Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year In Review

"That's some big, crazy, illuminated ball, fellas!"
What a year, it's been, huh? Crazy! If I could sum it all up in just one word, it would probably be that one: crazy. Because that's what it was: just so damn crazy!
Let's be like every other media outlet in the universe and take an in-depth look at every single thing that happened in the crazy year of 2010, a year that will surely go down as one of the craziest of the crazy.


POLITICS
The Big Issues: Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, "I am not a witch".
My analysis: Wow, that is cuh-razy!


WAR
The Big Issues: The war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan.
My analysis: One war is crazy, two wars is double crazy. Support the troops, people.


MOVIES
The Big Issues: "Inception", "Black Swan", "The Social Network".
My analysis: If you don't think those are some crazy movies, think again. Crazy, right? I know!


TELEVISION
The Big Issues: Jon Stewart, Glenn Beck, Conan O'Brian, Jay Leno, the finale of "Lost".
My analysis: They should just go ahead and re-name it 'Crazyvision', because that's what it was!


MUSIC
The Big Issues: Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Beatles finally available on iTunes
My analysis: I still can't get over Kanye West upstaging Taylor Swift because that was two years worth of crazy.


SPORTS
The Big Issues: Bret Favre, Derek Jeter, LeBron James
My analysis: Whole lotta crazy goin' on.


LITERATURE
The Big Issues: Vampire fiction and "The Handbook of the Writer Secret Society"
My analysis: We have more than enough angsty vampire books but if you don't buy "The Handbook...", guess what you are? (Hint: it starts with a "c" and ends with a "razy")


WEATHER
The Big Issues: Too hot! Too cold! What is the deal with the rain (either too much or not enough)?
My analysis: This front of high-pressure crazy is going to push through from the Rockies and is going to result in crazier than normal craziness with extended periods of crazy.


BIG STORIES IN BRIEF
Haiti earthquake: It's crazy that so much devastation can occur in one place. When will we learn???
Winter Olympics: Man oh man, what the hell is Curling? Just the craziest damn sport ever, that's all!
Chile earthquake: Hey Chile, weren't you paying attention to what happened in Haiti? What are you, crazy or something?
Gulf oil spill: "Hey America, we want to drill a hole in the bottom of the ocean for oil with no plan on what to do if something goes wrong". "Hey BP, okay, but if you do we're going to put you in charge of fixing it". "Sounds crazy...I mean, fair...to me!"
World Cup: 'Vuvuzela' is South African for 'crazy horn'.
Chilean miners rescued: First an earthquake and now this? It's official; Chile is the craziest country of 2010!
Midterm elections: Florida elected Rick Scott as governor. On purpose. C-R-A-Z-Y and Crazy is our name-o!

The economy: Nobody's working so nobody can afford to buy stuff so companies that make stuff can't hire any workers. If you have a sharper insight than that as to what is wrong with the economy, I'd love to hear it, crazy person.
WikiLeaks: Ha ha! What a crazy name for such an apparently serious problem!


And now, to play us out, a video montage accompanied by somber music in tribute to some of the beloved celebrities we lost this year...



Happy New Year, everyone!
"Here's to another year of poor judgment and bad ideas, dollface"
"I told you, my name is Steve"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sometimes, justice is dumb

I'm a businessman and kind of a big deal so I have a lawyer on retainer. I retained his business card and will call him if and when I ever need some legalistic assistance (that's what that means, right?). I was very careful whan I selected my lawyer because there are some legal firms that I have no intention of dealing with, based solely on their name. I mean specifically the legal firms that list a person's name more than once. I do not care for that. You know what I mean. Firms like "Schwartz & Schwartz" or "Smith, Smith, Smith & Smith". This is a very stupid practice and one that is limited almost entirely to the naming of legal firms. If you ever walked into Dunkin' Donuts and said, "I'd like a medium coffee with sugar, sugar & sugar and cream & cream.", they'd call the cops on you.
My reason for avoiding legal firms that do this has less to do with it being dumb than it does with what I perceive as their skill level in mediating conflicts and settling matters effectively, which is the main reason anyone ever hires a lawyer...
"Well, we're all set to open. 'The Bartlett Law Firm'. Mom would be so proud! How exciting!"
"Yeah, sure, exciting for you maybe."
"What's the matter? You don't like the name? It's perfect! Simple, elegant, tells who we are and what we do..."
"Tells who you are and what you do. That's your name in giant letters. Nobody's gonna know a thing about me."
"What are you talking about? That's your name too. We're siblings. We have the same name."
"How is anybody supposed to know that? They just see 'Bartlett', assume it's you, doing great. Again. Where am I? Oh, probably huffing mineral spirits in an abandoned tenement building, as usual."
"Stop. That's crazy. For all you know, they could assume it's you and you're successful and I'm turning tricks behind the bus station to make enough money for a ticket to Jacksonville, except I'm really not interested in going to Jacksonville; I just like turning tricks behind the bus station."
"Well, see? Not such a nice feeling is it?"
"I guess you're right. So now what?"
"We're lawyers. We have law degress. We passed the bar exam. I'm sure we can figure out a way to solve this problem."
"Hey, I know!"

Friday, December 24, 2010

Buy the book: I'm a real, live author!

