Friday, April 30, 2010

Sex In The City pt. 2

Square footage may vary, depending on a number of factors, such as temperature.

Sex In The City pt. 1

Okay, if you say so...

You never know who you'll meet when you go out to eat

Wednesday night, I had nothing to do and I didn't want to do nothing. So I sort of spontaneously decided to take myself out for dinner to celebrate My Big Sale. I was downtown when I made this decision, I wanted to watch the Rays game and happened to have a gift certificate from Hattricks (an aside: How much do I love Hattricks? A lot! Tampa's best/only hockey bar, great food and even better service. I need to go there more often, gift certificate or not.). All the stars were aligned perfectly. Even more so when I pulled up right out in front and there wasn't another car on the street. Imagine my surprise when I opened the door and the place was packed. I'd forgotten it was game 7 of the NHL first round playoffs between Montreal and Washington (another aside: Way to go, Washington. You worked all season long to have the best record in the conference and earn the number one seed just so you could piss it away in the first round and play a whole seven more games than all the dog-ass teams who didn't even make the playoffs, like the Lightning. Way. To. Go.) and apparently everybody had either carpooled or walked. So as I stood there like a big, dumb, old, ugly idiot, all by myself, waiting for people to leave, I passed the time by alternately flashing back to being in school and the anxiety that would set in when I couldn't find a place to sit at lunch time (yet another aside: the whole time I was in high school, lunch every day for four years, I think I sat at a total of maybe three different tables. What is that all about?) and wishing at least one person at a table of what appeared to be lawyers who had obviously finished some time ago would just pitch forward onto the table, dead, so I could sit there (after they disinfected it or whatever first). Also, while standing there like a big, dumb, old, ugly idiot, all by myself, I decided that since it was so busy and I certainly didn't need a whole table and three extra chairs to myself, that if anybody asked to sit there with me, I would without hesitation say yes.
As it turned out, after I'd been seated (at the table the lawyers finally abandoned) for about 20 minutes, I saw a thing red-haired woman in overalls and about hundred tattoos looking around for somewhere to sit and finding nothing. She approached and said apologetically, "I'm really sorry to bother you, but we've been travelling all day and we're really hungry. Would it be okay if we sat here with you?" As I'd promised to the universe silently, I said sure and invited her and her group to sit down. Her name was Heather Luttrell and she was with her dad, Ralph, and their friend John. They're musicians and they were in town because the next day they were heading out on a cruise, playing with Kid Rock for a bunch of his fans on a tropical cruise. These music cruises are kind of a big deal in travel/entertainment right now. Fans pay premium prices for the privilege of travelling with their favorite artists and getting to see them perform in a unique and more intimate venue than normal. I looked it up and prices for the Kid Rock cruise start at $800. Heather has been doing this for a while now, having played on some Lynrd Skynrd cruises. I don't know why, other than the fact that they always have great stories to tell, but I love talking to musicians. And as we sat there, me keeping an eye on the Rays game, they entertained me with stories about vans breaking down, the struggles of artists trying to figure out how to make a living in the digital age (she has an album out on iTunes, 14 songs, $9.99. "That's not even a lousy dollar a song!") and especially her dad's colorfully descriptive tale of how two young ladies taught him what a "body shot" was. They were great, a lot of fun, and even though I hadn't heard her music, I was Tweeting by phone, telling people to check her out. As it turns out, she's really, really good...

They left and thanked me for sharing the table but I was the one who was glad they came. It was a very nice evening with very nice people.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Big D: A good day

“Every season has its peaks and valleys. What you have to try to do is eliminate the Grand Canyon.” – Andy Van Slyke

When you suffer from depression, you appreciate any day when things happen that make you feel really good because, well, if nothing else, it’s one day where you don’t feel bad. I had one of those the other day.

I was approached by a company looking for a script for a corporate training video and so I submitted a rough draft with the hope of making a good showing and possibly getting a gig out of it. To my amazement, they loved it so much that they bought it! I was astonished. Honestly, the best I had hoped for was that they would come back and say, “Yes, very nice, you’ve got the job. Now go back and polish this up and send it in again for another review.” Never in a million, billion years did I ever expect anybody to pay me for what I considered a rough draft. Of course, I was thrilled and flattered. Funny thing though; the script was for a training video to teach employees about gender discrimination and illustrated right and wrong behavior in an office environment and featured three male characters and one female. Since it was just a rough draft, I didn’t put a lot of work into character development, including the characters names. So I named them Mac, Dennis, Charlie and Dee after the main characters on my favorite show, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” which is all about wildly inappropriate behavior. Now I’m hoping that they shoot the script exactly as written and that at least one person sitting in a corporate training session someday recognizes the reference and has to stifle giggles.

