The executive chef

My flatmate Dean and I haven't spoken yet this year, which is glorious. Things aren't quiet, though because even when he's not talking to me, he's tends to be talking.



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Jan. 10, 2023

In my bedroom I can hear everything that happens in the kitchen, and he likes to cook, so he's in the kitchen a lot. And talking. Sometimes he's talking to Robert, my other flatmate. Other times he's talking on the phone.

Dean's conversations with Robert last about an hour, every time, sometimes longer. Phone calls, half an hour, at least. And he says the same things, both times. He does most of the talking, usually about cooking, and these three things keep coming up over and over:

• "I only work three days a week, and that's the way I like it." Around this, spring myriad stories of how the restaurant wanted him to work a fourth day one week, and he did, and how the restaurant wanted him to work a fourth day a different week, and he didn't, and how much they appreciated it when he did, and how much the place fell apart when he didn't.

• Whatever he cooked yesterday, and the day before, and how everyone loved it, and what he's planning to cook tomorrow, and next week, and how he knows everyone will love it. 

• In his cooking stories, the words "executive chef" keep popping out from the babble — the executive chef said this, the executive chef wants that, and always, the executive chef really liked [whatever Dean prepped yesterday]. Dean is seriously crushing on the executive chef.

It is mighty tiresome hearing these conversations through the wall once or twice daily, but it's a thousand times better than hearing it in person, without the wall.

When I was writing Pathetic Life in the '90s, it scored me some dames. Zines been very very good to me. Never expected it, but my oh my, what a fringe benefit.

Of course, my beloved wife Stephanie was first drawn to me from my writing, and she's by far the best thing that's ever happened to me. And before Steph, there was Sarah-Katherine, who I've mentioned a few times, and at least one more woman whose name I've forgotten. Sorry about that. Forgetting her name is kinda scummy, but I have limited RAM remaining. 

Well, I'm writing again, and have been for about three years now. So where are my groupies, dang it? 

My sister unknowingly exposed me to COVID at breakfast on Saturday. CDC says I'm supposed to quarantine for ten days. I might, but also might not.

I dearly love being a homebody and hermit, but once I a while I need to get out of the house. It's been three days and I am itching for a bus ride — a bit of time being nominally part of the world, instead of watching movies and surfing the web.

Yeah, there's no way I'm going to make it ten days behind the door in my bedroom. Sorry if that makes me a horrible human, but I was already a horrible human.

I've told my flatmates I was exposed, and when I come out of my room I'm masked in the kitchen. And when I bust outta here, I wouldn't go to the restaurant, because I'd have to unmask.

On the bus, though, I wear a mask and sit as far as feasible from anyone else. Even on the sidewalk I'm masked by habit, and everyone who's not an idiot has been vaccinated, so I'm planning a slight excursion tonight or tomorrow.

Probably tomorrow. The view out the windows of the bus is better by daylight.

News you need,
whether you know it or not

Seattle School District sues social media firms over youth mental health crisis 

Seems like a long shot, but I'm intrigued. 

Decades late, the FCC might start cracking down on terrible telecom prison monopolies. Maybe. 

Climate change could cause "disaster" in the world's oceans, say UC Irvine scientists 

Economic losses from hurricanes become too big to be offset by the US if warming continues 

• Fungi that cause serious lung infections are now found throughout the U.S. 

Global pollinator losses causing 500,000 early deaths a year – study 

Single-use plastic cutlery and plates to be banned in England 

Appeals court hands immunity to TSA agents who forced man to delete his recording of them 

His video sparked a probe into police misconduct. Then the traffic stops started. 

"I begged them not to shoot him," she said.

George Santos flashes "white power" sign during Speaker vote 

• There was a punk show on BART Friday night 

As long as the bands avoid rush hour this seems like a great idea. Transit ridership is still down from the pandemic, it ought to sell some train tickets, expose the bands to new audiences, and anyone who hates the music can walk to the next car. No downside, all upside — so of course, BART shut it down.

NASA discovers precious gemstones on Mars 

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




Clicks ahoy

Goddard College: the history of a self-sufficient, anti-fascist institution 

First college I've head of where I would've been happy to attend.

Did anti-vaxxer deaths from COVID swing elections? 

How Stokely Carmichael helped inspire the creation of C-Span 

Everything you didn't know about The Shining 

Getting to know your nuclear bombmakers 

No parking in the bus lane, please.

Hydra: The Greek island that banned wheels 

Weasel war dance 

♫♬  Mix tape of my mind  ♫

All I Think About Is You — Harry Nilsson 

I Drove All Night — Cyndi Lauper 

Mah Na Mah Na — Piero Umiliani 

Run Through the Jungle — Creedence Clearwater Revival 

Wooden Ships — Crosby Stills & Nash 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Frank Galati 

Bernard Kalb 

• Joyce Meskis 

That's a fine obituary for Ms Meskis, not to be missed. She sold my zine in her store, and we traded a few notes, but I never knew she was as cool as she was.

