Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dennis the Menace is gay!

Well, he's still just a kid so not yet. I mean, he is already. You are what you are, from birth, what with your true nature being a part of your genetic blueprint and all, so he is gay already. He's just not, um, practicing. That's not what I mean. Active? No, that's wrong too. He's dormant! Well, more like...oh, just look for yourself! Oh Dennis. I know a young man is going to want to "experiment" and when you're a child, there's no more trusted friend than the family dog. But for good ol' Ruff's sake...and yours...please don't play "Hide The Harmonica" with him. Believe me, when the time comes, you will be AMAZED by what can (and can't) go where.

"Wouldn't some fresh blueberry scones an' a cappuccino machine be nice? The terrazzo floors are tres tacky and for heaven's sake, would it kill you to open up the space a little bit and let it breathe? Honestly, how many shelves full of books do you need?"

This beachside confab with his mother about his father’s shortcomings is obviously foreshadowing a future where mom will make day trips, alone, into the city to visit him and Joey (a total bottom if there ever was one) at their loft in the theatre district. And look where dad's attention is drawn. Perhaps the apple didn't fall far from the tree, hmmmmm?

Here we see Dennis' longtime companion Joey and lifetime nemesis Margaret. This encounter further foretells a future life wherein Dennis owns a small coffee shop, supporting dancer/waiter Joey and is constantly hassled by strident lesbian Margaret for not being more active in the gay community.

Yeah. Ok. I think it's pretty obvious the only things bloomin' at this dinner table are a young boy's sexuality and an increasingly strained father-son relationship. The hot cup of coffee in his dad’s hand and the ease with which he could be backhanded right out of that chair and across the room are the only things keeping Dennis from complimenting his mother’s FABULOUS floral centerpiece. A fragrant bouquet of bitterness, disappointment and resentment will continue to blossom between the two of them, unlike the preternaturally stemmed flower on display in the bud vase.

There you have it; several factors that foretell the eventual gay path young Dennis will take, making him far more of a "menace" in some people's eyes than anything he ever did in the funny papers.

Monday, August 28, 2006


I enjoy sports and enhancing the enjoyment of sports is my enjoyment of the fantasy sports. No doubt you've heard of this. It's now a multi-million dollar enterprise in it's own right, with magazines, web sites, talk radio and even television programs. The concept is pretty basic. You draft and trade for a collection of real life players on pro teams and then use your sports accumen to make line-ups that pit the best of your players against another person's players. Based on the real life statistics produced by of those players, your team earns points. The winner is the person who can most effectively manage his or her team to earn points and defeat their opponents. The reason it's called "fantasy" sports is because you get to be the coach, general manager and owner of a team of players! That concept sounded like a great deal of fun to me and is what attracted me to the fantasy sports realm. I relished the idea of having my own team and doing whatever I wanted with it. For instance, I made up team colors, logos, stadium names and even front office employees whose exploits I would detail in regularly issued press releases. Like this one, from my hockey team, the Wimauma Surf Midgets:

WIMAUMA, FL (October 15, 2001) - After extensive negotiations, the Wimauma Surf Midgets have reached an agreement to sell the naming rights to their home arena. The building, formerly the Wimauma School Book Depository and Sheep Shearing Pavilion, will from now on be known as the Sip N Zip Arena.
"We're very excited to have this partnership with the folks at the Sip N Zip convenience store", said Surf Midgets president and general manager Buddy 'Bud' Buddweiller. "Sip N Zip presented a much more attractive bid than the ones we got from Buy N Fly, Gulp N Go or even Shop N Suk".
After some initial resistance, the Wimauma City Council supported the re-naming of the semi-historic building. "I didn't know that they had the legal right to sell the name", said councilman Luther Gringo. "But then, I didn't even know we hadn't torn the place down after the '95 fire so I guess it don't really matter".
The financial benefit of this move is expected to pay immediate dividends for the Surf Midgets, currently in 3rd place in the Red Rocket Fantasy Hockey League. "Now we can finally put a down payment on that puck refinisher we've been looking at!", said head coach Lester Guy.

