Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Drive-Thru Etiquette. You're welcome.

I utilize fast food drive-thrus frequently. Well, not anymore. But when I did, I used them all the time. We're talking a conservative estimate of, oh, I don't know, probably somehwere between 65 to 80 times a week. "But Clark", you're saying "even if you ate fast food three meals a day, every day of the week, that's only 21". To which I reply "shut up". Anyway, the fast food drive-thru is designed for the busy, on-the-go person who doesn't have the time to fart around. Like me. Quite frankly, a lot of you people are screwing this up for fast food achievers. Like me. So in the interest of at least speeding you up if not getting you completely out of my way altogether, I'm going to give you my Fast Food Drive-Thru Code Of Conduct (By having read this far, you hereby acknowledge and accept all terms of the Code. Violation of said terms are punishable by being screamed at by somebody behind you in line. Like me).

1. YOUR CAR MUST WORK. The first word in "drive-thru" is "drive", therefore your car must have the ability to move forward. I think everybody understands that this is a completely non-negotiable must-have element. After all, you can't drive thru if you can't drive. However, almost as important as a fully functional transmission is a fully functional driver's side window. If you can not roll down your window and you have to pull past the speaker or window, open your door and lean halfway out of your car to complete a transaction, you and your car are ineligible for drive-thru status.
2. ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL. A fast food restaurant's drive-thru operation is a scientifically engineered precision instrument. Typically, it's designed to have one car at the order speaker, a certain number of cars waiting to pay (this number can vary), one car at the pay window, one car waiting to pick up (although this is optional) and one car picking up their food, all stacked neatly bumper to bumper with no wasted space between. This should result in vehicles moving rapidly through the mechanism at roughly 30 second intervals, functioning like the gears in an expensive Swiss watch. That is, until somebody hauling a trailer shows up and gums up the whole works. What invariably happens is Pedro's Lawn Service gets in line and places their order. they pull up and now the trailer with all their equipment is occupying the space in front of the speaker box. Now the employee inside on the headset is pleading with a weedwacker to please place it's order. The weedwacker is indifferent to these pleas and sits silently. The employee eventually gives up, figuring there is nobody in line and decides to take the opportunity to go outside and grab a smoke, leaving the poor slob behind the lawn service with nobody to talk to when it's his turn to order.Similar chaos ensues as the truck and trailer make their way through the system, reeking similar havoc at every step along the way. You wouldn't just drop some big, stupid gear with a Dixie Chopper, three weedwackers and a mulcher on it into a Patek Phillippe watch and expect it to work, would you? Of course not. Listen, if you're out in the hot sun mowing lawns and trimming trees all day, go ahead and park your enormous truck and trailer at the Staples next door and come inside and enjoy a meal in air-conditioned comfort. You deserve it, my day-laboring friends!
3. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT WHEN YOU GET THERE. This is not too much to ask. You must have had some sort of idea what you wanted when you made the conscious decision to pull in, right? Odds are you drove past at least half a dozen other fast food restaurants to get to this one. Even better odds are that you've been here before. So just order already!
But if you really are perplexed for some reason and honestly don't know what to order, just get the #1. It's the best thing they have. That's why they designated it #1. At McDonalds, it's the Big Mac with fries and a drink. At Burger King, it's the Whopper. At Taco Bell, it's some combination of meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes inside something allegedly made from corn. At any rate, you can never go wrong with #1.
4. HAVE IT YOUR WAY, AS LONG AS YOUR WAY IS THE WAY IT COMES WITHOUT SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS. We don't have time for you to specify extra pickles, no onions, mustard only on the left edge of the top bun, mayo applied in counterclockwise strokes and free range lettuce. Just order the #1 with the standard, default settings and let us all get on with our lives, please.
5. ONE VEHICLE, ONE ORDER. You know what happens when the people at work decide I should go pick up lunch for everyone? They all look over the menus from a variety of restaurants, write up their specific orders, detailing exactly which restaurants they want it from, what they want and how they want it prepared. Then they give me their money, some giving me exact change or close to it, others giving me a big bill because "sorry, it's all I have". I smile and tell them I'll be right back. When I return, it's with a big bag of hamburgers (Cheeseburgers? Not a chance) from McDonald's and no change. Dig in, assholes! You know how often they make me go get lunch? Not very. there's a lesson to be learned here, people.
6. ONE DRIVER, ONE ORDER-ER. When going out with the gang, assign the most competent and responsible person among you to drive. Because the person driving the car needs to be the one placing the order on behalf of everyone in it, including rendering payment. The drive-thru is no place for expressing your individuality or a staff meeting of any kind. Got it? No separate orders (see above), no complex financial transactions and no yelling from the backseat or anywhere else in the vehicle. Nobody cares about what you have to say about anything unless you have a steering wheel in front of you. For this reason, if you get kidnapped and are screaming for help from the trunk of a car, you'd better hope the kidnapper doesn't pull over for a Whopper on his way back to his lair.
7. FAST FOOD WORKERS ARE SMARTER THAN YOU ARE. In spite of popularly held belief, the people working the drive-thru are not slow-witted, marble-mouthed, surly, unskilled lowlifes who would otherwise be unemployable if not for the fast food industry. Quite the contrary, these are special people with an elite skill set chosen to a higher calling than you could ever possibly comprehend: They prepare meals for you while you sit in your car!. When you ask for a Big Mac, fries and a Coke (or simply the #1) and get a tossed salad with a bottled water instead (or vice versa), it's not because they made a mistake. It's because they know something you don't and are trying to help you. So don't sit there and do an inventory of your order before leaving the window. Just take it, move on and take comfort in the knowledge that whatever is in there, it was put there by somebody who is looking out for your best interests. Like me.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ladies! Where y'all at?!?

