Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Weather Outside is Frightful

It was co-ooold this week. I realize that to yankees reading this, the twenties are reason to wear sandals and wifebeaters, but for Florida, it's cold. Cold enough that I ran around like an asshole covering up plants that will end up dying through my neglect anyway and wondering if I should run the faucets like the news tells me to do.

Since my house was built in the '20s, it offers little in the way of insulation. I probably would have been warmer outside, especially since my heat decided to die over the weekend. I'm too cheap and frightened to buy a space heater, mostly because I feel I've already cheated death with one earlier and I don't want to push my luck.

Back in the mid '90s my roommate Todd and I had a pretty awesome house. I had what was originally the living room as my bedroom, and he had an actual bedroom. It didn't have heat or AC, but I don't remember it getting too hot, mostly because my mattress was in the corner between two windows and there was always a nice breeze coming through. Winter was different, however. The same windows that made summer so pleasant let in a never ending stream of arctic air thorough my sleeping body. So I came up with a solution.

We found a couple of ancient space heaters up in the attic and each took one. These things were almost rusted through with layers of electrical tape wrapped around the cords. They would constantly trip the breakers, requiring us to walk out in the cold to fix it.

Since the heaters didn't have much range, I came up with an ingenious solution. I placed it on a board on top of a milkcrate, aimed the thing at my feet (which were about a foot away, covered in every blanket I owned, all both of them), then went to sleep. To this day, I'm not sure how I managed to not burn the house down with this invention.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Greetings!

The streets were pretty dead today after lunch, I guess most people figured out how to start their Christmas vacation early. But there is a woman walking a few steps ahead of me, and a smattering of bums here and there to add Dickensan Christmas spirit.

"Merry Christmas," shouts out a bum on the corner, presumably to the woman in front of me.

The woman keeps walking.

"That's kind of shitty," I think. "She could have at least given him the head nod or something."

Now the bum's looking at me. "I guess I ought to say something," I think. "He's making eye contact. I guess that failed Merry Christmas also covered me? Alright, here goes..."


Guess that Merry Chrstmas didn't cover me after all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Reason for the Season

This graphic design association, AIGA, sponsored a toy design and remake ...event for Christmas. Basically you could make a toy or redesign one and put it up for sale. One of my coworkers decided to enter. Instead of making a toy, he decided to remake one. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you "And That's What Christmas is all About, Charlie Brown:"

Here's a view from the top:

You could say it's a meditation on childhood innocence and the evil lurking slightly below the surface or an ironic take on the Norwegian Black Metal church burnings. Or you could just say it was a funny way to mess with Charlie Brown.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Boredom, Boredom

Kids today never have to be bored. What a strange feeling. From what I remember, boredom was an essential part of growing up and taught so much. It taught you to look around you for something to do, to make up lies or invent things to annoy siblings or parents to pass the time. Sort of what I do here, only utlizing the internet. Boredom also taught you how to shut down, to be in a space physically while taking a little nap mentally. This tactic would save my life many times, from soul-deadening jobs to death treks through bead stores.

As a kid I couldn't imagine being able to watch a movie in the back seat of the car while on vacation. Or being able to play a videogame while trudging through the grocery store. Smarter people would insert a sentence here about how these kids are using someone else's imagination and ideas instead developing their own, but I mentally checked out of that last paragraph like two sentences ago.

My parents were like the Wonder Twins of boredom. On their own they frequented some pretty dull places, but together they could form an unstoppable force - the antique store. The thing that killed me about antique stores is there was always a chance of seeing something cool there - swords or old stuffed bear heads or Nazi helmets or ancient artifacts looted from cursed tombs - but it always ended up being me walking through rickety hallways full of glassware and furniture.

Still, antique stores at least gave the illuson of adventure. This was not the case in fabric stores. I have no idea why a big chunk of my childhood seemed to be spent in these horrible places. I don't remember my mom making her own clothes or anything, but man, were they terrible. About the only way to amuse yourself was to look through the big books of Halloween costumes.

"Hmmm...that kid's a tiger. That looks cool."

"That girl looks pretty happy running around dressed like a witch. I think we've actually passed like 3 Halloweens since we got in here."

Since growing up and having to spend more time in fabric stores (I got married) I've noticed something. They always put them in strip malls far, far away from anything remotely cool. There's no saying, "OK Honey, I'll drop you off. Come get me at the fireworks and puppy store next door when you're ready." Nope, they're always next to a discounted bread warehouse or a Food Lion or something.

Sometimes when my Mom got tired of making me walk through fabric stores, it would be my dad's turn. My dad's tactic was a little better, only because his stop had the promise of adventure. Have you ever had to go to a car show as a kid?

"Oh boy! Car show! That sounds awesome! How many cars can we race?"

"You can't drive them. In fact, you can't even touch them. Don't even breathe on them."

"Well, is there anything cool there, like the Batmobile? A car that shoots missles?"

"Nope. There's gonna be nothing like that at all."

Then I'd end up walking around a field for hours, watching the car guys (always guys with white mustaches and baseball caps) glare at me for even thinking of doing anything fun with their cars.

I'd like to say that being bored taught me something, that I gained a rich inner fantasy life, but most of that inner fantasy life I stole from TV. It did teach me the shutdown technique, which has been handy for decades, but if I could go back in time, I would pack a smartphone or portable DVD player in a second. I mean, amusing yourself looking at Halloween costumes kind of loses its charm after hour 3 in the fabric store.

Monday, November 29, 2010

You Will Be Visited

Last month, Jacksonville Magazine recognized my talents and sent me and the girlfriend to an east coast beach town to report about how there was no oil on the beaches and how you should spend your vacation there. OK, she actually works at the magazine and got me the gig, but still.

See, no oil

Basically, the city's chamber of commerce put us and a couple other writers up at a swank condo, fed us about a thousand meals over the weekend and even got us VIP tickets to a wine festival featuring REO Speedwagon. In return, we would write articles in our respective magazines talking the place up.

We totally witnessed a murder in that room across the way.

The New York writers were mystified by our Southern traditions, like grits and hush puppies and were amazed that we had actually heard of cannoli. They were also much tanner than the Floridians. Weird.

So that was the fun part. The crappy part, of course, was actually sitting down and writing a story.

I had never written a travel piece (although I totally want to do more. Sign me up!), so I was a bit apprehensive. Plus, every time I tried to start, I was interrupted by some rather annoying ghosts.

The Ghost of 23 Year Old Me: "So you're really gonna stick it to those PR hacks, right? Expose them to the world?"

Adult Me: "What? No. Everyone was great. I mean, they've got to get the word out, you know? And it's not like I'm lying. It was a lot of fun.Great city. I know you're constantly broke, but you should have planned a trip there at least once."

23: "Sounds like selling out to me."

The Ghost of 17 Year Old Me: "And REO Speedwagon? Did you throw a rock at them or something? Yell at them for being lame and old?"

Me: "No. I - What? Why the hell would I want to do that? I'm not a fan or anything, but they're out there working hard, putting on a show, making people happy, you know?"

REO, making people happy.

17: "23 is right. You sold out, man."

Me: "I know you won't understand this, but I've been trying to sell out for years, just nobody wants to buy in. And besides, things change once you get older."

17: "Jesus, you sound like Dad. So what do you do when you're not watching lame old REO Speedwagon?"

Me: "I dunno, stuff. Work in the yard, I guess. Ride my bike. Go to the gym."

17: "Man, this is just depressing. Do you still skate?"

Me: "No. Remember, we weren't really that good to begin with. But you will start to enjoy all sorts of things you hated, or at least pretend you hate right now. Like country and classic rock, gardening, and football."

17: "Alright, I'm outta here." POOF!

23: "OK, now that the kid's gone, you can tell me. How does it feel to completely abandon all your journalistic principles?"

Me: "Now I remember why I never liked either one of you."

