Thursday, July 31, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Looks like Bennigan's, the chain that first answered the question "What would happen if a local neighborhood pub mated with a shopping mall?" is done. Since I'm not really a fan of these kinds of places, especially after my last visit (although, ironically, that one is the only one in Tampa that is still open) I can't say I'm sorry to see them close. However, I definitely feel for the 400 or so employees who lost their jobs with no notice today. Especially since I'm in a similar situation after being laid off by my 9 to 5 a couple of weeks ago. All I can say is it's scary bad out there, folks. I'm kind of bitter about it but wasn't emotionally invested enough in it (as I have been in other jobs) to really be that worked up over it. Sure, I'm worried about paying my bills and that makes me angry but I don't miss the job itself. Let's just say that I'm not going to go there and firebomb the place but if somebody else did, I might be willing to consider taking the rap for it as a gesture of appreciation to the person who did it. Is that passive aggressive enough for you?
A long time ago, I worked in the corporate office for a chain of electronics stores that went out of business. When things were beginning to go south, we (I say 'we' only because I worked there, not because I had any kind of say in the matter) started closing stores. There would be a truck full of guys waiting in the parking lot outside the store at night. They would sit there until the store closed, watching the employees lock up and leave, wait about 10 minutes in case somebody forgot something and came back, and then would move in and clean the store out. Merchandise, fixtures, signage, everything. The next day, the staff would show up to find a gutted store with a padlock on the door. Management wouldn't tell those of us in the office about until after the fact for fear of us calling and tipping the poor suckers off. I think because they were afraid that if the employees knew what was coming they would rip them off. I've seen some pretty scummy things in my time but to this day, that was by far the worst thing I've ever been part of.
Monday, July 28, 2008
These are the cooking instructions (two sets, depending if you want chewy or crispy crust) exactly as they appear on a Publix store brand frozen pizza I bought today. Specifically, a "Publix Premium Self-Rising Crust Pizza". I have not altered them in any way. See if you can spot the sequential problem that is going to result in some idiot burning their house down. (NOTE: If you don't, for the sake of safety, please just click here)
For proper food safety and quality follow cooking instructions. Preheat oven. Cook before eating. Do not thaw pizza before baking. Your oven temperature may vary, so adjust baking time and temperature as necessary.
- Place pizza directly on the center oven rack.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Remove pizza from box. Remove wrapper and cardboard circle.
- Pizza may require up to 23-27 minutes of total baking time.
- Pizza is done when cheese is melted and edges are golden brown.
- Let pizza stand 5 minutes before serving.
- Place pizza on a baking pan on the center rack.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Remove pizza from box. Remove wrapper and cardboard circle.
- Pizza may require up to 25-28 minutes of total baking time.
- Pizza is done when cheese is melted and edges are golden brown.
- Let pizza stand 5 minutes before serving.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
- Salads that look like lasagna
- Orange juice that looks like cocaine
- Trigonometry text books that look like Xboxes
- Philosophy lectures that look like NFL games
- Oral hygienists that look like strippers
- Trade schools that look like Hooters
- Churches that look like Hooters
- Hooters that look like hooters
The possibilities are endless...
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Ladies (see above) and gentlemen (yeah, you too, you fancy lads), I present for your pleasure, A Bunch of Dudes Shooting a Samurai Sword With Guns.
HELL YEAH!! Hair is suddenly growing in all kinds of places where it shouldn't! I wanna smash a beer bottle over my head, and one over your head too, and then pick up the broken shards, chew 'em up and spit 'em at that guy over there! I'm ripping my shirt off because I am definitely going to jail tonight! RAAARGH!!!
Whew! Okay, does anybody else need to take a moment to collect themselves? Go ahead. I completely understand.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Every tv station that broadcasts local news does this, even though I can't imagine it's remotely effective here in GoogleNation, where if you care about something, there's no need to ever wait until 11:00 to find out about it. It's entirely possible the management of these stations recognize this and as a result have either stopped trying at all or have gone to the extreme of saying something just to see if anybody is paying attention. How else to explain the teaser that local (Tampa Bay) affiliate WFTS ran (read by Wendy Ryan) during last night's prime time programming:
"One of The Golden Girls has died. Tune in at 11:00."
