Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No funny stuff...

Not until Dontae Morris is off the streets. Sorry. It's not about a knee-jerk thirst for "hang 'em high" revenge, it's about removing a threat to public safety. Once he's in custody, I trust the judicial system and those who work within it to take their due course, ensuring that justice is served.

Here's a mugshot of Dontae Rashawn Morris. He's 5'9", between 145 and 160 lbs, with tattoos on his arms and face.
If you have seen this man, call Tampa police with your information at (813) 231-6130. He's obviously armed, dangerous and desperate. Be alert, be aware of your surroundings. Don't leave doors to your home, car, or place of business unlocked.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO?
  • Donations on behalf of the families of fallen officers Curtis and Kocab are being accepted at Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union locations or can be mailed to: Tampa Police Department at 411 N. Franklin St., Tampa, FL 33602, ATTN: The Fallen Officers' Memorial Fund
  • Niko's Family Restaurant at 3705 Tampa Road in Oldsmar (Forest Lakes Plaza) will be hosting a fundraiser on Sunday, July 11th from 5:00PM until 9:00PM. There will be entertainment and stuff for kids to do. They still need folding tables, chairs, and tents. If you can donate the use of those items, please contact Andonia Tirikos at (813) 814-0907.
  • The Gold Shield Foundation provides immediate financial assistance and insures college educations or vocational training for the spouses and dependent children of Florida law enforcement officers and firefighters of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Polk and Marion Counties killed in the line of duty. They can be reached by calling (813) 969-0417 or by email at: GoldShield@TampaBay.rr.com
If I hear of other fundraising efforts or ways to provide assistance, I will post them here as well. Feel free to share info if you have it.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Not again

Less than a year after officer Mike Roberts was shot and killed in the line of duty, we've lost two more Tampa Police officers. Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis, both 31, were shot and killed while making a traffic stop early this morning at 50th Street and 23rd Avenue. The two suspects, one male one female, were not apprehended. The male shooting suspect, a passenger in the car, was identified as Dontae Rashawn Morris, 24, an ex-convict with a lengthy arrest record and no known address. The driver was identified as Cortnee Nicole Brantley, 22, no known address.

Here are pictures...

As of right this minute, Brantley is in custody. Morris is still on the loose.

First and foremost, if you're in the Tampa area, be careful and watch out for Morris. As is often cited, anybody who is willing to kill a cop won't hesitate to hurt anyone. There is a $5000 reward for information leading to arrest. 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), or report anonymously online at www.crimestopperstb.com

Secondly, donations on behalf of the fallen officers can be made at any Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union location. Both men were married. Curtis was father to four young children and Kocab's wife is nine months pregnant with their first child and some media reports state that she has gone into labor today.

Tampa Police officers killed since 1895:

Officer John "Jack" McCormick, Sept. 26, 1895

Capt. Samuel J. Carter, June 2, 1905

Marshal Joseph Walker, Sept. 15, 1915

Officer James Ronco, May 27, 1916

Patrolman Juan Nales, July 18, 1920

Officer Henry R. Lett, Sept. 24, 1922

Det. Thomas M. Chevis, April 7, 1938

Officer Bryan A. Reese, Aug. 29, 1935

Det. Joe Nance, Oct. 1, 1939

Vice Chief Arthur L. Berry, Jan. 31, 1941

Det. Lester H. Henley, April 11, 1941

Officer Richard S. Booth, Nov. 28, 1943

Officer Morris D. Lopez, July 9, 1949

Officer Carl F. Chastain, Feb. 12, 1958

Officer Rolla L. Standau, Nov. 29, 1963

Officer William D. Krikava, Jan. 1, 1965

Cpl. John R. Collier, Dec. 5, 1970

Det. Kenneth D. Berlin Jr., Sept. 27, 1975

Sergeant Richard Lee Cloud, Oct. 23, 1975

Officer Anthony W. Williams, Nov. 3, 1975

Det. Gerald A. Rauft, July 24, 1981

Sgt. Gary S. Pricher, Nov. 4, 1983

Officer Porfirio Soto Jr., Dec. 30, 1988

Officer Norris Epps Jr., Jan. 18, 1995

Det. Randy Bell, May 19, 1998

Det. Ricky Childers, May 19, 1998

Master police officer Lois Marrero, July 6, 2001

Det. Juan Serrano, Feb. 25, 2006

Cpl. Michael Roberts, Aug. 19, 2009

Officer Jeffrey Kocab, Jul. 29, 2010

Officer David Curtis, Jul. 29, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

A deep discussion

This isn't one of my usual Short Conversations, because this one actually happened exactly as I'm presenting it here. I had the "privilege" of listening to two great philosophical minds, people I don't personally know, debate this topic and now I'm going to share it with you so your IQ can shrink a few points too. Enjoy and you're welcome.

