My Sad Starbucks Story

A tall sweet young man who worked at my favorite local Starbucks (Abernathy Square) was run over and killed by a drunk driver early this morning.  He was riding his bike on the way to work around 4 or 5 AM. A coworker found him crumpled by the side of the road dead. The inebriated driver apparently temporarily fled the scene but later turned herself in to the Sandy Springs police and is under arrest. I found this out this morning when I drove to Starbucks for my morning ritual breakfast order, ie., “Hey hi, tall Pike’s coffee, room for cream, and a reduced turkey bacon sandwich please..”. 

His name was Marten and he was only 29 years old. Marten greeted me by my first name every single time I walked or stumbled in looking for my caffeine fix.  He struck me as a tad quiet but also seemed very smart, courteous and genuine. By genuine I mean his smile felt natural, real and not at all forced. By smart I mean one of those hard-to-find food and beverage employees who know how to keep the line moving and who remain positive and pleasant even if I’m a total jerk due to lack of sleep, old age, stress, schizophrenia or caffeine withdrawal. In addition, Marten (much like Allen the laid-back but hardworking store manager) was able to put up with my eccentric personality and quirky CaptCliff ways that include my tendency to make a ginormous mess at the cream and sweetener kiosk. I admit to being THAT GUY who cluelessly hogs the space while “doctoring up” their proprietary Starbucks beverage to get it “just the way they like it”. I also admit to sometimes leaving more spilled liquid, straws, sticks, Splenda and vanilla powder for Marten and others to clean up than the disgusting messes drugged-out disco patrons left in Studio 54’s bathroom stalls in the 1980s. I’ve already done a full Mea Culpa in a previous blog for also having swiped tons of Splenda and a small kilo-sized amount of those worthless but supposedly healthier for you Stevia packages. Plus, Stevia cant be all that healthy for you if it takes about 80 packets to make your coffee sweet enough. 


Like mindful meditation which I cant do very well due to rampant ADHD and chronic “spilkes” (see Yiddish) there is something calming and wholly reassuring in having a satisfying daily routine like going to Starbucks in the late morning and speed reading the front section of the New York Times on the stores newspaper stand without actually paying for it like normal people.  In my opinion, this particular Starbucks is notable for it’s ability (given its uber-suburban demographic) to do good work (professionalism) while still maintaining a very non-judgmental do-your-own-thing vibe. The good vibes and general sense of acceptance I am referring to seems to be present at this location no matter how quirky, weird, or different someone might seem to be. Such inclusivity and good humor stands in stark contrast to just about every single recent news article I’ve read for free off that newspaper stand. Furthermore, I remember hearing Marten joking and riffing with other employees behind the barista counter so i suspect he was not just a good guy and good employee but probably had a decently dry sense of humor and quick wit as well. What I didn’t know was that he was Dutch and was married. I also didnt know that Marten’s parents live in the Netherlands and that at the same time I was blown away hearing the devastating news about his senseless death they were still possibly not aware of what had happened to their tall slim good-natured son… who also happens to be the same exact age as one of my own sons.


As a father and not as a psychologist or faux pirate web blogger I felt and still feel absolutely awful thinking about Marten’s wife and family and how unbearably bad their day was about to become. Of course I felt even worse pondering my own not-so-very-perfect Narcissistic Starbucks Customer Personality Disorder (NSCPC) including my shameful caffeine junkie reaction when I first saw that the store was closed, ie.,”Shit! What the hell? I need my damn double tall cappuccino!!” Thankfully and graciously (especially for a monster-sized global corporation) Starbucks district managers were there along with a few others to inform customers about the tragedy and assure everyone that the store would reopen tomorrow. 


I know I’m not the only Morning Joe coffee customer or restaurant patron who has developed a certain special closeness and family-like feeling towards the ever smiling, ever kind and memorable apron-wearing people in their lives. Somewhat surprising even to myself, however, was that I actually cried like a baby today and got really mad thinking about Marten, his wife, his family, as well as the folly and stupidity of drunk driving. I also thought about  the rest of the staff that now have to collectively pick up the shattered pieces of this young man’s life lost for no goddamn good reason. I guess I’m thinking not just about Marten but about myself and my family too and how there has to be a better way to go on “in good conscience” when terrible things happen like this.  I know I cant solve all the thorny complicated social issues like alcoholism, drunk driving, and everything else that I see and read about at Starbucks, on the 24/7 cable television news or online. But today I just want to think and “mindfully meditate” about Marten. I especially want to understand and acknowledge who he is/was and what he represented in my normally self-absorbed privileged older white guy suburban life. In a world of people blaming each other for anything and everything, people like Marten are working hard, quietly pursuing goals in their life and not complaining. They ride their bike to work and get the job done. These are the unsung heroes and in many ways represent the under appreciated fundamentally “good people” in the world who are gracious enough, humble enough and patient enough to greet us all “equally” with warmth and genuine humanity…. and then serve us warm (or icy cold) drinks and warm crusty croissants and/or turkey bacon sandwiches just as promised… even if we the “paying customers” are grumpy as heck, haven’t shaved or showered yet or are just plain quirky as hell. I miss Marten already.

Courtesy FOX 5

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. – A man riding a bike was hit and killed by a drunk driver without a license Wednesday morning in Georgia.

FOX 5 reports it happened around 5 a.m. on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs.

Police say a woman was driving without a license and hit and killed Marten Bijvank, 29, as he was riding his bike along the road. Investigators believe the woman was driving under the influence of alcohol.

Police identified the woman as Antoinette Battle. She faces felony vehicular homicide and DUI charges.


I guess I was right about Marten. This made me cry even more:

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My Happy New Year/Hanukkah Prostate Miracle

Besides being the Jewish winter holiday meant to obscure the fact that Christmas is way more fun, Hanukkah (Festival of Lights) is the story of a 2000 year old military victory, a holy temple’s re-dedication and an unexplainable miracle of sorts in the long-storied history of the Jews. Without resorting to actual facts (such as there being no collaborating evidence of any kind supporting the existence of such a miracle), it is a quasi-religious holiday reminding the faithful that “great and wondrous things can and do happen” (Nes Gadol Haya Sham) and that human resilience and steadfastness is deeply rooted in ones belief in God.  In this case we’re referring to Yahweh, the monotheistic deity in the Old Testament that you REALLY  dont want to mess with because he can get in a super gnarly bad mood and turn you into a pillar of salt or smote your ass faster than you can say Santa, schmaltz, or “pass the potato latkes please”.  What does this have to do with my prostate gland ? Good question. One thing is for certain, as portrayed in the Coen Brothers movie, A Serious Man. Everything (at least theoretically) is uncertain  (see below).