My thoughts upon hearing this:
- My god. It's finally happened. We're out of news. Heaven help us all.
- Well, we are in Florida. I'm sure that show has been, and continues to be, very popular with a certain segment of viewers...
- ...although you can bet your Early Bird that none of them are still viewing at this hour.
- I'll bet for that reason channel 28 wishes it was one of the Rolling Stones instead of a Golden Girl.
- How is it possible that so many of the Rolling Stones are still alive?
- Gee, I'm sure glad I'm not a relative of one of the actresses on The Golden Girls who just hasn't had a chance to check voice mail.
- Ok, I wonder which Golden Girl it is...but I'm just too lazy to get up and go to the computer right now to find out. In a battle of uniquely 21st century American attributes, my habitual disinclination to exertion soundly defeats my desire for instant gratification, in this case, the readily available and immediate accesss to information via the internet. Somewhere, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin weep softly.
- It's sad whenever someone passes, regardless, but wouldn't it be at least a little bit awesome if it was an accident involving dirtbikes or kickboxing or sharks? Or all three?!?
- That's wrong. What the hell is the matter with me?
And for what it's worth, no, I did not stay tuned to find out. After all, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly were on The Daily Show.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
In case you're not familiar with it, Flugtag, a German term meaning "Flying Day", consists of teams of people building homemade, human-powered flying machines and piloting them off a 30-foot high deck in hopes of achieving flight. They never do, though. So it's basically the Superbowl of putting on ridiculous costumes, building stuff and pushing it off a ledge into water. And yes, this is as funny and entertaining as it sounds. When it comes to free entertainment, it's hard to beat people falling into water. Costumes and flying machines that don't just add bonus points.
Tampa is one of three cities to host the event this year, the others being Chicago and Portland, Oregon later this summer. Red Bull has sponsored about 40 of these so far and we (Tampa) set an attendance record, more than doubling the 50,000 that had been projected. I'm not surprised; literally everyone I spoke to for the last two weeks was planning on going. I think event planners were caught off guard though.
- It was scheduled to begin at 1:00 and we got there at 11:00 when gates were supposed to open. But it was obvious that a lot of people had gotten in and set up camp much earlier than that, as evidenced by us ending up where we did.
- In spite of previously published warnings about things that wouldn't be allowed in, there weren't even cursory bag searches taking place, at least not at the gate where we entered (right outside the convention center).
- Food and beverage locations were few and far between, which was a matter of major concern because with that many people packed in that tightly, smack in the middle of the day, smack in the middle of July (why didn't they schedule it for later, like around dusk?), remaining hydrated was of vital importance. Just because we were closer to the hospital than the launch pad doesn't mean I wanted to go there. Eventually, even though we drank plenty of fluids, our group just couldn't hang so we left around 2:00 and watched the rest of it from The Press Box. We had a good time but it was just too hot and too crowded to be enjoyable after a while.
- A group of people who were probably a little put out would be those presenting and attending METROCON which was taking place simultaneously at the Tampa Convention Center. Some of the more elaborately costumed anime fans might have had legitimate concerns about being mistakenly tossed into the drink by overly
- I don't think there were nearly enough police officers on hand to handle traffic. We left well before the end and we still wound up stuck in pretty thick traffic on the way out. I can't even imagine what it was like when the event was over.
- Lastly, I don't understand why the city didn't take advantage of the event to publicize the Riverwalk. After all, that's really where it took place. For all the publicity the event got leading up to the big day, there was never a mention of Mayor Iorio's legacy project and it's proximity to the convention center as well as all the exciting cultural/dining/retail shopping opportunities offered in downtown Tampa...or will be some day...hopefully. I don't know. It just seems like somebody in marketing would have thought of that, that's all.
