An unnatural man and his quest for humor.

Seems some people know just how to work the system. It comes preternaturally to them. Their minds are constantly on alert for each nuance and sleight of hand available that affords the maximization of profit and excess goods. I am not casting judgement.

More power to these people, as long as their hyper and constant vigilance is directed into legitimate, legal avenues of strategy. More power to them! If they choose to channel their brain power into the exploitation of institutionalized avenues of possibility, good for them. Personally, I’m awful at gaming the system. I simply do not care enough about free or cheap stuff and about stockpiling savings and discounts using the most contorted twists of manipulation available. I don’t like money that much. This is to my own discredit, obviously. If I liked money, I would be a much different person and in a much different place. I would have directed all my energy and brain power toward the collection and nurturing of wealth and goods, which I suppose, is natural for people; but I am an unnatural person, and though I do like some stuff, it doesn’t possess me and I have always refused to be money’s bitch.

Money is great, and if I have a little extra, awesome for me. But I refuse to construct my cognitive waking state around the always-on sentry scrutiny which involves wrapping every little offering around my cerebral algorithm in a real time flow of an intensive Calculus of Profit. I am not materialistic or greedy enough to live like that, but I think my mind is capable of it. It’s just that my spirit lags.

Today something happened that once again made me realize my intellectual capacity for gaming the system, but also, pointed out my idiosyncratic disregard of the auspicious outcome such gaming can reap if one thus devotes oneself to it.

So my son, graduating high school, required a gift. It’s what we do. Our kids finish a mandatory level of schooling and we lavish them with gifts and praise and cash-studded lei’s. This is how we roll in the modern-day West, right? So I chose a specialty store I know he shops at, one which I can never be caught shopping in for myself simply because my age precludes my purchasing anything there while maintaining any semblance of self-respect. We walked in and two people were staffing the store: a manager and a newbie junior clerk type. The clerk greeted first, then the manager. I walked to the cash register and they both filed into the cashier area and I told the young guy that I wanted a gift card for $150.00. He went through the motions of preparing the blank card I handed him and the manager started doing her manager-like duties for the purchase.

He informed me, “When you spend $50 worth of purchases or more, you get a free $10 gift card.”

“Great,” I smiled.

His manager came over to help him close out the purchase and he informed her that I spent $150, as if to cue her that I was owed a $10 discount card. I could resist no longer. My humor has no sense of boundaries or self-effacing shame.

“Does that mean I get three discount cards?” I chuckled.

Neither of them laughed. They barely batted an eye. It was a funny joke, so I thought.

Was it too deep for them, or was it just not funny? This a conundrum I find myself mired in all the time. I always make jokes that people don’t understand, or that they don’t find funny. This is my existential conundrum. I used to try and quell the awkward silence by laughing or trying to elaborate my failed joke away with an additional addendum of humor that made the entire situation even less pleasant than it had become. Now, I just shut up.

I made a bad joke, that’s life. They looked at me and didn’t laugh. Good enough. I just kept quiet. I took the receipt, said thank you, and bailed.

As we walked away from the store, I told her about the $10 complimentary gift card offer, and she was on it like a fly on shit. See, she is one of those people I alluded to earlier. She knows how to legitimately game the system and bleed it of all its inefficiencies and ambiguities.

“Wow, if I would have known that, we could have gotten an extra $10 card!” I was taken aback and confused. “We could have split it. I could have bought a $50 gift card, you could have gotten a $100 gift card. The special is $50 or over…we both would have gotten a $10 card!” Oh…she meant we could have tackled this as a team. I never thought of the team concept because I never thought of getting an extra discount card because I just don’t care about an extra $10 that I would never use…

I just wasn’t considering such sly machinations against this poor retailer.

I wasn’t prepared, nor did I care enough, to peruse all sales opportunities as profit vehicles seeking to exploit poorly designed promotional offers. My humor was a poor man’s (literally) attempt at misguided humor when the path to true levity is paved with money-hungry manipulations. I just don’t get it. Such is my life. Squandering my thoughts on dubious humor instead of the quest for pure profit.

