Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

All through the house, 'twas the eve 'fore '09,
All the creatures were stirring, man, woman, bovine.
The mission was simple; an epic pub crawl,
to down as much booze before hearing "Last call!"
To get myself psyched up, I listened to rap,
And put on my favorite backwards baseball cap.
The car keys were hung by the tv with care,
Cops don't like drunk drivers, no mercy to spare.
I would be walking, no, stumbling more apt.
And wouldn't come home home 'til my wallet was tapped.
When out in the yard there arose such a ruckus,
I looked out the window and said "what the fuck is..."
But my query was cut off, halfway out my throat,
When I saw parked in my yard what looked like a boat.
A salty old pirate came scuttling out,
"I'm Captain Morgan!", he announced with a shout.
"You've been invited to come join my crew!"
That pop that you heard was my mind when it blew.
I couldn't believe it. My brain playing tricks?
Or another dumb prank by my friends, who are dicks.
That's when he called out to the rest of his gang,
"Come show yourselves", and their names he then sang;
"Now, vodka! now, whiskey! now, Thunderbird vino!
Some applejack brandy with San Pellegrino!
Margarita, Rumrunner, Long Island Iced Tea
Fuzzy Navels, Martinis, now come follow me!
Budweiser, Michelob, Miller Lite, Coors!
And other shitty domestics, if I didn't mention yours!"
This was amazing, my best dream come true,
Of course I would join this fabulous crew!
But before I could answer, what to my eyes did appear?
Great, big, ol' wet spots on my jeans, front and rear.
I said, "Uh-oh, this ain't right. What is the matter?"
And found my hand submerged in a bowl of warm water.
I raised up my head and I looked in a mirror.
On my face, penned in Sharpie, it said, "Insert balls here".
The crew and the Captain were laughing at me.
"Oh gross", one of them said, "He slept in his own pee!"
I squinted my eyes so I could focus on them
And saw no captain or ship; just my own so-called friends.
While they took turns laughing and being disgusted at my state,
I mumbled "Izzit NewYear?" They said "Dude, you're too late."
It turns out I got drunk, passed out hours ago.
Slept right through the damn thing, missed the whole Dick Clark show.
I couldn't believe it, the whole thing was a dream
Never should have mixed tequila with Baileys Irish Cream
I pulled myself upright and promptly puked up some beer.
and said "Keep laughing, you assholes. I'll get you next year."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I got your niche right here

Everybody says the key to being really successful is fulfilling needs, especially those needs that people don't even know they have. Well, here's a golden opportunity that some self-starter should jump all over: Happy New Years* music.

Think about it. The official holiday season starts with Thanksgiving, ends with Happy New Years* and includes all the festivities in between. Yet, the music is completely dominated by Christmas songs. There are a few Hanukkah songs and Kwanzaa songs (no Thanksgiving songs, though, because it's impossible to sing when you're planted on the couch in a gravy-induced coma while the athletic pageantry of Detroit Lions football drones on in the background) but other than "We Wish You A Merry Christmas", in which Happy New Years* gets mentioned one time to every three times for Merry Christmas, the only song there is for Happy New Years* is "Auld Lang Syne", which can only be played once. And that's at exactly 12:00:01 on January 1st. If you miss it then, you have to wait until we take a whole 'nother lap around the sun.

Not only is there only one Happy New Years* song, there's really only one Happy New Years* musician, Guy Lombardo, and he's been dead for over 30 years. That's some serious exclusivity there. Not bad for a Canadian, eh? Even if Elvis had been successful in his effort to have his pal Richard Nixon launch the Beatles in a rocket aimed directly into the sun, he still wouldn't have had the rock 'n roll market sewn up like Guy Lombardo. The only other musician who has made a career out of one friggin' song and been at least somewhat culturally significant is Chubby Checker. Well, and Lipps Inc of course.

I think there's room for an industrious, creative new performer to grab at least a share of that very precise and particular spotlight. It'll take hard work and dedication, but the potential payoff could be huge. Think about it, Happy New Years* is not hindered by cultural boundaries like race and religion. Even Chinese people who won't celebrate the end of The Year Of The Rat until February will still be happy to acknowledge and celebrate the end of The Years Of The Ass without worrying about betraying their heritage. And the timing really couldn't be better, because THIS year, people are more eager to embrace new things than ever before; new leadership, new economic strategies, new episodes of "Lost". Strike while the iron is hot! is what I always say when I heckle blacksmiths.

It's all there, baby, a low-hanging plumb for the picking.

