King of the Crapper

King of the Crapper

Another recent anniversary we should commemorate is that of Thomas Crapper, who died on the 27th of January, 100 years ago (sorry for the belated obituary, Tom). Contrary to popular opinion, it appears that Thomas Crapper did not invent the toilet, but he did do much to improve its function, including the ballcock and “Crapper’s Valveless Water Waste Preventer (Patent #4,990) One movable part only.” Excellent job, Thomas. Apparently, toilet improvement is a continuing effort, as there is even a …Read the Rest

Before I Sleep

Before I Sleep

Robert Frost, Pulitzer Prize winner, farmer, teacher, light-bulb-filament changer, newspaper delivery man, and American poet known for such works as “The Road Not Taken” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” died 47 years ago today. He had a lot to write about. When Frost was eleven, his father died of tuberculosis, leaving the family with $8. His mother died of cancer, his sister died in the mental hospital which Frost himself had committed her to, his sons were …Read the Rest

Mexican Dogs

Mexican Dogs

In Coahuila, Mexico, on the toll road between Durango and Torreon and just past the exit for Gomez Palacio, you might see a dead dog on the side of the road. He’s lying there, slowly decomposing in the desert sun and being carried away by the buzzards and the pack-rats and the scurrying beetles a few bites at a time, because I killed him. Driving back from the plant in Durango where I must spend a large part of my …Read the Rest

Spoils of War

Spoils of War

I don’t get it. In the late 80s, a man named Ali Hassan al-Majid, who started his career in the Iraqi army as a motorcycle messenger, worked diligently with cousin Saddam Hussein to gas 5,000 Kurdish villagers in northern Iraq, thus earning him the nickname “Chemical Ali.” In all fairness to Ali, some say that Iran was responsible for the attacks, while still others claim the Kurds were “rebels” and the attacks therefore justifiable.   But whatever the reasons, Ali’s work …Read the Rest

Pop, Pop, Pop

Pop, Pop, Pop

Nobody I know died today. This could be because I don’t know that many people. But every day, over six-thousand people in the US join the invisible choir. That’s almost five people every hour. Around half of the deaths are due to heart disease or cancer, followed by stroke, respiratory disease, accidents, diabetes, flu, Alzheimer’s, kidney disease, and septicemia (blood poisoning). Yes, blood poisoning. Better get that tetanus shot up to date. Most of those who died were probably thinking …Read the Rest

Lost Pilots

Lost Pilots

This toothy fellow, eerily resembling one of Sigourney Weaver’s aliens, died on the shore of New Zealand recently. Nobody knows why he did it, nor why he, in Jim Jones fashion, coaxed fourteen of his fellow Pilot whales to say fuck it and follow him, taking a long swim up a shallow bay. Officials said they appeared to be “otherwise healthy specimens,” but being an otherwise healthy specimen has never stopped one of us humans from putting a pistol to our …Read the Rest

Jean Simmons

Jean Simmons

I woke up in a damned hard bed this morning, one surrounded by yellow plaster walls and dirty green-checked carpeting, the hotel room AC still rattling a vague metallic staccato that had kept me awake for most of the night. Rolling out from under the covers, I wandered off to the toilet, flipping on the TV set along the way. As I stood leaning with one hand against the far wall and watching last night’s beer and Long Island Iced Tea arc into the bowl, I heard Charles Osgood …Read the Rest

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