Booster

I’ll Be Getting the Covid-19 Booster Shot Soon

Speaking as a Libtard Sheeple (and proud of it!), I’ll be getting the Pfizer booster shot as soon as I can. It was March 15 when I got my second shot, so it has been six months plus a week or two. I figured it was best to move quickly before the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters get approved and before all the school kids start lining up.

I’ll just call around to see who has the booster and make an appointment.

The Man of 1,000 Faces

Lon Chaney Sr. with Make-Up Kit

He is known as the man of a thousand faces, but that’s not what I remember Lon Chaney Sr. for. He made himself up to look different in every film, from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) to The Phantom of the Opera (1925) to The Unholy Three (1930 Sound Version). However much he changed his looks, the one thing that did not change was the intensity of his feeling, of his ardor.

I just finished viewing Tod Browning’s Where East Is East (1929) in which once again it is his performance that makes the picture. His love for his daughter (played by Lupe Velez) and his hatred of the sluttish mother who deserted them both (played by Estelle Taylor) is always convincing and heartfelt. Chaney was in scores of feature films from 1915 to his last film (and only sound film) in 1930.

Perhaps Lon Chaney Jr. is more familiar to younger film goers for his role as The Wolf Man (1941) and his other horror pics for Universal and 20th Century Fox. The son didn’t begin acting until he father had died, and although he was occasionally good, he could not hold a candle to his old man.

Ignition

Help! My Car Key Is Stuck in the Ignition!

It was not a problem I ever encountered before. As I pulled into the parking lot of a Sprouts Market, I set the transmission to Park and attempted to retrieve my car keys. It was no go. They were stuck in the ignition. I checked that I was indeed in Park. I was. But the key was stuck. After about twenty minutes of fiddling, I was able to pull the key out and do my shopping.

But what was next? If the same problem occurred when I got home, I couldn’t leave my keys in the car with the door unlocked. It would have been an invitation to theft, and to inviting a smelly bum to spend the night in my car, turning it into a mobile dumpster..

So I went straight from the market to my Subaru dealer and reported the problem. I waited for a couple of hours, but it would take longer to fix the problem. So I took the bus home and cooked dinner for me and Martine. It was only then that I got the call from the mechanic that all was well. I will pick up the car tomorrow morning after breakfast.

I would have waited at the dealership longer, but I had a choice of seating by an over-curious dog (I do not like to play with strangers’ dogs) or a software executive who had two laptops and was constantly on the cell phone with Harvey at work. Yechhhhh!

East Los

Mural on East Cesar E. Chavez Avenue

Drive East across the bridge over the concrete-walled Los Angeles River and you will find yourself in a reasonable simulacrum of a Mexican city. Boyle Heights used to be the city’s Jewish neighborhood, and there is the massive Breed Street Shul still remaining. If you have a hankering for some tacos muy sabrosos, you are in the right place.

East Cesar E. Chavez Avenue is the heart of “East Los,” short for East Los Angeles. Of course, over time, the Mexican population has scattered all over the county, but there are still some special places around the Avenue. Like La Parrilla, at Chavez and Detroit, probably my favorite Mexican restaurant in Southern California. Like the Anthony Quinn Library (I’ll bet you didn’t know that Quinn was Mexican). Like ELAC, East Los Angeles College, with some 35,000 students.

We tend to treat American Hispanics as if they were a cohesive voting bloc. The 2020 election gave the lie to the Democrat assumption that Hispanic voters were all for Biden. Not so. Their votes were all over the place. I learned that when I fell for a Chilean cutie named Valentina Palacios back in the 1970s, only to find that she was a supporter of tyrannical dictator Augusto Pinochet Ugarte.

And what is a Hispanic anyway? They could include Mexicans, Cubans, Spanish, South Americans, Central Americans, Puerto Ricans, and even some Filipinos. I remember being in an anti-Viet Nam war demonstration back in the 1960s and being attacked by rightist anti-Castro Cuban immigrants. We have to get used to seeing the Hispanic population as a broad spectrum.

