How Not To Win Someone Over

I originally didn’t want to be on Instagram, but was told that as an author and an artist, it would be better to increase an online presence. Sure, it happens on all the apps, but damn, I’m really tired of it.

I’m talking about stalking. Men who follow me who I don’t know. They usually have no more than 3 posts, and a follower or two, which is never anyone I know. Which means I fit into some search parameter they’re using. Probably my age group, female, single.

Sorry, folks. That’s creepy and borderline stalking.

There are legit dating apps. If I was looking, I’d be on them. Unless Instagram is secretly a dating app and I didn’t know.

But they don’t read that. No, they’re creepy. They assume I’m on social media looking for a man and that I’ll welcome their attention.

They are always widowed or divorced. 9 out of 10 if them have some pithy saying about God…which tells me they really didn’t bother to find out anything about me (I suppose that makes it slightly less stalkery). Of course, if they’d made the least effort and read my profile, they see where I say I’m not looking for a relationship and to not message me unless they want to buy a piece of art I’ve posted.

But no, they try to message me, so my wishes, if even looked at, aren’t respected. So, right off the bat, you’re creepy and have no idea what I want. Which, you know, isn’t some fucking creepy stalker type.

They post pictures of themselves with wine, or a dog, or pictures of flowers, or a flag. Pretty clear the image they’re pushing.

So last night, I screwed up. I had a message from a Jane Lawson, who also follows a friend’s mom, so instead of instantly blocking them, I answered.

No, it was KANE Lawson. And it began with “hi” and the usual “let’s get to know each other” inane small talk. I responded with “sorry, I’m not really into chatting”, because even when annoyed, I try not to be rude. Not right away, anyway.

His response? Priceless. “Then why are you on Instagram?”

Wow. Did I offend him? Sorry, bro, I thought Tinder was the dating app. I thought messenger programs were for chatting. Oh, hey, I’m on Instagram to be harassed by lonely, prowling men who can’t see what kind of creepers they really are.

I finally responded with “To promote my artwork”. That was met with silence, and I was happy. I thought, he’ll stop following, he’ll go away. (He also did this thing where if I didn’t answer fast enough for his liking, he’d type a bunch of question marks).

But no. This morning, I see a new response. “Can I ask where you are chatting from?”

Well, it’s pretty clear why you’re divorced and still looking. You just don’t get it. A for persistence. But I’m done.

Blocked.

And this, friends, is one more example of what women, even those of us not so attractive, have to put up with.

Rescue Alert

I know there are a few animal lovers who follow me, so I’m putting out a call to help home a pupper.

Harper

Meet Harper. He’s a handsome boy, about 8 years old, and Lab/Mastiff mix. Sadly, he’s aggressive with children and other male dogs. He’s fine with female dogs and with cats, and looks to me like he’s a goofy loving boy. He simply needs a home where he doesn’t feel the need to play alpha or compete.

He’s currently in Virginia, but will be coming up to New York in the next couple of weeks, as his current owners try to find a home, not a shelter.

Take meh?

Spirit and Gabriel agree with me that all good furbabies need a loving home. Help spread the word and share, repost, tweet, and get the word out.

If you or someone you know can help out and home Harper, please shoot me an email and I will get you in touch with the family.

Thank you! Harper is a big love, and more love is never, ever a bad thing.

Health Don’t-Care

So my sugar has been pretty bad now for nearly 3 weeks. I don’t eat the best, but I certainly am careful. Oh, wait.

Maybe it’s because Blue Cross is holding my health hostage. They literally will not pay for my scrips now unless I switch to the Magellan mail pharmacy.

One of my diabetes drugs is pioglitizone, and that’s where it started. I went to Walgreens to see what the “insurance issue” was. They simply got a message that I had to fill out a mail order form.

I don’t want mail order. I have a slot in the door for mail. I have a shared hallway in my 2-family. Granted all my Amazon stuff and other packages have fared well, but my meds? Don’t really want to gamble there.

And lo, I am out of pioglitizone.

