Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year In Review

"That's some big, crazy, illuminated ball, fellas!"
What a year, it's been, huh? Crazy! If I could sum it all up in just one word, it would probably be that one: crazy. Because that's what it was: just so damn crazy!
Let's be like every other media outlet in the universe and take an in-depth look at every single thing that happened in the crazy year of 2010, a year that will surely go down as one of the craziest of the crazy.

The Big Issues: Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, "I am not a witch".
My analysis: Wow, that is cuh-razy!

The Big Issues: The war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan.
My analysis: One war is crazy, two wars is double crazy. Support the troops, people.

The Big Issues: "Inception", "Black Swan", "The Social Network".
My analysis: If you don't think those are some crazy movies, think again. Crazy, right? I know!

The Big Issues: Jon Stewart, Glenn Beck, Conan O'Brian, Jay Leno, the finale of "Lost".
My analysis: They should just go ahead and re-name it 'Crazyvision', because that's what it was!

The Big Issues: Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Beatles finally available on iTunes
My analysis: I still can't get over Kanye West upstaging Taylor Swift because that was two years worth of crazy.

The Big Issues: Bret Favre, Derek Jeter, LeBron James
My analysis: Whole lotta crazy goin' on.

The Big Issues: Vampire fiction and "The Handbook of the Writer Secret Society"
My analysis: We have more than enough angsty vampire books but if you don't buy "The Handbook...", guess what you are? (Hint: it starts with a "c" and ends with a "razy")

The Big Issues: Too hot! Too cold! What is the deal with the rain (either too much or not enough)?
My analysis: This front of high-pressure crazy is going to push through from the Rockies and is going to result in crazier than normal craziness with extended periods of crazy.

Haiti earthquake: It's crazy that so much devastation can occur in one place. When will we learn???
Winter Olympics: Man oh man, what the hell is Curling? Just the craziest damn sport ever, that's all!
Chile earthquake: Hey Chile, weren't you paying attention to what happened in Haiti? What are you, crazy or something?
Gulf oil spill: "Hey America, we want to drill a hole in the bottom of the ocean for oil with no plan on what to do if something goes wrong". "Hey BP, okay, but if you do we're going to put you in charge of fixing it". "Sounds crazy...I mean, me!"
World Cup: 'Vuvuzela' is South African for 'crazy horn'.
Chilean miners rescued: First an earthquake and now this? It's official; Chile is the craziest country of 2010!
Midterm elections: Florida elected Rick Scott as governor. On purpose. C-R-A-Z-Y and Crazy is our name-o!

The economy: Nobody's working so nobody can afford to buy stuff so companies that make stuff can't hire any workers. If you have a sharper insight than that as to what is wrong with the economy, I'd love to hear it, crazy person.
WikiLeaks: Ha ha! What a crazy name for such an apparently serious problem!

And now, to play us out, a video montage accompanied by somber music in tribute to some of the beloved celebrities we lost this year...

Happy New Year, everyone!
"Here's to another year of poor judgment and bad ideas, dollface"
"I told you, my name is Steve"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sometimes, justice is dumb

I'm a businessman and kind of a big deal so I have a lawyer on retainer. I retained his business card and will call him if and when I ever need some legalistic assistance (that's what that means, right?). I was very careful whan I selected my lawyer because there are some legal firms that I have no intention of dealing with, based solely on their name. I mean specifically the legal firms that list a person's name more than once. I do not care for that. You know what I mean. Firms like "Schwartz & Schwartz" or "Smith, Smith, Smith & Smith". This is a very stupid practice and one that is limited almost entirely to the naming of legal firms. If you ever walked into Dunkin' Donuts and said, "I'd like a medium coffee with sugar, sugar & sugar and cream & cream.", they'd call the cops on you.
My reason for avoiding legal firms that do this has less to do with it being dumb than it does with what I perceive as their skill level in mediating conflicts and settling matters effectively, which is the main reason anyone ever hires a lawyer...
"Well, we're all set to open. 'The Bartlett Law Firm'. Mom would be so proud! How exciting!"
"Yeah, sure, exciting for you maybe."
"What's the matter? You don't like the name? It's perfect! Simple, elegant, tells who we are and what we do..."
"Tells who you are and what you do. That's your name in giant letters. Nobody's gonna know a thing about me."
"What are you talking about? That's your name too. We're siblings. We have the same name."
"How is anybody supposed to know that? They just see 'Bartlett', assume it's you, doing great. Again. Where am I? Oh, probably huffing mineral spirits in an abandoned tenement building, as usual."
"Stop. That's crazy. For all you know, they could assume it's you and you're successful and I'm turning tricks behind the bus station to make enough money for a ticket to Jacksonville, except I'm really not interested in going to Jacksonville; I just like turning tricks behind the bus station."
"Well, see? Not such a nice feeling is it?"
"I guess you're right. So now what?"
"We're lawyers. We have law degress. We passed the bar exam. I'm sure we can figure out a way to solve this problem."
"Hey, I know!"

