Entry 1044: This Gland is Your Gland, This Gland is My Gland

Hello, again, kiddies! It’s Mr. Sciencemoron, back again with a new body part!

I don’t mean that I, personally, have a new body part, although I do have a weird pimple on my head. I’m talking about a part we all have that we didn’t know about because it’s been hiding in plain sight if, by “in plain sight,” we mean visible by using the …

“… recently introduced molecular imaging modality of positron emission tomography/computed tomography with radio-labeled ligands to the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA1 PET/CT) can visualize salivary glands with high sensitivity and specificity.”

The new body part is called tubarial glands, and its been sitting right there in your nasopharynx all along. And you never noticed it!

Its discovery is important because it once again shows how utterly incompetent biologists are. How is it possible that they haven’t catalogued all our parts yet? Is it like assembling something from IKEA where, when you’re done with your lopsided table, there’s still a couple of screws laying around? (“Where is this one supposed to go?” “I dunno. In the nasopharynx?”)

I mean, look at this image which I cut and pasted from a scientific article. Our bodies even include a helpful blue arrow pointing right at the tubarial glands. So how did scientists miss it all this time? What does it take for a body part to get noticed anyway? Does it need its own Youtubarial Channel?

Ha ha. Glandular joke there.

And in case you think that a new body part is a once-in-a-lifetime discovery, I’ll have you know that this is the third new body part they’ve found in just the last eight years. And you thought you’ve been gaining weight because of the pandemic? Ha! It’s all these new body parts!

Back in 2013, I reported on Dua’s Layer, a new eye part which seemingly does nothing but occasionally tear and let fluid into your cornea. Then in 2017, I told you about the mesentery, which Leonardo da Vinci knew about and even drew (at left) but which had escaped the notice of subsequent scientists for around 600 years until someone said, “Hey, what the hell is this thing?”

And now they’ve found these tubarial glands. Scientists assume their physiological function is the moistening and lubrication of the nasopharynx and oropharynx. So if your oropharynx feels dry, there might be something wrong with your tubarial glands.

Yeah, I know–something else to worry about, right?

And That’s Not All Scientists Have Discovered …

There’s also this thing, which, fortunately, is not a body part (unless the photo is an enlargement of someone’s grandmother’s mole).

It’s called a puss caterpillar and it’s one of the most venomous caterpillars in North America. It was spotted in Virginia, which was unusual because it’s more often found in places like Missouri and Texas, where it shares the venomous spotlight with, respectively, John Hawley and Ted Cruz.

If you see a puss caterpillar, do not pet it even though it looks so soft and cuddly. That fur hides toxic spines that can break off in your skin and cause a burning sensation, localized swelling, blotching, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, fever or swollen glands.

I do not know if the swollen glands are tubarial.

See you soon.

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Entry 1043: Dosey Dose

This was one of those occasional years when my birthday fell on President’s Day, which meant that I could have celebrated by getting a great deal on a new car.

Instead, I got my first dose.

Such is the state of our society that you can walk up to anybody and say “I got my first dose today” and they’ll know what you’re talking about. If they can hear you, because you are six feet away. And wearing two masks.

I had an appointment in the morning to get that first dose at the Norwalk Community Health Center, which, in an increasingly rare example of logic in today’s world, is in Norwalk CT. Although the wind chill factor was in the low teens, I left the house wearing only a t-shirt under my winter coat. I had decided I’d rather be cold than have to strip off multiple layers of clothing to get to a bare shoulder.

When I arrived, I was surprised to see they had reserved parking just for vaccine getters, which made me feel special. Once inside the building, I was directed down a long hallway, past various health-related doors (“Dental,” “Pediatrics,” ”Women’s Health,” “Behavioral Health & QAnon Believers”) until I arrived at another long hallway where chairs were arranged single file and socially distanced. It looked like the world’s most boring roller coaster.

The first chair was vacant so I took it. A person came by to collect my driver’s license and my personal QR code, which I had printed out from the CDC website when I made my appointment, and which, I assumed, contained my entire life history so that the government could henceforth track my every movement. The person came back moments later to return my license and hand me a rather lengthy document with everything I might want to know about the Moderna vaccine and quite a few things I really didn’t want to know. For instance, it told me that “Most side effects were mild to moderate. However, a small number of people had severe side effects that affected their ability to do daily activities.” In my case, those would have to be some pretty severe side effects indeed, considering that my daily activities consist mostly of eating and typing.

The document also said I shouldn’t get a shot if I was allergic to polysorbate. I knew from a post I did about a year ago that polysorbate is an ingredient in Hostess Twinkies, so I figured I was safe.

