The Curmudgeon Screws Up The Superbowl: Part 3

Lady GaGa at the Superbowl…

Christ on a Cracker, when did life get so weird?

There’s a thing I recommend to all people (and in particular Americans). Unplug from the Matrix for a bit, shake it out, relax, breathe, then after a suitable absence (and only if you wish) join back with the collective. When you do… watch closely.

Distance allows you to see things with greater clarity. In recent memory I’ve seen the following:

  • People wearing vagina costumes.
  • Death threats against a dentist who went on a Safari.
  • Anti smoking ads featuring crying cats.
  • A president incapable of saying “Islamic” and “terrorism” in the same sentence, even when Islamic fundamentalists commit a terrorist attack.
  • NSA spying. Stingray antennas. And crossing the Rubicon where law enforcement (through asset forfeiture) seizes more than actual theft.
  • Movies (for adults) involving magic quasi-humans who wear tights and punch things.
  • The rise of the K-Cup. (More on this later.)
  • Heated debates about chicken sandwiches, wedding cakes, toilet choices, and sexuality.
  • People mulling over the pros and cons of shooting a gorilla to save a human child.

Go ahead… tell me all that makes sense. Give it a shot, I’ll be here all day, read that list aloud and then say “all of these things make sense”. Do it!

Couldn’t do it could you? That’s because you’ve stepped back and witnessed it with the proper perspective. While one is in the midst of a Facebook shitstorm things seem logical but months later, at a distance, they seem; odd. Which brings me back to the topic at hand. I witnessed Lady Gaga.

You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.

Broadcast live, from the center of Panem, was this… thing. Now I’m not a stick in the mud, I can appreciate artistry. I grok the idea that musical performer is a bit more outrageous than say… an accountant. I finally accepted that folks can wind up on stage without needing to play an instrument. I get that it’s the Superbowl and things are by definition over the top. But still…

What the hell is this object?

It’s like the Joker had sex with a disco ball. Plus she didn’t seem to… um… well I thought her songs were… Well on a positive note they were on-key. Creative? Sure… for a definition of creative I guess. But honestly… she reminded me of the pomp and circumstance of the Hunger Games:

May the odds be ever in your favor; especially the Patriots who are a bloody pulp at halftime.

The photo above is from the Hunger Games. It’s a movie that features an oppressive dystopic capital city that has become unmoored from reality as it subjugates the deplorables in the hinterland. She’s meant to be a friggin metaphor. Yet Effie Trinket is named, dressed, and acts more demurely than Lady Gaga.

Or this:

Hipster beard

Can you honestly say this object looks significantly different than a particularly well coiffed version of the trustfunder who lectures you about dying polar bears while fucking up your latte at Starbucks?

This sent my mind racing. Are we already witnessing Panem? Maybe we’ve been there for years?!? For example, there’s this:

This object was on TV 26 years ago. It predates the iPhone. It currently publicly discusses the pros and cons of “blowing up the White House”. (Fortunately for her, it’s only racist and ill conceived to ponder violent presidential murder prior to January 20th. On the 21st something undefinable happened and now it’s super awesome and brave.)

I concluded that I’d submitted myself quite enough to both Panem’s horseshit and watching Tom Brady get shredded. I finished my fourth beer and wandered out into the streets. Boy did I time it badly!

I forgot that this is a new era; a time of change and unpredictability. A time when all things are possible. The Cubs broke an 108 year dry spell, the excellent and unbeatable Clinton machine was trounced by an orange real estate developer, and a 21-3 halftime score is not a blowout. I should have kept my ass at that bar. I missed it! I endured Lady Gaga only to miss the good half of the best Superbowl in the history of ever.

Lesson learned. Nothing in 2017 is over until it’s over.

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The Curmudgeon Screws Up The Superbowl: Part 2

I have to admit, I don’t do sportsball. It didn’t have to be this way. As a kid I had baseball cards, a glove with which I occasionally (almost by accident it seems) caught a ball, a ball which my dog kept stealing and was (to me) irreplaceably expensive, and a bat which I occasionally swung at designated objects like baseballs (instead of more adventurous things like trees and bullies). I was the all American kid who loved baseball. Who fucked it up? Baseball did!

There were strikes and lockdowns in ’72, ’73, ’76, ’80, ’81, and continuing. (It was a hard time that broke my relationship with Sports. Iran took hostages, the price of gas skyrocketed, the national speed limit was 55, and AMC Gremlins roamed free. Both Sports and I emerged with scars.) Fortunately, Sports and I had an amiable breakup. I had a brief dalliance with the Olympics (Miracle On Ice!) but came to my senses before things got out of hand. I eventually called it quits for just about anything involving a team (including not only Sports but war, organized religion, and Trekkie fandom). From then on all “sports” I’ve done have involved [redacted], there’s no goddamn team, and it doesn’t revolve around watching the tube. In short, I’ve been something of a loner ever since. I never missed Sports. Sometimes Sports calls me though. Usually in the middle of the night when Sports has been drinking. “Take me back”, Sports says, “I’ve changed.” But I know it’ll never be the same. I’ve moved on and Sports only wants my money anyway.