Friday, December 24, 2010

Buy the book: I'm a real, live author!

24 hours from now, I will be spending yet another holiday toiling away at my meaningless "job", performing unimportant tasks on behalf of an unappreciative employer in exchange for insultingly meager monetary compensation. But today, I'm gonna party like I'm David Sedaris! Because today, I'm celebrating the publishing of a book for which I was a contributing author!
The Handbook of the Writer Secret Society, edited by the brilliant Carrie Bailey of Peevish Penman Press, is available for sale as an ebook at and even overseas at (that means it's available in english and English!). What is it? Just like the title says, it's a secret handbook for writers!

"The Handbook of The Writer Secret Society isn’t a how to book. There’s nothing on prose, or character development in there. What it is, is a shot in the arm for anyone who feels their writing confidence flagging, or that they’re the only one out there struggling with their creative impulses." -- from a review by Andrew Jack
Here's a brief trailer...

Just to be clear, this is not the National Novel Writing Month project I worked on in November (that's months, years, decades from seeing the light of day) and this isn't entirely "my" book, in that I didn't write the whole thing. I contributed, along with Andy Livingstone, Tony Noland, L Bushman and JJ McConnachie. It was edited by Carrie Bailey and Winonah Drake. Here, I'll just copy and paste what I wrote...
Oops! I forgot, I can't do that. There are contracts and lawyers and everything. Sorry. I'm still a relative novice at this whole "publish-not-for-free" concept.
So anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, one and all!
(PS: You know what's a great last-minute gift idea? An ebook. Just puttin' that out there)

I hope the sign company gave them a discount

"Wow, this place looks great! Let's take a peak at the menu...hey, who turned out the lights?"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Just one more thing we're going to have to explain some day

Some day, in the not too distant future, young people are going to come to us and ask why anybody ever thought the whole "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was ever a good idea. I am not looking forward to that day because I don't enjoy talking to young people now and I doubt that's a condition that's going to get better as I age. I'm also pretty sure I'm not going to have a very good answer.

25 years from now...


"Yes, Joey?"

"We're studying history in school and learning that there was major controversy surrounding gays serving in the military."

"Yes, that is true."

"And why was that the case?"

"It's like this, Joey. You know how a man and a woman can love one another and become a daddy and a mommy? Well, sometimes two men or two women will--"

"I know what homosexuality is, grandpa. I'm 8, not stupid."

"Wait...if you're 8 and I'm your grandfather, then that means your mom or dad would have to have been born some time around when I was dating...."

"Grandpa, please? I want to understand why people thought it would be bad to have openly gay people volunteering to serve their country by enlisting in the military. Surely it couldn't have been because of the widely-held perception of gay men being overly effeminate and therefor not fit to serve in combat."

"Well, uh--"

"After all, even if a ridiculous stereotype like that were a valid concern, most positions in the military are based in logistics or support and relatively few service members ever actually face combat. And what does that say about women who have served, and continue to serve in combat?"

