Putin on the Ritz

Have you seen the sav­ior fare, up and down Dzerzhin­sky Square
On that famous thor­ough­fare, with their mis­siles in the air


Fur hats and act­ing bru­tal, white men with lots of ruble
Spend­ing every cent, for their Com­mu­nist foment


If you’re weak and you don’t know what help to seek
Why don’t you go where the fas­cist sits,
Putin on the Ritz.


Dif­fer­ent types who wear a great­coat, pants with stripes
And armored coat, per­fect fits,
Putin on the Ritz.


Dressed up like a Marx­ist para­trooper
Try­ing hard to look like Igor Cooper (super duper)
Come let’s mix where Com­mu­nists walk with sticks
Or Kalash­nikovs in their mitts
Putin on the Ritz


Wields his power like a royal daugh­ter
While he rides a bear across the water (to a slaugh­ter)
You’ll declare it’s sim­ply top­ping to be there
And see them map­ping smart-bomb hits
Putin on the Ritz!



Dear Florida

Dear Florida:

I know you have many good points — sun, sand, surf, weather — and they are why I want to move into your warm embrace. I know you also have a dark side; we all do, really, and I promise I won’t hold it against you if you exhibit the occa­sional hur­ri­cane. I won’t even mind if alli­ga­tors come gal­lumph­ing through my front yard or poi­so­nous snakes wrap them­selves around me once in a while.

It beats the 7-month-long win­ter we have here in Penn­syl­va­nia, and total lack of sun, sand, surf, etc.

But with­out seem­ing to be unap­pre­cia­tive, I have come up with a short list of things I would like to see you insti­tute before I move there. I’m not quite sure exactly when I’m going to be mov­ing — hope­fully within the next year or so — but I think that a year is enough time to get every­thing in place. Please feel free to con­tact me, dear Florida, if you need any help in under­stand­ing or exe­cut­ing any of these items.

Here we go …

Legal­ize med­i­c­i­nal and recre­ational mar­i­juana — I’ve been dry for sev­eral years now and I miss my old friend. Besides, what bet­ter way to spend my twi­light years than to be sur­rounded by the afore­men­tioned sun, sand, etc. while I am fully and truly baked? NOTE: This is a deal-breaker, sweetie. Don’t think I haven’t been check­ing out Col­orado on Craigslist … when it comes down to the wire, I’ll take weed over waves any day. I can always sprin­kle kitty lit­ter around the bath­tub and install a sun­lamp.

Bike lanes and bus routes — I’m not sure that I want to drive again, so I’m plan­ning on either bik­ing or bussing my way around town. I note from count­less close inspec­tions of Google Maps that many of the towns I’m con­sid­er­ing have bike lanes, which is good, but your bus ser­vice is a lit­tle more spotty. Try to up your game on pub­lic tran­sit, okay? P.S.: Mono­rails would be awesome.

Lan­guage — Look, I know you’re one of the lead­ing hosts of immi­grants, both legal and ille­gal, in the United States — what are you, #2 or #3 in the coun­try? Regard­less, let’s not get too crazy, okay? I mean like, to the point where every­thing is in an alien lan­guage. If I go to the library I won’t be happy if I find one lit­tle shelf labeled “Eng­lish Lan­guage Books” while the rest of the shelves con­tain only Span­ish lan­guage ones. Or if every sin­gle store’s name begins with “La” or “El”. And don’t think I’m a racist — I’m an Amer­i­can. There’s a small but impor­tant dis­tinc­tion there …

Old Retired Peo­ple — I am also aware that you have a rep as being the Grave­yard of the U.S. — that peo­ple flock to you when they real­ize they can no longer run faster than Father Time. I appre­ci­ate that you’ve set your­self up to serve these folks, but let’s not go over­board, okay? I don’t want to be wait­ing half an hour for some rick­ety for­mer Snow Bel­ter to pick up their dish of stewed prunes from the counter while I’m jonesing on a Cuban sand­wich, all right? How about we mark out an area some­where — maybe near Lake­land, or some­where down near the Ever­glades? — where all the old peo­ple have to go. As an adden­dum to that thought — I’ll let you know when I finally choose a place to move, and you can pass a law that only fit young ladies under 25 years old are allowed to wear bathing suits — I don’t want to spend my Golden Years gaz­ing at waves of cel­lulite and vari­cose veins.

Weird / Yucky / Deadly Sea LifeLook, it’s okay when Jacques Cousteau used to be around, fondling manta rays and eat­ing jel­ly­fish and stuff, but the shine is off by now, you dig? I’d like to go snor­kel­ing once in a while and I don’t par­tic­u­larly enjoy hav­ing those weird-ass crit­ters swim­ming up out of nowhere and bit­ing / sting­ing / eat­ing my ass whole. Get your poo-poo together — fig­ure out some way to catch them and put them in aquar­i­ums, throw a bunch of birth-control pills in the water, hell, pay cit­i­zen boaters to toss quar­ter sticks of dyna­mite over the side as they go fish­ing. I want to be able to enjoy my swim with­out hav­ing to con­stantly be look­ing over my shoulder.

Close Down North­ern Immi­gra­tion — there are WAY too many North­ern­ers flee­ing the colder climes and fill­ing up your beau­ti­ful shores. As soon as I move there I would like to see a mora­to­rium on Snow Bun­nies re-establishing them­selves there. 


Thank you, dear Florida. I hope to see you soon.



Of Charley Horses and Long Discourses

It is per­haps an axiom that oft times our actions can be mis­con­strued as being some­thing totally dif­fer­ent than what they are. The man who picks up the lost wal­let usu­ally does so in plain sight of the vic­tim, who is at that very moment telling the police­man what his wal­let looks like and where he lost it. The friendly peck on the cheek from a good-looking long-time acquain­tance always occurs just when your spouse comes walk­ing around the cor­ner. Of course, it’s always at church or an impor­tant busi­ness meet­ing that you dis­cover your imp­ish 5-year-old has cho­sen that day to sur­rep­ti­tiously place a Chiq­uita banana sticker on your hindquarters.