I was able to finish the article even with the interruptions(page 28 of December's issue! On newsstands now!), but about a week after I turned it in I happened to read a travel article in GQ. With my now-experienced eye, I could see what went into the article - Oh, that one motel he mentions must be the one he got put up in. Those 3 restaurants must be the ones they drove him to. Now I know how the sausages are made.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Freedom Fries

Nothing tastes better than free food. Back when I lived in Gainesville, a large number of my friends were employed in the food service industries. This meant that there was always a pretty good chance of walking somewhere and getting a meal on the house.

At one point my roommate, who I probably shouldn't name, as he is now a husband, father and pillar of the community, worked at Burger King. We worked out an pointlessly complicated series of codes for when he worked the drive-thru. I'd be sitting on my bed playing Donkey Kong Country and the phone would ring.

"The rooster crows."*

That was my cue to start the car, drive up and take two or three overflowing bags of food. Even if I wasn't hungry, I took pride in being a good roommate and took the bags anyway. This was the time Burger King was introducing the Western Whopper (basically just a Whopper with Bar-B-Q sauce on it) and we ate those things constantly. He'd also hide garbage bags full of frozen hamburger patties and buns in the trash that I'd pick up later and save for our gin and tonic winter cookouts. Now that I think about it, those cookouts were fueled by burning a bunch of pallets that would always mysteriously show up by the dumpster. Between that and the Burger King patties, there's no telling how many carcinogenics are battling it out in our bodies right now.

But as sweet as that free food was, there were the more elaborate food scams. These involved calling up a restaurant and speaking to the manager with a claim of mild food poisoning. The key to this, as with all lies, is believing your own fiction. While my roommate was amazing at this, he will gladly admit he learned from a true master.

This master, who again, I probably shouldn't name, would get so involved in his lie that he would start believing it himself and get frustrated that these managers wouldn't help him. One night in Atlanta he spoke to two or three Hooters managers in an attempt to get 50 free wings. At one point he put his hand over the phone and said to us, "They want to offer me 25, but we got sick off 50 wings. How do we know which ones we got sick off of?"

The managers caved and we got 50 wings. A lot of times we could tell they didn't believe us, but we got free food, so who cared, right?

We would always tip big, because it wasn't the servers fault we got sick (see, I'm believing it again just thinking about it), and were super polite to everyone we encountered. I guess that sort of made up for the whole "Thou Shall Not Steal" thing.

Now that I'm a grown up and have more money than I know what to do with, thanks to the lucrative field of library science, I look back at our scams with some shame, but still a bit impressed that we were able to pull them off. With today's technology food scams are harder to pull off, but under the current economic picture, every once in a while I think of how I should really sharpen my skills at manager calling, just in case.

*It might have possibly been "The eagle has landed." Something to do with a bird.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Overheard in the Park by Work

One of Our Regulars: "Listen up, listen up, listen up. I hate working. Everytime I get a job I quite it as soon as I can."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Music for Pleasure

I was relaxing in my house Sunday when my thoughts were interrupted by crappy music. My ancient house has no insulation, so noise and the elements are free to seep through the walls and windows.

For about 20 minutes I got to hear a lot of music that the kids love. You know, robot voices, some rapping in there, usually some guy explaining to his intended that he really loves her.

I was wondering if I should go over to the white trash neighbors and say something, but by the time I got up it stopped.

I got to the car and said hi to my neighbor to the left. As I started the car, I wondered, "Did she think I was playing that crap? I mean, she's gotta know I'm a rocker, right? She has to know that I don't listen to music for 14 year old girls, right?"

This bothered me the rest of the day, whether or not my elderly neighbor knew I loved the rock and roll.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Just Observin' at Work

"You look tired."

"No...not tired...just useless."

Later that afternoon I watched a kid execute a series of roundhouse kicks over his baby sibling's head for about five minutes while his mom made a very important text.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just Another Day at Work

First customer of the morning, to another librarian:

"I represent the black people, OK? My people? And the white people are always following me. I work for Farah and Farah, OK? I AM an attorney. You better contact your attorney and let them know they are going to be sued. Seriously. I work with the police in the park. I represent the homeless. Seriously. I graduated college at age 4."

"Oh yeah," asked the librarian. "What college?"

"It doesn't matter." Seriously, I come in to change clothes. I am an attorney. And you have people taking pictures. Smile, say cheese, click. You're sued! My daddy lives in Atlanta, Georgia. That's right, Atlanta. Seriously. And he's homeless by choice. I work for Farah and Farah and you will be sued. Call 1-800 fuck you."

I gotta win the lottery soon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I'm on a Highway to Hell

I'm on the desk watching a girl walk across the lobby.

"Look at that fucking hipster," I think. "Wearing big stupid 1985 mom sunglasses indoors, a pair of cowboy boots, some stupid mismatched sweater over an ugly skirt. Why do they do that to themselves? Why do hipsters and indie rockers go to such great lengths to make themselves ugly and childlike? Who the hell wants to be a kid? I didn't want to be a kid when I was a kid! I wanted to grow up so I could eat cake for breakfast and say bad words and drive cars and get into rated R movies. Screw that childhood innocence jazz."

"God, she's coming this way and...hey, wait a minute. She's walking sort of funny. You don't think she's... Oh shit. I've spent the last thirty seconds hating on a poor retarded woman. I am totally going to hell for that one."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How About a Little Fire, Scarecrow?

Ever had a movie scare you even before you've seen it? In the middle school circles I ran in, the movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow was a topic of much discussion, so much so that I knew just about everything about the plot years before I saw it. In this made for TV movie, a group of angry redneck townspeople, led by a sinister mailman blame Bubba, a kindly mentally challenged guy for hurting a little girl and go to his house to deliver some vigilante justice. Bubba's mom tells him to play "the hiding game," so he hides in a scarecrow. The gang finds him and shoots him, then they are picked off one by one by an unseen force after seeing a creepy scarecrow.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow
was recently reissued on DVD, so I decided to face my fears. Hell, I did it with SSSSSSS, so why not give this one a shot.

Holy crap, I can't believe this was on regular old TV, for little kids and old ladies and whatnot to just stumble upon. Everything about it works, lots of atmosphere, actual characterization, and you're constantly wondering who is really knocking off the gang. That little girl who keeps singing all creepily? Bubba's mother? Is it one of the gang trying to ensure their secret stays secret? Or is it Bubba the scarecrow back from the dead? And hey, are they implying that the mailman is a pedophile? Could you do that on TV back then?

The weird part is, even though I never saw the movie, the shot of Bubba's frightened eyes seen through the holes in the scarecrow's face before getting shot has been burned in my brain somehow. I guess all that playground talk soaked in.

The last five minutes or so are some pretty creepy stuff, even if one of the victims is being menaced by a tractor and never, you know, just steps out of the way. Even discounting that, the final shots made me recheck that all the doors were locked, even though I have done nothing to anger any mentally challenged scarecrows that I can recall.

It helps that scarecrows, like mummies, are inherently creepy, even though they're not the most mobile creatures, and most people won't have the opportunity to stumble across a real one. Zombies and vampires have had their time in the spotlight, evil scarecrows will be the next big thing. Trust me on this one.

So yeah, use the Netflix and get this one in time for Halloween. Now if I could only get my hands on a copy of The Legend of Lizzie Borden, my childhood terror re-viewing would be complete.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lies My Parents Told Me

I think my parents were pretty honest with me. Like all parents they lied about lots of stuff; Santa Claus, secret trips to the doctor's office, and anything involving 'building character,' but they always seemed to come clean when asked. So I'm inclined to believe them more often than not.

Every few years they will tell me about how the bassinet (sort of like a crib, but...different somehow) that my sister and I used growing up and subsequently passed around the family was owned previously by country superstars George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Apparently the Jones family lived in Lakeland for a while, where my sister and I were born and somehow the bassinet made its way to my parents.

