Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Daily Irritant for Sunday, Nov. 28

It would be helpful if websites, especially news sites, would not load up the pages with eighty zillion flashing ads, video clips and the like.


Because, geniuses, if you don't have the absolute latest machine and updates and all of it YOU CAN'T READ THE WEBSITE.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Coming up...

I have actual CACA material coming up, but I've been distracted by watching DVDs of Planning and Zoning meetings I missed when on vacation. I have to take notes and back them up and go over the mumbling — over and over. It's a process that makes me seriously consider suicide. If you think my posts have been gloomy lately now you know why.

But I have a Standard Devil Movie, a porno film disguised as a music video and a French New Wave thriller with laconic guys in cool suits — all coming up.

Let's get this stupid blog back on track.


So now that holiday depression is in full swing I am reminded of the first two of the Buddha's Four Noble Truths: Life = suffering, and the cause of suffering is attachment.

To anything, or anybody. It's all transient, temporal, unreal.

So you gotta cut that stuff out, boy. Especially with insane women.

Seems like a pretty crabbed way to go through life, frankly. But I'll try it, although not to the extent of giving up my thrift shop clothing collection or my arsenal of fly rods.

No wonder addicts like being instabuddhists. It doesn't actually involve any work. All you have to do is keep your head down and don't engage unless absolutely necessary.



So here's today's Instabuddhist itinerary — Deli, talk with old codgers in outwardly meaningful but completely disconnected manner (because I am an Instabuddhist and therefore don't really care for deep spiritual reasons); gym, to improve physical self (although it doesn't really matter because it's an illusion); take a ride somewhere I haven't been to in a long time, like Rhinebeck or Millbrook, N.Y., to see if things are as boring there (an illusion, of course, born of desire). I would normally go to an AA meeting tonight but I'm an Instabuddhist now and have no need for such temporal things. Plus they'll be talking about being thankful and grateful and we know those are just part of the big cosmic joke. Right?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dog-Ass Holiday Thrills, Spills, Chills

Closeup of my world-famous lentil and split pea concoction, known as "Super Puke."

6 a.m. — Wake up to "Imus" rerun, very unsatisfactory. TV news has substitute infobabes speculating breathlessly on whether or not that crazy little hedgehog-looking mofo in North Korea's gonna start a war. I hope he does; I'll volunteer to go there and do something, not that the Army is that desperate. I am that bored, though.

7 a.m. — Gym open for four hours today, so I get in early before the metal-benders and the bitter-divorcees-in-tights. The Hippity-Hop Lite satellite radio channel is on and Sweet Tap-Dancin' Jesus does it suck.

10 a.m. — Make it to local high school for annual grudge match against arch-rivals. Our guys are out of the post-season but a win would deny other team a playoff bid. Looks good — down 13-12 at half. But midway through the third quarter our guys collapse. Freezing out. Shoot breeze with acquaintances while silently wondering why I only have acquaintances and no friends.

Our guys (in blue) fail to block punt from their guy.

The crowd got rather quiet in the third quarter. And it got colder.

1 p.m. — Eat bowl of Super Puke (I'm going to apply for a trademark) and watch Detroit stay close for a while. Fall asleep, miss all but final three minutes.

Super Puke gets better the further down you get.

3:45 p.m. — Smoke one of these new cigars that came yesterday. An evil-looking, black, oily thing, emits more of a vapor than smoke.

Taking a health break

4 p.m. — Assemble Official Dog-Ass Thanksgiving menu. Turkey "club" sandwich, meaning sliced turkey on toasted wheat with three pieces of bacon, cranberry sauce mixed with mayonnaise and some lettuce that was lurking in the bottom of the produce drawer. Half a sweet potato. Or is it a yam? Fuck if I know. And some sort of "Garden of Allah Spring Festive Delight Mix" veggie stuff out of a bag.

The Official Dog-Ass Thankgsiving meal, 2010.

4:45 p.m. — Eat exciting ODAT meal.

5:30 p.m. — Fart.

7:30 p.m. — Drive to next town in vague hope that regular AA meeting is on. It isn't.

8 p.m. — Saints hang on to win; begin ironing big pile of shirts.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! Now...

Enough already with the wishing me a great holiday and (on Friday) "How was your Thanksgiving?"

Should I tell them the truth?

"Oh, it sucked, thanks. I didn't do a fucking thing except smoke eight cigars and walk around town — which was, of course, deserted. I had a turkey club on wheat for dinner — for that extra-special holiday touch I used cranberry sauce mixed up with mayo. The only football game worth watching was on the NFL Network, which I don't get, and I ironed a shitload of shirts. Any more questions?"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tweed Deployment

It's a little embarrassing to admit, but I have enough tweed jackets that when I unpack them for fall and winter I am surprised at what's there. Pleasantly, I should add.

A little on the warm side today, to lull us into complacency before crushing our spirits with snow.

Old Richman Bros. sack jacket heads this lineup. Bengal stripe shirt from J. Press, "tailored fit" non-iron chinos from Joe Banks' last "one of a kind world famous will never happen again until next week" sales. Made in USA Weejuns of uncertain vintage.