* The correct name of the holiday is Happy New Years and it should always be represented as such. In the photo, Mr. Lombardo is expressing amusement at a faulty balloon that somehow slipped past quality control and made it all the way to the big time at the Waldorf=Astoria grand ballroom. Shortly after this picture was taken, Mr. Lombardo burst the balloon with a lit cigarette which he extinguished by grinding it into the forehead of the hotel's banquet manager, a man whose effeminate manner had offended Lombardo in previous dealings. Later that night, he had that man fired for the unfortunate gaffe, then drove to the man's mother's home and made love to her while two members of his Royal Canadiens forced the man to watch. So say it correctly, you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The 'cra' in Craigslist is short for crazy

I don't go to many Tampa Bay Buccaneers games. For one thing, the tickets are cost prohibitive for me. While you can still see a Rays or Lightning game for around $10, you can't get into Raymond James Stadium for less than $42. For another thing, football is a distant third favorite after baseball and hockey for me. Lastly, I've always felt that the best way to watch any football game is on tv. But I was given two free tickets, which doesn't happen often, I haven't been to a Bucs game in quite a while, this one had playoff implications (at the time) and I have a feeling that is probably going to be the last time that Buc legends (and future hall of famers) Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber suit up for the home team. Maybe ever.
The problem is, that between the holidays and whatever else was going on, nobody I would normally ask was able to attend. Rather than go by myself, I had the bright idea of advertising on Craigslist for a companion.
My experience with Craigslist is very limited, having only ever used it to advertise a yard sale we did last year for Relay For Life. That's not what most people use it for. Craigslist has a
nasty reputation for being a free marketplace of prostitution and as the world's largest online meat market singles bar. It's not that I was unaware of these things (I read stuff, you know), just that I didn't have first-hand knowledge.
My intent was to find a woman who owuld like to go with me because, frankly, I simply prefer the company of women. Concepts like male bonding and 'guy's night out' hold no appeal to me. If I'm going to make the choice to spend an extended period of time with another person, that person is not going to smell like
Axe Body Spray.
Being a rookie in the online personal advertising game, I looked around for a while to see what the standards are.
In two words: Holy shit!
A typical ad from a man trying to meet a woman on Craigslist looks kind of like this:

Single professional male seeks to meet a woman to share mutual interests, such as fine dining, live music and outdoor recreation. In order to demonstrate my sincerity and prove that I'm a completely normal guy, here's a close-up photograph I took of my genitals.

In order to get the true gist, you'll need to imagine the photograph. And every third word misspelled.
I was feeling kind of intimidated. No, not by the picture(s), but by the overall lack of discretion. Discretion is really not an ingredient in Craigslist stew. When I went to post my ad under the heading of "men seeking women", I was given six choices for a specific category

  • missed connection - Not applicable
  • rant and rave - Not applicable, that's what my blog is for
  • strictly platonic (friends only) -Well, how strict is 'strictly'?
  • dating, romance, long term relationship (ltr) -Definitely not applicable! Slow down!
  • sex with no strings attached (nsa) - Presumably not applicable, since I'm not entirely familiar with all of the policies at Raymond James Stadium...
  • erotic services ($5.00 per post) - Not applicable, since I'm not this guy:

There's no "let's go out and, who knows, maybe we'll hit it off" category. I guess ambiguity isn't all that important on a site where so many people are seeking that perfect fully-functional transsexual dominatrix.
So, left to my own devices (as it were), I picked "strictly platonic" and wrote
my ad:

Ok, here's the deal: I have two tickets to see the Buccaneers play the Oakland Raiders this Sunday but I don't have anyone to go with me. It's the holidays and I would like to spend some time in the company of an attractive and intelligent woman with a sense of humor. That's all. Well, maybe we could go get chicken wings or something afterwards. There are some minimum compatibility standards (football games last several hours; no point in pursuing this if we're going to make each other miserable, right?)

* You should be a Bucs fan.

* You should not be an actively involved member of any religious cults. At least not any that routinely engage in ritual sacrifice.

* If you have pets, you should not be constantly dressing them up in silly costumes and taking pictures of them (this one is actually a pretty good rule to follow in life beyond this particular outing).

That's really it. If those standards aren't too high and you think this might be how you'd like to spend a Sunday afternoon, please write and we'll see where it goes from here. I'll be happy to honestly answer any and all questions you might have. Thanks!

I got two (2) responses.
It worked out favorably. But if you're thinking about using Craigslist for whatever you're marketing, go ahead. I highly reccomend it as a free resource that offers a central network of online communities and forums on various topics that draws interest from a wide variety of demographic groups. Just don't forget to have a picture of your genitals handy.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Ever wonder what kind of person is behind the blogs you read? Now you can find out! I entered 4 or 5 blogs that I read and eveything either came up "ESFP - The Performers" or "ESTP - The Doers". I guess this proves either that there really ARE only two types of people or that the internet is full of shit.

For what it's worth:

"The analysis indicates that the author of is of the type: ESTP - The Doers

The active and play-ful type. They are especially attuned to people
and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and
engaging in physical out-door activities. The Doers are happiest with
action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time."

I had report cards that kind of said the same thing so I guess I can't quibble much. But why do they use a picture of a little girl to represent the profile?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Is Over (If You Want It)

(This is in C, if you're singing along)
So this was Christmas
And what did I do'd?
Sat in my apartment
And ate Chinese food

And so this was Christmas
Without any cryin'
Caught up on old re-runs
Of Conan O'Brien

(This is the part where my Japanese girlfriend, an off-the-wall avant-garde conceptual artist who would absolutely refuse to wear a school girl's uniform no matter what, would join in...if I had one)
A semi-Merry Christmas
Crack open a beer

Let's try to get excited
About a Happy New Year

(me again)
And so this was Christmas
Guess I'll take down the tree
Or just leave it up all
year for the neighbors to see

I'm almost that lazy
And I could start a new trend
What do you think, Japanese
conceptual artist girlfriend?

