Friday, June 28, 2013

Whom to hate THIS week (hint: it's Paula Deen)

Not long ago, we took a look at the way modern hatred works:

  1. Someone does something mean/stupid/thoughtless
  2. Somebody on the internet finds out
  3. The entire internet reacts by focusing their scorn directly on that person...
  4. ...until somebody else comes along.
At that time, the target was a bitter, ignorant self-entitled miscreant named Taylor Chapman. Her shift is over now because it's Paula Deen's turn.

Throwing up gang signs isn't going to help you now, lady.
Ms. Deen, the celebrity chef who justifiably earned worldwide fame and popularity with innovative recipes like this:


Ingredients: 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 cans (14 1/2-ounces) English peas, drained
Directions: Melt the butter in small pot and add the peas. Cook over medium heat until peas are warm. (Source: The Food Network)
Clearly, she's a genius. Or not. Because her carefully-constructed empire is at risk because of her casual use, and even more casual defense of her casual use of the word 'nigger'. Her odd strategy of trying to explain her behavior instead of offering a sincere apology is causing her to bleed sponsors on a Rush Limbaugh level and makes you wonder if she's taking advice from a PR firm that may not have her best interests in mind.

"No no, Paula. You're doing fine. Trust us, this is going to work out great!"
Anyway, that's who we're all hating right now, very, very much. So there you go.

While we're on the subject (sort of) of the word 'nigger', I'd like to get a couple of things off my chest. Over the years I've heard a lot of white people express anger and frustration at the fact that they can't use the word 'nigger' in casual conversation that "they" do, with the "they" being black people. As in, "They use it all the time but if I do that, it's a big problem. That isn't fair." My initial reaction when I hear that complaint is always to wonder what it is they have to say that can only be expressed by using that particular word? What idea or sentiment is it that simply can't be expressed effectively with any other word? People who get upset when they hear people use the word "retard" object on the grounds that what they really mean is stupid, so why not just use the word "stupid" instead of a word that insults and demeans people? Same thing here.

Secondly, why would you be angry at the people who are insulted when that word is directed toward them? It's not their fault. The people you should get mad at are old, white racists. They're the ones who put all the hate and meanness behind it. Even if you're just someone with a severely limited vocabulary with perfectly innocent intentions who harbors no ill will towards people who are different than you and totally not a racist, racists are the ones who have made it more difficult for you to have a conversation. Now, don't you wish there was a word as good as "nigger" that you could call them?

Third, this is 100% true:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

No mo' DOMA, Mr. (and Mr.) Roboto

Yesterday (Wednesday), the U.S. Supreme Court declared that gay couples married in states where it is legal must receive the same federal health, tax, Social Security and other benefits that heterosexual couples receive. This, while not a sweeping solve-all in terms of equal rights issues, is a significant step in that direction. In Tampa, there was a rally downtown to celebrate and talk about what lies ahead.

I went down there for two main reasons:

  1. It seemed like a really great place for me to sell some books! Gay people like fart jokes, right?
  2. I should really make an effort to buddy up with some more gay dudes because many of them have really hot, straight female friends. Networking!
Okay, all kidding aside, I thought it was appropriate and important to show support. I believe there's fundamental truth in the old axiom that unless everybody's free, none of us are. Also, we as one big messy collective can be pretty hard on ourselves when we screw something up... and often, that's justified... so we shouldn't feel bad about celebrating a little bit when we get something right.
Anywhere, here are some photos...



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sunday was weird

I've reached the age where I know I can expect things to go wrong, health-wise. Sure, really bad things can happen to young people and also people can live until they're quite elderly with very few problems. But once you hit 40, it's like all of your warranties expire and you really shouldn't be too surprised when stuff starts failing with little or no warning. You can crack your pelvis in half by rolling up your car window wrong. A turkey sandwich could make your pancreas explode. An eyeball might fall out for no reason whatsoever. There's no telling. I realize, understand and reluctantly accept this, as most people my age should. Because, basically, if you're over 40, you've already lived longer than John Lennon did and by comparison, you've accomplished and contributed absolutely nothing to the world and nobody wants to hear you bitch about your stupid life problems.
So shut up.

