Wednesday, December 31, 2014

THIS JUST IN!

"We are getting reports that something terrifying has happened at the mall. Here is video recorded live at the scene:"
Video recorded LIVE at the scene!
"Now, there is no word yet on whether or not it's a shooting, or if it is, whether it's one of the good ones. All we can say is that something terrifying has happened and continues to be happening. Probably a shooting. Take a look at this video recorded live at the scene:"
Video recorded LIVE at the scene!
"It's important to note that some of those people do not appear to be terrified. They are probably in a state of shock. Let's go to a live report from the mall. Lester?"

"Hi Bob. I'm not actually at the mall. I don't know if you've heard, but something terrifying is happening there. Probably a shooting."

"Well, what can you tell us about the video recorded live at the scene?"

"It would appear that people are fleeing and terrified."

"What do you suppose that is?"

"Something terrifying. Like a shooting."

"To be clear, we are not saying this is a shooting."

"No, of course not. That would be irresponsible."

"But shootings are terrifying."

"And these people are terrified."

"Let's take another look:"
Video recorded LIVE at the scene!
"At this point, the only thing that can reasonably... and legally... be assumed at this point is that everybody you do not see in this video is currently unaccounted for, and could be seriously wounded or dead maybe. There's just no way to know at this point. All we can do is show the video again:"
Video recorded LIVE at the scene!
"That... is terrifying."

"Bob, police are on the scene and are saying that it is not a shooting."

"Details are still emerging as this situation continues to develop."

"The police say that they have been releasing statements for the the last 20 minutes, confirming that this is definitely not a shooting."

"Well, we have some Twitter reports from people at the mall who say they heard what sounded like firecrackers."

"Yeah, but the police are pretty emphatic. They said that absolutely no shots were fired."

"Firecrackers can be terrifying."

"That's true. Especially when they're gunshots and not firecrackers."

"Exactly! Roll the video:"
Video recorded LIVE at the scene!
"We're joined now by our resident psychological expert, Dr. Carl Von Trimble. Dr. Von Trimble, what can you tell us about what's happening here?"

"Well, keep in mind that I have absolutely no idea what is happening as I have just seen this video for the first time. What's going on? Is that at the mall?"

"Yes, the mall where something terrifying, not unlike a mass shooting, appears to be taking place."

"In that case, my expert analysis is that I agree."

"Want to see the video again?"

"Oh yes, please!"
Video recorded LIVE at the scene!
"We'll be right back to continuous coverage of this terrifying, mall-mass-shooting-esque incident. Stay tuned and stay terrified."

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Holiday Time Extravaganza!

Oh no, did you think I forgot my annual Happy Holidays gift to you, that being the most beloved animated Christmas feature since that one with the neurotic, round-headed kids running around like maniacs and learning life lessons?

Ho ho ho, you misguided idiot!

Every year, since 2010 I've shared with you the whimsical adventure of a foul-mouthed robot's attempts to enjoy the holiday season in spite of the efforts of his stick-in-the-mud, play-it-by-the-book, sucking-every-possible-ounce-of-enjoyment-from-his-life girlfriend, and there's no reason to stop now. So sit back and relax for four minutes and seven seconds whilst you enjoy the YouTube video that has been by literally dozens (just over three dozens, actually) of people, "A Merrily Inconsistent Christmas"!



And with that, I'm off for a while. See ya real soon.
Joyful and triumphant

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Santa Story! Kind of.

(WARNING! This story is not appropriate for little kids. You'll see why.)

