Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Saturday, November 20, 2021
"The State of Happiness is Just a Point of View..."
It was a week of in and outs. On the "in" side I did some book reviews and blogged and shelved books. On the "out" side, I finally got rid of the alarm clocks—we don't use them anymore and there's no radio station I want to wake up to any longer.

Thursday was a usual shopping day, Lidl, Publix, and Kroger in a row. And then we managed to have a little fun at Barnes & Noble. I'm having to buy "Yankee" magazine again since Nook canceled my electronic subscription. But at least the print copy came with a calendar, so I'm stocked on calendars now. James also took delivery on a sanitizer for his C-PAP machine. We are hoping this will cut down on the allergy problems he's been having for the last few months (he gets up sneezing very hard and it continues all day). I've been washing the mask and making sure there are no particulates in the tank, but this will make sure all the germs are taken care of.

Something nice did happen after B&N: Did you ever have an ordinary moment when you suddenly realized you were...just happy? I had a moment like that Thursday: we'd finished the grocery shopping, everything was put up, and we'd had lunch; James was driving us to Barnes & Noble, we were going through the back way with all the trees, it was autumn, the windows were down and it was cool, and I was exactly where I wanted to be.

And later on we had the season premiere of Star Trek: Discovery. That was a very interesting opening act before settling into a more traditional episode! Glad they didn't make the new President a snotty sort, and she was actually very knowledgeable. This was followed by the first Ready Room of the season, with Wil Wheaton on a slick-looking new set that looks like a real Trek ready room. Also watched Prodigy, and perhaps Gwyn has finally gotten the message that her father can't be trusted?

Friday we had a very small "lunch bunch" at Top Spice (Thai), and also went to Hobby Lobby. I got Patti Callahan's new book about C.S. Lewis and "where" Narnia came from, a novel called Once Upon a Wardrobe. I read it as an e-book and wanted a real copy.

Saturday we had to take Tucker to the vet. He's been biting at his tail so much it was getting irritated, so we were treating it with aloe wipes and some anti-itch medication and leaving the Thundershirt on him so he couldn't twist up and bite at his tail. What we were worried about was that his left ear was drooping more and more every day from the beginning of the week, and now it seemed to have fluid in it. So we dropped him off before nine o'clock and then had to go to Hair Day. That part at least was fun. Afterwards, not so much: James cooked up some "Plant Based" (that's the brand name) burgers that we tried. He had no problem, but whatever they put into those burgers to make them taste like meat made me very ill. I was burping it up all night. I had a nap and then indulged in Pepto Bismol and "Goren and Eames therapy."

We were instructed to come pick up Tucker at 5:30, but didn't actually get him until after six. The vet is still doing the stupid drop-off thing and we had to sit in the car for 45 minutes and twiddle our thumbs while the guy in the car next to us smoked noxious cigars. Barf.

So Tucker finally got his exam and his shots, which they had conveniently "forgotten" to do when he was there boarding in March, although we confirmed this when we dropped him off. (We're still pretty pissed about this; can you tell?) The itch on his butt is from a flea allergy, even though we haven't had any fleas, and they gave us steroids for him. (We never got his flea meds in March, either; they wouldn't give them to us because he hadn't had his exam!) The fluid in his ear is a hematoma, and they only wanted to do it if he had his teeth cleaned, too. Well, this bloody costs $1,000, which we'll have to save up for. Hopefully the hematoma will reabsorb. We have to watch it.

We didn't get home until way after dark and forewent watching the final, clip show of Call the Midwife. I was frankly disappointed by this season of Call the Midwife, except for the final episode. Every plot seemed to be "okay, this bad thing happened, but everyone was supportive and the baby was okay." Just very "by the numbers" this season, and unsatisfying. In the last episode, even though the baby was born with Down syndrome and his adoptive mother rejected him, things came out okay, and Rich Guy came through for Nonnatus House. Meh. Instead we watched more Murdoch Mysteries.

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» Saturday, November 13, 2021
An Unexpected Vacation, or Doctors' Appointments, Store-Hopping, and Crime Series Watch
If James was going to have a week's furlough, at least we could get a "sort of" vacation out of it. So I turned off all the alarms and we looked forward to a nice Monday morning of sleeping in.

Thanks, Alex, for coming to cut the grass (last cut of the season). Absolutely no thank you for showing up at 6:50 a.m. Sigh. In the meantime, James devoted Monday to giving the stovetop a good scrub.

Tuesday I did the laundry (because Wednesday was reserved for our "big exciting trip" down to Kaiser Southwood) and a couple of the chores I would have done on Sunday. Happened to catch a message that Vincent D'Onofrio was going to be on the gossip show Daily Blast Live, so we watched it this afternoon. Sure wish the hosts would shut up and let the guest talk instead of bantering amongst themselves, but this seems to be the fashion today. Miss Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, and Merv Griffin, who actually let their guests talk—what a novel idea. For the rest of the day I had my D'Onofrio/Erbe fix—mostly watched Law & Order: Criminal Intent. (I've started—early, since it was a birthday gift to myself—watching the DVD set I bought and realized the initial shows were still done in the era of pan-and-scan.)

So Wednesday we had to drive 35 miles to the Kaiser Southwood office—thankfully traffic only a problem until we got to the I-20 cutoff—to visit James' urologist. Didn't realize we hadn't seen him for over a year! Dr. Starr did a cytoscopy (sp?) on him to make sure his bladder was emptying properly (it is). Apparently his prostate is growing back slightly on one side, but has left a sizable enough gap for everything to come out properly, so it's not a problem right now. There was a bit of scar tissue from the surgery, which the doctor was able to clear. We also picked up some new "hats" so James could continue monitoring output. Dr. Starr will see us one more time in May, and then he is retiring, bless him. If anyone deserves it, he does. And then he will recommend a doctor at Glenlake, which will save us these marathons to Southlake.

