Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Old pictures

Nearly three years after his parents' deaths, the Complete and Total Loser is still in the early stages of going through their things. 
Photos are a primary item. The Loser remembers hearing that the first thing most would grab from their burning house—the safety of other family members and pets already assured—would be photo albums. He heard this in the pre-internet era. Now it may not even be laptops or hard drives, as many have things in the cloud.
The Loser found the below with some of his father's things. He vaguely recalls his father saying something about his father having a friend who traveled to Africa and brought back pictures. This photo would have been taken around 1910. Possibly, the woman in it had no idea what cameras were for. And possibly, the baby is Barack Obama's grandfather. You never know. 
topless African native woman

Monday, September 15, 2014

Second capture

Raccoons are different, though it's not like the Complete and Total Loser has much experience with wild animals. The one he caught earlier this morning and released in a park far away hours later didn't react the way the Loser would if he were a captured animal. 
For all the raccoon knew, it was going to be killed in some horrible way. If it caught a frog, for example, it may bite off a hind leg first. Then an arm. Meanwhile the frog's alive to see this. The Loser doesn't approve of eating meat and eats little of it himself, but at least when most humans kill animals for food they try to make its death quick of not entirely painless.
If the Loser were in this trap, he'd snarl and spit at his captor. This raccoon, however, like its friend captured late last week, just looked sad. 
The Loser let it go in the same spot as the first in the hopes that the two will find each other and live out their raccoon lives in a peaceful wilderness.
raccoon havahart trap
A raccoon in a Havahart trap.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mr. and Mrs. Sprat

Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.
And so between them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean.
thin man fat woman

Friday, September 12, 2014

Swirls

There are times when events seem to happen back-to-back with greater speed than chance would predict. At those times, many try to assign order. Most look to the paranormal. Others, conspiracies that verge on paranoia. 
The Complete and Total Loser takes the events in and sees them all as random happenings in a large universe. 
Last night, while watching an old British comedy (The Good Life) he hadn't seen since the early '80s, he heard a forgotten line that was a favorite of a woman the Loser was close to: "Don't trip over the mountains. Don't trip over the mountains". He hadn't thought of that line since she talked about it in the late 80s. It surprised him to remember it all these years later. The woman died in '02.
George G. Miller
Mr. Miller
This morning, the Loser found that his trap finally worked and he caught the very smart raccoon that's been living in his attic. He released it in a nice place, but still feels a little bad about it. The animal looked depressed and embarrassed. When he opened the trap's door, it ran faster than the Loser thought a raccoon could run.
Reading the paper when he got home, he found the obituary of a favorite high school English teacher. If you've ever read a decent sentence by the Loser, thank Mr. Miller.
trapped raccoon

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Old snow globe

The Complete and Total Loser bought this snow globe in 1973 while in New York City with a friend. The twin towers of the World Trade Center were completed in April of that year and, as everyone knows, destroyed in an attack by Saudi Arabian terrorists on this date in 2001.
In this 40-year-old snow globe, they remain standing.
world trade center snow globe
The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Today's old Loser

guillotine
This is someone else in a photo from the 1930s
What's making the Complete and Total Loser feel old today is this item from the daily almanac he gets online:
On this date in 1977, Hamida Djandoubi, a Tunisian immigrant and a convicted murderer, became the last person in France executed with the guillotine. 
Imagine, a country like France, civilized Europeans who make good movies and went halfsies on a supersonic passenger plane, cutting a guy's head off as if it were the 18th century. Granted, he had raped, tortured and murdered his 21-year-old girlfriend and was well deserving of severe punishment. But still.
Hamida Djandoubi
Hamida Djandoubi

At the time, the Loser was in his first year of college, taking courses that would never lead to a decent job that he liked. Really, they might as well have cut his head off. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Joan Rivers was funny

At one time, she was but another struggling entertainer trying to make it in a crazy business that a tiny number of people do successfully. This picture is of her at age 35, in her first film role. The movie was "The Swimmer." It was based on a short story by John Cheever and starred Burt Lancaster. Rivers was only in it for a minute or so.
"joan rivers" "the swimmer" movie "John Cheever"

Some of her jokes:

After lovemaking do you: A) go to sleep? B) light a cigarette? or C) return to the front of the bus?

If I found her floating in my pool, I'd punish my dog.

