Friday, May 29, 2009

Behind The Quiz

If you're not on Facebook, you should know that a great deal of time and effort is wasted spent on that site making and taking various quizzes. I think there are more quizzes than there are members. If you can think of a topic, there's a Facebook quiz for it. Among the most popular quizzes are the "About Me" variety. This allows you to go in and make a quiz about yourself and send it to your friends. Sure, it's wildly self indulgent (Facebook is like a Google news feed where every news item pertains to you; as a result it's very easy to get caught up in the belief that you are, indeed, a rock star) but ultimately it's harmless and kind of fun. I did one recently and since nobody answered every question correctly, I feel obligated to share the stories behind the questions and answers.

How well do you know Clark Brooks?

1) What city was I born in?
a) Chicago, IL
b) Tampa, FL
c) Frankfurt, Germany
d) St. Joseph, MI
e) Battle Creek, MI

Chicago is my favorite American city but I wasn't born there. Tampa is home sweet home, but I wasn't born here. I spent two great years in Frankfurt and it's my favorite international city, but I wasn't born there. Battle Creek, home of Kellogg's, is the
cereal capitol of the world. I wish I were there right now. Nope, I was born in St. Joseph, the comparatively effete, bourgeois twin city to the rough and tumble working class Benton Harbor, where I actually grew up.

2) I have never _____________
a) dressed in drag
b) used an illegal drug
c) been to the Olympics
d) annoyed a Beatle
e) left a Manhattan hotel at 5AM with Leeann Tweeden

a) For a good cause (Relay For Life, 2008)
c) Atlanta, 1996. Watched USA vs Australia in baseball at the old Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, which was a dump at that point. It was the day they re-opened
Centennial Park after the bombing.
d) We were hosting
Ringo Starr's All Starr Band at the Sun Dome in 2001. It was just prior to show time and I was going somewhere in a hurry for some reason. I burst through the stage doors coming from the arena floor and almost ran over Ringo, who was standing there, waiting to go on. Startled, I said, "Oh! Hi!" and he frostily replied, "Yeah...hi." Okay then! I would have been traumatized for life except I met Sheila E later that night.
e) I was the off-stage announcer for the
2005 American Freedom Festival at the historic Roseland Ballroom in New York, where Leeann Tweeden, a tireless and committed supporter of our troops, was appearing. I had my picture taken with her when the show was over (because she's gorgeous and sometimes, I'm only 15 years old), thanked her and mentioned that I was going to walk back to the hotel. She said she had a car and offered a ride. I gladly accepted and, being a rube hayseed, wondered to myself how she found a parking spot. Of course, she meant a limo was waiting for her. So not that it's cool enough that I'm riding through Times Square in a limo with Leeann Tweeden, it turns out we're staying at the same hotel. I had to get up before dawn the next morning to catch a flight back to Tampa. I wake up, get ready and hop on the elevator, and who's there? Leeann Tweeden! She also had to catch a crazy early flight to go cover a college football game for Fox Sports. So now I've arrived at and left a Manhattan hotel with Leeann Tweeden and all I can think is, "where's the paparazzi when you need them?"
b) My dad was a cop who very effectively instilled an unholy fear of all the possible consequences of using drugs. I think it's served me well. I have friends who've used different things and from what they tell me, I don't feel like I've missed out on anything.

3) My favorite (lucky?) number is ______
a) 6
b) 7
c) 8
d) 9
e) 10

All the digits in any multiple of 9 when added together always equals 9. I like the fact that it's an odd number and yet so symmetrically perfect like that.

4) I secretly would like to be a ________ for a day?
a) robot
b) t-rex
c) superhero
d) bass player in a band
e) all of the above

That's hardly a secret.

5) What is my middle name?
a) Joseph

b) Jackson
c) Jerome
d) Jellybean
e) Susan

My parents named me after nobody. Apparently, grandparents and other members from both sides of the family were fighting over who I should be named after, so "Clark" was their big, fat, 'F you!' to mouthy relatives. Same thing with my sister Connie who was adopted born four years later. However, mom did sneak in a shout-out to her favorite uncle by making my middle name Joseph.

6) What song would I choose to sing at a karaoke bar?
a) "Feelings"
b) "Little Red Corvette"
c) "(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man"
d) "Material Girl"
e) "Toccata and Fugue in D minor"

Did you fall for the decoy and pick "Little Red Corvette" because I'm an avowed Prince freak? Ha ha! I'm a howlin' growlin' blues man on the mic, baby!

7) I was in the __________
a) Army
b) Navy
c) Air Force
d) Marines
e) Bee Gees

I wish I'd joined the Navy now. My favorite thing about being in the military was the travel and Navy guys go everywhere. I went to Kentucky, Indiana, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York and Germany in four years. A friend from high school who joined at the same time saw Greece, Spain, Italy and Japan in two years.