Unfortunately, most people who get into fantasy sports don't have any interest in nonsense like that. For them, fantasy sports is just another form of gambling and they invest as much creativity into it as you would in buying lottery tickets. Of course, they would have you believe that there's much more skill to it than that; it's more like handicapping thoroughbreds. Ok, I'll concede that. But I know more people who've pocketed cash scratching off lotto tickets than those who've picked derby winners. I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, yesterday I went to a draft party for a new football league I'm joining this year. The draft is the one time during a fantasy season where all the particpants are in one place, sharing camaraderie. I didn't enjoy myself, as is always the case with gatherings like that. As I allude to in the profile, the concept of male bonding is completely lost on me. A Guy's Night Out (Men! Hanging out with Men! Doing Manly things!) is pretty much my idea of a totally wasted evening. All nice enough guys at this particular draft party, but I just don't crave any desire to spend my precious leisure time among guys. For one thing, you always get the sense that everybody is trying a little too hard to get their testerone on. Everybody wears a football jersey, everybody drinks beer from cans and everybody swears a lot. Ok, I like to wear jerseys (I didn't yesterday, though) but I hate the taste of beer from a can and I already think I swear too much so I frequently find myself making a conscious effort not to. At this party yesterday, there was actually a guy playing DJ with an assortment of porn DVDs all afternoon. I guess a banner stating "THERE'S A WHOLE BUNCH OF GUYS IN HERE BUT ABSOLUTELY NONE OF US ARE GAY" in the front yard probably violated some neighborhood deed restriction. Also, anytime you get more than four guys together in any kind of sports environment, you're just about guaranteed get at least a few of the hyper-competetive jock wannabes. They're either guys who were super stud athletes in high school or guys who didn't play sports at all in high school but they're from somewhere else and nobody knows that about them, so now's their chance to show them (whoever 'them' is). You find A LOT of these guys in rec league softball but they're also heavily involved in the fantasy sports scene. They tend to laugh really loudly when somebody drafts Deshaun Foster without knowing his 40 yard dash time is 3/80ths of a second slower than it was last year. They're assholes and I find assholes tedious. Not that there were any assholes at this thing yesterday. As far as I could tell, there weren't. But it still wasn't really my kind of thing. So while everyone else spent the time between their draft choices contemplating the combined all-purpose yardage of somebody named Santonio Holmes, I was looking at the clock, wondering if I'd get out of there in time to have a quiet dinner with some friends before going back to their apartment to do some more work on the documentary film we're producing on women leaders in Tampa Bay government.
So why do I do it? Well, like I said, it is fun. Even if nobody else enjoys the silly stuff I waste time on, I do. Like the fight song I wrote for my beloved Wimauma Surf Midgets:
"Hail, Hail Wimauma
Onward maroon and black
For we are the mighty Midgets of the Surf
Always on the attack
We rant, riot, rock and rave
As we seek the perfect wave
We never, ever get uptight
Or too depressed about our lack of height
Bow, bow to Wimauma
Legends of the ice
For we are the mighty Midgets of the Surf
And we're cheap at half the price"
Plus, maybe this year I'll win the motherf***ing championship and show those c***suckers who's the man! WHO'S THE MAN? WHO'S THE GODDAMN MAN?!?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I am the King of the self checkout!

