Monday, March 31, 2008

Ah, fine dining and sparkling repartee!

I'm either going to have to start giving these their own label or start wearing an iPod with headphones when I eat out. Maybe I'm being followed by camera crews. At any rate, here is yet another overheard restaurant conversation, this time at a nearby Chinese restaurant. I swear to God that everything you're about to read is 100% true and actually happened. The dialogue is as close to verbatim as I could get without actually taping it (I took notes on index cards, which I carry with me at all times because of situations just like this).

Let's meet our cast first:
DAD - Wears a mechanic's shirt and has a jet-black pompadour that sticks out over his forehead like a diving board. Everywhere he goes, DAD's hair arrives five minutes before he does.
MOM - Easily 400 pounds, she is totally engrossd in watching a movie on a portable DVD player. Oddly, she is the only person at the table who doesn't eat anything the whole time.
AUNT (?) - She's related somehow but I can't tell how because she kinda looks like both DAD and MOM.
DAUGHTER - She has brown hair.
SON-IN-LAW - He has a shaved head.
BABY - Belongs to DAUGHTER and SON-IN-LAW.
EVERYBODY - Speaks with the thickest, stereotypical New Yawk accents heard in captivity since "All In The Family" went off the air.

Early on...
DAD - You know what I oughta do? I oughta give give him a fresh one (makes backhand slap motion). Just like that.
AUNT - Ya see? That's ya problem. Always looking for a fight. Ya ya own worst enemy.
DAD - Ahhh, I'm not talkin' about a fight. I'm talkin' about givin' him a fresh one (makes backhand slap motion again). C'mere this...
AUNT - G'head! Hit ya own daughter in public, ya psycho!
DAD - ...give him a fresh one. Right across the eye! Just like that!
MOM - (continues watching movie)

A little later
DAD - I'm gonna burn it. When I get home, I'll just burn it.
SON-IN-LAW - Ya can't burn it.
DAD - Whaddya talkin' about? In the backyard, I'll take a barrel, I'll make a fire and I'll burn it and we'll be done wit' it.
DAUGHTER - Dad, ya can't burn things in the back yard.
DAD - I burn things all the time! Gimme one good reason why I can't just burn it.
DAUGHTER - Ya not allowed. It's illegal. They don't do that here.
DAD - It's illegal?? To burn trash in my own backyard is illegal?
DAUGHTER - Yeah. You can get a fine.
DAD - These people are savages!
MOM - (continues watching movie)

Still later...
MOM - (is continuing to watch the movie)
DAD - Ooh! Ooh! This is a good part! Watch this, everybody! Watch this!
SON-IN-LAW - I like this part!
DAD - Turn it around! Turn it...c'mon they can see it!
MOM - They're not even watching it!
DAD - 'Cause they can't see it! Now turn it...turn...c'mon...
AUNT & DAUGHTER - (are talking to each other, ignoring the movie)
DAD - Aww, they missed it! Ya missed it 'cuz ya too busy yappin', you two! Now we gotta rewind it. Rewind it!
MOM - I don't wanna rewind it! Don't touch it!
AUNT - I don't even care. We saw that movie already, like eight times.
DAD - (to nobody in particular) Ya know what? I oughta give ya a fresh one, ya know that? A fresh one! (makes backhand slap motion)
SON-IN-LAW - Come on, rewind it!
MOM - (fairly panicked) No! Don't!! Aww, look ya stopped it!! Now I gotta start all over again!
DAUGHTER - Ma, ya don't hafta start all over. Just hit "resume". Remember? I showed ya.
MOM - Forget it. I'm turning it off.
SON-IN-LAW - Aww, don't turn it off!
DAD - Fresh one. The whole lotta ya. I oughta give ya each a fresh one. Fresh one, fresh one, fresh one, fresh one (makes four accompanying backhand slap motions). Just like that.
MOM - (turns DVD player back on)

Some time a bit later, a waitress of Asian descent comes over to the table and plays with the BABY...
MOM - Aww, lookit! Lookit how cute!
DAUGHTER - He's got a new friend! (to BABY) Ya playin' wit' ya new friend? Hah? Are ya playin' wit' ya new friend?
DAD - Yeah, right, his "new friend". What's his new friend's name? Is it Ching Chang Chong or is it Chong Ching Chang?
SON-IN-LAW - Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!
DAD -Whaaaat?! If somebody's ya friend, ya oughta learn how to pronounce their name properly, that's all I'm sayin'!

