Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Whose side are really you on? And who's really on yours?

This incident happened here in Tampa last week:
"A lesbian couple leaving the Jimmie B. Keel Library on Monday night said they found a harassing note on their windshield..." (read more by clicking here) - ABC Action News (WFTS TV, Tampa)
A friend of mine, who is a lesbian, was understandably alarmed and posted the article above as well as the following comment to her Facebook wall:
"This happened here. What a complete coward and ignorant moron."
That's it. That is her comment on the situation in its entirety.
Here are the first two replies she received in response from friends...
"I'm a republican, but not all Republicans think that way. There are many very narrow-minded people out there, both Republicans and Democrats... John Q Republican [alluding to the anonymous signature on the note mentioned in the story - CB] is a ball-less human being."
"Horrible, but do not lump us Republicans in together. These are just people with limited ability to be compassionate and tolerant. Unfortunately, I see this kind of behavior on both sides of the aisle."
That's funny. Nobody said anything about Republicans. Anybody else find it an unnecessarily defensive reaction from these two people to defend the Republican Party, in spite of the fact that there are no references to any political party (other than the faux "signature" on the note mentioned in the story), critical or otherwise, in the story or my friend's re-posting of it?

More troubling, to me is that they felt the need to do that first, instead of acknowledging that their friend has a legitimate reason to be pissed off/worried/disappointed etc. about the incident itself. Rather than offer comfort and support to a friend who has expressed apprehension about a pretty clearly expressed threat, they chose to stand up on behalf of their party affiliation. The only reasonable explanation I can come up with for feeling the need to do that is a guilty conscience. I wonder if they believe that their 'side' would have their back if they were threatened, to a greater extent than an actual friend (without the quotes). If so, I pity them. For one reason, they're sadly mistaken and there's no way to learn that than the hard way. Second, obviously they have no real friends.

Regardless, making something not about you by making it about you (or some group with whom you choose to align) isn't showing compassion or tolerance. It's preemptively covering your ass because you're more worried about getting some stink on you than you are about the legitimate concerns of somebody you label a 'friend'. And if that's you, you're at least as much of a coward as the piece of shit leaving anonymous hate notes.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Memories: Not what they used to be

We're all getting older. All of us! Even the young folks. Each and every one of us is older now than when we started reading this. Naturally, our memory is rapidly going to seed. There's proof that this is happening to us on a mass scale. There are people who sincerely believe they saw a movie titled "Shazaam" starring Sinbad as a genie that doesn't exist. I mean the movie doesn't exist. Sinbad does, although he is not a genie. But "Shazaam" never happened, in spite of people's convictions that it totally did. Just last week, White House spokesperson Kellyanne Conway cited a massacre in Bowling Green, Kentucky, that also never happened.
This does not qualify
Some might refer to this phenomenon as "misremembering". Or perhaps "not knowing what the hell you're talking about" or "lying". Regardless, it tends to happen a lot. Just look at this list of famous movie quotes that you've been getting wrong all this time...

The Empire Strikes Back
You remember: “Luke, I am your father.” 

But the actual quote is: “Luke, it is I who is the person that am your father."

Apollo 13
You remember: “Houston, we have a problem”
But the actual quote is: “Oh shit, Houston!”

Dirty Harry
You remember: “Do you feel lucky, punk?”
But the actual quote is: “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Because if not, there's really no point in buying a lottery ticket, punk.”

The Graduate
You remember: “Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?”
But the actual quote is: “Mrs. Robinson, you’re the subject of a well-known Simon and Garfunkel song. Aren’t you?”

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
You remember: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall - who is the fairest of them all?”
But the actual quote is: “Magic mirror, on the wall, the reflection of light off a smooth service is a simple scientific principle and not so 'magic' after all. Punk.”

She Done Him Wrong (with Mae West)
You remember: “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?”
But the actual quote is: “Why don’t you comply with the restraining order and stay at least 500 feet from me, punk?”

You remember: “Play it again, Sam.”
But the actual quote is: “Play 'Free Bird', Sam. Wooo!”

You remember: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!”
But the actual quote is: “We should be in a helicopter with automatic weapons. Being out here in a boat is just stupid.”

Field Of Dreams
You remember: “If you build it, they will come.”
But the actual quote is: “If you build it, you will have a full-sized baseball diamond in your yard. Pretty sweet!”

All About Eve
You remember: “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
But the actual quote is: “Fasten your seat belts, it’s the law.”

