Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Not busy

Zosia Mamet
Zosia Mamet, an actor.
The Complete and Total Loser hasn't been up to much lately. In fact, he would almost describe himself as retired, even though he's not. But at 57 and with no skills, what can he do besides spend his inheritance until Social Security kicks in? Everyone says not to take it at 62, but that applies to people who work, not the Loser, who doesn't plan to live very long anyway.

On Sundays, the Loser has dinner in a diner with a friend who's in similar circumstances but is working part time. They like the waitress they usually have, who reminds the Loser of Zosia Mamet. Here, she is showing off her four-month-old nephew in this picture. Four months old. Imagine being born in 2015! The things that boy will see!
waitress and baby nephew
A waitress in a diner shows off her infant nephew.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Long days and ants

There is a five-hour, forty-one minute difference in the longest and shortest days of the year where the Complete and Total Loser lives. It seems like these summer days will never end. The Loser likes dark nights. They signal that it's time for him to stop trying to accomplish anything, which means they tell him that he can stop losing. 
Meanwhile, ants are in the Loser's upstairs bathroom. They're small and everywhere. He has poison out for them. They drink it and take it to their queen, the Loser hopes, and she'll drink it and die. The entire process takes several days.
ants drinking Terro ant poison
Ants drinking Terro ant poison, which should destroy their civilization soon.

Friday, June 19, 2015

"Where are we going?" "Swimming!"

The first lap went well and the Complete and Total Loser felt like he could swim a mile nonstop, like he had when he last swam regularly.
That was twenty-five years ago, however, and after four laps in the twenty-five yard pool the Loser had to stop and spend several minutes catching his breath. After that, he had to stop after every two laps and recover. He is that old and out of shape.
The Loser has always loved to swim. The feel of water giving support. The forced rhythm of breathing once underway. He got serious about it when he spent a few months living in Western Australia in 1989. He lived near an Olympic-size pool where for a dollar he could swim all day. It was an outdoor pool, which suited the climate around Perth. He went every day.
men's locker room
The men's locker room the Loser uses at the pool.

There’s a cliché about learning that says you can’t learn how to swim by reading a book. That’s only partially true. A book about swimming the Loser found at a library in Perth taught him that his freestyle stroke was all wrong. He modified it and began to swim faster and for longer.
His favorite form of exercise—bicycling—is out now because of the painful knee of his crippled leg. The Loser has wanted to swim for ages but, poor and unemployed, he didn’t think he’d be able to find a place to swim that he could afford. He was wrong. A local college offers lap swimming year round in the mornings for just $30 a month. It’s closed on weekends, but that’s not a problem for the Loser in his current unemployed situation.
chrissie watkins death jaws 1975
If it's been awhile, those first laps can be tiring.

The other swimmers are middle-aged, like the Loser. There are only five lanes, but so far he hasn’t had to wait for one. (He gets there by 6:30, which helps.) Swimming seems easy and it is in terms of impact and force, but after doing it the Loser realized that swimming is like lifting a light weight hundreds of times and he felt a pronounced but pleasant ache from it the next day. He still does. Today, his third, he swam six laps nonstop several times. He’ll never be the swimmer he was twenty-five years ago, but he hopes to get in some kind of shape again soon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Loser's latest obsession

The Complete and Total Loser has watched this clip more times than he wants to admit.
Bobby Banas Judy Garland Show Nitty Gritty

There's a longer version of it showing what happened before, which is that Martha Raye, Peter Lawford and Judy Garland are making fun of the then current teen culture of 1964. This comes at the end of it. The male dancer who will catch and keep your eye is Bobby Banas, who everyone's seen before in numerous movies, like West Side Story. He choreographed this to the Shirley Ellis song, The Nitty Gritty, but one of the male dancers didn't show up so
Bobby Banas Judy Garland Show Nitty Gritty
Banas had to dance it too. As you can see, he goes all out. The other dancers are fine, especially his female partner, who is great, but Banas steals it all nonetheless. 
You could write a thesis about this clip—an essay, anyway. A mild technical foul up after the intro, when the podium moves faster than anticipated makes Garland and the others stumble a little when getting off camera.
Martha Raye, Peter Lawford, Judy Garland
Martha Raye, Peter Lawford, Judy Garland get swept aside.
It's like you're watching the older generation literally get swept aside in favor of the new.

