deer behind grass

Small Ear Canal — Sept. 19, 2022


🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Ear Flushing👂
Grunge God🎶
Tech Guy📺


If you have to have a doctor tell you a body part or yours is small, I suppose one of the least offensive would be the ear canal. That’s what a doctor told me this morning, after I finally broke down and actually went to said doctor’s office more than a week after I ceased to be able to hear out of my right ear.

I’d tried everything to avoid the doctor’s office. Nasal spray to clear up congestion. Ear drops. Holding my nose and blowing like I was trying to inflate myself. Nothing worked, and when I woke up this morning worse than ever, I made an urgent care appointment, took a day off work because I generally felt like poop, and went.

I know I’m getting older. I accept that. Yet one area in which my comparable age still is very jarring is with medical care. It was fine when Major League Baseball players started being younger than me. And when most of my coworkers started being pups. But doctors? Medical assistants? The people in whom I trust this magnificent but aging dad bod? Do they have to look like people whom I would sit down and say, “Let me tell you a story about how things were back in grandpa’s day”?

The medical assistant who took my vitals and first peered into my ear hole was impossibly young. When she mentioned that the ear was severely packed with wax, I was not proud. I keep myself clean. I also know not to jam Q-tips into my ear holes. I learned that one the hard way. But I do keep up on my auditory hygiene. The ability to hear means the ability to hear music, and without that, I’d want to die.

The doctor came in, confirmed the statement of the medical assistant, who didn’t have to incur so much student debt to be able to arrive at the same diagnosis, and then sent for the medical assistant to do the dirty work.

The medical assistant (I missed her name, owing to the fact that she introduced herself while on my right side — the side of the clogged ear) proceeded to squirt a 55-gallon drum of saline and hydrogen peroxide, perhaps mixed with vinegar (???), into my ear hole, stopping from time to time to utter things such as, “Wow, that’s really deep in there” and “You want to see what’s come out so far?” while taking from me the bowl I held below my ear to catch the runoff. I didn’t take her up on the offer.

When the entire doctor’s office was running low on water to shoot into my head, she paused, got some sort of ear drops, dumped those in, and told me to sit there with my left ear as close to my left shoulder as possible for 10 minutes. Then, she returned with a new 55-gallon drum and flooded my head again.

Voila! All of a sudden, I could hear again!

Aaaaaaand, I immediately got super dizzy and sorta fell/leaned into her like a drunk guy at the bar. “Woah, woah, woah there,” she said, steadying me with one hand while holding my ear runoff with the other. Talented woman, she was.

Turns out the dizzy thing was “normal” due to the sudden change in pressure in my ear. “Isn’t the human body wonderful?” I sarcastically said as she cleaned up her stuff and prepared to fetch the doctor.

“I love this stuff, actually,” she said. “It’s fascinating.”

“You do you,” replied I.

The doctor soon came back in and, having avoided the dirty work of flushing crap out of my ear, told me my eardrum was red, irritated and a bit swollen from being clogged. She also told me I had a small ear canal.

“Why thank you,” I said. “That’s the nicest thing anybody’s said to me so far today.”

She didn’t seem much in the mood for humor — or, at least, my humor. It was 8:45 a.m. on a Monday, after all, and she had started her week gazing into my gunked-up ear. I get it. I didn’t push things any further.

“So, you’re good to go,” she said awkwardly. “Want your paperwork?”

“I’ll pass,” I said, and off I went to the rest of my day.


Eddie Vedder is a grunge god. On the Mount Rushmore of grunge music, there is Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Alice in Chain’s Layne Staley, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. Period. That’s the list.

Of the original Mt. Rushmore, only Eddie remains. Cobain and Cornell died by suicide, and Staley died of a drug overdose.

Boys The Elder & Younger journeyed to St. Louis last night to listen to Pearl Jam in support of their “new” album Gigaton, which came out in 2020 right before COVID shut down their tour. The concert was amazeballs. It was a perfect blend of old and new, harder and softer, and, unlike the first time I saw the band, they did sing my favorite PJ song, Black.

I live for live music. And the week’s not done. Wednesday night is Alice in Chains. It’s not the same without Staley, and the last picture I saw of AiC’s other big name, Jerry Cantrell, showed him with short freaking hair. We’ll see if I can get past that.


As my father-in-law faded toward what comes Next in January 2021, I was able to visit him in his hospital room. He was not the man I remembered, the man who welcomed me into the family so long ago and with whom I would annually watch five high school basketball games in one day. Ravaged by COVID following heart surgery, he had shrunk to nothing and was very much in the process of dying. He would finally pass the next morning.

