NEW 126

I admit to having better years than this one

"My grandfather always said that living is like licking honey off a thorn."
--Louis Adamic

Jump to the Newest of the New
on 5/30

      

10/13/19

"OW-OW-OWOOOO!"
      
      
      "Heh heh heh! Yes, kids, it's me, Count Floyd! Oh, today we have a tale for you that will chill you! It'll chill your chilblains, it's so chilling! The only way to calm down after hearing it will be to Netflix and Chilblains! The story's called--what? That's what 'Netflix and Chill' means?! Whoa, no wonder my great aunt stopped returning my calls. But our tale for today, whoo, is called 'IT STARTED WITH A LEAKY SINK"! Whoa, doesn't that make your goosebumps afraid of the dark, I bet! It has more twists and turns than...a pretzel! Okay, Count Floyd's a little out of practice, I'll work on that metaphor."
      (off screen voice) "Floyd, we're not doing that today."
      "WHAT? You know you still have to pay me for this gig! Leaky Sink, jeez, how could that even be interesting? So we're doing...'Sixteen is a Lot of Sousaphones'?! The hell? I'm out of here! And you still have to pay me! I'm leaving the very second my included Continental Breakfast arrives!"

      "I need to ask you for a really big favor!" said my sister Patty (the cool sister). "OF COURSE!" I said, thinking of all she's done for me in the 6 weeks since the Leaky Sink Incident. (EDITOR: Needs context; maybe just shorten it to something catchy, like..."Sinkcident," yeah) She said "Can you let our dog Maisie out to poop Saturday?" I'm like all "...Sure!" because I would've done anything for her since the Sinkcident. I would've agreed to "There's kind of this dead mobster in our basement? Can you dig a shallow roadside grave for us?" "SURE, SIS! Should I pee on it too?"
      This conversation took place at Panera. It was my first time in Panera! Unfortunately, it was apparently also the first time in Panera for the kid who took my order. I ordered a flatbread, and this was "CHICKEN PAN" according to the receipt. The top slice of bread was over 2 inches thick, the bottom slice--well, bottom slab, was about 6 inches. Some vague paste was on the inside. I basically had to unhinge my lower jaw like I was a cottonmouth snake to take a bite. Patty said "This is wrong" and went to order a replacement. The supervisor said to the kid "I don't even know how you did this!" He did it because you left the new guy alone and wandered off while he was struggling.
      Maisie is a big yellow mutt with a heart as golden as her fur. Luckily, Patty had cut my hair 3 days earlier, so Maisie recognized me. This was my 2nd haircut in 25 years. I look so k. d. lang-y now. I noticed some signs saying "BAND THING" on the way. Later, I heard some band things going on. Since I live a short walk from the high school, I went to see what the Band Thing was. My first sight was 25+ school busses and the UConn marching band rehearsing. I felt a little weird, as I was this old loner watching some 20 year old cheerleader doing some amazing baton work, and literally no one else in the world was witnessing it besides her. I walked to the main field, and It turned out to be "The 27th Annual Festival of Bands," although "Band Things" would've been funnier. I passed a group of teens dressed like The Last Jedi and HOLY FUCK don't tell me I missed that routine! I found a big and abandoned program, and found out that I was there for the next to last show, Rockville High's "Alice's Adventures." Thumbs up to whatever teen did the logo. It was a teacup, but if you looked closely, the Cheshire Cat was peeking out. It was based on "Moby Dick" haha, no it wasn't. I didn't find the program until after it was over, and they could've been doing a Youtube on how the Moon landings were faked (because the MOON is a fake! It's a hollow ball made by time-travelling Freemasons, and oh god how I wish that wasn't something people really believe). I think I was the only person there who wasn't either a band parent or a member of a band not performing. The main thing I noticed was a girl flipping some flag baton and dropping it. I thought "You'll forget this in a few years--high school is hell." After that ended, I heard some other band person say as Rockville marched off the field "Did you see she was crying? The twirler? She was crying." and I felt awful for her. Maybe today she's ruefully laughing about it. Maybe in 20 years she'll be crying at 3AM about it. Fucking high school, the gift that keeps on giving. Giving you misery for decades.
      Then UConn took the field. I guess that they're the Goal for marching bands. There were a lot of them. Fucking wars have been won with battles that involved as many people. They had 16 Sousaphones (which is a lot of Sousaphones), the same amount of trombones, and 6 marimbas. How...do you fit ONE marimba in a car? There was less equipment shipped on fucking D-Day! They did "Lady Gaga, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Random of Tantrum!" according to the announcer, although I may have got the last one wrong. I guess I finally heard "Old Town Road"? Marching band music sounds the same to me. (At Oberlin College, the "band" was a bunch of ironic art students. At my suggestion, my roomie played the toy machine gun. Their first number: "And now, the National Anthem! Of Indonesia." [terrible cacophonous version of the Indonesian anthem, and yes I saw the sheet music and they were playing that] "And now--'Teenage Lobotomy' by the Ramones!" [exactly the same terrible cacophonous version of the Indonesian anthem]) The UConn Cheerleader Woman flipped 3 batons at once! Which, you know, super cool but a terrible survival skill.
      I'll say this: it sure looks like high school bands have each others' backs. They cheered the other bands as heartily as they did their own. When they handed out the awards, their color guards (?? Is that what they're called? If only one of my 15 readers knew!) either stood at attention, or did wonderful little choreographed dances. The Star Wars group--3 Reys, a Finn, and a Kylo--stood still except for a Rey raising her lightsaber in defiance. Manchester High, you fucking rock!
      The program I absconded with is professionally done, except when it totally isn't. They left in the squiggly underlines you see in autocorrect! But it does list the shows I didn't see. So, here they are! You SO care!
      The Blackstone-Millville Regional High School Chargers Marching Band did "TAKE A BITE," pictured as a withered black tree with a giant apple. "When Temptation is too much, you have to TAKE A BITE" I have no idea what that means. I also thought "Blackstone? The only town called that is...Oh. It's right outside Uxbridge, where Jess lives. A fucking HOUR from here. That's a long way to drag your marimbas!"
      The Mark T. Sheehan High School Marching Titans of Wallingford (also an hour away) presented "The Pursuit of Happiness." A clipart of the Statue of Liberty, text "Over the years, people have left their homelands In Search of a New life. Many passed through Ellis Island chasing the dream of life, liberty, and freedom. In their pursuit of happiness, they found A new Beginning." I may be projecting here, but I sense a middle finger to Our Favorite President...
      Enfield High School Marching Eagles, which I guess are like regular eagles but too lazy to fly because of all the cow farts (ELLINGTON CONNECTICUT JOKE! I don't care if you didn't get it! Oh wait, it's Enfield, not Ellington. VICIOUS ENFIELD DRUG WAR JOKE!! "In Enfield, everyone's barefoot because their sneakers are all on phone lines, HAW!" I don't care if you didn't get that either) have "BABA: A Musical Journey" and they did Baba O'Riley (by the Who), The Hut of Baba Yaga (by Mussorgsky), Thula Baba, a traditional African hymn, and Baba Yetu, by you got me. The picture is of Baba Yaga's chicken-legged hut, and something that looks like if Hiroshima was A-bombed by a giant squid. I admit to being a bit put off by the "Baba" theme, as the Band Thing was only 2 days off from the anniversary of Baba Yar, one of the most horrific atrocities in history. While the SS killed 33,000 Jews, even the Nazis realized how inhumane it was--to not give the SS a break from slaughter. Have a coffee and a cigarette, guys! YOU'VE EARNED IT
      The Berlin High School Redcoat Marching Band, whose logo is a guy with a dark maroon coat and a saxophone and running on one leg wtf Berlin? Is this a visual representation of how no one outside of CT knows how to pronounce your town's name? (It's not ber-LIN, it's BERL-in) Their program is Finding Home, including such hits as Coming Home, A House is Not a Home, Home, and Baby Shark doot doot.
      The Ellington High School Farting Cows (HA! I got you anyway, Ellington!) is West Side Story. "Just play it cool, boy...Real cool." Yeah, keep it cool, Ellington. Don't step in no cow pies, boy boy crazy boy.
      Song from Ellington's West Side Story: "DI-A-RHHEA! I just stepped in some Cow diarhhea!" Hahaha, fuck you.
      Manchester High School Fuck Yeah Marching Band: "THE FORCE AWAKENS." And I didn't get to see it! Rey's Theme, March of the Resistance, the Jedi Steps. And I missed it! If it was done by Ellington, the Jedi would've stepped in cow flop!
      The Robert E. Fitch Senior High School Falcon Marching Band that Uses All the Words in the Dictionary in their Name: "Spark of Invention." It has a quote from Edison, "I'm going to light up the world!" which sounds like something Thanos would yell as he exploded your planet. Includes Bach and a song from Willy Wonka. No, really.
      New Britain Golden Hurricanes HAHAHA You named your band after something every teenage boy would scream at you after learning what "Golden Showers" means? Program: "Clara's Dream." With a drawing of Clara, whose expression indicates someone just explained what "golden hurricane" might mean.
      East Haven High School Co-op Marchi--what? Co-op? What does that mean? Do you have to take turns milking the cows NO THAT'S ELLINGTON HAHA! Logo looks like someone ate the bat-signal and then puked it. "IN ASHES ENDING" wow, maybe not let the Emo kid design this. Program: Inferno. Dies Irae. Skyfall. Vesuvius. Don't let the Emo kid do this, Co-op.
      Rockville High School Marching Ram Band. Alice's Adventures in High School Twirler Depression.
      And now--UCONN! The only part of Connecticut you've ever heard of! A full page of "EXHIBITION DIRECTOR DAVID MILLS" in a spotlight, and the most murdery-looking Husky ever. Opposite page "MUSIC" in a dripping blood font. Somebody at UConn sure liebs Leni Riefenstahl!!
      And now it's boring. Several pages of the local group, all of them photographed looking directly into the sun. Clint Eastwood: "Man, these kids are squinty. I think I'll go yell at an empty chair now." (What, too soon?) Several pages of "paid by my parents" pics that are gonna be sooo cringey when Mom & Pop show them to your college crush. Direct quote: "Keep rocking that piccolo!"
      Ads! Yes, Ron A Roll, which began circa 1977 as a roller disco rink, but it still exists. "INJURED? Then it's time to call Kerry! Slip and Fall, Dog Bites." Prescient: An ad for band members by a hearing care center, because in 30 years, you're going to wish you weren't so close to those damn marimbas. "GO BAND!" in comic sans and autocorrect underlines for candidate Claire Janowski! Out-of-cntext pictures of girls holding pics of a rabbit, a faceless grin, a caterpillar--oh I got it. Alice's Adventures! A bunch of truly out-of-context "fill in the rest of the book" pics, like these 2 boys in different Green Day shirts, and one looks like he's trying to do "ERR MAH GERD" An ad for driver's education! Followed by an ad for the Ladd-Turkington & Carmon Funeral Home! ("CREMATION") The SECOND ad for "Drive in Package Store"! because liquor and teens go together like driving school and cremation! Bolton Vet, where a certain deaf boy with extra toes came from!

      

"OW-OW-OWOOOO!"
      
      
      "Well, that's over with! Now it's time for--THE TALE OF THE LEAKY SINK!"
      "Floyd, we've run out of time."
      "GOD DA--okay. Sure. YOU--are going to a place much warmer! MUCH warmer, My Friend!"
      "Floyd, don't foreshadow."

10/21

"What the hell's that banging?!" I thought. It was coming from the bathroom. "The guy downstairs is snaking out his toilet. Damn those Laotians!" He wasn't Laotian, but the previous occupants were. Apparently the bottom, top, and middle of their food pyramid was grease. That they dropped into the kitchen sink. When that clogged, they'd dump it down any drain they had. Maybe you remember how my bathtub looked one day.

      

      That's food grease.
      (To clarify, I'm not being racist. When Jess bought her dream home, she was cleaning grease of off the chandelier. She said "The previous owners were from...where's that country, not Vietnam, but near it?" Me: "Laos." "YES! How did you know?!")
      Then an hour later, water poured from under my bathroom sink. Then another hour later, the guy downstairs said "I'm getting water through my roof." I said "Yeah, well, you snaked out your sink, so it must be coming from you!" He said "What? No, I didn't."
      "Then it must be...(points at opposite wall)...I guess it's from them? I haven't even used that sink!" A few days later, I got a phone call from the Condo Association about it. They only said "You should get this fixed. It's not a big deal now, but over time, it could be."
      It all started with a leaky sink.
      In 10 days, it went from the Condo Ass basically shrugging their shoulders to a call screaming "FIX THIS NOW!!" The guy downstairs--for brevity, let's call him "Phil," for that is his name--wasn't particularly worried about it. So I dragged my feet for a day in calling the plumber.
      This was too long. The Asses sent their own plumber, one certainly to be impartial about the company that was paying him. Their angry plumber Wario came and left quickly. The next day, the Sinkcident was now at DefCon 1. "3 plumbers refused to go in your house!" the Condo Ass yelled. (In a day?) Because it was "too dirty." I admit to being a slob. But...it's not like the suddenly Marie Condo Ass didn't already know that. Why is it now the end of the world? The property manager and his stooge were coming the next day. Yeah, that night I slept well. I was awake at 2AM. I went to get the mail in my pajamas and long black Matrix coat. I watched some Netflix DVD, then later returned it in the mailbox, but couldn't find my house keys, so I grabbed the spare from the glove compartment. Should've just left the door unlocked for those few minutes...
      When they came, I was showered and dressed in civilian clothes. "You have to clean your house NOW, or we'll have to take it to the next level!"
      "What does that mean?"
      "We'll have to take it to the next level!"
      "But what does that MEAN?!"
      (silent smirking)
      "How long do I have?"
      (mentally reaches over to pull something from his ass) "ONE WEEK!" they smirked, clearly triumphant.
      I started to have a panic attack. They didn't say I'd be evicted, but holy shit was that heavily implied. My catastrophic thinking kicked in. My greatest fear, being homeless! My god, I'm going to be living out of my car with my cats! To cope, I decided to have a beer. And another. Normally--or as normal as anything is when you're in a panic attack, and convinced you're the only one who clearly sees what's about to happen, so there's no "normally" here--I'd call Jessica. But I had barely heard from her in a year, and at the last panic attack, she said "I can't be here for you 24/7. You can call the suicide hotline if I'm not." Yes! Stop being a pathetic loser, be a fucking adult for once, Bill! Call a professional!
      Ever here of "The Jonbar Hinge"? It's an old sci-fi trope. In the first use, it involved a child who could find something one day. If it's a magnet, he becomes a scientist, which leads to Earth becoming Jonbar, a Utopia. If he finds a rock, he never cares about science, and Earth becomes an eternal fascist nightmare.
      I called the hotline, and not Jessica. I had hinged, and hinged bad. And kept the fuck on hinging.
      I talked to the hotline for about 30 minutes. She asked "Do you have a plan?" I said "Of course I do. Every suicidal person has a plan. I have a gun." I told her at the end that I was calm now--all I needed was to talk myself out of the panic attack, just like every time I've called Jess while having one. She said "I'll call back in an hour." I said "No, this has really burned me out physically, I'm going to turn the phone off and go to bed." And that's what I did.
      Call, hinge. Gun, hinge. Turn phone off, hingiest.
      I awoke with someone at my door. In my PJs, half asleep, still recovering from a panic attack, and very drunk, I opened the doo
      WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!! A COP IS BODY-SLAMMING ME TO THE FLOOR AND HANDCUFFING ME! THE FUCK THE FUCK!
      Dragged downstairs, with most of my neighbors home. In my state, I flashed on what cops would do to a black man and screamed "KILL ME! JUST FUCKING KILL ME NOW!!"
      This did not help.
      Then I was strapped to a gurney by a cop yelling "FIND THE GUN!" to his 12 or more Gestapo agents. I got a good look at his face, as I guess it's true that your brain records well when it thinks it's GOING TO FUCKING DIE. In...5 seconds? 5 minutes? A year? the cops came back saying "We couldn't find the gun!" And then the 5 cop SUVs (five! I saw from my gurney a sixth one get waved off) began to leave, with me bound in an EMT van, with EMTs who didn't give a shit. They were probably thinking "Thursdays, right?"
      What happened next? I guess we'll find out in part two of "The Jonbar Sink," but here's a spoiler...

      

      "It was all because of a Leaky Sink" had now become "It was all because of The Wrong Phone Call."

10/28

      I entered through the gift shop.
      Yes, gurneys go to the hospital through the front entrance, by the gift shop. Why, I don't know. Maybe to build ambience, like the robot parrots in the Tiki Room at Disney World.
      Before this, the police had taken the zip strap handcuffs off of me when they couldn't find the gun, but I was still strapped in at the emergency room. They undid that so that I could fill out paperwork. I'm surprised they didn't make me do it holding a pencil in my teeth. Then there was nothing to do but scream "I NEED TO POOOOP!"
      Not me, of course. That person was in a room; I was left next to the reception desk, staring at the ceiling. With a "watcher," a person whose only job was to make sure the crazy people like me didn't run away. This person's screaming went on for...a time frame, I had no watch, as I was kidnapped in my damn PJs. It had variants. Sometimes she needed to "PEEEE!" Every time they took her in to the bathroom, it required 2 people, and she didn't need to go, and then it'd just repeat. Eventually a very worn looking woman finally came in, and the staff said "Oh, hi, [name]. She's in this room." She was the patient's mother, and the first-name-basis made it clear her daughter's visits were a common occurence. I just kept staring at the ceiling, particularly at one patch of peeling paint. After X hours, someone brought me a sandwich, because what gives you the munchies more than a police assault and being trapped in the ER? (I passed, because I was sure I was going to die soon, and that is not a joke)
      My watcher took her break, and a guy came to cover her. He too stared at the ceiling, and I said "Hey, nice ceiling, right?" and that the paint was my favorite. He said "Me, I like that piece of tape over there. It's been there for years." Then he asked me "Did you know Mark [name]?" Startled, I said "Yes, he was my best friend in middle school!" "I'm his brother." My friend had died 25 years ago. His brother didn't say how, and I didn't ask.
      As the sun set, eventually some nurse said "I think he's heard enough of [screaming pooper]; let's move him somewhere else." They moved me outside a "room," which was indeed a room, in the exact sense that a garage with a sheet of plastic over its front is. I was now by a woman who, by my guess, would be going under extreme drug withdrawal. Less a "LOOK AT ME!" scream than an agonized, heartbreaking, painful one. I said to my watcher "Why am I here? People like her need this more." Eventually, I got wheeled again, this time to a room of my own. And I laid there for...a period of time. Besides the plastic sheet, the main difference between the corridor and a room was that it was fucking freezing. In August.
      I saw some dismissive doctor or nurse, and of course asked when I could get out the hospital I was waiting to be transferred to. I received no answer. I begged to use email for just 5 minutes. I was the only one that knew I was here. What about my cats? 5 minutes, I could do a group email to my family and friend ("friend" not being a typo; I only have one) to let them know. Nope. I was a ward of the state now.
      Somehow--I guess because what the hell else was there to do--I fell asleep, glasses in hand, as they were the only possession besides my clothes that I currently owned. I woke up in the dark and cold, said "Oh. Hello." to my new watcher, a Black woman. She told a male nurse that I was awake, and I got my blood pressure taken for the 3rd time. I told him what happened, and added if "If I looked like you, the cops would've killed me." (Guess what his skin color was) My watcher gave a head-shaking, rueful chuckle at this. When he left, she said "I heard what you said about 'looking like him'." And we spent the next hours talking about the police, their militarization into a force that seems to think it's an army of occupation that hates all of the people they're here to "serve and protect," and the state of race relations in modern America. We had a similar opinion about the President, but had to mildly disagree about religion and LGBTQ rights. She thought that "The gays are setting a bad example for our kids." I thought that this was just how they were born, so why would God make them that way? When it was established that I was an atheist, she accepted that. I said "Sometimes I'm jealous of religious people. When someone you love dies, you know you'll see them again. I know I won't." I didn't point out that I was referring to what triggered Mr Young's Wild Ride, which was a sweet and smart cat dying. I would refer to that incident, now and I'm sure forever, as "The pebble that started the avalanche."
      Her shift ended, and another WOC took over. They talked for a bit, and the departing watcher (I asked her name right at the start, but I've forgotten what it was) pointed at me and said "He's one of the good ones." I assume meaning "He doesn't have withdrawal symptoms while screaming about pooping." Or maybe...she just liked me as a person? The new watcher asked me my story, I told it, and we had some of the same conversations I had with the previous woman. Mr The My Favorite President (self-described), do not count on the vote from the Black community. It was around the time Orange Foolius said "Go back to your own country" and said "But I'm not a racist!" I said to her "He's the raciest racist that ever...raced a race!" yeah, it was a good argument from me. She laughed and agreed. Eventually, it was time to be strapped down again to go to the "real" hospital." My watcher, like the woman before her, wished me luck and assured me "This isn't going to last forever. It'll be okay."
      A bumpy ride to the hospital as an EMT flipped through 11 pages on a clipboard. Yes, I counted. I asked "Is that about me?" EMT: "grunt" EMTs don't like you. You mean as much to them as a pork chop does to a butcher.
       And then I passed the hospital gift shop. It was just like the Monty Python's Meaning of Life scene, pushing through endless swinging doors. I got up, was wanded for...the knife I had jammed up my ass? I don't know, had to turn my clothes over into hospital "johnnies," and had my ER hospital socks taken away and tossed. "I'll be back with new socks," said the nurse or tech, but he never came back. Hospitals are fucking cold, so fucking cold, so I fished my old ones from the trash before frostbite set in.
      Now, I was in the lock-down mental ward. Whoops, "Behavioral Health Unit," as if that made it any different. I was in Hospital Jail.
      A thing I learned quickly: the staff doesn't like it when you call it "Hospital Jail."

      Thing I got emailed a couple of months after this roller coaster of fun & frivolity, selected reasons why not "To Go to the Immediate Care Facility":
      Unable to get an appointment with your PCP
      Sore throat or cough
      Mild rash
      Toothache

      And the "Reasons to Go to the Emergency Room":
      Broken bones and dislocated joints
      Severe pain
      Bleeding from a large open wound
      Serious burns
      USA Health Care, people! Do not waste your corporate master's time with Bleeding form a small-ish open wound, and c'mon, that burn's just comical. It's a Sick Burn!
      Is this story done yet? Of course it isn't fucking done yet! If I went through this bizarre shit, A) so are YOU going to, and B) you think I'm throwing away perfect blog-fodder like it made me throw away weeks of my life?
      So goodbye until Next Time! An adventure that can only be titled "This Adventure Needs a Catchy Title!' EXCELSIOR and it was so, so fucking cold in that place.

