Another month, another more fun....

I said something to the dog before uttering my incantation at 1 a.m., so it's bound to be a fun month:

Rabid Rabid Rabid!

And why was Ray up at 1 a.m.? Well, remember that toof that came out a few weeks back, that some people expressed concern about the toof below it being likely to fail? Well, I asked my dentist and the UB Dental people about it and they confirmed you were WRONG!

It's the toof next to the former one. I began getting pain in the extraction area not long after, but it stopped. Until it didn't. It was intermittent most of last week, but of course began its own version of the Friday Afternoon News Dump just when I had no chance of getting it fixed until tomorrow.

From that 1 a.m.  visit to the loo, and every 8-10 hours since, ibuprofen has kept it manageable. I really don't know if it's the former tooth's resting place, the one next to it, or just an evil spirit bopping around in there. Fortunately, I'm due to be in Rochester all day tomorrow, so I will be calling first thing to see if it can be looked at. If I'm lucky, it's a cavity in a suddenly exposed area. We won't discuss the other options just yet.


To keep my mind off such things, I decided to tangle with nature.

There's a crop of wisteria along our eastern lot line that has made its business to take over the yard. With all the inside work this summer, I've slacked off on managing it, but when I mowed back there yesterday, I could barely get into the side yard. So today it was a combination of hedge trimmer, handheld clipper, ladder and holy water to beat back the crop.

I got much of it under control. Audrey was trying to control the horizontal and vertical by wrapping her tendrils around the cable, from the tops of the trees right into the entry point cable box on our outer wall.  Killed that sucka off.  Also got most, but not all, of her attempts to tap into the power of the solar panels. Damn ladder's not tall enough to stop her completely.

Oh well. If Ron can't see me tomorrow, maybe I can visit her dentist:

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The Roy Rogers Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Strange things are happening out on the 90, as we know the mainline New York State Thruway in these parts. On the way to and from Rochester on Monday, signs were posted in both directions that many of the on-highway service plazas would be "gas only" as of July 29. I vaguely remember hearing about this some months back. The Thruway Authority had entered a deal with a new service provider for the 27 spaced-out "services" (as the Brits shorthand them) on its almost 500 miles of mainline from the Bronx to the Pennsylvania border.  Some states name them for famous personages, like the Jersey Turnpike's famed namings for Joyce Kilmer (born there, and he was a he), Alexander Hamilton (shot to death there) and Vince Lombardi (neither born nor died there, but got his first coaching gig at an Englewood high school).  The Thruway generally goes with the name of the town in which the land sits, although at least two in these parts break that pattern. Seneca is nowhere near Seneca Lake or the county or town of the same name; likewise, Ontario sits nowhere near lake, county or town.  Some are named after their host-town venues that make them sound vaguely magical- or downright strange.

None of them could be built or rebuilt today anywhere other than where highway planners put them beginning about 70 years ago. As part of the general trend toward highway uniformity and beautification in the 1960s, Congress banhammered the operation of commercial facilities along freeways designated as Interstates, with limited exceptions for vending machines, and with the grandfathering of all locations that existed before January 1960.  The idea was to encourage motorists to get off the freeways and find service stations and restaurants in the little towns that had largely been killed off by their construction.  It has not gone well.

This restriction has also led to strange decisions in this state, at least, trying to expand its tourism reach. Right before COVID hit and closed the border, Canadians were among our biggest supply of tourists, and their prime points of entry were from the several bridges connecting to the 190 north of here. The Thruway peeps decided to build a humongous Welcome Center on Grand Island, but because of that silly law, they were forced to build it off the highway proper, with limits on signage advertising it and requiring a turn from a regular exit for motorists coming from Canada and practically a U-turn for them on the way home. Even before the end of the Before Times, it sat largely ignored.

But those 27 grandfathered locations would be commercial gold, you'd think. Captive audiences going by, knowing you'd be their last chance for a snack or a pee for 20 to 50 miles, would be pounding down your doors, you'd think.

You'd think wrong.


As I mentioned in some previous babbling, we weren't Thruway people when I was a kid. Most of our travels were in the southernmore reaches of Upstate, and I inherited my cheap gene from my father, who was a toll evader that would have made Stan Shunpike proud. 

So my first experience with these culinary delights was when I started making trips as far west as Buffalo. I was then driving a 1971 Ford Maverick, a ten year old wreck on wheels, and didn't feel comfortable straying from where I knew there would be 24-hour service stations and a reliable police presence if the thing broke down.  From Ithaca or any points south, the point of entry to the westbound 90 would be at Seneca Falls/Waterloo, and just past it was the first of those grandfathered places of purveyance:

Junius Ponds. That's the strange one I linked to earlier.   Back in the early 80s, they looked much like they did when they were first put up, only with way fewer cool cars:

Ah, Hot Shoppes. The roadside distraction that was Marriott's first foray into the service business. They eventually acquired rights to the rest stops on the Thruway, although all I remember from that era was some really disgusting egg salad sandwiches out of vending machines at Junius Ponds.  Then came Cuomo The First, Prince Mario of Pious, and with him, a plan to upgrade all of these ancient outposts into virtual palaces of tourism:

That Swiss Chalet motif replaced the original bunkers in almost all places, but sadly, Canada's Swiss Chalet chain did not take advantage.  The operating rights mostly remained with Marriott, and they kept it plain vanilla throughout the system. Mickey D's, BK, later Arby's and Timmy's took most of the dining slots, as did one other once beloved eatery of my even earlier youth:

Roy Rogers.