I have to admit that I have, not with­out some small sense of pride, con­tin­ued this ancient tra­di­tion just this very morn­ing. I have the some­what odd habit of sleep­ing not in a bed but in a recliner, one of those won­drous inven­tions that hold you, tilt you, rock and recline you, heat you and seat you and now even fea­ture mini-refrigerators and audio/visual con­trol sta­tions. Unfor­tu­nately I don’t own one of those – the one I have is an oldie, a sort of bland non-color mate­r­ial lib­er­ally clawed by the cat of the house, the kind of chair in the kind of con­di­tion that even the Sal­va­tion Army would turn their noses up at, squeaky and rick­ety and dirty and abused, but com­fort­able. The hole in the front of the seat cush­ion is start­ing to enlarge to the point where the yel­lowed foam inside is mak­ing its break for free­dom, yet still I wouldn’t trade-in this bat­tered old vet­eran for a dozen new models.


It has soul.


lounge-cat… and it’s super bad …


Another of my odd habits is that as a self-employed writer I tend to keep strange hours. I have no wife or chil­dren in the house, just a room-mate who believes in my lit­er­ary quest and had offered me inex­pen­sive lodg­ings when I most needed them (starving-artist syn­drome). As a result I often do not “hit the sheets” until 3 or 4 in the morn­ing, and cou­pled with my polypha­sic sleep­ing habits (devel­oped many years ago in col­lege) I am what is usu­ally known as a “nap­per” — I sleep for an hour or an hour and a half, 3 times a day, and find that this pro­vides me with enough energy to do what I need – and want – to do.


Unfor­tu­nately I am also get­ting older – I turned 56 a few months ago – and although I spent over 40 years prac­tic­ing and teach­ing mar­tial arts and con­se­quently was in pretty good phys­i­cal shape, I have allowed myself to fall into the dis­grace of unfit­ness these last 10 years or so since my retire­ment from the mar­tial world. I won’t say that I’m on the same level as your typ­i­cal Wal­mart shop­per or Chi­nese buf­fet attendee, but let’s face it – I’m not the man I used to be. No longer can I per­form those jump-spinning round­house kicks to my oppo­nents heads – now I just turn my lawyers loose on any­one fool­ish enough to chal­lenge me and use big-sounding words to defeat little-minded opponents.


So per­haps it was not entirely unthink­able, given my sleep habits, self-imposed work sched­ule and poor dietary habits (hint: pizza and cof­fee are two of my main food groups) that one day I would get a Charley horse.


Accord­ing to the National Insti­tutes of Health’s Med­line­Plus Ency­clo­pe­dia, a Charley horse -


… is the com­mon name for a mus­cle spasm. Mus­cle spasms can occur in any mus­cle in the body, but often hap­pen in the leg. When a mus­cle is in spasm, it con­tracts with­out your con­trol and does not relax.




 They go on to inform me that the cause of a Charley horse may be over-exertion (that’s not me), dehy­dra­tion (hey, I take in 5 pots of cof­fee every day) or the lack of cer­tain vit­a­mins such as cal­cium or potassium.


Med­line­Plus then gives me some fas­ci­nat­ing news, of which I would never have been aware had they not told me -

 When a mus­cle goes into spasm it feels very tight. It is some­times described as a knot. The pain can be severe.


Yes – VERY severe, as I found out this morning.


I had fin­ished up an arti­cle for a client at around 2am and made myself a lit­tle snack con­sist­ing of a banana (note – source of potas­sium!), a few nuts and my final mug of light and sweet cof­fee for the day. I col­lapsed into the recliner and kicked back to the “TV view­ing” posi­tion – only a slight recline angle and with the feet ele­vated. I started watch­ing one of my favorite oldies on the oldies net­work, The Hon­ey­moon­ers, and my final mem­ory of con­scious­ness was chuck­ling at Ralph and Norton’s antics before I fell off into my short-sleep mode.


Now after an hour and a half my inter­nal alarm clock usu­ally goes DING and I awake refreshed and ready for another 7-hour stint at the key­board, but this time some­thing went wrong. This time I was cat­a­pulted into wake­ful­ness by not one but TWO Charley horses, one in each calf. To call this pain “severe” is like call­ing the Titanic dis­as­ter “a lit­tle boat­ing mishap” — this level of pain is usu­ally reserved for masochists and vol­un­teers for polit­i­cal ral­lies. It felt as if Hulk Hogan had grabbed my left calf, Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger my right and then both pro­ceeded to squeeze for all they were worth.


A moan, long and low yet quite spir­ited, escaped my lips — “Ooooooooooooooooohh­h­h­h­h­hhh”. At the same time I rocked for­ward slightly in the recliner, which gave off its usual “SQUEEEEEEEK”. The pain in my legs less­ened by just a lit­tle and I fell back into the chair. That’s when the next wave of pain invaded my lower legs.


Once again — “Oooooooooooohh­h­h­h­h­hhh” … “SQUEEEEEEEEK” …


And again a third time … “Oooooooooohh­h­h­hhh” … “SQUEEEEEEEEK” …


By this time I couldn’t even get out of the recliner, the pain was so bad. Arnold and The Hulk­ster were hav­ing a grand old time wring­ing out what remained of my gas­troc­ne­mius and soleus mus­cle groups. It was then that I noticed that Tig­ger and Snag­gle­puss, the res­i­dent Pekingese and long-hair/short-hair mix cat, were sit­ting qui­etly together watch­ing me, fas­ci­nated by either my move­ments or, more likely, my sounds. Nor­mally they respond only to the sound of a work­ing can opener or of food being poured into a dish, so I can only imag­ine that some­how my preter­nat­ural moans closely imi­tated Kitty Chow being dumped into a small ceramic bowl.



