Monday, July 30, 2007

So the folks at AC Nielsen are pissed off at me...

...which is kinda what I was going for, but not like this.
Let me explain.
A while back, on the referral from a friend, I signed up to serve on a research panel for the AC Nielsen company. I know that they're the company that records ratings for television shows and I thought that this would be an opportunity to have some sort of impact in that regard. I get so tired of good tv shows like 'NewsRadio', 'Arrested Development' and 'The Knights Of Prosperity' getting cancelled because they have poor ratings while mind-numbing dreck like 'According To Jim' gets renewed perpetually. I don't take a stand on many issues (just yesterday R was talking to me about the presidential debates on YouTube; I told her worrying about the presidential election now is like worrying what place the Devil Rays are in during April) but when it's something important, damn it, like television, I am a force to be reckoned with.
As it turns out, AC Nielsen does all kinds of market research and they wanted me to do consumer shopping instead of tv viewing, so they sent me a hand-held bar code scanner and told me to go shopping. I was disappointed but figured what the hell. Because I'm a closet anarchist who's always fantasized about bringing The System to it's knees, I figured maybe I could artificially skew some sales trends and cause some chaos:

President and CEO of United Business Company, Inc.: "Look at these marketing reports! Blank VHS tapes, clamato juice and lutefisk are suddenly incredibly popular in the southeast, specifically the Tampa Bay region!, triple our production and distribution of those products there!"

Ha ha! Anarchy!

Alas, this was not to be either. For one thing, it's impossible to cheat The System; you actually have to buy the stuff you scan in and I ain't wasting my money on that crap. Too expensive. Secondly, you don't get to scan everything you buy. They tell you from week to week which products they're looking for and which stores to shop at. One week it might be cleaning products from Publix, the next it might be pet foods from Albertson's. Screw that. Too regimented. Thirdly, the scanner doesn't work very well. I tried several times...well,I tried once, for several minutes...but I could not get the thing to work (and I happen to be excellent at scanning things). It would scan maybe every fifth item or so. Too difficult and time consuming. So I just didn't do it. The scanner sits in it's box on the floor in my kitchen. The AC Nielsen people started calling every couple of weeks, wondering why they weren't getting reports from me. I would lie and tell them I hadn't been shopping. That worked for about two months.

AC NIELSEN: "What do you mean, you haven't been shopping?"
ME: "Yeah, I had an accident. Doctor says I'm not allowed to shop."
AC NIELSEN: "How is that possible? What do you do for groceries and supplies?"
ME: "I eat at other people's houses. And I go to the bathroom at work and stuff"
AC NIELSEN: "Oh. Ok. Well, take care."
ME: "See ya."

I couldn't believe that even worked once. But they either eventually figured out I was full of crap or just got tired of not getting any info from me.

AC NIELSEN: "Hello, Mr. Brooks"
ME: "Yeah, hi. Listen, I'm still laid up and haven't been able to..."
AC NIELSEN: Mr. Brooks, you've been dropped from the program."
ME: "Dropped?"
AC NIELSEN: "Yes sir. We want our scanner back."
ME: "Oh. Ok. Well, sure. Sure thing. I'll get that right out to you."

That conversation has taken place about four times now because I never sent it back. It's still sitting there. The last time they called, they pretty much begged for the return of their scanner, even offering to send me a pre-addressed, postage paid box to ship it in.
Ha ha! Anarchy!

