I think the Universe really does prefer conversation to criticism and being interested rather than being interesting.


So going on two years ago, I had some major decisions to make. I was basically saying goodbye to my family. I sold the Von Bulow hacienda as well as my aunt’s home/Blandino family reunion center and, just like that, two lasting physical connections to a half century of loving memories vanished.

I moved to Pasadena and worked desperately to preserve emotions I could still see and touch every day.

One fine day I walked into Aaron Brothers. I had the images I wanted but still needed the frames. Monica was friendly and really helpful. And you’d think that after decades of practice, I’d be pretty slick at faking knowledge and hiding ignorance…but what a waste of energy.

Monica helped me find the right frames but also took an interest in the pictures (of my family and my trip to Mom’s Sicilian homeland.) Once Monica found out I was a dentist, she shared a little about her son, Christopher; seemed Christopher had had some fairly shaky dental experiences. Mom was concerned about Christopher’s crowded teeth and thought we might be a fit.

The Christopher we met on Day One was painfully quiet and refused to smile even on threat of house arrest. The young man’s teeth were headed this way and that; a previous consult had recommended four extractions-I’ve never been a fan of that approach.

After some advice shared from a trusted mentor, I went with my gut and offered clear aligner orthodontics with Invisalign. After one extraction and 10-months of care we had a result that not only generated straight teeth…but also a smile that fit Christopher’s face.

About three months into care, Dental Assistant Kolleen actually inspired a Christopher chuckle, the first such expression of its kind we’d witnessed since the kid had rolled into Temple City.

When my mentor, Dr. David Galler, saw the photos you see, here’s what he wrote: “Jack, Is it weird that I get so much joy out of seeing that before and after? It’s not even my patient yet I awoke with such a smile on my face thinking about him. Imagine the girlfriends he will have, the job interviews he will ace, the smile in all his photos in life with his kids…all because of the great Dr. Jack. Yes, we get paid for treating people, but seeing “before and after” photos like these is a drug I can’t get enough of… David”

I’m beginning to think the Universe really does prefer conversation to criticism, being interested rather than being interesting, and creativity versus competition. And I have two new lives and two smiling faces to submit as evidence.

Posted in Health and Fitness


And this time, my team and I had the chance to do something that made a difference for someone we love.

So I was only 12-years old the first time I realized what seemed like a little thing to me could make a major difference for someone I loved. I was almost straight outa the 7th grade and playing catcher on the last day of school when a collision at the plate sent me back on my heels…but it was my right arm that didn’t turn out so well.

My broken arm got fixed and on a subsequent follow-up appointment the surgeon was happy with my result but showed some concern for my mom. Mom had a facial mole that was basically invisible to me…but obviously not to Mom. I was slightly shocked when Mom quickly consented to have the lesion removed; it was the only medical procedure Mom would experience from my birth to care for her broken hip some 40-years later. Only years later did I even consider the chance the lesion could have been a basal cell carcinoma or malignant melanoma (and I’m not so sure that was even part of Mom’s decision-making process.) What I did notice was Mom’s smile.

And these days, I get to make a difference for people I love. We get to serve our patients like friends and family.

I’ve known Vivian for going on 20-years; she and her buddy, Pearl, and I met at the gym. Please do not laugh hard enough to warrant a hernia repair- the three of us met while dominating lesser talented dancers taking hip-hop classes.

And even though Vivian is a proud UCLA grad, we agree on just about everything. Vivian just might be the only totally Bruin geared-up individual on the face of the earth with whom I willingly share social media photos. One of my February highlights through the years has been addressing Vivian’s Second Graders during Dental Health Month. I’ve never heard Vivian say a negative thing about anyone, even after one of my USC lawyer friends famously confiscated a spin bike Vivian had already signed up for.

Vivian has recovered from a severed Achilles tendon and some of the stuff that just shouldn’t happen to people with big, generous hearts. Whether it’s been her name on the schedule or a spin class sighting…or her wedding photo on Facebook, Vivian has always elicited a smile from me.

And this time, my team and I had the chance to do something that made a difference for someone we love. And it’s great having the chance to make a difference for true friends and family offering Invisalign care.