Still, since I have space here to fill, I feel like I need to talk about how what happened to me on Sunday was very weird. 
Saturday night, I worked til about 8, had dinner - peanut chicken at a local Chinese place; not a buffet, just a normal human dinner-sized portion - and went home. I felt perfectly fine and stayed up til 1am because Saturday Night Live was the one where Louis CK hosted. The next morning, however, when I got up, I knew something was wrong. I was dizzy, borderline nauseous and felt absolutely exhausted. I had an entire day of chores planned but felt like I needed to go back to bed immediately. I did and tried again two hours later, but felt exactly the same. I was hungry but the idea of eating any kind of food whatsoever nauseated me. I tried to get going every two hours all day long but never felt any better. I just stayed in bed and drank water.
A BRIEF ASIDE -  Can we talk about water for a second? We go through life craving ever-more colorful, chemically altered, sugar-infused drinks of all kinds but when we feel terrible, whether it's being sick or just really, really thirsty, who's there for us? Good, old, plain, cold water. I think we take water for granted and I feel bad about that. I pledge to making up for it in the future.
I love you, water. So much.
All day long, I slept for two hours and then tried to get myself going, which launched internal dialogues like this:
"Okay, I'm up. I'm up. I think I'm good now. Let me take a step. Oops, no. Let me lay back down please."

"Come on now. While we're up, let's go to the bathroom."

"Please, no. I don't want to. Just let me pee in the bed and lie in it. I don't mind."

"No no no, we'll go to the bathroom and refill your sippy cup with water and then you can lay back down."

"Okay, but let's hurry. Ooh, not too fast though."
Monday morning, I was all better. The appetite hadn't - and still hasn't - fully rebounded. I eat a granola bar which is basically the same as eating nothing at all and I feel kind of bloated and the idea of eating anything greasy makes me feel kind of oogy... which actually isn't a bad thing at all.
This does nothing for me.

But otherwise, perfectly fine. Whatever it was just came and went that fast. I don't think it was the flu because at no point did I ever actually get sick, as in at no point did I ever have any abnormal expulsions of fluids from any orifice (and yes, that's as tactfully as that can be written). The symptoms of whatever this almost-exactly-24-hour malady was were limited to dizziness, nausea (which, one of those may have caused the other) and fatigue. I just felt bad.
Weird, huh?

Monday, June 24, 2013

I heard that! Actually, you didn't

Tampa Bay (well, Sarasota) is home of the infamous 1-800ASKGARY, the reviled accident lawyer referral service whose ads infest daytime and late-night TV as well as radio around the clock. They're everywhere. They even had their name on the local amphitheater for a while.

They're in your face all the time, offering their service of pairing accident victims up with lawyers. I guess it's a valuable service, but the way it's presented makes it seem really sleazy, distasteful and kind of embarrassing. As such a lot of people make fun of it all the time, and that often takes the form of ridiculing the company's commercial spokesperson Roz, who refers to the company as "1-800AXGARY" and says things like don't be skurrred and confruzed." It's as if to say, "The company is so ghetto, they hired a spokesperson who can't even speak English correctly! Ha ha!"
That IS funny but the only problem with it is it isn't true.

"What?", you might be saying right now. "Of course it's true! She does it all the time!" If you sincerely believe that, it's because you have a false memory created by the negative aspects of a racial stereotype repeated over and over again. If you don't believe me, watch this commercial and listen to her.

See? She pronounces "ask", "scared" and "confused" along with every other word she speaks properly. But, and this may say something about you and your enlightened, sensitive, tolerant self that you don't want to admit, the stereotype of black people mispronouncing certain words, or speaking "Ebonics", somehow kicked in just because you heard a black woman's voice. This is very similar to how you might remember Will Smith saying "Welcome to ERF!" when he punches the alien in the face in "Independence Day". Yeah, that didn't happen either.

