Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My People Have No Use for Insincere 'Niceness'

I'm a New Yorker, and New Yorkers tell it like it is... we just don't have the time to be doormats for people who we think suck manatee balls. Therefore, it's no surprise the anti-LGBTQ politica Nikki Haley was booed in a New York City restaurant on Pride Day. Fuck, lady, if you want an insincere show of what passes for 'politeness', you came to the wrong town... you can't live in a bubble in this city, life is lived too publicly for that shit.

There may be hope for Haley, after all, she did condemn LGBTQ purges in Chechnya. Of course, she has no control over Chechnyan policies, and in the places and times in which she did have control over policies regarding LGBTQ people, she didn't exactly cover herself in glory.

At any rate, don't expect people in NYC to be doormats, especially if you are a hypocrite who thinks that 'political correctness' is a problem, but when when bigots are taken to the woodshed. We New Yorkers don't tolerate assholes, and we don't care who we upset when we call out assholes for censure... after all, in this place, "fuck, fuckin' fucker's fuckin' fucked" is a perfectly grammatical sentence.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Beavis Goes to Bitburg

This weekend saw dueling fascist snoozefests in DC- the emo-boy Nazis and the insufficiently Aryan fascist contingent that they hate. At any rate, less than a hundred fascists showed up at both rallies, proving that Saturday Right Fever isn't bringing all the boys to the yard... not even all of the milk-drinking 'Proud Boys'.

Despite the unpopularity of the Anime Nazi contingents, the cool kids all noticed that Eric Trump is now sporting the 'fashy haircut' popular with the cartoon frog set... Beavis Goes to Bitburg.

Besides making the joke in the post title, this post gives me an excuse to post one of the few Ramones songs that was overtly political:





Despite the fact that the Ramones often sang about transgressive topics and invoked Nazi imagery for shock value, Joey Ramone was a nice, liberal Jewish boy from Queens... for all of his Blitzkrieg Bopping, I'm sure he'd be appalled at the rise of openly neo-Nazi groups, and the media's refusal to condemn them.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer Crop, Bumper Crop

Having had a few days over 90F (32C), there is a bumper crop of purslane (Portulaca oleracea) onsite:




Longtime readers will know that purslane is one of my all-time favorite foodstuffs. Purslane has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and has gained some cachet in the foodie community.

I picked a passel of purslane- this particular bunch will be dressed with tahini and yogurt (this will set off the purslane's tartness nicely) with a hint of garlic, to be served on slices of stale ciabatta bread fried in olive oil. Purslane is succulent, and while traditionally cooked in Mexican and Indian cuisines, I prefer to eat it raw because that crunchy, succulent texture is a large part of the plant's appeal to me.

Purslane's ability to thrive in the heat is due to its ability to 'switch on' the CAM photosynthetic process to conserve water. I made sure to pluck the stems off of the plants, leaving the roots (possibly to the chagrin of our horticultural staff, sorry guys!) in the ground. I'll be eating purslane for months, and will probably try pickling some, like Martha Washington did, for the cold, purslaneless months.

POSTSCRIPT:
Poking around the t00bz, I find that purslane is an ingredient in Rooh Afza, which is commonly consumed on Eid-al-Fitr on the Indian subcontinent. Happy Eid, folks.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Happy Pride Day 2017

Today marked NYC's annual LGBTQ Pride Day parade- here's wishing a happy pride day to all of my readers. Significantly, this year's pride parade was televised for the first time, furthering the goal of LGBTQ visibility. One theme that has been covered in the local news is the importance of trans-acceptance, another is the importance, in the post Pulse nightclub massacre and Trump/Pence election, the need to resist attacks on LGBTQ people, both physical and legislative.