While I waited, some of the staff were making phone calls to people who had appointments for their second doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which the center had apparently run out of. It seems that you can’t mix vaccines (possibly because they have different side effects), so those Pfizer Pfolks had to be cancelled. I didn’t know what happens if you never get your second covid shot; I guessed you’d have to stay three feet away from people.

While I waited, I decided to Google what happens if you don’t get the second covid shot. Tellingly, I only had to type “What happens if you don’t get” and Google helpfully filled in the rest of my question.

Popular topic.

Before I could click on any of the search results, I was called into the vaccination room and directed to “Station 2.” The person there looked at her computer. “Oh, happy birthday,” she said after a moment.

“Thanks,” I said, removing my jacket. “Now give me my present.” Really, I said that. Fortunately, she laughed.

She said what health care providers always say when they give you a shot: “This will punch a little.” I’ve often wondered: when doctors and nurses actually pinch somebody, do they say “This will feel like I’m sticking a needle in your flesh?”

So I got my shot and my “I got my COVID-19 vaccine!” sticker and was sent out into a holding area to join all the other people waiting to see if they were about to go into anaphylactic shock. What was I supposed to do with this sticker? Would it soon be necessary to label yourself as having been innoculated before venturing out into public? I figured I’d keep my sticker in pristine condition and sell it on eBay in 20 years as pandemic memorabilia.

While I continued to breathe in the waiting area, I was able to make an appointment for my second dose, which, disconcertingly, was for five weeks away rather than the recommended four. I started typing a Google question again and didn’t even get as far as I did the last time: “What hap…?”

Five weeks is okay, I learned. Also, my daily activities might have to be curtailed for a day or two afterwards.

I may have to give up typing.

See you soon.

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Entry 1042: Grayish-Amber Alert

Today I would like to abandon the usual attempts at humor this blog is known for (by me), to enlist your help in finding a lost child.

His name is Kirk Quintons, and his disappearance has come to my attention via Valassis, which is the company behind those circulars with mail order offers, coupons and important information about having a new bathtub installed in one day.

You see, Valassis is, according to its flyer, “committed to supporting the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.” Apparently, it supports NCMEC (pronounced “Neck Meck?”) by devoting small areas of its circulars to the types of notices more stereotypically associated with milk cartons, each featuring one missing (and possibly exploited, I guess) child.

The misplaced munchkin that was shown in a recent edition was the aforementioned Kirk Quintons. Normally, I wouldn’t have known about Kirk because I generally place these circulars in the pile of my wife’s mail, but on this occasion, it was on the kitchen counter and I needed something to read while eating some yogurt, and it was a choice between salad dressing coupons and one of my granddaughter’s books.

Since I already knew the ending of Elephant and Piggie: Let’s Go for a Drive! I began absently leafing through the Valassis flyer. And there, right under a large ad for Omaha Steaks, was Kirk Quintons inquiring as to whether I had seen him.

“HAVE YOU SEEN ME?” asked Kirk.

His question got my attention for two reasons. First, he’s from New York City, which is in a neighboring state, so it’s slightly more probable that I might have seen him on the street than if he was from, say, Omaha, origination point of The Butcher’s Deluxe Package (including 8 Caramel Apple Tartlets!) for only $129.99.

Of course, these days, even on those rare occasions when you do see someone on the street, they’re kind of difficult to identify what with the face masks and all.

Recognizing Kirk would be problematic anyway because one of the photos of him was kind of blurry. It certainly wasn’t taken with a hi-res iPhone camera. I know that for sure because–and this is the second reason the notice caught my attention–he hasn’t been seen since 1983, just before his twelfth birthday

Yes, that’s right: this particular missing child is 49 years old.

Valassis understands that Kirk may no longer resemble his adolescent photo (they also don’t bother to tell you what he was last seen wearing), and so they have helpfully provided a second, “age-progressed” picture showing what Kirk might look like today … which is a little bit like Jay-Z only a tad puffier and with bad lighting. Come to think of it, maybe Jay-Z is Kirk Quintons. After all, Jay-Z is also from New York City and is only two years older. If so, Beyoncé should immediately call 1-800-THE-LOST to report that she has found Kirk so the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children can call off the search.

Now, I’ll admit that I can’t even imagine the agony a parent must go through when a child vanishes. And I can understand never giving up hope that, someday, a middle-aged stranger will ring your doorbell and say, “Hi, mom. What did I miss on Three’s Company?” But wouldn’t you maybe stop actively searching around year 30? And shouldn’t Valassis be supporting the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children by featuring missing and exploited children of more recent vintage … you know, children who are somewhat less likely to now have children of their own?

I mean, think about it. What exactly would happen if Kirk Quintons was found?

