Funerals and picnics

leftovers & links
Saturday, June 3, 2023

Here's a very brief moment about funerals, and another reason why I never want to be at one again.

An old family friend died. Which is ordinary. Everyone I grew up with is ancient or dead, so an old family friend dies about monthly. As always, I didn't go to the service, but most of my family did, including my brother Clay and my sister Katrina.

After the funeral, Clay texted me, "You should've been at the memorial. Katrina cried a little."

I studied that line for a few minutes before replying. Are funerals all about watching each other, judging whose grief is the more serious, more profound? 

It's just another of the fifty factors behind my hatred of funerals, but I can't tell you how much I don't care who cries and who doesn't. The older I get, the more important privacy feels to me. I demand the damned privacy of crying or not crying, without it being the topic of text messages. 

The family's annual picnic is coming up, and I've said I'm going but...

Last year it was at a park in a distant suburb where there's no bus service, so I begged a lift off my old buddy Leon. Had an OK time, but most of the nephews, nieces, grandnephews and grandnieces are strangers to me. Being a hermit at heart, it was exhausting.

This year's picnic is in Prairie Dog City, which is even more remote — it's in the next county, miles from any bus route. It's where Clay and his wife Karen live, where I stayed with them when I visited in 2019.

How far away is it? My friend Leon is also friends with Clay, so Leon's usually my lift when I visit their house. It's a two-hour trip if traffic is smooth, but traffic is never smooth. It's exhausting, and it means any visit takes the whole day, and there goes half the weekend.

Leon isn't coming to the picnic, though, so I'll need to hitch a ride with someone in the family. Three of my four living siblings have offered, and that's sweet.

From experience, though, there's not a one of them I'd trust to take me from Point A to Point B without detours to Points C, D, and E. There'll be a dog that needs a refill on his worm pills, so we'll make a quick stop at the vet's office, and then let's pop in on Uncle Xenon — you haven't seen him in so long...

Argh. Well, I needed to bang this out to think it through, but my apologies for asking others to read it.

This year, someone else can bring store-bought fried chicken to the picnic. You want me at a family event, hold it somewhere in this county, at a place that's not impossible to get to on the bus. 

News you need,
whether you know it or not

Amazon and Google fund anti-abortion lawmakers through complex shell game 

The show must go on (and fuck you, Republicans) 

Reddit is trying to kill third-party apps 

Swiss capital city wants to test controlled sale of cocaine 

Variety film writer admits he's never seen Casablanca

Fish relocating to colder waters as a result of global warming — study

More than 800-million Amazon trees felled in six years to meet beef demand 

Climate change is already making parts of America uninsurable 

Autopsy shows Rikers inmate who died of a "heart attack" was actually killed by a skull-fracture 

Armed police raid bail fund for Cop City opponents 

44 tickets, one excuse: Chicago cop's go-to alibi helps highlight troubles with police accountability 

DeSantis supports pastor who says gay people should be "put to death" 

'Fear and hostility': Florida cities to cancel, restrict Pride events 

Roger Stone forgot about his hot mic when he explained how he manipulated Trump 

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


My browser history
without the porn

Defector: The last good website 

Be forewarned: This article at Columbia Journalism Review convinced me to spend some time at Defector, which is generally a sports website. I don't give a rip about sports, and yet, in fifteen minutes I was a paid subscriber.

"This is Defector, a new sports blog and media company. We made this place together, we own it together, we run it together. Without access, without favor, without discretion, and without interference."

• Here's the article at Defector that snagged me:
A fair obituary of football and movie star Jim Brown.
To read it, they'll want you to sign up for a free account, and it looks like you get only one free article. Or click here, to skip that step.

Also at Defector:
Finally, a night where it's safe to be Christian at the ballpark
Or click here, for a back-door link. 

