Monday, January 30, 2012


Jeff walks into a room where Michael is sitting.
MICHAEL: Whoa, look at you! Why are you all dressed up?
JEFF: I have a date tonight.
MICHAEL: You’re kidding. Who would go out with you?
JEFF: Your sister.
And with that, we’re off on what could turn out to be a rollicking situation comedy adventure. Or it might turn out to be another tedious trudge through territory we’ve visited countless times before. But after only four lines of dialogue, we’ve met two characters, Jeff and Michael. We’ve gotten a glimpse into their relationship, although we don’t know what their relationship is; are they co-workers? Friends? Siblings (ew)? We’ve established a source of conflict that the characters will have to resolve. We’ve even gotten our first “joke”. As you can see, it’s a format that’s very easy to navigate for the lazy writer. It’s a format that unfortunately spews forth things like “Whitney”.
Before we go any further, I feel like I need to state that not all sitcoms are garbage. This same genre also gave us “Cheers”, “Seinfeld”, “Taxi” and literally too many truly great shows to mention. This might be an overly obvious statement but I think that not making it puts this little rant at risk of being seen as yet another pretentious, highbrow, already-done-to death screed against television.
Even more important, let me state that over the last year or so, I have made a conscious effort to cut down on “hating” stuff that other people might enjoy. That’s because I realized it takes a special kind of judgmental, arrogant jerk to intentionally piss all over the source of another individual’s happiness and I’m a bad enough person as it is that I don’t need to add that element to the stew. Here’s a link to an excellent article at that does a good job of illustrating what I’m talking about. I came to this realization after something I wrote here resulted in an uncharacteristically bitter exchange between me and a friend that I still feel bad about, even though those fences have long-since been mended. Who needs that? It’s taken a long time to get to the point where I accept that an individual’s tastes are subjective and are no indication of superiority or inferiority. And while I still use this place to criticize and condemn things I don’t like, and probably always will, I try to do so in a rational, civil manner, offering thought-out reasons for feeling the way I do and never with the primary intent of hurting anyone’s feelings.
All of this is to say that in spite of everything, I hate the show “Whitney” and I don’t care whose feelings are hurt. If you like it, I’m sorry…and I mean that sincerely; I really am…but you like a shitty tv show. It doesn’t make me feel good to say that.
What’s worse than me hating it is that I like to hate it. I’d miss it if were to be cancelled. I don’t have a chance to see it every week, but when I do, I sit down and watch it from start to finish. And I hate every single second of it. That can’t be healthy, can it? I wouldn’t think so, but man oh man it feels sooooo good.
"Whitney" is a situation comedy about a woman and her boyfriend as they navigate the wacky world of modern relationships. They love each other and live together but they don't want to get married. I told you it was wacky! Here's some highlights for a recent episode, which is exactly like every other episode.
Here's the boyfriend and Whitney at a bar. I think she's wincing in anticipation of all the groans she's about to induce.

"Whine, whine, moan, moan, men and women are so different"

"Are those my tights?" (this is the actual 'joke' being delivered here)

Ha ha! What a funny dress! Ha ha! What funny socks!

These are two other characters. I don't know their names. In this scene, they've just learned that they do not have sexually transmitted diseases. Seriously.

"I need to learn to shut up some times" (Actual dialogue, spoken about 15 minutes too late)

Fantasy dream sequence...more like a nightmare, because she doesn't want to get married because that wouldn't be wacky.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dicks can't drive

It's no secret that Florida has some people that don't drive very well. But even if you're not good at something, you can still be nice. But when rudimentary skill and basic courtesy are both absent, you get situations like these two Dicks I encountered yesterday...

SITUATION #1: The Dick at the Gas Station

FIGURE 1: Here we see the pumps at a local gas station (the black boxes are cars). As you can see, the are two pumps available on the right.

FIGURE 2: Here we see how the first driver to arrive could pull forward to the furthest pump, allowing another driver to come in and behind and have access to the second pump. A somewhat careless motorist might stop at the first pump they come to. Not ideal but the second pump would still be accessible. So take a guess where Dick stopped.

FIGURE 3: Yep. Right there. Why, Dick? Why can't I have gas for my car too?

SITUATION #2: The Dick in the Right-Hand Lane 

FIGURE 1: Here I am, on my way home. I've indicated that I intend to turn right at the next intersection, where the traffic light is currently green. It's okay if it should change before I get there though, because I can legally turn right on red. Yay, I'm happy because I'm almost home!

