I’ll Tell Ya What’s Really Crazy

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In this crazy world it’s difficult to say who or what’s the MOST crazy. From media reports it certainly sounds as if there are more crazy people and lunatic types running around today than flavors of Baskin Robbins and Ben and Jerrys ice-cream combined. Trying to keep pace with all the viral videos of bad to totally bonkers behavior or remember the name of this weeks mass muderer is becoming near impossible even for a seasoned psychologist such as myself.  The big honchos in Clinical Psychiatry and Psychology in Washington DC (or wherever they keep the gold standard for insanity) have practically thrown in the towel. Even they can’t  keep tabs on all the new mental disorders crammed into the ever expanding newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Please don’t be offended by my casual use of slang because I am certainly including myself in the overall tally, somewhat like a Jewish person being allowed to tell an off-color Jewish joke, but only if he/she mentions that he/she is Jewish. That’s called providing someone some “slack”, something we also seem to be rapidly losing as things get crazier and crazier.
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Unfortunately I don’t have an all-encompassing single explanation for this explosion of irrational thinking and off-the-wall behavior occurring in society (or possibly even next door in ones seemingly safe traditional suburban subdivision). In my neighborhood, for example, they tend to make reasonable allowances for me and refer to me as that “funny bald eccentric shrink who thinks he’s a pirate”. Do they HAVE TO mention the bald part? The good news is that they all want to bring their kids over to see my pirate basement. That’s all well and good but at a broader level there is still much to be concerned about. Certainly the Internet, Facebook, social media (in general) and 24-hour cable news haven’t been of much assistance in helping people to remain sane in these highly stressful and perilous times. Furthermore, the digital revolution for all it’s Steve Jobs hype and interconnected gobbledygook may actually do more harm then good when it comes to providing the kind of tangible safety and felt security that mitigates mental illness. Ditto for the “digital age” having failed to keep it’s promise of encouraging the everyday computer user to become a “healthier human being” and a more “engaged” citizen physically, socially, spiritually, and intellectually. In reality it’s more like a mash-up of Wall-e, Westworld and Halloween 3 both online and outside, and practically nobody is getting 7-8 hours of “restorative” sleep each and every night.
 
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In the past, when most of the population worked on farms or in factories, people were generally too busy (or too tired) to develop unusually insane conspiracy theories or wacked-out delusions involving Jodie Foster, Vince Foster or Foster Grants. Plus, if you brought that crazy shit up at the dinner table, your mother, father or grandma would wack you with a large wooden spoon or worse. With more discretionary time on our ever-evolving (or devolving) Homo Sapien hands, the industrial revolution has now made it possible for us to plunk down in a comfy chair from IKEA and consume mass quantities of caffeinated energy drinks and packaged honey buns while watching 1000 stations of shallow “entertainment”, inane reality TV shows and informercials selling shiny objects and colorful “stuff” we don’t need. Who really needs 285 hunting knives or samurai swords in 15 different colors? Please don’t tell me. I don’t really want to know. Those who prefer to stay “well-informed” can choose between highly polarized TV news stations occupied by bombastic political pundits and failed stand-up comics (what’s with that?) or “science based” documentaries about Mermaids, Bigfoot, and Ancient Aliens. Similarly, access to the world wide web and the “internet of everything” (which includes the dark web and more pornography per band width than insects per square millimeter of dirt )makes it easy-peasy for people including those who were formerly isolated, disenfranchised, and socially alienated to “hook up”. Isn’t that a good thing? Not necessarily because now obviously sick and disturbed people like the serial killer Ed Gein (the actual prototype for Leatherface) who were far safer on their isolated farm in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin are able to “reach out” and form like-minded social support groups and “meet and greets”. Starbucks Coffee and finger foods anyone? Connectivity also allows these same individuals to access speculative podcasts with “shock jocks” acting like scientific authorities on topics ranging from alien abduction to changeling lizard men in Obama’s Oval office. Crazy people often only need one other crazy person to agree with their nutbag thinking to convince themselves of it’s absolute merit. We all need to learn how to tell certain friends and acquaintances, “Um, sorry but that’s fucking crazy”. All I can guess is that “epigenetic” changes in the human brain, meaning active mutations in the neurological and cortical structure are occurring as a result of living in a continuously stressful, topsy-turvy and crazy-making world, one in which “up is now down” and down seems to have no bottom. One or two small examples would be college students now violently protesting AGAINST free speech on campuses and “trigger warnings” on classical literature.  
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If I’m allowed to expand my only slightly paranoid theory (Disclaimer: currently lacking any empirical support or a double-blind peer-reviewed academic journal article) let me put it this way:  if the goal is to make more and more unhinged crazy people in society, first you bombard the species with psychologically radioactive sound bites and computer bytes of stress-inducing news and traumatizing (or alternately empathy-habituating) videos depicting extreme violence, the decapitation of innocents and children, increasingly common episodes of road rage, suicide, etc….then you add a social climate characterized by fear and anxiety, status-seeking, narcissism, mistrust of others who are different and excessive conformity to limited and insular values and authoritarian leadership (rather than humanistic, cooperative and consensual cultural imperatives that are proven and PRAGMATIC). Finally you eschew education (both for children and adults) that promotes interior growth (within the self), self-awareness (emotional intelligence and introspection), and skills for social coping and psychological resilience. Hey, did I mention drug and alcohol abuse? Did I happen to include the over-utilization and excessive marketing of psychoactive prescription medications that are highly addictive, under supervised, mood-altering and rife with serious to life-threatening physical and emotional side effects? They are a big problem too….. a really big problem…. or as Donald Trump would say (one thing I actually do agree with him about) a really really “tremendous” problem. 
 
