From Saturday Afternoon to Tuesday Morning in Five Seconds Flat

Over the weekend, I went to the movies with an old friend, a new friend, and a medium friend. I think we saw Fantastic Four, but it’s hard to recall. It wasn’t dull exactly—I can picture explosions and so forth—but it was somewhat less than the sum of its parts. There was a cute guy in tights, and maybe that will have to be enough.

Afterward, we were led by some primitive compulsion into a store called Tuesday Morning. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it; I only have because Rob was obsessed with the idea of it a couple of years ago and dragged me there once. Tuesday Morning is not a point in time but rather a tragic assortment of worthless crap foisted on an uncaring world, the dark underbelly of an intensely wasteful culture.

Then I went home.


Friday, um, I mean Saturday Chupacabra Blogging

Has anyone seen Goblin?


The Livin’ Is Easy?

It is the second day of summer, and I have been Taking Steps in various areas of my life. Some of the things I did not want to do and have avoided doing. Some of the things I want to do and have avoided doing. I started with that which I didn’t want to do at all, and now I may just call it a day before I get to the good stuff.

What has summer done for you lately? Sweat and regret, that’s all I got. At least they rhyme, so I can write an epic poem later.


Dew Drop Outt

A few years ago, we installed a whole-house water filtration system to catch some of the sediment and rust that had been seeping in from the deteriorating Baltimore pipelines. This works beautifully, except we never remember to change the filter, or we remember it and put it off, or when we actually set aside time to do it, we encounter unforeseen difficulties. The filter on its own impedes the flow of water enough that we use about one-third less than we normally would without even noticing, but when it starts getting clogged, the pressure creeps ever downward. It came to the point lately where the flow from the upstairs bathtub slowed to a trickle, stopping altogether when someone flushed the toilet. Rob said that taking a shower was like waiting for dewdrops to form, which led me to make a joke about the Dew Drop Inn. (Note to reader: jokes about the Dew Drop Inn do not have quite the hoped for payoff.) These conditions went on for weeks before it fully sank in there was a problem, and for further weeks before we decided to devote fifteen minutes to the simple maintenance that would remedy it.

I don’t know why that sort of thing happens over and over in my life. It’s not that I’m not proactive in many areas, but there are others in which I will cling to obliviousness and its resulting inaction with the tenacity of a limpet. It may have to do with the fantasyland I frequently occupy in which everything works fine and everyone does what he or she is supposed to, thereby freeing me to worry about other things (because not worrying about something is never an option). But in any case, reality has been knocking extra firmly lately. There are things that have to be done that I had hoped would not have to be done if I retreated into fantasyland for as long as possible. Ask Elizabeth I; sometimes this works. But usually, no matter how long it takes, Mary Queen of Scots ends up paying the piper.


In the Oven

Two of my sisters-in-law are expecting, as Lucy Ricardo used to say. She never said what she was expecting, and I always thought the crosstown bus might pull up in her living room, but now that I have actually ridden the crosstown bus, I realize that, while it is far less unpleasant than one would think, it is simply not going to provide that level of service.

So I’m going to be an uncle again and again. This is fine, as I am very avuncular, but the only of my existing nephews and nieces who currently realize this are the ones old enough to be bribed. “Who is your favorite uncle?” I will say, holding out a dollar bill. If I don’t hear the right answer, I get to keep it. Those who do not yet understand the almighty buck just look through me like a pane of glass. If I reach out and touch their arm, they react as if they have been attacked by a tentacle.

Sometimes I think it might be nice to get a child somewhere, but I have enough problems. Goblin Foo will tell you that it is no picnic being my responsibility. When she hasn’t wadded all of the sheets into a ball and burrowed inside, she NEEDS things. “Daddy I need food!” “Daddy I need water!” “Daddy I need to go outside!” Good lord, Goblin Foo, do I need to graft on an opposable thumb before you pull your own weight around here?


