Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dexter lives!

Dexter the kitten who was rescued after being tortured and left for dead in a Hernando County park on June 10th (if you don't know the story and want details on what happened, you can click here but be forewarned that it will make you sick/and or angry) is showing signs of recovery.
It's tempting to go off on a long angry rant about what should be done to the human garbage responsible for this, but ultimately that's not productive. It feels better to concentrate on the remarkable ongoing recovery of the kitten himself. He's far more deserving of attention anyway.
Tiffany Sroca, a veterinary technician at PetLuv Spay and Neuter Clinic, the non-profit organization that has been caring for Dexter, is posting regular updates via their Facebook page. Here's the timeline...
  • June 14: " far the kitten is doing well...."
  • June 15: "To all who have posted, donated, shown care for and cried over the sweet little kitten name Dexter, a thank you is not nearly enough. In reading the comments and talking to people who have called the clinic, it brings us all at PetLuv to tears - you all are simply wonderful. The little boy is quite a fighter... today he had some ups and downs but the fact that he is still alive to see another day is worthy of celebration! It will be a while before we know the extent of the damage and each day seems to bring new advances along with some setbacks. Please to continue to cross all your paws for little Dexter, your love and support seems to be working. More update(s) tomorrow and again, our sincere thanks and best wishes."
  • June 16: "Another day to celebrate for the little guy!! The antibiotics seem to have kicked in, the fever for now is gone and for the very first time.... he ate on his own!! (he had only been eating when force fed) Although it doesn't sound like much but, from where he was only a couple of days ago, this is very good progress. He is able to move a little bit more although still very very unsteady... but again, an improvement from the day before. Let's hope for a grrrrreat day tomorrow and continued progress. The support is so very overwhelming and it is truly an inspiration to all of us. Your prayers and well wishes are working. On behalf of little Dexter.... Thank You!!! :))"
  • June 17: "To all those following Dexter's progress, I will try and get an update soon (I'm not working again till Monday but will post if there are major changes) best wishes to all and have a great weekend."
  • June 20: "Hope everyone had a great weekend... our little friend Dexter is still holding strong!!! Yay Dexter!!! Must be all the well wishes and support. Although there have been no major advances, there have been no set backs either which, in situations like this... that's great!!!! More updates as I get them and continue to keep all paws crossed for this very special little guy."
  • June 20 (2nd update): "Very happy to share the following update: He continues to eat on his own and after he makes a mess of himself by stepping in the food he is grooming his paws!! Over the weekend he started using the litterbox too!!! Now, here is the most exciting update.... he is very happy when following a little laser light toy! Yup, signs indicate that the little man can see it (or maybe shadows of it) when it's very close.... yay!!!! Again, can't stress enough that he has a long way to go BUT for now, he is progressing. Hope your Monday is going well, best wishes to all and keep all those paws crossed for our little furry fighter!! :)))"
  • June 21: "... Dexter continues to do well. No real changes to report... but no setbacks either - Yay!!! Will try and get more pictures over the next couple of days (maybe even a little video if we can get him to play!!) Many folks have made donations both calling the clinic and via our website... Thank you one and all, can't say it enough... the support is overwhelming and greatly appreciated. There have been requests to visit the little guy, unfortunately that is not a possibility. He is still a critical care patient and we must take all precautions to keep him progressing. From all of us at PetLuv and on behalf of little Dexter.... THANK YOU!!! :)))"
  • June 22: "If this doesn't make you smile, nothing will :)) the latest picture of our furry fighter. Dexter is getting a checkup today and boy does he look fabulous!!! Great way to start an otherwise jam packed PetLuv day!!! More updates in a little bit... This was a must post pic though, don't ya think???"

  • June 23: "Dexter had a great day today, thought you all would appreciate a couple of highlights of his day .... he keeps it basic: play, eat, sleep repeat... :)) Have a great weekend. Will update more on Monday"
  • June 27:  "A very Happy Monday to everyone!! Here is the latest update on our furry fighter, Dexter... he now weighs in at 1.8lbs!!! and after getting checked out by the Vet, he got his first vaccine... such a brave kitty! All that excitement meant a mid day nap was a must (and yes, he sleeps with his eyes shut). He is doing very well and is starting to play more... will try and capure that too :)) Thanks to all for checking in and more updates soon."
Not bad for a little guy who had a severely swollen brain, was suffering seizures and convulsions and couldn't eat, drink or control bodily functions when he arrived and was described as not much more than "a ball of fur and a heartbeat".

Here are some links to coverage in the local media:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dr. Science answers your science questions!