Tie has the Episcopal crest on it. Can I wear this without getting beaten by the bishop?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hooray for Technology

It wasn't complicated. I wanted to know if the New York Jets vs. Houston would be one of the NFL games we get in NW Connecticut today.

It's not a given that we get the Jets game. Broadcasters consider us either Giants or Patriots fans, with some justification. If New England and the Jets are playing at the same time, we get the Pats.

Today the Patriots are playing at 4 p.m., so it should be the Jets. Unless this is a Fox doubleheader week, in which case there might be some other hassle. When are the Giants playing?

Oh, that's at 8 p.m., on another network. OK.

So I look at the guide thing on the actual TV. "To be announced." Oh. That's helpful. Thank you, dog-ass Comcast.

(As an aside, I have been asking Comcast to include the Fox Business Network so I can watch Don Imus in the morning instead of firing up the AM radio — with its iffy reception at 6 a.m. It's not as if there isn't room in the Comcast channel lineup. Surely the system that offers the Costume Jewelry Network and the Useless Crap in Ersatz Wicker Baskets Channel can handle this simple request. Comcast in other areas carries FBN. But no. All I get is a canned response — "We're sorry. We cannot include everybody's favorites. Our selection is based on in-depth surveys and whatever our executives thought up while taking their morning dump.")

Maybe the CBS affiliate in Hartford has its schedule on its website. Oh, gee, it doesn't. I guess everybody has it memorized.

Hmm. Newspapers used to have television schedules. Maybe...

Nope. The listings are probably somewhere on the websites of four Connecticut dailies, but to find them you need a degree in computer science and the mindset of Dr. Leakey, patiently dusting off ancient bones.

All this effing information at my fingertips, yet I cannot get the answer to this question — will Channel Three in Hartford broadcast the New York Jets football game at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010.

I am moving toward the opinion that all this computer-wireless-blog-text-cell shit should be unplugged and the components scrapped. Back to mono, the manual typewriter, and rotary telephones.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

There — I Said It (Annual Holiday Rant)

I despise Thanksgiving and Christmas. There — I said it.


1. I resent being expected to be jolly on cue.

2. I have nobody to be jolly with, anyway, so screw it.

3. Because I am such a high roller, in my career I've always had to work holidays, or work right up to them, or work extra beforehand to avoid being swamped afterwards. This effectively negates the time-off factor.

4. I have to travel vast distances to be with family — either 300 miles round trip for one meal, or 600 miles round trip for one week, which turns out to be five days.

5. At any gathering (even the ones for the sad sack crowd, sponsored by AA or churches) I am the odd man out — the only single male, the only person under 70, the only person over 35.

And that's why I hate this time of year, and keep my participation to the bare minimum.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I lifted this photo from Matt Labash's column on The Daily Caller. (I think it originated at Field & Stream.) Labash quotes someone as saying Oprah fly-fishing will be worse for the sport than the Robert Redford film of "A River Runs Through It."

I remember when the film came out wondering why they went to all the trouble of assembling vintage equipment, only to string the rods up with modern, Day-Glo orange fly lines. This is also when I started to dislike Brad Pitt.

A lot of dopes saw the 1992 movie and promptly marched into the nearest Orvis shop with targets painted on their foreheads. I remember it well — the Catskills were full of them, foolishly whipping the water and standing 20 feet from each other.

Too bad eBay didn't exist then. As it was, tag and garage sales had a fly-fishing boom that lasted a decade.

So if hordes of bored housewives suddenly decide to take up angling that can only mean good deals on gear down the road.

Relax, Matt. It will pass.

Plus anything that gets more women into fishing can't be all bad. Can it? A pretty girl holding a fishing rod is a pleasant sight. Usually.

Now then. I just finished a serial killer thriller called "I Can See You" by Karen Rose, who is apparently quite successful.

This sucker is 637 pages in trade paperback. It is the single most tedious book I have ever finished, as opposed to those I haven't.

Why did I not fling the thing from me, especially when I correctly guessed the killer's identity about mid-way through?

Because I was curious to see just how bad a writer has to be to top the dog-ass New York Times bestseller list.

"Abbott's eyes sparkled with interest. 'Times that Axel Girard will need alibis for. Why didn't you tell Jack?'"

There are a lot of sparkling eyes. Also a lot of confusion about messages that do or do not go through, via cell phones, text messaging, and emails. And computers with wireless cards that work everywhere. And meaningful looks.

If Karen Rose could have gotten away with computer screen shots in the book, she would have.

This thing reads like a soap opera script. Not because of the melodrama, though it abounds.

It's like a soap because she keeps taking detours that serve no purpose other than to pad the book out. She must get paid by the inch, as in "How thick is the book?"

It's depressing, because it takes a peculiar talent to write like this, and I don't have it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vacation Is the Best Time For Equalizer 2000

The weather couldn't have been better for my vacation week, but the trout were not very cooperative. I lost a couple goodish ones but hey, don't want to be like James Frey here and claim I brought them to net.

I forgot to bring movies so was stuck with some VHS tapes that were on hand — a dumb documentary about Sonic Youth, "Dr. Strangelove," "Horse Feathers"... and a piece of forgotten caca called "Equalizer 2000."

