Sunday, October 22, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Odd Man IN

This is a baseball analogy that (hopefully) explains why you can't respond to the #MeToo movement with "NOT ALL MEN", because sometimes we (men) learn things from baseball.

First of all, let's assume you really are a good guy. You don't abuse or even harass women. You never have and you never will. Good for you. That's a pretty easy-to-meet minimum standard, but it counts. You ARE a good guy and the horrific experiences that inspired the #MeToo movement don't apply to you as an individual. Awesome.

But you're not exempt from taking a share of the heat currently coming down, because you are part of a team. And your team kinda sucks right now, at least in this area.

Let's say you're a Major League Baseball player and you're very good. You hit .346 with 21 home runs and 81 runs batted in, plus you're an exceptional fielder and you routinely deliver in clutch situations. This means you're very good because this means you're Jose Altuve.
And he's very good.
The problem is you play for a bad team. It's a team that has had significant success in the past and is not without charm and other positive attributes but has also struggled quite a bit over the years and is not doing well right now. Basically, you play for the New York Mets. Your team is lousy because they're stocked with lousy players. Not all of them of course. there's you and a few other guys who are pretty good. But enough lousy ones to safely say the team itself is lousy. And the results in the standings bear that out.
In this scenario, your team has just been swept at home in a three-game series. Last place, 15 games out first. Lousy pitching, dumb fielding errors, non-existent offense. Could have won all three, didn't come close to winning one.
Not you, though. You were a stud! You went 5-for-12 (.416) with two homers. It's no wonder you're the one kids look up to. Kids should look up to you. But the team you're on still stinks. The media points that out every day and most of the fans agree. Is it appropriate for you to call a press conference to point out what a great season you're having and how it's not your fault the team stinks? Of course not. You wouldn't do that because only an asshole would do that.

For one thing, it's just not a good look. Nobody likes the guy on a team who draws individual attention to himself, even if it's merited. You can be Jose Altuve on the New York Mets, but it's not okay for you to point out that you're Jose Altuve and they're the New York Mets.

For another, that doesn't help your team get better and that's what needs your attention right now. You need to get the rest of these clowns on your level. That may be difficult, it might not even be possible. But it's what you need to do, even if people continue to say mean things as you try to do so. Like it or not, you're a member of this team. Their sucking may be sucking you down with them but you're part of it. Pointing out that the criticism directed at your team doesn't apply to you helps nobody.

By all means, keep being Jose Altuve, but try to get your teammates to stop being so New York Mets-ish.

I hope this helps. Have fun out there. Good hustle.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Some things to consider when protesting protesters

This is not yet another hot take on athletes and the national anthem.
There are no takes to be taken on that topic, hot or otherwise. You're either okay with it or you're not. Your rant is going to be received enthusiastically by people who agree with you and rejected outright by people who don't. This renders the necessity of all of these rants invalid.
Of course, all of the rants are going to keep coming; I'm just pointing out that this is not one of them.

Your views are yours and you're entitled to them. It's not even appropriate for me to challenge why you feel the way you do. I'm just happy that we (currently) live in a nation that allows you to have and express your opinions.

But (oh boy, here we go), I would like you to take one thing into consideration:
If part of your argument refers to professional athletes as "spoiled millionaire crybabies" or some similar dismissive description, you're demonstrating that you lack a level of empathy that discredits the validity of your argument to a degree.

  • For starters, not all professional athletes are millionaires, so your description is factually inaccurate. If your point is that they're overpaid, especially in relation to what people like firefighters, school teachers and others who provide life-changing/saving services make, that should be an entirely separate argument, one that can be effectively countered with the fact that they make what their industry determines they can make. And in that case, if you're a fan who buys tickets and merchandise, or you watch on TV and patronize sponsors, you're part of your own "problem".
  • More importantly, they're people, and they're entitled to how they feel about things the same way you are. Being paid money (whether or not you think it's too much) to play a game doesn't invalidate their access to the same rights you have because you don't get paid to play games. If your point is they shouldn't be protesting at work, on company time, that's also separate from the point I'm trying to make about marginalizing them for how they make a living.
  • Technically, they're not paid to play games; they're paid to entertain people. If people aren't interested in watching athletes play games, nobody would pay them to do it. But that's splitting hairs.
  • Is it possible you're just jealous of professional athletes, and if so, isn't that a whole different thing that should be addressed outside of this? Maybe?
When you're angry at "spoiled millionaire crybabies" who play games for a living, you're dismissing them outright as something less than people. And if you're unwilling to demonstrate enough empathy to do that, then you're certainly unwilling to consider what factors might inform another's views. And THAT says you haven't really considered all the sides to the whole issue itself and aren't even willing to do so. And THAT speaks to YOUR credibility and the validity of your argument.
  • "THEY SHOULD BE OUT DOING THINGS IN THE COMMUNITY!" Do you know that they aren't?
  • "THEY'RE ONLY DOING IT BECAUSE THEY SAW SOMEONE ELSE DO IT!" Isn't that how most things start, from political movements to dance crazes?
  • "THEY'RE JUST DOING IT FOR THE ATTENTION!" A lot of that attention manifests itself in death threats directed toward them and their families. None of it manifests itself in endorsement opportunities. Do you really believe that anybody wants that kind of attention?
  • "THEY SHOULD BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT THEY HAVE!" Do you know that they aren't?
Again, I have no interest in trying to change anyone's mind. I don't believe that's even possible. I already know how I feel about it and I'm pretty sure nobody's going to change my mind, either. I also don't believe these arguments are going to stop. What I want is for there to be enough understanding between individuals who see each other as people so there can be good, reasonable, thought out arguments.  

