Thursday, December 31, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 331

It's the last day of the month, and the last day of the year.  And the last day that I can put 3__ and the day of the month, which has been easy these last four weeks.

I am at the library now, having gotten here more than an hour before it closes (it closes early today, for the holiday, and is closed tomorrow).  So, my goal is to finish my "Lara and the Witch" holiday story, and if I have time after that, to think up a title for it.*

I could do it, if I focused.  I really only need to write what gift Holcomb gives Lara for Christmas, and what she does with it, and then there's a short coda after that.  Shouldn't even take an hour.

How much do I suck?  Instead of writing, I looked at all the Twitter comments on some paparazzi pics of Ben Affleck trying to pick up a package while holding Duncan Donuts and coffees.  Everybody had something to say about it, which really blows my mind.

I, as you may or may not know, love Ben Affleck.  I used to get paid to sit in the audience for the Craig Kilborn show in Los Angeles, but there were two times that I went there to watch the taping for free (the guests were Affleck and Bill Shatner, by the way).

If you hate him, that's fine (we all hate somebody that the rest of the world thinks is so darn cool), but I'm a fan, and feel for him when I see pictures like this one:

Well, I went back to the story and got to the end of it as fast as I could.  It's around 7500 words right now, and will need a little bit of work (probably end up around 8500 or so), but I finished it, and that always feels good.  I'll try to put it out in time for next Christmas, and even inserted a reference to it in the third story, "Bundle," which will take a great deal more work (there seems to be two or three sections of the story missing, and one of the main characters, Scott, has a blank line for his last name, over and over and over again).

Words Today: 1399 (I even wrote a bit more at the end of the night, just for kicks)
Words In December: 30,273

Back in the days when I was competing with Big about his crazy goal of a thousand words a day, this would have been just short of success, but since I'm only competing with me, it's pretty great.

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In December: 3482

My uncle said he could tell I had been doing push-ups, by the way my arms look since the last time he saw me.  He then did that thing that Terry Crews always does where he undulates his pectoral muscles and it looks weird A.F.  Oh, and of course John wanted to know how many I could do in a row.  He's gone back down to two hundred at a time, apparently, the big wuss.  

*There is absolutely no chance of that happening, though, so I'll put that title as a goal for January.

Storage Unit Serenade 39

Well, it's the end of the year, and I only got two-thirds of these out (half, if you count all the ones I had to throw out or do over).  I'm afraid I don't do this song any form of justice.  But I guess that's what a New Year is for.


Pre-Eighties Songs: 9
Eighties Songs: 12
Nineties Songs: 8
Aughts Songs: 3
Teens Songs: 7 

Logo by Gino "Impressive Unit Serenade" Moretto.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 330

Today's Wednesday, and I came over to the library as soon as I could manage (cards on the table, I started to get sleepy while editing audio and realized if I didn't stop immediately, I would doze off, and might not make it to the library at all), hoping to get another thousand words on this Christmas story.

I wish I had just finished the darn thing last week, because I could be focused on the New Year and maybe finishing up some other dangling story, or setting goals for January, or bigger goals for 2021, but instead, I've got this story to finish (before it's so far past the holiday that I don't feel like writing Christmas anything) and it's not even shareable until next year.

I tell myself, though, that I can make a "Lara and the Witch" episode of the Outcast, where I answer Marshal's questions, and maybe share a page or so of this story, and that will make it worth it.  But that begs the question . . . is anything truly worth it?

I worked for over an hour on it, and only stopped when they did their nut-shrinkingly loud PA announcement and flashed the lights.  I got through the Christmas Eve section, with Lara's present, and started the presentation of Holcomb's present.  That should make it finishable tomorrow.

Oh, Dawn Wells died.  She played Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island," which was a fixture in my childhood, and, no exaggeration, probably my favorite show of all time until I eleven or twelve.  She was 82, and died of Coronavirus complications.  The weird thing is, just last week, she put out a Christmas/New Year video for her fans, and looked happy and a hell of a lot younger than eighty-two.

Big and I talked a little bit about "Gilligan's Island" in a recent Dunesteef (the "Beefalope" one), and I understand that that show has been forgotten by this generation.  They wouldn't likely understand why it was a big deal, and yeah, it wasn't the greatest show ever, or even the breakthrough/classic that "Star Trek" or "Twilight Zone" or "I Love Lucy" or "Addams Family" or "Andy Griffith" or "Mister Ed" were.*  But it spoke to me, had the greatest theme song until probably "Cheers" or "Greatest American Hero," and I was a huge fan.  Still am, even though I haven't watched it in, jeez, can it really be thirty years or more?  Ugh.

Don't get old, kids.  Die as young as you can.  Die right now, if you've got a few minutes.

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In December: 3382

Words Today: 1475
Words In December: 28,874

*Okay, maybe not "Mister Ed."  Sorry, guys.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 329

Only three more days left in the month/year.  Just enough time to finish my story if I work hard, and achieve all my 2020 goals if I start a serious cocaine habit.

The sunset through the library window is making the trees look reddish, which tells me I've wasted at least fifteen minutes of my time here.

My nephew checked the balance on his debit card last night around ten, and discovered that he was in the negative amount.  Somebody that day had spent over six hundred dollars at a store out of state, and now the bank was charging him a $50.00 overdraft penalty.

He's only thirteen, so the adults volunteered to call the bank to try to sort this out, but all operators were busy with other calls, so my mom decided to go to the bank when it opened today to talk to them in person.  I told my nephew to go with her, but he refused (he refuses about 70% of things I tell him to do nowadays--even the three year old manages about 50%), so he played video games while she went to the bank and explained what had happened.

I told him they'd have him cut up his debit card and issue him a new one, but I turned out to be wrong.  The bank actually said, "Don't worry about closing your account and creating a new one.  If the fraud happens again, let us know and we'll go through that then."  I absolutely don't get that.  Somebody hacked the boy's account and got away with six hundred dollars once, but we're not going to make it difficult/impossible for that person to do it again?  By that logic, you wouldn't want to change your locks until the second time somebody used a stolen key to enter and defecate on your daughter's bed.

Sit-ups Today: 150
Sit-ups In December: 3282

As has become an almost-daily ritual, I drove over to the library before it closed.  I chose to do my writing on the first floor today, never having done so before, because I thought I would be around a lot more people and, I dunno, see pretty girls or dudes with successful relationships, or at least the blind Korean guy and the deaf Trump supporter.  I did see the latter two, but wow, there were just way too many people on the first floor, and very few rules, apparently.