I go home and try to call Blue Cross. Oops, my bad. They only have power over people’s health, therefore, they only answer phones from 8:30-4:30. I guess too bad for me, since I work 8-5.

My job is fairly demanding. I don’t like to waste my lunchtime on one of these calls, especially if I may not have everything I need at hand.

On a whim, I try the number for Magellan, and yay, I get someone. But boo, there really isn’t fuck-all they can do. I explain my situation, but while the rep is sympathetic in the way all customer service folks are supposed to be, she can’t actually help other than noting my account and emailing Blue Cross with my concerns. I’ll have to call back, of course. It’s too much to expect anyone to reach out to me.

That was a Thursday. I didn’t call Friday, because I assumed nothing would get done in one day.

Yes, I am now out of pioglitizone, but I will brave the weekend and just be very careful of what I eat.

Come Monday, I get home from work. I call Magellan, and guess what? Blue Cross hasn’t responded. I try not to lose my shit on the rep, but honestly, this is robbery. A huge monopoly far worse than cable. I mean, I go thru this or come up with about $300 to buy a month of the drug.

I finally ask what I need to do to go mail order. The rep days, “this is what you want to do?”. I said, “no, it’s not, but I’m being held hostage here and I really can’t wait on the whim of Blue Cross to bother helping me.”

I go thru all kinds of info exchange. Drugs, dosages, etc. I think that I’m set for both pioglitizone and jardiance, which is also pending a refill. I get off the phone thinking I’m set. Not happy, but I’ll have my pills soon.

Wrong.

A day or two or three later, my doc’s office calls. The nurse says that Magellan called them looking for my phone number, but in consideration of confidentiality, she didn’t give them anything. Instead she alerted me and gave me the callback number.

So I call them back that night, and I’m telling you, I am heartily sick of this shit.

The rep tells me that the two drugs come to $130, which is over my allotment of $80. And here, folks, is where I don’t care if the rep has anything to do with it. Even after all my own customer service years, taking abuse, I finally lose my shit. I’m not yelling, but I’m crying in frustration. My drugs have never cost that. Not even close. And I take 5 total; this is the cost for 2!?

And they want me to give them a credit card. I’m sure you can guess my response to that.

Ok, we figure it out. The pioglitizone is about $12, but that’s 90 days. That’s fair. And they’ll bill me.

Can they rush it? Sure, if I pay them $20. You can’t waive that since I’m out and you’re forcing me to jump thru hoops? No. Well, fuck you. If my sugar gets that bad, before I die I’ll make sure everyone knows what a money-grubbing circus this is, but you aren’t getting another dime. Ship it normally.

But jardiance is name brand, and very expensive. I said the pharmacist at Walgreen’s found a savings card online that she applied that lowered my copay considerably (because, you know, she was a human being who cared). Great, the rep says, we need the bin id, group id, etc etc etc. I said I don’t actually have the card, the pharmacist put it all into their system.

Long story short (too late), I have to call Jardiance and get that info. That was over the course of another weekend, whereupon that scrip ran out. That was messed up because the site recognized that I was registered, but couldn’t find me.

At least the rep at Jardiance was very understanding and helpful. She also had some kind of Caribbean accent that was soothing and beautiful to listen to. She tried to reregister me all over again…time consuming, but worked.

Of course, it’s too late to call Magellan back (they’re open til 7). So more time passes, but that finally gets taken care of, at a discount of $10 copay for a month. A lot less than the original $130 they wanted to gouge out of me. Now I wait for the Jardiance.

Total of 11 days without pioglitizone. I have them now. 6 days without Jardiance and counting.

These companies should not have this kind of control. I can’t imagine what will happen when my other 3 refills come up.

Healthcare? I don’t think so.

Cards Fortuna

This is a new project I dreamed up because frankly, without Cons happening, I need some kind of fuel. You’ve seen my takes on the Tarot, and while I enjoyed doing them, I wanted a little more.

I want my own deck, similar to the Tarot, but not the Tarot. Something I know how to interpret. Something more…elemental.

