Friday, July 25, 2014

Paid forward

Since getting my Magic Bullet four weeks ago, I haven't eaten solid breakfast food since. No eggs, bacon, sausage or hash browns. I love that stuff but somehow I don't miss it. I guess it's eaier to give up a vice when you have something good with which to replace it. However, I have retained the vice of enjoying coffee in the morning so I still patronize the McDonald's drive-thru for that.
Last Thursday morning at McDonald's for coffee. When I pulled up to the cashier, she said, "Today is your lucky day; the person in the car ahead of you paid for your coffee!" Huh. How about that? I've heard of that happening before but never been on the receiving end or even seen it happen to anyone. I waved at the driver ahead of me who must have been watching the whole thing in their mirror. They waved back before moving on. I pulled up to the pick-up window, they drove off and I never saw them again. It was a nice feeling and I immediately thought I needed to repay the gesture by doing the same thing for some other stranger the very next morning.
That's what I did and these are the (at that point, unwitting) recipients...
Turns out there were two people in the car who were getting full breakfasts. I guess I could have taken the opportunity to prosthelytize at great length about the merits of starting one's day behind a delicious fresh fruit smoothie instead of greasy salt bombs (no offense McDonald's, but that shit is, well, shit) but I haven't been at it long enough to do so and also, nobody likes that. In all, I ended up losing about $10 in the two days combined transactions, but that's okay. It was fun enough to be worth it. I watched the "victims" fall in line behind me, being the only person in the world who knew what was about to happen to them, that a small gesture was about to make their day a little better, at least for a moment. It was very much like pulling a prank, except nobody got hurt or even embarrassed. Yet in spite of that, it was still fun somehow.
I just saw a story yesterday online about a guy who met a soldier at an airport and ended up paying for a weekend's vacation for that soldier and his family. One of the comments on the story was from someone who said they wished they had enough money to do stuff like that. That is a very impressive gesture and I'm sure it was appreciated, but you don't have to do anything on that grand of a scale. You can do something similar for mere pennies.
Or less, if you're creative. When I worked at the Sun Dome, I used to look at the ticket manifest prior to a concert and pick twenty or thirty names at random. I'd give those names to Shannon, our production manager, and he would program messages saying "THE SUN DOME WELCOMES _____ TO TONIGHT'S SHOW" that would run on the scoreboards before the concert started. Sometimes those people would seek out a member of management to ask why they were being welcomed and we'd tell them, "we're just happy you're here." Zero dollars spent to make someone's night just a little more special. Pretty solid investment, I thought.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

