A Little Prick

Before I forget, everyone go here and subscribe. You won’t regret it. (Although she might.)

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I took a picture* of NewWifey(tm) a couple of weeks before Christmas.

Yes, those are all hers:

TROPHY WIFE FOCUS STACK 9-Pictures

Yeah, I’m hittin’ that.

The title of my blog, “Dangerspouse Rides Again”, is no mere homage to old timey Westerns. When I first started this mess I was actively, avidly, racing motorcycles practically every weekend that I wasn’t working or in jail. As was NewWifey(tm).

A brief retelling here, in case you don’t know the backstory: I met NewWifey(tm) in a motorcycle racing chat room. She had recently taken up the sport, while I was a seasoned veteran (my dad, a factory racer and multi-discipline champion, had me riding by the time I was 4, racing by 11).

She fell under the spell of my writing prowess and blatant lies, and in the late 90’s moved from the Midwest to my (then) bachelor pad to start a new life. When she discovered that I was sleeping on a mattress in my walk-in closet because my bedroom had been converted into a garage for my motorcycles and she didn’t bat an eye, I knew I’d found my soulmate. In 1999 we purchased a proper house with a proper garage, and two years later we were married.

On our bikes, of course:

Wedding 2001 front

(She’s holding up the hem of her dress to show off the grease stain that resulted from it getting caught in the chain as soon as she dropped the clutch. Didn’t phase her a bit.)

We raced together through most of the ‘aughts, she collecting three Womens Class Champion belts along the way.

However the last half decade or so has seen a real riding dry spell. Between my two elbow reconstruction surgeries and her starting a small business we haven’t even started our bikes, let alone raced them. So on New Years Day we each resolved to make time in the coming year to at least get some serious practice in, if not enter an actual event. One of us – and I’m not saying which one – also resolved to lose at least some of the weight he put on while recovering from two elbow surgeries, since his bike might not be strong enough to haul around his current tonnage.

Why am I tell you all this in a post about little pricks? It’s actually germane to the story. See, the type of racing we do is called “trials”, and trials is a sport that relies more on balance and control than speed. Riders try to gracefully navigate difficult terrain without putting their feet down or crashing like a fucking nob. (All of those clips are of me, btw.)

People who are good at trials have incredible balance. I can walk a tightrope while eating a sandwich and doing the NY Times crossword puzzle. (Ok, that’s an exaggeration. Make that, “and doing the Highlights Magazine ‘Spot the 6 Differences!’ puzzle.”) NewWifey(tm) can wash and fold my laundry while balanced on a giant ball like one of those circus seals.

So imagine my surprise when I arrived home from work the other day to find her flat on her back, both legs propped up on pillows and an ice pack on each knee.

“I fell” she said.

You don’t fall” I said. “You’re a trials rider.”

“Yeah, well, this trials rider never waxed a Pergo laminate floor in wool socks before. I splayed like a 10 year old Asian pole dancer as soon as I stepped off the rug. It was worse than that time you bought the sex chair home and turned the ratchet the wrong way.”

Ouch. Nailed both knees, huh?”

“And my head. Went down hard face first.”

Just like that sex chair.

“When I can get up I’m going to stick a knife in you.”

Ok, ok. Lemme see.”

I gingerly lifted each ice pack off. Her left knee was a rather cheery pink, but otherwise looked none the worse for it. But her right knee rather alarmingly resembled an overinflated rugby ball, except larger.

Then she parted her bangs. There was a round blue ice pack on her forehead.

I’m just going to take this ice pack off for a second” I said.

“I don’t have an ice pack on my head” she said.

That’s when we drove to the hospital.

When the nurse saw the ziggurat on NewWifey(tm)’s head she didn’t even bother with the mandatory open-back gown, just gave her an express ticket to the x-ray machine where they zapped both knees and everything above her sternum. I stayed behind in a hard plastic seat.

Twenty minutes later they wheeled NewWifey(tm) back in a gurney. Two minutes after that a haggard looking doctor came in carrying a clipboard and a folder of x-rays. He didn’t waste time.

You’ve got a fluid buildup on your right knee but there’s no structural damage. I’m sending someone in to drain it. You have a loss of cervical curve, an impingement probably from the same, and pretty severe arthritis in the neck possibly from an old fracture we found. There’s the possibility you may have carotid sinus syndrome from this, so you need to schedule an MRI. If you start feeling faint when you raise your arms or tilt your head back that’s what it is. I don’t see signs of concussion.”

And with that he walked out. I don’t think he looked up from the clipboard once.

NewWifey(tm) lay there stunned, trying to make sense of the medical tsunami that was just shotgunned into her. I could tell she had a thousand questions, but all she managed was, “From wool socks…?”

I had questions too, like ‘is she gonna live?‘. But before I could ask, another white coat walked in. This one was carrying a baseball bat.

“Actually, it’s a syringe” she told me. “I’m going to drain the fluid off her knee.” She turned to NewWifey(tm), who’s eyes were trying to escape her skull out the front. “Now, you’re going to feel a little prick….”

With that, NewWifey(tm) passed out cold.

