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MY DIARY: Day 10,041 (Naked with a shovel)

My ongoing exciting adventures with holes!

I’m manic-depressive (Or in modern hip-kid lingo, “I’ve got Bipolar Disorder”). Once, a couple years after I got married, my wife was out of town on work for a couple months. This meant that I had no one to say, “Go to bed, you idiot,” or “Wake up, you idiot!” which meant my sleep patterns got wildly disregulated and sometimes I’d just go a day or two without it entirely. Sleep. Feh. Who needs it? Quitters, that’s who! As anyone Bipolar can tell you, that’s the fastest way to having a manic episode.

So it’s after work, and I’m sitting in the house we were living in at the time, and suddenly I think, “I’m going to build a working one-person submarine!” Granted, I think stuff like that all the time because I am still basically a 9 year old, but this time was different somehow. Somehow I got it in my head that I had enough stuff in the house to do it, or at least get pretty far in to it, then after work I’d pick up some fiberglass…uhm…stuff…not sure what…and make the hull. Might need someone to help me with the windows, but at any rate, I should have a working submarine and tooling around in the river by the end of the week. How hard could it be?

The awesome thing about Manic Depression is that this seems perfectly rational.

Anyway, so I spent a few hours in the back yard dragging metal and stuff around, making piles of stuff, re-arranged piles of stuff, and finally concluded that I had neither any metal nor any means of welding metal, so, screw it, I was just gonna dig a well.

Not sure why, exactly, it’s not a self-evident as building a submarine, but I *think* it had something to do with figuring out how deep the water table was. Couldn’t be TOO deep as I lived near a river, right? It was pretty hot out, so I took off my shirt, and I dug and I dug and I dug, and I realized I was getting my pants filthy, so I took ’em off, too. I was in a hole, after all, and my back yard was fenced. Who was gonna notice?

I got down to about five feet, and still hadn’t hit water. Wasn’t even damp. I decided to take a break. My shoes were angering me for some reason. I have even less memory of why than I do of why I suddenly decided I needed a well. (Conversely, the submarine still makes sense to me) Weighing the pros and cons, as one does in such situations, I decided I should set fire to my shoes and throw them in the hole.

This I then did.

I threw some more crap down the hole to keep ’em burning. (Shoes are surprisingly hard to burn, and the ventilation at the bottom of a failed well is pretty poor).

Well, this is boring. What should I do now? I’m naked. It’s like 4 AM, my shoes are on fire, I can’t finish my sub until Home Depot opens, the water table is way deeper than I thought. I know! I’ll run and jump through the flames repeatedly!

This I then did, until I got tired or the shoes burned out, can’t remember which came first, though I think it was the shoes. By now the sun was coming up. so I got a shower and maybe an hour of sleep, but maybe not, went to Dennys, then the office, and another exciting work day of staring crazy-eyed at people had begun!

Yeah! Holes! They’re awesome, whether burying you alive when you’re seven, or failing to become wells when you’re 27!

So obviously I’m medicated and in control now, haven’t had an episode in years. The thing is, I still remember that as being a pretty fun night.

DIARY: Day 7418

In the summer of 1987 I worked the swing shift at the Home Shopping Network. Start at Midnight, get out at 8:30 AM, get home around 9:30 eat breakfast, and go to bed until around 8 PM.

The only thing on TV when I was eating was “The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin,” which I watched because, much like the target audience, I like bright colors and stories that won’t interest me enough to keep me awake. Now, unlike nearly all cartoons aimed at little kids in those days, it actually had a serialized storyline. Each episode ended in a cliffhanger, which was resolved in the start of the next episode. So I watched this sort of absently while eating corn flakes for, I dunno, 60 days? 90? Most of the summer.

Then one day I missed an episode.

I was livid. I was furious. I was hat-stomping mad (And this was the 80s, so people wore hats) I mean, the Fobs were in a really bad way at the end off the last episode, and Grubby wasn’t able to save them, and it all looked pretty dire, and I DIDN’T GET TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED!

It nagged at me. All day long I was stomping around like I was gonna deck someone. If anyone asked me what was wrong, I’d spill out strings of incoherent mumbles that sounded like “Mumble mumble mumble goddamn mumble f-cking Teddy Ruxpin mumple mumble bastard mumble mumble misterable son of a bitch Fobs mumble mumble mumble sh_t, goddamnit!” And while I don’t think I broke down in tears at any point, the option was certainly on the table.