But there I was, eating fried food and guzzling cheap beer… and the game sucked. I don’t really care who plays so long as they’re evenly matched. I want to see struggle dammit. The Falcons weren’t just beating the Patriots… they were kicking their ass so hard their grandchildren would feel it. Damn.

I suppose, the Cubs winning the final game in their series, which was breathtakingly close, was a once in a lifetime event (like the Miracle on Ice!). I was silly to expect a repeat. As usual the Superbowl was going to be a lopsided snooze fest. The next day NPR would analyze the commercials and I’d wind up jumping out of my truck’s window rather than listen to some nitwit discuss a car ad.

Then Lady Gaga came on…

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The Curmudgeon Screws Up The Superbowl: Part 1

I was in [redacted] doing [redacted] for [redacted] when it dawned on me that A.) it was Sunday so why the hell was I working so hard, 2.) it was Superbowl Sunday and why the hell didn’t I know that already, and III.) the Universe rarely provides a better excuse to sit on your ass drinking beer than the Superbowl. Who am I to ignore the Universe when it wants me to drink beer?

So, despite an anti-social streak a mile wide, I wandered into a nearby bar. It was perfect! A crowd that was happy (but not too happy). TVs that were present but not ginormous. No ferns. No hipsters. No tofu. No bitchy people. No psychotic “true fans” overly hyped on the moment. Nobody passed out on the floor… yet.

A small pack of children were running around and… did my eyes deceive me? No, I’d seen it. The kids were waving American flags! Waving flags and playing tag amid the gathering crowd of not-yet-but-planning-on-it drunks. Waving. American. Flags!

One of them, a boy, was getting jabbed by his sister who’d decided a flag made a great spear. Instead of running to mommy, he kicked her in the shins and they all laughed before collectively attacking the pool table and starting a game of what looked like “Calvinball“. Happy kids acting like little maniacs. Perfect!

The food was deep fried. The beer was macro-brew. All was deplorable. I settled in.

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Road To Portland: Part 7: Billy Takes A Walk On The Wild Side

How would you know you’d hit rock bottom? This weighed upon Billy’s mind as he drove. He concluded one sign was grasping at straws. Delivering 10 pizzas to the middle of nowhere was grasping at straws.

He wanted the money; wanted it so bad he could taste it. Would it happen? How many men have done how many stupid things for promises of sex or money? Speaking of sex, would he be doing this if his ex-girlfriend wasn’t canoodling in an Audi with a trustfunder?

He swung past a rural bank and then, abruptly, swung a U-turn. At this hour, it was closed. But the ATM was open and it was time to test a theory. His theory being that he was a gullible jackass.

He paused in the parking lot and fiddled with his smart phone; transferring his tantalizing yet unbelievable PayPal tip to his nearly empty checking account. PayPal deducted the usual usurious fee. (Bastards!) He waited 10 minutes and rolled into the ATM Lane. There he attempted to withdraw the money.

No withdrawals over $300? Bastards!

Billy reflected that he had never before encountered that limit. Not a good indication of his financial history. Angrily, he jabbed at the keys and requested $300.

And there it was… $300 in fresh clean greenbacks. Holy shit!

Theory disproven! He rolled back out into the empty street and floored it.

Forty minutes later, having broken every traffic law en route in a pell-mell scramble to find and latch on to this mysterious money source, he swooped into the location indicated by GPS. It was the middle of nowhere. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up and he fumbled in the glovebox to retrieve his Glock… a present from Grandma, the only family who ever understood him. If this was a carjacking he was gonna hold on to his Subaru until his last breath! Grandma would approve.

Maybe that’s another sign of rock bottom, when you’re utterly unafraid of a carjacking and willing to take a job that says “two column inches in a police blotter”? Then again why not? His ex-girlfriend was shagging a rich douche bag in an Audi while he was a college dropout delivering pizza to an empty field.

“LEAVE THE PIZZA UNDER THE PINE TREE.” He had just received a text.

“I’M NOT GETTING OUT OF THIS CAR UNTIL I CAN SEE YOU.” Uber drivers, like bartenders, beat cops, ER nurses, and hookers… have seen things. They don’t step into traps lightly.

“WE CAN’T”

We? As in more than one? His eyes narrowed. The car was a tactical advantage he wouldn’t give up. Standing in a field with a few scattered trees was vulnerable and stupid. Nothing happened. He waited.

If they didn’t approve the Uber ride he wasn’t getting the money. But leaving the car was out of the question. Time to push it.

“THIS PIZZA IS DELICIOUS! I’M EATING IT RIGHT NOW.” He texted.

That did it!

A deep guttural roar blasted across the field. Something huge and evil was charging at him!

If saving his friend Doogie during “the battle of the tutoring room” was his bravest moment, this was Billy’s most reckless moment. The Subaru was still idling and without hesitation Billy put it to use. He dropped it into drive, flipped on his high beams, and rocketed across the field. He aimed directly at the charging demon.

In his later years, Billy would wonder why he did this. The truth is he had nothing to lose. The monster apparently did. It skidded to a halt and turned tail.

What the hell was it? Maybe a homeless bum covered with dreadlocks? Why on all fours?

