Thursday, January 22, 2015

Old money

When he was cashiering, the Complete and Total Loser sometimes came across old coins and bills. He used to collect coins, so he has some idea of what to look for. Bills are different. Even old and uncommon ones aren't worth much unless they're in mint condition, and even then coins are a better bet. 
The Loser has about $5 in wheat pennies, which is worth maybe $6, and about $80 in old bills, which is worth maybe $90. 
This one dollar bill is a year older than the Loser. It's a silver certificate, meaning it was readily exchangeable for silver. Technically, all bills were then as quarters and dimes were made of silver. 
When the Loser was a kid, age nine or so, a friend told him that with such a bill he could go to any bank and "demand that they give you silver." The Loser and his friend liked that they could do that, walk into a bank with a special bill and tell a bank teller—an adult—what to do. It wasn't true as by that time the U.S. had gone off the silver standard (a decision under President Johnson many still bemoan) but boys need their fantasies.
one dollar silver certificate 1957

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Anything for money but that

Skepticism is funny. More of it often comes with age, and people who've been around for awhile can detect scams and bad reasoning with greater ease than the young. At times, their skepticism increases as if with momentum and many stop believing anything. Then there are others believe too much and eagerly forward email with crackpot ideas about microwave ovens and untrue stories about heroic dogs and cats. 
Some people used to believe everything and then stop believing anything. The opposite is also true.
The Complete and Total Loser, who used to believe everything (ESP, astrology, acupuncture, reincarnation, levitation, UFOs) thinks he may be in a sweet spot now, in his mid 50s. He doesn't fall for much and he investigates anything that sounds even slightly suspicious. 
craigslist employment ad
That doesn't apply to this Craigslist employment ad: One look at it and you know that whoever signs up for it is in for nothing but trouble. Late payment if any, offices that are impossible to reach, likely because they're located in another country. And consider the premise: A company asking you to lie. 
This ad shows you why you can't trust reviews you read on the Internet.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Strange job

pornography at workLast week, the Complete and Total Loser applied for a job that entails writing synopses of adult films for a website. He applied just to see if he'd hear back (he didn't), not sure whether he'd take it anyway. 
The company has a real office in the Loser's home city, and pays half decently, has benefits and a 401k plan, but really, what would he say to relatives at family gatherings when they asked what he was up to these days? 
It occurred to the Loser later that it would be surreal to have a job where you'd get in trouble for not looking at pornography at work.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A favorite cartoon

The daily newspaper in Complete and Total Loser's home city runs the Peanuts strip daily. When the Loser was a child in the '60s, he read the strips and howled with laughter. Now he reads them and—they're still pretty good. 
Peanuts Charlie Brown Lucy

He doesn't laugh much at anything now, but if he did, some of the Peanuts strips would be what he laughs at.
Charles Schultz had an enviable career.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A dog

For three weeks this February, the Complete and Total Loser will take care of his sister-in-law's dog, a corgi, while she and her daughter visit New Zealand to celebrate her recent graduation from college. 
The Loser has never had a pet, though he's taken care of a few. Sixteen years ago, he took care of an acquaintance's cat while he was housesitting for his traveling parents in the suburbs.
The cat had a fully developed personality. When you said its name, it answered you. It talked like a person would, except in its own language, of course. It was like the elderly Chinese people the Loser met in remote villages when living in China in the mid '80s, people who would chatter away to the Loser because they had no concept of people not speaking their language. 
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
This isn't the dog the Loser will take care of but it looks just like her.