"Man it's hot out. Thank God for shade!"
"You can't thank God for shade. God didn't create shade."
"Of course He did. God created all things. Even shade."
"God created things that make shade. Shade is a side effect."
"You don't think God created trees with the knowledge that they would provide shade? You don't think He took that into account?"
"Trees aren't the only thing that make shade. Tall buildings. Fences. They make shade too. God didn't create any tall buildings."
"He created man and gave him the ability to create the tall buildings that create shade, so yes He most certainly did."
"You're giving God too much credit."
"You're not giving him enough credit."
"You think when God created trees, living things that produce oxygen and fruit he cared about whether people sat under them to cool off? Why would you think God would care about that?"
"He created them so that birds could live in them, so yes, definitely."
"Birds can't live in all kinds of trees though."
"Name one."
"Cactus."
"Cactus are not tress, plus, yes, roadrunners live in them, so yes. All trees provide homes to birds just like all tress provide shade to hot, weary travelers like the kind who visited Bethlehem."
"Not fir trees. Like Christmas trees."
"Are you talking about birds or shade?"
"Both. You can't get shade from a fir tree because all the wide branches are at the bottom. And if there's birds living in them, you can't even see them."
"Where do you think the fur comes from?"
"... what?"
"Animals. Okay, maybe not birds but animals of some kind definitely live in there."
"What kind of animals?"
"So many kinds! Why do you think they're called fur trees?"
"Well, I don't know why..."
"That's also why we have trees like that at Christmas. It's God's way to remind us of the animals and Bethlehem and to be thankful."
"Well, then why do we chop them down?"
"We can. It's okay because God is always making more trees."

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Favor Train will not be rolling through Bieberville

I used to work in sports and entertainment, for a long time. During that time, I made a lot of friendships. When I got out of the business, I did so without burning too many bridges (I like to think so anyway). As a result, like Red in "The Shawshank Redemption", I'm a man who knows how to get things. Specifically tickets to games and concerts. This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, in that it's nice to be able to do favors for friends and/or associates who appreciate it and/or reciprocate with favors, what I call riding The Favor Train. A curse, in that people who don't appreciate it or offer to reciprocate try to hitch rides on The Favor Train too, people whose definition of "friendship" is different than mine, in that it is decidedly a one-way type of relationship. Interaction with those folks usually goes something like this:
"Hey, how are you? It's been so long! Listen, do you still know people over at the [insert venue name here]"
"Oh, hi. Yeah, I still know some people there."
"Oh great! I would really love to see [insert artist's name here]. They're my all-time favorite so I want to try to get really, really good seats."
"I can ask..."
"Great! Call me back! I'm so excited!"
[I call the venue, get the info and then call my "friend" back]
"Hey, they have some great seats, real close to the stage. They're running
[insert dollar value above $0] each, including fees.I just need your credit card info and the tickets will be at will call."
"Ooh...Ah...Hmm...Ah...Ooh. Can't get comps, huh?"
"No, sorry, there's no comps for concerts*..."
"Well...where exactly are they located? On the floor? Front row?"
"No, they're not going to be in the front row. I can't give you a specific location until we actually make the purchase but I can tell you they'll be great seats, certainly better than what you'd be able to buy on line or at the box office."

"Ooh...Ah...Hmm. Okay, let me get back to you."

Then I don't hear from them again for at least six months, when their next all-time favorite is coming to town. The sad part about that? Those are the people who are polite! There are people who think they can ride The Favor Train by not saying much more than "Hey, get me some free tickets!".
Anyway, the other day a friend from the St. Pete Times Forum copied me on the following email:

"As some of you may know, Justin Bieber will be at the St. Pete Times Forum on December 19, 2010. Needless to say, this will be one of the bigger tours and hottest tickets for 2010.

So, how do you get good seats.simple, don't call me! Visit the link below and purchase your tickets in advance as part of the fan club package we are able to offer. Two reasons to do this: First, this offer has better tickets than I will have access to. Second, I don’t want to hear how big a fan your kid is and how you need to be so close. It is win-win!

Ticketmaster Page

http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/0D0044C2A68C5C89?artistid=1369961&majorcatid=10001&minorcatid=1

Feel free to call with questions, but honestly, these seats are better than what I will get access to.

Thanks!"


Think that sounds rude? Unfriendly? Dismissive? Au contraire! That is one of the nicest emails I have ever received! That, my friends, is an early Christmas present. That is nothing less than a gold-plated "get out of doing favors free" card. That means I don't have to go through the annoying song-and-dance routine listed above. Any queries I receive will die a quick and merciless death and I don't even have to feel bad about it. The Favor Train does not make any stops in Bieberville!



* Actually, it is possible to get comp tickets for concerts, but usually only two ways to get them (neither of which involve me):
  1. Win some from a radio station or some other promotional contest, although they'll probably be pretty shitty seats and you may wish you'd bought them instead.
  2. Know somebody in the band. I'm not talking about being Facebook friends or following them on Twitter or even having met them at a club or restaurant once. I mean knowing them. If you think you might know somebody well enough to get free tickets from them but you aren't 100% sure, you don't.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stardom 2.0

Every time I look at my IMDB page (which is quite often because as everyone knows, I'm a raging, preening narcissist), my popularity is down anywhere from 15% to 40% (this week it's down 35%). I don't understand how that is mathematically possible. It seems like it should have hit 0% a long time ago and just stopped. Unless it keeps going after 0% and is now tracking how unpopular I am, in which case, that is very, very sad.
Then this week I looked at Anne Sellors' IMDB page and I see that her popularity is up by 4,078,266% this week, a number that is truly mathematically impossible...but I understand why. Because we live in a culture where there are enough people on the internet to make the producers of an X-Men movie have a character say "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch", draw more attention to a movie like "Snakes on a Plane" than it could ever deserve on merit alone and get Betty White to host Saturday Night Live simply because they had nothing better to do. Knowing that, it's really not much of a surprise that these same people would stumble across an Archibald "Moonlight" Graham-like entry on the IMDB, with a woman's entire film career consisting of peeing herself in one movie over 25 years ago (Fun Fact: It has already taken you longer to read this than the entire time Ms. Sellors appeared on screen), and decide that this should be The Next Big Thing, at least for a while. That's just how things work these days...although I'd understand if some German actresses who specialize in certain very specialized sub genres of film might have a legitimate gripe.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A big announcement