FIGURE 2: As the light turns from green to yellow, a motorist in the lane to my left indicates that he'd like to get in my lane. Hey, I wonder if this driver is turning right at the light too? Maybe we're neighbors. Howdy, neighbor!

FIGURE 3: Nope. They're going straight. Which they could have done in the lane they were already in. But by getting in front of me, I'm stuck there...for no good reason whatsoever...until the light turns green again. Not a neighbor, just some Dick.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Almost human

I've come to the conclusion that the people in McDonald's commercials are too strange to be...people.
They're close. They look like people. They sound like people. They sort of act like people, but something there is skewed. Of course, they're amped up, way more excited about eating McDonald's than anybody should...or would...ever be. But that's something you see in almost any commercial; it's not like going to Best Buy is that exciting either.
No, It's more in the way that they try to do and say things that real people do but they just can't seem to get it quite right. They're people the way captchas are words. Those little nonsensical blurbs that some web sites make you type to verify the fact that you're an actual human being (!) have all the elements of words...but they're just made-up gibberish.
Good luck trying to play that in "Words With Friends"
A perfect example is an ad for Chicken McNuggets I keep hearing on the radio (a quick aside: at this point, for McDonald's to keep referring to those things as chicken is equal parts admirable and infuriating). It goes like this (I don't have the exact script so I'm going to paraphrase slightly, but this is damn close):

MALE: Gyuuurrrrm (This is supposed to sound like an airplane [that will make sense in a second]. If you're ever on an airplane that spunds like this, it either has a serious mechanical problem or Helen Keller is giving the pre-flight briefing. Either way, get off that plane immediately.)
FEMALE: What are you doing?
MALE: I'm playing McDonald's Airport (See above).
MALE: McDonald's Airport. See, I can't decide which sauce to dunk them in so each one is going to a different destination.
FEMALE: Wow. This is actually happening!

No. No, it isn't. It isn't happening because it would never happen.
The MALE can't figure out what kind of sauce best complements his processed chicken-esque lumps, because they're all so delicious, that he can't choose one, so he doesn't choose one, instead deciding to play a game of Airport...because he thinks this is how airports work. Like people go to the airport, hop on the first plane they come across and fly it to wherever it ends up.

"So I guess I work in...I don't know...Tucson, maybe?"
The FEMALE's response to this isn't something a human being would say either, such as, "have you suffered a massive head trauma?" or "how many of those things have you eaten?" No, it's something that's supposed to sound detached/snarky-slangy/ironic because that's what the humans are doing these days, right?

This conversation as scripted would never, ever take place between two upright-walking sentient beings capable of expressing themselves vocally. This is proof that these are not humans. They sort of recognize what human behavior is but are unable to replicate it themselves.
I don't know about you but these are not the beings I want handling my nuggets.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mascot misadventures!

(Attention, all not-interested-in-sports readers: This is amusing. Trust me.)
Long-time, attention-paying visitors to this site may recall that I have something of a history in the ol' professional sports mascot biz. I don't do that anymore (one of the few jobs I don't currently have) but it still picques my interest when something noteworthy involving these lovable furry anarchists comes across the newswires. The other day, something happened right here in Tampa.
Our hockey team's mascot is known as ThunderBug. We're the Lightning, he's a bug...get it? Well, the other night he was spreading his special brand of merriment around the arena and hit a fan of the visiting team with some silly string. The fan got upset, shoved T-Bug (from behind) and was ejected.
Here are a couple of things you need to know about this situation:
  1. Here in Tampa, everybody is from somewhere else. This means a lot of people who attend sporting events root for the visiting team. Some of these people...not all of them; really a very small minority, when it comes right down to it...are a royal pain in the ass from a trouble making standpoint.
  2. Since there's video (check it out below!), this is a relatively big deal. And many people who are weighing in with commentary say TB deserved it and worse, that assault charges should be filed (against the mascot, not the fan). These people are also a pain in the ass. Plus stupid.
  3. Silly.
  4. String.
Nothing about those last two words as presented are threatening in any way shape or form. We're not talking about some weaponized form of bio-hazard silly string loaded into missles to be fired into a children's hospital from an attack helicopter.
The stuff of nightmares: hilarious, giggle-inducing, horrifying nightmares
Say the words aloud yourself and try to sound menacing. I dare you. It's an impossible task. But this guy was ready to go to battle, with a living cartoon character, over being stringed silly.
The only thing I can imagine going through the minds of those who see this as some sort of assault is that they watched that video with the assumption that ThunderBug suddenly appeared at this location with the sole intent of attacking this one man, as though the participants and location didn't exist in time nor space until the person who shot the video pressed "record".
Being someone who has worked in the industry, specifically with mascots, and as someone who understands that events and their participants don't just spontaneously occur, I'm pretty sure that ThunderBug was in that section of seats, spraying people with silly string (the can is already present), when Boston Fan saw what was happeneing and started mouthing off (you can see him in mid-mouthing when the video begins), probably something along the lines of, "Hey, you! Don't even think about coming up here and spraying me and my really dumb t-shirt with that silly string! I'm serious, man. Don't you do it! You'll be sorry! I will give you such a shove! So do not...DO NOT...come up here and spray me with that!" This, as any of us who grew up in a neighborhood where there was a mean dog knows, is what's called "asking for it". Think about it: why else would anybody even record it if they didn't think something might happen. Watch it and see if you don't agree...