Remember, you can empathize with someone without agreeing with something you find objectionable.
The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Drag yourself to this show!

Sunday night, I'll be competing in the Wigs and Wit Showdown at Punky's in St. Petersburg
"Join us every second Sunday of the month for this unique style competition. 3 comics. 3 drag queens. Comedy, lip syncing, hilarity.
Get dinner, stick around and watch the best new gig in town.
3 comics will do 10 min sets, and the 3 drag queens will judge each set 1-10. Each drag queen will perform and the comics will judge their performance 1-10.
The top comic vs top drag queen square off as the comic lip sings and the queen does a 5 min set! Winner takes home $100"

The concept was dreamed up by my buddy Jeff Klein and I think it's a genius idea. I've been dying to be part of it since he came up with it and I finally get my chance this Sunday. Win or lose, I just can't see how this won't be a totally fun night. Plus, I've never been to Punky's but I hear the food is good.

The other comics will be Travis Pickett and Kevin Taylor and the queens will be Stephanie Stuart, Alexis DeHaven and Omahyra Murad.

Come on out, if you can. This is as close as you can get to a guaranteed good time.
Sunday, October 8 - 7PM
3063 Central Ave. St. Petersburg

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

My gift to women

I'm old, so I'm old fashioned.
As such, I consider myself a gentleman and believe a gentleman should give gifts to ladies.
My most recent example of this was the other day in a parking garage. A woman and I were both on the fourth floor, waiting for the elevator. When it got there, I pretended I suddenly needed to be on my phone and let her take it by herself.
Why? Because I know for many women, being in an elevator with somebody like me, even for a few seconds (the time it takes to go down four floors) is a waking nightmare. That's justified in that bad things happen often enough in scenarios like that where you have to question why a woman wouldn't dread it. I can say I'm a good guy who would never hurt a woman, but do you know who also says that? Bad guys who hurt women. Maybe this particular woman didn't have any anxiety about being confined in a tight space with a big, ugly creep for a few seconds, but the safe bet is that she would feel better otherwise.
You're welcome, ladies.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Two for the show

Generally, I'm okay with being alone and doing things by myself. Often, I prefer it. It's easier to relax and enjoy myself when I don't have to worry about burdening someone else with my presence and the annoying behavior that comes with that.
Other times, I feel like I need companionship.

My original comedy mentor Tony Gaud has made a feature film, a horror/comedy titled "Billy's Got A Bad Brain" and it premieres on October 15 at the Tampa Improv in Ybor City. I'm in it and I have a significant role. I'm only bragging a little bit; I'm mostly mentioning it for context. There's going to be a red carpet at the premiere and being as I'm prominent in the film, I don't want to show up and possibly have my picture taken unaccompanied. Maybe that's an outdated way of thinking about things, that someone attending an event is going to be thought of as less than if they arrive sans accompaniment, especially a guy. But I know I would feel more comfortable if I had someone there with me. Due to circumstances beyond my control, the person with whom I would have liked to attend is unavailable, which presents a problem. And what's the best way to solve any problem associated with loneliness? Why, with ads on Craigslist of course!

This one went up last Wednesday:
Brilliant, hilarious actor seeks temporary arm candy - m4w (Ybor) Hi! I'm in a movie that premieres on October 15 at the Improv in Tampa and I need a glamorous babe to attend with me so I can be photographed arriving on the red carpet with a glamorous babe.
YOU: Glamorous, fun, pretty good actor (you have to convince people that you like me)
ME: Not so glamorous, lots of fun, hilarious, charming, great actor (you'll see, when you watch my performance in the movie)
Do you like playing dress-up? Do you like attending movie premieres? Do you like watching locally produced independent films FOR FREE? This could be the greatest night of your life! Or at least a pretty good one. Probably not terrible. Maybe.

I got exactly one response and this is basically what happened next:
HER: Hello! I believe I am a good fit for your "acting scenario girlfriend" for the movie premiere... I am a very sweet, funny, well spoken person, intelligent...I am 5'2" and 118lbs...Pretty...but that would be your decision... if you would like to contact me, we can go from there...
ME: Thanks for replying! I will give you a call later this afternoon.
HER: What's the compensation for this?
ME: Oh, there's no compensation. But you get to see the movie for free!
HER: I just remembered I have my kids that weekend. Sorry.

