Wednesday, April 30, 2008

1997:Pipe Dreams Is On The Internet!

So, it's 1997 and I have been submitting my Pipe Dreams packages for about five years at that point. My art was still getting better. In this set of strips I changed Dirk's hair to be less like stringy black hair and more like a light colored thick head of hair. Gritzko's appearance changed a little too. I had made his moustache thicker making it look more like a real moustache and less like a John Waters pencil one, after all I was using an ink brush now.

I'm a bit proud of the cover. It has the Pipe Dreams group at an ice cream store much like an ice cream store I would frequently go to about ten years later.

I like ice cream.

The most significant event that occurred in the life of Pipe Dreams and my own life at the time was the fact that my GATT and I got the Internets. I resisted getting the Internet because I thought it would be yet another indulgence I would waste many hours away on.

I was correct but it didn't take long for me to realize that I can put my Pipe Dreams online. Boy, did it take many trial and errors for me to figure it out.

My GATT was good with computers but didn't really know much about the graphic nature of it and I was worse. But the day I put Pipe Dreams on the Internet was triumphant. I thought that finally I will make my fortune with Pipe Dreams on the internet. Well, it was the late 90's and the whole internet boom was at its peak, so I don't think that was out of control. Anyway, what's left of my original website can be found here.

This set of Pipe Dreams I was trying to balance my character Skat's friends with his family. I was living in the suburbs, grew up in the suburbs so my urban experience was getting farther and farther in the past. I was kind of vague where the gang was living. It seems they were all living together but really in my mind they were not.

I think some of my most well constructed strips were in this set of Pipe Dreams. Anyway, enjoy this flashback.

Feeling Funky!

If It's Tuesday, it must be Karaoke.

It was a good night last night, I gave notice to UPS, YES!

My life begins again!

I go to Jack's and there was no "Rock, Paper, Scissors" Bud Light promo to be found.

The Mets win in 11, though Johan Santana lost a win.

And my voice was as clear as possible, so that means I can do falsetto!

It wasn't all good though. I had to deal with one of those cheesy con artist types. You know the guy. It's someone who comes up to you, tells a sad sack story about how they lost money in one way or another and need some to get them on their way to a destination of at least 40 miles away.

His spiel was that his female companion lost her handbag after going to a wedding at Cape Cod and need money to get gas to get themselves to Cape May. He said someone was kind enough to give them 40 dollars at Cape Cod and just needed to get some more to reach Cape May.

Yeahhhh, it used to be quarter that they begged from you, then a dollar or two, now the man wants forty dollars.

As any woman who has dated me in the past knows, I'm a hard person to pry money from. Okay, the guy was dressed pretty nicely and I'm always wondering when a con artist does this is don't you have family that can help out? Between the TWO of you, I'm expected to believe there is no way for you to get help form a friend. Where's your phone? Your wallet? Your ability to pick up a pay phone?

This kind of con annoys me because it involves two people who feel the need to come up with the same ol' same ol' sob story. A guy used to come into Sonya's about twice a month and state how his car broke down on I-5 and needed some money to get it fixed, I would point him to a auto shop near by, but he'd insist they wouldn't help. He'd never remember later that he pulled this con one me before. Sometimes he'd be bold enough to harass a customer.

Anyway I told the man I had no cash and went into Jack's, plopped down a crisp twenty dollar bill and got a Magic Hat No. 9. I felt nooooooo guilt.

Anyway my voice felt good this night so I decided to take on some challenging songs. The first one was "Sexx Laws" by Beck. I wanted to sing "Sour Girl" by Stone Temple Pilots but it was not available. Anyway, it's a song full of Non Sequitors and a high pitched wail at the end of the chorus. I nailed the wail but flubbed a few of the more tongue twisting words. Here's the video from 1999, I had never seen it before and noted that Jack Black makes an appearance. You know the saying "Too Much Jack Black Is Whack!"


After the song I plopped down a ten dollar bill and got myself a Sierra Nevada, mmmm that's tasty!

I was feeling a bit funky, so I decided to sing a chestnut from the late 70's "Back In Love Again" from the funk group LTD featuring a young Jeffery Osbourne. This is a fun song I like to sing when I want to get the people to move on the dance floor, which they did. It doesn't matter how old the song is, the young folks will dance the danceable songs. That's why I don't sing the torch songs like some of the later Jeffery Osborne songs. Anyway, here's a not so clear song clip from Soul Train.


After the song I decide I needed more courage and bought a Sam Adams with a wrinkled 5 dollar bill. Say what you will, for a mainstream beer Sam Adams hits the spot.

Now I was feeling cocky. I decide to take on the falsetto disco classic "You Made Me Feel Like Dancing" by Leo Sayer. It's my alternative to the "hipsters" who like to sing "Staying Alive". It's only the second time I tried singing it. The first time was at an obscure bar in the Magnolia section of Seattle. I did terrible but it was because my voice was hoarse that previous night. Anyway, I nailed it this night. I missed one line because I forgot to get out of falsetto in the bridge. Anyway, the response was great, I was a hit, Karaoke Steve, the host appreciated it.
A good fun night. Anyway, I was looking for a clip of Leo Sayer doing the song but was unimpressed with the clips. I then remembered that he appeared on "The Muppet Show" and found this clip. The song was changed a little, but it's the muppets, man!


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jesus Christ! I Can't Say G** D*mm*t?!

Back in 2001 I worked a cook for a gay bar called Sonya's Bar & Grill. It was an easy job because as a restaurant it was very slow.

Let me explain. the state of Washington has curious laws involving the serving of alcohol. It's easy to open a tavern wear you can serve only beer and wine. This explains the phenomenon of micro brews that prospered on the west coast.

However if you wanted to serve hard liquor and cocktails a drinking establish must have a kitchen facility that serves food for a certain amount of hours in the day. So many of the bars merely have a kitchen to serve the high profit margin hard liquor.

