Black suit and a white shirt

It’s the right tone for a wrong day

Black suit and watch
I bought another suit a while ago. My tailor isn’t in the US so it takes a few months to reach me.

Got it because my old black suit was looking worn. And the reason I need another solid jet black suit is because I seem to at an age where I’m going to funerals and memorials a lot more than anyone might want.

Not that anyone ever wants to go to them.

Have a memorial coming up next week for my buddy Bobbie and the suit arrived in time for that. Unfortunately, sad events don’t follow anyone’s timeline.

About two years ago, went to a funeral for my buddy’s mom.

Then, unexpectedly, had to go to one for his brother just last week. It seems terribly cruel for such misery to visited upon anyone, let alone someone so young.

In any case, my suit arrived the very next day. I found that odd.

Writer Neil Gaiman said in one of his books:

I wore a black suit and a white shirt, a black tie and black shoes, all polished and shiny: clothes that normally would make me feel uncomfortable, as if I were in a stolen uniform, or pretending to be an adult. Today they gave me comfort of a kind. I was wearing the right clothes for a hard day.

I agree with that.

For me, a black suit is comforting in it’s own way. It strikes the right, somber tone for a very wrong day.

Me: I’m so sorry, man.

Location: last week, upstate
Mood: hopeful
Music: Sometimes it seems like lately I just don’t know
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Kill what you eat

If you’re willing to eat meat, you should be willing to kill it

Me: The best part of a chicken is the back.
Him: (disgusted) I’m not eating that.
Me: More for me.

My parents grew up in a time and place where they’ve each had to kill something to eat, my mother in particular.

When I was little kid, I went to Taiwan to see her mother, my grandma, who showed me how to properly kill a chicken. I saw this chicken walking around one moment and decapitated the next. She then proceeded to butcher it in the alley behind the house, careful not to nick any of the intestines.

Her: You’ll wreck it, otherwise. Do it wrong and you’ll get poop everywhere.
Me: Poop?
Her: Poop. Everywhere.

She did all this while smoking a cigarette, which is neither here nor there – just comically funny to me.

In any case, I saw the above video a few days ago; a friend put it up. It bothers me. People who have no problem buying sausage and a visceral reaction to seeing a pig being “slaughtered” for that sausage.

That strikes me as wrong.

If you’re gonna eat something, you should be able to accept that you’re about to eat something that was once a living, breathing animal.

It part of the reason why I find just tossing away food of any type, particularly meat, troubling.

That was once a living thing. Living things should be treated with respect.

Halal Gyro food in NYC

Location: last night, 7PM, watching the game at a buddy’s
Mood: sore
Music: Gonna hunt you like an, an, an, an, an, animal
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Die knowing something

Die knowing something. You are not here long.

Walker Evans - Dead End - 1973

There was this photographer named Walker Evans who took some pretty famous pictures – you might recognize some of his work.

All of these pics are his.

Walker Evans - Damaged

He always walked around New York snapping shots but with much worse equipment and much better results.

Walker Evans - Brooklyn Bridge - 1928

He once said, Die knowing something. You are not here long.

Walker Evans - Man with accordion in Subway

Always thought that to be sage advice.

I suppose we all wish we had more time. However much we’re given, never feels like much.

Walker Evans - Girl on Fulton St - 1929

There’s so much I realize I don’t know and I would like to.

Walker Evans - Pelham Bay Park

There just never seems to be enough time.

Location: heading to post office
Mood: worried
Music: i’ll keep waiting and some day, darling you’ll come to me
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We love death more than you love life

At the very least, they’re honest about that

Polished concrete floor

A few years back, had to replace a large section of floor and was given a number of options like ceramic tile, wood, etc.

One guy suggested stained polished concrete, which we chose because of its versatility.

The guy that installed it said that he worked with concrete because it’s one of the oldest, strongest, more durable construction materials out there.

We stained it a leather brown, polished it to high gloss, and sealed it with wax. Everyone that comes by always asks about it.

It cost me about half of what it would have cost to put in anything else because, while the labor costs were the same or more (for the specialized knowledge), the raw material is just so cheap.

60 pounds of concrete costs $3.00 here in Manhattan. Three dollars.

And everything’s more expensive in Manhattan.

Recently, I’ve had a number of heated discussions with well-meaning but staggeringly ill-informed people regarding the current Israel/Gaza strife and lately, I’ve just been asking one question:

Where are the bomb shelters in Gaza?

There are at least 30 tunnels – at a cost of $30 million and  at least 1,780 rockets (all fired). Where are the bomb shelters?

There answer is that there are none. There is nothing to protect the people of Gaza by the ersatz government of Gaza because that’s not how Hamas sees the role of government.

But no one says it better than Hamas themselves:

We are a people that love death for the sake of Allah as much as our enemies love life.

That is their slogan. Their motto. Their trademark.

And the trademark lawyer in me cynically thinks, “Well, at the very least, they’re honest about that.”

Location: the interstate
Mood: cynical
Music: A spray of stars hit the screen As the 10th impact shimmered
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Logan’s Chinese Food, Gyro, and Chili Extravaganza

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

Hit and try-to-run-but-cannot-run-driver

Wife: You can’t have 19 Big Macs in a row!
Me: Technically, I could.