That night at HSN on the phones, while taking orders, I asked the callers (Mostly 90 year old ladies calling to buy capodemonte soup tureens and what have you) if they’d happened to catch Teddy that morning, until my manager got really really mad at me.

During my 10th or 12th hyperprofane outburst it suddenly struck me that I was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too involved in all this and that, in a larger sense, I was watching way the hell too much TV.

I decided then and there that my new years resolution would be to watch no TV whatsoever for a year. It kicked in four months later, and I actually kept it: I watched no TV whatsoever that next year. Fortunately, it was 1988 so there was nothing good on anyway.

Before, During, and After the Trail of Tears

Back in the 19th century, there were what they called “The Five Civilized Tribes.” These were the Cherokee, the Choctaw, the Chickasaw, the Creek, and the Seminole.

They were called that – even by themselves – because they’d recognized the times had changed, and adopted White ways. They’d abandoned most of their traditional ways of living, moved into American-styled towns and houses. Most took up then-modern farming and other jobs. Most of them had learned to speak English at least as a second language. Most of them had converted to Christianity. A great many had adopted White names. As all these tribes were Southern, they’d even adopted slavery. Despite this, Indians weren’t citizens in those days, and most of them lived in Tribal lands defined by treaty (This was before Reservations), in Indian-only communities. (Not counting missionaries, slaves, and the occasional White spouse). It’s important to remember that Indians weren’t citizens in those days.

The Cherokee were far and away the most successful of these tribes, mostly because they’d always been the most liberal. I mean “Liberal” in the sense of being quick to dispense with tradition if something better comes along. Pragmatic, as well. The other four “Civilized Tribes” were a bit slower. Indians as a whole were very reticent to change traditional ways. Who can blame them?

The Cherokee, meanwhile, had their own newspapers in their own language written in their own alphabet, they had a good school system, and they were pretty wealthy, as these things go. Though there were several groups in several different places, the bulk of them lived in a large hunk of land in Georgia, and their capital was a town called “New Echota.”

Eventually Gold was discovered on Cherokee land, and everyone was screwed. White settlers wanted that land, and started taking it, often violently. This led to what eventually became “The Indian Removal Act,” in which Congress decided to gather up all the Indians east of the Mississippi, and dump ’em in “The Indian Territory” (The eastern part of modern Oklahoma). While mostly this was just an attempt to get rid of inconvenient people to facilitate a land grab, there was a degree of mercy to it as well. They were going to grantee the Indians’ safety, move them to new lands where they wouldn’t have conflict with white folk. This was a shitty, racist thing to do, obviously, but in the wonky mindset of the times, Whitey Devil thought he was being nice.

Famously, the Cherokee mounted a serious legal challenge to this. It went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States and…surprise!…The Indians Won! It didn’t matter. Andrew Jackson challenged the Supreme Court to enforce their decision, and nobody knew what to do about it. They attempted (Eventually) to impeach him, but that failed. Now, it’s important to realize that Andrew Jackson didn’t hate Indians. Two of his sons were adopted Indian Orphans, and by all accounts he loved them dearly and didn’t care about their race. He really, really, really wanted the Five Civilized Tribes’ land, however. And he kinda hated the Supreme court.

Ok, so here’s where it gets interesting:

The Cherokee realized they were screwed. They had about two years before they were evicted. The Cherokee were ruled by a council, with two factions in it: The “Pin” Cherokee and the regular old Cherokee. The “Pins” were pureblood, insofar as anyone could be sure, and wore pins – essentially club pins – to make sure everyone knew. These guys had way more voice on the council than anyone else.

The council hatched a plan: Concluding that a little of something is better than all of nothing, why not approach the Federal Government with a counter-offer? Rather than wait for the deadline for removal, they’d offer to leave a year early *IF* the Federal Government would pay them for the land, and arrange transport and provisions. This would get them some money, whereas if they waited the lands would just be taken, *AND* it would allow them to get to Oklahoma a year before the other tribes and gobble up all the best land, giving them an advantage. They figured the federal government would jump at it. It really was a very clever plan.

