Seconds Out: Next Gen Watchmaker?

Chocolate milk – check!

Tear down / rebuild vintage – check!

He asked me the names of some of the tools and if I had them. When he realized that I do have them, I realized that I need a better lock on my cabinet!

WOSTEP here he comes !

In Memoriam Norm Macdonald

I woke up this morning to find that comedic Norm Macdonald has died.

Again – this is tough to convey in writing (but I’ll try). As a funny person (or so I’m told) I am always on the lookout for new and original insights to share with people around me. The goal is to say things that no one has said (you hope) and get a laugh from people (you hope). While the insights are as fresh and new as possible – you can’t help being influenced by people who impress you and that you admire.

That list of people consists of names like:

Jackie Gleason
Jerry Lewis
Don Rickles
Robin Williams
Jacky Mason
Mitch Hedberg
Albert Brooks
Steve Wright


… so so many more that I’d love to list (but to get to the point)

Norm Macdonald is/was a huge influence.

A lot of times ‘straight’ people (not about people’s preferences in the romance department – but rather a designation for people who don’t color outside of the lines) who listen to Norm Macdonald jokes don’t find them funny. On paper they aren’t traditionally funny. They are weird and quirky and require a little latitude to stimulate disparate synapses in the users brain to find them funny.

Another aspect to Norm Macdonald’s comedy that defies conventional logic is his timing. Again, on paper, his timing was a train-wreck – his delivery was all pauses and verbal hedges… but when punctuated with a visual cue like a goofy look or an eyebrow gesture or a shrug of the shoulders – hilarious!

One of the things that made Norm a fearless comic was his willingness, perhaps eagerness to bomb or at least TRY to bomb. He’d tell jokes that were not funny. They weren’t meant to be funny – they were verbal padding to his next joke or the next joke after that. Just in the same way a pitcher in baseball will throw several seemingly misguided pitches to a waiting batter, Norm will set-up a performance one pitch at a time until he can finally get you to bite on something slippery (hehehehehe) and then he’s got you.

Watching routine after routine after routine of his I was able to learn that jokes are not just random words arranged for comedic effect: they are in families. Through his work he demonstrated the craft of technical joke writing at its finest. Perhaps the best illustration of this was his quest for the ‘so-called’ perfect joke; a joke where the wind-up and the punchline are virtually identical.

”Julia Roberts told reporters this week that her marriage to Lyle Lovett has been over for some time… The key moment she said came when she realized that SHE was Julian Roberts and that she was married to Lyle Lovett.”

Of course any 5 year-old can be MORE economical than that and just say a word or phrase that is funny in a particular setting. And get laughs… but that’s not a joke and it’s not joke writing. It isn’t striving to perfect a craft.


Another thing I’d like to point out about Norm (as though I knew him!) was his final performance on David Letterman. For his final appearance on the soon to be closed Letterman show he came out and did a a new set. Then to close it out told his favorite LETTERMAN joke (from when DL was a traveling stand-up comic). The most important part about his set wasn’t his material or Dave’s material – it was the fact that he got choked-up telling the final bit. That image has stuck with me.


…I’m not going to tell THAT joke – but instead one of his ‘complex’ jokes.

(I nicked this from The Sun… thanks guys!)

****

From an appearance on Conan O’Brien (another comedic genius!)
****

During his interview with O’Brien, Macdonald tells a joke about a moth who sees a podiatrist.

“What’s the problem?” the podiatrist asks.

“What’s the problem? Where do I begin? I go to work for Gregory Illinivich, and all day long, I work. Honestly, doc, I don’t even know what I’m doing anymore. I don’t even know if Gregory Illinivich knows.

“He only knows that he has power over me, and that seems to bring him happiness. But I don’t know, I wake up in a malaise, and I walk here and there… at night I…I sometimes wake up and I turn to some old lady in my bed that’s on my arm,” the moth says.

The insect adds: “A lady that I once loved, doc. I don’t know where to turn to. My youngest, Alexandria, she fell in the…in the cold of last year. The cold took her down, as it did many of us.

“And my other boy, and this is the hardest pill to swallow, doc. My other boy, Gregarro Ivinalititavitch… I no longer love him.

“As much as it pains me to say, when I look in his eyes, all I see is the same cowardice that I… that I catch when I take a glimpse of my own face in the mirror.”

The moth continues: “If only I wasn’t such a coward, then perhaps…perhaps I could bring myself to reach over to that cocked and loaded gun that lays on the bedside behind me and ends this hellish facade once and for all.