In general, it’s been a rough year for CaptCliff and family, one in which I pretty much decided to pull back from social media, friends, political pundits, etc. to introspect and wait for the End Times (Rapture) partly just to see which way my eternal soul was headed, ie. “Omg, Jesus Christ, hey hi……listen I SWEAR to you I always thought you were the real deal!! I’m really spiritually “Independent”, more like a Bu-Jew but I’ve seen Jesus Christ Superstar at least 5 times and…..” (sound of fire and hellish screaming of tortured souls and eternally Damned in the background) and partly because of various age related medical problems that keep reminding me that my physical body, much like my obscure writing, will soon enough be a mummified relic of a life lived, well, pretty quirkily. I dont regret this voluntary withdrawal because I always learn something new. For example, I found out that NOT watching the wholly distorted and dissonant cable news channels cleared up my reoccurring headaches and itchy athletes foot condition. That alone was worth it. However more serious maladies lurked in the periphery of my mind and body. No, I’m not going to let you see into my deranged head space and narcissistically inclined noggin. I’m saving that shit for the CaptCliff Limited Edition (LE) leather bound (self published) set of my pirate blogs. I’m talking about my prostate. If you don’t know what that is……just google it or ask Siri the annoying know-it-all bitch. The bottomline is that a lot of guys my age have “enlarged” prostates which means multiple pee breaks in the middle of the night and/or long laborious urinary failures-to-launch in crowded public restrooms, ie. “Hey buddy are you gonna piss already or are you going to just wait all day for a small fire to put out?”  Still, the aforementioned is no more than mild to moderately annoying and once you do look it up online you can expect endless target advertising and robocalls from every single adult diaper manufacturer and catheter company on the planet… literally for the rest of your life. This much I know. What I didn’t know then was about my PSA score.


The PSA test is a well established screening blood test to determine prostate cancer risk. When that particular test result goes up over a certain level and stays elevated it’s time to raise the Defcon cancer warning color flag to orange or possibly even red. My PSA test this year was significantly elevated three times in a row. A very attractive female Urology specialist at Emory confirmed my enlarged prostate by digital exam and I thanked her for her soft touch and gentle demeanor. I was frankly expecting something more like Dr. Pol the TV veterinarian sticking his entire arm up a cow’s ass to remove some random bowel obstruction. Anyways, I was worried I had prostate cancer. I went from worrying about my sagging jowls, arthritis and degenerating cervical disk to thinking maybe I was gonna die or worse yet be forced to watch as this faux pirate’s once shiny saber lost it’s competitive edge. At worst, like Blackbeard’s flagship the Queen Ann’s Revenge, I imagined the last vestiges of my vitality and metaphoric manhood unceremoniously run aground and left to rot on a coastal sandbar.


Long story short….. recently, on the last day of Hanukkah I went back to my new Obamacare and Medicare super-nice older Russian Jewish lady internist to discuss treatment “strategies” including a number of advanced imaging and biopsy procedures. I was already scheduled for a special Prostate MRI scan in January 2019. She suggested another follow-up PSA blood test first just to see if any significant changes had occurred and in passing said, “Dont forget no sex or ejaculation for 48 hours before because it can artificially elevate the PSA score.” I did YE OLDE pirate double-take at the door on the way out (what I used to call “doorknob insights” in my clinical practice) and responded, “Wait, what? Nobody told me about that before. Does masturbation count as sex because besides making bamboo peace pipes in my pirate basement it’s my primary hobby in semi-retirement.” Dr T patiently looked up from my by-now-voluminous medical file and patient notes and said, “Yes it can significantly alter your test result. They should have told you that before.” Bottomline: after several false starts and a tremendous display of physical self-restraint on my part I managed to make it (barely) 48 hours without resorting to my mindful masturbation psuedo-zen practice and retook the PSA test. A couple days ago the results came back. It was normal.  Russian lady doctor said I dont need the zillion dollar Futurama George Jetson prostate MRI or Medieval catheterization procedure involving someone fly fishing up my private parts. It’s a damn Happy New Year/Hanukkah Prostate miracle.


Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who made miracles for our forefathers in those days at this time.

On the first night only, you’ll also say the Shehecheyanu blessing:

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech HaOlam, shehekheyanu, v’kiyamanu vehegianu lazman hazeh.

Blessed are You, O Lord Our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season Amen.


The Uncertainty Principle (from A Serious Man):