Overall, it was fun but there's lots of room for improvement if/when it comes back.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
You know who I'm talking about (hopefully you do anyway; I pray I'm not the only person in the world this happens to. That would be a very special Rod Serling-esque hell on earth). They're the people whose fascinating life experiences are so intertwined with the subject matter that you wonder why they're not leading the discussion in the first place. Unless they aren't those people. They could just be random blowhards who get off on interjecting themselves into every conversation whenever they feel like it, just because they feel like it. "Please allow me to take this opportunity, and by take, I mean literally, since none was offered, to disrupt the exchange of ideas and pertinent information to tell everyone how I invented parentheses or some such nonsense. Ngyanh, ngyanh, ngyanh, ngyanh...." Hey, no! No! Up yours, ok? You're about to invent bleeding from the ears. Oh wait, what's that warm trickle I feel? Too late, you already did. Looks like my brain is liquefying itself in an attempt to destroy the parts of it that have to process what you're spewing. Man, I was going to use those parts for other stuff too!
No, I think it's probably healthier if I just stay home from now on.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
"Thank you! Oh, it's a bag from Hallmark!"
"Yeah, they have some really clever greeting cards there."
"There's no...there's no card in here."
"Yeah, I couldn't decide what kind of card, you know? Funny or sexy or sexy funny. And when I get stuck, I just cop out and go the gift certificate route. It's easy."
"You got me a gift certificate? For a card? I have to go get my own birthday card?"
"Wait, this isn't even a gift certificate. It's a coupon."
"For 50% off..."
"...purchases of $25 or more."
"What could I possibly spend $25 on at Hallmark?"
"You...could buy a whole bunch of cards..."
"Wow, what could...what could be worse?"
"Umm, look down at the bottom there..."
"Oh wait. It's expired. Beautiful."
"Sometimes if you talk to a manager, they'll extend the deadline. Like a grace period."
"It expired in February."
"February 2004, to be exact."
"Oh. What? Oh yeah. I didn't even see that. Well, we could maybe, you know, take a pen and try to make the four look like a nine."
"I'm...just astonished. This is beyond thoughtless. Thoughtless means lacking thought. This is actually thought-minus. As in, if consideration were a checking account, you'd be overdrawn right now. You'd be racking up huge penalties and fees and your picture would be posted all over town."
"You're right. I can't even deny it."
"I mean, I have always been able to count on you to give me the most unique gifts, all the time, without fail. When other people get me boring, mundane things, I know you will never fail to surprise me. But this...this just blows me away. It's easily, easily, by far, the worst present I have ever received."
"I have to admit, you're right."
"So what I'm saying is...you've truly outdone yourself this time! Thank you! I love it!"
"Hey, happy birthday! You totally deserve it!"
(Happy Birthday, K)
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Hey, do you ever think about what you would do if money and insurance weren't important and you decided to chuck your job and just do something you think would be easy, kind of fun and you might be good at it? I know I do. All the time! Not because I hate my job or anything. Sure, it's a relentlessly soul-crushing cycle of mindlessly banal and ultimately insignificant chores that reduces me to something less than a human being who thinks about death a lot but I really enjoy it. I'm talking about sheer escapist fantasy. Because let's face it, these days you're not going to just quit an established job, drop out of the career chase and try to make it on your own individual talents, unless you just happen to be The Most Fearless Person In The Whole Wide World.
But if I could just fart around all the time doing whatever I want and worry even less about my obligations than I do now, here are three things I would probably try:
1. Limo Driver
Talents required: Ability to drive a really big car, gift of gab, familiarity with where stuff is and how to get there.
Pluses: Get paid to live vicariously through people partying their brains out, good hours (usually free during the day time), cash tips.
Minuses: Wearing a suit, cleaning up after assholes (puke) while wearing a suit.
Why it probably wouldn't work out: "Hey, folks? Excuse me. Can I get your attention for a sec? Listen up back there, please. Thank you. I just want you to know that I'm pulling over and you have to get out. Yeah, seriously. All of you, right now, get out. Just get out, right here, on the side of the road. Please. I'm really sorry about this. No, I am serious. Hurry up. I'm sorry, but you insist on playing that godawful Soulja Boy song and I just, you know, I just can't have that. What? Yes, I already told you I'm totally serious. No, you're right, it's probably not the worst song ever made but it's close enough and somebody has to draw a line somewhere, you know? So get the fuck out. Right now. Yeah, I know it's prom night and I know your dad already paid for four hours. Don't worry about it, I'm giving you a full refund, in cash. Have fun or good luck or whatever."