Before I had even been here a half an hour, I realized I had made a mistake.  People were just too loud, talking at normal volume, talking on their phones, beating off vigorously in the Young Adult aisles, talking to their friends that were playing "Minecraft" on the library computers, and I zipped up my computer (as well as my fly, thank you very much), and went on up to the quiet second floor.

Almost nobody here, but that's okay, I'm here to write, not look at co-eds and imagine what they'd look like without masks on.

I was working on my "Lara & the Witch" Christmas story, and I got to a few seconds before Lara gives Holcomb her gift.  If I were serious about this writing thing, I'd force myself to finish the story before New Year's Day.

Hmm.  Somebody just farted so loudly and musically, it was like Louie Armstrong had come back from the dead.  Festive.

I got a bit more writing done on the second floor (I told Big that my goal was a thousand words, which he'll probably have to go back to in a few days), though I will admit that I left before the library made its "Get the hell out" announcement and flashed any lights.

I did my run, and it was in the twenties out.  Not sure I'll be crazy enough to keep this up much longer.  But hey, I would've said that about writing and blogging.

Push-ups Today: 116
Push-ups in December: 2981

I went to my cousin's house, and on the way home, I heard the new Dua Lipa song on the radio for the second time (I had heard it back in late October or early November, and couldn't figure out what she was saying, over and over.  Turned out it was "Levitating").

Well, I forced myself to listen to it all the way through, and tried to find something positive in there somewhere*, a bit I thought worked musically, or a catchy line, clever rhyme, a fun beat.  I just couldn't do it.  It really is an abjectly terrible song, and on the radio you don't even have the benefit of seeing her gyrate sensually while she sings it.

Words Today: 1307
Words In December: 27,399

*During the weekend, I was at the grocery store, and "Break My Heart" started playing on the overhead speakers, and I got my phone out, thinking someone was calling me.  Yeah, it's been my ringtone since July.

Monday, December 28, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 328

Today's a special day--the 28th of December--and I commemorated it in my Dead & Breakfast story "The Last Friday in December."  It's the date that a ghost told Mason Bradley that he would have the chance to save the life of someone if he was prepared, and I just realized that I've never shared that story with anyone, so there's really no point in mentioning it now.

I should've planned ahead.

Let me start again.

So, today is somebody's birthday, and hey, it's all for you, Damien.  Look at me!*

Oh, and I first mentioned the 28th of December in "Three Time Visitor," which you have read.  Haven't you?

Mondays tend to be my busiest day as far as work goes, and you know, I'm kind of grateful about that.  You'd think the first Monday after Christmas would be as dead as my sex life, but no, it was just a regular Monday, and that's nice.

I went to the library briefly, and hey, the Men's restroom was open for business!  I also wrote a bit on my Lara and the Witch Christmas story (which I was going to ask for title suggestions for, but I forgot).  I got to Christmas Eve, when Lara is going to give Holcomb her gift, when of course, the library started flashing their lights and telling people to get the eff out.  I wish I were a tougher person--say, somebody who does thousands of push-ups and sit-ups every month--because I would have finished that damned story by now--written the whole thing in Christmas week, even.

Although, now that I think about it, what's the rush, Hush?  I can't present it on the Outcast for a whole year, and if I published it in January, the only person who would buy it would be . . . well, nobody.  Oh, and I'd have to do a cover for it, so yeah, it's better that I haven't finished it yet.

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In December: 3132

2020 has been a banner year in the Bender household, and as I did my nightly run (the full one tonight again, despite the temperature outside), I reflected on just how much writing I got done, and contemplated, as I rush to put out my audio collection (with Copyright 2019 still on it), that I could put out a full one just with stuff written this year in it.  I think a lot about writing and publishing when I run, and I'd really just like to press Pause on the world and get a couple more of these collections out there.  But I can't do that.  I haven't even started on either my New Year's Rish Outcast or my January Patreon address, and I really ought to get on those instead of checking Instagram six or seven more times.

But one day, when I am either dead or moved on to other obsessions, and I no longer write, exercise, or pee daily, I'll look back on this time, and either chuckle, feel embarrassment and disgust, or feel nothing because, you know, I'm dead.

Words Today: 1384
Words In December: 26,092

*Originally, I was going to post an animated gif of Jack Palance's daughter hanging herself, but I changed my mind at the last second.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 327

Another Sunday morning I've spent on my bed, reading social media posts, blogging, and farting around.  Whoops.  Guess I should get up and attempt to salvage something from my AM.

Last night, my cousin and I went and saw WONDER WOMAN 84.  Somehow, I had missed the last eighty-two of them.  So, the critics are not being kind to this film, nor are my Facebook friends, but I quite enjoyed it.  It was a surprisingly kind film, with the villains having depth and positive attributes, and I was especially impressed by Kristen Wiig's Barbara Minerva, who becomes Cheetah in the film.  It also had great effects, which I am increasingly picky about.

Oh, and Wonder Woman bled, and had physical weakness in this, and that made me care about the character.  So there.

But opinions differ, and a segment of the populace that tends to be loud thinks that a female superhero that cares about others and solves problems without killing is a step back for the feminist cause, so I guess I'll just leave it at that and start thinking about other things.

Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In December: 3032

Push-ups Today: 115
Push-ups In December: 2865

This is the last Sunday of the year, and I really should have gone on a hike or something, like I did with most of my Sundays during the spring and early summer (the lockdown, you may remember it as), but as the weather gets colder, it'll be harder and harder for me to motivate myself to go places.  Or even to write a full blog post.

Words Today: 444
Words In December: 24,658

Saturday, December 26, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 326

Ten am, day after Christmas, I am sprawled upon the couch.

One of the goals for the year was to put out a Christmas collection, and dude, we've got a week left in the year.  So that's a goal that absolutely will not be met . . . but I figure I can at least figure out how many stories will be in it and which ones.  I've written a number of Christmas-related stories over the year, having shared a lot of them on my solo podcasts ("Last Minute Shopper," "Choice of a Sidekick," "The Many Faces of Christmas Eve") and on the Dunesteef ones ("The Holiday Trip," "Present of the Christmas Ghost," "What You Deserve," "Naughty or Nice"), but there are a couple others that have never seen any kind of release.

