Saturday, December 16, 2023

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Friday, October 06, 2023

Screaming Steve

 Might want to turn the sound down ...

Sunday, September 17, 2023

I'm a Pretty Good Shooter, How Can I be a Stormtrooper?


Some years ago, I engaged in discussions on the late Harlan Ellison’s webpage. 

Harlan was not a computer guy. A friend who was set it up, and Harlan could post his comments. I knew Harlan slightly, was a fan of his writing and speaking.

The discussions were sometimes lively and contentious, and there were some bright and clever folks who showed up for the fray. Some posted under pseudonyms because they were kinda famous and didn’t want to flash that around. Others just hid behind screen-noms so they could safely snark.

There were rules, one of which was, you were allowed one post a day, so as not to clutter things up. Ellison had favorites, and would allow them to post more frequently, but pretty much, the laity were to speak their piece and then wait until the next day to continue -- unless Harlan asked them a direct question.

One particular discussion involved a science fiction writer who was a Canadian. Upon attempting to cross the national border from the U.S. back into Canada, said writer got into a pissing match with a border patrolman. Words were exchanged, and the writer was marched off to the hoosegow.

As I recall the backstory, the writer allowed that he had done nothing to merit an attack, and that the BP agents thumped him, MACEd him, and put the cuffs on, for no reason.

The agents said that the routine inspection of his vehicle resulted in him stepping out of his car and getting surly. When told to get back into his car, he refused and got surlier, and physical.

I wasn't there, I don't know what happened, but he was charged, arrested, bailed out the next day, and came back in the spring for his trial. ***

Many of Harlan’s fans and friends and other posters were liberals, shading into radicals. The outrage at this event was exclaimed high, loud, and repeatedly. How dare those jackbooted stormtroopers do such a thing! The writer was an innocent, beset by bullyboy thugs! The injustice of it! ACAB!

Lot of echoes there.

Being a liberal-shading-into-radical, one would expect me to be on that bandwagon, sloshing my beer and ranting about the goose-steppers.

As somebody trained to be a journalist, I was curious, so I poked around, found the news accounts, the writer’s comments, those of the border patrol agent, other witnesses, and lo! the full-color picture of the innocent writer attacked for no reason whatsoever by the evil brown shirts was somewhat clearer than the fuzzy black-and-white snapshot offered to Harlan’s forum.

So, I said, Um, perhaps there is more to be seen here? You should go look. I did not say he was guilty, mind you, only that further research might be beneficial.

Oh, my. The explosion of the liberal-left was deafening. How dare I!? What was wrong with me, that I would take the side of the fascist pigs? 

Got called a jackbooted Nazi Fascist stormtrooper by a few of the serious spittle-spewers, which, I confess, I found hilarious. There are those on the Left who, if you are not in 100% agreement, count you as fully against them.

Since the pile-on was heavy, I was allowed to post more than once a day, and my refutation of the knee-jerk response was, I thought, reasoned, with, you know, facts and all. I was right, the mob was wrong, and I said so. Because my heart was pure, I had the strength of ten, and amongst the other folks who were capable of reasons and not simply cant, I gained a following. 

Eventually, the arguments died down and we went on to some other tempest-in-a-teapot. I considered that a win, because, being right and all.

But: Here’s the point of this long-winded backstory: A couple years later, on FaceBook, I friended a writer, one of the folks involved in that aforementioned discussion. He had not been the most vehement about me being a stormtrooper, but had been on that side of the table. Still, it had been a while, and that discussion well back in the rear-view mirror. I liked the writer’s work.

Howsoever, when I posted comments on this writer’s page, in most instances, if I said something even mildly critical? I got quick and hard pushback. Often for things that other posters had said or echoed, and for whom doing so got no such response.


It was just me, apparently. 

And I wondered: Am I still the jackbooted stormtrooper in this narrative? Did he hold onto that in some memory engram?

I believe it is a possibility. That there is a supposition my stormtrooperness is so, and thus a prejudged expectation. 

Not a major problem, and first-world at that, but interesting if that is the case.

***  The writer was found guilty by the jury for obstruction, got a fine, sentence suspended.

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Before and After

 Before, L., after, R. 

Starting weight, 192 pounds; after six weeks, 195 pounds. 

Second photo, 76th birthday. Click to see larger image.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Tuesday, April 11, 2023


Here’s the story:

My friend Dan, his better half, Amy, and Charlie the Wonder Dog, came to visit me after my wife passed away. To take care of me, which they did, and for which I will ever be grateful.

They elected to stay in the trailer they towed, in the middle of a nasty heat spell, and whose AC demands overloaded any circuit I had in the house, but that’s another funny story.

So, RVs have, the larger ones, onboard waste tanks. One is for kitchen and bathroom sink drainage, and is called the gray water tank. The other is for sewage, and is deemed the black water tank.

Over a period of time, these tanks fill, and must be drained. Dumping one’s tanks is a time-honored ritual known to all RV owners.

Now, normally, this is a simple, easy procedure. One drives to a waste disposal place where this is done, hooks up a large, flexible hose to the outro pipe, sticks the end into an in-ground tank. The black water valve is opened first. When it is done draining, the gray water follows, which cleans out the hose somewhat. Valves closed, the hose is removed, rinsed out — one wears gloves doing this — and stored in a special compartment, and all done.

So, Dan — wearing cowboy boots, this part is important — takes the rig to a drainage site to perform this chore. He hated towing this thing, seriously hated it, and the rig, being semi-sentient, knew this.

Arrives, he, at the site, hooks up the drainage hose, fastens it place, and opens the black water valve. 

But, no rush of black water.

Because the trailer knows he hates it, and has taken umbrage at this.

So Dan, being a DIY kinda guy, says, Oh, no, you don’t, trailer! He figures that perhaps there is a blockage in the black water pipe.

Here’s an idea: I’ll poke a stick up there and dislodge that blockage.

Excuse me, I have to pause here, wait for the laughter to stop, which always takes a while, wipe the tears from my eyes, since I can’t type until this happens.

Okay, okay, I’m good, I -- wait, hold on …

Okay, no, really. I’m can do this.

I am going to skip ahead here, to the part where Dan comes home, enters the house, and Amy and Charlie and I call out: Hey, how’d it go?

Imagine, if you would, a car full of angry, drunken sailors on shore leave who have somehow been accidentally transported to a church full of nuns instead of a house of ill repute at which they thought they were arriving. The language.

Here upon, Dan steps into view. 

Wearing running shoes.

Why, Dan — why are you wearing running shoes? What happened to your boots?

Okay, hold on a second, just a second, I’m okay. This part doesn’t take as long to get it back together.


There is no need to gild the lily here. What happens when a full tank of black water whose drain pipe is blocked suddenly becomes unblocked? 

Ever see one of those old movies where the drillers strike oil and a gusher of it spews fifty feet into the air and rains down upon the crew, who are smiling because now they are rich?

Leave out the smile-we’re-rich! part, add in the drunken, angry sailors. And Dan.


That. That is how it went.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Ukulele Practice - The Devil's Back in Town

Song by Mike Byers, based on the Dineh monster hunter chasing the Christian God ...