Posted in Health and Fitness

A Gold Medal Day And Memory

So it isn’t every day I get to serve an Olympic Gold Medalist; there just aren’t that many of ‘em passing through Temple City these days.


So it isn’t every day I get to serve an Olympic Gold Medalist; there just aren’t that many of ‘em passing through Temple City these days.

And on a Sunday when the incredibly shrinking Los Angeles Times can’t even find its vanilla way to my doorstep and 40% of the population is determined to elect Hitler, part II; it’s therapeutic savoring the moments I get to share with people who exude class. Last week, I had a moment…and more.

Inger Miller was a member of the U.S. Women’s 4 X 100-meter Olympic relay team that took the Gold in Atlanta in 1996. And Inger’s dad, Lennox, was my dental school classmate. And, oh, by the way, Lennox won the Silver in the Men’s Olympic 100-meters in Mexico City in 1968 and the Bronze in Munich in 1972.

Back in The Day, my dad and brother and I were big-time track and field fans; and a great day for us was going to any USC dual meet. Lennox was a legendary sprinter, on scholarship from Jamaica, and USC was a track and field powerhouse. So I couldn’t believe it when I saw Lennox and I were classmates; and I can still remember getting on the phone to tell Dad Lennox said “Hi” on that very first Training Day at the USC School of Dentistry.

During the four years of dental school, I really didn’t get to know Lennox very well, aside from the always welcoming smile and the friendly small talk that helped this dental student retain some semblance of his sanity.

When we were out of school and practicing, Dr. Miller stayed close by in Pasadena; that’s when I got the chance to know Lennox a little better. The phone calls always included a dose of laughter and, of course, the sort of dialogue you’d expect from two USC football experts.

One of my early Doc Miller post-USC experiences was admittedly a little scary. During CPR training, Lennox (don’t think he ever lifted a weight) actually cracked open poor ole Resusci Annie while doing compressions; my take-away was in Annie’s place, I’d rather have the second fastest human on the planet get help…than perform bone crushing compressions…on moi.

Dr. Miller was a prosthodontist; back then, these were the restorative specialists who tackled the kind of complex cases that could make you cry in your sleep.

Lennox served me and our mutual patients, actually giving life to fading, depressed seniors, literally starving from tooth loss. Against all odds, a feeble elderly lady would typically shuffle off to Dr. Miller, only to return looking years younger; smiling, with a spring in her step and a new ensemble to go with it. I’ve always appreciated the doctors who relate to patients as family and provide empathy as part of any clinical exam; that’s why it was reassuring knowing Dr. Miller was just a phone call or a 20-minute drive away.

And I still remember the call I had with Lennox when he told me he’d been diagnosed with lung cancer. Intellectually, of course I understood…but the track fan kid in me still hoped and even believed Lennox would anchor another win.

Can’t believe it’s been 12-years since a class guy, an elite athlete, and gifted colleague who’d never taken a puff, passed from lung cancer.

First time I met Inger was at a Pasadena Chamber breakfast; almost tripped over my own feet introducing myself. I shared the same message I delivered to Inger’s dad back in 1996, “Finally a GOLD medal in the family!”

Truth is Doc Miller was a Gold Medal winner for all of his way too brief 58-years. And when it comes to being a class act, the apple doesn’t fall anywhere but right next to the tree.

Posted in Health and Fitness


A piece I wrote fifteen years ago today.

This morning I got to work, put on the TV in the waiting room, and sat down with my coffee. And I knew for sure it was going to be one of those unbelievable, unacceptable days that test your faith, confidence, and ability to resist hate.

There was no possible way to focus on dentistry today. Thousands of people had said goodbye this morning not knowing hate would touch that farewell one final time.

And as I’m writing, I’m not sure I’ve ever met any of today’s victims in New York, Washington D.C., or Pennsylvania. But if I take some to adjust my perspective a little, it’s clear I know them all. I see them every day. I’m one myself-we all are.

When I was a little kid, I could watch World War II movies just about all day long. When I wasn’t living the war vicariously on film, I was doing my best out in the neighborhood trying to outflank all my little combat buddies.

One lazy Saturday afternoon I was savoring a rare soda with my favorite salami and cheese sandwich, watching war being played out on the screen by “B” actors; couldn’t get much better. My brother happened to walk by, glance at our undersized TV, and make an observation. I was probably only eight or nine years old but I still clearly remember his words. My brother and mentor Jay asked, “How much fun would it be if that was Monterey Park and those people were you and me and mom and dad?”

