Have you seen Ray Charles’ new piano?*

November 22, 2014
Mister Boo recuperating with his old pal Stinky Piggy.

Mister Boo recuperating with his old pal Stinky Piggy.

Mister Boo is slowly getting his mojo back following eye surgery.

Yesterday he unearthed his old pal Stinky Piggy for a bit of gentle playtime, and the squeaky ball eventually got a light workout too.

He’s down to five medicines per diem now, four eyedrops and a gel, and doesn’t have another checkup until Dec. 3. The ophthalmologist says he’s coming along quite nicely, which is good news, as the little fella is already shy one headlight and doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life driving in the dark.

Happily, The Boo doesn’t do much news-reading with that one rebuilt eye. Hijo, madre. It’s enough to make a man pray for total sensory deprivation.

*Neither has he. That was cruel, but he’ll never know. (Don’t blame me, that headline and the subsequent punchline are lifted straight from an old National Lampoon letter to the editor, signed “Stevie Wonder.”)

System maintenance

November 16, 2014
Enchiladas de Herrera from El Bruno's on Fourth.

Enchiladas de Herrera from El Bruno’s on Fourth.

Downtime. Hasn’t been much of that sort of thing around here lately.

If you haven’t moved for a dozen years or so, it’s something of a shock to the system, like waking up in a strange room with the notion that you’ve been misbehaving again. The police may or may not consider you “a person of interest.” Nothing is where it should be — groceries, banking, your favorite ride.

Little disruptions abound. Walls without art, windows without shades, a wife with a job that no longer permits working from home three days a week.

Things need doing, and all of them take more time than they did back home. Just where the hell are the English muffins in this Bizarro World Whole Foods, anyway? Not where I’d put ‘em, that’s for sure. The eyeball doc says Mister Boo needs another procedure? Put the English muffins back, we’re all gonna be eating dog food for a while. The city won’t pick up glass for recycling? No wonder the bike lanes are full of it.

Oh, the humanity. Caninity. Velocity. Whatever.

Then, suddenly, a pause for the cause. Nothing needs doing. Well, not right now, anyway. So there’s time for a short ‘cross-bike ride through the desert, a fiery platter of enchiladas de Herrera from El Bruno’s Restauranté y Cantina, and our millionth viewing of “Blazing Saddles” in honor of David Huddleston, a resident of Santa Fe.

How ’bout some more beans, Mister Taggart?

Paging Dr. Moreau

November 9, 2014
He'll be back. Actually, he's already here.

He’ll be back. Actually, he’s already here.

All is well on the Island, for those of you who expressed curiosity. Herself is sounding less like Tom Waits and more like (wait for it) Herself, and Mister Boo is adjusting nicely to monocular vision.

The former has been subsisting on a diet of health-restoring soups (chicken noodle, posole), cough drops, and various over-the-counter nostrums, including a nightly hot toddy made with Jameson, local honey and lemon.

The latter is taking more prescription drugs than a right-wing radio personality, shamelessly using his disability to extort treats from anyone in his vicinity, and sleeping in the bed with Your Humble Narrator, who as a consequence has grown slightly red of eye himself.

He has his first follow-up appointment with the eyeball doc on Wednesday — the Boo, not YHN — but our uninformed opinion is that the little guy is doing quite well. And Herself has only missed one day of work, which is fortunate, because someone has to pay for all of this, and I don’t think it’s gonna be Obama.

Ridge lyin’

November 7, 2014
You never saw this. You were never even here.

You never saw this. You were never even here.

This is so not a 20-minute ride from my house. No, sir. Nuh uh. Never happen. Horrible place for cycling, Albuquerque. Don’t ever come here.

Eye yi yi

November 6, 2014
Mister Boo, full of drugs, naps on the couch. Kind of reminds me of my glory days, except nobody ever made me wear an e-collar.

Mister Boo, full of drugs, naps on the couch. Kind of reminds me of my glory days, except nobody ever made me wear an e-collar.

Speaking of vision issues (see the 2014 midterm elections), we learned last week that Mister Boo’s eyesight had finally deteriorated to the point of requiring surgery.