I learned long ago that people who belittle, demean, and assault LGBTQ people are bullies, plain and simple. As a teenager, I witnessed a friend's family disown her when she came out... they destroyed their family, favoring small-minded bigotry over love and loyalty. Two gay friends of mine in high school tried to kill themselves... thankfully, neither one of them succeeded. I value equality, and I value authenticity- nobody should have to live a lie, or to live in hiding. The same regressive, authoritarian forces that want to curtail LGBTQ rights are the same ones who want to roll back women's rights and civil rights for minorities. In a very real sense, the LGBTQ pride movement is on the front lines of the culture wars, and the rest of us in the progressive community need to be thankful of them.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Current Fuzzy Earworm

If you were to ask me what the best album released in the 1990s was, I would unhesitatingly say Hedningarna's Trä... I just didn't really care for the 'grunge' scene, it was just slow, sludgy riffs on a style perfected by the Pixies, a band I have always loved, but devoid of the Pixies' humor. I did, however, love the slew of guitar-heavy bands fronted by female singers, such as Velocity Girl and Belly.

Another similar band was Boston's Fuzzy, who put out some great music, but didn't achieve monster hitmaker status. I listen to a lot of college radio, and Fuzzy's 1994 single Flashlight came up on a recent WFDU 'New Music Smorgasbord' playlist:





Sweet vocals and crunchy guitars... what's not to love? The band recently played a benefit for NARAL Pro-Choice America:





Resistance sure has a great sound.

Friday, June 23, 2017

So Proud of My Country

I've only kept a nominal watch on the news this week, so it was with some dismay that I saw the footage of the Capitol Police, so soon after they covered themselves in glory for stopping a mass shooter, ejecting disabled protestors from Mitch McConnell's office. I figure that, if you are evil enough to slash medical benefits for poor people, you are evil enough to manhandled disabled persons.

On a personal level, I am truly pissed off at some of the responses to this event from Trump supporters. Tengrain linked to NBC's Twitter coverage of this story and one asshole claimed that the protestors were pawns, and when called on it, claimed that they used their disabilities for 'the optics', as if they weren't confronted by their challenges daily. Christ wept, these people are disabled, but they are intelligent people with agency and dignity.

It's not surprising that a Trump supporter would have such a retrograde, bigoted attitude toward disabled people... he's just following the horrible example set by his Creep-in-Chief, who thought nothing of mocking Serge F. Kovaleski:





While Mr Kovaleski has a disability, he's a hell of a lot smarter than Vulgarmort, and would make a better president. At the very least, he wouldn't be slashing the very medical benefits who allow people with disabilities to work and to study and, yes, to protest.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Going to Have to Think of Ginger as a Solo Act

I've been a bit behind the news this week, being preoccupied with the final days of my beloved Fred. For the record, I spent a half hour with Fred in the predawn hours this morning, bidding him goodbye. This morning, he sat under the apple trees onsite with his sister and a bunch of two-legged co-workers until it was time. At 10:45AM, my friend and co-worker Rob, the manager who is the cats' primary caretaker, accompanied by our co-worker Iris, took Fred to the veterinarian's office for one final time.

The company e-mail system is full of eulogies for Fred, and pictures of the handsome beast... it has been one long outpouring of love for this cat who has been a part of our lives for the past seven years:




The real weird thing is having to talk about Fred and Ginger in the past tense. The two cats were a package deal and a matching set, though they had widely divergent dispositions- Fred being a mellow beast (sorta like a Labrador retriever trapped in a cat's body) while Ginger is mercurial. They were complementary- their interaction never failed to amuse me. It'll be strange thinking of Ginger as a solo act, without her calm, steady foil:




I saw Rob tonight at shift change and thanked him for taking on the burden of bringing Fred to be euthanized... I've been in that position before, and it's not easy. I haven't checked in on Ginger yet, but I'll be poking my head in on her soon. She was clingy last night, tonight I'll let her cling as much as she needs to.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Friends of Fred

This evening, three of the contractors who work on our major Fall fundraiser stopped by to bid adieu to Fred. Over the years, these good folks have become friends of mine, and friends of the cats. They have logged many hours in on the site, and they came to love Fred and Ginger. Tomorrow, one of our managers has the unenviable duty of taking Fred to the veterinarian's office for the final time- he has had the task of taking the cats for their quarterly checkups ever since we got them from a former co-worker, and his devotion to Fred is second-to-none. I have been getting the sad news out to former co-workers and seasonal contractors who have become attached to our dear cat.

