Friday, December 29, 2006

What's bad about being in prison


I've never been to prison. (I was in jail once, a long time ago, for a couple of hours. Nothing very dramatic happened. One guy, Crazy Charlie, said I was "his bitch" though. He didn't do anything other than say that. He still sends me a Christmas card every year. It always just says "Hello Bitch" inside. I usually don't write him back.) But I still think I know what must be the absolute worst part about being in prison: the meals. Think about it; all day long you're doing the mind-numbing and spirit breaking litany of standard prison routines like doing laundry, lifting weights, getting new neck tattoos, avoiding being sodomized and/or trying to sodomize someone. Your only respite is chow time, when you get to sit down, relax and eat a hot delicious meal. Except that's when somebody, possibly YOU, gets shanked with a toothbrush that was sharpened by filing it against a metal bed frame. This is almost inevitably followed by a riot where everybody totally forgets the guy (possibly YOU) who's bleeding to death and writhing in agony as a brawl breaks out around him. And this happens three times a day! Honestly, the idea of that makes me just want to kick back in my cell and count my blessings over a nice glass of freshly brewed toilet wine.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Who knew?

I don't know why I find this funny, but I do. 20 years ago, the guy on the left was the star of a feature attraction at EPCOT and the guy on the right was singing about oral sex and performing in his underwear.












Now the guy on the right has a song on the "Happy Feet" soundtrack and the guy on the left is... Well, you know.










Again, I don't know why that's funny. It just is. In the same way I find it funny when crowds of people, a majority of whom probably have a pretty dim view of anonymous gay sex, sing along to "YMCA" at sporting events.
Come on, that's funny!

Bread: A short, passionate, yet ultimately unfulfilling love affair

Oh man, I am hungry! Sure, you can take our drink order but we need food. In fact, I'm not just hungry. I am actually starving. You know how in the old Warner Brothers cartoons when somebody gets hungry, the other characters start looking like porkchops or chicken legs? Well, right now everybody at this table looks like a bucket of steaks with a side of barbecued ribs. I'm talking about the kind of starving where Bob Geldof could name a whole movement after me. Two words: Star and Ving, ok? So let's start out with some appetizers. Whatever is really good, it doesn't matter. Because in case I haven't mentioned it in the last five seconds, I am starving.

Oh, what's this? Bread! Hot bread on a cutting board with a knife in it and a little dish of butter! Oh yeah! Hey, what about bread for the rest of the table? Because I'm eating this by myself. Ha ha! I'm kidding. Ok, I'm not.

Mmmmmmmm. Oh god. This bread is incredible. Firm crust surrounding the soft pliable sourdough center. And if that isn't enough, it's so hot that even though the butter is cold and solid, it's just consuming it into it's center, bread and butter wrapping themselves around each other until I can't tell where one starts and the other ends. Forget what John Coltrane says; THIS is A Love Supreme! You might as well take away my menu. I'm perfectly happy just eating this bread. Seriously, I don't need a meal now that I've had this bread. Can you bring out two or three or eleven more loaves and a child's wading pool full of butter please? While you're doing that, I'm going to figure out a way to shrink myself so I can climb inside one of these hot loaves and just live in it forever. Sell my car and all my possessions, I'm quitting my job and devoting my life to this bread. Ha ha! I'm kidding. Ok, I'm not.

What's this? Cheese fries? Look at the size of that platter! There must be eight pounds of potatoes there, all covered with melted cheddar cheese and chunks of bacon. What's that? The cheese and bacon are layered throughout and not just spread over the top? Why, that must mean that every single bite, right down to the last one, will have as much cheesy, bacony goodness as the first. I must try this! What? Wait? For what? Are you serious? Ranch dressing to dip into?? Oh come on, you have to stop. This can not be legal! There's going to be a raid because you are exceeding legal limitations of deliciousness and we're all going to jail!
Oh! Oh god. Oh god oh! That is good. Good god oh god good oh, that is good!! I have just forgotten every religious belief and spiritual tenet upon which I have based my life, because this is HEAVEN!! It's like The Rapture has arrived...right in the middle of my mouth!

