Friday, February 27, 2015

And then this happened: A follow-up (of sorts) to Wednesday's entry

Wednesday, I detailed an on line interaction that started out nasty (I'm still not sure why) and got worse (definitely don't know why). Today, I'd like to detail one that worked out quite nicely.

I would never call myself a media watchdog or anything like that. I don't pay attention to any particular news outlets on a regular basis and I'm not nearly passionate about scrutinizing everything they say and do. Sometimes, though, a thing will come to my attention that doesn't look quite right and when that happens, I'll take a minute to bring it to people's attention. It's not about nitpicking, looking for things to be upset and outraged over, it's about reacting to a situation with the hope of enforcing some minimal standards for accountability. That's how I see it anyway. Everybody should do that when the situation calls for it. There's nothing wrong with being called out from time to time. Most of us have jobs where we put up with that kind of thing in one form or another.

Here's an example: Recently, a young girl was the victim of a simply horrendous crime here in the area. Our local ABC television outlet (WFTS, Channel 28), published a cheesy-looking (my opinion) meme graphic on their Facebook page and urged their followers to show their support for the poor girl by favorite-ing it and sharing it on their individual pages. My question, posted in response on that Facebook thread, was how exactly would doing that benefit anyone... other than WFTS and their Facebook analytic stats, and ultimately their ad rates, of course. I received no answer of any kind, but I know they read it and I feel good about calling them out on their bullshit.

More recently, as in last week, a local woman was reported missing and a search was launched. On Sunday, reports came in that a car was found in a lake near her home and that a body inside matched the woman's physical description. That's when this Tweet from local NBC television outlet (WFLA, Channel 8) anchorman Rod Carter came across my timeline...

“@WFLARod: Divers on scene of a underwater vehicle recovery... Keep ya posted.”
 "Keep ya posted" struck me as lacking the appropriate gravitas the situation called for. I wasn't outraged or offended, I just thought it sounded kind of inappropriate. That's the kind of thing you say after you tell your friends you're thinking about picking up a pizza, not after cops find a body when everyone in town . So I responded with this...

Then this conversation ensued...

Isn't that nice? It kind of restores my faith in the hope that civility isn't dead. I do feel bad that I led off with a smart-ass remark, but in my defense, I was expecting either a battle, in which case I wanted to set the tone early, or a non-response, in which case I wanted it to read as a dark joke. I'm relieved that instead of either of those things, Mr. Carter agreed, acknowledged that it was somewhat inappropriate and took complete responsibility. To me, that's all you can reasonably ask of someone when they get something less-than-right. No hurt feelings. No screaming. No insults. No buck-passing. No internet muscles of any kind on display. After what happened last time, I'm actually kind of glad this happened.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Farewell, "Friend"

I had to do something the other night that I've never done before in my life... I un-Friended (and blocked) someone on Facebook.
This, like a lot of Facebook "Friends" was someone I'd never actually met in "real life", but I thought they were interesting and I respected them. Now, following a discussion that revealed a difference of opinion, I realize that they're dull, stupid, rude, obstinate, uninformed, inarticulate and ugly.
Funny how that works, isn't it?
We disagree. So now, this is you.

I don't know how this person and I ever connected in the first place. It's like trying to figure out what these keys are for.
Seriously, I have no idea
The difference being that I may find a use for the keys some day. It may sound harsh to refer to another human being that way, but it's Facebook. That's the standard, unfortunately.