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Over time, the inevitable result of all the above-mentioned factors (and probably at least a dozen more unmentioned ones) is a crackpot/crockpot slow-boil recipe for societal disaster. At the very least together they may promote a certain kind of rapidly reproducing cultural meme-like form of social/emotional illness that is neither quiet nor primarily internalized, like say generic depression. Those with pharmacological expertise say the worse thing you can do is “energize” or “give legs” to a severely depressed person. What that really means on a practical level is that a very depressed person who may be considering suicide is safer depressed in bed until he starts to feel better than he is jacked up on Paxil or something else which if not properly supervised might actually trigger an actual suicidal attempt….or even murderous rage.  Now insert “radical religious ideology” or “crazy violent delusion” or dangerous sociopolitical belief for Paxil or Prozac.  Rather than suffer in silence, this special type of psycho wants his name in lights (or at least trending on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) and his self-controlled “detonation” (literally or figuratively) videotaped for posterity. We tend to assume (at least at first) that it was all about some political or extremist ideology, just another radicalized Islamic terrorist or pissed off intoxicated illegal alien with a criminal background, but have you noticed how often it is someone who is around 23 years old, minimally employed, and just broke up with his girlfriend? Often times we sort of knew or sensed he was somewhat weird, kept to himself alot, was socially unpopular and perhaps a bit “idiosyncratic” in his primary interests. We (helping professionals) tend to think maybe Aspergers, unresolved adolescent angst, or bipolar mania. The problem is that their primary interests have increasingly become learning how to make a nail bomb, collecting an impressive cache of automatic weapons (at the expense of much needed individual therapy, hot yoga, league bowling, craft beer or any other more innocuous and/or healthy social pursuit) and finally blowing up a packed concert full of teenaged fans, randomly shooting an innocent elderly man on the street or for some god-forsaken reason murdering their own family and then committing suicide while live-streaming it on Facebook. Now THATS crazy….and unfortunately we have something to do with it. Before you take that the wrong way…what I mean is we need to learn to better help ourselves and others including those outside our “bubble” of experience and the world at large. Most dead people, especially young dead people never get a chance to learn how to handle the uncomfortable truth that life is unpredictable and that there will be emotional pain, loss and inevitable failure. They don’t get to learn that we (the others in the world) can help each other and get better at understanding, listening, and being less judgmental of one another even if we happen to “disagree” on a number of issues. I keep saying this but I’ll say it again. I’m 63 years old going on 64. I’m a Clinical Psychologist with a Ph.D………but I myself have a long long way to go in improving on many of the things I just mentioned. I keep forgetting just like after one wakes up from a clear and lucid dream with an obvious and important message that is …gone in 5 minutes. Unfortunately, it’s often gone because I reflexively turned on the morning news, checked my iPhone or opened my laptop (god forbid if it’s not already fully charged) to get on Facebook….. either to argue partisan politics or attempt like some flaming narcissist to get more “likes” for being “oh so clever”…as if I’m 13 years old and not 63 going on decrepit. Kinda sad….
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Summary: Once again I apologize for my inability to be succinct. This time just hear my sincere plea. Help me to get outside of my self, my electronic addictions and ingrained e-societal habits that are gradually blunting my authenticity, my heart and my humanity. While I may be still “awake” from last nights dream (for some reason it had frogs in it) I know I will forget. Help me to not forget. I don’t want to be another numb or narcissistic “numbskull” (as my father would say) who can’t seem to see the sociocultural forest of the future from the psychological trees of today. Things gotta change. We are in this together….and sometimes “crazy” really means “wake the fuck up!”
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How to Make America Great Again: Nuke North Korea

How to Make America Great Again: Nuke North Korea Now!
by Cliff Mazer, Ph.D., aka CaptCliff

Disclaimer: I happen to be a Clinical Psychologist in Atlanta Georgia. That means it’s my job to understand people. I’m also a light in the loafers liberal who has difficulty grasping the mindset of the tweeting troubadour better known as Donald Trump. Unlike the majority of people I interact with I consistently found myself “at odds” with practically everything he espoused both as a presidential candidate and now as the “weird orange guy” who is our Commander-in-Chief.  At the same time, I perceive our society as a whole to be increasingly polarized and divided.  As a result, I really wanted to find a way to personally bridge this troubling political and psychological divide. I reasoned that just as marriage partners must learn to understand, overcome and appreciate their differences, members of opposing political parties and adherents of different sociopolitical viewpoints would be best-served to do the same. But how could this be accomplished? Many of us live and work in self-imposed geographic and/or demographic “bubbles”. More often than not we belong to social networks occupied by people relatively similar to ourselves. Homogeneity reinforces what psychologists call “group think”, the tendency of group members to adopt uniform beliefs over time, even if they are wholly irrational or dysfunctional. In addition, this separation or bifurcation of beliefs may be exacerbated by popular social media platforms like Facebook which give users the option of deleting or “unfriending” others with whom they disagree, dislike, etc.

I pondered long and hard how I might stifle my ego and socially programmed biases as an overeducated liberal-minded Jewish male of Baby Boomer age raised since birth to have reflexive empathy for the needy and less fortunate members of society.  I strategized on the various ways I might access my “other side”, meaning my normally repressed Dr. Strangelove rabid Republican shadow self.  A Vulcan mind meld was clearly not possible and getting the current POTUS or Sean Spicer to lay on my home-office therapy couch was out of the question due to security concerns (my own). As a result I was forced to come up with an admittedly controversial alternative solution to plumb the murky depths of Trump think. Always one to innovate and push the envelope of “participant-observer” research, I decided to artificially alter my own consciousness and temporarily “become” a Trump follower. After leaving a set of written instructions for my political alter-ego and briefly consulting with both of my token Trump supporter friends, I proceeded to hypnotize myself using guided imagery, mindful meditation, three very large rum and cokes and a handful of brain-numbing Benzodiazepines. In this way I temporarily assumed the identity of a Donald Trump acolyte and instructed my “Make America Great Again” Republican self to jot down his “top political priorities and core values” while in trance state, a controversial technique sometimes called automatic writing. Somewhat reminiscent of my recent pre-surgical colonoscopy appointment, I felt vaguely apprehensive, like Jeff Goldblum in the “The Fly” about to teleport himself (in his case accidentally) directly into the physical body and mental state of a creepy conscience-less hive-minded insect.

