Okay, now it's serious.
The Tampa Bay Lightning swept the Montreal Canadiens in four games with their 3-1 win last night.
That means the Bolts are now headed to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time.
I know we're still a long way from the Stanley Cup finals, much less from winning the Cup. But I'm not sure Tampa would know how to react if they did. We lost our collective mind when the Bucs finally won a Super Bowl after 26 years. God knows what would happen if we had two title winners in one town.
That's not to say that this playoff run is anything like what happened in 2002 with the Bucs. You don't see an endless forest of flags whipping through the breeze from car windows. Some people are wearing Lightning jerseys on game day, but not many.
Still, there are some outward signs that the bandwagon is starting to fill. I took some photos on the ride home the other night of all the Lightning-related stuff I saw:
This banner is hanging in an open gap in a condo that's being built across the river from downtown. It showed up during the first round of the playoffs and was the first sign to go up.
This sign looks more state-sanctioned. Especially considering it's nailed to the side of the convention center. It hangs just above the road that runs to the Forum from Bayshore Boulevard.
Gotta love a hockey banner hanging in front of a grove of palm trees.
This was the only bumper sticker I saw. Looks fresh. I've seen Bucs bumper stickers that are older than my son.
Please excuse the photo quality of these next two. They were shot at dusk and my camera doesn't do well at dusk.
Anyway, there are two attorneys in Brandon who have signs along Lumsden Road. This guy, whose sign is garnet and gold because he's a damn FSU Seminoles fan, nonetheless put up a Lightning message on his board.
I love the chutzpah of his claim to being the oldest law firm in Brandon. As if Brandon was Jamestown or something. It's like bragging about being the tallest midget.
This is the second attorney sign on the road. This guy is a Florida Gators fan, so he and the first dude go at it signwise during football and basketball seasons, depending on which team is kicking the crap outta the other. It makes for an amusing drive home.
As for the Bolts stuff, that's about it. Lame, I know, but I expect things to increase, now that there's almost a week until the next round starts. That provides plenty of time for people to gear up.
One of the things I love about minor league baseball are the kooky promotions and giveaways they use to get fans to the game. The Clearwater Threshers are no different.
I'm making plans to be at their game on May 5 against the Jupiter Hammerheads. Why?
Well, look at what they're giving away in honor of Cinco de Mayo:
My Uncle Pete, (yes, the one who was in the paper posing with a potato he grew that was shaped like a moose), sends along this amazing photo.
Pete and his wife Cecile are headed back to their summer home in Alaska from Florida, the way they've done for more than 10 years now. All Pete said in his one-sentence e-mail was: "Going back to ParALASKAdise.''
Gauging from when he left, I'm guessing he's deep in the Canadian Rockies by now, about to cross over the state line.
You might recall that a couple weeks ago, my friend Al and I spent a lunch hour hanging out with the Tampa Bay Lightning's mascot, Thunder Bug.
I almost felt bad for the guy. Here he was, a victim of marketing, living on the roof of an auditorium in an effort to sell tickets. It was hot. He was sleeping on a hard floor. It was too sunny to see the TV. We're talking real hardship here. Well, it appears that the plastic wading pool he used for relief was used for other purposes as well.
More power to him, I say. But there's something about the photo that's a little... nasty. This one is almost borderline adult entertainment.
To paraphrase Val Kilmer as "Batman": "It's the bee costume, right? Chicks dig the bee costume."
The full gallery is a crackup. I especially like the shot of the Ice Girl reading TV Guide with extreme concentration.
Got me to thinking about my own brushes with mascots...
It was AOL Broadband Day at Legends Field in Tampa. Who was I to resist a grip-and-grin with the Instant Message Logo Guy.
Once again photography fails to capture the magic generated by an oversize walking cheese stick wearing a sombrero.
While not technically wearing a costume, I would argue that Elvis has become the National Mascot. After William Hung, of course.
Thunder Bug isn't the only one who gets to pose with the Gold and Diamond Source Lightning Girls. But he is the only one who gets to pose with them in their bikinis. Such are the indignities of my life.
But I do have some perks. Like being in the middle of a balanced breakfast and snack mascot shot.
If you hadn't noticed, I got bored and chucked a new round of tunes onto the Radio.Blog playlist.
Again, the menu spans the gamut. Most of them are ones I enjoy, like Sheryl Crow's "Safe And Sound," Dee Lite's "Groove Is In The Heart," Aimee Mann's "Save Me," The Breeders' "Cannonball" and Smashing Pumpkins' "1979." The double shot of Prince is in honor of His Purple One's return to his rightful place atop the music industry. He was just here two nights ago in concert. I hear he rocked it hard.
The Bubba "Whoopass" Wilson song "Don't Put Your Hands On Me... Bitch" never fails to make me shoot milk out my nostrils. Even if I'm not drinking milk at the time.
Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" is for my son. He loves that song. He's 8. Go figure. He also asked for The Police's "Don't Stand So Close To Me." I don't have the stomach to tell him the whole Lolita tale behind the lyrics. Why ruin the mystery?
A side note: He's about to start guitar lessons. The teacher asks that the students bring in a CD with their favorite song of the week so they can learn it after the lesson is over.
What does he want to learn? "Smoke On The Water."
What a cool kid.
The Flys' "Got You Where I Want You" is for my wife. All I have to do is play the first bar of the song's guitar opening and it haunts her for the next two weeks.
Lynn at It Tastes Like Burning requested some Pixies, so "Where Is My Mind" is the choice this time out. It has the added bonus of being featured in the climactic scene in one of my all-time favorite movies, "Fight Club." I am Jack's burning guitar solo and warbling backing vocals.
There are a couple acoustic and live versions, like Garbage's "Only Happy When It Rains," and Sting's "Brand New Day."
The live Van Halen track, "Best of Both Worlds?"It's for you, mom.
And Color Me Badd's "I Wanna Sex You Up" is just so unbelievably bad, it's good.
Just made my first eBay purchase. From a seller in Melbourne, Australia, no less.
And I don't even know how to play the ukelele. I only recently figured out how to spell the damn word. Guess I'll be learning how.
In context, it beats the time I tried to learn the bagpipes. I was enjoying it, up until my wife had what could best be described as an intervention. I was still in the chanter part of learning. I hadn't advanced to full bag and pipe. Probably saved the marriage.
