Monday, April 29, 2013

Some YouTube video titles are misleading

For instance, this one shouldn't be titled "WOW! Huge whale scared girl in kayak..."

It should be titled "WOW! Proportionately small idiots in kayaks almost get in normal-sized whale's way...". Because honestly, who has a legitimate reason to be out there and who doesn't? The whale is taking care of various bits of whale business (which consists entirely of "being a whale") and the kayak people are just floating out there and looking around at stuff with their dumb faces. If people like that showed up where you work and just sat around looking at stuff while you tried to do your job, you'd call the cops. Why? Because nothing you do as part of your job has the potential of drowning any non-essential knuckleheads with nothing better to do than lurk around, that's why.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Craigslist: Still a hot mess (emphasis on "mess". And maybe "hot")

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself with tickets I had purchased for an event I couldn't attend. I figured I could recoup the money I spent on them by selling them so I placed a free ad on craigslist. That worked out nicely as I found someone who wanted to go. I sold them at face value (scalpers are scumbags, by the way) so I got my money back and they got to attend the event. Everybody won.
The downside is I've been inundated with email from robo-hookers replying to my ad (it's listed in the subject line of the email), trying to get me to visit their porn web site. All the emails basically say the same thing. Here's one of them:
Whats up I'm an ordinary gal looking to find nsa fun but having issues acquiring a legit man. I picture we will be great in bed so when can we hook up? Before we proceed could you do me a little favor and gaurantee that you are indeed real and harmless? I hope you understand, this is unsafe for me and I'm nervous. No worries, it does not cost anything. I submitted tons of naughty photos and my location on the user profile too. I am ready to swap cell #s on there to prove to you I'm real. I'm on it now so talk to you soon! :)
They include a couple of photos of an impossibly attractive young girl in a bathing suit or some sexy lingerie to sweeten the deal. Of course I'm not going to do them the favor of including the link as I'm sure it's a scam site guaranteed to absolutely riddle your computer with virtual VD.
Craigslist took some heat a few years back for posting straight-up solicitations for prostitution. They've cleaned that up but now there's this. My ad was posted in the "CL > tampa bay > for sale / wanted > tickets - all" section and I'm getting a couple of these every day. I can only imagine what's happening to the poor folks who are posting ads in the "CL > tampa bay > personals > women seeking men" or "CL > tampa bay > personals > men seeking to cheat on their spouses in a car parked behind the Hess station" sections.
A really interesting aspect is the names attached to these emails. I'm going to assume that a computer is generating these things. I'm also going to assume that computers don't know shit about what human beings are named. Here's a list of the lovely young ladies from whom I've received these solicitations so far...
Whitemarsh Eldreth
Standafer Busbey
Brull Kaiser
Audria Kirchhoff
Thorson Eldreth (Whitemarsh has a sister?)
Creps Gani
Vea Delreal
Mastropaolo Widdowson
Rensen Skoglund (who I think may have skated for Finland in the Olympics)
Warchol Kalinowski
Albro Sylvia
Melgar Bucek

The one that really stands out, and troubles me, is Brull Kaiser. It's a horrible name, like a hybrid of 'Brutal' and 'Bull'. It's not a name that says 'Pretty!'. It's a name that says 'Dolph Lundgren in drag and slutty warpaint'.

"Come over here and play mit mein hair, mein little Kartoffelpuffer!"
Like I said, it's pretty obvious that some computer program spit that out and the whole thing is a scam... but what if? What if there's a slight possibility that the email is legitimate and it turns out that Brull really is a beautiful, intelligent woman with a really warm and sweet personality? Sure, she works all day on her father's dairy farm, chastizing lazy milkers. But at night, she sends out emails in the hope of finding her true love, like a sexy fairy tale princess. Alas, no one answers. Because her name is Brull. Brull! And poor, sweet Brull, she cries herself to sleep every night, tears trailing down her pillow to her silky, skimpy nightgown.
What if that's the case? What is that's actually a real thing?!?
I guess there's only one way to find out... Of course, I'm not going to do it, though.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Oh, K!