The written transcript below is verbatim what “TrumpCliff” wrote down using a standard #2 pencil and a reproduction feather quill pen I purchased on an 8th grade trip to Williamsburg Virginia. Don’t ask. I don’t know why he chose that implement. Strangely, during this automatic writing session and manic diatribe TrumCliff chain-smoked unfiltered Marlboro cigarettes (something I’ve never done in my life) and put them out in the palm of his own hand like G. Gordon Liddy of Watergate fame, rather than just use an ashtray or bottle top.  Since undertaking this  experiment (about a week ago) I’m already on my third tube of Neosporin for the still blistered burn mark on my (non-dominant) left hand and my house still smells of cheap Jamaican rum, unfiltered Marlboros and testosterone gel. I will leave the interpretation of the “raw data” to you, the reader. As a result of the experience, however, I will be busy resurrecting my 1960’s era fall-out shelter in my Pirate themed basement.
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TrumpCliff Transcript: Let me answer your libtarded questions by first saying this: As an alt-right supporter and Donald Trump surrogate (SS…get it?), I am generally more of an isolationist and NOT a knee jerk warmonger. I dont take going to war lightly and this is especially true if it involves me personally risking my own life, possibly losing a limb or ending up a quadraplegic without the ability to use of my golf clubs or genitalia. I also don’t support ANY military action that might result in higher state or federal taxes, even tho I dont pay any. Anybody who does is likely a schmuck who is not only unaware of pro-business corporate loopholes but also clueless in regards to the Cayman Islands. That being said, as a nation we must face some urgent political realities and do the right (selfish) American thing.

Donald Trump’s White House is in serious disarray. Failure to repeal Obamacare or stop the flow of illegal aliens or radicalized Democrats from ultra liberal states like Hawaii and California are threatening to derail the Trump presidency. I believe we desperately need the following: 1) a BIG POLITICAL WIN for the Republican Party and 2) a HUGE DECOY-DISTRACTION from all the intelligence and congressional sub-committees investigating WH ties to Russia and everywhere else in the near galaxy. Still unconfirmed reports of a video showing President Trump making out with his own daughter Ivanka are also worrisome although who could really blame him? She is so HOT!

Let me get to the real point. The Syrian missile strike was good but not good enough. I believe we are on the brink of war with North Korea. Every single American (with the exception of Dennis Rodman) is at risk given North Korea’s rogue status, nuclear capability, and unstable dwarf-ish leader, Kim Jong Sick-in-the-Head-Un. The North Korean populace themselves are so hungry and brainwashed that they dont even consider trying to import produce from American agricultural sources and they continue to disregard our warnings about the ill-effects of eating gluten-free diets. Even tho they do keep their body-fat ratio down due to starvation and forced exercise (not a bad idea) they still dont grasp the Ayn Rand logic of taking personal responsibility for their own health by working out regularly ONLY in a Crossfit affiliated gym, going to AMA accredited western-trained doctors paid to prescribe Big Pharma meds (not an acupuncturist, herbalist, or Tai Chi master) and eating nutritious fast food like Domino’s Pizza (Trump’s officially branded power meal). I’m saying it’s not completely their fault but they are still Commie savages with the kind of bad breath that makes you literally turn your head and go, “omg, eww!” How does anyone expect us to negotiate with heads of state or rag-tag military leaders reeking of charcoal, halitosis and kimchi? That kimchi stuff, by the way, is just rank, and I dont care if it’s “anti-inflammatory”. Obviously their leader is not.

Bottomline: I dont always agree with Dick Cheney and the NeoCon cabal but they might have been right about a few things including Iraq. Once again President Trump was on point from the very get-go about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and said so on Twitter at 4 AM, 5AM..and 6AM, etc. He said if we’re going to do it then don’t do it half-assed.  Translation: We should have just gone in there like ballbusters and taken the oil and good looking women and then NUKED THE REST TO HELL. The women alone would have been worth a fair amount of cash with their high cheekbones, exotic eyes and submissive attitudes (visualize Melania but much shorter). Now of course they are getting all “westernized” but not necessarily in a good way, i.e., all uppity and refusing to engage in arranged marriages like all of the Trumps. In fact its starting to look like a Hilary Clinton convention in the Middle East and that’s not even mentioning Bengazi or the puppet leaders and proxy regimes we BRIBED and PUT IN PLACE after very briefly consulting with the CIA and NSA. Dammit, we taught these people how to use deoderant soap and toilet paper! Before we got there they were still squatting and wiping their butts with their non-dominant hand. That’s why Trump doesn’t like to shake hands for Christ’s sake! Can you blame him? You can’t negotiate deals with religious lunatics who would rather use their cellphones as IED explosive triggers than cutting edge technology capable of playing games and sorting through Tinder profiles while simultaneously sexting high-resolution photos of your penis to people you’ve never met. We invented that! What a pitiful waste.

Let’s face it, you cant make a “silk purse from a sow’s ear” and the kind of folks who live in North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and certain parts of Florida and Georgia just cant be educated or rehabilitated. It’s like in my all time favorite movie “Deliverance” with Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight. If you turn your back on indigenous people with poor dental hygiene and no basic knowledge of college football they will basically fuck you in the ass…which goes right back to the sow’s ear analogy (insert hog call here). If you need one last related “bullet point” to get what I’m saying then get this: many of these foreigners absolutely REFUSE TO EAT BACON. Enuf said?

I believe I’ve made my case. You want to know my main “priority” libtard?

