It's only wasted money.

In late summer, when both my windows were open around the clock, lots of 'shield bugs' came in, and crawled and buzzed around in my room.

They're harmless, so we've co-existed. Sometimes, I'll get one to crawl onto a piece of paper, and release it into the wilds of the back porch. Other times I don't, because after all, they're just bugs.



& links

Oct. 29, 2022

Months later, there are far fewer of the shield bugs in my room, but once or twice daily I'll see one crawling on the wall, and I've come to understand their life cycle just a little.

They can fly, but with nowhere to fly to — now that my windows are closed for the winter — they rarely lift off. Flight seems to be their last recourse, as they're nearing death. A shield bug in flight is usually dying, doing circles around the lamp, then dropping to the carpet, dead, within a few hours.

My cat Izzy is fascinated by the bugs' one-at-a-time fatal orbit around the lamp, and sometimes I am, too. A shield bug is weirdly loud when it flies, so it's hard not to notice. Also, the lamp is beside my recliner, so their buzzing is basically in my ear, and sometimes a bug dies and falls into my lap.

This morning one of the shield bugs was doing the lamp loop-de-loop, and dropped onto the milk crate to my right, still alive and crawling. The cat had been watching it earlier, but now she was asleep in her milk crate/bed to my left, so I thought I'd offer the bug as a snack for Izzy.

Which isn't crazy or anything. I used to have cats that ate roaches.

So I put a piece of paper where the shield bug was walking, and it walked onto the paper like some domesticated bugs do. Then I shook it off the paper and onto the cat in her bed. The bug started walking on Izzy, and she woke up, but instead of eating the bug she jumped out of the milk crate, then turned around and sat on the floor, staring at the bug. For half an hour.

My cat refused to pounce and kill. She's a pacifist cat, and it makes me love her even more. In Izzy's honor, I scooped up the bug and set it free on the back porch, letting the cat have her bed back.

(click to enlarge)

I'm not going to write a rant or anything, but this wisecrack → from social media encapsulates one of the many things wrong with Christmas.

How's about, instead of giving everything to everyone, we give gifts to little kids, and enjoy watching their eyes light up. That ought to be enough, maybe more than enough, depending on how bratty the kid is.

95% of adults don't need or want 95% of the gifts they get. It's only wasted money, keeping the oligarches wealthy and ordinary people struggling.

I've switched to a healthier diet, full of moist veggies like cucumbers and tomatoes instead of hotcakes and hamburgers, but it hadn't popped into my mind to stop popping so many laxatives into my mouth.

And then someone was in the only bathroom in the house, and nothing could be delayed, and I couldn't find my emergency toilet, so I've just dropped a load into a garbage bag.

It's not the first time I've pooped in a plastic bag, and if I'm lucky it won't be the last, but it's the first time I've stopped to really think about existentially.

Plastic is forever, or close to it. A future archaeological dig at some present day dump will find my garbage bag from this morning, and open it, hoping to find a clue to 21st century life before climate change toppled western civilization.

What will those scientists find? Two long and two short turds, and several brown wet wipes. This is my immortality.

And will it still stink? I sure hope so.

I wrote the above a week ago, and since then my pilgrim's progress has been easy.

For ten years, I've taken daily laxatives, because I'm old, and my pipes are drying out. At least, that's what I thought. But it seems to have had more to do with what I was eating.

My diet has been almost entirely vegetarian since seeing the doctor, and I've stopped taking laxatives, but still the poops come easy. And pssst — if you eat a lot of carrots, your poop turns orange. How cool is that?

News you need,
whether you know it or not

Kentucky lawmaker speaks out about transgender son's suicide 

Indirectly, but just as sure as if they'd pulled the trigger, Henry Berg-Brousseau is another person killed by conservative terror.

Federal judge says San Francisco can’t clear homeless camps 

This is beautiful, the correct ruling, and I wholeheartedly approve.

Lawsuit puts studios at risk over deceptive movie trailers 

This is also beautiful, the correct ruling, and again I wholeheartedly approve.

West Point decides it's opposed to treason 

Jamie Raskin: electoral college is a "danger to the American people" 

'Unprecedented' number of water pipes break in Lexington 

And it never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, because climate change isn't 'coming', it's underway. It'll kill billions, and we're not doing squat about it.

Oakdale police officer charged with harassment, gets one month paid leave 

And it never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, because all cops are bastards, or they know who the bastard cops are and do nothing about it, which is the same thing.

Three buses of Central and South American migrants bused to the vice-president's home from Texas 

And it never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, because Republicans are the enemy of common sense, common decency, simple truth, and democracy.

(click to enlarge)

Mystery links
Like life itself, there's
no knowing where you're going




Clicks ahoy

• David Letterman didn't interview Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy viz Skype or Zoom. He went to Kiev, and talked to him in a subway station bomb shelter.