Like I said, I'm inclined to believe them, and it doesn't really seem like something they'd make up, but a couple things don't seem to add up. First of all, how the hell did the bassinet get to my parents? I'd like to imagine George Jones loaded out of his mind running across my dad in a parking lot or something and saying, "Hell, I gotta bastardette you can have, hold on a second." Or maybe my dad won it from him playing poker. I'd like to think Jones and my dad compared sideburns afterwards.

On a side note, George Jones getting a DUI on a riding mower on his way to get a drink is funny and somewhat charming in an old school Otis the Drunk manner. When my neighbors get drunk, I just get to hear a lot of cussing and Kid Rock. As a society, we really need to bring back the comical drunk. C'mon people, put some style in that drinking!

I can pull off a mean "She Thinks I Still Care" in the shower, and there was that time my sister found a hidden stash of cocaine and whiskey in the bassinet, so there just might be something to the story.

George Jones is playing here next month. It's fifty bucks, which means I won't go. I'm thinking of seeing if I can locate that bassinet and emailing his management. Reuniting him with his long-lost baby...bed or whatever the hell a bassinet is would surely warrant free tickets, right? He would be overcome with emotion, remembering the times he and Tammy rocked their kid together and have to get me front row tickets.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Friends are Thirteen Years Old

My good friend Patrick was in town last weekend. I had to work. Whenever we meet up with each other, we exchange gifts as a sign of respect, much like the wise Native Americans of ancient times. Or maybe it was the Dutch.

Anyway, since most of the crap we like is juvenile, stupid or of interest to only a handful of nerds in the world, it just makes sense to give it away, rather than trying to sell it on ebay and trying to reclaim about a tenth of what we paid for our treasures.

By the way, I just bought a ton of '70s Italian Star Wars ripoff DVDs. Will these eventually end up as Christmas gifts? Only if my friends are very lucky.

I hid my meager bag of stuff for Pat, hoping my white trash neighbors wouldn't steal it or use it as a training tool for their 30 pit bulls. When I got home from work I had a huge box of treats waiting for my by the front door. A ton of really nice Ben Sherman shirts, some old band T-shirts (scored a sweet Mod target shirt, Black Flag bars, Birthday Party, Smiths, Devo, all sorts of stuff it seemed like I should have had at one point), and a smattering of DVDs and CDs. Yeah, that box was pretty packed with awesome. What's that? The box itself? Uh, well, here's a photo of the box that was on my doorstep for the mailman and God and everyone to see:

The other sides give operating instructions ("in the butt") and celebrity testimonials. I'm sure my neighbors had a good laugh over this when they were up on my porch looking for stuff to steal.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An Actual Question I Got Today at the Reference Desk

So, uh...there was this had a girl in it...she had, like, a nose. I think it was a comedy...or a drama. Do you have that?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm walking through the jungle gathering mangoes. I meet Raquel Welch. I make a nice mango cream pudding.

I absolutely hated doing yard work growing up. There were some things I didn't mind, watching the grass yield to the power of my mower, that was pretty cool. But pulling weeds or raking the yard was like being sent to the gulag to a 13 year old me.

But the absolute worst job was gathering mangoes. We had a huge old mango tree and my sister and I would have to gather the rotten mangoes off the ground and put them in a trash bag. We might have had to separate the good mangoes and put them aside or something, I have completely blocked that out of my memory.

We would put this job off as long as we could. It didn't help that we never knew when it was going to be forced upon us. My parents didn't seem to have any sort of schedule for chores, it was more like my dad would decide, "hey, this is the exact minute the kids need to clean the yard of nasty, rotting mangoes. Let's get them on it right now."

Standing out in the sun, praying for rain or the sun to set, picking up brown, squishy gnat-infested mangoes was like working on a chain gang. And that smell - that sweet, rotting smell - that stuff smelled like death. The worst were the mangoes with bites out of them. That meant that the huge river rats had been feasting the night before, and were probably hanging out in the darker parts of the yard waiting to bite us and fill us full of the rabies.

It also didn't help that we could see our dad sitting in his chair watching football while were slaving away. He didn't have anyone telling him to work, we bitched to each other. And none of our friends had to do yard work. I remember my neighbor telling me, "My parents hire people to do that stuff. That's what you're supposed to do in the '80s." My parents did not subscribe to that theory.

Picking up mangoes could take us all day, mostly because we would have to gingerly pick up the smallest portion of mango possible with our thumb and forefinger and throw it into the bag before the rats came charging at us, and also because we didn't understand that it would have been a lot quicker to, you know, actually do the job instead of standing out in the yard complaining about it.

I suppose that stuff was supposed to build character. I don't know if it worked or not. Now that I am old, I am obsessed by yard work. I can easily spend all day pulling weeds or raking or mowing. And I have my dad's "I just got this idea! It has to be implemented right now" trait. But you know what I will never do? Touch a damn mango. Neither will my sister. Just seeing the nasty things bring back memories of brown, rotten, rat-bitten fruit baking in the Florida sun. Do you know how many times I've been in a nice restaurant and heard a waiter describe a piece of fish that sounds awesome until he utters that terrible phrase, "covered in a mango salsa?" Too many to count, my friend, too many to count.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Body Blow, Body Blow

When watching boxing or a Muhammad Ali documentary almost every guy will think, "You know, I could do that." You realize you couldn't land a punch or anything, but you could probably last a round or two. Hell, who hasn't been punched before? And they use gloves in boxing, right? That ring's pretty big, with some fancy footwork you should be able to run out the clock for a while, take a punch or two, collect your huge paycheck and go home.

I'm a doughy, out of shape 40 year old, and I still secretly think I could box professionaly. I don't have these delusions about other sports. I know I could never complete a pass in the NFL. I would have no chance of making a layup in the NBA. Hell, I probably couldn't even sink a free throw, what with everyone shouting and waving crap at me.

But boxing? I could totally do that. Worst case scenario, I get knocked out within seconds, and I have a story for the rest of my life. I could be watching Mike Tyson in The Hangover on my wall-sized TV and legitimately say, "I fought that guy once."


"That's what they tell me. How else do you think I could afford this gold-plated house?"

I'd like to think that when my opponent and I tapped our gloves in the beginning, I'd do that "fake hand shake to the hair adjustment" move. I figure I'm getting knocked out soon, may as well give the people their money's worth. And how awesome would it be to dramatically rise off the floor while the ref is counting me out and my crusty trainer is shouting at me to stay down?

'80s movies are to blame for my delusional belief in my boxing skills. As everyone knows, to be a great boxer, all you need is heart, someone to believe in you, and a training montage set to an inspiring '80s ballad. I don't really have the first two, but I could totally do a montage. Run on the beach for a while, do some sit-ups, hit that big ...punching bag thing, no problem. "Eye of the Tiger" is a bit too obvious, let's go with ...hmmmm. Def Leppard? Not enough synthesizer. Journey? Too played out. Hey, this montage might be harder than I thought.

Of course, this fantasy only applies to old school boxing. MMA is too dude-touching for me. Hey, you know, boxing is probably losing tons of revenue to MMA. They should be looking for a new underdog story to teach America how to dream again. And with my "everyman" physique and "Joe Six-pack" avoidance of training, hard work and sense of entitlement, I could be just the underdog they're looking for. Where do I sign up?

*When I say "almost every guy" I really mean, "Me and a guy at work I talked to about boxing once." With that sort of rigorous sourcing, I could totally be a lifestyles feature editor, if I only lived in New York.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


I don't want to shock anyone, but I've spent some time in comic book stores. I was always more of a tourist than a resident, but I went enough to have a familiarity with the clientele and workers there. I would always have the same reaction after being in there for a while:

"Look at all these fucking nerds."

But wait, I'd think. I'm in here, too. So am I one of them? Well, no, I mean, they probably thought James Bond just walked in here. Hell, yeah. Nerds better recognize.

