Not everybody deserves a “Happy Father’s Day”


Like this hump right here.

This awkward family photo was taken prior to Game 7 of the NBA Finals last night, when the same p—- a– b—- dropped a triple-double right in this idiot’s chin-deprived face and provided Cleveland with its first professional sports championship since… Since… I dunno. Since Jesus Christ parted the Red Sea and allowed Jim Brown and open path to the end zone for the Browns to win the NFL title.

Mr. PAB is only the third man ever to record a triple-double in a Game 7 — scoring 27 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing 11 assists —  which means he showed up when it mattered most.

And when does it matter most?

To tell some dingledouche clown that he needs to set a better example for his embarrassed kid than wearing a ridiculous swap meet T-shirt like that. That matters a lot.

Not that I’m a Cavs fan or big on LeBron James. I just know that while it’s OK to debate over which athletes are “winners” or “chokers,” you don’t call a man out on whether he is a man. Not unless you’re ready to fight over it.

Dude, you spent thousands of dollars on tickets to look like a damned fool. But at least your kid has a fresh lid with your IQ on it.

Happy Father’s Day.

I haven’t admitted this to my Mexican friends yet

No, it’s not about that wall on the border thing. To be frank, if we could have a wall that magically electrocuted terrorists like a bug zapper but could let in Mexican immigrants, I’d be OK with that. I’m not a big believer in illegal immigration being the No.1 issue that harms our economy. Maybe it damages the economy a little, but I don’t know and besides, you can’t grow up in California and not have Mexican friends.

Now that I work in health care, Mexican patients have been very forgiving with my fumbling attempts at Spanish. It’s a beautiful language that I’m still learning. This is a courtesy that they have extended to me which, I fear, I might not reciprocate if I were in pain in a foreign country.

So I like the people, but I freaking loved watching the Mexican National Team get crushed by Chile last night 7-0 in the quarterfinals of the Copa America tournament.

Oh, that was one delicious beatdown. Here’s why:

We often chide ourselves in the United States for being overbearing, elitist, “the ugly American.” There are some in the world who thought with regards to 9/11, that we had it coming. We didn’t, but if we can be taken to task for being arrogant, that’s a human condition. People from foreign countries can be pretty damned boorish, too.

That includes a lot of Mexican soccer fans.

It doesn’t make them horrible people 24-7, but if you spend 90 minutes with El Tri fans in a soccer stadium you’ll reconsider that whole “make America great again” thing.

There’s a tradition in Mexico whenever the opposing team gets a goal kick. When the goalie clears the ball, thousands of El Tri fans scream a homosexual slur at him in unison. It’s hilarious if you’re 6 and have no idea what the word means. One week after a terrorist blasted through a gay bar in Orlando, not so much.

Other traditions to show blind love to El Tri range from the merely impolite to the blatantly unsanitary. And it puts you in a really weird place. You remember you have close friends who are Mexican, so you have an awkward conversation with yourself trying to excuse this behavior.

Drowning out the opposing national anthem with boos? Well, not every national anthem is inspiring, I suppose. I think Venezuela’s anthem is about panhandling and drug trafficking, so I guess I can live with that…

Throwing beer bottles at opposing players when they score? Um, well, they’re just plastic and empty, so…

Chanting “Osama” when playing the Americans in 2005? Ok, that’s too far below the belt.

Throwing ziploc bags of urine at opposing fans? Dude, what the hell, we were splitting beers in the parking lot in the first place! Where did you sneak off to pee in those baggies… And do you know where I can find a towel?

Have you ever noticed how pretty the girls are in the stands at international soccer matches? Some of the most gorgeous women I’ve ever seen, and to be sure, there are millions of attractive Mexican women in this world. I would love to take one to see a soccer game, but I won’t because

1) I can’t be sure we won’t get hit with bags of piss, or

2) I can’t be sure she won’t sneak off, pee in a bag, and slam dunk that on the crown of my head.

So last night put me in a slightly thorny space, until I realized that this meant I didn’t have to see any more American stadiums drowning in urine and homophobia for a while.

I’m sorry my friends are unhappy, but let the truth be told: It wouldn’t surprise me if they are secretly overjoyed when the United States loses in soccer. So why guilt trip myself in this idiotic time when political correctness makes us question every statement we utter?