No longer my heroes

Like most American males, I grew up reading comic books. Specifically, comic books featuring superheroes. As such, the heroes featured in those books are part of my upbringing. And as such, it saddens me a little bit that it's getting harder to recognize those heroes.
(WARNING: What follows is almost entirely an old man rant that steers awfully close to complaining about how youngsters today are a buncha lazy, good-fer-nuthin' numbskulls who don't even know how much better things were back in the good ol' days. If that kind of thing doesn't appeal to you, I would kindly suggest that you tune out now and get off my lawn.)
I first started chafing over this issue in 1989 when Tim Burton's "Batman" came out and superhero movies became a genre. In that movie, Batman showed up in an all-black rubber suit. He looked cooler than Adam West in the old TV show and I understand you have to make stylistic changes for movies. It was jarring though. Then the X-Men came along and they all wore black suits and not the distinctive costumes they each wore in the comics. Later, Spiderman became a movie franchise and Peter Parker no longer relied on an apparatus worn on the wrist to shoot webs, but secreting web fluid from his body, like an actual spider. Okay, those all make sense. I don't care for those changes but I understand them. Director Joel Shumacher took over the Batman movies and his first great idea was to put the characters in suits that accentuated their nipples. Nobody understood that one.
Somewhere along the line, though, the comic books changed to reflect the look and tone of the movies (sans nipples, thankfully). They also started major plot shifts and re-boots. Superman got killed. Batman had his back broken. Characters were being killed off and brought back in different forms. For the most part, I went with the flow, even though I didn't really like it. For one thing, I really don't read comic books anymore. The last time I read one was an issue of The Avengers, in which all the characters were outfitted with a sardonic world view. Back in the day, only Spiderman dared to riff and quip wise during his fight scenes. Now all of them were firing off snarky commentary. This, I recognized as a direct result of the success of the Iron Man movies, or more accurately, Robert Downey Jr.'s portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man. Because in the comic books I read growing up, Iron Man wasn't particularly charming and he definitely wasn't the big deal in the Marvel Universe that he is now. Sure, he was the leader of The Avengers, but he was a recovering alcoholic and pretty somber.
Things really turned sour for me when Captain America, my very first favorite comic book hero, showed up on the big screen with wings painted on the side of his head. Painted wings! In the comics, he had actual little wings on the side. In the same way I like Superman and Batman better with their briefs on the outside of their tights, I want Captain America with actual little wings on the side of his head. I know none of those things make sense but that's how I grew up with them and that's how I like them!
This was when it began to dawn on me that the comic book super heroes were moving on without me. That the timeless characters now belonged to new generations of fans and that they would be adapting to suit their needs and wants, not remaining stagnant to suit mine. This was tough to swallow but I really had no choice in the matter. That didn't stop me from railing against some of the changes, though.
Earlier this year, it was announced that they're going to take a stab at re-booting the Fantastic Four movie franchise, this time with a black actor playing Johnny Storm/The Human Torch. Of course, I hated this idea and upon registering my displeasure, was accused of being a racist. I was ready for this, though, and had a counter-argument. If they feel they want to have a black actor portray a member of the Fantastic Four, fine. Let's cast him as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic. Making him the Human Torch means you either have to waste valuable screen time explaining why he has a white sister in Sue Storm/Invisible Girl or explaining how they aren't brother and sister anymore. Meanwhile, Reed Richards is one of the most brilliant minds in the Marvel Universe, he's the leader of the Fantastic Four and he'd be married to a white woman in Sue Storm. Why can't that character be played by a black actor and who's racist now?
In spite of feeling like I win that argument, more changes that sadden me continue to come down the pipe. Most notably last week's announcements that Thor will now be a woman and worst of all, my beloved Captain America is going to be killed off (again). Well, it's actually Steve Rogers who has always been Captain America will be replaced by the more-than-worthy-successor Sam Wilson, his former partner The Falcon. But still.
Things change and so do people, even fictional people who are perfectly fine the way they are. This is something I have no choice but to accept, even though I don't have to like it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Clark is Famous" - A guest post by Carrie Bailey

If you have a web site of any kind, it can be a blog or an online store or anything really, you know how exciting it is when you suddenly see a sudden, unexplained surge in traffic. After the initial thrill of seeing your numbers spike, you immediately want to know why. Sometimes that's a question that's impossible to answer and you have a bonafide mystery on your hands. However, most of us are unwilling to accept that as a satisfactory resolution.
Such was the case when Carrie Bailey found a crazy surge in traffic to a post on her site where she interviewed me. Of course, I'm in love with her so I'm thrilled about anything that draws her attention to me but I have no idea why that happened. I'm not equipped to address questions regarding me and popularity. As a vibrant, creative woman , Carrie has her own ideas. She also loves writing and coffee and me, although maybe not in that order. That's why she wrote this:

Clark is famous. Not famous like being photographed on the red carpet - nominated for an Oscar - dating younger women who’ve been under the knife more times than they’ve spelled their own name correctly. Not that. Not yet. But, he is officially a real talent. One-to-watch. The elusive up and coming of the writing community. Hold the fruit when he takes the stage. He has fans.

Yep, Clark Brooks has clawed, joked and tickled his way from obscurity to a guaranteed source of viral internet traffic. He is a man in demand.

Fact.

Just this week, his interview, Clark Brooks: My Favorite Funny Man, on Peevish Penman received 1400 hits. Overall, he’s been read more than 9000 times…on a blog, which has been archived for over a year. Seriously, that’s like selling out an open-air venue in Antarctica. If Clark Brooks was a stock and not just another golden personality, now would be the time to buy.

Clark has got the funny.

So, now that we know we’re all about be the people who knew Clark before, it’s time to take action, take advantage and capitalize on his popularity before he hires a team of bodyguards.

And just as show of goodwill to everyone about to share my good fortune, I’ve complied a list of 20 favors everyone should ask of Clark to make sure that all of us little people get a cushy place on his bandwagon.

Get his home telephone number – Pay your rent or mortgage for the year by selling a small slice of Clark’s privacy to the media. Don’t worry – he’ll understand.