Friday, July 27, 2007


I had a chance to go see Marilyn Manson in concert tonight and I declined. Not because I dislike Marilyn Manson but basically because I'm lazy. I just didn't feel like going to a concert tonight. For one thing, it was at the amphitheatre clear across town and for another thing, I've attended a couple of concerts lately, where I was designated driver for K & R. This worked out well because they got to see concerts and I got to see them drunk. But I just didn't feel like going out tonight. Going to concerts takes effort and as I mentioned earlier, I am lazy.
But I do enjoy Marilyn Manson. I'm not goth and I don't live anything remotely resembling the lifestyle one would associate with a Marilyn Manson fan (whatever that is). But I kind of dig some of his music and the whole creepy Halloween thing he has going on is very entertaining and I appreciate showmanship. I've worked a couple of Manson concerts and have found that for the most part, the people he attracts, while admittedly scary looking, are actually pretty polite and well-behaved. Plus, I can't explain it but I think he and I could hang out, in spite of our many inherent differences. Like I said, I don't know why I think that, just a gut feeling I guess. But we could probably go out for late breakfast:
ME: Mmm, I think I'll have a Denver omelet, hash browns and coffee please.
WAITRESS: And you sugar?
MARILYN: I would like to defecate on a crucifix and then drink baby's blood from a goblet fashioned out of a human skull.
ME: Marilyn! Dude!
WAITRESS: Uhh, I don't think...Oh dear...I-I mean, I think we're out of...
MARILYN: Relax, I'm just messing with you. Short stack and a glass of whole milk please.
(Everyone laughs)
ME: Ah, I love ya, you crazy, two-different-colored eyes, breast-implanted bastard!
MARILYN: Back atcha!
(Everyone laughs again)
So anyway, if my inner sloth hadn't overridden my inner goth, I wouldn't have minded going to see Manson tonight. My boss went though. He just text messaged me a few minutes ago with the declaration "I am a star in the dope show!! I am a star in the dope show!!". Damn. Once again, I have blown an opportunity to be a star in the dope show.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sayonara soon, suckers

Looks like your boy Clark and his office mate Billy will be heading for Hollywood very, very soon.
You see, we have pitched our first television show idea to the Fox network and they have yet to say no, which means the same things as saying yes. Emphatically. I have a feeling that what I like to call 'Reality TV' is going to be the next big thing and I am going to be on the cusp of that first wave so big, big things are going to be happening for me. Here's a copy of the email I sent to the folks at Fox:

Dear Fox,
My name is Clark Brooks. I share an office here in Tampa with a guy named Bill. We have an idea for a fantastic (ie: best ever) new reality show. It's called "Clark and Bill Run Margie's Life" (we're not 100% committed to the name; how about "ruin" instead of "run"?). Basically, what would happen is every week Bill and I would tell Margie (a woman who works here in the same building with us) what to do and she would do it. We have lots of great ideas. Like making her quit her job here and take jobs at other places, such as a strip club (I'm sure you know Tampa is the home of lots of strip clubs) or a restaurant or as a crane operator or maybe at the dog track and then begging for her original job back here after a couple of weeks. We could also make her dye her hair or make prank phone calls or wear weird clothes or go on blind dates with people we pick out for her, specifically ugly guys, weird guys and women. We think this show would be hilarious, because almost nothing we come up with would be a good idea as far as Margie is concerned. But since it's a show, she would have to do it or get sued back to the stone age by Fox (you guys). Margie is a very nice person who in no way dserves to have terrible things happen to her. Bill and I are not so much. And that's why it would be great television. As an added bonus, we (Bill and I) get in fights (usually physical) at least once a day and I promise we will fight often on this show.
We are fully prepared to call in sick tomorrow or whenever to come out to LA and talk to you some more about this. Let us know, our calendars are surprisingly wide open right now.
Enclosed please find a picture of us, me and Bob, in full-on pimp status. We don't have any of Margie yet.
Also, please do not steal this concept and put it on the air with Pauly freakin' Shore or Andy freakin' Dick or two other idiots because we will be watching. And then the sue (ha ha!) will be on the other foot, my friends.
PS: We would be cool with being on FX, if that's a better fit.

