Sunday, October 31, 2010

A month off...sorta

I am going to participate in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, which begins tomorrow, November 1st. What is NaNoWriMo? Well, here's the official description:
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.
Why am I doing this? I have an idea for a novel that I'd like to get started on. As mentioned in the description, this process forces you to focus on creating content and ignore editing and other fine tuning aspects of the writing process that can be daunting and ultimately crippling. So the goal is to wake up on December 1st with a big, misshapen lump of words that needs a ton of tweaking, work that can be done at a more orderly pace. The point is to hurry up and get that lump of words and then figure out what to do with it.

In the meantime, I have to "work" my regular "job" as well as keep up my obligation as contributing editor with SB Nation Tampa Bay, not to mention all the day-to-day madness that occurs as part of "life". Something's gotta give: this blog. Posting here is liable to be less frequent and certainly not as lengthy (stop applauding, least sit down). Having to crank out 1,667 words a day for NaNoWriMo doesn't leave a lot left over for the ol' Trickle. Sorry.
But please don't stop visiting; I am not shutting down!! There will still be content here, as much as I can produce and as often as possible...and there might even be a surprise or two.

So Happy NaNoWriMo. Wish me luck and I'll see you real soon!

PS: If you're participating in NaNoWriMo, please feel free to connect with me via the web site. I'm Clark_Brooks there.

Happy Halloween!

Believe it or not, I have only ever written one actual "joke" in my whole life. I've trotted it out here before but it is as Halloween-appropriate as a naughty nurse's uniform so here it is:

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Ow who?
Werewolves of London!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Last minute Halloween help for parents who might be freaking out

Fortunately for me, I don't have any effeminate characteristics, so I will be dressing as Lady Gaga. Again.

The funniest fundraising pitch you'll see...until I get my Relay For Life campaign going again

Man, I'd be so much funnier if I knew some celebrities.

Foreign Art Cinema Appreciation Corner

As I've matured, one of the things I've learned is not to ridicule foreign cultures. I don't know their history. I am not familiar with their customs. I have no idea what influences their tastes. There is no way for me as an outsider to understand the context under which a piece of art is created and appreciated. And so, I present the following without comment.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I approve this brilliant idea

I like to think that I'm a marketing genius. Marketing is basically making people want stuff they don't need. That's easy. Human beings are predisposed to do that anyway. Look at the stuff cluttering your surroundings right now and tell me I'm wrong. It's like gently nudging someone standing on the edge of a cliff who climbed up there to jump anyway. The only challenge is finding a way to stand out and draw attention away from your competition. So if you're even slightly creative, being a marketing genius is not that difficult.
If I worked in the political arena, where I would apply my marketing genius is in conveying a consistent message. *GASP! WHAT A CONCEPT!* No, not on issues and such. Who gives a shit about that? I mean in public presentation. What you have right now are words and images that don't gibe. Nasty accusations and character assaults delivered with warm, flawless, toothy grins. Like this: 
"Die, blood-sucking corporate douchebag"     "Up yours, Maoist."
This is disingenuous and deceitful behavior and it's no wonder why the public doesn't trust these people. So all I would have to do to stand out from my competition would be to remain consistent in my message and demeanor. Now, I could advise the candidate to follow the mean and nasty path, which would be fun and make for good tv, but I'd probably go the other way and one of our ads would sound something like this:

"Hi there. As you know, I'm running for _________ and I'm seeking your vote. My opponent and I have fundamental philosophical differences of opinion but I don't believe that makes them a bad person. In fact, I think they've had some good ideas and done solid work over the years. If nothing else, they should be commended for their commitment to public service. I would never demean or insult their character, or yours by extension, since so many of you support them. I just believe that I have some new and better ideas and that I'm better suited for the job at this time, that's all. 
Since it's impossible for any reasonably intelligent person to form an educated opinion on complex issues based on a sixty second television ad, I'm not even going to make an attempt to influence you to do so now. Instead, I'd like to invite you to check out some of my ideas and proposals when you have time to do so without the distraction of a ball game or talk show or whatever program this particular ad is airing in the middle of. You can visit my web site or even stop by my campaign headquarters, whatever's best for you. If I happen to be there, I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have."

Okay, I got carried away and lost any semblance of reality with the second paragraph but you get the general idea 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Come and knock on our door...

Something strikes me as odd about the whole Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill/Virginia Thomas thing that blew up last week...

