Friday, February 28, 2014

Dirty dining, an American tradition

"Our metal tubs of steaming goo await you!"
Few things speak to how wonderful America is in terms of having an abundance of valuable resources like the all-you-can-eat buffet. Not that the buffet itself is wonderful; it isn't. In fact, it's awful. But the fact that it exists is truly spectacular. And not just one of them, like the Grand Canyon or Old Faithful. They actually exist by the thousands. In some places, there are several of them within walking distance of each other. There are people in the world who are utterly incapable of processing that fact.
VISITOR FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY: (Sees pan of food) I-I can eat that?
BUFFET SERVER: You sure can. As much as you want!
VISITOR: All of it? Everything in the whole pan??
SERVER: Well, yeah. But that means you'll probably get full before you can try the other food.
VISITOR: Other food?!? (Glances to left and right, sees what looks like endless rows of pans of food, gets dizzy, drops to one knee)
SERVER: I'm sorry, sir. If the selection here doesn't please you, there's another buffet across the street.
VISITOR: (Head and stomach explode)

Yes, the existence of the all-you-can-eat buffet should be a source of national pride. What a shame they're all so disgusting.
Last week, a local TV station did a story on a local buffet restaurant, the Fresh Point Country Buffet on U.S. 19 in Pinellas Park, that racked up a whopping 112 health code violations during four separate inspections in one week during January. This is a development that should be filed under "Of Course". Considering that the food, all of which, from the fried chicken to the mashed potatoes to the sweet corn to the pizza, takes on a gelatinous consistency over time, is prepared in mass quantities by people who have never in their lives been eligible to attend the Sorbonne, and is "served" by leaving it in open containers where diners with widely varying levels of ability in manipulating serving utensils and who may or may not have washed/licked their hands recently scoop it out and on to their plates, 112 violations sounds about right. In short, you sort of know what you're getting when it comes to the all-you-can-eat buffet, and it ain't good. You're not allowed to be shocked when TV tells you what you should have been born knowing by virtue of having enough common sense to figure out how to open and close your mouth for the purpose of getting food inside of you.
Also from the "Of Course" file is the fact that the restaurant didn't close and that was just fine with customers:
"I'm happy to come here," said customer Everett DeWitt. "It doesn't scare me a bit!"
Dine on, Everett! This seems like an ideal setup, actually. After choking down as much as possible at the disgusting restaurant, you can lurch your way next door to the disgusting La Quinta, grunting and sloshing like a garbage bag full of gravy, where you collapse into a coma and sweat it out before staggering back for dinner.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Let me sell your stuff!

Blabbity blab blab blah!
Hey business people or those of you who have something to sell, I'M LOOKING FOR YOU!
Oh hey, there you are. How's it going? Listen, I have this blog and recently I launched a podcast. And now, I am looking for sponsors.
Hear me out. First...and best... of all, this will cost you nothing. Zero dollars. No money whatsoever. I will advertise your product or service for free.
What's the catch, you ask? Well, in terms of money, there isn't one. I was totally serious about this being free. Free now, and free forever*. But yeah, of course there's a catch. Ready? Here it is: I get to write the ad. Meaning, I get to say whatever I want. Some of you might be saying, "Yep, knew it. Bad idea. I'm out" because you automatically assume I'm going to say terrible things about whatever it is you're selling. And you're correct... if what you're selling is something terrible. Otherwise you're fine and have nothing to worry about. Here are two concrete examples of what I'm talking about...

This month's episode of The Ridiculously Inconsistent Podcast is brought to you by Girl Scout Cookies. That's right, fantastic, wonderful Girl Scout Cookies. Order some today!

This month's episode of The Ridiculously Inconsistent Podcast is brought to you by the Westboro Baptist Church. That's right, the Westboro Baptist Church, the most inept hate mongers since the Nazis in a Mel Brooks movie. Fuck those guys!

See? Absolutely nothing to worry about unless you're responsible for some shitty product that makes life worse for people. And even then, it's still free! So sign up today, because we're planning March's podcast already!