Whatever it was, Billy was going to flatten it. Heedless of his vehicle’s suspension he gained on the fleeing monster. Did werewolves really exist? If they did, this one was the old-school kind. A ragged beast of the eastern European variety that tore apart peasants and livestock. Count on his luck that it wasn’t the handsome kind that got involved in love triangles with nitwit teenage girls.

Regardless, the creature couldn’t outrun a pizza delivery driver. Billy thundered past, gaining a brief but clear view of the skinniest, ugliest, bear he’d ever seen.

The bear was making for a shabby pine tree and cover where a Subaru couldn’t go. Billy was relieved he wasn’t fighting the supernatural but in no mood for forgiveness. He angled sharply and cut the bear off. Let’s hear it for all-wheel-drive!

The bear circled around and Billy chased him; recklessly endangering man and bear and Subaru. Suddenly there was a squirrel on the hood. It was clinging to his windshield wiper and waving its arms. It must’ve been in the grass somewhere.

Who knows what would have happened next? (Certainly not the author of this ridiculous story.)

The future held murder. Billy had lined up the hood of his car on his target. His manly valor was willing to accept… no, not merely accept but demand a dented hood as the price of flattening the bear. Bart the bear braced itself for his certain demise. He’d gotten a good view of the driver of the Subaru from hell and reflected that the driver was white. As a black bear about to be flattened by a white driver it was clear, just as he’d always expected, he was going to be killed by a racist. He tried to let out a belligerent roar, “Bear lives matter, bear lives matter” … but it came out weak and quivery; “Bear! Lives? matter…”

Terry the squirrel clung to the windshield wiper frantically trying to defuse the situation and grimly mused that each and every animal on God’s green earth was dumber that squirrels. The world would be so much more peaceful if she were in charge. Only one thing could stop the mayhem. Indoctrination. Billy’s phone chimed.

He was of a demographic that had been trained almost from infancy to carry, use, covet, respond to, and accept the commands of… a cell phone. For example, Billy lived in a car yet had an unlimited data plan; the irony of such budgetary choices never occurred to him. He read the text:

“STOP. DON’T HURT SQUIRREL!!!!!” Mary and her stolen iPhone were the single thread of sanity in a situation that had gone off the rails.

Billy let the bear escape. He blinked. The squirrel, clinging to the windshield wiper, was staring directly at him. Another chime.

“DON’T HURT SQUIRREL. BIG TIP. MONEY!”

Just as Billy never knew why he decided to charge across the field, he never knew why he decided to stop. But he gingerly rolled back to the dirt road and parked his car.

In a flash the squirrel leapt away. Heart racing, Billy wondered how much expensive undercarriage damage he’d done when two bucks in ammo would’ve done the job? Grandma would’ve know better. She’d have stepped out of the car, dropped the bear, and be halfway to making a rug of it in the time it took Billy’s heart rate to subside. He took a deep breath, counted to 10, and texted:

“WHO AM I TALKING TO?”

“WE ARE LESBIAN ACTIVIST SQUIRRELS.”

This didn’t penetrate Billy’s cerebral cortex. From the shadows beneath the tree he heard a growl.

“AND A BEAR.”

Billy waited for this to make sense. It didn’t. Another text.

“STILL HUNGRY. PLEASE”

Billy rolled down the window and hurled a pizza box into the darkness.

The bear charged it, tore into the cardboard and started eating; ignoring all else. Billy hurled another pizza. The bear attacked it and chewed, box and all. Billy hurled a third. A squirrel appeared from the grass, dodged a sloppy swipe from the bear, grabbed a bit of crust, and disappeared.

“WE ARE HONEST. WILL PAY. $$$”

Billy gently opened the passenger door and kicked the remaining seven pizzas to the ground. Then hurriedly slammed the door and backed up his car. He watched with round eyes as his headlamps illuminated a bear and two squirrels devouring ten pizzas with extra anchovies.

He let out a deep breath. “Well,” he thought “that was unexpected.”

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Road To Portland: Part 6: Carpe-ing The Diem

Billy was itching to deliver a pizza.  You can’t make money just standing around.

The phone rang and an order went up on the screen. Two small vegetarian pizzas for a few blocks away. Billy recognized the address. It was a PTA meeting. Bad tippers. Annoying customers. Even so…

He reached up to punch the button, thus taking the delivery, but was distracted by an icon at the base of the screen. An internet based order was coming through. Even in this day and age, few people ordered pizza from a web browser. Billy, an Uber driver, couldn’t understand this. He hesitated, maybe the other delivery would be better.

Robert reached in front of him and snagged the PTA job. That dick!

The internet order came through. Ten pizzas! But something was wrong; no voice contact number, unusual address, it looked like a prank. Billy had been burned before.

Eighty miles away Bart was nursing a paw he’d bruised while bashing in the window of someone’s car. Mary and Terry were doing God knows what with the little white object they’d instructed him to steal.

“They’re not going for it!” Mary whined. “Nobody delivers this far.”

They’d promised Bart food and he wasn’t seeing it. He’d just fallen for an idiot squirrel plan! How could something so small have food in it? “If you don’t get me food immediately, you will have a second nemesis!” Bart roared.