Listen, could you do me a favor? Do you think maybe you could clear some of this away? What? Oh yeah, especially the bread. I am definitely done with that. Get that crap out of here. Throw it in the trash, feed it to some ducks or whatever you want. I can't stand to look at the stuff. Hold on a sec, ok? I just need a minute here. Listen, bread. Don't take this so hard. You were there when I needed you, you got me through a rough time in my life and I sincerely appreciate that. But I think this relationship has peaked and it's best that we both move on. There are still salads, at least another round of drinks and, of course, eventually some steaks coming. While you have to go on and, I don't know, become croutons I guess. Come on, now. Don't pretend you didn't see this coming. We're from different worlds, you and I. For instance, I came here in a Ford Escape and you arrived on a small cutting board with a knife sticking out of you. Long-term committed relationships just don't begin that way. I know it's hard but over time you'll realize I'm right and this is what's best. For both of us. Ha ha! I'm kidding. Ok, I'm not.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Good work while you can get it

You know who's got it good this time of year? Midgets. Well, midget actors specifically. They're EVERYWHERE! If you're a midget who's ever wanted to be an actor, or an actor who's ever wanted to be a midget, this is the time my friend! Opportunities for those of you who can realistically portray height-challenged mythical creatures associated with holidays are limitless this month and the week of St. Patrick's Day in March. I saw at least five different tv ad campaigns last night featuring midgets dressed as Santa's elves. Santa himself was only in three of those ads. Can you imagine three out of five Batman movies with Robin but no Batman? Sacriledge! But there's the elves, sans Kris Kringle, frolicing all over the place. Face it, if you're a midget actor and you're not working right now, you're just not serious about your craft.


PS: Did you know you'll find more pictures of hot girls in skimpy red outfits by doing a Google image search for "Santa's little helper" than "hot girls in skimpy red outfits"? It's true!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wheel! Of! Schadenfreude!


Falling simultaneously under the headings of "So dumb it makes me angry" and "I see why people from other countries hate us" is the insanely popular syndicated game show "Wheel Of Fortune". Actually, the show itself isn't stupid. It's a puzzle game that relies more than a little bit on pure dumb luck, but it consistently features the dumbest contestants ever. These people are so utterly lacking in basic brain function that if you stopped to think of the possibility that they might actually operate motor vehicles, you'd be so horrified you would never go outside again. Here are just two examples I remember vividly (and I'm not making these up):




"SHA_E AND SHA_E AL_ _E" showing on the board

Contestant #1: I'd like to solve the puzzle: 'Shake and shake alot'?

BZZZ!

Pat Sajak: Sorry, that's incorrect

Contestant #2: Pat, is it 'Shake and shake alike'?

BZZZ!



"HOW _ _CH IS THAT DOGGIE IN THE WINDOW" showing on the board

Contestant: Is there an R?

BZZZ!

Bzzz, indeed. And don't even get me started on the morons who buy a vowel when they obviosuly know the answer.
Damn you, Wheel, for making me happy when these people land on BANKRUPT.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Robots Redux

A while back I wrote an entry here in which I said some less than kind things about robots. I would like to retract those statements and apologize, because I realized today that machines are friendlier than most human beings I interact with. ATM's, cash registers, gas pumps. They all say please, thank you and offer sincere apologies when they fail to provide service. Many even offer to communicate with me in my choice of languages! As compared to the alleged 'person' I dealt with today who asked if they could help me, while obviously hoping I'd say no and not being shy about expressing disappointment when I didn't. I gave my order through a speakerbox and got a reply that sounded something like "Fee-Fotey-Fee, Dry Foo" which I guess was a request for $3.43 and an invitation to 'drive through' since when I did, approximately $1.67 was what was shoved back at me after handing over a $5 bill. I said "Thank You", although I don't know why, since I wasn't really grateful for the level of hospitality I was being shown, but this person just slammed the sliding window shut without saying "you're welcome". I don't know why, exactly, but it suddenly became important to me that this person, this fellow human being, another of God's children cobbled together from the same genetic material as me, this kindred passenger on the glorious journey we call Life, take two seconds to acknowledge my thanks. So I didn't move. "I'm not moving. I'm a very polite person and you are going to be just as goddamn polite as I am in return. We can all sit here the rest of the night, I don't care. But at some point, before I move an inch, you are going to acknowledge my courtesy, you son of a bitch. You hear me? Acknowledge my fucking courtesy, you miserable mongoloid halfwit meth-addicted son-of-a-whore..." That's when the window opened and he said what sounded like "Youneesup'm?" And I said "Oh. Yeah. Do you think I could have a receipt, please?". He tore it off the register, thrust it towards me and slammed the window shut again without saying a word. I just muttered "Thank You" to nobody in particular and drove on.