Your next breakout TV geniuses,
Clark and Bill

Pretty hot, right? Yeah I know!
You're probably wondering how this idea started. Well, Margie made the mistake of mentioning that her high school reunion is coming up soon and she probably wasn't going because there's so much pressure to show up with spouses and kids and such, none of which she currently has. That's when I came up with the brilliant idea of having Billy go with her, pretending to be her husband, a navy SEAL, home on leave between assignments. Halfway through the reunion, I would break in dressed as a terrorist, screaming "Death to you all! I am here for to make the Nine Eleven!". Billy would then (pretend to) defeat me in a sword battle and become a hero to everyone at the reunion, and they would all think Margie had the greatest husband ever. Billy liked the idea because he figured it would be a great opportunity to meet chicks (he's right). I liked the idea because, well, it's my idea. Oddly enough, the only one who didn't like the idea was Margie. And by "didn't like", I mean "was horrified by". That's when it occurred to me that Billy and I could easily come up with all kinds of great ideas if Margie would just let us make her do them. From there it was a hop, skip and jump to putting it all on television.
Anyway, my plan is to split time between the two coasts for a little while but I'll probably be in California full-time eventually. I'll keep you posted.


Tampa Police has a motorcycle cop at the corner of Kennedy and Morgan this morning, writing tickets to the inconsiderate morons traveling westbound on Kennedy who routinely block the intersection by trying to stretch the light. Inconsiderate, in that they don't seem to care that they're inconveniencing the people on Morgan. Morons, in that they don't seem to understand that whether they're sitting in the middle of an intersection or at the light a few feet behind them, they're still sitting at the end of a long line of cars and not getting where they're going any faster. This is not uncommon anywhere you go, but for some reason it's a standard occurrence at this particular intersection. It's like a Bermuda Triangle where common sense and courtesy disappear for no apparent reason. At least TPD is doing something about it today.

(Cross posted at Sticks Of Fire)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sometimes, buying a new CD is difficult

I am a huge Prince fan. I’ve spent big bucks to see him perform, have every album he’s ever released (including spin-off and side projects like The Family and Jill Jones) and can quote lyrics from even his most obscure album cuts. Yet, his new album came out today and I’m just now, at 10:30PM, listening to it for the first time. How is this possible? Let me explain…

Last night, 11:30PM: I suppose it’s possible I could go find a late-night music store that has the album available at midnight. Problem is I’m not aware of any music stores in Tampa hip enough to be open past 10:00. Heck, Prince doesn’t swear any more so I might even be able to get it at Wal Mart. But I have to work in the morning and I’m too old to be buying CDs at midnight.

This morning, 8:00AM: I could swing by the Wal Mart (I think I pass four of them on my way) but I will be lucky not to be late for work after I stop at the dry cleaners (there are no dry cleaners on my way) as it is so I’d better wait until later.

Today, lunchtime: There are no stores in the vicinity of downtown Tampa that sell CDs.

Tonight, 6:30PM: I have to do laundry tonight, no excuses, no options. So I plan on starting the clothes before going back upstairs and opening my mail. Then I’ll start boiling the water for spaghetti before I run downstairs and throw the clothes in the dryer. Then I'll finish making dinner, eat it and wait for the clothes to dry. After I eat, I’ll fold the clothes and shoot up to Borders (I have a 30% off coupon!) and grab the CD. This will work out perfectly!

7:10PM: Uh-oh, every dryer is occupied, including some where the cycles have ended and the dry clothes are just sitting there waiting to be emptied. I ain't touchin’ nobody else’s draw’s, clean or dirty, so I wait, patiently and then impatiently. Meanwhile, I worry that the water I put on the stove is almost certainly boiling over. But if I leave now and the inconsiderate jerks show up and empty their dryers, somebody is liable to jump in ahead of me. I agonize over this for a few minutes before I finally give up and hustle back to the apartment and turn the stove off. I go back to the laundry room and thankfully nobody has cut in front of me, but the dryers are still sitting there, full of dry clothes. Ten minutes later, a woman shows up with at least, I’m not exaggerating, seven kids. No wonder every machine is in use. If each kid is good for one load of clothes each, which is probably a conservative estimate judging by the appearance of the grubby little ankle biters, she’s going to be here all night as it is.

7:40PM: I finally get my clothes in the dryer and go back upstairs to fix dinner. Of course, the water is cold now and I have to start over.

