Friday, November 29, 2013

Purple Friday

In case you haven't noticed, there's a real backlash out there against "Black Friday" and "Screw it, we're just going to open up on Thursday". Not enough where you'd notice it by looking at the cars in the store parking lots, but still. There's going to be a lot of trampling going on, a lot of not buying stuff from local, independent merchants. That kind of thing makes you feel bad.
Here's a remedy:
Me. Specifically, my book. Buying my book as a gift is the opposite of all the things that make "Black Friday" so distasteful. Here's proof:
  • NO TRAMPLING - Sales all take place right here on the internet. You don't have to step on anybody's head and nobody will step on yours. Unless you want them to. I'm here to sell books, not judge.
  • I'M LOCAL - I live right here, in a neighborhood. Not in New York or Hollywood.  Not in a network of international warehouses. Not in "The Cloud". I shop at grocery stores and eat at nearby restaurants. I have neighbors. I root for the home teams in sports. I'm totally a local guy.
  • I'M INDEPENDENT - I do all this myself. Well, I had an editor for the book. And an illustrator. And a photographer. And a cover model. And a big company actually produced the books. But otherwise, me, all me.
Why buy a book?
  • Books are where movies come from!
  • Smart people read books.
  • Nothing fits on a bookshelf like books.
Why buy this book?
  • It's purple.
  • It's non-denominational. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Witches. They'll all be similarly appreciative to receive this as a gift.
  • It's flammable. Good if you're stuck in the woods trying to survive or if you're a fascist.
So there you go! All that's left is for you to buy the book! Here's how you can do that:
  • The store at 
  • Maybe you like big companies? If so, they don't get much bigger than Amazon.
  • Maybe you like slightly small independently owned bookstores where you can go actually go inside and shop, maybe have a glass of wine. Sure, who doesn't? In that case, visit Tampa's Inkwood Books
  • How about a personal touch? That's cool. If that's what you're looking for, hit me up and I'll get you one or a dozen. 
Remember, not one of these idiots is buying my book...

Don't be like these idiots.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Holidays... Go!!

Today (Wednesday) seems like a Friday. Tomorrow will feel like a Sunday. A couple of weeks ago, time changed from "normal" to "feeling like bed time at 6pm". No wonder we all lose our minds so easily starting Friday; the government has manipulated our basic sense of time and space! We're disoriented and as a result, much more vulnerable to hoovering up all the food and kitchen appliances and food and booze and games and food and video games and booze and food and food. We live that way for just over a month until the end of the year, when we have one final blow-out binge before snapping out of it in time to pay coherent attention to college football and the Super Bowl.
In the mean time, don't schedule any meetings, don't expect to finish any major projects. In fact, don't expect to make any real progress on anything important at all. It's Crazy Time and everyone is too busy hating their families, hating shopping, being sick of holiday traditions while trying to spend as much times as possible with their families, buying all the shit and wearing ugly sweaters and singing Christmas songs to get actual stuff done. Accept it, surrender to it and let it wash over you. Shhh. Don't fight it and it will all be over soon.
And while you're waiting, contemplate this:
"Welcome to Dierberg's. First day on the job, huh? Yeah, we hire a lot of people around this time of year. It's because we seem to have a lot of turnover in this department around the holidays for some reason. Seems we no sooner hire someone than they're shooting themselves in the face or jumping off a bridge in front of a train. Weird. Anyway, you'll be starting out like everybody else does; preparing these 'holiday meals for one'. I don't know why we put that special designation on the sticker. Probably so that couples and families know not to pick them up. We're saying, 'Hey, put that down. That's for single people, spending the holidays alone, not for you!'. That's my guess.
What you do is stand here and fill these plates with a single portion of turkey, sole scoop of dressing, lone helping of sweet potatoes, an individual container of cranberry sauce and a solitary scoop of mashed potatoes with one pat of butter on top. Take special care to make sure the individual foods stay within their seperate areas on the plate. Don't let them touch or have any contact with one another whatsoever. Put the lid on, sealing everything off from the outside, and slap the 'holiday meal for one' sticker on there. Then put it in the cold, dark, lonely cooler, all by themselves. Go ahead and get started on that; I just had this overwhelming urge to stick my head in an oven, so I won't be back. Good luck!"