* That's if you get on board now; I reserve the right to charge people up to their eyeballs if this thing takes off some day.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I'm taking credit for this

On Monday, December 30, 2013, I posted this blog entry:
"How to fix the Bucs"
Which contained this line:
"We should probably do something about that godawful combover first. You're a frightening skull; just because the last logo had a glorious, long-flowing mane, you don't need to be self-conscious about your 'do, man!"

On Thursday, February 20. 2014, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers changed their primary logo from this:

To this...
Coincidence? I think not. Either way, you're welcome!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Storms are scarier than they used to be

Things change when you get your own house. For starters, it's better. Don't let any of the negative things I'm about to type make you think otherwise; having a place truly of your own is so much more better than renting an apartment that it's disgusting. Granted, circumstances can differ: having a nice apartment in New York might beat the daylights out of owning a house there. But from where I'm sitting, which is my house in Tampa, Florida, it's really a simple case of wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!
There are some drawbacks, though. I was reminded of one yesterday when I was out on a grocery run during a nasty thunderstorm. That's when the radio broadcast was interrupted by a storm warning, or tornadoes actually. Bad weather is always scary because ultimately, you can't do anything about it. You can't call the cops about lightning strikes. You can't get a bunch of your friends together to look tough in your front yard when a tornado drives by. Basically, all the authorities can do is say, "good luck because we're all kinda in this together."
When I lived in an apartment, I'd hear these warnings and be mildly concerned, but it didn't go much further than "guess somebody's going to be getting me a hotel room because my lease is paid up". Now it's more like, "Oh please, please, don't tear up my shit!" That is scary.
It doesn't help that the warnings themselves are so creepy. They break into your favorite radio broadcast with this screeching noise:
Then a poignant pause.
Then again with the
Another dramatic pause, and then a recorded speech:
"The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Warning for the following counties: Polk, Hernando, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee until 6:00PM. Conditions exist..."
But it's not a real human, it's a computer generated robo speech, so it comes out like this:
 "Thee National Weather SerVICE has issued a tornadowarn ing for THEE follow ing counties: Polkernando, Hillsbor-ough, Pin ell us and Monate until SIX pee EM."
Ugh!! That robot doesn't care enough to pronounce our counties correctly! What concern is there if we're safe or not?!? That part of the process can certainly be upgraded. They can digitize everything these days, why not pay a huge grant to PBS in exchange for the rights to digitize the voice of the late Mr. Rogers for the sake of recording all our warnings?
"In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers. Now, In this particular time of stress, I need you to listen with your ears because there's a tornado warning for Polk, Hernando, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties until 6:00PM. Have you ever seen a manatee? They have whiskers! Do you think a manatee can tell time? No? Me neither. So we all need to watch the clock together until 6:00PM when we'll all be safe again. Can you do that? I know you can!"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Interview: Spike "Spike on the Mic" Slater

The podcast was so nice, we're doing it (at least) twice!
That's right, once again we take a break from the keyboard and get behind the microphone with the return of The Ridiculously Inconsistent Podcast (or TRIP if you like unintentionally cool acronyms). This month, in honor of Black History Month, I'm talking to an actual black guy, a guy who is no stranger to the microphone, the legendary Spike Slater. Spike is the host of the award-deserving "Spike on the Mic Show"*, a show that I appear on fairly regularly, but he's been a part of the local radio landscape here in Tampa Bay for the better part of the last decade. He's also the last black man to kiss me.

Give this one a listen and learn how the two of us tackle all of the issues between white and black people (mixed results, at best) as well as all kinds of things you didn't know about Spike himself. THIS is the definitive Spike interview (in case there are other ones out there).

* On a related note, consider this your personal invitation to check out the "Spike on the Mic Show" itself. We broadcast live from Pin Chasers Bowling Center at 4847 N. Armenia Avenue in Tampa Monday nights at 7PM. You can pick it up live at You can be a part of it by calling in at (813) 66SPIKE (813.667.7453). Not only that, but you can also join us in person! We do it at a bowling alley, so you can get food and beer and stuff. Why not? It's good times. If you haven't listened before, you'd be doing us a favor because we're only 189 unique viewers from 2000, a mark we're trying to hit before March 1st because there's a prize or something. I really have no idea.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Presidents' Day!