2. Busboy (at a nice place, like a country club or really good steakhouse)
Talents required: Ability to pour water, fold napkins, set & clear tables and carry dishes without breaking too many of them.
Pluses: I already have experience (back in high school), free meals (whether management knows about it or not), free booze (ditto), cash tips. And at age 44, I would most certainly be Lord of the Busboys.
Minuses: Wearing a ridiculous uniform, cleaning up after rich, sloppy assholes while wearing a ridiculous uniform. And I'm 44.
Why it probably wouldn't work out: I'm 44.
3. Hot Dog Cart Vendor
Talents required: Ability to make change, extensive knowledge of condiments. That's it.
Pluses: Plenty of fresh air, good hours (usually done for the day after lunch), cash tips.
Minuses: Inevitable health problems due to prolonged exposure to hot dog water.
Why it probably wouldn't work out: I have a severely low tolerance for weenie jokes.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
So upon learning that I'm apparently a victim of identity theft, albeit probably not significantly, my initial reaction is to think that identity thieves really need to raise their standards. Seriously, who would want to be me? Part of me wants to wish them luck with my identity. Maybe they'll do better with it than I have. Haw haw.
My second reaction is to get my paranoia flowing and barricade myself inside my apartment. I'm not answering the phone, reading text messages or opening email. I'm afraid to check my eBay auction of a small lot of vintage hockey cards. I don't trust my television or even my microwave. I think the toaster and the coffee maker were talking about me just before I went in the kitchen. Sure, they acted like they weren't, being all silent and inanimate, but it was an awkward kind of silent inanimateness-ancy. Just writing this is giving me the heebie jeebies and as soon as it's posted, I'm turning my computer off. I know for a fact that the cats are trying to kill me but that's standard. In fact, their consistency is actually a small source of comfort.
But otherwise, how do I know that everybody else isn't out to get me? I don't!
Monday, July 07, 2008
This isn't something you should dismiss as paranoid fear-mongering. The precedent has been established and history will repeat itself if allowed. It always does. Do something about it. Get educated, get involved and most importantly, demand accountability from those in whom you place your trust when you vote.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Friday, July 04, 2008
Thursday, July 03, 2008
But it wasn't just for the sake of convenience that I would patronize this machine. You see, this was a very special Coke machine. Special, in that it would frequently give you two cans of soda for the price of one. And by "frequently", I mean every single time. You would put your .75 in, there would be rumbling inside the machine and then THUNK, a frosty can filled with sugary, carbonated goodness would roll out. Then, a couple of seconds later, another rumble and THUNK, a second can would appear! Two cans for .75? That's rolling back prices all the way to Mayberry, circa 1960 right there! Oh happy, happy day!
Some people might consider this stealing. You know who you are, and I can hear you out there, in your own voice, saying that to me. I (of course) don't see it that way. To me, this machine is an official representative of the Coca Cola Company. It's got logos and little TMs and R's all over it, just like a Coca Cola truck or an employee in a company polo shirt. Looks pretty official to me. And if an official representative, robotic in nature or otherwise, wants to reward me with free product, well who am I to refuse? Times being what they are, that would be just plain foolish.
Today after picking up my mail, I stopped to get my buy one, get one usual, but this time only one can came out. I stood there for a minute, puzzled, when a neighbor told me, "it's been fixed." I couldn't believe it. Why? How? "Somebody put up a note telling the Coke man what was happening and he fixed it. No more free sodas", he said sadly. At that moment, I think I know exactly how Cheif Bromden felt when he realized that the R.P. McMurphy he knew and loved was gone.
I wanted to pick that machine up, carry it across the pool deck with Coke Zero spraying everywhere and hurl it threw a window as a form of protest. But those things are crazy heavy, you know. Besides, what's done is done. The important thing to do now is to find out who put that note there and begin making their life a living hell in order to drive them out of our community. Because there's no telling what a sick mind like that is truly capable of.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
...but I could be wrong. Sure, I have my moments. Those of us who are cynical and sarcastic have naturally inherent, deep-rooted jerk tendencies. It's like a zebra trying to tell you it's not a horse. Dude, you're strange looking, and it's odd that you talk, but you are definitely a member of the horse family.
