Some Days Are Full Of Stupid

For starters, it was the Christmas decorations. Anyone who knows me knows I am the baby that Scrooge had with the Grinch, but this year, exhausted by the damn election, I did not really have the energy to animadvert. Until:

There were signs of industry around my neighbor’s house early yesterday — yes, those neighbors, the ones who dropped a tree on my house, crashed into my car, leave nastygrams on my friends’ windshields for parking legally in front of my own house. It looked like someone was cleaning the yard or maybe servicing the heat pump and I thought no more of it. Until I got back to the house from the gym.

The bushes were filled with oversized, tacky colored balls, a swag of white icicles depended from the entire width of the front gutter, vulgarly immense pots of poinsettias crowded all the space around the front porch, gigantic red bows sprouted from the roof dormers. A huge sign, about four by five feet, supported between two six-inch treated-wood posts, advised all comers that “DECORATE A VET” had visited and adorned this worthy veteran’s house for the holidays.

I suppose everyone honors service in his own way. I am not sure whose idea this was, but there was more to come, as when I returned again from an excursion after dark, the entire fandango was lit up like, well, like a Christmas tree, including the balls on the bushes, which now burned with a sinister inner light, like one of those cottages in Thomas Kinkade paintings, or the scrotum of some creature that ended up on the cutting room floor of Fantastic Beasts. The icicles were likewise illuminated. There was enough electricity running through that yard to power a field hospital in Aleppo. You could read the newspaper by it. Planes could probably navigate by it.

This morning it was all still there. I had not dreamed it.

Late to the gym, accosted by chatty people who had done their workout, I was finally gearing up in the kettlebell room when a gaggle from the Zumba class began milling about in an odd way, as if trying to find a place for a picnic. Finally they homed in on my vicinity. Of course. An indecently earnest woman leapt into my face and asked “Do you want to be part of a mannequin challenge?”

“No,” I said expressionlessly.

“Great!” she said. “Here, take these ropes and stand like you’re working them.”

(This is the fitness rope that you loop around a convenient upright and work up and down until your arms get tired. It is not a bad cardio thingy.)

I perceived that the subtext involved showcasing one of my favorite in-house trainers, who taught me kettlebells, so I sighed and picked up the ropes, freezing in full flexion. Three minutes and a bicep charleyhorse later, they got the hell over it. I think it’s on Facebook. Possibly the best part is the housekeeping lady aiming a spray bottle of cleaner into mid-air, as if about to neutralize the camera woman with it. I miss The Weight Room, where if anyone had waved a fitness rope at you proposing a mannequin challenge (had such a thing existed in that now-remote era), no one would have batted an eye while you tied them securely to the hack sled.

I did find a way to stack chest flyes onto one-arm rows and alternating shoulder presses, which I will say makes you puff, but not for nearly long enough. When I got home — workout-deprived and flying — my first client had cancelled at the last minute. Again. She’s always good for a check, but, well, fuck.

I guess it takes my mind off politics.

 

Notes From My Absence

I really have to come back. I have not missed a workout, but since the US election I have been sleeping a lot and throwing up sort of regularly. Not a joke. Really throwing up.

Life goes on nonetheless.

Do Not Drop Shit On Yourself

This is really good advice for anyone. On Election Day, after voting

img_20161108_1039061, I looped around to the gym for a chest and back workout. Lately I have been hucking a pair of 45#s on my last set and for some reason, that day, the weights went down cattywumpus and the left hand dumbbell decided to teeter and crash onto my pinkie finger, the one where I always wear a ring, since like forever, long story, but the latest ones have been adjustable copper rings on account copper leaches into your system and supplements the enzyme that blocks Substance P, which is a pain neurotransmitter… oh well. Some pain got transmitted. The ring flattened into a narrow oblong,

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one end dug into my flesh, I managed to wrench it off, and double-timed up to the front desk to ask if there was an ice pack available.

Great kerfuffle ensued and one of those gizmoes was produced that, on sufficently vengeful smashing, turns into an icy gelpack which I wrapped around my pinkie while the gym manager worked his way down a form. “Were there any witnesses to the incident?” he read off the sheet. “Buggered if I know, I just dropped a weight on myself because I’m a klutz, I didn’t look around,” I said.