24 hours from now, I will be spending yet another holiday toiling away at my meaningless "job", performing unimportant tasks on behalf of an unappreciative employer in exchange for insultingly meager monetary compensation. But today, I'm gonna party like I'm David Sedaris! Because today, I'm celebrating the publishing of a book for which I was a contributing author!
The Handbook of the Writer Secret Society, edited by the brilliant Carrie Bailey of Peevish Penman Press, is available for sale as an ebook at Lulu.comAmazon.com and even overseas at Amazon.co.uk (that means it's available in english and English!). What is it? Just like the title says, it's a secret handbook for writers!

"The Handbook of The Writer Secret Society isn’t a how to book. There’s nothing on prose, or character development in there. What it is, is a shot in the arm for anyone who feels their writing confidence flagging, or that they’re the only one out there struggling with their creative impulses." -- from a review by Andrew Jack
Here's a brief trailer...




Just to be clear, this is not the National Novel Writing Month project I worked on in November (that's months, years, decades from seeing the light of day) and this isn't entirely "my" book, in that I didn't write the whole thing. I contributed, along with Andy Livingstone, Tony Noland, L Bushman and JJ McConnachie. It was edited by Carrie Bailey and Winonah Drake. Here, I'll just copy and paste what I wrote...
Oops! I forgot, I can't do that. There are contracts and lawyers and everything. Sorry. I'm still a relative novice at this whole "publish-not-for-free" concept.
So anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, one and all!
(PS: You know what's a great last-minute gift idea? An ebook. Just puttin' that out there)

I hope the sign company gave them a discount

"Wow, this place looks great! Let's take a peak at the menu...hey, who turned out the lights?"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Just one more thing we're going to have to explain some day

Some day, in the not too distant future, young people are going to come to us and ask why anybody ever thought the whole "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was ever a good idea. I am not looking forward to that day because I don't enjoy talking to young people now and I doubt that's a condition that's going to get better as I age. I'm also pretty sure I'm not going to have a very good answer.


25 years from now...

"Grandpa?"

"Yes, Joey?"

"We're studying history in school and learning that there was major controversy surrounding gays serving in the military."

"Yes, that is true."

"And why was that the case?"

"It's like this, Joey. You know how a man and a woman can love one another and become a daddy and a mommy? Well, sometimes two men or two women will--"

"I know what homosexuality is, grandpa. I'm 8, not stupid."

"Wait...if you're 8 and I'm your grandfather, then that means your mom or dad would have to have been born some time around when I was dating...."

"Grandpa, please? I want to understand why people thought it would be bad to have openly gay people volunteering to serve their country by enlisting in the military. Surely it couldn't have been because of the widely-held perception of gay men being overly effeminate and therefor not fit to serve in combat."

"Well, uh--"

"After all, even if a ridiculous stereotype like that were a valid concern, most positions in the military are based in logistics or support and relatively few service members ever actually face combat. And what does that say about women who have served, and continue to serve in combat?"

"Yeah. Um--"

"It's also difficult to rationalize how Bill Clinton, widely considered to be one of the 20th century's most progressive leaders, would be responsible for implementing an obviously discriminatory and unconstitutional policy like 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'. What, out of concern for the safety of closeted gay service members? That's downright hypocritical in light of the country's previous struggles with civil rights issues that took place a relatively short time before. What am I missing here, grandpa?"

"Are you sure I can't just explain homosexuality to you instead? I'd really be much more comfortable with that."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Saving us from ourselves

Boy, these automated video rental kiosks are fantastic, aren't they? This one is at my local Circle K, right down the street from my apartment. I can pop in on my way home from "work", get some gas, a gallon of milk, pick up a movie to enjoy at home and be on my way. Cheap, conveniently located, great selection, easy to use...uh-oh! What just happened? 
Oh shit! No! I accidentally selected "Killers" with Ashton Kutcher! Shit! It's coming out. What am I going to do?!? 
*Whew!* Oh, thank goodness! That was close.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Help me get my muffin (and fight cancer)

I'm here today to appeal to your sense of justice and fair play and good ol' doing the right thing. I have been insulted, wronged, besmirched, defamed and deprived of my just desserts...and I mean that last one literally.

Some background:
  • http://www.yborbunker.com/ is easily my favorite hangout in all of Tampa. I love everything about the place.
  • Tre Amici @ The Bunker in Ybor City recently named a sandwich ("The Hampton") after T. Hampton Dohrman, a regular customer.
  • Tre Amici @ The Bunker has named nothing after me, also a regular customer who is bigger than T. Hampton Dohrman.
  • This is T. Hampton Dohrman: "A musician-turned-accountant-turned-social-entrepreneur, Hampton works tirelessly to promote growth within the arts and cultural communities of Tampa Bay. At only 27, he has been lauded by alt-weekly newspaper Creative Loafing as an “inexhaustibly creative mind” and a “cultural crusader.” His work has already made a significant impact on the arts community." (from his bio at WEDU's "Be More" awards page, an honor for which he has been nominated and for which you can cast your vote right here
  • This is me: I write this blog.
In short, where the hell is my sandwich?