There are a lot of reasons to loathe 1-800ASKGARY but Roz's diction and elocution aren't part of them.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Wednesday, we partied

Wow. What a night. Wednesday night, we celebrated the release of my first book, "A Ridiculously Inconsistent Treasury". I didn't drink, but I'm still drunk. You know how people fantasize about being able to attend their own funeral so they can see all the people they love saying nice things about them? This was a lot like that. I hope everybody had as much fun as I did because I honestly did the whole thing as a THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me as a writer over the years in one way or another. At any rate, I now want to write more books... so I can throw more parties.
If you were unable to attend, or if you want to relive it again, here are some photos...
Me and my sister, Renee Warmack. She's one of the people to whom the book is dedicated.

with the lovable Rob Pastore and a plate of food

with Debbie Brooks

Kirk and Marian Moss, Wendy Ernest and Francine Bauer

.My cool musician friends: Ronny Elliott, Rob Pastore and Rebekah Pulley. I'm so hip! Rebekah and Rob played. I can't afford Ronny.

Liz Mulhearn, Laura "The 23-Year-Old" Cheek and Jeff Hartzog

My Raw colleagues: Patty "P=Mac" MacDonald and  John "Johnny Fonts" Fontana

with Jeff Hartzog, the Wizard of Ruth Eckerd Hall and a fellow Sun Dome alum

Spike and Mike: Slater and Pepper. Spike is the host of the "Spike On the Mic Show", Mondays at 8pm at Tune in!

Spike molesting Lynne Austin. This happens a lot.

Me and John Fontana. John and I have worked together for years but had never met face-to-face before  now. I used to liken it to the relationship between Prince and Clare Fischer, the man who did all the string arrangements (Purple Rain, etc.) for Prince's music. They never once met in person, interacting by going back and forth through the mail. So now the relationship between John and me is more like David Byrne and Brian Eno.

Look ma, I'm a sandwich! With Anna Decaria and Dené Williamson. I like to write books!

with Vivienne Brown and Tracy Yarbrough, aka the Ridiculously Inconsistent Players, aka  The RIPs

The RIPs attempt to deal with the problem of a human head stuck in a toilet (read the book).

with Michael "Jordi Scrubbings" Lortz

with Carlos Rosaly. We're both a little freaked out by the idea of people paying actual money for something I made.

Jeff with up-and-coming author Charlene Beverly, who is also a refugee from the ol' Sun Dome.

Oh, look. Somebody is entertaining the crowd with her celebrity impressions. Harumph.

Renee with Donna "If You're On Twitter You Know Her As" Lovebees

Spike, Renee and Lynne. This is Spike's preferred ratio of Spike-to-white women.

Aw, look at all the love. Or something.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tonight, we party!

Tonight is the big shindig to celebrate the release of the book. I invited more people than could come. In some cases, I knew there was no way they'd be able to make it, either because they're very far away or busy or both. But I couldn't let something minor like a logistical fact keep me from inviting them. That would seem rude to me. Anyway, if you're coming, it's from 7:30pm to 9:30pm at the Firestick Grill, which is the restaurant at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

PARKING - Your best bet is the Forum West lot, which is accessed off of Florida Avenue. You might see other lots and think, "oh, I probably won't get towed". Do not make that mistake. Because you will get towed and getting your car back will be nightmare. Seriously. Don't do it.

DRESS IS CASUAL - Seriously, don't dress up. I'm wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Ladies, feel free to throw on whatever you would for a Hollywood awards show or if George Clooney called you up after 10pm. No big whoop. Everybody just needs to relax, be comfortable and have a nice time.
Oh, if you're bring a guest who doesn't know better, tell them it's a costume party. I think we'd all get a good laugh out of that.

