Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

The Zoo Story

February 7, 2014
Giraffes are cool.

Giraffes are cool.

Long-range relationships are difficult. As many of you may know, I’m working in San Francisco, while my wife is on our farmette in rural Pennsylvania. The other day we had one of those conversations.

Me: Hi, Honey! I just went to the San Francisco zoo! I saw some penguins there – they are sooooo frickin’ cute! OMGeezers! I just want to pick them up and squeeze the li’l fellers! So how are things on the farm?

Her: It’s 20 degrees out and freezing rain.


Her: We have no power.

Me: Oh.

Her: Fritz* pooped in his water bucket. Again. It’s frozen.


Me: That’s too bad, Honey.  Did I mention that I hugged a giant hairy anteater?

Her: You’re dead to me.

At times like these I find it’s best to not gloat too much about how cool it is here in San Francisco because I have to sleep sometime and she knows where I live. But I will state for the record that the SF Zoo is a fun place and I enjoyed my visit. (Perhaps not as much as I’d enjoy chipping our car out of the ice in PA, but it was a good time.) You should check it out.

Some birds. Presumably fighting over manflesh.

Some birds. Presumably fighting over manflesh.

So with love and sympathy to my poor wife who is suffering through a terrible ice storm back in Pennsylvania, here are some pictures from my trip to the SF Zoo. I’m flying in tomorrow, Honey! Save some ice for me!

I did not like the way these birds were looking at me.

I did not like the way these ostriches were looking at me.

Generally, you only see two types of folks at the zoo: parents with young children, and teenagers**. The kids are either trying to throw themselves into the alligator pit or are rightly terrified of these creatures. Here’s an actual conversation I overheard between a dad and his young son.

Dad: Timmy, do you see the Mccaw? It’s sleeping!

Kid: Yeah, can we please go before it wakes up?

The lad clearly understands the perils of hurled poo.

Gorillas. Doing gorilla stuff.

Gorillas. Doing gorilla stuff.

Rhinos are cool.

Rhinos are cool.

The teenagers are almost universally jerkfaces. The boys have clearly determined that the best way to impress their girlfriends is to act like huge assholes, and the girls are too busy texting to give a shit.

Teenage Boy: (Pointing at a giant anteater, shouts) It’s a dick! A huge, hair dick! Hey Michelle! Look at the huge hairy dick!”

Michelle: God, Brad, shut up! I’m texting that bitch Rachel.

Teenage Boy: Seriously! Check it out! It’s a huge hair dick! A huge, hairy, anteating dick! Don’t you see it? Hey Michelle…!

As a rule, all teenagers should be eaten by tigers.

This tiger's waiting for the teenagers to be hurled in.

This tiger’s waiting for the teenagers to be hurled in.

Penguins. Cute - and delicious!

Penguins. Cute – and delicious!

Penguins are adorable and ridiculous. Presumably they survive because anything that tries to eat them is likely to bust out laughing when they get close.

Aww! Want!

Aww! Want!

A mama grizzly. Probably Palin.

A mama grizzly. Probably Palin.

The Zoo was a blast, and I recommend that everybody go visit. Rent a small child to take with you if you don’t have one of your own: they really appreciate this stuff and through their eyes you will too.

I also got to see the Pacific Ocean, which looked chilly and very wet. There were crazy dudes with surfboards out there waiting for the big one. I watched to see if they caught a wave or got eaten by a giant squid, but nothing happened.  so after about 30 minutes I left. The whole thing was sandy and anticlimactic. But all in all it was a great day and I wish my wife had been here to share it.

Tomorrow I’m off to Pennsylvania to help chip ice and yell at the power company. That should be fun too!

“Hey, Honey! That icicle looks like a  huge dick, doesn’t it? Hey!”


*Fritz the horse. Who did you think it was?

**And rarely, creepy old dudes with cameras.


A Bridge Too Far – My Walk to the Golden Gate

January 27, 2014
Seriously. Say something cynical here. I dare you.

Seriously. Say something cynical here. I dare you.

When engaging in an epic journey – say, walking to the Golden Gate Bridge from your bijou Nob Hill room – it’s best to do no planning whatsoever. Instead, you climb out of bed around 11 am on a Saturday and stumble toward the nearest Starbucks. On the way you vaguely remember that you thought about going to see the Golden Gate Bridge today – and since the Starbucks is in the same general direction as the bridge, what the hell. This is exactly how Bilbo Baggins began his journey in The Hobbit, and that worked out pretty well for everybody involved, did it not?