Have Clark sign a book – It doesn’t have to be his book necessarily. We just need a sample of his John Handcock that is clear and easy to forge for when his biography is released.

Take pictures with Clark – At least a dozen. Find him at Christmas party, in the street, at home and snap, snap, snap! You’re going to want enough so you can post one or two a year online and make it seem like he’s still willing to hang out with you.

Become an Officer in the Official Clark Brooks Fan Club – Oh yeah, we can all skimp a little fame for ourselves by being the people that knew Clark and at the same time profit from charging a minor membership fee for administrative expenses. I’m thinking $350 annually or $50 per month.

Invite Clark to Vegas, get him drunk and marry him – You get one shot at being the lucky woman with the fat alimony checks. Of course, I did just hear that gay marriage has been legalized in Florida, so the competition might get a little intimidating with 100% of the population in the running, but when are you going to find another opportunity like this? Nope, this is a once in a lifetime chance to be his ex.

Volunteer to work as Clark’s bodyguard, chef, PA, housekeeper, laundry person, accountant, head of security, media representative, wardrobe specialist, dog groomer, social media specialist, lawyer and/or hairstylist – Stay close to the funny man. Even if Clark doesn’t have a dog or hair, you need to apply some lateral thinking to wedge yourself into a permanent position in his life. But, you’ve got to practice your sob story for when the day comes that he wants to hire someone who knows how to do the job…and pay them.

Loan Clark money – Whatever funds you have or can raise, get them NOW and send EVERYTHING to Clark. The signed promissory note stipulating a 219.99% interest rate is crucial. But, if you can’t get him to take your generous offer of support, review favor number two on this list and use what you’ve got to pay off the witnesses. Then, pat yourself on the back. You’ll be sending all your kids to the college of their choice!

Raid his house and loot his personal possessions – Possibly the most dangerous option on this list and not exactly a “favor” in the traditional sense of the word, having and owning something the man once used is in everyway an absolutely wise investment – whatever it may be. Alternatively, you can dig through his rubbish bin.

Fame.

It’s so much harder than it looks. I’m personally distraught about what it’s going to do to him. Being famous can change a man. All the people he thought he could trust are sure to turn on him just for a piece of the spotlight or a miniscule profit (Not me, Clark!).

It’s just not fair.

I know.

And I know you’re thinking, “I could never take advantage of Clark Brooks.” But, that’s just one moral hurdle you’re going to have to jump. In the time it took me to write this post today, his interview was read another 650 times. There’s no stopping
it. And there is no stopping the funny man.

Yep, the time to ask Clark for a favor… is now.
 
Guest Post by Carrie Bailey

Aw, look how cute we are together when we wake up in the morning. Especially you, Perry Block. LOOK!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sure, we're making progress...but what about the cake?!?

On Wednesday, the Hillsborough County Commission voted unanimously for an amendment that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identification. Unanimously, as in liberal and conservative. It's a step closer to erasing a 1995 vote that excluded gays, lesbians and transgender folks from civil rights protection. This same group recently voted unanimously to remove a ban on county recognition of gay rights events and displays that had been in place since 2005. These are pretty stunning developments. As recently as 1997, you could still hunt lesbians for sport (in season, with proper licensing) as long as you used the whole lesbian, the way Native Americans used all the parts of the whole buffalo. And up until 1993, you could legally seize a gay couple's home if you could hold their house keys high enough above your head (while standing flat-footed, of course; fair is fair) that they couldn't reach up (no jumping!) and take them back away from you.
This would seem to indicate that as a group, all of our county commissioners are capable of making decisions that move us forward and benefit the greater good of all citizens without regard to party politics. That's tremendous and something all voters should feel pretty good about. Of course, not everybody sees it that way, however. This is a comment on the Tampa Tribune's story:
"...This amendment means people that have personal convictions or beliefs contrary about LGBT lifestyle could face a lawsuit. Example a bakery declining to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple because of their personal belief can now be fined because this is view as discrimination."
Obviously, this is a reference to the bakery in Colorado that refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple and all the argle-bargle that followed that. What I like is how all the consequences of this as a social and/or religious matter are now measured in cake-based terms. Yes! Has anyone considered the ones affected the most by these decisions? What about the poor, delicious cake?!? Uh, I'm pretty sure it's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Dacquoise, you son of a bitch! What is the impact of these decisions in terms of cake? Who's going to make the cake? Who's not going to make the cake? Who's going to eat the cake?* What about the cake? WHAT ABOUT THE CAKE?!?
Similar to how I learned that a crowded movie theater is the only place where you can get in trouble for yelling "FIRE!", who is at risk of being sued unless they forsake their religious beliefs to make a four-tiered yellow sponge cake, filled and frosted with a smooth, rich vanilla buttercream and almond marzipan and fine raspberry preserves providing sweet accents to the creamy filling is the only thing I'm going to think of from now on when someone yells "GAY MARRIAGE!!" in a crowded movie theater.