Taken at 10:50PM tonight, Tuesday, April 29th, 2008 (about a half hour ago), outside a Hillsborough Avenue bar I drive by on my way home from Plant City...

Wooooo!!! Come on!! It's Ladies night! Check it out! There's plenty of good parking!! Let's party! Wooooo!!!

(with apologies to the great and wonderful Blogging McBloggington for ripping off her schtick)

Monday, April 28, 2008

It's almost showtime!

This is the stretch run. Only three more rehearsals until Opening Night. Tonight was the first dress rehearsal and this is when it finally starts to feel like a real show. Instead of walking around in your regular clothes with all the house lights on while you navigate pieces of tape or folding chairs that are supposed to represent walls and furniture, you've got a set, costumes, props, music and show lighting to play with. Now is when it gets fun! The sports equivalent would be the day when you finally get to put on your game uniform and play in the stadium instead of on the practice field in shorts and a t-shirt. I'm starting to get butterflies, which is actually a good thing. Anytime I perform, I find that I actually need a certain amount of uncontrollable nervous energy. Not enough to make me jittery but enough to keep me alert and on my toes. Like a slow IV drip of adrenaline.
When I'm doing a show, I don't drink any alcohol from the time I'm cast until the show closes* and starting this week I won't have caffeine in any form until the show is over. Not because I'm approaching my one rinky-dink scene in "The Beverly Hillbillies" like I'm Val Kilmer or Sean Penn. It's just a routine I've always followed and I find routines comfortable when I'm performing.

Good god, I sound so full of shit I may have to slap myself. But since we're in that vein now anyway...

Somebody who says they would never even think of trying their hand at acting asked how to do it, like it's one of the most daunting tasks a human being could face. I know a lot of people feel that way but it really isn't. It's essentially playing make believe, something little kids do all the time. It's been said many times before, but seriously, how difficult can something that's literally child's play possibly be?
The best advice I ever heard when it comes to acting was a three word mantra: "Serve The Story". If you use that as your guide in your approach to how you construct your performance, it's actually pretty easy. It also works wonders for writers and directors and anybody involved in storytelling for that matter. For actors, when faced with the prospect of memorizing pages of dialogue, instead understand why and how your character is interacting with others. If you think of dialogue as conversations that need to take place in order to advance the plot instead of groups of words that need to be memorized and sequentially recited, it's easier to remember and your performance will be more natural, thus you Serve The Story.
Thinking about wearing a funny hat or talking with an odd accent or adding some other unscripted affectation? Ask yourself if doing so Serves The Story or if it just draws focus. Those two actions typically do not co-exist peacefully and the production will inevitably suffer. That said, you still have to perform of course. Just know the difference between performing and showing off.
Considering throwing in some inside joke or obscure reference for the amusement of your pals in the audience? If you're ever in a show with me, don't, unless you want me to murder you. Because I'll do it, so help me (but not on stage, because that would almost certainly draw undue focus). To me, this is absolutely the worst sin an actor can commit. Deviating from the script as written for your own selfish motives is EXTREMELY disrespectful to the writer, your fellow cast members and, most importantly, a majority of the audience, who are the ones who paid their hard earned money and/or surrendered an evening to watch you...what?...SERVE THE GODDAMN STORY!! Not trade Carol Burnett-esque winks and nods with your buddies in the 5th row.