We need to man up and make a damn decision. Obama only got Bin Laden because key Republicans told him to pull the trigger or else they’d release his phony birth certificate and a video of him, Michelle, and Hilary working out naked in the White House private gym. According to confidential Breitbart sources, they’ve never seen a P90x routine quite like that even tho group sex on a weight bench and yoga mat bearing the Presidential seal might just qualify as a form of “resistence training”. Anyway we need to act RIGHT NOW and launch a preemptive military strike on Little Kim/Psy Weirdo and his North Korean sheeple people. I suggest we use a combination military tactic of Team America’s World Police (see video on You Tube) and Norman Schwartzkopf’s “Hail Mary” armored blitzkrieg from Desert Storm…. minus the cultural respect and religious tolerance. Passover or Easter Sunday would have been as good a day as any for D-Day. I doubt the North Koreans even know what an Easter egg or box of Matzah looks like. I realize General Schwartzkopf passed away in 2012 and therefore can’t physically lead the charge Patton-style but his manly body could be exhumed and mounted on the hood of the lead Humvee like in Mad Max Thunderdome. If that turns out to be legally or physically impossible then let Arnold Swartzenegger take his place. He still looks good for an old man, his name is similar, and the North Korean Dwarf King knows “Ah-nold” all too well from all the times he jerked off watching his live-action movies. Plus, Arnold can redeem himself for publicly criticizing the POTUS, shtupping the help while still married, getting caught, and then ADMITTING IT like a ginormous cuck. Couldn’t he afford an expensive smiling-while-lying defense lawyer like Johnny Cochran or Jose Baez for God sakes? I said Jose Baez (Casey Anthony’s slime-ball attorney) not Joan Baez, libtard.

My fellow Americans, I’m talking about a “Win-Win” situation for America and for our Commander-in-Chief, except for the fact that Korean women are not quite as good-looking as Persian chicks, that’s just my personal opinion. Finally if the liberal wimps in the audience think nuclear weapons are too “drastic” and are afraid of a little gamma radiation or a nuclear winter or two in retaliation keep in mind we now have MOABs (Mother of All Bombs) and “tactical” nuclear weapons in our military arsenal. We can bomb the shit out of them or nuke ’em in surgically precise missile strikes that will wipe out their ICBMs and shitty rat-infested cities while still keeping select shrines and Chinese built skyscrapers intact for our commercial use as legal gambling casinos and sex tourism destinations . Genius or what? I say “Nuke ’em Now”!

Team America Movie Trailer: https://youtu.be/RPBX47zSktc

P.S. Once we get there, forget swiping North Korea’s so-called nukes. There’s a good chance they dont work anyway. Israeli hackers already made sure of that. We really only want their land, their mineral resources, their women and their tourist attractions. Another Disneyland just outside Pyongyang would be just perfect if we can teach them to not piss or shit on the monorail or Main Street. They can keep all their stinky ass Kimchi.

Cliff Mazer, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist, Humorist, and Satirical Blogger living in Atlanta, Georgia. He loves all things Pirate. Contact: 404-932-7193

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Pirate-Style Home Remodeling

 

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When a somewhat narcissistic pirate-loving Clinical Psychologist with ADHD decided to remodel his traditional cedar-sided home in Atlanta Georgia beginning around Stardate 2000 A.D., all bets were off. As a single dad with three young sons and without benefit of intelligent feedback from a spouse, life partner, licensed architect or construction-related professionals of any kind, well-advised precepts of home improvement like “curb appeal”, cost/budget analysis and systematic planning/recordkeeping were tossed overboard in favor of better ideas like multiple man caves, treasure chests, poop decks and secret passageways. Architectural treatments that would appeal to feral children, Tom Hanks in the movie “Big” or anyone with more imagination than good sense gained immediate favor over lesser considerations such as how much money I had in the bank. How much money you might ask? Well, let’s just say that recouping my investment in time, man-hours and renovation dollars on resale is probably less likely today than Captain Ahab pulling into port dragging the Great White Whale behind him on a retractable doggy leash. I also now know why Hemingway chose to call his novel “Old Man and the Sea”. The weather-beaten old fisherman probably started out the trip as a much younger looking man with velvety soft hands, endless optimism and full head of hair. After his noble quest and humbling adventure I imagine he ended up looking more like me, a worn-out Mr. Potato Head very badly in need of a mani-pedi.  Speaking of dog leashes, I have three canines (two mini-dauchunds and a rescue black lab) and they especially love the poop deck and “use” it on a regular basis. Finally, if pirates are people both past and present who tend to reject convention, spurn traditional approaches or formal protocol, and have an abiding love of personal freedom and independence (sometimes even when that might not be a good idea) then my house could be considered CaptCliff’s flagship of architectural anarchy.
 
Over the course of my long (and still unfinished) remodeling adventure, several things became clear to me and are worth mentioning:
 
1) Renovations of this size and scope are not just a collection of finite tasks or ordinary home improvement projects like replacing a broken hanging lamp or changing out shag carpeting for hardwood floors. They are closer to epic ordeals and  life-death struggles worthy of their own opera…or at least a biopic documentary narrated by Werner Herzog. Like Timothy Treadway, the manic protagonist in Herzog’s “Grizzly Man” a guy who was literally consumed by his ill-fated love affair with wild Alaskan grizzly bears, I too failed to receive the kind of intensive psychiatric care or psychoactive medications that I probably needed before casually venturing out to tackle my overambitious if not downright quasi-suicidal objective. Like a Kamikaze pilot version of Walter Mitty, I was interested to find out what it would be like to not just immerse myself in a complete home remodel but do it basically all myself. If that wasn’t crazy enough, as a result of watching “Pickers”, “Flip This House” and other related (and probably completely phony) DIY cable television shows, I developed a peculiar delusion that I could accomplish this daunting task by using salvage materials, “sustainable” second-hand building materials and leftover items stacked up or slowly rotting in my basement. Yeah, I know. I should have been watching more episodes of “Intervention” and “Hoarders” instead. On the positive side, I was able to identify and diagnose myself as suffering from a new psychiatric disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Renovation Disorder (OCRD).
 
