Friday, November 28, 2014

Clark's Favorite Things 2014 (Part VII of VII)

Thanksgiving, the holiday where we express gratitude for all the things we have in our life is followed immediately by Black Friday, the holiday where we aren't afraid to trample a bitch in order to get our hands on all the things we don't have in our life. That's today, and not coincidentally, it's the last day of Clark's Favorite Things 2014. Today, my favorite things you can buy from people without camping out in front of a store or otherwise going out into a melee, things you can buy from independent artists and writers from the comfort of your internet.


Ronny has been around a while and has produced a lot of music. Go here, take a listen and if you like it, scoop some up! I'm partial to his latest, "I've Been Meaning To Write" because I sing on that one. Oh, I'm sorry, did I not mention that before? Yes, yes I did. Also, check out the album's review on


"TONI has her pick of any musician who plays the Brooklyn club L'Amour, but the man she wants, guitarist DON LYDEN, remains out of her reach. In order to get one night with Don, Toni must help aging rocker-turned-party producer MARIUS MAN add to his groupie harem." Sound sexy? Hell yeah it does! Pick up your copy of the steamy heavy metal page turner here. And learn more about author Ann Brandt here.


"There’s something so effortless about Rebekah Pulley’s songwriting, whether she’s waxing poetic on “Sweet Life,” her raw, honeyed-silk vocals harmonizing with the lower-register murmur of partner/frequent collaborator Rob Pastore against rambling, piano-driven violin-kissed melodies; crooning soulfully about wanting love and drugs to a doo-wop shuffle in “The Drug Song”; or relating a wry story in strung-together spoken-sung verses about a woman seeking salvation and finding a lot of “Hard Times” instead, the strains of sliding pedal steel and acoustic guitar winding together gently and riding an easy chugging rhythm." - from a review of her most recent album, "Tralala" in Creative Loafing (Tampa). Buy it here.


"This is short, but an entertaining read to pass a few hours or a weekend. It's odd to see the outcast character as the straight-man in many instances, but isn't that always the case?" - from a review at Buy it here.


"... a deeply personal CD, pulling at your collar and tugging at your sleeves long after the first play. The music is wonderful and the lyrics are intelligent, sometimes funny and often times deeply moving." - from's review of her album "Nest".  Her official site with links to listen to and buy her music is here.


"Oh, what a huge surprise. Once again he's flogging that damned book of his. Who saw that coming? Sheesh." - from you guys
Hey! Come on! Like I'm going to spend two weeks on a "My Favorite Things" and not include my own book? Seriously? Look, it's the only book I've ever written (so far...hint, hint). Of course it's going to be my favorite! And check it out, if you order from right now, you can a great deal. Everybody wins!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Clark's Favorite Things 2014 (Part VI of VII)

Shopping is one of those things that usually qualifies as a necessary evil for me. I hate the mall. The mall is everything that is wrong with being alive, mostly the incredible waste of perfectly good time plus subjecting yourself to being treated as less than human. 
Oh God. Eff that noise.
My ideal shopping experience would be to jump out of my truck while it was still moving, execute a combat roll, run inside and get what I want, run back outside and jump back in my truck a little further down the block. In other words, to get in and out as fast as humanly possible. Usually that's the case. There are exceptions in that there are stores where I actually enjoy spending time.

Here are my favorite places to shop during those rare occasions when that is something I want to do... 


Their slogan is "Where shopping is a pleasure", and more often than not, it really is. Somebody on Buzzfeed has compiled a pretty comprehensive list explaining why.


I used to love spending hours and hours in record stores. Just walking around, picking stuff up with your hands and looking at it. I would usually spend way more money than I should have yet somehow, I never regretted it. Same thing with book stores. With the exception of some small independents (which are great), both record stores and book stores are pretty much a thing of the past. Thank goodness for Barnes and Noble, somehow bucking the trend. Big, comfy, cozy places where you can spend hours looking at all kinds of stuff, including music. Some of them even have toys now!  


