of establishing their own distinctive house style, only to be slapped down by the publisher. He hated Marvel, and so he wanted to be Marvel...Whatever. I'm going to open a restaurant next to McDonalds and make a burger called the "Flaming Dead Ronald Smashed Clownburger" and then make it taste just like a greasy Big Mac, yeah, that'll work!
      There's short looks at each comic, with nice scans of the covers. Maybe they had a few good ideas in there, but the publisher decided to ram as many different titles onto the newsracks as he could with as little development time as possible. Almost every title lasted 3-4 issues before the company went under. And why wouldn't they? Hey, here's our dark & gritty take on a certain arachnidal Marvel hero, the Tarantula! Spins a web, any size! Even though tarantulas don't spin webs. Catches thieves, just like flies! Then EATS them. Y'okay, that's novel, but I don't think that you're going to see a lot of cross-branding with the Tarantula. Don't expect to see him on Underoos anytime soon. Especially since he turns into a monstrous guy with the face of--A TARANTul...a...No, wait, he gets a face like a fly crossed with a large-mouthed bass biting a worm in half.
      There's also a Real! Police! Action! title called .POLICE ACTION! starring LOMAX, NYPD. I assumed he's called Lomax because he's a low-rent version of "Mannix." What was that MST3K where they started spouting off Quinn Martinesque titles, like "Tonight's Episode: Hickory Dickory DEAD!" Here's the real thing, a crime story titled "One Hot Dog With MURDER, Please!" Lomax eats a hot dog (with MURDER! and kraut) and a bank right next to the hot dog stand is robbed. Lomax kills both perps, then returns to the hot dog stand (with MURDER! that plumps when it cooks) and finds out that a cop was shot and killed while he was gone. At the hot dog stand. In Central Park. In broad daylight. With no witnesses. The next day, another cop is shot and killed with MURDER! next to the hot dog stand. Again, no witnesses. The murder wasn't seen by fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks, even kids with chicken pox didn't see MURDER! Hot dog Murders! The corpse kids love to biiite! And in the end--THE HOT DOG STAND GUY DID IT! Holy shit, Lomax! Good deteckytive work there! You really showed up your tree-hugging hippy brother the Lorax there! Why Nathan the Famous Fatal Frankfurter of Doom just didn't poison the cops with his dogs of hell is unexplained. It would've taken a bit longer to be caught without the shootings, I'd think. Maybe he could've just caused them to call out sick from work for a few days. It'd be the same as killing them for a few days, wouldn't it? He wouldn't even have to poison them. Let 'em chow down a few Coney Island footlongs and then ask, "So, how were your mechanically processed slaughterhouse sweepings and beef rectums? Me, I thought that they had a bit too much rat feces today, but that's just me."
      (And what did I have for dinner tonight that was served in a hot dog roll? Tofu Pups. Just thought that I'd bring that up before your 4th of July BBQs. MMMM, rat feces and rectums!!)


      Scott sent me a video of Cute Cats, but he was emailed it, too, so he didn't know the source. Kirk sent a place to download it from, but there's ladies and they're nekked and putting weiners in their mouths. It's pretty funny and cute, except for the kitten walking on a cactus. He was probably okay after that, but, you know. Kill Kill went near a cactus when she was tiny, and I raced across the room to stop her.


      Woke up with a headache, and waking up with a headache means a migraine. Usually it feels like a beast that's just arms with clawed hands, each claw sunk deep in a buried part of my brain, refusing to let go. I immediately thought of taking a Vicuprofen. But no; those are precious as pearls, and the Migraine hadn't quite hit the "Nothing will dislodge me!" phase. It was less a pile of claws than an anaconda, squeezing my head hard but before the fangs came out. So I took a couple of ibuprifen and went back to bed.
      Slept until 3PM. Took more ibuprofen. A couple of hours later, probably from all the ibu, I started feeling nauseous again. AGAIN. Now I'm just sitting here miserable, hoping that it doesn't carry on into work tomorrow. Nausea now usually means vomiting tomorrow.
      Happy Independance Day! I'd be happy just be independent of feeling sick 3 times a week.
      Just so you feel ill, too, here's a look at the latest horrors on the McDonalds menu.


      Let's face facts. There just isn't going to be a lot of posting here. Either I'm too sick, or I'm too grateful to not be sick to spend time typing, detailing the mundane randomness of my life. This Thing has hit the Worry Phase: Is this going to go away, or is this what the rest of my life is going to be like? Or the start of something that becomes worse? Somehow, what I bought at BIG!Lots or whatever doesn't seem as important to announce to the world as it once did.
      The doctor took some blood today and gave me a new prescription--Ranitidine, whatever that is--and if that doesn't work, another prescription for the Purple Pill, Nexium. Whatever that is; I hear ads on the radio for it all the time, but they never actually say why I should be taking it. Outside of the purpleness. Please please please, either pill, please work. After 3 months, I don't care WHY this is happening, I just want it not to.
      The doctor referred to my ailment as a "medical mystery," and I asked, "If it turns out to be something unknown to science, do they name it after you, or me?" "Actually, me," he said. "But I'll mention you in my memoirs."

      A coupla books have cheered me up through the latest bouts of nausea. There's a very old, very large used bookstore across the street from the New Store. It's almost impossible to casually shop, as it's underlit and there must be in excess of 100,000 volumes in there, all facing spine-out. I glanced over the foyer, where they have 50 cent giveaways. Crap like 1992 Fodor guides to Pennsylvania and medical textbooks from the 50s makes up the bulk of it. But there was a copy of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay there. I'd heard enough mentions of the book to give it a try for half a buck. It's amazing, all right. It sucked me in with the first sentence. I'm halfway through its 656 pages already. Ostensibly it's about the world of comic books c.1940, but (so far) it's about Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish jack-of-all-trades whose parents get him to America from Nazi-controlled Czechoslovakia, and his efforts to get the rest of the family over before it's too late. Sounds really dark and heavy, but it isn't. The era is captured perfectly, and even the throwaway characters are memorably personalized. Here's the first chapter, so judge for yourself.
      The other book was even cheaper--it was free. Space Waitress mentioned that you can download free ebooks for Microsoft Reader. I wasn't expecting to find anything I wanted to read, but gosh darn if they didn't have another book I'd heard enough about that I was thinking about buying: A Short History of Nearly Everything. It's a breezy introduction to general science, enlivened with anecdotes about the colorful lives of the scientists, famous or otherwise. There'll be 3 books a week available for download, then they'll be replaced with 3 other titles, all current bestsellers, from now until November.