There are not a lot of things I brag about being good at. And if you've read any of the entries in this blog, you know that's justified. However, the small handful of things I can do well, I do very, very, VERY well. One of those things being using the self checkout line at Wal Mart. I am great at that! So great, I can't even tell you, but it's sick, how great I am. Other people have trouble getting the bar code to scan...if they can even find the bar code in the first place. I watch them running the same bottle of ketchup over the scanner 10 or 11 times, getting no result. I see them standing there, paralyzed in befuddlement, trying to figure out how to select a method of payment or where the change is dispensed or where the receipt prints out. If they have to use the scale function to weigh produce or if there's an item without a bar code, I just get out of line because there is absolutely no chance that they will ever complete the transaction during my time on earth. It's like watching a monkey trying to operate the space shuttle. I'd have nothing but seething contempt for these people if not for the small perentage of pity I allow myself to graciously give them. What these people should do when they see me coming is just back away and let me go ahead of them so they can take notes. That way they can learn the subtle wrist adjustments to make that guarantees bar code reading every single time. They can marvel at how swiftly and efficiently I bag my purchases (before the computerized voice even completes the "Please place your purchases in the bagging area" prompt, I've alreay got my stuff bagged and in the cart. Save your helpful hints for someone who needs them, Robo-helper). They can watch in awe as I grab my receipt with my left hand and scoop up my change with my right at the same time!
Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if a high-ranking Wal Mart executive happened to be touring the store when I was there checking out. I can see a group of people in short sleeves and ties carrying clipboards chattering excitedly to the Vice President of Checkout Operations about their efforts to increase sales of sugar-free gum and Archie Comics digests by placing them strategically between the TV Guides and Big Grab Doritos when he stops them and commands "Silence! Who's that guy?", drawing their focus to me as I effortlessly breeze through the process with my typical grace and pinache. "Oh, he's, uh, just a customer, sir", says one of the assistant managers. "One of our REGULAR customers, sir", says one of the more savvy, career-minded assistant managers. "Well, I don't know who he is either", says the VP, "but that kid is good. Real good!" He would come over to me as I was leaving and say, "Hi there, Bob Melmurd of Wal Mart. Say, I saw you using the self checkout line and I noticed that you handle yourself pretty good. Ever consider turning pro?" "Excuse me?", I'd say. "A career in professional cashiering for Wal Mart, the worldwide dominator in retail sales of any kind. Instant express lane to the big leagues, kid!", he'd exclaim. "Well, that's very flattering, but I already have a very exciting, rewarding and soul-enriching career", I'd lie. "Don't get the wrong idea. I'm not talking about random, run-of-the-mill grocery bagging. Leave that to these lowlife jamokes," he'd say, indicating the now deflated and resentful non-self checkout cashiers nearby. He would then go to on to detail a grand promotional plan that would make me the focus of Wal Mart's publicity campaign, starting with a video featuring me demonstrating my formidable skills that would become incredibly popular on YouTube. This would lead to the media picking up on this burgeoning underground sensation (me, checking out groceries). Appearances on 'Regis & Kelly', 'Ellen' and the 'Today Show' would follow. Conan would make jokes linking me and Star Jones every night in his monologue. Eventually I would check out an assortment of corporately sponsored commercial goods at halftime of the Superbowl while Outkast and a reunited Van Halen performed a medley of the Beatles greatest hits, at the end of which the register unit I was performing on would emit a shower of fireworks from the change dispenser and the scanner's laser would project an image of Elvis on the Goodyear blimp, just before it, along with all the halftime perfomers (except me), exploded.
But then my daydream ends as I realize that I've torn a small hole in the bag of cat litter I was trying to scan and am leaving a trail of it behind me as I slink off, embarrassed, to my car.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

So I guess my oven is screwed

If you ever come over to my place, I would be happy to serve you dinner. I like to cook for people and when it comes to some foods, I think I'm pretty good at it too. However, if you come over, I can pretty much guarantee we will not be eating any thing that comes from the oven. Yes ma'am, stove top only at my place. No baked ziti, pizza pie or lasagna. No cakes, no pies, no cupcakes. No roast turkey, meatloaf or tuna casserole.
Here's why:
This wasn't always the case. I used to bake without fear or trepidation. But that all changed the other night when I attempted to broil a steak. I washed the steak and patted it dry with a towel. I prepared a marinade with wine and seasoning and let it set for 45 minutes. I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. I then set the oven to broil when I put the steak in. I then put it under the broiler with the intention of letting it cook on each side for seven to nine minutes. That's when everything went horribly, horribly wrong.
I immediately sat down on the couch and started watching the previous night's 'Late Night with Conan O'Brien' on DVR and in less than four minutes (I know it was less than four minutes, because the applause hadn't even died down enough for Conan to start his monologue), I saw some smoke coming from the kitchen. In the time it took me to get up and walk at 'OH SHIT' speed to the kitchen (a distance of about 15 feet), the entire apartment was filled, and I mean FILLED, with smoke. My eyes are stinging, tears are forming and I can't see the far wall across the room. Of course, by now the alarm is going off from the smoke detector ("Oh good, that works!") which adds to the charming atmosphere. I turn off the oven, turn on the overhead fan, pull the sizzling cinder beef out of the oven and make my way to where the smoke detector is mounted on the ceiling, hoping there's a reset, or 'all-clear' button that can be pushed to shut it off. The red button doesn't do anything. Neither does the green one. And now that I'm inches away from the screaming device, I can feel the high-pitched sound waves making every loose piece of my head rattle and throb. Being the cromag specimen that I am, I decide to pull the thing off it's mount and see if I can destroy the power source. Let's see, there's a red wire and a blue wire, just like a bomb in an action movie. Using the same logic I would use if I were in one of those movies, that being that no matter what wire gets cut, the problem is over one way or another, I yank on both wires, pulling them partially out and breaking the connection. The noise stops, which gives me a fleeting moment of satisfaction for being smarter and gutsier than Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis before turning back to what's left of my dinner.
Through the (very) slowly dissipating haze, I'm able to determine that the outer edge is burnt beyond recognition. It's solid black and flakes off into ashes when probed with a fork. Meanwhile, at the center just below the brown surface the meat is pink, slimy and cold (how in the hell is that even possible?!?). Ah, but the thin round ribbon between these two extremes is...perfect! What I have is an approximately 1" wide ring of delicious steak. Figuring the drama is basically over, I sit down to eat dinner. If concerned neighbors had heard the alarm and noticed any of the smoke seeping out, they would have been justified in calling the fire department. And if the fire department had showed up and knocked my door down with axes, they'd have been treated to the sight of me enveloped in a carcinogenic meat fog, contentedly eating a steak ring, watching a rerun of Conan O'Brien while a disemboweled smoke detector dangled harmlessly from the ceiling.
The best I can figure is that some steak juice somehow spilled onto the heating element or some hot surface or something. Because tonight I went to use it again, this time for Totino's Party Pizza (sooo good!) and smoke started pumping out again when it got hot. Not as bad this time, but it would have been if I hadn't been right there to stop it. I had used the oven before without incident so a good cleaning will probably solve the problem. The trouble with that solution is that when these problems happen, the oven is much too hot to clean and by the time it cools off enough, I will have eaten a bowl of cereal for dinner and moved on to other matters. Basically, George Bush has a better chance of getting re-elected that that oven does of ever getting cleaned.
Now, what boiled and/or fried entree would you like for dinner?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Went to the Bucs game last Friday...

