Would I Lie?

I enjoy watching “Would I Lie to You?” Hosted by Rob Brydon, Lee Mack and David Mitchell lead two teams. Two guest celebrities appear on each team every show, people like Bob Mortimer (who shares hilarious tales), Jo Brandt, Richard Osmen, and Greg Davis. The team members then tell a story about something that happened to them. The other team then guesses whether it’s a lie or true. Points are awarded. Yes, it’s British. My favorite episode involved Germane Greer and cannibalism. I love how the panels and Rob really get into the premise.

I stream it on Britbox via Amazon. I’ve watched many episodes more than once, tests to see how well my memory works as I try to recall if they’re lying or telling the truth. I’m usually wrong. I don’t think that bodes well for me doing my taxes in the future.

Whenever I watch the show, I think, what tales could I share? I’ve come up with one. First, the opening statement. That’s what’s used to launch the premise and cross-examination.

I once passed out three times trying to give blood just so I could have a doughnut.

They would ask the usual questions. When did this happen? Where? How old were you?

I’d answer, “I was in my early twenties, working at a bank in Pittsburgh, PA. The American Red Cross was having a blood drive in the lobby. If you give blood, you’re given a free doughnut. I really wanted a doughnut, so I took my place in line. Then, well, as I approached, I fainted.”

For some reason, as I write this, I imagine it being spoken in David Mitchell’s voice.

You fainted, will be repeated. I’ll nod, affirming that’s what happened.

Then?

“They put me on one of the little beds they had set up and gave me some orange juice. I returned to my desk, but I really wanted a doughnut. I got back in line and fainted again.”

They would ask me, “Was this your first time giving blood? Have you ever fainted before? Do you have a history of fainting?”

It was my first time giving blood. I’d never fainted before.

The ARC again put me on one of their little beds with orange juice. After I felt better, I returned to my desk. But…

I really wanted a doughnut.

I returned to the line, worked my way forward, and fainted again.

“A third time,” people exclaim. “Boy, you really wanted that doughnut.”

“Well, it was free,” I reply, “and I like doughnuts.”

“What kind of doughnuts were they? Were they special doughnuts?”

“Glazed.”

“Were you hurt whenever you fainted?” They would ask. “When you say, fainted, do you mean that — what do you mean?” (Lee Mack is questioning me; I hear his voice.)

“I swooned,” I answer. “My vision grew dim, my legs grew weak and then buckled, I lost consciousness, and found myself being helped off the floor.”

“How long were you out?” Lee asks.

“Not long, a few seconds, maybe ten seconds, I guess.”

“Did you ever get a doughnut?”

“No.”

Rob asks, “Well, Lee, it’s time to decide if he’s telling a lie or telling the truth.”

He’s lying, they agree. Nobody would get in line three times just for a doughnut. Or the ARC would give him a doughnut after the second time, to reward him for his efforts.

“It is a lie,” I tell them when the time comes. “The truth is, it wasn’t me; it was my sister.”

And that’s the truth.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

Another new day has arrive, just twenty-four hours after the last one. I think we’ll call this one…Merlin. If not Merlin, then Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

Sol came creeping over the Ashland hills and mountains at 6:55 AM and is now bathing us with warming sunlight. Watch for Sol to slip away around 7:35 PM. Temps yesterday didn’t get as rosy as promised as we struggled to break 55 degrees F. Claims are out that we’ll strike seventy plus today. We’ll see.

We’ve been watching and enjoying NG’s third season of Genius. This year is all about Aretha Franklin. After finishing the episode about the 1972 two-day recording sessions for her Gospel album, Amazing Grace, we again watched the 2018 documentary about making it, for comparison. Robert Altman was on hand filming it back in the day. Technical difficulties prevented it from being completed. When it was finished, Aretha Franklin would not allow it to be released. It stayed on the shelf until after she passed. Then Spike Lee took it up and brought it the public.

Comparisons between the fictionalized events and the real thing were illuminating. To us, the Genius series attempted to show a larger schism between Aretha and her father, Rev. Franklin, than what existed. Just seems that way but we could be wrong, given the small windows which we use to witness their relationship. It was a treat watching and hearing such a talented person sing. though. What a voice.