I have no sex appeal; if my husband didn't toss and turn, we'd never have had the kid.

You know you're getting old when work is a lot less fun and fun is a lot more work.

A child can be taught not to do certain things, such as touch a hot stove, pull lamps of of tables, and wake Mommy before noon.

I once dated a guy so dumb he could not count to 21 unless he was naked.

Never be afraid to laugh at yourself. After all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

ISIL and the Loser

The Complete and Total Loser put himself through graduate school to be a journalist and worked as one for five years before failing miserably at it, as he has in everything else in life. 
Hearing the news today that another journalist was murdered by the idiotic savages purporting to have a god on their side, however, the Loser can't help but think that if he'd been successful, it could have been him.
(By the way, have you noticed that it's freelancers getting killed? That's because they're paid so little that they have to take risks journalists employed by large news organizations don't. You don't see any of the big name people really getting out there. They phone it in from air-conditioned bureaus, shower regularly, and eat in restaurants. Cowards. 
The Loser's respect and sympathy go to the family of Steven J. Sotloff, as well as to the man himself.)
"Steven J. Sotloff" ISIS murder victim
Steven J. Sotloff, about to be murdered by a complete and total asshole.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Godmother

The Complete and Total Loser bumped into his godmother the other day while shopping at a supermarket he doesn't usually go to. 
A lovely woman, she was a childhood friend of the Loser's mother, who died nearly three years ago after some years of decrepitude. The Loser's godmother is as lively as ever at 82, clear-eyed, energetic, optimistic and fun. It surprises the Loser when he meets people like this; he tends to define people that age in terms of his mother.
His mother's friends sometimes had pasts the Loser never heard about until they died. The woman pictured, for
Woman who rode Seabisuit, the race horse.
This woman rode Seabiscuit when she was a girl.
example. Here, she's on a New Jersey beach (Avalon) in 1963 or so. Another longtime friend of the Loser's mother, he always liked her and was friends in childhood with her son. The Loser attended her funeral a decade ago and read in a handout that among other interesting things she had done, she had, as a child, frequently ridden a retired racehorse. That racehorse was Seabiscuit.

Seabiscuit the race horse.
Seabiscuit.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Too thin?

The Complete and Total Loser had coffee with a young ex-coworker today. The two hadn't seen each other for a little over a week. She said he looked too thin.
He is not. His face is thinning with age and his muscles are deteriorating now that he's in the second half of his fifties, but the Loser gets on his scale often and knows that his weight is what it's been for years: Ten pounds heavier than it should be.
He is, however, taking good care of himself as he always does when he's unemployed. He exercises regularly, eats very little meat of any kind—smoothies for breakfast, salads for dinner all summer—and hasn't had any alcohol for a month now. He sleeps a lot, probably too much. But he's healthy.
Woman shopping for healthy food.
Seventy percent of Americans are overweight. Seventy percent! Go where good produce is being sold and you'll see a higher percentage of thin, healthy people.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Shutting up

Last week, while the Complete and Total Loser's car was in the repair shop getting minor damage repaired, the Loser went three days and seven hours without saying a single word to anyone. No phone calls, no "Thanks" to cashiers. Nothing. He spoke to the koi in the little pond in the backyard, but that doesn't count. Even if they were sentient, they wouldn't be able to hear him. 
The only thing that troubles the Loser about this is that it doesn't trouble him in the least, and he knows that's unnatural.
People dining outside in Philadelphia.
People yakkity yak a streak and waste your time of day
But Mister Ed will never speak unless he has something to say.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Loser of the Week 8/17-8/23

The Loser of the Week Award this week goes to anyone who believes things like the below, which is from Yahoo!'s site. It's a list of the old saws about drinking coffee, volunteering, and having great sex with a few current things tossed in, like not sitting too long. 
Are you going to listen to someone who misspells "benefiting"?

1. Run for five minutes a day. That’s it. Just five minutes. In a large study of 55,137 adults, runners lived, on average, three years longer than non-runners. The benefits were the same no matter how long, far, frequently or fast participants reported running: Those who ran less than an hour per week have the same mortality benefits compared to runners who ran more than three hours per week.