Mexico got its ass kicked in soccer. It was so bad they chanted the same homophobic slur at their own goalie by the end of the night. That’s how humiliated El Tri fans were.

Yay! 

Pass the beer to celebrate. Just point me in the direction of a toilet when nature calls.

Meet Father Mick — a gullible Catholic seeking self-awareness

This is the fourth in a series of posts regarding “At the Hour of Our Death,” a murder mystery that debuts on a tablet and smartphone near you for $6 by the end of June.
So a priest as a protagonist. Hasn’t that been done?

Only in the obvious manners. In those dramatic cases, it’s been drowned in the holy water. 

For example, I had very little interest in debating the existence of God for a theme. Having lived in Hollywood, I was surrounded by legions of people who wanted to prove my faith wrong.

One of philosophy’s five major branches — metaphysics — deals with the question of what is real, and that includes God. Since I didn’t find anyone on Sunset Boulevard that I thought was smarter than Descartes or Aquinas, or even Hume, why debate? I have studied the greatest arguments for and against. Pascal’s Wager, flawed as it is, isn’t outdone by an open miker’s cache of penis jokes at The Laugh Factory.

Also, I had seen many shallow attempts to dramatize what a writer thinks is wrong with the Roman Catholic Church. There have been fictional movies and books about priests breaking their vows, and unfortunately true crime pedophilia.

All of that has been played out, but nobody ever addressed a fundamental issue that I’ve had with organized religion in general.

Why is it that so many faiths are lax in teaching the youth that the world is an utterly horrible place and you need to watch out? My problem with religion isn’t whether or not there is a God. My problem is that poorly explained faith creates children who are ripe to be exploited.

Take Catholicism and its view of sexuality: intercourse outside the marriage is sinful. Heck, thinking about sexuality before marriage is sinful. If you want to have sex, find a girl, marry her and get thy nether regions a-pumpin.’ From that perspective, it’s easy to see how society started placing to a sexual partner on a higher plane than simply “a spouse.” If you can only “have one,” you start thinking of any girl as “the one.”

But what if that “one” is a bad one? Churches don’t teach you on how to find a good mate. They assume that if your boyfriend/girlfriend goes to their church, that’s all they need to know. Those are frighteningly low standards. Not everyone in a church believes. Heck, not everyone in a church stays awake.

When I was a child, churches created cartoons to teach us moral lessons. Jesus, his disciples and even his enemies all walked the desert in pure white robes, smiling, as if the Gaza Strip were Huntington Beach. Anyone who’s read the New Testament knows nobody smiled in Jesus’ time. He was a swell guy, of course, but Jerusalem was a corrupted violent city where hygiene was a luxury entitlement.

So churchgoing children mature and realize that their cities are corrupt, violent and smell foul. And you wonder why each generation becomes a little more cynical than the last?

It’s not pop culture that defiles our youth as much as it is our own hypocrisy. Precious few are the parents who will pull their progeny aside and say, “We do want you to love God. We do want you to be a moral person, charitable, kind. But keep your eyes open because the world is really jacked up and if you don’t look out you’re going to get crushed.”

“But what about turning the other cheek, Dad?”

“Son, you only have two. And that girl you’re dating is cute, but she reminds me of this gold-digger I dated before I met your stepmom…”

For “At the Hour of Our Death,” I wanted a sleuth who had a sinking feeling that the world was a bad place, but had been sheltered by the institution of his church and patronized by the people around. Smart. Faithful. Steadfast. 

Gullible.

And I wanted to expose this guy to the worst of society. What better antihero than a priest, one who sincerely believes in God but has had a suspects that nobody will level with him?

Because like your children, priests are not stupid. Catholic priests are highly intelligent people, extremely well educated. But street smart? Not at all.

That’s who the Rev. Micah Connacht is. A man trying to find meaning and symbolically fix society by solving a murder in an unscrupulous city, confined by a parochial Catholic Church that is still trying to cleanse itself from the scandals of the 1990s.

To be clear, I’m not someone who sees myself in the protagonist. 

I’m nowhere near good enough to become a priest.