I love being organized. Scratch that: I love the idea of being organized. Office supply stores are a fantasy organizer's dream world. Oh, so many things I could use to get my shit together. Dry erase boards, storage boxes, highlighter pens, calendars as far as the eye can see! I could be the most efficient person on the planet... if I ever actually used the stuff I buy there for the purposes intended. Maybe some day I'll actually mount one of the dry erase boards I've purchased over the years to a wall or something.

I like weird people. I like weird stuff. Where else can you become the proud owner of weird people's weird stuff?
Also, home to the sexiest chili dog eating models in all of Hillsborough County!


While I am a fan of all that Publix has to offer, there's a chain of markets I like even better: Land and Sea. There are only three locations, all in the Tampa Bay area and I've written about them before, a looooong time ago (maybe if I write about them more often, they'll find out and give me free stuff). They're not nearly as big as Publix as they're not full-scale supermarkets. They have some produce and various other items but it's a place to buy meat, poultry and seafood. The best part is the service. Everyone who works there is capable of answering any question you might have. This is ideal for those of us who like to be adventurous when it comes to cooking but might not be too sure of what we're doing. And if you can't remember what they tell you, don't worry; they print the instructions right on the label that goes on the package!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Clark's Favorite Things 2014 (Part V of VII)

Beep beep!
As a good American, I love 'em, just like people in Italy and Germany and lots of other places do.
Here are my favorites...

Not as menacing as the name implies, the Deathmobile was featured in the film "Animal House" as the primary weapon of mass destruction deployed by the Delta Tau Kai fraternity to ruin the Faber College homecoming parade, although nobody was actually killed.

It's a 1964 Lincoln Continental modified with a command turret, steam whistle and Emil Faber statue severed head hood ornament ("Eat Me" cake float cloaking device optional). Ideal for really stupid and futile gestures.

Okay, it's not technically a car (although it does have wheels) but if you're going to ruin a homecoming parade, you might as well go all out.

I know, this is also not a car. But let me tell you a little story...
7th grade was a bad year for me. Terrible grades and disciplinary issues. Rock bottom, in terms of my academic "career". The following year, we moved and I was in a different school district. At the start of the year, my parents presented me with a proposal: if I finished the year on the honor roll, they'd buy me a motorcycle. Specifically, this motorcycle, which is actually just a dirt bike. Well, I don't know if it was the change of environment or what, but I kicked ass in 8th grade. No grades lower than a B, no behavioral issues and I even went deep (finished sixth) in the county spelling bee, representing the Fairplain Junior High team. As the school year was winding down and it was apparent that I had the honor roll locked up, dad took me aside and said he thought a ten-speed bike would be a more appropriate reward and so that's what I would be receiving. A used ten speed, as it turned out. Clearly, they never had any intention of meeting their end of the bargain, based on an obvious lack of faith in my ability to meet mine. 
Lessons learned? Let's just say I never approached that level of academic achievement in 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade and that I've carried a heightened level of mistrust ever since. Also, I still want that dirt bike.

The second car I ever owned, my senior year in high school, was one of these bad boys. Mine wasn't in nearly this good condition. The red paint was faded dull, the original front fenders had been replaced with unpainted gray fiberglass that never got around to being painted and there was a hole in the floorboard so big that when my friend George dropped his glasses, they fell out on to the street and we ran over them. I think my dad was disappointed that I didn't devote all my leisure time to lovingly restoring it, but I've never been into working on cars. At one point, I did express a desire in painting it and he got very excited. He said, "Okay, first we'll need to sand it all down and then...", by which time, it already sounded like a lot more trouble than it would be worth and I lost interest. After all, why bother? The car was virtually indestructible and was more than adequate in meeting my needs of being a dependable source of freedom in traveling between points A, B, C and wherever else I wanted to go. It was all I've ever really needed out of any vehicle I've ever owned. Most problems could be fixed for pennies and/or with pliers and a screwdriver by people with virtually no mechanical acumen at all, which is why they stopped making them. One time, I left it work for a weekend and there was a bad winter storm, during which my mom's car's battery went dead three different times. When we went to get my car, we dug it out of the snow, hopped in, turned the key once, the engine turned over and we drove off. Mom was furious. I sold it when I left for the army. The new owner took the body off, turned it into a dune buggy and supposedly got at least another 10 years out of it. 