2) Death, destruction, entropy, and financial ruin lurk like a gathering of hungry ghosts around every home addition or sizable renovation project. That includes the ghost of some very well-known architects, designers and visionary builders like Frank Lloyd Wright whose own residence burned down not once but twice from arson, electrical issues and extremely bad karma. As a result, throughout the demolition, construction and remodeling I attempted to remain keenly aware of the need to stay focused and well organized. I also knew that there was a certain method to my idiosyncratic form of creative madness. Unfortunately that method along with my very best intentions became lost repeatedly (along with my car keys, drivers license, prescription glasses and wallet) under an enormous pile of important papers, unopened utility bills, hand-drawn renderings on napkins, certified mail, and mountain of purchase receipts from Home Depot and Lowes that came to resemble the aptly named Devil’s Tower in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” .
 
3) When one ends up taking forever to remodel their entire home, many popular design ideas and current trends come and go. Similarly, ones personal preferences often change because, well, people change as they get older and mature…or at least theoretically mature in my case. Certain things one never considered before suddenly begin to cross our mental “renovation radar screen” or are brought to our attention by deviously clever Facebook ads, Pinterest posts, etc. Through data mining, cookies and spyware these advertisers use personal information and demographics to “target” what they consider to be our most relevant and/or greatest consumer needs. By the way, am I the only person getting a spate of spam and pop-up commercials for Viagra, home catheters and adult-sized Depends diapers? Who knew that those battery-powered and electric chairs that take you up and down the stairs would start to look pretty good over time? Ditto with those walk-in bathtubs and thick stainless steel safety hand-rails. If anything, I came to view my original renovation design theme  ie. Southwest style, as morphing into a much more “international” architectural stew. I happen to like design features of a number of different cultures and exotic far-away places including Africa, Mexico, Hawaii, and the tropical Caribbean islands. As a result, it was natural for me to want to incorporate bits and pieces of these mentally magnetized flotsam/jetsam and ortgeist/zeitgeists into my slowly emerging melting pot pirate residence.
 
4) While the design components, architecture and interiors I chose over the years are highly individual and personal (particularly in terms of art and aesthetics) they also represent a genuine expression of my overall unusual, eccentric and now rather eclectic personality. Furthermore, because of who I am and what I do for a living (professionally speaking) my house attempts to communicate certain things to those brave souls who cross my glass-tiled threshold and “come aboard” symbolically speaking. This includes a number of  key insights, core values, and humanistic principles that I believe are fundamental to “positive pirate living” and living rooms. Such notions include relatively obvious concepts and instrumental values like seeking “peace” and “balance” in all things, maintaining a sense of humor with an appropriate amount of existential irony/sarcasm, and recognizing ones individuality, uniqueness and inherent value in an unusually superficial and materialistic “show-off” oriented society (think Kardashians, Trump, or literally any of the Wives of Wherever reality TV shows). Honestly I’ve already been there and done that and it didn’t make me very happy. At least my current home flaws and all makes me laugh quite often (mostly at myself) and reminds me of mankind’s repeated folly in thinking that human beings have complete control over anything from subcontractors to supernovas (or tsunamis for that matter). A very large home improvement project will most likely teach you this fundamental life lesson. Of course it’s also important to realize what a naive idiot and total fool you or I once were and then forgive yourself for it. That’s not all that different from learning to look back on and forgive oneself for their lost and/or reckless teenage years or even an embarrassing mid-life crisis in which a man I know thought he could restore a Jaguar XJ12 convertible in his garage even tho the classic car was in 378,298 pieces and he didn’t even have a garage door. True story and I am still missing a garage door…..
 
Hopefully my current home does succeed to tell an overwhelmingly human story (my own) that is artistic, entertaining and possibly even psychoeducational. As a therapist I learned that once you “plumb the depths” of most people they turn out to be relatively interesting characters and multi-faceted personalities. Without exception they ALL have a story to tell. Like Johnny Depp’s iconic Captain Jack Sparrow character who’s “rogue” persona and scoundrel personality is counterbalanced by a soft heart and rollicking sense of self-deprecating humor, most of us are a proprietary blend of positive, negative, and neutral human attributes. A complete or seamless integration of such disparate aspects of one’s “whole” self is not always possible, nor is it necessarily even desirable. Similarly, my house has many different parts, paths, levels and leitmotifs but with a few common identity-related themes woven throughout.
 
My never-ending renovation and 15 year (and counting) home improvement project not only mirrors my various contradictions and ADHD personality but also demonstrates my deep desire to improve myself, primarily from within. At 63 years old (and counting) my exterior or “curb appeal” has gone the way of my hippie-era long hair, bell-bottom jeans, and silver plated “ID bracelet” from 8th grade at Edgewood School in Highland Park, Illinois. In it’s place is a primarily “trial and error” lifetime that includes many memorable successes, miserable failures, heartbreaking losses, regrets, redemption, romance and resilience. Like my unfinished house and the many small cuttings of bamboo I planted in the untamed backyard, I have grown over the years and endured, at times bruised and bent but still not broken. Naturally, many of these dramatic themes are grist for the storytelling mill and as a result have ended up as major elements in practically every good pirate adventure novel, movie, catchy tune, and rum-soaked buccaneer tale told around a pub table or blazing campfire.
 
