Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Smoothie operator

Someday soon, I'm going to get myself a smoothie maker (I told somebody I was going to get a blender and make smoothies and was told emphatically that they're not the same thing). Smoothies are fun, colorful and good for you. Have you ever seen anyone drinking a smoothie in a bad mood? No, you have not, because it's impossible. Just saying the word "smoothie" makes you smile, whether you want to or not. When I get my smoothie maker, I'm going to commit to using it frequently and making all kinds of fresh, fun, healthy, colorful, delicious beverages. I'm pretty sure I will go insane in the process. I'm also pretty sure I won't be the first, because I bet this happens a lot...

First smoothie

  • Bananas
NOTE: Nothing to it! Pretty bland though.

Second smoothie

  • Bananas
  • Cup of vanilla yogurt
NOTE: Fancy!

Third smoothie

  • Bananas
  • Cup of vanilla yogurt
  • Strawberries
NOTE: Nobody really knows why, but bananas and strawberries are frequently paired up. Bananas and strawberries are the Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson of fruits.

Fourth smoothie

  • Bananas
  • Cup of vanilla yogurt
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
NOTE: Why not?

Fifth smoothie

  • Bananas
  • Cup of vanilla yogurt
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • A blorp of peanut butter
NOTE: Stick a spoon into a jar of peanut butter and pull out as much as you possibly can. Flick it into the smoothie maker. Whatever comes off the spoon is one blorp. Now lick the rest of the peanut butter off of the spoon. You're just cleaning the spoon so this doesn't count as eating it.

Sixth smoothie
  • Bananas
  • Cup of vanilla yogurt
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • A blorp of peanut butter
  • Chunks of pineapple
NOTE: About time we introduced citrus into the mix.

Seventh smoothie
  • Bananas
  • Cup of vanilla yogurt
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • A blorp of peanut butter
  • Chunks of pineapple
  • Carrots
NOTE: Can vegetables be part of a smoothie? Of course they can!

Eighth smoothie
  • Bananas
  • Cup of vanilla yogurt
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • A blorp of peanut butter
  • Chunks of pineapple
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber slices
NOTE: As is always the case, introducing a cucumber into the situation makes things a little weird but whatever. I can do whatever I want. Soon, my colon will be eligible to compete in those strong man competitions on ESPN.

Ninth smoothie
  • Bananas
  • Cup of vanilla yogurt
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • A blorp of peanut butter
  • Chunks of pineapple
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber slices
  • Celery
NOTE: Oh my God, I really CAN do whatever I want. The only limits are those I impose upon my own imagination. There are no rules! There are no ramifications for my actions! I am become smoothie, the blender of foods! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! 

Tenth smoothie
  • Bananas
  • Cup of vanilla yogurt
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • A blorp of peanut butter
  • Chunks of pineapple
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber slices
  • Celery
  • Asparagus
  • Grilled onions
  • Ham
  • Sardines
  • Coffee beans
  • A potato
  • Helium
  • Feta cheese
NOTE: Clean smoothie maker and put it away. Sit quietly in the dark for many hours, contemplating the gravity of our decisions and how they shape us and the world around us. Wait about a month. Start over with first smoothie. Repeat.

Hit the switch

There are people who believe that folks choose their sexual orientation, that it's no different than picking between ice cream flavors. They also believe that if you choose to be gay, you can choose to be un-gay. It's simply a matter of resolve and will power. Most people today don't subscribe to that, but I think there was a time not that long ago when that was a pretty prevalent opinion.
In a way, it's a shame that's no longer a widely-held belief. Because the ability to swap sexual preferences at will, if managed properly, could be a very effective social defense mechanism.
Think about it; you're on a "boys night out". It's late, you've eaten all the chicken wings you possibly can, the game is over, you want to go home but somebody orders another round of beers.

"Not for me, thanks. Can I get some water?"
"Water?!? Come on! What's wrong with you?"
"Nothing's wrong with me. But I'm gay now."
"Oh. Okay."

Odds are they won't challenge you on the grounds that gay people can like sports, chicken wings and beer until it's too late. But even if they do...

"So what? Since when can't gay people drink beer?"
:You're trying to keep me here against my will. That's illegal. And since I'm gay now, it's also a hate crime."