So this slightly less ambiguous one followed last Friday:
Pseudo-movie star still seeking classy (temporary) companion - m4w (Ybor City) Hi. I'm in the movie "Billy's Got A Bad Brain", a locally produced horror/comedy which will premiere at the Tampa Improv on October 15th. I'm looking for a glamorous dame to accompany me so I don't have to have my picture taken all by myself on the red carpet, like some clod who refers to a lady as a "dame".
YOU: Fun, classy, able to pretend that you like me for a couple of hours.
ME: Fun, low key, pretty funny (professional comedian), good enough actor to be featured in a locally produced horror/comedy film.
There's no money involved and no creepy hidden agenda. You basically have to dress up kinda nicely and be seen in public going to a movie with me. There are worse ways to spend a Sunday evening.

This also received exactly one response, this time from a very nice lady who seemed to understand exactly what I was looking for and I'm sure we would have had a great time. However, I actually found someone else (via not Craigslist, and she's pretty terrific so I'm excited) before she replied, so it looks like I'm all set. So now I can go back to using Craigslist for its intended purpose: access to unregulated prostitution.

So here's a gratuitous plug for the event itself: There are tickets available now to attend for just ten bucks!
"When volunteers from the college begin to go missing, no one really notices. That's great news when you're looking for victims.
Dr. Billy Brackett, a brilliant brain surgeon from the University, will try anything to save his wife, Becca, from her coma... and he does. Professor Arthur Bixby soon finds out how far Billy is willing to go.
Billy's got a bad brain and he's not afraid to use it."
The whole thing was shot here in Tampa and the cast and crew is comprised entirely of local actors and mostly comedians so it should be a lot of fun!
Check out the IMDB page!

Monday, September 18, 2017

No blog post this week either too (with brief explanation)

I didn't post here last week and the reason for that is my access to resources was limited due to hurricane Irma.
That's also the case this week. As of this past Sunday morning, I was one of approximately 2000 people (1.4%) in the area who did not have power restored. So, once again, no blog post this week.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Mob deep

(NOTE: No, I'm not writing about the F%@king hurricane. My nerves are completely shot, so I wrote this instead. I wrote it yesterday and scheduled it to go up today so I can be "off the grid" until the storm passes or people stop making me insane with the way they're talking about it. Seriously, Facebook has worn my ass out.)

Remember a couple of weeks ago when everybody was very passionate about statues and their role in preserving history? Because without statues, there's just no way to remember history. That's why these monuments, erected 50 years after the war was over, just happened to be coincidentally placed strategically outside of courthouses and other government buildings and not some dumb old park. Not as a warning to black people who had the audacity to expect justice and fair treatment from these institutions, but because when it comes to sight-seeing, the courthouse is where everyone goes. These monuments were dedicated with elaborate ceremonies and moving speeches, like this one:
"The South stands ready to welcome all good citizens who seek to make their homes within her borders. But the South detests and despises all, it matters not from whence they came, who, in any manner, encourages social equality with an ignorant and inferior race." - Florida state attorney Herbert S. Phillips, 1911
I remember when I was in elementary school and we would take field trips down to the courthouse to look at the Civil War statue. We would get off the bus, look at the statue for a few minutes, acknowledge that the Civil War was an actual real thing that took place, get back on the bus and eventually attend Ivy League schools as history majors.
"That happened."

Looking at statues is not only the best way to remember history, it's really the only way.
Pictured: Worthless things
Without these statues, we might forget to not oppress minorities and treat others with kindness and respect. And since we're doing such a bang-up job with that now, we simply can't afford to lose the statues.
A lot of people attended rallies to protect the statues, because they're such fervent history buffs, dedicated to remembering not to forget that oppressing people is bad. A lot also attended because they enjoy group activities, such as gathering in mobs with torches and chanting slogans. While still others, simply love the art of statuary. And not all of them are probably racists.

Thanks, to John Jacobs and the rest of the Tampa News Force team.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Oh Louie

Louis CK is one of my favorite comedians of all time and has inspired me on a number of creative levels. There have been allegations regarding highly inappropriate behavior of a sexually aggressive nature on his part for a number of years. Last week, the heat was turned up when Tig Notaro was interviewed by The Daily Beast and said he needed to "handle" the situation:

“I think it’s important to take care of that, to handle that, because it’s serious to be assaulted. It’s serious to be harassed. It’s serious, it’s serious, it’s serious.” - Tig Notaro

As a schlubby middle-aged white guy (who also happens to be a comedian and a writer), it's disappointing because a lot of Louis CK's best material, from his stand-up to his TV shows, focuses on a schlubby middle-aged white guy's struggles to be a "good person". Not from a stupid "poor us, we schlubby middle-aged white guys are under attack!" standpoint, but more from a "times are changing, and we probably need to change too" view. And the very best of that material challenges us schlubby middle-aged white guys with difficult questions.