I missed the Western craze in film and television that was mostly over by my childhood years. Mister Ed was about as close as I got to a horse. Still, Roy Rogers was embedded enough in the popular culture that I knew the name, I knew he was married to Dale Evans, and I knew the "Happy Trails" song that was his signature sign-off.  What he had to do with roast beef and fried chicken, I didn't know, but I quickly found out when he came to East Meadow in the mid-70s.

Fast food was still in its tween phase then. Trips to McDonalds were originally virtual roadies, to Levittown or Westbury strips along parts of highways we didn't usually travel. East Meadow eventually got one, and a King, and a couple of Friendly's weirdly spaced about a half mile apart; but by the time I got to tenth grade, the new kid in town was Hardee's. It was the closest to the high school and really the only one you could walk to, slog a roast beef sammich and fries, and walk back in the 40 allotted minutes.  Plus I had a major crush on one of the cashiers, who I later learned was dating a friend of mine and possibly a future serial killer (not the same guy).  So I spent plenty of time there until, suddenly, it was no longer Hardee's we'd hurry on down to.

Roy had ridden into town. The roast beef was better. Fries now came in "holsters." The center of the service area was now a "Fixins Bar" where you could load on sauces and sloppins of lettuce, tomato and onion to your heart's delight. And the cashier still worked there!  In addition to lunch houring over there, Roy's became the occasional weekend dining "night out" of choice for me and the 'rents. 

Then it was off for Cornell. Ithaca didn't have one, but then, Ithaca didn't have a lot of things. Around the time I started my Western New York life, Marriott began getting out of the roadside market to focus more on hotel properties. Most of the Roy’s locations got sold off to Hardee’s, of all people, with Mickey and the King taking over others. Yet for whatever reason, their service plaza locations on the 90 stayed in place, or at least several of them did. In those roughly 15 years in the 90s and oughts when I was doing a lot of driving along that corridor, I would sometimes go out of my way, or rather not go out of my way, to stop at one for old time’s sake. The Double R bar burger and holster were nothing special foodwise and overpriced at that, but I have quite a sense of nostalgia, and this was one way it came out.

When Emily and I took our February 2015 trip by train to see Billy Joel, that turned into a hideous bus trip home from seeing Billy Joel, the Megabus stopped at one of the Thruway service areas that still had a Roy’s.  It was open but the lines too long to even raid the Fixins Bar, putting yet another horrible coda on a horrible trip.


So now, almost 40 years after those Swiss chalets first popped up, the word came down from Cuomo the Second, Prince Andrew of Gropes, that it was time to do it all over again. I noticed that many of the signs on the highway and stalls in the buildings were empty, and it turns out they’ve been having trouble getting anyone to fill them. So they brought in a new international operator to take them all over and begin rebuilding the buildings, and architects are promising rotating knives to slaughter the tenants shiny new facilities with much nicer choices:

Including Chick-fil-A. Well, that’s one I won’t be going to.

Roughly half of the buildings are scheduled to remain open while the other half are being renovated from the ground up, at most, I can only find one Roy's that remains. But a new family has bought the rights to the cane, and promises great things and new locations, coming soon to a strip mall near you.

I’m not going to hold my holster in anticipation.

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Friday Afternoon News Dump

Politicians and businesses have long known that, if you have news of something you have to announce and can't hide, the best time to do it is late on a Friday afternoon. Fewer people are paying attention, newsrooms have emptied out, and you have over 48 hours to prepare your damage control.

None of these tidbits are that, but just putting them here at this hour feels that way.

I ended the workweek with two fairly low-key days. A hearing yesterday took under five minutes from dial-in to click-off, and that was my only fixed commitment. Today, I had none. I still have three swords of Damocles of various lengths and sharpnesses hanging over me from this past week, and I could have taken action to shake those swords, for better or worse. I chose not to. Same thinking: a Friday 5 p.m. bad news dump in any or all of them would have ruined my weekend, and there wouldn't have been a damn thing to do about any of them until Monday anyway. A Monday, I might add, which I fully expect to be a clusterfuck that is not my fault, dammit. So I am ignoring the cutlery until then.


As opposed to the cutlery in the icon, which we affectionately refer to around here as Butterknives.

This has been one of those unusual weeks where more than one of the four major North American sports (sorry, soccer and NASCAR) have converged with similar forms of news. All four have had their moments: NFL training camps opened, with all eyes on Green Bay to see what their green-and-golden boy quarterback would do with his career. (He opted to stay a year or two in exchange for getting out of the rest of his contract term and possibly being traded in-season.) The NBA had its draft this week; I lost my original and adopted home teams in the 70s, so I could care less. But hockey and baseball both brought news of significant player movement.