“Doc, sometimes I feel like a spider, even though I’m a moth, just barely hanging on to my web with an everlasting fire underneath me. I’m not feeling good.”

And so the doctor says, “Moth, man, you’re troubled. But you should be seeing a psychiatrist. Why on earth did you come here?”

To which the moth replies: “Cause the light was on.”



*****
Norm – you are already missed.

Also Ran… rougher than a wooden bucket

https://youtu.be/RfMFYTLdSjc

There are now 51 followers that I shudder to think look forward to me producing some kind of creative content on a regular basis. That means there is the looming spectre of disappointing people who are waiting. Sometimes the flow of cartoons isn’t that strong. I have a backlog of ideas (expressed as the following picture) but I don’t always “feel” these ideas so I don’t always go with them.

Considering that I don’t actually “DO” anything all day – what AM I doing when I’m not doing this? Well – I’m speculating on currencies and commodities, drafting stories and poems and working on wonky animations like the video posted above.

Don’t Look! New Look! (Sort of)

Mea Culpa: I get bored. Things are clicking along nicely and then I think “what if I start to lace my shoes from the top to the bottom instead of the bottom to the top? (Of course – you can’t get your feet in and out as easily! But it will look strange and cool! And isn’t THAT really what you want? To be strange and cool?) [Warm and familiar???]

I removed “the Jerk” from the header. Partly because I don’t always like to depict myself as a Jerk (but that movie STILL has a huge imprint on me and everything I do). And partly because I wanted something original. A few months back I made a promise to myself to do as much original stuff as possible… original material – of course. Original drawings (hmmmm….well – in due time!) Original fonts! So too with the imagery – original.

When you look to the stars and see the table set for your next communion with a loved one or just look at the ceiling of your local S’Bucks

I met my wife for a tea at S’Bucks. Yes – we went to a coffee shop to order tea – EVIL isn’t it? I put my phone down on the table and saw the reflection of the lights and that RGB diffusion of light from one of the bulbs.

Take a photo of an image on a phone with another phone.

…slap some primitive editing tools on the image

… move the faders back and forth like an expert (full disclosure – I am NOT an expert. I’m not even smart enough to be a novice!)

And voila! “Starlight Communion” was born. Looks weird and celestial – but it is really a reverse image of a bunch of cylindrical plexiglass tubes of varying lengths handing from the ceiling.

One of these days I’ll be smart enough to post my resume to this site so people can have a laugh (or a scream).

Sorry to drop in unannounced

Sorry to drop in unannounced

But this JUST popped into my head and I typed it as it came to me.

***

Emissaries of Nature

Man is pitiable but cute – so much scarcer than the ants.

They move terrain to harness winds

To create their fruited plains

To create their monuments

To congratulate themselves

For thousands of years of craft logic and skill

…you are no match for natures passionless emissaries

They work a tireless feat to reclaim all the bounty of her womb

Through Fire

Through Wind

Through Rain

And through the shifting of the Land

Each has it’s own logic and skill – unknown to Man

Moving from High to Low in every case

To cleanse the char of fire

To redirect the mighty winds

To force water through a valley

Where none has ever been seen.

To force a valley onto land

Where none has ever been seen.

***

You harvest timber from the skin of the land

To build small features there in which to dwell

I send fire to burn it to the ground

And till its meat back into the land.

You build your buildings and your boats

In the shadows of ‘thousand year’ rains

I send rain for 10 – 10,000 years

And suck your trinkets into my belly.

What man can build

Wind can deflate

From a parking sign to a tower

And if the wind can’t finish its job

The plates from underneath rift open

And swallow the entire lot WHOLE back to my furnace.

Men ARE clever. They do the best they can with what they have.

They need to rejoice in their victories

But pay heed to my passionless flow

For even the Gods of their logic and skill

On their final day of reckoning

Call on WHO to do their work?

The Fire

The Water

The Wind

And the shifting of the Land.

The Smell of Success

(This is a test. No wrong answers)

Joseph “Giuseppe” Grossonaso was born in July 5th, 1978 at Mount Ida Hospital, Brooklyn, New York. Joseph was born via caesarian delivery when it was determined that his head – more specifically his nose- would not pass through the birth canal naturally.

His mother and father both beamed with pride at the sight of their newborn son. He was 8 pounds and 9 ounces, 21 inches long… his nose was 2 pounds even and 3 inches from the tip to his brow ridge.

