Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A trip to the grocery store

The grocery store is a great place to see strange things. Usually I don't have a camera with me. Today I did.
I love yogurt. It's like pudding that's good not that bad for you, it's available in a wide variety of flavors and comforting, soft, pastel colors, it's cheap and it often comes with little bonus features, like granola or fruit at the bottom. Or in this case, if the illustration is accurate, french fries and cheese wedges.

Do you even have an inkling how many different kinds of sea creatures can be processed, packed into tin cans and packaged in small, easy-to-stack boxes?

$12.99 seems like a lot for a half-eaten donut. Even with sprinkles.

This injectable marinade comes with it's own syringe! If a heroin addict ever asks you for grilled pork loin with "The Works", this may or may not be what they're talking about.

So that's what happens to them when they outgrow the band!

Kneel before me, minions. You have no choice in the matter, healthy or otherwise. You are now my gravy slaves.

This will be my last blog post until next Monday. It's not that I have any big plans, or any plans whatsoever for the Thanksgiving holiday (because I don't) but I'm going to take some time to work on the menu for the restaurant chain I'm opening overseas next year, that will offer European diners an authentic "American-style" dining experience. Basically, I'll be serving different combinations of grease and salt in colorful plastic bags. I don't see how it can possibly fail.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Won't you meet my neighbor?

Someone has finally taken up residence in the mysterious downstairs apartment which had been empty and unlocked for a very long time.

Legitimate or not (who knows? None of my business), there is somebody living there now. His name is Mark and he seems like a nice guy. There are only two really reMARKable (haw haw! I crack me up!) things about him:

  1. He has a pet dragon. Her name is Daisy and that's her in the picture. It's hard to tell from the photo but she's pretty big. She likes the sunshine. Mark leaves his blinds open and when he lets her run around loose, which is often, she's usually hanging around the patio door like this, soaking up rays. Is that normal dragon behavior? I haven't a clue. But she seems cool. She's definitely cool to look at. I like her and I hope she likes me. The very last thing on my very long list of things I don't need is an enemy who is a dragon.
  2. Mark has no furniture. Since he leaves his blinds open, you can see inside his whole apartment. And the only things in there are Daisy's dragonarium (I guess that's what you'd call it) and shoes, sitting on the floor. I mentioned this to him. "Mark", I said, "You have no furniture." "Yeah", he said, "I know". Okay then. Good talk, Mark.

And so that's my new flaky neighbor, Mark. I'm just glad the apartment is occupied since management had no interest in locking the place up while it was empty. That was really starting to unnerve me. I had no idea what might jump out at me from there some late night. Flakes, I can handle. I get flaky people. I like flaky people. There's something reassuringly dependable in their flakiness. So now if anything comes leaping out of there late at night, I'll know it's just Daisy the dragon lunging for my jugular (do dragons do that? Seriously, I have no idea).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mmm, pork soda!

Really? Whole pigs? Like, they still have all their hair, their limbs, their functional internal organs...their souls?!? Because if so, your store has a new regular customer, my friend.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shoosh Tampa!

On the excessively long list of things I will never, ever understand is where some people here in Tampa get...and store...their winter clothing.
The temperature has been in the low 50s for the better part of the last week (mostly at night), which is what we here consider cold. We get about, I don't know, 20 or so days like that a year. When that happens, there are people living here who suddenly bust out ensembles that make them look like they spend their time in rough-hewn timber lodges with high ceilings, sipping hot buttered rum. Designer sweaters, Gore-Tex mesh stretch parkas with matching gloves, knee-high boots with or without big fluffy collars around the top, and all kinds of winter hats.
Meanwhile, I'm going "hey, I thought owned a sweatshirt", as I root through drawer after drawer of shorts and tee shirts.
It's not everybody in town. Often, the scent of mothballs fills the air when it gets chilly as people dig out the coat they've worn twice since they moved down from Cleveland. But for others, it's like Opening Night at the Aspen Social Club. We're talking about what looks like $600 worth of clothing for less than a month of weather that would inspire our neighbors to the north to break out their barbecue grills. Who are these people and do they have storage facilities for their seasonal wardrobes? Or do they have some kind of widget installed on their computers that has a standing order from the Gorusch catalog FedExed to them as soon as the temperature dips below 60?