Listen, there's nothing we can do about our ethnic background, even though there are occasions when it would be handy to play what's known as "The Race Card". But that's not the case with sexual orientation because it's not something people can determine on sight and it's not even something you'd have to prove!

"If you're gay, go have sex with that guy."
"Here at Hooters?"
"I'm not attracted to him."

You can be gay and never have sex with anybody. Maybe you're inclined to be asexual. Or have ridiculously high standards. Point being, if you decide to turn gay or straight, nobody can question it.

But providing an escape from your douchebag frat-boy friends isn't the only thing this would be good for. There are countless practical applications. Say you see a girl who is impossibly out of your league...

"Hi there. Do you want to dance?"
"With you? Seriously? HA HA HA HA HA!"
"No? Okay, well, I just turned gay. How about if we dance and I totally feel you up in an ironic funny and not sexual way?"
"Sounds awesome!"

Later, back at her place...

"I like this dress but let me take it off in front of you and try on another one..."
"I'm not gay anymore."
"Oh damn it."
"Look, I've groped you on a dance floor, I've seen you naked, we drank wine and I'm here. We might as well go ahead and have sex."
"I can't argue with that logic."

The next day...

"I wouldn't have guessed, but you're really a great guy! Listen, I know this is sudden since we just met last night, but what do you think about spending the weekend together?"
"No can do. I'm gay again."
"That's okay. I have tickets to see 'Hairspray' at the performing arts center Saturday night!"
"Ooh, no. The Rays are in town and I'll be straight again by then."

A week or so goes by and you give her a call...

"Hey. So I know I was gay the last time we talked but..."
"Forget it. I'm a lesbian right now."
"That's cool! I'm straight now and I kinda dig lesbians!"
"Okay, then I'm straight right now too, just long enough to reject you on the grounds that I'm out of your league. But later I'm going to be a lesbian and I'm going to hook up with a girl as hot as I am. I need you to know that and to know that you won't be involved in any way shape or form. All right?"
"Oh damn it."

Hey, fair is fair.

Monday, July 29, 2013

These dollars make no sense to me

I've worked in sports off and on for almost 30 years but I have absolutely no idea how sports finance works. That should come as no surprise since I have no idea how real finance works (often have been the times when I've paid for something with my debit card and felt like I was squeezing the trigger in the third round of a game of Russian Roulette) but in sports, where numbers just seem to appear to people in visions of flaming pies, I have no chance of comprehending what's going on.

The latest bit of financial news to come out of the world of sports that made me cock my head to the side like a dog hearing Yoko Ono for the first time was the announcement that the state of Michigan, my old home, is going to make up to $450 million dollars in taxpayer money available to build a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings. The main reason I was confused was I had just read this list of facts I came across the day before at The Economic Collapse blog:
1) At this point, the city of Detroit owes money to more than 100,000 creditors.
2) Detroit is facing $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities.  That breaks down to more than $25,000 per resident.
3) Back in 1960, the city of Detroit actually had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.
4) In 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit.  Today, there are less than 27,000.
5) Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost.
6) There are lots of houses available for sale in Detroit right now for $500 or less.
7) At this point, there are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city.
8) About one-third of Detroit's 140 square miles is either vacant or derelict.
9) An astounding 47 percent of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.
10) Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point.
11) If you can believe it, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.
12) Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, but over the past 60 years the population of Detroit has fallen by 63 percent.
13) The city of Detroit is now very heavily dependent on the tax revenue it pulls in from the casinos in the city.  Right now, Detroit is bringing in about 11 million dollars a month in tax revenue from the casinos.
14) There are 70 "Superfund" hazardous waste sites in Detroit.
15) 40 percent of the street lights do not work.
16) Only about a third of the ambulances are running.
17) Some ambulances in the city of Detroit have been used for so long that they have more than 250,000 miles on them.
18) Two-thirds of the parks in the city of Detroit have been permanently closed down since 2008.
19) The size of the police force in Detroit has been cut by about 40 percent over the past decade.
20) When you call the police in Detroit, it takes them an average of 58 minutes to respond.
21) Due to budget cutbacks, most police stations in Detroit are now closed to the public for 16 hours a day.
22) The violent crime rate in Detroit is five times higher than the national average.
23) The murder rate in Detroit is 11 times higher than it is in New York City.
24) Today, police solve less than 10 percent of the crimes that are committed in Detroit.
25) Crime has gotten so bad in Detroit that even the police are telling people to "enter Detroit at your own risk".
Now, I can do the basic four math functions (add, subtract, multiply and divide) so maybe I need algebra or calculus to answer the question I'm left with after processing this information:
How many illiterate people still hanging around and raising children in poverty are willing to venture out after dark into the city streets where they can expect to wait almost an hour if they're a victim of a crime, followed -maybe- by a ride in an antique ambulance, will fill the seats at 41 Red Wings home games (not counting playoffs) every year?
By the way, I'm from Benton Harbor, where Main Street has looked like this since the 1970s
We never had any professsional sports franchises though.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Lesson learned: Never underestimate our love of sharks