I think my friend Kurt left this from a CACA trip several years ago.

It's a semi-lousy "Mad Max" ripoff, in which The Ownership live in post-nuclear holocaust Alaska and lord it over everybody else, including the Mountain People, the rebels, and Dixon's group, which includes a girl with gigantic breasts.

An ex-Ownership guy named Slade spends all his time looking like an unsuccessful candidate for the Village People and first obtaining, then losing, and then regaining the Equalizer, a combination machine gun/rocket launcher that makes everybody quake. Slade has an Australian accent, sort of, but nobody's gonna mistake him for Mad Max. Mildly Irritated Max, maybe.

Why can't I meet a gal like this? Won't spend a lot of time talking about T.S. Eliot, I bet.

Automatic one coil deduction for no breasts. Academy Award nomination for the Mountain People and their splendid deus ex machina attack on the Ownership, with dull spears and bows that look like they came from the tag sale of a defunct Girl Scout camp.

Two coils.

The fishing was marginal — I managed to avoid a multi-day skunking and bring a couple of semi-decent browns home for one of the gals at work — but it was fun tramping the river and assessing the October flood's effect on the streambed.

The state DEC has "creel agents" out and they are very efficient. Luckily they don't check licenses, as I forgot to renew mine until Day Three. One of them obligingly snapped this picture of me in streamside finery.

I also declared war on the mice that ate the shoulders of two of my tweed jackets. "Three dead mice, three dead mice..."

And here's a cluck who tried wading in the murky Esopus where the state did extensive flood control work, creating in the process a very deep pool. This fellow almost went all the way in, but managed to clamber out with no more damage than a red face.

Postcript: The Onteora School District budget passed, but not without the usual controversy. But if the voters in Shandaken want to know if their kids are getting a decent education I refer them to this bit of graffiti on the Herdman Road bridge in Phoenicia, which is unusual in the genre in that it is legible and comprehensible.

Reading list: Semi-Tough, Dan Jenkins; The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene; One Step Behind and Firewall, Henning Mankell; Basket Case, Carl Hiaasen.

It was really enjoyable to crank up the electric guitar. I can't make a lot of noise at home, the dopey nosey buttinski "Aaaagh I got a whiff of cigar smoke but please ignore my thumping at odd hours" shitbird neighbors would bitch like there's no fucking tomorrow if I did. Figured out that strange augmented chord thing on the Velvet Underground's "New Age" and the Steve Cropper guitar part on Wilson Pickett's "Ninety-Nine and a Half." Failed to master the riff on Plumtree's "Scott Pilgrim," which is irritating as the song itself is very simple. I just can't get that initial doodly bit.

Soundtrack: Mix disc of old Stones, I mean really old, "Miss Amanda Jones" and "Flight 505," that era. Stereolab mix, older stuff up to "Mars Audio Quintet." Rhino's "Soul Spectacular!" box set. Wynonie Harris, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, stray Duke Ellington CD that must belong to my folks, "Mojo Box" by Southern Culture on the Skids, Velvets "Live at Max's Kansas City," Richard Hell compilation (seriously annoying in places), Talking Heads "Fear of Music," "Music From Big Pink" and "The Band" in a nod to Woodstock, the next township over.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dear World — Bite Me

Today was great. It started at about 6 a.m. with me asleep on the couch, television still on. That Dallas-Green Bay tilt was a real barn-burner, eh?

One of the casualties of the communications revolution is the test pattern. Used to be, when I woke up looking at that thing, typically with marching band music as the soundtrack, I knew I'd been out on some kind of bender and it would be wise to get up very slowly. Broken bones, and the sudden attack of alcohol-induced vertigo, doncha know.

Well, the day just ended, with two hours of Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen goodness, a quick Stop and Shop run, and home with car stereo blasting Stereolab, The Soft Boys and Crime (doing their only listenable song, "Hotwire My Heart," which is every bit the equal of the Velvet Underground's "I Heard her Call My Name" for sheer pop perversity). All through the haze of cigar smoke and with a pressing urge to take one of those 14-hour day pisses that has a coda, a postscript, and exciting scenes from the next episode.

It being the first legitimately nasty winter's day I trotted out an old Huntington camelhair blazer, and odd vest, and flannels. I have half a dozen vests and I don't deploy them nearly often enough.

But I am one tired and fed-up mofo tonight and it doesn't matter because as of tomorrow evening I am on vacation, which I will spend in the Catskills, learning guitar riffs, splitting wood, reading detective stories, watching a box of films noir, and fishing the late season brown trout run. I let the vacation time linger way too long, thinking I would be spending it with you-know-who, but it's all turned out for the best.

And so I invite the world to piss off between Nov. 10 and 16. I will be at the end of a dirt road in the mountains, with no cell phone, no computer — and no neighbors.

And I'll be working on the Great Booze memoir in the only manner that makes any sense — on my manual Olivetti.

Toodle-oo — or "Kisses!" as she used to say, revoltingly.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Great Moments in Small-Town Newspapering

It was Halloween, after all.