Nobody goes to the Fisherman’s Wharf Starbucks any more: it’s too crowded*. But I was desperate for caffeine so I elbowed my way in through the cow-like herd of tourists and stood in line for 15 minutes, eventually emerging triumphantly with a cup of coffee and a blueberry scone. This would be my entire sustenance for the upcoming journey (unless there happened to be a noodle shop or burger joint or something along the way, or maybe ice cream).

A tall ship and Alcatraz. Now they're just rubbing it in.

A tall ship and Alcatraz. Now they’re just rubbing it in.

Checking my phone’s Google Maps, I was somewhat taken aback to learn that the Golden Gate Bridge was some 4.5 miles away, plus another half-mile to the middle of the bridge itself. But I was committed, so I followed the trusty blue line west along Bay Street. I marched up a hill, then down a hill, then up another one. I was getting winded, so I sat down on a nearby park bench to finish my coffee and check progress.

By my calculations I had gone about one-and-a-half miles. By Google Maps’ calculations I had done half that. Grumbling like an old dog, I levered myself up and proceeded on my way, snapping pictures and frightening women and small children I met along the way.

As I’ve stated before, San Francisco is goddamned picturesque. I passed steep hills leading down to tall ships anchored in the bay, with Alcatraz squatting off in the distance. There are mysterious stairs leading up to mysterious stucco houses in-between big old Victorian row homes. There are murals on chain drug store fences. There are doggies.

It's January.

It’s January.

And there are joggers. And cyclists, whom you quickly grow to hate with a cold, deadly passion. As you get closer to the Bridge, you enter prime biking/jogging terrain. And because you’re heading toward one of the top 10 coolest objects on the continent, many of the cyclists are tourists, with limited grasp of the rules of the road or common courtesy.

There’s nothing more invitorating than being rammed in the back by a wobbly European mom on a bike.

Me: “Ow.”

Mother: “Gabble, gabble, gabble,” gesticulate wildly.

Daughter: “[Oh God you hit this bald fat guy. I wish I was dead. Why do you always embarrass me? Can we go back to the hotel now?]”

Me: “That’s all right. I’m fine. Please go away now. Thank you.”

Mother: “Gabble, gabble, gabble.” Smile, wave, wobble off.

Daughter: Adjusts earbuds, looks at me as if I’m an insect, follows her mom into the sunset.

Boats. It's January.

Boats. It’s January.

Despite the peril, I was enjoying myself. There was lots to look at, including water, boats, islands in the distance, marinas, the bridge itself, more doggies and tourists. I took many terrible photos and was happily distracted from the increasing pain in my feet.

The area being surprisingly bereft of convenience stores and bars and pizza joints the like, I found a terrifying water fountain to drink from and kept moving. I could see that I was making progress. The bridge was definitely getting bigger, and the tourists more dangerous. Eventually I reached the part of town which had at one time been the Presidio, a big military base which originally defended San Francisco from Japan and Mexico and Canada I guess, but which had recently been abandoned and turned over to the civilians. The area is an odd mixture of construction, shabby old Quonset huts, scrubland, shoreline and sandy parks filled with doggies and huge sculptures by some guy who makes huge sculptures.

The first thing I think when I see this is, "Gosh, what a great place this would be to dump a body." What's wrong with me?!

The first thing I think when I see this is, “Gosh, what a great place this would be to dump a body.” What’s wrong with me?!

The bridge was definitely closer now. In fact you could reasonably say that it was “looming.” Which was good, because I could feel impending blisterage. I wandered down toward the water and around some old military buildings, where I was surprised by a buncha dudes in Civil War-era garb marching purposefully somewhere. They seemed hilariously out of place here, but they were carrying bayonets, so I hooted “huzzah!” respectfully and went on my way.

I climbed up a stairway which led up through some bushy scrub to the entrance to the bridge itself. There were flowers blooming in late January, and things being fragrant, with the water twinkling an alarming distance below me. It was pretty beautiful.


Up close, the Golden Gate Bridge is still frickin’ breathtaking. It’s a beautiful dark red color, and it frames the bay on one side and the Pacific on the other. Geometric shapes and graceful curves soar up into the heavens, and under your feet the whole thing thrums with a mighty thrumminess. Not even the terrible, terrible tourists gone amok on bicycles can ruin the experience. I marched to the middle of the bridge and took a lot of photos of stuff and gawked.  I was on the Bay side of the Bridge (it’s impossible to cross to the Pacific side while you’re on it unless you’re insane) so I got lots of pictures of the city and bay and Alcatraz, but not so many of the Pacific. That’ll have to wait until next time.


