A Cedar Chopper's Goat Rodeo

Austin Dispatches No. 219 Aug. 19, 2019


At my annual checkup, I told my doctor my health is fine. Rather, my foremost problems are external, and ultimately categorizable as issues of money, or lack thereof.


These problems include:


1.    Petty inconveniences stand-up comics mine for material,[1] e.g., finding out Hershey shrunk its standard-size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which means I’m getting ripped off at point of purchase, so consuming them isn’t even worth the sin anymore.[2] At least the product still exists. Many more durable items I want to buy have been discontinued. For a minor example, The Container Store stopped selling a $1 basic plastic coin holder I intended to replace one I accidentally broke.

2.    Being unable to justify spending money on something given my existing finances at a given time, e.g., buying a house in the suburbs to escape the neighborhood before the soccer stadium makes it impassable.[3] Unfortunately, doing so’s contingent on other people making the correct decisions promptly, i.e., hiring me now so I can demonstrate higher wage income on my loan application to obtain a sufficient amount to pay for something that doesn’t look like drunkards slapped it together over a weekend. Then again, even hovels cost a lot in this metro. On one hand, the number of job openings and inquiries from recruiters continues at the same pace since early 2018. On the other hand, I keep reading business stories about an impending recession.[4] I half suspect employers plant those stories to manipulate prospective hires into accepting lower wages. Regardless, software companies really need to take better care naming their products. Recently, I applied at a company that wanted experience with Jive.[5] The jive turkeys didn’t hire.[6]

3.    Problems in the formal sense, e.g., trying to find a publicly traded company that’ll be a profitable investment. Once you learn basic techniques of evaluating and trading securities, many companies fail as prospects when you examine their numbers.[7] Then the main question becomes how they’ve managed to stay in business.


In other words, problems shared by many, including my doctor. But as with enduring the flu, that doesn’t make me feel any better.


I’ve roughly estimated I could own everything tangible that I want for somewhere between $1 million and $2 million. Granted, the amount is some magnitude greater than required to buy a pack of gum – assuming the brand hasn’t shrunk or been discontinued – but the amount is quantifiable, finite, and still quite modest compared to how other people live or would like to live. Think of the Johnson & Johnson heir’s air-conditioned dog kennels contributing to a monthly electric bill of $52,000;[8] or of how in 2016, Jeb Bush burned through $130 million of other people’s money without anything to show for it.[9] Of course, those sums I quoted could be smaller if we had sound money, rather than inflation running higher than the official rate.[10]


Austin Death Watch


The local country-fried pinko mentality around here isn’t helping. There’s still a lingering attitude that “[w]orking for free was OK as long as the work was something that you believe in, cared about, or enjoyed doing,”[10] and that merely experiencing Austin is somehow adequate compensation.


In reality, the Texas Education Agency, which once failed to hire me for a contract, flunked multiple Austin schools.[11] The Travis County commissioners voted pay raises for themselves and other county officials.[12]


Kerbey Your Enthusiasm


Medics rushed a Domain bar stabbing victim to the hospital early July 28.[13] A driver injured a pedestrian at Metric Boulevard and West Parmer Lane on Aug. 12.[14] On Aug. 3, I witnessed the aftermath of a traffic incident near Duval Road and the MoPac Expressway southbound frontage lane. On Aug. 15, I witnessed the aftermath of a collision on the MoPac southbound frontage that jammed up MoPac traffic between Cedar Bend Drive and Duval. A July 21 morning power surge knocked out the traffic lights on the Duval overpass. KXAN-TV’s traffic Web page recorded a collision at the MoPac frontage road and Palm Way on July 22, and at Braker Lane and Metric on July 23.


Big Daddy’s Burgers, which once gave me bad service, closed.[15] The July Community Impact Newspaper reports Kerbey Lane Café – an overrated eatery staffed by people proving that a Ph.D qualifies them to sling hash for aging, obese hipsters – will once again attempt to build a new location on Braker next to the post office, later this year.[16] The June Waterways includes a feature on the “brewery district” in the neighborhood.[17]


On July 26, I found a penny at the neighborhood H-E-B.


Cultural Canapés


Quentin Tarantino’s oeuvre has been uneven in this century, but his new movie, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” prompted me to attend a theater for the first time in about six years to see it opening day.[18] Then, first-run matinee tickets cost about $6-7. This ticket, at Alamo Drafthouse Village, cost $11.35! Fortunately, the flick was worth it, even though the main characters’ fretting their careers have peaked did nothing to distract me from my problems (see above). Also, Tarantino does cinematically what I’ve attempted with text and hyperlinks: to immerse the audience in a recreation of particular times.[19]


Of note, for about 25-30 years, I was dismissive of actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, and films I watched were in spite of them, even when they starred. But after viewing the new movie, I realized each has appeared in challenging cinematic art in recent years – possibly because they can’t bear the thought of someone like me regarding them as mere Hollywood pretty boys.[20] Therefore, I’ll no longer automatically dismiss them.


