Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Quest for $35 Million (Part 4)

Don't know if you recognize this building. It's called Jardine House, one of, if not the tallest buildings in Hong Kong, a city of many hi-rises. It's also the alleged home of Cheung, Tang and Rosemount Solicitors, one of the top law firms in all the world. 

Giving my correspondence with internet scammers the sheen of credibility.

For those who have not been following along, I was contacted by Richard Wong, a "banker" in Hong Kong who had discovered $35 million worth of gold bullion left by a man named Adrian Siegel. Turns out I am the only living relative of Mr. Siegel. And I would have to go through Mr. Wong to claim the booty.

In my last email I brought up the possibility that my unsavory cousin Morty (Morteeeeey) might want to hone in on the action. Mr. Wong ignored my plea as well as my offer to bring in my own attorney, Mr. Brian Boitano.

Instead (and this is a common practice among internet scammers) he wants me to deal with Lambert Liu, an inheritance attorney who works at the Jardine House.

To wit...

Dear Rich,

I have consulted a law firm and they will file an application to the probate court on your behalf. I've asked them to make an agreement to share the assets at 60 to you, 40 to me. If you're asked the reason for the transfer of 40% to me, you will tell them that I am your investment banker and it is meant for property investments in Hong Kong.

The solicitors will guide you through the process. I'll have the documents they need to file an application, including the death certificate delivered to their offices tomorrow.

Contact details:-

Lambert Liu
Cheung, Tang & Rosemount Solicitors

26th Floor, Jardine House,
One Connaught Place,
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 8193 1747

He's expecting to hear from you. Please contact him to start the process. We can submit the application within the next 2 weeks if we start this week. You must always keep me informed of your discussions. If you are asked questions that you do not have answers to, please contact me always so I can provide an appropriate response for you to respond to them.


I chose not to answer his request right away because I didn't want him thinking I was an easy mark. Also because I got a little lazy.

Nevertheless, respond I did:

Dear Mr. Wrong,

Sorry for the delayed response. I don't know if you celebrate Thanksgiving in Hong Kong. I can't imagine that the pilgrims went to Asia and stole land from the Indians, but here in the USA it's a big holiday. 

We went to my cousin Schmuley's house for a big family dinner. Schmuley is a Pescatarian so we didn't have a real turkey but one fashioned from Gefilte Fish. It was OK, I don't want to badmouth Schmuley. There were so many Siegels there I had to sit at the kid's table. On a folding chair. With no lumbar support. My back is more crooked than Steven Hawkins.

But enough about my tsuris

I'm very interested in getting the $35 million inheritance, but I'm confused by your recent direction to contact Mr. Lieu. I was just feeling comfortable dealing with you and would prefer not to bring in other strangers. Will he demand a cut of the money? What are his bonafides?

Frankly, lawyers scare me. I once lived next door to a lawyer, Perry Mason, who claimed I stole his Sunday NY Times and he tried to sue me in small claims court. He was so petty and vindictive. I never sued him when his dog left very wet poops on my lawn. I don't like lawyers.

Can we keep this deal just between you and me?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Tad (Richard) Siegel 

Next week we begin Chapter 2 of this imaginary windfall and my dealings with Mr. Leiu (SP). Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Good times for Every Body

Had a nightmare last week that lasted close to 5 hours. 

Like an idiot I decided to drive my daughters as well as my dog Lucy out to Palm Springs for Thanksgiving. Being at home in Culver City, where we annually hosted more than a dozen friends and family, is still too difficult.

Not that spending an eternity on the 60 Eastbound freeway is any less. There was traffic. There was whining (I won't mention the culprit). There was the bathroom key incident at the 7-11 in Pomona. And there was traffic, did I mention the traffic? 

By the time we had arrived I had to think long and hard about what it was I was grateful for. 

As we cleared the last bottleneck, I spotted the Morongo Casino Resort. The place has amazing name recognition as its 25 story edifice juts from the desert landscape. But also because, unlike General Motors or IBM or Pepsi, the marketing folks at Morongo spend a boatload of money on TV advertising.

I don't watch a lot of TV, but I unwittingly watch a lot of TV ads for Morongo. 

Need a reminder?

I invite you to witness their handiwork:

Mind you, this is but one of example from the Morongo opus of cringy commercials. All featuring a bevy of DEI-inspired demographically-inclusive model morphing: An Asian woman at the pool morphing into an African American man at the blackjack table morphing into a Hispanic woman getting a massage morphing in an Orange County housewife winning big at the crap table. 

It's Morph City and Morongo is the mayor.

