Hello Kitty (Again), or, Manliness

Readers who have been with me for long enough remember my quirky fondness for Hello Kitty, the mouthless Japanese cat who is now rapidly approaching menopause.

What happened was, I was in Gold’s this morning with the Cute Engineer, and he does find the culture of the gym entertaining at times but the giggles overtaking him seemed extreme even so, and I asked him: what? And he indicated a Mini Cooper car — a make of auto that he quite fancies, as it happens — parked outside the floor-to-ceiling front windows.


Zooming in:



You will notice that a magnetic sign on the door advertises the services of a US real estate firm by the name of Coldwell Banker. Which means nothing, really, other than it was the firm I initially employed in my search for my first and present and please God only house I am never going through that again, and it was not good, but maybe it was just that agent, fine, but anyway we continued back to the free weight room to do single leg supported squats and there was a Dire, Bulky, Unsmiling, Rugged Bastard heaving away between two cable stacks, attired in a T-shirt with the same logo, Coldwell Banker.


Wife’s car, maybe?

I didn’t say Hello Kitty to him. Out loud.

Follow The Bouncing Ball

First of all, rumors of my disappearance or abduction are greatly exaggerated. Considerable drama has occurred. Some of this occurred in last night’s evening at the movies.

1. Fashion Victims

For reasons known only to himself, my Cute Engineer cannot go to a film without buying an overpriced box of the confection known as Milk Duds at the concession stand. This entailed an asphyxiating wait in line before a counter from which festered and festooned the rank scent of faux butter being sprayed onto quantities of popcorn. Seriously, this was an olfactory assault at the level of Lewisite or tear gas. Turning round in hopes of a gulp of less contaminated air, I beheld the line of fellow customers, the females among whom were uniformly attired in Spandex so tight as to outline their buttcracks or, for variation’s sake, jeans rent and savaged until they resembled the mesh barriers strung between armatures that one sees at construction sites. One woman in an ill-fitting bra wore a strange split tunic depending over such a denim garment, made of a transparent fabric such that, well, I mentioned that her bra was ill-fitting.

2. Product Placement

You cannot just go and see a movie nowadays. When I was a pup, you had newsreels and cartoons. Now you have relentless advertisements for television series, Coke, smartphone apps involving the movie theater franchise, Coke, public-service announcements telling you to turn off your smartphone, animations telling you that the feature is on its way and you should buy a Coke, helpful reminders about walking not running to the nearest exit in case of emergency featuring Langolier-like bodiless heads sucking on Cokes, and Coke. Did I mention Coke?

After about three announcements featuring this movie chain’s bouncing bodiless heads I was ready to annihilate any soccer ball I met for the next few years.

3, But I Did Like The Dragons

If only because the animator was obviously a cat person. Look at the first minute here and tell me I’m wrong if you dare.

Ignore everything after about 1:04. I can’t be arsed to figure it out; I’m too busy not being abducted.

I want a dragon.

4. But I Didn’t Buy A Coke

I had no reason to because I closed my eyes after one too many installments of the bouncing animated whatchmajigs.

I had already learned ten and more years ago that the crap “announcements” before today’s film features were a certain precipitator of sick and nauseating headaches. The last time I had the tiniest sip of Coke was after the premiere of “Red Dragon” in 2002, when  was unwise enough to watch the visual effects welcoming me to that particular theater — full of looping, swooping and sideswiping. In the words of someone or other, “I suddenly, and violently, vomited.”

Cola syrup is quite the nostrum for this problem.

This may or may not explain the pre-feature features. Their own antidote, more or less.

There’s a reason I stay home and watch it on disc.

First GM, Now This

I have only ever been involved in one product recall before, and it was for a mechanism called the igniter on Melissa, my old and wonderful Civic Wagon, which by the time the recall was issued had already crapped out expensively on the apron of the swimming-pool parking lot.

This one was different.

Bubble Knob

Yes, as the .pdf at the link will explain, this glass drawer pull has the potential to shear off and take with it a bit of your fingertip, god forbid, considering my occupation, I have two of them in service and another spare in the drawer, or anyway had until I got the notice and restored the drab old wooden pulls that came with the desk . I like things that reflect and refract. My windows are full of crystals and my sun porch is spangled with colored glass vases and candleholders, and my drawers (no jokes please) were similarly ornamented until this evening.