11/3

      Well, I got my steps in.
      There was so little to do in the nut house--umm, Behavioral Health Unit. Just pace from one end of the L-shaped corridor to the other and then back. While mentally singing the lyrics to the song above, Mental Ward. It wasn't until I got out that I discovered that the lyric I'd thought went "The stinkin' shrink has me so damn bored" was really "The stink of my cell has me totally floored." I should've just sang it as "My leakin' sink put me on this floor."
      I don't know if this is going to be the longest chapter here, or the shortest. It was the longest in time spent, but it was all a blur, every day the same. "I had breakfast, so now there's nothing to do until lunch." It won't get written unless I write, so here goes.
      And then they let me out, The End!
      I should probably give it more effort than that.
      The first night, I continued to beg to use email, or a phone, to let anyone know I was there and my cats were alone. My worst-case-scenario thinking had me leaping to the conclusion that I would end up evicted and homeless, living in my car with my cats. There was a patient's phone, but all my phone numbers were on the phone I didn't have. Who remembers phone numbers anymore? Since I was new, the staff really didn't seem interested in helping. I gave up and shut my brain down to avoid my problems through sleep. My roommate said "Hello" and went back to his heavily medicated sleep.
      In the morning, I was awakened for a test of blood pressure and temperature. This would be a thrice-daily ritual. My nurse filled out a survey on why I was there, and of course I asked again to use email. She said she couldn't...then thought for a second, and said "Let me try my computer, it has internet." She brought it in, but it wouldn't connect to outside approved sites. She tried another one. Same result, but at least it was slightly calming to know I wasn't going to deal with any Nurse Ratcheds there.
      It was the weekend, but I did get to see my therapist. We talked for 30 minutes about my situation. She seemed sympathetic. But she said I wasn't going anywhere, and if I kept asking, it would just make my stay longer. By the next day, I gave up even asking. Especially when I realized that every patient thought that they were the only one who didn't need to be there.
      My roommate was awakened by a nurse. He was clearly out of it. I can see waking up in a strange bed and groggily asking "Where are my shoes?" But the first thing she asked him was "Do you know why you don't have shoes?". He didn't know. I thought "Because they have laces." I decided this was none of my business, so I left when I heard that had attacked his roommate at the VA hospital. With his shoes? He...attacked his roommate?. He was then moved to another room. He needed a walker, and that was where the physically impaired people went, right by the office. And the more attacky ones.
       I...think this was Sunday? No, Saturday. I tried again to get some phone numbers. I knew my sister Patty and my Mom were in Delaware for the weekend, but t least they might check their voice mail. They found my mother's phone number--I wasn't allowed to call even 411 on my own--but Patty simply didn't exist. Neither did Jessica, but I didn't really need to call her. 411, it's great. It kept autocorrecting everything into something I didn't say, so it found ducking nothing. the next day, I finally found my sister Sue's number, which went to voice mail. She called soon, and said she and Patty's husband John would be in during visiting hours. I asked for my phone, wallet, and any damn clothes that were warm. Ducking freezing in there, in tiny slipper socks, a tshirt, and pants made of toilet paper. I had some dorm pants and slippers, but those were taken away because the pants had a drawstring and the slippers laces. This was so I didn't hang myself, although how one could possibly do that with 10 inches of lace is beyind me. This was also the place where the kitchen had a sign that said "REMEMBER: Tea Bags have Staples!!" You don't want anyone self-harming, but a tea bag staple? I didn't tell them that I'd recently read a Cracked article about a captured soldier who committed suicide with his socks. Just jammed 'em down his throat. They'd already tried to not give me socks. I wasn't going to try to off myself with toe frostbite.
      Sue and John came. The house key I kept in the car glove compartment was not there. "How'd you get in?" Sue said "John didn't say, and I didn't ask." He just laughed. "I've learned a few skills over the years!" I gave them my sordid story, and they were clearly shocked. I've kept my depression and SI (suicidal ideation) secret from my family. I explained the Fucking Sink with a bucket under it that needed to be emptied. John said he'd do that, and make sure the cats got fed and watered.
      Of course the Hospital Police confiscated everything, including a sweatsuit Sue had bought me. The pants had a drawstring, and the top...a hoodie? Why was that banned? (It wouldn't have mattered anyway. It didn't fit)
      Another visit with the therapist. 5 minutes this time. She did not seem sympathetic, nor would she again.
      With no roomie, I could sleep easier! Just as soon as a gigantic thunderstorm passed. The hospital was built so that it had to be directly over it to hear it at all. 5 minutes after it ended, I was passing into sleep when the SCREAMING MATCH began. 2 patients really hated each other. It went on for an hour. They were screaming about how noisy the other one was. They went to their rooms after an exasperated nurse told them to. They then proceeded to make as much noise as possible to prove how not-noisy they were. Doors slamming, rolling tables being bashed against the wall, even off-key singing. Eventually they stopped. Unfortunately, the Writerly part of my brain was now at full function. If I could've written it down, I could've gotten it out of my system. But we weren't trusted with the tiny golf pencils they had. So instead, no sleep that night.
      The next day, John came in for a very short visit. "The cats didn't touch the food or the water. I had a feeling, so I called the police. Animal control has them."
      John is a trained psychologist, but I don't think he needed that training to read my face. "I wasn't going to lie to you." I said No, I wouldn't want you to. I laid down thinking "Animal control are the people who put down the rabid raccoons." I was going to be homeless, living in my car withOUT my cats! Then it struck--now I had a reason to call Jessica! I got them to get my phone and let me write down her number, and a few others. I called, leaving the briefest of messages. It took a half hour to realize that she was going to see the hospital number on caller ID, and just assume it was spam. I begged them to use my own phone. There was an exchange of looks. They said yes. Behaving myself for 3 days finally paid off.
      She didn't pick up. I just sat there numb. After a few hours, I went back to pacing. I never purposely eavesdropped, but I'd hear patients loudly talking by the office all the time. A woman said "I went to Hell. The first thing you see is the ovens they use to cook people." I walked down the hall and looped back. "I turned on the school's sprinkler system. They said I was crazy! I said, No I'm not crazy! I'm trying to put out the fires in Satan's ovens!" Suddenly a tech ran out of the always-busy office and slapped my shoulder. She handed me their phone.
      It was Jess, just in from a late night (for her; it was 930). I gave her the tl;dr version of my current version of a life, but of course the main subject was My Boys. Luckily, it was the Sunday before Labor Day. It was an hour trip one way for her to animal control, and her narcolepsy prevents her from driving more than half an hour. But Monday, her husband or daughter could drive her. Ron might have Labor Day off, but Jacqueline would. (She's a schoolteacher now. The first time you likely heard of her here was a party we went to when she was four. Yes, you are indeed a LTRotD) She said that she was a registered rescue worker--she's her county's go-to for feral cats--and that was fine with them. DJ came into the carrier instantly. Byron required wrapping in a towel and some elbow grease from Ron (who got scratched).
      Well, that crisis was averted! And thus came a new one. The cops wanted the gun. They wanted to get it themselves; I wanted John to get it. My therapist wanted to know why I didn't want the police breaking into my condo. I asked "Would you want the cops to ransack your house?" What a fucking stupid question. Thanks, already had the Gestapo smash my home in while I laid helpless. (I would later find out that they literally did just randomly trash the place. Did they think there would be a gun under a desk lamp? Inside a thermometer? Maybe ripping out a drawer in my bed made some sense, but why the fuck did they use a fireaxe or steel-toed boot to kick in a side that didn't open? Note: the only thing that was under the bed was DJ, terrfied) Would the doctor like it if I SWATted her? (Note: these are emotions I feel now, not at the time. Don't get the parole board get mad at you)
      John found the gun. After 20 minutes, because I'd buried that deep. I should've just thrown it in the dumpster decades ago. He said the police told him that I'd have to make a statement, and was warned that I could face being on parole. Wouldn't that...require a trial? My town's police have a bit of a power obsession. It would take John 3 attempts to actually give them this illegal weapon--and it was a fucking bespoke sawed-off shotgun, a flat-out murder weapon. Enough to go to trial, but not enough that the cop failed to show to receive it twice, and when he did, made John wait 30 minutes. In a moment, the results of that trial: There weren't no trial. Just a power trip.
      With no roomie, I slept poorly. Because they'd been weaning him off his anti-murder meds. He became increasingly angry, over important things like telling his new roommate "JESUS CHRIST CAN'T YOU AT LEAST SHUT THE DOOR WHEN YOU PISS?!" (The door was actually more of a plastic flap) And "Bessie!' Half the unit was there because they needed to get no therapy. They were medicated zombies. Did they really think they were going to cure a woman of being 95 years old? "Bessie!" was another clearly senile woman that they simply locked into a chair in front of the office. She would randomly and endlessly shout certain words. "Bessie!" was the most common of these, and the name of her sister. Bessie came in once a week, and that was the only time D. would calm down. Her husband was there every day, cradling her. She'd ignore him and yell "Bessie!" as he did. It was heartbreaking. Someimes when he came in, it was to have her sign bank accounts and such over to him, as he was now the administer of her estate. The chanting became just aural wallpaper to most of us. My old roomie started screaming "SHUT UP!" at her, because I'm sure no one had ever tried that brilliant psychological trick before. He came out of the lunchroom angrily yelling "OTHER people get more than ONE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE!"
      I slept poorly because apparently the meds wore off completely. I was in the room farthest from anything with my door shut, but he spent a long time screaming about something. In one 20 minute long, not-a-breath-taken rage. The only words I could make out were "I'LL GET YOU ALL FIRED! ALL OF YOU, YOU HEAR ME?! FIIIIIRED!' and then abrupt silence. I assumed he was put into the isolation room, with his old meds mainlined into his brain. Good thing he didn't have his shoes! He was back to being a zombie for the rest of my time in stir. He was later transferred back to the VA hospital. I'm sure his roomie there was thrilled.
      And that would be the last time I had a bad roommate experience! hahaha you know it wouldn't be.
      And this is getting long, so I think I'll stop for now.

      More foreshadowing: Jaw-Dropping Christian Ephemera From The 20th Century

11/6

      We're at the midpoint of the madness, time-wise. I'm just going to finish up the chronology and move to some random anecdotes. Because by this time, I'd given up any hope of influencing the outcome. I assumed that I would be in there until my insurance coverage ran out, and then I'd suddenly be declared either cured or incurable and released.
      When I was admitted, I was accompanied by two armed security guards. Best to be careful; I could make a break for it and try to kill everyone with a staple from a tea bag. Several nurses and techs assisted them. ("Look out! He may have a golf pencil!") One guy in jeans and 2 shirt-johnnies was at the nurses station, quite unhappy about the fact none of them were able at that moment to go change the channel on the break room TV. "I hope he's not my roommate," I thought, before meeting my actual zombified one.
      Tuesday late they brought in a new guy. He was disheveled, ranting quite happily about God and Jesus while waving his arms around. Okay, in this instance I was deliberately eavesdropping. It took 3 people 20 minutes to take his blood pressure, as he wouldn't stop waving those arms. He was like an 80s sitcom version of a mentally ill person. Not just the spasming and the Jesus Christing and random bits of his history, but he literally talked like the Rain Man on speed. Right down to same voice. Lots of preaching like the cliched street corner messiah about God and "the rabbi" who I think was a real person and "Call HR at Corning, they'll tell you what a great worker I am! I never missed a day!" I'm guessing HR and the rabbi decided he needed to be there. I tried not to imagine what it must've been like to be a coworker of his.
      It was now 8PM, which is feeding time at the med station. They were all lined up by 755. There was a definite placebo effect in play. When patients didn't get heir meds *exactly* on time, they started to get very antsy. I get it--some of these people were on a lot of meds, with Klonopin being distributed like it was aspirin. I had 8PM meds too (folic acid, a B vitamin, a sleeping pill that didn't work, and an antidepressant that didn't work), but the nurses were clearly involved with Reverend Jim here. This did not stop some people complaining.
      Snippets I would pick up from God Boy over the next days: "My sister's DNA and mine got mixed up in the egg, so that's why she came out evil. My Mom, my Dad, my Sister, they're all evil and controlled by demons." Actually, just leave it at that. I've willfully forgotten most of it, as it was non-stop. He was another person I was glad wasn't my roommate. He would talk anybody's ear off. The most awful person on the unit--can you go to the loony bin just for being an asshole?--even stopped talking to him after the first day. He cornered her in her wheelchair and spent like 3 hours babbling about Jesus. I only caught bits of his theology, but it was...interesting. He ended up in the closely watched part of the floor, with a roomie who I hoped could turn off his hearing aid.
      Well, I seem to be writing in linear time anyway. The short version of my relationship with the staff: They liked me because I didn't bother them and was always polite. If I needed something, like towels or new pants, I'd wait until someone else had already dragged them away from what they were doing. My therapist...not so much. She pretty much dismissed me, with sessions under 10 minutes. She decided "alcoholic" was all I was, yeah suicidal whatEVer and even said "We'll send you to a 12-step program, and in 6 months, you'll relapse and be right back in the emergency room!" Way to motivate, Doc! You're like that poster with the kitten hanging on a branch, and the caption "FALL OFF AND DIE, LOSER!" She would later say "I think you have an unhealthy relationship with your cats" which led to me saying "You want me to get rid of my cats?!" "No. I just think it's unhealthy." and no explanation as to what I should do, or even what she wanted me to do. My SW (social worker) was about 12 years old or something, and clearly not fully trained. In one notable instance, she'd been in contact with my sister Patty and John, and even other brother-in-law Mike. She came to me and said "I talked to them. The housing department visited your condo, and they condemned it, and you won't be able to live there when you get out." She said this like she was saying "We're out of Coke, is Pepsi OK?" I sat there stunned and said "What exactly did Mike say?" She checked her notepad--all health care people have yellow legal notepads--and said "It said 'Cease and Desist'." I should point out that she kept pronouncing Cease as Seize. What, are they sending Viking plunderers?
      I then went to the phone. Mike, who is a lawyer, although not in real estate, his office phone kept hanging up after long pauses. So, If there's something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? JESS BUSTERS! She'd been on a condo board for years. She immediately named the exact law, statute, paragraph of how this was bullshit. "They're based in Enfield? That's not even the same county!" She finally said as I was forced off of the phone by staff (I wish I was making this up, but it was coloring book time) and said "Cease and desist what?! Fixing the plumbing?! I'm calling Mike to get to the bottom of this!" (Writing this Pulp Fiction style is going to lead to a lot of brief flashbacks. John had met the plumbers at my condo, again mysteriously teleporting in without a key, and they said they could replace my sink. For $3,000. John said "I can replace it for $40!") It turned out that it was the health department, and they'd left a polite note saying "Sorry we missed you, please call me at this number." Pat called, and the guy was very nice and pretty unconcerned about my "condemned" building.
      And that was...Friday. My therapist and my SW and some other random SW said "You could be out next week." I nodded. "Sure I will." And they added something that they'd both said multiple times: "Nothing lasts forever!" What a great thing to say to a suicidal person! "This won't last forever! One day you'll be cold in your grave!"
      And then, boom, I was out Monday. Reason? None given. Why'd I have to be in there over the weekend? None given. Which would've been the exact same number of my current fucks.
      "But," you say, "then what was the point of all that foreshadowing crap?" To which I reply
      Of course fucking God Boy became my roommate.
      They shifted people from room to room in some order of their whimsical choosing. Someone was coming in, and we need a room near the front. So, let's take the most mentally ill person on the floor, and let him tuck the least mentally ill guy into bed at night! Despite the room across the hall from them being empty!
      Me, walking into the room: "Hello." God Boy: "Hi I was lving with demons they were evil demons they wanted to kill me because they worked for Satan everyone in the house was demons but I'll be out of here soon because I paid back the money--" Me: "...." (walks out, thinking): "Demons have a money-back guarantee, that's handy."
      My entire conversations with him totaled to about 10 words, because that was what it always defaulted to. God and Demons and Have I Told You About It? Our next "conversation" he tried to drag me in, and I just said "Talk to the staff." Some time later, I'm sitting half awake in the break room waiting for breakfast. He was told to get off the phone, like I was that one time, and then told again and again. Just my luck, he sat at my table. The nurse left, and he said to her, plus about a hundred words, "You're a good one, you're going to Heaven to sit by His side!" Then he turned to me and said "YOU are going to a place where it's much warmer! Much, MUCH warmer my friend!" I hadn't even made fucking eye contact. I got aother table. Nothing like first thing in the morning being told you're gonna burn in Hell! I really wanted to say "And you're going to have a fraction of a second when you realize that there is no afterlife before worms eat you," but I realized that probably wan't going to make things better. Not if saying fucking nothing made things worse.
      It was his room now. He only left it to harass nurses and techs and doctors. I saw a nurse duck into the office to get away from him, and he kept trying to talk through the window. He went away, and after 5 minutes she left to do her rounds. He immediately pounced on her, and she ran, literally, back to the office. There was another nurse named Isabella. He called her "Jezebel," which isn't very nice.
      He would wake up around 3AM, and pray. Out loud. And loud. If your God's hard of hearing, he must kind of suck. And maybe he's also uncaring, since he made you this way. When I found out I was leaving, for some reason he was convinced he was as well. His name didn't appear on the "Free at last, thank God almighty!" whiteboard in the office. His enthusiasm curbed over the day. And now--who cares? Not my problem now, talk to the staff.
      And now, just random incidents.

      I saw only 3 people leave. Some others were there, then they weren't. Two went right to other hospitals. One said she was only stuck there because she'd otherwise be homeless. I talked to her enough to believe her. She had a history of depression and drug use. She ruefully said "I got caught smoking weed through my old crack pipe, so here I am. And I'm in the local newspaper! My parents will be so proud." But a friend who didn't even know she was in there (cf. my story) offered her a room, and bang, she was out!

      About half the ward was in chemical straitjackets, or had dementia. Not sure how being there was ever going to help them. The rest of us were what you'd expect--depression that led to some Incident that threw us in there. One patient's sister came in and was yelling at the nurses: "Is he getting physical therapy for his walking? Is he getting any therapy at ALL, or are you just medicating him to sleep?!" I didn't say anything, but the answers were No, No, and Oh Yes. They gave him something that perked him up instantly, and lowered his meds after that, and he went back to a different ward. I heard him say that he got so depressed in an unlocked hospital ward over his failing health, he said "I wish I was dead" and pow, there he was in a stupor. I assume that they can bill you more in the BHU ward.

      Remember "Bessie!"? One time her husband was there--he was there almost daily--with I guess her son, and--Holy Shit! I know this guy! From...somewhere. We locked eyes and he clearly knew me. He turned away sharply, and spent a long time talking to the staff. Later, one of the staff was trying to talk to his mother while she was semi-lucid. "Was that your son?"
      "...Yes."
      "Is he a police officer?"
      "...Yes."
      "Which town?"
      "...Vernon."
      Holy shit, he was the stormtrooper who threw me to the fucking ground and cuffed me.
      I kept pacing by, looking at him with each pass, and he was clearly aware of this, but never looked back. The point of this is: Can I foreshadow, or what?

      You know what? About 15 years ago, there was someone I knew who worked in this same unit! And was there until they expanded it, and they moved the open door mental health therapy groups to another building up the road! Foreshadowing? Of course not! Also, this person's name was Jessica, I should tell you about her sometime.

      Jess knew I was liked by the staff from her first phone call to me. "They let me call you after visiting hours!" When news of my Cat Crisis got out, every cat-friendly nurse or tech would ask about them. Most of all a tall platinum blond. She had just adopted 2 tuxedo kitten sisters. "I gave them grandmother names!" I think 1 was called Mabel, the other something equally Victorian. On the rare occasions she had free time, we'd talk cat. Every so often, Jess would call me with updates on The Boys, and she and the nurse would chat. "She's sooo nice!" Jess would say. So would every one of my family who met her.

      The first time I had a visit from family, I had to add them to a list of approved people. The list had room for 20 names. We nutjobs were allowed a maximum of 4. Hospital visiting hours are 10-8. Bughouse hours are 5 to 7--and incorrectly listed on the website as 6-8. Too bad American hospitals don't have the money to change 2 digits of code! I had visitors every day except one (once they found out that I was there). Usually, updates from RL and the status of my eviction and Seize & Dessert. Mainly cleaning--Patty and John decided my condo was getting Marie Kondo'ed, and they wanted to make sure nothing I wanted got tossed. They asked after John had started, so the first thing that went was a bunch of clementine mini-crates. I laughed when told this--"You didn't notice that they were upside down and glued together like stairs? They were cat stairs." Byron's found alternate ways to get to his beloved high spots since.
      Meeting places there was the break room, where we Bedlamites ate, and the Quiet Room, where people did puzzles. One guy did, and he didn't like it if you went in there for some dumb reason like "My roomie is a frothing religious madman." You'd think the quiet room would be the preferred place for visits, but it was, y'know, quiet in there, and if more than 2 groups were in there, you could hear each other. The break room was better, because the TV was always on and so loud you couldn't hear people at the next table. I was lucky; some people never got visitors. Such as my roomie, not even from his mysterious "rabbi". One was a woman in her early 20s who'd play Uno with her mom every weekend for the whole 2 hours. One regular was the sister of the aforementioned guy who was getting no therapy, who would always have someone with her, and they played cards. This man improved greatly with this company. Other people just kind of sat there, as their relative did the same. That was sad.

      Thing I expected, but didn't get: a library. I thought they had little rolling libraries in hospitals. All of my family was surprised that they didn't as well. What the 2 rooms had were donated books and magazines. Wait, sorry, "magazine." A fucking House Beautiful from 2017. The books were all coffee table books--"Crazy people like them the pictures!"--and an old library copy of Tom Jones, the best selling novel of fucking 1749 (not a typo). The ones I read were a history of American prints (pub. 1973) translated from Italian, a 50th anniversary of D-Day (1994, so read just in time for the 75th anniversary) translated from French and donated by the Cat Nurse, and the Guinness Book of World Records 2012, translated from Amazon Wish List. Mom saw it and said "I bet you're the one reading this!" I have just discovered while cleaning my 1986 copy of it, so let's just open it at random--"Smoke Ring Blowing: 355." "Formed by the lips from a single pull of a cigarette with cheek tapping disallowed," and holy shit there are rules for blowing smoke rings. THAT, my friend who is not going to a place much warmer, is MY Guinness Book! This one had to have "NEW RECORD!" multiple times per page, so it had "fattest stormy petrel with a limp" stuff. That's said only because I can't remember actual "records" scattered throughout the animal pages about some bird I'd never even heard of. We all could have our own records! "The Most Tacos Eaten In One Sitting By [your name here] Without Farting!" This one had a lot of already outdated records, even after only 7 years. It also had the record for "The Most Product-Placemented Guinness Book Ever!" More than one 2 page spread listed every now-obsolete bit of tech, right down to the model number. A lot were for made-up publicity stunts just to get in the book. I'm pretty sure 2012's "Most People Dressed as Superheroes" has been beaten every year since. I told Mom and John that there was one sponsored by TomTom. There was a brief pause, and then they remembered that there once was a TomTom. John: "I was cleaning out the basement, and threw a TomTom in the recyling!"
      It had a bookmark of a ripped piece of paper. I left it open, and the cleaning staff threw the scrap away. I wanted to leave it in the same spot as when I first started reading it. So I ripped some paper and placed it where it was, goofy food "records"--then said, No, this is going to mark "CATS."

