Sunday, October 30, 2005

NaNo Nooooooo!

National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) starts Nov. 1, and I still have no idea what I want to write.

No characters. No plots. No clue even about a genre.

The problem, I think, is that I want the end result to be a poignant, touching story which reveals some great truth about life and society, but (1) my writing skills aren't adequate to produce a work of grandeur, and (2) I'd end up with some rambling, misdirected, boring tome that wouldn't be worth the paper I'm not going to print it on.

I'm still stunned when I can string two words together coherently, let alone put together a sentence, paragraph or story with some style and substance. When people complement me on my writing, my gut reaction is: are you kidding?

Also, I think I should try to write something funny and unpredictable, in the vein of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or a Carl Hiaasen novel. Humor is one of my strengths. At least, I think it is. If it's not, I'll have to take it off my resume.

Oh well. I'll probably just hammer out "All work and no play makes Dave a dull boy," several hundred times. Or even better, in homage to the Simpsons: "No TV and no beer make Dave something something."

Anyone have any ideas for my novel? Leave me a comment. Please.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Tall Order

I enjoy being tall. I'm not sure, however, how I feel about this advertisement.

Discarded

I'm very fortunate. Since coming out, I've been surrounded by friends, family and co-workers who accept me. Sexual orientation has never been an issue -- much less a problem.

However, every once in a while I experience something that reminds me that society has stacked the deck against me.

Take Thursday night, for example, when I went looking for an anniversary card. (For those of you who don't know, Britt and I are celebrating three years together today.) I browsed dozens, if not hundreds, of cards at Target and CVS and found very few that apply to Britt and me.

Most of the cards made explicit references to husbands and wives. Others spoke of marriages and weddings. And when I found a card with a message I liked, the artwork showed a man and a woman. Out of countless cards, I only found two that I thought would be appropriate for Britt and me -- and neither of them I liked very much. I bought them both anyway. What else could I do? Commission a special-order card from the Blue Mountain Arts folks? Protest outside Hallmark headquarters? Organize a letter-writing campaign to American Greetings?

I'm sure I could have found a card at a gay bookstore but, alas, the one in our neighborhood shut its doors a few months ago. Too much competition from Borders and Starbucks, I guess. The nearest gay bookstore now is in St. Petersburg.

Boldly Going Where No "Star Trek" Cast Member Has Gone Before

Congratulations to George Takei, aka Mr. Sulu, who has recently come out of the closet. Here's an excerpt from the AP story:

Takei, a Japanese-American who lived in a U.S. internment camp from age 4 to 8, said he grew up feeling shameful about his ethnicity and sexuality. He likened prejudice against gays to racial segregation.

"It's against basic decency and what American values stand for," he said.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Recycled Content: Officially Old

The posting from three years ago today:

Today I am officially an old man. I went to the podriatrist because I've had some pain in my left foot recently, and he prescribed naproxen for the pain and inflamation. Naproxen is ARTHRITIS MEDICATION! I am taking arthritis medication! I suppose it won't be long before I put on shorts and black socks and move to North Miami Beach and eat dinner at 4 p.m.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Napier






Check out my travel story in today's Tampa Tribune: "Art of Rebirth." It's all about Napier, the New Zealand that was destroyed in 1931 and rebuilt as an art deco haven, and the recent destruction of New Orleans.

(The story didn't travel well from the newspaper to the Web site -- the headline got mangled, the subhead is missing, and photo captions are thrown at the top of the article. I'll point out the problems tomorrow at work; perhaps everything will be fixed up by the time you read this.)

Don't forget the sidebar, packed with tips for folks traveling to New Zealand.

Photos from Napier, plus pics from the rest of the trip to New Zealand and Australia, can be found in my photo gallery.

Hello, Wilma!

The rain has started, the wind has picked up, and the temperature has dipped a few degrees.

Welcome to Florida, Wilma. Just don't come too close to Tampa, please.

Jack Welch, Action Figure?

Finally, a super hero for today's business world: after eliminating the enemy, he then eliminates extraneous business processes, thereby boosting productivity and efficiency throughout the organization.


OK, so these new G.I. Joe characters are labeled "Sigma Six" and not "Six Sigma." Still, it's pretty funny. I can't wait until they actually roll out actuary action figures.

D'oh-lightful!

Sure, lots of Web sites list Simpsons quotes, but I think I've just discovered the only one that's dedicated to recording and explaining the subtle, subversive snippets of genius that make the show so remarkable. Check out Subtly Simpsons. You won't be disappointed.

Here's how my absolute favorite bit from the Simpsons — hard to quote directly, because there's so much context behind it – shows up on Subtly Simpsons:

When Sideshow Bob is in court, accused of trying to kill Bart, the lawyer says to him on the stand, "But what about that tattoo on your chest? Doesn't it say, 'Die Bart, Die?'"