Adam Rich 

Fay Weldon


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 also my e-wife through my zine, and before that, *alllmost* had a thing with another person through the zine, but it never came to fruition. I truly have no idea where I'd be or who I'd know, if not for zines. Picking up that first random Factsheet Five in college was pretty pivotal.

    1. That says "e-wife." I meant "ex-wife." "E-wife" is just weird.

    2. Did you know then that zines were the thing that changed everything in your life? Closest I came to knowing it was thinking things were going OK.

      It's only decades later that I can see. That was when everything stopped sucking quite so much.

  2. That Hillary quote is what cost her the election. As soon as I heard that, I knew she was going to lose. And I'm glad she lost. I just wish Trump had lost as well. Maybe we need to go four years without a president to see how meaningless a figure they are, then we can work our way down the ladder, eliminating each position as we go, until we find the real humans.

    1. I was never a fan of either Clinton. They're part of a long line of ditherers whose policies amount to, "Oh, my" and a bit of dithering at the edges of the problems, adding up to either Jack Shit or Not Much.

      Her crack about the deplorables is the closest she's come to saying something I agree with, though as usual, she was off the mark — only half of Trump's supporters are deplorable?

    2. President Jack Shit and Vice-President Not Much would get my vote, and probably do better than anyone who has occupied the office in the last 75 years

    3. Institutionally, the Democratic Party does not want things to change. If they wanted change, they'd give us different and better candidates — and they'd win many, many more elections.

    4. Since the adoption of the "McGovern Rules" (created by the McGovern–Fraser Commission, first used in 1972), the Democratic candidate is chosen by open primaries in all states. The Democrats don't "give" anybody candidates: they are chosen in open primaries. I've worked for Democratic candidates in three elections (one of the three was nominated). The Democratic establishment is like any other establishment: they are conservative in that they don't want things to change, but they are bound by party rules to nominate the candidate who accrues the most primary votes. Thus, in 2008, the Democratic Party preferred Ms Clinton, but Obama beat her in the primaries. The last year I worked in politics (2004) I took a three month unpaid leave from work and campaigned seven days a week. My candidate lost, but at least I tried.


    5. Sorry to interrupt the zine talk. There was nowhere else to reply. The Googs are thrifty with their reply opportunities.


    6. The Democratic Party establishment, who are basically old-school Republicans, keep their fingers on the scale all through the election process. When an actual progressive wins, it's always against all odds and against the party's preference.

    7. And Satan is bipartisan.

    8. I don't understand your point, my brother. "Finger on the scales" is a nice phrase, but an example would be helpful. I know who you're talking about: I fought them every step of the way in 2005. I still have scars. But the votes my candidate received counted the same as the votes the other six candidates received. The candidate who won the nomination had been arrested multiple times for opposing the war in Vietnam. I've been to local, county, and state Democratic conventions, and the candidate who got the most Washington State delegates in every case was the candidate who got the most votes in the primary. The Democratic Party isn't as progressive as you are, nor as I am, but if you're not satisfied with a plebiscite as a way to determine who wins delegates, what system would you prefer?


    9. This is what was in my head as I typed about fingers on the scale. It's the only time to my recollection that such shenanigans have made it into the media, but that's only because they're usually not so sloppy about it as they were in 2016. When the party itself and all its most prominent names are tilted toward the 'centrist' (right-wing) candidate, which is always, the primaries aren't a fair fight.

    10. The problem with 2016 is 2008. Ms Clinton was running against Senator Obama and Senator Edwards (and a couple others), and was the favorite of the Democratic establishment. Under the McGovern Rules, Senator Obama won Iowa and went on from there to win enough delegates to gain the nomination. The strong belief in top circles of the Democratic Party was that a Black senator who had served for three years wasn't a very good candidate.

      I'm aware that in 2016 Ms Clinton again got help from the national Democrats, but in this election documentation of the help was discovered. I admire Bernie and agree with him, but I doubt he could win an election outside the northeast. If you think that Democrats are just Republicans in disguise you must have loved the Trump administration.

      With Obama we got the first reform of national medical care in 50 years and a recovery from the financial crisis of 2008. Of course it's not an even playing field. In what country in the world is their an even playing field for national leaders? In my lifetime, we've gotten from the Democrats an end to racial segregation in the military and in housing, essentially free health care for citizens over 65, substantially subsidized health care for the poor, aid to poor families with children, voting rights for all citizens of age, an end to most discrimination in private business, free legal services for any poor person charged with a serious crime, laws regulating water and air pollution, and hundreds of improvements in national infrastructure. I detect a difference.

      My candidates are rarely nominated and that sucks for me, but that's the nature of a democratic republic. On balance, Democratic Presidents have done more to help those who need help (e.g., via tax laws) than Republican Presidents. I can tell the difference.


    11. I thought nominating Obama in 2008 was a sacrifice bunt, an entire election wasted. He was still a rookie in the Senate, but mostly and most obviously, he was black, and there is no way that a black man could win on the national ticket, losing all of the forever racist South. So there's my political expertise.