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Hoarders Nightmare

IMG_3072Look I know it’s Thanksgiving but sometimes you just gotta say what’s on your mind. Dont you just hate it when people know you’re a hoarder and you try like hell to keep it on the “down low” but it still manages to reveal itself in all it’s ugly full-monty obsessive-compulsive glory anyways? A little like Ralph Fiennes the lunatic serial killer in the movie Red Dragon who cant help but show his total cray-cray to the trash tabloid writer played by Philip Seymour Hoffman,  “Do you see? Do You See??”
Here’s the thing: I have like 43 pairs of cheap flip-flips from over the years but there are really only about 20 or so that are actual matched sets. I keep hoping the twenty plus missing foam rubber slippers will wander in on their own someday, dirty and disheveled like a gritty survivor from “How I Survived” or Elizabeth Smart after living 9 months with some hairy middle-aged child molester in his gross perv bunker. I realize thats a rather odd metaphor for a missing shoe but let’s quickly move on… At least 8-10 of the remaining singles in my closet are either worn down to the approximate thinness of a cheap slice of Kraft American cheese or have broken toe-straps that are glued back on with shoe goop and plastic ties from Home Depot. Don’t judge me…yet.
Today I decided to boldly go where I have never really gone before. I decided to PURPOSELY throw out a single sandal that was one of my favorites. I thought perhaps it wanted to be tossed out or more accurately “let go” since I sensed it felt that life was not worth living without its “sole mate”. Side note to Editor: Sorry Leslie but Im using quotation marks there because that’s some clever wordplay right there and people nowadays are, well, slow-witted due to trickle down stupidity syndrome (TDSS).  Anyways I did it (the dirty deed) and I did it with Blackbeard pirate like panache. I told people who know me and my “quirkiness” (code for insanity) I was going to do it and I even took a dramatic selfie by the garbage can outside. This was a one-and-done deal you should know because I forget to take my trash up to the street quite often. That means the stuff in the big green rolling plastic waste containers outside are basically nuclear sludge and even the fruit flies and maggots die within milli-seconds once  in contact with the decrepit contents.  I know….super ewww.  So after throwing away my favorite orphan sandal I took a victory lap up the street of the subdivision and around the neighborhood cul de sac.  I know that sounds overdramatic but if you’ve watched Hoarders or Hoarders Buried Alive you would know throwing away anything from inside ones hoarder house (including dead squirrels, dog poop and 12 year-old moldy Oreos) is near to impossible. That’s because there are zero executive decision-making grey matter or frontal lobes left in the demented hoarder person’s head. Collecting too much crap has rotted our neural networks and fried our brain circuitry like my mother’s butter and schmaltz sautéed matzo brei. Sorting our socks or cleaning out a refrigerator is like asking us to do quantum physics. The other dirty secret of hoarding is that we often form unusual personal relationships with our possessions. It’s kind of like having imaginary friends in childhood that you talk to except in this case you are conversing with your 45 year-old Frye hiking boots from Boulder Colorado that still fit and remind you of a thousand sweet memories from the past.
So here comes the good part. After Captain Cliff strolled up the street and back like Julius Caesar returning victorious from Gaul and then proudly entering Imperial Rome by chariot to the cheers of thousands… I decided to double down and go through a pile of old clothes that has sat on the floor of my master closet for about 8 months. Hint: When a hoarder says “8 months” that really probably means closer to 8 years but he avoids overt derision and humiliation by dividing everything by 10. Wait, is that math correct? See I told you our brain is mush. Whatever.  The point is I was on a self-confidence roll and actually thought I would be able to give up clothes in my “skinny” pile, my “semi-skinny” pile and especially in my “I cant believe I was ever THAT fat” pile. Well guess what? As I shifted the pile and started the Keep versus Throw game, ie. “Throw, Keep, Throw, Keep, Keep, Keep, Go eat sandwich, Give Up, etc.”, I spotted something near the bottom that looked suspiciously familiar. It was the errant single flip flop, the prodigal heel and nowhere-to-be-found footwear returned. It looked at me like Harry the Dirty Dog before getting his final suds-filled bath and whimpered innocently,  “Hi, where’s my twin brother? I miss him so much.”  I could have plotzed.
Look I realize I’ve drawn out this stupid story to a ridiculous degree and most people are more interested in finding a place to throw up after eating too much Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing or are driving the deserted streets of some nameless metropolitan suburb looking for an open store to buy a roll of Tums and half gallon of Pepto Bismol…. but i had to tell someone what a worthless piece of hoarder’s dog doo-doo I am. That’s right. I literally went out to the garbage can barefoot (I suppose subconsciously as penance for my sin) and tried to see if I saw the flip flop that I had so callously abandoned and naively thrown out with the biohazardous trash. Of course one quick look and the slightest whiff of the garbage du jour was enough to send me back inside reeling and wretching uncontrollably. Basically I lied and told the other sandal that he was toast and that his partner had disappeared and was never ever coming back. Then when his grieving insole was looking the other way I put him out of his misery as well. Maybe this is what they call aversive conditioning in behavioral psychology. I just know I aint putting up with that much shit from a cheap ass piece of footwear. Plus, it’s almost time for Black Friday and there’s a thousand more things that I really dont need on sale.
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The Family Dollar Store

Today I did something I’m a bit ashamed to admit. So, instead of quietly pondering my transgression I’ll just tell everyone in the entire universe on social media and on my impenetrable (to human understanding) WordPress blog. For some reason, out of sheer boredom, morbid curiosity or possibly because it only cost one dollar I purchased a plastic plumbing “drain snake” at the Family Dollar store. These are the odd serpentine shaped thingies that people use to get accumulated hair and random gunk out of sinks, shower drains and other inaccessible or unmentionable places. I think my doctor may have used something very similar to it during my colonoscopy exam last month. It certainly felt that way the next day….


Let me explain to you something about dollar stores.These are places I frequent quite often regardless of whether I actually need anything. In fact it’s best to go there when one is feeling naively content and self-sufficient. That way it’s more startling to discover that you’ve been living your entire life without fundamental equipment and essential products like green styrofoam cubes for holding fake flowers, reading glasses that cause vertigo, blindness and hemiplegic migraines and Australian licorice that doubles as a highly effective bowel cleaner in the form of subsequent explosive diarrhea. As if great white sharks, crocodiles and venomous snakes aren’t hazardous enough they also have licorice which can kill you down under. Actually the dollar store also has branded bowel cleanser tablets that double as a source of non-digestible fiber and a plethora of quasi pharmaceutical products that would cost a fortune anywhere else. I enjoy using the word plethora, dont you? 