As I mentioned, everybody who was invited can't come. Here are some of the best RSVPs I've received...

"I wish I could be there in person, but instead will be there in spirit!!! Congrats, my cousin, so happy for you!" - my cousin Diane

"I'd walk up the stairs (or take the elevator) for you any day! Congrats!!!" - friend, co-worker and author in her own rite, Charlene Beverly

"I am so excited! I hope it's ok but I'm bringing a date....or two!" - my friend Kathi, who is apparently a swinger now. Lovely.

"Can't wait! I am sooooo proud of you." - my friend Renee with multiple O's

"Can't do any weekday vacations for the next year thanks to the new job, but I'll be there in spirit. Congratulations, Clark! It's a great feeling!" - Peevish Penman colleague Jody Aberdeen, in Toronto.

"I wish I could be there. I got a better idea, when you make your butt load of money off the sale of this book within mere hours of publication, like I know you will, I bought mine already, come back up here to the midwest & throw another party!" - my sister Connie, with the best idea she's had since... well, it's a very good idea!

"I'm buying a bottle of cheap champagne to toast in your honor since I can't physically be there. Just know that I'll be toasting several times." - Marissa Rapier, the pride of Kankakee

"I'll be there in spirit. In real life I will likely be in bed." - one of my writing partners with The Unbelievables, Jeff Hickmott in the United Kingdom

Isn't that nice? I hope the party is fun.

Monday, June 17, 2013

It's not Superman's fault if the new Superman movie sucks

On one hand, I feel bad for critiquing a movie that I have no intention of watching. On the other hand, it's the movie itself that makes me not want to watch it.

I'm pretty sure the new Superman movie, "Man of Steel", is going to suck. Big time.

Why? Simply because in spite of the prevailing trend in Hollywood, you simply can't run everything through the Dark-Gritty-Reboot filter and expect to come out with something worth seeing. You wouldn't be able to do it with Mickey Mouse and you can't do it with Superman. This is not some old fogey, moaning about how everything was better in the good old days. It's the fact that Superman, the character of Superman, by his very nature, does not lend himself to dark and gritty. He's Truth, Justice and the American Way. He's supposed to look like this:

Not this:

Batman can be dark and gritty because he's at best, a borderline psychopath. Bruce Wayne is all kinds of twisted and tormented and relies on becoming Batman as his only means of attempting to deal with all his issues. Clark Kent as Superman can do anything. His powers are better and stronger than anybody else's. There is no problem he can't solve with relatively little effort. Okay, maybe it's possible to mine some existential angst from that - and comic books and tv have given us a mooy, broody Superman from time-to-time in their attempts to do so - but at the end of the day, Superman just has too many things in his favor not to end up just fine. Putting him in a grimey, grubby looking costume isn't going to change that. Here's the test: with whom would you rather be friends? While you may root for Bruce Wayne/Batman and find him more "interesting" overall, he's not somebody you'd want to watch a ballgame with.
That's not to say it's impossible to make a good Superman movie. I think it can be done, but it's got to be bright, colorful and relatively lightweight. Actually, if you take the Christopher Reeves Superman movies and dial back on some of the campy aspects (Lex Luthor and his gang, in particular) you can pretty much nail it. I suppose there's debate over whether modern audiences would want to watch a movie like that, but at least it wouldn't flat-out suck. 
Trying to make Superman into some kind of edgy anti-hero would be like casting the New York Yankees in the underdog role in a remake of the Bad News Bears. Or more accurately, casting Mickey Rourke to play Sheriff Andy Taylor in a dark, gritty reboot of the Andy Griffith Show and calling it something stupid like "Mayberry: Reloaded".

Actually, I'd probably watch that.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Whom to hate this week

I have been waiting months for a
reason to use a picture of this cat! 
Like everything else, because of the internet, hatred is different now. At least in terms of how we deal with it as a group activity. It used to be that something would exist or happen that would directly impact a large group of people in a negative manner. These people would develop a natural, organic hatred for this thing and form a connection with others who were affected under similar circumstances. As a result, a network of hatred would be created from these connections and that network would become so powerful that it would begin to influence those who had a much less direct connection to the thing. This process could take place for years before any serious mass hatred really started to boil up.

