Excuse me for a second.
Alright, God. I get the message. You can stop now. Really. Knock it off. I've had enough.
Sorry. Just had to have a little face time with the Almighty.
Why? Because he's screwing with my brain.
It wasn't enough that he put two car loads of horned-up bachelorettes in my path today. That wasn't enough for God. God had to push things a little further.
So while I was on my way to get a haircut today, he did this:
He sent me west on Bloomingdale Boulevard this afternoon and put in my path a half-naked, beer-swilling guy on horseback trotting along the sidewalk going eastbound with plastic bags full of groceries hanging off his saddle horn. This bizarre image just about sent me into oncoming traffic, my neck spun so fast.
I did a U-turn, pulled over and parked, waiting until the guy came up to my car.
I stopped him and his horse. His name was Mark. His horse, a 3-year-old Paint, was named Dakota.
Come to find out that he's a former bull rider who now does construction. When I went whipping by him in traffic, he had a longneck Bud tossed back at about an 85-degree angle. By the time I had pulled over, the Bud was hidden behind the saddlehorn under his unworn shirt.
"Twel hunnerd poun.''
"Wha?" I replied.
"Twel hunner poun was the biggess bull I rode."
I mean, what was I supposed to say? Well done? That's a lot of angry jumping meat? That certainly explains this Fellini-esque mirage I've just seen?
Turns out he takes the horse for a ride from his home pasture to Lithia Springs park every weekend. Which is, you know, a round trip ride of about 25 miles. That's a long mosey for the horse. Especially with a drunk, half-naked cowboy on your back. And all his groceries for the week.
He said his goodbyes and I climbed back in the car. I took a moment to drink in what I'd just experienced. I slid the shifter into drive and pulled back on the road.
I did a U-turn to go back toward the barber shop when I see something even more bizarre: John Wayne, inebriated and woozy, bent over the side of the horse, checking out cars for sale in a makeshift lot.
Now, my father was in the car business. Sold them at an Oldsmobile dealership, sold them at his own lot, sold them at discount auctions. He saw lots of weird shit. Lots of weird shit.
I don't think I recall him ever coming home and telling us that some drunk on horseback was in the market for a Delta 88. How would you even write up the paperwork on a trade like that?
So I went to fill up the family four-door today. And this is what I see parked over at the next line of gas pumps:
Awww. How quaint. A bachelorette party on wheels.
Wait. What's that other window say?
Wait. Only a buck? I'm going to take a wild guess - based on the diagram next to the phrase - and surmise that it would be a two-for-one deal.
Who'd have thought we'd see the day that a gallon of gasoline would be double the price of...
Wait. What's the side window say?
All you Donna Summer fans, sing it with me:
"Oh, it's her last chance... her last chance... to suuuuuuuuuuck..."
Seeing all this and possessing a camera phone was too much for me to handle. I had to capture this scene in pictures.
Sure enough, when the Tess and her bridesmaids come loping out of the 7-Eleven with their chips and Mountain Dew bottles, they're more than amenable to having a group photo.
The bride is second from the left.
The best part happened just before the photo was taken. The girl on the right asks, "Is this going to be on the Internet?"
Oh yes. Yes it will, I say.
And then all of them proceeded to pose. Why?
Because weddings are about mamories. Uh, memories.
A Postscript: Rommie's reply after I sent him these photos was, "I'm sure Tess's parents will be amused when she returns their mini-van in the morning. Suck for a buck? That seems like a hell of a bargain. Perhaps it's time for Greenspan to lower interest rates again.''
Editor's Note: I was not so uncooth to actually proffer a dollar bill. I only had quarters on me at the time.
I went last night and hung out at the plaza outside The Forum That Is In Tampa But Which Has The Named Sponsor Of A St. Petersburg Business On The Outside. With thousands of my closest friends. We all enjoyed seeing the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the snot out of the Calgary Flames 4-1 in Game 2. It was so delicious, I can still taste the victory. Or maybe that's just the beer and cigar I had.
On my way to the Forum, I saw the most curious site...
Is that... a guy in a hockey jersey and... a sombrero?!?!?!
You bet it is. It's my friend Alan. He thought he'd wear the hat for good luck. "It's my rally sombrero," he said.
It also appears to be quite popular with the ladies.
Al wore the sombrero with great distinction. Including during the middle of personal phone calls.
That's my bike, by the way. It's Tampa Bay Lightning Blue. I may have to buy another one for Bucs season.
There is no way to look at this photo and not come away with thinking that this, somehow, was a meeting of the minds.
Truth be told, everyone was doing their best to try and stoke a little mojo for the team. Superstition is a powerful tool among hockey players and fans. Everyone tries to do their part for their team. Last night, it worked.
Of course, Rommie thinks his circa-1992 Dan Bradley jersey is what did the trick.
Want more pics? Check out my gallery of photos taken in the plaza outside the Forum.
To anyone who has ever told me they though journalism was glamourous, (usually someone who is not in the business), I tell them that if anyone ever saw how we put the newspaper together, they'd be horrified. Not that it isn't a worthwhile process, just that it takes lots of sweat and last minute decisions to get things right. A lot of people compare it to sausage making. I'd like to think that we're mechanics building a high-performance engine; you'll like the way the car runs when we're done, but you don't really want to see us putting the pistons and the rods together.
That was true the other day when we shot the art for a food cover story we did. As an example, here first is the image you saw in the paper. It's the word BBQ spelled out in food.