There. I'm off my high-minded actor-y soapbox now.

Anyway, here is the official blurb from Plant City Entertainment. If you're coming to the show, please stick around afterwards and say hello. Unless you hate me (which is entirely possible), in which case I'd rather not interact with you in that particular forum. Thanks.

Plant City Entertainment, Inc. community theater is proud to present the HILARIOUS comedy, "The Beverly Hillbillies". The play, based on the television 1960s sitcom has a huge cast who will portray Jed, Granny, Jethro and Elly May Clampett and Mr. and Mrs. Drysdale and Miss Hathaway, among other characters. (NOTE FROM CLARK: That's me; I'll be portraying one of those "other characters")

SHOW DATES: MAY 2, 3, 9, 10, 2008

Each performance will begin at 8:00 p.m.
Ticket prices are: $10.00 General Admission and $8.00
Seniors 55 and older AND students through 12th grade.
Tickets will be available at the door prior to each performance. Group rates are available at Hardee's Fashions: (813) 754-4929. Individual advance tickets may also be purchased before the opening date at Hardee's Fashions at 1501 N. Wheeler Street in Plant City (ANOTHER NOTE FROM CLARK: Don't go there looking for hamburgers. Trust me). For more information, call: (813) 986-7141

* Let me know if you want to hang out after the last show on May 10th because wheeeee doggies, I'm gonna be dangerous!

Knock knock!

Knock knock.

Who's there?


Ow who?

Werewolves of London!

(I totally came up with this on my own and I have to admit, I'm pretty damn pleased with myself. Of course, it's only remotely funny if you have at least a passing familiarity with the music of Warren Zevon, but oh well.)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Stay on target, stay on target...

You've probably already seen this (it's been around a while)... recently featured it in one of their pieces and what I hadn't noticed before was the quality of the camera work that never suffers even while the spokesman might be, you know, dying. Now that's the mark of a top flight director!

DIRECTOR: Camera 2, zoom tight and pan slow right. Camera 2, ready...and go!
CAMERA 2 OPERATOR: Uh, sir? I think Jim is pretty seriously hurt...
DIRECTOR: Camera 2, you let Odell worry about that. Begin your pan now!
DIRECTOR: Now, damn it now!
CAMERA 2 OPERATOR: Sir, he's losing a lot of blood...
DIRECTOR: Smithers, relieve Johnson on Camera 2 and initiate tight zoom and slow pan right!
JOHNSON, FORMER CAMERA 2 OPERATOR: What the hell is wrong with you people?
DIRECTOR: Goddamn it, Johnson. When you signed up for this, you knew it wasn't going to be all food processors and limited edition unicorn figurines. This is home shopping! And in home shopping, sometimes people die! Now Jim's a good man, and he's one tough son of a bitch. He may pull though this yet, but if not, I have no doubt he'd want us to spend the next 3:43 doing whatever it takes to get as many of item 1101-1816 into as many people's hands as possible. Now, I am not going to stand here and have you dishonor his memory...
JOHNSON: Well, I don't think he's dead yet...
DIRECTOR: You can't handle the truth! Son, we work for a company that sells swords to people sitting at home and watching on television. And those swords have to be televised by men with cameras. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Smithers?

CAMERA 2 OPERATOR: Well, uh, yeah, that's what I'm doing right now, remember?
DIRECTOR: I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Jim and you curse the Home Shopping Network. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Jim's death, while tragic, probably sold swords.
JOHNSON: Actually, I think he's stopped bleeding now...
DIRECTOR: And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, sells merchandise...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me selling swords. You need me selling swords.We use words like "act now", "limited quantities available", and "limit two per household"...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent selling something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the very same electric blanket that we'll be showcasing in the next hour, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you get back on Camera 2.
SMITHERS, SOON-TO-BE-REPLACED CAMERA 2 OPERATOR: Aw man, I thought you wanted me to run Camera 2 now...
DIRECTOR: Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Just so you know...

