You call that a phone??

Posted in Uncategorized on September 8, 2014 by Jeremy the Loner

All right, kids, gather around, because I have something awesome to show you. No, seriously, stop texting for a second and listen to me, you little bastards. HEY! Put your phone DOWN! Turn the goddamn thing off! Do you pull this shit when your parents are trying to talk to you?? Oh, great, now you’re updating your Facebook status and complaining to everybody about what a dick I am. All right, enough is enough. Gimme that fucking phone, because YOU’RE ABOUT TO EAT IT. You know what?? That little device you can’t stop playing with doesn’t look a “phone” to me in the first place. For you see, THIS is a phone.

The latest and greatest from the Alexander Graham Bell Collection!

The latest and greatest from the Alexander Graham Bell Collection!

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. That thing must be a BITCH to carry around, right? And what’s with those “button” things? There isn’t even a screen on it! I think it’s also safe to say you can’t download any apps on this device, nor can you download Flappy Bird, Angry Birds, or any other avian-themed games. All you can do is talk into it. Furthermore, you can’t carry it around with you either, because it’s mounted on the wall. And did you notice the cord hanging from the receiver? That means you can only go as far away from the phone as the cord will let you! Shocking, isn’t it??

The phone you’re looking at is almost exactly like the one we had when I was growing up. Actually, we didn’t really “have” it… phones were very expensive, you see, so we had to pay to RENT the thing every month from Michigan Bell, our phone company. When it rang, a bell literally went off. No, you couldn’t customize your ringer with a Lady Gaga song. A loud, shrill bell was your ONLY option. Am I blowing your mind? Well, I’m not through yet!

Would you believe that in a house of four people, this was the ONLY phone we had? That’s right, anyone wanting to talk to me, my brother or my parents all dialed the SAME number. So, if I was expecting an important phone call and my mom was tying up the line by yapping away with grandma, I was plain shit out of luck. Even if someone TRIED to call me, they couldn’t get through because there was NO SUCH THING as call waiting! Nope, any perspective caller would instead be greeted by this annoying tone called a “busy signal”. AND… here’s where it gets really crazy… let’s suppose for a moment that somebody tried calling the house when there was nobody home. You know what would happen then?? Not only would NOBODY get the call, we wouldn’t have even known you called in the first place! Caller ID didn’t exist! Neither did voicemail! There was such a thing as an answering machine, which could record messages for you on these little things called cassettes, but they were far too expensive. You had to be practically rich to have shit like that.

Oh, you kids today have it so easy. Did you know that when I was your age, even the simple act of calling a girl was a major production? First of all, you had to get a hold of her phone number. That was no easy feat in those days, unless you were cute, which I definitely was not. The only way to get a phone number was to look through this giant thing that came to the house every year called a “telephone directory”. I’m sure you’ve seen one of these before. It’s that thing your parents immediately throw in the garbage as soon as they see it, or perhaps use in the fireplace. But back in those days, we NEEDED that book. If I wanted to call a girl, I’d have to do some detective work; I’d look for all the local listings with her last name, and call them one by one until I reached the right house. This wasn’t too difficult if she had an unusual last name, but what if her last name was Smith?? You might dial 50 numbers before you finally hit on the correct one! And even if I eventually happened on the number, what if she didn’t answer? What if her smart ass older brother answered instead? Holy shit, WHAT IF HER DAD ANSWERED??

You might want to wipe off that receiver before you talk into it.

You might want to wipe off that receiver before you talk into it.

Now, I know this a lot for you kids to take in. I’m probably making it sound like the ONLY way you could make a phone call is if you happened to be at home and your mom wasn’t using the line. But this isn’t exactly true. Once upon a time, there was such a thing as a “pay phone”. They’re pretty much extinct now, but they used to be thriving and plentiful throughout the land. I remember the local mall having an entire island of them, and teenage girls would be seen swarming all around them like bees on flowers. If you wanted to make a call, it cost 20 cents. Then it was 25 cents. Then 30 cents. Then 50 cents! Then they pretty much disappeared. I’m not sure how much a pay phone would cost these days, but you’d probably need your credit card.

Of course, we didn’t stay in the Stone Age forever. One year at Christmas, my mother’s co-workers bought her a (*gasp!*) CORDLESS phone!! I was awestruck! The top of the receiver had a retractable metal antenna which allowed you to walk freely throughout the house as you were talking! Sure, the reception was lousy and you could barely hear through all the static, but I can’t tell you how cool I felt when I was able to sit on the front porch and talk on the phone! I felt TOTALLY cutting edge! And when we got an answering machine a year or two later, that was truly the shit. With a cordless phone, an answering machine, a VCR, and a “space saver” microwave, it’s like I was living in futuristic house!!

So yeah, kids, that little electronic thing you carry around? That thing with a CPU that’s at least 50 times more advanced and powerful than any computer that even existed when I was your age? That ain’t a phone. You can make calls with it, but how often do you actually DO that? I see you kids hovering over your phones all the time, but I rarely see you actually TALKING on them. Texting, updating Facebook, tweeting, playing games, taking selfies? Sure. But in my day, we actually TALKED to one another!! If we wanted to know how someone was doing, we’d pick up our corded phones and CALL them! Can you do that?? I didn’t think so! You kids suck!!!

/Old Man Rant


Searching For Robin

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on August 12, 2014 by Jeremy the Loner

The older you get, the more you’re forced to get used to the concept of death. It’s both heartbreaking and sobering after a while, all of the family members, friends, pets and acquaintances you lose as time passes. Celebrity deaths can affect you too, though in a much less direct way. Maybe you didn’t know them personally, but they were a part of your life in their own small way. You hear the bad news, you feel a bit shocked and saddened, then you post about it on Facebook and Twitter. (R.I.P. *Fill in the blank*!!) But it’s not a HUGE deal, is it? Life goes on. I personally haven’t been all that affected or shocked by a celebrity death since Michael Jackson, and that was only because he was such an icon of my childhood. But then, as I sat at work yesterday while Metro Detroit experienced a flooding of almost Biblical proportions, I heard the sad news about Robin Williams.