What happened was this person posted a status update indicating that he's one of these people whose stance on bullying is that the whole problem could be solved if kids would just learn to get tough and stand up for themselves, That bullies respond to opposition, even if it turns out to be futile because for whatever of a million possible reasons, the other kid is just incapable of fighting back effectively, by either cowering away or by granting the kid a modicum of respect for the effort, like they operate under some kind of Code Of Honor. In my experience, that is a huge myth and it simply doesn't work that way. Bullies don't abide by honor and don't respect much of anything. They're dicks and that's what basically makes them bullies. And if they think they can impose their will on you, even if you try to fight back, they will. A kid who offers a slight challenge before eventually ending up crumpled in a heap on the playground every single time they meet is how most bullies define a good time.
Simply stated, when it comes to dealing with bullies, fighting back is not a one-size-fits-all answer for every kid in every situation.
Oh, so you remember "A Christmas Story" but not "The Shawshank Redemption"?
I don't have access to the conversation now (you know, because of the whole "blocking" thing) but I said basically that in response, expecting nothing more than a respectful debate between adults with different opinions. What I got was personal insults and profanity and questions about my own personal courage and ability to handle my affairs. I found myself wanting to respond at that level but caught myself. Why would or should I care about this person who I don't even know and their blockheaded, misinformed opinions about life and/or me? The obvious answer is I don't. So I added one final reply, something to the effect of "whatever you say, Facebook tough guy", and then hit the "Unfriend" and "Block" buttons. It was kind of unsatisfying though. Even though I'll never find out about it, I'm sure he and his like-minded blockhead "Friends" crowed about my departure as a victory over just the kind of cowards that are making this country weak and I win this argument, guddamnit. That bugs me a little. It shouldn't but it does. I can handle myself in a fight just fine (due to lessons learned from a youth spent as bigger-than-most-men with a hot temper) and I kind of want to meet him in real life and prove it to him to the extent where he either walks funny for the rest of his life, or one of his eyeballs doesn't operate correctly anymore or both. I shouldn't but I really kind of do. Okay, it bugs me a lot. That's not a good way to react to the stupid antics of somebody stupid...somebody whom, once again, I DON'T EVEN REALLY ultimately, I'm pleased with taking the action that I did. Still burns a little, though.
The end result is I'm left wondering why I was ever "Friends" with somebody like that to start with and what do I really know about many of the other people with whom I'm similarly linked on Facebook now.

Schedule change!

Heads up, no show on Thursday at Cafe Hey. Actually, there is, but I won't be there and that was a really arrogant way to word that announcement.
You should go anyway. It's a nice place filled with really nice people.
As for me, well, I will be doing something else. I may or may not be able to share that later. Stay tuned. Or not.
Still on for tonight at Felicitous Coffee & Tea House out by USF though.

And a major Thank You to those who came out last night (Tuesday) to the Double Decker. It was really nice to see people I know in the audience. I should have probably led off with that expression of gratitude, huh?
God, what a jerk.

Monday, February 23, 2015

This week's stand-up comedy schedule

Okay, nobody should be able to complain about a lack of advance notice THIS time.
Here are the open mics I plan/hope to hit this week...

"Leg Up, Stand Up"
Tuesday, Feb 24, some time after 8PM
1721 E. 7th Avenue (Ybor City)

PRO TIP: If you like to sing, stick around after the comedy for karaoke!

"Nite Owl Comedy Open Mic"
Wednesday, Feb 25, some time after 8:45PM
11706 North 51st Street (Tampa, near USF)

PRO TIP: I've never been here before so I don't know what to tell you. Sorry. It looks cute though, doesn't it?

"Hey Open Mic @ Cafe Hey"
Thursday, Feb 26, some time after 7PM
1540 N. Franklin (Tampa, downtown)

PRO TIP: Coffee is served on big mugs so drink fast if you don't want cold coffee. They do have smaller mugs, though, and I suppose you could ask for one of those instead. I'm not smart.

Don't forget the caveats...

  • These are open mics. It's not like I'm a headliner or a featured act. In fact, there's no guarantee that I'll even make it on stage on a given night.
  • These are open mics. In many cases, people are working on untested, raw material. Others are inexperienced performers looking for an opportunity to rehearse. And some people are both of those things. As such, the perceived quality of the performances from an audience expecting a polished, show-bizzy "show", may will vary wildly.  
  • These are open mics, and they're live performances by live performers*. There's no way of predicting what will (or won't) happen.
  • Also (this is a new one that I should have mentioned previously), keep in mind I'm working on something here. As a result, if you plan to show up at all three appearances, you should expect to hear the same bits three times. As much as I'd love to see you there (you smell nice and are squishy in all the right places), it might get old for you.
Has this ever happened to you? You want to hear me run my yapper and attempt to be entertaining and humorous, but -OH NO!- you're afraid to leave your home or you live all the way out in Dayton, Ohio.
"GodDAMNit, mom! Are you ever going to stop ruining our lives with your inability to pour soft drinks?!?"
Can't somebody offer a simple, easy-to-use alternative? YES! And it's called "The Spike On The Mic Show" and it's on your computer! Simply tune in live to on Mondays at 7PM Eastern and set your ears to "Listen". That's it! No muss, no fuss, no clean-up, no divorce and no years and years of exhaustive therapy.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Nothing's funnier that existential angst!

Remember the funny pages in the Sunday newspaper? Many of you might not even remember newspapers so probably not. Hell, I sure don't. But believe me anyway when I tell you that there used to be a whole section of the paper once a week that consisted of nothing but comic strips. Newspapers are dying but the comic strips survive. How? By evolving (in most cases, without the author's direct participation or even permission) to reflect the ever-devolving, twisted Hellscape that has come to define our daily existence by altering either the captions or the artwork of established, mainstream comic strips to depict something hilariously darker than what was originally intended.

