Monthly Archives: February 2012

Hope you’re having a great 29th because you don’t get another for 4 years

Blame it all on Pope Gregory XIII, for on Feb. 24 of 1582  he brought in a spanking new calendar that was designed to rectify the flaws found in that old pagan-inspired Julian calendar.

Well, Greg’s calendar is largely OK except for one flaw. Every four years they have to stick in an extra day at the end of February, and this is one of those years. I mean, they could have put in that bonus day in July or August when folks would have appreciated it – but, February? The last of the big four crappy months of the year and we have to have an extra day of it just in case we might have been anticipating spring. Damn Gregory, I say. Is it a sin to damn a pope? I don’t care. I’m not Catholic.

Anyway, February 29th is a weird thing. I have a cousin who was born that day. So, I’ve never asked her when she celebrates her birthday. If she marks it on March 1 or Feb. 28 that’s just not right. Those aren’t her days. And what happens to the 29th in the intervening three years. Does it just lie in a calendar limbo somewhere, alone and unwanted and resentful that the Mayan version is getting so much play this year? Does the Mayan Calendar have leap year as well? We might just be getting an extra day before end-game, if that’s the case.

Anyway, tradition holds that on Feb. 29 the girls can ask the boys for either their hand in marriage, or (if he’s really fortunate) sexual favors. I kind of like that one, though it’s a long span between ‘lucky’ days and such a protracted drought can make a body wonder if the wait is really worth it. By the way, I was never ‘asked’ for ribald indulgence on the 29th, but where there’s life there’s hope. So, if you’re inclined, please ask. I’m not dead yet.

The 29th was also, when I was younger, the day for Sadie Hawkins dances. Sadie for the uninitiated was a butt-homely backwoods girl created by talented (albeit crypto-fascistic in his politics) cartoonist Al Capp in his strip Li’l Abner. The premise being that the only time Sadie got lucky was when she was a-doin’ th’ askin’. So, that was why girls were meant to invite boys out on a date.

I have little more to say about the 29th. Hope yours is a good one and see you in four years.

Pardon me but where in the intercourse are my wrenches? Does anybody know?

So, where are my %$#@& socket wrenches? Do any of you know? I sure as (crude but sometimes cute expression for sexual intercourse) don’t know.

So, here’s the thing, I’m not the most handy guy in the world. As Red Green once offered, a fellow can either be handsome or handy. I chose the former because I don’t look well in flannel or with grit under my nails. Added to which, I am not necessarily brilliant in most artisan areas. Just ask my high school shop teachers. Actually, I think it all comes down to a certain Freudian rebellion against my old man who, while later an academic, was also a certified machinist.

Neither here nor there.

I do have a basic modicum of tools because sometimes when you’re a householder shit needs fixing. When it’s broken it’s ‘shit’, you see. Once it’s successfully fixed it reverts to being a ‘thing’. So, I have your usual hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers and so forth. My pride-and-joy in the wrench department is a wonderful set of Craftsman socket wrenches.

Craftsman may be a Sear’s brand, but Craftsman tools sit in the Rolls Royce department in terms of quality. I loved me my Craftsmans (or should that be Crafts’men’, since it’s plural?). I bought them about 25 years ago at the Sear’s in Portland, OR when we were on vacation one time. They were my vacation ‘souvenir’. And I’ve found a multitude of uses for them over the years, and they’ve never failed me.

About a month ago I found cause to use them. I went to the normal place they should be. The shiny black plastic case wasn’t there. I looked in a dozen other places in the garage that they ‘should be’. They weren’t there either. I could not find them. I have looked virtually everywhere and they are hiding somehow. I keep getting these sensations that I’ll look somewhere I hadn’t thought of, and there they’ll be, hiding in plain sight and I’ll feel a fool aobut it all.

But, really, it has almost put me into momentary panics. I’ve even dreamt that I’ve discovered where they are. As I say, close scrutiny of the garage – where tools live at our house – has not revealed them. I’ve looked elsewhere in the house. I’ve looked in the garden shed. I’ve searched both cars. Nada! Wendy has joined me in some of the searches and even our joint efforts have failed to unearth them.

I mean to say, wrenches cannot disappear into the ozone. Were they stolen? If they were the thief didn’t take anything else that might be more appealing, like a TV or cameras or computers. Nope, those things are all in place.

Truly, I’m at a loss about them. I even glanced (just sideways) at some other sockets sets when we were at Home Depot yesterday. Then I immediately felt guilty and ever so disloyal.

So, that’s where it sits. I’ll maybe do one last foray ‘everywhere’ and then I might have to break down and get some new ones. But that still won’t answer the question as to what happen to the old ones.