This was the question I posed to the proprietor, a Ms. Jessie Stehlik, via telephone call:
"WHERE THE HELL IS MY SANDWICH?"
"Okay, for starters do not yell at me."
"I AM NOT YELLING. I AM SPEAKING. SPEAKING THROUGH A BULLHORN, A HAND-HELD DEVICE THAT AMPLIFIES A PERSON'S VOICE. YELLING THROUGH IT IS NOT ONLY UNNECESSARY BUT COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE, AS IT DISTORTS THE SOUND, WHICH BASICALLY DEFEATS ANY REASONABLE PURPOSE OF AMPLIFYING ONE'S VOICE."
"Whatever it is, knock it off. Right now and I'm not kidding."
"I WILL NOT BE SILENCED! ARE YOU PREPARED TO HEAR MY GRIEVANCES?"
"I am prepared to hang up on you."
"I'LL TURN IT...OOPS, HOLd on...okay, I turned it off."
"Thank you."
"You're welcome. Now, where the hell is my sandwich?"
"Did you order a sandwich? I've told you a dozen times we don't deliver."
"No, I didn't order a sandwich. You wanna know why? Because I don't have a sandwich of my very own, like Hambone does (NOTE: I frequently refer to T. Hampton Dohrman 'Hambone'. I'm pretty sure he does not know this. Please do not tell him.). If I did, then I'd order it."
"Oh, you should try it! It's delicious!"
"There are limits to what I will or will not do--"
"I have yet to see any evidence of that being even remotely true--"
"I will not eat another man's sandwich! But you know what? I was down there today, and so was Hambone and he wasn't even eating his own sandwich! What the hell is that? You name a sandwich after the guy just so he can walk up to the counter and say, what, 'oh, yeah, my very own sandwich...no thanks...I'll have something else today'? I mean, what the hell is that?!?"
"Would you like a sandwich named after you?"
"Yes!"
"No."
"..."
"How about a muffin?"
"A muffin?!? Hell no, I don't want some damn...what kind of muffin?"
"I don't know. We could come up with something. We should talk about it."
"All right. I'm going down there tomorrow. And I'm bringing the bullhorn."
"Oh please don't bring the--"
"Hey, let me ask you something; does this sound like I'm hanging up? "




I showed up there this morning...yes, I brought the bullhorn. And a protest sign.

"I'm not getting out of the car if you start yelling at me again through that thing."
"I explained to you yesterday how it works and that one doesn't yell into it. Besides, I left it on last night and the batteries are dead."
"Okay, good."
"Yeah, whatever. So about my muffin...what's up?"
"I thought about your muffin last night--"
"(giggling) I bet you did!"
"Stop it or I'm getting back in the car. I thought about...this muffin situation and I'm not sure I can justify naming one after you, just because you want one."
"What?!? Why not?"
"I think there should be a good reason."
"You just listed one: because I want it!"
"How is that a good reason?"
"This is a reneg, that's what this is! Classic muffin reneg! You're lucky my bullhorn isn't working. I'd be yelling 'Reneggers! Reneggers! Bunch of no-good reneggers!' so the whole neighborhood could hear it."
"You're going to be really glad later that didn't happen."
"This is so unfair!"
"Listen, I'm not saying no. I just think there should be some justification. I think it should be tied to some act of good and not just to appease your sad, selfish desire for attention."

I'll skip what happened next because it wasn't really all that interesting. Just some back-and-forth negotiation and brainstorming The end result of which is that the naming of the Clark Muffin at Tre Amici @ The Bunker is a full-on, green light, go. With one condition; that my campaign to raise funds for Relay For Life this year meets or exceeds a total of $1500. Is this buying my way into immortality-via-baked-good? Not really, as I won't be paying that sum: I'm going to lean on you people to do it!

So officially, starting right now, I am hereby kicking off my 2011 Relay For Life (and name a muffin after me) campaign! 
In case you don't know how this works, it's simple. You can make a donation via my page on the American Cancer Society's secure web site right here. If you'd prefer to send a check, that's fine too. Any amount you can spare is great, because every little bit helps. I'll take anything I can get. Absolutely 100% of it goes directly to the American Cancer Society. Additionally, there will be a donation bucket at Tre Amici @ The Bunker (it's in their best interest for this to be a success too, trust me) and lots and lots and lots of updates and stuff (including but not limited to emails, phone calls and text messages to some of you lucky, lucky people) over the coming weeks.
So please help me. You know I'm serious about defeating cancer. You know I'm serious about sweet and/or savory baked treats. You know I've never really expressed interest one way or another about having stuff named after me before, but I'm more than willing to be into it for the sake of a good cause. Let's make it happen!
My negotiating skills are not to be underestimated.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas, from my "other side"

Since starting with SB Nation Tampa Bay a few months ago (where I'm now a contributing editor, thank you, thank you very much), I've generally kept what I do over there separate from whatever it is I do over here. But I thought I would share this story if for no other reason than you might get a kick out of the video. So enjoy!
Wish Granted: How The Belfast Giants Saved Christmas

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Win Prizes! Fight Cancer! Be Fabulous!

It's that time of year again; time to ramp up the annual Relay For Life shenanigans. For the fourth consecutive year, I will be participating in the Temple terrace Relay For Life event as a member of Team Daddy-O Alley Katz (previously mentioned here, here and here). We're kicking off the season with what I think will be our best fundraiser yet...
DRAG QUEEN BINGO!
Join us on Wednesday, January 26th, 7:30PM at Hamburger Mary's in Ybor City. $10 covers your Bingo (10 games, 30 cards and the use of an ink dauber). Our hostess will be the lovely, hilarious and charming Amy De Milo (mentioned previously on this blog here) and there will be a special appearance by the equally lovely, hilarious and charming Lynne Austin (featured previously on this blog here and here). It's going to be a raucous, rowdy night and we're hoping to raise a ton of cash. The proprietors of Hamburger Mary's donate 100% of the proceeds raised from bingo to our team, which means it all goes directly to the American Cancer Society. They can afford to do this because they make money off the food and drink, so come hungry. They have a full bar and a full menu. My recommendation? The Queen Mary Burger is outstanding. Hamburger Mary's also provides the prizes, and it's good stuff too. Bottles of wine, gift certificates. Definitely worth more than the $10 it costs to play.
Where else can you get a show, win prizes, hang out with fun people and fight friggin' cancer for $10? Nowhere, that's where! That's why you should join us!