This is a true story that happened to me a long time ago, when I was but a wee ankle-biter. A third grade student to be exact.
I was in Mrs. Reed's social studies class at Lybrook Elementary School, learning about Christopher Columbus. Actually, we were learning how people considered Columbus to be either brave or foolish, because people back then thought the world was flat and that if you sailed to the horizon, there was a very high likelihood that you'd go right over the edge and fall off of Earth. We as a class were having difficulty processing how something so silly could be a widely-held belief when Mrs. Reed interjected. "It's really not that hard to understand. Large groups of people are frequently led to believe things that seem impossible. For instance, how old were you when you found out there was no Santa Claus?"
"Um, well, what time is it right now?"
I have no idea what followed because it was all drowned out by the sounds of minds exploding. Suddenly, 30 sets of wide-with-horror eyes were scanning the room for each other. It was like Mrs. Reed had just summarily executed Santa right in front of us. Worse, really. It was more like she had rendered null and void any possibility that he had ever existed in the first place. A few kids had looks on their faces that read, "It all adds up now..." but otherwise, we were devastated. Of course, nobody would admit that afterward when we interacted with one another. But we knew. We all knew. A major piece of what had defined our very existence had just been erased.
"Duh. I could have told you Santa Claus wasn't real. What? No, I haven't been crying!"
I recovered, obviously, since I basically had no choice, although I have remained quite bitter about the situation. After all, Mrs. Reed didn't teach us anything important... or, you know, true... about Christopher Columbus, choosing instead to take that opportunity to assassinate a beloved figure of folklore and completely decimate a belief system that my classmates and I had built our young lives upon. It would be a long time before I found out (on my own) that Christopher Columbus "discovered" America in the 15th century about the same way that I "discovered" Burger King last Thursday.
"Hey everybody, look what I found! Yeah, it's been around for years and years and there were already a whole bunch of people there doing stuff when I got there and many more travelling around outside who already knew about it but yeah, I 'discovered' this."
Yeah, I'm not sure that whole situation couldn't have been handled better.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Space invaders

The other day, I was enjoying a perfectly wonderful little breakfast at El Gallo De Oro, one of my favorite hole-in-the-wall (that's a compliment, by the way) restaurants in West Tampa. Eggs, yellow rice, chorizo sausage, Cuban toast and coffee. Wonderful way to start the day. I like West Tampa because it really is a convivial family community, where most people seem to know each other. That actually worked against me on this particular day.
As I'm sitting there and enjoying my perfectly wonderful breakfast, some guy at a nearby table came over to share something with the people at the table right next to me, turning my view to this:
Pray tell, what is the proper etiquette when you need to express "Excuse me, could you please get your ass out of my face?" or at least "Please don't fart on my bread"? I don't think it would be out of line to express concern about either or both of those things. Of course, I didn't do anything. I tried to be classy about it by staying calm and patient, hoping he would figure it out and either adjust or move completely away. He didn't and I never said anything, so I guess I deserved what I got.

Then, the other night I was eating dinner at Miguel's, a local Mexican restaurant when two families who know each other bumped into each other and had an extended reunion... at my table.
These aren't great pictures; they're dark and blurry and it's hard to tell, but there were about eight people in the merged group and they all hung out there and caught up on what sounded like a couple of years worth of updates while I tried in vain to enjoy my chips and salsa in peace, again not saying or doing anything about it other than waiting for them to figure out that what they were doing was obnoxious.

I can't say these people or the guy above are rude. I think they're inconsiderate. It never occurred to them that what they were doing might be impacting anyone else. Why would it? After all, they are the beginning, center and end of their own personal universes. To be alerted that other people even exist, let alone that those people might regard an uninvited occupation of their personal space as a source of discomfort, would probably be a huge surprise to them.
In my opinion, that's worse than being rude. At least with rude people, you know where you stand. They're rude, that's their deal. But with inconsiderate people, who knows what they're capable of?
A rude person will aggressively cut you off in traffic. An inconsiderate one will just kind of drift in and out of lanes of traffic as the mood suits them.
A rude person will push you out of the way to get a jug of orange juice at the grocery store. An inconsiderate one will leave their cart in the middle of the aisle while they read the labels on all the jugs of orange juice.
Rude people don't care. Inconsiderate people lack the self-awareness to make that kind of statement.