      On a much lower note, I couldn't sleep yesterday and ended up watching "The Wild, Wild West," the unbelievably lousy movie. There wasn't one smile or thrill in this so-called action comedy, although it did manage the amazing feat of making the usually likable actors Will Smith and Kevin Kline totally unengaging and boring. Hey, let's make both main characters conceited assholes, that'll work! Let's have a plot that makes no sense! And a giant mechanical spider, oh boy! The only interesting thing about the movie was wondering how much it cost to make. The best estimate I could find was $180 million. As Ebert says in his one-star review (far more entertaining than the movie), "the elaborate special effects are like watching money burn on the screen." The unexplained last line in the movie is Kline asking Smith, "Can I ask you one question?" and Smith curtly saying "No." I guess the question was so obvious they didn't feel the need to ask it: "Will there ever be a sequel?"

      Offended by the movie, Killsy had left the room at this point; left the condo, in fact, for the common hallway. I was going to go to bed now (not knowing that I'd end up lying there unhappily awake until 330AM), so I went down the 3 flights of stairs to retrieve her. She was curled up contentedly on the bottom floor, enjoying the cool concrete during a humid summer night. I sat down on the last step to let her come up at her leisure. She got a wide-eyed look, then walked over to me and said a quiet "ra-rarr!" I think this meant "Let me show you what I've done with the place!" as she suddenly gave me the grand tour. She'd walk over to something, look at it, look at me, bat at it and meow, then move to the next feature. First, she showed me some very tiny insects by the door, smaller than ants, so small that they seemed black dots moving leglessly across the floor. Then she pointed out a big and dead june bug, then walked to the opposite wall and pointed out another big and dead june bug. "I decorated the place myself!" maybe she said. Then, possibly to show me her housekeeping skills, ate one of the very small bugs. Which must've had a very big, bad taste, given the scrunched look of her face and the way the entire length of her tongue came out her mouth with every chew, like a feline Gene Simmons.

      "Can I ask you one question?"

      "No. Unless it's 'WTF?!'"


      I was told to take Ranitidine, the Not-Purple Pill, as close to every 12 hours as I could. (After comparing it to the colors in my Crayola 64, its Not-Purple color is like a slightly more mauve "Tumbleweed." I suppose calling it "Ranixium, the Tumbleweed Pill" wouldn't make anyone more likely to want to swallow one) But I got the scrip late yesterday afternoon, causing the 12 hour mark for pill #2 to fall before dawn. So over 20 hours passed before I actually took the second, just before leaving for work. I wondered if that might leave a med-less gap where I'd get sick. And I kinda hoped that it would. Let's give this baby a trial run!
      Since it was to be another hot and humid day, I decided that I'd wear my cargo shorts. It wasn't until I was at work before I realized that I'd put my socks on before this decision, and so I spent the workday in an ensemble of battered khaki shorts, a light flannel shortsleeve, and black Converse high-tops with long, patterned grey dress socks that I'd pushed down as discreetly as possible above the Chuck Taylor logo. I'd taken an unplanned step closer to the ultimate Old Man Clothing: Plaid summer shorts with black dress shoes and kneesocks.
      And another realization kicked in: Nausea. Persistent coughing. A true need for that balm against stomach-churning, a cold YooHoo. I knew what would come next...dry heaves, vomiting, misery.
      Or...Nothing? Nothing?! This is the first time that's happened--not happened, whatever--in 3 months! Is the Tumbleweed Pill working?
      Please please please please please.

      I'm so far behind in things because of the health situation that I haven't gotten around to a story about Mr Poopy-Pants. A delivery driver told me that he and a salesman were at the DumpStore, while Mr Diahrrea Drawers was checking in an order. There was a snap sound, and a hairline crack in a 3 liter bottle of Livingston Cellars chardonnay opened up. This happens; it takes a while for the pressure between the inside and outside of the bottle to reach the point where the crack can't hold it in any longer. I've seen bottles go off like hand grenades. This time, it began pissing a stream of wine onto Poopie's ass. If it was happening to anybody else, of course they would've said something, but he's so universally disliked that they just stood there watching and trying not to laugh. Of course, since Mr Poopy-Pants is used to smelling like booze and having the seat of his pants wet, he didn't notice his drenched hindquarters until the bottle cracked further and wine began to run all over the shelves. Like the leaking bottle, one of his personal defects is the inability to not crack under the slightest pressure. He immediately flipped out and started swearing and grabbed the bottle, causing the bottom of the jug to break off and douse the front of his pants in cheap, smelly wine. He totally freaked out and ran out of the store, and Shelley had to finish checking in the order. The driver said, "He must've smoked 5 cigarettes in the next 2 minutes."
      I'm stuck in the DumpStore so much, but never when I'd want to be!

      Aldo sent an update to the old InExOb, How to live with children, featuring the strange art of Lucy Ozone. If you remember the drawing of the kid throwing a tantrum while his father talks into the wrong end of the phone, Aldo dissects the framed picture on the wall. As you probably don't have quite the same intimate recall of those ancient Obs as I do, just click here.


      Surreal Quote of the Day: "I think the burden is on those people who think he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are."--Ari Fleischer
      I think it's up to Ari tell the world where he has his head, if he doesn't think it's up his ass. And if you think that Elvis is dead, prove he's alive!

