Sunday, August 31, 2008

Flee For All

Certain specific words and word combinations are always used in certain, specific circumstances. Screams are always blood-curdling, tundras are always frozen and rivers are always raging. As Hurricane Gustav takes aim on New Orleans, residents are fleeing. Residents are always fleeing tropical storms (well, maybe not always).

The definition of the word "flee" is as follows:

  • –verb (used without object)
    1. to run away, as from danger or pursuers; take flight.
    2. to move swiftly; fly; speed.
  • –verb (used with object)
    3. to run away from (a place, person, etc.).

The mental picture conjured by the word "flee" is as follows:Now, that may very well be exactly what they're doing. Taking all things into consideration, including past history, it would be understandable. But couldn't we come up with another description, something a little more dignified?

  • Evactualization
  • Ditching an uninvited guest
  • Doin' the FEMA Shuffle
  • Pulling a dash-and-live
  • Going out of town for a few days

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Great Mosaic

With the Democratic National Convention underway, this is a good time to think about all of the things that make our country such a great place. And one of those key components is diversity.

I don't like it.

Oh, not as it pertains to people. Black, white, old, young, male, female, gay, straight and all the other unique characteristics that make us all special blah blah blah etc. That's fine. It's the diversity of consumer goods and certain inanimate objects that bothers me. Rather, the inconsistent application of diversity to these things that bothers me.
For instance, our cars are all powered by internal combustion engines that run on petroleum fuel. Look where that has gotten us. Pizza only comes in one type of box; flat, with a flip up lid which is a tremendous hassle to dispose of. Why are there no viable alternatives in these areas when there is variety to spare in others? Such as...
  • Toothbrushes - Any toothbrush that scrubs the crud out of your mouth is a good toothbrush. Which means they could have stopped after they made the first couple. Yet they come out with new and improved toothbrushes all the time, each of which looks like it was tested at the Bonneville Salt Flats. I have a hectic schedule, but I don't need a toothbrush that can challenge the world land speed record.
  • Razor blades - Even more ridiculous is the world of razor blades. If toothbrushes are rocket cars, razor blades are stealth bombers. And there's hundreds of razors with their own blades, none of which work with each other. It's a sharpened chunk of metal on a stick. There is absolutely no reason why I shouldn't be able to grab a box of razor blades at any store and not worry about compatibility issues.
  • Garbage bags - Is there a less complex item in existence? There's an opening and you put trash in it. That's all! It shouldn't even be possible to make them different. But every time you but some, you have to figure out how they come out of the box (attached or individual?) and where the opening is. Every. Single. Time.
  • Receipts - Pull two different receipts out of your wallet and look at one of them. What's that number at the bottom? The total? The tax? The cash you received back? The date? Your phone number? Last night's lotto numbers? The amount you paid for arugula? Go ahead and figure it all out. Now look at the other one and re-learn that all over again because it will be laid out differently. Anything on a receipt that isn't the date, the name of the place, what you bought and how much you paid is a waste of paper and ink.
  • Gas pumps & ATMs - A gas pump is a very simple machine. It consists of a pump, a hose to deliver fuel to a vehicle and a calculator to tabulate how much should be charged for the fuel dispensed. An ATM is even simpler. It dispenses and receives cash and logs transactions. Why then are no two alike? They all have protocols that must be followed exactly or they will not function. Some want to know what language you speak, others don't care. Do you lift the handle before selecting the grade of fuel you want or after? Do you want to check your balance first? Some pumps will not give you a drop of gas until you decide whether or not you want a car wash. Do you want a receipt? Because you're getting one. Unless you say no. Or not. It's like if each individual Catholic church had a different way of conducting Mass.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

'Tooned up

The top 10 fairly common occurrences that would be 100X better if they happened in real life the way they do in cartoons

10) OCCURRENCE: Suffering massive head trauma
NOISE: Massive cymbal (or gong) crash
WITH: Reverberating head that briefly assumes the shape of the object that caused the trauma

9) OCCURRENCE: Catching sight of an attractive person
NOISE: "Ow-oooga!"
WITH: Bulging eyes and elongated, protruding tongue

8) OCCURRENCE: Walking quickly on tip toes
NOISE: "Tinkle-tinkle-tinkle-tinkle"
WITH: Walking only on the very tippy tips of the toes

7) OCCURRENCE: Ingesting something hot
NOISE: Air raid siren
WITH: Crimson red face and smoke pouring from ears

6) OCCURRENCE: Catching sight of something unusual
NOISE: "Yi-ee-yi-ee-yi-ee-yi-ee-yi-ee-yi-ee-yi"
WITH: Rapidly shaking head side to side

5) OCCURRENCE: Getting extremely angry
NOISE: Tea kettle rapidly approaching full boil
WITH: See # 7 plus levitating briefly