Admittedly, life as a kind of pirate parable and symbolic sea journey is not something that’s often seen or expressed throughout a grown man’s suburban residence in the leafy landlocked suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. That’s probably especially true when the homeowner happens to be a 60-something Jewish Psychologist who in real life gets seasick standing on a fishing pier or when riding in the backseat of a slow moving car. However, once authenticity and imagination are given the green light creatively speaking, one is free to do as they please. I chose to express myself and my inner pirate “CaptCliff” through a metaphoric never-ending voyage of self-discovery, through psuedo-nautical art, hand-crafted peace pipes, satirical sculptures, and through culturally diverse architectural spaces. If my very Jewish mother, Claire Mazer was still alive (God rest her soul) I could easily imagine her saying aloud, “Wouldn’t a few pieces of Judaica and a nice paintings from Safat or Jerusalem have sufficed?” Maybe it would have. Instead, I fearlessly (or foolishly) forged ahead and created a pirate style palace where form and function exist but are often superseded by personal meaning. Just like in my therapy practice, my home uses humor, metaphors, cultural symbols, and mental (cognitive)  “anchors” to express both a colorful life narrative and cautionary tale, depending on how you choose to look at it. I choose to see it as both sides of a gold coin with my name on it.
 
If my main goal in counseling is to help clients heal, grow and achieve better balance between mind, body and spirit, then my home intends to do the same but perhaps with my tongue more firmly planted in my cheek. By normal standards I realize one would have to be pretty “off the beam”, or different to custom design their primary domicile and largest financial asset in this way rather than just go to IKEA or call a licensed and bonded designer/architect/contractor. However, Cliff Mazer the Psychologist and CaptCliff the faux pirate both happen to believe that our “authentic self “(through the unfolding creative process and the passionate pursuit of wisdom) is not only the essential and enthusiastic spark of life that is so evident in small children (but too often lost over time) but also the real “buried treasure” that we seek whether we realize it or not. Making my house an honest expression of my dreams and youthful imagination (including my Captain Jack Sparrow-ish alter-ego) and a gallery/showplace in which to display my wonderful but not-so-perfect life story has been an ever-entertaining, exciting, and ego-humbling experience. Of course, on the other hand …or other side of the coin, finding real buried treasure in the form of Spanish gold or silver doubloons, shiny jewels and other awesome pirate booty on a beautiful far away tropical island would also be amazing too!
 
Cliff Mazer, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist living in Sandy Springs, Georgia. He has three grown sons and three female dogs. His favorite Halloween costume growing up in Highland Park, Illinois was a hand-made pirate costume and plastic sword. Contact: 404-932-7193 His blog can be found at https://captaincliff.wordpress.com
 
Addendum: Eventually I intend to offer my home and the purely pirate basement level as a community space for free pancakes and pirate-related learning, personal myth and meaning scavenger hunts, a Titanic existential “escape room” and specialized theme Airbnb hotel/hostel.
 
Soundtrack:  Teach Your Children Well
You, who are on the road must have a code that you can live by.
And so become yourself because the past is just a good bye.
Teach your children well, their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they pick’s the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.
And you, of tender years can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth, they seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well, their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they pick’s the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

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Trip Advisor Review: Gus’s World Famous Spicy Fried Chicken

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One of the downsides of being a semi-retired psychologist and part-time Pirate is that you can become lazy and/or complacent about “venturing forth” to try out new places to eat. Let’s just say the A (Adventure) in an aging suburban pirate’s life can get a bit stale. On the positive side,  you can stay in your fuzzy robe and slippers all day long and decide to do the dishes tomorrow…or even the day after.

Loath that I am to leave my self-imposed suburban Atlanta bubble, imagine my surprise when I saw they were putting in a Gus’s World Famous Spicy Fried Chicken location not even a mile from my pirate ship/survival bunker/money pit/ haunted house in Sandy Springs. It replaces the dearly departed Clay’s Pub which was a time-warp recreation of a stereotypical “Wings and Suds” hangout from up north. The great news is that Clay’s has  relocated and will soon occupy the Roswell Road strip mall location vacated by Jason’s Deli. To be honest, I grieved over Jason’s departure, not because Jason’s was so fabulous but because I swiped more free frozen yogurt and salad bar condiments from that eatery than probably anywhere else in metro Atlanta. Also, they never gave CaptCliff a hard time when they caught me foraging like a binge-eating squirrel on a mountain of bacon bits, sesame flatbread crackers, olives, brownie and blondie squares and assorted cut-up vegetables. But I digress…as usual. Anyway, also imagine my surprise when I pulled up to find out when Gus’s Fried Chicken was going to open only to see actual smiling patrons yucking it up inside while carrying around large plates of crispy fried chicken and fresh greens! Heck, last I saw there were still construction guys outside pulling wire and scratching their balls. They must have gone into warp drive to meet their contractual deadline and zoom through the final punch list with the owner. Maybe they were being paid in spicy fried chicken and sweet potato pie slices.

As a foodie and somewhat overweight person with little to no self-discipline,  I immediately recognized that this was their “soft opening” and that it would be restricted to family, friends, and local folks with favorable connections. Without hesitation or a functioning super-ego I decided to channel Leo DiCaprio in the movie “Catch Me If You Can” and marched into the small but appealing restaurant storefront and asked for the manager. Among the at least twenty identically dressed employees and smiling servers (all adorned in GWFSFC t-shirts) the manager emerged only to apologize profusely and tell me the place wasn’t “officially” open until next week…as if that would deter me. By this time, however, I could already smell the chicken frying in it’s Tennessee (actually Memphis) style spicy batter and noticed a young couple getting down on what looked like really good mac ‘n cheese and fried okra. The next thing I know I found myself shamelessly morphing into Andrew Zimmern from the Food Channel and lying like a psychopath. I propped my $2 Dollar Store reading glasses at half mast (low on the nose) and told the manager I was a “travel and restaurant reviewer”. Oy, I know….you don’t have to tell me. Im going to culinary hell. With that I was personally introduced to the new franchise owner (I believe his name was John) and was ushered ceremoniously to a private table with these explicit instructions, “Get whatever you want. I want to know what you think”. Whoa. I guess hunger and gluttony are also the mother of invention as well as outright deception and trickery when necessary….