By then I had been walking for two-three hours and it was getting late. I turned around and headed the five long miles back home.

I haven’t got much to say about the trip back except “ow.” I saw some cool things and stuff, but it was getting dark and I was kind of busy discovering new places to be sore.


It was a great adventure and I’ll do it again, once these blisters heal. Except maybe the next time there will be a taxi involved. Or I’ll rent a bike and do some damage of my own. Stay classy, San Francisco. I shall return.



*Thanks, Yogi Berra!

Fade to Black Friday

December 2, 2013
Hungry for great holiday deals -- or manflesh?!

Hungry for great holiday deals — or manflesh?!

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and that the Detroit Lion’s victory doesn’t mean that the End Days are here. But if they are, it’s not a moment too soon.

I had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with some extremely kind people who took pity on me because I was far from home in another city and stuff. The meal was tasty and the company was excellent. We had the standard Thanksgiving discussion which ranges from how thankful we are to have friends and family to describing previous exciting holiday visits to the Emergency Room*. Then there was pie.

Fully sated and drowsy, I was loaded with about 15 pounds of leftovers and waddled off to my bijou shared apartment in Chinatown.

Once there I began obsessively surfing Twitter for reports of rioting consumers beating the shit out of each other in WalMarts to get an extra 15% off of a set of Paula Deen holiday muffin tins. They weren’t difficult to find. Happily many of the worst moments were videoed and proudly displayed on You Tube. Here’s a wonderful compilation by G4SportsNews** of the worst of the worst. It’s nine minutes of consumer frenzy hell.

The next morning (by which I mean after waking from my calorie coma at around 1pm) I ambled down to the Macy’s at Union Square, San Francisco, to survey the damage. The entire city was crawling with excited shoppers who I had to ruthlessly say “excuse me” to because they were all texting rather than watching where the hell they were walking, the mooks.

Once at the Square I was appalled to see a huge-ass ugly Macy’s Christmas Tree cone-thing soaring gracelessly into the heavens and wondered how such an abomination could be allowed in a city full of artsy gay guys and gals. While thus distracted I was assaulted in turn by a dude in a plush menorah hat giving out “Jews for Jesus” literature and some poor bastard in an elephant suit peddling some damned thing or t’other. Acting on instinct and adrenaline, I kicked the elephant man in the elephant-nards and hurled the Jewish fellow under a bus and got away in the confusion.

Fact: The dude in this costume is TOTALLY NAKED under his clothing.

Fact: The dude in this costume is TOTALLY NAKED under his clothing.

On the way out I gave a buck to a couple of young people playing classical music on the sidewalk and all of my change to a really smelly dude to get him to go away. This led to a concerted assault by other smelly dudes (who apparently can spot a mark at 500 yards). My holiday spirit totally crushed, I went back home, where I again jumped onto social media.

There I read about Pope Francis’s recent Church mission statement (Evangelii Gaudium), in which he urged the Church to get its hands dirty and to stop obsessing about gay dudes and stuff. (He remains pretty darned opposed to abortion, which is unfortunate but understandable.) He also criticized the West’s obsession with material goods and horridly unequal distribution of wealth.

These guys were good and kinda made me happy I had gone downtown. I gave them a buck.

These guys were good and kinda made me happy I had gone downtown. I gave them a buck.

This cheered me up until I read a few of the many articles (some written by “good Catholics”) calling him a Marxist for his pro-poor, anti-Consumerism stance.  I learned that Francis’ desire for rich people to help the poor was based upon his dubious Leftist background and his weak understanding of economics. Reading on I discovered that Pope Francis was imposed on the Church by an angry God to punish it for its transgressions. In conclusion: screw that guy and pray for his early death.

Gotta wonder what these clowns would say about Jesus if he came back now, don’t you?

By this time I was a broken man. I ate Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner and drank beer and played Minecraft until the wee small hours of the morning, rejoicing in a blocky world of cows, ducks and exploding zombies – and no goddamned holiday shoppers.

So if these are End Days, I hope to hell the End comes before this time next year. If not, I’m gonna ride the next Black Friday out on a beach in Cancun, far from all of them crazy bastards.

I’ll save you a spot.

Minecraft: Here I'm totally ganking the crap out of this skelly while a curious pig watches from across the gulley.

Minecraft: Here I’m totally ganking the crap out of this skelly while a curious pig watches from across the gulley.