Ryan at The Dead Parrot Society is a huge fan of The Pixies.
I didn't really follow the band. Didn't have a chance to, really, since I only found out about them a couple years ago and they've been broken up since 1992. But after listening to a couple friends gush about them, I poked around and found some of their stuff and have to say I really enjoy their mix of punk, surf music and hard rock. And I liked the song "Cannonball" that was done by former Pixie bassist Kim Deal in her subsequent band, The Breeders.
Anyway, The Pixies are out on tour again after regrouping. Ryan tried to get tickets when the band came to Spokane not too long ago, but was unsuccessful.
Then he went to Starbucks.
His tale proves the maxim: It pays to say hello.
A side note: I've had a request for some Pixies music. I'll be posting it soon to Radio.Blog.
Comedian and director Louis C.K.is writing about driving his dog Loona home from Venice, Calif., to upstate New York. It's a great little slice-o-life travelogue.
On stage, I like to say that I do it because my wife says that the dog doesn't like to fly. I don't think a dog even knows, when it's in an airplane, that it's flying. But I drive the dog without hesitation. Because it is far easier to drive all the way across the country than it is to have that conversation with my wife. That is what I like to say on stage because people then laugh. But the truth is that, last year, I finally put my foot down and said "there is no way I'm driving that dog across again. She has to fly." My wife sadly relented. So I looked into it. I called American Airlines and asked them to run down for me exactly what the dog goes through on an air journey...
First she has to be put in a crate (something my dog hates) and she has to sit alone in that crate in the Cargo hangar for about two hours before the flight. Then the flight is like six hours or whatever, then she's unloaded and taken across the Tarmac to another cargo hold where she sits for another hour or so before I can get her. So like nine hours of sitting in the crate. I just know my dog would hate that. I called American about three times and asked them to go over it with me again. Finally, I just didn't have the heart. I drove the dog again. So now I can't blame my wife anymore. But I can still say on stage that it's because of her, because people in the audience are just strangers and who needs to tell them the truth?
We stopped at a gas station/food mart/lunch counter and parked in the back. Then we walked up into the steep, muddy woods behind the building, foraging through some thorny bushes until it opened into a large field. Another field of long grass, this time very wet. As we started to cross the field, it started raining lightly, but we went on anyway. The field became more wild and weedy as we went on. There was a single roll of hay, about 8 feet tall, on the far end of the field. As I plodded slowly across the field, stepping high in a vain attempt to keep my feet dry, Loona the dog ran around me in wide circles.
As we reached the end of the field, I noticed that she wasn't running anymore. She was standing stock still, shoulders hunched and head low with her tail curled behind her. I recognized this as being her hunting stance. But what was she hunting? I could only see empty, green field in front of her. Now, she's not the smartest dog in the world. I wouldn't put hunting nothing past her. But usually she figures out it's nothing after a few seconds. Here she was really dug in. As I got closer, I tried to follow her line of vision and I saw it. A beaver was standing in the grass, stock still, like it had been stuffed. It was trying not to move or breathe, hoping that Loona would forget it was there. As I got closer I could see that the poor beaver was frozen in a very awkward position. It was almost like a cartoon. He had seen the dog and started to turn away to run but the dog had clocked him so he was frozen in this left-leaning, twisted sort of "turning to go" position.
After about a minute of this stand-off, Loona started to approach the beaver very slowly, placing each paw carefully. The beaver continued his bluff, though, not moving. I could almost hear him whistling and going "Hmmm hmmm. Nothing here but us grass!"
In this shot you can actually see his right eye and you can kind of tell that he's looking away from Loona. The balls on that beaver, man. Loona got all the way up to him, nose to nose, before he broke into a run. She chased him through the field, around and around in figure eights, at one point getting a paw on his back! The balls on that beaver, man. Loona got all the way up to him, nose to nose, before he broke into a run. She chased him through the field, around and around in figure eights, at one point getting a paw on his back!
But he was too quick. He made it to the woods just in time. Loona pounced around the woods, sticking her nose here and there till, inevitably, she forgot what she was looking for and trotted away. She came up to me like "Hey, what's up?"
Yet again, we began a day believing that nothing would happen. That I would have nothing to tell about and nothing to show pictures of, and yet again I was wrong. Wild Kingdom right before my eyes. Although I think if Loona had to hunt to survive, she would last about a week, poor dog.
Buffo the clown is available for children's parties. Unfortunately.
If you ever wondered if fads could get any more stupid than flash mobs, say hello to the Cuddle Party.
I'll let the official Web site explain:
Remember when you were 6 years old and you and all of your cousins crawled into the top bunk and squealed and squirmed until your parents came in and had to quiet you all down? Or how about when you and your friends would make tents with the sofa cushions and whatever blankets mom would let you play with? Remember how you'd make the tent and then all snuggle up inside playing with Lego and dolls?Uh, no. But go on.
Short of making tents and trying to fit everybody atop a bunk bed, this is the feel Cuddle Parties are going for.Okay... whatever.
In today's world, many of us aren't getting our Recommended Daily Allowance of Welcomed Touch.Oh, dear lord.
Cuddle Parties seek to change that and change it in a way that's conscious, healthy and nutritious.Nutritious? Wha...?
Many of us grew up taught that a pull-out couch full of puppy-piled kids all camped-out in front of the TV was okay, but somewhere between ages 11 and 31 things changed. Now it's only okay for kids to do that.Hello? Operator? Get me the sexual harassment hotline, please.
Reid Mihalko is a bi-coastal sex and romance coach currently based on the island of Manhattan. His mission is to teach men and women how to create safe space for themselves and one another in order to be more fully self-expressed, sexual, intimate, related and playful. His intention in creating the Cuddle Parties, along with his workshops, lectures, films and books, is to create a safe environment for men and women to touch, be touched and love one another in a healthy and nutritious way.There's that nutritious thing again. Won't someone please explain?
Sometimes, the jokes just write themselves.
There's now a Wal-Mart blog.
There are few things that you can rely on. The tides. Gravity.
And Kelley's Cul-de-Sac compilation of blog highlights over at Suburban Blight.
Makes my little link dumps look like an anthill. But there is no better way to find good blogs.
As Kelly says, the Cul-de-Sac used to be a regular feature at Suburban Blight.