Last week, the pop culture universe was utterly consumed by the "Sharknado" phenomenon. I have to admit, I wasn't on board, dismissing the whole thing sight unseen. I assumed it was the movie equivalent of those cheeseburgers with donuts instead of buns you get at the fair; a ludicrously over-the-top premise you enjoy as a concept but would never actually partake. Turns out I may have judged too harshly and missed out. Reviews from people I know and respect who watched it range from "Not nearly as bad as you'd think" to "Actually very entertaining". Well, okay then. I will make a point of watching it.

In the meantime, I should try to cash in on our apparently deep love of shark-infested everything. Here are some ideas I have for which I can produce scripts in 24 to 36 hours. Well-financed producers should contact me at their earliest convenience. Thanks!

Asharkolypse Now (aka Shark of Darkness)
A marine biologist is dispatched to assassinate the megalomaniac renegade leader of the sharks. He, of course, fails.

The Sharking Dead
Shark zombies

What happens when the American electoral process is subverted at all levels by evil, conniving, man-eating, ocean-dwelling predators? A government by the sharks, of the sharks and for the sharks (Plot twist: the overall quality of life for most Americans actually improves)

Shark to the Future
Sharks master time travel (Plot twist: terrifying in any era)

Barton Shark
An award-winning Broadway playwright who is also a shark is lured to Hollywood with promises of untold riches and develops a crippling case of writer's block. Before you dismiss this outright, ask yourself who is filling the niche of quirky, absurdist, postmodern, existential dramas about sharks? You, possibly?

Once they bite you, you become one of them! Unless they eat you completely up.

Blazing Sharks
All I really have so far is that this would be a western. There's a great campfire scene, though (shark farts!),

Doctor Sharkvago
Chronicling the years prior to, during and after the Russian Revolution as seen through the cold, dead eyes of a shark.

Beverly Hills Shark
Cultures clash in this fish-out-of-water (HA!) comedy.

The comedic exploits of shark doctors and shark nurses during a war of some sort, presumably between sharks.

Robo. Shark. Come on!

A Shark Grows in Brooklyn
The trials and tribulations of a family living in a Brooklyn tenement during the turn-of-the century. In spite of their best intentions, their efforts are invariably doomed to failure, because there's a shark in the neighborhood who keeps eating them.

Seven Brides for Seven Sharks
Misguided sharks with romantic aspirations kidnap women with the hopes of marrying them. They eventually smarten up and eat them instead. (Plot twist: There will be more than seven sharks)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pledge and get perked!

As the entertainment industry continues to undergo evolutionary changes, I've become a huge fan of these new pledge-based funding platforms that have sprung up. In case you're not familiar with them and how they work, what happens is an artist who needs funding for a project launches a campaign where they explain to the public (and ideally, a target audience) what they want to do and how much it will cost. Individuals decide whether they want to support that effort and to what extent. In exchange, the artist offers "perks", in the form of exclusive rewards, for their pledges. If the campaign is a success, the patron is charged at that time while the artist receives the funds and goes on to complete their project. If for whatever reason the campaign falls short of it's expressed goal, the artist receives nothing and the patron pays nothing.
To me, this is ideally organic and democratic. It's truly grassroots and fan-friendly, elements that have traditionally been absent or, at best, artificially simulated in the entertainment industry. The market decides if it wants the product based on potential merit without the undue influence of a loud, obnoxious marketing campaign. I mean, the strength of the artist's appeal certainly plays a role but that's a one-time pitch direct from the source. It also allows the patron to determine at which level they want to contribute (some campaigns will accept as little as five bucks) and they're rewarded proportionately for going above and beyond with their support. Seriously, what's more democratic than that? Rebekah Pulley funded her latest album "Tra La La" this way via Kickstarter. Backers who pledged $5 got a sticker while those who pledged $250 or more to that campaign were treated to homemade eggplant parmesan from bassist Rob Pastore. Spike Lee has launched a Kickstarter to fund his next movie. A pledge of $5 to that project gets you a personal thank you and behind the scenes updates and $10,000 will put you in a front row seat next to the award-winning director at a New York Knicks game.