 Arnold and The Hulk­ster not to scale

Tig­ger and Snaggs watched me for sev­eral more Oooohhhh-Squeeeek cycles before bore­dom over­took them both and they began chas­ing each other. Unfor­tu­nately they chose as their play area the space directly BENEATH the recliner’s footrest, so even if I HAD been able to get my feet down on the ground the move­ment would have been thwarted by sev­eral pounds of com­bined canine and feline bodies.


AAAHHHHH!” I man­aged to utter in my frus­tra­tion at this newest turn of events. Thus began the mantra of the morning -


“Ooooooohh­hhh” … “SQUEEEEEEEK” … “AAAHHHHH” … “SQUEEEEEEK” … “Oooooohhhhh” …



Talkin’ ’bout my generation …

That’s when my roommate’s head poked around the cor­ner slowly and care­fully, afraid to see what, once seen, could not be unseen. The look of relief on her face was price­less, but was then rapidly replaced by puz­zle­ment. The crit­ters mean­while ran under her legs for shel­ter from the moan­ing madman.


At the same time I heard our upstairs neigh­bor, a 40-ish main­te­nance man, actu­ally gig­gle and then walk rapidly away from a spot directly overhead.


After what seemed an eter­nity but was in actu­al­ity per­haps only three min­utes after I first woke up I was finally able to stand up and begin lurch­ing stiff-legged around the house like Frankenstein’s mon­ster, still giv­ing off gut­tural moans and the occa­sional “AHh­hhh!” when a mini-seizure would strike once again in my lower extrem­i­ties. After sev­eral more min­utes of thump-moan-thump-moan and the rapid devour­ing of 3 bananas and a gal­lon of Orange Crush drink the pain dis­ap­peared, leav­ing my legs feel­ing like I had just fin­ished a 30-mile forced march with a full pack on my back.


Remem­ber back at the begin­ning of this arti­cle, when I men­tioned how the most inno­cent of actions can be misconstrued?


I went to the store this morn­ing to pick up my daily rations of milk and bread, and as I approached the glass entry doors I saw my upstairs neigh­bors laugh­ing with the female clerk (our next-door neigh­bor), both sud­denly stop­ping their laugh­ter and find­ing things to be busy with when I walked through the door, still not being entirely able to wipe the smirks from their faces.


I paid for my sup­plies and left, and as I began walk­ing up the side­walk I heard behind me “Oooooohh­hhh … SQUEEEEEK …. AAAH­H­H­h­h­h­hhh”, fol­lowed by an erup­tion of laugh­ter. I would swear that sev­eral stray dogs grinned at me before I got back home. Lit­tle old ladies com­ing out of church spit at me.


Some­times life just isn’t fair, and things aren’t what they seem.



Great Presidential Erections

Great Presidential Erections

From a Face­book post­ing

Metrosexual Breast Holsters

Where would we be with­out Etsy? In addi­tion to sup­ply­ing our habits for lav­ish inte­rior design objects and wear­able art, they are the sole deal­ers in the highly-rated and vir­tu­ally unavail­able Met­ro­sex­ual Breast Holsters.


Lov­ingly hand-crafted in DMetro Bag Geekussel­dorf, Ger­many and retail­ing for a mere $165.99, the Met­ro­sex­ual Breast Hol­sters are made of the finest leatherette, ensur­ing that you can­not be held respon­si­ble for the sense­less slaugh­ter of any liv­ing animal. 

Now when faced with a self-defense sit­u­a­tion call­ing for some heavy guns, you can proudly say “Now you’re gonna’ get a look at my OTHER .44’s!

Ger­hardt, our model here, has only just begun breast aug­men­ta­tion surgery so he might not be show­ing the full use­ful­ness of this won­drous cre­ation. Know that even with the largest of man-boobs the Met­ro­sex­ual Breast Hol­sters can pack ‘em away neatly and dis­cretely. Flop­ping hither and yon? Not with THESE holsters!

In addi­tion to its velour-lined breast hold­ing cham­bers the Met­ro­sex­ual Breast Hol­ster also has out­side zip­pered pock­ets for your manly sup­plies — cell phone, pocket change, breast pumps, etc.

Machine-washable in cold water (line dry) and, as men­tioned in the Etsy ad, “Man is free to move and the times stuffed his pock­ets are on the way over.”

Hurry and grab a pair for your pair!



Pet Parents — Doggy Daddies and Meow Mommies

The term “pet par­ents” has really taken off over the past few months. I’ve seen it appear­ing in more and more places, but one of the biggest abusers of this term is the pet food com­pany known as Blue Buf­falo. Their sappy com­mer­cials con­sis­tently refer to “pet par­ents” and “he’s our biggest boy”, the lat­ter stated by Mom as her bio­log­i­cal son in the back­ground looks down sadly.

So what started all this? I mean, you really are NOT their par­ent — you do real­ize that, don’t you? Did you ever stop to con­sider that if you’re claim­ing to be your doggy’s mommy, that makes you a bitch? Okay, so if you have a cat that makes you a queen — under­stand­able, I suppose.

Most of the peo­ple using the “pet par­ent” title for them­selves are child­less, or their own bio­log­i­cal chil­dren have flown the coop. I saw one com­ment on a dis­cus­sion board, in answer to some­one stat­ing that a pet owner is not a pet par­ent — the respon­der stated that they also have an adopted human child — does that make them any less that child’s parent?