The NHL is off-season now, but its two major player-movement events were compressed into under two weeks time this year due to COVID forcing a shorter and later-starting season. Also in that window, this year, was an expansion draft for the 32nd team in Seattle. So the news from Sabreland has been brisk for late July: who's going to the Kraken (one young dude), who's getting drafted (the #1 overall, a kid from UM), and who's getting traded or signed. The latter groups brought the most activity, as two big-contract first-round picks from the early oughts both got new homes in exchange for decent to maybe-decent returns. Nobody wants to come to this crazy team unless they're desperate, so the Sabres lost two good players who'd reached free agency, and to replace them, they signed some bags of pucks and an old-style goon. But their biggest prize remains on the wall to be shot at by the other 31 GMs: their generational center, who they spent an entire season tanking to get, has all but said he wants out of Buffalo, but his pedigree and long-term contract give the Sabres complete control of if and where he goes for another year. After that, they can still keep him stuck here for five more years, but he can veto any trade. So it's been a big game of chicken involving the current team, all the others, and him and his agents. There's a weird injury issue in the middle of it. Worst, he was designated the team captain a couple of years ago, probably a couple of years too soon, and it will wreck the room if the C stands for Cancer, as it just well might.

All of this action coincided, for the first time I can remember, with the trade deadline in baseball. It falls relatively late in the season compared to the other major sports, although it is now a fairly firm July 31 date, or 30th when July ends on a Saturday. But perhaps more than in the others, teams align in the second half of July into "buyers" and "sellers," and the sellers put much bigger chunks of their entire teams up for sale. There's no crying salary cap in baseball, so money is not officially an object, but with COVID reducing stadium revenues and the weirder weather forcing more doubleheaders on teams, the sellers seem determined to offload as much payroll as possible. Loyalty to the players or their own fans? Afterthoughts, if even that.

This July's biggest dumpers were the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs. As in, the last two National League teams to win the World Series in a non-shortened season. In 2019, the now mostly dead Washington team was the first to win the Series in its 50-year history in DC and Montreal; the declawed Cubs won in 2016, more than a century after their last Series win. Not that I'm complaining, mind; the Mets were buyers for the first time in years, and the Nats' fire sale got several good players out of our division. We also obtained a good infielder and useful starter from the Cubs.

Now to just hope they don't burn down the ballpark;)


Other random things:

I haven't watched Jeopardy! since Mayim's run a few months back, but I tuned in the other night to check on LeVar Burton's turn. I loved him in TNG, and Buffalo's PBS station sponsored his long run on Reading Rainbow.

He'd be fine. I'll take him over a football field of Aaron Rodgerses or a poppy field of Oz's. But he seemed nervous and maybe a little too enthused. His "yesss!" after many correct responses sounded more like Marv Albert than Alex Trebek. Maybe it's because he got stuck all week with the latest savant- a smug, category-hopping, weird "what's" answering dude in the James mold. He also got a guy who decided to go after Cliff Clavin's spot in J! history with the lowest negative score in show history.

Pass the poor man a Potent Potable.


One other work note: I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'd managed to break the glass on one of my diplomas, and the nearest JoAnns had shut its framing counter. Several people mentioned a local framing joint a mile or two down Sheridan Drive from where I turn to go to work. Dude did a nice job, and cost me all of eleven bucks for my stupidity, but there were up and down sides to going in there twice to drop off and pick up.

Down: dude smokes like a chimney.

Up: the showroom has floor samples of his framing work. I don't think you'll find this one at Hobby Lobby:

I always wondered what happened to Art Fleming;)


ETA. The selloff in Chicago's going worse than I thought:

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Good Cinema, Bad Cinema.

We finished Holy Motors last night.


At one point, I said to Eleanor, Forget Goddard, Truffaut, that carpetbagger Konigsberg and all that lot. This is the most quintessentially French film ever made. Surly people? Check! Accordions? Check! Cigarettes? Check!

But it's ethereal, and musical, and surreal as shit. I can understand why Adam Driver took an interest in the director's work and joined his upcoming project Annette, which will be in cinemas on August 6 and on Prime Video two weeks later.

But for our next act, I'm going in search of what may be the quintessentially worst film ever made anywhere.


I came across it through a weird route.

Another film coming to Prime, this one a week from Saturday, is Val, a documentary about the life and times of Val Kilmer.  It was reviewed in the current New Yorker, and whenever we see Anthony Lane's byline on a review there, we know it's going to be fun.  After settling in by reaming the shit out of Settlers, Lane beats the once and former Batman senseless with this single portion of a paragraph:

We catch glimpses of a childhood in the San Fernando Valley; Kilmer was one of three brothers, who staged home movies of a rare inventiveness. We see clips of his time at Juilliard; two lines of a Hamlet soliloquy, again and again; and a dressing room in a New York theatre, where a couple of pallid striplings turn out to be Kevin Bacon and Sean Penn. We hear of Kilmer’s marriage to the British actress Joanne Whalley, and we learn that he was served with divorce papers while filming, or attempting to film, “The Island of Dr. Moreau” (1996) with Marlon Brando. Discretion, I’m glad to report, is not the better part of Val. Watching this documentary is like having Dorian Gray give you a guided tour of his attic.