Monday, November 25, 2013

Big Game Hunter

My cousin MB posted this picture on Facebook of this enormous deer and the guy who shot it. I have to admit, this is one big-ass deer and in spite of the fact that I'm not a hunting guy, I was impressed.
My idea of hunting is that every hunter should be given one state-issued knife, stripped naked and taken out into the woods in a helicopter on Friday afternoon. Whatever the hunter comes out of the woods with on Sunday, including anything he might kill plus whatever limbs, organs and blood that were his to begin with, he gets to keep. Now that's a sport. Of course, that isn't how it is. Hunters can use high-powered weapons and navigation tools while animals get to be whatever animal they are. Doesn't seem like much of a challenge and I just don't see the fun in that.
Still, that's a big-ass deer. But upon further investigation, MB found out that "he shot this at high fenced hunting where the deer bred and fed". Which, by the sound of it to me, is a petting zoo. He didn't even go out and sleep in the woods. He drove to a place, paid a dude some money, shot the deer and posed for this picture with that stupid grin on his face. "Look at me! I'm the shit!" He probably did it between lunch and dinner. How the hell is that hunting and why the hell does he look so pleased with himself? Was it on a rope, tied to a fence? Did it have its head in a bucket, munching away on food provided by the staff who run the place, treating the "game" like pets? Well sure, but it could have moved one way or another, if it had any reason whatsoever to think somebody might open fire while it was lined up for one of its' three squares a day, which, come to think of it, no wonder it's so big. None of that matters to Ralph here, though, He paid to shoot a deer and goddamnit, he shot a big-ass one.
Way to go, Ralph.
You know I'd like to do? I'd like to "hunt" Ralph. Lock him in an Olive Garden for a couple of weeks and keep the pasta and breadsticks comin'. Then one day, I show up with a shotgun. Ralph looks up with a chunk of chicken parm hanging out of his mouth and he knows something's up. But, HA HA, too late! My first shot hits him in the left thigh, just below his ass. Shit. I biffed that one. He falls down and crawls pathetically across the floor, terrified out of his mind, hoping to find cover behind the salad bar. But guess what? It's Olive Garden; there's no salad bar, bitch! They bring you all-you-can eat salad and breadsticks, feeding you as one might a pet. I catch up to him cowering under a table and... is he still chewing that piece of chicken, like this is just a temporary interruption of his dinner? Aw, now that's adorable, I think as, BLAM!, I finish him off.
I take it back. That would be fun!

Friday, November 22, 2013

The ongoing search for humor in socially awkward situations

When you're invited to an event where you're going to be uncomfortable because the people who are hosting the event really don't like you (I mean, they used to, kind of, but then there was a thing and then some other stuff, none of which was that big a deal, but in terms of the whole situation, now you kind of have to question if they ever liked you at all, something you're inclined to do anyway, and the signs all point to "probably not" and so now it's weird and whatever and your presence will probably make them just as uncomfortable, in which case, why did they invite you?), but you still feel obligated to at least make an appearance, one way you can try to deal with it is by taking a fake date with you. A fake date gives you a variety of built-in excuses to duck out early.
"Sorry we can't stay but Brianna has to catch a flight back to Europe in the morning."
They don't know for sure that you're lying because they don't know your fake date and/or how serious your relationship is. Where does one find such a suitable fake date? I don't really know but I tried placing this ad on Craigslist:

Seeking short-term companion - m4w - 49 (Tampa)
So there's this art thing in Ybor City tomorrow (Thursday) night that I have to attend because people I know will be there. However, I really don't want to go because people I know will be there. I think I can get away with popping in for just a few minutes and then popping right back out, but that would be a lot easier if I have a date with me. I asked the girl that I liked and she said no, a decision I respect as I understand and accept that I'm making kind of a dick move here. I mean, I think I'm a pretty good person but this is admittedly not my finest hour. As a result, I'm turning to alternative resources (Craigslist) and I'm looking for a nice lady who is:
* Classy (It's not a formal dressy event at all but it's possible to be classy and casual, in spite of what you might see on a trip to WalMart.)
* Age appropriate (I'm 49. Let's say you're between 38 and 55. That sounds good, right? I'm sure there are some lovely, classy 24-year-olds out there but this isn't that kind of event. Look for my ad next time my high school reunion rolls around.)
* A good actress (You may have to hold my hand, laugh at something clever I say and generally pretend like you enjoy being in my company. How are your improv skills?)
Plus, it wouldn't hurt if you're a knockout. I mean, this isn't about showing off but while we're at it...
WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? Look, we'll be there for 20 minutes to a half hour tops. Afterward, if you like, we can get something to eat in Ybor, my treat. In other words, this is your chance to live out every girl's fantasy (since "Pretty Woman" came out) of being a fancy prostitute without all the (money) nasty, degrading (money) and/or illegal (money) stuff (and money). If you're interested in this kind of temporary, harmless deceit for fun and not profit (it's pretty important that you understand that I won't be paying you any money), please email me and we'll take it from there. Cool?