*Maybe it’s just me, but in my experience all holiday dinner conversations eventually devolve into graphic descriptions of wounds and/or illnesses suffered at previous dinners.

** Yes, rioting on Black Friday is now a sporting event. It’s like soccer hooliganism in the UK, but with more women. And boy howdy are they vicious.

Talking Turkey

November 27, 2013
Johnathan Swift would be proud!

Best costume EVAR. Johnathan Swift would be proud!

I see that the President pardoned a turkey today. It may be a cute photo-op, but I must say that I find the whole business kind of weird and grotesque. Setting aside Obama’s depressing failure to pardon many actual human people worthy of Executive Clemency, it suggests that the turkeys we’re eating have committed some kind of crime, and that’s why they’ve been slaughtered and sent to market.

If that were true, it would be good if all turkeys were labeled with the crime that got them executed. It might help you make an educated purchasing decision.

“Hmmm. This turkey weighs 14 pounds and stole a Honda CRV. Whereas this one had unnatural relations with an emu. Ew. I’ma go with the car-thief.”

“I wonder if the cannibal turkey is juicier than the insider-trading fowl.”

“Say. How does a turkey ‘corrupt the morals of a minor,’ anyway? Was it a minor turkey, or human? These things make a difference!”

And so forth.

Speaking of turkeys, here’s a tweet I got from the President this morning, which I swear to God I thought was from a parody account:

What the hell is the illo in the middle supposed to be, anyway? A fez? Some Jello? What??

What the hell is the illo in the middle supposed to be, anyway? A fez? Some Jello? What??

I don’t know about you, but if I were the President the last thing I’d want folks discussing over Thanksgiving dinner is the smoking train-wreck that is the ACA rollout. It’s like the Redskins’ defense: some things are just so awful they should not be brought up during the holidays.

I’m thinking that the President’s PR dudes may want to ask Santa for new careers for Christmas.

Anyway, I’m in San Francisco for Thanksgiving, far from my beautiful wife and family in Pennsylvania. It’s totally a bummer, but I have been invited to dinner by some excessively kind friends in the Bay Area. So while I may miss being home with my loved ones, I will still enjoy companionship and pie and cursing the Detroit Lions.

I hope that you are with your family for Thanksgiving, and that your turkey is crime-free and juicy and that nobody brings up Obamacare or the Redskins while you’re eating.

Have a great holiday!

Sex in America

November 2, 2013
History is important.

History owes a lot to Ms. Carol Doda.

I purchased craft materials today and that of course made me think about sex.

It’s not that the crafting materials themselves are particularly sexy: they’re not.* However, the craft store, “Artist & Craftsman,” is a block away from Broadway and Columbus, the naughty heterosexual dude center of San Francisco, and I had to walk through it on my way to and from the store. Early Saturday afternoon isn’t a particularly active time for sexy heterosexual dude establishments anywhere, but all of the topless joints and adult naughty activity centers were open, if not doing much business. The young ladies standing outside the bars did their best to look alluring, but direct sunlight is not their best friend, and mostly they looked bored.

Sidebar: I like that the Condor topless joint is across the street from “City Lights,” the most commie-socialist-union-loving bookstore ever. So I could easily purchase a copy of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital to thumb through while watching naked nude women undulate around a metal pole. This is what makes San Francisco great.

Before you get all up in my face and stuff, let me assure you that I did not actually enter any of the topless joints I passed this afternoon. I confess that I have frequented such places once or twice in my pre-marital days, but since getting hitched a healthy fear of having to explain to my wife embarrassing charges appearing on my credit card after accidentally purchasing some semi-nude naked young lady a $50 glass of fake booze totally outweigh my desire to see random boobs. It’s all part of growing up.

Anyway, I ambled righteously past all of the adult shops and bars and went into a Mexican joint, the “Taqueria Zorro,” for lunch. I had planned try this Indian joint, “Urban Curry,” but this dude on Yelp accused it of not being authentic, so screw that noise: I went Mexican instead. It turned out that I made a wise decision. The food was excellent and dirt-cheap. The chicken tasted like tasty barbecued chicken, and the refritos were clearly cooked in lard. Noms. I’ma head back there soon. They have huevos rancheros, and a huge vat of tomatillo sauce you can just spoon over everything!

I got these images from the Wikipedia entry on strip clubs. Just so you know.

I got these images from the Wikipedia entry on strip clubs. Just so you know.