That delivers us to today’s theme music. While thinking about Aretha Franklin, I recalled one of her later hits. I realized that her 1985 song, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” is perfect for this era of Zooming meetings, exercise classes, birthdays, weddings, and the many other gatherings we’ve been stopped from doing in person. I’m not the first to recognize that. The comment section is full of others calling this the Zooming anthem.

Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, get the vax, and keep on Zoomin’. Cheers

Thursday Thoughts

  1. My cousin, Glenn Seidel, passed away, ending his cancer fight. A genuine nice, caring person, his death is one that makes you question life’s mechanics. I wish he’d never suffered cancer; he’d watched his mother and younger sister fall to cancer. It’s good that he’s no longer suffering, though. Watching the suffering, unable to do more than mouth platitudes, is the struggle for me when a friend, relative, or pet is suffering and dying. No, it’s not about me; the survivors always mourn. It’s about what he — what they all — went through before reaching the point of death. Here’s to Glenn.
  2. Weather is on my mind. We’re contemplating a move east. Why? Summer weather here in southern Oregon has become a litany of summer suffering: wildfires, or smoke from wildfires suspend or kill activities and travel. Drought requires water restrictions, which is enforced via capitalism: if you have the money, you can buy the water. Depressing, right? But our winter is comfortable, remarkably snow free and freezing free. Moving east to Ohio or PA would mean plunging into that stuff.
  3. Watching Texas suffer from lack of planning for cold weather brings deep sighs of frustration. Save some pennies, increase profits, but when the shit hits, you’re wickedly unprepared. It’s sadly now the GOP way. Yet that ‘save some pennies, increase profits’ mantra holds fast against critical thinking. It’s always the poorest classes who suffer most, of course.
  4. Since I’m on politics, will the righteous right-wing notice that President Biden, a Democrat, immediately reached out to help states, whether they’re ‘red’ or ‘blue’? Doubtful that they’ll notice; doubtful that they’ll remember. Yes, experiencing a strong cynical streak today.
  5. We worry about the animals along with people, you know? We hope the animals are warm and safe, too. The logical response is, this is life; suffering is inculcated as part of the formula. Death is a natural ending. Still, I hope for the best. Guess I’m an unrepentant optimist.
  6. Writing (knock on wood) continues going well, which continues to scare me. There’s a burst of jubilation as a major chapter is completed. After a pause of reflection, anxiety strikes as I face the ever-present, ever-daunting question, what next? That question always pulls me back into the puzzle that’s called writing a novel.
  7. I’m watching more foreign television shows that are in their native languages. I run in place and watch television to wind down at the day’s conclusion. Usually do two to three miles between 10:30 PM and midnight. Bad dubbing draws cringes and winces, which are disruptions to the entertainment. Don’t need it. Instead, I watch television in German, Icelandic, Norwegian, French, etc., eyes glued to the captions. We like how characters appear in television from other countries. Characters in the U.S. TV land are typically pretty people with pleasant lives and mild challenges to their principles and decisions. Typically, matters are quickly resolved, with little complications. There are exceptions. The characters in stories in other nations are less pretty, less glamorous, and more natural. Yes, they’re more like me. Fortunately, watching foreign television seems to be a growing streaming trend. A great selection is available.
  8. One exception in U.S. television that I continue to admire is “The Wire”. Watching it for the second time, finishing season four, the levels of excellence in production values, acting, character development, plots, and story arcs all still impress me. It’s been several years since I first watched it, yet so many of the people and story-lines remain memorable. It’s a gritty show, but you end up rooting and crying for so many.
  9. Finished reading/read six books last week. I’m mastering the jogging-in-place-while-reading process. Five of the books were fiction, the other was non-fiction. Reading does enhance/intensify my writing process. Hungry for more books now. One is on hold at the library, so I need to head that way, but also research more to add to my list. I’m reading mostly crime and speculative fiction while I’m writing my science fiction/speculative fiction novel.
  10. With running in place augmenting my walking and other exercise, my 28-day average remains over 12, coming in at 12.41 for this cycle, with a best day of 14 on February 7.
  11. It’s raining outside. My cats are in and asleep. One sleeps on my feet as I type, keeping me warm with his weight. Another is in the foyer, curled up on the bench, a paw over his eyes. The third is stretched out on the guest bed like a ginger throw. Their presence and the knowledge that they’re safe and comfortable reassures me against awareness of the world’s pain.
  12. Now, time to go eat lunch. Then it’s back to writing like crazy, at least one more time. Stay safe, please. Cheers