8) What am I scared of?
a) Snakes
b) Bugs
c) Being serenaded in public
d) All of the above
e) None of the above

Seriously, on my birthday, my friends all know not to take me to one of those places where the waitstaff gets together and sings Happy Birthday because I will dive out of a window to get away. I'm not kidding.

9) My favorite sport to watch is ________.
a) baseball
b) football
c) basketball
d) hockey
e) soccer

Actually, I go back and forth between Rays baseball and Lightning hockey, depending what's in season and which hometown team is more fun to watch. These days, with the state the Lightning are in, that's not even a contest.

10) My favorite flavor of ice cream is ________.
a) Vanilla
b) Chocolate
c) Blue Moon
d) Mocha Choka With Extra Egg Yolka
e) Raspberry Flurb

Just about everybody I mention this to has no idea what I'm talking about. They ask what the hell Blue Moon is and what it tastes like and I can't even answer them. It's almost entirely a Midwest thing...except I found out that
Kilwin's in Sarasota has it in the summer time.

11) Few know that I have ____________.
a) a daughter I don't talk about
b) three nipples
c) a singing voice not unlike Carol Channing's
d) the ability to read toaster pastries
e) four cats

Yep. Adopted a mama cat before I knew she was going to be a mama and kept her three babies. Because sometimes I'm a softhearted shmuck, that's why.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Baseball: So much more than a game

May 21, 2009. The Big East Conference baseball championship tournament in Clearwater. UConn vs USF.
The stage is set for an epic showdown...

This could have been perfect...

What you see here are two guys at an auto dealership trying (and failing) to charge $3 for parking for a minor league baseball game here in Tampa. The dealership is over a block away from the entrance to the ballpark, which has tons of available parking for free.
In other words, they're trying to sell something that is inferior, impractical and ultimately unnecessary at an inflated price to disinterested consumers. This could have made an ironic, symbolic statement about the state of the American auto industry ( I especially like the median between the left turn arrow and the driveway) if it weren't a Mercedes-Benz dealership.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ah! Wordplay!

I think I neglected to mention that The 23-Year-Old and I, who used to work together and then didn't, are working together again, although rarely there at the same time.
What makes our relationship so special? Why, it's the snappy patter, the witty repartee, the sly banter. It's like watching Nick and Nora Charles or an Edward Albee play.

Here's a recent text message conversation. It's been translated from text message to normal people language and the name of a mutual acquaintance* who may or may not have any teeth (she doesn't) has been altered but otherwise, is exactly as it occurred. Enjoy!

ME: Why do I have a book on Polish grammar in my inbox?

HER: I left it there. Ha ha! I found it today.

ME: I'm going to make a point of being seen reading it in public.

HER: Linda* wants you to talk to her in the language of love. Also known as Polish.

ME: Mushka bushka dushka deeshka

HER: See? That mess is lovely. Like music!

ME: Too bad you don't have a book to know what I said.

HER: It says "I like the way Linda's* lips curl around her gums." Oompa!

ME: You missed the part about a shiny rubber nurse's uniform. Kielbasa!

HER: Gross!!!

ME: Ha ha ha ha ha!!

See what I mean? They don't write dialogue like that in Hollywood anymore, kids.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Carol's Corner: Hooked on phonics

Here's my mom again. I think she's starting to like blogging. It's a healthy way to express your frustrations. I'll bet she wishes she'd had a blog when I was a kid, ha ha!! (shaddup) I told her she can chime in whenever she wants so I'll be listing all her contributions under "Carol's Corner". I'm calling it that because I'm an adult now and I can use the given name of my parents if I want to. Now I have to go because I think I hear one of the cats chewing on my wind-up robot dinosaur.

Hey, it's Clark's mom again and I really need to vent. Clark said I could write anytime so I figured that this is the perfect place.
One day last week I need to fill my gas tank. I pull up to the pumps, get out and find a hand printed sign on the pump saying:

Incert credit card exactly like the picture.

A few years back I saw the following sign in the window of another gas station:
No personal checks accepted. No acceptions.

I work in an automotive manufacturing plant and this winter over one of the men's rooms doors was the sign:
Plese wipe feet.

The thing that really bothered me about this one is that I mentioned it to at least two dozen other people and none of them even noticed the spelling. How can you NOT notice it? These things scream out to me when I see them. I guess that both correct spelling and just being observant are now things of the past.
Okay, I feel better now.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Army Stories: The Russian hockey incident