Now, for the part you didn't see - How the photo was made:
Here, Kathy the photographer is hovering over the blistering heat. She was thoughtful enough to take her shoes off before stepping on my new cooler. My dog, however, was not thoughtful enough to not sit directly behind her. Or from letting his hair fly into the food.
I'm not sure when the notion struck me. But it most certainly has.
I have found my muse.
There are people who cross your path and fuel your imagination and creativity. They propel you to conjure up bigger and better ideas. They are the ignition that trigger powerful concepts, grand plans and designs of immense proportions.
I do believe that Phil, a friend and colleague at work, is that kind of person.
It might have something to do with his kind nature. Or his bad jokes. Or his penchant for doing a German accent off the cuff at 4:30 in the afternoon.
I don't know what it is, but Phil is quickly becoming my Larry "Bud" Melman, an everyman whom I can throw into situations to see how purely he functions and reacts.
I can tell you that everything Phil does is comedy gold. Sometimes on purpose and sometimes not. I think I have the photographic evidence to prove it.
In his hands, a serving tray becomes an angelic halo. With one insouciant tilt behind his head, viola!, St. Phillip, patron saint of the tuna melt, is born.
This photo was taken later the same day. I have no idea what brought this on. But Phil took the tiara and ran with it. He makes, dare I say, a striking princess.
The above photos are only part of his growing visual oevure. Earlier this year, he was one of the inaugural models for The King Project. I think it's a sign of his versatility that he can pull off wearing a set of Elvis sunglasses and a tiara with equal aplomb.
A mullet wig in his hands becomes something altogether glamorous and refined. The pure joy depicted on his face is the innocent kind only witnessed in babies and puppies.
Oye como va, Philito.
To me, the true sign of talent is when light and heat are generated by sheer force of personality at the most unguarded moments.
I think it takes a big man to prance down an aisle of desks and announce, "I'm a pissed-off woodland sprite!" in the workplace at 4:17 p.m. on a Friday.
Friday afternoon is clearly Phil's time to shine.
I had such confidence in Phil's photographic possibilities that I cast him as the fictional "Dr. Hockey" in a story we did about basic hockey rules and techniques. To me, he had the same qualities exhibited by doctors in 1950s cigarette ads: authoritarian air, legitimacy, unquestioned honesty.
He was so convincing that a TV station wanted to use him to help answer viewer questions. We were unable to comply. Phil's never watched a hockey game in his life. But on this day and in these photos, he was the epitome of everything good and real about hockey.
Bravo, Phil. Bravo, I say.
My little man's last day of third grade is today. Last night he brought home a paper that put in perspective how much upheaval - both subtle and cataclysmic - takes place in your life when you're 7, 8 and 9 years old.
Miss McKenzie, his teacher, asked them to come up with one or two things that had changed since they started third grade. The results were both hilarious and touching:
I used to... But now I...
By Miss McKenzie's 3rd Grade Class
I used to be shy, but now I say, "Hi." - Ashley
I used to have bad grades in math, but now I have good grades in math. - Aaron
I used to be a bad pitcher, but now I am a good pitcher. - Joe
I used to be messy, but now I'm neat. - Brian
I used to be selfish, but now I'm nice. - Brian
I used to crawl all the time, but now I walk all the time. - Matt
I used to flatter and deal with matter, but now I chatter and blabber. - Christian
I used to play soccer, but now I do diving. - Sarah
I used to be eight, but now I'm nine. - Elyse
I used to be sick, but now I'm not. - Elyse
I used to be picked on, but now no one picks on me. - Jordan
I used to be ugly, but now I am a big beautiful girl. - Jordan
I used to be with my friend Dani, but now I play with my friends Yuta and Choco. - Scott
I used to be seven, but now I am eight. - Alexis
I used to be lazy, but now I am neat. - Amber
I used to be dumb, but now I am smart. - Kurt
I used to be fat, but now I am skinny. - Kurt
I used to be quiet, but now I am loud. - Bridget
I used to be smart, but now I am smarter - Nathan
I used to be scared, but now I am not. - Brandi
I used to have long hair, but now I have short hair. - Madie
I used to be eight, but now I'm nine. - Devon
I used to be eight, but now I'm eight and a half. - Cortney
I used to be shy, but now I'm brave. - Devon
I used to have short bangs, but now I have long bangs. - Cortney
I used to be eight, but now I'm nine. - Christina
I used to like cats, but now I like dogs. - Nichole
I used to be seven, but now I'm eight. - Nichole
I used to be new to third, but now I'm not. - Travis
I used to be eight, but now I'm nine. - Travis
I used to have long, brown hair, but now I have short brownish-blondish hair. - Taylor
I used to be an only child, but now I'm an older sister. - Mi'chael
I used to be lonely, but now I have friends. - Jessica
I used to be new to teaching, but now I have some experience. - Miss McKenzie
I was sorry I missed it, but the cast of The Sopranos delivered the Top 10 list the other night.
Topic? Top 10 Things Never Before Said on The Sopranos.
Click here to see the clip.
Canon PowerShot S500 Digital Elph.
Ask for it by name.
Did you ever get a press release that left you...
...with that not-so-fresh feeling?
I wrote last week about the project to capture with photos the unique phrases and names people plaster on their vehicles.
We have a new entry:
When should you consider getting another dog? When the animal's toys are bigger than the dog is. Must be one mean-ass dog for it to be in pink letters.
It's a meager start, but a gallery has been born.
When we last left my buddy Drew, he was on the job and holed up in the blast furnace that is the UAE (United Arab Emirates).