...and here's that report.
  • By the time we navigated the re-routing of all major streets, which forced us to drive about three miles south of the stadium before we could even turn left to double back north, it was only about a half hour before kick-off. I like to park in the neighborhood and walk over. For some reason, I feel better about giving some nice (albeit oppurtunistic) local residents my $10 instead of the authority that operates the stadium lots. Possibly because I get to feel like I'm supporting individuals exhibiting an entrepenurial spirit at the expense of the government, but more likely because I'm saving at least five bucks, even if it means a longer walk.
  • We sat in front of some people (seen above) who I think had just come from a bar, drank like they were at a bar throughout their time at the game and were going immediately back to a bar as soon as they left. Check out that picture: Yes, the guy is 50 (actual calendar age may be 35 with an accelerated aging factor, due to heavy drinking, of 15), the girl is maybe 23 and yes, she is totally planting a major (eyes closed!) wet one on him. Wow. I don't know these people but they insisted on having their picture taken with me, even though they weren't getting any copies of it. Wow again.
  • We were entertained throughout by Creepy Season Ticket Holder Guy who spent the entire game running up and down the stairs, high-fiving people and generally being a jackass. He was the kind of guy who doesn't have quite the commitment of a face-painter or costume-and-prop-bringer or even a shirt-not-wearer but who thinks his enthusiasm is so admired that it enhances the overall game day experience for all those around him. He probably imagines people having conversations about him the next day at work: "You didn't think the game was awesome? Well, you must not have been within high-fiving distance of the guy running up and down the stairs every time the Bucs netted more than 25 yards on a punt! He really made the game come alive for me and my family. I'm so glad he was there and can't wait to go there and see him again". He probably lists his appearances on the jumbotron on his resume. Or worse, he lists that, and how many times he's participated in (or started) a wave on custom trading cards with his picture in full Bucs uniform that he carries around with him and gives people. All of this is annoying but what kicks it into creepy is that at one point he begged the cheerleaders for some strings of beads (note: here in Tampa, the way you can tell you're participating in an officially sanctioned fun-filled public activity is that there are strings of beads present. It's a pirate thing, I guess) that he then gave to some kids. As though the kids wouldn't mind breaking the first parental commandment of not taking things from strangers because he's such a SuperFan and he's making the game more fun than it would be otherwise and therby changing their young lives for the better. God bless you, Creepy Season Ticket Holder Guy! Thank you for
  • At halftime, we decided to walk over and check out the pirate ship in the north end zone. Big mistake. Imagine trying to walk through the world's largest, hottest and most crowded outdoor singles bar as every-sweaty-body else is trying to go the other way. That's what that was like. if you'd like to re-create this experience for yourself, turn off your air conditioner, crowd into your smallest closet with six friends and have them rub hot buttered toast all over you. Yeah, you're welcome.
  • We saw a sidelines photographer with a mullet. I immediately named him 'Mulettographer'. I love the fact that his vest has a great big "7" in the middle of it. I sincerely hope whoever issues those vests before the game did that on purpose. Probably not, though. That doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the sweet, delicious irony of the mulleted phographic predator becoming mulleted photographic prey.
  • I am convinced that it is utterly impossible to leave the area around raymond James Stadium and not get stuck in a major traffic jam. Most people left late in the third quarter and it still took about 45 minutes to go the 1.7 miles from there to my apartment. Which makes me question why I didn't walk from home, save the $10 and celebrate my own entrepenurial spirit
  • Oh yeah, the Bucs won. I don't remember the score. And there is absolutely no reason why you should care.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Get thee behind me, Satan (after you check your mirrors and signal properly, of course)

