Saturday, March 21, 2020

Nonpersistent Memory

Well, this should have been composed weeks ago and posted at midnight, but age and circumstance are not my friends right now. Happy birthday to the official Best Kid Evar. May the road rise to meet you, Planet.
Fuck I'm old.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

More Shoes More

So, like, always, because this is forever the only relevant part of the shtick:

Yesterday was the last day that neither of us was 60 fucking years old. Our friend Jim told us 47 days ago that this number is a state of mind, and he is not wrong, not even a little. The number doesn't bear on health or shared history or the ability to overlook whatever the fuck each of us chooses to overlook in the interest of continuing to entertain each other now and again, for as many years as we are able to do (that would be 50 years last June, and still counting).

I mean, his wife and kid are awesome too, but this day is his. Go there, wish him happies, he'll have better music than I do, because he still has the soul to energetically dig the music. My soul? Irrelevant here, mofos. Happy 60th, dogma-N. Stunned to be here, myself.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

March of Time

It's my older kid's 21st birthday today. And my father-in-law's 77th birthday. Someone who is not mathematically inclined (which is fine) will not point out (which is fine) this morning that today is the beginning of the last 47 days of our lives when neither of us is 60 fucking years old. That we got here is remarkable, as serendipitous as (if more complex than) the random and joyful afternoon farm market meeting he referenced last week; the number of opportunities we've dodged, together and separately, to not get here, simply staggering. And those spread over 50 fucking years, almost 85 percent of our fucking lives. Pretty fucking lucky to be able to say that about anyone, ever. Go in peace.

Monday, April 15, 2019

In Memoriam

3 years ago today. I don't ordinarily mark this date, but it just up and hit me over the fucking head this morning. Really hard. So here it is, for Sasha, TechNoir, Rosa Luxemburg, Queen of the Underground. The song we didn't even realize was yours until it was too late. Miss you, don't miss you, miss you worse. Fuhhhhhck.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Happy Birthday, Kid

Yaddas. If I do one post a year (and I'm frightfully close to that), this will be it.

Happiest of birthdays to the coolest teacher in central southern big midwestern state. And, forever, the Best Kid EVar.

Fuck I'm old.
Incidental love to yo momma and daddy, while I'm here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Shit Sneaks Up

One more year, shit gets real. Six more years, shit gets Medicare. You know, assuming we're not all warming our hands over burning barrels of toxic trash by then. Happy Birthday, hater.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Old Sin

You will have noticed that this is not really a blog any more. It's an occasional postcard. Look, here's some art:

And well you might wonder, but as it happens, it's as good a symbol of why I'm sending a postcard today as any. You see, 30 years ago today, I stood one person away from the artist as she married this guy, who was the one person standing between us. There are only a few things I remember about that day, one of which is that I was already getting a little chunky and my suit was too tight. I remember the venue, because it was their house, and I remember some tidbits about other people in attendance because big social events for other people are always fraught with other other people, but I'm damned if I can remember who my date was.

Nah, I remember her too. Really, really bad choice, as it happened, and it took the artist a while to forgive me for it, a stance I found reasonable then, and now find unassailably reasonable. But forgive she did, and with a whole heart, because if she didn't, that art up there wouldn't be hanging on my dining room wall. So thanks for that, Earthgirl, and thanks even more for giving me the chance for you to become a beloved, too, after such a wretched twentysomething start.

Happy 30th anniversary, beloveds. Long strange trip and all that. For you, for us, for all. In March, I wrote about constants in my life, bedrocks of my creed. Y'all made one; y'all are one, individually and collectively. My wish for you is, always, to have the free to hike together. See you for the really weird thing soon.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Post I Don't Screw Up Any More

Times change, old truths skate heartbreakingly and maddeningly close to less true, you get caught in a landslide, &c. One of the few constants I rely on is:

Yes, she really grew up to say that. There are witnesses and shit.  
Planet is a mind-blowing constant, to be sure. While, as I hope I've conveyed, I actually do love my children, despite one of them being the life's joy and labor that is Bam and the other being a parasite lodged in my central nervous system so deeply that Picard and Riker may never blast it out, Planet still holds her title righteously. Her family line is as my own, and grounds me maybe more deeply, given that my family line is best remembered for running at each other with scissors in one hand and Ba'al knows what in the other (scotch, guilt, recriminations, blue crabs, and more scissors are all well-established historical traditions there).

25. Fucking. Years. Old. She was the first baby whose scrunched-up little face I looked at while thinking, "What the fuck is the big deal? Are all babies this scrunched-up and freaky looking? Christ, I hope she gets over that."

She did, of course. Our Planet is a beautiful and bright and kind young woman, a newly frocked teacher (like her mama and her grandparents before her), and in a development that I will intellectually accept in the nick of time, an incipient bride (it took me a little while, because I vowed--25 years ago today, of course--to sit vigil on this kid's doorstep with a shotgun to keep her from the depredations of boys, a step that ultimately proved unnecessary).

Happy Birthday, beloved Planet, Best Kid Evar. Yes, I'm working on it, I promise. Soon.