      The nominating rules are whatever they are, always subject to rejiggering, Are they fair? Hell if I know. Never read the rules. I've only seen the process in action. The hierarchy of the Democratic Party espouse moderate positions that would've made them Republicans a generation ago. It's a backwards political evolution; where we desperately need to move to the left, we've instead moved to the right, in the Democratic Party and in America.

      Everything listed in your "I detect a difference" list is something Democrats accomplished in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s. Only thing Democrats have accomplished in the past 50 years is Obamacare, which is certainly better than what was, and I appreciate the improvements, but it's a gift to the insurance industry much more than to the American people.

      What America's needed for the past fifty years is a political party of the left. The Democrats are a political party of the middle of the road, and it's a road to a cliff where there's no bridge.

      You don't need to worry about my vote, though. My wife wanted me to vote, so I'm not going to stop voting, and there's nobody to vote *for* so I'll keep voting Democratic as we drive over the cliff, and on the long fall down.

  3. Good job Mister, I was hoping my zine would work that way but it may have had the opposite effect; once i gave one to a woman i liked, it had 13 personal ads for me in it and she thought, what?!?...You know how we always thought someone nice could really relate to us by reading our zines, but, well, maybe easier for you in an urban environment? anyway just musin', them were the days but the zine never worked for me like that, well, i DID get together with that woman a year later, hmm...Eel (PS two weeks now with a nonfunctioning delete key)

    1. 13 personal ads for you, in one issue of your zine? That seems excessive, even counterproductive.

      I don't think I ever used my zine as a person ad, specifically, but it was always me, same as this page is.

      Never had much success with personal ads, back when they cost money and you had to sum yourself up in the fewest words possible. Always thought the concept was intriguing, though...

  4. Plus in the personal ads, it seemed that the more i said the faster they ran...that is typical for loquaciousness, the more you put out the more is possible to offend or not be liked---E

    1. I had my best luck with personal ads that were utterly me, specific and weird. I wanted one good response, not twenty dames who were wrong for me.

  5. I can dig the One Good Response: about four years ago I went back, got a sub for a month (while staying in Tacoma), with the goal to just meet One Woman For Coffee. Could not make that happen...I did have fun writing them over the years and had some pleasurable results...Eel (I was always honest though one time I lied, maybe I'll share that vignette some time)

    1. Do share!

      I wish there were still personals like the old days. Not that I'd participate, just that it was a cool system.

      Now there's only meat market ads, which seems less interesting and more dangerous.

    2. One of the alternative weeklies used to have two pages that were almost total nonsense reader submissions vaguely in the format of personal ads. It was called something like "None of the Above" or what not. People would write blurbs they thought were funny, or serious, or sometimes adopt pseudonyms like "The Sailor" or "GONK" and have back and forths with each other, or trackable, running storylines spanning several issues (i.e., months). It was wild! I imagined who these people were, if they were weirdos like me or people doing this secretly (I wonder if any ever told their wife or husband they had an alter ego as the conspiracy-riddled free newspaper commenter named GONK). But because of the print format, it was almost elegant. They had to think about what they wanted to put in there, and were limited to like 30 words or something. No delete button, and being cryptic was the key. It was like the set-up of a plot of a mild '90s thriller staring Sandra Bullock.

      It was a bit like what you imagined Twitter would be before you actually saw Twitter for yourself.

    3. That does sound like a fun game to play, and to read. These blurbs were free? Totally cool.

      What would you say here and now, the crypticker the better, if you thirty words, and no more?

      Here's mine:

      Tax the rich, steal from the corporations, punch the fascists, be kind to everyone else, free the medicine and drugs, do it yourself if you can, and dance the tango.

  6. Lying About My Age
    I met a woman down the road on a trimming crew, a writer also, and I read the ladies some of my stories as they worked. I got the writer interested and she came over for sauna, wine, scrabble, kisses, and then sex. I was fifty-five and she was thirty-nine, right in my demographic of desire. She told me that she would never have responded to an add from a 55-year-old but that “I got game.” (She's the one who got me from match.com, ok-cupid, and craigslist to greensingles.)
    When I was still using the then semi-respectable craiglist personals, until they devolved into sex-for-sale and disappeared, I put in an add saying I was forty-five even though I was ten years older because I was desperate and lonely and wanted to increase the chances that I would get a response, something!
    A woman responded and after some back and forth we arranged to meet at a sushi place in Eureka. I pulled it off, passed for forty-five, and we were having a nice conversation but I knew I had to confess, I don't like thinking of myself as a deceptive person, although I had been lying about my alleged “career” for decades.
    When Brigitte mentioned something about age not mattering I realized that it was time to come clean and I told her I was really fifty-five. “Why would you do that?” she said, and I told her.
    I never heard from her again, liars are just not very attractive I guess.

    1. That's the moral of the story indeed.

      Little lies like that are part of "playing the game," but it's the most unpleasant part, and it's a game I stopped playing even years before meting my wife.

      If she doesn't want to go out with someone 55, respect that. Save yourself the cost of sushi for two — not an insignificant cost — and save her the wasted time.


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