We had planned to eat our anniversary dinner—did I mention Wednesday was our wedding anniversary? it's our "Baskin-Robbins anniversary," 31derful years—at the Olive Garden nearby, but, forever spooked by Atlanta traffic as always, we drove back home and ate at the Cobb Parkway location instead. I did the make-your-own-pasta (rigatoni with marinara sauce and meatballs) with a salad and James had his favorite, chicken marsala, with a "zuppa toscana" chaser, and we shared a piece of black tie mousse cake as dessert (the waiter wrote "Happy Anniversary" on the plate in chocolate fondant, which was sweet). Of course if Olive Garden's marinara sauce gets any sweeter, we're going to have to start classifying it as a dessert...

To get it out of the way, we stopped at Publix on the way home.

Thursday we had to complete James' doctor trifecta for the week. We had an appointment at Glenlake with a podiatrist in the morning, so instead of taking the freeway, we did our usual back door route through Lower Roswell and Paper Mill roads and were rewarded with gorgeous autumn color (Paper Mill is a ritzy neighborhood, so the houses are set in groves of trees, and the road itself descends to a creek bottom where the mill used to be and then back up). Glenridge Drive behind Kaiser Glenridge was beautiful as well.

We saw Dr. "Mosh" this time (he has a very long last name) and he agreed with me that Dr. Friedman's suggested method of treating the little ulcer on James left "ring toe" was not working and changed it. Now I am to put betadyne on it and he gave me some silver-infused Mepilex foam to put on top of it. He also gave us some silicone spacers to use to keep James' baby toe from rubbing the affected one.

Since it was on the way home, we stopped at Trader Joe's to (1) get a quick lunch, as we like their wraps, and (2) pick up more stuff. They had the Christmas stuff out so we got fresh "candy cane Jo-Jos" (Oreo cookie-type filled with crushed peppermint), peppermint bark, and peppermint puffs covered in dark chocolate. There is a Lidl nearby now, so we stopped there for our Lidl stuff like mandarin oranges, bakery items, etc. and found a loaf of whole wheat bread for James since Publix didn't have any. We were even able to get the two stores' worth of groceries home and put away and sit for awhile until it was time to hit the last appointment, the nephrologist, who gave James a clean bill of health.

On the way home this time we stopped at Kroger for milk and yogurt and ramen noodles.

Friday we actually had a free day, so took some stuff to Goodwill—sadly James' old desk chair was too battered for them to take—and then went to Walmart to get James new compression socks, plus what stock of sugar free hard candies they had (not much). On the way home we stopped at Popshelf to get James some Tina burritoes (their beef and bean flavor has the lowest sodium count of all the pre-made burritoes in the stores).

Saturday! Finally! The event we'd waited for for two years: Free Electronics Recycling Day! Now we could safely get rid of the damn microwave that James rapped the truck door on every time he got into the truck. And the three dead UPS units, a VCR that wouldn't even turn on anymore, a fan, various little electronic devices, my old alarm clock, RCA cables, old lamps, etc. However, they would not take the light bulbs, even the damn CFLs which are supposed to be toxic and are supposed to be disposed of properly. Made me angry.

We hadn't been to the Farmer's Market in downtown Marietta in a dog's age, so we went there next. Didn't have much money, but we bought some sweet Argentinian chorizo sausage (which we had for supper; it was delicious, but the sample we'd tasted was not so salty, or we wouldn't have bought it) and of course homemade dog biscuits for Tucker. We also brought the six preserve jars we've been saving for months on the drainboard to the guy who makes his grandmother Lillian's Hawai'ian marinade, as he recycles them to put his product in. It was crisply cold this morning, which made loading the electronic junk in the truck and walking around downtown a positive delight.

We walked around the square as well and stopped at The Corner Shop (a.k.a. the British store) and bought a Terry's dark chocolate orange, a couple of meat pies for James, some chocolate "Christmas pudding," and a Scotland sticker. Then we went into the candy store next door where they sell all sorts of hard candies and unusual candy bars and different brands and flavors of sodas, and they had four kinds of sugar free hard candies! James got sugar free Chik-O-Stiks, butterscotch candies, root beer barrels, and peanut butter bars. Finally we stopped at The Local Exchange, but they didn't have any Marietta Square stickers (ours have been burnt out by the sun), so we got back into the truck and headed for home. As a last treat for our unscheduled "vacation," we each had a doughnut at the new "Dunkin" on Powder Springs Road near where we used to live.

And thus ended the furlough, because James got the call that he was all funded up again—well, for the next six months anyhow—and back to work on Sunday. Alas, back to my having to cook dinner. But a week was a nice vacation from it.

In various other news, we are watching Star Trek: Prodigy—James likes it, I don't hate it, but I could skip it without pain—and, between out bouts with watching Murdoch Mysteries, we are dipping into the original CSI on Hulu (it's on Paramount+, too, but the commercials on Hulu are less obnoxious). William Petersen is almost as nice to look at as Vincent D'Onofrio. (Notice I said "almost" here...LOL.)

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» Sunday, November 07, 2021
Conjuration Convocation
We ended up having a really nice time at Conjuration. Again, it's highly Harry Potter oriented, but they have a very nice writer's track, and we spent a lot of time at those panels.

We were a little discombobulated Saturday morning, so did not arrive in time for an 11 a.m. panel that I was interested in; however, we discovered the schedule online was not accurate, either, and that panel wasn't being held. Alas, it also meant that the raptor demonstration we had wanted to see wasn't going to happen this weekend either. It was okay, though; we found things to do. In fact, I knew the moderator of the first panel we attended: Dr. Dea Mazingo-Gorman, who did the anthropology panels at Anachrocon. "When Magic Gets Sciency" was about customs in ancient societies that were considered "magical" back then that have a scientific basis. For instance, in ancient Egypt, worshipers of Horus wore eye makeup that identified them as members. While this eye makeup had lead in it, it also protected the Horus-worshippers from eye infections caused by bathing in the Nile due to its scientific properties. Another was Lake Avernus, which is near Pozzuoli, Italy. There are caves in the area which caused death when you entered them. Turns out the lake is the caldera of a former volcano and poisonous gas still issues into the caves. Also talked a lot about the interconnectedness of ravens and wolves, which appear in many different mythologies including Native Americans. Apparently when wolves vanished from Yellowstone, so did the ravens; when they reintroduced wolves, the ravens came back. Neat panel.