We, the schlubby middle-aged white guys of the world, especially here in America, have been allowed to ascend to positions of leadership and power, many times due to no real merit other than the fact that there are so many of us. Nobody has ever been in any gathering of people, looked around and said, "you know, there just aren't enough schlubby middle-aged white guys here." And they never will.

It's been that way for as long as anybody can remember but things are different now. Women and so-called minorities are hungry to seize a fair shot at opportunities for which they've been denied. "Traditional" gender identity roles and definitions of sexuality are things of the past. Words we used to say about people that were okay not that long ago are not okay anymore. In terms of how we measure the evolution of a society, these changes are all happening at an extremely rapid place. Those of us who aren't threatened by these changes and just want to co-exist and get along are still at something of a loss when trying to figure out how exactly to do that.

CK has taken some of these issues on, and while not presenting definitive answers on how to be what we need to be, he's at least brought things to our attention that we may not have thought of. This gives us the opportunity to adjust our perspective, to at least consider the fact that times are changing and that evolution, whatever that might entail, is probably the best way to co-exist, even if actual extinction isn't really a viable threat.

Here are some examples (some of the clips are kind of long but they're all worth watching as examples of a creature who is suddenly a stranger struggling to fit into suddenly strange lands after many, many years of being very comfortable):

Anyway, what's disappointing is that even if he's not a hero or a standard-bearer or a guru with all the answers, he's been a guy who hasn't been afraid through his art to make himself the subject of uncomfortable introspection for the sake of seeking a greater truth. And as such, I thought he was better than the picture these sordid allegations paint.

Granted, they ARE "just" allegations at this point. Innocent until proven guilty still prevails. Also, of course, nobody is perfect (and boy, does that feel like a painfully inadequate and icky thing to say in response to something like this). But this really sucks for us schlubby middle-aged white guys.

Oh well. I'm too old to look up to heroes. I never was very good at that anyway.
Exhibit A: My boyhood idol.

Besides, if I was really learning anything of substance from Louis CK, I'd be able to write a better ending to this.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Life in the post-eclipsealyptic wasteland

It's over. The great eclipse of 2017 is finished. A time when we all put aside whatever it was that was pissing us off to go outside and look at the sky together for a few minutes and say, "hey, that's pretty cool".

What remains now are questions.
What can we do to make sure this never happens again in seven years? Sure, we can (and probably will) blow up the moon, something that would probably have no immediately-known negative consequences.
Cool! Everyone lives at the beach!

But that doesn't answer the other question: what do we do now? Specifically, how do we unheal? How do we get back to a place where literally everything and everybody gets on our nerves? A place where you would never answer the question, "can I look through your glasses for a minute?" without hesitation, if not flat-out denial.
The good news is it's already begun. Within minutes of the event's conclusion, many people were already going about the business of rebuilding their lives and returning to normalcy, thanks in large part to President Trump...

  • "What an idiot! He deserves to go blind!"
  • "Out of context! Fake news!" (also, "This proves science doesn't know anything; you can do anything you want without oppressive so-called 'safety equipment'!")
The point isn't what side people would take, the point is people took sides! They weren't too damaged by what the eclipse hath wrought to argue over stupid shit. And if they can find their way back, then we can too. All we have to do is not work together, and we can make it happen again still!

A world where people wouldn't dream of taking a few minutes to enjoy an experience with other people who don't look and think exactly like them: it's not only possible, it's likely.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Indy film re-boot

Lots of classic movies are being re-booted all the time. They're either crass, unimaginative attempts to cash in easily because familiar story lines resonate immediately with fans, or they're made to bring these stories and characters into more modern and relevant settings. Or both. Regardless, one beloved franchise is due to be re-done in a more edgy, dark and gritty fashion is the Indiana Jones saga. And now is the perfect time to bring the roguish Nazi-battling archaeologist kicking and screaming into the current age (and played by Idris Elba). I can see it all now...

Indy is briefed on the situation by a couple of shadowy men from the government...
Major Eaton: Doctor Jones, we've heard a lot about you.
Indiana: Have you?
Major Eaton: Professor of Archeology, expert on modern race relations, and how does one say it... black guy.
Indiana: That's one way of saying it. Why don't you sit down, you'll be more comfortable.
Colonel Musgrove: Yes, you're a man of many talents. Now, Doctor Jones, you must understand that this is all completely confidential.
Indiana: I understand.
Major Eaton: You see, for the last eight months, the Nazis have had teams of archaeologists running around the world looking for all sorts of covfefe. Trump's a nut on the subject. He's crazy. He's obsessed with tacky shit. And right now, apparently, there is some kind of alt-right archaeological dig going on in Charlottesville.
Colonel Musgrove: Now, we have some information here, but we can't make anything out of it and maybe you can. "This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That's what we believed in. That's why we voted for Donald Trump. David Duke, US."
Indiana: The Nazis have discovered anus!
Major Eaton: Now just what does that mean to you... 'Anus'?
Indiana: Sorry, I meant asshole. David Duke is a racist asshole. He's the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and he tried to run for president in 1988 and 1992. He's resurfaced and is staking a a desperate attempt to reclaim relevance.
Colonel Musgrove: Seriously? President? Like, of the United States? Twice??
Indiana: Shit's been crazy since long before 2016, man.