So how is this even possible? What i mean is how can a humble dollar store in Atlanta Georgia or in Bumfuck North Carolina or probably even in Idaho (I dont know any actual cities there) sell Ibuprofen, anti- vaginal itch topical cream, iPhone headphones, battery powered chainsaws (ok, that’s a lie) and 5 gallon jugs of lavender scented laundry detergent all for a dollar?? Is it mercantile magic, Freakonomics sleight of hand, or some undiscovered quantum universe/time warp that causes every item in the dollar store to regress to the price of everything including automobiles in 1910 (or possibly earlier)?   I really have no idea. I just know I’m not coming out of there without a whole lot of stuff I dont want, use or really need. Super glue and those watch battery run fake candles are two examples of things I apparently cant survive very long without.
Here’s the thing. I’m convinced I start my dollar store shopping trips in a conservative manner and with an appropriate even hesitant shopper mentality. Once inside the front door I purposely pick up the conveniently located plastic carry basket with sturdy handles much like the one Dorothy carried in the Wizard of Oz. At that point I’m carefully scanning the store perimeter and thinking to myself, “who the hell needs a big rolling grocery cart in here?” Sadly, ten short minutes later I’m practically skipping down the store aisles like the Scarecrow without a functioning brain or the Tin Man high on trailer park meth and probably lacking executive decision making skills due to ingesting too many poppy flowers. I say this because as an experienced Clinical Psychologist I know it’s not normal for me to be scooping up bundles of unnecessary $1 items off corrugated metal shelves and transferring them by forklift into a rented flatbed truck from Lowes. Apparently, the non-psychologist in me is saying to my over-stimulated brain, “Hey for a dollar how can I go wrong even if I don’t currently need a pregnancy test or multiple sets of ovulation indicator strips?” Nevermind that I had a vasectomy a zillion years ago and lack ovaries of any kind. Speaking of narcotics, in another dollar store  I recently witnessed grown men in wife beater T-shirts fighting over bottles of “nighttime” cold medicine and flu syrup,  allergy pills and “energy” tablets with not so subtle names like Dezadrine. Kinda makes me wonder if “purple drank” the popular ghetto cocktail and rapper beverage du jour that contains alcohol, cough syrup, grape soda and possibly drano was invented in a dollar store by unusually imaginative drug addicts and/or aspiring musicians. 
It’s kind of ironic because I remember as a kid watching a certain TV game show called “Supermarket Sweep”. It was a remarkably stupid but seductive television program in which grocery store shoppers competed with one another by attempting to get the most “valuable” store items into their oversized grocery carts in a limited amount of time. The clever contestants sprinted for the most expensive products like porterhouse steaks and massive frozen butterball turkeys while displaying abject disdain towards common but necessary store goods like paper towels or toilet paper. Free enterprise capitalism was fully on display in Supermarket Sweep circa 1967. But that was then and this is now. In the family dollar store circa 2018, much like Millennial minded socialism and theoretical communism the consumer playing field and shopping arena is perfectly level and does not vary one iota. Unlike the darkly brilliant Three Dog Night song from 1969 entitled “One”, one is NOT the loneliest number that you’ll ever see or do. In fact, $1 is the ONLY number that you see and you can get a whole lot of funky shit for $11.11…and a virtual truckload for $111.11.
Anyway look what i just did. I digressed from sharing my drain snake story… as usual. Maybe you dont really want to know anyways. Let’s just say I found things in my bathroom drains and lavatory sink that no man, woman or child wants to see or ever remember. I’m surprised all licensed plumbers dont have PTSD.  In an attempt to clear my tortured mind and unintended X-ray vision (just like Ray Milland in the old sci-fi movie “The Man with the X-ray Eyes”) I seek relief by writing this overwrought confessional. Now I really know what he meant at the end of the campy film when he said, “I’ve come to tell you what I see.There are great and horrible darknesses farther than time itself”. Of course all he got back from the circus tent revival audience was an evangelical mob chanting, “If thine eyes offend thee…pluck them out!”  Maybe I’ll just split the difference and make another quick trip to the Family Dollar store for several three gallon bottles of bleach and some of that Aussie licorice.  Hell, I’ve been a bit clogged up lately myself and it’s all just $1. How could I go wrong?
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The “Man Up” Restore Relationship Phone App…. Just for Men


