Fish gone mad

So when our ancient loach died, half a foot long, some piscene balance of terror was upset, apparently, and the zebra danios went mad and ate the neon tetras and glass catfish and two of their own kind. There are three fish left in the tank, all of them zebra danios, all chasing each other madly throughout the underwater plants like crazy little cannibals. Soon, there will be two. Then one. At that point I will flush the murderous little survivor down the toilet and restock our tank with more sociable fish. We have had this tank for over twenty years and the two preceding it now for another ten or fifteen, a continuous aquarium for nearly all our thirty seven years of marriage. Once in the eighties we inadvertently bought a fish infected with ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) and all the fish died but one platy, and for a year we had just the one platy as it slowly recovered, till we began adding other fish, cheap little neon tetras I’m sure, a couple at a time. No one got sick and eventually the tank was full of life again, and the platy lived several healthy years, even graduating to the next larger tank. That was probably thirty years ago. All has been fishfully peaceful since, the occupants remarkably long lived, until now. I watch the zebra danios in their mad dashes. They never stop. Even by a danio’s hyperkinetic standards this is frenzied. I had noticed that the nightly feeding wasn’t getting them as excited as it did just a couple weeks ago. But why would it? They crave flesh.


A zebra danio thinking of murder.

A billion tiny cryogenic Bricks

Speaking of Badlands National Park, the last time we drove through there I reached into the back seat for another can of Diet Dr. Pepper. Couldn’t get at it so I lifted up the little ice chest and put it on my lap. Sideways. A gallon of ice water poured onto my lap. I gasped a deeply profound gasp as my testicles froze solid into a billion tiny cryogenic Bricks. I could have fathered a city the size of Philadelphia. Instead, I turned off the air conditioner. We stopped at Wall Drugs afterward. She went looking for the animatronic dinosaur. I stood beside the car and let the hot Dakota wind blow through my pants.

The badlands, by the way, were stunning, mindblowing, primordial. Layers of history pressed into colors and layered like a cake, then carved into slow madness.

Labyrinthine maze of emoluments

Labyrinthine maze of emoluments. I looked up at the TV at that one. Lawrence Tribe. Harvard. They talk like that at Harvard, words like labyrinthine mazes of emoluments. It spilled out of him like melted butter on scrod. I tried to say it. Stumbled. Tried again. Hurt myself. It’s going to be a rough four years.


Just missed the thrill of another collision with Angelyne’s hot pink Corvette last night. Just off Sunset Blvd. She stomped a hot pink pump down on the brake too quick, though. We doglegged around her. She froze, freaked, platinum wig, pink ribbon, bright red lips in a silent scream. Dude, I yelled, we almost nailed Angelyne! I know, he said. Pretty cool, I said, we nearly splattered her hot pink ‘vette. That is pretty cool he said and kept driving. I thought to myself how my last run in with Angelyne was her cutting me off on Melrose, and me slamming on the brakes and saying to my wife wow, we nearly ran into Angelyne’s pink corvette. Pretty cool, she said…. That was a few years ago. What goes around comes around I guess.



Fifteen years ago, I worked for about thirty or so people, from executives on down, and I handled all their expense reports and purchases and you name it. I was so good at it that I was one of the employees that others would come to when they were stumped trying to figure out how to expense something. Executives from outside my department would come and ask for help. That was at Disney and I knew my shit. I was also, for a year or two, the one man purchasing department for Disney Online, when it was a start up. Millions of dollars of purchases went through me, I drew up the purchase orders, I figured out to set up the accounting for each, I got them approved. I remember setting up a database on Access to keep track of them. A schedule on Project. I had that purchasing down, too. Later, I was told by accounting that I processed more accounts payable invoices than the rest of the Walt Disney Internet Group put together. Tens of millions of dollars every couple months. That is in addition to all those expense reports and getting purchase orders processed–though I was no longer the purchasing department. There were several people by then doing what I had once done. I was a master of details and process and numbers.

This occurred to me a couple nights ago as I stared at our bank account and tried to figure out if we had enough cash on hand to cover rent. (We did.) I couldn’t remember what charges were outstanding. I couldn’t remember what we had paid or not. I had definitely forgotten to pay the DWP, I knew that, as they were threatening to shut us off. Time Warner Cable too. All these numbers swimming, these things I have no ability to calculate or schedule or understand. An infinitesimal fraction of what I was once a master of at Disney. It’s all beyond me now.

Losing your executive functions is a bitch. Abilities just disappear. Things everyone can do I can no longer do. Basic human being things. Those neurons burned away a long time ago. My temporal lobe, where all these things lie, is a beat up mess. A life time of small seizures, thousands of them, have done their damage. It’s like someone reached into the hard drive of the computer I’m writing on and 0-949uj1/’p23fh13wcde’p9dcalkjaZXA. Just like that.

A couple days ago was our wedding anniversary. The day before I was looking up at the digital sign above the bus driver, charmed, and it said November 28. November 28? Oh wow, November 29th is our anniversary. I said that aloud. She said yes it is and smiled. I said I had completely forgotten. I had never forgotten before. Not even almost forgotten. I always remembered. She smiled again. That’s OK, she said, we’ll have a nice dinner. You live with a husband long enough and you can see that his brain has been zapped away, and that he forgets things, but he means well.

I had never forgotten our anniversary before. I wondered what else I was forgetting. What else I would forget. And I sat there, as the bus lurched along, with the cold hollow suspicion that I was not going to able to take care of us by myself much longer.


(This is also posted on


My Yahoo email account has degenerated into a mass of depressing political headlines and frantic press releases for bands I have never heard of. In the middle of all this, gleaming like a very cheap rhinestone, is news that Norms is open on Thanksgiving. Better than Dennys, I suppose. An ad a few years ago that Dennys was open on Christmas sent me into a spiral of despair alleviated only by binge watching the Hallmark Channel. An entire alternate universe of bad Christmas movies. Happy ending after happy ending after happy ending, plus no one ever gets naked on the Hallmark Channel. You notice things like that after a week. By then I was sick to death of Christmas and it wasn’t even Thanksgiving. I brought this up to the waitress at Norms as she served my turkey dinner. A lovely thing, she asked me if I wanted more coffee. I made a joke. She sighed loudly. I fell madly in love with her and tipped too much. Two weeks later this story wound up as a plot on the Hallmark Channel. Either I plagiarized it or it plagiarized me. Digital multiverses. No matter how stupid a post I write, it is reality in another space and time.

Fortunately, we are having Thanksgiving at home this year.

Answering machine


Back in the 80’s we had one of those answering machines that used ordinary cassettes. I was quite the archivist then and of course saved them. There’s three. I just listened to side A of the first tape. Appears to be 1988-89. I must have been deleting messages as I went along and saving the good ones. If you were hanging with us then you’re on there. Wild times, man, and a lot of smart asses. Some of this stuff is hysterically funny. And damn, there were a lot of shows back then. Also sounds like we threw a party or two. No more than one a week, anyway. I’ll have to listen to all three tapes eventually, but it’s a little overwhelming to relive your life of a third of a century ago. I cannot believe that we’re still hanging with almost everyone on there. It’s amazing how lifelong friendships are. Especially considering who those friends are. Sheesh. No wonder I never got rich. Well, one of them did. Must be a jillionaire. The one we all lost touch with. He knew better. He and his dinosaurs.