Saturday Morning Brain Drain [25/9/21]

A place to let it all out

What I watched:  Mrs. Butcher and I watched The Quiet One, which is a documentary about Bill Wyman and his time with the Rolling Stones.  Almost all of the footage is from his personal archive, which is very cool.  A very good documentary and worth watching.

What I read:  Billy Summers by Stephen King.  His latest book and as enjoyable to read as most of his works.  It’s about a hired killer and how he has to ingratiate himself into a small town while he waits for his target to arrive, and then the aftermath, so an interesting plot.  He’s branching out with his books lately in terms of setting.  They’re not taking place in Maine anymore, which I think forces him out of his comfort zone, but a good book and a solid recommendation.

What I listened to:  Got a weird hankering for Styx this week, to which I don’t think I’ve listened in probably 20 years.

Oh, wait, that’s not it.  Here it is:

Mrs. Butcher and I were thinking about what we’re going to do with Butcher Dog when the lake freezes over and she can’t swim all of her energy out every day.  She’s so much better behaved now that we’ve had this routine and we don’t want her losing her mind over the winter.  So, we decided to get what’s called a mushing scooter.  Basically, it’s a large scooter for a human, with a seat, and a bracket and harness on the side to hook the dog up.  The dog provides the locomotion and the person controls the steering and the brakes.  It’s not cheap, but we feel that it’s worth it for her mental and physical health.  We’re not sure when it will arrive—and it will take some time to get her acclimated to the whole thing—but we’re pretty sure that once she picks it up, she’ll be just as excited to go mushing as she is to go swimming.

So, DeadSplinterites, what have you been entertaining yourselves with this week?  How’s the summer winding down for you?  Ready to hole up when the weather turns cold and all those fucking imbeciles who refuse to get vaccinated make even a trip to the grocery store a risky venture?  Let’s hear all about it.

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When you can walk its length, and leave no trace, you will have learned.


  1. Pulling a human sounds like a lot. I think the only fair thing is for you to buy a double harness and you and the dog pull the Mrs. around.

    I started watching Money Heist on Netflix but pulled the plug. Five episodes in and they still have a ways to go, and the romance subplot is getting really ridiculous. I started out really sharp, but I just can’t stick with it any longer.

    • …some friends told me that was good…but having watched a fair chunk of it I think my conclusions were closer to yours than theirs…shame, too…a really audacious heist is usually a pretty entertaining premise

    • She was already strong, but after a summer of swimming for a straight hour every day she is now built like a brick shithouse.  Plus, I suggested we get something on wheels rather than a sleigh, which is what Mrs. Butcher wanted, so I’m pretty confident she’ll be able to pull Mrs. Butcher’s 145 pound frame without any trouble.

  2. What I read, unfortunately:

    The New York Book Review‘s review of Nathaniel Rich’s latest book, something about a poor person living a rural life with two goats beyond the levees of New Orleans and waterlogged. The NYRB, without a trace of self-awareness, notes approvingly that Rich himself has written many reviews for the NYRB and “comes from a family of writers.”

    I’ll say. His father is Frank Rich, Harvard alumnus, who wrote for the New York Times from 1980 to 2011. He started out as their theater critic but in that weird Timesian way* was promoted to pundit/gadfly, an occupation he pursues to this day, when he’s not working on Succession and Veep. In 1991 he married his colleague and second wife, Alex Witchel, who wrote for the Times for 25 years. He continues his punditry at New York Magazine. He is 72.

    *They did this to Frank Bruni, too. Rome correspondent -> restaurant critic -> pundit/gadfly. It is the Natural Order of Things.

    The Rich-Witchels have two children through Frank’s first wife, of which almost nothing is known. Nate (Yale), the older, we have already met. Simon (Harvard) is a humorist and short story writer and was a writer at that hotbed of Harvard humor, SNL. Simon placed his first humor piece in the New Yorker when he was something like 19, maybe even younger. One wonders how he even knew who to send it to for consideration.

    Sorry, I’m in a little bit of a sour mood. Good luck to all the Riches and may the literary riches continue to flow their way.

    • I’d forgotten about Frank Rich and his theater review approach to politics. Another one was Patrick Healy, who was promoted to top Politics editor during the Trump White House after being their top Broadway reporter. He wrote the infamous article in 2016 trying to conjure rationales for critiquing Hillary Clinton’s laugh.

      Healy’s approach to Trump was foreshadowed by his broken protect-the-sources approach to Broadway. Healy knew full well about Scott Rudin’s insanely abusive reign as a producer, but never once considered it newsworthy.

      The amount of bootlicking and self dealing in that world, like you say, is jaw dropping.

      • I read somewhere, and I can’t find the link and Google is unhelpful, that the Times has convened a small group from each of various departments to study ways to make the paper more relevant and emphasize its trustworthiness (good luck with that) and attract a wider audience among the young and the lower and middle classes and the Black and the Brown.

        I wouldn’t know where to begin with this, except to suggest stop recruiting from the same two dozen schools, stop with the nepotism and the log-rolling, stop with the sucking up to those with temporal power, and stop covering for people you’re likely to be seated across from at dinner and start covering them as if your daughter didn’t once date their son, or some variation on this.

