Monday, March 31, 2014

I'm not God

Due to the inherent quirkiness that is a professional sports schedule, after not having a home game on a Monday all season, this past month the Tampa Bay Lightning played three in a row. As a result, I was unable to participate in the Spike On The Mic Show for those three weeks. Last week, in my absence, my friend and co-star P.W. Fenton announced on the show that I am God. He was doing a comedy bit, of course. I'm pretty sure he doesn't believe in God and I'm certain that he doesn't believe that I am He.

Let me put to rest any and all doubts (as though there are any): I am not God. I am not even a god, let alone the God.

Being a demigod might be cool, though
It was just for fun, but it made me uncomfortable. Not in a "Ye shall be smited down for thy acts of heresy and blasphemy" way. I don't really believe in that kind of thing, largely due to the fact that there are so many un-smited people running around and committing truly heinous acts in His name. No, it made me uncomfortable in a "what if somebody doesn't think P.W. is kidding and they start worshiping me as they're lord and savior?" way. Hey, it could happen. There are always handfuls of people who can be easily convinced to believe the most stupid things.
Sometimes, a few is more than enough
I think most of us have fantasized about being omnipotent. I know I have. And after running through all the scenarios in my head, I know I wouldn't want it in real life. After making all my enemies suffer and healing all the sick animals, what's left would be a huge pain in the ass. For all its flaws and drawbacks, this universe does not deserve a God as lazy as I am. Can you even imagine the demands and expectations? People all over the planet, most of whom I'm sure I don't like even though I've never met them, wanting stuff, asking for things and getting mad at me when things don't go their way. Ugh. God has a hard job. I have an easy one (at least by comparison) and that suits me fine.I mean, people I don't like want stuff, ask me for things and get mad at me when things don't go their way, but it's manageable in that there are no lives at stake.
That's the other thing. My threshold for pain and suffering is way too low to even think about filling God's shoes for anything other than completely selfish purposes. This past weekend after learning about the so-called "Instant Karma" road rage incident (the driver was engaging in just as much unsafe driving as the protagonist and is at least as much of an asshole), SELF magazine ridiculing a woman for wearing tutus when she runs in marathons (They apologized when they found out she's a cancer survivor but where does a magazine that touts itself as a resource for women seeking to improve themselves get off on criticizing any healthy, harmless activity that a woman enjoys, regardless of that woman's cancer status? Go fuck yourSELF, SELF) and finally, learning that somebody ran over my friend's five-month-old puppy in front of his children and didn't even bother to stop and I felt like crawling into bed for a week (I pretty much did exactly that for a day and a half). Drought, famine, war and disease on a global scale? Way beyond my ability to even comprehend, let alone address.

So no, I'm not God, and I sincerely thank Whomever is for that.

Friday, March 28, 2014

It's almost that time again

March is almost over and unless I'm completely misinformed, April is up next. That means it's time to put another podcast together. It also means it's time to find another sponsor. The good news is (unless you hate the month of March and consider the fact that it's almost over enough good news for one day) my offer of free sponsorship from last month is still valid once again! Here's how it works:

Maybe you make these
And you want me to help you sell them. For free. Okay, no problem. The sponsorship announcement I write for you and then read in a professional-like manner might come out something like this:
"This edition of the The Ridiculously Inconsistent Podcast is made possible by a grant from Marge's (for the sake of this example, your name is Marge) Homemade Hats. If you're looking for a homemade hat, make it Marge's! That's Marge's Homemade Hats; Make your head happy!"
See? Awesome! And your cost? $0! Even better! The only possible drawback is that it's probably going to come out more like this:
"This edition of The Ridiculously Inconsistent Podcast is made possible by a grant from Marge's Homemade Hats. If you're looking for a way to make your head look even more stupid than it already does, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better way of doing that than by strapping on one of these shoddy mishaps and actually wandering around in public for a little while. That's Marge's Homemade Hats; I don't know why she hates your head but she clearly does."
Of course all you have to do to save yourself from that scenario, is simply not being the purveyor of shitty goods and/or services!