Sometimes You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover" was a fun panel about cover art past and present for fantasy novels, and how good covers can persuade you to read a book even if you don't know what it's about. But it was the next two hours that were the most fun: "Dragons, Wizards & Pens," a writing "contest" involving four writers, a moderator, and suggested words. The writers were given a word and then had to write an opening sentence for a story, and the audience voted on which was the best opening line. Half were audience suggestions and we suggested "budgie" (another suggested word was "carburetor," so I think budgie wasn't so bad!). The entries were hilarious; if laughter really is the best medicine, we had a dose of the best.

"Static Character vs. Dynamic" was a good discussion about static (characters that stay the same, like Batman or Indiana Jones) versus dynamic (characters who change). Next was our final Saturday panel, "To Tell the Truth--Or Not," in which our panel of writers had to tell a real-life story from a prompt and we had to decide if they were telling the truth or lying. They were quite clever at it.

We also cruised the dealer's room a couple of times and James bought me the updated version of Alan Siler's book Doctor Who's Greatest Hits for our anniversary (later I got Alan to autograph it), and talked to one of the authors who was on the "Dragons" panel, Barbara Evers.

Came home to scritch the budgie and walk the dog (and turn back all the clocks and the timers) and drop into bed to do it all over again. This time we were a bit more collected and arrived mostly in time for the 10 a.m. panel:
"To Trope or Not to Trope," about the tropes in stories we hated, the ones that have been done to death, and the ones that we love to have "flipped."

We didn't have anything we really wanted to see next, but stayed for an interesting discussion about being a mother in the Harry Potter universe. The three panelists were all mothers—in fact, one had to take time out occasionally to tend her little ones (looked like about two and four). I think the most difficult thing about being a wizard mom would be when the kids started to manifest magic and you would have to teach them not to!

We sat and ate our sandwiches and talked to some folks, and then went back to the panel circuit. Alan Siler did a panel about the old "Land of Oz" amusement park in North Carolina. It was very popular in the 1970s, but then closed after a fire and was abandoned. It's since been fixed up and opens two weeks out of the year, with the performers all volunteers. The woman who plays Glinda originally played Dorothy in the 1970s. Alan went there in the 1970s, when he was age seven, and then went back with the television crew of The Unseen World. A lot of marriage proposals apparently take place there because one or both people went to the park as children.

The next panel was "World Building 101," which was exactly as it sounds. Most of the authors began with characters, but a few did begin with the worlds they needed.

The last panel was called
"The Storyteller's Toolbox" and was conducted by John Adcox. He was challenging the teaching of the three-act story structure and says it's more like a four-act structure instead, and illustrated this by applying the structure of Star Wars to his four-act graphic. It made a lot of sense.

Before we left James bought me two books for my birthday, the first in an independent series about a witch and her sentient cat.

We came home and James made an easy supper of ramen noodles and Trader Joe's orange chicken. Later we watched Call the Midwife.
Is it me or has the series been kind of "by the numbers" this season? Maybe it was because of the difficulties of filming with the pandemic going around, but I'm just not feeling the love this year. Usually I cry at the end of several episodes; this year it's "okay, this bad thing happened, but everyone was supportive and the baby was okay."

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» Friday, November 05, 2021
Fresh Apples and Magical Locations
We had a good weekend despite James' toe (which is now not red and looking better although the wound appears a little larger) and the news we got on Friday afternoon.

Alas, first we had to get through the shopping on Thursday as well as getting James a blood/urine test for his nephrologist appointment next week. But that was pretty painless.

Although it was cloudy and a tad chilly on Friday, we drove up to Ellijay and had a nice day. We listened to "Travel With Rick Steves" on the way up, and once we got past Jasper we started seeing some very nice color on the trees considering Georgia doesn't always get brilliant color. We stopped at Panorama Orchards as usual for fresh apples, fruit spreads, pot pie noodles, sugar free taffy, fruit teas, goat's milk lotion, and a few other things. Then we drove another 15 minutes to Blue Ridge to go to Taste of Amish. We can't get into this store with James' power chair due to a curb, so I went in alone to buy more "soup greens" and also found Necco Wafers (James uses them for low blood sugar instead of those icky lemon tablets they give you), some smoked cheddar, and a packet of seriously delicious ginger cookies with a nice ginger bite on the "back end."

We had lunch at Shane's BBQ, and then headed home. James' right leg was getting twitchy, so we stopped at a Cracker Barrel so he could stretch his legs and use the bathroom. While I was wandering around the gift shop (if you've never been to a Cracker Barrel, it's a country style restaurant that also has a gift shop) and found an adorable Christmas/winter sweatshirt in my size with two chibi-type foxes, pine trees, and snowflakes on it. They had a couple of other shirts that I liked, including one with chickadees on blue, but none in my size. A lovely piece of serendipity.

For some years we have been recommended a small convention called "Conjuration." It started as just a Harry Potter convention, but has branched out to encompass magical media. Our friends Alice and Ken go every year. Well, this year they went to Disney World instead, but we decided we would go on Saturday.

Things changed as we drove home: James got a phone call from his boss. Once again, they forgot to renew the purchase order that pays his salary until too late. So they have no money to pay him next week. So guess what, he's on furlough until "the board" re-ups the PO.

To look at it positively, I don't have to cook next week. And now we can go to Conjuration both Saturday and Sunday.

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» Saturday, October 30, 2021
Doctors and Dinosaurs
How amazing! It seems like we wait years for October to arrive and then the whole month goes by like the wind.

Still looking for some real fall weather, but the temperature is dropping to better levels, and next week looks heavenly: nothing over 68℉! (Fifties would be better, but beggars can't be choosers, as they say.) Plus I had a first this week: cooked my first "stir-fry." It was actually pork bits in a sesame-seed sweet sauce, and it came out pretty well, especially when I did a reduction on the leftover sauce.

Thursday was our usual shopping day, and then I started uploading some of my fanfiction to This is fine for my Remember WENN fanfiction, since there's already a category for it, but there's no category for the other fic I want to put up there: my Lassie, Doctor Simon Locke, and Addie Mills stories. I contacted someone at the website and still haven't heard from anyone yet.