The roots of this whole movement probably started with the audience-participatory and now-defunct "The Dysfunctional Family Circus"
Why do you have scalpels in the silverware drawer?

"The Family Circus", with it's saccharine take on suburban family life as it existed in the early 60s (if ever, at all) remains ripe for parody, as evidenced by the existence of "The Nietzche Family Circus"
A little poison now and then: that makes for agreeable dreams.

...and also "Time Is A Flat Circus"

Everybody loves the Monday-hating, lasagna-loving, over-merchandised, blight-on-Bill-Murray's-resume Garfield! Except those who don't. "Garfield Minus Garfield" is perfect for them.

A new entry is the insufferable single gal Cathy, now infused with sardonic musings of Louis CK in "Cathy CK"

Of course, if you like seeing all kinds of comic strips in their natural state being ripped to shreds by genial misanthropes, I highly recommend "The Comics Curmudgeon", the blog that inspired me to start this one!
'Wow, Mark really cares about whelk purity. “Hey Mark, look what I found on the beach!” “That’s not a true whelk, Rusty!” [slaps it out of his hand and into the sea]'

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

TOMORROW: Stand-up comedy at Cafe Hey!

There's no need to re-post the same whole thing I put up Tuesday so I won't do that. I'll do this instead...

LIVE STAND-UP COMEDY (and music and poetry and stuff) OPEN MIC
Thursday, February 19 @ Cafe Hey - 7:30 PM
1540 N. Franklin Street, Tampa, FL

Same as last time (same as every time), I have no idea when or if I'll actually be going on, but I'll be there with the hope of doing so.

I'm going to make these announcements often so for added value, I will include a PRO TIP that will enhance your visit to the venue. That way, if you're annoyed by the gratuitous comedy plugging, at least you'll have the opportunity to learn something. Here's today's...

PRO TIP: Go early and visit the adjacent Oceanic Market, where you'll find, among other things, an entire aisle of nothing but different kinds of noodles!! It's truly incredible. Also, there are things in the produce department that genuinely frighten me. Don't forget to show up for the comedy, though.

Pale Rider

So this happened a couple of weeks ago...

"Everything you’re about to read is 100% true: On Monday, February 2nd, Jack White played a show at the McCasland Field House on the campus of University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. During the performance, he publicly called out the university’s newspaper The Oklahoma Daily for its printing of his contract with the university as well as his tour rider. The paper defended the publishing of said documents, citing its right under the Freedom of Information Act, but White responded by telling the audience, “Just because you can type it on your computer doesn’t make it right.” In the days that followed, OU was informed that it was being blacklisted from any future Jack White performances as well as all other artists represented by William Morris Entertainment." -

Among the items listed in the rider was a recipe for guacamole. Since then, everybody is having fun with Jack White getting all twisted up over the publication of a super-secret guacamole recipe...

Oh, those temperamental, bitchy little rock stars with their intentionally difficult and quirky demands and their extreme butt-hurt temper tantrums when they don't get their way. Haw haw haw!
Except that isn't exactly why Jack White is annoyed, as illustrated in the open letter he posted on his web site the other day...

