Thursday, June 21, 2018

Three Deaths

I'm not a big believe that things happen in threes, but it still grabs my attention when it seems to happen.

Three small parts of my life passed in the past 24 to 36 hours.

Woke up this morning to find out Koko the Gorilla had passed.  It actually hit me a little hard, and it got dusty in here for a second.  I remember seeing Koko on Mr. Rogers, way back when.  And anytime a news piece would show up, I'd watch.  This segment with Flea always makes me smile.  The bridging of the gap between the animal kingdom and the human world sometimes reveals the childlike best in humanity.

Yesterday, woke up to the news that Leon White, the man they called Big Van Vader, had passed due to complications from congestive heart failure.  Man, that WCW run for Vader in the early 1990's was one of my favorites.  I always appreciated their ability to maintain the man as a monster for an extended run.  And I resented the hell out of Hulk Hogan for just turning him into another big man for him to defeat, when he wandered over to Turnerland.  I wish Vader had hit the WWE in 1993 or 1994, rather than the couple years later that he did.  And I wish we'd gotten a really, really killer Undertaker/Vader feud.  I think it'd have been epic.

Here's a cool match between Vader and Mick Foley, from the WCW Saturday Night era.  I have seen this match, but I don't know if I saw it on a compilation or on the Network (most likely), but it gives me a feeling of nostalgia that makes me wonder if it wasn't one I watched at a friend or relative's house.  We grew up in the woods with no cable or any wrestling I saw from pretty much 1988 to 1995 was through a friend who did have cable....

Lastly, it was announced that John Ward passed away last night.  As the voice of the University of Tennessee sports, he was a ubiquitous presence.  When I play announced football games that we played as kids, there would always be the countdown by fives and the announcement: "Give Him Six!"  In fact, I still play that in my head, from time to time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Random Thoughts

  • We're through another holiday.  As holidays go, Memorial Day isn't ridiculous, normally.  This one kicked my ass.  I work today, as well, and when that's done, I'll have worked 12 of the last 13 days.  We were shorthanded, which was part of it.  We've hired a lot of bodies in, which means training.  Which means no days off. since last Monday.  And in the month of May, I've had 4 days off.  I'm tired, folks.
  • Summer holidays are tough, anyway.  When you work with young people, a lot of families take vacations around those summer holidays, and they go on vacation with those young people during that time, too.  It takes a body or two out of your roster.
  • Then you've got those who are older, but somehow think they're entitled to that day off, despite having worked with the company for a while.  Yesterday's was a "stuck jeep."  There were other complaints of ague and ache,  that somehow seemed fine when the person was told they needed to come on in.
  • And then there were real life issues.  A friend whose father was fighting cancer, and who'd had hospice called in, lost that father yesterday.
  • I've been thinking a lot on that.  Dad's been gone about 15 months now.  And there are days here in the past couple of weeks where missing him has hit me like a ton of bricks.  Dad went suddenly.  While I wouldn't turn down the chance to talk with him again, I'm glad he was spared a long period of suffering.  I watched Mom deal with both parents being incapacitated for a long period of time.  It's tough.  Dad and I had a good, honest relationship.  I'm confident we both knew how the other felt when he passed--I don't think there was anything left unsaid.  
  • I guess what I'm trying to say is that some days, I don't think I'm strong enough to watch a loved one die.  Most days, even.
  • Working as much as I have over the past few days means I haven't been able to make it out to the movie theater lately.  I'd really like to see Deadpool 2.  I'm ambivalent about the Solo: a Star Wars story flick, but have heard a couple good things.  I'd also kinda like to see Super Troopers 2, which is currently playing at the cheap theater up in Knoxville.
  • I'm off tomorrow.  Shyam's been working crazy busy, too.  April-July is pretty much nuts for her.  We see each other at night.  We've been living together for a year now.  I'm glad of that, because if we each had our own places, we'd probably not see each other that often.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Random Thoughts

