Nick Varney (courtesy)

Nick Varney (courtesy)

Unhinged Alaska: Winter fusses

“So,” he said, “there will still be dude and dudette taters?”

Last Friday we underwent an example of how our household is still suffering a bit of a chaotic “ya gotta be &*^%$#@%$ me” mental hangover from the blitzkrieg of weirdness that drove the engine of 2020.

My eccentric bud, W. W., kicked off the morning by calling and ranting about some supposedly E-vile goings on in cyber space.

He was more over the edge than usual and was tough to handle without pounding my first cup of triple-caf’ brew.

I had a hard time comprehending the first part of his blathering and calmly asked him to repeat himself, minus the interwoven screeches.

What I really should have done was just hung up and let him do battle with the answering machine. He never would have known the difference because, when W’s on fire, the only one he listens to is himself.

I’ve walked off and left the old boy rambling beside a campfire for hours. When I finally slipped back into camp, he would still be yammering and the adjacent spruce would be shedding nut brown needles while dying of boredom.

Anyway, I finally deciphered that he was in a nuclear snit over some news report that he watched concerning an old play pal from his earlier years, Mr. Potato Head, and the way he was carrying on, I thought his jaws were going to come unhinged.

It turned out that his uproar was based on the rumor that Hasbro had made an announcement that it was removing “Mr.” from the Potato Head brand name to be more inclusive.

His sister had shown him her Facebook page ablaze with manically typed out social media harangues about how it was about time that everything, including children’s toys, be gender non-conforming while others thought Hasbro came across as having the marketing intellect of kitty litter.

I told him to chill because the company had come out with a tweet declaring that stated, “Your main spud, MR. POTATO HEAD isn’t going anywhere!” Adding that the characters will be joined by a new set called ‘Create Your Potato Head Family’ launching this fall. It would come with an assortment of detachable body parts and three slate-clean plastic potatoes (two adults and a baby).”

“So”, he said, “there will still be dude and dudette taters?”

“Yep, and those who are into customizing plastic tubers can configure their toys with whatever items that come with the embellishment options offered excluding, of course, boiled, baked or hash browned modifications. Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head aren’t going anywhere, W. The brand is just going to be renamed “Potato Head”. Satisfied?”

“Well, yeah. It’s just with all the nut-ball things going on, common sense is so damn rare nowadays; it should be rated as a super power.”

“Direct hit, Bro.”

“So, what else is up, Nicko?” W. puffed. “Izat cold enough for ya? Man, it’s flat nasty! I hear the chill factor is down ta Twitter Trolls IQ’s. Ifen it gets any frostier, I’ll start havin’ flashbacks about my ex.”

I told him things were pretty tame around the burg except for continuing winter dust-ups between the mask, anti-mask, vaccine, anti-vax, crowds and some deep debates on whether Kale is a viable alternative to sheetrock.

He asked if my lady and I had completed our series of C-shots.

I said that we had, much to the aggravation of a relative of mine who is convinced we are now currently infused with nanobots and no longer have free will.

I informed the fretter that we were feeling just fine, although I was becoming a bit annoyed about having to cut my toenails with pruning shears and fire up the hedge clipper every time I need to trim a new profusion of body hair. He snorted, “So what’s new Sasquatch? You been doing that since your growth spurt just after you turned thirteen.” Ouch.

Moving right along …

I’m not quite sure who’s generating some of this blackball hysteria but it is obvious that many of the social media sites are infested with more squirrels than the Tongass National Forest. What’s next, some basement-sequestered buzzkill specialist launching an investigation into the labor conditions in Santa’s workshop?

I wouldn’t be surprise, with the subterranean level of IQs currently active in the Chicken Little culture of the totally clueless.

Nick can be reached at

More in Life

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Downtime

Now here we are, two-thirds of the way through the longest month of the year

Robert “Bob” Huttle, posing here next to Cliff House, spent the night in this cabin in April 1934 and mused about a possible murder there. (Photo courtesy of the Huttle Collection)
Twists and turns in the history of Cliff House — Part 2

How much of the doctor’s actions Bob Huttle knew when he stayed in Cliff House 10 years later is difficult to know.

Achieving the crispy, flaky layers of golden goodness of a croissant require precision and skill. (Photo by Tresa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Reaching the pinnacle of patisserie

Croissants take precision and skill, but the results can be delightful

This 1940s-era image is one of few early photographs of Cliff House, which once stood near the head of Tustumena Lake. (Photo courtesy of the Secora Collection)
Twists and turns in the history of Cliff House — Part 1

Here, then, is the story of Cliff House, as least as I know it now.

Minister’s Message: What’s in a name?

The Scriptures advise, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.”

Visitors put on personal protective equipment before an artist talk by Dr. Sami Ali' at the Jan. 7, 2022, First Friday opening of her exhibit, "The Mind of a Healthcare Worker During the COVID-19 Pandemic," at the Homer Council on the Arts in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
ER doctor’s paintings follow passage of pandemic

Dr. Sami Ali made 2019 resolution to paint every day — and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Almond flour adds a nuttiness to this carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: A ‘perfect day’ cake

Carrot cake and cream cheese frosting make for a truly delicious day off

Minister’s Message: A prayer pulled from the ashes

“In that beleaguered and beautiful land, the prayer endures.”

A copy of “The Year of Magical Thinking” by author Joan Didion is displayed on an e-reader. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Didion’s “Year of Magical Thinking” is a timely study on grief

‘The last week of 2021 felt like a good time to pick up one of her books.’

Megan Pacer / Homer News
Artist Asia Freeman, third from left, speaks to visitors on Nov. 1, 2019, at a First Friday art exhibit opening at Kachemak Bay Campus in Homer.
Freeman wins Governor’s Arts Humanities Award

Bunnell Street Arts Center artistic director is one of nine honored.

Zirrus VanDevere’s pieces are displayed at the Kenai Art Center on Jan. 4, 2022. (Courtesy Alex Rydlinski)
A journey of healing

VanDevere mixes shape, color and dimension in emotional show