A minty mischief of rats

Benny and I are having our seasonal rat problem right now, and the current group of rats is driving me more insane than normal. The other night I found a fat one eating an apple in our fruit bowl in the kitchen, so (after screaming) I took all the apples and put them on the trash can lid for later disposal in the compost bin. Not an hour later, I found that one of the other apples had been knocked off the trash can lid and chewed upon. I don’t know how this creepy rat made it up the side of the metal trash can to do that, and I really didn’t like thinking about it.

Because I had read online that peppermint oil was a good rodent deterrent, the next day I soaked a number of cotton balls in peppermint oil and left the balls in the kitchen corners and near points of ingress/egress. After using up my current vial I went out to buy more peppermint oil, and when I got back the whole house was overpowered by the peppermint smell. A nauseating level of peppermint. When Benny got home his eyes started watering, and the dinner I made that night was terrible because I couldn’t taste or smell anything correctly. Of course later that night when I went to get a drink of water, I came across my fat rat friend running from one cottonball to a different cottonball with nary a care in the world.

So I threw the cottonballs away, Benny set a ton of traps, and I think we executed the main jerk by the next morning. Here’s hoping his minions got the message and will stop bothering us now.

Anyway, all of this was a rather long-winded way of saying that Peppermint Land is not the delight that it seems to be in this cartoon.

Grars and hypes forever

I finally got to vote in the presidential primary today, and boy, am I exhausted. How much longer until November? I don’t know if I can stand it.

One good thing about this election cycle, though, is I got this great t-shirt:

IMG_7407

Of course I got food stains on it four hours after I took this photo this morning, but seeing as the shirt was designed by Mr. Let’s Paint, a man known for painting while riding a bicycle while making smoothies*, maybe those stains are meant to be there.

If you want your own great election shirt, greeting card, shower curtain or baby onesie, you can go here to order one and customize colors, sizes, and so on. I’m not getting paid to shill these; I just think this design is a pretty good depiction of this year’s democracy in action. USA!

*Also painting while running on a treadmill while playing chesspainting while shaving while riding a bikepainting while running on a treadmill while interviewing Eric Andre while baking cookies, etc.

Cuba libre

While it is true that my current job preparing and correcting old film soundtrack spreadsheets has sapped a little of my energy of late, it is also true that I am finding my previously evaporating reservoir of pop culture minutiae to be refilling at a healthy rate. Interesting things keep popping up in the least likely locations.

Take, for example, the song “Rum and Coca-Cola.” I’ve heard this chirpy little song from the ’40s a billion times and hardly given it a second thought. I say “hardly” rather than “never” because I know I gave it a second thought the first time I realized that the lyrics had something to do with a mother-daughter prostitute team, but still:

Working for that yanqui dollar sounds so sunny and relaxed when sisters from Minnesota sing about it, doesn’t it?

Anyway, the other day I was looking this song up on the ASCAP website and saw Morey Amsterdam listed as a co-writer. Morey Amsterdam? Little sarcastic Buddy Sorrell from The Dick Van Dyke Show wrote “Rum and Coca-Cola”? Wow. Neat.

But it got better. Morey Amsterdam didn’t write “Rum and Coca-Cola,” but he did hear “Rum and Coca-Cola” when he was on a trip to Trinidad, and when he came back to the States he told some cute young girl singer that he wrote it and she could use it in her nightclub act.

The cute young girl singer did use it, and after it became quite successful for her, she started making arrangements for it to be published under her own name. Morey got mad, the girl probably said something like “I know you didn’t write this song, you dope, and I’ll tell everyone if you don’t split the copyright with me” and they eventually agreed to share the songwriting credit.

By the time the song hit the charts, the original songwriter in Trinidad found out about Morey and the girl taking credit, and he was mad. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would want this guy mad at me, because his name was Lord Invader. I am not making this up. Some of Lord Invader’s pals in Trinidad were named The Mighty Growler and Attila the Hun. Also Macbeth the Great and Lord Of Iron. Not a bunch of guys to fuck around with.