First off, I should say that Robin Williams was not my favorite actor, nor was he my favorite comedian. He was sublimely talented in both of these things, but there were actors I liked better and as far as comedy goes, I preferred an intellectual wordsmith like George Carlin. I first became aware of Robin (as many others did) from the TV show “Mork & Mindy,” and to a certain extent he was always Mork to me. There was so much of him in that role, from the constant improvisations, the manic delivery of his lines, the myriad voices he would use… many of these things became trademarks of his standup act, which was nothing else if not impressive. He vibrated with nervous energy, channeling characters and bouncing around the stage like his feet were on fire. It was almost exhausting to watch him perform, and there was never any doubt that he was giving everything he had when he was onstage. I admired his “all or nothing” approach, and somewhat envied his fearlessness. I assumed he must be pretty secure with himself to put it all out there like he did. Little did I know.

That was one thing that always struck me about Robin; he was a consummate performer and entertainer 100% of the time. It didn’t matter if he was on The Tonight Show or doing an interview promoting his latest film with an anchor at a local TV station. He was always “Robin Williams”. He didn’t just do an interview, he put on a performance for the interviewer, no matter how anonymous they were, just like he would for somebody like Johnny Carson. Their laughter was obviously important to him. It made no difference whether it was one person or a stadium filled with people. He always brought his “A” game, and I’m sure the approval he received was a big part of what fueled him.

I completely related to him in that regard. I learned at a very early age that laughter was an excellent tool for making friends, which was an important realization for an insecure kid like me. I remember having Show and Tell when I was in kindergarten, and one day I couldn’t think of anything cool to bring with me. I had this plush tiger hand puppet, and I grabbed it on a whim for lack of any other ideas. It turned out to be an early defining moment in my life. The kindergarten teacher asked me if I wanted to demonstrate the puppet, so I went into the playhouse that was in the classroom and put on an impromptu puppet show for the other kids. It was a total blast. The kids were laughing and interacting with the puppet, and when I came out afterward they were applauding and saying to me, “That was good!I never forgot that. That feeling of approval and acceptance washed over me and it was like an epiphany; People will like me better if I’m funny.

Robin was undeniably funny, but I didn’t realize there was more to him as a performer until I was watching cable in the early 80s and saw a movie called “The World According to Garp”. It was a terrific dramatic role and Williams played it completely straight and convincingly, especially considering some of the bizarre elements of the story. There were no trademark silly voices or comic asides, like I’d see in many (if not most) of his later movies. I may have been expecting Mork from Ork, but I got anything but. It proved to me that he had true acting talent without needing to go over the top. I felt much the same way when I saw “Awakenings,” in which Williams deftly played a painfully shy doctor in a performance that brought me to tears more than once. I was further impressed when I saw “One Hour Photo,” a rather obscure film that brought a lonely, tortured character named Sy to vivid, uncomfortable reality. He had those opposing sides to his personality… the funny side and the darker side underneath the surface. His best roles played to both sides, like in “Good Morning, Vietnam” and “Death to Smoochy”. But there was also his dazzling tour de force turn as the Genie in Disney’s “Aladdin,” a role he mostly ad-libbed. He even won an Oscar for “Good Will Hunting,” but I can’t speak on that movie since I’ve never seen it. I guess I need to get on that.

Through it all, there was a blurry line that separated the man from the performer. He had a very animated, entertaining public persona, but what was he REALLY like? He couldn’t have been that way all the time, could he? Well, no, of course he couldn’t. It seems to me the front he put on in public was something he must have felt was expected of him. People expect me to be funny, so I’d better be funny. We didn’t get to see the private side of him. We didn’t see him battling substance abuse or the serious depression he suffered from most of his life. His family and close friends must have seen that darker side of him, but to his fans he was funny and happy-go-lucky all the time. I realize now that his insecurities probably played a large part in that.

Can I relate? Absolutely. One time, I was on a first date with a woman that I was really interested in and I wanted it to go well. I’m always cripplingly insecure in situations like that, so to compensate for it I went into “performer” mode. It really seemed to do the trick, at least at first. All through dinner she was laughing and smiling, which is always good on a first date. But then she did something that I never forgot. She laid her hand over mine and asked, “Are you always this funny?” I wasn’t expecting that question, so I fumbled for an appropriate response. “Just so you know,” she continued, “I don’t expect you to be ‘on’ all the time.”  For a few seconds, I felt totally exposed. I felt that my gregarious facade had been shattered and she could see me for exactly who I was inside; the chubby, goofy-looking kid that felt he needed to be funny in order for anyone to like him. The kid who honestly believed that if he wasn’t constantly “on,” then nobody would even bother with him at all. The laughter and approval from others had always validated me. Without it, I felt completely useless.

Of course, she wasn’t trying to make me feel bad. In fact, she made a really good point. You can’t be “on” all the time. I have to wonder how difficult that was for someone like Robin. Even with all the fame and accolades he had, after the stage lights were shut off and the applause died down, he still had to live with himself. When you’re lying in bed at night, alone with your thoughts, there’s nowhere to hide. Did the depression he felt inside hinder him, or had it created him? Every morning you have to look at yourself in the bathroom mirror. If you don’t like what you see, you’ll never be truly happy. Fame won’t change that. Money won’t, either. And as much as Robin probably hated to admit it, neither will the approval of others. I think he used his humor as both a weapon and a shield. Nobody wanted to know how sad he was, so why bother them with it? It’s easier to just make them laugh…

My sense of humor was the only thing that got me through those first two miserable years of junior high school. I remember what a rough time that was for me. Adolescence was not treating me kindly, and my bulky glasses, disheveled hair and ill-fitting clothes made me an easy target for bullies. It’s an age where appearance is EVERYTHING, so if I looked like a dorky teacher’s pet and mama’s boy, that must be exactly what I was. Those who actually took the time to talk to me figured out in a hurry that I was not at all what I appeared to be, but most didn’t bother. One particular bully, a kid I’ll call “Sean,” would give me a hard time every single day. I wasn’t a specific target… in fact, this kid had a nasty disposition and was pretty much rotten to everybody. In hindsight, I realize this boy was the way he was for a reason. Who knows what was going on in his life? I’m sure other people were treating him just as cruelly as he treated others, and that was his way of dealing with it. But what did I know back then? I just thought, “That guy is a dick.” I tried ignoring him, but as all bullied kids know, that simply doesn’t work. Neither does “laughing it off,” but parents who don’t actually remember being a teenager like to throw out that useless advice all the time.