Anyway, between that and the Rays winning (again), it was a very good day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A short conversation about coleslaw


"What's wrong?"

"There's a...a bone in my coleslaw."


"No kidding. And and weird."

"Not that weird at all. Have you ever seen how they make that stuff?"

"Sure I have. It's cabbage and carrots and mayo and vinegar. Why in the world would there be a bone in coleslaw?"

"You got your big food manufacturers, operating around the clock, trying to meet the nation's insatiable demand for coleslaw. The slicers are probably enormous, operating at extremely high speed, like jet turbines in facilities the size of the Astrodome. Then you get some overworked, undereducated operator, he's worried about making his mortgage payment and then he gets yelled at by the plant supervisor because they're behind schedule. He gets careless and the next thing you know, he loses a finger. Even if he tells somebody about it, which he might not, depending on the finger and how badly he needs his job, they're not going to shut down and dump out a whole enormous vat of coleslaw just because some jamoke screwed up and lost a pinky finger in it. And next thing you know, you find a bone in yours."

"Very, very, very little of what you just said sounds reasonable. And yet, I don't think I want to eat any more."

"Relax, man. It's just a chicken bone. I put it there when you got up to get me a napkin."

"Well, now I really don't want to eat it."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lodging options for those on a budget

Welcome to St. Pete Beach!
"Why yes, there IS an all-you-can-eat buffet!"

"Just look for our sign!"

Photos courtesy of K

Monday, April 26, 2010

It's almost like falling in Like

It's possible...not bloody likely...but possible that you haven't heard about the controversy taking place around a recently formed Facebook group whose followers (now over a million of them) like a joke that drops a less-than-subtle hint about praying for the death of president Barack Obama. Odds are, if you haven't heard about it until now, there was enough information in that last sentence for you to form an opinion one way or the other about the matter. But just in case you want just a wee skosh more background, here you go...

What? - A page on Facebook's web site, created using the "Groups" application, dedicated to this joke: "DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE (sic). YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH (sic) FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN." Apparently, the Lord also took the user's spellcheck and access to the Caps Lock key. But anywho. Facebook's description of the application's function says, "With Facebook Groups, you can join and create up to 200 groups. Groups can be based around shared interests, activities, or anything you like. The Groups application page displays your recently updated groups as well as groups your friends have joined recently." Facebook users can indicate their support or approval of a Group by clicking a button that says "Like" (formerly "Become a fan of"). The number of users who do this is stored and displayed on the Group's front page.

Why? - Because there's a page on Facebook's web site, created using the "Groups" application, dedicated to every goddamn conceivable (or not) concept imaginable, such as "I like strawberries" (25 Likers) and "I don't like strawberries" (6, unLikers) and even "I use my cell phone to see in the dark" (2 Groups, over 3.5 million Likers combined, and no, I'm not kidding). I'm willing to bet there's a Group titled "I wipe with my left hand even though I'm right-handed" and over a hundred people like it but I am not willing to look it up for you. Sorry.

No, I mean why does this exist? - Oh. Sorry. Well, either because people really, really, really think that joke is hilarious or they really, really, really hate President Obama (I have a feeling we all know which one is the case). And because they can. "While it may be considered distasteful and objectionable to some, the Facebook page in question does not violate our policies," said Andrew Noyes, Facebook's manager of public policy communications. That policy is as follows: "Note: groups that attack a specific person or group of people (e.g. racist, sexist, or other hate groups) will not be tolerated. Creating such a group will result in the immediate termination of your Facebook account." So while this Group does indeed mention "a specific person", apparently it's not considered "hate" or an "attack", presumably because it's a joke or a prayer or a joke of a prayer and therefor, harmless. Somebody should ring the idiots at the Westboro Baptist Church and let them know about this right away.