Terry, realizing this was their last chance, made a bold move. She appended a note to the order. “THIS IS NOT PRANK. HUGE TIP. TXT FOR DETAILS.”

Billy took the bait. He fished out his phone and texted. Meanwhile the restaurant manager, an overweight, middle aged victim of a lifetime of fast food, clomped over to the screen. “Eighty-mile delivery? Stupid web browser brings out the freaks.” He cleared the screen and waddled off.

Billy didn’t expect much but he sent the text anyway. “WRNG ADDR. 80 MILES! WTF?”

The response was instant. “WE’RE HUNGRY. HUGE TIP.”

Billy sighed but responded. “NOBODY DELIVERS 80 MILES. DIPSHIT.”

Another fast response. “CAN PAY. BEAR WILL EAT US IF YOU DON’T DELIVER.”

Billy chuckled. “TRY UBER. OR MOVE TO CITY. POTHEAD.”

Just then Robert rolled back into the parking lot. Billy had missed a job. It was a crap job but any job beat none. He really was a loser.

Was that his former girlfriend in Robert’s Audi? That asshole! That bitch!

Just then a fellow Uber driver texted him. “CHK UBER RIDE LIST :-)”

Billy clicked “available” on Uber. Someone was looking for an 80-mile ride originating from his location. The destination address matched the pizza order. None of the drivers was willing to touch it.

He slipped out of the restaurant and texted the pizza person again. “IF I TAKE THE UBER I WANT A TIP THAT’LL GIVE ME AN ERECTION.” Then he sent his PayPal link. He noticed that Robert and his ex-girlfriend were still in the Audi.

The phone vibrated again. PayPal was reporting an incoming transaction. “You received a payment of $500 USD from Nutlover64. Description ‘take Uber cab we ordered, we’ll pay for Uber, you just ride, don’t forget anchovies’.”

Billy told his boss he was feeling sick and had to go home. His boss accepted the lame excuse without batting an eye. He was an uncharacteristically reasonable supervisor. He knew Billy was on a shoestring and would make more driving drunks home from bars than delivering pizzas to drunks. On a slow night like this Lord Fauntleroy and his damn Audi could handle things.

Billy paid cash for ten pizzas (with extra anchovies!), accepted the Uber ride (which was a huge sum in its own right!), and rolled out.

He had a huge erection.


Every time someone clicks the button below an English major cries in their Latte.

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Road To Portland: Part 5: Ayn Rand’s Disciple Takes A Punch

“Billy Loser” wasn’t Billy’s name but he temporarily matched the nickname. He was a pizza delivery boy and Uber driver. He’d recently dropped out of college, his Subaru needed new brake pads, his girlfriend had dumped him, and he hadn’t gotten laid in five months. This was merely a temporary setback but at the moment he was, he had to admit, a loser. Thus, provisionally and temporarily, he didn’t resent the nickname. What did sheeple at the pizza shop know anyway?

He had a great future in store! He was a capitalist, libertarian, go getting, man of freedom. He was also completely moved out of his parent’s house, which put him head and shoulders above his age cohort. Plus, he owned his Subaru lock, stock, and rusting tailpipe. Owned it!

The car was his prized possession. To him it represented safety (bug out!), home (hunker down), and an economic engine (Uber driver & delivery boy). He had a “What would Ayn Rand do?” bumper sticker, a Glock in the glove box, and a net worth of $287.34.

In times of darkness, like when he levered his tall frame into the Subaru to sleep, he consoled himself that a net worth greater than $0 put him far above average in America. Compared to his student loan bound brethren he was probably fifty grand ahead. They were the losers.

Everyone thought he was a loon. The worst of them was trust funder shithead extraordinaire Robert Maglowski. An elitist chowderhead, he had no student loans, planned to stay in college forever, and had a new Audi. He delivered pizzas one or two evenings a month and dutifully reported to his gullible parents he was “gaining blue collar experience”. This induced a fat monthly check from his shithead parents who thought their shithead son was learning shithead life skills from dalliances amid the unwashed. Robert, who got an Audi for his birthday, lorded over Billy’s humble Subaru which had been purchased with Billy’s blood, sweat, and tears. Billy often thought of putting sugar in Robert’s gas tank.

But he didn’t. Billy was going to earn his own way and jealousy over Robert’s Audi was just one of life’s tests. Billy had a life plan mapped out in his head. Someday he’d own land; no mortgage of course. He’d build a cabin and raise some rabbits. He’d be free forever, owe nobody anything, and find another girlfriend.

About the girlfriend; he’d known she’d dump him soon after his “bad day”. But there were good times too. When he was in college she overlooked his rants about freedom and self-worth. She seemed impressed with it in fact. At least enough that, five months ago, he’d scored. That had been a “good day”; possibly a “awesome day”. He’d finished all his finals, verified that he’d maintained a 4.0 GPA, and got laid all on the same Friday. Then she’d jetted off to Jackson Hole to spend winter break skiing with her relatives. Meanwhile he’d camped out in his Subaru trying to rack up a grubstake while the dorms were closed. (What a word! If gold prospectors a century ago could have a grubstake so could he.)