It didn't work (I got zero replies) but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good idea.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We are bitches

We are bitches. All of us. Every last damn one of us. Just a big, dumb, batch of bitches. Bitches by the billions.

"What kind of bitches, Clark? 'Bitch' has recently become one of those overused words with a wide variety of definitions and... "

Little, spoiled, whiny, snivelling, entitled, complaining-about-every-tiny-thing-that-doesn't-go-our-way bitches.

"Oh yes. That kind. Okay. Please continue."

No forum provides greater proof of our collective bitch-ness like the 'comments' section of any web site, particularly restaurant reviews. Specifically THIS restaurant review, posted by somebody (not me) earlier this summer on Google:

Let me start off by saying that LongHorn Steakhouse (Tampa, FL) has an incredible host staff and a spotless bathroom. Unfortunately, my experience with the food and the rest of the staff was below average.

I ordered a 7oz filet with a side of vegetables and a house salad with honey mustard dressing. Now, who cares about the salad, I was there for the steak, which wasn't bad for a steak cooked medium. The problem was I ordered my steak cooked between rare and medium rare. I told Glenn, the bartender that I would prefer another steak, this time cooked rare. He took the overcooked steak back to the kitchen and had them cook me another. About 10 minutes later (red flag) Glenn brought me out another steak, this one more overcooked than the last.

I took a couple bites then held myself back from throwing a temper-tantrum. Really, there was a beautiful girl sitting next to me at the bar that I was trying to impress. I knew that I could've either complained and gotten another chance at a steak and not the girl or I could've eaten the overcooked steak and gotten a chance at the girl. But not both. I chose my chance at the girl. Bad choice.

As I fidgeted the steak, Glenn asked me how it was. I said, "it's ok but it's still not rare" as I frowned and pointed to brownish grey meat. Glenn called over Robert Arnot, the manager, who asked me what the problem was, as if I had started a fight. I told him that I would eat the steak, even if it's not what I ordered. I wanted to impress the girl with my laid-back approach to conflict. Now, had Glenn and Robert cared about my experience that night they would've grabbed the steak from me and made the kitchen cook it correctly.

But they didn't do that. They let me eat an over-cooked steak that I didn't order. Either they didn't care about my experience that night or they were poorly trained in non-verbal communication and customer service. Or, I like to think, they were just having an off night.

I paid my bill, tipped 17% and got up to leave. Glenn walked over to me and patted me on the back. I wanted to kick him in the shin but I just smiled, walked out, drove home, jumped on my computer and wrote this review.

My recommendation is that if you decide to eat at Longhorn Steakhouse at 2055 N Dale Mabry Hwy in Tampa, FL 33607, you order your steak black & blue if you want it cooked rare, order it rare if you want it cooked med-rare, order it med-rare if you want it cooked med, and order it med if you want it cooked well-done. Or you could just go to a different steakhouse.

p.s. The girl rejected me anyway

For a steak you should go to some other place. The food was overcooked and only one side with my steak, while other places let you choose two. The staff was nice but not really excited, maybe because it was earlier during the day. Overall it's not bad but given choice I'll go to some other chain steakhouse

Today's lesson: The next time you employ the tactic of not acting like a bitch in order to impress somebody and it fails to get you laid, why don't you just go ahead and act like a bitch about it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Freak me out