Sideshow Bob responds by saying, "No, That's German for, 'The Bart, The."

Someone in the courtroom then whispers, "No one who speaks German could be an evil man."

Episode: 9F22 Cape Feare


See? Sheer brilliance!

Another:

Milhouse, on falling in love: "It was just like Romeo and Juliet, only it ended in tragedy."

This is the sardonic, sophisticated wit that makes The Simpsons the second-best American comedy in recorded history. (The No. 1 U.S. comedy of all time, in both the depth of its writing and the breadth of its acting, is "Full House." I'm sure you knew that already.)

WIL-MAAAAA!

We're blue — for now

A couple of thoughts:

First, the folks should devise the list of hurricane names shouldn't turn to cartoon characters for inspiration. Every time a meteorologist, reporter or anchor says "Wilma" on TV, I can't help but think of Fred Flintstone shouting out that name. What's next: Hurricane Pebbles? Hurricane Captain Caveman? Hurricane Velma?

Second, I should rethink that first thought of mine. Hurricane Velma sounds kind of cool.

Third, if you MUST name a hurricane after a cartoon character, at least chose a cartoon that wasn't such an blatant rip-off of "The Honeymooners," OK?

Fourth, since it looks like we're in for an extended period of heavy hurricane activity, why not do something fun with the hurricane lists? Like, for instance, have a theme every year. Why not name next year's hurricanes after '70s and '80s musicians and groups: Hurricane ABBA, Hurricane Bangles, Hurricane Cher, Hurricane Depeche Mode, Hurricane Eurythmics, Hurricane Foreigner, Hurricane Gordon Lightfoot, Hurricane Heart, Hurricane INXS, Hurricane Joe Jackson, Hurricane Kinks, Hurricane Laura Branigan, Hurricane Midnight Oil, Hurricane Neneh Cherry, Hurricane Olivia Newton-John, Hurricane Parliament Funkadelic, Hurricane Run-DMC, Hurricane Sister Sledge, Hurricane Tears for Fears, Hurricane Van Halen and Hurricane Whitesnake? (I think it's proof that I'm a true Floridian that I know off the top of my head which letters are skipped for hurricane names: Q, U, X, Y, Z.) The following year, why not the names of box office failures. On second thought, maybe not. What would be the H storm: Hurricane Hudson Hawk or Hurricane Howard the Duck?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Red Rum!

What could be better watching Stanley Kubrick's horror classic "The Shining" as Halloween approaches? Watching the film re-enacted by cartoon bunnies in 30 seconds, of course.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

It's Not Paranoia If They Really Are Out To Get You

Ever get the feeling that a bunch of rich, paternalistic middle-age white guys are having a good laugh at your expense? That, for sport, they're making your life more complicated and sucking precious dollars out of your wallet? And that every time you clear a hurdle, they roll out two more obstacles in your path?

I never do. Nuh-uh. The thought had never crossed my mind.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Bubbles Everywhere!

I don't condone vandalism. But I do condone visiting The Bubble Project Web site.

Progress Marches On!

Complementary spouse Britt Shirley and I visited Borders yesterday. That's where I spotted a Stuart Woods paperback with the following verbiage: "Specially designed for comfortable reading."


What? How were all previous books NOT designed for comfortable reading? I mean, it's not like all other paperbacks were encased in barbed wire or coated in a thin layer of flesh-eating acid. This book didn't look any different than any other paperback on the shelf: it was approximately the same size, shape and weight as all its neighbors. Inside, it looked like an ordinary paperback too: no special typefaces or explanatory diagrams to help readers.

If a book touts itself as being "designed for comfortable reading," then it should be designed for more reading. What would that entail? I don't know. What about a helium-filled chamber in the spine of heavier books, making them easier to hold up? Or notes telling you when you can skip over certain passages: that would have been very helpful toward the end of "Atlas Shrugged," when one of the main characters delivers a painfully long speech that could have been boiled down to just two words: "capitalism rocks." How about built in coasters for those impressive looking books you buy to adorn your coffee table, not to read? Built-in inflatable neck pillows for books so boring they put you to sleep?

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Name Game

Dang -- Britt and I were going to name our first child Kal-El Simanoff-Shirley, but now that name's already taken. Thanks for ruining things for us, Nicolas Cage.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Death Of A Pioneer

A haiku on the death of Vivian Malone Jones:

Progress can be blocked
(Wallace in the schoolhouse door)
But not forever.

If A Doctor Says It, It Must Be True

From The Simpsons:

Dr. Hibbert: Another broccoli-related death.
Marge: But I thought broccoli was—
Dr. Hibbert: Oh yes. One of the deadliest plants on earth. It tries to warn you itself with its terrible taste.

