Monthly Archives: March 2022


Now that we’ve all decided that Ukraine represents David battling the Goliath that is Russia, and that Ukrainian President Zelensky is — take your pick — Superman or People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive,” I’m wondering how long before we start getting negative stories about Ukraine in general and about Zelensky in particular.

You know it’s just a matter of time.

Actually, the negative stories are already out there.

How’s this for a not-so-nice story:






I can’t decide if Sebastian Gorka is pulling our collective leg in his most recent commercial for Relief Factor, or if he actually believes what he’s saying.

Either way, if you look up “pompous ass” in your dictionary (assuming anyone still does that), you’d have to find a picture of Gorka.

The only thing missing from this ad is the superimposition of God’s– er, Gorka’s head on Mount Rushmore:







Twitter is banning everyone on the right for their political views. Again.

So how come Rip got banned for simply pointing out that Kristi Noem has nice tits?




The Grouch is inflicting another short story on the world. Check out “The Hot Tub,” if you are so inclined. 

Here’s a complete list of his short stories with links (in green):



 . Rusty  “Rusty” — Happy times in suburbia.


. revelation   “Revelation” — Unhappy times in suburbia.


. homebodies   “Homebodies” — The people next door.


. ass   “The Porthole” — Be careful what you wish for.


. the ufo   “The UFO” — Stand by me … and a UFO.


. Tales From Grouch   “Carol Comes Home” — The spirit of Norman Bates.


. thwup   “Thwup!” — The case for eating more (or less) beans.


. Wisdom   “Wisdom” — Cabin in the woods.


.        “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”  Thelma helps a guest.


. Americans    “The Americans”  — Kevin goes for the gold.


.        “Margaret” — The greatest love story of all time?


. Asmat     “The Hot Tub”  — Elites enjoy some “quality time.”



© 2010-2024 (text only)



The Hot Tub

by J.D.H.


“I want. To use. The fucking! Hot tub!” barked the stunning woman on the fancy sofa. “Is the fucking hot tub ready? Will the fucking hot tub ever be ready?”

Mike Zipperstein looked at her out of the corner his eye. Even though he was the second-richest man on Earth, and despite the fact that his corporate creation, “Mega,” was the most-powerful communications entity in the civilized world, Zipperstein was intimidated by this woman. At heart, Zipperstein was still an awkward teen, and this lady with the fury in her eyes sent him straight back to his high-school insecurities.

Luckily for Mike, he and this famous, snarling female were not alone in the bunker lounge. There was a third person, Ben Jurion, sitting quietly in a corner, calmly watching Carly Cocoon as she glared at both men. And ranted.

Also, luckily for him, Mike knew that whenever he felt the need, he could retreat, in his mind, to the comfort of numbers and algorithms. Or to mental images of dirty pictures that people posted on the Internet.

Zipperstein owned the world’s largest collection of dirty pictures, because he and his company had access to every nude selfie ever posted by every man and woman on the planet. Even the supposedly deleted ones. Especially the deleted ones.

But his collection of naughty photos and videos was an escape, just a hobby. This angry woman on the sofa, ranting about the hot tub, was here in the flesh. Six feet away from him. She was terrifying.




Nude selfies were nothing to Carly Cocoon; she did not have a sex tape on the Internet, she had seven sex tapes on the Internet. There were hundreds — probably thousands — of naked pictures of her online. Mike had watched all of her sex tapes, but that did nothing to alleviate his current anxiety. If anything, the memories of Carly Cocoon in bed with her lovers caused him to perspire and lock down.

“Will someone please go up and find out?”

Ben Jurion sighed and addressed Carly Cocoon directly: “I checked with Montenegro this morning. He said ‘soon.’ But I’ll go up and check again.”




Ben Jurion, middle-aged, nondescript, and a filthy-rich industrialist, left the bunker’s sitting room and entered a cement-walled hallway. Not for the first time, he wondered if the hellish world above might not be preferable to the hellish world below, in which he was trapped with eight of the world’s wealthiest people.

