Wanna buy a house?

No, not here. I ran into a post on Facebook from a guy who’s trying to help his parents sell their 120-acre home and barn and woodshop in Wyoming. It’s beautiful country and it’s off the grid, although it’s got Internet, Satellite TV and most of the other mod cons.

‘Course, it is in Wyoming, which means you have Republican politics and Dick and Lynne Cheney live in the same state.

There’s a three-minute video of it here.

Take me back to 1968

At least, back to The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Season Two, when Mason Williams debuted “Classical Gas” on the show.

Here’s Williams explaining how he wrote the song.

Here it is as it was recorded for Williams’ album “The Mason Williams Phonograph Record”. Backing him up: Larry Knechtel and Jim Gordon of The Wrecking Crew, as well as harp, horn and string players.

Compared to What?

No, no, I mean the song! This is from an album called “Swiss Movement”. If you’re a fan of jazz you probably know about it; if you’re a newcomer to the genre you should get it. It’s a recording of pianist Les McCann playing with saxophonist Eddie Harris live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1969. I bought it on vinyl that year after hearing the track below. How was it received? “It reached No. 1 on Billboard’s jazz album chart, No. 2 on the R&B chart, and No. 29 on the LP chart.”

Here’s one of the startling things about this album. It was not only recorded live, the band had been unable to rehearse. Listen to how tight they sound!

Yo, Cineastes!

I have found a series of books for you film-lovers! The protagonist is named Valentino and he’s a film archivist at UCLA. As the author’s website says about him: he’s “a film detective for UCLA who inadvertently becomes an amateur sleuth.” More than that, he’s found an old 1920s theater he’s hell-bent to restore, and it’s costing him dearly in every possible way.

When the site was last updated there were four books. It hasn’t been updated to reflect the fifth, published six months ago. I’ve read the first two and enjoyed them. What really makes them stand out is the bibliography and other source material listed at the back of each book. For example, there are fifteen pages of discussion about books and films whose subject is Greta Garbo, whose letters and initial screen test provide the building blocks of the second book. It’s cleverly titled “Alone” and refers, of course, to Garbo’s famous (and always misquoted) wish. She did not say “I want to be alone.” She said “I want to be let alone,” which is entirely different. I didn’t know that until I read the book.

Anyway, they’re wonderful entertainment, chock-full of historical tidbits about The Golden Age of Hollywood. If you like movies and film history, you’ll enjoy these books.

Can this man be stopped?

Given the news yesterday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating President Trump for possible obstruction of justice, who’s taking bets on how many days it will be before Trump fires Mueller? There have been trial balloons from Trump’s favorite Newsmax publisher on The NewsHour, from Newt Gingrich (is it coincidental that Gingrich has a new book out entitled “Understanding Trump” and might want some ink?), and from various other right-wingers.

So far Congressional Republicans seem to be holding firm on Mueller’s position. Speaker Ryan suggested Trump let the man go on with his work, as did Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Susan Collins.

Since we have all seen that Trump does what he wants to do and ignores advice even when it’s in his best interest to take it, I suspect he may fire Mueller and try to bluster his way past the complaints. That’s when the true test of the Republicans in Congress will happen. If they let slide the firing of the man tasked with finding out if the President of the United States deliberately or even by happenstance took help from a foreign country to get elected, particularly one the US fought a Cold War with for 50 years, their reputations will be tarnished forever. If they don’t turn around and hire Mueller themselves, they will show themselves to be as traitorous as the President is.

I wish I could be confident they’d avoid that trap.

Why wasn’t I warned?

Sriracha has been around for several years now, right? I haven’t gotten around to trying it until today. I happened to walk down the Asian food aisle in the local supermarket and saw it in lovely bright red bottles:

Once I got home I had a question before I even opened it: why is this “sauce” measured in pounds? Look at the weight info at the bottom of the bottle. 17 oz. makes sense; my favorite Pace Picante Sauce comes in 16 oz. jars. But why does Hung Foy Sriracha also label itself as 1 lb. 1 oz.?

Ah well. On to the product itself. Tonight was breakfast-for-dinner: corned beef hash, toast and a cheese-and-mushroom omelette. I thought I’d try the Sriracha on the side, since it was my first experience with the stuff. First I unscrewed the nozzle to pry off the foil and the damned thing spat three drops of sauce onto my clean white T-shirt. Grrh! I stripped the shirt off and started scrubbing with soap and water; we’ll see whether that got it out entirely. After that I shook the bottle and squirted a teaspoon onto the plate next to the eggs.