Anyway, the slowness of Sonya's allowed me to interact with our customers. Even though Sonya's was a gay bar, the variety of the clientele was impressive. The mostly gay men were of all age groups from 21 to 81 years old. Many played up their gayness, most of them did not, it opened my eyes to the complexities of your average gay man.

One complex gay man I was friends with was someone named Shelly. Shelly did not hide the fact he was gay. He looked like a shorter, stockier version of Peter Gallagher. He was a very nice friendly guy who liked doing karaoke as much as I do. He usually sang the same song, "My Way" , although he always changed the pronouns from the singular to the plural. So My Way became Our Way.

I have done a gay bar tour of Seattle once with him. He was able to drink me under the table. He liked his drink but he wasn't an alcoholic. He was a good conversationalist, peppering his sentences with "F" bombs galore and like a good gay man liked to throw the "C" word every once in a while. He would talk in graphic detail his conquests with some of the men he had the pleasure of sleeping with. Now, I only throw "F" bombs when I'm angry, if I'm having a friendly conversation and I want to sprinkle some passion in it I tend to say "God Dammit!"

Well, despite the fact that Shelly was gay, drank a lot of alcohol and cursed like a gangta rapper, He was a born-again Christian. This meant that "God Dammit" was off limits. This was the first time I noticed how offensive this was to Christians. I grew up in a Catholic household and interacted with many other Catholics and believe you me, "God Dammit" was thrown out a lot, even when the adults were refraining themselves from saying "Shit", "Fuck" and even "Bitch".

Shelly threw me off my loop when I responded to one of his more wild sex stories with "God Dammit, that's crazy!". He stopped in his tracks to tell me how offended he was with what I said. Now with me being Scanman and with some beer in me, I got defensive and tried to point out incidences in the Bible where God did indeed damn things. Shelly stood his ground and pointed out why it was offensive. My foot was entering my stomach before I shut my lip. It was a learning experience. I wasn't about to point out the contradictions about embracing the agenda of a religion that wanted to persecute people of his sexual persuasions.

Anyway, the next time I saw him he gave me a ride to his favorite karaoke place. He wanted to listen to his Christian music. He asked me if it was okay since he knew I was Agnostic.
I said no problem because it's his car and if he wants to play his own favorite music while doing me a favor who am I to quibble? He can smoke in the car for all I care and I HATE it when people smoke in the car.

Anyway, Shelly and I continued to be friends until I got fired from Sonya's and his favorite karaoke bar became a school's auditorium.

Cheapskate Money Saving Tips

Hey, do you get those soap dispensers that put out soapy foam? Aren't they cool? Well, here's some advice when you quickly run out of the stuff.

I had bought one of those large refill bottles that came with a foamy dispenser. This clued me in the fact that whatever mechanics in the top of the dispenser that makes the soap water foamy is reusable. I then realized the refill container was your standard liquid soap diluted with water.

Wow! That's so smart of you Scan!

Anyway, here's my cheapskate advice.

Buy yourself a large container of your favorite liquid soap, and fill up the foam dispenser half way with the soap and add water. Shake up the mixture and Ta Dah! Instant foam soap.

It works for dish soap too!!!

Your welcome.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Some Fun Movies

I figure I could plug some good movies I have seen recently.

First up is "Horton Hears A Who".

A kids movie for sure but based on a Dr. Seuss book written years before I was even born. Anyway, the animation company who made is responsible for for the Ice Age movies. Now I liked the movie but the one thing that threw me for the loop was the character of Katie. This was the most bizarre character I've seen in movies in I dunno how long. Check out this clip.


What the?

Another movie I enjoyed recently was "Smart People". It one of those independent films that takes place in Pittsburgh, features Tomas Haden Church and a main character who's a writer. Yeah, Triple Play! I like movies that don't insult my intelligence. Plus the fact that the son's dorm room looks just like my friend Amanda's co-ed dorm building back in the early 90's.

Today, I saw "Forgetting Sarah Marshall". A comedy that hits a bit close to home. It's about a guy who's girlfriend goes off to Vegas to cheat on him with a co-worker...oh wait that's not it. He goes to Hawaii to try to get over the fact that his girlfriend cheated on him with a rock star.

Like I said it hits close to home to any insecure guy whose had a girlfriend cheat on him. It's a comedy so you can laugh at the lead characters angst. It's made for guys like me who need to have hope for the future. Still, the character didn't have the financial problems I had, (It'll be nice to take a trip to Hawaii on the whim.)

Still it was amazing how familiar the dialogue seemed to me when I realized some of the dialogue was actually said towards me in real life especially when the character Mila Kunis's "Don't call me, don't e-mail me, don't text me me " line.

I also liked the line "Oh, if they were Sean Jean sweatpants it would be no problem, but because they were Costco brand, it's the worst thing I could do." Yeah, nothing like being judged for not being shallow about what brand clothes we wear.

If you liked the whole "40 Year Old Virgin", "Knocked Up", "Superbad" milieu , I recommend this movie.

Ta ta for now!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

An Excuse To Show Cheesy Videos

Yeah, Tuesday night was karaoke night. The night began with a burger at Windmill, where my burger maker extolled the fun he had at the comic convention particularly at the Venture Bros. forum.

Afterwards I went to Jack's to do my karaoke. It wasn't busy so I sang four songs. The first song I did was one of those ones I like to sing about the state of my life. Except when I read the lyrics I realize how little I know the song's content. Honeymoon Suite's "New Girl Now" is one of those 80's semi-metal songs that emerged at the dawn of MTV. I thought the band were one of the ugly band types like Quiet Riot, Autograph and Motley Crue. Instead they were one of those Canadian Invasion soft metal acts that came out in the early 80's, like Glass Tiger, April Wine and Bryan Adams.

I have a habit of taking on songs I've never sang and finding out that although it seems like an easy song, it was a bit tougher than I thought. "New Girl Now" was not as liberating a song I thought. It's more of a kiss off to a girl to not bother him instead of a "I've Moved On" song.