Friday James had two doctors' appointments. In the morning we went out to Glenlake to see his cardiologist as a followup for him being in the hospital a few months ago. That worked out fine, and he doesn't want James to have another echocardiogram as his last one was so recent. Since we were so close we went to Trader Joe's, and it was actually chilly enough for us to buy things and leave them in the back of the truck! So we got chicken sausage and pub cheese and other good things; alas, no more pumpkin bars.

There was a Mellow Mushroom nearby, so we had lunch there. Their crust is almost, almost as good as Uncle Maddio's, and I got quite full on a personal pizza and still took a slice home. Then we went next door to Half-Price books for about a half hour. I bought Jill Lepore's history of the U.S., Mike Douglas' memoirs, and The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard, plus a Blu-Ray copy of Jurassic World for only $6!

Then we got to go to Kaiser again, Cumberland this time, for James' podiatrist appointment. He was only supposed to have his nails trimmed, but the nurse didn't like the look of his "ring" toe on his left leg and got us in to see the podiatrist. He has this small ulcer on the toe and it had become a little irritated on Wednesday night, so we were glad we were seeing the doctor. He didn't like what he saw either, and gave me some collagen to put on it and says James is not to get that foot wet (so I basically got chewed out by the doctor for not treating it the way he wanted me to). He also gave him doxycycline for any infection.

I had kind of a bad night on Friday. Snowy had been acting kind of quiet when we got home, and I was worried something was wrong with him, so I spent a lot of the night crying and James a lot of the night comforting me, and of course that did a number on my lower GI. He seemed better in the morning, but I was a mess. Finally we did go out—we had to go back to Half-Price Books because the Blu-ray disk in my Jurassic World combo pack was actually a copy of Jurassic Park. There was a new Lidl two stores down and I went in and found eggs for James and some pork chops for dinner. We also had lunch at Panera, but that was a dead disappointment. I haven't been to Panera for a couple of years, and I don't know what the hell they've done to their chicken soup, but it's dreadful now: tastes like a can of Progresso!!! I ate half, enough to dispose of the nice big piece of French bread they gave me and some of the noodles, and James dipped his bread in it and ate the rest of the noodles, and we left some of the soup. Ugh.

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» Saturday, October 23, 2021
Saturday on the Sofa With Vincent

It was a quiet week, thankfully.

Spent most of the work week not doing much except the usual chores on Sunday and refining and revising my story. Thursday was the usual shopping day, and we filled it up with not only the usual Lidl/Publix/Kroger run, but we also went to Sam's Club because we were looking for their multipack of Dial soap. Alas, like Costco, they have abandoned having real soap to have endless supplies of moisturizing soaps. Apparently Dove has a corner on the warehouse market, to our extreme disgust. To make up for it, we stopped at Bernhard's bakery on the way home and bought Florentine cookies for me and a German chocolate cake square and a gingerbread cookie for James.

Friday we had a nice day: had lunch at Oy! (a breakfast/lunch place) with Alice, Ken, and Aubrey. They were all a-chatter with plans for their upcoming trip to Disney World. After we were done, James and I had to pick up meds at Kaiser, then went to do something fun: stopped at Barnes & Noble and then at Hobby Lobby.

Saturday James had his annual IPMS modeling contest and left the house not soon after breakfast. I had plans for the day and, after doing the vacuuming and unloading and loading the dishwasher, sat down to have a nice Vincent D'Onofrio film festival for the afternoon. I watched his half-hour drama "Five Minutes, Mr. Welles" (about Orson Welles' mercurial behavior while filming the classic film The Third Man), plus two films. Sherlock: A Case of Evil is a meh TV movie involving a younger Sherlock trying to recover his reputation after he supposedly kills Professor Moriarty, but then the dastardly professor "rises from the dead" and makes his reputation suspect. Then Moriarty kidnaps him and gets him hooked on drugs until he's rescued. Notable for an interesting take on Dr. Watson, but Sherlock himself is kinda dull, and the only lively scenes are D'Onofrio chewing scenery quite well as Moriarty, and the ending where the two have a swordfight in the tower where Big Ben is hung (ala Disney's Great Mouse Detective). Much better was a charming little rom-com from around 2000 called Happy Accidents. It's about twenty minutes too long, but Marisa Tomei is adorable as the girl who keeps picking loser boyfriends (to the point she's seeing a therapist about it) and D'Onofrio is delightfully goofy as a guy named Sam Deed that she meets who eventually confesses to her that he's from the future (2478, to be exact). You really don't know if Sam is just a kook or if the story he's telling is true until the very end.

I can see I'm going to have to check out Mystic Pizza, even though I'm not a big Julia Roberts fan.

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» Saturday, October 16, 2021
Bejacketed, Trimmed, and Reworded
A considerably more low-key week and weekend than last, but also very profitable. The big news (for me, anyway) is that I finished a piece of writing I started a couple of weeks back. This is the first bit of fanfic I've worked on since my Dan Palmer story in 2015; it's been a long dry spell and one that's left me depressed even if I hadn't let on it was happening. Now I have to go back and put all the details into it; I hadn't written any fiction at all in so long that I figured I'd just better get the bones down first and do the rest later. I know I'll be tweaking this one for weeks to get the voices just right.
(Plus I finally reviewed my September books, which is a relief.)

Still having strange gastric upsets every so often; this iteration seems to be since I got the third vaccine. Alas, my digestion has been troublesome for over twenty years; I doubt it's going to get any better as I get older.

Besides the usual weekly things (chores on Sunday, shopping on Thursday) we had a stop at the shopping center out on Dallas Highway that has Petco and Sprouts because Snowy was almost out of birdseed. Found the budgie enclosure full of a dozen baby budgies, some with head tucked under wing, a couple playing, several looking askance at this vertical living thing with the horizontal covering over the head. These days every time I go past the budgies, I always pray that each will find a loving home with someone who cares for them and understands they are little "bird persons" and not just toys to be stuck in a corner.