I’m about to find out the limits of #PrayForOrlando

A week ago, smoke curdled out of the engine bloc of my car. To be frank, I’m amazed it lasted as long as it did. It was a 1998 Nissan Altima. I bought it three years ago in California and — miracle of miracles — it even held together for a year after a cross-continent drive. I have an odd rule. If a car lasts, keep it even if you can’t get a date with it. You can always rent a car.

Of course, that strategy of “get a girl to like you before she finds out what you drive” doesn’t always work, which makes one think of the wisdom of the what children are taught in India.

I replaced that car a week ago today. Late Saturday night, on my way home from work, the car wouldn’t start. I was stranded. It could have been worse. I work a block away from the Pulse Nightclub, and we all know what happened there a few hours after I left.

So I guess I’m saying I recognize its not easy to have pity on me.

I replaced the battery and thought all was well. I drove from the car issue-free this week and watched the city’s video billboards flash one hashtag after another — #OrlandoUnited, #PrayForOrlando and #OrlandoStrong. It was heartwarming.

Well, the idiot light in the car blasted on this morning: #ElectricalSystemWeak.

So now I’m back at the car dealer.

#PrayForJames, please.

The week in LA sports (6/9/16-6/16/16)

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com asked a fair question: Why can’t we wait until the end of LeBron James’ career before we talk about his legacy?

The answer: Look to your competitors over at ESPN. James is a 31-year-old man. He came into the league at age 18 and was annointed the next Jordan back then by the network, and this was before the network debuted “First Take” and infected the nation with Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith. That cheaply produced hype show begat many more. Now, ESPN has 11 shows that feature at least two opinion flingers disguised as journalists chucking poo disguised as original thought.

And all of them, as recently as last year’s NBA Finals, still called James the greatest of all time even though he was about to lose yet another title shot.

I wish I didn’t have to write that. I don’t hate LeBron James. He’s had a damn good career to me.

But don’t direct “legacy” talk here like it’s my fault. Blame ESPN.

Now to the SoCal teams:

Dodgers: There is no good news on the horizon. The team simply can’t hit, aside from shortstop Corey Seager, and can’t pitch, outside of the incredible Clayton Kershaw. At their current pace, the $250 million roster with the alleged smartest front office in sports history will be sellers at the trade deadline. They are six games behind the Giants and only one Dodgers team has ever rallied from more than seven games out to win the division.

The Dodgers have not been to the World Series, let alone won one, since 1988. Every team in the division has gone since, even the Rockies and Padres. There is no reason to expect that streak to break this year.

I have many more thoughts on this plummet to mediocrity, but i will save that for a later time. 

Lakers and Clippers: I just read a rumor that claimed the Lakers will trade starting point guard D’Angelo Russell and starting forward Julius Randle to the Boston Celtics for the No.3 overall pick. Let me get this straight: Two starters — your two best players — to your worst rival for a couple of draft picks?

Now do you see why sports blogs aren’t worth a bucket of chum?

So let’s keep it simple: The Lakers have the following picks — the No.2 overall pick in the first round and the 32nd overall pick. They need height and shooters. In my opinion, they will take the best player available with No. 2 and the best center available at No.32.

The Clippers have the 25th and 33rd overall picks. They could use help at small forward and so-called “wing” players.
The draft will be held one week from tonight, June 23.

Rams: The death of former running back and career criminal Lawrence Philips in prison was ruled a suicide. I’ll shed fake tears the moment I find a needle.

New quarterback Jared Goff finally got to run plays with the first-team offense. The first-team defense confused him, but he said he liked it. In other words, spin. He’s a rookie. He wasn’t going to say anything else, lest he look like a punk.

Kings: Priority free agent Milan Lucic and the team are at a bit of an impasse in contract talks. It doesn’t appear to be acrimonious. The Kings are standing firm at $6 million per year, which doesn’t sound like much unless it’s the NHL. Then it’s a massive amount of dough.

Galaxy: While many of its top players are part of international tournaments, what was left of the franchise began U.S. Open Cup and earned arguably the ugliest win in franchise history — needing extra time to put away a team of amateurs.

Amateurs. Look at the link. The goalie has a bigger beer gut than I have.

This is my problem with the Galaxy. Not that I expect Robbie Keane, Giovani Dos Santos, et al, to play 90 minutes of every match, but this franchise doesn’t take tournaments seriously. The Galaxy is to MLS what the Cowboys are to the NFL. If MLS is going to grow on the world’s stage, the LA Galaxy have to dominate these tournaments.