Raisins & Mushrooms

  1. One of today’s questions: does peanut butter come in a jar or a can? My wife and I are certain that it comes in a jar.
  2. The can/jar question rose because it’s time for the bi-monthly food donation to our town’s food pantry. Bi-monthly is one of those ambiguous expressions that often causes more conversation than it saves. “Do you mean twice a month or every other month?” Raised eyebrows often accompany the question, along with a still expectation as everyone waits to hear, which is it?
  3. COVID-19 has caused our food bank to decree “cans only”. Why not jars? I don’t know. They quarantine the cans; couldn’t they quarantine the jars? I haven’t researched the issue. Did I miss a Fauci about cans and jars? “By the way, jars are not safe. Cans are.”
  4. The food bank puts out a list of needs. On that list is peanut butter. That’s why we’re perplexed. PB comes in jars. Of course you’re going to need peanut butter if you’re only accepting cans. What’s wrong with you?
  5. Anecdotally, I’ve never heard or read someone say, “Go get me the can of peanut butter,” so I think we’re right on this. I wonder if they’re changing the way that we think of cans and jars, like they changed the way that we think of literally by changing the meaning because misusing the word became so commonplace that everyone agrees, easier to change the definition at this point.
  6. Guilt has set in. Others are raving and recommending television shows. I’ve tried them. I don’t like them. I want to like them, for their sakes, for the world’s sake. I feel like I’m undermining the social order by saying that, “No, I don’t watch that show. I don’t like it.” “The Tudors” was one of those shows. Friends raved about it. I turned it off.
  7. Among shows that underwhelm me are all reality shows. Never got into any “Survivor”. Yes, I do like the “Great British Bake-off”, or whatever its name is. I wore down my molars, gritting my teeth as we streamed two seasons of “The Masked Singer”. My wife wanted to see them all unmasked, even as she shook her head at the show and snapped, “If I hear them say that one more time…” She never specified the threat. She didn’t like hearing the hosts bubbling again and again and again, “That was wonderful. You’re amazing. Who are you?”
  8. My wife wants to make mushroom stroganoff. See, she likes mushrooms and she’s a vegetarian. I do not like mushrooms. They’re an abomination. I can accept them steeped in cheese and buried with real food on pizza. When I encounter them elsewhere, they remind me of slimy fungus. I do like mushrooms grilled on meat, or grilled with other mushrooms.
  9. The question is, will I eat the mushroom stroganoff? Sure, make it; I’ll try. If I don’t like it, I’ll eat something else. She’s bought the ingredients. She understand my mushroom dislike; she feels the same about raisins. Mushrooms are my raisins, if you follow.
  10. Food. We all need it, we all want it, we all might not like it.

Commercial Break

My wife informed me she’s ordered snail mucus.

The snail mucus is good for her skin. It comes from South Korea (aka, the Republic of Korea). The procurers assure us the snails are not harmed when the mucus is milked.

We’re talking about opening a snail farm in southern Oregon. Gotta figure out how to milk those snails. Don’t think our fingers are small enough. Must be really tiny fingers to milk those snails. Maybe it’s done by a machine. Hope they’re not using children. They have tiny fingers. Just sayin’.

I gather that South Korea is on a roll with skin and hair products.

Meanwhile a relative sent us CBD TheraReleaf lotions and creams in the mail. They’re extra-strength, of the Arnica+ variety. I applied some lotion to my sore left hand last night. That was the one I broke. Still swells and stiffens after strenuous flexing and exercise. The arm, hand, and wrist all felt mighty improved after the lotion was applied. That could be my mind thinking it should be better, right? Yes, but I think it’s the lotion. I’m going to keep using it.

I like its smell. It reminds me of licorice.

I’d like some licorice. It’s been months since I’ve had any. Why don’t we keep licorice on hand? Answer: because I gobble it up like a cat hoovering in catnip.

