Friday, November 23, 2007

The Retailer's Prayer

Our Retailer, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Sales;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
at the mall as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily coupons,
and forgive us our frugality,
as we forgive those hardcore shoppers who get there
before us; and lead us not into debt on Black Friday,
but deliver us our online purchases before the 15th
of December. Amen.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tofurkeys of Mass Destruction

The first *and last* time I attempted a faux turkey, chaos ensued. Here is a short account...

I was in Gainesville at the time with my girlfriend. It was Thanksgiving. We'd been invited over to this pretentious vegan slag's house for a nice, animal friendly meal.

It's not as if I dislike vegetarians or vegans or any other person based on their dietary decisions alone. I'm not a racist. However, this had to be the most foul smelling and obnoxious hippie I'd ever met. I didn't like him and I think the feeling was mutual. Perhaps it had something to do with my daily showering habits.

He being a family friend of my better half, the pressure was on my girlfriend to accept the invitation despite my protests. "Just look at it as a new experience. Something to write about," she said to me, my willpower caving in by the second.

"Maybe you're right."

We arrived around five and the evening began to pass without incident. Even the hippie and I had started chatting it up. "Hey man, I almost forgot I hafta cook the turkey," he said as he stood up.

"It's tofurkey, jackass," I muttered.

As he rose up from his chair, a cloud of body odor and patchouli followed him, launching a full scale attack on the olfactories of anyone foolish enough to cross his path. I noticed my girlfriend giving me an approving eye from across the living room. The message was clear, "Be good now."

In less than ten minutes he returned from the kitchen. "Uh guys... I might need your help. There's a problem," he said.

A problem indeed, it was a BFP. It seems that some ovens have advanced enough to where they can clean themselves. This makes sense inasmuch as scrubbing an oven is a tedious chore, nay should we forget that oven cleaner is nasty stuff.

I'm staring at the tofu turkey inside of the oven. The door is locked. The temperature is now over 500 degrees.

We alternated between watching television and the soybean based turkey replicant slowly destructing in the kitchen. We placed bets on if it would explode and if it did, in how much time. After about an hour the oven began to cool down and the door automatically unlocked. It had exploded. I was out of five bucks. Shit.

"Hey, can we still use this miso gravy?" said one of the hippy's friends. He looked vaguely like this roadie I met once at a Widespread Panic concert. "Miso hungry! Me me so hungry! Me love you long time!" he began to chant.

It was decided that we would hunt down something, anything to eat. The vegan, his friends and my girlfriend ate sushi, using the miso gravy as a dip.

I ate a hamburger.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Diarios de Motocicleta"

"This isn't a tale of heroic feats. It's about two lives running parallel for a while with common aspirations and similar dreams."

And thus begins The Motorcycle Diaries, starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Rodrigo De la Serna as Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and Alberto Granado, respectively. I decided to re-watch this movie after seeing it a few years ago in the theater. Initially I went to see it because of the obvious likenesses to On the Road and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Yet again it didn't fail to make an impression on me after the second and subsequently third time watching it.

The movie opens with Ernesto, a medical student on the verge of graduating as he and biochemist friend Alberto plan a road trip taking the two around the continent of South America. The adventure is set up as an experiment: plans, equipment, methods, and goals are outlined beforehand as they pack up their belongings in Buenos Aires. Even though the plan for Ernesto and Alberto is to live like outlaws while 'the melancholy of what's left behind fades to the excitement that lies ahead', can they really prepare for the unexpected challenges of life on the road?

This is one of the major themes found in TMD, the metaphor of life as a road trip. You lose things. You get dirty. Curves, signs, forked roads, kindness/cruelty of strangers, they all figure into the quintessential experience of these travelers leaving the land of their birth and into the heart of their country. Of course themes of friendship, honesty, love, sex, death, and others are found in the movie, but they are all subtle--understated with purpose.

"All of Latin America is ahead, Buenos Aires behind..."
Along the way Ernesto or "Che" (or "Fuser" as his friend Alberto nicknamed him) meets people with different problems. Some are sick. Others are not welcome in their own country. It is after an encounter with a poor mining couple that we really begin to see the shift in Che's consciousness from a naive youth to the more idealistic man for which he will be known and ultimately judged.

This movie keeps Che's politics in the background. As mentioned before, there is an obvious change in his attitude, but the movie ultimately leaves it up to each person who watches it to decide exactly what kind of change this is.

Great acting. Great cinematography. Great music.


Monday, October 1, 2007

The Alcohol Chronicles: Oktoberfest

This weekend Bluewater Bay's rendition of Oktoberfest went down at Bitburger German Pub and in the adjoining supermarket parking lot.

Oktoberfest is the only kind of yearly gathering held here. It's basically BB's attempt at some kind of coherent festival though it pales in comparison to the Mullet Festival which I will no doubt be dragged, pulled, or pushed into a month from now. But more about that later...

As to be expected there was plenty of hearty German fare. It's a completely family-centered shin dig with bouncy slides, a rock climbing wall, and the like. There was no public nudity or bierleichen, which translates to "beer corpses", however I did observe one outlet for debauchery--Das Boot.

