Friday, December 19, 2014


Every year I go through the same exercise at Kohls. The cashier asks if I have a Kohl's Credit card.
"No ma'am"
"Would you like to apply for one?"
"Ma'am, there's no way they are going to give me one."
"We will give you 20% off just for applying"

Well, who can turn that down?
So every year I hold up the line to get my 20% off,  the cost being the shame, humiliation and suffering I go through while everyone is watching.
I hear the guy two people down ask whats taking so long, and the woman behind him whisper "He's trying to get credit", then the computer spits out its answer, and the girl cocks her head and says "I'm sorry, here is a number you can call to find out why you were DENIED"
I don't need to call, I know damn well why I was denied, but HEY, I got my 20% right?

Well, let me tell you something sister.
This year is different.
I'm going down to Kohls and get my 20% AND their fricken' card because I'm getting approved for credit all over the place!

Thursday, December 18, 2014


I used to like him. Then he turned into a PBS money machine.
He comes up with a new one every few years.
He had one a while back where he opens the program, talking about selling all his worldly possessions and moving to an Island in the Pacific, in the middle of nowhere, just him and a straw hut and his one pair of sandals which he only wears when he’s not going bare foot.
Tonight, on stage at the USC auditorium, he is barefoot, just to make his point.
And the island he moved to, now that he has nothing, having abandoned all the toils and troubles of the world?
Poor SOB.
I lost all respect right then.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Some folks are under the impression that a store owner can just refuse service to anyone for any reason. That that is what America and the First Amendment is all about.
But that’s not true. What America is all about is exactly the opposite.
You have the right to purchase goods and services from anyone, anywhere, no matter who you are and the accident of your birth.
That was the purpose of the Civil Rights Amendment back in 1964.
That no one could be told where to sit on a bus, or which water fountain to drink from, which restroom to use.
That no man be denied buying lunch, having his car repaired, or lodging for he and his pregnant wife at a hotel, based on his skin color, or his religion, or lack of one.

There was a court case up in Oregon where a Biker was suing because he was refused service for being biker. But that’s not why he was being refused service. He was being refused service for being loud and obnoxious. That’s what the court ruled.

Lately, many states have expanded those rights to guarantee service regardless of race, creed or color to include Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender. It seems like the only people that are really against this are Christian. They tend to see this as an attack on their Religion.
I’ll go along with that when I hear about a Gay Florist refusing service to a Methodist.

The fact is....

They wonder aloud “Whatever happened to the right to refuse service”?
But they themselves have never been refused service.
I've never been refused service. Tell me how that works, because I might be a tad miffed if I went to a service station with a flat tire and was refused service because I was a woman, or black, or Muslim or was not a Christian, or FOR ANY REASON. Or because I was Gay.

There was a case in Colorado, where a Bakery denied service to a Gay couple who wanted a wedding cake from his shop. The Baker, a Christian of course, says it offends his religion to have to bake a cake for a Gay Wedding. I’ve got friends that agree, that think he has a right to refuse service on these grounds.
“Why can’t they just go somewhere else for a cake?” they ask, those who have never been denied service.
Those who have never been in a minority.

Lets say I’ve been talking with my boyfriend, and we’re gonna get married. And for the last few months we’ve been to several weddings, and the cakes were GORGEOUS. They were made by the Finest Cake Shop in Denver. So we go online and look at their cakes, we're almost giddy, and one day we go down to the Finest Cake Shop in Denver to order our cake. But the big poo-poo behind the counter says :
“You boys look gay to me”
“Yes we are”
“ I refuse to make a cake for you”
Well, me and my beloved are shattered. We really liked the big poo-poo’s cakes, and what started out as joyous occasion has turned into a bag over the head punch in the face. Yes, we will go get a cake somewhere else, but we will also file a complaint against the big poo-poo.

The good thing is the courts see it this way too. The court in Colorado ruled that anyone who denies service based on sexual orientation will be fined.
We are all, as Americans, guaranteed a right to service regardless of race creed or color, and in many states regardless of our sexual orientation.
The tide, I think, has turned.

