Not-quite connecting with another human

Borrowed from Bukowski:

we are afraid.  

Feb 28, 2022

our educational system tells us
that we can all be
big-ass winners.

it hasn't told us
about the gutters
or the suicides.

or the terror of one person
aching in one place

unspoken to

watering a plant.

The terror of one person, aching in one place, alone... lately there's some of that. I am sleeping shitty and barely, sometimes full of worries about moving.

Any of a thousand things could go wrong between this place and that place — Seattle, my destination.

Something as simple as breaking my arm could monkeywrench everything. Crack, and I wouldn't be able to carry boxes.

I'm hoping to drive my car to Seattle, but that's 2,000 miles and the car is twenty years old.

And if the Chevy gets over the mountains, who's gonna hire a man this old and impatient and disheveled?

We are afraid, and by we I mean me.

In six decades on this fading planet, plenty has gone wrong, but with only rare exceptions I've survived. Between being white and being lucky, things have usually worked out, long as I've kept my goals pathetically tiny.

Today, like yesterday, my goal is to make tiny progress shoveling the mess of this apartment into the trash, or into boxes marked for the next chapter. The living room is mostly empty now...

So I fill the dumpster, and pack a few boxes, and always there's more. For a break before being broken, I Google-visit the destination, remembering something cool — a shop, a theater, a restaurant, maybe a friend. It's been thirty years, though, so most of them are gone, RIP.

A few still exist… 

Hamburgers at Dick's

Grand Illusion Cinema — a tiny, artsy movie theater where they care about movies, and where I first saw Grand Illusion.

Scarecrow Video — I rented VHS videos there all those years ago, and now it's the city's last video store, and America's largest, and I'm gonna get my card back.

For further breaks from all the work of packing, I email my brothers, my sister, my long-ago friends who aren't dead. We have brief, jokey conversations, but mostly they don't get the jokes. It's the reliable joy of not-quite connecting with another human.

Yesterday I yakked on the phone for an hour-and-a-half with my mom, not-connecting much. It brightened my spirits, because every moment of it was so very mom-ishly bizarre. She's excited and delighted to almost have me back, and asks the same questions over and over — 

• When are you getting here?

• Do you remember when you vomited on the school bus when you were nine?

• Why were you missing for eleven years? 

• When are you getting here?

She repeats the questions because she's forgotten she's already asked. I'm old and forgetful, she's older and more forgetful, so I can't fault her for asking the questions I answered five minutes ago. I'll try to remember that.

Unless a better offer comes along, I'll be staying with my mom and my sister (they live together!) when I get to Seattle, sleeping on their couch for as long as it takes to find a hovel of my own to call home. It'll be like a sit-com, but will it be a good sit-com, or According to Jim? Stay tuned.

♦ ♦ ♦

3½ years after she died, I've plopped my wife's $15,000 prosthetic leg into the dumpster. It's never looked better. 

♦ ♦ ♦

We'll start with two headlines from America's heartless heartland: Oklahoma.

Attorney general’s office reviewing 54 school library books for alleged obscenity

The Oklahoma Attorney General's office is reviewing dozens of school library books to determine if they violate state law on obscene materials. A spokeswoman for Attorney General John O'Connor confirmed Tuesday that his office is reviewing 54 books after the state's top prosecutor received complaints from "several concerned individuals" about the titles. 

The article helpfully provides a list, if you'd like to be sure you're reading like a Republican.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Democratic U.S. House candidate in Oklahoma apologizes after middle-school sleepover 

Abby Broyles, Democrat running for Congress, is 32 years old, but she went to a slumber party for 12-year-olds, where she got drunk, insulted one of the kids, and brought the whole party down. She's apologized, but still, the Democratic Party should find a better candidate.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Some records taken by Trump are so sensitive they may not be described in public 

Some of the presidential records recovered from former president Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago are so sensitive they may not be able to be described in forthcoming inventory reports in an unclassified way, two people familiar with the matter said Friday.