The unfortunate thing about Audible is that they require extraordinarily high production values, silence, formatting (192 kbps bitrate, 44100 hertz) and that necessitates me re-recording them from the versions on the Dunesteef (all of which were fullcast or semi-fullcast anyway), which is not the end of the world--I like to record audio, but the editing is going to be the bugger, especially without a cabin to go to where I can say, "Alright, for the next two hours, I'm gonna sit here and just edit, nothing more."

I did go ahead and publish text versions of My Friend of Misery, "Never Let Him Go," and a short story from 2016 called "Roll With The Changes," which I mention here because ah, no reason.

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In December: 2921

So, I went to the library shortly before it closed.  I sat down, and almost immediately had to go to the bathroom.  Paranoid that someone would walk off with my laptop (and the thousands of hours' work only located therein), I shut up my computer, took it with me, and went as quickly as I could to the restroom, only to find it Out of Order.  

So, I went downstairs, to the main restroom right inside the doors, and found it locked.  No Out of Order sign was there, but it was closed up.  I went to the nearest librarian to ask about it and she told me they were closed, but there were two additional restrooms on the third floor.

Third floor?  I've been coming here for a decade, and I had no idea there was a third floor.  Turns out it's on the other side of the building, where the city offices are, and is inaccessible from any part of the library.  There were elevators, but I took the stairs up two floors and looked around until I finally found the Mens room.  It was locked up tight.

Luckily, I had passed a unisex one (I think it said "Family Restroom" by the door) on the other side of the hall, so I went back there . . . and it was locked too.

I'm reminded of John Cleese in the Monty Python "Cheese Shoppe" sketch, when he says, "It figures. Predictable, really, I suppose. It was an act of purest optimism to have posed the question in the first place."

So, I schlepped my way back here, sitting down, starting up my computer again, but having to go just as badly as before.  Pardon my saying so, sir, but what if it had been an emergency?  What if someone had to throw up?  What if someone had a child with them that couldn't simply Hold It?

Guess that's what the library floor is for, folks.

Now, I have a few more minutes to write--only have 155 words so far--and we'll see if I can manage.  Though that floor is starting to look awful tempting.

Push-ups Today: 66 (it wasn't push-up day, but I did them anyway.  Sorry)
Push-ups In December: 2750

I wrote a story in September about the Siren Head creepypasta which I changed at the last minute to being about "the Waffle Iron Man."  I'd really like to come up with a good title for that one ("Waffle Iron Man" is, alas, not that), preferably something that substitutes "waffle" for the word "awful."  I wonder if there are any sayings or popular song lyrics with "awful" in them.

I did a search, but couldn't read the screen due to intense discomfort.  I am now at the point where, having to go to the bathroom but refusing to do so, my body is rebelling, and I am actively sweating . . . in December.  Amazing how that works.

Well, I knew that I wasn't going to make it, so I typed another ten words or so, then started gathering up my things for the night.  And then I heard a toilet flush.  I'm on the second floor, where it's normally pretty quiet, and there are only two other people up here with me--the librarian included--so the sound traveled immensely far.  I went over and asked the librarian about it, and he told me it was the Women's restroom I heard.

I asked him if there were any other possibilities, and he said he would check the Men's room for me.  He went over, produced a key, unlocked the door, and went inside.  A toilet flushed in there.  I did a little dance--but not out of excitement or attempts at rhythm.

The librarian came out, said the toilet was still broken, and locked the doors again.  He apologized and said there was nothing he could do.  I watched an old woman come out of the Women's restroom, and decided to go for it.  "Let me know if I'm out of line, but could I just use the Ladies' room?"

And this may surprise you: he not only said I could, but he stood outside the door to prevent any unfortunate female urinators from going in while I was in there.  

Relief came quickly.

Now, if you're a guy, you've heard this before (and if you're a gal, you have likely forgotten this), but the Women's restroom was gigantic, with a changing table, two stalls, a comfy chair (not sure what it was for, maybe breastfeeding?), two sinks with two separate mirrors, and the requisite vending machine.  It was larger than my first apartment in college (and larger than my first apartment in L.A., including the bathroom and closet).

I got out as fast as I could, but I really appreciate the librarian being so willing to help me out, and now I can spend the next half hour (before the library closes) writing.

Except I won't.  I'll blog and surf the internet under the pretense of finding out if the phrase "in my wheelhouse" existed in the 1890s.

Despite my ordeal, I didn't manage a whole lot of words during my time in the library.  I'm still in the first chapter/section of the new Lara/Holcomb story (did finish it before I left), and I got to do one of my favorite comedic tricks from the Dunesteef days, where I cite three things, the first two being normal and the third being a joke (in this case, it was old lady celebrities--Lara thinks of Betty White, Meryl Streep . . . and Angelina Jolie).  If you don't think it's funny, that's okay, we can still be frien--

No, I take it back.  Go eff yourself.

I had intended, both tonight and last night, to sit down and finish recording "A Sidekick's Errand" or "Z Day Report," two audio projects I halted right in the middle.  That would've garnered me another hundred words or so, but I didn't manage either night.  Maybe tomorrow.

Words Today: 755
December: 24,264

To my surprise, "in my wheelhouse" originated in the 1950s, in sports journalism, describing the area where a batter was most comfortable, most likely to hit a home run.  The word "wheelhouse" is a nautical one dating back to the riverboats described by Mark Twain, but I give zero poops about that bit.

Friday, December 25, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 325

So, this is Christmas.  And what have you done?

This was a nice day, spent among family.  All of us, my sister's family included, have gotten the virus, so there was no reason to celebrate apart.  Except for my brother, who doesn't really believe he can catch the Coronavirus, so he came to my mom's house too.

I quickly grabbed my two Bossk toys to pose for a picture to post on Facebook:

There were lots and lots of toys and gifts, especially for the three year old.  As far as I can say, everybody got along, which hasn't always been the case.

I mostly got gift cards, and that's fine with me.  My cousin gave me an "Art of Mandalorian" book, my mom got me filters for the turtle tank, Big A. got me a book about early Disney animation, and my girlfriend got me a glimpse of the parallel universe in which she exists.  

This was the Christmas card my niece gave me today:

She had it custom made for me.  Isn't that rad?