  • I heard the word Fuck today on Good Morning America.  They were playing an excerpt from a Howard Stern interview with Gwyneth Paltrow.  I was delighted, as I am nine-years-old on the inside.  I was also scandalized, as I am also a 62-year-old on the inside.  Welcome to the Duality of Man.  Still, it didn't drive me to insanity.  I don't think.
  • Leaping from one Freedom of Speech moment to another. Making it mandatory to stand during the National Anthem isn't patriotism, folks.  It's authoritarian nationalism, and if you can't see the difference, you deserve to get eaten by a fascist regime.  Trump and his supporters are dangerous.  This is a weird time for the United States.
  • I've got a couple of people I know going through hard stuff.  One had to have hospice called in for his Dad.  Another just found out he has stomach and esophageal cancer.  It's a bummer, and it's been laying heavy on my mind over the past couple of days.
  • Been missing Dad quite a bit this week.  Had a dream the other night where he and I were going to some kind of show.  It had aspects of both a pro wrestling show and a concert.  In the dream, he went off to find his seats, and I spent the rest of the dream trying to find him, waking myself up when I realized he'd passed away.
  • I hate holidays.  And I hate being shorthanded at work.  When I'm Emperor, blah blah blah.
  • I had a meeting yesterday down in Chattanooga.  I got a text before I went that the location had changed from the store it was supposed to be in to the bank next door to that store.  I wandered into the bank, and they looked at me like I'd grown a second head that was spouting racist rhetoric when I asked where I needed to go for the meeting.  Turns out it wasn't a prank, as was my first instinct.  There's another meeting this week that will take place at a bank next to one of our stores.
  • I recently listened to Alma Katsu's The Hunger, which was a helluva read.  I found a hard copy at McKay's yesterday.  It's one of those rare ones that I wanted a hard copy of, after I've listened to it.   If you haven't, it's a creepy-as-hell period piece about the Donner Party.  I loved it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Today's Funny

Trying to get a better attitude about the job.  Trying not to feel somehow screwed over.  We're shorthanded right now, and it feels like every time I turn around, something else is going sideways.  The schedule's been difficult.  Too many nights.  Too many weekends, here lately.  It's not impossible.  It's just tough to enjoy, right now. 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Wasted Vacation

The problem working with experienced folks is that over time, they've accrued a shit-ton of vacation time.  Among my boss, my grocery manager and my front end manager and me, there are 27 weeks of vacation to work into the 40-44 weeks out of the year that we're allowed to take them.

I had a week down for the third week, or so, of May.  The Cubs are coming to Atlanta that week, and i wanted to take a couple days to go seem them play live.

Well, a floor strip and a mandatory meeting popped up.  I had a few things going on this past week, so I went ahead and used the week I'd scheduled for May this past week.

Well, I got to do the things I wanted to do:  my buddy Barry's comic show; a WWE house show with my buddy Jeff; watching my nephew play ball yesterday and heading to a picnic/baseball game thrown by my Mom's retirement company at the Lookouts today.

Still, I wanted to get a couple things done this week...get some shelves up in the spare room; do some work in the yard;  maybe get out of town one day.

I guess I did get a few things done, so it's not a total loss.

Gotta go back to work tomorrow.  We'll see how things go....

Monday, April 23, 2018

To Infinity and Beyond

I ran across this photo on Twitter this week, and I've enjoyed it more than I'd have thought.

I like the idea, now, that the Infinity Stones are things we've seen across moviedom over the years.  Perhaps the Maltese Falcon, and Dorothy's Ruby Slippers....the Sankara Stones....the Heart of the Sea....the Baseball Diamond from Great Muppet Caper.

And perhaps it was the gauntlet itself that Vincent Vega was looking at in Marcellus Wallace's briefcase....

Monday, April 09, 2018

Disney and Whatnot

We wandered down to Orlando this week.  We wanted to take Thomas to Walt Disney World while he was young enough to truly appreciate it.  And while we all are young enough to get around.

If we had it to do again, I don't know that we'd pick Easter Week as it's one of the most crowded weeks of the year.  But, we didn't want to try in the summer, owing to that it's so busy for April and Thomas, and it's not a guarantee this year that I could get the week off (as things stand, I may be trying to cram four vacations into a 13 weeks span from Labor Day to the Week after Thanksgiving).

Anyway, here's a few pictures...

The drive down Monday was surprisingly easy.  We had a little slowness in Atlanta, but truly, a little slowness is abut the best you can hope for in that city.  It did rain on us a bit as we got close to Orlando.  The drive in from the Florida Turnpike to I-4 to 535 did take little longer for April, Thomas and their dog Duke, who drove separately.

Duke, after their ride

We had 4-day passes.  We decided to try one park a day.

Day one was a lesson in how to budget time.  The house we rented was just four or five miles from the park.  Getting to the park in the morning, though, was a logjam.  It became a running gag, and a bit of learning from what's become a career in customer service.  4 times out of 5 (at least) the biggest obstacle to quick customer service is the customer.  We probably spent 20 minutes in this logjam.  Our line, when we got in, was 15 cars long.  Our time at the booth to pay for parking was 15 seconds.  Get your crap together know you gotta pay...have your money or cards out.....

The further lesson in how to budget time was the use of the FastPass, Disney's program that allows you into a fast line for a limited number of rides.  These, we had to schedule in advance.  We chose Haunted Mansion, A Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean, as the Fastpass for Space Mountain were already booked up the Sunday we scheduled things.

