Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hi Ku

Many of you know I've written a book, Tuesdays with Mantu, My Adventures with a Nigerian Con Artist. But did you know that a year after publishing that I was asked to write another book that coincidently featured an African-American man on the cover?

It was a brand book for Uncle Ben's Rice. A short-handed guide to the brand, the story of Ben and more than anyone could ever want to know about rice.

Towards the end of the book I wrote some Haiku about the Water Buffalo -- the animal that makes it possible for us to enjoy Oryza Sativa.

I don't know if it's legible, but the first Haiku (including a sneaky Simpsons reference) reads:

Mighty, gentle beast
Command the land to yield rice
You are Mister Plow

I'm not particularly big on poetry. With the exception of Bukowski's drunken rants, I find most of it incomprehensible. Maybe that's why I like Haiku. It's short, to the point and non-linear in a liberating way.

Plus Haiku manages to release the author from all literary criticism. Admit it, you read the poem with your fingers and counted out the syllables...5...7...5. In fact, the proper syllable count seems to be the only legitimate criteria for judging Haiku.

And that's the way I like my attempts at poetry, with the bar for achievement set really, really low.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bears Gone Wild

The Winter Olympics are approaching and I am looking forward to the giant slalom, the ski jumping and even the freestyle snowboarding.

The ice skating? Not so much.

My wife and the girls will hijack the remote control and force me to sit through double axles and triple lutzs, but I will not enjoy it.

It's not because I can't skate, I can. For a man of my considerable girth, I actually move quite well on skates, assuming I'm in a rink and not on a lake. And the ice has been freshly-Zambonied. (can Zamboni be used as a verb?)

But after a few laps or 2 minutes of organ music (whichever comes first) I'm ready to return to terra-firma and let the flow of blood resume in my ankles.

The astute observer will also note that the ice skates in question were pink. Which no self- respecting bear, male or female, gay or straight, should be forced to wear.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why I won't twitter

I've watched the twitter phenomena for several months now. And I've been tempted to jump on the tweetwagon, if only to give potential employers the impression that I am "up" on current technology.

But, if I were to twitter, I'd want to do something different. As deft as I might consider myself with the written word, there's no way I could make meaningful hay out of my daily breakfast choices or my latest Scrabble triumphs.

No, if I were to twitter, it would have to be something unique, something personal, something that was true to my heart. As well as my small intestine.

I had an epiphany.

But it did not last long. I went online and discovered that somebody had already beaten me to the pungent punch...

But, it turns out that even the genius who carved out his particular niche in the methane-sphere has been trumped by a man who has married the magic of algorithms with the latest advances in office furniture:

And frankly, there's no topping that.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jay Chiat would be proud

One of the things I love about Halloween is the celebration of the macabre. My youngest daughter Abby seems to share that inclination.

After viewing some of the contestants on, Abby was set on re-enacting the drowning pumpkins display she had seen online.

We carved faces that approximated the terror of drowning, then placed the two pumpkins in old aquarium that at one time was the home to our pet turtle named Candy. Candy met her demise when our dog mistook her for a chew toy. I'll spare you the bloody details.

After submerging the pumpkins in 30 gallons of water and weighing them down with some leftover bricks, Abby wanted to give her own personal signature to the piece. And added the hand-crafted plea for "HELP."

Then in true "good enough is not enough spirit" had an idea that trumped her original concept.
Making it darker. More subtle. And deliciously twisted.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Get Rich Rich

Got an e-mail yesterday from Jonathon Farber, head of New Ventures at Google Labs.

Seems someone up there caught wind of my blog and thought it would be perfect in a new synthesized communications platform alternative. I have no idea what that means, but to make an extremely exciting story short, he offered me an absurd amount of money for exclusive rights to the next three years of

Can you believe that?

Yeah, neither can I.

Because it didn’t really happen.

And frankly, it’s all your fault. You people, who are always e-mailing me and calling me to tell me how much you love reading roundseventeen, have done nothing to publicize it.

And that makes me mad. But being mad is not going to get your off your butts. Money however, might.

So here’s the deal. I’m culling through my list of 571 Facebook friends to find 500 lucky people. (Let’s face it there are 71 of you I don’t even know or even want to know. And you know who you are.)

The fortunate 500 who are chosen will become instant stakeholders in Collectively, you will own 10% of the enterprise. Right now that enterprise is worth nothing. And 10% of nothing is nothing. But, let's say I did get a call from Google and let's say I did hit the digital jackpot, well guess what, so would you. Think of it as a no-cost Ponzi scheme that unlike Madoff's, pays off.

