Monday, April 24, 2017


The last thing the Weaver expected to see while she was cleaning out a window well was someone looking back at her. Amidst the leaves and pine duff, a handsome and dignified toad was at the bottom, effectively trapped in a prison of his own making:

I took him out for a formal portrait:

Then I placed him in a hopefully more sustainable habitat: a quickly constructed ‘toad house’, situated in a sheltered back corner of the garden:

With a small pool nearby, our new friend should have all he requires for a happy toady existence, excepting, perhaps, for a Mrs. Toad (or vice-versa.) I’ll let nature take its course on that issue.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Reader - Week 16


“You two are free to go now, but be aware that you may get a follow-up call from our investigators in a couple of days.”

Andy and Jennifer had been sitting in a booth in the back of the pub, as far away from the front door as possible. When the bouncer was shot, he turned and collapsed on top of Jennifer, bleeding profusely from a massive chest wound. He was dead. The shooter had left, but there were plenty of other witnesses who had seen him get angry when the bartender has kicked him out for yelling at the people who were watching the band and interfering with his pool game. It would only be a matter of time before he would be apprehended. Jennifer had been doused by the bouncer’s blood. Several wet towels later she was still a mess but no longer looked as if she was the person who had been shot. Andy was still numb, going through the motions of trying to be helpful.

“Do you have some clothes I could wear at your place? A sweatshirt, pants?” asked Jennifer, “I need a shower and I want to get rid of this dress. I don’t want to go home yet.”

“Sure, they’ll be a little baggy, but they’re clean,” said Andy, “I need to change too.”

“The walk will do us good,” she said, “Just a sec, I’ve got a call.”

Jennifer took out her phone and glanced at it for a second before putting it away.

“It’s nothing,” she said, “Let’s go, I can leave my car in the lot.”

At Andy’s place, Jennifer showered and put on Andy’s sweats, while he changed his clothes in the bedroom. He went back out into the kitchen and waited for Jenifer.

“That feels better,” she said, “Will you do me a favor? Do you have a plastic bag you can put that dress in, and then take it out to the trash?”

“Sure, I’ll do it right away,” answered Andy as he got up from the kitchen chair, “Your phone chimed again.”


Andy went into the bathroom and bagged up the dress, taking it outside and into the trash. As he walked back into the kitchen he saw Jennifer put her phone away. He noticed that she was shaking.

“Are you all right?” he said.

“I’m still pretty jumpy,” Jennifer said, “I need something to calm me down. Do you have any liquor?”

“I have whisky,” Andy said, “It’s a single malt, but its mild, not too peaty.”

“Pour me a glass, please,” she said, picking up a manuscript from his work pile, “Why don’t you read me a story.”

“Those are pretty soporific,” Andy said as he opened the whisky, “Straight or on the rocks?”

“Straight, with a little water. Four fingers. Hold me.”

They went into the living room and settled in on the couch.

“Thanks for doing all this, Andy. You, know, we have the strangest dates.”

“It’s O.K., We’ll just do whatever we can to make it through the night.”

Andy swapped the whisky for the manuscript and, as Jennifer’s moved next  to Andy’s she began to calm down.

He began to read.

The Reader is serial fiction, published every Friday.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Smalley’s Pirate Barbeque, Stillwater, MN

Its been four years since I’ve retired. Of late, a few trends in my life have emerged, nothing earth-shaking, but definitely some new directions. For one thing, my musical tastes have changed—I’m not nearly as interested in Pop Music (although I think that might be that Pop Music has changed more than I have.) It is really evident when I’m out somewhere (restaurant, stores, etc.) where the inanity and vapidness of modern songwriting becomes inescapable (and indigestable.) It isn’t only new music, there’s plenty of dross in all eras, I even went so far as to give away my ENTIRE vinyl collection (to a worthy cause—the legendary scenester David Foley.) My CD collection is always being pruned, if I don’t listen to something in it every couple of years, its gone. Physical storage has undergone massive changes in the last twenty years. I can forsee the day when all my music will be on a 32 gig USB stick. TV and Movies are fading in importance, although I must admit that Miss Fisher (Australian murder mysteries) and Portlandia, are guilty pleasures (best taken in small doses.) The Great British Baking Show is an escpecially delicious form of pornography.

The contents of my bookshelves have become more rarefied as well, with its big Icelandic section (much of it reference for the Laxness in Translation blog), Robert Benchley, Wanda Gág, Frank Lloyd Wright as well as a wide variety of curiosities. I’ve given several of my books to the “Little Library” that is in front of the Methodist Senior Living complex in town. I like to think that some of the residents there are reading them, although I fear that some of the newer books are being taken by people who will resell them and never even read one. Because I’ve never warmed up to eBooks, I think my ‘real’ books are safe for now.

