The Natural

The Natural by Bernard Malamud is a book about hubris, appetite, exceptionalism, and baseball–it doesn’t take a Hardy Brother, or even a close reading to implicate America in the themes and going ons of this novel. And because America has an unbridled appetite, an unchecked hubris, and to a degree because America is exceptional, The Natural is remembered not as it is, a cautionary tale about strength, legacy, and ego, but rather it is remembered as Robert Redford mashing a tater off the lights and riding into the sunset a champion. It is obnoxiously appropriate that we would ignore the somber arc of the novel and celebrate instead the celluloid slugger with the extra terrestrial baseball bat and perfectly hewn jawline. Roy Hobbs as he exists on the page was too ideal an American for us to let him fall from the sky. We could not let his lesson be cautionary–it must be inspirational, we said. It must encourage unfettered confidence and the reckless pursuit of glory and greatness. His story must sell tickets and end happily. And so now it does.

the natural cover.jpeg
The Natural stares down two naturals

America can embrace fallen and flawed heroes. We can overlook Bill Clinton the sex criminal, Charles Lindbergh the infant-son killing eugenicist, and Tom Osborne the republican. We can forgive Mike Vick the dog fighter and John Lennon the wife beater, but we are powerless to forget failure. This nation could not overlook Roy Hobbs the game losing point shaver. Punching out to lose then pennant was too tall a foul up to forgive or forget. A season ending strikeout proved to be one of the few unforgivable transgressions to the collective American consciousness–so we rewrote it. We said to hell with candle wax and bound Roy Hobbs’ wings with titanium alloy and let him fly into the sun and World Series.

redford jawline.jpg

Hobbs as a portrait of our American selfs was too flattering to leave in the hands of Bernard Malamud. And while this man’s version of the story still exists, it exists in a book, where it may as well be on the moon. So Americans instead embrace the rewrite, assuring ourselves we will win and be happy and have sex with Glen Close–we will achieve the American Dream so to speak.

glen close.JPG
Possible symbolism at play in this shot

There is a lot more to this book than its themes. Roy has a problem with women which I cannot presume to unpack. Early on, he gets shot in the gut like a werewolf. The man behind the gun is a woman and she is sexy and dressed immodestly and on a mission to kill all the best athletes in the world. She surely represents something greater than herself, but her place in the American allegory eludes me. If you put a gun to my head and made me guess I’d say she was Walter Cronkite saying the war in Vietnam was unwinnable. But I won’t say that because it adds nothing to anyones understanding of anything.


In The Natural, Roy Hobbs

a) Orders 6 hamburgers at one time

b) Bangs a grandma

c) Gets shot in the gut like a werewolf

d) Hits a homerun off the lights to clinch the pennant



On Ed Harris (An excerpt)

The warrior poet has a gimpy in law, the athlete writer. He writes meterless pieces on the collision of life and sport. He learns lessons that transcend the lines of his field. These lessons seep into his life from the the apartment above him, where his career was left in a bathtub. He learns life and sport don’t form a venn diagram, nor are they concentric circles, or lines that intersect. He learns that life and sport barrel through space and collide inelastically. On impact they reform into one and strike a new heading.

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 10.48.02 AM.pngAfter the collision, all we can do is stand at the chalkboard and calculate entry vectors with Ed Harris. The stakes are high. Our families look on. If our angle is shallow, we skip into space and get lost in the cosmos. If our approach is steep we disintegrate in the atmosphere. A burn will be made–one final midcourse correction before reentry. Ed Harris and I are about to decide the fate of our spacecraft.

Image result for ed harris apollo 13

I left Earth on a moonshot to play Major League Baseball. A routine cryo stirr dashed my chances to land in the Big Leagues and now my moonshot is returning to Earth. This essay is calculations on the chalkboard and my safe landing is this: Become employed.

My target zone is in the uncharted Pacific. I want to write fiction and play baseball and be paid for each. It’s no less a moonshot than my shot at the moon–but I refuse to drift aimlessly. I will bring myself back to Earth in monumental achievement or fireball, but I will not approach shallow and bounce into space to die of regret and what ifs.

I have doubts. They tell me this will end in disaster. This last public spectacle. This final addition to the preponderance of evidence suggesting my existence has been contaminated with failure and rendered invalid. But I have Ed Harris. He tells me, “With all due respect Richard, I believe this is going to be your finest hour.”

