Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Comedians hindering comedians

I've written about my pal Cam Bertrand before. Cam is now officially an award winning comedian. I'm very happy for him and very proud of him.

In the tightly-knit comedy family, we try to help each other out whenever we can, if it isn't too much problem and/or we feel like it. That may or may not come at a price sometimes. So when Cam mentioned to me that he had never attended a professional hockey game before and that he would like to do so, I was thrilled to respond that I was in a position to help make that happen. All he had to do was one little tiny thing when he picked up the tickets...

Look how genuinely painful that was for him to say that!
Great job by Missy Davis, Megan Gardner and Nicole Nastwold in helping torture him and capture it all on video.
I love it! And I'll pay for it at some point, but that's okay. Totally worth it.

Yes, they were good seats. There was also a VIP laminate from a recent Kanye West concert in there, because Cam loves Kanye and I'm actually not a total dick.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

(One of) My problem(s)

This happened:
I was buying some fruit at the grocery store, a little tub of melon and strawberries because sometimes, yes it's true, I eat that kind of thing for dinner. I put it on the conveyor belt at the register, turned around to look at something and it fell off. I still don't know how that happened but the tub hit the floor, opened, and the pieces of fruit you see here fell out.
I felt terrible. Not like, "Oh darn it" terrible. Like TERRIBLE terrible.
Terrible for wasting the fruit. Terrible for not being able to eat that fruit. Terrible for making a mess. Terrible that a store employee had to come and clean it up. Terrible for being such a klutz. Terrible for wasting the efforts of the farmers who grew and picked that fruit. Terrible! For hours. Seriously, this ruined my night.

I know how stupid that sounds.
I know that because it is stupid. I know it is. Accidents happen, and piddly little ones like this happen often. Everyday to almost everybody, all the time. It's no big deal and life moves right along. Very few people get upset about it and virtually no one stays upset about it. Not me, when it comes to me though. When it comes to me, I hate myself for stuff like this. Hate! In fact, if somebody else did it, I wouldn't even take note of it. Not if I do it though. No, if I do it I have to go home and brood about it for hours, to the extent that I have trouble falling asleep.
No, I'm not kidding.
And yes, again, I know it's stupid.
I'm positive that this kind of thinking has held me back from achieving more in life. And I know how stupid that is too. Guess what? I feel terrible about that too!

I've always been kind of clumsy, or at least not very graceful. Dad, when he wasn't annoyed by my klutziness, seemed to find great humor in it. He'd gleefully point out how disproportionately big my feet were or how I swam like I was in a fight with the water. Loudly, in front of whomever happened to be around at the time. That made me self-conscious then and maybe it stuck with me, but I don't know. I have zero qualms about hopping up on a stage a couple times a week and telling total strangers stories about myself where I come off far worse than somebody who spills fruit at a grocery store.

I don't know what any of this "means" in terms of defining person, who they are, what they do in the big picture of life itself. I just know it's one thing that annoys me about myself and I wish I could stop wasting time and energy on it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Fixing Luke Cage

Netflix recently released the show "Luke Cage", chronicling the adventures of the legendary Marvel super hero of the same name (aka "Power Man"). It's a good show (I'm two episodes in to the initial 13 of this first season) but apparently some people have a problem with it. A very specific group of people and one very specific problem with it, that is...
Yes, once again the cry of "NOT ENOUGH WHITE PEOPLE" has been sounded.
Per ushe.

Now, I've been reading comic books since the '70s when Luke Cage looked like this...
If you're going to wear yellow boots, you'd better be a bad ass.
...and the basic reason he exists is because he's black. More than any super power he possesses and his interactions with other characters in the Marvel Universe (he's worked with the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and the Defenders as well as frequent team-ups with his pal Iron Fist and being married to Jessica Jones), his being a black man is really his raison d'ĂȘtre. That's not something for which Marvel apologizes, nor should they. It's perfectly fine for there to be a black super hero. Of course it is. Black people read comics and there's no good reason whatsoever that there shouldn't be heroes that look like them. None.

But hold on a minute. Maybe (white) people complaining have a valid point. This isn't a comic book, this is a television show. And nobody (white people) should ever be subjected to having to watch television that doesn't represent them or their interests. How is someone (a white person) supposed to identify with characters (black people) and situations (black people doing stuff) with which they aren't immediately familiar and comfortable?
Nobody has ever had to deal with circumstances like that!
Let's all settle down, before this becomes a whole "thing", okay? I think we can resolve this by just making a couple of minor tweak-olas. You know, so everyone can sit down together and enjoy the program like the crazy, colorful, wonderful, melting-pot patchwork quilt with no more racism that we like to think we are sometimes.