9:20PM: I am done with dinner and the laundry so I finally set out for Borders.

10:00PM: I get home for the night and finally put the CD in the player.

And that’s how that works.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sometimes Billy absolutely amazes me

Billy the Kid, my office mate, informed me this week that he didn't know his girlfriend's last name. His defense being that in spite of his dating her (in every sense of the world), she wasn't actually his "girlfriend", so it's really no big deal that he didn't know her last name. "Besides", he said, "I think I knew what it was but I forgot". I asked how long he's known the young lady and he answered, "eight years". How is that even possible? I think the only way you can know somebody that long and not know their last name is if they don't have one, like Cher, Prince or Madonna. Somehow, Billy pulls it off though.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tabloid Bay

One of the things I don't really like about where I live is this strange envy of other metropolitan areas that we seem to have. It's like we're not happy enough with what we have and feel this need to justify our existence as a "real" city, whatever that means. In that way, Tampa Bay is a lot like a small child impulsively begging for a puppy. Chicago has an aquarium; we want an aquarium. Cleveland has a major league baseball team; we want a major league baseball team. Detroit has a convention center; we want a convention center. New York has the New York Post a daily tabloid newspaper with lurid, sleazy headlines; we have TBT, which is a smaller, racier, tabloid version of the St. Petersburg Times.
A couple of weeks ago TBT devoted it's daily front pages to the Elijah Dukes "baby mama" saga. This week, we were treated to big, red headlines that screamed "SHE WAS HIS SEX SLAVE" (Thursday, 6/12) and "WHO IS MASTER DREW?" (Friday, 6/13). The story being, some guy named Andrew Kobik (Master Drew), had signed a 19-year-old woman named Alyssandra Cardillo with a history of mental illness to a 10-page, five-year contract to be his sex slave and was arrested on prostitution charges by Pasco County sheriff's deputies acting on a tip (there's more to it, of course, but that's the gist).
Apparently, much like craftsmen who hang drywall or install plumbing, sex slaves are contractual labor. Huh. Who knew? Although, in spite of the fact that the woman wasn't paid for her services, I'm not sure "slave" is an accurate depiction of her position. After all, in order for there to be an executed contract with terms, provisions and opt-out clauses, there has to be some sort of agreement between the two parties, which would imply some level of mutual consent, an element missing in what we traditionally think of as slavery. But I guess it's a sign of the litigious society in which we live today. After all, you have to have legal protection in the event that the services provided are not satisfactory and you want to be protected if you decide to withhold non-payment to your sex slave.
But yet again, I digress.
I'm not a prude. At least, I like to think I'm not. Seeing this kind of thing on the front of a newspaper really doesn't bother me at all. I'm very much an advocate for free speech and I vehemently oppose censorship, especially in the guise of morality or decency standards. Yet, I feel for parents of small children who have to answer questions from their wee ones who are phonetically savvy enough to pronounce the words "sex slave" and want to know what that means. That can't be much fun. But I guess that's just life in a "real" city.

(Cross posted at Sticks Of Fire)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Dome by any other name

It's with a little tinge of sadness that I chuckle at the goings on over at USF over the naming rights of the Sun Dome. Sadness, because I worked there from 1999 to 2006 and for the majority of those seven years, it was easily the best job I had ever had. But I chuckle because the people running things there now are the reason I left and I knew it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. I'm only surprised that it took this long.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sometimes I forget how to read

