Friday, April 03, 2009

Financial News is......Never Having to Say You're Sorry.

In case you've ever looked to the media for guidance, may I make a suggestion? Look elsewhere.

There is no media worse than the financial media. Unless you saw the article strongly advising you to pull all retirement funds out of the market at it's peak, by all means, read on. I don't recall seeing that one.

If one of these writers even had your best interest at heart, they'd be clothes-lined on their way to the printing press. Instead, they're forced to look at current market activity and justify it by whatever else is going on that day. Kind of like tying another note to the carrier pigeon already going out.

Put the morning comics aside- there's more laughs to be had reading the daily gold headlines on For some misguided reason, I've been skimming it for a few years now. It's the gold mavens' equivalent for predicting rain by seeing it out the window. Breaking news of a drop in the gold price describes investors fleeing gold for some daily-news-based reason, only to be explained away tomorrow by their clamoring to get back in, as "a move to safety" from that day's events.

As instructive and helpful as a tennis commentator announcing, "He hits the ball........she hits it back!!!"

I swear, the mainstream media must have the best pool of undiscovered comedy writers yet. I can't count how many times I've had to check that I wasn't mistakenly reading The Onion.

For your consideration, note today's entry from the revered and respected excreter of financial wisdom, The website where we are richly rewarded and enlightened by the experts, so that we may trundle along in our own petty, under-educated ways, tending to whatever common idiots do:

Market Focus

Friday: If the news on jobs isn't as bad as expected, it will probably be bad enough to limit any big moves to the upside. If the news is bad it will have to be very bad to move markets that are fully expecting the worst.

Friday, February 22, 2008


I knew something was to blame-- some nefarious freewheeling menace outside my jurisdiction of responsibility was out to get me. We're just not safe you know, without helmets, vaccines, supplements and regulations.

For some time I'd been wondering why I wavered from ecstatic to mournful to perplexed to grateful to contented to enraged to mournful to pleasant. That's when the doctor diagnosed me as Octopolar.

Thank goodness that Merck, the ever generous biopharmaceutical giant, had graciously donated research funding to uncover this disease. Incidentally--they also had a remedy for it!!

I'm sure this malignant mentality was genetic, but my parents were deprived of the powers of modern medicine that could have pinpointed such illness. Hell, back then they didn't even know there was good cholesterol!

Nonetheless, I myself now have a way to lead a productive, normal life, outside the horrific ring of octopus wrestling.

Thank you Merck!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Puppet Race

All this commotion, this counting and competing, spectating and speculating on a race for two. Billary Clinton.....Obama Sin Laden.....Who will win?!?!

Not much at stake here- the worst either can do is get second place. Runner-up still puts you on the podium and in the winner's circle- well, at least in a real race.

Second only hurts in boxing.

Not to belittle the candidacy or jeopardize the security of the Homeland, but whoever gets to head up the Republocrats or the Demblicans holds zero entertainment for me. With only 50/50 odds it's not even worth gambling on.

In the bigger picture, we might be about to swap Punch for Judy in the next act of the ongoing puppet show. Even a child suspects the real players are wearing the party leaders for gloves.

The real players aren't fighting each other, they've thrown the match--right on the gasoline.

And you'd be warm, if you thought they were laughing all the way to bank; burning hot- if you knew they ran the bank.

(Wholly unrelated fact: MBNA, now defunct, was both the largest independent credit card issuer in the world, and.....the #1 campaign contributor to George W. Bush. Foreseeing the current credit meltdown in hundreds of billions of dollars, from creative leveraging of inflated mortgage and other repackaged debt, MBNA coincidentally rewrote the new bankruptcy law, don't you know....the one imposing greater restrictions on the desperate, binding back the suicidal- those who, if they could only have had a "clean start".....)

Bet the farm on the horse, put the X on the ballot, wear your heart on your sleeve. Get the sticker on your car, the sign on your lawn, get right with God.