April's podcast will go up some time next week so get in touch real quick. First come, first served.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Nobody respects Amanda's stuff

This is Amanda:
Photo not available
Actually, Amanda didn't want her picture taken. Amanda is an intern where I work. She is the person primarily responsible for the 50/50 drawing, one of many ways in which we raise money for charity. This is her cubicle at work:
This is her base of operations, her central command post where she administrates a pretty big deal. The problem is, nobody respects Amanda's stuff. Check it out...

These are hockey sticks that have been re-purposed as signs, used by ticket sellers to draw attention to themselves. Do you know what the boys in the office use them for when Amanda isn't around? Hockey sticks. And by that I mean they hit and poke at stuff and each other.

This is Amanda's hand sanitizer. It's only hers in that she paid for the bottle. Most of what was inside of the bottle has been used by a guy in the office named Bobby. Bobby has a kind of manifest destiny attitude towards things in the office, even things that most law enforcement entities would not recognize as his. He uses Amanda's hand sanitizer at least twice a day. That means at least twice a day, the office smells like strawberries. Because a man squirts this stuff on his hands.

Amanda has a stash of candy bars in this lower drawer. She uses the candy bars to reward her ticket sellers. They're Payday candy bars. I don't really want to talk about how I know that.

I guess my point is that Amanda has it pretty rough around our office.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ray of lies

The other day, I watched the Madonna documentary film "Truth or Dare". It was the first time I'd seen it since watching it in a theater when it came out back in 1991. At the time, I was one of the people suitably impressed with what an open and honest film it was and, as it doesn't always portray her in the best light, how bold and brave Madonna was for going through with it. Apparently, I was/am a chump.
At best, I'd say the film hasn't aged well (insert your own Madonna joke here). With the "benefit" of two decades of "reality television", it's pretty easy to spot situations that are contrived or manipulated for effect, and in the case of "Truth or Dare", that's almost all of it. Even (especially) the many, many scenes where Madonna comes off as a jerk.
I was never the world's biggest Madonna fan but I would pay attention to her antics. Plus, one of her back-up singers back then was Niki Harris, with whom I went to school (where she was known as Nicki Haire) and it was always cool to see her perform with somebody as big as Madonna. I respected her as a provocative, boundary-stretching artist and I was entertained by her pushing the buttons of all the rubes who just didn't "get" it. I guess I was one of those rubes all along.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Jump on it!

I've been working a lot lately, long days, very little time off. As a result, I'm tired. When I get tired, I get a little loopy. Which is probably at least a contributing factor in the sudden realization I had driving home at 1AM the other night, that The Sugar Hill Gang song "Apache" would make a great movie!
(NOTE: Some of what follows may be deemed offensive. If that applies to you, there's something wrong with you because ALL of it should be deemed offensive. Try not to let it throw you.)
It would take place, of course, in the old west, and would be presented in chapters, like a Tarantino film. A majority of the cast would be African American, even the Native American "squaws", all of whom will wear short, tight buckskin minidresses, braided pigtails and beaded headbands. There will be a handful of caucasians, who mostly stand around and exclaim, "Gawlly!" and "Tarnation!!"
First, we meet Big Bank Hank. He's a the chief of a Native American tribe and he drives around in a Cadillac Seville. He and his tribe are famous (enshrined in a hall of fame, in fact), not because he drives a car that won't exist for about 100 years but because, as it turns out, he shot the legendary outlaw Jesse James!
Next up is the Lone Ranger, although in this story he's better known as Master G. He consults with Wonder Mike, his trusted companion and personal "medicine man" and has a vision: quickly, he must sexually satisfy as many women as possible, specifically the Native American "squaws" whose mates have all been massacred by white pioneer settlers. He convinces Hank to team up so they can accomplish this together.
The third chapter is dedicated to the backstory of Wonder Mike, the mystical Native American shaman. Wonder Mike uses his powers to introduce tribes to hot buttered popcorn and dances that make their moccasins come off.
At this point, all three men join forces and head west to the frontier town of Sugar Hill. There, they have sex with all the squaw widows and even some of the more attractive white women. Soon, people from all over start hearing about Sugar Hill and what's going on there and they travel there to experience it for themselves. Women, to have sex with the Sugar Hill Gang and (white) men, including historical figures like General George Custer who want to put a stop to it (they're all killed in epic gun and kung-fu battles with the Gang). This all plays out over the course of about three hours or so and then we see "The End".

I think this has the potential to make billions of dollars and be one of the greatest movies of all time.
Or I could just be really tired.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Guess who's old(ish)!

