Monday, December 31, 2012

A final look at 2012

This being the last day of the year, let's take just one more look back at the year that was 2012, shall we?

All right then.
That...was ill-advised
That's not...oh Jesus.
Oooh. Unfortunate.
Oh shit.
No. Wait...yes!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Well, I'd say that about sums it up (although not necessarily in that order). Good year, bad year. It's all very subjective. Either way, it's time to move on. Because next year has got to be better than this one, right? Not necessarily, but we're just going to proceed under the prevailing premise like we do every year.
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

A visit to Clark's hockey card collection

With the current "work stoppage" (the second one in eight years) that has resulted in no NHL games being played so far this season, I've been missing hockey something awful. Between my writing gig at Raw being on hold for the time being and just being a fan in general, there is definitely a void in my life right now, and finding a substitute to fill that void has not been easy. Football is okay but I really don't care that much about it. Basketball, I don't care about at all. I love baseball, but we're still months away from that getting started. Nostalgia has sent me to my card collection, some of which I'd like to share with you today. Behold these keepsakes produced at a time when hockey was hockey, cards were collectible and men looked like... this.

In many ways, the Boston Bruins Derek Sanderson epitomizes what hockey players looked like and actually were in the '70s. "F*ck you" and whatever sound a fist connecting with your face makes were the only two appropriate answers to "Don't you think you need a shave and a haircut?" 

But not for everybody. In the early '70s, you still had guys that looked like Butch Goring of the Los Angeles Kings. With a part that looks like it was put there by a laser beam, you'd better goddamn believe Butch's haircut voted for Nixon, even though he couldn't (because he was Canadian).

If Butch's no-nonsense expression and even no-nonsensier haircut presents him as a father figure, the Minnesota Fighting Saints (WHA) Mike Antonovich's appearance suggests he could be his dipshit son, out in the driveway toiling over his re-built Camaro, learning to cover Foghat tunes with his buddies in the basement or otherwise embarrassing his dad in front of the neighbors.

With his 'fro perm and his puka shell necklace, the Minnesota North Stars Ernie Hicke could actually be in style again today! In fact, if he had on a stupid hat, some nerd glasses and an ironic t-shirt, it would be impossible to tell if this picture was taken in 1975 or last Wednesday.

Who remembers one of Dan Aykroyd's least popular recurring characters from Saturday Night Life, Rosaire Paiement of the WHA's Chicago Cougars?

Dunc Wilson looks like he'd be as comfortable in a rock band that features a lot of flute solos as he would be in goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Meanwhile, the New York Rangers Pat Hickey's sly grin and Ziggy Stardust 'do suggest he knows exactly where the spiders from Mars were.

For whatever reason (fear of being perceived as less than masculine), people in sports have a huge problem with going bald. One of the least effective "remedies" is the combover. In this card, Al Smith of the Buffalo Sabres displays what is probably the worst and least convincing combover in the history of heads. "Not only am I not bald, I have long, flowing locks, like that of a Norse god!" No Al, what you've go is a thatch of greasy, thinning hair that starts right above your left ear and would probably reach your left elbow if you didn't flop it over the top.

Okay, okay. The yellow L.A. Kings uniform. The golden mane of hair, the name Whitey Widing. We get it. Hockey is was/is not exactly, um, culturally diverse.

Remember Dunc WIlson's Jethro Tull-esque prog rock band? Meet his lead singer, Brian Spencer of the Buffalo Sabres.

Bob Paradise was a guy just biding his time with the Washington Capitals, enjoying the life of an NHL defenseman. Then 1978 came along and Bob's world suddenly opened a panacea of new opportunities. Because that's when Eddie Money released the single "Two Tickets to Paradise", giving Bob the license to drop the line, "Hey baby, I got two tickets to me" in every singles bar along the Beltway, undoubtedly with more success than not.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

It's a sausage party!

Back for a limited time is Papa John's Five Sausage Pizza. Man, I love the sausage and that is a lot of sausage! (Why is everybody smirking?) That might even be more sausage than I can handle. (Again, what is so funny?) What kind of sausage you workin' with, Papa John?
"This is a kind of sausage we use!" No it isn't,
Papa John. That's a football. Put it down.
  • Mild Italian Suasage - Ah, of course! A pizza classic!
  • Spicy Italian Sausage - Oh yes, kick it up a little bit! Spicy! Papa John's!
  • Smoked Sausage - Mmmm, that smoky down-home flavor. Gotta love it!
  • Chorizo - The pork sausage that relies heavily on paprika whose recipes originate from the Iberian Peninsula occupied by the countries of Spain and Portugal? That Chorizo? Yes, bitches. That Chorizo. Papa John is dialing up the sausage intensity now!
and lastly...
  • Sausage - It's sausage. Just... sausage. Okay? Everything doesn't have to be a thing. This is just a generic sausage product of some sort. It's fine. Look, it comes from a place that sells sausage and is presumably made of materials consistent with those found in other forms of sausage. Technically, we're allowed to call it sausage. Back up off of the sausage. That's what it is. We've had it checked out and we are fully covered under any legally binding definition of a five sausage pizza. We're not going to talk about it anymore.
Another quick note on the Five Sausage Pizza at Papa John's

This is an actual conversation that happened at work the other day:

CO-WORKER: Ew, don't get that Five Sausage Pizza from Papa John's. It's disgusting. I had it once and got so sick you wouldn't believe it.
ME: What did you have to drink with it?
CO-WORKER: We started with beer. Then switched to soda.
ME: Okay...