      Woke up this morning and thought, as no doubt billions of other people did, "I don't want to go to work today." Then I realized that want was not the question. My longest-standing Medical Mystery was back--July Disease. For the last 10 years, a week after the 4th of July I'm knocked flat by Something. I took a Tumbleweed Pill and immediately puked. But just a little; I held the pill down. But that was enough for me. I'd worked once or twice a week for 3 months while puking, and I wasn't going to do it again today. Especially not for July Disease. I flopped back into bed and slept until 3PM, except for being awakened by an answering machine message from my doctor: "I got your bloodwork back, and it's actually pretty good!" I didn't call for the details yet, but I have mixed feelings. Great, I don't have monkey pox, that's good. But does this mean I need to have needles rammed ino my spleen and liver and lymphottamus and all those other organs down there I never think about, to look some more? "Those murderous zombies, well, they weren't coming from your toilet! Want we should check that radioactive graveyard next door?"
      I felt miserable for a few hours, finished Kavalier & Clay in bed with the Small White half-snoozing, half-peeking at me from her favorite spot. I felt reasonably decent by the time I'd normally be getting off work, so TumblePill actually helped. That is a good sign.
      And so ends today's edition of The New England Journal of Bill the Splut's Medicine.

      I'm simultaneously reading The Onion and Big Picnic. Guess who I'm laughing at the most! It seems to be a quite new site, but if they can keep up the quality...This might make up for the sad loss of Jesus' General.


      Welcome to The Puke Report for July Tenth, 2003.
      Dragged myself from bed with "only" 9 hours sleep; expressed jealousy to Cat, who had jumped from the bed, ate her breakfast, then jumped back into bed to sleep: "You're lucky; I can't call out of work 'tired'!" Tired is the normal day-after side effect of July Disease.
      Went to work, noisily and violently puked. The TumblePill stayed down; I've become quite talented at controlling exactly what does expel from my nether depths. Too bad there's not Vaudeville anymore; I could join Le Petomaine the Fartiste as The Vomiteer. He swallows a fistfull of coins, and regurges them in exact change! 47 cents? BLARHH! And a quarter and 22 pennies fly out!
      One of the owners was on hand for my performance, and ordered me home. Oh no, I said, I'm fine. Just waiting for my meds to work. He left, and I spent the next hour wishing I'd taken him up on his offer. Then the other owner came in, and I was ordered again to go home. I hate taking sick time; no matter how sick I am, I feel like I'm playing hooky. But I left. Hopefully, this is July Disease, and not a ramping up of the Medical Mystery.
      And I did kinda play hooky. I did the stuff I'd meant to do on my lunch break yesterday, if I'd had one: Send out an airmail eBay payment to Canada for a video (The Wrong Box, yes, I know you've never heard of it), and get groceries. I have kitchen cabinets full of food, but there's nothing I can eat. My choices are narrowed by the fact that I have to be able to hold them down. Yogurt, cereal, Better'n'Eggs, fresh fruit, that kinda stuff. Plus, I had no milk left, and I wanted chocolate milk to still my stomach (don't care for the taste of regular milk; that's for coffee and tea and cereal). Made it to the register and discovered that the chocolate milk had been opened, so I didn't get that. Realized as I was signing the credit card receipt that I hadn't used my Better'n'Eggs coupon, which was the whole reason I'd bought that brand. Then they put my 12 items or less into 5 plastic bags. They were impossible to carry, so I grabbed a paper bag from an unmanned register and fit everything in easily. Why do they always give you more bags than you need, or even can hold? I know that plastic bags are cheaper than paper, but not five times cheaper.
      Kill Kill was still asleep in the same spot on the bed. She seemed confused to see me home. I was miserably sick but too awake to sleep, so I went online. At work, I'd called in a bunch of orders, mainly to 1-800 numbers. What was that 800 number that was a mnenomic that I could never remember because it was only 6 letters, not 7? Oh yeah, the help desk for my ADSL modem. Not sure why I thought about that, but after 90 minutes, I was calling it. The modem stopped modeming. For the second time in 9 months. I did all the little fiddly things you're supposed to do to get it back, but the phone that's plugged into the computer only got a dial tone when it was entirely run through the computer; through the modem, and it was dead. GREAT. Last time the modem tanked, I spent a week on AOL waiting for them to send me a new one. Was AOL going to let me suck their bandwidth again?
      After dialing 1-877-SBC-DSL5 (what's the "5" there for? Why not just go with SBC-ADSL, since that's what it is?), and a lot of time listening to bad soft rock on hold, the very helpful tech guy said (in an "I know you're going to yell at me" tone) that I might be charged if it was my fault my DSL was down. They'd had a lot of calls from my area with dead DSL. Huh? When you asked me if I was using a router, I honestly said "I'll say no, since I don't know what that is." Yet I took the whole neighborhood's DSL down with my l33t haxoring? But I did ask the question I should've asked last time--"Is there a dial-up service of yours I can use in the meantime?" He gave me a phone number, and while 31.2KPS is not 100MPS, but it's also not the 24.4KPS I had on AOL and definitely better than 0.0KPS. And it's the reason why you're reading this which isn't very interesting I now realize.
      I was interested in Aldo's first day working in a Mexican toy store, but I used to work in toy stores so maybe I'm biased. It's the Weds 7/9 entry, which you can either scroll down to or go to directly here, if you can read grey text on black.
      Okay, I'm sick, too much typing, good night.


      There ya go; I'm sick, and I post every day, but when I feel good, I don't post at all. Hopefully, there'll be no more sickness. Maybe that last bursting truly was July Disease, and the meds are working on the current Mystery Illness. I hope so.