I hope you're enjoying the Memorial Day weekend and celebrating the holiday in a fitting manner. As I've mentioned previously, I was in the military, which means I tend to get a little soft and mushy on holidays like this. I never came close to seeing any kind of combat, and compared to those who did and continue to do so, I consider myself a veteran like Count Chocula is a vampire. Of course, that's a perspective provided by time past. I didn't feel that way when I was active duty. It was the '80s and everybody thought we were just two pushed buttons from blowing up the entire planet. We really didn't know that much about the perceived enemy or their leader but the prevalent feeling was that ours was kinda itching to push his button. As a result, we certainly felt that we were in a state of clear and present danger.
I was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, and some friends and I had discovered the hockey arena where the local team played their home games. They provided free tickets to military personnel and going to those games became a frequent leisure activity. One night, we found out the team had scheduled an exhibition game against the Soviet Union national team. This was only five years after the Miracle On Ice and the Soviets were still probably the most formidable team in any sport in the world. As soldiers, we were wary of the Soviet Union since they were our adversaries in an undeclared war but as hockey fans, we were very excited for the opportunity to see them in action. They came out in those red uniforms with CCCP across the chest and completely dominated the boys from Frankfurt, just like we thought they would. A good time was had by all and we went back to our barracks. There we were met by our platoon sergeant, first sergeant, company commander and two unsmiling men in suits. Uh-oh.
We were called into the office and questioned about the evening's activities. Apparently the men in suits had been watching us the whole time. I got nervous and tried to remember if I had done anything that could have been considered inappropriate or even unpatriotic. I'm sure I rooted for the home team but it's entirely possible that I applauded the Soviets once or twice because they were Just. That. Good. What would happen to me? Dishonorable discharge? Court martial?? Leavenworth?!? Oh please, we were just watching a hockey game, for Pete's sake. Ask us some questions and let us go to bed.
Any hope of that happening disappeared after the first question posed by the suits: "why were you at that game?" and one of my companions replied "because the Russians are awesome!" Double uh-oh.
We then, as a group and as individuals had to...repeatedly...explain that their puck movement, back checking and scoring prowess was what we considered awesome, not any kind of socio-political philosophies. We didn't get to bed until after three in the morning and I'm pretty sure the men in suits monitored our after-hours activities for a while after that, although we never went to another hockey game.

So anyway, Happy Memorial Day! Take a moment to give thanks to those who sacrificed so we could go to hockey games and not be interrogated.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

So we have to say good-bye for the summer...

As far as television (and the thermometer here in Florida) is concerned, it is summer time already. That means it's time to say farewell to my tv friends until we meet again in the fall (or later). Luckily, Walt and Jesse are still here (for the time being), Mike and Sam will be back soon and my favorite tv pals of all will return later. But I'm still a little sad because I'll miss the people below.

Once again, you've earned some rest. You have some serious health issues to resolve but you should be fine. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to extend the hospital stay; it's hard to get DUIs, head-butt fashion designers and engage in general assholery while you're in a coma. Although, if anyone could pull that off, it'd be you.

You guys work best as a group. So while I won't miss any of you as individuals, your absence creates a void that makes me not even want to eat Chinese food on Monday night.
Okay, I will miss Sheldon just a little more than the rest of you.

You're apparently dead so I don't know why I'm talking to you. Unless you aren't, and really, who even knows?

Okay, whatever you're calling yourself, you've proven that you're a good guy. But your girlfriend Juliette? Brutal. I'm sorry but you need to know. She's really annoying. I've never liked her. And frankly, after the whole, "Let's, let's go back and stop, let's help him" shuffle, the fact that she's buried under a ton of scrap metal at the bottom of a pit, banging on a hydrogen bomb with a rock feels kind of right.

You're the only person on the island who has actually been committed to an asylum, yet as far as I can tell, you're the only sane one there. That's perfect. While you're retroactively pre-writing George Lucas scripts, can you re-work "Return of the Jedi" sans Ewoks please?

JACK (different one)
Enjoy the summer Jack. Maybe you should give your daughter a call. Well...maybe not.

PS: There seems to be a lot of people on tv named Jack, yet the only ones I know in real life are animals. Why is that?

Time for you to go back to the governor's igloo and take care of business there for a while. I know it's just Alaska but those moose aren't going to shoot themselves.

You can use the free time to finally start working on the long awaited sequels to "Who Dat Ninja" and "Honky Grandma Be Trippin'"!

The best and worst boss I never had. You may actually be dumber than Homer Simpson but you're a good person down deep. Here's hoping Summer is kind to you. And yes, that is what she said (her name is Summer).

Oh Dwight, I think I'll miss you most of all. Sure, you're an irredeemably obnoxious prick but you're my kind of irredeemably obnoxious prick. That's also what she said.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's a dog-walk-dog world

As we continue to hurtle towards wherever it is we're going to eventually wind up, things are changing rapidly. The world around us and the way we operate within it doesn't look like it did even two years ago. As Louis CK, suggests in this oft circulated clip, maybe that's not such a bad thing. Many businesses that might have once wanted to rule the world are appreciating and protecting what niches they might already have. Where we as consumers benefit from that is an elevated level of customer service that simply doesn't exist in the Wal-Mart, McDonald's universe.

I have two friends who have started a business recently who are operating under that principle right from the very start. Anna DeCaria and Dené Williamson are the owners and operators of Healthy Paws, a pet care service here in Tampa. They have no intention of conquering the dog walking world, choosing instead to limit their services to customers in the downtown Tampa, Harbour Island, Davis Island, Ybor City and Channelside districts. This allows them to provide personalized service to a manageable number of genuinely happy clients rather than doing a merely adequate job for a whole bunch of people who may or may not be merely satisfied.