My nephews got a Nintendo Switch, and that took up all of the afternoon.  As the sun was getting low in the sky, we talked about running over to the lake and taking pictures of the ice and sunset.  I was super excited about this, because I have gotten so into taking pictures this year (indeed, if I had to guess, I'd say that--just like exercise--I have taken more photos in 2020 than in ALL previous years combined.  Of course, that could be an exaggeration, but I have filled up my phone's memory three times just this week)

There was a line of vehicles to get into the lake/marina at the end of Center Street, but no attendants to take money.  We had borrowed my brother-in-law's year pass, so I just drove on through the Passholders entrance.  The other line was supposed to leave money in an envelope, or simply take the risk that no tickets would be given on Christmas day.

The lake was frozen over as far as the eye could see, but you had to find a spot without people on it.  There were a handful of fishermen, who had drilled (or chopped) holes in the ice, but the majority of visitors were there to take pictures or play on the ice.

It wasn't all that cold, surprisingly, just a degree or two below freezing, and the lake was very reflective of light, in a photogenic way.

My niece and I took turns taking pictures of each other (gosh, it is so much better to go somewhere with another person, if only for that reason), but it wasn't possible to get a photo with the sunset and a face--you had to choose one or the other.

Cathexis and I talked about going ice skating sometime, but the ice was really bumpy and rough, and would probably be impossible to skate on (without a zamboni, that is).  Maybe farther out it smooths over better.

I shot a little bit of video, but wouldn't you know it, my phone claimed it was full, despite me deleting a bunch of files last night so I could record my Scrooge bit.

My middle nephew (10) drove his newly-acquired remote control truck out on the ice, and my oldest nephew (13 now) decided to ice fish, despite me forbidding him to bring a fishing pole (of course he did it anyway).  

And the three year old ran around, chasing the car, and hitting things with a stick.  I watched him doing it after having taken the pictures, the sun now gone from the sky, and cool red light remaining:

And then I saw my nephew somehow step into a hole someone had cut in the ice and fall in.  Now, his whole body didn't enter the water, just half of him--one leg and his thigh, really--but he started screaming anyway, and I ran over there and scooped him out of the water as soon as it happened.  But it was ice-cold water and surely terrifying, and the boy wailed as I carried him back to the car and searched for something dry to change him into. 

My niece stayed in the car with him when I went back to get the other two boys.  The 13 year old had caught three fish by this point, out and flopping on the ice, and he told me the rule is that you're supposed to kill them, not put them back in the water.  I don't really understand that, but he dropped them back in the hole anyway, and we headed back to the house.

The sky was an awesome red and orange as we were leaving, but none of us thought to take pictures by that point.

The family watched Pixar's SOUL together to close out the night.  It was a lyrical, heady, philosophical film that was absolutely intended for adults, but the kids seemed enrapt with it from beginning to end, and that surprised me.  It wasn't the life-changing experience that I hoped it would be (which so few movies are, but Pixar has an unfair advantage in that arena, so I sometimes expect it from them), but it was really solid, and had Tina Fey's voice in it, which was nice.

I hope your Christmas was a good one, and you stepped in no holes.

Push-ups Today: 112 (was supposed to be one more)
Push-ups In December: 2684

Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In December: 2821

Words Today: 380
Words In December: 23,509

Christmas Carol Scene


Last night, I read the Jacob Marley section of "A Christmas Carol" and tried to get it posted.  Then the program crashed, and suddenly, it was Christmas day.  But ah well.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 324

It's 11:19am on Christmas Eve, and I haven't gotten up yet.

Oh wait, I showered and brushed my teeth.  But here I am in bed again, surfing ye olde internet.  My laptop restarted during the night, and for once . . . I didn't lose any audio files or the open text file I was working on.  After what happened last week (losing all of my library writing, but in a different way than I lost it the week before), I have programmed myself to save my text file before I shut down my system EVERY time I go to the library.  

So, no reason to gripe today.

I want to thank you for reading my blog over this past year.  It has not been easy to blog every single day since January 31st, but it has been pretty fun.  One day, I'll stop, and I'll always have a record of The Worst Year Of All.  I appreciate you if you've been on this journey with me, even though I can get sad, I can feel sorry for myself, and I can get repetitive (how many times have I written "I don't want to write today" or "I had a real hard time writing today?" this year?).

Well, I'm going to get up now and see what work there is to be done.

And bam!  The day is done.  I guess I did some editing, I did my run, I did some sit-ups, I ran over to the storage unit to grab my nephew's present (it's a Mandalorian costume), I spoke to Big Anklevich (twice), who is stuck at work, the only editor over the holidays, in what is certainly a lonely few shifts down in Houston.*

I finished editing another "Delusions of Grandeur" episode, but before I can get to work on the next one (we've fallen behind, mostly because I insist on editing everything myself, and I'm not that fast), Marshal is going to try to re-record his half of it . . . because the poor guy lost all the audio.  Believe me, brother, I've been there.

So, I started editing the audio of "Three Time Visitor," one of the Dead & Breakfast stories.  I don't really know why I grabbed that one, since I'm not going to release a two hour audiobook, but there will eventually be something like "Dead & Breakfast Volume One" which includes The Night Clerk, Touching the Other Side, The Old Man and Me, Fatherless Child, Three Time Visitor, Never Let Him Go, and Suckers For Mystery.  And maybe Meet the New Clerk, Same As The Old Clerk and The Last Friday In December, depending on how long that all is.  Oh, and I ought to put True Ghost Encounter in there somewhere too.

If you'd like to read "Three Time Visitor," it's available at THIS LINK.

Push-ups Today: 112
Push-up Bra: 2572

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In December: 2710

Words: oh boy . . . 327 (and only because I squeezed two sentences out late, late at night)
Words In December: 23,129

*He said there was another coworker there with him, but once he went home, he was alone enough he didn't have to wear his mask anymore . . . or his pants.

Storage Unit Serenade 38

Happy Christmas, folks.


Pre-Eighties Songs: 9
Eighties Songs: 12
Nineties Songs: 8
Aughts Songs: 3
Teens Songs: 6 

Oh, and this week, I recorded my first song that doesn't fit any of the previous statistics.  Fun.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 323

Not sure I'm going to manage today.

I got up early, like I usually do on Tuesdays, and I have to admit that I started out my day a bit sour.  It was still mostly dark when I got up, and it stayed relatively sun free throughout the day.  I got to see my cousin and a couple other people that I like, and while that sometimes gives me a boost of positive energy, I began to mope a bit, knowing that Christmas time will find me, where the lovelorn lay . . . in a puddle of their own filth.  So that was fun.