Life doesn’t always work out. His “bad day” came shortly after school reconvened. Over the break, Billy earned $1,400 but got in a mild fender bender that burned the return on two-week’s hard work to a mere $376.

The registrar got word Billy had grossed “too much” (ignoring the usurious repair bill!) and swung into action. First, they cut his hours at his third job; a “workstudy” position at a nonprofit where he taught fractions to football players. Then they cut his financial aid package by 36% and offered to give him a student loan of equal size to make up the difference. In the end, earning $1,400 had cost Billy a $1,026 fender repair, jeopardized $900 in potential earnings as a tutor, and was threatening to balloon into $7,271 in student loans. Socialist assholes!

Never fully comfortable in the Orwellian conformity of college, the registrar’s “balanced approach” to the problem of “excess earnings” was Billy’s tipping point. He threatened to burn down the registrar’s office and was ordered to attend voluntary (yet inexplicably mandatory) “life skills” classes. These voluntary/mandatory classes were taught by a rumpled walking trainwreck everyone on campus referred to as Captain Burnout. The sessions were well known as the best place to score dope and/or an STD.

That same afternoon Billy told one his football player “clients” to “get bent” when the Neanderthal objected to Billy’s new reduced schedule. This escalated into a free for all at the tutoring office which “cleared the bench” on both sides.

Three pasty math majors (including Billy) and a willowy sixteen-year-old prodigy Engineering student they affectionately nicknamed Doogie Howser found themselves squared off against three functionally retarded but hulking football players and Janice. Janice was a transvestite who looked smashing in stiletto heels and a thigh length sheath. He/she/it was failing math while writing poetry for the English department. She seemed eager to bash heads; perhaps the quadratic equation will do that to you?

At first it looked good. Billy and the other nerds successfully held off the football players (and nobly kept Doogie alive!). Unfortunately, it soon surfaced that Janice, who had kicked off her heels and was grinning like a maniac, had even more under the “hood” than the obvious “more” transvestites are usually packing. First, she was pumped full of steroids (and an illicit supplier for half the football team). Being amped up enough to make a stallion blush, she was also prone to what, if it were dialed far lower on the mayhem scale, would be called “aggression”. Second, she knew aggression like a concert musician knows their instrument. Janice periodically took out her chemically enhanced frustrations as an MMA fighter.

Before calmer heads (i.e. the nerds who were not Billy) could defuse the situation, Janice decided a room full of math books was as good a venue as an octagon. She flattened everything in the room; including but not limited to football players, a potted plant, math nerds, and furniture. Two of the players went down immediately. They would miss the next game. Next came the plant. It was crushed so completely other plants would have nightmares about it. Then she focused on Doogie.

Doogie held weak hands in front of his fragile face. It looked like a small town that had never seen a perfect SAT (much less one from a 14 year old) would send their child genius prodigy to the university only to have him come back less than two years later with a head so battered he could never do more than work in government. This would confirm his town’s assumptions about universities and cities in general.

Billy, who was in the 98th percentile of IQ scores, and therefore just bright enough to understand Doogie when the kid talked slowly, interceded. He got between them, shoved Doogie out the door, and for his heroism, got clocked with a roundhouse that would stop a train. It was the bravest thing he’d ever done.

Billy’s ensuing headache lasted for days. During that time, he quit college in a desperate (and successful) gambit to get off the rolls before the next semester’s tuition could be billed. He also stopped payment on his dorm fees and liquidated his meal plan into a huge stock of candy bars which he was slowly selling (at an outrageous markup of course) to his drunker Uber clients.

Two weeks later Billy got a $76 bill for the “life skills” session he’d never attended. This was the beginning of Billy’s life of crime. Bricks would fly through the “life skills” window at unpredictable intervals whenever Billy had time to kill and a buzz on.

Somewhere during that whirlwind, his girlfriend dumped him and he gained the nickname “loser”. Billy was down but not out. He remained optimistic an opportunity would present itself. When it did he would carpe the diem out of it.


As always, thanks for reading. Free to signal your support (or take the opportunity to tell me I suck) by hitting the tip jar.

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Coffee Moment: Part 2

My last post explained that percolators are awesome because of mind control. Since a few people asked; I’m going to post more info.

It started last summer when there was a power outage. I used this opportunity to discuss my perfectly adequate grid down coffee making plan and Mrs. Curmudgeon’s entirely successful and more feminine solution (i.e. abandon the house and drive to Starbucks).

Since then we’ve had a few more outages but neither my preferred solution (a simple small generator) nor Mrs. Curmudgeon’s preferred solution (a more elaborate large generator) has come to fruition. Apparently, we’re sticking with the tried and true American plan; doing nothing until the shit hits the fan. (I’m not worried. A generator is more a luxury than essential. Curmudgeon Compound has enough firewood, bacon, whiskey, and ammo to withstand things that would destroy the average coastal city. When the time comes we’ll stay warm and eat bacon while getting drunk and shooting zombies.  Who could ask for more?)

In November I mentioned a percolator would  add “atmosphere” to my workshop. It has a cookstove I’ve named Betsy. It’s (maybe) from 1939 and is one of the many reasons why we don’t necessarily need a generator. I discussed Betsy here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

This is an old photo. Betsy now has a vastly improved chimney and freshly painted walls. A man and his cookstove; it’s a beautiful thing.

