Friday, June 29, 2012

Another grumpy old white guy ranting about what happened yesterday...but probably not what you expect

Yesterday, shortly after it was announced (well, correctly announced) that the United States Supreme Court had upheld President Obama's health care bill, also known (often derisively) as "Obamacare", I started seeing pictures like these pop up on line...

These were posted by my liberal friends. Meanwhile, my conservative friends were talking about slavery, buying guns, socialism, nazis and Star Wars (some of them were able to tie all of those concepts together somehow). I saw and heard virtually no exultations about how happy people were that they or a loved one about was on their way to having health care or even appreciation that the system had worked in their favor and produced a favorable outcome that would eventually benefit the greater good. Just these gloating, stick-it-up-your-ass touchdown dance posters. I asked the person who had posted these two if this is what it was all about. Their reply: "Well, no. But they had it coming."
If you've ever picked up some philosophy from watching Clint Eastwood movies (and who hasn't?), you know "We all have it coming, kid".

Now let me take a minute to state for the record that if the outcome had been different, I know the shoes would have been on the other feet and these pictures and rhetoric would look very different but would essentially be exactly the same. I have zero doubt of that.
It truly makes me sad that for so many this is nothing more than a single play in an ongoing grudge match. It doesn't matter if the subject matter is health care, illegal immigration, energy, war, human rights. Those are just labels of individual battles so some people can keep score of who won and who lost over time and talk shit about it around a plate of chicken wings and some beers. For too many, this isn't life or death, it's Bears-Packers, Lakers-Celtics or Yankees-Red Sox. It's a sport where the object isn't to score points, it's to celebrate those points in the most obnoxious and antogonistic way possible. It's just something to get excited about and put on a colorful t-shirt and scream and holler. It's a hobby. A pasttime. 
In my humble opinion, this is the real reason things don't get done. We The People are more interested in the ancillary bullshit than the tasks at hand. The things that matter and why they do aren't nearly as important to us as telling the guys on the other side to suck it. As a result We get what We deserve.

Frankly, it's so discouraging that it makes me want to throw up my hands, say "screw it" and not particpate anymore, other than making fun of the whole situation in a sad and ironic way. However, rather than just give up, I think I'd rather make a wish. And my wish is that if your motive isn't to improve the lives of ALL your fellow human beings when you go to vote or campaign or protest, don't do it. Don't listen to those people who say, "the important thing is to just get out there and be active" because it's not. Of course, you should be an active participant in the democratic process if you believe in making the world a better place. I don't even need to know what that is. If it's to support your sincere and honest beliefs, by all means, join in. Otherwise, don't. Just sit out. If you're looking for a competetive hobby, go to the Y and learn to play chess. If you want to get a reaction from someone on television, write them a creepy fan letter. And if none of this applies to you, just stay home and masturbate to "The Price Is Right" or something. Please and thanks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Louie is at it again

About six months ago, comedian/writer/producer/actor Louis C.K. struck a blow on behalf of artists and consumers when he released the video of his latest stand-up special "Live at the Beacon Theatre" independently via his web site. Choosing to bypass corporate middlemen, he forfeited access to global distribution and marketing that companies like Warner Brothers (just as an example) can provide but was able to retain more actual profits for himself while simultaneously passing on significant savings to fans. "...Beacon..." sold for $5 at; by comparison, George Carlin's "It's Bad For Ya" was released by Mpi Home Video and is available from Barnes & Noble for $19.34. Now he's back and taking on TicketMaster and scalpers. Here's the announcement (complete with typos) he sent out via email Monday night:

hello folks! I'm going on tour this year from October through Feb. I'll be all over the goddamn place. This year, I'm trying something new, building on the fun, success and fan-benifit of selling my content online. We are selling tickets to this tour exclusively here on I only wanted to do this if there was a way, like with LIVE AT THE BEACON, that it could bring the price of tickets down and make them easier and less complicated to buy. We figured out a way.
Making my shows affordable has always been my goal but two things have always worked against that. High ticket charges and ticket re-sellers marking up the prices. Some ticketing services charge more than 40% over the ticket price and, ironically, the lower I've made my ticket prices, the more scalpers have bought them up, so the more fans have paid for a lot of my tickets.
By selling the tickets exclusively on my site, I've cut the ticket charges way down and absorbed them into the ticket price.

