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What’s top of my mind: Illness. I have something. It is probably bad allergies or a head cold. Regardless of its etiology its dry hacking cough that can be heard as faraway as Sedona. I am also feeling malaise and unable to breathe through a congested nose. I tried Christian Scientist; I’ve read “The Scientific Statement of being” and I’ve told my so-called illness it is only error and to go away. Despite my efforts to un-see it it refuses to un-see me. I am ready for Nyquil or better yet a hot toddy which my friend Glen has a capitol recipe.

Where I’ve been: The new pizza place. Hot puppies! The local Hallmark store closed and reopened as a pizza parlor. Our usual place (Streets of New York) closed some time ago and there was no nearby alternative until now. They advertise having a ‘Detroit-style” pizza. This pizza is the best there is; do no dare to question this. Unfortunately theirs is page 71; it has lots to be improved upon. I’ve had proper Detroit-style pizza and theirs is a pale imitation. I hope they are ‘just learning’ and get it right in time. If not, I am sticking to the round typical pies. They do have a nice salad though.

Where I’m going: The appliance store (or something like it). I asked Someone what he wants for his birthday and what he would like is a TV. Ours went out many months ago and we haven’t bothered to replace it. Someone watches all his shows on his iPad. I don’t miss having a television but it would be nice to have a proper one when we want to watch something together. We are limited by the space where it would stand in, which is not a large one. I hope they still make them that size.

What I’m watching: Cabinet of Curiosities. The other night we watched the first of an eight-part series of horror stories. The first was a Twilight-Zone sort of story. It wasn’t exactly dinner-friendly (which is when we watched it) but it was well-produced. I am certain we will see the others – maybe on the new TV screen.

What I’m reading: Kurt Vonnegut. I am not familiar with the works of Mr. Vonnegut so I thought I would have myself a look-see. Rather than reading Slaughterhouse-five and I reading “Breakfast of champions”. I’m only a few chapters in but it looks promising. I like his wit and style and the story is interesting – a good sign for a work of fiction.

What I’m listening to: Windham Hill. Every once in a while when I am waxing nostalgic and am needing some calm I play music of this ilk. It’s like a cup of Celestial Seasonings Sleepy time tea: warm, comforting but not much taste or depth to it, but comforting. Although I have heaps it all sort of sounds alike.

What I’m eating: Pho. One of the pharm reps brought Vietnamese soup for lunch the other day, which was a surprise and quite the treat. The bowl was a deep and wide as Lake Michigan and I am getting a few meals out of it. I love a good soup, and pho is one of my favorites now.

Who needs a good slap: Duolingo. My on-line language place recently did up the place to be more like a phone game than a classroom. The new layout is such that I can’t find anything. I dislike the notion of ‘learning is like playing Candy Crush”.

On my 1-5 scale I give Duolingo dos bofetadas which is two slaps.

Who gets the fist bump: Mr. Larry Muffin. The dear sent me a 2023 calendar of photos from the east coast of Canada, a very scenic area. He is un très bon homme well over quatre pieds. S’il vous plaît ne lui donnez pas de petits pains et autres.

What I’m planning: Ructions with the pharmaceutical representative. This Friday I meet with the pharm rep whose company has a new medicine out for depression. Usually these things are just old meds tweaked a bit and labeled ‘new’ but this one Auvelity is lauded as different for addressing channels in the brain that psychedelic supplements and ketamine do. Hot puppies! Something really new! In my research I’ve discovered this new med is a combination of bupropion (Wellbutrin) which has been around since the 80s and …wait for it….. dextromethorphan which is Robitussin which is cough syrup!?! How on earth does cough syrup treat depression? The cost of this medicine is ~$1000/month. What I wonder is why can’t a patient just combine generic Wellbutrin with over the counter Robitussin? Many questions indeed.

What’s making me smile: The troubles of others. This is not nice to admit I know. I’ve been listening to the woes of some bilious billionaires like Mr. Z and Mr. Musk and that cryptocurrency fellow in the Caribbean whose name escapes me with their companies falling to pieces and this makes me smile a bit. The psychosis of billionaires has a tragic side to it that when you are rich no one dares tell you your ideas are crackers and stop – until it is too late. I am beginning to hear rumblings from the thralls and minions of Captain Bone-spurs who are beginning to speak up the emperor has no clothes and this is making Herr Furor upset which also makes me smile – a lot. I am not a nice fellow for this.

Note: this one isn’t very ‘nice’; I wrote it with some rancor. Spo

What’s top of my mind: The state of the nation. I won’t write anymore on this sad subject, for it is depressing and makes me feel despair.

Where I’ve been: Home Depot. We went to The Land of Orange Buckets last Sunday to look for Christmas lights for the tree. It was a busy place with folks similarly inclined. After years of white lights I wanted colored lights. I hoped for the old-fashioned type where you screw in the bulbs but apparently none are for sale. We bought three large rolls of LED lights which I hope is enough. Someone purchased some blue strands for the outside. I sense Christmas 2022 will be a sad one for a few reasons; having new lights cheered me up some.

Where I’m going: The Good Dentist. This afternoon I have a routine check up to clean my choppers and possibly schedule a time to get a new cap for the gap in the back. I will inquire about the cost of teeth whitening for my gnashers resemble old ivory. Oh the embarrassment.

What I’m watching: The Lunar Eclipse. I got up at 4AM on Tuesday and went outside to see the setting moon with its eclipse. It was a ominous dark red. It looked awesome. I can imagine how my ancestors saw it as a bad sign of something. By 530AM when I left for home for work the moon was bright white but resembling a cookie someone had taken a large bite out of. By the time I got to work it was a full bright silver as usual. I wonder when the next one will occur.

What I’m reading: The Desrik on Yandro. This is a short story I reread from time to time about a pompous self-centered rich man who is lured to Yandro mountain where his great-grandfather once lived but fled a witch living in a desrik on top of it. This spooky tale contains a breviary of beasts like The Behinder, and The Toller, which add to the horror and imagination. There is satisfaction seeing a narcissist bully-type get his come-uppance.