Remember lunch hour when you were in school? You'd sit with your friends and crack jokes about classmates, teachers or current events and you thought you were funniest people in the whole world? You weren't, but that's all right. None of us were. It's not the point of the story.
For the most part, you'd all hold your own, topping each other's zingers with clever comebacks. But there was always one kid at the table who was a step or two slow and couldn't really contribute to the witty repartee... except every very rare once in a while, that kid would chime in with something absolutely perfect and just blow everybody way.
Welcome to the funny table, K-Mart.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A few thoughts on the Boston bombings

THOUGHT #1: In spite of my tendency to be pessimistic and somewhat paranoid, I generally don't believe that there is a shadowy cabal of elite power brokers manipulating every single aspect of our behavior for their own selfish gain.
That said, something struck me as odd about some of the media coverage as the manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev intensified. Testimonial comments like this started popping up in all the media coverage...

"It's completely out of his character. Everything about him was wonderful. He was completely outgoing, very engaged, he loved the school. He was grateful not to be in Chechnya." 
"He spoke and acted like any other high school kid."

"I mean this from the deepest part of my heart: It's not possible it's the same person. It's just not possible."

"I don't really know how to react to this….he was a funny, sweet, goofy kid. It's not something you would expect from someone you know."
Here's what troubles me about that. I look around at our world today and I see real progress being made in how we deal with each others as individuals, regardless of ethnic origins, sexual preference or other inherent differences we have. Slow and incremental progress maybe, but at least moving forward. I mean that sincerely. The best example I can cite is the distinct and dramatic shift in how people view homosexuals and their pursuit of basic civil rights that has occurred over the last few years.
Now, the "of course" part of me says, "Of course, the media is publicizing these observations because seemingly out-of-character behavior is a key dramatic element in the story."
Meanwhile, the "but maybe" part of me is whispering, "But maybe, publicizing these observations serves to erode the trust and benefits-of-a-doubt we might be willing to extend, allowing us to fall safely back into toxic old mindsets like 'those people (whoever we happen to be talking about) are all the same and can never be completely trusted', because mistrust breeds fear and it's easy to control and manipulate people with fear."

THOUGHT #2: I tend to find myself in the dumbest places when something dramatic happens. When the space shuttle blew up, I was reading a comic book. I was vacuuming my living room when 9/11 happened. And when all hell was breaking loose in Boston the other day, I was devoting all my attention and energy to getting some Pop Tarts unstuck from a vending machine. As a result, I don't have any cool, profound, "I'll never forget exactly where I was when..." stories. Worse, I'm worried I'll be masturbating if somebody ever tries to kill the president or fire nuclear weapons at us.

THOUGHT #3: Who thought it was a good idea to let the guy who played Michael Scott and Brick Tamland be part of a SWAT team?

THOUGHT #4: Something or other happened in Texas around the same time, didn't it?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Happy Record Store Day!

The more you learn about the music business, the more you might feel like you really don't like music. That's because there are so many people in the music business, at both the executive and artist level, that are kind of scummy, mean, nasty and generally just not much fun. But there's danger in thinking that everybody is like that and using a broad brush to paint those who aren't.
One of the still-good guys is Jack White, who's best known as the brains behind the White Stripes and The Raconteurs. He also runs his own record label, Third Man Records, out of Nashville. I've always liked Jack White because he seems to have that 'mad genius' vibe that I find appealing (remember, I'm a Prince fan). He also seems to really love music and recognizes that it should be something that's fun. For example check out this plaything he's installed in his store...

How cool is that!! Debuting just in time for National Record Store Day (is it ironic that the only record stores that still exist are the ones that sell actual records?).
If you're in Nashville, check it out. And pick up one of whatever is made in that Mold-A-Rama that shows up at the 0:42 mark for me.