The Pin Cherokee adamantly opposed it. After a lot of argument, and that deadline ticking closer, the regular Cherokee on the council decided to just go ahead and do it anyway. As predicted, the Feds jumped at it because it allowed them to open up tens of thousands of acres – some with gold – up for settlers much earlier.

This was only questionably legal. The Council went behind it’s own back and ignored the more powerful members, so it was probably an illegal treaty. The Pin Cherokee opposed it ’til their dying days, but the Feds said “No takebacks,” and thus we have the Trail of Tears.

All the bad stuff you know about it is true, but it’s more expansive. The first batch of Cherokee were supposed to be met at various locations along the route by various organizations – mostly church groups – who’d give them supplies, food, shelter, etc. Given this, the Army underestimated the amount of supplies and transport they’d need. For whatever reason, the civilian resupplies didn’t materialize. Mostly it was bad scheduling, people not keeping promises, or the Cherokee making slower progress than expected, meaning they didn’t make connections. It was FUBARED. As a result, the Army (Who weren’t particularly sympathetic, but didn’t hate them) didn’t have nearly enough supplies to make up the difference. Added to which, the weather was just beyond awful for months. The end result was that a whole bunch of people died, but it’s important to note that nobody was *trying* to kill them. I am not justifying this. IThis was a hugely awful racist thing to do, but its disastrousness owed more to typical bureaucratic fuckupery than flat out Nazi-styled evil. In fact, many of the Army complained about how awful the thing was.

So then they got to Oklahoma, and promptly gobbled up all the good land, as planned.

Now, not all of them went willingly. Many refused to accept the treaty, and there were several waves of forced migration. President Van Buren never opposed removal, but he did tell the army to stop the draconian shit (“show every possible kindness to the Cherokee and to arrest any soldier who inflicted a wanton injury or insult on any Cherokee man, woman, or child.” which is 19th-century-ese for “Knock it the fuck off!” He put nicer officers in charge) After that, things got better. Not pleasant, mind you, certainly not *right,* but more on the order of a normal long wagon train and less like the Batan Death March. The subsequent forced removal of the other Indian tribes was far less eventful than the clusterfuck the Cherokee were forced through. I’m not being glib, but volunteering to go first means you’re gonna be going through the system before the bugs get worked out.

So when the other Civilized Tribes got there, they had no choice but to live on crappier land. There were a lot of hard feelings. There were also a lot of hard feelings among the Cherokee themselves, and a bloody civil war broke out within the tribe almost immediately. It lasted for seven years, with the Pin Cherokee and their supporters on one side, and the regular Cherokee and their supporters on the other. The war didn’t really end until everyone of the Regular Cherokee Councilmen who’d signed the treaty were dead.

Except one: Standhope Oowattie, who also went by Standhope Wattie, Stand Wattie, or just Stand. This was a translation of a Cherokee word, but he seldom used it in Cherokee. Being just a hell of a cavalryman, he managed to survive the whole war, and negotiated his safety at the end.

There were understandably some super-de-duper-de pissed-off feelings towards the US after all this, so when the Civil War started, the Cherokee naturally sided with the South. Some Cherokee recognized this as a bad idea, of course, and went Union. This led to yet another civil war within the tribe, though not as bad as the first since the dispute came down to “I hate the United States” vs “I hate the United States too, but there’s no way we can win.” The angrier side made up the majority, again, understandably.

For its part, the Confederacy was surprisingly pro-Indian. They had a very weak Western boarder, and they knew it, and figured Indians were ready-made Horse Cavalry. The Five Civilized Tribes agreed, and were promised some kind of special representation in the CSA congress once they won. It’s unknown what the details of this would have been, and undoubtedly the CSA wouldn’t have kept their word anyway, but the Cherokee and the others fought really well.

Stand Wattie once again proved to be a really good military man, and eventually was promoted to Brigadier General in the Confederate Army. He was the first American Indian flag officer in North America, though of course he was on the wrong side. After Lee’s surrender, the Cherokee held out for more than two months. Wattie (Who was Principal chief of the entire tribe by then) finally negotiated a surrender that included freedom for all his men. Then he beat it off to Texas for a while to reunite with his family and see which way the wind was going to blow. Predictably the Confederate Cherokee were entirely removed from power, and the Union Cherokee were in power, so Stand lived as an exile with the Choctaw for a while.