  • A central plot point of the series involves a corrupt politician raising funds to open a community center named after Crispus Attucks. Let's change that to a community center named after Jack Nicklaus. Attucks was killed during the Boston Massacre and is widely considered the first casualty of the American Revolutionary War. Nicklaus has won 18 major golf championships. That's pretty much a wash.
  • In the show, Luke Cage operates out of a barber shop in Harlem, where he works doing various janitorial tasks. An easy fix is to move his base to a cute "indy" coffee shop in Brooklyn. Is anyone going to try to make the argument that Power Man would enjoy sweeping floors and doing laundry more than sipping a nice pumpkin spice latte? I think not.
  • Casting. Okay, there are lots and lots of black actors playing lots and lots of black characters. How about if we lighten (HA HA!) that up just a wee little bit?

Those aren't bullet holes; it came that way from Old Navy.

  • Not ALL of the characters have to be white. It's a super hero show so there are lots and lots of bad guys. Those could all be played by black actors and I don't think (white) people would even notice. 
  • Okay, maybe not all the bad guys. There should probably be some diversity (white people) when it comes to the high-profile villains who have lots of screen time and memorable, meaningful dialogue.

Oh, that's much better. I think (white) people will sleep much easier once these simple changes are implemented.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Ridiculously Inconsistent Endorsement

If anybody ever asked me questions about politics, they might ask questions like these:
"Clark, for whom are you voting?"
"Clark, who is the best candidate?"
"Clark, whose side are you on?"
Those are excellent questions, but nobody asked me so I don't have to answer them. And for that reason, the candidate I have decided to endorse is...
Joshua Santos
for Tax Collector

Here's a handy Q and A with A's to answer all your Q's

Q: Is he a Democrat or a Republican?
A: I don't know, but I did find this photo of him...
Pictured (L to R): Elephant statue and Joshua Santos
Maybe he just likes elephants. Or statues of animals.
Q: Who knows?
A: Who cares?

Q: In what county is he running?
A: Any of 'em. All of 'em. He's not actually on any ballots so you're going to need to write him in. J-O-S-H-U-A. S-A-N-T-O-S. Just vote for him. Wherever he gets elected, he'll show up to do the job of Tax Collector, which is collecting taxes.

Q: Is he qualified for this position?
A: Of course he is. Just look at him sitting behind this government desk, made of marble and wood.
Pictured (L to R): Joshua Santos

Q: Whose desk is that?
A: No idea.

Q: Then why is he sitting there?
A: I don't know but look how much fun he's having. And isn't that what matters?

Q: What are his policies?
A: The other night, he told me about a bunch of laws that he plans to change once he's in office. I don't remember what they were and I'm pretty sure that a Tax Collector can't even do any of the things he said, but he said stuff and it sounded pretty good and that's what matters. So, yeah.

Q: But where does he stand on the issues?
A: He is for them. Many of them. Not all of them. Some of them, he is against. He is a reasonable man.

Q: Is he a man of the people?
A: Yes, he is. He's friends with at least two police officers and at least one black man.
Pictured (L to R): Joshua Santos, a cop, a black man, another cop.

Q: Why are you endorsing Joshua Santos in this election for the position of Tax Collector?
A: Let me tell you a little story. I was at an open mic in Ybor City a while back with a bunch of comedians and we were throwing back some brewskis, as is our wont. Joshua Santos approached, drinking a martini. Bright green liquid in a fancy glass with a long stem. Behind our burly mugs filled with frothy amber goodness, we proceeded to hurl invective at him, questioning his virility and manhood, which are the same thing but we questioned both of them. Josh simply held his martini aloft and said "these are $2". Then this happened...
Pictured (L to R): "The 'Tini Boys"
Joshua Santos has the ability to bring us together and provide exactly the kind of leadership we need from a Tax Collector.

Wherever you live, vote for Joshua Santos on whatever day the election is. Because I said so.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The new originality

Things have changed.
That happens over time.
I understand. I get it. I'm okay with it.


I mean, I try to understand. I try to get it. I try to be okay with it.

Still, sometimes I'm thrown a curveball with which I can't quite connect. Apparently, concepts like "100%" and "original", concepts that I thought that by virtue of their self-evident, basic definitions were incapable of being altered, have somehow changed.