The day of, however, we found that we'd put too much time in between our Fast Haunted Mansion, Small World and Pirates are all within stones' throws of one another.  The Haunted Mansion and Small World attendants were cool, as they let us in early for our rides.  We ran into a struggle, though, when Pirates of the Caribbean was down for a short time.  We were informed that we could use our fastpass on another ride.  Had we thought about it, we probably should have taken our time to walk across the park, and use that FastPass on Space Mountain.  Instead, we tried for Splash Mountain, which we couldn't because we were 5 minutes before our allotted time, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which also broke down for a short time.  We ended up using that particular Fast Pass on Jungle Cruise, as it was close and we were by then nearing the end of our 1-hour Fastpass Window.

Sam the Eagle is my Spirit Animal

Haunted Mansion is probably my favorite ride in the Magic Kingdom

I don't know, if we had things to do over, if we'd have picked Easter Week.  A lot of families are on vacation, and a lot pick Walt Disney World.  The Magic Kingdom was crowded.  And I know that it's almost always crowded, but we heard one employee (cast members, as they are called) remark that the Tuesday we attended was remarkably well attended (a choice of phrase I pondered for a while, given the nearly Universal upbeat nature of all cast members...I decided that the phrasing was such that it admitted the crowds without sounding like complaint).  We would deal with crowds all four days, but nothing like that Tuesday in the Magic Kingdom.

It can wear on a brother.

Happiest Place on Earth....
Each day, we'd go early, and ride rides and see shows until about 3, when we'd take the 10 minute drive back to the house (the 10-minute ride in the evening was usually a 20-minute ride on the way in...).  There, somehow Thomas would instantly re-energize when he'd remember the house had a pool to swim in.

And swim, we did.  Over the week, probably more than I've swam in three years combined.

Tuesday night, we wandered back over to the Magic Kingdom, with the express mission to ride Space Mountain.  Without FastPass, we had to wait in line a couple of hours.

This had better not end with a horrifying visit by Ric Flair
Space Mountain was probably the first roller coaster I've ridden since we visited Six Flags in college.  I just haven't visited many amusement parks since then.  In fact, now that I think about it, I may have visited Dollywood, just 90 minutes north of me, once or twice, but none others since then.

I'd forgotten something.  You can't wear glasses on Roller Coasters.  At least, I can't.  I forgot this, even after making a mental note to stow my glasses either in my cargo shorts pocket or my sister's bag.  I didn't, though.  After 2 hours of waiting, I spent my 2 minute ride on Space Mountain holding my glasses onto my face.  Disney's Magic Makers took my picture along the ride, and my hand is plastered to my face.

We wandered back to the house, fighting the sea of humanity who'd just finished watching the fireworks and were preparing for the light show at Cinderella's Castle.  I got a little wigged out in the crowd, trying to keep up with a 7-year-old and a 66-year-old....

Wednesday, we hit Epcot.  This was good, but also a small regret.  We spent so much time running in The Magic Kingdom that we never really got to enjoy it.  I've got an itch to go back, using a vacation week in late October or January or February to just take time to look around.  Enjoy how the place is put together, to watch how Disney manages several thousand moving parts in the form of cast members and, well, moving parts to get things done.  The engineering (civil and social) is interesting.  I've digressed a bit, only to say that I wish Thomas (and the rest of us) had gotten more time in The Magic Kingdom.

Anyway, Wednesday.

Epcot's cool.  I didn't want to sound like we didn't enjoy.  It's a great park, though I don't know that Thomas enjoyed as much as we did.  If I go back, I'd like to take a day just to wander around the Countries of the World, have a couple beers and enjoy the day.

The highlight of the day for me was lunch at the Biergarten in the German Pavilion.  Pretty good food, and a pretty good beer list.

We wandered back to the house afterward.  We swam.  We came back to watch the Firework show.  We took it in near the English and Canadian pavilions, where we got another tasty beverage or two.  Learning for me:  my nephew doesn't care for fireworks, which is kinda cool, since they've never really been my bag, either....

Thursday took us to Animal Kingdom

I wasn't sure what to expect.  A few reviews had been less than complimentary of Disney's newest park.   It was probably my favorite day, as it turns out.  The combination of weather and our better strategy when it comes to FastPass made for a lot less stress.  We hit the Dinosaur ride (which was great, though I underestimated its bounciness, and spent a great deal of time holding my glasses, though I was this time able to hold them in my hand, instead of plastering them to my face...), It's Tough to Be a Bug, and took a walk through of the African and Asian animal exhibits.  