The man must have been as good with words as Robespierre, though, as he managed to not only talk the Cherokee into taking him back (As a private citizen, no role in government), but also to get sent to Washington as part of a committee to renegotiate the US treaties with the various tribes in the Indian Territory.

So there you go: a broader picture of a disgraceful event in our nations history, in context, and a look at not only how clever the Cherokee of those days were, but also the very many ways in which they got screwed.

Comments? Thoughts? Don’t take my word on any of this. Check it out for yourself. It’s a fascinating period in history. And if I got something wrong, please let me know. I’m working from memory here.

A Tasty Book on a Steel Beach

Once upon a time there was a guy who read a book that was so bad he hurled it across the room several times. He would have just stopped reading, but he was too OCD for that. After he’d finished it he hated the book with an anger that he had never felt for an inanimate object before. It wasn’t just a bad book, he thought, it was a personal affront, an attack, the literary equivalent of bringing someone home for a one night stand who then holds you down, mugs you, and steals hundreds of hours of your time, leaving you only with disturbing images in your memory.
He wanted to HURT. It wasn’t enough to throw it out, or take a whiz on it and then throw it out, nor even to burn it. No, he wanted to the book to pay for what it did to him.
He dreamed up a revenge which was probably unique in the history of the world: He had an old fish tank, and filled it with water. He went out back and caught a catfish. He put the catfish in the tank. He also put the book in the tank. He never fed the catfish, so the catfish ate the entire book over the course of a month or two. Catfish will eat anything.
Then he killed, cooked and ate the catfish. His insane vengeance -and his peckishness – sated, he was content. He knew he’d win any ‘can you top this’ competitions for the forseeable future, and he did, but time passed and eventually he mostly forgot about it.
Years later, through the typically perverse machinations of chance, he ended up talking to the author. Predictably they got to talking about his books.
“What did you think of this one?” The author asked. The man’s face became a rictus. He thought of changing the subject or simply lying, but he’d waited a half-instant too long and the author knew something was up. He gazed at the man with an expression that was just awkward enough that he knew there was no way of getting out of it.
“I disliked it so much that I fed it to a fish and then I ate the fish.”
The author’s jaw literally and not figuratively dropped. ‘Oh crap,’ thought the man. To try and salvage the situation he quickly added, “But I’ve read it again since then and it was really good. I don’t know what I was thinking,” he lied.
The author exploded with laughter, which was certainly not the thing the man had expected.
“That’s the weirdest damn thing I’ve ever heard. You really did that?”
“Uhm….yes sir.”
“Damn, I wish I’d thought of that. Off the top of my head, there’s a few books I’ve read that are deserving of the Catfish treatment.”
The conversation then turned to other things, and they parted – unexpectedly – as casual friends. In the fullness of time they drifted apart, since the author was, well, an author, and the man was just a crazy guy with a fish tank.
He always felt a little guilty about lying to the author about re-reading it. It was trivial as sins go, and entirely understandable, but again his OCD wouldn’t let him forget it. After seven or eight years, he finally said ‘enough’ and borrowed a copy from a friend.
‘Son of a bitch,’ he thought, ‘I really *don’t* know what I was smoking back then. This really *IS* a pretty great book after all!”

POEM: “Flood”

Waiting for the flood

Two hours left to go


I’ve heard this song before

But it seems different this time

the rhythm is wrong

The singing is off key

I’m more nervous

Then I’ve been

When I’ve heard it before.

I think it’s the sky

Which is lovely and blue

With big white clouds

And it’s dry as a bone

Hermine is gone

But I’m waiting for the flood

The last time this song played

It had rained for ten days

It crested the anclote

It shut down all roads

To the south, west, east

We were told to evacuate

But I ignored it

I was lazy

I was not scared

It was bumper to bumper

To the north.

Screw that.

I just waited for the flood

To end.

Or when Betty was here

And river met road

I walked the perimeter

In the eye of the storm

My subdivision was an island

For a day or so.

But it was dark

A scowling sky

All the rain of course,

So I wasn’t scared.

