Monday, February 25, 2008
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
My cat makes that exact same face when he smells something he doesn't like. Of course, my cat isn't governor of California, although this video significantly weakens my argument as to why he shouldn't be.
For nerds - A total eclipse of the moon tonight is expected to be visible across the United States and much of the world. The moon will enter Earth's umbral shadow (the full shadow) at 8:43 p.m. ET (that's 7:43 p.m. Central, 6:43 p.m. Mountain and 5:43 p.m. Pacific) tonight. This will be the last lunar eclipse until 2010, by which time sentinent iPod robots could be our slavemasters and we probably won't be allowed to cast our eyes upward so you'd better enjoy it tonight.
For everybody else - Some time after 9:30 p.m, the US Military, apparently under the guidance of General Jerry Bruckheimer, is going to make their first attempt to shoot down that broken satellite that's going to crash to earth soon. The USS Lake Erie, a missile cruiser with an Aegis weapons system, will launch an SM-3 tactical missile toward the satellite from somewhere west of Hawaii. If they miss, they'll try again on Thursday or Friday. Of course, they're doing this out of concern for our safety and not in an attempt to test weaponry that could come in handy against a sentinent iPod robot army in the near future.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
TGIFridays. Houlihan's. Bennigan's. Chili's. Applebee's. Aren't they all pretty much the same place? Sure they are. They're all corporate chain restaurants that desperately want you to believe that they're just an old-fashioned neighborhood bar & grill. If somebody blindfolded you and took you into one of them and then took the blindfold off and told you to tell them where you are, you'd probably be hard pressed to answer right away. They all have the same random knick-knacks pasted to the wall, they're all staffed by the same sullen college kids who won't be there when you go back in six months and they all serve the same $7.50 bacon cheeseburgers and the same chicken tenders with the same honey mustard dressing.
Yet when groups of people talk about where to get something to eat, rarely does Applebee's get mentioned. And if it does, the suggestion is met with scorn and derision. Why does everybody hate Applebee's?
Well, not me, of course. I mean, yes, of course I hate Applebee's too. But in my case, I know why. It's because there was one in Sarasota that had a Bob Natal baseball bat on the wall. Bob Natal, a lifetime .197 hitter, was my favorite baseball player at the time. I badly wanted that bat and offered to buy or trade for it but the manager said no, they weren't allowed to sell any of the "decor (his word, not mine) because it was against corporate policy. I'm pretty sure the manager of a real neighborhod bar & grill would have at least considered it and I know he wouldn't have refused it outright because it's against corporate policy because a real neighborhood bar & grill doesn't have corporate policies. Hell, a really good neighborhood bar & grill doesn't have policies at all. My kind of neighborhood bar & grill lets you do pretty much whatever you want, as long as it's not hurting someone else and so if you want one of their baseball bats, as long as it isn't for hitting a fellow bar patron, you're damn well welcome to it! Unless the other bar patron in question deserves it because he's a pain in the ass or some other valid reason, in which case you're still welcome to it.
But why does everyone else hate Applebee's? Well, here are a couple of possible reasons.
- The name - Most people hate apples (be honest now, when was the last time you craved an apple that wasn't deep fried, baked in a sweet, sugary pie or slathered in caramel?) and most people hate bees (ooh, sting-ey!). Put them together and you're just asking for enmity.
- Riblets - Applebee's signature menu item is Riblets, which are small barbecued spare ribs. The problem there is threefold:
- "Riblet" sounds like the noise a frog makes.
- It also sounds like something you use to hold iron girders together.
- As I said, they're small. People who enjoy barbecued spare ribs don't like them small. There's a reason that gag on the Flintstones where Fred orders a rack of ribs so huge it tips his car over is so popular; People who enjoy spare ribs fantasize about that exact thing happening to them every day of their lives.
- That commercial where the high school team loses the big game and pulls into Applebee's for a post-game meal, only to find it closed, until a couple of dedicated employees decide to stay late to serve the valiant local heroes - Good god, how can you not hate that?
So those are three possible factors that spring to mind immediately. I don't know, there might be others. There might even be people out there who love Applebee's. I don't know any of them though.
PS: I eventually met Bob Natal and he gave me one of his bats himself. So take that, Jeff, the Applebee's manager on Fruitville Road in Sarasota or whatever your name was.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
"It's all right, we have the right of way."
"Well...yeah. That's fine, but while the right of way and rule of law may prove useful in determining fault after an accident, it doesn't prevent the accident itself."