This is 100% true: This morning on the way to work, I found myself stuck in traffic behind a car whose license plate said SATAN. This surprised me for a couple of reasons. One, I'm pretty sure I've never actually been in the presence of The Devil before. I don't think seeing Miroslav Satan of the New York Islanders take on the Lightning counts. I mean, sure, they'll tell you that Beelzebub is everywhere but you don't ever expect him to be right in front of you waiting for the light at Himes and Hillsborough avenues to change.
I was also surprised to see that the plate itself was a "Protect Wild Dolphins" specialty plate. Who knew the Angel of the Abyss would have concerns about aquatic wildlife protection? Not me. I was also very surprised by the kind of car he drove. It was a taupe colored Chrysler Sebring sedan. Prior to today, if I had to guess what Leviathan, The Gliding Serpent tooled around town in, I probably would have said a Harley or a '67 Lincoln Continental or an AH-64 Apache helicopter or Gravedigger the monster truck or a Ford Freestar minivan or about a thousand other vehicles, all in black and/or red, before coming up with a Chrysler Sebring. Now I know better.
Another shocker was what a courteous driver The Ruler of the Kingdom of the Air appeared to be. You'd think if anybody would be a complete dick in rush hour traffic, suddenly cutting across multiple lanes to make turns, riding their brakes, cruising in your blind spot, waiting for God-knows-what before moving when the light turns green, coming to almost a complete stop before turning, etc., you'd think it would be Belial. But you'd be wrong. Nope, those are just your usual garden variety assholes in minivans.
I guess it just goes to show you that your pre-conceived notions about those you don't know are often incorrect.
Unless they drive a minivan, of course.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

EXCLUSIVE! I have the legendary deleted scenes from Purple Rain!

(EDITOR'S DISCLAIMER FROM CLARK: If you are a devoted Prince fan, you can just skip this part and go right to the good stuff. Go ahead, this is boring. We'll be right behind you. Really, don't worry about it. Have fun!
Ok, now that they're gone I just want to let you know I wrote that headline so lots of Prince freaks like me would find this site on Google and drive my hit count up. Ha ha! Don't tell them, ok? Cool, thanks.)

What you are about to see here are the long rumored but never seen deleted scenes from Prince's semi-autobiographical film 'Purple Rain'. Well, kinda. I mean, I don't have the steamy extended love scene in the barn between The Kid and Appolonia. Or the fist fight at the warehouse between The Kid and Jellybean. Or the climactic samurai sword battle between The Kid and Morris at the House Of The Blue Leaves. Plus, I don't have actual film clips of any of these scenes, just scripted dialogue that was cut from the finished film. But hey, that's more than what Warner Brothers gave you in the 20th anniversary DVD, isn't it?

Apollonia: Will you help me?
The Kid: No.
Apollonia: Pardon me?
The Kid: Nope... Wanna know why?
Apollonia: Nope.
The Kid: Because you wouldn't pass the initiation.
Apollonia: What initiation?
The Kid: Well, for starters, you have to purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.
Apollonia: What?
The Kid: You have to purify yourself in Lake Minnetonka. [She strips down, and runs towards the lake] Hey! Wait a minute! That's...
Apollonia: [stopping just before leaping in] What?
The Kid: Oh. Well, um, that ain't Lake Minnetonka.
Apollonia: Are you serious? I was going to jump in there! I could have gotten hypothermia!
The Kid: Yeah, sorry, I thought it would be funny...
Apollonia: Funny?!? Tricking someone into jumping in a lake in Minnesota in January is funny to you?
The Kid: I know, I know. I've just been going through some stuff at home lately and...
Apollonia: Look, maybe you're mad at your mother for some reason...
The Kid: Actually, it's my dad. He's...
Apollonia: Whatever. The things I do for a career in the music business. I think I just want to go home.
The Kid: Hey, don't get my seat all wet!

SECOND DELETED SCENE: Steamy extended love scene in the barn
Psyche! I told you I didn't have that. Ha ha ha ha ha!!