4) OCCURRENCE: Kissing
NOISE: High-pitched, wet squeak
WITH: Little red hearts appearing in mid-air

3) OCCURRENCE: Impending, unavoidable doom
NOISE: Softly uttered "uh-oh" or "oh no"
WITH: Terror-widened eyes and either waving bye-bye or holding up a little sign on a stick that expresses reluctant acceptance of inevitable fate

2) OCCURRENCE: Going somewhere in a hurry
NOISE: Bullet ricochet
WITH: A puff of smoke (or dust) shaped like the person who left momentarily occupying the recently vacated space

1) OCCURRENCE: Far too many to list
NOISE: "Boi-oi-oi-oi-oingg!!"
WITH: Far too many to list

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More appliances behaving badly

One of the great things about being severely paranoid is that when someone...or something turns on you and tries to kill you, you're rarely surprised. Such is the case with my microwave oven. Some time ago, during one of our many intense thunderstorms, there was a power surge which, like something out of a 1950's comic book, caused my microwave oven to start behaving strangely. For starters, there was the clock and timer. Actually, that was the only thing strange. But this is a picture of what it looks like now. What time is that? I have no idea. It looks like quarter past Klingon to me. This isn't a big deal. I don't rely on that clock anyway and as long as I punch the right buttons in the first place, I don't really need to refer to the timer either. I did accidentally enter 30:00 once when I meant 3:00, which was unfortunate. I figured out there was something wrong before the whole half hour passed but it was still bad. Let's just say that what little soup was still in the bowl when I stopped it was extremely hot.
Anyway, aside from that, things have been fine and we've co-existed nicely. I keep it clean and refrain from putting metallic items in it while it cooks my food and happily marks time in whatever language it speaks now.
However, the other day things took a sinister turn. I took out whatever it was I had been heating up and closed the door. As soon as I did, it started cooking again. That was odd, since the timer had beeped and I thought the cycle had completed. I hit the "STOP" button and nothing happened. I hit it repeatedly. Then I actually hit it a couple times. Still nothing. I opened and closed the door over and over. It still kept right on phantom cooking. Eventually I had to unplug it and that ended it. I still don't know why that happened. I have never heard of microwave ovens behaving independently that way or otherwise displaying signs of developing sentience. It hasn't happened since but it's just one more thing I have to keep an eye on.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Never too early for Christmas shopping...

Normally I hate to ruin a surprise, but this is just too exciting to keep: Look at what you're all getting for Christmas! Well, not all of you. The commercial says there's a "strict" purchase limit of five. DAMN IT!
If you're too lazy, disinterested or smart to click the link and watch the spiel, this is a special 9/11 commemorative $20 silver certificate issued by something called the National Collector's Mint, which is probably a division of Generic Yet Official-Sounding Consumer Industries, Inc. This is non-circulating Liberian legal tender currency at it's finest, people! If you think that alone doesn't spell C-L-A-S-S, just check out some of the special features:
  • "This Coin-Certificate displays a standard $20 denomination on one side. But on the other side, it’s the first time ever that two separate denominations have been used to add up to the full $20 face value – it uses 9 and 11 to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy." What other precious keepsakes have you seen that celebrate freedom, commemorate loss and teach basic math?
  • "FRONT - The frosted Twin Towers stand out against a mirror-like background, double dated 2001-2008 with our promise – “We will never forget!”" If you had any doubt, just take a look at that silver leaf exclamation point and you'll know better.
  • "BACK - The Statue of Liberty heralds a stunning design of the new Freedom Tower skyline in a silvery tribute to all who were lost on that tragic day." If I'm ever lost on a tragic day, I can only pray that any tributes to me are silvery.
  • "This meaningful commemorative will never be released for circulation but it is now available through this special private striking at face value." By my math, that means they're free!
So be really good (and nice to me) between now and Christmas and we'll see what happens.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Things that make me say "AAUGH!"

I know the only thing worse than hearing a fan whine about how the officials are cheating against their favorite team is hearing a fan whine about how the officals are cheating against their FIRST PLACE team. But seeing not one, but two utterly heinous blown calls go against the beloved home town Rays twice within a week is enough to make one at least react like this:

Granted, Sunday's game in Chicago probably shouldn't have even gone to extra innings. However, I fear that Shawn Riggans might be the Rays answer to former Lightning defender Pavel Kubina. He's a dedicated team guy that you really want to embrace because he works hard and isn't afraid to do more than his share of dirty work but always seems to do that one dumb thing in a game that makes you react like this:

In this case, it was dropping the ball on as easy and routine a play at home plate as you're ever likely to see which allowed the tying run to score. Excuse me for a second please...

Of course, that doesn't excuse the heinousness that followed.