"Yeah. Um--"

"It's also difficult to rationalize how Bill Clinton, widely considered to be one of the 20th century's most progressive leaders, would be responsible for implementing an obviously discriminatory and unconstitutional policy like 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'. What, out of concern for the safety of closeted gay service members? That's downright hypocritical in light of the country's previous struggles with civil rights issues that took place a relatively short time before. What am I missing here, grandpa?"

"Are you sure I can't just explain homosexuality to you instead? I'd really be much more comfortable with that."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Saving us from ourselves

Boy, these automated video rental kiosks are fantastic, aren't they? This one is at my local Circle K, right down the street from my apartment. I can pop in on my way home from "work", get some gas, a gallon of milk, pick up a movie to enjoy at home and be on my way. Cheap, conveniently located, great selection, easy to use...uh-oh! What just happened? 
Oh shit! No! I accidentally selected "Killers" with Ashton Kutcher! Shit! It's coming out. What am I going to do?!? 
*Whew!* Oh, thank goodness! That was close.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Help me get my muffin (and fight cancer)

I'm here today to appeal to your sense of justice and fair play and good ol' doing the right thing. I have been insulted, wronged, besmirched, defamed and deprived of my just desserts...and I mean that last one literally.

Some background:
  • is easily my favorite hangout in all of Tampa. I love everything about the place.
  • Tre Amici @ The Bunker in Ybor City recently named a sandwich ("The Hampton") after T. Hampton Dohrman, a regular customer.
  • Tre Amici @ The Bunker has named nothing after me, also a regular customer who is bigger than T. Hampton Dohrman.
  • This is T. Hampton Dohrman: "A musician-turned-accountant-turned-social-entrepreneur, Hampton works tirelessly to promote growth within the arts and cultural communities of Tampa Bay. At only 27, he has been lauded by alt-weekly newspaper Creative Loafing as an “inexhaustibly creative mind” and a “cultural crusader.” His work has already made a significant impact on the arts community." (from his bio at WEDU's "Be More" awards page, an honor for which he has been nominated and for which you can cast your vote right here
  • This is me: I write this blog.
In short, where the hell is my sandwich?

This was the question I posed to the proprietor, a Ms. Jessie Stehlik, via telephone call:
"Okay, for starters do not yell at me."
"Whatever it is, knock it off. Right now and I'm not kidding."
"I am prepared to hang up on you."
"I'LL TURN IT...OOPS, HOLd on...okay, I turned it off."
"Thank you."
"You're welcome. Now, where the hell is my sandwich?"
"Did you order a sandwich? I've told you a dozen times we don't deliver."
"No, I didn't order a sandwich. You wanna know why? Because I don't have a sandwich of my very own, like Hambone does (NOTE: I frequently refer to T. Hampton Dohrman 'Hambone'. I'm pretty sure he does not know this. Please do not tell him.). If I did, then I'd order it."
"Oh, you should try it! It's delicious!"
"There are limits to what I will or will not do--"
"I have yet to see any evidence of that being even remotely true--"
"I will not eat another man's sandwich! But you know what? I was down there today, and so was Hambone and he wasn't even eating his own sandwich! What the hell is that? You name a sandwich after the guy just so he can walk up to the counter and say, what, 'oh, yeah, my very own thanks...I'll have something else today'? I mean, what the hell is that?!?"
"Would you like a sandwich named after you?"
"How about a muffin?"
"A muffin?!? Hell no, I don't want some damn...what kind of muffin?"
"I don't know. We could come up with something. We should talk about it."
"All right. I'm going down there tomorrow. And I'm bringing the bullhorn."
"Oh please don't bring the--"
"Hey, let me ask you something; does this sound like I'm hanging up? "

I showed up there this morning...yes, I brought the bullhorn. And a protest sign.