To buy a ticket, you join NOTHING. Just use your credit card and buy the damn thing. opt in to the email list if you want, and you'll only get emails from me.
Also, you'll see that if you try to sell the ticket anywhere for anything above the original price, we have the right to cancel your ticket (and refund your money). this is something I intend to enforce. There are some other rules you may find annoying but they are meant to prevent someone who has no intention of seeing the show from buying the ticket and just flipping it for twice the price from a thousand miles away.

Some of these rules may be a pain in your ass, but please be patient. My goal here is that people coming to see my shows are able to pay a fair price and that they be paying just for a ticket. Not also paying an exhorbanant fee for the privalege of buying a ticket.

Tickets across the board, everywhere, are 45 dollars. That's what you'll actually pay. In every case, that will be less than anyone has actually paid to see me (after ticket charges) in about two years and in most cases it's about half of what you paid last year.

The benifit for me is that I won't get angry emails from anyone who paid a ton of money to see me due to circumstances out of my control. That makes me VERY happy. The 45 dollars also includes sales tax, which I'm paying for you. So I'm making more or less depending on the state.

Another benifit to me is also one to you. I get your email address (if you opt in) when you opt in. You don't have to join ANYTHING to buy these tickets and if you opt in, youll only hear from me once in an old man's jizz-cycle.
Obviously none of this means anything if the shows aren't good. So that's up to me. As I do every year, I'll be performing a brand new hour (or more) on all of these shows.

Lastly, it was a real challenge to find venues around the country that could work with our exclusive ticketing service under these perameters. It means I'm playing in very new places. I really appreciate all of these theaters that are letting us give this a try.

Setting up this tour has been fascinating and difficult. this ticketing service is a brand new thing and I really fucking hope it works and that there aren't any problems. If anything comes up, please be patient.

Doing things this way means I"m making less than I would have made if I did a standard tour, using the usual very excellent but expensive ticketing service. In some cities I've had to play smaller venues and do more shows. But I like doing more shows and about a year ago I reached a place where I realized I am making enough money doing comedy so the next thing that interested me is bringing your price down. Either way, I still make a whole lot more than my grandfather who taught math and raised chickens in Michigan.

alright, that's it, folks. I'll be sending this message out to folks on the opt-in list and sending a separate email that lays it out much more simply with the proper links. I am doing this because when I emailed you about LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL, (which is still on sale for 5 dollars!) about half of the people who got the email really enjoyed the long, verbose, unedited message. The other half HATED it and would have preffered a price, a link, and me shutting the fuck up.

This way, you can read this if you like, or your can just see the massive shit-ball of text and throw it in the garbage, and focus on the simple email.

I hope to see you all on the road.
Louis C.K.
I got mine; November 29 at the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts here in Tampa and I can't wait!

Good (bye) morning.

Hi there. If you're a regular reader (thank you!), you may have noticed that I typically publish on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 6:00 and 7:00am (EST). Well, that's going to change.
Every time I publish, it's announced via Twitter which then updates my Facebook status. It's been brought to my attention that more people would see these announcements if they were conscious when they're made. This makes a lot of sense to me. So in an effort to increase my readership and make myself more world famous than I already am, starting today, I'll still publish on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays but between noon and 1:00pm (EST) instead of early in the morning. If this screws up anybody's breakfast routine, I'm sincerely sorry. If my readership increases significantly and I become even more world famous than I already am, I will treat you to an omelet.

Out with the old...

In with the new!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Complaints ain't what they used to be

