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Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

The San Francisco Chronicle carried an article recently about a noted pick-up artist who will, for a thousand dollars, reveal his techniques on how to pickup women.

The attendees were described generally as handsome, some with money, a few just coming out of relationships, but all lacking the confidence needed in today’s competitive pickup market. Personally, I fail to grasp the concept of a handsome rich guy who lacks confidence.

Be that as it may, I sincerely hope they all gained an appreciation of the latest pick-up techniques and successfully used them. I honestly pray their investment pays dividends in the future in case any of them weren’t immediately successful following the completion of the seminar and lab time in various bars along Geary.

But for those who haven’t scored and for those who couldn’t afford 10 C-Notes, I have some follow-on advice that may help.

First of all, if your target covey is usually found in bars and other watering holes, never make an appearance early in the evening. You may need a little advance reconnaissance to establish an appropriate arrival time, which may take as many as three visits. Eventually, however, you will sense the time when everyone in the bar is drunker than a skunk. The proper timing will reduce or eliminate your competition because most if not all habitués will be in the end stages of inebriation. It just stands to reason that a sober man (you) will have an edge over a mumbling, glazed-eyed, incoherent, gaseous son of a billionaire Nob Hill scion. Moreover, it’s easier to hook up with an inebriated woman than a sober one.

But where’s the challenge? It seems to me that a red-blooded American male would find the conquest of sober women a feat more worthy of his talents. That’s why I am suggesting that all aspiring pickup artists seriously consider expanding the field of operations beyond booze joints. Here is a list of possibilities for you to mull over, along with my observations.

The romance section of bookstores.
Any bookstore will suffice, although this tactic may not work in specialty stores such as one selling used Army technical manuals. There aren’t many women interested in learning how to dissemble and assemble a .50 caliber machine gun except an occasional jilted wife. In these sorts of stores, you will waste too much time waiting. Increase the possibilities of a connection by browsing Borders, for example. As you browse, keep your head buried in an open book as far as you can bury it while at the same time scanning the activity around you through squinted eyes. When a potential target moves into view, slowly approach her. If she notices you and smiles…well, you get the idea.

Organic food markets
Women who buy organic foods are, as a general rule, healthy, intelligent, moderately well-to-do, and of indeterminate age. They are good looking because they follow a daily regimen of skin care and spa workouts, grooming activities that will largely camouflage those pesky signs of aging. The methodology for a pickup in this arena is twofold. First, dress appropriately. Wear a pair of knee length athletic shorts and a logo-ed athletic shirt. These have definite advantages because they speak of athleticism, which women admire in men, and suggest the possession of a college degree, a definite plus in today’s relationship market. Second, fill a shopping cart half full of organic goods selected at random and simply browse the isles. Sooner or later, you’ll catch the eye of a beautiful blonde cougar.

A university research library
These days, institutions of higher learning are heavily populated with women who have returned to school seeking skills appropriate to the21st Century job market. The number of female master’s and doctoral candidates has skyrocketed. And, as anyone who is familiar with the process for acquiring an advanced degree knows, several 40-page research papers as well as a 300-page dissertation are required for the successful completion of the program. That means many women virtually live in a graduate library. You don’t have to be a candidate to approach one of these women. Merely dress in a manner commensurate with today’s young executive and present yourself as a recruiter for a large company. Hand a likely target a business card and engage her in conversation about her skills and future plans. Of course, if you score, your lie may catch up with you sooner rather than later. But, then, that’s one of the hazards of lying to a woman, even an inebriated one.

I believe these three examples of alternate pick up locations will suffice for the time being. For now, let me close with these words of wisdom.

To begin with, consider very seriously the possibility of an entirely new pick up approach currently under study in a research lab in a top secret location near Las Vegas. Here’s how it works.

Dress neatly, walk into your selected arena with a pleasant look on your face, and go about your business.  When a woman catches your eye, smile and merely say, “Hi,” or “Good morning.” If she’s interested, she’ll take it from there. After all, why do you think women are out and around in the middle of the morning? Chances are, they are embarked on the same mission you are on.