Of course, the real variable in all of this is me and my reaction to it. That's the only thing I can control so maybe I'll change my reaction to things like this in the future.

Monday, December 15, 2014

DON'T save the date

In case you didn't know, Saturday was December 13, 2014, notable because it was a sequential date, and even more notable as it was the last sequential date in this century. That means most of us will be dead before the next rounds of emails, Tweets and Facebook updates (because all of those things will still be around) telling us to pay attention to a certain date because it's kind of interesting to look at when you write it down.
I can't help feeling that we've lost something. Something of no or very little actual value, like a koozie given away by a radio station doing a live broadcast from a used car lot.
"I wonder whatever happened to that thing I probably threw away if I even brought it home in the first place?"
Because who cares? It's what happens... or doesn't... during a particular day that should determine your level of interest and excitement. Dates are just a way of recording time for the sake of being able to make plans or cataloging things that happen.
"Ah yes. I think I ate some really good soup that day."
It's just a labeling system. Sequential dates like 12/13/14, dates where the numbers are all the same like 12/12/12, or dates that are palindromes like 4/1/14 shouldn't rate more than a "Huh. Cool." when someone points them out to you.
And that might be too over-the-top.
Aw, don't be sad. 5/1/15 is right around the corner, thrillseekers.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Kirk Cameron to the rescue!


Oh boy, everybody! Either Kirk Cameron is saving Christmas or he has produced a movie titled "Saving Christmas". It's grammatically unclear from the poster. But one thing's for sure; KIRK CAMERON'S SAVING CHRISTMAS!

Finally, someone (Kirk Cameron) has made a movie about The War On Christmas. It's like somebody making a movie about aliens invading Earth, except that actually is something that could still exist as an actual threat. By the way, if you're someone who believes that there is such a thing as The War On Christmas, please take the following fact into account:
"100% of people who believe there is such a thing as a War On Christmas are mistaken*"
Of course, that certainly doesn't mean there can't be a movie about it. And if there is going to be a movie about The War On Christmas, it might as well be the best The War On Christmas movie ever!
Check it out:


OH MY GOD, this movie has everything!!!
  • A protagonist named "Christian" who is disillusioned about the true meaning of Christmas: Symbolism!
  • "Christian" looks kind of Jewish: Irony!
  • Associating the theme from "Rawhide" with a carjacking: Lack of cultural awareness!
  • Kirk Cameron as a creepy, leering Santa Claus ala Dan Aykroyd in "Trading Places" and Billy Bob Thornton in "Bad Santa": Throwback!
  • Kirk Cameron lecturing "Christian" on the true meaning of Christmas: Lecturing!
  • Some old-timey manger footage: Throwback!
  • White people line dancing: Umm...
  • Kirk Cameron poppin' and lockin': Ooh. Okay...
  • A black person saying vaguely black people gospel things: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Holy solid-gold X-Box wrapped in $700 headphones! Go see this movie!

So Happy Holidays or Season's Greetings, "whatever that means" (hint: It's a greeting, just like Merry Christmas. Stop being such a misanthrope and respond to it in the spirit in which it's given, dick.)

And put Christ back in Christmas, unless you want Kirk Cameron to whoop yo' ass with a candy cane!








* Source: Common sense

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Eaten Alive, Schmeaten Schmalive

I don't believe most of us walking around today would have been able to hack it as pioneers migrating to the west during the 1800s because of our aversion to and our outright rejection of anything that's even slightly uncomfortable, but I think we all would have fared just fine during the Roman Empire, when the Colosseum was booked solid with gladiator battles, public executions and other events where human heads were lopped off and launched into the stands like foul balls at a baseball game.
On Sunday, the Discovery Channel aired a program titled "Eaten Alive", during which viewers were led to believe that a man would be, well, eaten alive. Actually, the plan was for the man, wildlife author and conservationist Paul Rosolie, wearing a special snake-edible exoskeleton suit to be ingested by a 25' anaconda, hang around in there for a little while to see what's going on and then be regurgitated (TA DA!) back out. All for the alleged purpose of increasing awareness of the Amazon rainforest.
This is not what happened.
Early prototype of the snake suit, abandoned after determining anaconda's can't read English.