"I'm not getting out of the car if you start yelling at me again through that thing."
"I explained to you yesterday how it works and that one doesn't yell into it. Besides, I left it on last night and the batteries are dead."
"Okay, good."
"Yeah, whatever. So about my muffin...what's up?"
"I thought about your muffin last night--"
"(giggling) I bet you did!"
"Stop it or I'm getting back in the car. I thought about...this muffin situation and I'm not sure I can justify naming one after you, just because you want one."
"What?!? Why not?"
"I think there should be a good reason."
"You just listed one: because I want it!"
"How is that a good reason?"
"This is a reneg, that's what this is! Classic muffin reneg! You're lucky my bullhorn isn't working. I'd be yelling 'Reneggers! Reneggers! Bunch of no-good reneggers!' so the whole neighborhood could hear it."
"You're going to be really glad later that didn't happen."
"This is so unfair!"
"Listen, I'm not saying no. I just think there should be some justification. I think it should be tied to some act of good and not just to appease your sad, selfish desire for attention."

I'll skip what happened next because it wasn't really all that interesting. Just some back-and-forth negotiation and brainstorming The end result of which is that the naming of the Clark Muffin at Tre Amici @ The Bunker is a full-on, green light, go. With one condition; that my campaign to raise funds for Relay For Life this year meets or exceeds a total of $1500. Is this buying my way into immortality-via-baked-good? Not really, as I won't be paying that sum: I'm going to lean on you people to do it!

So officially, starting right now, I am hereby kicking off my 2011 Relay For Life (and name a muffin after me) campaign! 
In case you don't know how this works, it's simple. You can make a donation via my page on the American Cancer Society's secure web site right here. If you'd prefer to send a check, that's fine too. Any amount you can spare is great, because every little bit helps. I'll take anything I can get. Absolutely 100% of it goes directly to the American Cancer Society. Additionally, there will be a donation bucket at Tre Amici @ The Bunker (it's in their best interest for this to be a success too, trust me) and lots and lots and lots of updates and stuff (including but not limited to emails, phone calls and text messages to some of you lucky, lucky people) over the coming weeks.
So please help me. You know I'm serious about defeating cancer. You know I'm serious about sweet and/or savory baked treats. You know I've never really expressed interest one way or another about having stuff named after me before, but I'm more than willing to be into it for the sake of a good cause. Let's make it happen!
My negotiating skills are not to be underestimated.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas, from my "other side"

Since starting with SB Nation Tampa Bay a few months ago (where I'm now a contributing editor, thank you, thank you very much), I've generally kept what I do over there separate from whatever it is I do over here. But I thought I would share this story if for no other reason than you might get a kick out of the video. So enjoy!
Wish Granted: How The Belfast Giants Saved Christmas

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Win Prizes! Fight Cancer! Be Fabulous!

It's that time of year again; time to ramp up the annual Relay For Life shenanigans. For the fourth consecutive year, I will be participating in the Temple terrace Relay For Life event as a member of Team Daddy-O Alley Katz (previously mentioned here, here and here). We're kicking off the season with what I think will be our best fundraiser yet...
Join us on Wednesday, January 26th, 7:30PM at Hamburger Mary's in Ybor City. $10 covers your Bingo (10 games, 30 cards and the use of an ink dauber). Our hostess will be the lovely, hilarious and charming Amy De Milo (mentioned previously on this blog here) and there will be a special appearance by the equally lovely, hilarious and charming Lynne Austin (featured previously on this blog here and here). It's going to be a raucous, rowdy night and we're hoping to raise a ton of cash. The proprietors of Hamburger Mary's donate 100% of the proceeds raised from bingo to our team, which means it all goes directly to the American Cancer Society. They can afford to do this because they make money off the food and drink, so come hungry. They have a full bar and a full menu. My recommendation? The Queen Mary Burger is outstanding. Hamburger Mary's also provides the prizes, and it's good stuff too. Bottles of wine, gift certificates. Definitely worth more than the $10 it costs to play.
Where else can you get a show, win prizes, hang out with fun people and fight friggin' cancer for $10? Nowhere, that's where! That's why you should join us!

Drag Queen Bingo, a Fundraiser for Team Daddy-O Alley Katz, on behalf of Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society
Wednesday, January 26th, 2010, 7:30PM
Hamburger Mary's, Ybor City
1600 E. 7th Avenue (2nd Floor)

You can RSVP (not necessary) via Facebook here or at BrandTampa here.

