Fun and Games Dept

Albuquerque, New Mexico.

We are about six hours from our new home, stationed in a Ramada in Albuquerque, N.M. I wasn’t expecting to drive through snow squalls, but we ran into two snow squalls between Tucumcari and Albuquerque. Um, this is the desert.

Overall the drive is going well. Truman has settled into a routine and takes naps. I follow road signs. Earl converses with us both and plays with his phone. It’s quite routine but still enjoyable.

I Should Have Followed You Home.

I can’t believe it’s been nearly eight years since this song’s release. The second single from the album “A”, by Agnetha Fältskog (the first ‘A’ in ABBA), “I Should Have Followed You Home” was a duet with former Take That singer Gary Barlow. Both Gary and Agnetha are so classy, and this live performance still brings me to tears all the years later. Beautiful people, beautiful music.

Meltdown.

I had a mini meltdown on social media today. After doom scrolling through too many successive posts of glee around receiving COVID-19 shots I decided I had enough and decided to vent. I don’t understand how this is working, I don’t understand why young people apparently healthy enough to go out partying for St. Patrick’s Day are getting vaccinated when the rules are something like 65 and older for us in Chicago right now. I read about people coming from Iowa and Wisconsin and Indiana getting vaccinated because it’s easier. I’m told to hang out around the back door of certain Walgreens locations to maybe get injected with some Moderna or Pfizer scraps that weren’t claimed during the day.

This is how the “greatest country on Earth” is vaccinated its citizens. By living The Hunger Games dreams, politicizing the event beyond any sort of reasonable thought processes, and people paying and/or lying to get to the front of the line.

I read that NASA found another meteor the size of three football fields. They always promise something big with meteors but it never happens. I don’t want an Extinction Level Event, I just want a meteor to come so close that is makes a lot of wind and dust and scares the shit our and some sense into the populace.

Front line workers, essential personnel, and our elderly should be at the front of the line. Full stop. Now the Instagram Influencer dude or chick making idiotic cash by talking about their COVID-19 vaccination experience online? Get in the back of the friggin’ bus.

Anyone that has had to deal with cancer. People keeping society moving. Doctors. Nurses. And all the people that support the medical profession. Teachers. All the folks in the public sector trying to keep our economy afloat. Vaccinate them. Don’t make them have to pledge their unborn children in a sacrifice to get a few drops of J&J from the back door of a CVS.

The Biden Administration is making up for a lot of lost time. I get that. But there should have been a federal system based on zip code and population. And stop dividing the public up into groups of “ones”, “phase 1A, 1B, 1C”, etc. We’re not all number one. For God’s sake, group one, group two, group three. I don’t need the ego boost.

I just want my husband to get vaccinated. I at least want to know when I’m going to be vaccinated.

And when it happens, I will NOT be broadcasting the event. Anywhere.

Time Passes.

I still have my “band jacket” from my high school years. It’s a little snug 37 years later, but I can still button it up. I wouldn’t wear it in public, as one of the snaps might break loose, but I’ll gloat here on my blog.

Warmer.

It was 10ºF in Syracuse, New York when we departed our hotel this morning at 8:00 a.m. By the time we were west of Cleveland, Ohio and stopped for lunch, it was almost 50ºF and the forecasts on the various radio stations I was hopping around on indicated it could be nearly 70ºF tomorrow and Tuesday.

Spring has sprung?

I have a feeling this is fake spring and there will be another winter storm before Mother Nature gets her act together. But when we got home the Chicago forecast also indicated very spring-like weather this week, and that has me in a sunny mood.

We’ll be packing this last week of Standard Time for 2020-2021. At least we’ll have some warmer temperatures outside to make the task more pleasant.

In the meanwhile, a selfie from a Service Plaza on the Ohio Turnpike.

Anxiety.

We took a walk around a local mall during our travels this weekend. Still concerned with COVID-19 and the behavior of society in general, we’ve been social distancing as best as we can, while wearing our masks whenever we’re out in public. But sometimes nature calls and the closest bathroom is in a mall.

I was very surprised to see how busy this mall was.

To be fair, everyone we saw, save for one person who looked confused in general, was wearing a mask in some way. Too many people weren’t doing it properly; if people are wearing condoms the way they’re wearing masks it’s no surprise how many accidental births we have in the country today. For the uninformed and/or confused: the mask goes over the nose and mouth. Covering just your chin (what the hell is that about?) or only your mouth is like putting the condom over the testicles instead of the penis.

I decided to word that in a way that isn’t as crude as it probably should be. Today’s finer American needs “crude” to understand concepts.

While we maintained plenty of distance from the mall patrons, I couldn’t help but feel very anxious and trapped as we made our way from finer fashions to the mall bathrooms. Folks still ignore signs on the floor that encourage social distancing. People congregate in packs. I said to my husband, “let’s get out of here”. So we did.

This particular mall has four anchor stores. Two of them are gone: JCPenney had departed and Macy’s was in its final days of a store closing sale.

I do believe the retail landscape has been changed forever.

