Category Archives: March Forth

Hot Air: The Personal & The Political

So, that was the weekend that was.

More dips and rises than this thing:


Steel Dragon 2000: Longest Roller Coaster In The World

Friday Late AM, Early PM

I’d figured I’d be lucky: I was supposed to be anesthetized during President Gag’s inauguration. I was scheduled for surgery to remove the metal drug port from my chest at 11:30am. Told to report to the surgery center at 10:30. Perfect. I could pretend, for a few hours at least, that the American electorate hadn’t really lost its freaking mind a little more than two months ago and selected a carnival barker/con man as leader of the “free” world.

I was jittery, though, because I’m burning out on doctors, hospitals, procedures, tests, exams, fingers digging into my neck and in various orifices, needles, blood spills, insurance forms, grillings on my medical history, and so on — the price one pays for having a catastrophic malady in the “greatest health care system in the world.”

The surgery itself doesn’t freak me — it’s the IV set-up beforehand. See, my veins are recalcitrant little buggers, hard to find and even when they pop out they tend to collapse as soon as the nurse jabs her/his 18-gauge with cannula attached under my skin. And every time I go in for a procedure, someone’s giving me the third degree on my right while the IV nurse is jabbing and digging on the left. I always have to tell the inquisitor to chill while I watch the IV nurse go hunting because…, well, just because I have to watch the needle go in. It’s a superstition.

Anyway, my palms go sweaty, my heart races, and I get shaky nervous. And I haven’t mentioned the stick-pain, have I? I’m told my skin is tough. The needle’s supposed to slide in nicely when the jabber finally finds a cooperative blood vessel but no — s/he has to push it in, hard, most often in the top of the hand. Yeeow.

Nevertheless, I consoled myself I’d be thankfully unconscious while L’il Duce would be swearing on the Bible his oath to honor and defend the rights of billionaires to become bigger billionaires.

Natch, the first thing I hear when I walk into the surgery center is the TV in the waiting room, blaring the pre-game show. I have to resist a tiny impulse to flee. I endure hearing about what Melanoma would be wearing and then, after being called in to the pre-op bay, the obligatory IV ordeal.

I’m supposed to be doped with something called Versed — generic name: Midazolam — a benzodiazepine. Versed puts the patient to sleep and it prohibits the formation of memories, meaning you can shoot me with a gun and since, a micro-second later, I have no memory of it, it essentially didn’t happen. Cool. It’s the same dope used for colonoscopies and gastro-endoscopies, both of which I’ve had and every time I was transported to general anesthetic dreamland. One minute I’m talking to the nurses and techs in the OR and the next, after the blink of an eye, I’m asking when they’re going to start and I’m being told I’m in the recovery room, the procedure’s done. Oh, and I was supposed to be pre-doped with Fentanyl, a opioid 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

So, I’m in the OR, being betadined and draped. I’m joshing with the scrubs and one of them says, “Here’s the doctor.” I wish him good luck and he says “I don’t need it; President Trump needs it now.”

Gee thanks, pal. Anything else you want to bring up to depress me?

The Drug Nurse: “Now?”

The Doc: “Okay.”

The Drug Nurse: “Two CCs?”

The Doc: “Go ahead.”

I settle in for my trip to oblivion. I wait. And wait. I feel the weight of the doctor pressing against my side. He says, “Get ready for a stick and a burn.” I say, “Alright.” It hits me: I’m not supposed to hear that.

Me: “What are you doing now?”

The Doc: “I’m numbing the area around the incision.”

Me: “Oh.”

Then, as promised, the stick and the burn as he injects me with topical anesthetic. My legs kick a little.

Me: “Ouch.”

The Doc: “Is it too much for you?”

Me: “I’m not crying yet.”

Then I sense him doing some stuff around where the incision’s supposed to be. I conclude he’s slicing me open.

Me: “Uh, guys, I’m still here.”

The Doc: “Does it hurt?”

Me: “I’m not screaming, am I?”

The Doc: “Okay, let us know if you feel like screaming.”