These acts of giving helps to keep me from becoming embittered. The world doesn’t need any more cranky old white men, the ones we now have in positions of power are perfect demonstrations of rising above one’s level of competence. Spring is here, the gardens await, my serial fiction is challenging, and some summer trips have been planned. I’m not quite a grizzled curmudgeon yet, and although my mien can be scary at times, I’m not yet at the point of the chalky dude pictured above.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Movies - Double Feature

A couple of vids from the legendary Páll Óskar to help you start the week on a high note. First up, a Taylor Swift cover:

Next, Páll does Neil:

More on this legendary singer HERE.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Reader - Week 15

Trouble in River City

Andy looked at Jennifer. She was stunning, sporting a shiny red dress.
"And she, she was the great bath of life, he worshiped her. Mother and substance of all life she was. And he, child and man, received of her and was made whole. His pure body was almost killed. But the miraculous, soft effluence of her breast suffused over him, over his seared, damaged brain, like a healing lymph, like a soft, soothing flow of life itself, perfect as if he were bathed in the womb again."
His internal conflict between emotions and desire needed a referee, and preferably not D. H. Lawrence. He knew that he had to let go of the fictions of the past if he was ever to live in the present. He liked the fact the Jennifer wasn’t needy, that she hadn’t exchanged phone numbers with him yet. And she came back!

The noise in the back of the pub had something to do with one of the pool players. The bouncer had collared the miscreant and hauled him out through the pub’s back door.  Jennifer looked at the ruckus for a moment, then shifted her gaze back to Andy. The server came and took their orders.

“Now, where were we?” said Jennifer, “Or perhaps you’d like to start again, on a fresh page?"

“Don’t look back, look to the future!” Andy said, “Life begins now!”

“Fair enough,” said Jennifer. Her smile had a hard edge to it, as if she’d had this conversation before. “So tell me about yourself. I gather that you make your living doing some kind of proof-reading? That must be interesting.”

“Sometimes,” said Andy, thinking about the tedium of his technical work as well as the mawkish memoirs he’d been working on lately. He was determined to keep a positive spin on this conversation. “It’s a discipline. How about you?”

“I work in real estate, not sales, dealing with the paperwork side of things. I guess you could say I’m a reader as well, although the stories aren’t very interesting. Nine to five, five days a week, three weeks PTO per year. Health insurance. It pays the bills.”

The server brought them their beers, while the bouncer returned to his perch next to the door. The band began a Junior Walker medley with the song Roadrunner:
Money, who needs it
Let me live a life free and easy
Put a toothbrush in my hand
Let me be a traveling man
I'm a roadrunner, baby
Andy chuckled at the lyric. His life was as far from free and easy as one could get. He wondered if Jennifer liked to travel.

“Three weeks of PTO! I guess that is one disadvantage I have in being self-employed,” said Andy, “Where do you like to travel?”

“Oh, I don’t know, I guess that California is my favorite: San Francisco, Sausalito, San Rafael. The wine tours. How about you?”
Don't want no woman to tie me down
Gotta be free baby to roam around
All my life I've been like this
You can love me at your own risk
When the dust hits my shoes
I got the urge to move
Andy thought that it might be all right if he were tied down by Jennifer. He hadn’t done any traveling since college—a spring break trip to London on a cheap charter flight. God, that was thirty years ago, everything has changed by now, he thought. He had better tell her something: “I like London, The British Museum. Going to old book stores, just bumming around.”
'Cause I'm a road runner baby,
Gotta keep on, keepin' on
And I live the life I love
And I'm gonna love the life I live
I'm a roadrunner, baby
Andy took a sip of his stout as the band segued into What Does It Take (To Win Your Love):
What does it take
To win your love for me
How can I make
This dream come true for me
Ooh I just got to know
Oh baby cause I love you so…
The lyrics made Andy feel as if his heart would burst. He never had such an emotional response to a song before. Was he finally becoming a human being?

“London… that makes sense,” said Jennifer, “The Reader in his natural habitat. I’m more of a murder mystery fan myself, the gruesome Scandinavian ones, like Stieg Larsson, where the veneer of normalcy is shattered in a moment of violence, and everything is ugly underneath. I hope you don’t hold it against me… ” Her eyes flashed when she said the word ‘violence.’

A series of rim-shots in rapid succession from the band’s drummer announced the beginning of the Junior Walker song Shotgun:
I said, Shotgun shoot em ‘fore he runs now
Do the jerk baby
Do the jerk now
“Ooh! This a great song!” said Jennifer, rising, “Let’s dance!”

At that instant, Andy saw the pub’s door open.
Put on your red dress
And then you go downtown now
I said buy yourself a shotgun now
The bouncer rose from his stool, directly behind Jennifer, blocking Andy’s view.
We’re gonna break it down baby now
We’re gonna load it up baby now
And then you shoot him ‘fore he runs now
A deafening blast came from the doorway, and the bouncer reeled back, falling against Jennifer, she fell to the table with the burly bouncer lying awkwardly on top of her.
I said it's Twine Time
I said it’s Twine Time
I said it’s Twine Time
Andy caught a glimpse of a man in the doorway, holding a shotgun.  His face was twisted in rage. The man turned and ran out into the night. The band had stopped playing.

There was blood.

The Reader is serial fiction, published every Friday.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


A few weeks ago I went to see an old friend’s band play. Imagine my surprise when Bill, the the bassist of the group, handed me a property tax bill from 1981! It was for a house in North Minneapolis that a group of us had once owned in joint tenancy. Bill had found it filed among his papers (he lived next door at the time), it must have been delivered to his house by mistake. While I don’t recall missing any payments from that era, this was about the time we purchased it and we must have gotten a duplicate when we took possession—it didn’t have the homestead credit on it.

The amount of tax was $349, which was low even then. The property wasn’t much to look at, but it did give a bunch of people a pleasant place to live (and a place to start our families) for many years.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Explodo Boys - #6

Wilson Pickett cover, summer of 1974

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2