"But, you know me: I like to mix it up, so once it got pretty popular, I quit doing it. Story of my life.''
Good to have it back. It'll take me a week just to tool around to all the links.
Ever have one of those days when it seems like the whole universe is against you? When you can't seem to shake your mullet-wearing, thick-accented nemesis?
But if I did, I'd have to click here and crank the volume. For therapy's sake.
It's my own fault, really. For far too long, The Mullet Project has been far too neglected while the more bedazzling Hulk Hands Project, The Sombrero Project (and its subsequent parts (Dos, Tres and Quatro),and The King Project garnered all the glory.
It was an easy mistake to make.
But much of that neglect was rectified on Saturday night when I took it to a party being thrown in honor of my buddy Drew, who just got a big promotion at work.
The results, quite honestly, were breathtaking.
Drew felt the need to have the comfort that only a sombrero can provide while wearing a mullet.
When you see this photo, can there be any question of how this man was able to attain his latest career achievement? I think not.
When Kurt put on the wig, a genetic trigger snapped in his molecules, releasing Molly Hatchet DNA that he didn't even know he had.
There are two types of people in the world: people who were made to wear mullet wigs and those who were made to wear sombreros. Mike and Autumn have clearly found their correct niches.
Or maybe not.
As Nancy helps adjust his pelt, Mike tries out a little air piano.
Ahhhh. All is now correct. Mike is indeed a man of the mullet.
This photo proves a well-known axiom: You can never have too many guys named Mike wearing a mullet at a party.
You have no idea how hard we had to crowbar Paul and Sherry to get the damn things off their heads. Some people just acquire an unnatural fixation for mullets and sombreros, I guess. It's understandable, of course, but you've gotta know when to say when.
One day in the future, computer anthropologists will comb the Web in search of an answer as to whether the purest form of human joy, the ecstasy that comes from knowing your truest self, was ever made manifest on the Internet.
And then they will find this photo. And all answers shall be made known.
Hey, how can it be a real Geek Prom if I'm not gonna be there?
Ooooooh, how I do love me a good newspaper war. Especially when I'm on the side with the momentum.
For the record, you won't find this story in The Times.
6,367 is such an ugly number.
Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightining for their 3-2 win against the New York Islanders in the series clinching game NHL playoffs's first round.
The Bolts never were able to sell out the Forum Which Dare Not Speak Its Name, but then, the Isles gave away almost 8,000 seats to season ticket holders to fill up the Nassau Colliseum.
You have to applaud the Bolts for their various marketing efforts. First, the team's mascot, Thunder Bug, lived on the roof in an effort to stoke fan support.
Then the team tried other methods. Namely, the messiest press release ever created:
This frozen heap greeted us on Thursday. Not sure when it happened, but the team dumped a pile of ice shavings from the Forum rink and then planted this sign:
We had fun with it. I threw some at my colleagues. Even kept a cup of it in the freezer at work, just in case they win the Stanley Cup.
Now, you might think the ice wouldn't survive in Florida heat, but damn if it didn't survive.
This was Friday at about 2 p.m.
If the Bolts keep winning, they can dump all the ice they want.
I know where I'll be the night of July 31.
Remember that final, final, absolutely final, never-to-be-repeated, last-time-on-planet-earth tour KISS went on two years ago?
KISS is going out on tour again.
(Sorry, I had to throw in one of the weirdest backstage photos ever.)
Anyway, they were just here about two months ago on a co-headlining tour with Aerosmith. They're coming back in July to rock the new Tampa Bay Amphitheatre. Unfortunately this time it will be with Poison, but hey. I can endure 30 minutes of crap to get to the cream.
Here's the press release that was on their Web site. I love how they keep pumping their numbers. Like anyone doubts how great they were.
VH1 CLASSIC PRESENTS ROCK THE NATION
KISS AND POISON TO TOUR U.S.
2.5 tons of greasepaint……. 4,362 gallons of fake blood…. 3,400 smashed guitars, tons of explosives and lights… and enough platform boots stacked end to end to circle the globe……… for more than thirty years, “The Greatest Rock ‘N’ Rock Show on Earth” has played more than 3,500 concerts in front of 78 million fans around the world. And it’s not over yet.
You wanted the best, you got the best!!
VH1 Classic presents KISS - back this summer with a new show, new stage and a set list featuring rarely heard gems from the entire KISS catalog along with more fire, more screaming guitars and more spectacle than ever with their ROCK THE NATION tour.
And if that isn’t enough, POISON, the most glam of all the glam-rock bands will be joining KISS for the tour that is sure to put the sweat back into Summer!! It all begins in San Antonio, TX on June 10.
Purveyors of decadence and excess since the Seventies, KISS invented stadium rock with their sci-fi Kabuki costumes, explosive theatrics and, of course, their garish make-up. In their extensive world tours, they’ve attracted the most rabid fans: The KISS Army. KISS rocked 800 million viewers at Super Bowl XXXIII (while managing to stay fully clothed), breathed fire into the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics, and welcomed the New Year with a bang at Times Square for four consecutive years.
None of the pyrotechnics and make-up would matter without the music: Destroyer, Rock and Roll All Over, Love Gun and Alive became the soundtracks for teenage rebellion.
They have recorded more gold records than any other American band in history and have sold more than 80 million albums worldwide.
Now in their third decade of musical mayhem, KISS is as vital as ever.
Their 1997 release, Psycho-Circus, climbed the charts and nabbed a Grammy nomination. They started 2003 by performing live with the prestigious Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (all donned in KISS make-up) before a sold-out crowd of over 40,000 fans at Australia’s Telstra Dome. The performance was recorded and released on the certified gold KISS SYMPHONY - ALIVE IV CD (KISS Records/Sanctuary Music Group) and on the double-platinum DVD, KISS SYMPHONY, which debuted at No. 1.
The year 2003 culminated for KISS with their co-headline tour with Aerosmith, which stands out as one of the most successful tours of the 21st century.