We came back that night to wander through the Avatar/Pandora land, and then do the African Safari ride, which was very, very cool.  We had a white rhinoceros walk up to the riding craft.  No pictures turned out....unless you like this one:

Friday took us to Hollywood Studios, and I think it was the day my nephew looked forward to most.  We'd attempted to keep Disney a secret, but he'd figured it out, mostly.  Upon learning that we would indeed be heading for Disney, he wanted to do the Jedi Training.  It was the quickest we'd gotten him up all week.

As soon as we reached the Park, Thomas and April got in line to sign up.  There, Thomas had an encounter with Troopers from the New Order.

The last time I visited Disney was around 1993, not too long after the then Disney/MGM Studios had opened.  Several things had changed in the past 25 years.  Most regrettable was the lack of new foot and handprints at the Chinese Theatre replica.  The latest I could find was 1996.  I don't know why that bugged me.  It just seemed like something you should replace, if you're not gonna keep up with it.

Though I did like the juxtaposition of Bobcat Goldthwait and Audrey Hepburn.

One of my favorite bits at the Hollywood Studios was the Muppet 3-D show, which was still there.  A lot has changed at the park, in advance of the Toy Story and Star Wars areas opening up.  Mom was interested in the Backlot Tour, which was discontinued in the past few months, and I was interested in the Great Movie Ride, which is also a thing of the past.  Luckily, the Muppet 3-D show was still there.

It's a funny, well put together show.  Still one of my favorite things Disney has done with the Muppets since their acquisition.

Outside the Muppet Theater, Thomas and Mom got to meet Chip and Dale:

The day surrounded the Jedi training.  We had to rearrange a lunch reservation to make sure to accommodate it, but that worked out well.  We'd reserved lunch a the replica of the Hollywood Brown Derby, but we'd reserved it late, and we found ourselves hungry again around 11 AM.  We grabbed quick food at the Commissary, where Thomas made a friend in one of the employees.  Her name was Hasmita, and they traded stories about the Animal Kingdom.  Both enjoy the Safari ride.  Thomas drew her a giraffe.  Hasmita drew him an elephant

After lunch, we hit Star Tours, and the Indiana Jones Stunt Show (one of the extras was also visiting from Athens, Tennessee), and then waited for Thomas's time in the Jedi training.

The Jedi Training was a hit.  Thomas bought into the narrative completely.  He's at the perfect age where make-believe is strongest.  Several times during the rides or shows, he would be right there instantly and completely immersed in the narrative.  Suspension of Disbelief is one of his strong points.

The story involves a pair of Jedi, master and an apprentice, training younglings to face their fear at an ancient Jedi Temple.  They face down Darth Vader and Kylo Ren in a choreographed lightsaber battle. 

Several kids were completely overjoyed to be participating, but Thomas was one of three or four who hopped at the chance to face Vader.  He was the first to be chosen.  I tried to take video, but the video camera on the phone had gotten jenky with the number of videos I'd taken.  It did not decide to start recording until Thomas's encounter with Vader was done, and he was being led off stage.

I don't know what else to say about the Jedi Training, except that I think I was as happy to watch Thomas do it as Thomas was to participate.

We wandered back to the house to swim after that.  The only thing we hadn't done that I really wanted to do was ride the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which was being built when we visited last in 1993.

We decided to leave it.  We'll come back in a couple or three years to visit Star Wars Land, and perhaps go over to Universal to do the Harry Potter stuff there.  

Friday, I woke up missing Dad quite badly.  I had been off and on all week, but something hit me hard Friday morning.  I never took the time to take a big family trip with Thomas when Dad was still alive.  I regret that.  He would have enjoyed the trip.  Given the number of dimes I found over the week, though, I kinda think he may have been around.

We drove back to Tennessee.  The trip down took us about 9 hours, with relatively few traffic holdups that day.  The trip back up took us 12.5, with multiple hangups around the Florida Georgia Line, and then again between Macon and Atlanta.

We got back, tired, but all pleased we'd gone.  I don't get to see my family enough.  I'm glad we took this opportunity.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Thoughts and whatnot

I turned 41 yesterday.  I celebrated by working like a Botard.  Not a big deal.  I'm not one for making a big deal out of it.  I did get several nice wishes from folks, so that's gratifying.

Today's the day off.  And the last one until March 2, owing to vacations and whatnot.  At least they're all opening shifts.  I've been doing mostly closing shifts since late summer.  It sucks.  Not only do you not get weekends or holidays off, you also don't get evenings.  Now that we have a fourth MoD (we've been essentially short for about a year), I'd like to see that schedule change a bit.  We haven't been able to do anything regularly since the summer.  And that makes me easily aggravated.