But know the roster, know the league. It isn't Elephants vs Donkeys. It's not the NBA, the NFL, or the NHL.

Skip the sports page, the player trades and get down to business--the insider trades: the MBNA, the CITI, and the BofA.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Designer Wordplay

photo simon sollberger

Forms are pushed, accelerated, restrained or diminished. Shapes made angular, organic, or feminine. Form-Before-Function? It-Is-What-It-Is. Corners get smoothed or left stark. Edges are examined, intersections inspected. Recess the surface? Make it proud. Make it positively royal - through crowning. Dictate color, determine material, define texture, and describe process.

The haphazard, the neglected, the overlooked and heavy-handed; the ball dropped, the opportunity missed. These weigh much and are difficult to bear. Yet, happy accidents tumble forth through missteps made in earnest. Divine hand or damn luck, transgressions are soon forgiven.

We intend, emulate, borrow and hope to return. We see beauty and elevate it. We find good or fabricate it. And emerge, it does, seemingly newborn, though breathed upon, having already endured growing pains, and reached maturity. Another product conceived.

Does it further us, the further we take it? Do we embrace nature or break it? Privatize it, publicize it? Obsess to possess? We accumulate awards and parking tickets. We collect favor and debt. We gather wisdom and dust.

Spatially speaking, time is fleeting. It flees fore and aft. It's not on our side. Budgetarily, it's upside-down. Having the time of our lives, we pretend progress on solid particles, in allotted blocks of time, while physicists prove neither exists.

But the essence, the emotion, the experience does. Mindfulness, intention--in harmony or contention? Energy flows where attention goes...

The world is moving--moving its focus. Moving towards the flow of information and ideation. Moving away from the making of stuff ...that no longer moves us. As we become information, do we become passive receptors of propaganda and not-so-hidden agenda? Or, instead, generative sources--authoritative forces--that elect to perfect the way forward?

This business of motion, this passing of time, is best conducted with presence of mind.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Human Condition

photo - Simon Sollberger

I decided I could be happy on one condition only,
That I be in love......happily.
And thus I began to condition,
My hair, my leather, my air.
Everything in top condition,
As of yet, at no apparent cost,
To my financial or physical condition.

Given the right conditions I'd meet her.
It's true of course I would,
And in due course I did.
With all my heart -
On certain conditions.

That she dress just so,
She behave as such.
This conditional love, conceived unawares,
By conditions on my happiness.

It was only then I was made aware,
Of what I'd developed,
Wholly undeservedly and out of the blue:
A heart condition.

The cruelty, the timing and injustice.
Yet I would rally and I would focus,
On advisement received.
Condition yourself - new pills new food.
Physical conditioning must now appease,
And reclaim top condition,
From random disease.

Crowding my thinking, this health condition,
Precariously conditional on every move.
Inward dismay and outward decay,
To be loved unconditionally - beyond my fate.

With steady descent I watch the dissent,
Of my love from conditions given her.
In time we part and as part of the plan,
Happiness too acts a stranger.
I suffer and blame and am sure you'd complain,
Forced to live under such conditions.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Roads Scholar

The theories of quantum physics are readily observable in daily life. I pondered this a couple of Saturdays ago on the I-5 Freeway, upon witnessing the aftermath of a brutal two-car collision in the opposing lanes. Of course, I had plenty of time to ponder, as traffic on my side had come to a near-halt in order to soak it all in.

Now, I've heard of an accident site "curtain" approach that is meant to put an end to this rubberneck revelry by removing the temptation altogether (censorship abounds).
An option I would propose would be to have a photographer dispatched to the scene who could later post photos to a website common to all surface streets and freeways.

This would be advertised on billboards with an easily remembered name like or, thereby alerting drivers that they needn't waste time with the visuals right then. Instead, they could move quickly past the accident scene, avoiding the temptation to regress to mouth-breathing, staring cow mode.

Later, in their homes or offices, where it's acceptable to do less than 75 mph, they could take all the time in the world to review the particulars ("Oh-my-God! I was there!"), while slowing no one.