I came in early to work, and the co-worker I was relieving and I waited for our friends to arrive. My co-worker had to euthanize his 15 year-old pet cat only a month prior, due to kidney problems. My brother Vincenzo is facing a similar situation with his beloved 18-year old marmalade cat, Orange Juice. We are all cat people, so there was a melancholy mood to our sendoff to Fred. Petting Fred, my friend Ali noted that he 'looks fat, but feels skinny'... he's bloated from the medicine as well as the tumor, but his spine stands out. I took one last picture of my beloved sibling feline comedy team:




This picture really catches the essence of the two cats- there's Fred, looking regal and composed as he sits on the ground, while Ginger is a blur of motion. My friends took a few pictures of me with the cat, mementos of our final night together. Our friends stayed with us for a good two-hours, commiserating with me and fussing over Fred. I am fortunate to have such good friends, both two-legged and four. Thank you for the outpouring of sympathy, sharing the sadness makes it more bearable.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Downside of the Deal We Make With the Kitties

I have some sad news to impart to longtime readers... my beloved Fred has been diagnosed with a cancerous mass in his belly. It's probably only a matter of days until he shuffles off this mortal coil. See, there I go with my Shakespeare again...

Fred came to us seven years ago, a package deal with his sister Ginger- both of them offspring of a feral cat which was being cared for by a two-legged former co-worker. At first shy around people, three months after his arrival he grew into perhaps the most loyal and devoted cat I have ever met. I fell madly in love with this cat one night after our major Fall fundraiser, when he trotted at my heels as I traversed a half-mile course from one end of the property to the other over the course of an hour, shutting down lights, locking doors, and making sure that everything was ship-shape.

Fred is one of those cats that acts like a dog- he has always been a calm creature, not prone to the jumpiness that characterizes a lot of felines. As I made my inspection tours of the property, he would be on my tail, while his sister would rove around us, checking out everything and occasionally stopping to give her brother a sniff or to get an ear-scratch from me. It grew to be a bit of a joke, I had two orange-and-white shadows which would follow me around the site.

Over the course of the years, Fred matured into a large, strong cat, an accomplished rodent-slayer and defender of storage areas. His was a handsome figure, a perfect representation of feline beauty and power:




He was unfailingly affectionate with those fortunate people that he favored, and he'd often bump my hand in order to elicit a good scratching:




I am sad that Fred, who I believed I'd have years of future fun with, is on his way out at the all-too-young age of seven, but what really has me concerned is the reaction from his sister. The two have always been inseparable:




The two cats have been quite the comedy team, with Fred playing the mellow straight man to the boisterous, mischievous Ginger. Even today, Ginger caused havoc when a school group visited the site- instead of locking their bag lunches in the school bus, the school group brought them onsite, and Ginger got into a bunch of them, eating the Principal's sandwich and necessitating the hasty purchase of pizza by our shop manager. When they were younger, the cats had a knack for squeezing out of a small vent window and roaming the site until I'd put them back inside- typically, I'd put one of them back inside and the other would get out... a revolving door effect that I found more amusing than annoying. I never failed to laugh when I'd see a pair of tiny golden orbs bouncing towards me as one of the cats would bound over to join me.

A week ago Sunday, one of our managers brought Fred to a veterinarian's office when he appeared to be lethargic. We all thought Fred was merely overheated, but a follow-up visit to Fred and Ginger's usual veterinarian revealed that Fred had cancer. The vet prescribed Prednisone to bring Fred out of his torpor, but indicated that the prognosis wasn't good. Fred hasn't much of an appetite, and his activity level is way down. I have made it a point to stop by and give him attention on a regular basis, because I don't know when our last time to be together will be. I took this picture last night, Fred playing a bright spot in a darkened room:




Four years ago, when I posted about the death of another of our storied mousers, the wise Smut Clyde commented: "It's the downside of our deal with the kitties." I knew the day would come when I would lose Fred, but I didn't think it would be coming so soon. Everyone on the job is sad at the prospects of losing our 'good' kitty... I just hope our naughty kitty can cope with the loss.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Et Tu, Covfefe?