One August evening, the Loser let the cat, which lived in the city, outdoors to explore and hunt. It wasn't the first time, but it would be the last. There were weeks of posting signs, calling shelters, making grim drives on local roads looking for a small body. It never showed up, and the Loser was certain it had been killed, though he doesn't usually give feelings and hunches real weight.
He lied to owner, telling her it had escaped and that he was profusely sorry. She accepted this, though she was sad. 
The cat was ten years old at the time, meaning it would have been dead for at least half a decade by now, but when the Loser thinks about it he feels as sharp a pang of sorrow and guilt as he did at the time. 
Since then, he has made it his policy not to have pets or people in his life.
The dog might be fun for a few weeks, but there's no way in hell it's setting an unleashed foot outside. No goddam way. Not even once.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Every group has assholes in it

Every group has a percentage of assholes in it. Babies, nuns, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, men, women, men and women, complete and total losers ...
Je Suis Charlie

Some groups have a higher percentage of assholes in them than other groups, and the assholes in some groups feel the need to inflict their assholeness on people who tell them they're assholes. 
Those are the assholes to look out for.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Last night

As old as he is, the Complete and Total Loser's heart is still immature enough that on New Year's Eve he thinks he might get a phone call from someone just after midnight who wishes him well. 
Bye Bye Birdie

Those were nice calls, when a new year meant only positive changes were ahead. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The economic forecast for 2015

Every economic forecast the Complete and Total Loser has heard for 2015 is that the American economy will do very well. 
All the experts are saying this.
That can mean only one thing:
Chinatown Philadelphia

Friday, December 26, 2014

A phone call

Usually, when the caller ID doesn't have the name of a specific person the Complete and Total Loser knows, he lets it go to voice mail, if it gets that far, and the call he got this afternoon said SOUTH CAROLINA, so he planned to do that. Why would a state call the Loser, right?
But he picked it up.
man on curb
The Loser's father in the Southwest, though why and exactly when he was there are a mystery to all.

The caller was an elderly man who used to work with the Loser's father in the early 1950s and lived in Philadelphia's western suburbs, where the Loser's family lived and still do. Except for his father and mother, who died two months apart three years ago.
The caller, whose name is Ed, had fallen out of touch. The Loser, who lives in his late parents' house (hence the call to the number, which has been the same since 1955) broke the bad news to Ed. 
Later, thinking about it, the Loser realized that Ed's age and the fact that he calls infrequently could have enabled the Loser to say his father and mother were alive, happy and well and now in St. Bart's, where they vacationed in winter for several years, and where they had no phone. 
It would have meant that Ed had to hear about one less friend from the old days dying, presaging his own death, and been a kind thing to do. On the other hand, there's the outside chance that Ed secretly hated the Loser's father and was calling with hope that he'd outlived him. That doesn't seem likely, however.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Very Loser Christmas

Last night, aka Christmas Eve, the Complete and Total Loser went to a Chinese restaurant with a friend. The two had wanted to go to a large and popular place but it was so crowded (Jews) that they went to a smaller place down the road. They got there around 6:15. As their meal progressed, they noticed that there was just one person working in the restaurant, a woman, and two cooks in the kitchen. Call outs,
fortune cookie fortune
This is the fortune the Loser's fortune cookie had on Christmas Eve. Honest.
apparently. An hour later, when they were ready to go, it had gotten busier and over a dozen diners were waiting to be seated. They saw a table of other diners bus their own table, so they did the same, and a couple of other tables around them, cleaning them off and setting them with paper place mats with the Asian zodiac on them, napkins, forks, spoons and water glasses. A family that had four teenage girls with them really took to the task and did several more tables. They paid by just leaving the money where the waitress would find it , and massively over tipped. The food was good, after all.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Short Day

It is the winter solstice, the day with the fewest hours and minutes of sunlight and the official start of winter. People call it the "shortest day of the year," but it has the same number of hours as any other. Despite all the electric lights, we still define a day's length by its span of daylight.
tree constructin site

Monday, December 15, 2014

Talking to himself

Today is the Complete and Total Loser's father's third deathday which, as the Loser wrote to a friend, is like a birthday but the complete opposite. 
Tom Brokaw
Tom Brokaw

An unrelated note (he thinks) is that the Loser, who talks to himself constantly as he has always lived alone and wants to hear the sound of a human voice sometimes, is talking to himself today with the voice of former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw. 
You will have more birthdays than deathdays, but as celebrating birthdays makes little sense after you're dead, your deathdays will out weigh them over time.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