While eating, I perused Twitter, where I happily learned that the sodomy- and oral-sex-hatin’ GOP candidate for Virginia Governor Ken Cuchinelli is getting his ass whipped in the polls and is going to be totally crushed in the upcoming election. Now perhaps Cuchinelli is losing because he’s a terrible candidate and holds many ultra-conservative beliefs that are reviled by Virginia’s large block of independent voters, but I like to think that a big part of his impending defeat will rest on the simple fact that today Americans of all stripes don’t particularly want some asshat politician telling them what sexual positions they can and cannot attempt in the privacy of their own bedroom. It’s all part of growing up.

I finished my taco salad and strode up the hill and back to my apartment, secure in the knowledge that there still is plenty of sex in America, and much of it is now legal. I’m not sure if Karl Marx would approve, but I bet Alexis de Tocqueville would. Dude was French.


*Except for the “U-Knead It” eraser, that little tramp.

My Big Gay Haircut

October 20, 2013
The F train on Market Street. Constructed in the late '40s, these things are total deathtraps.

The F train on Market Street, near Castro. Constructed in the late ’40s, these things are total deathtraps. Love them!

I want to tell you about my Big Gay Haircut.

Being an indolent bastard separated from my loving wife by a continent, on weekends my natural inclination is to sleep right through them except for the specific minutes when football is on TV. To counter this, I try to invent some kind of adventure for myself that will get my fat ass out of bed at a reasonable hour on Saturday morning. This week I decided to visit the Castro.

The Castro is a neighborhood in San Francisco mostly known for having a shitload of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender folks in it. It was featured in the movie Milk, which is about a famous dude named “Harvey Milk,” the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the US. While on the SF Board of Supervisors Milk helped pass an important gay rights ordinance. He was then murdered by some psycho nutbag who I will not dignify by mentioning his name because fuck that guy.

Anyway, the Castro remains one of the largest gay communities in the US, so I thought I should check it out. At around 10am on Saturday, after securing my heterosexuality by oogling pictures of Alyson Hannigan on Google, I headed out the door. It was a quick ride down Powell Street on an antiquated deathtrap cable-car. Once on Market Street I hopped aboard the antiquated deathtrap electric F train and within mere moments I was in the Castro.

The famous Castro Theate, which I am assured is famous.

The famous Castro Theate, which I am assured is famous.

The neighborhood features wide streets and small, well-kept old Victorian-era houses. Castro Street (the main drag, so to speak) presents a bunch of small souvenir stores, coffee shops, restaurants and a surprising number of places that sell dude’s underpants, mostly teeny-tiny jockey shorts. Which is silly: boxers are totally more comfortable.

There were plenty of gay looking dude-couples ambling about doing gay stuff like shopping and drinking coffee. Also lesbians I suppose, though they could have been sisters or co-workers or pals or chance acquaintances or whatever. There were a lot of cute little dogs, but that’s not necessarily a gay thing: San Francisco is overrun with cute little dogs.

This is cool and all, but where are the ethnic restaurants?

This is cool and all, but where are the ethnic restaurants?

I walked around a bit, looking in shop windows and guarding my virtue. Except for the few doofy stores named things like “The Hand Job” (a nail salon) and “Sausage Factory” (an Italian restaurant), the place was pretty much like any other SF neighborhood, except cleaner and duller. Maybe all the exciting gay stuff doesn’t happen until later in the afternoon or whatever.

Eventually I ran across “Daddy’s,” a barber shop. Getting generally bored with the Castro and needing a haircut anyway, I asked the good-looking barber dude how much for a cut and a beard trim. He said $25. As this was five bucks cheaper than the heterosexual haircut I usually get in SoMa, I sat down.

As he wrapped me in the black shroud, the barber asked me how long, and I said “short,” which is what I always say. Then he asked me if I wanted a “one” or a “two” for my beard. I never know what the hell any of this means, but rather than admit my ignorance, I usually pick the higher number – in this case, “two.” He nodded and began snipping.

Uh. I got nothing.

Uh. I got nothing.

Having removed my glasses, I was unable to enjoy the many artistic photographs of naked nude dudes with great haircuts covering the walls. Instead I occupied myself by eavesdropping on the conversation at the next station, where the barber and his customer were discussing the difficulty of getting a good flattop anywhere in the city. It was acknowledged that Latin men had great flattops, sure, but fat lot of good that did you if you didn’t speak Spanish. You asked them where they got their hair cut, and they put up their hands and said, “no hablo ingles” or whatever. So the barber helpfully taught the patron how to say “Where did you get your haircut?” in Spanish, which I thought was pretty generous under the circumstances.