I guess I should say I don't think I'm a jerk all the time. Or more accurately, I'm not as big a jerk as I could be. I think the keys are discretion and restraint. Picking your spots and not always unloading with both barrels is important. I haven't always been good at either of those things but I think I've improved with age.
For instance, here's something that happened recently...
I used to work in the sports and entertainment industry. I did that for over 20 years. As a result, I've met people in the industry with whom I remain friends (that's not the jerk part of the story, I don't really know anybody powerful or influential, mostly just ham-and-egger working stiffs like me. I'm just giving you background to set-up what follows). I recently had tickets to a show at a nearby venue. I mentioned this to a friend who happened to work there. She invited me to come by early, beat the crowd and visit for a little while. I told her I would and if she needed help with anything, I could kill time by pitching in. As it turns out, nothing needed to be done when I arrived and I was just sitting there peacefully, minding my business, not hurting anyone, not even in a restricted area, waiting to make chit-chat with my friend. Now that I think about it, if people would just leave me alone, I could probably get by in life without ever being a jerk. To anyone! That's probably never going to happen though, because for whatever reason, I'm somebody who seems not only approachable but fuck-withable to strangers, especially those with attitude.
So as I was sitting there, perfectly well-behaved, serene and happy, a volunteer usher named Russell came up to me and asked, "Are you the sound man?" I answered no. "Well, are you the lighting guy?" No again. "Well, who are you then?" I smiled and said, "I'm just here to help out if needed. I guess I'm a volunteer." He said "You don't look like a volunteer. You're not wearing a black t-shirt, you don't have a nametag and you didn't bring a flashlight." He was right. I had none of those things. So I told him I was actually a guest of his supervisor, which was true, but ready to help if necessary. I felt a little jerkness for playing that card, but I was polite and I figured that would end it.
I went back to happily minding my own business as Russell started giving a lecture to some other ushers on the science of how to read tickets (yes, seriously). For no good reason whatsoever, he decided to sneer at me and call me out. "You might want to take some notes on this." Damn it, why?!? Why, why, why did he have to go and make me to want to say, "Let me tell you something...Russell? Is that what it says on your little paper nametag there? Here's the thing, Russell; I've worked professionally in the sports and entertainment industry in venue management for over 20 years. I've been all over this particular venue dozens of times. And I've seen more tickets in my life than you have ass pimples. Now, I have no idea how many ass pimples you actually have but I'm guessing it's a lot. Regardless of all those facts, I've taken such an immediate and intense dislike to you and your attitude that not only do I not want to take note of what you're saying right now, but I can not imagine a single circumstance on earth that would make me take the slightest interest in anything you say, up to and including 'help me, help me, wolverines are tearing my flesh, please dear god, help me' and that's something I'd normally at least turn around to see. And just for the record, I didn't bring it with me, but I do have a flashlight and it's considerably bigger than yours."
However, I didn't say that. It would take a real jerk to say that to someone. Instead, and I have no idea why, since I only saw the movie once and it was when it came out back in 1991, I quoted the t-shirt Bill Murray wore in 'What About Bob?' and said "Don't hassle me. I'm local." See?
Okay, I really am a jerk.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
AMOUNT SOUGHT: Any
FOR: Coffee or cigarettes or whatever.
THE PITCH: (to me and a small group of commuters who just happened to be walking in the same direction at the same time) "Does anybody have any spare change I can have so I can buy some coffee or cigarettes or whatever?"
AMOUNT GIVEN: $0
Are you kidding me? First of all, what's with the mass broadcast approach? I appreciate the attempt at efficiency but I'm an individual! Where's the personal touch? Well, don't take that literally. I really don't want any personal touching, thank you. Secondly, the two items she bothered to mention by name would probably be best classified as luxury items, not exactly essential-for-survival. Plus, it didn't even sound like she knew what she wanted. She might go the mall, hang out, pick up a pack of smokes, get a decaf latte, or just "whatever". What, is she my long lost 16-year-old daughter? I've never been panhandled to help finance a shopping spree before. Come on!