Thursday, December 31, 2009

Art that goes kerplunk

Friends and I had heard about the installation of an Artomat machine at the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland recently. In case you don't know what I'm talking about, it's basically an old cigarette vending machine that has been converted to vend small, inexpensive ($5) pieces of art instead of smokes. This is something that Artomat.org has been doing all over the country since 1997. You can learn more by clicking the link above or this one right here). The stars finally aligned and we were able to go see it for ourselves this week. Now, we've gone on expeditions like this before, and sometimes things don't go as planned. However, under the guidance of our very accommodating (and patient) host, Melissa, we were able to not only utilize the Artomat without incident but also toured the entire museum, which currently features the incredible surreal photography of Jerry Uelsmann. So here are some photos from our visit...

Here's the machine, a work of art in itself!

This is one of the pieces we got, "Stanton the Frogboy" by Julie Armbruster from "Beasts! Series 3". www.JulieArmbruster.net (this is number 46 of 50)


This is "RED~ A miniature book" by Debbie Shannon.

This is "Cracker" by Herbert Hoover (no, not that one, this one: www.herbhoover.com). It's a pewter saltine cracker and this one is number 3451. This was my favorite because I like art (and food) that can be played with. What makes this so mush fun is there's a web site (www.crackertracker.net) where people have posted photos and stories of their crackers and their adventures. Stay tuned, I have a feeling ol' 3451 here will be making appearances there in the near future.

This is a high fire porcelain clay necklace by Marilyn Kirk.

This is a piece by Erin Colligan Lee (www.erinlee.etsy.com). All of her Artomat pieces feature peanuts.

This is "A View Through a Tiny Aperture ~A handmade book of pinhole photos, Volume #4" by Chuck Flagg http://home.mchsi.com/~pinholecamera47/

Remember kids, cigarettes are very, very bad for you but art is very, very good for you.
(Mucho Gracias to K who took all these photos)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hot Tuna: A restaurant review

Have you ever noticed that there are certain locations where restaurants just do not succeed? They change names and owners all the time, but to no avail. I think certain buildings are simply cursed when it comes to restaurants. You could open a place in one of these locations and call it "Pizza & Orgasms", offer a 2-for-1 special every Friday and you'll still be out of business in six months. Every town has at least one place like that. In Tampa, there are a few. One is the place I ate last night, currently known as Hot Tuna, located directly across the street from the St. Pete Times Forum. Here's a brief unofficial history of the establishments that have occupied this space during the last six or seven years or so: It has been a Beef O'Brady's (family oriented sports bar, wildly successful at their other 3 million locations), Rivals (a Beef O'Brady's minus the official branding) Dave Andreychuk's Grille (a sports bar that Dave Andreychuk himself probably visited less than 10 times) and Latitudes (I don't know...I don't think it was open long enough for the ink on their menus to dry). And now, Hot Tuna. I guess it's named after the band because they seem to be playing up a rock & roll theme.
Let me be clear right up front; I don't wish the proprietors of this place any ill will. I have no reason to want them to fail. But, well...
I had onion rings and a cheeseburger off a menu that had about a dozen options. To be fair, it says right on it that it's a temporary menu and that they'll be offering a wider variety after a grand opening in January. Also, the cheeseburger wasn't bad at all. It was a fine cheeseburger. I'll go so far as to say it was delicious. And they didn't screw up the onion rings (it's pretty difficult to screw up onion rings, but some places still do somehow). But there was nothing about any of it that would inspire me to make it a special destination. Not with tons of places that serve cheeseburgers and onion rings nearby. Our server was fine but they were obviously not staffed for a busy night (there was a Lightning game at the Forum) and it took a long time to get our food and to pay our check. And no happy hour? Ouch!
So, what you've got is good-but-nothing-special food and good-but-slow service. I'd stop there if I was hungry and on my way to the Forum and it was close to where I parked but I wouldn't go out of my way to get there. They'll probably be busy on event nights but I don't think that's going to be enough to break the curse.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I got your special needs right here, pal!

video

I'll be completely honest, I made this video as much because I got a new camera to play with (and to pimp some Qlarq music) as I did to ridicule an oddly-placed parking space. So if it isn't that good, take comfort in the fact that I GOT A NEW CAMERA (and you should buy some Qlarq music)!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The current state of robotic science, as I see it...

It stinks!
Don't get me wrong; I love robots. I'm just disappointed in what they've turned out to be, compared to how they were envisioned in the '50s, that's all. A proper robot should resemble humans in it's composition. It should have something that resembles a head on top of it with two camera eyes and a speakerbox mouth. It should walk stiffly on two legs, arms either extended straight out in front or flailing wildly at it's sides and should talk in an electronic monotone. And if possible, it should have machine guns concealed in it's robo-torso, but that's a bonus.
The robots we have don't conform to any of those basic standards. That renders them useless and stupid. 50-year-old toys are not supposed to be more awesome than the modern day real thing. It doesn't apply to cars, airplanes or semi-automatic weapons. Get on the ball, robots!