A media conglomerate the media rarely mentions: Liberty Media 

Dick Cavett takes a few questions 

• Jeez, I wish I'd written this:
Slow buses and a stranger 

Scientists propose method for detecting alien warp drive activity 

12 best ways to get cars out of cities – ranked by new research 

The mysteries of Ellery Queen 

Ronald Boll Weevil McDonald 

Clever Hans 

Uguisu no fun 

♫♬  Mix tape of my mind  ♫

Frank Mills — Hair 

I Melt with You — Modern English 

Lights Are Changing — Mary Lou Lord 

The Way You Look Tonight — MouseRat 

Where Do the Children Play? — Cat Stevens 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Dino Danelli 

Stephen Greif 

Franco Harris 

Mike Hodges 

Marijane Meaker 

Maggie Thrett


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.
Special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always extra special thanks to my lovely late Stephanie, who gave me 21 years and proved that the world isn't always shitty.


  1. I have never heard of "shield bugs." Those are universally called "stink bugs" here in PA. Our old dog used to eat one, then spit for 5 minutes because of the taste. They smell fucking bad.

    1. Maybe my cat just didn't like the smell?

      I don't doubt that they're called stink bugs. Never noticed any odor, though.

      There's been a corpse on my window sill for weeks, and you got me curious enough to take a whiff, but it doesn't smell like anything.

  2. Thank you for including "Frank MIlls", the best song from a very good musical (I've seen three road productions over the years, and I never tire of the music; I tire a little of the storyline, but not the music), and "Lights are Changing" by the radiant Mary Lou Lord. Kurt Cobain would be alive and annoying people had he stuck with Mary Lou. She's a terrific singer.


    1. I agree, I used to sing that song a lot, as well as all the other songs from Hair; in high school we sang the Air song at a variety show and self-censored the line "atomic orgasm." what weenies, well it was Indiana, sigh...E. Paradise
      Yes the emergency shit episodes, I have a few, this being the latest:
      I had to laugh as I quietly loaded my stuff while mother and daughter maybe slept in the other room. A few minutes earlier I had taken a shit on a newspaper in the bathroom, folded it up and put it in a plastic bag, then walked it across the street to the lake park where I placed it in a garbage can, hoping some poor recyclers didn't come across it.

    2. Greetings, my fellow emergency shitter. Luckily, the house has a dumpster out front, which is where my emergencies end up.

      John, is it the best song? Hmmm. I can't really speak to the storyline of Hair. Never saw the play, only the movie, and for the movie they jettisoned the plot, along with several songs. But it's still terrific.

      Frank Mills is one of the greats, in my opinion, but I would just like to say that it is my conviction that longer hair and other flamboyant affectations of appearance are nothing more than the male's emergence from his drab camouflage into the gaudy plumage which is the birthright of his sex.

      There is a peculiar notion that elegant plumage and fine feathers are improper for the male, when ac

      Tually, that is the way things are, in most species.

      That was instant recall, but I just doublechecked and it's pretty close.

      Whole lotta great music in that show.

    3. No such thing as the best song . . . only my favorite, and Shelley Plimpton of the original cast hit it out of the park. I think it worked because it was about a half tone above her range and she had to stretch. Congrats on getting the lyrics. Not sure I could come that close, but I know most of the songs fairly well. I was known so sing "On the Street Where You Live" loudly outside in my drinking days, but you just can't beat Hair. We live in a moving paper fantasy.


    4. Different show, of course, and a different song, but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before.

      On a spring evening ten miles and forty years from here, I sang that song while walking toward a girlfriend's house. Which is maybe sweet. But when I got there, I stupidly told her I'd been singing the song.

      I wasn't singing when I walked home.

    5. Oh my, I think the last time I sang On the Street Where You Live outside was in an alley behind a VFW hall on the east side of Tacoma. They had slightly overserved me at the VFW (I'm not, my former late father-in-law was). The VFW overserves by policy, and one or two drinks is enough. I was just finishing up People stop and stare, they don't bother me, For there's nowhere else on earth that I would rather be when I started puking into the vicinity of a couple of old garbage cans, embarrassing my future ex-wife, and her mother, and, likely myself. It only took me 20 more years to figure out that maybe I should stop drinking.

      The melody is in a narrow range, perhaps five or six notes if you cheat just a little, and somebody with a junk singing voice like me can fake it in an acoustically accommodating brick and stone alley.

      Memories, they come tumbling.


    6. Glad you defeated the demon and continued your back-alley singing career. Better the memories tumble than the man.

      "Bother me" doesn't really rhyme with "rather be," though. How did they get away with that?

    7. They're British. It rhymes just right there.


    8. Jolly right, mate!

    9. And Rex Harrison, who could hardly sing a note, did a terrific job as Henry Higgins. It's always dangerous for me to comment on a movie, but I thought he was great.