POISON exploded out of the LA club scene and onto the national stage, and Bret, Bobby, C.C. and Rikki never looked back. With a string of multi-platinum records and Top Ten hits that included "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," "Something To Believe In," "Unskinny Bop," "Nothin' But A Good Time," "Talk Dirty To Me," "Your Mama Don't Dance," etc., Poison went on to sell over 20 million records, and garnered a solid fan base around the world. Throughout the band's many ups and downs, as shown VH1's "Behind The Music" episode, which was seen by over five million viewers the weekend it premiered, fans who flock to their sold-out shows year after year have come to expect an exciting, high energy show in true Poison tradition. Says lead singer Bret Michaels, “Throughout our entire career, we have been headlining, but I look at the opportunity to go on the road with KISS as a complete honor.
Poison’s set will be nothing but hits, a balls-to-the-wall, all thriller-no filler, stage show.”
Tickets for ROCK THE NATION with KISS and POISON go on sale beginning on April 24, 2004.
After two-plus weeks, I figured the music in the Radio Blog was getting a little stale, so I've changed out the playlist.
I asked last time for some suggestions on what you'd want to hear. I got bupkiss. So everything you see on the list is from the personal CD archive.
Like last time, there are plenty of different aural croutons on which to munch. There's some acoustic, a little old-school rap, a nibble of country, some rock, some new wave, some piano ballads, even a little ska.
I like finding acoustic or live versions tracks of songs you probably already know. Gives them a different flavor. This version of Duran Duran's "Ordinary World" is one of those. It isn't often you hear Simon LeBon sing in a low register. I think it beats the studio version. I like the Seven Mary Three track of "Lucky," too, for the same reasons. And the acoustic version of Chris Isaak's "Baby Did A Bad Thing." What a great song. I also like the live version of John Mayer's "Why Georgia." You can hear some great fingering technique in the beginning of the song. (No fingering jokes, please.)
Some of these are just memory strolls. Madness' "One Step Beyond," Run DMC's "It's Tricky" and Kurtis Blow's "Basketball" just remind me of the early '80s. (Hearing the names Moses Malone and Daryl Dawkins in that song is enough to make me feel ancient.)
The Knack's "Good Girls Don't" is a song I used to sing in the car with my buddies in high school. The Vines' "Get Free" is a song that makes me wish I was in high school so I could sing it in the car with my buddies.
John Lee Hooker's "Boom, Boom, Boom" reminds me of the time I saw him play on the back of a flatbed truck behind the student union at Florida State University. Guy sat in a lawn chair wobbling on the tailgate and played two hours of hellacious blues as the sun went down. People could barely see him in the dusk. He didn't give a damn.
But the best song on here is the Foo Fighters' "Times Like These." Damn thing has been running on a loop in my head for weeks since I saw them kill on the Grammy's with it. It was an awesome performance, especially since St. Petersburg resident Chick Corea was playing piano melodies through it. Dave Grohl is a god. I hope he gets his recognition outside the shadow of Nirvana one day.
Anyway, let me know what you think. And again, if you have any requests, the DJ's listening.
This commercial reminds me of the time I got paid for feeding gingerbread cookies covered in marshmallows and gumdrops to orangutans at the zoo for Christmas story I wrote.
The short version: They went batshit crazy for them. One baby orang climbed on top of a large female's coconut-sized head, peeled open her lips and tried to rip one of the cookies from her mouth. The dominant male snorked one down like it was a grape. Just inhaled it like it was a speck.
Two other females were total pigs, running to find their cookies and then storming off to enjoy them alone. Like it was a couple vats of Hagen Daas or something.
So much for Darwin's theory. It was survival of the fattest on that one.
ESPN.com has a great list of the best hair in Major League Baseball history.
I'm partial to the fu-manchu of Al Hrabosky. Mostly because he had a cool nickname - "The Mad Hungarian" - and partly because I used to imitate him as a kid.
Al's schtick was to take the ball off the mound, stand with his back to the plate between the rubber and second base, take his glove off, rub the ball in both hands vigorously for about a dozen times, put his glove back on, whip the ball into the web of the glove and then act like a wild man as he stomped back to the top of the mound.
The avalanche of hair coming off his face only enhanced this performance.
Alan over at the always impeccable and highly readable Hudsonian passes along this interesting fan promotion night in Philadelphia:
As part of the opening of Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies - who conclude their first regular-season home series tonight against the Reds - have partnered with St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear Workshop to create the 400-square-foot "Make Your Own Phanatic" store inside the ballpark. The store, the only Build-A-Bear Workshop within a sports facility, allows fans to customize their own Phillie Phanatic doll in the same fashion as Build-A-Bear's signature Bearemy doll. For $22, fans get their Phanatic doll stuffed and clothed with the mascot's regular Phillies uniform. For about $10 more, the Phanatic doll can be outfitted with one of several past Phanatic costumes.
After meeting Quiet Riot vocalist Kevin DuBrow late last year in Orlando, I started getting e-mails from him announcing his latest musical projects. He was a nice guy, had a sweet girlfriend and seemed to be enjoying life. But I still found it more than a little amusing to be getting missives from the guy who sang "Cum On Feel The Noize" 20 years ago.
I have a weird job.
Anyway, a couple weeks ago, I get an e-mail from Kevin saying he's going out for a tour. He's playing places like The Wet Spot in Caledonia, Ohio, and the Horseshoe Bar in Lake Lillian, Minn., and the Corner Pocket in New Haven, Conn.
Cool, I thought to myself. The guy's going out to keep the pipes tuned up.
Then I get this e-mail yesterday:
For Immediate Release
Humble Pie drummer gives Quiet Riot vocalist "thumbs up!"
Original Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley has given his stamp of approval to Quiet Riot vocalist Kevin DuBrow’s version of the 1970 Humble Pie song "Red Light Mama Red Hot". It’s featured on DuBrow’s upcoming "In For The Kill" solo album on Shrapnel Records.
Commenting on an advance copy, Shirley had this to say. "It’s really strange to hear someone do a song from this part of Steve Marriott’s career. People usually cover either Small Faces tunes or they do '30 Days In The Hole' from Humble Pie. You’ve been faithful to the original and it really has balls. I give it the thumb’s up!" Shirley told DuBrow.
DuBrow had this to say about Shirley’s endorsement. "Being that ‘Red Light Mama’ is the centerpiece of the album and Humble Pie was always my favorite band, his comments mean the world to me. I’m ecstatic!" The album comes out sometime next month.
First, if you're going to cover a song from a 40-year-old album in an attempt to make a comeback, cover something that someone has heard, dude.
Second, who even knew that Humble Pie had a drummer, much less one that was still alive?