Frankly I'm shocked they didn't throw in some star wipes.

If the editorial choices don't make you stop and think, "wait, am I in the same business as these amateurs?", the generic casting, the overacting, the juvenile direction, the stale writing and the overzealous voiceover certainly will. 

And yet, every time one of their trashy spots graces my flat screen I stop to watch it, like a jackknifed milk truck clogging three lanes of the Santa Monica Westbound 10 in El Monte. In one particular 30 second iteration, the VO mentioned "good times for everybody" at least 5 times. I know, because I counted.

Every. Body. Get it?

No point to this story other than to vent and air out my quirky Morongo obsession. 

Oh and to mention that the tenants at my uncle's house in Palm Springs are moving out. And that after some more repairs and painting and sprucing up the joint, it will be available for short or longer term rentals.

Here's a preview...

 Details to come.


Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Yesterday I wrote about Christmas. And some of the odd international traditions that accompany Feliz Navidad. Today, in the spirit of equal opportunity offensiveness, I take on Hanukkah. Or Chanukkah. Or The Festival of Lights.

First, to be clear and for the uninformed, it is not the Jewish equivalent of Christmas. 

You're on a computer or holding one in your hand, if it were that interesting, you could Google the holiday and find out that like most Jewish holidays it's a celebration of such-and-such or who-and-who didn't kill us. 

Seems appropriate given the current tsunami of antisemitism.

However, like Christmas and because the shareholders at Target, Walmart and Nordstrom have profits to make, there is ample gift-giving. To that end, I've heard that I am particularly hard person to get gifts for.

And it's true. 

In the material world there is not much I want for. What I have, I'm happy for. What I want, I can usually get, except for clothing that fits my barrel chested torso or a beard trimmer that doesn't make me look like I've been to an epileptic barber.

What I'd really like is for a little more harmony with my daughters who are still adjusting to my adjusting to life as a widower. 

That's a slow and painful work in progress.

But here's what I don't want. Nor do I understand why ads for it keep popping up, and will pop up more regularly now, in my social feed -- An Ice Bath.

What kind of sadistic fakakta-for-brains Nazi came up with that? I'm guessing the photo above was heavily retouched, because no sane human being would be smiling while submerged in an oversized crockpot filled with sub-Arctic water and enough stinging, jagged ice cubes to launch a Keith Richards' birthday party. 

After I'm done writing this post I'm walking 3/10ths of a mile to the Culver City Plunge, where the water is a balmy 78 degrees. The other swimmers jump in when the timer hits 00:00. It takes me a good three minutes to mentally prepare for that initial step off the ledge.

I'm getting goose bumps and my teeth are chattering just thinking about it.

No Ice Baths for me, but my liquor cabinet could use two more of these ice making glasses...

Monday, November 27, 2023

Merry Christmas


Thanksgiving is over. 

Meaning we are officially into the Happy Birthday Jesus Season. So let's all buy crap we already have, run up outrageous credit card bills and stave off retirement until the Uber Wealthy reluctantly decide to trickle down a little money to the indentured servants -- that's you and me. 

Well, more you than me as I have cut the umbilical chord to the working world and am now enjoying the overripe fruit of my labor, eating pureed foods and shopping for a tasteful Dirt Nap suit.

It's also time for my yearly Caganer post. Now there's something you don't already have, a caganer. 

Perhaps my 8 loyal R17 readers know what I'm talking about. I've only been been singing the praises of the caganer for a dozen years or so. And yet it still hasn't entered today's lexicon. This, I view, as a complete personal failure. Particularly in light of my daughter's word success.

With one Tik Tok video, Abby and her friends, popularized the word Cheugy, which is now bandied about with such regularity it shows up on TV shows, movies and every coffee house within a 3000 mile radius of Brooklyn. 

You can read about its etymology here.

I suppose I could make a video about the caganer but then I'd have sign up for Tik Tok and let my new Chinese overlords have access to my now dwindling financial portfolio.

Also, I'm terrible at making videos and never know whether to use portrait or landscape mode. And more often than not my videos and photos are nothing more than fleshy snapshots of my big fat thumb. So, 'yeah, no.' Another phrase that has successfully entered the lexicon.

In short, the caganer is a little shitting gnome. He, or she, regularly shows up in Nativity scenes staged in Catalonia. As well as nearby southern France. Mind you, he's not actually in the manger with Jesus, Joseph and Mary and the three wise men and the other assorted Jews who weren't playing pinochle that night. The caganer stands just outside, so as not to interrupt the birth of our lord and savior. 


