Sunday, June 20, 2021

A Journal of the Pandemic #26

 So, about an hour ago now, I got my second shot.  

I would've gotten done with this slightly sooner, I really would have.  I admit I hesitated when the shot was being offered at work earlier this year, but by the time I had second thoughts, the machine had ground in other directions, and sort of left me behind.  So I finally took matters into my own hands, and got it done with CVS.

Things are very slowly returning to a sense of normal.  At least for me, my tiny corner of the world.  Even the neighborhood library is technically open again, although for some reason all its lounging chairs went missing, or something.  I'll try again soon to see where that situation's at, but this one's a big deal because it was one of the last things to hammer down the lockdowns last year, and it was the singular change to my pre-pandemic routines, altering the regular course of my weekend activities (yes, going to the library; a regular social animal I yam).

At the box office, A Quiet Place Part II was the first domestic release to cross the hundred million mark in the pandemic era.  Godzilla vs. Kong came within a tiny, tiny hair of doing it first, but having one film, let alone two, at or near that mark had been impossible to conceive until this summer.  The major releases that tested the waters before this point didn't even come close.

UPDATE: I guess they let Godzilla/Kong back in theaters to cross the finish line. I checked in with Box Office Mojo a moment ago. So officially two!

People technically don't need to wear masks all the time anymore.  At work, we do, because there are tiny babies ("tiny" apparently the word of the day), who aren't eligible for the vaccine, so we've got to maintain the status.  I kind of like wearing my collection of mustache masks.  I imagine it's become a signature.  Anyway.

Quietly floated the idea of resuming the possibility of a family reunion with the siblings, for next year, but no one picked up on it.  There will need a lot of planning, completely different from the negotiations that resulted in the one that was cancelled last year.  Part of this was made easier a few months ago, when my sister and her family transplanted to New Jersey, which is a reasonable car trip's distance from Maine, which they're demonstrating on Thursday, so our dad can finally meet his new grandson.

And life goes on.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Aronnax, Space Colony Bactria

Haven’t actually written about what I’ve been busy working on, so here’s a quick update:

Aronnax is an interesting project I’ve been meaning to do for some time, but only just gotten around to starting. It’s an edited version of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I think there’s a really interesting story in there, but it’s been buried for years under a lot of forgettable Nemo material. I know this sounds crazy, as Nemo is literally the reason anyone cares about the book. Well, what can I say? Sounds crazy. Probably is crazy. 

Space Colony Bactria is my latest comics scripting project. It’s an entirely original idea (…somewhat, ah, riffing in Star Wars), and so it’ll be the most ambitious one I’ve tackled yet, and longest. At the moment I’m plotting the whole thing out.

And as I’ve been doing for a quarter century, I’m still working toward writing Collider. In a few months I will probably have a different set of free time to play with. I’ve found it difficult to concentrate as I have when tackling book-length manuscripts in the past with the arrangement I have now.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Bizarro Kitty (Sally #4)

Every time I blog about Sally, she ends up doing the opposite of what I just wrote. So I won’t give further updates.


She’s Bizarro Kitty. Bizarro, in Superman lore, has among his many quirks the speech pattern of always saying (as crudely as possible) the opposite of what he means.

Sally is Sally. She’s a stray cat and as such calls her own shots. She comes and goes as she pleases.

I just happen to love it when she’s around.

Listen, and I certainly don’t want to jinx it, but it’s just terrific how she avoided snagging a claw on a winning lottery ticket that ended up at my doorstep. That would’ve been awful!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Stray Has Gone (Sally #3)

Continuing this inadvertent, unplanned saga of the stray cat Sally, the next update again reverses the fortunes of the last entry:

Stray has gone.

(This is a riff on a Dave Matthews Band song, “Grace is Gone,” a title that was later a movie, too. The song comes from my favorite DMB album, Busted Stuff, which was once delayed because the record label didn’t think it was sufficiently commercial. It ends with the epic “Bartender,” my favorite DMB song. In my day job I have been bringing in CDs, a thing I still have and listen to, every morning, a wide variety that last week included opera. I opted out of bringing Busted Stuff this first round, but maybe it comes in next week. Also skipped over Bob Dylan!)

Anyway, parenthetical phrase (I used to do them randomly, and at length in the middle of sentences, such as I am doing right now!) aside, the sad truth is that Sally, the beloved stray, has indeed been straying.

I don’t know if it was the incursion of Hilary that caused it, or the alarming drilling that I heard at around the same time (did someone deliberately scare her away???), but she’s been scarce ever since. I wasn’t even spotting her at her other human feeding post until yesterday or so. I saw hide nor hair of her, which even when she was boycotting me due to dog contamination never happened (or at least for very long).

