Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Job update

Well, I've been at my "new" job at the print shop for two months now. I had no idea there would be so much to learn. My boss isn't worried and says it will probably take three years(!) to get up to speed on everything I need to know. That's reassuring, since I still haven't been able to figure out the difference between the various kinds of paper during the same amount of time in which I once learned how to assemble, disassemble and fire semi-automatic weapons, field triage and first aid, chemical weapons, military courtesy, field survival skills, drill and ceremony and how to identify Soviet aircraft and tanks.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The New York Football Giants

Thank God the Superbowl is almost here. That means it will be over soon which means hopefully people will take a break from referring to the Giants as “The New York Football Giants”. For me, this archaic descriptor has become the sports equivalent of “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”. It used to be that ESPN’s Chris Berman would be the only one to use the phrase as a quaint, retro nod to one of the NFL’s oldest franchises. But now every asshole who says the team’s name aloud uses it, rendering it no longer quaint but annoying. You don’t hear people saying the “Utah Basketball Jazz” because it’s unnecessary and most unnecessary things are annoying. Aside from the basketball team, there is no jazz in Utah, just like aside from the football team, there are no Giants in New York.
I know, I know, before they moved to San Francisco, the Giants played baseball in New York too and so there were two teams in the same city sharing the nickname. But you don’t hear anybody saying “The St. Louis Baseball Cardinals” and there were two teams sharing the same name in St. Louis a lot more recently (1988) than in New York (1958). In Chicago, people seem to have been able to figure out the difference between Cubs and Bears without having to resort to “The Chicago Football Bears” and “The Chicago Younger, Smaller, Baseball Bears”, which must frustrate New Yorkers who 50 years after the fact still get constant reminders which game their Giants play.
For the sake of decreasing the sheer volume of things that annoy mankind (and by mankind, I mostly mean me), there should be some sort of rule or law that restricts this phraseology to cases where it is necessary and makes sense. Such as:

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Worst Band I've Ever Been In

When we all decided to form a band, nobody wanted Steve to be in it. Steve’s really not one of us, he just kind of hangs around all the time. But he’s one of those kids whose parents let him do whatever he wants and buy him anything he asks for. You know the type. Anyway, his parents let him have the whole basement of their house. Steve has his bedroom there and there’s a pool table, an air hockey table and even an old antique slot machine his aunt gave him. Steve said if we let him be in the band we could use the basement to rehearse any time we wanted and even keep our instruments there so I figured we could give it a try.

At the very first rehearsal, Steve decided he wanted to be play guitar and be lead singer. I had a big problem with that. After all, I had written most of the songs we were going to be playing so I had naturally figured I would be the one to sing them. Plus, I feel that I’m a pretty good guitarist and Steve didn’t even own a guitar. But as it turned out, once Steve’s dad found out about the band, he’d gone out and spent about $5000 to buy Steve a brand new Gibson DG-335 and an amp. This was more money than what the rest of us had invested in our instruments combined. The rest of the guys said that with a guitar that awesome there was no way we could NOT let him be the lead. I realized I couldn’t mount much of an argument to that and begrudgingly agreed to play drums instead.

Things went along ok for a while, although Steve couldn’t play very well. It was obvious he hadn’t been practicing and it wasn’t like his parents would make him. And he really couldn’t sing at all. He couldn’t even get the lyrics I’d written right, sometimes changing whole verses, which I didn’t even mind since he was making my songs sound so terrible anyway.

One day, we were in the basement taking a break during rehearsal and Steve announced that he wanted to change the name of the band to The Cincinnati Reds. “You have got to be kidding me”, I said. “That’s easily the stupidest name for a band ever.” Steve (naturally) got all defensive. “It is not! The Reds are my favorite team.” “Exactly”, I said. “It’s the name of a baseball team, not a band!” I couldn’t believe I was the only one opposed to this horrible idea but Steve’s mom had made this awesome barbecue chicken pizza for us and everybody was too busy eating to say anything. I turned to Wayne, our bassist for support. Generally, in any band the bass player is going to be the guy with the most common sense. It’s the nature of the instrument, I guess. “Wayne, help me here. I thought we all agreed our name would be The Destroyed, which is a bad ass, subversive thrash metal band name. How the hell can we be a bad ass, subversive thrash metal band calling ourselves the Cincinnati Reds?” Wayne swallowed a bite of pizza and said, “Well, a thrash metal band named after a baseball team from the midwest is kinda subversive. You know, like ironically.” I just rolled my eyes as Wayne leaned forward and helped himself to another slice. Steve yelled, “Reds rule!” and crashed my cymbal with the head of his outrageously expensive guitar, showing no regard whatsoever for the tuners. Unbelievable, but whatever.

