A Brief Nature Walk

I took a break from overdosing on college basketball & watching my bracket go POOF today with a walk to a nearby ‘hood with a duck pond.

Signs everywhere implore people not to feed the little bastards, but as soon as I knelt down to take the above pic, this trio waddled towards me rather aggressively since I’d clearly given them the “Big scary monkey is about to give us free food” body language. Everyone must feed them since they’re so damn cute! This made me wonder about all the non-cute animals people don’t feed – spiders, wolverines, possums…. or the coyotes wandering my neighborhood (unless they leave their pets outside, I guess).

I had no food, so that big brown one on the left took it upon himself to try eating my hand. He gave up after two pecks. I guess I don’t taste good. I didn’t try to pat him.

They don’t want affection. They just want a handout, those cold unfeeling duck whores. No wonder Scrooge McDuck never got married.

Along with the assorted varieties of ducks, there are also Canadian Geese who also have absolutely no fear of people. This big ol’ dude didn’t care how close I got to snap his picture. At least he didn’t immediately switch into food-begging mode like those panhandling ducks.

Biggest cat toy ever, I thought.

But Canadian Geese have a nasty disposition. I’ve seen them attack each other, attack other birds or ducks, or even refuse to get out of the way of golfers on fairways. They’re just pricks.

There are also turtle families along the pond.

They go in and out of the water all day, alternately sunning themselves to warm up, and then back in the water to chase whatever fish the pond is stocked with. They sit so still in the sun you’d think they were decorative sculptures.

Turtles don’t turn up much in art either. While painters in history have loved to capture the look and texture of birds, ducks, waterfowl of all sorts (never mind all sorts of other animals), you won’t find a lot of turtles or tortoises in nature paintings.

But you’ll find ducks, especially in the works of Alexander Koester, a German naturalist artist of the turn of the last century who painted ducks nearly as much as Louis Wain painted cats. Koester had a nice quasi-impressionist style, and painted a ton of groups-of-ducks-on-water works. They must have been popular.

This one is typical – “Ducks At Lakeshore”

I bet none of them tried to bite Alexander.

I’m using ground turkey in my pasta sauce tonight, now that I’m home and settled in to watch more basketball, as well as “The Shadow of the Cat” on tonight’s Svengoolie.

Maybe the duck knew that. Maybe he was buds with the turkey. Maybe it was personal. Hmmm….

The Joys Of Nature

For the past couple of weeks, some local coyote has been crapping in my front yard during the late night hours. Today was dump #4, pretty much in the same spot of lawn that the previous leavings have been. This is how coyotes often mark central core territory, so I guess my house must be the hub of all local coyote activity while I’m sleeping the night away.

This explains all the packages from Acme left at my door.

I’ve got the only lawn in the immediate area comprised of thick and bushy St. Augustine grass – I have a feeling that this coyote must prefer it the way a lot of us prefer a particular brand of toilet paper.

I don’t walk around on my front lawn all that much so this isn’t a big deal, just an annoyance. I’d been cleaning it up each time but now I’ll see what happens if I leave it out there until garbage pick up day when I can shovel it into the bin.

Hopefully it won’t lead to a contest between a bunch of the damn things crapping all over my lawn to claim the territory. At that point, they ought to be helping me pay my mortgage.

I’m Worried About Inflation & Other Random Thoughts

Everything I know about Milton Friedman’s ideas tell me it’s coming. Not looking forward to it, either.

I’m sure Milton liked kreplach, but not at that price.

Today I officially became a “cord cutter,” and got rid of my satellite TV service. No way to really justify spending that amount of money to watch barely a half dozen channels from time to time. I was proud of myself for keeping the rep from spending too much of my time trying to talk me out of it by cracking lots of jokes. She took a liking to me for making her laugh and expedited the process in under 5 minutes.

Either that, or women just don’t want to talk to me.

In any case, it’s done. And now I’ll get my allotment of TV reruns via Locast, which I can recommend if you’re in one of their markets. They cover about half the country.