THIRD DELETED SCENE: In The Kid's dressing room
Billy: Let me give you some good advice, junior; Nobody digs your music but yourself.
The Kid: Well, that's an interesting observation, Billy, but it's not really advice is it? It's basically just your opinion and more of an admonishment than anything else. See, you've given me some criticism, which I didn't even ask for, by the way, but you've given me no guide to action. No suggestions to improve. So what am I supposed to do with your so-called advice? I suppose if I agreed with you, which I don't, I might try a more mainstream approach to my music or at least just try to incorporate some more familiar elements into my songs in order to reach a wider audience. But since, as I've already stated, I don't agree with your assessment, that probably isn't going to happen. But...thanks? I guess? I really don't appreciate it.
Billy: F*** you, Kid!!

FOURTH DELETED SCENE: On stage at First Avenue
The Kid: For the last time, no, I will not play 'Free Bird'!

Who would win a fight between MacGyver and Dracula?

Recently at work, a discussion came up about who would win a fight between MacGyver and Dracula because I brought it up by interrupting people while they were working and asking them "Hey, who would win a fight between MacGyver and Dracula?".
My contention is that Dracula (and by Dracula, I mean Dracula in a tux and a cape with a popped collar as portrayed by Bela Lugosi, not Gary Oldman [who is great in every other movie he's in] in a floor-length kimono with Princess Leia hair buns on his head) is a serious pimp-ass MFer, who can turn into a bat or a wolf if he wants to. Hell, neither a bat nor a wolf are things you want to mess with on a good day, let alone a man who can turn into both (or is it either?) at night. If you step to him, you'd better bring a crucifix, some holy water, several cloves of garlic, wooden stakes AND probably some silver bullets too, which still might not be enough to keep him from killing you and your friends and then taking your girlfriend, son.
Those who disagreed with my assessment argued that MacGyver is extremely resourceful and would figure out a way to create effective anti-Dracula weapons from the contents of a 3rd grader's lunchbox.
I've seen probably all of the Dracula movies ever made, including the really shitty one starring Jack Palance and I never watched MacGyver, so guess what?
Game over, MacGyver. Thanks for coming.
Dracula's got next, bitches!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I must learn how to shop

In many ways, I'm like Tarzan, or maybe Nell, the title character in that Jodie Foster movie; by all legal definitions an adult, yet utterly lacking in certain simple, basic areas of sophistication that civilized human beings take for granted. One of those areas being the use of very simple tools, including the Big Basic Three; hammer, screwdriver and pliers. I have been known to attempt to substitute any or all of those tools for each other. Another area being shopping. I'm just now starting to figure out some of the subtle nuances I wasn't aware of before, such as loading up on mass quantities of things isn't necessarily a great idea, even if there is a pretty terrific deal involved. Case in point, the Special Of The Week at the Land & Sea Market is incredible. Check it out:

8 Sirloin Burgers or 1 lb Bratwurst plus
2 Stuffed Chicken Breasts (11 varieties to choose from) plus
4 Chicken Burgers or 2 lbs Ground Chicken plus
1 lb Deli Ham or Turkey or Ground Sirloin plus
½ lb Signature Apple Walnut Chicken Salad or ½ lb Spinach and Artichoke Dip or 1 lb Greek Potato Salad
WITH YOUR CHOICE OF: 1-1/2 lbs Cooked Baby Back Ribs or 2 lb Chicken Wings or 1 lb Red Snapper Fillet

For...are you ready for this? Sit down because you won't believe it...$24.99!!!

I know, right? Impossible, or at least impractical, to pass up!
The problem is, being the sole resident of a single (human) resident household, this is far too much food to eat in a reasonable amount of time. Sure, much of it can be frozen and thawed out later, which I did, but not everything will work that way. So last night I decided to have some of the Apple Walnut Chicken Salad (an item not suitable for freezing when I bought it) for dinner. I looked at the container and it said "SELL BY AUGUST 4th". With yesterday being the 8th, I reasoned that "SELL BY" doesn't mean "EAT BY" and there must be a little margin for error and I was still well within a seven day range, so it was probably good to go. But for safety sake, I thought I'd better try a little sample first so I just tried a forkful. The first thing I thought upon tasting it was "wow, this is really spicy! Is it Cajun style?", because everything inside my mouth immediately began tingling. It kind of tasted like what I imagine the sparks coming off a saw sharpening machine must taste like. That was replaced by a really sour taste. I'm pretty sure everything that ever goes bad turns into some form of vinegar because while there may or may not have been any in there before, there definitely was some now. I figured that must be the apples decomposing. It took less than a quarter of a second for me to figure out that if the apples had turned, then surely the chicken couldn't be in good shape either and that could be really traumatic. Problem was that whatever had initially stunned me had numbed my mouth like Novacaine, or more accurately, the stings of hundreds of little red ants, or one scorpion. So now as I'm trying to spit it out, my lips and tongue are impaired and not cooperating with each other in effectively ejecting the contents from my mouth. As a result, it was less an emphatic spit of toxic material being expelled quickly than a lazy tumbling of partially chewed food falling out of my face and into the sink. I immediately washed down what was left with a big glass of milk...after checking the expiration date.
Next time, I will definitely eat the Apple Walnut Chicken Salad first.