Of course, there were nuclear explosions above, and biological terrors and chemical terrors and, worst of all, no one in control. But the fallout in this underground, New Guinea jungle hideaway, emanating from the pampered, privileged “lucky ones,” was often unbearable. He had endured weeks of it.

Ben rode the elevator to land-level, and addressed the swarthy Montenegro, who stood vigil at the main door. A computerized meter on the wall showed outdoor radiation at green, or “safe,” levels.

“Afternoon, Monty,” said Ben Jurion. He looked down at the floor and sighed. “She wants to use the Jacuzzi. She wants the fresh air. It would be a blessing to all of us if we could get rid of her for a time.”

Montenegro squinted at Ben Jurion, who was just about the only rich bastard in the bunker that he could stomach. He exhaled smoke from his cigarette and smiled at the industrialist. “Couple more hours, Mr. Jurion. Let my people make sure the locals are clear of here. Everything should be fine.”




Zipperstein couldn’t comprehend it. The bunker, obviously with limitations, and not exactly a private resort in the Caribbean, was nevertheless luxurious. It had every generator-operated convenience: gigantic televisions and movie screens, a swimming pool, a game room, a bar, a restaurant (with two chefs), and too many bedrooms to count.

And yet Carly Cocoon, despite laying claim to the largest bedroom in the shelter, was undressing right in front of him, here in the sitting room. She was stripping to prepare for the coveted hot tub, of which it was now apparently safe to use. She bent to retrieve some article of clothing from the floor and jutted her (rather large) buttocks just inches from Mike’s face.

His eyes narrowed as he examined a mark on one butt-cheek. It was a small, pink tattoo in a floral pattern. A rose, he decided.

Without turning around, she said: “Do you ‘like’ what you see, Mr. Mega? Would you like to ‘friend’ me?’”

She stood up and faced him. She winked at him.

“Do you think my ass is fat? Some people say it is.”

No reply. Also, no eye contact.

She saw he was beginning to sweat. Profusely. “Aww, you’re just a little boy, aren’t you?” She smiled and with one hand swept aside her long, brunette hair. “I like that. I like you. I want to friend you.”

Mike mustered a gulp.




It wasn’t only Carly Cocoon; everyone in the bunker wanted to use the hot tub (save Ben Jurion, who chose to remain below in the bunker). It wasn’t just the comfort of warm, bubbling water that appealed; nor the cushioned headrests and massaging jets of the Jacuzzi. It was the rare opportunity to breathe fresh air. The hot tub was an excuse. Compared to the claustrophobic confines of their underground shelter, the outdoors was a beckoning Eden. It had been weeks since any of them had experienced fresh air.

So, in the tub they all (save Ben Jurion) now sat: Zipperstein; Carly Cocoon; computer mogul Will Bates; weapons dealer Steele Dropp; Mrs. Steele Dropp; Steele Dropp’s girlfriend, the actress Ginnifer Florence; a politician none of them knew; and the comedian Phil Moseby, who appeared to be asleep.

Will Bates surveyed his companions and inwardly smiled. He was the smartest person in the group, no doubt. Will knew this because everyone always told him how smart he was for turning his little startup, MicroPens, into what it was today: MaxiPads. Computer software and hardware. He became the world’s richest man. If you were smart enough to become the world’s richest man, then you must be the world’s smartest man. That was simple logic.

And so, Bates eventually took on politics and economics and ecology, because the world expected the world’s smartest man to solve its problems. And Will agreed with the world.




Bates looked at youthful Mike Zipperstein and smiled again. Once upon a time, Will had been like Mike, socially awkward and insecure, especially around females. In time, thought Will, you will mature, and I’ll pass the torch to you.

Zipperstein, for his part, could only summon the courage to periodically glance at the great Will Bates. Bates was Zipperstein’s idol, a man of whom he had been in awe since childhood.

Everyone seemed relaxed in the hot tub. Now might be a good time for Mike to pose a question to his hero: “Mr. Bates, how long do you think we’ll have to stay here? In New Guinea, I mean.”