CO-WORKER: And rum.
ME: Well, there's your culprit.
CO-WORKER: No, it was definitely the pizza. It just oozed grease. 
ME: I'm sorry, but you've introduced reasonable doubt, my friend. Every college freshman knows you can't mix beer, booze and soda.
CO-WORKER:  So greasy and heavy. I'm getting sick all over again just thinking about it.
ME: The Five Sausage Pizza from Papa John's is going to walk out of here an innocent pizza!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas is a time to celebrate the possibility that everything is possible

Hey, here's a heartwarming Christmas story from my personal past...

In third grade, our social studies teacher, Mrs. Reed, was telling us how people used to believe the world was flat. To us, of course, this seemed silly. In order to illustrate how such a ridiculous notion could come to be accepted as common knowledge among a large number of people she asked, "How old were you when you found out there was no Santa Claus?" Looks of silent horror were exchanged around the classroom as our world instantly changed forever. Of course, for the most part everybody played it cool and it wasn't something that was discussed when class was over. As upset as we might have been on the inside, we had recalibrated our social self-preservation instincts by the time the bell rang. Nobody wanted to be seen as a little baby who didn't already know that years ago. Still, it's one of my deepest regrets that I didn't have the presence of mind to raise my hand and say, "what time is it right now?" when she asked.
I'd like to report that Mrs. Reed was summarily fired for at least not knowing her audience if not teaching the utter falsehood that Santa Claus might not be real.

There are only, oh, I don't know BILLIONS of photos of the guy. Duh.
But she wasn't and as far as I know, she'd been using that reference since she started teaching third grade and kept using it until she retired. I'll bet the fourth grade teachers wondered why so many of their students seemed to show up on the first day of class lacking a large chunk of their souls, though. 

So as someone whose childhood was destroyed in third friggin' grade, my wish is that you have (or find) something to believe in. At the very least, I hope you don't take any joy or satisfaction in stepping on the toes of those who do. Remember, even at the absolute top of your game, you're not nearly as clever as you think you are. 

So don't even try to tell me how and why this can't happen, you dicks.
Merry Christmas

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Music Video Spectacular!

Welcome to our annual Ridiculously Inconsistent Holiday Music Video Spectacular! With special guests Fishbone, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John plus an appearance by The Unbelievables! Leading things off, as they have every year for the last 15, our festively foul-mouthed robot friends lead us in a singalong of a traditional holiday favorite...

That was beautiful! And now, our special musical guests FISHBONE are going to teach us the lessons learned in Frank Capra's classic Christmas film, "It's A Wonderful Life" less than two and a half minutes.

Awesome guys! I don't think we'll have to worry about mean ol' Mr Potter anymore! And now, a super special visit from our old friends. You know him from such movie masterpieces as "The Punisher" and "Battlefield Earth" and you know her as looking drastically different the last time you saw her. A big hand now for John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John! Hey, that was swell, wasn't it? It sure was! Nothing says Christmas like troops from no discernible branch of the military coming home to an airport in Ocala. And now, here's a video from the hottest non-government affiliated crimefighters in the world, The Unbelievables!

Wow, those cats are super-smooth! Check them out at

Well, that's all the time we have this year. So good night everyone! Happy Holidays and drive safely! We'll see you next Wednesday, the 27th (I'm not writing on Christmas this year).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An interview with: Me.

I've been a part of a team, a squad, a platoon, a company, a battallion, a band, a brigade, a division, a community and even a liaison (oo la la!), but until now, I'd never been a member of a consortium. That changed a few weeks ago when Carrie Bailey asked me to join hers at Peevish Penman, a consortium of writers. To get things rolling, PP has been publishing interviews with the writers taking part and mine was published Monday. Check it out here.

And while you're there, be sure to check out my handy-dandy tips on how to write about the end of the world!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Can we talk?

Nice man, soothing voice but not
an author of social commentary. Sorry.
I like to think that on a very good day, what I do here holds some of the more ugly, mean and nasty things we all have to deal with in life up to ridicule. In the process, I hope to reduce those mean and ugly things somewhat, making them a little less scary, a little less unmanageable, a little less overwhelming. I'm still struggling with what happened last Friday and I find myself less than up to the task of bringing the LOLZ today. I've tried, but I just can't come up with a fart joke that adequately expresses my thoughts on the matter.
Also, being completely honest, I really don't like some of you people right now. As such, I'm pretty sure I'm incapable of participating in a civil discussion about it, at least today.

Regardless, At some point, we all need to be grown-ups and at least talk about this and what we're going to do about it. Things aren't over once Morgan Freeman weighs in, especially when he doesn't.