Sit-ups Today: 150
Sittys In December: 2610

I couldn't shake the melancholy, which is gonna happen, especially around the holidays, and will dog me for the rest of my time, and I'm only a tiny bit ashamed to admit that I put on Marshal Latham's Christmas Journey Into... episode and took a little nap in the late afternoon.

I woke up as the sun was setting, and instead of continuing to sad-sack around, I got some library books from my mom to take back (she reads one every other day or so), and she had gotten me a meatball sub from Subway that I left in the microwave.*

But then, I came to the library, and on the drive over, I tried to think of a Christmas story I could write about the Noble Oaks Bed & Breakfast.  How do ghosts celebrate the holidays?  Does Mrs. Bice throw a little work party where the clerks and housekeeping staff (as well as the unseen cooking staff) get together and wish each other good cheer, all the while exchanging knowing looks about the ghostly presences that might be among them?  I thought about tying it to a story I began in February, where Natalie Whitmore tells Mason Bradley about her one true love and Mason arranges for a ghost to talk to her, but I'm not ready to tell that one yet (since Mason, technically, has to be out of the picture for that story to work).

But then I got another idea: I could do a "Lara and the Witch" Christmas story.  I sat down here in my usual spot--almost zero other people came to the library tonight, the last hour before it closes for the rest of the week--and just started typing, mostly in uncountable-as-words present tense spit-balling.  But then I came up with a premise that is best summed up in the following exchange:

"Oh, I got an idea!" Lara exclaimed, and ran over to Holcomb's side.  "You and me should exchange magic Christmas gifts!"

"You and I, Lara," Holcomb corrected.

"Who else?  We could each cast a spell for each other, something the other would like."

That idea filled me with joyous anticipation.  

Well, for the next hour, until the library started flickering the lights to get rid of us (maybe we're cockroaches to them), I wrote on it.  Not a lot of words, but a lot of fun that, amazingly, cleared up my sad, lonely mood.  Once again, my imagination pays me back for all those terrified sleepless nights as a child (and teenager).  I was creating something, putting together words in various orders in the attempt to create a tapestry that was uniquely mine.

I gotta say, it turned my whole attitude around.  I mean, yeah, I'll still die alone (and soon), but for the rest of the day, I had a much brighter outlook.  And when I went on my run, despite it being below freezing . . . it was the easiest 1.6 miles I've ever done (the whole time I was thinking about story ideas, and stories to record and put in collections, and all these ambitious feelings that are so much more welcome than the dour self-prognosis of lonely misery and eventual eternal darkness).

Not bad, day before the day before Christmas.

Words Today: 1016 (I  wrote more than this, but could only count actual prose and dialogue)
Words In December: 22,802

*Which is sad, because just one of those now costs approximately one U.S. stimulus check, precluding me from going to Subway ever again.

Rish Outcast 188: The Many Faces of Christmas Eve

Over on the Dunesteef, we've been producing the entries for last year's Broken Mirror Christmas Event.  In a crossover show, Big Anklevich and I present my story "The Many Faces of Christmas Eve" for your wistening peasure.

To download the episode, just Right-Click HERE.

To support me on Patreon, just Left-Click HERE.

Logo by Gino "Christmas Heave" Moretto.

Note: This was originally posted as Rish Outcast 186, but I was two behind.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 322

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year.  Or, to see the cup as half full, to vampires, it was the longest night of the year.*  There was a conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter that a lot of people were excited about (I saw some pictures that were dubiously awesome . . . kind of like when you see hot photos of Amy Adams and you go, "Nuh uh, she doesn't look that good."  Sort of the opposite of the time I met Hilary Swank and thought, "Damn girl, she's super hot," but no one ever believed me), so I went outside to look.  

I couldn't see either planet, or any light to the Southwest that might have been them.  But I went on my run anyway, and stared up at Mars throughout, ruminating on the thought that I've seen Mars in the sky every other night this year, and that hadn't been a thing in any years past.  Here, at the end of the longest year in anyone's memory, I sometimes wonder what the me of last December 21st/22nd would think if I told him I went running, at night, in December, or I wrote, what, three hundred thousand words this year?  Or that I've seen the Capital One commercial with Taylor Swift in it over eighty times now and only now got the "Cardigan" joke in it.

I like to think that 2019 Me would be proud of 2020 Me, and say, "You can do HOW many push-ups in a row?" or "You've written HOW many short stories this year?" instead of the usual, "You've eaten HOW many pizzas all by yourself this year?" or "You've crapped yourself HOW many times?"

Just occurred to me that those two things might be related.

I'm at the library today again.  It's a little tradition with me, isn't it, to sit down, start up my laptop, and immediately blog before doing any of the responsible things.  For the first time, I've brought my water bottle with me up here, because none of the other people I've observed that brought food or drink have gotten a hard time, and I guess I'm a hypocrite.  But I come here often enough, I ought to have learned all the employees' names by now, and it's clear that they're not going to admonish anybody drinking, talking on their cellphone, not wearing their mask, or rubbing one out in the corner by Nonfiction.

When I first came in, I saw the deaf guy I occasionally run into here.  He was wearing a black hat instead of a red one, so I greeted him warmly.  He actually said something to me, which hadn't been the case before, but I couldn't understand any of it.  It occurs to me that he probably does a hell of a lot of lip-reading, and COVID has absolutely effed that up for him.  Poor dude.

I got a pretty darn good writing session in today.  I could actually have stayed another hour, but I decided to head back early so I could go on my run before it got too late (it's already pitch black out there, though, which is disheartening for only 5:40pm). 

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sittys In December: 2460

Push-ups Today: 111 (a special number)
Pushys In December: 2181

I went to publish my Christmas Rish Outcast just now, and I realized that, in skipping ahead to the Halloween episodes, I had had two Episode 185 and 186es.  It screwed everything up, and I spent a good waste of time re-saving the episodes, re-doing the cover images, and trying to get them re-uploaded.  I don't know if that will mean the links no longer work, but I've done what I can.  Just support me on Patreon, okay, then we wouldn't have to go through this.

Words Today: 1933
Words In December: 21,786

*Guess I could write a story how December 21st is a holiday among the undead.  But I won't.