Third, a man over 40 should never type the words "balls" and "thumbs up" anywhere in the same paragraph. Reeks of prostate exam, dude.
Raise your hand, raise your hand, if you're sure.
Speaking of hand slapping, anyone remember this game from school days. Some days I'd come home with hands that looked like roast beef, we played so much Slaps.
And if you're wondering what the time is, talk to the hand.
Gotta love this site, which goofs on the overblown ads that real estate brokers use to push their services.
Have you noticed that they're usually on the phone? (Unintended message: I'm too busy to work with you, unless you happen to be looking in the $500,000 range.)
And apparently, they're so versatile they can set up shop anywhere.
The National Weather Service has just issued a heavy storm warning for central Florida.
Along with heavy showers, possible lightning, strong winds and potential hail, it also will result in light blogging in the morning, followed by more intense writing in the evening and late evening hours.
Check back for more updates as the weather allows.
From the home of Side Salad, best Easter wishes to you and yours.
* A movie I can't wait to see.
* Learn a new card trick.
* Just what we all need: A chicken slave.
* What happens when your bike is your job.
* I'm suddenly and strangely attracted to my fingers.
* Dress up any number of virtual paper dolls. Just click and drag.
* A new phrase for the dictionary: Happiness Terrorism.
* Brush up on your puberty and dating etiquette.
* What happens when you hand your infant to a famous stranger.
* A graphic novel that morphs into a DJ sample mix board. Weird.
* Who knew Radar was missing a digit?
* When words become photos.
For some inexplicable reason, The Hulk Hands Project has found new life.
For those who are unaware, the project was spawned after we received these foam hands in the mail as a promotion for the movie "Hulk." If you knock them around, the fists make noises like, "HULK SMASH!" and "AAARRRGH! MY BUNION!!!!"
Anyway, whenever people would pass my desk, I'd nail them with a photo. Same concept as The Sombrero Project, The King Project and The Mullet Project. Just give people an object to pose with and see what happens.
Anyway, we have some new additions to the green hands gallery:
Yes, that's our Cloe. Miss Florida 1987.
Can't decide on this one if Jenny is signaling a successful field goal or directing an F-14 on the flight deck. Whatever she's doing, she's pretty damn happy about it.
Josh already has posed with the hands, but he's a new daddy and I figured he needed to get some aggression out.
Something about these hands just speaks to Josh.
Craig had a little accident the other day on the basketball court when he tried to Shaq-Daddy someone and broke a bone in his hand. To me, it just begged for his cast to be adorned with noisy green foam. Looks like a lollipop on a stick.
You may have heard by now that the Tampa Bay Lightning won their first playoff game of the season tonight with a 3-0 shutout of the New York Islanders.
Tampa isn't exactly abuzz with hockey fever. Sure, you see people around town wearing their jerseys and displaying car flags, but the first game didn't sell out. But you have to understand that it's Easter and Passover and the weather has been incredible and daylight savings has taken hold and the Rays' season has started and... well... there are other things on our collective mind at the moment.
That said, it hasn't stopped the Bolts from trying to generate a little hype. That includes having their mascot, Thunder Bug, pull a stunt by living on the roof of the Forum in a tent until the first two games sell out.
Now that the first game is over, he's still pushing for Game 2. I went up with my friend Al to hang out over at the Forum and see what kind of mischief we could make.
This is Carl. He lives in Brandon. He used to be a season ticket holder until he was in a car crash last year that wrecked his hip, made him unable to work and sapped his finances.
He started camping out next to the box office entrance at the Forum Wednesday morning in hopes of being the first to be able to buy two of the 200 playoff tickets that were made available for $8 Thursday afternoon.
What's Carl reading? The biography of Phil Esposito, of course.
To lure more people into buying tickets, the Lightning began cooking free hamburgers and hot dogs for anyone who wanted them, regardless of whether the people eating had bought tickets or not.
Pretty decent of them, I'd say.
How can you tell the difference between team captain Dave Andreychuk and this five-story mural on the northwest wall of the Forum?
The mural actually moves.
The Lightning host this 6-foot-tall bobblehead in the lobby of their Forum offices. The NHL had one for every team made up for the All-Star Game this year and then auctioned them for charity. The guy who won the Lightning auction paid roughly $5,000, shipped it back to Florida for $600 and then called the team to ask if they wanted to have it for a while since he didn't have enough room at his house.
Team president Ron Campbell, who had been bidding against the guy unknowingly and had stopped at about $4,500, was more than happy to oblige.
How sad is it that my head is only slightly smaller than his?
Up on the sixth floor of the Forum, behind a set of double doors and on top of an elevated platform Jason Franke, the man behind the ThunderBug costume, sits on the roof of the facility and waits for fans to end his self-imposed, ticket-selling exile.
It's not the harshest existence in the world. Yes, he does sleep in a tent. There is no air conditioning, but then, he doesn't really need it in late March/early April in Florida. He's been lucky this year - there's been no rain. Skies have been blue and humidity relatively low. Last year was another story. Lots of weather. Plenty of misery.
This year, Kane's furniture has supplied a love seat, recliner and sofa. IHOP brings him $50 worth of breakfast every day. And he gets paid to be up there.
Life is good.
Could this be a sign of things to come for the team as well?
Here, Al tests the comfort and structural integrity of the love seat.
The TV is hidden under an end table. In the bright glare of the midday sun, it's pretty useless to try and watch anything. (The tarp is there to cover the TV and table in case of rain.)
Still, it is Florida and sitting on any roof for any length of time can prove to be a rather warm experience. Franke keeps a fully-stocked cooler with juice and Gatorade. His laptop keeps him entertained and connected to friends and family. And this plastic kiddie pool on the northern part of the platform is there in case of emergency wading needs he might experience.
There's nothing special about the setup, other than it being totally provided for free. If I were him, I'm move this love seat into the tent instead of sleeping on the floor of the platform.
A coffee table without some sort of ornamental upon it would be gauche. Here, Franke displays two of his Lightning miniatures tastefully ringed in a Sunshine Network visor.
Inside the tent is, well, what you'd expect to find if a bachelor in an oversized insect hockey costume was hanging out for a week. The bee head is the first indication. (It was airing out while perched on a running floor fan.) His costume jersey sits on the makeshift bed, waiting to be donned at a moment's notice.