Then I'd go to Target or somewhere where normal people congregated and realize I was a hideous, socially retarded nerd myself, only my subset of nerddom, record store guy/movie nerd was a step or two more socially acceptable. But my musings about how I'd give my firstborn to get a copy of the complete Big Boys discography or how a full stack of Rudy Ray Moore party records on vinyl was the only thing stopping me from having a full, complete life were equally as incomprehensible to normal people.

There was a comic book store a couple blocks away from our first apartment in Jacksonville. I'd get bored on a Sunday and walk down there to play Golden Axe, a pretty boss '80s video game that I think only got played when I walked up there. The guy who worked there was always cool to me, especially since I was basically taking up space and not buying anything.

Others were not so lucky. A friend of mine would go in there weekly, dropping some serious coin. You'd think that as a regular, he'd get some special treatment. One day he walks in and the guy's watching TV.
"Oh cool, Arrested Development," my friend exclaims.
The guy turns the TV off immediately and goes back to looking at pictures of She-Hulk.

My ex-wife would go there every once in a while to buy old kids comic books to use in projects. You'd think the guy would be happy to unload of all his old Archie and Casper books dusty-ing up the place, but he'd always drop her change into her hand from like two feet up with a sneer on his face.

You know, I'm always instinctively going to side with the nerds, the freaks and the misfits, but do they have to make it so hard all the time?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

If the Van's A-Rockin,' Don't Come Knockin'

I hate driving. Actually, that's not exactly true. Long drives are awesome. Driving alone through the sunset or late at night all caffeined up, eating boiled peanuts and listening to the Minutemen, or Thin Lizzy, or Naked Raygun, or Ted Leo, or any number of CDs I have to have on a long drive, or just half-paying attention to NPR? Man, that's some fun tymes.

But daily driving to go to work or the store or whatever? That shit's for the birds. This could be because I'm a terrible driver. I get lost easily, even in areas I've driven through thousands of times. I'm prone to road rage. I inspire road rage in others. There's a reason I ride my bike to work.

But if I had a van I'd be a much better driver, as well as a whole lot cooler. I had the chance to watch Supervan recently, a van/car chase/CB exploitation flick. While it didn't have the same effect on me as King Frat or The Greatest Movie Never Made, it was definitely worth watching.

There's this guy on his way to compete in this big van contest, see? His original van gets smashed up, so he gets Vandora, an experimental solar powered van this big company is trying to keep under wraps so they can keep selling gas guzzlers. He picks up a young woman along the way and they eventually fall in love. The CEO of the company is trying to stop him from entering Vandora. You can tell the CEO is bad because he looks like Ted Knight and doesn't like rock and roll. They all make it to the big van contest and see noted American author Charles Bukowski hosing down girls at a wet T-shirt contest. That's right, Charles Bukowski is in a '70s van movie hosing down girls in a wet T-shirt contest. You don't see Thomas Pynchon doing stuff like that.

All that plot stuff is OK, but what really makes Supervan worth watching is the footage of vans on display. While a lot of them just look like regular family trucksters or windowless molestermobiles, the few that don't are shining monuments to '70s awesomeness. Shag carpeting, fantasy airbrushing, chandeliers, pretty much everything you'd ever want in or on a van. The only thing bringing down the visuals is the lame country rock being played over it. Just imagine how awesome a bitchin' Fu Manchu track would be over all this. Here, you don't have to think too hard.

I love how exploitation movies act as time capsules for their eras. Churning movies out on the cheap, most used real people and sets, giving the movies a life and spark not seen in generic, sterile modern blockbusters. Watching the stuff filmed at the van contest brought me back to hundreds of flea markets, auctions and fairs my parents took me to at the time. I also learned that women were not allowed to wear bras in the '70s, which I guess I didn't pick up on as a kid.

Riding to work this morning I was thinking about vans, and their distant, snootier cousins, the Hummer and the SUV. A van is always inviting (except for those windowless ones). It says, "Hey, man, come on in. Ladies, check out the shag carpeting and waterbed. I don't know exactly where we're going, but dig this picture of Dr. Strange on the side. Let's get some beer and hang. You like Cheap Trick?"

SUVs and Hummers say, "I got mine. Fuck you. Out of my way, I'm on my way to a neighborhood association meeting."

I know which one I feel more comfortable with. As soon as the Honda dies (which probably won't be long, I'm close to 300,000 miles), I'm getting a van. Screw the fuel economy. I don't drive that much anyway. I just have to find someone who can airbrush a Conan the Barbarian mural on the side.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Roast Fish, Collie Weed and Cornbread

My favorite lunch place was packed today, so I wandered downtown in a haze of hunger pains. Hey! Da Real Ting is open again for lunch buffet! They might have been open for a while and just didn't have a snazzy sign.

I went there a few years ago and it was awesome. I went today and it was awesome. Jerk chicken, some sort of spicy broiled fish, plantains, man, it was amazing. They even had peach cobbler for dessert, even though I'm not sure that's really Jamaican. They were playing a Toots and the Maytals best of CD, which I believe they were playing the last time I was there. Had to knock them down a grade however, because while the new waitresses are better looking than the older women that worked there before, I liked thinking that the previous women could be my Jamaican lunch lady grandmas.

As I was leaving, I was told that the security cameras captured my meal for posterity. You can see a clip of it here.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Another Favorite Customer

There's this older guy who comes in occasionally and wants us to look up song lyrics. Like many of my favorite customers, initially I didn't like him, but his persistence won me over and I kinda love the guy now.

He's missing a leg, and looks sort of like a skinnier, less kept-up version of old school Barry White. You know, like this:

Well, it's sort of a stretch, but work with me, babe. You know, I know that people been talking about me all over town, but girl, don't pay them no mind. You know we got a stone groove together. And baby, you know that we got it together, and nobody can --

Sorry, got caught up in the Barry White vibe there for a moment. Anyway, this guy is in a band and is constantly looking for lyrics to old soul and R&B songs. Usually a line will form behind him while I'm looking up lyrics, since he usually doesn't know the title, just a few words from the chorus. He's a pleasant, cheerful guy and is always happy when you find lyrics for him, or let on that you've heard of Mandrill or the Isley Brothers. He'll say hello to whoever is in line and usually ask them a question.

"Excuse me ma'am, he's looking up a song for me. Do you know that one? Goes like, (and here he'll start to sing a bit)'baby, I'm so in love with you?' That's a jam, there."

He's not crazy or drunk or smelly, like a large portion of the public, but I always love seeing people shy away uncomfortably as he croons at them.

Couple months ago he wanted some Curtis Mayfield song lyrics. I hipped him to a documentary we have, "Movin' On Up," which is all kinds of awesome and you should check it out now. We got to talking about just how awesome "Curtis," Mayfield's first solo album is. Any album with both "Move On Up" and "(Don't Worry) If There's Hell Below We're All Gonna Go" on it is just one of the best things in the world. Plus, that cover of him chillin' in his bright yellow flares should be hanging in the National Gallery.

He started talking about "(Don't Worry) If There's Hell Below We're All Gonna Go."

"That's a jam, there."

"Oh yeah," I replied.

"I've wanted to do that one for a long time, but people might have a problem with the opening."

If you don't recall the opening, there's an awesome fuzzy bassline, a woman talks about reading the Bible, then Curtis shouts out what adults now refer to as 'the N-word.'

"Yeah, I guess those were different times, huh?"

"Oh yeah. You know, I might get away with that," he laughed. "But I don't think you could."

"Heh. Yeah, you're right. I'm not going to even try that one."

Then he thanked me and went on down the line to sing to some uncomfortable soccer moms.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Get Out of My Head

I've had the chorus of a song stuck in my head for about 2 or 3 weeks now. I finally looked it up. Apparently the song is "Never Been Any Reason" by Head East. You know this song. You might not think so, but if you've ever listened to a classic rock station, you know this song.