Sorry, Poland. We didn't have the internet back then.
 Not anymore, thanks to the internet!
Now, we find out about something we don't like and we all - ALL of us - just start hating it, for about a week, as one big collective with no (or at least very little) actual personal stake in the matter. Just an instant, gigantic blob of seething outrage spewing vitriol from the darkest part of our souls for something we didn't know existed before we clicked on it.

Here's a very brief rundown of whom we have been hating lately:
It doesn't go back further than that because while I'm sure there was somebody or something that caused us all to be consumed in rage, that was weeks ago and who has time to care about whatever it was now? Sure, a lot of this is stupid and arbitrary (Honestly, what are the odds that even 1% of the people upset at Amy's Baking Company would ever actually find themselves in Phoenix for any reason, let alone end up eating at that restaurant? Do you know how many restaurants between Phoenix and where you live are owned and/or managed by psychos? Hundreds, if not thousands!) but this is the way we do things now: If you do something wrong, the entire internet will find out about it and instantly despise you for a few days. Maybe.
I say "maybe" because there's a lot of stuff going on out there and things can slip through the cracks. With that in mind, I'd like to suggest a candidate who truly deserves an entire internet's worth of hatred: Taylor Chapman.
This is internet hatred, which means
 anything goes, so your
bangs are stupid too, Taylor
Taylor Chapman is a woman in south Florida who made this video and doesn't know the difference between an obscenely inflated sense of self-entitlement and justified righteous indignation.
In case it isn't clear, this is all a result of her not receiving a receipt for donuts purchased during a previous visit. I feel bad for the DD employees as well as the poor bastard standing there who just wants some donuts and doing his best not to be a part of her assholery, not to mention all the innocent people with the not-unusual name of "Taylor Chapman" who will probably find themselves at the end of some unfortunate rage-fueled Google searches. At any rate, she truly deserves all the scorn and derision that can be heaped upon her, if for no other reason than her attempt to equate her reprehensible, racist tirade to retribution for 9/11.

If this is a front for Al-Qaeda, then I guess I support terrorists.
For more background on this upright-walking turd, here's a link to the story from The Smoking Gun's Buster section.
One of the last thing she says before the video ends is that she hopes it gets a million hits. Oh, me too, Taylor. Me too!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I know this is tempting fate, but...

The hotel where I used to work caught on fire the other day. $90,000 worth of damage was incurred and nobody was hurt, which is unfortunate. I realize that the way it's worded makes it possible to read that sentence and get the idea that I somehow wanted people to be hurt. Please, make no mistake; that's exactly what I meant. Certainly not any first-responders or guests or employees or any otherwise decent, useful human beings. But select members of the "management team" trapped under a burning I-beam or two? Oh yeah, absolutely.
Okay, not really. Nobody really wants to see anybody burnt up or crushed by flaming debris. Although, in some cases, it's definitely a lot of fun to think about!
See, I spent three years working at that hotel and it was easily the worst company I ever worked for. That stands to reason, since it's the worst hotel in town. Don't take my word for it though; I'm an admittedly disgruntled former employee. Instead, check out these reviews from guests on The oldest is from over five years ago and the most recent was yesterday. If you scan through, you'll see the same specific complaints pop up over and over again. Chronic complaints left unaddressed for that long should tell you everything you need to know. 
I was eventually fired because they said I had a bad attitude and that guests were complaining about it. I was never shown these specific complaints but I won't dispute that my attitude was terrible. After all, I was miserable. I won't go into specifics, but there were a number of problems with the way staff members (not just me) were treated. 
This was in the employee break area. The bottom line reads "No outside source can help you" and was posted in response to rumors that somebody had contacted the labor department about unfit working conditions.