...those yellow bags are covering parking meters on Cass Street in downtown Tampa. The city puts those on when they don't want people to park in certain parking spaces. In this case, those would be the parking spaces currently occupied by construction debris, gigantic chunks of concrete barricade, earthmoving equipment and oh yeah, no street.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Relay Wrap-Up

The 6th Annual Temple Terrace Relay For Life is now history. What an experience! We had a blast, doing some good work, staying up all night long and engaging in fierce (but friendly) combat with our loyal opposition, Team Go Go ( the team that got kinda upset because I sorta poked fun at them but then chilled out when they realized that I was poking more fun at myself).

I'd like to take you through some of the highlights from the event now, as best as I possibly can.

FRIDAY, 6:00PM - Opening ceremonies. Well, the official opening ceremonies for most of the participants. Certain members of our team, including myself, were drafted by the logistics committee to help out and we were actually laying out the parking lot the night before. I took this opportunity to write "DADDY-O RULES" in six foot letters with the chalk machine, just in case anybody from Team Go Go happened to be flying by in an airplane. Ha ha! take that, Team Go Go! We also were on site early Friday, helping set up tents and lugging chairs, tables and ice chests around. So I was a little worried when I felt like I needed a nap before the invocation was even finished.

6:30PM - Captains lap, to spotlight the hard work done by the leaders of the teams. I was more than a little nervous as we approached Team Go Go's campsite. I anticipated water balloons or small arms fire or something in between so I had brought a peace offering; a customized bowling pin that members of our team had prepared for them. I presented it humbly and graciously with the hope that this token would breed harmony between our tribes. I was told "Yeah, we got something for you too and we'll give it to you later." Uh-oh (that's what the pros call 'foreshadowing').

From 7:00PM on - Lots of walking. Not so much by me. I told my team I was saving myself for the wee hours so they could sleep like babies while I selflessly carried the burden for them. Of course, I was lying but I knew they'd be asleep and wouldn't know any better. The best lies are always those with the fewest witnesses.
Also during this time, we sold bottled water, fruit and baked goods. Everybody at Relay sets up an on-site fundraiser and people from all the teams spend the time patronizing each other's campsites. Our on-site fundraiser was supposed to have been a really cool vintage shuffle bowl machine. Unfortunately, the company who was supposed to provide this machine for us (NOT the company in the link!) wasn't able to fulfill their commitment, which I didn't find out about until Wednesday, about 48 hours before the event (and I had to call them to find out at all). I really can't say much more about that without potentially making myself vulnerable to a lawsuit for libel so I can't mention this company by name or why I believe they are communists who traffic in bootleg baby aspirin from Mexico. Anyway, a couple people on the team stepped up with some outstanding homemade cookies and cupcakes that sold like cupcakes and cookies, so we recovered nicely.

Saturday, 2:00AM - The Beauty Contest. Ah yes. The Beauty Contest. Not some ordinary, average, run-of-the-mill beauty contest, but a very special beauty contest, where men dress up as women. I was chosen by my team to represent us in this competition, a decision for which I complimented them on their impeccable taste. The only caveat I insisted on was no high heel shoes, only because I don't need to break my ankles trying to walk around in some kind of medieval torture devices just to make my booty stick out real nice. Other than that, I told them to go nuts (my exact words). This would turn out to be the only instruction I gave that they actually followed...
I know. Hot, right? Yeah, I know. Anyway, I worked that thing, honey. Whatever that means. Team Go Go's representative was knocked out in the first round, but they all stuck around and cheered for me. Because of the support I had from two teams, I made it all the way into the finals, eventually finishing second. I lost to some high school teacher (skinny little bitch) who had his entire school there, screaming for him like it was a Justin Timberlake concert. I don't even think they took the time to notice how my booty stuck out real nice without the benefit of some stupid shoes. Oh well.