I used to work at the Florida State Fair selling beer. More often than not, I spent at least as much money as I made out on the midway. That was how another beer seller, Rod Zeratsky, and I found ourselves behind the freak show tent late one Saturday night, watching a guy do horrible things to himself with metal skewers. We had been in the regular freak show, which is mostly a rip-off. Somebody billed as half human/half spider will put their head through a hole in a wall that has a big, fake spider body on it and everybody chuckles like, "Okay, you got me". But there are still some legitimate freaks out there who do freaky tings. Such was the case with the emcee of the show who sidled up to us on the way out and half-whispered, "If you guys want to see some real shit, meet me in back of the tent in five minutes." We could only think of about a dozen things that could possibly go wrong with a proposition like that so of course we went back there. There were five or six other people to whom he'd made the same offer. He came out from the back of the tent, we all ponied up an extra $10 each and he started torturing himself with metal spikes. At one point I said, "that's real blood!" and he said, "no kidding, I'm pushing real metal spikes into my real skin". It was disgusting, awful (and a little bit sad, as I got the impression that the family friendly, midway version of the freak show probably didn't pay that well) and we were glad we did it. Because who doesn't like to freak themselves out every once in a while? There's an odd sort of comfort that comes from knowing that people exist who do things that you, or anybody you know, would never do.
When I was little, it was easy to be freaked out. Things like women with tattoos, men with earrings, anybody with green or blue or purple hair and interracial couples. All those things existed but were unusual enough to draw attention. They didn't scare me, but they fascinated me. They were so different from what I was used to. Now all those things are commonplace and mainstream to the point of being boring. Some of what was once considered freaky is just people doing their thing. Sadly, a lot more of it is people affecting freakish traits in order to look like they're doing their own thing. That's downright tragic and really boring. The harder people try to stand out from the crowd, the more they're look like everybody else. There's a basic non-conformist uniform these people wear. Tattoos, piercings, a stupid hat of some kind and at least one earnest attempt at casual irony. True freaks are few and far between.

"I'm unique, just like everybody else."

The other day, somebody said they saw a bearded lady. Not a woman with some hair on her face, like she missed some whilst plucking, this (apparently) was a woman with a full-on, lumberjack-style, normally-seen-on-a-man beard. "I thought about coming to get you so you could see." Of course you should have come and got me! That's interesting! I need to see that. And apparently she agrees or else she'd shave. I'd be doing her a disservice not to come look at her. I don't need to point or laugh or even stare, but I need to know that she, and people like her still exist.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Back to the barber shop

I've written about my barber shop before. It's located at Fiesta Plaza in West Tampa, I've been going there for almost 30 years and I am frequently the only fluent English-speaking person in there. I speak no Spanish, yet the inherent language barrier has never prohibitted me from getting a haircut. They know what I want and I know what they expect to be paid to do it. It's a system that works flawlessly.
It's about 10 minutes from my house and about the same distance from my old place. Yet, for whatever reason excuse, I will sometimes get lazy about getting regular haircuts. Such was the case when I showed up at the barber shop a shaggy mess last Saturday. Suddenly, my barber speaks enough English to tell jokes at my expense.
"So, the kidnappers, they feed you but they no cut you hair? Ha ha ha ha!"
Okay. Ha ha. I haven't been here in a while, my hair is messed up and I'm still fat. Good one.
Then he tells it again in Spanish so everyone else can get a good laugh, which they do. One of the customers says something, in Spanish of course, and everybody laughs again. My barber, not wanting me to miss out on my own multi-cultural humiliation, translates for my benefit.
"He say, what was Bin Laden really like? Ha ha ha ha!"

"All right", I respond. "I thought this was a barber shop, not a comedy club. I came in for a haircut, not to be on Sábados Gigantes." Pause for translation followed by laughs. "Shouldn't at least one of you be wearing a sexy nurse costume?" Another pause, more laughs.
Yep. Always a good time at the ol' barber shop.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Words still fail us

It amazes me that after all these centuries of verbal communication, upon figuring out how to grunt air through our food holes to make words, and the billions of words that have been grunted to name and express literally everything that exists anywhere, that it's still such a struggle to put the perfect combination together in any circumstance whatsoever. I recently saw a commercial for some prescription drug that's supposed to help people who are trying to quit smoking (side effects include making your arms fall off at the elbow and death, of course, but that's another blog post). The non celebrity spokeseperson in a professionally-produced, nationally-broadcast television commercial for a medicine that has allegedly changed her life for the better offered this as a testimonial:
"If I could describe my life as a non-smoker, I'd say 'awesome'."