The Wizard of Oz
You remember: “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.
But the actual quote is: “Toto, thank God we’re not in Kansas anymore!”

Gone With The Wind
You remember: “Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn.”
But the actual quote is: “Frankly, punk, I don’t give a damn.”

Silence of the Lambs
You remember: “Hello, Clarice”

But the actual quote is: “Well, howdy-do, Clarice!”

Mommie Dearest
You remember: “No more wire hangers, EVER!”
But the actual quote is: “No starch! No starch EVER!”

Planet of the Apes
You remember: “Get your stinkin’ paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”
But the actual quote is: “Take your stinkin’ dirty damn paws off me, you damn stinkin' dirty ape!”

…And Justice For All
You remember: “I’m out of order? You’re out of order! This whole courtroom’s out of order!”

But the actual quote is: “Your mama out of order! Oooooohh!! (dabs and blasts air horn)”

Sunset Blvd.
You remember: “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”
But the actual quote is: “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my selfie, punk.”

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The choices we make define who we are

The other day, on his morning commute, a co-worker struck and killed a seagull with his car.
"It was just standing in the road and didn't move! If I had swerved, I'd have hit some guy riding his bike! It was awful."
You read that right; he had a chance to hit a bicyclist with his car, and he chose to kill a bird instead!
"B-but why didn't the bird move? I don't understand why he didn't just fly away."
Maybe he was busy. Maybe he was eating some french fries. It's none of your damn business. None of that matters. You killed him to spare a bicyclist.
"I had no choice! A bird or a human being!"
A bicyclist. A worthless, dime-a-dozen, zero-contributing-to-life bicyclist. Travels around in packs, annoying people at the beach bicyclist. A begging for food at picnics, constantly squawking, pooping all over the place bicyclist.
"You don't know that. What if he was a good person? What if he was a doctor?"
If he was a doctor, why wasn't he in an operating room, saving someone's life?
"Maybe it was his day off."
It wasn't the seagull's day off. He was clocked in, doing his job: being a seagull.
Let me ask you a question; was he dressed like this?
"Yeah, he was. So?"
Jesus, man.
"That's what bicyclists wear!"
Why?!? What's the point? Optimal work out performance results? Rocky Balboa won the world heavyweight boxing championship by working out in this ensemble...
You can't argue with history.
I just hope this doesn't blow back on you some day.
"How would it 'blow back' on me?"
What if some day, you find yourself stranded alone on a desert island, starving to death? Who is more likely to find you, recognize your plight, fly back to the mainland, pick up some french fries, fly back and drop them in your mouth? A bicyclist or a seagull? Keep in mind, the seagull can do all of this without squishing up his private parts and cramming them into a spandex romper, strapping on his helmet and filling up his $85 titanium water bottle with a charcoal filter.

"Does a seagull even have private parts to squish up?"
Maybe the seagull is a female! Ever consider that possibility? Sexist!
"I don't believe a seagull would ever do something like that for another living creature. They're gluttonous scavengers, motivated entirely by keeping themselves fed."
Yeah, well, at least they aren't bicyclists!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Happy my birthday to you!

In honor of my birthday in February, Side Splitters Comedy Club sent me an email offer for two free tickets to an upcoming show.

How nice of them!

I selected the show with headliner Chris Roach on Friday, February 17th at 8:00PM. But, uh-oh, I can't sit there and watch that show, BECAUSE I'M HOSTING IT! Silly me, I totally forgot!

Well, what's done is done; might as well let someone enjoy my birthday present and profit from my stupidity. Anybody who expresses interest in wanting these tickets between now and my actual birthday (Monday February 6) will be entered into a drawing to get them. Maybe leave a comment here. That seems like a good way (death threats and ads for knock-off sunglasses will not be considered for obvious reasons).
If you're the only person who does that, your odds of winning are REALLY good! If nobody does it, it'll be my saddest birthday ever and I've had some really sad birthdays. So everybody wins!! Yay!
Did I mention that these are really good seats? These are really good seats. Not in the front row, because I know some people are afraid of that, but very close to the stage.

(w/ your host Clark Brooks and special guest TBA)
Feb 17, 2017
8:00 PM 
(Doors at 7:30 PM)
Side Splitters Comedy Club
12938 North Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL 33618
(813) 960-1197

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Thank you, Burger King!