For what it's worth, in the interest of full disclosure, I don't like guns. I was in the military, where I was required to use weapons, but I always considered them tools for specific tasks, not as toys for recreational purposes or as something to hoard, stockpile or collect as a defense against unknown enemies. As might already be evident, I have a pretty low opinion of gun enthusiasts. I tend to think of those people as irresponsible, paranoid, and ultimately, cowardly morons with penis envy issues who sit around fantasizing about "blowing away" somebody who messes with their stuff. I fully recognize that this is a stereotype, that it's practically a cartoon and that it doesn't apply to all gun owners. I admit this as a fault on my part, not a virtue. I will say in my defense that this prejudice is informed by things like drunken football fans shooting a tv, another one riding around in a golf cart and shooting a water tower, and last but not least, my own personal experience as a victim of gun violence. If I'm being honest, I have to admit that these things simply can't represent every person who owns a gun and to believe otherwise is unfair and intellectually dishonest. However, by the same token, gun owners can't say they don't exist. Being as anti-gun as I am, I wouldn't mind seeing every one of them turned in and melted down as scrap metal. But I know that everything I'd like to see happen isn't going to come to pass. I also know that not only is that impractical, it isn't even correct. Or fair, for that matter. However, I can live without getting my way. I can be okay with that if some of you are willing to concede that there is a problem and that adhering to or hiding behind one narrow interpretation of what was valid and necessary 250 years ago might not be a suitable way to go about business today. It would be a start at least. Christ, can we at least agree that this is simply unacceptable and that we can do better? I'd happily settle for that.

Anyway, here are some links to articles that I think are relevant and pertinent that do a much better job of addressing my views on these issues than I could, even on a very good day. Let's get together soon and talk about what needs to be done, or at least what can be done*. Thanks.

Replying to my pro-gun friends by Annabel Park

Thinking the Unthinkable by Liza Long

Columbine: Whose Fault Is It? by Marilyn Manson

The 2nd Amendment. Is the Intent Clear? by Jane Devin

Full transcript of President Obama's address at Newtown

* Unless you're one of these people who honestly believe it starts and ends with "Killers are gonna kill; that's the cost of freedom", because I find that so cinder block-headedly stupid and offensive that I never want to talk to you about anything. Sorry. I'm not willing to give back on all of my prejudices.

Friday, December 14, 2012

All along the water tower

Who's to say that thing didn't need killin'?
shoot·ing /ˈSHo-otiNG/Noun - The action or practice of shooting.
spree/sprē/Noun - A spell or sustained period of unrestrained activity of a particular kind: "a shopping spree". Synonyms: carousal - binge - revel
Shooting sprees are supposed to be fun. We're supposed to carouse and revel! But every time we turn around (and it sure seems like we turn around a lot more often these days), the media is taking all the fun out of these incidents with their somber reporting of deaths and injuries. Geez, lighten up! It's not always a movie theatre or a shopping center or an elementary school. Sometimes it's something whimsical like a golf course (albeit, a regular golf course and not the really whimsical kind where you shoot the ball into a clown's ass or whatever) and the only victim is a big dumb ol' water tower. What's the harm? It's not like that was drinking water. Heck, there might even be unforeseen benefits! What if they go up to repair the tower and find hidden treasure that they would have never found if not for this happening? It could happen! Other than that, not only were no people shot, but he didn't even shoot any coyotes. Or dogs (although as drunk as Fitzgerald was, that's probably a fluke).
No, instead of letting us revel and carouse in these binges, the media has to try to make us feel bad about our constitutional right to own all the guns. As gun advocates routinely point out, guns don't kill people; people kill people. All of these incidents could have just as easily involved a knife or some other weapon. Yet, you never hear reports of stabbing sprees or chainsaw sprees or blowdart sprees, almost as if those things never, ever, EVER happen. Suspicious! Mark Fitzgerald could have damaged that water tower without a gun if he was really intent on doing so, but you'll never hear that from the mainstream media.

Remember folks, guns don't kill water towers; drunk people with sharp objects who are not so drunk that they couldn't climb a really tall ladder kill water towers, if they happened to be so inclined.

UPDATE: It's been pointed out to me, uninformed idiot that I am, that there WAS a stabbing spree just the other day, in China. Oh snap! This is obviously a dream come true for gun enthusiasts: "See? See? It totally happened... once... in China. Now there's no logical reason whatsoever not to leave our precious hobby alone!" Awesome! Thanks, Min Yingjun!
22 kids there, 18, 19, 20, or whatever it ends up here (this time); heck, that's practically a wash. Thanks for adjusting my skewed perspective. Yee-haw!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What could possibly go wrong?

"The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its partners are launching the 2013 Python Challenge™ to enlist both the general public and python permit holders in a month-long harvest of Burmese pythons."
They're doing this because Burmese pythons are not native to Florida and are wreaking significant havoc on the state's ecosystem. No problem. We've got a vast array of rednecks and yahoos at our disposal. Let's throw them at the problem.
"The 2013 Python Challenge™ Kickoff on Saturday, Jan. 12 will include a 10 a.m. news conference announcing the competitive harvest of Burmese pythons. Both the General Competition and Python Permit Holders Competition will start that day at 1 p.m. The kickoff will be part of a public event held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the University of Florida Research and Education Center, 3205 College Avenue, Davie, FL 33314."
What's at stake?
"For the general public participating in the 2013 Python Challenge™ General Competition, there will be three prizes:

■A $1,500 Grand Prize for most Burmese pythons captured.

■A $1,000 prize for longest Burmese python captured.

■An additional prize, picked through a random drawing, for which all persons participating in this competition are eligible.

For python permit holders (people holding permits from FWC or other agencies to harvest pythons) who are participating in the 2013 Python Challenge™ Python Permit Holder Competition, there also will be three prizes:

■A $1,500 Grand Prize for most Burmese pythons captured.

