Friday, July 31, 2009

The Ultimate Argument

Extremely strong evidence presented in the case for proof of existence of a benevolent supreme being who loves us and wants us to be happy
Orgasms

Extremely strong evidence presented to refute the case for proof of existence of a benevolent supreme being who loves us and wants us to be happy
Pets dying

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A short conversation about the Apollo 11 moon landing

"Uh, Houston, we have a...Well, I guess you'd call it a situation. Over."

"Go ahead, Eagle. Over."

"Uh, yeah, it would appear that the American flag we planted was blown over when Eagle began it's ascent. Over."

"That is unfortunate, Eagle. Over."

"Houston, Do you want me to, uh, go back and fix it? Over."

"Uh, the Eagle is not a craft that is designed to go back and forth to the moon. I'm pretty sure, uh, that's something that would have been covered in your training. Over."

"Houston, uh, no biggie. I'll just climb down real quick, uh, scamper behind the green screen, come in from stage left and re-plant it. I saw some sandbags by the sound mixer. I can, uh, use one of those to make sure it stays up. Quick like a bunny. Just, uh, vamp and cover me for a couple of minutes. Over."

"Eagle, uh, not sure what you're talking about. NASA Mission Control does not 'vamp'. You're in an actual spacecraft, returning to Earth. You're not on a movie set somewhere in Arizona. Over."

"Riiiiight. Listen, while I'm out, I'm going to, uh, stop at the craft services table. Over"

"..."

"Houston, do you, uh, want anything? Over."

"(whispered) Eagle, grab me some, uh, mini muffins. Over."

"Roger that. Eagle out."

"Blueberry!"

Gauntlet O' Grease

I try to do the right thing. Honestly, I do. In all instances, I make a sincere, concerted effort to be responsible. That includes eating. However, circumstances are such that makes things difficult for me. Well, not just me; anybody who ever works outside of the 9AM to 5PM parameters. And the later you have to work, the tougher it is. It's extremely difficult to shop and it's not convenient to cook when you come home after midnight. So as much as you try to avoid it, eating out is something you just have to do sometimes.
That's bad.
For one thing, it's not a wise way to spend money. But worse than that are the options available to you as a late night diner. Here is the list of places that serve food and are open after midnight on Hillsborough Avenue between I-4 and where I live:
  • Steak & Shake
  • Arby's
  • Denny's
  • Some chicken wing joint (I don't know the name, never stopped there)
  • Burger King
  • Popeye's
  • Dunkin' Donuts
  • McDonald's
  • Checkers
  • Krystal
  • Wendy's

Of those, the one place that stands out as most likely to provide a legitimate meal with some kind of positive nutritional value is Denny's, and that's just because their ketchup doesn't come in single-serve packets.

Why is it that the worse the food is (or worse for you anyway), the later the place stays open? Subway, which touts itself as a healthy alternative to fast food, closes at 11, while Checkers is open til 4AM and Krystal is open around the clock. I think it's a conspiracy. I think the general feeling is that most people who are out and about "after hours" are probably up to no good, which is probably true. After all, nobody donates blood at 2AM or reads to blind orphans at 3:30AM. So somebody decided to thin the herd by fattening them up and getting them to kill themselves. That's the only theory that makes sense to me.

So yeah, the blog is back

"Why don't I strap on my job helmet and squeeze down into a job cannon and fire off into Jobland where jobs grow on little jobbies." -- Charlie Kelly, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Charlie Kelly is a fictional character and Jobland is a fictional place. But the advice on finding a job is as valid as any you're liable to find these days. Everybody I know who isn't independently wealthy (ie: everybody I know) who has a job considers themselves fortunate. They may not be happy with the job itself, but they're happy they have it. This applies to me too. I have to do something to pay my bills. Employers know this and seem to be pushing boundaries as far as how they treat their employees (which is something somebody in the government should be keeping an eye on, I think, because it has potential to get worse). My employer certainly knows that they can do whatever they want to me and as a result, my work schedule is never the same from one week to the next. It frequently consists of quirky little joys like night shifts (2PM-10PM) followed less than 8 hours later by a morning shift (6AM-2PM). I've also worked every single holiday since I started with this company.
EVERY ONE?
Yep.
SO WHAT DOES ANY OF THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THE BLOG?
The short version is there was an incident involving a co-worker who works the overnight shift that any reasonable person would expect to be fired for. However, the way the incident was dealt with was apparently taken directly from the Dunder Mifflin corporate manual and the person was merely given a week off suspended. This created gaps in the schedule that had to be filled by, for some reason, me. But not just a week of overnight shifts, which would have been unpleasant enough, but mixed with a new hybrid, red-headed bastard child shift, created just this week, and just for me, that runs from 6PM to 2AM (if you don't get why that is inherently heinous, think about what hours you normally interact socially with friends and loved ones; if those hours wouldn't chew up every available minute of any possible hope for a social life, they would certainly leave a gigantic shitstain right in the middle of that prospect). It occurs to me that I should mention that I'm held in some regard there; I am actually the current Employee of the Month. Let that little nugget of absolute truth illustrate the atmosphere I'm trying to portray.
THAT'S IT? A CHANGE IN WORK SCHEDULE?
Well, the arbitrary and consistently inconsistent nature of my schedule, requiring me to work any combination of shifts during a given week has finally caught up to me and my metabolism and internal clock are shot. My body and brain have absolutely no idea when to sleep, when to eat or anything else they normally like to keep track of. "Sorry boys," is all I can tell them. "I don't know what to tell you." Because I don't. As a result, I'm finding myself in bed a lot, tired, but unable to sleep, alternately all wound up and wide awake at weird hours (like now). This has had a major, and drastic, affect on my health...and my writing. Since I can't seem to figure out when I should or shouldn't be in bed or eat meals, I can't seem to figure out when I can sit down at the keyboard and pound out some verbiage.
ANYTHING ELSE?
Okay, fairly significant personal revelation time: I am subject to periodic bouts of severe depression. I mean the kind that cripples you to the point where you can't function socially. These dark periods hit me without warning and often without a catalyst...and then, just as suddenly, lift by themselves and I'm back to normal. I can't control it and I don't know what to do about it. Every time it happens, it seems to get worse and the periods between these bouts seems shorter and shorter. That's a concern for another time and place, though.
Now, I'm pretty sure that all the stuff I listed above was a factor in my latest bout, which has consumed me for the last three or four or five days (I tend to lose count) and from which I'm just emerging tonight/this morning. When I get like that, I can't write at all. The only thing I produced of any kind of merit at all since I shut the blog down the other day was a really ugly and dreary poem, that had it been published, would have resulted in phone calls from deeply concerned people near and far (at least, I'd like to hope so...if not, geez, talk about depressing). So I didn't publish that.
SO NOW WHAT?
Well, I can't quit my job (at least, apparently I don't have to worry about being fired) and there's no reason to think they aren't going to keep screwing me over in regards to my schedule (zebras being unable to change their spots and all that) so I've decided to stop worrying about how my job is fucking up my social life, because, let's be honest, I don't really have one. But I'm not willing to abandon my writing and being...I don't know...something valuable, worthwhile...or at least somewhat interesting...through that. So I'll keep writing. My output may be more sporadic; I've tried very hard to publish at least five times a week. That may not be possible going forward, but I'll do my best. Simply because I'm pissed off now and I refuse to let them completely kill me just because occasionally I need to buy cat food. Take that, you fuckers.
So that's it.
Let's get back to monkey jokes and talking about robots.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The blog is back in business