Worse than any of that was the lack of support from management. We knew the elevators were death traps, we knew the free WiFi we advertised didn't work, we knew the restaurant was lousy. We also knew management would never address any of these concerns and that we would be bearing the brunt of our customers frustration and dissatisfaction. So yeah, I'm sure my attitude was terrible. Still, I think it says something that I was hired as a customer service supervisor for the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that ranks in the top ten of all pro sports franchises and averages well over 90% in customer satisfaction after being terminated by what ranks as the 87th (out of 158) hotel in Tampa.
There's no question I'm better off now and that getting fired was truly a blessing (I probably would have killed myself by now otherwise) and I know I shouldn't waste time, or risk bad karma, by getting enjoyment from this, but I'm only human. I promise I'll stop smiling while I visualize the people who tormented me surrounded by smoke and flames in a few days, as I transition to being happy while I visualize how they're going to pay for it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

It must be hard to be a tv news reporter sometimes

It must be hard to be a tv news reporter sometimes.
Imagine, you show up at the scene where some incident has taken place. You look around for subjects to interview and you find an African-American woman with long blonde hair extensions, wearing a NASCAR jacket with M&M's on it. "Oh yeah!", you think. "This is it!" Your cameraman hits the lights and you ask the woman to tell you what happened.

"Well, I woke up and smelled smoke and I was afraid the house was on fire. But I heard yelling outside so I looked out the window and realized it was actually my neighbor's house..."

Oh damn it! What kind of shit is that?!? That isn't going to get you on YouTube! A waste of a perfectly good trip into the ghetto. Why couldn't she have just started shrieking,

"Oh lawd, it was like Jumanji! I was all flappity-dappity with a jibbity-jabbity and a King Kong playing ping-pong in Hong Kong with his ding-dong! I like to have fell out! Sweet juicy magoosey!"

Where the hell is an Antoine Dodson, Sweet Brown, Michelle Clarks or Charles Ramsey when you need one of them? I tell you, those lucky stiffs on the daytime talk and courtroom shows have it made!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Take this weather with you

Thursday, around noon.
The red boxes are tornado warnings.
When I made the decision to live in Florida instead of Michigan, I was led to believe I was trading tornados for hurricanes. I would happily make that trade every single time. Don't get me wrong, hurricanes are no joke, but they give you warnings. At least a couple of days and sometimes close to a week before they hit. They'll still wipe out an area like a giant eraser, leaving you homeless, but at least you get a running start in terms of getting out of there and staying alive. Hurricanes are monsters but they're courteous. Tornados are straight-up assholes. A typical tornado warning tells you to take cover now, RIGHT NOW, cross your fingers and hope for the best. With a hurricane, you can sit down and watch tv for a half hour and get a fairly accurate prediction of where it's going to be and when, allowing you to pack some things, arrange a sitter for your pets, buy some supplies and head out if necessary. Sort of how you might make plans when you find out that Tom Petty is touring. With tornados, by the time you look up at the sky and say, "that doesn't look good", it's pretty much your ass right then and there. Growing up in Michigan, I developed a severe phobia of tornados, due in large part to what we learned in school. Here, watch this...

We watched that film (in stunning 8mm!) in school at least once a year, every year. That shit is scarier than The Shining! Now tell me how someone wouldn't grow up terrified of tornados?
It wasn't until I got down here that I learned Floirda has both and that's bullshit. All of this is to simply let you know why I'm not writing a "real" blog post today. Right now, Tropical Storm Andrea is bearing down on the northwest coast of Florida (not considered a threat to the Tampa Bay area), the weather around here is bonkers with multiple tornado warnings in effect (imminent threats to the Tampa Bay area and my clean underwear) and I might as well be 11-years-old because that's about how well I'm functioning right now.

Noon, Thursday: Okay, it doesn't look that bad but there were sirens going off and everything!
So see you Monday. Hopefully.