He reports in his most recent e-mail that - surprise - it's still hot. Africa hot. And the country is restless:
The Abu Dahbi soccer team won a big game last night. The result was almost the entire city getting in their cars and driving the Corniche (sort of like Bayshore Drive [in Tampa] gone Arab). All the cars were beeping and people were hanging out their windows all dressed the same: full body covered with white sheets (including their heads). This all started at the exact same time I departed for the airport to drop off a VIP. Trying to worry about security with all these people in full Arab garb was quite interesting. I would have taken a picture but that in itself would have caused an international scene. Instead, I sat back and waited for the first rebel to storm the car... I wasn't going down alone. That never happened. My UAE counterpart found my concern and alarm somewhat amusing... I didn't see it that way, but at least he got a laugh about it.
Collect rubber bands, if you must.
Collect them in a manner which creates an impressive display, if you have to.
But for the love of all things holy and sacred...
...don't name your rubber ball "Reba."
Check out how humiliated the dog looks. It's like he's looking at the guy and thinking, "Dude, get some dignity."
A guy named Mr. Cup.
Mr. Stanley Cup.
Sorry. I couldn't resist. Hell, I almost slipped it the tongue.
The kids over at Fark are having a little fun at the expense of Philadelphia Flyers' goalie Robert Esche.
They seem to be inferring that he had a hard time stopping easy pucks:
Here's the reverse angle:
I'll miss the fishnets,
the Spandex, the push-up bras.
Buh-bye, skanky Ade.
It's been a couple weeks since I loaded up the Radio.Blog. And since I had it brimming with country music (not always a crowd favorite) I thought I'd cleanse the palate with some of my favorite music - late '60s and early '70s soul.
To me, this was music at its finest. By the early '70s, soul had grown beyond its doo-wop roots and Motown was starting to lose its grip on the radio. Artists like Marvin Gaye were still viable, but they were maturing beyond their Hitsville, U. S. A. days. Disco, thank God, had yet to sink its fangs into the genre.
This was what I heard when I was first starting to be aware of music. My family owned a bar and I'd get the singles from the jukebox whenever the 45s were changed out. I still have my discs of Blue Magic's "Side Show," The Chi-Lites' "Oh Girl" and The Staples Singers' "I'll Take You There." To me, there isn't a better groove than what you'll find on The Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing." If you aren't moving while listening to that song, you just aren't alive.
I remember playing The Spinners' "Rubberband Man" over and over on my turntable. I can still crack up over the thought of seeing them on the Mike Douglas Show singing that song while dancing and stretching these massive rubber bands that were color-coordinated with their three-piece suits. I thought they were so smooth. Now I know better.
Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning for beating the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals with a 2-1 win tonight.
Note to Philly: Now that Tampa has humiliated you in football AND hockey, you might consider taking a few of these:
...when what you see...
...isn't what you get?
Not exactly the kind of truck you want to tailgate.
Elvis Fest is underway.
It started in downtown Tampa with a 5K run this morning.
The Rev. Joe Kendall, who ran in the race, was there to see it all.
The Hound Dog Run was very funny. We left downtown to the tune of the Hound Dog song, and came back to Elvis singing, "(I Can't Help) Falling in Love with You." There was a very good impersonator congratulating the runners and saying, "Thankyouverymuch," many times after each of his songs.
During lunch today, Rommie unfortunately told me about a project he and some friends had years ago documenting the phrases they saw printed on the windshields and back windows of cars they saw.
Say no more.
Nailed this one in the parking lot at work today. It's a beeyoot.
Care to contribute? Snap away and e-mail it to me. I'll be glad to include it in the Salad Bowl.
My buddy James dropped a little wisdom on me this afternoon from behind his nerve-center console at Security Central:
"One man's apple pie, is another man's coconut custard."
Learn it. Love it. Live it.
Be glad you didn't live next to this guy.
In Thursday's Tampa Tribune, Walt Belcher wrote a fun story about the upcoming Elvis Fest this weekend downtown.
Those who regularly read this blog (Hi, Mom!) and who are aware of The King Project can tell you that this is no small thrill.
So when two of the Elvis impersonators, er, tribute artists, interviewed for the story came in for their photo shoots, I had to tag along...
The first King to roll through was Bill Aikins, (Yes, even The King has to sign in at the guard desk. As Mike, one of our security technicians said, "You never know.")
Bill was nice enough to wear his full black leather "Elvis Comeback Special" outfit for us, even though it was 143 degrees outside.
Rommie and Walt and I met him in the parking lot and offered to carry in his guitar case and white fringe jumpsuit. When I showed him the Elvis glasses I bought in Nashville in January, we became immediate friends.
Unlike many impersonators, Bill doesn't play guitar when he performs (he had an injury that affected a few fingers on his left hand.) So instead, he built what he calls his Elvis Karaoke Guitar.
It's one cool rig. In the place where the guitar hole would be, he has a Peavey amp. Behind the guitar's veneer, he has mounted a tape player, a power system and a cords that lead to a mike that sticks out of the neck of the guitar.
Then all he has to do is unhook the back of the guitar, hit play and rock on. That way, he can walk through parties or gatherings without worrying that people will trip over his setup.
For the photo shoot, we put the poor guy through a million gyrations. We had him strumming...
getting down into a crouch... you name it.
Here he is after he just finished a kick. (My camera was slow.) He kind of looks like Corey Feldman, doesn't he?