And whatever we do, me must stop using terms like LatinX, which leaves a stench in the nostrils of most Hispanics.

“A Bird Came Down the Walk”

Bird With Captive Worm

Here is another delightful poem from Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), Queen of American Poets. It is called:

A Bird Came Down the Walk

 

A Bird, came down the Walk - 
He did not know I saw -
He bit an Angle Worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw, 
 
And then, he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass -
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
To let a Beetle pass -
 
He glanced with rapid eyes,
That hurried all abroad -
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought,
He stirred his Velvet Head. - 
 
Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers, 
And rowed him softer Home -
 
Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon,
Leap, plashless as they swim. 

When I Used To Smoke

My Days as a Smoker Were Short-Lived, but Pungent

When I first came to Southern California at the tail end of 1966, I thought I needed an image makeover. Here I was, a graduate student in the Film Department at UCLA, but after my brain surgery, I still looked like a high-school student, and a freshman at that!

The obvious solution was to take up smoking. Now I didn’t like cigarettes, so I decided to concentrate on pipes and cigars. And I didn’t go in for the sweet-smelling tobaccos. I wanted something that would give people an impression of me.

Unfortunately, the impression I made was of someone who was not afraid of creating a stench. I remember walking into a seminar taught by a professor I didn’t like and populated with students I also didn’t like. For that, I went in for a Bering Imperial cigar, which came in an aluminum tube to hold in the acrid smell. I played with the cigar for a few minutes, then lit the fuse. I was not popular in that class, but I aced it nonetheless.

Death in an Aluminum Tube

Another favorite at that time were Wolf Brothers’ rum-soaked cigars. ’Nuff said.

I also smoked a pipe, but I went in for Balkan Sobranie pipe tobacco. It wasn’t cheap, but it make a clear olfactory impression.

My smoking habit lasted for only a few months. The fact of the matter was that I didn’t enjoy it any more than did the people who were on the receiving end of my abortive experiment. Fortunately, I was able to stop smoking before I became addicted to my hand-held instruments of aggression.

The State of Jefferson

Just What We Need: Another Rural Republican State with Two Senators

Although the California gubernatorial recall election failed by an almost two-to-one margin, there are a large number of rural Californians who have MAGA tattooed over their hearts who want to secede from California so that they could get their needs met. And what are those needs? In a word, anything that would outrage us Libtards. These are areas that voted for Trump and would like to see city people washed away to sea.

I can’t see why any Democrat would vote to split the state in two, thereby giving the Republicans a majority in the Senate and two more electoral votes to ascribe to the Lardfather in the presidential election of 2024.

Do you see any major population centers in this agglomeration of rural counties? Redding? Eureka? Crescent City? Up against that you have Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, Fresno, and maybe two dozen other cities larger than anything in the “State of Jefferson.”

I have a theory about this doomed scheme:

Proposed Flag of the State of Jefferson

The Great Seal of the putative State of Jefferson reminds me of a brand of Mexican Beer. Dos Equis is, to my mind, an excellent beer, but it will rot your mind if you drink too much of it:

Look Familiar?

I suppose Dos Equis (XX) beer is better than Budweiser, but I doubt that a case of cerveza is grounds for re-doing the Great State of California—even if there are a lot of disgruntled ranchers who can’t win a statewide election.

Bounced Czech

Czech Writer Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997)

Typically, it takes me a while to really get warmed up to what I consider a great author. For Bohumil Hrabal, I read a couple of short story collections (Mr Kafka and Other Tales from the Time of the Cult and Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age) before I read two novels that blew me away: I Served the King of England and now The Little Town Where Time Stood Still.

Now I myself am ¼ Czech, though I never met my Czech grandfather; so I am very comfortable with the world portrayed by Eastern European fiction. In The Little Town Where Time Stood Still, there is a long scene about butchering pork that recalls my childhood in a Hungarian neighborhood in Cleveland. The scene is almost a threnody to the rich Czech and Hungarian pork-based cuisines.

