A Force of Nature

By now you all know that Mickey Rooney is dead. I direct your attention to this fine obit in the N. Y. Times.

In the early 70s I saw him in a production of the English farce See How they Run at the Westport Country Playhouse. He was in his 50s, playing a young English flyer. If the casting wasn’t ideal, Mr Rooney fixed that problem by ignoring the play. He clearly didn’t know the lines or blocking; the rest of the cast, huddled on the opposite side of the stage, just as clearly hated him; but I remember it as being one of the funniest evenings I’ve ever spent in a theatre. By the end he was soaked in sweat, the buttons had popped on his shirt, his pants had split and the audience had laughed itself silly. I saw him again in Sugar Babies, three times, and if the show was past its first flush of youth and there were some episodes of planned corpseing, he was blissfully, outrageously low.

A giant talent seen in his youth when the world was young in this clip from Words and Music. He’s playing — ahem — Larry Hart. Tom Drake is Richard Rogers. Janet Leigh as Dorothy Rogers seems to be entirely shot from behind. They look like children playing at being grown-ups. And if we haven’t seen National Velvet I recommend it.


I get kinda sad when these old greats die, mostly because my grandmother is the same age and it reminds me that she won’t live forever. Maybe this is what celebrities are for: a yardstick for the lives of others. Or maybe not.

In any case, my grandmother was last spotted doing whiskey shots off a downhill ski at the birthday celebration for my Great-Uncle Nelson, who is now 100. So there’s probably a while yet.

@Tommmcatt Au Gros Sel: Maybe this is what celebrities are for: a yardstick for the lives of others.

This. When celebrities die, there’s often this furor that drowns out the whispers of every person who died at the same moment. I’ve always been a bit annoyed that being famous makes your life and death more important than everyone else’s. I’m annoyed with myself, as well.

The celebrity death that shook me the most was David Foster Wallace’s suicide. I wasn’t surprised, but I was incredibly sad, and it was more than mourning the things he’ll never write. Maybe I thought I’d meet him someday. Losing that possibility, no matter how unlikely, is a selfish feeling of loss. He was four years older than me. Yardstick.

When people who have lived what seem to be long good lives die, like Shirley Temple Black (R), I’m not sad. Rather, I think about the dreams I had because of their performances, and my age at that time. When I was four years old, I called her “Curly Temple,” and I begged to be released from ballet to tap (I would have sucked at that, too, but still). My mother wrapped my damp hair around her finger and gave me ringlets. Another yardstick.

When Phillip Seymour Hoffman died, I was surprised. Maybe it was one of those “He seemed to have it so together” kind of things. How the hell would I know how together he was? I never dreamt of meeting him, but I’m stuck with the selfish wish that I could have seen him do more. Entertain me more.

When River Phoenix, Heath Ledger, Brad Renfro [insert pretty person awesome musician troubled artist here] overdosed…I don’t know. It just seemed so sad. But there’s a girl who visits this complex, sometimes I let her use my phone, and she comes here to barter for drugs. Lots of people OD.

I try to find some way to put all of this in perspective. Are we sad for the people who entertain us, or are we sad we’ll no longer be entertained by them? Are they sad because they entertain us?

“Eat your [ ]; there are children starving in China.” I suppose we care as much as we can when we learn about the genocide de jour, usually years in the making, but there comes a time when the numbers are so high that you cannot put the lives lost into any kind of perspective. You can’t view the entire AIDS quilt in person. Six million people – I can’t fathom how many that is. After a while, numbers become meaningless in the sense that you just can’t wrap your head around them. You become undone when you learn the details, but you’re lucky if you have the emotional fortitude to become redone.

I remember when Steve first learned about the Holocaust. I remember when I first learned about the Holocaust. How do you process that? How do you process people being famous because of how they died?

We had another shooting at Ft. Hood. I work for the VBA, and no one, I mean no one, has mentioned it.