It’s won­der­ful that peo­ple care so well for their pets and think so highly of them that they will spend an esti­mated $60 bil­lion this year on food, toys, hous­ing, cloth­ing, med­ical care and adop­tion / pur­chas­ing fees. That amount of money would buy a lot of human babies.

Oh, what — that’s a ter­ri­ble thing to say? Not any more so than call­ing your­self a par­ent to a four-legged furkid. Yep, that’s one of the many ways these pet par­ents refer to their “kids” — “fur kids” or, as I’ve often seen it spelled, “furkids”. All one small, com­pact, happy word. But to me it implies that your child has hyper­tri­chosis.

Fur Kid

… and this is Gra­cie, our third furkid …

Think it over: if you refer to your­self as your pet’s par­ent then you are claim­ing that you either bought or adopted your child, since I doubt you are bio­log­i­cally capa­ble of giv­ing birth to them. If you adopted them, how do you know that they weren’t torn away from their mother at too early an age, or were part of some puppy mill that made “The Jun­gle” look like Club Med?

Or, if you pur­chased them, isn’t that the equiv­a­lent of buy­ing your child on the subway?

It would be all too easy to tell these peo­ple to get a life, but I’m fas­ci­nated by the psy­chol­ogy of the whole phe­nom­ena. On the sur­face it appears to be a cutesy-wutesy fan­tasy — “Oh, yes, come to Mommy, sweet­heart!” or “Mommy is SO proud of you for tak­ing a dump in the yard!”. Those are the kinds of expres­sions you would nor­mally expect to find being applied to human chil­dren (well, the yard thing not so much, but there ARE some weird par­ents out there).

It’s enough that we even talk to ani­mals — no, strike that. It’s enough that we even talk to ani­mals AND we expect them to answer in any but an instinc­tive way. In my work as a mar­tial arts instruc­tor I am con­stantly encour­ag­ing my stu­dents to return to such an instinc­tual level, to bet­ter respond in a self-defense sit­u­a­tion. Basi­cally what that involves is shed­ding our social con­di­tion­ing and return­ing to our ani­mal roots, where we respond directly AND WITHOUT THOUGHT to a cer­tain set of stimuli.

And that is how our ani­mals — not our furkids, but our ani­mals — respond to us. Instinc­tively. You call friends and fam­ily and take numer­ous snap­shots when your cat rubs against your leg, as if that is proof that he/she loves you.

No. All they’re doing is leav­ing their scent, their marker, on you. Basi­cally they’re putting a “SOLD” sign on your leg.

What about when Fido gets so excited to see you that he starts hump­ing your leg? A gen­uine dis­play of affec­tion, or a horny crit­ter doing what comes nat­u­rally? My roommate’s Pekingese, with the charm­ing name of Tig­ger, humps legs, pil­lows, the cat, the remote con­trol, 2x4’s, what­ever is avail­able — is he THAT full of love or is he just try­ing to rip off a quickie?

little leg humper furkid

Doin’ what comes naturally …”

Start­ing back around 2009–2010 was a strange trend even­tu­ally known and cat­e­go­rized as “dog­noir” and “cat­noir” — nov­els that high­lighted the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tual bonds between peo­ple and their furry chil­dren. I sit alone at night, won­der­ing whether the open­ing of such nov­els go:




It was a dark and stormy night, and I was all alone in my pala­tial doghouse …

Or …

Jin­gles felt the feel­ing com­ing on again. It had been two moons since his last amorous adven­ture and he was hot to trot …

Sup­port­ers of the pet par­ent move­ment (cult?) point out that their hairy lit­tle charges are intel­li­gent. I’m sorry, but run­ning at high speed into walls, eat­ing your own vomit and doing the dirty with a rub­ber squeaky toy does not exactly qual­ify as “intel­li­gent” in my book. 

“They’re lov­ing — they give love unabashedly” is another phrase I often hear. Again, is it REALLY love or just a tem­po­rary con­ve­nience? When Sylvester curls up in your lap is it a sign of life-long affec­tion, or sim­ply Syl’s way of stay­ing warm when you’re too cheap to turn up the ther­mo­stat? Or what about when Rex barks at scary strangers — he’s pro­tect­ing you, right?

Unfor­tu­nately I’ve known many dogs that will bark if the sun rises or the wind blows, so let’s leave that one out, shall we?

  • Do your furry prog­eny break your heart while they’re still alive? No.
  • Do they stay out late and come home at 3AM singing dirty dit­ties and wear­ing a pair of panties on their head? No.
  • Do they call you when they’ve just arrived at their new col­lege dorm? No.


Hope­fully we still treat our bio­log­i­cal chil­dren bet­ter than our adopted/purchased/stolen ani­mal friends. I know from first-hand expe­ri­ence that my sons did NOT respond well to being placed in crates, forced to eat table scraps or wear­ing shock collars.

The take-away here is that ani­mals are won­der­ful com­pan­ions. They are play­ful, curi­ous and serve as touch­stones when we are feel­ing blue. But they are NOT our chil­dren, and claim­ing that they are is an insult to bio­log­i­cal par­ents the world over.

10 Places To Avoid On A First Date

The world of online dat­ing is a gigan­tic beast of an indus­try offer­ing com­pan­ion­ship, romance and yes, even love, to the lonely-hearted denizens of the ‘Net. In fact, it is pre­cisely because it is such a large indus­try that, much like Apple and Google, it has man­aged to spin off a score of satel­lite indus­tries and niche markets.

One such niche is the online dat­ing advice mar­ket. It would be hard to find any web­site devoted to the 18–30-year-old demo­graphic that doesn’t men­tion in at least one arti­cle or forum post­ing some good old-fashioned advice for online dat­ing. They cover how to take your pro­file pic­ture, what you should and should not put into your pro­file and adver­tise­ment, how to make sure the per­son you choose isn’t Doc­tor Lecter in dis­guise – in short, they give the ulti­mate how-to on find­ing and snar­ing that one-in-a-million guy or gal.