You don't have to be a brain surgeon or even a fry cook to see why, for me, the caganer is a source of great fascination. In fact, I have a small collection of caganers that now adorn, in that most natural location, the window sill in my guest bathroom...

You can find out more about the caganer by popping the word in the R17 search engine (located in the upper left hand corner) or clicking this handy dandy link, which proves I'm not making this shit up.

In fact, if you're so inclined you can purchase your own celebrity caganer here.

You can even get a Donald Trump Caganer, though the designers mistakenly portrayed the excrement emerging from the wrong orifice.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Happy Thanksliving

In stark contrast to the previous two days, I'm posting a message about grief. 

I haven't addressed grief on this blog in a long time. Not because it has gone away. It hasn't. 

Nor will it. 

That is its nature.

To that end, Ms. Muse thoughtfully sent me a video that articulates what author Max Porter once described as "The Thing with Feathers", one of the many books I consumed. 

Given that we all must deal with grief at one time in our lives, the book is worth reading. And the video is  worth viewing. Particularly before what Deb and I always thought was our most important holidays -- Thanksgiving.

You can view it here:

With the world on fire, growing right wing populism, the prospect of American democracy falling to a 78 year old would-be dictator, and a war in the Middle East that has already brought us unimaginable atrocities and threatens to grow exponentially, there doesn't appear to be much to be thankful for.

But on a micro and personal level there is. 

I gave serious thought to listing them here but ixnayed that notion lest this read like some kind of bulleted Powerpoint presentation. 

Conversely, I don't want to get cliched or maudlin about friends, family and a roof over my head, blah, blah, blah. 

Both of which are off brand for me. 

Per Ms. McInerny's Ted Talk, I'm thankful for the lasting impact Deb left on my life. And for her soft inner voice that reminds me, sometimes not always heard, to appreciate and to nurture all the love in my life. I hope you will do the same.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

As the Wong Tolls Part 3


Because it's a holiday shortened week and because I've been having so much fun with Mr. Richard Wong, I've decided to publish Part 3 in this continuing and unfolding saga. 

In case you haven't been following, Mr. Wong reached out to me last week about a long lost inheritance from my great, great uncle Adrian. You can scroll back and read Parts I and II. Or pick up here, depends on how much flim flammery you want to consume.


Dear Mr. Siegel,

I am going to get a competent Law firm to file an application on your behalf. I will discuss what needs to be done with them, pay for their services and then send you their details with instructions on how to introduce yourself. I will have them make a legal agreement between us to ensure that my part of the proceeds is secure. They will act as your representative and liaison between you, the High Court and the HSBC.

It is important that I have your consent before I consult a law firm because it will cost me. Can you please reconfirm that you understand the full text of my proposal and you are ready and willing to do this with me.

Richard Wong.

Oh I understand. I'm not sure Mr. Wong does.

Dear Mr. Wong,


Not only do I understand the terms of your last correspondence, I enthusiastically give you my consent. I would love to get my hands on that $35 million worth of gold bullion as soon as possible. 


My 2012 Acura MDX needs new tires, as the tread is balder than a billiards ball. And my Audi needs a new battery. I don’t know what those Germans were thinking when they put $739 batteries in their automobiles, but they did. 

It’s like they’re always out to get me.


Just for my own peace of mind, I ran your proposal by my attorney, Brian Boitano, who works at Dewey, Cheatham and Howe. He found your proposal very attractive “in a very real and legally binding way.”


Naturally, I’ll have to wet his beak when the gold arrives.


He did have a word of caution about my cousin Morty. I don’t know what kind of ancestral research you conducted, but my cousin Morty can draw direct lineage to my great, great uncle Adrian. 


Moreover, ‘Mort-eeey’ (as he likes to pronounce it) is a very aggressive man. He was born with Polyorchidism, the details of which are again too graphic to discuss in a legal missive. Suffice it to say, his testosterone level is through the roof in the high 700’s.


I seek your counsel on this matter and hope you can keep him away from this found goldmine. 


In short, animus possisendi, let’s make this transaction happen. I look forward to hearing from you…


Dirk (Richard) Siegel

Monday, November 20, 2023

The Curious Case of Richard Wong (Part 2)


Faithful readers of Roundseventeen, all 8 of you, know I have been contacted by Sir Richard Wong, a Hong Kong flim flammer who has promised to deposit 20 million dollars in gold bullion in my account. Actually, it's 35 million but he gets a cut.

It is an inheritance from Adrian Siegel, apparently a long lost relative, emphasis on lost.