      Two weeks ago, I asked the owner-who-does-the-schedule if I was still going to have Mondays off, as I had appointments to make. "Of course--why wouldn't you?" he asked in a "that's the stupidest question ever" voice. So I was pissed off when I got to work Saturday and discovered that I didn't have Monday off, when I'd made an appointment for Kill Kill's booster shots. I'd already postponed the visit once, when the vet called to ask me if I could cancel due to an emergency admission. (Hell NO! That dog hit by a car can wait his turn like everybody else!) Some of these places make you pay for an office visit if you don't cancel with 24 hours notice. I don't know if the Animal Wellness Center is one, but since they were closed by the time I found out about my work schedule, the only way I would find out is if they charged me. But I calmed down and remembered the magic words--I called the other owner and said, "Your brother screwed up my schedule." Since that's hardly news, he agreed to let me take an extended lunch for KK's visit. Hell, I was scheduled for a 12-hour shift anyway; it's not like it would kill them to give me an hour off instead of 30 minutes. And why was I working 12 hours on my usual day off? Poopy Pants wanted Saturday through Monday off, and that always means everyone else gets screwed on their hours. Well, the owner was nice enough to give me Saturday off, so if I get my normal schedule next week, there's a 3 day weekend. And only the last 4 hours of today was to be spent in the Dumpstore; the time before Killsy's vet visit would be at the Main Store. That's not so bad, although it's incredibly rare for me to work there. In fact, this would be only the second time in 2 years.
      I had a few supplies to grab to take to the Dumpstore while I was there; Tom Collins mix, Scotch tape, that sort of liquor store stuff. While looking for blank shelf tags I glanced into a Cask & Cream box, and was puzzled to see that it was lined with a towel with 2 stuffed animals in it. With a start I realized that that was a tiny teddy bear, but that wasn't a toy, but a sleeping kitten!
      It was obvious why he was here. He was teeny tiny, way too young to be left alone. It turned out that co-worker Amanda fosters kittens, and this little guy was found abandoned at barely 2 weeks old. He was now 3 & 1/2 weeks old and 6 inches long. He'd only recently started walking, and only in the last day or so started playing.
      Every time I was near the front registers, I'd peek in on the little guy. Once, he was doing his Lilliputian best to battle the teddy bear, wrestling it and biting with the little nubs of canine teeth that had just sprouted from his gums. He was every shade of grey, with tiger striping on his legs, and blue kitten eyes. I gently played with him with my fingers, his tiny claws scritching at me while his mouth attempted to fit in a finger to bite. "So," (he asked innocently) "where does he go after you've fostered him?"
      "The pound."
      Unless someone adopts him; there'd been a few offers from the store employees, but nothing firm. "I've been thinking about getting another cat for years," I said. Amanda asked, "Would he be going outside?" "Oh God No! I never let my cat out! I'd spend the whole time she was gone worrying about her!" She smiled. "You've moved to the top of my list."
      Amanda went on break and I covered the register. The little grey guy was awake, and I took him out of his box and played with him, letting all the customers coo over his cuteness. Except for one grim power-tied businessman, who gave him a look of distaste. I know not everybody's a cat person, but isn't everyone a 3-week-old-kitten person? They're TOO CUTE. His "meow" was a C sharp squeak. He was wobbling around as he walked, stumblebumming over his own feet. Man, this kitten's feet are huge! I thought, until I noticed that he was polydactal--5 toes on each of his front paws, six on the back ones. He made what may have been his very first attempt at a pounce. It was semi-succesful, although he didn't quite so much catch his prey as his prey caught him--his target was my hand, and he jumped right off the counter into the air (and, fortunately, into my hand when I saved him). Maybe Amanda was watching me from the office on the security cameras, as by the end of her break I'd gone from the top of her the list to the only one on it.
      Kill Kill is getting a baby brother. Byron, the little grey cat with the great big feet, is joining our family.
      Not right away, of course. He has to be 8 weeks old before he's out of foster care, although I may have him for a week at the beginning of August when Amanda goes on vacation. Which is just...splendid. His birthday is only a few days after Killsy's, he'll be here only a few days after her anniversary as my daughter on 7/31. And, of course, just like how Kill Kill became my cat, this is all Fate.
      If Poopy hadn't taken a long drunken weekend, if the owner had remembered to ask me if I needed Monday off, if he hadn't scheduled me at the Main Store...George Gordon Lord Byron Polydactal Young and I would never have met.
      Then I went to kidnap Killsy for her appointment. I held out the hands that had spent the last 30 minutes playing with Byron. She's hissed only twice in her life; once at the vet, and once at me, when she smelled Jessica's cat Marjoriam's scent on me. She became very, very interested, sniffing quite intently, but never getting upset. A good sign! Then, as she was suitably distracted, I snapped her up and jammed her into the carrier. "Jammed" is the only word. She writhes and claws at the sides, anything to not be put in. It's like putting toothpaste back into the tube, except the toothpaste has claws and intelligence and can make you feel guilty. She cried and fussbudgeted the entire 2 mile drive to the vet, then shrank into the farthest corner of the carrier when we arrived. The receptionist looked at her file, and beamed "Oh, she's a good kitty!" "No, she's a terrified kitty," I said, "but it works out to the same thing."
      She knew where she was when we went into the room where the needles jab, and she growled. Growled! twice! with her fangs showing! She's never growled in the 4 years we've been together. Her health is fine. She hasn't gained any weight, and most most most importantly, the vet couldn't detect that minor heart murmur from last year. "Her ears are so clean!" he said. "Does she have a sister?" meaning, another cat to groom her. "She'll have a brother soon!" I enthused, and told the whole story.
      She rocketed into the cat carrier when it was over, glad that it was. At home, she rocketed back out, ran up 3 flights of stairs one at a time, and I gave her some wet food and pets. I try to schedule her vet visits on my day off so that she knows everyhing is back to normal when we get home, but I had to leave for work.
      When I got home, she was looking out the front window, which she hasn't done all year, and was meowing behind the door before I opened it, which she also hasn't done all year. She was agitated, hungry for pets and play, and she's stayed that way all night. I guess it's because I couldn't stay after the vet. But it's good practice for early August, when the six-toes-too-many boy comes to town.
      No, I don't have a Plan B. But if they hate each other, it's clear who stays and who goes. Enough people have been exposed to Byron at work that I should find someone to take him in. But I have a good feeling about this. Just as I did 4 years ago, when the Small White burst into my life so unexpectedly and perfectly.
      Fate. This is Fate, a second time.