Formerly.

In the early 1990s the New York State Thruway Authority spent millions and millions of dollars to rebuild all of their service plazas along 496 miles of the toll road in Upstate New York. Old Howard Johnson’s and other 1950s buildings were razed and replaced or heavily redecorated to get the facilities ready for a 21st century motoring experience. Sit down restaurants were replaced with fast food selections, often alternating in either direction between McDonalds and something else. Sometimes the alternate was Burger King, other times it was Roy Rogers, and then there were Tim Hortons on the western half of the roadway. Other franchises made an appearance: Arby’s, Checkers, and Pizza Hut showed themselves at one time or another.

We made a trip to my old stomping grounds to say hello to the relatives before our move to the desert southwest later this month. On our way we stopped at one of the Service Areas to grab a bite to eat. We hadn’t had Checkers in forever, so we stopped at one of the services areas that had a Checkers.

Nope, it’s closed down. And so was the pizza place there.

We hopped back on the Thruway and stopped at the next service area. I wanted a sandwich, and Tim Horton’s has decent sandwiches. Except, Tim Horton’s has also been closed down.

We opted for Arby’s. They don’t have brewed iced tea.

I believe all of these closures are a sign of the pandemic times. Theoretically there’s less people traveling. Before we moved to the midwest the Thruway Service Areas were starting to look a little sparse during the week; the pandemic has just made it worse. Thank goodness for Arby’s Curley Fries.

Apparently the Thruway Authority has a new vision for the service areas and will be ripping them down and replacing them again.

I have a hunch they won’t be as huge as the plazas today. That’s part of the past.

Breakout.

Over the past year we’ve all had the COVID-19 pandemic on our minds. If there’s a positive thing that’s come out of all of this, it’s the creative use of technology combined with brilliant artistry to do some amazing things.

Here is one of the best, if not the best, cover of Swing Out Sister’s “Breakout” I’ve ever heard. It’s absolutely amazing. Enjoy.

Fame.

When I was a kid I envisioned a life of fame. I was going to be a darling of Hollywood, doing something like Bewitched or Star Trek or some comedic shtick and people would fawn over me and want my autograph wherever I went. I wanted to act, I wanted people to like me, and I wanted to be recognized in public. So very gay.

I tinkered with this a little bit with my days in radio; people would recognize my voice and my face from a TV commercial or something and say hello in the mall. I also toyed with the idea of being on a reality show in the early days of the travesty, getting so far as to one of the final rounds of “Big Brother” auditions. But my husband told me he had no interest in standing outside of the Big Brother House when I came out and I didn’t want to be the next Bunky anyways. The producers wanted another Bunky. You don’t remember Bunky? Neither do I.

(pause for Google)

Bunky lives in Arizona and does something with IT now. Good for him.

With TikTok and Twitter and YouTube and the like everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame and most people will do anything to claw their way to the limelight. They’ll say stupid things on television. They’ll run for an elected office. They’ll try to eat a corn of cob connected to an electric drill. They’ll burn their hair off. They’ll make “tech videos” which are thinly disguised audition tapes for a soap opera. They’ll appear on Ellen’s game show and get pushed around with a gigantic plunger. They’ll appear on “Today” for being wonderful and then a month later turn up on “The Wall”. They’ll sing in front of old people.

And they’ll say really stupid and idiotic things on Twitter just to get likes and follows and retweets. The sad part is that the vast majority of these idiotic endeavors don’t end up in fame, but notoriety.

I gleefully gave up the idea of being famous decades ago. The pool has been so diluted with idiocy and too many Americans now applaud asshattery and I definitely don’t want to land in that category.

I’m quite content with being a middle aged guy with a husband and a cat, a wonderful family, and a wonderful group of relatives and friends. Maybe that’s just part of getting old, finding contentment in what we have.

I just really hope I live long enough to see the natural ending of this American desire for notoriety.

Time.

With the arrival of spring-like weather here in Chicago you’d think I’d be all excited about spring being right around the corner. I am excited about this, but I’m more excited about relocating to Tucson at the end of next month.

The real thing is, however, it doesn’t feel like winter to me. It doesn’t feel like spring is just around the corner, though the human construct of time just marches along and tells us that’s what’s happening in the Northern Hemisphere. Ever since COVID-19 became the thing in most everyone’s life, time has felt odd. Routines have become more repetitive, activities have been restricted, and milestones that denote a certain place in the year (picnics, festivals, going outside, etc.) have not happened with their expected regularity.

I know we celebrated the holidays two months ago but it doesn’t feel like we really did it. To me it feels more like we just went through the motions.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been feeling little spats of “the blues” and not really understanding why, but in reality it’s been my usual winter season blahs I feel every year; I just didn’t pin it down to the proper place on the timeframe because it doesn’t feel like we’re in winter. It feels like some odd nebulous season right now. Limbo, I guess, for lack of a better word.

While the temperatures warm up a bit here in The Windy City, I appreciate the sunnier days and the snow melting.

I guess I just want to get outside and enjoy it without restrictions again.