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Preview: Crankster


The ongoing adventures of a southern academic transplanted to New York. A search for meaning, culture, humanity, and a great meal for under ten dollars.

Updated: 2016-11-16T09:28:16.104-05:00


So long! Farewell! Auf Weidersehen, Goodbye!


As some of you have pointed out, it's been a while since I last posted. To be honest, I've more or less decided that it's time for me to move on from Crankster. I started this blog when I was hitting my mid-thirties, living in southwest Virginia, and seriously afraid that I was turning into an old man. It was a place to put those worries, talk them out with the world, and generally stop my

Mister Smith's, Rest in Peace


As I was clearing out my blog, I came across this old post. I think I held off on running it because I wanted to tell a much longer story. In retrospect, though, I think it gives a good glimpse of the meeting of a few bloggers.I feel like Lee gets short shrift here, to which I can only say that meeting her, both on this day and on other days since, has been a huge joy. She's a pretty amazing

Better Crackhomes and Gardens


This is another old post that I came across. It highlights some of the burned out places in my neighborhood. Since we moved in, however, all of these old houses have been demolished, leaving behind vacant lots.

Mrs. Palin, are you trying to seduce me?


This picture appeared in the New York Daily Post today. Yes, those are Sarah Palin's legs and that is, indeed, a young Republican. And, yes, this is photojournalism at its finest.

Thesis, Article, Movies, and My Stern, Stern Daughter


It's been a really good day. Early this morning, I got an e-mail from an editor who wants to publish the first half of my Master's thesis in a journal. Granted, it doesn't really pay, and I'm not really working on climbing the academic ladder anymore, but it's still kind of nice. I'm thinking of sending a copy to the jackass second reader who made me jump through a few flaming hoops during the

The Latest


Everyone-For everyone whose been checking in, thanks for visiting. As I imagine you can guess, things have been a little hectic of late. I'm still working on making the freelance writing thing pay, and we're still living in the Bronx. In an interesting surprise twist, my sister Ella has left Pennsylvania and is now shuttling back and forth between my sister Sue's place in Connecticut, my

Dona Nobis Pacem


The wonderful CEO, a great soul if ever I knew one, sent this to me yesterday:Best wishes to all of you and to everyone you love.Crankster

A Sense of Proportion


Sometimes I'm amazed by the things that upset me and the things that don't. A couple of weeks after I moved to the Bronx, my sister Ella drove my old Mustang up for me. It was a 1990 LX convertible with high mileage, a scarred paint job and a missing back window. In spite of its shortcomings, it drove well, and I was hoping to sell it for a thousand dollars or so. I put an ad in Craig's list,

Scary, scary random family


For the last year or so, I've been conducting a survey of literature about, inspired by, or written by residents of the Bronx. While I've occasionally gotten off track, I've worked through a lot of what's out there, from a re-read of Poe's "Annabelle Lee" and "The Bells," both of which were written about a block from my house, to Abraham Rodriguez's oeuvre, which I'm pretty sure will become

Yet Another Ella Video


Here's another Ella video. Once you get past the extremely serious opening, it gets pretty weird. Gotta admit, it's bizarre seeing my sister in makeup and a bikini. I love that my sister never ceases to amaze me.

Ghetto Booty


Let me start off by saying that it's not my fault.Having spent half of my life living in the vicinity of Blacksburg, Virginia, I have picked up some generalized concepts of beauty. You see, Blacksburg is a college town; this means that, every year, the little burg of 20,000 or so is deluged with a demographic tidal wave of people between the ages of eighteen and 21. From the middle of August on

Ella's Latest Video


You know how, in my last post, I talked about Ella and her new bile paintings? You probably thought that I was joking, right?Wrong.Here's her latest video, which documents her bile postcard project: Weird kid. She keeps trying to blame me.

