Monday, August 31, 2009

Then there's this guy...

"Hey! What are you doing?"
Oh, I'm taking a picture of that billboard so I can put it up on the internet and make fun of it.
"Oh, you takin' pictures, huh? Why don't you take my picture? Put me up on the internet."
Okay.
So here he is, the guy who sells dresses at the corner of North Boulevard and Columbus, right in front of the King Grocery. He takes Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.

Well, la-di-freakin'-da!

Ooh, everybody look at who makes all kinds of money lawyerin'! He's got himself a cell phone! Not some stupid old regular phone that any jerk in a tee shirt would have, but a cell phone. And you can even call him on it! I'll bet he talks on it in his car. Or when he's eating food. For dinner. In the building he lives in, with walls and a roof. Where he wears clothes. And watches programs on a television.
Yes indeed, it looks like somebody with a high-falutin' billboard and a cell phone is doing pretty well for himself.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hey, you remind me of someone...

Do you know somebody who kind of looks like other people? I don't mean one person who looks exactly like a certain other person. I mean somebody who kinda looks like several other people. Apparently, some think Rays rookie pitcher Jeff Niemann is one of these people. Hmm, I don't know. I see some resemblance in some cases but I'm not entirely sold. Judge for yourself...




Niemann and NBA legend Larry Bird

Niemann and actor Jeff Daniels


Niemann and Alf

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thumbs up: Lightning to raise funds for family of Mike Roberts

Heaven knows I've complained long and loud about the Lightning when they've done something stupid, wrong, ugly and/or stupid. Considering who's "in charge" over there, I'm sad to say that's probably going to continue. But fair is fair and when they do something right, I feel obligated to point it out. Especially if doing so also helps the cause in any way.


FAN FEST 2009 CHARITY GAME
Proceeds from Game to Go to the Family of Cpl. Mike Roberts

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced the rosters for the charity hockey game to benefit the Corporal Mike Roberts Memorial Fund being held from 5-6 p.m. during Lightning Fan Fest 2009, presented by the Embassy Suites Downtown, on Saturday, August 29 at the St. Pete Times Forum. Fan Fest runs from 3-8 p.m.

Team Navy will consist of current Lightning players Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Jeff Halpern and Andrej Meszaros along with assistant coach Wes Walz and alumnus Stan Neckar. Joining them will be Michael Hutner, Frank Ruedy, Tommy Mayer and Mark Cholnik of the Tampa Police Department.

Team White will feature Tampa Bay players Ryan Malone, Adam Hall, Mattias Ohlund, Victor Hedman and Matt Walker along with alumni Dave Andreychuk , Chris Dingman, Brian Bradley and Pat Jablonski. Tampa Police officers Evan Trefcer, Braxton Baird, Michael Palmieri and Bob Barrett will also play for Team White. Lightning locker room staff will fill out the remainder of the rosters.

Lightning founder Phil Esposito (Team White) as well as 620 WDAE radio personality Ian Beckles (Team Navy) will serve as celebrity coaches. Television play-by-play announcer Rick Peckham and television host Paul Kennedy will be on the benches interviewing players during the game. All players will wear Cpl. Roberts’ no. 12 for the game.

During the game each Lightning player’s or alumnus’ jersey worn on the ice will be available for auction on the concourse behind section 101. Each player will autograph his jersey following the game and personally present it to the respective auction winner. There will also be a memorabilia auction behind sections 101-130. Proceeds from both will go toward the Cpl. Mike Roberts Memorial Fund. Fans will also be able to make cash contributions via numerous donation locations throughout the St. Pete Times Forum.

Cpl. Roberts was killed in the line of duty in Tampa last Wednesday, August 19 during a confrontation with a heavily armed man. Cpl. Roberts had received 33 commendations and awards for his actions over the years. He leaves behind a wife, Cynthia, and a 3-year-old son, Adam.

Lightning Fan Fest 2009, presented by the Embassy Suites Downtown, is free and open to the public. The event features youth clinics, fan activities, public skating, the first chance for fans to purchase single game tickets, food and drink discounts and more.

For complete details regarding Fan Fest 2009 visit
www.tampabaylightning.com.