Of course, one could point out that nobody in Florida can make a wedding cake for lesbians even if they wanted to because gay people can't marry each other in this state. And that's the real problem here, at least as someone who can legally marry people sees it. I'd like to point out that I'm very good at that, with a current success rate of 1.000%. Bakeries are always going to make their money because people are always going to love cakes. And tortes and pies and cookies and cupcakes and... Meanwhile, the ban on same sex marriages that currently exists in the state of Florida effectively restricts me from marrying two thirds of all possible combinations of eligible male and female wedding participants. Throw in the the fact that a bunch of the remaining 33% are already married to each other and there's only, what, about 20 people here that I could possibly join in holy matrimony. That's some bullshit there.

I guess it just further illustrates that it's great that we're making progress but we have miles to go before we sleep, people.





* I, for one, am going to eat the cake.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bad date(s)

I've had lots and lots of dates over the last few years. Some have been pretty good. Most have been awful, like my most recent one.
I had two tickets to see Morris Day and The Time last Saturday. I mentioned this to somebody I thought didn't hate me. Her response was to tell me about a friend of hers who is "really nice and lots of fun. She would love that. You guys would have so much!" Me, in possession of an extra ticket and apparently incapable of ever learning the most basic of life lessons said sure. I don't know why I don't just adapt a relatively reasonable and minimal-risk approach to dating like picking up what may or may not be tranny hookers on Nebraska Avenue but I guess I'm just not that bright.
She put us in contact and we exchanged text messages and pictures. It turns out that this was where things went off the rails, a full 48 hours before the actual date. I showed up outside the Mahaffey Theatre and recognized her immediately, sitting on a bench outside of the box office. She looked confused. "You don't look like your picture", she said. "I don't?", I replied, genuinely surprised. "That's weird. It's the most recent picture I have on my phone. In fact, it's the only picture I have on my phone."
The picture I sent, me with Lynne Koplitz, taken on May 22.
"Well, it's okay", she said. She got up and we headed toward the box office when she stopped, turned to me and said, "why didn't you just send a picture of yourself? It's no big deal." Well, except now it is, I'm thinking. I don't need my integrity challenged by somebody I've just met. I said, "Show me the picture you think I sent you." She thumbed through her phone and eventually came up with something that looked kind of like this:
It wasn't a young, care-free Casey Kasem but a guy who kind of looked like him
"I didn't send you that. I have no idea who that guy is and I've never seen that picture before in my life" She just shrugged and said "huh". I didn't really want to drop it but I thought that things might get better, so I did.
Things didn't get better.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that while I do not have direct knowledge of Hitler ever having sex with my grandmother, that this date was worse than that. I feel comfortable in making this statement because if Adolph Hitler had shown up at some point during the date via some sort of time travel device and said to me, "I'm about to have sex mit your grandmother. Vould you like to come along and watch?", I'd have probably said yes. Sorry, grandma, but I was not having a nice time.
  • She had at least eight drinks.
  • She got up to use the bathroom at least eight times.
  • We were in seats 35 and 36. That means she climbed over 35 people (including me) approximately 32 times.
  • She took great satisfaction in smuggling two bags of Fritos past the ushers who were enforcing a "no food in the auditorium" rule.
  • She kept telling me I was funny, which I normally love, but I wasn't trying to be funny. In fact, I was going out of my way to not be funny. Or appealing or even friendly eventually. Such as when I started live Tweeting about what a shitty date it was. "What are you typing?" "Some disparaging shit about you." "Ha ha ha ha! You're so funny!" "Yeah, okay." "So do you want to go somewhere when the show is over?" "Oh, I don't know. I'm kind of hoping to be murdered in the parking lot." "Ha ha ha ha!"
  • Fritos. Seriously.
  • At one point, she said, "I'm into black guys." I'm not sure how a white guy is supposed to react to his date telling him that during a date, but for my part, it was an enormous relief. Shortly after, a young (college aged, like 22 or 23) black kid, came up the aisle on his way to the lobby and she said, "Here, watch this." She stopped him and said, "are you Pam's son?" He just said no and kept walking. "See? How come I can't get black guys to like me?" I had so many questions and against my own better judgment, asked all of them. "What was that? Were you trying to pick him up? Was that a pick-up line?" "He looked like my friend Pam's son. Pam is my best friend and she's black." "Okay...so do you want to hook up with your best friend's...excuse me, your black best friend's son?" "No, no, I didn't really think he was her son. That was just a conversation starter. An ice breaker" "No, it wasn't. It was question, a question which he answered with one word and went about his business. There was no ice broken. I suppose he could have said, 'who the hell is Pam?' which would be a longer response but that's still not really a conversation." "So what should I do to get black guys to notice me?" "Well, I didn't expect to be put in the position of having to speak on behalf of young black men, but..." "Ha ha ha ha ha!! You are SO funny!" 
  • During the show, she asked me, "what did he say?". Who does that during a concert?? It's annoying when elderly people do that during movies. This was a Morris Day and The Time concert! "What did he say?" "He said, 'I'm about to walk a hole in my Stacey Adams'" "What's that?" "It's a brand of shoes". "Ha ha ha ha! He's so funny!"
Morris Day has been wearing, and singing about, these shoes since 19effing81.
I don't know if she ever figured out where that other photo came from and why she didn't get mine. I have given strict orders to the person who paired us up to not tell me if she ever does. And also to never try to fix me up with any of her nice and fun friends ever again.