On that last visit, I tearfully told him he didn’t have to fight anymore, that I would do what I could to help take care of Mom (AKA The Judester) and he could rest easily knowing we’d step up.

So when Wifey Poo called me this morning and asked if I could meet her at Mom’s apartment, that’s what I did. A storm smashed her senior living community last week, and a lightning bolt fried many residents’ electronics, including the Judester’s TV. Wifey Poo went with her to get a new set today, yet Wifey Poo and the Judester combined have the technological acumen of your average gerbil. It’s not a knock on either of them. Both are amazing at far more important things, like, for example, raising good kids, which, in my opinion, is of greater societal value than the ability to hook up a television.

So I made the 12 minute drive, got her TV set up and, while I was there, hooked up an Echo Dot so she could listen to 1950s music and fixed her computer speakers (the latter of which involved plugging in a cord that must have come out at some point). The Judester was happy and appreciative. Wifey Poo was happy and appreciative. And I’d like to think FIL was looking on and was happy and appreciative, too.


Soul Comforts

Soul Comforts A just-because gift An accidental nap Shared fries A hidden note, found A joined passion A soft hand Communicated desires A hug, freely given A safe landing place A secluded table Memory-filled songs Appreciation, openly stated Take me away from here Take me away Take me Take A common blanket A slow dance…

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Today’s Reasons to Keep Living

  1. Alice in Chains on Wednesday.
  2. I’ll stick around a few more days since I can hear things now.
  3. Fall starts Thursday with actual fall weather in the forecast!

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Death! Death! Death! — Oct. 14, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cue the Outrage 🔫Animal Extinction 🐆Eye Update 👀 Even back in the day when I considered myself a Republican (before the dark times … before the Trumpire), I never quite understood the death penalty. Perhaps it was because I looked around at the other nations that still killed people as punishment…

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Corneal Complications — Oct. 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hello Darkness, My Old Friend 👀COVID Costs 🦠Jackass Jones Verdict👩‍⚖️ I’ve spent much of this week so far in forced darkness. After I wrote on Monday morning, my right eye started to get blurry. Then it got real blurry. Then it became utterly useless. In this, I have reprised my role…

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Mattress Shopping — Oct. 10, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Awkward Shopping 🛏️Disingenuous Holiday 🗓️Help the Homeless 😔 If there’s a more awkward retail excursion than mattress shopping, I have yet to find it in my 48 years. Wifey Poo and I went to a high school gym to do exactly that on Sunday afternoon. The bed we’ve been sleeping in…

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So Long, Cards — Oct. 9, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Playoff Disappointment ⚾Oh, Britney 📲Friendship Failure 😔 In the span of just more than 24 hours, I went from the excited expectation of being in Busch Stadium to watch the hometown St. Louis Cardinals eliminate the Philadelphia Phillies and advance to the next round of the playoffs to watching those Phillies…

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Playoff Baseball — Oct. 6, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Baseball Gear-Grinders ⚾Sunrise Woes 🌄Heavy Pumpkins 🎃 There are a few baseball-related indignities in my home that, as the saying goes, grind my gears. The first is that there is a state championship trophy on the mantel above the fireplace in our Humble Country Home with a gold-plated baseball player, bat…

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There Will Be Blood — Oct. 5, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Wound Treatment 🧂Phillies Bring Doom ⚾Meetings Suck 👎🏽 Apparently, I’ll take medical advice from waitresses and allow myself to receive medical treatment from busboys. This, I learned last night. I have a tendency to get hurt in really interesting ways. When I tell you that I once got a concussion…

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Top 5 Things From The Past Week: 9/26-10/2

Welcome to Issue No. 8 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to johnagliata@gmail.com. No. 5: I held an epic car concert If you were anywhere in the vicinity of my…

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Place Your Bets — Oct. 3, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Football Picking God 🏈Fish Story 🐟Free Floating ☁️ A few months before Boy The Elder was born, I had about $100 set aside to buy Wifey Poo a gift that I intended to give her after she ushered our child into the world. It was the least I could do for,…

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Sliced Bread — Sept. 30, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Route Home 🏎️Confirmed Weirdness 🤪Here’s Your Sign 🤦 I took a new route home from the western part of Missourah yesterday after doing the whole open-house thing for work in St. Joseph. Rather than shoot down to I-70 and traverse the state on that familiar road, I went across Hwy.…

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Rental Tank — Sept. 29, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Woo-Woo vs. The Beast 🛻Dart Throwers 🎯My Job 📋 I am not used to driving a tank. My normal vehicle is Woo-Woo, AKA The Shitty Little Car, AKA a Nissan Versa. It’s practical. It gets great gas mileage. I hate it. Woo-Woo normally accelerates as quickly as a child asked to…