Charity Game Rosters

Team Navy
Martin St. Louis (Lightning Forward)
Steven Stamkos (Lightning Forward)
Jeff Halpern (Lightning Forward)
Andrej Meszaros (Lightning Defenseman)
Stan Neckar (Lightning Alumni)
Wes Walz (Lightning Assistant Coach)
Ray Thill (Lightning Head Equipment Manager)
Rob “Bubba” Kennedy (Lightning Assistant Equipment Manager)
Clay Roffer (Lightning Assistant Equipment Manager)
Michael Hutner (Tampa Police Department)
Frank Ruedy (Tampa Police Department)
Tommy Mayer (Tampa Police Department)
Mark Cholnik (Tampa Police Department)
(G) John Finnie (Brandon Ice Sports Forum)

Coach – Ian Beckles (620 WDAE Radio Personality)

Team White
Ryan Malone (Lightning Forward)
Adam Hall (Lightning Forward)
Mattias Ohlund (Lightning Defenseman)
Victor Hedman (Lightning Defenseman)
Matt Walker (Lightning Defenseman)
Dave Andreychuk (Lightning Alumni)
Chris Dingman (Lightning Alumni)
Brian Bradley (Lightning Alumni)
Nigel Kirwan (Lightning Video Coach)
Tom Mulligan (Lightning Head Athletic Trainer)
Evan Trefcer (Tampa Police Department)
Braxton Baird (Tampa Police Department)
Michael Palmieri (Tampa Police Department)
Bob Barrett (Tampa Police Department)
(G) Pat Jablonski (Lightning Alumni)

Coach – Phil Esposito (Hockey Hall-of-Famer)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Vote! Because pretty ladies everywhere say so

Creative Loafing's annual "Best of the Bay" poll/competition is wrapping up soon. Voting ends on August 31st. This is the last time I'll solicit your votes for Best Blog. If you've already voted, THANKS!!! If you haven't yet, here are three more reasons why you should vote for this blog...
  • A vote for this blog is a vote against blogs that don't write about cupcakes. You like cupcakes, don't you? I bet you want some right now. I know I do. So vote...and think about the cupcakes (and I don't mean Catherine Durkin Robinson).
  • Maybe you've always wanted to vote in a real election but were always afraid that your ill-informed opinions on serious issues could have a devastating effect on people everywhere. That's a valid concern for some of you and I applaud your choice to abstain from participating in the democratic process because of it. The good news is that this election is made for you! The issues aren't serious and frankly, as far as I'm concerned, the less informed you are the better!
  • Finally, I'd like to point out that this blog is purple. It's comprised mainly of three ingredients: Sugar, water and of course...purple.

And I thank you for your support.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mmm, yummy!

This is a "food" item I came across the other day that I'd like to share with you. Behold Mrs. Freshley's Race Cups! At least I think that's what they are...there is no mention of Race Cups at the Mrs. Freshley's official web site. That's a little odd. I mean, no offense to Mrs. Freshley or the people who work for her (you know, I'll bet there isn't even a real Mrs. Freshley!), but let's be honest; what we're talking about here are knock-offs of products from Hostess, the McDonald's of baked goods. That isn't setting the bar very high. Is somebody knocking-off a knock-off? That's setting the bar on the ground and walking over it. There's a lot to suggest that this might be a bootleg product:
  • Let's start with the name. "Race Cups". what does that even mean? I mean, I know it doesn't have to do with race relations. I figured out from the junior high art project-esque graphics of the stock car and the slanted letters with motion lines on the package that eating these cupcakes is somehow similar to the excitement associated with the NASCAR experience. But how? Cups are trophies. Is that what they mean? They don't look like trophies. They look like cupcakes (Hostess cupcakes, to be exact) I don't want to eat a trophy. When I eat cupcakes, it's the cake I'm focused on, not the cup.
  • Maybe they mean these will race through your digestive system. The use of stock car racing imagery in the packaging is just a coincidence. Or a cruel inside joke (note the number on the car...).
  • Look at the price: .25 for two cupcakes! When was the last time you paid .25 for even one food item that wasn't wrapped in a Bazooka Joe comic?

I sure would like to know what the deal is with these things. Aside from the fact that they were delicious. I figured that out on my own.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Photos from the beach getaway

I've lived on the Gulf Coast of Florida for well over 20 years now and I hardly ever go to the beach. I know how crazy that sounds. Frankly, visiting the beaches in the Tampa Bay area (St. Pete & Clearwater; Tampa isn't on the Gulf and really doesn't have any beaches to speak of) is something of a hassle. Traffic, crowds, noise, mess...all the things you're trying to get away from are all right there in concentrated form. In Nokomis, near Venice, you don't have those problems. No huge condos, no loud, obnoxious crowds. It's like what I presume Florida was like in the '50s or '60s, before the real estate holes and the short-sighted tourist development prospectors got their hands on it. And you get the impression from talking to the locals that they know how good they have it and have decided to keep their mouths shut in an effort to keep it that way. With that in mind, never, ever go there. It sucks. You'll hate it.


Late afternoon at Casperson Beach




The Island House Motel, where we stayed.



Our vehicle parked next to what I dubbed The Over-Compensationmobile

Entrance to Woody's River Roo. This is actually in Ellenton, along the Manatee River. Great music, great food.