  • NECK MECK INTERVIEWER: Are you Kirk Quintons, missing since September 18, 1983 and survivor of six presidential administrations including Ronald Reagan’s?
  • KIRK: Why, yes I am.
  • INTERVIEWER: Your parents have been searching for you for 37 years. Now that we’ve found you, they need your help putting them in a nursing home.

All that being said, I suppose there’s an outside chance that the age-progressed photo of Kirk Quintons is accurate … and that someone might actually see him … and remember him from that coupon circular they immediately tossed into the recycling bin … and recognize his eyes above the mask … and, after asking for his autograph, realize that he’s not Jay-Z.

If that extremely observant person also happens to be a reader of this blog, and you want to report your Kirk sighting, you should know that, in addition to the phone number mentioned earlier, there’s an app you can download to help you report missing children because I’m sure you encounter missing children so frequently that you need an app on your phone to report them all.

See you soon (but probably not you, Kirk).

P.S. In case you think you can find Kirk with a simple Google search, I assure you it’s not that easy. In fact, Kirk has been the subject of many inquiries over the years on sites like Web Detectives. It’s possible that one thing hampering our stalwart staff of internet sleuths is that there is some disagreement among age progression software, as demonstrated by this notice from nine years ago in which Kirk looks nothing like Jay-Z and has, for no apparent reason, been assumed to be sporting a mustache.

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Entry 1041: Party Animals

In a recent post, I mentioned that Donald Trump is reportedly thinking about starting a third political party and that, if he did, he was thinking it might be the Patriot Party, and if it was, it might be represented by a lion.

But that was way back in January, and, since then, Trump has vowed to play nicely with Republicans, who were terrified that a Trump-led party (a Trumpled party?) would siphon off conservative, not to mention, insane, voters. That, however, did not prevent me from thinking about that lion.

While not exactly an iconic American symbol like, for instance, the eagle, the bison or the jackalope, the lion would have been an appropriate image for a Trumpled party. You can just picture one stalking its prey and pouncing on the capitol building.

Also lions and Trump have similar color palettes.

You can certainly imagine a patriotic lion sinking its teeth into a Democratic donkey or even bringing down a somewhat lame Republican elephant. And that got me to wondering why the Republicans, and especially the Democrats, chose those animals in the first place. After all, why in the world would you select a donkey–a jackass, for Pete’s sake–to represent you? (And BTW, when I talk about having a jackass represent you, I’m not referring to the people who voted Marjorie Taylor Greene into Congress.)

Anyway, I looked it up, and it turns out, the parties didn’t choose their animals. Not exactly.

I mean, they didn’t have a caucus during which they appointed a subcommittee on branding, which then spent five years coming up with a proposal, which then went to focus groups which were difficult to use in the 19th century because the two-way mirror hadn’t been invented yet so the people from the branding agency had to sit in the same room with the participants, staring at them as they told the moderator their deepest feelings about donkeys and elephants and asking what the hell happened to the Whigs anyway.

In fact, it was political cartoonist Thomas Nast who popularized the Democratic and Republican symbols that the parties then adopted. The donkey had been introduced in the 1820’s, specifically to refer to Andrew Jackson as a jackass. The elephant first showed up during the Civil War when soldiers used the term “seeing the elephant” to mean experiencing combat.

But it was Nast who linked the creatures indelibly to their respective parties. Nast used all sorts of animals in his cartoons. He even used a lion twice, once in the cartoon at right wherein a donkey, representing Northern Democrats who were against the Civil War (and were called “Copperheads” for some quaint, 19th Century reason) is kicking E.M Stanton, who I think was Lincoln’s Secretary of War, and who apparently was either literally or figuratively deceased. There’s also a lion–sort of–in the Nast cartoon below, which I believe had something to do with Ulysses Grant running for a third term as president. The caption reads:

“The Third Term Panic: An ass, having put on the Lion’s skin, roamed about in the forest, and amused himself by frightening all the foolish Animals he met with in his wanderings.”

I won’t get into the background of these two cartoons, primarily because I don’t want to look it up. I also don’t know why, in the second piece, Nast depicts the New York Times as a unicorn (or is it a goat?). And Nast was clearly a man ahead of his time: note that he has an owl seemingly delivering mail more than a century before Harry Potter.

What’s the point of all this?

Well, in the wake of Trump starting a new, leonine party, it’s definitely time for the other two parties to get new looks, or at least new animals.

Since the Patriot Party will likely hurt Republicans more than Democrats, the GOP should adopt a symbol associated with taming big cats. Something like the one at left, maybe. And Joe Exotic would go for it since Trump didn’t pardon him.

But what of the Democrats? Well, when you’ve gone along with being represented by a jackass for almost 200 years, that’s a pretty low bar. And I’ve got an easy fix. Just lop an ear off their donkey and you’ve got a unicorn, which I don’t think the New York Times is using anymore.