"Don't worry about it. He's the one who's supposed to stop. See? there are signs everywhere."
"I agree. But it would appear he either hasn't noticed those signs or he doesn't care."
"Well, then an accident would be his fault, not mine."
"Ok...sure...but what if we die in a car accident that could have been prevented if you had simply forfeited your right to be, uh, right? I don't think I'm going to feel a sense of pride, or anything else, if that happens. I mean, I haven't planned what my last words will be but I don't want them to 'Ha ha, take that, living!' Plus, I'm pretty sure if we get to heaven and have to explain what happened, they're not going to let us into regular heaven. There's probably some sort of remedial heaven for the righteous-but-stupid, where instead of a halo, they give you a helmet. I really don't want to go to remedial heaven. So while I gladly acknowledge that you are correct and are well within the established legal paramaters for operating a motor vehicle, could you just let this guy go ahead, just this once, as a personal favor to me. Please?"
"Oh. Well, step on it then. Let's go."
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
I’ve taken to my role as team captain and have done my best to motivate my team. I assured them of my sincerity and dedication by telling them that I had already gone so far as to have written “CAPTAIN” on the waistband of all my underwear…in Sharpie. But working with volunteers is a challenge at times. It’s hard to make demands of busy people who are doing stuff for you in their spare time. I have to remind myself to be patient and encouraging when things aren’t moving quite as quickly as I’d like. And actually, our team is doing pretty well so far. But it takes effort to come up with ways to keep everyone interested and enthusiastic without being completely obnoxious about it. I have little doubt that many of them will no longer want to speak to me when it’s all over. I’m basing that on the fact I have no doubt that I’ve already been so obnoxious that some of them don’t even want to speak to me right now.
Relay For Life isn’t really a competition per se, but teams do challenge each other to do a good job as a matter of pride and in the interest of pushing each other to raise as much money as possible. When it’s over, the American Cancer Society recognizes the best teams’ efforts with trophies and prizes. So screw what I said before; it’s totally a competition.
There’s a team in our Relay that’s been at it for years and they win a majority of the awards every year. I’ve decided that I hate them. In my mind, I consider them smug know-it-alls who act like they invented cancer just so they could raise funds to eradicate it and make me feel inadequate in the process as a bonus. Now, you don’t have to tell me what a terrible person I am for feeling this way. I’m already fully aware that resenting a group of people for effectively raising funds to combat a horrible disease is about as reprehensible an act as you can think of. I’m ok with it though, because I want to win trophies and prizes. Besides, it’s not that I don’t want them to raise a lot of money; I just want my team to raise more than they do. So as I was sitting around tonight trying to think of new ways to try to motivate my team, it occurred to me that I should use this unjustified hatred to our advantage and pass it along to the people on my team. I wonder why I haven’t thought of it before; exploiting people’s healthy desire to see their like-minded peers re-cast as severely defeated opponents is not only natural, but repeatedly proven to be a highly successful tactic! Hmm, I think I know why I was selected to be captain…
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Sometimes, you just want a hot dog. There's no logic to this. We all know that no good can come from eating them. But as Americans, they are simply our second favorite phallic food item and we love them as much as they hate us. Bratwursts are great but they're just too Bavarian for us to embrace as our own. Same with the uppity corndog, which is like the hot dog's arrogant, pretentious cousin that got into an Ivy League university (less the product of good breeding than good breading). No sir, we love the good old regular hot dog with working class condiments like mustard, onions and relish (read about anti-ketchup-on-hot-dogs sentiments here, here and here). As such, I found myself craving one today and as such, I had to have one.
Tampa doesn't really have street corner hot dog vendors and very few restuarants serve them. Of course, there's Mel's and I think Checkers has them but the quality of food and service at Checkers, which used to be superior for a fast food joint, has degenerated to the point where I'm not sure you can even call them restaurants anymore. That means your options for getting a hot dog if you're not in the vicinity of Mel's are limited to convenience stores and sporting events. And since there are precious few Tuesday afternoon sporting events until spring training starts, I started looking for a convenience store.
Being born and raised in Michigan, it was drilled into me at a very early age that the best hot dogs were made in Michigan because the state had by far the most stringent quality control standards in the nation when it came to making hot dogs. I don't know if that's common knowledge nationally but I used to hear it all the time from people who were obviously quite proud of it. Oddly enough, I never heard that said about anything else produced in Michigan and remember thinking at an early age, "Really? Hot dog production is where we plant the state flag when it comes to a commitment to excellence?" I mean it's still a hot dog, folks. Someone who makes a point of insisting on only eating hot dogs made in Michigan because they're just soooo much better than the ones made elsewhere is a little like someone facing a firing squad and demanding that they sterilize the bullets first.