Well, one day I was sitting in class talking to a friend of mine. I don’t even remember what the conversation was about, but in the middle of it I glanced over and saw Sean eavesdropping, and for once he wasn’t hurling insults. Instead, he was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down his face. I remember feeling a bit taken aback, because I’d never seen that side of him, but I was also relieved that he wasn’t trying to humiliate me. Things changed that day. We didn’t become friends or anything, but he stopped picking on me after that. Why? All because I had made him laugh, albeit unintentionally. I think that leaving me alone was the closest thing he could get to saying “thank you”. But I’m glad I made him laugh, because I’ll bet that kid didn’t have much to be happy about.

It’s a true gift to be able to bring happiness to people, to make them laugh, and Robin experienced it on a much grander scale than I’ll ever know. Didn’t he realize the power he had? Didn’t he know that entertaining millions upon millions of people these past few decades actually meant something to the world? I suppose it’s easy for people to NOT understand, to think that he had it all and just threw it away. It’s easy to call him selfish when you don’t realize the secret anguish he must have felt. I’m sure people told him to “snap out of it,” and to be grateful for what he had in his life. I’m not going to sit here and claim that I understand, but I think I have an inkling of at least some of what he went through.

He had wanted to be an entertainer and he did it, experiencing success beyond anything he probably ever dreamed of. He had a wife and children who loved him. He had all the material things he could ever want. He had his Golden Globes and his Oscar. He had the admiration of the very industry he had coveted. In the end, it wasn’t enough. A remarkable life ended with a belt wrapped around his neck, alone in his multimillion dollar home with the inner demons he was sadly never able to conquer. Why? Did he believe that nobody really loved him? Did he think, despite everything he had accomplished, that he wasn’t “good” enough? He didn’t leave behind a suicide letter, so we’ll likely never know. But his death should serve as a wake up call to the world; Depression is a serious disorder that should be treated as such. It’s true that you can’t save people from themselves, but you can be there for them. You can make sure they know at least one person loves them, one person cares. That’s all you can really do, but it’s also the best thing you can do.

You were loved, Robin. And if nothing else, I hope you know that now. Thanks for the laughs and the memories.

Monte & Me

Posted in Uncategorized on August 15, 2013 by Jeremy the Loner

I saw a post on Facebook recently that completely broke my heart even as it made me seethe with anger. A local Humane Society posted a short video of a 10 year old beagle that was surrendered to them because its owners “no longer have time” to take care of her. This poor animal was peering out from the cage, trembling and panting with fear and confusion, abandoned like a bag of garbage by some family that obviously didn’t deserve the love of a good dog in the first place. It was absolutely heart-wrenching to see, and I’m positive that dog’s sad face will haunt me for a long, long time.

This is the beagle Scout. Don't ask me to post the video, it's too depressing.

This is the beagle Scout. Don’t ask me to post the video, it’s too depressing.

Thankfully, many others saw the same post I did and had the same reaction as me. Offers to adopt the dog came pouring in, so at least this one sad case will have a happy ending. Many more of them won’t. I’m telling you, I have to admire people who are willing to work at animal shelters. There’s no way I could do it. I’d probably go home in tears every day, heartbroken to the depths of my soul as I saw way too many terrific pets being euthanized because the people who promised to love them and take care of them suddenly found them an “inconvenience”. I don’t understand this thinking at all. I mean, your dog or cat wouldn’t abandon YOU, would they? Of course not. Only a human being could be so thoughtless and uncaring as to discard one who loves them unconditionally.

I haven’t set foot in an animal shelter in over 11 years. It’s not that I don’t care about the animals… in fact, it’s the exact opposite. My heart can’t take the sadness. It affects me on a very deep level, so the only time I’ll go in a shelter is if I’m ready to adopt an animal that day. The last such time was a day I’ll never forget.

It was a cold January morning in 2002, and I stood inside the Humane Society looking every bit the broken man that I was. I had lost my closest friend Tigger a few weeks before and I was still grieving, to the point where the skin under my eyes was red and raw from the constant wiping of tears. Of course there were people who looked down on me, not understanding how I could be so upset about losing “just a cat”. But Tigger wasn’t “just a cat” to me. He had come into my life as a tiny black and gray striped kitten when I was only 10 years old, an age where I still thought that Tigger was a clever name for a cat. For the next 17 years he was the only constant through many, many changes. Through puberty, divorce, high school, girlfriends, my first apartment, bad jobs… he was always there for me (and only me). See, Tigger flat out didn’t give a shit about people and treated them with indifference or outright hostility. But he adored me, and that’s all that mattered. I still remember how he’d sit on the back of the couch behind me, his paw resting on my right shoulder in an obvious display of endearment. He was MY friend. He was my anchor. He meant the world to me.

Then came the dark days. Tigger got sick… really sick… and a visit to the vet brought bad news. I remember sitting in that vet office, weeping like a child as I had to make the toughest decision I ever hope to make. I barely remember the drive home without him, crying so hard I could hardly see the road in front of me. It’s still difficult to think about now. I knew I had lost my one true friend, and to make it worse, I had to go through it alone. It’s true that I did have another cat, Sadie, who would go on to live 20 years herself. But even though I loved her too, Sadie was never my “buddy” the way Tigger was. He had left behind a huge void inside of me that needed to be filled, which is what drew me to the Humane Society that day.
I had come in thinking I wanted a kitten. In fact, a visit to the Pet Finder site had me seeking out a charcoal-colored kitten named Smokey, which was the same name as the dog we had when I was growing up. (Maybe it was fate or something?) But when I saw Smokey in his cage, he was sleeping and seemingly didn’t want to be bothered. I reached through the cage and stroked the fur on his back, but he merely glanced at me and put his head back down. So, I continued down the line, feeling the sadness of these unwanted cats washing over me. I paused at several other cages, looking for some sort of connection. Some of the cats seemed interested in my presence, some didn’t. But then… in the very last cage, right at eye level, this large orange cat stood at attention as I neared him. He looked right at me and started rubbing his entire body up against the cage, his throat vibrating with the loudest purr I’d ever heard. He was a fluffy, handsome cat that rubbed his face and head and caressed against my fingers, walking back and forth in his cramped cage as if he was showing off his beautiful orange and white fur. I was taken with him right away, but… he wasn’t a kitten. He was a cat, and a pretty damn big one at that. I had to remind myself that I had come for a kitten, not a cat.
Looking at that face, I never stood a chance.

Looking at that face, I never stood a chance.