As people, we love to complain, even though it doesn't seem like we're as good at it as we used to be. And by that I mean the things we choose to complain about. I'm not talking about those with real legitimate problems, whose lives are kind of awful and they really don't have the means at their disposal to do anything about it. Those people should be granted the slack of at least getting to bitch about it. But usually, those are the people who are least likely to do so. Instead, it's those with too many privileges to count who are just running their mouths to get attention because somehow, everything else they have just isn't enough. They want you to think they have it rough but they have no idea what that really means.
For example, it's not uncommon to hear someone start a sentence with "There's nothing worse than.." When I hear that, my mind is already flashing forward to how they're going to finish that statement. Being raped in prison? Abusing children? Genocide? A giant spider with Adolph Hitler's head? But what invariably follows is something mundane like "losing a sock" or "realizing your out of milk AFTER you've eaten a donut". Basically, things that wouldn't even qualify as a problem in most places on the planet where people somehow manage to get through life without knowing what socks or donuts are.
Recently, I walked into the break room at work and found a co-worker restocking the little bowl of coffee creamers. "Ugh, I have to do everything around here!"  Let me point out that this was in the break room at work, and not on the floor of a factory that fills little bowls with coffee creamers all day long. If she honestly believed what she said, I wonder what she thinks all the employees who weren't in the break room at that exact moment were doing.
Yep. Masturbating. Again.

An even better...and by better, I mean much, much worse...example is something said to me the other day:
"My cleaning lady keeps putting the toilet paper on the roll the wrong way."
Well, back to Guatemala (or wherever) for you then!

I'm assuming they mean that she orients the roll so that the toilet paper feeds from underneath instead of over the top. Because unless she's doing something with it that precludes you from being able to wipe your butt, absolutely no combination of words in that statement can be re-arranged to indicate a problem. That is, at absolute worst, an extremely easy-to-correct temporary suspension of a personal preference. I don't think it even qualifies as an annoyance. It certainly doesn't merit the expulsion of breath required to voice it as a complaint. I heard that and all I could do is ask for their address. When they asked why, I said, "so I can burn down your home and give you an idea of what a REAL problem is." After all, anybody who mentions they have a "cleaning lady" in the process of whining about something deserves to be stabbed to death with one of those little forks designed specifically for olives, because they probably have some.
Look, I get it. It's fun to complain (see: at least half of this very blog). And hyperbole is a great way to get attention (see: about three quarters of this very blog). But maybe, since there are actually situations that are truly horrible in the world, we could scale it back just a little? If not, can we at least get the rich people to shut the hell up?

Friday, June 22, 2012

A reason to celebrate

Last Sunday, Fathers Day, I treated myself to dinner at a small local restaurant I enjoy. I don't have a dad and I'm not a dad (if some German kid shows up unannounced on my doorstep, calling me "Daddy" and asking for money now, they're pushing 30 and better have a damn job of their own) but I felt like treating myself anyway. Also, there is a woman who works there, and, in the indelicate phrasing of my Uncle Leroy, I've been trying to get into her Snickers. I'll refer to her here as Dotty because while that isn't her real name, it's a good name for a waitress server. She's flirtatious and quick-witted, which I like, but so far, she has been immune to my charms, which I don't care for. Some days, I do think I make progress. Last Sunday was not one of those days.

I was eating my meal, which was delicious, when the people sitting at one of the larger tables broke into "Happy Birthday". This kind of things happens at restaurants all the time. A few minutes later, the same table started singing it again. Weird. And annoying. A few minutes after that, they started singing it a third time. I got Dotty's attention and she came over. "Can't you do something about that?", I asked.
"What? They're just singing 'Happy Birthday'."
"Yeah, three times now. We get it; it's somebody's birthday. Obnoxious."
"Actually, it's not. The kids wanted to sing to their daddy but there is no Happy Fathers Day song. It's cute!"
"So there's not even a birthday? Well, that's much worse. They're singing illegally then. You'd better take control of this situation before the authorities get involved."
"Why don't you stop being such a grump?"
She walked away before I could answer ("Don't want to") and went over to the big table and talked to the mom and dad. Was she telling them that I had complained? Good! I didn't care. There's nothing wrong with wanting to eat a meal in peace without people jamming their stupid behavior with their kids into my life and I'll be damned if I'm going to feel guilty about...
This inner reverie was interrupted by the appearance of two (what I'm legally required to describe as) adorable tow-headed children, a boy and a girl who were obviously brother and sister and could barely see the top of my table, plus another dumpy older kid a couple of years older who was probably a cousin or something.
"Can I help you?"
The little girl said, "That lady (Dotty) says you're angry because you don't have any kids and nobody loves you." Her brother quickly followed with, "Is that true?" I responded, "Honetsly, no. Right now, that is not the reason I'm angry." The older kid just stood there with an exceedingly stupid grin on his face. Before any other conversation could take place, the little ones launched into "Happy Birthday" much to the amusement of the doofus cousin and everyone else in the restaurant, especially the kids' parents and Dotty. They didn't know my name so when it came to the part where they were supposed to sing "happy birthday, dear Cla-ark..." they stopped, confused. I took the opportunity to end the song prematurely by applauding loudly and yelling "YAY!". The mom, still laughing, said, "I'm sooooo sorry. We're just having a little fun!" I replied, "That's your minivan out there, isn't it?" Before she could answer the kids yelled, "Happy Fathers Day!" I said, "Well gee, kids. That was fantastic! Now I know the real meaning of Fathers Day! That made me so happy that I'm going to go out and adopt a whole bunch of kids right away. And that nice lady right there (Dotty) is going to help me raise them. That's right! But first, since you did such a great job, she's going to serve you ice cream. As much as you want! Your mommy and daddy are going to pay for it. And the nice lady is going to pay for my dinner. Isn't that great?" The three kids and I screamed "YAY!" at the top of our lungs. They want back to their table and I got up and left as Dotty and the adults at the table glared at me.
Yep. Happy Fathers Day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Desperate pluggery

