On Ducklings

February 25, 2017

I visited the Boston Commons Park today, home of the famous “Make Way for Ducklings” statue which celebrates the beloved children’s story of the same name by Robert McCloskey. In “MWfD,” Mrs. Mallard takes her ducklings on a perilous journey across Boston from the Charles River to the Boston Commons to meet her husband, Mr. Mallard. The police stop traffic on intervening roads to allow the ducks to cross safely.


The “Make Way for Ducklings” statues in Boston Commons Park. Are any of them ISIS ducklings? WE JUST DON’T KNOW.

It’s a lovely story, beautifully illustrated, and the statue is a ton of fun with plenty of duckies for the kids to sit on. I had a good time.

So naturally I was appalled when on the way home I heard about President Trump’s Executive Order banning ducklings. For the next sixth months, instead of holding up traffic for the ducklings, ICE agents would send all ducklings back to the river, “Until,” President Trump explained, “we can figure out what the hell is going on.

“There are plenty of bad hombres masquerading as ducklings,” the President continued. “The Charles River is totally overrun by ISIS.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” Trump insisted. “I love ducklings! I’ve made way for many many ducklings. In fact I’ve made way for more ducklings that Hillary ever did, if you don’t count the three million chickens pretending to be ducklings she’s made way for.”

Originally, President Trump’s ban applied only to non-white ducklings, but that was overturned by the 5th Circuit Court. Now ducklings of all colors and types are banned*.

President Trump is the first American President in modern history who hasn’t made way for ducklings. Richard Nixon was heard on tape calling them “goddamned Hollywood waterfowl,” but he did make way for them. Gerald Ford tripped over the ducklings. Jimmy Carter built them a tiny little house on the island in the Boston Commons lake. Reagan paused for a photo-op with the cutest ducklings before making way. The Bush Presidents were perfect gentlemen (though Dick Cheney accidentally shot a Secret Service man in the face while hunting Mr. Mallard).  Mr. Clinton made way AND got Mrs. Mallard’s phone number at the same time.


Boston Common Lake has been “Repealed and Replaced” by Speaker Ryan and the GOP.

Late last year President Obama signed an Executive Order making it mandatory for all Americans to make way for ducklings, however President Trump rescinded it immediately upon taking office, calling “duckling over-regulation a yuge threat to American business.”

I got home and turned on CNN, where Reince Priebus denied everything, explaining that the whole story is “fake news” created by Public Enemy No 1: the US media.

Happily, I have since learned that Mayor Marty Walsh has declared Boston a “Duckling Sanctuary City.” Rumor has it Senator Warren will be leading a Duckling’s March on Washington sometime next month. So there is some hope for the ducklings.

And for us.

*All except Moscovy ducklings. Which seems weird.


Dick Cheney is Back: Where’s the Wood Chipper?

June 25, 2014

Recently I’ve been working outside, clearing a buncha trees which have appeared on the edge of our lawn over the past 7-8 years, since the last time I did this. These speedy bastards can grow like 2-3 feet a year, which means that some are now 20 feet tall. After detailed research (I asked my wife, who knows things), I determined that these are mulberry trees. In addition to sprouting up everywhere, mulberries produce dark, sweet berries, much loved by birds who then shit purple on your vehicle and trousers.

Die, mulberries, die! Ahahahahaaaaa!

Die, mulberries, die! Ahahahahaaaaa!

I hate mulberries. Hate ’em. They grow so fast that they can crowd out crops in your garden. That’s not normal. I believe they were created by terrorists because they hate our freedom.

Anyway, I’ve taken down maybe 10 trees, with 20 or so more to go. I’m using a ripsaw and chainsaw, which is fun, but I’ll soon be left with the corpses of 30 trees to deal with. That’s where the wood chipper comes in. I’m thinking about renting one.

Of course any time there’s a wood-chipper, one immediately remembers that scene in the movie, Fargo. You know, the one near the end in which that creepy dude did That Thing with it. The scene with the sock.

And that brings to mind Dick Cheney.

I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention lately, but things have been going quite badly in Iraq. The country is in danger of being overrun by psychos from Syria. Plenty of people are saying that the US is at least partly at fault and that we need to immediately bomb something or drop troops somewhere or at the very least let loose Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger with some rpgs and wearing sweatbands and wife-beater t-shirts. Something, dammit.

Would you by advice on Iraq from this man?

Would you by advice on Iraq from this man?