The next day I showed up for rehearsal and as I walked up to Steve’s house, it sounded like they had started already…and I could hear somebody playing drums! What kinda crap is this, I wondered as I ran downstairs. Sure enough, there they all were, playing one of my songs with some other guy as the damn drummer. “Dude!” I yelled to everybody. The music stopped and nobody said anything. So I asked, “What the hell is going on?” Steve piped up and said, “The Cincinnati Reds have a new drummer: meet Ken Griffey Jr.!” Sure as shit, Ken Griffey Jr. was sitting there in Steve’s basement, playing my drums. Wayne stared at the floor, shuffled his feet and mumbled something about Steve’s dad knowing some guy who knew some other guy and Ken was actually a really good drummer and whatever, whatever. “So what now?” I asked. “I’m out of the band or what?” Everybody said “no, no, not at all, you’re still in if you want to be”. Before I could ask in what capacity, Steve tossed me a tambourine. A tambourine? A girl’s instrument! It’s not even an instrument. It’s a noisemaker! I caught it and stood there a second, fuming. But I eventually walked over to them, glaring at Ken Griffey, Jr. who just glared right back at me.

We launched into the song and I’m banging on the tambourine, feeling like a total tool when Steve all of a sudden cuts everybody off and says, “I’m bored. Let’s go outside and play baseball.” They all dropped their instruments and went out into the 42,941 seat ballpark that Steve’s dad had built in their backyard. They told me I could play with them (right field) if I wanted to but by that point I’d totally had enough.

I’m not bitter or anything but I’m glad those assholes finished fifth in the NL Central last year.

Too much, too soon

I'm just wondering, how much do you have to hate gay people to find humor in the untimely death of a young actor who played one in a movie?
I'm guessing we'll find out as John Gibson becomes the latest contestant in the "Oops! Now I am very, very sorry" sweepstakes, the only game show where just about everybody cashes in except for the person playing it.
On a somewhat related note, I'm also wondering why things that happen to Heath Ledger, Owen Wilson, Brad Renfro are (for the most part) handled with sensitivity and respect while the lives of Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Amy Winehouse are treated with all the dignity of recurring sketches on Saturday Night Live.
I don't have any answers. Like I said, I was just wondering.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I am a artist!

Because sometimes I have to remind everyone that I'm like a combination of Rembrandt, Picasso and Keith Haring when it comes to MS paint...
How do you know when you need to tell Houston you have a problem? When even the moon is horrifed.

Yes, even the Premium Crispy Chicken Ranch BLT Sandwich!

What? This is an anorexic, druid hockey goalie, pitching in to help find a neighbor's pet. What did you think was happening here, sicko?

Apparently, race is a touchy issue in avian society too. Thanks, Chris!

I know what you're thinking: "Which one should I use for my desktop wallpaper and/or My Space page?!?". Obviously the answer is "All of them"! You're welcome.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Tarnished Fox

There are generally three things that every man thinks he can do better than any other man:
  1. Build a fire
  2. Manage a baseball team
  3. Manage a bar and/or restaurant

The existence of terrible establishments like The Silver Fox here in Tampa helps to justify #3's placement on that list. To call the place a shithole is an insult to fecal matter and hollow places in solid masses everywhere. It may seem like I'm just posting this because I enjoy complaining, which is true, but I'm honestly trying to provide a public service here. I did not have the benefit of a warning like this when I visited Friday night so I'm publishing my tale of woe so no one else has to relive it. I talked to other bitterly disappointed patrons who had gone there because previously the place had been known as the Blue Moon Saloon which was apparently pretty great. However, much like when your dearly departed Peepaw comes unexpectedly crashing through your living room window as an undead, brain-eating zombie, sometimes dead things should just stay dead. Seriously, unless you truly enjoy bad service, bad food, bad atmosphere and bad booze (did you ever imagine there even was such a thing?) you'll want to avoid this place at all costs. Here's a partial list of godawful things I can recall. I'm sure there are more but thankfully my brain has done me a favor by destroying parts of itself in order to erase those memories forever.