Anyway, since I no longer live in Michigan, I've surrendered what little high-mindedness I ever had in regards to hot dogs and I went in search of a convenience store, specifically a 7-Eleven. 7-Eleven is like the Williams-Sonoma of convenience stores when it comes to hot dogs. The dogs themselves are plump and juicy and they have all the condiments you could ever want, including pumps that dispense chili and bright yellow cheese-esque goo. But believe it or not, I actually couldn't find one so I pulled into some generic, dime-a-dozen Pump & Gulp, Shop & Suk, Blo & Go or whatever it was called on Kennedy Avenue. Again, we're talking about hot dogs. There's no reason to think that even the skeeviest convenience store can't serve (what passes for) a decent hot dog.
I got into the car, pulled into traffic and took a bite because I'm such an outstanding driver that I actually drive better while eating a four course meal than most professional ambulance drivers with their hands at ten and two. I was struck immediately by the taste. It wasn't that it was bad. Hell, I was sort of expecting it to be bad. Rather, what struck me was the lack of taste. It was utterly devoid of flavor. I became alarmed immediately. "Is my tongue having a stroke?", I thought. "No wait, I can taste the bun". This realization failed to comfort me. Quite the opposite, actually. "Oh lord, how is that possible? Buns are supposed to be flavorless. The only reason they exist is so you don't get your hands messy. They're edible napkins. And yet, the bun has more flavor than this hot dog? This...this just isn't right." Of course, there was only one thing to do, which was to take another bite to make sure. So I did and the same thing happened again. "No flavor! How is this possible? Every hot dog has a flavor of some sort! Even if it's spoiled...especially if it's spoiled...it's going to taste like...something! Dear God, in what unholy manner of abomination have I just invested .89? More importantly, what is it doing to my innards?" I took another bite and wondered if it was some sort of tubular, meaty, dirty bomb, it's insipidness cleverly disguising a new and painfully lethal strain of botulism that would explode in my stomach. It would be just like the terrorists to try to get to us through our wieners. Bastards! I took the fourth bite and started wondering where the nearest hospital was, just in case. Thankfully, it was just after I'd taken the fifth bite of this Satan's spawn-sage when I finally saw the friendly, familiar green, red and orange glow of a 7-Eleven sign in the distance. "Thank God", I thought. "If I c-can...just...get some..ch-chili...before it's t-too late...". But by then, I looked down and realized that there was just one bite left. So I just gulped it down, went back home and wrote this.
Monday, February 11, 2008
If you've ever wondered what exactly has to happen for something that happens in the NHL to be the lead story on SportsCenter and thought, "Hmm, a player almost dying during a game after having his cartoid artery slashed by a skate should do it", you'd be right! That is, if by 'lead story' you meant the fourth thing mentioned after two regular season college basketball game recaps and a report on the results of a NASCAR pre-season event. Apparently at ESPN, the self-proclaimed "Worldwide Leader In Sports" (or more accurately "Worldwide American Leader Primarily In The Eastern Time Zone Teams That Participate In The Sports That We Broadcast"), even if it bleeds, it doesn't necessarily lead.
Health care isn't the only thing that Canada does beter than America; the video above is from TSN, the Canadian version of ESPN.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Anyway, after the sale was over we still had a few piles of stuff that, understandably, nobody wanted to take back home. So we all split it up and took it to other worthy charitable drop offs. Clothing went to Goodwill and household items went to the Salvation Army. As for me, I loaded up the books and drove them over to the local VA hospital, specifically the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital. It's something I've done before and it's something I dread every single time.
