Losing it.

The boat launch went fine, thanks for asking. It was freezing — mid-40s — but ah well. The marina is under new ownership, and have deprived the main guy who handles this, Pete, of his assistant, so I had to be there. But no major mishaps.

While Pete and I were pulling the mast this way and that so Alan could attach the shrouds, we talked a little bit about this phase of life. (We’re all the same age, give or take.) He said he and his wife had unloaded a big house on a very nice street, and were now living aboard their boat at the same marina, and liking it more than they ever thought they would.

A big part of it, he emphasized, was “getting rid of all our shit.”

I thought of this while some of you were talking in comments about your own shit, or your parental shit, or all the other shit that gets dumped on you as you age. Pete said nothing felt as good as personal shit-liquidation, selling all the furniture and gewgaws and collectibles and other stuff that once seemed so important. Watching it go out of the house during the estate sale, he said, was liberating. “You don’t know how tied down you are until you get rid of it,” he said.

Caitlin Flanagan, a writer I often find myself at odds with, watched “Nomadland” recently and came up with this observation:

The make-or-break moment for the viewer is right at the top; if you’re the kind of brute who doesn’t enjoy watching a woman in late middle age poke around her storage unit, you should take your leave. Personally, I could have watched an entire movie on that subject alone. You spend your whole life accumulating things, and then they end up in a storage unit, slowly losing their charge of sentiment and memory and transforming into a bunch of junk. Fern is there to pick out what she will bring with her on the journey. In the end, she chooses the least practical thing of all: a box of china, white with a pattern of red leaves on the rim. That’s not the last of that china I’ll be seeing, I thought to myself, and I was spot-on.

Since Alan stopped working, I’ve been on my own smaller-scale shit-liquidation purge, and I’m making progress. Last week I dragged pretty much all my Fort Wayne ephemera to the curb, including all my newspaper clips and, comically, my journalism awards. I saved some photographs, but will probably go through those and pitch a lot of them, too.

But some things cry not yet. The doll bed I played with as a child and Kate, not so much — I can’t get rid of it yet. Some of her crib bedding, ditto. A couple of her favorite stuffed animals.

And god, so many books. Books are one of those things you’re supposed to be happy to purge, but after I cleaned up the basement enough to make it my pandemic gym, I shelved and dusted all the books down there and thought: Can’t get rid of these. I love many of them too much. But on the same shelf are many 78 RPM records from Alan’s dad’s collection, and god knows why we still have those.

For the next move, I guess we’ll grapple with all of this. For now, I’ll settle for slimming down.

Speaking of female writers I often find myself at odds with, do you know how much it pains me to say, “Mona Charen is right?” A lot. And yet:

Today, we stand on the precipice of the House Republican conference ratifying this attempt to subvert American democracy. They are poised to punish Liz Cheney for saying this simple truth: “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.” In her place, they will elevate Iago in heels, Elise Stefanik, whose claim to leadership consists entirely of her operatic Trump followership.

Let’s be clear: The substitution of Stefanik for Cheney is a tocsin, signaling that the Republican party will no longer be bound by law or custom. In 2020, many Republican office holders, including the otherwise invertebrate Pence, held the line. They did not submit false slates of electors. They did not decertify votes. They did not “find” phantom fraud. But the party has been schooled since then. It has learned that the base—which is deluded by the likes of Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Mark Levin—believes the lies and demands that Republicans fight. As my colleague Amanda Carpenter put it, the 2024 mantra is going to be “Steal It Back.”

If Cheney must be axed because she will not lie, then what will happen if Republicans take control of Congress in 2022 and are called upon to certify the Electoral College in 2024? How many Raffenspergers will there be? How many will insist, as Pence did, that they must do what the Constitution demands? How many will preserve any semblance of the rule of law and the primacy of truth?

Well, if we have to flee, I hope Canada will take us. If not, Mexico is warmer and has livelier food. And there’s always Europe, although I don’t think they can accommodate that many refugees. Maybe we’ll stay here and be the resistance. Works for me.

Happy Wednesday. A pic in parting, as another boating season begins:

Posted at 4:02 pm in Current events, Movies, Same ol' same ol', Stuff reduction | 77 Comments

A stretch of paradise.

As we seem to be starting every blog with a weather report these days, now hear this: The weather is perfect. For the next week? Perfect. Mid-70s every day, mid-50s at night, not a cloud in the sky. You need sunglasses to look out the window. It’s spectacular, nature’s payback for a frequently taxing summer. I’m trying to get back on the straight-and-narrow, food-wise, after a few months of slacking. I’m still maintaining all but about six pounds of last year’s weight loss, but this is mostly about trying to feel better. When in doubt, take care of your body. I’ve spent my whole life thinking mood was all about what was going on inside and outside your head, when the truth is, about half of it is what you’ve been eating.

I promise not to become that person, though. “Have you tried cutting out gluten? OMG, it’s aMAZing.”

Actually, being too into your body’s constant feedback loop is sort of the hallmark of a certain kind of asshole, but on the other hand? If you pay attention, it can be useful. When you start popping off at people, it’s nice to know that half of it is because your blood sugar is messed up, and the other half is because you’re under-caffeinated.

Ah, fuck this narcissism. It’s been a day.

First thing I want you to do is read this comment by our own JeffTMM, who is one of those rare conservatives that gets it. Things are weird in his part of Ohio these days; things are weird in lots of places. Actually, follow his comments all the way down; they make a very specific kind of angry sense.