Some time around 3:00AM or maybe 4;00AM - Nighty-night time. Everybody on the team crashed except for four of us. We stayed up talking and learning about each other. Because let me tell you, I don't care how well you think you know someone. Until you've stayed up literally around the clock with them without the benefit of intoxicants, I guarantee you will find out something new. This is an edited (for brevity) but actual conversation that took place:
"If it were in style to wear meat in your hair, what kind of meat would you choose and why?"
"I'd go with a nice filet mignon"
"How the hell would you wear a filet mignon in your hair?"
"With braids!"
"How would that work? That wouldn't work"
"What about you? You'd pick bacon, obviously"
"No, I wouldn't. But I want to hear how she would wear a filet with braids"
"You love bacon!"
"I would cut a hole in the filet, run the braid through the middle of it and tie it off at the end. See?"
"(angrily) I don't even know why you're acting like you wouldn't pick bacon. You know you would."
"For your information, Miss Know-It-All, I would pick lil' smokies and I'd wear them as little greasy beads like Bo Derek!"
"Hey, what kind of cheese would you wear in your hair?"
"Well, now you're just being silly."
(I said I'd go with shaved ham, tiled across my head like shingles on a roof...for whatever that's worth. At any rate, I don't know what's more disturbing, the fact that we had this conversation at all or that I remember it as vividly as I do.)

6:00AM - Wake-up call. Not necessary for me, i stayed up the entire team. A couple of people on our team hung in for the most part but I was the only one who never nodded off even once. Yay me.

8:45AM - Team Go Go finally comes calling. Dressed as a team of synchronized swimmers, they were going around the track with a choreographed routine, with a song and dance steps and everything. They stopped right in front of our campsite and gave a special performance just for us, concluding with showing us their underwear (worn on the outside of their costumes) with "CAPTAIN" written on it and presenting me with a bag of Swirly brand gummi bears, all references to the original post on this blog. Nice. All I could do was applaud as I watched in admiration, the way a general might review the precision of drill exercises performed by the troops of another general's army.

11:00AM - Closing ceremony and presentation of awards. By this time, we pretty much realized that Team Go Go, who raised an incredible $13,000.00 were going to sweep the awards once again as they do every year. But we had been tipped off that we'd won the Best Banner Award (which looked just like the logo you see above) and we were pretty happy about that. Plus, we had raised about $3800.00 of the overall $145,000.00 netted from the event, 6th highest total out of 51 participating teams. Not too shabby for rookies, I thought, and sat back to enjoy the cool of the morning. However, just before presenting the Spirit Award, the one that I had really hoped to win, one of the committee members announced that they had changed the award process and that there would now be two divisions, one for established teams (like Team Go Go) and one for newcomers (us!). This was the equivalent of the Academy Award for Best Picture being separated into drama and comedy divisions, meaning that a well-made, important, meaningful film like "Schindler's List" could win the Oscar it deserves while your big screen adaptation of "Laverne & Shirley" starring Steve Guttenberg still has a chance of winning something too. "Holy crap", I thought, "we're gonna win this!" At that moment, I knew exactly how Charlie Brown feels every time he goes to kick that football because unfortunately, it was not to be. We finished second in the newbie category behind Armwood High School, the school whose teacher beat me in the beauty contest. So now I guess instead of hating Team Go Go, I have to start hating a bunch of meddling high school kids. Which I can live with, since I already hate high school kids. And like Charlie Brown, I'll be back to lead Team Daddy-O Alley Katz in an attempt to kick the football again next year.
Although, I do want to try some sort of choreographed routine for Team Go-Go. Hmm, I wonder what the FAMU Marching 100 are doing next April...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mondays get a bad rap

There's a long established tradition of declaring that Monday is the worst day of the week, a sentiment echoed by two of modern society's greatest philosophers, Ziggy and Garfield. I'm here to say that they're both full of shit and I am prepared to prove it. Here are the days of the week listed in inverse order of how much they suck and why.

#1. SATURDAY: Saturday does not suck at all. Saturday is awesome. if for no other reason than you can stay up as late as you want, before and after. There is simply no reasonable debate here. Only if you have a job that requires you to work or if your religious faith prohibits you from having fun do Saturdays suck. But in both cases, that's your fault and if you don't like it, do something about it.