Even by the right-wing's recent standards, the ongoing backlash against Budweiser and Target is convoluted and stupid 

La Sombrita: A sculpture about the rules 

Tunnels under the city of San Francisco 

Russ Meyer on Casablanca 

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

Kometenmelodie — Kraftwerk 

Lady — Styx 

One and One, Giant Behemoth — Joe Walsh 

Sweet Jane — Lou Reed 

What Have They Done to the Rain? — Malvina Reynolds 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Dave Brandt 

George Maharis 

Jessie Maple 

Willie Marshall 

Marcus Plantin 

Cynthia Weil


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, Looking for My Perfect Sandwich, One Finger Medical, Two Finger Magical, Miss Miriam's Mirror, Nebulously Burnished, RanPrieur.com, Voenix Rising, and anywhere else I've stolen links, illustrations, or inspiration. 

Special thanks to Linden Arden, Becky Jo, Wynn Bruce, Joey Jo Jo, 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. Funny. Just yesterday, Virgina and I were talking about funerals. I think because I talked to my mom, and she reiterated that she doesn't want one. I said the same, and Virginia said, "If I'm around, you're getting one." I didn't push back, but might in the future.

    Also, I almost got roped into going to a friend's kid's "Naming Ceremony," whatever the fuck that is, at the local UU Church. The kid is 17-ish, and a trans male person, maybe the "naming" thing is cementing that? Unclear. I almost want to go for support, and UU ain't Catholic, but still, I passed.

    1. The dead get no say.

      The naming ceremony sounds maybe akin to a baptism? To thine own self be true, man. All the support a kid needs, sure, but invite me to something at a church and I'll hesitate so long it'll be over.

      I went to a Universalist church with my wife, just one Sunday as an experiment. We'd been living in Kansas City for two years or so and still knew nobody but people we hated there, so it was more about maybe meeting people than meeting god or God.

      It was pretty laid back for religion, and I never felt particularly uncomfortable. Probably that's the church I'd choose if I had to choose a church, but THANK GOD I don't have to choose a church.

    2. I don't attend any gathering with the word "ceremony" in it. I've been to a wedding or two (well, two of mine) but never a wedding ceremony. I've been to a lesbian wedding, but not to a lesbian wedding ceremony. Nothing involving a minister.

      My first wedding, which was a party for 150 or so with a jug band, was conducted by a guy named the Reverend T-Bone, who was neither a reverend nor entirely sober, but everybody had a good time. The first song the jug band, named "Shoot Luke" played was a Dan Hicks version of "If You Want Your Freedom PDQ Then Divorce Me C.O.D.".

      Good music, good food, no mention of a higher being.


    3. That sounds like an invitation I wouldn't regret accepting.

      The first song was about divorce, and if I'm keeping track of your life right that's how the marriage ended?

    4. Yeah, it's a circle of life thing.


  2. >There'll be a dog that needs a refill on his worm pills, so we'll make a quick stop at the vet's office, and then let's pop in on Uncle Xenon

    PLEASE tell me that you actually have an "Uncle Xenon." That's a fantastic name. Shawna had a great great uncle or something, with the name "DeWitt Tallmadge," and I fricking love that. She also had an ancient ancestor named "Ouida," born in the late 1800s.


    As you know, I have been a very active Reddit user for a decade. I will be sad when they stop allowing third party apps, or more precisely, they price out third party apps. I do a lot of Reddit browsing on my iPad on the crapper, and my masturbating while browsing my porn alt on the iPad in bed. The official Reddit app is atrocious. I know you don't use an app for Reddit, just the desktop. But I tell you that the complaints are not exaggerated. It is abominally ugly and user-unfriendly. Browsing Reddit on Chrome on a mobile device is almost as bad, as there is no way on mobile to opt out of the "New Reddit" disaster.


    I haven't read the obit for Jim Brown yet, but when I posted on Reddit that he was A) maybe the greatest non-QB ever and B) a flaming pile of shit, I got some really shitty messages.


    1. Sorry, no, I needed a ridiculous name and pulled Uncle Xenon outta my ass.

      Reddit has to be the dumbest-run tech company, but its original setup was an enjoyable open forum, and it's still the best of its ilk. I'll stick with it until they take away the 'old' option and force everyone onto the subabysmal redesign.

      Jim Brown was "A) maybe the greatest non-QB ever and B) a flaming pile of shit." Nailed it, man, but the shitty replies don't surprise me. Stupid people don't like it when anyone tells the truth.