Sometimes, when you least expect it, somebody else’s punchline spills out of your mouth

This photo has the same angle that slightly overweight girls use to draw attention to their bosom. I chose the angle for a reason. Note the book bag at my hip.

I’m always with that book bag, because it has books. I’m currently reading “Decision Points,” by former President George W. Bush. Maybe I can parlay it into a career on Fox News, but that’s for the illuminati to decide.

Anyway, I left Burger King earlier today after enjoying a savory extra long cheeseburger and the chef was enjoying her Marlboro while on break.

“Are you a stu’ent?” she asked.

“No.”

She grunted and shook her head with another deep inhale of soul-restoring tobacco product. “Don’t it hurt your eyes?”

“I don’t understand. What hurts my eyes?”

“Readin.'”

“I like to read.”

She grunted again. “Not me. Used to say anything to my teachers so I could stop reading. Don’t know why anyone would want to read.” And then she squished the nub of her deathstick onto the concrete and went back indoors to make more fries.

After the glass door behind her closed, I honestly said to nobody in particular, “I think one reason you should want to read is so you don’t become a chef at Burger King in your 40s.”

Which sounds way too much like a Bill Hicks punchline.

To my comedy purist buddies, my bad.

The difference between 9/11 and Orlando

Seriously, I want this blog to be one that brings pleasure, but most everything drags me down today.

These last few days have made me question the intellect of a lot of people. To wit: I live in the Orlando area, which was targeted by an ISIS sympathizer Sunday morning. When I found out, I was one of many people who stopped to try to help. I’m not sure how much a pint of blood helps, but if it does, then good.

It doesn’t matter that I’m a conservative Christian and the victims were in an LGBT club. My faith teaches me that I have a moral obligation to help people, as opposed to judging everything.

And so I help, not that I am looking for credit, and what happens? Everybody is judging. Oh no, not conservative Christians about LGBT. Everybody is judging everything else.

If you think President Obama is wrong for not using the phrase “radical Islam,” you will be judged. (Full disclosure: Yes, I think he is wrong, but it’s not worth getting angry over.)

If you think President Obama is right for not using the phrase “radical Islam,” you will be judged.

If you think terror attacks are a good reason to get a gun, you will be judged.

If you think gun control is a great idea, you will be judged.

If you think ISIS is a … You get the idea.

I spent much of Sunday trying to show people that we had reason to be hopeful.

When did we become so cocky to think our opinion means more than helping the injured? We’re not even allowing people to mourn. We just hit the switch to “screw (insert political opponent here).”

The difference between 9/11 and Orlando? After 9/11, people across the country couldn’t wait to help. After Orlando, people outside of Orlando couldn’t wait to judge.

I have but one political take to make about Orlando

Technically, one and a half.

Here’s the “half take”: I am remarkably disappointed in how many people immediately sought to politicize this ugly mass murder in Orlando. This includes my friends. I had turned off my cell phone yesterday because I knew I would wait for hours to donate blood. I described the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub attack. The aftermath was a hopeful and as optimistic as the attack was ugly.

Then I turned on my phone, expecting to see a stream of well-wishes on social media. But no. All I read was “ban this” and “bomb that.” Eff liberals. Eff Republicans. Such blind political rage. That’s the difference between 9/11 and Orlando. People couldn’t wait to use this tragedy for political points. Frankly, it makes me ill.

Now, for the one actual opinion with regards to American politics.

Former Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf once said something very profound. I don’t recall the exact quote, but the essence was that two valuable traits were to A) precisely define the problem that needs to be solved, but B) don’t exaggerate the problem or downplay it. By being honest with yourself, you open yourself to the possibilities of solving great issues.

As such, President Barack Obama is letting us down because we’re not even allowing ourselves to define the problem.

Yes, it’s fair to debate what weapons can be available in the United States. You want Congress to consider ideas? You want to advance ideas of your own? Go right ahead.

But that’s not the problem. It is a problem.

Radical Islamic terrorism is the problem. The more Obama skirts the issue and tries to reframe it, the more it appears he has his head in the sand.