At the risk of making everyone sick of me by talking about me and what I'm doing (like it's soooo interesting), today I'm going to share with you the video of an appearance on The Mic Show on 1490 AM in Bradenton last Wednesday night. I was there with Vanity Styles and Rebekah Pulley to talk about Vanity's movie, "Desperate Fate". Vanity is an entertainer and we've been friends for a couple of years now. Some day soon, I'll dedicate a whole post to writing about my friendship with her because it's kind of interesting.
Rebekah and Vanity are long-time friends and former roommates. Rebekah is contributing music to the film and will have an acting cameo in it too. My involvement in the project is as a writer. It's Vanity's story but I have been formatting it as a script and adding some scenes and dialogue. It looks like I'll be acting in a (hopefully very) small role too. But here we are talking about that....among other things. As a major bonus, Rebekah performs three songs in the smaller clips that follow the first big one. If you haven't heard her music, this is a great chance to do so. Enjoy!

Many thanks to Mic and the crew. We had a blast!

Monday, June 18, 2012

As promised, new music!

Ronny Elliott is wrapping up his new album "I've Been Meaning To Write" and it should be available soon. Here's a link to the story behind the song I got to sing on. And here's a link to the silly story behind how I got to sing on it. Thank you Ronny and Rebekah, for letting me play along and not ruin your song...or if I did, at least not saying so when I was around.
Oh, and here's the song itself (be careful if at work; no dirty lyrics but there are some brief glimpses of folks' naughty bits in the video).

Friday, June 15, 2012

Why I'm probably doomed to be single

This is an example of what you're going to find at OKCupid Enemies, a Tumblr site that highlights some of the most...interesting...profiles found on OkCupid, which bills itself as "the best dating site on earth". In case you can't read the caption attached to this photo of a shirtless young man named Chad wearing a visor upside-down and backward while sitting on a garbage can, it says...
"My name is Chad, aka "The Alphabet". That is because I am the "alpha" male, and you can always "bet" on it."
See what Chad did there? Of course you do.

Here's the thing, though: I can't top that. I can't even compete with it. Presented as it is here, and on the Tumblr site, it comes off as an incredibly moronic thing to say about oneself and the natural instinct is to mock Chad and all the other people using online dating services like this as socially maladjusted dimwits. But I know people who've met and formed great relationships, including successful marriages, online. I can't mock proven results. I can't even mock anyone wanting to give it a try, even if their attempt is less than graceful. After all, what picture of myself would I throw out there that would be better? This?