I've had my beef with Shakespeare, albeit a fake conflict which depended on a familiarity with the Bard's works and with the history which inspired them he distorted. Despite the fact that Slick Willie 1.0 did a hit job on Lady Macbeth and her husband, Good King Macbeth, I just can't stay mad at him. I have long suspected that my father (Happy Fathers' Day to all of the dads out there) was a frustrated actor- he was the sort of guy who would dart a glance at you at dinner and intone: "Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look." As a treat, he took the three eldest of us to see James Earl Jones as Othello and Christopher Plummer as Iago, with one proviso... if we wanted to see 'Darth Vader' live and in person, we had to read the play. For the record, he also took us to see Derek Jacobi as Cyrano de Bergerac with the same prerequisite. In the 7th grade, my English teacher, who was big on public speaking, made us memorize and recite Marc Antony's eulogy of Caesar. Like most educated persons in the anglophone world, I have a long relationship, and a pleasurable one, with the Bard of Avon.

They key word here is 'educated', as there has been a lot of outrage, poutrage, and fauxtrage over this year's Central Park 'Shakespeare in the Park' production of Julius Caesar , in which Caesar is portrayed with a blond combover like Vulgarmort's. I'm going to pause here to indicate that Julius Caesar, while being self-promoting, power-hungry and ruthless, was hypercompetent and a fine literary stylist... much unlike Vulgarmort. There's no real comparison between the two men. Also, as numerous pundits have pointed out, the play underscores the dangers of political assassination, and the chaos which results from using violence for political ends. The play is most definitely not a glorification or endorsement of political violence... but try telling that to the dumbasses.

Last Friday, two alt-right idiots briefly disrupted the performance of Julius Caesar- a demonstration of, well, a demonstration of their ignorance, or more likely, a rube-fleecing, as these hack-tivists launched a fundraising site for the stage-stormer's legal defense... hours before the 'protest'. The crowning glory of this stunt was Posobiec'e goober garbling Goebbels response to the tresspasser's removal from the stage. By the way, nice job, jackass, for making 'the girl' take the risks. The whole sad affair was followed up by the saddest protest in the world.

The real tragedy here is the fact that the people who claim to be the defenders of Western Civilization are people who are totally unfamiliar with it. These people are proud ignoramuses, the sort of people who believe that the Western Canon refers to Fort Apache. Growing up in the Northeast, I grew up thinking that the American ideal was a population in which even the working class was educated, a nation of literate farmers, longshoremen, and factory workers. I believed in a nation which values free productions of Shakespearean plays, which sees itself as a continuation of a classical tradition which Shakespeare, a true Renaissance man, referenced in certain of his plays.

The two alt-right knuckleheads, or grifters as the case may well be, who engineered this stunt should be sentenced to actually reading Julius Caesar, and perhaps writing essays on the themes presented in the play. It really would be a shame if a bunch of idiots could truly declare "Show's over Shakespeare."





Maybe somebody could come up with a 'King Lear' themed monster truck show, maybe a 'Tempest' themed WWE storyline...

ADDENDUM: Or perhaps better called an 'addendumb'- these idiots aren't even familiar with 20th Century American literature or 17th Century colonial history.

ADDENDUM SECUNDUM: This might be my favorite right-wing tweet ever- some guy who is completely ignorant of Roman history and English literature thinks he's going to save Western Civilization.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Another Trip Around the Sun

Today marks another journey around Old Sol. I was born in a year which marked one of the pinnacles of human achievement (I leave it to you, dear readers, to figure out which one), in an era in which intelligence and learning were taken for granted. It's pretty damn depressing to see how debased our culture has gotten, all to serve for people's greed and prejudices. Quel dommage... quel dumbasses. The future, it's not what it used to be, the shining visions of my boyhood just aren't very convincing, not for the general bulk of humanity. I'm doing okay, though. It just bugs me that so many people aren't doing okay, not okay at all.