Saturday was Hair Day—we had to skip last month because Sheri had badly injured her ankle—and James finally looks neatly bewhiskered again, rather than looking like a refugee from Duck Dynasty. I trimmed the hair on his neck and around his ears a couple of weeks earlier (before Jessie's wedding), but I really don't have Sheri's chops in hair cutting. From there we drove up to Town Center to the DXL store because James needed a decent winter jacket; his old plaid with the hood, which he likes best, even over the "Rhode Island-weight" winter coat we got him in 2005, was on its last legs, as I had mended and patched it where it got mangled in front by one of the clasps on his koala bag. Since I am not a seamstress by any means and this involved patching plaid, it didn't look very good any longer, even if it did keep him warm. We found a very nice black jacket with a hood and a quilted interior for $90; as a plus it is also water-resistant, which the old jacket wasn't, so he has a good raincoat as well.

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» Saturday, October 09, 2021
Over Roads and Undercover
The rest of the week was not quite as solemn, and even a little fun. Thursday, of course, it was shopping, and then James had his six-months visit to the dermatologist. She froze off two little moles on his left earlobe, but otherwise gave him a clear bill of health. Unfortunately we should have popped in the pharmacy and picked up a new box of Ferrex. Now we're going to have to pop in at a Kaiser facility sometime in the two weeks he doesn't have an appointment just to get Ferrex. Bother. (Don't suggest online. Everyone is five dollars a box more than Kaiser.)

And Friday it finally happened! The first time in two years there has been a library book sale! Report is here. Later in the day we went to Kaiser's TownPark facility and got our COVID-19 booster.

On Saturday we spent the afternoon at Monsterama/Spycon, a combined horror/spy convention put together by Anthony Taylor and others. James and I are not big horror fans, so basically we were there for the conversation and the spy panels. We saw Louis Robinson for the first time in ages, and stopped to talk to local author Bobby Nash in the dealer's room. James bought one of his books, an old-fashioned pulp-type aviation adventure. Sue Phillips was also there, and when we took a break to get something to eat in the con suite (since the hotel restaurant didn't do any lunch specials like last time) we sat together and got to talk (although mostly eat since we were pretty hungry by that time!).

Our first panel was a little disappointing. It was supposed to be about spy cars in different movies and television, but we just talked about the Lotus Enspire (sp?) car used in a James Bond movie. The presenter had a Lotus car which he mocked up to look like the Lotus in the film, and also the "submarine" version of the car which he also owned. (He also has a killer Jaguar convertible, all three which were out front. I'm not into sports cars per se—the only car with a place in my heart is still Twilight—but the Jag looks like it would be fun to drive.)

We then went to a panel about doing research—which, of course I get off on, because doing research on something you're interested in is fun!—and did have to laugh about them talking about doing research on murders and making some really dicey records in their browsers!

Other panels were one about the music of spy music in films and television series. Again, much Bond orienting, but then the James Bond theme by now is iconic. And how you can't hear the Get Smart theme without thinking of that corridor with the doors! And how no one is writing great theme songs for television anymore because of the need to shove more commercials in, and lots and lots about the classic composers like Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, Lalo Schifrin, and more. And one other panel that was a "spy fight" of television spies versus movie spies done like a Fantasy Football competition. Black Widow won eventually.

Our favorite panel was the spy trivia. I did well on some historical stuff, fictional stuff, and a couple of others, and started out well out of the gate, but James pulled ahead with more technical stuff. Also playing were two other guys, Kevin and Lee. We had a great time and the moderators, including a woman (Bernadette Johnson) who wrote a book of spy trivia, were absolutely great. I hope they do another panel like this next year; it's been years since we played trivia at Rockford's on Saturday nights, and I do miss it!* We all got prizes: James and I both chose the book, of course!

James said wistfully as we were leaving that that was what we had really missed: just talking to people with like interests. I really wish I'd checked the calendar when we made the vaccine appointments, or we could have come on Friday, too, but by the time we fought our way through traffic up to TownPark (it was might have thought the entire city was being evacuated) and then gotten the shot itself (mine began hurting immediately), neither of us were in any shape to go anywhere. And of course we couldn't go tomorrow because James works. Maybe next year...

* We'd get to trivia early and everyone would end up meeting at Media Play in the same shopping center. I remember when Jake and Nancy showed up with a Cyberhome DVD player and told us you could make it region-free. We had three of them eventually! We loved when Matt showed up because we had our movie expert for the night!

(Plus I have never had anything that was as good as Rockford's Asian salad—with grilled chicken strips in it—and haven't found an Asian salad dressing yet that was as good as theirs.)

On the drive home—Rockford's was way out past Stone Mountain—in summer, it was usually cool enough to ride with the windows down and we'd have the Sixties channel on SiriusXM playing Cousin Brucie...those were the days!

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» Monday, October 04, 2021
Betty Louise Bouler, 1947-2021
Betty's funeral took place today. James got up and worked ninety minutes so there would be sure to be coverage in the early timeslot. We then left to go to the service at the West Cobb Funeral Home. This was held in the adjoining chapel, and a box of tissues was passed from pew to pew as it was a lovely service, and Betty's husband, John, and our friend Juanita especially made us cry as they spoke. Juanita was so overcome John went to stand behind her and put a hand on her shoulder to steady her.

Next followed the funeral procession. We had been lined up outside before we went in for the service, and now we proceeded north with a police escort. It was fascinating watching the different police cars do their work to keep the line together: the Cobb County Police doing the overall procession, but the different community police handing off as we rolled through different neighborhoods, Sandy Springs, Woodstock, Holly Springs. It was like watching sheepdogs work. One car would stop to hold traffic and the second would race ahead to the next spot where coverage would be needed, and the community police blocked exits so the procession would not be interrupted. Despite that, at least three people cut into the procession; two of them stayed in the procession for several miles. One of them even put on his flashers like he was part of it all! The third was the most blatant: the neighborhood police had blocked one of the entrances to the freeway and this dork in a big SUV went around the police car and tried to get into the procession! We could see the folks at the end of the procession blocking him from getting in, and then a police car herded him to the side of the road, then let him go on as we got past.

Betty, who was a military veteran (Air Force), had her ashes laid to rest in the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton. The cemetery is nestled in the middle of rolling hills and from the entrance you can see the North Georgia mountains in the distance. The first stop for our little procession, after an hour of driving, was at a restroom facility where we could all have a little relief and discuss the dork in the SUV. Then military honors were accorded to her at the little outdoor chapel area near the columbarium where her ashes would be stored. There was a beautiful flag ceremony that made most of us cry and then huddle around in groups to exchange hugs.