All you've got to do is start spreading the roundseventeen word.

BTW, I just installed special analytic software that enables me to see who has been linking entries and who has not. So at the end of the year, when it comes time for X-mas bonuses, well, let’s just say I know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Serenity Now

Hell is not a destination.

Hell is a journey.

More specifically, the 53-mile journey from Culver City to Irvine, California on the 405 freeway.

I know this because I did that commute for two and a half years of my life.

If only I had the benefit of Traffic Calming Info.
(I might have re-phrased it for syntax purposes and called it Calming Traffic Info.)

Nevertheless, had this resource been available to me, perhaps I would not have needed to chow down on little blue Xanax pills like they were Tic-Tacs.

When life gets frustrating or when I'm leaving the parking lot at Dodger Stadium, I picture myself on one of those long, hellish slogs through Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa and the always-thick South Bay Curve.

And I take long deep breaths reminding myself that at one time I was just "one Sig Alert" away from becoming the next Ted Bundy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Take me to North Haverbrook

Today, my advertising adventure takes me north to the city of Seattle. In the background you can see the Space Needle. In the foreground, you can see something even more amazing --- A Monorail.

Promised to us at the 1964 World's Fair, few cities have climbed aboard and gotten on the fast track to the future.

There's Seattle.
And of course there's Springfield.

You gotta love the boundless enthusiasm of the Northwest.
They can even put a positive spin on street side construction

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Roll the dice

It's a sad rainy day, the kind of day that reminds me of Bukowski and my favorite scene in Factotum:

This one is dedicated to my friend Jeff Rothberg,
who rode life straight to perfect laughter.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Get off my lawn"

I haven't uttered that phrase. Yet. But judging from my ever-increasing crotchetiness and my blossoming prostate, I have no doubt those words will one day leave my mouth.

In the meanwhile, I've been hearing this one song on the radio quite a bit. It's called "Sinner".
It's a hip-hop/pop little ditty that gets way too much airplay on Los Angeles radio (which hasn't been good since the demise of KMET.) It's "sung" by wannabe thug who calls himself Big B.

In the very first stanza, he writes:

First of all,
I'd like to thank you for accepting this collect call
And tell you what you're about to hear is sincere
It's not the drugs or the alcohol
I know you said that it had to end
I don't expect you to bail me out again
But right now girl, you're my only friend
It's true, I did you wrong, for way too long
But that's the past so lets move on
It's a new song
So let it play on and on, from dusk to dawn
Till the neighbors complain or the cops come
[oh the life of a sinner]
In the California sun

I know in the realm of hip hop music there's a helluva lot worse than this. But I have a little news flash for you Mr. Big B.

If you're in your backyard and you're playing music in the wee hours of the night so loud that the neighbors have to complain or the cops have to show up, you're not a Sinner.

You're a Douchebag!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mawww chawder, please

Accents, excessive cigarette smoking, and fanatic sports enthusiasm aside,
I love Boston.

Particularly the southern suburbs along the coast, or as I'm told it's called, "The Irish Riviera."

A lot of salty, down-to-earth people who know how to tell a good story and keep a bar tab going.

I also love New England for the spectacular photo opportunities.
None of that fall foliage crap for me.
Oh no, I prefer a good roadside non-sequitur:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Walk like an Egyptian

I haven't been there, but I have to assume to life in Egypt is pretty, pretty damned good.

The economy must be soaring.
Literacy must be at all time high.
Health care must be available to all.
And the ancient streets of Cairo must be paved in 24 karat gold.

Thus freeing up Egyptian legislators to tackle the more pressing issues of the day.

Last week, for instance they slaughtered the entire pig population and eliminated the threat of any Egyptian catching the deadly swine flu.

This week, on-the-ball politicians are turning their attention to Fake Virginity Kits being manufactured in China. Clever, sexually-active Egyptian women can now consummate their marriage, knowing that with a little dim-lighting and a pseudo-hymen in place, they can fool their husbands with all the nuanced, subtlety of a Mossad False Flag operation.

Kudos Egypt, you are blazing new trails into the modernity of the 12 century.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wet Meat

It took a very long time but I finally got around to eating at Philippes.

Philippes, for those who don't know, is a Los Angeles landmark. Their French Dip Roast Beef Sandwiches are legendary, from the tip of San Pedro to the double-wide trailers of Sun Valley.

The food was good. The price was better. I snagged a decent Lamb sandwich for only $6.75.

I might even go back to Philippes if it weren't for the awful location.