Bates smiled at the young man. He looked at the others and said, “Boom chucka. Boom chucka boom.”

Everyone laughed at this, save the arms dealer, who simply stared at Bates.

“That’s just … gibberish,” said Steele Dropp.

Bates replied, “I’m the world’s smartest man.”

“You’re the world’s richest man,” said Dropp.

Bates smiled. “And the difference is?”

No one had an answer to this.

Carly Cocoon cut in: “I’m the world’s most famous woman.”

Everyone stared at her breasts.




Bates studied the brassy woman with the artificial breasts. He did not care for her. He preferred the girls who worked in his office, fresh out of college, naïve, and starstruck by him.

The woman he looked at now in the hot tub was born into wealth. She hadn’t scraped and clawed her way to the top, like he had. She had privilege and was what they called a feminist. “Feminazi,” thought Bates. Spoiled and, thanks to Instagram and Tik Tok and such, on the ascendency in American culture. One of her kind was even in Congress, representing Brooklyn or some such liberal hotbed.

It was a gradual process, but effective, rued Bates. The world was hypnotized by youth and beauty and, in the face of crumbling norms and institutions, ordinary people foolishly turned to youth and beauty to save the planet. Big mistake, Bates thought. The world needed brains to solve its problems. And everyone knew that Will Bates was the world’s smartest man.

Bates tried his best to avoid this woman in the hot tub, who had risen to prominence on reality TV. But that was near-impossible in this hell hole in the middle of nowhere.




Ginnifer Florence surveyed her companions in the Jacuzzi. She considered what they had in common: money. Certainly not their politics. Nor their backgrounds. Nor their appearance. Nor their age.

She looked at the elderly black man slumped in the water across from her. His name was Phil Moseby, and he had been a well-known comedian back in his day, long before Ginnifer’s time.

There had been some kind of sex scandal, and now the old man was disgraced. Since they had arrived at their New Guinea sanctuary, Ginnifer had never seen him awake. Right now, his eyes were shut and his chin was submerged in the bubbling water.

The man’s past did not concern Ginnifer. He appeared harmless, and Ginnifer’s good friend, the producer Marvin Bernstein, had also been embroiled in a sex scandal — many of them, actually — so that sort of thing was nothing new to her. She had been through a scandal or two of her own.

None of it mattered now, anyway. They were removed from the cares and concerns of the world because they had that one thing in common. Money.




Ginnifer was afraid that the sleeping comedian might drown. The lower half of his face kept dipping beneath the surface of the water. She turned to the others: “What’s wrong with him?”

Bates answered: “BCI implant. Didn’t take. Sometimes he’ll speak, say something nonsensical.”

“Yes!” cried Steele Dropp’s girlfriend. “He keeps saying ‘Jell-O.’”




Steele Dropp took a sip of iced tea and squinted at his latest conquest, the starlet from Hollywood. He couldn’t prove it, but he was reasonably certain that she was banging Montenegro’s son, an 18-year-old boy responsible for operating the bunker’s generators and ventilation system.

That was OK by Dropp; he was too old and exhausted to satisfy both his wife and the insatiable Ginnifer.




Meanwhile, in a jungle clearing not far from the elites’ hot tub, Montenegro conferred with a small group of Asmat tribal elders. He was showing them a video on his cell phone, in which some sort of experiment was being conducted.

“It’s called ‘the boiling frog,’” explained Montenegro in the Asmats’ native tongue. “Let me read to you from Wikipedia —


‘The boiling frog is an apologue describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of sinister threats that arise gradually rather than suddenly.

‘While some 19th-century experiments suggested that the underlying premise is true if the heating is sufficiently gradual, according to modern biologists the premise is false: a frog that is gradually heated will jump out.’”


“Then it won’t work!” cried one of the Asmat.

Montenegro clicked on his screen to a video, recording from a camera above the hot tub. As the elites began to grow uncomfortable from the warming water, Montenegro pushed a button and a glass lid arced down, securing all eight of them in a domed semi-circle.

“Now it will,” chuckled Montenegro.