Lord Invader came to New York, and instead of raining hellfire and bees down upon Morey and the girl, he filed a lawsuit. Things got very complicated with a bunch of other side lawsuits, but eventually Lord Invader won. Unfortunately, he very quickly spent all the money from the settlement and died quietly while Morey and the girl bought the rights to the song, and today if you look up “Rum and Coca Cola” on the ASCAP website, you will see Morey Amsterdam, the girl singer, and some other random guy I’ve never heard of listed as the writers.

Now, this whole thing makes me mad, and I will never look at this bookmark

Morey_amsterdam_WNBTshow_bookmark_promotion

with the same amount of zesty zilliness I once might have, but at least now I know the truth. Lord Invader, I salute you.

Soft shell

Oh hey, how are you? I’m sorry for the extended absence*; I promise I didn’t forget about you. It’s just that I’ve been dealing with some things, and while technically I could have updated this blog on Benny’s computer or on my phone or something, I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to do so. You see, I’ve been spending money. And there’s nothing that puts me in a bad mood like spending money.

It started last week when Benny and I decided we needed new phones. The phone app I need for some work that I do is now only working with operating systems that won’t work on my old phone, and Benny’s phone would only go to sleep if he pushed the button thirty times, so it was a necessity. We grimaced at the larger size and price of the new phones but went ahead and bought them. Okay.

The problems started when I tried to transfer everything from my old phone to my new phone and I got caught in a “you need a new version of iTunes/you need a new operating system on your laptop if you want this new version of iTunes/’OH MY GOD IF I HAVE TO BUY A NEW LAPTOP NOW JUST TO GET THIS PHONE WORKING I AM GOING TO LOSE IT'” mess, but 15 hours or so later, things were all peachy. My old laptop was chugging a little bit harder with its new operating system, and I no longer had Photoshop, but whatever.

Three days later, my laptop display disappeared. Well, it didn’t disappear but it was so dim that I could only see it if I closed the curtains and shone a flashlight on it, and that was not really a workable thing. I kept losing the cursor. Shouting. Crying. Disassociation, mild numbness. Benny did some research online and it wasn’t looking good.

On Friday, Benny took my laptop in to the Genius Bar because 1) I decided I had to go to a meeting, 2) he is awesome but you already knew that, and 3) he might have been worried that I was going to shout and cry in public if I went to the Genius Bar and heard bad news. I’ve been known to cry in public over the cost of a standing rib roast planned for Christmas dinner.

I was at said meeting when I got a text from Benny asking if I wanted to hear the good news or the bad news. Then he said the good news was he was bringing home some fried chicken. Bad news was something something new display needed mucho dinero not worth it and besides my laptop would have to be shipped someplace weird because the normal service department didn’t work on “vintage” computers. I pictured the wax-mustachioed gent wearing an arm garter and knickers who would be willing to work on my vintage computer and felt very old. Like I should be wearing this sign on my back:

foundturtle
This Monday I went with my old laptop in tow and bought a new laptop, but when I asked the Genius to transfer my files from my old laptop to my new one, he said it was going to cost $99. “You want ninety-nine more dollars. I… just… spent…” Crying was history. Hyperventilating and numbness too. I was at Looney Toons head exploding now. “OKAY. IF THIS IS THE ONLY CHOICE I HAVE. IS THIS THE ONLY CHOICE I HAVE?” The Genius adjacent to my Genius was looking concerned.

“Oh yeah; we can’t do this if your old laptop isn’t in working order.”
“IT IS IN WORKING ORDER. IT WORKS FINE. GO FIND A FLASHLIGHT.”
“I need to check with my manager.””DO THAT.”
(brief interlude; Genius returns)
“Have you backed this up recently?”
“YES. EXTERNAL DRIVE.”
“Oh! You can just transfer everything from that then.”

He assured me that everything would be exactly the same as a one-to-one machine transfer, and I brightened and went on my way.