#2 FRIDAY: Yeah, you have to work but if you're truly honest about it, you'll admit that you're allowed to slack off quite a bit on Fridays. Your employers know your mind is already on the weekend and there's nothing they can do about it so they only offer token resistance. That's when they schedule employee birthday get togethers, they let you wear jeans and even slide out the door a few minutes early. If every day at work was like most Fridays are, nobody would ever complain. Also nothing would ever get done.

#3 THURSDAY: So close to the weekend, you can almost taste it. There's no way you're not going to make it now! Knowing how lax Fridays are (see above), it's even safe to go out on Thursday nights and cut loose a little bit. And even if you don't, the best shows on tv are all on Thursday nights. No downside.

#4 WEDNESDAY: Hump day. This is where they start to get tough. You're stuck smack in the middle of the quagmire that is the work week. But you can console yourself with the fact that at lunchtime, you're now half way home. And by the end of the day, the finish line is still pretty far away but at least now you're looking downhill towards it.

#5 SUNDAY: Or more accurately, the late half of Sunday. Surprised? You shouldn't be. Think about it, the dread you feel about having to slog through another miserable week of work actually sets in some time on Sunday, not Monday. That's when you remember what is ahead of you and you feel deflated. So you do laundry, put your toys away, and make sure you're in bed at a decent hour. Even the stores close early, a not-so-subtle reminder that your weekend is over and it's time to wash your socks.

#6 MONDAY: I never said Monday didn't suck. Indeed it does. It sucks a great deal. However, it doesn't suck as much as...

#666 TUESDAY: The worst day of the week, no question. If you think of the work week as a great, big festering bowl of some kind of nasty food you have to eat for some reason, Monday is like that first big spoonful that you gulp down just to show you can do it and it's not going to be that bad. Well, it is bad but if that were the only spoonful you had to eat, you'd be just fine. No, it's the second spoonful when despair overcomes you and you realize you're going to be eating this slop for some time to come. Tuesday is that second spoonful, where you put it in your mouth, which still has the nasty aftertaste left over from Monday, and swallow it with considerably more difficulty than you had with the first one. And that's when you look down at your bowl and realize you're not even half finished. Yuck.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Attaboy, Clark!

"The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" was on tv last night. I hadn't seen this thing in 20, maybe 30 years so I stopped and watched it. Don Knotts! You want to talk about an underrated can say "The Andy Griffith Show" was corny if you want to (I would disagree) but if you honestly think Deputy Barney Fife is not one of the 10 funniest characters in televsion history, I'm sorry, but you're just a moron.

Knotts is hilarious in this movie as Luther Higgs, a Barney Fife who wants to be a newspaper reporter who gets involved in shenanigans at a "haunted" mansion. But one of the funniest things in the movie, and I had forgotten this, is the running gag where some unseen person in crowd scenes is constantly yelling "Attaboy, Luther!"

This apparently actually became a popular catchphrase for a while. The modern equivalent would probably be Rob Schneider yelling "You can do it!" in Adam Sandler movies. I think it's time to bring back the original classic. Think about it: What occassion could not be improved by a well-placed "Attaboy, [insert name here]!"?
  • Waiter spills a drink on somebody? "Attaboy, Waiter!"
  • Some idiot puts his car in reverse instead of forward and plows through their garage at 35 mph? "Attaboy, Driver!"
  • A professional athlete who makes more money than the combined salaries of everyone on your favorite team fails to lead his team to a championship yet again? "Attaboy, A-Rod!"
  • A political leader with an outsize ego leads his country into war under false pretense and without a viable plan to eventually get out of it? ", Luther!"

Shut up already! Damn!