I glanced at the sign on his cage which listed his name as MONTE. Underneath that, handwritten in a girlish scrawl that immediately tugged at my heartstrings, it said “I’d be more than happy to come home with YOU!” It was then that I remembered I had seen Monte on the Pet Finder site as a “Featured Pet”. He had been found wandering as a stray in some apartment complex, left behind after his owners had moved away without him. This in itself was bad enough, but it was also in the middle of a snowy January. It was hard for me to fathom somebody leaving such a sweet animal, an animal who definitely still had a lot of love to give.

I walked back down the aisle of cages for a second look at the cats. I made another visit to Smokey’s cage, but he once again paid me no mind. I saw a cat that reminded me of Tigger and he was friendly enough, but somehow it didn’t seem right to get another cat that resembled my previous one. It would be like I was “replacing” him, and there would be no replacing Tigger. I spent a minute or two with a white cat, who playfully batted at me through the cage. And as I got toward the end of the row of cages for a second time, Monte stood up once again, practically bending the bars of his cage by rubbing against them so hard. I hesitated to pet him again, not wanting to get attached to a cat I had no intention of adopting. But I couldn’t help myself. I scratched the side of his neck, listening to his purr resonate against the dreary cement walls.

A young female employee approached me and asked if I had any questions. “Actually, I do,” I said. I pointed back and forth between Monte and Smokey, asking, “Between these two cats, which one do you think has a better chance of being adopted?” She didn’t hesitate at all in her answer. “Probably that one,” she said, pointing at the kitten Smokey. “The other cat is older and he’s been here longer, so…” Her voiced trailed off.

I walked back over to Monte, who was still purring and watching me intently at the front of his cage. I couldn’t resist petting him through the bars again as he pushed his fluffy body against them. The employee watched this for a moment and asked, “Do you want me to open the cage?” I paused for a second, then nodded my head. This is the moment my life changed. As the door swung open, Monte crawled out directly into my arms and laid his chin on my shoulder. I remember feeling this huge lump in my throat as I rested my forehead against him and cradled him in my arms. I could tell he needed to be rescued so badly, and part of me thinks he somehow knew that I needed to be rescued, too. The employee, sensing something more than just some random guy and a cat, stood quietly and let us have our moment. That was all it took for me. I turned to her as my eyes welled up to the point of almost overflowing and whispered, “Okay.”
“Okay?” she said, a bit startled. “Are you sure? Do you need some time to think about it?”
“No,” I told her. “This is him.”

We filled out all the necessary paperwork as they slapped an ADOPTED tag on Monte’s cage. They also removed his bowl of food, as he was scheduled to be neutered the next day. Before I headed out to my car, I hesitantly asked if it was all right if I went back to see him one last time. I was already feeling protective of him and didn’t want to leave him, even if it was only for a night. The employee seemed a bit touched when she told me yes, of course I could go back and see him. Monte and I spent a few more minutes bonding through the bars of his cage, but when I went to leave the room his whole demeanor changed. It was like watching a flower wilt. His proud posture and loud purr were gone and he dejectedly curled up in the corner of his cage. No doubt he had been through this before. He’d probably seen plenty of people come into the shelter, give him some fleeting moments of attention and then leave without him. Maybe he thought I was never coming back, too. I had to wonder if his whole life had been like that; brief periods of love followed by abandonment. But Monte had no way of knowing that he wouldn’t be abandoned again, not EVER. He had made a friend for life this time.

monte1Life in my apartment drastically changed after his arrival. Monte wasn’t a kitten, but he was a young cat filled with plenty of energy and mischief. He was also totally starved for love, so much so that he stuck to me like glue for at least the first two weeks. It was hard not to trip over him because he was always underfoot, rubbing up against my legs anytime I stood up. I had a hard time getting dressed for work in the morning because he was always trying to jump from the floor into my arms. But I couldn’t ever be annoyed by him, since he was so sweet and loving. He even tried to make friends with my other cat Sadie, but she wasn’t having it. Their first meeting entailed him bounding playfully up to greet her, only to be met with a swat and a loud hiss. I actually felt bad for Monte as he shrank back from her, looking at me reproachfully as if to say, “What did I do to her?” During mealtimes for the cats, Monte and Sadie would head for their food bowl at the same time, and Sadie would plain smack the shit out of him. (Fortunately for him, she was declawed.) Monte would stand there, take his smacks to the face like a man, then eat as if nothing had happened. He never returned her aggressiveness, even though he could have made mincemeat out of her if he so chose. I refused to have Monte declawed, a procedure I’m very strongly against, so the apartment and certain possessions of mine paid the price.

Oh, those claws! One time he was chasing a fly and actually tore a hunk out of the drywall. He shredded the fabric on my box spring all to hell, too. I was lucky he spared the furniture, but nevertheless I bought him a floor-to-ceiling cat tree just to be on the safe side. It lasted barely a year. Monte tore the thing to ribbons and pounded it to pieces like you wouldn’t believe. It was awesome to see him run full speed into the room, LAUNCH himself into the air and power his way to the top of his tree, the whole room shaking. I wish I had some slow motion video of that… it could totally make the National Geographic Channel. So, needless to say, that tree didn’t last. Neither did the second one. As for the third? It collapsed not more than a month ago, and I’m still debating about whether or not I’m going to buy a fourth one. But I need to do something to keep him entertained, since birds don’t congregate outside the windows of my apartment like places I’ve had in the past.

Monte putting the finishing touches on the destruction of Cat Tree #3.

Monte putting the finishing touches on the destruction of Cat Tree #3.

My old apartment, for example, had a balcony which was frequented by a number of birds. I would throw bread out there to feed them, because for Monte watching the birds was his favorite pastime. It was the equivalent of watching a great movie for him; he’d crouch down and stalk them, his eyes focused like a laser and his tail twitching. The birds would happily eat the Wonder bread provided to them, unaware that a screen door was the only thing separating them from certain death. Monte may have been affectionate and loving but he was still a cat and, as such, a hunter. One time on a warm day I was sitting with Monte on the couch watching TV when I suddenly heard a commotion from my bedroom. It sounded like something was hitting the blinds on the window over my bed, which seemed odd to me, especially since I was on the third floor. I ran into the room to see what it was, only to discover a bird flying around my room, repeatedly ramming into the blinds and trying to get out. As I stood there puzzling over how the bird got into my room in the first place, I saw an orange blur out of the corner of my eye moving at a rapid speed. Before I was even able to react, Monte leaped into the air, used my bed as a makeshift trampoline, snatched the wayward bird midair with his claws and bit down. Blood spattered against the wall like a bad horror movie. The poor bird never knew what hit it. One second it was flying around, the next second it was dead. Meanwhile, Monte hopped off the bed, the bird hanging limply from his mouth, and casually trotted out of the room. I was shocked and stunned, feeling badly for the bird, but also feeling somewhat impressed with Monte’s prowess as a hunter. He was such a badass with those claws of death!

