Endgame

¡Hola, amigos y amigas! ¡Buenos dildos! That means, “very good day,” en español. I have to admit, I’m getting pretty damn good at conjugating nouns and stuff in the language of our adopted country of residence.

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My lovely supermodel wife and I were knocking down wasp nests on the patio a couple of days ago. When we finished in the back, we decided to check out the front of the house. Lo and behold, there was a fucking rat sitting on a ledge in the carport!

Probably Not So Surprising Little Known Fact About Me: I hate rats. I hate rats more than I hate bats. Even more than I detest Donald Trump.

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I read The Donald’s Tweets every morning. I used to call him out for being the reprehensible slob of humanity that he is. And then a couple of absolutely stupefying things happened, even by Trump’s standards.

I will say one thing about America’s current Commander-in-Chief. He is the most accidentally funny President, ever. Too bad his ego won’t let him list that as one of his many great accomplishments.  He’d actually be telling the truth about something.

First, Trump tried to buy Greenland. When the deal fell through, he said he was joking, but yeah, he actually wanted to buy a country! Denmark essentially laughed at him. They probably checked his credit rating…

Second, Trump tweeted his thanks to one of his supporters who said the people of Israel love The Donald like he was the King of Israel, and they love The Donald like he was the second coming of God.

And without a drop of humility, Trump agreed with him.

Since then, I’ve had a change of heart. Instead of chastising the President, I now wholeheartedly encourage him to double down on every petty insult and slur he can’t stop himself from tweeting, to raise his bet on every inane thing he says. I’m hoping his unfettered madness will make him say something that will make even his most ardent, hardcore, comatose, lemming-like supporters stop, scratch their heads, and think:

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Sorry. Back to the rat story…

I just happened to be holding a broom in my hands at the time, and my dental X-ray combat training took over. I charged the rat and smote it mightily with the broom handle, delivering a death blow to the odious rodent.

The rat, who was apparently not even close to being dead, jumped down from the ledge, then jumped up into the engine compartment of my car, disappearing into the maze of components under the hood of my Buick Encore, which was even worse than having a rat living in the carport.

I had a dilemma. I wasn’t about to let that rat continue living, but I had no way to easily confront my enemy to finish it off.

“Now what do we do?” Lea asked. She doesn’t like rats any more than I do.

“I need a gallon of gasoline.”

“Why?” she asked.

“So I can set the car on fire.”

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Many years ago, I admitted a young guy that had been a patient on my unit a couple of times. I think he was schizophrenic, and he usually came in because he was drunk and needed to be detoxed. But this time was different. He was sober, but his neighbors had called the fire department because he had set his motorcycle on fire at the end of his driveway.

After they had extinguished the fire, the fire fighters had called the police.

If you don’t mind me asking, why did you set your motorcycle on fire?

Oh, there’s a simple explanation for that. I couldn’t get it started! I had been working on it for the last couple of weeks, and I just kind of snapped today and poured some gas on it and, you know, set it on fire.

Was it an expensive bike?

No, it wasn’t a brand new Harley or anything. It was a piece of junk that had been in my garage for at least five years. I think I paid maybe fifty bucks for it. It wasn’t running when I bought it. I’m a pretty good mechanic. I figured I could get it running and use it to get around town. Cheap transportation, you know.

Was there a rat in it?

What?!? No, there wasn’t a fucking rat in it. It wouldn’t start!

And that’s when you decided to set it on fire…  

Yeah, well, maybe that wasn’t the best thing to do…

Because your neighbors called the cops..

No, the firemen called the cops! Like it was any of their goddamn business. It was my motorcycle!

Imagine this: You’re driving down the street and you see a motorcycle on fire. What’s the first thing you’d do?

Yeah, okay. I see where you’re going with this. (There was a long silence while he thought about everything.) Say, how long do you think I’m going to be stuck in here?

I don’t know. It probably depends on how many more motorcycles you have.