The Asmat — men, women and children — sat on the ground and enjoyed their feast. One young member of the tribe plucked a particularly juicy slab of meat from the spit and began to chew on it.

Boiled human flesh was a delicacy, and everyone was in good spirits. The Asmat, after all, were one of the last known tribes of cannibals on Earth.

The young man gnawed his meat and said to the fellow on his right: “This is rump, I can tell. Not bad. But a bit fatty.”

The other fellow stared at his companion’s slice of steak and frowned. “What is that?”

The young man smiled and replied: “Looks like a picture of a flower.” He sank his teeth into it. “I like it.”








Click here for the index of short stories.

Click here to see all of the stories.


© 2010-2024 (text only)


Feeling Fatalistic


I can’t bring myself to write about the news this week, because it doesn’t seem to matter what any of us say. Our illustrious “leaders” are going to do what they’re going to do, no matter what. Complaining all the time is tiresome.

I am feeling fatalistic.

Instead, let me blabber about what the kids are interested in — HBO’s Euphoria.




Feeling Euphoric


It was free-preview weekend on my cable service, so I checked out the teen-targeted Euphoria.

It seems clear that the show is Bret Easton Ellis for the Internet generation. Lots of young people doing drugs; lots of young people having sex; lots of teen angst.

My issue is with this message from the show’s creators: This is reality. Most of real life is awful. Watch miserable things happen to miserable teens on our show so that you’ll know you aren’t alone.

I have no doubt that the dreadful things and despicable people in Euphoria reflect dreadful things and despicable people in real life, but to pretend that this is exclusive “reality,” and we are all just stuck with it and so we might as well wallow in Euphoria’s misery is just … stupid.

And yet … there is something addictive about watching attractive young people doing bad or stupid things. And this show is very well made. Like the drugs it depicts, Euphoria is mesmerizing. It’s only later that you wonder, “why did I indulge in that crap?”





Meanwhile, star Sydney Sweeney was in the news, complaining, but not really complaining, about her numerous nude scenes in the show. Here are some shots of Sydney in Euphoria:



I suspect that many fans of the show, primarily its male fans, aren’t so much interested in Euphoria’s bleak worldview as they are in actress Sydney. Below, an excerpt from E! Online:



The problem with that cliched comment, which we hear from actresses all the time, is that, sure, you and your character are “separate people.” But you share the same body. We’ll bet that baby brother Trent can’t tell the difference.


Above, actor Algee Smith enjoys some Sydney Sweeney.


Sydney does not seem to enjoy some Algee Smith.


Above, Sydney has some back-door action with a different actor.


But why look at pictures when you can watch the video?




Juan Williams must have had a rough weekend.

Special Report with Bret Baier was on the TV but I wasn’t watching, just listening, when I could swear that I heard Williams issue a loud, involuntary snort smack-dab in the middle of something he was saying.

Sadly, I wasn’t recording the show (March 14, 5:55 p.m. Central time, if you want to look for it).

I thought I might find a clip on YouTube, but no such luck. I did, however, find this clip — from a different show on the same day:



© 2010-2024 (text only)


by Barry Eisler


I guess if you’re a fan of this kind of fiction (I generally am not), you could do worse than the generically titled The Chaos Kind. Or perhaps not.

Stop me if any of this sounds familiar: We meet a tough-guy operative named Dox, a sniper who works for the government and who is very tough. But he is hilarious; so hilarious, in fact, that we are repeatedly reminded of his great wit. We also meet a deaf man who is likewise a hired killer and who is even tougher than Dox. And we meet a hulking man who might be the toughest of them all.

And the women! Oh, my, these members of the killing team might seem girly on the outside, but don’t you dare mess with them. In some ways, they are even tougher than the men!

But not to worry; despite their violent skills, deep down they all have hearts of gold. They like animals, young children, and victims of sexual abuse. In this book, they are out to save the world from a Jeffrey Epstein-like predator/mogul who has videos of powerful men abusing young girls. There are lots of standoffs and shootouts.