Further details and some background will be posted here later in the form of an angry screed.

Monday, July 27, 2009

This blog is...

...until further notice, pending The Powers That Be at my current place of primary employment figuring out a way to deal with a thief within the company, other than giving that person a week off while simultaneously destroying any shot I might have at worthwhile free time or anything remotely resembling a social life by having me fill the gaps in the schedule. The alternative solution is me finding other primary employment, the pursuit of which is about the only worthwhile activity my new schedule allows.

Go ahead and try this at home. Just do it right.

Anybody who interacts with me via Facebook and/or Twitter knows that I often update my status by pointing out things that are comparatively overrated and underrated. Here are some examples:

  • OVERRATED: Sarcasm. UNDERRATED: Flippancy
  • OVERRATED: "That's not a knife; THIS is a knife!" UNDERRATED: "Now I have a machine gun. Ho-Ho-Ho"
  • OVERRATED: Kool. UNDERRATED: The Gang
  • OVERRATED: Creepy clowns UNDERRATED: Creepy acrobats
  • OVERRATED: Research and development leading to microscopic nanorobots UNDERRATED: Research and development leading to one gigantic robot

I find it's a nice, easy, and, I'd like to believe (although I'm probably wrong), thought-provoking way to call attention to things that might not get enough recognition. Since I started doing it, people I know are doing it also. As far as trendsetting goes, it's not going to earn me any money and it's not all that widespread, but still, it's nice to think that I wield some kind of influence over people. The problem is, not everybody does it correctly.

The other night, a young man I know posted the following: "OVERRATED: Prince UNDERRATED: The Beatles"

Now, OVERRATED/UNDERRATED is certainly a matter of opinion, but this is wrong for a couple of reasons: A) You don't speak ill of Prince. Okay? You just...don't. B) Unless you're talking about beach volleyball, research and development leading to microscopic nanorobots or some other area in which their proficiency and dominance has not been previously established and celebrated, it is impossible to underrate The Beatles. Just can't be done.

Here's what you need to know in order to do it right:

  • Keep in mind that "OVERRATED" doesn't mean bad. Something can be awesome and still be OVERRATED. It all depends on what you're saying is UNDERRATED. Here's a perfect example: OVERRATED: How cool Jack Nicholson is UNDERRATED: How cool Paul Newman is. Everybody always talks about how cool Jack Nicholson is. And no doubt, he is very, very cool. But at the end of the day, wouldn't you much rather be Paul Newman? I know I would. He's much cooler. You never saw Paul Newman play slightly more unhinged versions of his real self in movies or lose it and go after someone with a golf club or be seen mugging it up at every single awards ceremony that comes down the pike. Come to think of it, maybe Jack Nicholson isn't even all that cool to start with. At any rate, this illustrates the point perfectly.
  • Certain elements, like The Beatles, can't be UNDERRATED, simply because they are too damn good or prevalent or both. Others include: oxygen, Ted Williams and Muhammad Ali. The one exception to this would be water. And that's because nobody really appreciates a nice, cold drink of water until they're really, really thirsty, at which point you feel like it's the best thing you've ever had in your life...which is because it is. Water is vastly UNDERRATED when compared to other drinks.
  • Certain other elements can't be UNDERRATED, simply because they aren't very good. Others may not share your appreciation for the "Charlie's Angels" movies but not because they're UNDERRATED. Rather, it's because they suck. The problem is you, not them. Now, we all have our guilty pleasures and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But it's not a good idea to call attention to yourself by trying to justify them as something better than they are. Gouda cheese might very well be OVERRATED but it doesn't mean Cheetos are UNDERRATED. Usually, it's best just to just enjoy sitting quietly in the corner, sucking the fluorescent orange, vaguely-cheese flavored sodium residue of bad pop culture off your fingers without bringing others into it.
  • It's not advisable to OVERRATE/UNDERRATE really big and important things. If you try to compare gods and countries and Elvis and stuff like that, you're going to piss people off. Also, certain elements are too large and powerful to be brought into any kind of conflict with one another and should be left alone. Let discretion be the better part of valor there.
  • Also, try to stay away from things that aren't all that awesome. Sure, you could do an OVERRATED/UNDERRATED for cole slaw and potato salad. But why bother?