Welcome to Presidents' Day, or as it is officially known, Washington's Birthday, which was originally intended to celebrate George Washington, the first man elected to the office of President of the United States and the last white man to be named Washington. Now we just call it Presidents' Day, to commemorate every guy (sorry, ladies) who has ever held the job.
"I'm out, bitches!" (Not shown: dropped mic)

So take some time today to think about those who accepted the challenge of holding the position of leader of the greatest and most powerful nation on earth (sorry, ladies and most non-white dudes), kick back and enjoy one regularly priced Big Mac or Quarter Pounder with Cheese and get a second one for only a penny from McDonald's!

PICTURED: Manifest destiny
(NOTE: Actual sandwiches never look like this)
 Hey, thanks, Presidents of the United States!

Friday, February 14, 2014

In other words, perfect

He couldn't bear the thought of being one of those scorned, ridiculed and pitied for being alone on Valentine's Day. It was unfortunate that he came to this realization on February 2nd, as it put him behind schedule but he was undaunted. He'd identified a suitable object of affection. She was attractive but not to the extent that she would be put off by his advances. He imagined that her speaking voice wouldn't be too grating and that her laugh, if she were inclined to find something humorous, would be pleasant and not too overbearing. In other words, she was perfect.
He decided that in light of the time constraint imposed by his hasty realization that what was needed to get her attention was a single, grand and spectacular gesture. He thought relatively long and hard about what to do before eventually deciding that he would steal a motorcycle and give it to her as a present. His reasoning was sound: women like tough guys, tough guys ride motorcycles, women like nice guys, nice guys give presents, women like men who steal things, a man who steals motorcycles to give as presents is ideal. In other words, perfect.
This was, sadly, the best and most logical plan he had ever come up with. What made it sad is that she was entirely unimpressed. Mostly because she didn't know anything about it. He had been caught in the act and apprehended. In other words, beaten severely by the owner of the motorcycle.
He pleaded incessantly with the doctors and nurses at the hospital, imploring them to release him so he could secure his intended sweetheart's love in time for Valentine's Day. They rejected his pleas on the grounds that a man whose injuries were so severe as to require the removal of his spleen should take a few days to convalesce. In other words, lay around and do nothing.
This displeased him but he had no choice. As he lay there in bed, he thought about his plan and tried to figure out how it had failed. He ran it over and over in his mind and eventually came to the conclusion that it had been too grand and spectacular. A smaller, simpler gesture would have been much easier to execute and could have just as much romantic impact as a grand, spectacular gesture. Women are simple, foolish creatures when it comes to romance, he reasoned, without the discernment to tell the difference between small and simple or grand and spectacular. He was pleased with himself for figuring this out, mostly because he had done so on February 13th. In other words, he still had time to commit the small and simple gesture that would win her heart in time for Valentine's Day.
With mighty effort he pulled himself out of the hospital bed. Taking slow, painstaking steps down the hall to the hospital gift shop. With the last bit of money he had, he purchased a shiny, red, mylar balloon in the shape of a heart and filled with helium. He shuffled out of the hospital before an orderly could stop him and immediately stepped into the path of an incoming ambulance. It started to rain as the heart-shaped balloon slowly floated up into some overhead power lines, causing a transformer to explode, knocking out power for four blocks, including the hospital. In other words, a whole bunch of people in the hospital died.
Somewhere across town, the woman he had hoped to woo watched the story of the hospital blackout on television and expressed scorn, ridicule and pity towards somebody who would equate love with a single, arbitrarily selected date on a calendar and kill a bunch of people in a hospital while getting run over by an ambulance as a result of this confusion. In other words, perfect.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Let us heal

As many of you are aware, this is Black History Month. I'd like to take this occasion to bring to light an egregious situation that has existed for far too long. It never should have existed in the first place and the fact that it continues now is beyond embarrassing. Well, it ends today, people. Right now. This can not continue for one more day, all right? It's time for us to finally unite as one nation and right this wrong.
This is not Mushmouth. This is Dumb Donald.
THIS is Mushmouth. He's not dumb; he has a speech impediment. Donald is dumb, hence the name "Dumb Donald". 
Let us pick up the pieces and move forward from here.
Thank you.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Have a heart for HART