For God Sakes!
Posted by Third Man on 15 February 2015
dear journalists and other people looking for drama or a diva,
even in the age of the short attention span internet article, it’s still hard to believe you are STILL writing about this:
wow. classy.
seems like there’s a new rule number one for up and coming journalists: don't let the facts get in the way of click bait. at the risk of incurring even more of this hoo haa (and i’ve definitely turned my cheek more than once lately) and even though our management sent out a letter to clarify this, and since this seems to be all anyone can ask me about lately, here’s the real deal, and hopefully it’ll explain this nonsensical scenario and we can move on with our lives. (or what have you).
first off, this is none of your business, but i have no specific demands in my dressing room. i know i could ask for lots of things but i actually don't ask for ANYTHING. i take with me what i need, and that ain't much. anything on the rider is for the band and the crew. this "guacamole recipe" is my hilarious tour managers inside joke with the local promoters, it’s his recipe, not mine. it’s just something to break up the boredom, seeing who can make it best. though i wouldn’t know because i’ve never had it. i can’t even make kool aid let alone cook any real food enough to have a “recipe.” sorry, i don't have that talent.
bananas: did it occur to anyone someone on the tour might have an allergy to them? no? hmmm. one day some fantasy journalist out there will call someone in the biz and actually have a rider explained to them, maybe none of them have ever been on tour. oh well, let’s move on, first amendment issues: i fully believe in the freedom of the press (though the supposed search for truth from the press requires microscopes and a some morton salt), and i also defend anyone’s right to free speech (just look at my lack of respect for grammar in this letter and tell me i’m not for communicating freely) and i defend the right to free information in regards to public funds, but never in my 20 years of playing shows has my contract and tour rider been published in the paper that i recall.
do you know why we don't do that or want that? a hundred articles about bananas, free speech, and guacamole is why; it’s because people don't understand what a rider is or what the terms of a contract are. they’re out of their element, and you can’t blame them for it. and people who write about that know this. people WANT a rider to be a list of demands that a diva insists occur lest he or she refuse to play a note of music.
but in reality, it’s just some food and drinks backstage for the hundred workers and guests who have to live in a concrete bunker for 15 hours. some people bring their own living rooms on tour, some people ask for a huge spread. who cares? what you’re looking for is someone throwing a tantrum because they didn’t get their brown m and m’s, sorry to disappoint.
someone printed that i’m never going to oklahoma again? not true. i love oklahoma, that’s why i booked this show instead of playing chicago or atlanta for four times as much money. ask around in tulsa. i’ve been there at least three times on these last two albums. i love it there. our booking agent warned the college that other artists might not book shows there? of course they did, it’s bad business what that school paper did and really rude. of course they are going to tell them to wise up.
am i pissed at the students at oklahoma university? absolutely not. am i disappointed in young journalists at their school paper? absolutely. but i forgive them, they’re young and have learned their lesson about truth and ethics hopefully. all they have to do is google this to know that it’s not worth it. look for real problems instead next time. look for the truth, not fake drama. i got pissed during my show and berated the crowd? no. sorry, didn’t happen. i made jokes about the paper publishing that info, so which of us is thin skinned? they have freedom of speech but i don't? at my show? ok. i guess the rules change for different people. the crowd were amazing and we played for 2 and a half hours that night. people were told to delete photos on their camera? i dont know much about that but it must be a miscommunication about what was public property at the college and the contract we had with the university to let us do our work in peace; but i’ll give you an example, if someone working at a theater we played at started taking pictures of all of our workers and our gear they’d probably get fired by their theater or promoter. sorry to the student paper budding press papparazzi on that one, but is this a tmz assignment or can you give us some peace while we try to put on a show for the students? give us a break man.
i know it’s a fun thing for people to try to turn me into a jerk and a diva, but in this case it’s pretty ridiculous and has almost nothing to do with me. my relationship with the fans at that show and how we got to a new place together through music remains intact and i’d love to do it again with them.
i think that’s everything, can i go back to making music now? no? ok. crochet it is.
jack white -
Which was actually a follow-up to notification from his management team put out a week prior that should have clarified things...

To the students and staff of the University of Oklahoma:
Jack White would love to thank all the concert attendees at his performance at the University of Oklahoma. The crowd was incredible and Mr. White played an extensive two and a half hour show for them. The students who helped organize the event were wonderful. Playing in, and for, the people of Oklahoma is one of Jack White’s favorite tour stops. At no time did Jack White or White’s management say that we would never play there again, that is untrue.
The incidents with the OU Daily student newspaper reporting the financial terms of the show, the private tour rider information, along with unsolicited photographers from their staff were unfortunate, unprofessional, and very unwelcoming. The show was one of many on this tour directed at playing for university students in their own environment. And the band were all completely thrilled with the performance and the crowd.
Incidentally, the most important function of a rider is that it lays out optimal technical specifications to ensure the audience has the best experience possible. For that, Jack hires a team of very qualified touring professionals who write the rider and attempt to execute a professional and pleasant experience for all involved. Part of that is making sure that the tour personnel of about 30 people plus the local venue staff are fed. Contrary to what some believe, Jack doesn’t write the rider nor make demands about his favorite snacks that must be in his dressing room. We’re not even sure he likes guacamole but we do know that the folks who work hard to put on the show do enjoy it.
(By the way, now that’s it out there, we recommend you try Lalo’s guacamole recipe. It’s delicious.)
We hope those present for Mr. White’s performance are able to maintain their good memories from the experience and he looks forward to seeing them again soon.
Monotone Inc.
(Jack White’s management)

Of course his basic point is valid: The institution of journalism is in pretty sad shape, as illustrated by the fact that this isn't news and barely qualifies as interesting. 'Jack White is such a weirdo! He likes guacamole and refuses to perform in venues who don't prepare it by following a certain specific recipe! Except not really, but that's our story and we're stickin' to it'. "Well, no goddamn wonder concert tickets cost $400" and other illogical and irrelevant conclusions drawn by people who really don't understand the concept of cause-and-effect. 
Look, everybody knows that concert tour riders have eccentric clauses and idiosyncratic "demands". The roots of which come from the famous "no brown M&Ms" clause in Van Halen's rider.

