Or someone like him

I am waiting for the cable guy.


I spit into a tube and mailed it off. It’s an odd feeling. I have given samples of every kind of fluid that my body excretes; what’s one more frisson of discomfort in a surpassingly strange world? Still, it feels like a peculiar moment in the evolving history of everything.

Maybe you’ve done this already. The tube of spit goes to the 23 and Me headquarters in Mountain View. Trained humans test it and tell you the results, including your genetic heritage and any dread diseases you may be carrying. I didn’t care about the diseases; few of them kick in after 70, and I do not believe that I will be participating in the creation of any more children.

It could have been relevant to my grandchildren, but, as it turns out, it wasn’t. No difficult talks with my daughter along the lines “you know that cough that seems to be getting worse? Maybe you should have her checked for William-James Syndrome.”

But I was curious about my heritage. My mother was adopted, so there’s a whole side to my family I know nothing about.

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My father was very Irish so that side of the family is accounted for.

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But what about the other 50 per cent? I was hoping for Cherokee blood.

The results came back. I am 99.9 per cent Northern European. I am the whitest person you know. I plan to speak on behalf of the white race from now on. Our first demand: Better sunscreen.


You can subscribe now! In answer to overwhelming public demand,  I have put a little widget up to your right — if you’re viewing this on a computer ;  or down there all the way at the bottom there — if you’re viewing it on your phone. Use said widget, and I land in your mailbox automatically. Wow.

So please subscribe. Tell everyone in your friendship circle to subscribe. Get 500 people, and you’ll receive a free airline ticket to anywhere Southwest  flies. Get 1000, and I’ll come with you, to Phoenix or wherever. I can stay with your Mom in Billy’s room.


The cable guy is still not here. The “window” was supposed to be 12-2, but that window has been shut and the blinds drawn and the residents asleep long e’er now. It’s OK, I’ll watch this again.


I don't get why he has to be so close with that lens.
Fearless photojournalist lies in mud, seeks corrupt birds

My personal hero this week is Kathy Kiely, a respected political reporter who became the Washington news director of Bloomberg News. Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire ex-mayor of New York, is, unsurprisingly, the owner of Bloomberg News.

Last week, Bloomberg kinda sorta said that he might run as a third party candidate in the 2016 presidential election. Kiely thought that was news and reported on it. Bloomberg News, which had been reluctant to write about its owner from the beginning, spiked the story. She couldn’t cover it.

So she quit. If she couldn’t do her job the right way, she wouldn’t do it at all. She said: “The organization does have to come to terms as to how to cover its owner as a newsmaker.”

Yes it does. The billionaire pushback on facts must be stopped somehow. It should start with the media asking itself about all the free publicity it’s given to Donald Trump, a person who sucks up fact-free publicity like a vacuum cleaner. The media has fed the beast; without television, Donald Trump is just another short-fingered vulgarian.

So hooray for Kathy Kiely. May her next boss be a billionaire who is not kinda sorta running for president.


Many thumbs have been sucked recently about the relationship between football and our apparent national tendency to make war while lecturing other nations about peace.  Maybe we are trained to be centurions at birth.

Maybe we don’t even care about the head trauma thing. That’s the way it seems.  There are parents out there who would let their kids play football but would not let them walk to school.

I do want to slow the pontificating down a little bit. Here’s the thing: A whole lot of the popularity of football, particularly professional football, is related to gambling. Not team spirit, not regional pride, not even breathtaking catches or spectacular runs.

An exciting last-second score is only relevant if it messes with the spread. That guy you see weeping at the end of the bar? He’s not unhappy because the home team lost; he’s unhappy because Matt Hasselbeck threw a touchdown pass in the final seconds that blew up his Tampa Bay wager. And he’s lost $1200 and he’s thinking of going double-or-nothing on the Monday night tussle.

That’s America’s game, baby.


I am a “preferred” customer, which means “a consumer too lazy to shop around for another cable plan.” So they answer quickly and they are very sorry. So sorry. I am sorry too. We are bonding over how sorry we are. The cable guy is on his way.  He was temporarily delayed by the rising waters, the civil unrest, the tainted burrito, the man on the ledge, the comet over Pittsburgh.


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This is probably not the cable guy

So let us finally decide: Who is the eviler, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz? Cruz wants to take over the government and turn it into a theocratic fascist state, sort of like Iran only with more cowboys. He’s also a yawning maw of ambition prepared to bomb a convenient Arab nation just to control the news cycle.

Trump just wants to be president. He likes the prime White House real estate, the press following him everywhere, the photo ops with colorful despots and famous pandas. He doesn’t want to bomb anyone; he just wants to look dynamic while threatening to bomb someone.

So clearly, Cruz must be destroyed. He must be buried in offal and carried off to Greenland. His flaming funeral pyre must be floated out to sea off Galveston. His name shall be anathema to all the peoples of the world.