There may be those spectators dissatisfied with mere photos because, for instance, they're intent on learning CPR second-hand. For these special cases we could provide video, or just drag them from their cars and beat them.

Back to the website: Collisions would be listed with easily spotted, light-hearted titles like:

HWY 5 at 10- Why we have turn signals.

405 at La Brea: Surprise!--there ARE other cars on the road--in LA!--at rush hour!

La Cienega at Beverly: Hope it was an important phone call...

Alright, back to the wreckage. Apparently, either in defiance of, or outright ignorance of the laws of physics (not to mention the State of California) a black Corvette convertible had unsuccessfully tried to occupy the same physical space as a Honda CRV.

The experiment might have worked, were it not--at the same time.
Clearly and unfortunately, the Corvette was in a particle rather than wave mode, that would likely mean a wave goodbye to demerit points and affordable insurance.

Anyone the age of six could have predicted this violent outcome, but unfortunately, one has to be age sixteen to drive--by which time all hope of common sense has vanished, as the school system intended.

In practice, this accident seemed to have been a sort of two-strikes-you're out rule, leading one to believe that either the Universe isn't as lenient as the prevailing judicial system, or Someone is getting tired of this shit. "Infinite Love? You'll get Zero Tolerance and like it!"

For example:

"You want to be in that lane? OK. You got it."
"You want to be in that lane, but where that car is already? Ain't gonna happen." (Strike 1)

"You want to be in that lane, but where that car is already, and you're gonna drive like a complete prick? As if I, the Lord thy God, was born yesterday? Get the fuck outta here!" (Strike 2) and....ScreechSlamTearCollideOverturnCartwheelExplodeCareenHaltShudder...fill in the blanks and the requisite forms at the E.R. --Thanks for coming out.

And they walked a related note (a redundant phrase--if everything is indeed everywhere, at every time)...

I witnessed an accident today that was so telegraphed, so textbook, so terribly unnecessary, it would bring a tear to a glass eye.

A landscaper with a loaded down compact truck was attempting to turn left into a bank parking lot across three lanes of stopped traffic. Well he made it--across two.

I actually had plenty of time to look over my shoulder for the obligatory driver barreling gleefully down the third lane, marvelling at his good fortune for being able to breeze past all those stopped cars.

"The twain shall meet," as they say. And unite they did, but not before a last SHHHEEEIIIIITTT!!! exclamation-point squealing of tires, blurted out in the last second of panic braking, and certain change of heart.

A car and truck wrecked, two stunned drivers glaring at each other, and traffic now blocked. Happy Thanksgiving.

I have seen this left turn stuff end in sorrow before. As a motorcyclist, I am constantly on the lookout for it, because it is known as the primary takeout for unsuspecting bikers.

Bikes aside, I myself dealt the demise of my parents' Chevette many years ago, with a failed left turn attempt out of a driveway. It was to be on to an otherwise quiet residential street, but--it was not to be.

As my leftward view was blocked by a parked van, my ill-fated approach was to inch out slowly with the confidence that, on such a narrow street, the eventual whole fender of Mom and Dad's car would surely cause someone to stop. Didn't work.

Inconveniently, another driver happened along whose equally ill-advised approach was to stand full weight on the gas pedal, with a thousand-yard stare that would do a Vietnam Vet proud. It was by no means the first time a female had regarded me as invisible, but this rejection was going to hurt.

Not unlike the above-mentioned accident, I literally had time to register her vacant stare, make peace with the baby Jesus, and utter, "Ooh!--Hey...NO--HEYYY!...DON'T--AAAAAWWWW....FFFFUUUUUCK!!!"

Some cherished memories from this incident include:

a) the police officer confiding in me his analysis of the other driver, choosing his words carefully--"She's a complete fuckin' idiot."

He then charged me with Failure to Yield. Thanks, buddy. Nice Protect and Serve there.