Friday, November 21, 2008

The sun has set in Philadelphia again

Last night was the season finale of my favorite television show "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia", so now I'm sad. If you didn't watch it, you're only hurting yourself. Although, I will be the first to admit that this was not their strongest season, it was still hilarious.
Why do I love this show so much? Because I enjoy watching terrible people doing terrible, terrible things. As a terrible person who does terrible things, I feel akin to these obnoxious, self-centered and dumb characters. For examples, one of my favortite board games is Slurbble. Slurbble is exactly the same game as Scrabble, but the overriding rule is that any word is allowed, as long as it can be used in a racial or religious slur (biggest, and only, dispute that comes up during games: if something is mostly true, is it still a slur? Arguments and hilarity often ensue).
I don't think I'm alone either. Who identifies with any of the characters on a show like "Friends"? Nobody I know, that's for sure. On the other hand, I recognize common behavior on every single episode of "Sunny".
Beyond that, I think the show is extremely well written and that the performers are all perfectly cast. So I feel obligated to do whatever I can to promote quality television, lest we wind up with another "Arrested Development" situation.
Plus, I've never really latched onto a 'cult' phenomenon like "Star Trek" or "The Big Lebowski" or anything like that and I kind of want to. I want to attend conventions where people dress in sleeveless t-shirts and short shorts, huff paint, do 'Charlie Work' and the ratio of men to women is four to one. Oh, wait a minute...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Maybe I don't h8 text messaging after all

Sometimes the best pranks are the ones that happen by accident...
The 23-Year-Old, a recurring character on this blog, is a real person. She works for the Tampa Bay Lightning and sometimes she is extremely gullible. This was an unfortunate combination of circumstances for her Tuesday night.
She is currently in Dallas, attending meetings with representatives from other NHL clubs.
The Lightning have two players, Vaclav Prospal (pictured) and Chris Gratton, who have been with the team three different times.
I was watching the game Tuesday night and when the Lightning fell behind 3-0, I got bored and started sending the following text messages to her, about five minutes apart:
"We just traded prospal"
"We just got prospal back in a trade"
"Oops, he's been traded again"
"We got gratton back, who we traded earlier tonight"
"We just traded gratton again"
"We just got gratton and prospal back, in exchange for brad lukowich {a player who had been with the Lightning on two different occassions}"
"We got lukowich in the second prospal trade tonight"
"Or was it gratton?"
"Gratton and prospal have each been traded 5 times tonight"
"Oops, make it 6...nope, 7. They both just got traded again"
Finally, she replied, but apparently after reading only the first message (but I didn't know that at the time): "What??? Prospal went where???"
I don't know why, but I answered: "Pittsburgh"
It turns out that at that very moment she was having dinner with people from the meetings, including two employees from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now, she knew there was a game going on. And she knows that it's highly unlikely that any player would be traded in the middle of a game. And if she had read the other text messages, she probably would have figured out it was a joke. She isn't stupid. However, instead she chose to be ESPN and broke the story of the trade to her dinner companions who immediately got on their phones, making frantic calls back to the home office to see what the hell was going on. While they were doing that, she took the opportunity to look at the rest of her messages. This resulted in her texting "I hate you all the team reps are at my table...And they are like wtf". This made me laugh. Then she texted "I am so mad at you". This made me double over in hysterics. When she texted "Omg I am so mad I hate you", I nearly went into convulsions. I was in tears and everything.
I apologized and promised to buy her something expensive when she comes back (which I won't do), and she recognized the situation for what it was (mostly her fault) so she isn't mad at me any more. But man, that was some good times!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sudden Valley

I saw a comment posted to a blog post (not mine) yesterday about Tampa Bay Lightning owner Oren Koules that still makes me laugh a day later. I wish I could remember where it was because I'd post a link. But it said something to the effect of:
"Michael Bluth needs to go back to running the banana stand."
That is brilliant for a couple of reasons. One, the resemblance is pretty spot-on. Two, it's a reference to "Arrested Development", the greatest sitcom to ever be snuffed out in its prime which automatically makes it funny and hip. By extension, references to The Banana Stand in any context will never not be hilarious. Where it stops being funny is the fact that Michael Bluth is a fictional character portrayed by Jason Bateman on a TV show that the entire universe agrees was cancelled much too soon. Oren Koules is real and it looks like we're stuck with him running the three-ring frat house that used to be a Stanley Cup winning NHL franchise known as the Lightning. Unless he follows the sage advice of this internet commenter, known but to god. After all, there's always money in The Banana Stand.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Come and get it!