“Do you want an ambulance?” he asked gravely.

“The fuck?” I responded.

“I have to ask, it says here,” he explained.

We finished the form, and I went back and finished my sets.

That is sort of an omen for life going forward.

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For the curious, I worked every appointment I had booked, it actually doesn’t hurt, unless you squeeze it. Periosteal bruise is my best guess. The ring either saved me or savaged me.  I’m keeping it on my desk.

Tough Redheads

My passion for Star Trek led me to a CGI animated fan film whose hero is a badassed redhead prone to starting fights (with Klingons, even). I can relate. I am in a mood to start fights right now.

I Had A Birthday

I am now, by US law (for as long as it lasts) eligible to collect a pension should I choose. I am really kinda good for some years of pummeling butt, so I didn’t apply, but it is awesome to be recognized by people like Azahar,  who engineered the provision of a buttload of incredible sherry through the agency of the store that, funnily enough, in its earlier incarnation offered my first shit-job out of college forty years ago.

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We drank it with a birthday dinner that followed a late-afternoon screening of Dr Strange, hey, Benedict Cumberbatch stripped to the waist, what’s not to like? I think I am going to be hiding in a lot of fantasy universes for a while, such as…

Fantastic Beasts

I hate Thanksgiving, that American holiday sacred to gluttony and familial teeth-gritting, but the day following (having evaded gluttony and gritting) we did enjoy this.

You get adult (in the best sense) ideas, and a Polish Jew in 1920’s New York who can bake, and the Thunderbird. The one who belongs in the sacred lands of the First Nations. I wept.

I even refrained from starting a physical altercation with some yuppie twat who brought her toddler kid into the restaurant where we had settled on our pre-film dinner, fired up her FaceTime app and indulged in a loud kid-assisted conversation with some distant family cohort. Hello, asshole. The whole restaurant does not want to hear your Precious Sneauflake blatt or your relatives blather.
But, y’know. I could be watching the movie or I could be in the police station across the street, trying to think of magical ways to erase these philoprogenitive scumsuckers from time and history.

Hanging in for a future. Watch this space.

 

 

 

 

 

Babylon 5

If you are not familiar with this serial sci-fi drama, now would be the time. Specifically, the plotline that chronicles the manipulated accession of President Clark, who engenders the Earth First movement, which demands evidence of Terran loyalty in the context of a great intersection of cultures…

The show examines the impositions on civil liberties under the pretext of greater defense against outside threats which aid its rise, and the self-delusion of a populace which believes its moral superiority will never allow a dictatorship to come to power, until it is too late.[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylon_5#cite_note-28]

I live in walking distance (for me; I am a fucking walking machine) of the White House so this sort of speculation is not trivial to me at this point in history. Is there an Agamemnon and is there a Captain Sheridan out there? Or is everyone in the United States of America prepared to roll over and play dead?

Dover Beach

I have been sparse in the last weeks and months. Not all, but some of that owed to nail-biting over the election.

So here we are.

I don’t know what we do tomorrow. It’s not clear yet who in America will suffer most, or what government actions will most require our outcry. I am only here, in the improbable company of Matthew Arnold:

The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Dons

This afternoon I scrubbed my usual roster of Saturday victims and we hit the Metropolitan Opera HD broadcast of Don Giovanni.

I haven’t seen a full production for thirty years or more and I had forgotten everything but the high points. When I think of Giovanni, I usually smile; because of the lively Catalogue Aria (I’ve been known to refer to my own mille e tre); because of Zerlina’s masterful management of her jealous bridegroom after the Don courts her; because of the broad farce — flimsy disguises, walking statues, the iconic longsuffering manservant.

Only. For one thing, Simon Keenlyside’s Don was not the young nobleman who’d be put upon to rack up all those conquests, just as a matter of scheduling alone; he was a man well into the march toward middle age and cynical with it. His cry that he could not give up women, who were more vital to him than breath, had a desperate urgency. And his inflection of the Don’s lechery — that women were all his whenever he chose to covet them — put a shiver up a spine shaken by this campaign season.

