Friday, February 29, 2008

Gonna Fly Now

On a recent trip to Target, I noticed that Dove had added wings to some of its chocolate Easter bunnies:

Fairy Bunny

These bunnies left me feeling unsettled, but I couldn't figure out why. The "Fairy Bunny" name was stupid, but not disturbing. Something about these bunnies just didn't seem right.

A few minutes later, I realized suddenly why these bunnies were so discomforting. As Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley and I headed toward the pharmacy counter, I caught sight of another product that had been improved several years ago with the addition of wings:

With wings!

Things I Won't Miss About Working At The Tribune, Part IV

In a few hours, I'll tape my final Business Report segment. It will air tomorrow morning on WFLA.

It's teevee time

I will not miss delivering the morning Business Report several times a week.

I actually enjoy taping these reports. For one thing, the WFLA crew I work with is made up with some of the greatest, funniest, most interesting people in the News Center. For another, writing these minute-long Business Report scripts has taught me how to be a better writer. Thanks to my experience in television, I know how to get the crux of a very complicated story across to readers or viewers in a very conversational way. I also feel I have developed a strong but conversational voice that comes across on TV and in print.

And let's be totally honest: it's very cool to be able to boast that you're on TV on the biggest station in the 13th biggest media market in the United States.

Here's what I won't miss about the morning Business Reports: I have been doing them for about seven years, and I can count on one hand the number of times anyone in the Tribune newsroom has thanked me. Some of the folks on the TV side of our organization have expressed their gratitude and complimented me on the Business Reports, but, alas, that has rarely been the case in my own newsroom.

Tribune reporters are not paid for doing WFLA work. A thank you would have been appreciated.

(I also will not miss putting on the makeup. I may have mentioned that part of the TV experience already.)

I won't miss doing the Business Reports — they were a hassle, they cut into my productivity, and they were, quite literally, a thankless task — but I will always be grateful that I had the opportunity to do them. That's not a contradiction. That's just the nature of working for newspapers, I guess.

Look Before You Leap Into The Four Questions

Leap day installments of the Four Questions come but once every four years.

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave invites you to see for yourself:

What is Dave wearing today?


Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels today is just like every other Friday.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave expects another ho-hum day at work, with nothing significant or momentous to report.

Q. Is there any chance that Dave could be understating the importance of today's trek into the office?
A. Dave has never used irony to make a point.

Trivial Hirsute

I am contemplating growing a beard during in the three-week period before I start my new job with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

I understand that beards are quite fashionable now, while goatees are passé. However, I'm no slave to fashion. I was rocking a beard in the early 1990s, long before anyone else.

Paula and Dave at Lee's Bar Mitzvah
Dave and friend Paula Abramson at Lee's Bar Mitzvah

I'm one sexy Amish-looking dude, aren't I?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Came, I Saw, iPhone

When I accepted my new job with PricewaterhouseCoopers, I celebrated with a short trip to Orlando with Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley, and by buying some gifts for my parents, brother and sister-in-law, and (of course) Ryland, the world's cutest baby.

(Don't tell Ryland I got him something, because I haven't given it to him yet. I want him to be surprised. I'm pretty sure that he doesn't read my blog.)

I had not purchased anything for myself because, well, there was nothing I really needed. I didn't see a need to go on a shopping spree. I thought it best to be prudent.

Last night, I decided to reward myself with something that I didn't actually need, but that I have really wanted for a long time.

Dave and the iPhone

Of course, I couldn't buy myself an iPhone without buying one for Britt, could I?

Dave and two iPhones


It's not the most rational purchase I've ever made, but it's a nice way to treat myself. Also, I understand that everyone else in the Society of Journalism Refugees has an iPhone, and I really want to fit in at my first meeting.

One, Two, Three, Four — Tell Me That You Love The Four (Questions)

Today's Four Questions are being answered by Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley, who is joining me in Starbucks this morning.

Q. What is Britt wearing today?
A. Britt is wearing his Alabama sweatshirt because it's cold and he loves Alabama. "I'm a Sabanac, or Sabanatic, or Sabanatatic — whatever we are" he says.

Q. How does Britt feel today?
A. Britt says he feels iPhoney.

Q. What are the factors affecting Britt's mood today?
A. Britt says he likes the chill in the air, and he's having fun playing with his new iPhone. He is also looking forward to Spring Break. He and Dave head to Paris and London.

Q. How are Britt's fantasy hockey teams doing?
A. Britt's teams are doing quite well, thank you. They are Nos. 18, 19 and 20 out of 1,200 teams.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Staff Farewell

Yesterday, some Tribune staffers took Russell Ray and I out to lunch to celebrate our departure from the newsroom.