I decided not to bother taking a vacation day to mark the occasion... I simply don't have the patience to deal with weekend crowds anywhere anymore, better to celebrate on a weeknight. Besides, I like my job, I like my co-workers, I even like the vast majority of the people who visit, and the ones who I come to dislike are invariably in a clear-cut adversarial position... I like ambiguity, but not on the job.

Before heading to work, I received calls from Mom and my brother Sweetums, and exchanged text messages with a friend who happens to share the same natal anniversary, and another friend whose birthday I celebrated last Wednesday. Phone reception on my personal phone on the jobsite is pretty bad, so I'll check my voicemail in a while to catch up with other well-wishers. I'll save the carrying-on for next Tuesday, my typical night out.

Anyway, it's another trip around the home-star, thanks for sharing it with me, folks. I don't make a big deal about the day, but I'm glad to have friends, family, and readers. Let's hope the coming year sees some improvement in the general malaise that's gripping our not-so-sapiens species.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Addition to the Blogroll

Here's a small housekeeping note... I have added The Ink'd Scrivener, the website of a friend, to the blogroll. I have known the Scrivener for years, and she's a good friend- a generous and caring individual. She's also a freelance writer, so if you have any writing needs, she's your huckleberry:





And she'll never walk over your grave, unless you piss her off mightily. Don't piss her off mightily, though that would take some doing.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

At Least There's Something to Be Happy About

Longtime readers of this blog will know that I have a deep, abiding love of mulberries, which grow in profusion on a couple of my jobsites, and near my home, which is in a vicinity which used to be a failed silkworm ranch. Typically, I consume vast quantities of mulberries in the early summer, though last year was a horrible year for fruit picking- many varieties of fruit were denied me last year.

This year, though, promises to be a good one for usufruct, the first ripe mulberries have already shown up on certain trees:




I spent a good ten minutes on the job simply scarfing down all the ripe mulberries within reach. Most of the fruits are still unripe, the white mulberries are especially hard to determine the ripeness of... ripe berries are not so different from the unripe ones, they merely take on a plump, shiny appearance. The unripe berries are hallucinogenic, but make one violently ill.

One of my informants also tells me that the sour cherries onsite are coming in nicely, they typically ripen in early July. It's going to be a banner year for homemade booze, and the way things are going, I'm going to need a lot of it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

This Is What a 'Second Amendment Solution' Looks Like

The big news story here in the 'States is the shooting of GOP Congressman Steve Scalise, a lobbyist, a congressional staffer and a Capitol Police officer. Scalise has had a pro-gun legislative agenda, so there is a certain irony in his wounding at the hands of a gunman. Republicans have long had a flirtation with political violence, as Sharron Angle so memorably stated:

"If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are going to start looking for second amendment remedies..."

Well, now we have an unhinged individual who found a 'second amendment remedy', which looks a lot like a critically injured middle-aged man. Six years ago, it was Representative Gabrielle Giffords who was shot after Sarah Palin's PAC put out a suggestive ad 'putting crosshairs' on Giffords. There is a strain throughout the American populace which is overly comfortable with the notion of using arms for political aims, including a creep who was actually at the scene of today's shooting:




Rand Paul's statement would seem to condone today's shooting- after all, who gets to be the arbiter of 'tyranny' when arms are available to just about any despondent, desperate, or deranged individual?

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country, there was a workplace shooting and a lockdown at a military base.

In the wake of Scalise's shooting, Michigan Republican Representative Mike Bishop stated that he was convinced that he was being hunted by the gunman. Well, welcome to the world that you've helped to build for the rest of us... now, what the hell are you going to do to get all of us out of it? 'Second Amendment Solutions' are ugly things, but they're all you've got when the only tool you have is a gun.