And what clever turn-of-phrase could I craft that would draw the eye of an interested female to me from the likes of Chad? Put a gun to my head right now and I can't think of a single thing at all. I'd probably just rip off Chad:
"My name is Clark, aka "The Periodic Table of Elements". That is because I "period"ically have to be asked not to hang around that picnic "table" near the playground at the nearby "element"ary school." horrendous. As the youngsters say, I got no game. It's not that I've ever had a problem with being able to talk to women, as in have a conversation, but I've never been able to talk to women, as in "Hey baby, lemme talk to you". I lack the slickness required for that kind of predatory pursuit of female companionship, I guess. The phrasing of that last sentence should drive that point home pretty effectively, actually. 
So rock on, Chad. And all the rest of you online daters. Don't let anybody on Tumblr give you any shit. There's someone for everyone, right? If you find someone special, it doesn't matter how.
They look so happy together!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fresh and clean, angry and mean

Life isn't just golf and all-star recording sessions, you know. The other night, I had to do my laundry, at a laundromat. As far as people watching goes, the laundromat is the Super Bowl: there's always a chance you'll see something incredible but more often than not, it's a huge letdown. Not always, though.
When I got there, there was a very angry fellow who had apparently been waiting for me to show up so he could tell me what he thought about child molesters. This wasn't a completely inappropriate topic of discussion (although, I think that's all he wanted because I don't think he was doing any laundry), as the news that day was dominated by the arrests of 38 people trolling for kids on the internet in nearby Polk County and the opening of the Jerry Sandusky trial. But it also wasn't an interaction I welcomed, certainly not from a stranger at the damn laundromat (who wasn't doing laundry) for cryin' out loud. Besides, it wasn't even an interaction; I was forced into the role of one-man audience for his rant. I mean, there were other people there but they must have pretended to not speak English or something (or maybe they really didn't) and were being spared. I tried to dismiss him with half-hearted agreement; "yep", "you're right", "yep, that sure is terrible". But he kept right on, talking about how disgusted and angry he was and that "they should be put on an island" and what a terrible thing it was for him and taxpayers like him. "For example, I'm a good guy. I work hard. I'm no lowlife child molester. But I got my license revoked because of some DUIs and now I have to ride a damn bike. These perverts will get a roof over their heads and three square meals a day, though. Ain't that some shit? But I'm a heterosexual man over 21 years old and I know how to conduct myself responsibly." I don't know why I did what I did next. I knew better but I did it anyway.
I laughed.
"Ha ha ha ha ha ha!"
"What's so funny?"
"Well, that just isn't true."
"What isn't true?"
"That you know how to conduct yourself properly. Clearly, that's not the case."
"Are you calling me a child molester?"
"No, I'm referring to the fact that you have to ride a bike. People who conduct themselves responsibly don't have privileges, like drivers licenses, taken away."
"But at least I'm not some lowlife who tries to have sex with kids."
"Maybe not..."
"I'm not!!"
"...but you're not a responsible person either, are you?"
"Yes I am! I'm more responsible than some pervert."
"How many DUIs have you had?"
" did something wrong, got caught and did it again two more times. How is that responsible?"
"I am not a pervert!!"

After that exchange, he stormed out and I thought it was all over. But he came back about a half hour later. And while he didn't engage with me personally, he stomped around the laundromat, ranting loudly, far more unhinged and incoherent than before. Here are some highlights (these were the declarations I could hear, interspersed with unintelligible mumbling):
  • "I had a judo sensai for 15 years but I outgrew him."
  • "I haven't dropped acid in over a week."
  • "God. Damn. Faggot. Perverts."
  • "The weather report is a lie. So is Obama."
  • "I am a statistical anomaly."
  • "I lived next door to an Air Force captain. I know things."
  • "Ha ha ha ha ha...wait a minute...oh! Ha ha ha ha!"
  • "The science of it is going to hit you like a brick in the face, man."
Okay then.
After that, I left. My pants weren't even dry.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Golf with your friends!

My view, for most of the afternoon
"Golf is a good walk spoiled" - Somebody, a long time ago (but probably not Mark Twain)