■A $1,000 prize for longest Burmese python captured.

■An additional prize, picked through a random drawing, for which all python permit holders participating in this competition are eligible.

As our sponsorships grow, other prizes may be offered as part of the 2013 Python Challenge™."

Sweet! Any restrictions I should be aware of?

"DON’T dismember pythons into more than two pieces or they will not qualify for the “longest snake” category."
Hold on... don't get the idea that they're just going to open up the Everglades to anybody with a stick and a bag and say "Go git us some snakes!" That isn't going to happen. You have to be properly trained first. And that is accomplished by reading this PDF. I did it in about 10 minutes (I skimmed). And now that I'm fully trained to hunt and capture Burmese pythons, I'm going to get myself a hat, some binoculars and a wheeled cart of some sort, capable of holding a shitload of pythons, and cash in on some of that sweet, sweet snake bounty!

"In Florida, Burmese pythons have also been found above the ground using man-made structures and even trees and shrubs."
Wait a minute...  
"Wild individuals average 3.7 metres (12 feet) long, but may reach up to 5.74 metres (19 ft)."
Above me? In a tree or on a telephone pole? As I'm walking around underneath? 
"They are also excellent swimmers, being able to stay submerged for up to half an hour."
Sweet Jesus, they're like giant Navy SEALs!

"A paper published by the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, states that bird and coyote populations are threatened, as well as already-rare rival predatory species, such as Florida panthers."

These things eat panthers? Why wasn't this addressed in my PDF training? I'm not sure I want to tangle with something that can eat a panther. 
"Since pythons eat endangered birds and alligators, these snakes present a new and serious danger to the fragile ecosystem."
Alligators?!? You know how I feel about alligators!
"Like all snakes, Burmese Pythons are carnivorous. The snake uses its sharp rearward-pointing teeth to seize its prey, then wraps its body around the prey, at the same time contracting its muscles, killing the prey by constriction."

"After ingesting prey, the entire digestive system undergoes a massive remodelling, with rapid hypertrophy of the intestines, production of stomach acid, and a 40% increase in mass of the ventricles of the heart in order to fuel the digestive process."
Yeah. I'm out. Good luck.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fire drills are dumb

"If you're flammable and have legs, you are never blocking a fire exit."
-- Mitch Hedberg
Over the years, we as a society have done a pretty good job of getting rid of some of the dumber things that we used to do fairly regularly. Ritualistic human sacrifice to appease various demigods, burning people accused of being witches, not allowing women to vote; all consigned to a time in the past when we were not that much smarter than the farm animals we were having sex with. By my count, the only dumb things we're still doing are beauty pageants for children and fire drills. I know people are making big money off the beauty pageants so they're not going anywhere but fire drills need to cease.

Before you people jump on me for being anti-fire safety, no. I am not anti-fire safety. I'm not even against fire drills, for people who need to participate in fire drills. Such as school children, because they're very stupid, and for safety personnel in helmets and safety vests with Maglites and big key rings who have to clear sectors and vectors in order to save people's lives. For me and the rest of the working class cattle who have no such responsibilities but are smarter than the little crumbsnatchers who can't be trusted with sharp scissors, we should be exempt from that shit.

Here's what happens when a fire alarm goes off in almost every professional work environment in America. Everybody sighs and starts moaning about how they don't have time for this. Never mind that they had just been praying silently for something... anything... to break up the endless, monotonous drudgery that is their "job". Once the fire alarm goes off, they're the most dedicated employee in the history of business. This is followed by people peeking over their cubicle walls and asking each other, "you think it's real?", "nah, it's not real", "what if it is real?", "that would be hilarious!", "it's never real", "I thought I smelled smoke", "it's not real", "I wish it was real", "I don't smell anything", "maybe it's real", "wouldn't we hear sirens from fire trucks by now?", "it's not real". After five or ten minutes of this, somebody finally says, "I guess we'd better go outside" and everybody trudges reluctantly outside. They stand around a while until someone gives the "ALL CLEAR" signal and then they shuffle back inside, mumbling and grumbling about what a huge waste of time it was.

Normally, I don't take the side of people bitching about stuff that doesn't qualify as much more than a minor inconvenience, but in this case they're right. It is a waste of time for almost everyone.

For example, me.

I hereby promise to any and all safety personnel entrusted with the responsibility of making sure I don't die in a fire at work, now and in perpetuity, that as long as I am ambulatory, I will not sit at my desk and burn up. If I see or smell evidence of a fire, I will get up and leave, whether the alarm goes off or not. If you'll stop making me participate in fire drills, I'll take it on faith that every time the alarm goes off that it's an emergency and I will respond accordingly (aka: leave).
Safety monitors, feel free to cut that out and save it as an official waiver on my behalf.

Also, there's no reason to waste the valuable time of the safety people by making me practice evacuation techniques. I'm in an office that has two doors, both of which lead into a lobby. There are, like, 16 doors in our lobby. Seriously, it's basically a room made entirely out of doors. Here's the evacuation plan that already exists in my brain:
  1. Get up and go out one of the two doors into the lobby.
  2. If one of the doors is on fire, use the other one.
  3. Exit the lobby through any door you want.
  4. If some of the lobby doors are on fire, don't use those.
  5. If all of the lobby doors are on fire, you're dreaming because that's basically impossible.
If I actually need to practice that, I deserve to die.