The other day, I got this in the mail:

Gyah! The dreaded letter from AARP, which stands for "Act your Age. Really, People"! I haven't opened it but I know what it says:
"You're one of us now. You've crossed the line. Upon receipt of this letter, it is now officially embarrassing for you to chase after young girls. Embrace your sudden hatred of current pop music and your newfound love of hard candy. We're AARP and we understand and care about you...although nobody else does."

B-but I don't like to act my age. I never have. When I was a little kid, I acted like an adult. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be 40. Mostly because John Lennon made 40 sound fantastic, even though he didn't get to be that age for very long. Throughout all of it, I've bought and played with toys and farts make me laugh. I'm still incredibly immature! I'm also selfish and spoiled and I've grown extremely fond of doing whatever I want and not doing anything I don't and I don't want to be old. Not out of some irrational fear of my mortality, just because it doesn't sound like much fun.
Doesn't matter. Once they hang a number on you, that's what you are.

I'm so old, I remember when CNN was credible and reliable

Oh well. Guess I might as well embrace it. And by "embrace it", I mean pick and choose what aspects suit me, as in perks, and ignore all the rest of it. That's right, I'm going to be that old guy in front of you, hanging up the line and demanding my senior discount, and screw you, that's why. I'm old now. I may have fought in any number of wars for your worthless, ungrateful ass. I didn't, but that's besides the point. The music you like blows.
In that spirit, I looked up a list of what I get now, and this is it:

•Krispy Kreme: 10% off
•Shoney’s: 10% off
•Steak ‘n Shake: 10% off every Monday & Tuesday
•Tea Room Cafe: 10% off

•Bealls: 20% off first Tuesday of each month
•Big Lots: 30% off
•C.J. Banks: 10% off every Wednesday
•Goodwill: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
•Hallmark: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
•Rite Aid: 10% off on Tuesdays & 10% off prescriptions

•American Discount Stores: 10% off every Monday
•Hy-Vee: 5% off one day a week (date varies by location)
•Kroger: 10% off (date varies by location)
•The Plant Shed: 10% off every Tuesday

•Continental Airlines: no initiation fee for Continental Presidents Club & special fares for select destinations
•Trailways Transportation System: various discounts for ages 50+
•Mainstay Suites: 10% off with Mature Traveler’s Discount (50+)
•Busch Gardens Tampa, FL: $13 off one-day tickets
•Cinemark/Century Theaters: up to 35% off
•SeaWorld, Orlando , FL : $3 off one-day tickets

•Jitterbug: $10/month cell phone service

That's it? Seems pretty skimpy, compared to what I get if I'm willing to stay alive long enough:

•Applebee’s: 15% off with Golden Apple Card (60+)
•Arby’s: 10% off ( 55 +)
•Ben & Jerry’s: 10% off (60+)
•Bennigan’s: discount varies by location (60+)
•Bob’s Big Boy: discount varies by location (60+)
•Boston Market: 10% off (65+)
•Burger King: 10% off (60+)
•Chick-Fil-A: 10% off or free small drink or coffee ( 55+)
•Chili’s: 10% off ( 55+)
•CiCi’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
•Denny’s: 10% off, 20% off for AARP members ( 55 +)
•Dunkin’ Donuts: 10% off or free coffee ( 55+)
•Einstein’s Bagels: 10% off baker’s dozen of bagels (60+)
•Fuddrucker’s: 10% off any senior platter ( 55+)
•Gatti’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
•Golden Corral: 10% off (60+)
•Hardee’s: $0.33 beverages everyday (65+)
•IHOP: 10% off ( 55+)
•Jack in the Box: up to 20% off ( 55+)
•KFC: free small drink with any meal ( 55+)
•Long John Silver’s: various discounts at locations ( 55+)
•McDonald’s: discounts on coffee everyday ( 55+)
•Mrs. Fields: 10% off at participating locations (60+)
•Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+)
•Sweet Tomatoes: 10% off (62+)
•Taco Bell : 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)
•TCBY: 10% off ( 55+)
•Village Inn: 10% off (60+)
•Waffle House: 10% off every Monday (60+)
•Wendy’s: 10% off ( 55 +)
•Whataburger: 10% off (62+)
•White Castle: 10% off (62+)