UPDATE: This is a bit awkward...

SECOND UPDATE: Remember this charming bit from Trump?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Three Percenters, 4chan

I find myself laughing in an almost unseemly fashion over this story of an anime Nazi running afoul of more typical American Nazis at a pro-Confederate rally in Houston. 4chan, meet Three Percenters.

The funniest thing about this confrontation is the fact that a "Sergeant Rock" cosplayer told the White Power/Green Frog guy, "Dude, this is not Comicon."

Meanwhile, poor alt-right kid just wanted to make friends, plaintively crying, "These are good memes!" Silly boy, Jethro doesn't care about your memes.

It's heartening to see that the right is fragmented and prone to internecine conflicts. Hopefully, they will bring each other down. I hate emo-boy Nazis, and it looks like other Nazis do too.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The 'Alternative' to Twitter Has a Twitter Account

I have to confess that, while not on Twitter, I have a bit of an addiction to watching the train wreck that is Donald Trump's Twitter feed, a fascinating array of bots and trolls of various stripes who vie to be the first to respond to a Trump tweet. The whole spectacle is like watching a digital train wreck, a farrago of bad grammar and worse politics, leavened with some genuine, cutting wit.

While scanning a thread, I found it hilarious that the alt-right 'alternative' to Twitter has a Twitter account. To compound the hilarity, the account has a mere 30K followers. SAD! I guess that it's impossible for these guys to self-promote without playing the 'beta' to the Big League corporate behemoth. Buncha cucks...

I thought that I had posted about the 'alt-right, alt-Twitter' before, but most of my posts about green frogs have been about frogs that are green, though not necessarily about green frogs.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

West, the Best

Holy part of my childhood is gone, Adam West, simply the best 'Batman' from the best Batman iteration has died at the age of 88. The 1960s Batman television series was a wonder of glorious camp and day-glo surrealism, and Adam West, despite his outrageous costume, was the greatest straight man in the history of television. Surrounded by a coterie of fine character actors playing outrageous, insane villains, Adam West came across like a player from the Walla Walla Shakespeare Company who wandered onto the set, delivering even the most ludicrous lines with a gravitas fitting the Bard's tragedies:





Like any Shakespearean actor worth his doublet, Mr West knew how to handle himself in an onstage 'affray':





He had the chiseled good looks to play a millionaire playboy philanthropist, this particular scene is a funny showcase of his acting, with him using different mannerisms for his two personae, even though the conversation is taking place on the phone:





There was just a hint of kink, by 60s standards, to Bruce Wayne, a guy who dresses in tights and has an ambiguous relationship to Dick, but Batman was a total square:





He did, though, have some great dance moves to impress the ladies:





One of the best aspects of the show was Adam West's chemistry with Julie Newmar- there was a funny dynamic between the glacier-cool, cerebral Batman and the smoldering, amoral Catwoman:





That one scene perfectly encapsulates the comedic-yet-sexy vibe of the series, with Adam West unflappably portraying the straitlaced Batman and Julie Newmar practically burning through the television screen with her provocative performance. MEE-OW! I imagine Mr West had some serious acting chops to maintain his composure during that scene.

The 1960s Batman show was bright, fun, and clever, with Adam West's Batman being an erudite goody two-shoes (in one episode, Batman pauses to put a nickel in a parking meter, in another episode, a bomb in the Batmobile fails to detonate because Batman won't exceed the speed limit). The Gotham City portrayed in the show wasn't a 'grimdark' hellhole, merely a fictionalized New York City, complete with a Mayor Linseed. Adam West's Batman, a cultured man, wouldn't deliver a stupid line like this:




The best contrast between Adam West's Batman and the 'gritty reboot' Batman of the Tim Burton movie can be seen in this juxtaposition between the best scene from the 1966 Batman movie and the decidedly less fun Burton film:





Adam West's Batman, as opposed to Burton's grinning sociopath, imperiled his own life to save a bunch of ducks, he sure as hell wouldn't have killed a villain, no matter how bad. This was a character without a hint of cynicism, a noble and incorruptible figure who evinces optimism- there was no problem that brains, skill, and a bit of bat shark repellent spray couldn't solve... and even Catwoman could be forgiven, once she did her time for the crime. This is comic book superheroics done right- a show that is equally appealing to little kids and to adults. If I want noir, I'll watch real noir not some Frank Miller fake tough-guy noir-for-numbnuts.