P.S. You may ask yourself, "Rish, how have you seen that Taylor Swift Capital One commercial almost a hundred times?  Are you some kind of sick nutjob?"
To which, the answers are: That commercial plays every time I stream an episode of "30 Rock" and I'm near to the end of the series.  And yes.

Monday, December 21, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 321

I ran over to the library, after the sun had started to set.  I had four things I needed to get done, and now that I'm here, with an hour to write before it closes, I want to surf the internet and blog.

But I'm stronger than that, if only by a little.  I'm going to write 300 words before I allow myself to blog even one more.

I made it twenty-six words before I came back to my blog.  Ugh.

Okay, I put my head down and got to 502 words.  Now I can get on here and say what was so darn important--

And I've forgotten what it was.  Shoot.

Since I've started blogging every day, I often make note of something and think, "Oh, I ought to mention that in my blog."  Like today, in line at FedEx, there was a guy ahead of me who was picking up a package, and he started telling the lady behind the counter what was in it--presumably so she would know which box to look for, but surely they have names on them, right?--and I thought about how amusing it would be if he started to tell the whole story of the package, while the rest of us were in line, listening to stuff we had no business knowing.

"So, I got gored in the scrotum by a Brahma bull, and I hadn't been able to give my wife the pleasure she's legally entitled to, but I read in a magazine about this device that can be worn by a man, sort of like an athletic cup, but with various attachments you can swap out, like bits on a drill.  There was a regular version, and then the deluxe, with vibration, self-lubrication, and a built-in fan.  And I figured, My Janice hasn't O-ed since the Fourth of July, I'll go ahead and splurge on the premium model.  It includes this unique attachment with two prongs you can't get anywhere else--"  And the woman behind the counter says, "Sir, sir, keep your voice down, please.  And why didn't you just orally pleasure your wife?"  And the man shudders and says, "That's disgusting, lady!  What do you think we are, some kind of deviants?"

Well, that's what I THOUGHT about putting in my blog while I was standing in like at FedEx.  But I wisely reconsidered once I sat down and thought about it.

You're welcome.

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In December: 2360

The only angle I could see the sunset from.

Right before the library closed, I focused, as hard as I was able to, on writing my little Outpost-apocalyptic story, which is a fantastic title I just came up with just now.  I need to write down on a piece of paper the total number of people living on Outpost 3 (let's say, 2000), so I can start winnowing it down--when the disease first strikes, maybe 1000 die, then from disasters and lack of safety supervision, we'll lose another 500.  The fun after that will be what happens to the rest (maybe half go to Module C and half to Module B, depending on whether they want to follow Flagg or Mother Abigail, right?).

There is, if I had to give Vegas odds, only a 32% chance that I will actually finish this story, but I'm aiming to reach a certain storypoint, and when I do, I will allow myself to give up the project like I brown underwear stain . . . but not before!

Words Today: 1502
Words In December: 19,605

Sunday, December 20, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 320

I went to Ross today and talked to the same Lost Prevention guy I talked to last week (they opened at seven am last week and I asked if anybody was actually there at seven.  He said, "Aw, hell no, Big Anklevich!" which I appreciated*).  He and I are going to start exchanging Christmas cards (I did wish him a happy Christmas, as I left).

I saw a pink and white sweater on the rack that said "Live Your Best Life" on it, above a group of dancing skeletons.  It sort of baffled me, and I honestly considered buying it (if not for my niece, for myself).  I've never been cool, and I'm certainly not cool enough to rock a Womens Large pink sweatshirt.

I wonder, though.

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In December: 2260

Push-up Today: 110
Push-ups In December: 2070

Tonight was the first night in a week that I went on my full 1.6 mile run.  I did go out a couple nights last week, one time doing a single mile, and the other time (it being in the low twenties outside) just four blocks, but this one was easy enough, and it was above freezing so there was no chance of hitting any ice.

Words Today: 585
Words In December: 18,103

*Today they opened at six.  I asked him if he was there at six, and he said "I got here at five-thirty."  Then I asked him if anybody showed up at six.  He said, "About eight o'clock, we got our first customer in."  That didn't explain why the store was STILL beat to shit, but that's how Ross always looks, and maybe the security guards don't help restock shelves.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 319

I'm nearly done with Tina Fey's "Bossypants."  It has been the fastest read of recent years, and I'm a little bummed I've burned through it so quickly.  I wish I had the charm and talent (and fame, of course) of Tina Fey, because I'd love to write an autobiography like hers.*

Now that 2020 is finally coming to a close, I should think up some resolutions for the new year.  I made a list of 20 goals for 2020 last year, and I guess I could do that again.  I think I set Collaborate on a story with Big Anklevich as the first goal, but stuff like Finish "Only Have Eyes For You" and Start saving up for a mail order bride and Finish "Balms & Sears" might belong on my list.  I'll keep thinking.

Heading to the library now.

I got set up, started to write, managed 78 words, and then started checking emails and news stories.  This is the deadest I've seen the library since that time I came when it first reopened, and the blind Korean man asked the librarian for help and the lady said she couldn't go near him.  It made me wonder if there was a football game in town (that does occasionally happen--causing bad traffic on a Friday or Saturday evening--but I don't believe spectators are allowed in the stadium at this time), or if something else was going on (maybe some huge news story had broken and everyone was glued to their TV--probably Donald Trump holed up in the White House belltower with a sniper rifle, picking off secret service agents who were desperately trying to get the President to safety).

(this was on the rack at the library)

Regardless, here I sit, all broken-hearted, tried to write, but only started

to surf the internet, which I could be doing at home.

I thought about doing another Fake Sean Connery song today, and thought I'd do a cover of "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett.  I was even singing "I know I've got a bad reputation, and it isn't just talk, talk, talk" in Connery's voice in the car.  But when I looked it up, Joan Jett's song isn't anything like that (it may be that song that "Freaks & Geeks" used as its theme song, one of the Jeopardy! questions I couldn't get when I auditioned for the game show in Culver City).

No, the song I was thinking of was by Freedy Johnston, who was a male One Hit Wonder in the Nineties.  Whoops.

That was a good song, but totally forgotten now, like the first hit the Rembrandts had before the "Friends" theme.

Now the sun is going down, and weird, I'm starting to feel sorry for myself.  There are four other people at the library, all of them happier than me, and I guess it's time to take another unflinching look at my life.  I was hoping to set some writing goals for 2021, but now I'm thinking I might have to set some of more significance, and those never work out.