(She would sing in Courier for some reason. I don't know why)
Everybody loves a freak show
That's why we are here
But that idea is stupid
Without merit, I fear

(Children's choir joins in...)
Christmas is over
Quit your whin-ing
Get off your ass
Do some shop-ping
(repeat until you feel utterly compelled to get up and go to Best Buy)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A short conversation between a couple of wise guys

"Are you believing this? I mean, seriously, are you believing this??"

"I gotta tell you man, my mind is blown. Buh-LOWN!"

"The kid is loving it though. Look at him, smiling, nodding. Look how pleased he is."

"Yeah, well, he's a baby. What do you expect?"

"I could have saved a ton of money if I'd known I could just show up and jingle my keys."

"Instead we get on our camels and bust our humps..."


" lug exotic gifts halfway across the desert, which is a huge pain in the ass by itself..."

"Especially during the holidays."

"Yeah! Wait...what?"

"Never mind."

"And what has his undivided attention? Some dirty urchin pounding on a drum."

"He's not even a good drummer."

"Tell me about it. The guy that beats on the paint buckets outside the coliseum is better than this jamoke."

"That guy is awesome!"

"This guy...mediocre at best."

"Maybe this is a parable. One of his lessons."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, the kid's The Messiah, right? We're supposed to be learning from him. Maybe he's teaching us that material things aren't what make the greatest gifts."

"Uh, hello? We're wise men. There are three of us. I think if it was something that simple, we'd have figured it out on our own."

"You know, now that you mention it, I'm actually questioning how wise we are right now. We travel across the desert, lugging frankincense and myrrh to people who are having their baby in a barn. Not exactly practical gifts. Look at this place. That's a sheep RIGHT THERE, next to the baby! Honestly, what are they gonna do with frankincense and myrrh?"

"Dennis brought gold! They can buy stuff with gold."

"Then I guess that means that Dennis is actually wise! Where does that leave us, though? I'll tell you. We're just a couple of schmucks. We're Dennis the Wise Man and the Two Schmucks."

"Yeah, well, I'm not changing my business card again."

Merry Christmas

"Of course, you realize that all evidence points to the fact that Jesus Christ wasn't born anywhere close to December 25th and what is considered the celebration of traditional Christmas has it's roots in a Pagan festival and that Christmas actually used to be illegal and Christmas trees are a Pagan symbol of..."
Shut up. Just shut up, sit down and shut up. In that order. It's not that what you're saying isn't true and it's not that you aren't smarter than everybody else. It's just that nobody cares and nobody wants to hear word else out of you about it. So just sit there, quietly, and open your gifts, smile, and say thank you. Charades can be fun. It's not going to kill you to go along with this one for a day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Life on Mars

Temperatures on the planet Mars can range anywhere from 80° F to -200° F, depending on where you are, the time of day and the time of year. That is almost exactly what it's like in Tampa these days and I'm not even exaggerating. We're supposed to be crazy hot year 'round, except at this time of year when we're supposed to get cold snaps that last for a week or two that bring the temperature down to the 60s, 50s or even lower. This year, we're not getting cold snaps, we're getting cold teases. It's like you open your door and say "oh, it's a tad chilly out. I think I'll put on a jacket and open a window." But by the time you get to the window, it's back up over 80° again and you're broiling.

Now I know that complaining about the weather in Florida right now is not something that's going to get a lot of support from people elsewhere. Apparently, this is the only place in America where it isn't snowing and/or frozen completely solid. Nobody's even heard from the state of Wisconsin in over a week (normally, that would be cause for concern but the Packers aren't that good this year and Brett Favre doesn't even play there anymore so nobody cares).
But that's the way it's supposed to be, more or less, in those places. Here, we're not getting the weather we're entitled to and that just isn't right. And I don't like it. It's a proven medical fact that rapid fluctuations in outdoor temperature are a leading cause of sickness and death. Need proof? How about I'm sick to death of these rapid fluctuations in outdoor temperature. See?
The short period of pleasantly cold weather we get every year is like our reward, sort of a tax refund, for enduring the ridiculous climate we get the rest of the year, when the simple act of going outdoors makes you feel as though you're melting like a crayon wedged firmly between the hairy buttocks of an old fat guy in a sauna. And that's not to mention the storms as big as an entire state, for crying out loud. So it's not too much to ask that the weather get down into the 50s and stay there for the next ten days, damn it.
Somebody get Al Gore and Willard Scott and Captain Planet and Dennis Quaid from "The Day After Tomorrow" and whoever else needs to get involved to figure out what is going on. Because I'm not going outside again until you do.

A short conversation about working with minorities

"There's no point in sulking about it. The old man picked him and that's that. He's the boss"

"I just don't understand why we have to go out of our way to cater to somebody just because they're different. Where does it say I have to get along with everybody?"

"Look, you have to admit he did a good job."

"I don't care, I don't like it. Who's to say one of us couldn't have done it?"

"Come on, man..."

"You know what this is? It's reverse discrimination. That's exactly what's going on here. He's a minority so as soon as there's an opportunity for promotion, he automatically gets it. It's total bullshit!"

"(Shhh, careful. He's right there.)"