Not that Van Halen cared about M&Ms as much as they cared that people actually took the time to read the contract thoroughly...

"Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We'd pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn't support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren't big enough to move the gear through.
The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say "Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes ..." This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: "There will be no brown M&M's in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation."
So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl ... well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you're going to arrive at a technical error. They didn't read the contract. Guaranteed you'd run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening." - David Lee Roth, "Crazy From The Heat"

So yeah, tour riders can be lots of fun to read. TheSmokingGun has an entire section dedicated to them (don't miss the one for Iggy Pop; all 18 pages of it are intentionally hilarious). And in the meantime, let's try to encourage our local mainstream news outlets to use their resources more effectively.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Comedy tomorrow, comedy tonight (depending entirely on when you read this)

Two posts in one day? Wow.
"Excessive! Enough words from you already! Shut up and come back Wednesday!"
Okay, that's unnecessarily rude. I'm only here again today because some people expressed disappointment that I haven't been giving any advance notice for my stand-up comedy appearances and I wanted to correct that. Let's clear up a couple of things first...

  • These are open mics. It's not like I'm a headliner or a featured act. In fact, there's no guarantee that I'll even make it on stage on a given night.
  • These are open mics. In many cases, people are working on untested, raw material. Others are inexperienced performers looking for an opportunity to rehearse. And some people are both of those things. As such, the perceived quality of the performances from an audience expecting a polished, show-bizzy "show", may will vary wildly.  
  • These are open mics, and they're live performances by live performers*. There's no way of predicting what will (or won't) happen.
Basically, what I'm saying is I make no promises of any kind. That said, by all means, you're more than welcome to attend! The next time I hope to perform is tomorrow, Tuesday, February 17, at the Double Decker Lounge at 1721 East 7th Avenue in Ybor City, sometime between 8:00PM and 10:00PM, as part of Jeff Rey's "Leg Up, Stand Up" weekly open mic workshop/showcase. Would love it if you can make it, won't be upset if you can't. But now at least you know what time it is.

PS: It's kind of smokey there, because it's a bar, Also, it looks like this at night...

* = On Friday, February 6 (my birthday), I performed at "The Bunker @ Tres Amici (remember that place???) and it was so crowded, that a group of students sat on the floor and I thought that was a truly beautiful thing. With so many people who are more than happy to stay at home, plant themselves on their couch and watch shows like "America's Next Top Eyebrows" or whatever (or far worse, live-Tweeting them, which is the equivalent of talking into a microphone that's plugged into a speaker that you have inserted into your own butt), here were people adventurous enough to not only go out and find real human beings engaged in live performance but willing to sit on the damn floor of a place to experience it. Live performers, be they musicians or poets or comedians (self-styled or otherwise) are direct descendants of the original jesters and troubadours from which all varieties of entertainment sprung, and, in my decidedly biased and buffoonishly high-minded opinion, are entitled to not only a modicum of respect, but appreciation.  


Have you heard of vaping? It's the use of so-called e-cigarettes or other devices that produce a "vapor" instead of noxious cigarette smoke. It's also the newest trendy thing that exists that I hate. Look, I get most of the reasonable arguments. 
  • It's better than smoking tobacco. Great (although, is it?). 
  • It helps people kick the tobacco habit. Even better.
  • That's it. That's enough.
Those things are fine. I don't have a problem with any of that. Tobacco is nasty stuff and whatever it takes for people to free themselves of being addicted to it and all the shit that comes with that is a positive alternative. Of course, as is always the case, it's actually the human beings doing it that I hate. And as usual, I have a case in point...