I forked a corner of the omelette and dipped the entire bite into the sauce, and oh my goodness! That is Really Really Hot! Not “fanning the mouth” hot but “sear the lips” hot. I liked it, although there’s almost more heat than flavor, judging from my first serving. We’ll see what it tastes like on burgers or some meat dish next.


Trumped again

The United Kingdom has been the closest ally the United States has had since the beginning of the 20th century, at least. Yet our idiot President has so offended the citizens of that nation that he’s reconsidering a planned visit in light of potential protests following him around while there.

Mr. Trump is deeply unpopular in Britain, and any visit by him — let alone a state visit with all its pomp — would probably be met with wide-scale protests. Recent polls have found that more than half of the British public views Mr. Trump as a threat to global stability.

I have news for you, my brothers and sisters across the Atlantic: about half of us view him exactly the same way.

How did this feud begin? Harken back to yesteryear, my friends.

Soon after Khan became mayor, then-candidate Trump told the New York Times that he would make an exception to his proposed ban on foreign Muslims for Khan — an offer he turned down.

“I think Donald Trump has ignorant views about Islam. It’s not just about me. I don’t want to be the exception to be allowed to go to America,” Khan said in an interview on a British morning show in May 2016. “You can be a Muslim and you can be European.”

Trump wasted little time firing back. “He doesn’t know me, never met me, doesn’t know what I am all about,” he said. “I think they are very rude statements. Frankly, tell him I will remember those statements.”

More recently Trump either deliberately or stupidly misconstrued a statement the Mayor made after the Manchester attack warning his citizens not to be alarmed when they saw more police — including armed officers — on the streets. Trump tweeted ““At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’”

I don’t blame you, citizens of the UK; I wouldn’t want him in my country either if I had a choice.

Not a happy camper

Last Thursday afternoon, June 1, our side-by-side fridge/freezer began emitting a very loud hum. The following morning I checked our file and determined that yes indeed, this had happened before, in March of this year. The tech came out and cleared various internal vents back then. It worked fine after that, and because we have a Master Protection Agreement (fancy language for a maintenance contract) it didn’t cost us anything to have him visit. So when it recurred last week I thought “okay, I’ll try moving stuff away from the vents and see if the noise stops.” Nope, it did not. So I called Sears (it’s a Kenmore) and made an appointment to get it looked at and repaired. The trouble with that was that the earliest appointment I could get was Wednesday, June 7. I had a freezer full of food. I went out and bought a 48-gallon cooler and a bunch of ice and tried to keep it all frozen, but by Sunday it was thawed and hopeless. So I threw it out, prudently making a list of what I tossed as I did so.

One of the terms of the Protection Agreement is that Sears will replace up to $300 worth of food loss if it occurred as a result of their equipment failing. It’s pretty hard to argue that I threw 42 food items (remember that number, it will be important later) out of perversity, so I thought I was on firm ground filing a claim for it.

I called Sears on Monday and asked what the procedure was for filing for reimbursement, and was sent to this website. The guy fixed it on Wednesday. The thermostat had died so it couldn’t determine what the interior temperature was, and the fan used to circulate the air internally had fallen off its post.

Today I clicked the Food Loss button at the top of that page and was taken to a page on which I had to fill in my personal info (name, address, email, phone) as well as info from the receipt I got from the repair ticket (Service Order #, Service Date and Unit #). Then I needed to fill out an itemized list of food I claimed as lost. First I had to specify how many items in the claim; the maximum number allowable turned out to be 35 on the drop-down menu, seven less than I’d planned on (and I left stuff off the list when I was throwing it out, too; half-packages of hot dog buns, hamburger rolls, etcetera). Okay, that was annoying, but I could let some stuff slide (burritos, bagels and the like).

Here’s the list:

Then I determined that, while it says on that page that you can upload a file, it means a picture file, not a spreadsheet. So I had to redo my data entry from my spreadsheet to the form on the site, eliminating my seven extra items. Once that was done I clicked the “calculate” button at the bottom of the form to let it add up the total from the items I’d just keyed in, and Whoa! It said the total was $442 and change!

Now, ladies and gents, please look at that list. The column in the middle has the total of all 42 items. The column on the far right has the total of the 35 items I keyed into the Sears claim form. Do either of those add up to $442? No, right?

Is there a “Contact Us” link anywhere on the website’s pages which I could use to write Sears an email telling them their stupid form doesn’t add properly and attach my spreadsheet to show them so? Don’t be silly. Of course not.

I’ll have to get on the phone Monday morning and demand an email address of someone who can deal with this and who can inform the IT department minion in charge that the form doesn’t do simple addition correctly. Good grief.