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In our situation, suffice it to say that cooler heads prevailed. Lea and I eventually came to the conclusion that the rat would probably, hopefully, abandon its’ hiding place in our car once night fell, and it would scurry off into the dark. Hopefully, it would get killed to death by one of the two dozen semi-feral cats that live in the neighborhood.

Our neighbors to the south of Casa Tara feed all of the wild cats in Lower Chula Vista. They have a veritable herd of cats that congregate in their yard. And ours. I always thought our neighbors were a little crazy, but now I think they might be geniuses. The best defense against a rodent infestation is a herd of cats.

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Little Known Fact About Cats and the Black Death: Sometime around the year 1230, Pope Gregory IX issued a papal bull called Vox in Rama. This piece of papal bullshit declared cats to be the instruments of Satan, especially black cats, who were particularly Luciferian in this infallible Pope’s mind. Thousands of cats were killed to death at the order of the Pope, and the rat population of Europe exploded.

The bacteria that cause plague, Yersinia pestis, tend to live inside of fleas that live on rats. Adult fleas live on blood that they suck from their host animal. The plague is generally transmitted by the bite of an infected flea that has abandoned its’ rat for a new food source. Anywhere from 75 to 200 million people in Medieval Europe died from the plague.

As if that wasn’t enough, Gregory IX also established the Inquisition. He was probably the deadliest Pope that ever lived. He could have been the prototype for Thanos, the brutal supervillain in Endgame who had wiped out half of the population of the universe with a snap of his fingers in the previous movie, Avengers: Infinity War.

The only reason I qualify that statement is this planet has had a lots of historical figures that were immensely good at killing.

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For those of you that didn’t know, or who could care less, Avengers: Endgame is the latest release in the Marvel Cinematic Universe®. There have been 23 films in the series, and I’ve seen them all.

The Avengers franchise is the highest-grossing movie series of all time, having grossed over $22.5 billion at the global box office. Endgame is the highest-grossing film of all time, having netted almost $3 billion all by itself.

If you think this is going to be a movie review, you’re going to be very disappointed. Okay. I liked the movie; despite its many flaws about how the TimeSpace continuum works in the quantum universe.

The Radiolab guys would have a blast trying to fill in all the holes in the storyline of Endgame, but that’s their problem, if they choose to accept that mission, not mine. And that’s not what this post is going to be about.

Despite all of their box office success and superpowers, the people of my generation know these modern-day Avengers are nothing but a bunch of posers and wannabes.

These, are the real Avengers: They didn’t need any superpowers. They were British.

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John Steed and Emma Peel, portrayed by Patrick Macnee & Diana Rigg

The Avengers was a British espionage television series that aired from 1961 to 1969. It initially focused on the duo of Dr. David Keel, aided by John Steed, investigating and solving crimes.

Dr. Keel left after the first series; Steed then became the main character. Over the years, he partnered with a succession of intelligent, stylish, assertive women: Cathy Gale, Emma Peel, and Tara King. Emma was the cream of the crop in my mind. Witty, beautiful, and she could kick some serious ass. I fell in love with her at first sight.

And, there was that dream I had about her when I was fifteen. Diana was very, very…  friendly. She was my first celebrity crush. I wonder if she has a Twitter® account?

Diana Rigg also played Lady Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones. She may no longer be young and beautiful, but her biting wit hasn’t lost any of its sharpness. She was an immediate fan favorite, and her character was responsible for the death of the sadistic King Joffrey Baratheon, an act for which I will feel eternal gratitude.

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The results of my colonoscopy are in. No polyps! First time ever for that. I think it’s the Mexican diet. Polyps apparently live in fear of jalapeños, which are used in almost all of the local dishes down here.

I had my procedure done at the Hospital San Antonio, a brand new healthcare facility at the bottom of the hill below our house. The hospital was built by Dr. Carlos Garcia del Castillo, our Family Practice physician. He’s kind of the Milo Minderbinder of Medicine around here.

“Brand new” implies “state-of-the-art,” especially when it comes to medicine. But this is Mexico. The new hospital had the only MRI machine in the Lakeside Area — until they plugged it in — and it kind of exploded, turning several people into giant, mutant green-skinned hulqueros.