Colorful rental bikes at Casperson Beach

There's something about watching animals just do their natural thing that I find endlessly entertaining. I think I got that from my grandfather. This little bird (somebody told me it's a tern) cracked me up. "Yeah, I know I'm the size of a parakeet. So what? I'm hungry and I'm going to the edge of the Gulf of Mexico and getting some dinner. Why the Gulf of Mexico? Because I don't live near a bigger body of water, that's why. Bitches."

This is a device we used for finding sharks teeth. The beaches near Venice are LOADED with sharks teeth and we found quite a few:
The big piece on the far right might be a piece of a dinosaur bone, possibly either a Mastodon or a Wooly Mammoth. The quarter is from the Philadelphia mint.

Speaking of prehistoric artifacts, check out this old-school placemat we found at the Lucky Family Clock restaurant (or whatever it's called). They don't make 'em like this anymore.

The entrance to Pop's. Our bartender George was an extremely gracious host. Maybe too gracious for my own good. Thankfully, my companions are 100% trustworthy and I was in good hands.

The intracoastal outside of Pops at dusk.

Not a lot of idiots here yet, but there's signage waiting for them when they get here. Yes, knowing how to swim before you get in the water is a good idea.

It's turtle business, it's turtle business time...

Ah, much better!

The phone woke me up Saturday morning with an offer I couldn't refuse: a quick getaway to a sleepy little beach village near Venice called Nokomis (about an hour and a half south of Tampa). I had been looking for something to disconnect me from life's annoyances that I feared were turning me into a very cranky boy lately and I thought this would be perfect.
And it was. I feel much, much more relaxed.
We didn't do much; stayed at the beach, looked for, and found, sharks teeth, watched the Rays game at an outstanding beach bar called Pop's (where I overindulged a tad) and shot this video:



Moral of the story: A little time away from everything, even if you don't go that far, is good for you.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Only in America...well, maybe only in South Tampa


Bayshore Boulevard is too bumpy...

"J.T. Tapias changed several flat tires along the road, courtesy of the uneven pavement. Eventually, he traded his sports car in for a Cadillac Escalade."

I'm certainly not jealous, but I wish the problems in my life were such that trading my sports car for an Escalade would be seen as some kind of sacrifice.
Okay, I'm jealous.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A short conversation about making it big

"You know, some day soon, I hope you break through and become a big star. I'd be so thrilled if that happened."

"Why, thank you! I work really hard and I've gotten better at my craft. I think that if I keep at it, one of these days..."

"There's big money to be made on betting on the deaths of celebrities these days. Huge paydays. I could really stand to cash in on some of that sweet, sweet action."

"..."

"Well, come on. I've seen you eat..."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

In memory of Cpl Mike Roberts

Corporal Mike Roberts, an 11-year member of the Tampa Police Department, was shot and killed around 10 p.m. Wednesday night. He was 38 years old, and is survived by his wife and a 3-year-old son.God bless him and his family. Heaven help the rest of us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rays baseball; it's delicious!

The Rays are running a couple of performance-based promotions that pay off in food for fans. Last night's 5-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles was a Daily Double...
  • Dunkin' Donuts - Any time the Rays win, fans can go to the local Dunkin' Donuts and collect a free donut with the purchase of any beverage. You don't even have to have attended a game or anything. Just show up after they win, buy a cup of coffee and claim your donut. The Rays have won 64 games so far this year. Man, that's a lot of donuts.
  • Kane's Furniture & Papa John's Pizza - When Rays pitchers combine for 10 or more strikeouts, Rays fans can take their ticket to Kane's Furniture and redeem it for a voucher for a free pizza from Papa John's. I don't know how often this has happened this year, but it's not an infrequent occurrence. As someone with a marketing background, I love this one because it drives actual foot traffic into two different sponsors' locations. I don't think the salesmen at Kane's are thrilled about it though. When you walk in, they're waiting to meet you but they become noticeably less friendly when they find out you're there for the pizza voucher. I guess I can't blame them; as salesmen who work on commission, dealing with people who aren't even going to glance at the new line of sleeper-sofas is not high on their priority list. As a result, I feel a little guilty when I go in there to get my voucher. Sometimes I pretend to be interested in end tables for a few minutes. then I feel even more guilty because I've actually wasted their time. I shouldn't have to feel bad at all though. I earned the pizza. Well, I didn't actually do anything. David Price, Lance Cormier, Grant Balfour and JP Howell got the 10 strikeouts. I just happened to be there. But hey, I didn't set the low eligibility standards. I just want my pizza, sausage, extra cheese, mushrooms and green peppers, hold the guilt please.