I got home, Benny had the misfortune of being home as well, and we then proceeded to attempt the transfer. Benny handled all the internet research and texts to tech-savvier friends, and I handled the “I WOULD LIKE TO THROW THIS THING OUT THE WINDOW” side of things. It was a little nuts, but after transfer of half the things one way and half the things the other way, everything came over to this new laptop on which I am now writing this post.

And during that transfer, my old laptop suddenly flickered back into existence and is working just swell as of this moment.

*Sorry; I promised myself I would never write “sorry I haven’t updated in a while” ever on my blog. I also promised myself I would never call it a blog, so maybe I should stop making promises to myself in regards to this thing.

Cartoons and uncomfortable situations

Yesterday was a confusing day. I picked up an odd job via one of those sites you pick up odd jobs from – my job was to pick up someone’s comforter, wash it at a laundromat, and return it – and I got stood up. I showed up where I was supposed to pick up the blanket, buzzed the apartment buzzer, and there was no answer. I texted the client – no answer. Neighbors came in and out of the apartment complex and offered to let me in, but nobody knew who this person was that I was supposed to meet. I stayed outside and texted again. I buzzed the buzzer again. And texted. And buzzed. I got in my car and texted again after fifteen minutes, and then after a half hour. Nothing.

After about an hour, I left and texted the client that I had left. I finally got a text back – “Buzz the buzzer. utdm.” Not knowing what utdm meant (under the door mat? up the down move?) I responded that I had tried buzzing the buzzer several times but had left. Then I got one last text that made no sense. I reported the situation to member services for the site and cancelled the job.

I was a little freaked out as I wasn’t sure if I had just escaped a mugging situation or what, so I parked my car while I calmed down, and noticed that I was in front of my favorite local swap meet store, but all of the store front art was different. The drawings of tricycles and bleach and mittens with eyeballs had been replaced with a mural of cartoon characters. I recognized some of them,

homerandpals
but I wasn’t sure why Tweety Bird was carrying a caveman club,

tweetybat
I didn’t know who this toddler was or why he was drinking a beer,

drinkingbaby
and the only thing I could guess this guy was supposed to be

numberone
was the elusive Number One from The Prisoner. When I came across the Shroud of Turin with a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos bag above it,

flaminhotjesus

I was ready to call it a day.

Now that I’ve had time to reflect on it, I’m thinking that this no-show laundry job was nothing sinister but just the modern equivalent of a prank call, but what kind of lame prank is that? It’s as much a mystery to me as Flamin’ Hot Jesus.

 

Long after the getting has ceased to be good

Today is my last day at work, at the job I have held for a little over 16 years. I have been telling people that it’s time for me to move on, find a new path, follow my muse, blah blah. But to be honest, the real reason I am leaving is that I’m scared for my safety. Where there were once funny faces on Post-Its and mysterious creatures made of fruit abandoned in the break room and messages on the garbage cans inspired by Magritte, now there is only violence and mayhem. To wit:

courteous

There is a theory that these signs inspired so much rage because our company has been employing a huge number of temps who are not considered fully “employees,” but this is just a theory. Sometimes people just hate being told to wash their own dishes. And then there are more lunchroom hijinks (please click on all photos for larger versions; it is well worth it):

yourshame

I am supposing he preferred his lunch meat to the free Chinese food, which is perfectly understandable. It should be noted that this email was sent to all US offices as well as the head office in Berlin.

Here is a goodbye note when the author of the above email had finally had enough:

saltmines

Now, I think this would have made sense if it had been sent to the head office in Berlin, as the photo appears to depict some Pennsylvania Dutch versions of Krampus and maybe the head office would have looked at the photo and wondered, “Have we been so naughty as to deserve switches to our bottoms this year?” and been frightened. However, this goodbye note was photocopied and deposited in physical form on certain employees’ desks solely in the LA office, so we recipients were merely frightened in a vague way without understanding the Krampus tie-in. Krampus isn’t really big in LA yet.