Are you tired of hearing about that jet? I am. But I’ll be excited once they find something. They’re taking too long…

Were you tied to the TV during Katrina but eventually had to look away? I did.

I don’t understand the fascination, the global rubbernecking, but I look, and then I look away.

@Tommmcatt Au Gros Sel: My head exploded at the Book of Faces photo of the awesomeness of Grammy Tommcatt doing shots off of a ski in Tahoe, or wherever the hell you crazy catts were partying. I would be honored to do a Very Special Stinque Post of that photo or others, for no other reason than to fist bump her through my computer screen.

Plus: apple/falling from tree/such as

@JNOV: Darling, they’re movie stars. They don’t do real life. That’s not their job. With love.

Question: if a youngish man (this lets Catt out) wanted to disappear in Washington State or Oregon, where might he go? What parts of those states are least traveled? Alaska is too far. And seems somehow satirical.

Here in NYC the easiest way to vanish is to sign with William Morris.

@Benedick: In Oregon, south of Eugene or east of the Cascades. Or, for easy shorthand: Anywhere but the Willamette Valley.

@nojo: Where is that in relation to Seattle? Say, to drive (don’t make me use Apple maps. I just made a charming post about chinless wonders and it was losted by the internets. As a consequence I’m feeling quite frail. I’ve got the feet up with cocoa: the drink not the ghastly techie thingy.)

I’m thinking a place of last resort. Like Greystar in Lolita.

@Benedick: He could always go to one of the less well-known San Juan Islands that’s still accessible by ferry, like Orcas Island or Lopez Island. Easily one of the most beautiful and satisfying places on the entire planet.

On the other side of the Cascades is the stunning, secluded and very Lord of the Ringsy Methow Valley, and the village of Winthrop.

Both destinations are just under three hours from Seattle.

@Benedick: Eugene’s about 300 miles south of Seattle, and 100 miles south of Portland.

Eugene to Portland also covers the Willamette Valley. A river runs through it.

@Benedick: He’d also better set aside some time to visit his Stinque amigo, a long-time resident of Seatown who happens to live conveniently near the airport (ahem).

@¡Andrew!: Darling, fiction. My second tier story needs to find a third tier place so when second tier becomes up in your face we need to know where the man lives. Think desolation.

P.S. This is not about Catt. Or assless chaps. Or pole dancing.

@nojo: Checkin the maps.

@Benedick: Oh. Well in that case, check out Xtreme northeast Washington state (near Colville, WA perhaps). It’s mostly owned by the Forest Service, and blissfully devoid of human life. A sparser place you’d be hard-pressed to find in the Lower 48.

@Benedick: Literary desolation? Eastern Oregon or Washington. Forests and metropolis-adjacent islands are too charming.

@Benedick: On the other hand, a lot of Survivalists in southern Oregon. But also trees.

@nojo: Don’t forget the deranged, racist crackpots. And deer!

@¡Andrew!: For that, I just need to head across the river to Springfield.

Then there’s the barren, hopeless no man’s land between Methville and Jusblowyorbraynzout (German spelling, sheesh), as well as Washington State University at Pullman. Go Cougs!

@¡Andrew!: I just call everything east of the Cascades “Idaho”. Easier shorthand.

Jusblowyorbraynzout is breathtaking in the winter. Don’t forget your snowboard. And a mop.

@¡Andrew!: @nojo: Darling boys, one admires your commitment to imaginary lives. Kudos. Trying not to make huge investment in research so grateful for input.

The man is drug desperate and has a child. Where would you go to hide?

@Benedick: I’d want to blend in, so I’d have to retreat to one of the homelands from which all of us hummuhseckshals sprang: Fire Island, Cloud Cuckoo Land, or Los Angeles.

@Benedick: Hood River, Oregon. Close enough to Portland for restocking, far enough away that nobody will notice.

Also, easily Googled for local flavor.