It's a shame that Adam West's career was sidelined for a while because he was overshadowed by the character he played, but he made his peace with the cape and cowl and garnered a multi-generational fanbase. The guy had a great sense of humor, and projected class... if your kid is going to have a television character as an idol, Adam West's Batman would be an optimal choice... for all of the *BIFF BAM POW* cartoon action on the screen, there were brains and heart as well.

The good people at Tor Books had a blog series recapping the entire run of 1960s Batman episodes. It's a fun read, and a nice way to remember Adam West.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Unlikely Heroes, Unlovely Heroes

One of the major regional stories here is a projected bad season for the spread of Lyme disease- the winter was mild, so the ticks which are vectors for the disease are expected to experience a population explosion.

There is hope, and help, though, from an unexpected source... the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), an unlovely animal unloved by most people, is a veritable tick vacuum- ticks will attach themselves to 'possums in order to suck their blood, and the 'possums will groom themselves and eat the ticks attached to them. Opossums are somewhat resistant to pathogens which affect placental mammals, such as rabies, probably because they have relatively low body temperatures.

While homely and pretty stupid, opossums thrive in spite of their deficiencies, being the only marsupials in temperate North America and the most successful migrant resulting from the Great American Interchange. Not only are they survivors, but they have been found to be 'helpers'. I have a fondness for the goofy things, and as a guy who spends a lot of time outdoors, a feeling of gratitude as well.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Politics Is a Spectator Sport

I live in the City of Yonkers, specifically in the Tavern District of Yonkers. Yonkers is the birthplace of James Comey, who is going to be testifying before congress this morning. Apparently, certain bars around the country will be opening early to show Comey's testimony. I doubt that any of the local bars will be opening early to show Comey on the stand, even though he is a native son... it's not like his testimony is that important to the people in my neighborhood, it's not like a Premier League match... though there is some appeal to watching an Orange Man being discomfited.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Prodigal Returns

Today marked the return of a co-worker who had left the organization a year-and-a-half ago. He left under the best of circumstances, giving a month's notice and working until the end of the busy season. He and I remained in touch- I still kept his contact information programmed into my phone, and we'd text back and forth on occasion. He's come back on his own terms, working three four-hour shifts per week, which is perfect for our department because the other part-timers don't see him as a threat to their hours.

I get along famously with the guy- we have similar values, similar attitudes. Besides, he's a reader, and has an exhaustive knowledge of music, from old blues classics to death metal. One of my underlings joked that, when this guy was originally hired, our then boss basically was hiring another me.

Predictably, when he came back, it felt to him and to everyone who had worked with him before as if he had never left. He hit it off with with the new hires as well, being a stand-up guy. I arrived at work early to see how his return had gone, and we ended up just shooting the breeze for almost an hour. Yep, it was like he'd never left.

Anyway, here's an appropriate song by a young Errol Dunkley to commemorate the return:





Most importantly, my friend and co-worker is not afraid of the dark.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Maturity Beyond Her Years

I have to confess that I am not familiar with the oeuvre of Ariana Grande, and a month ago, I probably would have yelled at her to get off my lawn. My sole knowledge of her came in the aftermath of a bratty outburst, one for which she apologized.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the fans attending her Manchester concert, Ms Grande has show a maturity beyond her years and an admirable depth of compassion. I imagine she must feel a pang of guilt, even though she is blameless, because the victims of the attack were at the scene simply because they wanted to hear her perform. Her response to horror has been perfect- her devotion to her wounded fans and her efforts to help the survivors are inspirational. In the course of two weeks, this young woman has matured into a paragon of kindness and solidarity. She has shown a maturity and level-headedness far in excess of that shown by the president of the U.S.