So there you have your guidelines. Go forth and make your own comparisons. OVERRATED: Me, overrating and underrating stuff all the time UNDERRATED: You doing it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Twitter Court

All right, Twitter Court is in session. Please take your seats and be quiet. As you are all aware, Twitter has become an incredibly popular social media format. With hundreds of new users every day, most of the really good names have already been claimed. The purpose of this court is to mediate and determine rightful custody of Twitter users names.
Today, we'll be determining rightful custody of the name "The_Real_Hulk". We have two parties laying claim to that particular user name, Mr. Randy Hulk of Coloma, Michigan...

RANDY HULK: Hello, Your Honor.

...and Mr. Incredible Hulk of New York City.

INCREDIBLE HULK: Bah! Hulk smash puny humans!

Why don't we begin by hearing from you, Mr. Hulk?

RANDY HULK: Me? Do you mean me? Or...okay, I'll start. Uh, my name is Randy Hulk and I'm a realtor. I use Twitter to update my clients, share info with my office and as a networking tool to meet new clients. I deserve to use the name "The Real Hulk" because Hulk actually is my name, it's Hungarian, so I actually am the real Hulk and also it's (chuckles) kind of a play on words with me being in real estate (chuckles again).

INCREDIBLE HULK (turns into Dr. Bruce Banner): Your Honor, The Incredible Hulk is my alter ego, a creature I transform into when I am angry or otherwise under stress. This is a condition directly related to my being accidentally exposed to gamma rays back in the early '60s. It's really a retelling of the classic Jekyll and Hyde, cast at the dawn of the nuclear age. It's, uh, a burden, but I've come to terms with it. Being The Incredible Hulk is what I'm best known for. Well, that and wearing purple pants.

Very compelling arguments from both of you. Any final comments you'd like to make before I render judgment?

RANDY HULK: Well, I'm a real person and my name is Hulk, so...

INCREDIBLE HULK (has turned back): Hulk smash! Hulk smash!

Judgment is for the comic book character. Case closed.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Who knew? They did.

We're so stupid.
All this time we've wasted launching apes and monkeys into space, teaching them how to do sign language, locking them in a room with typewriters and hoping they'll reproduce the complete works of Shakespeare.
All along, we could have been learning worthwhile things from them. But no, we were too busy being clever to pay attention.
What a bunch of chumps...not chimps...we are.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stove top stuff

I was cooking yesterday (nothing exciting, just a couple of eggs) and I started wondering why I have so many burners on my stove. It seems like I do everything on one, the same one (front left, close to the toaster, away from the microwave), all the time. There may have been occasions where I used two simultaneously but I'm pretty sure I've never used three. And I know for a fact I've never used all four at the same time. I'm not 100% sure all four even work. I'm also not sure who thought I'd ever even need four. I mean, the stove came with the apartment so I know whoever built this place way back when is responsible, but what were they thinking? I never have company so it's not like I ever need to cook for a whole mob of people (think Thanksgiving, or some such) but my apartment isn't big enough to accommodate a gathering like that anyway. Seems like the builders would have figured that out for themselves years before I moved in. Anybody who lives here could obviously make do just fine with one of those little two-burner Coleman camping stoves. Would've freed up a whole bunch of room in the kitchen. Just sayin'.
So I guess I'll just keep plugging away as single guy cooking on on a family stove, one burner burning, the other three serving as parking places for various pots, pans and whatnot.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Superschadenfreudelistic!

Happiness comes in many forms...

There's watching puppies play happy.
There's having the owner pick up your tab happy.
There's finding a $10 bill in an old pair of jeans happy.
And then there's finding out someone you despise so much that you frequently fantasize...in slow motion...about spin-kicking them into a high-speed turbine was arrested for third degree grand theft the night when they told everyone they were in the hopsital happy.
I only feel bad that I don't feel bad...and I don't feel all that bad about that.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mixed message much?

While doing a search on Google for "night shift" for my previous post, the steamy image you see here popped up. Of course I clicked on it. You know, for research. It's on this page at the home site for The Center for Nursing Advocacy. The organization is apparently no more, but when they were active, I assume their purpose was to speak out on behalf of those employed in the nursing profession and to promote and protect the image and public perception of that industry. It does mention their "effort to shape media portrayals of nursing..." Go to the page and see if you aren't a little confused about what they were trying (or not trying) to say. Although, I think I understand why they shut down.

(PS: I'd especially like to hear from anybody who is a nurse who is or was familiar with this organization. Thanks!)