Russell, who joined the Trib last year from the Tulsa World, heads to Tallahassee today to join the bureau there. I started working at the Tribune in 1999. My last day is Friday, as I have already mentioned multiple times on this blog; I start my new career as a senior writer for PricewaterhouseCoopers next month.

Here's a photo from lunch:

Tampa Tribune farewell lunch for Dave and Russell

From left to right: Cheryl Segal, me, Phil Morgan, Russell, a tiny sliver of Will Rodger's head, Mike Kersmarki, Christina Mancing, Rich Mullins, Ted Jackovics, Ken Knight and Vicki Lim. Both Will and Vicki are members of the WFLA/Tampa Tribune refugee society, which I will be eligible to join starting March 1.

Here's a somewhat blurry picture of Vicki and me:
Vicki and Dave

Who Needs Electricity When You've Got The Four Questions?

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a jacket over a heavy long-sleeve polo shirt over a button-down dress shirt. It is, once again, somewhat chilly in Florida. The long-sleeve polo shirt is probably more of a rugby shirt.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels like he doesn't fit in.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave appears to be the only person in Starbucks without an iPhone.

Q. How did Dave get past the Starbucks bouncer without an iPhone?
A. Dave showed him his MacBook. Sometimes, if you prove you own an Apple notebook, the bouncers will assume you own an iPhone as well.

Re: United (And It Doesn't Feel So Good)

If you see my mom today, be extra nice to her. She had to contend with this yesterday:

Mom's flight to Dulles

Notice the six-hour-and-43-minute delay?

Today's Memo: I Throw Down The Gauntlet

To: Headline writers and TV pundits
From: Dave
Subject: The gloves
Date: Feb. 27, 2008

I'm sick and tired of being told that "the gloves are coming off" or "the gloves came off" after each political debate in this current run up to the Presidential election.

Exactly how many pairs of gloves did Clinton, Obama, et al. don before the politicking began? They must have looked like boxers. How else can they afford to peel off another set of gloves every day or so?

It is time to retire the cliché, don't you think?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What Have I Done, What Have I Done, What Have I Done To Deserve The Four Questions?

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a black polo shirt and a pair of khaki pants.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels politically astute.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. At dinner last night, Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley and Rabbi Steve Meyerburgensteenwitzsky listed the merits and drawbacks of every potential running mate for John McCain and Barack Obama. No possibility went unmentioned — they even discussed Lloyd Bensten (primary disadvantage: too old; secondary disadvantage: too dead) and Edmund Muskie (primary disadvantage: the crying thing; secondary disadvantage: also too dead).

Q. If Dave were running for office, who would his running mate be?
A. Dave would choose comedian Zach Galifianakis. I believe the key to winning the election is to have a ticket that no one can pronounce. Simanoff-Galifianakis '08!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Autobahn Baby

The Cutest Baby in the World (now 8 months old) has received his first car. Go here to see how he performs behind the wheel.

Have They Ever TASTED A Peep?

Borders wants to sell you gift cards for Easter. Here are the signs posted above the gift card displays:

Have they ever tasted a Peep?

Obviously, this verbiage was written by someone who has never eaten a Peep. Peeps are basically sugar-coated sugar, mixed in with some high-fructose corn syrup to make them taste more sugary. One Peep contains 50 percent of the RDA for sugar — not the recommended daily allowance, but the recommended decade allowance.

There is no way that a Borders gift card, which contains mostly plastic and a magnetic strip, tastes sweeter than a Peep. Also, a gift card would be very hard to chew and the shards might cause serious damage to your digestive system.

Borders cards might be very thoughtful gifts, but they are not sweeter than Peeps. Don't be fooled!

Another advantage of Peeps over Borders gift cards: You can't make s'mores out of Borders gift cards! Check this Daily Dave blog post from 2006 for the directions.

As Seen In Borders

Cat Butts Mini-Kit
I don't know. I don't want to know.

Est-ce Que Je Peux Poser Quatre Questions, S'il Vous Plaît ?

Dave is practicing his French in preparation for his and Britt's upcoming trip to Paris.

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a pink dress shirt, a ridiculously ornate tie that he stole from Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley's closet, dress pants and a sports jacket.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels pretty and witty. That is all.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Today marks the start of Dave's final week at the Tampa Tribune. Dave is expecting five bittersweet days.

Q. What did Dave think of the Oscars ceremony last night?
A. Dave only watched the first half hour before he got bored and watched "The Simpsons Movie" instead. He did cheer when he saw the PricewaterhouseCoopers partners arrive on the red carpet, though! Dave wonders if he'll have to count the Oscar ballots as part of his new job. (Answer: no. He has already asked, in fact.)