Problem is, the characters are all so interchangeable, all so one-dimensional, that reading the book is a mind-numbing waste of time.


© 2010-2024 (text only)


Nightmare Alley


Critics love movies like this one because they check so many boxes: impressive cinematography, big stars, somber tone, striking art direction, etc.

Let me add a few boxes of my own: Nightmare Alley is too long, there are very few, if any, relatable characters, and did I mention that it’s too damn long?

That’s a bit harsh. As always in any Guillermo del Toro film, the visuals are gorgeous. The subject matter does require a serious tone. And yet ….

I kept comparing the movie to Double Indemnity, another noir about a doomed con man (in Alley, the grifter is played by Bradley Cooper). Fred MacMurray’s insurance agent in Indemnity had a more wrenching downfall because — until he fell into the clutches of femme fatale Barbara Stanwyck — he was an average Joe. He was relatable. Cooper’s con artist is a bad egg from the start, so it’s hard to much care when things go sour for him. Release: 2021 Grade: B




Werewolves Within


A small group of local yokels are trapped in a snowbound country inn — and one of them is a surreptitious werewolf. What’s not to like about that setup?

Werewolves is silly and predictable and yes, you’ve seen it all before, but in the hands of director Josh Ruben, it feels fresh and fun. Release: 2021 Grade: B+


© 2010-2024 (text only)



Now they are talking about World War III.

I told you we’d miss 2021.




Our beloved “leaders” keep doing things that make no sense, which seem counterproductive, even harmful to their own constituents. Why do they do that?

In the past, I would have guessed that these “elites” act irrationally because someone (China?) has something on them. Some damaging dirt. Career-ruining blackmail material.

But these days, it seems that if we learn Bill Clinton was having sex with children every day for ten years, we’ll issue a collective sigh and wait for the next outrage. Ditto for Donald Trump and the peeing Russian hookers — will we simply yawn if actual evidence emerges? None of these honchos ever gets punished, so why should we even care?

Our leaders have no shame; they simply want to run the world. And get rich. And get laid.





Rip keeps getting suspended by Twitter. Getting reinstated is a pain in the ass. Perhaps he’ll just hang out at Gab or Parler or GETTR or Trump’s new site — if it ever gets off the ground.



Well, Rip wasn’t wrong, was he?


© 2010-2024 (text only)



How to Sway Public Opinion (for war)


Do This:

Broadcast videos of Ukrainian mothers holding babies, apartments bombed into rubble, and young females wielding firearms as a means to defend their country.

Endlessly replay videos of your leader bravely standing up to evil Vladimir Putin, vowing to defend Ukraine to the death.


Do Not Do This:



Broadcast videos of Uyghur concentration camps in China.

Broadcast videos of Mexican teenage girls being raped by coyotes or cartel members as they are steered across the porous U.S.-Mexico border.


If you do the former, you can convince good-hearted Americans that we must wage war with Russia to help a country we know next to nothing about.

If you do the latter, you might remind Americans that there are bigger threats to our national security than the mess in Europe.


Of course, if it turns out that Putin really has gone off the deep end and is planning to nuke Milwaukee … then I take it all back.




But I will say this. It’s refreshing to see a leader, Ukraine’s President Zelensky, who doesn’t run and hide when the going gets tough.

That is unlike Joe Biden, who runs and hides every day from Fox’s Peter Doocy, and Justin Trudeau, who runs and hides from horn-honking truckers.





Netflix, which is raising its subscription price on me, again, has me by the balls. It’s very annoying.

It seems like there is always one show on Netflix that has me hooked. Like Ozark last month. Or Peaky Blinders coming soon.

I don’t want to cancel Netflix because I want to watch those shows.


But the vast majority of stuff I watch on Netflix falls into the same category. For example, here is what I watched last week:

Restless – Not bad. Has its moments. Won’t watch again. Probably won’t recommend.

21 Bridges (above) – Not bad. Has its moments. Won’t watch again. Probably won’t recommend.

The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window – Not bad. Has its moments. Won’t watch again. Probably won’t recommend.


© 2010-2024 (text only)