You can say “I love the peasant girls — I’ll have another ten tonight” in this way or that. I kept coming back to

Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

There in the movie theater, centuries of I have the money and the land/property and the credibility and the woman over there has next to nothing and I can do what I want came crashing on my head and the music was suddenly terrible.

I played this over again when I got home.

Is It Just Me?

Am I the only person who is depressed and disgusted that Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize in… Literature?

Does the word even mean anything any more?

I was never going to reach even the bar of being published for money, much less the Nobel committee, but this is like a shitbag in the face to anyone who ever sweated blood trying to make a work of fiction into a solid and living thing, or went back to a cycle of poetry year after year, shaping it like a bonsai tree.

I guess all of us who ever wanted to build something worthwhile out of words ought to just go fuck ourselves, or learn to sing in an abrasive, obnoxious tone of voice.

Why Is Anyone Surprised?

The festival of shock and pearl-clutching that followed taped revelations of Donald Trump’s tackiness-to-women-in-his-own-voice astonished me. The man has shown us amply who and what he is, in one recorded utterance after another; really, did it take the word “pussy” to stun the Republican establishment, or anyone else?

More to the point: given the winks and nods to people who behave like Mister Trump over decades of the twentieth century, why is this news?

Oh, let’s go down the memory hole.

For my sins in another life, my French-hornist father wanted me to play the oboe. He got me an oboe teacher from one of his fellow Armed Forces bands. Talented motherfucker. I still have a physical memory of him standing behind me, “checking my diaphragm support,” and rubbing an erection against my hindquarters until I stamped my heel accurately into his instep. I was sixteen. I still have the oboe but I never really enjoyed playing it again. And no, I did not bring this up at home, where I was already apparently the cause of everything bad. Welcome to reality.

I had a piano teacher too, another family friend. She left me alone for a quarter hour with a house guest whose wife was somewhere upstairs. He felt overly friendly. I torqued his hand away from where his hand did not belong with main strength.

Sixteen.

My first “shit job” after college was in a cheese and wine shop, where I learned a heck of a lot about two subjects that interested me and still do, and a good deal about what multiply married and divorced men do when they are in a position to hire underpaid females. Copping a feel in the cheese cooler was not really the worst of J. Numbnuts [not his real name] Carver’s vices; he was just a nasty human being. But, yeah, trying to cop a feel in the cheese cooler. His wife was in the office doing the accounts, a lot of good it did as he never could get the place in the black and spent his afternoons drinking Gallo in a trailer out back. Oh well.

Second shit job: Southwestern jewelry store with a family connection. Run by a couple employed at the Pentagon. She was a full blooded Native American who would go out on the rez and negotiate for amazing works of craft. He was a double-dipper colonel who was never more than two drinks away (and there was always booze in the back of the shop, and no one questioned that business model) from sticking his hand up a skirt and into underpants. Family connection, as I said. I quit wearing skirts at all, good decision, actually.

Third shit job: trade association where I was told I would do dogsbody work in the office, not any accounting, and was immediately given a petty cash box to reconcile. My supervisor was a preening bitch who took against me and immediately announced she would make it her business to run me out of the office. Larry worked across the hall and was the only person who was nice to me — a mature married man. The day I left the job a month later, not being interested in office girl fight crap, he wandered in as I was cleaning out my desk, grabbed me and pinched my nipple, and tried to stick his tongue in my mouth. He must have never cleaned his teeth; they had fur on them. I just walked and kept walking.

Fifteen and some years later, in business for myself, I had a fresh-faced Libertarian lawyer as a client — someone who had pled cases before the Supreme Court. Anita Hill was in the headlines, and I remarked in response to his scoffing, “Of course, all we have is he said and she said, but I know how it feels.” He sat bolt upright on the table. “Something like that happened to YOU?” he said.

“And every other woman I know,” I answered.

And let’s think about this: since adolescence I have been, conspicuously, someone who can chuck folding chairs off the back of a truck or heave packing cases all day, someone who could arm-wrestle a younger man to a draw. Because that was something I liked. Other people like other things. What do less physically ambitious women do?

People are shocked, shocked — on either side of the aisle — about Trumpy Gropeys? Really?