Sure, it's tough times out there. But if we as consumers can reap the benefit of merchants providing better goods and service at the expense of convenience, maybe we're coming out ahead.

Healthy Paws can be reached by sending an email to, calling (813) 340-3363 or (813) 382-2662 or by visiting their web site.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nos es forsit iustus iens essum is

"The thing is, if it's only twenty-five cents, we're probably just gonna eat it."

And so it was, on the however-many-millionth day this was, Some Guy in Houston accidentally, yet thoroughly and concisely, did summarize what passes for post-modern spirituality.

The St. Pete Times loves me!

Look everybody! I had an entry published in the St. Pete Times wildly popular "Stuck In The '80s" blog!
This is the coolest thing relating to the '80s to happen to me since the Musicology Tour and until women go back to wearing big hair and lace gloves.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

This week's Clarketplace item

Miraculous hash browns! - $10 (Tampa) Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]
Date: 2009-05-17, 9:33PM EDT

We've all seen miraculous religious imagery with various holy figures showing up in unexpected places. Well, check out this geographical phenomenon! I was making breakfast the other day and was whipping up some hash browns (with good!) and I looked down and saw a nearly perfect potato-ey manifestation of the cradle of civilization, Africa. It wasn't something I set out to do, it "just happened". Except I don't believe in this kind of thing "just happening". I think it means something...something meaningful...something important...but I don't know what. So I'm selling it, hopefully, to someone who can figure it out.
Maybe you're a geography teacher looking for a way to stimulate your students imaginations. Maybe you're hosting a dinner party to celebrate Africa or something and you need a centerpiece. Maybe you just like continents and hash browns with cheese on them (delicious!). Who can say? Not me, that's for sure.
Cash, checks, money orders all ok. FREE DELIVERY!
Location: Tampa
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

LAST WEEK'S ITEM: Orange creme soda!
No response. Nobody in Tampa Bay was thirsty enough to drink this gunk. I don't mind though. My sincere hope is that nobody in Tampa Bay will EVER be thirsty enough to drink this gunk.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wayman Tisdale

Well, damn it. Sure seems like we keep losing all the good guys.

You can check out any time you like

This is just another one of those things I don't understand.
You're looking at a picture of the Dutch Motel (not to be confused with the Dutch Oven, which probably smells better inside), located at the corner of Hillsborough and Florida avenues here in Tampa. Once upon a time, motels like this were choice lodgings for travel-weary tourist families seeking respite from long hours on the open road. Now, it's the kind of place one might choose to lay low for a while and nurse a gunshot wound or two. It's not near the beach. There's no pool. It's not even that conveniently located to the interstate. Yet somehow, decades after motels like this were supplanted by larger hotels offering more amenities at discount rates and in an economy where all kinds of companies, including proven brand names with high customer satisfaction rankings like Starbucks, are closing locations all over the country, places like the Dutch Motel survive. Now how is that possible?

Thursday, May 14, 2009


On the big list of found miracles, where would a pan of hash browns that slightly resembles the continent of Africa rank?

(You kinda have to squint a little...)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Flying Squirrel!

Recently, a friend declared that the flying squirrel is now her favorite animal. This reminded me of my misspent youth when I used to write and draw the comic book adventures of a superhero known only as The Flying Squirrel. A mild-mannered pet shop owner by day (yes, seriously. What? I was, like, 8), The Flying Squirrel patrolled the city by night, striking fear into the hearts of criminals everywhere. He had no actual superpowers, but using his extensive knowledge of rodents, he designed a costume that allowed him to swoop down on evil-doers from great heights. You can say he was one dimensional if you want to, but he was hell at swooping.
These fond memories have inspired me. So for the first time in over 35 years or so, here is a new chapter in the dark legend of The Flying Squirrel!