This morning those people were family. They were on their way to work just like you and me. They were standing around talking about Monday Night Football just like you and me. They were sitting in wheelchairs, stranded in hallways; they were someone’s parents, sons or daughters, left in a burning crumbling building, waiting to die.

Turned out today wasn’t just another day of dentistry and going to the gym. Turned out today may have stolen what little innocence that’s left.

On October 18, it’ll be 34 years that I experienced another day like today. It was personal then too. Again, there was a brief conversation and my brother Jay was involved. Though it happened so long ago, I still remember every word. The call came from the U.S. Consulate in Mexico City on Sunday morning; it lasted about a minute. Jay was in Mexico City attending the 1968 Olympics. My dad and I had been in the living room watching football and mom was at church. Dad was disturbed that the caller insisted on speaking only to me. We later learned Jay had listed me as his beneficiary.

It was another day like today; another unspoken farewell, another missing explanation…and the first day of my life without my big brother.

Today was one of those days we’ll never forget, never forgive, and never really understand.

John Lennon dared to imagine a world without days like today but then again, even he expected to be dismissed as just another dreamer.

Maybe the best we can do is just take a minute, slow down, and appreciate the time we’re privileged to have with the people we love and will never stop missing.

Posted in Local Voices

Dentist Group Therapy

The good news is: the latest reports say lawyers have reeled us (dentists) in and surged into the self-destructive lead.

Don’t know how you guys would would handle it, but sometimes I’m taken slightly aback when the Labor Day barbecue conversation zooms in on my job…and friends and family start talkin’ about suicide.

The “dentists committing suicide thing” was going on even way back when I was a student and large hairy elephants were slipping into the ooze near Wilshire Boulevard. In D-school, while interacting with “drill” sergeants masquerading as clinical instructors, I used to think: suicide, never; homicide, maybe.

And I still carry some resentment around but it’s always directed outwardly; isn’t that healthy? Not good holding toxic stuff in? So a few years ago, I referred a sociopath to the instructor who said I had “train wreck” occlusion; thought they were a good match. I wrote columns about another pseudo educator and used to slip ‘em under his office door as part of my tailgate experience prior to Trojan home football games. So I know you’re supposed to leave stuff in the past but what about sharing; isn’t that supposed to be good for you too?

Anyway, the stats are all over the place. You can find reports saying dentists are 5.45 times more likely to commit suicide compared to normal people all the way down to 1.68. The wild card is probably calling Trump supporters normal people. The good news is the latest reports say lawyers have reeled us in and surged into the self-destructive lead.

But nevertheless, we apparently have our issues. And I am now part of an elite group of the finest general practice Invisalign providers in the country and our leader, who’s on my education Mt Rushmore (and who also goes by The Wolf) formed a WhatsApp group called Dentists Group Therapy.

But while I thought, “I don’t need this stuff (that much)” about 150 posts showed up on Day One. It got me to thinking and, for me, that process burns way more calories than multiple spin classes. And simply put; when the Wolf speaks, I listen.

During my first year in practice, I was listed in the phone book (remember those?) as Jack Von BUTTlow; a bit too descriptive and wouldn’t you be scarred. A few years later, a kid bolted straight outa my treatment room just because I called him Spot instead of Scott…and I thought Millennials were supposed to be sensitive. I had one patient visit me TWICE over several years (once in disguise) and request full mouth care with no anesthetic and “Just so you know, here’s a bagful of crowns and bridges I tore out myself because that’s what I do.” On trip #2, the Disguised One (DO) demanded gas fare because we refused to start treatment; she left when we called the police. On her way out, the Disguised One told us all to go to hell; two of my team members harmonized, “See you there”…another day in paradise.

Shucks, during my career, I’ve even missed the freakin’ chair and seated myself directly on the floor…twice. But I handle stuff like that better now, probably because every year I get to dress up like the Tooth Fairy for an entire day and take a pie in the face. Last time I hit the deck, I even successfully closed my case presentation from the floor and today, that patient has the smile she’d always really wanted.

