We Are at the Vet

(This post has nothing to do with anything that usually appears here. Just go with it.)

On a November Monday 30 years ago, the morning crew arrived at the radio station, a little pre-fab house in the country, to find a bedraggled cat sitting on the front stoop. It invited itself inside, hopped up on the couch in the reception area, and went to sleep. On Friday of that week, the cat came home with me, and stayed five months shy of 20 years. Sophie wanted nothing more than to spend her days sitting on my lap while I worked on the computer in my office and to spend her nights sleeping at my hip, the purest embodiment of love I have ever known. We had other cats: Abby, our first, who died in 2006, and the sisters Meeka and Maizie, who died in 2019 and this past summer. But Sophie was my favorite, and as we do not intend to have any more cats, she will hold that title for all time. 

During her last couple of years, Sophie went to the vet two or three mornings a week for intravenous fluids to help her failing kidneys. While I sat and waited, I wrote cat haikus, which I posted on Twitter. Most of them were written in 2011 and 2012, the year Sophie passed, although a couple were written several years later, after we’d acquired Maizie and Meeka. 

Cat haiku morning
Working here and there all day
Beer haiku tonight

Cat is at the vet
Time for vet haiku again
Cuz why the hell not

Screw the cat haiku
Cat got up at 3:30
I need sleep haiku

At the vet today
Wearing my thrift store denim
Yes, they are used pants

The cat got to ride
In the new car to the vet
She was not impressed

At the vet again
Might as well pass the time by
Writing vet haiku

Two cats at the vet
First one cat, then the other
Then I have a beer

Cat is at the vet
Didn’t win Mega Millions
How to pay the bill?

Here’s my PIN number
Just take whatever it costs
Call me when I’m broke

We are at the vet
The cat is quite unhappy
“They’re gonna do WHAT?!”

Cat haiku today
Is made up entirely
Of obscenities

We are at the vet
They named a wing after us
Back two cat$ ago

We are at the vet
The cat protesteth loudly
As if I give a

Cat is at the vet
Yada yada yada ya
Da yada yada

We are at the vet
Animal tranquilizers?
Shoot me up with some

We are at the vet
Where do you suppose they keep
The really big drugs?

We are at the vet
Sleet and rain will not deter
Nor lethargy stop

Cat is at the vet
Yup, we’re at the vet again
Where else would we be?

Cat is at the vet
Cat is always at the vet
How’d we get so old?

Cat is at the vet
Cat is always at the vet
Owner in same rut

On this fine spring day
We experience the new
Except at the vet

Morning at the vet
The cat is brown, white, and gray
Owner is just gray

At the vet again
Poetic inspiration
Is hard to come by

Cat is at the vet
Owner extremely grumpy
You finish the poem

We were at the vet
We did not feel like writing
Find your own damn poem

Two cats, two vet trips
Write vet one really big check
Then go drink two beers

Cat is at the vet
She is going to outlive me
Which is just fine, thanks

Cat is at the vet
She just might live forever
I hope that I don’t

At the vet again
Elderly cat is fading
Owner fading too

One last cat haiku
Sophie has left the planet
But never our hearts

Let’s Remember a Guy

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: the man himself, 2008.)

There’s a thing that’s gained popularity lately, thanks mostly to the writers at Defector, who started doing it on slow days at their former website, Deadspin: “let’s remember some guys.” It’s pretty simple: you come up with the name of an athlete from out of the past and discuss your memories of him. They didn’t invent it, however. “Remembering some guys” has been going on for as long as men have had time to talk about sports. (Somebody on Twitter, I forget who, suggested that men talk about guys as a way to have deep and involved conversations without having to discuss emotions, hopes, dreams, and the sort of stuff men are often not comfortable sharing with one another. I think that’s probably true.) 

A related activity involves the collection of unusual names. To do this in the modern world, you walk a line that didn’t exist years ago. You gotta ask whether it’s racist to note the unusual-ness of certain Black athletes’ names that include nonstandard capitalization and punctuation marks. Although it’s worth noting that some of the strangest names you can find right now are among pro golfers and lacrosse players, two of the whitest sports in America. 

So anyway: this piece appeared in its original form at my first blog, The Daily Aneurysm, on May 21, 2006. A slightly revised and edited version has been sitting in my Drafts file for nearly 10 years, going back to when I first had the idea of repeating old Aneurysm posts here. I looked at it the other day after a brief Twitter exchange about great baseball names, and added the link in the first paragraph.

Over the years, I have collected odd names. It’s easier now than it used to be. Some of the names parents hang on kids today seem so strange, and sometimes so flatly cruel, that you can’t help but notice them. I am thinking here of the parents who wanted to name their son Tim, but for whom Tim was simply too pedestrian, so they named him Tymme, or the parents who created future strippers by naming their daughters Wytnee or Lynzi.

I was collecting athlete names first, however. It started way back in the 60s and 70s, with names like Pedro Borbon and Cephus Weatherspoon. But despite my experience with odd names, nothing prepared me for the latest one I found: Boof Bonser. Boof is a pitcher who will make his major-league debut for the Minnesota Twins today [5/21/06] against the Milwaukee Brewers.

In defense of his parents, Boof’s name is self-inflicted. His parents named him John Paul. (John Paul Bonser isn’t a bad rock-star name, actually—a chainsaw lead guitarist in a heavy-metal band, maybe.) Somebody nicknamed him Boof at some point, and he legally changed his name to Boof a few years ago.

When I first heard the jokes about Boof, I laughed along with them. But that was before I realized his name has magical powers. When you speak the name “Boof Bonser” aloud, something happens. You have to smile. Endorphins are released.…All the trouble in the world seems mitigated by the fact that there’s a guy named Boof walking around and sharing it with us.…

Try it.