Rommie couldn't help but try on his glasses, which were a metal version of the pair I own.
You might remember that Rommie grew mutton chops for his Elvis Project photo:
I couldn't help but try them on too.
Still, there's no substitute for the imitation of the real thing.
Bill was a delightful gentleman for taking time to pose for photos. It was clear that he had executed the double handshake before.
This is what Bill looks like without the Presley getup. Yes, he is available for parties.
The next day Garyelvis came on by. Gary, whose real name is Gary Britt, plays his own guitar. You can see him in the Plant City Christmas Parade here.
Gary was in the Green Room waiting to go on TV when we pegged him. He couldn't have been more gracious. Again, my Elvis glasses paved the way to greater friendship.
He immediately broke out into his alarmingly accurate version of "One Night With You" for me and the handful of people in the room.
Gotta respect a man who plays a glorified broom closet like it was Caesar's Palace.
The authenticity of his presentation extends to his fingertips.
Well, sort of. The rings on his right hand are authentic, except for the rings on the first finger and pinky. Those are his Alabama football rings.
The left hand is authentic, too. "Elvis wore the lion ring because, you know, he was The King,'' he said.
El wore a EP gold ring on his left pinky. Not Garyelvis. "It's GE for Garyelvis.''
Karen got into the spirit by posing in the Elvis glasses.
Why do I look like Sammy Davis Jr. in this photo?
A university commencement addresses go, Jon Stewart had one of the best at his alma mater, William & Mary.
Where it ranks all-time is up for question, since Will Ferrell's and
Conan O'Brien's were pretty great.
Here's a sampling of Stewart's address:
I am honored to be here and to receive this honorary doctorate. When I think back to the people that have been in this position before me from Benjamin Franklin to Queen Noor of Jordan, I can’t help but wonder what has happened to this place. Seriously, it saddens me. As a person, I am honored to get it; as an alumnus, I have to say I believe we can do better. And I believe we should. But it has always been a dream of mine to receive a doctorate and to know that today, without putting in any effort, I will. It’s incredibly gratifying. Thank you. That’s very nice of you, I appreciate it.
I’m sure my fellow doctoral graduates—who have spent so long toiling in academia, sinking into debt, sacrificing God knows how many years of what, in truth, is a piece of parchment that in truth has been so devalued by our instant gratification culture as to have been rendered meaningless—will join in congratulating me. Thank you.
In a shameless ripoff of the highly successful and entertaining caption contest Kevin holds over at Wizbang every week, I thought we'd do the same here. Winners will be announced Friday.
Sure, there's a danger in posting photos of yourself online.
But not as much when you mess with them yourself:
Gotta love the new camera phone.
So to follow up on what I was saying 6 days ago, I went with a few friends to a Tampa Bay Devil Rays game.
There wasn't anything special about the game, really. There were no giveaways at the door. It was a Wednesday night. It was only the Texas Rangers in town. We were late getting out of work.
But it was baseball. It was Wednesday night. The Texas Rangers were in town. Rommie, Jose, Sean, Andrew, Steve and I didn't have to work that night. And we'd received special dispensations from our significant others.
Perfect excuses, I'd say.
If we were wondering how weird the night would get, this should have been a sign. I know, it is a sign. But it was what the sign said that tipped us off.
Grilled salad? No thanks, I'll pass.
Approaching the Tropicana Dome from any angle is a breathtaking experience. Sort of what a Betty Crocker Jello mold gone wrong looks like. Or a half-baked souffle. This is the view from First Avenue South.
To say there was an abundance of on-site parking would have been to understate things vastly. Air Force One could have executed an emergency landing and had more than enough room to do a few figure-eights.
It's hard to tell who's more underwhelmed at this experience - Rommie or the parking attendant.
A side note: The parking attendant was unfailingly polite and tried to engage us inconversation. My guess is that his friendliness had somewhat to do with his lack of customers.
"That's the loneliest parking attendant in the world,'' I told Rommie.
As you walk closer to the Trop, you take in this lovely view:
It's a drainage culvert, and while it affords a lovely vista of rocks and low-lying foliage, it also, under direct and intense sunlight, provides a pungent, aeromatic assault on the nasal passages.
Just like the Devil Rays.
We saw this metal plate embedded in the concrete on the walkway leading to the centerfield gates. Here's what it says.
I sometimes wonder what cliche baseball enthusiasts would employ if they had no "Field of Dreams" phrase to lean on. Ball Four? Church of Baseball? The American Express Card. Don't steal home without it?
At various places around the stadium, there are sculptures of players making huge catches. Inside the centerfield mezzanine, a player crashes through a wall going for the ball. In the photo above, a player skies for a fly ball.
But the face is a tad disturbing.
Damn thing looks like a blowup love doll.
When I was photographing this, a black guy walking behind me goes, "Nice face on the brutha."
There's something about these poses that strikes me as a team having a low self esteem. They aren't posed hitting home runs or stealing home. They're posed playing defense. In the worst situations possible.
Might as well pose them moving to a larger market.
Leading from the parking lot to the centerfield gates, there is a very scenic path filled with palm trees and landscaping and tasteful lighting. There used to be a band that played as people walked up. That kind of stopped a long time ago. I think the band got depressed.
Anyway, a closer look at this photo says a lot about the team's predicament in the marketplace. After all, look what the kids are wearing to the ballpark:
A Tampa Bay Lightning jersey, and...
A Bucs jersey. And not of a player that's even still with the team.
Another sign of the relative health of the team: how many scalpers are doing business outside the stadium.
