Poop and television

Found some paragraphs I remember writing, but don't think were ever published, so here ya go. If I'm wrong and any of the following is a rerun, oh well & oops.

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May 5, 2022

I don't know if it's all of Seattle or just my semi-scummy neighborhood, but same as 35 years ago, there are still signs that say, "Drug-free zone," where a high school is nearby. 

Unless things have changed a lot recently, no high school in America is a drug-free zone. And here in Washington, marijuana is all-the-way legal — cannabis shops in every neighborhood, billboards saying turn left at the next intersection for the best pot — and still we have "drug-free zones"?

One morning a week or so ago, one of my flatmates was taking a long and certainly needed shower while I increasingly needed to poop. Unlike life in a rez hotel, the shower and toilet are in the same room, and there's only one.

Poop waits for no man. When it demanded its release and began its great escape, I pulled out my $20 spare toilet — a large plastic bucket with a toilet seat on top. There was barely enough time to secure a plastic bag under the seat.

When I finished my business, closed the lid, and emerged from my room, of course the bathroom was no longer occupied. I showered, got dressed, went about my day, then went about my week, completely forgetting there was a bucket of feces in my room. It's a high-quality product, seals so tight no odors can escape.

Thursday is trash day, so this morning I opened it, and wow the stink smacked me in the face. Tied up the plastic bag, no drips, no accidents, and took it to the dumpster. Twenty minutes later, I've opened two windows and the room still smells like backstage at the circus.

Who knew shit stinks?

Speaking of bowel movements, I had a very nice poop this morning. You'll forgive me for bragging, but at my age, some days it's a brick, some days it's like applesauce, and some days nothing happens at all.

This morning, though, it came in tidy, rounded chunks, dropped with almost no effort, and I didn't return in three minutes to push out some more. Nice grouping, too, in a cluster bouquet, with an appealing color, no corn and no blood and no remnants on the seat. It was an old man's dream of a poop, followed by a clean wipe and a flush that didn't overflow. Occasionally, life is good.

"Theology is the study, in great detail and minutia, of things that don't exist." —me

Give me a magazine like The New Yorker, please, with excellent prose on interesting topics, but focused on ordinary people instead of highbrow celebrity worship. The New Yorker has great writing, certainly, but week after week every person they write about is at least highly successful, most likely rich and famous — never anybody who's anything like anyone you've ever known.


Ten minutes later, my windows are open for air, but I can still smell my poop from last weekend.


There are lots of little annoyances in this boarding house. More of the floorboards squeak than don't. The toilet must be flushed midway through a poop, or plungered afterwards. The front doorjamb swells up when it rains, so the door doesn't latch or even close until the sun comes out again. When the sun does come out, it rises through the window into my bedroom, and right into my eyeballs. 

It's an exaggeration and a bad joke when people say their smoke detector is so sensitive it goes off when you make toast, but it's true here. And it's only for me. My low-calorie bread must have a different chemical composition than my flatmates' bread — when Robert makes toast, or Dean, or L, there's toast with no problem. When I make toast, the smoke alarm blares when the toast is barely tan.

Those are some of the little annoyances, and there's a big annoyance, too — Garlic Dean, the guy who always talks to me in the kitchen.

There's one annoyance missing, though, and I'm so thankful it's not here that every other annoyance seems trivial.

When you walk in the front door of this house, there's an almost ordinary living room, with a couch and an easy chair. It must be required by law in boarding houses, because the landlord is cheap, and if a living room wasn't required, I'm sure he'd turn it into another bedroom and rent it out.

Just a couch and an easy chair, so you know what's not there? A television set. Dean and Robert and L and I, we all have our own screens in our own rooms. My screen is this computer I'm typing on, not a TV.

Imagine, a living room without a TV.

It's America, it's Earth, so I'm sure everyone reading this has a TV in their living room, and watches it often or always. I'm the freak for not having one, so I'll try not to get all sanctimonious and tell you to drop your TV into the dumpster

But you know what? Drop your TV into the dumpster.

(Didn't say I'd try very hard.)

I got rid of my TV several years ago, and it's amazing how much I haven't missed it. What's maybe more amazing is, if you go without TV for a few years, then even a few weeks in a house with a TV is a mindblowing experience, and not in a good way.

Without a place of my own when I drove back to Seattle, I stayed with my sister and Mom for a couple of weeks, and there's a TV in their living room — usually on, usually too loud, and like any TV anywhere, always too stupid. Nothing against my sister, nothing even against my mom, thanks for letting me stay there, ladies — but the TV is a monstrous, perpetual intrusion into everyone's life who has one, whether they know it or not.

The programs are (almost?) universally stupid, the news is the opposite of news, and all of it on every channel has been designed by despicable people to reinforce their warped ideas of what 'normal' should be. In TV-world, 'normal' people are married with children and jobs and nothing but 'normal' thoughts in their heads. 

Coming home to this boarding house, I love not having to walk through a TV-room. Beautiful people don't tell me the weather forecast and who won last night's game, stale jokes aren't accompanied by hysterical laughter, nobody bellows bullshit about news and politics, no men in suits deliver panicked play-by-play, and I'm not bombarded with ads for more and more stupid shows that must be watched.

For your own sake, turn it off and live your life instead. Read a book. Talk to someone you love. Do something creative. Do something that isn't 'normal'.

Well, shitfuck I'm sorry. When I started writing this, I didn't expect to become Craig T Nelson in the last scene from Poltergeist.

Have I become my mom? She talks about God all the time, and how she's worried for my immortal soul because I don't believe. I talk about turning the TV off, and we're both talking to people who don't want to hear it.

So I'll close by quoting my mother, who's quoting her god: "Ignore my warnings, at your own peril."

And now, my internet history from this morning…  

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IBM's asshole test 

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As the US Supreme Court moves to end abortion, is America still a free country? 

Supercut of radical activist MAGA judges lying about Roe v. Wade position in front of Congress 

Next battle over access to abortion will focus on pills 

Democrats respond to end of Roe v. Wade by reaffirming support for anti-abortion House candidate 

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If The Simpsons has taught us anything, it's to never trust a monorail. 

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


Cranky Old Fart 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, Meme City, 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. I also don't want to get all sanctimonious about TV. But I'm gonna anyway.

    I have been a TV person all my life. It was always on in the background. My ex-wife insisted on NO TV in the bedroom, which was a great idea, and I will always adhere to that. My sweetie of 9 years doesn't like TV at all. We own one, but it was originally intended as a football-viewing portal for her and to a lesser extent, me, before she decided to boycott NFL over Kaepernick and CTE. I also have used it as a video game machine, though I usually play on my laptop. We don't actively subscribe to any streaming services.

    When I'm in a hotel, I turn on the TV just to see what's on, and it's legit insulting. "Broadcast" TV is the worst thing ever. The ads are offensively awful. The content is awful. I can't believe I used to enjoy it.

    1. It's almost literally hypnotic, but you can't really see it until you escape the trance.


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