Sunday, December 21, 2008

Inspector Gadget: Goodbye Gutenberg

Jeff Bezos, the founder of, has a vision. He wants to replace these . . .


. . . with this:

Cheap Piece of Chinese crap

Call me a crusty old curmudgeon—go ahead—but there is no fucking way I will ever give up real books for an e-reader called the "Kindle" (whatever that means). It has a GIGANTIC 6" diagonal grayscale screen, holds about 200 "books," and is notorious for flipping several pages at a time instead of just one—the traditional way of reading anything.

Personally, I think my bookcases would look pretty stupid, not to mention superfluous, with just a Kindle sitting there, recharging every few hours for two hours at a time. And something the Kindle fans may not know about: Flash memory eventually wears out, just like it does on iPods. Library here today, gone tomorrow.

Hmm, not a bad idea for schlockmeisters like Nora Roberts and James Patterson . . .

Monday, December 15, 2008

'Tis the Season to Woof & Meow

During this time of economic chaos, meaning the poor are getting poorer, there is a class right at the bottom of the totem pole: homeless dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, and other assorted critters. These domesticated animals—unwanted, dumped, neglected, subjected to cruelty and torture—are also least able to take care of themselves. They remain totally helpless regardless of how rich the banks are getting.

So Martha and I are celebrating Christmas differently this year. Instead of spending money on gifts, we are sending it to a charity we've supported for over twenty years: the Denver Dumb Friends League. Unfortunately it is a kill shelter, and last year they had to destroy almost 30,000 animals. 30,000 kills for just one shelter, which sounds like an oxymoron. On the other hand, they managed to place another 30,000 through in-house adoptions, rescue groups, pets for the elderly, and other programs.

(Click on the photo to see it full size.)

Our own little guy, "Irish", was on a kill list somewhere in Phoenix the day he was rescued, and that would have been horrendous because he's so loveable—and loving in return.

His snoring lulls me to wakefulness

Our long-time friend Rhonda is now an official foster home for Heartland Humane Society, and she has a new blog called Almost Home. Not only does Rhonda write about fostering, but her photography is incredibly good. If you're the type who has difficulty reading, stop by her blog just for the pictures.

So I think this is going to be a pretty heart-warming Christmas for Martha and me. No socks made out of burlap for me, and no Paris Hilton fragrance, the one called "Spring on the Hog Farm," for Martha. Maybe, just maybe, we will save a beautiful little animal for someone to love.

And love is what Christmas should be all about.

Denver Dumb Friends League
Heartland Humane Society

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Trip Down Memory Lane . . .

I thought these childhood photographs were long gone until I happened to be rooting around in Martha's home office supply cabinet and I found an envelope full of priceless snapshots. Boy, I can't wait to share some of them with you, fellow and fellowette bloggers!

Darn good advice, Mom. I was somewhere around three in this photo, and I started smartening up immediately. I was a competitive little shit and there was no way I was going to grow up more stupid that my Pop.

Mom was right on the money again, but I was way ahead of her this time. I knew I was in trouble help-wise way back when Pop took me to the first day of kindergarten and he couldn't get the school door open. He kept pushing it and pushing it until he was hyperventilating from mumbling so many dirty words. It was an itty-bitty blonde girl who saved the day when she elbowed her way past Pop and pulled the door open as easy as pie. "I feel sorry for you, kid," she said to me, while Pop was grumbling about not noticing the big sign on the door that said "PULL" because he didn't have his glasses with him . . .

Mom didn't know any Spanish, so I switched to English. I don't have the poem, dammit, but I remember the words dumb, rum, bum, and the ending line, "You're a crumb." My teacher really liked it and she gave me an "A" . . .

[Thanks to Jim Unger and his great Herman comics. And thankfully, this isn't my real Mom and Pop.]

Friday, November 28, 2008


PUBLIC NOTICE: During the last fifty years or so, I have “loaned” favorite books, vinyl records, cassette and video tapes, CDs, DVDs, and a wonderful collection of nudist magazines to a shitload of my “dearest friends.” Never mind that I have no idea who those dearest friends were, nor do I have the faintest idea what I loaned them. All I remember for sure is that each and every one of them said, “I promise that I’ll return this in a couple of weeks.” Yeah, well, your time is up, dearest assholes: I want my stuff back in a couple of weeks. Inquire within.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Charlie in Love

Sometimes, on the spur of the moment, I can really freak me out. Like week before last, when Martha went to Kansas City for two days for business meetings.