"(Oh.) Hey there, Rudy. Nice job out there last night. Way to go, buddy. Seriously, we couldn't have done it without you. (Asshole.)"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The week in review, as determined by the crap left on my front door

We all know the economy is bad. Stores are closing, jobs are being eliminated, people everywhere are scaling back. However, there's one industry that is apparently still thriving; the distributors of crap that is put on people's front doors. Here's what I got at my place just last week (just imagine if my apartment complex didn't have those two "No Soliciting" signs posted!)

MONDAY, DECEMBER 15 - Season's greetings from the management of my complex. Well, that's nice! Certainly nicer than other notes they could have left like "your rent check bounced" or "turn your music down" or "for the last time, either stop leaving your blinds open or start wearing pants". I kept this one.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 16 - DirecTV Flyer promising lots of free stuff. Hmm, I like free stuff. Free stuff fits nicely within my budget. I like that a lot. What I don't like is this:

That looks like a lot of fine print hidden under that big, white sticker. Plus, you have to be suspicious of a company that spends money on fancy, die-cut advertising flyers. I'm gonna pass on this one.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 17 - Chinese food take-out menu. The people at this restaurant recognize you don't need fancy die-cut holes when you have staples and rubber bands. Kudos! But Chinese food tastes the same no matter where you get it from and I'm sure I already have several take-out menus inside so I don't need another one. Plus, there's this:

This place is 3.2 miles from my house. Somebody drove out of their delivery zone to deliver a take-out menu to me from a restaurant that won't deliver to me.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18 - In-home computer repair services. It says they're available "24/7" which is easily one of the most overused (and annoying) phrases in the English language. Still, if it's true, this is something that could come in real handy. If not, it'll be something I can complain about later. I'll keep this one.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19 - Pizza take-out menu. Like Chinese food, I'm sure I have scads of pizza menus laying around. Unlike Chinese food, all pizza is not the same. And around here, good pizza is hard to find. I don't know why that is. I'm not usually prone to pointing out how things are better "up north", but in the case of pizza, it's true. It seems like every little podunk 'burg around where I grew up had/has at least one outstanding little local pizza joint. I live in a much bigger metropolitan area now and those places are few and far between. So I'm always open to giving a place a chance. Although, I have to say this seems more than a little exploitative and doesn't excite me:

Tentative keeper. We'll see how their pizza is.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20 - Some kind of religious solicitation. This one went straight into the shit can (well, right after I took a picture of it). I don't even know what the pitch is and I don't care. Does this make me close-minded? Maybe. But people trying to sell me their version of the Truth usually lose me the moment they capitalize the T. Sorry, that's just the way it is. My front door, my rules.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Later we'll have some WHAT?!?

It's really not a good time to be a douchebag right now

Douchebags have had it pretty damn good in this country for quite a while now (especially during the last eight years). But there are indications that the times they are a-changin'...

RANDY WHITE - The charismatic leader of what was once the fastest growing cult church in America is watching it all come crumbling down as he has been beset by a number of problems, including a
divorce, a dwindling congregation, code enforcement violations and impending foreclosure. I don't think the Holy Scripture specifically mentions what God thinks about pastors who award themselves degrees and live like rock stars, but I'm guessing He doesn't like it.

The Executive Director of the Lowry Park Zoo was fired last week after investigations revealed extremely improper conduct taking place at the zoo, including over 200 transactions authorized by Salisbury that involved the exchange of animals between the zoo, a public, tax-supported entity, and Safari Wild, a private enterprise he owns in Polk County. As an extra point kick in the nuts, his wife was cited and fined for two counts of animal cruelty when she left two dogs locked in her SUV in the parking lot outside of the proceeding while Salisbury was inside getting the ax.

TIM MARCUM - The head coach of the Tampa Bay Storm, who once rewarded some of his players with
phony championship rings and tried to enlist others as accomplices in an insurance fraud scheme, suddenly has a clear calendar after the Arena Football League decided to suspend operation and not play in 2009. The league says it will be back next year after a "reorganization". Sort of like when restaurants close for "remodeling".

THE JOKER - This sad clown tried to run (and ruin) things in Gotham City, but I guess the Batman had a little something to say about that, didn't he?

OJ SIMPSON - The Juice is no longer loose.
He's headed to prison for a minimum of nine years after being convicted of felony kidnapping, armed robbery and other charges stemming from a gunpoint confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers in Las Vegas and not for murdering two people in 1995 and then playing a shitload of golf.

ROD BLAGOJEVICH - The governor of Illinois is in deep, deep trouble for attempting to sell the vacated senate seat of president-elect Barack Obama and for using a beaver as a hat.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

TampaBLAB loves me!

Unsolicited love and pimpage from John F:

"Clark’s a character.
There we go, I said it. I went right to the point of Ridiculously Inconsistent Trickle of Consciousness: Clark Brooks is a character and worth your time..."