    2. > I'll stick with it until they take away the 'old' option and force everyone onto the subabysmal redesign.

      Same, man. I cannot fucking stand "New Reddit." It's the worst.

    3. With the exception of Twitter and possibly old-school Digg, have you ever seen a website so intent on destroying itself?

    4. Xenon is a heavy and extremely rare gas. Sounds about right for pulling out of your ass at a family picnic.


  3. Where, in the Name of Dog, is Prairie Dog City? I've lived most of my adult life in the Great Pacific Northwest, and I've done a fair amount of camping and picnicking, and I've never heard of such a mounded place. I can't even identify "the next county over". Thanks in advance.


    1. Like Mrs Rigby's and Haugen & Dahl, Prairie Dog City is a proper noun of my own creation. Trust me, fits the town far better than whatever the town calls itself.

    2. Let us look to manufactured history, to the beginnings of our faux democracy when we were owned and operated by the quaint people across the pond but were about to find ourselves free to enslave each other and still needed sustenance to make it through the night. . . . . . . . .

      So through the night rode Paul Revere;
      And so through the night went his cry of alarm
      To every Middlesex village and farm,—
      A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
      A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
      And a word that shall echo forevermore! . . . . . . . . . . .
      Sandwich, sandwich, sandwich.

      So through the night rode Paul Revere;
      And so through the night went his cry of alarm
      To every Middlesex village and farm,—
      A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
      A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
      And a word that shall echo forevermore!

    3. Made me laugh.

      Then I came back ten hours later and reread it and laughed harder.

  4. And you already know family picnics suck. You see who you want to see all year, and don't see who you don't want to see. We were a pretty close extended family, and never considered having a "family picnic". Sounds like a horror movie. Just an opinion.


    1. Any social event is a horror for me, but my brother Clay invented the picnic during the decades I was gone, and I'd say it was a good idea.

      All my siblings had grown up and started families of their own, occasionally seeing one another for a ball game or dinner at Denny's, but with everyone always busy and running in different directions, never again seeing everybody all at once like old times.

      So he said, let's have a picnic one Saturday every year.

      I like the idea, though "once a year" is what I like more than "picnic." But it ought to be someplace triangulated between everyone's homes, not geographied so distant that getting there becomes an easy excuse for not getting there.

    2. Fucking Hell, Shawna's humongous extended family has a HUMONGOUS family reunion every year, and I got roped into one once or twice. I survived, but so many old, old republicans and tiny children and bland potato salad, just ugh.

      I lucked into the good branch of her family, as I love her and her close relatives, almost without exception.

    3. The awkwardness is palpable just thinking of it — a crowd of people and everyone knows everyone except you, and you get to repeat the most basic who-I-am paragraph with every one of them.

      My endlessly extended family has its reunion every summer in Eastern Washington. I went once, in my early teens, and never again, despite ten thousand invitations from my mother, who's there for the weekend every year, and "You should come to, you'll have a wonderful time."

      Black is my heart, and sandwich, sandwich, sandwich.

    4. I went to college for several minutes in eastern Washington. Walked into the Highway Grill with my Black roommate in the middle of the night; a couple of truckers were talking and one said a little too loud, "The only good nigger is Charlie Pride". It took superhuman strength, which I had no idea I possessed, to prevent my roomie from doing a swan dive onto their table. Welcome to 1969 in eastern Washington.


    5. Not always with Charlie Pride, and not always with black people, but that's a line heard so often, ain't it?

      It always comes down to, I hate 'em all, every last one of them, and they're all the same... except for the one that I've actually listened to, worked with, laughed with — the one who's not like all the rest.

      And being idiots, they're incapable of grasping that all the rest aren't like "all the rest" either.

    6. We got a lot of truckers in E-burg. It was the first coffee stop coming off Snoqualmie Pass if your airbrakes were on the fritz.


    7. The only good trucker was Chuck Norris in BREAKER BREAKER...

    8. Claude Good Buddy ReignsJune 5, 2023 at 6:54 AM


    9. For an old geezer, sometimes my memory surprises me: I would testify in a court of law that I saw that preview at the Renton Village 4, with a girl names Molly beside me.