Chemical Dependency Update

In the battle of crazy chemicals currently doing battle in the Thunderdome that is my brain, stress has rallied and apparently put an ass whoopin' on the sleeping pills I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, because they aren't doing the trick anymore. I take them at night and I get drowsy but they don't seem to be closing the deal anymore. I don't know if I've built up a tolerance (gee thanks, apparently hyper-healthy immune system) or what but I'm back to either being wide awake most of the night or having the world's most aggravating half-dreams. I don't know. I just know I need to make some pretty serious changes. For the level of anxiety I'm feeling every day, there ought to be lives (or at least really expensive property) in jeopardy and that just isn't the case. Which really forces me to examine just how trivially I spend my waking hours, which doesn't exactly provide comforting thoughts at bedtime. And so it goes and goes and goes...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hey, who wants hamburgers!?


I guess going for the creepy angle has been a viable marketing strategy for some time now, what with Verizon's 'can you hear me now?' guy, the non-threatening-yet-still-off-putting Jared from Subway and the little girl with the elephant who rehapsodizes about "the mirrors!" in the DLP commercials (who I believe was last seen holding hands with her also-murdered twin sister and accosting a toddler riding his Big Wheel in the hallway of the Overlook Hotel). But no company has embraced creepy like the Burger King people.
Holy crap.
Of course, there's the ubiquitous King himself, whether inserting himself in football highlights or showing up in someone's bedroom or just standing there and silently leering, he's everywhere, hoping his silent plasticine presence will make you want to buy hamburgers. If that's not enough, they also have...


The Whopper Family, with a series of commercials featuring a hamburger father (the Whopper) in constant generational conflict with his hamburger son (Whopper Jr.), highlighted by lines like "I will knock your buns into next week, fella!". Dysfunctional = delicious!




The lascivious motivational speaker Dr. Angus who, like the King, has what looks like molded plastic hair and a Meg Ryanesque perma-smile grafted on to his face. He gropes women while extolling the virtues of better living through hamburgers. Yum!



The office drones whose job, I guess, is to insult each other and eat lunch at Burger King every day, since that's all they do. It's just like the show "The Office", only not funny and with hamburgers.


Look, Burger King, you were, are and always will be the White Sox to McDonald's Cubs; the second most popular team in a two team town, no matter what, even when you produce a better product. I know you're trying for some kind of edgy, off kilter, quirky alterna-credibility with the kids but I just don't think it's going to work. You're a multi-national fast food corporation. Named "Burger King". How edgy can you possibly ever hope to be when your corporate mission statement, to be recognized as the king of burgers, is so clearly stated? Answer: not very. So accept the fact that you're #2. People, including kids, love you and your food. Second place money is still pretty good isn't it? And stop using your advertising to give me the heebie jeebies. Thanks.

Packin'

I just watched an ESPN 'Outside The Lines' report on professional athletes carrying guns. The report mentioned that four out of every ten American males owns a firearm and among professional athletes, that number goes up to eight out of ten. I don't doubt that because if I were a professional athlete, you'd better believe I'd be carrying a weapon at all times. Hell yeah! Except it wouldn't be some stupid, wimpy revolver or semi-automatic handgun like everybody else. Nope, I'd be strappin' a bronze crossbow straight out da Chinese Han Dynasty, yo. With a full quiver of flaming arrows. Because that's the kind of piece that gets the attention of the ladies, you know what I'm sayin'? That way, when some straight-up sucka fools stepped to me outside a strip club at three in the morning asking me for an autograph for their blind daughters in the Leukemia hospital or whatever, instead of pulling out some sorry-ass MAC-10 and capping them right there, I would go across the street, find an elevated position, possibly the rooftop of a neighboring strip club, that provided both cover and concealment and launch a barrage of fiery shafts of death into their dumb asses. And that's why I grew up dreaming of being a professional athlete in the first place.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

No jokes today

I had to fire someone today and I don't feel very good about that. Nobody likes that kind of thing (well, actually I used to work with someone who took a measure of joy in staff conflict who might've enjoyed it, but that person revealed themselves as defective in a number of areas over time) but I'm definitely in a funk over it. I won't go into any details but the circumstances surrounding the situation completely justify it and there really weren't many options available. Still, the fact that I know this person doesn't have a lot of money, probably doesn't have many prospects and, oh yeah, it's two weeks until Christrmas for cryin' out loud all add up to this just not feeling right. And a pretty good rule of thumb is that when something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. I need to spend some time doing some serious thinking. Okay, brooding. So no jokes today. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Beep-boop-boop, my ass