She had a late flight out at eight p.m., so at six she was ready to leave and said her goodbyes. She patted my head and said, "Good boy!", gave each of the dogs a big loving kiss, and then pulled her carry-on bag-on-wheels to the front door. “God, how little she looks,” I thought for the ten-millionth time since we met in February 1974. And that’s when I freaked me out.

“What if that was the last time I will ever see her again?” I thought not two minutes after she was gone, the tears starting to roll down my cheeks. I wondered, “What would life be like without her?” Martha is the one who makes this house a home, the one whose spirit has made this place alive for thirty-four years. How could she suddenly not be here anymore?

Yes, she has her faults just like everyone. But there is only one that I have not adjusted to: Martha is a reader of "romance" novels.

I jest, but the mind-picture of her walking away with her baggage is still as strong as it was two weeks ago. It isn’t a foreboding glimpse into the future or anything psychic; rather, it is a reminder of how much I love and care for her. How much I want to hold and hug her.

How much I want her to be here with me until death do us part.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sick and Tired

I’m not really sick and tired, fellow bloggers. Rather, I’m sick and fucking tired, but if I used fucking in the title I would probably be de-bloggered. Perhaps I should use the Irish pronunciation, fooking, but I haven’t time to fook around with it right now.

No, I’m more concerned with current media buzzwords like “financial crisis,” “bailout,” and the winner, “700 billion dollars.”

Allow me to tell you a story (geeze, I can hear the snoring already!).

Five years ago August, Martha and I bought our little home, Casa la Dumpa, for $135,000. We qualified for a larger and more expensive house, but we didn’t need a larger and more expensive house: This one had plenty of closet space for Martha’s shoes, so it was just the right fit (a little footwear humor there).

For financing, I insisted on a conventional mortgage: That is, we made a $10,000 down payment from money we had saved while renting for six years, and in return we got a fixed percentage rate and a fixed payment amount for 30 years from a reputable lender. The rate was a little high, but our payment was still $300 less a month than our rent had been.

Our real estate agent, however, told me he could have arranged a better financing deal—something along the lines of almost no money down, a ridiculously low payment of $300 or $400 a month for five years, at the end of which both the rate and payment would change. What he was talking about was an ARM (adjustable rate mortgage) and the “sub-prime mortgage market”—another current buzzword.

“No fucking way,” I told the agent, who thought I was an asshole for going conventional. The whole deal smelled bad to me, a public accountant who’d smelled bad business deals for thirty years. “What’s going to happen in five years when $300 payments turn into $1,800 or $2,000?” I asked.

Well, we all know what happened, don’t we. I could sit here and gloat about my extreme smartivity, but I won’t: As a result of the sub-prime market, the entire global economy is in the dumper with little or no relief in sight. We still have our little house on the desert with the fixed rate and payment, but Martha has lost ALL of the gains in her two retirement accounts and, as of yesterday, $20,000 of hard-earned principal—and we are helpless to do anything but watch it go up in smoke.

This “financial crisis” may have started with sub-primes and peoples’ greed for expensive houses they neither needed nor saved for, but beyond that I think we’re deep in the middle of a scam again—remember the Saddam and his WMDs scam seven years ago?

I will not, and I cannot, believe that banks, investment houses, and insurance companies need a taxpayer bailout. Like the oil companies, they are all so filthy rich that it is mind-boggling. Talk about greed, shylocking, and usury—banks make millions of dollars a day on credit cards alone, and some credit card rates are as high as 29.9% if ONE payment is missed (JPMorgan/Chase Bank, to be exact).

What makes me skeptical about the aforementioned industries (including oil) is that they have the most powerful lobbyists and PACS (political action committees, which actually write portions of bills for Congress). Isn’t it coincidental, or at the least odd, that the same industries who finance the Republican Party and political campaigns are about to lose their golden-haired boy?