Another platform that operates the same way is Pledge Music, where fDeluxe (formerly known as The Family), a band that is near and dear to my heart personally, is trying to finance their next album. Here's some background for those of you who are not Purpleheads or Prince freaks or whatever it is we're being called these days:

  • In the mid-1980s, Prince was at the height of his commercial fame and was using his influence to spin off a number of new bands and side projects for his Paisley Park record label, most of whom produced little or no material. There are two artists and two eponymous albums that came out of that period that remain highly regarded all these years later. One was Jill Jones in 1987 and the other was The Family in 1985. The Family was a funk band with jazz influences and was comprised of Paul "St. Paul" Peterson, Susannah Melvoin, saxophonist Eric Leeds, drummer "Jellybean" Johnson and Jerome Benton. Their one and only album had only eight songs (including the first recorded version of "Nothing Compares 2 U") and the band never toured but they've been held in high regard by Prince fans for almost 30 years now. In 2003, they got together to perform at a charity function and in 2007, Peterson, Melvoin, Leeds and Johnson started making plans to work together again as a band. Reforming as "fDeluxe" and out out from under the control of Prince, they released the album "Gaslight" in 2011. 
Thanks to the access provided by the internet, fans were able to tune in to recording sessions and interact with the band via UStream feeds. Thanks to that accessibility, I've been able to interact and get to know Paul Peterson a little bit. In a weird, "it's-a-small-world" circumstance, he hooked me up with an interview with his daughter Taylor for a story I wrote for about Jack Jablonski and Jenna Privette that had nothing to do with music. It's connections like these that make me sad for people who don't see the positive aspects of participating in social media.

Anyway, I made my pledge and look forward to receiving and listening to my autographed CD, where my name will be listed in the "thank you"s in the liner notes. ,click here to contribute and get a nice juicy perk of your own. You can listen to the songs from "Gaslight" there too.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Irony is not always delicious

I'm still away doing whatever it is I'm doing (there's slight, barely measurable progress on that front) but I wanred to chime in on something while it's still timely (plus the idea of my traffic numbers crashing to utter zero is really depressing) so I'm sneaking in here real quick.

The matter at hand: the Rolling Stone cover. Specifically, this Rolling Stone cover

A lot of people are very upset about the photo on the cover. Many of them are people I know and respect. They're boycotting the magazine and supporting merchants who are boycotting it. They're also missing the point.
If they (you) would actually read the article inside, they (you) would see that the picture isn't intended to portray Dzokhar Tsarnaev as some sort of rock star (the root of much of the displeasure being voiced), it's to portray him as an average, ordinary kid. At least that's the front he displayed so effectively for so long that his closest friends are still trying to come to terms with his involvement in the Boston bombing.
And therein lies the problem: by being so put off by the cover of a magazine, people won't even consider reading an article inside that illustrates how this happened, thereby increasing the possibility it could, and probably will, happen again. It's the equivalent of freaking out when you see a woman at an airport wearing a burqa while you smile and wave at your next door neighbor who's stockpiling fertilizer.

For more, read Kelly DeBie's excellent take on the matter.
Also, please, read the actual article yourself. Clicking this link will allow you to do so without buying the magazine.

Okay, I'm off again. The next time I sneak on, I'll try to bring something funny/

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Time in, some clarification, then time out again

That last update came out kind of cryptic. Don't you hate it when people do that? Me too. It's such a pathetic, transparent, passive-aggressive attempt to get attention. Sorry. I was in a hurry and that wasn't my intent.