I hear you out there: "But Clark, robots today are amazing! They're incredibly useful in countless ways." I would like to refute those assertions with the following factual arguments...
  1. No they aren't.
  2. Shut up.

If you remain unconvinced, I will give you three specific examples...

FACTORY ROBOT - Please. It's nothing more than a glorified automatic screwdriver. Or wrench. Or pliers. Whatever tool it is they use to make cars. It doesn't talk. It doesn't move around much. It just stays in one spot and does one mindless task all day long (insert your own joke about American workers, many of whom lost their jobs to these stupid things, here, because I refuse to do that).




ROOMBA ROBOT - Yeah, right. That's a vacuum cleaner. It's a bump-n-go! It's a damn toy! Honestly, the thing is the size of a Frisbee. It couldn't contain a bag of potato chips, let alone the debris you'll find on the floor in a normal household. How is it more practical than my trusty Hoover upright if I have to look around and find it so I can empty it every five minutes? If it wasn't for the inexplicable enjoyment that animals get from riding them, they'd be 100% useless.


BOMB ROBOT - Okay, I'll admit that is pretty damn cool looking. And bomb disposal is just about the most badass thing in the universe. And I wouldn't mind having one of those. But life would be so much better if the bomb disposal robot that walked up to the bomb, picked it up, opened it's mouth and swallowed it. After a few seconds, a muffled *BOOM!* would be heard, followed by the robot burping and a little puff of smoke coming out. Everybody would laugh, the robot would blush, smile and shrug it's shoulders. Seriously, who wouldn't enjoy that so much more than what happens when the bomb squad shows up now?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

(Sing to the tune of "Silver Bells" if you're so inclined)

Scattered, smothered, chunked and covered
World's greatest hash browns
In the air
There's a feeling of breakfast
Bikers, truckers
Smearing Smucker's
On pieces of white toast
And in every corner booth you'll hear

"Waffle House, Waffle House
Only place open on Christmas
It's a treat, when we eat
Here, every year, Christmas day"

Waffles, pancakes
Pork chops and steaks
Grilled bacon patty melts too
You won't find much health food
On this menu
Orders shouting
Coffee spouting
Martha Stewart's nightmare
And above all the bustle
You'll hear

"Waffle House, Waffle House
Only place open on Christmas
It's a treat, when we eat
Here, every year, Christmas day"

But next year, maybe dear,
Perhaps we could have Chinese
Perhaps we could have Chinese

*Sigh*

Merry Christmas.
This post was much angrier a few minutes ago. I pulled it back because I've changed my mind. Not about what I want to say but about how I want to say it. My sincere apologies if you read the angry version. That was not the right way to convey this message.

Many of you are not looking forward to what today holds for you. You will have to deal with multitudes of people and their quirky personalities. Dinner is going to be a major production. You're already worn out from all the parties you've had to attend. Everything is a great big hassle and that's not what the holidays are supposed to be all about.
I've avoided spending a great deal of time on Facebook and Twitter and stuff because I know I'm going to see lots of complaints about these and other similar holiday issues, and I'd really rather avoid as much of that as possible.

I just got home from work a little while ago and my neighbors, who are frequently loud and obnoxious at weird hours, were out on their patio, having a little shindig. "Great, looks like I'm not getting to bed any time soon", I thought to myself. I've never actually met them before tonight, but one of the guys, Arnold ("like the pig on Green Acres!") called me over and offered me a beer. I'm tired, I just ate pancakes and all I want is to go upstairs and crash, so I politely decline. He insisted. "Come on, just one beer. Celebrate Christmas Eve." There's an unwritten code that says when somebody offers you beer, it's customary to accept, whether you want it or not. To decline after it is offered with insistence is nothing short of an insult. Never let it be said that I violate protocol. "Okay, one beer." I met him and his friends and family, most of whom didn't speak any English and I drank my beer. It was cold and delicious and when it was gone, I was glad I had accepted his offer. "Thanks Arnold", I said, heading up the stairs, "if you ever need anything, just come up and knock." Arnold said, "you got a million dollars up there?" I revised my offer. "If you ever need almost anything, just come up and knock." I don't even care that they're still up, still loud, still partying.


Look, I know dealing with family (and friends) can be a pain in the ass sometimes. You're not wrong to feel that way. But if you're serious about the whole 'be thankful for what you've got' thing, you'd do well to follow your own advice. I would think it would be flattering and humbling to know that there are people who love you and want to spend time with you. I would think that alone might be enough to make you happy on Christmas, no? I don't know. What I do know is there are a lot of people who would trade places with you in a minute and wouldn't trade back in a million years. I'm one of them.