  • Had to ask the bartender to turn off the horrendous fluorescent lighting. The kind of lighting hat would have been suitable for a hardware store or indoor batting cages, but not a bar.
  • The place is billed as a "sports bar". There are two kinds of sports bars, those that cater to creating an atmosphere for fans to enjoy watching sports and those that serve booze and have at least one television. Guess which category this place falls into?
  • Asking the owner/manager about all the people smoking within sight of the multiple no-smoking signs posted, he replied "Well, we have a deal; if I get busted, they have to pay the fine." He then said "I'll make sure no smoke comes over here". I guess he planned to accomplish this through the power of prayer, because other than that he did absolutely nothing.
  • There were a couple of grease-stained, one-sided photocopied menus with a small handful of food items on it, half of which according to the waitress were not even available. There was actually a philosophical debate at one point over the existence of hamburgers.
  • No limes for Coronas. Lemons were offered instead. Unsuitable substitutions would become a prevailing theme as you will see.
  • PS: The lemons looked like they were rotten.
  • Nachos were ordered. The waitress said there was no ground beef, which I think was just to buttress her argument that hamburgers were strictly creatures of ancient mythology.
  • Lemon Drop shots were ordered. Typically, for a Lemon Drop you need vodka, lemon (which we had already established were available) and sugar. What showed up was vodka, (rotten) lemon and Sweet & Low. At this point, I wanted to order more stuff just to see what would show up at the table: "I know you ordered a ham and cheese sandwich with a side of fries but I decided to bring you this key chain flashlight and a picture I drew of a sea monster instead. Enjoy!".
  • It took about a half hour, no exaggeration, to cash out when we'd finally had enough and decided to leave. This was because seemingly random amounts were charged to all kinds of credit cards (we had made the critical mistake of thinking we would be allowed the autonomy of paying separately). Even though this was eventually straightened out, it still resulted in strange amounts of money being put on hold on our credit card accounts. When informed of this, the owner/manager thoughtfully replied "that won't happen". Upon further discussion, he begrudgingly offered that "it might".
  • My original assessment, which I stand by, is that it looks like the place was closed for a while and when these people re-opened it, they just took whatever had been lying around before and put it to work; menus, tables, chairs, lights, televisions, food...

So in conclusion, please, just stay away from this dump. It shouldn't be that difficult; I'd guess they're only going to be around for a month or so anyway.

The next blockbuster? Yep!

Ok, it isn't real. But here's the thing; if it were real and featured big name stars in it (Will Smith? Nick Cage?), people would pay money to see it. Aw, who am I kidding? I'd pay money to see it.

Thanks to Chris L for finding this.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A short conversation about dreams

"Hey, I'm pretty upset about what you wrote in my going away card."

"What, that I hope all of your dreams come true?"

"Yeah, that. Thanks. Thanks a lot. You jerk."

"You have got to be kidding me. How could that possibly upset you?"

"Dreams aren't supposed to come true. Dreams are unattainable, impossible things you can only wish and hope for. They're what keep us going in life, striving ever onward. That's why they're dreams, stupid. If they came true, they'd just be things that happen, like every other tedious, boring thing in life. Don't you understand? The second the impossible happens, it ceases being impossible, and therefor, it becomes just another common occurrence, like every other damn dull, mundane circumstance."

"So wait a minute. If you dreamt all your life of one day seeing a real, live unicorn and all of a sudden, one just appeared in front of you..."

"I'd say, 'oh great, a stupid horse with a horn on it's head. I guess they'll be all over the place now. Who's going to clean up after them? Me probably'."

"Gee, I never thought of it that way before but it kind of makes sense. I suppose it would have been better if I had written 'I hope none of your dreams ever come true' instead."

"Well, now you're just being mean."

Sunday, January 06, 2008

I want one!