Ella: The Saga Continues


It's interesting: Isaac Asimov is credited with the saying "The only constant is change," but the sentiment, in a variety of words, goes back to at least Plato. I wonder if perhaps the only constant is plagiarism.At any rate, changes have been coming fast and free in 2008. In Ella news, the January operation didn't really do much. She came out of her endoscopy in perfect, if totally unchanged,

A Mini Rant


Here are a few signs that your Optometrist is a scheming sack of shit:1. When you check in for your appointment, they ask you about insurance before they ask your name.2. They double check to see if you're insured before they dilate your eyes.3. They hesitate to mention any conditions you might have until after they' guessed it, checked that you're insured.4. They try to hard sell you on

A Little Shout-Out


I try to avoid stealing blog ideas, but I'm about to make an exception. Recently, the great Jamiesmitten linked to Goodbye Art by Phil Hansen. This guy is fantastic. Basically, he makes temporary art and then destroys it. In addition to photos documenting his art, he also has videos showing how he made it. Here's his portrait of Amy Winehouse, which he carved from frozen red wine, filled in



My wife subscribes to numerous magazines, most of which I don't read. However, there are times when I find myself in the bath or eating breakfast, and an issue of Oprah, Glamour, Lucky, or Romantic Times Book Review just happens to be sitting nearby. While I sometimes read a bit, I often just get a kick from checking out the article titles. For example, this month's Romantic Times Book Review

In Praise of Hospital Cafeterias


Well, Ella had her latest "procedure" on Friday and came out with flying colors. Unfortunately, the operation--a combination endoscopy and choledochoscopy with a side of general anaesthetic--didn't do jack, but at least she is no worse off than she was before. I intend to write far more about Ella and the delights of modern medicine, but that is for another day. For now, I want to offer some

Maybe a little too dark...


Nota Bene: So I decided to write a Walletpop post about saving money on funerals. However, my wife argued that this was more ideally suited to my blog. Having organized my parents' funerals, I discovered fairly early on that dark humor was my way of getting through the tough times. However, the wife thought that this seemed seemed a little insensitive. Looking over it again, I think that

Something Funny


I try to avoid talking about politics. This isn't because I don't have strong political convictions or definite ideas about the path my country is following. Rather, I think that political discussion has largely been replaced by dogmatic trumpeting. All too often, I see two people holding intractable positions and refusing to budge. For discussion to work, both sides have to be willing to

Christmas Values


Although I am a liberal, and therefore officially immoral, I have always considered myself a values-based kind of guy. And during this season, when the long, frozen winter nights give me a lot of time to think about my values, I like to consider the things that are really meaningful.Values are fundamental and basic. They can't be bought or sold, and they're the things that stay with you long

Happy New Year!


Please excuse my silence over the last few weeks. I could offer all sorts of excuses, but I won't. You, my loyal readers, deserve the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And now, without shame or hesitancy, I will give it to you:I was locked in a life-and-death struggle with 2007.I imagine that this seems to be a joke; on some levels it is. However, there is more than a grain

A Writing Gig


Well, I'm off tomorrow to see Ella. I still haven't packed, need to shower, and want to finish cleaning up the place before I go to bed in 45 minutes or so. In other words, it's business as usual for the night before a trip.The temp job goes on, but I've moved on to a new part of the filing routine, so it was a little more fun today. I've got a line on a good job that will give me a lot of



Whenever I take a little time away from blogging, my brain fills up with all sorts of weird useless screeds that I feel the need to download. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of time to do so right now, so here are three things that are currently floating around, in no particular order:1. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I had started reading Raymond Chandler. Well, last week I finished.

The Bottomless Well of Raw Stupidity


Last week, Verizon screwed up and wiped out service for my entire building. This being the Bronx, and Verizon being...well, Verizon, our phones and internet were out for four days or so, during which I was only able to access the internet through the generous offices of the New York Public Library. Added to this, I am currently doing a temp job in the Human Resources department of a large

Edison Arms


Recently, I was reading about my area of the Bronx, and I came across an interesting historical tidbit. It turns out that Thomas Edison's largest movie studio, which was built in 1907, was located on the corner of Decatur Avenue and Oliver Place, only a few blocks from my apartment. In 1910, the Edison company filmed the first Frankenstein movie in this studio. Later, they used it to film the