It was probably made by LG…  At any rate, you’ll have to go to Guadalajara for an MRI, until Dr. Carlos can get his machine repaired or replaced. It’s probably still under warranty.

The procedure room where my colonoscopy was done is right next to the loading dock in the back of the hospital. The massive door to the loading dock was open wide as I was escorted into the room. A curtain was the only thing separating the procedure room from the rest of the hospital. It was also wide open.

As the medical staff — two doctors and three nurses — were getting ready for my procedure, two dogs trotted into the room and laid down on the floor to watch. The janitor wandered in, mop in hand, to see what was going on and say Hello to everyone. Some random guy selling hats wandered in with him.

I asked the anesthesiologist, his name was Hector, if he could just please put me under. Once I was unconscious, I wouldn’t care who else came into the room to check out my rear end. And who wouldn’t want to see that? Lea tells me I have the cutest butt she’s ever seen, so there’s that.

That’s the “end”game this post is going to be about. My ass is about as American as it gets.

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Just in cases you were wondering, the total cost of my my procedure was $10,500 pesos. Roughly $525 US. You might want to read that again. Five hundred twenty five dollars. Service dogs included at no extra charge.

That’s about how much it costs for one visit to the Emergency Room in the US. Add a lots more money if any actual procedures are done during that visit. That’s probably how much it cost me, monetarily, the last time I was in the ER.

I went to the ER because of my third kidney stone. I knew I had a kidney stone, but this stone was possibly worse than my previous two renal calculi combined. What I didn’t know was I also had a kidney infection and prostatitis.

I got checked in, turned in a urine sample, then waited however long it took for the doctor to see me. The ER doc was a pleasant, older man named Josef Mengele. Just in cases you don’t know who that is, Dr. Mengele was a German SS officer and physician at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. His nickname was The Angel of Death.

He took my history, typed his notes into the computer, then said the words that every guy in a doctor’s office dreads to hear, “Okay. I’m going to have to do a prostate exam.”

He said he was going to be gentle. He made a fist with his left hand and demonstrated how slowly and carefully he was going to insert his right finger into my rectum. That was actually reassuring.

I dropped my pants and assumed the “Bend Over” position on the exam table while the good doctor donned gloves and lubed up with K-Y Jelly.

“Take a couple of deep breaths and relax. Oh, and you should probably take your glasses off, too.”

I had never had a doctor suggest that before. I almost questioned why, but I did as he asked. And then I knew why he had suggested it.

True to his word, Dr. Mengele was slow and careful with his digital insertion. Until he got to his first knuckle. Then he shoved the rest of his finger into my rectum like it was making the jump to lightspeed.

And I’m almost positive that I heard something like unto this:

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Pain! Pain worse than a dozen goddamn kidney stones filled my being. My face smashed into the exam table. Hard. Like I was having a seizure hard. I vaguely remember thinking, Oh, that’s why he wanted me to take my glasses off! After that, all I wanted to do was cry.

“Oh yeah. You definitely have prostatitis.” Dr. Mengele gloated. It felt like he had put his foot up my ass and he was kicking my prostate. “Your prostate feels like a grapefruit! So, you’re a nurse, huh? What’s your specialty? Where do you work?”

I couldn’t have responded if I had wanted to. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed. But these words formed inside my head:

Get…your…arm…out…of…my…ass…you…motherfucking…Nazi!!! I seriously would have confessed to the Kennedy assassination if that’s what Dr. Mengele had wanted. That was the longest five hours of my life. Five seconds later, it was over.

I’m pretty sure I collapsed to the floor in relief. Dr. Mengele washed his hands, told me he’d write some prescriptions for antibiotics, and cheerfully bid me Auf Wiedersehen.

The nurse thought I had had a heart attack when she entered the room with Dr. Mengele’s prescriptions. Fortunately, I could speak by then. As I was getting dressed I was able to convince her she didn’t need to call a Code Blue.

Besides, I’m DNR/DNI.