Goin' to the Bucs game this Friday

I am not normally a fan of pre-season football games. In fact, I think they're probably the biggest single ripoff in professional sports, and there's a lot of contenders for that particular honor. Plus, for me, football is a distant third favorite when it comes to sports I like to watch. But I am going to the game between the Bucs and Jets on Friday night and am actually looking forward to it, for a couple of different reasons.
  • Even though it's August and still ridiculously hot out, there's always something fun about going to football games played at night. Probably some psychic link to high school Friday nights long ago.
  • Any opportunity to wear my throwback orange Doug Williams jersey in public is welcome. I hate it when teams make drastic changes to their colors or logos and the Bucs did both. I know lots of people hated those old uniforms but I am not one of them. I'm old fashioned and a hard line traditionalist when it comes to some things, this being one of those. And these days, when more and more teams look the same (how many variations on dark blue, light blue, black and silver do we need anyway?), anything that stands out is good.
  • I'm making a conscious effort to get more into football this year. I still think the NFL is vastly overrated and I don't expect that perception to change but I want to try to enjoy the games and the whole experience around that. We'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

This Little Piggy

I was lacking an effective method of collecting spare pocket change so I bought a piggybank the other day...but not just any standard issue piggybank. This is a talking, calculating piggybank. It looks just like the one pictured here, except it's purple. If you want one, you can buy one here:
Behold the conversation I had with my friend Kaye about it:
ME: Hi. I bought a battery operated purple piggy bank that talks and keeps track of the balance with a built-in calculator today.
ME: I know! I can't wait to get home and feed a pile of coins into his fat, purple piggy face: "How much do you have in you now, Piggy? Here, here's a quarter. Now how much is in you? Here's two dimes. How about now, Piggy? How much money do you have in you after I give you these 14 nickels? Huh, Piggy? HOW MUCH?!?". And that about sums up my plans for the rest of the week.
KAYE: So, does it speak or does it just have a read out screen? What does it do with dollar bills?
ME: It does both, Kaye! It. Does. Both! Sadly however, it does not recognize the dollar bills, so it is incapable of maintaining an accurate ledger with that particular currency.
KAYE: How much was it? And can it tell you how much it was?
ME: It was $15 and needs 3 AA batteries. Question; How awesome would it be if it could tell you that? Answer; So awesome I can't even tell you.

Needless to say, I could hardly wait to get it home, open it up and start saving, although I couldn't help wondering how much money I'd actually be able to keep in there. In spite of technological advances, the placement of any kind of computer processing unit capable of keeping track of multiple deposits and withdrawals, and communicating each of these transactions verbally must certainly reduce the actual coin storage space available. Ahh, no matter. I'm sure it can hold at least $10 in there.
I got the packaging open and discarded the manual (seriously, if I need a manual to operate even the most elaborate piggy bank ever invented, I have bigger problems than where to store my loose coin) I opened the little hatch on the piggy's belly and inserted the batteries. Immediately, it started talking. 'Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!'. "Whoa, little fella", I chuckled. "We'll get to that in just a minute or two. Just as soon as I can put the screw back in the battery hatch". I realized I had dropped the screw somewhere on the floor and the bank talked again 'I love small change'. "Heh heh, well, just hang on...trying to find the screw here...". I find the screw and now I'm putting it in the hole and can't seem to get it lined up when I get 'Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!' again. "All right, damn it!" Now the screw is lined up in the hole but it's one of those screws that can be a regular flathead or a Phillips but neither screwdriver seems to want to stay in the slot, so I'm struggling to get the thing tightened up. 'I'm saving for a rainy day!'
"Will you just shut up a goddamn minute?" 'Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!' "FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST, OK!! HERE! HERE'S A QUARTER!!!" 'That was a quarter. A quarter is twenty five cents!' "I know. I just told you that!" 'I love small change!' "Small change? Guess what, asshole? A quarter is the most you're getting! It's all I have! Good grief, what do you want from me?!?"
It sat there for a minute or so as we had a Mexican standoff, it wanting more coins, me refusing to give in and then said 'Let's play again soon' and shut itself off. Oh yeah. We'll play again. Bet your purple ass and the .25 I just inserted in you on that!
Anyway, I've now put exactly $5.32 in it, but I wish I'd kept the manual because I can't figure out how to get the money out of it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Lights out!