Criminal 1: We're almost in. Just a few more minutes and the entire contents of the city's art museum vault will be ours!
Criminal 2: Yeah, well hurry up. I don't have a good feeling about being exposed out here like this.
Criminal 1: Look, I told you already, the only way to access the vault is through this wall that just happens to be in a wide open courtyard that's surrounded on all four sides by tall buildings.
Criminal 2: It just seems like we're tempting fate. There's a superhero in this city whose specialty is swooping down and here we are, in a prime swooping down location.
Criminal 1: Just relax. There's nothing to...WHAT TH--OW!!! Something has knocked the wind out of me, rendering me unable to fight or flee!
Criminal 2: OUCH! And at the same time, I have suffered a blow to the head and am rapidly losing consciousness!
The Flying Squirrel: Ha HA! You have been swooped down upon by THE FLYING SQUIRREL! Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot. Will their kind never learn? Perhaps had they not dropped out of school...
Criminal 3: Hey, what's going on?
The Flying Squirrel: Who are you?
Criminal 3: I'm the third member of this criminal gang. I just stepped around the corner to smoke a cigarette, drink some wine and cheat on my taxes. Who are you?
The Flying Squirrel: I am...The Flying Squirrel. And you're under arrest, bub.
Criminal 3: I think I will shoot you. With my gun.
The Flying Squirrel: Wait! Don't do that...uh, stand over here for a minute.
Criminal 3: What? Why?
The Flying Squirrel: Because, ah, the light is better. Out in the open, not too close to any walls. And stay there for a minute, I'll be right back.
Criminal 3: Where are you going?
The Flying Squirrel: Upstairs, to like the 4th or 5th floor. I forgot something.
Criminal 3: Are you going up there so you can swoop down on me?
The Flying Squirrel: What? No.
Criminal 3: I think you are. I think you plan on going up there so you can swoop down on me.
The Flying Squirrel: ...
Criminal 3: I'll wait. For a few minutes. But I'm going to stand here against this wall, so it's more difficult for you to do that.
The Flying Squirrel: No! You should stand more out in the open. Away from the wall or any other solid obstructions.
Criminal 3: Why?
The Flying Squirrel: Because, it's, um, bad luck to not stand out in the open. Everybody knows that.
Criminal 3: Well...okay.
The Flying Squirrel: Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot. Will their kind never learn?
Criminal 3: What did you say?
The Flying Squirrel: Nothing. I'll be right down. Err, I mean back. I'll be right back. Don't look up for the next ten minutes or so.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Current events part 2: Questions, no answers.

Why in the world does anybody care about this?
When was the last time beauty pageants were relevant to anything remotely important?
When was the last time Donald Trump was relevant to anything remotely important?
Is the Miss USA pageant even on television anymore?
Is Bert Lahr still the host?
Or is it Bert Convy?
Or is it Bert and Ernie?
Burt Reynolds? (note: I'll watch it if he is)
Is there nothing else going on right now?
Aren't there people hanging out up in space?
Isn't there some other televised utterly vapid popularity talent competition that's supplanted the Miss USA contest?
Is Miss America the same thing as Miss USA?
If not, isn't it time we had a playoff?

UPDATE: Jon Stewart has similar concerns (or lack thereof)...
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
The Pageant of the Christ
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Current events part 1

I recently got into a discussion with someone regarding John Demjanjuk that went something (well, exactly) like this:

HIM: I think they should leave the old German guy alone, he isn't hurting anyone anymore.
ME: Ummm...
HIM: Old Nazi guy. The U.S. Is deporting him.
ME: I know. And I re-state my "Ummm..."
HIM: The man is like, 90. He had to be removed from his house by an ambulance. Yeah, he might have done some bad stuff but I'm pretty sure he isn't going to anymore.
ME: Living long enough to become frail is not a punishment, it's a privilege. He denied the opportunity for that privilege to 29,000 people.
HIM: He is going to die before he is even going to go on trial.
ME: The point isn't whether or not he's capable of harming anyone now or in the future, the point is he needs to be held accountable for what he's done in the past. As long as he's still alive, he's responsible for that. And the descendants of his victims are entitled to it. Not vengeance, necessarily, but accountability. Actively participating in the murders of 29,000 people is considerably worse than "some bad stuff" and I don't see how living to a ripe old age should entitle him to a free pass on having to answer for it.

I broke it off after that because I was getting pissed off. In large part because I think the other person is an intelligent and thoughtful young man and what I perceive as flippancy and/or a lack of understanding on his part is out of character for him. However, I'd like to continue my thoughts on the matter here:

It's my sincere belief that the #1 reason why our current version of society is in the state it's in is because of a lack of accountability. Too many people are simply unwilling to own their bullshit and too many of the rest of us don't want to call them on it. As long as that mindset prevails, all the stimulus packages in the world aren't going to get us on the path to where we need to be. If we aren't willing to hold an accused Nazi war criminal's feet to the fire just because he looks like a feeble old man, then we deserve every one of the liars and cheats who have infested so many aspects of our lives. Personally, I not only don't care if he looks like Gepetto, the kindly toymaker, I don't care if he IS Gepetto the kindly toymaker.
He says he's innocent. So be it, let's have a trial and see what comes out in the wash. "This is about being an accessory to murder in 29,000 cases. That is an accusation of monstrous crimes. At all times, we owe it the victims to clear it up. Above all in Germany, we have a very special responsibility," said Bavaria's state justice minister, Beate Merk. Exactly. And if he's not able to survive the rigors of a strenuous trial, well, to quote fictional Russian boxing menace Ivan Drago, "if he dies, he dies." Or in other words, fuck him. Actually, I hope they have him hooked up to a heart monitor and if at any point they get the long "beeeeeeeeeeeeep", they should hit him with those shock paddle things, bring his ass back to life and immediately resume the proceedings.
Seriously, if we can't make a stand on this guy, we should just officially forfeit the right to complain about Manny Rodriguez, Rod Blagojevich and everybody in between.