For pure fantasy fulfillment, it's gotta be this. Other versions of the Batmobile featured in the movies have been more practical, rugged and penis-shaped, but this is a sexy, sexy car.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Clark's Favorite Things 2014 (Part IV of VII)

Let's talk t-shirts.
We love to wear t-shirts. Like no other garment, they help us draw attention to ourselves through the expression of some thought, idea or philosophy while we're simultaneously being annoyed that people are staring at us.
Here are my favorite t-shirt things...


This one, I guess. I'm pretty sure I got it at a gas station. Honestly, I have about a dozen of these, maybe more and I don't think there's a notable difference between any of them. I don't know. This one is fine.


Unlike a lot of people, I've taken the unpopular stance of not liking cancer. Also, I sincerely believe that women should be empowered. I don't mean by yelling empty platitudes like "you go, girl!" like a trained bird all the time. I mean by giving women their just due, respecting them as individuals and not associating femininity with inferiority. This is a t-shirt that works on different levels.

Fightin' mad.

My friend Marissa is currently fighting cancer. I wear this t-shirt to support her in her efforts.

So, so stupid.

A couple of weeks ago, Monica wore a t-shirt on the Spike on the Mic Show that read "Wisconsin: Smell the dairy air". That's pretty stupid. Then, last week Mike Pepper wore a t-shirt to our post-show dinner that read "My Pen is Huge". That's really stupid! I realized I don't own any stupid t-shirts so I went out and got the one featured above. Lots and lots of choices for stupid t-shirts out there but I selected this one. This is my stupid t-shirt. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My stupid t-shirt is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. (see below for a humorous aside)

Contemplating Shakespeare and/or math.

I've never attended Harvard. I've never even visited the campus. You can say I have no business wearing a Harvard t-shirt, but so what? I've seen you wearing a Rolling Stones t-shirt and I know for a fact that you're not a member of that band. I subscribe to the Harvard Lampoon and I'm Facebook friends with Megan Amram and she went there. So, comedy pedigree established!

Tuesday, the day I thought it was going to arrive, this happened:
(Knock, knock)
BETH: "Hello. I'm Beth and this is Matt and we have some important information for you regarding current events and what it says about that in the book of Revelations!"
ME: "Oh. Hi Beth. Hello Matt. I thought you were delivering my t-shirt. If I had known it was you guys, I would have ignored you knocking while watching you through my window."
BETH: "Oh... well, what we have for you is far more important than a t-shirt..."
ME: "Nice recovery, but I don't think so. You see, this t-shirt has a picture of a hot dog on it and says 'I want to be inside you'. Ha ha ha! What do you think, Matt?"
BETH and MATT: "... "
ME: "Listen, you both seem nice... matt, you aren't very talkative. But I'm not a fan of people using fear as a sales tool, whether it's for hurricane shutters or the merits of a particular faith-based belief system. So I'm going to close the door now and watch you walk away while I wait for the mail. Have a nice day and like us on Facebook."
MATT: "Oh. Um, well. Uh..."
ME: "Too late, Matt."
(Door closes)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Clark's Favorite Things 2014 (Part III of VII)

As I mentioned on Monday, I haven't taken a vacation in a while. I don't have a really good reason for it either. I don't have a job that requires me to be available around the clock like a heart surgeon or anything like that. It's just one of those things that slips through the cracks. I guess.
For example, I actually planned on making a trip up to St. Paul, Minnesota when the Lightning played the Wild this season, figuring I could tie it in with a write-up for Raw Charge and also travel around the Twin Cities area and geek out on all kinds of Prince stuff. Prior to the big trip, a friend asked me, "I thought you were planning a trip up to Minnesota. Do you have your plane tickets and hotel reservations?" I said, "Nah, that's not 'til October." She said, "November is next week." "Oh."
Yep, I forgot to take a vacation. I think maybe doing nice things for myself is not always a priority.
With that, here's my list of favorite places to vacation.