Today, I am a professional sportswriter! SB Nation, a network of over 200 individual web sites dedicated to sports coverage, is launching it's Tampa Bay Regional franchise today and I am on the staff as a writer.

ABOUT SB NATION REGIONAL: "
In June 2010, SB Nation is launching SB Nation Regional, the most ambitious and exciting sports media initiative of the year. With state-of-the-art StoryStream™ news delivery, opinion and analysis, feature columns and unique editorial franchises, these regional sites capture all that is relevant in regional sports. A daily must-read for fans of a particular sports market, these sites are poised to become the next local sports page. SB Nation Regionals will be launching in 20 cities during the month of June."

ABOUT SB NATION'S EDITORIAL PHILOSOPHY:
"SB Nation was born through the passion of a frustrated sports fan who used to be a print reporter. He felt like no traditional media outlet was covering his team the way that he wanted, which was with a passionate, authoritative voice that would also remain true to a lot of the journalistic principles. In short, professional quality, fan perspective.

We firmly believe that sports objectivity is a myth. We've always been forthcoming about the fact that we're relentlessly passionate about the teams and sports we cover. Across the SB Nation network you'll find that our writers live and breathe sports 24/7/365.

We capture that passion and enable conversation about prevalent topics that fans care about. We've created strong communities that teem with intelligent conversation, and we remain passionate and emotionally invested along with our audience in the sports we cover. This network was created by fans for fans, and that remains core to our editorial principles."

More information about SB Nation is available here

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR ME: I get paid to write about the Rays (and Bucs and Lightning) in a world-wide networked forum and I don't have to pretend like I care about the delicate feelings of Yankee (or any other teams) fans.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THIS BLOG: In all likelihood, no more sports. From what I know about my audience, I don't think most of you will mind. Of course, there is a link to SB Nation Tampa Bay on this site if you want to read my sports stuff (or just more of me in general...hey, it could happen!)

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU: There's a party tonight and you are invited! Check it out;

Hey Sports Fans -- SB Nation is buying the drinks!

Come celebrate the launch of SB Nation Tampa at the inaugural SB Nation Tampa Meet-up! Join your fellow Tampa sports fans for an evening of good company, great sports conversation and free stuff. Complimentary well drinks and discounted beer all evening (liquor courtesy of Crown Royal Black)!

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
6:00 - 8:00 PM
Tampa Bay Brewing Company
1600 E. 8th Ave. Tampa, FL 33605 (that's in Ybor City, FYI)

Food and drink specials, giveaways and great raffle prizes!
You can RSVP here, or just come on out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

When did bankers become used car salesmen?

Remember the good ol' days when banks looked like this?They looked like castles or fortresses. Because that's what they were. These were serious places where serious men in serious suits sitting behind enormous desks in offices with beveled glass telling people "no!" all day long. Sure, the tellers were nice ladies who handed out lollipops to children but they did so from behind high marble counters with iron bars. Often there was an armed guard standing around the lobby, just in case you forgot you were in a no-nonsense place of business.
Now this what banks look like: That looks like any house you might find on Fair Oaks Circle Court or any other cul-de-sac in any subdivision. This is a place where Chad or Tracy sit with you on a couch and talk about your hopes and dreams over a nice espresso.
Maybe other people care for that kind of fondling, but I don't. So when I went to my bank the other day to get a new debit card, I was not prepared for a sales pitch about all kinds of programs, complete with colorful, laminated placards.
"I gotta stop you right here, Chad...is it Chad?"
"My name is Mark."
"Okay Chad, listen. The minute they told me I had to sign a book and sit on a couch until you came over and got me, I was already investing more time in this than I wanted to."
"I understand completely, and this won't take long at all..."
"No, see, you don't understand. I don't want to be here right now. No offense, I didn't come here to make new friends or have an espresso..."
"We don't have espresso."
"I'm a very low key, no-frills guy. I just need a regular old bank account and a means to access the money I put into it. That's all."
"Mr. Brooks, we have some new programs that I think you'd find..."
"This is a bank. I don't want programs with an s on the end. I want a program. One single program. And the way that program works is I bring you money to hold on to so when I go to a store and say 'I want this', they say 'that will be $25 please' and I tell them, 'okay, go see Chad and he'll give you the money.'"
"It's Mark, Mr. Brooks. My name is Mark."
"And in fact, I don't even need you or any of the other employees to get involved. I would like as much interaction between me and your bank to occur with the various robots you have around town."
"Automatic tellers. We have a number of them available. Here's a map..."
"And that's kind of what I already have. I'm pretty happy with that. I just need a new card because this one is old and sometimes I have to swipe it three or four times before the robot responds."
"It sounds like you want a standard personal checking account with overdraft protection. And that is all detailed on this piece right here..."
"Don't even bring it out because if that thing depicts anything more complex than me sliding you this card and you sliding me a new one, it is not at all something I want to see."
"Well, it's just that I want you to understand all the options available..."
"Please, Chad..."
"Mark."
"...I completely understand as much as I intend to. And I think you get that. So can we just skip to the part where I sign or whatever and we can both go about our business?"
"..."
"Please?"
"Fine. Just initial here, here and here and sign the bottom. You'll get a new card in the mail in about three weeks."
"Thank you!"
"Just give me a call when you get it and we'll make an appointment to go over all the features before it's activated!"