I hope I don't sound self righteous here, mostly because that would be insincere, but it's something stronger than shame that I feel every time I go to the VA hospital. And I find it hard to believe that anybody else wouldn't feel the same way. Whether it's putting an American flag in the front yard, slapping a magnet on a car or voting for the people who say what sounds like the right things, I can't believe anybody can ever enter one of these places and not immediately want to re-examine what it means to "support the troops". A VA hospital is less a place of healing than it is a repository for damaged, lonely, used up people. I frequently hear people in positions of power sermonize about the sanctity of human life. These are people who should visit one of these places and take a good look at what we do with those we send away to do the dirtiest work imaginable when they no longer serve our purposes. Not all of them, of course. Just the ones who inconvenience us by not coming back either unscathed or dead. Those troublesome folks who are still alive but missing pieces of their bodies and/or psyches and are just no good to us anymore. To them we give a wheelchair, a pat on the back and maybe an old, unwanted paperback book or two. And that's not a shame. It's something stronger.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
St. Pete Celebrates Area Female Filmmakers
Every month, JimSam Inc. Publishing features authors at an open house sponsored by Wahoo Mortgage of St. Pete. This month's event will celebrate Tampa Bay area Female Filmmakers.
"Ten at the Top in Tampa Bay" producer Renee Warmack will be the special guest. This film will be screened at the Gasparilla Film Festival during a special event celebrating local women. "Ten at the Top in Tampa Bay" captures an unprecedented time in the city of Tampa/Hillsborough County area---where 10 extraordinary women led governmental institutions, in positions traditionally held by men. The women who agreed to be filmed were asked to share the paths they traveled, the risks they took, the decisions they made, and who helped them along the way as they climbed their respective ladders of success. A cornerstone to this film is that it serves as a mentoring tool for young girls who may not realize that they too can reach such high levels of public service.
Renee Warmack is a native of Tampa who holds a masters degree from USF in Public Administration. Due to the success of the film, she formed Renee Warmack Productions, Inc. Renee is also a member of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA); a Tampa Theatre member and member of the League of Women Voters.
The event will be held on Friday, Februrary 22 from 5pm to 8pm at Wahoo Mortgage at 2433 Central Avenue in St. Pete. This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.
For more information contact Mona Burrows at Wahoo Mortgage: 727.522.0039, http://www.wahoomortgage.com/ or Renee Warmack at Renee Warmack, M.P.A.: 813-610-3132, firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.tenatthetop.com/
Sunday, February 03, 2008
- Accura; Drag & Drop - Car commercial. Boring. Also not new. Strike out. 15 for 30.
- Alltel; Wizard - Not a car commercial but see above. 15 for 31.
- Nissan; Murano - See above and above. 15 for 32.
- Mercedes; 2008 C-class - See above and above and above. 15 for 33.
- NFL Network; Get your story straight. Amusing but they've done it before. plus the NFL Network is inherently evil. Soft pop up. 15 for 34.
FINAL BATTING AVERAGE = .441. That is definitely a Hall Of Fame number in baseball. In advertising? Hmmm, not so sure. Overall, I'd have to say it was a disappointing crop this year.
The best: FedEx Pigeons.
Close runner up: Pepsi Justin Timberlake
The worst: The car commercials are terrible but you don't expect anything from them. Beer companies, on the other hand, usually bring their best material to the Superbowl. Budweiser has definitely done better work and Miller didn't even have an ad! So Bud and Miller share the dubious distinction.
Scratch that, I just caught another Sales Genie ad with a talking Chinese panda that recalled this brilliant piece of advertising:
Yeah, I changed my mind. Sales Genie is the worst.
- Pepsi; Justin Timberlake - I'm not a fan but I have to give him credit; he's funny and doesn't take himself seriously. Homer! 14 for 28.
- Doritos; Mousetrap - Weird, random and unexpected. Guy in a mouse suit whoops ass for Doritos. Another single. 15 for 29
Batting average = .517
- "...Narnia 2"; Trailer - Not interested. Strike out. 11 for 25
- Planters Nuts; Unibrow girl - She's ugly but guys like nuts. Bleeding single barely gets through the middle. 12 for 26.
- T-Mobile; Barkley and Wade - Charles Barkley abuses his top 5. Everything he does is funny. Double. 13 for 27.
Batting average = .481
- Careerbuilder.com; Follow your heart - Cool special effects. Could have been better. Sharp grounder to short, thrown out at first. 10 for 21.
- Lifewater; Thriller Lizards. - Is that Rihanna (sp?)? She's hot. She's hot even if that isn't her. So are dancing lizards. 11 for 22.
Batting average = .500
- Toyota Corolla; Badgers - A doofus's cell phone goes off, causing a mother badger to rip his face off. Beautiful! Another solid single. 10 for 18.
- "Leatherheads"; trailer - Eh. Pop out. 10 for 19.
- Garman; Napoleon - One long short joke. Strikeout. 10 for 20.