The floor of the tent would be nightmarish to code inspector. Lots of electrical cords and flammable artificial fibers. Franke did have excellent taste in DVD movies: Top Gun, Meet the Parents and Blazing Saddles were the three most visible titles.
What, no Slapshot?
One mitigating piece of evidence: A gossip magazine featuring juicy tidbits on... Star Jones?!?!?
These boots were made for clomping.
Stocky and relatively softspoken, Jason was an extremely decent guy to let us hang in his pad for a few minutes. (I've adhered to the Mascot Code and protected his identity in this photo.) When I mentioned to a team official that they might be subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment, he replied, "If we didn't let him do it, he'd be pissed. He lives for this. It's been 6 months to a year in the making."
Jason has the best view of downtown Tampa. He can even hear cars and trucks on the nearby Selmon Expressway honk their hellos at him.
His perch also gives him a great view of Tampa Bay Storm practices on the portico of the Forum, as well as a vantage point for witnessing traffic incidents.
"The other day, I saw one of the Marriott valet guys T-bone the trolley," he said.
Jason, your summons to testify as a witness should be arriving in the mail one day very soon.
About 7 months ago, I tried to kill a little time by shopping in a rundown consignment mall. I, of course, brought my camera and found lots of horrific trinkets. The result was the first Crap Safari.
A couple days ago, I had time to kill at the mall. (It only happens twice a year. I swear.) What I found there boggled even me.
I'm not sure what's going on at the moment in popular culture, but it appears that the movie "Scarface" is popular again, for whatever reason.
And what better way to show your allegiance to bad acting, garbage movie direction and violence glorification? By purchasing a print from a movie still and framing it with a Cuban cigar.
Oh, and two bullets. How classy.
In 1981, the defensive front four of the New York Jets picked up the nickname of the "Sack Exchange." The players included Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons, Abdul Salaam and Mark "I Look Like A Bad Adult Films Star" Gastineau. They recorded 66 sacks and put the Jets back into the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.
That's right. Got them into the playoffs. They didn't win the Super Bowl. Or the AFC Championship. Just got to the playoffs.
What better way to honor that prestigious achievement than to hang this handsome framed lithograph on your wall. There is no clearer message to send to that girl you're wooing that you've yet to get over the 1980s.
And of course, if that's not enough of a statement, you can pick up this accompanying trinket to make the set complete.
I was dumbfounded when I came across this table full of specialty candles. The variety was awe inspiring.
If this tiger wasn't cheesy enough for you...
...you could always go with a sports theme.
I think Jon Gruden has one of these on his mantle at home. Right next to his Sports Illustrated shoe phone.
Ah, more "Scarface." I'm sensing a "Say hello to my little friend" theme.
I found this ashtray in one of those "Smoke N Stuff" stores. Kind of fitting that you'd dab out your cancer stick into one of these, isn't it?
If wolves had the ability to carve and mold and sculpt and chisel, I'd have to think this would be their Mount Rushmore.
I hear Spencer Gifts will soon offer a low-carb version.
If you haven't been inside a Spencer store since you had to replace your black light in 1981 because you broke it while trying to turn it into a bong, you might be surprised to learn that for all the wind-up hopping genitalia, the KISS drinking goblets and the remote control fart machines, there's a dark side to this establishment that caters to the newly emerging Goth kid who wants to dip his toe into the mascara pool, but isn't sure how deep to go.
What this thing is, I'll never know. Probably a creature of the netherworld of some sort. Made in Singapore.
Is it me, or does his face bear an uncanny resemblance to this guy?
This was a winning product on many levels for me. First, the name. Second, the selling pitch: "Real baby nipple!" Like that's a good thing.
And then for the parents, there's this notation on the package: "Made With Juice Concentrate/Fortified With Vitamin C/Real Fruit Bits."
"Mom, do I need to take my vitamin today?"
"No, Billy. You've had your Suck Up already."
Oh, how I love when Yankees fans go apoplectic three games into the season.
Meanwhile, a Red Sox fan over at Yanksfan vs. Soxfan muses about paid official designations of Yankees sponsors:
Tonight listening to the Yankees radio broadcast, Charlie Steiner cited "Krispy Kreme, the official doughnut of the Yankees radio network". What exactly does that mean? How can a radio network have an official doughnut? Does the doughnut make appearances at all Yankees radio network functions? Does the doughnut donate money to charity each time the Yankees radio network hits a home run? Does the doughnut put in personal autograph signing appearances at local convention halls? How can radio waves have an official pastry? The mind boggles...
My Uncle Pete, (yes, the one who was in the paper posing with a potato he grew that was shaped like a moose), sends along this joke.
Two priests decided to go to Hawaii on vacation. They're determined to make a real vacation by not wearing anything that would identify them as clergy.
As soon as the plane landed, they headed for a store and bought some really outrageous trunks, sunglasses and shirts.
The next morning, they went to the beach, dressed in their "tourist" garb. They were sitting on beach chairs, enjoying a drink, when a drop dead gorgeous blonde in a tiny bikini came walking straight towards them. They couldn't help but stare.
As the blonde passed them, she smiled and said, "Good morning, Father," nodding and addressing each of them individually, then she passed on by.
They were both stunned. How in the world did she know they were priests?
The next day, they went back to the store, bought even more outrageous outfits. These were so loud; you could hear them before you even saw them.
Once again, they settled on the beach in their chairs to enjoy the sunshine, etc. After a while, the same gorgeous blonde came, wearing a string bikini this time, walking toward them.
Again, she approached them and greeted them individually: "Good morning, Father. Good morning, Father," and started to walk away.
One of the priests couldn't stand it and said, "Just a minute, young lady."
"Yes?" she replied.
"We are priests, and proud of it, but I have to know, how in the world did you know we are priests?"
"Father, it's me, Sister Helen."
It is with a heavy heart that, on the first legitimate day of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' regular season, I report on the last Spring Training game of the year.
It's with a heavier heart that I report it had to be a New York Yankees game. Therefore, I felt the need to relieve The Rev. Joe Kendall of his reporting duties. He's gone beyond the call of duty and done an heroic job reporting as Side Salad's exclusive man about the batting cage, but no one should feel the need to keep going back to the House that Hillsborough County Built.