Monday, June 21, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cl-Assy!

Because what you want more than anything when you find yourself in need of someone who provides these types of services is someone who is capable of summing up your situation with humorous wordplay. And is open on Saturdays.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I amused the QB Killa

Warren Sapp is a former defensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a future NFL Hall of Famer. The "QB Killa" as he is known, was the most ferocious and destructive player on a defense that was feared throughout the NFL for years and that led the Buccaneers to victory in Super Bowl XXXVII over the Oakland Raiders in 2003.
And this is a very brief conversation I had with him on Twitter (translated to non-Twitter English) the other day. It started when
Donte Stallworth said "How a person masters his fate is more important than what his fate is."

Warren Sapp: How do you master FATE?? Please tell us?
ME:
With my hands...oh wait, master FATE, not...never mind.
Warren Sapp: LMAO (Laughing My Ass Off).

This was easily the highlight, the pinnacle of my Twitter career. Although there was the time my lifetime crush Sheila E said "lol (Laughing Out Loud)... very cute." to me in response to some silly remark I made...on Valentine's Day...

Okay, making Warren Sapp laugh is a distant second to that. But still.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You too can manage a sports bar!

If you love sports and you love drinking, then you've undoubtedly fantasized at one time or another about running your very own sports bar. But for whatever reason, you thought managing such an enterprise was beyond your grasp. Well, I'm here to tell you that you are incredibly stupid. You totally can! After all, what is a sports bar? It's a bar with a tv! Do you own a television? Well, look at you, you're halfway there already! All you have to do is follow these steps to fill in the little gaps and you'll be up and running in no time. Touchdown!
  1. Location - Find an open space in a nearby strip mall. This should be very easy. Because no matter where you live, there is a strip mall nearby and there is at least one open space in it. Don't worry if there is already a sports bar (or even two) in the strip mall. There are strip malls that are comprised entirely of sports bars. I've seen 'em. They're spectacular.
  2. TVs - One tv isn't going to cut it. You need at least six; one for each ESPN channel, one for a channel carrying the local team and one that is always tuned to a Law & Order re-run for some reason, even when the Super Bowl is on. Try to make sure your biggest tv occupies a prominent spot in the restaurant but the picture is an indistinguishable mass of purple blobs unless your standing within 15 degrees of dead center of the screen.
  3. Decor - Sports stuff! Clean out your closets and garage, raid the flea market, steal some shit from the Y. Whatever. Get your hands on as much as you can. Pennants, posters, deflated footballs, old softball uniforms and trophies, broken golf clubs, those plastic novelty batting helmets. Tack it up on every inch of available wall space. Did you run out of room? No problem. Serve food in whatever is left over. You'll also be receiving promotional sports items like neon beer signs from your local beer distributors. By all means, use 'em! One of the things you'll get is a huge poster with your local team's schedule on it, designed for you to update on a regular basis with wins, losses and scores. Tradition dictates that you leave it up all season long but stop updating it after about 15 games. Four, if it's a football schedule.
  4. Food - Serve chicken wings, of course. Burgers and french fries too. That's what every sports bar serves. But you want to stand out, don't you? Sure you do. And the way you do that is you name stuff after people. What people? It doesn't matter. What matters is that your chili becomes "Cindy's Secret Recipe Chili". Your curly fries become "Ted's Famous Curly Fries". Who the hell are Cindy and Ted? Who gives a shit? It's the names not the people. You'll have regulars who eat at your place four times a week who'll think they've had beers and watched the World Series together. "One thing about ol' Ted; he always likes his fries curly."
  5. Staff - In the kitchen; anybody you want. On the floor waiting tables; cute young girls in shorts and tee shirts. The cuter the girl, the more slack you'll be given if your service sucks. This is what's known as the Hooters Paradigm. Deviate it from it at your own peril. You might...might...be able to sneak by with an older waitress who used to be cute if she's sassy to the point of being downright nuts and your customers are afraid of her. Hire a male waiter and your sports bar will be closed and re-opened as a Subway or a nail salon before you get back from the bank.
  6. Branding - I could give you about a hundred clever suggestions on what to call your place but why bother since you're just going to name it after yourself, right? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What$ in a name?