Bobby Banas Judy Garland Show Nitty Gritty

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The weaker sex

The Complete and Total Loser likes it when magazines on display have an element of social commentary like this one at his local library does at the moment. In the magazine on the right, the man, Chris Pratt, displays attributes of masculinity, while on the left is Zooey Deschanel, busty, delicate, unmuscled.
three magazines on library rack
The three magazines in the top rack have differing views.
The magazine in the middle, The Economist, is, of course, not referring to physical strength, but it's a nice juxtaposition nonetheless.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Never bored

Kids now. Never bored, always with something to do or someone to talk to. Sure, when the Complete and Total Loser was that age he might have had a comic book with him (but that's might, and no one did in a grocery store; not cool), but even with those you look up once in awhile and see what's going on around you. This boy didn't budge until it was time to leave.
boy in grocery store with smartphone
A boy plays a game on his smart phone while at a grocery store.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pushing 50

Is there an art form more ephemeral than a daily comic in a newspaper? Well, yes, but the funnies, as the Complete and Total Loser still calls them, are high on the list of things quickly forgotten. 
Then there's the occasional Peanuts strip like this one, which is nearly 50 years old, but still rings true despite its lack of social media usage.

Charlie Brown Peanuts cartoon
One of Charlie Brown's many attempts to find love with the Little Red-Haired girl.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wanda Sykes

A friend and ex-coworker bought lunch for the Complete and Total Loser earlier today as a birthday present. His birthday was two days ago. Afterward, the two shopped at a Trader Joe's near the friend's house. The music playing over the store's spearkers was by a female vocalist the Loser didn't know. 
"Wanda Sykes," the Loser's friend said.
This puzzled the Loser because he hadn't asked and he didn't think Wanda Sykes sang. 
wanda sykes
Wanda Sykes lives in Los Angeles and Media, Pa.

"Huh?" he said, always quick with an intelligent question. 
"It's Wanda Sykes," the Loser's friend said. "Over there."
The Loser followed his friend's gaze and there, indeed, was the actor and comedian Wanda Sykes, alone, pushing a grocery cart, shopping. 
The Loser likes Sykes. She stays black but funny. He looked up her Wikipedia entry and, as is true with many actors you look up, was surprised by how extensive her background is. 
Why she lives part of her time in Media, Pa., when not living in Los Angeles is beyond him. She has no doubt explained her reasons someplace but the Loser is not so crazy about her that he'll do the research to learn them.

Friday, May 15, 2015

On this day

For years, the Complete and Total Loser got via email a daily almanac page from reference.com. Called "On This Day," it listed significant events that had occurred in history, and people who had been born and died on that date. 
But no more. The Loser got this email on May 7:

Dear On This Day Subscriber,

We regret to inform you that as of May 13, 2015, the On This Day email will be shut down. For an alternative to learn about something new and exciting every day, please sign up for our other newsletters, including Word of the Day, Word of the Day Quiz, Slideshow Snapshot, and more.

Thank you for using Dictionary.com and please contact us at support@dictionary.com if you have any questions or concerns.

Kind regards,

The Dictionary.com Team 

It surprised the Loser that they pulled the plug on it. It seemed like it would have been an unchanging enough thing that they could almost set it up to be done automatically, maybe getting an intern to tweak it now and then. Their other newsletters? Screw 'em.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Loser on YouTube

youtube logo
YouTube logo.
A couple of weeks ago, the Complete and Total Loser went to a story slam in his home city. He spoke for five minutes—the allotted time—and although he was the oldest speaker of the nine others, what he said seemed to be well received. A video of his effort was posted on YouTube, as were the others'. The number of hits it has received are the lowest of them all.
The Loser, losing again. It just never stops.