Anyway, I'm not in danger or in trouble. I'm just going to be busy taking care of a personal matter and I'm not going to have time to devote to the blog on a consistent basis.
Okay, I know that still sounds kind of cryptic. But it's not for passive-aggressive, attention-seeking purposes, I promise. I just don't want to get into it right now. If for some reason you're concerned, rest assured that I am not:

  • Going to jail
  • Having surgery
  • Running a meth dealing operation in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • On location shooting a delightful romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston
  • Seeking asylum because of my involvement with WikiLeaks
  • Pregnant
  • Attending comic-con in San Diego
  • Tracking down some dude and killing him because he needs killin'
  • Joining a cult
  • Starting a cult
  • Disbanding a cult I formed secretly back in the '80s
  • Getting married
  • Following Phish
  • At Disneyworld
Everything is cool and I'll be back soon, some time after the first of August I think.

Sorry about the unease, if any, caused by the previous update.

Cool? Good. Go back to sleep.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Time out

Sorry, guys. I have to go offline for a while and take care of something. Probably about two weeks. No new stuff til then but I'll be back.

Kids gotta learn!

Ha ha ha! Okay, okay. Settle down, kids. I can tell by your reactions in this video that some of you are confused that anyone could have a problem with something so simple and harmless and I think I know why: obviously, you children are too young and unsophisticated to understand that many adults, those people who are older than you and are entrusted with your safety and well-being, simply don't have it together. I know this is unpleasant to hear, being as you rely on these people for basic things like food and shelter and not catching polio.
Ouch, huh? Yeah, I know.

But the sad fact is, when you really boil it down to the very essence, precious few of us grown-ups are actually anywhere near as smart as we think we are. Allow me to explain.

What many of us have done as we've grown older and matured is acquired bad habits as a result of irrational fears and a reluctance to accept responsibility for the consequences of our actions. For many of us, this is what we refer to as "knowledge". As a result, we ignore our natural instincts, as well as common sense and book learnin', and rely on this "knowledge" to guide our decisions instead. For example, in the case of race relations, we ignore the natural instinct to judge individuals as threats or allies based on their actual behavior and treatment of us in favor of our "knowledge" that Other People (in this case, those with different skin color) are inherently bad. We acquire this "knowledge" from various sources. Maybe our friends or relatives or other people we trust have told us about their bad experiences dealing with these Other People. Maybe we made some bad choices and blame our resultant misfortune in life on the Other People, which is far easier than taking responsibility for it. It's all part of acquiring "knowledge"!

I can see you're still kind of confused by all of this. That's okay; you just haven't acquired that much "knowledge" yet. At this point, you might be asking, "well, why are you jerks still in charge, being as you've abandoned basic common sense in favor of nonsensical panic reactions when it comes to making decisions?" Well, that's just the way it is and it's going to stay that way, all right? We have lawyers, guns and money. You don't want to mess with us.

Let's stay focused, shall we? Now, there's a reason I keep putting the word "knowledge" in quotes and why I say this is the case for many, but not all, of us. And that's because it doesn't apply to ALL adults. Some of us DO have actual knowledge and apply it to problems we face in our daily lives in attempts to improve ourselves and the world around us. The rest of everybody are dumbasses. And while ALL of us acknowledge the existence of dumbasses everywhere, all over the place, all of the damn time, NONE of us believe that we might be one of them. In other words, none of us are very good at math.

This presents a challenge for you as children: figuring out which of us you should actually pay attention to and learn from and which of us are just dumbasses to be avoided. I wish I could be more of a help here, but after watching this video, I really only have three pieces of advice to guide you:

  1. The more someone presents themselves as being smarter than anyone else, the less likely that is to be true. If you encounter an adult who says they have all the answers, I promise you that person is a guaranteed dumbass. Run fast in the opposite direction when you come across these people. Don't stop until you find someone whose favorite scent is not that of their own farts. This may take a while so you may have to run far. Good thing you're eating Cheerios to help stay in shape. Good for you! 
  2. Trust your instincts until you have a reason not to. You're already pre-loaded with some pretty good ideas about what is good or bad. If you rely on just those and nothing else, you're probably going to turn out okay. There will be exceptions and those exceptions will probably result in you getting hurt a couple of times but the trade-off there is you'll be compensated with actual first-hand life knowledge insteadd of second-hand dumbass "knowledge"
  3.  Cheerios taste pretty terrible. Regular Cheerios, anyway. The Honey Nut kind is pretty good.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Some ground rules before we, well, you, fight