I was baffled by the charge, given that the front structure of the Chevette had yielded fully (to her charge). The yield strength of every metal and plastic in the vicinity had been exceeded.

b) I decided to fight it in court, where I hadn't counted on having to endure her psychotic glowering, and accusations that I had aggravated her back injury all over again. Admittedly, I felt a little bad about causing her harm, but she had broken a two-strikes rule: Combining wide-open throttle with wide-eyed staring. You don't get to do both. The cosmos strictly prohibits this and quickly puts you...back in your place, if you will. I was merely the facilitator--delivering the sentence (pun intended).

c) Having forgotten that the legal system has no interest in right or wrong, I'd brought in my photos of the demolished, heirloom Chevette, to prove the ridiculous speed that Farsighted Full-Throttle had gotten up to, in the space of a couple hundred feet.

I was humored briefly with this defense before the prosecutor shut me down.

"This means nothing--the defendant is not an engineer!"
With great savor I said, "As a matter of fact, I am."

I had now succeeded in irritating both prosecutor and judge.

Soon after pronouncing me guilty, the judge got advisory on my ass.

"Why didn't you just turn right, and go around the block instead?"
"What--so she could hit me from behind!?"

He gave me the I'm-warning-you look.
She gave me the you-are-an-asshole-and-now-everybody-knows-it look.

"Looks aren't everything, Robert," I could hear my mom say. What...?!

So many things I could've said sprang to mind--"Judge not--lest ye be judged," or "Years from now we'll all drink a quart and laugh at this," or "What are you looking at, Assface?"

I said with utmost conviction what most people would have said--nothing.
My parents' Chevette went to the scrapyard and all I got was this lousy traffic violation.

This brings me to the philosophy, or literally metaphysics, of the Left Turn (because we're beyond the physics of our earlier example, and well into nonsense).

Can you deny, with a straight face, the interconnectedness of Corvettes, Chevettes, and Vietnam Vets?!

What is it about someone Out in Left Field, Leftovers, Leftist Commies, or Left at the Altar? Why did Dad say someone was "swinging a little to the Left?" Or "smoking some of that Left-handed tobacco?" What possessed Tron(the party leader) from Fubar, the greatest epic in Canadian film-making history, to say of his wife in the new life, "Yeah, and I guess marrying her, that was a real Left turn there...?"

We may never know. But for God's sake, we can organize a 10k run to raise funds for research!

Accordingly Left to our own devices, with all due respect for the payment of dues, and in deference to those who can't make a difference, I would beg to differ and ask that you pull out your checkbook and make up the difference.

Enough. Back to the Left side of the brain we go. Much work to be done.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Oh-oh...the "C" word. No, not Commitment, not Conspiracy, not Carbohydrate; no, not even the word that makes women shudder the world over--Condoleeza, but...

...Yes...CUDDLE. There, I said it.

Well, this fellow's gone and done a lot worse--used it without mercy, in the craftiest, squash-any-competition, take-on-all-comers statement yet.

ICUDDL2 has, in one bold stroke of brilliance, upped the ante for would-be lovers and previously happy couples everywhere, by unabashedly confessing--damn it, outright promoting this very personal, very dreadful behavior.

Now, we can't say for sure which gender he's pitching his marketing approach to, given that the truck shows evidence of having been rear-ended, and that this photo was snapped in West Hollywood. No matter.

Furthermore, we cannot deduce if he means to say, I CUDDLE TOO, or that he is merely the successor to ICUDDL1.

The fact is, people, that we're all going to have to go just that little bit further now in order to be considered mateworthy, or to keep our significant others from straying.

I propose a counter-strike--a proactive, pre-emptive boast campaign to get back in the game here. Dig deep, seekers of companionship, devoted love, soul-bonding, and fornication! Know that you do indeed possess marketable, sought-after talents in this realm of romance; you hold the supply to meet that special someone's demand--well, that desperate, suicidal someone's demand.