I haven't been but I know it will be fun when I finally go. I will stroll right up to the front door of Paisley Park, Prince's recording studio and performance facility (in relatively nearby Chanhassen) and say, "Hi. I'm here to see Prince, if he's around, and all the Prince things." Whoever answers will be suitably charmed and let me in. I don't see a logical reason why that wouldn't happen. I'll also visit the First Avenue nightclub and...well, I guess that's about it. Huh. That should take one day. I'll spend the rest of the time swimming in lakes and going to Twins games.


I've been to Chicago dozens of times and in fact, it's where I spent my last vacation. There are millions of things to do and I know where stuff is and how to get there. Must visits include The Billy Goat Tavern, Second City, Portillo's and all the museums. I'm hesitant to mention Wrigley Field and the surrounding neighborhood because I'm kind of afraid of the impact that renovations currently taking place are going to have.

I'm somewhat reluctant to mention this one because if the wrong bunch of fools find out about it, they'll come down and ruin it. Notice the lack of condo towers, t-shirt shops and shitty "beach bars"? Exactly. There are places to stay, but they're mostly small, mom-and-pop operations (this one is my favorite). It's what I think the Gulf Coast of Florida must have been like during the '50s.


This is north of where I grew up and I haven't been there in years, but it's absolutely beautiful there. My uncle Dave lived there for a while and he operated a place that had a waterslide, a miniature golf course and an ice cream shop. He also rented boats and drove dune cars like the one seen in this photo. People would bring their off-road vehicles from all over to participate (and fail) in hill climbs. As a kid, it was a pretty incredible place to spend a summer. I gotta believe it's not too shabby now.

I love being home. Not that I have a high-stress job, but as soon as I pull into my driveway, I can feel myself relax. It's the one place on the planet where I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. Every day I'm there is a vacation.

Well, this has been a corny, sappy, sepia-tinged, nostalgia-soaked edition of Favorite Things, hasn't it? All we need is some dickhead strumming an acoustic guitar to make us all throw up. Come back Friday. Things will be a tad more raucous, I promise.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Clark's Favorite Things 2014 (Part II of VII)

Most people who work in an office decorate their work area with a collection of things that make them happy. Most, not all. There are employers who are bent on crushing any small spark of joy that might exist in the lives of their employees. I know because I've worked for some. But those of us among the fortunate display photos of loved ones or places we've visited on vacation, trophies and awards or even little toys and trinkets. I have all of that stuff. Well, no photos of loved ones or loved ones themselves. And no awards to speak of. Also, I haven't been on vacation in about 10 years. But I have tons of toys and trinkets!

This is a Tampa Bay Lightning Zamboni from OYO Sports piloted by Homer Simpson. Homer is sold separately because he's a Lego and Legos and OYOs are not the same thing (Note: they totally are). A Zamboni is a machine that resurfaces the ice at skating rinks. I like to pretend that this keeps my desktop nice and clean and suitably slippery. 


This is a baseball signed by Mike Veeck. Mike is the son of legendary baseball owner and promoter extraordinaire Bill Veeck. Mike is an owner and promotional genius in his own rite and the guru behind the "Fun Is Good" philosophy. That's a principle upon which I try to live my life. This ball says "Clark, You're right. Fun IS good! Thanks, Mike Veeck" and helps keep me focused and motivated.


Another source of focus and motivation is this poster of former Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vaclav "Vinny" Prospal. This pictre shows him wearing a bronze medal earned while playing for the Czech Republic men's national team in the 2006 Olympics. A bronze medal, which is awarded for coming in third. And look how happy he is! If somebody can be that happy with a third-place medal, I don't think I have a right to complain about my lot in life.