Friday, December 07, 2012

A short conversation in Woodbury, Georgia

"Hi there! What can I do for you today?"
"Hello. I'm looking for work. It's rough out there."
"Hey, you don't have to tell me! Rough isn't even the word for it."
"Yeah, I'm sure you know what's going on."
"Better than many, my friend. Believe me."
"So I came across your town here and I have to say, all things considered, it looks pretty good."
"Well, thank you! We're quite proud of it."
"I'd go so far as to call it idyllic. Parts of it, anyway. I mean, overall, it seems nicer than where I lived before the whole, well, you know."
"Idyllic! Why, that's wonderful! I'll pass along your kind words to the top management. I'm sure he'll appreciate it. So tell me a little about you."
"Sure! Well, I can run really good. I'm fast, elusive, lots of endurance."
"Obviously! Ha ha!"
"Ha! Yeah! Anyway, I never really had much experience with weapons but it turns out that I'm a pretty good shot. Also, I'm a whole lot better at stabbing than I ever would have guessed. Not sure I needed to learn that about myself..."
"Hey, we do what we have to do right?"
"Yes, that's right. But where I think I can really be an asset to Woodbury is my specialized skills; I'm a doctor. A surgeon, in fact. And when I was a kid, my dad was a mechanic and taught me all about engine repair."
"That is impressive!"
"Thank you!"
"How are you at coming and going?"
"... coming and going? What's that?"
"You know, coming here and then leaving and going there. That kind of thing."
"I... I'm not sure I understand."
"See, I don't know if you noticed but Woodbury just has the one main street in the middle of these walls and buildings and a great deal of what people do here is come and go between the buildings, crossing the street, just kind of milling around."
"What's the point of that?"
"It just kind of creates a general sense of hubbub. Keeps folks' minds occupied, gives them something to do."
"Oh, I see."
"We have a security force and they're busy doing all kinds of... well, I'd rather not go into detail about what they do."
"Sure, I understand."
"So we're kind of stocked up in the whole 'specialty skills' department."
"Ah. Okay."
"But we can always use more hubbub! If you're interested, that is."
"That'd be fine! Why don't you uncuff me from this table and I'll see if I can demonstrate my coming and going ability for you? Please don't judge too harshly; one of your security personnel smashed me in the forehead with a rifle butt and I am a tad woozy."
"Ooooh, not sure we're ready to take that step yet. Let me hear how you would sound if it was necessary for you to murmur in a large crowd first."

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Naming rights and wrongs

"Having cancer gave me membership in an elite club I'd rather not belong to." -- Gilda Radner

I used to think Tampa demonstrated the ultimate in lack of class and bad judgment when it came to naming things after people when they tore down Al Lopez Field while Al was still very much alive. After all, one is not supposed to outlive their own monuments. That's still pretty awful but this debacle over changing the name of "Gilda's Club" is, if not worse on all fronts, at least dumber.

Just to catch you up, Gilda Radner was a member of the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players, the cast of performers that launched NBC's "Saturday Night Live". She died from ovarian cancer in 1989. In 1991, "Gilda's Club", a community organization was created to help and support people living with cancer as well as their families and friends. Last week, several branches of the organization announced plans to drop Radner's name and change their name to "Cancer Support Community". The reason given for this decision is that many people who utilize the organization's services don't know who Gilda Radner was.
"One of the realizations we had this year is that our college students were born after Gilda Radner passed, as we are seeing younger and younger adults who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis. We want to make sure that what we are is clear to them and that there's not a lot of confusion that would cause people not to come in our doors." -- Gilda's Club Madison executive director Lannia Syren Stenz

How completely idiotic.

In spite of being born after Christopher Columbus, George Washington and Thomas Edison died, I know who they were and I understand why stuff is named after them. I don't know how I know this, as I wasn't born with that knowledge, so I have to assume that someone took the time to teach me. That's part of the reason we honor people by naming stuff after them, so that when someone asks who they were we can take the opportunity to teach them, and in doing so, honoring the person's memory. It's entirely possible that somewhere right now there's a kid who doesn't know who Dr. Martin Luther King was. When that kid asks why there's a street named after him, do we respond by re-naming the street? Maybe. It's probably easier to do that than to take a minute and explain who King was and why he's important enough to name a street after.

If so, we should prepare to navigate a pretty slippery slope.

The football stadium here in Tampa (ironically, on the former site of Al Lopez Field) is named Raymond James Stadium. Nobody I know, myself included, has any idea who Raymond James is or was. Should they change the name of the stadium? No, because Raymond James is actually Raymond James Financial Services, a company named after two relatively anonymous (albeit wealthy) guys, one named Raymond, the other named James, not one historically relevant guy. I guess that's fairly simple.

However, in Philadelphia, the pro football stadium is named Lincoln Financial Field. Lincoln Financial Group is the marketing name of Lincoln National Corporation, a Fortune 200 American holding company. But that company is named after Abraham Lincoln, an extremely relevant historical person, and based in Radnor, Pennsylvania, which is named after Radnorshire, Wales, where the Quakers who founded it emigrated from, and not Gilda Radner, original Not Ready For Prime Time Player. Clearly, this stadium should be re-named in honor of current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and then torn down since he is still alive.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Let's hear it for our guest authors!