The Boot consists of a glass modeled after its namesake containing two liters of beer that upon ordering will cost you 75 bucks. That's for the deposit. If you can chug the whole thing without stopping it's free. Otherwise, it's twenty. You get the other $55 back after returning the glass unscratched, unscathed, unbroken. I'm under the impression that if you chug the whole thing and THEN vomit, it's still free though. Let me just go on the record to say I've never been party to the drinking of this mythical beast, but two weekends ago I did meet someone who had. Buh HUH HUH!!

Before leaving I walked by all the little tents and ran into a few old friends. Went to Schooner's with The Traveling Monkey and had a few Red Stripes. Drank. Shot the proverbial breeze. Made a new friend. Came home. Watched Finding Neverland. Highly recommend it. Two thumbs up.Went golfing that morning with Dad.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Psychopathic Iranian Dictator Gives Speech at College in NYC

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presented a speech at Columbia University on Monday, September 24th in which he speculated on:

1.) The possibility of the Holocaust having not occurred.

2.) Iranian women being "the freest in the world."3.) Gay people not existing in Iran.

4.) Why scientists should consider the possibility that the moon is actually made not actually of blue cheese, but feta. (Okay, this claim I made up but compared to the other shit coming out of this guy's mouth this statement would've fit right in.)

His appearance at the school was a sort of primer for the speech he gave on Tuesday to the United Nations in which he declared the issue of Iran's nuclear research "closed".

Sure, everyone can agree that freedom of speech is a good thing. It's great! But when people think that they're being forced to extend this right to dictators with well documented pasts of committing crimes against humanity, their feelings can quickly change.The college president, Lee Bollinger prefaced Ahmadinejad by saying, "It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas or our naiveté about the very real dangers inherent in such ideas. It is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable when we open the public forum to their voices." He also cited the quotable expression about how free speech is "an experiment, as all life is an experiment." and apologized in advance for any suffering that giving this speaker a public forum would cause.

He finished on this subject, "In the moment, the arguments for free speech will never seem to match the power of the arguments against, but what we must remember is that this is precisely because free speech asks us to exercise extraordinary self-restraint against the very natural but often counterproductive impulses that lead us to retreat from engagement with ideas we dislike and fear. In this lies the genius of the American idea of free speech."

Bollinger furthered the introduction by condemning the government of Iran for unjust imprisonment, public executions, and other violations of human rights.

I think free speech can transcend politics. I think that debate in all forms is usually a good thing and I really think Columbia's prez eloquently expressed this--His thoughts on freedom of speech were the best I've ever heard in my life.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

University of Florida Student Tasered at John Kerry Speaking Event

The University of Florida hosted Senator John Kerry in a speaking forum Monday which went according to planned until a UF student took over the microphone and began to ramble on like... Well... He sounded off like a left-wing political pundit after ingesting a few hits of strong ecstasy.

His line of half-serious, half-loaded questioning was abruptly ended when he was seized by police.

The chaos that follows is disturbing. The student is wrestled to the floor and then tazered by police.

I know that this video will be politicized like hell over the following days as an argument platform for both liberals and conservatives. It will most likely be taken out of context and replayed in the light that fits the agenda of whoever it is that's showing it. Here is the next day's article by the Associated Press.

I've personally witnessed crazy conspiracy-theorists go apeshit at UF's speaking engagements in the past. They are usually wearing sweatpants; eyes as red as stoplights they slur out how they found this obscure internet site that can prove direct correlation between IBM and George Bush's cooperation with Nazi Germany.

These people are usually sad, tragic figures that get out their question with a mental eye roll from the speaker and a spattering of snickers from the audience.
I have seen people ushered off by the event staff, but never like this...

I guess my take on the whole fiasco is that while I admire the kid's tenacity, he was kind of a moron. Sure he made everyone feel a little uncomfortable, but sometimes that's what it takes to get an "honest" answer out of politicians. But it's like, "Hey kid! Dude, if you're going to get yourself arrested AND tazed, make sure it's for something other than looking like a huge crybaby."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Musing

Literary agent blogger Nathan Bransford and author Anne Dayton recently judged over 500 online entries to determine what makes a great opening hook. The "Stupendously Ultimate First Line Challenge", as it was formally named saw sentences ranging from transgressive splatterpunk imagery to purple-prose, literary aims to heavy-fisted schlock, but also some very solid writing. Most of the contestants realized the intrinsic spirit of fun that was the goal of the SUFLC, but within hours of announcing the finalists Bransford resigned to switch the voting to write-ins only because of "irregular activity", i.e. skulduggery.

And now... In no particular order, my top nine favorite first-liners **with comments.**

1.)lafreya said...
Here is the question the people of my hometown of Vigilant, Michigan want answered: Why did I, Grace Johnson, an African-American high school senior, an honor student, take two bullets to protect the life of the white supremacist jackass Jonathan Gilmore?

**The character Grace juxtaposed by jackass Jonathon really grabs my attention.**

2.)Conduit said...
His hands just looked dirty to casual eyes, a slight darkening on the knuckles, a shadow on his palm.

**This is a pretty good line. You can read into it a variety of ways and it's honest.**

3.) Church Lady said...
I was unaware of being watched.