Monday, May 11, 2009

This week's Clarketplace item

Orange creme soda - $10 (Tampa)

Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]Date: 2009-05-11, 11:12AM EDT
I bought this soda, thinking it would be good, but it's terrible. It tastes like carbonated liquid baby aspirin. It's easily the most disgusting I've ever had in my mouth and if you knew me, you'd know that is saying something. I mean, you might like it though. I only had one small sip. Cash, checks, money orders all ok. FREE DELIVERY!
Location: Tampa
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

LAST WEEK'S ITEM: Awesome Facebook updates!
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A warning

Here's a heads-up for you:
If you're like me, you grew up enjoying the smooth, creamy combination of orange and vanilla found in creamsicles and orange floats. If you're like me, you might find the product featured here in the cooler at your local convenience store and, fondly recalling pleasant childhood memories, may be tempted to buy it. If you're like me, you will know what it's like to drink carbonated liquid baby aspirin as a result.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Happy Mothers Day

In keeping with a longstanding American tradition of children giving their moms nothing of actual value for a gift on Mothers day, I am turning this space over to me own dear mum. Ladies and gentlemen, the first guest blogger in the history of this site and also the first woman to ever give birth to me, my mom...

Hi, my name is Carol Brooks and I have the privilege of being Clark's mom. I live in Mishawaka, IN and ship military HUMVEES all over the world for a living. Clark has given me a chance to take over his blog for Mothers Day. Just my chance to get even with him and tell you a few tales about his growing up.
He has a younger sister, Connie. When they were little he had her convinced that she was adopted. He had her so convinced that I had to take her to our library and show her the old local newspaper with the announcement of the birth of a baby girl to Mr & Mrs Brooks on her birthday. He also has a cousin, Mary Beth, whom the family calls "MB". Of course he wasn't happy with that name so he changed MB to "monkey breath". Where did I go wrong?
When he was in grade school I got a call from the teacher about the joke he was telling his classmates: What word starts with F and ends with UCK? His answer: firetruck. What could I say, he was right.
And yes, he really does have an aunt, Joan, and she used to drive a minivan. She knows how Clark feels about minivan drivers so just last week she got rid of hers and now drives a Saturn.
Over the years it has really been an experience raising Clark. I'm not sure the job is done yet. In the middle of winter he loves to call me and complain about how warm it is in Florida! But in the long run he really was a good kid and a heck of a lot of fun with one of the greatest senses of humor of anyone I know. I am proud to be his mom.

And I'm proud to be your sonny boy, mom. Happy Mothers Day. I love you.

PS: I remain unconvinced that Connie is not adopted.

There's a Red House over yonder...

Okay, maybe IKEA isn't for you. That's cool. There's no need to fight about it. There are alternatives out there for EVERYONE...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I kissed IKEA and I liked it

After receiving an invitation that I was positive wasn't intended for me, I got up at 5AM yesterday to attend the IKEA Tampa grand opening. I had never been to an IKEA store before and I had expressed that I didn't understand why people were so fanatical about it. This resulted in me being labeled an IKEA hater. But while devotion may equal love, skepticism (or in my case, blind ignorance) doesn't necessarily equal hatred. So I went to check it out, and while I won't say that I'm a converted fanatic, I will say it was very cool, different in so many ways from any store I've ever seen. I really enjoyed the experience and will certainly do it again.

Dear God, did I just use the word "experience" to describe shopping at IKEA?!

Here's a shot from the Clark-o-copter, piloted by one of my robot drones. Many of the people in this line were very disappointed when they got to the end and found out there was no free chicken.

Me and the Mayor, the Honorable Pam Iorio. Mayor Pam told me that she is a fan of the Proud Lion Pub. No joke. I believe she is also a fan of this blog. No comment.

IKEA is all about designing innovative, efficient products. Here's something for people who love musical percussion marching ensembles but just don't have the space available for a regular, full-size drumline.

The prototype for flamboyantly dressed hip-hop guys, however, still has some space-saving kinks to be worked out and is still in development

The last sound you hear before IKEA employees attack...

What overwhelming looks like

I am frightened by real-life incarnations of fictional characters from children's literature, having once been nearly mauled to death by Winnie The Pooh. Luckily, I had this brave squid to protect and comfort me.

The Swedes have a lot to learn about America. Uh, that's not what those are and that's not how it's spelled, okay?

Swedes have a sense of humor, although it appears they've only recently seen "Wayne's World".

Much of the appeal of shopping at IKEA is the low prices. But I don't really know anything about home furnishings and what they cost. I don't even remember ever buying any furniture myself and I could be in real trouble if I ever have to explain where I got all this stuff in my apartment. So I really don't know what is or is not a bargain because I don't have a point of reference...
Well, now we're talking! That's a GREAT price on a hot dog! Easily the best value I have ever seen on...wait a minute...what's that fine print say?

Ah HA!!