I know that all of you are in the same boat as we are, perhaps much worse, so this rant is for all of us.

[I’ll save my rant on the economy, job losses, outsourcing, free trade agreements, and cheap Chinese-made shit for another time]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


POSITION AVAILABLE: Dog to train human. Must be gentle and patient because I am a slow learner and easily distracted. Desire to learn new sleeping position (on back with arms in air and hands bent loosely at wrist), screaming my brains out at solicitors and religious nuts who ring the doorbell, eating from a bowl without utensils or fingers (except for finger food), and a deep spiritual appreciation for tummy rubs. No leashes or chains as I am not into S&M! Prefer M&Ms for treats and reinforcement. Inquire within.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Blog o' the Day: Kim Ayres

Please read Kim Ayres's guest blog, Barack Obama and the normalcy of difference.

After that, Please watch the video Yes We Can Melanie posted on her blog.

Now you know where I stand. Or sit, actually, with a few tears and a tremendous sense of hope for the future. Thank you, Kim and Mel.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

No More Advice, Period.

“Why so glum?” I asked.

“I have my period,” she replied.

“No you don’t,” I said confidently. “Three years ago your doctor said they would end within a year. Lettuce see: three years minus one year equals two years of period-freeness.”

“I have my period,” she replied.

“Well then, maybe you should go back to the doctor and have a Pabst beer,” I suggested.

“A pap smear, you dumb shit,” she said glumly.

You dumb shit. Harumph. That’s the last time I’m going to give helpful medical advice.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Review: Scheisshaus Luck, by Pierre Berg

LibraryThing Early Reviewers

In the Preface to his story, Pierre Berg writes, “All I can give you, I hope . . . is an understanding of what it was like to be an able-bodied teenager torn from family, friends, and home, tossed into a Nazi death camp, and nearly reduced to what the Nazis considered all of us who were tattooed, . . . subhuman.”

Berg, an eighteen-year-old French Gentile, carries through on his promise, taking the reader through the Grand Guignol Theatre of the Real. He does not philosophize, call on God for help (he is an atheist), or attempt to reason out the reasons for the Holocaust. Rather, he credits his survival to scheisshaus luck—shithouse in English—and I believe he was right.

Berg’s arrest by a suspicious Gestapo officer led to a designation of political prisoner and a trip to Auschwitz III-Monowitz—a labor camp for the gigantic I.G. Farben chemical factories. While Monowitz had no ovens, hundreds of prisoners died from the back breaking work, exposure to the freezing cold and wind, severe malnutrition, disease, bullets to the head, and hanging for minor infractions. The bodies were loaded onto trucks and sent to Auschwitz II-Birkenau’s crematoriums, the ashes then used to fertilize the Polish cabbage fields.

Berg made it through an eighteen-month odyssey through hell using his wits, his ability to speak four or five languages, and scheisshaus luck. Two years after his liberation, he wrote his story while it was still fresh in his mind. In 2001, more than fifty years after the fact, Berg met his co-writer Brian Brock in the Cannon Theatre in Beverly Hills. Berg was an usher, Brock was at the concession stand, and I wonder: was it scheisshaus luck that brought these two employees together? Their goal was to preserve the voice of a young Berg and they did it successfully.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Potty Problems, The Sequel

[Read Potty Problems first.]

Y’all (or most of y’all) will be happy (or mostly happy) to know that I’m still alive (or mostly alive) after yesterday’s procedure. This should be good news to Kim Ayres, who won’t have to bother sending me one of his “I’m sorry you’re dead” greeting cards.

I am also proud to announce that I did not utter even one blood-curdling scream during the hour I was abed in Doctor Potty’s little chamber of horrors.

“You have a high tolerance for pain,” the assistant said.

Yes, yes I do,” I concurred. “I’ve survived 11 years of Catholic school, 3 years in the Army, 7 years in college, and 35 years of marriage. I know all there is to know about pain.”

No I don’t. I’ve never had to birth a bowling ball through a golf ball-size opening. I’ve never been tortured by any entity of the U.S. Government (yet). Most of all, I have no form of excruciatingly painful cancer, the kind of pain that never stops.