That's not to say I didn't have a great time. A friend offered me tickets and I jumped at the chance Sunday to see the Jeter, Rodriguez, Torre & Co. take a poke at the Future Yankee Stars. (Otherwise known as Future Trade Bait).
So I took my mom - who had never been to a Spring Training game. This despite the fact that she is a rabid Devil Rays fan (Yes, she's the one).
I forbid her to get into a fistfight with Yankees fans, but I did allow her to wear her DRays cap in. After all, you've gotta rebel just a little.
It didn't help, though, that this was the first thing we saw:
That's right, No. 17, former Rays catcher John Flaherty hobknobbing with pitcher Mike Mussina. Mom didn't notice him, but I did. I conveniently forgot to point him out, lest the ushers have to peel her off the guy before the first pitch was thrown.
As spring/minor league ballparks go, there really isn't another in Florida that matches Legends Field for sheer landscaping beauty. It's not the most intimate setting - there's only so much you can warm up to concrete and Yankees blue - but they've done a nice job of grooming the grounds to a finely manicured T.
One thing no one else has: a champions garden with the retired numbers of their most famous players. Babe Ruth. Lou Gehrig. Mickey Mantle. Joe DiMaggio. You do the math.
On the southeast edge of the garden a two-person band was playing songs for people arriving at the park. When we passed, they were playing, "I'm A Believer."
I'd be a believer, too, if my team had a $200 million payroll.
You never forget the first athlete who dies on you. For older generations, it was Gehrig. For others, it was Clemente. My son? Earnhardt. Mine was Thurmon Munson. I can still remember opening the newspaper and reading about his airplane crash. I wasn't even a Yankees fan, but I loved Munson and I thought he was indestructable.
Judging by the pallor and the occasional lobster-red sunburns, I'd guess these ladies were from LonGuyland.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is like the frat boy who's constantly dropping trou at keg parties. Zip it up and move on.
This is Carol. She was a sweet ticket taker. And she's dressed in traditional New York HAZMAT green.
Shits, hats, bats, balls, beads, bears. The souvenir stand had it all.
Now I see how they'll afford his new contract.
The subtle message here: Drink slowly, but choke your arteries with fake cheese all you like.
I'd like to buy a $4 Bambino Burger, but I just bought a $25 ARod shirt. Too bad, so sad.
Ah, yes. My mother's DRays hat. (For the record, I've been forbidden from showing her in photos on the blog.) My favorite part of the day came when I returned from a visit to the concession stand, only to have her tell me that the Yankee fan behind her muttered, "I think it's in bad taste to wear another team's colors to the ballpark."
That certainly would explain why 20,000 Yankees fans show up at Tropicana Field multiple times each season in pinstripes. If anyone knows about bad taste, it's a Yankees fan.
For the record, I think it was in poor taste for this guy to not take off his hat during the National Anthem. Or the dozen or so other people in the photo who couldn't have been bothered.
You've got to love a grounds crew that multitasks. Not only did this group rake the field between innings while dancing to the YMCA, they used the infield hose to recreate the firefighting scene in "Backdraft" in honor of the NYFD.
Hey, kids, let's play Find The Richest Ballplayer!
That's right, Alex Rodriguez. Did you find him?
The collective thought bubble here: "Better win the series... better win the series... better win the series...''
It's a good thing these guys don't get along. Otherwise, they might have to throw warmup with each other, and that would just be ugly.
It's good to see Donnie "Baseball" Mattingly signing autographs for fans before the game.
Hello, and welcome to Fantasy Stretching Coach Camp, where you get to push the limits of your favorite players' hammies and quads. Here we see Karl Robinskie of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. doing his best to limber up superstar outfielder Bernie Williams.
The souvenir tribes are divided of late between the insurgent ARod faction and...
...the militant Jeter freedom fighters.
A dozen schoolgirls watching Jeter and ARod throw warmup? You can almost hear the giggling if you put your ear to the monitor.
The boys? They were trying to be cool about it all.
It's a good thing these guys don't get along. Otherwise, they might have to stand next to each other during the National Anthem, and that would just be ugly.
First baseman Jason Giambi, looking rather svelte compared to last season's bulk. (Insert your own snide steroid joke here.)
Hideki Matsui, Bernie Williams and Gary Sheffield. Has there ever been a more talented outfield?
It's a good thing the Yankees had a full house so they could pay the bills. Oh, wait. Nevermind.
Here's today's lineup:
A side note: I love Joe Torre. If there's a more decent manager in baseball, I haven't found him.
Your attention please: Now batting:
Batting first: Derek Jeter.
Batting second: Bernie Williams.
Batting third: Alex Rodriguez.
It truly boggles the mind.
Last week, I dissected Mitch's cranial hair offerings.
I also offered you, the Side Salad reading public, a chance to opine on what you think he should do - if anything - to remedy his current look.
Editor's note: the day after the above posting, Mitch displayed a set of freshly shorn eyebrows in a highly animated fashion. As if to say, "HAPPY NOW?!?!?"
Anyway, the poll results are in:
There's a great story today in the New York Times today about how NBC has amazingly put itself in the same ridiculous position with Conan O'Brien that it did in 1993 with Letterman and Leno fighting over the 11:30 p.m. start time.
Now, more than a decade after O'Brien took over the Late Night spot, Conan is itching for more professional leg room. And finding none, because Leno's contract recently was extended to the end of the decade.
Beyond being brilliant and hilarious and innovative on his show, O'Brien is unfailingly polite and demure and respectful when it comes to interviews. But the Times story is a telling one. It's the first time I've read quotes from him wishing ill will on anyone. That it's an NBC executive isn't exactly surprising.
Here's a great quote from the story:
John Agoglia, then NBC's chief deal-maker, made little secret of his doubts about Mr. O'Brien — and especially his then-sidekick, Andy Richter, whom nobody at NBC got in the least. NBC later relented, though only to the point of giving Mr. O'Brien 13-week renewals. One night, NBC actually ordered Mr. O'Brien canceled, only to rescind the order the next morning, a night he didn't know of until years later.
"I swear I've made my peace with all of it," he says, taking the high road. "I got an unprecedented break, and I went for it. It wasn't easy. I took my lumps. I have no problems with any of it." But Mr. O'Brien has been studying carefully recent events in late-night — and all the while he's been fingering the scar.