Dear Blog

I just read about someone who is making a lot of positive changes in his life, like cleaning out clutter, losing weight, and all of that other stuff people resolve to do at the beginning of the year or for some other milestone. In this case, it’s the guy’s birthday, and he is turning the same age that I will be turning on my next birthday. I forget the formula I use to translate my age into earth years, so I will simply describe it as young enough to still have some shred of hope, old enough to know better.

This guy has decided to keep himself honest and on-track by blogging daily about his progress. I don’t know who besides him would be truly interested in this, but perhaps he’s intending to be inspirational. I would probably blog about progress toward my own goals except for that I don’t have any. Progress, that is; I have goals. Sadly, most of the things that have to happen in my life are really things that have to happen in other people’s lives, and I don’t have any control over that unless you count how tightly I can clench my jaw. I guess, on my own, I want to finish my book and finish fixing up the house. How would you like to read about that every day?

Dear blog: This morning, I wrote three words and called it a day.

Dear blog: Today I passed that broken handrail and died a little more inside.


Maybe It’s Long-Leggedy Beasties

The other day, upon arriving home from my acupuncture appointment, I was startled to hear three distinct footsteps coming from upstairs. Neither Goblin, who was about two feet away from me, nor Rob, who was about two hundred miles away, appeared to have been the culprit. Quickly, I checked the back door, but it was closed and locked; neither had the front appeared to have been tampered with when I entered, but there is a balcony door on the second floor, right near the origin of the sound. Grabbing the phone, ready to call 911 when I encountered a prowler, I crept up the stairs and discovered that Goblin and I were quite alone.

Rob and I have taken to watching “Ghost Hunters,” a reality program on the SciFi network about an abrasive bald man and his team of oddballs who set up elaborate scientific recording devices in haunted houses in hopes of capturing real evidence of the supernatural. The show used to be less about the ghosts than about the team’s insufferable dysfunction, but they seem to have gotten their act together in recent seasons and have actually managed to record some interesting phenomena. Some of this has been truly amazing—such as a glass shattering on a nightstand, a wire unlooping itself from where it had been secured, a cloaked figure appearing and disappearing in an abandoned corridor, a ghoul’s face floating in the darkness, and disembodied voices answering questions on a tape recorder—but most of it would be considered fairly commonplace if there had been some known human cause.

As commonplace as a few odd footsteps in an empty house.



At the end of most days, I play a computer game called Massive Assault to calm my nerves. It may or may not sound like something I would do, commanding tanks and armored cars across a countryside teeming with the Enemy, but it takes my mind off things. I like it because it reminds me of chess, where every piece can move a certain way and do a certain thing each turn. Unlike actual war, it is structured and tidy. There are guerrilla soldiers that appear when a country is invaded . . . but guess what, they don’t appear unless a country is invaded. If you want to invade a country, you make sure you do so with enough firepower to destroy the guerrillas within a turn or two, then it’s easy to take the city. Because invading a neutral country automatically pushes it into the enemy camp and creates guerrillas in your enemy’s colors, this is not a decision to be undertaken lightly. To get the support you need, you might create false pretenses or bully your Congress into passing a bogus and sweeping authorization of force. And even when you are losing badly, you can issue pompous speeches about staying the course and being right all along.

Oh dear, another mindless pastime evaporates into the atmosphere.

My second favorite downtime activity is walking Goblin around the neighborhood and trying to decide whether she would more likely affiliate herself with the Kazon Ogla or the Kazon Nistrim. She seems to feel as if the Nistrim have better technology to conquer the squirrels, but given the Ogla’s superior numbers, it may be six of one.


Creatures of the Night

I just started to make a list of things I am afraid of, and so far, I have only come up with tarantulas, germs, and dentists with big scary white teeth. There is probably more, but this is quite enough to begin with; I can think of several hundred ways just off the bat in which these three elements could join forces and try to get me.