Mrs. Curmudgeon, who is awesome, presented me with a very pretty blue enameled metal percolator for Christmas. I was delighted. Here it is:

Isn’t that pretty?

Note that I used a propane burner for the heat source. (It would look perfect with Betsy but it’s too damn cold to be in my workshop right now!)

She even included a set of four groovy metal cups. For those of you not in the know, metal cups get hot. Pay attention when you drink or you’ll burn your face off. This is the price you pay for having a sexy lookin’, old-school, cup of Joe.

Metal isn’t ideal for hot liquids but looks awesome.

In fact, Mrs. Curmudgeon graced me with all sorts of coffee accessories from Death Wish Coffee.

When you start buying stuff from “Death Wish” it’s addictive.

Of note, the Aladdin thermos has a “Death Wish” coffee badge on it. That makes it better. I don’t know why, it just does.

The “Death Wish” spoon is hers and I’ve been informed I’d better not lose it. (If you want a coffee scooping spoon that’s hefty enough to beat someone savagely…. this is the appropriate choice.)

I’m not sure if the grinder came from Death Wish but it comes with two “jars” for the base and works great.

Even if power goes down forever, I’m still not resorting to Folgers.

Unfortunately, the pot (not from Death Wish) leaked. That’s right, it leaked on day one! I was terribly disappointed. This is one of those situations where a product looks cool but due to quality control failure during manufacture it should be filled with Tannerite and taken to the range for proper disposal.

Returning Mrs. Curmudgeon’s Christmas purchases is one of those ‘aint gonna happen situations. If I buy a pot that leaks I’ll turn it into a lifelong battle with the company that sold it but Mrs. Curmudgeon is more… sane.

I toyed with solutions to patch it. I have an appropriately sized welding kit but I’m something of a chimp with a stick welder. I’m more likely to burn the pot in half than patch it. Plus who knows what evils I’d introduce into a food grade pot with the flux? I considered JB Weld. It might hold but I have my doubts about food safety. I assume JB Weld is made of something that would make my liver explode. Dying of poisoning because I patched a coffee pot with a substance meant for automotive engines seems like a stupid way to go.

In desperation I resorted to the ultimate last case scenario; I spent money. Shocking!


I was several hundred miles from home when, on a whim, I swooped into a trendy inner city dead zone for what my GPS assured me was an sporting goods supply place with the word “surplus” in the title. I was disappointed to find it was one of those trendy boutiques that sell $200 jackets and pretends they’re “military surplus”.

“I think I’m in the wrong place.” I muttered to the blue haired, barely employable, hipster running the store. “I want a coffee percolator.”

The dude at the counter waved vaguely toward the back of the store. It was a pretty empty store. I’ve got more “surplus” shit in my garage than their entire stock. But… could it be? Yes, a single coffee pot. One. Not two. Not a row of them. One.

Shiny!

It was expensive but exactly what I needed. I planned on buying another blue enameled pot but this one was stainless steel. A bit too classy for Betsy and me. Then again it’ll likely outlive both of us.

Also, I had the choice of paying for stainless steel or buggering off. Time was of the essence. My truck was partially blocking the tiny city street, I had shit to do, and the weather was going downhill. The hipster looked mentally glazed over.

“Drop $5 off the price?” I offered.

He nodded. I handed over cash. He didn’t charge tax. For all I know he didn’t work there.

I was in the store less than three minutes. Elapsed time (counting dropping off the highway and getting back on) was ten minutes. Is that not a miracle?

No shit! It was like a Twilight Zone: “Submitted for your approval, a redneck wants a coffee pot. Will he pay $10 more than he plans? Or will he spend six hours chasing his ass in a Gander Mountain trying to buy the same Chinese made leaky piece of shit he already has because he likes the color blue? How far has the American consumer fallen? Let’s watch and see.”

I’m still wondering if I can weld the first one (I can’t see any drawbacks to having a “backup” percolator”) but have no regrets over the new stainless steel replacement. The pot works perfectly. I’ve tested it several times.

The only drawback is that I’ve discovered I’m a victim of Maxwell House mental programming. I’ve always had it in my head, but now I know it.

A.C.

P.S. While filters are optional, Mrs. Curmudgeon gave me a pack of paper filters with the Christmas stuff. They work great. Nearly all the coffee I’ve had from percolators had grounds floating in the cup but I’m not experiencing that when I use filters. They’re cheap. I heartily recommend simple paper filters for the percolator that Maxwell House programmed you to desperately need. (Admit it, you want a percolator now.)