For that matter, a goat works, too.

See you soon.

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Entry 1040: Trump’s Last Act

Well, there’s more good news about former president Donald Trump. Not as good, perhaps, as being able to write “former” before “president,” but good news nonetheless.

We may never again have to see him in a movie theater.

That’s not because we may never again go to a movie theater. It’s because Trump won’t be appearing in any films, except maybe in news footage like when they include newsreels of Hitler in World War II movies.

The reason for Trump’s departure from the silver screen is not because he prefers gold. It’s because the Screen Actor’s Guild was about to hold disciplinary hearings regarding his involvement in the January 6 insurrection (evidently, SAG frowns on actors trying to overthrow the government), and Trump responded by saying, in essence, “You can’t fire me; I quit.”

If only he had done that before his disciplinary hearing in the Senate. The first one.

Trump being Trump, he didn’t just turn in his union card. Instead, he wrote a scathing letter on semi-official stationery to SAG’s president, Gabrielle Carteris (who, unlike Trump, has not been impeached … even once) and, Trump being Trump, also released it to Fox News:

“Who cares!” the letter begins. “While I’m not familiar with your work, I’m very proud of my work on movies such as Home Alone 2, Zoolander and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; and television shows including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Saturday Night Live, and of course, one of the most successful shows in television history, The Apprentice — to name just a few!”

Okay, well, first of all, Gabrielle Carteris was one of the stars of Beverly Hills, 90210 and probably logged more screen time in one episode than Trump did in all his movie appearances combined.

But let’s examine, shall we, the film work Trump is so proud of. In Home Alone 2, he is on screen for all of five seconds, just long enough to deliver his one line, “Down the hall, to the left” in response to Macaulay Culkin asking where the lobby of the Plaza Hotel is. Trump does handle the pointing part of his role very well, managing to motion toward the general direction of “down the hall,” but I would say his performance lacks believability; it leaves us uncertain if the lobby really is down the hall and to the left. This despite the fact that Trump actually owned the hotel in which he was giving directions.*

In Zoolander, Trump’s appearance is equally brief, although his one line is four times as long: “Look, without Derek Zoolander, male modeling wouldn’t be what it is today.” Trump is better in this role, delivering it with some authority, as if he is an expert on male modeling, and his performance is aided by having Melania, herself an actual former model (albeit a female one), looking on adoringly, or, at least, not hatefully, as she mostly did in later years.

Trump’s appearance in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is much lengthier; it’s an actual scene with dialogue and haircuts, in which he discusses hedge funds with Michael Douglas. Tellingly, though, the sequence was not integral to the plot, which made it easy for director Oliver Stone to cut it. Similarly, Trump’s self-pride-inducing work in Home Alone 2 has been excised.

If only it were that simple to remove him in real life.

Trump’s guest shot in the 1994 episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, however, was important to the story, which was something about Trump wanting to buy the mansion in which Will Smith was residing because Trump had been led to believe a nephew used to live there, or some such totally reasonable sitcom plot. In this one, Trump shows up with a mini-skirted Marla Maples (who actually has a line herself–take that, Melania), and he utters a rather prescient line that was some 26 years before its time: “Everybody’s always blaming me for everything,” he says.

It’s a little sad, don’t you think, that Trump seems to either have all his screen appearances memorized or took the trouble to look them up in order to write his SAG resignation letter. And, interestingly, the letter leaves out his appearance on the 2005 Emmy Awards, in which he actually sang! While wearing overalls!

I guess he wasn’t proud of that.

At this point in examining Trump’s acting résumé, it should be apparent that he has never played anybody but himself, and that, at times, he didn’t even do that all that well.

And as for The Apprentice being “one of the most successful shows in television history,” not so much. It was the seventh most-watched show the year it premiered, but it spent most of its life between the 46th to 84th position.

I should mention that even though Trump has resigned from the union, he can legally still “act” in movies. However, a SAG spokesperson said, “This industry is one that respects labor relations and respects the collective activities of unions quite a bit, so most producers do look to see whether or not the person is a member of the union in their hiring decisions.” **

Unless, of course, the script calls for an asshole former president.

In concluding his resignation letter to SAG, Trump states,“You have done nothing for me.”

On behalf of America, Donald, I’d like to say “Likewise.”

See you soon.

*The movie’s director, Chris Columbus, has said that, after he paid the fee to shoot the scene in the Plaza Hotel, its owner, Donald Trump, said, “The only way you can use the Plaza is if I’m in the movie.” This is what actors call “nailing the audition.”
**As if to emphasize the point, the union passed a resolution barring Trump from ever rejoining it. It is clear that we need SAG to be in control of the Federal government.

