Thursday, July 21, 2016

This again? Yep. #CLBOTB

Welcome to the one and only plug I'm doing for this year's Creative Loafing's "Best of the Bay Award" on behalf of myself.
Voting is open now and the only award I care about winning is "Best Local Blogger", and that's just because I have 10 years invested in it now, so an award would be kinda nice but it's not that big of a deal. Unless I win, of course, then it's huge.
I don't even know if I'm nominated in anything else and I honestly don't care. I'm not trying to influence you other than to say that if you plan on voting and you happen to come across the blogger category (it's located under "People, Places and Politics") and you can't think of someone else to toss a vote at*, I'll take it. That's all.
Also, please follow the rules...
"THE FINE PRINT: One (1) ballot per email address. CL reserves the right to disqualify ballots in cases of ballot stuffing, inactive (read: fake) email addresses, or other blatant attempts to game the system. Just be cool."
I don't for a minute think anybody would do any of that and I only mention it because at least one local radio co-host is still jammed up that I won a couple of these things last year. But he pronounces my name correctly when he goes on the air and accuses me of being a huge fraud and a cheat so that's fine too.

* If you're stumped and would like some additional suggestions, here are a few...
  • BEST LOCAL ACTIVIST: Mariella Smith
  • BEST PODCAST: Spike On The Mic
  • BEST LOCAL ACTRESS: Vivienne Brown
(All of these entries should be on the ballot because I nominated them. If they're not, um, vote for someone else or nobody, I guess.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Looks like I... made it?

Sometimes I post jokes on Twitter. In doing so, I've always been aware that I was kind of casting them out into the world of public domain, where there's a threat that they could be poached by anybody who might seem so inclined to do so. I never really worried about it, though. It was something I knew could happen but didn't really expect it to happen, I guess.
You would think that I wouldn't be surprised by what I came across the other day...

This was what I posted to Twitter on July 13:

And yesterday (Monday, July 18), I stumbled across this on Facebook:
But I was surprised.
Wow. Verbatim! My joke, stolen, completely word-for-word.
I guess this means I've crossed over some kind of writer-ly, comedy threshold. Like Michelle Obama, I've been plagiarized! Like anybody who catches the attention of Josh "The Fat Jew" Ostrovsky, I've been ripped off! Should I be pissed off or honored? Because I'm a little bit both. Honored, because on some level, the idea of someone thinking enough of something I wrote that they would want to steal it, leave my name off of it and attempt to pass it off as their own is flattering. But pissed off because, well, you didn't write that, motherfucker. 
More pissed than honored, actually. 
Yeah, definitely pissed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A brief comparison of argumentative styles, then vs now

Things have changed. Whether for the better or not is open to individual interpretation. What can not be questioned is that things are different. For example,
This is how things used to go when there was an argument...

"I would like to assert that (...) is a problem."

"I would like to challenge your assertion by saying (...) isn't a problem at all."

"Here is a list of reasons why I feel that it is a problem."

"I too have a list of reasons, and that list refutes your claim."

"I would like to buffer my list of clinical reasons with a number of personal experiences I've accrued throughout my life regarding this matter and why I am emotionally invested in it."

"Being as I am a different person than you, my life experiences and emotions vary from yours."
Back and forth like this for an indeterminate period of time until one of the following conclusions was reached:

  • One person conceded defeat; "Your unique perspective has brought factors to my attention I had not previously considered and I have changed my mind. Thank you." (this rarely happened)
  • A civil stalemate was reached: "I'm afraid we're at an impasse. While I disagree with your opinions, I appreciate you sharing them with with me and giving me an opposing view to think about. Thank you." (this happened sometimes)
  • A less-than-civil stalemate was reached: "Well, fuck you then." (this happened a lot)

This is how things go when there is an argument now...

"I think..."

That's it. We don't bother with preliminaries any more. No time for playoffs, we're going straight to the Super Bowl.
Are you against gun control? Well, that means you support murdering innocent people including children.
Do you support the idea that Black Lives Matter? Well, that means you support murdering innocent police officers and their children.
All or nothing, white or black. No room for nuance or flexibility whatsoever. All in, baby! Go friggin' huge or go home. You're either on my side or you're a monster.
Quicker? Definitely.
More entertaining? Hmm, maybe. Sometimes.
More effective? Doubtful.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Please join me at this (FREE) show!