The chorus goes like this:

"Save my life I'm going down for the last time/Woman with the sweet love better than a white line."

I'm hoping that by passing this on, it will leave my head and find a home in both of my faithful readers' heads.

Lord of the Flies

I'm not fanatical or anything, but I'd like to think that I keep a fairly clean house. I don't keep food out, and yeah, the dishes might linger a while in the sink before their trip to the dishwasher (what, like I'm going to hand wash that stuff? It's the 21st century!), but I'd like to think that I keep up at least minimum standards of cleanliness.

So why do I have swarms of flies in my kitchen?

Couple mornings ago I noticed a few flies on the window. "How dare you invade the sanctity of my home," I thundered, as I swatted the offenders to their death. I came home from work that afternoon and had a new gang of flies buzzing around the window. I have just enough of the OCD that I can't let that stand, and would swat flies until they were all dead, their nasty little insect carcasses littering my windowsill. Then the next day I'd start all over again.

I'm familiar with plagues, having dealt with both fleas and swarms of locusts before, but these flies are really freaking me out. A co-worker told me he had the same problem years ago, only in the bathroom, which is of course a thousand times worse than my problem, but it still feels like I'm living in an unclean house. I've been told to pour bleach down the sink and also to cover the drains with dishes, ensuring that when I move the dishes, I'll unleash swarms of bleached, angry flies all over me.

Plan B is bringing in an army of spiders which would not only eat all the flies, but would also give me an early start on my Halloween decorating.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day, Go Outside!

My sister and I weren't allowed to watch too much TV growing up. It could be because our parents were teachers, although maybe they just wanted to save money on the electric bill.

My parents weren't Amish about it or anything, they just had certain rules. No TV (except for the news or 60 Minutes) during dinner, and very, very limited TV during the daytime. Whenever I mention the "no TV during dinner" rule to people they act like we were from Little House on the Prarie days.

"So what did you guys do while you were eating?"

"I dunno, I guess we just talked. Argued. Passed food around. Whatever normal families did."

"But you didn't watch TV?"

"Not while we were eating, no."

"Were you one of those weird families who had to complete logic puzzles at the dinner table? Did you have to go around the table and give dissertations on current events? Did you share craft projects?"

"We weren't the Tannenbaum family. We just ate. Like normal people around a table. Only we weren't watching Wheel of Fortune at the time."

It's still weird to me when I go to someone's parent's house and they bust out the TV trays. "I suppose I shouldn't say anything," I think. "Maybe they're too poor to have a dining room table, or they've really been anticipating this hour of E programming. Best not to say anything and go along with it."

But if that rule freaks people out, not being able to watch TV during the day really blows their mind. I'm not sure if that was an actual stone tablet rule or anything, or we were just hassled into going outside or given work whenever we were caught watching TV during daylight hours. I do remember an exception was made for Creature Feature every Saturday at 2:00 if I got my chores done, so thanks for that one, Mom and Dad.

So did my parent's TV rules affect us? I'm not really sure. I do know that my sister has a TV in every room in her house, and I almost always watch TV while I'm eating. And I'm generally watching something that I first saw on Creature Feature.

If I'm not eating, I get sort of weirded out watching TV during the daytime. I've gotten over this feeling by eating constantly, but you know those lazy Sundays where you watch football for 5 hours or watch whatever crappy movies TBS decides to run on a constant loop? I can't do that. If the sun is shining, and I'm trying to watch TV, it just freaks me the hell out.

It doesn't help that TV knows that. That's why they show crap on Saturday and Sunday during the day. I don't know if they made a deal with my parents years ago or what, but those days are where they dump all those terrible movies made from TV shows or syndicated shows like Mama's Family that exist in their own phantom time; where the sets look like a high school play and it's impossible to tell if the show was filmed in 1987, 1996 or 2008.

This is TV messing with you. "Why aren't you doing something," The television asks. "We can play this crap all day. You know you can't win. You're not going to catch Jaws or an episode of Arrested Development or even a cool nature documentary. It's going to be episodes of Charles in Charge and Rob Schnider movies all day long. Now don't you want to go outside? Isn't there some work you should be doing?"

No matter how I try to fight, I realize TV will win, as it usually does.

Thursday, July 22, 2010 the Future

Best question this week:

"Where would I find, you know, stuff. Like time machines. Like to go back to the days of like Billy the Kid?"

"Third Floor."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Badge of Dishonor

Free Comic Book Day was sometime last month. This is a day when comic book stores use the lure of free comic books (usually stuff like Archie and the gang teaching you how to brush your teeth) in an attempt to ensnare a new generation of nerds to replace those who have managed to escape by talking to girls. This has become so successful that record stores have tried it, launching Record Store Day. While I kid the nerds, I hope both days are successful, as I recognize them as my brothers and sisters, and will gladly stand arm in arm with them when the time comes. Well, maybe not arm in arm. Have you ever been to a record show? Those people smell terrible. But I will offer much moral support.

In honor of Free Comic Book Day, my friend Keith made me this snazzy button. Here, check it out:

I should probably mention that Keith was our children's librarian.

Apparently in the comic, the Nazi ape saw something so awful that he puked in a rather spectacular fashion. Think about that for a minute. Something was so disgusting that a Nazi officer gorilla threw up. What could that be? Love? Friendship?

All I know is that I now have a button to wear whenever the occasion calls for it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ever Get that Not-So-Fresh Feeling?

Got back from a library conference in Washington, D.C. last week. I had never been before. Got to check out some museums, saw some bands and monuments, and kept seeing the Capitol Dome looming down the street from the motel. Naturally, it reminded me of that Bad Brains cover.

D.C. is hot and humid. Really, really hot and humid. I knew that before, but figured, "Hey, I'm from Florida. How hot can it really be? I'll run a marathon up there, just to show those Washington fat cats they can't push me around."

That was not the case. My clothes were constantly soaked. I went out to see the monuments one night around 10 o'clock and I was still bathed in sweat, but you know, I'm an American, so I couldn't let the humidity and heat stop me from checking that stuff out. And hanging out at the Lincoln Memorial with a big group of tourists with the Washington Monument in front of me and the full moon to the right made me want to give my own "I have a dream" speech, so it was worth it.

On the last day, I woke up early, saw author Dennis Lehane give a really good speech, then took off for the airport. I'm naturally oily and sweaty, and airports and trains and stuff always make me a bit nervous, thinking that I'm going to lose my boarding pass, or I'll be shipped off to Guantanamo for trying to carry too much toothpaste on board or something, so I was not at my freshest. Oh yeah, and I had pretty much worn the same pair of jeans for most of the trip.

I get to the Jacksonville airport to my car with its half-assed air conditioner and find I can't get out of the economy lot. So I wait and wait until they send someone to manually take my credit card and let me go home. Meanwhile, I'm sweating like a pig.

You know how when you bring home a pizza or something and then a day later you get in the car and it still smells like delicious pizza? Yeah, that's awesome. Well, a bit later I got in the car to go somewhere and notice this smell. Not overpowering, but definitely nothing you'd want to subject anyone else to.

Somehow all my stink and sweat had seeped into the car and was reminding me what a horrible smelling person I can be if left to my own devices. It aired out after a couple of hours, but it was yet another reminder that I should not be around respectable people.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Uninformed and Uneducated Thoughts on the World Cup

I have friends who actually know stuff about the World Cup and can tell you all sorts of statistics on what country is going to beat what country and who plays what position and how this is going to be the year that soccer finally takes root in America.

If you care about that sort of stuff, you should read their blogs.

There are also a gazillion sites that deride soccer as a pansy European sport that no American should care about.

If you care about that sort of stuff, you should have someone read their site to you.

Amazingly, the one thing both these camps have in common is that they tend to absolutely hate the one thing that is awesome about World Cup soccer.