      Camilla asks if this is Kill Kill's secret life. One hopes not!


      The 2003 Bulwer-Lytton Awards!


      If you're going to get "progressive" (no-line) bifocals, just don't. I didn't get these new lenses out of vanity (then I would've got contacts), but because I thought that the lined ones would be as distracting as the scratched lens I was replacing. A woman at the eyeglass place told me that the progressive lens' bifocals ran down the side of the lenses, but if she'd said what the optometrist said (after I'd dumped $330 after the discount on them), which was "You have to look straight ahead all the time," I wouldn't have bought them. Yes, one does occasionally need to look out of the corners of one's eyes, such as those ever-so-rare occasions when one DRIVES A CAR and uses the REAR-VIEW MIRRORS. And why the fuck are they bifocaled on the sides anyway? In case I want to read a book I've stuck in my fucking EAR?

      I'm generally crabby anyway ("I have to hand my sword, my GOOD sword mind you, over to that drunk slob at Appomattox!" said General Lee, crabby). After waiting a week to get the return phone call about my second dead DSL modem, I found out that the first tech support guy hadn't bothered to tell anybody that I needed a call. I heard this from TS Guy #2, who seemed waaay too happy to turn the other guy in, and who also tried to Build Customer Good Will by repeatedly mocking the classical music quietly playing on my speakers. Jesus, am I so retailed that I can't point out to an asshole working on MY dime that he's an asshole? I did say that SBC's hold music was far worse, but since "This call may be recorded for quality control," I should've said something rude right back. Maybe said "Hold on," then blasted the Sex Pistols. "THAT BETTER? WHAT? CAN'T HEAR YA, PAL! SPEAK THE FUCK UP!" Especially when I was told that they couldn't just send me a new modem, as the problem was either my modem or my phone line--Since I'm TALKING on the phone line, golly whizzikers, you don't think that narrows the fucking perp down any? And the tech will be here tomorrow, between...8 and 5 sometime! That really frees up my day off!
      And I'll be really pissed if I'm stuck waiting all day for him. Byron will be at the Main Store, and I want to go play with him for an hour or so. He's seen so many people there, and I want him to get to know the one person that his life will be spent with. I was planning to take him home for a meet&greet with his big sister, but he hasn't had his shots yet. KK doesn't need to catch any diseases from him. So they probably won't meet for 2 weeks, when he comes home to stay.

      I am NOT getting up for 8AM tomorrow. That just guarantees that Unneeded Repair Dude Who Says "You Need a New Modem" will appear at 4:45PM. I'm getting up at the usual time, with a sign that says "KNOCK LOUD" taped over the doorbell (which guarantees he'll be sledgehammering the door here at 8:01AM, interrupting an awesome dream like I had last night. Which was clearly inspired by rereading this radio play script before bed last night. I dream of Keeler with the light brown hair).

      Speaking of kitties, Alex Gregoret sends Da Mow Mow, which has some very worthwhile if familiar (to me) cat pictures and such, plus some links to other cat sites. WARNING: It ickle cootsey, dis site vewwy is so, yessie yes! Take some Dramamine first. Or tomorrow, as there will be photos of our achingly cute Bigfooted Boy here. If I get to see him. YOU SUCK, SBC!
      Today's lessons: SBC, progressive bifocals bad; cute widdle kitties, RAWKIN'!

      Eh. Since I've updated tres petit over the last week, let's just have another summer rerun, from the same News that had the Keeler play by Paul Curtis. Oh, just don't read it, if you remember it from almost a year ago.


      I set my alarm for 10:15 to get up for the DSL repair guy. At 10, the phone rang in the other room and woke me up. Supposedly, he was here but there was no answer at the door. They would page him back and tell him. I looked out the window. He wasn't here. Why didn't his knocking at the door wake me? Obviously, because he didn't. Kill Kill was sleeping on a box right near the door. If he'd knocked loudly, she would've run away; if quietly, she would've run up to the door. 45 minutes later, they called to say that he wasn't answering his pages. 45 minutes after that, they said that he'd been paged 3 times, so they were calling his supervisor to page him. Why that would make a difference, I don't know. Clearly, he lied about coming here and had decided to take Saturday off. At 12:30 I called them and said, "I can't spend all day waiting, especially as I don't think he's goig to come. If you get my answering machine, I'm not here." And off I went to see Byron.
      He was the center of attention at work, of course. He's a really friendly kitty, with animals as well as people. We played for a while, he had lunch, we played some more, he purred himself to sleep in my arms. I walked around the store talking quietly to him, and of course getting lots of "Awww!"s from people. I went outside to the parking lot, and a customer leaving looked at him with shock. Then he broke into a huge smile. He rescues feral cats and spays them; he has a "colony" of about 50. He initially thought that I'd just found Byron in the lot, and he was badly hurt. He was very happy to hear about Byron's rescue, and the home he was getting. Pictures? But of course!
      After 2&1/2 hours, I had to leave. The Mystery Illness was getting to me. I reluctantly said goodbye. At home, I held my hands out for Killsy to sniff, as I had Monday. She sniffed and sniffed, and then she hissed and hid under the bed. Umm. I guess she'll need a bit of acclimatising to his prescence. Maybe she'll act different when she sees how small he is.
      The DSL dork had been there (supposedly) a half hour before. I rescheduled for Monday, when the window wasn't 8-5 but 1-5. Hell, if I'd known that, I never would've scheduled for today! Then I drank some rich, chocolatey Ovaltine to settle my stomach, and I immediately had rich, chocolatey vomit in the toilet. Just thought I'd share.