What I’m listening to: Buddha bar music. October has the spooky songs and December has the carols. November is a relatively quiet month when it comes to music. Mercifully there are no songs associated with Thanksgiving time. I am fond of low-key jazz/ersatz New Age music commonly called “Buddha Bar”. It makes for good background music until we haul out the ho ho ho tunes 1 December.

What I’m eating: Licorice. I was on FB the other day when I let out I’d sooner eat rats at Tewkesbury than licorice. A friend called me out on this. She asked had I ever had proper no rubbish-type licorice. I admitted no I have not. I’ve heard rumors thems who live in Sweden and those parts eat the stuff with relish, including salted licorice. I forgot about this dialogue until a small package arrived on Monday, filled with two types of licorice. Oh the pain. The unsalted ones (shared like cats) tasted like… well…. licorice, really no different than Good n’ Plenty minus its charms. The salted ones (herring-shaped) were better that the salt disguised the licorice for a while. The taste of salted licorice is something I can’t readily describe but I’m guessing raw herring probably tastes similar.

Do you enjoy/eat licorice?

Who needs a good slap: Liars. Folks who believe what they wish was true and shout it to make it become ‘true’ were once upon a time considered bad people. Nowadays they are applauded and encouraged, thus expunging The Ten Commandments of one of its rules while these Liars advocate they be posted in public buildings.

On my 1-5 scale I give 5 slaps on the grounds they do a lot of hurt.

Who gets the fist bump: The House Manager. The computer in my office in Mesa is becoming more crotchety with slowness and freezes. This was irksome but now down-right aggravating, correlated with something a tech-minion of The Overlords did to it to enhance security. A classic case of Verschlimmbesserung. I told the House Manager either ten-year-old computer gets replaced or I do. She is a dear, that she didn’t question the request but is getting me a new one. Brava!

What I’m planning: Irish Curry Sauce
. William (the dear!) recently posted a recipe for a curry sauce apparently quite popular in Ireland as a substitute for nasty catsup for the fries er chips. This sounds scrumptious and must-try. However it violates one of my general rules to … oh you know the one.

What’s making me smile: Twitter. This is pure schadenfreude and I am ashamed to admit it but there it is. I quit Twitter some time ago when I realized it was giant black hole time-suck of negativism and lies and hurts. Some of the business podcasts I listen to talk about the drama and woes poor Mr. Musk is going through and the whole debacle makes me smile to see him squirm. I’m in a mean spirit so it is nasty of me to hope it causes him a lot of loss and grief for what he did to the staff. If Mr. Musk lets back on you-know-who I hope both of them take a one-way hike up Yandro mountain and never come down.

What’s top of my mind: November. After the revelry that was October and before similar occurs in December I appreciate the relatively calmness of November. Back in Michigan, November was perpetually cloudy and gray and the bright colors of autumn were stripped away that all the trees were a dull brown. I never found the month sad or gloomy. Au contraire November was a month of quiet anticipation for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The first snowfalls occurred in November, not enough to stick but a powder-like dusting to add to the excitement of the pending holidays. I miss this. There is nothing like this in Arizona where I live (sunny and green) and there is no sense of Thanksgiving as I don’t really have them anymore. I still get and appreciate the quietness that comes before the storms of December.

Another item ‘what’s top of my mind’ is today is All Soul’s Day, when some remember and honor the dead. On this day I think of the dear departed, like Ann Marie and Todd, whom I miss.

Where I’ve been: The gated community to the north. When we moved to AZ in 2005 the land to the north of our subdivision was desert, filled with cacti and wildlife. In time it was all razed and another subdivision was erected. In contrast to ours, the houses are huge things with very small yards (if any) and none have pools. Another difference: the entrances are gated. To get in one needs a code number to open the gates. Urs Truly doesn’t have it. Sometimes in my evening strolls the timing is right that I am passing the swinging iron gates just as a car is entering or leaving. Right after the car drives away and before the gates close I walk in. Mercifully there is no shooting and no one calls the cops that some upstart has entered the premises.* The houses are very close together and they all have very short drive ways so the front areas are easily seen. Since these are all covered in one-way screens and shutters there is no peeping Tom action. I found a sidewalk in the back that leads out of the sub-division that doesn’t have a fence to it so if I really want to get in I can without having to dodge exiting cars, but now that I’ve seen the place I don’t want to.

Where I’m going: The Good Dentist. I turned over the face calendar to November to find a post-it saying ‘DDS 11/9″. This is for a cleaning and to figure out when I get a ‘cap’ for the screwed-in base sitting in my upper jaw on the port side. I will inquire too about teeth whitening. Before covid-19 we would go to Scottsdale to get our teeth whitened but it took a long time to drive there. The dentist is closer by. After a lifetime of drinking tea Urs Truly has tooth enamel like old ivory piano keys. Oh the embarrassment. Not that anyone ever sees me smile. When I smile with teeth my face curls up to look like The Grinch realizing his ‘awful idea”.

What I’m watching: Nothing for now.
The Tube of Yous is full up with awful political commercials you can’t fast forward through, making whatever is seen soured for the introduction. Sometimes at supper (for Someone likes to watch TV during meals) we will watch “Letterkenny”. Apparently we pay for this but this too stops often for #%&$ political commercials. Speaking of “Letterkenny’ I’ve noticed I am adding “S” to many of my words nows at work. Oh the horror.

What I’m reading:  A new medicine for depression. This one shows promise that it works somewhat differently than the others. This one, called Auvelity, involves the NDMA ( N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors. These types of receptors don’t get pressed by the usual antidepressant medications. Ketamine and psychedelics do involved the NDMA systems, which makes them promising in ‘refractory’ cases viz. cases that don’t respond to the usual type of medicines for depression. A new medication that isn’t a ‘controlled substance” or requires going to a specific distributor (as ketamine does) would be a good thing indeed. But let’s not count our chickens. I’ve seen many promising new meds fizzle. For once I want the pharm rep to come in so I can ask a bunch of questions hopefully they can answer.