Working the night shift

If you follow my status updates on Twitter and Facebook (and if not, why not?), you know I have been whining recently about having to work some overnight shifts. I'm still not happy about being used as a hole plugger in the company's schedule, but it turned out to not be all that bad.
  • Biggest drawback: trying to figure out when to sleep, before or after work.
  • Biggest benefit, and an unexpected one at that: hadn't considered the potential for interacting with weirdos!
For example, the night watchman, who is a combination of Seth Rogen (shown here) and Cliff Claven, asked me if I knew what the Don McLean song "American Pie" was about.
"Sure. It's about the plane crash that killed three rock stars..." I said.
"Three SPECIFIC rock stars", he interrupted, "Elvis, Bob Dylan and Billy Holly."
Trying to be polite, and patient, I said, "Well, I'm pretty sure Bob Dylan is still alive...".
He said, "No, remember the part where he says he borrowed a coat from John Lennon? John Lennon, who was in the Beatles, is also dead."
"James Dean," I said.
"Who's that?"
"He was a movie star in the '50s who died young. The line is 'in a coat he borrowed from James Dean'," I said.
"The song is about rock stars, not movie stars" he reminded me.
Trying to simultaneously remain polite, get out out of this conversation and yet remain engaged, I offered, "speaking of songs with references to rock stars, what about 'Garden Party' by Ricky Nelson? That's a good song too."
"Who's that?"
I tried to explain and there was a brief glimmer of recognition when I mentioned the group Nelson, fronted by and named for Ricky's twin sons and he said, "you mean 'MmmBop'?"
I resisted the urge to point out that he might be the most pop-culturally illiterate human being on earth and pretended to have work to do instead (he carries a gun). He went in the other room with a co-worker and they looked up JFK autopsy photos on the internet (after they were unable to find Micheal Jackson autopsy photos), a subject "I've done a LOT of reading on...you know who Sirhan Sirhan is, right? The guy who killed Robert M. Kennedy..."

Friday, July 17, 2009

New blog for you

Please check out the adventures of Tampa Do-Gooder Dawn Elliott (I'm Tampa's Dark Knight but that's not the same thing). She's a genuinely good friend and more importanly, a genuinely good person and is using her blog to highlight causes and opportunities for people to get involved and make positive contributions to society.
I, on the other hand, use mine to sit in the back of the room and make fart noises while watching society consume itself. And to try to meet chicks. In case you needed further help telling us and ours apart.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mold-A-Rama Mania!

Last Sunday, Sean Daly of the St. Petersburg Times wrote an awesome feature article on Mold-A-Rama machines. Click the link to read it and learn about them if you don't already know. For me, as I'm sure it was for many others, it was instant nostalgia and childhood memories. When I was a kid, we used to get them on school field trips to Chicago at the Museum of Science and Industry or Brookfield Zoo. In the story, there's a picture of a t-rex mold and I decided I had to have one. So I sent this message to Mr. Daly: "I loved the Mold-A-Rama story. Where's the machine that makes the t-rex? Must have!" He replied yesterday with "Hey, T-Rex Mold-A-Rama is at MOSI in the gift shop! No life is complete without one." Of course, he's right. Luckily for me, I have friends who not only don't disapprove of my childish whims, but support, indulge and actively participate in them. So off we went to Tampa's own Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).




We stopped at the gift shop which is right inside the front door, asked for the Mold-A-Rama machine and were directed down the hall. What we found was a machine that made space robots, not dinosaurs. We asked another staff member who said there "might" be another in a different gift shop. We made our way there with the thought that our next stop "might" be St. Petersburg to beat up Sean Daly.


No worries, we found it!




Here's the mold that would be producing dino delight $2 and 30 seconds later.



Here's the step-by-step process. The machine is labelled "the magic souvenir maker" but clearly this is pure science at work.


Look! There he is, ready to be scraped off into the retrieval bin.




I now know exactly how Dr. Grant felt in "Jurrassic Park"






Mmmm, so warm for such a cold-blooded creature.





What's better than a t-rex? 20 or 30 of them, obviously! We decided to make more and give them as gifts at a party we were going to later. Much like a duffer's golf game, everything was fine through the first nine. But then...





Uh-oh. That can't be good...




Oh my. Not good. Not good at all. I guess high volume, mass production isn't Mold-A-Rama's strongest suit.




Even though the mission was to acquire dinosaurs, you didn't really think I was going to leave without a robot, did you? Come on. As you can see, this one also had an overflow plastic problem. But it's bonus fun to peel off that hot excess. It's like getting extra whipped cream on a banana split.


Here's the gang at Gino's later that night. Normally, babies at a restaurant will ruin an evening out, but all of our newborns were perfectly behaved.

Here's a video we shot...










Oh good!

Well, the space shuttle finally took off.
A lot of my friends, and mostly everybody who lives here in Florida are very excited. I think it's nice too. But I'm sorry, I'm just not that into the space shuttle.
Dear God, I hope I didn't just start the kind of shitstorm I got the last time I expressed less than 100% enthusiasm for something. If it's any consolation, it's a shortcoming on my behalf, nobody else's. I recognize that it's something I should be more excited about. They're going into space, for crying out loud. That in itself is cool, just from a daredevil standpoint. Also, I'm from the first generation of kids who grew up watching lunar landings. I should be all about galactic exploration! What the hell is wrong with me?
I think it's because nothing ever really happens when they go into space. I don't mean a disaster. I don't want to see anything like that. But we pretty much know they aren't going to encounter any aliens, hostile and armed with laser guns or otherwise, and there aren't any sentient robots wandering around firing off snarky quips like a mechanical Oscar Wilde. I blame Star Wars for raising the bar too high.
Please address all hate mail to George Lucas.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

If the spirit moves you...