Things I Won't Miss About Working At The Tribune, Part III

Makeup

I detest wearing makeup, even though it's required for teevee appearances. When I'm wearing it, I feel like my face is trapped under a thick layer of dirt. After I take it off, my skin is red and blotchy for a while. To be honest, I don't know if it's the makeup that irritates my skin, or the makeup removal cloths.

Putting on makeup is one part of my job I most certainly won't miss.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Four Questions And The 27 Jennifers

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing his teevee uniform: dress shirt, tie, sports jacket, and so on.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is happier than he has felt in a long, long time.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave and Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley are counting down the days to their vacation in Paris and London vacation. Soon after they return, Dave begins his exciting new career with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Q. What is Dave listening to these days?
A. Dave likes the song "27 Jennifers" by Mike Doughty. It reminds him of when he went to high school, and every other female student was named Stephanie. Dave rarely meets anyone named Stephanie today, so he wonders what ever became of all the Stephanies. Perhaps they all entered the Witness Protection Program and were given new identities.

Transubstantiation Never Tasted So Good

I was a little surprised to find these treats in the Easter candy/pre-diabetes aisle at Walgreen's last night:

Transubstantiation in the candy aisle?

The item on the right is a cross formed out of chocolate.

This seems absolutely sacrilegious to me, but what do I know? I'm a Member of the Tribe. I think chopped liver is delicious, and I consider choking down a wad of gefilte fish to be an annual religious obligation.

I called Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley, who is a graduate of many Southern Baptist vacation bible schools, for his opinion on the chocolate crosses. He says he thinks they're inappropriate and tacky. I don't recall his exact words, but they went something like this: Jesus schlepped a heavy wooden cross all the way up a hill to die for our sins so you can eat a piece of candy shaped like the thing that he suffered and died on? I don't think so.

You can tell I'm paraphrasing because, as a graduate of many Southern Baptist vacation bible schools, it is highly unlikely that Britt used the word schlep.

I asked Britt if he's ever seen a chocolate Jesus. He said no, but if candy companies are making chocolate crosses, it's probably only a matter of time before the chocolate Jesus finds its way onto store shelves.

When that happens, I wonder if we'll see these words printed on the packaging: "Savor the flavor of our Savior."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Weather Update

WFLA meteorologist Jen Hill stopped by Starbucks this morning as I was doing my morning blogging:

Jen Hill and me

I adore Jen. She's bold and funny. She's not a weather girl — she's a weather WOMAN, damn it, and you better show her the respect she deserves!

Things I Won't Miss About Working At The Tribune, Parts I And II

Leaving the Tampa Tribune on Feb. 29 will be a bittersweet occasion.

Journalism is the only industry I have ever worked in. At the Tampa Tribune, I'm honored to work alongside some of the finest reporters, photographers and editors in the field. There are a lot of good people working for this newspaper, and I'm fortunate that I get to call some of them my friends.

Having said all that, there are quite a few things I certainly will not miss. Here are two of them:

The world's worst paper towel dispenser
This is the world's worst paper towel dispenser. It arrived in the men's bathroom on the third floor of the News Center about four years ago. Most of the time, it doesn't dispense paper towels. When it does, it's so sensitive that it spits out about two feet of paper when someone walks in the door.

Media General stock performance 2/2005 to 2/2008
This is a graph showing the closing stock prices for Media General, the Tampa Tribune's parent company, over the past three years. I am quite grateful that I will no longer have to follow the ups and downs (and downs and downs) of this stock on Wall Street.

The Four Questions For Thursday

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. On last night's "Late Night with David Letterman," celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse claimed "an apron is a great substitute for pants." Fortunately for everyone, Dave is ignoring this advice today.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is a happy camper.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave's happy camping feeling have nothing to do with the actual hobby of camping. Dave has not been camping since the Transatlantic Council of the Boy Scouts of America hosted some kind of Father-Son jamboree in the early 1980s on the campus of the American Community School in Cobham, England. Thinking back, Dave doesn't even think that there was in fact any camping involved -- the program just ran into the night. Dave and his dad were probably relieved to get home and sit on a proper couch and watch Knight Rider or some other dreadful American program.

Q. What does Dave think of the new Knight Rider?
A. Dave didn't watch the new Knight Rider, but he's sure he would not have enjoyed it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Out Of My Element

Spotted in a gas station convenience store in Lakeland Friday night, as Britt and I were heading to Walt Disney World:

Out of my element

I know I'm out of my element when I'm in a place where the energy drinks are marketed not to baseball players, nor soccer players, nor basketball players, nor runners — but to hunters.