Now, no reasonable person should think that any kind of "fix" is taking place. For one, this isn't the NBA. Secondly, there are literally millions of reasons to believe that if there was some kind of dark conspiracy taking place behind the scenes to favor one team over another, it probably wouldn't be for the White Sox:

Third, and most important, we're still in first place.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I'll take an omen wherever I can get it

I came out and found a duck feather sticking out of the air intake between the hood and windshield of my car the other day. I'm not sure how it got there. Probably some duck flying by just dropped it randomly and it happened to fall in there, but I can not say with complete authority that Forrest Gump wasn't cavorting on the hood of my car like Tawny Kitaen in that Whitesnake video.
When I managed a movie theatre in Sarasota, there was a big, mean stray cat who lived in the neighborhood. Sometimes he would climb up on the hoods of our customers cars and pee in there, to absolutely devastating effect when they turned on their air conditioners. They'd get mad and complain to me about it but it's not like I could do anything. He wasn't an employee. Instead all I could do was advise them to be nice to him and show him respect. I have no idea how he knew to do that but he did. A cat with practical knowledge of how automobile air intake systems work and an endless supply of cat urine is not to be trifled with.
Regardless of how it got there, I figured this feather being stuck in there had to be a benevolent occurrence. There's some old saying about a feather in your cap being a good thing. A feather in your car is only different by one letter, right? The way I'm going right now, I'll take good luck and fortune in any way it's offered. Between that and being lazy (every parking permit I've ever gotten while driving that car is still on the dashboard), I left it there. Of course, it flew out after I drove about a block so I don't know if that's enough to provide any kind of lasting benefit but I guess I'll find out.

I can not wait!!

Even though I don't have any choice and so I will, I can't.
it's Always Sunny in Philly

Oh, I'll be there Danny. I'll be there.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

None of Asimov's Laws of Robotics covered furniture

Further proof that we (human beings) are another step closer to being rendered completely obsolete...

This is very, very bad news not only for the
people who repair furniture but to those who break it. I wonder what the Ikeabots would have to say about this? Not that it matters. Because if they don't have an armor-plated futon that shoots meatballs, they're as screwed as the rest of us are.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rock off!

Remember when you were a kid and a well-intentioned but less-than-pop-culturally-savvy adult, usually a grandparent, would give you a present, thinking it was something you really, really wanted but because of tricky marketing they actually got it just wrong enough to be the most horrible gift imaginable? Perhaps it was a Big Jim instead of a GI Joe, Brix Blox instead of Legos, electronics from Radio Shack instead of Sony or Trax athletic shoes (the dreaded K-Mart house brand) instead of Converse. You couldn't help but be disappointed but you had to do your best to hide it because you didn't want to hurt grandma and grandpa. Not that you cared that much about their feelings. After all, you were kind of justifiably pissed at them for screwing up and they deserved to know how you felt about it. But you knew mom and dad wouldn't approve of that, especially since they didn't understand why something like brand names should matter to a kid your age because, well, they didn't understand. There could be a variety of reasons, from compatibility issues with the toys you already had to potentially being ridiculed by your peers to the principle of it all but it mattered, damn it. So you tried to look happy about it, but did such a terrible job of it that grandma and grandpa got upset anyway, which ticked off mom and dad and eventually everybody in the whole house was miserable. Merry Christmas and/or Happy Birthday, indeed.

If you're a parent or grandparent now, and you're feeling nostalgic, you might be thrilled (or not) to know that the shoddy knockoff industry that makes everyone sad is still alive and well! As you may know, the most popular video game franchise on the planet right now (with the possible exception of Madden NFL football) is Guitar Hero. If you don't know that, trust me, it is. That's Guitar H-E-R-O. Not...this. Yeah, that would be Guitar Idol, a game that is nothing like Guitar Hero and that the kids on your gift list are absolutely guaranteed to loathe forever and ever:

  • For starters, it's not even a video game.
  • Secondly, it's barely a game at all. It's enhanced air guitar, which is sort of like adding fresh ground pepper to salt water.
  • Thirdly, you can tell from the first chords that those are just cover versions of classic songs.
  • They're really shitty cover versions at that.
  • It only comes with four shitty cover songs? Are you kidding me? Cripes, my off-brand Walkman from the 80's, which I wouldn't be able to sell for $5 at a flea market now, could play 9o minute cassettes. This is like a billiard table that only comes with the cue, 1, 8 and 14 balls.

It's enough to make a kid who doesn't already have a blog start one and you do not want that. With the names so similar, you can certainly see how someone who doesn't pay the closest attention to what's hot in the world of toys and games might be very easily fooled. Plus, the fact that American Idol continues to be so ubiquitously popular adds to the confusion factor. It's a very slippery tactic. It would be like putting out a really terrible movie right now and calling it "The Dark Tropic Night of Thunder".