Well, November is over (if you're still eating Thanksgiving leftovers, I'm jealous but you should probably throw that stuff away at this point) and thus concludes another highly successful Guest Author Month. Let's have a big hand for...
Clare Austin
Ellen Mueller
Ronny Elliott
Jeff Hickmott
Cheryl Williams
Michael Noble
Marissa Rapier
John Fontana
Mike Lortz
and Keri Ramos

Thanks, you guys. I sincerely appreciate it.
And now I have to go whip up a fresh batch of fart jokes in time for Wednesday.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Today's guest author: Keri Ramos

Comedy isn't pretty. By most accounts, funny people like Chevy Chase and Peter Sellers are/were, at best, pricks when not dishing out the LOLs. It takes guts to point out serious character flaws that run so counter to the public's perception of an individual. Keri Ramos has guts. She also has a much lower tolerance for bullshit than you would expect to find in someone so young. If I were a doctor, I'd guess that the extra guts are filling up the area where the tolerance for bullshit is supposed to go. But I'm not a doctor; I'm a monster. I'm the illegitimate lovechild of Chevy Chase, Peter Sellers, Hitler and George Steinbrenner (don't ask how that works logistically or biologically; I told you I'm not a doctor). Don't believe me? Read the account below from the gutsy and talented Keri Ramos.   

A Ridiculously Inconsistent Commission

I asked to be the last contributor. I've read all the other guest spots, highly entertained by tales of boots and rockstars that can't pick up chicks. See, we all babysat this blog as Clark took off November to finish up his book. Did you know he was writing a book? (If he's smart, he'll link to that book announcement right about now.) I bet you had fun, right? Whether you participated or even just read the entries, it was fun, right? Clark's pretty awesome like that, isn't he? Just a ball of amazing, huh? Working with Clark is pretty much the best thing ever, right?

Wrong. Working with Clark is terrible, and you guys are a bunch of suckers. Do not let him fool you, not for one second.

A simple text message came to me late one summer night by way of Clark Brooks and ruined my life for good: "I need editing work done. Let's discuss this." He was talking about his book, a lovingly compiled "best of" from this blog that I'd heard distant rumblings about before.

I still don't know why he picked me.

We met at some tragically hip spot in Ybor and drank weird apricot beers that our bartender called "pedestrian" much to Clark's indignation. "Don't be an idiot," he snapped. "Beers can't walk." He told me more about the project and who was involved, what his time frame was and exactly what he wanted me to do. "Make me look really good. And if I'm frustrated, tell me I'm pretty."

I still don't know why I said yes.

Once a week we'd set aside time for each other. We didn't always meet in person, but when we did, it was usually our "pedestrian" Ybor hangout. The staff is friendly, the atmosphere is very chill and there's usually live music. I know what you're thinking. Clark is such a jerk.

When we did meet up, we'd spend a little while hashing out book details and going over game plans or schematics or whatever editors are supposed to do. Clark would inevitably dominate the conversation. He would ask about my life, my family, my stories. And he'd listen. And we'd talk this way for hours, swapping anecdotes that are usually best understood by fellow creative types. What a tool, right? Not only did I have to edit his stories, I had to listen to them in real life too.

When we didn't meet, I'd just send emails or be available by phone. One time it took him three days to respond to my email. I assumed he was dead at first, but he kept checking into places on FourSquare, so I knew he was okay. I almost showed up to one of those places like some kind of crazy person. I can handle editing, but don't make me worry about you, Clark, you big meanie.

I called him once and he didn't answer. He texted back immediately saying he was at work and couldn't talk. Work? Couldn't talk? TO ME? Work is work but this book is his future! I cried myself to sleep that night. When he did have time for me, it was at crazy hours, like 8 AM. I work freelance hours, I don't know what 8 AM looks like. But there was Clark, enthusiastic as ever, wanting to know where we were on Chapter Five. *Spoiler alert* - there is no Chapter Five.

More abuse came: he started showing a lot of gratitude and being fun, which really threw me for a loop because I thought I'd be working with the cranky guy from the purple blog. We met a few times and didn't even talk about the book. We just hung out and decompressed like two frazzled friends trying to make headway on the same project. He bought me beers (not the pedestrian kind, we evolved) and once he even gave me a slice of his pizza. Listen, I know you're starting to fall for him the way I did, but don't. The pizza wasn't that good.

When it was over, we met one last time. I drank sangria and anxiously awaited him at the bar. "I don't know how to say what I'm trying to say," I drunkenly stammered. "But now that I'm done..." "Are you breaking up with me?" he spat out. "Because I think we should work with other people." I was floored. I just wanted to tell him how happy I was to work with him and that I wanted to be super best friends forever. Matching bracelets and all. Clark shoved a check into my hand, kissed me on the cheek and sped off into the night, leaving me there like some kind of editing-hooker. I yelled "you're pretty!" into the parking lot, but it was too late.

I can't speak for the rest of the book team, but in an editing capacity, please don't ever work with Clark. Ever. (Because I will find you and I will break all of your fingers. Clark. Is. Mine. Get your own weird friend who wants to write a book.)

And about the book, it's hilarious. He's not paying me to say that, because I already got paid once, and I'm pretty sure hookers don't get royalties.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A new low: An ad for an ad!