But then they just stop. No more advice. Just when you need it the most, too.

You see, when you finally make the big jump from an online rela­tion­ship to a real-world one, you’re stuck with sev­eral prob­lems: does your new friend match up to their online pro­fil­ing? Are you hook­ing up with a latent stalker? Do they gig­gle and drool when­ever you say the word “con­ju­gate”?

And one more major prob­lem – where should you NOT go for a first date.

Oh, sure, there are plenty of arti­cles you can Google on “where to go for your first date”, but not a sin­gle one that offers advice on loca­tions to avoid. My aim in writ­ing this arti­cle is to out­line 10 of those very places and thus fill the void.

Note that with only one excep­tion, these 10 no-fly zones are all legal busi­nesses fre­quented by law-abiding indi­vid­u­als on a daily basis. They aren’t on this list merely because of their inher­ently evil nature; rather, they are here because of the anes­thetiz­ing effects they can have on a new relationship.

For exam­ple …



Church - 10 Places To Avoid On A first date

A church, of any denom­i­na­tion, is a very bad idea for a first date for sev­eral reasons.

First, if you take your date there dur­ing ser­vices you’re faced with pew-fulls of peo­ple, all poten­tial wit­nesses for any nookie you may be plan­ning. Two is com­pany, but 400 is a Mass.

Then come the guilt trips. Even if you are a rag­ing athe­ist you’re going to develop pangs of guilt when you’re whis­per­ing sweet noth­ings in your date’s ear while being watched by a 20-foot tall statue of what­ever saint or holy fig­ure is pre­em­i­nent in that church. Such stat­ues, usu­ally made from cold, hard mar­ble, always seem to be like those trick 3-D paint­ings – wher­ever you move their eyes seem to fol­low you.

Another prob­lem is that you’ll prob­a­bly have to cough up a few bucks for the col­lec­tion plate, which, if you’re going for a free­bie night out, is going to cramp your style.

So it’s best to avoid churches dur­ing their ser­vices, but what if you plan your date for a time when the church is empty? Many churches actu­ally lock their doors between ser­vices nowa­days in order to foil the crack heads com­ing in and steal­ing what­ever isn’t bolted down. How would you feel if you had spent days con­vinc­ing your on-line love that St. Albert-In-The-Field would be the ideal loca­tion for your first tryst, only to find the doors securely chained upon your arrival?

Even if you man­age to find an open, empty church, you can be sure that just when you’re start­ing to fire on all eight cylin­ders with your date is the moment when the cute lit­tle 90-year-old clean­ing lady will pop up in front of you and begin a dis­cus­sion of what home­made cleaner is best for oak.

So, churches are pretty much off the list.



Morgue - 10 Places To Avoid On A First Date

Don’t laugh – a morgue offers many of the most sought-after attrib­utes of a won­der­ful first-date loca­tion: secluded, quiet, ele­gant and thermostatically-controlled. But unless you have truly found your soul-mate you’ll prob­a­bly rue the day you came up with the idea.

The rea­son a morgue isn’t an ideal first des­ti­na­tion for your bud­ding rela­tion­ship isn’t the obvi­ous one – it isn’t because it’s a big room filled with dead peo­ple. That’s inci­den­tal. No, the real rea­son you don’t want to be there with your honey is because of the ill-timed inter­rup­tions that seem always to hap­pen just when you’re get­ting into the swing of things.

Con­sider this sce­nario: you’ve got your hunky part­ner up on the septically-clean autopsy table, the cold, gleam­ing stain­less steel turn­ing you on. You’ve just begun to unbut­ton his Calvin Klein shirt when a noisy bunch of atten­dants burst through the swing­ing doors argu­ing amongst them­selves over whether Drawer #3 weighs more than Drawer #6. They screech to a halt when they see the two of you doing your best imi­ta­tion of the zom­bie tango, stare open-mouthed at you for what seems like hours, then finally back out of the room and take to their heels to see who can be the first one to call the cops.

No, I’m afraid that the morgue is def­i­nitely off the list, no mat­ter HOW much fun it could be.


Used Car Lot

Used Car Lot - 10 Places To Avoid On A first Date

A used-car lot might seem to be the ideal first-date place for sev­eral rea­sons: all those fes­tive, flut­ter­ing ban­ners, the tall inflat­able guy doing his dance in the front, all that shiny metal and glass – it’s like a Caribbean vacation!

But there are hid­den draw­backs to this idyl­lic spot, the most annoy­ing of which is that if you are dis­cov­ered lurk­ing on the lot dur­ing your date you will most prob­a­bly be sub­jected to a lengthy sales pitch by a guy wear­ing a cheap toupee. The best thing to do in that case is to feign inter­est in one of his more lux­u­ri­ous rides, take it out for a test drive with your date and at least sal­vage a bit of dig­nity in the process.

New car show­rooms, by the way, won’t even be men­tioned here as they are too grue­some to even think about.


XXX Adult Shop

Adult Bookstore - 10 Places To Avoid On A First Date

Those of a more lib­eral – or lib­er­ated – mind-set might con­sider an adult book shop as an inter­est­ing choice for a first date. Though cer­tainly not for every­one, these estab­lish­ments might offer a few ben­e­fits such as an envi­ron­ment devoid of talk­ing, the thrill of avoid­ing direct eye-contact and the abil­ity to watch movies for the price of just a few quarters.

There are often racks full of toys that you and your date can inspect, read­ing mate­r­ial that can lead to spec­u­la­tion and enter­tain­ment and the joy of strik­ing up con­ver­sa­tions with like-minded strangers, but beware the pit­falls: do not accept any offers to attend a “party” as these usu­ally turn out to be, if not totally false, at least greatly depress­ing. Do not attempt to “make-out” with your date in the movie booths or the mer­chan­dise aisles, as this will result in your imme­di­ate ejec­tion from the premises.