"I have watched a lot of people launch late-night shows since I launched mine and I don't think any of them have been as good." (Hello, Craig Kilborn; that means you, Jimmy Kimmel.) "And they got harsh criticism. But their networks stood behind them steadfastly. I feel my first week of shows are still better than a lot of these other shows that have come along since, and they've had 10 times the network support I had.
"I don't have any complaint with anybody finding fault with me as a performer in the first two years of the show because there was fault there and I'll take it." Here Mr. O'Brien's affable demeanor takes a turn. "But NBC made it more difficult than it had to be. That 13-week renewal stuff is unprecedented in the history of show business. I'm a forgiving person. I tend to let things go and move on. But if John Agoglia somehow fell to the bottom of a coal mine and I was the only one who knew about it, I'm not saying I wouldn't alert the authorities, but I might take my time about it, maybe wait a week or two — provided he had plenty of fresh water."
The King Project found new momentum the other night during a congratulatory party for a beloved colleague. It's amazing what a little bit of viscous English beer can inspire. Including this gem:
Rough day in the Jungle Room at Graceland, Kevin?
Sonny, Red, get E some Zoloft, STAT!
To see the full King Project gallery, click here.
Sorry for the dearth of posts the past few days.
But I have a very good reason:
I've been out riding my new Harley.
Okay, so it's not a motorcycle. Technically I didn't say "Harley Davidson." But it's the closest thing I've been allowed to have, if you get my drift. So I've named it Harley, just so I can say I own one.
Truth be told, my Harley has a much more smooth and quite ride than theirs. And it gets better gas mileage. Insurance is lower, too. And I'm not as likely to be creamed by a deaf-dumb-and-blind cottontop who's peeking above the steering wheel of his land barge as it careems its way to the 3 p.m. buffet at the Moose lodge.
Took the kayak out yesterday for a little tour of some canals in the South Shore area of Hillsborough County, off Shell Point Road. Click here to see my first mate. The Gilligan to my bellicose Skipper, as it were.
And true to my nature, we had an incident on the water when we ran around on a submerged tree. I finally had to get out of the kayak, scrape the crap out of myself standing on the barnacle-laden limbs and swim us off the damn thing.
If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Harley would have been lost.
Okay, that's a bit of an overstatement.
We eventually had to console ourselves with food and beverage. That included taunting a heroic-sized school of minnows with granola bar crumbs. Click here to see the "Courtship of Eddie's Father" photo of that minnow-taunting moment.
If you haven't seen the American Express spot yet, you owe it to yourself to watch the extended film of Jerry Seinfeld hanging out with Superman.
Favorite quote: "I don't do that. I do this."
You know how it is, I'm sure. You work in close proximity to people every day. Eight or more hours a day, 250 or so days a year. More time, in fact, than you spend with your own families.
As a result, you start to notice things about each other. You nitpick about appearances. You cajole them over personal habits. You poke them in the eye with a sharp stick for sheer amusement. You prod them to the limits of their self-confidence.
Hey. It's a living.
So it is with the group I work with. We're professional observers by trade and we get paid to express ourselves, so that only amplifies the criticism and the verbal assaults. It's all in good fun and done in a positive nature, of course.
But when one of the herd strays off alone in regard to personal style, well, the rest of the pack sometimes feels the need to reel that steer back into the fold. It makes us feel better about ourselves, in a way. We're caring enough about our co-workers to badger them into compliance with our informal standards on grooming, hygiene and attire. We criticize because we love.
So was case when Mitch got a haircut the other day.
Ignore for a moment the googly eyes, which Mitch provided as a point of exaggeration and which are not usually featured on his face in such a way unless his computer crashes or Drop Trou Man goes into his routine. Mitch thinks, and I and several others concur, that this is a damn fine haircut.
But apparently Mitch has been taking flak for this modified brushcut. Mostly for the shortness, but also for the grey in his hair.
To his credit, Mitch understands that as a man ages, grey naturally appears in one's hair. He's sturdy within his own manliness and confident of his youth enough to let it appear as it will. I believe he expressed his exact feelings thusly, when he said, and I quote, "I could give a crap."
Some have gone as far as to suggest that his hair is perilously headed toward a similar style worn by J. Jonah Jameson, editor of the Daily Bugle in the Spider-Man comic book series. Here's how he was featured in the movie:
If, in fact, there is any predictor of future styling, I'd say it might be headed toward what is depicted on the action figure of Jameson:
The antacid on the desk is quite telling. But I digress.
Understand that this is not a radical follicular display for Mitch. It's been pretty short since I've known him. You can see this in a photo shot during the wildly popular "Hey, Kid, What Color Socks Is Mitch Wearing?" series.
Now, if you were dissect the latest hairstyle, you'd see that there are key elements contributing to the overall appearance.
First, consider the symmetry. Whichever hair artist applied the snips and clippers paid special attention to details of equal length. Unlike my hair, which is experiencing a bit of an Attica prison riot at the moment, Mitch's hair behaves as it should, especially when "product" is applied.
Again, good grooming beyond just the hairline is key to completing the look. Mitch obviously shows good habits when displaying facial hair. Were this region to become unruly, then the haircut, I believe, would lose its full impact. Instead, it complements the style nicely and mimics the coloration seen up top.
Here's where things go slightly askew and where, my hypothesis will show, observers and critics of Mitch's new styling are finding objectionable material.
Yes, the eyebrows are symmetrical. There are no piercings, no radical spots of grooming. But upon closer inspection, there is one detail that betrays the rest of Mitch's "look":
Ah, yes. Just above the right eye. If you'll notice, Mitch suffers from an affliction that many men - including myself - experience: anarchic eyebrow hair. Trim all the hair you want, apply all the Rogaine you care to, dye, snip, tweezer, mow, shave, hedge clip and weed whack everything you can. But let just a couple "mosquito leg" eyebrow hairs go astray and you might as well not try at all.
Since this is obviously a follicular cry for help, I do hope this sort of detailed analysis will help Mitch in future grooming decisions that will result in universal acclaim from his friends, co-workers and loved ones.
But this analysis is by no means the final word. No matter how qualified or expert, is still only one opinion.
That's where you can help. By filling out this simple poll, you can help one man in the future avoid the kind of sturm and drang he's so far experienced.
Poll results will be announced in a couple days.