**Although to me there's a disjunct of the narrator being 'unaware' while simultaneously 'watched', it grabbed my attention. I would even dare to call it a one sentence suspense story.**

4.)James Bailey said...
I had a professor my junior year in college who told us that one day we'd each wake up and realize we hated our lives, and that this knowledge would set us free. From my novel, THE GREATEST SHOW ON DIRT.

**I read your response to Amused Lurker that Nathan had already passed on your query for this work. But imagine the irony if this sentence would have won. It's good. I like it.**

5.)eric hill said...
It was a time of Miles,Coltrain,and Warhol; a time when the answer was blowing in the wind and we were all Dharma bums howling on the Coney Island of the Mind while the English were reinventing Rock-n-Roll and men eighteen to thirty-five were looking for some way out of the draft.

**This sentence conjures up the ghost whisperings of a favorite author. I enjoy zeitgeist pieces. You dig?**

6.)derek said...
I'd only been in love with her for ten minutes when everything turned to shit.

**A wedding in Las Vegas. It's all playing out before me in my mind.**

7.)dramabird said...
The gates of the Emerald City were rotting.

**I like the metaphor of a doomed city--Steven King did it in 'Hearts in Atlantis'. Excellent**

8.)trenchgold said...
The sky was a sloppy Picasso.

**Made me thing of a drunk looking at, but maybe not really 'seeing' the starry night. Very evocative of a perfection soured. Anyone who uses the word sloppy and Picasso in the same sentence gets a nod from me.**

9.)Matt said...
They came from the east, devastating the crops and leaving tiaras and cloak-pins in their wake.

**The British are coming! This is surreal and would I hope to find something in it akin to the work of Tom Robbins.**

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Everybody's joining in on the hoopla, throwing in their two cents about how this lady is (to quote Steely Dan Jethro Tull), "thick as a brick." Now I enjoy watching beautiful people making complete idiots out of themselves as much as the next guy, but if I had to throw an alternate theory out there it would be that Miss South Carolina's a genius, or at least advanced in the knowledge of how to prolong that 15 minutes of fame. She did the shit on purpose.

I think:
1.) She realizes that she probably won't win the damn competition anyway.
2.) She realizes that in terms of media exposure, sheer stupidity trumps intelligence nine out of oh... nine times.
3.) Dunkin Donuts has got great coffee.

I can't say I blame her. You know those "person on the street" interviews that Jay Leno does where he asks questions like, "Who was the first president of the US". The people who answer George Washington Carver, or Abraham Lincoln, these are the people who "get it". I'll bet dollars to donuts (or cups of java from dunkin donuts) that she's on a reality t.v. show in six months. If not, then in a year (just as the last person in the country is forgetting about her) she'll take the Paris Hilton route a la "One Night in South Carolina".

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Alcohol Chronicles

Hangovers are funny little buggers. I woke up this morning feeling a bit woozy after a few Red Stripes too many (courtesy of The Traveling Monkey) that we had at the little tiki bar, or "Hemingway Bar" here in Bluewater.

After a long day of looking for used cars in the little shit box dearerships around FWB we decided it was time for a well deserved beer or two... or three, four, five...arg. I forgot to ask the bartender which Muzak or Sirius channel she had it on, but they were playing some really good music--Counting Crows, Nirvana, John Mayer, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, that kind of stuff which was a welcome change from the honky tonk, country music that droned in every office of every used car salesman we talked to all day.

This place really is great. It's got a view of the harbor and the boats and for anyone who's reading this that knows of LJ Schooner's I dare you to describe it as anything other than "picturesque". For bonus points, the only bartenders I guess this place hires are attractive females. In the words of Mr. Burns.... Excellent Smithers...

Last night there was an eclectic mix of people hanging around sucking on their bottles like hungry infants. Some kid that goes to school in Orlando and is supposedly something of a golfing phenom was drinking with his dad. He explained to me in great detail that the key to golf when taking a shot is to think of a ham sandwhich. There you go, a ham sandwich. I'm pretty sure you can substitute lunchmeats or even wheat for rye, but the point is to let your mind relax without overthinking your swing. Sounds good to me.

There was this hilarious drunk redheaded girl that had the most infectious giggle; a cool dog too, I think it was a lab and pitbull mix. Other characters included: three Air Force guys obviously recovering from a long weekend, weird/creepy pipe smoking mp3-player-listening-to-guy, a babyfaced biker kid that was somehow connected to the hilarious redhead, a couple of bleary-eyed old boat captains, and of course the bartender.

It was all pretty standard happenings I guess. The golfing guy's dad fell down the steps and onto the floor, but other than a bruised ego I think he was OK. The bartender gave us a crash course on the enigma which is the fake/polite female laugh. The creepy guy continued to be creepy and the biker guy turned out to be the roommate of the hilarious drunk redheaded girl, although as of this blogging they are "just friends". Poor guy, I have the feeling that I'll be seeing him there more often than I want to.

The TM and I finished the night off with a bite at the Awful Waffle. The bartender and the roomates asked us to meet them for drinks at the only bar that was close by and open but it was already late and the day had been long.