“This boy will go on to do great things! He will be a success!” his father declared with a tear steaming from each of his eyes and dripping down his own, rather large, facial protrusion.

***

Pepino’s infant and toddler years were unremarkable, save for the inordinate number of times he stubbed his proboscis on things. In some ways it acted like a cat’s whiskers do – warning him of potential intrusions and pointing out where things were. You could say that light hit the tip of his nose a few moments before it made it to his eyes.

Grade school was a painful ordeal for pepino. The other children picked on him constantly and hurled any number of unflattering names at him. In time he became used to the harassment and Pepe was soon able to deflect them with the flinch of his neck.

Pepe would go home sullen and cry. His father and mother both knew it was hard for the boy to go through life with the dorsal fin of a shark drooping off his face. But they knew that was how God made him and that there must be a special reason for him to have such a tremendously huge ‘shnazola’!

When Pepino hit his teenage years he began to develop a curious skill – he could smell things! He could smell very small things – from bizarre distances. He could smell his mother open the salt shaker in the kitchen, all the way from his bedroom… upstairs… with the doors closed… and the windows open!

He trained his nose with certain sniffing exercises too. Placing drops of oils and esters around the house, he was able to make mental maps of where each was and became adept at visualizing each ones placement. These routines progressed to more and more different scents and their placements became more obtuse – but his nose never failed him. Soon he could smell certain flowers in distant bouquets and determine their numbers in relationships to the other flowers in the arrangement. At his grandmother’s funeral he could tell the exact number of ‘Baby’s Breath’ buds in an arrangement of Lillie’s and roses from the porch outside of the funeral home. Everyone who witnessed these olfactory displays was duly impressed.

Pepino trained his nose more still. He got to the point where his friend Rodney could put small drops of chemicals in a bucket of water with a lid on it in the basement and Pepe could detect them from the attic.

THIS was Joseph’s gift and his parents agreed that he needed to follow his nose into the only field that could make use of it…

***

The Perfumeries of Paris

Pepino arrived in Paris and was almost immediately in great demand from all of the perfume makers. He spend his days testing the most subtle and complicated blends of fragrances and soon established himself as the biggest ‘nose’ in the business.

One day Pepino was called into his bosses office – the big man himself: Marcel Provone. (Marcel was no slouch with his beak. It is said that he could estimate, down to the ml the amount of tea in a person’s cup just from the scent from across a room!). “Pepe – we have a special job for you. The boys over in Langley need to have you accompany one of their agents on a dangerous mission. You will be used to determine the authenticity of a scent. You will not know the scent in advance or how it will be used….”

“A new chemical???” Pepino sparked up to ask.

“No, nothing that sophisticated. Apparently, instead of using code words to identify each other – Langley wants the agents to wear scents that fit the profile of their covers and missions. You will sit with the agent – at a distance. You will pick up the scent and tell them. They will tell you when to fall back and come home.”

Pepino was slightly crest fallen that it wouldn’t be more thrilling – but he was proud to have his nose picked.

***

A week later, Pepe met agent Livgren. Livgren set it out for him. The counter agent would wear a specific amount of a specific fragrance on a specific part of the body – he had to tell him what everyone was wearing so as to authenticate that agent’s identity.

They went to the park and took their seats on park benches about 20 meters apart from each other. And they waited.

A man passed. “He’s slathered in ‘Canoe’…tons of it… all over his neck and upper chest!” He announced down his microphone.

“Not it” was the reply through his earpiece.

A woman with a dog passed. “…’L’air du Temps’ and not much of it. And it has gone stale and funny. She’s had it too long and isn’t storing it correctly… probably on a vanity or changing table that is exposed to direct sunlight for perhaps 4 hours a day…”

“Not it” was the call down the earpiece.

Finally, a young woman with a shopping bag walked past. “Hmmmmmmm. ‘Manifesto’ by YSL. Only two drops. And on the right ankle. It is muted by the high denier of her hosiery – but I’m certain of it!”

“Talk to you later Pepe! Head out!”

Joseph returned to his laboratory and never heard from agent Livgren again.

***

Five years later, he received an anonymous parcel at his desk. In it was a small lapel pin shaped like a triangle – labeled: “Becco D’oro”.

His work was done and it was a success.

(Written sometime in December 2014/January 2015)

Snarky Sharks 2: 8mm

Two of my greatest disappointments with movies are:

1) That the greatest ‘think piece’ movie I’ve seen in years is “DRIVE” with Ryan Gosling. Grrrrrr

And

2) That the last horror movie that really freaked me out was “8mm” with Francis Ford Copela’s nephew.