Then there's the free bonus stuff you get just for ordering today, which makes it that much more appealing for someone who wants to give a kick-ass present but might be on a fixed income...until you look at what you really get. Earbuds and a wrist strap. Total value? I'd say about a dollar. Oh, the wrist strap is adjustable? Okay, in that case it's still a dollar. BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! Lyric and rhythm sheets for all the (four) songs! Hmm, I think Kinkos charges about .10 a copy, .25 for color so there's another .40 to a dollar.

All of this can be yours for $19.95 plus $8.99 shipping and handling. Guitar Hero, on the other hand, is going to set you back between $40 and $100, depending on what version you buy and what accessories come with it. Granted, that seems like a lot to pay for a game. But $28.94 for getting ripped off is really expensive.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

From YouTube

One of the coolest things I've ever seen on YouTube...

I especially enjoyed the Butch & Sundance sequence.

Monday, August 18, 2008

When worlds collide...or at least bump up against each other

Oh boy!
In another one of those kooky quirks of scheduling, Tampa played host to both the Women of Faith Infinite Grace conference and the 2008 FetishCon this past weekend. One event featured appearances by Eden Wells, Kumi Monster and RubberDoll, the other featured Patsy Clairmont, Sandi Patty and Marilyn Meberg. I'll let you Google those names and figure out who was where but the real delight is in knowing that these people and their fans were both occupying the same relatively small space at the same time. Event organizers and venue bookers will both say that Tampa is a large enough city now that having multiple events that draw large and disparate crowds at the same time really shouldn't be an issue. And they're probably right but... Women Of Faith was held at the St. Pete Times Forum, which can hold up to 20,000 people and FetishCon, which draws over 2,000 people, was held at the Hyatt Regency about a half mile away. There are four, maybe five, hotels and about a dozen or so restaurants that you could reasonably classify as within walking distance of those two sites. Factor in just how dissimilar these two groups are and you have a recipe for awkward social interaction comedy gold, baby! I'm just picturing two groups of people, clutching either bibles or leashes with people attached to them, waiting for the streetcar to Channelside or for a table at First Watch: "Umm...that's okay, you go ahead. No, really. Please."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What to watch?

(DISCLAIMER: That is not a picture of me; I don't own a Superman t-shirt)

ESPN had a poll the other day on SportsCenter, asking people whether they were more excited to plant themselves on the couch Saturday night and watch Michael Phelps go for yet another gold medal at the Olympics or Brett Favre's debut with the New York Jets in a pre-season game. Of course, the correct answer is another question; ARE YOU KIDDING?!? Ok, I know ESPN's nose is firmly planted in the ass pockets of the NFL as well as every major league sports franchise (at least when it comes to sports they broadcast) that plays in the tri-state area, but come on. There is NEVER a good reason to watch NFL pre-season games on television, especially when the alternative is unprecedented Olympic history in the making.

On a local level, somebody asked me if I was going to watch the Rays or the Buccaneers pre-season game tonight and my reaction was the same as above. Let me see, a game that actually matters to the Rays pursuit of a playoff berth or an utterly meaningless exhibition (for which they charge suckers full price for tickets, by the way), three quarters of which will be played by guys trying to get a third string roster spot in a desperate effort to stave off the eventuality of getting a job at the car wash for a couple more months. yeah, that's a no-brainer.

To be honest, I've actually been watching more Little League World Series action than anything else, a fact that makes me question the depth of my loyalty to the Rays and the United States.

(DISCLAIMER: I'm posting this picture of Michael Phelps for the sole purpose of luring back some of the readers who enjoy this kind of thing and who used to like reading my blog, which I recognize and fully acknowledge as a completely shameless, desperate, gratuitous and exploitative gesture. You're welcome.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Incredible shrinkage

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going"

"Everything happens for a reason"

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"

"Tough times don't last, tough people do"

"What doesn't kill us makes us stronger"

"When one door closes, another is shoved up your ass (or however that goes)"

I'm sure these platitudes among others occurred to The Incredible Shrinking Man as he was fighting off cats and birds and spiders and microbes trying to kill him. I'll bet at some point they stopped being much of a comfort as he overcame these challenges but just kept shrinking and shrinking until he presumably disappeared. The movie doesn't say. It leaves it to the viewer to wonder just how insignificant a person can become, how little they can matter, and still be considered a human being. The fact that someone could simply cease to exist tomorrow without creating as much as a ripple in The Big Pond would give someone a sense of freedom if it weren't for wondering if it's already happened.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Update on the Bloomingdale library assault victim

I've written about this before. Sadly, there isn't actually much news to report, at least about the victim's condition.

However, there is news about fundraisers that are taking place to help the victim's family deal with the staggering medical costs.

  • A car wash, organized by Hillsborough County Fire Rescue firefighters and paramedics, will take place at the Valrico State Bank, 1815 State road 60 in Valrico, on Saturday, August 16th from 9:00AM until 5:00PM. Click here for a map.