It is sometimes argued that if a Christian cake baker is compelled to bake a gay wedding cake, what would prevent a black cake baker from having to make a cake for an Aryan Nation Wedding with Swastka's on it.
Well, the judge in this case ruled on that as well. Click here and see pages 8 and 9.
as much as I admire the outcome of these cases, I especially enjoy the logic and language employed in the rulings:

"Finally, Respondents argue that if they are compelled to make a cake for a
same-sex wedding, then a black baker could not refuse to make a cake bearing a white-supremacist message for a member of the Aryan Nation; and an Islamic baker could not refuse to make a cake denigrating the Koran for the Westboro Baptist Church.
However, neither of these fanciful hypothetical situations proves Respondents’ point. In both cases, it is the explicit, unmistakable, offensive message that the bakers are asked to put on the cake that gives rise to the bakers’ free speech right to refuse. That, however, is not the case here, where Respondents refused to bake any cake for Complainants regardless of what was written on it or what it looked like. Respondents have no free speech right to refuse because they were only asked to bake a cake, not make a speech."

Monday, December 08, 2014


After about 3 days after my last shoulder surgery, my girl says to me “Are you sure we should be doing this?”
I said “It doesn't hurt. As long as I don’t get too carried away”
She says “It doesn't hurt?”

So then one day a couple weeks later, and its “not hurting”, but all of a sudden I feel a little tear.
So I kinda eased up ya know, but I didn't say anything, or she’d have got all over me, and that would have been the end of that, if you know what I mean.

So at PT the next day I tell the physical therapist”I did something and I could feel a little tear”
“What were you doing”
And so I showed him how I was up, with both arms locked like in the missionary position and I said “Well, I was watching TV, and I got up like this like I was going to do a push up, but I didn’t do a push up, I just kinda stayed in this position because it felt good”
 And he  looks at me and says “And that feels good?”
"It doesn’t hurt?”
“But you think you felt something tear?”

And so he has me lay down, and he pulls and pushes and checks my range of motion and says
“Well, you seem to be OK. Maybe it was just scar tissue”
I was pretty relieved.

So the next time I’m with my girl, and she says “Are you sure we should be doing this?” and I said “Oh yeah, I asked the Doctor and he said its OK”

Saturday, December 06, 2014


I don’t remember who it was that came to the house, could have been any one of us I reckon, but dad sat me down later to talk.
He liked to smoke his cigar when he talked all serious to me at the kitchen table. He would say three words
(“You are judged…”,
pause for effect, look at his cigar like it was a crystal ball, take puff and blow great clouds of smoke out, and as the smoke cleared, I would be looking him dead in the eye. He would say two more words
(“by the…”),
 his eyes would  follow the smoke coming off the stogie making  its way to the ceiling. I couldn’t help but watch with him. Then, as punctuation, he would tap his cigar on the ashtray, and finally finish his thought
(“…company you keep”),
which happened to be some new buddy with bad posture, a slouchy hat, long hair and bloodshot eyes.
It’s one of my fondest memories of dad, having him and that cigar busting my ass at the kitchen table.

Friday, December 05, 2014


I dreamed I was working  a part time job. It was at a Hyatt, or some huge hotel.
There was a buffet, a really fancy buffet, and I was doing some nice stuff for it, everything from carved steamship rounds of beef to galantines of duck; from smoked fish mirrors to pate’s;  the band was actually on a riser in the center of the table, 5 piece jazz doing Patsy Cline tunes, and we had them surrounded with tropical plants and  ice carvings of saxophones, stand up base’s,  eighth notes and of course, swans.

I put this buffet together once or twice a week. It was just part time, I still worked my day job.
And as things so often go in dreams, several months went by of working this job when I suddenly realized…
I haven’t received a check yet!
Surely by now I’d have gotten paid, yes?

So I called Human Resources and asked about it.

“This is Steve Renfro and I’ve been doing the buffet on Tuesdays and Fridays for several months now, and I still haven’t received a check”
“Let me check into this for you” the lady says.
A moment goes by.
“Mr. Renfro, I don’t have any record that you were ever hired. What is it you do here?”
“I put together your Tuesday and Friday night buffets”
“Oh, those are very nice”
“Thank you. But you don’t show that I work there at all, and that’s why I haven’t received a check?”
“That’s right Mr. Renfro. You don’t work here”
“So does that mean I don’t have to come in tonight?”
“I don’t know about that. You’ll have to check with the chef”

(About this time in the dream, I’m thinking there is something very Seinfeld about was is going on, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

So she transfers the call down to the kitchen. I explain to the chef that I was never hired, that I never received a check, and that I don’t work there.  Technically, I never have.