So overall, I’m in pretty good shape piddle-wise. There isn’t any change in my symptoms yet because everything down there is swollen and needs to heal, but by Inauguration Day I should be ready for a good old-fashioned pissing-for-distance contest . . .

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Potty Problems

Tomorrow morning (Friday the 17th), at 11:45, I am to report to my urologist, Doctor Potty, to have a TUMT for my BPH.

Naw, too acronymish. I sound like someone from the Dept. of Homeland Insecurity.

I’ll try it again. I am to report to my urologist, Doctor Potty, to have Trans Urethral Microwave Thermotherapy for my Benign Prostatic Hyperlplase.

How’s that? Yeah, way too doctorish.

Okay, okay, I’ll say it in English, but don’t get angry at me if you’re squeamish. As far as I’m concerned, there aren’t enough good squeams around anymore and they’re good for you—they make you appreciate that it is I and not you going through this shit.

In a nutshell (har) my prostate gland, which is normally the size of a walnut, is now the size of a golf ball. The larger it gets the harder (har) it is to pee; the prostate, you see, is choking the crap out of my urethra, so the best I can do is dribble a little at a time. Very little, and about a hundred times a day (and night). Well, not a hundred, but enough to be a real pain in the ass (har).

So the Doc and his assistant are going to burn a bunch of tissue off the prostate with microwaves, thus making it possible to pee normally again. The Assistant
Isn’t that something? Boy, I can hardly wait: they’re going to stick a catheter, the microwave probe, and a balloon up my schwantz, while a camera is going up my rectal area so they can see what the hell they’re doing. The balloon? Well, that’s a high-tech safety valve: if there’s too much heat it’ll bust.

Huh. I wonder who’s going to blow up the safety valve.

Just a little more FYI. They only use local anesthetics because I have to be awake to detect pain. The first local is the fun one: right on the tip of my aforementioned schwantz so the roadies can move all the equipment into my bladder. And don’t forget the enema I have to do in the privacy of my own bathroom; without one, I suspect they may get some pretty shitty pictures on their camera.

At least the post-op poop sheet they gave me is encouraging. The very first line says, verbatim:

Expect to get worse before you get better!

What a kidder that Doc Potty is.

It also says no sex for two weeks or more. I will bet the last 15¢ in Martha’s retirement fund that she doesn’t have one headache for the next two weeks or more.

But the hell with Martha and sex and blood and catheters and all the rest of it because I want my mommy.

[Continue to Potty Problems, the Sequel.]

Saturday, August 02, 2008


POSITION AVAILABLE: For nice Jewish lady with thick ankles to make authentic chicken soup for ill person. Canned (tinned) chicken soup is acceptable, except the kind with mushy noodles in it: Mush always make me puke, which isn't good when you're ill. Inquire within.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Graduate

On March 5th, Irish was dead dog walking: Within hours, nay even minutes, it would be the needle, gas, or maybe ol' Sparky hisself. But just in the nick of time some nice people saved him, putting him in a foster home until hopefully someone adopted him.

On March 21st, Martha the Kind adopted Irish and it's been work, work, work for the last four months gaining his love and trust. He tolerates Molly and he's not too keen about me, but he's totally in love with Martha (the Kind).

Yesterday, he reached a huge milestone in his doggie rehabilitation: He graduated from eight grueling weeks of canine college!

Class of 2008

Irish walks to the leash, and he knows commands like "Sit", "Stay", and "Don't chew on that bone, honey—that's Charlie's leg and it hurts him a lot!" Nevertheless, that's my boy!

Well, no he isn't. He's Martha the Kind's boy, and she deserves it. Irish has taken a lot of the pain away of losing Punkers, and for that I'm glad.

Is that rhubarb stuck to this stupid hat?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Welcome Home!


Welcome the newest member of our family, a three-year-old Pomeranian male who we've named Irish (no one knows his original name). We adopted him through a rescue organization, which in turn got him from a shelter that had him slated for euthanasia. He is extremely timid because (1) he was lost and had no tags, (2) the dog catcher grabbed him with a pole (he has the neck scars to prove it), (3) his fur was so matted they had to completely shave his body (so I can't show him full-body because he's naked), and (4) he had his manhood (doghood?) surgically removed on Wednesday.