So, just try to enjoy at least some part of it, if you can. And if you can't, at least have the decency to lie about it for the benefit of those of us who aren't fortunate enough to be in your shoes, okay?
Peace on earth, good will toward y'all and whatnot.
Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Another childhood dream shatters a little bit

Last year, I got a chance to meet Mike McKenna when he was a goalie with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was called up from the minors due to an injury and it was kind of a surprise to everybody, including him. As a result, he sort of carried an affable "gee whiz, pinch me I'm dreaming" kind of vibe that was endearing, especially compared to many of the professional athletes whose over the top "ME ME ME" personas tend to dominate the sports pages. Between that and the fact that despite having worked for an NHL team and having met lots of players I don't actually "know" any, I decided he would be my favorite player. Having favorite players makes sports fun. So now I root for him, even though he's no longer with the Lightning*. Recently, I was at a hobby store and came across his rookie hockey card (pictured) so I snatched it up. I was so excited that I shared my find with the world via Twitter, "I just got a Mike McKenna rookie card!" A little while later, Mike replied, "Lucky you...I don't even get cards of myself! I guess I'll have to buy them off eBay or something...". I was stunned. I couldn't believe it. I never made it as a professional athlete (obviously...shut up) but like most American males, I fantasized so much about it that I thought I had a pretty accurate idea what it would be like, and it broke down something like this:

  • Being chased around like one of the Beatles by throngs of screaming girls ... 32%
  • Playing games in front of huge crowds in stadiums and on television ... 28%
  • Travelling the world ... 14%
  • Signing autographs ... 7%
  • Playing practical jokes and engaging in general horseplay with teammates ... 3%
  • Practicing or otherwise working really, really hard ... 1%
  • Misc. (playing video games that I'm actually in, golf with celebrities, being on 'The Tonight Show', etc.) ... 5%
  • Having the Topps company send me boxes and boxes of cards of myself ... 10%

As you can see the card thing is a huge part of the equation! If that's not accurate, it means some of my other numbers are wrong as well and the whole thing is out of whack.

"It's definitely a bummer", Mike said. "You'd think the card companies would send a handful to each player. Still cool though!"
If you say so, Mike. Still, I can't help feeling disappointed...which is nothing new for me; I grew up a Pete Rose fan.



* Mike McKenna is currently with the New Jersey Devils organization and is playing for the Lowell Devils of the American Hockey League. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MikeMcKenna56

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Chimpmas!

(From WTSP) Tampa, FL - "A little girl is OK after being hit by an orange thrown by a chimpanzee at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.
This incident happened during the zoo's "Presents for Primates" event. Zookeepers tossed wrapped presents filled with food in the chimps' and other primates' exhibits."


This is fantastic!
Okay, okay, it happened to a little kid and nobody wants to see a little kid get hurt. The good news is she's just fine, which brings us back to...
This is fantastic!
Come on! A chimp gets excited and bonks somebody in the head with a piece of fruit. What could be better?
Well, all right, I'll concede that a wealthy dowager or some stuffy banker in a three-piece suit would have been better than a poor, innocent child and that a banana or a handful of feces would have been better than an orange but I stand by, and reiterate, my original "Come on!" because animals hitting humans in the head with stuff will always be hilarious. Here's the original story from WTSP's web site, including some raw video (WARNING: You won't see the impact but you do get to hear a nice, wet *SMACK!* which is pretty sweet).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Decking the deck

Another day, another competition. There was a flyer on my door the other day:

"It is that time of year again!
We will be looking for the residents with the most holiday cheer!
The resident with the merriest patio will win a $50 gift card!
2nd place will be a $25 gift card! We will be announcing the winner at our holiday party! Santa will be there so bring the whole family!"
Well, okay. Here's my entry...
No, I have not decided how I will spend my prize money.

Monday, December 21, 2009

No justice, no dessert

There was a dessert contest at work the other day, part of the annual company Christmas luncheon. The 23-Year-Old announced that she was going to submit an entry because she thought it would be fun. I agreed. It would be fun to defeat her and crush her dreams during the holiday season. So I announced that I would be submitting an entry of my own.
"So what are you making for the contest?", I asked.
"Oreo Balls! They're so yummy!", she answered. "What are you bringing?"
"I can't tell you. But I'll give you a two word hint. 1) A. 2) Mazing."
"Oh geez, you'll probably get some unclaimed birthday cake from the clearance shelf at Publix and have a chocolate fountain shooting out of it."
"Wrong! Why do you say that?"
"Because when you don't have something of worthwhile substance to contribute, you have a tendency to overcompensate with some loud and showy presentation designed to distract and overwhelm..."
"THAT'S NOT TRUE!", I answered through my bullhorn and hung up.
Now that she'd guessed almost exactly what I had planned to do (I wanted to incorporate pyrotechnics somehow), I had to scramble for a Plan B option. Once I had it, I called to make sure she was still going to be in the contest.
"Yep. And you'd better be there for my victory speech."
"Uh, you're not going to win."
"Yes I am. These Oreo Balls are delicious and everyone is going to love them. You are not going to be able to ruin this for me."
"We'll see about that. Just bring your balls and don't forget to bring your camera."
"Oh, to document your sad little tears when I win?"
"No, to document my huge, awesome tears when my dessert punches your balls in the face."
"Gross."
So the big day arrived and here's what she submitted...
Not bad, I guess. Good try.
Now, here's mine...


