Lots of bleakness



& links

Nov. 6, 2022

Someone had been in the bathroom just before me. It's a shared house. Three guys, one toilet, so sometimes there's a stink. And even without seeing who'd shat there before me, there was zero doubt who it was. I could swear an oath and testify in court.

Robert eats almost nothing but fried potatoes, eggs, and vegetarian sausage; he usually cooks one helping for himself in the morning and another in the evening, and his afterpoop bouquet carries hints of breakfast, greasy but familiar.

Dean cooks and eats more esoterically, so his afterpoop smells of almost anything else — onions, chili peppers, the deeper musk of meats and sauces. There's simply no mistaking either scent for the other.

It was Robert. 

There's a new movie now playing, called Till, about the civil rights work of Emmett Till's mother, after her son was murdered by racist assholes in Mississippi. It might be a movie I'd be interested in, but what makes me hesitate is who's telling me I should see it.

First, my very Christian mother — who to my knowledge hasn't seen a movie in a theater since the 1960s — brought up Till, said she's going to see it, and invited me to see it with her, at a theater.

A week later, my very Christian brother Clay, who sees mostly 'Christian' movies with an occasional Marvel movie for fun, offered the same invitation. He even offered to drive.

Third in line, and most bizarre, an old semi-friend from my 20s emailed the same invitation to me. He's someone I've barely seen over the past 40 years, and all I know about his present life is that he's an elder of his church.

All this makes me pretty sure that Till is being actively promoted within Christian churches, as part of the movie's marketing plan. It will either have a come-to-Christ scene, or coming to Christ will be the underlying essence of the film.

Which removes all of my interest in ever seeing Till

The family breakfast yesterday drew a crowd — Mom and my sister Katrina, my nephew George and his wife, and my sister's friend, Adelle. We're all old and hard of hearing, so the conversations were loud, but it was a nice time, with only one weird moment.

First, some background: My brother Clay has two adult sons, who grew up over the many years I was away, so I don't really know them. When Mom shows me pictures, I'm still not sure which nephew is which, but one of them is married to an anti-vaxxer.

They're college graduates who believe in Jesus, but don't believe in science. They have two children, about 8 and 6, who are being home-schooled because they've never had shots.

The news from yesterday is, they've decided to adopt a third child. No agency will allow anti-vaxxers to adopt, so they're planning to move their whole family to South America, establish residency, and adopt a baby there.

"They were already nuts," I said, "and now they're going to be expatriate nuts." I asked if they're going to stay in South America and raise their family there, or are they hoping to come back to America after the adoption?

Mom wouldn't answer my question. I asked four times, and she was wearing her hearing aid, yet she changed the subject every time. I'm guessing that means they're not coming back, and she can't bear to see them leave.

I can bear it. Nothing about the anti-vax wing of the family doesn't make me want to retch, and whether they live in Seattle or Guyana, I have no need to know that woman or her husband. I don't hang out with the intentionally stupid.

After breakfast, all six of us went to Hazel's nursing home for a brief visit. Mom and Katrina try to visit Hazel monthly, but this was only the fourth time I'd been there, since returning to Seattle seven months ago.

When Hazel talks, it's hard to understand what she's saying. And I don't know what to say to her. Can't really ask what's new, because nothing's new — she's been in the nursing home for 40 years. And yesterday she was watching a Hallmark movie and didn't want to turn it off, so nobody said much until the commercials.

She's my sister, and I don't know her at all any more. Haven't known her since I was a kid, and I never will, because it's impossible to know her. 

Well, that was lots of bleakness, but here's a happy ending.
After breakfast with the family, and after visiting Hazel at the home, I came back to my recliner and had a lovely afternoon and evening watching old movies.

And now, the news you need,
whether you know it or not

Adobe products used by designers will no longer include thousands of colors made by Pantone

Rich and powerful fly private jets to sushi and caviar climate gabfest 

And it never stops, never stops, never stops...

Report shows Los Angeles Sheriff's Department wastes most of its time hassling minorities  

And it never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops...

Spokanites have been weirded out by non-official door-to-door "voter research" volunteers  

And it never stops, never stops, never stops...

Links I liked

What we can learn from fifty years of anti-abortion propaganda 

Caution: Long, and contains heavy thinking.

The Right thinks publishers have no right not to publish the Right 

Chess against the grandmasters 

Using a large database of all the recorded games played by seven grandmasters, the site's software inserts a given GM's next move at every point during your game. I've already lost badly to Naroditsky, twice, but I'm going to get that bastard next time.

Go inside the Great Pyramids of Giza 

It's cool indeed, but always I've wondered… where are the haphazard, disappointing, and less-than-great pyramids of Giza?

White Noise Generator 

Hanford turns its nuclear past into a tourist destination 

Alien hand syndrome 


♦ ♦ ♦

♫♬  Mix tape of my mind  ♫

• "Back in the Closet Again" by Lavender Country

• "Forever Young" by Rod Stewart

• "Proud Mary" by Creedence

♦ ♦ ♦

The End

Patrick Haggerty 

Paul Morantz 

Roz Wyman


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 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, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...


  1. Question: If God started shuffling a deck of cards at the big bang, creating a new order every second, how long would it take to shuffle all the cards?

    Question: Why is Rod Stewart singing "Forever Young", who cuts his hair, and why is he standing in front of a pre-War left-hand drive car holding a child?

    I know this comment isn't about movies, but I don't know much about them either. I assert that these two questions are cosmically identical. Kinda like the questions in "Blowin' in the Wind", except they're theoretically answerable. OK, maybe the hair question isn't, but doesn't a man deserve a mulligan on Sunday morning? Oh, shit, I forgot to set the clocks ahead. Or back. Fuckit, I'm not changing the clocks back. I want to be like those dumb shits in Arizona (except for the Navajo Nation [as they say]).