One of these critical people is Dick Cheney.

Let that sink in. Dick Cheney.

He’s criticizing President Obama’s actions in Iraq.

Dick Cheney.

Critical of somebody’s handling of Iraq.

While wearing a cowboy hat.

I’m not going to go into all of the reasons this is outstandingly ridiculous and mind-numbingly infuriating, because I bet you know ’em already. But if not, check out this HuffPost article. It links to Jon Stewart’s brilliant commentary. If it doesn’t make you mad, you must be Paul Wolfowitz. Hi, Paul. Thanks for reading! Go fuck yourself you incompetent tool.

Anyway, the point is, when I consider wood chippers, I begin thinking about Dick Cheney. And this is disturbing. I’m not a violent person. I find it difficult to discipline a dog when it poops in my shoe. I have been known to hurl a kitty into the Outer Darkness when it leaps onto my groin from a great height in the middle of the night, but that’s a matter of reflex rather than rational thought. But when it comes to Cheney, I begin fantasizing about doing Things. Bad Things.

And I feel guilty about this. I feel that somehow I’ve cheapened myself by even in fantasy adopting Cheney’s stupid, cruel, and ultimately fruitless advocacy of violence to solve difficult problems.

Fargo, which taught me many important things.

Fargo, which taught me many important things.

So no more wood chipper, Imagination. I’m better than that.

Happily, that does leave me the steaming piles of horse excrement we have strategically deployed in our pastures and barn. And if that vicious, murderous son-of-a-bitch comes within 10 miles of this place I’ma load up a huge pitchfork full of righteousness and dump it on his evil, scheming, lying, ugly, war-criminal noggin.

It’s good to have dreams.

P.S. About Iraq? I haven’t got a clue what we should do there. But I DO know that we shouldn’t listen to advice from the very assholes who got us into this mess in the first place. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Ants in the Pants

June 11, 2014
Too sexy for my pants!

Too sexy for my pants!

Excuse me, but do these suspenders make me look like “Ants in the Pants?” I’m asking you, people who have never met me, because my wife is blinded by love and totally cannot be trusted when it comes to questions about my personal appearance.

She has shown this over and over again, the most outrageously at a Thanksgiving several years ago when she told an appalled group of relatives that I looked like Emmitt Smith. This while I was standing right there, mind you – and it was clear to anybody with working eyeballs that I do not at all look like Mr. Smith, nothing like him. Even a little. They don’t call me “the White Burl Ives” for nothing.

Me and Gregory Peck. (I'm the handsome one.)

Me and Gregory Peck. (I’m the handsome one.)

Anyway, my wife loves the suspenders. But is she correct? Do they give me that certain jeu ne sais quoi that a man of my declining years and hairline look for in a trouser-support device?  Or do they merely make me look like a sweaty extra from “Inherit the Wind?”

I’m usually not fussy about my appearance, which is good, given what I have to work with, but I do periodically get these ideas. Suspenders, for example. Who the hell wears suspenders? Beats me. Why did I start wearing suspenders? I dunno. Maybe it’s because my boyhood idol, Sandy Petersen, wears ’em, and he’s a stylin’ dude.

Now by “boyhood idol” I mean that Sandy’s like maybe five years older than I am. He’s one of the writers of the Chaosium roleplaying game “Call of Cthulhu” and an expert on insects and disgusting foot diseases, so naturally I’ve striven to be like him in every aspect of my life.  He’s also the creator of a hugely cool Cthulhu boardgame titled “Cthulhu Wars,” which you need to buy RIGHT NOW. (If you do buy a copy, please let Sandy know where you heard about it, so he sends me a free copy or at least some Cthulhu suspenders.)

Army Guys, come quick! There are monsters!

Army Guys, come quick! There are monsters!

But I digress.

Clearly suspenders are cool, but are they correct attire for a professional like myself? Should I get the fat red ones with big green dollar signs, or something in a nice subdued paisley? If someone compliment me on my suspenders do I offer to let them snap one, or is that too intimate?

I’m counting on your guys to guide me here. My wife keeps urging me to dress like I did on “Dancing with the Stars.” That has me worried.

I am a handsome devil, aren't I?

Screw the suspenders. I want that cummerbund.

Dumbness in America

June 6, 2014
"Cracking good cheese, Gromit!"

“Cracking good cheese, Gromit!”