They’re having this deal where you get two burgers for one and I look for any excuse to stuff my fat face.

Which reminds me of a discussion I had regarding Jennifer 8. Lee’s book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, where she said that Chinese restaurants in America outnumber McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendy’s combined.

The thing is that there’s no one single large Chinese food chain, like Logan’s Chinese Food, Gyro, and Chili Extravaganza.

The reason why, I think, is because of the sheer number of items that a Chinese restaurant carries. There’re too many dishes, recipes, and ingredients in most restaurants to be consistently good at all of them.

This is versus McDonalds, which only has a few dozen different items – in fact, one guy just wrote about How to Hack a Big Mac from other dishes.

Relate it to my own life because I find so many things intellectually stimulating but I gotta force myself not to concentrate on the things I actually really care about.

Speaking of things I really care about: The wife is heading to her parents for a spell for a little break while I get some work done around the house. So we’re trying to cram in together time while we can.

In our own special fashion.

Her: (hugging me) I’m gonna miss that face…
Me: Aw, thanks…
Wife: …and your giant, giant, head.

Location: back to wrasslin in just a bit
Mood: sore
Music: Does it almost feel like nothing changed at all?
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How I met your mother in a refrigerator

This is why you’re bothered by the HIMYM finale

How I met your mother
Wasn’t planning on writing two back-to-back opinion posts but these things have been bothering me enough to say something.

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

If you’ve watched the finale, you know that the mother was a red herring the entire time. The story really was, and is, about how Ted and Robin end up together after years of orbiting around each other.

But if it left a distaste in your mouth and you can’t figure out why, let me tell you about the Women in Refrigerators issue in comic books.

The term comes from a 1994 story where a superhero returns to find that his girlfriend has been killed and stuffed into his refrigerator.

It’s a plot device, whereby a female character is killed or maimed in a male-centered story purely to make stuff happen for that male character. And it happens enough to have a name.

Turning back to HIMYM, we essentially meet the mother in a refrigerator in that we met her when she was already dead six years.

The purpose of the refrigerator in comic books is to shock and horrify; ditto for the reveal in HIMYM.

Green Lantern Kyle Radner finds his girlfriend in a refrigeratorThat’s why the finale bothered me. Because this character was ostensibly there purely to provide story impetus – and offspring – for Ted and then is conveniently killed off to make room for the person he’s loved all this time, Robin.

The entire last season, which could have been a look into the mother’s life – let’s call her Tracy, because characters of meaning deserve names –  was instead just about Robin’s marriage, which itself was a red herring.

And Robin’s life is essentially a waiting game for Ted. So both females lives are disposable and there to serve the protagonist of the story, that is all.

We’re not even told how Tracy died or why, that’s how marginal her death actually is.

Of course, does this happen in real life? Sure. Girlfriends and wives are killed every day, spurring the men in their lives to take action. But men are killed as well and this isn’t a major trope in writing.

Ultimately, to devote close to a decade of storyline to characters only to do a fake out seems cheap and easy.

I’m no hardcore feminist, but this is so glaringly distasteful that it’s difficult not to notice it.

End rant. Back to nuthin later on this week.

 

Location: apartment on a rainy Monday morning
Mood: still irritated
Music: Girlfriend in a coma, I know, I know – it’s serious
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Caught a fight between two middle-aged men

The body should serve the mind

Men at Work Sign
My AMA on Reddit went pretty well.

There were some good questions and interest in The Men Made of Stone; if you’re curious about some of the backstory behind the rise and fall of organized crime between 1980 and 1993, you can check the AMA for details.

Speaking of writing, I’m working on a a quick little thing about online dating profiles that I’ll probably either just give away or sell inexpensively.

Been fitting in a few lines here and there between work; hopefully, I can finish it up this week.

About 11 years ago, this relatively unknown fighter named Eddie Bravo fought one of the most well-respected fighters on the planet named Royler Gracie and won. Many people thought it was a fluke.

After all this time, a rematch was arranged over the weekend between the two so I went in the rain to my gym on Saturday night after fencing class to watch it with my coach.

The interesting thing about these two fighters is that one is 43 and the other 48. Don’t think there’s ever been so much excitement over two very middle-aged men fighting.

And yet, they aren’t what one would think of when one thinks of a typical 43 year-old and 48 year-old. Probably because they don’t more or act like most others.

The body always says, “Quit” before the mind does.

Because – for most people – the mind is subservient to the body, when the body quits, the mind quickly follows.

But there are those for whom the body serves the mind. The body only quits when the mind allows it. Like these two men.

If being a fat kid ever taught me anything, it’s that that is the way it should be: The body should serve the mind. For as long as possible, I’d like to be that way.

On that note, I’m going to be 41 next month. I can’t really believe it.

Wife: You should just tell everyone you’re 37. People would believe that.
Me: That’s not a bad idea.

Location: before my tax papers
Mood: focused
Music: Don’t stop, no, I’ll never give up
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Painting oneself into a corner

The new Old World Order


This whole Ukraine/Russia world event is interesting to me as someone that grew up in the 70s and 80s.