I've only lived in this country a short time (my whole life, but I'm really not that old) and every now and then I still have trouble with the words you people use to express yourselves. For example, this picture shows a sign that's right outside the main gate of my apartment complex, a sign that had me confused for the better part of the past week. Specifically, the web site address, which is Obviously, I didn't read the whole sign, or maybe I was just hungry at the time but I could not figure out for the life of me what a property management company's web site would have to do with raisins. Maybe they're diversified? Maybe they just like 'em? But what's "gliving"? Is it something you do to raisins, some sort of food preservation or flavor enhancement process? I didn't know. I just knew I didn't understand. It didn't hit me until days later that it was "Raising Living" and not "Raisin Gliving". Duh.
I remember something similar happening to me in grade school, when I came across the word "understand" on a list of spelling words. I read it and in my mind it came out as understand, instead of understand and I thought it was a piece of furniture, maybe a small table that fits under a dresser or something. I didn't know. I was pretty sure we didn't have one at home so I asked the teacher, in front of the whole class, to explain what it was to me, which is like asking someone to explain what an explanation is. So this isn't new territory for me.
Not that that "Raising Living" isn't a pretty stupid slogan anyway. Not as stupid as "Raisin Gliving" maybe, but still, pretty dumb. I'm not sure I even know what it's supposed to mean. I mean, they've painted and cleaned up around here and it's nice but it's not like they introduced the concepts of waste disposal and refrigerated food to savages in Borneo.
But I'm still an idiot. Again.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Adventures in dining, Tampa style

In spite of having lived in the Tampa Bay area for over 20 years now, there are still bars and restaurants I've passed hundreds of times that I've always wanted to visit but have just never gotten around to actually doing so. That list got a little shorter today when I stopped for lunch at Nicko's diner.
It's one of those classic "railroad car"-style diners covered in stainless steel. Between that and the fact that they serve breakfast very late (I was able to get an excellent Greek omelet and hash browns after 12:00 noon), I liked the place immediately. The service was very quick and efficient, with plenty of attention in the way of coffee refills which is always a huge plus. Further enhancing the experience was getting to sit at the same booth where
Elvis Presley dined after a show at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory back in 1956. I'm not the world's biggest Elvis fan so I had no idea until I sat down and saw the commemorative plaque, but it was still cool.
What wasn't so cool was once again, being revealed as the schlimazel I truly am. I learned from watching Laverne & Shirley as a child that a
schlemiel is someone who spills their soup in a diner and a schlimazel is someone who has soup spilled on them in a diner (the fact that I'm able to retain life lessons learned from Yiddish speaking Italian-American sitcom characters but couldn't tell you the value of X with a full pad of paper, a sharp pencil and a scientific calculator will give you a little clue about my level of intelligence). Only in my case, today, it was ketchup that somehow wound up being spilled on me (see the photo of my shirt). I still don't know if the people eating at the booth behind me were startled by a hornet or what happened exactly. This is the kind of thing that happens fairly regularly to me but probably never, ever happened to Elvis, even though we both sat in the same booth. But my waitress graciously comped part of my bill and the food was excellent, so overall, I would recommend Nicko's highly to anyone. Just be careful when they're passing the condiments, unless you happen to be The King of Rock and Roll.

(Cross posted at Sticks Of Fire)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"Be glad that you are free..."

I got an email forwarded to me yesterday, July 4th, as in The Fourth Of July, as in Independence Day, titled "Proud To Be White". I'd actually seen it a few times before over the years but yesterday for some reason, I actually felt like commenting on it. Now, I don't do so out of some high-minded belief that I'm more enlightened than anybody else on the planet. It's just that, well, I don't really care about people whining about how bad they've got it. But sometimes the people who do, like whoever wrote this originally, get on my nerves and I feel the urge to mouth off about it. Besides, diversity is vastly overrated and similarity is greatly underappreciated. So for better or worse, the content of that email, and my comments (in bold), are posted below.

Are You Proud To Be White? Someone finally said it.
Did they say it while wearing a white robe and hood or maybe an armband with a swastika on it? I'm as proud to be white as I am of being righthanded or anything else I have no control over.

You pass me on the street and sneer in my direction.
To whom does this ever happen? It's never happened to me. Or are dark skinned people walking around constantly sneering at me and I'm just not noticing? I'm pretty self-conscious and I think I'd notice that. I'm pretty sure the last time anybody sneered in my direction, it was because I had some dog poop on my shoe. I was sneering too.

You Call me "White boy," "Cracker," "Honkey," "Whitey," "Caveman" . And that's OK.
It is? Who says that's ok? It's certainly not very nice.
And 'caveman'? Seriously? 'Caveman' is a slur against white people now? I think someone needs to inform the author that the Geico commercials are not reality tv.