I’m not scared now

But I am strangely nervous

Because the song is off the beat

And the sky is wrong.

The first time I ever saw Steve McQueen

It was probably spring of 1969, or early summer. I was three, and, yes, I can remember stuff from when I was three. Two even.

My step-grandmother got really ill, and no one would take care of her since everyone in the family hated her. So my mom decided to do it. (It was my dad’s stepmother) The two of us flew from Great Falls, Montana to West Palm Beach, and took care of her for six weeks. My dad would fly down from Montana on the weekends, spend the night, then head back again. It was the 60s and you could do that.
Anyway, so she had a small, dark retiree house that I have only vague memories of, which was full of dark child-hazard retiree things (“Butterscotch Candies,” trip-hazards, top-heavy bookcases, etc) I think. I don’t remember details. the lights were always out in there. In any event, there was no room for us in the house itself, so my mom and I slept in the screened-in back porch. For six weeks. On those rickety fold-out old-people cots with springs and stuff. Not like couch beds, but big low metal things that folded in half in the middle and had springs holding up a thin mattress, like you’d see in a hospital drama from around 1940. I used to sleep with my hand between the mattress and the metal edge of the frame because it calmed me down for some reason.
Every morning we’d get up, unmake the cots, fold ’em up and stash ’em by the wall, eat breakfast,and then my mom would take care of step-grandma Lucille while I was pretty much stashed on the back porch, without a lot of toys, if any. (Can’t remember specifically, but I’m not sure matchbox cars even existed yet. Or was it hotweels?) Anyway, I sat out there all day drawing with my crayons, making random paterns of circles and boxes that I called cars. When I got bored, I’d watch TV. I can’t remember if the TV was on the porch, or just inside in the dark house.
Anyway, one day, on a saturday, I turned on the TV and heard this snazzy theme song that genuinely sounded pretty good.
Yeah! What 3 year old wouldn’t enjoy that?
Then it starts out with a meteor crashing! Even better! Then some gummy old fool pokes the meteor with a stick and it breaks open and the blob climbs up the stick and on to the old guy’s arm. He runs away screaming and Steve McQueen hits him with his car. I screamed, turned off the TV, and hid on the porch, worried that the Blob was gonna get me.
Later that day my dad got in from the airport, and we went for a walk on the golf course my grandmother’s house backed up to. He could tell something was bugging me, but he couldn’t coax it out of me. I was afraid that if I talked about it, it would happen. Later he tried to hold my hand to make sure I’d be safe while we were walking around the neighborhood.
I yanked my hand away because I was afraid the blob would somehow materialize in between our hands and eat us both. My dad was very annoyed at this.
And that is the story of the first time I saw Steve McQueen.

The moment in 2009 when Blockbuster finally made me snap…

The following is a screed I wrote back in 2009, that I’d completely forgotten about until I stumbled across it right now. Basically Blockbuster irritated me one time too many, and I never ever went back. This matters not at all now, with them being defunct, and it mattered very little then, honestly, but it bugged me enough to rant about it.

I don’t recall what I did with the rant. Was it an email to a particular friend? One of my irritating mass-emails to everyone I knew? Did I stick it up on a blog somewhere? No clue. Anyway, I read it and I laughed.

It probably isn’t as funny to you as it was to me rediscovering it just now, but here it is nevertheless. Angry Impotent Rage: the most valuable kind of history.

That’s it, Blockbuster is now officially completely useless. I went to one today to rent the new Pokemon movie, “Giratina and the Sky Warrior.” I lumped all around the store while no one helped me, or pointedly ignored me, then waited in a line while no one asked if I’d found what I was looking for. When someone finally deigned to acknowledge my existence, I asked them for the movie. The fat chain-smoking lady behind the counter stared blankly at the computer for a long time without saying anything. “Sorry, there’s a crap-load of Pokemon stuff.”


Sure, fine, whatever,” I said, then she went back to staring blankly at the screen.

Don’t have it.”

Don’t have it today, or don’t have it ever?” I asked.

We don’t carry it in the store.”


Dunno. Sorry.” She stared blankly at me for a while, no doubt dreaming of the cigarettes I was keeping her from.

Could you call the store over in [blank],” I asked.