When? - This particular Group started on April 10th, about two weeks ago, and as I'm writing this, 1,094,824 registered Facebook users have gone on record as Liking it. Of course, while we're discussing "When", it should be noted that this isn't fresh material; hackers back in January got into Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's web site and posted "Dear God, In 2009 you took my favorite singer -- Michael Jackson, my favorite actress -- Farrah Fawcett, my favorite actor -- Patrick Swayze, my favorite voice -- Neda. Please, please, don't forget my favorite politician -- Ahmadinejad -- and my favorite dictator -- Khamenei -- in the year 2010." Maybe Carlos Mencia is behind it?

Who? - You mean who did it? Nobody knows. It was posted anonymously (shocker!) by someone who just listed a city (Marysville, Ohio) and zip code (43040). Although I suspect that it would be pretty easy to find out. Enjoy those tax audits, Marysville! Who's liking it? Over a million, possibly a lot more by the time you read this, angry and increasingly bent out of shape people.

Where? - All over the place, since Facebook is available worldwide and a public group like this is open to anyone who wants to participate. Although, taking into consideration how dominant Facebook is in social media traffic, while a million of anything is a lot, a million or so people participating in something like this isn't that big of a deal. Remember, more than twice that many people want you to know that dumb old light bulbs can kiss their asses as long as they have their trusty cell phone shining like a beacon in the darkness. But it's certainly enough for us to get upset about, so by all means, carry on.

What next? - The trial of public opinion has already begun and has already taken the track that all public discourse seems to follow these days: The plaintiffs cry foul, the defendants respond with "It's free speech" and "You started it", followed by several volleys of "Did not, Did too" before devolving into name calling, middle finger extending, placard waving, boycott threatening and nothing resolving. This continues until the next big thing rolls along in about a week or so.

That pretty much covers it. You're welcome.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blogging The Big D

This week, I was formally diagnosed as being severely clinically depressed. In case your mental health glossary is not handy, that's the especially bad kind. The Big D. The kind where, for example, a doctor may advise the patient to try to spend as little time alone as possible. That's the kind I have.
What happens is I go into these funks (that's what I call them) where I become mercilessly self-critical, focusing intently on any and all flaws and errors and talking myself into believing...not thinking, believing...that I am the most useless, unnecessary and insignificant so-called human being wandering around, wasting resources, good will and time while providing no value of any kind whatsoever to any people who actually matter. It gets to the point where I say, aloud, really horrible things about and to myself (like that last sentence, actually), tearing myself to pieces and reducing myself to a twitching bundle of raw nerves, hopeless, helpless and spending every available second lying in bed. These periods come and go without any real stimulus, at least that I can pinpoint. I'm always seconds away from it coming on or going away (as I write this, I feel like I'm on an upswing). Lately though, they come on more frequently, last longer and are more intense, which is what spurred the visit to the doctor.
The doctor recommended (along with the suggestion to hire myself a sitter) that I see a therapist. Two problems with that:
  1. I don't have the kind of insurance that covers therapy and don't have a lot of scratch laying around.
  2. I've tried therapy, more than once, and have never gotten good results: the first attempt ended when the therapist suggested I could get a discount in exchange for a hook-up for concert tickets. The last one ended before it started when I showed up at the office for my first appointment and found that they had moved, a fact not mentioned on their web site where I got the address (maybe I was wrong, but I took that as a bad sign). As a result of these interactions, I've come to view therapists the same way I view teachers (and some cops): It's a profession whose members enjoy a reputation greater than what's truly deserved because of the efforts of a few dedicated, concerned individuals who do amazing things on behalf of people who come to them for help while a majority of the rest of them are just coasting along in the wake. Sorry, but that's my experience.

The doctor suggested that the problem could be an internal chemical imbalance that could be corrected or at least aided with medication. I'm scared to death (ha ha!) of these new medications that seem to pass through the FDA with little more than a cursory wave of a rubber stamp as long as there is a long, horrific disclaimer about all the possible negative side effects, especially the anti-depressants that may increase thoughts of suicide (would Sears be allowed to sell a lawn mower that may very rarely cause the spontaneous growth of Poison Ivy? I doubt it). I'm not trying to make excuses for not getting treatment, merely listing my concerns and limitations.

So I agonized for a few days whether or not to write about the situation. It took a while because there are pros and cons to such an undertaking...

The Cons:
  • It's pretty personal and there are all kinds of things that can go wrong with putting deeply personal information out on the internet.
  • Who the **** do I think I am? Jesus, get over myself.
  • It's not very funny.

