The man from McDonald's

For breakfast with Mom and the family yesterday, it was Mom, my sister Katrina, Katrina's friend Adelle, and me. As soon as they arrived, before Mom had seated herself or even said hello, she told me to take off my hat. It's a psychedelic beanie, and I know she hates it, which makes me love it, so I only said, "Good morning."



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Feb. 26, 2023

Couple of minutes later she told me again to take off my hat, and I looked at her but said nothing.

Mere seconds after that, she interrupted Katrina to say again, "Will you please take off that hat?" I say 'again', but it was the first time she'd phrased it as a question, not a command.

"I'm out of high school, Momma, so you don't get to tell me what to wear." And I kept the hat on all through breakfast.

Mom was otherwise quite well-behaved, and to a casual observer we must've appeared to be a normal family, though we are not. She asked how my job hunt is going, and when I'm getting my teeth fixed, told me I need to lose some weight, and invited me to join her for weekly weigh-ins at TOPS (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly). I declined.

As we were leaving, Mom again asked me to take the beanie off, and again I didn't. She really doesn't seem to like the tie-dye look, so next Saturday I'll wear my tie-dye jacket, too.

At the diner on a different day, a 50-something white man in a suit was having breakfast with another man, complaining about the difficulties of running a small business — taxes, payroll, etc. Having never run a business myself, I imagine it's difficult, so half of me eavesdropped while the other half read a book and ate eggs.

After the man had rambled on for too long, though, he complained about OPNAD, a term which meant nothing to me or the man he was talking to, so the complaining man helpfully explained. It's the Operators National Advertising Fund, which every McDonald's franchisee pays into, to cover the cost of national and regional advertising.

Wait. Stop. Whoa. I looked at the man more carefully and noticed that a tiny pair of golden arches was embroidered onto his suit jacket. Usually I don't converse with strangers, and here comes why.

"Dude," I said, "you own a McDonald's franchise, and you think it's a small business?"

The complaining man stopped talking and stared at me, and the man he'd been complaining to turned around to stare at me, and people at other tables were staring at me, and the idiot said, "I don't believe I was talking to you, but definitely, my McDonald's is a small business."

And I let a fake laugh out of my throat, shook my head a vigorous no, and turned back to my breakfast. There was nothing more to say, and I didn't want to make a scene inside my favorite diner.

And the diner, of course, is a small business. So's the laundromat next door, and the bodega across the street.

A McDonald's is not. Maybe the complainer owns it, pays taxes and meets a payroll, but everything about running his restaurant is literally "by the book," by the several books of requirements from Corporate, laying out every detail of how every franchise must be operated. The complainer can't change the menu, the motto, the color scheme, the signs... He can't frickin' switch to a different brand of mustard. The corporation makes every decision that matters.

Small business, my all-beef patty.

A friend recommended The Things They Carried, a novel by Tim O'Brien set amidst the Vietnam War. I never wanted to go to war, though, and even if it's brilliant I don't want to read a book that puts me in the middle of a war, and certainly not that war.

My friend said, and here I paraphrase, if you can't handle a war novel you ought to at least read "On the Rainy River," a chapter from the book wherein O'Brien explains why he went into the military instead of running to Canada when he was drafted. 

So I read that chapter, and it's a fine piece of writing. Mr O'Brien explains that he knew the war was stupid and vulgar and wrong, and he thought about running to Canada, almost made it across the border, but turned around. In the end he decided that going to war is better than the shame of not going to war. 

"What would you do?" is the author's question, and I bless my ignorance, knowing it's a decision I never had to stare down. I was a few years too young to be drafted during that obscenity.

And I mean nothing against O'Brien or the millions of American men and a few women who made the same decision, to 'serve' (as they say) in the Vietnam War. Shame and the expectations of others, though, seem insufficient reasons to get your head shaved and slip into a uniform and follow orders into what was nothing but a years-long war crime.

Instead of convincing me to read the book, the excerpt reinforced my eagerness not to.

Jim Romenesko used to publish the zine and later website Obscure, and then he quit.

In a nostalgic mood one fine morning, I wondered whether he's still alive and/or what he's up to, and landed at jimromenesko.com, where the latest news is "Top 10 Best Electric Potato Peelers 2023."

Wikipedia thinks Romenesko is still alive but knows nothing of his whereabouts, which is OK. I love it when people know nothing of my whereabouts. But wherever he is, Jim clearly has nothing to do with jimromenesko.com any more.

Dean, my insufferable flatmate, made some kind of fancy mutton dish, and invited Robert and I to dinner. Robert accepted; I declined.

The next day, Dean insisted that I simply must have some of the leftover meat, and he's a good cook and I'm willing to eat meat, so I said sure. Whipped a knife out of my silverware drawer and was about to slice off a chunk, when Dean said, "No, use this knife."