  • The legendary JGLB, will perform at the L.A. Hangout Saturday night, August 16th. The band will take requests for donations and is also donating 100% of their tips to the the fund. I plan on bribing Tommy into letting me sing a song. Don't let that dissuade you from coming. The L.A. Hangout is located at 16411 N Florida Avenue in Lutz. Click here for a map.

  • You can also still make contributions at any Sun Trust Bank branch.

Gator season starts tomorrow

No, not football.
Florida's annual alligator hunting season begins August 15th and runs through November 1st. 4,500 permits, which include the trapping license and hide validation tag were issued for the price of $1021.50 for out of state hunters and the hometown discount price of $271. 50 for Florida residents. This entitles each hunter to harvest two alligators. Hunters are allowed to use hand-held restraining lines and snares, harpoons, gigs, snatch hooks, manually operated spears, spear guns, crossbows and bows with projectiles attached to a restraining line. Alligators are allowed to defend themselves by being alligators.
At first glance, that makes it sound like hunters would certainly seem to have the advantage. Personally, I've always believed that hunters should go out into the wilderness completely naked and equipped with one (1) state-issued knife. Whatever they come back with is theirs to keep. This would include limbs, if applicable. The use of advanced weaponry removes the sporting aspect in my opinion.
But before we concede defeat on behalf of the alligator, there are some factors to consider:
  1. Alligators get homefield advantage - Swamps and marshes are dark and murky, even more so at night when most hunting takes place because that's when alligators are active.
  2. Human beings are kinda stupid - I'm not just picking on hunters. Being a hunter doesn't automatically make you stupid. Plenty of non-hunters are stupid too. Most of them don't willingly go out and pay for the privilege of messing with alligators, though. It doesn't comfort me that there are people out there who have been issued permits to handle weapons when in reality they probably shouldn't be allowed to operate a pair of shoes without supervision. But then, I'm not an alligator.
  3. They're dinosaurs - Alligators have been around for over 200 million years. Consider the fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Velociraptor and the Pterodactyl. They're all gone but alligators are still here. During all this time, they have remained virtually unchanged, simply because that is just how badass they are. Way back when, some other dinosaur approached the alligators and said "Hey fellas? Listen, we were all just wondering if you wanted to go in with us on evolution. Most of us are seriously considering turning into birds. If that's not your thing, we hear there are some single cell organisms that have some pretty radical ideas about fur and what they're calling 'thumbs'. It sounds kind of far out and they're a long way from any kind of functional prototype but you might want to hear them out. You know, if you're not down with the whole bird thing I mentioned previously." To which the alligators said, "Nah. We're good." This probably aggravated the dinosaur who said "Fine, be that way. But when a massive comet strikes this still-unnamed-at-this-point planet and those of us who planned ahead are flying away to safety, don't come crying to me, okay?" Then the alligators ate that dinosaur because he was kind of being a dick about the whole thing and had already evolved to the point that he tasted like chicken.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Time to alter some states

Alaska and Hawaii both became states way back in 1959, the last states that were added to the union. We could have included the currently unincorporated territory of Puerto Rico at some point but nobody has been able to come up with a cool looking flag with 51 stars. They keep getting stuck on three rows of 17 stars or 17 rows of three stars. So instead, we just say "the United States and Puerto Rico", like we're the Justice League and they're our teenage sidekick. Scrappy Doo to our Scooby, as it were.
I think that's a shame. Maybe we can get around this problem by adding some new states or reconfiguring some old ones. We're due to expand anyway. Here are some ideas:

Here's a way to add a brand new state and solve the illegal immigration issue at the same time. Citizens living in Mexasifornia would be free to travel throughout the United States, just like all American citizens. That way they can work in other states, doing the jobs that the rest of us don't want to do, and then return to their home state at night. As time goes by, if the state needs more room, we just sneak out every couple of years and move the stakes a few inches. As long as we're careful, Mexico probably won't even notice for a while. Alternate name: Nuestro secreto pequeño sucio

This is a no-brainer. Everybody knows that what is called Michigan's upper peninsula should already be it's own state. For one thing, people who live there don't even consider themselves part of the state below. Largely because they (like all reasonable people) don't want any association whatsoever with Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and because they can't do that thing where you hold up your hand to show people where you live:Where does Michigan get off anyway? Look at the upper peninsula; if it's anybody's, it's Wisconsin's! But the people there have suffered enough without that. Let's give them a break and make them their own state already. Alternate names: Canadabama, Wisconstantinople or Snowmobileapolis


The way it is now, there are too many borders in too small an area. On one run to Wal Mart, you can go back and forth between Texas and Oklahoma four or five times and not even realize it. Nobody needs that kind of aggravation. Besides, doesn't one more somewhat-rectangular state right there just look like it fits? I know people in those two states don't always get along but just because they would live in the same state doesn't mean they couldn't continue to despise one another. Alternate name: TwisterTown


When we bought Alaska and Hawaii, the original owners threw in a whole bunch of tiny islands, all of which are probably the same size as Rhode Island and bigger than Washington D.C., whatever that is. I wouldn't make each of them a state. that would be ridiculous. But how about making them one very spread out state? Or at least two directionals, since we already have multiple Carolinas, Virginias and Dakotas. Alternate name: Confetticut

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A short conversation about going to the movies

"Hey, are you busy? Do you want to go see Pineapple Express tonight?"