To the Dummies and the Haters: This is SATIRE bitches. I’m not serious. It’s not a real thing. It’s a satirical essay about MEN and how we are sometimes. Comprende?
If you happen to be a man who procrastinates a lot, is self-absorbed, is not at all consistent with the doling out of affection, verbal expressions of love, positive complements, gift-giving, card buying, having any understanding or patience with gfs and their emotional bullshit, are totally selfish in bed such as forgetting about little things like kissing, foreplay, female orgasms or your partner’s pleasure, are not good at hiding your anger and annoyance, cant tell if your spouse or partner has gotten their hair cut, nails done, lost two lbs or is wearing a brand new (fill-in the blank here) or just plain dont dig all the lovey-dovey stuff that chicks are into including celebrating every event like birthdays, anniversaries, half-birthdays, quarter-anniversaries, the calendar or digital clock turning to 1111 (wtf is that?) …then you may want to download CaptCliff’s “Restore Relationship” cellphone app.
The basic premise of the Man Up phone app and it’s empirically derived “SAVE RELATIONSHIP” algorhythm is as follows:
Most women even if they are crazy in love with you at first are likely to get fed up with your (and my) respective man bullshit because:  1)  we are quite often stupid pricks and can be big jerks  2) we do say dumb, insensitive and hurtful things especially when mad, annoyed or tired and  3) we are hopelessly inferior and not even a fraction as hot, muscular or well-hung as the Prince Charming/Mr Wonderful dude pictured above and described in every romantic book, novel, song, movie, fairy tale and hen story told around the ladies-only bonfire and inside the menstrual hut/communal kitchen by women, their best friends, and all their extended female relatives including mothers, grandmothers and even great-grandmothers (who you might think would know better with advanced age). However, the main reason they dont know any better or accept actual reality about guys is simply because they fucking LOVE THEIR ROMANTIC TARZAN MEETS SUPERMAN MYTHOLOGY. I’m serious. That’s their mental, emotional and sexual caffeinated Red Bull energy drink. It’s their baby pablum/mothers milk growing up, their teen-aged fantasy drug of choice and their Kim Kardashian Queen Bee royal jelly body lotion. They consume this romantic fantasy stuff like guys enjoy endless rashers of fatty bacon at Waffle House and IHOP.
By the way, dont try to tell me your woman has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and doesn’t think in this unrealistic way about you. Bullcrap. James Holmes the orange-haired Batman mass murderer in Colorado was on his way to getting his Neuroscience PhD doctorate degree too and look how useless all that scientific stuff was in keeping him from going totally psycho fruitcake at the movie theater. Even tho the rational part of a woman’s brain may tell them that “fantasy is not reality” and that reality often involves yucky things like dirty fingernails, man farts, body odor, poor oral hygiene, ball scratching and sniffing and occasional sexist language .…the much larger part of their brain (approximately 90%) tells them Prince Charming ( like Baby Jesus, Sasquatch, trickle down economics and winning the lottery is for psychos and rabid Trump supporters) is still a distinct possibility. In cinematic terms consider this. The movie and the novel “Dr. Zhivago” is seen as an uber sexy snow-covered Russian love story by a large number of women even tho five minutes in an actual Siberian winter would freeze a man’s dick off and reduce his basal temperature and  sex drive to sub-zero.  Dont ask me why women are so persistent in torturing themselves (and us) with such obviously exaggerated and counterproductive fantasies. I dont know and frankly I’m too busy pretending on Facebook that I’m 20 years younger than I am and fantasizing that there’s an exotic Playboy bunny somewhere who has a fetish for an older bald psychologist with droopy nipples and a FUPA. Dont ask. It just seems possible based on probability theory, quantum physics and the uncommon law of averages.
Anyway, I talk too much and often forget to get to my main point. I have ADHD. Here’s my point:  Let’s face it. We ARE basically selfish dumbasses. That’s not going to change. However, with this mental reminder/action plan/ phone app you can teach yourself to BEHAVE like you’re not nearly as big of an ASSHOLE as you really are… at least for short periods of time and for a very specific purpose. Which, by the way is of course exactly what we all did and do when we first start dating anyone, even a gorilla.  Scientific studies show that there are only two things that motivate human beings such as ourselves and they are as follows : 1) money and 2) physical pain.  Actually I may have taken that  finding from research on psychopaths and serial killers but I still believe it applies to us…. So hear me out bros. If you fuck up your marriage and your wife divorces you… that is going to cost you a BIG BOATLOAD OF MONEY (trust me on that one) and THAT will be very very PAINFUL.  Also, even if you never ever took IntroPsych 101 in college, didn’t go to college or are just a big dumb football jock with a brain the size of a shriveled walnut due to sports injuries and multiple concussions you had to have noticed that even if you are  totally BORED TO DEATH with your spouse’s crap, their ways of doing things, their tendency to act just like their crazyass mother (who you see as the ultimate NIGHTMARE VERSION of what you fear your partner will eventually become) the  QUICKEST WAY to realize how much you love, adore, and need her is made crystal clear ten seconds after she kicks your sorry ass to the curb.
You can hate her, be disgusted by her face and body, her beady squinty eyes, that annoying black mole or skin tab on her right cheek or upper back and the weird color of her toenails on any given Tuesday but on the Wednesday after she packs up and leaves ……you will be masturbating obsessively to her old Instagram pics and trying to use satellite technology and the “zoom” feature in the laptop tool bar to spot clues as to who she might be fucking. That’s some right brutal shit  on the surprisingly delicate male ego gentlemen, and its completely unnecessary if you do the one thing you’ve never done before…which is have an organized  plan ready to go ahead of time.  I know. I know. We hate to do that and just like the sick fucks that we are we tend to get obscene pleasure from rushing out at the last minute to do the nice romantic things we were supposed to do for them last week and then pretend that the sloppy wad of wilted flowers from the supermarket (that you got half-priced) was really ordered from an exclusive organic flower grower in Napa Valley California who you’ve been corresponding with on a regular basis for weeks… if not months. Right. Dont act like you dont know what I mean or that your self-centered manshit doesnt stink…  Be honest. Have you ever gone to a decent restaurant and told your beloved she should take the special chair that faces the dining room because its “much prettier” and has a much better view of the open kitchen/grill but really it’s because you can see the Falcons football game on the big screen TV the other way…. not to mention the hot supermodel in the red miniskirt and riding boots who keeps crossing and uncrossing her legs like she’s sending some special Morse code or maritime distress signals to the head bartender? Alrighty then….you need my app.  Now all I gotta do is create the special algorithm. I cant tell you everything  right now but I can say that it will AT LEAST include doing one thing each week that your better half really loves to do and you absolutely positively despise (probably while lying or seated in a certain “cuddly”/comfy/close but totally non-sexual physical position). Have you ever heard the sentence, “Noooo…I just want to cuddle..”?  That’s not the really hard part. The hard part is teaching yourself to not let it leak out of your pores just how horrible and noxious it is to have to sit and watch reruns of Desperate Housewives, Sex and the City or the Twilight Saga vampire film series without your cellphone in hand and two laptops with game scores and postgame video highlights within your visual field 24/7. Plus, how incredibly lame are male vampires with no shirt on and bulging pecs? Ok..Ok, Just try to remember one thing: This is gonna hurt ….but in the end it will save you a fucking bundle. So bite the so-called silver bullet before it’s too damn late and “Man Up”.
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CaptCliff’s Restaurant Review of Din Tai Fung

shumaishrimp dumpling
How can I begin to describe an authentic Shanghai steamed dumpling that one does not (God forbid) gulp down or drown in store bought chili oil or plastic packets of “soy sauce” but instead allows to dance on one’s tongue until it decides on it’s own to release it’s ample flavors of pork, chicken and savory broth? How can I explain the difference between a run-of-the-mill Hong Kong style noodle house or standard Dim Sum palace whether in SF’s Chinatown or Atlanta’s budding Buford Highway and a bona fide heaven-on-earth eatery like Din Tai Fung in Arcadia California?
Even for a jaded foodie and pseudo Pirate Psychologist such as myself, Din Tai Fung delivers on it’s promise. Practically every dish arrives looking simple, even coy and unpretentious, but then when eaten proceeds to perform perfect pirouettes of taste on one’s pirate loving palate like a Bolshoi ballerina on pointe. Similarly, there is a matter-of-factness about the servers and seating hostesses that borders on cavalier right up until the steaming food is brought to the table. However, now look at your server. She/he is suddenly smiling ever so slightly because she/he knows what’s in store. The moment you bite into a mound of fresh garlicky green beans or shrimp topped pork shu mai there is a palpable culinary awakening afoot. After my first swallow I nearly dropped my chopsticks on the floor in a clatter and bowed in reverence while facing the glass enclosed prep kitchen. Inside, a dozen identically aproned chefs work deftly to cut, roll, shape and stuff the sacred Shanghai dumplings. Like Santa’s helpers in late December they could barely keep up with consumer demand. Also excellent is the chicken fried rice with green onion and dry fried pork chop over steamed rice. Multiple orders of everything is the norm here rather then the exception. A Zagat rating of 26 amid so many competing Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean restaurants and other plentiful food establishments in metro Los Angeles is no small feat. It was also obvious by the long line at the door that diners are willing to fly, drive, surf, parasail and carjack their way to Din Tai Fung for the privilege. I’m not kidding. I think I saw Crips and Bloods seated together at an adjoining table flashing gang colors and making hand signs I interpreted to mean “This is fricking awesome, man”. I would bet it’s the same at Din Tai Fung’s other locations including an outpost in Sydney Australia surrounded by Great White sharks and poisonous jellyfish. Such obstacles will not and do not deter determined Shanghai dumpling devotees. Real food fanatics, much like star crossed lovers are more than willing to persevere and take unusual risks for love… or in this case, lunch.
To me, it’s quite often the simplicity and compactness of a dish (or even of a person) and some initial hint (whiff) of their uniqueness (true essence) that first casts it’s magic spell. I only know that in my world (the domain of psychology) we call that attribute “coherence”, a seemingly divine aspect which when nurtured properly  leads to not only happiness but also a profound sense of satisfaction. That in a nut shell is what made me surrender my ego and swear an oath of allegiance to Din Tai Fung.  Alas, now I am hooked like some forlorn suitor and Don Quijote-like food junkie who not only dreamt his “impossible dumpling dream” but ended up falling in love and left the restaurant both supremely satisfied but also wanting more like some culinary crack addict. Yes I said love.  Love starts in the heart but germinates, grows and gives forth it’s very best fruit (or amazingly flavorful chao fan fried rice) in a consciously cultivated garden of delight. If my one-of-a-kind brother Neal is correct and life truly is a “bountiful feast” meant to be enjoyed with Zorba-the-Greek like Epicurean gusto, then Din Tai Fung has certainly earned it’s place at the communal dining table. If that sounds a tad exaggerated, exotic, erotic or esoteric then so be it.  Din Tai Fung is all of those things and more. As I fly back to Atlanta I can only close my eyes and savor the memories while hoping to return someday soon to once again experience love in the form of truly authentic Shanghai dumplings ….at Din Tai Fung.
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Claire Mazer and the Talking Unicorn