It’s kind of depressing how much dumbness there is in the country today. Seems like everybody in the USA has decided to get really stupid all at once, and I don’t understand why. I kinda got the whole “birther” idiocy – Barack Obama has a funny name and his dad’s Kenyan (and he’s well, you know, a negro, not that there’s anything wrong with that, we’re all for equality and everything, but what if he’s a secret racist and mad at us for that whole slavery thing, not that it’s our fault, but you know about their urges: what if he wants our women?). Anyway, you could understand why certain people were desperate to believe that he wasn’t really our president. It was grossly stupid and moronic and sad and all, but it was understandable.

But as God is my witness, I don’t get the whole climate-change denial thing. That seems to be stupidity without purpose – self-destructive stupidity, as it were.

As John Oliver so eloquently points out, there is no argument against climate change. It’s settled science. It’s like arguing that there is no cheese. Clearly there is cheese. I can show it to you. Everybody knows that there’s cheese except this whole group of bozos who staunchly deny cheese. “I’m no scientist,” says Boehner, “but the debate is far from settled on the existence of cheese. And if we go around believing in alleged cheese, then American jobs will be lost and the American economy will suffer.”

Dude, cheese. It’s real. I got some here, in this pocket. Want a slice? Hello? Hello? STOP DENYING MY CHEESE YOU NITWIT!

Now I certainly understand why the Koch brothers deny my cheese. They’re evil. Acknowledging the existence of cheese – all right, you get the point – climate change – would cost them money. Since they’re evil, they’ll do anything, anything to avoid losing money, including selling out their own grandchildren. It’s part of their charm.

But other folks – nice folks who don’t own oil companies – also deny climate change. Why? It’s insane, senseless. They’re putting the lives of their children and grandchildren at risk, not to mention, I dunno, the whole species. And for what: a couple more years of buying cheap gas and big, dumb cars before the planet starts roasting and Florida goes bye-bye, along with Gramma and Grampa’s condo and a couple million people living in Bangladesh? It’s crazy, I tell ya.

The best explanation I’ve heard is that folks deny climate change because Al Gore warned them about climate change, and they hate Al Gore a lot. Acknowledging climate change would mean admitting that Gore was telling the truth, and they’ll be damned if they’ll give him the satisfaction.

If true, that’s amazingly, mind-bogglingly, grossly stupid. But for the life of me I can think of no other explanation. Can you? I’d love to hear a rational explanation for climate-deniers’ irrational behavior. Drop me a line if you get one.

Once that’s settled we can tackle anti-vaxxers, Jets fans and those characters who feel the need to bring AR-15s into Taco Bell, presumably because there might be commies lurking in the pico de gallo. We’ll have this whole thing sorted out in no time!

In the meanwhile, all this gabbing about cheese has made me hungry. Let’s go eat. Anywhere but Taco Bell, if you don’t mind. Cuz commies.

Violent extremists.

Violent extremists.

Fighting for our freedom! And snacks.

Fighting for our freedom! And snacks.



Home Again, Jiggity-Jig!

April 7, 2014

Hi! Greetings from Rural Pennsylvania! I recently parted company with my beloved San Francisco employer, whose name I will not mention because they may sue me and because I don’t want you firebombing their offices no matter how much they deserve it. Let’s call them STGGCo. (for “Screw Those Guys Game Company”). In the wake of this event, I’ve returned to the ancestral farm in Southern Pennsylvania, where I’ll hang out with my lovely wife, prod the goat, do a little freelancing and ponder my next move employment-wise. For the record, I will not be sacrificing barnyard animals to the Old Ones, begging for vengeance against my enemies.

This is Grace, Director of Naps and Jumping Around Like a Crazy Person

This is Grace, Director of Naps and Jumping Around Like a Crazy Person

While I’m profoundly glad to be home with my wife and I’m certainly not gonna miss working at STGGCo., I AM gonna miss San Francisco a lot. Though rural Pennsylvania has got plenty of cows and trees and horses and dogs and deer and water and ducks and stuff (also my wonderful wife), it is sorely lacking in the areas of sushi, Chinese dumplings, Golden Gate bridges, noodles, disturbing street parades and cable cars. On the positive side, if anybody’s going to be drunk-singing outside of my window at 3 AM on a Sunday night, by God it’s gonna be me*.