Finally, studies have consistently proven that women are the real selectors. They select the man they want to pick them up. Women have said over and over that the juvenile approaches employed by men are actually turn offs. Men, you will improve your chances immeasurably by just being yourself. Women are, after all smarter than men and more perceptive. Give them credit. Save a thousand dollars.

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I saw Elvis Presley yesterday. At the Coco Palms Hotel on the Island of Kauai. That’s where the wedding scene at the conclusion of the 1961 movie Blue Hawaii was filmed.

My wife and I stayed at the Coco Palms for three days once upon a time. We weren’t there on a romantic sojourn. I happened to have a business conference in the Coco Palms and we decided that we’d spend some time looking around the island when no conference sessions were scheduled.

At check in, we were given a room on the second floor overlooking a moat and a grove of coconut palms. At first, I didn’t make a connection between the moat and the movie. I did mention to my wife that the place seemed oddly familiar, although I couldn’t imagine how I might have thought so. This was our first visit to Kauai and it was more than thirty-years after the movie was filmed.

I continued to worry about the moat’s familiarity until just by chance I opened a desk drawer beside the bed and saw a postcard with a picture of Elvis and his bride on a (for lack of a better description) moat boat surrounded by the wedding party, all dressed in the baroque wedding splendor of the times.

Fast forward to yesterday when the air and radio waves saturated us with stories about Elvis’s 75th birthday accompanied by many of his greatest musical hits. I had an immediate flashback to Elvis standing regally next to his soon-to-be-bride with his rendition of the Hawaiian Wedding Song playing as the moat boat glided softly to the end of the moat where the two embraced.

This may well have been one of the more romantic moments in film history. Certainly, it made the Hawaiian Wedding Song one of the more popular songs at weddings in Hawaii and beyond. And in my mind, it reinforced my perception of Elvis as one of the best singers of romantic ballads in American popular music. He may have been the King of Rock and Roll but the versatility of his voice was something to marvel at, and in no song was that versatility illustrated more prominently than in the Hawaiian Wedding Song.

I like Can’t Help Falling in Love (With You), too, which I used to sing in my raspy, atonal, tuneless voice to my wife.

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Around this time of the year, I begin to think about the blogs that I read regularly and boil them down to a select group that I call My 10 Favorite Blogs. Except this year, try as hard as I could, I’ve only been able to come up with My 5 Favorite Blogs. How come? When I began blogging  a couple of years ago, the blogosphere was overloaded with blogs, and for some reason, I seemed to like all of them, or many of them anyway. Everything was so new. What a relief from the sterile reporting and analysis of the mainstream media. Picking my favorite ten was easy then. Almost everything I read was at the top of my daily reading list. As a last resort, when the time rolled around for my Top 10 list, I arranged them alphabetically and lopped off all of those below the first ten. Mechanical but functional.

This year my selection process isn’t going along as smoothly as it used to. I’m puzzled. Has the number of blogs decreased? I don’t think so. In the Bay area alone, there must be several hundred, maybe a thousand. If you don’t believe me, check out CBS5’s Eye on Blogs, the brainchild of Britney Gilbert. She’s compiled a list of Bay Area Blogs complete with links to each of them. Quite an accomplishment.

What about quality? In my judgment, the blogs I check regularly are well-written, topical, and timely. So, there must be another variable to explain my difficulty in selecting ten blogs that I like above all others.

After thinking about it for a minute or two, I’ve concluded that the problem is me. Over time, my interests have shifted. For one thing, I’m not into politics the way I used to be. Maybe I need another election or a scandal to pump me up. Nah. Scandals are so commonplace these days, they’re kind of like clouds of gnats circling around my ears.

I think my declining interest in politics began when I started blogging on Open Salon. The variety of topics and styles of writing that I encountered there led me to think about wider more varied fields of interest as topics for my own blog.

And that’s how it stands at the moment. I have found writers and bloggers beyond my original boundaries. And from my newly-found peers, I’ve compiled my list of a very few favorites, writers who rise above the crowd. Here they are.