I am addicted to people. I find people, the things they do and their personal stories to be utterly fascinating. And I always feel that anybody else I encounter in life is far more interesting than I am...right up until the moment that they agree with me. Then I lose all interest whatsoever. Sorry, but I just can't get as enthusiastic about some people as they are about themselves, so I don't even try. I get bored instantly when I have to deal with someone who is much further up their own ass than I would ever want to be. That came out wrong (and isn't always necessarily true) but hopefully you get the idea.
Sure, everybody has a story to tell but some people live their lives like the rest of us stood in line to buy popcorn to munch on while they tell us about it. "Hey", you might be saying, "You have a blog which you use to talk about yourself and the minutiae that occurs in your life that you think is important enough to share with the world. What gives, hypocriti-pottamus?" Well, it's true. Many blogs, including this one, are extended exercises in self-indulgent twaddle. The difference is unless you're a participant in that controversial prison rehab program in Thailand that involves being forced to read blogs against your will that I just made up, you're here by choice. You can stay until I get on your nerves and then leave before you realize you acted hastily and come back apologizing and promising to tell several friends about how awesome this blog is. But I'm not showing up (uninvited) at your dinner table and manipulating the conversation so that it's so me-centric that you'd think you were being filled in on all the latest plot twists on 'Lost', which is what happened to me tonight and which completely ruined what had been a perfectly lovely evening. Until she showed up and proceeded to share some chapters from The Most Interesting Story In The Whole World; Hers.
"Gee, how did she know that I wanted to be interrupted so I could hear all about her upcoming vacation and her last three vacations leading up to this one?" That's a good question because I sure didn't ask her.
"Well, at least she isn't talking about her usual favorite subject again: her own breasts. Oh wait, yes she is." Now don't get me wrong; nine times out of ten when a woman wants to talk about her breasts, I'm probably going to be eligible for several Gold Star listening awards. However, in this particular case, the woman is under the belief that her breasts are geological phenomena that can, and should, be seen from space. She rhapsodizes about them as though they're the kind of breasts that cause men to go mad attempting to write operas about them. When the fact of the matter is....mmmm, they're just not that great, really. I mean, I suppose they're fine and who am I to critique but Jesus, whatever already! If you're going to talk about an attraction all the time like it's better than Disneyworld, it ought to at least have a Tilt-A-Whirl. That's all I'm saying.
"Oh good, she says she's leaving...but...but...she's still sitting here. And talking about leaving! But not actually leaving!!" Good grief, that's the social equivalent of a band with overinflated egos forcing an audience to beg for an encore when all they really want is for someone to turn the lights on so they can just go home.
"Please, no more. Just let me get on with what's left of my life!" But alas, there would be no mercy tonight, for mercy is a sign of weakness. Just like excessive egocentricity is actually a sign of self-awareness deficiency.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

3rd rehearsal

It's been almost two weeks since I posted on the upcoming production of "The Beverly Hillbillies" being presented by Plant City Entertainment and it's progress but there's virtually nothing of interest to report. I apologize that this ongoing series isn't more entertaining but honestly, there isn't much going on. As far as I know (being as I only show up once a week or so and when I'm there, I don't talk to or interact with anyone) the cast is all getting along and nobody is being difficult. That may or may not be a bad sign. In my admittedly limited acting experience, a bubbling pot is not necessarily a bad thing. A little backstage drama can keep people on their toes and engaged. On the other hand, it can also be a huge distraction and an unnecessary pain in the ass. I'm sure most directors would say they could happily live without it so what do I know? Kinda sucks to be reading this though. Although, if my 'brother' Rob continues to exert influence over me, I might very well become that combustible ingredient that's currently lacking.
A little background...
I met Rob Gander* in Sarasota about 15 years ago or so when he directed "Bleacher Bums" in Sarasota at a little theatre known as Theatre Works. I read for a part and was cast. The story I like to tell is that I asked if I could come back for the second night read-throughs and he rolled his eyes, sighed heavily and replied "Well, I don't know why but I guess it's a semi-public building and the fire code prohibits chaining the doors shut. So sure". Actually, what he said was "sure" but the story gets a little more harsh every time I tell it. Through the experience of that show and others that followed at Theatre Works and an unhealthy shared devotion to unhealthy obsessions like self-loathing and the bizarre and so-godawful-that-it's-brilliant David Lynch sitcom "On The Air", Rob and I became good friends and although we're not actually related, I consider him the closest thing to a brother I have living on this planet. He now lives way out west in Cowboyland where he's a drama professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. We still talk on the phone from time to time, complaining about the state of films, television and the hassles of life itself. The other day I was regaling him with my latest misadventures, including this play nonsense I've gotten myself into and he had a brilliant (ie: terrible) idea. He said since there are only four scheduled performances and I'm only in one scene, a good way to make the experience memorable (ie: a nightmare) for all involved is to do it completely different each time. The key component of this genius (ie: idiotic) plan is not telling anyone beforehand, especially the other actors or the director. One night, do it with the Oklahoma drawl I've been practicing but develop an uncontrollable stutter. The next, do it with a thick Cockney accent, complete with rhyming slang ("'Ere then, me company is prepared to pay you a lot of bees and honey for your Bodie and Doyle, Mr. Clampett!"). This could be great fun (ie: entirely inappropriate)! Even better (ie: worse), how about re-writing the entire scene? Imagine Hannibal Lector**, chief counsel for the Midland Oil Company paying a visit to Jed and his kin: "You know what you look like to me, with your hunting dog and your shotgun? You look like a rube. A dirty, befuddled rube with no taste whatsoever. Poor nutrition's given you no length of bone, but you're not more than zero generations from poor white trash, are you, Mr. Clampett? And that accent: pure Tennessee. What was your father, dear? Was he a moonshiner? Did he stink of grain alcohol? You know how quickly the revenuers found you... all those tedious sticky fumblings in the woods behind your outhouse... while you could only dream of getting out... getting anywhere... getting all the way to Beverly Hills."
I won't do that of course. Ah, but a boy can dream, can't he?
*Ha ha! on the "Hotness" factor of a big fat zero!
** I do a fantastic Hannibal Lector. Book me for your next wedding reception, corporate gathering or child's birthday party!