Snarky Sharks 1: The Alan Brady Show!

When I was a little kid, I shared a room with my brother. He was (still is) 6 years older than me so he got to pick what we watched on TV. Consequently I picked-up the first derivative of his warped sense of humor.

To this day Dick Van Dyke means “Burt” to 3/4 of my family. But he still reminds me of the Alan Brady Show.

I love that farting seal

A few years ago (15 or 16) Prada on Sloane Street had a collection of ‘exotic’ coats. The crocodile coat was grotesque … it made the wearer look like some kind of “Silence of the Lambs”/“Crocodile Dundee” smash up.

The seal skin coat was shockingly beautiful. It was also 10,000GBP and at the end of the day I couldn’t get the thought of those poor, sad little seals being bludgeoned to death for the sake of a chic coat. It wasn’t my size anyway.

A song for all seasons

My wife and I were in Singapore, walking through the boutiques on Orchard Road. One of the stores had a large collection of fur coats and jackets.

FUR? It was hotter than Hades outside! And HUMID!

I asked the clerk in the store how many folks come into his shop – when it is so damned hot outside!?

His reply: “Sir, Singaporean women travel.”

‘suppose he was right.

Soft and Warm!

I remember a time I was walking across Copley Square – walking towards Neiman’s … there were a bunch of kids (younger than me = ‘kids’ ) were holding up pictures of foxes and minks that had been riven to shreds to make pelts.

One of them was finishing what appeared to be a Whopper from BK.

They were all chanting “FUR IS CRUEL! FUR IS CRUEL!”

I walked to the one with the burger wrapper in his hand. As he shouted “FUR IS CRUEL” I chimed in by saying “IT’S ALSO SOFT AND WARM!”

Seconds Out: Orange Crush

More from my cabinet of horological wonders. Now delving into my (so-called) cancer watches. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago I did what any normally paranoid person would do: I segregated myself from all of the talismanic objects I could. My t-shirts (how I initially figured out there was a problem in the first place) got put in a bag inside a box and then hidden in a case. All my watches and pens went into hiding …


From that point I decided to get all NEW watches and pens. These would be the ones that I used to see myself through. I bought the first cancer watch the same day as my diagnosis. A black Casio G-Shock… tough enough to be driven over with a tank – surely it can beat cancer. Also, as it is a “Tough Solar” model I see it as being something of an immortal watch. Handy when you’re looking for inspiration to not die.

I bought a box of Uniball pens that I used to take notes and write letters.

… and then there was Orange Nasty. Seiko SKX011-J (J stands for ‘made in Japan’/K stands for made in (Korea????) no: made anyplace OTHER than Japan!).

(Please note the twist-o-flex bracelet that allows me to remove it quickly when I need to do something that doesn’t require the involvement of a watch like chopping mushrooms (for eating).)

It seems like every time I get bored I buy an SKX011-J (actually more like an SKX… the color variants don’t matter. They are the first watch that pop into my head to do stupid stunts with. [Like the time I bought an SXK009-J, 15 min before leaving to go to Vietnam… and had it shipped to my hotel at the beach to see if and or how long it would take to get there. Apparently guaranteed next-day service still means NEXT DAY – even in the world of bored stupid stunts….]

… anyway. I get bored and I buy a watch. I wear it until I’m not bored anymore and then I give them to friends. The first Orange Nasty was purchased while recuperating from my bilateral mastectomy. The operation was a piece of cake! The post-op was a piece of cake. Not being able to move my arms for a week: THAT was tough… spending a month with drainage bulbs – also not very much fun. Going to the hospitals to have swollen effusions drained with a syringe that looked like a ‘Three Stooges’ prop – also not a highlight. Spending every second of the day looking over my shoulder wondering when doom was about to punch me in the face again – 👎 I do not recommend.

Deflect! Deflect! Deflect!

Here comes the FedEx driver with my box. In it was the first Orange Nasty. I wore it until I felt well enough to go home. Then I gave it to the first person to comment on it.

In 2020 I was kind of trapped for a few months (10 1/2 … but who is counting?) so I bought THIS Orange Nasty… same spec. SXK011-J… same seller, in Singapore.

A friend saw a picture of it and commented on it. Seeing as I wasn’t there to give them the watch I did the next best thing; I sent one.