Uh, Miss” I said, “when she comes to, try a different phrase. See, whenever I say that to her it means…

NewWifey(tm) came to. “IT’S NOT GONNA FIT!” she screamed.

The nurse patted her on the head. “It’s ok, honey. I’m sticking this in your knee. Not anywhere else.”

And so she did. That Louisville Slugger of a syringe went in probably 9 times, each time withdrawing enough fluid to save a least one burning Australian koala. The final amount would have made Susan Smith smile. An orderly carted away the tub and the nurse handed NewWifey(tm) a prescription for some steroids and a course of physical therapy.

Then she turned to me. “Mr. Spouse. It’s perhaps lucky that your wife hit her head like that, or we might not have done an x-ray on her neck and found these other problems. Until we get the MRI results back we won’t know how serious they are, so until then see that your wife doesn’t do anything strenuous.”

Does that include racing motorcycles?

“That depends. Is it a motorcycle racing video game?”

No. It’s motorcycles.”

“Then, no.”

Can she still do laundry? I can never get my underwear really white for some reason.

She shot me a look.

Ok, ok” I said. “No laundry. Got it.

“Oh, and one other thing” she said. “That little prick in her knee better be the only little prick she gets until we have those results. Understand, Mr. Spouse?” She didn’t wait for an answer, just turned and left. Not that I had an answer.

Gaah! Stupid wool socks. I hope that sheep suffered.

So that’s where we stand. NewWifey(tm) just had her MRI. We’ll get the results Wednesday, and plot a course of action then. Best case scenario: physical therapy will restore some curve to her neck bones, which in turn will ease the arthritis and impingement, and stop the carotid syncope danger. Worst case: uh…it won’t. I’ll have to wear dingy grey underwear the rest of my life.

And of course she also wouldn’t be able to keep her New Year’s Resolution to ride this year, if that’s the case. But that’s ok since I can still ride, and that’s all that matters when you’re a little prick.

Ok, I’m off to shop for a Real Doll to carry me through this dry spell. Have a good night, kids. And remember: cotton socks save lives. And knees and necks and pricks.

Ciao!

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This, for a certain small hedgehog:

Mercury 2 resize

I have a near comprehensive collection of NatLamps, right back to Issue #1 (including the famous “We’ll Kill This Dog” issue.) I chose this one because of the cover, which seems eerily prescient now:

NatLamp Cover resize

Of course in 1972 the Vietnam War, including China’s involvement in same, was all the rage. So that’s what this cover art is probably referencing. But still…eerie….

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*I’ve really been upping my photography game over the last year, winning some online competitions and even landing a small side-gig. For you nerds, this picture of NewWifey(tm) is an 8-image focus stack, shot through an 18mm at floor level. I’ve got some post processing artifacts (around the throttle and the right side of her helmet) to clean up, but otherwise it came out well enough that it won a focus stack competition last month. Not bad for a little prick.

Game On!

Dining Room Christmas 2019 resize

NewWifey(tm) certainly knows how to decorate a dining room for Christmas, doesn’t she? Shame we had no one to share it with.

It’s probably for the best, though. Imagine sitting down in a festive space like that (and when we set the table we used those gold chargers in the china cabinet, Christmas themed china, crystal stemware, a Baccarat decanter for the wine, and the good sporks) and being served a wedge of Stouffer’s frozen lasagna (“with 2X the meat required by the Lasagna With Meat Sauce Standard!“) from a cardboard tub. The disconnect would be painful.

Oh well. It was pretty, the wine was good, we had a loop of cheesy Christmas carols bellowing from the stereo,  and best of all: the drunken after-dinner sex on/under the table didn’t startle our guests this year.

Then we opened presents. I gave NewWifey(tm) a Chia Head and an IOU. She gave me a chair to replace the ottoman I perch on when I watch porn on the computer.

After the insincere “Oh, you shouldn’t have!“s and the careful re-folding of  wrapping paper so we could use it again next year, we poured ourselves another Dr. McGillicuddy’s Butterscotch Schnapps and settled in to watch “A Muppet’s Christmas Carol”.

But just as the opening song came to an end and Fozzy was about to tell us that Marley was dead, to begin with, there was a knock on the door. NewWifey(tm) peeked out the bay window.

It’s Bunny!” she said.

“Quick, turn the tree and the stereo off!” I hissed. “Pretend we’re not here. She’s an affront to god!”

I HEARD THAT!” came a bellow from the other side of the door. “LET ME IN! I HAVE PRESENTS.”

Bunny, you may recall, is my very good buddy who I helped when she was transitioning from male to female. The one who’s vagina she insisted on showing me.

“Oh, alright” I said. “As long as you have presents. Honey, let the freak of nature in.”

NewWifey(tm) opened the door, and Bunny bounced in lugging a fur-trimmed red sack with a bunch of presents poking out the top. She smelled like cinnamon.

You guys getting ready to watch the Muppets?” she said.

NewWifey(tm) pointed to the paused screen.

Bunny nodded. “Mind if I watch with you?