      One of the people who never seemed to get visitors was that guy who wanted the TV channel changed while I was being checked in. Why he was in there, I never found out, unless--just being unbearably self-centered. Since when does that get you into the Behavioral Health Stalag? I mean, that was the only thing I could see wrong with him. Another time I saw him yelling at the nurses because "Someone stole my ginger ale!" "Where did you leave it?" "RIGHT--THERE!" and he pointed at the top of personal belongings locker. Because if I'm in a department store and see a near-empty Big Gulp on a display, obviously I steal it for the resale value! I had no interest in finding out what his deal was, because, as I said, "I hope he's not my roomie." He never shut up, knew everything and was always right, was frequently angry at everyone, wanted everything right now--Hey, dude, run for President as a Republican! When I explained Byron's name to the Cat Nurse, she said "I have a friend I have to tell, he loves poetry! And also [patient K.], because I'm sure he'll decide he's an expert on English literature!" At which point K. came wheeling around the corner, and she repressed an "OMG shit!' laugh, expecting the worst. K. said "Is there ANYONE who can get me some ICEWATER?!"
      As stated, he was the Master of the Remote, even if that involved dragging staff from something that actually mattered. I think I'm making him sound more obnoxious than he was. But no, the whole unit doesn't want to watch an "inspiring Christmas movie" on Labor Day. They don't want you to get in a screaming match with "Doc Bach" when you want to switch "Sooner" off near the climax to watch some reality show. Eh, I don't care. He was also the guy who thought the Quiet Room was his personal fief. I overheard him talking on the phone to his old boss / landlord asking to come back, and ID'ed himself as "Haywire." Which is kind of a cool nickname, but it depends of why you have it. But his sister came up from one of the Carolinas for an entire week, and he finally got a visitor. Sisters, they can be good with mentally ill brothers. (So I've heard)

      "Doc Bach" sounds like a third-tier Spider-Man villain whose power is...Sonatas? He can eat a lot of Brandenburgers? He's the ILL-Tempered Clavier! His catchphrase is "Toccato and FUGUE YOU!" Oh, you come up with stupid Bach puns of your own. She was easily the most obnoxious person there, until the Son of (a bitch of) God turned up. She was the instigator in pretty much any screaming match between patients. She was in a wheelchair, which was the only difference between her and Baron Harkonnen. She was a screaming big baby. I mean, she'd pee her bed and just scream for someone to come take care of it and before you say it, even the nurses knew she didn't need the wheelchair. And she was "LOOK AT ME!" all the time. the only person who didn't hate her was God Boy, because he could rant knowing that the only way she could escape was to show she didn't need the chair. She latched onto any new patient who didn't know how awful she was, and basically make them her personal slave. She once dropped a Bible, which somehow landed behind her chair. Me, innocent and naive back then, picked it up. "I know you're here for your own reasons," she said to me, "but I know why. God put you here to help ME." ME: "Talk to the staff." and walked away, like Liam Neeson with a big explosion behind him.
      I was there to get my own ass out of there. The staff gets paid to deal with you; I don't.
      In one of her more over the top staged scenes, she screamed "I'VE BEEN IN THIS PLACE FOR 3 MONTHS AND SHOULDN'T BE HERE! I'VE BEEN HERE 3 MONTHS AND I NEED A BRASSIERE!!" Everyone I've told that to has questioned whether that was the start of the worst rap song ever, or the best.

      Oh, the places you'll go, the things you will see! Not much when you're locked in Arkham. There was one big window with a couple of very big, very un-comfy chairs that I would hang out in. It got direct sun for about 90 minutes. The bedrooms had windows, but they looked out on the other drab brick buildings. One night, I was so bored I tried to figure out what was playing on the break room TV from across the courtyard. (Spoiler: the screensaver on the monitor of the office next door) Mainly I saw teenagers getting on busses in the afternoon, or playing basketball earlier. They had some day program for teens, I guess. There was a "CARRYING SCHOOL CHILDREN" van that only had 1 rider. Another had 2. A pretty girl who would race to it as soon as school ended, and almost 10 minutes later an overweight boy would slowly walk on. Was there some backstory to this? I hope he didn't tip an imaginary fedora at her and say "M'lady."
      The breakroom TV was usually set to the local CBS station. Boy, does daytime TV have a lot of ads aimed at old people and their various maladies! Don't watch daytime broadcast TV while playing a drinking game that revolves around taking a shot every time you hear "Ask your Doctor if..."! One day, There was a big storm coming. It was the only story for literally hours. I guess daytime TV is watched by very old people who don't have even have internet. Three of us (the "here for depression" ones) watched it intently from the back window. We saw one lightning bolt each in an hour. We left the storm One Star on Yelp.
      One of us (the "caught with crack pipe" lady) had been freed, so her ex-roomie / BFF and I were just kinda hanging by the window. I bolted from my cement chair. "Did you see that?!" "See what?" she said. "That car! It had a camera or something on its roof, and a logo on the side! It's NOT a Google street view car!" She said "A...Google what?" and I explained. It was like the time I tried to explain to Jess what a "POG" was. The more you explain, the more you realize that they don't understand, and the more you realize that maybe you don't know enough to explain it. It came back, and I jumped up again! Still couldn't read the logo, and why were they doing something as basic as a hospital? How is that not in their database? Why do I accept the fact that we're being spied on by corporations constantly?
      Thing I noticed as a kid: Squirrels never walk. They scamper, they scuttle, they run like they're possessed by Tom Cruise. So they have difficulty with McCafe cups. This guy was obsessed with a discarded one. Hazelnut blend inside maybe? He kept trying to drag it and jump with it, up stairs, over a wall, and it was the most entertaining 5 minutes I had there.

      Our doors had our (abbreviated) names on them. I was Bill Y. For some reason beyond the ken of mortal men, our names were in Comic Sans and had some weird MS-Paint doodles on them. Mine were just squiggles. My roomie's looked like TIE Fighters. Praise the Sith Lord!

      More Tales From the Heavy Chair: Some suit came in, marveling at the recent remodel of the Cracker Factory. "I like these hardwood floors!" He took issue at any tiny bit of splattered floor wax on a door. I decided "Time for a pace!" and followed him. He continued to praise the heating ducts, and point out little bits of wax. I wanted to point out that he'd missed the days-old toenail clippings "Bessie!"'s visitor had left. And...shit, what was the other thing I wanted to point out to him? Oh, right. "I hope you lose your insurance and get really sick so that the only way you can pay for it is to scrub fucking floor wax off of gutters."

      I heard Cat Nurse say at the end of her shift "Let's go record now." I guess that at the end of a shift, the staff tapes whatever happened during it for the next shift. Makes sense; quicker than writing, but still leaves an evidence trail. The Heavy Chairs were near the room where these were reviewed . I only could hear mumbles through the noise-cancelling doors. But there was an altercation with--sigh--some sad soul's Messianic roommate. He was yelling something to the eternally put-upon head nurse about getting his blood checked. Not sure who started it, but it seemed to be him, demanding the test now. He kept bugging her about the results, despite being told it would take at least 2 hours. Then it was done, and he was angry again. The next thing I knew--after a nurse and a tech came to help her--that he was being put on an IV drip. Since MYOB was my motto, I just hoped that maybe this would mean he'd explode in hellfire and I'd get my room back. Whatever they gave him whyever, he was finally quiet. Until every time he tried to get out of bed, and set off alarms. The tape reviewing ended, and 3 women I'd never seen before came out, tip-toed to my room, and whispered about him. Spoiler: he was so dehydrated that he needed saline solution. "But he drinks all the time!' I said to a nurse, expecting no answer. She whispered "Yes, but he only drinks coffee." I said "Oh, right, that's a diuretic." Said the guy who was drinking cranberry juice as much as they allowed.

      My room--okay, it wasn't my room anymore--was next to "The Quiet Zone." This was the meds station. I guess the sign was to keep the unruly peasant mobs from storming the Pill Bastille. It actually wasn't quiet at all. The pill dispenser required a battery of keypunches and scanning of barcodes before it dispensed any meds. And to reset it, it required a large metal drawer being slammed hard closed. That's a lot of fun, feeling your bedroom wall move at 6AM! Right after you fell asleep after some madman's 3AM pleadings to G*D for a Starbucks or whatever.

      This would be a good place to say that I don't think the slam-drawer was designed like that. I think that everything in the hospital was made by Janky-Ass Shit LLC. Since American hospitals charge you the cost of a used Geo for a single aspirin, and their CEOs can only afford to have demolition derbies with their tiny 50 foot yachts, everything is made as cheap as dead leaves in the Fall. The shower required 2 hands to turn on or off, and, no shit, one nurse admitted that sometimes to turn it on, they needed a fucking wrench. You have to ask for toothpaste, which comes in tiny paper cups and is good for maybe 2 brushings before it turns to mint-flavored caulk. (I checked after release: yes, it is possible to commit suicide via toothpaste! If you ingest FIFTY TUBES WORTH OF IT. Christ, just suck your socks down)

      Sitting in the fleeting morning sun, I saw a bunch of security guards roaming outside. Acting like "What a lovely day! I certainly have my hand on my Glock only so that I tan evenly." There were 3 guys outside this one window. I connected it to some alert broadcast to the whole hospital, in their Enigma code. They had an escapee! One lumbering, neckless mesomorph came up and looked out the window, hand on one part of his hip. "Hi." I said. "Hello." grunted he, and left. I heard a nurse say "They have a walker." Meaning, someone who just said "Fuck this noise" and walked out of a low security unit.
      So, like man, I'm chillaxin' in my favorite 100-pound chairs by the window like a day later, right, and some other security guard comes up, right? Whoa, whoa, I'm totally telling this wrong, lemme start again.
      To Mom and Susan: "We had an escapee yesterday!' (gasps) "I was reading by the window, and then the alarm goes off! I had to plug my ears! It was some dumbass security guard who pushed on the emergency exit door. 'I thought it was a short cut!' he said. What an idiot."

      The chairs literally did weigh about 100 pounds. You could push them across the beautiful hardwood floors, but you couldn't pick them up. Because then you could throw them! in the wrong hands, they could be as dangerous as a teabag!! This turned out to be the "logic" behind a lot of things. Why did the Kleenex boxes only hold 90 tissues? Because you could throw the bigger ones and ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
      THOR lunges in with Stormbreaker, impaling Thanos. THANOS: "ARRGH! Heh... You should have gone for the head!"
      The scrawny villain with male pattern baldness from Ant-Man II lobs a Kleenex box.
      THANOS: "OWWW! SHIT DUDE WHAT THE FUCK?!" (collapses to ground) "My...only weakness...a 90 count of 2-ply tissue paper..." CAPTAIN AMERICA, lifting his shield: "How about--THIS?" (throws a dry kitchen sponge)

      Said to sister Sue & my Mom: "If you're planning a Labor Day dinner, don't schedule it here!"
      The food was actually pretty good there. You could choose from a very large menu. You had to decide at breakfast what you wanted for dinner tomorrow night, which is a thing we all do in some universe. Parts of the menu were unexplained. "Circle One" meant you could, say, circle "chocolate chip cookie," and then put a "6" next to it, which is how SOME people get 6 chocolate chip cookies. It took me a while to get that was how I wasn't restricted to a single cranberry juice per meal. Have one, you could dehydrate on coffee, or be victimized by the used ginger ale market.
      This was one of the only times that I actually ate 3 meals a day. Not that I can't afford to, just that food at 8AM, gross. But that's because I say "gross" at the very concept of 8AM. Let's see: I think I generally had bacon, turkey sausage, a banana, and some cereal at breakfast. Pro tip: ordering cereal doesn't mean you'll get milk; order that with your juice. Lunch: generally a chic sal sand, which was really good, a side or 2. Dinner, usually some chicken, try the banana pudding parfait it's the chef's specialty. Make sure you have your disposable plastic utensils, because there's no way to open your damn juice without one. And have napkins, that juice is loaded to the top, so you'll wear as much as you drink.
      I guess that they were short-handed on Labor Day. The hospital was short-handed every day, because in America hospital, they don't charge no big moneys to staff properly like they do in the Canada!! So poor are we, we must hire Dickensian orphans as CEOs! So tiny are their yachts! I forgot what I'd ordered yesterday morning, but there was a cranberry juice. And 8 other things. Eight other wrong things. I got a grilled cheese sandwich, which was amazing. How can you make something so greasy, yet so unbelievably dry? It was like they dipped an old magazine in lard, then cooked it with a blowtorch. (I should've checked to see if that House Beautiful 2017 was still there) It wasn't all bad--I got to try the banana parfait. But the rest went to waste, besides the stuff Doc Bach grabbed off my tray without asking, while stuffing food in her mouth at the same time."Help yourself!" I said "I didn't order any of it!" while thinking "Did you escape from a Hieronymus Bosch painting?" I mentioned the food to the person who served it, in a "Hey, no big deal, just so you know" way, and she was hostile. I left it at that, because I don't want to be eating a rat tomorrow.
      The next day literally everything was wrong, again with double what I hadn't ordered which would all go in the garbage, except the juice. And...who would order this? A disgusting, wet slice of "pizza" paired with--stuffing? As I said to my sister Sue the next day "It's the saddest Thanksgiving ever!" She said "That's a lot of carbs!" I said "And it came with a side of mac and cheese!" I mentioned it to that day's server, and he got angry. "Who took the order?!" "I...don't know. I'm just saying, this is happening to everyone for the last 4 meals, and this is food just going to waste.." He nodded, clearly angry at someone. Every meal after that was perfect. He even made sure that it was right with everyone. Still, don't order the grilled cheese.

      I was intently watching hurricane Dorian bear down on the Bahamas. I said "My nephew and his wife live in the Bahamas." A tech said "Suuure they do" in a voice that implied "At least it won't hurt your cousins on Mars!" She made sure to repeat "Bill has a nephew in the Ba-ha-mas!" to anyone in earshot. I vowed to never speak again. And I didn't. (Jeff & Caroline live on the south island. They volunteered to help the refugees on the north island after the storm passed) (And as for my volunteering--I never volunteered any information unasked for over the rest of my stay. I'm just a lunatic, who believes what those people say)

      "I'm going to a book sale tomorrow!' said Awesome Cat Nurse. "If I find a cat book, I'll get it for you!" I laughed and said "I'm sure you will!"
      That was...one of those days near the end. I don't remember which. That weekend that I really didn't need to be there. Then I was told I'd be free on Monday, as soon as Patty could come get me. They got my stuff out of my locker and called security to send some armed knucklehead to get my money from the safe. "We can't give you your slippers until you physically leave the unit. The laces, you know." I said "I understand! As long as I have my socks!" They smiled, not getting the truly obscure joke from a Cracked article.
      Just hanging out in the Quiet Zone, in the giant chairs, counting the hours. Suddenly there was something going on up front. Well, one last stretch of my legs, I guess...
      A disoriented woman, in her johnnies. A nurse asked "Can you walk?" Another nurse laughed "Oh, she sure can! That's why she's here!"
      She was the walker that just said "La-dee-dah, fuck this noise" and decided to go home.
      Oh! I don't think I mentioned: In the ER, I tried this. They lock the doors from the inside, who knew?
      She came up to me soon after. She said "......." Fill any words you want into that. She mumbled in a whisper, and what few fragments I could understand, I didn't understand. She "talked" to me for a few minutes. I just kept nodding and saying "I don't understand." She nodded back, smiled, and walked up to someone else, and did the same thing.
      As I said at the beginning of this--no one wants to be there. A lot of us need to be there. She seemed like a kind and innocent soul, lost in this world of horror, of random chaos, of cold calculation by the truly evil people in power.
      The next patient in screamed and screamed. It was sheer pain to hear her, and know that I wasn't hearing more than a fraction of the pain she felt. Maybe she'd just awakened in this place, not knowing where or why she was there. She only spoke Spanish. She was only being translated to the exclusively Anglophone staff via the cleaning lady. How...how was this poor woman to get help here, where no one can even understand her?
      Her screaming became
      Christ, there are no words. If there's anything that crosses language, it's pain. She ended up in the Quiet Room. The staff deserted her to her tortured cries.
      She eventually quieted. From being calmed by the woman who no one could understand, the walker. I fake-paced by them. Did she also speak Spanish? No. They were speaking the universal language of "I Am Here. I Will Help." They were holding hands as I walked by. Just nodding, a smile on one's face, as the other's tears continued to fall, but now falling with another's. Miss Whisper calmed her. They spoke a different launguage than the rest of us.
      I sat in the hard chair for an hour. Yeah, snarky asshole. You're so much better than everyone here. You're the one who decided as soon as you entered, I'm here for me, no one else. "Talk to the staff." In that hallway, in that moment, with only one shared language, those two women understood each other more than I've ever understood any human in my life.

      "Your sister's here!" said the Cat Nurse. "I guess I'll have to give that book I got to someone else! 'The Metropolitan Museum of Cats' book!" And I left with Patty. I changed clothes in the public bathroom, because I didn't want to wear johnnies any more! I came out with the pants in my hand and looked for a place to leave them. Patty, who had just spent a week digging out the crap in my condo, said "Don't throw them away, they'd make good sleep pants!"
      After half a second, I said "Now you're just enabling me!' and threw them on the bench. We exited through, yes, the gift shop. We were on our way to see my Kondo'd condo!
      And behind me, two women were in the BHU, trying to make sense of their new lives. Just as I did.

      The end! Of inpatient. Next, let's dip our toes in the frigid waters of--outpatient! If you're thinking, Jeez is this ever going to end?!
      No. It doesn't. It's life.

      To cheer you up: The Poems of Curious Zelda, A Cat

11/11

       I hope this one won't be another 45K slab of text.
      There was a whiteboard outside the nurse's station. It had the date, the day's activities, and an Inspirational Quote. Except on the weekends. It actually is hard to know what day it is when you're locked in and every day is basically the same. The weather, I'm not sure why that was there. "It's a beautiful day...outside! Sucks to be you!" For some reason, it almost always said that it was a sunny day, even if it wasn't. It's Always Sunny in Schizophrenia!
      One weekend the quote was left up for 3 days. It was "Be Happy for what you have." Someone--not me--wiped it down to "Be Happy for what"?
      I filled out the last of my paperwork just before leaving. The last things I was handed were refills for my non-working prescriptions, and the schedule for STEPS, the substance abuse support group. I couldn't wait to finally get to sleep in, especially without the 3AM call to prayer from my roomie. I was told that the group would start in a week. It started at 8AM the next morning.
      I got home via Patty, with John waiting. Waiting for AAA, as he tried to move my car and the battery was dead. I'd been having trouble with it all year. It drained itself with doors closed; it even drained the power from my iPod. I went inside my condo, via John's sekrit knowledge that he was using to break in. it was a putty knife. At this point, there were 2 housekeys that were AWOL, so this was how I could get in. "I'm Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible!" I said. "Next time I do this, I'm going to do it hangin' from wires! And I'll never walk, just run like this!" (does that weird Tom Cruise karate-chopping running. Does he think that looks cool? He runs like a penguin 100 feet from a Port-a-Potty and has diarrhea)
      The house was...very clean. The cleanest in 20 years, aka the last time I had a girlfriend over (Jess doesn't count). It also smelled...clean. Grotesquely clean. I can't stand the smell of cleaning products. Ammonia and bleach and at the same time, that's how you make chlorine gas. The windows were open on a breezy day, thank gourd. It was certainly clean of one thing.
      Cats.
      They were safe with their Auntie Jessie. But it was so empty there. And they couldn't come back until I got the all-clear from the health department.
      They both left, so that Patty could wait for AAA and I could get acclimated. I noticed stuff that was thrown away that I didn't need, and stuff I did that was also gone. Those plastic cat food can lids, they're not easy to find cheap. Apparently, Patty had found my 3 spatulas and said "No one needs 3 spatulas! What he needs is no spatulas!" A spatula is not a thing you make out of anything else. (Mom said that Patty got like that when cleaning. She'd recently bought a brand new pair of dance shoes for her daughter at Savers. Which she had donated by mistake) I did something I really needed to do. Shower and shave! Not that I didn't shower while in the asylum, but with actual shampoo (another forbidden substance there), and shaved for real. I was allowed to shave there, under supervision with a single-use razor. I said "Well, if I ever become homeless, at least I know it'll only take me a week to get the look!" It was not a very good shave. Bad enough that the (female) nurse volunteered to get the bits I missed. Maybe that's some turn-on for some guys, but not for me. No scissors, of course, and my beard was lookng like I was growing an Albert Einstein Chia Pet. So at home, I trimmed that down. After a while of catching up on email, I wondered why Patty handn't called me down for AAA. They'd replaced the battery, without asking me, Car Owner. The mechanic couldn't turn it on, so he was nearly in a panic. I took the keys and said "It's got one of those electronic deadbolts," and wanded it on. He was embarrassed. I hate that damn thing, and asked "Do you remove these?"
      I continued to clean. Attention must be paid! How else would I get the cats back? Jessica recommended this--"Don't give the Condo Ass any excuse! Let them stay with me until the health dept is done."
      That first night, I got so sick from the cleaning fumes. A pounding headache, and an open sluice at opposite ends of my body. And if I called out on my first day of STEPS, it was going to look bad. Which is what I should've done. The big threat they hung over me was that I couldn't get refills on my prescriptions. The ones that didn't work. I got maybe 3 hours sleep and dragged in. The guy who gave the initial interview had a familiar name. I asked "Are you the J.S. that used to come into Kay-Bee Toys and buy model kits?" And he was! In fact, he was still friends with one of his old babysitters--Patty! He'd just seen her a couple of weeks before. His father and mine were great friends. I mentioned the time his dad bought him a model of the battleship New Jersey, and that I thought it was above his skill level. It was, he said, "It was for my brother. I broke it playing with it, and he was so mad!' Interesting fact: I knew he was adopted, but not from where. It was Vietnam. He was an orphan on the very last helicopter out of Saigon as the Viet Cong were about to take the city.
      My first group wasn't until the next day. I think I can fit my experiences there all in one post, so I'll save those. I cleaned and cleaned. I dug out the closet of clothes that literally hadn't been worn since the Clinton years. Six bags full! I used the putty knife to clean my kitchen, which should give you an idea of how crusty it was. I called the health dept in a game of phone tag, before he agreed to come see my condo. I drove the hour one way to Jessica's to see my boys. I was expecting excited greetings, but Nope. DJ refused to come out from under a chair, although he purred quite loudly when I reached under to pet him. Byron sat on another chair, and alternated between purrs and growls. I'd brought some worn and unwashed clothes so that they could at least get my scent when I wasn't there. They weren't interested. I pointed at the open crotch of my pants and said to DJ, "You're in here all the time when I shit, why not now?!" Byron got thirsty or hungry, and s l o w l y came down from his chair. In 5 minutes he still was in mid-descent. "Don't worry, continental drift will bring you to the bowl in a million years."
      I was there almost 4 hours before I left dejected. I knew they were in the best of hands, and she said that they'd accepted her, although they weren't thrilled, and certainly a bit PTSD after the Gestapo raid.
      The health dept guy came. I had Patty with me, both because she'd talked to him more than once, and most guys are distracted by her (she's quite charming and pretty). He looked around, said "I can detect a little pet odor" but wasn't concerned. He said "My boss said I didn't really need to come here, but I said they basically invited me in." Patty and I exchanged a look of "We did all this for nothing?!" But all was fine and good, and I was glad he had come. If the Condo Ass talked to him, he clearly wasn't going to give them anything to use against me. And so far, they haven't. Besides the property manager twice asking John "How many cats does he have? He's only allowed one!" Which is A: True, and B: Bullshit. They changed the rules after I'd lived there 25 years. At first they grandfathered the old owners in, but I guess they changed it. You can keep more than one pet, but it's like a $25 per month fine. John said he didn't know how many I had, though obviously he did. I'm just going to point out to them that when I said I had 3, it was on a survey from almost 10 years ago. Since I currently have 2, one of whom now runs away any time he hears something that may be the cops coming the stairs, yeah, prove I have 2, assholes.
      As soon as the health dept sounded the all clear, it was back to Massachusetts to grab the Boys! They usually scream and fight going into carriers, but they were very happy to get in this time. (Byron was a bit stroppy, but that's B) They were happy to be home. A bit confused by how things looked and smelled now, but happy. DJ a little clingier and jumpier at outside noises, Byron a bit back to his "The floor is lava!" phase. But we were now about as normal as things were before.
      Next time: group therapy, or Bill Y meets Bill W!

      Old-Timey Life Hacks from Forever Ago

      The 100 best, worst, and weirdest things we saw on the internet in the 2010s

11/16

       Couple of things from the hospital stay:
      Some "mindfulness" meeting that was just quiet music. I skimmed a book. The woman running it was certainly still in college. To encourage conversation, she asked "Who here has grandchildren?" This was the 50+ ward, so not an unreasonable icebreaker. Out of 7 patients, only one raised her hand. Which kind of surprised me, until I thought that none of my 3 sisters have any. She continued "Good! How many?'
      "Two. A boy and a girl."
      "Good, good! Do you have any children?"