Monte also turned out to be a pretty good judge of character. I think a lot of animals are. Like dogs, for example; you can have the sweetest dog in the world, but it will still growl at some people. Likewise, Monte was friendly with most people (especially women), but with others he kept his distance. At one point I was spending time with a woman I was really, really crazy about. She was coming by to see me a few times a week, and each time Monte would hop up next to her on the couch, eying her warily. She would go to pet him and he would duck his head down, sniffing at her suspiciously. At first I thought he just needed to get to know her, but before long it became apparent that he flat out didn’t like her. It wasn’t a jealously thing with him, either. He had been affectionate with other women I’d dated, but not HER. It really bothered me at the time, but later on I realized he was right to not trust her. It’s like he knew something about her that I didn’t, since I was blinded by this woman’s charm and beauty. I never forgot that, and to this day I watch to see how Monte reacts to women I bring home. If they get his seal of approval, that goes a long way with me.

You know, people refer to their pets as their “best friends” to the point where it long ago became a cliche. In my case, I really do mean it. Monte is definitely my best friend, hands down. I’m the first to admit I don’t have many friends. It’s not the way I want it–it’s just very difficult to be friends with me. I don’t let many people get close, and since I have no wife or kids my inner circle is very limited. Besides, the more people know about you, the more things they find to criticize. It’s different with Monte. He knows EXACTLY who I am, warts and all, and accepts me unconditionally. He’s seen me at my best and my absolute worst, but my shortcomings mean nothing to him. He’s an ideal companion. Just last night I was watching a baseball game on the couch, and Monte was hanging out with me, as usual. He was sprawled out on the cushion next to me, his back against my leg, washing his face and occasionally tapping me with his paw for some attention. It’s our little routine, and the way our relationship has been since the day I first brought him home. I gave him a second chance at life all those years ago, and now he gets from me all the love and doting that I have nowhere else to give. We need one another.

I can’t believe that it’s been over 11 years since I found that love-starved cat at the Humane Society back in 2002. Sometimes I wonder about the people who abandoned him, and how they could have done something like that to him. When I think of how he was just abandoned in the snow, I get really, really angry. But I can’t help but feel grateful to those people as well, because in a sense they gave me a tremendous gift. Their loss was my gain. I truly hope Scout the beagle’s new owners feel that way, because all good animals deserve a loving home. I realize that Monte is getting older, and now and then I consider what my life would be without him… but I don’t let myself dwell too much on it. It’s better to appreciate him while he’s still here, so that’s what I do. Truly great friends are difficult to find, and I feel extremely fortunate to have found at least one.

Thank you for rescuing me, Monte.

Three Things I Don’t Understand About Women

Posted in Uncategorized on July 14, 2013 by Jeremy the Loner
Three things? ONLY three things? Really?
Of course not. This is by no means a comprehensive list. I don’t understand anything about women, so I could make a whole series of these columns. I don’t understand why they read Twilight books, for example. I don’t understand why Norman Reedus, that skinny, scraggly bastard from The Walking Dead, is a sex symbol. I don’t understand why they lose their shit over diamonds. I don’t understand how their orgasms work…
Actually, I do understand that. It’s just that when I get a woman in that situation, I’m usually too drunk to do anything to make it happen. On the other hand, sometimes it takes me being drunk to have enough courage to make a move in the first place! You see why I bitch all the time?  That’s a vicious cycle!
Anyway, women have always been baffling to me, for millions of reasons. Here’s the first few that popped into my head;
As a guy, I spend very little time thinking about footwear. I have maybe three pairs of shoes at any given time; a pair for work, athletic shoes and a ratty pair to bum around in, all of them usually black. That’s it. I don’t go through a big production in picking them out. I don’t worry about coordinating them with my wardrobe. If they’re relatively comfortable and they save me from walking around barefoot, that’s all I give a fuck about. The good folks at 7-Eleven won’t let you buy Slurpees without some type of footwear, and I’m a civilized man.

Compare my mentality to that of the average woman; most women have approximately 18,754 pairs of shoes, and they’re ALWAYS looking to buy more. Look in their closets and you’ll see multiple styles and colors, picked out based solely on how “cute” they are, and whether or not they’ll match their stupid little purses. Comfort seems to be a non-issue with them. I’ve seen women wearing excruciatingly uncomfortable shoes that leave their feet covered in blisters, all because they like the way they look with their skirt, or whatever. This makes no fucking sense to me at all. Personally, I’d rather have my shoes clash with my outfit and NOT have sore feet at the end of the day, but then again I’m burdened with this annoying little thing called “common sense.” Ain’t that just a bitch??

This is probably the REAL secret behind the female orgasm.

This is probably the REAL secret behind the female orgasm.

Plus, women treat shoe shopping like it’s a MAJOR EVENT worth getting all excited for, and it really isn’t. To my way of thinking, it’s a chore that should take no longer than 15 minutes at the most. Unfortunately, it’s physically impossible for women to spend such a little amount of time shopping, just like it’s impossible for them to buy only ONE pair. Think about it… have you ever seen a woman buying a single pair of shoes? Shit no, you haven’t! For women, shoes are like the shopping equivalent of Lay’s potato chips; “Bet’cha can’t buy just one pair!”

I know it sounds like I’m talking shit here, but I know the score, people. I worked at a shoe store for several years in my early 20’s, and female shoppers were a colossal pain in the ass. I’d watch as they’d try on every fucking pair of shoes in the store, leaving a huge mess in their wake. When they finally got around to purchasing a few pairs, many is the time they’d come back a few days later and RETURN THEM! What the fuck?? I remember talking to some of these ditzy broads to try and understand their thinking, but it was always pointless;

STUPID WOMAN: I need to return these shoes.
JEREMY THE LONER: Oh! Is something wrong with them?
STUPID WOMAN: No, I just didn’t want them.