At the centerfield gates, I counted... one. This guy. And he unloaded his tickets about 20 minutes ahead of time.
My friend Andrew, on the left, bought from another scalper on his way to the park. Face value: $7. Andrew's price: $5.
We bought our third-deck seats for $7 and then sat in right field.
With the Rays pitching being so bad, they turned out to be the best seats in the house.
The St. Pete Times is the official newspaper of the Devil Rays. (Nice get there, marketing guys! Give yourselves a raise!)
As you walk up, the paper has a kiosk that sells subscriptions and lets you go online.
I went over to see what he was typing...
I wonder if people remember the Times when they see this on the scoreboard:
The second thing you see as you head to your seats is the The Drunk Hut. Guess they figure you might want to be loaded if you're going to watch this mess.
The price of one beer? Fiddy cent more than I paid to get in the door.
This nice gentleman poured me a brew. It was a special micro-beer that was named Devil Ray Red.
"How nice," I said. "Red... just like the team's budget."
We had awesome seats in right field, three rows up from the front, behind the right field players. As you can see, we had lots to choose from.
By the way, that's Jose on the left. He's not drunk. He just never stops smiling. Which, you know, is a good trait to have at a ballgame where you're supposed to have fun.
Only problem is that Jose is the eternal optimist. He thinks the Rays are a good team with a great manager. I agreed with Jose and then pointed to the pitching and bullpen.
Jose's solution to the Devil Rays' losing slide: bunts. And lots of them.
"Just like the Angels do, dude."
So every time someone got on base, we'd yell, "BUNT HIM AROUND!"
Just for Jose.
The best moment came early, after he sat in his seat for the first time and took in the view:
"You know,'' Jose said. "This isn't such a bad ballpark."
It was then that the five of us held Jose down and beat the optimism out of him. We were only a half-inning into the game and we weren't going to listen to such foolishness for another eight and a half more.
Here's a larger version of that photo.
I don't want to say it was quiet in the park, but it made the Sistine Chapel sound like a mosh pit.
We were able to establish a rapport with Rays third baseman Damian Rolls. Not sure why he was in right that evening, but nothing makes sense for the team at this point. Why question that move?
But it gave us the chance to chat with D-Roll. He posed for a photo. He laughed when we asked if he saved a locker for Jeremi Gonzalez back at AAA Durham. He was a nice kid.
But all that silence was deadly, because it made our heckling that much easier and more effective when the Rangers came out on the field.
The poor recipient of our abuse? Rangers right fielder Kevin Mench.
Now, I had never heard of Kevin before. He's only been in the league about two years. He has a career .278 average. Nothing too crazy. That kind of average saves you from abuse from fans when you're on the road.
But not from us.
We started out chatting - literally chatting - with him as he took the field for the first time. We chanted his name. He doffed his cap and said hello. It's the first time a player has reacted that way when I've been at the ballpark. Usually, they're all business.
We took that as a sign that he wanted to be our ball of twine.
It started with a simple chant of his name, "MENCH!" It de-evolved from there.
In fact, Andrew made Mench his personal project. Especially as more beer came into play.
MENNNNCH!, he'd yell, How does it feel to make league minimum?
MENNNNCH! Are you taking Propecia?
Then it got ugly. We questioned his manhood.
MENNNNCH! It's okay to come out of the closet!
MENNNNCH! If you go play in Japan, they're much more accepting over there.
At a certain point, Mench stopped paying attention. And he hit a home run to shut us up. He actually had a pretty decent night:
We gave him his props and left him alone.
A lot of people got home run balls that night. The guy on the right caught this ball from Tino Martinez that got the Rays on the board with a two-run lead.
And in a night with a lot of weirdness - some of which won't be discussed here - Steve came away with not one but TWO home run balls. The first hit by Aubrey Huff had to be wrestled away from a couple women who looked like they could kick our butts. They complained to an usher that Steve took their ball. It was bull***t, but that wouldn't have stopped them from pounding him.
"Steve,'' Andrew said. "If they come at you, we don't have your back.''
The second ball was hit by a Ranger. That one appropriately got thrown back into the field of play. I mean, who wants that sort of souvenir, you know?
Man, the stuff you see when you're walking around downtown Tampa...
I love rational discourse.
A couple thoughts here:
*To which Bush is this person referring? George? Jeb? Barbara? Because if you're inferring Babs is Beelzebub, you're gonna have a fight on your hands.
*Assuming that one of the Bushes was the anti-Christ, don't you think they would have burned this sign down? I mean, they would have some serious heat at their disposal.
Here's a dandy experiment:
Click here. Then spread the fingers of your hand and place them on the table. All you have to do is stare and concentrate at the center of the screen for about 60 seconds. Then, look at your hand.
Esquire is a brilliant magazine. The book has reinvented itself repeatedly over the past decade into a more readable, fun publication. There's a reason it just took four trophies at the National Magazine Awards.
And unlike a lot of publications, it gets the Web. The latest example is the gallery of Brutally Honest Personals, in which they asked regular people to submit a personal ad that actually describes their life. Warts and all.
Like Laine, a 37-year-old actress from Jersey City who says she's "buried under a mountain of credit-card bills and debt from spending like Paris Hilton on a bender, I live in the lousy part of Jersey City with three dogs and two rats, named Ratso Rizzo and Albino Andy."
There's a keeper!
My buddy Drew is over in United Arab Emirates on a work trip.