·       The Ax Files heads my list this year. I stumbled across the author a long time ago and was struck by her originality. Her name is Alexandra Jones, and she has a captivating way with words combined with a facility in observation and interpretation that can lead you to think you are there with her if you let your imagination go. You won’t be disappointed if you check out her essays.

·       The Renaissance Lady is a prolific author and the repository of a volume of information equal to that in many libraries. I became aware of her blog on Open Saloon and quickly added her to my Favorites list. Her interests are eclectic, ranging from politics to a casita inhabited by spirits in New Mexico.  She writes fascinating material with originality and passion.

·       The Fog City Journal is an online newspaper rather than a blog, but if it were a blog, it would rate with the best. Publisher Luke Thomas is a world class photographer who captures a variety of activities in San Francisco that he uses to good effect throughout the publication. Add to that a stable of top writers and analysts and you have an A-One site.

·       CBS5 Eye on Blogs isn’t, strictly speaking, a blog but a compendium of Bay Area blogs with commentaries by the site’s mastermind, Britney Gilbert. She’s a product of Tennessee where she operated a similar site for a television station in Nashville. Luckily, her talents caught the eye of someone at CBS5 and now she applies her talents to Baghdad by the Bay, as Herb Caen called it. Good for Ess Fff.

·       Jeannie Watt’s Blog on eHarlequin is my latest favorite. Jeannie is a writer of romance novels set in the modern West, primarily Nevada. A product of Nevada’s Cowboy Country, she writes about cowboys most of the time, but she has touched on the ordinary people of small town Nevada in a few of her novels with marked success. I am including Jeannie Watt in my list for a special reason. I have never been a reader of romance stories. I stumbled across one of her books in the bottom row of a book rack in a supermarket one day, thinking it was a story about cowboys. And it was. But it also was woven around a hot romance between a cowpoke and a teacher, which made for a charming story. Jeannie’s descriptions of ranch and cowboy life were so realistic that I became enthralled with her writings. In her blog, she talks about her own life in a small ranching community as well as about the business of writing. She has many fascinating things to say and that’s why she’s the only writer of romances whose works I read.

Okay, that’s my truncated list of favorite blogs for this year. I’m publishing the list well before the New Year because I’ll be on an extended vacation shortly and won’t return until sometime in 2010.  I’ll undoubtedly be enjoying my family more than I enjoy blogging.

But, I’ll be back.

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I’ve encountered a writer’s block of unparalleled density. I’ve been chipping at it in my mind for about a month without a great deal of effect. A friend of mine once observed, “We can saw off the leg of an elephant with the wings of butterflies if we saw long enough.” I might add that other variables come into play, such as the cooperation of the elephant, but my friend wasn’t speaking literally. He was talking about persistence. We can do just about anything within reason if we stick to it.

That’s what I am doing at this instant, trying my doggoned best to initiate some persistence by writing a few random thoughts. For instance, I have this feeling that the so-called Balloon Boy hoax is a hoax all right, but it isn’t a hoax perpetrated by the Heene family. Rather a mainstream media that lives on sensationalism combined with a sheriff who seems rather oddly discordant to me equals a hoax in my mind. These feelings are difficult to explain, and I may be wrong entirely but that remains to be seen.

Cougar is another code word that seems to have captured the media’s attention. I am not certain that the average American cares whether older women pursue younger men or not. Of course a few hidebound old relics of the 20th Century may be stuck in the mores of a distant age when sex for men was okay but unacceptable when women wandered into male territory. I’ve often wondered where these licentious old men got their sex, considering that women were condemned to hell for merely thinking about it. The current interest in women as the aggressors seems to have had its origins among the media when ABC aired a new show called “Cougar Town” starring Courtney Cox as a 40-plus divorcee with a penchant for wrinkle free studs. Courtney is actually 40-plusherself and let me tell you, she has a body like a 25-year old woman in the prime of sexual attractiveness. I think ABC has a hit, although I don’t particularly care for the show. I just watch it in the interests of journalistic curiosity.