Think about this for a second; “I just didn’t want them.” So… the two hours you spent in the shoe store, trying on pair after pair and leaving a complete disaster in your wake was because you wanted to RENT shoes for a few days?? After this happened a few billion times, I gave up trying to figure it out. I will say this, though; ONLY a woman would waste several hours purchasing shit she never really wanted in the first place. Makes loads of sense, doesn’t it??


It’s a good thing women have babies, or mankind would have died out eons ago. Not too many men would be anxious to experience the “joy” of childbirth. I sure as hell wouldn’t. I’m not about to ruin my petite figure (tee-hee!) and besides, my man boobs are already sagging as it is, so fuck that shit. I also have this odd aversion to a 7 pound creature exiting any of the orifices on my body. Call me crazy, but that’s how I feel.

"Fuck this, maybe I should give the kid up for adoption."

“Fuck this, maybe I should give the kid up for adoption.”

Another reason I’m glad men don’t have babies is because there’s no way I could ever, ever sit through a goddamn baby shower. Yes, babies are expensive and yes, the little shits will need a lot of things, so I’m not against them intellectually. It’s nicer to be given stuff for free than itis to buy it yourself, right? But I can’t stomach the whole “shower” ritual, in which a bunch of women sit around in a room filled with too many balloons “ooohing” and “ahhhing” over baby clothes and stupid little toys. The thought of it is almost nightmarish for me. If I was a woman, I’d want to skip that shit altogether. I’d be like, “Hey, I appreciate everyone wanting to buy presents for my unborn child, but instead of a shower, can’t we just do gift cards instead?” Yeah, I’d say that and all my female friends would be appalled at my lack of etiquette, saying, “What a bitch!” Yeah, well, fuck them. I don’t need their gifts anyway. And I don’t need them giving me grief about drinking beer while I’m pregnant! My kid will be fine. My mom drank AND smoked like a chimney when she was pregnant with me, and I…

Um… sorry about that. I kind of went off on a tangent there.


Only a woman would consider getting their hair cut and styled as a leisure activity. Some of them will sit in the salon all day, smelly chemicals and strips of aluminum foil in their hair, happy as a pig in shit. They walk out of the salon 100 dollars (?) poorer, all so their husbands won’t notice the fucking difference anyway. Then they head over to get their pedicure, where other women massage their feet, rub down the rough skin with a brick or  a stone or some shit, then paint their little toes and make them look all pretty. At least I THINK it’s something like that. And while I have no idea what something like that would cost, I’m pretty sure it’s too much.

Pictured: A complete waste of fucking time.

Pictured: A complete waste of fucking time.

I don’t understand any of this for several reasons; first off, I have never, ever paid more than 20 bucks for a haircut in my life, and that’s with tip included. I’ve never spent more than a half hour in the salon, either. Fuck that. I’ll leave if there’s more than two people ahead of me in line, because a haircut should take a few minutes, not most of the damn day. There’s no way I could sit in a chair and be “styled,” either. I don’t even like being touched, especially around my face and neck. I just want the cut OVER with, the sooner the better. And as for my feet? Pssssh. That poor pedicurist would end up with posttraumatic stress disorder once I peeled my sweaty socks off in front of her slack-jawed face. She’d probably tender her resignation on the spot.

Now, I’m sure some people reading this might be thinking, “But Jeremy, MEN get pedicures too!” Well, maybe some of them do. But they’re probably metrosexuals, so fuck them.

Luckily for the pedicure industry, I won’t be using their services. I have no burning desire to have cotton balls placed in between my toes as some poor woman paints my toenails. I can’t imagine why anyone else would, either.

You women are something else.

Getting Old Sucks Ass

Posted in Uncategorized on June 14, 2013 by Jeremy the Loner
As much as it pains me to admit it, I can’t deny the truth anymore. It’s staring me dead in the face, unblinking, like a pissed off Rottweiler that’s ready to knock me down and relieve me of my throat. So… I’m just gonna take a deep breath and blurt it out, okay? Here goes;
I’m losing my fucking hair.
There, I said it. I put it out there. And while this might not seem like such a shocking revelation for a guy pushing 40, you don’t understand how it is with me and my hair. I like my hair. Sure, I bitch about it incessantly, but “I’m going bald” are three words I never thought I’d have to say. There’s no denying it, though; my hair has most definitely started thinning near the front, to the point where I asked the girl who cuts my hair about it. “No, no, that’s a cowlick,” she was nice enough to say. Well, of course she’d say that… she wants a good tip. But I’ll just let you take a look at my giant-sized cranium and see it for yourself;
A good portion of this hair will end up in the shower drain tomorrow morning.

A good portion of this hair will end up in the shower drain tomorrow morning.

First off, I know there’s probably some mid-20’s, bald as hell dude looking at this picture and bellowing “FUCK YOU” at his screen, thinking I have a lot of nerve to be bitching about hair loss considering my “still-wooly” noggin. I guess that’s a valid point. Most people probably wouldn’t even notice, and would chalk this up to an issue of vanity. Well, let me tell you something… I have no vanity. But I’ll be damned if I’m not noticing a hell of a lot more “scalp” on my head than I ever did before, especially when my hair is wet. It might be able to hang tough for a few years, but I have to assume my hairline is officially on Death Row. I’m not counting on any last minute calls from the governor, either, so it’s a bitter pill to swallow. Shit, I wasn’t given a whole lot to work with from a genetic standpoint, so my hair has always been one of my best features. I’m guessing my full set of teeth will be the next thing to go…

Ain’t getting old a bitch? I used to think the saying “Youth is wasted on the young” was a cliché, but that was before I was able to get out of a chair without grunting. We’re given so much as children and we don’t appreciate it at all. Noooo, we don’t start to appreciate these gifts until we live long enough to see them get taken away from us, one thing at a time. That’s what aging is; a front row seat to your own slow destruction, as your youth, vitality, looks and health wither away before your very eyes, leaving you saying, “What the fuck happened??” I know I’m definitely not the first one to make this observation, but the inevitability of it all has been gradually sinking in ever since I found my first gray hair at the age of 18.

But you know what I miss about being young? It’s the little things. I’m talking about those things you would do every day of your life and not think twice about. Want a few examples?