“Yes, I do” I said. She plopped down on the couch anyway.

Do you have any fruitcake?” she asked.

“No” I said.

Dr. McGillicuddy?

“Bunny” I said, “you said you had presents?”

Oh yeah!” she opened her sack. Out came a large rectangular box and several smaller ones for me, and NewWifey(tm) got passed a large flat box…and several smaller ones. “Merry Christmas!

We tore into them.

NewWifey(tm) got some typical girly crap: a Lenovo Thinkpad laptop computer, a Kindle, some clothes or something, and jewelry. You know, junk.

But I scored. Big time:

Christmas2020 Bunny Swag! (1 of 1)

THIS IS BETTER THAN THE PONY!! *

“Dude” I said, “I know we’ve been bu -”

She stopped me. “I told you, it’s not ‘dude’. You’ve seen my vagina. I’m a chick. Make that mistake again and I’ll knock your teeth out.

“Sorry” I said. “Babe, I know we’ve been buddies for a long time, but…what the fuck? I didn’t get this much stuff at my wedding!”

Well” she said, “I really, really wanted to thank you for opening your home to me when I needed a place to recover after my surgeries. Plus, I couldn’t stand playing your goddam PLAYSTATION 2 that I can’t believe you’re still limping along with. If I ever have to stay here again I need a system that won’t make me feel like Lady Macbeth when I’m done playing.”

I gave her a hug, copped a quick feel, then brought her out a half pound slab of fruitcake and a mug of Dr. MacGillicuddy’s finest. Then we all sat and watched Michael Caine and Fozzie Bear and Rizzo (my spirit animal) and Miss Piggy and Kermit and a bunch of chickens, mice, and penguins (plus one dead goose and a dead turkey…some animals are more equal than others even in Muppetland, I guess) dance and skate and sing their way through Dicken’s moralist tale of –

Ah, fuck it. We watched “A Muppet’s Christmas Carol” and got blitzed on syrupy booze and fruitcake.

God bless us, every one.

G’night, kids. Figgy pudding.

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Picture Supplement

I brought my camera and tripod to work with me Christmas morning and took a few shots out our kitchen window of the Manhattan skyline just before, and just after, dawn. Normally a setup like that would get in the way of announcers bolting in and out for life giving coffee and Little Debbie Cakes. But there was only a skeleton crew on that day, so I went for it.

I had to work Christmas morning and it sucked. But I do like these pictures.

Downtown, Freedom Tower and Battery:

Night City Skyline X-Mas (1 of 1)

Midtown, with Empire State Building:

Christmas Morning Midtown from work (1 of 1)

Same:

Christmas Morning Midtown Dawn (1 of 1)

It’s too bad I’ll never use my camera again. But I mean who would, when….

Christmas2020 Bunny Swag! (1 of 1)

Ciao!

* That last item in the lower right will be the subject of a not-too-distant future entry. If you like stories about fat, middle aged radio announcers obsessed with Japanese girls in maid outfits who shred, you’re not gonna want to miss it.

 

The Lasagna With Meat Sauce Board of Standards Wins Christmas!

NewWifey(tm) got a letter from her mother this morning:

Animal Crossing Dead Hamster

Yes, NewWifey(tm) named her Animal Crossing character “Soylent”. I’m pretty sure she’s trying to give me a hint. (Some pretty dark stuff pops up in that universe. One note I found on the beach said, “If you’re reading this, it’s too late for me. Please see that Mary and the kids are taken care of.” Another said, “Right now I’m writing to you from far, far away. (signed) Your Conscience“. Rather grim sentiments for a game targeting 8 year old girls. And me.)

So tomorrow is Christmas. I hope you finally get that pony this year. (And if you do, drop me a note. I’ve got some great recipes).

Me? I had the forethought to request the day off months ago, so earlier this week I bought a ton of classic holiday foodstuffs (spent 3 days making a demi-glace from 10 pounds of bones for a sauce for the crown roast!), wrapped all my presents and put them under the tree THAT I DECORATED, set up a timer so the Yule Log Christmas Soundtrack will blast us out of bed at 6am, put two bottles of Pol Roger NV Champagne to chill in the fridge for breakfast, and purchased a fresh tub of KY Warming Gel for our traditional after-breakfast festivities. Santa may come but once a year, but that doesn’t mean we have to.

And then my boss called yesterday.

They’re shorthanded. I have to work Christmas.

Again.

Shit.

The worst part was breaking the news to NewWifey(tm).

“So…no morning boink?”

I’m sorry. It’ll have to be an afternoon boink this year. And you’ll have to start cooking the feast for me. I won’t be home til 2, earliest.

She stared at me as if I’d asked her to perform ambulatory brain surgery on herself. “Cook? A crown roast?”

It’s actually pretty easy” I said, “All you have to do is French the bone ends, then get some butcher’s twine and –

With that she turned, grabbed her car keys, and took off down the street. I kid you not, she was out the door before I even finished the sentence.

A half hour later she returned and slammed a grocery bag on the counter.

“We’re having lasagna for Christmas.”