I don’t know what I’ll do if people begin laughing at my jokes. Besides, the employees probably thought I was serious. I’m sure many customers have asked the same thing, but in earnest.

I’m doomed either way.

San Francisco vs. Los Angeles women

ROK writer, Seneca Stone, has posted an interesting examination of the reason San Francisco’s women are worse than Toronto’s.

In the article, he also contrasts SF women with New York women, and once again, finds the East Coast female to be superior in many respects.

As I read his list of 10 reasons SF women suck more, I was struck by the fact that all the reasons he cited also apply to Los Angeles women. At one point in his piece, another comparison of aesthetic urban similarities is made between NY and SF, but he says the similarities end with women.

Living in Los Angeles all my life, and spending a lot of time in San Francisco, I can say comfortably that Stone is spot on in his assessment. However, I would add that he has summed up Los Angeles women quite well.

Perhaps it’s a California coast phenomena, this flock of self-absorbed, robotic women. San Francisco’s stark homogeneity presents a great laboratory social experiment examining the modern urban creature, while Los Angeles’ stark heterogeneity requires that we peer a little closer and, if done, we can too note that cultural clusters of women in L.A. mimic, in perfect unison, those of the SF amorphous female blob.

Hollywood/entertainment women? Oh yeah, dead ringers for SF girls.

Old Mexican lady assaulted by Black male and the news media said it.


Yeah, it’s not just you White folk getting rocked by the undertow!


According to news reports, on April 28 a Black male threw an 80-something Mexican lady against a fence as he tried to run off with her purse. This happened in the Latino Boyle Heights section east of downtown Los Angeles, and bystanders rushed to the woman’s aide. The assailant ran off empty-handed and his photo was captured as he ran into a nearby Metro station.


Poor homey didn’t realize that even though you can fuck with White folks, the road to criminality is wrought with rockiness once you begin to saunter over into “darker” hoods.


I find it interesting that the news media has no problem reporting suspect ethnicity when Hispanics are victims…

Americans trade in their joules for jowls. Healthy body weight as social madness.

I don’t think I’m remiss in advising all American households to keep one of these in the kitchen.


American households. All of them. Michelle Obama wants to legislate all other dietary requirements…why not this?

Everyone should keep one of these. We should be required to weigh everything we eat, even if we don’t care how much it is.

We should just be mindful of how my joules of potential energy we’re shoveling into our hideous mouths.

There is an element of obsessive nerdiness in tracking your daily food intake. They call it “calorie counting,” but this sounds compulsive.

Being painstaking about how much food you eat is not compulsive, but it is a very tedious, involved practice of precision, and that immediately alienates most people.

Which is why Americans trade in joules for jowls.

The only path to Thin is that one of devout commitment to self-awareness of food consumption, even to the most minute level of grams and ounces. Personally, I find great joy in weighing a pork loin chop and discovering it is 5.9 ounces which then allows me to calculate a more precise measurement of caloric intake, which, carefully monitored as part of a habitual routine, keeps one in check. I’ve reached a point where I can, with reliable authenticity, estimate the caloric intake for most of my meals. I rarely allow myself to be cornered into a meal I have no anticipation of. Americans must own their diet, as well. None of this spontaneous diversion into ice cream and thick-crusted pie. We must plan our meals a week ahead, or at the very least, allow space for that unrehearsed meal. There is something Aspie about this, but one cannot be thin and normal in modern society.

Americans are out of check, out of bounds, and they relish their freedom to do what they want…including blind gluttony.

Lena Dunham or Sam Shepard: pick your poison.