Obama doesn’t have to threaten war. Recall the Schwarzkopf statement. To threaten war is an exaggeration. One could easily argue President George W. Bush defined the problem and exaggerated the solution with the invasion of Iraq.

Some say that the mere mention of “radical jihad” or “Islamic terrorism” will increase attacks. Considering I’ve lived in two American cities that were attacked in the last 8-9 months, that’s folly. We are being attacked no matter what we say, no matter what we offer in goodwill. Because people such as ISIS have no good will in them.

Tomorrow, I’ll be changing topics. I’m sick of talking politics here. That wasn’t the purpose of this site.

The aftermath of Orlando: To the LGBT community, you are not alone

I want to talk a little about terrorism in America. We all know about 9/11, but out of happenstance, I’ve lived in two cities directly impacted by the bloodthirsty zealots who blaspheme their faith.

With respect to most of you, you’ve never been to Orlando. I know some have visited, but this is my home now. Many of you never set foot in San Bernardino, either. That was where I grew up.

It’s extremely tempting to let this post devolve into a blind political screed, because I’ve sincerely had it with radical Islamic terrorism. But I don’t want to do that for reasons that I hope will ultimately become clear.

I work less than one block away from Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, where ISIS protege Omar Mateen slaughtered 50 people — a number that could rise — and wounded many more early this morning. Had I worked last night, I would have remained at my job as part of a lockdown that lasted well into Sunday afternoon.

The neighborhood itself is a little sketchy. It’s in a state of gentrification, where gleaming new shopping centers mixed with luxury apartments butt up against grimy used car sales lots, railroads and the destitute. I have driven and walked past Pulse. I haven’t walked inside and had no idea it was a popular gay bar. I’m a little too old for clubbing.

But while I didn’t know Pulse was a staple for the LGBT community, you don’t know Orlando beyond its reputation as a tourist trap. It’s by far the most diverse city I’ve ever lived in, and that includes Los Angeles. And here is where I seek to be honest with you and maybe give you a sense of hope. Because there are reasons for hope.

You, the LGBT community, are truly not alone. If anything, despite the way we fuss over certain things such as Chik-fil-A or transgender bathrooms, the bigger picture is the level of acceptance there is for LGBT.

If we didn’t accept the community, we wouldn’t care as much as we do when a tragedy such as this hits.

How do we know?

First, Pulse is not “the gay bar” in Orlando. It is “a gay bar.” While I didn’t know Pulse focused on LGBT, I have seen other clubs with rainbow flags prominently displayed. Larger clubs, too. If you are in that community, know that in central Florida it has not been fractured or extinguished. Because…

Secondly, blood banks across the city were jam-packed with donors and houses of worship are full of faithful praying for the victims, their families, etc. I know this to be true. I donated today. I waited for at least five hours.

When I first heard about “the shooting,” I had just woken up and had incorrectly thought it was a reference to a young singer who was killed Friday. It took another hour or so before I switched on the news and things pieced together.

I’d like to say I immediately helped, but that would be a lie. The police wouldn’t let anyone in the perimeter, which included my health care clinic. In addition, it’s rather difficult to pin down where to donate blood on a Sunday.

But thousands of people scrambled to help. They sought to help the first responders. They sought to help the victims. They sought to help those helping the victims and the first responders. And we all aren’t stupid. We all knew we were ultimately helping the LGBT community. 

It didn’t matter. Nobody hesitated. People you might think would have hesitated, didn’t. Not Republicans or Trump supporters. Not people backing Clinton or those still feeling the Bern. Not the wealthy. Not Christians, Jews and yes, even Muslims. I know this to be true because representatives of a Shia group arrived with water and snacks for donors standing under a bright sun at the start of a most humid summer.

The Muslims didn’t broadcast their faith, either. Their T-shirts had a word in extremely small print that I had to look up on my smartphone. I might be the only one who knew they are Shia. They didn’t say “Hey, we’re not like him.” They smiled and offered help out of a fundamental sense of what is the right thing to do.

Nobody said the LGBT community “had it coming.”

Nobody even considered talking politics until President Obama addressed the nation, and even then it was muted. It’s not time to talk politics yet. (Side note: If you are ranting about politics and this attack, please stop. Could you at least wait for the victims’ relatives to be notified?)