The Pros:

  • Maybe there's some therapeutic value in writing about it. Since I can't afford a professional to sit there and listen to me talk about myself, maybe this will suffice as a reasonable substitute.
  • If I'm going to be honest as a writer, with myself and an audience, it's kind of disingenuous to not discuss a condition that is pretty significant influence on me and my opinions.
  • Maybe it can help somebody else. I don't know. That would be nice though.

Anyway, I'm writing about it and I'll do it from time to time as needed/if necessary. I'm not doing it to hear "oh, poor baby" or "you're sooo brave". Fact of the matter is I'm (currently) incapable of accepting sentiment or praise like that anyway, which is a big part of the problem. I'll title and label any and all posts dealing with this topic with "The Big D", so if you want to skip over them and come back for the fart and dick jokes, you can. Go ahead. I won't mind and completely understand. Thanks.

PS: And special thanks to my pal Jane for giving me crucial, critical advice about doing this.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Urf Day

It's Earth Day, everybody. One day when we're supposed to act like the planet is not our own personal litterbox. So am I allowed to beat the holy living daylights out of anybody I see throwing cigarettes out of their car window today? No? Well, there's yet another flaw in the judicial system.

Check out this short film by my pal Kurt Zuelsdorf. Kurt does kayak nature tours in nearby Gulfport and as far as I can tell, he's Tampa Bay's Jim Fowler (the original reality tv badass). He's one of these people I'm associated with via Facebook that I would have liked to have met in real life. He also has a kick ass hat.

If you can't see the video here, click this link.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The freaks come out at night

At least at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach, they do. Every night, two hours before and two hours after sunset, the pier becomes a cross between a flea market and showcase for street performers. I've never had a chance to go to Key West (and it looks like I never will) but I guess this kind of thing is common down there and that's the vibe they're going for here.

Oh look, a banner that basically states everything I wasted a paragraph on up above. Great.

Here are the merchants plying their wares.

This is, uh, one of the...performers? I guess? As far as I can tell, he's known as The Alien Guy. I guess because the tip bucket attached to that apparatus has a picture of Paula White a space alien on it and says "Tip The Alien". I can't really describe what he does, so I'll just show you in this video...

Still don't get it? Me neither. My friends think it's cool. I find it creepy.

When you need a charcoal rendering of Barbra Streisand from the '60s or Elvis Presley or your own grumpy baby, who are you going to turn to? That's right, your friendly neighborhood sketch artist.

But if you're looking for something a little trippier, well, cross the sidewalk, man...

Can you, like, imagine how much cooler his art would be if he, like, didn't wear the oxygen mask, man?

Let's see what's for sale further down the pier. Trinkety trinkets, baubley baubles, spangly, dangly. Yes, yes, very pretty, very...hold the phone, Louise!

Look. At. That! Do you see it?!? Look closer!!

Ahhhhhhhh!!! It says Clark!! It says Clark!! Don't you understand? Since I was born, there has been a Holy Grail-esque quest to find some sort of novelty item with the name Clark emblazoned on it. My own family looked and looked but to no avail. They'd tell friends and relatives who couldn't believe such a thing to be true but their pursuits were for naught as well. Those people, baffled (and I suspect, bemused) at the notion, told their friends and family to keep an eye out during their own travels hither and yon. It became an exercise in mass futility with an ever-expanding circle of treasure hunters eventually fanning out across the globe in search of that one special thing just for that one special boy. But alas, no such item could be found. No bicycle license plates at Six Flags, no keychains at the Brookfield Zoo, no coffee cups at the Magic Kingdom. Until last Thursday, when I saw with my own two weary eyes, that for which I'd been searching my entire lifetime; a shell from a clam or a turtle or something. I nearly wept as I held it in my hand...and then put it down and walked away. Because while no price tag can be placed on the culmination of a lifetime's quest, I wasn't payin' $5 for some turtle shell nightlight.

If every artistic expression is just some form of imitation at this point, there are worse gimmicks to copy than this one:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I run with some talented people...

These are photographs my friend Kelly took in downtown Tampa the other day. She didn't set out looking for art, just happened to find some stuff that caught her eye.