Last week it was announced that the venue formerly known as the Ford Amphitheater would now be known as the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheater.
For those who don't know, 1-800 ASK GARY is a referral service for accident victims seeking medical and/or legal assistance, sort of an ambulance chaser chaser. The service is known for their television commercials which are usually broadcast during the day time, directed at those who have an abiding interest in the televised judicial system and might be interested in either obtaining a GED or downloading some ringtones. The commercials often feature spokespeople of certain socio-ethnic subgroups who express themselves with a patois most often identified as "urban", resulting . That is to say they're ghetto.
At any rate, corporate entities slapping their names on sports and entertainment venues is nothing new. Some are better than others and since we're (disclaimer: I work there, sometimes, on a part-time basis) stuck with this one for the next three years, I thought now was as good a time as any to rank the six major named venues in the Tampa Bay area according to how good or bad their corporate names are. For what it's worth, the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheater is 6th only because there aren't 15 or 20 entries.

#1: Straz Center for the Performing Arts
FORMER NAME: Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center
NICKNAME: T-Pac (although maybe people will start saying "The Straz" after a while, which is what I imagine David Straz would like people to call him if he walked into a malt shop and made the jukebox play by bopping it with his fist.)
LOCATION: Tampa
APPROPRIATE?: Things like performing arts centers and other cultural venues are named after people all the time. David Straz is a person with lots of money who likes to have his name on things. Can't really fault him for that.


#2: TROPICANA FIELD
FORMER NAME: FLORIDA SUNCOAST DOME (among others)
NICKNAME: The Trop
LOCATION: St. Petersburg
APPROPRIATE?: "Tropicana" is a word that sounds very Florida-esque. It makes you think of orange juice, sunshine and heat, none of which are available inside Tropicana Field. Although Tropicana does distribute Pepsi products and those are available inside. Kudos to whomever is responsible for choosing the word "Field" instead of "Stadium". Football is played in stadiums. Baseball is played in parks and on fields.

#3: RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM
FORMER NAME: None
NICKNAME: Ray Jay
LOCATION: Tampa
APPROPRIATE?: Who is Raymond James? Local boy who grew up and was inducted into the pro football hall of fame? War hero? Civil rights activist? The inventor of the bicycle seat? Nope, there is no Raymond James. It's the name of a financial investment company. Well, at least it's not a sleazy industry or anything. Ha ha! Right?



#4: ST. PETE TIMES FORUM
FORMER NAME: ICE PALACE
NICKNAME: THE FORUM
LOCATION: Tampa
APPROPRIATE?: The St. Pete Times is a fine newspaper. But where is the venue located? And should newspapers that are expected to report objectively on events that may take place at a venue have their name associated officially with that venue? I'm not sure. But where is the venue located again?
Plus...The Ice Palace? Come on!! That was an AWESOME name! One of the greatest names ever! Who wouldn't want to visit a palace of ice? A palace! Of ice! An Ice Palace! Why did they have to screw with that? Corporate fuckers! People still call it The Ice Palace sometimes. You know what? So do I.

#5 THE AFS SUN DOME
FORMER NAME: THE SUN DOME
NICKNAME: Uh, Sun Dome?
LOCATION: Tampa
APPROPRIATE?: This name only existed on paper for a couple of weeks and never became official. A lunkhead operating on behalf of an even more lunkheaded athletic department went out and tried to sell the naming rights to a shady student loan company run by a man with an extensive criminal record. Thankfully, the Sun Dome's board of directors, one of a very small handful of organizations associated with USF Athletics that doesn't pass around a single shared brain on a stick, asked some tough questions and the deal died on the table.

Friday, June 11, 2010

My apology to the CEO of BP

The first time I mentioned the Gulf spill on this blog was May 4th. Since that time, I have referenced the CEO of BP by name several times. I realize now that many of my comments were hurtful and thoughtless in that I have been spelling his name incorrectly. I now know that his last name is spelled with an A and not an E. When I read that recently, I was appalled. This is a tragedy that never should have happened. And if I had simply taken the time to perform a Google search (which is more effort than BP put into it's emergency response plans that rely heavily on the input of deceased professors on how to deal with marine mammals that don't live anywhere near the Gulf) it wouldn't have happened. Perhaps I was thinking of famous people with similar names or maybe I just wasn't thinking at all. That is entirely possible. I apologize, especially to the families of famous people with similar names.

I have taken full responsibility for cleaning up the spelling errors on this blog. I've helped organize the largest spellcheck response in this blog's history. It's an ongoing process and may take a while. There's no one who wants to start spelling his name correctly more than I do. I'd like my blog back. Sure, some of my earlier efforts to correct this problem, such as attempting to cram a whole bunch of shredded vowels into his name in the hope that one of them might be correct have been less successful than I had hoped. But the work continues. More than 836 pages of dictionary and over 1,300 pages of thesaurus are working to protect rough drafts. Where typos reach the blog, a team of experts has been retained and are ready to be consulted to clean them up.
My spelling efforts will not come at any cost to taxpayers. I honestly don't think it will take another three or four months before I start spelling his name correctly. But it might. So hang in there. We will get this done. We will make this right. Eventually.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I can't believe they're already making a documentary

I guess in the next chapter they'll break out a Ouija board to try to contact Professor Lutz.


This and other comedy videos available at the Upright Citizen's Brigade YouTube channel.

My next new favorite show

This is a preview for a show called "Mr. Sunshine", set to debut on ABC some time next season.