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Entry 1039: When in Rome (GA) …

Marjorie Taylor Greene has been in the news quite a bit lately. In case you don’t know who she is, she’s one of those QAnon nuts. In case you don’t know what QAnon is, it’s the online investigative news source that exposed Hillary Clinton’s scheme to take over the world by running a child trafficking ring out of the basement of a pizza place. (QAnon adherents are vehemently against child trafficking, unlike the rest of the United States.)

Of course, lots of people believe everything QAnon (pronounced “[krey-zee]”) says, even though it sometimes seems like QAnon is really just a group of jokers sitting in a room and laughing about what they can make its idiot followers fall for. But Marjorie Taylor Greene (pictured below supporting the use of aluminum in automobiles) stands out among all QAnon’s devotees in that she is an actual U.S. Congressperson who ardently believes that the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings were “false flag” events, staged solely for the purpose of promoting gun control legislation. Because of her obvious intelligence and love of children, her Republican colleagues naturally placed her on the House Education Committee. She was removed, however, before textbooks could be changed to mention that evolution was a hoax.

Now, it’s easy to make fun of Marjorie Taylor Greene, and a great many humorists have done so. But, personally, I like more of a challenge than lambasting someone who thinks Jews control space lasers that caused wildfires in California. (Obviously, if Jews controlled space lasers, the Middle East would have a much different look, and circumcisions would be easier.)

I’m more interested in finding out about Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, which is the district that elected Marjorie Taylor Greene. It includes Floyd County, home to the city of Rome, but not Clarke County, home to the city of Athens, because Georgia didn’t want all its fake classical cities in the same district.

The population of Georgia’s 14th District is–and here’s a shocker–85.3% white. It’s also 74.7% stupid. I know this because that’s the percentage of its citizens who voted for somebody who has stated that she’s not sure if a plane actually hit the Pentagon on 9/11. Before voting for her in the general election, the genius residents of the 14th District chose her in the Republican primaries over eight other people including a Superintendent of Schools, a Wharton MBA, a neurosurgeon and a Cornell graduate with a degree in Public Administration. So, clearly, Greene, who had previously owned a gym, was the best choice.

As for the Democrat, well, he withdrew from the race before Election Day, although his name, Kevin Van Ausdal, was still on the ballot. He never stood a chance in a district which Donald Trump won by 27 points in 2016 and against an opponent whose first campaign commercial “featured her roaring across a field in a Humvee, pulling out an AR-15 rifle and blasting targets labeled ‘open borders’ and ‘socialism.’” In the ad above, note that, in case Marjorie’s assault rifle isn’t enough, her husband (I assume) has a handgun ready to pull out of his pants.

In some fairness to the voters of the 14th District, they haven’t been a district for very long. Georgia used to only have 13 districts, but its population had grown enough by the 2010 census that it was entitled to one additional district and a free tote bag. It was then left up to the state government to create the new district, which it did by gathering together a bunch of imbecilic white people and plopping them down in the northwest corner of the state, right up against Tennessee.

The point is that those fine folks had very little experience being a district, so perhaps they weren’t fully aware that they were electing someone to represent them in the U.S. Congress rather than on the condo board of the District 14 development in which Marjorie Taylor Greene had rented a unit earlier that year for the express purpose of running for Congress in the 14th District.

Before Greene was removed from her committees, in a last ditch effort to retain her appointments and appear somewhat sane, Ms. Greene expressed regret for her previous comments, saying “I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true.” What does that mean exactly? That she had to ask someone’s permission to believe all her QAnonsense and only then did she start doing it? Now, she says, she “absolutely” believes in 9/11 and school shootings.

In the end, however, she was expelled from the committees, although only 11 Republicans voted against her, which means that the other 201 Republicans in the House of Representatives think it’s perfectly okay for a  moron to be on the Education Committee. And the Democrats who voted against her are really in trouble, since Greene is on record as saying she would like to execute prominent Democrats.

And, apparently, she owns an AR-15.

See you soon.

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Entry 1038: Hello Dollies, Part II

In my last post, I wrote about cleaning out the attic in the home that was just purchased by my daughter Casey and her husband Alex.

An attic is like a mental black hole; once something gets sucked into one, it instantly ceases to exist in your mind. At least that’s what happened in the case of the previous owner of Alex and Casey’s new house. So Casey and Alex wanted to empty their new attic to make room for their junk that they would instantly forget about.

I went along to help in case they found something good.

When the intrepid attic explorers were last seen, Alex had just handed down to me two framed paintings of antique children and two large boxes, one filled with fake sand dollars, the other with real, but creepy, old dolls.

We now continue the adventure …

As a film teacher, Casey was fully aware of the homicidal doll trope. She opened the box labeled “dolls” in much the same way she might have opened one labeled “live centipedes.” Then she gingerly removed one of the presumably evil playthings and snapped a photo of it to send to the previous owner in order to find out if he wanted to pick up his tormented toys along with his somehow equally disturbing portraits and his collection of counterfeit sand currency.