Finally a few of us went to Chili's for lunch. I can't say I'm anywhere more pleased with Chili's than on the last occasion that I was there, but at least the music was lower! I remember the last time we were at a Chili's the music was so loud we had to shout to be able to talk to whomever was next to us. But it was the only place Alice could find that would let us sit together, and that was really the most important part, being together.

We got home about four and James worked for the rest of the day until seven.

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» Saturday, October 02, 2021
All This and October, Too
It was a...well, rather buggy week. Literally. Both James and I had been seeing little roaches feet up periodically in the kitchen (and we were glad they were dead!), so it was providentially we had the quarterly extermination service in on Monday because when I went into the kitchen that morning there was yet another roach on its back, feebly waving its legs. Squish! You're dead!

Evidently one still was hiding out in the house because it ran skittering underneath my bedding on Friday morning, which definitely made me not want to sleep in any longer and instead wigged me out enough to make me change the bed on what was a very busy day already and a fat pain in the neck to juggle. I also gave the dog a bath on Tuesday and washed all his bedding, which made it a triple-threat week.

So, yeah, we did the usual route for Thursday grocery shopping: Lidl, Publix, and finally Kroger, but we did it all in an hour, and it was so nicely cool for a change that we ate a hasty lunch and then went out again: drove out to Trader Joe's as well, so we could stock up on fruit bars and also get some of their yummy orange chicken for supper. Glad to drive "through the back" up Lower Roswell Road and see trees starting to turn, even if just minimally! Goldenrod is everywhere.

Between the bedding tradeoff on Friday, we had a nice lunch at O'Charley's with Alice and Ken, Mel and Phyllis, and John Bouler, and then had to go see James' rheumatologist at Kaiser. He says James' right hand has developed "knots" in the tendons and has referred him to a hand specialist. So now he has that to look forward to. 😩

James spent the rest of Friday afternoon cooking while I wrestled with the bed, so that on Saturday we could run a couple of errands. I wanted to get more of a good type of LED light bulb I'd found at Home Depot, then we skipped to Hallmark to buy a special card and also found a Christmas gift for someone. Dipped in Barnes & Noble for a few minutes, and by then it was after two and James was starting to get a little light-headed from not yet eating lunch. So he stopped at Lidl and I ran in for a cookie for the bakery for him and some chicken that was thawed that we could have for supper. Instead I emerged with sweet Italian sausage and a big bag of grapes that we both enjoyed. Later James cooked something we'd found at Trader Joe's, butternut squash cut as crinkle fry shapes, in the air fryer. They were a little overdone, but still tasted delicious as a side with the sausage. If we do that again, James should knock them out of the park!

I'm happy for October to be here! Just wish it would get a little cooler. Looks like we are going to get a barrelful of rain next week.

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» Sunday, September 26, 2021
Hurrah! It's Fall! and Other Delights
The autumn equinox arrived this week to great cheering by the folks here at Autumn Hollow. Now only if it would feel like autumn—although we did have to wear flannel shirts Thursday morning to drive with the windows down on the way to Costco. But by the time we got to Costco (ten minutes) it was too warm for them. (We were also windows down a couple of other times, one early morning, one nighttime return trip. But it's not enough!)

I have been attempting to go on my longer walks again after just surrendering due to the heat and my inability to get outside before 10:30 in the morning (blame needing sleep and that extra trip to the bathroom), and have come upon a large patch of "Scotch" thistles among the weeds that grow along Smyrna-Powder Springs Road (these combined with goldenrod, pin oak, timothy, Virginia creeper, honeysuckle, holly, and others). They were in great purple bloom a few weeks ago, attracting yellow swallowtail butterflies, silver spot skippers [a type of butterfly], and big fat bumblebees, but now they are starting to go to seed, and two days in a row, sans camera, I ran into a beautiful male goldfinch who let me get into six feet of him. Third time's the charm and I finally got a photo of him.

Went out to walk the dog Wednesday night and discovered abruptly that sometime today they changed out all the streetlights. I think they are those new lights that only aim at the street and don't glow upward, and so don't interfere with migrating birds. It's a weird effect; they make what they're shining on brighter, but the light doesn't extend as much, so our front yard is now darker. There's also a rather large dark area near the upper cul-de-sac because all the lights appear to have two light fixtures except the one on the cul-de-sac itself.

We hit Costco Thursday morning because Procter & Gamble was doing their "buy $100 worth of stuff, get a $25 gift card" thing again. Since we can easily spend that much buying Swiffer pads, Oral B toothbrushes, Metamucil, and Downy, we went for it, plus we needed "plastic cheese" (Kraft cheese slices) as James calls it, and both BreatheRights and generic Flonase were on sale...needed almonds for my oatmeal and mandarin orange cups as well. It is so nice when it's not broiling outside and we don't have to rush into one store, dump perishable items in a insulated bag with an icepack, rush to the next store, etc. We were able to drive to Publix in a leisurely fashion and finish most of the rest of the shopping (although I still had to go to Kroger on Saturday morning for milk, yogurt, and no-salt-added mushrooms).

Friday we did a little of everything: paid our property tax, picked up a gift, had lunch at Okinawa with all the Spiveys and John Bouler, drove down to Kaiser so James could have blood drawn for what the doctor says is a minor problem, and then went to Barnes & Noble. James bought a book and I didn't, which seems ironic, but I'd already gotten three in the mail this week: a used copy of Madeleine L'Engle short stories (The Moment of Tenderness), a used copy of Hal Borland's Book of Twelve Moons (nature essays), and the new Vanderbeekers novel.

We also bought a new gadget that is three plugs that are operated by one remote. Since I was depressingly unsuccessful in trying to set up a "smart home" system to turn on the lights through Amazon wifi plugs and Amazon Echo devices—two of the wifi plugs worked flawlessly for a month and then quit working; I contacted Amazon and they walked me through all sorts of remedies that didn't work for one and they finally told me to send the plug back for repair, but when I tried to set up a third plug I had bought, brand new out of the box, it wouldn't work either. They supposedly work on the 2.4GHz portion of the router, and I tried resetting the 2.4GHz, which reset perfectly and everything else that worked on them, like the Roku box and James' Kindle, worked perfectly. Then we ended up resetting the router anyway, and the plug still didn't work. We have to press a remote button instead of doing a voice command, but it works!