Towards the end, a couple of Tampa cops enter to eat dinner and SON-IN-LAW leaves abruptly...
DAD - Where's he goin? Hey, where ya goin'? Where's he goin'?
DAUGHTER - (calls SON-IN-LAW on cell phone)
DAD - Who is he? Now he's Joey Bagel or somethin'?
DAUGHTER - (on cell phone) Brandon, what are you doing?....Whaddya talking about?
DAD - Hey, Joey Bagel! Come back inside, Mr. Big Time. Ya Kung Poo Poo is gettin' cold!
DAUGHTER - (on cell phone) Ya bein' stupid. Ya know that, right? Ya gonna run and hide every single time you see a cop? What kinda sense does that make? There's a lotta cops in the world, ya know!
DAD - C'mon. Tell him I said to come inside. Did ya tell him? Tell him I said to come inside. Come inside already, Joey Bagel Big Time!
DAUGHTER - (on cell phone) Brandon, ya record was expunged! Do you understand? It's like ya never even did nuthin'! Ya got nuthin' to worry about. C'mon!! (to everybody else at the table) He doesn't know what 'expunged' means.
DAD - That kid. He needs a fresh one, like this (makes backhand slap motion yet again) I oughta give him a fresh one!


Sunday, March 30, 2008

2nd rehearsal

I only had one rehearsal last week and I don't have one at all this upcoming week, so there's not a lot of news. I am "off book" already, meaning I've memorized all my lines and am practicing an Oklahoma drawl befitting my character's background as a lawyer for a Tulsa-based oil company (awwwl cump'neh).

Overall, it seems like things are going along pretty well at this point. One thing that's happening, and it's a little early in the process for this, is some people are cracking up hysterically when they make mistakes. You see that all the time. It's not Broadway, we're all there to have fun and mistakes can be funny. But no matter what, you can count on having at least one person in the cast who thinks every mispronunciation or dropped line is a chance to turn the whole thing into this:
This relegates everybody else to feeling like a dick if they suggest that 'ha-ha, yeah, that was cute but can we move on please?'. And since (usually) nobody wants to feel like a dick, nobody says anything and a lot of time gets wasted. It doesn't matter that much to me; I'm there one day a week if at all. It's just one of those things that you can count on happening when you do a show.

Since I don't have much else to report, here are some photos from the experience so far.

This is the "theatre". If it looks like a Baptist church, that's because it is. Or was, from when it was built in 1923 until 1994. Now it's known as The Plant City Cornerstone Center. It's really a pretty awesome building. Stained glass windows, a huge pipe organ, pews and on the stage itself is a dunking booth or whatever it's called for baptising folks. Kinda looks like a hot tub.

It also has a balcony that wraps around the three sides facing the stage. It reminds me of the courthouse in "To Kill A Mockingbird".

This is Linda's Crab Shack, my favorite restaurant in downtown Plant City. It's a no-nonsense seafood-and-beer joint that doubles as the local bus station (check out the sign to the left). It's less than a block from The Cornerstone which is nice because I'm pathologically obsessive-compulsive about being on time, which usually means that I'm almost always obnoxiously early every time I go some place. That means that when I get to Plant City 45 minutes to an hour earlier than necessary, I have a place to hang out and relax before rehearsal or the show starts. Although, since I'm now living like a monk and avoiding fried foods and not drinking, it's something of a challenge to find something on the menu.

I discovered Linda's the last time I did a show in Plant City (Neil Simon's "Fools" in 2004) and I was glad to see it hadn't changed. I have a feeling I needn't have worried, though. When you've got a formula that works as well as seafood/bus station fusion cuisine, you don't screw around with it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

March Madness: Everybody plays!