I had always thought that unlike most Jews, my family had NO money. Clearly I was wrong. You can read the opening salvo here.

Mr. Wong wasted no time responding, no doubt because he believes he has a sucker on the hook. I love that he writes in a very longwinded fashion as it allows me to reply in kind. 

I invite you to enjoy:

Dear Rich,

It is imperative that you read this carefully as the success of my proposal depends on your understanding of your role in this endeavor. It is my prerogative to ensure that you understand what is at stake and to ensure success. Please do not take this lightly as the decision to do this has not come to me lightly. This proposal has been spurred by my bank's decision, but my justification is irrelevant.

ADRIAN F. SIEGEL, as you will recall, was an old customer who died in December, 2013. Your role would be to file a claim as the only remaining member of his family. I am in a position to provide information to facilitate your approval as the next of kin to him and the transfer of his assets in my bank to you but I can do this only with your consent. I am willing to guide you through the process to achieve this at no risk of failure. As I mentioned in my first mail, you are on a list of persons considered most likely to be related to the deceased.

My proposal: In my direction, you would initiate contact with a Law firm in Hong Kong as his relative. They would file an application for grant at the probate court to claim the estates as the next of-kin to the descendant. Subject to verification, authentication, validation and the approval of your claim by the probate court, HSBC will transfer the assets to your account. Some parts of the process of authentication fall within my purview in my department, so authentication is assured and that automatically guarantees the validation of your identity.

It will be 10years in December since the deposit account has been dormant, at which time the assets(estate) would revert to the government if no family member files a claim. Anyone named on the bank's list as a probable relative is eligible to stand as the next of kin if they applied with the appropriate information and documents. Therefore, with your assistance, the estate need not revert to the government.

My role would be to provide the requisite information to the solicitor to aid your application. Some of these may require your endorsement of course, including agreement documents to ensure that you abide by our agreement to transfer my part to my given account.

Upon validation and approval, the assets would be liquidated and the proceeds remitted to your account from where you would transfer my agreed share(40 percent) to my account. All I need is your consent to begin proceedings. This is guaranteed to be a success.

I await further instructions from you.


Richard Wong

Consent? Hell yes, you have my consent.

Dear Mr. Wong,

Yes, I completely understand the complicated nature of this transaction, ipso facto, I’d like to come to concurrence on the terms I have set forth in my previous correspondence. I am to receive 60% of the proceeds and you, though not a descendant of my great, great uncle Adrian will receive a very generous 40%, or $14 million. 

That’s quite a windfall even after you deduct the various costs for paper, ink cartridges, those clippy binder things that can snap off a finger, etc. As well as shipping and overnight messaging which I will insist on when the times comes so that we may expedite this whole transaction.

I will begin setting up an offshore bank account in the Caribbean, in lovely Antigua, where there is ample music and ample rum punch, but nary a sight of IRS tax collectors. I would insist my proceeds be shipped there.

Also, I'm hoping we can complete this affair without a flight to Hong Kong. My neighbor told me it’s 14 hours long. And the turbulence over the Pacific can be very bad. Hence I would require excessive dosage of Ambien which incurs vivid horrific dreams of being stuck at my desk at Chiat/Day with a gun to my head to come up with some fakakta campaign. 

And really bad drymouth upon awakening.

With that, I give you my ad collingenda bona. And eagerly await your response.


Brent (Richard) Siegel

Stay tuned for Part 3, which will published tomorrow. 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

The End is Nigh

It's official -- see headline in above photo.

The finish line is approaching. And the promise of eternal slumber grows near.

On one hand, this is very bad news. 

As a 66 year old man who wakes up to increasing bodily decay every morning. With new bushes of hair growing out of my ears. New crepe skin on my less-than-long legs. And new restrictions on my exercise routine lest I pop another hole in my lower abdominal muscles and invite my intestinal tract to protrude from my torso. It's not at all pretty.

Simple math would indicate I have but 7 years left above terra firma. 7 years is a short time to cram in all those unmet expectations:

How can I begin to date Charlize Theron when I haven't even met Charlize Theron?

What about the Malibu beach house and the lap pool off the front deck?

Is it too late to look into rhinoplasty and rid myself of this oversized eagle beak? (More importantly, will Medicare cover the cost of elective surgery)

On the other hand, the stronger more optimistic hand, the abbreviation of my timeline is, or at least can be, good news. 

As mentioned in previous posts, I have become a regular eater of salmon. Many times I eat salmon 6 nights a week, with the possible exception of one night, while dining out with Ms. Muse, where I will eat sushi. 