Of course, in 2020 I've done thousands of sit-ups and run hundreds of miles, two achievements I've never experienced before, and that ain't nothing.

Regardless, the sun went down, and nobody was alive to see it, and after a while, I went back to my story.  I think I'll dedicate this one to Marshal Latham, if I finish it (and it's really bad), though dang, this is gonna be a long one.  It's a story I could only have written in 2020, but it takes place on another planet, far enough into the future that pretty much all technology will have changed.  

I have never been a big writer (or reader) of Science Fiction, and I just plain don't want to come up with new slang and new inventions and new wrinkles in what humanity has become.  I just want it to be today, except in space.  I've used the word "Comms" instead of "phone" and "Terran" instead of world or Earth, and "rang off" instead of "hung up," and the damn metric system, but it's really not my bag, baby, and I've never responded to Sci-Fi that says "we took a transpo to the employdiface" rather than "we took a taxi to work."

So far, the best world building I could come up with was that the main character sees a teenage boy in the elevator who has enormous breast implants, and he just goes about his day.  There, it's the future, okay?

Sit-ups Today: 200
Sit-ups In December: 2160

Words Today: 1277
Words In December: 17,518 

*Of course, now that I'm nearly done with it, I'm thinking that it isn't an autobiography at all, but a series of essays, some of which were previously published in The New Yorker.  I wonder if she has a sequel planned.

Friday, December 18, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 318

So, Jeremy Bulloch died yesterday.  He played Boba Fett as well as the Imperial officer that manhandles Princess Leia when she's trying to tell Luke that he's walking into a trap.  He was also in one of the Prequels but . . . come now.  Only Liam Neeson came out of those films with 100% of his dignity intact.*

Up until 2020, people who weren't deep into Star Wars could never get Boba Fett.**  Why he was cool, why he was sexy, why we wanted a dozen action figures each of the guy (why there were a dozen DIFFERENT action figures of the character).  But Boba Fett was the bomb, before that phrase meant anything.  And before it stopped meaning anything except for ironic use in the last few years (what can I say, I'm white.  I just barely discovered "badass" and the abbreviation A.F.).

It's the look, obviously.  He the best designed character in EMPIRE, a movie that features Yoda, Lando, 2-1B, Snowtroopers, probe droids, Tauntauns, three seconds of Bossk, and if you don't blink, Willrow Hood.  Boba Fett just looks so cool, the armor has an amazing design, and then he's all covered with dents and scratches and marks that describe to us without words that this guy has seen it all.

Jeremy Bulloch was a real stalwart of the convention circuit.  I saw him on three or four occasions, and did pay to get his autograph the same year I did the same for David Prowse, who also just passed away.  He was a cheerful, decent-seeming man, and I am sure he felt loved and appreciated . . . because holy smoke, do we fans love Boba Fett.  

I'm sure Marshal and I will have a bit to say the next time we record our "Delusions of Grandeur" podcast, which is only a few days away.

A guy sent me a message on Facebook yesterday about my book "Ten Thousand Coffins."  He was in the UK and let me know that when I referred to the main character as weighing 100 kilos, that was not the svelte, athletic young lady I was describing (and when I referred to the Skipper as weighing 200 kilos, well, that's a much bigger guy than I intended).  What had happened was, originally, the measurement was in pounds, but because the story takes place in the future, I figured we'd all be on the metric system by then (which begs the question, why the hell aren't we on it now??).  So I must have just copied and replaced every use of "pound" with "kilo," which explains why Brook kilos on the door with her fist, and the men onboard sometimes fantasized about kiloing her in the crewmen's lounge. 

I went into the text version and changed the numbers, but I wondered about everyone who's ever read it--did they think Brook and Gustafson were just really big people, or did they not even notice?  The audio version, of course, is much harder to fix.

I spoke to this listener/fan for quite a while, discovering that there are plenty of other errors in my audiobook for "Ten Thousand Coffins," and it just makes me tired to contemplate it.  There are errors in "You're In Good Hands" too, and the process to fixing an audiobook is to request that they replace the file, and then send along a zipped folder with every single chapter of the book, including title and About the Author, in numerical order, which they will upload when they get around to it.  My worst nightmare--besides the one where I attend the execution of my Cousin Matthew and realize I have forgotten to wear pants only after I'm told that I have to say the closing prayer--is that I waste all the time necessary to do this, and then they say they can't use the file because of some new technical specification that didn't exist when I first submitted it . . .

. . . AND I have no pants on.

Honestly, I wish I had the confidence to send my book out to three or four people and ask them to find all the errors, but I tend not to be able to.  If you want to be my wingman (or wingwoman) (or wingboy, for that matter), let me know, and I'll finish up the audio and send it to you to listen through.

I also need to buckle down and finish the next episode of the Dunesteef.  I can't believe it's the 18th of December and I've not finished the last one.  I've never hated life more than in 2017, when I sacrificed my whole Christmas Eve to get our X-mas show done, only to discover that Big Anklevich had gone to bed early (he was sick) and wouldn't be posting it that night anyway).  But I digress.  I can do this.  Heck, I could stop blogging and do it now.

Sit-ups Today: 166
Sit-ups In December: 1960

Push-ups Today: 109
Push-ups In December: 945

Yes, I finished the episode.  Now I can rest until New Year's.  Except for my own show.  And "Delusions."  And the last chapter of "My Friend of Misery."  And whatever's next.

Words Today: 772
Words In December: 16,241

*Followed distantly by the man or woman who played the Neimoidian that exclaimed, "They've gone into the ventilation shaft!"

**Now that he's appeared--and kicked all kinds of white-armored butt--on "The Mandalorian," it's easy to see why people would like him now.  But that feels to me a little bit like when you have a crush on smart-but-cute Marnie Seamons in junior high, but when she gets to high school, stops wearing her glasses and grows enormous boobs, everybody starts talking about crushing on her.  (true story . . . except I didn't notice M.S. until the transformation happened.  Whoops) 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

December Sweeps - Day 317

I've got a headache again today.  I can't believe this.  This must be what my nephew goes through all the time (except his range from painful to absolutely debilitating, and mine is just trying its best to ruin my day).  