Trump is a criminal, of course, part of an ongoing crime wave that'll almost certainly go unpunished.

That said, government should have few secrets, and any secret that's so secret it cannot be spoken — like Voldemort? — is a secret that ought to be broadcast to all the world. 

♦ ♦ ♦  

"That is fraud." GOP registered more than 100 voters as Republicans without their consent 

Another part of the ongoing crime wave that'll almost certainly go unpunished.

♦ ♦ ♦

One hundred years ago, the Mississippi state Senate voted to evict the state’s Black residents — the majority of its total population — not just out of Mississippi, but out of the country.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Top librarian for Kansas City suburban system quits, cites anti-gay trustees 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

"Stand your ground" laws have increased murders by 8-11% 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Texas Governor Abbott ordered price gouging during last year's big freeze 

♦ ♦ ♦

Hard-hitting investigative journalism about a famous pair of dentures 

♦ ♦ ♦

One-word newscast, because it's the same news every time...


♦ ♦ ♦

 Mystery links  — Like life itself, there’s no knowing where you’re going:


♦ ♦ ♦
♫♬  Sing along with Doug

Cranky Old Man is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to All Hat No Cattle, Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S., and always Stephanie...


  1. You are not the first to move across the country.

  2. I'm the first one who's me in my 60s and alone.

    Several times I packed up and jumped cities alone and with no plan in my 30s, young and dumb and close to unaware of the risks. Then I was married for twenty years and got soft, and since the gout, I'm more aware of the risks.

  3. I'm slightly older than Doug and I'd be scared shitless. The shit is mitigated by the fact that he is going home, but I can assure you that, except for a needle in the sky, some ferry boats and a couple of aging hookers, it's a very different place than the one he left decades ago.

    It was a small town with loud hydroplanes. Now the hydroplanes don't make any noise. Progress often moves us backward together.

    Going home . . .



    1. Wow, that music. Played it on a loop for half an hour. Googling tells me it's from the soundtrack of Local Hero, a movie I liked years ago, but all the critics told me I should've *loved* it. Sure love that tune, though.

      Thanks for understanding. I'm twice the age I was when I said fuck it and left Seattle. No regrets about it, but it's a whole diff thing doing it as a young buck or an old fart. Scared shitless? Yeah, that's me.

      Never saw the allure of hydroplane racing, even after attending at the urging/behest of friends/family. Did you ever attend? From the shore it's just noise on the water; you can't even tell who's ahead or where the 'track' is.

    2. I liked the movie, but it didn't quite work. I watched it twice and what stayed with me is the soundtrack. The best hire the producers made was Mark Knopfler doing the music. It actually holds the movie together.

      I attended the races only once, in my teenage years, but it was fun to watch on TV. I was a fan for a day a year, and I really liked the idea of the people living on the lake in luxury getting pissed off by those old Allison airplane engines in the boats.

      Everything is more scary over 60, and more still over 70. I have found the best way to process the fear is to acknowledge it, then take everything nice and slow. I rarely get on a freeway these days. I take the long way to avoid crazy freeway driving. And in groceries and other places of commerce I'm not a wussie, but I'm entirely unafraid to ask for help. Three back surgeries have made me four inches shorter and I regularly ask other customers in stores to reach top shelf items for me. I've never had a negative experience doing that. Everybody seems very happy to help.

      I lost a couple comments about A Perfect Day this morning and I finally gave up. I assume you know what the song is about. It's a pretty ballsy song to sing.

      Ramble, ramble.


    3. I didn't mean to touch a nerve

    4. Local Hero was a bit fairy tale. Rural life is grand, corporations are bad, but then come the end maybe corporations aren't so bad because Burt Lancaster plays the CEO, and he's not going to play a bad guy unless he turns out to have a heart of gold. That said, I saw it 40 years ago and 40 years ago I used to be a jerk. I'm a jerk now, too, but also used to be.