I know a lot of you are pretty raw about the outcome of the Zimmerman trial, with a verdict of Not Guilty handed down late Saturday night, and I know that applies to people of all different viewpoints. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I'm not going to try to influence anyone's. If it really matters to you where I fall on the matter, all I'll say is that as someone who is a resident of the state where this occurred and someone who is vehemently opposed to getting shot, I'm dismayed by any development that sets a precedent that makes it legally easier for other residents of this state to shoot me. Most people form their opinions on matters like this from their own personal experience and research but I also think some of you just like to fight. I'm not here to tell you not to fight either. I gave up on that during the last preseidential election. If that's your thing, by all means, knock yourselves out. Literally. I would like to throw out a couple of things for you to consider before you commence to ripping each other's heads off though.

First and foremost, if you're drawing any kind of comparisons between this and the OJ trial, find a bus moving at a high rate of speed and stand in front of it, please. You're making an ass of yourself and that's honestly the best thing for everybody involved.

Secondly, I'm seeing and hearing a lot of "what if" statements:

  • What if Trayvon was white?
  • What if Zimmerman was black?
  • What if Trayvon was over 18?
  • What if Trayvon had been armed?
  • What if Zimmerman was a woman?
None of these are facts in the case so none of them are things the jury could have or should have taken into consideration. When you propose "what if" scenarios to back your argument, your expectation is that people will alter their opinion based on circumstances that don't exist. That renders your argument instantly invalid.

Third, and most important, don't speak in asinine absolutes.

  • White people don't care when black people get killed.
  • Black people introduce race into everything.
If you honestly believe rhetoric like that, please follow the advice given in the first point. If you don't and you're just saying it because this incident has you fired up, look at what you're doing. You're putting your opponent in a position where they have to defend themselves by denying something that doesn't even have to do with this case. It's counter-productive. So don't do it. In fact, don't do it, ever, under any circumstances. Because that thinking will always be counter-productive.

Thanks. Now, have at it.

Join me at the diner

I had the pleasure and privilege of appearing on the ArtSee's Diner Radio show last week. Check it out!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Tanks, PETA

Our local baseball team, the Tampa Bay Rays, is in trouble with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) because Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera hit a home run into a tank of cownosed rays that the team has on display in center field. PETA sent the team a letter, asking them to remove the tank because the rays are in danger.

"The rays held captive at Tropicana Field not only were traumatically taken from their vast home waters but also are subject to harassment, loud crowds, and even baseballs capable of seriously injuring them," Winders said in a statement to the media. "When it comes to compassion, the Rays are batting .000."

As I've mentioned before, I wish I could be a PETA fan, but I just can't. I'm certainly pre-disposed to supporting them, since I'm generally a much bigger fan of the A's than the P in PETA. And I'm all about treating them at least ethically. In fact, even in this case, I don't think their concern is completely unreasonable. It's not hard to see baseballs flying in from 400 feet away as a potential threat. But then they use language where they refer to the rays in question being "held captive", and it's hard not to roll your eyes. A tank full of defenseless creatures under attack by a hail of projectiles is something I can take seriously. A baseball player cutting words out of magazines to make a ransom note to send to Neptune is not. Sure, the term "captive" is technically accurate. By that same token, every pet, every farm animal, is being "held captive". And maybe PETA has a problem with that too, but are we equipped to handle cats, dogs, cows, goats and chickens to run around all over the place? And this is where I have trouble standing behind PETA, and I'll bet it's the same for lots of people who think similarly; their efforts to convey concern about a serious issue come off as unreasonable and silly and they make people who might be inclined to support them tune out.

