Friday, January 26, 2007

A short conversation about pleasant surprises

"Hey, guess what happened to me the other day. I was doing laundry and found a $20 bill in a pants pocket! I love it when that happens, it's like, hey, free money!"

"Oh yeah! That's like this one time when I was going through my closet and found some old shrimp tails in the pocket of a pair of old jeans. One of them still had some meat in it! Sure, it would have been nice to find a tube sock filled with cocktail sauce, but still, hey, free shrimp!"

This has been a bad week to be homeless... opposed to all the good weeks to be homeless. But this week, we had St. Petersburg police destroying the tents of homeless people as well as the unsolved murders of two homeless men. Homelessness is a problem everywhere but Florida draws a lot of them because it's possible to spend lots of time outside without, you know, freezing to death. I know, homeless people are a drag; their presence generally detracts from the overall quality of life for everyone else. On the other hand, they're human beings and it's more than a little scary to watch members of law enforcement ransacking and destroying someone's domicile and personal posessions, especially if you're someone who places value in the constitution and the rights and freedoms granted therein. Of course, there's people who will dismiss all of this by saying "They should just get a job", to which I say you're right; they should get a job. Your job. And then you can try living on the street. Ass.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Can't beat fun at the ol' monster truck jam

One of the annual entertainment extravaganzas we have here in Tampa Bay is the Superbowl of Motor Sports, which features the purely American phenomenon of monster trucks, outlandishly huge vehicles driving over and crushing other vehicles. There is no way on earth that people from other countries can even comprehend why we do this so it doesn't matter that none of us can explain it. One of my all time favorite entertainment industry stories occurred at a monster truck event at the old Tampa Stadium back in 1986 0r 1987, when two guys came down one of the ramps pushing an empty wheelchair. They had apparently gotten in an argument with their friend at some point and now couldn't find him. I helpfully pointed out that he wherever he was, he probably wasn't far away. They left to go look for him and I told our staff that they should probably listen for muffled cries for help from one of the upper concourse restrooms some time the following Monday.

This year the event was re-named Monster Jam and it was sponsored by Dairy Queen. They got the guy with the impossibly deep, growly voice who does all the bad ass TV voice overs to do the event's TV ads. But I don't care how impossibly deep and growly your voice is, it's impossible to sound like a bad ass when saying the phrase "brought to you by Dairy Queen".

Anyway, I worked there this year to make a couple of bucks spending money and this was an actual interaction I had with a customer at the ticket window:

CUSTOMER: What seats you got left?

ME: We're sold out of seats. All we have left is standing room only tickets.

CUSTOMER: So, where do I sit?

ME: You don't. You stand up.

CUSTOMER: I don't understand. What does that mean?

ME: Ok, you know how it is when you sit down? Like, you're not standing up and you're in a chair of some sort, sitting on it? Well, picture yourself inside the stadium and not doing that. Now picture yourself not doing that the whole time you're in there. That's what that means.

CUSTOMER: Y'all ain't got enough chairs.

ME: Hmmm, I'd say it's more of a problem with an over-abundance of butts, not a paucity of chairs.

CUSTOMER: What about these pit passes? What's in the pits?

ME: Tar. Really hot tar. I saw some dinosaurs in there earlier. I don't think they were enjoying themselves.

CUSTOMER: You're kind of a smartass.

ME: Well, somebody's gotta balance things out, sir.

How close did I come to quitting my job today?

Hold your hand up with your index finger and your thumb about an inch apart. Now, move them closer to each other to the point where they are pressed firmly against each other and there is no space whatsoever between them. That's pretty damn close, isn't it?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Q: How awesome are the Geico cavemen?

A: So awesome I can't even tell you. Better written and more culturally relevant than most shows on television, these commercials make me want to buy car insurance and the roast duck with mango salsa.

Baby, let's cruise...