His bad eye had gotten really bad — couldn’t see a damn thing out of it, thanks to an old lens luxation, and it had begun causing him some discomfort, being subject to periodic corneal abrasions. His good eye, meanwhile, had sprouted a mature cataract. Both of these issues are fairly common in Japanese Chins.

So, we pulled the trigger on a two-fer, having the defunct right eye removed and the left lens replaced. Didn’t use none of that socialistic Mooslim com’niss ObummerCare, neither. We paid for it in good ol’ fiat currency, and plenty of it, too.

“He looks like he was in a bar fight,” the vet tech warned me before bringing Mister Boo out for pickup yesterday. No shit, and he lost it, too, I thought after seeing him for the first time.

Now the poor little fella gets to take eight medications throughout the day — four drops, two pills, one gel and a liquid — and faces several follow-up visits to the vet over the next month or so.

But his appetite is excellent, he’s taking in plenty of fluids, and while he’s down to one eye, it seems he can see out of it.

So we might not have to buy Mister Boo a white cane and a German shepherd for solstice. But an eyepatch and a parrot? Maybe. Arrr.

Back to the drawing board

November 5, 2014


Erection Day

November 4, 2014

Well, here we go, headfirst down the rathole of what the GOP expects will be Christmas in November and the rest of us fear will be a hole full of grinning rats, wearing American-flag lapel pins.

It seems the Founding Fathers intended the business of running a republic to be tough sledding, given our whole setup. “That government is best which governs least” is a line often attributed to Thomas Jefferson.

But I don’t think ol’ Tom, or any of his bros, intended it to be impossible.

And yet, today, we, the inheritors of a republic we don’t seem able or willing to keep, are said to be eager not to solve the problems of self-governance, but rather to exacerbate them by turning the Senate over to a collection of bunko artists, waterheads and loons. It’s like electing a full slate of Hell’s Angels to run your local school board.

God knows that the Donks have not covered themselves in glory here. Candidates like Mark Udall in Colorado and Bruce Braley in Iowa have run inexplicably feeble campaigns, and as a consequence we seem to be on the verge of elevating Neanderpols Cory Gardner and Joni Ernst to the upper chamber of our national legislature. All hat and no cattle, and two very small hats at that.

This is in part the fault of the media, which focuses on horse race and narrative over résumé and platform. But it’s also the fault of an electorate that prefers chowing down on a steaming plate of deep-fried bullshit to actually rustling around in the national kitchen to see if there’s anything more nourishing to be had.

And we do this all the time. We elect Republicans who make a shambles of things, then elect Democrats to clean up their mess, and then elect Republicans again because the Democrats aren’t cleaning up the Republicans’ mess fast enough. It’s like watching an arson victim chase the firefighters off at gunpoint and then invite the firebug inside for a Molotov cocktail.

I voted, like always, but I won’t pretend to be happy about it. The folks at the county clerk’s office were friendly and helpful, and they said turnout was surprisingly good for a midterm, and I felt like I was using the last few squirts from an old can of Krylon to scrawl my name on a collapsed bridge on an abandoned road.


High time to hit the road

October 30, 2014
Through a windshield, darkly.

Through a windshield, darkly.

It was 4:20 p.m. (smoke ‘em if you got ‘em) when I fired up the Forester for the latest six-hour drive from Bibleburg to Duke City.

Herself and I had been in the old hometown to prepare Chez Dog and The House Back East® for new tenants, a project I’d hoped would take only a couple of long, hard days, but I got there on Friday and didn’t get gone until Tuesday afternoon. Herself beat it on Monday, having one of them obnoxious “job” thingies that requires regular attendance.

So there I was, once again piloting a heavily laden Japanese automobile solo through the starry American night. It reminded me of the good old days, when all I needed for a cross-country jaunt was a bridge burned at one newspaper, a job offer at another, and a battered old rice-grinder that was nearly as full of shit as I was.