Still, it makes me think about how weird it must be to be an animal that lives in the water. We on the surface flip out every time a comet gets close. What about what aquatic creatures have to deal with on a regular basis? Living heir lives in a contained environment with weird things that don't belong there being introduced into it on a near-constant basis. Scuba divers, sinking boats, submarines, a sudden influx of petroleum products. It's a wonder that every fish isn't completely neurotic, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and in need of counselling. There's something PETA should look into.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

There's always help in The Good Book

I was watching a marathon of "The Walking Dead" this past weekend. Yeah, I've seen eery episode but it's one of those shows where if it's on, I'm probably going to watch. Anyway, as often happens when you see something more than once, I noticed stuff I hadn't noticed before. One of the things I noticed happens in season three with the character or Merle, played by Michael Rooker. The character has been portrayed from the beginning as an opportunistic, selfish, mean, dirty, redneck. Among the ways his redneck-edness has been established is a backstory that highlights his ability to survive in the wilderness, where he is an expert tracker and hunter, living in the woods and eating squirrels.
In one scene, Merle and his brother Daryl disagree about what body of water they're near. It turns out that Darryl is correct. During this same scene, Merle also misidentifies a baby crying as raccoons having sex. Shortly after, in another scene, the character of Herschel is talking to Merle and starts quoting a bible passage. Merle finishes it and correctly cites the chapter and verse.

Okay, so we're supposed to believe that the scumbag survivalist, expert outdoorsman can't correctly identify what coon love sounds like or a major terrain feature but has memorized the bible? I guess so.

I see this happen often, with tv and movie characters suddenly whipping out bible knowledge, and I'm always a little disappointed. It's a cheap trick. It's similar to decorating a set with sports memorabilia to establish a location. "Gee, this police precinct has Mets, Yankees and Knicks pennants all over the place and the lead character is wearing a Jets jersey, I guess this show takes place in New York".It's a lazy way for writers to add depth, an unexpected layer of spirituality that gives the character an interesting new dimension. Probably the most well-known example is Jules from "Pulp Fiction...
But at least he freely admits he only memorized the one passage, and only uses it on certain, special occasions. Not like he committed the entire bible, both testaments, to memory like I've seen other characters do and like never happens in real life.

Oh well. I still like the show and will continue to watch it. At least it's slightly less obvious and heavy-handed than sticking a gospel choir into a pop song and accompanying music video...

Monday, July 08, 2013

Everything old is new again

Hey, so you guys know how we haven't really invented anything (no, smaller and more technologically complex versions of stuff that already exists like phones and computers and cigarettes don't count) in a really long time, like how we're still almost entirely reliant on technology from the 1850's to power our vehicles? Well, who has time to waste on that shit when new, colorful packaging and an effective marketing campaign suffice just fine?
The other day a companion was really excited to tell me all about Mio, the flavor additive you put in water to make it taste different/better. Or as it says on the little bottle, it's a 'LIQUID WATER ENHANCER'. "It's fantastic!", she said. "You just take a bottle or glass of water, squirt some Mio into it and it becomes flavored. And you can put as much or as little of it in the water as you want, depending on your individual taste preference. It's amazing!" I stared at her for a minute and then asked, "Is it? It's something that amazes you? Is it really fantastic, in that it's extraordinarily imaginative? If I'll bet it's also awesome, as in it inspires awe!" "Yeah, it is pretty awesome. I don't know why somebody didn't come up with it before. The people who did are geniuses and are probably going to be millionaires." "I don't doubt it", I replied while providing positive feedback to her unbridled enthusiasm for this pioneering effort into the previously-unexplored frontier of LIQUID WATER ENHANCEMENT. Then I asked her, "Have you ever heard of Kool Aid?"

Friday, July 05, 2013

It's not all of you, it's me

This isn’t easy to admit, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not qualified to be a good boyfriend. This, coming on the heels of realizing a few years ago that I’m not qualified to be a good husband, kinda paints a bleak picture for the future.

Yikes. If you look at it the wrong way.

I’ve gone on lots of dates over the last couple of years and had some fine times with some lovely women. I like dating. I’m a serial dater. I’m good at it, partially because I’m lots of fun. Fun is one of my favorite things. But when things start looking like they might get a teeny, tiny little bit serious, I hit the eject button. And I mean things like “I want you to meet my friends” or “let’s listen to a different radio station” in the car. Any, any, any little signal that indicates my ability to do whatever I want whenever I want to might be even slightly at risk of being hampered in any way, I flip out. “But Clark”, you say. “That’s what being in a relationship is all about! You make some sacrifices as an individual and you actually gain so much more in the process!” To which I reply by shivering, making a sour face and saying “Ugh!”