More often than not, salmon.

I love salmon. I don't love paying exorbitant prices for it. And will often choose the more pedestrian cuts at $13.99/lbs. Maybe, just maybe, if a freelance gig swings my way, I will step up and opt for the $15.99/lbs. variety. Or, gasp, the $21.99/lbs. prime cut. 

Which leaves me wondering if there's some kind of salmon caste heirarchy?

On my near daily walks I once ventured into the new Erewhon, (where the elite meet to self-deplete their wallets in order to eat) and spotted salmon at $29.99/lbs. 

Knowing what I now know on this rare cloudy Southern California morning, perhaps it's high time to treat myself, like I see so many carefree Gen Z'ers who I must assume are all independently wealthy.

More good news about my impending Dirt Nap....uh, I actually can't think of any.


Signing off now and headed up the street for the finest center cut Coho on god's green earth. I might even spring for some fresh Dill, flown in daily from Morocco and only $39.99/lbs.



Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The game is on

It has been awhile, but it appears I'm back in the business of scambaiting.


Here is the full transcript for folks like me that have difficulty blowing up pictures or who can't locate their industrial strength reading glasses:

Dear Rich,

Recently, a search of likely relatives of a descendant Adrian F. Siegel undertaken by my bank via a Law firm in Hong Kong. The search process has taken place every year since 2013 but a relative has never been found. It will be 10years in December since his demise, and according to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority(HKMA) policy, such estates revert to the Abandoned Estates Division of the HK Administration after 10years.

I work for a Hong Kong bank. There is a deposit account of 35m(USD) in gold assets in my bank previously held by the descendant who died intestate on the 19th of December, 2013. Over the past 3 years, your name has consistently appeared on the Law firm's list submitted to my bank as a likely relative of the descendant because of your surname. Yet, a relative has not been found in 10years. I have realised that my bank never actually contacted any of the likely relatives to check if they are related.

I have written to propose to you to stand as the relative of the descendant and apply for the estate as the only known relative.

If you accept my proposal, I need you to know that I will be handling the legal charges that will arise if you agree and consent to my proposal to stand as the relative of the descendant. For your role in this, I am willing to give up more than half of the assets to yourself. I ask for your consent to partner with me for the claim of this estate. If your application is approved by the court, the assets will be transferred to your name and you will transfer my share to me. All documentation and applications will be handled by a Law firm paid for by myself.

You will apply as the next of kin, one of the several names on my bank's list for this year. With your consent and permission, the application will be processed on your behalf by a Hong Kong law firm that I will engage on your behalf. I can ensure success because I have access to internal bank documents that would corroborate your relations to the descendant. The totality of the proceeds of known assets will be credited directly by my bank to your bank account in your country after the approval of the Court as the only known relative.

I've been planning this for some time and by my calculation, this is totally risk free as:

i) Your name is on record as a possible relative of the descendant in my bank.

ii) I am in a position to facilitate a successful outcome of the process with the Hong Kong High Court because I have access to documents and information to back up your application as a relative of the descendant.

The provision of any additional documentation that may be required during the process of application will be handled by the Law firm that we engage. You will only be required to endorse or sign documents. The whole process of your application may take up to 6 or 8 months but your application will be approved eventually.

I implore you to please consider my proposal. Your earliest response to this matter would be highly appreciated.

Richard Wong.

And here is my retort:

Dear Mr. Wong,

OMG, I can’t believe it. I was sure I had lost all contact with great, great uncle Adrian, named after his aunt Adrianna, who lived in Mykonos and thought she was a mermaid until she was carted off by the people with the padded busses.


My great, great uncle Adrian fled Lithuania in the late 1930-‘s when the wax sealer business went sour. Advancements in postal sorting machines turned out to be the end of folks sealing their missives with little red dollop of hot wax. Hence, it was off to Hong Kong, where he made his millions in the Export/Export business.


Uncle Adrian knew that if many of the local peddlers in Tsang Kwano were doing Import/Export, he would have to zig while everyone else was zagging. 


None of us have heard from Uncle Adrian since 1958, the year of the Sheep Incident, the details of which are very sketchy. And possibly too lurid to discuss in the course of careful legal transfer of millions of dollars.


On that matter, and others that may pertain to the proper execution of the estate, I must insist of receiving 60% of the proceeds. It is standard practice in the United States to split all monetary awards of the court 60/40, client/attorney, respectively.


If we can agree on that that we can agree to move forward with the transfer of the $35 million held in gold assets. Begging the question, would I be paid in bullion, bars, or coins like the ones we have at Hannukah?