I have always wanted to own a Jeep, never more than I do now...
Of course, I was thinking something more rugged and kick-ass, like the
old Army jeep. But if there's even a remote possibility of what happens in that commercial happening to me, I'll take it! Do you realize if this happened to me, I would be happier than I've ever been in my whole life. Yes, happier even than I would have been that time I thought fireworks might shoot down a low-flying rescue chopper over Sarasota Bay that one 4th of July. Who doesn't dream of cruising around with a posse of singing animals? And one of them is a wolf! Think about it; ease the sunroof open, crank the cheesy 70's pop up and cut loose with some serious five-part harmonizing. As you drive along, you catch the curious eyes of other motorists, stressed out and all caught up in their tedious 9-to-5 existence. You wonder if they have any idea what real living is but the knowing smile on the face of your squirrel pal riding shotgun tells you that's their problem, man. After a while, you get hungry and pull over at a roadside diner to get a bite. The animals wonder if it's cool if they come in with you and the reproachful glares from the people you see inside through the window make you pause a second and think about it. But then you say "Hell yeah, you can come in. And guess what? You can have anything you want. It's on me". Because these aren't your pets, for chrissakes. They're your buddies! And that's what buddies do for each other. Wolfie would probably like a nice ham steak, squirrel would go for a peanut butter sandwich and the birds, I don't know, pancakes maybe. Whatever. The food arrives and is delicious. Everyone is so charmed by you and your ani-pals that their initial trepidation melts away. Eventually they're asking you all to stay and sing along to some old Charlie Pride records on the diner's jukebox. And you do, for a little while. But then you excuse yourself cordially, telling them the open road is calling. They understand and wish you well on your future travels. You, a wolf, a squirrel, two birds and your Jeep.

New stuff

Three quick things...
  1. I added some new links over there to the right. I included Denise and Gadzooks because in spite of the remarkably poor judgement they exhibit by reading this blog on a regular basis, they inexplicably don't hate me. Cracked is there because it is a very funny site and I hold only a minimal grudge against them for screwing me out of a subscription when they were publishing a magazine. And Stuck In the 80's is there because, at least to some degree, I am and so are you, whether you want to admit it or not.
  2. I am now actively occupying an apathetic presence on Facebook as well as MySpace. I don't do very much with either one of them but I like Facebook better if for no other reason than it doesn't look so tacky that it would make an airbrush artist at the state fair blanch. I've looked around a little and have yet to see a single picture of a diamond encrusted teddy bear holding a bouquet of roses asking "Won't you (sniffle, whimper, sob, whine) be my friend?" while a James Blunt song plays in the background.
  3. I was off line for a couple of days but I got a new computer this weekend. My old ("old" in terms of computers and perishable food items only) died and I had to get a replacement. Unless you are highly savvy when it comes to technical matters, shopping for computers is the worst. Worse even than buying a new car. You're expected to compare items that all look alike, yet are completely different, based solely on criteria that's presented like this: Intel® Core™2 Quad desktop processor Q6600; 2GB memory; DL DVD±RW/CD-RW drive; 500GB hard drive; Windows Vista Home Premium versus Intel® Core™2 Duo desktop processor E4500; 3GB DDR2 memory; DL DVD±RW/CD-RW drive; 500GB hard drive; Windows Vista Home Premium with TV tuner. Which one is better? Hell if I know; they're exactly the same price on Best Buy's web site. Look, why can't they just list the features I might actually be interested in, like which one blocks friend requests from people with hideous MySpace pages?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Lies lies lies!