Scraps of The Week 4/29

These scraps are my children. And lovely, vibrant, eight pounders though they are, they were nonetheless selected to die. But when the time came to deliver the kill-stroke, my hand balked above the backspace key. These babies deserved better than to sit in a trash bin to be emptied into nonexistence the next time I needed space on my hard drive. They deserved more than being deleted the moment after they’d crowned out of me. They deserved a chance at life. And even if I could not give them a home myself, I could give them a chance. I let fall the lid on the dumpster and carried them here, to this fire station of a blog post, and I left them on the doormat.

Image result for fire station
I gave birth in Burbank

From an essay on the play, “Duck” by Stella Feehily

Why would a woman torch a Jeep? A woman would torch a Jeep because it belongs to her boyfriend. A Jeep is wheeled agency–unbound off-road Army Corps of Engineers A to B agency. When Cat destroys Mark’s Jeep, she demonstrates with a heavy hand her ability to exert power. Her faculties are her own. Her body bends to her will. Her mind is unmuddled. She is chained to no one’s radiator. She is locked in no one’s basement doing chores for no one’s evil stepmother. Cat is a free woman.

Image result for jeep
Torch me

From a scrapped blog post “Pomo Barbie”

It is unconscionable anyone demand Barbie have jobs like astronaut and doctor. She has six foot legs and tits like a Bond girl in a funhouse mirror. Barbie is alien. She is a simulacrum. Her platonic form is her absurd figure tweaked to look human, not the reciprocal. To make her the center of any feminist tweaks is gross capitalism. It is manufactured controversy that ends in an olive branch riddled with woodlice and poison oak. To use Barbie as a societal steam valve for feminist conversations benefits only Mattel. To prop her up as a symbol of progress delivers a disgusting wink at girls, boys, women, and men saying this distorted alien with tits out past her nose is also a doctor. It’s an unconscionable wink. It’s a subtextual proclamation that Barbie’s figure and profession are equally absurd and equally valid. To involve Barbie in any debate is disgusting. She is just another alien action figure.

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Take me to your leader

From that essay on throwing 

In, The Throwing Madonna: Essays on the Brain, William Calvin looks at throwing and explores how it developed in hominids. He examines our brain development and organization over the last 3 million years and looks at the possibility that speech, the thing that separates us from the generally intelligent animal, was developed in tandem with throwing–as a side effect.

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Dada > Minimalism


Haikus of Calvin’s core concept:

Lateralized brain.

Gives you fine motor function–

And by the way, speech.

Here we are. Because

the neolithic Cy Youngs

had a ton of sex

He that is without

lateralized brain functions

can’t speak or cast stones

App Ideas #1


This app uses an advanced, deep learning RNG and self aware neural network deep learning sentient quantum computer to supply you with well crafted sports takes. By accessing databases and public records, SportsTake provides the user with nuanced, original opinions about sports. Takes are split into 5 different tiers.

Image result for andre ethier
That‘s your take?

Example takes:

  • Free
    • Mentioning the Buss family w/ regard to Lakers failures
  • $.99
    • Andre Ethier in ‘08 was a top 5 clutch player of all time
  • $1.99
    • Adam Everett was the best NL shortstop in 2002
  • $2.99
    • Lebron’s cramps in 2010 NBA Finals were a piece of performance art done to illustrate the failing leadership within the Democratic party in the wake of crushing midterm elections.
  • $3.99
    • Steph Curry is garbage
Image result for steph curry

Dumb Phone

This app is simple. Acknowledge you lack willpower then set a timer. For the duration of that time, your smartphone will be a dumb telephone that can only make calls and play snake. This app is for assholes at dinner, assholes in movie theaters, and assholes in class.

The Nokia Nimrod

Revenue is made not from ads, but from exploiting the userbase’s number one shortcoming: lack of willpower/character. For 99 cents the user can unlock T-9 texting for the duration of the timer. For $1.99 the user can unlock the phone for 90 seconds. $2.99 unlocks Siri and other voice command functions. $3.99 lets the user take low angled selfies.


This free to play mobile game is simple. The built in accelerometer in your Apple or Android device is used to measure the rotational inertia of the users best Rob Gronkowski celebration spike. Users are encouraged to compete with friends and submit highscores online. This is a great, active game. It is subsidized by Michelle Obama, NFL Play 60, and Giuseppe’s iPhone repair kiosk at the Westfield Mall.