When I worked at the Sun Dome, this nutty group of kids basically spent every penny they had among them to attend a concert we were hosting (Slipknot). They arrived before noon and were planning to sit in the broiling summer sun until the doors opened at 7:00. I found all this out by going out and talking to them. Throughout that day, I made sure they had water, walked them in and out for bathroom breaks and even bought them pizza. The last time I went to check on them before they went inside, they presented me with this "thank you" note that they had written and signed on the back of a flyer for some after-show party. I had it framed and it's the only real souvenir I've hung onto in all these years in the business.


I love Paul Newman, especially as player/coach Reggie Dunlop of the fictional Charlestown Chiefs in "Slap Shot", a role he said was his personal favorite. It's hands-down the best minor league sports movie of all time (if you think it's "Bull Durham", I just feel sorry for you). This photo serves to remind me of all the inspirational and motivational things he said in this movie, like, "Goddamn lard-ass Barkley Donaldson, I'm tellin' you he jumped us! Gloves off, stick down, no warning, he challenged the Chiefs! Called us names!" and "It's their rink, it's their ice, and it's their fuckin' town. But tonight we got our fans with us! They spent their own dough to get here, and they came here to see us! All right, let's show 'em what we got, guys! Get out there on the ice and let 'em know you're there. Get that fuckin' stick in their side. Let 'em know you're there! Get that lumber in his teeth. Let 'em know you're there!" as well as "Oh you cheap son of a bitch. Are you crazy? Those guys are retards!"and of course, "Jesus Christ, what a friggin' nightmare...". I'm also a big fan of his spaghetti sauces.


Because sometimes, an office needs a sheriff.


Oh, what a shock; Clark is going to plug his book! This time in the form of this sweet mug emblazoned by the cover illustration (by Jessie Stehlik) from "A Ridiculously Inconsistent Treasury". Want one? You can get one here.

First Avenue is the legendary nightclub that became famous after being featured in "Purple Rain". I've never been there  but I'll get there some day. Until then, I'll drink coffee.

What can I say? I'm a company man.

This was a gift from my friend Donna. Nobody who knows anything about dinosaurs will steal the T-Rex's coffee mug.

This isn't really a coffee mug, but you never know when a 1950's-style luau party might break out.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Clark's Favorite Things 2014 (Part I of VII)

You know which two people on this planet have a lot in common? Oprah Winfrey and me (nobody else).
Oprah recently released her list of Favorite Things (2014 edition) in which you'll find what "Oprah tasted, tested, sniffed, snuggled, brewed, steeped, read, shared and dared—Check out what she's calling her favorite, favorite gifts to give and receive this year." The very first item on her list? $700 headphones.
No offense to Oprah. I have tremendous respect for her and I would go so far as to say I'm a fan. But you know who needs $700 headphones? Nobody. In fact, if you have $700 headphones or think that you need them and you're not a multi-Grammy award-winning record producer, or somebody else who might need something like that for your job, you're an asshole. I'm sorry, but that's just excessive. I don't care what they're made out of or how they're manufactured. The only purpose of any set of headphones is to act as a sort of conduit between the sounds that come out of some device or another and your brain via your earholes. There is simply no justifiable excuse (Wires made out of mink? Each set molded to the exact dimensions of each individual customer's head? Dipped in real gold?) for a delivery system like that to cost $700. If you're one of these people who say (and actually believe) things like, "yeah, but a really good pair of headphones allows you to hear micro-chords and subtle sub-layers of ambient harmonies that would be impossible to appreciate otherwise", you're a gullible idiot.
"Oh yes, your majesty! A pair of $700 headphones is EXACTLY what you need to complete that ensemble!"