Under unwritten Kitchen Cabinet charter by-laws, one member proposing "we should (fill in the name of fun and/or worthwhile activity here)" followed by at least one other member seconding with "hell yeah!" or some other suitably emphatic statement of affirmation is all that is required to begin the process of taking the suggestion from beyond consideration, to the conceptual stage and ultimately to (hopefully) fruition. This is how we have come to find ourselves in limousines, theme parks, some great (and some not-so-great) restaurants and the documentary film business. And it is how we have come to find ourselves considering going on an ocean cruise at some point in the near future. I have no problem admitting that I am the member who seconded "hell yeah!" in this case. Going on a cruise is something I have sort of fantasized about for some time now. The idea of being at sea, completely unreachable by those to whom I want to be unreachable, is definitely attractive...although, being wired the way I am, I have concerns that include, but are not necessarily limited to the following:

  • Cruise ships are friggin' huge - How do those things float? They're like buildings...scratch that...cities! How do they not sink? Please don't attempt to explain the concepts of bouyancy, ballast and water displacement to me. I'll just get a headache and I still won't understand.

  • "Titanic" - see above

  • Pirates - They're still out there

  • Giant squids - They're still out there

  • Terrorists - Some extremist jamokes infiltrating the crew decide to wreck my vacation by acting a fool and forcing me to go all Jack Bauer on their dumb asses.

  • Gambling - Cruise ships have casino gaming, which I love. But that doesn't mean I'm good at it. Cue visions of going broke 90 minutes after we leave the dock, forcing me to spend the rest of the cruise in my cabin reading old news reports about giant squids and pirates.

  • Bad food - Cue visions of getting hold of some bad clams 90 minutes after we leave the dock, forcing me to spend the rest of the cruise on the toilet with my pants around my ankles and reading about giant squids and pirates.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Something else to worry about

Forget all the stand up comedy routines and bad sitcoms you've seen on the subject, the great toilet lid up vs lid down debate is over. Now this is apparently old news (I don't know why I'm just learning about it now) but when you flush the toilet, microscopic water droplets from the toilet are expelled into the air where they can hover as a mist for hours before eventually settling on other surfaces in the bathroom. This is completely true! University of Arizona environmental microbiologist Charles Gerba published a paper on it in 1975. Why a single toilet has been built without an automatic lid closer since then is someting the government needs to answer for. Think about it: you take care of your business, leave the lid up and flush your toilet which unleashes a cloud comprised of microscopic droplets of water marinated with your personal home brew that floats around your bathroom before eventually landing on the walls, the floor, the sink, the mirror, the toilet seat, whatever reading material you have laying around, and, oh yeah, YOUR TOOTHBRUSH and YOUR RAZOR. Now think about all the public facilities (I can no longer refer to them as restrooms) with multiple toilets that don't even have lids. Like shopping malls, movie theatres or sports stadiums. You've seen how those places are cleaned; they throw an orange traffic cone in the doorway for a few minutes, empty the trash and drag a filthy mop back and forth over the visible floor areas. This means in all likelihood that every public toilet facility is spackled in coat after coat (one for every flush from every toilet) of collected waste contaminants from the combined populace.

Don't even get me started on urinals.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I hate minivans

Recently I learned that a close relative, my aunt Joan, someone I respect and love, drives a minivan. My reaction upon learning this fact was, I think, something like, "GYAHHHHHHHH!!! Noooooooooo!!!!"

I've often been asked, why do I hate minivans so much? The answer is very simple: I hate them. And does anybody need a reason to hate? Nope. That's the beauty of hatred. It defies, when necessary (or not) all boundaries of reason or logic. Although, I would have to say that there a couple of factors that contribute to my loathing.