Ok, that was the amusing backstory for my minions that realize this is standard larcenous but not quite illegal practice for CaptCliff. Here’s the actual review: The fried chicken was very good. Initially I was afraid that Gus’s signature spicy take on Southern fried chicken (and everything else they make besides the desserts) would overwhelm my taste buds but instead found that it added a nice but not too mouth-numbing flavor. The meat was moist enough and the skin extra crispy with a good amount of bite. The greens, among all other things on the plate were excellent and quite fresh. I like that they were unadulterated with all other kinds of treyf and traditional southern additives like bacon fat, pig hoofs, squirrel and highway-to-table  roadkill, etc.. I like to taste the actual fresh greens and Gus got it just right. Unlike some other online reviewers trolling other Gus’s locations, I did NOT find the coleslaw to be limp or watery and, in fact, it provided a nice if somewhat bland counterpoint to the cayenne pepper-infused main dish. The fried okra were similarly hot (temperature wise), fresh and while a tad commercial in their presentation and form (all the exact same size, color and battered texture) tasted quite good. The main take-away I got was that Gus’s goes for taste and consistency and attempts to establish a high franchise standard from the get-go (both in their limited menu and in the smiling service provided). There was a bit of a wait to get my order to the table but lying beggars and fake food critics can’t be choosers. Kudos to the attentive server as well who after the fourth time asking if I wanted a refill on my diet coke finally said, “I guess you want to savor that one…” After requesting a To Go box I snuck out the side door like a thief in the night, except that it was still only 4 PM and bright as day outside. Speaking of take-aways here’s my distilled reviewer take: Consider this place as a good and dependable place to get a moderately priced good-tasting meal of Memphis style fried chicken and sides all with a certain extra punch of peppery spicy goodness. I suppose I can’t really blame the free meal or Gus’s for the mild case of reflux I experienced later on. Perhaps that was just a bit of Jewish guilt……

Visited March 2017
4 of 5 bubbles
Value
4 of 5 bubbles
Service
4 of 5 bubbles
Food

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60898-d8618845-r464815518-Gus_s_World_Famous_Fried_Chicken-Atlanta_Georgia.html#

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Trump Think: Global Warming

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While Democrats and others of their ilk are doubling up on their Lexapro prescriptions and checking out Priceline for one way flights to Puerta Vallarta, I still want to understand how Trump people think. In other words I’m interested in finding out what is in the head of the average Trump supporter so that I may better comprehend his/her peculiar worldview. I know this is a complex riddle that goes beyond anything I might learn by going to Walmart and kidnapping, killing and harvesting the brain of an obese middle-aged white guy wearing a “Make America Great Again” baseball cap. Not only would that be illegal but many organic diseases and forms of advanced dementia don’t show up on standard autopsies or brain scans. It would take a much “deeper probe” to plumb the depths of this cognitive conundrum. So instead I shall proceed by looking at one major issue at a time.

Global Warming:  I’m not an environmental lunatic. I don’t even recycle most of the time. I typically only do that when I eat at Whole Foods or when neighbors ask where I put my empty plastic bottles and styrofoam take-out containers. However, I do believe in science, especially when there is overwhelming scientific evidence at hand. Even tho there are plenty examples of shoddy scientific research on everything from penguin penises to Prozac, there is no doubt that global warming is an actual occurring phenomenon. There is also pretty good data and agreement among climatologists and biologists forecasting the effects global warming is having (and will continue to have) on our environment, the air we breath, and on human health and mortality. In saying that, I’m not even taking into consideration the emaciated polar bears, beach stranded porpoises, prairie dogs with attention deficit disorder or endangered arctic foxes that Greenpeace and other activist groups are so worried about. I may be an animal lover and lifelong student of ethology (animal behavior) but in any given “ultimate survival” scenario all the non-bipedal species will have to get in line behind me. I’m not frickin’ Noah. I guess the rub in the Global Warming argument comes in definitively determining what the direct effects of human associated pollution, deforestation, and environmental damage have in adding to or speeding up global warming.

What I don’t understand and really need to find out from a die-hard “Global warming is a damn hoax” type person is why does it matter whether our human contribution is minimal or catastrophic? Are Trumpettes saying global warming is NOT bad in the long run? Are they saying that it’s “natural” to go through historical cycles in which the polar ice sheets melt, desalinization occurs in the worlds major oceans and which will NOT significantly affect ocean temperatures, sea levels, commercial fishing and coral reef production? Do Trumps chumps think it’s NOT a big deal if weather patterns shift dramatically as a result and certain highly populated islands and coastal cities around the world suffer significant physical, environmental and economic loss as a result of beach and coastline erosion, tidal flooding and storm surges? What I’m saying is we have science saying it’s happening and getting worse. I don’t see how this is a political issue. What am I missing? Finally, are Trump voters missing pre-frontal lobes or lacking connectivity to parts of the brain necessary for critical thinking? I would be glad to check for anyone interested in participating in my study who is willing to sign a very comprehensive waiver/release form.  Just last year I received a lovely set of serrated knives for Hannukah from my cousin Donna made of surgical steel so just bring yourself and your Trump hat. Naturally, I’ve also got a good bottle of Chianti and fava beans….

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Borderline Personality Disorder with Sociopathic Features

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shelob

There is, to my knowledge, only one psychological syndrome or personality disorder that includes the ability to successfully hide ones basic predatory nature by initially presenting itself as a sweet, sexy, compliant, possibly abused or previously neglected person. Only later does this insidious and beguiling individual inject her toxic hypnogogic “venom” into her clueless rescuer-victim. Once accomplished, this human chameleon with scorpion tail will wait until its prey is sapped of it’s emotional vitality, masculine self-image, and general will to resist. Even the dreaded mate-consuming black widow spider cant do all that, and when she does devour her sex partner/hubby (which is actually not that often) it’s done simply out of hunger and opportunity and not because she actually enjoys the combined Olympic sport of sex and cannibalism.