And tonight they're doing .50 hot dogs! At this point, I may stop grocery shopping and just go to baseball games.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Does anybody really know what time it is? (not a rhetorical question)

I love Halloween at least as much, if not more than, most people but...
Come on! It's August, people!! Mid-August at that. The Nationals haven't even been mathematically eliminated from the pennant race yet. I would say that this means Christmas stuff is going to show up in stores NEXT week, except I'm sure it's already out in some places.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I may already be a winner!

The on-line bid for validation and popularity rages on, but Creative Loafing says this blog already deserves to win "something".
I don't care what anyone says, that's practically an endorsement. That's almost just as good as actually winning!
But not quite.
That's where you come in. I need you to vote, vote, vote and then vote some more. Open several Gmail or Yahoo email accounts and vote from every one of them. Tell your friends. Tell your pets. Tell strangers. Tell strangers' pets. Pet strangers. Whatever it takes. My old friend Jamie Lenardson, whom I haven't seen or spoke to in 25 years voted and he doesn't even live here! So what's your story, morning glory?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bon Yoyage, Junior or How I found myself in a strip club Saturday night

A long, long time ago when I was getting ready to leave for my tour of duty in the Army, all I wanted to do was go over to Chicago for a couple of days and see a ballgame or two. However, at the last minute my best friend at the time pussed out (sorry, but that's really the only way to describe how that went down) and I didn't get a wild, blowout weekend.
The son of a friend of mine (we'll call him Junior) has enlisted in the Navy and leaves for basic training this week. He wanted to spend one more night on the town so a bunch of his friends got together Saturday night. Wanting to wish him a fond farewell as well as being sympathetic to Junior's wish, I offered my services as a designated driver.

The evening started with a little get-together of family and friends before turning into a pub crawl that included a visit to the lounge at the Hyatt, site of the annual Fetishcon. We went there not to gawk at the revelers but rather to enjoy the ambiance of the establishment's...okay, we went to gawk. We're repressed Americans. It's what we do.

While we were there, one of Junior's buddies (we'll call him Greg) pulled me aside and said, "you know, Peter (the other buddy) has never been to a strip club before, and we were wondering...". After a brief negotiation of terms, all of which had to do with things that could result in Junior's mom getting mad at me, I agreed to accompany them to a strip club.

Now, I am not a fan of these places. I know they're kind of in vogue right now as some sort of anti-politically correct, backlash statement but I just don't like them. To me, they just seem like very lonely, desperate and sad places, not to mention terribly expensive. Here's how I would describe a visit to a typical strip club to someone who's never been: Imagine going to a theme park where it costs $15 to get in, which isn't bad, but every ride inside costs from $20 to $60 each to get on. And then, you're not doing anything but sitting in the car for a few minutes. To actually ride, the price starts at $200 and goes up. Imagine going to Disney World where a ride on Space Mountain costs between $200 to $500 and could give you chlamydia, while at the same time Donald Duck is walking around squawking at you to purchase at least one drink or he'll throw your ass out. Another way strip clubs are like theme parks is that they'll sell you a tee shirt which you'll probably only want to wear while you're right there.

So we went to the 2001 Odyssey Lounge, Tampa's second most famous but "BEST ALL AROUND" (if the club's marquee is to be believed) strip club. I told the boys we would be there for exactly one hour. We got there at 2:10AM and they could have all the fun they could handle between then and 3:10AM. They explored while I anchored a spot along the wall near the DJ booth. Several dancers approached me, offering to provide various services but I explained that I was not there to "party". There was a little bit of back-and-forth, but I enjoy bantering with pretty, scantily clad (if at all) girls:

"I'm sorry, you're a lovely woman and I'm sure you're quite skilled at what you do, but I'm just here to monitor the health and safety of these three young men."
"Oh, are you a doctor?"
"...sure."

Overall, they understood my role and function and left me alone. They're professionals and so am I. No sense in wasting each others time.

While I can't divulge specific activities out of respect for individual privacy, I can say we left exactly when we said we would, without anyone getting into any kind of trouble or completely draining their bank account, which qualifies this as the most successful visit to one of these places I've ever had.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Baby, I'm a star!

Q: On what web site would you find out what Quentin Tarantino is working on, how many movies Tom Hanks has been in, a complete list of all the films Steven Spielberg has made and me?
A: The IMDB!


A couple of years ago, my dear friend Renee Warmack decided she wanted to make a film. She had no experience as a filmmaker. She just decided that she had a story to tell and making a film was the best way to do that. That film, "Ten at the Top in Tampa Bay", premiered on television, has been featured in several film festivals and is now listed on the Internet Movie Database, right there with "The Godfather", "Citizen Kane" and the entire "Police Academy" oeuvre. And as a result, so am I, coattails-rider that I am! I should probably send an email to Ron Howard and David Mamet letting them know...