Friday Chupacabra Blogging

How long has it been since I first seen the chupacabra?
Why, I can’t remember when it weren’t around
That chupacabra did a heap of work
Spent its whole life sucking the blood out of livestock


The Lost Language of Mustard

Yesterday evening, I was exercising at the gym-something having to do with deltoids-when the random shuffle on my iPod dealt up this sixteenth-century gem:

How long has it been since I first seen Old Rivers?
Why, I can’t remember when he weren’t around
Well, that old man did a heap of work
Spent his whole life walking plowed ground

I almost dropped an eight-hundred-pound barbell on my head before I remembered that I had downloaded that track ages ago as a joke and it wasn’t just Bono getting on in years. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard it, but “Old Rivers” isn’t quite a song. There’s music in the background, and that kind of classic Hollywood harmonizing that sounds like a well-heeled chorus of werewolves, but the words are actually recited by Walter Brennan, who at no point in his life was ever younger than ninety-six.

He had a one-room shack not far from us
And we was about as poor as him
He had one old mule he called Midnight
And I’d tag along after them

Well, it goes on from there. Old Rivers dies at the end, in case you’re on pins and needles. (Walter Brennan may have died before wandering into the recording studio.) The only reason I mention this is because my beloved iPod, Mustard, suddenly stopped working after it played this little ditty. You might suspect that he went on strike, shutting down until he was allowed to play that album of Saturday morning cartoon songs I usually listen to while working out, but no . . . I actually couldn’t get him to turn off! Mustard loves Walter Brennan! Now I know what Murphy Brown felt like when she discovered that her baby was a Fanilow.


Moon Change, Moon Change, Why Is Everything the Same?

Oh dear, how embarrassing. While I did intend yesterday’s fifth-blogiversary extravaganza post to accurately reflect my private hand-wringing over where to channel my creative energies in the coming year, I didn’t mean to imply that I was balancing on a fence and required encouragement to continue writing here. How did you get the silly idea that I cared what you thought, anyway? Ha ha. Seriously, I thought the last line indicated clearly enough that the Hippo and the chupacabra had reestablished their mystical hold over me, and I’d be around for another twelvemonth at least. That shows what I know. I was stunned and extremely touched when the laudatory comments started coming in. How am I supposed to be my usual caustic self when people are saying nice things about me? The power of the chupacabra extends only so far.

Oh, who am I kidding? The chubacabra is infinite. It is the Beyonder of cryptozoology. As soon as I finish typing here, I’m going to petition it to banish the half-moth half-mosquito chimera that is fluttering around my office, as well as Shrödinger’s Tarantula, which I trapped underneath a pencil cup last week and now lingers in an uncertain limbo between life and death. Keeping me evil in the face of goodness should not be a problem; the chupacabra has also endorsed Dick Cheney.



Five years ago today, I typed the first words in this madcap chronicle. I was living in Jackson Heights, New York, and Goblin Foo Uvula was not even two years old. For her, a lifetime has gone by, and it feels like that for me, as well. No longer am I that wide-eyed youth of eighteen who changed apartments and jobs every year of his life. I am a family man now, married, a homeowner, running a business, saving up for Goblin’s college tuition. Yes, I’m on the verge of nervous collapse and I’ve barely seen any of my friends in months, if not years, but credit where it is due.

I’ve seriously entertained the idea of ending today. This could be my farewell to the blogging world. Not dramatic or pretentious, just a quiet goodbye, a gentle expression of gratitude to those who have stuck with my bemused ramblings for five years or any part thereof. Sometimes, I’m reminded that there are more of you than I ever would have thought, and it gives me a funny feeling, not in a bathing-suit place; a fluttering inside the hollow chest cavity where my heart ought to be.

I don’t know. Five years is such a nice, round number. It feels complete, an accomplishment, a cycle, a Bolshevik plan. If I stop now, I could move on to something else entirely. You wouldn’t miss me for long. No one still cares about Seinfeld or Ross and Rachel. The world moves too fast.

Or I could continue on in the same vein for all time. I could forever regale you with tales of the gym and the grocery store and the mixed bag of nuts I meet on the streets. Whenever I happen to notice it’s Friday, I could dredge up a chupacabra. I worry that if I leave, there won’t be enough chupacabras in your life.

I guess six is sort of a round number, too.


Friday Chupacabra Blogging

This is called “el chupacabra.” I think Jwer should stop skulking around in the woods.