•Belk’s: 15% off first Tuesday of every month ( 55 +)
•Bon-Ton Department Stores: 15% off on senior discount days ( 55 +)
•Clarks : 10% off (62+)
•Dress Barn: 20% off ( 55+)
•Kohl’s: 15% off (60+)
•Ross Stores: 10% off every Tuesday ( 55+)
•The Salvation Army Thrift Stores: up to 50% off ( 55+)
•Stein Mart: 20% off red dot/clearance items first Monday of every month ( 55 +)

•Albertson’s: 10% off first Wednesday of each month ( 55 +)
•Compare Foods Supermarket: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
•DeCicco Family Markets: 5% off every Wednesday (60+)
•Fry’s Supermarket: free Fry’s VIP Club Membership & 10% off every Monday ( 55 +)
•Great Valu Food Store: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
•Gristedes Supermarket: 10% off every Tuesday (60+)
•Harris Teeter: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
•Morton Williams Supermarket: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
•Publix: 15% off every Wednesday ( 55 +)
•Rogers Marketplace: 5% off every Thursday (60+)
•Uncle Guiseppe’s Marketplace: 15% off (62+)

•Alaska Airlines: 50% off (65+)
•American Airlines: various discounts for 50% off non-peak periods (Tuesdays – Thursdays) (62+)
•Southwest Airlines: various discounts (65+)
•United Airlines: various discounts (65+)
•U.S. Airways: various discounts (65+)
•Amtrak: 15% off (62+)
•Greyhound: 15% off (62+)
•Holiday Inn: 20-40% off depending on location (62+)
•Best Western: 40% off (55+)
•Cambria Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
•Waldorf Astoria – NYC $5,000 off nightly rate for Presidential Suite (55 +)
•Clarion Motels: 20%-30% off (60+)
•Comfort Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
•Comfort Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
•Econo Lodge: 40% off (60+)
•Hyatt Hotels: 25%-50% off (62+)
•InterContinental Hotels Group: various discounts at all hotels (65+)
•Mainstay Suites: 10% off with Mature Traveler’s Discount (50+); 20%-30% off (60+)
•Marriott Hotels: 25% off (62+)
•Motel 6: Stay Free Sunday nights (60+)
•Myrtle Beach Resort: 30% off ( 55 +)
•Quality Inn: 40%-50% off (60+)
•Rodeway Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
•Sleep Inn: 40% off (60+)

•AMC Theaters: up to 30% off ( 55 +)
•Bally Total Fitness: $100 off memberships (62+)
•Carmike Cinemas: 35% off (65+) •U.S. National Parks: $10 lifetime pass; 50% off additional services including camping (62+)

•AT&T: Special Senior Nation 200 Plan $19.99/month (65+)
•Verizon Wireless: Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus Plan $29.99/month (65+)

•Great Clips: $8 off haircuts (60+)
•Supercuts: $8 off haircuts (60+)

That's baloney. They're saving all the good stuff for all the REALLY old people! In that case, forget it. I refuse the AARP letter on the grounds that I'm not old. To celebrate this fact, I'm going to go build something with Legos and then go chase some college girls... although I do feel like taking a nap first.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Whitest Holiday There Is

Like everyone, I spent Saturday enjoying the twitter meme, #whitemenmarchprotestsigns. Pretty funny stuff. Imagine my horror when I realized after a few hours that the White Men March was a real thing and not just a comedy premise thought up by a bored Twitter user.
Once again, I find myself on the wrong end of something I don't understand. I mean, somebody has probably spelled out an argument for why such a thing is necessary and I could find it fairly easily with just a few clicks. I don't really... well, care, for one thing. For another, I don't really need any Neo-Nazi web sites nestled into my online search history. Without the benefit of bothering to find an argument otherwise, I'm just going to go ahead and declare this a dumb and unnecessary idea. I mean, I'm a full-fledged member of the group supposedly under attack and don't associate "diversity" with "genocide". I don't even feel remotely genocide-ally eligible. Even people who hate me don't want to genocide me. Do I recognize that people who have been traditionally denied opportunities might want a shot, a bigger slice of pie than they've been allowed before? Sure I do! Why wouldn't they. We (white people) have had it pretty sweet, and by "it pretty sweet" I mean "every conceivable advantage". Not all of us as individuals, of course. But as a group? Of course we have. It doesn't mean I feel threatened in any way. If I look around and see some advantage that I don't have, I don't have to look farther than my mirror to see why. I do wonder who these marchers are talking to. I mean, we/they are still the people in charge
"You know, they/we have a point. We/they should make sure they/we are taken care of. Oh, we/they already are? Okay then."
It might have been fun to lead some chants though.
"1, 2, 3, 4,
What the hell are we marching for?
No seriously,
What are we doing here?" 
Oh well. Enjoy your St. Patrick's Day.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Why you should love Wes Anderson and his movies