Believe me, it's no pleasure cruise, if these comments in his e-mail this week are any indication:
Oh My God...it is hot here. Was 120 degrees yesterday and I think it was about 110 today. Granted, it is very dry, but 110 degrees is still 110 degrees.
Anyway, to keep his spirits up, I sent him a link to a Web site. Nothing crazy. Just something to make him laugh.
Instead of taking him to that site, he got this message back from the UAE goverment:
We apologize the site you are attempting to visit has been blocked due to its content being inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates.
In the event you think this site should not be blocked then please send an "unblock" request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt at X-Entertainment has a great look at some classic ads and classifieds featured in the back of 1980s comic books.
I know this will come to no surprise, but I think I bought some of this stuff.
J-Walk is moving to Arizona. There are a few things he's decided to part with.
Like his 50-pound collection of useless promotional CDs.
I like the part where he spread them out on the front lawn. I bet his neighbors were pleased.
Ever wonder what it would have been like if Carol Channing had starred on Three's Company?
Apparently someone has. In fact, too many people have.
Two new rules have been added to the Sports Management Handbook:
*If you're going to make fun of Indiana, don't impersonate David Letterman.
*If you can't sell season tickets during a Stanley Cup run, a free beer giveaway is not your second option.
Drove over to St. Pete last night after work to watch the Tampa Bay Devil Rays lose to the Texas Rangers, 9-8.
The score doesn't indicate how lopsided this one was. Or how entertaining the evening was for the group of guys I went with.
The photo above shows where we sat in right field. Sorry that it's a crappy picture phone shot, but my camera's battery went out in about the fifth inning.
I'll upload more images tonight after my camera is charged up.
I alluded to this earlier in the week, but I've swapped out the tunes on Radio.Blog. Two weeks ago, I went to a country-and-western themed party. I made a couple CDs to add to the ambiance, and ever since, I've had the tunes in my head. So I thought I'd inflict them upon my unsuspecting visitors.
I'm not what you might call a typical country fan. I don't like everything that comes down the pike. I think Kenny Chesney is a tank-top Jimmy Buffet wannabe. I think Shania Twain is gold-bricking opportunist who rides the country vein when it suits her. Garth Brooks, I could take or leave.
Instead, I tend to go for either older artists, like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard Tammy Wynette or Waylon Jennings. My grandmother used to listen to Jim Reeves on her RCA Victrola sing "He'll Have To Go." I think Willie Nelson's "Blue Eye Cryin' In The Rain" is a perfect song. I used to play Charlie Rich's "The Most Beautiful Girl" on the family jukebox in the family bar. George Jones' "Choices" is one of the most excrutiating heartbreak songs ever written.
But I like some of the contemporary artists, too. I already avowed my love for Lyle Lovett. He's what I would call "Literate Country." Clever lyrics, interesting melodies. Is that too much to ask? That's where Joe Ely's "The Road Goes On Forever" falls in. So does "One More For The Road" by Ely's former band, The Flatlanders.
Help Rob out, would ya?
Anyone have two-fiddy large on them? I need to borrow.
I get the best e-mail.
Got another last night from Quiet Riot vocalist Kevin Dubrow. Seems he's got a new CD out (The cover of which is featured in the photo above). It's all cover tunes. A tour will follow.
He's also doing his own press. My favorite line, "It’s not a ‘Karaoke Kevin’ album!"
The album has an interesting lineup:
From: Kevin DuBrow
Sent: Monday, May 10, 2004 2:47 AM
Subject: For Immediate Release
Kevin DuBrow is "In For The Kill"
Shrapnel Records will release QUIET RIOT vocalist Kevin DuBrow’s first ever solo album titled "In For The Kill" on May 25. The album is a collection of DuBrow’s favorite songs from the 1970’s. The track listing is as follows:
Burn On the Flame - Sweet
Good Rocking Tonight - Montrose
Black Sheep Of The Family - Quatermass/Rainbow/Chris Farlowe
Speed King - Deep Purple
Stay With Me - The Faces
Red Light Mama, Red Hot - Humble Pie
Gonna Have A Good Time - The Easybeats
Drivin’ Sister - Mott The Hoople
Razzmatazz - Nazareth
20th Century Boy - T- Rex
Rollin' With My Baby - Silverhead
"I know that like myself many people are apprehensive about an album of cover songs, and usually for good reason. But I think that this CD has it’s own unique sound, personality, and still kicks ass. I feel that we stayed true to the original songs while at the same time did our best to make them our own,'' says DuBrow.
Mandy Block, the woman in the Italian sausage costume who was clubbed with a bat by a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball player last summer, has decided to retire from competitive sausage racing at Miller Park to take psychology classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
If not for her heroic decision to continue her career after the melee, we would have this great lede on her story by the Associate Press:
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Wisconsin's most famous sausage has decided to retire, but she'll always relish the memories.
Comedian Alan King died Sunday at age 76. There's a a good bio of him here.
I once saw him perform standup. He was a master of timing and setup. I've heard him described as "Jack Benny with an edge." Benny probably wished he was as versatile as King, who could do drama in a film like "Casino" as well as he could comedy.
And true to his borscht-belt roots, he could kill with one-liners.
Here are some of my favorites:
""As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex. Except for salami and eggs. Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced.''
""If you want to read about love and marriage, you've got to buy two separate books.''
""Banks have a new image. Now you have a friend, your friendly banker. If the banks are so friendly, how come they chain down the pens?''
""Marriage is nature's way of keeping us from fighting with strangers.''