But Lord knows; I understand going to the dentist isn’t totally like a trip to Disneyland (Although I’d rather have a root canal than visit the Magic Kingdom on Grad Night.) And when you truly see patients as friends and family, there really is a load of pressure to smile and be the perfectionist…especially, when Google Maps is sending new patients to the Temple City Sheriff’s Jail instead of Temple City Dental Care.

And even when someone I probably dominated on the tennis court 10-years ago isn’t writing a fictional report on Yelp or when my team isn’t being “too quiet,” you can’t say we dentists don’t make an interesting support group for one another.

As Frederick March told blue-eyed Apache half-breed Paul Newman in the 1967 film “Hombre”, “We white people stick together.” Newman’s response: “You’re gonna have to.” I think Newman would have said the same thing about dentists.

Posted in Health and Fitness

REM Experiences Of The Dental Kind

And I’m really sympathetic because I have nightmares too. But my sleep scares do not involve losing mass numbers of teeth.

So lately, not a week goes by when a patient doesn’t check-in, take a seat, ask if I’m really doing okay, and then tell me about one particular scary dental nightmare they’ve been having. And I’m really sympathetic because I have nightmares too. But in my sleep scares, I don’t lose any teeth.

I’ve had three basic lifetime nightmares, currently down to two.

The first nightmare was kind of a brief “Risky Business” remake where I was taking the SAT, totally unprepared and without a freakin’ clue. In fact, that’s exactly how I did take the SAT. Dental school pretty much cured me of nightmare #1, simply by becoming nightmare #2. I dream I’m trapped in dental school and can’t get out; it’s like the Miracle on 34th Street (one block south of Jefferson) never happened. I still dream about the DDS bait and switch every September-and I’ve already had a few prequel flashbacks.

My longest running nocturnal rerun is all about my car being stolen (as it was…in dental school.) The dream’s really annoying because in it, I already know the theft will occur even as I’m parking the freakin’ car. And just like with the dental school dream, I wake up in a cold sweat. Oh, and by the way, I also had my pants stolen in dental school (I wasn’t wearin’ ‘em) but I’ve never had that nightmare.

When I Googled “Dreams: teeth falling out” I got 1,600,000 results; when I searched “Jokes about Cleveland” I only found 806,000. It helps to have perspective on stuff. And yeah, now I know why ducks fly upside down over the Cuyahoga River, The Indians, and the Browns.

A thready link to Dr. Oz took me to his “5 Most Common Recurring Dreams.” I landed on the “Tooth Loss” page and, like usual, I’d still be looking for the other four outa five if I hadn’t previously been suckered into clicking on the “Three Best Supplements that will help you live to one-hundred on three Double-Doubles per day”…and wasting 2-unrequited-hours of my life in the process. Second time: “Shame on me, or on you, or whatever”- George W. Bush

Anyway, Oz shared recurring dreams like tooth loss were more about the psychological, not the physical. Duh. Like, has anyone, in the Philippines or even Arkansas ever actually awakened only to find a bunch of their teeth on the pillow? And it seems like only yesterday Doc Oz was warning dental patients about x-rays, thyroids, and the 1972 issue of dental lead aprons. But I guess timing isn’t always everything.

Non-Oz findings connect tooth loss dreams broadly to aging or life transitions; they’ve also been linked to the desire to be nurtured or relationship repression (that one really hurt.) Meanwhile, I’ve been kind of reluctant to proceed with my own research and asking deep probing personal questions and stuff that might explain the “tears and my teeth on my pillow” dreams.

So I guess I’ll just continue to empathize with the dreamers, not dig so deeply, and be thankful my ’72 Candy Apple Red Corvair, and not me, was the one who didn’t quite go the distance in dental school.

Posted in Health and Fitness

F-Word Declared Obsolete By Brits…But There’s More

No flossing in Great Britain, just Bubba smiles from the Royals and Show Biz types.

So imagine my shock and awe on learning that, based on conclusions put forth by England Public Health, U.S. health officials have dropped the use of dental floss as a recommended approach to oral hygiene.

And I hate profiling white folks with funny accents. But when your usual and customary royals and show biz types flash the next thing to Bubba smiles, I just wish I had a super-prominent eyebrow to raise.