Basketball is a distant fourth on my list of favorite sports, behind football which is itself a distant third behind baseball and hockey. And NBA basketball might as well not even exist as far as I'm concerned. But I don't think it's reasonably possible to argue that there is a better championship in sports than the NCAA men's basketball tournament. 65 teams enter the tournament and the championship game between the final two teams is almost always a dramatic match-up that comes down to the last few seconds to be decided.
I am, of course, in an office pool. Everybody gets involved with office pools now. Last year, I had a chance of winning the office pool and pocketing over $1000, if only Ohio State had beaten Florida and someone who loves, loves me...I'm talking the big L word here, a serious, sincere, deeply-felt personal bond...and generally doesn't care about sports at all actually rooted against me. That's how much mass appeal the tournament has.
Of course, it should be pointed out that last year's championship game was the rare exception that was not exciting at all. Naturally.
One nice thing about the tournament is that you get to learn all kinds of fun facts about the participating schools. For instance, I learned this past weekend that Western Kentucky University's nickname is the Hilltoppers because that's where the school is located, on top of a hill. Applying that logic to the University of South Florida, they could very well be known as the Next To The Malls. Of course, applying logic to a university in west central Florida that calls itself South Florida...well, there's that.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Artistry of March Madness

Back in the good ol' days, there was only one company (Topps) producing baseball cards. When a player changed teams and they didn't have time to get a new photo of him in his new uniform, they didn't have the benefit of Photoshop so they would call in someone to do some airbrush alterations. That's right, before they were relegated to painting novelty license plates at the state fair, the airbrush artist was actually an integral part of the baseball card production process. Right now over at The Baseball Card Blog, some of their, are on display in a tournament of awesomeness. You really should go there and check out some of the most breathtakingly beautiful (and by "breathtakingly beautiful" I mean "godawfully hideous") baseball cards of all time. Even if you don't care about baseball cards (or sports at all, for that matter) I think you'll find something to appreciate.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

1st rehearsal

Well, our first official rehearsal was Tuesday night and what looked like it was going to be an unusual experience is already taking a turn for the downright surreal. Read the following COMPLETELY TRUE statements and see if you agree:
  • Two male roles were not cast at auditions.
  • There are two actors playing Granny. I don't know whether they're alternating scenes, acts, performances or what. It hasn't been explained to the group.
  • One of those two actors is a male (see first bullet point).

Ok, maybe that's not as surreal as the Lightning being up 4-1 with 11 minutes to play before eventually losing 7-4 but still.

I know I've done nothing but complain so far which makes it sound like I'm miserable doing this, but I'm honestly not. I'm bemused and intrigued to see how this all shakes out.

On a positive note, it looks like director plans to be creative in the use of space which should be fun for actors and audience. The theatre itself is pretty interesting. I'll write about it after the next rehearsal I attend, which will be some time next week.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Inspired by the accomplishments of others, I've finally decided to take a semi-serious shot at dropping some weight ("Hey, I thought he was already divorced. Hi-yo!!"). I tried Slim-Fast once but didn't really see any results. Possibly because I would add heaping spoonfuls of Nestle's Quik to thicken it up, pour it over a gallon of chocolate chip ice cream and then eat it with a garden trowel. In hindsight, I realize now my level of commitment was probably not where it needed to be.
I'm trying it again because I've finally come to the conclusion that I can no longer eat like a kid all the time. I'm ok with that because I'm childish enough in other aspects of my life to more than compensate. Plus, I think the way the Slim-Fast plan is set up is perfect for my lazy, convenience-and-desire-for-instant-gratification driven lifestyle: Slim-Fast for breakfast and lunch and a "reasonable" dinner. Perfect! Even I have enough discipline to stick with that. So if it works at all, I should reap some benefits.
The timing was perfect for this, being as the holiday and fried cheese (state fair, strawberry festival) seasons are both over and my fridge was empty. So last night I went to the grocery store and loaded up on Slim Fast, skim milk and some "reasonable" menu items (I'm allowing myself to define "reasonable" as "items that are not fundamentally breading, gravy or bleu cheese dressing-based in nature") as well as bananas, grapes and carrots to snack on.
So anyway, we'll see how that goes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The read thru