He wanted me to slice the meat with his fancy chef's knife, insisting that it was sharper, easier to handle than my mere mortal's knife. So I used Dean's knife to cut Dean's mutton, because what the hell, I wanted to get out of the kitchen and away from him as soon as possible. Using his knife was quicker than arguing about it.

His knife, by the way, is sharper and easier to handle than my knives, and the chunk of meat was tasty. Thanks, Dean.

Everyone but me probably already knows about tech like SpeechTexter, but it's Star Trek to me. I talk, and it types, quite accurately for the most part.

What's fun is leaving the app on for a few days, and then reading how much and how stupidly I talk to my cat.

Metro must be using some newfangled anti-graffiti paint on the bus shelters. Last time I bused home from the diner, there was a clever, slightly vulgar political poem on one of the shelter's gray support posts, but my bus came before I had time to jot it down.

I looked for it again today, and it was gone. There's only the grayness of an un-graffitied post.

Art and literature are wherever you find them — a few days ago, at the bus stop, but today… keep looking.

News you need,
whether you know it or not

After years of opposition and delay, Waco has finally posted a historical marker about the 1916 lynching of Jesse Washington 

Nebraska state senator pledges to filibuster everything, to block Republicans' hate agenda 

A mysterious object is being dragged into the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way’s center 

Despite bodycams, it took two years to indict cop for traffic stop assault 

•  Michigan man convicted of double murder is released because sheriff’s office withheld critical evidence 

Colorado sheriff honors deputy after he killed man who mistakenly got in wrong car 

Texas bill would ban nearly all gender-affirming care, including for trans adults 

How the right racialized the Ohio train disaster 

Musk defends Dilbert creator, says media is "racist against whites" 

Republican lawmakers double down on Arizona elections despite AG report saying they're safe and secure 

Alaska Republican says state could financially benefit if child abuse victims died of their abuse 

Mystery links
There's no knowing where you're going






My browser history
without the porn

Deaths in World War II, visualized: More people died in WW2 than in all wars since 

Google stays deaf to mounting criticism over its attempt to marry tracking and privacy 

Where did King County’s mental health beds go? 

How to completely own an airline in three easy steps 

People like Scott Adams claim they're being silenced. But what they actually seem to object to is being understood.

A manual flush toilet, dating back 2,400 years 

A wooden dildo, dating back 1.800 years 

Have you ever eaten banana peels? 

♫♬  It don't mean a thing  ♫
if it don't have that swing

Cannon — John Gregory 

Can't Help Falling in Love with You — Lick the Tins 

Get Up, Jimmy Newman — John Denver 

Outsider — Chumbawamba 

Step Right Up — Tom Waits 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Georgina Hammick 

David Harris 

ƨdmoƆɔM bǝЯ 

Walter Mirisch 

Gordon Pinsent 


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 ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, CaptCreate's Log, HipHappyHair, Looking for My Perfect Sandwich, Miss Miriam's Mirror, RanPrieur.com, Voenix Rising, and anywhere else I've stolen links, illustrations, or inspiration.
Special thanks to Linden Arden, Becky Jo, Wynn Bruce, Captain Hampockets, John the Basket, Dave S, Name Withheld, 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 can tell you that unless something happened in the last couple of months, Jim Romanesko is still alive. He retired more than a decade ago, which was wild because he seemed to have a job that was the envy of the industry: he posted more or less daily diary reports about the news industry's decline and collapse. His site was read very carefully by a big audience too. It was always strange to me, both the timing and that nobody followed in his footsteps.

    He undoubtedly still has google alerts set up for his name and will probably find this. Hi Jim!

    1. > It was always strange to me, both the timing and that nobody followed in his footsteps.

      I can completely understand getting burned out, or just wanting to do something else with your life than looking at a screen 12 hours daily. What I can't understand is why the Poynter Institute didn't hire someone else to run the blog. It's always seemed so strange to me — his blog was, for me anyway, the main attraction at the Poynter Institute. Why would they let that audience wander away?

      And if Jim cares enough to still have a web alert, I'll stand next to you and wave at him. Always I respected what he did, and still miss his work.

    2. I can definitely see burnout being a factor, and yes, I'm not sure I ever visited the Poynter Institute before Romanesko began writing his blog there and I've definitely never visited after they canned him.

    3. Now that you mention it, Poynter isn't in my surf cycle at all these days. Hasn't been for years.

      There was some stupid kerfuffle, as I recall, where in the process of pulling excerpts from thousands of articles, Jim sometimes forgot to include quote marks? Yeah, a ridiculous thing to get hyper-fake-ethical about.


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