What? Why not?” I asked, growing annoyed.

Blockbuster doesn’t carry that movie,” she said.

Are you sure?” I asked, “Why not?”

I dunno, but you’re not going to find it here.” She stared at me in some annoyance. Presently I turned to leave.

Sorry,” she said absently.

Yeah, I’m sure the guilt’ll keep you awake tonight,” I mumbled, and left.

And that’s it: I’m done with Blockbuster forever. Forever, I say.

The fact is that they’ve never been a particularly good video chain. They’ve got 45 zillion copies of “Ouch, My Scrotum!” and “America’s Funniest Canadian Hookers,” and the latest interchangeable Sandra Bullock/Julia Roberts romantic comedies, but they don’t have Star Trek IV: The One With The Whales, they have nothing related to B5, they’re for suck on foreign films, their anime section consists entirely of Sailor Moon and lipstick lesbian crap….gaaaah! It’s making me crazy, it’s making me nuts. Their selection sucks worse and worse by the day. There’s an entire Adam Sandler *Section* in the one by my house – an entire section! No on can explain to me why people haven’t yet risen up in righteous anger and beaten Adam Sandler to death, using Rob Schneider as their weapon of choice to do so, and this store gives the guy an entire section? They’ve got 11 copies of the Lindsay Lohan reboot of “Herbie the Love Bug,” but not a single copy of anything by Akira Kurisowa? Bastards! Utter bastards!

If I’m honest, I always felt a bit guilty about dealing with them. They essentially destroyed the Mom-and-Pop Video Store industry in the 80s, though the Mom-and-Pop stores also sucked, I still feel guilty about all those people who lost their jobs and presumably homes and spouses in the wake of the Blockbuster Juggernaut (Hey! A non-mixed metaphor for once!) I was always annoyed by the way they dealt with superior competitors, like the AVN franchise: they simply bought them and shut them down. Evil.

But even so, I tolerated them because I’m not Harlan Ellison, and there’s just too damn many things in my life that I’m furious about already. I can’t go borrowing more trouble. Also, if you want a simple, straightforward populist film, like a recent thriller, or a Harry Potter film, or any superhero flick, that’s the place to go. They’ve always been family oriented (or so they say, though I suspect “Family Oriented” is simply California liberal elite slang for “Lowbrow”), but at least they have a wide selection of boring family movies and kid flicks. They’ve always had the latest Pokemon flick up until now. I mean, the animation in those things – or at least the shorts that go along with them – is pretty amazing, you know? “Camp Pikachu” is beautiful to look at, and who doesn’t like the Pichu brothers?

Aside from the fat chain smoking lady, of course, she’s taken all that away from me.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that’s not her fault, clearly she’s not the one making the decisions, but she’s the bearer of bad news, and it is my right as the one bad-newsed-upon to cut her head off. I know, however, that this is really just the final straw that’s been coming for decades: Blockbuster *always* sucked, but now they suck so bad as to be intolerable. I mean, my God, they had an entire “Marly & Me” display up! And this was surrounded by a “If you like this movie about dogs, you might also like these” display of random dog-related comedies. If they’d had a decent foreign film section – which they don’t – I would have slipped a couple copies of “Man Bites Dog” in to it, just out of spite, but no, not even that! The bastards!

Screw it. I’m signing up for netflix, I’ll just stop eating lunch in order to pay for it….

EPISODE REVIEW: Babylon 5: “Survivors” (Season 1, Episode 11)

My one word review? Maudlin. My longer review? Read on:


President Santiago (Re-elected in “Midnight on the Firing Line”) is en rout to B5 aboard “Earth Force 1.” (Oooh! Nice!) Meanwhile, there’s an explosion in the Cobra Bays (From whence the fighters are launched). The Presidential Security Team that arrived on the station about the same time investigates and finds evidence of sabotage. Further investigation implicates Garibaldi. Garibaldi runs to try and clear his name, and eventually he does. The president arrives at the station without incident.

MEANWHILE, there’s no subplot whatsoever. Yeah, that’s right kids: as anemic as the A story is, that’s all we have to sit and stare at.