Yes, that's Coca-Cola's new Vault soft drink — sold as a "hybrid energy soda" — in some kind of special camouflage packaging. Just to make sure no one misses the point, the marketing verbiage says "open season on thirst." I suppose that sounds more catchy that "Drink this stuff and then shoot defenseless animals with your gun."

Someday We'll Find It, The Rainbow Connection: The Lovers, The Dreamers and the Four Questions

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a black polo shirt and a pair of jeans. These super-casual Wednesday will come to an end once Dave starts with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels confident, fortunate and grateful.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave has never been a lame duck in the work place before — at least, not recently. The last time he switched jobs, in 1999, he gave notice and was shown out the door that afternoon (which is pretty customary in newsrooms after a reporter announces he or she has taken a job at a competing paper in the same market). This time, Dave has two weeks to say farewell to his coworkers. He is touched that so many people are congratulating him and saying they will miss him. Dave has always known he has worked with some of the finest, kindest and most gracious people in the newspaper industry, and his experience over the past few days confirms this. Dave is also somewhat amused by the handful of petty people who have ignored him completely since he announced he was moving to PwC.

Q. Does Dave recall a quote from "Futurama" that deals with leaving one's job?
A. In one episode, corporate titan Mom takes over Planet Express and fires everyone. Her instructions to the suddenly fired employees: "Don't let the door hit you on the way out, 'cause I don't want ass prints on my new door."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New Photos: Walt Disney World

I have just posted photos from our weekend trip to Walt Disney World online. Check them out here.

Enjoy!

For some additional fun, after checking out the photos, you might want to simulate the experience of the Mission Space ride at Epcot. Here's how to do this: First, drink about 250 ml of tequila. Second, run around in circles for 15 minutes. Third, when you feel you're about to throw up, ask someone to grab you tightly and toss you around. When you can't take any more, walk down a long, featureless, overly lit hallway into a gift store. Thank you. This simulated Mission Space experience has been brought to you by Hewlett-Packard. Wouldn't you like to buy some ink cartridges for your printer now?

Total Eclipse Of The E-mail Inbox

British pop singer Bonnie Tyler was a big star in the early 1980s, delivering hits like "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Holding Out for a Hero."

Now, apparently, she has stumbled upon a new career: spammer.

Spam e-mail from Bonnie Tyler!

The moral of this story: Invest those royalties from the "Footloose" soundtrack wisely, boys and girls!

The Happiest Four Questions On Earth

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a black-and-white rugby shirt and a pair of brown pants. Normally, he'd wear a polo shirt on a day like today, but it's cold outside -- 55 degrees!

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is mostly excited happy and excited. He is also a little nauseated.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave draws your attention to the following pie chart:
The factors affecting Dave's mood today

Q. Dave went on the Mission Space ride three days ago. How can he still feel nauseated?
A. Dave says it was a very intense ride. Dave says he was thisclose to throwing up. Only one Disney ride has ever made Dave want to vomit more, and that's It's a Small World.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley and I have just returned home after visiting Walt Disney World for the first time in three years.

The trip was great fun. In 48 hours, we went to Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom. Also, we stayed at the Swan, one of the two postmodern Disney hotels designed by Michael Graves, one of my favorite architects.

Our only problem was a fairly significant rodent infestation at breakfast this morning:

Britt, Chip, Dave

I'll have a proper photo gallery posted online soon.

Snippet Of An Actual Conversation Between Complemenary Spouse Britt Shirley And Myself Last Night Regarding Toothpaste

Me (as a non sequitur): "Why don't they make cheesecake-flavored toothpaste?"

Britt (either mocking my last statement or proposing what he thinks will be the Next Big Thing for the food industry): "Well, why don't they make toothpaste-flavored cheesecake?"

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Few Thoughts On The PricewaterhouseCoopers Office Building In Potsdamer Platz In Berlin

PricewaterhouseCoopers office building at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin

It was almost one year ago — on March 5, 2007, to be exact — when I took this picture of PricewaterhouseCoopers' office building at Potsdamer Platz in the heart of Berlin.

I e-mailed the picture that night to Doug Stanley, a friend and former Tribune reporter who had recently joined PwC in Tampa. Perhaps you should learn some German, I suggested. You could be transferred here.

I remember very clearly what went through my head as I took this photograph in Berlin.

I asked myself what it would be like if I were to leave the world of newspapers, the only industry that has ever provided me a paycheck, and risk taking my talents and expertise into another field. I wondered what it would be like to work for an employer that's established all over the world, like my father did with Citibank and American Express. I realized that I have never worked for a company that's been listed on any kind of Best Employers list.

Most of all, I wondered what it would feel like if I were taking a picture of the PricewaterhouseCoopers office building in Potsdamer Platz not for Doug, but for me.