What I’m listening to: Snow. I have an app that generates various ‘snow sounds” from a light snow to blizzard. Having no proper November (or seasons) I try to create some via sound. These snow sound apps are cozy/nice to play as background noise; they remind me of my childhood when it would snow nonstop for days and piles would be higher than I stood tall. Snow was marvelous then, something to play in and I was never cold for going into it. School sometimes shut from it – what a gift! There is no snow anymore , not where I live anyway, and I sense even if I were to move back to snow-prone country what snow would fall would be seen only as a nuisance.

What I’m eating: Pumpkin seeds. Every year after we carve pumpkins I save the seeds for toasting. They are the official snack of November. I used to create all sorts of flavors but I’ve learned the fancy types don’t get eaten much, so I stick with simple salting. Pumpkin seeds are good for munching especially if I am trying to avoid snacking on worse things. Spo-fans will be amused to read one year I toasted seeds using a curry, thus creating my own curried snacks. I avoided them not from GI upset but they weren’t very good.

Who needs a good slap: The Postal Service. We’ve been inundated in the post with political postcards, both ‘for’ something or someone and ‘against’ them often in the same day’s mail. The volume of paper is profound and it all goes straight to the rubbish although I try to bring it to work to put in the shredder for recycling. Do these damnable things actually persuade anyone? I did my ballot so cease and desist. I realize this is a case of shooting the messenger; it is the politicians that really need the slap.

On my 1-5 scale, I give the U.S. Postal Service one slap just enough to let them know.

Who gets the fist bump: The trick-or-treaters. On All Hallows Eve La Casa de Spo received 45 beggars, which is twice the number from last year.** The children smiled and they were polite and said their thank-yous. There wasn’t any impudence of disliking what was given to them or cheeky demands for more or something ‘better”. Good for them!

What I’m planning: Home Deport for Christmas lights. Last year after Christmas we removed the Christmas lights that came with the tree that was purchased in 2005. Over the years the lights slowly gave out. The tree is OK so we made the decision to remove the lights to make room for new ones. Patience above! When we went to buy some in December (before and after Christmas) every place had sold out. Apparently this sort of thing is only available earlier? This weekend I hope to obtain some. After many years of white lights, I would like coloured ones. Perhaps I can get the old-fashioned types viz. the lights you screw in the bulbs. I hope it is not too late already.

What’s making me smile: Random texts. I don’t get many text messages, but when I do it always makes me smile to hear from someone. This may be as simple as a photo or a meme, or a sort of ‘I’m thinking of you” something or other. It is nice knowing someone is thinking of me. Sometimes I feel lonely and this helps mightily.

*Of course being white and male helps. I also carry a flashlight (or torch) so it’s not like I am trying to sneak about. There is a part of me that would like a cop being called so I can hand him my knapsack of rocks.

**Always the scientist, I keep records of how many beggars and what candy was received well. Thanks to this data I’ve tailored the treats to the taste and the size of the beggar. I hold the reputation of being the best on the block, thank you very much.

What’s top of my mind: Hallowe’en of course. The decorations are nearly all up and the candy (A through C class) is safe in the freezer away from six-handed monsters* and their ilk. The menus are planned and the wicked pack of cards are shuffled. Jolly good fun! Attendance has been done in the past few years; I hope this year we get more beggars. I’m ready.

Where I’ve been: Safeway. Uncle Albertson often doesn’t have something I want. This is usually along the line of an imperial tid-bit or an atypical ingredient for a recipe. Across from the gym where I work out is a Safeway. It is located in a not-too-elite neighborhood. Yet whenever I go there for something they always have what I need. Talk about judging a book by its cover! Someone has a theory the reason I can always get these atypicals is the usual patrons of this store aren’t ones to buy those sorts of items, so they are there. It’s an interesting theory.

Where I’m going: “Hocus Pocus”. Friday evening The Phoenix Symphony forgoes it usual repertoire of classical music to play the music for the movie “Hocus Pocus” (in E-flat). Ticket holders are encouraged to dress in costume. For once I may not nod off during the performance. I fancy attending in my Viking helmet and tunic on the grounds when else can I do this. There may be talk at the restaurant afterwards.

What I’m watching: “Dracula”. I finally saw this iconic film the other day and I found it Page 71 (Spo-slang for ‘a major disappointment). The movie lacked suspense that you are told right away he’s a vampire. Mr. Stoker’s seminal book beats the movie by a Transylvanian mile for set up and suspense even though we all know he’s a vampire from the get go.

What I’m reading: “Men at arms”. This is another book in the “Discworld series”. As always, Mr. Pratchett’s prose makes me laugh at loud:

The Ramkins were more highly bred than a hilltop bakery, whereas Corporal Nobbs had been disqualified from the human race for shoving.’

What I’m listening to: Der Vampyr, by Heinrich August Marschner. I read an article in “Opera News’ on Herr Marschner, one of those composers who was in this time quite popular but Time itself hasn’t been kind to his legacy. Until this week I had never heard of the man or of his work. “Der Vampyr” is a German Romantic opera quite fun and apropos for the week.

What I’m eating: Flank steak. Flank steak is the official dinner at La Casa de Spo on All Hallows Eve. I’ve written about it before. I am grateful for Mrs. Safeway for having some. I shall serve it with spooky slaw and eat it with relish.

Who needs a good slap: Office staff and coworkers. I worked and slaved over a hot stove cooking up Hallowe’en treats like cupcakes and gingerbread cookies (at no small expense thank you very much). These treats weren’t much eaten, and no one stopped by my office to say thank you. Folks here are all on diets or abjuring sugar or avoiding carbs or eating only organic etc. Cast not pearls before swine and that includes orthorexic co-workers. ho ho ho

On my 1-5 scale, I give thems at the office one slap each.