Awww! And I love the 'BLAB right back. It's a collection of really great blogs (plus this big, dumb purple one) that cover all kinds of subject matter. I'm thrilled to be a tiny part of it and looking forward to the eventual inclusion of other worthwhile blogs (such as this one, this one and this one).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Oy, such a day I'm having

The following takes place between 4:30AM and 4:30PM (and is all 100% true)
4:30AM - My phone rings and it's my co-worker whom I'm going to start calling Empanadilla as I expect her to make recurring appearances in this blog. She has just gotten over a stretch where she had three different surgeries to deal with kidney stones and now her 2-year-old daughter is sick. She's been at the hospital since 11:00 the night before and is not going to make into work by 6:00. Can I go in for her? There are few things I despise more than being called into work. I can't even think of a metaphor to adequately express how much I hate taking those calls. However, when I like someone, I am as loyal as a German Shepard. I haven't been at this job very long but I really like Empanadilla so I say "sure".
3:00PM - Being as how I place such an extremely high value on my personal time, the only thing worse than being called in is not being able to leave when the shift I've been called in for doesn't end when it's supposed to. I should have been off at 2:00 but my relief was late and there was no management around. Beyond my aggravation, this is an important factor in what happens next. Because if I had left on time, I would have missed the following.
3:05PM - I've punched out and have unlocked my car door. I just happen to look up and I see a large group of kids walking down the street outside of our parking lot. There's a park along the river so people are always walking along the street. However, this is a large group (at least eight kids, possibly more) and they range in age from little bitty (maybe 7 or 8?) to young adult. It's kind of unusual so I stand there a minute and watch them. Suddenly, they all take off running, half of them running into the park behind a stand of bushes, the rest taking off down the street. I think, "Oh, they're racing each other or chasing something or otherwise screwing around." Then the group that ran into the park comes out and one of the bigger kids is lugging a large duffel bag. Now, my first impression is that they've stolen some homeless guy's bag, although it's a pretty nice bag. I've already got my phone out and dialed 911. I tell the operator "I think I'm witnessing a robbery" as I watch the whole group take off over a bridge to the other side of the river. I was robbed a year ago, I hate lowlife, scumbag criminals anyway and my dad was a cop so I get in my car and take off to follow them. The operator warns me not put myself at risk. However, my dad was a good cop who gave good advice so I have no intention of getting into a confrontation. I just want to keep them in sight and give info to the cops. Unfortunately, I have to drive all the way around the building and I lose sight of them. However, almost immediately there is a helicopter in the area and patrol cars all over the place. I go back to where it started to give the officer my info. A panicked man comes running up, sweaty and out of breath. It was his bag. He's a tourist from Austria and had put the bag down for less than a minute to go over and have a look at the river. He had seen the kids approach and had even waved to them. The bag has a laptop, his passport, his credit cards and some cash in it. He had chased them and lost them too. Probably a good thing, because they had him heavily outnumbered, and in their home element. While we're both there talking to the officer and watching the helicopter make tight circles overhead, the call comes over the radio that they've recovered the bag. No word on whether they caught any of the kids or what was still in the bag, but I'm no longer part of the story so I leave.
3:55PM - I'm northbound on Habana Avenue, on my way to the grocery store and behind a slow moving silver minivan (naturally). I can see that the passenger side door is slightly open. I figure the driver is moving at a crawl because he or she is leaning over to try to close the door. Suddenly, I see a body come tumbling out, hit the street and start rolling. It's a kid, probably 9 or 10 years old. I slam on the brakes, put it in park and jump out, certain that the kid is going to be all busted up. His mom jumps out of the minivan and runs over to him. Amazingly, he seems fine. They jump back in the minivan and take off.
4:30PM - My mind blown, I arrive at home, lock my doors and close my shades.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Have your cake and hate it too

I saw this delightful news item yesterday:
Heath Campbell and his wife, Deborah, are upset that a grocery store in New Jersey refused their request to inscribe a birthday cake with their son's full name, Adolph Hitler Campbell. That's mom and dad with young Adolph in the picture to the right. Their other two children (not pictured) are daughters JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell who will turn 2 soon and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell who will be 1 in April. The good news for humanity is that these two found each other, thereby saving two other people from hooking up with them. The bad news is they're breeding. Rapidly.
Heath says they're not fanatical about white supremacy and one look at Deborah's teeth backs that up. He says he was raised not to avoid people of other races but not to mix with them socially or romantically and that he doesn't plan to impose those values on his children. Mr Campbell said he even had mixed-race children at Adolph's birthday party. "If we're so racist, then why would I have them come into my home?," he said in a preview of the speech he plans to give when he accepts the Nobel Prize some day. "Say he grows up and hangs out with black people. That's fine, I don't really care. That's his choice," he said.
He also said he doesn't understand the F├╝hrer furor over something like a person's name. "I think people need to take their heads out of the cloud they've been in and start focusing on the future and not on the past," said the man who named his child after a World War II dictator. He just wanted the kid to stand out. "No one else in the world would have that name", he said, citing that there was a whole family of Liberaces living on their block and that he went to school with a boy named Sue. "Other kids get their cake," he complained. "I get a hard time. It's not fair to my children. How can a name be offensive?"
Some people, while not supportive of the Campbells and their passive aggressive 'What? It's just a child's full legal name completely spelled out on a birthday cake with a swastika on it' message, wonder if their right to free speech has been unfairly restricted, an act that would make the Founding Fathers roll over in their graves. While it's not known how the original signers of the constitution felt about a merchant's right to decline business in the interest of exercising good taste and discretion or the expression of unpopular ideas via baked goods, if women being allowed to vote and blacks being allowed to play baseball didn't already have them spinning like turbines strong enough to power a shopping mall, it's hard to imagine something like this getting them to budge.
Regardless, the story has a happy ending if you love cake and bigotry. The Campbells took their business to a local Wal Mart, which was more than happy to do anything for a buck grant the Campbell family their birthday wish.