You see, the far eastern and northern sector of downtown Los Angeles has a distinctive urine-y smell. That's something you don't want to think about when you're eating wet meat on wet bread.

On a positive note however, I can scratch off another activity that makes living in Los Angeles so iconic.

Next up: Learning to surf and going all Goofy Foot.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Let me whip this out

I love my DIRECTV. And I'm not just saying that because I worked for them quite a bit this year. Their quality and service is significantly better than my old provider, Comcast.

But, and this is a big one, I do miss public access TV.

I miss Francine Dancer.
I miss Colin's Sleazy Friends.
Most of all, I miss the Black Hebrews. I couldn't find video of our local ebony rebbes, but I did track down these brothers in Baltimore...

I love these guys.
If only there were more cross-culture pollination.

Who's the black private dentist
That's a crown machine to all the chicks?
You're damn right

Who is the man
That would risk his practice for his brother man?
Can ya dig it?

Who's the cat that won't cop out
When there's novocaine all about
Right on

You see this cat Shmuelie is a bad mother--
(Shut your mouth)
But I'm talkin' about Shmuelie
(Then we can dig it)

He's a complicated orthodontist
But no one understands him but his malpractice lawyer
(Shmuelie Fein)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Street Cred

My grandfather used to tell me we were distant relatives of Bugsy Siegel. To a 10 year old boy, the story had a whiff of credibility to it. We had relatives in Brooklyn. He spelt his last name the same way we did. And like all Siegels, he had a healthy disrespect for authority.

Plus, being related to a gangster had a whole lot more going for it than being the grandson of NYC cabbie.

But, as it turns out, my grandfather and the Truth were not always on the same subway platform. As a lifelong bettor of the ponies, he'd made a habit of telling tall tales. Particularly when it came to explaining to my grandmother why he had no money in his pockets.

But my connection to the criminal underworld does not end there.

Recently my uncle and I were discussing my father's less-than-glorious discharge from the Army for smoking reefer (this was pre-Viet Nam.) My father told me the story of his run in with the army brass when he found out I was smoking weed a long, long time ago.

What he didn't tell me was, that in addition to a Dishonorable Discharge, he also spent a year of his life in a military brig somewhere in Georgia.

I know all families have secrets, but this one floored me. My father, a short, squat CPA from the Bronx, was also at one time, a prison-blues wearing outlaw with a indelible mark on his permanent record.

Thankfully this happened in a different time and a different era. Because from what I know watching prison documentaries, now would not be a good time to be incarcerated. Survival on the yard depends largely on membership in a gang.

I'll have to go through my TIVO'ed episodes of Locked Up, but I don't recall anything about a gang of street-hardened Jewish Accountants called the Vicious Deducters.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Go Mounties!

Recently I've made Facebook contact with several former Mounties who also went to Suffern High School, a long, long time ago. That's the real beauty of FB. It allows for the brief, casual exchange of digital small talk without the awkward reunions and or the excessive numbing of Xanax and Knob Creek.

And if I'm to be honest, it is quite fascinating to see where people have netted out in life: who sells life insurance, who lost all their hair, who married 6 times, who lives next door to a Hometown Buffet.

Of course there's also the schadenfreude of discovering those 'special' classmates, who it turns out, peaked in life somewhere between 3rd Period Sophomore English and 8th Period Biology.

Most of the time when I receive a Facebook friend request from a high school alumni, the name rings a bell. If it doesn't, I whip out the old Panorama yearbook. But last week I got a friend suggestion from Regina Thunderpussy. You'd think I'd recall a girl with a name like Regina, but I don't.

I do recall that the math teachers liked to seat us in alphabetical order. Maybe Ms. Thunderpussy sat right behind me in Trigonometry. Or, maybe she didn't.

Can anyone help?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mmmm, bacon

A few weeks ago the Egyptian government ordered the slaying of all first born. Pigs, that is.
And for good measure they killed second-born, third-born, etc.

It seems the not-so-scientifically inclined Egyptian leaders decided that if they could eliminate all the pigs they could eliminate the Swine Flu disease. Conveniently ignoring the fact (as Arab leaders are want to do) that Swine Flu is passed to humans by humans.

So, if after a day of touring the Pyramids and the Sphinx, you find yourself hankering for a ham sandwich, you better book a flight to nearby Tel Aviv, where the people aren't particularly fond of pigs but they don't needlessly slaughter them either.

Question: If we were to kill all the bulls in Tehran would that stop the bullshit coming from Ahmadinejad?