My wife mentioned ordering Kitty Chups for our felines. I searched online for more information. The first result was from Amazon, and was for women’s apparel. Whaaat? I clicked on it to see what came up. Cups came up. Cups, not Chups. Kitties were featured on the cups. No women’s apparel was on the page. No wonder half the world seems confused about what’s going on.

Amazon said, “You can search instead for kitty chups.” I clicked on that. Products similar to the Chups came up but the page asked, “Did you mean kitty cups?”

Oh, my, just watched a trailer for a new show, then the first seven minutes of the first episode. That would be Resident Alien on SyFy starring Alan Tudyk. Looks promising. Hope some streaming service picks it up fast. You listening, Netflix?

Bet Amazon gets it.

Such Screwy Dreams

My dreams left me laughing and shaking my head. One involved food and family; the second was about military and ID (again) (but with changes).

In the first, my stepfather was there. ‘He and I didn’t get along’ is a loaded understatement. He was a large part of the unhappiest part of my life.

I knew that history in my dream, and even wondered, what’s he doing here. But I tried making nice, and he was being nice. My wife was there (she’d never met him), along with a couple of my sisters, and my mother.

First, weirdly, we — my wife and I — set up a television connection with the net to watch porn. Really. The plan wasn’t mine in the dream, and left me scratching my head, but I did as told. Then, lo, my stepfather and family sat down and turned on that porn. They were all laughing, asking, what’s that?

It was a flat screen TV. Distracting them, I spun it around so they couldn’t see the screw. Then I ran to the bedroom. Lifting the bedskirt, I located switches to change what they could see on the television. Then I dashed back, and turned the television back to them.

As they watched television, my wife and I prepared food for ourselves in the other room. I was having a Philly cheese steak sandwich; she was having a veggie version.

We went outside to eat. The food was on a plate. The house was on a busy corner. Some people passing asked if they could have a sandwich, offering to pay for it. My wife said, “Yes,” while I was like, “What? Don’t we need permits?” She was certain that we didn’t. Well, my wife and I started making and selling the sandwiches. Sales were great. We were happy, and sold them until we ran out of supplies.

The dream ended as my wife laughed, counted cash, and joked about doing it again.

The next dream took on a military spin. We wife and I were in temporary quarters, leaving a base. I think we may have been leaving the military. Well, we’re in bed when the door bangs open. Two guys walk in. I leap out of bed and rush across the room to confront them. I’m not big; they’re a good six inches taller and thirty pounds heavier. But this is the military and I’m a senior NCO, and that’s the power I’m using. I brace them, telling them that this is my room and they have no business being there. They’re disagreeing, saying the rules changed. I haven’t heard about changes, so I don’t give a shit, you know?

But I tell my wife what they told me, that there’s been unspecified changes that shifts our roles. Then I go out to learn more. After a few minutes, I return and tell her, I’ve confirmed what I was told, that it’s changed. Sitting down, we discuss the changes and agree that they were overdue, but that they don’t really matter, because we were done, suggesting we were giving up our military ID cards.

Then we leave with our baggage, and the dream ends.

In both dreams, I notice that it’s about changes. In the first, my relationship with my stepfather changed. Then my wife and I were making food for ourselves, but changed and started making and selling food. In the military dream, of course, there were changes that seem to reference the structure and our roles.

Then again, my dreams are often about change these days.

Just Sayin’

I think some people miss the point behind cutting the cable.

Cutting the cable has been around for a while. It’s an expression used when you decide to terminate cable service. That would’ve once been unthinkable. When I was a child — yeah, here we go.

I’m a boomer, in my sixties. I’ve seen the rise of the microwave and electronics. Cable television came to my neighborhood while I was in high school. Before cable, we were dependent on ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS. One of those networks had two channels in our area.

Reruns were the norm. “Bonanza”, “Gunsmoke”, “Gilligan’s Island”, and “Perry Mason” came on throughout the day, along with every version of a Lucille Ball’s offerings, game shows like “Jeopardy” and “Password”, and talks shows like “The Merv Griffin Show”. As this was a rural, churchy area, so we also had a lot of gospel music sang off-key with with a twang, and plenty of Bible thumping.