I was at the Double Decker lounge in Ybor Tuesday night, seated at the corner of the bar, minding my business. The woman sitting next to me pulls out her apparatus, does whatever you do to fire it up, takes a hit and emits a huge, billowing cloud of what smells like cotton candy that just rolls over me. It was so thick I couldn't read the papers in my hand. Before I could object, she says, "Don't freak out or anything. It's not smoke, it's vapor." Like this new technology and the benefit it provides to the user is somehow beneficial to me, as though she's doing me a favor. That's great. It's vapor? Terrific. You know what else is vapor? Smoke. That's right, smoke is vapor. hey, you know what else is a vapor? A fart. How about if I climb up on the bar, get down on all fours with my sphincter pointed directly at your face and just blast away? Don't freak out or anything. It's just vapor!
About this time, the guy sitting on the other side of me got all excited and pulled out his vape machine, "Hey, you vape? Me too! I vape!" and started vaping. Fog rolled through from both sides as they had a conversation that sounded like this...
"I love vaping!"
"Vaping is the best!"
"I vape all the time."
"I'm constantly at the vape store."
"The guys who work at the vape store know me."
"They love how I love vaping!"
"I love vaping at the vape store!"
"I vape vaping when I vape vape."
"Vapity vape vape!"
"Vape vape vape vape vape vape vape vape vape vape!"

I don't blame their vape hobby; I'm sure they were that dumb before. But it can't be helping.
Oh well. In five years, this will be yet another one of those impossibly dumb fads that people will look back on with regret and I'll be able to smugly say it never sucked me in.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Everything we need to know about this whole Bruce Jenner situation

This is a recent photo of Bruce Jenner
Bruce Jenner's name has been in the news A LOT lately, hasn't it? Magazine covers, TV news, irresponsible internet hack-ass bloggers (hey!). Everybody is talking about Bruce Jenner! But what's really going on? How are we supposed to feel about it? If your answer to those kinds of questions on the matter is something like "Who gives a shit? It's none of my business and I'm sick of hearing about it", well, you can stop reading this right this very second, mister. If that's seriously your attitude, you don't need to read another word. Go on, get out of here!
Are they gone? Good.
Now then, let's really dive in and tackle this super-complicated and tricky issue, shall we? Okay!

Who is Bruce Jenner?
Bruce Jenner is a human being presently alive and residing on Planet Earth.

What does/did he do to be regarded as a celebrity?
In 1976, he won the Gold Medal competing in the Decathlon in the Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada and was regarded as "The World's Greatest Athlete" as a result. He parlayed that into a career as an actor on television and in movies. He also found success in auto racing and as a motivational speaker and author. In recent years, he has appeared on various, popular "reality" television programs.

Okay, so what's the deal on this whole sex change thing?
Ah, yes. That. That is none of your business.

Excuse me?
Yeah, that's a deeply personal thing and it's entirely his business and has absolutely nothing to do with you.

Bullshit. He's a celebrity.
Yep. Still a human being, though, entitled to a personal life and privacy when it comes to managing his personal affairs.

But I need to know what's going on, why he's doing this.
No, you don't.

Yes, I do.
Nope. You don't actually.

Yes, I really do.
No, you really don't.

But I want...
Ah, there it is.

You want to know stuff, you don't need to know it. Sort of like how I want Cheetos but I damn sure don't need them. Look, as stated above, Bruce Jenner is a human being, presently alive and residing on Planet Earth. He's exactly like you in that he breathes oxygen, he eats food and drinks water. In those ways, he is not extraordinary and anything else he does on a personal, no-harm-to-others level, will never impact your life in any way whatsoever. The decision to share anything above and beyond or not should be entirely up to him. Either way, with or without that info, you'll be fine. But you need to know that your desire to revel in criticizing or mocking what you perceive to be weird behavior, or any of the myriad reasons behind it, either actively or passively by watching TMZ or reading People magazine, by someone you don't even know is really not good for you. And you can apply that to any celebrity, or any average shmucko at the mall with purple hair or a pierced eyebrow for that matter. Whatever it is, that's their deal and it doesn't affect you so back off. Is your shit so together that you're even in a position to critique what anybody else is doing? I'm not judging you (although I strenuously doubt you can honestly answer that last question in the affirmative), because you, just like Bruce Jenner, can do whatever you want as long you aren't hurting anyone. But you can do better, you know, for your soul. Wallowing in this stuff is like stuffing your soul with Cheetos.
Soul Cheetos
Uh-uh. No buts.

Yeah, but...

Listen, damn it! I need...okay, want to understand! Why? Why didn't he do this a long time ago? What are we supposed to think? How does this make sense? What's going to happen next?
Okay, I'd recommend that you take the following as not only an answer to these queries but as kind of a guiding philosophy for dealing with this and situations similar to it: Who gives a shit? It's none of my business and I'm sick of hearing about it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A short conversation during an awkward ride home

(The following takes place in a car after several miles traveled in complete silence)
"I really don't want to talk about it, okay?"
"No, no, I just realized I never actually complimented you on being nominated for the award in the first place and I'm sorry that you didn't win. I think you did a great job."
"Oh. Well, thank you. That's nice to hear."
"But what was that?"
"(Heavy sigh)"
"I mean, I'm not threatened. I'm a confident, secure-in-myself man but, this have to admit it's kind of weird, you know?"
"I agree! I'm not enjoying it either."
"Are you sure about that?"
"Yes! I think it's creepy! What would I find enjoyable about it?"
"It's just that when it happened, you looked kind of, I don't know, amused."