Oh well. The video is typical mid 80's cheese. The special effects are crude, The hairstyles out of date and the woman in the video looked like Madonna circa 84 on crack. The lead singer is a pretty boy, that was unexpected as I was thinking he looked like Geddy Lee.

The lyrics say she's a lot like you but the other woman looks nothing like her. I kinda regret singing it. Watch the video.


the next song I sang was "Show and Tell" by Al Wilson. I love the song but never really sang it cuz I didn't know it well enough until I put it on my Ipod. Also, when I did karaoke at Vito's in Seattle, a great singer named Rob sang it often. I don't tread on other people's songs especially when they are better than me.

Anyway, Al Wilson just passed away the other day, so I felt like singing it and I thought I did well, some of the young girls thought so too. This surprised me because the song is from 1974, more than ten years before they were born. hmmmm.

Anyway this is a great clip from 1974. What a humble performer. I miss the soul songs from the 70's.


The next song I sang was T-Rex's "20th Century Boy"


Anyway here's a different clip from French TV.


Ahhh, the 80's and MTV was king. I was not into any of the 80's acts when I was in high school in those years. I liked the 70's songs from my early childhood much better . Especially when it comes to rock. Anyway, one of the better known was Deep Purple. They were a proto-metal band from the early 70's who are responsible for the most famous guitar riff of all time.

Deep Purple was one of those bands that changed its line-up more often than Law & Order changes its cast. They broke up in the mid 70's.

In 1984 the "classic" line up got together to record the album Perfect Strangers. The song "Perfect Strangers" was the first cut. It was good but not up to the 70's standards of "Smoke On The Water" and "Highway Star" but as dated as the song was in the era of cold guitars and even colder keyboards it has aged well. I was able to perform the song solidly. I got a good response despite the songs relative obscurity. I think it's because the song features long notes that I was able to hold. This is a crowd pleaser in the days of American Idol histrionics.

Here's the video from 1984. Standard band footage of them recording. The thing was when MTV had the World Premiere I was there planting my ass on the floor in awe and rapture.

Deep Purple was back!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ben Stein Is An Asshole

Every once in awhile I like to put a spotlight on some right winger I feel is out of touch with the average American. This time I'm gonna shine it on financial whiz >snicker<,Ben Stein best known as the teacher in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". He played the boring economics teacher who kept saying "Buuuuelller."



Comedy gold for sure. Like it or not that is going to be his legacy. He probably would like to be known for being a right wing (I mean, Conservative) pundit. However if he keep coming up with claptrap like this column, he won't even have a beloved legacy to fall back on.

Here's Ben Stein, an elitist who thinks everyone else should serve him as he sees fit because he's Ben Stein damn it.

This column linked features an outing he had, when he went to Barnes and Noble and got some unsatisfying service. Since he's Ben Stein damn it, he has a forum to write about his grievances that I will deconstruct in the following paragraphs.

Now for a few words that may give you some guidance on life as it is.

Here Ben Stein talks to his reader as though they have no clue on what real life is, he will help you out. So, in the very first sentence he condescends to us.

Last week, my pal Mike Long and I had dinner at a Thai place in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. Then we walked one long, steep block to Barnes & Noble so I could buy a few photo books of D.C. to send to my friends in California.

He sets the scene, he's in the elite section of Washington DC having a Thai meal, don't want anyone to think he'd settle for Chinese takeout.

He's Ben Stein Dammit!

He then mentions he walked, like a regular guy up a LONG, STEEP block to Barnes & Noble.

Woo! No pantywaist that Ben! No taxi for him.

He also mentions the store being empty because of hard rain. Yeah! Tough guy Ben Stein walks uphill in torrid rainfall to buy picture books for a friend in California.

I found several lovely books and brought them to the sales counter, where two young salesclerks, a man and a woman, were lounging.

He bought "lovely" books. How effete Ben. Lovely, you say?

He mentions that the two salesclerks were lounging. This displeases King Ben.

"Stand at attention you lazy louts! I wish to purchase lovely books, Dammit!"

But Ben doesn't just want to purchase the books he wants low paying employees at Barnes & Noble BookSELLERS to mail them. He wants them to >poof!<>

He wants them to go the extra mile Dammit!

The problem with going the extra mile is you end up in the wrong town.

The young clerks looked worried. "We don't know how to do that," one of them said.

"You don't ever send books?" I asked.

"Hey, we're students at George Washington University," the young woman said. "We don't know how to do much."

"But surely other customers have wanted to send books," I said.

They shrugged.

This exchange doesn't ring true to me. I don't doubt that they said they couldn't mail it, and if Ben Stein had used any of his brain he would have known that there is no infrastructure to do that in individual Barnes & Noble BookSELLERS stores. I would question his unawareness of something called the Internet but that would be a third act spoiler.

What doesn't ring true is the idea that students of George Washington University would say that they don't know how to do much. I think that's Ben Stein projecting. It's a typical right wingdig at anyone who goes to college these days are lazy liberals raised by hippies being taught by radicals to hate America.

Yawn! time to get a new playbook, Mr. Stein.

"Can you call over a manager?" I asked.

"Yes," the young woman said eagerly. Soon, a pretty young woman with short hair appeared.

Mr. Stein is pleased with the appearance of the comely appearance of the manager, maybe she will save the Ben from the incompetence of these peasants.

She was indeed the manager, but she didn't know how to send the books, either. In fact, even after I'd carefully spelled out all of the addresses, they couldn't figure out how to send anything.

Ooops! She can't.

Okay, Ben, here's the story. They don't have a delivery system to individuals available in corporate bookstores. That's not their function. Did you see the scale behind the counter to weigh the "lovely" picture books to determine how much extra they need to charge you for delivery?

What? You thought that there would not be any extra charge?