Some post-Thirteener Chronicalista reviewer waxes nostalgic in a way that undermines the paper’s editorial position since its founding.[21] Quoth the reviewer: “Perhaps it’s our exhausting social climate, where oppression weighs heavily on the mind of any sensible adult, that played a role in the rise of recent 1980s nostalgia….”[22] The socialist Boomeroids who still run the Chronicle must’ve nodded off to let that into the Aug. 16 issue. Otherwise, the reviewer would know that for the Chronicle, the ‘80s represent a dark time politically and culturally – and one not redeemed by President Trump’s nostalgia for the era.[23]


If Trump spoke against hitting one’s own head with a hammer, the Chronicle staffers would defiantly split their skulls. “Orange Man bad!” Wap! Wap! Wap! “Impeachment now!” Wap! Wap! Wap! But since they understand the ‘80s no better than they understand anything else, they couldn’t do any real damage.




Speaking of Trump, a local theater held a “staged reading” of the Mueller Report.[24] Boffo box office it ain’t. I tried reading it online upon release, but after 25 pages of rehashed claims and accusations of Russian “collusion” for the past three years, in bureaucratic prose, I quit.[25] The report author(s) didn’t even invent something dramatic, like Trump bellowing at underlings to stonewall the investigation while kicking a small, crippled child, prone and cowering on the Oval Office carpet, whose mother, a single immigrant of color, was overdue paying rent for a Trump-owned apartment. The report wasn’t even as lively as journalists’ exposes since 2016 that read like a cross between Beltway wishful thinking and a hack paperback political thriller. Many such cases![26]


Besides, the Mueller report is so March 2019. Last month, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted against impeachment.[27] Obviously, a lot of powerful people really hate Trump. Thought they’ve succeeded in blunting his publicly stated agenda, they can’t get rid of him despite their strenuous efforts.[28] All this raises embarrassing questions for them. Foremost, why can’t they do any better?


Offhand, I can think of several broad possibilities:


·       The members of the power elite just aren’t as competent as their predecessors.

·       They really don’t have any dirt on Trump that can justify impeachment and worse.

·       The do have dirt on him, but they can’t use it without implicating themselves.

·       Trump has worse dirt on them than they have on him.


Beyond such speculative skullduggery is another factor that I’ve not seen considered. In school terms, Trump is a jock, class clown, rich kid, and big man on campus rolled into one, but his most passionate detractors, who’d be dorks, dweebs, grinds, apple polishers and goody two-shoes, are trying to recast him as a weirdo pariah. I never saw that strategy used in 12 years of government school, and I’ve never seen it applied in politics until now. In short, it seems like a severely flawed strategy, which may account for why Trump is still in office.[29]


Business Roundup


The nearest Sprouts grocery has begun carrying frozen entrees from renowned New York Italian restaurant Rao’s.[30] I can proclaim the chicken alfredo, the chicken parmesan and the meatballs in marinara sauce to subtly be the best prepackaged Italian food I’ve ever sampled.


The July Community Impact Newspaper reports Whataburger is under new ownership and new management.[31]


On the Town


Aug. 13: By chance, I witnessed some of the McCallum High School marching band's rehearsal –  which is more than I did when I attended high school.


Aug. 16: A produce truck ran a red light at the Burnet Road-Rockwood Lane intersection. A cop at the same intersection who witnessed it did nothing.

Home Archives


[1] Carter, Judy. Stand-Up Comedy: The Book. New York City: Delta, 1989.

[2] Gleiter, Sue. “Hershey Downsizes Calorie Count.” The (Harrisburg, Pa.) Patriot-News 27 Apr. 2017: A16.

[3] AD No. 215 (March 15, 2019); AD No. 218 (July 15, 2019).

[4] Rees, Tom. “Equities Tumble As Global Bond Yields ‘Scream Recession.’ ” The Daily Telegraph 15 Aug. 2019: 27.

[5] Raffaelli, Claire Magat. Jive Software. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Graduate School of Business, 2009.

[6] Spears, Richard. Slang American Style: More Than 10,000 Ways to Talk the Talk. Lincolnwood, Ill.: NTC Publishing Group, 1997: 505.

[7] Casey, Douglas R. Crisis Investing for the Rest of the ‘90s, rev. ed. New York City: Birch Lane Press/Carol Publishing Group, 1993; Casey, and Louis James. Right on the Money: Doug Casey on Economics, Investing, and the Ways of the Real World. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2014; Fisher, Ken, Jennifer Chou, and Lara Hoffmans. The Only Three Questions That Count: Investing by Knowing What Others Don’t. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2007; Kansas, Dave. The Wall Street Journal Complete Money & Investing Guidebook. New York City: Three Rivers Press, 2005; Lynch, Peter, and John Rothchild. One Up on Wall Street: How to Use What You Already Know to Make Money in the Market, rev. ed. New York City: Simon & Schuster, 2000; O’Neil, William J. How to Make Money in Stocks: A Winning System in Good Times or Bad, 3rd rev. ed. New York City: McGraw-Hill, 2010; Klarman, Seth A. Margin of Safety: Risk-Adverse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor. New York City: HarperBusiness, 1991.