Later that day he texted back that he wanted the portraits (it turns out they were of his dead wife and her brother) but that the dolls were “no longer precious to me” and that Casey could keep them. He said nothing about the beach bucks.

The phrase “precious to me” made the dolls seem even more sinister, in a Gollum sort of way. Nevertheless, a few days later, Casey and I went back to catalog the find, taking pictures, looking for manufacturers’ marks, and getting the bejesus scared out of us when it turned out a couple of the dolls had eyes that opened when you held them up.

There didn’t seem to be any theme to the collection; the dolls were of all different sizes, materials and styles. There was a ballerina, a clown, a boy (maybe a magician?) and babies with bonnets. Casey did various internet searches, but it doesn’t appear that any of the pernicious playthings have any great value, since they’re not in great condition (especially the one whose legs disintegrated when we lifted her out of the box). Not even the giant troll doll wearing what appears to be a dashiki is worth much more than 50 bucks.

But the dolls had to go somewhere. Because there was no way Casey, Alex and my granddaughter would be moving into a house with those things in it.

Of course, Casey could have simply discarded the demonic dolls along with the previous owner’s financial files from last century. But instead she decided to post them on Facebook to see if somebody wanted them for free.

“If I just throw them out, I might be cursed,” she explained.

“So this way, you’ll curse someone else?” I asked.

“Well, yeah.”

After being posted, the dolls were claimed almost instantly, and a woman came by to pick them up. She said she had a sister who liked to fix up old dolls.

She then happily took possession of the devil dolls. Or vice versa.

See you soon.

P.S. Even as I write this, there is, in our attic, Casey’s American Girl doll collection, waiting patiently to be passed down to her daughter Sydney. Presumably, they will all be moved, along with all their accessories, to Casey and Alex’s new attic, where they will replace the creepy dolls that had been residing there. Those American Girl dolls are something like 25 years old now, and it is unclear to me at what point dolls morph from being heirlooms to being horrifying.

And don’t even get me started on the hundred or so Beanie Babies we have up there. I‘d hate to wake up late one night and see them marching down our Bessler stairs.

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Entry 1037: Hello Dollies

As regular readers of this blog know, my daughter Casey, her husband Alex, and their daughter Sydney have been living with us, rather than in their apartment, since the beginning of the pandemic. This was to avoid the population density of the Bronx, which is where their apartment building is, and their building, which is where their apartment is, and their apartment, which is where they would be if they weren’t in our house. Frankly, their apartment doesn’t have enough room for Sydney and her toys, much less Sydney and her parents.

However, the population density of our house is about to be dramatically reduced because Casey, Alex and Syd will soon be moving out. That’s not because they will be vaccinated so that they will be safe in the Bronx, at least from covid. It is because they have purchased a home in Stamford CT with easy access to child care, since it is about 15 minutes from us.

Before they move in, they’re doing all the things, like painting, that are easier to do to a house before you fill it with all your stuff.

Meanwhile, they discovered that their new house was still filled with the previous owner’s stuff, or at least the attic was. So one morning, Casey and Alex announced that they were headed over there to empty the attic. I volunteered to help because Casey is seven months pregnant and also because I always read stories on the internet about people who discovered extremely valuable items while rummaging in attics or breaking through walls or digging in their backyards. Of course, there are also stories about people who, while doing the same sorts of activities, discovered dead bodies, but that was a chance I was willing to take.

When my wife and I moved to Connecticut from Westchester 10 years ago, we found lots of things we didn’t remember we owned, including boxes we had never even opened after moving from Manhattan to Westchester 25 years earlier. (Naturally, we then moved the boxes, still unopened, to Connecticut.)

So it was interesting to have the opportunity to rummage through somebody else’s stored items to discover what a total stranger thought was important enough to save but not important enough to remember. It was kind of like being on the TV show Storage Wars, but without first having to spend hundreds of dollars to buy everything in a storage room (assuming we disregard the several hundred thousand dollars Casey and Alex spent to purchase the entire storage facility).

Alex went up the rickety Bessler stairs, discovered there was no lightbulb in the fixture, and used his iPhone flashlight. He began handing things down to me. There were all the old empty electronics boxes that everyone keeps in their attic or basement figuring they’ll someday need them to pack up the electronics when they move but, by the time they move, they turn out not to need the box from the VCR they bought 30 years earlier, which became obsolete 20 years earlier and they finally threw out 10 years earlier, but kept the box.

There were also file boxes filled with, well, files. I told Casey to open one and look at the dates on the documents.

“19 … “ she began.