Wow. If only she could find some way to express her happiness verbally. If she possessed that ability, she would then reach for the most overused, unimaginative and now virtually meaningless adjective in the entire universe. That would be just awesome.
I shouldn't come down too hard on her, though. The point of today's column is that finding the rights words to express ourselves is often difficult. That's especially true when expressing sympathy. Everything seems either trite or superficial or selfish or just plain stupid. Not to the person who hears them. No doubt they're appreciative for what's behind the words but for the person saying them, it's frustrating. A friend suffered a death in the family recently. And, as always, I had no idea what to say.
"I'm sorry" - "Of course I'm sorry. I shouldn't even have to say that, but of course I'm going to say it because I am although it doesn't begin to cover the breadth of feeling here."
"I'm so sorry" - Well, thanks for clearing that up, Robert Frost.
"Hang in there" - Ugh. Seriously? "Hey, keep doing whatever it is you're already doing to cope with this because I don't have a better idea and it seems like that's working for you so, yeah, keeping doing that some more. You're welcome. I'll just be over here being an idiot, which is my way of hanging in there." Ugh.
"You have my deepest condolences/sympathy" - I heard somebody say that. There's a lot of implied gravitas. But it doesn't sound like something anybody would ever say without hearing or seing it somewhere else first.
"If you need anything, anything at all, please don't hesitate to just call me." - "In case I've ever given you the impression that it would be a pain in the ass if you called me, an assumption that is entirely correct, by the way, so kudos to you for figuring that out, I'm temporarily waiving that in light of this current situation."
"He/she is in a better place." - "Let me take this opportunity to make a declarative statement on spirituality without taking your feelings into account first."
"I know exactly what you're going through" - "Let's take me into consideration here."
Like I said, those words are going to be received graciously but that's how I feel saying them. Why hasn't someone come up with a phrase that says "I'm so sorry. You have my deepest condolences. I know exactly what you're going through. At least he/she is in a better place. Hang in there but if you need anything, anything at all, please don't hesitate to just call me."? I don't know about you, but something like "Uhhh...", spoken with a lump in the throat and with watery eyes would suit me ideally.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bringing you up to date on The Walking Dead

"The Walking Dead" is a very popular show on AMC that nobody seems to like very much. Honestly, for all the scads of viewers the show gets, there are an equal number of complaints about it on the internet.

"It moves too slow"
"The characters aren't likeable"
"The dialogue is poorly written and heavy-handed"
WA WA WA Whatever. I'm not here to challenge anybody's opinion but if you don't like the show then don't watch it by the millions.

Personally, I love it and I tune in every week. It's not Shakespeare or even "Breaking Bad". It's a show about a small band of survivors dealing with the end of civilization via zombie apocalypse (on the show they're referred to as "walkers", not zombies). Pretty simple premise but I think it's lots of fun. The walkers are horrifying and disgusting and you never know who's going to get killed or how. If you've never seen the show but have considered checking it out, here's a very brief quick reference guide to catch you up.

Here are the rules of The Walking Dead universe
  1. Walkers want to eat humans
  2. Walkers can only be killed by significant head trauma (shooting, bashing, arrowing, etc.)
  3. If you die, you become a walker, unless a friend does you the ultimate preemptive solid by destroying your head first
  4. Almost everybody is dead and walkers are all over the damn place
  5. Other surviving humans are even more of a threat than the walkers (supplies and safe places to hide are scarce)

Your key survivors are as follows:
  • Rick, formerly a sheriff's deputy in fictional King County, Georgia. He is a widower with a tween son, Carl and a baby daughter, Judith.
  • Herschel, a former veterinarian and former two-legged person, father of Maggie and Beth, owner of a wooden leg after getting bit by a walker.
  • Daryl, a loner, former meth head and lowlife thug, now a crossbow-toting sex symbol... although still pretty much a loner. The end of the world is the best thing that ever happened to him.
  • Glenn, formerly a pizza delivery guy, now hooking up with Maggie. The end of the world is the best thing that ever happened to him.
  • Maggie, Herschel's daughter, Beth's sister and Glenn's squeeze.
  • Beth, Herschel's daughter, Maggie's sister and Judith's babysitter.
  • Carl, Rick's son
  • Michonne, mysterious sword-wielding badass.
  • Carol, formerly an abused housewife, the end of the world is the best thing that ever happened to her... although she was banished from the group by Rick recently, so maybe not.
  • Tyreese, big, grumpy black dude. 
(Note: all or none of these characters may be dead by the time you watch the show. That's not my fault.)