Question: Do you even really “like” watches?

Answer: No – not really. They aggravate me. Mechanical watches are like needy personalities – always calling out for my attention. Asking to be wound. Asking to be worn. Asking for me to charge up the lume pips and then admire them glowing in the dark. “We’ll tell you what time it is when you wake up to pee!”

You’ll keep me awake thinking about all the time that’s ever elapsed and all the time that has yet to come and that will frustrate me even further.

Question: If you don’t like them – why buy so many?

Answer: D’uh – because I’m an addict! Because I’m serially bored and looking for that illusive “simple prop to occupy my mind”. Fortunately I have developed Fatalistic Yoga to clear my mind – it’s way way cheaper too! I’m not nearly as bankrupt as I used to be (fiscally or spiritually).

I’m half crazy

Sorry – I’m a big fan of low-hanging fruit.

Actually – my dad had a theory (I never tested it) that the sweetest fruit is that which the birds and critters go for first. His belief/understanding was that they were looking for sweet foods too and that they had some extra-sensory function that allowed them to hone in on it.

As of today my Minions are both back at school. Please allow me to dig through my notes of the past few months (jumbled,confused and angry as some of them may be) and cultivate a few pearls for y’all to enjoy.

There may be a few breaks in coverage but that’s only because I really don’t like to run with all text. If it were OK to run with all text I’d have enough to flood this page with crap from now until the next Big Bang.

There once was a man in Hong Kong

There once was a man in Hong Kong

Who lived his whole life like a song

When his chorus was finished

His voicing diminished

….Danicoke usually wrote the last lines

For the past few weeks “Danicoke” has been leaving short poems in the guestbooks of the local “Queequeg’s Coffee” branches …

It isn’t getting better

I still feel the same

It hasn’t made things easier

Without someone to blame.

A New Diet!

I’ve been trying a new diet for the last 10-12 days. No food until 6pm. Before that, any time I feel hungry I have a shot of espresso, a small glass of orange juice and then 500ml of water.

So far I haven’t lost any weight. (Why is that?)

As an example: last night just before I was ready to SNAP and start kicking people I had a double whopper, 4 chicken drumsticks, 4 zucchini fritters, 2 large pita breads and 4 tablespoons of hummus.

“Walking side by side with death”

“The devil mocks their every step.”

I’ve never met my neighbors who live across the driveway, but I admire them. They are crazy and they really DGAF!

From time to time they use their 36th floor balcony for different things… it has basketball hoops up most of the time. Some time ago they erected a gigantic SNOW GLOBE on it. Today a mysterious awning appeared (reminds me of the ones that used to hang over the top-tier of seats of the Colosseum in Rome).

Today, while gazing over at the assortment of mish and mash I saw this guy.

YIKES!!!

Dude! STOP.

I’m sure you’re ok. I’m sure that you know what you’re doing and I’m sure that you’re being paid for this… but the juice is NOT worth the squeeze.

50 is just a number

I’m something of a huge fraud. Not just because I spent a large chunk of my life as a fictional character: “Rob Banks”

No. The reason I’m a fraud is because most of the people I interact with think I’m things that I’m not. They think I’m intelligent; I’ve been electrocuted twice. REPHRASE: I electrocuted myself twice.

People think I’m ‘together’… but that’s only because I don’t panic openly nor at the first hint of trouble. The truth is that my blood pressure is so high (how high is it???? (My blood pressure is so high it would kill a giraffe! 🦒)) that I have to actively calm myself down almost constantly otherwise I would surely have had a stroke by now.

People also think I’m successful – probably because I collect a lot of different things. (Funny – no one EVER comments on my collection of yo-yo’s 🪀!)

The grim truth is that I’ve never actually been successful in business. I’ve made a lot of stylish and costly mistakes. I’ve written a lot of “F U” letters to people that came back to bite me on the a$$. I’ve been caught playing checkers at a chess match with money… No lie; I was very good at what I did when I was working – but that was always because I had my private parts in a vise and the handle was making a quarter-turn every half-hour. The only thing I’ve ever been successful at was meeting, falling in love with and marrying the woman of my dreams (by the way, my dearly departed friend introduced me to my wife. So I owe him for that as well.) My marriage, my children and their uniquely twisted natures (the kids, the marriage is traditional in every sense) are the only things I can point to that I have been an active participant in that I feel proud of.

UNTIL TODAY!