Lady and the Unicorn


by Cliff Mazer, Ph.D., aka CaptCliff

We live in what’s now called a quantum universe. While that means nothing to most people, to others it denotes something extremely complex and exciting ( typically folks with large brains who enjoy listening to Neil Degrasse Tyson and watching The Big Bang Theory). The rest of us bird-brain types whose lives and grey matter toil towards the middle of the bell-shaped curve have to try extra hard to grasp the significance of quantum mechanics.


Quantum theory postulates (theoretically) that there are endless number of “realities” and endless dimensions of probabilistic possibility where infinite versions of ourselves exist in space/time unseen by one another. The people we think we are (like the guy Cliff writing this blog) are only one version of us based on the unique ways our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and experiences have shaped (and been shaped) by our sensory perceptions. In so doing, we continually reinforce what we believe we see, smell, touch, hear, etc.  In other words, most things are “real”, “believable” and “concrete” to us only because we have convinced ourselves of it based on repeated interactions and multi-sensory experiences as well as what is sometimes called “consensual reality” (what others see and together we all choose to believe). This includes simple things like believing that that thing over there is a “chair” or that I just brushed my teeth with what we all probably agree is a “toothbrush”. However, if there was somebody here who had never ever heard of or seen a toothbrush or chair or anything at all like it, he wouldn’t immediately know what those things were and very likely wouldn’t even “understand” or be able to process what he thought he saw  if we showed him those exact objects. Even more remarkable (besides his really bad breath from having not yet discovered toothbrushes or toothpaste) the objects we show him that we take for granted to be chairs and toothbrushes might appear completely different or nonsensical to his innocent eyes and unfamiliar optical lens. In other words those objects might look nothing like what we normally see when we look at a chair or a toothbrush. It’s a tad bit like doing psychedelic drugs like LSD which mess with our brain and chemical receptors just enough to give us a glimpse of what its like to see the world in a vastly different way based on what we know and don’t know already. One advantage to getting glimpses of such “non-ordinary” or altered reality is that it reminds us just how “soft” and malleable so-called “reality” really is.      Of course if you are a very scared, close-minded or rigid person and need the world to be “solid”, “fixed, and familiar” then taking such a drug would probably freak you out or it might just give you a bad headache and nothing else because your brain would use “fuzzy logic” to keep “resetting” things back to what it’s used to seeing and believing.  I imagine if my dad, Robert Mazer, a chemical engineer by trade and training took LSD he would probably just get a slight headache and some indigestion, pop a few Tums and go to bed…and not notice the TALKING UNICORN in his closet that had a number of illuminating and esoteric ideas to discuss with him about his mother, his childhood experiences in Milwaukee Wisconsin, and possibly God and the entire Cosmos. I might be wrong about that speculation. It’s just a guess just like it’s my hunch that my mother Claire Mazer (especially if she was still young and vibrant and not the old lady version with multiple hip replacements, painful osteoarthritis, severe bipolar illness and dementia) after taking LSD would begin noticing some interesting changes occurring to the various Native American paintings on the walls of her condo in Longboat Key Florida and about an hour or so later might be seen riding down to the beach on a talking unicorn without any clothes on. I might be wrong about that too but it’s what some would call an educated guess.


The other day was my mother’s Yahrzeit. She passed away on August 10, 2016.  It’s been a long tough year for me since she died and I don’t think I’ve thought about her or allowed myself to truly feel the significance of her passing nearly enough. Maybe if I did I would have avoided some of the pointless pitfalls and maddening misfortunes that followed not long after I became a card carrying member of the “Both My Parents are Gone” club. Some of the “stories” we tell ourselves and carry as our “absolute reality” based on past experience and what we think we saw, heard or interpreted in a certain way probably need to be reconsidered or even changed. Like our computers and cellphones, our mental programs require ongoing updates and pragmatic “patches” that allow for uncertainty and continued growth. It’s generally not a good idea to become too rigid, too certain or too “absolute” about anything, especially in a quantum world. Luckily there will be “billions and billions” of other Carl Sagan like opportunities to get it right based on quantum probability, serendipity, and the human capacity to see past our ego-based illusions. I say this both for myself and for all the CaptCliff permutations in infinite dimensions who like me are probably stumbling around the multiverse doing many of the same dumb things I tend to do like putting my t-shirt on backwards (again), losing my car keys (look in your hand dummy) and having single socks disappear into some dark matter/black hole located directly behind the laundry room dryer… again and again and again.

Mom, I hope you had a fun ride on the TALKING UNICORN and please do enjoy the lunar eclipse next week and the Perseid meteor shower tonight and tomorrow. They say it’s going to be absolutely heavenly.   Love, Cliff

Unicorn Symbolism ~ Mythology & Meaning. . .  Legend and Lore 

The symbolic meaning of The Unicorn is all about Opening up to Infinite Possibilities and that infinite possibilities surround you and are available to you at all times.  Many times we cannot see that possibilities abound, or even exist. Unicorn gives us the “eyes to see” those hidden possibilities, and “the wisdom” to take advantage of them.