Lying is nothing new to us humans. Remember all those guys claiming to be Spartacus? Well, all except one of them was lying. However, in recent years we've seemed to embrace outright dishonesty with a renewed fervor. OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson and Larry Craig maintain their innocence in spite of mountains of evidence and mountain ranges of public opinion to the contrary. Well, why not? At this point, there's literally nothing to be gained from admitting otherwise. In a way, such commitment is almost admirable. That way being a very sad and sick way. Of course, 2008 is an election year and most of us are already resigned to the fact that we're going to be spoon fed a heapin' helping of lies between now and November. But lying isn't just for celebrities and politicians. Here are a couple of heartwarming stories that have broken over the last couple of days:
  • A woman in Texas made up a story about her daughter's father being killed in Iraq so she could win tickets to a Hannah Montana concert. She went on the Today show yesterday to apologize but in the tradition of all great liars, pulled up just short of actually owning it. When asked what she told the 6-year-old after she got busted, she said "I told my daughter the truth. I told her we wrote an essay and they said it was a lie." I'm guessing she didn't go on to explain that "they" said that because it was. If liars have a toolbox, blaming "them" would be the 24-piece socket wrench set. Well, I guess offering up some sort of one possible partial version of the truth is better than nothing.
  • Locally this week, we've been treated to the unraveling of the Ben Moffitt saga. Moffitt, a linebacker for USF who is married with two children, has been heralded for being a devoted family man working towards a college degree while playing football at a stellar level. Well, one out of three ain't bad. As it turns out, Ben left his wife and kids about two months ago and the estranged Mrs. Moffitt now claims she actually took his online classes, wrote his papers and took his tests for him. She was served with divorce papers four days after USF's season, and Moffitt's college career, concluded with a 56-21 loss to Oregon in the Sun Bowl.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I hear things

Through no fault of my own, I find myself listening to a lot of people's business that's none of my business. I don't consider myself an eavesdropper. I'd like to think...I hope anyway...that it's just that I'm quiet (sometimes) and I pay attention to my surroundings. Hmm. Maybe that does make me an eavesdropper. Anyway, here are two recent examples:

  • Yesterday, I was minding my business and eating lunch at Sweet Tomatoes. At the table next to me, two guys, a man and his supervisor, were reviewing job performance. It was apparent that the evaluation was not good and the conversation started steering towards "making a necessary change". Holy crap, this guy is getting fired. At Sweet Tomatoes! Like dying, getting fired is something you don't have a lot of control over when it comes to where and when. However, if polled I believe most people, if presented a choice of where they were to be fired, would choose "not at Sweet Tomatoes". Interestingly enough, those same people, if presented a choice of where and when they would die, would choose "nowhere" and "never". Go figure.
  • Tonight, while eating dinner at Origami Sushi, a woman watching tv kept saying "Oh my God!" over and over and over. I'm not exaggerating, she must have said it at least a dozen times. It was like she was witnessing the Kennedy assassination for the first time. It was none of my business, but I had to turn around and see what she was looking at it. What if it was footage of an alien invasion? I'd need to go out to my car and get a screwdriver or something to use as a weapon. But it turns out it was highlights of today's Outback Bowl. I thought that was odd. The game was virtually meaningless, except to the people who went to go see it. And since the stadium was literally walking distance from this restaurant and was not sold out, if she was that into it, she could have gone. But it all made sense when she told her companion, "I was so hoping Tennessee won so he'll be happy!" Seriously, honey? You're really that excited about the result of a virtually meaningless sporting event pleasing some guy who isn't even here with you right now? Wow.

How do I know all this stuff? Like I said, I hear things.

One sporting event we'll never host

Unless Al Gore's inconvenient forecast is overly optimistic, in spite of the best efforts of Rob Higgins and Paul Catoe, Tampa Bay will never host the NHL's Winter Classic. If you're not familiar with what that is, it's a regular season game between two National Hockey League teams...played outdoors. Not an exhibition, but an actual game whose results count in the standings. The NHL hopes to make this a regular, if not annual, occurence. Previously, the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers played an outdoor game four years ago. And Michigan and Michigan State played outdoors in 2001. This year's Classic featured the Pittsburgh Penguins versus the Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills. The game drew an NHL record crowd of 71,217 who sat through snow and temperatures in the 20s to see the Penguins win 2-1 in a shootout. While debate continues over whether or not Tampa is a hockey town, uh, it gets cold here (although up north friends and relatives will vehemently disagree) but it ain't gonna get...or more importantly, stay...that cold any time soon.

In spite of the poor playing conditions (weather necessitated near-constant ice maintenance), the game was a lot of fun to watch, with all that snow and players like Ryan Miller and his homemade toque getting into the spirit of it:

So I guess we'll just have to accept that our Lightning are forever house-bound when it comes to home games and make do with all the Superbowls, Final Fours, college football bowl games and (at least hypothetically possible) World Series to satisfy our appetites when it comes to high profile sporting events.