So the idea is a deck of 32 cards, 8 for each element. The entire basis of the deck is change, and the elements represent change, to me, as follows:

Earth: unchanging, or change so slow, so minute, as to be unnoticeable.

Air: almost whimsical, either light, small, and personal, or rapid, strong, wide-reaching. Like winds, this change can alter the direction of one’s life.

The Hippogriff

Fire: rapid, harsh, chaotic change on a large scale. Often leaves damage in its wake.

The Afrit

Water: continual, steady, incremental change. Occasionally surges of speed or power, but generally in the same direction.

A reading would be 3 draws (past, present, future) or a single draw relative to a question. The interpretation of the card is the rate or type of change, combined with the symbolism in the card. An upside-down card, or invert, means a reversal of the type of change depicted, again, in relation to the card itself.

And of course, this will be subject to the interpretation of the reader and what they get a sense of. Pretty cool, eh?

As of now, I have all the cards plotted out, and about half drawn. Once drawn, I’ll go in with watercolor pencils. This part will suck, because then I’ll have to spray them all with fix, which stinks in a toxic way. Then, the intent is to take ink, colored for the element, to highlight the box where the name of the card goes.

Thinking about it makes me tired, but I think the finished product will be beautiful. I’ve considered doing a Kickstarter for them, but I have no idea of my timeline on this, nor have I ever been skilled at asking for money.

I won’t turn down any offers, though.

Hephaestus

Anyway, more pictures and updates as I make progress. If you genuinely want to donate, for a future deck, I do PayPal. If you just like watching the creative process…welcome.

The Crone

O The Lights

So with 2 friends, I went to the socially-distant Lights in the Park. For those not in the area, Washington Park is set up with light displays, courtesy of several businesses. They’re colorful, and a bit uplifting, and you don’t have to leave your car.

Add appropriate music, and it’s a nice (heated) way to enjoy an evening near the holidays. We had TSO going, the Nightmare Before Christmas, but there’s a specific station you can tune to for matching music, too.

The only thing is while these displays are pretty, being made of lights it’s not always easy to tell what’s going on with them. So, I’ve titled a few based on my initial reaction.

Remember, these things are moving.

Two People Beating the Crap Out of a Bush
Frosty Gets A Fondle

Happy Birthday, indeed.

Santa’s Raider Nation?
Six Geese A-Roasting
I Fell Into Five Golden Rings of Burning Fire
Hoes In The Park

There ya go. Totally worth the admission to go make your own captions. Go forth and see what you can see. Merry Yule!

December

Half of me is ready for the holidays. Half of me isn’t. Which isn’t that unusual, since the holidays usually trigger a lot of depression.

This time, though, Covid is in the equation. And it’s getting worse, not better. Because people just can’t get their shit together. For example, I was in a diner getting breakfast to go last weekend, and on the surface, they were doing the right things. The tables were pretty far apart. There was hand sanitizer all over. The entrance and exit were separated.

Then a guy came out of the kitchen, with his mask below his nose. Hello? That undoes all of it, you know. He’s exhaling his droplets everywhere, and they’ll travel, and odds are some are hitting food, or clothes, or other non-sanitizables.

Keep it up, folks. You wanted your gyms, your malls, your hairdressers. Now we pay the piper. Yes, lockdown sucked, and hurt a lot of people financially. But the health crisis might hurt more in the end.

I didn’t come to preach about that, tho. I only mean that I’m doing the right thing. I didn’t see my friends for Thanksgiving. I probably won’t see them for Christmas.

This will affect a lot of people. Not just me. Not by a long shot. So be a bit kinder. Keep it in the back of your head what others are going through. Be patient.

A lot of people want Christmas now. I don’t necessarily want it, but I do want us to practice that spirit.

And merry Yule!

Now The Other List

Ok, I did my Halloween favorites, so now it’s time for the Christmas movie list.

HAHAHAHAHA! Did you fall for that? I DON’T WATCH THEM! HAH! GOTCHA!