Great Britain giving the hook to something as red, white, and blue as dental floss, invented by our own Doc Levi Spear Parmly (“Spear” will become ironic) way back in 1874, is sort of like Raider Nation bagging on Emily Post or Switzerland editing Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” or North Korea plagiarizing Rodney King (“Can’t we all just get along?”)

Given that the British Dental Association (BDA) evaluated dental floss as having “little use” and its benefits scientifically unproven, the U.S. Health Department picked up the ball (or followed the thread) concluding there was no proof flossing prevents gum disease or stops cavities. And using similar logic, U.S. health officials might have also observed using under-arm deodorant had no scientific base and didn’t necessarily ward off close talkers or stop anti-social behavior.

The Brits recommend inter-dental brushes and the devices, such as proxy-brushes, Stim U Dents, and toothpicks have always been around, used as adjuncts or replacements for floss. For the uninitiated (Irony warning), the interdental brushes most resemble little fuzzy “spears” or at worst, rubber or wooden “spears”. The BDA properly asserted the interdental devices better compliment the interproximal (between teeth) surfaces, fitting the contours of subtle anatomic concavities existing on the sides of teeth. Our former landlords also warned flossing could cause gums injuries…and yeah, so can little fuzzy spears.

The American Dental Association estimates 40% of the U.S. adult population use dental floss but I bet the ADA also has the Angels winning the World Series and Trump carrying California. And if 40% of Americans really do use floss, that’s great…because only 50% see a dentist on a regular basis. We do know unmanaged periodontal disease has a strong link to general health and even life expectancy; disrupting the bacterial infection-causing plaque between your teeth is part of an effective overall preventive and maintenance plan. But there is more.

If your teeth line up like Bubba’s…or Hugh Grant’s, you’ll always be vulnerable to periodontal disease. And if you’re already managing periodontal disease, the outcome will never be optimal as long as your teeth are not properly aligned…whether you’re using patriotic dental floss or Christian Bale’s little fuzzy spears (by the way, you’ll NEVER see a photo of Bale smiling and showing his lower front teeth.)

When teeth are properly aligned, they’re engineered to practically clean themselves; floss or inter-dental brushes work equally well maintaining health. And treating periodontal disease while orthodontically aligning teeth with clear, removable aligners such as with Invisalign care actually speeds up both processes.

So what if it were possible to move teeth faster into a more self-cleansing, health-preserving position, have definitive periodontal care, and an unobstructed access to maintain health with old school dental floss or little fuzzy spears…all at the same time?

Ask your dentist about clear aligner orthodontic care with Invisalign. Why not seize an opportunity for lasting oral health and a smile worth smiling about?

Posted in Health and Fitness

An Agent Of Change

Having a mentor, learning and growing, and making a difference for others really can make you feel like a kid again.


So if you’re a little like me (and that can be scary), you might remember a certain dynamic that used to happen way back when you were just a kid.
Maybe you went totally outa your way innovating new approaches that would annoy the cutest, smartest little third grade girl in class. But instead of making “annoying” a career, some changes happened somewhere during the Father Serra’s California Missions project and that little pigtail genius morphed into your first crush. And even though that first crush hit about 153-rodeos ago, I just realized it happened again.

To say I despised dental school would be a little like saying I find UCLA bruin football slightly too nuanced for my delicate sensibilities; it would be the freakin’ understatement of the years dating back to the Carter Administration. I began D-school more confident than the Fonz on Friday night but quickly began believing I was the undeserving little maggot the guys in the white shoes, white belts, and white coats said I was (and this was BEFORE Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.)

And during my four-year journey, it was awesome learning new skills and appreciating the growth you could see happening over the days, weeks, and months; it was exciting. I just wasn’t expecting the daily verbal beat-downs and the too often absence of any real mentoring within a culture where some sign of humor might get you 8-years to life in Folsom. So I was probably a negative, frustrated, little jackass the day we began bending wires around plaster teeth. And I sure did hate orthodontics; like high school typing class, I’m not really sure how I ever made it through.

But Orthodontics would later make a major difference for me. My Nazi Occlusion professor had described my smile as “train wreck”- thanks for sharing! (Years later I did exact revenge when I referred a sociopath to his office down in Newport Beach. Did I mention I’m half-Sicilian?) Anyway, my care made a major difference for my confidence and people really can listen to you and even hear you when you’re not hiding behind your hand.