Thus far I’ve split my time between setting up my office and helping my wife clean up the farm. It was an incredibly tough winter which I thankfully missed most of (I mean “reluctantly missed”, Honey!), and there are tons of downed trees and stuff that need to be taken care of. This weekend I broke out the chainsaw to get started.

I hate the chainsaw. It’s a dangerous, nasty, and awkward machine designed to get caught in trees and kick back and take your face clean off. It’s also loud and heavy and goes dull after ten minutes of cutting. Because the saw hadn’t been used for over a year, it of course refused to start even after I cursed loudly, shook it, changed out all of the bad gas, checked the spark plug, cursed loudly and shook it again. I pulled that goddamned rope like a zillion times with the choke button in every conceivable position and it sat there, mocking me. Defeated, I was forced to take it down to the True Value in Shrewsbury, telling the man behind the counter, “I don’t know whether it needs a new carburetor or what,” which is the kind of idiotic thing you say when you don’t have a single goddamned idea what you’re talking about.

The True Value man took the chainsaw out back for two minutes and then returned with it, casually saying that he had gotten it started no problem. (Bastard.) He kindly explained the correct starting procedure to me and watched me fumble my way through it successfully, then patted me on the head, gave me a lollipop and sent me on my way. (I love those guys. They always wait until I leave the building before laughing at my incompetence.)

This is Tartan, Director of Dubious Smells in the Night

This is Tartan, Director of Dubious Smells in the Night

I took the chainsaw home and began hacking at the dead trees, not even once pretending that they were the necks of my enemies. It was a productive and kinda enjoyable day back on the farm in which I totally failed to chop my own head off. I call that a victory.

So here I am, at home after a year in darkest California. It was a swell trip, but it’s great to be back. I wish my friends at STGGCo. the best of luck and that they’re out of the office if mighty Cthulhu happens to arise from the ocean and sits on the corporate HQ.

On Thursday.


*Also when I hear shots fired I can pretty safely assume that they’re being fired at deer. And God knows they have it coming to them.

A Night at the Museum

February 23, 2014
The De Young Museum. Nicer on the inside I promise.

The De Young Museum. Nicer on the inside I promise.

It began – as all great stories begin – with a phone call from my wife. “Hi, Darling! What are your plans for today? I hope you’re going out. You spend too much time in that apartment!”

“You know, Honey, it’s been a really tough week. I was thinking of taking it easy, maybe playing some video games, catching a nap…”

“A museum it is, then! Which one are you going to?”

Of course my wife was right. I need to get out more, lest I turn into a total pasty pudding. And I like museums, especially art museums. They’re temperature-controlled and mostly free of hordes of screaming children found at other public venues. And sometimes I even like the art.

So doing the standard level of research – typing “San Francisco museums” into Google maps and tapping on an entry at random, I decided to visit the De Young museum in Golden Gate Park. I hopped on the handy Powell streetcar, rumbled down to Market, and jumped off in search of adventure and coffee and the N train.

I don't know what the hell it is, but it's cool. By some Inuit with a sense of humor.

A boat crewed by humans and I dunno – seals? Pigs? They seem to be getting along.

A quick note: If you’re coming to San Francisco, one of the top food cities in the world, be sure to eat at the Burger King at Powell and Market. I mean it’s not like there aren’t 200 fine restaurants within a quarter-mile of that establishment you cretins. What’s wrong with you people?


I got coffee and a cheese Danish and boarded the glorious N train. Then I cursed and exited at the next stop, because it was going in the wrong direction. Eventually I got on the right goddamned train and headed off toward the museum.

On the train I noticed a couple of young men sitting across from me engaging in what could only be called “spooning.”  I wanted to go over to them and apologize for the fucking asshole homophobic Arizona legislature, but decided against it. Why ruin their day? After a couple of minutes one dude pulled out a liter bottle of Stolichnaya vodka, took a snort and offered one to his swain. He then yanked out a large bag of pot and both began rolling huge doobies. Or fatties. Or maybe they were reefers. I dunno. But they were clearly totally unconcerned that about 25 people were watching them. Presumably they had medical conditions – excessive tumescence, perhaps. Poor bastards.

Cribbage boards. Made out of some material you disapprove of. Suck it up: it's art.

Cribbage boards. Made out of some material you disapprove of. Suck it up: it’s art.

Eventually I reached the designated stop in what I’m claiming is the “Inner Sunset” neighborhood and strode manfully north into Golden Gate Park. Passing the Botanical Gardens and the Japanese Tea Gardens (about both of which I have written elsewhere) I made it to the De Young Museum.