Longtime readers probably remember some of my adventures riding the local bus lines, operated by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART). I don't really miss those days, although the stories were fun to write and I'm certainly glad that I could rely on their services when I needed them.
The other day, a friend on Facebook posted a lengthy post complaining about the service they received at the Gasparilla Night Parade. I can't comment on anybody else's experiences but all I know is I was without a car for the better part of a year and I was able to keep my job because of HART. I don't know about the special event services but as far as the day-to-day service was concerned, they were reliable enough to get me to work, pick up my dry cleaning, go grocery shopping and generally manage my affairs. Any time I had a problem, which was rare, it was responded to quickly and professionally. If I'd lost my job, it's not a stretch to say I'd be out on the street right now. As it is, I now own a car and a house this past fall. If I don't owe my life to HART, I owe them at least partial thanks for where I am now.
I don't know what happened at the parade but I just kind of felt obligated to put that out there.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Checking in with the happy couple

Do you remember Tom and Rachel, the couple I married at Jimbo's Pit BBQ back in October? Well, they are still married! That was over three whole months ago, which means I am very good at marrying. You should keep that in mind if you're planning on getting married. Ooh, I will marry you so hard. I will marry you all night long!!
For Christmas, Tom and Rachel had me over for dinner (shrimp boil!) at the home they moved into after getting married. Dinner was great (shrimp boil!) and the house is lovely. It's got a caged pool and a rec room. It's really nice. Of course, things being hectic as they are these days, they're still in the process of making it over into their home. One of the areas they have yet to make over is the bathroom adjacent to the rec room.
RACHEL: "Please try not to notice the wallpaper. It's horrible and embarrassing."
ME: "Hey, no problem."
(approximately four minutes later)
ME: "Rachel, I noticed the wallpaper. It's horrble and embarrassing."
RACHEL: "I told you!"
ME: "I'm afraid you know what has to happen now."
RACHEL: "Oh God, please don't blog about it. We're replacing it soon!"
ME: "I'm sorry. I've already taken pictures. There's nothing that can be done now."
RACHEL: "(Sigh) All right. Fine."
Rachel, unfortunately, know how things work. Anyway, here are the pics. Enjoy and have a great weekend!
First of all, in my own defense, I'd like to know how I was not supposed to notice this?

I mean, considering that it was everywhere. Did someone wearing a muumuu explode?

I'm told there's a cabinet in here somewhere. I think you have to hit a secret panel or maybe tilt one of those soap dishes to open it.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Hey, does anybody remember empathy?

My friend Molly Field recently wrote this piece on the passing of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Specifically, she wrote about somebody she knows who felt it necessary for some reason to respond to the news of Hoffman's death by labeling him a "bum". Actually, "a self-interested bum" to be precise, presumably because initial reports indicated that Hoffman died of a drug (heroin) overdose. I enjoyed his movies and appreciate his talent, but beyond that, I don't have any kind of tangible connection to Philip Seymour Hoffman and I'll bet this associate of Molly's didn't either. I don't feel I'm qualified to proclaim Hoffman a hero any more than this other guy is qualified to condemn him as a bum. More importantly, who cares what we think? Even more importantly, why would we think it matters to anybody what we think? Talk about "self-interested". What propels us to rush out and cast a verdict on people based on a relatively trivial factoid we just learned about them?
People are going to blame the internet. "It's Twitter and Facebook and all this stuff that lets people be anonymous and makes them say terrible things", they'll say. To which, I reply Bullshit. Why are an overwhelming majority of the rash, impetuous things people say on Twitter and elsewhere nasty and vitriolic? How come nobody ever has to go back and retract something they said because it was unjustifiably nice? Is Twitter responsible for the spite and meanness that people spew and if so, exactly how does that work? Seriously, tell me how to make it do that, because mine will only spit out whatever words that come from my head that I type into it with my fingers.
We just got finished with the Super Bowl, during which we ran Richard Sherman, a professional football player who most of us had never heard of before, though this instant judgment/trial by no jury process, based upon a TV appearance that lasted less than a minute:

  • "He's a thug." = "I mean, just look at him." - Most of us who knew nothing about him
  • "He's not a thug; he went to Stanford" = "Nobody who ever went to a good school ever did anything wrong" - Most of us who knew slightly more than nothing about him