Who gets the fist bump: Nobody. I haven’t had any recent personal encounters with any good-deed-doers and I haven’t been on-line much to hear about heroes and the like. There are a few fellows at the gym who are well over four feet and well-built to boot with whom I would like to bump fists but I ‘keep it sweet’ as Spos like to say – not that any of them have been worthy of a fist bump either. Stirges.

What I’m planning: Tarot card readings. Every year on All Hallows Eve I get out Urspo’s Pack of Wicked Cards and do a reading for my next twelve months. I read them for friends as well. Last Sunday several Spo-fans raised their hands to say they would live a reading, so I will do theirs too.

If you would like a reading and you haven’t yet said yet in the comments, it’s not too late to request such.

What’s making me smile: “I am hope.” Urs Truly regularly experiences the emotion of despair. I have to continuously watch this emotion lest it take over my mentality. In the Netflix series “Sandman” Sandman, A.K.A. Dream descends into Hell to retrieve a stolen object of his being held by a demon. The ruler of Hell, Lucifer Morningstar, won’t just give it to him but challenges Dream to a sort of wizards duel (with very high stakes). They take turns changing themselves into things in order to destroy each other. Lucifer progresses from a wolf to a viper to pestilence then to a super nova, and finally to the end of the universe. ‘I am anti-life, the beast of judgment, the dark at the end of everything”. Lucifer gloats over the fallen Dream and smirks some, saying there are no more moves as ‘what can survive the anti-life?” Lord Morpheus slowly rises, and says

“I.. am……Hope”

The lights come on illuminating Hell and music surges. He stands erect and with a quiet triumph he asks Morningstar: “Well Light-bringer, it’s your move. What is it that kills hope?”

Sometimes when feeling despair I go to The Tube of Yous and watch this scene. It gives me courage; it makes me smile.

*A six-handed monster while fleeting

Joined some boys who were out trick-or-treating

But when he reached for the candies

With all of his handies

Everyone shouted ‘that’s cheating!”

What’s top of my mind: Nothing specific. Every time I try to pin this bad boy down I realize nothing is exactly top of my mind. Instead there is a cauldron of bats* flitting about my mind, none taking center of attention or standing still to make one prominent. Some of these pesky things are memories for long ago apparently with nothing to do but remind me of things I prefer to forget. Oh the embarrassment and give me an Adderall.

Where I’ve been: Total Wine. At this time of year many breweries put out their autumnal-type brews. Total Wine allows one to ‘build your own six pack” choosing from various breweries. I am not one to drink beer but one of these lovelies goes nice with fall dinners of stews and chilis. I like my beer dark, strong, and somewhat bitter – like my men.

Where I’m going: The Arizona Opera. It’s opera season again and the first show is Saturday night. The AO every year does a few classics and one or two new things. I prefer the latter. ‘The falling and the rising’ is an opera of which I know nothing, so I won’t have any pre-expectations or previous performances to compare it with.

What I’m watching: ‘Werewolves on wheels’. I’m watching movies apropos for Hallowe’en. My friend Eileen is Queen of the B-movies and upon consultation she’s provided some doozies. Last weekend was “Werewolves on wheels” a combination biker film with Satanists. Oh the horror – and not in a good way. As we watched this campy debacle, Someone and I turned into commentators ala ‘Science mystery theatre 3000″. I don’t recommend seeing this one. Eileen says ‘House of the seven corpses” is not to be missed. Maybe not.

What I’m reading: LORE books. Mr. Mahnke’s a lovely podcast LORE is full up with spooky and mysterious legends. He’s translated the episodes into book form. They are fun reads at this time of year.

What I’m listening to: The Isle of the Dead by Rachmaninov. This is another one to pull out at this time of year. Romantic era music is full up with spooky themes.

What I’m eating: Envy Apples. In the fall I like apples, but I am picky which ones to have. I like apples not too sweet, which is hard to obtain as most apples in the supermarket are as sweet than sugar candy. I am not fond of Granny Apples either. Although they are not sweet their ‘bite’ are like chomping plastic and they don’t have much flavor. Envy Apples are the best I can do with store-bought apples; they are not too sweet and they have some flavor.

What sort of apples do you like?

Who needs a good slap: Patients. Politicians are low hanging fruit, so I will skip over these 5-star cravens in favor of slapping a few patients. A handful of them have been nasty on the phone, not at me but at the receptionists. I am told they are shouting and using expletives. It is one thing to have mood swings in a mental illness but another thing to be nasty to the staff, who are young woman. The shouters and the swearers are nearly all the shouters are men.

On my 1-5 scale, I give anyone who screams and curses on the phone three slaps.

Who gets the fist bump: The neighbor. The house to the north on the other side of the wall is for sale and the owners are putting out ‘free stuff’ on a trolley at curbside. Harper and I pass this pile every morning on our dog walks. Recently they put out eight small wine carafes, the type used in restaurants when the waitstaff brings wine in them and pours them into the glasses for the table. I took them home and cleaned them up for…. I don’t know yet what for , but I like them.

What I’m planning: Pizza skulls. Every October I get out the deep dish pan with the skull shapes. I put down pizza dough and fill them sauce, cheese and toppings. On the 31 October I use the pan to make skull cakes. Jolly good fun!

What’s making me smile: Kat, my future-ex-wife. Spo-fans may recall Someone and I used to regularly attend ‘Show tunes” at the local watering hole, which was manned (as it were) by Kat, my future-ex-wife. Oh, how I miss those times! particularly Kat who was always entertaining and good with the boulevardiers. Someone sometimes works at a certain theatre company downtown. Last weekend the manager there told him the new bartender had asked him to ask Someone if his mate, ‘her future-ex-husband’ was there with him. Someone was nonplussed until he realized it was Kat! I went downtown early to pick him up a bit early to greet her. I missed her; it was lovely to see her again. She always makes me smile.