And do not attempt to bring in a pic­nic bas­ket – from pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence I can tell you that this prac­tice is strongly frowned upon.



Walmart - 10 Places To Avoid On A First Date

Wal-Mart offers many things for many peo­ple – food, cloth­ing, auto parts, toys – but that offer­ing comes at a price, a price that you and your date might not want to pay.

First are the crowds – if you are in the right (wrong) area the store will be jam-packed with over­weight, yoga-pants-wearing locals who will crush you with their flappy arms if you get between them and their bar­gains. There is noth­ing like see­ing your date dis­ap­pear in a fold of flesh to totally ruin your day.

Also to be con­sid­ered is the secu­rity. You know that if you attempt to shoplift a 72” LCD tele­vi­sion by cram­ming it down your pants you’ll do just fine, but if you try to steal a quick peck on your date’s cheek the Wally Police will come down on you like a ton of frozen chicken wings and will broad­cast your per­ver­sity on the six-o’clock news.

And, the greeters are just creepy.


Strip Club

Strip Club - 10 Places To Avoid On A First Date

Hav­ing been a secu­rity per­son (“bouncer”) in sev­eral strip clubs over the years I can attest to the fact that many cou­ples use these estab­lish­ments for their dates. It does, how­ever, take a cer­tain level of lib­eral lean­ing to truly enjoy such a venue, and the pos­si­ble bad side-effects can be many.

Con­sider – you might be enjoy­ing the up-close charms of a pul­chri­tudi­nous dancer while your stick-thin date sits and fumes, finally dump­ing her mar­garita in your already-occupied lap and storm­ing off through the front door. Even worse – that same dancer and your date might hit it off, leav­ing you to cry in your warm beer.

The vol­ume of the music in strip clubs is high enough to cause con­cus­sions in a rhino, so don’t think you’ll be able to com­mu­ni­cate with your date at any­thing other than a prim­i­tive hand-signal level.

The drinks are over­priced unless you get there at happy hour, in which case they are overly diluted. Some clubs still water down their booze in the orig­i­nal bot­tles, just to save a few bucks.

We won’t even men­tion the VIP rooms …


Home Improve­ment Center

DIY - 10 Places To Avoid On A First Date

Your stereo­typ­i­cal “man’s man” loves noth­ing more than to browse the aisles of the local home improve­ment cen­ter for hours on end. He can spend an hour just com­par­ing thread sizes of lag bolts, and Bud­dha help you if he man­ages to slip into the power tool section.

Aban­don hope, all ye who enter there.

Now if you’re a woman who enjoys these sorts of things as well then have at it, but from my expe­ri­ence I’ve found that less than 0.01% of the female gen­der qual­ify for this cat­e­gory. Most of you will har­rumph and pace the floor while your date is fondling the newest Makita. Not a good first date.

On the plus side you might be able to con­vince lover boy to pick up a few wash­ers for your leaky sink while you’re there.



Library - 10 Places To Avoid On A First Date

Are there even any libraries left in the world?

In my youth I would spend hours among the stacks, dis­cov­er­ing new worlds with every vol­ume I pulled down from the shelves. It could be snow­ing or rain­ing out­side, but there in the warmth and safety of the library I was float­ing in my own lit­tle spe­cial cocoon.

That may seem to be a call to arms to use your local library as a first-date des­ti­na­tion, but think care­fully before you do. First you’ll have to deal with the head librar­ian, who is ALWAYS a 90-year-old lady who loves cats but hates the world. The minute you try to caress the spine and open the cover of your date the librar­ian will be there to shriek her indig­na­tion and eject you into the cold, cruel world.

There’s also that library smell – that musty, dusty aroma that only true bib­lio­philes can appre­ci­ate. Your date is prob­a­bly not one of them.

Finally, the word “over­due”, although a com­mon term in the library world, is a ter­ri­fy­ing one in the realm of dating.


Crack House

Crack House - 10 Places To Avoid On A First Date

Admit­tedly, most of us would never con­sider hold­ing our first date in a place where peo­ple will sell their chil­dren for their next hit, even if we never plan to have chil­dren ourselves.

But for some, the allure of a crack house as a dat­ing loca­tion is quite pow­er­ful. The entry fee is non-existent, it’s fairly quiet and there’s always a spot on the floor you and your date can occupy – no reser­va­tions or wait­ing for tables here.

You and your date, if you do choose to visit your friendly local den of inequity, will be able to take fan­tas­tic jour­neys – although sep­a­rately. That you might not return, because of some silly lit­tle poi­so­nous addi­tive, is just that lit­tle bit of dan­ger so essen­tial to first-date suc­cess. Brush up on your self-defense skills as well, as you can never tell when you’ll be the tar­get of a mugging.


Hos­pi­tal ER

ER - 10 Places To Avoid On A First Date

One of the tele­vi­sion net­works is com­ing out with a new series, Night Shift, wherein the lives of nurses and doc­tors work­ing the grave­yard shift at a hos­pi­tal are pro­filed, with much empha­sis on their love lives. This might encour­age you to think that a hos­pi­tal, espe­cially a hos­pi­tal emer­gency room, is a roman­tic spot for your first date.

I don’t think so.

Unlike the tele­vi­sion por­tray­als, most real-world emer­gency rooms are dull. You might find your­selves sit­ting next to a gun­shot vic­tim for sev­eral hours as they wait for the next avail­able doc­tor. The nurse at the admis­sions desk will keep pes­ter­ing you to fill out forms and list your next of kin. The occa­sional scream or moan will only serve to inter­rupt your get­ting to know your date.