I was sitting around here tonight doing whatever it is I do when I'm sitting around here at night while a pretty major thunderstorm was taking place outside (in case you didn't know, Tampa Bay is considered the lightning capital of the united states, if not the world). The lights flickered a couple of times and then went out completely. I happened to be looking outside when that happened and I saw a bright, orange glow from around the corner I recognized instantly as something that is on fire that normally isn't on fire because it's not supposed to be on fire. It died right out so I didn't panic but it was obvious that a transformer had blown and the lights were not going to be coming on again any time soon so I did a quick threat assessment and inventory of available resources: "Let's see, I've already determined the building probably isn't on fire. I'm inside, the food in the 'fridge will be fine as long as I don't open the door every 15 minutes and I'm pretty sure it's ok to use the toilet during a thunderstorm so I'm in good shape. Now, what do I have here to keep me amused/alive until things are back to normal? A working cell phone, a lit candle and a fully charged iPod. Hell, I'm set!"
It was immediately after that where I revealed myself as just another typical, stupid, suburban 21st century meat puppet. Because while sitting in the dark listening to the iPod and watching the storm outside I found myself considering the following options:
  • "Might as well catch up on some reading. Oh wait..."
  • "I wonder what's on tv?"
  • "I can update the blog. No, no I can't."
  • "This place could use a good vacuuming. D'oh!"
  • "I wonder what's on tv?"
  • "Can't update the blog but I could just visit some websi...damn it!"
  • "With all this time on my hands, there's no excuse not to practice reading tab and working on those chords. Well, other than the fact that I can't see and I'm an idiot"
  • "Well, even if I can't access the web, I could at least check my email. Although there is no email if there is no e, now is there dummy?"
  • "I wonder what's on tv?"

And yes, every single time I got up and went to another room, I did hit the lightswitch.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Where I work is a pretty cool place when it comes to management taking care of the rank and file. It's no Google but they do a nice job of giving out occassional unscheduled perks. One of those perks is a lady who comes by once a month or so and gives free chair massages (see photo to the right). She came today and I got one. It was nice but I'm questioning whether or not I'm a "massage guy" because I don't seem to be very good at it. For one thing, she had to keep telling me to relax. Why should a person need to be relax while receiving a massage? Apparently, I keep hunching my shoulders up reflexively. She even asked me at one point, "Who are you going to fight? Why do you keep doing that?" I told her I have to keep my shoulders in good shape so I can shrug them when somebody asks me one of the many questions I don't know the answer to. She said, "you know, it takes a lot more effort to do that than just sit here and relax". I guess maybe for me, being told to relax is kind of like somebody telling a person not to think about elephants; the harder one tries, the less likely one is to succeed.
Besides, I know I was at least a little bit relaxed because I caught myself drooling at least twice. So on a sliding scale that measures levels of relaxation, if Hunched-Up Shoulders is 1 and Farting Like Nobody Else Is In The Room is 10, I'd have to say that drooling...TWICE!...on the chair should register as a solid 4. But that didn't last because even though there was a layer of paper towels between my face and the massage chair, now I had to be all self-conscious about controlling myself enough to not leave a snail trail of saliva that led to a small spreading puddle on the floor so that whichever co-worker followed me didn't inadvertantly slip in it and recoil in horror, yell "What the hell is that?!?", ultimately resulting in me being known as "Ol' Drooly" (or worse) around the office, which undoubtedly made me tighten up and hunch my shoulders.
But it felt good and I did enjoy the experience. I returned to work and one of the women I work with told me I'd better drink plenty of water now. I asked why and she told me that massage works acids and various toxens out of your muscles and if you don't flush them out of, they re-settle into new areas of your body and it hurts. I was appalled at this. "Do you realize how long it's taken to collect these toxens, how many late nights, how much hard work I've invested in amassing them?", I asked her. Now I'm supposed to just flush them out and start over? I told her to "keep your hands off my body! It's an acidic toxen, not a choice you heathen."
Anyway, I don't think massage works, at least for me. Because now my shoulders really hurt for some reason.