Definition of 100 percent:  completely, entirely

Definition of original:1 archaic :  the source or cause from which something arises; specifically :  originator
2 a :  that from which a copy, reproduction, or translation is made
b :  a work composed firsthand
As someone who actually does produce 100% original material every single time I do something, I was thrown when I came across this on Facebook yesterday:
Specifically, what this person was (is) upset about, is this:
If that looks familiar to you, it could be because you may have seen it pop up in an obscure little film franchise known as "Star Wars". Other people posted comments in support of the original poster's complaint, including one who said that that the original poster was a victim of copyright infringement. Against my better judgment, I posed a question:
"How is taking a logo from a movie that's been around for 40 years '100% original'?"
I received a reply:
"Original is when you create your car your own way, a way no one has seen in the cars seen the movie could have been around 1 billion years but if I created a style or a way my car looks doesn't give the right for someone else to copy it just cause they want too, create your own shit!!! Point blank!!!"
To which I responded:
"I guess. But try applying for a copyright, as discussed above, with that design and see how 'original' the lawyers think it is."
That drew this:
"Who cares about lawyers dude! , you'll have to go after the whole car scene! If anything the [sic] should pay h [sic] I mean and everyone else with these type of decals!"
Eventually, the original poster chimed in:
"Because of the fact that although the logo belongs to the movie, the design and concept behind a Star Wars themed car specifically tail light design for a Chevy Spark the exact same year was hand-painted... Those tail lights aren't available in any stores they were custom made... Its original because these aren't able to be purchased anywhere. There is no store or location where you can buy these."
At this point, the absurdity caused my sarcasm to kick in:
"Okay, I get it. Like recording a bunch of songs on a CD that can't be bought in a store makes it original. Got it."
Unfortunately, it didn't land on the intended level:
"Exactly doesn't make it good it just makes it original"

So remember folks, the guy selling mix tape CD's in the parking lot of your local gas station isn't a douchebag bootlegging hack capitalizing on the creativity of others, he's an artist trying to sell his new "100% original" album.
Be sure to catch my next "100% original" stand-up appearance where I'll be... umm, oh, let's call it re-interpreting... 30-year-old Eddie Murphy fart jokes that I've never stolen... err, re-interpreted... before! It won't be good, but I'll be able to defend it as "original".
Eddie can send me a check.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Justice: Meh.

Comedian Steve Miller does a very funny bit about reviews of national parks on Yelp. I was reminded of that the other day when I saw that a friend of mine "checked in" at the Hillsborough County Courthouse. 
Did you even know that you could rate the county courthouse?
Did you even know that the hallowed halls of local justice, where trials are held and other judicial matters are settled is a crummy joint that's only worth a lousy two and a half stars?
Two and a half stars! 
"I'll judge YOU, judges."

I didn't read the reviews, but I can just imagine...

Brian M. of Tampa: Let me start with the location. I get it, the whole urban-downtown-hip-chic aesthetic, but enough already. The architecture of this particular location with the high ceilings and a spacious lobby gives way to rooms with stately wooden paneling and no windows in them (wtf?!?). The whole thing sets off a heavy (and frankly, pretentious) "This is a place of authority where serious business is conducted" vibe. If that's what they're going for, okay, but it isn't very fun.
Also, what does a statue of a juggling mermaid have to do with the legal system?

I was there to argue my side in yet another dispute with my ex-wife, who is simply the worst. In spite of that fact that anyone with eyes could see (hellooooo!) and my well-presented argument about how my being two years behind in my child support payments is a form of protest and therefor protected by the First Amendment, the judge actually ruled against me!
Oh hai, Hillsborough County. I didn't know you could overrule THE CONSTITUTION!!!!!!

In fact, in addition to needing to pay all the past-due child support, I was given an additional fine ($200!!!) and sentenced to eight weeks of anger management training just because I threw a snake at her (my ex, not the judge).
Not even venomous.

Overall, this was an underwhelming experience and I do not look forward to going back yet again for the fifth time for similar bullshit. One star for cleanliness, one star for ample and convenient parking and a half star because they validate.  

Friday, September 09, 2016

Still too soon... but just wait

Sunday marks 15 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Here's how some are choosing to observe the occasion:

Walmart under fire for 'disgusting' 9/11 tribute

Troll couple slammed for cosplaying as the Twin Towers on 9/11

Mattress Company Condemned for ‘Tasteless’ 9/11 Commercial and ‘Twin Tower Sale’

Ouch, guys!
'Under fire!' 'Slammed!' 'Condemned!'
Too soon. Too, too soon.
But hang in there. Eventually, and I don't know when exactly, but 9/11 will be at least as much fun as a cruise ship running into an iceberg, with more than 1,500 people dying as a result:
"Weee! I'm plunging to an icy death! I wanna go again!"
And at that point, your favorite fast food chain (always happy to do their part when it comes to killing folks) may even sponsor you!