Call the fire department! That's burning! Yet, although I will probably check it out on Prime if I don't have to pay anything for it, tonight's entertainment, or attempt at entertainment, will be Val's earlier work, which our 30-branch library system has exactly one copy of, not checked out.


I don't remember prior film versions of Dr. Moreau, much less this one; my main recollection of the story was a copy of the H.G. Wells original being a plot point in a mid-run episode of Orphan Black. The Lane review seemed to suggest that either the Kilmer version was never made or, at least, that he had dropped out of it.

Unfortunately, neither turned out to be the case.  However, Val was so upset about the divorce situation that he dropped the top-billed role and took on a lesser one. The bigger role, which went from Bruce Willis to Val to Rob Morrow and finally to famed future werewolf David Thewlis, was that of washed-up UN negotiator Edward Douglas. Or possibly Edward Prendick. You can never believe anything you read on Wikipedia, after all. Oh, but you must. Even if it's all bullshit, it's a wonderfully weird tale.

Willis left the gig, possibly also due to divorce reasons, and then Kilmer deferred to the lesser part. Former Cicely Alaska doctor Rob Morrow lasted two days on the set before they finally brought in a proper British actor with a stiff enough upper lip to handle the whole business.  All of these machinations came while the studio was changing directors, threatening to change directors, and extensively changing the script, including Thewlis essentially rewriting his entire part from scratch.

The only constant among this change was Marlon Brando. That can never be good.


Despite his reduction in screen time, Kilmer still angered the big guy:

Brando routinely spent hours in his air-conditioned trailer when he was supposed to be on camera, while actors and extras sweltered in the tropical heat in full make-up and heavy costumes. The antipathy between Brando and Kilmer rapidly escalated into open hostility and on one occasion, as recounted in Lost Soul, this resulted in the cast and crew being kept waiting for hours, with each actor refusing to come out of his respective trailer before the other. New script pages were turned in only a few days before they were shot. [Ultimate director John] Frankenheimer and Kilmer had an argument on-set, which reportedly got so heated, Frankenheimer stated afterwards, "I don't like Val Kilmer, I don't like his work ethic, and I don't want to be associated with him ever again".

Ah, but actors and directors are always getting along like that. Brando had other problems, though:

According to Thewlis, "we all had different ideas of where it should go. I even ended up improvising some of the main scenes with Marlon". Thewlis went on to rewrite his character personally. The constant rewrites also got on Brando's nerves and, as on many previous productions, he refused to learn lines, so he was equipped with a small radio receiver, so that his assistant could feed his lines to him as he performed - a technique he had used on earlier films.

Thewlis recollects: "[Marlon would] be in the middle of a scene and suddenly he'd be picking up police messages and would repeat, 'There's a robbery at Woolworth's'". Meanwhile, friction between him and Kilmer elicited the former's quip: "Your problem is you confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent". Upon completion of Kilmer's final scene, Frankenheimer is reported to have said to the crew, "Now get that bastard off my set".

Frankenheimer was the last man with hands on the camera, itself a line beginning with John Stanley, a music video director who progressed to the horror genre; he pitched a hissy when he found out that the studio was trying to get Roman Polanski on board after making sure he couldn't be extradited to America. He stayed on board, though, until the disputes among the actors proved too disruptive and the studio fired him. By fax.

After a subsequent hissy, the studio agreed to pay him his full directors fee if he kept quiet about the whole business. Which he did. Sort of:

Stanley had reportedly jokingly told the film's production designer to burn the set down, but when Stanley disappeared after being fired, security was tightened in case he was actually trying to sabotage the project. Stanley himself later revealed that he had in fact stayed in Australia - suffering a total emotional breakdown, he had retreated to a remote area in the Cairns region to recover. There, he had a chance meeting with some of the film's former production staff, who had been rehired as extras and were camping in the area. It was confirmed by these same production staff in the Lost Soul documentary that with their help Stanley secretly came back to the set over several days, disguised in full costume as one of the dog-men, and performed as an extra on the film he had originally been hired to direct. It has also been reported that he showed up at the film's wrap party, where he ran into Kilmer, who was said to have apologized profusely for Stanley's removal from the film.

I'm picking up the lone copy of this mess when our local branch, blessed with it, opens at 4.  Hopefully by then I can get Joel and the bots to come over.  Or at least Leonard Pinth-Garnell.

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Myyyyyy.... brain hurts!

But it doesn't make days like this any easier.

Started with an early hearing where the client has changed his mind more times than I've changed my socks in the same number of weeks. Somehow, I got dispensation for it.  Then, I spent most of the rest of the day trying to drag a settlement across a finish line. Both sides have been competing to see who can drive me crazier, but I think I may have gotten it there.  When I wasn't doing that, I was seeing a sorta new client who canceled a first appointment, got the wrong date for the second and then the wrong time today for the third. At least now I know: WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN FOR THEM.

And finally, I'm literally watching my Outlook spin its wheels tracking down a contact on another piece of annoyance I'm trying to get off my desk.

On the bright side ::whistles::, we've got a really weird movie on tap for tonight:

I read about this film in a review of the director's newest work, which stars Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard and will be out on Prime next month.  Both of them promise to be bizarre beyond words, but that's a lot more fun when you're not chained to a desk full of the bizarre.