Late addendum: I queued this post a few days ago, and it's still queued to go in a couple of hours, because as Ba'al is my witness, I'm never screwing up this post again. In the interim, it has developed that we are scheduled to get between 4 and 9,324 inches of snow between now (about 10 PM on the 20th) and the end of Planet's birthday. The 21st of freaking March. South of the Mason-Dixon line. While I'm annoyed that I will be shut in with my wife and the aforementioned children all day, I can't begrudge that Planet gets a day off for her birthday. Because as I may have mentioned, our baby girl is a for-reals teacher. Teacher.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Saturday, November 04, 2017

The Orville

One of the things I've had in mind to write about is The Orville, Seth MacFarlane's live-action science fiction show on Fox. I've had this in mind because the show has been a topic of lively and evolving debate in a small circle that consists of me, Ilse, Whispers, and Databoy. I've watched every episode of the show that has broadcast thus far, and I think I've discussed every episode with Ilse and Whispers (Databoy has an interesting spot in the pantheon of opinions about which I give a shit).

So let's start here: I'd give just about any Seth MacFarlane-involved product a shot. We're long-time Family Guy devotees. We liked the Ted movies. I could watch A Million Ways To Die in the West a hundred times over the rest of my life and like it every time, although that probably has more to do with Jamie Foxx's cameo, Neil Patrick Harris' perfect villainy and film-stealing delivery of "If You've Only Got a Moustache", and Charlize Theron sticking a daisy in Liam Neeson's asscrack, as it does with anything MacFarlane-related. We'll even get around to watching Sing one of these days. I think MacFarlane is a funny guy and his productive energy is pretty amazing. While I think he's a better writer/creator and voice actor than live-action actor, I think that's trivial in the context of his talents as an entertainer and a creative.

All of which is why I'm dithering about getting around to bitching about The Orville, and the dithering and exposition ain't done yet, so chillax. Or don't.

The Orville is both an homage and a parody. It's a love letter to Gene Roddenberry; the tone and values are decidedly Trekian, the design and look are unmistakably TNG, MacFarlane has enlisted some old Star Trek hands to help out, and the plot cribs are predominantly TOS, with some TNG tossed in. The characters are essentially Star Trek franchise archetypes remixed (with some distracting exceptions that I'll get to in the bitching portion of our program). The look of the thing is beautiful, when they're doing interiors--like every other show and film, it's amazing how much location sets do not in any way resemble Southern California, to steal a joke from Austin Powers. The effects aren't shabby, and the production seems pretty tight. They've had some kickass episode directors--Jon Favreau, Robert Duncan MacNeil, Brannon Braga, James L. Conway, and Jonathan Frakes. That's right, that Jonathan Frakes. No matter how pissed off I end up at this show, they fucking got Frakes on board, and that is a castle I will not assault. This is a serious effort here, the homage comes from pure fanboy love, and there is no faulting the cast's and crew's passion and enthusiasm for this.

The parody is what you'd expect from MacFarlane. Some of it's pretty lowbrow, some of it's wickedly funny, and a small portion is absolutely devastating. The humor is episodic--the effort is pretty clearly to leaven the homage with humor. There's nothing inherently wrong with that intent. It turns out it's harder to execute than you might think.

So before I open up, I have to say this: I've read some (but by no means all) of MacFarlane's output--interviews, tweets, various other media posts--on what he intends here, on what he's trying to accomplish. His intentions are perfectly fine to outright good. Hell, I'd even say they're close to pure. It's abundantly possible--likely, even--that I'm missing the boat on some of what he's trying to do. I'm not a trained critic, I'm not a trained television/drama/story guy. On the other hand, I'm also not a dumbass, I am reasonably well-educated in literature and narrativium. I understand the basics of telling a story. I'm trying to say that I welcome debate on this critique, if you care. But I think the problems are pretty fundamental and structural.

So here's the primary and insurmountable problem: I can't take it seriously. By this, I mean that the show doesn't get me to suspend disbelief, which everyone knows is an essential element of storytelling.

Let me clarify. I know it's science fiction. At an intellectual level, it's semi-stupid to suspend disbelief, and the whole connection has to be emotional. But the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises had no trouble clearing this hurdle. Yes, I take Star Trek seriously. This cannot possibly be a shock to you. What's my name, what's my motherfucking name?

I know it's parody, and here's the killer: Ted, a pair of movies about a gorram bear that talks (in a facking Boston accent, no less) had no trouble getting me to clear this hurdle, Million Ways had no trouble, and Family Guy clears the hurdle by being so ridiculous that it doesn't need to clear the hurdle. Seth MacFarlane has a demonstrated ability to get me to suspend my disbelief for humor products. And he's not doing it here.

There are structural, plot, and character elements of the problem. I get that the intent is to walk a line that includes both homage and satire/parody. I think a basic problem here is that the parody gets in the way of the homage. Sometimes, as in episode seven, "Majority Rule," the problem stems from all three: the conflict in the episode (sidebar: direct plot steal from the utterly wretched TNG season one episode "Justice") derives from a crew member's rowdy behavior on a covert rescue mission. The behavior is pure parody that completely abnegates the homage and the story.  WTF is this goofy douchebag doing in a military service, let alone on a covert mission? The plot contrivance, driven by dissonant comedic behavior, leads to the plot theft and massively overloads any hope of a coherent story.