Cable, then, expanded our ability to watch different reruns on other channels. We had, I think, thirty-two channels and we paid about twenty dollars a month. None were ‘premium’ channels; HBO, Showtime, and offerings like that were just being thought of and begun in those days. It didn’t come to my area until I’d left the area in 1974.

Still, cable offered us more. That was the point. Then, the point became, cable is offering the same thing over and over, or offering us things that doesn’t interest us. Upon returning to the United States after some overseas assignment, my wife and I subscribed to cable television. It was pretty good for a while. A&E was delivering fresh BBC television shows like “Ballykissangel” and “Doctor Who”. TBS provided reruns. “Original” programming was still a number of years away, along with reality shows.

Off we went to somewhere else outside the U.S. This time, upon returning, we signed up for cable, with some premium offerings.

It was no longer a sweet deal. The price had jumped to over fifty dollars a month. Pausing to put that into perspective, my income was about twenty-five thousand. Our new sports car cost fifteen thousand. Our phone bill (cell phones weren’t on the scene yet) was about twenty-five dollars a month. So fifty a month was a chunk.

Back to cable. Premium movies had already been seen, so I was paying for movie reruns, and they showed them over and over and over. The cable company boasted that we had one hundred channels. Our point was, there was nothing on that we wanted to watch.

That trend worsened, in my mind. We went to a hundred and forty plus channels, two hundred channels, dozens of premium offerings. Prices climbed, but nothing was on. By the time I cut the cable, we’d curtailed the premium offerings. No reason to subscribe because they offered so little. By then, we could rent videos, and then discs at Blockbusters and other places. Eventually, Netflix evolved.

We cut the cable ten years ago. I went with Roku and subscribed to Netflix. I remain a Netflix subscriber. I also subscribe to Hulu basic and Amazon Prime. Others come and go, usually for a month at a time. I’m not the demographic target, though; I have no interest in watching television on my phone.

I monitor streaming offerings, and frequently try them out on a trial basis. They’ve become bloated and useless. Let’s talk SlingTV as an example. They’re offering over a hundred channels for just $65 a month. But looking at them, I know that I’ll end up watching very little of that.

The same happens with countless offerings. They think signing on to more channels is a big deal. It’s not; it goes back to the same problem that plagued us when we had four channels: nothing was on that we wanted to watch.

Original programming helps the situation these days. So does stealing ideas from other countries or importing television series and movies from other countries. As we discovered with A&E, and then BBC America, the rest of the world has fantastic stuff. In example, one show that’s currently doing well in the U.S. in “The Masked Singer”. Just as “Survivor” was an import, so is “The Masked Singer”; it came from Korea.

In the end, this is another rant, innit? Just an aging American musing about the ways that the world does and doesn’t change.

At least with remotes, it’s easier to change the channel. You know what we had to do when I was in high school?

Wednesday’s Whickering

  1. Writing was so intense today. Been seeing this rainstorm for this shithole where my characters arrived. It’s a bleak, rocky place, no green, no insects or birds. There are dogs and people (and rats). I wrote the scene today, shivering behind my laptop as I imagined the cold, hard rain slamming my people. Had to pause and pace, and get more coffee to warm myself several times.
  2. Love that intensity when it happens, but it’s also a distraction. Too much writing energy builds up. Fingers and mind can’t keep up with the story-telling stream gushing out. My abs get knotted and my arms tremble. Nobody ever mentioned this at the writing conferences.
  3. Wife made this wonderful pumpkin doughnut muffins yesterday. Rolled in sugar and cinnamon, they’re like doughnut holes. Man, those things are mega excellent. Each time I go for coffee, I want to eat another.
  4. When I pause in my writing, I spy on my neighbors. They’re up to something next door. Don’t know what. He’s like that, though, quiet, rarely seen for several months, then, boom, the sudden center of crazy, with cars and peeps arriving, and things being carried back and forth, and slamming and thumping noises. He’s a nice guy but when I hear this things, my mind paints him as someone nefarious doing some devious misdeeds. Being a nice guy is always a good cover for being an evil genius.
  5. The cats and I took well to the hour fall back. I much prefer it to the spring-ahead hour change. Really rather do without either, though.
  6. Watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. Really well done. The young lead actor, Anya Taylor Joy does an excellent job, but all are well-cast, and the production values are super. I’d not been aware of the novel. It came out in 1983, I read. After seeing the television show, I want to find the book and read it. It’s at my library, so I put it on my shelf. Didn’t want a hold. I’m already way behind my reading.
  7. Being behind on my reading is a constant thing. Reading stirs my writing. I enter this cycle of reading two paragraphs, write two sentences. Writing progress is made because this is in addition to my devoted writing period. Reading gets serious hampered. I’m eventually forced to focus on the reading and push to finish the book, which is a damn strange way to entertain myself, innit?
  8. I cut my hair yesterday. It’s the second pandemic cut that I’ve given myself. I think it looks good. Of course, I can’t see the back. I did what I could through feel. My wife is reluctant to cut it. I don’t know why. I have guesses but I’ll keep those shelved.
  9. Okay, got more coffee. (The pumpkin doughnut muffins were avoided.) Time to resume writing like crazy, at least one more time.