“What kind of sordid business are you on now? I mean, man, whither goest thou? Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?” — Jack Kerouac, “On the Road”

I used to love those long nights behind the wheel, in part because I generally enjoyed some sort of illicit chemical assist, having studied at the feet of Jack Kerouac, Ed Abbey and the redoubtable Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Once a friend and I even took a page from the Good Doktor’s book — to be specific, a page from “Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas” — and ate some acid before stalking into the old MGM Grand to see what we could see, which proved to be much more than was actually there.

In short, it was a bad idea, like so many of the Good Doktor’s, and we quickly jumped back into our auto and drove straight through the inky darkness of the Intermountain West to Alamosa, Colorado, for a steaming plate of enchiladas and beans served up by my companion’s mom, who either didn’t notice or didn’t care that we were horribly twisted on LSD and Budweiser.

After a few hundred thousand miles of that sort of thing, coupled with deteriorating night vision, a bad back and a considerably diminished drug intake (I’m pretty much down to a cup and a half of coffee in the morning these days), I lost interest in snorting that long white line through the windshield and sleeping it off under the camper shell in some rest area or unpatrolled parking lot. When the sunlight started fading, so did I. A motel bed sounded a lot better than drumming on the steering wheel with ZZ Top, Bob Seger or the Allman Brothers cranked up to 11.

But I got a little of the old love back Tuesday night. As I motored southwest with the cruise control set at a safe and sane 75 mph a banana moon hung brightly in the sky dead ahead, the highway stripes rising up as if to meet it on the hills. Where to go? Mexico? San Francisco? Albuquerque, as it turned out. I left the stereo off and listened to the music in my head.


The ‘Boogie’ man gonna getcha

October 23, 2014
"Full Tilt Boogie," by Hal Walter

“Full Tilt Boogie,” by Hal Walter

My man Hal Walter of Hardscrabble Times has a new book out. “Full Tilt Boogie” covers a lot of ground, but then so has Hal.

A journalist, runner, world-champion burro racer, ranch hand and foodie who lives in the Upper Boondocks of Crusty County, Colorado, Hal is also the father of an autistic child, Harrison, and the book gives us a glimpse into how he manages all of this without winding up in a Nudie jacket with wraparound arms, playing lonesome country tunes that only he can hear for an audience that only he can see.

“Full Tilt Boogie” can be had in a variety of ways. You can await an old-school dead-tree edition or a digital version from Vook, or contact Hal directly via email or Facebutt and get a special-edition PDF that has more pix than these others.

Perhaps best of all, you can pay what you please, a la the Live Update Guy/NPR revenue model. I think you’ll find his story a worthwhile investment.

• Extra Special Boogie Treat: Here’s a little something to get your feet moving on over to PayPal: Catfish Hodge’s legendary 1973 album, “Boogieman Gonna Get Ya.”

One, two, tree

October 18, 2014
The big maple in Bibleburg is doing its annual thing, carpeting the block with fallen leaves.

The big maple in Bibleburg is doing its annual thing, carpeting the block with fallen leaves.

The big silver maple back in Bibleburg is quite a sight come fall. Also quite a bit of work. It’s a rare year in which we don’t get more than a dozen 32-gallon bags of leaves off the auld fella.

The maple in the backyard in Duke City is a smaller edition, but further along in its seasonal disrobing.

The maple in the backyard in Duke City is a smaller edition, but further along in its seasonal disrobing.

But it’s worth it, because that tree sits on the south side of The Old Home Place®, and keeps the afternoon sun from cooking us like a pair of rotisserie chickens.

We have some class of a maple here in Duke City, too, but a much smaller model, on the east side of Rancho Pendejo™. It’s further along in the leaf-shedding process, but tidying up its droppings should be a damn’ sight easier on the lower back.

This also suits me right down to the ground, because frankly I’d rather be riding a bike than raking leaves. I’ve been discovering the wanderings of Trail 365 north of here, and it makes for some fun riding on the old Voodoo Nakisi. I surprised a couple of mountain bikers in a blind corner the other day and one exclaimed, “Nicely done,” clearly thinking I was on an actual cyclo-cross bike instead of a MonsterCrosser® with a triple crankset and 700×45 Panaracer Fire Cross tires.

Actually, check that, I’ve dialed the front tire down to a 700×42 Continental CrossRide. So I guess I am a manly man after all.



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