Now if I go back to Berlin, I'll know the answer.

Yesterday afternoon, I accepted an offer to join PricewaterhouseCoopers in Tampa. I gave my two weeks' notice at the Tribune earlier today.

I'm excited about my new position, and that I'll be working once again with the inimitable Doug Stanley.

Taking that picture in Berlin inspired me to think about my career. I didn't set out with the intention of working for PricewaterhouseCoopers. It's a wonderful coincidence, though.

I don't pretend to understand the way the universe works, and that's OK.

I'll be taking lots of pictures of PwC buildings from now on.

Flower Power

Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley sends me flowers every year on Valentine's Day.

I love getting the flowers at work, because, (a) they're always beautiful; and, more importantly, (b) they are a delightfully subtle political statement. I usually don't send him flowers because, as a university professor, he doesn't sit in a large open office with coworkers that can be made jealous. Also, yesterday he didn't teach or have office hours.

This year, the flowers arrived in a box and were delivered by FedEx:

A package on Valentine's Day

Inside, I found a bouquet of tulips, a small package of Godiva chocolates, a small package of Godiva chocolates, a handful of crushed glass that at appeared at one time to be a little vase. Fortunately, I still had the vase from the flowers Britt sent me for our anniversary in November.

Tulips

Tulips are my favorite flowers because they are my mother's favorite flowers. (Chrysanthemums, incidentally, are my least favorite flowers because they are hard to spell.)

I tried calling FTD about the broken vase. I got a recorded message explaining that they were not taking any phone calls because they were taking too many phone calls. I wish I were making that up.

The Four Questions Are Particularly Mysterious This Morning

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing some clothes, and he suggests you check this blog later today for a big announcement.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels you should check back later today for a big announcement.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave is preparing to make a big announcement later today on this blog.

Q. Is Dave preparing to announce something important later today on this blog?
A. Perhaps.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mo Candy

I believe I am offended by name of this candy bar.

Big Mo candy

Consider this exchange from "Will & Grace" from 2001:

Grace: Jack, I really wanted to be by myself.
Jack: I know. Me too. Anyway, you know, sometimes my mom would take to her bed for weeks, and I was the only one who could help. She'd say, "Jackie, sing me a song," and I would. She'd say, "Cuddle with me, Jackie," and I would. I do believe that that may have been the root of me becoming an entertainer.
Grace: Either that or it was the root of you becoming a big 'mo.


That is all.

You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart And My Four Questions

Let's beginulate!

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is dressed to tape teevee today: he is wearing a blue dress shirt, a sportsjacket and a gold-and-black tie. He is also wearing jeans, because he only needs to appear professional from the waist up.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels all Valentine-y.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave exchanged cards and hugs this morning with Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley.

Q. What is the origin of the title of this morning's Four Question's post?
A. Dave is paraphrasing the Eurythmics' song "You Have Placed a Chill in my Heart." It appeared on the album Savage, and, to Dave's recollection, was not a hit.

Dave says this brilliantly written song about a dysfunctional relationship sprung to mind because the title mentions hearts — appropriate for Valentine's Day — and because it is quite chilly this morning in Tampa.
Weather widget for Feb. 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More Proof Of My Nephew's Brilliance

My brother forwards this photo:

Ryland on his Bluetooth headset

My nephew isn't even eight months old and already he's hard at work, talking to clients and negotiating business deals on his Bluetooth headset! I would not be surprised if he earns his first $25 million before he starts eating solid food.

Four Questions For A Wettish Wednesday

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave had intended to wear his amazing technicolor dreamcoat today but, alas, it is still at the cleaners.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels somewhat impatient.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave believes that the tired adage "A watched pot never boils" should be updated to "A watched cellphone never rings."

Q. Has Dave recently received any pictures of park signs from his mother — in particular, any signs containing funny verbiage?
A. Yes, Dave has. Funny you should ask.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The 2-Squared Questions

2+2 = 2x2 = 22 = 4

That is enough math nerdery for today. Now, to the Four Questions!

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a blue polo shirt and a pair of brown khaki pants.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels he should imbibe more caffeine before trying to assess his situation.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave feels tired. Ergo, the previous statement about the caffeine.

Q. What are the last five books Dave has seen people reading at Starbucks?
A. Dave replies:
  • "Bowerman and the Men of Oregon: The Story of Oregon's Legendary Coach and Nike's Co-founder" by Kenny Moore
  • "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett (an Oprah's Book Club selection)
  • The Bible
  • "When Madeline Was Young" by Jane Hamilton
  • "Glory: Experiencing the Atmosphere of Heaven" by Ruth Ward Heflin
Dave tips his hat to Pauly McGuire, who often lists the books he sees other people reading on the Subway in New York. If there were a light rail system in Tampa, Dave would use it and keep track of the books other people read on it.