On Wednesday, I saw this on Facebook:
Of course I was interested so of course I commented. And then this happened:
End result: I rounded up some comics and we're going to put on a show! On a Saturday night! For free!!
"A Night of Laughs with Clark Brooks and Friends"
Saturday, July 9 - 9:00 PM
Sacred Grounds Coffee House
4819 E. Busch Blvd, Tampa

Who are these "friends" of mine, you ask? First, let me assure you that each and every one of them is from this planet, That is my promise to you: this show will feature nothing but 100% Earthling performers. Unless aliens come here, assimilate themselves into our culture and prove to be funnier comedians, I will always be #EarthFirst when it comes to promoting comedians.
Suck it, Neptune. For now.

Here's the line-up of soon-to-be-your-favorite comedians, along with some Fun Fakts® to help you fall in love with them that much easier:
Dillon's last name starts with a vowel!

There may be three of him, but he is only one of them!

Becca's hobbies may include bee keeping and macrame! Or they may not. I have no idea!

Rob's beard is categorized as a "carry-on" item when he travels!

Tyler "plans" to "vote" in the "upcoming" election! (Good luck with that, buddy! #EarthFirst)

Among his favorite things to eat, Colin lists "food"!

Mike is probably not a Unabomber!

Melissa's favorite African rainforest lizard is the Tokay gecko

Todd has not told me that he won't beat the living daylights out of me if I make one more remark about his hot wife, so this isn't one of those!

Zac is the proud owner of some of the dumbest t-shirts I have ever seen in my life! (Pictured: not one of those dumb t-shirts)

And then there is I, me, who will serve as your humble and affable host.
I'm old!

There you have it. A dozen people, on a mission to make people LOLZ for zero monies. 
Join us, won't you?

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Home of the chickens

I was at The Bunker in Ybor last Friday where I heard some manbun-sporting bearded doofus with a bowtie say this:
"So, like, what's up with all these random chickens?"
In case you don't know ...and if you don't live around here, you probably don't... Ybor City is Tampa's party district and home to drag queens, shoe lickers, drunks, drug addicts, comedians, musicians, goths, gang bangers, street preachers, club kids, people who fold palm fronds into crucifixes, and chickens.

There are chickens all over the place.
Do I find that hilarious? Of course I do. Barnyard animals on the loose in an urban environment is always inherently comical. And chickens are the most ridiculous of all the barnyard animals. Still, I recognize and respect the chickens and their place in Ybor lore.

Ybor City was Tampa's first settled neighborhood and was the hub of the cigar industry with which Tampa has always been associated. But just like everywhere else, things in Ybor got tough during the '30s...
"The markedly decreased demand for cigars during the Great Depression of the 1930s had serious consequences for Ybor City. Many smokers found themselves unable to afford luxury items and switched to cheaper cigarettes, weakening the neighborhood's dominant industry and starting the area on a slow economic and social decline.
As occurred elsewhere, many businesses laid off workers or closed altogether and many banks failed. To help keep food on the table during hard times, many residents of Ybor City plowed under their yards or vacant lots to plant vegetables and bought cows, goats, and chickens to provide milk, eggs, and meat for the family, with any surplus sold around town. Interestingly, the descendants of those chickens still roam the area." - Wikipedia
That's right, these chickens have family roots in Ybor that go back almost 100 years and they've lived through some shit. The cows and goats are long gone but the chickens remain. Probably because the people who owned them died trying to catch and eat them. It's no small feat to be delicious and live through a period where all the humans around you are starving. Goats and cows don't move fast enough to get through something like that. But chickens are quick and nimble. And now Ybor City is theirs.
So show some respect. This is where the chickens live. You're just passing through. You're the random one in this equation, you dime-a-dozen PBR-swilling hipster poseur tourist.
Welcome to Ybor City.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