In case you didn't know, I work a few hours a month at the world renowned Tampa Theatre as a projectionist, a craft I learned under sink-or-swim circumstances when I was hired to manage the box office and concessions at Sarasota's Burns Court Cinema a long, long time ago. My pal Steve knew this about me and sent me this note yesterday:

"Is this a cool move or does it bother you: Instructions for projecting 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'. It's instructions from Wes Anderson's people on how to show/project his new movie. I was just curious if as a projectionist you find this uppity or helpful. Or I guess...both."

My answer to Steve, and to anybody else interested in my opinion the matter, is that I think that's very cool and don't have a problem with it at all. It shows that he not only cares about his work but his audience as well. You have to respect a filmmaker that pays that much attention to detail. Over the years, I have assembled hundreds of 35mm prints and presented thousands of movies as a projectionist and I've seen instructions like this maybe three times (I think I received similar instructions for a Woody Allen film back in the '90s, possibly "Bullets Over Broadway"). I won't say that means that most filmmakers don't care about how their work is presented, but very few go to these lengths to make sure it's done right. That's a filmmaker who not only cares about their hard work, but one who genuinely cares that audiences who shell out good money to see it, see it the way it's meant to be seen. Again, I won't say that most filmmakers don't care about their audience, but very few will go this far on their audiences behalf.
A good projectionist takes pride in their work and considers their role in the presentation of a film as important as anyone's who worked on creating it, something I learned from working with and under some truly great projectionists, including Tampa Theatre's Mike Hurley. That might sound overblown and self-important at first, but it's really not, if you think about it. Think of a film as a painting and the movie screen as a frame. Doesn't it make sense that an artist who works hard on a painting wouldn't want somebody doing a shitty job of putting a frame on it? As such, any good projectionist would have no problem with receiving direct communication and precise instructions from the film's director.
The bottom line is, even if you don't consider yourself a fan of Wes Anderson and his quirky, awkward, somewhat dark comedies, you should know that he cares a great deal about his work and how you experience it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Listen to me!

I was on a show the other day, specifically the CCPT (which stands for Connect Community Puck Talk, in case you're worrying about getting audited or locked up or deported, which doesn't happen. Hello NSA!) Hockey Show, which is run by two of my favorite people, Cassie McClellan and Su Ring.
Check it out!

Also, I have been having conversations like this lately:
"So what's this Spike on the Mic Show you keep talking about?"
"You mean when I say, 'Hey, tune in to the Spike on the Mic Show!'?"
"Well, do you tune in?"

Here's your chance to do so without doing what I say.
Check it out!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Interview: Michael "Jordi Scrubbings" Lortz

Have you ever been out and about and seen somebody running around in an Afro wig and thought, "what the hell is wrong with that kid"? Well, The Ridiculously Inconsistent Podcast is back and this month's installment is an interview with Tampa Bay bon vivant, and sometimes guest contributor here on the old-timey Trickle blog, Michael Lortz, also known to many as Jordi Scrubbings. Huh? Don't worry, all that is explained in this month's T.R.I.P. Check it out.

Also, a bit of pluggery, The Ridiculously Inconsistent Podcast is now available via iTunes! Just click this link or open up the program, go to the "Podcasts" section in the iTunes store and search for it by name or just use by my name, "clark brooks" and you'll find it. Download and listen to old episodes and subscribe for new ones. Best of all, it's free!
Now all up inside of your iTunes, baby!