I opened the bag. Yup, there was a lasagna in there alright. A frozen one, “Now with 2X the meat required by the Lasagna With Meat Sauce Standard”. (Huh?)

That’s not very festive” I said.

“Wait here” she said.

30 seconds later…

“There. Now it’s festive”:

Christmas Frozen Lasagna.jpg

Yeah, it sure is.

Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you get to unwrap someone nice under your tree tomorrow.

And…just in case:

Swedish Horseballs

Horseballs
  • 1⅓ Ib (600 g) of ground horse meat
  • 2 Tablespoons of breadcrumbs
  • 3 Tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of beef stock
  • 2 Tablespoons of dark beer
  • 1 Onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Cream Sauce
  • ½ Cup of beef stock
  • 1½ Cup of heavy cream
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • 1 Small knob of organic butter
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of corn starch, mixed with a little cold water
Mashed Potatoes
  • 2 Ib of potatoes
  • ½ Cup of warm milk (you might not need it all)
  • 3 Tablespoons of organic butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Pickled Cucumber
  • Cucumber
  • Cup of Vinegar
  • Cup of Water
  • Tablespoon of salt
  • ⅓ Cup of sugar
  • 1 Bay leaf
Lingonberry Jam
  • 1½ Cups of lingonberries
  • 1½ Cups of sugar
Garnish
  • A few sprigs of dill
Instructions
For the cucumber
  1. Start by preparing the pickled cucumber. Mix water, sugar, salt and vinegar in a large bowl. Whisk until sugar and salt is disolved completely. Finely slice the cucumber, and add to the bowl. Make sure they are completely covered by the fluid. Add bayleaf, and put in the refridgerator for at least one hour.
For the lingonberry jam
  1. Rinse the lingonberries thoroughly and put them in a bowl. Pour in the sugar, and gently stir until sugar is disolved. Store in the refridgerator until serving.
For the horseballs
  1. Peel and grate the onion coarsely. Then gently fry it on a medium warm pan together with a little bit of butter until golden brown.
  2. In a bowl, mix bread crumbs, heavy cream, beer and stock. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  3. Place the ground horse meat in a large bowl, add the browned onions and the beer / bread mixture . Season with salt and pepper, and mix together well. Leave for 10 minutes.
  4. Roll the meat into small balls with a diameter of roughly one inch. Fry them in batches together with a little butter or sunflower oil. They are ready when they are slightly crispy on the outside. Set aside while making the sauce.
For the sauce
  1. Deglace the frying pan with a littlewater and add the stock. Reduce by half, and then add the cream. Bring to a simmer, and thicken with butter and corn starch. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Taste and season it with salt, sugar and white pepper.
  3. Add the meatballs to the sauce, or serve them separately.
For the potatoes
  1. Peel the potatoes and boil them in salted water until soft. Pass through a sieve into a large bowl to get the finest and smoothest mash. Add the butter, and then the milk slowly as you whisk the potatoes. Do not add ALL milk at once, you might not need more than just a few drops, depending on what potato you are using. Season with salt and add more butter if you want a creamier taste.
Plating
  1. Garnish with dill
(If it’s not possible to get a hold of lingonberries, or lingonberry jam you can substitute red currant jelly. It’s not the same, but it works.)

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Sally forth!

Wait, what was I saying? Oh yeah. Food shows.

If you weren’t already aware, the greatest amateur baker on the internet is, and has been for some time, Sally from Bewitching Kitchen. She’s so good that she has the unparalleled honor of being one of the only two cooking blogs I list in my “Favorites” column. That places her just one rung below god and porn stars on any scale which measures talent.

Here’s how talented she is. When the producers of the mega-hit TV series “Great British Bake Off” decided to produce a holiday edition featuring Americans – called, strangely, “The Great American Bake Off: Holiday Edition” – Sally was chosen to be one of the competitors on the show. That’s right. Her reputation traveled all the way to the producers in England. That’s how talented she is.

Heartbreakingly, after COMING IN FIRST IN THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE on Day 1, Sally apparently piqued the ire of the cooking gods. Because on Day 3 they smote her with a devastating string of bizarre and completely unpredictable body blows, causing her to have a difficult day in the tent. We ALL have difficult days in the kitchen – yes, even me – but in that game show, one difficult day is all it takes. Sally was voted off the island at the end of Day 3.

I’ve known Sally since well before my WordPress days, back when we both used to post in a cooking forum over at Delphi. Even then she was a cut above the rest, including the professional chefs and bakers who frequented the place. And she’s only gotten better since. She’s one of the only cooks who’s recipes have literally made me gasp in astonishment. She’s also one of the only food bloggers who’s recipes I’ll make without hesitation, knowing they’ll be good before I even start.

So I know that Sally’s bad day in the kitchen that day in a tent in England with cameras rolling was just that. A bad day. One.

Of course, she’s beating herself up over it. As any of us would. If you watched the video she embedded in her Post Disaster Entry, it’s heartbreaking to hear her lament letting people down. How she must now be such a disappointment to them. (Of course I left her a note saying “ALL women are a disappointment to me eventually. If I was able to get over my mom breast feeding me through falsies, I can survive you messing up a batch of cookies.” I think it helped her.)