Oh, here is a Post-It that my perhaps-too-dedicated assistant affixed to some paperwork after trying to make some sense of something that would never make sense:

blam

That’s never the answer, kid. Especially not for something as dumb as that pile of paperwork. And then finally, here we come to the grandaddy of  something that would never make sense:

garyoverton

I suppose it’s neat to know that you can send an anonymous fax; I never knew that before. I just don’t know why I got this fax, and I don’t think I’ll ever know, and I think if I stick around in the hopes of finding out, something pretty bad might happen.

So off I go to a new, safer career as a roller derby queen or a war correspondent or something. Wish me luck.

Every bite

Hi, Hostess™. I hear you’re going bankrupt. I know what you’re blaming this on, but if you could just take a minute to hear my theory, maybe you’ll take a minute for some introspection. Your marketing through the years changed drastically, and I feel like that change in outward message may have reflected your internal corporate philosophy.

You went from seeing through the eyes of a child:

possessing creative conflict resolution skills

and a “stop and smell the roses” attitude

to faux-caring harmful decision making:

to flat-out greed and gluttony:

With a $100,000 a month salary, you really needed the bakers to take an 8% pay cut? I think someone could use a lesson in sharing.

Elephino

Oh, residents of Beverly Hills. You are a confusing bunch. One the one hand, you’re allOHMYGOD THINK OF THE CHILDREN when the city tries to build a subway under the local high school. But when faced with a family of vicious white tigers, a pride of lions,

wait – make that two families of white tigers, even more lions, a leopard,


a tower of giraffes, a herd of elephants,

and a goddamned gorilla

mere blocks away from an elementary school, with only the flimsiest of iron fences keeping the beasts from rampaging through the streets, do we hear a peep?

Sometimes I question your priorities.

Dead cats and banjos give you their hearts

Some people over at The Awl are discussing what holiday song should be crowned “Most Horrible.” It’s hard to choose; I don’t think you get to win just by being a song that’s overplayed for four weeks out of the year, or for just being a crappy rendition of a holiday classic.

Nobody’s mentioned it yet, but I think I think my choice has to be “Blue Xmas” by Miles Davis w/Bob Dorough. Doesn’t ring a bell? You know, it’s that cheery tune sung by the Schoolhouse Rock guy that goes

And nearly everybody’s standing round holding out their empty hand or tin cup
Gimme gimme gimme gimme, gimme gimme gimme

Geez. Just kill yourself already, Song. Even Miles Davis thought you were bullshit.

Anyway, what started this whole debate about “Most Horrible Holiday Song”? It was the original post’s assertion that Wham(!)’s “Last Christmas” should take the prize. And while I was never a George Michael fan,* I don’t think any song that has been covered 485 times can be called “Most Horrible.” Sure, some renditions are terrible, but then you have the ones that feature:

I don’t think “Blue Xmas” would translate nearly as well.

*That’s not entirely true. I did become a George Michael fan as soon as he got arrested for solicitation in that public restroom. That is a rock star.

Lost her mind

Hey, you know how that phrase “Christ, what an asshole” works as a good substitute caption for every New Yorker cartoon as well as for the last panel of most other comics? I found another place it can work – this story about lost pet flyer vigilante Marilyn White-Sedel. From the Studio City Patch (via laist):

“It’s ugly, it causes garbage, it’s illegal and no one is doing a thing about it except for me,” said White-Sedel, who has lived in Studio City for most of her life.

“The worst part of it is that after their sale, the people don’t even come by and clean up their mess and take the signs down,” she said. …

Over the years, White-Sedel said, she has seen signs become an increasing blight to Studio City. She brought her case again last week to the Studio City Neighborhood Council, and asked for help. …

“I’m the only one taking the signs down; it’s a terrible sight in some neighborhoods—awful,” she said. “I could use some help.”

She brought some of the signs she recently collected from her neighborhood to the SCNC meeting. She said sometimes she brings the signs to the people holding the sale and points out they are illegal. …

“One recent sign I took down was from a cat that was lost for three months,” she concluded. “Those people should realize that the coyotes got that cat a long time ago.”

Maybe I shouldn’t call her an asshole. Thanks to her I now know that Studio City has a lot of pet flyers for me to check out.

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