They both seem to really, really hate when a player (generally an Italian) will get nudged in the shoulder or something, then fall to the ground as if they were stabbed trying to pull a foul on the other team. Then the ref leaves and the player gets up.

This is the one thing that I absolutely think is awesome about soccer. In fact, it might be the coolest move in professional sports. To me, it recalls Ric Flair, master of ring psychology, when he'd fall to his knees and pantomime begging for the mercy of an opponent. Then, he'd punch him in the balls when the ref wasn't looking.

Dunks from the foul line, Hail Mary passes, fake kicks on fourth down; all of these are awesome moves, but to see a guy fall down screaming in obvious fake pain only to pop right back up and continue playing - this move should be in every professional athlete's bag of tricks.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tattoo You

Poor people sure love their tattoos. Every third person that comes up to the reference desk looks like a Maori tribesman, if the New Zealand natives were infatuated with Taz, rings of barbed wire and hip-hop lyrics. My favorite used to be the young man with an outline of the state of Florida between his eyebrows, but today I crowned my new King of Tattoos.

Remember when someone was foolish enough to pass out at a party? Remember how funny it was when they woke up the next day with Sharpee-written witticisms and symbols over every inch of exposed skin? Well, I think that happened to this guy. He had all sorts of stuff scrawled on him in fonts that recalled that blocky handwritten style used in advertising to denote kids. You know, like a sign that says Lemonade with the E backwards. I couldn't read all of this guy's etchings, but I was able to preserve his best in this painting I commissioned acourtroom artist to do for the site.

I'm assuming these are the fellow's two favorite types of popular music. I feel this would be a lot more effective if they were on his knuckles or hands, if only for the chance to say, "Do you like country? Or do you like rock?" before punching someone. Another wasted opportunity.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Overheard While Eating Downtown

One attorney/city worker looking guy in his 40s to another

"What's wrong with you? It's like you don't even care who won American Idol anymore."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I finally gave in and bought an ipod. I have a perfectly good old school MP3 player, which is about the size of an old Walkman, but I had some extra scratch and decided to get something with more room (64 gigs!).

This might have been a mistake. I'm catching all sorts of stuff that didn't make it over into itunes and it is driving me insane.

"What? 'John Wayne Was A Nazi' didn't make it over? What the hell? The whole point of having a portable MP3 player is so that I can listen to 'John Wayne Was A Nazi' any damn time I want, which is right now! My old player would never treat me like this."

I'm also having trouble importing stuff in, which is causing me much more stress than I can handle right now.

Hell, it could be worse, I could have bought an iphone. Is there anything worse than being in a group when someone asks a question like, "I wonder if Bob Hope is alive." In the old days, this could lead to different conversational tangents, like how weird it is that Jerry Lewis is still alive. Or that Jerry Lee Lewis is still alive. Or that time Bob Hope played Gator Growl. Or what was that one player for Florida? You know, the receiver back in like '93?

Now of course, some chucklehead has to whip out his magic little phone and announce loudly that Bob Hope is in fact, dead, which also kills conversation and fun.

And don't even get me started on an Andy Rooney-esque rant on people texting during sporting events and concerts. What are you saying? "I'm at a baseball game. LOL." "This concert is awesome." Then get off the phone and enjoy it, dummy.

Jesus, you see what the new technology is doing to me? I should have stayed with my ancient old MP3 player.


I've been trying to connect to itunes for two days now. Apple's tech support is a picture of a feather saying 'breathe,' but it's sure designed well. I'm going back to my walkman.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ain't No Party Like a Skinhead Party

I was probably only one of two or three people delivering food from Hunan Palace in Atlanta who wasn't a skinhead. They weren’t Nazis or anything, in fact one of them was black and one was from somewhere in South America. Of course one of the big white power skins in Tampa/St. Pete was Puerto Rican, so who knows? I got along with them alright, we liked some of the same bands, but the whole worshiping this magical time in England from before they were born was a little strange, as was their habit of beating the shit out of people every weekend.

This made for some interesting weekend recaps. I'd get blow-by-blow stories about putting some dude in the hospital, while I'd come out with something like, "I saw The Crow at the dollar theater with my roommate. It kinda sucked."

It was weird running into them outside of work. I remember a Buzzcocks show where I was drinking with them before the band started where you could just feel the tension. Somehow, somebody was going to get their ass kicked that night.

Of course, it wasn't gonna be me, so screw it.

So I get invited to this party at a warehouse. A bunch of bands used to practice there til they got kicked out, so they figure they’ll have a big party and trash the place. I think I got a ride with someone after work. It soon becomes clear that everyone there is a skinhead, except for like 2 or 3 other people and me. Even though I had a pretty good idea nothing would happen to me, I had heard those guys tell enough stories about how they looked for an excuse to beat some outsider’s ass that I was pretty nervous. To take the edge off, I had a couple beers. A couple bands played while the rest of the skinheads destroyed the warehouse. After a few more beers, I figured I’d help ‘em out. Somebody handed me a crowbar so I started banging away on some drywall. “Oh shit! Hey, that’s a Jam song! I know that song!” I threw my crowbar to the ground and pushed past a bunch of skinheads and ran up to the band. Like I had many times in Gainesville when a band played a song I knew, I figured I’d help them out. I snatch the mic from the singing skinhead and give the crowd my rendition of "Boy About Town." About ¾ through the song, a reminder fought its way through all the beer in my brain. “Hey. You’re not at the Hardback. You’re at a skinhead party where you know a handful of these bald people. Do you think they appreciate you taking the microphone from their bald brother?” I sort of mumbled the rest of the song and tried to inconspicuously slink back to the corner.

However, the skins seemed to be impressed that I sang and was helping destroy the place, even though I had hair. They kept giving me drinks all night and I felt sort of like the nerdy waterboy hanging out with the football team. After a while I got paranoid that they were getting me drunk to surprise me with a stomping, so I took off on foot through a pretty sketchy neighborhood and walked about 2 miles home.

The next day at work I didn't hear that anyone got their ass beat, so I guess the whole thing worked out for everyone.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dream Warrior

Since I realize nothing is more fascinating than other people's dreams, here's one that I had the other morning.

I was teaching this adult education class with Steve Carrell. I recognized a few people in the class. At some point, a pack of rabid dogs run in the classroom. Steve is trying to keep everyone calm while I run for help (I can call him Steve since we taught together). Oh yeah, the classroom was up a ladder for some reason. So I go running around looking for help, but keep getting distracted. I finally make it back with some meat to lure the dogs out of the classroom, but the dogs have left or fallen asleep or something. Everyone still thinks I'm a hero though, because they don't know about how I stopped looking for help and would go off and do something else. At one point my friend Todd comes up and is all serious about how scared he was of the dogs. Then like a second later we start doing our impression of "Little Mad Guy," the kung fu movie where the wispy-haired master says, "Oh Fatty, why can't you catch those snakes? It's so damned easy."

This is what would happen in real life.

So come on, all you internet Freuds, what the hell does that mean?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Saddest Comedy in the World

A couple weeks ago I'm at the gym wondering why the elliptical machine insists on lying about the elapsed time (you can say 3 minutes as long as you want, Mr. Running Robot, but I think we both know I had to have been on you at least 10) and glanced up at one of the closed captioned TVs the gym offers. "Everybody Loves Raymond" was starting and since I needed something to take my mind off my lying robot coach, I started watching, pretending I had just been struck deaf from some terrible accident.

It's in the beginning, before the credits. Ray and his family are in the kitchen, trading barbs and insulting each other. Without sound or a laughtrack, the show was a bleak, depressing rumination on a family that hates each other with a blinding passion and takes every opportunity to point out each others flaws, yet is somehow determined to stick together. It also helped that I was translating everything in overly dramatic 'actorly' voices with lots of pauses, so that it went sort of like:

"Raymond. (pause) You did not empty the dishwasher again."

"I know, honey. I (pause) just (pause) forgot, OK?"

