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 Americanliterature.com 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:

January

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

February

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

March

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

April

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

May

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

June

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

July

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

August

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)

September

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

October

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

November

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

December

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...






Thursday, November 16, 2017

Oddity

I haven't bern sleeping well, lately.  I'm blaming my shifting work schedule, which has me closing the store and working until 11:15 or 11:30 at night three or four nights a week, but also opening the store at 6:45 a day or two a week.  It's pretty regular that there's gonna be a night or two where I'm going to get four or five hours under the best of circumstances.

I closed Tuesday night, and was off Wednesday.  I had trouble sleeping that night, but was able to get a little back since I didn't have too much to do. 

Tonight?

But there's a bit of an oddity tonight.  Easily explained, but giving me the willies nonetheless.

I still have Dad's contact info in my phone.  We've given up that phone number.  We did that back in the summer.  I feel like his number's since been reassigned.  While helping Shyam find her phone last night, I dialed it so it would ring.  After she found it, I must have brushed my finger up against Dad's contact tile, since I still have it in my speed dial.  This was at roughly 10 PM last night.

I got a phone call at 3:37 AM this morning from Dad's phone number.  I answer, but the caller hangs up.

Like I said, a hypothesis other than my Dad calling from the other side is pretty easy to come up with.  I called that person accidentally, and hung up, possibly after they'd gone to bed.  Perhaps they're an early riser who decided a little payback was in order.

Still.  It weirded me out enough that it kept me up.  I read a bit, and decided to blogamathing about it.

This is a tough time of year at work.  Kinda stressful, with bodies being out.  Having weirdness abound isn't my cup of tea, right about now.

Monday, November 13, 2017

XV

Fifteen years ago, I started this blogamathing.  I don't post here nearly as often, but I occasionally pop an odd thought or two.  I am still amazed by the people it's introduced me to, and the friendships it's helped me forge.  I am thankful for the laughs, for the thoughts.

It's been a tough year.  Lots of adjustments.  Dad passed back in the Spring, and that's still a rocky road.  He was one of the blog's biggest fans.  Many of the jokes that showed up here were ones he passed along.  He was a funny guy, and he was one of the people I looked to make laugh, from time to time, with what I wrote here.

Shyam and I moved in together.  That's been relatively easy, though having lived by myself for more than a decade has made me have to adjust certain routines (farting) and habits (more farting).  It's been an internet adjustment, as we went a good part of the year without anything but what internet our mobile phone providers gave.  What we have now is still not great, but it's better than what we had. Hoping the effort at bringing high speed to the rural areas via Volunteer Electric bears fruit some day.  (We're not all that rural, by the way.  We're two telephone poles away from being able to have Comcast.)

Still, I get to live with these goofballs, and I've enjoyed that..




I continue to work like a botard.  We've been short a couple key people at work this fall.  (Fuck cancer, by the way).  Finding two days off in a row is a rarity, here lately.  And being a manager short means picking up more closing shifts, which leaves me punchier than normal, since I also end up with a couple opening shifts.  I'm 40, now, and I can't afford to be losing any beauty sleep, folks.

Still.  We find time to do stuff.

Came in seventh in a Chattanooga City Trivia contest yesterday.  Probably could have done better, but talked ourselves out of a couple answers, and didn't bet enough on the final question.  Still, we crapped the bed at our last City Finals, so we're happy to have played well, even being short a body or two....


Well, now you're up to date on the news from Lake Wobegon, my home town.  Thanks for continuing to read, folks.  I'll keep posting here, from time to time.



Thursday, November 09, 2017

Victory?

I think I finally found that thing to knock the theme song from WKRP in Cincinnati out of my head.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Random Thoughts

First day off after a stretch where I worked 31 hours in a 51 hour period.  Don't ever go salaried in retail, folks.  We've got a couple of key component folks out sick.  We could cover it if one were sick.  Both is a stretch.  While you can make the argument that perhaps, as a company, there should be a body or two floating around to help in such situations, in a publicly traded company, stockholders don't like paying for possibilities.