Six pack of new blogs

Here are some new blogs to check out (links also included in the table to the right):

Out in left field - Liberal politics from Catherine Durkin Robinson
(Self) Description: "Where parenting and politics meet, but don't always play nice."

The State of Sunshine - From the right, Jim Johnson
(Self) Description: "An irregular review of politics in the Sunshine State."

Smitty Johnson - And from out of nowhere, it's Smitty Johnson. (WARNING: Rampant, unnecessary profanity)
(Self) Description: "The real life adventures of a guy"

Historic Theatres in Tampa - A unique slice of Tampa history
(Self) Description: "This site was created to help connect Tampa's historic theatres to the people who have enjoyed them over the years."

Boltsmag - Feed your hockey fix
(Self) Description: "Weblog devoted to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the NHL and Tampa Bay sports"

Re/Creating Tampa - David Davisson's look at food, green issues, and urban design in Tampa
(Self) Description: "A blog about Tampa and beyond covering food, movies, books, politics, and the internet."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thanks, but I'm a Harvard man

Some lumps of spam are classier than others. Check out what was in my inbox tonight:
Hello Clark,
It is a privilege to inform you that you are being considered
for inclusion into the 2009/2010 Princeton Premier Honors Edition Registry.
This recognition is an honor shared by only the most accomplished professionals who have demonstrated excellence within their careers and communities.
Inclusion into the Princeton Premier global network is
considered a benchmark of achievement. Once accepted, your successes are documented and preserved for all time in the hardcover registry, which is distributed throughout the world.
There is no cost to be included in the registry. Simply complete your application form and submit it within five business days to be considered for publication.
You may access our application form using the following link:
On behalf of the entire Princeton Premier community, best wishes for continued success.
Jay Harris
Managing Director
Princeton Premier

"Ewww! Well, look at him!", you're saying right about now.

That's right, haters. I'm being considered! For inclusion this time. That means they're paying some consideration to including me. In case you didn't already know, inclusion is a very exclusive thing. They don't consider just anybody for inclusion. For one thing, you've got to have a functional email address. Those are not a dime a dozen, although most of them are free. Then, you have to be able to click on a link and fill out a form. Many people might be able to do one or the other. Do you know anybody who can do both? They might be 2009/2010 Princeton Premier Honors Edition Registry material. Maybe. On top of all this, you have to be an accomplished professional who has demonstrated something in the whatever or something or other. Clearly, these people have seen me play cell phone Tetris because I do that really well, better than many people who still play Tetris, I would say. I have every single one of the high scores on my phone.

Coincidentally, I have been seeking the kind of benchmark of achievement that would document and preserve all of my successes in a hardcover publication with worldwide distribution. On Sunday I was at Wal Mart where I asked a clerk, "excuse me, do you have any benchmarks of achievement that would document and preserve all of my successes in a hardcover publication with worldwide distribution?" and of course, they did. In bulk. $12.99 for a pack of four. Ah, but inclusion in the Princeton Premier Honors Edition Registry is free (albeit, sans Hannah Montana puffy stickers).

All in all, a pretty tempting proposition, but I'm going to pass. Mainly because it sounds awfully permanent. What if I follow up all of my many achievements and successes this year by becoming the genocidal despot of an African nation next year? It could happen. Then somebody sitting in the lobby of a Hilton in Djibouti leafing through a copy of the 2009/2010 Princeton Premier Honors Edition Registry might come across my profile and say, "oh, I don't think they should have considered him for inclusion." Mr. Harris would probably be pretty embarrassed. In spite of whatever atrocities I might be involved in at that time, I think I'd still find time to feel kind of bad about that.

Maybe next year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Okay, so EVERYTHING didn't happen Friday night...

My prediction as to what might occur at the David Byrne concert at Tampa Theatre last Friday night was a little off the mark and my expectations weren't met...they were exceeded.
The show was incredible, maybe the best I've ever seen. He did plenty of new stuff (and now I have to go buy the album) and more than enough Talking Heads material to satisfy those who were just there to see that. He didn't do my favorite TH song ("Naive Melody") but the show was so good, only a glutton would complain about what wasn't in it.
Byrne is one of a very, very small handful of popular musicians to whom you can attach the title of "artist" without sarcasm or making yourself gag a little bit so you never know what he's going to throw at you. His art is always playful and not intimidating. He keeps you on your toes, but in a nice way. Such was the case at Tampa Theatre. I'd heard there would be dancers and I didn't know how that was going to work, but they definitely contributed to the overall presentation. This was a show I'd go see over and over again if I had the opportunity.
Since blogs are an exercise in self indulgence and I didn't get to see Naive Melody live, here's a performance of it from 2004. Enjoy!