I was sitting on my couch last night, doing a Sudoku (which I can do better than I can pronounce) sort of half-watching the previous night's episode of "Family Guy" when Gary Sinise came on during a commercial break and told me that Golden Corral was offering all veterans a free dinner on November 17th. Since it was Monday and I was going to watch "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles", my brain was already set to deal with time travel conundrums. So it didn't take that long to figure out the dinner historic Gary Sinise was predicting would take place in the future was actually taking place during the current present! Free meal! All I have to do is get off my ass and go get it. Hmmm, well, ok.
Now, when I was in the army I was fortunate enough to not have to fight in any wars. The closest I ever came was the time we were put on alert for a few hours and then found out they decided to send troops from another division to invade Grenada instead. Well, that and the times we got lost and accidentally came within a few kilometers of the border between the two Germanys. Some people have a very narrow definition of what qualifies someone as a "veteran" and I respect that. But I didn't want to waste a drive so I called the local Golden Corral to see what the qualifications were and what credentials I needed to bring. I was told, "Anything. Wear a uniform. Military documents. Military insignia. A picture. Anything." Cool. I have anything! I'm in! I dug out my DD-214 and headed out.
I should state for the record that I'm not really a big fan of buffet restaurants. One Of The Wisest People I Know believes there is something fundamentally not right about a restaurant where you line up at a trough. As in most cases, I agree with her and Golden Corral is probably not a place I would normally choose to eat dinner. It's also my experience that a surprisingly high percentage of the population has a great degree of difficulty operating exotic utensils like tongs and ladles and when they get frustrated, they give up and use their fingers. Nothing kills your appetite faster than the notion that the ham steak on your plate has already been felt up by somebody else's grubby little digits. Which I guess is good, since the biggest problem is there's just too much damn food on a buffet. I don't care how good the pot roast is, three helpings of it washed down with a hot fudge sundae is not a good idea. However, Golden Corral deserves props for doing something nice (FREE MEAL) for veterans. And paying (FREE) tribute (COMPLIMENTARY) after (GRATIS) the official holiday is a nice touch.
When I got there, I saw a line out the door around the building. I thought, you have got to be kidding me. I instantly flashed back to my most unpleasant memories of of my time in the service. As I said, I never saw combat so for me, post traumatic stress is tied to standing in line. the term "hurry up and wait" was invented by the military, where everything is structured on a precise schedule that involves getting as many people to a location at a specific time so they can stand there and wait for something to happen. You stand in line and wait for everything. Haircuts. Telephone. Paycheck. And food. As irrationally impatient as I am, this was easily the most difficult aspect of military service for me. If I had been in combat and were ever captured by the enemy, all they'd have to do is put me at the end of a slow moving line for something and I'd have sung like a canary. I'd reveal secrets I didn't even have. No other torture necessary. Since then, I do whatever I can to avoid being in situations where I have to wait in line. As a result, thanks (sincerely) Golden Corral, but no thank you. I hope the people who did wait in line enjoyed it (with a minimum of ham fondling) because they certainly deserve it.

Nets gain

It's not often I have anything good...or at all, for that say about the New Jersey Nets (insert your own New Jersey joke here) or the NBA in general, but the Nets have come up with a fantastic promotion. One that should be copied by every franchise in every league.
They're offering 1500 free tickets (300 each for five games) to unemployed fans. But it's more than giving away tickets to the jobless. To get the tickets, you have to enroll in the Nets Employment Program, which consists of signing up at their website and submitting a resume. The team is then passing those resumes on to prospective employers, including their corporate sponsors.
Absolutely brilliant! Like the best promotions, it's a simple idea that provides multiple benefits: Butts in seats, exposure and good will for sponsors and unlike the usual autograph signings/photo ops, it's a true example of a team being actively involved in the community at a time when it's really needed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Who ordered this?