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Become Gronk

Media Scandal Name Generator

This app adds -gate on the end of words. Premium product for media insiders. Suggested price point $29.99

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Irony is lazy, you hacks


Ridesharing for drunks. This is not an app for the casual alcoholic, but the committed one–the one who goes to his sons friend’s birthday party and has eight margaritas. He cannot leave his Camry on this cul-de-sac. The sun is up. He has work tomorrow. Instead of risking it, he opens DUBER. He presses a button and a DUBER driver is notified of the user’s current location. The DUBER driver takes a conventional rideshare (Uber, Lyft, etc…) to the stranded user. The driver then drives the user’s Camry to the user’s selected location (home, safehouse, dive bar, etc…) whereupon the DUBER driver hails another conventional rideshare and the transaction is complete. DUBER is the premium ridesharing platform for the stranded alcoholic.

For drunks

Scraps of the Week 2/26

These scraps are my children. I created them much like God created his, but mine took longer to make and behave better. Like God, I test my children. I pit them against each other and pick favorites. These are the children I’ve chosen to kill publicly. I’ve put them here on display as a warning to my other children. It is not enough to be well made, you must serve a greater purpose. These selfish creations had no place in my grand scheme. Here they rest, in the body of this blogpost.

“You didn’t fit with my thesis”

From a blogpost on speculative fiction:

Most movies need a director’s cut like Wes Welker needs a concussion. But the theatrical cut of Blade Runner needed to be revisited. There are 5 cuts of Blade Runner

  • The Workprint. (1982)
  • The Theatrical Cut. (1982)
  • The International Cut. (1982)
  • The Director’s Cut. (1992)
  • The Final Cut. (2007)

All of them feature coverage of Pan Am. Big Ridley had two chances to shy away from Pan Am after its collapse, and he did not. Why? Because he is not George Lucas. And because speculative fiction is not about predictions. It is about Current trends + time. This makes it fundamentally about the present. It is a place to sound warnings and magnify stakes.

Big Ridley

From an essay on throwing: 

You just started hiking Solstice Canyon in Malibu Creek State Park. You brought an apple for the midpoint vista, but weak willed as you are, you’ve already finished the damn thing. Now you’ve either got to pitch it off the trail or carry it for the next 6 miles. You decide introducing a nonindigenous apple tree to Malibu Canyon is well worth being rid of the thing–so you pitch it off the trail. Did you put any air under it? Yeah, you did. You let it fly. You tossed it further than you had to. Why? Because throwing feels good.

A hike for stoners of all ages

From a breakup text sent to my (ex)girlfriend the vegan:

I understand killing animals. Poor people do it to eat. The hungry can kill. They can poach. For all I care, they can eat cats. Some people have bigger problems than being nice to animals. Caring about where shampoos get tested, or the living conditions of chickens is as much a luxury as running water and toilet paper. PETA has no answer for a $1.99 pack of hot dogs.

On Pan Am and Speculative Fiction

Pan Am and Coke would endure all. Immutable and timeless and sea-to-shining-sea American, these institutions would last. As the last pillar of society fell to atom bombs, disease, and Old Testament climate change, there would be a Pan Am stewardess serving Coca-Cola to cockroaches and Keith Richards–who is unfazed and ambulatory. He uses his teeth to yank tight a vintage headscarf now tourniquet. He smokes expertly and mumbles for bourbon.

Pan Am was there in ‘68 to service Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey moon base.

The Pan Am Space Clipper

Pan Am was there In Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982). The 2019 Los Angeles skyline is foreign, imposing, and familiar. Its flying cars, Chinese stuff, and a big blue ad for Pan Am.

Top Left

Are these movies less prescient because Pan Am ceased operations in 1991? Is the inclusion of Pan Am a miscalculation? Are flying cars and a moon base?


Speculative fiction is not a place for futurists to measure dicks with predictions. It is a place to look at current trends + time.


The trend at the time of 2001: A Space Odyssey was aggressive space exploration. Accordingly there is a moon base and a sentient computer in deep space.

If Hal9000 had been placed on a space station in low earth orbit, the movie would hold up as clairvoyant–and would be entirely nonsensical. The trend in 1968 was AGGRESSIVE SPACE EXPLORATION. If follows that we would have a moon base and it would be serviced by the Pan Am Space Clipper.