Hi there. Have you checked out The Unbelievables, the sartorially spectacular adventures of me, Jeff Hickmott and Michael Noble yet? No? Well, maybe you will find this trailer intriguing enough to inspire you to do so...

The theme song you hear was created by Douglas Arthur, who serves in the official capacity of The Unbelievables Musical Director when not fronting the Flaming Schwarzkopf Experience. Hopefully, very soon the theme song will be available as a download, possibly with a slow jam "love theme". Awwww yeah. make your own little Unbelievables!
In the mean time while you wait for things to listen to, we'll keep writing stuff for reading at.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Today's guest author: Mike Lortz

Today's submission is from comedian Mike Lortz, a regular contributor to our Guest Author Months. Mike is currently overseas, performing for the crowned heads of Europe and the sub-continent, but he still found time to share something with us.

Way back during my college days, I wrote an article on my thoughts on male wedding planning. Most guys don’t get into wedding planning as they don’t want to upset their bride-to-be who has probably had the day planned in her head since the moment senior prom ended. But not me. I’m ballsy enough to advocate for certain things on that big day. Even if my ideas are rejected.

Every time I go to a wedding I get more great ideas. My initial college piece discussed getting registered in the Dollar Store, eating only finger food, and having an Elvis impersonator at the reception. A few years later, I wrote another piece in which I advocated saying my vows in the third person, encouraging the wave at the ceremony, and including giveaways in the wedding program.

While on leave from Afghanistan, I went to another wedding and had even more great ideas. This time, I was thinking big. I was thinking a themed wedding. You know, like the Star Wars weddings, the KISS weddings, or even the more-accepted beach weddings people have. I want a wedding that expresses my personality. One that will show in pictures the type of people I and my beautiful unknown bride were at the time of our nuptials.

I want a 70’s themed wedding.

Those who know me around Tampa know I am known to rock the ‘fro wig at times. Afro wigs make for fun times and great pictures. I’d put an afro wig on every seat at the reception and give an afro wig to every guest. Even 80-something year old great aunts and grandparents can look funky in an afro wig.

I would also encourage everyone to be dressed in vintage 70s garb. 70s night at Clearwater’s Brighthouse Field is always a good time and there are plenty of vintage clothing places out there. It shouldn’t too hard to wear your funky best.

A 70s themed wedding would also have a sense of familiarity for the older generations in attendance. My parents, aunts, and uncles would be able to relive the fun of their own weddings forty years later. The way I see it, young people will have fun at weddings no matter what, but it is keeping the older generations involved that is the tricky part. Giving them a sense of nostalgia is a great start.

And that brings me to the best part: the music. Young people will dance to anything. My parents’ generation doesn’t dance to booty music. It’s not their thing. But 70s funk and disco is their thing. It’s what they feel comfortable with, what they rocked their teens and 20s to. So if I can find a disco cover band (say, like Disco Inferno) to rock all night, everyone will have a funktastic time.

The last great advantage would be the photos. In today’s media climate, where people want to put olde tyme photo effects on everything via Instagram and other camera doodads and gizmos, why not use that to an advantage? 70s themed wedding photos with olde tyme effects would give the look that the wedding did in fact take place 40 years ago. But the memories will be as fresh as a blue polyester suit on Sunday.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A short conversation aboard the mothership orbiting Earth right this minute

"Bxgzylrk, bring up the surveillance feed. I feel today would be a good day to invade but I want to see what the Earthlings are doing right now before I make that decision."
"Yes Captain."

"Oh my. What are they fighting over? Medicine? Food? Warm winter clothing?"
"No Captain. Cell phones."
"Cell phones?"
"Yes, Captain. Personal communication devices designed to..."
"I know what cell phones are. Don't merchants normally provide them to their customers free-of-charge as part of service agreements?"
"Yes, Captain. But these have games on them. And cameras."
"Cell phones have never had games and cameras on them before?"
"Is this from a part of Earth where cell phones were previously unavailable until now?"
"No, Captain. This is America. It's safe to assume that 99% of the people we see in this feed already have a cell phone in their possession."
"America? The last time I checked this feed, less than 12 hours ago, these same people were gathered as families and expressing gratitude and satisfaction with their current circumstances. What happened?"
"Something called 'door busters', Captain. Apparently it's an economic ritual that allows Earthlings to save their money by spending significant amounts of it. So far, none of our calculations have been able to replicate similarly favorable results."
"Well, it must be valid. Look at them go!"
"Yes, Captain."
"There must be a logical explanation for this behavior."
"Captain, our research indicates that the Earthings are ... crazy."
"I can't imagine that's accurate. Is this not the same civilization that invented baseball?"
"Yes, Captain. They also invented the practice of paying people to play it."
"Cancel the invasion. I can't deal with crazy people."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy T-day, 2012!

Happy Thanksgiving!
We observe this special occassion of the one day a year when people willingly tune into Detroit Lions football on purpose by closing down through the weekend. See you on Monday!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Today's guest author: John Fontana

Depending on when you read this, the NHL work stoppage has resulted in me putting myself on a self-imposed "suspension" from Raw, where I cover the Tampa Bay Lightning. As such, managing editor John Fontana is currently just my friend and not my boss. He's also today's blog sitter.