There are a very few Christmas things I watch. VERY few. Rudolph. Just Rudolph. Not his shiny New Year. And I like the Grinch. The animated one. The Jim Carrey one, not so much, because it’s Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey, except green.

The Year Without A Santa Claus…if you don’t adore the Meiser twins and their musical numbers, you’re dead to me. Those two are the best. I do like most of those Rankin Bass classics.

My favorite, though, hasn’t been shown in years. At a guess, I’d say at least 40 years, but probably more. I remember it would be shown on a Saturday afternoon a week or two before Christmas, and I was still fairly little when it disappeared. I spent many long years looking for it. I knew the title, and in my mind I could see the animation, and when the world of video opened up, I searched desperately.

It was the Snow Queen. Yeah, well, when the world of video opened up, I found about 20 versions of it. And none of them were THAT one. I couldn’t understand why one that had been on every year wasn’t available, but all these others I’d never heard of were.

And lo, a couple years ago, there it was.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Snow_Queen_(1957_film)

From 1957, and Russian, to boot. Of course it was redubbed into English and if you read the Wiki article you’ll see it’s gone through quite a few incarnations, but I did finally get my paws on the one I remembered, with Sandra Dee and Tommy Kirk as Gerda and Kai, and the Art Linkletter intro. The only other thing I’m going to say is that I highly recommend watching it if you ever find it available on streaming. Not only is it a timeless Hans Christian Andersen story, but the animation in this version is exquisite. Let me put it this way…I remembered it for how many years? I could visualize some scenes in my head (Gerda with the crows, and Bucky, and Kai with the shard of ice in his eye) for OVER forty years. To leave that kind of impression, it has to be amazing and unique.

Which reminds me that while you see dozens of Rankin Bass specials, like Jack Frost and the Winter Wizard and the Burgermeister Meister Burger and Rudolph, it seems you no longer see The Little Drummer Boy. If it’s been on, I’ve missed it, but I don’t think it’s been on. Is it because it’s more religious-oriented than the other kiddie fare (which all still have morals to convey)? Or is it the absolutely horrific beginning, where the drummer boy’s parents are killed and his farm burned to the ground? Hey, ’tis the season. It’s like a Disney movie except this time no parent is left standing.

I just get curious when holiday mainstays suddenly disappear. Like the whole Charlie Brown chaos happening now. I don’t really care about Peanuts in particular. I have a little soft spot because my dad adored Snoopy and Woodstock, and we’d watch those specials and that grown man would still giggle over those two. Also, for a good portion of my childhood, he’d get me a new stuffed Snoopy every year.

I miss that. I guess the melancholy of the season is beginning, too.

But Peanuts in and of itself, like Family Circle, has gotten old. Like Billy and Dolly blaming Ida Know or Barfy (who the hell named that dog?!), how many times can Lucy pull the football away. It long ago lost its luster for me other than the fond memory of my dad, and maybe now when I’m feeling blue that hurts more than it helps, because I miss him laughing at the tv.

Oh, all right. Sue me. There is one movie: A Christmas Story. That appeals to my sense of humor. You’ll shoot your eye out, you’ll shoot your eye out! The leg lamp. The kid’s tongue frozen to the pole. The rabbit suit.

One. You got me. Fine.

Maybe I’ll spite everyone and after I put up my tree and lights, I’ll curl up on the couch and watch Pink Floyd The Wall. Merry Christmas, Mother, I have become comfortably numb!

Not quite, but working on getting there. Good night to all!

My Halloween List

So a lot of people blog Halloween movies and reviews, which is a good idea, so I’ll drop a couple here. Just my favorite go-tos or recommendations. I won’t do a full 31 days. Why? Well, I’ve noticed a few channels have their Ghostober, or the 31 Days of Halloween, which is great, except they don’t really run 31 movies. They run the same 8 or 10 movies a hundred times throughout the month.

Lame.

So I bounce around between Family Channel and TMC and HBO and anywhere I can find Halloween favorites, and my top beloved are below.