“So I won’t be in tonight”  I said.
“But we need you. Your buffets, they are very nice” he says.
I think about it a minute. How can I refuse?
“Ok Chef. What time would you like me?”

I woke up about this time. And it was while I was making coffee at work that I recalled the Seinfeld episode that must have influenced this dream.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Every year about this time you start seeing all these tips on how to cook a hard boiled egg so that it wont stick. Cook them with salt, with vinegar with a metal spoon with a wood spoon; cook them at midnight, pray to Jesus, pray to the devil, turn the handle to the north.
None of these things is going to help you.
If that egg is fresh, its going to stick and there is nothing on Gods green earth you can do about it.

I had about 1000 to cook one time. That’s three cases.  Had them all cooked and shocked and the first ten just jumped out of their jackets. Then I hit about five that didn’t.  Then ten that were easy.  And that was just about the ratio through the whole process.
Because one of those three cases was very fresh eggs. They were all cooked together, but those were the ones that stuck. That’s the science behind it, and it wasn’t the only time I had that kind of thing happen.
Anyway, the best part of the story is that as I peeled the eggs, I tossed them into a huge bowl of ice water. They sank to the bottom. I was about halfway through when Don “The Animal “ Pascal, the banquet chef, came by.
“What are you doing?” he says.
“Peelin' eggs”
“What are they for?” he asks.
I felt like being a smart ass, so I said :
“We’re going to bob for them, like apples”
Don didn’t even flinch. Off comes his chefs hat, and into the ice water goes his head, and when he comes back up he has an egg between his teeth.
Don “The Animal” Pascal.
That guy was a trip.

And that’s my best hard boiled egg story.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Well, that’s what pisses me off. Its easy enough to say the kid shouldn’t have done what he done.
No one can argue about that.
But it misses the issue of why a cop was fucking with him in the first place.
I’ve said it before…I’ve played football, baseball and had bottle rocket wars right in the middle of the street. shoot, we used to stand outside my apartment and throw frisbee for hours ACROSS a 4 lane street to a field, No cop ever did anything but wave and smile as he idled past.
And the deeper issue still of why an entire community feels so disenfranchised.
This comes mostly from a group of people that have never been the least bit discriminated against, or disenfranchised. Born with every advantage, they make no effort to empathize at all.

Addendum: I did finally find a white person that says the cops continually ask her to stay out of the street. She's the friend of a freind of a friend up in DC, and if I'm reading her right, she's a hooker.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014



The man outside he works for me, his name is Mariano
He cuts and trims the grass for me he makes the flowers bloom
He says that he comes from a place not far from Guanajuato
Thats two days on a bus from here, a lifetime from this room.

I fix his meals and talk to him in my old broken spanish
He points at things and tells me names of things I can't recall
Sometimes I just can't but help but wonder who this man is
And if when he is gone will he'll remember me at all

I watch him close he works just like a piston in an engine
He only stops to take a drink and smoke a cigarette
When the day is ended, I look outside my window
There on the horizon, Mariano's silhouette

He sits upon a stone in a south-easterly direction
I know my charts I know that he is thinking of his home
I've never been the sort to say I'm in to intuition
But I swear I see the faces of the ones he calls his own

Their skin is brown as potters clay, their eyes void of expression
Their hair is black as widow's dreams, their dreams are all but gone
They're ancient as a vision of a sacrificial virgin
Innocent as crying from a baby being born

They hover around a dying flame and pray for his protection
Their prayers are all but answered by his letters in the mail
He sends them colored figures that he cuts from strips of paper
And all his weekly wages, saving nothing for himself

It's been a while since I have seen the face of Mariano
The border guards they came one day and took him far away
I hope that he is safe down there at home in Guanajuato
I worry though I read there's revolution every day

Robert Earl Keen

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I remember being in a hotel restaurant in San Diego for the breakfast buffet. My phone rang. It was a girl I knew. I got to talking, with her on the speaker, and were yackkin' it up like you wouldn't believe, and you know I got no inside voice, and I'm talking about how great it is to be a Texan, and how the California girls cant get enough of me and my accent, and I look over all the way across the dining room, and there's some woman looking right at me, and I can tell she has heard everything i just said, just as if i was sitting right there at the table with her; and she looks at me right in the eye, glaring at me is what she's doing, and sticks her finger down her throat, then mouths the words "Gag Me".
Gag me. Darn right.