*I looked this up Yes, a collection of bats is called a cauldron. Who would have thunk it?

What’s top of my mind: My innards. Last weekend something nasty set up shop in my lowers to create a few days of GI hijinks and shenaniganary. The majority of it has passed (figuratively and literally) but there are some aftershocks that occasionally take me by surprise. It is a grim reminder to avoid curried snacks. On the positive I can fit into some trousers again.

Where I’ve been: The pharmacy for my flu shot.
Every year for decades I am a good doctor and citizen and get my flu shot and I’ve never had any problems with them. However after this recent one I did have 24 hours of mild aches/malaise and fever/chills. I must have gotten a good dose. I see this as a positive sign: my body is reacting to the vaccine, doing its duty mounting a response in case the real McCoy dares cross my path. Good.

Where I’m going: A dinner/lecture on ketamine. The Boss me to attend a dinner/lecture on ketamine, (the nasal route-type) in anticipation of setting up shop to prescribe such. I am regularly invited to these sorts of dinner lectures, but I always decline in favor of going to the gym. It will be my first one in ages. They are always held at some swanky restaurant in town and it involves some polite powwowing with my fellow wizards at table, most of them there for the meal and don’t much pay attention to the lecture that follows. I clarified with The Boss am I to focus on the clinical aspects of the Rx and not on the the set-up how to administer it. Nasal spray ketamine for the treatment of depression involves the patient coming to clinic, getting a snort up the nose and laying about x thirty minutes in observation they don’t dissociate (after all it is a psychedelic). Groovy.

What I’m watching: Dracula. I have never seen this classic, can you imagine? I put it down every October and then it doesn’t work out. I heard there is a different version in which a different cast (speaking Spanish) redid the movie scene by scene as there were no subtitles at the time. It is said the Spanish version has better acting.

What I’m reading: The Halloween Moon. I have a handful of Hallowe’en books to read this month, starting with Mr. Joseph Fink’s (of “Welcome to Night Vale’ fame) book about a 13yo girl determined to go trick-or-treating one last time only to have the night become something resembling a “Twilight Zone” episode. I read mostly at night and I want to keep turning the pages and not go to sleep, which are signs for a good book.

What I’m listening to: Bone and Sickle. This podcast is a very clever history-based entertainment on all things spooky. It is well-researched and well-presented and presented in a humorous vein. I’m listing to some past episodes containing newspaper articles about Halloween parties and shenanigans from the early 1900s. Jolly good fun!

Yummi Gummi

What I’m eating: Gummi bears. I allow myself a few sweets some indulgences at this time of year, which includes orange, yellow, and black gummi bears. Last year I ordered them too early; in the ardent heat that is late summer here in AZ they arrived as a sordid blob of bad-looking rubber. Oh the pain. I hope this year’s parcel stay solid.

Who needs a good slap: Candy corn nay-sayers. Every October meanies send me jokes picking on this iconic Halloween sweet. The usual slurs are along the line of ‘Satan’s earwax” or memes suggesting blindfolded types cannot taste the difference between candy corn and an orange crayon found in the junk drawer. Oh the slander.

On my 1-5 scale, I give the lot of them two slaps.

Who gets the fist bump: Nobody. Alas I can’t think of anyone this week who did a good deed or stood up to justice. 😦

What I’m planning: Cupcakes. Thems at work are asking when will I next bring in some more holiday goodies. Cupcakes are good, especially if they are chocolate-based. What makes them apropos for the season are the toppings, such as orange and yellow sprinkles or marshmallow pumpkins or candy eyes, that sort of thing. I want to look online and in my cookbooks for something with a little more élan.

What’s making me smile: Corny Hispanic Jokes. One of my friends is sending me ‘Hispanic jokes”, which I suppose is OK as he is Hispanic. His latest:

A Mexican magician tells the audience he will disappear on the count of three. He says, ‘uno, dos….” and POOF!! He disappeared without a tres!

What’s top of my mind: End of the year matters. October, November, and December always seem more busy compared to the previous trios and thus need more planning ahead of time. I want each month to be on its own but they tend to blur into one long ninety days. I want to focus on Hallowe’en first and not fret about Thanksgiving or Christmas until then, but some things need to be done sooner the better. There are the holidays to plan and times-off to request. I don’t want to be caught like last year trying to shop/do too much in December.

Where I’ve been: The Garage. Where I live the homes have no basements so folks keep things either in a rented storage locker or in the garage. When garage doors are open on the street you can see who does what. The garage at La Casa de Spo is cluttered and full up with discards that are still useable. A garage sale has been proposed for over a decade but the conclusion is the the moon will go blue with cold before this happens. When I can I am in there separating the sheep from the goats as it were into what goes into the rubbish and what goes to Good Will. Some of the neighbors have tidy garages with cars and not much else. How nice that would be.

Where I’m going: ‘A delicate balance’ by Edward Albee. Someone announced the other day we have tickets to see this play this week. He reminds me we have seen this play before, but I don’t remember. I have seen countless plays in my life. Alas, Babylon! I remember only the tip of the iceberg number of them. I suppose I saw ‘A delicate balance’ at The Stratford Festival or The Shaw Festival (they do that). I have a vague memory characters in Mr. Albee’s dramas say lots of clever things and do odd things that don’t make much sense.

Anyone seen this play?

What I’m watching: Hurricane Ian. I’ve written on this already: I have a fascination with hurricanes. With politics and leadership the way they are in Florida, I am curious to see what the governor and the residents do in reaction to Ian. Will people not do the right things merely because they are told to do so? Will preparation be merely to pray away the storm? There is a nasty part of me that wishes to see destruction, particularly to certain parts and residences in Florida. Has anyone proclaimed Ian is G-d’s will on Florida for evil-doings done therein?