“Garbage,” I said. “But ask the guy if he wants to pick them up to shred them.” He didn’t, so his account numbers from last century will be available for theft when Casey and Alex eventually leave them by the curb on trash day, once they find out when trash day is.

There were two paintings up there, one of a boy and one of a girl which, for some reason, we assumed were of the previous owner and his deceased wife as children (since we knew they were childless themselves), although doing so required us to ignore the fact that, if that was the case, it meant they would not only have had to have known each other when they were children, they would have to had to have known they would someday be married (betrothed from birth?) and had someone paint their portraits to hang in their future home. I don’t know why we all jumped to that unlikely conclusion; it may have been all the attic dust getting on our brains.

Then came the big finds: one large box labeled “sand dollars” and another labeled “dolls.” The sand dollar box was, indeed, filled with sand dollars, albeit fake ones. Did the previous owner purchase dozens of fake sand dollars for a project, like creating a fake beach in the backyard? Had he made dozens of sand dollars as some sort of very specific hobby?

“I wonder what the exchange rate is?” I asked, predictably, and got a “dad joke” reaction from Casey.

The second box was, indeed, filled with dolls. Old ones. Creepy ones. The kinds of dolls that, if we were in a horror movie, would have instantly come to life and murdered us. I regretted that they were in a box rather than loose on a shelf in the attic; I would have enjoyed hearing Alex scream like a little girl when he encountered their faces staring at him in the light of his phone.

And that is the cliffhanger with which I will end this post. Tune in next time when I reveal how much the dolls were worth … and if any of them had an ax.

To be continued …

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Entry 1036: Game Over

Back in November, I did a post about how I’ve never really understood how the stock market works. But thanks to the events of this past week, I now know everything I need to know about it:

I shouldn’t be in it.

Really, that’s all I need to know. Except that, somehow, the stock market keeps screwing up my beloved New York Mets. First, it was when the old owners of the Mets lost a lot of money in the whole Bernie Madoff mess and then couldn’t sign a free agent for more than $1.98. And now, our new owner, Steve Cohen, who supposedly has enough money to buy any damn player he wants, including Joe DiMaggio in his prime (we need a centerfielder and Cohen can afford time travel), is involved in this whole GameStop fiasco.

In case you’re not aware of what’s been going on, there’s this store called GameStop. It’s been around for awhile, and its stock went public sometime in the aughts. Last year, because GameStop is a brick and mortar retail chain with locations in your nearest empty mall (probably next to the abandoned GNC) and because the pandemic forced it to close stores left and right, its stock was pretty near the aughts as well.

And then, recently, the stock began to go up. And up. And up. Until it had risen 1700 percent. To give you an idea of how much that is, when our daughter, her husband, and their daughter moved in with my wife and me at the beginning of the pandemic, that was a household population increase of only 250 percent. What happened with GameStop stock is as if 31 other people had moved in with us. In financial terms, that is called “not nearly enough bathrooms.”

But wait, there’s more. Shares of BlackBerry, the company that manufactured the cell phone you had in 2005, also rose dramatically. As did shares of AMC, the movie theater chain that, last year, had to take on a gazillion dollars in debt just to stay afloat long enough to show Godzilla vs Kong (coming in March) so that it could play in theaters to qualify for the Academy Awards.

You may be asking yourself why such obvious losers suddenly became the darlings of Wall Street. If you are, then you don’t understand this stuff any more than I do. Apparently, the answer to your dumb question is that those companies have not become the darlings of Wall Street; they’ve become the darlings of Reddit.

As I understand it (and, really, I don’t), what happened was this: a bunch of trouble makers on Reddit message boards–probably the same people who enjoyed voting for Sanjaya on Season 6 of American Idol–noticed that hedge funds were short-selling GameStop, BlackBerry, AMC, Trivago and other similar stocks. In case you don’t know what short-selling is, well, join the club. It has something to do with making money if a stock goes down. In case you don’t know what a hedge fund is, it’s (as far as I know) a bunch of guys in tailored suits who come to trim your bushes.

For one reason or another, these Reddit rabble rousers don’t like hedge funds. So they began buying those stocks in large numbers, thus driving the share price of those stocks up, thus royally screwing the hedge funds who had bet on them to go down. Not incidentally, the Reddit rebels who got in on this early made lots of money. One of them, Ben Patte of Wisconsin, said, “It’s a good opportunity to make money and stick it to the hedge funds … it’s kind of like beating them at their own game.”

Ben Patte, by the way, is a 16-year-old high school student who apparently knows this stuff way better than I do.

Anyway, these Reddit people are looking at it like David and Goliath … if, while shooting stones at the giant, David was also padding his portfolio.