  5. "One county over" would be literally true, but in my experience a westerner would never think of Chelan or Kittitas as "one county over". Travel there involves snow shovels and chains in the winter and a long, long drive any other time. To most westerners eastern Washington is terra incognita: a wild place where people elect Republican reps and do odd things with horses. Are there any jobs over there besides ranch hand?

    Of course, quietly near the mighty Columbia River, where power is cheap and land is cheaper, there are many discreet low-slung concrete buildings that are part of what webites call "The Cloud", but jobs there are mostly low-level computer operators and Barny Fife-like security personnel.

    But at least I now know what "one county over" means.


  6. Which islands celebrate Toothfish Day
    On September 4th?, (It's a Bank Holiday)
    Which islands are British and Argentine
    Depending on how you make the scene?
    Sandwich, Sandwich, Sandwich.


  7. As the great Lan Roberts said 60 years ago last winter, "If you're driving over the passes, be sure to carry chains -- you might have to fight your way through.


    1. Wikipedia says, Toothfish Day is a public holiday celebrated in the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. It is annually on 4 September, but if that falls on a weekend it may be observed on a weekday.

      Never heard of a floating holiday that *wants* to be a weekday instead of a weekend.

    2. He hadn't crossed my antenna in a great many years, but as soon as I read the name you'd typed, he came through in glorious monophonic sound.

      Lan Roberts, man.


    Ting #1: Sandwich

    The poems/lyrics you and Claude wrote were very nice variations on the triple sandwich theme. Many of my favorite poets eschew rhyme and meter in constructing poems and create brilliant work. Examples abound, but let's take Of Mere Being by Wallace Stevens, one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets. Mr Stevens forgoes both rhyme AND meter but constructs one of the more interesting short poems in our shared language:

    by Wallace Stevens

    The palm at the end of the mind,
    Beyond the last thought, rises
    In the bronze decor,

    A gold-feathered bird
    Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
    Without human feeling, a foreign song.

    You know then that it is not reason
    That makes us happy or unhappy.
    The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

    The palm stands on the edge of space.
    The wind moves slowly in the branches.
    The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

    Copyright © 1967, 1969, 1971 by Holly Stevens

    Having established that neither rhyme nor meter is essential or even desirable in a short poem, I decided to, nonetheless write a poem in which sandwich, sandwich, sandwich was appropriately used (except for capitalization) and which used (or came close to using) appropriate rhyme and meter.

    It's true that I didn't notice, and therefore omitted information about weekend vs weekday celebration of holidays in the Sandwich Islands. I prioritized meter, and besides, you came later to clean up the holiday information so no potential tourists or foreign navies would make the mistake of establishing a beachhead on a floating holiday.

    Ting #2: Lan Roberts

    During the heyday of Black-influenced white rock (roughly 1962-1972) the white DJ appeared simultaneously in the top 50 markets across the USA and Canada. Lan Roberts showed up as the AM DJ on KJR at the beginning of this era and dominated the morning airwaves for the next ten years. He didn't just spin discs: he was funny, knowledgeable, a little outrageous, and just plain sweet.

    At station ID times he would frequently just say, "This is the nice man on the radio," which might or might not have met with FCC compliance, but he seemed to get away with it. I listened at least a little every weekday morning, and I never heard a boring Lan Roberts timeslot.


    1. Reading Wallace Stevens in a serious frame of mind, it's what poetry ought to be — a bunch of written-swell stand-alone moments that add up to something outstanding when they're all stood together. It is seriously fine poetry, in a serious, poetic place.

      When I'm not in that place, and instead tired from a yesterday of work and getting ready for a today's work just as tiring, it could use three sandwiches.

      Who's Holly Stevens, by the way, to claim ownership of Wallace's words? Wife, daughter, moocher.

      Loved "establishing a beachhead on a floating holiday"… :)

      I listened to Lan Roberts most mornings, too. Ever listen to the radio today? On those rare occasions when I power up the tubes, all my receiver receives is ads, bad music, more ads, and 'morning zoo' personalities who put all their effort into laughing at each other and no effort into being funny.

      Where have you gone, Lan Roberts?

      Sandwich, sandwich, sandwich.


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