I think she's a genius. She humbly disagrees. I've always defined a genius as someone who has an ability to make you see something in a way you had not considered previously. I think these pictures plead my case.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A rose by any other thorn, or however that goes

My name is fairly uncommon. I used to have a problem with that and resented my parents for being clever at my expense. They said I'd grow out of it and would come to appreciate having an uncommon name some day. As it turns out, they were right (so there's two points for you, mom & dad). I now not only appreciate my name, I actually like it. It's unique and serves me well for branding purposes.
Since it is so uncommon, it's also unfamiliar and unexpected to many ears that hear it the first time I say it. "Bart? Did you say your name was Bart?", "Mark, was it?" "Huhwhatnow, Art?". But usually, once we get past that, it's easy to remember.

My current full-time employment situation requires me to work a job where I have to wear a name tag. Here's the thing about name tags: Companies that make their employees wear them would have you believe that their intent is to form an instant bond of familiarity between the employees and their customers, that this makes interactions between the two more personal and that's really what the company is all about.
This is, of course, utter bullshit.
The purpose of a name tag is so there can be accountability brought to bear when one of the lower-downs fails to please a customer:
"Excuse me, I think one of your employees just meowed at me!"
"I'm very, very sorry ma'am. Which one was it?"
"I don't know...he had glasses."
"He should have been wearing a company-issued name tag. Try to think and remember what it said..."
"Ah yes, Bob. That figures. Again, I'm very sorry. That is unacceptable."
"Are you going to go over there and do something about it?"
"No need. 25 meters away? I can easily take him out from here..."
That's why companies make their employees wear name tags.

So of course, being the good, compliant, completely non-essential team member that I am, I was wearing my little company-issued name tag yesterday when three different times...THREE!...I was addressed face-to-face by customers as "Carl". Which led me to two questions:
  1. Just how mush do you have to care about the individual with whom you're conversing to completely disregard a friggin' sign that the individual is required to pin to their clothing?
  2. Just how good does it feel to have your lack of worth and complete insignificance validated by complete strangers?

The answer to both is about the same.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I'm a minister!

Most ads that pop up online don't merit much attention other than to make you shake your head and say "why?" (for some reason, Facebook keeps trying to get me to take advantage of fantastic coupon savings at restaurants in Los Angeles). However, the other day I saw this:

"Become a legally ordained minister. It's free! Perform weddings, baptisms, funerals and more"

Well, now that is something! I felt like I had to click it, if for no other reason than to find out what "and more" was. I wondered if it might be ritual sacrifice. I mean, I don't know that ministers do that kind of thing any more, or if they ever did for that matter, but if anybody does, who else would it be?

So I clicked on the ad and was re-directed to the web site of an organization called the Universal Life Church, where I got the details.

"You are about to legally become an ordained minister...Before providing information for ordination, please make sure you have complied with the following instructions:

  • Please only put your true and legal name (*nicknames will invalidate your ordination).
  • Please use only factual information in this serious religious rite.
  • Please double check your name and email address.
  • Please capitalize where appropriate, as this is how our records will show your ordination.
  • Submitting a fictitious name ordination under your animal's name, or submission without a person's permission is a fraud.

That was it. I kept waiting for the catch (as in, how much money I was expected to cough up) but there was none. They seemed to be a very easy-going organization that has ordained millions of people as ministers, like a McDonald's of spirituality, and their only concern appeared to be fake names. Sure, it was probably hilarious the first couple of hundred times that nullandvoids eating Doritos and drinking bong water submitted Mr. Bigglesworth or the Ninja Turtles for ordination but now they were kinda over it. That and correct spelling and punctuation. Well shoot, I can certainly get behind that. Anywho, long story short (and by 'long story', I mean waiting about a day and a half for an email from Modesto, California), with less effort (or scrutiny) than it takes to fill out a credit card application for the sake of getting a free beach towel at a hockey game, bing, bang, boom, I am a legally ordained minister! See for yourself:

This is to confirm that

Clark Brooks has been ordained as a minister of the Universal Life Church, Modesto, California. Date of Ordination: 04/07/10 by Kevin Andrews, Pastor

Your request for ordination has been processed and submitted to the Universal Life Church Headquarters in Modesto, California for recording. Please retain the above date of ordination for your records, as you may need this information in the future to fill out the various forms of the clergy...Ordination is for life, without price, and without question of your specific beliefs. You do not need to pay any tithe, donation, or offering of any kind, now or in the future.