Tonight was the first official step towards putting on the show, the initial read-thru. It's exactly what it sounds like; the cast and director get together and read the script right out of the book. Nobody's really trying to act, there's no timing or even chemistry. A couple of people are fooling around with accents and inflections but it's really more of a bonding experience than anything else. It's the first opportunity for everyone to see each other in one room and, let's be honest, size each other up: 'This guy is probably going to be cool, this guy might be a pain in the ass and, ooh, she's kinda cute, etc.' I don't know anybody in the cast but they all seem to know each other. That's to be expected. It's still to be determined what shakes out but I have a feeling I will remain Mr. Outside Guy to a large extent. When not completely comfortable around people I don't know, I can tend to be a little...distant. We'll see.
Tonight was my first opportunity to read the whole script and I'll be perfectly honest, I'm not in the greatest mood. I knew BREWESTER wasn't a huge role but I didn't realize that I'll only be in ONE SCENE. Not only that, but the first scene!! After that, I'm done for the night, folks. I'm pretty sure if I had been fully aware of that fact I probably would have politely opted out. That's the bad news. The good news is I'll only have to drive out to Plant City once a week or so instead of three or four times. And at least I'm getting paid. Oh wait a minute, no, I'm not. Somewhat helping my crappy mood is that the part of me that isn't pissed off is quite amused by the fact that anybody, including me, would be disappointed about not having a bigger role in "The Beverly Hillbillies" fer cryin' out loud. The stage direction that says "BREWSTER exits L", should say "BREWSTER exits L, goes backstage puts his iPod on and chills for an hour and a half" because that's what I'm going to do. There are worse ways to spend an evening, I suppose. For instance, instead of driving out to Plant City tonight and reading a small handful of lines before staring at the wall for an hour I could have hung out with my ne'er do well friends and over-imbibed in green beer. Hey, thanks community theatre!! Maybe on show nights, I'll just do my part, change clothes and go out in the audience. Maybe I'll just do my part, change clothes and go out and have some beers! Hey, I'm feeling better and better about this!
Besides, Alec Baldwin did ok with only being in the first scene of "Glengarry Glen Ross".

Maybe that's how I should handle this. I wonder if they have a set of these in the prop closet.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I knew it!

What's important to note here is that I, Clark Brooks, knew it all along. UCSB is just backing me up. It doesn't matter that I've never offered evidence of my own or even made that declaration aloud before, I'm the first guy who knew this was a bunch of baloney.
In case you're wondering, it's perfectly ok to make a claim like this without substantiating it, as proven by Chick-Fil-A's assertion that they invented the chicken sandwich. Chick-Fil-A has only been around since 1946 and it's virtually impossible to believe that nobody ever considered putting a piece of chicken between two pieces of bread prior to that. In fact, there are persistent rumors that at least ten years prior to Chick-Fil-A's inception that the Nazis had teams of chefs running around the world looking for all sorts of poultry sandwich artifacts. Word was that Hitler had gone nuts on the subject. He was crazy. He was obsessed with the chicken sandwich. One could certainly understand Hitler's interest in the subject: the Bible speaks of the chicken sandwich leveling mountains and laying waste to entire regions. An army which carries the chicken sandwich before invincible. DON'T LOOK AT IT, MARIAN!! DON'T LOOK INSIDE THE CHICKEN SANDWICH!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

I hear more things...

As I mentioned before, I frequently find myself hearing things when I'm out and about. I don't consider it eavesdropping; it's honestly not my intent to listen to other people's private business. I guess I just have good ears. I can't help hearing what I hear. And sometimes I hear truly amazing things (to me, anyway) that make me wish I was participating in the conversation and 100 miles away at the same time. Such as tonight, at dinner, when I heard this snippet of dialogue from a nearby table:

"Me and Bobby had two shots of Jack as soon as we got to the funeral home."