After that the discussion turned to whether there were any good gay bars in Santa Something-Or-Other down the coast (I forget where). The guy with a flattop said that most had been taken over by heteros, and the one remaining gay bar was frequented exclusively by men who were looking for a quick blowjob before going home to their wives. That’s when I started laughing so hard that the barber almost took my ear off.

Later the barber asked me if I wanted him to trim my eyebrows. I said “no,” but he looked so disappointed that I relented and let him hack away. When he finished, I thanked him, paid up, and ambled on out. It was a good haircut, which I shared via “selfie” on Facebook because everybody I’ve known since high school totally wants to see my new ‘do from the Castro.

This woman follows me everywhere. She whispers things to me. Secret things.

This woman follows me everywhere. She whispers things to me. Secret things.

By this time I was hungry, but I didn’t see any especially interesting-looking restaurants in the neighborhood, so I hopped back on the electric train and rolled down to the farmer’ market at the Ferry Building and bought some cheese.

It had been a good morning, and I had learned many important lessons: first, gay men are huge frickin’ gossips, and second, they’ll give you a nice haircut at reasonable prices. Also rainbow flags are unutterably ugly and I’m shocked that such an artistic community hasn’t come up with a less-hideous symbol. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the Castro seems like a nice enough neighborhood with nice people who happen to be maybe gay or whatever. I’d happily spend time there if they’d get some better ethnic restaurants.

Politics of the Dead

October 12, 2013
Not sure that the young lady in the second row is really in the proper frame of mind. Shame!

I don’t think that the young lady in the second row is addressing the zombie walk with the seriousness it deserves. Shame, Young Lady! Shame!

I want to tell you about this dream I had last night. I was at the store searching desperately for a stylus for my iPad when I realized that I wasn’t wearing any pants. This was ridiculous for a number of reasons: first, I don’t actually own an iPad, and second, iPads don’t use styluses*. So I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.

Anyway, then the zombies attacked, at which point my lack of pants became a lot less important. Luckily I was in a mall, so I just hunkered down until I was woken by screaming German tourists riding the San Francisco trolley down Powell Street outside my window. That’s how most of my dreams end – screaming German tourists on the goddamned trolley outside my window. Bastards.

But I digress. At some point during the dream it occurred to me that zombies are perhaps the worst-designed creatures in the universe, reproduction-wise. Even worse than Lutherans.

Let’s say that you’re a zombie. You’re slow, clumsy, and grossly, amazingly, pathologically stupid, so pretty much the only prey that you’re likely to be able to catch and eat is a human being. Now let’s say that you catch one: then what? You eat ‘em up. Crunch, crunch, aieee, crunch, noms. All that’s left is a sneaker maybe, and perhaps a pair of breast implants if your victim was a Real Housewife. Then you wander off, mindlessly looking for your next meal. You’re full, but you’ve created no new zombies.

So where do little zombies come from? They come from the same source as the zombies’ dinner: humans. To make a new zombie, the mommy or daddy zombie has to find a human dumb or injured enough to bite, but who is then able to get away before getting eaten up.

Further, the potential new zombie also has to avoid being dispatched by a horrified and conflicted human pal, with all the subsequent weeping and hugging of the headless corpse and cursing of God and stuff, not to mention the tiresome “shoot yourself in the brain to avoid becoming a monster” routine that some spoilsport victims engage in.

What a grossly difficult and stupid way to have to survive, bless their little non-beating hearts. George Romero has a lot to answer for.

After mulling this over for a while, BAM! It hit me:

Holy Shit! The Tea Party is Stupider than Zombies!

Let me explain.

So you’re Ted Cruz and his wacky Tea Party brain trust, and you find yourself in a difficult situation:

• We hate Obamacare a lot, and we seriously want it stopped.

• We have been unable to stop it legislatively, and the courts have declared it legal.

• We have not done anything to improve the law we hate so much because we have been too fixated on destroying it in its entirety. Also we’re as dumb as a box of rocks.

• It’s about to go into effect, and once enough uninsured Americans are getting insurance through the ACA, we’re screwed. We’ll never dig it out.

Oh please please please please please make this guy the GOP's next presidential standard-bearer! Please!

Oh please please please please please make this guy the GOP’s standard-bearer in the next presidential election! Pretty please!

That’s bad. So what do you do?