Friday, March 07, 2014

The yogurt shuffle

I'm not good at grocery shopping when it comes to making it an expedition where hundreds of dollars are spent and enough food is purchased that a return trip to the supermarket isn't necessary for a month. What I am good at is wanting/needing three or four different things at a time, necessitating several trips a week to the supermarket. I know that isn't efficient but I don't mind. When you're only picking up a few things, you can breeze right in and out, and you always get to use the express line. In fact, I like grocery shopping. It's fun! Usually.
Last night, I went to the supermarket, focused on picking up exactly three things: bananas, orange juice and yogurt, for lunches, because I'm (at least temporarily) a vegetarian now.

STEP 1 - Bananas: No problem. Swing through produce and grab a bunch of bananas. Boom! Is there a fruit that comes more perfectly packaged by nature than bananas? Not only the container but the means of carrying them.

STEP 2 - Orange juice: No problem. I'm already in produce; the orange juice is right there! Damn, I love orange juice! Grab a gallon, with as much pulp as possible, please. Yum!

STEP 3 - Yogurt: Problem. I steer over to dairy, past the milk and cheese and sour cream and there's the yogurt. Camped out in front of the store brand (10 for $5!) is some guy and his cart. He's squatted down and grabbing containers of yogurt, looking at each one, shaking some of them, smelling others. He puts four containers in his cart, takes three out and puts them back on the shelf. He does this with different quantities until I'm positive he's handled every container at least twice. Every now and then, he counts how many are in his cart. In the middle of this, he calls someone on the phone to discuss the situation. It's taking a really long time and nobody else can get to the yogurt. If he moves his cart just six inches in one direction or the other, another person could easily get in and shop for yogurt, too. And the thing is, he sees me. He knows I want access to that smooth, creamy goodness and he won't... he won't fucking move! Now, you know me. In situations like this, I'm just a peaceful, "live-and-let-live" guy. On the outside, I mean, because I dislike confrontations. Meanwhile, in my head I'm praying silently-but-urgently for his immediate and painful death, wondering if there might be a way that an over-handled container of yogurt could explode and tear his head completely off,  like a normal person. But this is ridiculous. I start shifting my weight from foot to foot, putting my hands on my hips, sighing loudly, looking at my wrist for a watch I don't have on. He's not only not taking the hint, he's doing new stuff like looking at the bottoms of the containers and lining the containers up in neat little rows in his basket. Finally, he finishes and moves on. I step in and use my arm to simply sweep whatever 16-to-20 containers are in my reach into my basket and storm off.
Now I get to the front of the store and I see him ambling towards a register and I recognize this as an opportunity to get payback. I position myself so I can get in line just before he does. Not in a swooping, "AHA!" way, but a "Oh, hi. Looks like I made it here ahead of you. Ha ha. I almost wound up behind you but I wound up in front of you instead. Not that it matters. We're all just grocery shoppers and not competing or anything like that. Isn't life funny?" way. I don't do it perfectly because there's one person in between us. I feel bad but this person is going to be a casualty of war. Sorry.
I start unloading my stuff on the belt. I do this like a normal human being with the bananas and orange juice. Now it's time to put up the yogurt, which I do one at a time, and then picking some up, looking at them, putting them back in the basket, examining the lids and the bottoms, taking them back out of the basket and back on the belt, I handle some of the containers three and four times. I do it very slowly and precisely and I know the cashier and the person behind me are looking at me like I'm out of my mind. I'm really wrapped up in it now and I start smelling the containers. Now I'm laying them on the belt and leaning down to and looking across the tops with one eye, to make sure they're all uniform height. A couple look like they might not be so I pick them up individually and examine them very closely before putting them back on the belt. I'm shifting them around like the world's slowest and strangest shell game. "Yeah, motherfucker. How's it feel, huh? How does it feel?", I'm thinking to myself. This is when I request that the cashier ring them up in alphabetical order so it comes out that way on the receipt. I am especially pleased with myself for coming up with that because that brings the process to a total standstill. I'm in the middle of being pleased with myself when I see Yogurt Guy leaving the store, carrying his purchases. They opened another line and he moved over without noticing anything I was doing other than taking too long. I never saw him move but the whole absurdity of it was completely lost on him because he didn't even know I was doing it! Now I just look like a weirdo in front of the cashier and this person behind me.
So anyway, obviously, I can never buy yogurt there again.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Lent, or something like it

Last night, I had dinner with a friend of mine who is Catholic.