This works in Family Guy. It's a cartoon. Peter can turn his family station wagon into a pirate land-cruiser; he can have a 15-minute death match with the Giant Chicken; he can abandon Stewie in a park while he gets drunk at the Clam. I chose to watch a cartoon and that's what I get.

Not so with The Orville. Look, the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises both incorporated elements of humor, countless lighter moments sprinkled through the gravity of the larger stories (some of the humor, like the endless race-based McCoy-Spock feud of TOS, doesn't even hold up all that well). And cranking up the volume on the humor, while maintaining a little gravitas, is something that should be plausible. And it's something that MacFarlane explicitly wants to achieve. It's not even criminal that MacFarlane returns to his base entertainment instincts by overamping the humor. It just really screws up the tone of this show. It is without gravitas or majesty. That probably sounds like I've got a giant stick screwed into an overly tight sphincter. But you cannot deny that gravitas and majesty are significant elements of the Star Trek universe, however overdrawn some plots and no matter how ridiculous Kirk is in retrospect.

"Majority Rule" is far from the only messy plot. Shortcuts and deus ex machina are Orville staples, and there's nothing unforgivable about that. It's science fiction. You don't want to write a freaking physics lecture for every episode. I saw a link to a video about the science of The Orville, and I ran away screaming to watch cute bunny vids or some such shit. Look, I'd expect a show walking the homage/parody border to skate over some logic holes. We're talking giant leaps over major problems here.

Another issue is triteness; a recurring plot device is that MacFarlane's character, the ship's captain, used to be married to his first officer. Who cuckolded him with an alien. An alien who shoots blue goo when excited. Okay, it's parody. All good. What's trite is the constant draw on romantic tension between the captain and first officer. MacFarlane's Ed Mercer vacillates between rage and tenderness toward Adrianne Palicki's Kelly Grayson, who vacillates between remorse and jealousy toward Mercer. In one episode, Grayson just doesn't trust Charlize Theron (whose character has it on with Mercer), who turns out to be less than truthful. Horrors! I had to teach Databoy the meaning of "hackneyed" here. I did not have to teach him the meaning of "Charlize Theron" (along with Frakes and MacNeil as directors, MacFarlane does have an awesome talent for recruiting some pretty incredible guest stars for his content, and he makes pretty damned good use of them).

Some other characters, while well-played, are over-the-top stereotypes, in particular Scott Grimes' Gordon Malloy, an insubordinate wildman pilot, and J Lee's John LaMarr (whose statue-humping on a covert mission in a society governed by social media led to the aforementioned tale of woe). They're funny. They're great cartoon characters. But the show ain't a cartoon.

And I don't want to impugn all of the acting. Penny Johnson Jerald (formerly of DS9) is a great addition to the cast, which didn't rescue the episode that featured her character. Halston Sage is an unexpected delight as the petite (but superhumanly strong) security chief. As for the actors I don't care for all that much, I think the problem isn't so much their skills as the weight of their characters--the ones I'm not naming are just irritatingly direct ripoffs of other famous TV sci-fi characters.

There's another structural problem here; MacFarlane has chosen to translate his perfectly normal and in no way problematic obsession with 80s/90s culture to yet another venue--one 400 years in our future. In one episode, the bridge crew watches an episode of Seinfeld on the main viewing screen (leading to a very funny bit about teaching a robot character cribbed from Spock, TNG's Data, Buck Rogers' Tweaky, and every other robot or android character evar, about humor). It's amazing how consistently all of the crew's cultural references date back to the end of the 20th century...and no other time. I saw episode 8 this morning and had to take a long break when MacFarlane's character cracked a Barry Manilow joke. You know what? This trend is parodying our obsession with our own exceptionalism. That's fine. But damn, it's a long way around the maypole, and this show is making me work way too freaking hard to enjoy it.

And yet, I keep watching. One reason is that it's become a family enterprise; Databoy loves it, and Ilse was getting irritated with my mockery of the show until last week, when it all suddenly broke through and she got the point. Same with Whispers, who does some small portion of his TV-watching in this house. I went outside to smoke after the last episode and came back inside to Ilse and Whispers dealing the show a lively post-broadcast whipping, based muchly on my itemized critique. I'm okay with having been down on the show before it was cool.

TL;DR: If you like MacFarlane or science fiction, watch the show and decide for your own damn self. If you hate MacFarlane, just walk away, because this isn't gonna change that. Nuh-uh. Me, I'll keep watching. Christ, I watched Voyager, how fucking sophisticated can I be?

Thursday, November 02, 2017

So It's Like This

I've developed a serious inability to STFU over on the Twitters. Noncoincidentally, I've developed a serious inability to keep from looking at the Twitters.

I used to not be able to STFU here, but that was a while ago, and while the starch had long since  started to fade from my shorts, Sasha's death in April 2016 really just completely sapped my desire to express myself at any length beyond maybe four characters. The rest of 2016 did not improve my aura.

I don't care about the same things I used to. I care about things I used to not care about. That's nature, right? The point here is that I have been feeling the urge to write. An old friend correctly pointed out a few months ago, after a 15- or 20-tweet thread ("...manifesto, if you will...") about Ba'al knows what, that I was being sort of a douche there. Since this friend is an actually sometimes nice person, that sorta hit home. Other friends have correctly reinforced that sentiment a time or three since. My answer is to try to keep the manifestos, if you will, over here. The bad news? Uhm, I'm gonna have to tweet about my blog posts. Sunrise, sunset.