There are a lot of good things about the game of golf. There's fresh air and exercise. There's camaraderie. You get to hit something smaller than you. My friend Marc, who is riotously funny, has been wanting to get together and play golf for some time, so yesterday that's what we did. Kind of.
I left my house at noon to meet him and his two sons at a golf course in Lutz, which is north of Tampa a ways, at one. That's PM, as in the middle of the day. In Florida, In June. Have you ever felt heat radiating up from the earth that's as intense as what's coming down at you from an enormous midday sun, as though the ground you're walking on is saturated with heat and overflowing with it? I felt that just walking from my apartment to my truck. That was my first indication of what I was in for.
I got out to the Lutz Executive Golf Center, which is not nearly as high falutin' as the name makes it sound. It's a lovely little nine hole, par three course with lots of hills and plenty of small ponds. The neighborhood around it is another story. The winding road that leads from the main drag to the course is dotted with mansions surrounded by high, wrought iron fences with gates that open and close via call box. The message they're sending is "Look at my house. Look at it!! Gaze upon the opulence...from out there, though, you schlub." Apparently rich people live in Lutz. I couldn't help laughing out loud when I passed a gated sub-community called Wellington Manor. There's no possible way to live in a place called Wellington Manor and be a completely insufferable assface of a snob. If you're not one when you move in, you'll morph into one soon after. Such is the power of a name like Wellington Manor. But the course is very nice, as is the man who was working at the pro shop. I asked him how much cart rental was and he said, "we don't have riding carts; it's only about 1,000 yards."
Settle down; golf course guy is not impressed.

Marc and his boys got there shortly after I did and we warmed up by hitting some balls on the driving range. Actually, we were more than warmed by simply standing outside. Because it was so hot, you see (I feel like I can't make that too clear). I hadn't played golf in at least eight years but after a few practice shots, I thought I felt good enough. We headed to the first tee and I suddenly thought I should stop at the pro shop and get some water to take with me. "No problem, I got it", Marc said and handed me a bottle. I put it in one of my bag's pockets and off we went.
First hole, I carded a five. All things considered, not bad. Second hole, my score was a H. Uh-oh...that can't be right. I was feeling dizzy and disoriented. Did I mention it was hot out there? Because it really, really was. I went to drink some water but the pocket was empty. It had fallen off somewhere along the first two holes. Double uh-oh. Marc gave me another one and I drank half and carried the bottle in my hand. I said, "I think I'm going to skip this hole. I'll walk with you but I'm not going to play." When they finished the third hole, I said, "Dude, I think I'm done. I am gassed." Marc, who is of the Jewish faith said, "dude, don't say 'gassed'". I finished the water but I realized I wasn't sweating. When it's hot outside (which it was, in case you haven't been paying attention), what's worse than being a completely disgusting, smelly, horrible sweaty mess is not sweating. That's overheating and a possible early indication of heatstroke and it's also something I've tried to convince some of you ladies of in non-golf related situations. Recognizing this, Marc directed me to a seat in the shade at the seventh hole tee box, where I waited for them as they played on. I was hoping a girl driving a snack cart would come by with some ice cold refreshment but a course that small doesn't have such a thing. At my heat-induced delirium worst, I think two girls did come along and ask if I wanted to play with them though...
The spot where I rested was nice and shady and between a soft breeze and occasional cloud cover, was actually very pleasant. I cooled off and relaxed and waited for Marc and the Boys, hoping they didn't get there TOO soon. When they showed up, Marc mentioned that I had made a wise choice as there was absolutely no shady rest areas on holes four through six. I walked with them to finish the round and we agreed to get together and do it again. I added the qualifier, "in January".
No doubt there are people with whom I grew up in the midwest who would say I've gotten soft. Of course, they're right. I've certainly lived down here long enough to be used to the heat by now. But in my defense, I hadn't been on a golf course since 2004 at least and it's entirely possible (likely) that I did not hydrate with the correct type of fluids the night before (if you know what I mean). Plus, if you don't live here, you don't know HOT!!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Outhouse to the penthouse: Where I was eight years ago last night

(I think it's safe to tell this story in public now. At least I hope so.)

Eight years ago last night (June 7, 2004), the Tampa Bay Lightning were facing the Calgary Flames in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. It was the most fantastic, incredible night I've ever experienced as a sports fan, although it definitely didn't start out that great.