The End


There’s not really a lot here to even talk about. Garibaldi is an alcoholic, though he’s been on the wagon for some time. Interestingly, this is foreshadowed in The Gathering in a scene where Garibaldi is in the Casino with a drink in front of him, and he’s just staring at it as if trying to decide what to do. He was apparently already an alcoholic when he worked security on the ice mines of Europa back in 2241. He got into trouble with the local mob, but rather than kill him they went after his best friend, Frank Kemmer. Garibaldi became a raging alcoholic at that point, and was “Blackballed throughout the solar system.” He eventually lost his jobs on Orion IV and Mars for alcoholism, and as they said in “Midnight on the Firing Line,” he’d been fired from his five previous jobs and B5 is his last chance to make good. He’s been precariously on the wagon for a couple years, and he’s back on it again now, but his addiction will come back, and people will die because of it.

In the kind of coincidence that could only happen in cheesy SF, Frank Kemmer’s daughter is in charge of presidential security, and she’s got an axe to grind with him. The scene where Garibaldi is laying drunk on the floor and she comes in and says “Drunk again, Uncle Mike?” and he sees her as a little girl is particularly cloying.

Babylon 5 isn’t some jerkwater gas station in the middle of nowhere, it’s a highly prestigious and high profile assignment at THE major port of call in the space lanes. So why is a broken-down five-time loser like Garibaldi in charge of security? Yeah, yeah, I know: Sinclair insisted. So why is a broken-down loser like Sinclair in charge of the station? We’ll find out in twelve more weeks.

Given all the stuff that happened to Franklin last week, he seems fine here, you know? A little too fine.

It’s unclear if the terrorist attack here is to kill the president or just cripple B5, since the bombs seem set to go off during the honor guard, before he comes aboard. That might just be bad planning on the part of the terrorists, I guess. The initial bombing was accidental, set off by the construction equipment in the Cobra Bays. Homeguard was behind the whole thing, because of their opposition to Santiago’s “New immigration and trade policies.”

While on the lam, Garibaldi goes to some people for help: Londo takes pity on him and slides him some cash, G’kar offers to hire him as a traitor to serve his people; Na’Grath just throws him out. Garibaldi seems a bit intimidated when he gets close to Na’Grath. Did he not know what he looked like? How?

By the way, Na’Grath (Who is not the guy who sang “I just wanna’ fly”) uses a translator: that glowing thing on his chest.

Garibaldi pops out of the methane breather sector into the ‘normal’ section using an access hatch, which lets a lot of fog through. Uhm…that’s methane, right? Isn’t he dumping a whole lot of poison gas into the oxygen section? Shouldn’t that set off an alarm or something? It’s a major health hazard! Shouldn’t everyone be able to smell it? When the security team shoots at him, shouldn’t it ignite the methane?

…which raises a question I’ve had for a while now: When our heroes leave the Methane sections of the station, do they stink? If not, why not?

Lou Welch returns here: this is the first time we’ve seen him since “The Gathering.” The Swiss Chick also has a couple lines.

Heavy Cutters” used by the construction teams on B5 use “Antiprotons,” evidently they use some kind of mater/antimater reaction to cut metal?

Using Jerry Doyle’s age as a base, Garibaldi must have been about 21 on Europa. That seems about right. Major Kemmer, however, seems way too young for her job. Kinda’ brutal, too.

Ivanova’s badass line of the week: Smiling while she says “You are going to resist, I hope?”

The Vree, who sent flying saucers to attack the station in “Deathwalker” are known for their repulsive eating habits. Even the Narn are put off.

Fugitives are referred to as “Blips” in this episode. The Psicorps uses this terminology as well.

Major Kemmer’s “Command Center” is a redress of Sinclair’s office.

Breathers” and “Oxypills” allow people to sober up very quickly.

Zeta Squadron,” the stations fourth, arrives in this episode. It was supposed to arrive two years previously, but was postponed for budget cuts. Budgetary problems will play a major role in the next episode.

Holographic video games show up in this ep, in the casino. Holograms will return on such infrequent instances as the writers remember they exist.

Mark Scott Zicree wrote this episode. Based on a quick look at his credits, it would appear he was a friend of Straczynski’s, as they worked on a few of the same previous episodes.


Useless episode. Filler. Not a flat-out bad episode, as B5 has very few of those until the last season, but this is one you could skip without even noticing it.


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