Friday, April 19, 2013

An adventure with Peter Pan!

I know this guy who likes to dress like Peter Pan and Wednesday night, I helped him retrieve his stolen canoe.
It's entirely possible that right now your brain made that record-scratch noise and you're saying, "hold on a sec, blog boy; you can't introduce a character who likes to dress like Peter Pan and then launch right into your canoe story without providing some background."
Fair enough.
For those who don't know, Randy Constan is a guy who lives here in Tampa and he likes to dress like Peter Pan. He's been on tv (Conan and Kimmel among others) and is something of an internet celebrity. I met him through various mutual associations. You're entitled to judge him as weird or whatever. That's human nature. Here's a link to his web site if you want to learn more but it's really not a big deal once you get to know him. Or maybe it is. That's his thing and if he's not bothering anyone, what's the big deal? And if it bothers you, maybe you need to ask why. I don't really know. I guess there's a lesson there about tolerance and acceptance if you're looking for that kind of thing. I'm really not interested in that shit right now and I'm just here to talk about how we got his stolen canoe back.
There's an unwritten code among those who drive pick-up trucks (like I do), it's called The Unwritten Code of the Truck Owner. If it were written, The Code would state that people will need your assistance from time to time in hauling stuff, and that when that happens, you do it, unless the person asking for help is an asshole or there's some other reason you just don't feel like it, of course. I guess what I'm saying is it's like many other codes or vows or pledges or promises in that it's something to live by and take seriously unless you don't want to for some reason.
The Code also dictates that you should help without expectation of a reward but that gas money and/or a meal is reasonable compensation. I'm a big believer in The Code so when I got word that Randy needed help, I offered my services.
I picked him up at his house, which is from where the canoe was stolen, and we headed to Clearwater, which was where it ended up. Along the way he told me how that all came to pass...

"Some kids who live nearby stole my neighbor's paddleboat and they were using that to access the pond behind my house and steal other boats."
"Would you describe them as a crew? A motley crew of scurvy knaves?"
"I don't know. I guess. I don't know if they're in a gang or anything like that. Anyway, they stole my canoe and put it up for sale on Craigslist,."
"Arrrrrrrr you serious?"
"Yep. Somebody in Clearwater bought it, not knowing it was stolen. I feel bad for them. Anyway, we're going to their house to get it."
"Seems like an adult must have been involved to broker a transaction through Craigslist. Did you notice a flamboyantly dressed gentleman, missing one hand, leading them, like, say, a captain?"
"No, but I saw them out there before the canoe was stolen and thought they were up to no good so I took pictures."
"Did you exchange cannon fire with them?"
"What? No!"
"When you get your boat back, you should put a crocodile out there to guard it."
"I'm sure there are some snakes out there but I'm not sure about any gators."
"This can't be the first time that scoundrel Hook has attacked your fleet."
"What are you... oh, okay, I see what you're doing. Ha ha. That's very funny."
"Hey! Tick-tock, tick-tock! Right? Ha ha ha!"

In case you're wondering, making subtle jokes about being Peter Pan to someone who lives as Peter Pan does not negate The Unwritten Code of the Truck Owner, as he and his wife took me to dinner at Miguel's last night.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A short conversation at a cable news network