Indiana needs his bullwhip to swing across a chasm...
Indiana: Give me the whip.
Satipo: Throw me the idol.
[they both see a stone door closing]
Satipo: No time to argue! Throw me idol, I'll throw you the whip!
Indiana: [throws the idol] Give me the whip!
Satipo: [drops the whip] I refuse to participate in the perpetuation of cruel and inhumane treatment of a marginalized culture by giving a black man the whip.
Indiana: No, no! I'm asking you to give it to me as a symbolic gesture. This would be me reclaiming power by acquiring an instrument traditionally associated with inflicting pain and suffering used against me and my culture.
Satipo: Oh. I can dig that. [picks up whip and throws it to Indiana]
[stone door slams shut]
Indiana: Well, shit.

Indy is walking the streets of Charlottesville with his girlfriend Marion and her pet monkey...
Indiana: Do we need the monkey?
Marion: I'm surprised at you. Talking that way about our baby. He's got your looks, too.
Indiana: ...
Marion: Oh god, I'm sorry! I wasn't thinking! I'm so sorry! I just meant...
Indiana: (sighs) Don't worry about it.

Indy encounters a UVA college student...
Student: I can only say I'm sorry so many times.
Indiana: Well, say it again anyway!
Student: Sorry.

Marion accidentally clicks on a link to ...
Indiana: Marion, don't look at it. Shut your eyes, Marion. Don't look at it, no matter what happens!

A mechanic discovers Indy attempting to sneak aboard a Nazi plane...
Mechanic: [to Indy, in German] Hey, thin man! Come here! Come here! Come here! Come on, fight! Boy, come down! Down now!
[Indy turns and the mechanic sees his face]
Mechanic: [to Indy, in English] Whoa! Hold on, bro. It's cool. I didn't realize... We're cool. We're cool.

Indy finds himself face-to-face with Trump...
Trump: You and I are very much alike. Racial division is our religion, yet we have both fallen from the pure faith. Our methods have not differed as much as you pretend. I am but a shadowy reflection of you. It would take only a nudge to make you like me. To push you out of the light.

Indiana: Fuck you! I have a white girlfriend!

This, plus lots of scenes featuring Indy punching various Nazis.
Yeah, I'd watch this.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Condole? Can do!

A friend recently lost someone (they died) and I have been seeing people express their sympathies on Facebook, where I've learned some things about how to and how not to do that, funky-fresh for the 2017s-style. Think this is a difficult position to be in? Think about yourself and how hard this is for you!

  • Don't LOL - If you know what 'LOL' stands for, you probably already know you shouldn't do it. If you don't know what it stands for, you still shouldn't do it.
  • Maximize the minimization - Your friend feels bad, because they're burdened by overwhelming grief and sadness. Of course you don't want that. You want your friend to feel good, and the way you do that is by minimizing their grief and sadness. Take it down a notch! Helpfully remind them of things that they may have forgotten, such as "death is part of life", "he/she is in a better place" and "God has a plan". Don't be harsh in pointing these things out; they might have just slipped their mind. 
  • Make sure everyone knows how you feel - You want to relate to your friend in this situation. Establish common ground by telling a story about how you knew someone else who died once and how sad you were and how that means you know exactly how your friend feels. Don't be afraid to dig deep (side note: try to avoid metaphors like 'dig deep' when possible) to find common ground (side note: maybe avoid mentioning 'ground', while you're at it). If their mom died and yours is still alive, tell them that you knew somebody once who had a mom but that was a long time ago and she's probably dead by now (you've lost touch over the years) and even if she might not be dead, just the idea that it is likely true has affected you profoundly, because that's how deeply you feel things.
  • Don't waste an opportunity - When you post on a social media platform like Facebook, you have to think of it as posting to the entire world, because that's how pervasive the reach is. With that in mind, it would be downright silly to not let folks know what side projects you have going on, even as your friend deals with the aftermath of a loved one's absence from their life: "I'll miss (person who died) and I'm very sorry (he/she) didn't live long enough to read the new book I'm writing that will be available on Amazon as well as several local, independent book stores in the Tampa Bay area. I know (person who died) would have wanted it that way, and by 'it' I mean global distribution via the world's leading on-line retailer while also supporting local 'niche' merchants."
  • Go big - Try not to be the first one to express your condolences because there's a lot of pressure that comes from setting the bar and you don't need that in a time like this. Wait until a few people weigh and then be better than them. If someone says "You have my sympathies", say "You have my deepest sympathies". If they say, "I know this is a difficult time", say "I know this is an extremely difficult time". Adjectives will be tremendously helpful but be judicious; avoid extreme modifiers unless circumstances warrant. Somebody's 91-year-old grandfather passing away peacefully in his sleep might qualify as "tragic" but probably not "horrific".
  • Be inclusive - Kind of along the same lines as the previous bullet point: If someone says "I'm holding you in my heart", say "I'm holding you and your family in my heart". This is a great way to earn points with cousins and other outliers. If someone says "You are in my thoughts", say "You are in my thoughts and prayers". A great philosopher (I don't recall the name) once posed the fundamental question, "Conjunction Junction, what's your function?" Think about it.
  • Spelling matters - It doesn't matter how casually you normally regard spelling and grammar; a situation like this requires that you buckle down and do it the right way for a change. Don't say "I'm sorry for your lost" because that doesn't make sense and it doesn't matter how sincere your condolences are, nobody wants to hear from a dumbass when they're trying to deal with a lost. 
  • Don't say "I'm sorry" - It's trite. Plus, why would you apologize? It's not your fault. Unless it is, in which case it's probably best that you not say anything at all. Until you talk to a lawyer, at least.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Writer: blocked

