Wednesday, April 1, 2020

"The Wheel of Fortune" from TAROT DADA ™ and © 2020 Duck Soup Productions

As today is the last day that Mainers can legally leave the house for "less than essential" reasons, I feared that there would be another run on the stores.... waking at 5:55, I threw on some clothes and went out to catch "senior hour" at the supermarket. 

Aside from the personal disgust at actually being old enough to partake of such a thing, I actually felt less safe shopping with the geriatric crowd than I did last week during normal hours. But under the circumstances, I was afraid they would run out of eggs -- if they even had any. And I need eggs to make Whitey's Magic Tummy Mixture.

I needn't have worried, the supermarket had tons of eggs, and really, they have done a smashing job re-stocking everything: which reinforces the fact that THERE ARE NO SHORTAGES. THERE IS PLENTY TO GO AROUND, if you just don't panic and buy up a shit-ton more than you really need.

But they were out of hand-sanitizing wipes for the carts and I was glad I was wearing gloves. Even then, I panicked when I absent-mindedly touched my cheek because it was itching. I thought, "It's all over. I touched the side of my nose. Contagion will surely follow."

Back to bed now. I'll venture out again this afternoon to the post-office, the vet, and the bank (if my last freelance check arrives). Starting tomorrow, Maine closes for an entire month. I never thought I would live to see such days, and wish that I hadn't....

-- Thorn.

Friday, March 27, 2020


Just back from venturing Out for the first time in a week.

It's looking more and more like LOGAN'S RUN out there. Last week I reported that the traffic was down by probably about a third, to about 65 percent. This week I think those numbers are about reversed: traffic only about 1/3rd of normal.

Except at the stupormarket, of course. That felt very normal.


BRAIN: Calm down. Relax. Most of the people in there are probably not infected.

GUT: And THAT'S supposed to relax me? Do you HEAR yourself?

BRAIN: They're taking all kinds of measures to keep it safe.

GUT: Are you INSANE? I can FEEL myself getting infected just from LOOKING at the place!!!

BRAIN: Go on in. Look: See? They have hand sanitizer wipes so you can mop down the handles of your cart, and they have hand sanitizer in a dispenser.


BRAIN: See? It's all very normal in here. No one is dying in the aisles.

GUT: I'm STILL not touching the cart handle.....

Anyway. The supermarkets are doing a great job of keeping things in stock despite the panic-driven run on things. After last week, it was most re-assuring to see the meat counters full up again. I was able to get dishwasher detergent at last -- not a moment too soon! (Why would there be a run on dishwasher detergent? Go figure.)

You won't be able to get absolutely everything on your list, and you might not have your pick of brands, but the essentials are all there (so long as you don't buy more than your fair share) and produce and meat were available in abundance.

At the registers, they've put up plexiglass barriers between customer and cashier: a good idea. At the post office (which looked like a Ghost Town inside, if not in the lobby and parking lot), tape has been put down at six-foot intervals to show how far you need to stand back from each other.

I don't plan on going out now for another week. We shall cross that bridge when we come to it. 

Hopefully I managed to transact my chores without swallowing a whole bunch of Covid-19 germs. 

Life Goes On.

-- Thorn.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

No Soup For You

I don’t understand why nobody cares that Popular Culture is dead. I don’t understand why nobody seems particularly interested even in marking its grave. 

People just look at me funny when I tell them that mass media burned itself out about 15 years ago, that Popular Culture was completely wiped out by the internet and replaced by a new era of PERSONAL Culture. 

In the age of Popular Culture, we had just three TV networks in the U.S. of A., four if you count PBS, so if your neighbor wan’t watching the same show that YOU were watching on a Tuesday night, you at least knew what they WERE watching. The news came from Walter Cronkite or Huntley-Brinkley. Music came from one of a handful of local radio stations. People regularly read paperback books and magazines and subscribed to their local newspaper.

Despite the inherent limitations, we got a pretty good variety of content and, especially during the 60s and 70s, experienced a vibrant counterculture that offered alternatives to the mainstream and encouraged dialogue on the important issues. 

It was a culture that allowed us to be on the same page for the important issues, but also encouraged creativity and difference. It was a culture that united us, even when we weren’t always united. 

It took a good solid twenty years or so, but the rise of the internet and first cable then streaming media put an end to all that. Pop Culture, defined and derived from the word “Popular,” is not just dead: it has been annihilated. 

Our culture no longer serves to connect us, but instead offers millions of smaller pipelines that feed our individual and personal mind-set. Far from offering connections, these steaming pipelines feed billions of us whatever it is that we want to hear.