Instead, the snake, a different one than they intended, one who was presumably not in on the gag (HA HA!) started to swallow Rosolie's head and crush his arm (two things I would have predicted even without so much as a layman's level of experience in being eaten by giant snakes) and he called the whole thing off.

This resulted in people being very, very angry. Many, ironically, lamenting the time they had wasted (as though it would have all been totally worthwhile if the dude had simply let the snake pulverize his body and gulp him down). The Discovery issued a statement addressing the letdown, but people are still pretty jammed up about it.

"Paul created this challenge to get maximum attention for one of the most beautiful and threatened parts of the world, the Amazon Rainforest and its wildlife." - Discovery Channel

"The only thing that anaconda swallowed were the two hours of my life I'll never get back. #EatenAlive" - Zach Aplin (@Zaplin64)

"He went to great lengths to send this message and it was his absolute intention to be eaten alive." - Discovery Channel

"There's 16 minutes left and this man is not in a snake's mouth. What have they been doing for the last hour and 44 minutes?? #EatenAlive" - Amy Mariani (@AmyMariani)

"Ultimately, after the snake constricted Paul for over an hour and went for his head, the experiment had to be called when it became clear that Paul would be very seriously injured if he continued on." - Discovery Channel

"So the snake never eats the guy?  What a farce.  I'm going to bed.  #eatenalive" - Matthew Unga (@matthewunga)

"The safety of Paul, as well as the anaconda, was always our number one priority." - Discovery

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. This is bullshit. I erased a ton of 'The Bachelor' and 'Scandal' so I could DVR someone being eaten alive by a snake. You promised me someone being eaten alive by a snake and I want to see someone eaten alive by a snake. Now, it doesn't matter who it is. You can get some useless elderly person or an ugly baby that nobody wants anymore, I don't care. But you need to send a crew back out to the Floresta AmazĂ´nica and feed somebody to a goddamn giant snake, because if we can't grant a level of trust to the people who provide us educational programming like  'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo' and 'How To Be Eaten By A Goddamn Giant Snake', our society is a joke!" - Clark Brooks (@clarkbrooks)

Monday, December 08, 2014

Having fun and doing good

"When you wake up every day, you have two choices. You can either be positive or negative; an optimist or a pessimist. I choose to be an optimist. It's all a matter of perspective." - Harvey Mackay
"Harvey Mackay is clearly not a social media participant." - Clark Brooks

The fact of the matter is that sometimes it's extremely difficult to be upbeat, a lot harder than simply waking up and making a choice. There are times when it seems like we're surrounded on all sides and at all times by surly, miserable people and just horrible things. And that requires extra effort to seek out and find a reason to feel good about the world.
It sure seems that way lately. There's trouble all over the place and everybody is upset and hard to deal with. It's been depressing to the extent that I've found it difficult to maintain a sunny disposition, even at work, which is a serious problem since having a sunny disposition is a fairly significant chunk of my job description.