Oh Ben, Ben, Ben. Do you think that the free market means free handouts to minor celebrities?

Worse yet, just the effort "froze" the checkout computer such that it couldn't even let me buy the books to mail myself.

Uh Oh, technology fails Mr. Stein. My God, how will he get through this horrible day?

Now, bear in mind, this is in a time when people are supposedly suffering financially and need jobs.

Ahhh, now we're getting somewhere. People who make a pittance should appreciate the fact they even HAVE a job. This is a right wing tactic that ignores the fact it's the Neo-ConArtist agenda that gave us the struggling economy and the working structure of low wage slaves that are only trained to do minor tasks and discouraged from doing anything beyond their job title.

Trust me, I've worked the service industry.

I like the way he can take this experience and dismiss the possibility of anyone in this country suffering and needing jobs. Flyover country is foreign to Mr. Stein.

As Mike and I walked back to my apartment, I said, "That was amazing. Those people didn't know how to do a basic transaction like mailing books."

Again, Ben Stein ignores the function of the Book Seller. It's to sell books not mail them. Maybe the Pizza Delivery guy knows how to mow your lawn, but it's not his job to do so when he's delivering pizza. Especially if he doesn't have a lawn mower. A similar situation you find in a typical B&N bookSELLER store.

The fact that the clerks and manager never had requests to mail books should have tipped you off what an elitist pain in the ass you are.

"No," he corrected me, "they don't want to do it. They didn't even really try very hard. They're college students. That means they don't care at all. They're getting paid whether they send the books or not. They're like civil servants -- only civil servants have a good attitude, and these guys have a poor attitude."

"You're right," I said.

Okay, Mr. Stein probably hasn't made less than 7 dollars an hour since the late 60's. Times have changed. 7 dollars an hour is beyond poverty wages, especially in places like Georgetown.

Here's an old statement "You Get What You Pay For" If you pay someone 7 dollars an hour that's the kind of service you get and should expect. This is the legacy of your hero Ronald Reagan, to cut expenses to the bone so shares of stocks go up.

Students of GWU are most likely going to become lawyers. They are only working at the store during the school year. They are not making a career at the corporate bookstore. They will barely make enough to pay for books at the school even with the possible discount to pay for the textbooks that MAY be available. They realize they are being screwed so they will not go out of the way to please an elitist TV talking head. I love the fact that snobs who are a pain in the ass expect people to adjust their attitude because they have money. I doubt Ben Stein was tipping.

When I got home, I went online and in five minutes had ordered and shipped the books. No fuss, no muss. Not a good omen for Barnes & Noble.

I love it that it took this long for Mr. Stein to figure out the 21st century free market system. Barnes & Noble is a huge corporation that a few years after came out, started their own online delivery system. This has been the case for about a decade. The corporations have set up the online system as the main way of delivering goods. The old way of having individual stores delivering it is slow and inefficient so they all but got ride of it.

I can't speak for Georgetown but pretty much every B&N I've been to has computers at the store itself to deliver the books from distribution centers around the world closest to where a book needs to be delivered. This is the best of both worlds. you can go into a store, see if the book itself is of quality, then walk to the computer and have "Lovely" picture books mailed to California.

After that, I called information to get the telephone number for a luxury hotel in Chicago. The operator couldn't find the number -- I got it online, too. Then I called the hotel. The clerk at the front desk couldn't find my reservation. I retrieved it online.

Now He's moved on to another place where he didn't get a satisfying experience. He's calling information!

Information! Damn, what year does he think he's in.

Ben, the free market that you worship has determined that phones with operators are too expensive, So why in this century that your first instinct is to resort to mid 20th century techniques is beyond me.

Do your own work you lazy elitist!

He's some advice, if you made the reservation online, that's where you'll probably find it.

The next day in Chicago, I spoke to a gathering of physicians at a convention.

How much did DR. Stein get paid for that one speech? More than all the B&N employees combined get in a year, I bet. What a waste of good money that could go to lowering medical insurance costs.

After the speech, they told me that their No. 1 problem (after Medicare reimbursements) was finding workers who were actually willing to learn and work. "It's not a case of workers begging for jobs," said the man next to me at a post-speech lunch. "We're begging for qualified workers."

Here's the problem that the conservative economy has given us. No one wants to train workers to be good workers. They don't want to pay them a living wage to keep them and expect the people to worship them when they get hired.

There's a point to be gleaned from this, and my friend Mike made it well after our debacle at Barnes & Noble: "I wish every worker in America had to be a freelancer at selling or writing or painting or carpentry or computer repair or law or something for two years. I wish Americans could have a period in their lives when they only got paid for what they sold and produced. It would do this country world of good."

When you get to the point in your life where your BIGGEST problem is paying taxes and dealing with unsatisfactory service. Both Ben Stein and Mike Long have made their initial living working as speech writers for Republicans at taxpayers expense.

Many failed writers go this route because it pays well and gives them free time to pursue other interests. Since they are right wing, a lot of well funded think tanks give them handouts to propagate neocon agendas beyond their specific taxpayer supported duties.

This gives them enough money to jump into freelancing. Unlike the surly individuals who have to pay a lot more money for college ands rent than Mike and Ben had to in their salad days. They were able to make a freelance living because they already had name recognition and as long as they don't strand too far from the right wing agenda.

But I can't help about that talented actor, who decided to follow his muse and went to endless auditions with no success. He sees an opportunity to play a teacher in a John Hughs film.

What an opportunity! To be in a movie directed by the maker of hits like "The Breakfast Club" and "Sixteen Candles" This will be the road to future success!

Not so fast Thespian! That role is going to go to a non actor with no training. His only credentials is that he was a speech writer for a criminal named Nixon.

Be gone!

Anyway, a far more honest scenario would be for Mike and Ben to work the service industry for two years and try to live off the low wages they pay you.

I always think that if they were to be in the service industry and had to deal with unreasonable customers and managers who yell at you for minor mistakes and to hear mind numbing platitudes from corporate.