I'm worn out.  And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about how the next couple of months, traditionally the busiest and most difficult of the year, are going to go.  We could get one or both people back soon.  We could also get them both back after the first of the year.  Hooray

----

The Knoxville Ice Bears have their regular season Home Opener tonight.  Shyam and I gonna head up.  The Ice Bears have a new coach, Jeff Carr.  Excited to see a new look for the team.  The SPHL has been moving away from the Enforcer-heavy style that's been the norm for the league since its inception.  The league's everything but publicly stated goal is to eventually become part of the official feeder system to the NHL.  There's been a change in stance on fighting, including longer penalties and suspensions for instigation, the goal being making the league a more palatable place for NHL clubs to send prospects.

The Ice Bears seemed behind that curve, especially last year.  I'm not generally a "Fire the Coach" guy, especially the unaffiliated minors, but Mike Craigen seemed unable or unwilling to adjust.  The product on ice last year was one that was slower than other clubs, and one that seemed lacking in fundamentals. 

Interested to see if Carr brings a more interesting product to the ice.

----

I re-read Jurassic Park this week.  Read and listened.  It popped up for cheap on the Kindle a few weeks back, and then they said you could add the Audible version for cheap as well.  Blew through it in just a couple or three days.  Still a lot of fun.  I'd give the book an 8 or a 9 out of 10.  Just a great romp.

And, as great as it is, I think I still like the movie better, which is something of an accomplishment.  The movie manages to streamline the story a bit.  It manages to merge a couple characters that really are redundant, and it gives Ellie Sattler more to do, making sure the story isn't much of a White Male Fest.  It also manages to give dimension to Ian Malcolm, whose philosophy in the book grows tiresome, for me, even if I tend to agree with much of what he says.  I tended to append any statement he made with a stoner "Maaann...."

Still, the movie did cut out a couple of the best sequences from Crichton's book....the raft and aviary scenes where Grant and the kids are trying to get back to the compound are some of the book's tensest moments.  I was always glad to see Jurassic Park III finally bring the aviary scene to fruition.

Re-reading this one has gotten me curious about re-reading The Lost World, and perhaps watching the movie again--a flick I disliked enough that I haven't watched it since its release a couple decades ago.  The book had a handful of pretty intense scenes, even if the resurrection of Ian Malcolm felt pretty cheap at the time....

----

I'm also about to finish Bill Bryson's Life and times of the Thunderbolt Kid.  Troy sent that one to me, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it....

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

VHS! VHS! VHS!

Somebody's VHS collection ended up at the Goodwill the other day.  And in 1997, their collection was On Point.  Some good stuff there.  A real film buff.  I wander in there once every week or three to look at books and movies and such, hoping to find something like this.  I think I actually gasped aloud.


I think I owed it to 1997 me to buy that copy of Meet the Feebles.  I was in the midst of a mini-tour of Peter Jackson's stuff, after having watched Heavenly Creatures in a film class.  I knew I'd dug The Frighteners (which my roommate had seen in the theater, but I had not until it popped up at Videoculture).  I'd watched Dead Alive and Bad Taste.  I'd run across people talking about Meet the Feebles, but had never even laid eyes on it.

Videoculture was a minor haven in college.  Lots of good stuff.  Not just porno, though there was that.  A good little video store, staffed with a couple of true film geeks.  It was a fun place.  I've spoken about it before, and when I did I was pointed in the direction of the Videoculture Store on Amazon.  The former owner still owned a bit of the stock, and was selling it there.  I bought a copy of a Leningrad Cowboys tape that I'd rented from them.

I've digressed.

Anyway, in the midst of that Peter Jackson frenzy, I was heading to Videoculture three or four days a week to see if Meet the Feebles was in.  It wasn't.  Until it was.

I watched it.  I liked it, but not in a way that I becoming a frothing maniac about it.  I think I've watched it once since then.

But, I did gasp when I found it at the Goodwill Monday. 

I do have a VCR, but I'm not sure if it works.  I'd have to give it a test toast before I decide to try my 49 cent copy of Meet the Feebles.

Also pictured:  Enemy Mine, another flick in the vein of Hell in the Pacific or Red Sun.  Fun flick.  I like the movie, and the cover.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Internet?

I might have decent internet again.

We'll see.

Update:  Yeah.  I've got internet.  It's not too quick.  May not be able to stream too much.  But it'll do for what ails us....

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Thoughts from the Ass End of the Night, this day, 5 October, 2017

Insomnia night.