Way out in the ocean (one of the really big ones) beyond where the radar planes fly, lies Science Island. This tropical sanctuary to the world's greatest minds is where we have everything all figured out and where I rule as King of the Scientists, a title I won by defeating all comers in the annual Tournament of Science held inside a giant volcano (which more often than not degenerates to wrestling). I am Dr. Science and I am here today to answer all of your science questions. let's waste no further time. Let the questions commence!

Dear Dr. Science,
Why does it always rain on Saturdays?
-- Christene, Florida
 Because the earth is perfectly round, it is designed to function best with round numbers. Saturday, the 7th day, aggravates its obsessive compulsive Attention Deficit Disorder,  stresses it out and makes it all sweaty. Good question! Thanks and happy science!

Dear Dr. Science,
Why, after you shake up a soda can real good, does tapping on the lid three times stop it from exploding when you open it?
-- John, Florida
Soda can technology was invented at the same time as wrestling technology and the principal of 'tapping out' was applied to both technologies simultaneously in the name of science.

Dear Dr. Science,
Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?
-- Jan, Florida
Because just like me, they long to be close to you. Also, I am covered in bread crumbs. It's part of an ongoing science experiment that I can't talk about and you wouldn't understand.

Dear Dr. Science,
Why does my heart feel so bad?
-- Jeff, England
Too much Bangers and Mash.

Dear Dr. Science,
Why do birds sing so gay?
-- Jeff, Great Britain
Because birds are gay.

Dear Dr. Science,
Why does my heart hurt so much?
Too much Bubble and Squeak.

Dear Dr. Science,
Why do fools fall in love?
-- Jeff, Jolly Old
Fools believe that love is necessary for the procreation on their species, a myth disproved several times by the exhaustive scientific research of Dr. Jerry Springer.

Dear Dr. Science,
Why does my heart skip a crazy beat?
-- Jeff, Albion
Too much Toad-In-The-Hole. Please refrain from asking health diagnosis questions. I'm a science doctor, not a other kind of doctor.

Dear Dr. Science,
What is it that makes a man gaze down from his penthouse suite, watching those young children sleeping rough on the street?
-- Jeff, Londontown
A man must gaze down from the penthouse because in almost all cases, the penthouse is located several stories above street level. If he gazed up, the only children he'd see sleeping would be moonchildren and there are no streets on the moon. Also, the government wants to reassure you there are no living beings, children or otherwise on the moon (yes, there are).

Dear Dr. Science,
Why is a raven like a writing desk?
-- Jeff, East Detoit
That is a line from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland",which Lewis Carroll (nee Charles Lutwig Dodgson) wrote as a satirical commentary on modern mathematics. Therefor this is a math question, not a science question. However, the answer is 11. Duh.
Dear Dr. Science,
Going back to my original question,if Sunday is the 7th day (according to the Bible),wouldn't that make Saturday an even numbered day?
-- Christene, Florida
Saturday is Latin for Seventh. It's named after Saturn, the seventh planet ever invented. Not really a science question but within my range of knowledges. Maybe I'll answer theological quandaries, like why God rested on the first day (because everything was closed except for football) next time!
Dear Dr. Science,
But didn't God rest on the SEVENTH day,because it WAS football Sunday?
-- Christene, Florida
Nope. Science!

Friday, June 24, 2011

On tolerance

"Intolerance is just plain old dumb." -- Jeremy Gloff

(An innocuous comment I got from somebody I like and respect a great deal inspired me to write this. I'll apologize right up front if it's too soap box-y. Beyond that, I ain't apologizing for nothin'.)

I'm a heterosexual, Caucasian dude and I have a diverse group of friends, with just about every possible racial and/or gender classification represented, but I'm not a fanatic about that. I couldn't tell you how many gay or black or Hispanic friends I have because that's not the reason they're my friends. My friends are my friends because as far as I'm concerned, at least one thing they have going for them is that they aren't assholes. I don't like assholes. In fact, I hate 'em and I enjoy that.

So for what it's worth, I completely understand the appeal of hating people. Honestly, I do. I can see how hating people could be a lot of fun. Especially when it's a big group kind of deal, with one group of like-minded individuals getting together to hate another one. Then it's a social activity! You get to make and carry signs, wear matching tee shirts and mindlessly chant rhetoric. Plus, there's fresh air and sunshine. I can totally see where people would really enjoy that kind of thing. It's just that for me, well, I prefer to focus my hatred on individuals who are actually a pain in my ass (apply pun as necessary). When it comes to large scale hatred of groups of people who are different from me yet not actually having a negative impact on my life, I don't care. And I don't mean "I don't care" in a high-minded, 'look at me as I pound my fist on a podium, screaming I DON'T CARE in the hope that somebody notices how passionately tolerant I am and gives me a shiny gold medallion with Martin Luther King Jr. on one side and Harvey Milk on the other' way. I mean I just don't care. Let me give you an example. I don't enjoy infomercials on television. But I could be lying on the couch on a Saturday afternoon when some boob comes on to talk about how he's invented the ultimate vacuum cleaner. If I can't reach the remote, I will just lie there and watch him suck up all manner of items that may or may not ever have a chance of being spilled on my carpet until the next time I absolutely have to get up (circumstances that involve at least two of the following: getting food, going to the bathroom or a grease fire). Now, if I'm not willing to put forth the effort to squelch something that's actually annoying me in my own home, what makes you think I have any interest whatsoever in what my neighbors are doing in the privacy of theirs? I guess what I'm saying is that hatred on that level seems like an awful lot of extra work and I'm just too lazy, disinterested and self-centered for it.
Let me give you another example:

(KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!) "Hey Clark, come with us downtown. We're going to protest the homos!"
"Uhhhhh...what time is it?"
"It's like 5:30 in the afternoon. Why aren't you dressed?"
"Uhhhhh...I am dressed. There's an infomercial about vacuum cleaners and..."
"Why don't you have any pants on?"
"Don't judge me."
"Look, just come on. These dirty homos, they want to get married to each other and teach our kids in school and join the military. We're going to yell and carry signs, maybe even get arrested! Here's a tee shirt. Put on some pants and let's go."
"Wow, that sounds like a whole...thing. And I'm not sure I'm into it. Let me ask you this: on what level will this impact me, as an individual?"
""Well, it's more that we feel that their existence is threatening our beliefs and our way of life..."
"Yeah, I'm not sure what that means. Are you trying to change their minds and make them turn straight? Do you want them to move back to Mexico? Do you want them rounded up and kept in concentration camps? I don't think any of those things will happen. Also, none of the things you just mentioned would seem to have me ending up in bed with some other dude and that's really the only concern I have. Is the expectation that if they aren't 'stopped' from doing something or other or whatever it is you're hoping to accomplish, that I will be somehow legally required to have sex with men? And if so, how exactly would that work? Would there be a new government office in charge of arbitrarily pairing us off or would I at least have some sort of say in who the dude is, or dudes are? Because I can tell you without even thinking hard about it that facial hair is going to be a potential deal-breaker for me."
"And penis size. Major, major concerns there."
"Right. I can tell you haven't thought this through. Like, at all. So I'm going back to bed. Leave me and the homos alone, please."

Please note, this is just an illustration of why I don't personally get involved in hatred. It doesn't mean I condone the hateful actions of others. On the contrary. I'm very devoted and loyal to the individuals who are my friends and I don't appreciate it when they're harmed or even threatened. If you're somebody doing this to people I care about, you're an asshole and I hate you...but strictly as an individual. Hey, fair is fair. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nature: Sometimes it makes me laugh

I have never, ever in my life smoked pot. I know some people might not believe that. That's okay, believe what you like (although, if you knew my dad, you wouldn't be surprised: "Get out of bed. 'Scared Straight' is on PBS and you're going to watch it and you're going to get something through that thick skull of yours", "Okay...but I'd like to state for the record that I'm, like, eight years old", "Get your ass out of bed!"). At any rate, even though I've never been a smoker or a toker, I'd probably be good at it, based on the fact that sometimes the stupidest shit cracks me up for no good reason whatsoever.
Exhibit A: Turtles. Turtles to me are hilarious. Why? I have no idea. They just are! The other day, I took this picture of a turtle near the pond out in front of my apartment:

I know, I know. There is absolutely nothing funny about that. It's just a turtle and he's just sitting there, doing nothing. He's not even moving. There is nothing happening here that's even mildly amusing, let alone so hysterically funny that I could barely take the picture. In fact, noting how funny it isn't is making me laugh all over again.
I love animals. I really do, but maybe it's because some of them, like turtles, are so inherently ridiculous. With turtles, you have the shells, the flippers, the little head poking out. It's ridiculous!
"I'm ridiculous?", the turtle would rebut. "I am a member of the animal kingdom with a perfectly defined role in the natural order of things that has been established and carried out over millions of years. Look at you, walking around on two legs, wearing clothes, spending generations of lifetimes inventing ultimately useless things like styrofoam and internets. Cripes, your species still haven't even figured out what you can and can't eat yet! If anything, you're the one who's ridiculous, my friend." To which, I reply, "Oh really? Check out this photo that I took at Lowry Park Zoo":

Just try to imagine how hard I was laughing when I took THIS one.
"Okay, yeah. That is pretty funny", the turtle would admit.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A commentary on a a recipe!