Monday, July 14, 2014

And that was what time it was

At this point, there aren't many musical artists that I'm dying to see live in concert that I haven't already seen. The list shrunk by one on Saturday when I finally saw Morris Day and the Time play at the Mahaffey Theatre in St. Petersburg. Well, it wasn't all of the original Time. No Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Jesse Johnson or Jerome Benton. It wasn't even the Time 2.0 which is the band portrayed as Prince's rivals in Purple Rain. Being a fan of the whole Prince Mineapolis multiverse since I was a kid, it would have been nice to see those guys (seriously, was Jerome too busy?). As it stands right now, there's some legal matters that complicate things when it comes to the Time, mostly because Prince still owns the rights to the band's name. When the original line-up gets together to record, they do so now as The Original 7ven. Meanwhile, Morris Day can put a band together with just about anybody in it and tour as "Morris Day and the Time" and that's who I saw. It was still a great show though, with original members 'Jellybean' Johnson on drums and Monte Moir on keys. They put on a great show; how could they not, with the ever-charismatic Morris Day fronting them? Of course they played "The Bird" and (show closer) "Jungle Love" which everybody knows from the movie, along with "The Walk", "Wild and Loose" and "777-9311" which got airplay back in the '80s as well as "Chocolate" and "Pandemonium" for the benefit of true, long-time fans (like me). It really was a great night, in spite of my date being an utter train wreck, a story I will tell here on Wednesday.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Finally! A new podcast! Sittin' around talkin' with Lynne Austin

Well, looky here! After a three-month hiatus (which is Latin for slacking off), here's a brand shiny new podcast for you!

Remember when I interviewed Lynne Austin on the blog way back in 2009? Of course you do; it's only the most popular post in the history of the ol' purple blog (thank you so much, perverts looking for naked pictures of the original Hooters Girl!!). Well, that was five long years ago and lots of stuff can happen in five years, such as her becoming one of my favorite people and probably the most organically funny person I know. Hence the necessity for a new interview! Except La Austin doesn't do interviews anymore, so this is just us having a conversation about various things. If you think you know all about the woman who was a Playboy centerfold, a baseball wife, a radio personality and of course, the face (and other stuff) that launched a billion chicken wings, you might be surprised by what she has to say.
So hear it is, The Ridiculously Inconsistent Podcast with special guest Lynne Austin. Enjoy!

Also, you need to know that she did make me some homemade butter and it was delicious.