Speaking of where I work, our owner Jeff Vinik has initiated some high profile charitable efforts, most notably, the Lightning Community Heroes program. On a much lower profile, is a "Pay It Forward" program that exists for employees:
"In the spirit of helping others during the holiday season, we give each employee $75 and ask that that person donates the money to a holiday charity or needy family close to his/her heart."
That's it, nothing else to it. No guidelines. No minimum requirements. No required follow-up. Just take this $75 in cash and do something good with it.
Perfect. Right up my alley. Just what I need to straighten out my attitude. The problem is since I'm not a very good person to begin with and an even worse shopper, my first instinct was to go to Publix and spend it all on frozen pizza and beer and then just stand outside and hand it out to passers by. I knew I could do better with some guidance, so I enlisted the help of someone who could compensate for my shortcomings and who I know has also expressed similar frustration: the one and only Lynne Austin.
We met up at a nearby Family Dollar store last night and hijacked the manager, a relentlessly patient man named Milton, who helped us tear up and down the aisles in search of the really good bargains. $75 doesn't sound like a lot of money but we managed to fill up two and a half carts (actually, we may have exceeded that budget a bit which someone may have covered out of their own pocket).
Milton: "When it comes to canned goods, stick to the Family Dollar brand. They're only .65 instead of a dollar."
Lynne: "Get things that can be used to make soup."
Me: "Anything can be used to make soup, if you want soup bad enough."
Lynne: "What about this? Potted meat."
Clark: "No! Stay away from that. That stuff is really bad for you!"
Lynne: "Oh, it is?"
Clark: "How do I know that and you don't?" 
We got a ton of food and quite a few toys and it really was a lot of fun. At one point, this happened:
Lynne: "(laughing) Stop it. You're going to make me pee."
Clark: "I know! I'm really funny, huh?"
Lynne: "Don't flatter yourself. I've had four kids. It doesn't take much."
Anyway, when all was said and done, we had $75 (actually $100) worth of Christmas presents in the form of food, toys and other gifts heading toward The Volunteer Way, a food bank in New Port Richey, and I find myself in a much better frame of mind to deal with some of you f*ckers on Facebook.
Both of those are good.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Help me to help them in order to help you


As we all know, black people can't do what Michael Brown was accused of doing in Ferguson, Missouri, because nobody should do what Michael Brown was accused of doing in Ferguson, Missouri. Not sure most of what happened necessarily deserves a death sentence, but I'm not here to quibble over details.


In response to how that whole situation was handled (or mishandled, if you're one of those sticklers for using the correct words to describe things), there have been riots and black people were admonished for doing that.

  • "If you're gonna smash windows and throw rocks at police, expect tear gas in return," *
  • "Imagine what Chicago would look like if blacks rioted everytime a black killed a black say from gang violence," *
  • "When have u ever seen white people destroy their own community because they were upset with something black ppl did?!" *
  • "pull your pants up so you don't trip and drop your [state benefits] card" *
  • "Nonviolence is the answer" *
Okay, got it. Rioting is bad. Don't do that, black people. Stop it right now. Find some non-violent way to make your point.

Oh, God damn it! Stop happening on television, things!
On Sunday, five members of the NFL's St. Louis Rams came out on to the field (before the game itself actually began, allowing it to be played to from start to finish without further distraction or interference) displaying the 'Hands Up, Don't Shoot' gesture as a form of protest, opting not to throw bricks or smash windows. That wasn't cool either.
  • "The [sic] were great role models for future thugs." **
  • "They lost my respect! Sending a message that Blacks should be allowed to break the law with no consequences is asinine! And that's what they did with this stupid, ignorant gesture. How about teaching these troubled youth some respect for authority instead of even more contempt? They are morons." **
  • "Come on why do almost all blacks think someone is always out to get them? Its not 1800 anymore there are good people white and black. If you wanna go that route that Marcus then i could say you would still be in Africa getting ebola and throwing spears at lions... See what i did there? Same as you except im not racist." **
  • "These protests belong outside of private enterprise. If I were the cops, I'd memorize these "NFL player protestors" addresses and I would ensure that if there was trouble, I'd not show up. These guys crap on police and then want their protection in times of trouble...." **
  • "Its an absolute disgrace that these players weren't punished for this perpetuation of lies, yet a player can be suspended 6 months for spanking his kid."  **
Sooo, riots are bad; and quiet, non-violent symbolic gestures are too.
Man, this whole Freedom of Speech thing is pretty cool, right up until certain people actually want to exercise it, huh? Then it turns into a huge pain in the ass!
As the one commenter above mentioned, it's not 1800 anymore and everything has been simply awesome since. It's like some people ("almost all" of those some people, if you believe internet commenters, which is something you should almost never do) have conveniently forgotten how much time we've all devoted to sitting together at lunch counters near integrated schools, watching Jackie Robinson play baseball and not walking around with our hands in our pockets when it's cold outside since January 1st, 1801.
Anyway, in spite of how fantastic everything has been for the last 214 years, a lot of black people are angry and frustrated and I'll admit, with the tone of the feedback at both ends of the protest spectrum, I'm white and I'm not even sure what is or isn't appropriate or allowed at this point. I've got a pretty good idea what is NOT allowed, but I'm foggy on what is. So I'll tell you what; if somebody answers that question, I'll go down there (you know, to where those people live) and I'll pass it along to them. That way, everybody can be on the same page. (NOTE: "Shut the fuck up already and stop inconveniencing me with having to worry about other people's quality of life because doing so makes me uncomfortable", or anything else you wouldn't have the balls to say to someone's face because you know deep down exactly how idiotic and unfair it is, is not a valid response.)
Seriously, I don't mind. Tell me: Exactly what CAN black people do?