And the thing was, it seemed to matter less who was right and who was wrong than it did how quickly you could get behind an argument. When that's not only the goal but also the criteria used for achieving it, it's pretty obvious that not a lot of value is placed on introspection or consideration and that the good ol' benefit of doubt is going to be a casualty. Why is that? Who decided that the rush to judgment is more important than any kind of thought that goes into that judgment?
Without knowing Philip Seymour Hoffman, I don't feel comfortable saying he was a hero or a bum. However, with the benefit of a doubt, I do feel comfortable in guessing that he was a person with problems and that he did what he thought was best on a daily basis in dealing with those problems. That description applies to virtually every person I know, although the individual circumstances and results may differ a great deal. He wasn't perfect but neither is anybody I know, including the ones currently "making it". It definitely applies to me. As a result, I have no reason to believe it doesn't apply to the vast majority of people, known or unknown, just out there walking around, doing things and trying to keep it together in a possibly doomed-from-the-start effort to experience more happiness than sadness before they die. Life is a sytruggle. Some people deal with it better than others. Philip Seymour Hoffman was one who didn't/couldn't handle it well. He's gone now and people whose lives were touched by him are sad about that. All those people are just like you and me and they deserve better than scorn and derision when they "fail". They certainly deserve better than you being "FIRST!" to point it out in some stupid and ultimately meaningless on-line forum. They deserve some empathy, because that could just as easily be you. Or me, or somebody who looks like they have it all figured out.
Listen, the next time something like this happens... and it won't be longer than a few days at the most... stop for just a second and do the following:
Reclaim your right to think.
Reclaim your right to feel.
Reclaim your connection to your fellow human beings, with whom you have more in common than you probably realize.
And go ahead and be totally selfish about it. Do these things for yourself and nobody else. I promise we'll all be better off for it anyway.

Monday, February 03, 2014


Hey, here's something that happened the other day.
First, while this may qualify as TMI, it's important for the sake of the story that you know that when I visit a public restroom, I will take every possible step to avoid using a urinal. I think they're gross. There's the whole splash-back factor plus a lack of privacy between neighbors. I will always wait for a stall with a good ol' toilet in it. And if there's no particular demand, I'll hold out for the accessible stall, the one designed for people in wheelchairs and with other impediments. Those are downright plush. They're self-contained miniature domestic environments with their own hand sinks, soap dispensers and paper towels. Some of them are bigger than apartments. I get in there and I immediately feel comfortable. I feel like I can relax, get all the way naked if I want to, walk around, stretch out, collect my thoughts, and do whatever I need to get myself together and face the world. It's truly a rest room under those circumstances.
The obvious drawback is what, though? That's right; keeping someone who actually needs it from using it. That's a truly awful thing to do to another person so I never go in there ahead of anybody who obviously has some special needs. But there's always the threat of coming out and encountering someone waiting, scowling at you as you walk out. For that reason, I have an appropriately indignant response prepared if that somebody engages me in a conversation about it.
"Hey man, just because I'm not in a wheelchair doesn't mean I'm not disabled. You don't know. I might have been injured in combat and it's like ham salad down there. I mean, I didn't and it's not. The point is you don't know what I have going on and so you can't judge me. Don't judge me!!"

By then, I will have been able to get out of there and if he actually needs to use the facilities, which he probably does, he isn't going to follow me. Take that, wheelie!
The other night, I was at the grocery store and went to the restroom, where I occupied the preferred accomodations. I came out and there he was, a guy in a wheelchair, scowling at me. The first thing I notice, aside from the scowl, is the jacket he's wearing with the Brazillian flag on it. Right after that, I notice the words "WHEELCHAIR RUGBY". If I'm not mistaken, and I'm not, that's the sport that's also known as Murderball. And who plays Murderball? Logic would dictate that the answer is murderers. I worked all of this out before I noticed the four guys behind him in wheelchairs, wearing the same jacket and very similar scowls. Good thing I rehearsed my response for this exact situation.
"Hey man... Hey. I'm not... I'm not in a wheelchair. I'm not...uh...disabled. You know. I might have been injured. Ham salad, uh, down there. I mean... it's not. The point is... the point is you don't. Don't judge... Don't kill me!!"

I think that went about as well as could be expected.