Trust me, it's very deflating and humiliating, but even if one moves up in the world their is still a need for the service people like Ben Stein demands, so I think it's reasonable to be paid more and with it more responsibilities and more training.

There's another point here. First, it's true that we may well be in a recession. I didn't think it would happen, but a combination of Wall Street idiocy and greed, Federal Reserve tardiness and caution, and a deluge of fear dumped on consumers by the media may have done it.

Ben Stein is being paid as an economics expert. Good money, and yet he never saw the recession happen. In the real world that would get you fired. It got me fired.

As far all Wall Street idiocy and greed. This is standard Ring Wing Capitalism. When Wall Street is allowed to go about doing what they please this isn't a possibility, It's an inevitability. He championed every action that occurred. The ugly reality hit the American people first before the media got wind and Ben Stein (a paid member of the media) turns it around and blames the Media for getting the American people worked up. The media made you lose your house.

But even in a recession, there's always a shortage of talented, hardworking people in every field. Be one and, even if the recession gets really bad, you can whistle past the graveyard.

Lord knows there must be a lack of talented financial experts on TV to hire you Mr. Stein. And Hardworking? How hard was it to speak in monotone for five minutes. How much talent did it take for that movie role Ben? And somehow he was able to parlay that into commercials for Clear Eye and for Comcast twenty years later. Meanwhile talented , hardworking actors are forced to serve elitists like Mr. Stein in Thai restaurants.

You may have to move locations. You may have to learn new skills. But a willingness to work will get you everywhere you want to be.

A willingness to move? I love it when someone who's rich tells people who aren't, to just move for opportunities. Who's going to provide the money? How much money does he think a B&N employee gets that would be adequate to move to a new city? Does he expect us to load a truck like the Joad family?

Usually jobs are only available in expensive cities. Funny thing about expensive cities, they still have low paying crappy jobs. The landlord is not going to rent an apartment to someone moving to that city who doesn't make enough money.

And if you aren't willing to work, I don't see why those of us who are should bail you out.

I haven't been able to Google any pieces by Ben Stein where he condemns Bear Stearns for getting a bailout form the government. Mr. Stein, I hope the next president realizes that people in your salary bracket are not paying their fair share of taxes and that you will actually have to pay your fair share.

Willing to work for your money? Okay, it's time for those of us who WORK for our money to stop subsidizing those rich folks who make their money on capital gains.

Ben Stein, a man who, if you were to take his financial advice would leave you broke.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Finally Some Relief

Last Friday I participated in my first bid for shifts at my job at TSA. My bid number was high so the choices were limited. I had signed up for split shifts recently, and had the opportunity to choose a split shift schedule. I was able to choose a four day on, four day off schedule that also came with an 8% raise.

Good news for sure but the best part of this is it allows me to quit what definitely one of the worst jobs I've ever had, working as a loader for UPS.

The new schedule gives me three full days off during the week. That equals the amount of days I have had off since the day of my car accident. I had Christmas off, New Years Day off, and one Wednesday off back in late March.

That's good news for anyone who reads this blog. All three of you.

There will be more cartoons!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hmmm, Whatever Karaoke

I didn't do such a good job on my song selections lat night at Karaoke. I'm sick of the Bud Light promos that have invaded Jack's in recent weeks. The singing is supposed to commence at 10:30 but because of the Rock, Paper, and Scissors, it doesn't get started 'til 11:30. This gives me only two opportunities to sing. So, I always hope to choose songs that kill. I'm usually the first to sing, which I hate. I chose "White Lines" as my first song, my favorite rap song o from the time I first heard it when I was in Ireland. That means I broke rule#5 in Scan's Rules of Karaoke. No white man shall sing karaoke rap songs at anytime, even artists such as Snow, Beastie Boys, and especially Vanilla Ice >shudder<. Anyway, my natural voice is a baritone, like Frank Sinatra, and in recent weeks, it was even deeper and thus I could do a fake bass. Not last night though. I sounded weak in my interpretation of the great song. Anyway, as usual I grabbed a video from You-Tube. I think this was directed by Spike Lee. It's one of those videos that has no appearance by the people who performed the song. Like the song says "Don't Do It". I will take that advice in regards to doing rap karaoke. Oh well, I'll stick with the Stones. video

The next song is by the White Stripes. I make no apologies in how much I love the White Stripes. They are easily the best band of the 21st century. My favorite song from them is "My Doorbell" from their "Get Behind Me Satan" album. Jack White has a weird voice that I can imitate pretty well. Since I wasn't able to get in Bass mode, I WAS able to go the other direction towards being a Tenor. I got a good reaction form this song.

The video clip I chose is from a British Show hosted by former Squeeze keyboardist Jools Holland. He joins Jack and Meg (sigh!) interpreting the song in a new way from their album version. It's great, I love how the Europeans presents live music. It's amazing how America with 500 different channels cannot present music as good as this.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Drunk Driving Scan

We all know that drunk driving is wrong. I don't need to be lectured on that. However, sometimes fate hands you choice and sometimes you make the wrong choice. You just became thankful that you don't suffer the consequences of the bad decision.

So, in my years of drinking I have gotten drunk a number of times, too many for me to be proud. I have been fortunate to be living in the city whenever I have been full over drunk. So a little bit of staggering got me to where I needed to go. I have always made it a point to never drink much where a car is involved in taking me home.

Even with my cautious ways I have legally been drunk and behind the wheel three times in my life. It wasn't my intent I can assure you. It happened I'm ashamed yet lucky.

The first time it happened, I has a young pup of 18. this was back when there wasn't zero tolerance for DUI for those under the age of 21. It was the summer I had graduated high school. My friend and I went to a party thrown by a classmate's parents. It was a fun party, I drank about three beers and enjoying myself when a pizza faced douche bag named Tom decided I was having too much fun and sprayed water all over me. I was actually still in a good mood after getting sprayed but Pizza Faced Douche Bag Tom made a scene about me going "crazy" in my retaliation to get back at him. This got me thrown out of the party.