“Sorry, Ted, but I’ve — er — got a headache”

That JFK was an unrepentant philandering horndog hardly comes as a revelation to anyone except for those who persist in believing in the Camelot twaddle.

He came by it quite naturally, since paterfamilias Joe was a swine of the highest order. The old bootlegging millionaire aside from screwing anybody and everybody he could, was a right-wing Nazi symp whom FDR booted out of the country and made ambassador to Britain so he could rub old Joe’s Paddy nose in a job that called for him to make nice with the loathed Brits.

And now there is Mimi Alford. Ms. Alford, 68, in case you’ve been asleep, is the former White House intern who ‘did’ the president. I mean, really, who didn’t? But that is not my point here. My point is, why the revelation? What is the reason for the Alford revelations?

At the very least such a book is cheesy and unkind. For another, the martyred president’s daughter is still very much alive, so some of this shit Ms. Alford reveals has to be a little vomit-inducing, even if Carolyn was aware that ‘stuff’ went on at dear old Dad’s behest when it came to panty removal.

According to the story she first spent time with the president at the White House pool. He later plied her with booze on that day and then took her to Jackie’s powder-blue bedroom where they had sex. She was all of 19 at the time, by the way. She refuses to see that first encounter as rape, though with the alcohol involvement, as many hapless of college lads have found out, a charge of ‘statutory’ would certainly stand up in court. But then again, that was the Kennedy family up to their shenanigans. Just ask the Kopechne family about that sort of thing.

Anyway, later JFK implored her to indulge a friend in Bill Clinton’s preferred sexual pastime while he watched. Then at a party at Bing Crosby’s house in Palm Springs he gave her Amyl Nitrate and also asked her to ‘do’ li’l brother Ted. She refused. She doesn’t clarify why.

And so it went on right up until the time of the assassination with her continuing as No. 1 twinkie right up to that moment. In the later months she was actually engaged to be married.

In an interview following publication of her book, Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath, she was asked if perhaps she was little more than the president’s call-girl. Ms. Alford explains it away thusly: “I didn’t believe that then, no. I didn’t even know what a call-girl was. Was I taken advantage of? Looking back I can see that it was not a place for a 19-year-old to be (you think?) I don’t like to use the word abuse, but the experience had a traumatic effect on me.”

All I am left to wonder is what on earth would be her motivation in writing such a memoir so many years after Kennedy’s death? No doubt the Kennedys have enemies enough that will revel in the crap she offers them. But, as I suggested earlier, none of this stuff is new. Despite his good points as president, and there were many, he was hardly a pinnacle of moral rectitude. We all have known that for a long time.

And why would Ms. Alford chosen to have painted herself in such a slutty light?

And muckraking is muckraking no matter how much you disguise your motivation and protest your altruism and naivete. I don’t think it will be on my ‘must read’ list.

Driving emotions range from anger and frustration to stark terror

Have you ever had sex while you were driving? Would you like to? No, wait a minute, I’m getting off track here.

How about talked on a cell, texted, smoked, checked your teeth in the rear view for food particles, adjusted make-up, changed your underwear, sang, danced, flirted with somebody in the next car over, gave rude gestures to somebody in the next car over on the other side, kissed your passenger, copped a feel, or even picked your nose?

Of the latter, as an aside, it is a widely-held belief that being within the confines of your car renders you invisible, therefore you can pick with impunity, even though you’d normally never do it in public. Hey, guess what? You’re in public. Excuse that lapse into tastelessness, but it had to be said.

Of the former, the Insurance Corporation of BC has deemed all of the foregoing as dangerous and distracting behaviors. Such multi-tasking takes our minds off the job at hand – driving – and can lead to an increase in accidents. And it is a fact that 80 percent of accidents are caused by human error. When I look around me I can believe that.

As another aside, polls indicate that at least 80 percent of us consider ourselves to be wonderful drivers. If so, where do all the asshole drivers come from?

Anyway, the entire aforementioned are likely factors in mayhem on the roads, but just plain bad driving causes most of the trouble, and that sorry state abounds. Aside from the drunks and the tailgaters (oh, how I detest them), I have a special place in Hell reserved for folks who seem unable to grasp the concept of a turn-signal.

To clarify for the multitudes who are chronically confused about the use of that little lever on the steering column, it is an ‘indicator’ and it’s not for your convenience. That’s right. All it means for you is that you must use it to tell people like me what you are about to do.

“Oh, I’m entering my turn, hyuk, I guess I better turn my signal on.” Sorry, that just doesn’t do. Once you’re into your turn I have a pretty decent idea about what is happening. What you are meant to do is use it before you go into that %$#@&& turn so I can adjust accordingly.

Truly, it staggers me how negligent people are in this regard. Are they unclear on the concept, very rude, or pathologically stupid?