I was not an employee of the Lightning at that time, but I was a huge fan, as I had been since the team began back in 1992. The NHL playoffs are two months of severe manic mood swings. Wins produce euphoric elation. Losses result in soul-crushing despair. Friends and co-workers would base decisions on whether or not to interact with me based on the team's performance the night before. Yeah, it was a big deal.
Being as I worked at the Sun Dome, an arena across town, I had peers, colleagues and friends in the Lightning organization, some of whom were able to hook me up with tickets for games during the regular season as well as the playoffs. Away games were spent at The Press Box, Tampa's oldest established sports bar. As the team advanced, tickets were difficult to get. When the whole thing boiled down to Game 7, a single winner-take-all contest to decide the whole thing, they were non-existent for freeloaders like me. However, one of my friends was dating an upper-level executive with the team at the time (he's actually in that photo at the bottom). She told me that she and others would be in a suite and if I could somehow find my way there, I was more than welcome to join them. Meanwhile, another friend who was actually an executive herself told me she didn't have tickets, but she would be willing to open a side door while looking the other way. Hey, 2/3 of a plan is better than nothing! Although that missing middle part was pretty important and would need to be addressed somehow...
I left work early and got downtown around 3:30 in the afternoon. True to her word, my friend opened the door and said "Good luck, I don't know you" as I hurried through. I quickly made my way to an elevator that took me to the floor where the suite was located. I found a men's room, locked myself in a stall, squatted on a toilet and read the Tampa Tribune, standing up every now and then to discourage pesky leg cramps. Occasionally, someone would come in and I would freeze like Lucas Haas in "Witness".

"Ohh shiii..."

But nobody ever challenged me being in there and later, when I was finally sure I could hear crowd noise out in the concourse hallway, I got up and tried to dart across the hall into the suite...but I'm not really a darter. I got nailed by an usher who wanted to see a ticket I didn't have. I told her I'd forgotten it and would go back and get it. I walked down the concourse a few feet, looked back and saw her step away from her post and doubled back quickly and got inside before she saw me. I was there before my friend, so I had to introduce myself to the other people in there, among them Lightning general manager Jay Feaster's wife Anne, head coach John Tortorella's wife Christene and goalie coach Jeff Reese's dad. No longer stressed about being discovered and getting thrown out (or arrested!) after hanging around a men's room for over four hours, I relaxed and helped myself to free chicken tenders, chips and spinach dip and ice cold beer, all while watching the Lightning skate to a 2-1 victory over Calgary to win the championship. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

I don't Like that

Recently, a co-worker who happens to be an aspiring writer used my computer. I found out when I visited Facebook and found out that I had "Liked" her romance novels.

Here's the thing: Sometimes at work, I visit Facebook. Sometimes, other people need to use my computer. Often, I don't log out of my account when I'm finished. This always leaves me at risk of people doing inappropriate things with my Facebook account. Okay, that's on me. I shouldn't do that and I should accept the consequences when I do. That's fair punishment. But be reasonable, folks. Change my profile photo to a picture of a dog's butt. Change my status to "I Heart Balls!" Sign me up for a bunch of Adolph Hitler fan clubs. Whatever. But don't presume to speak for me, making it look like I "Like" your shitty books, you hack. What makes it worse is I'm all about supporting fellow writers, or anybody indulging their creative pursuits, for that matter. If she had asked me to "Like" them, I would have done so happily. Hell, that's a lot easier than actually having to read them.
"Before I open this, I'm not going to find
 any moody, lovestruck vampires, am I?"
Instead, I'm going to do the opposite of "Like" them and help her. I'm going to un-"Like" (or hate) them and un-help (or hinder) her. And that's just a shame, because like I said, that's not my usual inclination.
Seriously, what kind of psycho does something like that? I'm not normally somebody who wrings their hands over this perceived wave of bad behavior spawned by the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Twitter isn't what makes people say stupid things on Twitter; stupid is what makes people say stupid things on Twitter. And it's the same way with Facebook not turning normal, rational people into assholes. Although, this situation has thrown me. It's like showing up uninvited at some kind of function and using it in an attempt to impose your personal preferences and beliefs on someone...just because you're an opportunistic, bottom-feeding dipshit. That kind of thing doesn't happen in the real world, does it?
Never mind.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The RAWR of the crowd

I love sports action photos. The images captured are often incredible but what I find really entertaining are the reactions of spectators watching the action. Sometimes, you can look at the same photo a hundred times and find something new going on in the crowd every time. Other times, you can spot something that completely draws your focus away from anything else going on in the photo entirely.
For instance this is what is currently my computer desktop wallpaper at work:

This is Martin St. Louis who plays for my favorite team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, celebrating after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks. Marty is truly a great player, easily one of the top five to ever play for a Tampa Bay team in any sport, which is why I chose it initially. But now, after looking at it dozens of times and studying it in detail, I find myself fixated on what's going on with this guy:

"Bra-a-a-ins...err, I mean, Go-o-o-o-al!"
 So it's no longer a picture of one of my favorite players celebrating a goal, it's now a picture of one of my favorite players seperated from a zombie by a pane of glass and a helmet.