Bathroom graffiti is the original Twitter and is as popular today as it was the first time somebody scrawled "what are you looking up here for? The joke is in your hand". You don't need an account. Just a pen or sharp object, some kind of surface to write or draw on and a few minutes of free time, while you're presumably taking care of other business.
I'm not a practitioner myself. For as much as I run my yapper, one place I don't feel the need to express an opinion is in the men's room. But I'll never say never. Who knows when (and what) inspiration may strike?
This picture was taken in the men's room at my neighborhood Sweetbay supermarket (and no, I don't normally make a point of bringing a camera with me into public restrooms, it's just that I happened to have the camera when I went in there and...oh, shut up). Not only did somebody feel the need to gouge "GOD ALMIGHTY" (underlined) into a paper towel dispenser, but somebody also felt the need to testify with an "AMEN!" (underlined) gouged in below. I'm guessing this was a spiritual declaration. Someone's love for the Lord is so powerful that they feel the only way to express is it to deface property in a men's room. Who knows when (and what) inspiration may strike?

I'm not sure why Marcy needs to apologize

Regardless of how you feel about the politics, think about the word used...

...and try to explain to me how she could have used the expression "sucks" 15 times and nobody would have reacted at all, since we all hear people of all ages use that term all the time to describe anything they don't like but when she says "blowjob" one time, in reference to, you know, a blowjob, and suddenly it's an incident that merits apology?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Turn Back The Clock...a little

Saturday night at the Rays game was a special "Turn Back The Clock" promotion, celebrating the 1990s. If you think it might not be easy to stir up a lot of nostalgia for the '90s, you'd be right. For one thing, it wasn't that long ago. Seems like you need a buffer of about 20 years before the warm and fuzzies kick in. Secondly, compared to other decades, the '90s were kind of light on cultural milestones. No Woodstock, no Watergate, no World War (at least in the classic sense). Third, the Devil Rays (as we were known then) were brutally awful until two years ago. But when it comes to history, the '90s (and only two years of it) is as far back as the Rays, Devil or otherwise, go. So they threw on the old uniforms and took on the Oakland A's. Here are some pictures...

It wasn't as strange as I thought it would be to walk in and see the old logo on the Jumbotron. Like I said, it hasn't been that long. Our original logo looked like a drop of oil in a puddle of water and consisted of the spectrum of colors between purple and fluorescent yellow.

Here are a couple of girls in retro '90s fashions. Notice the flannel shirt? That's how you can tell.
This is pre-game entertainment from a dance troupe performing to Kriss Kross's "Jump". Yes, they have their clothes on backwards. Remember Kriss Kross, the little hip-hop kids that wore their clothes backwards? There you go.

Here are the five Rays (Matt Garza, Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford and manager Joe Maddon) that were selected to go to the All Star Game in St. Louis, wearing their retro uniforms. When the team wore these uniforms all the time, if you had this many Tampa Bay players in one place talking about what they would be doing during the All Star Game, they were probably organizing a fishing trip.

When I worked for the team, shadowing Raymond the team mascot as his bodyguard (seriously), cotton candy vendors didn't want to get this close to me. That's because one of Raymond's favorite gags was to attack these guys, steal all their cotton candy and give it to fans. Everybody thought it was hilarious except for the cotton candy vendors who had to pay for it out of their pockets (seriously).

Here's Rays first baseman Carlos Pena looking very happy. I don't know if he'd just gotten the word that he was being added to the All Star team (replacing Boston's Dustin Pedroia) or if he's just delighted that they only have to wear these uniforms once.

This is Ben "Zorilla" Zobrist who has emerged as my favorite player. He plays seven different positions, is hitting .297 with a .414 on base percentage, 17 home runs and 11 stolen bases. He also once hit a six run homer off of Chuck Norris and spends his days off from baseball building hospitals and teaching dogs how to fly.

This is a picture of Rays manager Joe Maddon, not taken during this game.

This is a picture of either Joe Maddon's twin brother or Joe himself filling in as an usher after being ejected from the game for arguing with an umpire.
One of the things I love about baseball: The pace is such that it's possible to maintain a thoroughly detailed and completely accurate chronicle of the game...

...without missing any of the action.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Some people get all the breaks