First of all Johan Sebastian Stradivarius, nobody is impressed with your snobby, self-proclaimed, pitch-perfect audiophile sensibilities. Secondly, if Bon Jovi (which is what you listen to when you're not trying to impress people) wanted you to hear all that shit, they would have made it louder.
You know what's just as good as $700 headphones? .79 headphones.
Sit on them. Leave them behind on a plane or in a taxi. Drop them on the floor. Drop them on the floor and then drop heavier things on top of them. Let your dog chew on them. Do weird things to your own butt with them. Who cares? They're .79! You could literally go through two pairs a day every day for a year, even if it's a leap year, and save about a third of what you would have spent on $700 headphones.
And they do just as good a job of getting the crappy music you like into your crappy ears.

Anyway, all this has made me realize that since Oprah and I are so alike, albeit with slightly different ideas of what is good and/or necessary, that I should do my OWN (ha!) list of Favorite Things, so that's exactly what I'm going to do between now and the day after Thanksgiving, the official, semi-reasonable start to the madness that is The Holiday Shopping Season (if you shop on Thanksgiving Day or you own a company that requires people to work on Thanksgiving Day, you're a savage and probably the kind of asshole who aspires to own a pair of $700 headphones some day). There will be six entries between now and then and each will highlight different items that I determine are favorite enough for you to maybe go out and get.

Think of it as an advent calendar crossed with a shopping catalog in the form of a blog!

Think of it as a blog that doesn't serve much of a purpose!*

Think of it as a gimmick that seems to be a bigger deal than it really is by virtue of entries being labeled with Roman numerals!

Think of it as a way for me to be relatively lazy for two weeks by not having to work very hard to come up with new material!

This particular entry doesn't really count; it's really just an introduction and not an actual endorsement of the .79 headphones. I mean, I like 'em but they're not a favorite thing. Go ahead and buy some. Or don't. Who cares?

  • Part II of VII - Monday, November 17
  • Part III of VII - Wednesday, November 19
  • Part IV of VII - Friday, November 21
  • Part V of VII - Monday, November 24
  • Part VI of VII - Wednesday, November 26
  • Part VII of VII (Grand Finale!) - Black Friday, November 28

* as is always the case

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Brooks family pride

You know, I'm always proud and happy to be a member of the Brooks family. Who wouldn't be? I consider my dad to have been a pretty great man. My mom was certainly a good person. My sister isn't currently in jail. I don't think she is... no, pretty sure she's good.
And that's just my immediate family!
When you get into the extended branches of the family tree, you find some pretty remarkable people...

My Uncle Mel is responsible for some of the funniest movies ever made. He remains consistently hilarious to this day.

Cousin Derrick won a Super Bowl as a linebacker with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was recently elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is active in the Tampa Bay community.

And then the other day, cousin Garth, a country crooner of some renown, did this...

Yep, some fine folks in the Brooks family. And our family reunions are a blast.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Confirmed: I'm doomed to be single

Hey, remember the time when I wrote this? You might. But you might not know that I actually signed up and joined OK Cupid. You know, strictly for research, because that's the kind of thoroughly professional writer I am, fully immersing myself in the subject matter in order to gain a better perspective.
Of course, if I happened to get any responses to my personal ad in the process, well, I guess that's okay too.
Anyway, yeah, I've been signed up for some time now and I get one or two emails a week with "matches" the service has found for me. Typically, each email has four or five profiles, rated anywhere between 30 and 80% compatible. The overwhelming majority of which I don't even bother to check out, due in large part to how many are closer to 30% than the 80% range. They've even sent me some that are lower than that, including a few rated at 0%. What possible reason could I have for pursuing a relationship with someone with whom I share so few common interests? Either OK Cupid feels they have to send me something or they think I'm looking for someone to not get along with. At any rate, my point is there are not a lot of matches out there for me.
I knew that before I signed up though. I'm weird. I'm not good looking. I have some strange ideas. I can be difficult to deal with. Basically, I'm the worst person I know. I'm fully aware that I don't have a lot to offer and that most people reach that conclusion within minutes of meeting me, if they hadn't already preconceived that notion. Still, under the popularly-held concept that there is a lid for every pot, I remained hopeful that I metaphors could mix and that my lid could slip through the cracks. Then, last week OK Cupid sent me an email with a link to this profile:

A 91%! That never happens! I think the highest I've ever gotten before was an 85%. Never one within 10 percentage points or less of perfect. They even drew a gold circle around it! This was very encouraging...until I read the self-summary just below.
It's not easy to read, but this is how it starts;
"I changed my orientation because I am not absolutely sure anymore. I have been what I consider straight all my life but now I am wondering if I might have feelings for women so I decided to try okcupid and investigate. "
That's right; the best match that OK Cupid has ever found for me is a 44-year-old woman who signed up so she could meet women. This isn't a criticism of her. It's certainly not her fault that she wound up sorted into my bin and I wish her nothing but the best of luck in finding whatever it is she's looking for. But what about me? I now have to go forward with the knowledge that there's an algorithm out there that has determined I'm best suited to date women over 40 who have made a decision now to self-identify as prospective lesbians. That means my ideal soul mate is a mature woman who is one left-up toilet seat from giving up on men forever.
Sometimes the universe sends you a sign, other times it sends you an email with a big gold circle drawn around the pertinent info.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Oh shirt!

As a writer and fan, few things bug me more than war metaphors applied to sports. Games are not battles. Athletes are not warriors. Simply because they aren't. Sports and war are two entirely different things. Beyond the fact that there are opposing sides, they have nothing whatsoever to do with each other. To attempt to draw similarities between them is to artificially inflate the depth and meaning of games and those who play them for the purpose of entertaining spectators. These metaphors are applied to all sports from time to time but football practically feeds on them. As a practice, it's crude, lazy and frankly, kind of tasteless. Of course, I suppose war metaphors are not as crude and inappropriate as rape metaphors. This is a picture of a t-shirt that was issued to football players at Arlington Martin High School in Arlington, Texas.
It says "Martin Football - We take what we want - Shhhhhhh - Just let it happen" and was apparently the brainchild of students(!). Predictably, adults affiliated with the school and its football program don't see a problem.
“It’s sickening to me that the (slogan) was misconstrued, And it’s weird that it has been out for so long and just came up.” - Kevin White, booster club president
“I've seen the shirts several times since July, and not once did it cross my mind that it was inappropriate. I have a wife, I have a daughter, I have a mother. Our players have sisters and cousins. It’s unwarranted. Our kids deserve better, especially from their own school. One of the things we've done really well throughout the years is winning the take-away battle, In fact, when you leave our locker room, there’s only one billboard on the wall and it simply says ‘take aways.’ The act of piracy, taking what you want. What we want is the football.” - football coach Bob Wager
Ohhh, so it's supposed to be a pirate football thing, not a pirate rape thing. Okay, that helps me understand the imagery; I was thinking that the Martin mascot was Native American Pirates with Gym Memberships. It does not however, wash with the words on the shirt. Can you imagine a high school football player, perhaps a defensive end, pumped up with adrenaline coursing through his body just prior to the snap, feet pawing the turf like an about-to-charge rodeo bull, screaming "WE TAKE WHAT WE WANT!".

Sure, that's reasonably something that might happen during a football game.

Now imagine what happens next. The ball is snapped, our defender fires off the line so quickly and ferociously that he catches the opposing tackle by surprise. In a flash he's past him and in the offensive backfield. A running back who stayed behind to block offers only token resistance and the defender is bearing down on a defenseless quarterback. His legs churning like pistons, he embraces the quarterback in a vice-like grip with one powerful arm and clawing at the ball in the quarterback's hands with the other, and he says softly, "Shhhhhhh, just let it happen".