* = Source: BBC News
** = Source: ESPN.com

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Mischief. Mayhem. Rooftops.

The first rule of Rooftop Fight Club is "You do not talk about Women's Rooftop Fight Club".
Well, actually it's "Be very careful when you're near the edge of the roof", Because, you know, we're all up here on the roof of a building and safety first. After all, the last thing we want is for someone to be seriously injured or even killed. But right after that, the rule is "You do not talk about Women's Rooftop Fight Club".

Monday, December 01, 2014

Black Friday remorse


This note, scrawled in blood in the margins of a sales circular, was found among the debris left behind after Black Friday at a local Wal Mart:

Dear son,
I want you to know that I died tonight, here at Wal Mart, pinned between a pallet of slow-cookers and a bin full of discount DVDs, with the screams of other shoppers and chants of "World Star!" ringing in my ears. Even now, as the eternal darkness descends, I am within sight of a dwindling stack of PS4s, one of which I had hoped to get you for a Christmas gift. So close and yet so far. As the life ebbs from my mangled body and I wait to be hauled off, along with all the others, to the mass grave that is located behind every Wal Mart, I want you to know I don't regret a single thing I ever did in my life.
Except this.
In hindsight, hoo boy, this was an incredibly bad idea and I shouldn't have done it. I mean, you already have a perfectly good XBox. So I guess I only have one regret, but it's a pretty significant one, and essentially, it's all your fault. Anyway, Merry Christmas. you greedy little shit.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Clark's Favorite Things 2014 (Part VII of VII)

Thanksgiving, the holiday where we express gratitude for all the things we have in our life is followed immediately by Black Friday, the holiday where we aren't afraid to trample a bitch in order to get our hands on all the things we don't have in our life. That's today, and not coincidentally, it's the last day of Clark's Favorite Things 2014. Today, my favorite things you can buy from people without camping out in front of a store or otherwise going out into a melee, things you can buy from independent artists and writers from the comfort of your internet.

RONNY ELLIOTT MUSIC

Ronny has been around a while and has produced a lot of music. Go here, take a listen and if you like it, scoop some up! I'm partial to his latest, "I've Been Meaning To Write" because I sing on that one. Oh, I'm sorry, did I not mention that before? Yes, yes I did. Also, check out the album's review on Rambles.net.

"STEEL GODDESSES" by ANN BRANDT

"TONI has her pick of any musician who plays the Brooklyn club L'Amour, but the man she wants, guitarist DON LYDEN, remains out of her reach. In order to get one night with Don, Toni must help aging rocker-turned-party producer MARIUS MAN add to his groupie harem." Sound sexy? Hell yeah it does! Pick up your copy of the steamy heavy metal page turner here. And learn more about author Ann Brandt here.