In other entertainment news, our real hometown baseball team's return has been set for two weeks from tonight. The Bisons have also scheduled three Bark in the Park games, and I think our friends Scott (two-legged) and Sadie (four) will be joining us in late August for the second of them.

And returning to the heading of this post: something yesterday reminded me of this album I once owned, and even though the description says you can't listen to it in the US, you can, at least as I write this:

I definitely remember watching the original Python episodes on PBS in the 1970s, but that was before video recorders and streaming options, so to really learn the material, it was the vinyl versions of their bits that I remember even more clearly. Last night, I listened to side one of this one (remember sides?), and it really contains a ton of their best stuff: Spanish Inquisition, Gumby Theater, The Man Who Contradicts People ("No I don't!"), and the Piranha Brothers. These are not just regurgitations of the BBC broadcasts, but were re-recorded specifically for the albums, with some additional bits never seen on the telly mixed in or added to the tracks.

Yet this wasn't the strangest of their audio collection.  Later on, they put out Matching Tie and Handkerchief, which may be the only three-sided album ever recorded. Side one had conventional tracks on it, but side two had two concentric grooves on it, so depending on where your needle dropped, you got one of two ::wait for it:: completely different sets of tracks. Oddly, I don't remember any of the bits from either Groove One or Groove Two of the second side; maybe I tried to play it backwards at slow speed and screwed up my needle;)
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Weird Coincidence Day

I woke to one, followed by the other in the early afternoon. I'll start with the latter, since the subject is better known:

Today marks the 100th birthday of John deLancie. 

(No, not that one.)

I wound up making the trip to Rochester today I did not make yesterday, for less fun but more productive reasons. As I bumped over the Batavia hill and my Buffalo radio stations went away, I put on a friend's afternoon show on Classical 91.5 and heard that name.  I'd never known that John deLancie Senior was a famed oboist. He served in the US Army and, after the end of WWII, met the composer Richard Strauss. The story, as Wikipedia tells it and Julia did as well on the air:

De Lancie knew Strauss's orchestral writing for oboe thoroughly and asked the composer if he had ever considered writing an oboe concerto. The composer answered simply "No" and the topic was dropped. Six months later, de Lancie was astonished to see that Strauss had changed his mind and was indeed publishing an Oboe Concerto. Strauss saw to it that the rights to the U.S. premiere were assigned to de Lancie. However, de Lancie had joined the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1946 as a section oboist, so that as a junior member and under orchestral protocol, he was not able to premiere the concerto since Philadelphia's principal oboist, Marcel Tabuteau, had seniority. De Lancie then gave the rights to perform the premiere to a young oboist friend at the CBS Symphony in New York, Mitch Miller.

(Rochester's own Mitch Miller, that is.) Senior did eventually get to play it himself.

The version I heard her play was one by the Academy of London under the direction of Richard Stamp, with the oboe solo done by, I swear I am not making this up, Ray Still.

(No, not that one.)

The Senior deLancie's son, of course, went on to a long career in sci-fi, most notably as the afrorepictured tricksting, jokesting sometime member of the Star Trek continuum known as Q.

(No, not them.)

Making this even more coinkidinkal for me? Two things: only yesterday, I mentioned deLancie the Younger in replying to a post here from [personal profile] conuly, who's been doing a rethink of the Voyager franchise and suggested several retroactive fixes, including improving the Kes/Neelix roles and, yes, more Seven. My comment was that I hated the idea of injecting the Q into this series, given that Junior or his friends could have Thanos-snapped them back to the Alpha quadrant any time he/they wanted. Then, after police suspected an oboe was involved, I asked my Meta-Met loving friend Susan if she'd ever played the piece. She's a longtime Citi Field season ticket holder and an oboist for the Metropolitan Opera orchestra. She replied that she never got to play it, but she did have the honor of studying under deLancie père for nine weeks at Aspen.  He lived for 82 of those hundred years and his students remain active players, conductors and teachers of his art.


The earlier coincidence was tied to the client who was the main reason for my relatively short-time stop in the 585.

I've been representing this guy since 2008 and have gotten him out of so many jams, I had to order canning equipment from the Ball Jar company to capture it all.  The first of those cases is still going on; the opposing law firm has gone through no fewer than seven different attorneys representing the opposing party in those years. I suspect there's a drawing of straws after every retirement, firing and lateral move to see who gets to continue dealing with me on it.  The last of them to leave was a guy I will call John, not his name but not related to the deLancies, either.  Nice guy, was one of the easiest to deal with in all that time and sadly had one of the shortest tenures among the Spinal Tap drummers on the other side.

My case with them is actually in a state of limbo at the moment, but I was surprised to see John's name pop up in an email from a different client with a totally different problem. My client Eric had a rather substantial claim against a guy with the exact same first and (less common) last name as John, for work performed at the site of a legendary and now sadly defunct Rochester restaurant. I asked how old the guy was and he said about my age. Wow, that old?, I replied, doing some quick math and realizing it could not be the John I'd worked with.  Maybe it was his father, though.