What I’m reading: ‘Sons and lovers’ – D. H. Lawrence. After finishing a few short ‘light’ reads, I am proceeding with Mr. Harchick’s (the high school English literature teacher) list of ‘thumping good reads”. I’ve read 13 out of 19 of them. The next one is Mr. Lawrence’s lofty tome. Wish me luck; this looks a long one.

What I’m listening to: The king in the carpark. This week I heard a podcast summarizing the history of how Richard III of England was found buried beneath a parking lot. I learned they found the bones in the first attempt, based on deciding to dig under an “R” (for Rex) which actually meant “reserved”. It turns out he had scoliosis so the famed ‘humpback’ wasn’t wrong. From the soil analysis, R3 had worms, poor devil, but that was probably common back then. Fascinating too is there were ructions where to next bury him. I learned he ended up in Leicester Cathedral on the grounds anybody exhumed in a dig is to be buried in consecrated ground within the diocese where the remains were located. This leaves only one English monarch whose whereabouts aren’t known: Henry I.* I hope someone goes looking for him.

What I’m eating: Salmon. And lots of it. We have two meal kits services and I try to keep on top of them, carefully selecting for each week there is a fish dish, a meat dish, and a vegetarian dish. Somehow I got three out of the last six kits with salmon. I very much like salmon but this too much. Happily the fish is prepared in different ways. I am improving my salmon-cooking skills to make a crispy skin and a not too-done-nor-dry interior.

Who needs a good slap: The Family Circus.** I have never cared for this comic. As a boy I thought is mawkish and repetitive. I figured it would fade away as most comics do in time. I recently discovered not only is TFC still going but it remains one of the most popular comics ever. I had a look-see and it’s just the same: ‘cute’ One line remarks said by three children still the same age they were in the 70s. Why on earth is this comic popular? I suppose it is because it is ‘cute’ not deep nor thoughtful – and it’s predictable/the same. Many folks like things to be this way.

On my 1-5 scale I give The Family Circus one slap.

Who gets the fist bump: Bill at the gym. At the gym I often see the same folks. No one actually introduces themselves it seems but we all see each other. There is one fellow I regularly see there, a good-looking dude well over four feet, who reminds me of a friend I had long time ago who is dead. After countless times seeing each other I was brave and approached him to say I admired his diligence for his always here. He laughed and said likewise. He told me his name was Bill. We had some phatic interactions both saying ‘nice to meet you”. He then reached out and gave me a fist bump. I cannot remember when last received such. I was the first time I have had physical contact with another in a long time. This felt nice and I felt good for having reached out..

What I’m planning: Another trip to Michigan. Brother #3 kindly requests I take a round with Father at the end of the year after Christmas so he and family can go skiing. I ring in the new year with Father. This means I have to get tickets, a possible rental car, and find some winter clothes.

What’s making me smile: The arrival of October. Hot puppies! I am one of ‘those people’ who sees Hallowe’en not as a day but a lifestyle to do for a month. I have thirty-one days of Hallowe’en movies and treats and such. My ‘good morning’ memes will be apropos and the podcast subscriptions are sure to have lots of scary stories and history lectures.

Do you do Hallowe’en and when do you start?

*H1 reigned 1100-1135. He was probably well over four feet but not by much.

**This one is petty. It is based on a preference and not on any awful person or doing. Sometimes I just want to slap someone or something simply because it is saccharine.

What’s top of my mind: The Elantra. A few weeks ago the engine light came on, signaling doom and a large mechanical bill. I immediately rang the dealership who were very nice but didn’t have any openings until 20 September. I drove about on tenterhooks, fearful the engine would suddenly shut down or explode. Then a few days ago the light went out on its own, how mysterious. I kept the appointment. The good news is all faults found are addressed and repaired. The bad news: the 1700$ bill. Oh the pain. There goes any hopes for travel plans this year. I haven’t yet heard if the repairs were just normal old-car wear and tear or the results of driving for two weeks with the engine light on.

Where I’ve been: The pharmacy to get my covid-19 booster. Last weekend I got my booster shot. I think this makes #4 or #5 I forget. I get one every time the MDs say to do so. As usual, I felt nothing afterwards but a sore arm. Besides feeling good for doing the right thing, I got a grocery shopping coupon good for 10% off , which I used to fill up the freezer with good-to-eat meaty treats.

Where I’m going: The Ballet. Someone told me the other day we have tickets this Thursday for the ballet. It’s the season again. I am looking forward to it. I don’t recall what we are seeing, probably one of those ‘story book’ productions. I have a good ear for the opera and the symphony but when it comes to ballet I am a dillenente who appreciates it at a superficial level. Ballet is pretty but it all sort of looks the same. Even the dancers blur to be identical in looks. I wonder if anyone will be wearing a mask other than Urs Truly.

Mr Brown (the dear!) Please don’t feed him buns and things.

What I’m watching: Lost in the Pond. Mr. Brown is a fine fellow from England and is well over four feet. His schtick is playing the bewildered Briton living in the Midwest and comparing life there to here. He has a droll sense of humor. In his latest video he talks about words from his youth that Americans don’t use, such as argy-bargy, brolly, cheeky, cling-film, flyover, peckish, and queueing up. I like the sound of cling-film; I want to use it sometime.

What I’m reading: Emails sent from friends. Nearly all emails I get are rubbish types. This has recently changed. I’m beginning to receive regular correspondences from friends who have taken time to write out their thoughts and happenings. It feels like the old days when I delivered letters in the post and not just bills and junk mail which is now the wont. I read these emails slowly and carefully and I attempt to return each one to let them know what I thought of their contents. What a delight it is to see one in the inbox among the spam and phishing attempts.