And if you don't think that's an important change, think again. THIS is how a catastrophic thing like The Don could happen, THIS is why neo-Naziism, fascist and hate groups are on the rise. The mass media would never have tolerated a Rush Limbaugh or a Sean Hannity: mass media encouraged blandness, after all… and sometimes blandness is not a bad thing. Many critics insisted that we were being fed pablum: but at least we weren’t being fed a diet of cold undiluted hate.

For just about a solid century, the rise of mass media had us in an opportune place where humanity could more or less all be on the same page, without having to all agree on every issue. It was an opportunity for humans to succeed as a race. It failed. Now we are seeing the rise of cultural feudalism. No good can come of that. 

While I am enjoying the New Age of Personal Culture, having more than enough of everything at my fingertips, and allowing me to play the fun game of being my own Programming Director, the wider picture is not a good one. Climate-change deniers and Holocaust deniers alike are free to live in their dangerous fantasy worlds, because they can always find a feeding tube for their demented diet of lies. Conservatives and Liberals alike will grow more extreme, but also less effective. The middle ground will occupy whatever space the one percent allots to it. Individualism, ironically, will fade, as the world grows more and more tribal. “Standards” will vanish. To a great extent, they already have. 

-- Thorn.

Friday, January 24, 2020

A Lament for Sanity

Heavy sigh.

I am having a harder and harder time being civil about that cretin in the White House, and treating with respect the people who support him.

And I do believe that everyone deserves to be treated respectfully even if they're ... let's be polite and call them "gullible."

But the fact is that I don't understand. I've known what Donald Trump was since the '80s. In fact, I thought we were safe from him, because I didn't believe that the American people could be so stupid as to vote for such an obvious con man, such an obvious caricature of self-centered evil and stupidity. If you'd told me then that he would one day be President, I'd have said it was too ridiculous a concept even for a science fiction story.

What are they not seeing? Does a person have to have the word "GANGSTER" tattooed across their fucking orange forehead before people can spot an obvious gangster when they see one? 

And yet just tonight, someone typed this as a reply to one of my more impolite statements about that Rat Bastard and the people who are Too Goddamn Stupid to see what he is: "You are the moron and brainless if you can’t see all Trump has done for this country and changed the destruction that Obama caused including the split he did with his racist actions. You lack intelligence needed to survive."

This is a person who has swallowed the Kool-Aid. This is a person who is so deluded that if Donald Trump told them to jump off a bridge, they'd do it.

And I do NOT understand. I CAN'T understand. I can't accept that ANYone can be so flat-out, and I'm sorry but there's no polite word for it -- STUPID.

It's like I'm living in a world where Up is Down and Down is Up and the basic facts of Reality Itself are being denied by millions of people, AND THERE'S NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT.  I feel completely helpless as I watch the world headed straight off of a cliff.

"Moral Compass?" What's that? The dials are spinning out of control. The person now occupying the White House is someone who makes Richard Nixon and Huey Long and all the political villains of the past look like freakin' SAINTS. Hell fire, he makes Don Vito Corleone look like a saint!


I've been saying right along that this isn't about politics anymore, and it isn't. I'd take Richard Nixon any day of the week over this dangerous, idiotic clod that the Republican party has, against all reason and rationality, made into their deity.

I'm not even sure any more that we can safely get rid of him. His ego is so warped that if he loses the election I'm convinced he'll push the fucking button.

I cannot recall any period in my lifetime when things have been so bad as they are now. The One Percent have it all worked out exactly as they want it: look at how easy it was for them to create a state of perpetual war: all they had to do was wreck the economy and get rid of the draft to make millions of young people line up to throw their lives away.

I've always believed the best about people and until now I always wondered how Nazi Germany happened. But it turns out that it was probably more stupid and naive of me to believe that humans were inherently good hearted and could recognize a Snidely Whiplash, a villain dressed all in black with a sign on his back saying "VILLAIN," when they saw one. 

It hurts to be wrong about that. But it hurts more having to watch it all play out like a bad episode of THE TIME TUNNEL. You can't even REASON with these people. They will knowingly lie and bend reality all out of shape rather than admit that Donald Trump isn't even a smart villain. They are prepared to blow up the world rather than acknowledge a mistake. 

I don't see any way out. Republican Senators are going All-In to support this piece of Human Filth, and the next Presidential election is something that I am too terrified even to contemplate. We couldn't be in a worse position than if Doctor Doom was president in Rump's place. In fact, we'd be better off if that was the case: because then we would be living in a comic-book world, and that kind of world is at least more comprehensible the one we actually are faced with.

-- Thorn.
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