Why in the hell does Virginia Thomas have Anita Hill's phone number? 

Somebody I mentioned this to said that she probably kept it because she never got over her hurt feelings around the relationship between her husband and Ms. Hill when those two were introduced as America's Sweethearts 19 years ago. Well, maybe. But I believe that 19 years is exactly the maximum amount of time that someone should be allowed to be pissed off about something before getting over it. Think about it: when you were 19, were you still upset about whatever it is that bothered you when you were an infant? You probably didn't even remember being upset. You were though. Ask your mom. She has pictures (and they're adorable). Yes, 19 years should be the statute of limitations for getting over stuff because if you can't resolve hurt feelings in the time that passes between conceiving a child and the day that child is old enough to serve in the armed forces, there's something wrong with you beyond whatever hurt your feelings (exceptions to this statute would be slavery, the Holocaust and having European settlers steal your continent, because they're kinda culturally grandfathered in at this point).
Besides, I'm less concerned with why she has the phone number now than I am about why she had it in the first place. All I can picture is an awkward conversation while waiting for an elevator at the Supreme Court hearings:
"Well, that was...weird."
"Listen, uh, I..."
"Nothing! I didn't do a thing! Look, I'm way over here! Geez! What?"
"Oh, sorry...I just thought you were going to say something..."
"No! Well, nothing...important, or anything. No big deal."
"What is it?"
"I was just know, if you want...we could, you know, keep in touch or something."
"I mean, we have a crazy history, you and me. Shared experiences and stuff..."
"I don't know. No big deal. Forget it."
"Clarence, what would your wife think about that?"
"Ginny? She's down! In fact, it was her idea!"
"Oh yeah! Totally!"
"Well, I guess that's not strange or anything then. Sure, here's my private phone number."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another self-imposed hiatus. Sorry.

Right now, I am part of a group of people I despise: pet owners who can't honor their commitment (SPOILER ALERT: If you're somebody who has never loved a pet, you're not going to be able to relate to anything that follows so just stop reading now and spare me any "they're just animals" sentiment, okay? Thanks.). The kind of people who get a dog or a cat because they looked cute and then once they find out there's work involved, they give up and abandon the animal. I'm one of those people now.
The reason why is stupid and complicated and not important to the story, but I have to give away my pet cats. Soon. By the end of the month. I found out just under a week ago and since then I've been negotiating, begging and trying to come up with options and I have failed. And that's the bottom line: I've failed. I've had these cats for a very long time, their entire lives basically. Over that time, I committed to their care and keeping and now I'm just abandoning them. What kind of person does that?
I'm sick over the whole thing right now, on a lot of different levels (rest assured, I am thoroughly hating myself, so that's covered). Mostly I'm anxious over finding a place for them to live. There are horriffic stories about things that happen to domesticated animals, particularly cats, particularly around here, these days. How can I possibly make sure no harm comes to them? I can't. That, aside from sadness and loneliness I'm already feeling even though they're still here, is the most difficult
Anyway, this issue currently dominates my mind and is inhibiting, among other things, my ability to share the kind of stuff I normally share here so I'm going to need to take a break from posting here until it's resolved, whatever that eventually entails. Like I said, if you've never loved a pet, you won't be able to relate, but I hope you at least understand. Thanks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The The

Does the message on this billboard appeal to you? Does it make you want to listen to that particular radio station? If so, that's fine, but just be advised that it might mean you are an elderly person. "Why?", you ask. "Because I don't like rap or hip-hop or whatever it's called? Well, excuse me but I like real music. That doesn't make me old or elderly or whatever you said. The only thing it means is that I have taste.So why don't you just stick it up..."
Hey, relax!! That's not why I'm saying it (even though your reaction was exactly the kind that an elderly person would have). It's not the word "rap", it's the word "the". Elderly people have a habit of assigning an unnecessary "the" to things that are foreign to them that they don't care for or understand. Examples of things the elderly have feared/disliked/mistrusted where they've used the superfluous "the" to establish a distance from that which makes them uncomfortable and express a reluctance to establish familiarity:
  • "The rock and roll" (as opposed to "rock and roll")
  • "The crippled" (disabled people)
  • "The Twitter" (Twitter)
And so you don't want to listen to the rap? Suit yourself. Don't listen to the rap, old timer.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Boo! (I mean that in a good way)