I remain unconvinced about these exceptional bargains...
Wow. Okay, I'm officially impressed. Whatever it is, it's a deal. A guy standing nearby pointed out "I can buy 10 of them for $2.90 or a hundred of them for only $29.00..." Apparently some sort of genius in exponential mathematics, I had no idea how far he was willing to extrapolate so I grabbed one and headed for the register.

And here it is, my grand purchase at IKEA. .32 with tax, which I paid for with exact change at the self-service checkout (because I'm a wiz at those things). It's plain (no logos or markings of any kind), it's devoid of anything remotely resembling color, it's small and I really, really like it. Well played, IKEA. I will return to sample your madness again soon.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

There will be meatballs

Today, Tampa takes another step on the journey to the Big Time!
Or not.

Or somewhere in between.
Depending on whom you ask.
Today, is the official Grand Opening of Tampa's IKEA store.
has been, and continues to be, much debate on how big a deal this really is, with seemingly everybody having something to say. Personally, I think it's cool. there has been a lack of Swedish culture in this area since the Lightning screwed up royally and gave away traded Fredrik Modin to Columbus for nothing Marc Denis.
Regardless, the people who are excited about it, some camping out since Monday in anticipation of today’s festivities, don’t really care what anybody else thinks. Chronicling every aspect of the store’s development on her blog and via updates on Twitter since ground was broken, Kelly Hickman is arguably Tampa’s biggest IKEA fan. Here’s what she had to say about The Big Day and the whole pro/anti IKEA kerfuffle:

So if Sweden is so great, why did you move here?

Po-boys, Santa Claus and Walt Disney World
(author's note: Kelly Hickman is a native Floridian who has lived here her whole life. The author, on the other hand, is a boob)

Everywhere I’ve gone for the last two weeks, all people are talking about is this Grand Opening even though most of them aren’t going to be able to go. Where does IKEA get off stealing ideas from the Super Bowl?
Well, actually it's quite the opposite. IKEA has been around since 1943, the Super Bowl since 1967. You do the math.

What is it about IKEA that gets people so excited?
At the top of the list... the fantastic prices, over 10,000 well-designed practical home furnishings for every room of the home, the room settings in the Showroom, IKEA's environmentally and socially responsible efforts, Smaland for kids, dual flush toilets, the .99 hot breakfast and, of course, the Swedish meatballs.

Do you plan on camping out for the Grand Opening?
No, but I do plan to arrive by 6am on Wednesday morning when the festivities are scheduled to begin. There will be jugglers, stilt-walkers, a drum line, children's chorus, dancing and musicians. There will also be Jumbotrons in the parking lot so no one will miss any of the action. The opening ceremonies will begin at 8:30am and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio will join IKEA Tampa Store Manger Monica Varela in sawing a ceremonial log in half.

How many people are following you on Twitter now?

What do you say to the people who don’t share your enthusiasm for IKEA?
Everyone has different tastes, so not everyone is going to like IKEA. That's cool. And it only makes sense that not everyone will be as enthusiastic as many of us are. What doesn't make sense to me are the people that are just grumpy and want everyone to know how much they "don't get" IKEA. I would just remind those people that they do have other retail choices and that if they "don't understand" the IKEA excitement they may just want to try seeing a movie or heading to the beach, perhaps. I continue to be entertained by the critics who spend a great amount of time trolling news sites, posting negative comments, responding on Facebook and Twitter, etc., basically what I see as wasting their time, commenting on how IKEA fans are "wasting their time". People camp out for concert tickets. They camp out at Best Buy prior to every "Black Friday". This isn't that bizarre folks. So, again, if the IKEA excitement, and people having a good ol' time around something, annoys or angers or confuses someone, I would suggest that they get a life and/or find a shrink.

What do you plan to blog about after the Grand Opening is over?
IKEA Tampa special events, sales, fan comments, etc.

You know that movie “Fight Club”, that scene where Edward Norton has an apartment or something and it is all furnished in IKEA stuff? And it blows up? And then, like, all his possessions are destroyed? Do you remember that?

That was awesome. I thought that was awesome. Did you think that was awesome?

There you have it; even Tampa’s biggest IKEA fan thinks it’s awesome when IKEA stuff gets blown up. Perhaps the two factions are not as different as they may think.


  • Opening festivities begin at 6:00AM
  • Doors open at 9:00AM, but people have been allowed to line up outside since Monday at 9:00AM.
  • Ongoing updates and reports can be found at the IKEA Tampa Fan Blog and by following IKEA Tampa Fans on Twitter.
  • The first 100 adults (18 and over) in line will receive a free POÄNG armchair
  • The first 2,500 people to visit IKEA Tampa on Opening Day will receive a random prize envelope with IKEA Gift Cards ranging from $10 to $250, or a "Buy One, Get One" cinnamon bun, hot dog or frozen yogurt voucher.
  • The first 100 children (under 18) in line will receive a free FAMNIG heart-shaped cushion.
  • Visitors who bring proof that May 6th is their birthday will receive a $10 gift card.
  • From May 6 through 10, visitors to IKEA Tampa may enter a drawing to win one of ten $1,000 IKEA Gift Cards. IKEA will match the prizes (a total of $10,000) with a home furnishings donation to the Child Abuse Council of Hillsborough County.
  • IKEA Tampa will be IKEA’s 3rd store in Florida, 37th in the United States and 297th overall.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