      If you've ever turned the lights on in a dark room with a cat in it, you know how quickly those giant eyeballs shrink to become tiny slits. I never realized just how quickly until I looked at Byron's pics. I figured out that his eyes looked bluer than they were because of the camera flash, then I noticed something else: my camera has a red-eye feature, meaning that a microsecond before the main flash goes off, a lesser flash trips and eliminates the red-eye reflection. If you look at his eyes, in every picture where one eye is even marginally closer to the camera, the pupil is smaller...

      Scrappy, the 35-year-old toilet, decided yesterday to overflow right after I started running the shower. So I didn't hear the waterfall until the downstairs neighbor began pounding on the wall. How embarrassing! Then I started the laundry and quickly bought some groceries. Tried to quickly buy; I was in the auto-checkout lane, and a woman in front of me had some problem involving a toothbrush and a coupon. She hit the "help" button, which makes the register pole light flash. Then I noticed that of the 4 auto-checks, 3 had lights flashing, and there was only 1 supermarketeer helping. This was an old lady and kept feeding the same coupon into the register. For 5 minutes, the same coupon. Coupon in, coupon spits out. And this was their tech support. The woman in front of me just kept standing there, holding her coupon and pressing "help" every time the Magic Voice told her to finish her sale. Me, I would have a point where I thought "I don't need this toothbrush or 35c coupon" and finished my sale, but not this woman. They have double coupons, so it's 70c off this $4 toothbrush! Only an IDIOT buys a $4 toothbrush, as they go on sale for half that every other week. I reached my personal time limit and got rung up at a non-express register, did my banking at the ATM, and the woman was still waiting at that blinking register pole for her 70c. And so was the guy ahead of me. He was in his teens and rubbing his face and looking to go all Dylan Kliebold over waiting. Glad I got out before the shooting started.
      Stop & Shop doesn't just have a bank, they have a Dunkin Donuts. Due to my lately cranky guts, I've been eating a lot of bland breakfast food. Better'N'Eggs, yogurt, corn flakes. So why not donuts? I can't remember the last time I had one. They turn up at work sometimes in the morning, but I can't tolerate food until after several hours awake. I ate 3 in 5 hours. And DIED. I know these things are pure fat, but my Gourd! They just sat there in my stomach like a family of Amsterdam squatters. What do they make them out of these days, unprocessed lard and Quikrete? I thrashed in bed, as best one can thrash with a stomach filled with a Boston Creme Donut with Tub Grout in it, gave up and took a papaya enzyme tablet. These aid the digestion! Or did, before the days when the stories involving my digestive system had different endings. As usual of late, this one didn't end with "And the Stomach and its Contents lived happily ever after!" Instead, they had a quickie divorce and went their seperate ways.

      Today was the second DSL tech appointment. He was to arrive between 1and 5PM, so he was there at 4:06. Another day off shot.
      I prepared for his visit by hiding my Saddam punch-puppet in the closet. Hey, in a country where the FBI can be called on you just because you're seen reading an Alt-Weekly paper in public, why take chances?
      I liked the guy; he wasn't talkative, he did his job. If he was disoriented by my surreal interior decoration, he made no comment and filed it away for his nightmares. Apparently, it was a failure of a "remote card" or something between the main computer and my house. He was "99% sure," but asked if I knew where the main phone lines were for the condo. Yeah, the circuit breaker room, one building down. After checking that, he was back. Turns out, like Scrappy the Toilet, Phreddy the Phone Jack was very old, dating back to the 70s. His pins had died of old age. He replaced the whole jack, lying on his side on my king-size water bed with his feet on 2 half-cannabilized computers by the kitchen table that's in my bedroom (the condo has storage issues, you see. So crowded, I wonder how I'm going to fit another cat in here). That fixed the DSL, but it scared the shit out of Kill Kill. She'd been hovering near him when he was at the computer, ready to offer any assistance in case the problem turned out to be with the computer's mouse (HAHA! GEDDIT?!), but when he walked into the bedroom...She flipped out and ran for her Sanctum Sanctorum, the underside of the waterbed. The bed weighs a quarter ton, so even I can't fetch her from there. Unfortunately, I'd been reading in bed when I was sick 2 weeks ago, using one of those sofa-pillows that lets you sit upright in bed, and it was in front of her usual entrance. The front half of her got in, but the rear legs flailed in the air behind her for 10 seconds. It was very funny! But I wan't going to laugh at her in front of company. So I waited until he was gone. Ha ha ha, silly cat!
      I still don't know if this is something I have to pay for or not. Is it their fault that their equipment failed, or mine, since I didn't replace it? I'm guessing that I'm not paying, as the tech didn't say that I'd have to, and blamed the equipment when he called his office. Find out when the bill gets here, I guess.
      So again we have broadband! Thank Gourd. I don't have to hit the "STOP" button once 50% of a page has loaded. Although that means I won't notice things like I did yesterday, when I stopped a stream from an ad company named "" Net ads generally make me feel like my eyes are being blasted with BS, so, good name for the company.

      DubyaSpeak! Check out the Dubya Quiz, in which you have to decide which quote comes from the 2 greatest minds of recent history, Dumbya or Dan Quayle. I got a 70, making me a C student like both of them. My favorite quote on the quiz: "The Civil War was the best war we've ever had because when you're fighting with yourself, you're always going to win." (Hint to taking the test: Quayle's stupid, Dubya's incoherent. It's a fine distinction, but it's there nonetheless)


      Questions That Can't Be Answered: An old lady defiantly holds up a bottle of Rene Junot white table wine and demands "Why is this $6.99 a bottle?!" Because...umm, it's French table wine? We make a piddling 25% gross margin on it. What, we should charge you 10 bucks, that would make you feel better? Then she asked, "Is it because this wine deteriorates really quickly?" Whuh? Well, yeah, pop the cork, yes, it'll go icky in a day just like any other wine. Does it evaporate while you pour it in the glass? Burst into flames as you drink it? Turn into mold when you think about touching a corkscrew? Splatter when I break the bottle over you fool haid? That last one we can find out purdy easy! CLUNK! Hmm, didn't break. Let's try again!