The preceding is about all I can think of at the moment. I’m probably entering a change of life. I’m in the midst of a couple of cataract operations, and if nothing goes wrong, I will leave the world of the partially blind and enter the arena of the seeing. I am thinking that Courteney Cox will look even better in a couple of weeks.

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In ABC’s new Wednesday evening Fall offering, “Cougar Town,” Courteney Cox plays a recently-divorced forty-something who decides to hit the jungle trail. Almost before we can say “sex” she latches onto a handsome stud and hauls him off to her pad.

That’s it. That’s the whole story encapsulated in the 30-minute pilot. Will this show last? Only if the audience likes the odd mix of sex between young and old with no apparent purpose other than watching Courteney under an undulating sheet with a new cookie-cutter stud every week

Don’t get me wrong. Forty-five year old Courteney is built like the proverbial outhouse. Either that or she had a hell of a body double and a pixel mechanic capable of placing Courteney’s head atop the body of the body double.

On balance, however, and after a little logical reflection, I’m willing to give Courteney the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the sterling condition of her aging bod. On a scale of one to ten, she deserves an eight in my playbook.

The problem in the pilot wasn’t her physical shape but her overacting. The word seems an apt summarization of her gesturing and other nonverbal histrionics, which might bring her stardom if silent films are resurrected.

Pending that unlikely occurrence, however, she might profit from observing real cougars in action. As a civic-minded critic, I’m offering a link to the hottest cougar hangouts in San Francisco.

And if Courteney needs a guide, my services are available free of charge. In fact, I can be cougar-ed myself. I’m in the Yellow Pages under Cougar Treks.

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The day before yesterday marked 30 days, one month, since her spirit soared to the heavens where she watches over us as she watched so many years on Earth. She is pain free now, and for that, we are grateful. Her last months were difficult for her.

When she became bedridden, I was her sole caregiver. My morning routine began around 5 a.m. with a shower, followed by a trip to the kitchen to brew her morning coffee.

While the coffee was heating, I put a couple of pieces of cinnamon toast in the toaster and opened a packet of instant oatmeal, the kind you empty in a bowl and add hot water.

By the time everything was ready, she would be awake. I’d ask her if she wanted her breakfast in bed or in her favorite chair. Although she preferred to remain in bed most of the time, she occasionally had the strength to sit upright and watch television while she ate. I always monitored her closely, however, for signs of pain in her face. I knew her every nuance and at the first hint of pain, I quickly moved her to the bed before the pain took over.

If the pain won, she would moan, and as quickly as I could, I would give her a prescribed dose of Vicodin, a pain medication that didn’t always dull the pain. Even if the medication worked, about 40 minutes would pass before it took hold.

In those 40 minutes, I was helpless. I stroked her brow and forehead and whispered to her, hoping she took some solace from my touch and voice.

And then, if and when the medication worked, she would become quiet and still and sleep for about an hour, waking with the smile that always melted my heart.

Occasionally, after she woke, she would be in high spirits and talk about walking around our favorite shopping mall. When her euphoria first occurred and she talked about walking, I didn’t understand what was happening. I reminded her, rather bluntly, “But you can’t walk.”

At my words, her face lost its glow. She sank back in her bed and just stared at the ceiling. Only later did I understand that she had forgotten that she couldn’t walk. After that, I always said something like, “Okay, let’s go,” or “When would you like to go?” She soon forgot and usually fell asleep.

At home, she always received immediate attention from me. In the hospital, it wasn’t unusual for a nurse to take thirty minutes to an hour to respond.  When I complained to the staff doctor, he listened sympathetically and said, “I understand your frustrations. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be in the hospital, either.” I decided then that she would remain with me at home no matter how hard that might make it for me.

When I wasn’t attending to her needs, I worked around the house, washing dishes and clothes, cleaning, and doing the things she had done for us for so many years. I learned the truth of the old adage, “A woman’s work is never done.”

And, yes, I grew physically tired, so tired that on occasion I would lay beside her in the bed with a crossword puzzle in hand. More often than not, my eyes would droop and my pen would fall on my shirt, leaving ink stains on it. I always worked crossword puzzles with a pen because it forced me to get it right the first time.