This was an essential part of any recess period during grade school, a reckless and stupid act that I just couldn’t get enough of. You know the drill–you’d run to the swing set, start swinging as high as you could possibly go and then LAUNCH yourself into the air, hoping you didn’t kill yourself when you hit the ground. This activity was frowned upon by the faculty, but that didn’t stop me from doing it. I remember my kindergarten teacher warning me of the danger involved, telling me she had broken her arm as a little girl by doing that exact same thing. Do you think I gave a fuck? Psssssh. As soon as her back was turned, I’d go right back to jumping off the swing. Maybe she had broken her arm, but I was an invincible little shit!

"Catch me, Lord, catch me!! Oh fuck..."

“Catch me, Lord, catch me!! Oh fuck…”

Flash-forward 30+ years, and you won’t catch me jumping off any fucking swings. Honestly, I probably couldn’t even fit on the swing in the first place. If I did manage to squeeze my ass on the thing and get to swinging, I shudder to imagine what would happen if I was stupid enough to jump off. There would be one hell of an impact when I hit the ground, leaving a Jeremy the Loner-shaped crater and a humongous dust cloud. I’m not saying it would rival the impact of the meteor that killed off the dinosaurs, but I’m assuming there would be a dust cloud over the entire southern Michigan region for at least a week. Meanwhile, I’d be lying there with two broken ankles, moaning, “Why did I just jump off that swing?”

My bedroom was upstairs when I was a kid, and I very rarely walked up the staircase to get there. That would have taken way too much time. Instead, I’d race up the stairs like a bat out of hell, taking those steps two at a time. I’d come down the stairs much the same way, many times grabbing the metal bannister on the staircase when I got toward the bottom, swinging through the air in a graceful arc and hitting the living room floor with an earth-shattering BOOM. My parents used to get pissed about it. My mom would call me to dinner and it would sound like a fucking bison bounding down the steps. One time my dad got so uptight about it, he made me walk up and down the stairs 20 times in a row. He actually had to force me to not run up and down the steps.

I live in an apartment on the 3rd floor these days, and you sure as hell won’t see me racing up the steps at my age, even if I’m all jacked up on crystal meth or something. Are you kidding me?? If I tried, I’d get about halfway there before collapsing flat on my face, gasping for air. Climbing stairs is a very cautious, deliberate act now, especially when my arms are loaded with groceries and my left knee is making me wince in pain with every slow step. The whole time I’m plodding up the stairs, I’m thinking to myself, “Next time, get a place on a lower floor.”

This is a timeless rite of passage for any young boy, and it can take a number of different forms. A lot of kids like to play tackle football sans equipment, but that wasn’t my thing. I was never into football… too many rules. But I do remember one particular game a bunch of us used to play. It went by a number of different names (including the politically incorrect “Smear the Queer”), but we called it “Kill the Guy.” The object was very simple; the kid who was “it” would stand at one end of the yard, while all the other kids stood at the other. When the signal was given, all the kids would run toward the “it” kid, who would try to tackle one of them by any means necessary. If he managed to take someone down, that person would have to join the “it” side. The ritual would repeat over and over, until everybody got a chance to get demolished or someone’s mom saw what we were doing and yelled at us. Whichever came first.

Oh no, WE KILLED JOEY!! Wait... did I just hear the Ice Cream Man down the street?? Yay!"

Wait… did I just hear the Ice Cream Man down the street?? Yay!”

I took many a lump playing this game, but I dished out quite a few, too. It was strangely satisfying to run full speed across the yard and level some poor bastard face first in the dirt. What’s a few bloody noses and bruises among friends? Our bodies could handle any abuse we’d dish out at them, with no sore bones to deal with the next day. I guess I figured it was always gonna be that way.

Well… you won’t see me tackling anybody these days, unless they try to snatch my beer and run off with it. And the ONLY time you’ll see me running full speed is if someone is chasing me with a weapon, or there’s a rabid dog looking to bite a chunk out of my ass.

So yeah, getting old sucks. I think I was trying to make a greater point with this blog, but I started writing this over an hour ago and I forgot what that shit was. I guess this means my mind is going too, as well as my hair. My whole fucking head is going downhill.

Reflections on a Hungry Howie’s Box

Posted in Uncategorized on June 3, 2013 by Jeremy the Loner

Nothing ever stays the same.

 Last night for the first time in eons, I ordered a Hungry Howie’s pizza. This isn’t something I normally do; the pizza is pretty decent overall, but it’s as expensive as shit and what they deem as “large” is roughly the same circumference as a silver dollar. I’m not a cheap guy, but I get a bit miffed when I spend seventeen bucks on a pizza smaller than a drink coaster. I mean, I don’t expect the fucking thing to the size of a manhole cover, but I should at least be able to get a few meals out of it, right?

 So, I sprung for the EXTRA large (ooooooh!), and as I was packing some cold pizza to bring with me to lunch today, I noticed a distressing thing; the Hungry Howie’s logo is different than I remember, and I DON’T LIKE IT. Take a look at this…

I will eat this pizza. And your children.

I will eat this pizza. And your children.

 This is the Hungry Howie that I remember. Look at how crazed that motherfucker is! He was so ravenous for that pizza, he didn’t even bother with useless details such as slicing it into pieces, he just stuck his head right through the bottom of it. Notice the crazy look in his eyes and the way he’s manically licking his chops. I get the feeling he’s going to see the pizza around his neck and start tearing into it like a great white shark all hepped up on cocaine. He’ll be rolling all over the floor, snapping his teeth at anything pizza-related that comes within biting distance. He might even accidentally sever his own jugular during this unhinged pizza lust, the poor starving bastard. See now, THAT’S a logo. That’s the way I remember it, and that’s the way I like it.

 But just take a look at “Hungry Howie” now;

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Does he look hungry to you? There’s nary a pizza in sight, and the crazy gleam in his eyes is gone. Hell, he looks almost bored. He has a slight smile on his face, but he could be looking at anything. Maybe he’s watching the clouds roll by. Maybe he’s watching a squirrel attempting to hump a gopher and he’s mildly amused by it. Either way, if you put a pizza in front of him, he’d probably look at it and say, “Pizza. Whoop-dee-fucking-doo.” I’m not even sure this is “Hungry Howie,” to be honest with you. Perhaps it’s the original Howie’s son, who had to take over when his dad lost his shit, couldn’t wait for the pizza to finish cooking and crawled right into the pizza oven after it. I can’t say for sure what happened, but I like the old logo better.