I guess this guy felt he needed to take a stand. Well, good for him. If he ever winds up in jail, all he has to do is tell the other inmates about the time he went nose-to-nose with somebody wearing an enormous fuzzy insect head without backing down, even with little bitty pieces of pink and green string on him, and nobody will mess with him!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Christmas Is Over, If You Want It (and even if you don't)

"Fresh" donuts, purchased January 15, 2012
Dear merchant,
You know, there comes a time, usually less than a week after the last college football bowl game has been played and all the people who don't have some sort of disorder have stored their seasonal decorations, when you have to accept that the holidays are over and that folks simply don't want some of the merchandise in your inventory. Write it off, suck it up and move on, please. I'm looking at you, Dunkin' Donuts located at 7004 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, Florida.

PS: I still love you. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Much ado about Tebow

When it comes to Tim Tebow, you either love him or you hate him. Unless you're like me and largely ambivalent about the whole situation and the kind of person who blows up the premise he set up with his first sentence by contradicting it with his second.
I'm probably more pro than con, though. I wouldn't say I'm a fan in that I don't have a rooting interest in any team he's ever played for but I certainly don't wish him any ill will. He seems like a nice enough guy. And heaven knows I find all the ruckus around him entertaining.

This is what some of you look like when you talk about Tim Tebow, and you need to know that about yourselves.
 I'm not questioning anybody's right to like or not like something or somebody. I don't do that anymore. Hey, if that's what you enjoy, have at it. What I don't understand is why those who don't like him have such a nasty, vitriolic edge that seems to go well beyond criticism of his abilities and even rooting interests. His critics say he's not a good quarterback in that he isn't technically proficient. They'll tell you they don't like Tebow because he's overhyped and not that good. Since when do we care about that? Do you expect me to believe that after 83 billion McDonald's hamburgers served, 11 years of American Idol and "Whitney" being renewed for a second season, we're suddenly going to draw the line of good taste? At Tim Tebow? Just file this one under Yet More Things I Just Don't Understand.

"Me neither"
This is a particularly annoying co-worker telling me (unsolicited) about his disdain for Tim Tebow:
Co -worker: You wanna know why I hate Tim Tebow?
Me: Oh, more than anything.
Co-worker: Because the media talks about him constantly.
Me: So do you, but I hate you for that, not him.
Co-worker: You hate me because I don't like Tebow?
Me: I'm just kidding. I hate you for other reasons. Lots of 'em.
Co-worker: That's a really, really horrible thing to say about someone. I've never done anything to you.
Me: Has Tim Tebow ever done anyything to you?
Co-worker: That's completely different.
Me: How? How exactly is it different?
Co-worker: Because Tebow SUCKS!
Me: If you were in my position, you'd see that it really isn't different at all.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Take that, criminals!

(Judge Gregory) Holder asked how many of the jurors would volunteer to serve on juries again.