So Saturday I did the Kroger thing and James had to cook meat and breakfasts for the rest of the week, and we broke up the time with original Law & Order episodes on WE. I've become so besotted with
Law & Order: Criminal Intent that I am reading fanfiction, most of it of the "shipping" sort, but I appreciate that the stories that I really have enjoyed have chosen to actually have a mystery plot among the romance. One story has Mike Logan down so pat I can hear Chris Noth doing the dialog. Unfortunately I think that was the one that got to part eighteen and then never was finished—and, darn, I wanted to know the solution to the mystery!

This week I also worked out a way to get all the videos I've saved on YouTube to show up in the YouTube app on Roku. I have so much saved that the idea of re-bookmarking them gave me the horrors. It's a great big dog's breakfast worth of stuff: old British black and white films, 1930s black and white films, the Old Indiana Jones segments they cut out of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles DVD sets, an uncut version of the 1960s animated The Night Before Christmas with Olan Soulé as the voice of Professor Clement Moore, Lucy Worsley specials, Lassie episodes, and more.

Today I got all my weekly chores done and there was still time to go to Alice and Ken's house after James finished work to celebrate Aubrey's 28th birthday.

September 22 was the Autumnal Equinox! All hail Queen Autumn and her colorful court! (Now for cryin' out loud, do something about that big bully the Sun!)

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» Saturday, September 18, 2021
Blessed Quiet and Video Success
This week was quiet, for which I was glad. Seems it's all I can do to keep the insatiable dishwasher empty. 😀

Even the weekend was quiet. We had a nice Friday lunch with Alice, Ken, and John Bouler at Shane's BBQ. James had a good visit with his GP. On Saturday James went to his club meeting and I made a new Remember WENN web page—I haven't created a web page since I did one on Kate Seredy—with "WENN sounds" because someone on the Facebook page had asked if anyone had Celia's "Hi-hi!" sound. That was fun.

Sadly, although it was the Saturday "Taste of Smyrna" was supposed to take place, it did not. Not due to Covid-19, but because the restaurants don't have enough help to do the event. So no "drunken pork" from Atkins Park for me.

Something fun did happen, though. I have some old videos of when we used to do fundraising for Georgia Public Television that I want to digitize. I found out you could do it through the VLC media program, but attempts to do so didn't work: the sound would drop out after about 45 seconds. I tried all sorts of settings, but the video would be bad, or no video at all, or the sound would be unsynched. Finally a friend suggested something called Shutter Encoder. This worked beautifully and I was able to "rip" on of the videos and post it on Facebook. Very nostalgic and a little sad to see friends "way back then," including a couple no longer with us, like Amy Rutledge and Chris White.

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» Sunday, September 12, 2021
The Future, the Present, and the Dream
If last weekend was a partial letdown, this week had something to sweeten the pot, especially on Sunday, although the time period came with a rather puzzling event as well on Wednesday: it was "Star Trek Day" and Paramount+ was running a special program saluting all the different series, hosted by Wil Wheaton [Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation] and Mika Burton, LeVar Burton's daughter. They had a live orchestra playing different Trek themes, interviews with current and past casts, and other goodies. The only irritating thing was listening to the two young ladies who were keeping up with social media updates, apparently as a sop to the younger people in the audience. Boring twaddle for the most part.
However, I started feeling ill in the middle of the program and was sick on and off for the rest of the night (bathroom visits, chills). Still don't know what happened. It couldn't possibly have been the Cup of Soup and crackers I had for supper. And it shouldn't have been dinner.

All very strange and I was better by morning. We had intended to go to the Yellow Daisy Festival on Thursday, but what with me being ill and James not sleeping (he discovered only in the morning that he'd forgotten to take his pills before bed), instead we did the usual shopping: to Lidl, Publix, and Kroger. And it was cool enough that we could drive there with the windows down (a condition that changed in the short time we were in Lidl). We also picked up our dry cleaning for Sunday and cash, then instead headed for Stone Mountain on Friday morning.

It was nice to get back to the Yellow Daisy Festival after two years, but they had some COVID procedures in place for this year I really hated (as did others, judging by their Facebook page). The booths for the festival are always laid out on the park trails, under the trees, wandering occasionally into small sun-dappled clearings, but mostly shaded, so you get a nice walk in the woods with the smell of trees and pine straw and coming autumn, and get a browse at each of the tents as lagniappe. For this year they had all the booths out in the parking lot and in the street in the front of the area where the trails are. Luckily it wasn't really hot out, but the sun reflecting off the tops of the white tents hurt my eyes and what heat there was made me feel ill. Most of the craft booths I stumbled by in the parking lot were for jewelry and other wearables; it got a little better as we did the street, where there was a bit of shade and a small breeze.

Some of our favorite vendors were not there as well: Meadowcroft Farms were not there, nor were Smack Your Mama barbecue sauce, both of which had items we needed. One Screw Loose, the jelly place which makes a cherry jam that James absolutely loves, was supposed to be there, but was not at their booth. Didn't see the guy who made home-made jump ropes, nor the maple syrup people from Vermont, nor the man who makes doormats from old tires, nor the guy with the porch hammocks, and many of the clothing vendors (but that was okay because we don't need cute little clothes for our grandchildren). Sadly, none of the music vendors show up any longer; I miss getting unique Christmas music played on equally unique instruments like hammered dulcimer and harp. Zampir did show up, so we got more maple-flavored barbecue sauce; we got our yearly fudge at Ginny's Fudge and Nuts; we bought a bottle of maple syrup aged in a bourbon bottle; and as always I bought a few things from the Country Pick'ns people from Kansas who make the little miniatures that go in shadow boxes. I was the most worried about them during the pandemic, as they have no online presence at all, not even e-mail. But the couple was there doing business briskly as ever, for which I was glad. I'll use the things I bought for two gifts.