Here's an actual script I found off the internet:

Ray: Take a look at your daughter.

Debra: Yeah, so? She looks happy.

Ray: She’s happy, that’s very happy.

Debra: What, shall we call a doctor, Ray?

Ray: I… look, I’m just saying, look how good it is to be five. Oh, you’re truly happy at five. You’re happiness peaks at five.

Debra: Oh, come on, I’m happy.

Ray: You’re not that happy. You can’t be. Look at her. Ally, what are you thinking of?

Ally: Candy.

Fill that full of pauses and serious voices and you can see what a depressing view the writers of "Everybody Loves Raymond" have on marriage, childhood, and the elusiveness of happiness.

I can't wait til tonight when I get to dramatize "Two and a Half Men" in this manner.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's 40

I turned 40 Saturday. It really freaked me out. I never cared about birthdays before. Hell, I can't even remember a big stretch of birthdays from my 20s on, and not even in a "brah, I was so wasted" way. My parents would call, I got some presents, probably went to work, ate some cake and forgot about it.

But 40. 40 was messing me up. For about two weeks before I'd wake up in the middle of the night with a stomach ache from nighttime worries that would jolt me awake but I couldn't remember. A lot of them were tied in to the fact that I just sort of assumed I would have accomplished a lot more by the time I hit 40. Or you know, accomplished something by now.

But the day came and I felt OK. The girlfriend went all out on the surprises, we went out to eat with a bunch of people, I got some nice gifts in the mail, and thanks to the facebook, people sent messages and whatnot. I think I'm feeling OK about the whole thing now, but who the hell knows.

Now all you kids get off my damn lawn. And you're not getting your frisbee back until you tell your parents.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Sociological Test

If you were ever a fan of any sort of non-mainstream music, no matter what it was - techno, punk, black metal, swing, goth, Peruvian folk music - whatever, and you run into someone who was into the same stuff years later, ask them about music.

They'll probably say, "Yeah, I don't listen to that stuff anymore."

Ask them what they listen to now. There is a 95 percent chance the answer is Wilco.

Me, I listen to about the same thing I did when I was a teenager.* Why? Well, check out this picture of DYS:

Look at that little guy with the guitar! Look how much fun he's having!

*Except for around Halloween and Christmas, when I revert back even further.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Real, Actual Promotional Quote from the back of a Book

"Like Hunter Thompson on acid." - P.J. O'Rourke.

Not only is the whole, "like X on acid (or steroids)" my least favorite critic phrase ever (well, 'Mats' for The Replacements is up there, too), but wasn't Hunter Thompson Hunter Thompson on acid? And it was written by P.J. O'Rourke, who actually knew Hunter Thompson!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

That Must Have Been Some Party

Went to a party last weekend. Ended up drinking way too much. When this would happen in the past, the night would be lost forever, living only in the memories of people I insulted or made feel uncomfortable. Thanks to technology, however, I have an actual record of texts (some failed to be delivered, as my coordination took a severe nosedive after the 30th drink) to document the night. Just like the brave actors on CSI, we can piece together a night from a sparse set of clues.

To Several Recipients: We are 138!!*

To Todd: Listening to Love and Rockets. Drunk.

From Todd: I'm watching Floor right now. Drunk.

To Todd: Dry Ice?

From Todd: They've got 2 smoke machines.

To Todd: Oy Vey. I love that shit.

To Pat: Love and Rockets id awesmm

To Pat (Undelivered) Now I'm wearing a boa and listening to show tunes. KICK ASS!!!

To Todd: I want to pilot

I have no idea what the I want to pilot thing meant. Was I revealing my secret dream of going to pilot school?

There ends our texts. Nothing like technology in the hands of drunk middle aged men.

* I have what I feel is an endearing habit of texting old punk lyrics after I've had a few.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Why I Am A Shining Star At Work

Boss: "I wanted to show you where the key to the laptop is since I'm going to be gone for a week."

Me: "It's in that drawer, right? In that secret thing right there?"

Boss: "How did you know that?"

Me: "You showed my like three years ago."

Boss: "And you remembered? Scotty*, I'm impressed!"

Me: "Actually, I know where the key lives because you told me it unlocks your secret candy stash."

Boss: "You should have stopped earlier. It would have been a lot more impressive."

* Yes, somehow Scotty became my work nickname.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Why Punk Rock in General, and The Minutemen in Specific Were Cool

"(The Minutemen would) be driving on tour, arguing over whether it was Henry II or Henry IV who got excommunicated. So we'd have to find a library, pull the bus over to the side of the road, just punching each other." – Mike Watt

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Two Gentlemen Discuss Cinema

The film up for review, John Frankenheimer's 1979 environmental horror film, "Prophecy." A few weeks back I got on a '70s 'animals attack people/Jaws ripoffs' movie kick and was told by a friend that this one was not to be missed. The following are our undoctored emails, definitely not done on work time, taken right after a viewing:


Indian ax vs. logger chainsaw, monster tadpoles, burny bear fetuses, Holy crap, that big melty bear just totally ripped off the roof!

Patrick: Don't forget when they're all like, whew, the melty bear drowned, and then OH JEEBUS HE'S COMIN OUT DA LAKE!!


Patrick: Why must the white man poison the earth with his greed, Scott Adams? WHYYYY?

Scott: Hey, you like your paper, don't you? Well, then you're part of the problem.

Patrick: Hm, yes, well. I suppose I am. Bring on the melty bears then I guess.

I would like to add that the melty bears came about though a paper company dumping chemicals in the river, which makes our final conversation make a bit more sense. Oh, and check out that melty bear!

Five stars for "Prophecy."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Finally, My Talents Are Noticed

I get back to work Monday after a week-long vacation in which I forgot everything I ever learned about work (Charleston, SC. I'll tell you about it later). I'm on the public desk first thing. When I go out there, I'm blinded by a light setup and a bunch of college students filming a movie. One of them is behind my desk. They got permission from someone, so I don't really care, especially since they are keeping the crazies away.

They ask me if I want to be an extra, and naturally I say, "Hell, yeah," and sign some papers. I'm on the desk on the computer working through my mound of emails from vacation while a guy carrying a skateboard gets accosted by the the actress portraying the librarian who says, "Sir, you can't bring that into the building." Then she directs him to the foreign language materials (incorrectly, by the way. I mean, third floor, duh!). This shot was done over and over again for an hour.

The movie is tentatively called "Blue Llama" and is about a washed up professional skateboarder. Netflix that shit! I'm hoping I get a Pee Wee Herman as bellhop scene out of this, my first big break.

So I am sad to say that I am soon giving up the library biz. Showbiz is calling, and who am I to deny the world such entertainment?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Man's Day

Jennifer: "So what did you and your friend Pat talk about?"

Me: "Oh, you know, the usual stuff. We talked about how we were both getting fatter and talked about each other's clothes. I really liked that Ben Sherman shirt he was wearing. We probably gossiped about people we know."


"Then we drank some appletinis and went out to buy some new shoes."

Actually, I'm pretty sure we talked about the usual punk music and stupid movies at some point, but still. And I would like to point out that the appletinis and shoes were completely made up. Really.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Portrait of the Artist as an Old(er) Man

I'm terrible about uploading pictures from my camera. Probably as bad at taking photos in the first place. These are from last month's artwalk. I had a couple of decks in this skateboard art exhibition. I am now an established local artiste.

Here's Jacksonville's newest artist displaying a skateboard deck which has sat in his closet for 20 years.

Second deck on a brick wall. It makes it classier.

Oh crap! I totally forgot! There were Asian breakdancers. Yeah, no shit. I felt they were distracting the masses from my artwork, but nevertheless, they were pretty cool. I got a lot of pictures like this, right before or right after someone would bust a move.