BOOM!
Golden sponge cake, filled with creamy foam? Incredible! Here are the two entries side-by-side...

I know, right? No contest!
Well, somehow, I didn't win. Apparently, the judge gave higher consideration to things that people actually made on their own. Well, la-ti-da! Excuse me for not being Bobby Flay or whoever. Shouldn't a bow that enormous and festive count for something? Plus, I noticed it didn't stop anybody from eating the whole box. Communist hypocrites.
Anyway, here is the recipe for the grand prize recipe:
The 23-Year-Old's Award Winning Oreo Balls
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 package regular size Oreo cookies, crushed
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 package white almond bark
  • 1 package chocolate almond bark

DIRECTIONS

  1. Using a blender or hand held mixer or a big ol' spoon, mix crushed-up Oreos and cream cheese together.
  2. Roll into walnut size balls.
  3. Chill for an hour. The balls, that is. You can chill too, if you want to.
  4. Melt approximately 3/4 package of white almond bark.
  5. Stick a toothpick in the balls and dip them in the melted white almond bark.
  6. Allow to harden on wax paper (takes about 15 minutes).
  7. While waiting, melt about 1/4 package of chocolate almond bark.
  8. When Oreo balls are no longer sticky to the touch, decorate with drizzles of chocolate and white almond bark. If you don't have a pastry bag, you can just cut a tiny hole in a regular old sandwich bag. If you do have a pastry bag, odds are you aren't even reading this.

Photos courtesy of the surprisingly ungracious in victory 23-Year-Old

Friday, December 18, 2009

Some happiness for you...

A friend received some good news from her doctor the other day: the results of her biopsy were negative. Now, I know what you're thinking; since when do doctors give people good news and how can negative results be good? Well, I don't know about the first question but it was a biopsy, bi means two, and that's a double negative which makes it a positive. Like when you say "I don't not want pie" or "I can't get no satisfaction" because you really DO want some pie (and you know you do) and while you can't always get what you want, if you try some time, you just might find you get what you need. Perhaps some nice fresh fruit instead.

This news inspired me to raise my
Relay For Life goal again. I'd already doubled it once from $250 to $500 and thanks to many of you generous people, I hit the $500 mark fairly quickly. So I've doubled it again to $1000. I know that's a lot of money and I might not get there, but I'd rather keep trying to raise as much money as possible and fall short than reach a milestone and coast. Because ultimately, when it comes to fighting cancer there's only one goal that matters and it has nothing to do with an arbitrarily chosen number (this is something I tried, and failed, to impart to my fellow team members when I was team captain last year).
Anyway, if you've already contributed, thanks again! If you haven't,
please consider doing so. You can give as little as a dollar and it will be sincerely appreciated. Either way, in the spirit of celebrating good news, please enjoy this...



Click here to make a secure donation to the American Cancer Society via my Relay For Life page. Thanks!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sibling revelry

I tried to give my little sister, Connie, a call yesterday, you know, because it's the holidays and all, and I got a disconnected number. We've never been what anybody would describe as close but it's not because we have any animosity towards each other (at least I don't think so). We've never even had a real serious falling out that I can remember. Since there's no big issue at the heart of the matter, I never really thought about why we don't interact more frequently. Until yesterday. "Wow", I thought to myself, "I have one sibling and I don't even have her up-to-date contact info." So I went through my organizer and eventually tracked her down at another number. After making small talk, I asked her if she'd like to be interviewed for this blog.
"...why?", she asked.
"I don't know. Maybe it'll be interesting."
"...okay", she answered.
So I whipped up some questions for her. Here they are, along with her answers.

ME: So, like, what's your deal?
HER: Seven Card Stud, Deuces Wild.
ME: That's a card joke, right? I get it.
HER: Yeah.

ME: We talk about once a year or so. Do you think that's weird?
HER: When you can explain normal to me, I'll let you know.

ME: What's my nephew Tony up to these days?
HER: About 5' 6". Starts basketball this week at the Boys & Girls club. Starts high school next year.

ME: Growing up, on a scale of resentment to hero worship, how did I rank as a big brother?
HER: This would have been an easier question if you would have given me a scale of, oh say, 1 to 2 1/2.