Spiritually the Unicorn symbolizes success. If you summon the power of the Unicorn, the Unicorn will give you the blessings to be a success in whatever you choose to pursue.

Unicorn is the symbol of the most magical of all animals! The Unicorn can shift between the visible world and the invisible world easily like walking from the shore of a beach, into the sea for a refreshing swim, and back to the shore to sun itself on the sand.

The ancient myth and lore of the Unicorn speaks of original innocence, purity, grace and mystical healing powers.  To touch or be touched by the horn of the Unicorn can bring total and complete healing.  The healing of the Unicorn brings everything in mind, body and soul into renewed perfect balance. 


Unicorn Symbolism:
Unicorn’s Magical ~&~ Mythical Powers. . . 

Unicorn brings the gifts of:
all possibilities, wisdom, and the clever pursuit of dreams 
Unicorn totem brings the magic of:
Magical Manifestation, Summoning of Dreams, Calling Upon The Universe For All Answers
Unicorn spirit animal brings the energies of:
transmutation  (passing through of boundaries ), spiritual sight ( to see past all ego based illusions, until the deep truth is revealed ), manifestation ( to bring all that you imagine into reality
The Musée de Cluny, also known as the Musée national du Moyen Âge, is housed in one of the oldest buildings in Paris, a former townhouse whose construction started in 1334. Yet beneath it is something even older: the ruins of Gallo-Roman thermal baths believed to have been used by 3rd-century boatmen.
Inside the museum is a vast presentation of medieval life through sculptures, furnishings, stained glass, and manuscripts. The most significant objects are a group of Middle Ages tapestries known as “The Lady and the Unicorn.” Woven from wool and silk, five of the tapestries fixate on the five human senses, with a woman interacting with a unicorn, as well as a lion and sometimes a monkey. For example, in the “sight” related tapestry she holds up a mirror to the unicorn which looks at its gaze, possibly admiring its beautiful reflection. In “touch” she has her hand on the unicorn’s horn.
The sixth tapestry remains more of a mystery with its text ”À Mon Seul Désir” (“To my only desire”) interpreted most frequently as a personal declaration of independence or purity. No matter the meaning, it’s hard to escape the charms of the strangely captivating unicorn as it confidently poses through the scenes.
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Bags of Balinese Dicks




The Balinese people are a sweet, kind, artistically inclined populace. They paint, sculpt, carve wood, dance, and mass produce thousands of colorfully decorated penises for the tourist trade. Yes I said penises. I cant say I know the cultural or religious significance of these ubiquitous phallic symbols. Nor do I really know why foreign visitors need so many cock shaped bottle openers in various sizes and colors but nevertheless they hang prominently and quite realistically in the markets and make-shift stalls of many venders throughout the countryside. Maybe it’s a fertility thing or maybe like in Imperial Rome they’re meant to ward off bad luck and counter the “evil eye”, Kinnehora! Either way it’s a startling sight seeing pasty white tourists in beachwear and sunburned middle-aged Aussies shlepping down the streets of Benspasar carrying a bottle of SPF50 sunscreen in one hand and a bag of Balinese wood dicks in the other.

Of course, CaptCliff with his non-stop creativity compulsion, custom pipe craftsmanship and entrepreneurial spirit couldn’t help but see a unique business opportunity. I decided to engage in peace pipe “alchemy”. I would turn lewd Balinese bottle openers into one-of-a kind penis pipes for my growing pipe art collection in Atlanta. While the other foreigners and hotel guests were being relentlessly accosted by street vendors and hassled to buy novelty items and tourist crap they really don’t need or want, I would accost the same Balinese vendors and sell them the Chinese fidget spinners I bought for $5 at a Sandy Springs garage sale the week before…and guess what? Mission accomplished!  For 12 zillion rupiah ($35) I closed the deal with the first  stall vendor I spoke with. I told him and sold him my “one-of-a-kind” American fidget spinners even tho there were 6 of them all exactly the same and all bearing “Made in Hong Kong” stickers on the bottom of each box. My Australian muse/partner in crime Debbie preferred the word “bamboozled” or “swindled” to “sold” but whatever….Then I bought a “sample pack” of small Balinese bottle opener penises from the same guy including a much larger anatomically correct black wood penis which I made him throw in for free at the end just to sweeten the deal. My idea was to take my bag of Balinese dicks back to the resort hotel and figure out how to extract the cheap but firmly installed metal bottle opener part off the balls (“berry”) end of the twig and berries item without causing a catastrophic injury to the wooden shaft. Breaking the shaft would have been somewhat akin to what can and does occur occasionally when acrobatically-inclined young people engage in excessively vigorous sex acts including the notorious “reverse cowboy” sexual intercourse position. Being a sex therapist as well as a legendary artiste ( solely in my own mind) I know that penises don’t actually break in two but wooden reproductions very possibly could. Luckily this is not my first rodeo in either arena so I knew what had to be done. Plus I am also a vasectomy survivor who went through the surgical procedure many years ago and suffered no ill effects besides recurrent PTSD nightmares involving my testicles and some guy with ginormous landscaping shears from Home Depot..  Paging Sigmund Freud….. Unfortunately I hadn’t thought to bring any of my specialized wooden penis bottle opener extractors or Black and Decker power tools on vacation with me. On the other hand, the housekeeping staff at the hotel have a standard policy of always asking guests, “Is there anything I can do to help you, sir?”  I admit to hesitating for only three seconds before “plunging in” so to speak. The irony and “bent” humor of having some sweet young Balinese boy and wholesome housekeeper (named Saran) fetch a pair of pliers and do bound and determined battle with the metal bottle opener end of a large wooden dick in front of the resort swimming pool and health spa was almost too much for me… so naturally I filmed the whole thing for posterity.  
Here it is:
Video to be uploaded (as soon as I find a technologically proficient Balinese teenager to do it for me)