PLUG: Somebody else's funny web site

My friends and fellow local comedians Colin Means and Zac Townsend have launched their own comedy web site, The Hungover Achiever. They've already posted quite a bit of content in the form of Onion-esque fake news articles but they have plans to do more with it.
"It's basically going to be a satire website, making fun of things. We're thinking of putting up a weekly comic strip thing, maybe some funny videos." - Zac
"Satire's kinda our bread and butter right now, but ultimately the goal of the site is to just be funny, so we'll probably do different types of content. Lists and whatnot, probably along with some videos like Zac said. We don't want to just be another satire site trying to be The Onion." - Colin
Both of them are very funny but they're absolutely terrible when it comes to self-promotion so I'm trying to help drive people to their site, which I'm happy to do as long as people don't stop coming to my site.
Here's a picture of me teaching them things they need to know about how to produce and maintain a high-quality, first-class funny web site. Also about comedy and life itself.
 It only looks like they're ignoring me and walking away.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

My old school

Last year, my old high school in Benton Harbor, Michigan, received national attention because the football team had a historic, storybook season.

Led by formerly retired head coach Elliott Uzelac, the Tigers had their first winning season since 1989 and made the playoffs for the first time in school history. Here's a link to a nice feature that ran on ESPN.

Obviously, I don't live there anymore but I continue to follow the school's teams in the news. As this story was building, I'd see pictures of coach Uzelac.
I decided I wanted one of those caps. So I called athletic director Fred Smith, explained I was a Class of '82 graduate and I'd like to buy a cap to support the program. We made some small talk and eventually he offered to send me one in exchange for me coming back home to speak/perform at the athletic department's golf tournament and dinner fundraiser. Of course I said yes. You can't ever expect an answer of "no" when you offer a comedian any kind of stage time. I got my cap a few months ago and last week, for the first time in many, many years (I moved to Tampa in '86 and have been home exactly once since), I went back to Benton Harbor last week and this is what happened.

I did some sightseeing...
Silver Beach in nearby St. Joseph. That's the pier and lighthouse way off in the distance.
Parts of downtown actually look pretty good. This is off of Territorial Avenue, which used to be known as "The Strip" and was not a good place to be,

I visited some old haunts...
It is impossible to calculate how many baseball/football/basketball/hockey cards I bought at this place over the years. Thousands and thouands. They don't carry them anymore. Probably because they don't come with a stick of pink, powdered, brittle "chewing gum".

There's a car wash on M-139 that used to have a mannequin out in front named "Big Wally". He had an animated right arm and would wave a flag all day. Eventually his arm broke but they left him out there with just a steel rod nub waving up and down without a flag. It was very sad and hilarious. This is Big Wally 2.0 I guess. 
I treated myself to a tour of the high school by just walking right in and looking around.

This looks EXACTLY the same as it did over 30 years ago.

But the gym is a lot more orange than I remember it.
I sampled the local cuisine...
Henry's: Still very inexpensive, still awesome. Bought a t-shirt here.

This is a Roxy's double deluxe, my favorite burger of all time, with a side of fried mushrooms. The secret (to the burger) is chopped green olives. It actually was a little disappointing. I may have hyped it up too much in my mind.

Blue Moon ice cream NEVER fails to live up to expectations, though!
The tour book I picked up in my hotel lobby promised even more excitement...
...but I just didn't feel up to partying with accountants.

Then it was time for the big event, the reason I was there.
I'm on the list. No backing out now.

Silent auction items. Hey, I wonder where that sweet blue sweater (autographed by Anton Stralman) came from?

Athletic director Fred Smith with opening remarks

This is women's basketball coach Lisa Gondrezick. I don't think she remembered me but we were in school together at the same time.

I got to meet coach Uzelac...
...and wound up in the paper the next day.
Pretty nice visit/vacation. I don't know when or if I'll go back, though. I felt kind of weird there. A lot of things look exactly the same but a lot of things are completely different. At any rate, different people are doing the things and patronizing the places that I used to. I felt like a tourist in my own hometown. Like it was a ghost town where I was the ghost. A little unsettling and not what I was expecting from a trip "home". Oh well. 
Go Tigers!