When I get up in the morning, I sometimes turn on the television for ambient noise while I'm getting ready for work. This morning though, my TV was stuck on channel 61 which was showing an infomercial for the mattresses that you can set a glass of wine on while jumping up and down without spilling the wine. I went to change the channel to ESPN and got a message telling me I was recording this thing and if I changed the channel, the recording would be cancelled. Well, ok. I'm pretty sure I didn't record this infomercial but I'm sure I'm ok with cancelling it now, thanks for the heads-up. But that apparently wasn't good enough because the channel refused to change. The only buttons on the remote that got any response were the volume control and the on/off button. Everything else either brought back the warning message or nothing at all. After three or four minutes of this I called the cable people to tell them my TV, cable box and remote control were apparently posessed and working in evil concert to make me buy a jumpy no-spill mattress. The cable company has one of those automatic voice systems that (after verifying my first and last names, phone number and address...with zip code) lets you answer questions posed by a soothing, and slightly seductive sounding, female voice:
"If you are interested in speaking to a salesperson say 'sales'". If you've ever wondered what a masochist is, it's anybody who would put themselves through all that just for the priviledge of talking to a salesman.
"If you're having trouble with your internet service, say 'internet'". Ok, I get it. I have a problem with my cable, so I don't wait for the next prompt and say "Cable!". Well, apparently I should have listened to the prompt to find out that the code word for cable trouble is 'pepperoni' or 'mustang' because it isn't 'cable'.
"You're having trouble with your internet. Is that correct?" What?! No! I'm having cable problems, TV problems. The TV is stuck on mattressvision! "I'm sorry. I don't understand". There should be a feature installed in these systems that when this happens, and it always does, if you scream as loud as you can into your phone, the president of the company's personal phone rings. I don't know, but I think that would speed things up. The computer lady had me try several pre-programmed troubleshooting measures, and every time I'd respond I'd hear this beep-beep-boop-boop-beep-beep-boop noise, as though I was somehow jacked into the Matrix. I guess they do this to intimidate stupid people into thinking that technology is trying to help them but to no avail so maybe they should give up: "It's hopeless, honey. I can hear the nanorobots running around in the phone lines but it just isn't working. We'll never see Grey's Anatomy again!" However, my resolve is a little stronger than that so eventually I reached a female human being who began every sentence with an apology; "I'm sorry for your trouble, did you push the X button", "I apologize for the inconvenience, do you have the serial number of the remote handy?". I got the impression that if I had asked her what her favorite food was she'd have said "I regret to inform you that I'm partial to baked chicken". Nothing worked, including being put on hold twice so she finally said "Well, maybe you should just unplug the cable box and plug it back in again".
That worked. Of course it did. Funny thing is that was actually on my list of things to consider trying before I even called and wasted 20 minutes of my life. Right after 'Kick it' and 'Punch it' and right before 'Throw it out the window'.
The lesson is clear, though; when things look their bleakest, you can always pull the plug.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Surreal Estate

Last night, at the end of a three day period of 15 hour work days, I stopped at the Dale Mabry Village Inn for a late night breakfast (by the way, late night breakfast is the greatest meal in the world and the Dale Mabry Village Inn is the greatest late night breakfast destination in the world...in case you're wondering). Anyway, things got weird, as they tend to do when you're tired and it's late at night. I was about half finished with my meal when the two tables full of senior citizens next to me suddenly broke out in a fully harmonized rendition of "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas". This completely freaked me out. Not because I'm (overly) phobic about elderly people or have any kind of weird resentment towards Christmas, but because it was like something that would happen in a movie. I feel the same way every time I witness high-speed car chases and talking animals. I noticed these folks were wearing jackets that said S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A., which is an organization of barbershop quartet enthusiasts and easily the most unwieldy acronym ever. The fact that they were members of a group and not just individuals who happened to be so moved by the festive holiday spirit as to break into song freaked me out even more. I thought I knew my town but I had no idea there were gangs of senior citizens roaming the streets of Tampa at night and harmonizing about the virtues of sweet Adelaide and telling Bill Bailey to come home, whoever the hell they are. More importantly, should we all be concerned? Let me rephrase that: Exactly how petrified with terror should we be? Because if the barbershop quartets are this organized, there's no telling what the Mummers and Cloggers have up their crazy, highly-idiosyncratic niches.