Seriously, helping make "Ten at the Top..." was truly one of the greatest opportunities of my life. Not only did I get to work with Renee and see her vision come to life in the form of something positive and uplifting, I also got to work with my other non-biological sister Kelly Hickman. I was, and remain, humbled by the whole experience.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go Google my high school guidance counsellor; Somebody needs to know that they suck.

"Salt & Cherries (MC5)" - The Mash Up

I've been ranting and raving for a while now about how I believe that the musicians and artists who aren't afraid to embrace social networking, put themselves out there and really mix it up a little bit with their audiences are going to be the ones who stand to benefit the most from whatever eventually falls out from what's happening in the music industry.
A great example of doing just that is this video for Wendy & Lisa's "Salt & Cherries". They asked fans to shoot video of themselves, send it in and this is the result...


They're all over Twitter and MySpace and Facebook and the good ol' fashioned interwebs. Check them out, make friends and buy their new album!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Lullaby of Failed Broadway

By popular demand (well, one person asked about it; that's enough to make her popular with me) and for the benefit of those who didn't already see these on Twitter or Facebook, here are the "Failed Broadway Show Titles" that I threw out there over the last day or so. For the rest of you, please enjoy this special encore presentation...




  • “The PVC Petting Zoo”

  • “Ocala!”

  • “A Streetcar Named Meh“

  • “How To Succeed In Business By Applying Yourself And Working Nights And Weekends”

  • “Who's Afraid Of The Virginia Slims Tennis Tour?”

  • “Arsenic And Old Lays Potato Chips”

  • “Forever Argyle”

  • “Damn Padres!”

  • “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To the Forum: The Oren Koules Story”

  • “My Fair To Middlin' Lady”

  • “The Chicken ala King And I”

  • “Se7en Brides For Brad Pitt And Morgan Freeman”

  • “Brigadunebuggy”

  • “West Side Story 2”

  • "Phantom Of The Omelet"

  • "Das Showboot"

  • "The Religious Fanasticks"

  • "The National Chain Of Discount Department Stores Of Horrors"

  • "Guys And Guys Who Dress Like Dolls"

Thank God for Michael Crose & Larry Halstead!

Who?
I'll tell you who.
I was catching up on Facebook status updates late Wednesday night and I came across local radio talk show host Tedd Webb's, where he made some comment about The Debacle (I can't use the words "Health Care Debate" anymore without making my left eye twitch uncontrollably) and for some reason, I don't know why, I read all the replies. Tedd is an outspoken conservative with a huge following (note: I need to state for the record that I do like him, in spite of the fact that I disagree strongly with most of his political views. I believe he is a good and honest man and he has done a lot for the local community over the years, which frankly, is good enough for me. And that's why he's a friend on Facebook) so you can probably guess that most conveyed a sentiment along the lines of...well, don't guess. Here are some samples:
  • "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge (Dunning-/Kruger effect) Lots of folks just have confidence in that Obamacare Plan."

  • "Too many on the left are still wearing those rose colored glasses..."

  • "Those of us who have fought to protect our freedoms do not take this issue lightly. Keep fighting the good fight."

  • "They would rather trust Obama than actually read (the bill)".
...and then I found this from somebody named Micheal Crose:
  • "Wow, this is becoming a bit perplexing. Here is what I want. I want everyone to be able to buy affordable health insurance. That does not exist now. If the Republicans have a plan, I want to hear it. I do NOT want the government to take over healthcare. The Republicans have been in charge and have done nothing. I AM A REPUBLICAN! I want my party to do something and they have not. Until 1995 in Florida anyone could buy good health insurance during open enrollment. The insurance lobbyist got that changed. Now you can only buy shit insurance that covers little for a bunch of money....I am here and ready to listen to a better way. Anyone have one?"

Wow! Right? Then he posted this:
  • "For years I had a policy with what became United Healthcare. So did my best friend. When I started I paid $350.00 a month for a family plan. Over the years the price kept going up and the benefits kept going down until 1995 when we were paying about $800.00 a month for the plan. During this whole time the insurance companies in Florida were not losing money, they were making it. After the law changed they fired us as clients. It in my opinion (that it) is the governments job to get involved when business puts the screws to the people. I do not want a take over but a little regulation would be nice. Again, any ideas?"

After that, the Teddheads were quieter and a man named Larry Halstead piped up with this:

  • "Without some kind of health insurance reform, we can all look at premiums going over $1500 per month in just a few years. Who can afford that? We need reform. If you don't like what Congress is proposing, propose something better. Yelling, screaming and cursing "don't touch my health plan" won't cut it. Offer a better alternative now, when everything is in the discussion stage."
After that, a couple of shorter replies (from liberals and conservatives) but the fire was pretty much out.