In the past couple of decades, certain indulgences that had fallen out of favor have come roaring back with a vengeance, fueled by a wave of resentful backlash against the stifling confinements of an increasingly enlightened, sophisticated and politically correct society. Things like poker, smoking cigars, tattoos, strip clubs and the comedy of Rodney Dangerfield.  These things have come to be embraced as hard-won concessions in a battle between Good and Bad where Good is Good For Us but Bad is a Lot More Fun.
"Obviously, to even suggest that a woman doesn't deserve to earn
 equal pay for equal work is, at best, specious and misogynistic.
Now shut up and dance, bitch." 
Nothing exemplifies this mindset better than the exalted status of bacon. It's like we as a society said, "Yes, yes, you win; we'll eat more vegetables, we'll work out three times a week, we'll cut back significantly on dairy products. You win. But we're drawing the fucking line at bacon. By all that is holy, find a sliver of mercy in your soul to grant us this one small guilty pleasure and we'll do whatever you say!" I don't know who we said this to exactly. Ourselves, I guess. But we said it alright. As a result, for some, the level of devotion to all things bacon related is fanatical and unmatched outside of the most devout religious sects (many of whom, ironically, don't eat pork). And this isn't just old-timers clinging to the ways of the past. It's everybody! The eternally hip, cool and on-the-cutting-edge Gail Worley (who is one of my favorite writers) frequently devotes space on her web site to praising bacon. I know people who normally don't set foot in a kitchen at all but will happily experiment with a recipe if it calls for the inclusion of bacon. We're talking chocolate cupcakes, ice cream sundaes, anything. People love bacon more than they love steak!
Exhibit B (for 'Bacon')
Well, you know me. I want to be hip. I want in on the hot trends. I want to like what the cool kids like. Save me a seat on the bacon train! Which brings me, finally, to the item I bought at the store last week: bacon bits! I was going to put them on baked potatoes, in salads, on my famous Tots Royale (amped up tater tots with sour cream, cheese, little green onion shavings; friggin' amazing). But take a closer look at the label...

Sodium extract + salt + sodium compound + sodium concentrate + artificial bacon flavor (aka more salt) + reddish brown coloring salt x frying = yum!
Why, those are not bacon bits at all; they're 'bacon flavored chips'! What the hell is that? They're artifically flavored too? Well, now seriously, what are they?!? 'Chips' of what exactly? Wood? They're very similar to the bark nuggets people put in their gardens, only much smaller. Maybe they're little edible stones, kind of like the gravel at the bottom of a fish tank (I don't reccomend ever eating that but I also cast no judgment). No, what they are in all likelihood are a heinous mixture of sodium-based chemicals mixed together and cooked up in some sinister food laboratory.
Yeah, I'm still gonna eat 'em. After all, what do you think puts the Royale in Tots Royale? (hint: it's bacon-ish)

  • Frozen tater tots
  • Squirt cheez
  • Sour cream
  • A green onion
  • Bacon flavored chips (see above)
  1. Cook up the tots. Open the bag, put 'em on a cookie sheet or some tin foil, fire up the oven to 300 or 400. I don't know. Whatever it says on the package. Just do that.
  2. When the tots are cooked, squirt the cheez all over them. Spray cheez instead of real cheddar cheese? Yes! Cheddar cheese, even sharp cheddar, comes off as too bland. You want the tangy-ness you get from cheap, American cheese singles but you also want the nearly-liquid consistency you get from squirt cheez. Trust me, for this recipe, it's the best.
  3. Take a spoon and drop a big glop of sour cream on top of the cheezed-up tots.
  4. Chop the green onion into the tiniest pieces you possibly can and sprinkle them over everything.
  5. Go ahead and add the bacon chips, in spite of everything written about them above. Don't worry about it; you're already doomed.
  6. Put on a sleeveless t-shirt, swear at your kids, pour yourself an RC Cola and serve this up with some hot dogs or chicken wings. Voila! You're pure white trash!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The blog is officially five years old and I am drunk! Hapavah Anniflavavah!

On June 18th, 2006, I sat down and typed this sentence:
"Hi there."
"Holy shit, this guy is the next David Sedaris!"
What followed were statements even less profound and prolific than that one. And now here we are, five years later.
What a collossal waste of time, huh?
It's been one heck of a wacky run though. I'd like to think that I learned some special lessons along the way and that you did too and that together we've grown. But we all know that isn't true.
So what does the future hold? Nobody can say for sure. Nobody except me, that is. And that's why I'm taking this opportunity to announce my retirement. No more Ridiculously inconsistent trickle. This is it. The last one. Time to grow up and move on to other pursuits. I appreciate all the support you've shown me over the years and I will miss you, but it's done. Good luck and godspeed (whatever that means).