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Out of the Ashes I Rise

Out of the ashes I rise. I am preparing for a two week trip to Bali on Saturday to meet a pen pal from Melbourne.  Son #2 (Eli) has taken electric sheep shears (rented from the Tool Shed at Home Depot) to my entire old man hairy body and created a large mound of …you don’t even want to know. Even the dog won’t get near it. Let’s just say there’s a sweet child with cancer somewhere that will soon be fit for a large Jew-fro made completely from authentic Baby Boomer back hair. That’s right. Baby got back (hair). Eww.
The beard is newly dyed (Just for Men, Light Brown). I was told to do this body prep ritual because the Balinese are unusually kind, soft-hearted, gentle and spiritual people. The very sight of an older White Man with copious back and shoulder hair scares them unnecessarily and reminds them of a nameless mythical creature said to haunt their dreams.  Apparently the demon looks a lot like the weird looking bat thingy in “Jeepers Creepers” that kills obnoxious teenagers and uses their severed heads as spare parts for it’s totally hideous body. In my case the beast has the body of an aging social worker and the head of a Jew-bu Pirate/biker wannabe with  hearing loss and tinnitus. Now if only I can find my dozen prescription medicines, my fungus creme and the Japanese product my SF friends gave me that when put in the toilet in an amount as minute as a single drop masks the odor of anything from human excrement to a rotting fully dismembered water buffalo….not that I’m planning on doing anything strange with a water buffalo in Bali. It’s just that my mother Claire Mazer always said there are two things human beings cannot and should not consider living without: extra paper towels and a fully functioning bathroom fan. I agree with her completely and try to live by her wise counsel. If you’ve read my recent “CaptCliff and Tinkerbell” blog then you have seen and heard me at my very lowest. Now it is time for me to rise to the occasion.
Thanks to CaptCliff’s psychological near-death experience (see previous blog) and  proprietary “Dumpee, Divorce and Depression Diet (DDDD) I have once again lost 10 lbs and while not exactly “sleek” or svelte my nipples appear to be drooping somewhat less than usual. As a scientist and sex therapist I’m also aware that looking down on ones “manhood” (called “foreshortening” in the sex therapy business) like many other self-evaluations represents nothing more than an artifact of ones limited perspective . Hell, the same thing may be true about our view of the world and of ourselves at any given moment in time. Life is truly bigger than the sum of it’s parts. Hence, I don’t want to “foreshorten” myself at this important life stage. I am getting a little sick of myself but there’s not much I can do about that.  Summary:  Maybe there is still hope and time enough to do as Tom Robbins the author said , ie. “it’s never too late to change your childhood”
Regardless, I CaptCliff, faux Jewish Pirate, web blogger, peace-pipe maker, compulsive home remodeler, therapist (who sometimes can’t fix his own psychotherapeutic toilet)…aka Cliff Mazer, Ph.D., prepare now to “sally forth” to Denspasar Bali, a flight of over 22 hours from LA. It is an airplane marathon that I hope to survive by 1) not being seated next to a morbidly obese person with bad gas and 2)  self-administering a variation of the Michael Jackson sleeping cure (minus the death, grisly tabloids photos and funeral). As the song goes in the movie (and show) Bye Bye Birdy……….”I’ve Got a Lot of Living To Do”. The video below tells you everything you need to know….
Bye Bye Birdie:
Peace Out My Loyal Peeps. See you on the backside Balinese style.
Tom Robbins relevant quotes:
 1)  We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love.
 2)  We’re our own dragons as well as our own heroes, and we often have to rescue ourselves from ourselves.  (I keep forgetting #2 and then remembering it but on the other hand I know plenty people that never seem grasp that concept at all).     
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Emess: The Unvarnished Truth


  • When I think about being REALLY honest (truthful) with myself and with others I think of the Yiddish word Emess. Two sources for the word emess come to mind: 1) my mother who would always say “It’s the Emess”, when she either told the truth, lied or more likely didn’t know she was not being truthful/lying and instead completely made shit up (confabulation) out of thin air and 2) from the late great comedian Lenny Bruce who would tell the most outrageous and unbelievable stories, all while swearing up and down that they were absolutely true…and usually they WERE! Poor Lenny, toward the end of his unfortunate comedic life became a Lenny Bruce comedy routine himself and even worse, a sad not very funny one. During his criminal trial for obscenity, he jumped up out of his chair as an undercover cop was describing his comedy routine and tried to inject humorous Emessness into the proceeding by yelling “I object! He’s stealing my routine and not paying me for it.” Lenny became a quasi- scholar of the law as a result of all the unfair persecution against him and it’s often unjust application, and he worshipped (with tongue in cheek) its linguistic complexity even as it was destroying him. As he pored through legal statutes and page after page of its complicated legalese jargon, he remained in awe of its apparent “Majesty”.

The essence of EMESSNESS is often how there is immense ridiculousness and remarkable absurdity underneath the garb of seriousness and objectivity in our society. Its the “stuff” in life that makes you drop your head in disbelief and mutter to yourself, “I can’t fucking believe this…”   It’s a concept liberally sprinkled throughout the very best Coen Brothers movies, especially ones like, “A Serious Man”.

Emmis or Emess simply means The Truth, the Real Truth. Here I’m not talking about revealed truth like some Kabbalist or Biblical Fundamentalist. Nor am I referring to even some kind of eternal truth, just the plain, easily verifiable but often bizarre truth about the real world and all the amazingly absurd situations we encounter. Of course that includes all the nutty contradictory people in it, including our family members and  ourselves. Real honesty and outspoken truth telling is something often talked about and seemingly valued but rarely realized. Most often it’s not realized because the truth hurts and denial is an easier road to hoe for most people. To me Jesus probably should have really said, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they have done. They are in denial and they prefer it that way”.


Some people such as myself absolutely revel in ludicrousness and contradiction but in the end prefer the real emess.  Translation: Life and the so called truth are often complex phenomena like a complex crossword puzzle but most people prefer to resolve complexity by reflexively going along with their own prejudices, their self-centered interests and biased perspectives (one side of a multi-sided coin) or even worse basing their beliefs solely on a simple but pronounced (rather than profound) feeling/emotion…… Feelings? Nothing more than feeling?  Summary:  Raw unfiltered emotion is not usually recommended as the very best way to do business, elect an American President or judge someones innocence or guilt……and yet we all do it practically every day of our lives and often without ever looking back in the rearview mirror to see if maybe we made a big “boo-boo”. There’s actually a ginormous shitpile of boo-boos out there….. some of course much worse than others.

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