      • In Wisconsin, we're big on tailgate parties ("we" being the state, not me). To truly enjoy the football/basketball/volleyball.whatever game, you have to show up two hours early and boil some brats and drink some beer and hang out in the parking lot with everyone else. I did it once, and failed to see the allure. Likewise I went to one hydroplane race, and it was the same vibe only without the asphalt. Hang out on the lawn in a huge crowd of strangers, all day, while loud boats go spinning past.

      • That's the old age thing. You describe it better than I did. You get to be tough for maybe 40 or 50 years, but you start getting brittle and gotta acknowledge it. Everything about me and my life is brittle, and if anything cracks in Wisconsin or on the road to Seattle, I got nobody to help. That gets scary, and I would definitely reach for whatever's on the top shelf for you. I need to ask for help getting what's on the bottom shelf.

      • Drugs, I assume, because it's Lou Reed and it's sad. Being not so big on drugs, I choose my own interpretation, and for me it's about my wife. What the hell Susan Boyle's version is about, I don't know.

    5. Guano, your humble and sincere apology is accepted.

    6. Dammit, is that Boyle woman doing smack again?

      I can't believe she covered A Perfect Day. I think that's hilarious.


  4. Doug, I know you're busy packing and shoveling. You don't have to respond to anything I write. At the moment, I like writing here so I do.

    Yeah, with regard to Lou just replace every "you" with "heroin" and it makes perfect sense for a perfect day if you're a junkie. And, of course, You're going to reap just what you sow.

    Local Hero is highly imperfect in an aspirational way. Bill Forsyth was both screenwriter and director; my understanding is that he couldn't raise the money in Scotland to make the film he wanted. By attaching Burt Lancaster to the project (Burt demanded 2 mil a picture at the time) he was actually able to raise some American money to fill out his budget.

    But then he had to go back to the script and create a larger role for Burt, which fucked up the fairy tale more than a little. (In my world, "fairy tale" is not pejorative).

    In some ways, the movie is about how he did that, and how we all compromise a little to get what we think we need. In the last scene, Mac is in his luxury apartment in Houston and discovers all the expensive gadgets and gizmos and sweeping urban views aren't worth as much as the shells and sand he brought back from Scotland in his pocket. And then the phone on the dock rings. Fade to black and Mr. Knopfler.

    This isn't the story that Forsyth tells now, but I saw an interview with him contemporaneous with the release of the film, and that was his story then.

    When the director of what is essentially an independent movie is also the screenwriter, the movie is likely to be, at least a little, about the making of the movie. It was nearly two years in Forsyth's life. You have Burt fucking Lancaster at your disposal, so count the screentime in minutes that Burt is furthering the story. It can't be more than 15, likely closer to ten. Burt WAS the evil American corporation (beside being a competent actor).

    I'm obviously not a movie reviewer, and not anything like the movie fan you are, but the fact that I don't keep a lot of media around and still have both a VHS and DVD of Local Hero indicates it meant something to me at one time.

    And the film has a rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes if that means anything. (The Thin Man has only 98% and it's close to a perfect movie; I think the 2% is a cry for help).


    1. I'm screwed up in the head a hundred ways, but lucky as fucky to have had minimal urges for mind-altering substances. Maybe it's from reading and watching too much science fiction, but I *really* don't want anything messing with my mind. Hell, I haven't even had a pot edible in a month. Just way too much cheap frozen Chinese food. That's my perfect day. Can't even imagine doing heroin.

      That's an interesting backstory on Local Hero, thanks. Nothing against a good fairy tale. My whole life is a fairy tale, really. Paid to see Local Hero twice when it came out but never since, and now you have me thinking about maybe one more peek.

      Your point that "Burt Lancaster WAS the evil American corporation" in the movie made me smile and stare at the wall for a long moment. Sweetly done. Very Roger Ebert, and I loved Roger Ebert. Lancaster, not so much love. He's my least favorite movie star of his era. Tell me I'm wrong, but he always seemed to be 'act-ing', like he was Hamlet on stage in London, instead of giving the role what it needed. He overplayed his small role in Field of Dreams, too. Dude could never crank a performance down.


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