The group is currently holed up in an old prison because, you know, walls and bars and barbed wire fences and watch towers and all the security that comes with that stuff (yeah, right).
"Could be worse, son. At least you don't have to play Little League."

 Here is a sample scene that never actually occurred, although versions of it occur every third episode or so. After this, you're pretty much up-to-date in a big-picture sense:
RICK: "We can't stay here."
TYREESE: "We've got no place to go!"
RICK: "It isn't safe."
HERSCHEL: "Are you referring to the incident earlier where one of us was almost killed?"
GLEN: "Or the one where one of us was killed?"
MAGGIE: "Or the one where a whole bunch of us were killed?"
RICK: "..."
DARYL: "Don't look at me, man. I'm a loner."
That kind of sums things up, regardless of what other plot points are currently in flux.

"No, you may not pet my squirrel."

POLL: What do you think should happen next?

  1. Rick should just leave
  2. Daryl should just leave
  3. Rick and Daryl should just leave together
  4. Hey, where are you guys going?
  5. Uh, nowhere, Carl. Just stay here and look after your sister. *
  6. Hey, it's me, Michonne! Don't forget me. 
  7. This is bullshit. Fine. Go. I'm a bigger badass than all of you anyway.
* Oh yeah, Carl's mom was pregnant by either Rick or Shane (who Rick killed long ago, followed by Carl killing walker Shane immediately afterward) but she (his mom, not his sister) had a difficult childbirth and Carl had to kill her to prevent her from turning, an incident that haunted Rick (not Carl) and made him (Rick, not Carl) lose his mind for a good chunk of season three.

"Hi. I'm Michonne. I don't play."
There. You are now up to date.

Friday, November 08, 2013

It doesn't always get better

Okay, for better or worse, I'm chiming in on the hot-button topic of the day/week/month: bullying.
This is a subject that has gotten a lot of attention recently, even before things really bubbled over with the situation involving Miami Dolphins teammates Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. I've had my personal opinion about the matter for some time but it's this incident that makes me feel obligated to say something about it.
Because a lot of people see this as a personal conflict between two grown (and very large) men, it's not bullying to them. Jonathan Martin, the protagonist ("victim") in this scenario, is 24 years old, 6'5" tall and weighs 304 pounds. The antagonist ("bully") is Richie Incognito who is 30, 6'3", 319. There are people who believe that a 6'5 guy who weighs over 300 pounds simply can't be a victim of bullying. Especially if he's a football player. Players in the NFL (who are increasingly showing up in off-the-field headlines as the victims of suicide) are supposed to be as rough and tough as soldiers. Martin got fed up with taunts that included racial slurs and threats against his family members and left the team. People say this makes him a coward. He should have "manned up", "done something about it" and "handled it". First off, I think leaving is doing something about it. Because he's big and a football player, he doesn't have the option that most of us have which is to simply remove ourselves when we don't like what's going on around us for whatever reason? No, that's not handling things, they'll say. No, he should have stood up "like a man" and fought it out with Incognito. Those people believe that Incognito would have stopped misbehaving and probably even developed a deep and newfound respect for Martin. I would imagine that in those people's minds, Martin and Incognito would go on to become lifelong friends and go on to lead the Dolphins to victory in eight or nine Super Bowls. Those people live in a fantasy world. I believe the problem is deeper than that, at least out here in the world that I live in.

It doesn't always get better.

Justifying what's going with the Miami Dolphins as something less than bullying is a hair's width from the mindset that women who wear certain clothing are asking to be raped. It's what makes people snicker when they hear of incidents where a man is the victim of spousal abuse. Come on, folks. Yet, instead of putting some thought into these things, I see and hear people trying to boil things down to the simplest terms possible by saying things like (and these are actual quotes):
  • "...the "wussification" of our great nation"
  • "Man, all I know is if someone said those things to me, I'd tell him 'here's where you can meet me, let's handle this like men.'"
  • "It's ridiculous and we wonder why some kids these days are growing up to be wimps and cry babies" 
  • "Our children are being taught by and guided by liberal pussies. This is a result." 
  • "I hate how kids now are being raised to be "victims" in everything. Take responsibility and accept the punishment." 