What I’m listening to: Old tunes about autumn. Around Labor Day I pull out the playlist of tunes suitable to autumn: “Autumn Leaves”; “Autumn Serenade”; “It’s Autumn” – those sort of ditties. They are like Christmas carols for the fall. My parents played them on the combination TV and stereo system with the record player on the right and the albums on the left side of the bulbous grey glass television screen (remember them?). Fall tunes have some of melancholy to them, as summer has ended and winter approaches. Back then the falls were cool and crisp and full of yellow leaves from the majestic elm trees that lined our street.

What I’m eating: A brownie. It’s been nearly a month since I ate anything sweet. The Boss made a tray of brownies, marbled with peanut butter. I felt it politic to have one, which I did and I ate it with relish. It was very good, especially with that hot cup of sugarless coffee to balance it off. After a hiatus from sweets the sudden surge of sucrose was quite intense and slightly unpleasant; my taste buds deregulated down a bit. It was a nice treat.

Who needs a good slap: The head shop next door. The office space next to my MESA office has been under construction for some time and it wasn’t clear what it would become. The stank of the renovations seeped into our office at times, causing breathing problems and once we shut down from the fumes. It turns out it is a cannabis dispensary. We can smell someone smoking weed coming from their place. I have an old bias against having these sorts for neighbors as thems that sell drugs can attract crime and ne’er-do-wells. I will work on these bad assumptions but the smell of pot in our office is not nice. I feel sorry for the daycare center on the other side of the CBD shop. Imagine how their business may be effected by the same smell seeping into their kiddy areas.

On my 1-5 scale, I give the new neighbors three slaps. Sell your product but no smoking during working hours.

Who gets a fist bump: The Fates. Someone’s boss has been away on holiday for some weeks, creating more work and extra-long days for him, poor fellow. Monday last as he dressed for work he wistfully said ‘there are two more weeks to go’. That very day, lo! His boss suddenly showed up unannounced stating she was back to work; she felt it was ‘just time to come home’ or something. He takes tomorrow off and he will probably sleep all day. Thank you, ladies.

What I’m planning: Nothing. This is the W for which I cannot find an answer this week. It’s a little early to plan Hallowe’en happenings and there is nothing needing planning at home or at work for awhile. Life looks to be mundane doings.

What’s making me smile: Brown paper packages tied up with strings. Last weekend I wrote to Mr. Bezos to send me some cheer-me-up items toot suite and charge it please thank you very much. I will get the 2023 office calendar (Inuit art) along with some imperial tidbits like hot sauce from Barbados and bucatini noodles from Italy (no rubbish). I also ordered some sauces from Africa, their names escape me. For good measure I threw in a few orders of plastic pumpkins as one can never have enough. I also asked the good fellows (I think they are human) at The Spring-Heeled Jack Coffee Company to send me ‘from the dark heart of Ohio’ some diabolical coffee beans.

Having something to look forward to arriving in the post is a nice feeling that makes me smile.

What’s top of my mind: The late Queen. Whenever I can I tune into The BBC to get all the latest goings-on. It’s touching to see the loving tributes and outpouring of The British and Thems in the Commonwealth. Her sense of duty, service, and perseverance are the traits for which she is most lauded. Good for her; may we do likewise.

Where I’ve been: The periodontist. Spo-fans recall I am missing one of my molars on the port side upper back. I had a screw inserted in anticipation of getting a new tooth. The periodontist says the screw is firm and ready to go for a cap. Time to call The Good Dentist to make it so. After so long a time with a gap there how odd it will feel not to have a space anymore.

Where I’m going: I keep a list of someday-to-buy-items in a list called “Wants”. I don’t ‘need’ anything, but once in awhile I buy things on the rationale I ain’t going anywhere so I can get a few things. Items to buy:

Pirates Lantern Hot Sauce from Barbados

Yaji from Egypt

Little plastic pumpkins (one can never have too many)


2023 Calendars for my two offices (One with owls; another of Inuit Art)

What I’m watching: The weather. Like most folks in AZ at this time of year I am bloody tired of hot and sunny days. I am looking for forecasts with lows below 20F. Next week looks every day sunny 23C to 37C. Not yet.

What I’m reading: What I am NOT reading is Mrs. Dalloway. I stopped in the middle of a paragraph about twenty-five pages in as I was confused, bored, and throughly not enjoying it. No more Virigina Woolf! Not once have I enjoyed her writing. I made a vow to no longer slog through a book on the grounds if I started it I have to complete it. I am about to start reading Pincher Martin or The Borrowers. Whichever I pick it better be good or it will meet the same fate.

What I’m listening to: ‘Songs from the wood’ by Jethro Tull. Do you have albums you associate with certain seasons? I heard this one once upon a time in an autumn (early 80s) and it forever feels like an autumnal item like apples and cider.

What I’m eating: Lao Gan Ma. Hot puppies! In a grocery store I normally don’t use I found it for sale. Normally I have have to ask Mr. Bezos to send me some. It is a hot chili sauce in oil, a combination of grease, heat, and umami for days. My soul swoons. I eat it with relish – or instead of relish.

Who needs a good slap: Book Banners. Brother #3 tells me there is a group of nasty parents at his children’s school on the warpath to ban a few, I forget which ones. It makes me made to think on it. Book banners are especially deplorable to Urs Truly; I put these villains in the ninth level of hell, alongside the animal abusers. Banning books is about control, more specific the loss of control. Folks in charge become frightened of losing their power over how others think. They aren’t wrong. Books make one think and question things, including the rulers and their dogma. History shows thems who ban or burn books are always the bad guys.

On my 1-5 scale, I give thems wanting to ban books, 5 slaps – on each side of the face.

Who gets the fist bump: The Rx delivery service. They made a mistake the other day that a parcel of prescriptions came a day earlier than requested. Happily there was someone at the PHX office to sign for it so it was sitting on my desk when I arrived the following day. A few minutes after I realized this, the Rx service called me, apologizing it was delivered a day early and is it there? I said yes and they apologized. I thought it nice they called to check on things.