Does Your Rodent Run Vista?

I have heard stories of people cramming PC innards into all kinds of objects: coffee tables, antique radios, toy Millennium Falcons, et cetera.

This is a dangerous trend, because it may lead here:


It's bad enough when you have to call the IT department at work because your computer doesn't function properly. I don't want to have to call animal control too.

Stop the insanity!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Kiri's Koncert Korner Shop

You can't go to a musical, play or concert these days without encountering a merchandise table.

When Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley and I saw "Spamalot" in Las Vegas, the Wynn hotel had built an entire Spamalot store, filled with t-shirts, toy catapults, rabbit puppets and, yes, tins of Spam. At the Dresden Dolls concert in Tampa last month, there were a dozen different styles of t-shirts for sale; my favorite said "Fuck the rock & roll circus; this is the punk cabaret."

When Britt and I arrived at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center Saturday Evening to hear Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (and, sadly, many annoying people cough), I was a little shocked to see a large merchandise table set up in the middle of the lobby.

Has the merchandise trend become so pervasive that even opera singers sell t-shirts and hoodies, I thought?

I peeked at the merchandise. It was a bunch of general music-themed items -- ties and jewelry and books and CDs. There were no Kiri items, except for a few CDs. I assume that the merchandise table is the same one that the performing arts center or the local opera guild trots out at all events.

Well, I later thought, why can't Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, our greatest soprano, have her own merchandise table? Why can't she have her own toys and t-shirts and keychains? Shouldn't she be able to make a buck off of all this stuff, just like everyone else?

Here are my thoughts for Dame Kiri Te Kanawa t-shirts:
  • I'M KRAZY FOR KIRI
  • HOT DAME!
  • ANYTHING YOU CAN SING, SHE KANAWA SING BETTER

IV QVESTIONS

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing his standard teevee taping uniform: beehive hairdo, black dress, lots of tattoos. No, wait, Dave is thinking of Amy Winehouse at last night's Grammy awards show.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels today is just another Manic Monday.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave wishes it were Sunday, because that's his funday, his doesn't-have-to-run-day.

Q. What has Dave just realized about the Bangles' song "Manic Monday"?
A. Dave realizes that the lyrics are crap.

Today's Memo: A-hem

To: All the philistines who thought it was OK to clear their throats as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa was singing Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center
From: Dave
Subject: Throat clearing
Date: Monday, Feb. 11

Let's get this perfectly clear. When someone like Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the leading soprano in the world, is performing solo on stage, YOU DO NOT CLEAR YOUR THROAT.

If you feel a scratch in your throat, you don't cough. You don't make an a-hem noise. You don't do something phlegmy. You do nothing. There will be a pause, probably within less than two minutes, in which the entire audience will erupt with applause -- and that's when you can honk and cough and skkkkrWWWWWWAAAAP as much as you'd like.

Clear your throat all the way through "Jersey Boys" or "Wicked" if you want. Those performers are wearing microphones and backed by a band.

Why do you need to clear your throat anyway while Dame Te Kanawa is singing? Are you going to interrupt her? Oh, Dame Kiri, excuse me -- I think you hit that note wrong? Do you think she takes requests? Oh, Dame Kiri, would you sing "Freebird"?

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Pepsi Generation Has Different Tastes

Yesterday's horse treat headline (see the blog posting prior to this one) reminds me of this exchange from an episode of "Futurama" in which Leela and Fry stumble upon a discovery that might explain what makes Slurm Cola so addictive:

Leela: This all must have something to do with the secret ingredient.
Fry: My G-d, what if the secret ingredient is people?
Leela: No, there's already a soda like that — Soylent Cola.
Fry: Oh. How is it?
Leela: It varies from person to person.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Soylent Feed

Now, here's a headline that certainly caught my eye today:

"Women Make Nutritious Horse Treats"

This is why I never take my mother to the track. Well, this -- and the fact that I have never been to a racetrack.

I Hate Those Trucking Advertisements

Television ads for pickup trucks have become ridiculous. In the past few weeks, I have seen trucks stopping airplanes, strapped to centrifuges, towing log cabins, being put through strength and brake tests on Rube Goldberg-ish devices at remote desert locations -- situations that, I'm fairly certain, have nothing to do with how these trucks are used on a daily basis by actual customers.

Normally, I'd rant about these overwrought and hyperbolic truck ads. But today I'm in a good mood (can't you tell from my earlier two posts?) and I figure I should help out Madison Avenue by suggesting some more outlandish premises for pickup teevee commercials.