Today I was notified that To The Spanner Born (and by proxy Fatalistic Yoga) has/have 50 followers! That means that there are 50 really cool people out there who actually (dare I say) LIKE what I do.

I’d like to take this time to thank each and every one of you… which I could do because there are only 50 of you! And let you all know that you’ve made a HAPPY man very OLD!

“Maybe I’ve forgotten the name and the address of everyone I’ve ever known”

Chat messages: why do I always send messages that I end up regretting? It probably has to do with why I also SAY a lot of things that I regret… and why I DO things that I regret. (Hint: it’s not the ‘it’ it’s the “I”!)

Last month I lost my friend. I still can’t accurately express how terrible this has made me feel…. Instinctively I downloaded all of our chat history from Facebook (as in @FatalisticYoga !) There were in the tens of thousands of messages between us. I then went through and re-read them, harvesting out some of our limericks and poems.

There were a lot of things in those messages that I regretted; things I should have kept to myself instead of just pushing all my chips out onto the table and causing pointless aggravation. Things I SHOULD HAVE said were also painfully obvious; so many junctures where I should have expressed my concern for his health or admiration for his writing.

And more importantly, and regrettably, there was not one single juncture where I ever expressed how much I valued our 40 year friendship. At the time I probably didn’t see it… now I see it.

“The Game Never Ends when your whole world depends on The Turn Of A Friendly Card.”

My name is Rob Banks and I’m addicted to Freecell.

My addiction started 25 years ago when I started working afternoons in a of “so called” pricing specialists; we would pull down all of the end of day holdings for a group of institutional funds and then go about getting prices for all their stocks, bonds, options, futures and credit derivatives. As the Windows 95 based machines would do their work, we would actually sit there and play games.

It started with Minesweeper … the thrill of evading death with every click was just the kind of adrenaline boost we needed to get through the afternoon.

After we were done for the day we’d need to come down. That involved Solitaire. After a while it was too simple, too linear. That’s when someone introduced me to Freecell. There was something about Freecell that appealed to me in a big, big way. It had a relaxing effect, like Solitaire… but there was a component of struggle to it that I also really enjoyed.

In 1997 I took a job writing business plans and doing financial projections for entrepreneurs – that was a Mac based environment.

I went back to jobs in Windows based environments in 1998/1999/2000. The games were locked.

Then another string of Mac based roles in 2000-2004 meant that I was free from playing the game for a long enough period of time to think I was truly past it.

Like all addicts I would get triggered to look for it from time to time… stress at work… environments where people were screaming and swearing at me…or even just times when I wanted to mindlessly struggle against the cruelty of fate. I never indulged though, I would only think about it.

“The Waiting Place” in my Doctor’s office



Fast forward to 2015: I was in my doctor’s office being dealt ANOTHER form of struggle against the cruel hand of fate … I was BRCA 2 positive and had developed at DCIS.

I went home. I went straight to the App Store and looked for it. There it was! I could keep it on my phone and I could play anytime I wanted!

Every game was a chance to write the letters of my destiny on those cards and see if I could defeat destiny. “If I win THIS game something GOOD will happen to me today. If I lose, well… we know the spectrum of outcomes.“

***

When I got my all clear from my surgeon and oncologist I swore that I would not link my destiny to the turn of 52 cards.

…yeah right!

Not only did I continue to play – I reset my game and vowed never to lose again!

As you can see, at the 2,005 moves end of the spectrum there have been some nasty, nasty, nasty (sometimes month-long) struggles.

Only 832 times was I able to win without an undo.

But I have NEVER used a “Hint”. And because you can’t get out of a game to identify which deal number it is without losing, I’ve never been able to find a solution to any game I was in.

That’s approximately 348,000 moves that I made to cheat destiny.

I know that there are supposedly a collection of futile deals in the game – they say they can’t be beaten. Ever single time I hit the “Random Deal” button I know that there’s a chance I’ll get one of those 8 tragic hands out of 52 factorial (that’s a big, big, big number!)…

I’ll make concessions for those games when they come.

NOW you tell me!

Last week I created a fictitious college. Then I advertised on-line classes at this school. The main thrust of the curriculum would be to teach people how to embrace failure to the point that they could get past failing and start succeeding.

I chatted with another friend about this concept and we boiled the entire thesis down to TWO interconnected situations.

1) when you are looking for a job or for money to start a business you are at the mercy of other people… and people are not always naturally merciful. When you need money and they have money you’re basically screwed.