The De Young is a long, low steel-brown building with a vaguely rectangular protuberance atop it, designed (one assumes) by an architect hoping to build the world’s ugliest art museum. On the inside it’s a fine museum, with well-lit galleries and comfortable viewing spaces, but outside it looks like the kind of place where the Germans used slave labor to make tanks in World War II.

Because of my extensive non-preparation, I was surprised to see that the museum was featuring a big Georgia O’Keefe exhibit. Sharp questioning revealed that the exhibit cost 40 bucks to enter and there were no tickets available for an hour. Deciding that if I wanted to pay 40 bucks to see a bunch of vaginas I could always go to the Condor strip club on Broadway*, I declined the O’Keefe show and contented myself with the purchase of a general-entry ticket.

Dead on a highway to heaven? What?

Dead bunny on a highway to heaven? What?

Let me just say for the record that I LOVE THIS MUSEUM. I can only assume that the curator has been secretly reading my mind on what I’d like to see in an art museum and put it into practice. The De Young is not too big, and not too small. It has an eclectic collection of collections, including Modern, Native American, photography, textiles and (Lord knows why) a ton of wonderful stuff from New Guinea.

I started off in a room filled with Inuit sculpture and scrimshaw, then hit a gallery of big, glowy weirdo glass art thingies, then stumbled into a collection of old Peruvian works, then into a horrid room filled with those awful modern things that all seem to consist of squares of grey paint labeled “Reflections on Mortality Number 38.” From there I found myself in an exhibit of sketches and photographs of the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. After that it was upstairs into the wonderful New Guinea art, then into a surprise collection of American primitives and cool-ass old furniture and then out.

Some dudes. With hats.

Some dudes. With hats.

I spent maybe two hours in the De Young and was constantly educated, entertained and amused. Clearly the collector/curator has a wonderful sense of fun, and I would be proud to display most of the pieces in my home. (Except maybe for the many New Guinean carvings of dudes with enormous boners.  They’d probably give me an inferiority complex.)

I took a bunch of pictures which I hope you like. Give me a yell the next time you’re in San Francisco. I’m itching to hook up the boner’d statues with O’Keefe’s vagina pictures. Yowsers.

Wait, what?

Wait, what?

Ancient astronaut.

Ancient astronaut.

This mobile was made from bits of a southern church that was burned by arsonists. Wow.

This mobile was made from bits of a southern church that was destroyed by arsonists. Wow.

He's glad to see you.

He’s glad to see you.

And we end with William Techumseh Sherman. Because why not?

And we end with William Techumseh Sherman. Because why not?


* Just kidding, Honey! Ha, ha!

The Zoo Story

February 7, 2014
Giraffes are cool.

Giraffes are cool.

Long-range relationships are difficult. As many of you may know, I’m working in San Francisco, while my wife is on our farmette in rural Pennsylvania. The other day we had one of those conversations.

Me: Hi, Honey! I just went to the San Francisco zoo! I saw some penguins there – they are sooooo frickin’ cute! OMGeezers! I just want to pick them up and squeeze the li’l fellers! So how are things on the farm?

Her: It’s 20 degrees out and freezing rain.


Her: We have no power.

Me: Oh.

Her: Fritz* pooped in his water bucket. Again. It’s frozen.


Me: That’s too bad, Honey.  Did I mention that I hugged a giant hairy anteater?

Her: You’re dead to me.

At times like these I find it’s best to not gloat too much about how cool it is here in San Francisco because I have to sleep sometime and she knows where I live. But I will state for the record that the SF Zoo is a fun place and I enjoyed my visit. (Perhaps not as much as I’d enjoy chipping our car out of the ice in PA, but it was a good time.) You should check it out.

Some birds. Presumably fighting over manflesh.

Some birds. Presumably fighting over manflesh.

So with love and sympathy to my poor wife who is suffering through a terrible ice storm back in Pennsylvania, here are some pictures from my trip to the SF Zoo. I’m flying in tomorrow, Honey! Save some ice for me!

I did not like the way these birds were looking at me.

I did not like the way these ostriches were looking at me.

Generally, you only see two types of folks at the zoo: parents with young children, and teenagers**. The kids are either trying to throw themselves into the alligator pit or are rightly terrified of these creatures. Here’s an actual conversation I overheard between a dad and his young son.