Now, I could be reading too much into this but it seemed to me like a couple of reasonable people who acknowledge that there is a problem that needs to be solved finally got a chance to stand up and say something and everyone else settled the fuck down! I may have actually done a few bars of the Hallelujah Chorus at that moment. It's a little disappointing that reasonable, intelligent discussion didn't ensue on the spot, but I'll still take this is as a positive and a sign of hope for the future. I was ready to concede that people like that were extinct in America and had given up looking for them. I will sleep better in the future knowing I was wrong.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hmm...

Is it possible that at least some of the people we like to follow in the media that we think are really telling it like it is might just be telling us what we want to hear? I don't need to know their names or what channel they're on but is there somebody on tv or the radio with whom you agree almost (if not) 100% of the time, who says the kinds of things you like to hear in the way you like to hear them? If so, has there ever been anybody in your life who has really cared about you, parents, friends, lovers, etc. that you can say that about? And if that's so, did/do they talk to you in eight-to-ten minute segments, interrupted by commercials for cell phones and headache remedies?

I know we're not doing a whole lot of consideration these days. It's just something to think about.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Safe & secure

If I've ever given a reason to think that the powers-that-be at my job don't really care that much about the staff, let me state for the record that nothing could be further from the truth. Check out the new, enhanced security measures:
We weren't provided instructions on whether we are supposed to use this against those who seek to do us harm or on ourselves, but it's probably equally effective either way.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A short conversation about birds

"Hey, if you could be any animal, what would you be?"

"The only reason you're asking me that is because you want to tell me what kind of animal you want to be. So why don't you just tell me."

"Don't say that. That's not true. I'm asking because I want to know. I like to learn new things about you and understand how you think."

"Seriously?"

"Yes! I sincerely want to know."

"Well, I've always kind of identified with..."

"I would be a bird!"

"..."

"I don't know what breed specifically, but definitely a bird."

"(sigh) That's understandable. Man's desire to escape the shackles of gravity is as old as..."

"I would poop everywhere!"

"So...what excites you about having the ability to soar through the heavens would be..."

"Everywhere, you understand? I mean on things way up high so that when somebody looks out the window of their penthous, they'd say, 'eww, there's poop way up here on my veranda! Why?!?' So awesome! Or just flying around and letting it drop wherever, whenever, on people walking down the street. People just minding their own business, enjoying some fresh air, feeling good about getting some exercise, thinking about what they're going to have for lunch or on their way to an important meeting. Then all of a sudden, SPLAT! There's my poop! Now their day is ruined for no good reason at all. Sure, they would be mad but what can they do? I'm a bird, man. It's nature. And even if they wanted to do something about it, I'd be miles away before it lands. They wouldn't even know it was me. Except I'd probably want to circle back to see the reaction. I think I would eat lots of colorful berries and stuff too. Think about that."

"I think I'd like to be some kind of animal that kills birds."

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Hot water music

This morning, I woke up at 5:00AM to what sounded like a very heavy rainstorm outside. Except, once I sat up, I realized that the noise was coming from inside the apartment and not outside. The rest of the cobwebs burned off pretty quickly as I realized this was not a good development. I went into the hallway where the noise was coming from and found wet carpet and water spraying inside the closet where the water heater lives. I couldn't figure out how to turn off the water so I called the apartment complex's phone number, knowing I would get a recording. Sure, enough I got the world's longest recording, instructing me twice to leave my name, apartment number, description of the problem and a phone number.

Now, I don't live in a 5-star apartment complex by anybody's definition. I wouldn't go so far as to call it "ghetto", but it's an older complex (we actually have a racquetball court and I don't believe a human being has set foot in it since 1987), and I think everybody in Tampa has lived here at least once. Although, I did get robbed here once, there always seems to be guys walking around with their shirts off and I frequently encounter oddballs in the laundry room....okay, it's kinda ghetto. So when I called, I was pretty sure that I was about to spend a big chunk of my Sunday morning sitting on soggy carpet and trying to catch as much water ricocheting off the closet wall into a bucket as possible. I mean, we're talking about 5:00AM on a Sunday. There are people I like who I wouldn't pick up the phone for on a Sunday morning at that hour. However, I got a call back within five minutes of leaving the message and within 15, a maintenance man was in my apartment, turning off the water.


A side note: even if you're expecting someone, hearing your doorbell ring at 5:15AM is really kind of unsettling.


So he stopped the leak, told me the water heater was shot and they'd be back around 9:30 to replace it. I told him that was fine. I'd be gone but they could let themselves in. the cats had all hidden in the bedroom when they heard the doorbell, which is their standard operating procedure any time it rings, so i just shut the door and knew they'd be fine.