I had to buy some stool softener the other day.
Assuming I didn't just lose everybody under what I completely understand could be construed as an imminent threat of incoming TMI, let me offer assurances that this will not be a crude, graphic post about poop.

Listen, I'm getting older and certain bodily functions need a boost sometimes. It's nature, that's all. But like so many things in life, natural or otherwise, necessary or not, it's an avenue that is fraught with peril.

For starters, once I was presented with the obvious evidence that led to an immediate, successful and unfortunate self-diagnoses, I had to do research. What is the difference between a laxative and a stool softener and which one would best suit my needs?

Again, I don't need to give you graphic details but it was immediately apparent from what I read on-line that the stool softener presented the best plan of action.

Off to the drug store I went, where I was confronted with more questions.
How soon would it start to work? What if I took too much at the wrong time of day. I had visions of Turbo-laxing myself, producing results too immediately. A sudden gurgling from down below telling me I shouldn't have taken a fast-acting remedy before getting in my car. The key question being, where do you want to be when your stool softener starts to work?  Or, more accurately, where do you NOT want to be?
This requires using math and a clock to back into an optimal time to take the medicine. The instructions said to expect results in eight to twelve hours. That four hour margin makes a big difference. I decided to take it when I got home from work, expecting it to kick in during the middle of the night rather than chance that happening while I was at work. And also hoping that I wouldn't be experiencing an especially sound sleep that night.

Second, and only slightly less important, you don't want to go up to the register with just that. I decided to enlist the strategy I used when I was a teenager, trying to buy porn at a convenience store...
"Yes, let's see, I'll have this bag of potato chips, these two bottles of root beer, and if you could get me a comb, this month's issue of Juggs magazine, some baby aspirin and a pine-scented air freshener for my car, I'll be all set, thanks."
"Huh? Juggs magazine? No, clearly I said Jet magazine. Yes, that makes much more sense, since I'm a white 16-year-old male. Ha ha! Okay, can I leave now?"

It didn't work then, I didn't expect it to work now. Still, I didn't want to walk up to the cashier with my bottle of poop plunger (I'm so sorry) and nothing else, like there's nothing else going on in my life at the moment, even though that's an accurate assessment. Because when you want to go and you can't, well, everything else kind of takes a back seat (again, I am so very sorry).

I'm fine now; the product worked as advertised and without embarrassing incident which is a huge relief on a number of levels. Now I just have to live with the internal stigma that comes from the fact that I'm a person who has used stool softener.

Friday, July 28, 2017

This, yet again, one more time (until next year etc.)

Isn't voting so much fun that you wish you could do it more often than every three or four years or whatever it is?
It is, you do and YOU CAN!

Creative Loafing's annual "Best Of The Bay" polls are now open..."It's time to vote for the tastiest restaurants, the baddest local bands, the politicians who inspire and infuriate you — even for your favorite acupuncturist. Now in its 27th year, Creative Loafing’s Best Of The Bay has long been a local institution, but it’s one that always depends on you. You suggested the categories, you submitted the nominations, and now you’ll decide who wins. Your voice, your choice."
Once again, this blog (actually, me as the blogger of the blog) is nominated. It has never won. A blog now in its 12th year has never won a BOTB. Not that longevity merits a "Best of" award, but I'm going to pretend that it does so I'm asking that if you vote (and of course, you don't have to), please vote for it (me) as "Best Local Blogger". It's located under the "People, Places, Politics" tab.