Dad: Timmy, do you see the Mccaw? It’s sleeping!

Kid: Yeah, can we please go before it wakes up?

The lad clearly understands the perils of hurled poo.

Gorillas. Doing gorilla stuff.

Gorillas. Doing gorilla stuff.

Rhinos are cool.

Rhinos are cool.

The teenagers are almost universally jerkfaces. The boys have clearly determined that the best way to impress their girlfriends is to act like huge assholes, and the girls are too busy texting to give a shit.

Teenage Boy: (Pointing at a giant anteater, shouts) It’s a dick! A huge, hair dick! Hey Michelle! Look at the huge hairy dick!”

Michelle: God, Brad, shut up! I’m texting that bitch Rachel.

Teenage Boy: Seriously! Check it out! It’s a huge hair dick! A huge, hairy, anteating dick! Don’t you see it? Hey Michelle…!

As a rule, all teenagers should be eaten by tigers.

This tiger's waiting for the teenagers to be hurled in.

This tiger’s waiting for the teenagers to be hurled in.

Penguins. Cute - and delicious!

Penguins. Cute – and delicious!

Penguins are adorable and ridiculous. Presumably they survive because anything that tries to eat them is likely to bust out laughing when they get close.

Aww! Want!

Aww! Want!

A mama grizzly. Probably Palin.

A mama grizzly. Probably Palin.

The Zoo was a blast, and I recommend that everybody go visit. Rent a small child to take with you if you don’t have one of your own: they really appreciate this stuff and through their eyes you will too.

I also got to see the Pacific Ocean, which looked chilly and very wet. There were crazy dudes with surfboards out there waiting for the big one. I watched to see if they caught a wave or got eaten by a giant squid, but nothing happened.  so after about 30 minutes I left. The whole thing was sandy and anticlimactic. But all in all it was a great day and I wish my wife had been here to share it.

Tomorrow I’m off to Pennsylvania to help chip ice and yell at the power company. That should be fun too!

“Hey, Honey! That icicle looks like a  huge dick, doesn’t it? Hey!”


*Fritz the horse. Who did you think it was?

**And rarely, creepy old dudes with cameras.

A Bridge Too Far – My Walk to the Golden Gate

January 27, 2014
Seriously. Say something cynical here. I dare you.

Seriously. Say something cynical here. I dare you.

When engaging in an epic journey – say, walking to the Golden Gate Bridge from your bijou Nob Hill room – it’s best to do no planning whatsoever. Instead, you climb out of bed around 11 am on a Saturday and stumble toward the nearest Starbucks. On the way you vaguely remember that you thought about going to see the Golden Gate Bridge today – and since the Starbucks is in the same general direction as the bridge, what the hell. This is exactly how Bilbo Baggins began his journey in The Hobbit, and that worked out pretty well for everybody involved, did it not?

Nobody goes to the Fisherman’s Wharf Starbucks any more: it’s too crowded*. But I was desperate for caffeine so I elbowed my way in through the cow-like herd of tourists and stood in line for 15 minutes, eventually emerging triumphantly with a cup of coffee and a blueberry scone. This would be my entire sustenance for the upcoming journey (unless there happened to be a noodle shop or burger joint or something along the way, or maybe ice cream).

A tall ship and Alcatraz. Now they're just rubbing it in.

A tall ship and Alcatraz. Now they’re just rubbing it in.

Checking my phone’s Google Maps, I was somewhat taken aback to learn that the Golden Gate Bridge was some 4.5 miles away, plus another half-mile to the middle of the bridge itself. But I was committed, so I followed the trusty blue line west along Bay Street. I marched up a hill, then down a hill, then up another one. I was getting winded, so I sat down on a nearby park bench to finish my coffee and check progress.

By my calculations I had gone about one-and-a-half miles. By Google Maps’ calculations I had done half that. Grumbling like an old dog, I levered myself up and proceeded on my way, snapping pictures and frightening women and small children I met along the way.

As I’ve stated before, San Francisco is goddamned picturesque. I passed steep hills leading down to tall ships anchored in the bay, with Alcatraz squatting off in the distance. There are mysterious stairs leading up to mysterious stucco houses in-between big old Victorian row homes. There are murals on chain drug store fences. There are doggies.

It's January.

It’s January.

And there are joggers. And cyclists, whom you quickly grow to hate with a cold, deadly passion. As you get closer to the Bridge, you enter prime biking/jogging terrain. And because you’re heading toward one of the top 10 coolest objects on the continent, many of the cyclists are tourists, with limited grasp of the rules of the road or common courtesy.

