Not Little Nemo

For those who don’t get the reference, “Little Nemo In Slumberland” was a classic comic strip involving a child protagonist who had a series of weird but fairly sentimental dream adventures.

Then there’s this. Props to the Engineer, a webcomics geek, for cuing it up after the 1300th time I woke up in the morning and told him about my weird dream.


I have been getting early morning stress dreams more and more recently. I wake up taut as a guy wire and feeling as if I’m trying to break out of six restraints at once. Today, I dreamed I was interned in some sort of residential school/prison and that a few people had organized a plan in which I and another inmate, a lanky light skinned young black man, would escape. We had to have our “go bags” ready but avoid risk of their being detected in a locker check — there was some sort of kerfuffle about the combination locks — and the escape was timed for midnight on a specific night, something to do with the security schedule. I got my clothing and supplies all stuffed into a small rucksack. The time hit and we moved, aided by someone who was something like the facility nurse. I was focused on connecting, on the outside, with former FBI director and current hot-headline memoirist James Comey, whom I have apparently internalized as the personification of straight-arrow authority ready to help people in flight from evil state oppression. (He’s a bit of a diva, and I will never figure out what the hell he was thinking with the Clinton matter, but probably that characterization’s not far off.)

I just wish I could draw like Lackadaisy.


homenaje a rosa

I don’t reblog often, but this is a small jewel that the fabulous Azahar shared with us.

There can be so much history, beauty and thought in an old person’s face. I tend to be allergic to “feelgood” stories, but this is a good one, and you don’t need to understand the language.

casa azahar

I can’t find a way to embed this so you’ll have to click through to this twitter feed and watch it there – it’s worth it! Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you will understand it. Rosa and her husband have had to leave their home of 40 years in Jerez, due to her husband’s failing health. She said she was leaving her beloved barrio with a heavy heart, until…

Homenaje a Rosa

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OK, this is bullshit.


Background: It is now high tree pollen season in the Tidewater, a beautiful time of year distinguished by blowing blossom, temperate breezes and the complete impaction of my sinuses. For a month now, I have been practicing the disgusting morning ritual of boiling water, mixing a solution of baking soda and Himalayan salt, putting about a quart of it in an old fashioned red rubber douche bag, sticking the hose up one nostril and letting it rip, swapping nostrils half way through. We will not discuss the precise nature of what emerges. It’s the only way I can get through the day, but it works a treat — no sneezing, sniffing or stuffiness.

The magic bullet of this is a quick douse of decongestant spray a minute or two before you open the sluice — trickled into your nose, not sprayed, with head tilted back. Believe me the stuff tastes disgusting, but it opens all the crevices, and the immediate rinse keeps you from getting the rebound congestion that is a problem with these nostrums. Of course, this goes through a lot of it, so yesterday I opened a new three-pack of the stuff. The outer box instructed me to Push Down And Turn on the Safety Cap, which I presume is there so some kid does not go through a whole bottle of the stuff at once and decongest to death — it’s impossible to imagine someone actually drinking it.

I pushed. The neck of the plastic bottle bent, and the lid went round and round fruitlessly.

The Engineer wandered by, and gave it a try. “Design flaw,” he said, which is something engineers like to say when they can’t get shit to work. I had to agree though.

After a few more tries he went to the utility room and brought back a large and small channel lock wrench, a strap wrench and a pair of pliers. A few struggles using the small channel lock got the outer lid off, leaving the inner clear plastic lid, which was too small and slick for the channel lock and required the pliers. The spray nozzle popped off with it, but snapped back in after the Engineer retrieved it from across the room.

So there it was, ten minutes  and two different tools for an engineer and a weightlifter to get into a bottle of SAFETY SEALED… nasal spray.

I can see a bottle of prescription Valium maybe, or a drowsy nostrum like Benadryl, needing a safety seal, But Afrin? Really? This has gotten out of control.