At this point I realize I ain’t going to sleep. Nor am I forgetting everything immediately. My eyes wide, all I can see is a blue diffuse light filtering through the surgical drapes. The doctor cuts the sutures holding the port reservoir to my upper rib cage. Then he snakes the thin 9-inch hose out of my subclavian artery. It’s a routine procedure, albeit dicey because he’s yanking and tugging on a major vein into the heart. All I can feel are his weight against me and his ministrations over and in the gaping hole in my chest. I’m thinking: I should be having a nervous breakdown. But I’m not. The drugs are good for something, at least.

Minutes later, the drapes are pulled off my face. “That’s that,” the doc says. And like that, I’m wheeled into the recovery room.

Here’s the port that was taken out of me:


Smart Port® by AngioDynamics

End result? The removal of my port is the last step in cancer treatment so, for all intents and purposes, I’m not a cancer patient anymore. Yahoo! Plus, I get a good story out of it.


The Loved One and I celebrate with a buffet at Siam House. I eat like a horse and enjoy pretty much everything. My taste buds have been devastated by chemotherapy but, on occasion, they seem to spring back to life. Today’s one of those days.

After two plates-full of grub, I realize I feel as though I’m going to pass out. I’m not supposed to drive, drink alcohol, sign contracts, or otherwise participate in normal life for 24 hours after my Versed and Fentanyl cocktail.

We go home and I fall asleep and don’t wake up until the next morning.

Saturday AM

Still foggy, I mess around on my computer. I’d downloaded some stuff the previous few days and decide today to clean out my download folder. Nothing to it, normally. Today’s not normal.

Rather than move my Download Files to the trash, I inadvertently move All Files there. I don’t realize my mistake until after clicking Okay in the Are you sure you want to permanently erase the items in the Trash? dialogue box.

Watching the individual files being disappeared into eternity, I think, Hey! Oh, Jesus H. Christ, I don’t want that trashed!

And that!

And that!

There’s no way to stop the trashing process except to cold quit the computer. I do so. When I restart it, my desktop is empty as is my home folder. Everything’s in the trash, including plenty of stuff I haven’t backed up yet. Thankfully, there were so many files in the trash that the process only disappeared a precious few of them. I have no idea what they are. I’ll learn what they are at some time in the future when I need them

As for the rest of the files, some 1500 of them, I move them from trash to the desktop. Of course, they’ve all been extracted from folders so I have to spend the next five or six hours reorganizing them.

The Loved One is having a better time of it as she’s preparing to drive up to Indianapolis for the Women’s March there. She’s wearing the Pink Pussy Hat Charlotte Zietlow gave me to give to her Thursday. She’s traveling with her pal Les and a work buddy. She’s asked if I’d wanted to come with. “You know, men are marching too,” she’d said.

I can’t go. I’m doing my part by working my colleague Susie’s shift at the Book Corner so she can bus it down to Washington for the big event.

Saturday PM

The numbers are in: The Women’s March, collectively in cities across the nation, is said to be the single biggest protest in US history. Crowd estimates:

  • Atlanta: 60,000
  • Boston: 250,000
  • Chicago: 250,000
  • Denver: 200,000
  • Los Angeles: 200,000-750,000
  • Madison, Wisconsin: 100,000
  • New York: 200,000-500,000
  • Nashville, Tennessee: 20,000
  • Oakland: 60,000
  • Philadelphia: 50,000
  • Pittsburgh: 20,000
  • St. Paul, Minnesota: 60,000
  • Washington: 500,000

Dang, mang. Sadly, Indy’s rally drew only 4500. Sigh, Indiana. Still, The Loved One and crew were there:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And, to put a perverse exclamation mark on it all, Indiana State Senator  and certifiable jagoff Jack E. Sandlin posted the following on social media:

In one day, Trump got more fat women out walking than Michelle Obama did in eight years.

Now, let’s get those numbers out to the polls and toss bastards like him out of office at the very first opportunity. Then all the Saturday crowds won’t have been for naught.


Sunday AM

How did I miss this? Astronaut Gene Cernan, the last human being to step foot on the moon, died last week.

Cernan grew up in west suburban Chicagoland. Not to be outdone, Lawrence County, just south of us in Bloomington, was home to Gus Grissom and two other guys who flew on Space Shuttle missions.