The other night, I had a dream about the game of Bingo (I don't know why. Don't judge me). But it caused me to think about the game of Bingo, maybe more than I ever have in my entire life, and it caused me to wonder aloud (via Twitter) why the Bingo caller always says the letter and the number.
If you've never played the game of Bingo before, first of all, welcome to our planet. Secondly, Bingo is a game of chance played with up to 75 randomly drawn numbers which players match against numbers that have been pre-printed on 5x5 matrices (or cards). But here's the thing that caused me to wonder; while the drawing of numbers is random, the layout on the cards (or matrices) is not, in that numbers 1-15 are always under the letter B (the first column to the left), 16-30 are always under the letter I (the second column), and so on. Not in sequential order of course, but always in the same columns. The number 75 will never appear under the letter B. This makes the numbers very easy to find and many players are able to play several cards simultaneously. So why is it necessary to call out the letter before reading the number if the number is always going to be found in the column under the same letter every single time? It just seems like they're unnecessarily slowing the furious slam-bang, rock 'em-sock 'em pace of Bingo, the Roller Derby of all number matching games.
As it turns out, a friend has a brother who manages a Bingo hall (I don't know why. Don't judge her or her brother) had an answer for me. Quote: "They do it for the stupid people."
That's right folks. The next time you're stuck in a long line at the post office or gas station, when the beach is too crowded to enjoy, when the coffee runs out before you could get some, take a look around and realize that many of the people around you may be too stupid to find a number between 1 and 75 that can only be found within a certain five out of 24 places (remember, there's a free spot right in the middle) without being told which five places those are, every single time.

  • Bingo was invented in 1934. Insert old people joke here.
  • There are about 5.52*1026, (exactly 155 × 145 × 135 × 125 × 114) possible arrangements of the numbers on a bingo card. Even though the numbers are always, ALWAYS, in the same friggin' columns (see above).
  • Bingo is often used as an instructional tool in American primary schools and in teaching English as a foreign language in many countries.
  • Apparently, if you have the number 3 (or B 3 for the stupids), and it gets called, you automatically win (providing you hear it called):

Monday, May 04, 2009

This time, I knew what to do

The 23-Year-Old came home from going home last night. I'm not sure how that works. I think E = MC2 factors into it somewhere. At any rate, I was ready when I picked her up at the airport.
First of all, I made sure to bring my bullhorn. Did I mention previously that I have a bullhorn? Oh yes, I have a bullhorn.

I pulled up at the arrival area where she was waiting with her luggage and announced, "Yay! My mail order bride from Slovakia is here! The best $700 I ever spent on the internet! You're even prettier than your picture on the web site, but where's your cowboy hat? Oh well. I sure hope you like kids, 'cause you're going to have lots of 'em."
Someday, for her sake, hopefully, she will learn to make better choices than trusting me.

A short conversation about full disclosure

"Okay, so today I learned that when you said you played basketball in college, you didn't mean that you actually played college basketball, even though that's what you led me to believe as you encouraged me to bet $50 against those two guys at the playground. Is there anything else you'd like to share with me, now that it's too late to do anything about it?"

"I never went to college."

Sunday, May 03, 2009

This week's Clarketplace item

Awesome Facebook updates! - $10 (Tampa)

Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]Date: 2009-05-03, 9:46PM EDT
Facebook is the most popular social networking site on the internet. With over 2 billion new users signing up every single day, it's only a matter of time before most of the people you know will be online and checking you out. Unfortunately, far too many Facebook users have lame status updates: " is watching television", " is syncing a new iPod", " is selling a bucket of scalding hot water on Craigslist". B-O-O-O-R-ING!! Is that what you want the people you dated in high school to see when they find your page? How about the people you DIDN'T date? Yeah, I don't think so either. Wouldn't you rather have them see something like...THIS: " is backstage with the Rolling Stones...again", " is deciding which Ivy League university to turn down", " is getting tired of taking late night phone calls from Barack Obama".

This could be YOUR life!! For only $10, I will update your Facebook status once a day, every day for a full month, more than enough time to impress just about anybody. And since you're not writing these updates, you can truthfully lay the blame elsewhere if somebody figures out that they're not entirely factual. You can't lose!
So what are you waiting for? Start (virtually) living the life I've always dreamed of! Cash, checks, money orders all ok. FREE DELIVERY!
Location: Tampa
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

So, no responses (duh).

Friday, May 01, 2009


NOTE: Today's regularly scheduled blog post, various uninspired and pointless warblings about some kind of nonsense will not be presented today because of...well, what I just said. The author, from his location in a hole, offers his sincere apologies for any time wasted and hopes you enjoy this cartoon instead.