Isn’t that awful? I know it is. It’s a horrible, selfish and immature attitude. What an asshole! It’s not something I’m proud of, but I own it and I’m okay with it. Not seeking pity here. Seriously. Don't want it, don't need it, will not accept it. That's something that also makes me make facrs and go "ugh". You know how even the bravest, most inspiring blind person eventually has to say, "well, I guess I'm never going tp be a fighter pilot"? That's kind of like this, without the bravery, inspiration or combat aircraft..

I’ll give you a little glimpse into how I came to this conclusion and why I’m so okay with it. On St. Patrick’s Day, I was downtown, working an event hosted by a local bar and restaurant. A couple showed up and got to the gate. The guy said, “Well, do you want to go in?” and his companion said, “Hmm, I don’t know…” You don’t know?!? How can you not know?? That’s a question you resolve before you get dressed, leave the house, drive downtown, park the car and walk up to the place. That’s how it works for me, at least. And that’s because I don’t have to consult another person on the decision. I know where I’m going and what I’m doing when I head out and if I’m late, it’s nobody’s fault but mine. It’s perfect!

“But Clark”, you say, interrupting again. “Maybe you just haven’t met the right girl.” Are you kidding me? As if I haven’t met anyone good enough for me? Come on. Don’t you think I’m aware of the fact that I look like a bag of clothes that fell off the back of a Goodwill truck during a rainstorm? This is not a case of the women of the world failing to live up to the legend of Me. I’ll still go on dates, because as I mentioned, that’s fun, but I’m taking myself out of consideration for boyfriend (and whatever comes after that) status. This is a good, sound decision; it means I don’t have to worry about ruining somebody else’s life and vice versa.

The one part I haven’t really worked out is what if something “bad” happens. I’m pretty sure I could be missing for a week before anybody noticed I was gone and another week after that before anybody came looking for me. That could be problematic if I were to be standing on my toilet seat to change a lightbulb, slipped and got my foot stuck in the toilet. Or something.

Obviously there some minor, unresolved details. But overall, yeah.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Coming soon: a new interview

Normally, I don't like to use this space to tease upcoming stuff but I haven't written anything (and do I have a good reason for that? No, I do not. Geez, could I somehow be more of a selfish, lazy asshole? I don't know; buy my book) so I thought I'd let you know about an upcoming interview with singer/songwriter Nicholas Megalis to promote his new album, due out later this summer.
Nicholas is very talented in his own write, having already released one album ("Praise Be, Hype Machine") and opening for Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails in Cleveland a while back. He also comes from a crazy talented family. Honestly, everybody in his family is really, really good at something artistic. It's very discouraging. If you think you've heard of him from somewhere else, it's entirely possible. Nicholas is one of the first breakout artists on Vine, the new media platform consisting of very short videos. There, he's kind of a combination of Adam Sandler and "Weird Al", as you'll see in this compilation.

We'll be talking about music, comedy, videos and other strange topics, like how I want to be adopted by the Megalis family, So look forward to that in the next couple of weeks.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Men and women: our stuff is different

Ladies, ladies, ladies: I'm here with a reminder. Some of our stuff is different. Specifically, I'm talking about razors. Lady razors are pink and curvy with flowers on them. They're assembled in meadows by delightful singing and dancing forest creatures. Your razors look like this:
Really, really sharp. Yet, adorable!

Our razors, the ones that men use, are produced in factories with lots of laser beams and sparks, the same ones that make F-1 race cars and fighter jets, by terminator robots we've vanquished in fist fights and forced back into subjugation. They have a minimum of five blades:

  1. Taunts the whiskers
  2. Drives by the whiskers' home and glares menacingly
  3. Follows the whiskers home from work
  4. Does the dirty work
  5. Takes care of any witnesses
And just in case you weren't absolutely sure that they are designed by and marketed to men, they look like this:
Placement of attachments: unavoidable
 You gals try shaving with that thing, you're almost guaranteed to get pregnant. So avoid our razor-penises, for your sake and ours. Thanks!