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My first kidney stone and my third kidney stone were large, like, 6 mms each. They had to be broken into little tiny bits by extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. It’s one of the few medical interventions I’ve experienced that might be worse than the initial condition.

I felt like I had been hit by a bus afterwards, and it took about a week to get to the point where I stopped wishing my kidney stones would have had the decency to just kill me to death and get it over already.

I had my last kidney stone in 2013, I think. Since then, I have conscientiously done everything I can to prevent getting a fourth kidney stone.

It’s not all that difficult. Drink a lots of water. That’s the most effective thing you can do. And eat a lots of jalapeños. I don’t think kidney stones like them either.

Game of Thrones

I’ve been staring at this blank page for about an hour.

Well, the good news is that it’s no longer blank.

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There’s more good news. Our refrigerator has been repaired! The LG service crew replaced the compressor and reset the ice maker last Tuesday. It looks like that saga has come to a satisfactory end. Lea is pleased and as any married guy knows, if your wife is happy, it’s the only thing that matters.

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It took about five seasons of binge watching on my part, but I finally got Lea hooked on Game of Thrones. Just in cases you don’t know what I’m talking about, Game of Thrones is a TV adaptation of several epic fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin.

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Yeah, he’s a weird looking guy

I joined a GoT Facebook page, which I immediately regretted doing. It wasn’t just the stupid commentary this time. These fanatic fans seem to be in a serious need of actual lives. They. Are. Fuckin’. Out. There. I’ll probably leave the group when I finish writing this post.

Facebook is full of those quizzes, like, Which GoT character are you? I’ve never taken one of these quizzes, but if I had to pick a character, it’d be Tyrion Lannister.

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He’s mostly terrible at fighting. He’s a short, quick-witted smartass, and he drinks and knows stuff. Except for the drinking part, he’s totally me.

The GoT story takes place on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos in a setting that very much resembles the Middle Ages of our Earth. While the story contains common fantasy elements, such as swordplay, magic, and dragons, those elements are somewhat downplayed in favor of political intrigue and human drama in a struggle to sit upon the Iron Throne.

You don’t have to travel to a fictional universe to encounter plots and schemes to sit on the high throne. Historically speaking, monarchies have been our longest form of government. Theoretically speaking, they were also the most successful form of government on this planet.

During the Middle Ages of our Earth, that was how politics worked. In a kingdom ruled by a king or queen, they held the reins of power. And power evidently made the world go ’round back then.

Well, it probably still does…

History is full of stories about plots to usurp the throne and overthrow the king. A lots of people with claims to the throne spent their fortunes and their lives scheming to put their royal asses on the throne. It might have been good to be the king, but it was also probably a lonely place to be.

Being a king or a queen isn’t as big of a deal anymore. As our global system of government has evolved, royal status has meant less and less. Except in England.

Game of Thrones is an engaging story. What makes it unique, at least as far as I’m concerned, is the usual Fantasy genre distinctions between Good and Evil are very blurred. They’re so blurred that I’m not sure if any of the supposed good guys are actually good. And there’s a lots of sex and nuditity.

Well, some of the bad guys are really evil. I have to admit that I took a great deal of delight in watching them get killed to death. Especially King Joffrey Baratheon–First (and Last) of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm–that sadistic little fuck. And Ramsay Bolton, who made my skin crawl every time he appeared on screen.

In essence, if you combined Dallas and The Lord of the Rings, you’d get Game of Thrones. And in that sense, GoT appears to be a serious cautionary tale about the pitfalls of having unprotected sex with your sister.

At least two of the kings in the story are completely off of their royal rockers, probably as a result of noble family inbreeding and incest. The only good thing about the mad kings is they both end up getting dead. The bad thing about both of them is thousands of good people end up also gotting dead because of them.

But you don’t have to travel to a fictional universe to encounter this sort of thing either. Royal intermarriage between family members was once a common practice on this very planet.

Mausolus, the ruler of Caria was married to his sister, Artemisia II. When he he died in 353 BCE, his grieving widow had a huge tomb built in the city of Halicarnassus. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.