Rough day for a couple of undertakers? Honoring a dearly departed drinking buddy? Country music songwriters on a dinner break?
The mind fairly boggles.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Looks like it's on...

As promised, here are the details regarding the situation I hinted about last night. I auditioned for, and was cast in, a community theatre play. Specifically, I'm playing a character named "Brewster" in Plant City Entertainment's (PCE) production of ...wait for it, wait for it... "The Beverly Hillbillies". I actually think that's funnier than any joke I could write here. I just got the word tonight which is why I didn't know if this subject would live beyond a single post. But since I'm in it now, I will blog about the experience and hopefully give you a glimpse into the exciting backstage world of small town community theatre. Had I not been cast, I'd have written a single post about how unfair the audition process was, how directors are idiots who can't recognize talent and how I was glad I didn't get the part.

I've acted in shows before, including "Barefoot In The Park, "Grease" and "Bleacher Bums". And this is actually my second go-around with PCE, having done Neil Simon's "Fools" there in 2004. I think my character was 'Fool #5' or something like that. I even won an award for that one! So I enjoy acting but the problem is, until recently my job schedule has been so overwhelmingly demanding that doing a show was simply not a possibility. But now that my schedule is under control I'm able to jump back into it and this show makes perfect sense for me to do so; any good actor sincerely dedicated to their craft will tell you that if you can't do Shakespeare, look for something with a score by Flatt & Scruggs. I auditioned for the role of Mr. Drysdale, thinking it would be fun to play an outright, over-the-top villian. But as I read the script the other night, he's not the malevolent presence I thought he was. He's more like Colonel Klink; an authority figure to be defied at all opportunities but essentially a harmless doofus. I don't remember that from watching the show but I never really was into the Beverly Hillbillies. I much preferred the surrealistic anarchy of Green Acres. I don't think it's possible to be a fan of both. Anyway, I don't know much at all about this Brewster character. I'll find out more on Monday at the first read-through. I hope he has some funny lines or a hot make out scene with Elly May.
Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Coming Soon...maybe

Starting tomorrow, there will be a new, on-going series of adventures featured on this blog. Unless there is not. I won't know until tomorrow night. I also can't tell you what it is because that would a) jinx it and b) spoil the surprise. So tomorrow will either Chapter 1 of an exciting new serial feature or just another tedious one-off post.

Stay tuned (this is what's known in the biz as a "teaser" and everywhere else as a "bunch of needless hype leading up to a nothing")!

A short conversation about religion

"Hey dude, you got a little...a little..schmutz...right there on your forehead. Just so you know."

"Uh, thanks. It's Ash Wednesday, you ass. Just so you know."

"Oh geez, I'm sorry! I didn't even realize..."

"Yeah, well, if you would bother to learn a little something about important things like how other people express their religious faith, you wouldn't have to apologize."

"Ok, sure. Thanks for the heads-up. Oh, and I really hope your religion practices a Booger Hanging Out Of Your Nose Thursday or A Small Piece Of Broccoli Stuck In Your Teeth Saturday because if not, you're on your own from here on out, buddy."

(I know this post isn't timely --CB)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

As seen at the Florida Strawberry Festival

I visited the Florida Strawberry Festival today and brought back a couple of interesting images. First we have a chef enjoying a corn dog... ...although it looks more like a corn dog enjoying a chef. Hi-yo!!!

And for the ladies, here's a glimpse at an amenity that is simply not available to you:Yep, that's exactly what you think it is.