There’s also the small fact that the smell of emer­gency rooms is an instant turn-off. A com­bi­na­tion of anes­thet­ics, clean­ing sup­plies, fear and intim­i­da­tion, the smell will affect you and your date in the same way that a veterinarian’s office instills fear in your dog and cat. You’ll know that no good will come from being there.



So there you have it – ten places you should prob­a­bly avoid on a first date. For most of you, it would be far bet­ter to choose a more con­ven­tional venue – a restau­rant, movie the­ater or even bowl­ing alley.

But for the more warped among my reg­u­lar read­ers, this list may have served not so much as a warn­ing as an inspi­ra­tion. If so, send me an email and let me know how it went – I always enjoy a good first-date story.


You can also find this arti­cle at


13 Things to Remember When Life Sucks

A dear friend of mine recently referred me to a Life­hack arti­cle enti­tled 13 Things to Remem­ber When Life Gets Rough, and thought that I might shed some of my abun­dant Taoist wis­dom upon the arti­cle. Here are my thoughts …

1. What Is, Is

This may have worked for Bud­dha — after all, he was a prince who walked away from a cushy life. Any­one THAT deluded is bound to come up with this kind of wis­dom. “What Is, Is”?!? C’mon, Bhodi — you can do bet­ter than that!

It is your resis­tance to ‘what is’ that causes your suf­fer­ing” … no, it is OTHER PEOPLE that cause my suf­fer­ing. Cor­re­la­tion does not equal cau­sa­tion. If Man had never fought against the way things are, we would not have rocket-ships, cell phones or AstroGlide.

To the two pieces of advice offered in the article -

(1) either accept it and let go of the neg­a­tiv­ity, or (2) make your­self mis­er­able by obsess­ing over it.

- I would add a third -

(3) elim­i­nate the cause of your suffering.

This may entail mov­ing to a new coun­try, drop­ping that annoy­ing Eng­lish 101 class or snuff­ing your neighbor’s constantly-barking Schnau­zer (or, in extremis, your neighbor).

2. It’s Only A Prob­lem If You Think It’s A Problem

The arti­cle states:

If you think some­thing is a prob­lem, then your thoughts and emo­tions will be neg­a­tive. But if you think it’s some­thing you can learn from, then sud­denly, it’s not a prob­lem anymore.

Oh, really?

My thoughts and emo­tions are not nec­es­sar­ily neg­a­tive when faced with a prob­lem. In fact, prob­lems bring out the bet­ter part of me — deter­mi­na­tion, logic, analy­sis, deduc­tion and action. A prob­lem shakes me out of my bor­ing every­day life, rips me away from my ennui and forces me to scram­ble, to think, to live. Why would I react neg­a­tively to that?

It’s only a prob­lem if I try to run away from it.

3. If You Want Things To Change, You Need To Start With Chang­ing Yourself

We like to think that chang­ing our cir­cum­stances will change us. But we have it backwards—we need to change our­selves first before our cir­cum­stances will change.

Totally wrong. Well, almost totally.

I grant that in a few sce­nar­ios the prob­lem lies not in our stars but in our­selves. But in the major­ity of cases we can change our­selves merely by chang­ing our envi­ron­ment. Tell me that your life — your­self — would not change if you were to be some­how whisked away to a beau­ti­ful trop­i­cal island, wherein you were given a 40-room man­sion to live in and a staff of 20 to cater to your every whim, along with a few bil­lion dol­lars to spend any way you wanted.

Yeah, I thought so.

4. There Is No Such Thing As Fail­ure — Only Lean­ing Opportunities

This sounds a lot like the new stan­dards of teach­ing in our pub­lic schools — lit­tle Johnny doesn’t fail, he merely requires indi­vid­u­al­ized atten­tion (at the State’s cost) and dumbed-down tests in order to bring every­one else down to his level. It doesn’t mat­ter if his father aban­doned the fam­ily, his mother is a crack-whore and he “acts out” in class by set­ting his teacher on fire — Johnny isn’t respon­si­ble for any of that, the poor boy! We have to make him feel good about him­self — that will change him from being a fail­ure to being a winner!


The only thing it will do is empower him to act-out in REAL life by shoot­ing up a mall-full of peo­ple. Hey, it’s society’s fault, not his — he needs ther­a­peu­tic counseling!

He’s NOT a fail­ure — he’s only expe­ri­enc­ing a learn­ing opportunity!

The arti­cle goes on to quote Thomas Edison:

I did not fail at invent­ing the light-bulb, I just first found 99 ways that it didn’t work.

Yeah … well-said, con­sid­er­ing that Edi­son was a thief who bul­lied his employ­ees and stole patents from other inven­tors, then claimed them as his own inven­tions. Edison’s “learn­ing opportunity”?

“Hey, this invent­ing shit is hard work — I think I’ll just steal some­one else’s ideas”.

5. If You Don’t Get Some­thing You Want, It Means Some­thing Bet­ter Is Coming

Oh, I really love this one!

Usu­ally, when you look back at your life, you will be able to see why it was actu­ally a good thing that some­thing didn’t work out.

No, that’s called “hind­sight”, and hind­sight is always 20/20 vision. With rose-tinted glasses.

So giv­ing up my $2,000/mn loft in Green­wich Vil­lage was a GOOD thing, because in a few years the rent went up to $7,000/mn, right?

Wrong! I could have sub-let and made $5,000 every month for doing nothing.

It’s good that I didn’t keep going out with that hot Greek/Italian chick whose father was a doc­tor and whose water-front Hampton’s house I would have inher­ited had we stayed together, because it was infi­nitely bet­ter dumpster-diving with the psy­chotic twins from the Lower East Side, right?