      I went over Kevin's to be attacked by his dogs who attacked each other and much as I like the pooches, I'll try my luck with 2 cats first. We saw the Japanese film Swallowtail Butterfly, and Scott and I became reverently silent. Can't speak for Scottie, but for my part, it was because Kev had held up watching his new DVD to see it with us, and he loves this movie. I wasn't checking my watch or yawning, but it did nothing for me. And he had a different movie we could've watched! A Studio Ghibli! A MIYAZAKI Ghibli! The Cat Returns! Which has a CAT!! Oh well, there's always next time.
      On the way over, at 75MPH I was passed by a box truck doing at least 85. As it closed on me in the rearview, I wondered: What was so important? It was carrying "LIVE LOUISIANA CRAWFISH--When Freshness MATTERS!" Apparently there was some major crawfish freshness emergency going on in eastern Connecticut. But I guess that it passed, as I passed the truck only a couple of miles later. When I got a closer look, I saw that--if one is in a crawfish-related emergency--one could dial "1-800-CRAWFISH" for help (the "H" is silent and also undialable--wait, hang on..."un-dial-able"...y'okay, that parses. Sorry, but "undialable" just doesn't look like a real word at 3AM). This has to be a true niche business. Living in Southern New England, I'd think that I'd see whole tractor trailor convoys with armed police escorts marked "LIVE MAINE LOBSTERS" racing to Lousiana all the time.
      When I caught up to the truck, I noticed that the side of it really read LIVE "LOUISIANA" CRAWFISH. Why the "quotes"? So...possibly the crawfish are from Texas or whatever state lies between it and the Florida panhandle, South MissArkAlabamia or DoubleWidesylvania or whatever? It's not like I check the passports of everything I eat. But the back of the truck phrased the same thing as "LIVE" LOUISIANA CRAWFISH. WUH?! I...don't see where the wiggle room is between LIVE and DEAD. Are they vampire zombie crawfish? Were they "recorded live in concert"? Did that truck suddenly drop its speed by 20MPH because the dashboard "Liv-0-Meter" suddenly dip into the red? "slow down, Jeb. And look for either a very shallow roadside grave, or some hungry raccoons."
      Did I mention that it's 3AM? Pretend you didn't read this until I proof it in 20 hours. G'nite, and don't let the crawfish bite!
      (PS: More Byron pics very soon)


      Jessica's little daughter said "Me and you and Ron need to see Bill real soon!" Why? asked Jess. "Because of the kitties!"
      She'd seen Byron's pics. Sorry. The new pics didn't happen. I wanted him to come to the New Store on Thursday, but Amanda didn't check her cell messages until it was too late. She asked me if I wanted her to take him to DumpStore today, and I said HELLZ no. The place is so dirty, there're places under the cabinets he could crawl into with GOURD knows what inside, and if he somehow escaped into the parking lot, he'd be dead. Oh yeah, there's also such recent events at the neighboring Shaw's supermarket as a violent carjacking directed against a 70-year-old lady, and a STABBING. My kids don't need to be in that neighborhood.
      Amanda told me recently "Byron sucks!" Literally. Despite doing his best to chew my fingers off last visit, he's having trouble transitioning to solid food. He'll grab one bit of kibble into his mouth and suck on it. Then he'll get frustrated and start yelling as he pushes his one bit of chow around the bowl. Silly kitty!
      Current planned Byron updates: There hopefully will be pics on Tuesday and Thursday from the New Store, and on Friday when he comes home to his sister. That might be delayed until Saturday; I specifically asked to work the New rather than the Dump so that I could take him there, and Byron and Kill Kill wouldn't be unsupervised on their first day together. I was planning on working 12-8 like normal, but got stuck with 9-8 instead. Since I get out of work at 8 the night before, that gives me very little time to acquaint the two new roomies, and when Killsy Kitten moved in, I didn't get to bed until almost 5AM. I've got an easy fix to the schedule, but it needs to be approved on Monday.
      But either way, starting August, there's going to be a LOT of pics of the kids. If yer Jonesin' because of the kitties, here's a few of 2 of Lilly's brood (and her with staples in her head--now there's a selling point!), and "Spewey" (the nephew Donald Duck doesn't talk about) sends some cute (but kinda sad, as they're of a beloved, recently missing cat) pics of a Turkish Van cat. The last one is the best.

      It's a Small Brained World After All: That carjacking by the DumpStore? Poopy Pants weighed in on that: "That's the same guy who stole my leather jacket from my apartment when I was at a wedding!" ME: "You know the guy?!" PP: "Oh, yeah! What a loser!" Birds of a feather, I guess.

      Kevin's birthday present was "Only in America 2", a CD of...Well, try some of the sound samples. They don't even excerpt the strangest ones, like "Mad Charles," the karate robot who fights for "what's right against evil," evil here being a chink and a dago and I'm sorry, but when the Chinese guy says "So solly, Chollie!" over and over...That's pretty rascist for the mid-70s.
      It took me a few listens to place what seemed familiar about the voice to me...hey, BUD-dy! HELLO, my name is BRAK! It's more obvious when you hear the entire track. Of course, that's a total coincidence! And the next song is titled "The Green Bug," and the next is about some guy driving his big ole pick-up truck down "South Bound 81"...more coincidences, I'm sure.
      The first "Only in America" is actually the better album. (My very old review of that here)


      This was the first Monday I've had in 6 weeks that I didn't work or have an appointment with a doctor or a vet or the DSL dude. The first Monday that I could DO SOMETHING. It wasn't much of a something of course, what with me being me. I got approval to not have to work 11 hours on the day after Byron moves in. Immediately afterwards, I got a phone call from co-worker Justin asking if I could work 11 hours on Monday. I said yes, then said No, not this weekend, that's the Kitty Orientation Weekend. I realized that if he asks the schedule-writing owner for Monday off, I might get stuck with it anyway, so I made a sidetrip to mark Monday on the store calendar "BILL OFF!" I was given a very cute photo of Byron, but my scanner doesn't work so you're out of luck.