And

2) the best way to prevent ‘needing’ money (D’uh! Everyone NEEDS money! Money to buy love. Money to secure food. Money to attract shelter…) is to control your ‘Jones’ … you don’t need what you don’t spend.

… I wish there were a fake college for me to have gone to 30 years ago! I would have had a much easier time of it hence.

Finding my voice

Sounds funny to say but I found my voice a long time ago. I hit on the right words and tone and phrasing that triggered my brain. Once I found it I kept on using it.

The confusing thing for me is whether or not people ‘hear’ that voice or whether they just read the words. If it’s a very complex thing I’m trying to convey I will generally read it aloud. If when I read it aloud it sounds totally natural then I know it’s “me” and that the people who know me will get it. If I have to put on a funny voice or a hat to carry it off…. Delete delete delete!

Seconds Out

Another slight departure from the normal (abnormal) comedic tone of this page into one of my passions. Not really a passion – more of an obsession; Watches.


From the age of 7 I’ve been interested in watches. I like them because they are things. From the moment I got my very first watch (an Armitron Day’n’Dream watch (I still have it!)) I haven’t been able to fully extricate myself from time.

…what time did I wake up?

… what time did I go to bed?

…how long did it take me to brush my teeth?

…when am I supposed to be in court?

Watches and time have been suffused into the make-up of everything I do. (Why do you think these posts always come out at 5:55am???) And the abstraction of time itself is a constant feature of my wandering mind (much more on this later in later posts.)

R-Cubed:

Around the time I was graduating from college watches took on a new meaning: status symbols. I was interning for a guy who was also a fanatic about watches… but he was much more successful than I was at the time, so his watches were much, much, MUCH nicer. He explained to me that when he sits down at a conference room table with people he doesn’t know, his watch (Swiss), his suit (British) and his shoes (Italian) are subtle indications to his perspective clients that they are in the company of a person who knows the world… someone at their level and capable of understanding where they are on the arc of life.

R^3 (we’ll call him that for now) actually encouraged me to wear watches that represented things I wanted people to know about myself and not to be shy to have a nice watch because it told people things that my resume couldn’t.

Fast forward a decade and a bit and I’m sitting in a conference room with a guy… we’ll call him Mr. Lacrosse. He took a look at the bottom of my resume to find a little blurb about how I collect mechanical watches. “What kind of watch are you wearing today?” (It was a 70’s era, blue/black Seiko Bull-head chronograph). He asked how much I paid for it. (It was $250.00 from an online dealer in Florida.) Yeah – he was not so impressed with what I was depicting about myself. To him it seemed completely frivolous to own a watch so expensive (glad I didn’t wear my Rolex that day!) and proceeded to explain to me that anyone who wore a watch more expensive than his Timex was a show-off and a loser and not to be trusted and never going to work for his company.

R^3 was still right. The watch I wore that day acted like a ‘filter’… it filtered OUT ascetic Mr Lacrosse with his well defined and exclusively self-reinforced world-view. I never could have been happy there; he had no philosophy, he had an opinion. He had no desire expand what he thought, only the authority to surround himself with people who thought like him.

I’m not saying that you need to have an expensive watch or know the difference between a balance wheel and a date wheel to be a friend. Hardly. But if you’re dead-set against them we may not be able to hang.

The Spirit of America!

Here we see one of my so-called “tool” watches. Michael Kobold is a guy who has been fascinated with making watches for the past few decades and had his own spin on the process. He wanted to bring watchmaking BACK to America. The Spirit of America was his tribute to those who fell on 9-11. The markers at 12 o’clock represent the Twin Towers. This watch, the brand and even this model are a perfect metaphor for America itself: parts and processes cobbled together from the four corners of the globe but proudly assembled in (of all places) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.



This one was custom ordered: the typical model is manual winding with the winding-crown at 8 o’clock. That really perturbed me so I asked if I could have mine with the crown at 3 o’clock… Ta-dah!

P.S.

My photography sucks (please note the carefully placed lint and how all of the swirlies and scratches on the case of the watch are highlighted). There are folks (I know them) all they do is photograph watches. They are artists. I’m NOT an artist when I use a camera. I’m a GREAT director of photography but when I actually have to ‘shoot’ the images things go terribly wrong. I used to write pieces for an online watch journal… it was a running joke (for me anyway) that I always had to use stock photography because the images I took were bizarre and unusable.

P.P.S.

The center pin of the buckle has a subtle message for Mr Lacrosse. Enjoy you smug, sanctimonious, egotistical (wait wait wait – who are we talking about here??? Him or you???)…. I digress.