You know who's got it pretty damn good? Innocent bystanders, that's who. Everybody automatically loves the innocent bystander. Every time some shit goes down and people who weren't involved are killed, the saddest head-shaking is reserved for the IBs (innocent bystanders). No matter what. You could be the biggest dirtbag in the world, but you get cut down in a hail of stray gunfire just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and your status as an IB is cemented forever. Forever! That's all anybody will ever remember about you. Your slate is wiped clean and people you never even met would say your passing was a tragedy. Wouldn't that be sooo nice? You could get killed in a shootout between cops and robbers at a bank you were on your way to rob yourself, except you stopped along the way to return some kiddie porn, pick up an 8 ball of cocaine and run over some kittens and all anybody would say is, "that poor, poor man". Lucky, lucky bastards!
You don't even have to do anything. That's the key component and the most unfair thing I've ever heard of. Eating lunch, picking up milk at a convenience store, generally minding your own business. Whatever. But one shot fired by somebody who is also minding their own business (really, if you think about it, that's what they're doing; nobody invited your dumb ass to participate. You're a bystander. Your job is to stand by) hits you in the temple and just like that, the mayor is offering a moment of silence on your behalf at the next chamber of commerce luncheon.
Man!
What about me? I want some of that sweet action. Do you know how many problems being an IB would solve for me? I can't even list them all but trust me, it's a lot. I think I ever had the opportunity I'd try to help. I can see myself whispering softly to a cracked-out madman waving a gun around wildly, "easy now...breathe...aim and squeeze the trigger, don't pull it...". Because you want him hitting center mass, where your vital organs are. Headshots are tricky and the last thing you want is to be merely wounded and possibly severely disabled. That would suck. That I do NOT want.
Although...they're IBs too, and people love them just as much. Maybe even more. Hell, okay. I'll take wounded. No downside either way. Except the physical pain part. But still. Okay, then. Count me in.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Funny business

Lots of entertainers offer fans the opportunity to sign up to receive emails that provide updates on upcoming shows, merchandise you can buy and just general news.
One of my favorite comedians is Maria Bamford. her most recent email had some info about what she's up to, but had even more about various friends and family members and how they're dealing with the current economy. I found one excerpt, regarding her dad, especially funny and would like to share it here:

"MY DAD EXPERIENCES HOPE DESPITE CYCLE OF CHRONIC UNDEREARNING!
My pop is the proud owner of the website-
www.soapalternatives.com. Over a 7 year period, he has received NO ORDERS for his “No Soap” product despite advertising, constant talk of and prayer without ceasing. As a family, instead of feeling sadness, we have experienced only joy and laughter from this project. There is doing in the not doing. Happening in the not happening. Will you be a part of the change? Will you break the cycle? It’s exciting and yet not exciting! Create your own non-business! Participate in nonparticipation."

In the spirit of supporting one of my favorite entertainers, I would invite you to patronize...or not...her father's business. Either way is good.
In the meantime, here's some Maria Bamford material for you...



Also, her new album "Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome", which includes the complete web series of "The Maria Bamford Show", is available all over the place.

A simple plan

If Do-It-Yourself Pest Control is anything other than some guy sitting behind a counter selling rolled up newspapers, that's a company that needs restructuring.

Well, how else would you eat a fruit cup or yogurt parfait, weirdo?


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Another gem from Clark's Kitchen

Here's another quick, cheap and easy recipe that you can try for breakfast! "Oh Clark, you're so stupid. It's too late to eat breakfast," you say. And I reply that your statement is only half right; it's never too late to eat breakfast. In fact late night breakfast is one of the most enjoyable experiences you will ever have in your entire life. So shut up.
This is an egg dish, like an omelette only not all uppity, that I like to call...

HUEVOS APARTMENTOS (Apartment eggs)

INGREDIENTS

  • Three eggs (chicken, unfertilized)
  • One onion (again, I like the Spanish ones)
  • Cheese (shredded cheddar is best but you can get by with slices of American)
  • Salsa (Newman's Own is awesome but use whatever you like/have)
  • One skillet (You fancy folks can use a frying pan if you want, but you should stop taking yourself so seriously and get a good ol' fashioned skillet)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Spray your skillet with some cooking spray and pre-heat it on "medium high".
  2. Cut up the onion into medium to big pieces while the skillet gets hot. (Man, I do love saying skillet!)
  3. Throw the chopped onions into the skillet. (They might try to resist. "No! Please! Don't cook us!", they'll plead. Don't listen to them. If you're like me, the last thing you need right now is a bunch of screaming onions whose only concern is their own self preservation. You just want to eat. So you tell them, "Be Quiet! It's your job. Go do your damn job!" and toss them right in there. Sure, they'll sizzle but don't let that bother you. You're in charge here and you don't take shit from onions.)
  4. Cook them for a while until they get soft. (That is NOT what she said)
  5. Crack the eggs and dump them right on top of the onions. (Go ahead, this is part of what makes this so easy)
  6. Stir it up. (Stir it all up! Stir like the wind. Stir like you've never stirred before. Stir like nobody is watching. Because in all likelihood, nobody is watching.)
  7. It looks like a mess, doesn't it? (Keep stirring)
  8. It looks like it's not going to cook. (Keep stirring)
  9. Ugh. It's all slimey looking. (Keep stirring)
  10. What's the deal? (Quiet, keep stirring)
  11. This was a bad idea. (Keep stirring)
  12. Maybe you missed a step. (Keep stirring)
  13. No, no you didn't. (Keep stirring)
  14. You did everything perfectly. (Keep stirring)
  15. Was I just messing with you? Maybe I was! (Keep stirring)
  16. What a jerk! (Keep stirring)
  17. Why did you listen to me? (Keep stirring)
  18. What were you thinking?!? (Keep stirring)
  19. This is all just...oh wait! (Keep stirring)
  20. Suddenly it's starting to firm up into scrambled eggs. (Keep stirring)
  21. Yeah. You doubted me. That hurts. (Keep stirring)
  22. Now that you have your scrambled eggs and onions, stop stirring and add the cheese.
  23. Leave it on the heat just long enough for the cheese to start melting. (It will keep melting after you remove it from the heat plus you don't want the eggs on the bottom to burn)
  24. Dish it up on to a plate.
  25. Remember when you bought salsa because your new "thing" was going to be non-fat tortilla chips & salsa because it's a healthier alternative to other snack foods? What did that last, like a weekend before you were back to dipping pork rinds in Marie's Blue Cheese dressing? Well, now's the time to try to make amends to the salsa. Go ahead and spoon some onto the egg/onion/cheese melange (that's French for "hot mess") you just created.