      I went to my room--when it was still my room--and thought "Huh, I guess I must've tossed a blanket on the floor during the night." I bent over to pick it up, but stopped before throwing it on the bed. I went to the nurse's station. I patiently waited until one of them was free. I said "Who's that in my bed?" The head nurse screamed from down the hall "THERE'S SOMEONE IN YOUR BED?!" And 3 nurses immediately ran to the room. It was one of the heavily medicated patients. My room had once been hers. "We'll change the sheets!" they said. I walked out of the room and saw a couple of fellow inmates smiling at me, trying not to laugh. I said "And she ate all my porridge, too!"

      Speaking of thin gruel, that was group therapy. Just the saem thing, 3 days a week. Less than 4 hours a day, including an hour's worth of breaks (with a free lunch!). I've never been a group person. Get me with people I don't know, I shut up. And, as Patty said as I was deciding to leave the program, "If you have as little in common with the people in your group as you did with the people in the hospital, I don't see why you're going." In the first group, there was a guy who was there for the sixth time in a couple of years. One said she'd been clean for 11 years, then had an incident that led to her taking 15-20 bags of Fentanyl a day. A guy graduating listed the many drugs he'd been doing, which meant little to me, and the other addicts gasped. "You were doing 400mg of [prescription drug] every day?!"
      It was out of my experience. I basically apologized one time, saying that my family and friends were very supportive, as this was my first time. This led to the rest of group's rueful half-smiles. Their stories had a lot of burned bridges. The 11-years-clean woman's mother thought she was missing some money (she wasn't) and immediately accused her daughter. There were people who'd lost their jobs, their fiancee of years, their wife and kids. One owned a 3-star restaraunt in New York CIty in the 80s that was very popular. She coped with the endless crush of restaraunt business in that 80s way, cocaine. The place was gone soon.
      The graduation ceremonies I liked , because someone had beaten their addiction, at least for now. But we others had to list what we identified with in their stories, and it wasn't always easy for me. I even said so at one, and the graduate just nodded and smiled. No, I do not identify with making $1500 a day dealing drugs. I don't identify with having $180K in your house, before it was stolen by another gang. (Advice from him: Don't spend your drug money in a flashy way) I sure haven't ever decided to recoup my losses by stealing a loaded UPS truck. "I figured there must be at least $70K in stuff in one of those!' Other patient: "Oh yeah, $75 to 80, easy!" This is not a question I would get on The Price is Right. "They never found the truck--oh, wait, yeah, they did." Where? At the bottom of the Housatonic River?
      Several people were there because their parole demanded it. One guy, during our recap, said "I finally got off probation! And, I admit it, I celebrated with a couple of drinks and some weed." Counselor: "...Thank you for your honesty." He didn't graduate. Was he thrown out for his honesty, or just waited for that one last free lunch and legal freedom to quit?
      One guy was fresh out of detox and still shaking. He'd arrive 10 minutes to an hour late, because he didn't know what time it was. We began each session with a brief recap of what we'd done since the last one. When I said I'd cleaned out 6 trash bags of clothes, I added "If you know any short skinny guys who want to wear 80s dress shirts, I'm your guy!" This guy's eyes sparkled. "There are places where you can sell old clothes for cash!" I thanked him, saying I was donating them to charity and thinking "He's not out of the addict mindset yet." On his last day, that recovered guy gave his history and hopes to stay clean. Every graduate of the program gets a coin from AA (the program was basically just AA, with smaller groups and more supervision). It was passed from each of us to finally him, where we told him what we thought of him and wished him luck. When it got to our clothes-selling friend, he examined it closely. The coins have inspirational mottos on each side, so I thought he was pondering what to say. After 2 minutes, he stopped and said "Do I get to keep this?" The counselor said "No...that's Mike's." "Oh." And was surprisingly eloquent in his speech. When it finally made it to Mike, he asked "So...is that gold?" "No, it's brass, dude." "You sure? Is it gold-plated?" "Dude! It's just brass!' said in a tone of "You're embarassing us other addicts!" He never came back.
      The drop-out rate was unsurprsingly high. I'm sure group worked for some people. But it's group. There's always the 2-4 people who dominate every conversation, and even interrupt a direct question to someone else. Who would generally be like me, and just cede the floor to them. The counselors sometimes would steer it back to the person asked--or steer it to themselves and talk at length. About nothing.
      The very first thing we did every meeting was take a breathalyser test. I flunked once! It was the day after visiting the Boys, which was depressing. So I took my meds and drank beer. I quit 12 hours before the test, and drank a half gallon of water over the time I slept. But still I failed. At twice the limit! Less than 10 minutes later, they took it again, and I was now under the limit. In 10 minutes? I was told to leave the meeting for the day. I hung out 20 minutes in the parking lot, then went to an AA meeting, as they'd recommended. It was the all woman's meeting, so I just went home and googled. Did I fail because of my meds? No, there's really no med that will give a false positive. But both of them warned "Do not take with alcohol," so maybe they just extended it. Hey Therapist who said my only problem was drinking, why'd you prescribe those? What I did find out is you can get a false positive from the breathalyser itself. The cheap handheld ones are so inaccurate that they're frequently not even entered into evidence in court.
      There really isn't much else to tell about the month I was in group. Except maybe me mentioning my local police, and everyone groaned and said "Vernon?! They're like the Gestapo!" Finally I asked for a recommendation for an outside therapist for one-on-one. This was greeted like I asked for 15 bags of Fentanyl. I found a list through state medicare, and one of the ones listed was assigned to the group. He wasn't happy either, and told a counselor to get me a list of therapists that my insurance would take. He was still mad about this. I mentioned that I could also talk to my sister, whose husband is a licensed psychologist (for minors), and that my friend Jess had some background in therapy, having worked for the BHU in that very building for a couple of years. (As a receptionist, but she'd also sat in on groups) "Well," he nearly spat, "I guess she's not much use then, because you're here!" Wow...did you just slag my closest friend and heavily imply that everyone in group is a loser? I guess we must be, if we have to talk to you! My plan was to do both group and one-on-one for a while, but that kind of cemented it. Especially the next day, when Patty said the quote above.
      "Send me the link!" said Patty. "Maybe John knows some of the therapists!' He didn't, but she did. So now I have an outside therapist. I saw her weekly over the last month, and just switched to monthly. I like her very much, but I'm really just trying to forge a support system so that shit never happens to me again. And to repeat: Don't call the suicide hotline. They sent me a bill of $364 for calling them. If someone was suicidal over debt, what do they think that's going to do? I haven't paid them, as they didn't say anything on their site or in the call about it costing me anything. It may just be their scam, hitting people when they're most vulnerable. For all I know, they've sold my address to other vendors!
      (Opens today's mail, finds an offer from "Neptune Cremation Services")
      Two days after Pat and my visit to Panera and the Unfortunate Sandwich, I was pacing the floor, thinking about having just quit group. I looked out the window at 130AM. There was a town EMT truck outside. And a police SUV! And, here comes another SUV! And they're all parked in front of my building! And now, the cops are walking to the door of my common hallway! And now, I'm literally tiptoeing to my own door. I drew the little chain closed, thinking "This will only slow them down long enough for me to say 'Do you have a warrant?' but if they smash the door in, I'll have proof of forced entry, and this is how I'm going to think about cops for the rest of my life, isn't it?"
      I heard someone open their door and say "Hello." Wait, what, is that...? Yes, it was my downstairs neighbor the Dog Whisperer, the one in the apartment that my sink leaked water into. Where this whole thing started.
      He was strapped to a gurney, in a much more voluntary and violence-free way than I was. Is he having a medical emergency? I guess not. An ambulance turned up, but he was put in the EMT truck, and it sat there for 20 minutes. It finally left, turning into the front of his garage. That was off; he never parks in his garage but in front of it, but his car mustn't have been there. A cop climbed up to my floor, and yeah that felt fun. He looked around briefly. Maybe he was remembering "Ah, the third floor! I remember smashing into both these units!" (My peaceful neighbors also had a visit from the goon squad a few years back) He left, sat in the SUV probably filling out an incident report. He left; the ambulance stayed, with the engine running. An hour later, the EMT returned and out got the ambulance guys. Huh? I could've have stolen an ambulance!
      The next day, I saw him walking his dog. What? You get locked up for 12 hours, I get locked up for 12 days?! What happened to him? I don't know, or much care. However, his car was back, minus the big signs on the sides about his dog training service that described him as "the Dog Whisperer." When I first saw that car, I thought "Copyright infringement." I assume there was some connection, but none a my beeswax.

      And now we're pretty much up to date. It all ended as it began, with a leaky sink and a trip via the PD. And so ends The Saga of the Sinkcident. Except for how it'll affect me for the rest of my life.

11/21

       Everything I write is going to be anticlimax after all of that.
      I started therapy. I like my therapist, but early on she wanted to do breathing exercises. All fine and good. Until she talked about how it would get my energy flowing, and I suddenly thought "She means chi and chakras and that crap, right?" Indeed she did! She asked me "Did you hear about the experiments done by that Japanese scientist?" For some reason, I instantly thought "Is ths the Rice guy or the Water guy?" Yes! Because they're both the same guy. His theory is that if you pray or sing to a jar of water or rice, it changes at the molecular level. No. No it fucking does not. It's modern Lysenkoism. Lysenko being that Stalinist "scientist" who thought that Marx saying "Communism will lead to a new type of man" was meant to be taken very, very literally. He'd cut the tails of off mice, breed them, and then they'd give birth to tailless mice. No. No he fucking did not.They gave birth to mice with tails, and he chopped them off. But this "proved" Marx was right about a thing he only kind of said, so it became a part Soviet science for decades.
      You may remember it the same way I did. I posted a link to A Grain of Truth: Recreating Dr. Emoto’s Rice Experiment 5 years ago. A funny article, although today the Fourth Jar of Rice would have tweets taped to it. She couldn't remember the name of the movie it was based on, but I figured out it was What the Bleep Do We Know?! aka What the #$*! Do We Know?. Like A Talking Cat?!?, don't ever trust a movie with that much punctuation in the title.

      She convinced me to do something I'd been hoping to do for months, volunteer at a cat shelter. I googled and found Protectors of Animals up the road. Half an hour up the road, skirting Hartford around rush hour. I went incognito, pretending to be looking to adopt. To see the cats--just see them--I had to fill out a double-paged application in a small font. They wanted 3 references and the name of my vet. There were maybe 3 questions about declawing, which means they're against it. They also seemed keen on keeping cats indoors. Those are very big pluses in their favor. I got a tour, only of the adult cats (announced before anyone went in to the open adoption event: "All the kittens have been adopted"), and only the females (because if I was going to adopt again...She'll never be replaced, but she was a good mother figure to The Boys). It was clean, the cats were happy and healthy, the ones that weren't healthy or hadn't been cleared by a vet were seperate. Most of the people were volunteers, and professional and friendly. I eventually admitted "This was my stealth mode; I'm really here to volunteer." I talked to maybe 3 other people. They seemed pretty sold on me. "Do you want to fill out an application? You can do it right now!" I said "I have it mostly filled out in a window on my computer." I checked a couple of days later to see how the workday commute would be, and it was busy, but not bad. So I applied!
      (crickets)
      I never heard back. I waited a week. I thought "Maybe I didn't fill the application out right," as there were questions that had to be answered, but maybe it would let you post without answering them. So I applied again. 4 days ago, haven't heard back. I can't even get a job that doesn't pay anything!

      And now a brief shoutout to Neptune Cremation Services of Neptune, New Jersey! Are you the hit I got from Neptune, New Jersey, after I mentioned "Neptune Cremation Services" a week ago? Are you buying the addresses of people who called the greedy suicide hotline / almost certain scam, hoping I'm something you can barbeque? Well, come on in, friend! Do you smell the fudge brownies I'm cooking for you? Can you lean in the oven and tell me if they're done? No, lean in further...further...
      LATER: (snuffs out Yankee Candle Fudge Brownie Scent) Works every time. Who wants extra crispy?

      Serious: White People Are Broken
      Not very serious: The Commercials of the Star Wars Holiday Special
      Least serious: Artificial Intelligence Generates Hilariously Wrong Inspirational Posters

11/24

      Now that all the excitement is over (unless I hear from the shelter), let's wade throgh some recently consumed media!

      It's that time of year: MST3K Turkey Day! Apparently 2019's will be celebrated at Shout! Factory. Possibly also here. They now have a Twitch page, whatever Twitch is. It just runs MST 24/7 in the original order. There are a lot of ads, I guess. I didn't see any except for the channel itself, although my ad blocker stopped hundreds of them. It also has a live and so fuckin' useful comment stream, for those of you who need to constantly remind the world that you exist. Random ones I saw, before just going to full screen:

      Anyon wanna be my frienon fbDanie Sparks im posing with a german shepherd in my lap. Im aa lonely man.
      Bill has a gospel in my church, Mike is the Jesus figure by decree or someone whose name i forgot, sorry
      Packers are the communists of the NFL don't @ me
      and that represented a common brain of today trying to compete with intellectuals

      That last comment came from an epitome of evolution who kept posting variants of that.

      My DVD drive failed. This is the second one to die while the rest of the computer worked. I've never had this happen before; the CPU was always what went first. Both of the last 2 were the vertically installed DVD drives. It's never happened on any computer with a horizontally aligned one. In fact, my old XP computer's DVD drive works, and it's so old it's not even a burner. So I got an external drive from Amazon. The S&H was 20% of the cost, so I did the free trial of Prime thing. And I have to tell you: Prime Video sucks.
      If you want to watch old TV shows, sure I guess it's okay. But a steaming service that you pay for that requires you to pay a second time to watch something? That's like a restaraunt that charges for a meal, and then again for cutlery and a chair. Ask about our Premium Subscribers discount if you want a table!
      I saw Star Trek II, which is like this totally obscure movie, man, you should check it out. I came across the old Twilight Zone competitor, The Outer Limits, after my iTunes played that Cabaret Voltaire song that samples it ("The 70 billion people of Earth--Where are they?"). Even better than I remembered it. I'd forgotten 2 of the 3 twists. Yes, the Aliens were guys with eyeshadow and pantyhose on their heads, it's a TV show from 1963. Outer Limits eps were an hour as opposed to Zone's half hours, and they were better than any sci-fi movie of the time. I found a page of Best Episodes, which listed 15. Out of 45. I guess they were going by Rod Serling's own rating of his show: "I thought that a third of them were great, a third of them were okay, and a third of them were real dogs." You remember the one with the plastic surgery and the one with the tiny astronauts and the one with the angry monkey on the plane wing (most famous for its line "KHAAAAN!"), but do you remember the one with Carol Burnett, the Maytag repairman, and the laughtrack? ("Remember the raccoon, Hogarth? I remember the raccoon! Euuughughh!")
      There were a lot of good ones, but the only other outstanding one I saw (I didn't see all 15 after a few real dogs) was "Soldier." This is the one that writer Harlan Ellison sued James Cameron over, for totally stealing his idea 20 years later with "The Terminator." A soldier comes from the future. And Terminator's plot follows it completely: The Soldier comes from the future by accident, has no reason to be in our present, so he wants to go back to the future. He's put in a rubber room, while a psychoanalyst tries to translate his language, which is English but after a thousand years of change. He eventually can communicate with this lab-bred Spartan, and tries to teach him empathy by letting him live with the therapist's family. It only succeeds, and just barely, because the Soldier immediately recognizes his superior officer: the family's cat! Trust me, it actually made sense. Then, another accidently transported Future Soldier, who is not a robot, arrives in the last 3 minutes, and they fight, the end.
      See? Exactly like The Terminator!
      No, exactly like Harlan Ellison. A good writer, an always awful human. I assume Cameron just threw some money at him to make him go away. Ellison should've sued Zemeckis for Back to the Future, because that involved a guy who wanted to go back to the future. Or all time travel movies. Movies with soldiers. Movies where people learn English. Movies with therapists. Movies with cats. Seriously, A Talking Cat?!? was closer to his story, because the future cats could talk. SUE ALL THE MOVIES FOR EXISTING!
      I pretty much watched nothing on Prime after that, as there was nothing to watch (unless I paid). In the last few days of the free trial, I checked for The Tick. I was looking for the classic early 90s cartoon. I'd forgotten that Amazon had made their own version just recently. In the previously established Tick canon, superheroes are real. In this one, non-super Arthur has a history of mental illness. The Tick is a hallucination. His mother is trying to understand, and his main support comes from his sister. I thought "It's going to get weird if he also has a friend who does feral cat rescue." I really wasn't up for "make fun of the crazy guy," so I almost gave up about 15 minutes in. But in the 2nd epirsode, Arthur talks to the Tick, and he sighs to his sister "I know you can't see him." She says "But he's right there." He was real. The show seemed like the writer, maybe everyone involved, had been in therapy. The closest to "making fun" was Arthur going to his stepfather's birthday, and everyone took him aside and said "How are you doing? Are you okay? Because if you want to talk, just pick up the phone." The joke being that he had a full support system of people who cared about him. Just like I did, and I didn't know it.
      The first season was really good. The second season's plot was less focused. The 1st had 13 episodes, the 2nd 10.5. It looked like it was supposed to be 13, but it was suddenly cut down. Maybe Bezos needed money for his giant space penis with which he shall impregnate the very Heavens. Bezos once said "What else am I going to do with $100 billion besides go to space?" I dunno, maybe pay your employees a decent wage? Nah, that's commie talk!
      I've tried Prime a few times, and I really don't know what people see in it. It has nothing. They wanted $3 to let me watch their Fyre Festival documentary, which sounds like something the Fyre Festival guys would do. (Except once you paid, they wouldn't let you see it) When Disney+ launched, I thought "Maybe you can finally try Netflix Streaming for free," and you finally can. Netflix decided to compete with Disney+'s upcoming launch by raising their prices. They didn't raise the price on the DVD-only service at all! No, they just cut the deliveries in half, meaning that they'd effectively doubled the price. This is Netflix's inherent problem: They have 3 times as many DVDs as streaming shows, but you get one DVD a week on their fake "Unlimited" plan, and some of those DVDs have been kicking around for a long time. Maybe literally kicked, like a street hockey puck. There's no DVD-plus-streaming plan; you have to pay for both seperately and both full price.
      At least I knew what I wanted on Netflix. I rented their original 2nd season of MST3K and watched their Fyre Festival doc. Apparently, the Netflix one looked at the disaster from a logistical and business perspective, while Amazon looked at it from the paying customers' side. Having seen a few of the entitled rich brats in the Netflix one, I have no desire to see any more of the whiny little shits.
      MST3K v3.0 had a few good ones, but I'm about to skip the 3rd or 4th offering. As always, the trap with MST is that you have to watch the movie to get the jokes, but if the jokes are bad, you're just watching a bad movie with an extra layer of bad on it. Maybe it gets better.
      I'd heard some good things about the Netflix original Green Eggs & Ham. Can you make a TV show about a book with a 50 word vocabulary that was written on a bet? Yes! Yes you can! Can you make a 13 episode series about it? No, not really. It has some funny jokes, and the animation and voice work are great. They'd better be, the series cost $6 million! Per episode. The plot is wafer thin. It's really Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Hate to be the heterodox here, but I really didn't like that movie much. Both of the main characters were unlikable. Here, it's Sam I Am and Guy Am I in the Candy and Martin roles. Sam is an optimist and fuck-up and just damn annoying. Guy is a crabby pessimist who Sam cheers up / utterly destroys the life of. The problem is that every ep resets to zero / regresses to the mean / goes back to square one at the end. Even when you were a kid, you knew that those poor slobs weren't getting off of Gilligan's Limbo, and GI Joe was never going to finally drive COBRA into bankruptcy (where did they get their funding from, anyway? Were they like Trump, staggering from one Chapter 11 to another?). In each ep, Guy starts to open up and enjoy life, Sam fucks it up and ruins Guy's romance, Guy won't eat the eggs and/or ham, then we lather rinse repeat.
      The vague linkage between the eps is a vainglorious and narcissistic bad guy with a weird blond combover who has, quote, "all the best words", voiced by Eddie Izzard but possibly based on a politcal figure, trying to capture a chickaraffe. The chickaraffe is meant to be as adorable as an Ewok (not a compliment). The second plot is Guy wooing some single mother. Of course there's a romantic plot! It's Dr Seuss, famous for that! Don't you remember the torrid love triangle of the Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2? Or One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Let's Screw Fish? "Oh, the Places You'll Go, the Things You'll Put Your Tongue Into!"? I'm on #8, and I'll finish all 13, but 8 or 10's about as far as the concept should've been stretched. Maybe 13 if Sam chokes to death on a green hambone.
      Okay, I finished it, and it picks up speed in the last 3. I think if it was 10 eps, it'd be great; 8, maybe even better. It's funny and goofy and cute. Maybe they plan on cutting it down to movie length for the world market. I say that because the credits list versions of it made in 26 languages.
      The last DVD I rented was Mortal Engines, just to see if it was really all that bad. I'd give the first hour 3 stars, because of what a weird and illogical world it's set in. In the Dystopian Future (all Futures are Dystopian in the movies), the world was devastated in the 60 Minute War. Quantum bombs destroyed everyhing, to the point that they caused the Earth's tectonic plates to shift and smashed all the continents together. Somehow...this meant that...major cities put themselves on tank treads and drove around, swallowing smaller cities for fuel. Suuuure they did. Wouldn't a tank the size of Pittsburgh just sink into the ground? What if a tread breaks, you gotta lift Paris up to fix it? The opening scene has London outracing a smaller city to eat it. It's noticed 6 miles away. It's a fucking city and no one notices until then. It snuck up on them! It covers the 6 miles in about 3 minutes, so that's what, 120 MPH? It later travels from Austria to Asia in like a day. The movie has scenes set in London's museum, because nothing's going break in a billion ton tank racing cross country. "Careful!" shouts a museum worker. "Save the American deities!" and it's a statue of Minions! I think it was a joke, but it could've been "Yeah, our concept is pretty darn dumb, let's lean into it."
      I give the 2nd hour 1.5 stars, because it turned into every CGI action movie from the last 20 years. Predicting the next incident is one thing; predicting the exact dialog is another. The bad guy starts doing things because he's EVIL, and that's his one and only reason. He's played by Hugo Weaving, who made mutant Nazi the Red Skull seem logically motivated. He builds a Quantum ray gun out of thousand year old spare parts found in landfills (not a joke) to knock down a wall. Last time, it smashed continents, but you can't make an omelet, right? Spoiler: He's a good guy's father! I LOLed at that, because it just comes out of nowhere and who cares?
      The best thing I've found so far on Netflix streaming was to finally see this:

      

12/1

      Pharmacist: "This [flu vaccine] should become effective in 7 to 14 days."
       Me: "When do I get The Autisms?"
       Pharmacist, pause then laughing: "...TOMORROW!"
       Me: "Good, good, I got things to do."