REBEKAH PULLEY MUSIC

"There’s something so effortless about Rebekah Pulley’s songwriting, whether she’s waxing poetic on “Sweet Life,” her raw, honeyed-silk vocals harmonizing with the lower-register murmur of partner/frequent collaborator Rob Pastore against rambling, piano-driven violin-kissed melodies; crooning soulfully about wanting love and drugs to a doo-wop shuffle in “The Drug Song”; or relating a wry story in strung-together spoken-sung verses about a woman seeking salvation and finding a lot of “Hard Times” instead, the strains of sliding pedal steel and acoustic guitar winding together gently and riding an easy chugging rhythm." - from a review of her most recent album, "Tralala" in Creative Loafing (Tampa). Buy it here.

"AMONG THE HUMANS" by NOLAN WHYTE

"This is short, but an entertaining read to pass a few hours or a weekend. It's odd to see the outcast character as the straight-man in many instances, but isn't that always the case?" - from a review at GoodReads.com. Buy it here.

REBECCA ZAPEN MUSIC

"... a deeply personal CD, pulling at your collar and tugging at your sleeves long after the first play. The music is wonderful and the lyrics are intelligent, sometimes funny and often times deeply moving." - from Jacksonville.com's review of her album "Nest".  Her official site with links to listen to and buy her music is here.

MY BOOK

"Oh, what a huge surprise. Once again he's flogging that damned book of his. Who saw that coming? Sheesh." - from you guys
Hey! Come on! Like I'm going to spend two weeks on a "My Favorite Things" and not include my own book? Seriously? Look, it's the only book I've ever written (so far...hint, hint). Of course it's going to be my favorite! And check it out, if you order from Amazon.com right now, you can a great deal. Everybody wins!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Clark's Favorite Things 2014 (Part VI of VII)

Shopping is one of those things that usually qualifies as a necessary evil for me. I hate the mall. The mall is everything that is wrong with being alive, mostly the incredible waste of perfectly good time plus subjecting yourself to being treated as less than human. 
Oh God. Eff that noise.
My ideal shopping experience would be to jump out of my truck while it was still moving, execute a combat roll, run inside and get what I want, run back outside and jump back in my truck a little further down the block. In other words, to get in and out as fast as humanly possible. Usually that's the case. There are exceptions in that there are stores where I actually enjoy spending time.

Here are my favorite places to shop during those rare occasions when that is something I want to do... 

PUBLIX

Their slogan is "Where shopping is a pleasure", and more often than not, it really is. Somebody on Buzzfeed has compiled a pretty comprehensive list explaining why.

BARNES and NOBLE

I used to love spending hours and hours in record stores. Just walking around, picking stuff up with your hands and looking at it. I would usually spend way more money than I should have yet somehow, I never regretted it. Same thing with book stores. With the exception of some small independents (which are great), both record stores and book stores are pretty much a thing of the past. Thank goodness for Barnes and Noble, somehow bucking the trend. Big, comfy, cozy places where you can spend hours looking at all kinds of stuff, including music. Some of them even have toys now!  

OFFICE DEPOT/STAPLES

I love being organized. Scratch that: I love the idea of being organized. Office supply stores are a fantasy organizer's dream world. Oh, so many things I could use to get my shit together. Dry erase boards, storage boxes, highlighter pens, calendars as far as the eye can see! I could be the most efficient person on the planet... if I ever actually used the stuff I buy there for the purposes intended. Maybe some day I'll actually mount one of the dry erase boards I've purchased over the years to a wall or something.
FLEA MARKETS

I like weird people. I like weird stuff. Where else can you become the proud owner of weird people's weird stuff?
Also, home to the sexiest chili dog eating models in all of Hillsborough County!