      The calm before the storm. Wait'll the kit hits the fan...Every time I see her like this, all lounged out, I wonder what her reaction to Byron will be. Saturday morning, she was snoozing in the bed when I picked up a bamboo back scratcher. Immediately she was there, wanting me to scratch her face and forehead with it. When my arms got tired, I laid it down and, as usual, she batted and bit it for a while. Then she just sat there, eyes squinted in purr. She's a happy, happy cat. And I hope that she stays that way.
      Fortunately, most of her perches are high up like The Royalty box. Byron can climb, but he can't jump very high yet. If he starts bugging her too much, she can leap to Olympus and watch from on high.
      The something that I did today? The first walk in the woods without a time limit since I fell and scarred my glasses almost 2 months ago, and multiple Salvation Army visits. I'm actually looking for something specific for once: a paper towel holder/shelf unit for the bathroom like the one I have in the kitchen. No luck there, but I did find:

      BIG!Lots was involved, and I bought for $2 a Halloween-themed rug to be used as Byron's slobber sheet (his food, water and litter is going in the bedroom--the farther from his sister's dining and defecating areas, the better), a pet-hair-removing brush (since one shedderiffic cat isn't enough for me) and some junk food. I passed on a drink called "High-Caffeine TREMORS," with its corporate mascot of a stick figure guy having a seizure. Sometimes you don't wonder why things end up at B!L.


      Byron! The digicam gave me an argument, so they're not very exciting.
      He was sitting in one corner by the register when I got to work. He'd been there ever since Amanda dropped him off. "Hey, buddy!" I said. "Remember me?" I didn't expect him to, but he sniffed my hand and perked up, and quickly began exploring the world outside of that one corner. I gave him toys and catnip. He'd explore for awhile, then fall asleep wherever his batteries ran down. Then he'd awaken and start again. Everything was so exciting! All these places to poke! Unfortunately, it actually got kinda busy, both with customers and late deliveries. Try checking in an order while running a register while making sure that a teeny kitten doesn't do anything dangerous; it'll keep you on your toes. I eventually had to take him down from the counter so I could put up a couple of cases of liquor. He ran and ran down the very long aisles of the new Store (long to him, of course, and only him). I blocked off either exit from behind the counter and let him explore down there. He loved that, even if he did make a few escape attempts. Those were thwarted by the fact he can't jump over anything yet. After hours of play and sleep, I decided that he had to be hungry and thirsty by now. I took my water bottle from the beer cooler and he licked the condensation off the side of it. I poured a capfull for him, and it didn't take him long to figure out that the water was in the cap. Hmm, our first sign of Smartness. He was chewing his kibble (he no longer sucks his food) when his foster mom Amanda walked in. I figured that he'd run right over to her.
      He didn't. Like Kill Kill on our first meeting, he ignored the only person he'd lived all his life with, stepped onto my Converses and looked at me with a "So, what do we do now?" look. Then he climbed up me, which he hadn't done at all before now, and tried to fight and bite me in play. And I remember the words of Chris 4 years ago, spoken on my first meeting with a small white kitten: "They say cats choose their owners, Bill. I think you've been chosen."

      There's a good new documentary series on NPR called American Mavericks. Yes yes yes I know, classical music gives you cooties. Maybe you should put that bias aside and look around the site. The host is Suzanne Vega, f'christ's sake, how hoity-toity do you think it is? There's streaming audio of the music, 24 hours worth they say. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the sound files are fucking Real Audio, "Where our slogan is Download Today's Version! Whoops, It's Now Midnight, That One's Obsolete!" I really wanted to hear Anthiel's Ballet Mechanique, a 1920s anti-Luddite paean scored for siren, 28 player pianos, and 2 working airplane propellers. (The New York premiere went awry; the pianos wouldn't sync, the propellers were pointed the wrong way and blew everyone's hats off, and the siren took too long to start and kept blaring after the piece ended, causing one audience member to tie his hanky to his walking stick and wave it in surrender). There's also interactive stuff, like play Harry Partch's crazy home-made instruments in Flash. Of course, if you're one of those people that considers "challenging music" to mean "there's no lyrics to tell me what to think," maybe you should pass on it and try here instead.

      "The United States is no longer just a nation. It is now a religion. Its soldiers have entered Iraq to liberate its people not only from their dictator, their oil and their sovereignty, but also from their darkness. As George Bush told his troops on the day he announced victory: 'Wherever you go, you carry a message of hope - a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "To the captives, 'come out,' and to those in darkness, 'be free'.
      "So American soldiers are no longer merely terrestrial combatants; they have become missionaries. They are no longer simply killing enemies; they are casting out demons."


             "'The Great Depression of the 1930's saw falling prices, staggering unemployment and shattered stock markets all over the world, and the world's leading statesmen seemed helpless to defeat it. Except for one,' the [bank's] newsletter reads." Guess which one. Is it possible to self-invoke Godwin's Law?

      Summer rerun time again.


      7/31/99: Kill Kill comes to live with me.
      8/1/03: Byron comes to live with us.
      Can't wait can't wait can't wait...

      300 Proofs of God's Existence.

88: ARGUMENT FROM MULTIPLICITY (aka Metacrock's Argument)

(1) I have a large number of arguments for God.

(2) One of them is probably true.

(3) Therefore, God exists.