ME: Hey, so you're Catholic, right?
HER: (Sighs, rolls eyes, sets silverware down, folds hands and puts them in her lap) Yes. Why?
ME: Because as you know, I'm an ordained minister.
HER: Of course. How could I ever possibly forget? (rolls eyes again)
ME: You're pretty good at that eye-rolling thing. But back to the matter at hand, I really like what your new guy is doing.
HER: Yes, Pope Francis is the dynamic and innovative leader that the church has needed for some time.
ME: Yeah, he's cool. Radical new ideas regarding love and acceptance, transforming an established, traditional institution from the top down. I dig that.
HER: Well, thank you.
ME: So I think I want to Catholicize my act a little. And this being the day before Lent begins, it seems like now would be a good time to kind of check it out.
HER: And what does that mean exactly?
ME: As far as forming the philosophy behind my ministry, I sort of go through the various religions and pick the stuff that sounds good, kind of like a sushi menu. "Oh, I'm not doing that. Ooh, that looks good!".
HER: I didn't know that was allowed.
ME: I'm not sure it is but it keeps me from having to support questionable standards and practices. It keeps me open-minded to the views of others and allows me to serve as a spiritual leader to those who might need me to serve as such and whatever.
HER: I don't believe you have any followers and I'd be nervous if you did but overall, that actually seems reasonable. All right, what do you want to know?
ME: Here's what I know about Lent; I'm supposed to give up something I enjoy for the 40 days as an act of sacrifice leading up to Easter Sunday.
HER: That's... kind of mostly correct. It's to prepare you through prayer, penance, atonement, self-denial and repentance of sin for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. It's also observed by other churches. It's not strictly a Catholic thing.
ME: Right. That's what I said.
HER: You should think of it as more than doing without something you like for 40 days; you should use that time to be more humble and contemplative.
ME: Ooh. Ooh ooh ooh.
HER: Why are you ooh-ooh-ing?
ME : The humble and contemptuous things are not strong suits for me.
HER: Contemplative. And if you know you're weak in those areas, this would be an ideal time to work on them. So maybe this is more than a big joke to you and actually a good idea. I'm interested to see how you deal with it.
Oh, me too.

Anyway, the bottom line is I'm doing Lent this year. It took me a while to figure out what to give up. I stopped drinking soda a few weeks ago, otherwise that would have been the obvious, easy choice. I don't indulge that much in sweets so that would have been to easy. I eventually decided to give up meat. I'll be a vegetarian. That's a fairly drastic change for me so this will be a good test for me. We'll see how it works out.

Monday, March 03, 2014

This is going to sound crazy...

...but I think somebody is mowing my lawn.
I moved in to the house back in September. At the time, the lawn was pretty shaggy, due to the house having been unoccupied for a little while. Not long, like the code enforcement people noticed and sent a city employee in with a tractor because the grass was so long that bobcats could hide in it. Just kind of sloppy. I got that taken care of right away, hiring some kid with a mower to cut the grass along with some weeds and crap that needed to be pulled. That was the one and only time I had the lawn mowed.
Winter time in Florida, not like everywhere else with the snow and ice and madness, is still cold enough for plants and tress and grass to go dormant, so the grass didn't grow for a long time. Lately, things are warming up again and I noticed that the grass was getting long again. I remember thinking I needed to find that kid's number soon and have him come out. Except today, the lawn looks like this:

That's nice and tight. Nowhere near needing to be mowed.

Further, to me this looks like somebody did some edging. Rain wouldn't have drawn that line between the leaves on the driveway and the edge of the lawn. At least not the small amount of rain we've had. At any rate, the grass is shorter than it was a week ago. Now, I'll readily admit that I don't know exactly all of the ins and outs of how grass works, but I'm pretty sure it either grows or dies. That's it. I don't think it grows and then changes its mind and then shrinks or retracts. Which means somebody came by when I wasn't home and cut my grass. I damn sure didn't do it; I don't even own a lawnmower and I'm not so inclined. In that case, either somebody made a mistake, cutting my grass instead of someone else's, or somebody did it out of the goodness of their heart. I think we can safely rule out the latter so now, while I'm happy to be the recipient, I still feel kind of bad that somebody did work for which they weren't paid. I'd feel worse except I'm taking enormous satisfaction in the fact that I have taken care of my lawn myself exactly one time in six months.