The season-long lawn rehabilitation program now enters its final, desperate phase. Fall seeding. Apparently that’s the time to do it. And more needs to be done; I have patchy growth here and there, new shoots alone in a wilderness of barren dirt, but it’s proof that I do not have some magical powers that render seeds inert simply by purchasing them.


Peeled back some of the protective cover my wife asked me to apply; I did not argue, since I didn’t want to seem like I was avoiding work. End result: not only had nothing new grown, everything that had grown was bleached with the horror of death.

We need rain. Also, sod. Also, a smaller lawn with better soil.

The ground is sour.


Here’s an interesting look at how people game the system -

Let me start that again.I don’t like the phrase “game the system,” because it really means “cheat” or “manipulate the rules to achieve an outcome the rules were intended to discourage.” Right? Also, game is a noun, a thing played, or a state, as in “are you game?” It’s like “grow the economy.” It might be technically grammatical, but it annoys me.

So here’s an interesting look at how people cheat at Target. They steal things and return them, and the author, who has no illusions about the source of the merchandise, gives them the company's money.

Wonder if the fellow will have a chat with the lads in Loss Prevention come Monday morn.

He has several examples of various schemes, ranging from people who’ve figured out a way to turn gift cards into cash to people who buy things on sale and return them for the full price. Apparently the customer service people know what's going on, but follow liberal company policy and hand over the money.

“Illegal? Illicit? Unethical?” he writes. “Perhaps.”

Yes, there’s a great deal of moral uncertainty about a young man who returns $60 worth of Oil of Olay without a receipt or credit card, and wants cash. The author has a name for them: the Entrepreneurial Poor. What he means is “resourceful,” or “clever,” but by giving them the name Entrepreneurial he wants to link them to people who actually take risks with their own money.

Oh, a small distinction.

He begins the piece by telling the candidates to ignore the middle class:

No more pieties to the millions of Americans who fear for their 401(k)s; no more sighs of concern for those who tremble at the thought of driving a car more than five years old, and no more kissing babies of stressed middle-class families who just saved a bundle by refinancing their overvalued homes.

They're doing fine. Oh, I suppose, now and then, they make sacrifices. Buying organic ground beef at Trader Joe's in lieu of steak, so they can make Hamburger Helper on their Jenn-Air ranges. By switching to a limited cellphone plan. (Does Apple allow that?) Or, God forbid, sending their son or daughter to a public state university.

1. I have a six-year-old car and do not tremble at the thought of driving it; I tremble at the thought of not getting another five years out of it. My wife’s car is nine years old and needs to be replaced.

2. Is anyone’s house overvalued these days? Is that a problem the middle class has: overvalued houses?

3. “Buying organic ground beef at Trader Joe’s” is a perfect airy swipe that say everything about the author and nothing about the target, as is the “Jenn-Air range.”

What he means is “women who do not share my class consciousness.” If the woman has a Jenn-Air but uses it for her artisanal catering business out of her home, that’s great, that’s attention to quality. She’s fusing the localvore ethic with a new approach to open-faced sandwiches! But he really means “superficial suburban women who tell all their friends that the new kitchen simply has to have a Jenn-Air, and gave the hubby the most withering look when he suggested they might get a GE, I mean, seriously GE? That’s what he said. GE.” These people may be facing adversity, but when she makes supper, feeling good because she went down from Archer Farms pasta to Barilla, really it’s just as good you can hardly tell, she thought “I have a Jenn-Air, so there’s that, and my appliances reinforce my sense of myself as an entitled person.”

Uh huh. Well, perhaps the author is young, and realizes that damnation-through-brand-names is the MSG of essay writing.

There’s something else at work. Say you bought a nice house in the boom years - you know, the previous decade - and you could afford i. But things are different now; whoever brought in the big bread got cut loose and found a job that paid less, and you have cut back on everything and you’re looking at your 50s as a time of contraction - well, we can snicker at your concerns because you have a Jenn-Air. Meanwhile, a round of applause for the ingenuity of the shoplifters, and their can-do spirit.

It should be noted that the Jenn-Air owner is absolved if she does socially useful work in a position that required a few degrees in the soft sciences; then the ownership of a Jenn-Air is a sign of understated sophistication, a signifier of the smart credentialed overclass. But if she went to school to learn broadcasting, did a few years on-air, quit to stay home with the kids because her husband made enough, then she’s a lazy parasite and possibly a gender traitor. Let’s all point and laugh!




Last Friday I showed you this guy and wondered if you could tell what movie he'd been in - one I expect almost all of you have seen.



There were certain facial expressions that seemed familiar, and eventually it struck me:


The Drunk Titanic Baker. George Rose. He had a long career, including a Tony-winning role in 1986 for “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Odd to consider that the Drunk Baker on the Titanic was on stage in the middle of the 80s; seems like there’s a hundred years between the two.


In 1984, he purchased a holiday home in Sosua, Dominican Republic, where he spent much of his time between his performances. Rose was gay and had no immediate family or permanent partner. He reportedly longed to have an heir. Shortly after moving, he took in a 14 year old boy whom he supported financially and to whom he planned to leave his estate. He adopted the boy in January 1988.

The estate was worth $2 million. Wheels began to turn. Plots were hatched.

Says this site:

Rose arrived in Sosua on Monday, May 2. But in the early hours of Thursday, May 5, his body was found beside his overturned car in a ditch, off the main road near his home. Many of his friends were puzzled by accounts in the obituaries that he had died in a car crash. According to local police, he either suffered a heart attack or fell asleep at the wheel while driving home late. Traces of a white powder, believed to be cocaine, had been found in a packet in his wallet.

The police, however, were either lazy, or idiots. The car was in neutral. The lights were off. The car was barely dented. The victim, however, showed signs of a severe beating. They summoned the heir. As the Alix Kirsta story relates the memories of an old friend or Rose’s, who’d gone to the scene of the “accident.”

The young man arrived with his arm around a girl with whom he had been having a relationship for the past year. His reaction to events, says Garcia, was exactly as she had anticipated. “He strolled over, saw the body, ambled back casually, not a tremble or a tear. Totally cold. It confirmed all my fears.”

To make the story look even more like an old radio murder mystery: Rose had been determined to get his lawyer down to the DR to change his will.

Wikipedia says:

On 5 May 1988, during a two week hiatus from the national tour of Drood, Rose was beaten to death by his adopted son and three other men. The assailants, including the son's biological father and uncle, tried to make the death look like an accident, but soon confessed to killing Rose. Though all four men were charged and spent time in prison, no trial was ever held, and eventually all were released.

What a sad end. Illegal? Illicit? Unethical? Perhaps.

No, I’m not comparing murder to returning stolen items from Target. (Almost said “boosted,” which is one of those euphemisms deployed to make the act sound something other than theft.) But didn’t anybody wonder if there was something ethically dubious about a 60+ year old guy adopting a 14-year old child in a poor, poor country? Of course they did. Of course.

Matchbooks, as usual on a Monday.

Oh, did I mention there's a book?

There's a book.











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