To this end, to facilitate your inevitable running out and pairing off with the first mammal that'll have you, I offer the following personalized plate suggestions.

God, you so owe me.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Banana Republican

You know the imbecilic things we sometimes say while living on autopilot? The meaningless mottos proclaimed importantly, as if the great white light of revelation should suddenly strike the listener blind ? Or worse--uttered conspiratorially with the wink or nod soliciting an agreement? Let's do a tear-down on a few of them.

We'll pretend to cover at least a couple of these adages anyway, before I use it to segue into a merciless lambasting of some poor 26 y.o. SAF (chick, for the layman) that made the mistake of using one while posting a personals ad on Craig's List. And never mind what I was doing there!

Right then. My long-standing favorite saw has to be..."I'll try anything once."

Really? You mean you'd quit right away if you tried: eating elephant shit/blowing Bush/sacrificing children (ignore if you are Dick Cheney)--but felt it wasn't for you?

Then could you try just once for me--downing a quart of Peppermint Schnapps--chasing it with a six-pack of Mickey's Malt Liquor--navigating your Dodge Neon--full throttle--down the carpool lane on the wrong side of the I-10--for about an hour--Friday night at closing time? What?--that was you last week?! After giving that a chance for about an hour, no one would think less of you for deciding against it in the future.

Next up--"I have no regrets."

This pales in comparison to the latter, but is, for whatever reason, a current vexation of mine, and will therefore receive undue mileage. It also serves as a little cadence before the ascent to the final maxim, the words so foolhardily typed out by that spinster-to-be. I am confident she will have regrets.

So the regret thing plays out like this in my mind: If you're human, and far be it from me to judge you if you are not, you have been equipped with a range of emotions common to all. You might neither enjoy nor suffer the depths known to, say, your ex--but you've got them just the same. And given the asinine, or at best, vacant-minded behavior most of us indulge in daily, the odds certainly favor regret to finish with a strong showing at some point.

The other remaining ingredients to bake into this sour bit of cake are: memory and honesty, if my memory serves me correctly. Looking at the first, assuming the occurrence of regret is certain, it only need be remembered in order to "have regrets." Now, much of man's recent history, speaking individually and collectively, has admittedly been lost even before the empties were cleaned up the next day. And I am in no position to quarrel against such forgetting.

Given just that--to say, "I have no regrets," is tantamount to saying, "Dude, I don't remember shit..." Hardly something to boast of or espouse as a rare virtue...which brings us to the remaining ingredient: honesty.

OK--we now know that you had to have done something you've regretted; you probably have not been so thoroughly hammered through the beautiful unfolding of your life's story as to not remember at least one intance of regret; and now the only thing to impede your being able to say so is bloody well admitting it.

Now show me a justified, noble fellow with "no regrets," and I'll show you a goddamn liar.

I now submit for your review the above mentioned ad, intermingled with my study notes--her text in colored italics:

invasian... - 26

I am a 26 year old 2nd generation Korean girl. People say I look Japanese or Chinese rather than Korean. UC educated, working and trying to attempt to go up the corporate ladder, but it's quite an arduous daily cycle.

I really feel sorry for you with the failed ladder manoeuvres, although both Laurel & Hardy, as well as the Three Stooges seemed to have quite a laugh with them. In keeping with imaginary characters, Yoda himself would likely bitch-slap you for "trying to attempt..."

I am sick and tired of routine, and would like some changes, meet new people.. I am 5'4 in height, size four, shoulder length hair. I've done the Hollywood clubs, not much of a drinker so you definitely won't see me at bars, nor am I a devout Christian attending church. I am looking for someone who is educated, and ambitious. I am looking for someone who knows what their direction in life is, and I don't want someone who is currently trying to obtain a B.A. I want someone who is working in this daily corporate cycle, if not achieving a higher level of education.

Any B.A.'s reading this? My heart goes out to you, and my due respect to whatever covert branch of the government programmed this one.