I'm not familiar with Ms Grande's body of work, but my friend's daughter showed me a SNL sketch in which she did a number of impressions:





While I think the sketch falls somewhat flat in the humor department (I'm not a big fan of the music she spoofs), it does a good job of showcasing her vocal skill. Her skill at navigating a straight course in the face of tragedy is even more impressive.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

This Shit Again?

An early June weekend, another series of terrorist attacks on innocent revelers... from the reports, an attack with a motor vehicle followed by a series of stabbings. This shit is getting old- with the Manchester bombing and the New York failed 'suicide by cop' which killed a young woman, the Portland train stabbings and the University of Maryland killing, I am positively furious at all of the assholes on this planet who hold human lives in contempt. It just seems that there is a minority of people who cannot peaceably coexist with others.

I know that the statistics show that violence has been falling precipitously in recent decades, but the litany of recent horrors seems to suggest that an uptick will be inevitable. It's hard to avoid letting cynicism and melancholy take hold of oneself, but my native optimism is being sorely taxed lately.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Detecting a Certain Similarity

I am fortunate in having an interesting local commercial radio station to listen to, one which debuts new music as well as playing a wide array of older tunes rather than the same old sixty or seventy 'classic rock' songs. One of the songs that is getting recent airplay is Blood in the Cut, an anthem to rough-living by an artist by the name of K. Flay. It's a got a chunky rhythm track with a bit of an 'industrial' sound:





Listening to that rhythm track, I am reminded of the song Metal, by Gary Numan:





There are differences, to be sure, especially when the vocals are taken into consideration, but the sound is similar to me. I am not insinuating anything negative about Ms Flay's songwriting, just commenting on a perceived 'relationship' between the two sounds. Gary Numan had a profound impact on industrial music, and Ms Flay is carrying on in this interesting musical... errrrr... vein.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

On My Sister's Birthday, an Appreciation for Geek Girls

As is customary on this blog, I devote June 1st to wishing my sister a happy birthday. For the record, my sister is a bona fide rocket scientist- she majored in chemical engineering as an undergrad on an Air Force ROTC scholarship, obtained her masters after her commissioning, and served as an officer to fulfill her commitment. She has spent her post-military career in the aero-astro field, with one notable job being for a company which worked on perfecting satellite power cells. Put succinctly, her 'geek credentials' are second-to-none.

As the only girl in a family with five children, my sister grew up as a tomboy... the very idea that she would be excluded from any of our activities would have been unthinkable to us. Along with the boys, she watched blockbuster movies about space-samurai-wizard heroes, played computer games, and chucked funny dice. She can handle a basketball or baseball bat credibly, and she participated in all sorts of camping trips, fishing expeditions, and hikes. I can't recall any time in our youth when she was treated differently from the boys. In a family of five kids, there was really no scope for treating anyone in an alternate manner. Our mom placed a premium on our education, having no tolerance for academic-slackerhood, and our sister excelled in all STEM fields.

Having gotten this background information out of the way, I have to express some amusement at the poutrage over women-only showings of the upcoming Wonder Woman film at several Alamo Drafthouse theater locations. For too long, self-identified nerds have derided women who enjoy gaming, speculative fiction, and comic books as fake geek girls. Things came to a head with a sustained campaign of harassment of women involved in the video game industry, complete with death threats against women who had the temerity to give pithy critiques of lazy, sexist and racist tropes in popular culture. Yes, claiming that boob-plate is silly can result in a slew of death-threats, necessitating a change of address to a safe, undisclosed location. Is it any wonder (heh) that women (heh) would like a time-and-place where they can enjoy a 'nerd movie' without having a bunch of angry boys acting as gatekeepers and belittlers?

As a kid, I would have caught hell from mom for trying to exclude my sister from any of our activities. They way I see it, the Alamo Drafthouse is giving the boys a 'time out' because they haven't learned to share the toys with their sisters.