Nope: I tracked down his mobile in earlier email exchanges, said hello, found out he's doing well in his new gig and asked him about Other John.  Turns out it's his cousin, and that, at least according to My John, my client's claim is one in a long line that's probably going to end up in Bankruptcy Court.  I'm still checking some things before I write it off, though.

Maybe the guy has an oboe he's not using.
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Do's and Dont's

Did's or Didnt's, more to the point. After all we did yesterday progressing The Project, we both needed to dial it down, on a day with many opportunities to go to eleven. For the most part, we did- or, rather, didn't- do exactly that.

* Did sleep in. For me, anyway. Made it past eight for the first time in weeks, and achieved that by getting back to sleep after doing the morning feeding around 6.  Only down of that was the dreams in those final houry times were intense, weird and unpleasant. Makes waking up easier, though.

* Didn't do anything else to progress the reno. Well, other than cleaning the two mirrors in there which were under tarps, and Eleanor deciding to rearrange furniture in one other room, and me trying to help find her tape measure to assist with that.  Compared to yesterday, that was nuthin.

* Did stick to going to a workout. I would never have booked a class for 10:30 this morning if I'd known what we'd been doing the day before.But it was too late to cancel and I’m too cheap to not do something I’ve paid for, so I plodded through. The morning's coach was inspiring as always, and other than me still hating mini-bands with the heat of 1,000 suns, it was a good, fun mix. I will not be taking the "benchmark" opportunity to row 2,000 meters tomorrow, though.

* Didn't go out of town. Friends in Rochester held their 10th almost-annual "deck party" that is probably still going on now. Pepper and I came to the 8th and 9th, in 2018 and 2019, and I had every intention of taking her today as well after last year's needed COVID cancellation. I just couldn't bear the idea of three hours in the car after still being sore from yesterday; the workout didn't make any of it worse, but that drive almost certainly would have.  They've been inviting local comics to "pop-up stand-up" in that same yard, and I will try to make one of those instead.

* Did listen to a nice Mets win. Most of it, anyway. Our former hometown Blue Jays are on the road until returning home at the end of this week- all tickets up there have been sold in a Toronto minute- and they began their swing in Queens in front of many friends.  It was a tight game, but we pulled it oot.

* Didn't finish the Annie Murphy "Kevin" series. Tried. The penultimate episode suggested an ending that quickly got called into question within moments of the final one beginning.  I got about halfway through before realizing that I'm just watching it to watch it. Her performance, and that of her female co-star, are excellent, but just about every male in the cast is playing someone who makes my skin crawl for one reason or another.  I will likely knock off the remaining 24 minutes, mainly because I have to cancel the trial of AMC+ before it becomes expensive next week. However, if it doesn't resolve in some really satisfactory way, I will not be returning for another season.

* Did post. Duh. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1655307.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

Out House.... is a very very very fine house....

The bathroom reno reached a vital turning point today, one that caused me to beg out of the Saturday writers group (in which I'd be told this sentence is too long), and one that has now added some urgency to the completion of the wall demo and re-tiling:

We took the toilet tank out.

As with most of this job, it wasn't easy. Shutting off and disconnecting the water supply went pretty well, but then came removing the bolts holding the tank to the throne proper, which likely have not been touched by a human hand since I was in diapers. I suppose that's one way of dealing with the issue if this takes longer than expected. Depends.

Initial attempts to remove them from a hominid stand-up position failed, so it was time to get down and dirty about it:

Needless to say, I did not take that photo. Eleanor did, with this caption:

Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear tee shirts and shorts and take the nuts off the bolts holding the toilet together, so we can tile around it!

I replied (later) that if I had been wearing a cape, the kittens would've just started batting at it. Sure enough, Bronzini got right up in my face when I was lying down there. They finally came out, the tank came off, and it was on to clearing the crud that was pretty much all along the wall behind the tank from its level and down.

Four hours or so later, I was done with as much as hands, shoulders, knees and toes could handle:

The splotch to the right of the remaining pink is where the former TP holder was. We've never used it since we've always had cats who think it's a permanent toy. The crap at the very bottom on both sides I just couldn't handle, so I soaked, napped and chilled while Eleanor began the retiling.

To paraphrase the famed slogan on a bridge in Trenton, New Jersey:

Ray breaks, Eleanor makes.

We do have a second shitter in the house, but it's downstairs, so she asked me to rig an indoor outhouse setup from sometime after a surgery or somesuch she had a few years ago.  Then she had second thoughts about that, and next I knew she was in there, scraping off those final patches of goo and preparing to finish the tiling behind- so the tank can go back on.

We're ordering out tonight.


Despite the work and the sore, I'm generally feeling better emotionally than a day or so ago. Being away from the clients for over 24 hours has certainly helped with that. I also have very childlike reactions to junior high social media bullshit.  Eleanor asked last night if I'd seen a post from a woman in the poetry group we're in, and I said I hadn't sent her a friend request because of how shitty I feel when someone unfriends me. That's included one other woman from that group and, more recently, a neighbor of ours who had a lot in common with Eleanor but had added me also- and then, without a word of explanation or offense, subtracted me.  Turns out she also unfriended Eleanor, which I did not know until just then.