Seriously, in general, I have mostly scorn for this habit of kid-proofing everything. I shout curses inside my car every time i have to stop for a school bus with the flashing red lights and Stop sign that bring traffic to a  halt in BOTH directions at every stop, not just because in These Our Times every mommeee has to come meet the bus, greet her child, greet the driver and ask how Precious’s day was before the next mommeee steps up to the bus door in turn and does the same thing, while your hair grows. FFS if they are old enough to ride the bus, they are old enough to know to look both ways before crossing the street, and if they don’t, I’m a firm believer in Darwin in such instances. Same with all these safety sealed mouth washes and God knows what else. If some child is enough of a dimwit to chug it, let nature take its course, I say.

When I was eight, we lived next door to a family with three children — a girl about my age with the lively mind of a sweet potato and the mean streak that usually goes with that kind of drab intellect; and fraternal twins about five years younger, who were bluntly dumber than a box of rocks. I don’t think I ever heard the boy say anything but “Huh?” My father was heard to remark to guests that “the people next door have retarded twins” — this was the 1960s when no one expected you to use precious circumlocutions — and I don’t know if they were, clinically, but there didn’t seem to be much upstairs but cole slaw. One day the boy was found eating a box of moth balls and apparently actually did utter the words “Good candy,” leading to drama on the block with an emergency rush to get his stomach pumped. Though this is possibly an argument that some kid would, if left to it, drink a tot of Afrin, I defy anyone to argue that the world would have been a poorer place if they had left him alone with the moth balls.

So for crying out loud, Bayer Healthcare. And Bristol Myers and all you other people. Give us a break. I shouldn’t need a toolkit to get into a bottle of allergy medicine, which, by the way, I now can’t exactly seal again, though it will be OK as long as it sits upright. Just, if I ever meet the guy that designed this travesty, something is going up his nose, and it won’t be decongestant.



The Evil “P” Place

Costco is one of life’s necessary evils. Well, fundamentally, it isn’t evil. I shop there two or three times a year — and not at other warehouse stores — because Costco, formerly Price Club, has a track record of treating employees well and good citizenship generally, something that can’t be said for the Wal-Mart affiliates of the world. It’s just that, between the death-trap parking lot and the crush of people and the sensory inundation of acres of fluorescent-lit aisles, I go in there like someone making a foray into No Man’s Land in 1916 or so, not quite with my bayonet in my teeth but damn close. When I was dating my Albino Ex, who loved economies of scale even if it meant keeping a gallon of mustard in the refrigerator for four and a half years, he dubbed it the Evil “P” (for Price Club) Place in honor of my hostile-territory approach.

The place is the size of the Air And Space Museum, for one thing, and about as easy to navigate as the Chartres Labyrinth. Especially now, with a handful of spots in my legs that never, ever stop hurting, trundling that SUV-sized cart up and down is a penitence even when the place doesn’t look like Hong Kong at rush hour. You have to go through complicated rituals with the membership card and the parking ticket and your receipt, and half the time, at my local store, the parking lot exit bar won’t work and an ancient gentleman in a reflective vest has to shuffle out of his fishbowl work station and manually release me. And there is always, guaranteed, at least one wretched infant or toddler in there who starts uttering that hitching, howling, poor-me-I’m-not-happy-fix-it-NOW wail that falls somewhere between a fire klaxon and a pig being killed. This always awakens in me a volcanic, barely suppressible urge to bring a brain-rattling bitch-slap or five right up out of my hip pocket. Not a recipe for inner peace.

But I go there, because for one thing I run a business out of my place and people getting bodywork always want to pee first and the only sane strategy is to go buy a couple of those 48-count pallets of bog roll and hope it lasts till the next time I can face the place. Also, they make my glasses for about a quarter the cost at my optometrist’s.  I just steel myself.

Today was oddly calm for the week before Easter; I couldn’t put it off any longer, but I was gloomily resigned to a demolition derby. In fact it was empty by Costco standards, there was only one screeching toddler, and the card checker at the entrance wished me a good holiday. I had already tried to forget about it, and did a double take.

The cashier wished me a good holiday too. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I always keep my head down until holidays are over.

On the way out, the lady who always looks at your receipt to make sure you haven’t boosted something glanced into my cart at the case of Port City IPA — a nice local Belgian — that was my impulse purchase of the day.