“I’ve got it! Let’s shut down the government! Once the American people begin to suffer then the Democrats will capitulate and agree to delay Obamacare until we can get a legislative majority and destroy it in the next Congress! Then I’ll get elected President! Belly up to the bar, boys! Cheap hookers and whiskey for everybody!” – Ted Cruz

Brilliant, right? But there’s one tiny flaw in Senator Cruz and his squadron of flying monkeys’ master plan: those Americans they’re fucking over to use as leverage against the Democrats? They’re also the electorate.

So that guy whose soldier son is denied a death benefit, Senator? He’s a voter. So is the woman who has been put in the hospital by the salmonella outbreak that the CDC can’t properly follow up on. The family who have to scrap their plans for visiting Yosemite? They contribute to election campaigns.

And – surprise! – they’re not as dumb as you think they are. Lord knows why you mouth-breathers believed that the electorate would blame the Democrats for this debacle, but they know who is at fault. That’s why your poll numbers are plunging faster than a paralyzed African swallow, you morons. You’re eating your own fucking constituency.

And you’re not even fictional, like zombies. You’re just stupid. So knock it off.


*The “no pants” part is a fairly standard predicament for me, dream-wise: my psychiatrist tells me that it’s merely a generalized anxiety traceable to the fact that I regularly forget to put my pants on before going out the door.

Three Songs About Wednesday

October 10, 2013

1. Email, 7:30 pm

To: Company Culinary Department

From: Me

Subject: Tonight’s Dinner


I don’t know who thought it would be cute to do a “Wave Twisters” themed dinner tonight, but I recommend that you do not allow that person near sharp objects until he or she undergoes a full psych evaluation. The food itself was excellent, as usual, but the movie’s unending opening montage of rotting teeth, projected on a 20′ by 20′ screen not ten feet from where I was eating, was not fine. It put me right off my meal.

Seriously dudes, do you not watch these things ahead of time?

I’m eagerly looking forward to your “Shoah” or “Saw III” themed dinner tomorrow night.





2. Telephone Conversation, 8:45 pm

Operator: Thank you for calling the Clipper Card Help Line. How can I assist you?

Me: Howdy. My Clipper Card isn’t reflecting the monthly bus pass I purchased yesterday. I had to pay for my ride home tonight, and I didn’t have any cash on me. I had to walk to an ATM and then wait 30 minutes for the next bus.

Operator: Oh, I’m sorry. At what machine did you purchase the bus pass?

Me: I purchased it online.

Operator: Oh, there it is. I see it now. Sir, it takes three to five days after you make a purchase online before it appears on your card.

Me: Why?

Operator: Because it does.

Me: But you see that I added it right? It’s in the system?

Operator: Yes sir.

Me: Then can’t you just turn it on?

Operator: No sir.

Me: Why not?

Operator: Because it takes three to five days after you make a purchase online before it appears on your card.

Me: Yeah, but WHY?

Operator: Because it does.

Me: All righty then.

Operator: Thank you for calling the Clipper Card Help Line. Would you like to participate in a short automated survey about the quality of our service after this phone call?

Me: Probably not a good idea.

Operator: All righty then. Goodnight.

Me: [Click.]

3. Text Message, 3:45 am

(From wife on farm in Pennsylvania)


OMG PAULIE you didn’t accidentally take the dog’s anti-anxiety medicine, did you?


Dude. I totally need a Big Weekend.

Save me, Tom Petty!

And it’s only Thursday, God help me. Dude. I totally need a big weekend.


Birthday Blues

September 17, 2013
I dunno. This birthday cake is a little too Godfather-looking for my tastes.

I dunno. This birthday cake is a little too Godfather-looking for my tastes. What do you think?

My wife’s birthday is coming up shortly. This is kind of a bummer, because she’s holding down the farm in Pennsylvania while I’m out here in San Francisco earning a buck and walking the mean streets and stuff. I’m coming home in a couple of weeks and we’ll celebrate then, but who wants to be separated from their wife on her birthday? She should have an immediate party plus cocktails.

I’m not going to delve too deeply into this: it will only make me homesick and sniffly. My wife’s a great lady and I’m lucky to have her. She certainly deserves better than the dorky present that I’ll no doubt pick up from some random San Francisco merchant* at the last moment.

I’m a creature of habit. For ten years I’ve been buying my wife’s Christmas and birthday presents at the same six Maryland stores – Smythe Jewelers, Coldwater Creek of Hunt Valley, Barnes and Noble, that one store that’s none of your business, and so forth – and on the whole I’ve gotten good results. My gifts may be hugely predictable, but they’re mostly on-target. Out here, on the other hand, I’m lost. Where the hell do I shop?