Monday, April 07, 2008

New blogger in the neighborhood, lives across town and it's understood...

Today I'd like to welcome the long-overdue arrival of another observer of bizarre behavior, odd occurrences and random shit. Please go here to see offbeat, unusual and wacky photos taken by Blogging McBloggington. Amazingly, that is her actual birth name. Her parents were truly visionaries.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

My audience with the Queen of America

The other night I was at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino where I saw Miss America 2008 Kirsten Haglund who was there on a publicity junket. This was a very big moment in my life. I've met many celebrities in my life but never anybody as high ranking as a reigning Miss America. I believe under the presidential line of succession it's the president, then the vice-president, followed by the speaker of the house, then Brett Favre and then it's Batman and then right after that it's either Miss America or the current American League leader in RBIs. I think that's how it's listed on Wikipedia. Not sure exactly how it shakes out but either way she's up there, mere heartbeats away from the U.S. presidency.

A little known fact about Miss America is that under rights granted by an amendment to the constitution, if you encounter a reigning Miss America in an establishment where it is legal to smoke indoors, you are allowed to request, and she is required by law to grant, two wishes for anything you want! Sort of like a leprechaun or a genie only much prettier. Unfortunately, I am not a quick thinker so the only things I could think to ask for were a personalized autographed photo (she drew the little heart without me even having to ask for it) and to leave the casino with exactly four dollars and eighty cents more than I had when I came in. And that is exactly what I got, which is further proof that democracy works, people!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

People read the stuff you put out there on the internet? Huh. Who knew?

Today, I received some comments on a post I wrote a while back about our Relay For Life team, the Daddy-O Alley Katz. You can follow this link to see what transpired but to sum things up quickly, a member of another participating team...uhhhh, misinterpreted? intent and was deeply offended by things I wrote. In particular, this person thought I was disparaging their efforts and making ridicule at their expense. This startled me as I've taken such great pains in disparaging and making ridicule at MY expense that I usually don't have time to do others. This blog, and by extension that particular post, lends itself to that pursuit. So I apologized post-haste (which is Shakespeare for "with a quickness") and I think hurt feelings have been soothed (I hope so anyway). However, fallout from this incident is that a very large bear has been poked and this team, which already raises more money every year than the gross national products of some small-to-medium sized nations is now even more motivated to go out and make more money. Great for the fight against cancer, not so great for me because...oh, who am I kidding. I'm receiving attention for misbehaving and I'm eatin' it up! It's just like I'm in junior high again!
But if I learned anything from this, which, let's be honest, is highly unlikely, it's that there are more people out there reading things posted on the internet than I had previously thought (I would have capped it at a couple hundred or so) and that those people can be affected, postively or negatively, by what they read. It's just like Spiderman (possibly one of our greatest philosophers) said: "With great power, or mediocre power and an internet connection, comes great responsibility".