Meet one of my office mates

This is Brody. He's named after Chief Brody, the protagonist in "Jaws". Or is he the antagonist? I guess that depends on whether you see it as a movie about people trying to save themselves from a killer shark or a movie about a shark getting hassled for just doing his thing.
Brody was abandoned and has been adopted by some of the people I work with. He's a betta, or Siamese fighting fish, specifically what is known as an orange dalmatian. I don't know about any of that stuff except for the fighting part because Brody thinks he's a bad ass. When I get close to his tank and look inside, he comes over to the glass, gets all puffed up and stares right back at me, like he wants to beat the shit out of me. He's got a lot of nerve, when you consider he's the size of a ketchup packet and I wield the power of a god over him; I could unleash Armageddon on his little universe by simply dropping an Alka-Seltzer tablet in there. I would never do that, though, even if I didn't respect, and kind of admire, his defiance, which I do. You go, little man. Stand up to anybody who threatens you, your two plastic plants and your colored pebbles and I'll keep doing my part to make sure you get fed every day and fresh, clean water once a week. You cocky little bastard.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Google & the iPhone are conspiring to extinguish the flame of wonderment

"Well, here we are alone on this tropical beach. A warm salt breeze, the gentle lapping of the surf. And just look at that magnificent full moon above! Darling, do you suppose it's possible that two lovers such as us are strolling along the Seine in Paris, holding hands and gazing upon this very same glorious moon at this very same moment in time?"

"Hold on a sec...(*BEEP*BOOP*BOOP*BEEP*BOOP*) Nope."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Book review: “Historic Photos of Tampa”

(Full disclosure regarding this review follows at the end)

One of the most disappointing aspects of a public school education is how damn boring history class is. What should be the best course in school, full of wild personalities, conflict, intrigue, outrageous acts and all kinds of other drama, is boiled down to a monotonous recitation of names and dates with seemingly no relevance to the world today and how it came to be, making it the worst. If we had spent any time at all learning anything about Andrew Jackson other than the fact that he was the seventh president of the United States, history would have been my favorite class. Instead, like most kids, I hated it. Now that I'm out of school and living a life where I don't get penalized for failing to memorize dates (not counting birthdays and anniversaries, of course), I love learning about history.

"Historic Photos of Tampa" with text and captions by Ralph Brower is 206 pages of full size black and white photos from the Burgett Brothers Photographic Archives that chronicles the development of the city from 1880 through the middle of the 20th century.
What's always most entertaining about looking at historic photos (aside from the clothing and the strange, rigid get the impression that in the old days, everybody spent a lot of time wearing hats, standing very still, clutching the lapels of their suit coats and looking at something really interesting slightly over there) is comparing the now and then. Looking at the University of Tampa campus now it's almost impossible to imagine just how spectacular the grounds were when it was the Tampa Bay Hotel. Much of what's featured in the pictures here still exists today but there are other scenes that bear no resemblance to Tampa today, even in some of the later photos. Such as the view of the Tampa "skyline" taken from Phillips Field in 1967.
Mr. Brower helps to enhance the photos with context, perspective and of course, history. The people after whom Tampa area landmarks like Brorein Street, Peter O. Knight Airport and the Gandy bridge are named are illustrated here. Obviously, this was a true labor of love and Mr. Brower spent a great deal of time and effort on his research. Unfortunately, a small handful of typos scattered throughout are jarringly distracting. It's a shame that the editor didn't pay as much attention to detail as the writer.
But overall, this is an entertaining and informative book that I would recommend to anyone who has an interest in history in general and Tampa history in particular. It's published by Turner Publishing and is available for sale at

I received an email invitation from someone at Turner Publishing to review this book. Here's what the email said:
Good afternoon!

First off, I promise I’m not spam. I’m with Turner Publishing and we have a book titled “Historic Photos of Tampa” that we were hoping might interest you. I’m going around to all the bloggers asking if they’d like to receive a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a possible review on their blog. This book is a 10x10 gift book
showing a pictorial narrative of Tampa through beautiful photos pulled from
archives (some have never before been viewed). If you are interested, please
email me with your address and I’ll have one shipped out to you right away.
If you have any questions, you can visit our website at or give me a call at the number listed below. We'd appreciate any feedback given and would love the opportunity to work with you! I appreciate the time you've given my email and hope to hear from you soon!

Best regards,

I love books, especially so-called coffee table books. It's really the only reason I own a coffee table. And as mentioned in the review, I'm kind of into history now. So I saw this as a chance to get a free book!
I've never reviewed anything before and I wondered if receiving free merchandise for doing so was ethical. I mentioned these concerns to another writer before I agreed to do it. She told me that complaining about stuff actually is a form of review. I asked her what she was trying to say and she replied that I complain about all kinds of things. And I said yeah, but it's kind of cute and endearing, right? She sighed heavily and said sure, if I say so, which I do. She then asked if I planned on being totally honest and I said yes, absolutely, if the book sucks, I will say so (and in my opinion, it doesn't, so I didn't). She then mentioned that professional critics don't pay for the movies, CDs, concerts, restaurants and books that they review so she thought I was in the clear. I retorted that I'm pretty sure that at least in the case of restaurants, somebody is paying for it. She wasn't sure and said that maybe I should either send the book back when I was done or offer some sort of statement of full disclosure.