Here goes:

Toyota Tacoma: A live cat, a Toyota Tacoma and a tiny bit of radioactive substance are locked inside a soundproof, windowless steel box. Quantum mechanics says we must assume the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. However, the pickup truck can be assumed to be completely undamaged. This is because the Toyota Tacoma's reinforced frame and coil-spring double wishbone suspension is so strong that it supercedes German physicist's Erwin Schrödinger physicist's cat paradox theorem.

Ford F-150: Seven Ford F-150s are dispatched around the globe. Each one is tethered to a different land mass: North America, South America, Australia, India, Eurasia, Africa and Antarctica. With the most towing capacity in its class, the Ford F-150 makes it a breeze to tow each continent (or subcontinent in India's case) back to its original location, reconstructing the original supercontinent of Pangæa.

Nissan Titan: Because of the downturn in the economy, the paterfamilias of a typical American family loses his job. His wife loses her job soon thereafter. The bank forecloses on their house, and they're forced to move in with relatives. Fortunately, the Nissan Titan's roomy cargo bed and exclusive Utili-Track Cargo system means there's lots of space for boxes on moving day, and no chance of items falling out on the long, tear-filled trip.

Birds Flying High, You Know How I Feel: It's Time For The Four Questions

Stars when you shine,
You know how I feel.
Scent of the pine,
You know how I feel.
Yeah freedom is mine,
And I know how I feel.
It's a new dawn.
It's a new day.
It's a new life
For me --
And I'm answering the Four Questions.

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a pair of jeans and a red button-down shirt. Thursdays are Dave's casual day, as he has to dress formally for teevee tapings on Fridays.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave can sum up how he feels in one word, and that word is "wheeeeeeeeeeeee."

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. "Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Q. What song has Dave pilfered lyrics from today?
A. Dave says the title and intro of today's Four Questions borrows lyrics from "Feeling Good," a song written in 1965 for a musical that no one remembers, but that was made famous when it was covered by one of the most talented and dynamic singers of the late 20th century, Nina Simone. If you haven't heard Nina Simone's version of "Feeling Fine," Dave suggest kick-starting iTunes and shelling out the measly 99 cents to add this excellent song to your collection. Simone is electrifying. Many other singers have covered "Feeling Fine." Dave likes some of the recent versions, particularly the one by British actor John Barrowman.

BignewsComing

I'll have an announcement soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Network Television Rewards Me For Staying Up Past My Bedtime

Jon Stewart + Stephen Colbert + Conan O'Brien + presidential politics + "West Side Story" + the Three Stooges = hilarity.


I forgot to include both fake stunts and "Eye of the Tiger" in my equation above. Sorry. Please add them both in.

The Denver Diva Returns

Denver Diva Janet Forgrieve, a Tampa Tribune refugee, has been back in town for a few days. I was fortunate enough to meet up with her for lunch on Friday, and again on Monday. I got cameraphone pictures both days.

Dave, Janet, Jerry and Ted
On Friday: Me, Janet, Jerry and Ted outside Cafe European.

Janet, Ted, Sarah and Dave
On Monday: Janet, Ted, Sarah and me outside Valencia Gardens.

Janet is a strict vegetarian. She once told me that she will eat nothing that has or ever had a face.

I said: "Will you eat animal crackers? They kind of have faces."

Weekend Photo Roundup

Here are some cameraphone snapshots from this past weekend:

Heath Ledger as the Joker
Here's the poster for the upcoming Batman film, showing Heath Ledger as the Joker scrawling "Why So Serious?" in what appears to be blood. Britt and I spotted it in the movie theater lobby on Saturday as we were heading to "There Will Be Blood," a film that, as it turns out, has nothing to do with dentists. I wish the theaters and studio had the taste to take these posters down. It's a little morbid to see this imagery and verbiage so soon after Ledger's death.

You Are Not Here
This is the least useful map in the history of cartography.

Chilly Willy: Don't Forget the Ice
Poor Chilly Willy. While other cartoon characters are spokespeople for actual products and services (eg. Scooby-Doo and his gang hawking DirecTV, Snoopy selling MetLife), Chilly Willy can't get a better job than as the shill for frozen water.

The Four Questions -- And A Daily Dave 2.0 Milestone

This is the 900th post on the Daily Dave. Cue the band and break out the champagne!

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a wine-red polo shirt and a pair of chinos.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave's glass is more than half full. Look:
Dave in Starbucks - Photo Booth - Feb. 5, 2008

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave feels like being literal.