More books

Paul Newman readingThe Complete and Total Loser is reading more these days. He can get good books for just dollars at the used book store in his library's basement, which he feels OK about doing because even though he likes to support writers, he has been out of work since July. Books he can't buy, he can always take out, of course.
The Loser likes his library. The building was made in the 60s and is swoopy and modern. Half a dozen years ago, they wanted to move to a space in an industrial park nearby and demolish the building, which leaks every time it rains heavily. (In fact, at the moment access to the stacks is restricted thanks to an autumn snowstorm.)
topless girls reading

The Loser's late father and others protested this plan. They were among the many retirees who go to the library often and sit and read newspapers and magazines, meet others their age to chat with, take out books now and then, and in general get out of the house. Their protest was successful and the library will stay where it is. For now.
Back to the Loser's reading. The more he reads, the easier it gets. He doesn't go for reading for entertainment. He likes good books, the kind you can quote, and books like that aren't necessarily dull. Honest. Watch, he'll open the last book he finished, The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes, and find something worth sharing in no time. Ready? Here goes ... 
OK, it's been three minutes and here's what I found without looking too hard:

I remember a period in late adolescence when my mind would make itself drunk with images of adventurousness. This is how it will be when I grow up. I shall go there, do this, discover that, love her, and then her and her and her. I shall live as people in novels live and have lived. Which ones I was not sure, only that passion and danger, ecstasy and despair (but then more ecstasy) would be in attendance. However ... who said that thing about "the littleness of life that art exaggerates"? There was a moment in my late twenties when I admitted that my adventurousness had long since petered out. I would never do those things adolescence had dreamt about. Instead, I mowed my lawn, I took holidays, I had my life.
standing woman reading

The Loser wants to get good enough at reading to make it as if he's watching a good movie or TV show. Think of all the money he'd save!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dear American blacks

I'm sorry to see so many of you angry about recent events in Missouri and New York, and you could include Cleveland in that, too. I don't like it either, and I'm a white man who never has had trouble with the police and has been robbed at gunpoint by blacks. (I hope you don't mind, by the way, that I say "black" instead of "African American." I think it's as stupid as whites calling themselves European Americans when they've never even been there, and almost no whites do.)
As bad as I find these events, you won't see me on the streets carrying signs. Part of this is just me. I plan to make it through life without ever shouting "Hey hey! Ho ho! This thing I think is bad has got to go!"
But another reason is—and this may be hard for many of you younger ones to understand me on—O.J. Simpson. 
Nichole Simpson

O.J. Simpson murdered his wife, Nichole Brown Simpson, and a man she was friends with named Ronald Lyle Goldman, on June 12, 1994. He used a knife and slit her throat. Everybody knew O.J. did it within a few days, but he got a trial and smart lawyers played the race card (I believe that trial popularized that phrase). He was acquitted October 3, 1995. On that day, blacks literally danced in the streets, jumping up and down, shouting "We won! We won!" 
That's right. A man got away with the cold-blooded murder of a woman and a young man, both unarmed, and thousands of blacks thought that was just great.
O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson is now in prison serving time for unrelated charges.

Because of this, don't expect every white person you meet to have much sympathy when things go bad with a twitchy police officer. You can't have it both ways, you know.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

On Craigslist Rants and Raves today

Craigslist Rants and Raves ... the anonymous forum for angry, racist, misogynistic men. It's usually a look at the dark side and is little used thanks to more effective social networking platforms. The Complete and Total Loser was surprised to find the following exchange today.

The original post:

I'm so excited (my world)
siamese fighting fish

Hi cl world
I'm a 62yr lonely old man who's retired and on a fixed income.
I'm so excited that soon I will be getting a fish. A betta also known as a Chinese fighting fish. For the last several months I been getting things together, I've gotten a nice size fish bowl for it, and different colored marbles for the bottom. I even got a fake plant and rock with a hole in it for him to swim thru.
It's taken a while to get it all together but I'm getting close and getting excited, I'm pretty sure it's going to be happy in its new home.
I only need a few more things until I actually buy the fish. There very pretty and come in many colors.
I'm thinking of naming it Bobby, because that's a unisex name and I won't know if it's a male or female.
Yep Bobby the betta, cant wait ( :
If anyone has a better name, I'd like to hear from you.
Have a wonderful day everyone and remember to be kind to your pets