This all started some time in the early to mid '80s, when macaroni got all uppity and noodles insisted on being called pasta. Overnight, it turned into, "What kind of pasta do you want?". What do you mean? I ordered Spaghetti. "Yeah, but do you want vermicelli, linguine, fettuccine, rigatoni, angel hair, multi-grain, tri-colored, bow tie..." Oh my god, who cares?!? Just boil up whatever noodles are laying around, put the sauce on there, bring it out and let me eat it. If not for the fact that society doesn't condone me sitting here eating spaghetti sauce and meatballs right out of the pot with a ladle while wearing a bib made out of garlic bread, which I would eat when I'm done, there would be no reason for noodles...excuse me, even exist.
It's completely out of control now and there are new, unnecessary food items coming out all the time. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying these things are bad. They're not hurting anyone and it's nice that they exist, but they don't really contribute anything worthwhile either. So they could disappear tomorrow and you probably wouldn't miss them. I'm talking about the Meg Whites of food.
  • Ciabatta bread - Like noodles, bread is one of those foods that only exists to put other stuff to eat on. Because it's been deemed unacceptable to grab a fistful of ham and cheese, squirt some mayo and mustard in there and walk around gnawing on it like a viking warrior, we have to have bread. Well, excuse me, Lord and Lady Wipe-every-time-you-use-the-toilet-whether-you-need-to-or-not! Thanks for the edible napkins. And I guess it's not enough that there are more varieties of bread than there are countries that eat it, somebody had to go invent another one and name it after a Star Wars character.
  • Asiago Cheese - There are as many varieties of cheese as there are people walking the planet right now, all of which have been around since the horse was invented. Meanwhile, we haven't cured a disease since Polio. That didn't stop some asshole from inventing Asiago cheese, which is used, along with the cursed ciabatta bread, to make paninis.
  • Panini - It's just a sandwich. It's a couple hunks of bread with stuff between it. That's a sandwich. People will tell you that it's somehow superior to a regular sandwich but they won't be able to tell you why. These people are fools and they're eating The Emperor's New Sandwich. If somebody tries pulling that on you, you feel free to knock their panini out of their hands on to the floor and ask them what they call it now. Then slap them across their fat face and storm right out of there in tears. I'll guarantee they think twice before ordering another one...or going to lunch with you ever again.
  • Stuff with chipotle in it - I honestly thought chipotle was a breed of horse. So whenever I hear 'chipotle', I think of horses. Oddly enough, that doesn't make my mouth water. That's a picture of some chipotles up there. That doesn't do it for me either.
  • Applewood smoked bacon - What. In the hell. Is that. Note to people who eat stuff: when it comes to fruit that grows on trees, it's the fruit that tastes like fruit, not the branches. I wouldn't cook wienies over a fire from burning orange tree branches and expect a hot dog to taste like a Mimosa. So why would I expect apple wood to alter the flavor of bacon? Do you know any bacon enthusiasts who have any complaints about how bacon tastes? Of course not! They love it because it tastes like bacon! So who wants this anyway? Psychos, that's who: "Dear bacon manufacturer, I really love bacon. But boy, do I ever hate apples. I sure wish I could enjoy eating bacon to the fullest and thereby live a truly satisfying and meaningful life but my loathing for apples and everything about them prevents me from doing so. Can you please come up with a product that combines your delicious pork product and my pathological desire to set fire to apple orchards?"
  • Raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing - While there may be a wide variety of offshoots, all salad dressings have their roots in one of two categories 1) clear and 2) opaque. So what in the hell is raspberry vinaigrette? It's neither. It's both. It's nothing less than a goddamn abomination.
  • Honey mustard may just be the ultimate example of a completely unnecessary food item. Honey mustard is good for things like chicken nuggets, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, or salads...with chicken in them. Basically, anything as long as chicken is the primary component. Otherwise, you will never, ever eat honey mustard anything. What a huge waste of time and space this stuff is. In the old days if some wiseacre had come up with a condiment that could only be used with one kind of food, they'd have set his mustache on fire, tied and gagged him and set him adrift over the Atlantic Ocean in a hot air balloon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

See ya in the funny papers!

Look! Stephan Pastis wrote a comic strip about me!
Yeah, it might not mention me by name, but you know I am that pig.

(And yeah, I realize I'm just one of thousands of bloggers who are going to throw up this same comic strip and say it's about them. Just let me have my moment of glory, will you?)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Melrose displaced

There seems to be some sort of cosmic law that requires that at all times, one of Tampa Bay's three major league teams must be the most laughably inept in it's sport. It would appear that it is the Lightning's keep the universe in balance as management has fired head coach Barry Melrose after 16 games.
Just because I thought hiring Melrose was a bad idea in the first place doesn't mean that I'm happy about him being fired. Because as a ham-and-egger off the street (Joe the Fan, if you will), there's absolutely no consequence whatsoever to me being wrong (or right) about the team's personnel decisions. That's one of the great things about being a fan. The professionals who are paid to make those decisions, however, are a different story. They don't get the luxury of being pleasantly surprised if they're wrong. In this case, they fired a Stanley Cup winning coach (albeit one who had just finished with the worst record in the league) and presumably bypassed other candidates to hire someone who hadn't coached at any level in over a decade...only to fire him after playing less than 20% of one season. Point being, if it took so little time to figure out it wasn't a good fit, you have to wonder if the pre-hire vetting process was as thorough as it could and should have been. Again, that's why the professionals make the big bucks.
Considering it took only 12 games to dump Matt Carle, the focal point of the trade that cost the Lightning hard-working all-star defenseman and fan favorite Dan Boyle, fans probably shouldn't be too shocked if Marty St. Louis gets traded in the middle of the next unsuccessful power play. I can see the press release now...
"This was a tough decision to make. Marty is a good man and we have a great deal of respect for him and all he's done for the organization over the years. We wish him nothing but success. However, we've had the man advantage for nearly half a minute now and the results have been unacceptable. The players have to understand that we need to be better. Hopefully this change helps us for the remaining 1:36 of Wade Brookbank's hooking penalty."