November 1st, 2012.  It’s not a day that should have stuck out in most people’s minds.  All Saints Day, candy clearance sales, whatever…  It’s just another day.  That’s how it was for me.  It was a regular day with nothing other-worldly going on.  The NHL lockout continued, as did the dearth of things to write about over at my regular writing gig, and the 2012 presidential campaign droned on like a mosquito buzzing in the night – just annoying the ever loving shit out of me.

The mundane, status-quo of that Thursday receded as I surveyed the stack of mail that arrived for me. Yeah, some people still find relevant things that arrive via the postman, if you can believe it. One letter was a charity, looking for money to cure paralysis. A rather lofty and worthwhile cause, but it was just another charity that had come to me in recent weeks, seeking donations for causes of all sorts.

Another piece of mail was a Figis holiday catalog. Tis the season for holiday shopping, after all (note to readers: Figis specializes in edible gifts. I’ve had mixed results on stuff I’ve purchased from them. No, Clark, I will not buy you the Peanut Butter Pie).

It was the third piece of mail that made me do a double take before I started to laugh in disbelief. That was my immediate reaction, which soon gave way to a wave of emotions: frustration, anger, longing, angst, embarrassment, hope, despair, and feelings of my own self-worth (lofty to worthless). These and several other emotions conflicted, contradicted, complimented and coincided each other for the remainder of my afternoon and on into the evening. It’s hard to imagine one small, unopened envelope has that power and ability.

But the words “RETURN TO SENDER” have that power sometimes.

Actually, the words weren’t “RETURN TO SENDER” at all. Stamped in red was the decree that the “APO / FPO CLOSED” and that the address the letter was intended for could not be reached. APO/FPO denotes an armed services mailing address. The thing is the letter itself was sent 16 months ago. Thus the disbelief it’d turn up back in my mailbox.

If I was writing fiction here and looking to make this a tear-jerker, I’d start rambling off about an old friend who had gone off to war and died, tragically, without getting a letter that had been sent to them and how this was a reminder about that loss and how the main character was trying to overcome it and remained haunted by it. You could milk that story for gallons of emotion and pull at heart strings… Well, at least a capable storyteller could, whereas I’m a blogger, so the “capable storyteller” element remains to be seen.

But that story concept isn’t the reality here, not entirely. No one died, thankfully… Though I can’t say there were no casualties and no one was harmed.

You meet people along the way in life, all sorts of characters under all sorts of circumstances. Some are bit players you notice but never get to know, while others are integral characters. Sometimes the roles shift and backdrop characters become integral. Sometimes, people exit, stage left, early on and you think they’ll never be part of your own story again, only for you to suddenly come face to face with them years later. Seldom, where there once was nothing, it becomes something… At least for a time.

I had that happen with a girl I’d known through middle school. We weren’t just acquaintances, but I wouldn’t say we were normal friends either. We had classes together and interacted with each other there. She boldly told me sometime in 8th grade that she was moving to Maine and would never see me again. For the most of 18 years, I didn’t.

Long story short, I was re-introduced to her in 2010 by a mutual friend. She was a US Marine, had a pair of kids and ties to the Tampa Bay area still… We had a thing for a short while before she headed overseas on a deployment. During that deployment, I was a constant state-side contact for her, emailing back and forth (when opportunity presented itself for her to email), sending out letters in the US mail, the occasional care package with mundane creature-comforts that are rare and precious to a deployed soldier.

And, to be blunt, let's just say I got hurt.

This letter, the one that arrived on a cloudy Thursday afternoon that’s sitting, unopened, on my dresser, was originally mailed in July of 2011 – shortly after the shit had hit the fan between the Marine and I. We hadn’t fought, there weren’t hateful things said toward one another, bridges weren’t burned, but I tried to step back and cut the cord from her emotionally for my own sake. This letter – one of 38 that I sent over the months – was one written when I decided to break the ice and re-establish contact with her.

Hurt or not, I felt like I couldn’t abandon her. Despite the heartache, my job wouldn’t be done until she was back in the States. Off and on for the remainder of her extended deployment, I tried to remain a dependable entity state-side that I had been before.

At this point in time, I can say that the Marine got home after her all-too-long stay at sea that lasted beyond the originally planned length of the undertaking for her unit. Unfortunately, despite her return, our friendship has faded. Unlike that bold little girl who moved away, there was no declaration of finality. It is just estrangement that’s turned to silence. She’s resumed a life state-side – one without me in it. The few times we had talked after her return, conversations were stifled by awkwardness and an inability to just be normal friends. It’s how it goes sometimes, right?

That letter that arrived with a stack of junk mail is a testament to my dedication to someone I care about. It’s also a reminder of a friendship that has been lost to the vastly different worlds we live in and the different people that we are.

One of the last conversations between us – electronically, not face to face – was musing about that long deployment and a package I had sent to her that had been returned to me last spring (five months after I sent it). The Marine told me that she had written an article or a journal entry somewhere about my correspondence, the 38 letters from John (all of which she did not receive).

The proof of that fact is sitting on my dresser, with an “APO/FPO CLOSED” stamp on it. I wonder how far it must have traveled before returning to my mailbox. What type of adventures did the letter experience on its trek of countless miles?

The distance of that letter’s journey in 16 months pales in comparison to the gauntlet of emotions I’ve dealt with during that time.