      One of the things I did was go to Thanksgiving. A record crowd; 22 people in my sister's Patty's not-big home. People from Georgia, Delaware and the Ba-Ha-Mas. And a pair of in-laws I'd never met. Patty, of the Dad: "He's creepy!' Mom, of the Dad: "He's creepy!' When these are observations volunteered independently, I'll just go with "yeah, he probably is."
      My fave niblings were there. (Niblings: your sibling's kids, the "n" coming from neice and nephew). Cassie had lost her voice. This is not automatically bad at Thanksgiving. "I'd (gasp) love to talk about football, but..." (points at throat). I asked her "How was your modeling job?" She modeled for a dentist. "You know what I got paid in?" she rasp-whispered. "A toothbrush! And a box of chocolates!" I guess the dentist was drumming up future business, but Cassie's dad ate the whole box without asking.
      It was a nice toothbrush! It was, dunno, an iBrush? It sends data on your brushing to your phone! Does the dentist get the info too? "Hmm...she's not FLOSSING! But--ooh, look at her sex-ay molars!" She said--actually, she spent a lot of our conversations typing me on her phone--"I deleted that app right away!" She suggested that we communicate through memes. I mimed "blond woman screaming at sarcastic cat" and she got it immediately. I did "Is this Love?" but she didn't get it until I said "No, it's a butterfly, dumbass."
      I told her about how much it sucks to work with the public when you've lost your voice. "You point at your throat and nod 'Hello,' and the customer instantly screams 'I SAID 'HELL-OOOO'!' You hold up a sign that says 'LARYNGITIS' and they get mad at that." Cassie hoarsed "And then they say 'If you'd only told me you had laryngitis!' How can I tell you I have laryngitis, when I have laryngitis?!"
      Nibling Matt was there. While I was cleaning my condo, I found something and said "This is too good for Goodwill!" It was a life-size Darth Vader standee. Life-size, as in "In the costume, Prowse was 7 feet tall." I wondered "Who could I give this to?" and ping! went the lightbulb. I asked his mother if he might want it, and her answer was an instant email of "OH GOD YES!! His wife might not like it, but oh well." Everyone who heard about my donation got a wry smile and said "Oh, she's not going to like it!" (She didn't like it. To make it better--her scaredy-cat cat loves it) I told him how I got it: When Lechmere was moving its music/video headquarters from Boston to Chicago. One had people who'd successfully run it for 50 years, the other had 21-yo MBAs who knew nothing about everything. Boston basically had a going away party for us. We all left with literal boxes of freebies! But one was a prize in a trivia contest. "Sony has a new band called the Nerf Herders! What movie is that from?" Two of us answered immediately. "STAR WARS!" one yelled. "EMPIRE STRIKES BACK!" yelled me. It was going to the first guy, but I--and this was 1997, a year so long ago that the page you're now reading had just started and "nerd" was still a perjorative--said "It's from Empire, Star Wars was the first movie, it was in the cavern on the Rebel base on the Ice Planet Hoth, just before Leia called Chewbacca a walking carpet--" And the boss smiled and waved his hand and gave it to me. Sadly, he didn't wave his hand at the other guy and say "This is not the cardboard standee you're winning." (Maybe it was my geekery, or maybe it was because out of 32 stores, mine was always #2 or 3 in sales)
      Matt had a new tattoo in progress. It was going to be a sleeve of space ships battling ("Here's the Death Star!"). "I'm going to have the Space Winnebago from Spaceballs on it, in honor of Grampy!" My father had introduced his young Padawan Matt to the Star Wars Trilogy from the local Blockbuster one weekend. At the end, he said "It's all because of this!" and played Spaceballs. My Dad loved Mel Brooks. I asked Matt "Will it say under it 'SPACEBALLS: The Tattoo'?" And he had an OMG!! moment. "I HAVE TO SEE IF HE CAN DO THAT!!"
      As always, we decamped into factions. The liberal wing down one end of the table (Patty's whole family, Mom, Matt, me) and the more apolitical wing down the other. Although there's only one Fox-scist in the family and he sat...between mom, Patty and John? Politics is off-limits at family gatherings, but when he gets drinky, he gets talky. The volume level when my family is together is deafening, so all I heard was after my Mom turned to me and rolled her eyes in pain was him babbling about radioactive shotglasses. (No, really, he's an antiquer. Jess and I are Junque Shoppers, but he buys stuff to resell it). Cassie broke in with a text for Mom, and he looked kind of annoyed that his infinite wisdom was not being imparted. My other not-cool B-I-L kept talking to me about the beers he bought and their backstories, never quite grasping it when I said repeatedly "Yeah, I sold these for 20 years." "Hey, did you hear about air? It's like a thing you breathe!"

      I was supposed to see Jess a week ago, but she had to cancel. As I always say, when she cancels it's always for a good reason, it's just that the reason is never anything good. Her boy Ham got really sick. His symptoms were either "very bad respiratory infection" or "the renal failure that killed Kill Kill." Here is a picture of Ham from 2014.

      

      Yes, he has 2 thumbs on each paw. He got his name because when he eats, he grunts like a pig. And he is a ham, loving all attention. He's literally the only of her 12 cats I've seen because all the others run away.
      He was sick for 3 weeks, "getting fluids, x-rays, antibiotics, and an ultrasound" in her words. America: Where cats can get better health care than human children. So between now and Xmas, I've got to fit visits with Jess, my Mom, my sister Patty, my plan to lure Trump into a feral TNR trap with a KFC bucket and shoot him to the Moon, and my therapist all in there.

      How can you not check out a movie called The VelociPastor? It looks like it wants to be a bad movie, despite covering the serious modern problem of a preacher who turns into a dinosaur. There are clips you can watch, although I think "Opening parents scene" and "Final dino fight" are the most Pythonesque, recalling "What an amazing escape!" from the Cycling Tour, and "I want to fight the LIE-ONN!" from Scott of the Sahara respectively.
      Also, could you guys lend me like 5 bucks? Moon rocket fuel is real expensive!

      

12/5

       I was wasting time on that weird polling site when it asked "Did you ever break up with someone over a holiday?" This was soon followed by "Did you ever break up with someone because of their parents?" and "Did you ever break up with someone on a holiday because of their parents?"
      I think a question writer had a very eventful Thanksgiving.

      I imagine you're all familiar with my political views. ("Nixon's Corpse 2020!!") I'm not really into Facebook political groups, because ZuckerBorg is going to turn me over to the Grand Moff Putin if I do. There's been an argument on an Eno group whether to include his views. Which is kinda weird; if you know more than nothing about him, you know where he stands. (If you don't, he's only been interviewed by one of the following Irish-Americans: Colbert, O'Reilly, Hannity)
      Oddly, politics came up on the group I'd least expect it from: Exotica. It's dedicated to 50s-60s music like Martin Denny. Not something you'd expect to be political ("Nixon's Not-Dead-Yet 1960!!"). The poster said said "The Politically Correct police come after Exotica!" or something. It was a link to an article asking "Are Some People Finding Tiki Bars Offensive?" I'm sure you're as upset about this as I am, what with all the tiki bars. Of course, any article with a Question? in the title is A) clickbait and B) always answered No, not really, this is clickbait--you clicking SUCK-AHH!
      I didn't respond to what seemed too obvious to repond to. Who is this PC Police? They're pretty slacky if that grabby orange taint of a hair mop is president! But rather, I said:

      I don't have the relevant citations at hand, but a couple of years ago a research group did a survey on political correctness. It was a big one, like 10,000 participants.
      It didn't matter if the participants were young or old, male or female, black or white, liberal or conservative. Every person said that there was "Too much political correctness in the USA! But I'M not politically correct!"
      The researchers said that the relevant takeaways from it were:
      How is there too much PC in America, when no one says they're politically correct?
      And:
      At no point in the survey did the researchers say what they meant by "politically correct," and at no point did any participants ask what it meant.
       Politically correct means: "It's PC if you're offended by what I say!" but never "when I'm offended by what YOU say about ME."
      Think about it for a second.
      But you probably won't. You're too PC to think it applies to you.
      Also, raise your hand if you're a Hipster! What, not one of you is saying they're Hipsters?--when EVERYONE SAYS THERE ARE HIPSTERS?

      This, of course, led to some Fox News guy screaming about PC police you fucking libtard snowflakes and blah blah blah, and you know what's fun about being awake at 3AM on Facebook? Getting to say shit in a post that you know will be nuked as soon as the admin wakes up and has coffee. I said something like (paraphrased, because the post got nuked) "Hey, do you need a trigger warning before you go to your safe place? Because--HAPPY HOLIDAYS! And as soon as you stop spasming on the floor, 'Nancy Reagan said that her husband was senile his second term'." The guy shut up, maybe because I was getting more upvotes, or because he melted like a Nazi in an Indiana Jones movie.
      Remember about a week ago, when Malformed Mango Potato who is Acting President said that "The radical left Democrat liberals want to rename Thanksgiving!" for like 4 solid minutes without once mentioning what they wanted to rename it? (I'd go with Thank-God-We're-Impeachesgiving, but I haven't gotten the email from Hillary's Server of Legend via Overlord George Soros) Here's a thing about PC from the head of the Catholic League that I should've posted when it hit: BE CAREFUL WHOM YOU OFFEND ON HALLOWEEN. It's by Bill Donovan, but not Wild Bill Donovan who fought Nazis, the one who's spent the last 2 decades getting mad at molested altar boys for being snitches. He complains--repeat, complains!--that we can't wear blackface or wear "Tranny Granny" costumes anymore. The money quote: "GH says it is offensive to dress as a Holocaust victim. RD objects to Anne Frank costumes." But the Holocaust was fucking hilarious! Those quoted magazines being the communist manifestoes of the modern age, Good Housekeeping (GH) and Reader’s Digest (RD). You either have no idea what those magazines are, or like me, remember them as something my grandparents subscribed to, or equally likely, say "What's a...magazine? Is it like a pasta, or that weasel that fights cobras?"
      You have to read that short article, but keep a spotter handy to make sure your jaw doesn't crush your feet. He thinks society's gone downhill because we can't make fun of Holocaust victims. And if you don't want to read it, he OF COURSE tells us what HE thinks should be banned after telling us that nothing should be, and ends with
      "Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that they are okay with those outfits. We would then have to ask if they would tolerate a blackface slutty nun with an afro, or a horny trans priest wearing a sombrero."
      Politically Correct means "How come THEY can say NIGGER and I can't?!" without ever asking yourself why you would ever want to say it. Hey MAGA, you want to be un-PC? Go to a Trump rally and scream "HE SAID HE'D LIKE TO FUCK HIS OWN DAUGHTER!" and gauge the reaction.

      Speaking of mythical creatures like a MAGA who questions the new reality he's being fed, Famous Mythical Creatures Of Every US State (Illustrated). Yes, the CT one I've heard of. MUST BE REAL THEN

      It's up to you whether you decide if this is worth 20 minutes of your time, but here's "Oh, hai Luke!": Tommy Wiseau finally gets his own Star Wars saga. Now here's a talentless hack dragging out his 15 minutes! When Rifftrax Live did "The Room," everyone laughed when the post-credits ad for "Tommy Wiseau Underwear" came on--which then turned to incredulous gasps when we realized Yes, he wants us to pay $15 for a pair of tighty-whities he slapped his name on. What's next, Tommy Wiseau Steaks or Vodka or University? What a demented and delusional fame whore!
      Wiseau's Cottage Cheese Ass 2024!!

12/13

       Better put your tinted goggles on, because I'm about to blind you with Science!
      I woke up at 1 AM. I said "I'll just lay here until I go back to sleep," which is a lie I tell myself. I'll get up and drink ice water, then go back to bed. Then, 20-30 minutes later, I'll get up again to pee, then get a drink of water. The cycle self-perpetuates. But after 2 hours and 3-4 pints of ice water later, an interesting effect occured. I suddenly, instantaneously, was covered head to toe in a cold sweat. I got the chills, shivering under my electric blanket in a 74 degree room.
       If you have become familiar with the concept of "Young's Syndrome," you have a rough idea of what ensued. (Puking. Puking ensued. I wonder how many of you who know what Young's Syndrome means stopped reading when I mentioned it. Or, should I say--brought it back up?! Ha ha!)
      So I took a drink of water because, eww, them vomits didn't taste super nice. Then, again, the stomach sent it back to the kitchen. At round 3, I thought "Maybe just not put anything in there until this stops."
      I finally got some shreds of sleep. I got up--because it was therapist day, and if I don't cancel 48 hours ahead, it's $50, because USA! NUMBER ONE! IN SUCKY INSURANCE!! I swallowed a mouthfull of water and OH GOD I'M RELEASING THE KRAKEN AGAIN
      The scientific method: Establish an hypothesis. Start with the most likely one. If your experiments don't prove a positive, move to the next likeliest hypothesis.
      Hypothesis One: I only puke after drinking water, is there a problem with my water? If so, why? I drink from a half-gallon pitcher that I keep in the freezer. It has a sixth-gallon of ice permanently frozen in it. I don't know how long it's been since it's melted. Has there been cross-contamination in the freezer? Experiment: Throw the contents of the pitcher away. Bleach the inside; wipe the glass I use, and pour some tap water into the glass.
      Drinks from glass: Results are inconclusive, recommend further OH GOD WHERE TOILET BLAARRGGHH
      Conclusion from first experiment: It's not the pitcher. Hypothesis Two: Possibly the contamination is from the glass. Try another glass, fill with tap water, chill, drink a single mouthfull.
      Results: Stomach has decided to stage a reboot of "The Exorcist".
      Conclusion: Not that glass. Or the next glass. Assumption: it's not the glasses. Hypothesis Three: It's the water. The fucking, fucking water itself. Theories: Based on the works of Louis Pasteur, the tap water got filthy nasty-ass like in one day. Then it would make everybody in the condo sick, and how did this happen, and how would people react to me knocking on their doors and asking "Do you drink tap water? Does it create a typhoon in your mouth? Why, no, I'm just curious and do not live here, no one can tell that this is a disguise." (twirls enormous handlebar mustache)
      Experiment: Get some tap water. Boil the tapwater. Boil the everliving malarkey outta that water! Until there's NO MALARKEY LEFT! So I filled a big spaghetti pot with water and boiled it. I mean, a rolling boil for 6 minutes. Fucking Godzilla ain't gonna live through that! I will leave this to cool, then take samples and drink them by mouth, because "drink by nose" totally never works.
       I poured it into the pitcher. First glass from metal spaghetti pot: Well, this tastes metallic. But after an hour, no rush to my stomach's elevator screaming "GOIN' UP!" I cautiously poured some of the top half's water into the cat's bowl. Cats have a much higher tolerance for nasty water. Did you know that they can drink salt water? They don't like to, but they can. They're from the desert, after all! (2) They also have a much higher awareness of "Oh, I ain't eating this!" than humans, who think "Eh. Scrape the green fuzzies off, this raw chicken will be fine." Observation: DJ sniffed the water, then drank it. He made an "Eww" face after a few big swallows, so I assume cats also don't like metallic tasting water. But there were no ill effects. I drank the next half of the spaghetti pot's boiled water. I thought "This tastes like spaghetti." It will take further research to determine why water boiled in a metal spaghetti pot tastes this way. Byron decided to try this new sample. Results: He almost drank the whole thing. Note: Byron loooves to eat noodles. Conclusion: The water can be boiled and be safe to drink, but...okay I don't want to do that until there's a fucking earthquake. One of those weird earthquakes, where the power and water's still on. Further research: Must examine likelihood of that happening.
      My Google result of that scenario was "hahaha stupid human! your meat = our fuel" and then the power going off.
      I get the water from the bathtub tap. ("Tap" is analogous to what you may call a "faucet," which it isn't, because those are outside. Taps are inside. This is analogous to you in the less advanced parts of our great nation calling soda, "pop," or sneakers, "tennis shoes," or your father "daddy uncle brother cousin")
      Is it the water? Or just water from the tub tap? Why's it not called a "shower tap"? I mean, it's like the...(1)see footnote. That makes sense. The plumbing hasn't been changed in that faucet in the 33 years I've lived here. What about the pipes? Maybe some gross little dudes decided to start living in there? Like Ghoulies who live your toilet and look like toilet puppets? They were everywhere in the 1980s! But the whole sink...(shakes head) sorry, almost flashed back on something there! Munchies or something else 80s~ But the whole sink was replaced recently--the sink...the sink...the Sinkcident--"A much warmer place my friend A... MUCH... WARMER... PLACE" (cops burst in, with Critters and Troll 2s)
      Oh! Sorry. Kinda drifted away there.
      So is the bathroom sink's water okay? Well, this would be the next experiment. Pour a glass of water from the sink, then drink it. This was preceded by a visit to Stop&Shop to buy 2 gallons of water. Distilled water, as that was all they had left. The regular water was cleared off the shelves, as the forecast called for the next day to have a blizzard of one to two inches. Byron liked it, despite its lack of pasta-ness, and gave it 2 thumbs up. (3) I myself completed the experiment: a half pint and then a full pint of bathroom sink water! No internal "INTRUDER ALERT! TO THE ESCAPE PODS!" The sink water is drinkable.
      There are still 2 factors to test. 1) Filling the pitcher with sink water and seeing what happens, and 2) Filling it with tub water. that would make it clear if Graboids from Tremors are in my tub faucet (or is it tap? I forget) and drinking that, and seeing if Moses comes to part my vomit...yeah, no thanks. Problem has been solved. It'll just take longer to fill the pitcher from the sink than the tub.

      I took me a while to figure out that this was fiction. It's verite style fooled me. And I'll bet that soon, the internet will decide that The Unforgetting Machine is a real thing that the government is covering up. It's been 15+ years since the Onion said that fourth graders were into Satanism because of Harry Potter, and that still gets quoted by evangelists.

      Thing I wished I'd thought of 2 weeks ago: My nephews wanting "Movember" to end so that they could shave their nasty itchy beards. Then why'd you grow them? You're in your late 20s, and you still fall for peer pressure? Didn't the Care Bears and Ninja Turtles warn you about that in the 80s?
      If it comes up at Xmas, I'm going to say "I can't wait for Head Lice-ember to end!" (furiously scratches scalp) "It's going viral! At least, with everyone in THIS house!"

      Joe Biden: "Some voters feel that I'm old and out of touch! Well, by crackey, I'll show them! I shall get the greatest of horseless carriages in the tri-county area, and emblazon unto it a slogan that shall show them how 'with it' I am! I shall speak to them my other slogan: 'JOE BIDEN! He's the Bee's Knees'!"
      "Wait, wait--no, too 'hep'. Maybe 'Fiddle-dee-dee, Rhett Butler!' No, no, maybe something from my birthday before the Civil War...How about 'Balderdash, I say thee NAY!' Close, but no cigar, which the kids vape today--Wait! 'Fie on thee, Shenanagins! A pox on the benighted lackapate, the strumpet-painted Trump! Trix--are for YOU KIDS TODAY!' Oh, Joe, you still got it! I may be Irish but I’m not stupid! And then, I'll say 'And also not an angry drunk!' And then, to show these shieks and flappers that I know a weasel from a watermelon, I shall say 'Now I will have an Irish 7-course meal!' whilst hoisting a potato and a 6 pack! Oh, Magoo, you've done it again!
      "I wonder if my zoot suit still fits."

      Footnotes:
      (1) I just wanted to see if you wanted to see footnotes.
      (2) What, you didn't notice that footnote 2 came before #1?
      (3) Byron, he has thumbs.
      (4) In my last post, I said that Reader's Digest was one of those "communist manifestoes." This is an obvious typo. "Communist manifestoes" are what you see when Karl Marx wears sandals at the beach.

12/20

       Remember that time I gave you that huge box of chocolates? You were so excited when you opened it up! The look on your face when you saw that each piece had a bite taken out of it! And then I grabbed that big carpenter ant and squished it and said "Damn, I sprayed for these before I left the box out all night!" I went to the hospital after you got food poisoning with a "Get Well" bouquet of flowers stolen from my neighbor's garden, and how was I to know what poison ivy looks like?
      That was the time that I finally found an online version of the classic and beloved ball-peen hammer to the face, Irwin Allen's The Swarm! And then said "Don't click on that it has malware."
      Well, this version on DailyMotion seems clean! Only a very few movies get my stamp of so-bad-it's-good approval. The ones that you can't riff because you'll miss the next unbelievably stupid part. Plan 9, of course. King Kong Lives, Voyage Into Space, Gymkata. It is nearly 3 fucking hours long, but where else can you see Richard Chamberlain's ass set off a nuke?
      And again, after watching the sadly bee-alarm-free nuclear power plant, you can read my ancient review of it, just to prove that I was not exaggerating.

      I decided to switch to Netflix Streaming, as the DVD version was getting very the suck. One thing I hate online: Autoplay! I hated it back when every early 2000s corporate website decided that Flash videos were what their site needed, back when it took 3 minutes to load one and you're in another window when it starts screeching at you.
      There's no way to stop them at the source. You can stop it from autoplaying the next episode of something, but the trailers just won't shut the hell up. Luckily, I came across Netflix Tweaked, an extension that stops that. Very luckily. I read about it in a post about the outrage users felt when Netflix began autoplaying "Don't Fuck With the Cats." This is a documentary about the search to find the monster who was posting videos of kittens being tortured to death. Apparently, there's no gore in the trailer (but plenty in the documentary), you just get to hear terrified meows and whimpers for offscreen murder. If I'd seen that, I would've cancelled my membership as soon as I got it. The autoplay for that trailer is gone, and for me, so is all the autoplay.

      If you want to be depressed, don't go to Netflix, read This is How a Society Dies: America and Britain are Textbook Examples of a New, Gruesome Phenomeon: Rich Nations Self-Destructing Into Poor Failed States. "Literally nobody on planet earth wants worse lives excepts us. We’re the only people on earth who thwart our own social progress, over and over again — and cheer about it."

      What is this malarkey?! The Swarm is in 3 parts, and there's a long list of autoplaying ads at the end of each! So...
      Part Two, beginning with Bradford Dillman's accent drift, and Michael Caine's insistence that it doesn't matter what we call the bees, just that we call them AFRICAAANS! How come the bees get to say it, but not me?! Also, when the diner owner runs into the freezer (as one does when bees are attacking), he locks it from the inside. Why does a freezer have this feature? What if the frozen hamburger patties try to escape?
      Part Three Which begins with Caine noticing that the "Bees aren't touching the poison pellets!" from 5,000 feet in a speeding helicopter. "They're brighter than I thought!' Henry Fonda replies "They always are!" And the doctor says to a pregnant woman, no shit, "You have a bee-autiful daughter!" SPOILER, even for me: I have watched this crap at least a dozen times, and I never caught this until now. Most of the carnage and bad acting in this movie comes from Paul the Wee, Eee, A Bee! Boy. HE DIES. I...don't know what to say. I guess I was just that invested in his character arc. Also, Caine, the most unlikable and incompetent "hero" ever, demands that Henry Fonda make an injectable version of his untested antidote RIGHT NOW, and...Fonda makes it in about 5 seconds. You see? This movie is a treasure trove of "Wait, WHAT?!" Not one word of dialog sounds like it came from a human mouth, just the screenwriter's butthole. The only drawback is its very, very weird insistence in the second half of calling the bees either "African bees" or, at the top of the lungs, "AFRICANS! KILL all the AFRICANS in Houston!" I'm surprised this isn't Trump's favorite movie--the hero is idolized by the movie, and he's a fucking idiot who does nothing but scream.

      Judging the tie-in Yule Log videos that most impact franchise canon

12/26

       Xmas Eve was the usual raucously loud affair. Part is the acoustics at sister Sue's house, part because it seems to be the day for most of the not-driving-home males to get drunk and yell. Not in argument. Everyone decides they have the most important and funny thing to say, so they just scream it at the same time, paying no heed as to whether anyone else is listening. (And they aren't)
      There was some female screaming as well. Niece Alexa came in waving her left hand. For some reason, everyone thought this meant she wanted people to look at her nail polish. Even I got that she wanted them to look at her left ring finger! She's engaged.
      The hors d'oeuvres were the main course, and...not very good. Want extra fiber with your shrimp? Leave the shell on! One was a "mini pot pie," which was a big chunk of dough with some carrots and peas in it. No one took more than one bite, not even out of politeness. There were some tenderloin sliders and desserts at the end that were good.
      There was some secret Santaing going on. I never saw anyone get so excited over shoe trees before. Cousin Ryan got a cooperative D&D style board game, Legacy of Dragonholt. I mentioned Space Cats Fight Fascism, and niece Cassie said she'd played it and loved it. I read the rules when it was still in its Kickstarter phase. They weren't complicated, but it seemed like there'd be a lot of strategy involved, so it'd be best if you had input from other players.
      Eventually, Mom, my 3 sisters and I all ended up in a side room to the living room, just listening to the uproar next door. The decibel level would be like 10 jets taking off at once, then go quiet, I guess just because everyone gasped for breath at the same time.

      The best I Can Haz Cheesburger memes of their first decade! 100-51, and 50-11, and the top ten. Kitties are Funny!!