2. Drink coffee. An April 2014 review in the British Journal of Nutrition looked at 20 studies covering nearly 974,000 people. The overall findings came out in favor of java: Drinking coffee—especially three or more cups a day—was associated with lower risk of death by any cause. And now we know that if you do not have headaches, abnormal heartbeats, anxiety, or gastric upset from a cup of coffee, you are “genetically a fast metabolizer.” Fast metabolizers get all benefits from coffee, while slow metabolizers get all side effects.

3. Take responsibility. Research from the 1970s shows that it’s never too late to take responsibility for your own health and well-being. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that nursing home residents who took on responsibility—for instance, caring for a plant or choosing the flick for movie night—lived longer than those who relied on staff to make their decisions for them.

4. Volunteer. It’s estimated that 27 percent of Americans volunteer—and they may get back as much as they give. A review of multiple studies found that people who volunteer have a 20 percent reduction in mortality, plus lower levels of depression, higher life satisfaction and generally enhanced well-being. The researchers determined that the quality of life enhancements hinged on volunteers feeling like they’re benefitting emotionally from the work.

5. Have great sex. Duke University research spanning 25 years found that one of the most significant predictors of longevity for women was how much they enjoyed sex over the course of their lives. That, along with high health satisfaction and good physical function, helped add 23 years to women’s lives, on average.

6. Look on the not-so-bright side sometimes. A positive attitude is a powerful tool in your wellness arsenal, but so is a little healthy pessimism. People who are more realistic—that is, less idealistic—about their lives are more cautious, more prepared for difficulty and they tend to live longer than their optimistic peers.

7. Stand up! In a May 2014 study, researchers analyzed data from the Canada Fitness Survey and found that, for people who don’t exercise regularly, more time spent standing was linked with lower mortality from cardiovascular disease and death from “other causes” in a linear fashion. In other words, more standing, less dying.

Chinatown Philadelphia
There are people all over the world, especially in Asia, who sit for eighteen hours a day meditating and live long, healthy lives.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Loser origins

The Complete and Total Loser is at last going through old stuff in the house, thanks to being laid off last month and having no real prospects. Ninety-nine percent of what he's finding about himself is depressing. Things like evaluations by high school teachers (the Loser graduated in 1977) that say things like, "[The Loser] shows promise, but unfortunately seems unwilling to do the preparation needed to truly master the subject matter." 
Yep. That's him all right.
More disheartening is direct evidence of what the Loser himself did, like the picture below. The Loser took it on a rainy day in June of 1975. He didn't know the girl or boy in the picture. Creepy? You bet. Why did he take it? The first answer is simple perversion; the Loser was a creep even then. The more complicated answer is that the Loser knew no girls then and wouldn't for another two years, when he went to a coed college. His classmates, all boys. His teachers, all men. His brothers, all ... 
Somehow, when the Loser took pictures like this (this is not the only one but the only one he didn't throw away years ago) he felt like he was included, even if for just 1/125 of a second.
Couple, Upper Darby, 1975.


The Loser remembers this day, incidentally. He was in a blue Maverick driven by his childhood friend who rarely did much together by this time but were still neighbors. The two had gone to a small hospital to donate a pint of blood (or plasma, if the type weren't a match) to a girl neither had met who had Aplastic anemia. Many high school kids were doing the same as the girl was popular and from a locally prominent family. When the Loser and his friend got in the elevator to go the third floor, a doctor rushed in. The Loser's friend pushed the button for the third floor. The doctor tried to stop him but it was too late. Later that day, the Loser learned that the girl had died that afternoon. She was sixteen years old. Given the size of the hospital and the timing, it was probable that the doctor was hurrying to her bedside.

The Loser never found out if the blood went to the girl in her dying moments or to someone else.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Surprised?

The Complete and Total Loser hasn't had any alcohol for over two weeks now. He is eating lots of fruit and vegetables, not eating bread or sweets, avoids chips and other salty snacks, not eating meat, sleeping well and exercising regularly. 
If it weren't for not having a job, family or anyone in his life who cared about him as he grows old, his life would be pretty good.
Salt shaker

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Loser on the Beach

This is the Complete and Total Loser on a beach in Avalon, New Jersey. The year was 1965 and the Loser cast is from the second of the four leg surgeries he had because of a rare bone disease only complete and total losers get. He doesn't remember being on the beach then and getting sand in a cast must have been a bitch. It's nice that his parents took him to the shore despite his condition.
Boys on beach, Avalon, NJ
The Loser is perhaps hoping that the tide is going out.