LAND and SEA MARKET

While I am a fan of all that Publix has to offer, there's a chain of markets I like even better: Land and Sea. There are only three locations, all in the Tampa Bay area and I've written about them before, a looooong time ago (maybe if I write about them more often, they'll find out and give me free stuff). They're not nearly as big as Publix as they're not full-scale supermarkets. They have some produce and various other items but it's a place to buy meat, poultry and seafood. The best part is the service. Everyone who works there is capable of answering any question you might have. This is ideal for those of us who like to be adventurous when it comes to cooking but might not be too sure of what we're doing. And if you can't remember what they tell you, don't worry; they print the instructions right on the label that goes on the package!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Clark's Favorite Things 2014 (Part V of VII)

Beep beep!
Cars!
As a good American, I love 'em, just like people in Italy and Germany and lots of other places do.
Here are my favorites...

DEATHMOBILE
Not as menacing as the name implies, the Deathmobile was featured in the film "Animal House" as the primary weapon of mass destruction deployed by the Delta Tau Kai fraternity to ruin the Faber College homecoming parade, although nobody was actually killed.


It's a 1964 Lincoln Continental modified with a command turret, steam whistle and Emil Faber statue severed head hood ornament ("Eat Me" cake float cloaking device optional). Ideal for really stupid and futile gestures.

AH-64 APACHE HELICOPTER
Okay, it's not technically a car (although it does have wheels) but if you're going to ruin a homecoming parade, you might as well go all out.

YAMAHA 80cc DIRT BIKE
I know, this is also not a car. But let me tell you a little story...
7th grade was a bad year for me. Terrible grades and disciplinary issues. Rock bottom, in terms of my academic "career". The following year, we moved and I was in a different school district. At the start of the year, my parents presented me with a proposal: if I finished the year on the honor roll, they'd buy me a motorcycle. Specifically, this motorcycle, which is actually just a dirt bike. Well, I don't know if it was the change of environment or what, but I kicked ass in 8th grade. No grades lower than a B, no behavioral issues and I even went deep (finished sixth) in the county spelling bee, representing the Fairplain Junior High team. As the school year was winding down and it was apparent that I had the honor roll locked up, dad took me aside and said he thought a ten-speed bike would be a more appropriate reward and so that's what I would be receiving. A used ten speed, as it turned out. Clearly, they never had any intention of meeting their end of the bargain, based on an obvious lack of faith in my ability to meet mine. 
Lessons learned? Let's just say I never approached that level of academic achievement in 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade and that I've carried a heightened level of mistrust ever since. Also, I still want that dirt bike.

1969 VW BEETLE
The second car I ever owned, my senior year in high school, was one of these bad boys. Mine wasn't in nearly this good condition. The red paint was faded dull, the original front fenders had been replaced with unpainted gray fiberglass that never got around to being painted and there was a hole in the floorboard so big that when my friend George dropped his glasses, they fell out on to the street and we ran over them. I think my dad was disappointed that I didn't devote all my leisure time to lovingly restoring it, but I've never been into working on cars. At one point, I did express a desire in painting it and he got very excited. He said, "Okay, first we'll need to sand it all down and then...", by which time, it already sounded like a lot more trouble than it would be worth and I lost interest. After all, why bother? The car was virtually indestructible and was more than adequate in meeting my needs of being a dependable source of freedom in traveling between points A, B, C and wherever else I wanted to go. It was all I've ever really needed out of any vehicle I've ever owned. Most problems could be fixed for pennies and/or with pliers and a screwdriver by people with virtually no mechanical acumen at all, which is why they stopped making them. One time, I left it work for a weekend and there was a bad winter storm, during which my mom's car's battery went dead three different times. When we went to get my car, we dug it out of the snow, hopped in, turned the key once, the engine turned over and we drove off. Mom was furious. I sold it when I left for the army. The new owner took the body off, turned it into a dune buggy and supposedly got at least another 10 years out of it. 

THE ORIGINAL BATMOBILE

For pure fantasy fulfillment, it's gotta be this. Other versions of the Batmobile featured in the movies have been more practical, rugged and penis-shaped, but this is a sexy, sexy car.