Never dreamed I’d ever provide orthodontic care. But one fine day back in 2003, against all odds, I got myself certified to provide Invisalign orthodontic care. And some 12-years later, I found a true mentor.

Thanks to Dr. David Galler and his Reingage program, my colleagues and I get learn as a family. I just got back from Dallas and two amazing days spent with like-minded Docs who get to enjoy quality time learning the latest and enjoying the process. And there might be smarter DDS-types out there; just haven’t met one. And Doc Galler has all of the requirements beyond being the smartest, most creative guy in the room. He’s committed 100% to making a difference for others; if he was just a little older, his generosity would be legendary.

And even though it might sound like it, I don’t have a serious crush on Galler; but I do have a crush coming straight out of left field. After all these years, I have a long-shot crush on orthodontics and providing clear aligner care with Invisalign. And I might add, being excited about learning and making a difference is the stuff that can keep you young (and it takes some of the pressure off of having to be immature all of the time.)

The day before I left for Dallas, I followed up on a patient who’d actually been diagnosed by another patient…at Starbucks. Luis had suffered headaches for years; the headaches frequently made it difficult for him to focus…while managing freakin’ major hotels. We used an appliance to stabilize Luis’ headaches and then went about aligning his teeth to transform the way his jaw, muscles, and teeth functioned. It’s been about five years and Luis confessed he now has maybe two headaches per year…that disappear with a massage.

A few weeks ago, we also finished a case for an 82-year old nun. And since day one of Catechism when I was about 7-years old, I’ve never stopped appreciating Sisters with sunny attitudes and beautiful smiles.

Thanks to amazing people like Dr. Galler, we get to make a major difference for friends and family. And I think when my dad was writing those checks to the University of Southern California; that’s what he was hoping for.

Posted in Health and Fitness

White Like Me? Or…Strange Encounters Of The Facebook Kind

Over the weekend…with the big Republican convention on the horizon, some of my Least Coast DDS-type natives were just a little restless.

Maybe you’re like me when you’re watching 5-hours of televised golf at a time. Last weekend, between the drives and putts at Royal Troon, being a total couch spectator left me plenty of time for social media engagement. And with the big Republican convention on the horizon, some of my Least Coast DDS-type natives were just a little restless.

So seemingly the only demographic supporting the Republican presidential nominee as he goosesteps into November is old white guys (and some of their misguided spouses.)

And based on the candidate’s ramblings, you’d think you could further narrow it down to white guys who prefer the simplicity of basic white hooded robes as the coolest thing in rural eveningwear.

But even though most of those frustrated aging Caucasian types showing up in the polls are Christian, very few could probably tell you the difference between Christian charity, the Stars and Bars, and a 6-pack.

These white guys complain that no one speaks to them or their concerns; it’s like they’ve been left behind. Just so happens their exasperation has peaked while the U.S. leader is the first Black President (not when the whole country almost went el busto eight years ago.) And what’s next…the first woman Chief Executive? Really?

I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.

And who better to serve the wounded Anglo male psyche than a guy who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. Or a guy who worships himself and hates just about anyone and everything else. Or a guy who has basically attempted hosing everyone with whom he’s ever struck a deal. Maybe PT Barnum really did know a thing or six about what he was talking about?

And it’s one thing if you’re some poor ole rube living in the middle of nowhere. But what if you’ve had eight years of college and you’ve even earned a title…and you’re one of my freakin’ colleagues?

I have to admit, even without one of the four majors comin’ straight outa Scotland, instead of doing stuff like Pokemon Go, I entertain myself at lunch antagonizing some of my wayward, going on way nuts molar jockey brethren.

These white guys are awesome dentists, progressive providers, and hard workers. But I guess we all have our own “unique” qualities. Hey! I know people who actually collect duct tape art and cigar bands. One of my co-workers collects wine corks. Shucks, I bring back stuffed monkeys from every travel destination.

So maybe some of my disillusioned old white guy colleagues are just a little too sensitive…sort of like Johnny Ringo in Tombstone. Could be these delicate souls fantasize on being part of the lucky 1% or perhaps they’re troubled that dentists are seven-times the national average more likely to commit suicide.