"I was shocked! That was an uncontrollable nervous reaction to being caught completely off guard."
"All right. If you say so."
"Listen, I don't know what he's thinking when he does this stuff. Maybe he isn't thinking. I have no idea. All I can tell you is that I'm not doing anything to encourage it."
"The guy has issues."
"I'm glad you agree."
"So, are you okay?"
"Me? Yeah, I'm fine. I just like we needed to address the situation and air that out. I wanted to see what your thoughts were on the situation. Now that I know how you feel, I'm totally fine."
"Good. Because you have absolutely nothing to worry about."
"That's all I wanted to hear. And for what it's worth, neither do you. (slips Beck's "Morning Phase" into CD player)"

Monday, February 09, 2015

Grief therapy update: Improvement!

I have a cat named Jack. He's lived with me his entire life, from the time he was born, which was a pretty long time ago. Honestly, I don't remember the exact year but it was the late 90's. He means a lot to me. He's my furry, four-legged life partner.
My ex-wife and I were able to keep the whole family together when his mother gave birth to Jack and his two sisters in our living room back in Sarasota. They all came with me when I was on my own.
His mom and one of his sisters passed away a few years ago, so it was me, Jack and his sister Macy together since just before we all moved into my house.
About two weeks, ago, we lost Macy. I came home from work and she had apparently died in her sleep. Jack was lying right next to her.
Over the next few days, Jack was very lethargic. He'd crawl under the bed covers and spend the whole day sleeping. He stopped eating and lost a pretty dramatic amount of weight in a very short period of time. It took me a few days to really notice but eventually it occurred to me, "I recognize this behavior; the poor little guy is depressed!"
This is Macy and no, I'm not good at selfies with cats.
Well, of course he's depressed. I did the calculation and he never spent as much as a whole day separated from his sister. Now he's the last one left from his family and plus, with my goofy schedule, he's all alone all day long. Even when I'm there, it's just me.
Pictured: Consolation prize
I implemented a grief therapy program of my own design, consisting mostly of really good food and extra intense snuggle time complete with heavy duty petting and the cooing of sweet, sweet baby talk. That's what I would want if I were grieving.
The root element of this therapy consisted of opening a can of Fancy Feast cat food (Classic Savory Salmon flavor) and bringing it into the bedroom. As expected, he was under the covers sleeping. I woke him gently and got a mumbled meow that sounded like "Murph." I sat on the side of the bed with the bowl of food and started talking to him. He picked up the scent of the food and I got a "Murph?". He crawled out from under the covers and climbed up on my lap and started eating. I pet him and sat there patiently while he ate. He got down just over a quarter of it over about a half hour. We went to bed and he fell asleep, purring, on my chest. I set the alarm for a half hour earlier than usual and spent that extra time the next morning just petting and talking to him.
Next day, same thing (Classic Turkey and Giblets). And the day after that (Flaked Fish and Shrimp Feast). He comes out from under the covers on his own now and is eating a little more food each time. Last night, he got within a couple of bites of eating the whole can (Classic Tender beef and Chicken Feast). I can tell he's putting on and keeping some weight too. He still sleeps all day under the covers, which concerns me, but his demeanor is better when I'm around so there is some marked improvement. My schedule is still pretty hectic and I'm often not home until late and so I'm wondering if it would be a good idea to get him a playmate to keep him company during the day, but I don't know if it's a good idea. On the one hand, the merits are pretty self-evident. On the other hand, at his age, how will he take to a new cat? As much as he seems to be enjoying the attention, I don't know how he would take to having to share any of that. Should I get an older cat or a kitten? A male or a female? What about a dog?
If there's anybody out there reading this who has been through anything similar and has advice, I'd love to hear it.
In the meantime, tonight is Classic Tender Liver and Chicken.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Today is my birthday

I'm celebrating with birthday greetings from my adorable niece Jocelyn in St. Louis.

And also by not doin' nothin' today, including writing.
See ya Monday.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

What could POSSIBLY go wrong AGAIN, THIS time?