Just kidding.
I'm not quitting, duh*. I don't know what I'm doing next though. No earthly clue. Offhand, I'd say that the next five years will be just like the last five in that it will be spontaneous and arbitrary. I'd also say that I'm just flying by the seat of my pants but I'm not (flying, nor wearing pants).
Perhaps it's all summed up best in the words of a recent commentor:
"Clark, you have just enough of a brain to be dangerous!!"

See ya in 2015. And also on Monday.
The Reverend Clark Brooks

* Did you cry? I bet you did. You totally cried, didn't you? HA HA HA! Yes you did, YES YOU DID! You didn't? Are you sure? You gasped though, didn't you? Oh, you gasped! Because you love me. SAY IT! And you also pee'd, didn't you. I know you did. You pee'd a little bit. Because that's just how much you love me. Go on and say it. Oh my god, you're peeing right now, aren't you! You're a gasping crybaby pee-pants! HA HA HA HA HA HA! Made you look!

I'm going to be very glad to find those crackers there tomorrow.

That sounds about right. So until somebody comes up with a better definition of what I'm supposed to be doing on this planet, I shall continue to go forth and chronicle what my tiny, dangerous brain deems chronicle-worthy.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Holy Happy Anniversary!

When I dentify myself as an ordained minister, some people think I'm making a joke. That's understandable, as the fact that I've never been involved in a sex scandal or stolen any hard-working people's life savings seriously undermines my credibility. But I assure you, those people are incorrect...

I'm a minister! (April 16, 2010)

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.

Cup check! (not Stanley's)

The elemental reason that people love sports is the unscripted drama. You simply never know what's going to happen. And nothing dials up the drama like a Game 7. It's the all or nothing, winner-takes-all championship defining moment. Ok, sure, you know in advance that one team is going to win and one team is going to lose, but beyond that, literally anything could happen!!
For example, if you're a Vancouver Canucks fan, you woke up Wednesday morning full of anticipation of what the day held for you. Regardless of the two possible outcomes, when you put on your black retro Canucks sweater and headed downtown, there's no possible way you had any idea your day would end like this...

And that my friends, the inability to predict with absolute certainty whether or not one's scrotum will explode, is what is beautiful about sports.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Slappy Anniversary!

Some people have asked where the Short Conversations come from. Some are enhanced versions of actual conversations I've been involved in. Others are completely pulled out of who-knows-where. The rest of them are conversations I imagine took place in real life somewhere, somehow. Like this one...

A short conversation about design flaws (August 12, 2010)

"Hey, you got a second?"

"Sure. What's up?"

"I wanted to talk to you about the X217 for a minute."

"Ah yes, The Princess Siparella. I'm pretty proud of that one."

"It's a beautiful piece."

"Well, thanks. I worked hard on it."

"I'll bet. I just wanted to talk to you about the straw."

"You noticed that, huh?"

"Oh yeah. Right away. Jumped right out at me, so to speak."

"Well, your eyes do not deceive you, my friend; it is indeed a bendy."

"That's not...ooh, it is, isn't it? Nice!"

"Spared no expense with this one. Yes sir, this is a top-of-the-line sippy bottle."


"Up or down, right or left. See? The way it moves around means it's easy to get your mouth around it."

"Oh my."

"At home, at a picnic table in a public park, in a darkened movie theater, in the back seat of a car..."

"It's not the straw I wanted to talk's the straw placement."

"What are you talking about?"

"Look at, the juxtaposition of the...see how, in relation to the figure's torso...?"

"No, I don't see..."



"And...right there?"


"See it now?"

"Oh my God. Oh God."


"Oh God. Oh dear God."

"Right. So...what do you think?"

"I don't know what to think! This is way past the prototype stage! We're in full production and will be ready to ship in two days!"

"Well, we have to do something. This is terrible."

"I could...move it to the back..."


"Yeah, we could just kind of swivel it..."

"So that it looks like it's..."

"Going in to her..."

"Instead of coming out as a..."

"Would that be better?"



"Nah, just leave it the way it is."
Photo courtesy of my dear friend Donna S.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Happy Ageless Anniversary!

A recurring character on this blog is The 23-Year-Old. Many people have questioned whether or not she is a real person. I can assure you she is. There's even a picture of her here. She remains the Susie Derkins to my Calvin. No post sums up our relationship better than this one... 

No justice, no dessert (Monday, December 21, 2009)

There was a dessert contest at work the other day, part of the annual company Christmas luncheon. The 23-Year-Old announced that she was going to submit an entry because she thought it would be fun. I agreed. It would be fun to defeat her and crush her dreams during the holiday season. So I announced that I would be submitting an entry of my own.