While you're at it, please consider slinging votes (follow the rules and DON'T CHEAT!) at a couple of other things in which I have vested interests:

  • "The Spike On The Mic Show" - nominated as both "Best Local Podcast" and "Best Local Internet Radio Show".
  • Vivienne Brown - nominated as "Best Local Actress" (under the "Arts and Entertainment" tab) Because she was just great as The Amazing Desdemona.
  • Me - nominated as "Best Local Stand-Up Comic" (also under "Arts and Entertainment"tab). I won't mind if you don't do this one because I already won it two years ago. SERIOUSLY!  I'm only mentioning it because, well, I am nominated and if I won it again, that would be kind of cool. But I don't need to win it like the blog (me) needs to win, so by all means, go ahead and vote for someone who is not me. There are lots of very good, award deserving comics nominated. Besides, as I have been told, it's just a meaningless token from an irrelevant popularity contest (until you get one, when it suddenly becomes a relevant achievement and you slap a mention of it on every piece of promotional material that bears your name after inciting your followers to send death threats to a previous winner). Oh well. As FDR once said, "Haters gonna hate, voters gonna vote".

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

(Last) Christmas in (this) July!

Jeff Vinik, the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team for whom I work, gets a lot of attention for his philanthropic efforts in the Tampa Bay community. One of the things he does that doesn't get any attention (because it's a low-key, in-house staff initiative) is he authorizes an amount of cash to be made available to each Lightning employee, who is then allowed to go out and spend that cash on some charitable endeavor of their choosing. Theoretically, you could take that cash and just drop the whole lump sum in the first donation kettle you come across. Or you can choose to do something more elaborate. Whatever you want. The organization doesn't scrutinize you, trusting each individual to honor the spirit of the endeavor.

I tend to skew toward the elaborate because that's much more fun.

So for the third year in a row, I enlisted the help of shopping expert Lynne Austin and we invaded a dollar store in search of items to help The Volunteer Way, a non-profit agency that helps people in need in Port Richey. brought along our mutual friend Kelly to document the proceedings (she also edited the finished product, which she just finished yesterday and is why this is just coming out now).

And here's how that went down...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Billy's Brain is almost Bad enough

We're getting close to living in a world where everyone can watch Tony Gaud's film, "Billy's Got a Bad Brain"! In 86 days (on October 15) the film will premiere at a gala event to be held at the Tampa Improv. In 100 days, on Halloween (October 31), it'll be available to stream everywhere.
It's a horror-comedy, shot entirely here in the Tampa Bay area with a cast and crew comprised of all local actors, most of whom are stand-up comedians.
Here's the link to our IMDB page with a full list of cast and crew.
And here's the link to purchase tickets ($10) for the premiere event at the Improv.
And here's the link to the special episode of The Spike On The Mic Show where we interviewed many of the people involved in making the film.
More to come as we get closer to the big date(s)!!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I don't get men

Right up front, please let me state for the record that this is not a shallow, gratuitous attempt to ingratiate myself with women. Because I don't need to do that. I get along just fine with women, I always have. I've always had far more female friends than males and I've always preferred their company doing whatever to hanging out with a bunch of dudes watching sports or porn or sporn (that's sports porn, which may not be something that currently exists, but if it ever does, I named it and you saw it here first).

Men confuse me, with their words and actions not exactly meshing with what they claim to stand for and represent. I realize this is a broad generalization and that I should probably mention at this point that I'm mostly talking about the tough guy types. The ones who happily embrace all the dumb "No son of mine is going to play with dolls!"® brand of stereotypes of what REAL MEN (bold, italics and increased font size applied for the sake of referencing implied penis size or something) are. The kind of guys concerned with these kinds of things:

First, I'm confused that REAL MEN care about stuff like that because four of those things are dealing with either comic books, science fiction or art, all of which falls under the jurisdiction of nerds, not REAL MEN
Second, why would REAL MEN be threatened by these things, when the virtue with which they most want to be associated is a stoic strength that comes from self-assured confidence? I mean, if I had an ingredients label stamped somewhere on my body, you wouldn't find any of the last eight words of that previous sentence anywhere on it, and I don't even care enough to actually read the whole articles found at the links, let alone be bothered by what those articles are about.

These guys won't be seen crying during a sad movie, but they'll whine like infants outside of a theater showing a single "women only" screening of 'Wonder Woman'? I just don't get it. 

And before anybody feels the need to explain, let me state for the record that I also don't care about that either. So don't waste your time.

Hey, do what you feel you need to do with your "guys nights out" in your "man-caves" or whatever. I'll be with the girls at the mall. We're going to go shopping, have lunch and maybe catch the matinee of 'Wonder Woman'.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The John Jacobs Cinematic Universe

John Jacobs is a comic who lives here in Tampa and he, along with Josh Santos, another local comic, makes funny videos. Recently, I've had the privilege of being in some of them (see below) and hope to be in more soon. You can watch all of them here and you should. Because they're hilarious. It's like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, except with unusual characters doing strange things. Pawn shops, roadkill, shark books, gay dogs, treasures found buried way deep under the Tuscans. You won't find Thor or Iron Man dealing with any of that stuff.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Is it in the stars?