My friend didn't drink and knew I got hosed figuratively as well as literally. He drove my car to his place. I was hurt that I got thrown out of the party especially since I had my last drink. So anyway we get to his place when I realized I needed to get back home myself. At this point of my life I was totally paranoid about any driving involving drinking. It was only the third or fourth time I had drank in my life. So, I had to make a decision, leave the car at my friend's place and walk the fifteen blocks to my place. The problem was that I had done that before when I got drunk the second or third time I got drunk, and my mother gave me a lot of crap for doing what I thought was a responsible thing to do.

So, I took a chance. I was alert, I was in a small neighborhood and the only streets from my friend's place to mine were suburban neighborhood streets where I can pull over and pretend I'm going in my house if trouble arises. It was clear sailing until I approached the top of Chatham Road. I nearly had a heart attack when I caught sight of a police car who had pulled over a traffic violator.

Now, Flanders NJ is one of those communities that goes into overkill when it comes to law enforcement. A town with practically no crime, five cops for every crime committed. This would make me Public Enemy #1 if I get pulled over. I quickly maneuvered my car to go one more block to Brewster Place. I drove down Brewster with my heart racing. Oh man, just get me down Brewster safely without incident. After getting down Brewster I made my way up the bottom of Chatham Road where the house was. I parked in the driveway, exhaled hard and took about five minutes to relax. I didn't drink at all for the rest of the summer. It would not be until I attended SVA in the city when I would have my next drink. NYC would be the setting of my most prolific drinking for the next four years. No Driving? Heavy Drinking, Baby. My drinking experiences would make for another blog entry.

It would be another twelve years before I would do this again. I lived for five years in NYC and NJC and had no car. I moved to Seattle where I had no car for the first three years. I moved in with my GATT after that and though she had a car, I didn't use it much. Plus when I lived in Federal Way, I didn't feel the need to drink much.

In 1998 , I went to my job's Christmas party at a bowling alley near where we lived in Federal Way, WA. We had an unwritten rule. whoever Christmas party it was, it was the other person's responsibility to drive home.

Since my GATT was not a heavy drinker I was safe. She would usually announce her intentions to get drunk at her Christmas parties and at my brother's wedding. She was a cute drunk, fun to be with, not obnoxious. I liked being sober and walking through her sobering.

Anyway....this was MY Christmas party, so it was my turn to get drunk, and I did it with flare. The first two beers were free, wine was free all night and I joined my co-workers with a few shots of I forgot what. I was quite tipsy, beyond tipsy. Meanwhile I noticed my GATT didn't have too much wine. I counted three.

We were there for four hours when my GATT said she wanted to go home. I was having a good time but I thought ooooookay, whatever.

Anyway my GATT hands me the keys to her car. She said she was too drunk to drive.

Are you kidding? I was furious! Why didn't she let me know this before I had drunk too much. I pleaded with her to reconsider but it was to no avail. I had at least ten drinks and mixed it to boot. I tried stalling, saying long good byes to all my co-workers including those I didn't like. I was drinking a lot of Coke when I did this. This made me pee, I went to the bathroom. My GATT was getting impatient so it was time for me to get us home.

I was still infuriated when we got to the car, my blood was boiling. We were only 6 miles from our house but they were tricky roads. I would have walked home if I was by myself but my GATT was in no0 shape to do that. So we drove off in the brownmobile and headed home.

My intense anger kept me alert. My fear kept me awake, my karma kept the cops away. We got home and despite my anger with her, we had ourselves a good night, My GATT I guess was trying to make it up to me.

The most recent episode of my driving drunk happened a few weeks ago. My Aunt threw a party for her 70th birthday party. I brought my own six pack just in case it would be like a lame rich girl's wedding in which the best beer was Heineken. I wanted to buy a seasonal Sam Adams. Irish Red was the brew I wanted but it had bee replaced with the latest seasonal, Double Bock. It sounded yummy so I gave it a try.

My aunt's party was fun. I flirted with a vivacious woman girl who my aunt thought I should stay away from. I'm not sure my Aunt is a good judge of character. She's the only one who unequivocally thought my most recent girlfriend was good for me. Two peas in a pod. Anyway, along with flirting I was enjoying the company of my cousin, talking up the virtues of good beer like Sam Adams. He has three kids were were having a blast. They are nice kids. I had four beers when I decided I had enough. Legally, I am able to consume about 6 average beers before I'm in legal trouble, but if I'm driving I stop at 3 or 4.

I stuck around for about another two hours. I gather the leftover beers my dad bought, good stuff like Guinness, Smithwicks, and Harp It was getting late, I had to get up at 3 in the morning to go to work. I figured I weigh 190 pounds, drank 4 beers in 4 hours, took a two hour break with massive consumption of water. I thought I was safe.

I drove home okay despite the fact it takes almost an hour to get from Spring Lake Heights to Atlantic Highlands. Man, for such a small state, everything seems so far away in New Jersey. I was tired but I got home okay, went to sleep, worked at TSA, visited my family for Easter, slept, worked at TSA, napped, worked at UPS, and finally settled down to have myself a beer on Monday night. I took a Double Bock out of the fridge. I took a few sips when I tasted an intensity I didn't notice two nights before. I looked at the bottle and was startled by the alcohol content. 8.8%!

Holy mackerel! That is like double the content of your average beer! So, I had 4 Double Bocks which is like having 8 beers! That would have made me legally drunk if I had been pulled over, I would have gone to jail for being legal.

Damn I'm scum.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Old Men On Cloud Nine

I just read the passing of Ollie Johnston at age 95. He was the last of Disney's "Nine Old Men" These men were responsible for many of the techniques that have become standard in animation over the years. If enjoyed any Disney feature from Snow White to the Rescuers, you have seen their work.