But when I call you, Nigger, Kike, Towel head, Sand-nigger, camel Jockey, Beaner, Gook, or Chink . You call me a racist.
Racist or not, addressing people with insults makes the author, at best, an asshole. See above (re: It's not very nice)

You say that whites commit a lot of violence against you, so why are the ghettos the most dangerous places to live?
This statement makes the assumption that a) only non-whites live in ghettos and b) any neighborhood comprised of a predominantly non-white population is a ghetto. Neither of these things are accurate so beliefs to the contrary are predicated entirely on prejudice. I hate to break it to you but those would qualify as rascist beliefs.
Besides, who says ghettos aren't dangerous? I recently took a wrong turn and had to drive through a housing project that could be classified as a ghetto and I was scared. I didn't know what I was going to do if my car broke down ("Can you come get me? Just drive into the ghetto until you're afraid for your life and then go another 500 feet or so. That's where I'll be.") I was amazed to see speed bumps. There should not be anything in the ghetto that restricts your ability to get out as soon as possible. Instead of speed bumps, they should have spinners like a pinball machine to launch your ass out of there in a hurry. But I digress...

You have the United Negro College Fund. You have Martin Luther King Day.You have Black History Month.You have Cesar Chavez Day.You have Yom Hashoah.You have Ma'uled Al-Nabi.You have the NAACP.You have BET.
I don't know who the "you" is that this is addressed to, but if there's any one person who has all that going for them, they probably get a whole lot of days off from work and have the world's most interesting album of family photos.

If we had WET (White Entertainment Television) We'd be racists.
I think there is a WET's one of those you have to pay extra for and I don't think it has anything to do with White Pride (Bow chicka bow bow)

If we had a White Pride Day . You would call us racists. If we had White History Month . We'd be racists. If we had any organization for only whites to "advance" OUR Lives we'd be racists. There are organizations for the advancement of whites only. Lots of them. They're comprised of self-avowed rascists. Don't take my word for it, ask them. They'll tell you themselves. They're downright (dare I say it?) proud of that fact.

We have a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a Black Chamber of Commerce,and then we just have the plain Chamber of Commerce.Wonder who pays for that?
Ooh I know, I know! They do! Err, I mean, you do! We do? The author has changed subjects and now I'm really confused as to who's being addressed. At any rate, it's the dues paying members of a given chamber of commerce that pay for it.

If we had a college fund that only gave white students scholarships ... You know we'd be racists. There are over 60 openly proclaimed Black Colleges in the US, yet if there were "White colleges". THAT would be a racist college.
Whites are not prohibited from attending any of those schools. In fact, the Bethune Cookman College baseball team actually has more white players than black players. Besides, what would be the point of an all-white college? Their team colors (white) would be boring and they would suck at all sports except lacross and hockey.

In the Million Man March, you believed that you were marching for your race and rights. If we marched for our race and rights, you would call us racists
The author has changed subjects again, back to addressing the mysterious "you", but what confuses me even more is exactly what rights are we (honkies) being denied that we (white boys) think we (crackers) need to march for? I'm guessing a million of us (cavemen) don't think the right to call people names without facing some sort of consequences is march-worthy.

You are proud to be black, brown, yellow and orange, and you're not afraid to announce it. But when we announce our white pride. You call us racists.
That's probably because whenever anybody is giving a shout-out to White Pride, they seem to either be setting a cross on fire or giving the Sieg Heil salute. And where the hell did these orange people come from? Syracuse?

You rob us, carjack us, and shoot at us. But, when a white police officer shoots a black gang member or beats up a black drug-dealer running from the law and posing a threat to society you call him a racist.
That's a little oversimplified, don't you think? What does one have to do with the other anyway? These are just two inflammatory statements that have nothing to do with each other. It's like saying "A = B but C = D. Therefore, B > C." Or something. I suck at algebra.