@nojo: See now, Hood River has been already part of this plot. Must I fly out there? Are there trailer parks and desperation? Will I be shamed by having a full set of teeth? Is it Heart of Darkness? Will I despair

@¡Andrew!: Darling. Kisses. Call me. Let’s do lunch. No really. My people will call your people. Isn’t every new day a miracle? Can you see that as a vehicle for Tony Danza? Let’s talk.

@Benedick: Yelm or Roy.

@Benedick: Yelm or Roy. Yelm has its very own cult.

@Benedick: Yelm or Roy.

@¡Andrew! and Bene: Someone works across the street from the airport. Ahem.

@Benedick: If your assless chaps dance belt wearing naked wrestling ass doesn’t meet me in person…

And like nojo wrote, I was seriously lost in the woods around Spokane/Idaho. Every time I got lost, I’d turn around and see a sign “Welcome to Spokane.” I never realized I’d left Spokane. It was like an episode of “Fringe.”

I think I was almost in Coeur d’Alene. I’d turn around and end up in Mead. Turn around and end up in Spokane. Turn around and end up in Mead. There are a bunch of ?-Mile Roads. Lake Loon or Loon Lake. It’s a mess out there.

@Benedick: Aunt & Uncle lived there for awhile. White Trash shithole.

Hey, what about Kelso? Southern Washington’s kinda weird. I could feel my soul shift whenever we crossed the Columbia out of Portland. Might have been the sales tax.

@Benedick: And then there’s Medford, south of Eugene. Pleasant little town. Could have doubled for Twin Peaks.

@nojo: Southern Washington is really weird.

Any thoughts on the area around Evergreen State College or Montesano? Not much going on in Montesano anymore.

@Benedick: Seriously – take Wheeling, West Virginia, add The Great Dismal Swamp and a ghost town between Bakersfield and Morro Bay, and you get a tiny taste of Southern WA.

@JNOV: Evergreen State has a fine tradition of alt cartoonists. Liberal Oases can do that.

@nojo: Yep. From Riot Grrls to That Simpsons Guy. <– Or did he just use the Three-Mile Island lookalike? I almost drove off the road when I saw that thing.

@¡Andrew!: Off topic, but your speedy answer to my tax question merits two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

@JNOV: I don’t know who was responsible for what, but having Homer work at a nuke plant was a clever choice in the late Eighties.

As to the design, Three Mile would have been top of mind — iconic cooling towers and such. The beachfront nuke plant up the road here uses Dagmars instead.

@nojo: yeah. The one I saw never opened because it was built around the time 3-mile went KABOOM. Now it’s a museum. Um. Yeah. No thanks. (I googled my ass off after seeing that thing.)

@JNOV: The ideas were very helpful. Won’t know what happens till I get to that point in the story. But I have an idea now what I’m aiming for and may have realized a really great ending that would pull everything into focus.

@JNOV: He’s throwing a curve and setting everything in Lake Oswego.

@nojo: Right? That place is no joke.

Everything is about ‘Catt. Try and keep up.

How far is Lake Shasta from the Oregon border? It seems about the vibe. Or one of the little towns up around Moount Lassen.

When keeping an indoor worm bin, it’s best to do what the experts advise, which is what you did last year. If you get lazy because you think that one year makes you an expert, you get what you deserve.

Eisenia fetida is the best composting worm. If you handle them too much, they’ll ooze the fetida on you. They sell these worms all over the place, and last year I bought mine from Yelm.

These worms require little care. Feed them a mix of brown materials (e.g. shredded newspaper) and green materials (e.g fruit and vegetable scraps), but don’t feed them meat, dairy or oil. Freeze the food before you feed the worms to help break down the scraps and to kill fruit fly eggs. Don’t get lazy. Put some shredded paper under and over the scraps, and put the lid on the bin.

Red Wigglers need air. Despite the air holes you drilled in the bin, it’s good to take the lid off for a day or two, especially if the bin is too moist. If you’ve covered the scraps with paper, all you’ll smell is dirt.