When she seemed to be especially down, I would lay beside her with her hands in mine and talk to her, trying to reassure her, whispering how much I loved her and how I would gladly give her my strength. She would often grasp my hands and squeeze them as hard as she could, as if by easing her grip I might leave her.

But I knew in my heart that I would never leave her. She had given her heart and soul to her family. Without her, our lives would have been empty and desolate. She demonstrated her love in so many ways small and large, from the placement of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the counter for our daughters when they returned from school to telling them later in life that the gifts on special occasions were my idea when in truth, they were hers.

Ever shy and self-effacing, she rarely showed her emotions in public. When a daughter graduated or married or when one left home to begin her own family, she would remain composed through the ceremonies only to cry alone in the shower later. We all knew her habits and they endeared her to us. We knew her composure in public was a signal to us that we must remain strong.

For the most part, we followed her guidance. But when she left us, we cried uncontrollably. We weren’t strong. But I think she understood.

I often wondered and still do if she knew her overpowering effect on us and how much we loved her in life and always will.

We talk now about monthly anniversaries, but before we realize it, months will become years. Even so, her memory will be fresh within us. We will always love her with all of our heart and soul.

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As a youngster, I thought nothing of moving from one place to another. In fact, I used to describe my itchiness as an overpowering desire “to be where I ain’t.” Any excuse was sufficient as a reason to head for new pastures, or to return to old ones, as the itch struck.

My wanderlust didn’t stop when we married. Not immediately anyway. Let me count the times I uprooted children from playmates and wife from a settled existence and her circle of friends: Oakland CA to San Rafael; San Rafael to Petaluma; Petaluma to Riverside; Riverside to Honolulu; Honolulu to Tracy CA; Tracy to Honolulu.

If my math is correct and my memory intact, that’s six times in about four years, not a large number, but those long-distance moves weren’t the whole story. Once we had settled in a new town, it wasn’t unusual for me to move from house to house on a whim.

But that still isn’t the whole story. I had a traveling job. It wasn’t unusual for me to spend 60 days at a whack in a single foreign country and then fly directly to another country for 30 days before returning home.

My life would have been wonderful for a single guy or gal, but when you’re married with children, complications can arise. Like the day I called home from the Philippines hoping for a nice chat with my wife only to be met by a breathless daughter who said without preamble, “Dad, I quit college.” She later finished, but that short sentence almost gave me a heart attack and forced me to reexamine my lifestyle.

I gave up traveling and moving around, but I failed miserably when it came to dreaming and talking. If I casually mentioned another location, my family would become agitated. They’d mill around, and one of the girls would say something like, “Mom, Dad wants to move!”

The fear in them was there for anyone to see, but I didn’t. I think the turning point came when, after one of my rambling monologue about “new pastures,” a daughter asked plaintively, “What about me,” obviously anxious about the possibility we would leave her behind.

Throughout this period, my wife tolerated my behavior, but she didn’t offer overt criticism. That wasn’t her way. Rather, she continued to work, smiling and pleasant as usual but with an unmistakable coolness until I shut up. She was always very effective when it came to guiding me in the “right” direction.

Over time, the girls left home to establish their own careers and families. My wife and I often talked about finding a nice retirement spot but that’s as far as it went. We were comfortable here and my desire “to be where I ain’t” had faded away.

Then, the unexpected unexpectedly happened. She passed away so suddenly that it absolutely stunned me. At first, I panicked. With the help of two of our daughters and a son in law, we packed up some stuff and headed for the airport, leaving the house under the watchful eye of a police officer friend who lived next door.

In these moments of panic, I had visions of moving permanently but that goal shifted and I decided to spend some time in Tejas, Annapolis, and the Bay Area, with side trips to garden spots like Reno, Lovelock (where my mother lived in another age), and Winnemucca.

But even that plan changed as I found myself wanting with all of my heart to return to the home where all of my memories of her resided. I’ll return, of course, but will I stay or will I once again want “to be where I ain’t?”

I have a hunch that her spirit in the family home is the power that will hold me there until I join her. When that happens, I’ll never again want to be where I ain’t. She planned it that way.

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