It’s particularly fun to say if you do it like a ballpark announcer.

Boof Bonser started 60 games for the Twins in three years, including a start in the 2006 ALDS. In 2009, he appeared in only one minor-league game, so I suspect he was injured that year. After the 2009 season, the Twins traded him to the Red Sox, but he appeared in only two games for them in 2010 and was released in June. The A’s picked him up, and he appeared in 13 games, the last one in October 2010, at the butt-end of the season. After that, he was signed by the Mets, Giants, and Cleveland organizations, and pitched in the minors without making it back to the Show. In 2013 he pitched in China and in the independent Atlantic League. Lifetime major league record: 19 wins, 25 losses, earned-run average 5.12, and WHIP 1.459. 

If you would like to remember some other guy, please do so in the comments. 

Uncommon Ground

Embed from Getty Images

Doing radio every day has cut into my fooling-around-with-the-blog time. So here’s something that’s been sitting in my Drafts file for a while.

Here’s something you may not know, even if you’ve been reading this blog for a while: I have an interest in the paranormal. It goes back to grade school. I’ve read all of the most famous paranormal populizers, from Charles Fort and Colin Wilson to Frank Edwards and Brad Steiger, and I follow a few paranormal feeds on Twitter. My interest is in oddities and strangeness, as opposed to ghosts, monsters, and aliens. I am, however, a skeptic. Like Fort, who did not often attempt to explain what he reported, it’s enough for me to know that something happened. If it can’t be explained by our current knowledge of the world, that’s OK. I don’t need to know the reasons for everything, and I have no patience for speculations that the evidence won’t support.

If I were a more credulous person—if I, like Fox Mulder, wanted to believe—maybe I would have a lot of personal experiences involving the sort of oddities and strangeness that interest me. But I have had only a few.

Continue reading “Uncommon Ground”

The Same Thing, Only Different

Embed from Getty Images

I’ve told the story before, I think. My blogging days began in 2001, shortly after 9/11, when I used a sliver of web space from my ISP to put up something I called “Rant of the Day.” In 2003, I started The Daily Aneurysm, named because there’s always something in the news that makes you want to have a stroke. I stopped writing it in 2006, and it’s no longer available online because somebody squatted on the domain name. For several years I contributed to a current-events site called Best of the Blogs, which also no longer exists. The Hits Just Keep on Comin’ was born in 2004.

Despite focusing on music and radio over here, I still have some of the same impulses to write about current events and other topics that I had years ago. Most of the time, I simply lie down until they go away. Since 2020 went to Hell, however, those impulses have been stronger than before. I have written a lot of stuff that I ended up not posting here because it feels off-brand, to the extent that I have established a brand. I’d like to stick to music, radio, and music/radio-as-memoir pieces here as much as possible, which means that pieces about life on lockdown and other current topics don’t really fit.

Also, it’s likely you come here for diversion from the Great American Dumpster Fire, and not to engage with it. Maybe you come here because you like the music and radio stuff in spite of the fact that I’m a commie-lib atheist. And if either of those is the case, I don’t want to drive you away.

So: if you’re interested in reading that other stuff—about current events, maybe some sports now and then, rebooted pieces I find in my journals, and/or whatever additional flotsam comes into view—please enter your e-mail below. This is different from whatever subscribing or following you have already done with this website. It’s a whole ‘nother thing.

There is no guarantee that when you sign up for this list, you will actually receive anything. I’m starting off by gauging interest, and if it turns out to be insufficient (which will not offend me in the slightest, by the way), this idea will disappear into the ether and we shall never speak of it again.

Outside the Bubble

Embed from Getty Images

I keep writing these Life on Lockdown pieces and then not posting them because I decide that they won’t do anybody any good. Neither will this one, probably.

Continue reading “Outside the Bubble”

Before the Sky Falls In

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: last day of school hell yeah.)

Here’s more Life on Lockdown, in which we ramble around to whatever seems ramble-worthy.

If my local districts have stuck to their pre-plague calendars, school is getting out right about now. There is no feeling in adult life that’s analogous to the last-day-of-school feeling, except maybe for voluntarily quitting a job in favor of a better one. You walk out with mingled senses of relief, accomplishment, freedom, and expectation—especially the last two, when you’re a kid out of school. Three months stretch out in front of you rich with possibility. You realize that yes, you’ll probably have to work, either chores at home or hours for The Man in exchange for a paycheck, and that it won’t all be golden time. But some of it will be.

What kids are thinking this year, I don’t know. Their world has been gravely circumscribed by the plague. Some continue to work as usual—my nephew, for example, finishing his junior year in high school, has been working the grill at Culvers all through the pandemic and will continue to do so this summer. Others will find their summer plans scrubbed: no hangouts with friends, no music or Scout camp, no family vacation.

I see kids in my neighborhood, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs or trios, on skateboards or scooters or just walking along, and I wonder what they’re saying to themselves and to one another. Do they understand just how deep is the trouble we’re in?

I am torn about whether I want them to understand it. I have written previously about 1975, when between inflation and international tension and the energy crisis and the culture wars, it must have seemed to many adults that the nation was falling apart—but also how our parents did the worrying for us, and how my brothers and me, aged 15, 13, and 9, barely knew how bad it was. I don’t think it harmed us to be protected from the worst of it. And as it turned out, we survived it as a family, and as a nation. This crisis is vastly worse, however, and all of the potential outcomes seem terrible. Some kids know the score—the number of young people who have been involved in the recent protests against brutal policing is inspiring to geezers such as I. For the youngest kids, there will be a time when they’ll have to understand, but not yet. For now, let them have a little bit of carefree summer before the sky falls in.

On another subject:

Continue reading “Before the Sky Falls In”