      Ostensibly a review of a video game based on some light sci-fi novels, but mainly about the author's...questionable tastes, Companions of Xanth (Preceded by the Worrisome Case of Piers Anthony). I've never read a Xanth book, but I always just thought that they had bad puns, not...the other stuff.

      One gift that's always given is my Mom getting a calendar with photos of her various younglings. I jokingly complained about only one pet's birthday making it in there, so the others will be in the 2021 edition. I'd forgotten when DJ's birthday was (3/21, like DUH, I guess Vernal Equinox is too hard for me). I looked it up and came across this goofy thing I'd written 10 years ago, after the 1st Star Trek movie came out. Feel free to skip it as if it were a mini pot pie.

      SPOCK: Captain, we've been orbiting this planet--
       CAPTAIN BILL SPLUTNER: Well, obviously, if we weren't, we'd be crashing into it. SULU! KEEP ORBITING!
      SULU (with a sigh, points at controls): See the "Orbit" button? I put a brick on it.
      SPOCK: But we've been orbiting the same planet for three years.
      BILL: What? It's a good planet! Chekov! Perhaps Doctor Spock doesn't understand why we orbit this planet! Explain it to him, you're good with words, being Russia's greatest playwright and photon torpedo launcher 'n' stuff! Also try to say the word "vessel," I love when you do that.
      CHEKOV (rubbing eyes and sighing): It's the planet of cats that brew beer and have internet.
      BILL: SEE, Spock? And we've never violated the Prime Directive! Besides ordering their beer and their kittens, oh so CUTE are the kittens! Aren't you, Khanny boy? Whooza good boy, huh, whooza good boy?
      UHURA (brushing 3 kittens off her keyboard): Captain! Romulans are hailing us!
      BILL: ON SCREEN! Maybe they have some of their ale.
      ROMULAN: I WILL DESTROY YOUR PLANET!
       BILL: Well...okay. I wasn't using Earth anyway.
      ROMULAN: ...What? Ummm...THIS PLANET! It's here, might as well blow it up!
      BILL: BUT THERE ARE KITTENS!
      ROMULAN: In my bitter vengeance, I care not for your k--
      BILL: THE BEER IS QUITE GOOD!
      ROMULAN: Really? I mean--I WILL DESTROY THIS PLANET! Unless--you give me--SPOCK!
      BILL: "Spock"? Who is this Spock you speak of? I don't know any Spock! Oh, wait--there he is, hiding under the Science Officer console.
      SPOCK (quietly): May you die soon and pustulate.
      ROMULAN: Beam him over! NOW! Or I will--
      BILL: Blow up my planet, Christ, heard you the first ten times. Hey, do you also want some kittens? We started with only 4, but now there's more kittens than there are crewmembers. Apparently SOMEone doesn't know how to fix them.
      BONES: Dammit, Bill, I'm a doctor, not Bob Barker!
      BILL: Actually, you're not a doctor, you just suck. So, mind if we throw a few kittens in? Like, two or three hundred?
      ROMULAN: Could you beam them directly to our kitchen? So that we may feed on them--I mean--FEED--THEM?
      BILL: Umm, yeah, right. How about...we beam a few of our FunSize Snack kittens right to your bridge?
      ROMULAN: Dude! You're doing a bro a solid. (another Romulan whispers in his pointy ear) Oh, right. Also beam over SPOCK!
      BILL: Sure, right away! Hey, Spock--Spock?
      SPOCK: I am not Spock.
      BILL: Wow. Nice goatee.
      SPOCK: I am EVIL SPOCK! If you send me over, you will only make everything MORE EVILER!
      BILL: Did you draw that goatee with a Sharpie?
      SPOCK: This is the future! There are no Sharpies!
      BILL: But the film established that there is still a Nokia.
      SPOCK (drinking a Pepsi and eating Fritos): I hadn't noticed.
      ROMULAN: Look, can you get a move on? I've got to destroy a lot of planets today!
      BILL (getting out of the captain's chair to stand dramatically): Spock, I have to beam you aboard Mr "I went drunk to the tattoo place" Romulan's ship. Go to, ahh, Loading Bay 5.
      SPOCK: The one with all the--
      BILL: YES. The one with all the kittens. Is that the one where they've been covered in BBQ sauce?
      SPOCK (raises eyebrow): Captain, I believe that that's the one where they've been seasoned to perfection. Teryaki kittens, honey-basted kittens, kittens vindaloo--
      ROMULAN: BEAM THEM UP! RIGHT TO MY BRIDGE! NOW! ALSO SPOCK I HATE THAT GUY AND WANT HIM TO WATCH ME EAT!!
      BILL: Spock, go to Loading Bay 5 and beam it all aboard. Let me know when you're ready.
      SPOCK (ducks under console again) I'm in Loading Bay 5. I'm ready, Captain--I am ready to meet my fate.
      ROMULAN: And I'M ready to FATE my EAT! Oh, I so got the alien munchies, I can't wait! I may even eat Spock! With a SPORK, for ironic effect!
      BILL: Scotty, beam the contents of Loading Bay 5 to the Romulan's bridge.
      (transporter effect) WHUMP!!
      SCOTTY: Cap'n, I dinna think you'd ever empty Loading Bay 5! Seriously, why dinnna ya dump three years worth of used cat litter until now?
      (ROMULAN screams, gets doodies in his face, Romulan ship explodes)
      BILL: Just lazy, I guess. Mr Sulu?
      SULU: Yes, Captain?
      BILL: Orbit another three years!
      (everyone groans)
      BILL: Good boy, Khanny! (removes kitten from the captain's chair and sits dramatically back down)
      splat
      BILL (jumps up with kitten vomit on the seat of his pants): KHAAAAAAN!!!!

1/4/20

      Happy New Oh God Why's There Always Another Year?!

       Thing I hate about election years: Every 4 years I'm expected to give a shit about what some hick redneck morons in Iowa and New Hampshire think. Face it, the last time anyone heard about New Hampshire was when some fucking rocks fell down. And if you don't know what I'm referring to--YEAH, EXACTLY

      I get Netflix streaming now, I think I said that, so now I've said it twice.
      I'm not a binger. I liked Disenchantment, the Lord of the Rings via the Simpsons show. But I also got sick of watching it several times a day. The first season was great, but in the second I said "Oh god, the B-plot." This was a thing from the Simpsons. A subplot that was actually important! That turned into something they had to do every episode. I guess. I stopped watching about 20 years ago.
      I did enjoy the series, just not in huge chunks. I've been watching the new MST3Ks, which I'm sure is an amazing thing for you to hear. Sadly, 2 seasons is all it gets. How expensive was it to produce a show that revels in how cheap it is? Did you know that Netflix has never once turned a profit? It makes more money every year, sure. But if your income is $100K and you get a raise to $200K but you keep spending $300K a year...I don't understand how Hollywood works. That'd bankrupt any of us in a year.
      One of the ones from last season I rewatched--and rewatching is the point, when you can ignore the plot of whatever shit movie they're watching and focus on the jokes--had the least exciting title of all of ever, Carnival Magic. I think it beats out "The History of Miracle Whip." Maybe that had the story "The reason for Miracle Whip's tang is that we never cleaned out the mixers after that guy with a giraffe fell in." To be a complete sexist asshole right now, I thought of one of the leads "For a woman in her early 50s, she's still got it! I'll bet 30 years ago that she was a smokin' babe! Speaking of smoking, given the lines on her face, I bet she goes through at least 2 packs of Newport Lights a day."
      I'd forgotten about that. Up until the late 80s, women would smoke as an appetite supressant and keep their girlish figures. Even though smokers don't age well at all. Mime smoking a cig. Notice how your skin pulls at the corners of your eyes and mouth? Now imagine doing that hundreds of times a day for decades.
      At the end crdits, I saw her name and decided to look her up. Her only major credit was in "Dracula vs Frankenstein," which Rotten Tomatoes gave 0%. And she was 15 years younger than I thought she was. 30 years ago, she was 8! At the midpoint between "babe" and "a baby." She never even made it to her 50s. She died 10 years after the movie. The reason wasn't listed, but "of lung cancer" would be my guess.
      I came across "Love, Death & Robots" on Netflix. I watched it, mainly because I knew that John Scalzi was involved. When I was in Hospital Jail, with nothing to do but pace the halls and watch squirrels wrestle coffee cups, my librarian Mom brought me 2 of his books. I really just wanted to re-read "Old Man's War," which I hadn't read since he serilaized it on his webpage. (Coincidentally, he wrote about it today. TBH, I liked him more when he was in his "struggling artist" days than now as "award-winning millionaire." That is not a dig against him at all. 30 years ago at Sam Goody, some coworkers were mad that Bruce Springsteen made an album about being a world-famous millionaire. They said "He should stick to his roots!" I said, "But then he'd just be posing as a guy he isn't anymore." I admit that I just skip when he posts all the free books he gets weekly or talks about his latest camera, but he's not the guy who wrote Being Poor. I mean, he still is in his soul, and if you don't tear up at that article--you vote Republican I bet)
      She bought me its sequel, "The Ghost Brigades." I hate when my Mom buys me stuff. She needs food! I actually disliked the first half of the book. Old Man's War had a lot of Scalzi's signature humor, this thing was relentlessly grim. I would've stopped reading at the halfway point if I had something else to do. (I didn't, I was in the nuthouse) The main character--I'm not going to call him the "hero"--murders a baby. Okay, a literally screaming giant maggot, but it was still a sentient being. Reducing the "enemy" to inhuman faceless targets is the first thing every military dictatorship does. But...things changed in the second half. Everything in the brutal first half was set-up. In the end, thumbs up.
      I asked Mom again to borrow Old Man's War, as now I really wanted to remember it. Instead...gol DANG it, Mom! She bought "Fuzzy Nation". Remember how you'd do that 5 page paper back in school? Double-spaced with random sentences just to pad it out? This book was 20 fucking dollars and printed that way. It was a good book, but jesus. For unemployed me, that's a week's worth of food! Still a bit mad about her doing that. Fuzzy Nation was the exact opposite of Ghost Brigades. Scalzi being funny and breezy and he just has a way with likable characters (who aren't killing babies). SPOILER: No, the main character does not get back together with his beautiful ex. It was mainly a courtroom comedy (apparently Scalzi was once a minor cog in the legal machine). Oh, if only one of my LTRotDs was a lawyer, she might enjoy this! I need to talk to Librarian Mom to see if I can donate these. I'm unlikely to reread them, but if all they have is his oldest book, maybe someone else would like to read them? Like I did?
      Any rate, Love Death & Robots was...okay, I guess? Too many looked like video game cutscenes. They also seemed to require "twist endings." When every ending is a twist, it's no longer a twist. (cf: M. Night Shyamalan. His "twists" after his first movie are where every other movie would have its 2nd-act climax. Ever see the unjustly forgotten movie "Moon"? You can see exactly where Shyamalan would've stopped it. Moon goes on for another perfect half hour)
      Outside of "Zima Blue," Scalzi's little bits are the highlights. I mean, the one about sentient yogurt is like something lame enough that I could've written it. "3 Robots" was funny, but also has that "written as a blog post" feel. Netflix shows it first, although Wikipedia says it originally was aired later. I would've liked it later, because it would've worked as a parody of the show's insistence on twist endings. You won't guess this one's twist, because...! It's just that left field.
      The best and nearly only thing you should watch is "Alternate Histories." It's really funny, because it involves one of my favorite funny things that make me laugh: dead Nazis!! He takes the old trope of "time traveller kills Hitler" to its logical extreme (maybe inspired by this Percival Dunwoody comic?) Hitler gets killed. Lots of times. In increasingly "Wait, WHAT?!" ways. I think it's the only animation that really serves the story. Weird, stylized, exactly as long as it should be, so fucking funny, Adolph walks like he's from the Reichsministry von albernen Spaziergängen (German for Silly Walks).

      Somebody put the poster for this movie on FaceBook, so I looked for the YouTube. It's based on the "Archy and Mehitabel" stories of long ago.

      

      I posted the link to the movie, and--SORRY! This is SatAM animation so bad that...Jesus, this is bad. Smurfs would've shaken their heads at it.
      Gets points for being a kids' movie that begins with a suicide. But don't worry! He turns instantly into a cockroach. Even Kafka's holding hands over his little childrens' eyes.
      I'm currently 12 minutes into 124 minutes, and I don't think even a bad movie fan like me can get through this. 20 minute mark: A little song about death, and a moth's suicide flying into the flame of a cigarette lighter. OK, it got my attention, but...pretty sure this is the point where every 1970 audience dragged their sobbing kids out of the theater.
       "It's a kids' movie, they said. They'll love it, they said."

      

1/18

      Brilliant animated gifs.

      A Conversation With The Guy Who Took Mushrooms And Saw CATS

      Animals: A Thorough Review Complete With Effective Rating System

      

1/25

       I was returning a sweater my mother gave me at Macy's. One clerk was helping someone else, another appeared just as the phone rang. It was from another department.
      "...She broke the bottle? She'll have to buy a new one ...We're not responsible for something a customer breaks at home. ...Well, you can check the system for 'empty bottle' but I'm sure it won't be in there...Let me take care of this one customer and I'll be over."
      From what I followed from half a conversation, the customer had dropped a bottle of perfume and it broke. But she somehow saved the perfume (in what, a Ziploc?) and wanted a new bottle to pour it into. I've had customers who broke a bottle of booze at home (gee, I wonder how that happened), and wanted a new bottle. That's...not how that works.
      She finished me up quickly. I almost left the plastic bag, but she said "Are you sure you don't want this? They're 10 cents now!" I took it and said "Maybe I can sell it in the mall for a nickel." She laughed and left, and I said "Good luck with the perfume lady!"
      The Macy's men department was in a seperate store. I was going to get $20 worth of underwear, as that was all I needed. I avoided the fashion labels like Kline and Jordache until I found that premium brands were all they had. I picked up one, and it was $34.50. For 3 pairs! Then I noticed that all the packages had security tags on them, the kind normally attached to things like smart phones. WTF?
      I looked online, and there basically is nothing you can buy there for $20. I'll just give the card to my mother, but I know she'll refuse to take it.

      Last Monday was MLK Day. Of course, a pro-gun rally was held in Virginia, because nothing says Classy like praising guns on a day memorialising a black man killed by one. They were protesting the Gummint Takin' My Penis Away, as the newly-elected Democratic majority was going to require background checks and limit people to one handgun a month. THE CONSTITUTION IS ON FIRE!! What would the Founding Fathers say?! Not some crap about "well-regulated militias" I bet!!
      Check out this mighty warrior. The steely-eyed resolve, the iron will, the resolute determination as he stares down some lamestream media photographer, silently daring him "From my cold, dead hands!"

      

      Hey, it's Rick Moranis' cousin, Prick Moronic! "Honey I shot the kids!"

      Speaking of background checks (what shit do these gun nuts have in their pasts that they're so afraid of them?), I applied to Shop-Rite because of my noted gluttony for punishment. Maybe it'll turn out to be better than Stop&Shop, because what couldn't? I was asked "Where do you see yourself in a few years?' I said "I got my Social Security statement yesterday, so I'm going to work for another 7 years and retire!" which didn't bother him. I did have to agree to a background check, because a guy putting cans on a shelf is more of a danger than a neo-Nazi with an AR-15 and a bump stock. I didn't think anything about it until I left the interview. If that check shows my job history...I didn't list Stop&Shop. So, lying on my resume. I don't expect a call back.

      I don't follow Twitter, except for one that I only visit as a website. It was down. I shrugged--it's not like this site runs flawlessly--and the very next thing I saw was Twitter Borked Its Own Platform Trying to Fix Its Nazi Ad-Targeting Problem. They just flat-out banned any account that said certain keywords, one of them being "Nazi". That site I follow is basically "Today in World War Two History." A subject hard to discuss without saying "Nazi" every so often.
      So, if you tweeted something about the Nazis at the MLK rally, Twitter would just cover it up? When the fuhrer of twitter appeared before Congress, he testified that they really couldn't do anything about Nazis using their service. Off the record, an executive of theirs said "If we banned retweeting white supremacist tweets, every single Republican in Congress would be banned." So Our Favorite President Ever could start WWIII on the fucking toilet, but that's okay.

      I'm telling people I'm from New Jersey now.

1/30

       Back when It Became Necessary To Invade Iraq For "Reasons", I received an opportunity to get surveys from Harris Polls. The first was entirely about Dumbya's upcoming Wild Ride. I made it clear where I stood. And they sent me polls every day, but never again one about politics. Did they think "This guy's a super liberal Democrat; we can guess how he'll answer" and stop? They didn't stop sending me surveys. I still get them today. Did they also say "This other guy's a crypto-fascist warmongering Republican" and cut him off? Or is this why polls always seem to lean conservative?
      So last week I decided to sign up for You.Gov. Not all of it is politics (see following example). But they give you points for filling them out, and I'm quickly closing on the least of them, a $15 Amazon card. Not bad for less than 10 surveys. (If you ever get asked to join J.D. Power & Assoc, don't. They'll have you spend 20+ minutes filling out a survey, and just as you're clearly near the end, they'll say "You don't qualify" and shut you down. Did you know that those brands that say "Approved by J.D. Power" paid for the approval?)
      Today I got turned down for some survey, but was offered another. It was about music. It asked what artists I liked, and I decided to just list ones on my iTunes that I really like. I was expecting a few pages of current pop groups and some oldies and be done.
       Here are some that turned up in the first 100 or so listed: Andy Partridge, Shonen Knife, Ween, Steve Reich, Carl Orff, Petula Clark, Jello Biafra, Pink Floyd (and Syd Barret), 13th Floor Elevators, Wild Man Fischer, J.S. Bach, Anonymous 4, Hawkwind, Procul Harem, PiL, Bonzo Dog Band, and I'll stop here because reading someone's unordered list gets boring. There were 8 choices per page, with repeats, but I think I must've gone through 2,500 pages worth. It became addictive--every other page would have some crazily obscure group I liked. It took forever for them to get to Bowie and Eno, and maybe 1,600 to get to the Rolling Stones. The Beatles never turned up.
      Even the ones I didn't vote for were a trip down memory tin pan alley. There's Nana Mouskouri and Boxcar Willie, but no Slim Whitman? And people known for one song from one album (The Singing Nun, Chumbawumba, Sir Douglas Qunitet--I'm surprised the Ballad of the Green Berets guy didn't turn up). It rekindled that classic 1990s question: Which would you want to be, Better than Ezra or Less Than Jake? What if Ezra's an asshole? What if he's Trump, and Jake's Obama?
      The much shorter 2nd half--it was me that made the 1st half so long--was about print newspapers and magazines. I'm sure the results make Henry Booth Luce sad in Hell. Then it randomly asked what I thought was going to happen on Groundhog Day. "Radio plays 'I GotYou Babe'" was not an option. There was a "no opinion" choice, but that should always be phrased as "no opinion / who gives a fuck?" I chose "The weather will be warmer" because that's a pretty safe bet today, and "Groundhog bursts into flames" wasn't listed.

      In related news, someone at the National Weather Service screwed up and my current weather conditions were listed as "SMOKE" with a photo of a California wildfire. That's...a graphic they use now.

      "Vanity Fair special correspondent Gabriel Sherman, who was attending the Globes for his show, The Loudest Voice, relayed a story that sums up the Trump presidency and the mess we’re currently living in. Standing near the bar, Sherman ran into Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, and the two started chatting. Sherman asked Luntz when he last saw the President. “Last week, at the White House Christmas party,” Luntz said. Sherman asked what the two men talked about, to which Luntz replied that he had asked Trump what his middle initial “J” stands for. “Genius,” Trump responded."
      Anyone else, I'd say that was a clever bit of self-deprecating humor. But Our Favorite President (Self-Described) has none of those qualities.

       Listen to these 88 seconds before you decide if you want to read the following (and long) interview:

      

      "Jump Time is the time of what is sometimes called in evolutionary language punctuated equilibrium. Meaning that the equilibrium, the same old same old, suddenly shifts over a fairly short period of time. In evolutionary theory it has to do with the fact that if you look at a fossil record, and you see for hundreds or even thousands of years the fossil looks pretty much the same, age after age, era after era, year after year. And then suddenly, within a really relatively short period of time by evolutionary ages, it jumps- it becomes something rather unique compared to what it was. And now I believe that historical cycles of the human species also have these jump times. A huge jump time would be, for example, ancient Egypt. How does it happen that over a period of just a really rather short time, several hundred years, an aboriginal swamp people not only drain the swamps, create a magnificent agriculture, create hieroglyphics, create a theology, a philosophy, a building program- the pyramids and then the Sphinx among other things, if in fact they were built about that time. They create a high civilization in a very short period of time- that would be a jump. What happened in Hellenic Greece, coming out of a relative dark ages and this extraordinary civilization happening so very, very rapidly. What happened with the Renaissance out of the Dark Ages. These are jump times. What is happening now with the convergence of all the cultures, the histories, the ways of being, the theologies, of the whole world meeting and matching, sometimes in anger, sometimes in love, this is a jump time."

      Also, I have a week left before CuteFTP's free trial runs out, and I'm not paying $60 for that. Anyone have any recommendations for a free FTP client?

2/10

      I'm back, only through the grace of Gourd and the 60 fucking bucks I paid Cute.FTP. I downloaded about a dozen free FTP clients, but almost all were "free" (for as little as 15 days) or just didn't work. So there goes half my first paycheck...
      Oh, yeah, ShopRite hired me. I guess the background check missed that I once shot a man in Reno Stop&Shop just to watch him die. (He was Marty the robot and did that asshole ask for it) My orientation was scheduled for 730 AthefuckingM. Not 9? Or any other time? I began worrying that SR might be like S&S and lie to me about everything (that was why I quit), so I got a peaceful 90 minutes of sleep. I was told to go to customer service when I got there. Two other new hires were standing there. Standing because customer service wasn't open yet. I asked where the training was--to the Frito-Lay guy, which embarassed me, but he asked an employee and we went to a totally different part of the store.
      There were 10 others in the class, all going to the new store as I was. I think I picked out already the 2 who won't make it. They sounded like they had never been in retail before, and were older than me, and complained a lot. One guy wouldn't stop about the dress code. "I was TOLD I'd get a black polo!" HR lady: "Maybe she thought you were night crew. Only they get those." He would not shut up about having to wear a tie. Me, I didn't want a tie, not having worn one since Sam Goody over 25 years ago, but since I was hired for frozen foods, I consider it a free scarf. I bet both of them will be gone by grand opening. At Lechmere, there'd been a wave of layoffs in insurance and aerospace. 35 people from there were hired. None of them lasted more than 6 weeks. Yeah, maybe all those times you got mad at a retail worker, you were the one in the wrong. Now, people are treating you like you treated them.
      It was supposed to be 1 day of orientation followed by 2 days of computer training, but I think everyone was done by the second day. And I was scheduled for computer training at noon--exactly as I'd asked. S&S didn't care when you wanted to work; they'd schedule you for whenever, so I don't even know why that was on the application. I completed all my computer training in 5 hours, but that was because one module kept crashing. The frozen clerk one. Every module seemed to have been made by a separate programmer, although one that worked for everyone was 20 minutes about the hazardous waste handling vendor WHY I NEED KNOW THIS. New from Troma Films: The Toxic Avenger Stocks Your Lean Cuisine!
      My schedule was 1230 to 9. I asked my manager if that was a normal PT schedule, and he said "Yes," then paused and said "Why?" I said "Because it's perfect!" and he was happy.
      And as far as I can tell, everyone's happy there. My training at Shop&Crap was "Go put this away" period. I was actually trained that first day on the floor. S&S took 5 days to tell me how to read the shelf tags. For those who've never seen one of their receipts, it's random gibberish in a code that even Alan Turing couldn't break. I was given a loaded u-boat (yes, stores name those big, vaguely-shaped-like-a-U carts after Nazi subs, go fig) of store brand veggies. The manager was quite happy how quickly I put them away.
      Luckily, this was a 4 hour day meant for computer training. I haven't worked in 18 months, and after 2 hours my back was killing me. Muscles that hadn't been used in a long time. I had the next day off, and could barely move. The 3rd day I was there for 8.5 hours (with an hour's breaktime in there), so I still ached but made it. The full-timer working with me had to leave sick, so I was literally alone on only my second day. And trying to help people find things all over the store. I had a store map, which didn't cover everything, although I did use it to find spices (same aisle as trash bags) and shoe polish (same aisle as baby food, please don't confuse the 2. "Kiwi" is the brand, not the ingredient). I needed help to find hot dogs, because they were in the middle of...dairy? A loud and crabby woman wanted me to find them, but I gave up and asked a coworker. He said where, and she yelled "I couldn't understand a WORD he said!" Well, I did, and his English was perfect, just with a Hindi accent. He must've heard--how could he not, she was like 10 feet away. He ran up to show us. She still was barking something at me when another customer asked me a question. I hope Bigot Bitch noticed that I dumped her for a black woman.
      So far, it's great! But that's what I thought about S&S for the first 4 weeks (or 2, if you only go by when I was on the floor). Looks like I'll get my schedule as I wanted it, and as was promised never be a cashier, which was the real deal-killing lie from S&S.
      Funny that I've always hated the cold, but I live in CT and spent 20 years in a beer cooler. Now I'm in a fridge that's 20 degrees F. Below zero...