"So what are you making for the contest?", I asked.
"Oreo Balls! They're so yummy!", she answered. "What are you bringing?"
"I can't tell you. But I'll give you a two word hint. 1) A. 2) Mazing."
"Oh geez, you'll probably get some unclaimed birthday cake from the clearance shelf at Publix and have a chocolate fountain shooting out of it."
"Wrong! Why do you say that?"
"Because when you don't have something of worthwhile substance to contribute, you have a tendency to overcompensate with some loud and showy presentation designed to distract and overwhelm..."
"THAT'S NOT TRUE!", I answered through my bullhorn and hung up.

Now that she'd guessed almost exactly what I had planned to do (I wanted to incorporate pyrotechnics somehow), I had to scramble for a Plan B option. Once I had it, I called to make sure she was still going to be in the contest.

"Yep. And you'd better be there for my victory speech."
"Uh, you're not going to win."
"Yes I am. These Oreo Balls are delicious and everyone is going to love them. You are not going to be able to ruin this for me."
"We'll see about that. Just bring your balls and don't forget to bring your camera."
"Oh, to document your sad little tears when I win?"
"No, to document my huge, awesome tears when my dessert punches your balls in the face."

So the big day arrived and here's what she submitted...
Not bad, I guess. Good try.

Now, here's mine...
Golden sponge cake, filled with creamy foam? Incredible! Here are the two entries side-by-side...
I know, right? No contest!

Well, somehow, I didn't win. Apparently, the judge gave higher consideration to things that people actually made on their own. Well, la-ti-da! Excuse me for not being Bobby Flay or whoever. Shouldn't a bow that enormous and festive count for something? Plus, I noticed it didn't stop anybody from eating the whole box. Communist hypocrites.

Anyway, here is the recipe for the grand prize recipe:

The 23-Year-Old's Award Winning Oreo Balls


1 package regular size Oreo cookies, crushed
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 package white almond bark
1 package chocolate almond bark


  • Using a blender or hand held mixer or a big ol' spoon, mix crushed-up Oreos and cream cheese together.
  • Roll into walnut size balls.
  • Chill for an hour. The balls, that is. You can chill too, if you want to.
  • Melt approximately 3/4 package of white almond bark.
  • Stick a toothpick in the balls and dip them in the melted white almond bark.
  • Allow to harden on wax paper (takes about 15 minutes).
  • While waiting, melt about 1/4 package of chocolate almond bark.
  • When Oreo balls are no longer sticky to the touch, decorate with drizzles of chocolate and white almond bark. If you don't have a pastry bag, you can just cut a tiny hole in a regular old sandwich bag. If you do have a pastry bag, odds are you aren't even reading this.

Photos courtesy of the surprisingly ungracious in victory 23-Year-Old

Take me to the Riverwalk

"...the Tampa Riverwalk, a continuous pedestrian walkway extending from the Channelside area to Tampa Heights along the east side of the Hillsborough River...will incorporate pedestrian amenities, art and interpretive elements, retail and restaurant uses, parks and open space, and other urban amenities"

The Tampa Riverwalk is something that's been in the planning stages, off and on, since the 1970s. Former mayor Pam Iorio actually got it done and the project will likely been seen as her legacy to the city. It really is quite nice and it looks like this...
Really quite nice!

However, if you try to get there from the Tampa Convention Center, these signs are there to "help" you find it...
Not as nice.
Good ol' downtown Tampa; Always this close to almost having their shit together

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Anniversary celebration demonstration!

So much of what this blog is all about is me trying to help you. I'm a lot like Oprah in that way. Whether it's for how to ride an elevator or where to go for a holiday meal, I'm chock full of good advice. Like this... 

Drive-Thru Etiquette. You're welcome. (April 30, 2008) 

I utilize fast food drive-thrus frequently. Well, not anymore. But when I did, I used them all the time. We're talking a conservative estimate of, oh, I don't know, probably somehwere between 65 to 80 times a week. "But Clark", you're saying "even if you ate fast food three meals a day, every day of the week, that's only 21". To which I reply "shut up". Anyway, the fast food drive-thru is designed for the busy, on-the-go person who doesn't have the time to fart around. Like me. Quite frankly, a lot of you people are screwing this up for fast food achievers. Like me. So in the interest of at least speeding you up if not getting you completely out of my way altogether, I'm going to give you my Fast Food Drive-Thru Code Of Conduct (By having read this far, you hereby acknowledge and accept all terms of the Code. Violation of said terms are punishable by being screamed at by somebody behind you in line. Like me).

1. YOUR CAR MUST WORK. The first word in "drive-thru" is "drive", therefore your car must have the ability to move forward. I think everybody understands that this is a completely non-negotiable must-have element. After all, you can't drive thru if you can't drive. However, almost as important as a fully functional transmission is a fully functional driver's side window. If you can not roll down your window and you have to pull past the speaker or window, open your door and lean halfway out of your car to complete a transaction, you and your car are ineligible for drive-thru status.

2. ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL. A fast food restaurant's drive-thru operation is a scientifically engineered precision instrument. Typically, it's designed to have one car at the order speaker, a certain number of cars waiting to pay (this number can vary), one car at the pay window, one car waiting to pick up (although this is optional) and one car picking up their food, all stacked neatly bumper to bumper with no wasted space between. This should result in vehicles moving rapidly through the mechanism at roughly 30 second intervals, functioning like the gears in an expensive Swiss watch. That is, until somebody hauling a trailer shows up and gums up the whole works. What invariably happens is Pedro's Lawn Service gets in line and places their order. they pull up and now the trailer with all their equipment is occupying the space in front of the speaker box. Now the employee inside on the headset is pleading with a weedwacker to please place it's order. The weedwacker is indifferent to these pleas and sits silently. The employee eventually gives up, figuring there is nobody in line and decides to take the opportunity to go outside and grab a smoke, leaving the poor slob behind the lawn service with nobody to talk to when it's his turn to order.Similar chaos ensues as the truck and trailer make their way through the system, reeking similar havoc at every step along the way. You wouldn't just drop some big, stupid gear with a Dixie Chopper, three weedwackers and a mulcher on it into a Patek Phillippe watch and expect it to work, would you? Of course not. Listen, if you're out in the hot sun mowing lawns and trimming trees all day, go ahead and park your enormous truck and trailer at the Staples next door and come inside and enjoy a meal in air-conditioned comfort. You deserve it, my day-laboring friends!

3. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT WHEN YOU GET THERE. This is not too much to ask. You must have had some sort of idea what you wanted when you made the conscious decision to pull in, right? Odds are you drove past at least half a dozen other fast food restaurants to get to this one. Even better odds are that you've been here before. So just order already!

But if you really are perplexed for some reason and honestly don't know what to order, just get the #1. It's the best thing they have. That's why they designated it #1. At McDonalds, it's the Big Mac with fries and a drink. At Burger King, it's the Whopper. At Taco Bell, it's some combination of meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes inside something allegedly made from corn. At any rate, you can never go wrong with #1.

4. HAVE IT YOUR WAY, AS LONG AS YOUR WAY IS THE WAY IT COMES WITHOUT SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS. We don't have time for you to specify extra pickles, no onions, mustard only on the left edge of the top bun, mayo applied in counterclockwise strokes and free range lettuce. Just order the #1 with the standard, default settings and let us all get on with our lives, please.

5. ONE VEHICLE, ONE ORDER. You know what happens when the people at work decide I should go pick up lunch for everyone? They all look over the menus from a variety of restaurants, write up their specific orders, detailing exactly which restaurants they want it from, what they want and how they want it prepared. Then they give me their money, some giving me exact change or close to it, others giving me a big bill because "sorry, it's all I have". I smile and tell them I'll be right back. When I return, it's with a big bag of hamburgers (Cheeseburgers? Not a chance) from McDonald's and no change. Dig in, assholes! You know how often they make me go get lunch? Not very. there's a lesson to be learned here, people.

6. ONE DRIVER, ONE ORDER-ER. When going out with the gang, assign the most competent and responsible person among you to drive. Because the person driving the car needs to be the one placing the order on behalf of everyone in it, including rendering payment. The drive-thru is no place for expressing your individuality or a staff meeting of any kind. Got it? No separate orders (see above), no complex financial transactions and no yelling from the backseat or anywhere else in the vehicle. Nobody cares about what you have to say about anything unless you have a steering wheel in front of you. For this reason, if you get kidnapped and are screaming for help from the trunk of a car, you'd better hope the kidnapper doesn't pull over for a Whopper on his way back to his lair.

7. FAST FOOD WORKERS ARE SMARTER THAN YOU ARE. In spite of popularly held belief, the people working the drive-thru are not slow-witted, marble-mouthed, surly, unskilled lowlifes who would otherwise be unemployable if not for the fast food industry. Quite the contrary, these are special people with an elite skill set chosen to a higher calling than you could ever possibly comprehend: They prepare meals for you while you sit in your car!. When you ask for a Big Mac, fries and a Coke (or simply the #1) and get a tossed salad with a bottled water instead (or vice versa), it's not because they made a mistake. It's because they know something you don't and are trying to help you. So don't sit there and do an inventory of your order before leaving the window. Just take it, move on and take comfort in the knowledge that whatever is in there, it was put there by somebody who is looking out for your best interests. Like me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

More anniversary week celebration fun!

I love doing interviews and hope to do more in the future. The ones with Maria Bamford and Steve Jerve stand out as a lot of fun for me, but this one with my buddy Lynne Austin as she prepared for Tampa Bay's version of Dancing With The Stars, is BY FAR the most popular one I've done so far...