If you don’t feel like freezing the food, cover it with paper. If you don’t feel like freezing the food or covering it with paper and decide to bury it in the existing compost, you have fucked up big time.

Welcome to The Fruit Fly Apocalypse. At first it’s not so bad. Your cats try to help you out, but all they do is knock over shit when trying to catch the flies mid-flight. You figure these few will die off just like the few you saw last year, and all you need to do is create the beer contraption you saw on the internet.

Things seem under control until you open the bin to feed the worms. The sky goes black, and you do St. Vitus proud. As usual, the cats try to help, but they only break the new stuff you bought.

When you realize that your traps suck, that you can’t keep bats in your apartment, and the flies like to sit on your face when you’re sleeping, you think about your dear friend, flypaper, and figure what was good enough for your GG is good enough for you, although pouring warm oil into an infected ear was probably not the best idea.

Enter non-toxic flypaper. Flypaper is no fucking joke.

When trying to find a location that is safe for cats, keep in mind that you need a location that is safe for you. Fly paper is sticky, and if you’re impatient and pull it out too quickly, you will be a sticky mess. If you decide that now is a good time to read the directions, you’ll realize that the directions offer no advise whatsoever about removing the yellow goo from your hands and eyebrows.

Don’t be lazy; stick to the plan. And maybe fruit flies won’t find your open mouth appealing and give you a lesson in recessive genes.

@JNOV: Thank you for sharing. I’ve been able to cut the list down to three.

@Benedick: Apologies. I know it was tacky.

@JNOV: I ordered those three to release in the garden. Cletus will be here Thursday with a bucket.

Note to self: acquire moonshine. Plus crack.

@Benedick: Careful, Skippy. I just laid down 15# of the best compost ever. I’ll send pics of bees, butterflies, moths and hummingbirds <– maybe, snacking on my Arroyo Lupine, Tidy Tips, Blue Violet, NDN Paintbrush, Bee Balm, Evening Primrose, Black-Eyed Susan and Global Gilia growing in the community garden.

@JNOV: We have daffodils!!! Woo hoo!! And for some reason there is a perfume abroad in the garden. It could be narcissus but I don’t know. I only have about twelve blooms open with the rest on the way. Daylillies are pushing up everywhere, as are poppies. I’m having a pruning crisis re the hydrangeas but it looks like there’s nothing for it but to man up, put on my big boy pants, and get busy with the lopper.

I don’t know if I’m right about this but it seems that every year I see fewer geese flying north. This year I only saw one flock of perhaps a hundred. When we first lived in this region I’d see many flocks like that, and larger flocks too.

@Benedick: The S. Jersey Canadian Geese weren’t migrating probably more than fifteen years ago. We lived near a mosquito haven, I mean a pond, and despite many, many, many many signs saying, Don’t feed the geese, Dumbass,” people fed the geese.

Las winter I saw a flock (or is it a gaggle or a murder?) of Canadian geese, and I said, “They’re heading to Canada!” My friend looked at me and said, “You can see Canada from your backyard, Dumbass.”

@JNOV: It is a gaggle, isn’t it? And a murmurartion of starlings. And a horde of Republicans.

Fave thing recently seen on TFLN:

He corrected my use of grammar… I think we both know that means i have to sleep with him

@Benedick: I thought that was masturbation of starlings. Or is that just me?

@nojo: I think that is just you. And why we love you.

@nojo: That’s the group name for Republican pundits.

This morning I was so tired that I thought is was a gaggle of turkeys.

@mellbell: Glad to help. We can totally party with the Haytee-ans.

@JNOV: My friend ____ was the athletic director at Evergreen for a while.

@redmanlaw: I need to check out the campus. I’m curious to see if it’s similar to Stockton. They were founded at damn near the same time, and I think our hippy profs and their hippy partied. Our hippy profs have retired due to depression. I think we have two left. It’s sad.

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