They all raised their hands.
"I guarantee you you will be summoned," he said. -, November 4, 2011
Never let it be said that Judge Holder is not a man of his word.
Less than 90 days after this little misadventure, I found myself sitting in a waiting room on the second floor of the George E. Edgecomb Courthouse at 800 Twiggs in downtown Tampa, thumbing through copies of Bassmaster and American Baby magazines (did you know that when babies are learning to crawl, it's not important if they show a natural inclination to go backward instead of forward?), waiting for my name to be called. A large group was called almost immediately and then a really long period passed before any other announcements were made, and I found myself struggling to stay awake and semi-lucid at 10 a.m. (did you know that Mike McClelland's lure of choice is a 1/2-ounce Screaming Eagle spinnerbait with tandem willowleaf blades?). In addition to worrying about what would happen if I fell asleep and missed my name being called, I started worrying about not being called at all. Wasting an entire day sitting around a courthouse doing nothing when I could be A) making money or B) sitting around my apartment doing nothing was not an appealing prospect. Hey, I'm here; let's do some justice (did you know that feeding right before bed time inhibits a baby's ability to fall asleep but about an hour before bed time, a snack of warm milk or sliced bananas, jigging spoons, jig-and-pigs or craws, crankbaits, and finesse baits yield good results in winter months, when they tend to be more slow moving? I told you I was a little loopy and having trouble staying awake at this point).
Around 11, I was called as part of a group of 36 people. We were led to a courtroom on the 5th floor and began the voir dire process, which I believe is Latin for "audition". This consisted of the lawyers asking us personal questions about our opinions on things that may pertain to the case and even our own criminal histories. Answering incorrectly, or too correctly, could get you booted and sent back to the waiting room.
"Do I know anyone who works in law enforcement? Sure, but I don't like them...not that I dislike cops. I do! I mean, they're okay. I'm not a fanatic about it or anything. I'm not a fanatic about anything really. I'm pretty normal. This is what a normal person would say, right? Maybe I should shut up now. What was the question?"
I felt a sense of accomplishment when my name was read as one of the eight that would be retained to preside over the trial. "Ha ha! I beat you suckers", I said in my mind to the 28 losers who filed out, done for the day and free to do whatever they wanted the next...wait. Maybe I didn't really win. Oh well, it felt nice to be wanted.
"What? You want to spend time with me? You actually want me here? On purpose? You chose me over other people? And you want me to come back tomorrow? Okay, yes. I am in love with you for ever and ever too."
"Yes sir, we validate parking."
"Oh...okay. Thanks."

I left and came back bright and early (8:30) the next morning. The judge gave us instructions, very specifically mentioning more than once that Tweeting or blogging details of the proceedings was strictly forbidden. I can certainly see where this would be a thoroughly post-modern problem and something that could be difficult-but-necessary to keep under control, given the population's predilection to share details of their daily experience and how that could negatively impact efforts to conduct a fair hearing. But I felt like he was talking directly to me every time he brought it up.
The trial began, two dudes accused of felony accounts of aggravated battery with intent to cause great bodily harm. We listened to testimony, took a break, more testimony, lunch, testimony and closing arguments. By 3:30, we were in the jury room, getting ready to deliberate.
I don't know what it is about certain situations and venues that makes apparently repressed, attention-starved adults suddenly decide to act out. You see it a lot at panel discussions and seminars, where one person decides they're smarter or more interesting than the speaker and now it's showtime. In jury rooms, at least in my limited experience, suddenly everybody is the illegitimate love child of Henry Fonda in "12 Angry Men" and Angela Lansbury in "Murder She Wrote" and Atticus Finch can sit down, shut the hell up and learn a thing or two. 
"I wonder why the cops didn't..."
"These charges don't really seem to apply..."
"I'm not even sure they proved that these guys were even there!"
Luckily for me and the taxpayers of Hillsborough County, I studied at the feet for years of someone who was an absolute master of keeping meetings on track against all odds and personality quirks (she knows who she is) and even though I wasn't the official Foreman (I should have been!), I was able to subversively steer things in the right direction. Not influencing anyone's opinions about the facts of the case, mind you. That would be morally wrong. Just to keep people focused and on point. We weren't there to talk about our feelings, inherent flaws in the judicial system or detective theories that would make Sherlock Holmes take a Xanax and get in bed for three days. We were there to decide if two guys were guilty based on the evidence that was presented to us. That means if 1 + 1 + X = 3, it's not beyond a reasonable doubt for us to determine that 1 = X (this is the entirety of my understanding of algebra, by the way). I'm sorry, Dr. Kimball; there is no one-armed man. After very little debate over the nest 45 minutes or so, we returned unanimous verdicts of GUILTY in both cases.
I'm able to blog about this now because since the case is over (aside from the sentencing, with which I have no involvement whatsoever), the judge said we could talk about any and all of it to anybody we want. Which means I could tell you the names of the defendants and the nature of the crimes in full detail...but I'm not going to*. And the reason for that is I don't feel completely sure that their friends and gang family members won't track me down to chat about it if I call too much attention to it. A bailiff told us after the fact that we had done well to find them guilty because these were seriously bad dudes that need to be off the street. He wasn't kidding. I checked out their history (after the trial) and it was...extensive. One of them is facing another trial soon for shooting a woman and putting her in a wheelchair. So there's that. Apparently, I'm not just being paranoid because when we were excused, we were escorted through a series of hallways to an elevator that dropped us in an alley behind the courthouse, so we didn't have to go through the courthouse lobby and past any gang family members. This makes me glad in retrospect that I didn't make any victory gestures toward them when the verdicts were being read, like grinning and mouthing the words, "yeah, I hope you like wearing orange and drinking toilet wine for the next 20 years, assholes", while subtlely flipping them off, because I really, really wanted to. How often do you get the opportunity to flash an obscene gesture to someone who truly deserves it and they can't do anything about it without a gaggle of deputies putting them in a chokehold?