"...this daily corporate cycle..."??? Shit, I'd be drinking in Hollywood clubs with all the B.A.'s and confessing it to devoted Christians any day before helping you with your cycle.

I prefer my men to be clean cut, someone who can dress up once in a while, but also be casual as Banana Republic style.

Banana Repugnant is casual? Outta the way!--I've gotta make a clean cut to the toilet!

As much as I would like to say it matters in the inside, and not the outside, we all know that's not true. I want someone who I can stare at and pleasing to the eye...I am not asking for a model, but I don't want to stare at someone and feel nauseous because I feel sick to my stomach.

Well, I'm hopeful with your willingness to compromise here--would you take a model with a B.A.? Or might you settle for a pleasing actor with corporate ambition (Ben Asslick?), and a restraining order against you for all that staring?

I'm at a loss for the not-wanting-to-feel-nauseous-because-you're-sick-to-your-stomach part. I don't see a way around that.

I'm not looking for someone who goes to Hollywood clubs every week, nor am I looking for someone whose a homebody either.

Sounds vaguely familiar... You weren't kidding about the arduous daily cycle, huh?

Someone who can enjoy a picnic at a park, watch a movie with popcorn and a diet coke...I want somebody who lives their life to the fullest.

At last, conclusive evidence there truly is life on other planets.

Did you catch it? One hell of a build-up, granted, but it was in there--our treasure unearthed, our mountain climbed, our pearl, uh, de-clammed: "somebody who lives life to their fullest."

Savor it.

I hope to God that you, blessed reader, have never used that phrase, but am certain if you had, it never would have been squandered on some pretty-boy Banana Republican corporate weasel eating popcorn with diet coke. I don't even need to address this life to the fullest bullshit in the manner I have with the previous aphorisms. There's too much ahead of us yet to be gleaned here from SFHW (Single Female Hamster on a Wheel).

I consider myself to be loquacious and I definitely don't like akward silences. I would prefer someone Asian to be quite honest since that's what I'm most comfortable with, but I am open.

Loquacious means she won't shut up. For her to tell us that, is like Rover confiding he is prone to sniffing other dog's asses, and definitely doesn't like awkward leash pulling during such moments.

In reference to preferring her own type because that's what she's most comfortable with (but she's open), I would like to draw the attention of the jury to the defendant's earlier statement, for the record: "I am sick and tired of routine, and would like some changes, meet new people..."

Guilty as charged.

Can you see now the idiotic drivel we as humans produce, oblivious to our own earlier, equally impassioned yet totally contradictory rants? And why this singles ad is such a rich springboard into a whole poolful of pre-owned fart pillows?

One of my pet peeves are ignorant people...I'm not looking for some 40 year old Caucasian dreaming of being with an asian girl either. I'm looking for someone between 27-32. So if you're an ignorant, close minded, old male...please don't reply cause I definitely won't.

Well, I doubt you'd attract any ignoramuses with such a coherent and intelligently expressed posting in a singles column. So no worries there.

But I'm bummed--I had gotten past the B.A. first cut, had figured out how to avoid early elimination from the diet coke picnic hurdle, and had even excelled in the casual dress obstacle course-- when you nailed me. It was in the pharmacy event--where I had just displayed proof of immunization for deadly Yellow Fever. I'd been advancing in the over-the-counter-medication-purchase for staring-induced nausea, when I got broadsided by mandatory Asian testing--Damn! And, while still down, you then brutally stomped me with your ageist cleats.

It's not over until the 5'4" (in height) size 4 lady sings.

Really though, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Never say never--or is it die?

I can say soberly and honestly, I have no regrets--because I'll try anything once.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Sticker Shock

Stabbing and steering my pickup down La Cienega today, commuting alone (a very high utilization of passenger capacity by L.A. standards--1/3), I observed the following:

A silver Audi TT coupe (have you seen any other colors?) bearing two stickers--one on the rear window and one on the trunk. Through their incongruency, if in my opinion only, these served as proud badges of confused altruism and misguided patriotism (have you seen any other kinds?).