A Jewish man asked his wife if she would like diamond jewelry, a new car or a trip for their anniversary. She responded that she wanted a divorce.
"Oy vey," the man replied. "I wasn't planning on spending that much."
On his parent's Russian roots: King took his mother, Minnie, to see "Fiddler on the Roof," thinking the fictitious village of Anatevka might bring back memories of her own childhood village. "And when the show was over and we were back on the street," Mr. King wrote in his autobiography 'Name-Dropping: The Life and Lies of Alan King', "I said, 'Ma, how did you enjoy it? Did it bring back memories?'"
"'It was wonderful,' she said. 'Only I don't remember so much singing.' "
On Jewish Holidays: King made famous the short summary of every Jewish holiday: "They tried to kill us. We won. Let's eat."
On meeting royalty: Following a performance for the British Royal Family, he was introduced to Queen Elizabeth. "How do you do, Mr. King?" she is reported to have said. "How do you do, Mrs. Queen?" he said.
My son was sick, okay? Belly ache, the whole nine yards. That's why I couldn't go to a colleague's birthday party.
But if I had known there would be amateur acrobatics, and that it would be captured on film, well, I would have forced my offspring to suck it up and deal.
I mean, this is outstanding documentation of when a party officially "jumps the shark":
Penny and Cloe call this formation, "The Angel."
Would you believe that the woman on top is the boss of the woman below?
Neither would I.
You might think that three days after the fact would be too late to write about Cinco de Mayo. You might wonder if the words "Cinco de Ocho" have a stale ring to them.
You would be wrong. At least for me, anyway.
A few days ago, I detailed my CDM (Cinco de Mayo) travails. But I lacked the proper photographic documentation.
Thanks to my friend Alan and his compadre the Rev. Joe Kendall I now have such documentation.
This was what my desk looked like. I tried to put on the Mexican shawl. My melon was too big. Instead, it looks like I've been declared dead in Guadalajara. (Note the sombrero-themed trinkets in the foreground.)
I didn't think it existed, but I was able to find this sombrero garland at Party City.
This means, of course, that my official assessment of Party City is that Party City seriously rocks.
I was unable to get out of work on time to go to Sombrero Night at the Clearwater Threshers game. But Alan was. You can see the style hat they gave out. I think he looks quite distinguished. (The Rev. Joe shot this photo for Al.)
One day, there will be justice in this world and someone will document the tireless effort expended by the dedicated men and women who serve as ushers and parking attendants in our country's entertainment venues. If not for gentlemen like this devoted soul, who wore this sombrero with pride, the whole illusion that this was a game deep in the heart of Mexico would have been ruined.
God bless the men and women like him.
Halloween comes early in Clearwater. Unfortunately for this gentlemen, not even the best costume could open Triple Play Pizza for service that night.
This guy's nickname? Pinata Walker.
It's getting kind of warm outside. It's May in Florida, after all. A month from now, it'll be a full-on oven bake here.
But for now, we're still holding on to the last vestiges of what has been a spring filled with cool temperatures, clear skies and perfect conditions.
On that note, here's your Florida sunset screensaver for the year. It's a shot of Tampa Bay taken by my friend Alan along the Courtney Campbell Causeway on Wednesday.
My Uncle Pete, (yes, the one who was in the paper posing with a potato he grew that was shaped like a moose), sent an e-mail that he has indeed reached his home in Alaska from his winter place in Florida. He and his wife Cecile have a couple lovely cabins on the Kenai Peninsula along Cook Inlet.
For those who have never been to the nation's largest state, you should know that Alaska has a long history of speculation and gold-rush fever. People either run to Alaska to make money or to hide from the world.
My Uncle Pete seems to have found the former:
We are proud and very sofisticated homesteaders here in Alaska. This is one of my friends' RV---That means Motor Home-- He wants me to go in with him and manufacture them for the market in the Lower 48. Probably a better deal than the Stock Market!!!! PLEASE NOTICE THE ART WORK OF OUR STATE FLAG!!!!!!NORTH TO ALASKA!!!!!
Uh, Pete? You might want to save your nickels on this one.
I attempted this morning to replace the sombrero tunes on Radio Blog with country music.
It only sort of worked.
Two songs only loaded partially. Then Matraca Berg's "Back In The Saddle" apparently uploaded at double speed, making it sound as if she was singing through a coma. It's funny to listen to, but only if you're not the one who spent an hour converting the sound file into something you thought would work.
Anyway, please be patient as I work out the kinks. Might take a while.
Well, Cinco de Mayo didn't go as planned.
I had grand designs for this to be the highlight of the Year of the Sombrero, a high holy day for Hispanic hats, as it were.
The day's potential for glory clearly exceeded my grasp.
First, I had a seminar to attend. The moderator brought up during a break that I do something called The Sombrero Project. That prompted me to produce a backpack full of decorations I brought to work. They included:
A ceramic chili pepper taco holder; a squeaky sombrero-wearing prairie dog; a bottle of Tapatio sauce (the man on the front of the label wears a sombrero); sombrero salt and pepper shakers; an expandable sombrero centerpiece; 8-foot-long sombrero garland; a Mexican shawl; and a photo collage of sombrero statues taken at South of the Border.
I started busting these out during the seminar. The reaction went from laughter to pity moans in about 10 seconds. Unfortunately it took me 30 seconds to unload it all on the table. I didn't care. I couldn't stop myself.
Then, once the seminar was over at midday, I went back to my desk and reassembled the display. There was almost universal indifference by my co-workers.