Now, who says this blog isn't classy?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Here Comes The Sun...damn it

One of the things I hate most about the sun is it's dependability. It seems you can't go more than a day or two without it rising in the east, bringing it's stupid life-sustaining light and heat, thus creating optimal conditions for getting out of bed. The kind of conditions that cause me to have days like the one I had Monday:

  • Getting ready to leave the house (at the last possible second of course), I could not find my wallet. Obviously, I can't leave the house without it so I was starting the day running late. I hate being late. Worse, I live alone so I couldn't even enjoy the simple pleasure of placing blame for my problems on someone else. I finally found it but when I went to leave, all of a sudden I was like Jimi Hendrix at the Red House; my key wouldn't work. After what seemed like forever trying to force it in without breaking it, it finally worked, but it made me really late and really stressed. Like I said, I hate being late, even to places I don't want to go, such as...
  • Work. Meh. You know the old saying: If you don't have something nice to say, you must be talking about your job. On the way home, I stopped at the...
  • Grocery store where I was buying six items so I was definitely Express Lane eligible. There was just one guy in front of me and I thought I'd be out of there in no time. Unfortunately, he was buying hot dogs (hot dogs, why do you haunt me so?!?) that were ringing up at $2.29 a pack. He insisted that they should have been $1.99 a pack (yes, your math is correct; we're talking about a difference of .30). The bagger went to check the price and came back and informed the cashier and the customer that there were indeed hot dogs on sale for $1.99 but this gentleman had picked the deluxe "bun length" hot dogs, which were correctly ringing up at $2.29. This led to a debate about what the true intent behind the term "bun length" should be, highlighted by the customer holding up the package of hot dogs next to a package of buns and declaring that it didn't look to him that these hot dogs were the same length as the buns anyway. The bagger went over and got another package of buns which were in fact shorter than the hot dogs in question. The customer thought this was an unfair comparison, since he was not buying that brand of buns. Eventually a manager had to come over and explain that "bun length" was a descriptive term and not an officially recognized unit of measurement (reminder: .30). First of all, why is there such a thing as hot dogs that aren't bun length? Who in the world would possibly want such a thing? Scratch that, I don't care. So first of all, I want out of there in the worst way and would gladly contribute the .30 necessary to resolve the situation, except this had obviously become a point of principle to the schmuck with the hot dogs and he would have undoubtedly refused the gesture which would have caused me to roll my eyes so hard that they might have become permanently retracted into my skull. It was finally resolved when the manager told the cashier to give him the hot dogs for the discounted price, which is exactly the way everyone involved, including me and the 15 poor, doomed bastards now behind me, knew it would end. Unfortunately, the end result for me was that people who hadn't even planned on grocery shopping that day had come in, bought five times more stuff than me, gone home and cooked it all up and sent their kids to college in the time it took me to get through the "express lane" and get home where...
  • The girls called and suggested we go to the casino. The crowd was pretty light so it wasn't overwhelmingly smokey like it usually is. I played poker while they played the slots electric gaming machines. I'm no Gadzooks, but I sat down with exactly $60.00 in chips and walked out 3 hours later with exactly $59.00, which I don't think is too shabby. That's a lot of entertainment for a buck and overall, we had a lot of fun there. So that part of my day was pretty great. Of course, this all happened well after the sun had gone down.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Last Saturday, I went to see the Second City Touring Company's "One Nation Under Blog" here at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center (I would have written this sooner but I've been sick). If you're not familiar with The Second City, click this link and prepare to be astonished by the names you see listed. The last time I saw one of their shows was in Chicago and the cast featured Scott Adsit, Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch and Kevin Dorff. They do sketch comedy, satirical songs and improv (which I could take or leave), sort of like "Saturday Night Live", only without bands and funny.
I have a question though; when did we as a nation forget how to laugh? I don't mean in a abstract, mourning-the-loss-of-our-collective-sense-of-humor way, I mean the practical application of our ability to laugh. When did we officially replace 'ha ha ha' with 'woooooooo!'? There was quite a bit of 'woooooooo!'-ing going on all night long and it actually started to be a little distracting. You hear 'woooooooo!' a lot on tv shows with live studio audiences. "Married With Children" used to be 22 minutes of non-stop 'woooooooo!'. The modern standard bearer is probably "Mad TV" (which I have made numerous attempts to appreciate but just can't get into). Actually, maybe laughter hasn't been replaced. Maybe 'woooooooo!' is a seperate reaction to something else. After all, the root of really good comedy is shock or surprise such as a pie in the face or a character saying or doing something unexpected; "I did not expect that to happen! Ha ha ha!". However, much of what is passed off as comedy is actually based on familiarity such as "Saturday Night Live" and "Mad TV" relying almost entirely on recurring characters, celebrity impressions and media parodies or "Married With Children" relying almost entirely on Al Bundy's hatred of his wife and Kelly Bundy's breasts: "I see something I recognize and this pleases me! Woooooooo!". Sort of like playing peek-a-boo with a toddler. So maybe 'woooooooo!' as a reaction to pleasurable stimulus is just a byproduct of the (d)evolutionary process. In which case, as our collective IQ continues to shrink, we'll be hearing more of it. At some point, the next comedic genius is going to be somebody who just comes out on stage and jingles his keys and makes fart noises with his mouth.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Baby it's cold outside