Something else I’ve noticed recently is that increasing numbers of drivers seem to believe that a ‘STOP’ sign is merely a suggestion.

Then there is the matter of demographics. I live in a community in which the ratio of seniors to juniors is around 80 to 20 – or so it sometimes seems. The worst spot is the shopping mall. That’s where Stop sign as ‘suggestion’ seems particularly prevalent. I am driving merrily along the other day and about to pass one of the entrances when a driver literally (not virtually) pulls out onto the roadway right in front of me. I let loose with every epithet at my command, mainly because the driver’s action scared the crap out of me. The driver, however, continued on his/her way with impunity (said driver was either elderly or very shot since I could see no head over the back of the driver’s seat) and headed on through the park zone ahead traveling at least 30 clicks over the post speed. My heart was filled with dread because I knew we were approaching a four-way stop – a chronic scene of mass confusion for drivers in my town – and I shuddered at the prospect. Well, he/she seemed fully unclear on that concept and after cutting three cars off continued into a left turn and progressed at Indy 500 speed.

And that was just one incident of many I’ve faced in just a few days.

It’s a jungle out there on our roadways, folks, so just make sure you refrain from boogying, messing around, and checking your teeth, and please use your turn indicators. The life you save may be mine, or that of someone I love.

And cut out the sex while driving. It’s both unseemly and dangerous. Or, if you are able to manage it, please tell us how. We’re all agog.




Me, George and my old man — we all got stuck in the liver of months

Somebody once described February as “the liver of months.” Maybe it was me. I have a right to coin aphorisms should I choose. It is so described because it is not top prime rib, but the humblest peasant fare in terms of tempting the palate of the imagination. Although, I find liver, onions and bacon a pretty decently hearty meal and not offensive at all.

Years ago I was in hospital for a viral infection, and the old man in the bed opposite, was an inspiring curmudgeon of the sort I aspire to be. Anyway, I grew quite fond of him. One evening dinner was served. It was liver and onions. About a half hour later a young nurse came by and said in her perky and hugely patronizing young-nurse-ish way, “You haven’t eaten your liver, Mr. Jones. Tsk-tsk, shame on you.” Mr. Jones responded thusly: “I am 82-years-old and I have never eaten fucking liver in my life, and I ain’t about to start now.” My admiration just soared.

But, back to February. I call it the liver of months because it simply isn’t up to much in terms of enchantment. It is the last month of winter and is often wet and chilly, and not quite yet spring in these parts. Getting there, but not quite arrived. Pope Gregory in his calendar must be thanked for rendering it the shortest month, but it still often seems intolerably long, all things being relative. In other words, February doesn’t seem to have much to recommend it.

Yet, a number of notable people were born in February, like me, for example (just yesterday, in case you missed it, and I know how you hate it when that happens. Oh, and my dad. And my maternal grandmother. And George Harrison, and also George Washington (today)  and Abe Lincoln and Alan Rickman (my favorite actor who is not only a February guy, but his birthday is on the same day as mine, now how cool is that?). So, people earmarked for greater (or lesser) things escaped the womb and entered the February air. Maybe that’s why they are people of accomplishment. They saw how dreary was the month and decided to do what they could to make life better. I know I did. Didn’t succeed, but I don’t think anybody is keeping score.

February is also the month of Valentine’s Day. But, I have covered that ground in the past and won’t go again – possibly ever. Yet, suffice it to say there is no better month than dreary February to have in its course a day devoted to amour and its pursuits and manifestations in whichever way you want it to manifest. In ‘those’ ways if I have my choice.

There is just one little thing more about February – especially this February. This happens to be a leap year, which means we have an extra day to indulge our masochistic impulses that began way back on Groundhog Day at the beginning of the month.

It only happens ever four years, but feel free to curse that aforementioned Pope Gregory.

Does the Mayan calendar account for Leap Year? Maybe that will mean we have an extra day before it all ends.


TV or not TV? That was our ongoing question recently

When was the last time you adjusted the vertical hold on your TV? Have you recently had to bang the cabinet side to keep the picture from flopping? And horizontal hold, how often has that been an issue? Dealing with rabbit ears or antenna on the roof to which you send up the old man in the pouring rain because the signal from Seattle is screwed again?

Such video thoughts are in my mind because we – yes we did – smartly marched out yesterday and bought ourselves a fancy-ass new television. You know, one of those flat-screen sexy things of which it will take us a couple of years, or possibly a further lifetime replete with electronics engineering degree to figure out in terms of operation.

Why do electronics geeks that design these things assume that everybody is as OC as they are about this kind of thing? I just want to turn on my TV and have it work and when it’s working (and I know this is a tall order in this age of Idols and freaking Survivors – of the latter I refuse to actually watch at all until they bump somebody off – or slutty and singularly repellant females from the eastern shore) I want to be entertained, or at least diverted.