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LinkedIn — Sept. 26, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Unwitting Guinea Pigs 🐹False Bragging 🦹‍♂️Put Me In, Coach 🚀 My regular readers (hey, you three!) know that I have a hatred for social media’s influence on society with an intensity rivaled only by the heat of a thousand suns. The latest bit of “Are you fucking kidding me?” comes from…

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Top 5 Things From The Past Week: 9/9-9/25

Welcome to Issue No. 7 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to johnagliata@gmail.com. No. 5: I reached out to a friend I have not been shy about sharing that I’ve…

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iPhone Envy — Sept. 25, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩More Stupid Human Stuff 📱KC Trip ⚾Miserable Missourah 😠 Quick: Take a look around you. If you’re in a room with five other people, one of them thinks you’re financially struggling if you don’t have the latest iPhone. That’s according to a new survey following the release of the iPhone 14.…

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Human Babies — Sept. 23, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Loser Species 👶Email Win 📧Dad Pride 👨‍👦‍👦 I’m pretty sure I’m not normal. Normal people respond to that statement with, “Oh, John, nobody’s normal,” which is just a sign for us non-normies that the person we’re talking to is normal. Yesterday, I was waiting for Wifey Poo to pick me up…

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In It — Sept. 22, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Thoughts 🧠Marriage 💍Drunk Idiots 🧉 There’s this scene in the 2004 movie Garden State in which Sam (Natalie Portman) looks at Andrew (Zach Braff) and notices … … And yeah, that resonated with me then and resonates with me now. Ever since then, being “in it” has become a thing…

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Remembering Sarah — Sept. 21, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Beautiful Skies ⛅Two Terms For 2022 ✌️ Back in our early days at Pound Ridge Elementary School, Sarah was the fastest girl runner in the class, which bought her some serious playground cred. There were only a few of us boys who could hang with Sarah in the 50-meter dash…

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Nominee Day! — Sept. 16, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Toys in the Hall🪅Idiot Governors🗳️Flopping FedEx✈️ Last night in my hotel in Springfield, Missourah, I set out a glass of milk and a plate of cookies before going to bed. It’s not that I don’t know how to read a calendar or have any particular belief in a fat man in…

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Springfields Aplenty — Sept. 15, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Which One?🗺️Leave Introverts Alone🤫Oxford Commas🤪 I’m on the road for work this week, in Springfield. Ahhh, but Springfield what? There currently are 35 populated places in the United States named Springfield, spread out over 25 states, including five in Wisconsin. In addition, there are 35 Springfield Townships, and Ohio owns 11…

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F’n COVID — Sept. 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Surrounded 😷Wood Splitter 🌲Morons 🤪 I’ve had COVID. Twice. The first time fucked up my life for a year. I’m still not back to the me I was before it came into my home, and I’m pretty sure that now, nearly two years later, that’s not going to change. The second…

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Change of Plans — Sept. 12, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sunday audible🤒Fantasy Failure 🏈Anal Chess♟️ Sunday was supposed to be a romantic day spent in a canoe with Wifey Poo, the two of us paddling leisurely down the Meramec River. Mother Nature was not in the mood to play wingman and decided to pick the one day in the midst of…

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Why Run? — Sept. 11, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Finish Line Scene 🏃‍♂️Baseball’s Better ⚾M-I-Z! Z-O-UC-H! 🏈 I have never understood the modern-day purpose of running for the sake of running. Sure, I understand it’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise and it’s a convenient way to get from Point A to Point B, yet the desire to strap on…

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Stephen King — Sept. 9, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Book Guy 📚Queen Stuff 👑Bernard Shaw 📺 I’ve decided I want to own a copy of every Stephen King book ever written. That’s about 75 books at the moment. I have a built-in bookcase in my mancave/home office. I don’t think it would hold all 75 in hardcover, but perhaps it…

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Once Upon a Time — Sept. 7, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beginnings 📚School Start 🚌Real Baseball ⚾ I was thinking this morning on my drive to work how we rarely know when the significant times in our lives begin. So frequently, the most important things that happen to us start with nothing noteworthy. Of course, there are exceptions, the “love-at-first-sight” moments or…

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Chainsaws & Ladders — Sept. 6, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fallin’ Thoughts 🤕Shinedown 🎸Sleepy 😴 The brain can be surprisingly efficient when the meatsack it’s attached to is in the middle of falling off a ladder while holding a revved-up chainsaw. This, I learned yesterday morning while attempting to saw a limb off a tree that was getting way too close…

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Inside a Good Day — Sept. 5, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Overview📅Fantasy Football🏈Elite Bonding🤼‍♂️ Days that start with chainsaws and lighter fluid and end with four hours of really good professional wrestling are bound to be added to the “good” column for review when the scales are weighed at the end of a life. Yesterday was such a day for me. In…