Kubrick  grossly overestimated airplane food

Speculative fiction is NOT about an accurate futurescape. It is about extrapolating current trends so that we may look closer at ourselves.

At the heart of speculative fiction are the most basic philosophical questions. The new setting serves as new space to process them. The Martix (1999) is a look at one of our oldest metaphysical questions. Are we a brain in a vat? 

Ralph Cypher-etto is a good earner and wants to stay in The Matrix

Can artificial intelligence be human? Can a human love AI or a clone or an alien? Should we stop crime before it happens? Are happiness and suffering on a continuum? Is it okay to cull species? How should we treat our elderly and handicapped?

Recognize these questions? Of course you do. Because you understand that speculative fiction is not about futurism, but philosophy. So next time The Matrix fires a hot take into your goo pod, and you feel like saying “But the future isn’t like that”, maybe choke down that take and think about current trends. Then add time. Then watch the movie. Then enjoy your newfound perspective/much hotter take.

Book Report: Lord of War


Nic Cage is some sort of Russian expat. He lives in New York. He cooks at his family’s restaurant, and his family pretends to be Jewish. Sooner rather than later, Nic Cage is a hard hitting international arms dealer. With his bro Jared Leto at his side, Nic pulls some crazy stunts in his rise to the top. Along the way, Ethan Hawke and the original Bilbo prove to be worthy adversaries, yet ultimately, they are bested.
Unfortunately sometimes the gun running game does hit back. At one point, Jared Leto dies (sawed in half by hollow points). That’ll happen if you bring your conscience to West Africa. Despite the Nic Cage voiceover this movie can be remarkably human. Its got some good acting, its got the Jeff Buckley version of Hallelujah, its got lessons, and its got super brief nudity.

My Left Foot


This movie is tragic. Daniel Day Lewis (DDL) is an Irish cripple who draws pictures with one of his feet.  As his body fails him, his foot is the only faculty he’s able to maintain mastery over. Via the indomitable will of the unbroken human spirit, he begins creating artwork. His art becomes his self expression–his only cathartic medium. This movie explores what it means to be human and proves to us there is no such thing as a simple character. This film stuck with me. I remember the anguish and the frustration. I remember the inescapable hopelessness of an impoverished family and the story of their son, broken and betrayed by an unyielding fate. I remember the cruel incongruity of body and mind.


In time, Day-Lewis is accused of masterminding an IRA terrorist attack on a Belfast pub. Needing a patsy, British intelligence forces pin the attack on DDL and coerce a full confession. Sentenced and sent to British prison, he is housed with actual IRA masterminds. It is then that he learns the nature of the IRA separatist movement is ugly, chaotic, and reactionary. Ultimately DDL’s dad is arrested and jailed as well. His dad dies, and eventually DDL captivates a nation in his quest for freedom. He is cleared of the false charges, roll credits.

For all its twists and turns, this movie is simply riveting. It is humanity at its most compelling. The only downside is a run-time approaching 6 hours.

On TED Talks

With a Backstreet Boy headset and access to just one psychological study, you too, can give a TED Talk.

I’m not sure the selection process for giving a TED talk–but surely it’s:

  • Do you have a headset?
  • Can it be taped to your face?
  • Do you have access to a psychological study?

Outstanding. Go tell people how to think. We will film it from three different camera angles.


“Look to the stage. I’m on it. It’s tastefully lit. Have you heard about the field mice who struck a powerful pose each morning? They found the cheese 50 percent faster. Let that sink in. Don’t believe me? Look at my position in space. I am up here, on a stage. Look at my face: a microphone is taped directly to it. Now do your power pose while you watch another TED Talk”.

Once past the TED vetting process, you’ll need a speech. This will require:

  • 1 self deprecating joke
  • 1 refrain
  • 1 personal failure
  • 1 anecdote
  • 1  weird trick
  • 2 hand gestures

The joke should go first. After the payoff, as the room settles, introduce your first hand gesture. It will look like you are holding a joint a foot and a half away from your face.

Look at that invisible j-straw

Next the anecdote. This should be narrow, specific, and globally allegorical.