The Complete and Total Loser's post about it:

siamese fighting fishI think you may be someone just joking around (they're actually Siamese fighting fish, not Chinese, so I wonder if you're really getting one), but if not, fish are a good choice for pets. They're inexpensive compared to a dog or a cat, and if you go away for a day or even a weekend, you don't need to worry about their care. If you haven't had a fish recently, be sure to read up on how to take care of the water. I see these fish in pet stores in very small containers waiting to be taken home. The store near me stocks lots of them, so I guess they're pretty popular these days.
Another good thing about fish is that ultimately, they're fish. Something people eat all the time. While it's never pleasant when any pet dies, it's easier to take when it's a fish.
It would be good to put it someplace where you look at it while sitting. That has been shown to lower blood pressure.
For a truly unisex name, how about Chris or Pat? Also, the males are more brightly colored and have longer fins than females, so they can be sexed.
May you and your fish thrive for many years. 

The original poster responds to the Loser:
Yes I am for real, I haven't rescued Bobby from one of those cruel little shot glasses they are kept in at the pet store yet . He's going to have a nice roomy bowl when he arrives, unfortunately it probably won't be for a couple of weeks yet. I have to take two busses to go get him and I want it to be a nice and warm day when he finally comes home . I haveddone my homework and decided on a little fish because I am sometimes gone for long hours, 12, 14, sometimes even 16 hours and that would be totally unfair to do that to a dog, which I also like and plan on getting one day. But not until I don't have any place to go and he can go everywhere I go. ( :
And no I will NOT being fighting Bobby. I will be posting pictures in the soon future of Bobby and his happy home for everyone to see. Thanks everyone and remember to be kind to your pets

Another response:

siamese fighting fish

Ok dude, your post has inspired me! I think I want to get a fish now too!! I used to have a beta when I was a young kid but being all irresponsible it ended up dying. I think I'm going to get one as well. Beta "fighting fish" are very beautiful and elegant, you've made a wise choice sir. Perhaps in time we can become good friends and have fish fighting championships! I'm not opposed to putting a little money on the table too! Perhaps we can find a dark alley or basement and have huge fish fights, we can invite a bunch of Asians because we know they have money and love to gamble. I'm not sure if fish fights are illegal or not but we'll build the biggest fish fighting circuit on the east coast. I'm going to start my aquarium this weekend and if I'm lucky I'll be able to score some performance enhancing drugs for my fish. I'll train that little bastard every day!!! He'll be so badass he can take down a piranha or even an Oscar. Yea man this is gonna be great, thanks for the idea!!
Nah, for real though, it's a nice idea and I think I want a nice aquarium with some fisheez swimming around. Thanks for the idea man✌️

Another response:
Aw, I am so happy that you are excited about your new fishy friend. I think that Bobby is a very cool name.
I am a huge animal lover who has had many pets through the years: Dogs, cats (a lot of cats), gerbils, a super smart parakeet that I was crazy about (and vice versa), turtles, an amazing bunny rabbit who thought she was a dog, gerbils, etc.

But one of my all time favorite pets was my goldfish, Beau, who lived to be 10. I got him and his brother, Sparky, for 10 cents each at a pet shop where they were being sold as piranha food. It's a very long, story that I could write a book about.

These two guys grew to enormous lengths; they were the best of buds; and they had personality to spare. Beau, who was absolutely beautiful, thought he was a dog. He would come to the top of the tank, stick his little head out and let people pet him. I would walk back and forth in front of his tank, and he would follow me. I would pull up a chair next to his tank and talk to him. The guy would come to the side of the tank and look up at me, and just listen. When he died, I grieved for him for months.

Anyone who says that fish are boring pets that don't have personalities doesn't know what they are talking about. They are great pets, that offer unconditional love and companionship.

So enjoy your new fishy buddy, my friend. May you have many happy years together.