"Why would I be interested in seeing that? I don't smoke pot. There's a whole wave of these movies by pot smokers for pot smokers that are all about smoking pot. I can't relate so I don't want to see any of them."

"Yeah, but you're not a vigilante crime fighter either and you've seen The Dark Knight four times already."

"True, but I am a flamboyant sociopath who might 'accidentally' overdose on sleeping pills some day."

"I keep trying to forget that."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Last one out, please turn off the light

My dear friend B McB has a theory that K-Mart actually closed five years ago and just didn't bother to tell anybody. I tend to agree with her and think that theory also applies to other institutions such as Hardee's, Mad magazine and the Arizona Cardinals among others. How else do you explain what is played on WSJT-FM (94.1)?

WSJT is a terrestrial radio station, or what was known prior to the advent of satellite radio as a radio station. There was a time...not that long ago...when you knew what you could expect from a radio station. Metalheads didn't have to worry about hearing disco, pop aficionados didn't have to worry about hearing country and country fans didn't have to worry about hearing black people. A station would pick a format and stick with it...right up until the point that it wasn't working and they would completely change. But now, either modern music has gotten to the point where there are just so many diverse talents and influences that it's virtually impossible to limit it by classification of any kind or programmers just don't care. Guess which theory I think is valid? Or take a peek at what's on WSJT's "smooth jazz" playlist and decide for yourself (you can see the complete list by visiting the station's site at the link provided above):

WAYMAN TISDALE - Throwin' It Down
EARL KLUGH - Driftin
Bumpin' On The Wes Side
So far, so good, right? Read on...

KENNY G - Sax-O-Loco
Ok, matter of personal taste, but still definitely "smooth jazz"

SPINNERS - I'll Be Around
Smooth, mais oui! But jazz? I don't think so

DAVE KOZ - Life In The Fast Lane
Jazz artist, sure, but that's an Eagles song. A smooth jazz station would never play the Eagles...

EAGLES - I Can't Tell You Why
Hey! What the...?!?

WHITNEY HOUSTON - You Give Good Love
Now wait a minute...

SEAL - Kiss From A Rose
COMMODORES - Lady (You Bring Me Up)
MARY J. BLIGE - Be Without You

Oh, come on!

SANTANA - Smooth f/Rob Thomas
MARVIN GAYE - Sexual Healing
TINA TURNER - What's Love Got To Do With It
Do all oldies just eventually ferment into jazz at some point?

JOHN MAYER - Waiting On The World To Change
POLICE - Every Breath You Take
ERIC CLAPTON - Layla (Unplugged)
GLADYS KNIGHT/PIPS - Midnight Train To Georgia
And finally...
PHIL COLLINS - One More Night
Ladies and gentlemen, the persecution rests

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Criss Angel update

Well, it's been just under two weeks since illusionist Criss Angel defied death by escaping from the condemned Spyglass Inn in Clearwater Beach. Here's an excellent video:

Breaking news, I've just been given this correct? It is? Yes, it is confirmed, the building is still imploded. We will update this story if it develops.

This stunt created quite a hubbub around here. It was all anybody talked about for a few days and it's still a popular topic of discussion. There was sort of an Emperor's New Clothes phenomenon as people, in an effort to not look like rubes, I guess, went way overboard in their efforts to declare the event as (GASP!) fake, thereby firmly establishing themselves as yokels instead. Judge for yourself:

"What a hoax, he wasn't in the building, there is no way. I will never watch Criss Angel again. What a waste of time!!!"

"Not only will I never watch anything Criss Angel does, I am boycotting any other of these stupid stunts and A&E for the rest of my life..."

"I hope he burns in hell. A locksmith would have been out of there in one minute. This thing was complete BS from the start and I'm embarrassed that I even looked at it. I will never watch A&E again so whatever rating they got out of my viewership will be lost forever..."

(The source for these quotes, and other stellar commentary from some of the local Mensa prospects, is this blog entry from the St. Pete Times)

Scathing! I don't think A&E will ever recover.

But it wasn't just the great unwashed tripping over each other in their zeal to be mythbusters. Check out this report from our local Fox affiliate, displaying the smug gravitas you might expect from investigative reporters who had, say, confirmed beyond doubt that
Oswald acted alone...

...well, they did mention a grassy knoll.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Got Gotti? We do!