The booster club president says the slogan has been around a long time, though. According to the Star-Telegram, the team is currently 6-2 (5-0 in District 4-6A), has won five straight games and is expected to make the playoffs for the ninth consecutive year under coach Wager. It must be working! Along with a defensive game plan that emphasizes intimidating behavior, failure to respect boundaries, maybe slipping a little "mood enhancer" into the opponents water supply, where their provocative uniforms (come on, look at those tight, shiny pants) suggest that they're practically begging to fumble the ball away or throw an interception. Come on, you know they want it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

I voted... I think

I'm generally not a fan of conspiracy theories. I mean, I certainly get the appeal. I'm sure it's lots of fun to hunt for a series of arbitrary circumstances that have one or two things in common and then let those coincidental similarities prevail over any kind of rational thought and reasoning ability to guide your actions. But generally I think the folks who believe in massive conspiracies give people way too much credit. It's almost impossible in most offices to pass a birthday card around for signatures without the celebrant finding out about it. I seriously doubt any organization's ability to make the necessary arrangements required to launch the kind of conspiracy that would actually be worth a damn.
Still, things happen that make me wonder sometimes...
For example, yesterday I went to my friendly neighborhood polling place for the purpose of participating in democracy. It was important for me to make my choice for governor, even though picking between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist is like choosing between a shit sandwich and a shit sandwich with a side of cold curly fries.
Oh darn, I can only pick one?

Also, I did cast a YES vote on amendment two, so you're welcome when your stupid hobby is completely legal in a few years allowing you to stumble around like a moron in public without being hassled, you dipshit potheads. I got in the A-J line, since my last name is Brooks, and I gave the lady at the desk my identification. "I don't need that", she said, taking my drivers license but rejecting the voters registration card. "I said, "Okay, but the license has my old address. The voters registration is up to date." She replied, "Mm-hmm". She thumbed through her book and got to the page with my name on it. I know she did because the book has entries printed so that both the person using it and a person on the other side of a desk can read it because it needs to be signed and that makes it so you don't have to turn the book around every time someone signs it. Smart! She said, "Okay, go see the lady at the issues table down at the end of this line. I was confused but said okay. Maybe there was some flag that only showed on her side of the book. I got to the issues table and they gave me a form to fill out and sign, which was basically a confirmation of my address info. I handed it to that lady and she said, "Okay, you'll be getting a new voters registration card in four to six weeks. Don't worry, you will be able to vote today." I asked, "What's wrong with the card? All the info on it is accurate. It's my license that needs to be updated." She said, "Oh no, this card is no good." I said, "Are you sure? I've used it before." "Not here though." "Yeah, in the last election back in August. Right here in this room. I'm parked in the same spot I parked in that day." "Well, it was valid then but it's not valid now."
Thoroughly baffled, I took my ballot and went to the little booth to fill my ballot in. It happened to be right next to where the lady with the A-J lady was sitting. As I'm standing there filling in the little circles, the lady from the issues table came down and had this conversation with the A-J lady...
"Did you have Brooks?
"Brooks? No. (thumbs through book, finds the page with my name)"
"Yes, this guy right here. (points to my info)"
"Him? No, he didn't come here."
At this point I chime in.
"Yes, I did. Hi."
"No you didn't. (looks at me like I just teleported in from Mars)"
"Yeah, I really did. I told you the address on my license needed to be updated and you didn't want to look at my voters registration card. Remember? Seriously, you don't remember that? It happened less than ten minutes ago. I'm literally the last person to come up to your desk."
"(continues to look at me like I just teleported in from Mars)"
I'm standing there with my filled out ballot in my hand and all the poll workers are looking at me. "So now what?", I ask. "Is this invalid? Do I need to start over?" "No no no", the issues table lady says. "It's fine." "Are you sure? What about what you told me about my card being invalid?" That's when the lady who was guarding the actual vote-counting machine stepped in and said, "Your vote will count. Today." Well now, why did she say it like that? I didn't say anything about my vote not counting. And what's with the emphasis on "today"? What the hell is going on? What happens next time? These are all questions I should probably ask of somebody in charge over at the League of Women Voters when things calm down. If I'm going to get up early and go some place where I might have to stand in a line for a few minutes, I sure don't need some shadowy underground cabal descending on St. Chad's Episcopal Church to negate my efforts.