Please advise.


And by all means let’s get this process going as quickly as possible. 


Your new client,


Chet (Richard) Siegel

Tuesday, November 14, 2023


I'm a terrible shopper. I suspect most men are. I don't say that willy-nilly. I have the proof. Sort of.

Years ago, during Deb's cancer treatments, I was tasked with grocery shopping. Having loaded up my cart and carefully splaying out the goods on the black rubber conveyor belt, the cashier spotted my wedding ring and said, "If you were my husband I wouldn't let you anywhere near the supermarket."

She laughed.

I didn't.

"What? Did I do something wrong?"

"Honey, you did everything wrong." 

With that, I scratched my chin and exited the Pavilions with a fridge's worth of food and thimble's worth of shattered ego.

Last week, while writing about the Worst World Series ever, I suggested the folks in the graphics department put together a package that delineates a 2-seam fastball from a backdoor slider, which I'm not sure is a kid friendly term. 

Today, I came across an infographic (see picture above) that demonstrates my point. 

Sadly, however it popped up in my social media feed. It would've been much better in the Produce Section of my local supermarket. Especially since six non-specific apples put me back about 8 bucks.

Now that the good fruit, peaches, plums, cherries, are unavailable I have to eat apples and oranges. But how am I supposed to know which ones to buy? Are there people out there that actually know the difference between their Braeburns and their Snapdragons?  When did a simple apple not become a simple apple? I must have missed that day in school.

I'm convinced this species stratification is nothing more than a marketing strategy to squeeze as much out of our wallets as possible. 

And it doesn't end where the aisle of fruits turns into the aisle of crackers. 

Wheat Thins, when I allow myself the luxury of carbohydrates, now come in 58 varieties: Sea Salt, Cracked Pepper, Salt and Vinegar, Gouda, 4 Cheese, 4 Cheese & Sea Salt, 4 Cheese and Cracked Pepper, etc. etc.

Nor does it end with the comestibles. Just this morning before I laid out an mortgage payment for my weekly groceries, I spotted this...


It took me three weeks to sort through the Medicare maze. Now I need a menu of choices  that would rival a NYC deli just to keep my clothes clean?

There's too much information out there.

And not enough space in here (pointing to my head) to make sense of it all.

Update: While on a weekend trip to crunchy Sebastopol in Northern California to visit my sister in law and to celebrate a birthday for a friend of Ms. Muse, we were checking in to a local inn. 

While putzing over the room selection and incidentals, an older women rolled into the lobby with two satchels of fresh picked apples. She offered us a few. They were Gravenstein apples. Which upon further inspection, aren't even on the chart. 

Amply proving my point IRL.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Taketh thyself to the theater

IYKYK. If you don't, this is a copy of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. The book has been around  for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. My familiarity with ancient Roman History is only slightly less than my deep encyclopedic knowledge of British Royalty. Or the chronology of American Presidents.

All of which have conspired to keep me from ever becoming a contestant on Jeopardy.

I do know that Marc was one of the original Stoics. And that a 14th century copy of this book sits in the Vatican library. And now one sits on my nightstand, next to a 600 page tome by Maggie Haberman on the life and misdeeds of substantially less informed modern leader.

The book, a collection of notes to himself regarding character and self improvement plays a key role in Alexander Payne's new movie The Holdovers. Maybe you've seen the trailers. I suggest you treat yourself and see the movie.

That is, assuming you like movies with: 

No superheroes.

No Marvel characters.

No car chases.

No bloody fistfights.

No guns.

No iPhones.

There are, however, a myriad linguistic gems, finely hewn insults and enough literary and latin references to make even George Tannenbaum blush. Of course, most of those went over this Vulgarian Visogoth's head, but I got the gist.

Turns out, and I did not know this, that I am a big fan of Alexander Payne, who also wrote and directed Election. I caught that charmer recently during a bout of insomnia and laughed all the way to the end. He also wrote and directed The Descendants which takes place in Kauai, where my family had many vacations. And made many memories.

Having now stepped into the flips flops of George Clooney's character, I would have awarded him an Academy Award for a performance that uncaps the valve on the waterworks.

The Holdovers manages to strike a measured balance between the absurdities of life as well as the vector-altering gut punches.

This coming of age film takes place in 1970, ironically enough when films too were just coming of age.

I give it a Yodel and Ding Dong up.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Walk this way

This photo is a little misleading. Correction, a lot misleading. Because I'm not here to kvetch. For once.