I am proud. But, you call me a racist.
Congratulations! But again, proud of what? Circumstances of birth over which you have no control? Way to go, I guess. I know, the argument coming back is 'But they get to do it!'. That argument didn't hold water when you were 11 and your mom wouldn't let you watch R-rated movies. What makes you think it's valid now?
Anyway, so what? They're knuckleheads too, ok? Yay! Common ground at last! You're both knuckleheads. Now all of you go off and sew a knucklehead quilt for the big Knucklehead Pride rally and leave the rest of us, who are wrapped up in balancing our day-to-day lives and the inherent difficulties that come with that, alone already because we really don't think that your whining about not being allowed to call people niggers without there being consequences (which, let's be honest, is really what this is all about) qualifies as oppression.

Why is it that only whites can be racists?
Because you're a honkey, ok? Jesus!

There is nothing improper about this e-mail.

Let's see which of you are proud enough to send it on.
Let's wonder why the author didn't sign their name.

See, here's the thing the author doesn't understand or, more likely, refuses to acknowledge: Nobody who feels this way is being oppressed. Nobody who feels this way is going to be thrown in jail for expressing these views. Say whatever you want. Make a poster, set up a web site, put it in an email (anonymously, of course). Whatever. That's freedom of speech and you're entitled to it. But that doesn't mean that everybody has to agree with what you say. That's what's called "tough shit" and unless you went through your entire childhood always getting your way every single time you wanted something, you should already be familiar with the concept.
How freedom of speech works is you get to say whatever you want. Now, if someone disagrees, they get to retort and object. That's also freedom of speech. If you say something objectionable and someone punches you in the face, well then you have the right to press charges against them for assault. But then I have the right to say that I'm glad you got punched in the face and I hope the guy who did it gets off. See how great the system is?

So Happy 4th of July and enjoy your freedom!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Gotta love weekend TV

I was flipping channels Saturday and came across some interesting programming on Spike TV. Spike, formerly the Nashville Network, bills itself as "TV for men". Ok, I get it. TV for men, as in TV not for women. Spike. Ha ha!
I guess they couldn't call it Dick TV, although that would have kept them from being sued by Spike Lee. I'm also a little surprised that the phalus arrow in the logo points downward, but whatever. Sometimes a logo is just a logo, right? Anyway, in spite of being a man, I rarely watch the ol' Spike tv because it seems like most of the time when I go there, it's either re-runs of Star Trek or one of the CSIs (I don't know which one) or it's some ultimate fighting thing, none of which appeals to me in the least. However, when I was scanning the channels on Saturday the little preview box at the bottom of the screen said "EXPLOSIONS".

Q: What's better than watching explosions on television?
A: Two things; 1) watching explosions in person and 2) nothing.

So I immediately stopped and watched. I had forgotten that the one other thing Spike shows is things like explosions, car chases and riots in 3rd world countries caught on video. On these shows, they always have a narrator throw in just enough trivia about the given topic so it can seem like there's actually some educational benefit to watching these things. But in reality, it's just wild stuff caught on tape and the value is in having it beamed into your living room where you can sit back with some popcorn and gawk at it without people thinking you're some kind of freak.
For instance, the Explosions show was followed by a show on train wrecks. Same format, different calamity. The train wreck show, narrated by John Bunnell, former sherriff of Multnomah County, Oregon and current narrator of any "World's Wildest Caught On Video" extravaganza that comes down the pike offered brilliant, bite-sized observations like "trains are big and fast" and "don't cross railroad tracks when trains are coming" between clip after clip of freight trains plowing into cars and trucks at high speeds, which helps the producers feel that they're performing some sort of public service.
Unfortunately, the explosions show was almost over so I only caught the last 20 minutes. But that was enough for me to learn two "facts" (as stated by the narrator); 1) "Explosions can't be prevented" 2) "Explosions can't be avoided". Really? In that case, I guess I would like to take this opportunity to thank every gas station I have ever been to in my life for doing a good job of preventing and avoiding the unpreventable and far.