Spending the morning finishing up the Defenders series on Netflix.  Part of it was the move, and not having decent internet until the fall, but I keep noticing how much Iron Fist really took me out of the whole little pocket of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that Netflix has created.  I never finished Iron Fist.  It was bad.  It was boring.  It had little of the humor or action and none of the direction of purpose that the first seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage have.  And while I won't comment on the second season of Daredevil, which turded it up a bit, owing to this constant need to put The Punisher into things.

Defenders itself isn't bad, but it feels bland, compared to the others.  It feels too much like Iron Fist, if you wanna know the truth.  And while I like the Elektra aspect, I felt like it needed a bigger bad.  Maybe I'm just so enfatuated with Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin that I want to see him at every turn.

(A sidebar....during last year's Spider-Man: Homecoming, I was sitting next to a guy who was geeking out for every part of the flick.  During the mid-credits sting scene, you hear somebody offscreen yell to Michael Keaton's Vulture, and this guy next to me jumps for joy  And then out of the corner of my eye, you see him visible deflate.  "I was hoping it was the Kingpin," he says to himself.  I laughed, because that possiblity had occurred to me right about the time that he started getting excited). 

Anyway, Defenders isn't bad.  I just wasn't as excited for it as the other Marvel Netflix offerings.  Punisher is out already, but I'm just not all that interested.  A boring character with no arc that I'm interested in.  If I hear enough positive, I may give it a try down the road, but right now, I'll pass....

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Too many dumb shits

We have too many dumb shits in this country.

We have too much dumb gun love.

We have too much want for profitability in things that should just strive to be solvent.

We don't have enough health care.

We don't have enough mental health resources.

We don't pay cops enough.  We don't give the FBI enough resources.

Sorry, gun folks.  I'm telling you this as a guy who respects your right to bear arms:  if you aren't willing to belly up to the bar to help pay the tab on mental health care, to make sure that the FBI and local authorities (who are also paid like shit) aren't shirking their responsibilities when it comes to a guy who's had the cops called on him times running up into the dozens?  Then we gotta start taking some of the guns off the streets.  We gotta start making them harder to get.  We have to make it harder for dumb shits to get guns.  You don't get to yell about Libtards blaming the gun while yelling about cops coming to his house a few dozen times.

You wanna know why those cops didn't do anything more to stop him?  Because they had other shit to deal with, too.  Because they were tired, perhaps.  Because they weren't trained on how to recognize, perhaps.  Or because they didn't want to have to dive into a river of red tape when it comes to getting somebody proper mental health.  Or any combination of those and any other factors up to and including wanting to go home or having to go take a shit.  I'm just guessing.  But when you're risking your life for a pittance?  You're not gonna catch everything.  Should something more have been done one of those times?  As a person who's had the cops called on me less than once?  Yeah, that's excessive.  Something should have been done.  But it wasn't.  And now we have more dead kids.

Should there be accountability there?  Absolutely.  Roll some heads.  Still, it won't unkill those kids, though.  And won't change the fact that we have underpaid cops and federal agents all over this nation who don't have the correct combination of resources and wherewithal to get all the jobs done every time.

If you're a responsible gun owner?  That's great.  That's just swell.

Not everybody is.  They're not all responsible.  They're not all smart.  And worse, they don't all care.  They don't all respect human life.  Sorry.  We got a lot of bad eggs in this country.  I don't think the ratio is actually any worse than at any other time, in fact, oddly, that ratio may be a little better than average, but I just think we have two things working against us:  first, there's a whole helluva lot more of us in 2018 than there was even 30 years ago, and two, we have an echo chamber interweb that lets the crazies find acceptance and cultivation for their crazy ass ideas that wasn't around at this degree even 20 years ago.

I say all that to say this:  if you're not willing to help educate in that regard?  Shut the fuck up.

And if you are?  And those people aren't willing to sit down for an educational process?  Take their fucking guns away.

And don't come at me with some kind of argument about "well what's an assault rifle, Tommy?" or "any gun can be modified" or "even a chainsaw can kill people" because you're not looking to solve a problem, you're just looking to be the smartest guy in the room.  And on a mostly defunct blog called "Stupid" Tommy, that's just low hanging fruit.  You go back to 2002 and get your own goddamn blogamathing and go be the smartest person there.

Although to that last point, let me say this:  A knife is only going to do so much damage before somebody stops the knifer.  The chances of you coming in and knifing 17 people to death before they either stop you or run away is pretty slim, unless you're pretty fit and/or have a good amount of training.  (Which our guy didn't/wasn't) .  The chances of you killing 17 people with a chainsaw is also pretty slim, because chainsaws are pretty fucking heavy, when it comes to waving it around and trying to kill people, despite what Bruce Campbell has shown us (unless you've seen the classic My Name is Bruce, in which even he admits Chainsaws are heavy).