    10. Harrison was a great musical talker, also in Doctor Dolittle. I loved him & the songs & the entire My Fair Lady, but the last time I saw it (at the glorious Stanford Theater in Palo Alto) I was seriously startled at how sexist it seemed. The men are *awful* to Eliza, and then that last scene...

    11. Of course that's the problem with viewing old movies and reading old books. The language hasn't changed a great deal but there have been a few cultural revolutions. Check out the first Jack Benny television show against the last. In the first, Rochester is saying, "Yes, Mr Benny." In the last, Rochester is still driving the nice car, but it turns out that it's his car and he's giving Benny a lift home. Fifteen years made all the difference and Jack Benny and his writers were cool enough to note the change.

      So when I see The Maltese Falcon, or some other movie/book of its time, it seems offkey. I have to look at it through my special cultural adjustment glasses.


    12. Jack Benny was from before my time, and I never caught up. I'm aware enough of Rochester that even the clips I've heard and seen made me uncomfy, but I'd never heard that his show did that with the last episode — graduating Rochester to the status of full human. I am genuinely impressed.

      A little surprised, too, that Benny's show lasted into the 1960s. As often you do, you got me curious, so I did some googling, and ended up at this article I'm glad I read, about Benny and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson.

    13. I need to brush up on my factchecking. The incident with the fancy car that belonged to Rochester was in a Benny special after his regular show ended. However, my dad was a fan, so we always watched the Benny show, and I remember particularly in the last couple of years Rochester was treated as an equal and as a special friend to Benny.

      Jack Benny was a decent man, and was well ahead of his time in his public and private behavior regarding Race in America.


    14. Only on someplace pedantic like Reddit would anyone quibble about the difference between the last episode of Jack Benny's show and a TV special a few years later. You got the gist right, that's enough.

      I've heard some Jacks from his radio era, and they're funny. Old time radio is fun, but I prefer the dramas. Comedy dies quicker, I think.

    15. Comedy dies quicker, but is almost always more revealing about the times in which it is written and performed. What makes us laugh and what challenges us to think are more informative about social mores and conventions than a drama can portray.

      Rochester calling Benny "blue eyes" in 1968 wouldn't work so well in an era when people actually have to be reminded that Black lives matter.

      Homicide: Life on the Street (a drama and an exception) deals with institutional and personal racism often and directly. In a majority-Black city (DC is 50/50, Baltimore is over 60% Black [only Detroit among America's large city has a larger Black population]) if you don't deal with racism you might as well just film in Hollywood.

      Its followup, The Wire, also deals up front and directly with all facets of racism. It's hard to remember a television show with more talent than The Wire, in writing, directing and acting. It didn't end as strongly as it started, but it was compelling drama all the way to the end.


    16. Maybe other shows had used the episodic form as well as the first season of The Wire, but I'd never seen it. To me, it's gotta be on the very short list of the best commercial TV ever produced.

      The second season didn't do it for me, and I drifted away after a few episodes. My wife, home and disabled, had lots of time on her hands, and watched every ep, every season. She vouches for your report. Said every season was a little less than the season before, but that it was always good.

      We were also kind of impressed with The Shield.

      Radio comedies have just never done much for me, but I do love the old screwball comedies from Hollywood, so I guess it's not the age that keeps me from laughing.

      Which reminds me, I need to rewatch the screwball comedies.

    17. Oh, my brother, you missed Omar. One of the great characters to ever appear on any television show. Just watching Omar shake an empty cereal box, then realize he would need to go to the store to buy more cereal, then realized that his shotgun wouldn't fit in his bathrobe, then going out the door and to the bodega unarmed. No dialog, just Omar, and it shouted.


    18. And you missed the Fuck scene, in which Wendell Pierce and another actor are going over a crimescene for about seven minutes, and the only word either of them uses is "fuck". Noun, verb, adjective, interjection, ejaculation. It's television as it could be but so rarely is that we forget the possibilities.


    19. For about ten confused seconds, I thought you were still talking about The Jack Benny Program." I was seeing Benny and Rochester saying nothing but "Fuck."

      Omar was in the first season too, the season I watched. Yeah, one of The Wire's more memorable characters.

  3. I've fallen behind here and just seeing this today. The Mary Lou Lord song "Lights are Changing" was written by Nick Salamon, who's been recording and performing under the name The Bevis Frond since the mid 1980s. His music is extremely '60s influenced, often evoking a mix of the Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, Quicksilver while cranking up the volume to Dinosaur Jr. levels and playing extended guitar solos that J Mascis often attempts on his records.

    Mary Lou Lord has frequently covered Saloman's songs and collaborated with him many times over the years.

    Here is the Bevis Frond version of Lights are Changing.


    Here's a live version of one of my favorite Bevis Frond tunes: Stain on the Sun


    And the studio version of Stain on the Sun in case the live version doesn't convey the full beauty of the song


    Cheers, Arden

    1. This is really good stuff, and right up my auditory canal. I love that spacey '60s sound — thanks! Planning to spend some time with The Bevis Frond.


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