There’s nothing more invitorating than being rammed in the back by a wobbly European mom on a bike.

Me: “Ow.”

Mother: “Gabble, gabble, gabble,” gesticulate wildly.

Daughter: “[Oh God you hit this bald fat guy. I wish I was dead. Why do you always embarrass me? Can we go back to the hotel now?]”

Me: “That’s all right. I’m fine. Please go away now. Thank you.”

Mother: “Gabble, gabble, gabble.” Smile, wave, wobble off.

Daughter: Adjusts earbuds, looks at me as if I’m an insect, follows her mom into the sunset.

Boats. It's January.

Boats. It’s January.

Despite the peril, I was enjoying myself. There was lots to look at, including water, boats, islands in the distance, marinas, the bridge itself, more doggies and tourists. I took many terrible photos and was happily distracted from the increasing pain in my feet.

The area being surprisingly bereft of convenience stores and bars and pizza joints the like, I found a terrifying water fountain to drink from and kept moving. I could see that I was making progress. The bridge was definitely getting bigger, and the tourists more dangerous. Eventually I reached the part of town which had at one time been the Presidio, a big military base which originally defended San Francisco from Japan and Mexico and Canada I guess, but which had recently been abandoned and turned over to the civilians. The area is an odd mixture of construction, shabby old Quonset huts, scrubland, shoreline and sandy parks filled with doggies and huge sculptures by some guy who makes huge sculptures.

The first thing I think when I see this is, "Gosh, what a great place this would be to dump a body." What's wrong with me?!

The first thing I think when I see this is, “Gosh, what a great place this would be to dump a body.” What’s wrong with me?!

The bridge was definitely closer now. In fact you could reasonably say that it was “looming.” Which was good, because I could feel impending blisterage. I wandered down toward the water and around some old military buildings, where I was surprised by a buncha dudes in Civil War-era garb marching purposefully somewhere. They seemed hilariously out of place here, but they were carrying bayonets, so I hooted “huzzah!” respectfully and went on my way.

I climbed up a stairway which led up through some bushy scrub to the entrance to the bridge itself. There were flowers blooming in late January, and things being fragrant, with the water twinkling an alarming distance below me. It was pretty beautiful.


Up close, the Golden Gate Bridge is still frickin’ breathtaking. It’s a beautiful dark red color, and it frames the bay on one side and the Pacific on the other. Geometric shapes and graceful curves soar up into the heavens, and under your feet the whole thing thrums with a mighty thrumminess. Not even the terrible, terrible tourists gone amok on bicycles can ruin the experience. I marched to the middle of the bridge and took a lot of photos of stuff and gawked.  I was on the Bay side of the Bridge (it’s impossible to cross to the Pacific side while you’re on it unless you’re insane) so I got lots of pictures of the city and bay and Alcatraz, but not so many of the Pacific. That’ll have to wait until next time.


By then I had been walking for two-three hours and it was getting late. I turned around and headed the five long miles back home.

I haven’t got much to say about the trip back except “ow.” I saw some cool things and stuff, but it was getting dark and I was kind of busy discovering new places to be sore.


It was a great adventure and I’ll do it again, once these blisters heal. Except maybe the next time there will be a taxi involved. Or I’ll rent a bike and do some damage of my own. Stay classy, San Francisco. I shall return.



*Thanks, Yogi Berra!

Dog Day Afternoon

January 23, 2014
A deadly Cujo in its natural environment.

A deadly Cujo in its natural environment.

I’ve recently moved into a new office, where I’m surrounded by a vaguely terrifying number of dogs I refer to collectively and individually as “Cujo” since I can never remember their names. There’s a tiny little Chihuahua behind me, a hairy creature with one bad leg, who demands to be picked up and ruffled and who in return licks every part of you he can reach. Little Cujo is about as frickin’ cute as they get.

Cujo is firm friends with Cujo, the black, curly-haired cockapoo-looking fellow two desks down who is actually quite standoffish to humans that he hasn’t been formally introduced to. On the other side of me is Cujo, a stylin’ min-pin bitch who is a total scritch-ho and who will have a partially-consumed sammich out of the trashcan before you can blink.