The first, on the center of the rear window, was the mandatory for neo-Buddhists, "FREE TIBET" sticker, which I have no quarrel with--every actress should stand for something. The second was one of those magnetic goddamn ribbons we will never be free of. It was the latest rendition of the apparition--yellow with a black mourning band on one 'arm' and of course, "Support Our Troops."

If I was a Tibetan watching the way Iraq was being set FREE, I'd be pounding down my glacier water, my goat cheese, and hopping on the first toboggan right the fuck out of there, before any Troops showed up. No matter how well supported.

I watched as Audi-Doody made a right at the light, headed to a job making wrist bracelets of asbestos embossed with "LIVE STRONG".

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Rain: A Study in Logic

Here's an interesting precept that sprung from a perception on my mother's part, and resulted in a game of logical leapfrog that lasted one whole round on my part.

My mom crafted this theory while on extended vacation in England with friends and family. Yes, there is another whole country outside of the US--and people from here have actually ventured there, for purposes wholly unrelated to the crusade of democracy--a crusade often rained out and ruined by downpours of shrapnel, lead and leaflets.

But we speak of another rain here. Mom observed that in the rainy clime of Britain, people became more socially enmeshed as they were forced indoors to congregate in clubs and pubs.
Indeed, they thrived on this interaction to an extent that would render time in the sun laughably insignificant. Their ties to one another took on heightened importance, be it through having a laugh or taking the piss out of one another.

You couldn't come off as a complete prick to some stranger, because there would be no strangers the next day, when you were thrust back indoors face to face with the same person. Hence, a self-correcting, socially aligning machine had evolved.

Given this as a maxim--that wet, inclement weather increases the significance and enjoyment of social bonds, it is an easy hop logically to deduce the polar opposite--that a dry, inviting climate evokes isolation and disharmony amongst it's citizens.

Therefore, we have the perpetuation of asshole behavior in sunny, desirable climes such as Los Angeles, a readily apparent fact that nobody would argue.

Now, one might be seduced into concluding that an environment as arid as Arizona would produce a similar textbook effect, and I would be the last to testify that there is a drought of assholes there. Through logical back-pedaling, it would be simple to assume that the inhabitants of Scottsdale would conduct themselves as real sons-of-bitches.

However, the extreme heat of such a place necessitates a corollary effect generated by the man-made influence of air-conditioning. That is, we have instead a community again forced indoors that now unites, sharing a camaraderie of squandered pension funds, tales of youth, and photos of grandchildren.

Once again, gray enters where we had hoped for black and white, and logic fails us.

I recall, upon first moving to Los Angeles, a fascinating makeover in my own daily mood for the better, completely attributable to plentiful sunshine. This realization left me feeling somewhat belittled, as I had to concede to being strongly influenced by nothing more than weather.

After due reflection, I imagined my high school vocational counseling session going differently. Rather than hearing, "You do not have the mathematical skills required to consider a university degree in mechanical engineering, and should settle instead for a diploma program in motive power technology," the guidance counselor would merely have said, "Move where it's sunny."

As a logical suggestion, this would have proved more valuable to him and I--more so him, as he would have later avoided the rain of fury that was my mother, unleashing violent clouds of venom on him--thunderclaps of "What gives you the goddamn right...?" and "You stay the hell away from my son!"

We ourselves can be formidable forces of nature. As inseparable from the weather as from each other, we are forced together--come rain or shine.

Friday, July 08, 2005


I love foreigners and the movies they make. At the very least, I'm infatuated with their alternate approach. Anything that takes me out of the formulaic, American Dream, puppet show--is welcome.

Something that gives us characters with a deep end, rather than a wading pool that barely floats the "one-more-heist-can-give-me-the-loot-to-start-a-new-life-based-on-family-values" bullshit.

And to resuscitate such floating turds, we're now forced to endure the many "unexpected" multiple twists that give your brain the Indian Rope Burn. If we all stagger out of the theater asking wha-fuck? in five-part harmony, then it must have been a very clever and intricate plot.