At this point I’m not going to assume anything. She’ll do what she wants to do. It’s kind of the whole point, right? 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

She came back the next day, by the way. (Sally #2)

Yeah, she didn’t wait long. 

The funny thing is, this week another cat (Sally looks like she has black fur but she’s pretty dirty), who’s got dark black fur, who has never visited before, started following her up the steps. Sally hissed, but I’m not sure what’s continued to develop. As I’ve said, she likes food from humans but not necessarily humans themselves. She skitters away if I, cat gods forgive, attempt to pick a leaf off her. I put out the cup (or the tin) of gravy-loaded goodness (which is her preference, as I’ve learned the past few years) and then close the door again, leaving her to it.

If there’s unexpected commotion and she skitters away for other reasons, I always check later to see if she came back to finish. Usually she will. 

Or perhaps her horrible, horrible rival has, recently!

I don’t know the sex of the rival. I’m calling it Hilary, and another cat, who’s never visited but is always around, Ted. These are all names from the comic strip Sally Forth. (Very funny, highly underrated.)

(If the rival is a boy, it could be like Edmund Hillary, okay?)

Monday, May 10, 2021



This is Sally. Sally is a stray cat. Sally might have another name. As far as I’m concerned she’s Sally.

I’ve known Sally pretty much since I moved to my new apartment two years ago. She’s one of several strays who were around at the time, and the only one I can be certain is still around now. She’s hung out at my stoop periodically, originally because the people who lived next door had a cat bed out for her.

I’ve since learned more about her. I’ve learned she’s very slow to trust. That she even came round when I first moved in now seems remarkable. At the moment she’s again keeping her distance because I have another new neighbor, and they’ve begun putting things outside their door, and she’s evaluating.

She only recently returned to my stoop. You see, there was a dog. Not my dog. The neighbor from before this one. I perhaps contaminated myself by petting the dog, quite enthusiastically. It was a very good dog, and deserved the attention.

Sally didn’t agree.

Sally is a finicky eater. It took time to learn exactly what she liked. I only just nailed, it, too, and stocked up. And then the new neighbors had to unsettle things again.

Sally is not to be petted. No, not at all! She values her personal space. But she’ll follow me up the stairs, knowing I’ll have something for her. She’ll look into my apartment, mewl her thanks. And she’ll get on with it, and sometimes just hang out.

She’s got another human friend. As far as I know, they’ve never contaminated themselves, with dog or otherwise. They put food out reliably. She eats it. She comes round when it’s safe, here, all the same. Never pin yourself to a single source!

Sally is a stray. She values her independence. And she doesn’t mind humans helping out. She doesn’t mind sticking around. Within reason.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

A Journal of the Pandemic #25


Baseball cards!

I didn’t think I was gonna talk about baseball cards during the pandemic, but here we are! Last year I thought, people maybe aren’t thinking baseball cards, and maybe that’ll make them more valuable than they have been since the glut of the ‘90s. It seems other people finally got around to thinking that, too.

I’ve only ever been a casual collector. Baseball cards are how I learned the classic “Bash Brothers” era Oakland A’s, which was my favorite team as a kid (and remains one I follow to this day), including Rickey Henderson, who I later learned played for about a million teams, about as many bases he stole in his career (and he hustled right to the very end in a bid to shore up his home run count).

When I was short of funds a decade ago I tried to sell baseball cards, but nobody wanted ‘em. They were worth nothing because there were so many cards, and collectors, from the time amply represented in my collection.

And I’ve bought baseball cards here an’ there ever since. Last year there was no trouble at all, as I said. You might not have been able to find toilet paper, but there were baseball cards! And I kept checking in, and then, a few months ago, I noticed there was none at all to be had, or found, at the local Target! I kept checking: no baseball cards.

Eventually I had a look online. Trading cards games apparently massively heated up, and whether or not this dragged in baseball cards, or if it’s a coincidence, I don’t know, but rabid collectors ruined it for everyone. 

Aside from desperation ten years back, I never really thought of baseball cards (or comic books) as a way to bring in money. There are plenty of people who flip these things for large sums of money, if they find themselves in possession of a valuable card (or comic) (or lunchbox! there’s a market for everything! apparently wrestler/actor/animal Dave Bautista collects lunchboxes) and know how to navigate the market. 

Dare I figure this out? Are baseball cards from last year as good as the new ones I haven’t seen from this year?


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