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A Mind Control / Coffee Moment

This is a brief intermission in the saga of the squirrels while I get my head out of my ass and write it attend to other matters. In the meantime (and in keeping with my current “ignore politics when possible” policy) I’m providing a link to this video:

Why? Three reasons:

  1. I just bought another percolator. I’m super happy with it. (I’ll post about it someday.) This was meant as one of several options in my “grid down / zombie apocalypse / campfire cooking” coffee plan. Unexpectedly, I discovered I love the soothing sound of a percolator. It’s charming and pleasant.  It’s an experience my trusty (and overworked) automatic drip machine totally lacks.
  2. This is exactly how squirrels wield the power of Abba! If you are of a certain age you already know the “Maxwell House percolator song” and you probably have a positive association. (If you’re too young; forget it. The video will only prove to you that 1960’s television ads were grainy and dull. Get the hell off my lawn. Take your post-consumer content recycled paper cup with that dipshit thermal sleeve to keep the hot contents from burning your fingers and get it the hell off my property.) For the target audience to whom I’m speaking; watch the video. It won’t take long. I guaran-damn-tee you’ll hear the notes in your head. The notes are already there. An odd duck of a blogger just resurrected them from deep in the recesses of your mind using a technology utterly unimaginable to the folks making the commercial. Unlike squirrels and politicians, I promise to use this power only for good.
  3. Go ahead and tell me that #1 has nothing to do with the #2 that a corporation put in my head. (See what I did there?) There’s a reason I love my percolator. It can’t be the “burn my hands on the metal pot” effect. It can’t be the “serve coffee so boiling hot it will implode your nuts” association. It can’t be the “waiting 15 minutes watching a fucking metal cylinder when I need my caffeine hit right now” feature. It’s the power of Abba in a different form.

Sometime, after I’ve finished spilling percolated coffee all over my lap and when the squirrel stories are launched, I’ll delve into the “K-cup / Percolator Unified Theory Of Coffee”. Dr. Mingo and I have discussed it at length and we’ve probably discovered the secret to all of life’s conundrums.

A.C.

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Road To Portland: Part 4: A Quest Is Initiated

Bart was going to die. He’d spent autumn, when he should’ve been gorging on the bounty of nature (or stolen apples), petrified and covered with skunk bits. Without a store of fat, hibernation was just another word for starvation.

Even worse, he was going to go out ugly. He waved his limbs. Tattered fur hung in twisted, matted clumps. He looked like shit. This depressed him; nobody wants to die ugly.

“Nice dreadlocks.” It was a chirpy voice. The kind of voice that would sound sunny and cheerful as it told you they’d sold your dog to a Korean restaurant; just before giving you a coupon to visit said restaurant. It was the kind of voice that would talk about nice weather while slashing your tires. It was the kind of voice…

“Hello? You listening?” The voice intruded on Bart’s inner dialog.

“I’m here.” Bart agreed. Then, because Bart told it like it was, he added “I hate you.”

“Any particular reason why?” The voice sounded entirely unconcerned that a bear, the biggest baddest creature in the forest, had threatened it.

He couldn’t even scare a squirrel; further proof he was in dire straits. “Where are you?”

“Over here.” A squirrel crouched at the base of a stump a few yards away. Squirrels were fast. Bears never catch them. But Bart went for it.

When he jumped, the squirrel, who had been expecting this, darted left. Simultaneously, Bart felt a searing pain in his right ear as something bit it. He twisted in mid leap, careened out of control, and crashed onto his back. Luckily, he landed on something soft

“I can’t believe that worked!” Terry squeaked as she and Mary tore up the nearest tree trunk.

“Get off me!” The soft thing crushed under Bart’s back was squirming. Bart hadn’t moved in weeks; his joints ached and his muscles were weak. It took a few tries to roll off what turned out to be a partially flattened hawk. Bart recognized Edward, a pretentious git who claimed he was an eagle and lorded his self-proclaimed superior intellect over Bart.

“You messed it all up!” Edward croaked as he flapped to a branch just out of Bart’s reach. “I had Mary pinned down at that stump. I was going to atone for my sins but you freed her!”

Bart rubbed a sore ear. “Atone? For what? Pretending you’re an eagle when everyone knows a real eagle would kick your ass?” Bart never liked the forest wide unspoken agreement that they pretend Edward, who was obviously a hawk, was an eagle. Was Bart to demand everyone call him a badger?

“I learned… sadly, that I’m nothing. I’m evil. And a rough legged hawk; at least biologically.”

Evil? This was new. Bart scratched his torso, hunger pains wouldn’t be far away. “Who said you were evil?”

“The squirrels; Mary and Terry. And it’s true.”

“You’ve been listening to squirrels?” Bart growled. Everyone knew squirrels were liars; the woodland equivalent of politicians. Count on the overintellectualized Edward to fall for a squirrel’s reasoning.

“Well, that and I killed every male squirrel for miles.” The bird shook his head sadly. “And I caused the wrath of God to destroy the tree with all the females. I’m damned.”

“You gotta’ stop listening to squirrels. Didn’t your mother teach you that?”

“She was incinerated by a solar experiment. Burst into flames in mid-flight. They say it was pretty epic. I basically raised myself.”

“Did a bad job of it I’d say.” Bart was merciless.

“Indeed. I learned the error of my ways when God exploded the oak. That was my… my Waterloo…” The raptor started humming to himself. “I’m only alive to kill Mary and Terry. After that I’ll throw myself into a windmill. Perhaps in the next life I’ll find solace.”