I went to the library yesterday and recreated the lost writing session (and like when it happened to me last week, I wasn't able to replicate my work exactly, but just wrote the same two story points in a slightly different way, trying DESPERATELY not to dwell on the fact that this was all a big waste of time, that soon I'll be dead, and nobody will care one way or another how this story went, and was this the best use of the time I have left, when I could just be watching YouTube, or slightly better, lying down and reading a book?).  It didn't take a lot of time, but there's no way I'm going to finish this story by the end of the year (not that that's my endgame, or even one of my monthly goals), though I am starting to get to the bit that appeals to me: where the main character (Clayton) starts to realize that the plague he's witnessing is not going to get better, and soon, there may be no one left.

Then I'll get to write the whole point of the thing: what does Clayton do when there is no one left but him* and becomes, in essence, the Last Man On Outpost 3.

I should be working right now.  I've gotten practically nothing done this morning, and my desktop computer was so slow that I realized I'd have to turn it off and turn it back on.  But experience has taught me that I always lose something when that happens (heck, my laptop taught me that lesson a day ago!), so I went through and tried to save every one of the dozen Word files that were currently open (Audio Collections in progress, the file for "A Sidekick's Errand" that I'm revising in preparation for publishing, two short stories I'm writing Author's Notes for, two Dead & Breakfast stories that need to have links to the other published installments put in, an attempt at writing a birthday card for my muse that I'll never end up sending, and a story called "Roll With The Changes" that I like but when I read it aloud I thought I ought to add a section to).

Now it is rebooting (has taken about fifteen minutes so far) and is doing an update that is currently at 31%, so I might as well write this blogpost.  

Did I mention I have a headache?  

Pardon the profanity, but it's currently effing lunchtime, and I had errands I needed to run this afternoon, but I haven't gotten any of my morning work done, so I don't feel like I can stop for lunch (though, had I known that rebooting my computer would take half an hour, I could've eaten lunch while waiting for it to start up again).  But my headache rages on, and I'm hazily cognizant that it's 1:04pm and my caffeine withdrawal may be about to kick in, or may be already contributing to my headache, so I really ought to get some kind of lunch, even if it's just microwaving a burrito** and chugging half a can of Coke Zero.

Goddamn computer is still not booted up, and it's 1:06.  Guess I'll keep typing.

My nephew (now 10) didn't get to go to school this week or last because of testing positive for COVID-19, despite not having any symptoms (he can even smell and taste, the lucky bugger), and he's been home, watching television for the last ten days or so (this is the last week of school before Christmas break, so he actually doesn't have to go back to school until January).  Sometimes it doesn't bother me the shows he watches, like "The Loud House" or _______*** (I'll think of something when my headache goes away).  But he often watches this super-grating asshole play video games on YouTube, filling every possible second of his videos with yelling commentary, and that absolutely blows.  When my mom sees him watching this, she goes nuts, becoming her mother yelling at me about reading "libros sat├ínicos," which is how she described "IT" by Stephen King.

But worse, my nephew has started (today and yesterday) to watch the "Pokemon" cartoon, and when Pikachu does his brain-piercing chatter ("Pika! Pikapika!") I want nothing more than to kick the set in.  Honestly, if somebody gave me the choice between never having to hear that hellish voice or seeing a random TikTok performer's boobies, I'd struggle with the decision.  Maybe it's just the headache making me not immediately jump on the boobies, I dunno.

I HATE that Pikachu voice.  More so than even Tom Kinney's abominable Spongebob laugh.  I may sit down and do a drawing of a comic-con booth where, for $25.00 you can get the autograph of the Pikachu Voice Actor.  And under that is a second sign that says, for $50.00 you can slap the Pikachu Voice Actor.  I think it might be popular.

Okay, my update is at 100%.  And it's 1:14pm.  Fugger.

Whoops, silly me.  I thought that that would mean that I'd be up and running, maybe have my work done by one-thirty.  But no, it is taking just as long to start programs up as it did before--honestly, loading Microsoft Excel (a blank Excel document, no less) should take approximately two seconds.  It may well be that I have made some damningly bad career choices.****

Sit-ups Today: 100 (absolutely last minute--it was past two)
Sit-ups In December: 1794

It snowed a great deal today, and I thought I'd put out my terribly-constructed Kotobukiya Chewbacca on the back deck to get some pictures of the snow gradually covering it.

Unfortunately, when I went out an hour later to take a second picture, this is what I saw:

Chewie had taken a tumble off the railing and lay in the snow in two pieces down below.  I put him back together (the arms will not stay in their sockets, despite having been glued and re-glued), and set him up again.

Just as unfortunately, it wasn't cold enough for the snow not to melt, so I didn't get any really good pictures.  Ah well.

At the end of the day, I sat down and recorded another chapter of "A Sidekick's Errand," wrote up an author's note for it, and in discovering that the brother's name in "My Friend of Misery" is Brent 95% of the time, but is called Brenton the other 5, decided to go back and replace one of the first Brents with Brenton.

Not content to just call it finished and put it out there (especially now that I have excellent cover art for it), I decided to put a callback at the very end to a setup in that same scene where I now call him Brenton, and that necessitated re-recording part of Chapter 37.

Then, noticing that the red light on my recorder was flashing whenever I read one of Brielle's lines, I discovered that I had the volume set to Auto again (something that derailed a whole chapter when I was recording "You're In Good Hands").  So, I sat down and did that section again, only much, much faster, eating up time I could've been either writing or recording another chapter.

Even so, I went right ahead and published the text version of the book, and will get on Audible soon and start the process of publishing the audio.

Words Today: 820
Words In December: 15,469

*And a handful of others who I'll have to isolate in some way--maybe I'll have them travel to Module C, which is unfinished and currently unoccupied, thus getting them out of the way for the rest of the story.

**I used to adore those microwave burritos, but somewhere over the last five years or so, I realized that I don't like the taste of them anymore, and they're often hard and not unlike eating paste in the first grade.  But I keep on buying them because they're cheap, and I've eaten them for thirty-plus years.

***How about "Boss Baby: The Series?"  That seems pretty well done.

****That reminds me, I watched MANK the other day, David Fincher's fun film about the writing of the CITIZEN KANE screenplay, and at one point, Herman Mankiewicz's little brother Joe tells him that he's been fired from MGM.  "I've never been fired before," Joe laments, taking it hard.  Unmoved, his brother says, "I've never not been fired.  You get used to it."