I suppose I could bring her a big bowl of ramen from Katana-Ya, or maybe some crab with cellophane noodles from the Slanted Door. Or a hunk of duck from Kam Po Kitchen?  But the TSA bastards would probably confiscate it and eat it. Then they’d do a full cavity search on me because they heard that I just called ‘em “bastards” in the last sentence. Screw you, pals. Get your own damned noodles.

Sadly, it appears that I’ve spent all of my time in San Francisco stuffing my face with Asian food, my shopping excursions limited to supermarkets and that huge-ass downtown Target, neither of which is likely to produce an adequate birthday present for my sweetie. I could go online to Amazon, but that’s dangerous. Along with the present for my wife I usually end up also buying three e-books and a zombie movie on dvd for myself. Then I have some ‘splainin’ to do.

Blowing out the candles may be missing the point here.

Blowing out the candles may be missing the point here.

I could buy my wife some weed, but she doesn’t smoke the stuff. And neither should you. DON’T DO DRUGS, KIDS! Unless you have a legitimate medical condition like cataracts or ennui.

They don’t actually make Rice-a-Roni here, so that’s out too. Damn.

Hmm. Hold on a second. You know, my wife is an avid horsewoman, and she really likes equine-related presents. I wonder if there’s a place in San Francisco where I could get a nice riding crop. Guess I’lI Google it.



Pardon me while I take a long cold shower and erase my browsing history.

Noodles it is. Happy birthday, Honey. I love you and will see you soon!


*If not at the airport. Poor woman. Poor, poor woman.

A Short History of Bicycle Accidents in North America

August 30, 2013

They put a bike-share station right outside my San Francisco office the other day and I’m seriously considering giving it a try. Now it has been reported in the media that I am a portly fifty-something man with back trouble and a fairly large belly scar that makes it painful to bend over. And that is true. Also, it is said that I haven’t been on a bicycle in 35 years. And that is true as well.

But I ask you: should this stop me from following my dream – to totter dangerously down a busy city street on a rented bike, bouncing randomly off of the busses and pedestrians who don’t get out of my way in time, maybe taking a spill and enjoying some of that sweet, sweet Obamacare?

Of course not.

I had many fine adventures on a bike just like this, except with more blood on it.

I had many fine adventures on a bike just like this, except with more blood on it.

I must admit that I have not had the best luck with bicycles in the past. As a kid I had one of them banana-seat bikes with the high handlebars and a cool swooping rear fender made out of the sharpest aluminum known to science. I remember this one time I rode it down a steep driveway and directly into a tree at top speed.* It takes guts to ride your bike down a steep driveway and directly into a tree at top speed, let me tell you. I do not recommend it for the squeamish.

Did I have a bike helmet on? Don’t make me laugh. In those days “child safety” meant smoking only filtered cigarettes.

Later that summer I remember hopping off of the bike in a hurry and neatly slicing a 5-inch gash in my leg on the super-sharp swoopy rear fender, which I didn’t realize until people started complaining about the bloody footprints I was leaving everywhere. This was pretty much the end of that bike, because of mothers.

As a teenager I recall riding a different bike to swimming lessons in Columbia High School, South Orange, NJ**. I had my suit and my towel in a wire basket hanging from the handlebars. Unfortunately, they weren’t in a bag or anything, so over time the towel worked out of the basket, coming in contact with the front wheel’s wire spokes – at which point it became firmly entangled in the wheel, bringing it to an immediate halt.

Sadly, the rest of the bike continued to move.

So, to my great surprise I found myself rising rapidly over the immobile front wheel, flying through the air and doing a magnificent face-plant onto the asphalt.  This was pretty bad. I didn’t die or anything, but I certainly could have.

And if not then, I certainly should have perished when I did the exact same thing again, months later. This second spill was in slo-mo, and I had what felt like an hour*** to curse myself for being a goddamned idiot before the really crunchy and awful impact sped time up again.

Any accident you walk away from - twice - is a good accident.

Any accident you walk away from – twice – is a good accident.

So I was a slow learner as a kid. Sue me. But I sure was bouncy, because I walked away from both incidents unscathed.

On consideration, maybe I should stay away from the bikes. I may be marginally sharper than I was as a child, but I’m sure as hell not half as bouncy. I should probably rent a Vespa instead. Or learn how to ride a motorcycle. What could possibly go wrong?

Anyway, I miss the slo-mo.


* I bet I had a good reason.

** Roar, Cougars, roar!

***Because of relativity.