Of course, if you can't attend and still want to donate to the cause, I'll gladly take your most-appreciated donation right here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A new holiday tradition

I was thinking recently, what is this blog missing? What would make it better? What would enhance the overall entertainment experience for my loyal, discerning readers? I mean, aside from worthwhile, well-written content that serves some kind of purpose. The answer (aside from that whole thing) was obvious: an animated holiday special! Charlie Brown has one. The Grinch has one. The Simpsons have some. Even freakin' Garfield had one. Now I got one! This fills me with pride, joy and Christmas cheer and I look forward to years from now when people will tell me they grew up watching it year after year as kids with their families. The only snag is it's totally inappropriate for children, so there's that. Oh well.

BONUS CHRISTMASITUDE: By popular demand from RottenMom, here's this...
Merry Christmas! From me, my sweet-ass jacket and my watermelon slush from Sonic

Friday, December 10, 2010

My commencement address to the acorns (aka "Nature's law students")

Good afternoon, acorns. We are gathered here today, and there are so, so many of you gathered <pause for laughter>, to celebrate your future, which begins now. The world you enter today is a place of uncertainty. Technology, the economy and social structures are evolving all over the world, even as we speak, dramatically impacting us all. Well, not so much you, since you're acorns. Very few of those things will affect your futures in the slightest way, at least directly. As a result, your future has actually been pretty much determined well before you were born.
Now, while it's true that each and every one of you here today possesses all the necessary attributes it takes to become a mighty oak tree, it is also true that most of you will not achieve that status. This might seem like sad, sobering news...and maybe it is, to you. But not for the rest of us. In fact, we're kinda counting on it.
You see, oak trees are massive things. They're one of nature's most impressive creations. But they're so massive and impressive that we can't possibly accommodate all of your wishes to become one. Look how many of you are here on this tiny plot of land right now. Now look how many oak trees are already here, like the one you just fell from. There simply isn't the need.
Now take a look around at your fellow classmates: the odds are, thankfully, that they're not going to make it. Now look at yourself: neither are you, God willing. See, the system we have in place allows any individual to be successful, but can not sustain itself if every individual is successful. So not only does everybody not get to be an oak tree, almost nobody gets to be one. Sorry.
However, we do have squirrels that need to eat, as well as other wild animals, like raccoons. Do raccoons eat acorns? I don't even know. But I guess you'll find out. The lucky ones, anyway. Many of you won't even achieve the status of foodstuff for rodents. You'll be stepped on, run over by cars, washed down storm drains, rendered into pulpy mush. But you're completely bio-degradable and for that, we thank you. Stay green!
In closing, and to sum up, I just want to say that as much as we appreciate the majesty of a beautiful, soaring oak tree, what we really need from most of you, almost all of you, in fact, no, scratch that, I really mean every single last one of you, is to fail and fail miserably. I have no doubt that you will.
Thank you and good luck...but not really.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

This is one of my favorite things

Oh hi, Hammerin' Hank!
As I am having a far less shitty holiday season than I had anticipated (projections based on results of last couple of years), I decided last night to go ahead and put up a Christmas tree. It's loaded with baseball player and superhero ornaments...because I'm a 12-year-old. I realized I missed my old ornaments. It was kind of like finding lost toys. So between seeing them again plus my sweet Santa jacket (Oh, did I not mention that after a quest that took years, I finally acquired a Santa Claus jacket to use as my winter coat, not because I want to be Santa but just because I think his uniform is straight pimpin' or whatever stupid catchphrase the kids say these days? Well, I did. And it's everything I thought it would be and more.), I was feeling pretty festive, but not completely. I went for a drive with friends to drink hot cocoa and look at people's ostentatious Christmas light displays and that made me feel even more festivular, but still not completely. Something was missing but I couldn't put my finger on it...

Ah yes, now I have achieved full-on festividness!

And if Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and Fishbone don't get you into the spirit you're seeking, my sincere hope is that you find what does.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Something for hunters to think about

Interesting reaction. Mine, were I to ever find myself in a similar situation, which is highly unlikely, would be more like, well, something like this...

