It’s a Trap!

Mentioned here before (probably more often than you’d like): I’m on the board of our neighborhood homeowners’ association. An HOA board veteran, in fact — three years in the barrel from 1999-2001, now starting year three of a second term. Since last year, Donna’s been working for the HOA as well, doing the budget, banking, and accounting.

Yesterday, on a gray and chilly afternoon, we chaired the HOA’s annual general meeting. We were hoping we’d be fired, but no such luck.

Tell you what, though, I was really happy almost everyone attending the AGM was masked, as we requested in the meeting announcement. One or two people weren’t, but they kept their distance. That, and the fact we met outdoors on a neighbor’s patio, with chairs spaced well apart, made everyone feel relatively safe. Covid’s definitely here in the hood: different neighbors had it in December and January (everyone so far has recovered), and just hours before the AGM our board secretary home-tested positive and had to stay home. We set up laptops on the patio so folks could attend remotely if they didn’t want to run the risk; in the end only one HOA member Zoomed while the rest braved one another’s company. With luck, the AGM won’t have been a superspreader event. It’s been almost 24 hours and so far, so good.

Just before the meeting we found a mouse in the humane trap we keep in the garage. It wasn’t going anywhere so we left it there until afterward, when I took it to a dry wash a mile away and released it. The trap’s been getting a workout: over the past three weeks we’ve caught one pack rat and two mice with it, all inside the garage. The pack rat and mouse #2 are, I hope, alive and well in their new desert digs. Mouse #1 starved to death inside the trap because I didn’t check it often enough, and I feel terrible about it.



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As you can see, there’s a considerable size difference between pack rats and mice



I am shocked, shocked I say, to read that two-thirds of reported side effects from Covid vaccinations turn out to be imaginary (and utterly floored to learn Havana Syndrome is 100% psychosomatic). Not to say “I told you so,” but I did, nine months ago:

I know this won’t be a popular take, but I think COVID vaccine side effects are (with some exceptions) a form of mass hysteria brought on by suggestion. When I was a USAF pilot training instructor, busloads of Air Force Academy and ROTC cadets would show up every summer for orientation flights in jet trainers. What did the cadets talk about on the bus? Air sickness. Every cadet was primed to puke, and nearly every one did. If your friends tell you the COVID shot gave them fevers and sore arms, you may be predisposed to experience the same when it’s your turn.

We watched “Jackie Brown” on HBO Max last night, Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 movie based on Elmore Leonard’s crime novel “Rum Punch.” It was pretty great, but I felt squirmy watching a movie about (mostly) Black characters (speaking in-your-face Black dialog) directed by a white guy. Of course the novel itself, written by a white guy, is about mostly Black characters, with dialog to match. I always loved Leonard and his gift for capturing the way people actually speak. The fact that a lot of his characters are Black never bothered me. For some reason, though, Tarantino’s film adaptation did. Maybe it’s just the passage of time, and the fact that we talk more these days about writers and actors trying to portray races and ethnicities not their own. I’ll re-read the novel to see if I look at it differently today.

Race and ethnicity? How about gender and sex? On the TV series “Big Sky,” the ABC/Hulu adaptation of C.J. Box’s “Highway Quartet” novels, a trans woman character is played by a trans woman actor, a perfect bit of casting. On “911: Lone Star,” airing on Fox and Hulu, a trans man character is played by a male actor, and he’s utterly wrong for the role.

All of which, naturally, brings me back to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and Joss Whedon. I’m not ready to give up obsessively rewatching BTVS, but I am seeing it in a different light today. God knows, thinking too hard about the artists behind the art we love is a recipe for despair, so I try not to, but I can’t help wondering how much better BTVS would have been with a woman show runner, and how much better Willow and Tara’s love affair would have been if the actors themselves were gay IRL. But once you start down that road you question everything, like what if Spike and Angel had been played by actual vampires and how hard that would have been on the other members of the cast!

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