We should be a little more enlightened than that by now, shouldn't we?  It's bigger...and more important... than political affiliation and jingoism, isn't it? I would think so. We should have at least started turning that corner when we started making buildings accessible for people with disabilities without thinking of them as less than human beings. Ultimately, we're talking about what kind of human beings we want our children to become and what society should look like in the future, right? Probably, but we can't get there as long as people think there are simple answers to complex problems. Hey, for what it's worth, I agree that we are all a little too soft these days. If we had to deal with what the pioneers did just 150 years ago, I'm not sure we'd make it. Forget the physical toughness; with our "what's in it for me?" sense of entitlement, there's no way we'd have ever been able to establish the basic infrastructure that allowed this country to become what it did.

"...but I'm not going to California. Why should my taxes pay for some stupid railroad? Or any roads at all, for that matter?"

But I digress. You aren't liable to find a bigger advocate for taking personal responsibility than me and I believe we could all benefit from developing thicker skin. Life is hard whether you ever encounter bullies or not and ultimately, you have to be personally accountable and take some initiative when you try to handle your problems one way or another. I also think it would be great if every time somebody hassled you, you could just belt them in the mouth and they would settle the hell down and leave you alone. But those conditions are not part of the reality in which any of us exist. For starters, bullies rarely let you just haul off and smack them in the mouth. That actually runs counter to their preferences. What if you're not a lineman in the NFL? What if you're small, weak or unskilled in fighting and you don't have the luxury of a Mr. Miyagi or Obi Wan Kenobi to help you learn combat techniques? Or what if you're none of these things? WHat if you are the biggest, baddest, mannest man, with tattoos and everything and the other guys is just that much bigger, stronger and better at fighting than you are? One day, you reach your breaking point, "man up" and challenge whoever it is that's making your life miserable... and not only do you not win the fight, you don't land a single blow and in fact, you get your ass decisively beat. What do you think is more likely: 
  • that your nemesis, impressed by your spunk and backbone, gives you respect by cutting you a wide path and leaving you alone?
  • that your nemesis, now with the verified knowledge that he can beat your ass in a fight, decides to dial up the assholery and make things even worse for you?
Look, I believe that part of growing up is testing boundaries and a lot of that comes in the form of teasing and responding to getting teased. That doesn't always necessarily translate to "bullying", in my opinion.  I'm not saying that every kid who gets teased or picked on is a "victim". Nor am I saying that every kid who picks on other kids fits into this category, but many bullies are true sociopaths who actually want to destroy people on every level. There's evidence that Incognito was bullied as a kid, was taught to "man up" and now as a full-grown adult, has a track record of bullying behavior that goes back over ten years if not longer.  Are we to believe that not once during that time span did someone "man up" against Incognito, thereby teaching him a lesson and ending his bad behavior? Meanwhile, what about those who simply can't fight their way out of these situations? What do we say to them? 

"Well, too bad. You didn't sufficiently "man up" enough and now you deserve to be treated terribly for the rest of your life. Sorry. You are less than a man and therefor, you have allowed this to happen to you. Should have been born bigger, stronger and with an inclination and ability to solve your problems physically, LIKE A MAN. Of course, we still expect you to be a healthy, stable and productive member of society who treats others well, pitches in when we need help and raises good kids of your own, so good luck with that, you little bitch."
Not to mention those who simply choose to leave instead of fight or take it, and as a result, face being labeled as "cowards" which is at least as bad if not worse.

Yeah, I'll agree that all sounds really simple but it sure doesn't seem like a solution to me.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Go laugh at Boober tomorrow!

If you're in Tampa Thursday night, you should go to Side Splitters Comedy Club and see Boomer Nichols' (aka Boober Nipples) homecoming stand-up show. I'd be there but the Lightning have a home game, hosting the Edmonton Oilers and, well, duty calls. If not for that, I'd be at Boomer's show. He's a funny cat and also a good guy. See proof of the first part yourself Thursday night. The proof of the second part is that he has a smokin' hot wife and two adorable kids and that doesn't happen to every asshole who happens to be funny.

Boomer Nichols
Thursday, Nov 7, 8:30pm
Side Splitters
Tampa FL

Monday, November 04, 2013

Today's forecast: Love is in the air!

This is an email I received this weekend. Needless to say, I will be married soon:

TO: clark

SUBJECT: Don't get me wrong but you're really interesting to me...