And just like when I collect lucky monkeys, maybe collecting buffoon candidates just makes them feel a little better about themselves.

Posted in Politics and Government

Help Wanted: Trouble in Paradise

Somehow my perfect plan went awry. And isn’t that what John Lennon said about life and making plans?

Okay, Fourth of July weekend and I’m gonna golf, take spin class, get some work done, and await the next Trump jackass moment over a glass of Sangiovese and some eggplant parmigiana. Sound like a plan?

But somehow my perfect plan went awry. And isn’t that what John Lennon said about life and making plans?

On July 1, I torched Santa Anita Golf Course; played like I had the talent I thought Mickleson would someday display. Saturday I played like Mickleson again; only this time it was Harold Mickelson, root canal specialist. Yesterday, on July 3, after studying my game for a looong 18-holes, one of my foursome wanted to know if I could actually use a manual toothbrush all by myself.

And it’s funny how a prissy country club game, requiring all the athleticism of seniors driving electric carts around Leisure World, can impact my attitude, quality of life, and, worst of all, my tendency to be negative about stuff.

But for a signature sunshiny Newport day spent with friends alongside the magnificent Pacific on the lush fairways of Pelican Hill Resort…and with a freakin stick in my hands and a miserable multi-dimpled rubberized version of a ping pong ball at my feet, I wouldn’t even be thinking about the movies.

And as I re-play every sad excuse for my flaying at Mr. Titleist Pro V1 as if I was a mosquito slayer/piñata buster armed with a blindfold and a Popsicle stick (even while trying to avoid thinking metaphorically), why am I feeling so negative about the same film experiences that have been my escape from death, taxes, the Clippers, and the Republican Party for lo so many years?

I think everything would be different if only Hollywood could generate a molecule’s worth of the same kind of creativity that it took for me to not duplicate one single golf swing yesterday; maybe then I wouldn’t gag the next time another comic book superhero showed up on the big screen…just when I needed more.

Good grief Charlie Brown, if I see one more Batman, Superman, Iron Man, Spider Man, X-men, Wolverine, Avengers, or just one more Sylvester Stallone combat flick regurgitated, I may never stop screaming and projectiling at my shoes…especially after a beautiful walk, ruined by an uncoordinated, discombobulated round of golf.

A trusted mentor once recommended staying in the bubble that keeps you connected with only the things you can control. Who wants to be influenced by all the negative stuff you can’t control?

So right now, golf and the movies, my historical tickets to the bubble and escapes from negative real life stuff aren’t really working like back in The Day. But I guess there’s always TV. And who isn’t totally engaged in HBO’s Game of Thrones?

I, for one, can barely tolerate friends/family/co-workers/co-spinners who somehow refuse to keep up with the Game.

But Game of Thrones isn’t exactly some kind of fantasy picnic escape. During the last two seasons (SPOILER ALERT!), a little girl was burned at the stake by her father; a mother and baby were fed to the same dogs that later chewed the face off their despicable master, and countless hundreds have had their heads chopped off or have been incinerated by foul-tempered dragons. The smartest guy in the kingdom stands about 3-feet tall but managed to shoot his father using a crossbow on the Old Man as he remained seated on a functional, porcelain version of the Throne. First episode of 2016: a 200-year old woman took her clothes off.

And I’m not sayin’ I’m feeling negative; I’m just sayin’ who doesn’t wanna watch that reality show sequel of “Deliverance” also known as the Republican National Convention? Don’t know about you but I’m getting butterflies just thinkin’ about it. Is that wrong?

Or is there a doctor in the house? Or maybe I’ll just hit the driving range for a while. Or maybe I’ll just drive through In-N-Out… Yeah, that’s the ticket.

No, why not walk a few blocks to the Pasadena Laemmle and see a heartwarming indy film like “Hunt for the Wilderpeople?” I took the walk. And after being swept away by two unlikely characters, reluctantly embracing the possibility of family during their own escape through the New Zealand bush, I’ll be ready for the real world tomorrow.

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Jack Von Bulow, DDS
Jack Von Bulow, DDS
Temple City Dental Care

9929 E. Las Tunas Drive
Temple City, CA 91780
Call: 626-285-3161
Fax: 626-285-5379
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