I want to say this specifically to Sally, but the rest of you can listen in too:

1. Sally, you got on the show because you were deemed to be one of the 12 best amateur bakers in America. Do you realize how many amateur bakers there are in America? At least 300! The moment you were chosen you were elevated so high above the rest of us that nothing you could do short of accidentally baking Paul Hollywood en croute could make us disappointed in you.

2. This is something I’ve voiced before, although not here in this hallowed web domain. To wit: TV cooking competitions suck.

Allow me to elaborate, using one specific aspect of the “Great British/American Bake Off” format: the Technical Challenge. As it happens, I’ve seen every episode of every season of “GBBO”. Not because I wanted to, but because Paul Hollywood has “dreamy blue eyes and a tight butt!“. So because of my wife, I am familiar with the idiotic abomination that the Technical Challenge is.

Here’s the gist: telling a bunch of bakers to produce a perfectly baked item that none of them have never even heard of, then giving them a recipe which omits critical information – like how deep to score a Cob bread – is not a recipe for determining who is the best baker. It’s a recipe for finding out who is the luckiest guesser. You could be one of the 11 CMPC‘s in the nation (a/o 2014), but if someone handed you a recipe that merely said “make an Inuit blubber sponge bread” and you’d never heard of such a thing, and they didn’t tell you that the second rise must only be for 5 minutes, you might get booted off the show before even that high school kid with the harelip who’d only started baking the week before.

This would be like someone asking me to read an ancient Sumerian Cuneiform tablet out loud and then telling me I’m a terrible announcer because I guessed the words wrong. My 31 years on the air means nothing to them.

These shows are conceived, written, produced, and edited, to be entertainment. Any resemblance to an actual test of skill would be purely accidental. You’re still the best, the smartest, the most preternaturally talented cook I know (other than me, of course). One batch of wonky Linzer cookies and an uncooperative gingerbread wall doesn’t change that. Hold your head proud. We weren’t good enough to even make it to that tent in the first place. How could we be disappointed in someone who did?

And if all that didn’t cheer you up, this should: you were the thinnest babe there.

You win!

Housekeeping:

Massive thanks and bellowing shout-outs to my longtime German freundin Regina!! Just about a year ago I was lamenting the poor heat retention qualities of the 100% Alpaca knit cap I’d purchased. Shortly afterwards Regina wrote me and offered to make a hat from scratch, one that was guaranteed to make me a real hot head. How could I resist? I said sure. Chapeau me, babe.

A month later this arrived via international post:

Felt Hat PP

A handmade hat AND a jar of homemade hootch!

Let’s start with the hat. When Regina said it was gonna be handmade, she wasn’t kidding. She went out and found a green sheep, killed it, sheared it (somebody should tell her you can shear sheep without killing them first), spun some of the hair into yarn, turned some of the hair into felt, and waved a magic want over the pile and turned it all into a hat. That knob on top? It’s form fitting, not an aesthetic choice.

But most important of all…IT’S WARM! I torture tested it during a particularly brutal ice storm we suffered through last week, and to quote Dr. Martin Luther King, “Warm at last, warm at last. Thank god almighty, warm at last. Fuck you, winter.”

(How cold was it this week? When the temps dropped something like 80 degrees in an hour and ice sheets the size of Rhode Island starting hammering down on us, trees in the forest around Dangerhouse literally started exploding. This is a limb of our Japanese maple in the front yard, which suddenly split horizontally at about 140dB, turning it into some sort of anime alligator tree monster. AAAUUUGHHH!!

Alligator Branch! (1 of 1)

THAT’S cold.)

The hootch was a real surprise, and a very tasty surprise at that. R brewed it up herself from some exotic wild German berries that grow in supermarkets around Düsseldorf or Munich or Vulgaria or wherever she calls home. Who cares, the stuff was excellent. I was plowed at breakfast every day for a week.

Thanks Regina! I now know how you Felt.

Ciao!

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Er, sorry for the extended absence. Something about court mandated community service with no contact with the internet or something. My thanks to everyone who left expressions of concern in my Notes section, and my white hot hatred to everyone who wrote me an email begging me to make the hiatus permanent. May you all be kicked off the island on the first day and be eaten by an anime alligator.

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Power of Attorney

In Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2, the nefarious character ‘Dick The Butcher’ says, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” when describing his version of Utopia.

Now, far be it from me to be so presumptuous as to correct the Bard on a matter of such importance. After all, how many of my sonnets are still being forced down the throats of self-important MFA candidates? Only 4, that’s how many. Shakespeare has at least 7.

But this time I am going to suggest – DEMAND – a correction. Dick should say, The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers. Except one.

That one exception? The lawyer who just kicked the shit out of St. Anthony of Padua.

That’s right, Tony. You AND your stupid, rapacious, namesake hospital just got canonized right up the ass by a 5-foot-4, 20-something “Legally Blonde” wanna-be.