Sunday Afternoon

The nurses in the recovery room Friday told me the doctor had prescribed some powerful pain meds for me. As usual, I declined them. Hey, I’m a toughie, dig?

I put up a ceiling fan and light in the guest bedroom. I hardly give my glued-up incision a thought. Most shocking of all, I don’t blow up the house or fry myself.

A thought: Isn’t it cool that we don’t have to mess with stitches or staples after surgery anymore? Skin glue is in the Cyanoacrylate adhesive family that includes Krazy Glue™. Veterinarians began using the medical-grade variation on the broken bones of pet pooches and the like in the early 1970s. Gradually, its use was introduced in human medicine. Over time, researchers found gluing wounds closed was safer than suturing them, with fewer incidences of infection and reduced scarring.

Remember this TV commercial from the late 1970s and early ’80s?

Sunday Evening

On the computer, looking up the score of the Packers-Falcons game. Not that I care a fig about football but I have a soft spot for the Green Bay Packers of The Loved One’s home state. They got trounced.

While surfing, I get a notification from iCloud that I should back up my desktop. Bah, what do I care for iCloud? I decline. The dialogue box says something on the order of I can’t quit iCloud unless I back up my desktop. I look for the Leave Me The Fuck Alone button. Finding none, I select Cancel.


No. Just No.

Nope. Can’t cancel. iCloud repeats itself: I can’t leave it unless I back up my desktop. So I start the backup process. Then I decide, screw it, so I cancel the operation.

My entire desktop disappears once again. I shriek even more shrilly than when I’d made my files almost disappear on Saturday morning. The Loved One wonders if I’d suffered a heart attack. Me? I figure I’m in for a nervous breakdown, only I’m not doped up on Versed or Fentanyl to ward it off.

Bang, I get on the phone to the Apple help geeks. The rep walks me through the procedure to retrieve everything I thought I’d lost. After long minutes, we find all my lost files.

The Rep: “You’ll have to re-organize your desktop.”

Me: “That’s nothing. You saved me from a nervous breakdown.”

The Rep: “We don’t want you to have a nervous breakdown.”

And how was your weekend?

Hot Air: Our Popular President

Scope this:


So, some 46 percent of the populace thinks Barack Obama will rank in the upper half among his predecessors as he prepares to leave office next month. That’s right, acc’d’g to Pew Research, 18 percent think he’ll be seen as an “outstanding” prez and 28 percent consider him “above average.”


Above Average

And, as we gird our loins for the L’il Duce reign of error, a mere 27 percent think Obama stinks.

This baffles the bejesus out of me. An overwhelming majority of the citizenry of this holy land considers Obama to be at least average as the big boss of this mixed-up, messed-up democratic republic with strong overtones of corporate oligarchy and a dash of neo-fascism tossed in for flavor. That dash, natch, was added by L’il Duce, who has pledged to erase everything BHO has done during his four years at the wheel.

Makes sense, considering we elected the anti-Obama, that our nation’s sisteren and brethren would view him as a boob to rival Pres. Merkin Muffley, no? Then again, nothing makes any sense anymore, inlcuding the fact that L’il Duce lost the vote by something approaching 3 million, a fact I promise to hammer on relentlessly for the next four years.




Mark your calendars: the Bloomington performance of “The Junky’s Christmas” will air on Yael Ksander’s Cafe Indiana on WFIU a couple of times immediately preceding the yule holiday.


William S. Burroughs, Shooting Heroin

First, it’ll be on the NPR affiliate’s HD channel, WFIU-2, 101.9, Friday, December 23rd, at 7pm and then again on Christmas Eve the next morning at 7, on the main channel, 103.7.

The performance was recorded earlier this month at the Back Door and was presented by the Writers Guild at Bloomington, the Burroughs Century, Ltd., and Wounded Galaxies. Stars of the show included Tony Brewer, Chris Rall, Shayne Laughter, and other friends of The Pencil. Catch it — or be the worse for missing it.

Kamala Karma

Y’know, if it wasn’t for the fact that prosecutors as a gang make me itchy, I’d be all in on Kamala Harris for president in 2020.


California Senator-Elect Harris

Hell, I just may be able to overcome my itchiness by then.