Anytime there's work that has to be done in the apartment, the cats get locked in my bedroom until it's done. I think the cats are in there the whole time thinking they now understand what Anne Frank went through. And yes, I do believe my cats are capable of knowing and understanding who Anne Frank is while simultaneously lacking the ability to form reasonable comparisons in order to show empathy. They're smart but self-absorbed, like all cats, is what I'm saying. When they get out, they act like they're in a new house. "Oh, a couch. We had one like it at our old home. Quite similar. Is this where you keep the food? Hmm, okay. And what's this room over here? Seems familiar somehow..."


Anyway, I was really impressed. I wouldn't expect service like that in a new, upscale apartment setting. I need to get that guy some tickets to a game or something and I will. The strangest thing about the whole episode is this is the second time in about six months that I've had my water heater fail like this. That's a picture of the latest one above, literally kicked to the curb. It makes me wonder if I'm somehow using hot water incorrectly. Is that even possible?

Friday, August 07, 2009

Okay, time to lighten up

Grrr! Too much anger and sadness in the last few posts. Getting a little monotonous. Need to shake it off and re-adjust attitude and perspective.

So look what I found...

I stole this from found this at "It's Free To F", a blog authored by the mysterious MGRAND. She has lots of cool things there.

Video from yesterday's town hall meeting

Let me know if you hear ANYBODY even mention the words "health" or "care" in this clip.

"… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses" -- (Juvenal, Satire 10.77–81)

Sometimes, critics really are just dicks

"One time early in my career, I got into a fight with a New York writer, this real skinny cat, a real sidewinder. He said, 'I'll tell you a secret, Prince. Writers write for other writers, and a lot of time it's more fun to be nasty.'" --Prince, in Rolling Stone, 1985

That quote has always stuck with me for some reason. I don't think it's true all the time and I don't think it applies to all writers. At least I hope not. But I see examples of it often enough to remind me that it's not invalid. I don't know how else to explain this...

Filmmaker John Hughes, the man responsible for "The Breakfast Club" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" among many, many others died yesterday at the age of 59. If you were an angst-ridden teenager (as if there's any other kind) in the '80s, he was your Walt Disney.

Under the incredibly insensitive headline "John Hughes is dead. Get used to it, Gen-Whiners", St. Pete Times film critic Steve Persall chose Hughes's death as the appropriate occasion to denounce him, his work and the people who enjoyed it as irrelevant and obsolete, because apparently "Ferris Bueller" made his previous career as a high school teacher difficult.

Click here to read the whole thing and the irate feedback it inspired.

Granted, as a filmmaker, Holmes wasn't Spielberg (I mean, "Weird Science"?), but cripes, he was a human being and he just died! I would think Persall could have simply said "I didn't care for his work." But what fun would that be?

Once again, I just do not understand some things.
UPDATE: Read this for further illustration and counterpoint.

Mad as hell? *Yawn* Who isn’t?

I was thinking about going to the big town hall meeting here in Tampa last night. What was it about? Health care? Astroturf? Something like that. It doesn’t matter. I didn’t expect to get in; I knew it would be more than packed and honestly, I just wanted to sit outside in my lawn chair and witness the 10-car pile-up of jackassery I knew would ensue. I didn’t go, discretion being the better part of valor or being part of the solution by not being part of the problem or because it looked like it might rain or something, but apparently it lived up to the hype.
These things have become spectacles not unlike South American soccer matches where the riots in the stands overshadow the soccer match itself and become the event. Seriously, at this point in time the phrase “town hall meeting” is becoming a synonym for "orgy of rage-fueled mayhem that makes an episode of the Jerry Springer Show look like a discussion of the day’s weather over a spot of lemonade (pinkies extended) along the banks of a lazy, meandering river".

Honestly, who’s surprised by this development? I’m not. We’ve been feeding and breeding anger, resentment and fear for years now. Here's a passage from "The Great Derangement" by Matt Taibbi that sums up the general mood of the country leading up the last election:

"After two consecutive bitterly negative presidential elections and many years of what was turning into a highly deflating military adventure in Iraq, the American public had reached new levels of disgust with the very concept of elections. People no longer voted for candidates they liked or were excited by; they voted against candidates they hated. At protests and marches, the ruling emotions were disgust and rage; the lack of idealism, and especially the lack of any sense of brotherhood or
comon purpose with the other side (i.e., liberals and conservatives unable to imagine a productive future with each other, or even
to see themselves as citizens of the same country), was striking."


I think it's obvious that this mood and mindset prevail today. Everybody is mad. Everybody is scared. About everything, all the time. We get the society…and government…we deserve, and with all things considered, what else could we reasonably expect?
Sure, it’s kind of sad that the reasonable, thoughtful people who must surely be out there somewhere and are capable of sitting down and discussing issues with the intent of trying to find mutually beneficial solutions seem to be absent in all of this, but can you blame them for laying low? They’re scared too…and seriously outnumbered. Welcome to your world, everybody, the world we've made for ourselves, where the lunatic fringe is the new mainstream.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

My dream beer summit

The recent so-called "beer summit", convened by President Obama in an attempt to open a dialogue about race relations in America in the 21st century, forced me to ask myself a tough question: With what U.S. president would I like to sit down and have a couple of beers?