And so far we have been. Oh yes, we did get it hooked up. And it has a hi-def component and if I still went to movies, I’d truly be firm in my resolve to never go again because all the goods are here at home and I don’t have to listen to some asshole talking on his mobile while I’m trying to watch an overloud (and possibly bad) flick. By the way, I know that ‘asshole’ and vociferous public cellphone chatting are redundant.

When I was a little boy my dad bought our first family TV. I don’t think I felt such jubilation again until I realized the differences between girl and boy parts were both welcome and reflective of some kind of divine plan. In other words, I was thrilled.

And you know, that old 21-inch black-and-white set the old feller (he was actually probably about 35 at the time) back about $450. That would have been about a month’s salary in the day. And with that TV we had to deal with all the nonsense I mentioned at the beginning, as well as having to replace assorted tubes on a regular basis, and with all that the reception still kind of sucked. And ultimately, its live-expectancy was about 10 years max.

In our case, our problem with shelling out for a new TV was based on the fact we’re cheapskates and also that our original ones (we each had our own from before we met) still worked quite brilliantly. You see, TVs don’t seem to quit these days, so why replace? Well, I guess it ultimately came down to quality of image. I do feel bad for the old sets that sit forlornly in the rooms to which they’ve been relegated but, hey, life moves on.

Our new one is a Samsung LED and it’s wizard. Doesn’t Neil Diamond have a song called Samsung Blue? Well, by day 2, it’s not yet making us blue and it’s only sentimental attachment to my poor old Hitachi that makes me feel a bit weepy. But, sorry ‘Hi’, it was time to move on despite your built-in VCR player.

How many members of the next generation were conceived on a rec room couch?

Do people still have rec-rooms any more? I haven’t been in one in years, blessedly. Or are rec-rooms one of those unlamented vestiges of the ‘50s and ‘60s like lava lamps and blonde furniture?

True rec-rooms (aka rumpus rooms, for whatever reason) were in basements and boasted claustrophobic low ceilings and wood paneling on the walls. I hate wood paneling because it was kind of the vinyl-siding of interior walls. Varnished 4×8 sheets designed to look like individual wood laths. They never did. There was something cheap looking about them, even though they could be very expensive. That’s something I know about.

You see I have a special heritage relationship with wood panels. You see, I spent all my university summers toiling in a factory that made – yep – wood panels. In fact, if you gave me the equipment, I bet I could still whip you out a smashing wood panel for your rec room.

Long, hot summers in which I could have been at the beach, drinking beer, losing my virginity again and again, were instead devoted to sweatily tending to a plywood press, tailing on a huge saw, tailing on a potentially lethal drum sander that could handle an entire panel at once and would periodically shoot one out with such impact it would smash into shards against the pile, and would have done the same to me had the operator not screamed “heads up!” before the fucking thing decapitated me. Ah, memories.

Memories of the two Scots machine operator who hated each other at a homicidal level – clan wars? Who knows? I liked Sandy the better of the two, despite the fact he was a pill head and dealer. And the old Paddy, an IRA wannabe (he maintained he was a veteran of the ‘troubles’, though I never believed him. Hated the English almost as pathologically as the two Scots hated each other. And the two Danny DeVito sized Italian brothers who would finish their shift at our mill, and then head off to the one down the road to put in another 8 hours.

And all of this for the sake of people’s tawdry rec room décor. Oh well, it paid well. And so it should have, it was damn hard work.

Back to rec rooms.

They always got rejected living-room furniture – rump-sprung and threadbare – and boasted floors that consisted of either aged and ugly carpeting laid right on the basement concrete, or sometimes tiles. In either case, the floors were always cold and had no give. In fact the rooms were often cold, despite the fact they (in this climate at least) were situated next to the furnace.

Often there was a handcrafted (and looked it) plywood bar stuck off to one side. “Don’t you kids be helping yourself to none of them beers, ha-ha-ha!” that often boasted travel souvenirs like ceramic Mexican bulls with huge testicles, and witty (not) semi-lewd samplers pinned up with references to breasts, alcohol consumption or toilet activities, none of them even as funny as an Adam Sandler movie, and that says a lot.

And a very lo-fi record player, and sometimes a recently rejected black-and-white TV since the family (plutocratic bastards) had moved up to color.

Rec rooms weren’t bad make-out venues since you could hear parents tramping down the basement stairs. “What are you kids doing? You’re awful quiet. I thought you were dancing.”

“Studying, Ma.”

“Oh well, don’t let me disturb you.”

You may think I am indicting rec rooms unfairly, but I have a special loathing for them, since the one at my parents’ house doubled as my bedroom and it always felt cold and damp.

But (as per my earlier reference) it was a good make-out spot, I shall confess.