The Disney technique of animation was to give a character to an animator that was most suited for it. Ollie Johnston was responsible for animating characters that interacted directly with each other. This was helped by his close friendship with another "Old Man", Frank Thomas. Their story was well presented in the documentary "Frank and Ollie"

Fight Like A Bear - Sketch Form
Ollie was responsible for animating such characters as Sir Hiss, from Robin Hood, the step sisters from Cinderella, and Baloo from the Jungle Book.

Ollie and Frank were held in such high regard that they appeared as themselves in two of Brad Bird's feature films The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. They are the old guys in it.

Anyway, even though Ollie Johnston lived to be 95, it's always sad to see the end of an era.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Who Cares Karaoke

Yeah, I know I bore my readership with my entries about karaoke, I mean what a loser right?

Still, it is my one constant enjoyment on a weekly basis. My schedule is so busy trying to catch up on the financial pitfalls that started to befall me a year ago.

I see my family on the weekend during the afternoons, particularly to see my nephew.

So if I'm looking to meet girls I do karaoke, and the best opportunity is Tuesdays at Jack's in Long Branch.

Recently, they have been annoying me doing this Bud Light "Rock, Paper, Scissors" promo during what should be karaoke time. The winner gets a trip to Las Vegas.

Ooooh, a bland beer promoting a trip to a fake city of loud blandness. Be still my beating heart!

Anyway, my entries are really an excuse to post classic video clips. I have sung every song I've posted. That is my forte. To sing as many different songs I can think of, avoiding songs like "Baby Got Back", "Summer Nights", and any Bon Jovi song in existence.

Anyway, because of the Bud Light promo crap, I sang only two songs. Both I love, and both I felt I sang well.

The first is one I have sung a few times. "Cruel To Be Kind" by Nick Lowe. It's one of my favorite pop songs of all time. This was my best performance of the song. The video I have posted is so fun. A simple video from 1979 that always puts a smile on my face. Happy people abound, including many in Jake's.

The second song I sang was "Remedy" by the Black Crowes. I liked their second album more than their more successful first album and this song is my favorite of theirs. I sang it well even though it's a challenge. I thought the crowd would know the song more than "Cruel To Be Kind" but still I got a good response from some of the young females. It's too bad I had to go home. I vowed a period of celibacy and I'm sticking with it.

The video is a simple performance clip but The former (actually Future) Mr. Kate Hudson is so much fun to look at with his bouncy lithe classic rock star build.


Classic Rant

I've always thought it would be cool to work for National Geographic. I have always had wanderlust and like other of my lusts it usually goes unfulfilled.

Still, I think about how exciting it would be to travel to places rich and poor and document the daily lives of the indigenous people. Unlike other forms of journalism, you don't have to rely on breaking news to fulfill an assignment. You get an assignment, go to the location, take pictures, write copy, and turn in your assignment. What happens in between will give memories to last a lifetime.

Now, I never made much inquiry on what it takes to get work through National Geographic, and in keeping with the spirit of this fantasy, I rather not get into the dry details. Now, this would be a lonely pursuit so my fantasy involves a partner, preferably a woman who would help me get through those lonely days and nights in an unfamiliar locale.

Some one low matenance.

I once dated someone who was a pretty good photographer. Early in our relationship, she inspired my fantasy of going to an exotic and isolated location to do a story on an interesting village of people on the edge of civilization.

It would take a long bit of travel by plane, train, and all terrain jeep to arrive at our locale. We take a few days getting familiar with the local customs, the food, and the weather. This would allow us to be confident enough to take pictures and provide a solid story background in this unfamiliar area. Much of the modern world is absent from this locale so we would not have distractions from finishing the assignment. The foliage is very exotic, unlike any that I would have ever seen. The animals are weird, colorful and are of species I have not even seen in the zoo. The scary thing about the wildlife is the danger. Since, I am rather reckless with my exploration I was not prepared to deal with animals I was not familiar with, but wait, my local guide will show me the way. He will show this ugly American how to respect the natural ways of the land.

Remember, this is all a fantasy.

Days go by and things are moving along smoothly. We take turns taking pictures and writing down our interpretations. Our guide has left, feeling confident that we know what we are doing. Since we are a couple, we allow the moments to take us to places we had only dreamed about. The stunning colors of the flowering plants, the cool cascading water of the falls hidden in the middle of the dense forest serve as a backdrop to our quite unprofessional passions. Since this is a fantasy, any dangerous and annoying animals leave us in peace. The temperature is perfect , the water cool. We have never experienced this before nor do I expect to do so again. All our 5 senses are stimulated and fulfilled.

The experience inspires me to write wonderfully indebted prose (Thanks to a Thesaurus) and my companion to take great pictures. It is time to wrap things up but not before I sketch the local scene, people and landscape. We say our good-byes and head to our next assignment.

Like I said this is a fantasy. I know that I would need a partner to work with in order to make a good piece. Anyway, even though I'll probably never do this for a living, I thought I might create a serial story about a couple who does this for a living. I just need to come up with good stories. Who knows, you may read the "Further Adventures of Frank and Fiona"

Surprise Teams In baseball

Well the Mets are sucking the tail pipe so far. They were expected to do much better.

No matter, it's very early in the season and some good teams are playing poor and some bad teams are doing well.

So, I will make a prediction on teams that are going to do surprisingly well.

Every year some sports writers pick a surprise team, a team that has a history of losing to have a good year.

The Colorado Rockies were that team last year.

I won't pick just one team, I'll pick one from each division.

NL East: Washington Nationals

The Nationals strike me as being a tenacious team that will be a thorn on the sides of the expected teams to win in the NL east. They have improved a bit in their lineup with the addition of the future Mets regret Lastings Milledge. They are playing in a new ballpark that seems a bit better for baseball than RFK stadium , which was good for no one.