I took the plunge and sent a request to the friend in question; no response yet.  Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out who two different people are who "accepted" friend requests from me this week. They're from two different circles of my life, and I vaguely knew of them, but I have no recollection of ever sending either a request.  I do remember that earlier this week,  I sent one to Dave Jauss, who is the bench coach of the Mets and who managed the team for three games this week and won two of them. This probably gives him the highest winning percentage of any manager in team history. He got this job after their regular manager got ejected, and then suspended, for a run-in with an umpire last Sunday. Dave accepted my request almost immediately. His other not-regular gig was serving as pitcher to Met star Pete Alonso during the All-Star home run derby earlier this month, serving up meatball after meatball for him to blast into the thin air of Coors Field.  He says he doesn't post much, but appreciates comments from fans. I can do that:)

ETA. Tiled and everything reassembled. Truth, justice and the American way of plumbing!
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"A Sad Day."

That, I'm told, is the way my mother described a very significant event in the life of our late sister, born this day in 1939.

Not as sad as the day in October 1988 when we lost her.

But sad all the same.

She graduated in East Meadow High School's first-ever senior class in 1957, twenty years before I did.

That's Sandy on the right of the photo, outside what was then our family's church. I remember Pat, on the other side of the guy in the middle, from around the corner; Ronnie, in the middle, I never did track down, but I believe I confirmed he has also passed.

I still think of her every day. Happy 82nd.

ETA. No, I didn't confirm that. Sorry, Ronnie:(  I posted that, and a couple other pictures, a year ago June when I came across them. Some others of the same last name had passed away by then, but Ronnie was apparently alive and well in Florida. Hopefully he still is.
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Mr Yuk

A little bit Kevin Bacon, and a bit too much Kevin Spacey....

Before I get into the Clash of the Kevins, just a summary of work in general these days:

It's been rough, and I'm only beginning to understand why.

Not the financial part of it; my gross revenue for the first half of 2021 is almost the same as it was for the same period last year, that with the pandemic not really kicking in until halfway through the first six months of 2020. Expenses are about the same. I like the co-workers here I share space with, and feel mostly the same about the ones in Rochester, who I've been seeing less of thanks to most of my hearings being remote these days.  The workload has been steady but rarely overwhelming: Tuesday through today, I had one hearing each morning, each going about as expected.  New clients are calling and some things are getting wrapped up.

I kinda figured it out today: it's a current batch of particularly difficult clients and/or client situations, which have been just coming one after another without much in the way of victories, even little ones, to break them up.  Client A is vying with A's opponent to see who can take up more of my time without really letting me make any progress toward a conclusion. B has very unrealistic expectations and delays getting a document back to me to the point where it may be becoming prejudicial. I didn't hear from C in almost four months, only to have that fairly large bit of work become Extremely Urgent a few Thursdays ago.  I take these things too personally and my first lizard-brain response is shit, what did I do wrong? In all of those, the answer, pretty much from up front, is nothing.

It helped that today, a case did unexpectedly resolve in my client's favor.  Another opposing party finally got back to me to confirm that I don't have to travel to meet a client Monday morning and the client doesn't need to be involved in the hearing at all. And B and C from above at least progressed; B paid on one matter and got a positive result on a prior one; and C got me some needed information while taking some of the pressure off.  I have nothing specific scheduled tomorrow and, while there's work to be done, it's what I will want to do, when I want to do it, and as much of it as I can.


B's case involved my Kevin Baconish experience.  If you've never played the game, The Oracle of Bacon is a handy way to test it out. Pick any actor, no matter how longago or obscure you think they are, and chances are they will fall within six degrees of performance separation from Our Hero. So, taking last night's Night Court star:

Harry Anderson
was in
The Escape Artist
Joan Hackett
who was in
Only When I Laugh
Kevin Bacon

The number is two.

More obscure? Try Bull:

Richard Moll
was in
Loaded Weapon 1
J. T. Walsh
who was in
A Few Good Men
Kevin Bacon

Wanna see how close Kevin is to God? Phil Leeds played him in a season 1 episode:

Phil Leeds
was in
He Said, She Said
Kevin Bacon

I tend to have experiences like that often, only with lawyers and clients. I brought a client into a bankruptcy hearing where her late husband's first wife was on the same calendar as she was.  I've had to duck around former clients who happened to have a bankruptcy appearance on the same day as one of mine. Here's how Kevin got me today:

I probably deal with hundreds of lawyers in the course of a year. Many are frequent fliers on Air Ray and, fortunately, I get along well with most of them. But lots of others, particularly from overgrown lawyer pounds like New York City, are the kind I will only deal with once in a lifetime.

Or not.

My only mail today was an oldschool letter from a lawyer in Brooklyn, agreeing to substantially all of what I'd asked for in a motion. He asked me to prepare the stipulation. I went into my Magic Bag of Word Documents to find the last stip of that kind I'd done, which was back in 2012....

and was with the same Brooklyn law firm. Which I've had no contact with whatsoever in the intervening nine years.

Coincidence? FUGGEDABUTIT!