      Bought some catnip for the Boys. DJ got some, and I laid a pile down for Byron. But he refused to come off the kitchen counter. Weird, as his sense of smell is amazing, an adaptation from being deaf. So I gave him some up there. DJ got both piles on the floor. Toemaster B just laid down, stared into space and TASTED the COLORS, man! Psychedelic!! DJ went bonkers. The next morning he refused breakfast, just lying on his armchair inert. He got better after more sleep, but I'm pretty sure he had a catnip hangover.
      The saga of the cat who got extremely stoned, and not off of catnip.

      Gone & Forgotten is finally back! One of my favorite sites about old comics, it's both funny and respectful of the creators. Atomic Man, PHUTT!

      Happy 10th anniversary to Undercover Boss, the most reprehensible propaganda on TV

      Oh, right, forgot. Remember that $364 I "owed" the suicide hotline, that I was sure was some scam? They called in a collection agency. If it's a scam, it's one damn thorough one. I called the original filers, and found out (eventually) that it wasn't the hotline, but the hospital. It was money not covered by the ER visit. If they'd told me that up front, I would've paid it right away. So I paid it by Discover, as I wanted to be able to track it and dispute it if I needed. The nasty letters continued, as did a cranky phone call from the collection agency. It didn't show up on my Discover account, so I sent it again. It still didn't show, so I called the medical place back. "Oh, you show no balance in your account. You're all paid up." Huh? I called Discover to see if it was on my account on a place I couldn't see, but nope. All he could tell me was "These medical bills can take a while to process. My mother just had one that took 6 months to resolve." Umm...okay? The next day I got another letter from the creditors. I called them, inflamed with anger, but noticed that their hours were on weekdays Pacific Time, so I hung up and waited until Monday.
      Not sure why their hours were listed that way, as when I called I think it was Indian Ocean Time. Her English was perfect but her accent was heavy, so good thing I didn't ask about hot dogs! Yep, the balance was zero, still with no sign then or a month-plus later of it ever getting paid. My FICO credit score took a 25 point hit, knocking it all the way down from "Exceptional" to "Very Good". The following month, it bounced up 28 points, so I really can't say anything except you know you're old when your "FICO score" is a thing you talk about on your "blog". I guess Medicare suddenly covered it? Moral: Don't pay anything that looks fishy, it may just go away. May my credit score live Exceptionally Ever After, The End.

2/23

      Sorry. Even with a new job, there's not much to write about. The job still seems great. Nice people who are helpful and clearly like what they're doing. I'm in the new store, prepping for the grand opening by stocking shelves and setting planograms. Generally in my department, Frozen, but when there's nothing to do there, I go help out elsewhere. Stocking HABA (health and beauty aids), and setting up auto and BUG. Pest control, but that's all it said on the folder.
      A coworker told me I'd been scheduled for 830 AM to 5, and that's a thing I quit S&S over. But it was fixed instantly! (I think--I'll find out when I try to punch in tomorrow if it got updated in the system)

      Other than that...had lunch with my mother, had lunch with Jessica for the first time in 18 months (though I saw her when she heroically saved my cats from Pet Jail during the Sinkcident), had a long phone talk for the first time in 5 years with Kevin down in Texas. He's doing well, although currently unemployed, via a "RIF" (reduction in force) at Oracle. Right after a record 4th quarter, they randomly laid off 2,000 people. I joked if the CEO needed a new yacht, and Kev said "A coworker said before it was announced that the CEO 'doesn't care about us, just his yachts'." He's not worried yet, as it's been only a month or so. (I was willfully unemployed for 2 years 3 months) His wife Meg's dog training business has expanded enough that she had to hire someone to help her. He's trying to get a job in one part of his city, as his last one had a round-trip commute of 2.5 hours. My current one is 10 minutes, which can be 5 if I hit the lights right, as it's also 2.5...miles.

      My first paycheck almost entirely went to frivolities, although it was only for 14.5 hours, so not a huge expenditure. $60 so that you can read this for CuteFTP, and okay this is a lot of money, but $90 for 3 CDs. The soundtrack to Jonny Quest, which is a combo of exotica, 50s & 60s monster movie music, and Hanna-Barbera goofiness. Another for the near-instant reissue of Clowns in the Sky, the best of the songs from the classic MST3K eps. First track: "My Creepy Girl." And 30 damn dollars for Dark Adapted Eye by Danielle Dax, which I had to eBay to get the correct version of the album (there's 3 of them with different tracks). This is only because SOMEbody pee'd on my original, rendering it 50% unplayable. The deed was done by someone in the household with thumbs, but not by me.

      The 50 Most Drug-Addled Albums in Music History. I only own 5 of them.

      Long but interesting and weird, 'I Don't Know Whether to Kiss You or Spank You': A Half Century of Fear of an Unspanked Woman. You know that the big objection to "Women's Lib" in the 60s and 70s came from the working women of World War II not all wanting to back to being docile punching bags after it ended. And Hollywood was fine with beating them into their "rightful" places.

      VERY long, and also the most useless thing I've ever posted: The Alphabetical List of Don Martin from MAD's sound effects. But now, at last, you know that "DINGALINGA DINGALINGA" is the sound you hear when it's a "Cannibal Dressed as Santa Ringing a Bell for Donations."

3/5

      Just 2 days until grand opening! I was expecting frayed nerves and angry outbursts as the deadline neared, but everyone seems pretty zen. Some shelves might be empty, due to the distributors not sending everything on time, but that's the biggest concern. "Frayed nerves and angry outbursts" was basically every day at S&S, over nothing. Different corporate cultures.
      I had one last check before direct deposit kicked in (does it take that long, or do they just wait to see if you last 3 weeks?). I went to another store to get it. 130 Tuesday afternoon, how busy could it be? It was packed. I spent 10 minutes at customer service, as there was only one person staffing. The second I got to the counter: 2 more. I went to S&S, as that's where my bank is, to deposit it. It ripped as I opened it, right across the dollar amount. The ATM couldn't read it, so back in another line. That also took almost 10 minutes. Ahead of me was a guy who was having some argument with the teller. He looked like he was depositing his last paycheck from his job with the Manson Family. His hair was brushed last in 1969 by Squeaky Fromme. They had a sale on something Shop-Rite doesn't carry, and I discovered that in 2 years I'd completely forgotten where the frozen food was. I left when I glimpsed a former coworker, who looked as she did when I worked there. Resting "Oh God Just Kill Me" face.
      Oh...and S&S was deserted.
      No one's more excited to shop right than my mother. She's 5 minutes from her S&S, but they ruined her experience there. Did I mention that 18 months after the remodel, which cost the store I was in $3million, they remodded the remod back to what it was? And they still have Marty the Grocery Dalek? I expect that they will lose some business.

      Headline seen: "Sports Not Yet Affected By Coronavirus Scare In Connecticut" OH FUCK GOD THANK YOU. Gotta love the President who knows nothing about Science passing the buck to the pasty-faced closeted robot who thinks Science isn't even real! Pence's first act was to assemble a bunch of rich old white guys and pray the COVID-19 away! (Not a joke) If he and Trump get it, I will certainly pray for them! I will also thought at them. They will be fine. It only kills 3.4% of the people who get it, and Trump is alive with only 3.4% of a brain.

      "Too Cold For Me": Illustrated National Parks In America Based On Their Worst Review

      Tiny Cat Has A Mark On His Face That Resembles Another Tiny Cat

      Guaranteed your state has a unique and effin’ weird tradition that they’re proud of My state's is pretty lame, because CT.

3/9

      I'm not sure how many Grand Openings I've been through. I think 7, if you count "Grand Re-Openings". It's 8 now.
      We were instructed to park in "the unused part left of Wing Stop". I ended up in pretty much the last part left, so unused that spaces were taken up by small bulldozers and a pile of rock salt.
      First customer question: "Do you sell N95 masks?" No. "Where's your hand sanitizer?" Me: "I can show you where it was last night..." And I didn't even have to look at the shelf tags, it was in that giant hole. A coworker said "A guy called Shop From Home the second we opened. He bought 60 bottles". I said "Those are all on eBay now." We also ran out of Lysol handwipes, and JUST USE SOAP AND HOT WATER YOU FLAMING HOT CHEETO BABOONS. That we have plenty of! Here's the one "Infused with Cannabis Oil" so any encounter you have with the police will get more interesting!
      We did still have toilet paper, unlike some states. Hoarders, you know that COVID-19 doesn't make you go poopies, right? And that paper towels work better as toilet paper than TP works as paper towels? Buy paper towels, you 12 Monkeys cosplayers!
      I was told to spend the last 2 hours of my shift "blocking," whch is facing out and organizing the shelves. The store looked like a tornado went through it, so I only made it halfway. The biggest slowdown is finding the stuff people just randomly throw down that they don't want. When I was training in an open store, I returned some fresh sushi (but now frozen solid) I found to its correct department. The guy there said "Didn't you bring us sushi like 2 hours ago?!" I said "Yeah, it's trending. It's going viral. Take the Shop Rite sushi challenge!"
      Of course, you do this in every store. Once upon a time, I had a terrible work history. I finally said "I'm going to keep my next job as long as I can, even if it's the worst job ever!" And I succeeded! In getting the worst job ever. At Kay-Bee / KB Toys. Imagine cleaning up after a store full of screaming greedy children. Every year I'd hear parents say "Just throw it anywhere! They obviously keep this place a pigsty!" Two hours before closing. On Christmas Eve. Even in the off-season, I'd hear parents say to their kids "Why are you putting it back where you found it?! They PAY people to do that!" These would always be the people 10 minutes later screaming at the register "But Toys R Us has this for 50 cents cheaper 2 hours away!" Well, maybe if we weren't paying our workers to be your brats' fucking trash collectors...
      You know where that store was? In the same plaza that I work at now! You know exactly where it was? Aisle 14, Frozen! Yes, I work in the same space as I did in 1986. KB / Kay-Bee did move a few stores down before collapsing, to another spot in the same plaza. You know where? Our current public toilets. Apropos I think.
      They may be panicking and making poor choices, but at least people here are aware that COVID-19 (and here's a thing that was ruined to me online, so I'll ruin it for you--It has the same beat as "Come On Eileen." Also, don't come on Eileen, she's out of Lysol wipes) is real and not a hoax. Our Favorite President (Self-Described) just said that last year, 37,000 Americans died of the flu, and the stock market was fine! That pretty much sums up how he thinks. "The fine people in Germany--not today's very bad German people of Angela Merkel, who is like only a 2--killed 6 million humans! Did the world end?! The market was great, so big but less than under Trump!"
      He had a presser last week where he demanded "The vaccine will be in 2 weeks, right?" Then a scientist would say "No, maybe in 18 months." Trump just went around the room, throwing the same question at other experts, getting madder each time he got the same answer. He went through I think 5.
      He wanted them to lie."Yes, Mr Sir! In 2 weeks!" Because he doesn't care about lives. He cares about the stock market. He needs to brag about his greatest yuge economy of Ever.
      Will his dimwit cultists ever figure out that he doesn't care about them? At all?
      (spoiler: Nope)

      In depth look at one of the first chill out albums, The KLF's Chill Out. Good name for it! Made for Ravers burnt out from the gallon of Molly they'd been banging around on for 2 days, and by one the stranger groups ever to exist.

      

      

3/16

      I'm not sure how many Grand Openings I've been through. Although I'm pretty sure this is the first that coincided with a global pandemic.
      Italy has closed every store except grocery and pharmacies.
      I work in grocery store with a pharmacy.
      I'm going to get it. Period.
      Of course the store is just like you'd picture it (here's a Shop Rite in CT if you can't). Since people are stockpiling (like they're not supposed to), they're hitting my department, Frozen, pretty hard. If it snows, we all know that the ultimate survival foods are milk, bread and eggs. Apparently, virus food panics need...french fries and pierogies? The first non-frozen dept to get destroyed was "Plant-Based," which wasn't even a category a year ago.
      A cop was at the ATM I wanted to use, and he said to me "Just checkin' to make sure there's still money left!" I said "Take it all out and buy toilet paper. It's $10 a sheet now." And yes, customers, this really isn't a time to ask "Is there any more in the back?" Why--YES! 100 pallets of it! We don't want to make money! The store has a security guard now. That never happened at the store I was training in. To stop TP riots?
      Despite working in a grocery store, I had no food, so on my day off I went shopping. Watching the cashier blaze through an order, I thought "I picked the right lane!" She was stopped mid-sale by a replacement. After a minute of poking at the touchscreen, she asked someone "How do I log in?" I picked the wrong lane. I asked about the 10% employee discount, which I'd never used before, and she said "I can give that to you!" Pretty sure "random guy asking for discount" don't work that way. There was much frustrated screen touching. And I didn't get the discount. Eh, 10%, it's like $4, I can get Customer Service to adjust it. She was clearly very new, but so am I. A couple of my coworkers are likely 35 years younger than me, but with years of grocery experience. I think "I want to be like Duy and Jeff when I grow up!"
      Our governor just declared that no more than 100 people can congregate--I should've asked the cop if they were enforcing this, throwing people out of the Denny's at 101. Shop Rite had like that many people in every 3 aisles. There was an insane coupon for grapes at 79 cents a pound (a firken in metric), and as I was grabbing mine, a woman standing about 10 inches from me grabbed a grape and thoroughly chewed it. Well, there's a future entry on the obituary page. Although it might be listed under a picture of corpses being bulldozed into a pit.
      I'm going to get this.

      The last time a president decided to ignore a virus: The Influenza Pandemic – Lessons from the Deadly 1918 Outbreak Still Ring True Today, from 100 years ago. He thought that warning people about it would "reduce morale" during World War I. Because nothing gives you confidence like all your friends and family inexplicably falling over dead! It was called the Spanish Flu, even though it was really the American (or Kansas) Flu. Spain was the only country that, after American soldiers spread it to French ones who spread it to the Brits who spread it to the Germans, looked around and said "Dios mio! There's a lot of dead people all of a sudden! Maybe we should try and figure out why?" It was so unspoken, that even today we don't know how many died. Fifty, a hundred? 50 or 100 million, I mean.
      But don't worry! It's a Democratic hoax that convinced thousands of people worldwide to die to hurt Our Favorite President's reelection chances! Oh, what? After 6 weeks of that entirely sane theory, it's now real? Good thing it's in the hands of an idiot son-in-law and a guy who thinks Satan equals Science, and whose literal first response was to have a bunch of old white men Pray the Virus-ay Away! Obama tested a million people in the first month of the last pandemic, and Trump's tested in 2 months 10! Ten THOUSAND.
      We're ALL gonna get it.

      Here's What's Been Flying Off Store Shelves

      The "magnanimous" corporate covid-19 response proves that America is a sham

      In lighter non-news, Chindogu: The Unuseless Inventions of Kenji Kawakami. Funny but a joke with a deep moral code, and a real meaning. "I think of chindogu as an intellectual game to stimulate anarchic minds."

      More Bad Knock-offs.

      Weird Stuff People Tried to Sell Online

      A Lackadaisy cartoon?! Maybe!

      A Bugs on drugs cartoon? Yes!

      I'm taking after my kitties and saving toilet paper their way.
      God, but my asshole tastes weird!

3/21

       Emails received minutes apart, a couple of days ago:
      Macy's: We're closing our stores for safety.
      Barnes & Noble: For safety, we are not closing our stores. As a big sacrifice to our CEO's quarterly bonus, we ask you to "understand why we have removed the usual seating and similar furniture" (literal quote).
      Hartford HealthCare: If you have any symptoms of COVID, please stay away. Go to B&N and die on their floor.
      People's Bank said that their new open hours are "14:00AM - 7:00PM". That clears that up.
      Half of my plaza is empty. It includes Hartford HealthCare. Staples is open, for your essential paperclipping needs. So are Dollar Tree, which is essentially a very cheap grocery store, and GNC, which is essentially a very expensive grocery store. The governor declared that that only groceries, pharmacies and auto repair are "essential". I was stocking (in a grocery) when I saw someone refilling the beer section. Oh shit, I thought, it's insane right now, but what if we're the only place left to buy alcohol?!
     I worked 20 years in liquor stores, and remembered that the CT booze lobby has bought so many politicians that--yep, liquor stores are now "essential". (And since they don't close when the highways are closed during blizzards despite not making any money, they'd defiantly stay open anyway. They don't care about their employees) Everything else closes at 8PM Monday--although they won't say what's essential until late Sunday. Will GameStop make the cut?
      You can imagine what it's like in the store. Yesterday they posted signs stating "FACT: There is No Food Shortage! It's just you dipshits being idiots!" (Last part was implied) However, we're now getting / not getting "scratches"--product that was ordered and then scratched off the delivery because our warehouses couldn't get it from the manufacturers. Today, a new sign limited people to exactly 4 frozen vegetable items. The register kicks any higher quantity out. This is great; not only do we have to put out the new product, we have to put away what gets rejected.
      I don't know how it is in other parts of the store, but apparently the Great Pierogie Panic has passed. People are now living on french fries, Eggo waffles, and broccoli florets. But only the florets; cut broccoli supplies are fine. Our sale items were ordered far in advance, so I sure hope they can live on Totino's Pizza Rolls and exactly that one type of mozzarella, because that's most of what we got!
      As usual (the new usual), some people wear their masks (that don't do anything) and their plastic gloves (that don't do anything), panic buy huge quantities of perishable goods, don't buy hand soap, and go out anyway. I was stuck in store traffic, trying to move a cart to the backroom, and I saw a couple with their 14ish daughter. Her eyes were so huge, I absently wondered what she was thinking. Dad said "I'm taking Sophie to the car; I think she's getting upset by all the people." Your daughter has social anxiety, so you took her to literally one of the only places in the state were there are masses of people? Where "no groups bigger than 10, keep 6 feet away from each other" is instead 10 people every 20 feet? And you speak of her in the third person when she's standing right next to you? Your parenting, I find it lacking (it don't do anything).
      At least 3 times today as I was stocking, someone leaned into the door I was working on and said "Excuse me, I need to grab this one thing" and put their arm about 3 inches from my face. How about saying not "Excuse me" but "Hold yer breath, I'm going in!"

      Our Very Stable Genius gets lobbed the softest of softball questions, and loses it.
      “What did you say to your kids when they said they were scared of a monster under their beds?”
      “I say that you are a terrible little shit-child, that’s what I said. It’s a very nasty question. You, Don Jr, were adopted from a monkey family, and...other son, Ernie is it? I forget your name. I hope monsters get you. Ivanka, come sleep with Daddy."

      The people who should get COVID: ‘We should blow up the bridges’ — coronavirus leads to class warfare in Hamptons

      Since most of Fox News viewers are Trump voters, and most of them are over 65...What did Trumpster Fire think he was getting, when he pretended and screamed that "IT WAS ALL A HOAX!" and now they're the most at-risk group? 38% of them think that it's still a hoax. Can dead COVIDiots vote?

      Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality Did This: The autocratic political culture that has propped up the Trump administration has left the nation entirely unprepared for an economic and public-health calamity.

      In non-viral news, an alternate comic book timeline where Superman's secret identity is mild-mannered KGB agent Vlad Kent.

      

      Dominos, using that X-iest of X-factors, expecting a cat to do something predictable.

      

      Furloughed sports commentator starts covering scenes from everyday life

3/30

       I hope this post finds you well. Not IN a well, obviously. (Lassie's social distancing)
      Too bad it's only Lassie. While the store isn't a mob scene, it's still damn busy. My new favorite: "Do you have this?" and instead of saying what it is, they hold their phone up. Yeah, let me read that 6 inches from your crotch.
      Oh yeah, my manager called out because he was exposed to the virus at college. Before they closed 3 weeks ago, and I think if you don't have symptoms by like 10 days you're clear, but...I'm gonna get it from a customer, kids. Why is "Stay at home" such a difficult concept? I self-isolated for 2.5 years. And now I'm essential.

      Existential Animal Comics From 'Chats With The Void'

      

      

      

      

      

4/5

       I don't know why everyone's talking about Tiger King and the 4 psycho zoo owners when they could be quoting Joe's ex-husband: "There's a modem to their madness!"

      Boy, there's nothing like getting home after a hard day's work, kicking off your shoes and taking off the surgical mask that keeps causing your glasses to fall off your ears, is there?
      My immediate manager is out with COVID. He picked it up in class before they shut college down. The store isn't as busy, but it still is. I went to work today, and my condo parking lot looked like a Monday morning. Everyone was out. Whole families go to the store like it's Disneyland. Mom Dad all of the 3-4 kids. As the saying goes: "The family that shops together drops dead together!" As those Spring-Breaking college idiots proved, "It hits the hardest on people over 65" does NOT mean if you're under 65 you won't get it. Two of the 1st deaths in CT were a teenager and a weeks-old baby.
      A woman was walking through my department with no purchases (Frozen is basically the last aisle before the registers). She was violently coughing and making no attempt to cover her mouth. I mentioned it to a Shop From Home coworker, who said "Yeah, she's been doing that all over the store!" What?! Is she trying to spread it? Even if she doesn't have it, he should've called store security. Some dipshit doctor at UConn told people he had it and coughed on them, and an even dipshittier guy went around Wal-Mart licking everything. They both were arrested. And charged with terrorism.
      I bought my week's groceries after punching out. I bought a bag of Clementines that was in a box. I took some out, and the first I grabbed someone had clearly jammed their thumb into. Maybe her? I washed my hands to the damn bone.
      I also bought toilet paper the day I ran out of Charmin, just before I had to use my emergency backup Dollar Tree paper! There was a pallet of paper products by the cardboard compactor, and one case was open. With 2 packages in it. So at most 1 made it to the floor. However, it's Scotts, which is Dollar Tree paper. It's one-ply. It's better than the TP in the store bathroom, which due to a miracle of scientific advances, is I think half-ply. Interestingly, no customer has tried to steal any. A customer told me that he was in Home Depot, and security had to grab a guy who was trying to steal the custodian's entire mop bucket and cleansers.

      DJ is not happy that I'm working again. When he sees me in my work clothes, he sulks under the bed. Byron, showing how weirldy smart cats are, is by the front door when I get home--at 9PM. Cats have an amazing sense of time. DJ may not be glad, but I am; they gave everybody a $2 an hour raise just for being there. Customers daily thank us for being there as well. That don't make no sense! This is America, you only thank people for their service if they kill Middle Easterners! Be interesting to see when--if--this is over, suddenly 42% of them say that we shouldn't make $15 an hour. Before I ever worked in a grocery store, I always said that if every grocery worker and trash collector went on strike, the USA would collapse within 2 weeks. If every CEO died overnight, no one would even notice. Well, maybe the yacht makers. But the government would bail them out.