I'm tired.  I'm tired of people hollering about "liberals" do this and "conservatives" do this.  If that's your first, second all the way up to the fourteenth response to this endless cycle of calamity we find ourselves in?  Shut The Fuck Up.  Write your little opinion down on a piece of paper, roll it up really tight, and jam it into your nose until it won't come out.  If you look in a mirror and see a little piece of paper hanging out, you better just push a little farther.

Liberals aren't the bad guy.  Conservatives aren't the bad guy.  Get out of that lizard fight or flight reflex mindset.  Quit trying to turn your neighbor into the bad guy in your own little self-agrandizing superhero drama.

I'm tired.  I don't have an answer.  We need better health care.  We need stricter gun laws.

I don't have time to fix it because I'm working 60 hours a week.

Congress won't fix it.  Hell, somebody came and shot up a Congressional baseball practice last year, and they aren't in any hurry to fix things.  This shooting was hundreds of miles away, and if you turn off your TeeVee?  You don't have to hear about it!

The bottom line is this:  I'm worried.  I'm a 40-year-old middle aged man.  And this shit worries me.  I'm worried that some dumb shit teenager is going to walk into a school where my sister teaches and shoot the place up.  I'm worried that some old disgruntled piece of shit is going to walk into the Senior Center where my friend works and where my Mom does Tai Chi and shoot the place up because somebody turned off Fox News.  I'm worried that somebody will walk into my nephew's school, and shoot a bunch of kids because the cops made them come turn their music down.  I'm worried that somebody will walk into my store, perhaps an employee that I've disgruntled (and here's the rub....I'm in the business of disgruntling teenagers, lately) will decide to shoot my fat ass and the fat asses of everybody there.

So, I dunno.  What's the pragmatic answer?  Learn to run?  Because I'm a decent shot, but I've never been in a firefight.  I've never shot at a person, and I've certainly never been shot at.  So run?  Duck?  I probably need to shed several dozen pounds off my fat ass just to decrease my target?

I guess the last thing I'll say is this, and I echo my friend Sheila:   If I'm ever shot to death, please politicize the hell out of it.  I will not care. In fact, I'd prefer to you to shout it from far and wide that the person who shot me to death probably didn't need the gun he was carrying.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Wandered out to Fall Creek Falls for a few days.  Got a cabin over the water.  Ended up with pretty decent weather...highs in the fifties and sixties.  Was nice, even if it did rain a bit.  All the better...Shyam and I between work and illness have been wandering withing spitting distance of exhaustion since Thanksgiving.  I think we both put 10 hours of the big sleep board between nights and naps in a day...

A couple pictures: 

Frog Eggs we found a a damp ditch.  Gift card added for scale.  They were jiggly....

Mongo and Shyam.

Sunrise, on a Windy Morning

Sunday, January 28, 2018


32 years.

It was a snow day.  Mom had taken me to my sister's babysitter for the day.  One of those moments I'll always know where I was.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thoughts from the Ass End of the Night, Chapter 313, Verse 4

Insomnia night.  The first in at least 6 days.

Two people died this week.  Well, more than two.  It's a big old world with a lot of people.

But two people important to me.

My Aunt Annette passed this past weekend.  Here's her obituary.  I hadn't made all the efforts I probably should have to have gone and seen her the past few years.  Her health had been in decline for a while.  She was a smart, sarcastic woman.  She loved to read.  It was her who introduced me to Harlan Ellison, I do believe.  She read my writing, and encouraged it.  She was a fan of this blog, such as it is, anymore.  I won't get the chance to go visit with her, anymore.  Make the time, folks, because people disappear.

My friend Marty passed a few days later.  His obituary hasn't been posted yet, beyond a blurb from the funeral home.  There might not be much more.  He didn't want a service, beyond being cremated and taken up to the bar one last time.  Marty and I worked together for about five years.  He was a funny guy.  He'd been fighting cancer for a while.  He'd been out from work since September.  He'd been back and forth among the hospital, an assisted living facility and home several times since he took leave.  I still have a book for him on the Cubs that I'd picked up for him for Christmas, and hoped to give to him when he or his son stopped in.

Aunt Annette's funeral is later today.  I can't sleep.  I suppose I'll try here in a bit to lie back down, but will go over to Mom's so we can head up to Bristol at 8.

Marty's makeshift service, a trip to the bar one last time, will be Saturday.  Don't know if I'll make that one.  I'm going to try, but it would take somebody covering for me at work, and don't know if that's going to be able to happen.  Marty, a career retail guy, would probably appreciate the irony.