        It doesn’t have to turn into a scandal sheet. Have the reporters with access compile lists of people they hobnobbed with over the summer, for example. Pool these names in a centralized database. If reporter X’s vacation house is within 30 miles of a potential subject’s summer house, they’re off the beat. Compile lists of reporters’, spouses’, and childrens’ private school and college affiliations. “Say, X, didn’t you go to Brown? You must have been there when Y was. This whole thing with what Y did…we’re going to hand that off to Z.” Look into where the reporters landed book deals and see if a subject has done something similar in the same place. Charitable affiliations: “I couldn’t help but notice that your spouse is on the Board of [high-profile]  “charitable” group and so is the spouse of Subject X. We’re gibing this story to Y.”

        That might help. Who am I kidding. They’ll never do this.

        • One of the interesting cases at the Times is recently departed Style Section editor Choire Sicha, formerly of Gawker. He gained a ton of respect from his staff for refusing to deal with angry members of the publicist class who wanted his reporters to soften and slant coverage. He also got a ton of grief from senior management, who no doubt were fielding complaints from the same people after Sicha refused to bend.

          He finally quit after getting tired of the internal battles. Style was widely considered by readers to have greatly improved from its traditional overreliance on stupid trend pieces and fluff profiles of supposedly hot people, but his bosses were pretty clearly more concerned about appeasing publicists than readers.

          The fundamental problem at the paper, which you’re right that they’ll never change, is that they see their top responsibility to relaying to the world the things that are fed to them by a certain set of powerful people. It’s not about reporting, it’s about building and maintaining the network, and reinforcing its mores on the Times readership.

          Anything that threatens the ability of publicists and politicians from getting access is a threat to the core of the Times identity.

  3. I started watching Midnight Mass. It’s the third horror show/limited series by Mike Flanagan commissioned by Netflix (Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor). I’m hoping it’s not as predictable as I think it is (we’re on E4 and have big theories). It’s about a small fishing village located on a tiny island whose economy is dying thanks to a nearby oil spill, fishing restrictions, and dwindling population. A new priest arrives and miracles begin to happen but there’s obviously something sinister at foot. Religion and miracles are not usually my jam. I’m giving it a shot because of the cast and director. Thus far it is not as scary or chilling as the other shows.

  4. I think Butcher Dog is going to love mushing!

    What I watched – Season 1 of The Handmaid’s Tale. I read the book years ago and didn’t particularly want to watch it while we were still suffering under the one term, twice impeached trump. Yes, the war on women is still ongoing, and this SCOTUS may will try to overturn Roe vs Wade, but I feel a little more hopeful these days. A very little. Anyway, most of you have probably already seen it so I don’t need to say much beyond how powerful and disturbing I find it.

    What I read – Animal by Lisa Taddeo This book is on every list I’ve seen for must-reads so I didn’t have high hope for it. But I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s so much darker and more complicated than the murder mystery I was expecting it to be. I’m planning on curling up with it all afternoon when my chores are finished.

    What I’m listening to – local college radio, the Blue Yodel show

    Jack Stone and the Chantones – Roll Jordan Roll


    Pete Seeger – Oh, Mary Don’t You Weep




  5. As usual I hesitate to say the watch/read/listen, because I need to cough up three weeks of content. Thank you @butcherbakertoiletrymaker for your end-of-month Brain Drain. Also, your dog sled idea had me imagining my four small dogs harnessed up, akin to the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. I suspect that you will be gleeful like the Grinch as Butcher Dog pulls you, or end up pulling it for her, at least at first. We all will want photos…

  6. im currently watching squid game

    but as im only 3 episodes in i cant really say anything useful about it…other than its holding my attention and i want to know where the story goes…also who survives…coz the amount of people getting killed in the early episodes suggests there wont be many survivors…

    anyways…currently listening to this song

    which is a fantastic song title

  7. Watching: nothing new. My son got Discovery +, so Guy’s Grocery Games or Worst Cooks has been our background noise all week. Oh, or Bizarre Foods. I find Andrew Zimmern’s voice remarkably soothing.


    Reading: I’ve read a bunch this week. Forgotten in Death, book 53(!) of J. D. Robb’s In Death series. This was a good one, and I really enjoyed it. The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis, which was good but not great. The story was a little too pat, but it’s good,  descriptive writing. Winter Moon, which is a set of 3 novellas by Mercedes Lackey, Tanith Lee, and C. E. Murphy. The Russian Cage, book 3 of the Gunnie Rose series by Charlaine Harris, which was really good, even if the ending was a little rushed. Currently reading book # I-don’t-even-know of the Virgin River series, Wild Man Creek. Up to chapter 5… it’s as good as any other in the series, so far.


    Listening: I’ve been listening to audio books while I crochet. This is new to me, but I got a free trial, so… why not? Clap Back by Nalo Hopkinson, which was ok, but (I think) it would have been better if it was a bit longer. Some things seemed to need more explanation and it was a bit confusing. The narrator was pretty good, though. Also listened to These Alien Skies by C. T. Rwizi, which I really enjoyed. The story was really interesting, and I’d listen to Indya Moore read a grocery list. Her voice is very expressive. These 2 are part of a set called Black Stars, which is currently free to listen to if you have Kindle Unlimited. I have the other 4 lined up already!


  8. Watched the movie Tinker Tailor Solider Spy (on Prime) starring Gary Oldman.  I’ve read the book and own the BBC/PBS miniseries with Alec Guiness as Smiley.

    If you expect James Bond then don’t watch.  Still not bad considering they had to pare down the book to a 2 hour movie.


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