Remember when I was in that stand-up comedy tournament at Side Splitters last year, as one of 64 participants and I made it all the way down to the Elite Eight? Remember? I sure do! Gosh, that was a lot of fun!

Well, I'm doing it again. My first match-up in this year's big blowout is Sunday, July 16th at 7:00 PM. You can get tickets for less than $5 by purchasing them online and using my initials "CB" as the promo code when you check out. Local legend JB Ball will be headlining that night.

I did pretty well last time and that felt good, but I'm not so sure what my prospects are this time around. So I decided to visit a psychic and see if I could get an idea of what my chances might be...

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Another failed attempt to save us from each other

That's right, it's the return of the podcast that truly lives up its name (last published: August 8, 2016)!

Back to once and for all to make a concerted effort on behalf of white people to get to the bottom of our racial issues in America. In under two minutes!


Thanks as always to PW Fenton for his invaluable assistance.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Let me out!

A friend of mine is getting a group together to do one of these escape rooms that are very popular right now, because she enjoys group activities. And because I like dreading things and complaining about them before I even have a valid reason to do so, I'm already stressed out.
The very definition of what it is implies that it's supposed to be stressful:
"An escape room is a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles using clues, hints and strategy to complete the objectives at hand. Players are given a set time limit to unveil the secret plot which is hidden within the rooms." - via Wikipedia
The waiver she sent over (There's a waiver??) backs this up:
"I certify that I understand this activity has potential risks including but not limited to:
  • Mental stress and anxiety from simulated game events
  • Mental stress and anxiety that may be triggered from my teammates actions and behaviors
  • The possible failure to escape in the allotted time"

Insert exasperated groan here. I just don't know that this a good team activity for me, in large part because it's a team activity.
It does give me an idea though...


"A relax room is a non-physical, non-adventure game in which players sit on a couch and read books, maybe watch TV or just sack out." - Me.
Are there riddles to solve?

Will someone be there to help us figure out clues if we get stuck?
There are no riddles so there are no clues.

How much time do we have?
Take as much time as you need, man.

What if I don't like what's on the TV?
The remote is on the coffee table.

What if I start to freak out and have to be let out?
The door is right there, just past the TV.

Is there some kind of puzzle or trick to open the door?
Dude. No.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Twelve years!

As of this past Sunday, June 18, this blog has been around for 12 years. That's almost as old as some children! Specifically, 12-year-old children.
Not much has changed since the beginning, but I don't write left-handed anymore. And who are those two other guys?

Look at all the things that were cool in 2006 but aren't anymore (unlike this blog)

The traditional anniversary gifts for 12 years, representing luxury and comfort. I'm gonna get some of those and take a nice long nap. I deserve it!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Guest blogger: Kelly Hickman!

You've probably heard the axiom "never read the comments" and you probably already know why that's a good idea. Just in case you don't, or you just want some validation, my friend Kelly Hickman took it upon herself to document some of the real-time comments that showed up on Facebook last night as news of the fire in London was breaking. The names have not been changed, nor have the egregious spelling and syntax errors, to protect those of us who aren't as stupid as this collection of morons. 
Please enjoy your sure-to-be cringe-inducing experience. - Clark

Good evening ladies and gents! It's time for a new show called "Obnoxious Live Video Comments" curated by your host, the lovely and very sleep-deprived Kelz Hickman
On tonight's show we will be reviewing Facebook comments during the live video of the fire in London.
As always, we want to be clear that we are in no way making light of this very devastating situation. We are, however, making fun of the stupid mother fuckers who comment on live videos. Is my audience with me?
Ok great. Let's introduce our contestants...
First to respond is Jessica.. Everyone say hi to Jessica!
*audience says hi to Jessica*
Jessica was too lazy to read the one sentence description of the fire, so here is her comment...
Nest up, we have our predictable group of folks who know their terrorism!
And of course there's our moderates who don't believe that *everything* is a terrorist attack. I mean, c'mon guys.

We introduced those guys first because we know that they will be there and what they will say. Yes, boring and at the same time comforting? Let's continue...

We also have the wino...

...the honesty keeper.

Captain Obvious...

The nursery rhymer...

The veteran...

The Fox News Watcher... (PS We can guarantee you, Lisa, that it did not start on the second floor)

The "News-is-so-Unfair" guy...

The philosopher...

Ricky Ricardo...

The pragmatist...

The Emoji Police...

The OCD...

The poet...

The stroke victim...

The exhausted...

The movie buff...

The conspiracy theorist...

The NRA...

The smart ass...

The one who doesn't know how to use a clock or a calendar...

The bat-shit crazies...

The chemist...

And last but not least, those who are sending out prayers. From literally every corner of the universe...
Hugs and kisses, burning London!
And that concludes tonight's show. We hope you enjoyed it and we'll be back soon with more live video comments! Stay tuned!

Thanks, Kelly! - Clark