Perhaps it is out of some weird, misguided principle, but I don’t want to spend too much time writing about Lena Dunham’s latest “bold” affront to our taste buds. She has posted photos of her tubbiness adorned in a negligee on Instagram. What horror hath the gods wrought? Anyways, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to spend much time on her latest blubbery rambunctiousness. She’s become too easy to ridicule and belittle (I suppose a strange word used to describe anything related to her if ever there was one) and I stand nothing to gain by it. She has way more fame and money than I can ever dream of, but still, as a public figure, she begs for it. It’s like shooting whales in a vast barrel.




Eye bleach sold separately
Eye bleach sold separately




Whereas hot women have been called “cockteases” in the past, I have come to the conclusion that our dearest Lena is a vomit tease. She is toying with us. She is taunting us with her portly nausea-inducing portmanteau and there is little we can do to avert staring. She is our favorite 30+ BMI’d train wreck and she knows it, she wallows in the disgust she elicits. It’s a sick disorder this loudmouth is afflicted with.


But really, on the subject of train wrecks, the one which captures my interest, for entirely different reasons, is the plight of the poor drunken Sam Shepard.


The once dashing playwright who starred in Tom Wolfe’s big screen adaptation of “The Right Stuff” while simultaneously being quite the dark, prolific writer of dim sagas through the 70’s and 80’s, is now the victim of old age and booze. I remember, while in college, how fond I was of many of his plays such as Fool For Love, True West, and the strange incestuous Buried Child (which I saw performed at the then-Orange County Performing Arts Center). I remember specifically a collection of his plays I owned – it was called “Fool For Love and Other Plays” and covered the gamut of all familial and matrilineal horrors. And there he was, Shepard, the hard-smoking, slick writer coasting on the waves of youth, or at least, 30-something-ishness.








So it was with a sense of awed mortification that I learned poor ‘ol Sam Shepard, the slick rural cowboy playwright, was picked up for DUI in New Mexico, and furthermore, that he now looks like this.




booking sam




Actor and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard was arrested Monday on suspicion of drunken driving after a Santa Fe restaurant’s security complained about a possibly intoxicated driver.


The 71-year-old Shepard told a police officer that he had two tequila drinks and was planning to drive home, Santa Fe police Lt. Andrea Dobyns said Tuesday. “Our officer could smell alcohol on his breath, and he had bloodshot, watery eyes,” she said.


Shepard was arrested on a charge of aggravated driving while intoxicated outside La Choza restaurant in downtown.


The restaurant’s security called police at about 7:45 p.m. Monday concerned about an intoxicated driver, Dobyns said. The man was trying to leave in the pickup, but the vehicle’s emergency brake was engaged.


Shepherd declined to take a breath test, but he did perform a field sobriety test, which he failed, Dobyns said.


It wasn’t immediately clear if Shepard had an attorney. Santa Fe County Jail records indicated Shepard had not been released from custody as of Tuesday afternoon


The office of Shepard’s agent said Tuesday that it had no comment.


Shepard won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1979 three-act play “Buried Child.” His film credits, among others, include “Baby Boom,” ”Steel Magnolias,” ”Thunderheart,” ”Black Hawk Down,” ”The Notebook,” and “Walker Payne,” according to the website of the Santa Fe Institute, a transdisciplinary research community, which lists the actor as a Miller Scholar.


Monday’s arrest appears to be Shepard’s second on charges of drunken driving. In January 2009, he was arrested on charges of speeding and drunken driving in the central Illinois town of Normal. Shepard was driving 16 mph over the 30 mph speed limit, police said. A breath test then indicated his blood-alcohol level was double the legal limit. The actor told police then that he had been at a tavern in nearby Bloomington and was heading to a hotel.




How the mighty have fallen. This was his second DUI, and in both instances, he told officers he was headed to the safety of a hotel and/or home.


How humiliating.


When you’re a young artist, there is a dignity to slow, alcoholic dissolution. There’s still hope, a future, a semblance of control and hope amid the perils of raging alcoholism. It’s for the art.


But when you’re old, it just looks very sad, hopeless and unromantic.


There is no dignity in being an old, sloppy drunk. People see hopelessness and death in your eyes.