As far as the kinds of questions I usually ask, I thought this was a pretty darn good one (who says this blog isn't topical? Well, besides me, I mean), so I asked some other people what they thought and this is what they said:

  • "Good question: I would say Jefferson or Reagan." -- Jim J.
  • "Damn, now that's a 'thinker'. I'm going to have to get back to you on that one ." -- Michael N.
  • "Definitely Teddy (Roosevelt)." -- Michael L.
  • "None. I don't drink beer." -- Marissa R.
  • "Definitely Sam Adams. Oh wait, he wasn't a president. But he makes such great beer!" -Allison G.N.
  • "Um, I'd say William McKinley for none other than he was assassinated in Buffalo, New York, my hometown." -- Jessica S-R.

For what it's worth, here's my list:

  1. Teddy Roosevelt - One time actual American Bad Ass, Teddy Roosevelt was the Hunter S. Thompson of presidents, the gonzo president. Beers with Teddy Roosevelt would be endlessly entertaining and the experience would only be marred by the inevitable conclusion, which would consist of Teddy tipping the table over, taking off his shirt, putting up his dukes and saying, "come now, let's have a go."

  2. Richard Nixon - This wouldn't be nearly as lively an experience as pounding a few with Teddy, but it would be interesting.

  3. Bill Clinton - Beers would be good. Shots of tequila would be awesome! And there would probably be girls there.

  4. John F. Kennedy - See above.

  5. Andrew Jackson - This would be fun for many of the same reasons it would be fun to hang out with Teddy, but "Ol' Hickory" had a reputation for getting all "rooty-tooty, let's go out back and shooty-shooty" to settle disputes.

  6. Jimmy Carter - Just don't break out the 30-year-old Billy Beer.

  7. Franklin Roosevelt - For some reason, I get the feeling he'd be more of a martini president. I think it's the cigarette holder.

  8. William Howard Taft - Just a couple of fat guys throwing back some suds, probably talking about baseball. What's not to like?

  9. Thomas Jefferson - See #3 and #4.

  10. Millard Fillmore - I've never met a dude named Millard. If I did, I'd buy him a beer.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Vote for me!

Creative Loafing is holding their annual "Best of the Bay" poll. You can vote on all kinds of things like best barbecue restaurant, best beach, best place to buy a bicycle and all sorts of nonsense like that. More importantly, you can vote for BEST LOCAL BLOG. I would like to take the opportunity to ask you to waste cast your vote for this one. Now, I have no delusions about thinking I'm going to win. That's an honor that will go to a good blog, an important blog, like one of the many listed in the sidebar over there to your right. In fact, I have no doubt one of them will win. But I still want votes. Call it an admirable commitment to hope and lost causes. Call it a desperate plea for attention and love. Call it whatever you want. Just vote. For me! I mean, this blog.
Now, the blogs that are listed in the sidebar are all very good. I'd encourage you to read them...later...much, much later...but don't vote for any of them. I'm not saying that every last one of those writers is a communist, illegal alien and/or a clogging enthusiast who wants to make health care coverage of any kind illegal, but I can't say with certainty that they aren't. And in this day and age and political climate, isn't that enough? You bet it it might be.
They're also selfish. They're not willing to give away an array of fabulous prizes. What's that? Did I say prizes? Yes, I said PRIZES! If I...I mean, if this blog wins Creative Loafing's Best of the Bay's category for Best local Blog, people who voted for me will have a chance to win* the following:
  • My "I voted" sticker from last year's election
  • A cardio workout session with Brian Blair
  • A date with The 23-Year-Old
  • A lap dance from Carl Crawford
  • An empty trophy case from the Tampa Bay Lightning
  • A delicious and shiny ham

So VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE and VOTE!

(NOTE: Odds of winning = a snowball's chance in hell. Some...okay, all...prizes may...okay, will...be unavailable due to various factors such as that permission was not granted, or even sought, from the people listed, the item has been sold on Craigslist or the item never existed in the first place. Honestly, you should know better by now.)

PS: Vote!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Genesis? She's on stage right after Mercedes

This is a mural depicting Eve tempting Adam in the Garden of Eden, as seen on the west wall of one of Tampa's many "gentleman's club", The 7 Seas (locals refer to it as The 7 Diseases). The Garden of Eden was quite literally paradise on earth. Apparently it was also a tow-away zone and surrounded by a chain link fence.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Welcome to the beach...sorta

If you're in Clearwater Beach and you want to relax along about 6 square feet of the intercoastal and you're willing to walk there, there's a spot for you.