On the other hand, Trump has as lot better chance of beating Hillary or whomever. Anyway, it’s Iowa. Those people are cray-cray.


Oh my. There has come as tapping, as of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. Is it he? Has he come to put me out of my non-HBO   misery? Hold on. I shall soon have news of my deliverance.


Nope. Neighbor, extra lemons, reminder about alternate side of the street parking. I despair.


Photography by Tracy Johnston

Widget wrangling by Michelle Mizera


26 thoughts on “Or someone like him

    1. I was hoping the results would show that you are a bit Cherokee. Then we might be related. However, I learned long ago, to great disappointment, that my 32% Cherokee blood does not qualify me for any fiscal benefit. On the other hand the physical benefits are helpful. Always tan, do not sunburn, and love nature.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My father had an expression when he really liked something,”That’s the Old Pepper!” Very appropriate for your new post. I always felt that you are one of the few people in print telling the truth. I always regarded your column as “dessert” and deliberately read everything else first, saving you for last.

    My own mother never met her father. “The family sent him away,” was the line. Grandmother then married Garber Dahle, of the Garberville founding family. Often wonder if people seen here and there might be some of my relatives.


  2. Your mother was adorable. “Cute as a button” as many people, including your father, must have said.


    1. I recently saw a show about people’s heritage that was moderated by Louis Gates and came out several years ago. The episode included a genetic test of the writer Stephen King, who also came out 99.9 percent white. So you are at least tied for the “whitest guy on the planet.” I have missed your column in the Chron, but am enjoying reading you on your new venue. I especially like the way you combine words and images in this piece. Plus it’s nice to have the hot link to words such as “anathema”. I look forward to other such opportunities to painlessly expand my vocabulary. The punchy prose style also suits this medium very nicely, and your very particular humor works well in any format. Thanks for keepin’ on!


  3. I am as white as you are. But not more white. Could anyone be more than 99.9% white? It may not be possible.


  4. Evan, Oz and Jon. White to the core. But I think for people like me whose ancestors have been in the USA since before there was a USA, it is always a little surprising there was no Native-American blood. One major reason why there were so few Native Americans in New England in 1800 was that they had intermarried with other poor people, most of whom were White.

    As for football, I think you’d need to have some statistics to prove that betting was all that important. Most of just like seeing big games on TV. More so if a team we support is in it. But I know I’m rooting for Carolina because of Cam Newton, and I’m rooting for Cam because he was such an amazing player in college. Even if he is a jerk, and has no business playing the race card because, after all, he was heavily supported by people of all races when he was in college. I suppose as an old fart I should root for Manning and his team, but I’m not.


  5. I just had the opposite experience. I was adopted, always knew my mother was Jewish. That was all I knew other than the fact she had wanted to keep me, so I spent the first 3 1/2 months of my life in a foster home. I finally decided to get tested, just so I could know something. The results came back, and I immediately assumed that there was a mixup–I am 12%, (great grandparent), African. Then I looked at the rest, yup, 44% European Jewish. Funniest part was that on the day we buried my adoptive mother–September 1, 1979, my aunt took me aside to let me know there was some deep, dark secret that my mother had come close to telling her, but had always pulled back at the last minute. The day I got my results–September 1, 2015. 36 years later, to the day, I find the answer!
    I am thrilled to finally know this about myself, to finally be able to own my own history, at least partly. And, it answers so many many questions about my life.


  6. On a visit to my cousins in New York last year, one of them took me into another room and very solemnly told me that they had recently had their DNA checked. I was bracing for news about an incurable genetic disease, but she told me that someone had reached out because the results were in a database — a person who had been conceived through artificial insemination had informed my (female) cousins that he was related. There are only three males of anywhere the right age in that branch of the family. One of my male cousins is way too straight-laced, so we ruled him out. And I did live in Long Island the year the related person was conceived and that was where he was born. I told my cousin that I am pretty sure that if I had contributed to a sperm bank, even that long ago, I would remember it. Which leaves the other cousin, who we have not been in touch with. It was a weird family moment, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. OH NO! Now I have to read your links. I finally checked them out and discovered they are full of
    fun and suprises. I particularly like the Irish, Cherokee, Galveston and Vacuum Cleaner links, none of which were predictable.


  8. I would love to subscribe but what does the widget look like? Susan Sandler

    On Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 11:10 AM, Jon Carroll Prose wrote:

    > joncarrollprose posted: “I am waiting for the cable guy. > —————————— I spit into a tube and mailed it off. It’s > an odd feeling. I have given samples of every kind of fluid that my body > excretes; what’s one more frisson of discomfort in a surpassingly strange > w” >


  9. “Waiting for the cable guy… or someone like him:” a takeoff on Firesign Theater’s “Waiting for the electrician?” If so, surprised no one else picked up on the reference. I raised our kids on Firesign Theater and they are permanently warped.


  10. Love love love the blog, JC!!!

    THANK YOU for tapping away at the ol’ typewriting device.



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