There are other Cujos around the office, but these are the closest. They’re fairly well-behaved, but will occasionally start barking if their owners are locked away in meetings that the dogs haven’t been invited to. Then you can either go over and distract the dog or drag the owner out of the conference room, depending upon how big and important the meeting is and much you feel like humiliating them in front of their bosses.

While these local dogs are fun to hang out with, they also remind me of my family’s own animals, across the country in darkest Pennsylvania with my wife. I miss ‘em a lot.

Speaking of which, my wife has recently acquired a kitten. “Timmy” was abandoned by some asshole in the woods around our property, and she found him in the barn, lounging insouciantly atop one of her horses. She took Timmy off to the vet for medical treatment and then brought him home, where he has pretty thoroughly captured her heart.



Timmy spends the evenings in my wife’s bedroom. His primary occupations are zooming around wildly, locking dogs in the bathroom, jumping on people’s heads and licking my wife’s armpit, which totally grosses her out. Sometimes Timmy wakes my wife up by licking in her nostrils while she sleeps. Such actions would earn from me an immediate induction for Timmy into the kitty space program, but my wife is smitten.

Timmy likes to sit on our PS3 to watch Australian Open tennis on the big screen TV. He tries to whack the ball as it goes by, and he really has it in for the text crawl on the bottom of the screen. He falls off the PS3 from time to time when the action gets too fierce, particularly when Rafael Nadal is playing. (Or maybe that’s my wife falling out of bed. I get confused.)

We really don’t need another pet around, but Timmy is doing an excellent job of keeping my wife company while I’m off in an enemy time zone elsewhere in the world. He’s friendly and outgoing and totally fearless around the several zillion or so pointers who roam our halls. And, as I said, my wife is smitten. So I think we’re stuck with him, which is all right with me.

Maybe someday he can come here to visit. I’ll take him into work, where he can lock all of the dogs in the bathroom and jump on my co-workers’ heads while I’m in a meeting. That’ll teach ‘em a valuable lesson.

All the Rage

December 10, 2013
I'd totally take a selfie with that. Well-played, Mr. President!

I’d totally take a selfie with that. Well-played, Mr. President!

I’m angry. It’s 20 degrees back home in Pennsylvania and snowing, but that’s not what I’m angry about. My wife, who is stuck on the farm with her horses, dogs and goat is pretty pissed about the weather, but I’m 3000 miles away in San Francisco, so in all honesty it’s hard for me to be really enraged. Let’s just say that I’m enraged by proxy.

Two of my three fantasy football teams are out of the running, but that doesn’t particularly infuriate me.  I can shift the blame for these losses on the lame new NFL rules that make players sit out games merely because they’ve suffered brain trauma. Goddamned sissies are ruining the game.

I’m far away from many of my friends and family. That sucks, but I’ll be heading home soon for an extended stay, so that doesn’t anger me so much as it makes me impatient. There will be cookies!

There’s war and poverty and illness and inequality and death and stuff like that, but that’s life, right? If you went around being angry over that stuff, your heart would wither and you’d end up looking like Dick Cheney’s daughter*. Screw that noise.

No. You know what really pisses me off? President Obama shook hands with Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. And he took a selfie with the hot Denmark Prime Minister. Goddamned dude ruined the funeral.

Of course Mandela was a commie terrorist anyway, so this whole “world mourns the death of a great man” nonsense is overblown, but still. Obama should have treated the whole thing with more respect. Dude destroys America’s reputation wherever he goes.

Mary Cheney, Dick Cheney's daughter from the evil Star Trek universe.

Mary Cheney, Dick Cheney’s daughter from the evil Star Trek universe.

It’s like when he kissed that Saudi Prince. Talk about inappropriate.

Oh wait, that was Bush II.

Or when he barfed on the lap of the Japanese Prime Minister.

Bush I? Really?


But he did shake hands with admitted Commie and mass murderer Mao Zedong, right?

That was Nixon? What the fuck.

How about trading arms to Iran for hostages…? No. Reagan, huh? Shit.

Anyway, Obama’s a total disgrace, and he’s ruined the entire Christmas holiday. Which, incidentally he’s declared war on by angering the Israelis or something.

But it’s not all bad news. This latest outrage does give me something new to be angry about since the ACA website appears to be working better and unemployment is at the lowest level in five years, so I need to change the subject fast.

Frankly, if Obama hadn’t done this totally outrageous and terrible thing I would have had to make it up.


*The mean one from the evil Star Trek universe. The daughter with the goatee.