What I’m planning: A Spo-shirt giveaway. I am presently making a shirt I know when completed I won’t wear. That happens sometimes: I get a fabric but when it becomes a shirt it just doesn’t float my boat. I think I will post a picture of it, and collect names of thems interested, and draw one out of a helmet as the winner. Stay tuned if you fancy trying for this.

What’s making me smile: Hocus Pocus 2. Spo-fans know I adore Hallowe’en. I saw “Hocus Pocus” for the first time only a few years ago and I liked it enough to watch it every October. They are making a sequel. I don’t subscribe to The Disney Channel so I won’t be seeing it but it makes me smile knowing there are others who like the movie enough Disney decided on another round of Sanderson Sister shenanigans. I hope it goes well.

What’s top of my mind: Insomnia. As mentioned in yesterday’s post I am having period of insomnia. Insomnia is sometimes defined ‘as not getting sleep when you want it.’ I am getting tired and ready for bed by 8PM. I wake throughout the night and yet come 4AM I am wide awake. I am assessing the factors why this is happening. I am forcing myself to stay up later and to avoid liquids in the evening. Another factor (I daresay the big one) is the heat of the room. I sleep best in a cold dark room wrapped burrito-style in a thick blanket. Despite the AC running nearly 24/7 it is warm and I don’t sleep well without a cover one me. This goes on/off throughout the night.

Where I’ve been: The garage storage cabinets. To meet my goal of ‘throw something out each day” I am going through the cabinets in the garage at least the ones I can reach. They are hard to assess as they are blocked by the inoperable 2001 Honda accord (oh the embarrassment). In them I am finding lots of things a) I didn’t know where there b) evoke the emotional reaction ‘why on earth are we holding onto this?” These readily go to the rubbish bin. I feel bad to discard an old Walkman as supposedly still operable, but who wants a battery-powered one-at-a-time CD player? If I can ever get to the other cabinets I daresay they are loaded up with things from pre-Arizona times, like the snow shovel we felt obliged to bring with us from Michigan in 2005. Oh the pain.

Where I’m going: Nowhere again. There are no plans, no outings scheduled for September. I lead a dull life.

What I’m watching: British things. I am watching more episodes of “Dr. Who” and the “Sandman” series which often have the same actors albeit older. Someone points out a few I’ve seen in the “Harry Potter” movies. Every once in a while I watch a ‘Letterkenny’ episode which isn’t technically British but I lump them together as part of the Commonwealth at least they have in common in these countries one can get a decent cup of tea.

What I’m reading: Mrs. Dalloway. Virginia Woolf is one of those writers everybody lauds as one of the greats but whose work few actually read. I read “To the lighthouse” and was bewildered how anyone can stomach such. I just started ‘Mrs. Dalloway’; it resembles Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ in form and story, a stream of consciousness on one day. It isn’t ‘light reading’ which is not good for bed time. According to an article “How many books do you have left to read?” my data suggests I have 270 books in me. I don’t want to waste time with any that bore me.

Mr. Feiffer. Please don’t feed him buns and things

What I’m listening to: Jason Feiffer. This fine fellow well over four feet does research into those things we bemoan as bad and unique to the present but have always been so. Every generation thinks the newest gadget will destroy life as we know it and corrupt the youth and soon we will all be degenerates living in cardboard boxes and drinking out of paper bags. His research assures us while lifestyles change it doesn’t really worsen. He and his work are upbeat and cheerful, which is comforting. Change is scary. It evokes panic and dread, but it is followed by adaptation and the new norm and finally with ‘wouldn’t have it any other way’.

What I’m eating: Chili. After Labor Day I like to make chili. I am always looking for new and various recipes for such, hoping to find the one that stands out as spectacular. The latest incarnation comes from Cooks Illustrated, known for coming up with ‘the best’ through trial and error testing. This version involved treating the ground meat (I used bison) with baking soda to up the PH for better browning. It called for a slurry of spices made with one ounce of ground tortilla chips. It turned out fair. In the defense of the recipe, I had to substitute the recommended chilies and my can of tomatoes was the wrong kind (flavored). Worse, I made it in a non-stick pain which didn’t do well for browning the meat. It has a ‘savory’ taste – not bad, but I like my chili ‘on fire’ with heat. No rubbish types.

Anyone got a really good kick-but chili recipe?

Who needs a good slap: Apple. Someone took advantage of some sort of lawsuit against The Empire that he got approximately ten dollars for it. It turns out you can’t use it towards a payment of something more than the amount. It obliges you to buy something for that exact amount or less, not more. Stirges. Billionaires needn’t be cheap or act out their emotions this way.

On my 1-5 scale, I give Apple one slap.

Who gets the fist bump: The House Manager. The Chief Medical Assistant is away this week. Prescription refills, normally done by her, are being done by The House Manager. She sent me an email saying since I know more about this than she does why don’t I just renew things as I see fit rather than she trying to figure out what’s right and delay and possibly bungle things. Later she called me (which she never does) to tell me I left at work my briefcase with my wallet, meds, and laptop. Salute.

What I’m planning: Autumn trimmings. I sleep in a large bed with a metal frame the connects the four posts from the top with rails. These are ideal for wrapping and garlands apropos for the season. Now is the time to get out the plastic vines with the maple leaves in red, yellow, and brown. Like the real things, the plastic leaves fall off over time and I daresay my decoration looks more like November than September. Time to get some new ones I suppose.

What’s making me smile: I am thinking of eliminating this W. It seems every week ‘what’s making me smile’ comes up a blank that I can’t think of anything that is making me smile. When I start digging about what comes up are all the awful things in nation and world that make me want to run off to Iceland or someplace like it. I suppose Adam Ragusea if making me smile. He is on The Tube of Yous; he talks about cooking for which I often fret I am not doing things properly. He is entertaining and more important he’s assuring cooking is mostly ‘good enough’ by doing simple things right and being mindful to make a good enough dish. It makes me smile to know what I make isn’t being judged like a panel of Olympic judges.

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November 2022

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018