The furball behind him is Molly, who finally has one of her kind since Punkers left us. It's going to take time for him to get used to his new home and humans, but we've already found out two things about him: He likes groceries, and he knows how to use the dog door.

He doesn't replace Punkers because no dog can replace her, but we'll give him all the "Irish" love and care that we can. As the rescue people say, it's all about saving one little animal life at a time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


LOST: Postage stamps ordered through the United States Postal Service’s “Stamps by Mail” program. “Save time and gas by having stamps delivered to your door,” the USPS advertises. Postage amounting to $14.12 was ordered on 1/19/08, the check was cashed on 2/4/08, but as of today my doorstep remains barren. If someone should happen to see $14.12 of stamps lying along a highway anywhere between Kansas City, MO and Chandler, AZ. Inquire within.

STOLEN: Will the asshole who keeps stealing the nifty fluorescent light bulbs from the fixture on the front of the house please fucking cut it out. Those things don't grow on trees, you know. The thefts appear to occur on Wednesdays, which is the same day the "undocumented immigrant" landscaping crew half-assedly scapes our land. If you are an un-neighborly neighbor, return the bulbs to our front gate; if you are an un-American, mail them postage-paid from Mexico—but don’t use the United States Postal Service. Inquire within.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Martha and I thank all of you who expressed your condolences over the passing of our little dog Punkers. It’s been a tough five days—no, a really rough five days—and it seems like time has slowed down to a stop.

Molly, our terrier mixed-breed, is grieving too. She isn’t playing or eating (her two favorite things), and she sits by the door waiting for her buddy to come home. I can’t very well explain to her what happened, so she’s been getting a whole lotta extra love and tummy rubs instead.

Molly, waiting for her buddy

We got a nice card from out veterinarian assuring us that we did the right thing for Punkers. There is always that seed of doubt after telling the vet, "Put her to sleep," but this poem is reassuring. No, it isn't high art, but screw high art—this is the kind of poetry that moves me.

If It Should Be

If it should be that I grow weak,
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then you must do what must be done,
For this last battle cannot be won.

You will be sad, I understand;
Don't let your grief then stay your hand.
For this day more than all the rest,
Your love for me must stand the test.

We've had so many happy years—
What is to come can hold no fears.
You'd not want me to suffer so;
The time has come, so let me go.

Take me where my needs they'll tend
And please stay with me until the end.
Hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.

I know in time that you will see
The kindness that you did for me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I've been saved.

Please do not grieve - it must be you
Who had this painful thing to do.
We've been so close, we two, these years—
Don't let your heart hold back its tears.

Author Unknown

We love you, babe

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


In memory of
September 1, 1996 - March 4, 2008

After all the years of love and laughter
Now come the tears

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Incidental Reader

Occasionally I’m a bit strange.

I suppose you expect an example to prove it.

A few years back I was reading a used paperback I’d picked up at the used bookstore Martha frequents. I was reading away, just as happy as a book-reading clam, until I turned the page. Or tried to turn the page because it was stuck to the page behind it.

Usually, the reason two pages are stuck together is because they weren’t fully cut during the manufacturing process or, if the paper is extremely thin, it’s probably static electricity (although I’m not an electrician). But that applies to new books, and I was reading a used book.

So, innocent that I was, I peeled the pages apart. And screamed. Staring at me on the page was a glob of grayish-greenish-yellowish STUFF that was quite possibly dried snot or worse, petrified loogie. Leftover pizza is not grayish-greenish-yellowish. Even after a week (trust me, I know). M&Ms are not grayish-greenish-yellowish because they don’t make a gray color.

No, dear readers, I was convinced I was looking at human effluvium. I had the good sense to scream again and throw the book across the room, but then I went into mental meltdown. Who (or what) had been reading the book before me? Worse yet, how many who (or what) had been reading the book before me?