Of course, an organization that turns to the porn industry as a model for building it's marketing campaign probably isn't one that's looking to set standards for good judgment.

A short conversation about moral dilemmas

"What if Dierdre and I were dangling over the edge of a cliff and you were hanging on to her with one hand and me with the other, but you only had enough strength to pull one of us to safety. Who would you let go?"

"I'd let you go."

"Just like that? You don't even need a second to think about it?"

"You're much heavier than she is. There's no way I could pull you up the side of a cliff. Sorry, but logically it's the only answer that makes sense."

"It's not a question of logic, it's a moral dilemma."

"Dierdre worked really hard this summer to lose all that extra weight. I don't think it's all that moral of you to not give her due credit for that."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My favorite typo

Anybody who spends significant time at a keyboard (and seriously, who doesn't these days?) makes typos. Sometimes it's sloppiness, sometimes people just can't spell. My dad was a notoriously horrible speller. He was a cop and one time had to write a report about some pervert looking into women's bedroom windows. In the report he wanted to label the perpetrator a "window peeker". Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you feel about found comedy), what he typed was "window pecker". Yeah, he wasn't exactly Hooked On Phonics. He never really lived that one down either.
I don't mind saying that I've always been a pretty solid speller. As a kid, dad used to call me from the office for spelling assistance. I used to compete in spelling bees and I'm sure my spelling ability was the only thing that saved me in many cases from failing classes in which I was a mess in all other aspects. However, even an admittedly strong speller like myself is not immune to typos. For instance, I am completely incapable of spelling the word "occassion" and it's derivatives without the aid of spellcheck. Misspellings like "rediculous" and "alot" and, well, "mispell" are so common now that typos barely draw a second glance. But I came across one today that absolutely took my breath away. Ready?
"Needles to say"

Isn't that fantastic? Just one dropped letter and it only really works in conjunction with the two other correctly spelled words, but it's soooo beautiful! A single tear of joy rolled silently down my cheek when I saw it. If I ever change the name of this blog, I'm going to start calling it "Needles to say".

James Bond returns tomorrow!

The new James Bond film "Quantum of Solace" opens nationwide tomorrow. It's already being criticized for having an awkward and cryptic title. Frankly, I don't see what the big deal is. I'd go see it as long as it was called anything except "James Bond Gets Hit In The Nuts Repeatedly With A Knotted Piece Of Heavy Rope II". I'm still recovering from part one.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Congratulations, Joe!

After Rays manager Joe Maddon took the previous season's worst team in baseball, a team with the second lowest payroll in the major leagues, to the World Series, the only question is who's the moron who voted for Ron Gardenhire as American League manager of the year instead?!?

USF Athletics: Marketing genius at work!

Ask about ticket packages for the upcoming Big East men's Hokey Pokey season!

(Click here to see the photo in it's actual context WARNING: There is very little else to look at there.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Everything that happens will happen December 12th

David Byrne is performing at the Tampa Theatre on Friday, December 12th. The other night, I sent him an email in which I said:

Hi David, I'm looking forward to your show in Tampa on December 12th at Tampa Theatre... I've been a fan of you and your work for a long time but have never had the opportunity to see you perform live so this will be a very special
occasion for me. Speaking of special, Tampa Theatre itself is a pretty remarkable venue. It originally opened in 1926 and still looks almost exactly as it did then. I've visited lots of old movie theatres and they're always great,
but Tampa Theatre is truly unique. I know concert tour schedules are extremely
hectic but I hope you'll have a little bit of time before the show to look around and see for yourself. Here's a link with the history and a few photos.

Take care,Clark

He has yet to reply, but here's what I see happening as a result:

The house lights go down and David Byrne and his band take the stage. As the applause dies down, he addresses the crowd. "Before we begin, I'd like to take a second to thank someone who took the time to extend me an invitation to explore this wonderful venue, which I did. Is Clark Brooks here?" I stand up and a spotlight hits me. I wave shyly. "Come up here, Clark, please", David says. I walk up to the stage and he says "Clark, I really appreciate you telling me about this fantastic theatre and making me feel so welcome in your town. This bass was played by Tina Weymouth in 'Stop Making Sense'. I'd like you to play it tonight and keep it afterwards...if you want." The crowd applauds and I strap it on. "Gee", I say, "this incredible. I don't know if I..." and then start plucking out the bassline to 'Psycho Killer'. The band falls in and we sound amazing. We play for two solid hours with three encores, one of which is the entire 'Rei Momo' album. The crowd is euphoric, their lives chaned forever by what they've witnessed. The post-show reviews are even more enthusiastic, with the St. Pete Times' Sean Daly gushing (literally) "Forget tears; I was moved to orgasm". Rolling Stone writes a feature about it. Barack Obama is quoted as saying missing the show is the first disappointment he's had to deal with since the New Hampshire primary.
David invites me to fly back to New York with him after the show to meet his artist friends, many of whom are exotic brunettes with impossibly long legs. I do so and become an immediate sensation in the New York art world where my frustration with my inability to exists as even a marginally capable or slightly significant human being in any way in modern society is taken as 'wry and satirical socio-political meta-commentary' and 'kinda cute'. Later that day, David pleads with me to stay in New York, offering to help me establish a place in which to live and be creative but I refuse. I put my hand on his shoulder and say, sadly, "Home is where I want to be/Pick me up and turn me round/I feel numb - born with a weak heart/(So I) guess I must be having fun/The less we say about it the better/Make it up as we go along/Feet on the ground/Head in the sky/It's ok I know nothing's wrong . . nothing." He nods and says, "you know, when you put it that way, in song lyrics I wrote almost thirty years ago, I understand perfectly what you're trying to say." "Besides, Dave", I say, "I can't live in New York. I hate the fucking Yankees." We embrace warmly, he says "don't call me Dave", and I'm home in time for that night's episode of Conan (who had also been at the party the night before). But I accidentally leave the bass behind at David's place and am too embarrassed to ask him to send it to me.
Damn it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New holiday

I am hereby proposing a new holiday: "Don't Kill Somebody Day". This would be the easiest, most stress-free holiday ever. No cards, no gifts, no cakes. Ok, people like cake. We can have cake if we want. But we don't have to. The really important part is to get as many people as possible to spend a day without killing somebody. Doesn't that just sound nice? Good for the soul, good for the environment, good for the economy (I guess). I don't have a date in mind. It really doesn't matter that much. How's next Thursday look? Why not tomorrow? Did you kill somebody today? Well heck, then today is as good as any. See how easy this is? You may already be participating in this brand new holiday and not even realize it! If you're still not sure how this works, check out the FAQ below:

  • I didn't kill anybody today. May I have some cake? Hey, good for you! Yes, by all means, have some cake! That's what we're talkin' about, people!
  • I thought about killing somebody today, but I didn't do it. That's great! You are definitely in the spirit!
  • Yeah, but I really wanted to kill this person. I'm not sure I deserve cake. Of course you do! You didn't do it! Perfect!
  • Umm, I was lying. I did kill somebody today. Uh-oh. That's not good.
  • So I guess I'll just put this piece of cake back. Well, you already have it and it looks like you took a bite so go ahead. But try to work on that for next year, ok?
  • You're almost out of cake back here. You know, like I said before, cake isn't really supposed to be that big a part of it...
  • What if I kill somebody every day EXCEPT for today? Well, wow. That's really know. Wow.
  • What if it's my job to kill somebody, like I'm a hitman? Do I get the day off from work? Yes.
  • Will the banks and post office be open? Yes, I think so. Banks, probably. Post office, maybe not. I'm not sure.
  • How about schools? Schools will definitely be open.
  • I'm a teacher and that's bullshit. How does a hitman get the day off but I have to work? I hadn't thought about that...
  • I just heard there was free cake. Where is it? I would kill somebody for a piece of sweet, delicious cake! That's entirely NOT what we're going for here.
  • The cake is all gone. Who should I kill about this? Back to work, everybody.

Friday, November 07, 2008

O Tannenbaum

I put my Christmas tree up today. Partially because in the spirit of giving, which is what the holiday season is all about, I like the idea of giving people driving by a reason to flip out: "Would you look at that? Some freak already has their Christmas tree up! Unbelievable!". Yeah, I know you still have Halloween candy left. I know Thanksgiving is still weeks away. I hear you out there. And I love it.

A bigger part of it, though, is that I've decided to really get into Christmas this year. Being of good cheer. Peace on earth. Good will toward men. Eggnog. Mistletoe. Frankincense and Myrrh. All that shit. I'm on it this year!

Check it out, I got the tree. I got music. I got no place to go or nothing to do on The Big Day itself, but I can jump off that bridge when I get to it. Who cares? I happen to like Chinese food!