"You guys, I'm so depressed."
"Is it the news? I'll bet it's the news."
"Of course it's the news. It's so..."
"Yes! Ugh!"
"I know. Everything is so ugh and augh and oog. Nobody is enjoying this news. I mean, at all. You should see my Twitter feed. Ugh."
"Who can blame them? It sucks!"
"I wish I was Jon Stewart."
"Or Stephen Colbert.
"Or The Onion."
"People love those guys."
"Sure. Fake news is hilarious."
"Not like this stuff, so... what did you call it?"
"Yeah. Ugh."
"You know what we should do? We should pull an Onion!"
"Do what now?"
"An Onion. A fake story!"
"Is that what that's called?"
"Sure. That's where they got the name."
"That is a funny name..."
"So let's do it! Everyone needs a good laugh right now. It will cheer everyone up!"
"Sounds cool! How do we do it?"
"We'll go on the air, keeping totally straight faces, and say they caught a suspect in the bombings!"
"And people will think that's funny?"
"Yes! That's how comedy works! Haven't you seen The Daily Show? It's funny because it's fake. 'Oh, look everybody, here's George Bush driving a car' or whatever."
"Ha ha ha! Classic!"
"Yeah, but we gotta keep totally straight faces. No cracking up like Carol Burnett."
"But what if people take it seriously and they think a suspect really is in custody?"
"Then it's even funnier! Then it's like, 'ha ha, because some people are so stupid!' Right?"
"Yeah! Oh, this is gonna be fun. We're gonna Onion America good!"
"We're gonna totally Onion the shit out of America!"

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The healing has already begun

This is a Facebook status posted by a friend of mine and the comments that followed. It all started around 7:00PM on Monday, April 15th, just about four hours after the explosions in Boston. I copied and pasted them around 11:00PM that night. I altered or eliminated the names and photos of the participants because, well, I didn't ask for permission to use them and if they find out about this and get mad at me, at least I can say they're not being identified. Oh, and I put other pictures in there instead because blog posts that are nothing but text aren't very exciting, and we not only need excitement, we deserve excitement!
Otherwise, I left everything as-is.

Original Post
4 hours ago via mobile
Someone please explain to me why, with no one behind me, they have me pull forward to wait for my food at the drive thru.
Like ·  · Share
One Guy and Also Another Guy like this.

Comment 1: 
I think some of those drive thru's have timers on them and keeping you there effects the avg wait time and goes against the store if you are there too long.
4 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1

Comment 2:
In the fast food industry all stores are ranked on speed and drive thru times. I'm sure they tell you to pull forward so they can clear the order and make the appropriate times.
4 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1

Comment 3:
Did that to me too. I have them the you are a f*#ktard look.
4 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1

Comment 4:
I think the entire idea is BS! I went to McDonald's for one of those wraps last week, was asked to pull forward, waited 10 full minutes, went inside, saw the kitchen area was full of food, ON THE FLOOR! and when I asked to talk to the manager (standing right there) he yelled at the staff in front of me, and it still took 4 more minutes for the damn wrap! On another note, I read same fast food was in the news, due to customer outrage they are going to get friendlier, yeah right! SEND RUBY! PLEEEEAAASE!
4 hours ago · Like · 1

Comment 5: 
I had to pull up and wait for an ice cofee one day...duh
3 hours ago · Like

Reply from the Original Poster:
Me too Judy!
3 hours ago via mobile · Like

Don't worry about us.
Because no matter what else is happening, we will not lose sight of what really matters. Simply put, there's no way We The People will ever settle for living in a country where we're expected to wait more than 10 minutes for something to eat sometimes (not all the time, but sporadically), especially the latest, trendy McHot Salted Lard item. Nor will we willingly get out of the way so somebody else can be helped while we wait, or tolerate restaurants that don't have at least one designated f*#ktard standing by to pour hot coffee over ice cubes (duh) the second we make that demand, God damn it!
Yep, we're gonna be just fine.

Photos by John Tlumamacki, originally posted here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

I apologize

Last week, I published a three-part series of blog posts complaining about the omnipresence of advertising.
What a waste of time.
It was tired, pedantic and came off as something written by an old constipated man in a letter to the editor of his local newspaper. Except it wasn't funny. And that's the worst thing; it wasn't funny. I thought it would be but it just wasn't. It wasn't my intention to churn out some uninspired, pedestrian rant about something that doesn't really matter and isn't going anywhere, but that's what happened. Oops! I'll admit to being distracted by a personal matter, but that's no excuse. I served up some really lame material and I'm sorry. You deserve better than that and I plan to make it up to you. One at a time, if necessary. That could take a while, though, so let's hope it doesn't come to that.
In the meantime, please accept my apology and this picture of Adolph Hitler wearing a pair of bunny ears as a token of my sincerity.
"Ich bin ein Hasenpfeffer! Moo!"