Drag Queen Bingo, a Fundraiser for Team Daddy-O Alley Katz, on behalf of Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society
Wednesday, January 26th, 2010, 7:30PM
Hamburger Mary's, Ybor City
1600 E. 7th Avenue (2nd Floor)

You can RSVP (not necessary) via Facebook here or at BrandTampa here.

Of course, if you can't attend and still want to donate to the cause, I'll gladly take your most-appreciated donation right here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A new holiday tradition

I was thinking recently, what is this blog missing? What would make it better? What would enhance the overall entertainment experience for my loyal, discerning readers? I mean, aside from worthwhile, well-written content that serves some kind of purpose. The answer (aside from that whole thing) was obvious: an animated holiday special! Charlie Brown has one. The Grinch has one. The Simpsons have some. Even freakin' Garfield had one. Now I got one! This fills me with pride, joy and Christmas cheer and I look forward to years from now when people will tell me they grew up watching it year after year as kids with their families. The only snag is it's totally inappropriate for children, so there's that. Oh well.



BONUS CHRISTMASITUDE: By popular demand from RottenMom, here's this...
Merry Christmas! From me, my sweet-ass jacket and my watermelon slush from Sonic

Friday, December 10, 2010

My commencement address to the acorns (aka "Nature's law students")

Good afternoon, acorns. We are gathered here today, and there are so, so many of you gathered <pause for laughter>, to celebrate your future, which begins now. The world you enter today is a place of uncertainty. Technology, the economy and social structures are evolving all over the world, even as we speak, dramatically impacting us all. Well, not so much you, since you're acorns. Very few of those things will affect your futures in the slightest way, at least directly. As a result, your future has actually been pretty much determined well before you were born.
Now, while it's true that each and every one of you here today possesses all the necessary attributes it takes to become a mighty oak tree, it is also true that most of you will not achieve that status. This might seem like sad, sobering news...and maybe it is, to you. But not for the rest of us. In fact, we're kinda counting on it.
You see, oak trees are massive things. They're one of nature's most impressive creations. But they're so massive and impressive that we can't possibly accommodate all of your wishes to become one. Look how many of you are here on this tiny plot of land right now. Now look how many oak trees are already here, like the one you just fell from. There simply isn't the need.
Now take a look around at your fellow classmates: the odds are, thankfully, that they're not going to make it. Now look at yourself: neither are you, God willing. See, the system we have in place allows any individual to be successful, but can not sustain itself if every individual is successful. So not only does everybody not get to be an oak tree, almost nobody gets to be one. Sorry.
However, we do have squirrels that need to eat, as well as other wild animals, like raccoons. Do raccoons eat acorns? I don't even know. But I guess you'll find out. The lucky ones, anyway. Many of you won't even achieve the status of foodstuff for rodents. You'll be stepped on, run over by cars, washed down storm drains, rendered into pulpy mush. But you're completely bio-degradable and for that, we thank you. Stay green!
In closing, and to sum up, I just want to say that as much as we appreciate the majesty of a beautiful, soaring oak tree, what we really need from most of you, almost all of you, in fact, no, scratch that, I really mean every single last one of you, is to fail and fail miserably. I have no doubt that you will.
Thank you and good luck...but not really.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

This is one of my favorite things


Oh hi, Hammerin' Hank!
As I am having a far less shitty holiday season than I had anticipated (projections based on results of last couple of years), I decided last night to go ahead and put up a Christmas tree. It's loaded with baseball player and superhero ornaments...because I'm a 12-year-old. I realized I missed my old ornaments. It was kind of like finding lost toys. So between seeing them again plus my sweet Santa jacket (Oh, did I not mention that after a quest that took years, I finally acquired a Santa Claus jacket to use as my winter coat, not because I want to be Santa but just because I think his uniform is straight pimpin' or whatever stupid catchphrase the kids say these days? Well, I did. And it's everything I thought it would be and more.), I was feeling pretty festive, but not completely. I went for a drive with friends to drink hot cocoa and look at people's ostentatious Christmas light displays and that made me feel even more festivular, but still not completely. Something was missing but I couldn't put my finger on it...

Ah yes, now I have achieved full-on festividness!

And if Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and Fishbone don't get you into the spirit you're seeking, my sincere hope is that you find what does.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Something for hunters to think about


Interesting reaction. Mine, were I to ever find myself in a similar situation, which is highly unlikely, would be more like, well, something like this...

Friday, December 03, 2010

This happened, damn it

A few weeks ago, my phone rang around 8:00 AM. On the other end was a woman I know (I'll refer to by the fake name of Susan), mostly from working together off and on over the years. I guess you could say she's a friend. We're not close. She's not someone I would call at 8:00 AM. I still don't know why she called me. But regardless, she did. Obviously extremely upset, Susan told me that she'd gotten in a fight with her husband, an incident that she described as "the worst thing that's ever happened" in their relationship, and they've been together for over 15 years. She needed to get out, didn't have a place to go and asked if I would help. I said sure. I was able to arrange lodging for her and her two kids at a nearby hotel, making the reservation under a false name so that a desk clerk couldn't accidentally reveal her location if someone scouring all the local hotels were to call and ask for her. The next thing I did was got in touch with a couple of friends who I thought might be able to offer assistance.
It's odd the way things work out in life, in regards to the environment we create and the people with whom we surround ourselves. For instance, there's absolutely nothing in my work or educational background or even family history that would link me in any way to domestic violence. Yet through seemingly random social interactions over a period of time, through no conscious intent or manipulation, it turns out that I'm connected to a network of people who are ideally suited to deal with a situation like this, people who either work, or have worked for agencies that provide assistance or are one phone call away from somebody who is. I became friends with these people the same way anybody becomes friends with whoever they're friends with. Odd. But ultimately, even though it's a complete mystery as to why she called me, it turned out to be a pretty good idea. People who didn't know her or even the full details of her situation were volunteering to help in any way needed, all from one early morning phone call. It was amazing.
At some point, we looked up the husband's arrest record (which here in Hillsborough County, is extremely easy to do) and found a lot. Nothing relating to domestic violence or even any assault and battery but still, tons of bad stuff. My friends suggested that I be careful in my dealings with Susan, in light of what we found out about the husband. I reminded them that I have never been one to engage in any kind of reckless activity for the sake of proving I have a functional penis and that any perceived lack of fear on my part for my own well-being has less to do with any kind of false machismo than it does with the confidence that comes from the knowledge that I actually am extremely cautious and will take all possible steps to avoid dangerous situations. If I do end up in some kind of physical confrontation, it's only because it absolutely couldn't be avoided otherwise. I am a huge fan of calling the cops and do so all the time. That, and if I ever do have to fight, I won't hesitate to cheat and fight dirty.
I met Susan at the hotel and it was pretty obvious to me that there had been some physical violence. However, not being an expert (for all I knew, her face could have been puffy from a long night of crying), I asked if there had been and she said yes. I outlined for her all the assistance that this network of concerned friends of mine could make available to her. She said thanks and that at the time she just wanted to get some rest and think about what to do next, which seemed reasonable. She stayed at the hotel a few days and then left to tend to some family business out of state. I didn't hear from her after that. She didn't take me up on any of the options I had offered on behalf of my friends. So I called her yesterday to see what was happening.
She told me that she had gone back home, with her husband. They had talked about it, he was going to get counselling and in retrospect, the incident "really wasn't all that bad." It all sounded like a conversation you'd find in a script for some made-for-tv movie. I'm not an expert but I know these things rarely get better and I told her that. I also asked her to keep my number handy and not to hesitate to call me again if she needed anything, anything at all. She said she would and that she'd keep in touch. 
I hung up, sad and a little angry. Sad for her, angry at the universe. After all, what was the point of putting this whole thing in motion, with one person calling another person with whom they have a slight, tenuous connection, discovering that person just happens to have access to the exact right answers, only to have the first person not take advantage of those circumstances? Stupid universe. 
Somebody will try to say it's a small part of a bigger picture but I don't see it.

Anyway, if you're reading this and your situation is even remotely similar and you need help, whether you're a man or a woman, seek it out. Ask somebody. There are people who can and will help you. I'm one of them.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Welcome to Ridiculously Inconsistent Films!

This is a short animated film I made, the first of many I plan on sharing with you here. I hope you enjoy it.

It was created at xtranormal.com, where you can create your own movies too. I'm going to try to do one every two weeks or so. You'll be able to find them at YouTube too, but they'll "premiere" here first.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Guest Blogger: Dusty Showers

Today's guest blogger submission comes from one of the most unique individuals I know, my pal Dusty Showers. Dusty is the owner and operator of Creepy Creatures Pest And Wildlife Busters, a pest control company that specializes in removing all manner of scaly, furry, multi-legged, toothy monsters from your abode...but lovingly (Dusty is a big fan of opossums). He is also a tireless warrior in the ongoing battle against cancer, specifically breast cancer, and is the brains behind The 2nd Basemen. He's a frequent participant in Komen 3-Day "Race For The Cure" events, with plans to have walked 120 miles during 2010 and . He usually does so wearing a pink cowboy hat and a bra. He was even featured on Oprah where Tim Gunn gave him a makeover, but it didn't take. I admire him a great deal. So much so, that I'm going to co-opt his name when I start doing gay porn, assuming that someone hasn't already done so. Here's Dusty's contribution to the big, dumb purple blog...


Rambling of The Pink Bra’ed Boy




Wow, so I guess this would be considered my first time as “guest writer.” Really a bit more pressure than first anticipated. Ok, here it goes…by the way, Clark, I want to wish you luck in rehab..eh hem, I mean at the “Resort.” That last bender with Charlie Sheen and the chandelier was one we will talk about for some time. Until you are “released on your own recognizance” (I believe that is another way of saying “complete the program”) we will be sure to keep your blog full of stuff that is sure to ensure others that their life is not as bad as they thought.


This writing style is a treat for me though I’m not really sure that “style” is accurate as much as “Literary train wreck filled with quotes and pregnant pauses…” I prefer to write as I think…so please read slow, check Facebook, pee and eat some eggs or something as you read so that you may keep the proper tone.


I am an advocate for the fight against breast cancer, in fact I am the most recognizable man in the breast cancer world. Perhaps it is because I am bald. Maybe because I wear a pink cowboy hat…but most likely it is because about 5 or so years ago some women thought it would be funny for me to wear a pink bra during a Susan G. Komen 3 Day 60 Mile Walk. Then they did it again…and again. Before I knew it, custom made bras were being sent to me from all over the country. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was watching myself on Oprah with in a pink bra and chaps along with Tim Gunn. Maybe I should clarify, I was on “Oprah” the show…while I hugged and kissed Oprah…I was not actually ON her…and I had the chaps on, not Tim.


Much if not all of what I write is either inspirational or in some way advocating the fight against breast cancer. While never clinical, it is not necessarily funny or witty. I certainly am not bold enough to claim that anything I write here in this piece is either funny, witty or entertaining and while I occasionally I use sarcasm….I would NEVER imply that the writing is too deep for you…I would hate to find out that it is actually too shallow for you and while I sit here doing my best Andy Rooney as I write…only to find that I’m just some poser with a pen and a pc.


So I still haven’t actually written anything and I have taken 4 paragraphs to not do so. During the day thoughts run through my head of what I will write here. Exciting things, things you would totally enjoy reading…most likely Pulitzer Prize winning material only to find that after a long day of fighting breast cancer, catching snakes and chasing opossums…I am seized by writer’s block. I believe the best way to do this is just a bit of stream of conscious…see, I have many, many short, short stories. Really too short to do anything with; I have been saving them, not quite knowing what to do with them…until now. Thank you Clark for the opportunity to share my shortest of short, often pointless stories. Normally, I write while listening to music that makes me feel emotional…cathartic…but currently, it’s Public Enemy on Pandora.


As a kid, Maurice Sendek, author of “Where the Wild Things Are” lived up the road. When I was 8 years old I had to call him because I thought one of his dogs found his way to my house….it turned out to not be his dog.


Around the same age, my family always gave my t-ball teammate Suzy a ride to t-ball because her parents were always busy as writers for the soap opera, The Young and the Restless. Shortly after I moved away, the show introduced a character about my same age named “Dusty.” For years we rumored that the character may be been named after me. Recently, through the advent of Facebook, I was re-introduced to Suzy. I asked her about this super awesome story. After talking with her parents, she reported back that it was very unlikely. Sometimes it’s best to not know the truth.


Professionally, I am a humane wildlife trapper. As a greenhorn learning the trade in the Chicago area I trapped raccoons from Walter Payton’s attic. I will never forget being 23 years old and hearing the secretary say “Dusty, Walter is on the phone for you.”


I have worked for some pretty cool cats. Pitcher Scott Sanderson, some other Chicago Bears(forgot their names), William Wrigley Jr. The Wrigley house was amazing. Cement chimneys throughout the attic, filled with raccoons…iron “I beams” holding up the roof. Then there was the time I worked for Trent Dilfer. Trent was the quarterback for the Buccaneers at the time. Trent had a great family, especially a young son named Trevin. My youngest daughter Tegan was the same age. Trent would call Trevin “T-Bone.” So one day I went home and started calling Tegan “T-bone.” I have two daughters, no sons. Having boys has never been important to me but I have joked to my girls about it. Calling Tegan “T-Bone” was one of those ways…the name has since morphed into “Boney”…or “Boney Butt.” In 2003 Trevin died of a hear t condition. Nearly every time I call Tegan “Boney”, I think about little Trevin running around and what a loss it was for such a good family.


Then there was the time I crawled into someone’s attic to look at a pest situation. I saw luggage all over that said “Blue Jays” and “Red Sox.” Living in the Tampa area we have one or two baseball players that take up residence here. After seeing the bags, I asked the older gentleman if he was a ball player…”Yes, I’m the manager for the Red Sox.” “Oh, THAT Jimmy Williams” I thought about saying…but I didn’t. I felt like a dork; I apparently don’t follow baseball that closely. Regardless, Jimmy was great.


When I was 17 I travelled to South America to play soccer for 3 weeks with a Puma national team. We had guys from all over the country. The highlight of the trip was spending the afternoon at Pele’s house in Santo’s Brazil. This was actually my second time meeting the King of Soccer. On a side note, Joe Max-Moore was my teammate. Joe went on to be a star on the World Cup Team and a leading scorer for Everton in England. This was my first time seeing the poverty of the world…it was also my first time seeing what a head of blonde curly hair on a 17 year old American boy will do a dark haired 18 year old Brazilian girl…wow…


There are some lessons you learn the hard way…one of my most memorable lessons was…when chasing a skunk, be sure to close your eyes and your mouth. Check that…probably best to just not chase skunks. I’ve learned that you can love hard and you can love easy but it is difficult to do both…I’ve learned that one may have a passion, albeit it may be something you never would have guessed it would have ever been. I’ve learned that sometimes you can write in such a way that you can say so much, in such a way…that by using the words “in which”and “in such”, twisting and turning your sentences in such a way that you can…in one fell swoop of a run-on sentence…in which you actually say nothing in such a way that it almost sounds intelligent. I’ve learned that the irony of purposefully misspelling a word in order to be humorous is risky if the reader is neither witty nor literate. I’ve also learned that “irony” is one of those words that people use to sound intelligent…though they often don’t know what irony really is…which is ironic…I think.


Masterpiece Theatre is coming on now so I’ll wrap this up….crap, it’s a re-run…Family Guy it is then. Clark, you are a loved, gentle man…and seeing that you have invited not only me…but Lynne Austin to commandeer your blog…you are clearly also a man of questionable decisions; regardless…thank you.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Beware, Black Friday shopperssssss!

If shopping is America's favorite participatory sport, and it so is, then today is the World Series, Super Bowl and Stanley Cup, all-in-one and on sale for $12 while supplies last. Many of you are already either in line waiting to get into some of the country's biggest and best (those two words mean exactly the same thing today) retailers or have already gotten inside and begun your shopping, meaning it's entirely possible that you are reading this on a handheld electronic device that may very well be on sale for a fraction of what you paid for it inside the store you are currently visiting.
How fun!
Regardless, my role as The Voice of Reason is to remind you to be careful out there today. Some of these stores engage in bait-and-switch tactics ("yes, we did have a limited quantity of the 96" plasma flat screen tv's on sale for a nickel each but they're all sold out...yes, I'm aware that I just unlocked the door and the keys are still in my hand and that the door isn't even completely open all the way and that you and several other shoppers are currently trampling me to death...ow, that was my groin...but unfortunately, they, like myself soon, are long gone") while others are even more nefarious. For instance, check out the holiday decorations at this well known store...

Hmm, where have we seen those ornaments before...?
Sssssssavingsssssss!
Don't let the cartoon terrorists win!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An issue that threatens to tear this country apart!

We're at a crossroads, people. Worse, we're in a standoff at that crossroads. Which way do we go? Who goes first? Who's right? Who's wrong? Who's that behind me and why are they honking their horn?
We are a nation divided and it hurts me. Inside, where I am squishy and from whence I wax poetic (What? You don't believe I wax poetic? I wax! I wax all the time!). That's where it hurts me, all deep down in my emotions and stuff.
I'm not talking about anything that the Democranks or Republican'ts or Tea Partitions are doing. This issue isn't prog or con, neo or otherwise. It's bigger than that.
I'm talking, of course, about the Target holiday ads on tv and the fact that in spite of many people, myself included, enjoying them, some people don't. As in really, really don't. For example, my friend Michael Noble chimes in with a critique here at CliqueClack.com.
The ads, in case you haven't seen them, feature my favorite comedian, Maria Bamford portraying a neurotic, obsessive-compulsive, passive-aggressive character who seems to view holiday shopping (and the holidays themselves) as some sort of competition. Obviously, she's holding up a mirror to society. But instead of recognizing the image in the mirror as a reflection of ourselves, some see an enemy and attack. Like dogs or exceptionally stupid toddlers.
Here's one of the ads. Check it out for yourself...

Now, to be fair, I can see the commercials being annoying to some. Simply because all commercials are annoying on some level or another. But when it comes to Maria Bamford, who graciously gave this very blog an interview, I consider myself not only a fan but a friend. That's right, I said it! 
Look! We had our picture taken together. Clearly she's a good person
So I would just ask that you check out some of her work outside of the Target commercials before passing judgment on a performer I consider a genius. Such as this clip, which just happens to be particularly relevant to the holiday season...

Look, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying everybody has to like what I like, I'm just saying I will think less of you if you don't. That's all.
Happy holidays!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy (Early) Thanksgiving

I find myself sitting here on Thanksgiving eve with something tangible and timely for which to be thankful: the fantastic roster of talented people who helped me out as guest bloggers this month.
If I had a tv show, it would probably be a lot like this blog, with goofy comedy, observations on politics and pop culture, interviews and exposure to offbeat entertainment. In other words, a late night talk show. So when I decided to particpate in National Novel Writing Month, an activity I knew would dominate my focus, I stole the idea of having guest hosts from the late, great Johnny Carson. I figured it would be a lot more fun to share some new and different writers and artists with people than to just shut it down for a month (and hope that readers would still be there or at least come back when I started it back up). If it was good enough for Johnny, it was good enough for me. As it turns out, it's been more successful than I had hoped. As in too successful. Johnny Carson never had to worry that Joan Rivers would be so great that his audience would be disappointed when he returned. So now I find myself with 50,000 words (almost, still got another week to go) in a big pile that somewhat resembles a novel and a significantly raised bar here at the ol' purple blog. Great. Thanks. Thanks a lot.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Guest Blogger: Roxanne Wilder

Today's guest blogger is Roxanne Wilder, Entertainment Reporter & Movie Critic for DisasterDateNight.com. And what is that exactly? Why, it's just your #1 spot for movie reviews, entertainment news and celebrity interviews, tailored to those making social plans. Not sure if the new flick about zombies taking over a nuclear submarine is a good choice to see on a first date with someone? Roxanne will tell you (hint: it is, if the date is with me). It's where you can get the inside scoop so you can make informed entertainment choices and ensure that your date nights are successful (well, I think you will probably have to put forth a little effort to make sure that happens, but you get the idea).
Here's Roxanne's review of "Due Date", the comedy smash starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis that's in theaters right now.

Director Todd Phillips hit it out of the park with his blockbuster comedy, “Hangover”. It's the kind of film you watch and when you hear a funny line, you think, "I've got to remember that and make it part of my repertoire of funny things to say," but before you can commit the joke to memory, an even funnier line is delivered. That being said, Phillips recent project, “Due Date”, includes moments that are as funny as “Hangover's” gut-splitting scenes, but it fails to keep that tempo throughout the film. It's your garden variety buddy love movie pairing Robert Downey Jr.'s character, Peter Highman, and Zach Galifianakis', Ethan Tremblay, on an unplanned road trip from Atlanta to L.A. (so Peter can get there on time to witness the birth of his first child) after Ethan unwittingly entices Peter into using the words 'bomb' and 'terrorist' on the plane, and the duo are abruptly taken off of the flight.


I never doubted that Downey Jr.'s and Galifianakis' performances would be anything less than stellar. Downey plays a neurotic, straight-laced dad-to-be, and I bought every second of it, except when Peter said, "I've never done a drug in my life." Riiiiiight. (That line snapped me back to reality, and I had a flashback to a Downey Jr. mug shot.) For Galifianakis, the pressure must have been on after playing the memorable comedic character, Alan, in “Hangover.” But Ethan is every bit as simultaneously annoying and affable.

Comedy scriptwriters, as of late, are inclined to infuse a story that the viewer is anticipating will be a laugh-a-thon with moments that are sad/heartwarming/endear-you-to-the-characters. It works well in romantic comedies (think “Life As We Know It”) and dysfunctional family comedies (“Little Miss Sunshine”), but I didn’t buy some of the contrived sappiness that “Due Date” served me. About two thirds of the way into the film and after one two many “woe is me I had a tough childhood” or “I miss my deceased parent” lines, I started doing the math on how many more miles they had to cover: “Okay, if they’re at the Grand Canyon now, they’ve got about eight hours left to get to L.A. in real time… how about in movie time?” In other words, get to the hospital already and wrap this baby up.

The big question that Disaster Date Night loves to answer for you --- Do you want to take a date to see this movie? In most cases, yes. Guys, I wouldn't qualify it as a first date movie if your date seems to error on the prissy side. The gratuitous masturbation scene (something Hollywood can't seem to live without in comedies --- a trend that caught on after Ben Stiller's, Ted, made the most of his byproduct by using it as hair gel in “Something About Mary”) is something I could have lived without. There are certain things I don't want to picture many people doing, including Zach Galifianakis, and now, thanks to “Due Date”, I have that image in my head. One of the most humorous scenarios in the film pertained to Jamie Fox's character's close “friendship” with Peter's wife. The set-up kept you wondering until the end of the film “who the baby daddy?” Ladies, if you've got any of those issues with your man (in other words, if your child's paternity is in question), this film might open up some old wounds. Skip it. Overall, “Due Date” satisfied me the way a comedy should but didn't leave me with a post-viewing gratifying stomachache from laughing like “Hangover” did.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Guest Blogger: Jordi Scrubbings

Who's the cat with the 'fro? If you've seen him out and about around various events in the Tampa Bay area and pondered that question, the answer is Jordi Scrubbings, who regularly holds court at JordiScrubbings.com. You may have also seen him doing stand-up comedy at the Improv under the name Mike Lortz. And if you're seeing him right now on this blog, it's because he's today's guest blogger. Check it out...

Thanks for the introduction, Clark.



I’ve noticed so far this has been a smorgasbord of mindless philosophizing and meandering postulation.

I should fit in well.

Today I want to talk about something that affects us all. A plague upon our society. A scar on our collective wellbeing.

I want to talk about labels.

No, not the labels that make the jacket you want cost five times more in a store in the mall than it would at a bookleg corner market. And not the labels we attach to other people through stereotyping, innuendo, or other sociological shortcuts.

I’m talking about the hundreds of mailing labels that arrive in your mailbox from charities every holiday season. Along with sticky notes, notepads, calendars, and other sorts of “freetionary” (free + stationary = “freetionary”), these labels are supposed to be an incentive for you to give.

Apparently, some ivory tower economist somewhere told these charities that if people get something, they are more likely to give something.

The problem, however, is that while I can use the notepads and sticky notes and even the calendars, I have only have use for a limited amount of labels. After that, they have a value that decreases in utility and increases in annoyance.

Considering I only send out approximately six pieces of mail a month, I have enough labels for 150 months of outgoing mail.

Or 12.5 years.

And that’s if I don’t move from my apartment before 2023.

For those counting at home, that’s 900 stickers with my name and address. And I have only lived in my apartment for two years. Imagine how much larger my collection would be if I lived here longer.

So before this year’s flock of freetionary arrives, I’ve been trying to devise a plan to rid myself of all but a handful of labels. Maybe I could send them back to where they came from. I’d send the USO 113, the March of Dimes 89, MADD 40, Feeding America 36, AMVETS 24, the American Diabetes Association 95, the USA Olympic team 170, and the Disabled American Veterans 330. Maybe I could start a movement like those folks who sent AOL all those damn Free Hours CDs that had a kudzu-like stranglehold on our culture in the 1990s.

Maybe I could actually use the labels. I could put one in every public bathroom I use. Restaurants, truck stops, sports stadiums – it could be my way of marking my territory. Kinda like a graffiti artist, except without the spray paint or artistic ability.

Or maybe I’ll label on everything I own. That would be great for insurance purposes, right?

I’ll put one on the TV, one on the recliner, and even one on each of my 683 Star Wars figures.

This way if I ever lose Yoda, how to mail him back to me whoever finds him will know.