All they wanted to do was contribute, even if it was in some small way. Or perhaps an even bigger way, because there is a GoFundMe.com drive for the victims that eclipsed $300,000 when I began this post.

For all of our disagreements, know that in our hearts — in our very souls — we all understood what happened was an undeserved abomination. It’s not enough to say we have Orlando’s back. It must be known that we care for the safety of those in same-sex relationships.

From that, it’s evidence of how our country has grown.

So when your grief and shock subside, I ask that you consider this perspective: that we have grown.

And if we have grown, it should follow that we must have hope.

Good night.

San Siddinus — it kind of exists

This is the latest in a series of posts regarding “At the Hour of Our Death,” a murder mystery that debuts on a tablet and smartphone near you for $6 by the end of June.

You’ve often read about writing fiction as playing God, which I think is pretty repugnant. There is a God. I’m not him.

The phrase “playing God” usually comes from writers who — and you can tell by their measured self-important tones — fancy themselves as gods. If only my stomach would allow me to throw up every time I’ve heard that at a writers conference, I’d lose so much weight I’d never have to run any more laps.

You don’t need to build worlds to be a fiction writer. I love the novels of Raymond Chandler, and his works were part mystery novels and part love letters to Los Angeles. Follow the caseload of Philip Marlowe, which Chandler created as far back as the 1930s, and tell me that those streets don’t continue to beat that same unique Hollywood pulse — a sensation that you are in a place that is simultaneously optimistic and grim.

Through Chandler, it became evident to me that a city can be a character if it sets a strong tone.

San Siddinus, however, doesn’t appear on Google Maps. That’s because I couldn’t find a city that best fit the story, the theme, etc.

There is a St. Siddinus. The saint is revered in Catholic history as a martyr. How did he martyr himself? What was he martyred for? I have no idea. I couldn’t find it after hours of research. I couldn’t find his life story at all. When my eyelids started fluttering over reams of religious historical text, it dawned on me that St. Siddinus is the essence of martyrdom.

Daddy, why did the nice man die?

It was a sacrifice for a noble cause, son.

What cause?

Uhh, I dunno.

Pretty much explains the Middle East martyrdom hooey, too, don’t you think?

So with the name in place, I set out to build this city on shock and droll.

Other elements of San Siddinus I envisioned from places of I’ve lived in or near. I grew up in San Bernardino, Calif., which you read about last year due to a terrorist attack at a holiday party. The murder of 14 people and another 22 wounded by two Muslim extremists horrified a nation, but it didn’t surprise me one bit. San Bernardino went from being a proud blue-collar city to incredibly dangerous thanks to at least 25 years of corruption and neglect.

One year the city passed Detroit for the No.1 murder per capita rate in the free world and the police commemorated it with a souvenir T-shirt. Like San Siddinus, San Bernardino also has a vacant airport — the former Norton Air Force Base. Norton closed after Operation Desert Storm in the 1990s. Many military bases did. Other cities recovered.

In neighboring Riverside County, Lake Elsinore is arguably the only city where property values go down as you near the waterfront. Lake Dionne is by no means a carbon copy of Lake Elsinore, except for the unexplainable fish die-offs and subsequent stench that blankets the valley.

A main thoroughfare of Santa Ana played a role in the creating San Siddinus. I forget its name. East of Interstate 5, the street is well-groomed for incoming young professionals who will high-tail it back to the freeway and out of town once the clock strikes 5. Bumper-to-bumper traffic is preferable to them, compared with what would happen if the hoodlums and hustlers from the west took a peek to the other side of I-5.

Having said that, many cities across the west draw their names from Spanish-Catholic heritage. San Siddinus isn’t necessarily in California. Many things about this city were purposefully left vague. I marvel at the creators of the “Grand Theft Auto” video game series for the depth of their locales, but writers are tasked with titillating the imagination, not drowning the story in detail. San Siddinus could be in New Mexico, Nevada or Te… Maybe not Texas.

The details will hopefully be filled in further in future novels. I like the possibilities of the city itself being the recurring character more so than individual players on the stage.

Because in fiction — be it in novels or motion picture — many characters go through a magnificent transformation.

And if San Siddinus could change, would it be possible some of our worst cities could for the better as well?