I spent the last few weeks burning through the two dozen or so saved movies in my DVR before I have to send it back. I might be movie-d out for a while, but it was worth it – I think I only bailed on one of ’em, all the others were good calls to record & watch, nearly all for the first time, or for the first time in many years. Maybe I’ll write about them in this space soon. I’ve been neglecting this blog for a while, even with the increased amount of time I’ve been stuck home with all this crapola.

In the meantime, I guess I should be buying gold, or bitcoin, or kreplach. Gotta put that nest egg somewhere.


Certainly a nice day out. Finally, after maybe two weeks of mostly rain or unsettled garbage.

And like all of you, I’ve been stuck inside, doing my job online for the past week. Felt good to get out and start doing my walks again. I was up to a 4 mile a day routine last summer, I guess I’ll get an early start on that now.

I went up the hill to my usual spot for watching July 4th fireworks and took this shot from my spiffy new phone, the best digital camera I have. The view is a nice one today.

I walked by the big community pool. Totally empty. Three ducks had the whole hot tub to themselves and were riding the jets around and around.

So, putting together all the recent news and combining it with my personal observations, I’m predicting this for our future:

You heard it here first.

The Cure For Stupid

Today I went to the grocery store for some restocking, mostly milk, yogurt and assorted items I had soon-to-be-expiring coupons for.

They only had a few bottles of hand sanitizer on the shelves. Well, I guess I can sorta understand the run on those with coronavirus fears out there. You can’t carry a sink and hot water around with you, after all.

But the shelves stocking cases of bottled water and toilet paper were nearly empty.


Even if you WERE quarantined at home for WEEKS, there’s something called THE FAUCET, WHERE RUNNING WATER COMES OUT.

And it’s NOT an intestinal bug. You don’t NEED that much toilet paper.

(I do, but that’s another story).

So the cure for this stupidity?

SIMPLE! Turns out the other day, there’s a mountain lion wandering my neighborhood. I knew there were coyotes and a local bobcat, but never a mountain lion before. But according to the ever-vigilant on Nextdoor, someone spotted a decent sized lion only a couple of blocks from my house.

I wanted a new kitty. Maybe the lion heard about that.


And then I hope he drinks the water. My cat used to get dehydrated.

And then I hope he pees all over your STUPID CORPSE.

If the lion DOES become my pet, I will train him to do so.

The Hardest Working Batteries In Show Business

They don’t make ’em like this anymore, I guess.

This morning, my stereo forgot all of its preset radio stations, and I remembered that there’s actually a small battery compartment in the back that’s the thing that saves them.

I popped it open to replace what looked like a pair of AA batteries, and when I removed the old ones, it occurred to me that I’ve NEVER replaced these batteries before.

And they’re Sony batteries with assorted Japanese text on them. They’re the factory batteries THAT CAME WITH MY STEREO IN 1984 WHEN I BOUGHT IT.

So they’ve been saving my presets for more than 35 years.

I bet the ones I just popped in there last six months. Kids today….

A Timely Novelty Song From 1947


I’m drinking wine and making an Italian chicken and lentil stew for dinner. I’m watching a Yankees/Red Sox preseason game to watch individual players, and to soothe my baseball addiction with some meaningless sports.

I intend to die as I lived…. as a decadent glutton.

The rest of you are on your own.

Other Guys Dream About Girls

So last night, I dreamed that I had been trying to sleep outside in some North Hollywood park for some reason, and maybe about 4am or so, with the sun coming up, I gave up and figured I’d better head home and call in to work to let ’em know I wouldn’t be coming in.

I walked down Moorpark street in my pajamas trying to make my way back to Burbank (even though I don’t live there anymore), and then found myself in an underground parking garage of a large mall in Universal City.

I thought about catching a bus, but then I looked up the escalator and saw Donald Trump heading my way.