Enjoy!!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

So I caved and watched the Micheal Jackson memorial service

First off, let me establish my credentials, or lack thereof, in regards to how I relate to Micheal Jackson.
  • I own a copy of "Off The Wall".
  • I was amazed by his performance on the Motown special when the moonwalk was unveiled.
  • I never bought "Thriller"; never needed to because everybody else did and I still heard every song over 100 times.
  • I saw "Captain EO"
  • I thought "Bad" was okay.
  • Between the kinda overblown-but-mediocre music and increasingly bizarre behavior, with or without actual convictions, that followed, I kind of tuned out after that and kept up with his exploits almost entirely via jokes.

By 1989 or so, he wasn't someone I could really relate to on any level. I liked him for a long time and then he got too weird for me. I think that lands me real close to smack dab in the middle of average when it comes to opinions on him. So while I wouldn't classify myself as a fan per se, I still recognize that he's my generation's Elvis. There's no debate over who's bigger or better; when it comes to pop cultural impact, it's Elvis, Micheal Jackson, Muhammad Ali and the Beatles (collectively, not as individuals) sitting all alone on the top of the mountain. So I felt like I had to watch.

For the most part, it was very nicely done. Sadly, the aspects that were tacky symbolized showbiz at it's absolute worst. CNN's coverage leading up to the ceremony was clownishly over the top, consisting of pundits topping each other with anecdotes that sounded more Paul Bunyan than Micheal Jackson. Too many people who you just know wouldn't have accepted an invitation to have lunch with Michael Jackson two weeks ago went to great pains to be seen outgrieving each other. And any time Al Sharpton, whose main connection to Micheal Jackson is that "I'll Be There" is the song he sings to himself whenever a media opportunity presents itself, shows up on my television, I feel the need to hose it off with Lysol afterward. But when the whole thing wrapped up with a little girl crying over the loss of her father, surrounded by her aunts and uncles...well, how does someone not relate to that?

I've heard some lame excuses for being late before...

...but how exactly does a chicken club sandwich impede traffic?
Oh.

Monday, July 06, 2009

No thank you

I know this post isn't exactly timely, since the show isn't currently on the air, but recently some friends have been trying to get me to take a sip of the American Idol Kool Aid.
That's not going to happen.
I don't begrudge them for trying to share something they enjoy. But I loathe that show on so many levels that it's just not something I'm ever going to warm up to.
Sorry. I know it's popular and people like what they like for whatever reasons and that's their business. I'm honestly trying to be better about that kind of thing. Live and let live and all that. But their right to like something doesn't cancel out my right to despise it. So I'm just going to air out my thoughts on the whole thing this one time. Then maybe I won't feel the need to make snide comments about it in the future and annoy those...so, so many of those...who are devoted fans :

  • I hate that so many people think that being on American Idol is "IT" now. I heard a young girl singing karaoke recently. 16 years old, and obviously gifted. When she got done singing, the sentiment expressed by everyone in attendance was, "she should audition for American Idol!". Nobody said she should front a band or go to Broadway or study at Julliard. It made me sad because I think of music as so much more than a component of a popularity contest/game show. It's like meeting a teenager who's a wiz at calculus and saying "you should audition for Deal Or No Deal!".
  • I hate that they only feature very pretty people. Nobody who looks like Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, James Brown, Bono or a hundred other legendary artists I could name with no trouble at all would ever get past the first day of tryouts. Sure, it's possible for someone to be attractive and talented but there's never going to be an ugly Idol winner.
  • I hate that at a time when artists should be embracing their freedom and control over their careers, there are still talented people (note: I have never said, and never will say that the people on American Idol are not talented) who are willing to dive headfirst into what amounts to artistic slavery. This is an actual excerpt from the standard contract that all American Idol finalists are required to sign: "I hereby grant the Producer the unconditional right throughout the universe in perpetuity to use, simulate, or portray my name, likeness, voice, singing voice, personality, personal identification or personal experiences, my life story, biographical data, incidents, situations, events which heretofore occurred or hereafter occur...". You don't have to be a lawyer to figure out that American Idol literally owns these people. Forever. Here's another beauty: "Other parties...may reveal and/or relate information about me of personal, private, intimate, surprising, defamatory, disparaging, embarrassing or unfavorable nature that may be factual and/or fictional." That means that not only do they own the Idols, they own the right to make up shit about them if it suits their needs. Never touched a drug in your life? Well, if it helps to ring the register, you're now a recovering heroin addict. Or gay. Or not. This contract ensures that American Idol finalists are treated slightly better than racing dogs, but not quite as well as thoroughbred horses.
  • I hate that people subject themselves to this for a shot at stardom that has a shelf life of about a year, if they're lucky. Honestly, with a couple of exceptions, what 'stars' have emerged from American Idol? Yes, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and a few others have "made it". But for the most part, the contestants are disposable commodities that are famous for exactly the one season they're on the show. After that, POOF, they expire and disappear.
  • I hate the music. It's all buffed and polished to a high shine, freeze-dried, high-end karaoke. Not a rough edge to be found anywhere. Very pretty and completely non-toxic, just like the performers. Sorry, but I like the occasional dropped note, a beat missed here or there, a voice cracking in pursuit of a note. Those kinds of flaws and imperfections spell certain doom for an Idol contender. If I want to watch skilled performers competing by executing flawless routines, I'll watch gymnastics. If I want music, give me somebody who stands on stage knowing they won't be sent home in shame if they break a guitar string.
  • Lastly, I hate that people don't turn off their televisions and go out once in a while. Right around the corner from where you live, you can go to a place tonight with other human beings and see a talented young performer who probably plays an instrument and (GASP!) writes their own original material. I simply can't understand anybody who truly loves music who wouldn't rather experience that than sit at home and vote for the prettiest puppet.