Back in the early '80s, civic leaders branded Tampa "America's Next Great City". Since then, we've been on a quest to gather as many sports franchises, high profile events, aquariums and streetcars as possible in an effort to legitimize that claim. Another brick in that wall was added this week when it was announced a big name was coming to Tampa. No, not quarterback Brett Favre who was traded to the New York Jets instead of the beloved hometown Buccaneers, but a much, much bigger fish. Or rather, someone who...allegedly...sends others to sleep with the fishes.

That's right, you guessed it, Tampa is getting the impending trial of the former head of the Gambino crime family, John Gotti Jr! Wooo! Yeah! Take that, Tucson! (note: the author is not actually aware of whether or not the city of Tucson was ever considered a potential venue for this proceeding, or even where Tucson is, believing it to be "somewhere in either New Mexico or regular ol' Mexico")

Gotti was arrested Tuesday at his Long Island home in connection with three murders committed in New York during the late '80s and early '90s and are related to a drug ring that operated in New York, New Jersey and Florida at that time. The latest charges emerge from a widening investigation by federal prosecutors based here in Tampa. Five suspects have already been charged, including Ronald "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio who has already been sentenced to life in prison. Gotti has faced trial three times previously, all of which were held in New York and all of which ended in hung juries (relax, not literally) and mistrials. Prosecutors feel conditions somewhere farther away may lend themselves to getting a more favorable outcome (ie: a verdict of guilty). Between that circumstance and the efforts of Tampa's Media Circus Task Force, a lesser known but extremely hard working and frighteningly effective arm of the Tampa Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau, it was a virtual slam dunk! Don't think for a minute that this is not a pretty big "get". Maybe not Republican National Convention (ooh!) or 2012 Summer Olympics (ouch!) big, but hotels will be booked and media coverage will be intense.

Naturally, we as a community could not possibly be more excited. Well, except maybe for Rays skipper Joe Maddon, who when he first heard Junior was coming to town thought a late waiver wire deal had been worked out to get Ken Griffey. But for the rest of us, while we love justice, we really love spectacle on a grand scale. And this has all the makings of an epic, just the way we like it. Word is that negotiations are already underway for either Joe Redner, Debra LaFave or a couple of Hogans to throw out the ceremonial first affidavit (I'm pulling for Redner; having been arrested over 140 times, the guy really knows his way around a courtroom).

It's not known whether the annual Gasparilla festivities will be re-scheduled to coincide with the trial, as was the case when Tampa hosted Superbowl XXXV in 2001, since it's not yet known when the trial will even take place. But whenever it eventually happens, there is one thing you can count on: There Will Be Beads.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Another new blog to pimp

The Show! Le Spectacle! La Espectáculo!
From Laura, the 23-year-old that I date. She will write about shoes and purses and all sorts of fashion crap that I will not. Hopefully she will also cover other topics because she is, what's the word I'm looking for...oh yeah, I remember. Bonkers.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

You can't say that on television. Apparently.

If you've ever watched television after 11:00PM, you have probably seen a commercial for a product called "Extenze". In spite of what is depicted on the box seen here, it is not a drug designed to help you put on your Capri pants and rescue virginal maidens from drowning in shallow surf. Although, if it actually performs the function that it claims it does, it would be easier to do so because it would provide a strategically located third point of support, redistributing the weight of the victim proportionately, and thus easing strain on the shoulders, arms and neck as well as the lower back and lumbar regions. But it ain't back medicine. Nope, it's a male enhancement product! (Sorry ladies) So what does that mean? And how does it work? Heck, I don't know. Who cares? I have the maturity level of a 13-year-old which means I'm just here to ridicule the commercial. Let's watch together, shall we?

0:13 "A capsule that makes a man larger" - Awesome! Sign me up!
It's a childhood fantasy straight out of Marvel Comics! I'll be a living, breathing man-monster. Rarrgh!

0:19 " of all ages all over the world" - Wait a minute. If there are already millions of these men out there, how come I haven't seen any? All I ever see are regular size dudes. Maybe they've all been relocated to Monster Island where they spend their days pitched in epic battles for island supremacy. Hmm, sounds kinda gay. Maybe I don't want to take part after all.

0:26 "...increase the size of that certain part of the male body" - Ohhhhhhhhh! I see where they're going with this. They're talking about the penis. Yep. That's what they're driving at. It doesn't make the whole man larger, just his penis. So they're equating the man himself with one particular organ. Okay, I got it. That kinda seems like a sales pitch that is liable to appeal only to those who are deeply insecure and self-conscious who would probably benefit more from some kind of counseling. But what do I know?

0:28 "It's not a gimmick. It's real science." - Well, duh. You can tell it's real science because we see scientists with flasks, beakers and lab coats, hard at work. Apparently in one of the hidden labs on the Death Star.

0:29 "Hello, I'm Dr. Stein" - Hello, Dr. Stein. Say, where do you work?