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this or not, but I'm pretty much completely off of fast food. I might not have, because I'm not one of these people who feel a need to share every last nuanced detail of my personal life. Then again, I could have posted a 700 word post about it because I'm a self-obsessed jackass who is just as prone to oversharing as anyone else. Who knows? Sure, I could do a quick search and find out for sure, but I don't want to.

The point is I don't eat food from fast food restaurants anymore. Mostly.

SOME BRIEF BACKGROUND: I lost most of whatever attraction I had to fast food (Convenience? Value? Quality? All myths) once when I was eating something from Checkers that was just awful. Three bites into whatever horrendous, hot, salted lard lump from a colorful paper bag, shoved at me through a window by some sullen teenager, I just became disgusted and threw it in the trash. I didn't ask for my money back, choosing instead to let it be a life lesson. "Man, Checkers is straight-up garbage." Since then, I cut way, way back on anything allegedly edible purchased from a drive-thru.

But I'm human and weak. And the other day, for whatever reason, I found myself craving a Whopper (with cheese), the flagship burger from Burger King. Nostalgia? Advertising? Self-loathing? All I know is I wanted one.
Here's what it looks like, according to Burger King...
That is one good looking hamburger sandwich! The perfect sesame-seeded dome on top. Sweet creamy mayo. Lettuce so healthy that it appears to be growing on the sandwich itself, like the ivy on the outfield walls at Wrigley Field. Bright, vibrant tomatoes. Cool onion slices, some crispy pickles and ketchup lying on the burger itself, all on top of a soft foamy bottom bun.
What an aesthetically inviting meat item! I wanted one!

So I went to my neighborhood Burger King and ordered myself a Whopper with cheese.
And this is the exact item that I received...
Quite a difference, eh?
Of course I was disappointed, but I thought, "Maybe they just screwed up. They just got the order wrong and slapped a piece of meat between the (deflated, mangled, fissured) buns. I know there are psychos out there who order that kind of thing on purpose. No problem, it's an error that can be fixed."
But then I lifted the top bun, and I swear to you this is true, all the stuff was there! Lettuce, mayo, tomatoes, onions, pickles, ketchup and cheese. None of it looking like anything from the top picture, though. It was all just kind of...droopy. But it wasn't an employee error. Whoever made it, did so exactly as the recipe demands. Can't blame the craftsman if all he has to work with is a set of droopy tools.

I didn't complain. I didn't ask for my money back; technically, they gave me what I ordered. Even though this isn't a burger that should be presented as the signature menu item of a successful global corporation that's been in business for decades. This is a burger that's fallen on hard times and now blows guys in the restroom at the bus station for crack money. As such, I just threw it in the trash and left.

But thanks, Burger King. Sincerely. Because of you, I think I'm finally completely cured from any desire whatsoever to visit a fast food restaurant ever again.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Why I'm not performing at any of the Presidential Inauguration festivities

Donald Trump will be officially sworn in as the 45th President of the United States tomorrow. Leading up to the ceremony and all the galas celebrating the event has been talk of all the performers who will not be participating.

I'm one of them and I'd like to use this forum to explain why.

First of all, I need to be very clear about this: I wasn't asked. Not only was I not asked, I'm sure I wasn't even considered. I'm positive of that. That's because there's no good reason that I would be. Ever. I'm not exactly a "name" and as such, I'm not showing up on any kind of radar that would make anybody consider saying "let's get this guy" for a high profile event like a Presidential Inauguration or even anything bigger than a medium-sized wedding reception. At this point in my comedy career, I am getting paid to perform but I'm also subject to being bumped by a kid ventriloquist at any given gig. That's where I am in the grand scheme of things.
"Okay Clark, you can still do 10 minutes but you'll be following Jimmy and His Pal Scratchmo."
So yeah, that's a big part of it. The biggest part of it, if I'm being honest, which I am. There was no invitation nor even a slight chance that there would ever be an invitation.

Even if I had been invited, (and barring a late phone call today, it looks fairly certain that I won't be) I would have said no thanks. That's because I simply don't think Trump is qualified in any way whatsoever to serve as the President of the United States and in no way do I want to offer anything remotely resembling validation of him assuming that role. There are dozens of examples of his erratic, ego-driven behavior, complete lack of self-control and utter resistance to being held accountable for any of it. Any one of those should give a reasonable person pause and I don't need to detail them again here. Safe to say I'm appalled at all of it and I'm horrified that he's going to be in a position to do real harm to people, not only in terms of their access to hard-earned Constitutional rights but his total lack of sound judgment in all areas.

