Heavy hang the boughs outside the window; the snow scurries in the glow of the streetlights, the fireplace crackles, and everything’s set for a perfectly wonderful Christmas. Of course it is not Christmas but April; I made the decision last week to commit to a Bleat banner that had some springlike hues, thinking: surely this year won’t be like the last. Next week’s banner is even more springlike, so I expect blizzards to pound the state daily like the Guns of Navarone.

I think I saw that movie. Don’t know. It was an Event movie when I was a kid, like “Ice Station Zebra,” but I remember nothing - no, strike that. Enormous guns toppling into the sea at the end. Sorry, spoilers. I’m listening to an audiobook version in the AM to keep my brain diverted while doing rote chores. The minute I heard the voice of a hearty laughing Greek guy who called everyone Friend and had a delightful lust for life I knew he was the turncoat in the special-forces group. I might be wrong, but it’s the Bear-Like Merry Sensualist Foreigner Effect. (Ernest Borgnine played that role in “Ice Station Zebra.”) The foreigners who are the most like us and yet an exaggeration of the attributes we ascribe to their culture, we like, and because we like them and see parallels to our own culture, the betrayal is all the sharper and unexpected.

This was replaced by another trope: the guy who’s the most decent and patriotic and upstanding is the villain, because such values in their most simply demonstrated form are a sign of pathology, really.

Today was simple. Worked from home. Wrote the work blog, filed the column, did an interview for the fortnightly profile obligation. Some guy named “Mike Nelson” who does this thing called “Rifftrax” and used to have a show called “3000 Mysteries Theater” or something. I felt bad for him because he was on TV once and now it’s like, just internet stuff. Had to be gentle. (KIDDING.) (CRIMNEY.) Did a radio interview, then realized: hey, I can leave the house now, if I want. Went to the grocery store to get salad. Now: about a year ago they replaced the take-out salad clamshells with something incapable of closing securely. There was a trick to snapping the lid tight. There should never be a trick. So the clerks would always secure the clamshell with a rubber band when you checked out, and that was fine; we go through periods when we have SO MANY RUBBER BANDS and then, for reasons no human can discern, there aren’t any. You don’t remember using any. But they’re gone. None to be had. So you buy a bag at Office Staples: 500 rubber bands! My God, a lifetime’s worth. Two years later you’re looking for the rubber bands, and remember you bought a bag, and it’s probably down in the tertiary supply depot downstairs.

And then you use one and it snaps. Well, no problem; I have 499 more. The next one snaps. They all snap. They’re all brittle. And so you go from 500 to zero.

So the bad clamshells meant a steady supply of rubber bands. But a few months ago the grocery store switched clamshells. These lock. Tight. Put them in a Tilt-O-Whirl and they stay closed. Strap them to an ICBM and they won’t open.

Yet the clerk put a rubber band around it. Cold-hosed monkeys. You don’t have to do that, I said. The old ones, yes, but the new ones stay closed.

Oh! she said. And she took off the rubber band. I wanted to say “well, hold on, I think I’m low on rubber bands,” but the simple act of getting salad should not be connected with utility drawer rubber-band levels. These things need to be separated once and for all.

Now. There’s a cup of rubber bands at the salad bar by the clamshells. I could, if I wanted, just put one on the salad container to accumulate the rubber bands I need until home stocks are repleted, but that would be wrong now, because I know they are not needed. It’s one of those small ethical things that drives you nuts, no? Like:

The deli has packets of really good horseradish, but you shouldn’t take one if you’re not buying deli meats. Oh, you can, but you oughtn’t. You can, however, take one if you bought a pre-made sandwich. That’s easy.

Is it ethical to take a sample of something you have no intention of buying? Samples are meant to introduce you to new products in the hopes you’ll try them. Every week there’s someone offering crackers and a smear of some Stonewall Kitchen product. I know in my heart I will never buy anything from Stonewall Kitichen - not because it’s not good; it’s delicious. Not because the packaging is ugly; it’ll do. It’s just expensive. I suppose I could just cruise by and lift something from the table, but I always feel compelled to say it was good and thank the product demonstrator for the sample and make them feel as if I am interested in purchasing the item.

At another grocery store the other day the demonstrator, whom I know from years of interaction, tried to give me some extra cookies. These were the ones she’d be putting out next hour, but hey, here you go. No! Don’t! Cookies! I’ll get fat - what did you say? Root Beer Cookies? I have to try that.

I walked away with three cookies, which I put in my pocket, forgot, and ended up standing outside with my jacket pocket turned inside out. The curse of America: my garment is befouled by excess free confections.

I prefer the unattended displays of cheese, where you spear a small cube with a toothpick. Honor system: you will not take three cubes. Or fifteen. I took two once and my daughter upbraided me.

“They stuck together,” I said.

“Uh huh sure.”

Well, they did.

Anyway. I did not get a rubber band. I got in the car, headed home, was paused at a light by the wonderful Libations Store, and considered whether I needed something. No, but that doesn’t matter. Went in to get something, and of course: SAMPLES. They have about a hundred bottles in various stages of depletion, and you can ask to try anything. Anything. I never do, because I know what I like, and while I’m sure I’d really like the show-pony single malts and the rest, STONEWALL KITCHEN. I’m not going to spend that much for whisky.

I did, once. The bottles are in the tertiary supply area, waiting for the day when a world leader drops by and I ask if anyone’s up for the 37-year old MacLagulhchian. You know, the one aged in casks made from the wood ribs of WW2 “Battle of Britain” fighter planes. This is the stuff reserved for really good news or really bad news. But more to the point, I don’t drink a jot before 9; empty stomach, a splash of the boon of the cask, and the internal gyroscope wobbles. No thanks.

To my relief, no employee was standing by the display of hooch offering free expensive whisky.

When I got home I made dinner and waited for wife. During the meal daughter texted from Japan, and I asked if she was homesick, hoping she wasn’t. She not only wasn’t homesick, she didn’t want to come back, which was more of a wide pendulum swing than I would have preferred. I texted that we would rent out her room and she said that was fine.

Returned to dinnertime conversation with wife, who is reading Alan Dershowitz’ autobiography, and had a conversion about how good SCOTUS rulings set precedents that lead to bad SCOTUS rulings. She liked the dinner: Cajun chicken fettuccine. Bought it at Trader Joe’s.

After I had a sample.




Oh, I wish I had more, but at least I have something new. This week's "Couple Next Door" radio show - and hey, wouldn't it be great to hear that on your satellite Old Time Radio channel? Gosh, wonder if that'll ever happen - continues the trip to England. Will we get English-flavored music cues? Let us see!


CND Cue #357 Oh this crazy world of ours; one must just wade in and make sense of it.

CND Cue #358 How to conclude without really saying anything, except “it’s over, and wasn’t that fun?”

CND Cue #359 A repeat, but don’t you think the end would be a good sound for a “mail sent” ringtone? I'm working on it.

CND Cue #360 Circus music, perhaps, but useful for madcap adventures as well.

CND Cue #361 If John Barry wrote library music. We’re in England now, and finally get some different cues.

CND Cue #362 Quick, pal, give me something Tudory! These are two excerpts stitched together.

CND Cue #363 Sorry, my mistake; this is the cue I stiched to #362. NEVER MIND

CND Cue #364 Warbly recording from the Melancholic England set of cues. This was all they used.

CND Cue #365 Suitable for England, or college graduations!



Give books! Give the Reds some pushback!

Of course, all their books were horrible.


Updates on the right - Patriotica ads, and a NEW COLUMN at the newspaper. Here. (Scroll down to the Columnists pane; when I did this it hadn't posted yet.) Have a grand weekend! 



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