Hell yeah! Oh, I did have to pick a title for myself from the list they provided, which is as follows with absolutely no embellishment from me, I swear:

Abbe, Abbess, Abbot, Ananda, Angel, Apostle of Humility, Apostolic Scribe, Arch Deacon, Arch Priest, Archbishop, Arch cardinal, Ascetic Gnostic, Bible Historian, Bishop, Brahman, Brother, Canon, Cantor, Cardinal, Channel, Chaplain, Colonel, Cure, Deacon, Dervish, Directress, Disciple, Druid, Elder, Faith Healer, Evangelist, Emissary, Father, Field Missionary, Flying Missionary, Free Thinker, Friar, Goddess, Guru, Hadji, Healing Minister, High Priest, High Priestess, Imam, Lama, Lay Sister, Magus, Martyr, Messenger, Metropolitan, Minister of Music, Minister of Peace, Missionary, Missionary Doctor, Missionary Healer, Missionary of Music, Missionary Priest, Monk, Monsignor, Most Reverend, Mystical Philosopher, Orthodox Monk, Parochial Educator, Pastor General, Patriarch, Peace Counselor, Preacher, Preceptor, Priest, Priestess, Prophet, Rector, Rabbi, Religious Preacher, Revelator, Reverend, Reverend Father, Reverend Mother, Right Reverend, Saintly Healer, Scribe, Seer, Shaman, Soul Therapist, Sister, Spiritual Counselor, Spiritual Warrior, Starets, Swami, Teller, Thanatologist, The Very Esteemed, Universal Rabbi, Universal Religious Philosopher, Vicar, Universal Philosopher of Absolute Reality, Wizard, Gothi, Gythia, Psychic Healer, Child of the Universe, Prince, Princess, Spiritual Healer, Saint, Pope

I agonized over this decision for nearly 15 minutes, making a short list of my preferences. Here are the runners-up:

  • Colonel - Didn't know this was a religious title and wasn't sure if they meant military or Kentucky Fried
  • Flying Missionary - Felt this would set people's expectations unrealistically high
  • Spiritual Healer - Ditto
  • Soul Therapist - Came very close to picking this one, as it fits nicely with my devotion to the grooves, both funky and smoove
  • Spiritual Warrior - Too confrontational
  • Wizard - Well, now that's just silly

Eventually, I just settled on Reverend. Classic and if it's good enough for Run of Run-DMC, it's good enough for me.

Anyway, now I'm ready to get to ministering. I'm looking forward to starting (and subsequently ending) conversations with the phrase "well, as an ordained minister, I believe...". But I really want to start committing weddings. Oh man! I'm not kidding. And I will work dirt cheap if you hire me (as in, let me attend the reception and get something to eat, take a trip or two to the open bar, maybe chat up some unattached know, minister stuff) to do your noop-it-alls (a friend pointed out that I could have just become a notary public and actually made some money at this...thanks for telling me now). Let me stress that THIS IS NOT A JOKE! Now that I am legally qualified to do so, I really want to officiate over people's binding matrimonial ceremonies. I'm not doing this to make fun of religion or people's beliefs. I am doing it to have fun with religion and people's beliefs, but not make fun. For what it's worth, where I stand religiously, when it comes to deities and dogmas, is that I'm enough of a cynic to believe that everything that happens can eventually be explained by nature or science but I'm also open-minded enough to believe that we don't have every answer to every question (yet). And until we do, all bets are off. In the meantime, I believe with all my heart that if everyone on earth did nothing else but follow the so-called Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", or "Don't be a dick", that every single one of our earthbound problems would end automatically and instantly. To that end, I do make a sincere, concerted effort to follow that principle in my own life. So like I said, I'm honestly not out to commit any kind of harm to that which people hold sacred...well, except in the case of performing gay weddings, which I will gladly do, because...well, the receptions will be fabulous...and it would make the Rush Limb-ites and Glenn Beck-erheads lose their marbles, which I would enjoy a great deal. Hey, I never said I was perfect, just that I'm a minister.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

If you can't take the heat...

I saw this in my grocer's freezer section (just like in the commercials!) and three things jumped out at me:
  • Mac(aroni...all the cool kids are saying "mac" these days. Try to keep up, grandma)
  • Cheese
  • Bacon

Why, those just happen to be three of my most favorite shades of awesome! And it's ready in under 30 minutes? What is not to love about this? Well, if I were Snoopy, I might have a problem with the manufacturer but as it stands, I should give it a try at home. But wait, let me read the instructions first...