Friday, December 03, 2010

This happened, damn it

A few weeks ago, my phone rang around 8:00 AM. On the other end was a woman I know (I'll refer to by the fake name of Susan), mostly from working together off and on over the years. I guess you could say she's a friend. We're not close. She's not someone I would call at 8:00 AM. I still don't know why she called me. But regardless, she did. Obviously extremely upset, Susan told me that she'd gotten in a fight with her husband, an incident that she described as "the worst thing that's ever happened" in their relationship, and they've been together for over 15 years. She needed to get out, didn't have a place to go and asked if I would help. I said sure. I was able to arrange lodging for her and her two kids at a nearby hotel, making the reservation under a false name so that a desk clerk couldn't accidentally reveal her location if someone scouring all the local hotels were to call and ask for her. The next thing I did was got in touch with a couple of friends who I thought might be able to offer assistance.
It's odd the way things work out in life, in regards to the environment we create and the people with whom we surround ourselves. For instance, there's absolutely nothing in my work or educational background or even family history that would link me in any way to domestic violence. Yet through seemingly random social interactions over a period of time, through no conscious intent or manipulation, it turns out that I'm connected to a network of people who are ideally suited to deal with a situation like this, people who either work, or have worked for agencies that provide assistance or are one phone call away from somebody who is. I became friends with these people the same way anybody becomes friends with whoever they're friends with. Odd. But ultimately, even though it's a complete mystery as to why she called me, it turned out to be a pretty good idea. People who didn't know her or even the full details of her situation were volunteering to help in any way needed, all from one early morning phone call. It was amazing.
At some point, we looked up the husband's arrest record (which here in Hillsborough County, is extremely easy to do) and found a lot. Nothing relating to domestic violence or even any assault and battery but still, tons of bad stuff. My friends suggested that I be careful in my dealings with Susan, in light of what we found out about the husband. I reminded them that I have never been one to engage in any kind of reckless activity for the sake of proving I have a functional penis and that any perceived lack of fear on my part for my own well-being has less to do with any kind of false machismo than it does with the confidence that comes from the knowledge that I actually am extremely cautious and will take all possible steps to avoid dangerous situations. If I do end up in some kind of physical confrontation, it's only because it absolutely couldn't be avoided otherwise. I am a huge fan of calling the cops and do so all the time. That, and if I ever do have to fight, I won't hesitate to cheat and fight dirty.
I met Susan at the hotel and it was pretty obvious to me that there had been some physical violence. However, not being an expert (for all I knew, her face could have been puffy from a long night of crying), I asked if there had been and she said yes. I outlined for her all the assistance that this network of concerned friends of mine could make available to her. She said thanks and that at the time she just wanted to get some rest and think about what to do next, which seemed reasonable. She stayed at the hotel a few days and then left to tend to some family business out of state. I didn't hear from her after that. She didn't take me up on any of the options I had offered on behalf of my friends. So I called her yesterday to see what was happening.
She told me that she had gone back home, with her husband. They had talked about it, he was going to get counselling and in retrospect, the incident "really wasn't all that bad." It all sounded like a conversation you'd find in a script for some made-for-tv movie. I'm not an expert but I know these things rarely get better and I told her that. I also asked her to keep my number handy and not to hesitate to call me again if she needed anything, anything at all. She said she would and that she'd keep in touch. 
I hung up, sad and a little angry. Sad for her, angry at the universe. After all, what was the point of putting this whole thing in motion, with one person calling another person with whom they have a slight, tenuous connection, discovering that person just happens to have access to the exact right answers, only to have the first person not take advantage of those circumstances? Stupid universe. 
Somebody will try to say it's a small part of a bigger picture but I don't see it.

Anyway, if you're reading this and your situation is even remotely similar and you need help, whether you're a man or a woman, seek it out. Ask somebody. There are people who can and will help you. I'm one of them.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Welcome to Ridiculously Inconsistent Films!

This is a short animated film I made, the first of many I plan on sharing with you here. I hope you enjoy it.

It was created at, where you can create your own movies too. I'm going to try to do one every two weeks or so. You'll be able to find them at YouTube too, but they'll "premiere" here first.