ME: When you talk about me to friends and associates, as I'm sure you often do, do you refer to me as comic genius, star athlete, award winning actor or as-yet-undiscovered rock star?
HER: How did you know you are always the main topic of all my discussions with the bag lady on the corner? Her cats just think you are the Bee's Knee's.

ME: Do you still smoke?
HER: Yup
ME: Gross.
HER: ...
ME: I never did, but you do? Why do you think that is?
HER: Because heroin is too expensive. Oh yeah, and illegal too.

ME: Who do you think you take after more, mom or dad?
HER: Dad. I definitely got his eyebrows. But I did get Mom's big feet.
ME: How about me?
HER: Mom. You got her sick sense of wry humor. As well as her height.
ME: You make it sound like mom looks like Manute Bol.
HER: Who's that?
ME: Never mind.
ME: Who's your favorite musical artist(s)?
HER: Hard to choose on this one, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Jane's Addiction, George Duke, Beatles, Robin Trower, John Mayer, k.d. lang, this list goes on....
ME: I like some of those people.
HER: Cool.
ME: Okay, well...
HER: ...
ME: Uh, talk to you in 11 months or so.
HER: Later.

Wow. Just...wow.


Oh yeah. He's really good.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Government in action!

Sure, I vote and stuff but I rarely get the opportunity (or rather, take the time, if I'm going to be honest about it) to observe my government in action first-hand. So when I found out that the Cone Ranch issue was on the agenda at today's Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, I decided to go down and check it out, specifically the very start of the meeting when the public is allowed to address their concerns directly to the commissioners.
Now, if you don't go to many hockey games, you'd like to see a fight.
If you don't watch NASCAR very often, you want to see a crash.
If you don't regularly attend meetings where constituents get to tell their elected officials what they think about things, you kind of hope you might see...this:



No such luck today though. Where was the passion? Where was the commitment? Where was the crazy? Where were all the idiots who made the "Town Hall Meetings" and "Tea Parties" so much doggone fun? Heck, everybody was civil and most people even began or ended their remarks with happy holiday wishes. What's the fun in that? It did get a little steamy when some folks who were very upset with the job done by longtime County Administrator Pat Bean got up to voice their displeasure. They were especially angry that apparently not all of the commissioners even bothered to submit written evaluations of her performance. She was sitting right there when they spoke. I wonder if they knew that. They probably did. Ew!Awkward!

But that's about as juicy as it got. After that, I left because my parking meter was due to expire, but not before I took the opportunity to introduce myself to local activist Mariella Smith, with whom I've shared correspondence and an on-line friendship over the years but had never met in person. She gave me a big ol' hug, right there in the commission chambers so that was nice.


As to Cone Ranch, which is due to be addressed in that meeting about 25 minutes from when I type this, it seems like a no-brainer. Millions of dollars have been spent to replace water that has not been flowing into the Hillsborough River. That's money that would be saved by restoring natural wetlands already on Cone Ranch. The Environmental Land Acquisition and Protection Program wants to buy Cone Ranch, which in effect would simply be selling public land to a public entity that could manage it effectively. This clearly provides the greatest benefit to the most people. The alternative, selling almost 13,000 acres of public land to private investors benefits a very select few in one way only ($$$). Hopefully, by the time you read this, the BOCC has done the obviously right thing.

Only in America: We love our guns and sports teams (in that order)!

Sweet greasy pizza, these people exist!

Did you see that Dirty Harry-sized hand cannon that pops up at the 1:19 mark? I'm surprised the tv didn't just self-immolate at the sight of that thing. I almost did.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A-Rod = A-vailable


"Hi. I lied repeatedly about abusing steroids which I used to enhance my performance at my job and I cheated on my wife. But I make a lot, and I mean A LOT, of money and I'm no longer dating my movie star girlfriend, so..."

Women everywhere (many of whom are constantly complaining about the shortage of honest, intelligent men who will treat women with respect because they have been burned repeatedly in bad relationships with lying, cheating douchebags): "Ooh! Ooh! Me! Me! Pick me! Me first! Me first! Pick me! Me! Pick me! Pick me!"

A short conversation about the whole Tiger Woods thing

"It's a shame really. It's all just so unnecessary. All he had to do was never get married and none of this would even be news."

"I know. He's a young professional athlete who makes a ton of money. To some extent, he's expected to fool around with all kinds of women. I wonder why he ever did get married."

"Maybe he's gay."

"..."

"See, a lot of guys who are gay don't want to come out. They're embarrassed or ashamed or afraid of what their friends and family will think or whatever. So they have a girlfriend or even get married and have kids and then everybody assumes they're straight. Happens all the time."

"I'm pretty sure that's not what's going on here. There are now 14 different women who claim to have had an affair with him."

