... and your little dog, too.
All right, already, this isn’t November. November was a bad month anyway. Bad enough that I forgot to put the requisite snarky taglines at the head of each column, and I didn’t notice until a half-hour after I posted these. Too late now. Anyway, there will be a December Issue coming down the pike in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Honest.
Moving right along, I do not, believe it or not, own any sort of tablet computer or smart phone (crowd gasps, screams, begins stampede to exit).
But I happen to know (Thanks, Google Analytics! Bestest massive privacy violation ever!) that many of you read TWD on on your cell phones, tablets, microwave ovens or mood crystals (I know you’re out there). I also know because you’ve taken to writing me to say how cruddy TWD looks on your phone. So, stepping briskly past how bizarre I find that last sentence, I went looking for an “app” I could offer you folk who evidently cannot afford a real computer, and discovered that cooking one up would either require a lot of money I most certainly do not have (and would send to the gas company if I did), or would take forever to figure out on my own. Drat. Double drat with extra cheese.
But since I can’t sleep knowing that even one reader is suffering eyestrain trying to read my deathless prose on one of Steve Jobs’ tiny cash machines, I searched around until I found a temporary (just kidding, it’s probably permanent) solution in the form of a WordPress plugin that produces a “mobile” version of this site. It’s supposed to automatically detect most flavors of mobile device, but if it doesn’t, you can click the links at the foot of any page on this site. And if you find yourself trapped in cramped mobile hell and wish you were here in the bright, open air, there’s a link at the bottom of that mobile page that will bring you to the regular version. The search box is also at the bottom of the page, although there is a mysterious and pointless “search results” menu item at the top. I know what glitch put it there, but I can’t get rid of it.
Anyone up for a consumer tip? A few years ago we had to buy a new furnace on account of the fact that the old one dated back to WWI and broke every few months. I also needed AC because the MS makes me sensitive to high temperatures (“sensitive” in this case means my vision dims and I fall over). So we scraped together money and bought a high-efficiency furnace. End of Act One. In Act Two, we notice that the furnace, when it’s cold out, keeps coming on for a few minutes, going off, and then starting again about 30 seconds later. That ain’t good. So, long story short, Kathy Googles around for a few days (literally) and discovers that tons of people are complaining of the same thing. And they’ve had their furnaces serviced multiple times, but the problem persists. If it persists long enough, it turns out, your furnace burns itself out and you get to buy a new one. Bummer.
But then she finds a page put up by a furnace repair place that provides an intriguing clue to the problem. In many cases, the culprit is not the furnace per se, but the filter. People buy an expensive new furnace and figure that they should spring for the fancy-schmanzy high-priced filters that remove micro-micron dust and last for several months to boot. This turns out to be a bad idea because the furnace has to work harder to force the air through, overheats, shuts itself down, and starts again after it cools down a smidgen. What you want to do, they say, is buy the cheapest, flimsiest filter you can find. And so we did, and the furnace works way better now, never does that on-off thing, and keeps the house much warmer, too. Who knew?
Lastly, thanks to all the folks who have supported this site through contributions and subscriptions. Subscriptions, by the way, make lovely gifts, and also feed the vast, lumbering herds of cats around here, so one subscription actually makes two people happy, though in most cases only one of them is covered in fur.
And now, on with the show…
Semper Ubi Sub Ubi
So I turned on the local news the other night to see when it would stop raining. I wasn’t really paying close attention; I actually had my back to the TV and was writing something. After a few minutes, however, it percolated into my frontal cortex that the people on the tee-vee were very excited about something, so I turned around and noticed that emblazoned across the screen in flashing orange was FEROCIOUS WILD ANIMALS ON THE LOOSE — RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! or words to that effect. Turns out that some … jerk, to put it mildly … had been keeping fifty or so lions, tigers, mountain lions, cheetahs, wolves, grizzly bears, black bears and monkeys, plus a giraffe, in tiny cages on his “wildlife preserve” west of Zanesville. And now, for whatever reason, he had chosen a dark, rainy evening to turn them all loose and then shoot himself. You saw all this as the top story on CNN, the BBC, et al., I’m sure.
The particular problem for us at that moment was that the “preserve” was just about 25 miles due east of us. That sounds like a long way away, but it’s all open, mostly flat country around here, and the authorities seemed a bit unclear as to exactly how long these animals had been loose — at least five or six hours at that point. Still, it seemed unlikely that they would make it this far, or it did until the news helpfully reported that there had been credible sightings in southern Licking County, about seven miles away.
So it’s a dark and stormy night, and we’re sitting in the proverbial isolated farmhouse, with lots of big windows and flimsy doors, surrounded by cornfields and our own woods backing up on a few hundred more acres of cornfields. I have already learned to be careful when I take the dogs out at night because the coyotes around here are numerous and aggressive. And there have been consistent and credible reports in recent years of large cats, probably escapees from just such private zoos, being spotted (and in one case photographed) in our area.
And now we apparently had a wave of ticked-off tigers, grizzlies and lions headed our way. What I wanted at that moment was a bunch of floodlights and an AK-47. What we had were two arthritic dogs, both largely deaf, and a whole lot of useless but no doubt tasty cats. Around 2 am it occurred to me that for any large and hungry carnivore downwind of us, our house would smell like a big box of food. And these critters were accustomed to being around (and fed by) people, so the natural shyness that keeps coyotes (mostly) at bay would be, as HR Haldeman would say, inoperable.
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Semper Ubi Sub Ubi
So True Blood has wrapped up for the season by killing off a few dozen characters. Couple of nameless vampire zombies in the Moon Goddess Emporium, Nan Flanigan (too bad), Lafayette’s boyfriend Jesus (really too bad), that werewolf guy with the bad hair (Marcus), Marnie for the second time, Debbie van Pelt (the only remotely normal person on the show, even though she was a werewolf) and then, big finish, Tara with a shotgun blast to the head. Whoa. Is Tara really dead? I bet not. You know who is dead? That guy who showed up to visit Terry. Nobody else seems to have picked up on that. But Russell Edgington, the Vampire King of Mississippi, is apparently coming back next year, so things are looking up. Russell Edgington is awesome. Incidentally, the annoying witch-groupie hippie guy gorily offed by Eric the first time they killed Marnie is now appearing in a MasterCard commercial playing a suburban dad with a kid in a shopping cart. Weird casting choice, given the popularity of True Blood.
Incidentally, speaking of commercials, our son (Michael Mercurio) appeared in a Tide Stain Stick commercial a few years ago. (He’s the soldier standing immediately stage left of the guy the drill sergeant is yelling at.) They recently started running it again, for which he gets paid again, which is cool. This commercial shows up on a lot of “my favorite commercial” lists, so they may be running it off and on for years.
Onward. So Borders Bookstores has bought the farm. It’s always sad to see bookstores close, but I was never a big fan of their aesthetic, a sort of crypto-hip we’re-not-really-a huge-corporation Whole-Foods-of-Books shtick. Not a Whole Foods fan here, by the way. It reminds me too much of food coops.
I have hated food coops since circa 1969. C’mon, I just wanna buy some bananas and go read a book, OK? I don’t want to go to a meeting, especially not with a bunch of weedy, whiny control freaks.
Elsewhere in the book biz, Barnes & Noble seems to be on the verge of being sold, or something, although most of the people interested in buying it are apparently just trying to get their grubby paws on the Nook. There have even been rumors that Apple is going to buy B&N, kill the Nook, and convert the stores into Apple Stores, or maybe Apple Book Stores. I think Apple should buy Amazon too, and shoot that godawful Kindle. Then run the B&N stores off the Amazon back-end.
When we lived on the Upper West Side, we referred sardonically to the giant B&N at 82nd Street and Broadway as “The Great Satan.” (After all, they did drive Meg Ryan’s little bookshop out of business, right? BTW, the store You’ve Got Mail used as the set for her shop actually sold, as I recall, over-priced pastries and insanely over-priced antiques.)
But in real life, Shakespeare & Company, a block south on B’way, was driven out of business by that evil B&N (although they retained branches in the Village and on the East Side, which is a funny way to be driven out of business). And Endicott Books across Columbus Avenue from us croaked when B&N moved into the neighborhood, but that’s because Endicott hired snotty idiots (favorite actual clerk quote: “Dylan Thomas biography? Have you looked in the music section?”) and shared a name with a chain of cheesy shoe stores. I liked Coliseum Books off Columbus Circle, but my absolute fave was The Strand. Nice to see they’re still around.
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