Monday’s Theme Music

Owe this song choice today to the second season of Fargo. That was the season about the Sioux City massacre, introducing us to Molly Solverson as a child, and her father, the medically retired state trooper. Keith Carradine played Lou Solverson (Molly’s father) in season one; Patrick Wilson played the younger iteration of him in season two. The story of this year is briefly mentioned by Lou Solverson in year one.

Anyway, the song is “I Got A Line On You” by Spirit came out in 1968. I had to look that year up. I was twelve then, and the song was a regular on rock stations for a long time. Yet, I’ve not heard it in a while, until Fargo brought it back to mind last night.

BTW, I enjoy Fargo. Its characters and non-linear style speaks to me. Each of the seasons I’ve watched featured strong casts. Year one included Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman as main characters, along with Colin Hanks and Allison Tolman. Jordan and Peele show up as FBI agents. Stephen Root is a murder victim.

Year two includes Ted Danson, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, and Jean Smart. All do the impressive job that you expect of them, along with Bruce Campbell as Ronald Reagan. My favorite, though is Zahn McClarnon. Although I’ve seen him in multiple films and television shows through the years, he really stood out as Matthias in Longmire. Where we knew exactly who he was in Longmire, he’s enigmatic, smart, and unreadable in Fargo, yet manages to portray sad weariness.

Okay, on with the music. This is a fun live version. Hope you enjoy it as I did, as a sharp look back to what was. Please wear your masks. Cheers

The Lost Dream

My wife and I, with some friends and cousins, were in a temporary place. Cats were accompanying us.

It wasn’t a great place. An older building, it had a bug issue. Its brown rug was a little worn. Fresh paint would be welcomed on the walls.

Temporary, old, but comfortable, we were grateful for the shelter. Part of our gratefulness and acceptance was that we knew a change was due. We just needed to endure for a short period.

The cats were busy playing and eating. My wife went off somewhere. I took up residence with the cats in another suite of rooms. Why? These things weren’t explained. I was watching television and trying to kill an insect that bugged me. (Yeah, sorry for that pun.) I worried that the insect, something with many legs and a pincer was a threat to the cats. That’s what prompted me to attempt to kill it. But I was trying to kill it gently.

That didn’t work. The thing got away, going under a piece of furniture and disappearing. Meanwhile, I had a huge television turned on and kept surfing through offerings. My wife and cousins returned. A disjointed conversation ensued. I understood it (I think) in the dream but it’s hazy now. The essence of it was that we were in the wrong place and needed to go to the right place. We divvied up tasks. I took the television, carrying it to the next place, with a promise to return for the cats.

I knew the way, yet took a wrong turn and became lost. I was supposed to be able to go from the wrong place to the right place without going outside, but I’d ended up outside.

A light, early evening rain was falling. Trees and bushes overhanging the walkways gave some shelter but water was gushing over gutters and out of drain spouts. Protecting the television, I navigated the paths, yet couldn’t find my way.

Discovering an open door, I slipped into there, thinking that I had to return to the inside. I was in a garage. Trying another door, I entered a dining room. A family was seated at the table eating dinner. I apologized to them, explaining that I was just cutting through to return to the inside.

Amenable to my use of their house as a shortcut, they barely paused in their meal except to reassure one another that it was alright. Leaving their house, I found myself in familiar hallways and knew where to go, and that everything would be okay.

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