Ok, it isn't. It's 72 degrees, pleasant by just about anybody's standards. But the other night we had a small cold snap. For the most part, that's winter in Florida. Temperatures in the 70's with the occassional front pushing it down to the 50's. Often we might go as low as the 30's once or twice. It's a given that winter is completely miserable elsewhere and so we locals don't really even use the word 'winter', usually just referring to this time of the year as 'the season', which is short for either 'tourist season' or 'the season we live for while we feel like we're being immolated the rest of the year'.

As someone who was born and raised on the shores of Lake Michigan, where you'd undoubtedly see people at the beach if it was 50 degrees in February, I'm always amused when it gets chilly here. Aside from hurricanes, it's the only time the tv news leads off with the weather forecast. And you see people walking around bundled up like they're going out to shoo caribou away from the Alaskan pipeline. I don't even know where people find that clothing around here. I don't think I even own a jacket that zips up.
But like I said, it does dip down into the 30's once in a while and I don't care where you live, when you're within 10 degrees of water turning solid, it is cold. I have friends who are native Floridians who have never been through a truly hellish (ie: standard) winter and think that when we get freeze warnings that they are walking a mile in the shoes of the poor, pasty northerners. Sometimes they'll say naively foolish things to me about how they feel like they're missing out on something and would like to experience it just once. It's for them that I present this very short list of things that make winter almost everywhere besides Florida so unredeemingly miserable:
  • Snow - If you've never seen snow, you're not missing much. Unless you ski, it's vastly overrated. Pretty while it falls and for the first day or so when it's on the ground, it quickly degenrates as it gets compacted and dirty and turns into slush, a sloppy, filthy, gray goop whose only purpose is to find it's way into your footwear and make you sad. If you want to simulate the snow experience for yourself, take off your shows, put on some wool socks and go into your bathroom with a 50 pound block of ice and a cheese grater. Rapidly rub the cheese grater over the ice so flurries of ice shavings fly all around you. Lovely, right? Now, once the ice is all gone, make your toilet overflow all over the bathroom floor and walk around in the resulting muck for six hours. That's snow.
  • Your car - You know how you hate getting up early? Imagine getting up at least a half hour earlier just so you can get dressed, go outside and start your car (that's if you're lucky and the battery isn't dead) and letting it run so it's not colder than a mausoleum in deep space and so your windshield wipers thaw enough to actually be almost 50% functional. They won't be so you might as well just scrape your windshield before going back inside and getting undressed so you can get ready for getting dressed again, this time for work. If it's an especially good day, your driveway will not have been plowed shut by the department of transportation clearing the roads the night before. Otherwise you have to shovel it clear yourself. Of course, you could just gun it and try to drive through the blockade if you're feeling adventurous. Or lazy. Then you're out on the streets with a bunch of assholes who've apparently never seen snow or ice before, in spite of living there their whole goddamned lives, and either drive too slow or too fast, placing your life in danger and making regularly irritating traffic completely insufferable. Yeah, you'd probably better get up a whole hour earlier than normal.
  • Power outages - When the power goes out for extended periods of time here you get hot and sticky, your food spoils and you can't watch tv. Up north, there's a very real possibility you could die to death. Even if you have a fireplace to keep you warm, you're still in considerable danger.

There's more of course, but honestly do you need to hear about it? No, no you don't. Trust me, you're really not missing anything.