Howdy, sweetheart! How do you do?
My name is Kenisha and I liked you so much right from the very first glance on your pics.
I like pals like you! That is why I wished to write this message and get an message for it from you.
So, let me tell u something about me! I'm a blonde beauty with perfect titties, amazingly long legs, sporty butt.
My breast's size is 2 and I am looking forward about meeting you.
So, do not miss your opportunity!

Wowie! First off, there's nothing sexier than beng greeted with "Howdy", is there? Not when it's followed by exquisite grammar and phrasing! Sure, we'll start out as pals (as is the case with any relationship between lovers or participants in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization) but she really got my attention with her physical description and I can tell we're soulmates!
"Perfect titties!" - Perfect, in that she has two of those PLUS one breast whose size is 2 (presumably 1 = small and 2 = big?) somewhere on her body.
"Amazingly long legs" - How did she know I like my women spider-y?
"Sporty butt" - Like a little red Italian roadster with racing stripes where the top comes down and the horn goes 'beep, beep'!

I do not plan to miss my opportunity so I'm writing her back:

SUBJECT: Re: Don't get me wrong but you're really interesting to me...

Howdy yourself, future pal! How do you do yourself?
My name is Clark and I am flattered so much right from your very first email.
I also like blonde beauty pals like you, what with your perfect titties, spider-like legs and butt like a convertible car! Beep! Beep! That is why I am sending an message via reply to it from me to you. How?
I am intrigued by your breast (not your titties; I get those. Perfect!) Please tell me, is it located on your torso, like directly beneath your titties, as though an upside-down pyramid of boobs? A size 2 could fit real nice right there. Regardless, I can relate as I have an extra buttock (it's under my testicles).
I too am looking forward around meeting you!

I can not WAIT to hear back from her!!

Friday, November 01, 2013

Listen to Grandpa

When I was little younger, I used to stay up really late and watch tv for no good reason. Lots of low-budget horror movies, tons of talk shows and every episode at least twice of "The Virginian". I didn't particularly care for any of these shows (okay, I did enjoy "The Virginian"), it was just something to do. Back then, not all TV stations aired programming around the clock, but the ones that did would run the Public Service Announcements (PSAs) obligated by the FCC during those late night hours because there was no sense in wasting a perfectly good actual commercial on the likes of me and the other no-life wackjobs tuned in during those hours. One of those PSAs that I recall (because I saw it a lot) addressed racism and featured a little boy talking to his grandfather while out fishing in a boat. I haven't seen it in a really long time but it went something like this...

LITTLE BOY: Grandpa, Jimmy says I'm a racist.
GRANDFATHER: Who is Jimmy?
LITTLE BOY: He's my black friend.
GRANDFATHER: If you think of him as your black friend and not simply as your friend, he might be right, you little cunt.
LITTLE BOY: Grandpa!
GRANDFATHER: Ah, shut up. I'm not really your grandfather. Your mom is adopted. Now come over here and go through my pants pockets. Try to find some coins or something.

I may have some of the details wrong but that was the gist. After that, I think it got kind of weird. Anyway.
I think they should start running it again, and in prime time, because a lot of people I know either never got this message or have forgotten it. They're very much into mentioning their black friends, their gay friends, their Jewish friends, etc. Actually they skirt it, or attempt to by phrasing it like, " friend Jimmy. He's black." It's kind of sad. Oh, look how diverse and accepting and tolerant you are. You're a special person. I wish I was more like you.
In reality, it's a full-of-shit move and you need to stop it. Just have friends and stop collecting people by demographic profile like they're a series of coins from the Franklin Mint. All of your friends share the same racial heritage? That's fine. Who cares? Nobody's going to think less of you if you don't have at least one of each ethnicity as a friend, just like nobody is going to be suitably impressed if you do.
Listen, don't overthink it. Don't go out looking for the "right" freinds. Sure, you don't want to hang out with people who are bad to and/or for you, but as long as you're not putting out the wrong signals, that shouldn't be a problem. Just leave your door open and see who wanders in. If it's two Jews, a gay dude, a couple of black people, an aethiest, four conservative Republicans and three Puerto Ricans and you enjoy these people and they have your best interests at heart, then so be it. These are your friends. By the same token, if there are 23 of them and they all have blonde hair and blue eyes, well, that's weird, but same thing; so be it. Just stop assigning labels to the people in your life like albums at a bad record store.
Would it kill you to listen to your grandpa?