It's now been 4 weeks since my surgery. I'm happy to say it's going well. The swelling has gone down. The scar is not awful. And, while I enjoyed the painkillers, the little orange vial is empty and I did not get hooked. 

I've even resumed my real addiction -- exercise. Yesterday I swam a mile. Biked 18 miles. And walked a little more than 4.3 miles. OK, exactly 4.3 miles. 

Movement is good for me. And not just physically. 

As I reacquaint myself with the neighborhood and find myself drifting towards the New Culver Steps and the arts district on revitalized Washington Blvd., I've had the opportunity to snap a lot of pictures. Which can only mean one thing. 

Rich is a lazy ass and doesn't want to write. And, it's also time for another edition of Thursday Photo Funnies.

This was shot from across the street, in the wee hours of the morning.
Not only have I lost my inguinal bulge, I've also lost my ability to sleep late.

You gotta love writers. I miss walking the picket lines.

My neighborhood did not produce one trick or treater, 
but made up for it with incredible decorations.
(Now I have to eat the candy all by myself)

Speaking of which, check out the eye candy at our new local Erewhon.
I might shop there, if I win the lottery.

That's the ocean in the distance.
Note to self: must walk in that direction.

I might have overdone the color saturation.
Looks more like an illustration, now.

Sometimes my walking takes me to lovely Sierra Madre.

Or South Pasadena (South Pas), 
where they have their own Lucha Libre store.

Back in Culver City, we have our own scary clowns
with oversized uninviting bowed legs. Yeah, no.

And overly ambitious graffiti artists
who sometimes actually make real art.

Finally, for reasons that still elude me (well, maybe not)
I have yet to convince Ms. Muse to partake in exotic Hebraic cuisine.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Pass the pork

Confusion is setting in.

Relax, this is not a health issue and hopefully not an indicator of things to come. It simply occurred to me the other day that I've had my memory wires crossed. 

For years I told the the story of the 600 lbs. pig that arrived on set and attributed this weird incident to Director Tony Kaye, a man with whom I have had some general unpleasantness.

But it turns out, the arrival of the oversized swine at the end of the day, while filming a spot for Sony PlayStation, was the handiwork of Director Doug Liman -- perhaps best know for Swingers. For reasons that still elude me, Doug thought it would be fun to have a humongus hog on the set as we were shooting artillery at various objects, to mimic the actions of Tiny Tank. 

I suppose the confusion is not all that mysterious. Both directors are on the quirky side. Doug brought pigs to the set. Tony refused to talk on the telephone and would not speak directly with creative people, the same folks who mistakenly hired him to shoot their spots.

In general I was always leery of commercial directors. Many of whom harbor a Diva complex. Years ago, I heard tale of a German director, who prior to working with any ad agency would supply a 19 page memo of "riders" that had to be addressed before he deemed the project worthy of his precious time. The "No Green M&M's" Phenomena taken to extremes.

On the other hand, I've had the good fortune of working with many talented, congenial and accessible normal people (directors) like Chris Smith, Rick Lemoine, Bryan Buckley, just to name a few that come to my increasingly addled mind.

I'm now an hour into writing this post and I've already forgotten my original point.

Ah yes...Pigs.

And my pet peeve of the day.

I knew it would come full circle.

As many of you know I write quite a bit about our former president, who I, and many others, including Liz Cheney, Mary Trump, and 81 million Americans, consider an existential threat to America and hence the world.

And in writing about him, I've been known to illustrate my point with some colorful language. And because I have run out of adjectives that sufficiently encapsulate his boorish behavior, have often compared him to one of our pinkish porcine friends.

This, often elicits a response, that in addition to being pedestrian, is enough to make me want to pull my hair out, you know, if I had any left.

"Oh Rich, that's an insult the pigs."

Yeah, ok, duly noted. Thanks for uselessly chiming in.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Worst Series


Did you enjoy last week's World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Texas Rangers? I wanted to. But didn't.

And not just because Arizona came out on the short end of the bat. 

Let's face it, these were two minor market teams. But through the lens of today's divisive politics I had every reason to root for Arizona (a state that went blue in 2020) and against the Texas Rangers, home of Senator Ted Cancun. Not to mention the D'backs (they didn't really think that through, did they?) had a partnership with my father's old employer, AVNET.

But the truth is we -- meaning fans of baseball -- all lost. 

I don't religiously follow baseball from March to October. I have a short attention span. And 162 games is probably 150 too many. Perhaps that's why relish and savor the World Series. Always have. Something about two teams, at the height of their proficiency, squaring off in what I had hoped to be a 7 game series.