The news: I remain unemployed, but it's looking up and I might soon be slinging packages late at night for a certain large conglomerate, part-time and seasonal. There are other relatively positive-looking developments, too, but that's all still jinxable. Ilse is stable and busy. Databoy works, as he has for a while, at the health-nut grocery outlet of said large conglomerate, slinging fish at hippies. Bam, as always, abides.

I will write soon about a couple of topics that have been nagging at me. You may or may not care. That's cool. Hasta WTFever.

Monday, August 28, 2017


LOL! Dipshit me. Watched it creeping up on the calendar. Said I'll schedule something tomorrow. Day after day after day since the last post, which was, of course, pointless.

Woke up. Existed. Looked. Derp.

So: Sorries.

Happy birthday to BFF. Hoping the years stop getting fucking weirder.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Still Taking Up Virtual Space

No idea why this is still here. I'm down to fawning over loved ones and occasional impotent outbursts of angst. I whine on the Twitters now, when passion overcomes judgment. But yeah, it's Festival, so here's an acknowledgement that this thing is still flapping at the air. The last time I was newsy, everything went to shit. While I know better than to blame my own newsiness for the shit, I'm not inclined to say much here. I haven't been employed since just before the election, and Ilse violently yanked Databoy from Terpdom at Winter Break, for very good reasons (unrelated to my unemployment). Bam, of course, abides.

And still: welcome to the fucking Festival. Of course, the brutal and uncaring violence classically associated with the Festival is now mundane, so there's no longer any reason for that to be remarkable. Whose fault is that? Well, now, there's some angst, for sure. I'd like to have the energy to properly care. I don't. Discuss amongst yourself.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I No Longer Believe in Math

I say this because it cannot be 24 years ago this evening that I stood on a street corner outside of a now-defunct hospital in the West End and happily smoked a very bad dime-store cigar with BFF to celebrate this person's birth. But the fucking calendar says it's so. And while you know what I say about the calendar, none of us could have believed for a moment how charmed we would be by her life and times, how brilliant and beautiful and kind she would turn out to be, an incalculably greater gift than (as BFF's mom used to note, not unkindly) our generation deserved.

Happy birthday, Planet, beloved. Sorry about the cluster. I try so very hard not to belabor the point, but it is, of course, your dad's fault. Love rules nonetheless.

It is traditional to remind that this child grew up to tell me that "Baby needs a new pair of fucking shoes."

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Member When George Wasn't Dead?

BFF reminds that today is Sir George's birthday. He promises that this will feature, but even so, it can't feature enough. Ever. So get out your Jolly Roger, and run it up your mast.

I know I don't get around much any more. But what's important is important. See you at the Festival.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

It's Twoo, It's Twoo

BFF became a part of Crackerbox Palace 57 years ago today.

That vid slays me every time. And YouTube tells me we should watch this again, so here:

No BFF birthday can be complete without it:

No, we're not doing the YouTube gangbang we did a year ago, so we're almost done. But we are at the age where it's impossible to not do this thing right here:

Politics come and go. Love is unconditional, bitchez. Happies, BFF.

Monday, August 08, 2016


1. I cleaned up. There was stuff in the links that was old, moribund, dramatically changed, and in one sad case, deceased. Thanks to BFF for the inspiration to get around to doing something that's needed doing for a very long time.

2. I am unemployed. Low-effort Kickstarter ideas welcome (turns out "Bologna sandwich" was already taken).

3. Yes. Jill Stein is a fucking dipshit who has no business running for office. I don't care whether she's pandering to anti-vaxxers or actually is one. And yes, it is, in fact, one or the other. Don't fucking embarrass yourself by arguing otherwise--you got nothing. No one is putting words in her mouth or on her Twitter feed (or deleting them from her Twitter feed) for her.

4. Databoy makes his way to the University of Turtles very, very soon. I won't claim success yet, because the scoreboard's not showing zeroes. But it's close.

5. I forget what eight was for.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Happy Fucking Birthday To Me

Thanks, as always, to my lifelong friend and foil and intellectual trampoline and I don't know whatthefuck else.

This is a weird one, to be sure, with Databoy turning 18 today as well, and off to college (the right college, thankyouverymuch) in six weeks, and my own unemployment looming. It has been one seriously fucked up year:

-The famous dead (Bowie, Rickman, Prince).
-The infamous dead; Sasha's wretched death is sometimes just not there, and sometimes, when I reach for the phone to tell her a story made just for her, when I watch a beloved sportsball team faceplant endearingly, when the cluster that just won't stop clusters fuckingly--it was second nature to share the contents of my brain with her, to earn that guffaw, to process the undigestable.
-The loss of a thing I loved beyond measure (my work family), and of a job I sucked myself dry to earn (when we calculated the risk of my professional move back in December, we ignored extremes of probability in our analysis: probability rewarded us with a set of extremes that we could not have imagined) .
-The turmoil of externality, the march of shit changing just because shit changes.

And it's only July. There are touchstone years in our lives, years we look back on and say, "Good riddance to that fucking turd of a year." This is one of mine, and it's not over.

But I'm out on the stroll, and a john will pull up soon. Bam endures, now enduring at 6'2" tall and 190 pounds of giggle and flap. Ilse rocks. Databoy will get the fuck out of my house, and he won't have to live in an appliance box. It's not all hopeless bleak despair, and it's important to say that, to stare down the void and flip it off before walking away, to click my heels and will it gone, not caring that I'm a big doofus in red slippers.

Thanks and love to you all.

Monday, May 09, 2016

More Death

BFF mentioned this in passing a few days ago, and I guess it's time for me to get around to telling it, as much as I intend to tell. Unfortunately, my dear friend Sasha passed away on April 15 after a couple of months of chronic illness that I will not further describe.

Sasha, known in some circles as TechNoir, was a complicated person, and the most private person I have ever known. She would hate even the fact that I linked those two names in print, as much as I would hate it if someone linked my serial killer Internet name with my actual name. So I'm not going to tell you much about Sasha. She was older, she was a woman, she had a job that was Washington-appropriate, she had a couple or three careers in her long life, she liked some stuff--I'm willing, at this juncture, to admit that she liked politics, the Internet, gaming, and various sports teams that are better than your sports teams, unless your sports teams are the same as hers, which are mostly the same as mine. She liked pushing Whispers' buttons even more than Ilse or I do, and Whispers his own self will tell you that this is quite some mathematical accomplishment, being that Ilse and I enjoy pushing his buttons far, far more than is healthy or kind. She liked pushing a lot of buttons--while I was a target-rich button environment for 20 years in my own right, she also enjoyed hanging around Databoy, a kid laden with buttons. She was, in fact, the original Ant Queen, the creature for which I had to create (and quickly retire) my nonexistent alter ego Insuffricubus, to the delight of some, the bewilderment of many, and the apathy of most. She made many of us better. There is no need to discuss the rest of the math.

I miss Sasha terribly. I'm lucky to have been in a position where I could.

Monday, March 21, 2016

That Snuck Up On Me

Happy birthday, kid. Looking forward to your approaching return to the right state.

It is traditional to remind that this child grew up to tell me that "Baby needs a new pair of fucking shoes."
What the fuck, 22, 23, 24, 48? I lost track. Happy birthday and all the love in the world.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Irony Is the Sound of Freedom, Part Infinity

"Give me my privacy!" they Tweeted. When that didn't work they Facebooked it. Then they went to Snapchat and Instagram to post pics of them demanding their privacy. They were appalled when we paid attention.

Oh, wait; no, they weren't.

"Politicians are tools for the wealthy!" they cried, "Rock the don'tvote!" They made no exception for an aging hippie who's been an attention whore completely dissociated from functional political reality since sometime after the Civil Rights movement's greatest hits, a senile jackass who's completely morally bankrupt on key issues of concern to his base.

Oh, wait; yes, they did.

"You get the fuck off my lawn!" he shouted at himself. He did.

Oh, wait; no, he didn't.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


Stop it. Just fucking stop.

Alan Rickman, dead at 69.

Of course, only Harry Potter nerds think that the totality of Alan Rickman was Severus Snape. Not that there was ever a better choice for the role.

Fuck your fucking calendar, you fucking fuck.

Monday, January 11, 2016


David Bowie, dead at 69. Fuck your calendar.

I wanted to add a vid of "Cat People," another incredibly powerful Bowiething, but everything on YT is fanboy bullshit or is restricted from embed. Best one I could find is linked here; it's the version from Inglourious Basterds, set mostly to the footage it overplays in the movie. I think Melanie Laurent is a pretty fucking good tribute.

BFF is letting this fuck up his day, too, which is meet and right, of course.

But really, just fuck your fucking calendar. No, really, just get the biggest dick you can and jam it right up that calendar's most painful orifice and make it fucking scream.


Saturday, January 09, 2016

Honing Fierce Children

Time flies when you're not blogging very much. Bam-Bam was introduced to these pages over 10 years ago as an adorable 5-year-old terrorist who, with a single two-Couric turd, made me stop laughing (temporarily) at my own farts. Today, my little Bam-Bam is 15 years old, stands a damn good three inches taller than me, and is an actual high-school ath-uh-lete.

Bam started high school last September, after an extra year in the safety of middle school, and he attends a very fine program at a school that, while as generically fabulous as any other school in my local locality, didn't exist when I was a lad (like many other schools in my local locality, including the one at which Ilse teaches), Therefore, ath-uh-letically, it don't so much exist now, in my feverbrain. But now I don the colors (we are Red, which is fine in any other contexts, and we are, as it happens, Cougars, and y'all can have a good chuckle at Ilse for that...go on, I don't mind, cradle robbery don't seem quite so cradle-robbing after enough years have passed).

I'm further annoyed at Bam's high school because we live about 500 yards away from it; the football field is behind my across-the-street neighbors' back yards. I know far too much about Cougarville. I know the score of the football, field hockey, lacrosse, or soccer game. I know what this week's halftime show will be (sidebar: what passes for award-winning marching bands* these days is appalling). I know what the poms will dance to. I call the cops when they decide to broadcast the homecoming dance sound barrage over the stadium's PA system (this was actually the work of AV pranksters, not the school).

And still, I don the Red and cheer, because Bam is now an ath-uh-lete. Cougarville (a pretty jocky school, overall) has a faboo Allied Sports Program, which is mainstream kids and special kids playing together in sports that are reasonably manageable for kids with issues. It's supposed to be fun, although some schools (not ours) take it a little too seriously. The fall sport was supposed to be handball, and most parents agreed with Coach's assessment that handball is a bit risky for kids with motor issues. Spring will be softball, which will be an interesting test of concept-getting for Bam, to which we look forward with glee, because we're assholes. But winter...winter is bocce, played with heavy rubber balls on a gym floor. This is an actual interscholastic competitive sportsball thing, with uniforms, a referee, a scoreboard, the National Anthem, and--we are told--for one home game a season, cheerleaders. That home game is coming up this week, and we're freaking giddy about it.

Bocce is curling with balls. Sort of. A player throws a smaller ball, called a jack or a pallino, which in our world is yellow and a little bigger than a golf ball. That's the target. The object is to get one of your (red or green) rubber balls--larger and heavier, about the size of a softball, and a little heavier--closest to the pallino. You score a number of points equal to the number of your balls closest to the pallino after each team has thrown four balls. It's all pretty sedate, and very sportsmanlike--there are some times when it's okay for everyone to get a trophy, and this is one of them.

Bam doesn't give a shit about where the ball goes, although he is often the pallino-chucker (who also throws the first ball). Oddly, he is among the team's leading scorers. This is fucking hilarious, because he usually walks up, chucks a ball, and walks away before it's stopped rolling.

What Bam does like is that every time he throws a ball--regular or pallino--the bleachers erupt in applause and cheering, some of it calling his name. He is then surrounded by his teammates--a substantial number of them cute little high school girls--who high- and low-five him and tell him he's awesome. There are something like eight mainstream kids on this team, and seven of them are girls. And every one of them is a sweet kid who's in this partly because it's an easy sport and partly because being nice to special-needs kids looks good on a college app and, I imagine, partly because some or all of them are just actually nice. He's got a lot to like.

He's number 26, by the way, a number that carries some pretty major weight in this house.

Bam is not the only kid in the house to proudly represent. Databoy goes to a different school because he managed to convince someone in authority that he's a fucking genius (he sort of is, for some limited applications of geniosity), and he's in a magnet program and an engineering program. In this, his senior year, he has joined the academic team, also known as the quiz bowl team, or hereabouts, the It's Academic team (for the TV show of the same name, although the relationship between this league and the TV show is tenuous at best). Turns out that the team's coach/sponsor is way laid back. She's a perfectly good and entertaining person and a generally good teacher, but she's a little too busy to take care of the team, especially in the form of showing up for road meets (which most are--a meet consists of four schools, of which only one can be home; Databoy's school had only one home meet this year). So it's a really good thing that, in the team's stable of parents, is one dedicated idiot who's willing to show up at road meets and be the only grownup representative of their farm-town school, a school half the size of any other in the county, a school smack at the outer edge of the county, a school that back in our day, had as many head of livestock as students, but has now emerged, thanks to high-quality magnet programs, with a reputation as one of the best schools in the state.

I'm sorry, did I actually have to tell you who that dedicated idiot is?

This academic team thing is a lot of fun for a pompous git like me; I often get to be the reader/moderator, which is howlingly funny because I am, as you know, proudly illiterate and profoundly undereducated, and as you probably don't know, prone to getting a little tongue-tied when I'm speaking. Reading out loud is an adventure. I also get to riff on the questions after they're answered, dropping random contextually related tidbits of history and literature and pop culture and inside baseball on the poor little bastards. They appreciate this every bit as much as they do any bit of twaddle emitted by their own parents, bless their little hearts. But fuck 'em, I'm doing them a favor and they're better people for having spent 35 minutes with me.

And they're awesome and funny kids. There was a countywide meet the other day, the last round of competition before the playoffs--each team plays the two teams above and below it in the standings in a giant round-robin deal. Some schools are so into this that they have two or three teams and not enough adults to manage; as a result, I ended up reading/moderating a match between two schools' B teams, two schools that I was raised to congenitally despise****. Yes, I told them so, and proceeded to tell them that they were free to call me out when I made mistakes (one of the reader's duties is to press a button after buzzer questions, to clear the system, and I'm often so excited about the next question, or the last question, or the arithmetic of scorekeeping, or my own farts, that I forget to press the button), by either calling me "Sir" or clapping like seals.

It took only three questions for the rich kids to find an opportunity to clap and "Orp!" like seals and chant, "Buzzers please Sir." Magnificent. Most relaxed match I've ever read, since I was a true neutral and didn't have to coach my team (mostly with snarling and glares, since etiquette demands non-involvement during a match, whether or not I'm reading/moderating/scorekeeping) and moderate simultaneously.

Databoy's team entered the day in twelfth place (top 16 out of 30 or so teams make the playoffs). They won all four matches despite my presence--totally unprecedented for them--and moved up to eighth place, giving themselves a nice playoff position for the first round of the playoff tournament. And a dreadful one for subsequent rounds, potentially, because we're not sure whether they reseed after each round--so they may face the one seed in the second round, if they get past the dreaded eight-nine matchup--against a team****** that beat them by 5 points--about a third of the value of the average question--in their first game of the season. The glaringly decisive question they missed, lo those months ago, involved sportsball. Databoy was benched for that match--there are more kids than spots, so they take turns sitting out--and he's the only kid on the team with a chance of answering most sportsball questions. So he's in the game a lot more now.

And he hasn't gotten a single sportsball question right in a competitive situation all season. Go Databoy. Go Bam.

* Aren't the overalls spiffy? Holy crap, if we'd dressed like that back in the days of onions on our belts, they'd have laughed us out of the county**. Oh, wait. They did that anyway. The song, by the way, is a dispirited and lackluster rendition of the West Virginia University fight song, which is, to my eternal shame, also my high school's fight song. Had we played it like this funeral dirge, our director, who doubled as a professional roller-skater***, would've tasered us and laughed while we jerked and danced. If tasers had been invented yet, but that would've been hard, since electricity, yea, and even dirt, had yet to be invented.

** Their formal uni is worse, worn with a USC-style Trojan helmet. Thank you once again, Jeebus, for not inflicting that torment upon us.

*** I am super-seriously not kidding here. Professional. Roller. Skater. The seventies, friends. We lived them at full speed.

**** More sidebars: First*****, as a lad, I was raised to find every other high school in the county despicable or irrelevant. Both of these schools were despicable from our perspective, although I dated girls from the wealthier of the two schools, being a particularly skeevy and opportunistic little fucking creep when I was an adolescent.

***** Second, I missed Databoy's match during that sub-round, which was just as well, because they were playing against the aforementioned alma mater. I walked into the room, shouted "Go Trojans!" (not Databoy's school mascot), gathered my seething oh-my-God-parents-are-the-fucking-worst proteges in a huddle, quietly and cheerfully exhorted them to win the fucking match, and went off to do my duty for county and school system by moderating a match between a school that mostly bested us in brawls and a school that disappointed us out of three consecutive state football titles, but whose girls were primo for a gawky little shit like me, back in the day.

****** A team representing a school at which Ilse used to teach, pretty much her favorite of her former schools, and another school with a very fine tradition of wiseassery. Synchronicity abounds.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

All Aflutter

I am in a high frenzy, a state of damn near TerpRiot. It is true that it has been difficult for me, lo these many years since the departure of Our Lord and Savior Gary Williams and His Prophet Juan Dixon, to get excited about Maryland hoops, at least the testosterone version (I still adore the women, though I'm a tad heartbroke about Miss Lexie Brown's deeply personal decision to transfer, and a tad furious about the part of it where she felt she had to transfer to Those People, but it's her fucking business, and Brenda Frese will win more NCAA titles during the remainder of Miss Brown's NCAA eligibility than Lexie will, so WTFever, kid). The move to the Big Can't Count Conference didn't help my ennui over the Williams-less, post-Dixon, post-The-Alien-Steve-Blake guy Terps.

But thanks in part to the outstanding work of YFWP's Sports department, I am pumped. Fuck Georgetown in the eye. This is fucking awesome, the first time Maryland has played Georgetown in the regular season in 42 fucking years, which brings us to why I'm in a fiercely tribal state:

Hyper UMd Marketers Recreate a Period Photo

Our cheerleaders and theirs, courtesy of the ever-sedate local Fox outlet

Elmore and Mcmillen in groovy pants
Mister Elmore (from his personal files, apparently)

Foldout poster of Mister Lucas from the 1973 program
Thanks to Steinberg and to YFWP for excavating this awesome stuff. Go Terps.

Reminder to you young persons: We lived this. Sure, we had an onion on our belts because that was the style, and chickies didn't have the right to vote or drink unless they put out for it, and bellbottoms were the law. But it was what it was, and we were better people for it. Fuck Georgetown in the eye. Go Terps.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Not 56 Songs. But Enough.

I don't usually do a post for Ilse's birthday, but I'm fucking the rest of it up pretty roundly, so at least she gets this part on time.

Databoy was a little startled to find out over the weekend that his parents have some fondness for this little ditty:

He always thought that this was our song (and, in truth, it is):

On the other hand, we'll always have this:

Jeebus, that's filthy. You prolly shouldn't watch it at work. And really, don't touch it. You know where it's been.

Yeah, okay, I'm fuckin' around. Here's the real deal, honey. Happy Birthday, throw your panties at Bobby. Not that you were old enough to do that when this video was cut.

By the way, there are a shitload of really bad versions of Sugar Magnolia on YouTube. I found out so you don't have to. This one is really weird (New Year's Eve in San Francisco). But it's at least it's not in the Zombie Jerry phase. It does, however, appear to be in the Someone Spiked the Punch Again phase.

I digress. Happy Birthday, Ilse.

Friday, August 28, 2015

56 Songs

If you don't know why, you don't care anyway.

Let me say this at the outset: I know that this is a long post with a shitload of video. Tough shit. I haven't spent near enough time with him and his over the last few years, mostly because of me and mine. So here's some time, and some thought, and let's lead with the most important one of all:

Him and His. But mostly Him.

(I saw Neil Young along about that time, and I thought he looked like shit then, too).

Fucking duh:

Actually, Neil didn't look so great here either. But check out Stills in the groovy hat and suit. He's ready for Festival.

No, he really was. I mean, it was a long time ago. But yeah, he really was.A goo goo muck, I mean. And a teenage tiger. Also: Holy fuck, we've lived in interesting times.

I've always thought that Bob's got a real Porky Pig vibe going in live versions of this one, although the 80s stylings also bestow a bit of a heretofore unseen televangelist vibe :

I was a very good and obedient child before I became friends with BFF:

Lest someone think I'm calling BFF fat, this next selection is not about him.

He's Person Man, by the way. There are so many awesome versions of "Particle Man" extant that I had a lot of trouble picking one.

Here's some abject perfection to close this bunch:

Gawds, that's a beautiful piece of music. I am confident that, at the very least, BFF believes that it's better than fucking Mozart.

Us, and things that have happened to and around us in...wait for it...45 motherfucking years.

Absolutely terrible sync job with a 70s Midnight Special episode:

Okay, now this is some damned handsome Neil Young, here.

Random crap spanning the culture of our formative years.

I never really realized what an awesome resource the Midnight Special was. For instance, this video is clear evidence that brass rules, reeds blow, and disco did not, in fact, necessarily suck:

That's right. Suck on the 1980s, bitchez. In fact, here, suck on them some more. We sure did.

I watched a number of videos from that performance on M+M's YT channel. If they don't stop your heart, you weren't there, and get off my fucking lawn.

Jeebus, that little detour into M+M almost knocked the whole fucking thing off the rails. Okay, back to work:

Yeah, I don't know why this is turning into A Neil Young Birthday, either, but that's it, I swear, I can stop any time I like.

Some songs just are, okay?

And of course, there are traditions to uphold.

(That video, by the way, is the "Shoes" of this blog, its most posted video, by far.)

Y'know, I've never watched that video all that closely. I count at least six costume changes by Neal Innes. Well done, that.

Fucking oboe players.

I think I got this one for my fiftieth or something.

Fuck me, I actually lost one

No, seriously. I had 56 songs on the fucking list, grouped into the nonsensical fucking categories you see above, with the previously selected "best for last" number at the bottom. At this moment, there are 55 songs in this post, and no more list. What a fucking ding-dong. There's only one place to turn:

Yeah, that'll do.

I saved the best for last, dint I just?

Happy Birthday to BFF and love to Earthgirl and the incomparably awesome Planet, still the Best Kid Evar at the ripe old age of 22.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Yeah, That

Thanks to BFF for the shout and the tunes.

Every day is a holiday at Minions, because, y'know, fuck you it's all about you. And you deserve a break today.

This year: Nimoy dead. Pratchett dead. Planet graduated. Databoy seventeen, Bam-Bam fifteen. Purple all growed up and become an engineer. Wait, did I say Planet fucking graduated?

Jeebus. Probably a good day to get hammered and eat a shitload of red meat, since Zombie's leaving his alone. Sadly, my corporate overlords--myself included, since I'm one of them--demand more today, so we'll just get to a very mild buzz sometime much later on in the day.

But oh yes. There will be a shitload of red meat.

Thanks again to BFF for the birthday love. See y'all around August 28 or so, unless something pops up that's so compelling that I have to be a jackass about it. Love, with peace out.

Thursday, July 09, 2015


Okay, before I go look at BFF's site (he has a FitBit that tracks his Web stats and tells him the IP address and favorite tribal affiliation of every single person who looks at his site, so he'll vouch), I post now what I meant,  before I got tangled up in Shit You Really Don't Want To Know About, No, Really, to have scheduled to post at midnight last night:

Happy 27th Anniversary to BDR and EG, best beloveds, progenitors of bester beloved Planet, my lifelong true beloveds.

I always fucking forget to take care of this, one of the three most important posting days of any year. I, of course, was there, and you were not, unless you're Seatsix (I have trouble convincing myself that he was born by 1989, but really, he was) or Elric. It was one of the happiest days of my life too, excepting that my date was the one known to our history as the Sinister Bitch of Doom. If I'm not mistaken, I was standing next to the groom, but I'm pretty sure I hadn't stopped smoking giant busloads of dope by then, so mistaken is possible.

I no longer confused about BFF's birthday, and I nail it with some consistency. Considering the proximity of this anniversary to my own birthday, I should not be confused and incompetent about timely wishing my beloveds happy anniversary things, which I suspect will involve some fucking horrible ethnic food bereft of animal products.

Love transcends Indian food, though, and Happiest of days to my best beloveds.

Monday, May 11, 2015

But Wait, There's More!

OMFG, are you serious? Look, beloved Whispers is a little bit of a partisan, maybe, but he's not wrong here. There's seriously zero evidence that Brady did anything, and punishing him for telling the NFL to stick it up its witch-hunting ass is bullshit. But as any number of disciplinary cases have shown, the NFL is completely full of shit when it comes to policing those who suck at its teat. It's a private club and it does what it wants.

And really, if you think that the air pressure in the footballs had anything to do with the Indianapolis Colts choking on their own vomit to the tune of 38 points...Jesus, just give me all your fucking money, because you're that fucking stupid.

And now? I've completely blown my lifetime budget for energy spent defending the Patriots, ever.