0:30 "...The Stein Medical Institute" - Of course. How silly of me. The Stein Medical Institute is located right here in Tampa, which is something I honestly didn't know before I sat down to write this. Now I'm sure it's fantastic and totally legit!

0:42 "...that certain part of the male body" - It's a good thing we all know what they're talking about because they never say it. I would wonder if there are people out there thinking that all the hard-working medical professionals at The Stein Medical Institute are spending all their time genetically mutating men's elbows but I'm too busy wondering why at certain hours I can watch the hilarious Louis CK call his four-year-old daughter an asshole on Comedy Central but a doctor can't say the word 'penis' during the commercial break.

0:56 "...we're going to give you a week's supply absolutely free" - Wait, how much do I need? A week's supply isn't enough? How long do I have to take this stuff? If you stop taking it does it shrink? If so, this is the only pill in the world where if you neglect the regimen something very serious can happen!

1:15 "You know; male enhancement" - Okay, now it's getting ridiculous. If you and your significant other can't even use the word 'penis' when you talk to each other, your relationship has problems that can not be solved by anything that comes in a box.

1:43 Man On the Street interviews - There are only four possibilities here:
  1. The producers have stalked clients so they could confront them on camera, a breach of doctor/patient confidentiality that I sincerely hope Dr. Stein would not endorse.
  2. There really are millions of men using this product, making it relatively easy to find some of them randomly walking the streets, eager to endorse the life-changing miracle capsule.
  3. "Honey, you know how badly I want to be on television. Let's go over there and talk to that professional photojournalist in the low-cut halter top with the microphone labeled 'SEX TALK' and favorably answer whatever questions she asks."
  4. It's all bullshit.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I'm "It"

I've been engaged in a game of Blog Tag by Citizen Jane. Here's how it works:

The Rules: Rules are posted at the beginning. At the end of the post, the player tags 5 people and posts their names. Then the player goes to each of the “named” people’s blogs and leaves a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. If you’ve been tagged, you do the same, letting the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer. They, in turn, answer the following questions.

Countless emails, chain and standard forwards, have died in my inbox over the years so normally this isn't the kind of thing I'd participate in. But I'm fond of Citizen jane and why should I pass up an opportunity to share some fascinating and 100% true and factual trivia about your favorite subject (me)? So here you go...

What was I doing 10 years ago? - Taking the first steps towards my divorce (aka getting married)

What are five things on my to-do list today? -

  1. Sort items in refigerator alphabetically
  2. Reduce my carbon footprint or at least get some Dr. Scholls pads for my carbon feet
  3. Rank every flavor of Jolly Rancher candy by snarkiness (most to least)
  4. Watch every video on YouTube. Again.
  5. Stick it to The Man.

Snacks I enjoy - Sharksicles. Mashed yeast. Shredded lard. Fried ice.

Places I’ve lived - Tampa, FL. Sarasota, FL. Frankfurt, Germany. West Point, NY. Clarksville, TN. Wrightstown, NJ. Columbia, SC. Indianapolis, IN. Fort Knox, KY. Benton Harbor, MI.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire - Hire an entourage of midgets. Get a talking dog. Buy a roller derby team. Spoil the people I care about beyond rotten. Purchase the rights in perpetuity to the color yellow. Fund research into the development of a pizza box that can be disposed of easily.

Who's next?

You're welcome or I'm sorry, depending on how you feel about this (and yes, I'm only tagging four people, 'cause I'm a rebel!)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Condescension never sounded so soothing

14-year-olds aren't allowed to have credit cards and morons shouldn't be. But if you think you deserve to be talked to like you're either or both, there's a credit card company that would like to have a word with you...

Friday, August 01, 2008


There's an awful lot of news out there and it's hard to process all of it, so often I just settle for scanning headlines. Sometimes, I come across a headline that makes me stop and say "Wait a minute; what did that say?" and then read the story behind it. The kind of headline that reads "Bus passenger beheaded seat mate", for instance. The kind of story under a headline like this usually makes me say not "Darn!" or "Damn!" but "Dayum!"
Seriously, just how out of your mind with anger do you have to be where you actually cut someone's head off? Not just want to, which everyone does from time to time, but actually do it? Now, I can tell you from first-hand experience that riding a bus will indeed make you out-of-your-everlovin'-peapickin'-mind angry. First of all, the bus itself will do it. Busses are hot, cramped, noisy, slow-moving and crowded with people who are at least as miserable about it as you are. Then there's all the time you have to sit there and consider what you've done wrong in your life to find yourself in that situation. That is not a combination of circumstances that lend itself to zen. And I don't mean to sound flippant about murder, but hey, shit happens. Especially when you're angry. Still, I don't think that's enough to get anybody to the point where simply stabbing someone repeatedly is, sure, an emphatic statement but still needs some sort of exclamation point or cherry on top to, you know, really drive that point home.
I don't know.