Introduce the refrain and repeat it ad nauseam. It should be simple and sound like this: “Body language is language”. It’s also time for hand gesture number two. Properly executed, this will look like you’ve chosen ‘paper’ in a game of rock paper scissors.

This guy means business

Act one fun time is over. Introduce a swift and catastrophic personal failure.

Now, the cornerstone of your TED Talk — a psychological study. Your entire worldview hinges on this study, so do not forget to do this part. It can be any study done at any time.

Next it’s your ‘one weird trick’, which is also your thesis, and the means to your success. After introducing this trick, you can just wing it–but remember to take it serious–someone will live their life by this.

Here are some people who would give a great Ted Talk:

  • Ted Bundy
  • Salesmen
  • Pol Pot
  • David Miscavige
  • Young Republicans Club
  • Robert Oppenheimer

None of these people should be giving speeches.

Destroyer of critical thinking
The tagline for TED Talks is “Ideas Worth Spreading”–which just edged out “Parasitic Ideas From a Cat’s Ass”.

Toxoplasmosis (the name-brand cat’s-ass parasite) works to create crazy cat ladies who nurture more cats, who harbor more parasites.

TED Talks are much the same. They target people with an itch to better themselves. Then TED provides the means to do so, which is more TED Talks. It’s a Möbius strip of YouTube clicks.

So what do TED Talks actually generate?

  • Homogenous thought processes
  • Idolatry
  • Shallow explanations
  • Interesting explanations
  • Accessable explanations
  • Ad revenue

In summary, don’t watch these things. Be wary of hands-free microphones. Stay out of litter boxes.

Scraps of the Week (2/6/17)

These scraps are my children. I brought them to term lovingly–excitedly. I’d hoped they would change the world someday, but as it were, their fate was to die. An edict from a heartless editor. A kill command from that cold practical butcher: Destroy these. But the bond between us was too strong. My motherly instincts too fierce. Instead of a swift and humane highlight delete, I put them in a basket and sent them down the Nile. Here they washed up, on the banks of this humble blog post.

Discovery of Baby Moses by Paul Delaroche
Miriam looks carefully at a blog post

Scraps of the Week (2/6/17)

From class notes on happiness–

“Rick Perry deregulates Texas. A fertilizer plant explodes in West Texas next to a daycare/hospital/Carl’s Jr./Green Burrito combo building. Here is an acute picture of someone’s happiness necessitating someone else’s suffering. Handful of happy republican businessmen–blast radius of suffering Texans.

When millions of mainland Chinese slowly die from pollution in an unregulated China, the same principle is in effect–Happiness by standing on someone’s shoulders. The more anonymous people we are willing to give cancer to, the cheaper the unit price of our tradestuffs.”


 Rick Perry has an accerdited A+ lifetime rating from NRA. He served admirably as senior class social secretary of his college fraternity.  Presently he is in charge of the nukes.

From an essay on speculative fiction–

“Predicting a black president in 1998 (Deep Impact), is correct, and interesting, but not particularly insightful. A black president in the US had been an increasingly likely eventuality. When reading and writing the future, we acknowledge unpredictability. There are historical lightning bolts, pivots in history which cannot be accounted for. Mt. St. Helens and the 2011 New York Giants come to mind.”

new_york_giants_vs_green_bay_packersThe 9-7 New York Giants point at A.J. Hawk

From a lifestyle blog–

“Some people cook all their meals on Sunday and eat them at work and on public transportation out of various Tupperwares. This behavior is usually accompanied by tweeting, strong opinions, and a willful lack of empathy. These people are racing each other to the grave one re-heated chicken breast at a time. Cooking all your meals on Sunday is the exact opposite of what God intended. He is very clear on this. If you absolutely must live your life in such blatant sin, try to at least say a Hail Mary every time you peel open a plastic lid.”


You cannot meal prep an enchilada

Also scrapped from the lifestyle blog–

“Broad generalizations make the trains run on time. Along with baseless assumptions, they really make the world turn. Every morning I wake up and make the baseless assumption that I am not inside the matrix. Then at lunchtime I stop by any Mexican restaurant in the Valley and I make the broad generalization that it’ll be staffed by people who make amazing enchiladas. Accepting these TOOLS as useful is part of being an adult. And with these tools, (baseless assumptions and broad generalizations) we craft DICHOTOMIES, which are the simplest and best lens to view the world through. Rich people vs poor people, West vs East, old vs young…”