The psychiatric condition I am referring to is called Borderline Personality Disorder with Sociopathic features. Fortunately, most borderline patients, whether they be male or female (usually female) do not suffer from this particularly treacherous character pathology. Fearful of abandonment and crippled by insecurity and underlying self-loathing, the majority of those with BPD either “act-in” or act-out”. Acting-in borderlines are prone to suicidal ideation, depression, cutting and self-mutilation,etc. They more often see themselves as burdens on their friends, life-partners, and families. In contrast, acting out borderlines are more overtly emotionally labile and psychologically unstable with recurrent episodes of seemingly unprovoked anger, rage and occasional violence. Intimate relationships are often volatile and/or difficult for both. Such extraordinary reactions are often but not always associated with concomitant substance abuse issues and are usually triggered by deep-seated fears of failure, rejection and abandonment.

It is the extra addition of the sociopathic or antisocial dimension that makes for the possibility of a rather different or “hybrid” borderline personality who not only acts out their emotional issues in intensely emotional, aggressive or passive-aggressive ways, but also doesn’t feel a lot of guilt or remorse about it. While still emotionally unstable, they seem at times to also be able to turn certain feelings and behaviors on and off depending on what best serves their immediate needs and longterm purpose. The more psychopathic borderline type is more likely to conceal their basic insecurity and psychological deficits under a facade of self-confidence, physical attractiveness and superficial “charm”. They are also more likely to talk about or exaggerate their sexual conquests, their diverse resume of professional employment, their creative and intellectual accomplishments, and their wide array of “skill sets”. At the very same time these individuals downplay specific details about past relationships and reasons for their having left a job, whether they were fired for any specific reason or were sent packing for criminal, immoral, or inappropriate behavior, etc. Dont be surprised if the actual reason turns out to have been inappropriate or excessive sexual behavior that was used to feed their near inexhaustible need for physical attention, adoration, validation or to set up a trap (spider web) to obtain financial, physical, and/or social support from vulnerable “able-bodied” men. Obtaining a clear, consistent and credible psychosocial history from such a person is difficult and somewhat diagnostic.

This type of woman likes other women as temporary comrades-in-arms and opportunistic wing buddies, but prefers the way that men taste..if you know what I mean. They also wont care if a man is married, single, older, or in a serious relationship as they seem to enjoy the challenge of taking what is not theirs from someone else, even someone they may know quite well socially or professionally. In this respect they could be considered professional “home-wreckers” and wholesale privateers. Like the honey badger, when it comes to feeding their bellies psychologically, emotionally, sexually or professionally, they just don’t care. All syndromes and clinical diagnoses lie on a continuum of severity and care must be taken to consider the possibility of other co-existing disorders, particularly Bipolar, ADHD, substance abuse and impulse control disorders that have either an organic or genetic basis. Finally, if the clinical diagnosis becomes confusing, just keep in mind that repeated manipulation, deception, and deceit are more prominent in BPD with sociopathic features while emotional instability, vulnerability and recurrent bouts of self-hatred more characterize BPD proper. Either way men or women who choose to hook-up or even marry such an exciting and quite often attractive specimen are forewarned to proceed at their own risk and please do remember to bring the One ring, a sharp sword, and really good bug spray.

Shelob from Lord of the Rings: https://youtu.be/ZKeEZWbCRVE

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The Myth of Fixing People

humpty-dumpty2

With Apologies to Humpty Dumpty: The Myth of Fixing People

It takes an extra long time for a psychologist/social worker/psychotherapist or “savior”  type person (code for codependent) to realize that you can’t really “fix” anybody. You can help them and you can be compassionate but whatever psychological or spiritual illness or drug/alcohol problem they suffer from….that change process has to start and finish with them. In fact, trying to fix them and using too much of ones energy, time, emotions, resources (or money) in an effort to “force” healthy thinking and behavior on somebody is a different kind of disease, and it’s one likely to end in rebellion, mutual misery, frustration, exhaustion, and resentment.

Unless you are Mother Teresa or the Dalai Lama, which I am not, such a savior scenario (quite often on a unconscious or subconscious level) typically results in not just failure but a counterproductive rugby match of resentment in which both sides push and pull against one another while thinking they are merely representing their own “truth” or “higher” power. The obvious implication is that there also exists such a thing as a “lower self” (shadow) and while the nice or virtuous parts of ones personality attempt to communicate, broker peace, understanding and progress, the shadow parts (like the smiling Japanese diplomats in Washington DC  during the surprise Pearl Harbor attack) are often plotting rebellion and pandemonium. Just why this is so is open to debate but is at least partially explained by general physics (Newton’s Third Law about action and reaction), human nature, ingrained defense mechanisms, and individual reflexes like “don’t tell me what to do…even if it’s good for me”.  Also in my experience people get quite used to what they are most familiar with, even if it might seem self-destructive or counter-productive to everyone else. Changing or “doing better” certainly has its rewards but can also feel very uncomfortable. The anxiety (of uncertainty) and the pressure to succeed and improve (among a lifetime of previous disappointments, failures and poor decision making) can lead some people to return to jail, return to drugs, and even return to abusive or toxic relationships. Finally, some psychiatric problems like bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, complex PTSD, depression, and character pathology like Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorder are tumultuous and destabilizing by nature and can be extra challenging to live with both for the sufferer and for their loved ones.

Bottomline: There is an important difference between attempting to fix broken people and broken pottery. People who are either psychologically broken or struggle with mental disorders or addictions (just like the people who have a strong need to help “fix” them) have complex egos and personal expectations that can end up getting in the way. Broken pottery normally does not resist ones efforts to fix, be fixed or made whole. Perhaps even more important, broken pottery does not carry within it a strong and wholly legitimate human desire to be loved and accepted just as one is, cracks and all. Therein lies the rub….for some of us.

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