 The old logos are ALWAYS better. Remember Aunt Jemima? Of course you do! Many is the morning I’d be having some pancakes or waffles, while this image peered up at me. It was oddly comforting. I know this is a fictional character and all, but you can’t tell me this woman wouldn’t make you one hell of a breakfast. Pancakes, sausage, eggs, bacon, the whole works. I’ll bet her grits are to DIE for.

Your childhood was politically incorrect.

Your childhood was politically incorrect.

 But even Aunt Jemima went and changed on me. She no longer resembles Hattie McDaniel in Gone With the Wind. The last time I saw her, she got younger, slimmed down and and turned into a PTA mom or some shit. Just look at her! She could be married to the president! If I asked her to cook me some breakfast, she’d probably get all offended and tell me to fuck off.

Aunt Jemima, Professor of microbiology, Stanford University.

Aunt Jemima, Professor of microbiology, Stanford University.

I’m probably just old and set in my ways, but advertisers need to stop this shit. They “updated” Bazooka Joe. They changed Kool-Aid Man. The next thing you know, Super Mario is gonna look like some gelled-up Guido from Jersey Shore

 I’d better stop writing now. I’m getting myself all pissed off again.

Saint Valentine Ain’t No Friend of Mine

Posted in Uncategorized on February 14, 2013 by Jeremy the Loner

The “beaten men” are out in force today. See them for yourself.

"Watch out for the ones with coconut!! Ewwww!!!"

“Watch out for the ones with coconut!! Ewwww!!!”

These men will be easily spotted all day, but mostly between the hours of 4pm to 6pm. You won’t be able to miss them if you’re out and about. Look for them at your local CVS or grocery store, standing in line with the other guys, a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a pink card in one hand, perhaps some roses wrapped in clear plastic in the other. Their faces will look stubbly and tired, with this one last chore standing before them and the end of the work day. None of them will seem particularly happy to be there. Afterward, they’ll lug their purchases out to the parking lot, where they’ll joylessly scribble their name (along with some x’s and o’s) inside the card and scrape the rectangular price tag from the chocolates using their thumbnails. This is an annual ritual with them, born mostly out of fear. You know what that fear is? Having to face a woman empty-handed on February-the-Fucking-14th.

It’s supposedly St. Valentine’s Day, but really, what does that mean? Most of these guys have no idea who the fuck Saint Valentine even was. They have no idea why they’re expected to buy chocolates and flowers today, just like they have no idea why they get blasted every year on St. Patty’s. It’s just something that people do, so they go along with it. It’s a lot like organized religion in that sense; “Don’t ask questions. Just do it.” You can be the most romantic guy in the world all year long, but God help you if you fuck this day up. Oh sure, some women put on a great front, saying they don’t care about “Hallmark Holidays” like this one. Don’t you believe that shit for one second, though. Regardless of what they tell you, they’ll get on the phone with their girlfriends or their mom, and the question will inevitably come up; “What did he do for you on Valentine’s Day?” If your woman doesn’t have a romantic, “awwwwwww” inspiring answer to this query, you’ll instantly go from a pretty decent guy to the biggest, most selfish prick in the universe. Whether or not she did anything for YOU is immaterial. It’s called a holiday for lovers, but believe me, Valentine’s Day is for WOMEN. The only participation men have in the whole thing is through their wallets.

I refuse to accept romantic assistance from a naked, winged baby.

I refuse to accept romantic assistance from a naked, winged baby.

You know how you can tell it’s all for women? The “red and pink” color scheme alone is a dead giveaway. Women love pink, men avoid it like the plague. It’s not our fault; we’re conditioned that way from the time we’re little boys. I remember, for example, being a kid and excitedly checking out the toy aisle at Kmart for the latest He-Man action figures. Sometimes in my zeal, I’d make a wrong turn and accidentally end up in the… *shudder*… girls’ section. There was no mistaking it. The whole fucking aisle would be hot pink, with Barbie and Strawberry Shortcake dolls staring down at me as I uncomfortably looked for the closest exit. I couldn’t get out of that aisle fast enough… I mean, what if one of my buddies saw me?? It’s the exact same reaction the adult version of me has when I accidentally walk down the feminine hygiene aisle while grocery shopping. The Valentine’s Day section at Kroger is much the same as the Barbie aisle, at least as far as the color scheme goes. If you happen to visit Kroger today, take note of how ill at ease the guys look as they paw through the boxes of candy. They hate standing in an aisle full of pink shit, trust me. They hate anything colored pink, except for… you know, that certain part of the female… uh… ahem. I think we both know where I was going with that.

Now, you’d think the chocolates, the flowers and the card would be enough to pacify a woman, but unless your special lady is very low-maintenance, you’re probably not off the hook quite yet. Some of them (i.e. “the hotties”) expect jewelry, like maybe diamond earrings or some shit. (What is it with women and diamonds?) At the very least, a nice dinner will be an expected part of the evening. A few lucky bastards have women they will actually cook a romantic dinner for them (fuckers), but most guys will have to buy one… at least, they will if they expect to eat tonight. If your woman is reasonable, you’ll be able to get away with something like Applebee’s or Red Lobster. The really whipped guys will end up at some fancy-dancy restaurant where they’ll sit glumly in their jacket and tie, looking at the wine list and thinking, “Jesus Christ, I wish I was at home having a beer and watching TV.”

Look at how fancy this shit is.

Look at how fancy this shit is.

I think men need to start rebelling against what’s expected of us. Who made up these “rules,” anyway? Why not try bucking tradition for once? Take a fucking chance!! I stopped by McDonald’s last week and inside the bag was an invitation for a McDonald’s Valentine’s Day Dinner right there in the restaurant, complete with candles and everything. How many guys do you think actually had the iron balls to suggest that to their significant others? Just imagine, you tell your lady that you’re taking her out for a nice dinner, and then you “surprise” her with a trip to a fucking fast food place. I can just hear it now; “No, no, honey, this is a special night! No Quarter Pounders for us, nope! I think we should order a couple of those fancy ANGUS burgers!” The glare she’d give you as the candlelight illuminated her red face and her french fries would be even icier than your large Coke. On the bright side, you probably wouldn’t have to worry about Valentine’s Day the following year…

I know, I know, it’s easy for a “perpetually single” loser like myself to spout worthless advice. But single or not, you won’t see me jumping through hoops every February 14th. Fuck that shit. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have some dinner by myself and go to bed alone.

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