Saturday, April 14, 2018

Shoulder to Shoulder

About two years ago I hurt my left shoulder in a silly mishap involving my bicycle. I still won’t call it a crash; more a slow-motion fall. I described the aftermath in two posts here (in way too much detail), although I didn’t write those until about six months later.

Now I’ve damaged my right shoulder. It hurts like hell.

As before, the injury involved a bike. I volunteer at Community Cycles, the local bike co-op, where on Sunday afternoons they graciously allow me to pretend I’m a bike mechanic. Last week I bent over the top tube of a bike (much like in the photo at left, though that probably isn’t me) to tighten the bolt of the non-drive side crank arm I had just replaced.

I got it snug. Probably snug enough. But to make sure, I gave it a Superman yank. And something in my shoulder went sproing!

It hurt like hell. It still hurts like hell.

There is no denouement to this story. There is no moral. Only a shoulder that hurts when I move a certain way. When I move that certain way, it absolutely gets my attention. I have not been sleeping well.

So I try not to use it. I won’t keep my arm in a sling. Immobilizing it might actually help, but who wants to give up use of a limb, even for a little bit?

This is a total bummer. Ordinarily the hours I spend in the bike co-op are happy ones. I guess I’ll be okay in the weeks and months ahead, provided I don’t tighten any crank arms.

This injury is different than the one a few years ago. Not as bad, I hope. I’m supposed to see my massage therapist in a few hours. It probably won’t help much, but it won’t hurt, either.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Podcasts are essential listening when I do my daily workouts. Each morning, up before the birds, I do a series of stretches and a few other things (the plank, e.g.) for about half an hour. Then, Im ready for the day.

Been doing this for years. Always, there are headphones clamped about my noggin. But a fella can only listen to so many episodes of Fresh Air before it gets ... stale. (I had to say that. Had to.)

So about a year ago I began looking for new listening material. Where to begin? As a first step I googled “interesting podcasts,” or something equally vague. Came across a list of podcasts with titles that bored me – except for one, Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, or Beautiful/ Anonymous for short. Intrigued, I listened to an episode called “My Aussie Best Friend.” Got hooked.

Also began listening to Stay Tuned with Preet last summer, which I have described elsewhere. Still listen to that. A new one gets uploaded each Thursday. More recently I’ve become a convert to Pod Save America.

In a coffee shop the other day, I asked the woman behind the counter about her t-shirt, which read “Toxic Masculinity.” She said it had to do with a podcast called My Favorite Murder. I listened to an episode the next day. So far, so-so – but Ill listen again. And the t-shirt is cool.

You can find most, probably all, of these podcasts on your nearest smartphone, or on Podbay, among other places.

Even before all of the above, I was an occasional listener to This American Life, and its direct-to-podcast offspring Serial. These, in turn, led me to S-town.

S-town, or Shit Town if you prefer, turned out to be – pardon the cliché – haunting. It is, its website says, “about a man named John who despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it.” He convinces a This American Life producer to investigate what John says is a murder/coverup in his shit little town.

S-town is a limited podcast spanning seven segments, or chapters, each one about an hour long. Midway through the second chapter it becomes clear there was, in fact, no murder or coverup. That should have been enough to send the producer packing. Then something else happened. If it hadn’t happened, there would have been no S-town podcast. But it did, and so there is.

No spoilers here. I shan’t spill any beans. I’ll only say that as I listened, I found myself recalling A Confederacy of Dunces, one of my favorite novels. Written in the early 1960s by John Kennedy Toole, and set in New Orleans, it is the story of Ignatius J. Reilly. “When a true genius appears in the world,” spake Jonathan Swift, “you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

Fictional genius Ignatius reminds me of S-town’s real-life genius John (above, with snake), known to most as John B. Among other things, John B created the maze seen below. The similarities between the two are superficial, Ill grant you that. Both of them way smart, both lonely and isolated southerners. Both with a grim worldview. That may be about it.

Anyway, I recommend it. All of these podcasts, even those I make only passing reference to, are recommended – even My Favorite Murder.

I forgot to mention RadioLab! And Criminal! And I still love Fresh Air!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

No Joke

All hail Trump!

So far, apparently, it’s being passed off as a joke: Trump’s statement that the United States should try having a “president for life.”

He means himself, of course.

His comment came during a March 3 speech at Mar-a-Lago, according to CNN, which referred to the speech as “closed-door remarks ... a recording of which was obtained by CNN.”

That’s a recording I want to hear, ASAP. Referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has consolidated power and faces little political opposition, Trump said, Hes now president for life ... Maybe well have to give that a shot someday.

MSNBC said, “It is not clear if Trump, 71, was ... in jest.”

I don’t think he meant it in jest. It may have been in the context of a flippant remark, but it was no jest. More likely, a trial balloon.

Of course, I don’t trust Trump any further than I can throw a bowling ball. No one should. This is someone who has attacked a host of American institutions, like the judiciary, the Justice Department, and the media. He went so far as to call the media the “enemy of the people” earlier this year. Yeah, all of these institution are flawed, and represent the one percent. But this is the nascent autocrat in dress rehearsal mode. Trump is far worse than any of his targets – a profoundly damaged individual who has no business holding the office he holds.

I am astonished at how little reaction I have seen to these comments. It’s been not quite twenty-four hours, as this is written. A response condemning these comments should be swift and unambiguous.

“Whether this was a joke or not, talking about being President for life like Xi Jinping is the most unAmerican sentiment expressed by an American President,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Cal) said in a Tweet. “George Washington would roll over in his grave.”

Indeed. The latest buzz in the media seems to be that Trump is coming “unglued.” I keep hearing that.


Update: I heard Trump's recorded comments on MSNBC Monday evening, a day otherwise overwhelmed by the Sam Nunberg nonsense. They were as creepy as I suspected.