"Maybe he's really, really gay."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gangs of Tampa

I was driving through the campus of the University of Tampa and I saw these ladies in purple dresses and red hats having tea on the veranda at Plant Hall, which is the centerpiece of the picturesque UT campus. Of course I recognized them as members of the Red Hat Society, a social organization for ladies over 50. As I watched them it occurred to me that they are not unlike a gang in many ways. Specifically, the way they wear distinctive colors when they gather in public. As I was sitting there thinking of other examples, a plate glass window shattered and one of the Red Hat ladies came tumbling through it. All the other ladies cheered and raised what I had thought were tea cups but were actually huge tankards of ale. A tweedy little man in a blazer wearing glasses and a bow tie came out and started yelling at them. "Ladies! Ladies!", he said. "Such untoward activity and coarse manners are frowned upon at Plant Hall!" One of the ladies grabbed him and said "I'll plant something in your hall, sugar cheeks" and sat him roughly on her lap. "Madame, please!", he protested as he attempted in vain to squirm free. "Haw haw! Hey Loretta, show him your tattoo", one of the other Red Hats yelled. Another chimed in, "He's probably seen it already. After all, who hasn't? Haw haw!" The one they called Loretta smashed a beer bottle over that one's head, but it didn't have much effect with most of the impact blunted by the floppy red hat. Suddenly a motorcycle roared up the steps and screeched to a halt. The rider, clad in a purple leather jacket stood up and removed her red helmet. "Let him go", she hissed. Loretta released the man and said, "Aw Susan, we were just havin' a little fun". Susan glared back and Loretta slumped down in her wicker chair. "You okay, dumplin'?", Susan asked the man. "Y-yes I think so. Thank you", he replied. "Well, you better run along. I calmed them down this time but I don't know how long they'll stay that way", she said. He turned to the group, sobbed "Animals!" and ran back inside, his hands covering his tear-streaked face. The group laughed but then caught themselves and looked at Susan who began to chuckle as well. Before long the air was filled with uproarious laughter, punctuated by the sounds of beer bottles shattering which lasted long into the UT night.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Sunny has set...

Well, another season of "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" (the funniest show on tv in my opinion) has come and gone. I think this year, the show's fifth, might have been the most consistent so far. Season 5 introduced us to milksteak...







Kitten Mittons...




and the
Dick Towel(.com)
It also saw the main ensemble of Mac, Dennis, Charlie, Dee and Frank interacting more within themselves than with other outside characters, which gave them all more individual opportunities to shine. That's great, but I hope we still get to see some of the recurring characters again in the future. Especially these guys...

#8 Uncle Jack - Charlie's perverted uncle and obviously the inspiration for The Nightman. Uncle Jack being the way he is explains a lot about why Charlie is the way he is.
UNCLE JACK: It'll be fun, you know, you and me.....pallin' around...gettin nuts! Goin' crazy....
CHARLIE: I'm not doin' any kinda...crazy things you want me to do with you Uncle Jack...
UNCLE JACK: It's stuff that relatives do, we'll share the room Charlie...
CHARLIE: I don't wanna share the room with you dude, cause I will spend the whole night wide awake just like when I was a kid and you tried to share my room
UNCLE JACK: You ever seen wrestlin' on television?
CHARLIE: I am well aware of what wrestling is, it's just not what uncles do to their nephews! I'm outta here!
UNCLE JACK: Hey I'll call you later
CHARLIE: I know you will!

#7 Carmen (aka Carmen The Tranny or just The Tranny) - The closest that any character on this show has had to a healthy, loving relationship with another person was when Mac was dating Carmen, a pre-op male-to-female transsexual. It began when she complimented Mac's body and ended when he accidentally punched her in the face.
MAC: Is that a penis in your pants?
CARMEN: Yeah.
MAC: You lied to me!
CARMEN: No I didn't! You lied to me! You don't work out? Please! I've seen you at the gym - you're ripped!
MAC: No, don't turn this around - wait... really?


#6 THE LAWYER - Sometimes an opponent, sometimes an ally (well, in their minds) The Gang seems to think this man is the only practicing lawyer in Philadelphia. He expresses exasperation every time he encounters them, but also seems to take pleasure in battling (and defeating) them.
CHARLIE: Lemme handle this, Frank. It's not bullbird. He's making a few good points. Look buddy, I know a lot about the law and various other lawyerings, uh, I'm well educated, well versed. I know that situations like this, real-estate wise, are complex.
LAWYER: Actually, they're pretty simple. The forms are all standard boiler-plate.
CHARLIE: Okay. Well we're all hungry. We'll get to our hot-plates soon enough. Let's talk about the contract here.
LAWYER: I'm sorry, I forgot. Where did you go to law school again?
CHARLIE: Well I could ask you that very same question.
LAWYER: I went to Harvard.
CHARLIE: Ah, mhm.
LAWYER: How about you? Hm? Uh?
CHARLIE: I'm pleading the fifth, sir.
LAWYER: I'd advise that you do that.
CHARLIE: And I'll take that advice into cooperation, alright? Now what say you and I go toe-to-toe on bird-law and see how comes out the victor?
LAWYER: You know, I don't think I'm going to do anything close to that and I can see clearly you know nothing about the law. It seems like you have a tenuous grasp of the English language in general.
CHARLIE: I, uh, well, filibuster!
LAWYER: Do you.. Do you know what that word means?
CHARLIE: Ah-yup!