Work's been tough.  We've been covering for Marty since September.  Since before September, really, with his getting treatment for his cancer.  With his being out, though, most of my shifts have gotten moved to closing.  I'll go in at 1 or 2, and I'll usually get out around 11:30. 

It's made life a little more difficult, lately.  Some days, I feel like I get to see Shyam for a half hour, in the fifteen minutes before she goes to work in the morning, and in the fifteen minutes when I get home...midnight's past her bedtime, most nights.

It's made going to see Mom, or go down to see April or Thomas, or trying to get together with friends difficult.  Almost impossible, some weeks.

Add to that, we're short on help.  I've hired two new folks in the past couple of weeks.  One never showed up for his first day.  The other has called out for his two shifts after the first day. 

I've got more interviews scheduled for later in the week.  We need a couple or three dependable bodies.

The lack of help leads to my next problem at work:  I can't get weekends off here lately.  We don't have enough bodies to stock the deliveries we get, so we have to schedule the grocery manager there during the week.  He's hourly, so he can only work 40.  He'll use up the largest part of his hours working truck, which doesn't leave much time for weekends.

I dunno.  I'm tired.  I'm frustrated.

And it's all that much more aggravating on nights like tonight, when I can't sleep.

Monday, January 08, 2018

The Short Reads project, week 1

The project I gave myself for 2018, at the turn of the year, was to read a short story a day for every day of the year.  This was amended on the sixth day of the year to include short nonfiction, essays and whatnot.  The intent of this was to spend less time scrolling through Twitter and Facebook on my lunch breaks.  I've been working mostly nights, lately, and my lunch break is generally spent in the office, since the rule seems to be the further I get from the store's front end, the more likely it will be that I'm called back to the front.  So, instead of scrolling endlessly through Facespace, I'll just find something to read.

So far, I'm pretty thankful for the Kindle app, as well as which has a lot of public domain stuff.....

The loose rules: 
  • No reading the same author two times in a row, or three times in the same rolling week.
  • No reading from the same anthology two times in a row, or three times in the same rolling week
  • Short stories may come from any source, published, unpublished, online or not.
  • Nonfiction must come from a published source.  (A dubious rule, but in my head, it means vetted by another person, and not something simply that pops up on a blog somewhere....)
Here's what I read in the first week:

January 1      "Night Surf"       Stephen King
January 2      "A Rose for Emily"        William Faulkner
January 3      "Ching Witch!"      Ross Rocklynne
January 4      "I am the Doorway"      Stephen King
January 5      "Bivouac of the Dead"     Ambrose Bierce
January 6     "Twins and Twinning in Stephen King's Dark Tower Novels"   Robin Furth
January 7      "A Lost Masterpiece"         A.A. Milne

Monday, January 01, 2018

Disjointed Thoughts, and the Reads of 2017

Disjointed thoughts on the closing of the year, including what I've read.

2017 finished itself up last night.  We rounded it out playing Cards Against Humanity with friends, and wandering home to watch the ball drop (a statement possibly true on multiple levels, considering it's been wandering down toward single digits at night).  It was actually the first New Year I stayed up to watch in a few years--it's also the first New Years Day I haven't had to open the store in many years. 

2017 was a tough one, and it impacted reading in odd ways.  Dad passing in the Spring, multiple illnesses among co-workers at work, and a handful of other deaths in families led to perhaps the least amount of continuous spare time I've had in a year.  Still, it led to a lot of escape reading.  

Dad's passing also led to a project that'll take a few years, as I started reading through Stephen King's work.  He was a writer we both enjoyed, and talked about.  We didn't talk about books often, but King often came up.  I'm a few books in on that project.

2017 was a lot of work.  In short, I've been working like a Botard for years, but the Botardism was rampant in 2017.  The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons were rough.  Most of my reading was left to the audiobooks I listen to on the way to and from work in the last quarter of the year....

Still, there was a lot of reading overall in 2017. More than any of the past few years.  I finished a move in with Shyam during the late spring and summer, and we spent a decent amount of time without decent internet or TeeVee.  So, I spent a lot more of that spare time reading.  

This list doesn't include a crazy amount of comics I've been reading.  I think there will be a separate post on that....