Some regulators and Congressional representatives think that all of these shenanigans sound like market manipulation, which evidently is frowned upon unless you’re the one doing it. So they’re threatening to start investigations, and commissions, and whatever the hell else they like to do before ultimately doing nothing.

Now, of course, I did not and do not personally own any shares of GameStop, BlackBerry or AMC (unless they’re buried somewhere within my mutual funds). So all the machinations of the past week did not effect me, unless they somehow cause the entire market to implode.

But, as I mentioned way back in the third paragraph of this post, they may manage to affect the New York Mets. Because one of the hedge funds that got pummeled in this whole thing was Melvin Capital, which was nearly wiped out, and was spared only because of an investment from another hedge fund, Point72.

Which is owned by Steve Cohen, new owner of the Mets.

So far, it’s lost 15%. And where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

See you soon.

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Entry 1035: Party On, Dude

Frankly, I’m a bit concerned.

For the past four plus years, I’ve relied rather heavily on Donald Trump to provide fodder for this blog, and he went above and beyond to make sure there was never more than a day or two without some slapstick-like endeavor about which I could write, such as when, out of the blue and for no apparent reason, he decided to buy Greenland.

But now Donald is gone, and I’m left with a comically-impaired Joe Biden who, because of the pandemic, can’t even get close enough to a woman to give her an inappropriate back rub. So, as I said, I’m kinda worried that, without Trump, I’m …

WAIT!

Oh, this is thrilling news! I’ve just been informed that my humor hero Donald Trump has floated the idea of starting his own political party.

How great is that! I’m back in business!

Donald will have no problem recruiting folks for his party. He can start with all the people who stormed the capitol plus the felons he let out of jail during his final days in office. And reportedly, the party name under consideration is the Patriot Party, which means Donald’s off to a terrific start … in continuing to give me stuff to write about even during his post-pardon depression.

For someone who spends as much time online as he does, you’d think he’d take a moment to Google the name, which I did, and discovered that:

“The Patriot Party was an American socialist organization of the late 1960s and early 1970s that organized poor, rural whites in the Appalachian South and Pacific Northwest.”

I’m guessing that’s not the sort of heritage Donald would want for his new party. The “poor, rural white” part is okay, but not the socialist part. Also, that old Patriot Party apparently had some connection to the Black Panthers, which would definitely not be in Donald’s wheelhouse.

For someone whose family owns over one thousand trademarks (really–and at least 100 of them are in China!), you’d think he’d have an attorney (possibly his apparently pro bono lawyer Rudy Guiliani before he gets disbarred), do a simple trademark search on “Patriot Party.” But don’t worry, Donald. I did it for you (and at no charge, not that you would have paid me anyway).

The good news is that it seems as though that old Patriot Party never bothered to trademark the name. The bad news is that a Floridian named Donald Magyar did.

According to The World Trademark Review™:

“Magyar has operated a ‘Patriot Party®’ website since at least 2009. On it, he urges people to ‘join the patriot revolution’ and reject the Democratic and Republican parties.”

I Googled Donald Magyar and didn’t find much that wasn’t from the last week or so and directly related to Trump’s consideration of the name. There do seem to be a lot of Donald Magyars running around Florida, including one who died in 2011, which would explain his lack of recent activity. There is a LinkedIn page for Donald Magyar, Chairman of the Patriot Party, but that Don hasn’t posted anything in the past 90 days. (And, somewhat disconcertingly, he and I seem to share seven connections). There’s also a record of one Donald Magyar trademarking the name “Sexcess” back in 1992.*

In any case, if there is an active trademark, I’m sure Trump can buy it from its owner, although I would caution that person to get cash upfront.

There are, of course, various Patriot Party websites now popping up under all kinds of site names, and pooping out all kinds of bullshit. There’s an “official” Patriot Party website up and running, although it predates Trump’s third party “mulling” and “idea floating.” The site says that it is all about “morals, ethics and core constitutional principles,” so it obviously has nothing to do with Trump, but one of its leaders, Will Johnson of Idaho, says that Trump’s involvement definitely “would give us a boost.”

In case you want to get a head start on collecting merch, there is no shortage of Patriot Party caps and t-shirts, especially on Etsy. It also seems as though supporters have somehow settled on a lion as the party’s symbol. Given its presumptive figurehead, the lion certainly projects an appropriate amount of ferociousness and killer instinct, although it clearly invites excessive punning with the word “lyin’.”

In conclusion, I would like to thank Donald for going out of his way to keep this blog in operation. After all, I can’t only write about the stupid stuff my family does.

See you soon.

*Naturally, I then Googled “sexcess” and found a book on Amazon by Donald Magyar. It was Book 2 of his apparently self-published “Humanology®” series (available only in Kindle edition) and evidently completed over 20 years after he trademarked the term.
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