But then, some Kevins are nicer than others.  The once respected Kevin Spacey, without whom Netflix might still just be mailing out DVDs after he launched House of Cards as their first Netflix Original Series, came to mind today when the other kinky boot finally dropped on a story we first heard about just about a year and a half ago:

New York State Supreme Court is not the highest in the state, but the trial court of general jurisdiction. It is statewide but each of the five counties of New York City and the 57 upstate ones each have a place for it to sit.  Judges are mostly elected to it, through a process that deserves its own rant post, and once on the bench they serve for 14 years. Its practice has changed drastically in my almost 35 years in the wringer, with alphabet soup terms like RJI, IAS, UR and most recently ECF (electronic case filing) getting added to my daily lexicon.

The court has few limits on what it does- estates, claims against the state, and family law matters involving minors have courts of their own- and the Court Administration Machine is always trying to organize and reorganize its jurists to expedite as many and/or as important cases as it can.  Upstate judges were long used to getting long-term relegations to New York City! to clear overworked criminal calendars.  There were experiments with judges specializing in matrimonial disputes, malpractice matters and, most relevant to me, commercial cases.  Starting in NYC and coming first upstate to Rochester, State Supreme began assigning "Commercial Division" cases to a limited number of judges who would work to expedite them, once freed of the gaggles of car-accident and criminal dockets that fill most of the courthouse.  Buffalo now has one, as well, with a higher monetary minimum of $100,000, but the one judge assigned in Rochester has historically gotten a lot of my cases there because anything over $25,000 (later raised to 50k) would go to him.

It's been at least three judges, all Hims, since it started there.  The predecessor judges are still on the bench there, but internal politics have prevented the job from going permanently to one judge. (Same is true here, with even more turnover in that gig over the years they've had it.) But the incumbent, a few years younger than me, had been doing it since at least early this decade.  He was friendly in chambers (filled with baseball memorabilia among other things), courteous on the bench, but did not suffer fools gladly and was quick to penalize parties for noncompliance with a sheaf of specialized divisional court rules.  He was up for re-election this past November, and nobody ever expected he'd encounter any real challenge; State Supreme judges are nominated, not through primaries, but "conventions" that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld with the faintest of praise: "The Constitution does not prohibit legislatures from enacting stupid laws.” They then run in multi-county districts that bleed deep red outside their immediate municipal chambers' locations. The incumbent ran as a Republican, and there was little doubt he would begin his second 14-year term this week after winning that race handily.

Until this weekend, that is: word came out that he is under investigation for judicial misconduct, that pending that he has been banned from his cases and workspace, and that he has notified Albany of his intention not to accept the second term he just got.  This is not an uncommon result in New York politics (see, Spitzer, Silver and Bruno, passim), and even among judges it's not unheard of.  Two of the former incumbent Commercial Division judges in Buffalo got disrobed earlier this century: one for filing false statements in an investigation of a drunken lawyer he was out for drinks with, the other for outright bribery involving pending cases of his and his desired promotion to an appellate court. (The first resigned but was not disbarred; the second is totally out of the legal profession.)

"Shock" doesn't begin to describe it; the Rochester incumbent was respected and would never have struck me as the type to do anything untoward.  It's been three days since the announcement, and the court system has kept the details of "what allegedly happened" completely locked down from the media and the practicing bar.  All I know is that several of my cases have already been reassigned and others will no doubt follow.  The Guv may appoint a temporary replacement who would have to run next November for the remaining 13 years of the term, or his bench may sit empty until then, clogging already full courtrooms even more.

Welp. Since then, here in Buffalo we've had one judge go on extended leave after laying his head on a railroad track, while the administrative judge in charge of Rochester and surrounding counties gave up his supervisory duties after a photo of him in blackface surfaced.  Rochester's Commercial Division judge signed a letter in mid-January of 2020, resigning completely from the bench, and vowing never to seek state judicial office again. There were rumors, hints and allegations, but nothing really came out about it until just now:

A woman who said she was employed as a secretary to  [a former Judge]  from 2005 to 2019 has filed a lawsuit against him for sexual abuse.

[The judge] abruptly resigned from his position in 2019.

The victim alleges that [he] raped her and compelled her to perform oral sex when she did not want to.

She also alleges that her complaints to supervisors, human resources, and state watchdog agencies went ignored.

The claim said that the judge said these sexual acts were a part of her job and would use custody of her child as leverage against her.


The victim said that the former judge continued to have unwanted physical contact after she said she would no longer comply with his demands, and that he sometimes did it in the presence of others.

At one point the victim claims that another Supreme Court justice went as far as saying women needed to deal with sexual harassment from male judges because there’s no way for the to be reprimanded.


If you click that link, or track down others, you'll  see his name, which I have removed, and possibly hers. In that time period,  I likely received dozens of emails from her on scheduling matters, and was in the same chambers with her and him at least a few dozen times.  Never got a hint of it. But then, hindsight does quite the job of descaling retinas. Compare and contrast his official Judgy photo, which still haunts all these stories about him, with a fictional character we saw on camera getting a Wholesale Club:


Last I heard, he'd tried to stake out a new career as a mediator.  I don't think that's going to go well now.

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