Anyway, here's a listing of the books and audiobooks I wandered through in 2017:


Shardik          Richard Adams
Post Office           Charles Bukowski
TV: the Book        Alan Sepinwall & Matt Zoller Seitz


TheYard            Alex Grecian
The Lost Sun          Tessa Gratton
The Immortal Irishman       Timothy Egan
Norse Mythology            Neil Gaiman
Gather Her Round          Alex Bledsoe


The Yiddish Policemen's Union            Michael Chabon
Fever Dream              Samanta Schweblin
The Dragon Factory           Jonathan Maberry
Carrie                   Stephen King
Masters of Atlantis             Charles Portis


Rusty Puppy              Joe R. Lansdale
The Cubs Way             Tom Verducci
The BFG                      Roald Dahl
Moby Dick                 Herman Melville


The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini             Reggie Oliver
Station Eleven                 Emily St. John Mandel
Stay Crazy                    Erika Satifka
Anansi Boys                Neil Gaiman


Bird Box            Josh Malerman
Ghost Road Blues                Jonathan Maberry
Brimstone                Cherie Priest
All Quiet on the Western Front              Erich Maria Remarque
Hillbilly Elegy                  J.D. Vance
Gwendy's Button Box            Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
Double Wonderful             John Swartzwelder
Bunker Hill                Nathaniel Philbrick


Salem's Lot               Stephen King
Dark Cities                 Christopher Golden, editor
The Great Terror: a Reassessment        Robert Conquest
Touch                         Courtney Mamm
Inherent Vice               Thomas Pynchon
Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near Year: The Shadow Cinema of the American
'70's                                 Charles Taylor


The Time Machine Did It             John Swartzwelder
Silence                              Shusaku Endo
Redshirts                          John Scalzi
Meddling Kids                  Edgar Cantero
The Shining                       Stephen King
Rage                                 Stephen King  (writing as Richard Bachman)


Ty Cobb:  A Terrible Beauty              Charles Leerhsen
An Unattractive Vampire                   Jim McDoniel
The Vine that Ate the South                J.D. Wilkes
King's Mountain                                 Hank Messick
The Fifty Foot Detective                     John Swartzwelder
The 13 1/2 Lives of Capt. Bluebear          Walter Moers


Busting 'em                                  Ty Cobb
Sleeping Beauties                     Stephen King & Owen King
Jurassic Park                                Michael Crichton
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid              Bill Bryson


The End of the World Running Club                Adrian J. Walker
Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling              Jim Ross, with Paul O'Brien
The Trespasser                                                 Tana French
The Forensic Records Society                          Magnus Mills


The Stand                                         Stephen King
Absurdistan                                     Gery Shteyngart
Star Wars: the Last Command                 Timothy Zahn

A few notes:

  • John Swartzwelder's little self-published novellas were my favorite find of the year.  I've ended up buying a whole set, and sent a few around to a few folks I figured could use a laugh.  They're just silly, and just the right length to read in a sitting or two.
  • I reread the Stand in the late part of the year, on my Kindle.  I've probably re-read it more than any other book. 
  • Meddling Kids was a pleasant surprise.  I didn't want to like it as much as I did.  It's goofy, but has an odd heart.
  • Forensic Records Society was interesting fun.  I'll be looking for more Mills.
  • Leerhsen's biography of Ty Cobb was amazingly good.  Also, Cobb didn't get to go spray fire on the Germans, and it was probably the most laugh-out-loud line from anything I read this year.
  • Other Favorites:  Alex Bledsoe's Gather Her Round, Joe Lansdale's Rusty Puppy, Cherie Priest's Brimstone, Timothy Egan's The Immortal Irishman, Jim McDoniel's the Unattractive Vampire.
  • The two that provoked the most thought:  Endo's Silence, which I end up thinking about once a day or so.  And The Vine that Ate the South, by J.D. Wilkes, is this beautifully grotesque oddity.  It's probably my favorite single thing I read this year....

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Random Thoughts

Day off.  I'm working too much.  I'm working too many nights.  I'm tired of going home exhausted, and feeling like I haven't accomplished a thing.  This feeling comes every holiday season, so maybe it'll pass.  I'm tired of dreading the holidays, though. 

With dad's death, I'm really not feeling it.  I miss him.  Very much.

I find myself envious of my teacher friends who have a couple weeks off.  Makes me wish I'd finished my attempt at going back to school.  Kicking myself over that one. 

Had an odd thought regarding Christmas last night.  Outside of family or church events, I can't recall ever having gone to a Christmas party.  There have been work events, but they're at work, and I don't go unless I'm already going to work, so I don't count them.  I may be wrong, and completely misremembering something.  But I don't think I've ever been to a Christmas party with friends.

Going to see the new Star Wars flick today.  I've managed to avoid spoilers as much as I could.  It means staying off social media, for the most part.  I've come to think of that as The Lost Rule.  In that I couldn't go on Facebook or Twitter the night Lost was on, if I was working, because people can't help themselves...