What I didn't have was an actual sombrero. My Official Professional Sombrero was in the back of my wife's car (I brought it to a party and forgot it was back there). I had a second sombrero, but I loaned that one out.
Here's the scenerio:
Time: 8 a.m.
Date: May 5
Scene: A knock on my door
Action: I open the door to see my neighbor Autumn, who is dating my other neighbor, Mike.
Dialogue: "Mike has a Cinco de Mayo party today and wondered if he could borrow your sombrero.''
Sure, I say, no problem, since I have two.
I give her a new one I bought just for the day.
I go back in the house, discover my other sombrero is M.I.A.
I then realize I will be sombrero-challenged the entire day. That's a bad, bad realization to have on Cinco de Mayo. Take my word.
Then I had to work late and didn't get to go to the baseball game in Clearwater where they were giving out free sombreros to the first 500 fans at the ballpark.
I did have the good fortune to have my friend Al shooting pictures of it all, so maybe he'll share in the next few days.
On behalf of the Salad Bowl, best wishes for Cinco de Mayo.
As I said a few days ago, I'll be attending the Clearwater Threshers game tonight. To celebrate the holiday, the first 500 fans through the gate get a free sombrero. I am incapable of resisting such an offer.
In honor of the holiday, I've loaded onto the Radio.Blog menu the only two songs about sombreros that I could find. The song by They Might Be Giants, "Hovering Sombrero" is actually a pretty good song. The second track is, well, barely tolerable. But it met the minimum requirement of having the word sombrero in the name. If the Chipmunks sang about sombreros to a disco beat in a non-native language (I know, Chipmunks have no native tongue. I'm aware of that.), it might sound like this. During a hangover. In hell.
I also found these photos in the Side Salad archive. The posts they relate to are unimportant. They're just weird enough on their own to speak for themselves:
* A rabbit with a sombrero on its head.
*A photo of Bob Barker wearing a sombrero during his "Truth of Consequences" days.
Lastly, I have a couple more photos of sombreros captured in nature. Or at least while I was walking around with my camera.
A sign outside a bar in downtown Tampa. I would argue that there is no fiesta without a sombrero.
But then, I state the obvious.
This was a contest I watched during a company picnic at my wife's place of bidness. The idea: to take a sombrero off your head and put it on the next person's head until the deejay stops the music. The person without a sombrero on their head has to step out. It's musical chairs in hat form, essentially.
Should have seen the last person without a hat. She cried like a baby. Almost made me want to give her my sombrero.
My camera is dead. Long live my camera.
She served me well, she did. Lasted less than a year, but took more than 5,000 shots during that time. I pushed it to the limit of the battery and electronic memory frontier. And then it pushed back.
It was the camera that took almost all the photos for The Mullet Project, The Hulk Hands Project, The Sombrero Project (and its subsequent parts (Dos, Tres and Quatro),and The King Project. It was held by Sammy Hagar - before he went back to Van Halen. It went to Tampa Bay Lightning games and a New York Yankees spring training game. It went to Buccaneers games and garage sales and the Plant City Strawberry Festival. Twice.
it's been to engagement parties, promotion parties and, of course, sombrero parties.
We lived a lifetime of photos together.
Damn thing yesterday wouldn't recognize the memory card format. Then it wouldn't talk with my computer. Then it kept shutting off and quitting and requesting that I input the date and time every time I turned it on.
That's far too much nursing for it to be fun.
So I took it back to Costco and got an upgrade:
I've heard great things about Canon's Elph line. Friends have been suggesting them for years.
All of which means that for the first time in about a year and a half, I'm without a camera. That's a blessing to the people who have to live and work in my vicinity, but a curse for me. Random, stupid and meaningless photography of everyday activities - and some that aren't so ordinary - is my heroin.
But I have a temporary methadone fix. I just bought a new Sprint camera phone. (My last one was stolen. I swear.)
As you can see, it doesn't take the best pics, but it gets me by:
This was a 70-pound pig being cooked on a spit at a party I went to last night. Not great color in the photo, but what do you expect? It's a phone! And a voice recorder. And game console. And calendar keeper. And... you get the point.
This is Chef Bobby, cooker of said pig. Bobby roasts a mean pig.
This sow's had better days.
Saw this yesterday at Costco:
That's right. An oversized plastic chess set. Each tile moves, each piece moves.
The display just... sat there... in the warehouse. People feared to look or touch it in case there was some defective genetic warping mechanism in the set.
Don't get me wrong. I like chess as much as the next person.
I just don't need the pawn to be bigger than my dog.
And what was the price for this beauty?
Friedman Joseph, Geist Morgan, Hale Scott, Cook Elena, Miller Mariah, Foong Chwee Sze.
In the words of Trump: Yah fiyahd.
Not you, per se. Just the IP numbers you're associated with. Thanks for not having software that doesn't prevent your Web addresses from co-opting my blog with lame-ass spam.
Can you feel it? There's an electricity in the air. A new sense of magic. As if the world was birthing something fresh and exciting.
Ahhh, now I know what it is. Wing has a new CD out, Wing Sings the Songs You Love.
Wing last was mentioned in the Salad Bowl in December, when she issued her holiday collection, "Everyone Sings Carols With Wing."
If you've yet to sample a little Wingage, you owe it to yourself to bathe in a sample of her stylings of the Lionel Ritchie/Diana Ross classic,
If that's not enough overwrought melodic melodrama for you, give a listen to her version of Mariah Carey's Hero.