I don’t believe in the boogeyman or Freddie or Jason, but I believe implicitly in human slobs. The kind with hair on every inch of their body (females included), terminal dandruff, and those who make odd grunting, groaning, and snorting noises. The kind who smell bad, talk with their maw open whilst eating so they spit dead goat or whatever all over, and those who don’t ask their public toilet mates for toilet paper if their stall has none.

The kind who dripped or hocked into a perfectly good book that cost me $1.25. The bastard.

Martha, who grew up on a farm and therefore finds very little to disgust her, told me to get a grip. “Just read around it, for Christ’s sake,” she said. But it was too late: I was in the back yard burning it and standing well upwind of the smoke.

So now, I’ll tell you why I’m occasionally a bit strange.

I absolutely refuse to read a used book, and I haven’t read one since that incident in 1978. Even when I purchase new books, I never take the top one: that’s the browser copy and therefore it’s USED. Rather, I dig way down into the pile for a fresh copy, hoping hoping hoping it’s untouched by a who (or what) . . .

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Gift

One of my few faults as a loving husband is that I don’t shower my beloved with gifts. On the husband gift-o-meter the needle is stuck between “you’re a thoughtless asshole” and “the divorce papers are in the mail.”

It’s a good thing for me that every time the postage rates go up the mail gets slower.

When the rate went from 39¢ to 41¢ last spring, I had to fuck around with a lot of little 2¢ make-up stamps so I could use up my old 39¢ leftovers. This spring the rate is going up to 42¢, which means I’ll have to fuck around with a lot of little 1¢ make-up stamps so I can use up my old 41¢ leftovers. That will leave me with both extra 1¢ and 2¢ stamps, which always fall out of the postage folder every time I pick it up. Ever heard of the game 52-stamp pickup? I could throw them away, but I’ve decided to save them; I’m betting that the next postage rate will be 45¢, in which case I’ll have to fuck around with all my 1¢ and 2¢ make-up stamps so I can use up my old 42¢ leftovers.

And at 45¢, the divorce papers will never get here.

Lest you think I’m a complete monster, I’ve given Martha plenty of gifts over the past thirty-four years. In fact, I gave her one just a few weeks ago.

My beloved is a sudoku freakazoid—and the harder they are the better. Being an accountant eight or nine hours a day isn’t enough for her; she has to come home and beat her brains out on number puzzles. She’s been beating her brains out on Mensa Absolutely Nasty Sudoku, Volume 2, and looking with maniacal glee for Volume 3 in the local bookstores. To no avail.

So, computer wiz that I am, I searched Amazon, found Volume 3, and ordered it immediately as a GIFT. I like to save a buck when I can, so I used Amazon’s free shipping—forgetting, of course, that it would come in the . . . mail. I may have mentioned this, but every time the postage rates go up the mail gets slower.

But putting the postage thing aside for a future blog, Martha’s GIFT arrived in a box that could have held twenty books. It was on our doorstep instead of the mailbox, and naturally Martha tripped over it when she came home from work (I wish I had a buck for every time I’ve watched her fall in the front door).

‘Whatever you ordered from Amazon is here,” she said, throwing the box at me while she dabbed at the blood on her knees.
“That isn’t for me,” I said with anticipatory excitement. “That’s a GIFT for you!”
She opened the box after putting ointment and gauze on her knees and elbows and said, “Volume 3!” She was pleased for about three minutes until she flipped through the pages. “What the hell is this?” she asked. “All the puzzles are filled in already!”
“I know,” I said. “Amazon wanted $6.95 for a new one, but they also had one used for $1.50. Isn’t that great!?”

And that's why I don't shower my beloved with gifts: Martha thinks I’m a cheap bastard. On the cheap-o-meter the needle is stuck between . . .

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fruit & A Nut

There were a lot more oranges on this tree until Martha started picking them left and right. Pick pick pick. It will blossom again in March, and each year we're getting a larger yield.

Imagine, outside the right border of the picture, our baby lemon tree, because that's where it is in real time. We've had several freezes this winter, so the lemon is struggling a bit. But Martha has a yellow thumb, so it'll come back this summer when we get our 115° days.

As for me, Martha bought me a juice squeezer machine, so I've been drinking my oranges. You will all be happy to know that I am 100 percent scurvy-free.