In fact, the book is a lament for Eastern European small-town life which was largely destroyed by Communism. For this, Hrabal suffered years of censorship. It was only with the Velvet Revolution that brought Jaroslav Hašek into power that he really came into his own.

I cannot read his books without emotion: As a cultural Hungarian, I find tears forming in my eyes when Hrabal reminds me of my own origins or such things as the worship of Emperor Franz Joseph I (or Ferenc Jozsef, as we called him in Magyar).

In the months to come, I plan to read as much of Hrabal as I can find in English translation. Although I am part Czech, I cannot speak the language.

Neolithic Orkney

The Standing Stones of Stenness

If you are interested in the ancient Britons, I suppose you can go to Stonehenge and sidle up to the fence which keeps you from going anywhere near the ruins, in addition to putting the kibosh on your travel photography. But there are parts of Britain where you can go right up to the stones and even hug them without drawing the ire of the local sheriffs. I am thinking specifically of the Orkney Mainland (actually an island) off the northern tip of Scotland.

Above is a view of the Standing Stones of Stenness, which is within walking distance of the Ring of Brodgar, another stone circle. And not a fence in sight! And no ticket-takers either (at least when I was there).

There are two major points of interest in the chambered cairn at Maes Howe. It was constructed in 2500 BC. About 3,600 years later, Vikings broke in and covered the walls with graffiti in the form of Futharc runes. The graffiti was like today’s graffiti: If you want to be amused, click on this website.

The Passage into the Tomb

I haven’t even mentioned a whole neolithic village uncovered when the sands which protected Skara Brae blew away in a major windstorm, exposing houses, streets, even stone furniture. Check out some of these images.

These are just some of the reasons why the “Heart of Neolithic Orkney” is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yet it gets relatively few visitors. One could fly to Kirkwall from Aberdeen, with a short stopover in Wick. Or one could take the train (if it still runs) to Thurso, taxi to Scrabster, and take the St. Ola ferry to Stromness.

I don’t guarantee the weather will be terrific: It rarely is in these parts. But I do guarantee you will be amazed at the sights. Also, the capital of Kirkwall has a 12th century Viking Cathedral, St. Magnus, whose first bishops were canonized as saints. In fact, the Orkneys were Viking before they became part of Scotland in 1472, and the culture is a Scottish/Scandinavian mix.

The islands even have a great poet: George Mackay Brown (1921-1996), whom I met in 1976. Read up on him if you’re interested in visiting this fascinating part of Scotland.

Jökulsárlón

A Hypnotic Glacial Lagoon in Southeast Iceland

On both of my trips to Iceland (in 2001 and 2013), I stopped by the glacial lagoon at Jökulárlón to see the strangely-shaped and colored little icebergs. The second time, I even took a boat ride around the lagoon.

The lagoon is a must-see on the road between Höfn and Kirkjubæjarklaustur, neither of which could be correctly pronounced by visiting tourists. It is an outlet to the biggest glacier in Europe, Vatnajókull, which occupies approximately 8% of the total land area of Iceland.

Fanciful Shapes Abound, Like This Duck

Never mind that the sun doesn’t seem to shine much at Jökulárlón, the sight of all those odd ice shapes tinted electric blue catches and holds your attention. All the buses in South Iceland make a point of stopping there for a half hour on their way either east or west.

I even had a taste of glacial ice from our guide, who fractured a pane of ice and passed it around among the tourists. It was delicious, having been frozen for millennia.

Although the Vatnajókull glacier is, like most glaciers, receding, it still occupies a large chunk of real estate. While I was staying at Hófn, I even played around on the glacier’s surface on a Ski-Doo snowmobile.

Atop the Glacier

I have been atop two glaciers in my lifetime, Vatnajókull and the Athabasca Glacier in Canada’s Jasper National Park. Something tells me that this is an activity that future generations will not be able to enjoy.