[10] AD No. 128 (Nov. 7, 2009).

[8] Oppenheimer, Jerry. Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal, and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty. New York City: St. Martin's Press, 2013: 115.

[9] Confessore, Nicholas, and Sarah Cohen. “How Bush Spent $130 Million With Nothing to Show for It.” NYT 23 Feb. 2016: A18.

[10] Mankiw, N. Gregory, and Mark P. Taylor. Economics. London: Thomson, 2006: 495.

[10] Patoski, Joe Nick. Austin to ATX: The Hippies, Pickers, Slackers & Geeks Who Transformed the Capital of Texas. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M UP, 2019: 188.

[11] Taboada, Melissa B., and Julie Chang. “Multiple Schools Score F’s.” AAS 16 Aug. 2019: A1+.

[12] Mader, Lindsay Stafford. “Travis Leaders Give Themselves Raises.” AC 2 Aug. 2019: 9.

[13] Moreno-Lozano, Luz. “Man Seriously Injured in Stabbing at Domain Bar.” AAS 29 Jul. 2019: B3.

[14] Karacostas, Chase. “Driver Hits, Critically Injures Pedestrian.” AAS 13 Aug. 2019: B3.

[15] “Closings.” CIN, Northwest Austin ed.: Jul. 2019: 9.

[16] “Coming Soon.” CIN, Northwest Austin ed.: Jul. 2019: 9.

[17] Brzostowski, Cindy. “Don’t Worry, Beer Happy.” Waterways Jun. 2019: 62-63.

[18] AD No. 64 (May 1, 2004); AD No. 81 (July 7, 2005); AD No. 127 (Sep. 21, 2009); Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood. Bona Film Group/Heyday Films/Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE)/Visiona Romantica, 2019.

[19] AD No. 107 (April 12, 2008); AD No. 148 (Jan. 1, 2012); AD No. 182 (June 29, 2015); AD No. 206 (May 29, 2018).

[20] Pearlman, Cindy. "Brad Pitt's Seven Deadly Sins." CST 17 Sep. 1995: 1.

[21] Strauss, William, and Neil Howe. Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584-2069. New York City: William Morrow and Co., 1991.

[22] Gutierrez, Trey. “That! Big! 80s! Musical!” Review. AC 16 Aug. 2019: 32.

[23] Bump, Philip. “Donald Trump: The Perfect Candidate for the Reagan Era.” Washington Post.com 13 Aug. 2015 <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/08/13/donald-trump-the-perfect-candidate-for-1985/>; Malanowski, Jaime. “Trump Crawled out of the ‘80s.” USA Today.com 26 Oct. 2015 < https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/10/26/donald-trump-crawled-80s-presidential-ambition-column/74213102/>.

[24] “Theatre.” AC 16 Aug. 2019: 50.

[25] Mueller, Robert S. III. Report on the Investigation Into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, Vol. I-II. Washington, D.C.: United States. Department of Justice, 2019.

[26] D’Antonio, Michael. The Truth About Trump, rev. ed. New York City: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016; Harding, Luke. Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. New York City: Vintage Books. Rpt. Collusion: How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win the White House. London: Guardian Books/Faber & Faber, 2017; Isikoff, Michael, and David Corn. Russian Roulette:  The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. New York City: Twelve, 2018; Kranish, Michael, and Marc Fisher. Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President, rev. ed. New York City: Scribner, 2017; O’Brien, Timothy L. TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald, rev. ed. New York City: Grand Central Publishing, 2016; Unger, Craig. House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia. New York City: Dutton, 2018; Wolff, Michael. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. New York City: Henry Holt and Co., 2018; Woodward, Bob. Fear: Trump in the White House. New York City: Simon & Schuster, 2018.

[27] Hirschfeld-Davis, Julie et al. “Impeachment Bid Fizzles As Trump Escalates Attack.” NYT 18 Jul. 2019: A1+.

[28] Corsi, Jerome R. Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save President Trump. West Palm Beach, Fla.: Humanix Books, 2018; Sims, Cliff. Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House. New York City: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2019.

[29] Keyes, Ralph. Is There Life After High School? Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1976.

[30] Garcia, Joaquin “Jack,” and Michael Graubart Levin. Making Jack Falcone: An Undercover FBI Agent Takes Down a Mafia Family, rev. ed. New York City: Pocket Star Books, 2009: 80.

[31] “New Ownership.” CIN, Northwest Austin ed.: Jul. 2019: 9.