Saturday, June 27, 2009


Summer is here, and that means only one thing around the old hen house: Time to battle the bugs.

• First up: Roaches.

These crap-colored creatures love to brag about how cool their exoskeletons are (“You know, we were the inspiration for both ‘Alien’ and ‘Predator’ ” they always boast), and only appear in our garage when the weather gets very hot.

As I’ve learned through my years of extermination research, it’s difficult to just step on these suckers. They have billions of sensors (I think IBM made them) that respond to any change in the air current. So, they can actually feel your shoe or newspaper approaching.

And I swear that more than once, I have smashed a roach, gone to the kitchen for a paper towel, and returned to find the roach gone! Not even a chalk outline remaining.

I’ve tried everything : spraying, boric acid, roach motels, flame throwers. Nothing.

Finally, one evening I noticed these brown demons milling about in the street near our driveway. They were coming from under the manhole cover!

After several hours feeling nauseous while pondering the word “manhole,” I realized that these little scurrying shits were crawling out of the sewer, into my garage, and then into the house.

The solution was as obvious as Rush Limbaugh’s drug habit: Plug up the manhole-cover holes, and the mothereffers can’t get out.

This discovery worked like a charm. This discovery was similar to Jonas Salk’s cure for polio, but my breakthrough was infinitely more important. Think about it: We all have bugs, but how many of us have polio?

The problem is, the holes are still plugged up, and the vile vermin are rearing their annoying antenna yet again.

Latest solution: Glue traps. Works pretty good, but you need to find only the dumbest roaches to walk into them.

• Second contender: Flies.

No solution for this. I’ve tried bug zappers, but guess what? They only work at night, and we’re eating outside during daylight.

I’ve also tried those plastic bags that you fill with water. These work great—if you want to have your backyard smell like rotten chicken livers. But you’ll still have flies.

• Public Enemy #3: Ants.

These are actually the easiest to get rid of. The solution: Get some of those diaphragm crystals, and pour them out where the ants gather for their little ant hootenannies.

Ants are so stupid, that they’ll see the crystals and think “Ooh, food! Yummy! Let’s take it back to impress the Queen and share it with all the workers! What’s the worst that can happen? And then we can all watch ‘Gossip Girl.’ ”

The real question about ants is: Why do they appear?

Some say when it’s really hot outside, the ants are looking for water. OK, fair enough.

But then when it gets very rainy, the ants are supposedly looking for dry areas.

Well, which is it, ants? Take a stand!

Here’s the bottom line: Thank the Lord above for chickens. They eat bugs. What more could you want from an animal, I ask you.

Friday, June 26, 2009


It think it’s official: I am too old for rock concerts.

You see, I turned 53 on Wednesday, and just returned tonight, disappointed, from seeing the band Wilco at the Wiltern Theater.

It’s not Wilco’s fault. They are great musicians. I have all their CDs and DVDs and can’t wait for their new release on June 30.

They really make some incredible music that ranges from folk rock, to progressive, to alternative country, to sonic experimentation.

So it’s not them. It’s two things: the sound quality and the hassle.

The hassle (you know, buying the tickets, paying a fortune for parking, dealing with crowds and traffic) is really not that big a deal for me. I figure it’s just part of the price of going out. If the hassle kept me from doing stuff, then I would really be old.

The main problem, then, is the sound quality. It was incredibly muddy and distorted. Now whose fault is this? The band’s? The theater’s? My ears? Dick Cheney’s?

As I was listening to this awful audio, all I could think about was how much better their stuff sounds on CD. It’s not that the band can’t play; it’s just that the CD sound is so refined and clear, anything less is a letdown.

I guess I’m now at the point that I would rather buy a CD and/or a DVD of a live performance than go to the concert. In fact, I did exactly that recently instead of buying tickets for this year’s Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison, and Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood concerts.

And you know what? The DVDs were far less expensive, the sound quality is outstanding, I can see everything perfectly, and they only cost about $20 bucks each. And I can watch or listen to them over and over again.

Yeah, I know that I’ll be missing out on the “communal experience” of being in an audience. But go ask the Manson family and the Branch Davidians about communes. I have a feeling they would take a pass next time.

When it comes to attending live performances, perhaps the key is to stick to small, intimate clubs. Like jazz clubs…before they become extinct altogether.

Meanwhile, I am still looking forward to the Steely Dan concert in August. Hey, those guys are even older than me, so maybe it will work out this time.

As long as I don’t break my hip by clapping too rigorously.