I should mention here that I’ve just started drinking heavily in celebration. All vocabulary, grammar, and spelling errors should be addressed to the previous sentence. (NewWifey(tm) is away on a weekend stitching retreat in support of her business. But we just chatted, and she’s now getting hammered as well.)

Yeah, so we just got a letter from our lawyer telling us that St. Anthony Shithead Hospital has agreed not only to stop trying to squeeze the financial lifeblood out of us, but we also don’t even have to pay the insurance corrected amount for the test procedure, AND they’re paying our lawyer fee. (If you’re new here and curious what I’m on about, click this.)

FUCK yeah. In your face, patron saint of Portugal. (A lovely country, otherwise.)

Amazing what a bit of letterhead can do. Our lawyer made the EXACT same argument to the EXACT same people we did before we hired her. But because the top of her written correspondence  starts with “From The Law Office Of…..” instead of “From the Basement of Dangerspouse’s Mom’s House“, they snapped to attention. A few counter-offers were proposed by the hospital, offering to let us off the hook if we paid various percentages of the original bill. But our little girly-girl lawyer told them where they could stick their offers, finally demanding they dismiss the whole thing or take it to trial. St. Anthony may be a money grubbing bastard, but his lawyers aren’t stupid. They dropped the whole thing. Smart move.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am. Not because the emotional tidal wave has rendered me unable to verbalize the enormity of what I feel. It’s because the Maker’s Mark is finally kicking in and I’m starting to have trouble focusing on the keyboard. So I gotta wrap this up.

I’ll just add that there are a lot of things to love about America, Trump & Co. not withstanding. I mean, I’d stay here just for the BBQ flavored pork rinds if it came down to it. Sure beats balut. But goddam, why does the country that’s not only the richest in the world but also the one that has it in writing that its government is “of, by, and for the people”, seem so intent on killing us unless we’re wealthy? It horrifies me to imagine what would happen to my blogging buddy AnnaNotBob4 if she lived on this side of the Pond, given her and her daughter’s distressing health and economic travails. They wouldn’t stand a chance without the NHS, or a system like it. In other words, they wouldn’t stand a chance here.

I know how lucky I am here. If my friend and co-worker didn’t happen to be a lawyer, I wouldn’t have stood a chance either. Bankruptcy, and probably refugee status, would have been a very probable outcome. There would have been no respite, and all because NewWifey(tm) got sick.

So…fuck you Saint Anthony. Fuck you Shakespeare. And fuck you still Orville and Wilbur.

Alright, enough. My BAL must be 1.2% at least by now. I’m heading off to sleep the Sleep of the Just for the first time in three years. I feel like a 200 pound saint has been lifted off my shoulders.

Oh, and just for good measure: fuck you Portugal. Your patron saint is a dick. And has lousy lawyers. You’re better than that, with your eponymous wine and cork trees and pork-and-clam national dish. Drop the loser shaman already, willya? You don’t need the financial hit. (Although if he does come after you, I know a good lawyer. Gimme a call.)

Good night, kids. Stay healthy.

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Oh wait – I gotta add this!

My loooooooong time blogging buddy HCatty – who now no longer blogs because SHE GOT HERSELF KNOCKED UP AND FOR SOME REASON THINKS BRINGING UP HER “LITTLE DUMPLING” IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN KEEPING ME AMUSED WITH HER WRITINGS – sent me this out of the blue:

Hey Corgious bag and shirt

Actually she just sent me the tote bag, but I coudn’t resist propping it with the corgi shirt I got NewWifey(tm) for Christmas (10 bonus points if you know the anime it’s from).

How stinkin’ cute is that, huh? NewWifey(tm) and I both cracked up when we saw it. HCatty was around way back when Casey The Wonder Corgi featured large in many of my blog entries, and so this was a very thoughtful and touching gift. Thank you, HCatty, I’ll never forget it. I’ll also never use it, since NewWifey(tm) has already laid claim to it. Sheesh. (BTW, I promised HCatty I’d send something back in return, out of gratitude. But I’m a man, and all men lie to women. Sorry, H.)

Ok, NOW to bed.

Ciao!

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My Bloomers

No funny stories today.

I pulled in to my driveway this afternoon and saw my daffodils (well, NewWifey(tm)’s daffodils…I could give a shit about them) were dilling (that’s what daffs do). It’s actually kind of amazing, as the last of the winters’ snow only melted a few hours ago.

Then I came inside to check how many fawning comments were left on my previous post (did I mention I WON SECOND PLACE in a photography contest?). Whilst scrolling through the hundreds and hundreds of them… ok, both of them …I saw Cee’s famous Foto O’ the Day, Flower Edition was…daffodils!

Desperate for more Likes, I grabbed the Nikon and hit the dirt.