Batting average = .500
- Budweiser; Rocky - Clydesdale misses the cut, trains to the the theme from Rocky and with the assistance of a Dalmation (presumably named Mickey) makes the team the following year. Single. 8 for 16.
- "Iron Man"; Trailer - I'm looking forward to the movie. This was actually a cool trailer. Bunt single. 9 for 17
Batting average = .529
- FedEx; Pigeons - Giant pigeons dropping cargo and causing mayhem. Finally, a home run!! 5 for 13.
- Cars.com; Plan B - Car salesman versus crazy tribal fighter in the ring of death. Good concept, especially if it were true. Single. 6 for 14.
- Tide; Talking Stain - A guy's mayonaise (?) stain upstages him at a job interview. Very funny! Double. 7 for 15.
Batting average = .467
- "Wanted"; Trailer - Just an ad for a movie. Ground out. 3 for 10.
- G2; Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning & Bill Parcells - Cool effects, kind of funny. Another bloop single just over the 2nd baseman's head. 4 for 10.
- GoDaddy.com; Commercial for a commercial - A little funny but an ad for an ad is annoying. I'll give it to them...no, I won't. They reached base but that's an error and counts against the average. 4 for 11.
- Dell; Red - Nope, nothing special. Fly out. 4 for 12.
Batting average = .333
- Bridgestone; Screaming - Anthropomorphic animals freaking out? I'm already on record as being in favor of that. Bloop single. 3 for 7
- Doritos; Kina Gramas (sp?) - Eh. Boring. Nice song but didn't make me want Doritos. Strike 3, looking. 3 for 8.
- Toyota; Cabin - Not a new ad! Boo! Another backwards K. 3 for 9.
Batting average = .333
- Bud Lite; Cheese run - Solid rally, new comedy in the Bud Lite "guys trying to get away with beer drinking mischief without the girls finding out" tradition. Double into the gap. 2 for 5
- Under Armour; The Future - Kinda cool to look at but vaguely fascist in tone. Bunch of athletes participating in some kind of underwear uber alles rally? Creepy. Line out. 2 for 6.
Batting average = .333
- Diet Pepsi Max; What Is Love? - Celebrities, bobbleheads, some guy with a bad combover and an ironic cameo from Chris Kattan. Attababy, solid single up the middle! 1 for 3
- Sales Genie; Ramesh - Boring. Animated. Borderline racist maybe? Pop up in foul territory. 1 for 4
Batting avg. = .250
- Bud Lite; Breathing Fire - They've been doing these 'superpowers revoked' commercials for a while now. This was another one of those. Eh. Infield ground out. 0 for 1.
- Audi; Godfather parody - Cute, well done but not particularly memorable. Swing and a miss. 0 for 2.
batting average = .000
More to come!
What's really disturbing and off-putting about it is Ferlita's recurrent efforts to shove the New York Yankees down the county's collective throat. In 2006, Ferlita led an unsuccessful bid to have the Yankees included on Tampa's "City of Champions" signage that noted the championships of Tampa Bay's Buccaneers, Lightning and Storm. In attempting to explain the logic behind her idea, Ferlita said the Devil Rays are "out in St. Petersburg. So to me, the Yankees are the home team". Never mind that the Yankees are "home" for about six weeks out of the year or that not one of the Yankees 26 world champions was ever won on behalf of Tampa. Or Tampa Bay for that matter. Regardless of what you think of the Rays' prospects in the future, the odds are still 100% higher that there will be a local parade celebrating a championship for them before there's one for the Yankees. Also never mind the fact that the Yankees have only been "home" in Tampa since 1996. The Cincinnati Reds were the "home" team for 30 years before that. Local government honored the "home" team by neglecting Al Lopez Field, making it untenable and basically driving them out of town to Plant City so they could tear it down and build an ice arena. Ironically, as a result the monument built to honor the achievements of Tampa native Al Lopez was razed...while he was still alive...and the property stayed undeveloped, serving as another parking lot for Bucs games, until Raymond James Stadium was built 10 years later. Ferlita is quoted in the Tampa Tribune as saying "I want to do it as quickly as possible so maybe it would be in concert with their first (2008 spring training) game". What's the urgency? After all, next year there's going to be a new high school in Lutz named after Steinbrenner. I would say that's actually a more significant and profound monument to someone's good works than re-naming a stadium. Why does there need to be a priority placed on establishing a second one? Well, you probably don't get to wear your Yankees cap and pal around with Reggie Jackson and Yogi Berra at some stupid school grand opening, I guess.