So Hungry

Three hours and 20 minutes until Yom Kippur ends. I am soooooooo hungry.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

More Recycled Content

Looking through the original Daily Dave, I found this amusing post from Sept. 14, 2003.

Britt and I had one final celebrity encounter before leaving Los Angeles: We ran into Hildi Santo-Tomas, the Idi Amin of interior design on "Trading Spaces," at the L.A. airport.

I told Hildi I was a big fan of the show, and Britt said he would like to work with her some day. (What he didn't say is that he wants to work with her because it would ensure that she wasn't redecorating a room in our home!)

Hildi seemed very pleasant, and thanked us for watching the show. She appeared to be in a hurry, so we didn't ask her for a photograph.

Now, as we're sitting on the airplane, Britt says he thinks Hildi should be called the Salvador Dalí of interior decorating. When I point out that Dalí was a talented artist while Hildi's job is mainly to wreck people's bedrooms and living rooms, Britt responds "Hildi is really good -- she's just really out there."

I think Britt would change his mind if Hildi came to our house, painted over his Bear Bryant portrait, and pasted hay on the walls.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

You know what I love? I love the fact that when a snake bursts after trying to eat an alligator, Jeff Houck knows just what to write about it.

Oh, The Smurftanity!

I'm not sure bombing the Smurfs is the most appropriate way to get your anti-war message across. I could be wrong, though.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I Hope They're Not Expecing Many Impulse Buys

Britt and I went to Publix tonight. I was amused to find a display for Oscar Meyer bacon sitting next to the Empire Kosher frozen foods case.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Hockey Is Back!

Hockey is back. It's really back. I'm watching it right now. I'm merely thrilled to see the Lightning back on the ice, but Britt has entered a state of frenzied delirium.

Actually, Britt is quite calm right now. He's putting together some information for his students. I just wanted to use the phrase "frenzied delirium" because, well, who wouldn't? I'm an English major. Using big words is my only marketable skill.

Did you know that rambling and incoherent thought are two of the signs of delirium? I think this means that my entire life is spent in a delirious daze.

Do I Have The Write Stuff?


Official NaNoWriMo 2005 Participant

It's that time of year again -- time to start preparing for National Novel Writing Month. I have no ideas, no semblance of a plot, and no idea who the characters will be. Good thing I have until November 1 to think things through.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Happy New Year ... Now Take Care Of Your Chores


Sound the shofar! Today is Rosh Hashanah, which marks the start of the Jewish new year. Britt and I went to services last night, but this morning I went back alone. I think the three hours of praying, standing, sitting, singing and more praying probably scared him off. But I give him so much credit for coming. I feel so out of place in a Church service, so I can probably imagine what's going through his head when everyone's singing "Adon Olam" or reciting the Shema and he has no idea what's going on.

On an unrelated note: what's up with everyone singing all these serious, weighty versions of "Adon Olam?" What happened to the totally fun, fast, catchy version I used to sing when I was a kid? I looked for "Adon Olam" on the iTunes music store last night and every version, except one, sounded weird and laborious.

Back to Rosh Hashanah: Britt and I celebrated the arrival of 5766 with a traditional Jewish feast -- we ate Chinese food! After the meal, I cracked open my fortune cookie and discovered the crappiest, lamest, most mundane fortune ever found inside a cookie, or any other foodstuff: "Saturdays are good days for taking care of chores."

Yes, that's right. The fortune is telling me that I should take care of my chores on Saturday. There wasn't any advice or prognostication about health, wealth, love, happiness. Even if you add "in bed" to the end, you end up with "Saturdays are good days for taking care of chores in bed." What's titillating about that? Nothing! Who the heck is writing fortune cookies these days? School marms? My mother? What's next -- fortunes telling people to pay their taxes early?

In fact, I think the fortune is a little anti-Semitic. Saturday is shabbat, the sabbath. It's the Jewish day of rest. Conservative Jews won't drive, cook or even flip a light switch on shabbat, so they're definitely not going to take care of chores.

I hope this fortune cookie is not a sign of things to come in the new year.

New York Had "The Gates." I Have This.

I walked into the men's room at work yesterday to discover one of the urinals wrapped in a clear plastic bag:


There can only be one explanation: Christo has been visiting our bathroom.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Am I A Geek?

I am considering renaming my iBook and of the things that plug into it after characters from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy": -- Arthur, Ford, Zaphod, Marvin, etc.

Would this make me the biggest geek on the planet?

(Update: My external hard drive is now named Marvin. I think the thumb drive will be the next victim -- er, recipient -- of my new naming scheme.)