Monday, May 4, 2015


  • This man's name is Ken
  • He sat at a table outside a convenience store
  • The Complete and Total Loser talked to him while waiting for a friend
  • Ken said his wife died
  • Ken said he owned three ranches in Texas and that they were going to move to one but now he won't
  • His arthritis hurts him
  • The last two Pennsylvania winters were hard
  • He'd been a broker at a large financial services company
  • The Loser's friend arrived
  • He and Ken knew each other and caught up a little
  • Later, the Loser's friend said Ken had driven the van that took people, including him, to and from the company and the train station
  • He doubted that Ken had worked there as a broker

man at outdoor table with coffee
Ken enjoys a cup of coffee.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Off the saddle

Man on Victorian era bicycle
A man rides a Victorian-era bicycle.
The Complete and Total Loser's history of bicycling for exercise may have come to a close. He rode a few times, OK, twice, some days ago and his right knee—the one on the bad leg—aches and is making him walk like the gimp that he is but tries not to be. This will be sad, if true. The Loser's happiest times are when he's on a bike, exercising, rolling down roads, breathing great lungs full of fresh air. Without it, he'll just sit around and decay, watching his heart lose its tone as he packs on fat. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The gathering

The Complete and Total Loser has an affinity for the world's nut cases because they, like the Loser, are missing a cog that makes the brain run smoothly. It's different in the Loser's case, however. In his case, he simply doesn't get it, whatever "it" is. In theirs, they don't get it, but they've replaced their gap with other beliefs. Conspiracies, UFOs, the supernatural, religion; things like that.
The Loser pictures them getting together with groups of their fellow guys (and the very occasional woman) who have different beliefs but stemming from the same source. A convention of groups who think the moon landing was faked, that fluoride in water is controlling us all, that 9/11 was an "inside job," that there are alien bodies and a vessel at Area 51, that Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim, that the Holocaust never happened, that contrails are poisoning us, or that a virtual platoon of people shot JFK could meet in a large, open forum.
ice crystals on windowpane
There's more going on here than at first appears. There has to be.

It'd be interesting to see. They'd all be standing there in little groups, all looking suspiciously at the other groups, only eating snacks that they brought there themselves because, hey, better safe than sorry, right?
Then they'd all get in their old cars (they're rarely successful enough to buy new) and hit the brakes a few times before hitting the road to make sure they haven't been tampered with. They'd drive home to their small, cramped, cluttered apartments where they live alone, like the Loser does.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spring exercise

Today, the Complete and Total Loser rode his bike for the first time in five months. He has the fat body and diminished lung capacity to show for his lack of exercise. The ride went well, even though he had to dismount on a steep hill near his house like a fat kid. 
bagged leaves
Bagged leaves await pickup on a suburban street.

More remarkable is that he did not experience the aerobic-induced déjà vu he has for the past seven years after exercising hard following an absence of doing so. 
"That's odd," the Loser thought. The odd thing really was his finding it odd that he felt normal. He's searched on the net and asked his doctor about it and come up with nothing on both counts.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

At the zoo

It is 1962 and the Complete and Total Loser is at the zoo. His father, aka "Daddy," holds the Loser, then four, over a large tortoise while the Loser's mother, aka "Mommy," takes a photograph. The Loser cries, his father stops, but one of the Loser's shoes has fallen off. His father steps over the fence and retrieves it. 
aldabra tortoise
An Aldabra tortoise munches grass on a spring day.

On Tuesday, April 7, 2015, the Loser is again at the zoo after a nearly forty-year gap. He dislikes zoos on principal, but is there with a friend and her two children, who are three and one. He sees the enclosure of tortoises. The oldest one there is named Bubba, an Aldabra tortoise (so named after the atoll from which he was kidnapped), and has been at the zoo since 1947, meaning he was there when the Loser was there with his family. Bubba was too busy eating grass to acknowledge the Loser, which he finds rude of him.