Free Relief

The Moral: pick fights you can win.

Four Dayton, Ohio high schooler in 1969 started something called the Committee to End Pay Toilets in America. It’s a forgotten era now but by 1970 there were some 50,000 pay toilets in this holy land. Public restrooms at airports, department stores, restaurants, gas stations and countless other locales had locked stall doors. To get inside for desperately needed relief, you had to drop a nickel or a dime into a little slot. This state of affairs was especially onerous to women because at least men’s rooms had free stand-up urinals whereas our sisteren had to scrounge around for coins no mater what number they had to do.


The Ohio high schoolers decided to do something about it all so they started up their advocacy group. “Pay toilets,” they said, “are an unethical infringement on basic human rights.” Believe it or not, their plaint struck a chord across the nation. Apparently, you could institute a de facto set of laws denying basic rights to people whose skin was the wrong color, you could execute a pointless, unwinnable war in Southeast Asia, you could devote billions of dollars to a globe-threatening nuclear arsenal, and you could foul the land, sea, and air, but if you demanded a dime from everybody who needed to drop the kids off at the lake, why, there’d be hell to pay.

One of the Ohio high schoolers moved away to attend the University of Chicago, from which place he choreographed a movement to rid O’Hare Int’l Airport of its pay toilets. Three years later, Chicago became the first city in the nation to ban all pay toilets within the city limits.

By 1980, pay toilets had virtually disappeared from the American landscape.

That kid, Steve Froikin, explained why his grass-roots effort worked: “This was a manageable thing we could take on, and it was fun.”

Key word: Manageable. As Sun Tzu advised, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

For the next four years, we’ll be fighting a war against L’il Duce and his forces of darkness. We’re thrashing about, honking and screaming, naturally. But we’re going to have to start strategizing sooner rather than later. How do we chip away at the new administration? How do we win battles against it in order to ultimately win the war?

To borrow a phrase from baseball, We can’t try to hit a grand slam home run when nobody’s on base.

Let’s Play Post Office

Along those lines, the Hoosier State’s own Michael Martone, author of scads of books and editor of even more, urges us to mail more letters. Loads more letters.



It’s a political act, implies he. Martone goes on:

Many of you are doing simple actions of resistance and protest…. May I suggest you use the Postal Service?

… I believe that conservative forces have long wanted to close the post office or privatize it for profit….

… [T]he PO is staffed by a large public service union. It hires a great number of veterans. It reflects the nation’s demographics and serves as a bank of last resort for people without the means to transfer money or maintain a checking account.

… So I ask you not to buy a stamp but a book of stamps and send a letter to a representative, yes, but also to each other….

… It is a quick action.



Act Of Resistance

Mailing a letter is a tiny little thing, but it’s a spit in the eye of the forces that want to monetize each and every act we undertake, including how we chit-chat with each other. Corps. like Apple, Google, Verizon, and the like want to charge us for our every utterance — and our incoming “businessman” president is all for it.

As far as I’m concerned, putting a price on our conversations is as odious as charging every woman a dime just so she can tap a kidney.

So, I’m with Michael Martone:  “Use the mail. Use the mail. Use the mail. Use the mail.”


Big Talk

Here’s the link to yesterday’s Big Talk with my guest, actor and drama teacher Francesca Sobrer.


Beware, the sound quality stinks. I’ve been tweaking my and my guests’ mic positionings and even playing musical chairs in relation to the mic stands but, frustratingly, yesterday’s effort was one of my worst in terms of audio quality.

The good news is, I think I’ve got a solution to the problem — something I’ll try out this afternoon when I interview newspaper distributor Jack Dopp. The Dopp Big Talk won’t air until January 12th as WFHB’s Daily Local News goes into its annual end-of-the-year tradition, a three-week recap of everything that happened in 2016.

If you’re patient, you’ll soon be able to hear the nearly-unedited original interview I did with Sobrer here. You can also catch in the same place all the Big Talk-ers I’ve had on since 2014, including cartoonist Nate Powell, who illustrated civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis’s March series of graphic novels and who, coincidentally enough, happens to be submitting to a magazine interview just across the room from me in this communications colossus’s back office, Hopscotch Coffee, as I type this.

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