I know the math doesn't work, but I wish they could all be 7 game series.

In the past three decades, the WS has produced so many Fall Classics. Including the 1992 matchup between the Atlanta Braves and the Toronto Blue Jays. That one ended on October 24. A Saturday. 

I remember because Game 6 was played the same day as my wedding. And half the men at the reception, hoping to avoid embarrassing themselves on the dance floor, retreated to the bar for baseball and drinking, America's real national pastime.

There's been plenty of drama since then. None of it happened last week. With the exception of the first game that the Rangers won 6-5, every game was a sleepy, humiliating blowout. Not because of errors. Or because of brilliant strategizing. But because on any given night one team never showed up.

Additionally, as pointed out by Ms. Muse, the announcers seemed to be in some Ambien-induced fog. Charisma deficient John Smoltz and Ron Darling should be working the offices of a funeral home not the broadcast booth. I miss Joe Morgan and Tim McCarver. Even guys like Alex Rodriguez and dare I say, Joe Buck, had me hanging on every pitch.

And for god's sake Fox Sports, if your former pitchers-turned-color commentary guys are going to drone on about 4 seam fastballs, 2 seam fastballs, change-ups, curve balls, sliders, even the occasional knuckleball, have the graphics department come up with some tutorial inset to demonstrate the difference. 

Maybe my Impending Dirt Nap Nostalgia is kicking in, and pardon the politically incorrect reference, but lately, "Baseball not been very good to me lately."


Also, Happy Birthday to my first boxing sparring partner, my seat mate at Shea Stadium, my little brother, Larry.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Hebraic reasonings

(A picture worth 16 million words)

There are 1.6 Billion Muslim people on the plant.

They are joined by more than 2.2 Billion Christians.

In light of the horrific conflagration in the Middle East and the ugly unveiling of deep seeded antisemitism, I wonder how many have had to resort to this bullshit.

Makes me sick. 

Too sick to write.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

This sucks

Years ago, in what seems another lifetime, my father, a senior Financial VP with Brownell Electro, (A division of AVNET) secured a job for me as a forklift driver. At a warehouse. In, of all places, Compton. 

If you've been watching the World Series lately you might have spotted the AVNET patch worn by the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

If you're familiar with Los Angeles, you know Compton in the 1980's was nowhere for a nice white Jewish boy from the burbs to be. Or even Sean Penn. See Colors, Colors, Colors. Sorry, couldn't resist.

I asked my father how I would get to this dream job schlepping huge spools of industrial cable, since I didn't have a car. Nor afford a car at that time. 

"Buy a bike. You can afford a bike right?" he responded. 

Though I was 22 years old, the character-building phase of my childhood had apparently not ended.

As the crow flies, it was only 20 or so miles from my one bedroom apartment in West LA to the grimy, crimey streets of Compton. Of course crows don't have to navigate gang territories, stop and go traffic, and the many pitfalls urban LA had to offer at the time. In fact they still do.

Los Angeles is not a bike friendly town, though many of our unhoused neighbors seem to enjoy the activity and each miraculously owns several bikes. Or bike parts. 

To do any decent bike riding here in Southern California, one must find a bike path. Fortunately I live a 1/4 mile from one that takes me down to the scenic Pacific Ocean which never fails to brighten my spirits. But having ridden up and down the stretch of sand that reaches from the Southern tip of Venice to the northern end of Redondo Beach for so many years, and literally logged thousands of miles, it's nice to take a break. Find a different path. 

A path, a path, sorry, couldn't resist again.

To accomplish that, one must hoist the bike onto the car and go.

I wasn't about to slap a noisy roof rack atop my 2015 Audi S5 and torture myself with all that whistling. Nor was I about to spring for a cheapo trunk rack that required all manner of hooking and strapping and mechanical configurating that often sends my brain into a Mitch McConnell like trance.

My options were limited. And that sucked.

That is until I discovered the SeaSucker. See what I did there?

It operates on vacuum sealing. The innovative design sits atop the car, with no bolts, nuts or fastening devices whatsoever. If you've ever shot dart guns with suction cup tips you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Here's what my old Cinelli (purchased in 1984 and still going) looks like when bonded with my car. 

It may look a little flimsy, but the SeaSucker people, along with one Isaac Newton, assure me the rack and the bike are going nowhere.

It's pretty amazing. And yes, I'm hawking it right here in hopes that you will enjoy that "Take Your Bike Anywhere" Type Freedom. And I will enjoy a substantial commission on every sale.

Get your SeaSucker here: