Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
When you suffer from depression, you appreciate any day when things happen that make you feel really good because, well, if nothing else, it’s one day where you don’t feel bad. I had one of those the other day.
I was approached by a company looking for a script for a corporate training video and so I submitted a rough draft with the hope of making a good showing and possibly getting a gig out of it. To my amazement, they loved it so much that they bought it! I was astonished. Honestly, the best I had hoped for was that they would come back and say, “Yes, very nice, you’ve got the job. Now go back and polish this up and send it in again for another review.” Never in a million, billion years did I ever expect anybody to pay me for what I considered a rough draft. Of course, I was thrilled and flattered. Funny thing though; the script was for a training video to teach employees about gender discrimination and illustrated right and wrong behavior in an office environment and featured three male characters and one female. Since it was just a rough draft, I didn’t put a lot of work into character development, including the characters names. So I named them Mac, Dennis, Charlie and Dee after the main characters on my favorite show, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” which is all about wildly inappropriate behavior. Now I’m hoping that they shoot the script exactly as written and that at least one person sitting in a corporate training session someday recognizes the reference and has to stifle giggles.
Anyway, between that and the Rays winning (again), it was a very good day.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
"There's a...a bone in my coleslaw."
"No kidding. And and weird."
"Not that weird at all. Have you ever seen how they make that stuff?"
"Sure I have. It's cabbage and carrots and mayo and vinegar. Why in the world would there be a bone in coleslaw?"
"You got your big food manufacturers, operating around the clock, trying to meet the nation's insatiable demand for coleslaw. The slicers are probably enormous, operating at extremely high speed, like jet turbines in facilities the size of the Astrodome. Then you get some overworked, undereducated operator, he's worried about making his mortgage payment and then he gets yelled at by the plant supervisor because they're behind schedule. He gets careless and the next thing you know, he loses a finger. Even if he tells somebody about it, which he might not, depending on the finger and how badly he needs his job, they're not going to shut down and dump out a whole enormous vat of coleslaw just because some jamoke screwed up and lost a pinky finger in it. And next thing you know, you find a bone in yours."
"Very, very, very little of what you just said sounds reasonable. And yet, I don't think I want to eat any more."
"Relax, man. It's just a chicken bone. I put it there when you got up to get me a napkin."
"Well, now I really don't want to eat it."
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
What? - A page on Facebook's web site, created using the "Groups" application, dedicated to this joke: "DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE (sic). YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH (sic) FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN." Apparently, the Lord also took the user's spellcheck and access to the Caps Lock key. But anywho. Facebook's description of the application's function says, "With Facebook Groups, you can join and create up to 200 groups. Groups can be based around shared interests, activities, or anything you like. The Groups application page displays your recently updated groups as well as groups your friends have joined recently." Facebook users can indicate their support or approval of a Group by clicking a button that says "Like" (formerly "Become a fan of"). The number of users who do this is stored and displayed on the Group's front page.
Why? - Because there's a page on Facebook's web site, created using the "Groups" application, dedicated to every goddamn conceivable (or not) concept imaginable, such as "I like strawberries" (25 Likers) and "I don't like strawberries" (6 Likers...er, unLikers) and even "I use my cell phone to see in the dark" (2 Groups, over 3.5 million Likers combined, and no, I'm not kidding). I'm willing to bet there's a Group titled "I wipe with my left hand even though I'm right-handed" and over a hundred people like it but I am not willing to look it up for you. Sorry.
No, I mean why does this exist? - Oh. Sorry. Well, either because people really, really, really think that joke is hilarious or they really, really, really hate President Obama (I have a feeling we all know which one is the case). And because they can. "While it may be considered distasteful and objectionable to some, the Facebook page in question does not violate our policies," said Andrew Noyes, Facebook's manager of public policy communications. That policy is as follows: "Note: groups that attack a specific person or group of people (e.g. racist, sexist, or other hate groups) will not be tolerated. Creating such a group will result in the immediate termination of your Facebook account." So while this Group does indeed mention "a specific person", apparently it's not considered "hate" or an "attack", presumably because it's a joke or a prayer or a joke of a prayer and therefor, harmless. Somebody should ring the idiots at the Westboro Baptist Church and let them know about this right away.
When? - This particular Group started on April 10th, about two weeks ago, and as I'm writing this, 1,094,824 registered Facebook users have gone on record as Liking it. Of course, while we're discussing "When", it should be noted that this isn't fresh material; hackers back in January got into Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's web site and posted "Dear God, In 2009 you took my favorite singer -- Michael Jackson, my favorite actress -- Farrah Fawcett, my favorite actor -- Patrick Swayze, my favorite voice -- Neda. Please, please, don't forget my favorite politician -- Ahmadinejad -- and my favorite dictator -- Khamenei -- in the year 2010." Maybe Carlos Mencia is behind it?
Who? - You mean who did it? Nobody knows. It was posted anonymously (shocker!) by someone who just listed a city (Marysville, Ohio) and zip code (43040). Although I suspect that it would be pretty easy to find out. Enjoy those tax audits, Marysville! Who's liking it? Over a million, possibly a lot more by the time you read this, angry and increasingly bent out of shape people.
Where? - All over the place, since Facebook is available worldwide and a public group like this is open to anyone who wants to participate. Although, taking into consideration how dominant Facebook is in social media traffic, while a million of anything is a lot, a million or so people participating in something like this isn't that big of a deal. Remember, more than twice that many people want you to know that dumb old light bulbs can kiss their asses as long as they have their trusty cell phone shining like a beacon in the darkness. But it's certainly enough for us to get upset about, so by all means, carry on.
What next? - The trial of public opinion has already begun and has already taken the track that all public discourse seems to follow these days: The plaintiffs cry foul, the defendants respond with "It's free speech" and "You started it", followed by several volleys of "Did not, Did too" before devolving into name calling, middle finger extending, placard waving, boycott threatening and nothing resolving. This continues until the next big thing rolls along in about a week or so.
That pretty much covers it. You're welcome.
Friday, April 23, 2010
What happens is I go into these funks (that's what I call them) where I become mercilessly self-critical, focusing intently on any and all flaws and errors and talking myself into believing...not thinking, believing...that I am the most useless, unnecessary and insignificant so-called human being wandering around, wasting resources, good will and time while providing no value of any kind whatsoever to any people who actually matter. It gets to the point where I say, aloud, really horrible things about and to myself (like that last sentence, actually), tearing myself to pieces and reducing myself to a twitching bundle of raw nerves, hopeless, helpless and spending every available second lying in bed. These periods come and go without any real stimulus, at least that I can pinpoint. I'm always seconds away from it coming on or going away (as I write this, I feel like I'm on an upswing). Lately though, they come on more frequently, last longer and are more intense, which is what spurred the visit to the doctor.
The doctor recommended (along with the suggestion to hire myself a sitter) that I see a therapist. Two problems with that:
- I don't have the kind of insurance that covers therapy and don't have a lot of scratch laying around.
- I've tried therapy, more than once, and have never gotten good results: the first attempt ended when the therapist suggested I could get a discount in exchange for a hook-up for concert tickets. The last one ended before it started when I showed up at the office for my first appointment and found that they had moved, a fact not mentioned on their web site where I got the address (maybe I was wrong, but I took that as a bad sign). As a result of these interactions, I've come to view therapists the same way I view teachers (and some cops): It's a profession whose members enjoy a reputation greater than what's truly deserved because of the efforts of a few dedicated, concerned individuals who do amazing things on behalf of people who come to them for help while a majority of the rest of them are just coasting along in the wake. Sorry, but that's my experience.
The doctor suggested that the problem could be an internal chemical imbalance that could be corrected or at least aided with medication. I'm scared to death (ha ha!) of these new medications that seem to pass through the FDA with little more than a cursory wave of a rubber stamp as long as there is a long, horrific disclaimer about all the possible negative side effects, especially the anti-depressants that may increase thoughts of suicide (would Sears be allowed to sell a lawn mower that may very rarely cause the spontaneous growth of Poison Ivy? I doubt it). I'm not trying to make excuses for not getting treatment, merely listing my concerns and limitations.So I agonized for a few days whether or not to write about the situation. It took a while because there are pros and cons to such an undertaking...
- It's pretty personal and there are all kinds of things that can go wrong with putting deeply personal information out on the internet.
- Who the **** do I think I am? Jesus, get over myself.
- It's not very funny.
- Maybe there's some therapeutic value in writing about it. Since I can't afford a professional to sit there and listen to me talk about myself, maybe this will suffice as a reasonable substitute.
- If I'm going to be honest as a writer, with myself and an audience, it's kind of disingenuous to not discuss a condition that is pretty significant influence on me and my opinions.
- Maybe it can help somebody else. I don't know. That would be nice though.
Anyway, I'm writing about it and I'll do it from time to time as needed/if necessary. I'm not doing it to hear "oh, poor baby" or "you're sooo brave". Fact of the matter is I'm (currently) incapable of accepting sentiment or praise like that anyway, which is a big part of the problem. I'll title and label any and all posts dealing with this topic with "The Big D", so if you want to skip over them and come back for the fart and dick jokes, you can. Go ahead. I won't mind and completely understand. Thanks.
PS: And special thanks to my pal Jane for giving me crucial, critical advice about doing this.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
If you can't see the video here, click this link.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Here are the merchants plying their wares.
Still don't get it? Me neither. My friends think it's cool. I find it creepy.
But if you're looking for something a little trippier, well, cross the sidewalk, man...
Can you, like, imagine how much cooler his art would be if he, like, didn't wear the oxygen mask, man?
Let's see what's for sale further down the pier. Trinkety trinkets, baubley baubles, spangly, dangly. Yes, yes, very pretty, very...hold the phone, Louise!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Since it is so uncommon, it's also unfamiliar and unexpected to many ears that hear it the first time I say it. "Bart? Did you say your name was Bart?", "Mark, was it?" "Huhwhatnow, Art?". But usually, once we get past that, it's easy to remember.
My current full-time employment situation requires me to work a job where I have to wear a name tag. Here's the thing about name tags: Companies that make their employees wear them would have you believe that their intent is to form an instant bond of familiarity between the employees and their customers, that this makes interactions between the two more personal and that's really what the company is all about.
This is, of course, utter bullshit.
The purpose of a name tag is so there can be accountability brought to bear when one of the lower-downs fails to please a customer:
"Excuse me, I think one of your employees just meowed at me!"
"I'm very, very sorry ma'am. Which one was it?"
"I don't know...he had glasses."
"He should have been wearing a company-issued name tag. Try to think and remember what it said..."
"Ah yes, Bob. That figures. Again, I'm very sorry. That is unacceptable."
"Are you going to go over there and do something about it?"
"No need. 25 meters away? I can easily take him out from here..."
That's why companies make their employees wear name tags.
So of course, being the good, compliant, completely non-essential team member that I am, I was wearing my little company-issued name tag yesterday when three different times...THREE!...I was addressed face-to-face by customers as "Carl". Which led me to two questions:
- Just how mush do you have to care about the individual with whom you're conversing to completely disregard a friggin' sign that the individual is required to pin to their clothing?
- Just how good does it feel to have your lack of worth and complete insignificance validated by complete strangers?
The answer to both is about the same.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Well, now that is something! I felt like I had to click it, if for no other reason than to find out what "and more" was. I wondered if it might be ritual sacrifice. I mean, I don't know that ministers do that kind of thing any more, or if they ever did for that matter, but if anybody does, who else would it be?
So I clicked on the ad and was re-directed to the web site of an organization called the Universal Life Church, where I got the details.
"You are about to legally become an ordained minister...Before providing information for ordination, please make sure you have complied with the following instructions:
- Please only put your true and legal name (*nicknames will invalidate your ordination).
- Please use only factual information in this serious religious rite.
- Please double check your name and email address.
- Please capitalize where appropriate, as this is how our records will show your ordination.
- Submitting a fictitious name ordination under your animal's name, or submission without a person's permission is a fraud.
That was it. I kept waiting for the catch (as in, how much money I was expected to cough up) but there was none. They seemed to be a very easy-going organization that has ordained millions of people as ministers, like a McDonald's of spirituality, and their only concern appeared to be fake names. Sure, it was probably hilarious the first couple of hundred times that nullandvoids eating Doritos and drinking bong water submitted Mr. Bigglesworth or the Ninja Turtles for ordination but now they were kinda over it. That and correct spelling and punctuation. Well shoot, I can certainly get behind that. Anywho, long story short (and by 'long story', I mean waiting about a day and a half for an email from Modesto, California), with less effort (or scrutiny) than it takes to fill out a credit card application for the sake of getting a free beach towel at a hockey game, bing, bang, boom, I am a legally ordained minister! See for yourself:
This is to confirm that
Clark Brooks has been ordained as a minister of the Universal Life Church, Modesto, California. Date of Ordination: 04/07/10 by Kevin Andrews, Pastor www.ulc.net
Your request for ordination has been processed and submitted to the Universal Life Church Headquarters in Modesto, California for recording. Please retain the above date of ordination for your records, as you may need this information in the future to fill out the various forms of the clergy...Ordination is for life, without price, and without question of your specific beliefs. You do not need to pay any tithe, donation, or offering of any kind, now or in the future.
Hell yeah! Oh, I did have to pick a title for myself from the list they provided, which is as follows with absolutely no embellishment from me, I swear:
Abbe, Abbess, Abbot, Ananda, Angel, Apostle of Humility, Apostolic Scribe, Arch Deacon, Arch Priest, Archbishop, Arch cardinal, Ascetic Gnostic, Bible Historian, Bishop, Brahman, Brother, Canon, Cantor, Cardinal, Channel, Chaplain, Colonel, Cure, Deacon, Dervish, Directress, Disciple, Druid, Elder, Faith Healer, Evangelist, Emissary, Father, Field Missionary, Flying Missionary, Free Thinker, Friar, Goddess, Guru, Hadji, Healing Minister, High Priest, High Priestess, Imam, Lama, Lay Sister, Magus, Martyr, Messenger, Metropolitan, Minister of Music, Minister of Peace, Missionary, Missionary Doctor, Missionary Healer, Missionary of Music, Missionary Priest, Monk, Monsignor, Most Reverend, Mystical Philosopher, Orthodox Monk, Parochial Educator, Pastor General, Patriarch, Peace Counselor, Preacher, Preceptor, Priest, Priestess, Prophet, Rector, Rabbi, Religious Preacher, Revelator, Reverend, Reverend Father, Reverend Mother, Right Reverend, Saintly Healer, Scribe, Seer, Shaman, Soul Therapist, Sister, Spiritual Counselor, Spiritual Warrior, Starets, Swami, Teller, Thanatologist, The Very Esteemed, Universal Rabbi, Universal Religious Philosopher, Vicar, Universal Philosopher of Absolute Reality, Wizard, Gothi, Gythia, Psychic Healer, Child of the Universe, Prince, Princess, Spiritual Healer, Saint, Pope
I agonized over this decision for nearly 15 minutes, making a short list of my preferences. Here are the runners-up:
- Colonel - Didn't know this was a religious title and wasn't sure if they meant military or Kentucky Fried
- Flying Missionary - Felt this would set people's expectations unrealistically high
- Spiritual Healer - Ditto
- Soul Therapist - Came very close to picking this one, as it fits nicely with my devotion to the grooves, both funky and smoove
- Spiritual Warrior - Too confrontational
- Wizard - Well, now that's just silly
Eventually, I just settled on Reverend. Classic and if it's good enough for Run of Run-DMC, it's good enough for me.
Anyway, now I'm ready to get to ministering. I'm looking forward to starting (and subsequently ending) conversations with the phrase "well, as an ordained minister, I believe...". But I really want to start committing weddings. Oh man! I'm not kidding. And I will work dirt cheap if you hire me (as in, let me attend the reception and get something to eat, take a trip or two to the open bar, maybe chat up some unattached bridesmaids...you know, minister stuff) to do your noop-it-alls (a friend pointed out that I could have just become a notary public and actually made some money at this...thanks for telling me now). Let me stress that THIS IS NOT A JOKE! Now that I am legally qualified to do so, I really want to officiate over people's binding matrimonial ceremonies. I'm not doing this to make fun of religion or people's beliefs. I am doing it to have fun with religion and people's beliefs, but not make fun. For what it's worth, where I stand religiously, when it comes to deities and dogmas, is that I'm enough of a cynic to believe that everything that happens can eventually be explained by nature or science but I'm also open-minded enough to believe that we don't have every answer to every question (yet). And until we do, all bets are off. In the meantime, I believe with all my heart that if everyone on earth did nothing else but follow the so-called Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", or "Don't be a dick", that every single one of our earthbound problems would end automatically and instantly. To that end, I do make a sincere, concerted effort to follow that principle in my own life. So like I said, I'm honestly not out to commit any kind of harm to that which people hold sacred...well, except in the case of performing gay weddings, which I will gladly do, because...well, the receptions will be fabulous...and it would make the Rush Limb-ites and Glenn Beck-erheads lose their marbles, which I would enjoy a great deal. Hey, I never said I was perfect, just that I'm a minister.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
- Mac(aroni...all the cool kids are saying "mac" these days. Try to keep up, grandma)
Why, those just happen to be three of my most favorite shades of awesome! And it's ready in under 30 minutes? What is not to love about this? Well, if I were Snoopy, I might have a problem with the manufacturer but as it stands, I should give it a try at home. But wait, let me read the instructions first...
Step 2: The clear film is an important part of the process with food like this. Sometimes they want you to leave it on, sometimes you take it off, sometimes you should poke some holes in it and sometimes you should open it up...but just a little bit. Clear film is tricky stuff. I'll bet the great chefs of Europe study it for years. I've mastered it so I continued undaunted.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The Laundry Lament (Yay! McNatt's dry cleaning!)
(Go here to see it via YouTube)
A Pilgrimage For Hooters (Yay! Lynne Austin!)
(Go here to see it on YouTube)
* If you look carefully, you can (sort of) see both of them in these clips.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Friday, April 09, 2010
Thursday, April 08, 2010
But a residual from all this springtime activity that isn't quite so exciting: allergy season. I live in an apartment complex that is absolutely infested with trees and they are generating pollen like the government is giving them money to do it. From what little I know about science, pollen serves exactly two purposes...
- To assist bees in making honey
- To assist your face in having red, itchy eyes and a nose that sneezes every 10 minutes.
That's it. If it isn't doing either of those two things, it looks for ways to get in trouble. Such as vandalizing cars. With so many trees and so few after school programs to effectively mentor them, every car in my parking lot is green and fuzzy like a tennis ball. Here are some pictures...
Here's my car. From this angle, and by comparison to others, it's not that bad. You can sorta see a greenish tinge against the gray. But when you're sitting behind the wheel and looking out over the hood, it's like you're lining up a combo on a billiards table.