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Second Mothers — Sept. 3, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Funeral 😢Glimmers ☁️Meat 🥩 If you’re lucky, you’ve had a second mother. Whether your first mother was or is an amazing person who nurtured you and raised you among calm consistency or if she was lacking in certain maternal fundamentals, having a second mother is a blessing. Today, we were there…

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Muricah the Crumbling — Sept. 2, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩We’re Dumber 👎OnlyFans Thrives 🍑Shinedown 🎵 Official statistics put the COVID death toll in the United States at 1.04 million, with another 713 deaths yesterday. More than 4,000 people are in the ICU right now suffering from what the former Moron-in-Chief called that one person coming from China and a situation…

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Bratwurst Flap — August 31, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dethroned Queen 👑Gravy Wrestling 🤼‍♂️Dog Talk 🐕 Don’t fuck with the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival board. That’s a message Abigail Brocwell is learning the hard way. Brocwell was expected to be inaugurated as the queen of the festival in the northern Ohio town earlier this month, but she was stripped of the…

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Baseball Serendipity — August 30, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩3, Unassisted ⚾A Sad Day 📅Tracking Your Vagina 🌸 The last time Boy The Younger was on a baseball field, the “coach” of his team removed him from a game in the middle of an inning because I had privately messaged him to not attempt to steal home with my kid…

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Failure to Launch — August 29, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hydrogen Issue 🚀Karting 🏎️Lake Life 😌 I was all excited to watch the launch of the moon-bound Artemis 1 rocket this morning, only to see the clock stopped at T-minus 40 minutes because of a “hydrogen issue.” Don’t know about you, but I’m thinking having an issue with hydrogen is a…

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Hypnotized — August 26, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Karen in Control ⌚Karting 🏎️What podcast? 🎧 In the winter of 1993, I went to a comedy club with a friend and, in the spur of the moment, decided to be one of those who came forward to join the fun and be hypnotized. This was decidedly out of character for…

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Outrage? — August 25, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little League Flap ⚾Grandpa Joe 🤦Psychedelics 🍄 Boys are interesting creatures who aren’t easily understood. One of the many, many weird things boys do is mercilessly make fun of their best friends. My closest friends in middle school and early in high school were affectionately nicknamed Goon, Tree Frog, Butt and…

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Life Expectancy — August 24, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Death Cometh Sooner 💀Twitter Security 🔓Game Over 🌑 Average life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2020 by almost two years in 2020, the biggest decline since World War II. Every state and the District of Columbia saw a drop. Guess it was a little bit more than that…

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Mysterious Brain — August 23, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Worm brain 🧠Chicken Big Mac 🐔Eye Twitch 👁️ Caenorhabditis elegans is probably too elegant of a name for something that is really just a disgusting little worm about a millimeter long and most easily found in rotting fruit. It is more commonly known as a lab roundworm and was the first…

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Homeschoolin’ — August 22, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Agliata Homeschool Academy 🚌Hypnosis 😳Sunburn 🌞🔥 When you tell people you homeschool your children, you typically receive one of three responses: An enthusiastic: “Oh, that’s so cool!”An I’d-rather-be-dipped-in-acid: “Oh wow! I could never do that!” A you’re-one-of-those-weirdos: “Oh… really… homeschooling, huh?” The percentage for each has changed in the wake…

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Mexican Pato O’Ward — August 21, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Indycar 🏎️Best Friends 😎Baseball Irony ⚾ There are certain people who look at car racing as an endless series of left turns. These people are idiots on whom nuance is lost. Boy The Elder and I crossed the border yesterday late-morning to head just past the fine city of East St.…

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Pig Problem — August 19, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Swine Inflation 🐖Swamp Thing 🎥Phone Calls 📱 Life was different when I went to college in Iowa after growing up in suburban New York City. This isn’t to suggest I was a city kid. I wasn’t. The city was a place we went to a few times a year, and where…

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Three-Screen Guy — August 17, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Triple-Threat 🖥️🖥️🖥️Tasmanian Tiger 🐅Video Work 📹 Humans were not meant to stare at laptop screens. At least, humans of a certain age were not meant to stare at laptop screens. I say this after successfully lobbying for a second monitor at work, which effectively turned my laptop screen into a third…

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Orange Coffee — August 16, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Look Before Brewing ☕Hoop Construction 🏀Nuclear War ☢️ If you’d like an indication of how much of a Monday yesterday was for me, know that I ended up with an orange in my coffee. Well, to be fair, it wasn’t a full-blown orange. It was something called a Cutie, which is…

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