There is very little interesting about a writer’s life. I started volunteering at an after-school program, for the first time in a while, and I missed the first session and was an hour late for today’s (traffic). This drives me nuts. I chose Tuesdays because Tuesdays are almost always a good day for me, but the last two Tuesdays, the first two days of my obligation? Not so much. But all was forgiven when I showed up, and I think I made arrangements to help a kid with his college essay. We’ll see. This empty-nesting can’t be all about sleeping with the bedroom door open. You have to give back. Here, take my pajamas.

Some bloggage, then:

Don Pellman, centenarian athletic titan:

Pellmann, the most senior athlete in the San Diego Senior Olympics, became the first centenarian to break 27 seconds in the 100-meter dash and the first to clear an official height in the high jump. He also broke records for men in the 100-and-over age group in the shot-put and the discus and set a record in the long jump.

Wearing baggy shorts and a faded red T-shirt with “Donald Pellmann Established 1915 Milwaukee, WI” written across the front, he opened his program by trying to become the oldest man, by roughly nine years, to record a height in the pole vault. He dislodged the bar three times at 3 feet 1 ¾ inches, which gnawed at him the rest of the day.

“I thought I was in better shape,” he said.

My role model!

When I read stories about the VW recall, you know what I think? Alan and I won’t be having dinner together for days and days.

Meanwhile, today’s OID story: Carjacker abducts and robs two little old ladies. Punchline: He has a six-figure income. (And a gambling problem.)

It’s the autumnal equinox! In six months it’ll be spring. Let’s enjoy the time as it passes, because it’s all we have, right?

Posted at 12:03 am in Current events, Stuff reduction | 62 Comments

Binning it.

I did a little more stuff reduction today, tackling a little box that sits amongst a heap of dust-gathering crap. Perhaps I could move some of the crap into the box, but there was stuff in the box, including a ticket stub from the very first Brickyard 400, and — Kirk, you’ll like this — a pay stub from the Columbus Dispatch, March 1979. I earned $215 a week in what would have been my third month of employment.

The inflation calculator says that’s the equivalent of $690.22 today, and I sort of wish I hadn’t looked it up, because it shows how very un-remunerative my newspaper career has been. Only in the past year has my income recovered to its 2003 level, but oh well — I’ve always been a saver.

I kept the ticket stub, pitched the pay stub.

As I vacuumed up the dust — and may I just say, there is nothing like low winter sun to magnify every mote in the damn room — I recalled March 1979 was when I was cruelly snubbed from the pot-brownie distribution list before the Clinic, the Dispatch’s annual all-staff professional-development event. (Too early; no one knew me yet.) Kirk was not, and neither was Borden, and both were so stoned during the program they were lucky the entire management tier consisted of fossilized old men whose knowledge of intoxicants began and ended with Canadian Club. The keynote speaker was some guy from the AP, who pronounced the name of the 50th state “how-ah-ya,” after which I heard my colleague Karen (ate the brownie) say, “Fine. How are you?” Snickers rippled up and down the row.

Years later, Kirk and Karen would get married. And that’s about where anything even remotely interesting about that story ends. But the reverie made the cleaning go a little faster.

How as everyone’s weekend? The thaw came, and it is ongoing, but that was a lot of snow, and much of it is still out there, even as the gutters gurgle and the wet sidewalks become treacherous as soon as the sun goes down. Wendy and I had a miserable walk — more like a mince — this morning. There’s at least two months of winter left, and there’s only one thing to do: Head down and push on through.

Fortunately, this is why the lord gave us Bulleit rye. I just had two fingers, neat.

Man, am I sore, the result of an unfamiliar workout and a case of overdoing. So here are a few links, and I’m out:

How one-party rule came to pass in 36 states. Lengthy, depressing, infuriating.

For you Bruce Springsteen fans: Which albums are under-, over- and correctly rated. From Grantland.

Now I have to watch “True Detective” and read Tom & Lorenzo’s Golden Globes tweets. Enjoy the week ahead?

Posted at 12:30 am in Stuff reduction | 55 Comments

Closet no. 1.

I’m not exactly a hoarder, but some of this crap make me think I might be a candidate. Although most is in the trash now, including these remnants of my early-adulthood fondness for stealing blank letterhead. (I was a big sender of prank mail, back in the day.) Including:


This is the station that became WTBS. TCG stood for Turner Communications Group, if I recall correctly. (Ted was into billboards as well as UHF TV stations.) J.C. worked here in the early ’80s, and I used to fly down for weekend visits; Delta had a cheap flight out of Columbus. We’d always go to the station for at least a little while, because J.C. was always working, and I’d play in the wrestling ring while he finished up. Georgia Championship Wrestling was taped Saturday mornings. Good times.

Other of my friends tended to work for print outlets:


Including me.

This is my Uncle Arthur’s casket flag. It’s a nice cotton one, and I need to get it out and fly it. Casket flags are slightly disproportionate, a flag maker told me once, and we don’t have a pole, but in Columbus we displayed this on July 4 by hanging it from nails driven into the mortar of our brick house. Think I’ll do that here.


I kept this because it’s a movie waiting to be written. A madcap comedy.


And while I loved my time in Ann Arbor, both of these went into the trash. Just not a hat girl.


Off to closet no. 2 now. MORE COFFEE.

Posted at 10:04 am in Stuff reduction | 52 Comments

The minimizing of the crap.

I am embarking on a major stuff-reduction project this week. I don’t expect to finish it by New Year’s Day, but if I can make a dent by then, and a goal by springtime, I’ll be happy. Along the way, I will tweet, and post, some of the oddities found along the way.

Today’s exasperation: Journalists rival only the Special Olympics for plaque-passing and ribbon-pinning. I hope, in this project, to find the inner strength to pitch Major Awards like this.


Posted at 11:56 am in Stuff reduction | 26 Comments