#5 Mac's Dad, Luther - A convicted meth dealer, possibly a murderer, maybe even a cannibal, Luther got out of prison, made amends with everyone he had wronged in the past and apparently has turned over a new leaf. He was last seen relaxing somewhere on a beach after pinning a note to the door of Paddy's Pub with a giant knife telling Mac that he loved him.
LUTHER: I never blink.


#4 Artemis - A former acting classmate of Dee's and most recently Frank's booty call, any time Artemis is around, things are going to get weird.
FRANK: Deandra, you got any bacon bits? We like to put them in Artemis's hair, and they rain down on me when we bang.
ARTEMIS: I feel like a Cobb Salad! It's...amazing!


#3 Rickety Cricket - Nobody has had their life ruined like Little Matty Mara who overcame a childhood of teasing, and teabagging, by Dennis, Mac and Charlie and an unrequited crush on Sweet Dee to become a priest, only to turn his back on the church and be turned into a homeless "street rat" strung out on various drugs and getting his legs broken by the mob, all thanks to Dennis, Mac, Charlie and Dee
CRICKET: You gotta make it sexy! Hips and nips... otherwise I'm not eatin'


#2 The Waitress - Just like the Joker couldn't exist with out the Batman (and vice-versa), The Gang couldn't exist with out the Waitress (and vice-versa). Her relationship with Charlie, consisting largely of rejecting every attempt he makes to win her heart could be described as sweet if somebody who works hard and spends time volunteering with community organizations being stalked by an illiterate manchild is your idea of sweet.
WAITRESS: (Drunkenly) I have a drinking problem.
DEE: Well, then, you should know how to hold your booze a little better.
WAITRESS: I'll hold your boobs a little better


#1 The McPoyles - Disgustingly disturbing on so many levels, the McPoyles used to be on so often that I was afraid they'd turn into this show's version of Lenny & Squiggy. But they haven't been seen in over two full seasons and I miss them terribly. This family is not what they had in mind when they nicknamed Philly "The City of Brotherly Love".
LIAM McPOYLE: We're gonna get this place hot and clammy...just like the McPoyles like it.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Please stand by...

No new material planned for a day, maybe two or three, okay? No big deal. Be back soon. Couple of days, maybe sooner than that. At least one though. One whole day. Or maybe not. We'll see.

WANTED: A Santa jacket

I don't have any festive attire to don (notice I didn't say gay attire; I'm sure I could round that up if I had to) in case I get invited to a holiday party so I'm trying to find a Santa jacket. I realize the chances of me being invited to such a party are virtually non-existent, but still, I want to be prepared if an invite came into my possession somehow, either by accident or poor judgment on someone's part. A Santa jacket would be PERFECT! Look at that! PIMP! I don't need the whole suit. I don't want to go as Santa Claus. I just want to rock the jacket over a hockey sweater with a pair of jeans and tennis shoes, that's all. I played Santa at a party once and it was awesome. Women, and I'm talking about adults, think it's cute to sit on Santa's lap. Who am I to disagree? But that's not what I'm going for here (although if it happens while I'm wearing the jacket, well, 'tis the season, you know?).
So far I'm striking out. I tried the flea market the other day but they had nothing. All I can find anywhere is new, full suits, and they run between $100 and $400, which is way more than I want to spend. So if you happen to see anything at a thrift store or you have any other ideas, let me know. I'm running out of time.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Oh Thank Heaven!

When I was growing up, I bought my candy and baseball cards at a neighborhood liquor store called Angelo's. It was a dark, very adult, kind of creepy place filled with a whole aisle of "party gags" like rubber vomit, nudie pens and plastic ice cubes with flies in them plus a whole wire rack of plastic bagged three-packs of off-brand porno magazines like Cheri or Swank (which I learned considerably later is supposed to be an adjective, not a verb). That's because there were no 7 Eleven stores in Benton Harbor. But I knew about them because of commercials I'd see on WGN. They seemed like magical, exotic places. Clean and well-lit with Slurpees flowing like multi-colored rivers of frosty joy. I especially wanted to get my hands on some of those special edition Chicago Cubs collector cups, thinking my whole family would benefit from the dinner time experience being enhanced by looking at the visages of George Mitterwald or the Reuschel brothers on our drinkware as we dined...