I know, I know; the courts and jails are a mess and it's entirely possible...maybe even likely...that they'll be out on the street again well before their sentences actually end. But I know that I had a part in keeping them out of circulation for a little while, and if that prevents even one person from being the victim of a crime they would have committed, then that's something I can feel good about. 
Criminals can kiss my ass.

* if you really want to know, message me directly and I'll tell you all about it privately.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Justice is now being served

This blog is on temporary hiatus as I have spent the last two very long days performing my civic duty by participating in the great American justice system as a member of a jury. Click here to see what happened the last time this was supposed to happen (all I can say is thank goodness the mailman figured it out this time). 
New fart jokes here on Friday...probably.

Friday, January 06, 2012

That's no es nice

Hey Spanish-speaking people;
I sincerely respect and appreciate your culture and heritage and personally, I find your native language beautiful. I wish I could speak it myself but I can not. Although, having lived here in Tampa as long as I have, I  have been able to pick up some things...
...and this isn't nice, guys.
Sure, nobody ever wants to give birth to a two-headed baby that grows up to be lawyers. So technically, I guess it's correct; but there has to be a more delicate way to refer to an unfortunate circumstance like that than this.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The mark of true professionalism!

This is the latest handbill to find itself stuck on my front door:
Gee, I don't know; my taxes aren't very complicated at all. I don't know if I need a professional service to do them. Plus, I've really never heard of your firm...Wait a minute, what's that say in the two-star blue banner?

Oh shit! AS SEEN ON YARD SIGN? Well hell, why didn't you say so in the first place?!? After all, every one of my household conveniences are AS SEEN ON TV, I'm constantly on the lookout for fugitives AS SEEN ON WANTED POSTERS and I was introduced to my pet sitter from AS SEEN ON FLYER IN LAUNDRY ROOM WITH LITTLE TEAR-OFF PHONE NUMBERS CUT AS FRINGE ALONG THE BOTTOM. Who else would I hire to do my taxes besides somebody AS SEEN ON A PIECE OF CORRUGATED PLASTIC ON A STICK SHOVED INTO THE GROUND BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD?

Monday, January 02, 2012

2011, The most extremiest year of extremes yet!

Some things about this past year were really great while other things really sucked. That makes 2011 truly unique, just like every other year ever. However, I'm not going to waste anyone's time with yet another year-in-review list. That's because, unlike past years, I think everything can be summed up with two names: Charlie Sheen and Tim Tebow. 
As we race headlong toward more and more radical extremes (We are the lunatic fringe because, guess what? It's ALL fringe!) there aren't two more perfect individuals to symbolize who we are and what we stand for. Like Batman and the Joker, Tim and Charlie would appear to be polar opposites, yet they do share some common ground. 
In Charlie, we have the embodiment of the reckless and nihilistic pursuit of fame and self satisfaction whose every antic is documented.
In Tim, we have the throwback to kindler, gentler, more humble, more pious ideals that people who miss the 1950s are always touting.
Yes, the twin ambassadors of 2011 really have nothing in common on the surface. However, both are mocked openly for the views they express and both have a large percentage of followers who would like nothing better than to see them fail spectacularly.
What could possibly be a better lead-in to 2012, a presidential election year?