Hey, now that I think about it, I wonder how I get my boards back? Well, for a while you can go see my decks, along with a bunch of other cool ones at the gallery downtown above the jewelry store. Listen for the breakdancers. I don't think they let them out yet.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

WDUV, The Dove

My mom drove me and my sister to school up 'til middle school. Although the radio had the usual number of buttons, the only station she ever played was WDUV, "The Dove." It sounds like a Christian rock station, but they played what they called "Beautiful Music." I've found out that "Beautiful Music" is an actual genre, or at least Jones College Radio in Jacksonville uses the same phrase.

If you were lucky, WDUV would play stuff like instrumental versions of Beatle songs, or string-heavy versions of "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" along with your Sinatras, Streisands and lesser crooners.

WDUV still exists, so I took a look at today's playlist. Lou Rawls, Barry Manilow, Perry Como, sure. Wait, Billy Joel? Elton John? Those guys would have sounded like Black Flag at the WDUV I grew up with. They also seem to have retired a lot of their '50s and '60s instrumentals, branching out to more contemporary (i.e. late '80s) artists. Sellouts.

When I took driver's ed in high school, our instructor had a game. He'd put the radio station on and you couldn't change it until you correctly guessed the song. I could ruin the game in seconds flat.

"Oh, it's my turn? Well, that's "This Magic Moment." Jay and the Americans. Before that it was "Secondhand Rose" by Barbara Streisand. "Little Spanish Flea" by Herb Alpert started it, and we heard the very end of "There's a Kind of Hush" by Herman's Hermits."

"OK, you win. You get the radio for the rest of the class. So am I turning it to 98 Rock or Y95?"

"Nah, I'm cool. I think there's gonna be a Lennon Sisters marathon coming up. Don't want to miss that."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Have You Played Atari Today?

I stumbled across this site a couple weeks ago that reviews Atari 2600 games. It's pretty funny that they'll say things like, "graphically, the game leaves a bit to be desired, but gameplay..."
Of course it leaves a bit to be desired graphically! It was made in 1982! That started a coworker and I to start talking about those awesome graphics on the Atari cartridges. They were all Frank Frazetta looking, usually with a guy in the foreground screaming at you.
This also prompted the following conversation:
Coworker: "I had one game, I can't remember what it was but there was a big square and you had a ball that you bounced against it and..."
Me: "That was every Atari game!"
C: "Yeah, I guess so."
M: "That's totally a dad game. 'I got a game for you. How about bouncing a ball against the wall for a couple hours?'"
C: "Just do it outside away from me."
M: "If you're bored you can help me dig holes for a fence today."
C: "Now that's a dad videogame. It would be called Fencepost! with an exclamation point.
M: "And the cover would have a guy in a hardhat up front screaming while in the foreground some other guys were raising a fencepost like in Iwo Jima."
C: "From the Dadgames laboratories, makers of such previous hits like Mowing! and "Keeping Quiet in the Car!"
M: My dad was always hard at work on his game, "Stop Slamming the Door!"
C: "Man, imagine coming home from Sears all excited with "Saving!" only to find out it's about saving electricity by shutting the door when the air is on."
M: "The cover would be a lineman in a hardhat screaming while some kids throw money out of an open door."

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Dinner with Tupac

Hey kids, do you like the hip-hop music? You do? Well, did I ever tell you about the time I hung out with Tupac Shakur in Atlanta? I didn't?

Well, that's because there's really not much of a story there.

We got a delivery order for a club downtown near the end of a day shift. The club was pretty well-known, although I have no idea what the name was now. I ended up getting the order, which was fine; the craziness of lunch had died down, so I could take my time, and clubs were usually pretty good tippers.

So I gather a box of food and drive downtown. "Man, am I lucky," I'm thinking to myself. I get to close out my shift with a big ol' tip. Everyone knew that clubs tended to tip well, they were second only to strip bars in knowing the importance of tips.

So I get there and there's a group of about 10 guys waiting for the food. They're wearing big gold necklaces and a couple guys are sporting diamond earrings. Right away they start trying to determine who ordered what. This happened a lot, especailly at hospitals or strip clubs. This meant you had to stand around while everyone argued with each other for about a half hour. In strip clubs, it wasn't too bad, they have naked ladies there and you'd end up with a fat tip for your trouble(get your mind out of the gutter). In hospitals you'd end up standing around forever while all the nurses paged each other, then paid with a handfull of change and stiffing you on a tip.

So I was used to that. All the guys seemed to be deferring to a guy in the middle. I had no idea who he was, but they seemed to act like he was important.

I stand around while the guys discuss the bill (by the way, America? You know when a good time to do this is? AFTER YOU'VE PLACED THE DELIVERY AND BEFORE THE DRIVER SHOWS UP.), then take my cash and leave.

On the way home I realize I've been stiffed. Hell, the whole thing was as crappy as going to Grady Hospital.

Couple days later we're watching the news and I realize that the guy in the middle was Tupac. I had checked out of hip-hop after they stopped discussing sucker MCs and waxing and milking, so I had no idea.

Anyway, Tupac was on TV because he had shot an undercover cop the night after his posse stiffed me. Or been shot by an undercover cop. If it had been a dude from Fugazi or Jesus Lizard or the Didjits cold shootin' cops, I might have paid more attention.

Apart from the weirdness of figuring out that I sort of met someone famous (OK, was in the same room with someone famous), I was just pissed. Famous Tupac and his friends can't leave a tip? With all that gold they were wearing? LL Cool J would have tipped me. Run DMC would have tipped. Boogie Down Productions would have tipped me and dropped some knowledge on me.

Tupac would be dead a few years later. To this day the media wants you to believe it had something to do with a West Coast/East Coast rap war, but I've heard on good authority that it was a server, delivery driver or wait person pissed off over a missing tip.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To the Gothic Castle

I don't really remember how we ended up at the gothic guy's apartment. It was one of those blurry nights back in the early '90s in Atlanta with my roommate Rachel. Somehow we were out with our neighbor, Juliet.

That was strange in itself. We shared a hallway, and were nice enough to each other, but she would go on these screaming and crying jags late at night. We weren't really sure if we were supposed to do anything or not, so we'd just turn the TV up louder (free cable!) and drink more Natural Light. I remember our downstairs neighbors warning me about her. "I'm from Ireland," she said. "I know about banshees."

So we tended to keep our distance.

Somehow after drinking somewhere Juliet ended up taking us to a friend's apartment. I don't remember the guy's name, let's call him Raven or Mykel or something. I remember the apartment was painted black and he had a lot of black and spiky furniture. He also didn't seem to want us hanging around. Probably because we looked pretty square, and weren't our stripper neighbor.

Raven kept talking to Juliet while Rachel and I giggled about how much of a cliche the dude was. I mean, he was wearing leather pants, just sitting around the house! Sure, it was immature, especially since the guy had begrudgingly given us more beer and a dark place to sit in, but you know how it is in your early 20s. And hey, we had to amuse ourselves somehow while he tried macking on our neighbor.

"What's the matter, you don't like Nine Inch Nails?" Raven yelled over the stereo.

"Yeah, they're OK, I guess," I said. "They played them in the mall last week while I was shopping for Dockers."

"Oh yeah? Well, check these out."

With that, Raven dropped a pile of photographs on my lap.

"I don't know if I want to look at dead people, man."

"What's the matter, can't take it? Well, I've got tons of these. Most people can't take it, but this is unfiltered, in-your-face reality."

"Yeah, well, I guess you totally win...hey, wait a minute! This picture's from a movie. That's from Dawn of the Dead, right?"

I ended up trying to talk horror movies with the guy, but he was a little crestfallen after finding out that his in-your-face reality was actually concocted by special effects wizard Tom Savini.

I can't remember how we left the guy's apartment, or if we were still with Juliet, but I can say with about 90 percent certainty that we ended up getting Taco Bell, drinking Natural Light and watching Mystery Science Theater 3000.

I never really did make that many friends in Atlanta.