  1. The Exorcist. You’d think this one would be on everywhere (ok, not Family Channel). I have always loved it, even tho I tend to watch it alone and at 2 am. This year, for a special treat, a friend found a place showing it on the big screen, where I finally got to see the WHOLE thing. So many tiny scenes that get cut out for tv, put them back and suddenly a bunch of weird lines make sense. There’s more of the background story on Merrin and Pazuzu, more quirky little things to make you suspect something’s really wrong with Regan, more of Damian’s torment. (“Why you do this to me, Dami?”). More shots of that frightening white demon face that pops up like a subliminal message to have a stroke. This movie to me is a great study in characters…a horror story with real characterization. I still can’t imagine audiences seeing this in an actual theater back in 1973, with the level of gross, vulgarity, and fright (and the most frightening scene that makes me always look away…the procedure where they ram that monster needle into Regan’s carotid artery…UGH!)
  2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I don’t consider this a horror movie, per se, but the ultimate homage to them. My first Halloween home in about 14 years will leave me depressed, so I may have to curl up on the couch with this one running. I was in a shadow cast for many years of my life (not saying who I played, altho I knew every part), but I will say that my oldest, dearest friends were not made in college or high school, but here, in the Cinema 1&2 behind Macy’s, and Cinema 7 on Rt 7, and the Hellman on Washington Ave. If you do watch this for Halloween, watch it with a veteran, because in and of itself the movie is quaint but absurd. Add in the lines, and it’s an experience not to be missed.
  3. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. I haven’t seen this on in a million years, but in high school, this movie scared the bejesus out of me. A couple moves into a mansion, and these tiny little nasties live in the vents and are after the wife. They should be comical, with their walnut shaped heads, but I watched this on a Saturday afternoon, home alone, when I was maybe 14, and seeing the wife in this huge house alone, all dark and broody, and hearing those ghastly little voices calling her name….Sally….Sally….Sally….I was on the phone with a friend who was watching it at the same time, and HE was scared shitless, too. Neither of us would hang up. Apparenly, 1973 was my year for movies.
  4. ‘Salem’s Lot. While so many love The Shining (and so did I, but it was NOT the book I adored, sorry) I feel like this was one of the better Stephen King adaptations, especially for 1979 (so stuck in this decade!). Barlow isn’t sparkly, or a rock’n’roll vampire. He’s an absolute dick. A quick glance may make you think of Nosferatu, but he’s not nearly that comical. He is a vicious, unwavering animal. Also, be warned…there is no happy ending with this one.
  5. Hocus Pocus. Not a horror movie, but a guilty favorite. I know a lot of people want another to be made. I don’t. Making a sequel, like a remake, seems to somehow taint the original, and it never matches expectations. Films like this, and the first Ghostbusters, are born of magical chemistry that can’t be planned.
  6. The Others. Not sure why I like this movie so much, even though its one of those that once you get the twist at the end, you may never watch it again. I do, when it’s on, because I love Nicole Kidman’s character, and the daughter, and the family of servants. There’s a slow build toward the end, and some great scenes on the way to it. Again, I’m a fan of characterization and plot, not so much gore. Maybe that’s why I fondly relate to the old monster movies from Creature Double Feature Saturdays of my youth, and horror movies from the 60s and 70s.
  7. The Omen. What more can I say? It’s The Omen. Donald Sutherland making that ridiculous face, but you’re so creeped out by little Damien’s face that you can let that slide. Oh, look, we’re back in the 70s. Imagine that.
  8. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. I so so so love Bette Davis in this. And again, it’s excellently done characterization. As horrible as Baby Jane is, both in the beginning as a child and later on as the tormentor of her sister, she is a deeply sympathetic character. There are moments where you can’t help but feel for her. Likewise, Blanche is complex as well. How bitter is she? Who’s really torturing who?

Some others I enjoy: The House on Haunted Hill, Burnt Offerings, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, any of the monster movies a la Godzilla, Ghidora, Reptilicus, etc, Sinister, Insidious, The Conjuring, and the old hoaxie-but-goody Amityville Horror (the original, from 1979), Needful Things, Misery, The Secret Garden.