That's why I don't mind putting up with subtitles. I take them gladly.

So, when I ask a girl out, to catch a foreign flick, I can understand if I only get an "uh-huh....," "never heard of it," or even, "whatever." But, I have to suffer, "Oh--does it have subtitles?...I don't like movies that I have to work at..."

I get a little disappointed. No--I get hauled in front of the judge for aggravated disappointment. It would've been easier to stomach if she'd said, "You wanna read, we'll go to a book store."

Instead, I'm forced out of my corner: "No. There's no titles under the title...just the main one...the headline, OK ? Can you stand to read that?...on the marquee? we walk in? Is that too much work?"

It's gotten under my skin--this subcutaneous thing. I submit, that if the irritation caused by this subtitle subject would only subside, I could substitute movies of lesser substance. Submissively, I could submerge the urge for depth, subtracting my subversive reacting.

However, I would never subscribe to this subhuman subsistence, for my subconcious, refusing to be subdued, would revolt at the subterfuge.

Subsequently, I remain, in search of the sublime...the subtle...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

All Symptons Normal, Doctor

Just yesterday I was laid out in the pre-op room of an outpatient surgery ward. I was to undergo minor fettling, or spannering, as the Brits might say -- if we were talking about motorcycle repair and not knee surgery. I'd noticed a sign, on my way in, that listed cosmetic surgery as one of the functions performed here in addition to orthopedics. Might I run into someone having breasts augmented or thighs diminished? Lips enhanced or tummy reduced? Cheekbones added, or nose subtracted? Maybe, but I doubted any such glamourous work was being performed in an HMO hospital -- more likely it was moles and birthmarks being extricated -- molectomies.

From behind the curtain drawn around the bed next to me I heard a young woman expressing genuine concern to her doctor: "I just don't want anybody to be able to tell that I've had this done. I've got auditions and jobs to go to, and I just want to look normal."

She could have been a standup comedian, studio musician, stage dancer, or starving actress. I quickly presumed the last of the lot and thought to myself -- normal? You're an actress and you want to appear normal? Too late. Most likely you've already attracted far too much attention; you've pegged the needle on the normal meter all the way down to E.
Loudly carrying on with your imaginary agent in crowded restaurants via cell phone has siphoned it off. You're on reserve with the warning light flashing, for all those times you wore your sunglasses at the grocery checkout to keep the regular folks at arm's length. Forget normal.

Poor girl was probably just having an ingrown toenail removed, but how entertaining would a kindly assumption like that have been? Far more satisfying to believe she was getting her nose done in order to co-star in a made-for-TV movie on....police work! So, we soldier on with the rant: if she really were an actress of any merit, wouldn't the ability to appear normal be within her range? Why shoulder the plain, pedestrian doctor with such a task?

At this point, my orthopedic surgeon appeared on the scene to check in. I'd gotten uncomfortable trying to read, propped up in a bed that had surely been designed to meet the ergonomic needs of amputees. Thus I had resorted to the television that could be flown in my face by boom arm. Rejecting Jerry Springer, a couple of soaps, an oh-so modern and witty sitcom, I stopped the dial at People's Court, hosted by Judge Marilyn. Desperate times.

This is where the man I'd signed over permission to make incisions in my leg, probe the intricacies of my knee joint by remote camera, and excise bone and tissue with utmost precision said, "that judge -- she's hot, man. You know, I gotta admit I watch her show alot -- she has a real come hither look."

Come hither and let me give you a slap! What are you, surgeon by day -- school janitor by night? Playing doctor in your mind...getting orthopedic on the Posturepedic, with a tired out TV show judge......what the hell's the matter with you? How else are you keeping sharp --memorizing facts from The National Enquirer?

But, I nodded and agreed, "Yeah, something's definitely going on behind those eyes of hers..."

Given the situation, I think the response was perfectly normal .