Have faith that every­thing works out for the best? Not hardly. MY faith requires proof, and there have been scant amounts of that in my life.

6. Appre­ci­ate The Present Moment

This is start­ing to sound like a Hall­mark Spe­cial Presentation …

“Always some­thing pre­cious about the present moment”, huh?

What about that moment that old lady went through the red light and bent the door of my British sports-car over my legs, then that pre­cious lit­tle fire started under the dash? Or that won­drous time when I was stabbed in my leg by a des­per­ate junkie? Oh, yeah, that was sim­ply pre­cious!

C’mon, guys — let’s face real­ity a lit­tle bit, shall we? Not EVERY moment is worth cel­e­brat­ing. Some things, some events in our lives, we can do with­out. And I’m sorry to con­tra­dict Trace Adkins, but I really don’t miss get­ting Ger­man measles when I was six.

7. Let Go Of Desire

I wasn’t even aware I was hold­ing her …


8. Under­stand And Be Grate­ful For Your Fears

More advice from Dr. Lecter.

Over­com­ing fears just takes prac­tice. Fear is really just an illu­sion. It’s optional.

Okay. So I should sub­merge myself in a bath­tub full of taran­tu­las, because some­how that’s going to con­nect me with the Uni­ver­sal Con­scious­ness? I should be grate­ful for being in that tub, too?!?

I think these lit­tle hom­i­lies are being pre­sented by a sadis­tic evil genius intent on see­ing me humil­i­ate and ter­rify myself.

WHY the hell would I expose myself to things that ter­rify me? I spend a LOT of time avoid­ing lit­ter boxes and peo­ple with eyes that look in two dif­fer­ent direc­tions — why would I know­ingly choose to hang around either one? Out of some sense of karmic learning?

Get a life.


9. Allow Your­self To Expe­ri­ence Joy

I’m get­ting a bit con­fused here — first you tell me to let go of Desire, and now you tell me to expe­ri­ence Joy?

What, are you get­ting kick­backs or some­thing? Desire was MUCH more inter­est­ing — Joy is just a meth-head with delu­sions of grandeur.

I’ll tell you, man … you pimps …


10. Don’t Com­pare Your­self To Other People

* rolling on floor laughing *

All of our for­ma­tive years are spent teach­ing us that we are in com­pe­ti­tion with oth­ers. We are tested and graded in school, we are in com­pe­ti­tion for dat­ing the cap­tain of the cheer­lead­ers, our stress lev­els over­flow when we try to get into the col­lege of our choice, we become lost in the sea of appli­cants for that job opening …

Life — at least, the socially-instilled con­cept of it — is one big Sat­ur­day Night Wrestling Event, and we’re usu­ally the ones on the receiv­ing end of the metal fold­ing chair.

They say to com­pare your­self to those who have it worse than you — way to aim high, guys! You’ll be sure to give it your best effort when you look at a leg­less home­less man and say to your­self “At least I’m not HIM!”.

And you are prob­a­bly way bet­ter look­ing than most people.

Uh-huh. My name is Elmer J. Fudd, mil­lion­aire. I own a man­sion and a yacht … just keep repeat­ing that, Bub­bie, and some­day you might actu­ally believe it.


11. You Are Not A Victim


No one “does” some­thing to you. You are the cre­ator of your own experience.

So when I get hit over the head with a base­ball bat while walk­ing through the wrong part of town, I can tell the para­medics and the cops it was “Nobody” that did it to me?

Even bet­ter -

Aban­don your vic­tim men­tal­ity and become victorious.

That’s the equiv­a­lent of say­ing “Give up your crack habit and become the Pope”. It’s a pretty damned long way from tak­ing respon­si­bil­ity for your actions, and becom­ing “vic­to­ri­ous”, what­ever THAT means.

New Age dri­vel, the lot of it.


12. Things Can — And Do — Change



When we are stuck in a bad sit­u­a­tion, we think that there is no way out. We think noth­ing will ever change. But guess what? It will!

They for­got to add, “Not nec­es­sar­ily for the bet­ter”. You might just go from the pan into the fire — that’s change, right? And the odds of that hap­pen­ing are just about 50/50, at least accord­ing to statisticians.

Accord­ing to peo­ple who have actu­ally lived life and not just browsed through “Joel Olsteen’s Great­est Quotes”, the odds are more like 10:1.

But you do need to take some sort of action for things to change. It won’t mag­i­cally hap­pen all on its own.

This flies directly in the face of my Taoist philo­soph­i­cal beliefs. You do NOT need to take any action — just sit back and watch the change hap­pen. Who are we, and how are we so impor­tant, that the Uni­verse is wait­ing with bated breath for our actions? We are noth­ing, we are less than noth­ing, in the Grand Scheme of Things — what makes us think change depends upon us?

13. Any­thing Is Possible


Okay — let me see you put a Cadil­lac up your nose. Con­vince Sofia Ver­gara to become my love-slave. Have the Publisher’s Clear­ing House van pull up out­side my door with that $7,000-a-week-for-life prize.

Any­thing is pos­si­ble, yes — in the realm of fly­ing uni­corns that shit Skit­tles, perhaps.

Mir­a­cles hap­pen every­day? That brings to mind a quote from Arthur C. Clarke — “Any sufficiently-advanced tech­nol­ogy is indis­tin­guish­able from magic”. Just because you can­not ratio­nally explain some­thing does not make it a miracle.


I under­stand that this arti­cle was prob­a­bly writ­ten to serve as an inspi­ra­tional piece, an opti­mistic guide to life and liv­ing. Unfor­tu­nately (for them) opti­mism has never been my strong point. I see life through my senses, not through some idea of Cos­mic Right­eous­ness and Fair Play.

I left THAT kind of think­ing behind in my sandbox.


Page 1 of 1912345...10...Last »