    Good morning.


    1. I must have been drunk this morning when I typed my comment, although I thought I stopped drinking sometime during the Clinton administration. Yes, the question is about God wearing one of those green visors that are fashionable in Nevada and shuffling a deck of 52 cards. Specifically, how long will it take to shuffle the deck in all possible sequential combinations? Maybe I was just sleepy because I hadn't figured out what to do with the clocks. Still haven't.


    2. Spring back, fall forward. I do. You can gain a little ground that way.


    3. I hadn't even glanced at the video, only listened, so I can't explain Rod's hair or child or hairy child.

      For years I worked with a guy named Terrie Stewart, and one afternoon his brother came to the office to pick him up. "This is my brother Rodney," said Terry, and I had to tell him, yes, I do think you're sexy.

      Another reliable source said "God does not play dice," so I assume God wouldn't play pee-knuckle or poker.

      I got one of those wacky atomic clocks on the wall that resets it self every spring and fall. I missed it this time, but once I stayed up to watch it change and it's very pass-the-acid. Both hands go backward at the same time until it reaches the correct time and time starts passing forward again.

    4. My brother, your ability to make time go backward coupled with your correct quotation of Einstein's response to the quantum mechanics boys (usually "with the Universe" is added, and it is both incorrect and inelegant) qualifies you to win a toaster that both ejects toast and fails to. You have to actually butter it to determine its existence.

      And can a god that does not exist not play dice?

      Thanks in any case for the thoughtful reply.


    5. Only if the dice doesn't exist either.

  2. Re: "What we can learn from fifty years of anti-abortion propaganda," I swore I'd never be the guy that went around the internet recommending podcasts, but Jon Ronson (whose documentaries I like) had one called "Things Fall Apart" with obscure little bits of history. I never finished listening as I'm not much of a podcast guy either but there was an early episode was called "1000 Dolls," about a young filmmaker named Frank Schaeffer whose father was a theologian that more or less introduced abortion as a wedge issue into evangelical churches (it had previously been an object of Catholic obsession, maybe similar in a way to how the Catholic view of birth control is now viewed by various Christian groups). I wasn't remotely familiar with this stuff and it was fascinating to see how this (literal) article of faith was almost nothing until they were stoked by deliberate propaganda.

    Frank Schaeffer has long since become an atheist and speaks out so nobody every forgets that it was his dumb little amateur film with a 1000 baby dolls that basically lead us to where we are now.

    1. I'd forgotten the name Frank Schaeffer, but his story is unforgettable. Yeah, the church never cared at all about abortion until the '70s as I recall, when Republicans launched their takeover of Christianity. I will seek out that podcast, thanks.

    2. I'd forgotten the name Jon Ronson. I read The Psychopath Test and some of his shorter pieces and followed him for a while a decade ago, but knowing how way leads onto way, I lost track of him. Thanks for mentioning the podcast. The computer with all the podcasts I followed crashed and burned, and I lost all my favorites and podcasts. I'll add Mr Ronson's name back to my recovery list. Thanks.


    3. Woah! Being The Podcast Guy was a good thing?!

      Ronson's output is so random, I also forget about him. I don't think I've ever read one of his books or seen one of his movies when they were new or even within 2 or 3 years of being made. Suddenly he just shows up with a podcast about pornography or a documentary about Stanley Kubrick's boxes. Would recommend both of those: "The Butterfly Effect" was originally behind a paywall and is free in most places now. Kubrick's Boxes is on Vimeo https://vimeo.com/322890808

    4. I've always been an audio guy; a little TV with dinner from time to time, but mostly music and talk on the airwaves and webwaves. More Vin Scully and less Fred Sanford. More Jean Shepherd and less Martin & Lewis. Yes, my references are dated -- why do you ask?

      The transistor came into wide use five or seven ears after I was born. Ten years after I was born I got my first transistor radio for Christmas. Too early for a headphone jack but I took it to bed every night and slept with it next to my pillow. Not much music until a couple of years before the Beatles, but plenty of talk, picking up Ira Blue on KGO from San Francisco on the skip up the coast and occasionally Scully from far off LA (perhaps from a more northern affiliate).

      So I'm steeped in audio, and at the beginning of the age of podcasts there was some pretty good non-commercial stuff zinging across the Web. Of course it went to hell, as all good things do -- I hope I never know what the fuck Stamps dot Com is or are. But the corruption of an enterprise doesn't mean it was bad stuff -- money changes everything.


    5. I do miss the transistor radio era. A radio, in a box the size of your hand, but we thought it was tiny and marvelous. Mine was under the pillow too, listening to rock'n'roll on KJR Seattle Channel 95, and Pilots baseball on KVI, and talk radio from wherever I could pull it in.

      KJR went all-sports, the Pilots went to Milwaukee, and talk radio went to hell when Rush Limbaugh and his right-wing loons took over the dial. I still like the concept of radio, and there was even a decent station when I lived in Wisconsin.

    6. I had a little silver transistor with a one-seded earphone when I was about 8-12. I used to listen to Phillies games, old time radio reruns, and the occasional Dr Ruth.

      Fast forward about 20 years, and 2500 miles to San Francisco. The radio at my work couldn't get the Giants games, so I bought the same fricking model of transistor, and started bringing it to work every day.

    7. Hadn't really thought of it before, but dammit, you're right and me too. Most radio today isn't worth hearing, but at least the old tech let you listen. Part of the reason I never listen to radio at home any more is because my current radio, and *every* radio I've bought since the 1990s, gets worse reception than the radios I listened to when I was 12. When I do listen to radio, it's on-line streaming.


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