From the full-to-the-point-of-overflowing "Responsible gun ownership means nothing can go wrong until it eventually does" file, Joseph Carannate, a man in nearby St. Petersburg, has built hisself a genuine, home-made, All-American, shoot-'em-up range...right in the front yard of his home...smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood. The reason is because he apparently can't afford to pay the fees to take his guns to some fancy downtown certified, professionally owned and operated gun range. And as we know, here in 2015 America, you're entitled to believe that your desire to do something you want, regardless of how it might impact others or even if you can afford to do it, is the same thing as your right to do it, and goddamn it, he wants to shoot his guns.

Hoo boy. Off the cuff, this seems like it might be kind of a bad idea to me.

At the risk of pigeonholing myself, in any debate between people, especially children, whose agenda boils down to "living longer through not getting shot" and hobby enthusiasts, I'm going to be on the unarmed folks side pretty much every single time.

Before you jump down my throat and attack me as "Another mouthy liberal freaking about anything having to do with guns just because of an irrational fear of guns and a hatred of personal freedom", take a look at the "range" for yourself...
Why yes, he IS wearing a t-shirt with the word "responsibility" on it!
Yep. That's it. Obviously, he followed this recipe in constructing it...

  • Pile of sand
  • Shipping pallets
  • Piece of plywood
Pile ingredients in front of some bushes and trees and shit (you know, for extra good safety). Aim. Fire.

That there is a genuine, home-made, All-American front yard shoot-'em-up range.
Oh come on, you Another mouthy liberal freaking about anything having to do with guns just because of an irrational fear of guns and a hatred of personal freedom. How exactly are you defining "middle of a residential district"?
Well, pretty much this...
Look, maybe I am just Another mouthy liberal freaking about anything having to do with guns just because of an irrational fear of guns and a hatred of personal freedom. That is entirely possible. I have never said I have all the answers or even any of the correct ones.
Ultimately, I guess the truth is we have no way of knowing that anything could possibly go wrong with this situation.
Except a woman's house in nearby Lithia got all shot up just about a week ago by a couple of guys shooting guns in somebody's yard, so you know, precedent. Whatever.
But here's the beautiful, and by "beautiful", I mean "horrifyingly troubling" part: the whole thing is completely legal...
* "There's no restriction on the type of firearms or ammunition that can be used in a backyard shooting range.
* There's no restriction on the time of day or night your neighbors can use their gun range.
* And there's no restriction on gun ranges near a public school, day-care center or neighborhood playground." - Florida Sun Sentinel

And (you weren't anticipating an "and" there, were you?) it's protected to the point that it can't even be made illegal!
"The law allowing home gun ranges has been on the books for 27 years. However, as local governments began passing ordinances that banned them, the National Rifle Association convinced state lawmakers in 2011 to fight back. Now, local leaders who create restrictive ordinances face fines of $5,000 per offense. They can even be removed from office and forced to pay their own legal fees if sued over a gun ordinance." - Florida Sun Sentinel
In other words, public servants can be unceremoniously fired simply for pissing off the wrong hobbyist because the NRA doesn't give a shit about you and your stupid votes.
Again, Hoo boy.
Okay, so it's his legal right to construct what he considers a gun range in his yard in exactly the same way it's my right to fart as loudly and powerfully (you know what I mean by that) as I want in the middle of a nice restaurant. Of course, I don't do that because I'm not an asshole, but it is my right.
I guess there's nothing to do but wait for something horrible to happen. Again.

EPILOGUE: The preceding situation was rectified early this morning (Wednesday, February 4th) thanks to Mike Calta of the "The Mike Calta Show" on 102.5 WHPT-FM by arranging a membership for Carannate at an actual, certified, professionally operated gun range. Of course, legally he can still use his home-made range too, so again, we'll see.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Something you may not realize you ever wanted can now be yours!

Hey, I was just sitting here and wondering, have you ever wanted a picture of me, and two other guys you may or may not know, situated across your boob region on a t-shirt?
The Unbelievables, as written and portrayed by me and my partners Jeff Hickmott and Michael Noble, have produced a t-shirt that YOU can own and wear!
"Now you can show your allegiance to your favourite butt-kicking stylish crimefighters The Unbelievables with these high quality tees - just perfect for lounging by the pool, staking out the local donut shop, making a batch of whipped potatoes - or even when attending an all-day Unbelievinar on the importance of lapels."
For the unbelievably low, low price of just $18 for fellas and $21 for ladies, these sexy tee's are available in Jeff black, Michael green, Clark purple, Marissa pink and Doo-doo brown (as shown) in sizes up to 4X. And they look absolutely fantastic crumpled on someone's bedroom floor.
Everything in that paragraph IS TRUE! I'm going to get one in every color so I can show it off every day! You should get at least get one for yourself.