Get it? Scary + carrots? Haw haw!
 I have long been an advocate of handing out vegetables on Halloween. There is nothing like the look on a young trick-or-treater's face when you drop a bag of frozen peas or a can of stewed tomatoes into their sack of Fun-sized Butterfingers and Milky Ways...except for maybe their parents. I've been doing it for years and will keep on doing it because it will always be funny.
It's nice to see that some of the produce people have a sense of humor about their product as well:

A Bunch of Carrot Farmers and Bolthouse Farms, the people behind this summer's $25 million "Eat 'em like junk food" campaign from Crispin Porter + Bogusky, are launching Scarrots, a bag of 25 single-serve 1.7-ounce bags of baby carrots that are intended for distribution to trick-or-treaters --


I saw some of the "Eat 'em like junk food" ads, like this one, this summer:

Also hilarious, right? But are baby carrots really a suitable substitute for traditional junk food snacks? Well, I went out and bought some (point, marketing campaign) and ate them while doing some writing and I have to say...yes, yes they are. You can mindlessly stuff them into your mouth one after another and they're crunchy, they're sweet and, an added bonus, not even a little bit messy. I hate a disgusting, greasy, salt-crumb-covered keyboard, so as far as I'm concerned, they're actually better than amy kind of chips or popcorn or especially Cheetos. And that's not even factoring in the nutritional factors.
So anyway, yeah, I'm a big fan of baby carrots now (another point, marketing campaign) and in two weeks, the kids in my neghborhood will be too, like it or not.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Abandon all hope, and don't forget to punch out for lunch

If you're a manager, it's very important that you're capable of effectively communicating information to your staff. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. Email? Sure. Very modern! Memos? Absolutely. Proven effective! Face-to-face conversation? Hmmm, I'm not sure about that. How about the next best thing: a good old fashioned, hand-written message on a dry erase board displayed in the employee break area!

  • Well, of course you want the staff to know that you're concerned about their problems.
  • Well, of course you want them to address the situation promptly, utilizing the internal chain of command.
  • Well, of course you want them to become utterly dependent on you and establish the company as their sole benefactor by removing all hope that anyone outside of the company could or would ever advocate on their behalf or provide any assistance whatsoever.
Wait a minute, what now?
Oh okay. Just checking. Carry on.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Retro Comedy Reboot!

Classic is classic.
That's why things that are called classic are called classic; because they are!
You simply can not improve upon a classic.
But you can make it better!
That's what's behind the whole reboot craze in Hollywood; taking something that's already a classic and making it better by making brand new money off of it. That's why you have reboots of Robin Hood, The Pink Panther, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Star Trek, The Karate Kid, The Incredible Hulk, The Incredible Hulk and The Incredible Hulk. A reboot is different from a remake in that you're not really making anything at all, you're just updating something that already exists and infusing it with more style. And style = excitement.

Reboots take old stories...excuse me, classic tales...and update them to fit and appeal to a more modern sensibility. Because while the classics may be great for what they were (and they are!) this generation is far more hip, savvy and sophisticated and demands more "edge" from their entertainment.

Now, you might be asking are old movies and folk tales the only things that can be rebooted? Of course not! Anything can be rebooted; songs, movies, books (probably not books) and films too! What about old jokes? Yes! You betcha those old-timey chestnuts can be dusted off, buffed to a high shine, dressed in a leather diaper and sent out into the world to amuse the world all over again. See for yourself... 

ME: Why did the little boy throw his alarm clock out of the window?

YOU: I don't know. Why?

ME: Because he has severe emotional problems and is a borderline sociopath who should never, ever, under any circumstances, be left alone with people, animals or time-keeping devices. Where is he?

YOU: I-I don't know. I think he's upstairs, playing in his room.

ME: Oh God, you're home alone with him right now? Listen to me; get out of there. Now. Just leave. Don't take anything. Go to a neighhbor's house, lock the doors and stay away from the windows. And clocks. Go! Now! Call me once you're safe there.

YOU: ...

ME: Hello? Hello?? Are you there? Hello?!?

LITTLE BOY: I'm here, Clark...

ME: Gyaaaahh!

LITTLE BOY: Tick-tock, tick-tock...