  • A minivan is not a van. A van is a big Ford Econoline, big enough to carry surfboards, a full-size sleeper couch and some amplifiers. It has a mural of a scantily clad viking warrior princess driving a chariot pulled by dragons airbrushed on the side of it. It's cargo capacity is not limited to a diaper bag, a fold-down bench seat and a DVD player showing "The Lion King". And it definitely is not adorned with a magnetic soccer ball with the name 'Josh' stenciled on it. To use the word 'van' in minivan is a tremendous insult to real vans.
  • Secondly, minivans are always in my way. Constantly holding up traffic, coming to a complete stop to execute right turns, driving cautiously. All-around generally stupid behavior. This is undoubtedly because...
  • All minivans are driven by idiots. Let me be clear: All idiots do not drive minivans, but all minivans are driven by idiots. Need proof? Okay, who are most minvans sold to? Parents. People who have children. Intentionally! Now, as we all know, the having of children is always a horrendously tragic occurence that destroys lives. Yet, many people still insist on doing this to themselves on purpose! If anything speaks to diminished mental capabilities and generally poor judgement, it's being a parent...the kind of person who drives a minvan.

So anyway, I'm very sad to know that my beloved aunt Joan drives one of these things. My uncle knows a lot of people in the automotive business. Maybe they can find somebody to airbrush a viking mural on the side of that thing.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Post Christmas Wish List

All I want (right now) is...
  • A full night's sleep
  • A meal not eaten at a desk or behind the wheel of a car
  • A five game winning streak by the Lightning (although I would grudgingly settle for 8 points out of a possible ten)
  • An open door
  • A smidgen of leisure time spent in the company of loved ones
  • Simplification

That'll hold me over. Thanks.

(PS: If you have to skimp on anything, don't worry about the Lightning thing)

"Mmmm" is for mullets!

Nearly a year in the making, here's Midway Mullets

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Profiles In Greatness: The Stoney Jackson Interview

You may know him better as "that guy from the 80's, with the hair, from that movie" but his real name is Stoney Jackson. I recently had the opportunity to pretend to sit down and interview him (NOTE: Only the interview was pretend. I actually did sit down).
CLARK: Hi Stoney. Welcome to my fabulous estate overlooking both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Of Mexico.
STONEY JACKSON: Thanks. It's great to be here. This is really nice.
C: Thank you. First off, let me say how sorry I am that 'Snakes On A Plane' wasn't a bigger success. What do you suppose happened there?
SJ: Ummm, I'm not sure why you're asking me. I wasn't in that.
C: Ha ha! Good one. I don't like to tell people I even saw it! (NOTE: I didn't see it). Let's talk about 'Pulp Fiction'. Big hit. What's Tarantino like? Kinda crazy I'll bet.
SJ: I wasn't in Pulp...Oh wait. I think you're confusing me with Samuel L. Jackson.
C: That's not you?
SJ: Nope, that isn't me.
C: Well, great. I have a whole bunch of questions here I can't even ask then.
SJ: Well, I have appeared in over 40 films and several TV shows. Are you familiar with the movie 'Black Scorpion'?
C: Yeah, I think I did see that...
SJ: Well, I was in Black Scorpion 2.
C: Were you the guy who said "I have had it with these muthafucking scorpions on this muthafucking plane'?
SJ: Wrong movie. Again, that's not me.
C: You should start saying that. That's the kind of thing people remember for a long time.
SJ: Thanks. Good advice. Can I go now?
C: We've established you are not Samuel L. Jackson, star of Pulp Fiction and Snakes On A Plane.
SJ: That is correct.
C: So how long have you been brewing beer? Was it something you turned to when you weren't invited to appear in 'Black Scorpion 3'?
SJ: Actually, 'Black Scorpion' was turned into a series and I was on it but once again, you're thinking of Samuel Jackson, only a different one this time.
C: Well, this has been great. It was nice meeting you and good luck with 'Black Scorpions Brewing Beer On A Plane 3'.
SJ: Thanks! I appreciate it!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A short conversation about hanging

"Hey, did you hear? They hung Saddam Hussein the other day."

"They gave him an enormous penis? That hardly seems fair."

"Um, no. They killed him, by hanging."

"Oh, you mean, they hanged him."

"Yeah, ok, I guess so."

"Well, that seems like a waste of a perfectly good enormous penis."

It's a New Year, everybody!

Once again it's time to reflect a little bit on what has happened this past year, but it's far more important to really focus on what lies ahead. Because every new year carries with it the unlimited promise of hope, prosperity and...and...oh Jesus, what a bunch of crap.