Saturday, September 15, 2012

3615 Nails

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The United States is like the guy at the party who gives cocaine to everybody
and still nobody likes him.
-- Jim Samuels --


Well, I finished the King book.  Pretty good, actually.  In a postscript at the end, he says he changed some things to make them more convenient to his story.  I wish he had said that in the beginning, because I did notice some discrepancies, and they bothered me.

The Cuban Missile Crisis happened early in my first year of college.  King has people freaking out, committing suicide, the whole bit.  I don't remember it that way.  In fact, the way I remember it, there WERE NO missiles, just half-assed plans, and some empty concrete launch pads.  The US government blew it all out of proportion just to make a point.  Sabre rattling.  Somebody wanted to look big and tough, and redeem themselves after the Bay of Pigs fiasco.  Whether that's what the reality was or not, I'm talking about how the people around me reacted.  My point is that nobody that I knew of was freaked out, and I knew a lot of military people.

The Kennedy assassination happened in my second year of college.   At first I didn't remember it at all.  Shows how out of it I was at the time.  After thinking about it for a while, I remember walking into the Husky Lounge, where resided the only television on campus, and the lounge was packed with students all focused on the TV, most crying and wailing.  I'd asked what happened, and when someone told me, I shrugged and thought "Big deal.  People get shot all the time.  It's not the end of the world."  I thought people were overreacting, that the whole thing was silly.

The context:
That was the semester when my parents were living temporarily about 15 miles from the college, and my father decided I should live "at home" that semester, and get a ride every day with the piece of scum guy who had molested me when I was in elementary school.  I'd get home from classes every day before my father got home from work, and I'd rush to wash and go to the bathroom, and then lock myself in my bedroom until after he'd left for work the next morning.  I'd sit up there shaking and listening to the shouting and swearing and hitting and crying downstairs.  On the weekends I didn't leave the room until I was sure he was out of the house.  Talk about bladder control.  And hunger.

So, somebody I didn't know got killed?  Hey, he knew that was a danger when he took the job.  Just a few days before, my 4-year-old brother had been thrown across the kitchen, striking his head, and he had a huge swelling on his left temple, and I'd had to beg my mother to take him to the hospital.  All you folks crying in the Husky Lounge over some guy you didn't know?  Why don't you cry for my mother and my brothers and sisters. 

So, yeah.  I didn't have any emotion to spare for famous rich people.


I hadn't noticed that my last post was Tuesday.  I'm slowing down.  Part of it is that I have been reading a lot of political stuff, and it makes me so angry I don't want to make it worse by commenting on it.  I am having great difficulty this very minute resisting ... don't get me started.


There are some people out there who have been checking this blog daily for a few years.  That was ok back when I was posting daily for years.  But now, checking here three, four, five times a day is, frankly, a waste of your time, especially if this is not the only place you check several times a day.

I strongly suggest that if you are not already getting the feeds, you start.  One way is  It will tell you when there's a new post to any of the sites you follow that put out feeds.  There are other feed aggregaters (-ors?).  Seriously, they save time.

I might go to a blog, forum, or news site multiple times to see if anything interesting happened in the comments on posts I might be interested in.  (I don't subscribe to comments because the alerts come in email, and I don't like my email cluttered with every update.)  But if there's no comments I'm following, and no new posts, I don't have to go there again until Google Reader tells me there's a new post.

Over and out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

3614 Down with Derry!

Tuesday, September 12, 2012

Many people assume that you‘re being brutally honest
when you‘re really only being persistently obnoxious. 
-- Evan Morris --


I'd mentioned that I'm reading King's 11/22/63.  I'm now about 150 pages in (of 849 pages) and I have a bad feeling. 

I've always said that I love the WAY Stephen King writes, but I hate WHAT he writes about.  I was under the impression that this book was a little different, that it didn't involve evil spirits, or aliens, or monsters, or Things.  Just time travel.

Along about page 121, our hero enters the town of Derry, and my stomach turned.

Readers of King's non-Tower books know that just about every book touches on events in earlier books.  Derry is not a good sign.  Derry is full of evil spirits and monsters and dead children, and I really don't want to go there.

If anyone else has read 11/22/63, please assure me that in this book, Derry is just a place, and that King isn't going to go getting all weird and disgusting on me.

Monday, September 10, 2012

3613 King of root beer

Monday, September 10, 2012

The admirable qualities so often sought among human beings
actually reside almost exclusively in dogs.
-- Evan Morris --


Women who extend their eye makeup way past the outer edges of their eyes in an effort, I suppose, to make their eyes look larger, actually end up looking cross-eyed.  Do they really not realize this?


Stephen King's 11/22/63 has been sitting on the shelf for a few months, so this week I started reading it.  In the first few pages his character rhapsodizes about 1958 root beer.

Yes!  Yes!  Oh my God yes!  I had almost forgotten.  Root beer used to be full and round and dark and smooth and strong and thick and full of body!  It was only lightly carbonated, but formed a head when poured.  It was a meal!  You rolled it around in your mouth for a while before swallowing it.  You could add 8 ounces of vanilla ice cream to 8 ounces of root beer, and the flavor was still strong.  You could smell a glass of root beer three tables away.  In the '50s and '60s root beer was just about my favorite thing in the whole wide world!