So get out that streaming service. Some of these are harder to find (The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane…another old favorite with Jodi Foster literally a child) so good luck to you, and Happy Halloween!

A Late Update: Dunkin

We’re all quick to complain when service is bad, but not so quick to compliment when it’s good. Makes sense in a way, because good should be the norm, right?

Some of you recall when I lambasted Dunkin Donuts. Every single day, EVERY day, not the occasional mishap. I wanted a bagel with a little butter, and I got a bagel swimming in a literal pool of butter. I don’t care how much you think you like butter. This was absolutely disgusting. The bagel was soaked. The original post, with pictures, is here:

https://azbaelus.com/2018/10/27/done-with-dunkin/

I linked the blog to their Facebook page, and lo, didn’t I get a call from the district manager? Course, I got said call as I landed in Vegas, so I had to wait a week to call him back, but it was a good conversation, about customer service, and expectations, etc. He offered me a $25 gift card, whereupon I asked why would I accept when I really didn’t want to go back, and he assured me I could use it at any Dunkin, or not use it, as I chose, but he still would send it.

He got back to me about 2 months later. He had, in person, gone to the store in question, and retrained them, ALL of the employees, in handling bagels with cream cheese and butter. The manager, who’d ignored my original complaint, was taken to task. In short, a lot was done.

It was a long time before I returned to that Dunkin. Some of it is because I was still mistrustful, and then it was because I didn’t work for a year. Now, I’m working again.

I will say…for the most part, they do good. I want sausage and cheese on an English muffin, they get that right, and it’s good. It’s also too pricey for me to do every day, but hey, the store isn’t setting the prices. That’s my choice. I can get a breakfast sammich at Cumby’s cheaper, but I do have to take the egg off, and its not quite as good for sitting under a heat lamp. They also are much better at bagels. Yes, sometimes they still get carried away with the butter, and once I asked for toasted and got what I would call “effing charcoal”, but those were flukes. On the whole, they have improved vastly, and I enjoy breakfast from them. Pat on the back, guys, especially in these times.

I still don’t go there too much, tho. Besides the prices, the line is ridiculous. They try, and try, but they can’t move a line along for love nor money. If I see more than 2 cars ahead of me, I go up the hill to Cumby. Hey, if I didn’t have to get to work, I wouldn’t care about the line so much, but when I’m on a schedule, gotta do what I gotta do.

Still, I owed it to them to tell the world that my experience has improved, and they’re mostly doing things right.

The other thing against them (snicker) is that damn, Amazon’s brand of toaster pastries has a pomegranate flavor, and those are crazy good, and if they burn, that’s on me.

Onward and upward!

Fall

Notice I didn’t say “Welcome, Fall”.

Sorry, folks, I’m a summer baby and a summer lover, and I need heat like a basking lizard. I like going to sleep to cricket song. I like the darker nights (winter nights seem so much brighter, even without snow on the ground). I like my long-ass days and warm nights.

Fall isn’t all bad. Okay, the pumpkin stuff is all bad; if you have to pick a fall flavor to obsess over, go with maple or apple. But other than that, fall is okay. Football is back. Hockey will begin soon

And usually it’s a good time for Comic Cons, but everything is being canceled or done virtually. That’s sad. I love to hobnob with my fellow wizards, see their art, their new projects. I like to show off mine. I have a ton of new artwork, and a mass selection of jewelry (some on the Etsy page) and new tiles.

Year of the Monkey image 0
Skullies image 0
Black Symphonic image 2

I was contemplating doing another coloring book of monsters from games, but right now book 3 of the Trials series takes precedence. By all means if anything on these pages catches your eye but you want to get it from me, or signed, IM me.

Just don’t IM me on Instagram. Apparently that is the pickup app of choice for divorced or separated or widowed men, and I have to block a couple a week. Kinda thought that was what Tinder was for, but maybe at my age I get my apps mixed up.

Enjoy your fall, pumpkin and all!