I used to work in sports and entertainment in the arena business and it is truly a crazy industry. Everybody, and I mean everybody I worked with, was constantly saying that somebody should write a book or make a show about it. I think there's so much material to cover, a show is the best bet. The writers for this one should never run out of ideas. For example, this clip didn't even mention psychotic concert promoters, which on a given day are far more difficult to deal with than a pack of ax-wielding circus clowns. I'm ready to fall in love with this show already. The cast is very good and the jokes in this clip are funny. My only fear is that mainstream audience (ie: non-industry geeks) finds the situations too outlandish. Trust me, as a former industry geek, that would be just about impossible.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Opportunity knocks

"We expect that a complete review of the regional response plans and planning process will take place as part of the overall incident investigation so that we can determine what worked well and what needs improvement. Thus far we have implemented the largest spill response in history and many, many elements of it have worked well. However, we are greatly disappointed that oil has made landfall and impacted shorelines and marshes. The situation we are dealing with is clearly complex, unprecedented and will offer us much to learn from." -- BP spokesman Daren Beaudo

Some of the things from those plans that didn't exactly work well and might benefit from a review...
  • BP's 2009 response plan for a Gulf of Mexico oil spill lists Professor Peter Lutz of the University of Miami as a national wildlife expert. He died in 2005. He'd also left the University of Miami about 15 years before that.
  • The plan mentions "sensitive biological resources" such as walruses, sea otters, sea lions and seals, none of which can be found anywhere near the Gulf of Mexico.
Other than that (well, mostly that but also a few minor things like severe flaws in calculating the spill volume based on the darkness of oil sheen, underestimation of the availability of enough boats and other water craft needed to respond, any mention whatsoever of the Gulf's loop current which could eventually send oil all the way down Florida's west coast and into the Atlantic Ocean, and the names, phone numbers and web sites for marine life specialists at Texas A & M University, marine mammal stranding offices in Louisiana and Florida and at least one contractor for emergency equipment being invalid or non-existent, among other things), solid work, fellas.

Clark Brooks, award winner

Look what I got!This is the prestigious "Kept Us In Stitches" award, presented by the organizers of the Temple Terrace Relay for Life event for being the funniest person there. Being named the funniest person at a cancer rally is a lot like being...well, I can't even think of an adequately absurd metaphor. But I do like winning awards and I do like fighting cancer so I sincerely and humbly accept this award.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Please Mr. Postman

The president sat down and wrote me a letter (via email) the other day (Saturday):

Clark --

Yesterday (Friday, June 3rd), I visited Caminada Bay in Grand Isle, Louisiana -- one of the first places to feel the devastation wrought by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While I was here, at Camerdelle's Live Bait shop, I met with a group of local residents and small business owners.

Folks like Floyd Lasseigne, a fourth-generation oyster fisherman. This is the time of year when he ordinarily earns a lot of his income. But his oyster bed has likely been destroyed by the spill.

Terry Vegas had a similar story. He quit the 8th grade to become a shrimper with his grandfather. Ever since, he's earned his living during shrimping season -- working long, grueling days so that he could earn enough money to support himself year-round. But today, the waters where he has worked are closed. And every day, as the spill worsens, he loses hope that he will be able to return to the life he built.

Here, this spill has not just damaged livelihoods. It has upended whole communities. And the fury people feel is not just about the money they have lost. It is about the wrenching recognition that this time their lives may never be the same.

These people work hard. They meet their responsibilities. But now because of a manmade catastrophe -- one that is not their fault and beyond their control -- their lives have been thrown into turmoil. It is brutally unfair. And what I told these men and women is that I will stand with the people of the Gulf Coast until they are again made whole.

That is why, from the beginning, we have worked to deploy every tool at our disposal to respond to this crisis. Today, there are more than 20,000 people working around the clock to contain and clean up this spill. I have authorized 17,500 National Guard troops to participate in the response. More than 1,900 vessels are aiding in the containment and cleanup effort. We have convened hundreds of top scientists and engineers from around the world. This is the largest response to an environmental disaster of this kind in the history of our country.

We have also ordered BP to pay economic injury claims, and this week, the federal government sent BP a preliminary bill for $69 million to pay back American taxpayers for some of the costs of the response so far. In addition, after an emergency safety review, we are putting in place aggressive new operating standards for offshore drilling. And I have appointed a bipartisan commission to look into the causes of this spill. If laws are inadequate, they will be changed. If oversight was lacking, it will be strengthened. And if laws were broken, those responsible will be brought to justice.

These are hard times in Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast, an area that has already seen more than its fair share of troubles. The people of this region have met this terrible catastrophe with seemingly boundless strength and character in defense of their way of life. What we owe them is a commitment by our nation to match the resilience they have shown. That is our mission. And it is one we will fulfill.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

I always reply to my correspondence, especially when it's to someone who can arrange to have me audited back to the stone age. So here's my response:

Dear Mr. President,

Thanks for your email. I appreciate the update. You didn't ask for my input, but I'm going to offer it anyway, because that's just how I am. I'm sure that's noted somewhere in my file (ha ha!).