Bart didn’t like all this metaphysical claptrap. “Sure, whatever you say…”

“I can try again. I’m Buddhist now. Goodbye.” Without explaining how a Buddhist sought revenge to atone for sins demonstrated by God’s wrath, the raptor flew off.


Bart stretched, working out the kinks in his aching back, and waited. After a few minutes, he spoke to nobody in particular, “He’s gone. You can come out.”

“How’d you know we were watching?” It was Terry.

“Squirrels never stop watching.” He continued without waiting for a response. “While I was…” he paused, seeking the right word, “…out, you turned Edward into your nemesis?”

Both squirrels came out of hiding. Bart continued, “Then you teamed up to lure me into jumping at one of you while the other bit my ear so I was off balance. All to make me land on a hawk during a dive. It didn’t harm him as far as I could tell. Could you possibly come up with a more convoluted and unworkable plan?”

“We trapped him and brainwashed him with Swedish disco; tried to create a Utopian gynocentric world order.”

“OK, I stand corrected, that’s actually more convoluted. You look skinny. How’s Utopia working out?”

“It started out well. We had all the male squirrels in the vicinity killed.” Terry began.

“The female deaths were an accident!” Mary blurted guiltily.

“And?” Bart was impressed these two furballs had locally eradicated their own species. All the acorns for just the two of them? There had to be a catch.

“All of the nuts were cached by hundreds of squirrels. Now that they’re dead, we can’t find the caches” Mary conceded.

“Our bad.” Terry shrugged.

“And your own cache?” Bart hoped to wheedle the information out of them. If they’d stashed anything palatable, he would take it.

“Exploded. We don’t know how. Edward thinks it was God. Regardless it’s gone. We’re in the same boat as you. Winter is here and we have no food.”

Everything they said reminded Bart why he ignored “logic” that came out of a squirrel’s mouth. They were clever critters. Far too clever for their own good. They concocted absurd plans. Their inquisitive nature gave them just enough information to think they knew things about which they were completely clueless. They got locked in garages, shot while raiding birdfeeders, poisoned in barns, sucked into tractor engine air intakes, and so forth. They reflexively sought trouble and usually found it. In some ways, they reminded him of Sammy. Poor racist Sammy… who was dead and had it coming.

Bart looked up at the two squirrels, daydreaming of a way to grab them and take the edge off his hunger. Terry was thinking; thinking so hard her tail twitched.

“There’s a place for us.” Terry announced. “I read about it back when we had Facebook.”

“A place for you?” Bart chuckled. “Fat chance.”

“I remember it now. A place you’re supposed to go when…” she started checking off digits on her paw. “…when you have no life plan you go there. It’s a place for people who’ve screwed up; who haven’t lived properly…” she pointed at Bart’s hollow stomach. “…for folks who have stored no wealth to carry them through times of no resources. Where new ideas are embraced.” She waved her paw at Mary and herself and then looked pointedly at Bart as she continued, “It’s also for folks who… well for folks who haven’t maintained the best hygiene.”

Bart sniffed his armpit and almost gagged. Point taken.

“There’s a place for all three of us.” Terry beamed at her new idea, “We must go to Portland!”


More will ensue. If there’s a brief pause it just means I’m managing non-squirrel related affairs. As always, if you wish to encourage literature that has nothing to do with Jar Jar Binks, Washington D.C., or albino whales please click below.

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Road To Portland: Part 3: Winter Is Coming

Seven thousand feet above a nondescript homestead in the middle of nowhere a beautiful thing was happening. A minute particle of dust became the nucleus for a gossamer structure of ice crystals. This crystalline entity, almost achingly beautiful on its own, was joined by multitudes of its brethren. Each one a unique masterpiece; or so they say.

It drifted slowly, lazily, in no particular hurry through the swirling whiteness of its nimbostratus home, eventually breaking free to float to earth. During the long gradual decline the snowflake was nudged here and there by eddies and currents until at long last it settled gently on its final destination; a creature’s nose.

A pair of eyes, bleary, as if just emerging from a long and deathlike sleep, opened and focused on the snowflake. A bear… a bear which had been immobile for months… was looking at the glinting white intruder on its long, terribly flawed, coma-like, time of nothingness. And finally, for the first time in far too long, it was aware.

It was a bear. It was alive.

It was stiff from inaction, its fur tattered, its stomach hollow. But it was alive.

And it had a snowflake on its nose. A second snowflake joined the first.

The bear looked around. Gathering its wits, regaining consciousness, becoming fully sentient. Snow was falling more heavily now. Each flake adding a whisperlike sound to the deep silence of the forest.

The bear became fully alert, all its facilities restored. It remembered the sudden realization that Sammy, a skunk with a stripe of white along a black body, was by definition racist. The bear remembered the call to action. The need to do the right thing. And then the skunksplosion.

It shivered. Some things are worse than death. Sammy’s foul demise had gone beyond any reasonable reality.

The bear shifted its weight. Stretched its back. God, it was stiff.

Winter was coming.

He hadn’t eaten all fall. Now it was hibernation season.

Bart the bear was well and truly screwed.


Everything I post is free for you to enjoy (and ridicule). However, if you like what you’ve read and want to send a tip my way I’d certainly be happy about it. Thanks!

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