The cat keeps using me as a leaning post while it licks its arse.

I have had mostly closing shifts for three weeks. I open tomorrow. My alarm will go off in 78 minutes.

Yesterday was the seven-month Mark since Dad's death. It still hurts. I miss him fiercely. I couldn't figure out, for a second, why I'd pre ordered both the hardcover and Audible.com editions of Stephen and Owen King's Sleeping Beauties. Then I remembered that I'd pre ordered the hardcover to give to Dad for Christmas. So. That was a minor mind fuck.

Due to vacations and people being out sick, I'm working 15 of 16 days. And I'm in a mini stretch where I'm working 40 hours in a 74 hour stretch.

Maybe that's where the fucking Insomnia comes from.

I will miss the bulk of Hysterics at Eric's, a gathering of current and former bloggers due to this work stretch. I'll make it for evenings, but open every morning, so I can't stay late.

I've been lucky most years.


Monday, September 25, 2017

A thought

Flag waving Nationalism and the marginalization of "non-Patriots" are benchmarks of Fascism.

Be a patriot. That's fine.

Demanding that people act any specific way is not.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

The Reads of 2017

Big changes and whatnot.  No internet, yet, at the new Casa de Big Stupid Tommy.  Comcast, that beautiful multi-billion dollar media conglomerate, can't find it in its capacity to move a transmission line up two telephone poles.  So, we're in the process of finding an alternative.  We've gotten a digital TV antenna, so we've got Jeopardy (important) and all the Andy Griffith and Mama's Family re-runs on MeTV (even more important) that you could ask for.

There's been lots of reading.  Up to mid-May, when the move was commenced, I was averaging three or four books a month.  A bit low, for me, early in the year, but it's been a tough year.  "Real life" and all that.

Still, here's  a quick listing of what I read or listened to during the first half of 2017:

January

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

February

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

March

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

April

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

May

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

June

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 & Richard Chizmar
Double Wonderful             John Swartzwelder
Bunker Hill                Nathaniel Philbrick

Currently, I'm in the process of finishing Robert Conquest's The Great Terror, which I've muddled through.  It's actually the first book in a while I've had to set aside because it was affecting my state of mind. Nightmares, to be sure.  I can't leave it be, though.  Fascinating stuff, that look at the horrors of Stalin.  It gave me nightmares.  I should finish it in the next week.

I'm also listening to Salem's Lot, as my work commute.  After re-reading Carrie, I got it in my head to work back through King's work.  It's a minor project that should last me the next decade.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

June

Moving sucks.

Working with a skeleton crew at work sucks. (Come to work, America).

Other than that, life is good.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Random Thoughts

Busy couple of weeks.

There was Predators playoff hockey.  Tickets were bought early in the morning (like, 4:45ish) after the Predators swept the Blackhawks.  I'd never been to an NHL playoff game.  The energy was amazing.  The Predators won 2-1, and would go on to win the series last weekend to hit their first Western Conference Final.  They won game 1 against Anaheim last night, which was a nice way to start vacation.

Vacation week.  Finishing the move, which has become a much longer process than either of us might have thought.  We wanted to get this done in March.  Dad's passing put a hitch in that.  Then, her busy season started a week or three earlier than it usually does, thanks to unusually warm temperatures.  We were busier than anticipated (and a little more shorthanded) at work.  My landlord has been cool about this.

We'll finish up with the heavy stuff this week.  My smaller stuff is already over at Shyam's place.

Part of the moving has involved these guys:














They're old Pepsi standees we used at Halloween several years back.  I liked them, and kept them.  Used them a couple years to decorate, but for the most part they stayed folded up at the back of my bedroom closet.  I'm giving them to a buddy later this week, but I've left them set up in my living room.  No less than three times have I come into the house and nearly had a heart attack because of these goofballs standing there.

We wandered out to Guardians of the Galaxy, volume 2 this week.  It's only the second movie I've gone to see since Dad passed.  And it's the second (Logan, being the first) that involved a lot of father stuff.  There were a few tears on my part.  That's just me.  I'm a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general.  Big mark, me.  So I can forgive a lot.  But I liked this one on a lot of levels, the same as the original Guardians.  Largely because it isn't as beholden to the continuity of the other works, and it just does its own thing....