I would like to see the very next thing you do be to step in and authorize the federal government to take over all monitoring and testing related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. I don't know what you're doing right now, maybe sitting around and enjoying a game on tv, but if you read what I just wrote and reached for another Cheeto, then you're not clear by what I mean by "the very next thing you do". Specifically, I'd like to see somebody with at least three stars on their uniform or a lab coat with some test tubes in the pockets walk into Tony Heyward's office, sweep everything off his desk, sit down and start handlin' business. Now, normally I'm not someone who would advocate for the government to get involved in the affairs of any private enterprise, but the actions of that particular private enterprise is having a profoundly negative impact on the greater public good. Plus, it's painfully obvious that they simply don't know what they're doing. This isn't for punishment. I frankly don't care how sorry they are or aren't. Heyward could stand up tomorrow and announce that the he personally finds the sight of dead pelicans sexually arousing, but in spite of that they've capped the leak, I'd stand up and applaud. I just don't think that's going to happen...the second part of that, anyway.

So again, thanks for writing and BP sucks ass.

The Reverend Clark Brooks

Monday, June 07, 2010

This is what it sounds like when spuds fry

Dig if you will the pommes frites...

You may thank/blame my friend K who supplied me with the jump drive that allows me to post my own pictures on the blog again.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Palin Logic or Why Armando Galarraga Owes Jim Joyce A Corvette

Today on Facebook, renowned author, agent-provocateur and whatever-else-it-is-she-does-for-a-living-these-days Sarah Palin blamed environmentalists for the disaster that continues to develop in the Gulf of Mexico:
"This is a message to extreme “environmentalists” who hypocritically protest domestic energy production offshore and onshore...With your nonsensical efforts to lock up safer drilling areas, all you’re doing is outsourcing energy development, which makes us more controlled by foreign countries, less safe, and less prosperous on a dirtier planet. Your hypocrisy is showing. You’re not preventing environmental hazards; you’re outsourcing them and making drilling more dangerous. Extreme deep water drilling is not the preferred choice to meet our country’s energy needs, but your protests and lawsuits and lies about onshore and shallow water drilling have locked up safer areas." -- Sara Palin (the complete, unedited message can be found here)

What she's basically saying is that the stupid hypocrites who call themselves environmentalists with their misguided concern for places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have left poor American oil companies' hands tied and forced dirty foreigners to head out to deep water without regulation or rudimentary fail-safe measures. See? If the dumb, caribou-lovin' hippies hadn't gotten involved, this never, ever would have happened, we wouldn't have to look at unpleasant pictures of oil-soaked pelicans and we could still enjoy Clams Casino for less than $10 a pop. I think the Latin term for this kind of logic is cum hoc ergo propter and can be expressed as 'A occurs in correlation with B, therefore, A causes, I don't know, U or ¥ or the number 7 or something'. You can very easily apply this principle of logic in your own life:
  • Did you get fired for looking at porn on the job? It's your employer's fault for not blocking those sites on the internet.
  • Did you forget to pick up your kid after Little League practice? It's Budweiser's fault for being so cold and refreshing.
  • Did the electric company turn off your power because you didn't pay your bill? It's the government's fault for making money legal tender to purchase Budweiser and porn.
In baseball, this logic would dictate that Detroit Tigers "pitcher" Armando Galarraga owes umpire Jim Joyce an apology and a new car. Because if Galarraga had given up some hits in the 3rd or 4th inning, maybe walk a guy or two or even just hit one lousy batter in the ass, he wouldn't have put Joyce in a position of having to make a call in the 9th inning with two outs and a perfect game on the line. It's really rather selfish of Galarraga, if you think about it (at least if you think about it the way Sarah Palin apparently thinks about things).

Friday, June 04, 2010

I hate it when real life rips off my ideas for awesome beer commercials

This happened in Tampa on Tuesday:Heineken truck hits median; overturnsAnd this happens in my imagination almost every day...

Beer truck (brand name is irrelevant) hits median; overturns
Crowd on sidewalk gasps
Driver's bloody arm emerges from wreckage
DRIVER (unseen) "Ohhh...ahh...s-somebody...somebody please. H-help me."
Suddenly, a geyser of beer explodes from the truck
CROWD: "Hurray! All right! (various other cheers of approval, joy, etc.)"
Construction workers stand under the geyser with their mouths open.
A prim-and-proper looking businesswoman lets her hair down, takes off her glasses and starts 'pole dancing' on a traffic sign.
Men in suits are on their hands and knees, lapping beer from rapidly forming puddles in the street.
A rabbi and a priest 'chest bump' one another.
DRIVER: "Please! My abdomen is swelling and I'm having trouble breathing. I-I think I might be bleeding internally."
Sirens are heard in the distance.
SOMEONE IN THE CROWD: "Hey look, an ambulance!"
DRIVER: "Oh thank God. The paramedics are here."
The ambulance screeches to a halt and the back doors are flung open.
FORMERLY PRIM-AND-PROPER BUSINESSWOMAN: "Oh my God! It's the original Van Halen!"
The crowd cheers wildly
DRIVER: "Well, o-okay...didn't I read somewhere that David Lee Roth was training to become a licensed emergency medical technician?"
DAVID LEE ROTH (singing): "Panama! Panama-ha!"

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Who's sorry now?