I like this composition, but I didn’t nail the focus. That foremost flower should be super sharp. I hope they don’t come and take my SECOND PLACE RIBBON back (did I mention I took SECOND PLACE in my very first photography competition? Well I did.):

Daff 1

Too shallow depth of field, but I like it anyway:

Daff 2

What a difference a couple of hours makes. The sun went down right behind the thing, giving it a surreal glow:

Daff 3

I think I posted this last year, but pretend I took it today, ok? I mean, we’re all friends here, right? Right:

Daff 4

Ugh. Looking at that now I cringe. Talk about the newbie mistake of over sharpening! I don’t have an editing program, but the little viewer that pops up when I upload a photo lets me choose from a few suggested “improvements”. I think the power went to my head and I clicked “YES! YES! YES!” to everything for the first few months until I actually looked at the results and recoiled in horror. Now I pretty much just post ’em as the camera sees ’em.

Finally, these are not daffodils. They’re my neighbor’s dogs. Hounds, to be exact. Who do not. shut. up. for. anything. When I come out to glare at them they glare back…then start baying at the top of their lungs again:

Wexlr Dogs resize

They also use each other as footstools. And sometimes (often) sex toys. It’s shameful.

Ok, it’s Friday night. Go get drunk.

Ciao!

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Picture (almost) Perfect

Guy Crossing Tracks Vignette

Remember that story about my local newspaper printing the photo I submitted of the baby bird I named after Oprah’s vagina? This photography story isn’t as interesting, but I’m posting it anyway because I love to brag. (I’ll assume no one gasped at that.)

First thing to know: I HAVE NO FRIENDS. And I don’t mean, “I have no friends who are into photography“. I mean, “I have no friends. Period.” It’s all part of the pact I made with the Devil years ago in return for him making me a morning drive radio star. Plus I live in the middle of a secluded forest and go to bed when most people are only just getting drunk after their long day at work. That helps too.

(Aside to NewWifey(tm), whom I know is reading this. Yes, yes. You are my friend. I’m referring specifically here to friends who won’t grudgingly have sex with me.)

So ever since I got back into photography last year, it, like all my other hobbies, has been a very lonely pursuit. This is partly because I bought the camera primarily to take pictures of NewWifey(tm)’s products down in our basement. But it’s also because, like I said, I am devoid of human contact in general.

But then I discovered that a photography club meets at the senior center in our town once a month, and they welcome new members. The only catch was, they meet at 2pm. I work until 1pm in a building that’s an hour away. Since I’d have to divert home to get my camera and spend ten minutes peeing first (thanks, prostate), I’d never make it on time.

However my work hours have just recently changed. I now get out of work 15 minutes earlier, which means I’d have enough time to grab the Nikon, pee, and even down a fortifying beer before the meeting. So I went and checked them out last month.

That first time I went they had a guest speaker talking about the finer points of street photography, and after that they scrolled through everyone’s pictures.

The guest speaker was ok, but the follow-up presentation of members’ photos …..zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

I couldn’t believe it. There must have been 40 pictures put up, one after the other, and after each one….dead silence. No discussion of the picture’s merits by the members, no explanation of what was happening by the photographer. Just 30 or so people sitting with their arms crossed staring dully at the screen until it was over when they all put on their coats and left.

I was aghast. I thought these people were supposed to be enthusiasts. Why weren’t they enthusiastic? I’ve seen more spontaneous emotions burst out at Japanese tea ceremonies.

I decided to join anyway.

When I signed up the president told me that every month the club posts a Theme and members are supposed to bring photos representing that theme to the next meeting. She handed me a sheet which said that for April the theme was “Transportation”. She also asked me what level photographer I was, Beginner, Intermediate, or Expert. I’m probably really a beginner, since this is my very first DSLR. But you know how men are. Levels equate to penis size.

I chose Intermediate.

For the coming April meeting I knew I’d be in for 2 hours of people staring glumly at picture after picture of cars, bicycles, horses, trains, and all the other obvious choices. But I had a plan: I was gonna submit 5 pictures (the maximum allowed), none of which on the surface seemed to be about transportation. Then I, a professional wordsmith who’s not embarrassed to flaunt it, would stand up and spin a tale around each of my pictures explaining why it actually did conform to The Theme. That would get conversations going amongst the peanut gallery, then others would do the same with their pictures, and all would be right with the world. I couldn’t wait.

So this past Tuesday was the April meeting, my first as a paying member and contributor. I had my script for each photo memorized, and I was raring to go. I was gonna save the Vernon Camera Club single handed!

Or so I thought.

To my surprise there were easily twice as many people seated around the tables in the meeting room as there were the previous month. And they were all chattering away, lively as could be. What was going on…?

Then the president of the club stood up. “Please sit down everyone” she said, “and if anyone hasn’t submitted their entries yet, please do so now if you have them on a thumb drive. The judge will be here in a few moments.”

Entries? Judge? What was going on?

I went trotting up to the president to find out.

Oh yes” she said. “This month is a competition event. I believe we ran out of notices when you were here last time, so you probably didn’t know. But don’t worry, I included all 5 of your pictures in the Intermediate category.”

WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!

NO!!

I was doomed.

Not only was I not gonna be able to deliver my well crafted remarks to wild applause and guffaws of appreciative laughter, but my pictures were about to be judged against 60-odd others in a category that I shouldn’t be in. Judged, I found out, by the soon-to-arrive guest professional photographer who has also been an accredited photography judge since 1975. On top of that, during the judging no one was allowed to talk. I couldn’t explain why my pictures really were about transportation, even if on the surface they didn’t appear to be.