There, I'm done. And I feel better for it. Thanks.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

I know some of you don't read this blog every day. I get it. It's a hectic world, there's a lot of information to absorb, keeping up with some stupid, purple blog isn't necessarily going to always get the highest priority. Heck, I know that just with all the Micheal Jackson stuff going on, lots of things might be slipping through the cracks. So I understand if you don't happen to read this post before the holiday. My hope is just that by the time you DO read it, whenever that is, that while we will may lose a few fingers, toes, eyeballs and whatnot to unpleasant explosions over the weekend, all 50 of our states are still intact.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Um, hurray?

Say what you will about the economy, the weather, the Iran elections, the war in Iraq, the North Korean situation or the recent spate of celebrity deaths, if you're someone who subscribes to the whole "spare the rod..." philosophy of raising children, this has been a good couple of weeks for you. First, after some years out of the limelight, the legendarily twisted Papa Joe Jackson is back, once again peddling his own home-brewed brand of parental scumbaggery. And just today, former Hillsborough County Commissioner and former professional wrestler (I don't care what you go on to do with your life later, if you have ever been a professional wrestler, you will be identified as such for eternity) Brian Blair had charges of domestic abuse dropped against him.
As you may remember, Blair was arrested after an altercation with his two teenage sons early Father's Day morning. However, today Assistant State Attorney Rita Peters characterized what happened between Blair, 52, and his 17-year-old son, Brett, as "discipline" and dismissed all charges.

Corporal punishment is legal in Florida. In case you're wondering, here's basically how that works:
  • You are a supervisor on a job. You reprimand an adult subordinate for being late. He responds angrily, telling you not to disrespect him in front of his co-workers. You punch him in the face. You have committed assault.
  • You are the head of a household. You reprimand one of your minor kids for being late. He responds angrily, telling you not to disrespect him in front of his friends. You punch him in the face. You are a mentor (you might want to consider being a Caucasian, just to play it safe).

One of the saddest things about this situation is now that charges have been dropped, people of a certain political orientation will point to it as a victory for the conservative Blair over a biased left-wing media, as though this is some kind of happy ending. Which I guess you can say it is, if you're willing to ignore the fact that this family obviously has some very serious problems. The next time there's a disagreement over curfew times that elevates to a fistfight, are the cops supposed to ignore that call? Considering Blair's fondness for lawsuits, they might. I mean, they haven't been sued for this yet, but it's still early.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I'm counting my blessings...so I'll know if I'm missing one

The laziest missionaries in the world live in my neighborhood. They don't even knock on my door, they just leave flyers and stuff on my doorstep. Is there a doctrine that preaches "Go forth and litter"? I guess they assume I'm not home during the day time, because most people aren't. Still, why would somebody go to all the trouble of getting dressed in nice black slacks, a short-sleeved white shirt, black tie and bike helmet if they can't even be bothered to knock on doors? Haven't they ever heard of the expression "missionary zeal"? How much zeal does it take to knock on a door, guys?
Anyway, this is their latest delivery. It's some kind of three-day church gathering that features what looks like Alec Baldwin from the future. Apparently, he is going to be blessing people and if I don't go, some joker might steal mine. I'm not sure what to make of this. I'm not the world's foremost biblical scholar, but I don't think it's even possible to steal a blessing. I kind of thought that blessings are like monogrammed tea cozies in that they're designed to be given to someone very specific. When somebody sneezes in a crowded room and I bless them, I'm directing that blessing to them, not every jamoke within earshot. They're on their own. I mean, I don't wish them any ill will; if they sneeze, I'll bless them too. Unless everybody starts sneezing and then it's like, "oh ha-ha, obviously some people crave attention" or "oh shit, obviously I've wandered into an infirmary", in either case I would leave immediately. Of course, I suppose you could have a mass blessing, in which case it's like chicken fried steak at a Golden Corral buffet; no need to hoard, there's plenty for everyone. And if they run out, they'll make more. Take it easy, big fella.
But if it is possible for someone to steal my blessing, do I want to attend an event that's liable to be infiltrated by the kind of people who would do such a thing? Who's to say that if I'm present to receive the blessing that some thug doesn't jump me in the parking lot to take it from me anyway? I mean, these are people who steal blessings. Can we put anything past them? And what's with making that the primary focus? If some nightclub in Ybor distributed a card like this (actually, the nightclubs in Ybor do distribute cards that are pretty similar to this), they probably wouldn't lead with something like "DON'T GET SHOT!" or "DON'T HOOK UP WITH SOMEONE WHO WILL GIVE YOU CHLAMYDIA!". Sure, those things are likely to happen, but that's not what you want to lead with.
So I don't know if I'm going to this or not. I'm sorta leaning towards not. If you go, will you grab my blessing for me?