“Only one box beer for holiday then?” she said in a lilting Asian accent.

Go figure. If Easter has become a beer drinking holiday there may be hope.

Stick ‘Em Up

OK, this thing is the everlasting balls.


It is called, succinctly, the Massage Gun, and it pretty much is what it says on the can. I think it probably evolved from a kludge job on a power chisel (stick “massage gun” into the YouTube search field and you will see what I mean), only instead of a chisel there is a hard rubber ball on the business end. It pummels your muscles with several zillion turbocharged percussions a minute, sounding and feeling, from the handle end, a lot like an electric hedge clipper. You literally see the flesh rippling out from the point of impact as if someone were dribbling a Superball off a dish of Jello.

So far, only the Minotaur and I can take this. Oh, and the Engineer, who is built for comfort not for speed and needs at least a four pound maul to get through to his muscles most days.

It was actually the Minotaur who tipped me off. He is a Masters competitor in Olympic lifting, with a string of records and a state Hall Of Fame to his credit, and lately I have been having to wale on him every blessed week because there’s a competition coming up. One day he described using a gadget like this — several companies are in the market now — at the power gym where he goes through his paces, starting with things like squatting five hundred pounds for triples. Oh yeah.

Someone had told him this product was the best bang for the buck. Well, as John Carter of Mars says so often in the books, with me, to think is to act. At least. to see this thing demonstrated on the website’s video was to click the Order button.

I’ve tried it on a half dozen clients and they all yelled something like “Uncle!” or “Christmas!” after around five seconds. Me. I put my feet up after a hard day’s work. brace that baby against the wads and knots of chronic pain that nothing else seems to reach in my thighs (in my business, the junkies become the dealers, and I’m having trouble finding capable dealers), and let it rip. The cats think it is a weird purring animal.

I think the LED over the percussion ball is a nice touch. Sort of like the laser sight on the Engineer’s cordless jigsaw that helps you make an exact cut, even though with this baby, you really have to go by feel. No one on this earth has a precision ass.



Viking’s Funeral

There’s no gentle way to lead into it. Torvald Einar Magnussen, the magnificent FloofViking, the most lovable complete dick ever to inhabit a feline body, has been welcomed into Valhalla.

I had been wanting to post something lately about the Miracle Kitty, as Dr. Cohn called him, a survivor who lived two and a half years past the rough life expectancy of cats who’ve been diagnosed with his kind of heart condition. He just was not having it. We were sure he was a goner twice, the right medication combination took shape, he accepted it every morning and evening with a stoic mien and a thought balloon that said “fuck you with extreme prejudice,” and kept on keeping on.


Torvald On Platform

2009 (probably) – 2018

Last night was no different. He took his pills, let me kiss his nose (a fairly reckless thing for me to do considering that he once nearly took my face off), ambled out to dig the night noises on the porch, and eventually allowed himself to be herded off to bedtime in the basement with his buddy Agatha, the only cat who can be around him without getting relentlessly chased, rassled, body-slammed, and in various ways battered in the style of a Klingon wedding night. He’d been jumping up in my lap nightly — kind of a new thing, so far as frequency — dicking Aggie out of the heatybed, scooting up and down stairs at a clip with his big, fuzzy, jodhpur-like caboose double-clocking, demanding kibble every few hours, obstructing the hall when my clients entered and demanding pettings, which usually led to the most pronounced elevator-butt reaction I’ve ever seen in a cat. Some of my clients I’ve had to block in a little extra time for so they could pet Torvald.

The Engineer went down to put out food in the morning as he always does — he’s the breakfast chef, I handle lunch — and, just when I was clambering out of bed, he bellowed my name.

The Engineer never bellows. He had found Torvald at the foot of his favorite cat tree, right next to the food dishes and water pan, lying on his side, already cold and stiff.

They told me, when his heart failure was detected, that he could die of pulmonary congestion, which he declined into and came back from twice; or that his kidneys could fail because of the medications that kept his heart going (which almost happened); or that I ought to be prepared for the possibility he would just keel over suddenly from an arrhythmia. I think he chose door number three.