Lastly, I just like to look at Christmas lights.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Election ()math

That would be "aftermath" everywhere else, but not here in Hillsborough County. That's right, while everyone else is taking down yard signs and eating the last of the Tuesday night party leftovers, we in Tampa are still counting votes.
What do you want from us? Counting is hard! You get going, you're up to a couple thousand, some dick comes in and starts talking to you, now you forget whether it was 10,958 or 10,985 or just what the hell was going on so you have to start over and, well, one thing leads to another...We should have final results for you, oh, some time on Friday, maybe. Hopefully. I don't know. We'll see. We're working on it. Yes, we...might?
Since the inability to count votes in Florida is a common occurrence, it hardly bears mention when it comes to making note of what happened during this election. Because in developments elsewhere...
  • It would appear that the youth did, in fact, finally, Rock The Vote.
  • Somebody (CNN) finally harnesses actual Star Wars technology and nobody can come up with a better use for it during possibly the most culturally significant moment in the history of our nation than to interview the guy who gave us "My Humps"?
  • I got in a little bit of trouble at a party I attended when I didn't participate in a champagne toast after Ohio was projected. Sorry, but it wasn't that long ago that I sat in front of my tv watching some of the very same people make some premature announcements regarding projected results.
  • Secret Service got an early start on protecting the president elect when a man who had previously threatened to castrate Barack Obama was spotted trying to gain entrance into Grant Park in Chicago to hear the acceptance speech.
  • I thought McCain's speech was a remarkably classy display. It made me sad that we didn't see more of that during the campaign itself.
  • Overall, I was disappointed with the acceptance speech. Not the content, which was excellent. But at the conclusion, I thought Obama would take flight from the stage and soar over the crowd while pooping golden nuggets. Or that they'd at least set off some fireworks.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I did my thing

  • I wake up this morning at 6:00 in order to get to the polling place before it opens at 7:00. I immediately reconsider this option and reset the alarm for 7:00.

  • I get up, get dressed and drive over to the church where I vote.

  • Holy shit, there's a lot of cars here! Oops, sorry. Forgot I was at a church. Holy crap, there's a lot of cars here!

  • There are cars parked all over the lawn behind the church. Figuring the lot must be packed, I navigate through them and the trees in the yard and park myself in the first place I can find where I'm not blocking someone else's exit or potentially pinning myself in, happy to have found a spot at all.

  • On my walk over to the church, I see no fewer than 15 open spots in the paved parking lot, right by the door. Will this just be the first of several impulsive, poorly considered decisions I make today? Sadly for America, probably not.

  • I predict that participation for this election will be 100%. Because 100% of all the people that are in line to get into the church and vote are all here.

  • A volunteer says the first person in line was here at 4:30 in the morning. That's just nuts. She says, "I think she thought we opened earlier than we did". I take it back; that's just idiotic.

  • There is a woman with a windbreaker and goofy looking running shoes who insists on engaging every person who speaks in conversation. When an 18-year-old African American woman (voting for the first time) observes that there has been a lot of political advertising on television during the last month, goofy shoes condescendingly responds, "Watchu talkin' 'bout, girl? It's been like that since, like, January. Shoot!". See, this is exactly the kind of thing that allows me to become instantly familiar enough with someone to form an intense hatred of them.

  • There's another person here that I've never met but I still know. He's the jovial volunteer. His name is probably Jim and he's actively involved in all church activities and is doubly psyched to be a part of this activity. He probably got here first this morning and will be the last one to leave tonight. He owns a truck and is always the guy tasked with being in charge of hauling chairs, tables, garbage or today, cases of bottled water ("being in charge of" means "mostly doing it himself"). He is perpetually cheerful no matter what. But nobody is allowed to be annoyed by him because that would guarantee you a spot in hell, plus nobody wants to alienate the guy with the truck who doesn't mind doing all the shitty jobs. Sorry, I meant crappy jobs.

  • There is a table full of muffins, donuts and coffee up ahead and I am eagerly anticipating getting up there. However, they seem to be calling people into the church in groups of six or eight so the line surges forward several feet at a time. I'm worried that I will be just out of reach of a delicious muffin and then the line will surge and pull me right past the table. I'm here to help decide no less than the fate of a nation and I'm anxious about the accessibility of free pastries.

  • Several times a volunteer (who looks exactly like Eugene Levy) comes out of the church and asks for people whose last names begin with H through O to come inside. Once I get inside, I see that the A-G and P-Z lines each have at least 25 people in them but not one is in the H-O line. The entire time I'm there, not one person gets in that line. No Johnsons, no Jacksons, no McAnythings? That is seriously weird. I revise my earlier projection to 66% participation, since 1/3 of the population has apparently been abducted.

  • If anybody has ever gone to a Tampa Bay Lightning game, they have certainly seen the big bald guy who sits in section 120, wears sleeveless skull t-shirts and comes down to the glass to scream at the visiting goalie midway through the second period every single home game. Well, he is here voting at my precinct. I was able to recognize him because he was wearing what he wears to the games. This means that he lives in my neighborhood and he dresses like that all the time. This disturbs me deeply.