Not me, of course. I'm a white, heterosexual male. In all likelihood, I'll be fine, as always.
Unless, you know...
I like to think beyond my own personal preferences and desires when it comes to big things that affect other people, though. And not because I believe that I'm some superior person who is qualified to look down and judge others due to the stellar job I'm doing as a human being. Far from it. I frequently wear underwear that is in such bad shape that it takes effort to determine what holes the legs go through but I don't throw them away because the waistband is intact. 

I am a severely flawed individual. 

However, I look at history and times when people fought oppression and injustice, applied those instances to me and my life and how I think I would have responded and I've always found myself on the right side of these disagreements. Every time. So I think I have pretty good discretion when it comes to knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Granted, in most of these incidents, with the benefit of hindsight, it's hard to understand why there were ever "sides" in the first place. 
It remains to be seen how this all plays out, but based on my grasp of historical context, my understanding of current events and, most importantly, my conscience, I feel good about the choices I'm making around all of this.

People have accused me of hoping Trump will fail, a foolish proposition because his failure affects us all. Well, I don't necessarily want him to fail because that is true. Anything he fucks up is going to be fucked up for everybody. It's just that he's shown me nothing to indicate that he is capable of succeeding in terms of acting in the best interest of a common good. He can't even make it through a week without getting his feelings hurt by skits on Saturday Night Live. Jesus Christ!
Also, if my ability to hope for things had any actual power behind it, I wouldn't give a shit who the President is.
Most of the people who accuse me of that also say I'm too politically correct and therefor, what is wrong with America, just because I don't sprinkle my vocabulary with words like 'retard', 'faggot', 'cunt' and 'nigger' and my belief that while life will never be completely fair for everybody, if the resources are available to help people, they should be used for that. I'm pretty okay with standing in opposition to those people.

I came across this on Facebook the other day:
"It is a mistake for Democrats to boycott Trump's inauguration. When MLK fought segregation he went TO the places that didn't want him. If you are feeling disenfranchised disassociating yourself will only strengthen the disenfranchisement. If you choose to look at Trump as the enemy it is wiser to share champagne than spit it back at him."
Okay. That's an opinion and the individual who posted is certainly entitled to it. I'd just like to point out one tiny but significant difference; when MLK and other civil rights activists visited difficult areas, it wasn't to help celebrate their accomplishments. And he sure as shit didn't drink champagne with oppressive people.
"I know guys, but trust me, the meatloaf here is terrific!"
The point is, doing the right thing not only isn't always easy, I'm not sure it ever really is. But I'm not here to tell anybody what to do or how to think or even to try to exert influence over their opinions. All I'm saying is my eyes are open, my conscience is clear and I believe the decisions I make are sound.

Anyway, that is the reason I will not be among the people performing at any of the Presidential Inauguration festivities tomorrow and this weekend.
Well, I mean, mostly because I wasn't invited and there wasn't a prayer on earth or in heaven that I would be. That's, like 99%, of it, but the other stuff too. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Let's Fix It!

Welcome to Let's Fix It!, the show where you call in with something that's broken and we work together... to fix it! I'm your host Bob and I'm told we got a whole bunch of things that need fixing today, so let's get right to it.
It looks like our first caller is Laura, phoning in from Twin Peaks, Washington.
"Hi. Thanks for taking my call. I have a ceiling fan that isn't working right."
Pesky ol' ceiling fan, eh? Heh heh! What seems to be wrong with it?
"I actually sent over a video because it would be a lot easier to show you than tell you."
Is that right? Do we have that video? Oh, we do? Well, let's take a look-see!

Oh my.
Generally, you don't see that kind of thing in a ceiling fan. They're pretty simple. You wire them into your home's electricity, mount them to your ceiling and pull the chain. If the blades spin, it's working. if not, it isn't.
"So what should I do?"
Well, I don't have a lot of experience with what appears to be some sort of otherworldly, malevolent presence inhabiting a common household appliance and somehow speaking to you through it. I guess the best advice I could offer is to set your house on fire, get out of there and never go back.
"Wow, Bob. Wow."
Sorry I couldn't be of more help. But hey, good luck Laura! Coming up after the commercial break, Carol Anne from Cuesta Verde in Orange County, California needs help with a malfunctioning television set! So stay tuned!