 She didn't cook the food, but Lynne Austin is The Original Hooters Girl. Since the day she forever made it impossible for me to wear orange satin shorts and a tank top in public, the bay area native and avid sports fan has created a career out of being herself. She's appeared on "Married With Children", and hosted television and radio shows. And you may have seen her in a little magazine called Playboy (perhaps you've heard of it? Great articles. I recommend you check it out.) And now the crowning achievement of her career, THIS BLOG! She's currently working very hard, preparing to compete in "Dancing With the Stars Tampa Bay 2009", which benefits Heartbeat International and takes place Saturday, September 26th at 6:00PM at the Marriott Waterside in downtown Tampa. My fellow Rays die-hard fanatic took time out from a grueling rehearsal schedule to chitty chat...

ME (my blog, I get to be in bold and italics): How did you first get involved with Heartbeat International?
HER: I got involved with Heartbeat International through Julie Weintraub of Gold and Diamond Source. I've known her husband Steve for 20 years. I've been lucky enough to receive some beautiful things from Gold and Diamond Source over the years! Anywhoo, Julie asked me to dance. The charity is in affiliation with St Jude's and they provide pacemakers to children around the world that would otherwise die.

ME: Were you much of a dancer before getting involved with this?
HER: Could I dance before I set foot in Fred Astaire? dance...sure...I could get my groove on. Ballroom dance? Ha! I had maybe seen one episode of the real "Dancing With The Stars"! I had no idea how to tell a swing from a samba. During my first meeting with the director of Fred Astaire, a sweet dude named Fletcher, I tried to back out. I realized I was out over my skiis. He was very positive that I could do it, so I tried. And tried. And tried. My first lesson was August 10th, for an hour. It was like this: "Lynne, swing works on a triple step count", and away we went. Brighthouse Cable taped a few lessons and mine was a bleeped filled hour of frustration as my left foot and my other left foot decided to not play in the sandbox together. After four lessons, my partner Joe, quit. They swear it wasn't my fault. Next saint up was Orlando Pagan, a professional in the true sense. Thursday was my 12th lesson with Orlando. We dance two to three hours per lesson. For the past three weeks, it has been almost daily. My last lesson is today (Friday) and the event is tomorrow (Saturday). You can vote for us online at Please!

ME: What happens when you walk into a Hooters? Does special Lynne Austin theme music play? Do people bow? HER: Well darlin', I was the very first Hooters girl ever hired. Thus "The Original" tag that follows me. That was 26 years ago this October 4th. If we do that math (easy big fella) that would mean some of these women were not even a zygote when I opened the stores. Sooooo, nah, no theme music. Some waitress have no clue I am their personal goddess. Which just pisses me off. I mean jeez, you'd think I could milk this whole boob thing (no pun :) for at least 30 years, yes?

ME: Why have you stayed in Clearwater?
HER: I've done so much in the past 26 years as Hooters billboard girl/waitress/marketing/radio talk hostess. Playboy kept me busy for about five years. The rest of it has been a mosaic of some of the most interesting, amazing, weird-ass things ever. And I wouldn't trade one second of it. I tried my hand at Hollywood, did a few episodes of "Married With Children", two times on "Star Search" and countless modeling jobs. But, the hometown just couldn't be removed from the girl. I came back after a month, happy to be a small fish in a small pond.

ME: My understanding is once you've been a Playboy centerfold, you have Hef on speed dial and can show up at the Playboy Mansion whenever you want. True?
HER: Contrary to popular belief, no, Hef isn't on my speed dial. But, "once a Playmate, always a Playmate" so I am still welcome, with a submitted request and a valid reason, to the Mansion in Holmby Hills California. It really is an awesome place. Kind of like a nakey museum.

ME: Any new projects coming up?
HER: My current passion along with raising four kidlets, is my Rays. Followed chronically for about the last four years. '08 was magical for us homers, '09 was frustrating and heartbreaking as the spell was broken with injuries and 'pen problems. I have no doubt '10 will be fun to watch as we see our farm system prove its one of the best in MLB.

ME: Anything else?
HER: As I get nearer to having yet another great experience tattoo-ed on my soul, Dancing with the Stars Tampa Bay, has been a mixed bag of awesome. Thank you to all my friends on Twitter that have cheered me on and listened to me bitch and whine. I will miss having something to learn everyday. I don't expect to win...unless...we can somehow pull off a Tanya Harding part deux. ;)
ME: I am totally available to serve as a Jeff Gilooly in waiting.

Attention everyone I went to high school with: I won't be attending any reunions but if I did, I'd walk in, announce that I have this woman's phone number, and leave.