Submitted for your review: Two major screw-ups, two apologies. Which sounds like a professional who takes pride in what he does for a living and is genuinely sorry about the situation and which sounds like somebody who's just kind of annoyed by the whole thing and wishes people would get over it already and stop bugging him about it? (note: Keep in mind that one of these major screw-ups pertains to a baseball game and didn't even impact the win-loss outcome)



Wednesday, June 02, 2010

How I spent my summer vacation

With all the crap that has been going on the last few weeks (months?) I decided to take my first vacation since...well, I don't really remember. I think it was three jobs ago, which would make it at least six years. Wow, I should probably stop waiting so long between vacations. Anyway, I didn't go anywhere (less a staycation than a brokation) but I did some stuff and here is the digest version.
SATURDAY - Didn't go to the beach but saw one of my favorite funk bands, Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band at one of my favorite venues, Skipper's Smokehouse. The Booty Band was great, as always, but the opening act was a group called The Legendary JCs out of Orlando and they were fantastic! A good old- fashioned soul revue with stops, starts, call-and-response and 20 minute funk jams. I can't wait to see them again.
SUNDAY - Another music-but-not-beach day, and speaking of favorites, I got to see one of my all-time favorite local performers AND people, Rebekah Pulley & her band, The Reluctant Prophets. They played at a place I'd never been before called Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe. I'm embarrassed to say I'd never been there before because it's only about five minutes from where I live. It's funky and friendly and on Sundays, they serve a soul food menu. I will be back. I had a seat where I could see the band play and the Rays beat the Houston Astros at the same time. Later that night, I served my rapidly-becoming-world-famous Beer Pork Chops for friends and watched the finale of Lost. No, I did not cry.
MONDAY - I think I just chilled at the house. I don't remember anything else. Probably should have gone to the beach but didn't.
TUESDAY - Slept in instead of going to the beach. Later, went to the Rays game and got to see manager Joe Maddon go nuts and get thrown out after Carl Crawford was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. I'm not somebody who normally criticizes our skipper (in fact, if anything I'm an apologist) but I thought he blew that situation. He should have been out of the dugout MUCH faster, as soon as Crawford started arguing, and sacrificed himself. You simply can't let your best player get thrown out in the 5th inning of a game, especially one you eventually lose by two runs.
WEDNESDAY - Worked, a side job at the Ford Amphitheatre, selling tickets. Not an ideal way to spend a vacation day (like going to the beach) but it was pretty easy (not to brag or anything, but I'm the best ticket seller in Tampa Bay) and I need the extra coin.
THURSDAY - Worked again, but from home, for my business Clark Brooks, LLC, so I didn't mind. I really wish I could make enough money to do that full time. It really can't be overstated how great it is to function in a work environment where you control all the aspects of that environment. From the AC temperature to the availability of coffee to when and how long my lunch break is to the music playing in the background. It's all about me and my comfort and as a result, I'm much happier and more productive than I would be otherwise. I also took an extended lunch break and went over to Hooters in Clearwater (which is very close to the beach) where Lynne Austin was making a promotional appearance on behalf of her radio show on 1010AM. She cracks me up and I think I will go back again next Thursday.
FRIDAY - Another Rays game, unfortunately another loss. I might start banning myself from going to the ballpark. But I was with great company so it was still a fun evening. Baseball is great in that it is the only sport where you can enjoy a game even if your team doesn't win. Also, did not go to the beach.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Well, who wouldn't?

You guys! This situation in the gulf has gotten really, really serious for reals! Sure, the lives of plants and sea life and people who make (well, made) their livings along the gulf's coast have all been affected (in most cases, "affected" would mean "fucked up", in others, "ended"), but now, well, this whole mess is negatively impacting BP chairman Tony Heyward. He wants his life back, guys! BP has done it's god's darndest best to fix the things they screwed up in the first place but the Junk Shots and Top Kills and other remedies presumably named after rejected titles of Elmore Leonard novels, well, they just haven't worked out, okay? Sorr-ry! Jeez! And all this poor, unfortunate, miserable, stupid, lying, greedy, shifty prick bastard wants is his life back! If you can't empathize, try to put yourself in the blown-up shoes of the 11 people killed in the original accident. I'll bet they would understand better than anybody what it's like not to have a life because of this situation. Literally.
But Tony isn't asking for anything as grandiose as the gift of life itself, just to go back to
making over $4.5 million dollars a year and not having to talk to people in Louisiana. Nobody wants to do that, including seated US presidents. He's embattled, you guys. Embattled! I don't really know what that word means, but I would guess it has something to do with being raped repeatedly by syphilitic sea urchins, if there is any true justice in this universe.

I'm up and running again...sorta

After what seems like an eternity, I have a computer again. It's a loaner, an older model, but it gets me where I need to go (it's a lot like my car, Jeeves, in that respect). I can't get photos off my camera so I'll be stealing pictures (like the one shown here) from Google for a while. And it lacks sufficient memory to perform certain functions (I can't access Farmville, where I'm sure my farm is overgrown with dead weeds and infested with virtual weasels by now. Even if I could look, I don't think I'd want to) but on the bright side, if anybody has files on a floppy disc, being it over because it's got a drive! Take that, iPad users. I'm going to have to give it back at some point, but meanwhile, I'm very happy to be able to publish on a regular basis again.

More important (possibly), I have begun a program that could help me (maybe) with my Big D issues (hopefully). I'm not going to say what it is or how it works at this point because this is Day 1 of a 12 week program but I'm very (cautiously) optimistic. Unlike previous attempts at treatment, this one seems to speak directly to what I'm up against. If it works, I will share all the details in the hope of helping others. All I will say at this time is that it does not involve surrender of earthly possessions, a uniform, "auditing" or distributing literature.