So, I went up the escalator and figured I’d meet the guy, regardless of mine or anyone else’s politics.

I introduced myself and shook his hand, still in my pajamas.

“You look really tired,” he said.

“Well, I’ve been up all night sleeping in the park, gotta get home,” I said.

He laughed and said “I hope you have a pitcher of Margaritas waiting for you there.”

I shook my head no, and then he added. “Watch, now they’ll talk about how I’m drinking pitchers of margaritas.”

“No,” I said. “I know you don’t drink at all.” (And this is true, if you’re curious.)

And then Trump added an observation that has had me pondering all day:

He began “You know when someone puts out a tray of muffins to sell, they always take the best tasting muffin and put it up front, to draw you in. But you know, it’s the best muffin and it’s only there up front to make you buy the others which are inferior. So when you think about it, that muffin is a total lie, a total lie.”

The dream breaks up after that, I woke up chuckling over the muffin speech… but the more I think about it, the deeper it gets.

It’s like a Zen muffin koan.

Avoid the muffin that LIES.

Now, I’ve had some psychic dreams before – I’ve written about them and worked them into the plots of my Wagstaff detective books – so now I’m hoping that Trump tweets something about muffins that tell lies. The more I think about it, it’d be on brand.

I also remember the distinct feeling during my dream that Trump didn’t give off a “Presidential vibe” while I listened to him discuss the muffins. Granted, I’ve never actually met a President. The closest I came was shaking hands with a Presidential candidate, Senator Frank Church, back in 1976 when he appeared at a discount store in Warwick, RI… very fitting for a discount candidate, but it was nonetheless cool to go when I was a kid.

And biggest-loser-in-history Walter Mondale attended my college graduation, and I walked by him and saw how much weight he’d put on since the previous November. He definitely drowned his sorrows in donuts. Or muffins, perhaps, who knows? I didn’t meet or talk to the guy.

But the deeper meaning of my dream is pretty clear to me, at least: when you go into the voting booth, avoid the muffin that lies.

Or just try the chocolate muffins from Costco. They’re pretty damn good, liars or not.


It looks like a rather large rabbit has decided to take up residence in my backyard. And by rather large, I’m gonna go ahead and guess “preggo” since (1) it’s a friggin RABBIT and (2) bunny has definitely decided that my walled-in backyard is a safe spot, unlike the coyote filled nearby woods.

Not sure how she got in the yard – either by squeezing under my gate or squeezing through the small weep holes drilled through the bottom of my front wall.

I haven’t seen her during the day, but at night she’s set off my motion light or I’ve seen her when I switched it on. Seeing me in the window made her run away and hide in the rosemary the other night, but tonight she got braver and simply stared at me.

She’s got my number. Probably the local bobcat told her “Oh that guy? He’s a total patsy.”

I found a small hole dug in one spot in the yard. I’m sure tomorrow I’ll find another. I really don’t care if momma bunny digs a nest and births her babies back there. I let my back lawn die years ago during the drought. And although they won’t have to worry about my gardener’s lawnmower, that leaf blower noise might scare the crap out of them.

Maybe momma rabbit will grow some brains and dig her nest into the side of the hill where the rosemary grows instead of smack in the middle of my dead back lawn, pretty much just a flat field of moss now.

Or maybe not. There’s a reason why rabbits have to multiply the way they do, and that’s because of Darwinist principles that have them raising babies in the middle of someone’s backyard, which from up on high must look like a bullseye to a passing hawk or owl.

I just read this about rabbits’ nests in yards, and it makes me think I’m right about what’s happening.

What I’m actually more skittish about is my memory of a coyote leaping my wall while chasing some animal a couple of years ago and getting trapped in my backyard. When I woke up, he was wandering around the yard wondering how to get out because, well, coyotes are pretty stupid. A coyote leaping that wall to get to a baby rabbit nest would be, well, following the course of nature and all, and I realize it happens in the wild all the time, but I really don’t want to look out my window and watch baby rabbit buffet happen.