We gave Aggie some food in the next room, by the little water fountain that we’d added to the menu when he had to start Lasix and needed to drink plenty. I had to look for a box big enough. He was about eleven pounds, not heavy for a Maine mix, but longer than you would think stretched out.

I called the place I’ve used before to arrange a Viking funeral. Cremation is Nordic, after all, though the burning ships are more of a Hollywood thing.  He may not have died with his sword in his hand, or whatever the feline equivalent might be, but he spent every day of his life in joyous battle with a world full of trees that needed to be shown who was boss (before I snookered him inside for good) and birds on a stick and catnip veterinarian toys (yes, they make those) and every other cat he ever encountered who wasn’t Aggie. Ragnar Lodbrok (which means Hairy Britches), at least as played by Borgnine here, would have saluted him as a brother.

I picture him walking into Valhalla with that rolling lope that somehow took up all the center of a room or a whole door from side to side, as the drinking song becomes ragged and pauses, giving the don’t-try-it stare to the dogs under the tables, and demanding chow and a good fight, in whatever order.


First Visit To The House

New Year Pose

I Now Own The House


Also, Fuck Your Guitar, This Is Mine Now

Every cat you ever own, I always say, is the best cat in the world.

Torvald Einar Magnussen, he who can vanquish Thor, the first, the son of greatness, forgive my Latin: Ave atque vale.



The Avocadoes Of Indifference

Bear with me. That was the title of a short play in three acts, meant to be performed during the 55-minute duration of a class period, which I cranked out in the waning days of my senior year in high school — Yorktown High, if anyone cares, in Arlington, Virginia, 1971. I was sixteen.

The plot barely returns to me. There were stock college characters like the chubby guy who drinks a lot. There was an ill-starred romance involving a couple who had mistakenly used Crest instead of contraceptive jelly with a diaphragm and so she was knocked up and he was panicky and they were trying to strategize (it was a couple years before Roe v. Wade), and she had a pet parakeet named Mr. Bumby, who was represented by a covered cage and the cast’s reactions to an imaginary escaped bird who shat on them at the conclusion of the second act, and there was campus activism planned in the third.

At the moment that the war protest became a fracas our heroes retreated from the clash point, but for whatever reason, because I was being snarky and socially conscious all at once, one of our posse who was tall and buff but couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag entered in fatigues wearing a legacy Army helmet from some past generation of his family and sporting a toy rifle, and voices off shouted “Bang” as virtually every cast member in the production fell to the ground, shot, by the peacekeeping National Guard. Because Kent State, if you remember?

I wasn’t even that much of a firebrand. I had never stood on a protest line. (That happened later, with the Hyde Amendment,) I just knew at the rough age of consent in my state that something was fucked, very fucked, about a point in history where kids saying we don’t want to die don’t send us to die don’t send our friends to die was greeted with the killing breath of National Guard rifles.

A few years later a book was published with the title “Don’t Shoot — We Are Your Children!” The New York Times uttered a rather patronizing review, commenting on the extremism of Jerry Rubin and the drug habits of some of the young people profiled. Bleh.

Don’t shoot.

Here we are in 2018 and the children are both shooting and being shot. But also the adults. Both ends. It just seems to take the young uns, who’ve grown up doing active shooter drills, to stand up and say hey, it stops here, and also we can now VOTE.

Pushback is predictable. The National Review scorned one of the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas shooting for “inserting himself” into the firearms debate, as if he had a fucking choice.

Don’t shoot, we are your children.

Don’t shoot, we are you and you are we.

America needs to come to the end of its love affair with the thing that goes bang. A hundred Indians bite the dust, right? Well it’s 2018 and we’re all out of Indians, who didn’t ask for it in the first place, and it’s us. It’s some asshole with a grievance and access to a killing machine and it’s us. I think twice about going to movies. It needs to stop.

Bye to the avocadoes of indifference. Welcome anyone who seriously, earnestly gives a shit. I’ve gone all political here. I can’t help it. I’m past clever belles lettres and cat stories, though there will be more of those; I just can’t deal blithely with my nation any more.

Do what you can, American readers, to support the people marching on March 24.