I braced for impact.

Right at 2 the judge arrived, and after he introduced himself and gave a short speech about how good a judge he was our pictures were put up on screen in random order, with no attribution as to photographer. That, at least, was good. Nobody would know it was me who put up all those pictures which seemed to not fit the Theme.

First up were all the pictures in the Beginner category. I groaned. They all looked better than mine. The judge studied each in turn, discussing what he liked and didn’t like, and giving it a score. At the end he put his favorite five up on screen together and decided on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places from them. Everybody clapped.

Then came the Intermediates.

My first picture was #7 in the cue. It went as badly as I thought it would.

What the hell is this?” said the judge. “I thought the theme of the competition was ‘Transportation’. Didn’t this member get the memo?” He gave my picture the lowest possible score.

It was the same when my next picture popped up. And the next. And the next. I could tell Judge F-Stop was getting more and more peeved every time he had to ask if someone didn’t get the memo. I just sunk further into my chair and tried not to make eye contact.

Finally near the end of the pile it was my last picture’s turn. It was a shot I took this past Christmas Eve. I’d gone into town to take pictures of Christmas decorations, and just as the sun was going down a commuter train from NYC pulled into the station. There was only one guy on the entire train, some poor schlub who had to go in on the holiday and was now finally going home. As soon as I spotted him I sprinted down the tracks as the train was pulling away, then laid down between the rails to get an interesting perspective and took the photo as he crossed the street, all alone. I had to rush it, and I didn’t think it came out very well with a somewhat skewed horizon and other technical difficulties. But I included it anyway because I wanted to spin the tale about it to the audience. I expected to get shot down again.

Now THAT is a great picture” said the judge. “The guy in the photo is a little too dark – it took me a moment to spot him. But otherwise the composition is terrific, and it really conveys a story.” He gave it the top mark possible.

The woman sitting next to me, some rangy old bird in her 70’s with an ill fitting Samantha Stevens flipped bob wig, leaned over and sniffed, “This judge doesn’t know what he’s talking about. That photo is awful. Look at all those shadows!” I nodded in agreement.

A few more photos, and then he put his top 5 up on screen.

Mine was one of them.

Ok, let’s take these two out” he said, swiping away two that weren’t mine.

Now there were three. I was guaranteed a ribbon!

Ok, this one is third“, and he picked…not mine!

That left just me and some loser who shot a picture of a row of golf carts. I held my breath.

The judge studied both pictures for a solid 2 minutes. Finally he said, “If the guy in the train picture wasn’t so dark it would have won. But he was, so I’m giving it 2nd place. First goes to the golf carts.” Everybody applauded, and the president handed me a red 2nd Place ribbon. (For all my snark, it really was a very good golf cart picture. I found out later it also happened to have been taken by a very nice woman who had been very helpful getting me set up earlier. I was very happy for her.)

After that he judged the Expert category, and those were some REALLY spectacular photos. To tell you how good they were, one of the entrants was a retired professor of photography at a nearby college and none of his pictures even made it to the Top Five. The winning shot was far and away the class of the entire competition, and easily coasted to a well deserved victory. The judge said it was good enough to be displayed in a professional gallery, and I wouldn’t argue. And the club president apparently has some real photography chops – she got the 3rd place ribbon.

But…

I got second place in the Intermediate category! Against 63 other people! In my very first photography competition! A competition I didn’t even know I’d entered, and with pictures I never would have entered if I’d known!

Can you tell I’m a bit excited? I’ve got a room full of motorcycle racing and fencing trophies, but this stupid little red ribbon draped over my desk makes me giggle with delight more than anything I’ve won since that time I took third place in the Miss West Virginia pageant.

All the other meetings scheduled for this year are just regular ol’ Show-n-Tell stuff with a few guest speakers and an outing or two. Except one. Later in the fall it looks like they’re gonna have one more competition. And when they do, that blue First Place ribbon will be mine. MINE, I say! BWAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAA!!

Er, not that I care, of course. I’m way too suave and sophisticated to get myself worked up over some dumb podunk little photography competition for geriatric losers.

*cough*

Yeah. Fuck that.

I WILL CRUSH THEM ALL! BWAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

Especially that Elizabeth Montgomery wanna-be. She’s goin’ down.

Ciao!

2nd Place Ribbon

Pretty cool ribbon picture, huh? I’ve really been nailing my product photography game lately, if I do say so myself. Thank you, thankyouverymuch.

And for being such a good audience, here’s a bonus picture I took of my watch. I was practicing how to photograph highly reflective objects because some of NewWifey(tm)’s products have mirror-like finishes, and watch faces are more mirror-like than even mirrors. After a few dozen hundred thousand shots, I think I got it:

Rios Strap 1

I wish I knew how to do post-processing, though. I probably would have saved a good hour at least if I could have made it look this good in PhotoShop or Lightroom, instead of getting it perfect in-camera with no editing afterwards. Oh well, it’s not like I had anything better to do….

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