By the time two and a bit hours were over, we were both over-sunned, and didn't want to cross the hot field to get to the food vendors. Instead we headed home via Golden Corral near the old North DeKalb Mall. The food was just mediocre and we probably shouldn't have eaten there, as there was a terrible smell as you walked in, as if they kept the garbage up front. (Neither of us got sick, thankfully.) North DeKalb Mall, which I knew originally as Market Square when I first moved to Atlanta, looks terribly sad. All the anchor stores are gone except for a Macy's, and apparently the mall itself is closed except for something like two stores you can access from the outside. When I lived in Brookhaven in the late 1980s, Market Square was hopping, with several anchor stores, a bookstore called "Cole's," a Woolco, a PharMor that for a year or two was a Lechmere (before that went out of business), and our favorite store of all, the Aviarium, where we adopted both Merlin and Bandit. They raised their budgies right in the front window of the store, so that the baby birds heard human voices from birth, and both Merlin and Bandit were so easy to tame because of it. I had Merlin sitting on my finger within a week.

Saturday was pleasant and calm, at least for me. We went to Costco for gasoline and then had lunch at Chicken Salad Chick. Alas, back to work when we got home, washing things, vacuuming, and other chores for me, and making breakfasts for himself for James. He was quite worn out when he finished after hours of chopping veg and cooking it in with ground turkey and TVP. This time he used biscuit dough to make himself little meat pies out of it.

It was Sunday that was best: James worked until one, I did some of my Sunday chores, then we had some dinner, and finally it was time for us to attend a wedding! We have known the bride since she was a tiny premature baby, the daughter of our friend Juanita. I first met Juanita at a Space: 1999 convention in 1979 and James has also known her for ages. Her daughter Jessica has been going with her boyfriend John for some years now, they'd already bought a house together, and Sunday evening they "tied the knot" in happy fashion. The bride wore a beautiful full skirted, frothy white gown and gazed up at her future husband with a look that made me cry, the groom and groomsmen wore wizards' cloaks, and the bridesmaids were in purple or green gowns (Jessie's best friend Aubrey, daughter of Juanita's best friend Alice, looked lovely in a sea green gown). We sat at a table with the Lawsons, the Lucyshyns, and Clair Kiernan, were alternately in tears and smiles throughout the ceremony and the toasts, noshed on prime rib and chicken thighs, and just had a great time. We left reluctantly to get home in time for me to walk the dog and then it was time for bed. But what a wonderful evening!
All happiness and health, joy and wonder to Jessie and John!

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» Tuesday, September 07, 2021
...And We Didn't Go to DragonCon
We did start prepping for it. I have the 100-calorie packs, the goldfish crackers, the Lance cracker packs, etc. all carefully stacked on a shelf in the laundry room. (Never did find juice boxes!) We talked about it. We had friends that intended to go, and these were the most sensible of our friends. They weren't the type that took unnecessary risks. Nevertheless, we were riding on the edge of that fence for most of the summer. James didn't even ask for Sunday and Monday off, I never reserved parking spaces. The news about the hospitals being overwhelmed by the Delta variant of COVID was daunting. But we were still considering it.
When Betty passed away it was the last straw. She and John had just gone away for a weekend, and I know both of them were also sensible. They probably took precautions. And they were both vaccinated. And they both got sick. And Betty died.
At this point James had already decided not to go, but oh, I was still thinking... We do have to get up early for DragonCon. I hate getting up early anymore (even though I'll have to do it for the Yellow Daisy Festival...and the Georgia Apple Festival). I don't feel any kind of refreshed unless I get up around 8:30. And you can't do that going to DragonCon. It has to be up early (at 6:30 on Friday because of registration and the traffic, and 7 a.m. other days if you have a panel at ten and you don't want to gulp your breakfast).
But, as I admitted to someone, not going felt horrible. I felt like an superannuated firehorse who'd been put out to pasture, but still heard the ringing of the fire bell from the field, and oh, how I wanted to jump the fence and go to the fire, too!
And I could still do it, if I wanted: get up at seven, grab some breakfast here to save money, take the car downtown (surely the garages weren't full). But I ended up not doing it because...well, as James and I were talking about: there are always alternate futures, and there was a future in which we both went to DragonCon and nothing happened. But there was also a future where we went and he got sick despite the mask and the lowered crowds, because of his co-morbidities. Or one future where I got sick, and then who would take care of his leg? Or a future where we both got sick...and who would be there for Tucker and Snowy?

I could cry all I wanted all weekend about DragonCon (and I did, in odd corners), but nothing would be worse than how I would feel if something happened to James if I encouraged him to go or if the fids got neglected if we came down with the hellish thing.

My wish about this past weekend is that in two or three weeks we can look at the posts on Facebook and realize no one we love got sick...not Alice and Ken, nor Aubrey, not all my friends at Brittrack, and that we were too cautious. Because that's so much better than the alternative.

The Brittrack folks did do some virtual panels, including one on Agatha Christie and one on early Doctor Who, which were fun, and they did have the DragonCon parade on YouTube. Meanwhile, to make up for things, James took us up to Canton on Friday so we could have some decent pizza at Uncle Maddio's—that poor guy up there is still running the whole place alone since February—and go to Books-a-Million (bought Untamed, about a woman who is protecting the wildlife on Cumberland Island, and The Women's Hour, about the suffrage movement, the latter from the bargain books). It's sad when Books-a-Million has more books than most of the local Barnes & Nobles! We sacked out when we got home and watched Law & Order reruns. Saturday we took our clothes to the cleaner to prep for Jessie and John's wedding, and had dinner for James' birthday at Longhorn. I found a beaut of a gift for him from Hamilton Books: all about British aviation films.

Sunday I put up more fall decor and Monday got to see the Sunday morning Christopher Eccleston interview from DragonCon that someone posted on YouTube. (If I'd gotten to see him, it would have meant I would have seen all the available Doctors live...Hartnell having passed on and Jodie Whittaker being unavailable.) Otherwise I've been mainlining Law & Order: Criminal Intent episodes in the afternoon from Peacock (and reading fanfic as well), starting from the beginning. Not sure I can stand the eps where they start playing with Goren's head, though. God, how I hated all those Hawaii Five-0 episodes where a member of the cast got tortured! But, gawd, it's fun watching Vincent D'Onofrio play "Detective Twitchy," as James calls him. It's an art form.

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