  • I get my ballot and go to one of the booths. We're supposed to fill in circles with felt tip pens? What the hell?!? I know we're not doing the stupid punch cards any more but what happened to the computers? There's nothing stopping me, or anyone else, from voiding the ballot by filling in ALL the little circles. How many thousands of times is that going to happen today? This could be bad.

  • I had prepared myself by studying up on all the issues, and I think I did a pretty good job, but amendments that look like this

    Amendment 4: PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION OF PERPETUALLY CONSERVED LAND; CLASSIFICATION AND ASSESSMENT OF LAND USED FOR CONSERVATION Requires Legislature to provide a property tax exemption for real property encumbered by perpetual conservation easements or other perpetual conservation protections, defined by general law. Requires Legislature to provide for classification and assessment of land used for conservation purposes, and not perpetually encumbered, solely on the basis of character or use. Subjects assessment benefit to conditions, limitations, and reasonable definitions established by general law. Applies to property taxes beginning in 2010.

    still make my brain hurt.

  • I am done and out of there by 8:00. I got my sticker and am on my way to collect my freebies:
    Krispy Kreme: free star-shaped doughnut with sprinkles.
    Starbucks: free tall (small) brewed coffee.
    Cafe Hey!, 1540 N Franklin St.: free small coffee.
    Chick-fil-A: free chicken sandwich.
    Fish Tales Seafood House 1500 Second St., St. Pete: free 16-ounce Presidente beer
    Shane's Rib Shack: free three-piece chicken tenders, fries and a 20-ounce drink.
    Tour de Pizza, 212 37th St. N., St. Pete: free slice of cheese pizza.
    Ben and Jerry's: free scoop of ice cream between 5pm and 8pm.
    The Improv: $2 off admission to the Improv's Post Election Comedy Night, 8 pm Wednesday.
    Look at that! The economy is already improving!

Monday, November 03, 2008

The endorsement

I am a registered independent. This means I get to vote for anybody I want. By declaring myself unaffiliated with any established political parties, I don't have to vote for any of their candidates if I don't want to. I realize this freedom applies to all registered voters, regardless of their affiliation. But still; I'm an independent.

Friends point out to me that this means I'm ineligible to vote in primary elections. This saddens me about as much as being informed I'm ineligible to watch preseason football games. I hold out until the games really count for something. And since tomorrow is the Superbowl, World Series and Olympics (winter and summer) of elections, it's time this blog joined most of the other major media outlets and made an official endorsement...

The Ridiculously inconsistent trickle of consciousness hereby endorses Barack Obama for president of the United State of America.

Isn't that right, A short conversation?

"I don't know. Is it?"

"Yes. It is"

"Okay then."

How about you, Gratuitous pluggery?

Check this out, ladies! Gratuitous enough for you? Click the pic for even more awesomeness!

What say you, True life?

Yes, we're looking forward to the Barack Obama presidency. Almost as much as we're looking forward to not getting any more pre-recorded phone calls from senators, governors, congressmen and their assorted family members. But not quite as much as we're looking forward to people dialing down their level of fanatical zealotry that's been boiling over on both sides since this campaign began. Good god, folks.

Fantastic! And Short fiction?

From the top of Mt. Rushmore, Barack Obama surveyed the battle raging below. Hostile forces of a truly demonic nature were advancing, threatening to overrun the American defenses and destroy The Greatest Country On Earth. "It is time", he said. "Time to summon my secret army". As he raised the mystical amulet above his head, rays of sunlight caught the crystal within and emitted a supersonic beacon which could only be heard by all of the owls in teh whole world. "Caw! Caw!", said the owls, who also speak crow, so as to throw off the hordes of wily giraffes who had test the mettle of the new president.

Great! Let's hear from Show biz...

I'll bet if a small town community theatre company did a play about Barack Obama, they would enthusiastically recommend that I audition just so they could eventually cast me as "Nonspeaking walk-on #2".

Lastly, how about Rant n' Roll?

Look, normally I'm not someone who believes that simple answers are appropriate responses to complex problems. But I know that personally, my overall quality of life has declined steeply during the last eight years and I honestly don't know anybody who can say otherwise. Change is not just an option, it's an imperative. McCain is a product of the party that has been in charge while everything has slid rapidly into the crapper. If the Republican party were a lawn service, you'd at least wait to see if anything could grow again in the earth they salted before you'd call them back to trim your hedges. I have no doubt McCain is a decent man who means well, but in spite of all rhetoric, he's done nothing to demonstrate that he would do anything differently than the current outgoing administration. And if the entirely knee jerk, reactionary appointment of his running mate is any indication of decision making under fire, well...

Meanwhile, Obama, who could have sat back and ran on the strength of just not being a Republican, instead has demonstrated confidence, initiative and creativity by proposing actual plans for change that make sense and sound like they could work.

So there you go.