As with so many things in life, I found out the eventual reality was not nearly as exciting as what I'd built it up to be in my adolescent mind. Turns out they're just gas stations that sell grocery items. Don't get me wrong, I like them. Their hot dogs are great and sometimes, having a Slurpee can be almost a religious experience. It's just that, much like air travel, going there is not a special experience. I think it could be better if they'd get rid of cigarettes and lottery tickets. I realize that's never going to happen because those items represent a huge source of revenue for them and that there are people who go there just for those two items. But I always seem to get behind somebody buying one or both of them and it's never an easy transaction. Why are there so many different varieties? (This is a rhetorical question, 'rhetorical' being Latin for 'I don't really care what the answer is'). It just seems like every time I get in line at these stores, somebody is buying cigarettes and/or lottery tickets and the process is an ordeal. Lotto shoppers: Talk about pointless. Whether you pick Mucho Money! or Greeny Greenbacks! or Crunchy Coins! or whatever, it makes no difference whatsoever. Your odds are exactly the same and none of them is more "fun" to "play" than another. Jesus, just pick something and get out of my life already! At least the cigarette people are exercising a personal preference based on taste and degree of cancerness or something. But it's still unnecessarily difficult for these people to complete a purchase. Last night, a guy wanted Marlboro reds, medium. And as always, the clerk couldn't find them among the 800 different brands of cigarettes. "No, up...left...no, not green. Red...yes! No, the other one...down...right..." I don't smoke or work there, but I knew what the guy wanted. One day, I'm going to climb over the counter and get them myself, and probably get tased or shot for it.



(Here's a picture of George Mitterwald, in case the beefcake above wasn't enough for you. Also, it should be noted that the Reuschel brothers baseball card is labelled incorrectly; that's Rick on the left and Paul is on the right. Now you can sleep tonight.)

Friday, December 04, 2009

There's something out there...

Following up on this post, a friend on Twitter who knows my fondness for things that (probably) don't currently exist (but I desperately wish they did) found this for me: Six of the Sea’s Scariest Monsters. Ignore the ones that are most likely hoaxes or things that scientists weren't equipped to figure out at the time when they were found and there are still enough beasties on this list to make you pause for a sec before you take a dip. And these are just the things that have been found! There might be millions of things out there that nobody has even seen yet. This idea fills me with so much hope and joy that I can't even express myself.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Say it isn't so!

Back in the olden days of pop music, when there was such a thing as hit records, few were better at making them than the duo of Hall and Oates. Masters of the craft of creating top 40 pop songs, there was a stretch in the mid 1980s when everything they put out went to the top of the charts. But with trends and tastes always changing and a never ending supply of hungry challengers nipping at their heels, kings and queens of the mountain don't get to stay on top forever. When all is said and done, the best you can hope for with artists you were/are fond of is that their reign doesn't come to an end due to some kind of tragedy, that they keep making music you enjoy (or at least go on tour and perform the old hits every now and then) and that they have fond memories of their experience while it lasted. So while I was reading an interview at The Onion, I was very sad to see lead singer Daryl Hall say this:

"I never enjoyed music...I’ve been a professional since I was 2 years old. It’s work. I come from a musical family, my mother was in a band… music to me was hard work. It was learning how to be in front of people, and how to deal with audiences. Practice, constant practice with instruments. It was never what most would call a pleasurable experience...More so now even than then. I’m a professional musician. I have been my whole life. When people are born into the arts, they don’t tend to see art as pleasure, they see it as work."


Wow. Harsh. It's not that he's complaining about what a drain it is to be a star, dealing with fans, the lack of privacy, the grind of touring, blah blah blah that you hear all the time. It's that he says he never enjoyed music! Never mind that one of the most common Walter Mitty fantasies that most of us who punch a clock and wear a name tag have is to command a stage in front of 50,000 people (many of whom were classmates in school that weren't nice to us back then and now want to sleep with us, and so you arrange for them to get really great seats, just so you can hear them scream your name and beg for your attention, which they won't get because that ship has sailed...am I right? Who's with me? Come on!), only to discover that somebody who actually lived that life looked at it as nothing more than a "time-to-make-the-donuts" situation. What about all the people who never really cared about being a star but just enjoy music? The ones who worked really hard and tried their best but could never get their fingers and brains in sync to be able to play an instrument, couldn't hit certain high or low notes or who just take simple pleasure in listening to the radio (in other words: just about everybody)? I know it takes hard work, and lots of it, to make a successful living as an artist of any kind, at any level. But is that all it is? No fun at all? How do you relate to someone who was able to please so many people, yet derived no pleasure himself from doing so? I don't know. I can't imagine such a thing. That seems tragic to me.