Friday, April 12, 2013

I'm sure all of us weirdos agree

"Goodbye, Jonathan Winters, and thank you. You taught me that being a weirdo could be a vocation." - Sarah Thyre

Madvertising (part 3)

When people put up signs, they expect you to read them. They spend hundreds if not thousands of hours, and at least that much money, to come up with something designed to draw your attention to it. Colors, lighting, font style, logos. All designed to stand out and catch your eye. It doesn't matter how many signs there are in a given area, they may not expect you to look at every one of them, but everybody who posts one expects you to look at theirs, process the information on it and then take some sort of action. That's why most roadways look like this:
And this:

If the signs weren't there, including the handy directional/informative ones the government puts up, it would look like this:
And this:

And of course, none of this takes into account the guy screaming at you on the radio while you're driving.
What's my point? Well, I guess if I had one, it would be that while I think that texting and driving is a bad idea, I think it's a little disingenuous to act like distracted driving is a new thing and that if people just stop texting, it won't be a problem anymore.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Madvertising (part 2)

Remember when billboards were just a flat surface with a picture and some words on it? Once in a while, somebody would throw a 3-D effect in there or something would move or maybe blow smoke rings. But for the most part, a billboard was just a big, flat rectangle and two guys in coveralls and painters caps would climb up there and mop a picture on to it. That image would stay up there for months, get faded from exposure to the sun or start peeling off in shreds under assault from the weather.
Those days are gone. Check out this monstrosity located in downtown Tampa...  
In case you can't tell, this is a digital billboard and it changes every few seconds, all day long. These are becoming the standard and you probably have a few of them near you right now. This one is tricked out with a satellite dish (to receive and download new content), a camera (so the billboard company, and presumably the sponsors who advertise on it, can monitor what's displayed at any given time) and a computer with its own self-contained air conditioning unit.
It's not only bigger than my apartment, it's outfitted with more amenities.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Madvertising (part 1)

Wherever you are right now, there are several items all around you emblazoned with logos. These logos aren't put there by the manufacturer to keep their corporate competitors from stealing things. They're not like cattle brands. They're there to remind you of their presence in your life and ultimately, to influence your spending habits. You are surrounded by advertsing. It's everywhere and there's no escaping it. From a purely scientific standpoint, here is exactly what your environment is comprised of right now:

  • Water or other liquids - 13%
  • Furniture or other stuff to sit on - 15%
  • Nothing (aka oxygen) - 34%
  • Advertising -  38%
 Don't believe me? Here's a snapshot of my immediate desk environment at work:

From left to right...
Keep in mind, this is stuff I put there. These are the things with which I choose to surround myself. There are no pop-up ads or handbills or any otherwise obtrusive commercial breaks. Yet, out of all the stuff that I'll stare at, and will stare back at me, for (at least) eight hours today and 40 hours over the week, exactly one thing, a cheap rubber toy, isn't seeking to influence my spending for more office supplies or tickets or souvenir t-shirts or newspaper subscriptions or college tuitions or other goods and services. And why do I even have the stupid little rubber toy? I don't recall when, where or why I got it, but if I had to guess, I'd say I've become so conditioned to a constant barrage of advertising on every one of my senses at all waking hours that I probably found myself at a point in my life where I had gone more than five minutes without spending any money on stupid shit that serves no purpose which made me feel weird and sick, so I felt obligated to drop a quarter into a gumball machine to make myself feel better.
It's enough to make you afraid to look around... which is what we'll do here Wednesday.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Anatomy of a hilarious anecdote

Someone I work with thinks they're hilarious. This is a story they told this morning...