      Spelling Failures that Really Ate a Dictionary

      Was Mars full of life? From 1930 by a guy who's as much of a scientist as Jared Kushy-job, so the science is...suspect. "Now, there is one creature on earth for the development of whose counterpart the supposed Martian conditions would be ideal. That animal is the beaver. It is either land-living or water-living. It has a fur coat to protect it from the 100 degrees below zero of the Martian night." Dude, I work in a ten-below F freezer, and I think I'd need to be a LOT furrier if it went ten times lower than that. Also: Earth's Ice Age was caused by mountains jumping up. SCIENCE!

4/9

       I checked the local Patch site, and it had a handy list of local businesses that are open or closed. A very short list, actually. The pool place is open for "curbside". Curbside pools? Those gotta be small. But I wouldn't doubt that people are buying chlorine to wash their hands with. Or to drink as "Miracle Mineral Solution" (look it up, it's real. It has to work, because antivaxxers say it cures the autisms) I fully expect that our shelves will be cleared of zinc tomorrow, as President Doctor Genius claims that it is something he makes money off of like chloroquine phosphate is totally useful, believe me, and won't kill you from the side effects.
      One, and I assume very new, business is named "Pandemic Property Enclosures". Tag: "We have Custom and & 'One Of A Kind' safe" and the description ends right there. I assume they sell fences, because you don't want anyone in the Plague Year to break into your house and steal the 25 guns you've bought in the last month, so that they can then steal your hard-won toilet paper, pierogies and Eggos NOW DO YOU?! The link goes to HostGator, featuring a corporate mascot that's a leering and hungry-looking alligator and the comforting words "You're almost done! Please configure your name servers". If that doesn't work, please send for low, low price of million rubles to Basement of Building With Onion-shaped Towers, 1 Red Square, attn: Vlad. Is haveing Good recommends on the Facebook!
      I'm one aisle from the toilet paper aisle. I heard a coworker trying to deal with a customer who insisted that "one package of TP per customer" meant "one package of each brand of toilet paper". It went on for a lot longer than it should've. I could hear Dan from Grocery getting weary of the nonversation. ("Grocery" in a grocery store is basically any department that doesn't have a refrigerated or frozen section--Dan works like half the damn store) Dan came up my aisle with some empty bread carts (TP and bread are in his purview. Has it not occured to anyone that you can use bread as toilet paper?) and I asked "Did you just have an altercation over toilet paper?" He said, and not happily, "I've had fucking altercations all day! The guy wanted more because he was 'buying it for his mother in Haddam' Yeah, right!" That's a distance of 40 miles one way, or in New England terms, "halfway to the Moon". I said "But what about his girlfriend in Canada?!"
      I was expecting to work 12 to 4 Sunday, but they changed the open hours to 2. We get time and a half for major holidays. I wouldn't have minded working for $20 an hour for a holiday no one is going to celebrate outside of Zoom. Except for those churches that will be open. In 2-3 weeks, it might be funny to watch them all on Facetime, coughing and feverish and screaming to G*D to save them. I said "might"; it really wouldn't be funny beyond "Reap what you have sown".

      You might need to know what Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies cards are to get the next link, unless you don't. They're a deck of cards he'd draw when stumped in the studio to open his mind. The first I got from that link just now was "Does it need holes?" which...are certainly words I live by. I've got a nose and a mouth, sure use those holes daily. But this is funny without prior knowledge: Passive-Aggressive Oblique Strategies. Click on it. Or don't. What am I, your mother?

      A look at how minimum wage workers are suddenly "HEROES". For 20 years that's also what they've been calling every soldier who dies in our endless wars for corporate profit. They call us "heroes" because it's too accurate to call us "cannon fodder".

      Oh, i forgot a thing. Dan said "Did you see that guy with the bubble helmet?!"
      Yes, I did. It looked like something from a 1950s scifi movie, a bad "Space Man" helmet. It was like he took an old plastic candy store jar, cut the back off, and put some straps on it. Sorry, no pics, so I guess it didn't happen. (It fuckin' did)

4/18

       Now we have to have our temperature taken before reporting to the sales floor. It's one of those pistol-shaped touch-free ones, so we Essentials now go to work by literally having a gun held to our heads.
      On the first day, a coworker pointed it at my forehead. The reading was zero. I said "I have a temperature of nothing. Oh my god. I'm already dead." Day 2, they forgot to recharge them, so everybody had a temp of "Lo."
      It's slower, but of course still busy. In acts of petard self-hoisting, customers stand 6 inches from everyone. Most people now have masks, but not all. Twice yesterday I saw seniors wearing masks over their mouths. Not their noses. Or ears. According to Doctor Prezdint Racoon-Eyed Yam-Head, respiratory diseases are spread by sound of windmills. Actually, they're spread by having incompetent fuckwads running the country.
      I had a maskless woman tell me all about the mask she was getting online, "It has FIVE layers! You should get one! Yours doesn't cover your whole face! ALSO..." and it went on for nearly 5 minutes as I tried to crawl away. 10 minutes later, I was in the next aisle, and a couple with masks were clearly trying to escape another of her interminable conversations. Jeez, lady, so you're lonely. Call a porn line and talk to them.
      We do a thing called "blocking." Wait, I do a thing called "blocking." We were supposed to have a night crew guy, but he never came to his first day of work, and it's clear there won't be another one. So it's 2nd shift guy, who is Me. It's just pulling forward/facing the items customers threw around because they're literally too lazy to put it one shelf up. I don't mind. It's kind of zen. (Except for when I mentally yell "Come ON!!" at uncooperative inanimate objects) My hours got cut this week. I mentioned it to my immediate boss (the one who isn't out with COVID), and he was kind of upset. "But you're the best we have!" That's a reassuring thing to hear. It was true at my last job, but in a sense I was also the worst they had, as nobody else did a fucking thing. (I imagine they figured that out real quick after my layoff)
      My hours are up for next week. For now. People have been getting sent home early because there's no product to put away. I said to our sister department, Dairy, that "Your department must be easy to block; you ain't got shit!" Hope you guys like cheese, because that's about all they have! Yes, people are buying up milk and other extremely perishable goods, so that in a month they can throw them away while they don't have jobs. Good thinking there, you hoisted petards! A cashier said he saw a woman with 8 gallons of milk. I hope she was able to get toilet paper, because she's gonna have the shits.
      But fear not! Our treasury sec and least popular munchkin in the Lollipop Guild, Mnuchin, says that $1200 will last 10 weeks because he knows how much the poors need. Get your check yet? Outside of the physical checks being delayed because Tangerine Torquemada wants to scribble his names on them, direct deposit is being held up because the system uses COBOL. This is a programming language that was invented the year I was born, and so was last coded by a guy who wrote "GO TO: defeat mongol hordes" or something. It's super hard to learn and so known by no one, because its only use is for minor banking functions that had just switched to the concept of "long division." You can learn it, if you can find some wizened Obi-Wan-Zero-One-Zero in the fucking desert, and Oh wait, they're all dead of fucking SARS now. I do not have my check yet, despite the gummint having my direct deposit. Mnuchin's probably holding the check up to a computer screen and yelling "ENHANCE!"

      30 Hilarious Essential Worker Memes

      If the federal gummint's response was a song, it'd be this one:

      

      

      Judge Gives Animal Abusers A Taste Of Their Own Medicine Instead Of Giving Them A Slap On The Wrist Why didn't this guy run the impeachment?

      

4/28

       TEMPORARILY OUT OF HAMS

      "WOW!" said a coworker as I struggled through high winds and heavy rain to get through the store parking lot. "I never thought it could be this windy on a MONDAY!"
      ...Umm...yeah, sure, nice conversational gambit when it's 38 degrees F with a 40MPH wind. I mean, a Monday that's nuts, but I could see it happening on a--
      WINDSDAY!
      No, fuck you.

      I heard something loud from the dairy aisle, followed by raucous laughter. I don't remember what. I do remember next hearing "I'M NOT A POLLOCK! HAW HAW HAW!" I looked up in shock and saw assistant mgr Bill (there are 4 Bills in the store) calmly blocking a shelf. It couldn't have come from an employee, because Other Bill would've made him an immediate ex-employee. Then a guy with no mask, no gloves, in shorts and a tshirt, came by still laughing at how awesome his screaming an ethnic slur was. I call stepping on a Lego barefoot, stubbing my toe on an end table, then falling out of an open window and landing on the top of my skull awesome, but I've fallen on the top of my skull so many times.
      I wonder who he'll be voting for president. If he lives that long.

      Buckethead came back! The guy with the DIY spaceman helmet as a facemask. I got enough of a better look to think that it's one of those giant Costco jugs of Utz Cheeze Balls with the back cut off. The strap holding it on is the handle. I could've looked longer, but I ain't risking eye contact with Chester Cheeseballs. His next mask could be my face.

      Man, my generation got a cartoon about the dorky Osmonds. The 90s almost got one about BOOTSY.

      

      I posted that to Facebook, and someone immediately commented "Say my name!" And I said "'DONNY!' Oh wait wrong cartoon."
      Bootsy was a member of Parliament-Funkadelic. They were a 70s-80s group noted for their elaborate live shows ("THE MOTHERSHIP HAS LANDED!" involved a flying saucer being lowered to the stage), a big and talented range of artists, and a not-very-serious take on the world. Which you might glean from the above video.
      I have the best of Parliament and Bootsy on my computer, but I've always been big on off-center groups. Which is a segue to a cringey story, which fortunately involves me only as a witness.
      I was working at Stop&Shop. I was about to quit, because what a fucking awful job. (I'm about a week away from my total time spent there, and I sure have no intention of leaving Shop-Rite, it's great!) A guy, 65 likely, was hitting on a coworker, 22 likely. She couldn't say "Fuck off, pervy old fart!" and turn away, which is why people are horrible to retail workers. He tried wooing her by singing Parliament lyrics at her. She was clearly uncomfortable and just plain baffled. Dude, just because she's black doesn't mean she knows music from before she was born! Is that how you think DNA works, like Trump's uncle who went to MIT and I guess chugged bleach all semester? Her comfort level was not helped by his choice of a song.
      It's called "Maggot Brain."
      Dude probably tries to use that song to hit on women at funerals.

      Oh, right, TEMPORARILY OUT OF HAMS. These signs greeted me on both of the doors to our backroom. Why anyone would be looking for HAMS in a freezer with a temperature that can almost be measured in Kelvin, I don't know. (Also, we have no steamed hams, and that ref goes out to Aldo) There's some promotion going on where if you spend $400 in a certain timeframe, the store gives you a ham? No one in the store knows what the hell it is, besides...something to do with frozen lasagna? So I guess that's why signs were up. Up right next to half a freezer of fucking spiral-cut hams. The signs are pretty funny, once you notice they're randomly everywhere. The bakery is TEMPORARILY OUT OF HAMS. Seafood is TEMPORARILY OUT OF FISHY HAMS. Look, I don't understand these things, I just spread my confusion on to you.

      Products: Ben & Jerry's has a new flavor. It's ice cream with potato chips. It is called "Chip Happens!" because "O SO FUCKING GROSS" was probably taken.
      I bought some Green Giant "Shoepeg Corn." Another vegetable company also sells shoepeg corn. Does this not imply that shoes had pegs before corn existed? And also, where on my shoes are the pegs?

      This Restaurant Is Winning The Funny Sign Game. In Texas, but you can figure out which city pretty easy. The Boston of Texas. Their names even rhyme!

      Dark Fleet: The Secret Nazi Space Program and the Battle for the Solar System. Sure why not.

      You know where so many hams come from? Poland! I hope that screamy guy doesn't find out! He'll call in the Nazi Space Force to invade!

5/9

       Okay okay, I'll update. Jeez, you don't have to raise your voice.

      Store's the same. Randomly out of random stuff, but getting shipments of the weird stuff we ran out of 2 months ago. Half our vegetables are gone, but now there's broccoli florets and many, many Eggos. Toilet paper is (usually) back, and there's flour. HAM TEMPORARILY IN STOCK.
      Maybe just a fluke with the timing of our grand opening, but customers keep marvelling at how much we have compared to other groceries. Maybe it's because, as a 3 store franchise, our owners were smart enough to jump on this thing back when Turnip Tamerlane was still calling it a hoax. I went to deposit my stimulus check--because despite using direct deposit for my tax refund since the first year it was available, the Gummint sent it out 2 weeks late, and I had to touch a gross ATM keypad to use it. This was at 630 PM on my break, and our parking lot was 3/4s full. Stop&Shop's had like 15 cars. I'm guessing they don't have a lot of product. We got a $2 an hour raise in the 3rd week of March, just extended to the end of May. S&S got a 10% raise in the 4th week of April. So, if they weren't making $20 an hour--and they aren't--they got less than us. Jeepers, I sure miss working there!
      We put restrictions in place in the 2nd week of March, before our governor did, and our governor was ahead of basically everybody. The first day I wore a mask--because the CDC couldn't make up its mind as to whether people should or shouldn't until the day before--only 3 other coworkers wore them. Now, it's just weird to see people not wearing them. The only place I go besides my job is the liquor store. And I only go every other week. I saw a guy get out of his car, well into his 70s, with no mask. I guess he read my facial expression, because he quickly donned his N95. No, he just smushed his reusable bag over his nose. Ah, buddy--you know why the state brought single-use grocery bags back, right? it's because...shit, nevermind, you'd just tie one over your whole head. Since the store had multiple signs saying "No Mask, No Service" (current state protocol) I wonder if they even let him in.
      The walk-in clinic by me just put out a Covid Testing Here sign, so when the lockdown ends here, I'm getting one. I've surely been exposed. Of course, the GOP-run parts of the country is already reopening. The Lt. Governor of Texas said "There are more important things than living!" Then go get a job in a meatpacking plant (where a midwestern Republican said "Meatpacking workers aren't regular people" whatever that meant [they're mainly immigrants, that's what it meant]) or a hospital and wear no PPE, asshole. Put your life where your mouth is.
      And the super useful TWO Coronovirus Task Forces, each piloted by blankly staring porcelain mannequins, Pence and Jared, are being dismantled. Wait, the next day, they aren't? Because--and I'll let you guess who said it--"They're very popular and getting great ratings." I guess Jared is going to Peace the Middle East again, or whatever of his 20 jobs are. Jared's so smart that if he was drowning in the middle of the Atlantic, he'd open an umbrella and smile smugly at his triumph as he disappeared beneath the waves.

      And now, links! Before you have to go back to work because they cut off your unemployment, so you can go back to coughing all over the Tyson nuggets in the plant:

      24 Times Cats Proved Their Bad Reputations Wrong By Being Heroes

      Just a nice story: Growing Up Star Wars, as Seen Through the Eyes of Author Phuc Tran

      I'd watch this.
      

      A song parody of Thomas Dolby, by Thomas Dolby's son, Thomas Dolby. Entertaining, but unfortunately, he didn't inherit his father's pipes, just his hairline.

      I remember this cartoon, and I can attest that this IS the Best of it. It insulted my intelligence when I was EIGHT. Ringo and George must've been thrilled by their depictions. Nice job on the accents, though. Is George supposed to have some racist version of a Mumbai accent, because he liked sitars?

      I like the guy who says the cure to everything is "Go Jump in a Lake!" Cures everything except combovers, I guess.
      

5/18

       I finally found a thing to complain about my job. I signed up for part time, putting "24 hrs/wk" on my application, hoping for 3 8 hour days. Last week it was 38 hours. Anything over 32 hrs in CT is full time. So, I'm working FT hours with PT benefits.
      I'm loathe to bring it up. At my last job, everything was "Sucks to be you LOL" while the backstabbing cocksuckers got everything they could weasel out of our clueless Boss Baby. Here, it'd be an eager "Then we'll make you full time with benefits!" immediately. And I'm not sure I want to do that. If I do and decided later to back out, I'll look bad. If I say "I only want PT," I'll look bad.
      The store is heavily understaffed. When I applied, I asked the manager how many people he was hiring. "300, with the hope of keeping 200." Of the 10 people in my orientation class, I've only seen 1. And I haven't seen him in 2 months. Of course, at least 2 of them I wouldn't see anyway; one was 3rd shift, and the other Bakery. They may still be there--3rd shifter had 2 relatives working for the store for years, and Bakery woman was quite enthusiastic about getting to work at 4AM. I imagine that our $2/hr raises were because people were panicking about COVID and being surrounded by hundreds of unprotected halfwits keeping social distancing at 6 inches. I overheard walking past the asst mgr's office, just before our raise was to expire, say on a Zoom call "Our associates are really stressed right now--" and 2 days later the raise was extended a month. There was supposed to be a 3rd shifter in Frozen, but he decided to "Let It Go" (HA!) and never showed up on his 1st shift. Dairy lost a guy because he came in when he wanted to. I left an aggregate total of an hour early last week, because...I did everything I was supposed to for the day. And, ya know, I'm NOT FT.
      This week, I'm on 36 hrs, so I don't know. Weird problem to have, when half of the USA may not get their jobs back, and almost every small business will likely close, because 40% of the "small business stimulus" went to companies listed on the NYSE.
      And what's likely to happen is: everything reopens, everyone gets sick again, and Little Miss President Can't Be Wrong demands that no businesses close, but nobody goes, and the Deadly Boredom resumes, repeat every 2 months. Because it's all a plot by China to kill their own citizens in hopes it gets transmitted to the US, in order to make Trump look bad. Just like the defeat of Japan in WWII, when America dropped A-bombs on New York and Boston, hoping that the fallout would eventually reach Hiroshima. Why was he impeached over Ukraine, when it should've been over the obvious fact he's insane?
      I got a letter from the IRS. It's from Prezdint Borscht-Brain taking credit for those handsomely lavish $1200 checks, of course. I work in a goldang grocery store and make that in 3 weeks. Could you give me the money it cost taxpayers to mail out millions of these "No, thank ME" self-blowjobs? It's signed with his signature scrawl, and it reads like this:
      [symbol, possibly Eiffel Tower]wvld[possibly Deadpool mask]iuuuy[Eiffel Tower]
      Or like a seismograph chart written with the flat end of a Magic Marker, sitting in the lap of some raccoon-eyed orange criminal thinking of his daughter naked.
      Hilariously, or not, the back is in Spanish. Yeah, you're getting THOSE votes, Emperor Napoleon the 4th. "Oh, muy bueno, Senor Monster who imprisons babies! Si si, ¿cuándo mueres, cara de mierda? That is Spanish for 'Stable Genius'!"
      He had nothing to do with the checks. Remember when his "plan" was to not deduct payroll tax for the unemployed? Know who doesn't get payroll tax deducted? People who are unemployed. Know what the payroll tax funds? Unemployment insurance, and Social Security. His plan for the social safety net was to socially distance himself from it.

      HERMANN GOERING! Wait, let me check my Segue Generator--No, it works. I was just talking about a fat stupid Nazi sociopath, and now another. Okay, Goebbels, who is more analogous to Stephen Miller.
      The Worst Best Movie to me is "Birth of a Nation." I guess it was good, if you were watching it 1915-style and the only other thing to do was sit in the pasture and livestream cows shitting. It turned up once on PBS as "an historical document," but whoa, like most silent movies, Silent But Deadly. Literally. Its "heroes" were an organization that had faded into obscurity after the Civil War: The KKK. This movie brought them back, and you could argue that the waves of lynchings and murders that infested the 1920s were all inspired by it. The Best Worst Movie to me was Germany's Kohlberg. Inspired by another racist POS film, Gone With the Wind, it was made, at vast expense, in 1944 when the Nazis had fucking LOST. Set in Napoleonic times, it involved tons of gunpowder and period uniforms used by an entire division of the Wehrmacht. It was worth it, if it shortened the war by even an hour. It premiered in a French city that the Nazis controlled, if by "controlled" you meant that the Allies had completely surrounded it, and the film reels had to be parachuted in. Its plot was about a heroic German town that fought to the death against the French, which must've made it a real feel-good film when DeGaulle's Free French Armored Division was knocking on the door, about to crush you under the treads of their Shermans.
      But! I had heard about this thing before, but never really knew about it. Just a year before, they made The Nazi Titanic. The most expensive movie of all time, for decades. The effects were so good, that they were stolen for every other B&W Titanic movie. You can even watch it at the link! No, please--you go first.

      HOUSTON ON FIRE! Damn, but my Segue Generator is working great. The Swarm Is a Disaster Movie Only a Murder Hornet Could Love. But Murder Hornets have always been our friends!!

      The Short But Wonderful Life Of Edmund the Cat

      What It Means to Be Dead

      Present Day And Historical Moments In Same Spot

      18 Stories About Cats That Will Convince Even The Most Hardcore Dog People That Getting A Feline Is A Good Idea

      Kirk's #foolish-idea-friends. "#2718 Luggage with face detection that is also delighted to see you as it swings around the baggage carousel and can express that- makes you feel loved after a rough flight and helps you locate your bag. The name of this wonder-product? 'emotional baggage'."

      A rare instance of a post living up to its clickbait headline, 35 Funny Comics With Unexpected Twists That Poke Fun At Our Society

      I looked up a YouTube of a song from the Ren & Stimpy CD. I found...um, this. It's interesting to picture some dude (trust me, it was a dude) watching every second of a movie to sync it up perfectly. Still good advice though.

      

      

5/30

      When he feels his wet food breakfast is running late, I will get the bloodcurdling Byron Siren to let me know. Even if I want to sleep, after the second shrieking I just feed him and go back to bed. The last time I did it, 20 minutes later he started again. I thought his water bowl was low, but it wasn't. I filled it anyway. After 10 minutes, the cat wailing caterwauling began again. Obviously I asn't going to go back to sleep now. I said "I don't know what you want!" and sat down. Instantly, he was in my lap. He just wanted pets. Hard to be mad at him over that!
      And this is why posts have become less frequent. Between their kidnapping by animal control and time in exile with Jessica, and me working again, they are very much lap cats.. Cuddles take precedence over typing.
      I did get approval to change my hours to four 8 hour days a week, so I get a 3rd day off. Pretty cool. It's a good job, but I was hired for PT, and that's what I want. Things have finally quieted down, so maybe I can semi-rejoin society, despite never having really left it during the Deadly Boredom. I'm wearing a mask for maybe forever, or at least keeping it around my neck. You know this thing's coming back (watch WI, Fl, and especially GA in June). I have to find out about the testing being done near me. If it's like the rest of the state, you can only get tested if you have more than one symptom. But 35% of the people who get it have no symptoms, so they can't get tested to find out if they have it...Catch-2019.
      Ironically, I've had only 2 haircuts in 25 years, and was scheduling one when everything shut down. You know that Marvel movie "Winter Soldier"? I look like that guy now. And I didn't even get a cool metal arm!
      And now, links.

      Horrible Coworkers

      These Fuzzy Kitties Have The Same Facial Expressions That Humans Do, And It's Got Us In Our Feelings

      If you've appreciated the work I've done on this blog over the last 23 years, feel free to show your opinion with this 2-CD set of the soundtrack of The Swarm by not buying me it.

      Strangest Choosing Beggar Case The World's Seen

      Definitively Ranking Every MST3K Short. Definitive, but subjective. She even dismisses 4 of them out of hand. Of course you'll disagree with the rankings. "Here Comes the Circus!" comes in only at #20, with no acknowledgement of the classic line "Oh no, they're doin' it clown style!"? #13 is "Out of this World," which I have never seen and now thoroughly wish I hadn't? The best part is that each item comes with its YouTube, in its entirety. Or worst, if it's Out of This World.
      

      


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