So, I'm keeping the book.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Zoo blues

Here in Tampa, long the minor league feeder system for the Jerry Springer Show (I'm not sure that show is even still on the air, but I'll bet many of our teachers are still willing to have sex with their students, just in case), we have proven once again that our ability to demonstrate misbehavior has no discernible limit.
Need proof? How about the fact that our zoo is currently embroiled in controversy. That's right, the zoo. A place you probably associate with childhood memories of school field trips, adorable, exotic animals and cotton candy, where you might think the most outrageous thing you could possibly encounter is monkeys doin' it, is knee-deep in a sizable scandal.
Lowry Park Zoo president Lex Salisbury, apparently under the belief that the zoo is a kind of Netflix with critters, authorized over 200 transactions (sales, trades and loans) of animals between the zoo and his private animal park in Lakeland, Safari Wild. The problem is, as a taxpayer-supported facility, those animals are assets that belong to the City of Tampa. How would you like to be the city worker who has to do yearly inventory? "Can you, uh, make the Red-legged Honeycreepers sit still or something? It's hard to count." Salisbury and collections director Larry Killmar have had their memberships in The Association of Zoos and Aquariums temporarily revoked for "intentionally failing to abide" by the association's policies when they acquired and transferred animals.
The bad news for the zoo itself, including all the dedicated employees who weren't treating real, live tigers like baseball cards of Detroit Tigers, is that the organization has also suspended Lowry Park's membership, pending a series of procedural reviews and audits.
The good news is that none of this should affect the day-to-day operation of the zoo itself, including animal care or park operations.
It's just unfortunate..and unnecessary...when the poor judgment of individuals puts the reputation of an otherwise well-respected organization at risk. Especially something like the zoo. We're sort of resigned to the fact that our elected officials, corporate honchos, bankers and sports owners are going to act like Veruca Salt leading an armed raid on Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Is it too much to ask that the selfish d-bags keep their grubby little 'beaters off of things like the friggin' zoo?

The Ducks Who Run

Ever wonder what goes through the ducks' minds when they realize you aren't chasing them?

"Hey, I think we're safe. He's not following us anymore."
"That's a relief. We've managed to escape certain death yet again."
"You know, I'm not sure he was ever following us at all. It looks like he's just going to the mailbox. I think he just happened to be walking in our general direction coincidentally"
"Well, you can't be too careful. Lots of people shoot and eat us."
"I know, but..."
"But what?"
"It's just that we've lived in this apartment complex for years and we've never been shot at. Not even once."
"So what are you saying? We should just completely let our guard down?"
"Well, no. I'm just thinking it's a shame that we automatically react so drastically. I mean, who's to say that guy isn't cool? We didn't even give him a chance."
"I guess you have a point. Geez, now I feel kind of bad."
"Me too. But what's worse is there's no telling how many potentially great relationships with people we've missed out on because we flee every time they approach."
"That's true. I hadn't thought of that before. We'll never know, but some of them might even have been willing to share some good ideas and help us solve some of the many problems that have plagued the duck community for years."
"Or might have had some scraps of bread to give us."
"God DAMN it, you're right! I totally did not even consider that possibility!"

"Why do we do this, running in fear every time somebody who doesn't look like us approaches?"
"Perceiving every encounter with a stranger as a threat to our lives."
"It's no way to live."
"Well, I'm done. I refuse to live in a constant state of panic. No more, from this day forward."
"Look out, little girl riding her bike, right behind us."
"Holy crap, it never ends! Let's get the hell out of here."

Friday, December 05, 2008

I call shenanigans

You might have seen this heartwarming video before. It's been around a while:

Yeah. That's terrific.

These guys kick their beloved pet lion out of their apartment, make him live in the woods and upon re-connecting for the first time a year later, they're greeted warmly with hugs and kisses. Meanwhile, my friends can't even be bothered to answer my calls or reply to my emails.
Granted, if I were my friends, I wouldn't call me back either. In fact, I've already ignored two voice mails from myself just this week. I'm hoping I get the hint eventually, give up and leave me alone. Whatever it is I want can't possibly be that important.
The point is, I don't feel that this is fair and therefor, reject its authenticity. In this era of i-this, Google that, Wiki whatever, it should be very easy to prove this whole thing as a hoax. I'm sorry, a story this nice simply can't be true...

Well, shit.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Arianna Huffington says I am not doing this right

I'll be completely honest here; I've heard of Arianna Huffington and I know I'm supposed to know exactly who she is and why she's important but I really don't. That applies to a lot of people whose names I can't think of right now, world leaders and such. I'm pretty sure Arianna Huffington is not one of those. I am aware that in spite of her name she is not a character on a soap opera, married to a wealthy shipping magnate named Oliver Von or Laurence Van while secretly having an affair with a rogue playboy named Lance Mustang.

I do know that she runs a website called The Huffington Post, which is sort of an online newspaper consisting of blog feeds. She was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night discussing the topic of blogging and, well, apparently I'm going about it incorrectly.

  • "Don't overthink. Don't overwrite."

  • "(Blogging is) a first draft of history."

  • "Blogging is not about perfectionism."

  • "Blogging is about intimacy, immediacy and transparency."

Wow. Well, believe it or not, I actually do put a lot of thought into most of what goes up here. I try to take the time to correct my spelling, punctuation and grammar. I certainly don't think I'm chronicling any kind of significant "history" but I will at least do some cursory research on a topic before I publish an opinion on it. I also think I owe it to the people who take time to read this stuff to at least be coherent most of the time. I try to stay away from impulsive, mundane, self-centric observations unless there's some sort of entertainment value in them. Probably less than half of what I sit down to write actually gets posted for the all the reasons listed above.

I'll just add this whole blogging thing to the pile of stuff I do wronglyish.