Somewhere along the early '70s it changed.  It got thin and blah.  Fizzly.  Watery.  Add ice cream and the taste almost disappears.  Fizzly water that a root beer barrel candy got dissolved in.  Artificially flavored?  Blah.  I stopped drinking it because it was such a disappointment.  That's not root beer.  I haven't had a good root beer in 40 years.

What happened?

(Up in the mountains you could get REAL root beer, locally brewed and mildly alcoholic.  The real stuff.  I wonder if that still exists?  Probably not - them damn revenooers!  Regulate the flavor right out.) 


"Root beer used to be full and round and dark and smooth and strong and thick and full of body!"  Hmmm.  I notice a pattern here.  That's what I like about The Man.  The old root beer had a good head, too.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

3612 What to say

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Folks who rejoice that "The system works!"
are usually referring to another's parking ticket, not their own.


I have a friend whose mother has been declining steadily for the past five years.  His older sister died about two years ago after months in a coma, and they never told the mother that her daughter was even ill because they didn't think she could handle it.  Although she doesn't have Alzheimer's, she's far enough into dementia that they figured she wouldn't notice.

He called me the other day to say he's headed for Florida, because they figure there's not more than a few days left.  She's on morphine, and that has a habit of easing people out.

He'll call me when she's gone.

Of course I've been thinking about what to say when he calls.  That's always so awkward.  When his sister died it wasn't difficult because her death was a relief.  She was basically vegetative after multiple strokes.  The doctors recommended taking her off life support, and everyone agreed except her son, who started legal action to prevent it.  So she lingered for almost a year, until someone "found" her living will and health proxy among her files.  (It was my idea, by the way, that if they looked for it, maybe they'd find it, or "find" it if necessary.  I don't know the details, how they managed it.)  So when he called to say he had pulled the plug, I said good, I'm sure she appreciated it, and that was the right thing to say, and it wasn't difficult because that was his attitude.

This is going to be much harder for him.  He's the only son (several sisters) and was/is very much an Irish Catholic momma's boy. 

I never know what to say to friends and coworkers.  "Sorry for your loss" seems so trite.  Mostly, I'm afraid, I don't say much of anything.  In most cases, I didn't know the deceased person, so it's hard to "share memories" like all the columns suggest.

There are a few times when I went further than the simple sympathetic nod, and I don't know whether it was good or bad.  I have a tendency to miss, or ignore, that sometimes people know things, but are avoiding or hiding it.  Then I go and point it out.  I draw attention to the elephant in the room.  I do that a lot.  It's seldom appreciated.

The Hairless Hunk's wife had a miscarriage.  H.H. told me that she was having a lot of difficulty with it, and he didn't know what to do about it.  I told him that I understood, that I'd had three miscarriages and a stillbirth, and it's a very private anguish because no one else understands.

Now, at the time, I didn't know her at all.  The only time I'd ever seen her was on the road.  She walked a lot.  One day shortly after my talk with H.H., she was turning at the end of the road as I was pulling into the driveway, and she waved for me to stop.  I rolled down the window, and she said that H.H. had said I'd had some miscarriages, and that she should talk to me.  She said she was having a lot of trouble getting past it, and that everyone says she should just get pregnant again as soon as possible, and how that just makes her feel worse, like the baby didn't matter, and she doesn't want another pregnancy.  She asked how I'd got past it. 

I told her that the problem is that to everyone else, the baby was just an idea.  She's the only person who actually knew the baby.  To her, and only to her, the baby was a real person, with preferences, likes and dislikes.  She knew when he was asleep and when he was awake.  She knew his nap/exercise cycle.  She felt his arms and legs moving.  She knew whether he was a runner or a kicker.  She even knew what kind of music he liked, and how he liked to be rocked, and when he had hiccups.  Nobody else knows that.  To them, the baby was just potential, just an idea. To them, starting another baby is just getting on with the idea.

She burst into tears.  "Yes!  Yes!  Exactly!"  She cried so hard it scared me.

I advised her to write up everything she knew about the baby's personality, and then either tell H.H. and her parents, or let them read what she'd written.  Make the baby real, as real to them as he was to her.

H.H. wondered what I'd said to her.  I guess she was a mess after that conversation, cried constantly for days.  I don't know whether she "made the baby real" to others or not, but she was pregnant with twins within a year.

For a long time after, I wonder if I'd helped or just made it worse.  Maybe the elephant would have wandered off on its own.  I can argue either side.

Another time involved a classmate in a law class.  She was an IBM Director in her late 40s, I think, single, no children.  Her mother died unexpectedly.  She and I were sitting on a bench outside during a lunch break one day about a week or two later.  She seemed to be handling it well, so I was surprised when she brought up that she couldn't sleep, felt very depressed, like why bother with anything, nothing matters.  She just didn't want to do anything any more.

I asked if she had any other family, and she said no, that she was an only child, and that her father had died several years ago.  Her father's death hadn't bothered her so much and she couldn't understand why, because she was actually closer to him.

I said maybe it's because now you feel like an orphan?

Her eyes got huge, and she turned slowly to me.  Yes!  Exactly! Orphan!  I'm an orphan!  And the elephant sat on her and she cried.

I don't think consolation, condolences, are supposed to make people cry.  They're supposed to smile wanly and say thank you.

Sympathy.  I'm doing it wrong.