Arrested Development

I had a therapist break-down in tears while telling me that he was a compulsive gambler who had lost everything betting on college basketball games.

I was polite. I was concerned for him. I also did wonder how this was going to impact my wanting to jam my umbrella into the wheels of people passing by me on their bicycles… 🌂 🚴

I guess that was his turn to speak.

Car-tharsis

I had one doctor tell me that my brain was like the engine of a high-power sports car; capable of doing a lot of incredible things quickly, but not really that good for sitting in traffic.

Eventually the metaphor grew to encompass the need for specialized service to keep all the cylinders firing in the correct sequence.

Towards the end it was all about how if I took it for service anywhere else I’d prove my mother right by voiding my warranty and end up dying in a fiery crash that sent me straight to hell!

… oh well.

“All we need is just the sun in the sky, and the hope of the summer to come (and the meaning of love” (google it…)

The jokes I never can tell

There are jokes that I can never tell

Not to another living soul

Scenes of funny things and quips

My weary eyes behold

Bikes in ramparts on a street

A dentist with no teeth

But without a soul to share them with

Their humor is no relief

The summer never came

The summer never came and I never fell back in love

All I saw was heat and haze and grime

Not a warm breeze to remind me of a song

Not a ray of sunlight to show me the way

444 days of rain

After 444 days of dark

The constant feeling of looking for a lost set of keys

…to a house where I don’t live

On a street that’s one way in both directions and covered in ice.

Stripping the wax off an old broken car

Stripping the paint off of an old broken car

Reveals a more old and more broken car

It’s luster once shined in the glint of the sun

Now storm clouds diffuse the light and point out all its terrible scars

Too old and too tattered for a trip to the store

Too washed out and faded to make a good impression

Weathered and leaking all tires need filling

But the looks of disgust say the driver’s not willing

To push it out in the driveway and plan a quick brighten

But even if it looked good – there’s no gas in the tank

The dulling of paint and the cracking of fenders

are just a facade now for the way of the world and a broken man

Sneer phishing

To me the only thing I hate worse than clicking on a link that brings me to some questionable software that deludes me into thinking it will be easy to blog my cartoons to the world (and achieve acceptance and fame and glory and international acclaim…sigh) is getting a message from a friend that is clearly engineered for me to say something falsely complimentary.

While I was waiting…

Is there anything more frustrating than sending a message to someone – or perhaps worse: asking a question – and NOT getting an answer right away?

Then when the response to your pivotal moment comes (hours or days later) you find out that the other person was doing something totally random!

“…oh I went shopping for carrots…”
“…I had to have the muffler on my car recalibrated…”
“…there was a casting call for extras for a dog-food commercial…”

Someday technology will tell us what’s happening on the other end of our conversations. And when it does we’ll probably feel like garbage.

What is really happening on the other end of the phone?

Sometimes when I send a message to a friend and there is a long delay in replying I generally assume that the person has died laughing. Literally died – because what I’ve said is so funny.
…then the little (typing) notification comes on and I know they are ok.

So the question becomes – what is really happening while waiting for a response…?

What is really happening on the other end of the phone?

Sometimes when I send a message to a friend and there is a long delay in replying I generally assume that the person has died laughing. Literally died – because what I’ve said is so funny.
…then the little (typing) notification comes on and I know they are ok.

So the question becomes – what is really happening while waiting for a response…?

Talk about an UNhappy camper

Apparently RJO selected this location to test his (so-called) “gadget” because his parents used to send him and his brother there to camp in the summers of their youth. (And people say that “I” hold a grudge!)

The Manhattan Project and the life of Robert Oppenheimer have long been sources of fascination for me. The peril and the challenge and the race to push theoretical physics out past its comfort zone.

I doubt that they were able to delude the scientists into thinking that this was a theoretical project – so they must have known that the four devices they made (four that I know of) would be put to use. What a terrible thought; to achieve the pinnacle of your life’s work and have it immediately and eternally linked to two devastating events.

Were the Bombs needed to end the war in the Pacific theater? Probably. Was there another way to achieve the same outcome? Yes – but not without killing millions more people. It was a rotten conundrum to wrestle with then and it is still a rotten conundrum now.

Perhaps if we are all lucky Einstein will be wrong; the next major wars will not be fought with atomic weapons or sticks and stones, but rather internet browsers and hacked credit card accounts instead.

Let’s hope that for our children.