Because it won’t go like this.

Then again, with my cat gone a couple of years now, maybe I’m being given a new pet of sorts. If I do find a nest back there, I’ll leave some lettuce leaves or carrot greens near it, maybe.

The bobcat is right.

My Past Continues To Die

A flurry of celebrity deaths of people all connected to the entertainment of my childhood and beyond…

First, producer Gene Reynolds died at a ripe old 96. He’d produced the early seasons of M*A*S*H along with Lou Grant and Hogan’s Heroes, Room 222 and a bunch of other stuff. Especially considering that M*A*S*H’s best years were under his & Larry Gelbart’s supervision, countless hours were spent (and often still are) watching Reynolds’ shows.

Then Orson Bean got hit by two cars while walking in Venice Beach. The first knocked the 91 year old to the ground and the second ran him over. I haven’t read any more about it – I hope it wasn’t some moron on their phone. Bean was a mainstay on game shows like To Tell The Truth back in the day, and more recently was wonderful in Being John Malkovich. Long ago, a friend of mine appeared with Bean in a small theater production out here – a very odd musical about John Cleves Symmes’ attempt in the 19th century to find the hole at the north pole leading to the center of the Earth. I’ll always remember hearing how after the playwright got stone-drunk after witnessing the flop of premiere night, supposedly Bean, playing Symmes’ old professor narrating the tale, came backstage and announced something along the lines of “Looks like we got us here a real bomb, folks!” and everyone erupted in laughter.

For the record, the actors were fine, some set design items were clever… but the script? Ye Gods!

Every backstage story I heard about Bean fit his TV persona.

And then, Robert Conrad died yesterday, star of one of my favorite old shows, The Wild Wild West. Conrad was always reliable for fist fights with his stuntmen buddies in numerous scenes (usually the legendary Red West and Whitey Hughes), and for playing tough guys. He played one of the scuzzier Columbo villains as well, a fitness guru who runs a string of crooked health clubs and murders the guy who discovers the Ponzi scheme behind them. His WW2 TV show got made fun of a lot in its day, but looking back on it in reruns, it’s a decent wartime adventure show with its plots loosely based on the memoirs of Conrad’s role, “Pappy” Boyington.

Conrad had a sense of humor about his image, doing those silly battery ads or losing foot races to Gabe Kaplan on Battle of the Network Stars. Many years ago when Howard Stern’s fans made it their business to phone into the Larry King Live show on CNN and annoy King with endless Stern promotion after King and Stern had some feud, Conrad was on King’s show being interviewed about some project he had coming up, and the Stern-themed calls started rolling in. King kept getting angrier and angrier, but Conrad couldn’t stop laughing and playing along with them.

It’s what Jim West woulda done, with Artie Gordon calling in.

Want more treasured elements of the past to blow up before your eyes? Well, why not start with tonight’s Oscar Awards.

I won’t make any Oscar predictions this year. I just don’t care anymore. I haven’t watched the broadcast in the last couple of years, and I’m not missing anything. I still love movies, but this event no longer has any sort of luster or importance to me at all.

And the WORST of all?

Well, I just got back from running some errands which included a stop at the 99 Cents Only store. And as I browsed the aisles, I noticed more and more items that are NOT 99 cents, but are labeled as supposed “bargains” at 2.99, 3.99, 9.99 and so forth.

They ought to change the name of the store to 99 Cents On Some Stuff, Anyway instead of 99 Cents Only. Amirite?

AND they didn’t have a big plastic pasta strainer to replace the one I have that developed a few cracks. NOR did they have the brand of deodorant I like. THOSE BASTARDS.

But karma – the shopping Gods smiled upon me, and I found a very nice wool winter jacket up the street at Goodwill for only twenty bucks. SO SUCK IT, 99 CENTS FOR WHAT WE BAIT AND SWITCH YOU WITH STORE.

Now I’m home, about to check the math on my friggin taxes. Bah.

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