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The Mausoleum of Helicarnassus

Royal inbreeding has been cited as one of the reasons for the decline of the Roman Empire. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt as well as the Ptolemaic rulers in Egypt were often married to their brothers or sisters as a way to keep political power consolidated within the family.

Queen Victoria of England was a major proponent of pure blood lines. She married her cousin Albert, and the two had nine children who then passed hemophilia to royal families throughout Europe.

Remember the Romanovs?

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The Russian Imperial Family 

And then there were the Habsburgs. Some of you might ask, Who the fuck are they? Ever hear of Marie Antoinette? She was a Habsburg.

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Marie Antoinette, Archduchess of Austria, Queen of France

The House of Habsburg was one of the most influential and distinguished royal houses of Europe. The throne of the Holy Roman Empire was continuously occupied by the Habsburgs for three hundred years. The house also produced emperors and kings of Bohemia, Croatia, England, Germany, Hungary, Illyria, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. As well as the rulers of several Dutch and Italian principalities. And the rulers of the Second Mexican Empire.

Hey, they were busy, and clearly, very motivated…

Following the reign of Charles V in the 1500’s, the dynasty was split between its Austrian and Spanish branches. Although they ruled distinct territories, they nevertheless maintained close relations and frequently intermarried.

Unfortunately for the Habsburgs, it wasn’t just the crown that was passed down from generation to generation, but also a series of genes that produced birth defects. This inbreeding caused this royal family to exhibit a number of peculiar physical traits, especially one known as the Habsburg Jaw. The most prominent indicator of the family’s inbreeding is what doctors refer to as mandibular prognathism.

This condition is marked by a protrusion of the lower jaw to the point that it’s significantly larger than the upper jaw and creates an underbite sometimes bad enough that it can interfere with your speech and make it difficult to fully close your mouth.

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Some of the Habsburgs rulers and their infamous jaws.

The last Hapsburg ruler in Spain, Charles II, was such a genetic trainwreck that he could barely speak and couldn’t walk unattended.

Mental illnesses also ran rampant throughout many European royal families, leading to some very odd behavior. For example:

Charles VI of France. He inherited the throne during France’s long conflict with England, the Hundred Years’ War. He initially appeared to be a sane and capable king and then while on a campaign in the forest of Le Mans, he had some sort of “seizure.” He violently attacked his traveling companions, killed four of them, and almost killed his brother, Louis.

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King Charles VI of France

From then on he was subject to periodic fits of violence, and his everyday behavior became more bizarre. He took to running wildly through the corridors of his palace and sometimes seemed unaware of his own name, or that he was even king – though he did once appear to claim to be Saint George. The Mad King also suffered from the delusion that he was made of glass and could shatter at any time.

Christian VII of Denmark. He would often throw food at his dinner guests, but kings can be real jerks sometimes. His reign seemed otherwise pretty normal, until the masturbation started.

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King Christian VII of Denmark

On the bright side, he didn’t usually do it in front of visiting dignitaries. What he did was leapfrog over them when they bowed to him, and sometimes he’d slap people in the face in the middle of a conversation for absolutely no reason.

Tsar Paul I of Russia. He had what can only be called an attitude towards his guards, and not a good one. He might have had a good reason for it because the palace guards had been instrumental in the bloody coups and palace revolutions that marked 18th-century Russia. But Paul developed an obsession with the fine details of their ever-more elaborate uniforms and insisted that they be kept in pristine condition.

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Tsar Paul I of Russia

Anyone who fell short of his ideal was liable to be flogged, sometimes by the tsar himself. He insisted on full parades outside his palace even in the depths of the Russian winter, and once sent a regiment off to march all the way to Siberia before changing his mind and sending word for them to turn back.

If you’re like me, you’re wondering where in the hell I’m going with this, and I have to admit that I have no idea. I’m sure I have something else to write about beyond Game of Thrones and royal incest and insanity. I just don’t know what it is yet…

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Upon further review, I don’t have anything else to write about. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s history lesson.