SET-UP: Another co-worker mentioned that a shirt they washed last night is ruined because it shrunk in the washing machine.
EXPRESSION OF EMPATHY: "That happens to me too!"
WILDLY UNUSUAL VARIANCE: "And sometimes, something will shrink."
HILARITY ENSUES: "Ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Guns don't kill people, dumpsters might though

Hey, do you know what's kind of obnoxious about this enormous dumpster taking up several prime parking spots in my apartment complex, aside from influencing people from parking their vehicles that way (see the truck in the background)?

It's this sign...

"DO NOT PLAY ON OR AROUND".It doesn't say "DO NOT CLIMB INSIDE AND SCAVENGE FOR FOOD OR SCRAP METAL" or "DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MOVE WITHOUT PROPER EQUIPMENT". That's because the first thing someone thinks when they see this thing piled high with construction debris is WEEEEEEEEEEE!! Sure, it doesn't resemble a bouncy castle or a swingset ; it's a dumpster. It's for the disposal of detritus, jettisoning junk and removing rubbish, by self-evident definition, not something to play on or around. Still, somebody thought it was a good idea to remind people not to play around with it. And that's still not even the obnoxious thing; the obnoxious thing is that it's undoubtedly a good and necessary idea. It's almost easier to picture some stupid kid playing around in there than not Or more likely, an "adult". It's certainly easy to understand how the people who own the dumpster wouldn't want to be responsible in any way for some idiot of any age climbing in there and hitting their big dumb head or cutting themselves on a piece of rusty jagged sheet metal, passing out, getting hauled to the dump and buried to death.Who wants to be sued for something so dumb? 
Trust me when I tell you there's nothing fun in, around or about that stupid, nasty dumpster, okay?
Now, does this look infected to you?

Monday, April 01, 2013


I don't have a lot of decorative accessories on my truck. I firmly believe that there's way too much oversharing of information when it comes to how people trick out their rides. Being behind you at a traffic light is not where I should find out how you voted in the last election, that you have a wife, three kids and a dog, two of the kids are honor students (who dropped the ball on #3 there?), that you run marathons, you're a big fan of the Boston Celtics and that your back window is dedicated to the loving memory of someone who died at the age of 23. Also, if you have more than four band stickers on the back of your car, you're a bigger fan of stickers than you are of music.
However, I recently expressed my appreciation of a certain decoration and didn't know where to find one. My friend Donna got me one for my birthday (the only person who gave me an actual birthday gift, by the way, sniff and sob). Here it is...

SOMETHING YOU NEED TO KNOW - The fish that the dino is munching on is an Ichthys or Ichthus or Ikhthus from the Koine Greek word ( ΙΧΘΥΣ or ΙΧΘΥϹ) for "fish" and that ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthys) is an acronym for "Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ", (Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr), which translates into English as "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior".

I like it because I like dinosaurs, not because I'm knocking Christians or making any kind of religious statement at all really. I do think it's funny though. I fully recognize that this doesn't absolve me from possibly offending someone, that my little chuckle doesn't negate the feelings of someone who places value in that particular symbol. Even though, at least in the case of the Baronyx, it's historically accurate...

Point being, I realize that one day somebody might say something to me about it and I'll have to make a decision about how I respond to that.

This was on my mind the other day when I found myself behind someone in traffic who had the traditional Ichthys on the back of their car. It was heavily on my mind when I passed them and ended stopped at a red light with them directly behind me. Now I felt like I'm just thrusting my irreverent, blasphemous, disrespectful truck art right in their face. "Yeah, take it. You like that? Urgh!! Yeah! You like that?" I sat there glancing back and forth between the red light in front of me and the driver behind me, wondering if he was going to get out of the car and tap on my window with a softball bat. Imagine my surprise when... absolutely nothing happened.
The light turned green, I drove off, they eventually turned and I never saw them again.
I waste a lot of time worrying about stuff that never happens.