I guess I’m glad one commercial chain is looking out for its customers.

The Burper

I noticed him first about a week ago when I was warming up: a small, trim, well-muscled man probably in his sixties, with light black skin and neat grooming, attired in a cutoff muscle shirt reading “Drug Free Sports” and the kind of wide-striped gym baggies they used to sell about twenty years ago. A lifer. I like to see those.

I almost caught his eye to chat when I found we were crisscrossing through the Hammer plate loaded equipment, though like everyone else, he was wearing those damn earbuds that have made casual social interaction a quaint relic of the past.

Then he burped. Deeply, sonorously, and it seemed unthinkingly, the way you blink.

“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” I responded. The earbuds: he didn’t notice.

Shortly after he burped again. And again. He burped while loading plates and stripping the bar. He burped walking along the aisles between the equipment.

I passed him again today. Shortly thereafter I heard the same robust, melodious, unselfconscious burp.

I Googled “uncontrollable belching” and found that there are people who do exhibit it pathologically and idiopathically, and don’t leave the house because they’re so embarrassed by it. Lifters are a different animal though. We really do not care as long as we get to the gym.

No one else seems to mind, happily for him. After some of the places I’ve worked out, my gross-out threshold is way above this, but it can make you jump.

Crusader Squirrel

Agatha’s tail was lashing so furiously that I knew something was outside the window, but this was a bit of a surprise.


The squirrel was chillin’ so insouciantly that I, and the bathrobe-clad client (a cat lover, serendipitiously) who had come out to see, were a bit worried he might be ill or hurt. But no, he was just there to mess with Aggie’s head, at some length and with apparent unconcern about the humans looming over her.


A second after I got this shot he broad-jumped into the holly bush and disappeared from sight. Ours anyway. Aggie kept on staring.

“Is there an extra charge for this?” my client asked as she returned to the massage room.

“Entertainment is complimentary,” I said.

The Kraken

If you are old enough, you saw The Blob, right? Or even Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? Or… well… you read (please tell me you READ the thing, vs. “I saw the movie”) Stephen King’s “IT”?

What it was, was there was a sound from the cellar, just as I was about to leave for the gym.


Only an insurrection in the plumbing makes that noise. I ran down the possibilities in my head; no load in the washer; dehumidifer shut off because it shit the bed two days before, but that’s another story; water heater, well, I was recently put on notice that it was twelve! years! old! which hardly jolted me given that the previous one had made it to about thirty, but… well… they don’t make anything like they used to…

I crept gingerly down the stairs, in case the actual Kraken or some similar aqueous horror lurked below (I have not forgotten Kilrat, either, for what it’s worth).  No sign of tentacles in the laundry area. I approached the washtub cautiously with my breath held. Burblebababblup. The sound was coming directly from the tub. I let in a breath. Bad idea. A mephitic exhalation that combined compost, sulfur and well-matured urine ballooned from the drain.

I flipped on the tap. A slight agitation in the drain gave way to a blessed abortion of the stink. I waited a bit. Nothing happened.

I could call the County and ask what was up, I reasoned, and spend the next half hour on Hold and miss my workout, or I could just cut and run and hope the house didn’t blow up, and you know me so you know which way I voted. It was just lucky that I cut back through the hood to get to the gym, and there was a giant Works truck surrounded by an orange Conehenge with a lime-vested functionary waving traffic to either side.

I slowed as I passed. “You doing something with the drains?” I asked.

Flag Dude all but danced from foot to foot as he explained. “Yeah, we clearin’ the sewers so you don’t have crap backin up in the house like in DC! We takin’ care of you here!” I had heard a bit about such incidents  in past months, but, so sue me, I can’t find any news items. The capital of the United States has seen flying gas main covers and the like in recent years, so I am ready to believe anything. Apparently the hard suction they were using had pulled the water out of the washtub U-bend. Who knew.

“As long as I don’t have a giant squid in my basement,” I told him.

I don’t need any more grief than life gives me already, but way in the back of my brain, I kind of wish I had fought the Kraken. Oh well.