Step 1: No problem. Although, if the people at food companies were totally honest, they'd factor pre-heating time into the preparation info on the front of the box. Everybody does this, though, so I let it slide.

Step 2: The clear film is an important part of the process with food like this. Sometimes they want you to leave it on, sometimes you take it off, sometimes you should poke some holes in it and sometimes you should open it up...but just a little bit. Clear film is tricky stuff. I'll bet the great chefs of Europe study it for years. I've mastered it so I continued undaunted.

Step 3: Now really, how many people have a professional grade food thermometer laying around their kitchen, honestly? Well, yeah, I do. Don't judge me.

Step 4: Here's the one that threw me; "product may be hot". If I put something in my oven for a half hour at over 400 degrees it had better still be hot two minutes after I take it out. Unless something is really wrong with my oven and/or my air conditioner. Since both of those things are currently in good working order, I passed. Sorry.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lights! Camera! Action!

It's become apparent that my life is just so doggone interesting that chronicling it with mere words and still photography just isn't enough. No sir, these are the kinds of high adventures and deeds of derring-do that need to be captured and preserved in motion pictures! Specifically, old-timey silent movies. Here are two such examples (produced, directed, filmed and edited by the dynamically talented duo of K & R*, with whom I am pleased to combine forces to create one truly dangerous trio) that are not featured on my IMDB page...yet.

The Laundry Lament (Yay! McNatt's dry cleaning!)

here to see it via YouTube)

A Pilgrimage For Hooters (Yay! Lynne Austin!)

here to see it on YouTube)

* If you look carefully, you can (sort of) see both of them in these clips.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ask for it by name!

I'm guessing it tastes like fruit. I'm going to take their word for it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Postcards from the past

Recently, my friend K scanned some photos for me. Among those were some postcards from the old House of David amusement park in my home town of Benton Harbor, Michigan that I picked up somewhere. Sports fanatics may be vaguely familiar with the House of David because thy sponsored barnstorming baseball and basketball teams way back in the '20s and '30s. I have very, very vague memories of going there because they shut down when I was little, some time in the late '60s or early '70s (same as the town itself). It was run by a religious cult that was just riddled with sex and money scandals, which I guess is pretty standard operating procedure for religious cults. But the park was a very popular tourist attraction in Benton Harbor's salad days. It's still there today, overgrown with weeds and buildings in disrepair. Here are the postcards that show it in it's prime...

Friday, April 09, 2010

Thursday, April 08, 2010

It's not just baseball season...

Yay! It's spring time! Baseball! Flowers! Exclamation points!
But a residual from all this springtime activity that isn't quite so exciting: allergy season. I live in an apartment complex that is absolutely infested with trees and they are generating pollen like the government is giving them money to do it. From what little I know about science, pollen serves exactly two purposes...
  1. To assist bees in making honey
  2. To assist your face in having red, itchy eyes and a nose that sneezes every 10 minutes.

That's it. If it isn't doing either of those two things, it looks for ways to get in trouble. Such as vandalizing cars. With so many trees and so few after school programs to effectively mentor them, every car in my parking lot is green and fuzzy like a tennis ball. Here are some pictures...

Piles o' pollen. I thought pollen was supposed to be microscopic. Maybe these are seeds or seed pods or something that serves as a pollen carrier. Or maybe our trees make chunky style pollen. I don't know. What I also don't know is how the lawn maintenance guys can come through here three times a week, running multiple leaf blowers for four straight hours at a time and there's still THIS MUCH of the stuff amassing all over the place. Ah, the mysteries of science and lawn maintenance.

Here's my car. From this angle, and by comparison to others, it's not that bad. You can sorta see a greenish tinge against the gray. But when you're sitting behind the wheel and looking out over the hood, it's like you're lining up a combo on a billiards table.

This car is black. Honest.

This car is green, but it's not normally THIS green.

Kinda gross, huh?


I saved the best (worst) for last. I should point out that none of these cars spend a great deal of time parked in the complex for days at a time. They're not abandoned or sitting up on blocks (although mine probably should be). These cars are driven by their owners every day, believe it or not.