As a kid, the “commies” were the bad guys. They were what we taunted each other with in the playground, what adults discussed in hushed tones

The Berlin Wall fell and then the Soviet Union followed.

Suddenly, these guys that we’ve been hating all this time just up and disappeared. But on the flip side, we’re still the same. We’re still the Americans. We still have the Republicans and Democrats (for better or worse). And that rhetoric is still there.

For the Russians, there’s an element of their own success at painting us out to be their enemy. Decades of it, plus the fact that the West triumphed in the Cold War, plus our own self-inflicted stupidity and arrogance, means that it’s easy for us to remain their boogeyman while they’re no longer ours.

They’re victims of their own propaganda success.

As for me, I try as much as I can to be even-keeled. Because I never know when the situation may change. On a related note, spoke to an old friend the other day and was reminded why we stopped speaking in the first place.

He’s 42 and still angry, still suspicious, still sure that conspiracies abound. He’s 42 but really still 18.

At 18 his convictions were hills from which he looked; at 42 they’re caves where he hides. The world’s changed around him but he hasn’t.

RedditFor the  Reddit Ask Me Anything this Thursday, I dropped the the price for The Men Made of Stone to $0.99 and A Great First Date to $2.99, so pick up a copy!

Here are some details about the novel.

Location: the weekend, the local diner getting a Cobb Salad
Mood: good
Music: everybody’s gotta get there somehow
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Political Post: What people say and actually do, are two very different things.

If you’re young and conservative you have no heart. If you’re old and you’re liberal, you have no brain.


There’s a quote that’s been floated around for decades, usually attributed to Winston Churchill, that goes something like, If you’re young and conservative you have no heart. If you’re old and you’re liberal, you have no brain.

That’s a bit draconian but as I get older, I’m personally becoming a bit more liberal, mainly because I realize how much dumb luck is really involved in our lives.

But that’s another post for another time.

The other thing I’m realizing is this: It’s always the younger people that are demanding all these social programs because “it’s the right thing to do.”

They march. They protest. They lament what will happen if something is or isn’t done. No fracking, no pink slime, etc.

My theory: They do this because they’re not the ones that have to pay for it. Someone else will.

As you probably know, I’m pro-Obamacare.

Interestingly, for the first time I can remember, the young have a direct ability to – literally and figuratively – put their money where their mouth is.

They have the ability to change the world, and help people, they just have to bear some cost of it.

And the latest news is showing that the exact the opposite is going on. They’re all for Obamacare, but only if someone else pays for it.

It’s like that old “bell the cat” trope where the mice have a genius idea to put a bell on a cat to keep from being killed, but which mouse will do it?

The conservatives are being proven right here.

I’d like Obamacare to succeed. But it looks like it will struggle for exactly the same reason other social programs like Medicaid and Social Security is struggling.

Because what people say and what people actually do, are two very different things.

 

Location: desk, finishing some projects
Mood: cynical
Music: I will change if I must. Slow it down and bring it home, I will adjust
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Core belief 4: There’s no such thing as willpower

There’s only varying degrees of what you actually want

Just wrote two large checks to the government. It’s because, those that live in an eat-what-you-kill life here in the US, have to send in what they think are going to be the taxes every three months.

It’s a bit annoying and sometimes stressful because (a) you have to make educated guesses and (b) you have to be ready to write those checks.

Mentioned this to a buddy the other day and he said that I must have a lot of willpower to not spend the money. Likewise, when I mentioned to someone else that I was once super fat, she too remarked that I must have a lot of willpower

So, I figured now was a good time to present another core belief of mine to you: There’s no such thing as willpower.

It doesn’t exist.

What does exist are value judgments as to the relative worth of things.

For example, when I was a fat kid – whether I realized it or not – I was making a choice of choosing the pleasure of chocolate cake over the discomfort of being teased; the pleasure of sitting on a couch watching television versus the discomfort of exercise.

In other words, I was getting something out of being fat that was worth more to me than not being fat.

It was only when I went to junior high school, where there was a pretty girl named Eve, that it flipped. Suddenly, it being fat wasn’t worth the cost to me.

Isn’t it always about a girl?

In any case, had a co-worker of mine, years ago, who just complained about the work he did all the time.

He was offered a promotion and he declined, saying that he was worried no one else could do the job as well as he could. Everyone else thought this was so noble, but I realized that he was getting something out of his current job that was worth more than the higher title, more than the additional income, more than the additional responsibilities.

He liked to complain.

He was getting more out of being able to complain than he would have gotten out of all the other things.

Should note that I never did summon the courage to ask Eve out. Just as well.

There are few people who can actually put up with my idiosyncrasies.

Me: (dropping something) CRASH!
Her: I’m really worried about your ability, as a rational person, to hold onto things.

 

Core belief 3: You are what you decide to be
Core belief 2: You’re not who you could be because of the lies you tell yourself<
Core belief 1: I’ll judge you for what you do but never for what you are

Location: the start of a new week in an old chair
Mood: sore
Music: like a dream, make me feel crazy
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