Friday, June 01, 2012

If I started a bucket list right now, it would already be half finished

As much as I complain about it, I actually have a pretty cool life. I get to do some cool stuff, anyway. Because of some weird, mystic combination of knowing a bunch of different people who are engaged in a wide variety of activity, my big mouth and a pinch of Forrest Gump-like serendipity, sometimes I find myself with opportunities that clearly aren't earned on any kind of actual merit. Previously, this has resulted in things like getting to sit in a dugout with Brooks Robinson and Harmon Killebrew at an exhibition baseball game in St. Petersburg or riding through Times Square in a limo with Leeann Tweeden. More recently, this happened...

Over the last few years, I've gotten to know Ronny Elliott. Ronny is a musician's musician, in that while many people don't recognize his name, there's a chance that they own an album by somebody that he's played with, and the people whose names are on those albums probably know him. I'm not going to attempt to write a bio because I'll forget something important. If you're so inclined, you can read the one that's posted on his web site. I'll just leave it at mentioning that he opened for Jimi Hendrix.
Anyway, recently Ronny mentioned that he's recording a new album, his first in five years. As is my wont (for better or worse), I had to open my piehole: "Hey, I want to be on the new album!". Now, I'll point out that I was being completely sincere: I did/do want to be on the album, but that doesn't mean I expected to get the opportunity. I want to do all kinds of things but not every single self-indulgent whim that comes flying out of my mouth gets granted. More accurately, my bluffs often go uncalled, dismissed with a pat on the head...but not all the time.
Ronny told me that they would be in a recording studio last Friday and I was welcome to come by. Well, sure! Sounds like fun! Maybe I could contribute hand claps or bang on a tambourine or something. When I got there, Ronny met me at the door. "Are you warmed up?", he asked, gesturing to his throat. "Huh? Oh yeah. I was singing along to the Beatles on the way over. Ha ha!" "Good. Because you're up next. Rebekah already did her part. We just need to add you singing with her and that track is done."
Singing? Me? With who? Rebekah? As in Pulley? Yes. He actually wanted me to sing. Further, I'd be singing with the immensely popular and critically adored Rebekah Pulley (one of my favorites). Suddenly, the stakes were MUCH higher. But rarely have I been accused of favoring discretion over valor so I wasn't going to back out...unless I was given the chance, of course. Steve, the producer said to Ronny, "I don't know if you need more vocals. Maybe a (French term that I don't remember) would fit." "Yeah, definitely", I said, "I could do a (French term I don't remember). What is that?" "A (French term that I don't remember) is a brief spoken, not sung, part." "Oh right. Yeah, I should probably do one of those." Ronny said, "No, let him sing. It will be good."
They played the song for me and said "just sing the same part as Rebekah on the chorus" and put me in a room by myself with a microphone. I put on the headphones and realized the microphone could pick up everything. I immediately became self-conscious about my breathing and cocked my head at a weird angle and started breathing out of the corner of my mouth, like a smoker trying not to blow exhaust fumes in someone's face. The song started playing and I sang along quietly. Steve stopped the song and said "are you singing?" "Yeah..kind seems really loud" "Don't worry about that. Just sing normal." "I don't normally sing." "Just sing loud and I'll take care of it in here."
We started over and I sang louder this time, and kind of got into it. When it was over I asked, "Is there a back door that I should just leave through back here or...?" "Come on up. It's fine." I went back to the control room and Ronny said, "Wow, you turned into George C. Scott there!" The guy that won the Oscar for playing Patton isn't the first person that pops into my mind when I think of music but I said thanks. "I just mean in terms of how dramatic you were. It was good!" So apparently, he's happy with it and they're going to keep it. The album is scheduled to be released around the middle of July and I'll be sure to include all the info here so you can check it out.

So while that may not have been as cool as hanging out with Brooks Robinson and Harmon Killebrew, it's definitely up there.