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Loathe in an elevator

I like riding in elevators.
For one thing, an elevator is not stairs. Stairs are work. An elevator is a ride. It goes up and it goes down, slowly, and that's all. Like the low-stressingest thrill ride on the whole midway. Well, unless something goes wrong, in which case it becomes a hurtling steel box of death. Other than that, I mean. Or maybe it's more like a bus (also a hurtling steel box of death). The kind of bus driven by an invisible computer where everybody stands (that seems fair!) and there is music.
For another thing, I'm pretty good at it. When I'm in one by myself, going up, I like to stand right in the middle, my feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, arms akimbo with my hands balled into fists. Going down, my feet are together, knees locked, my arms are straight at my side, palms facing downward. I do this because when I'm in an elevator by myself, I like to pretend I'm wearing rocket boots and I'm actually flying (in slow motion) up or down in the building.
Again, that's when I'm by myself.
When there are other people present, etiquette demands different behavior.
  1. Act very shy and demure. When greeting fellow passengers, make slight eye contact with one or two other passengers but then IMMEDIATELY avert your gaze elsewhere. Maybe mumble "g'morning" if you're feeling particularly flamboyant but that's it. Model your behavior after that of an Amish debutante and you'll be fine. EXCEPTION: If you came running across the lobby and caught the elevator at the last possible second, you're allowed to seem harried but get it together quick. Apologize and say thank you for making everyone wait an extra half second and be embarrassed about what you've done until you get to your floor.
  2. Push the button for the floor you want to visit so the invisible computer knows where to go. If someone pushes the button for your floor before you do, don't just stand there. That's going to make the other person think you're either some freak who just rides around aimlessly on elevators or stalking them. I'm not sure which is worse. Both are bad. Instead, lean in as if you were going to push it...BUT DON'T! The message you want to convey is, "Ah. I need to go to the 7th floor, but if the fact that the button is now illuminated when it previously was not means anything, and I think it does, it appears that you do as well and have already pushed the button for BOTH of our sakes. I didn't notice that you did that, but since you did, well done!" Otherwise, you're telling that person that you lack faith in their ability to push a button. You think they're an idiot? You think you can push a button better than them, hot shot? Look, it's already lit up and everything. Why don't you just settle down. It's a call button, not an accelerator pedal. Relax. You'll get to the 7th floor just fine.
  3. For chrissakes, don't push all the buttons. What are you, 12? 
  4. Unless you're reasonably sure you can get out of there without anybody knowing you did it, in which case, rock on, because that is classic and hilarious.
  5. Once on, and all the appropriate buttons have been pushed, assume the rider position: turned around facing the doors, because even though you're going to be in there for a while and bells and lights will alert you when it's time to get off, it's important for some reason to be ready to leap right out in case the doors open with no warning at all. Also, be standing up (no leaning!), with your eyes fixed on the numbers as they light up. Look! There's 7. I'll bet 8 is next...DING! Yep! Just like I thought. And here comes...DING! 9! I knew it! I swear, I was going to say 9!
  6. If you feel you absolutely have to improvise and do something different than everybody else, Robin Williams, go ahead and study the certificate posted above the button panel. Lots of good info there. What kind of elevator is it anyway? Traction passenger? Okay then.  Who's the Secretary of Elevator Safety? Charlie Liem. All right. What's the approved weight limit? 3500 lbs. Hmm, we're probably okay. Hey, no smoking! There's no smoking in here! Anybody smoking? No? Good. WARNING: You're basically assuming the role of Safety Officer if something goes wrong. Sure you can handle that responsibility, Rip Taylor?
  7. Whatever you do, don't talk. No talking! Everybody has a lot on their mind. Plus, they're afraid of you. Who starts a conversation on an elevator? Perverts, that's who. And rapists.
  8. Do I even have to mention farting?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Klassic Kartoon Time!

This is great but may not be around long once the Kopyright Kops find out. So enjoy while you can!

Monday, October 04, 2010

First there was Relay, then there was The Race

I participated in the the Susan G Komen Florida Suncoast Race for the Cure Saturday morning. The weather was beautiful, Vinoy Park was packed and it was a great time. Our team came up just a wee bit short of hitting our goal but you can still contribute if you like, just click the link above. In the meantime, here are a few photos...
 You gotta start somewhere.

 This is our team, the LoveBees Lovers. There are a few holdovers from Team Daddy-O Alley Katz, but for the most part, this is a new band, playing new songs.

 And we're off! As in front... behind

 Part of this event involves decorating porta-potties. This one is ours. Let me tell you, there are better ways to make a good first impression on people then saying hello to them with a camera in your hand as they exit a portable toilet bright and early on a Saturday morning.

Orange slices: the perfect post-race breakfast treat.