NL Central: Pittsburgh Pirates

The NL Central is a division that seems like it has a different team winning the division every year and it always has a race up until the end. some teams have come out of nowhere and there is no reason why the Pirates can't take advantage of it. They are a hard luck team that haven't been above .500 since Barry Bonds was on the team. They have some new management that hopefully can emulate the Oakland A's model and put out a winning team with smoke and mirrors.

NL West: San Francisco Giants

This division was a problem. Last year every team but the Giants were in the hunt to win the division. The Dodgers faded in early September, The Padres blew it on the last weekend of the season and the Diamondbacks won the division and the Rockies were the wild card. So that leaves only one team, the Giants. But they totally suck. I don't think they have a chance. They have one year to go before they can think about rebuilding.

AL East: Tampa Bay Rays

The newly named Tampa Bay Rays (Begone You Devil!) have looked to be potentially good in recent years. They have a solid core of good to great young players. They give the Yankees fits. Unfortunately, they are in the toughest division in baseball. They have never played +.500 hundred baseball. Still, a little Yankee realization of age and a Red Sox slump, and the Rays could be right there to either win the division or grabbed the wild card. I think they finally should be over .500.

AL Central: Kansas City Royals

The Royals look good in the early running. I'm picking them to be the surprise team for one reason, it would be a surprise. They have improved their management too, play in a division that allows for surprise teams. Their pitching is pretty good and with a little luck...

AL West: Texas Rangers

I don't like the Texas Rangers. They have a Bush connection I can't stomach. But same as the NL West, they are the only team not expected to do anything. The Angels and the Mariners are expected to fight it out for first place and the A's always finds a way to be in the hunt after getting rid of some key players to free agency. That leaves the Rangers, who haven't won the division since 1999.

I expect at least one of these teams to make the playoffs, I don't know who but I think come October , I'll be proven right, still I got the crow stored in my freezer just in case.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Tales of Terrifying Todd



What a wonderful way of spending time with your friends.

An opportunity to be one with nature. A chance to meet interesting people.

And then there's Todd...

It was spring break, and my buddies and I decided it would be a good idea to go camping at the Delaware Water Gap. (We were too poor to go to Daytona Beach)

It was the four of us who had made it to the Gap.




and me.

We decided that we wanted to hike the Delaware Water Gap trails before setting up the tent for the night. It was off season and quiet, we had the place to ourselves. Or so we thought. A young man of about 18 years old approached us. He introduced himself as Todd and that he lived nearby and was doing a day hike. He asked to join us. Now the PIC gang is a friendly group that opens itself up to new people.

Anyway, Todd was a somewhat weird presence. He was a talkie toaster type. He was dressed in a matching acid wash jean jacket and pants ensemble. He wore a pair of boots with no laces in which his jeans were tucked into. This caused the top of his boots to flair out so much it looked like he had bat wings at his ankles.

So we decided to have Todd hike along with us. I don't recall which of our group did most of the talking to Todd. It wasn't me cuz I was nervous around him, it might have been Buck because Pro went off the trail a bit because he had spotted something in the distance.

Pro had made an interesting find. He found a large machete, a nice one at that. He came back to show it to the rest of us. Miggy and Buck got a good look at it when it was handed to Todd.

"Na-hice Kniiiife" Todd said as he waved it front of him as though he were samurai preparing for battle.

"Okay, Todd let Scan look at the knife."

"No! Not Yet!" Todd shouted.

Uh, oh. I was not anxious to have the knife handed to me by Todd. We were getting nervous. He finally gave the machete back to Pro. We hiked up for only about another hundred yards. We now were trying to figure out how to get rid of Todd without him knowing he wasn't welcome to join us.

Anyway when Miggy and I were talking about it we spotted three girls who were hiking along another tributary.

Ooh yeah, we thought but upon closer inspection, they weren't that hot and it wasn't worth our time to hit on them. Todd thought otherwise.

He ran at top speed down the hill. He nearly bowled Miggy and me over in his pursuit. It was an odd sight to see this man run with his boot tops flopping in the wind. It was then I noticed how bowl legged he was. It was like his toes and his heels never touched the ground.

I'm not saying he flied, I'm saying, somehow he found another part of his foot to touch the ground.

"Gee Yur Purty" said Todd.

Anyway, the rest of us told Todd we were leaving, we said we had changed our minds, we were leaving. Hiking had made us tired. We said goodbye to Terrifying Todd while he was still chatting up the girls.

We went into the Buckmobile and drove off for a full half mile to the next parking lot. We felt we were safe enough to set up camp in this new area. We were to set up a tent up there, but decided we were too lazy and stupid to set up the old school tent, so we brought our sleepy bags and camped next to a rolling stream that made me want to pee all night.

We don't think Todd was aware of this ruse.

Or was he?

The next morning one of the Buckmobile's tire was flat.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

His Gun Has Been Removed From His Cold Dead Hands

I'm about as left wing as one can be without being in prison, yet I have a profound fondness and respect for the legendary actor Charlton Heston.

I guess it was in "Planet Of The Apes" that I first gained a love for him. It was one of my favorite movies that used to air on CBS back in the mid 70's, and later on the 4:30 movie on WABC Channel 7 as part of a "Planet of The Apes Week"

This would usually be followed by "Gidget" week.

Anyway, I have enjoyed many a Charlton Heston movie over the years. Though, I am not a fan of his Ben Hur, Ten Commandments phase. I blame that on the director.

He became a right wing wacko who liked his guns a little too much. He wasn't always that one note but that would be his reputaion in his last years.

Still he was willing to make an appearance in Michale Moore's "Bowling For Columbine" it's too bad that Charlton was revealed to have Alzheimer's soon after this appearance.

He wasn't a great actor but he was always a strong presence, like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. (Both Right Wingers)

It's too bad he had not done too many movies in the last thirty years. He was a top box office draw for twenty years before that.

Oh, well. He was a legend.

He will be missed