Q. Why does Dave drink iced coffee?
A. Dave believes it's too hot in Florida to drink hot coffee, even when it's cold in Florida. Dave thinks this doesn't require any further explanation.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Thoughts On Last Night's Super Bowl

Just a few impressions:
  • Why does Fox Sports feel it necessary to subject its viewers to a hammy reading of the Declaration of Independence, a subversive, revolutionary treatise that has as much to do with football as the Magna Carta does with the World Cup?
  • The Walter Payton award looks like it is made of chocolate. If this is true, it is a good thing.
  • I've noticed a lot of derivative ads this year: Audi borrows a scene from "The Godfather," Pepsi steals an idea from an old "Saturday Night Live" sketch, Budweiser cops the plot of "Rocky IV," and Life Water features computer-generated lizards reenacting Michael Jackson's "Thriller" choreography.
  • I wish the Giants had worn their red jerseys.
  • Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley wondered why New Age singer Enya is never asked to play the halftime show.
  • The Under Armor ad ended with a leader on a giant, raised podium, addressing a massive audience, surrounded by red banners. No, that doesn't remind me of either Hitler or Stalin one bit.
  • Garmin's quirky ad, poking fun at the diminutive Napoleon, appealed to both the history buff and the Anglophile in me.
  • The Doritos ad with the mousetrap was the only one that caught me by surprise, and thus the only one that made me laugh. Many of the other ads were so formulaic that I was able to shout out their endings once the spots had started. For example, in the ad that starts out at a wine and cheese party, as soon as we see the guy walk in with the oversize wheel of cheese, I turned to Britt and said: "beer in the cheese."
  • Watching the first half of the game was painful. After a Giants field goal and a Patriots touchdown, the score remained 7-3 until halftime, with very little action until the final thirty seconds or so.
  • Stupidest comment during the halftime show: "I don't know what people expected, but we got ourselves a football game!" Uh, gee, Mr. Curt Menefee, I was expecting the Crufts 2008 dog show.
  • Tom Petty, a singer best associated with the 1980s, appears to be wearing the Rachel, a haircut best associated with the 1990s.
  • "American Girl" will always remind me of "Silence of the Lambs." (Ditto for the American Girl Stores popping up from city to city.) It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again!

Here are the ads I liked:


This is the only one that truly shocked me — and made me laugh.


Which way to Waterloo?


Pitting Stewie against Underdog was sheer genius.


The expressions on the animals' faces put this ad over the top. It reminded me of a scene in "Airplane."

Just Another Manic Monday ... And Just Another Four Questions

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a blue dress shirt, blue-and-brown tie, and a pair of olive drab khakis. He has a blue sports jacket in his car. He is ready for his teevee duties later today.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is a little shocked that the Giants won the Super Bowl last night. He doesn't have an allegiance to either of the teams that played last night, but he would have thought the Patriots would win.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave sings the following Elvis Costello lyrics: "Now that your picture's in the paper being rhythmically admired / And you can have anyone that you have ever desired, / All you gotta tell me now is why, why, why, why?"

Q. Why did Dave sing part of an Elvis Costello song?
A. The more important question is why did Dave sing at all? It is a well established fact that Dave has the worst singing voice on the planet. In 2005, as Dave sang his "Love Boat" theme boat medley in a local talent competition, several people gnawed off their own toes and used them as earplugs.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Super Bowl Celebrity Look-A-Like

The Super Bowl is less than 24 hours away, and everyone in America continues to prattle endlessly about Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady's Hollywood-worthy good looks.

Well, sure, Brady's hot. But I happen to think Giants Quarterback Eli Manning looks like a movie star too.

In particuar, I think he looks like Beaker from the Muppets:

Beaker from "The Muppet Movie"
Beaker from "The Muppet Movie"

The resemblance is striking, no?

Friday, February 01, 2008

It's The End Of The Advertising World As I Know It (Updated)

R.E.M., one of the most politically active and environmentally conscious bands in the rock 'n' roll pantheon, is allowing one of its old songs ("I Am Superman," from the 1986 album "Life's Rich Pageant") to be used in new teevee ads for a big hulking Toyota SUV.

I think it was the Highlander or the Pathfinder being hawked in the commercial. I was too stunned to note exactly which vehicle was being paraded across the teevee screen. The song was performed by a cover band, but even this sterile, Michael Stipe-free version of "Superman" evokes the genius of R.E.M.'s original version.

Two thoughts:

First, I'd be curious to learn if any of the members of R.E.M. actually signed off on the deal that allows Toyota to use this song to sell more SUVs?

Second, this appears to be yet another case of an advertising agency selecting a song because three or four seconds of it sound good -- but not realizing that the song, taken in its entirely, detracts from or negates the message that the ad is trying to send to viewers.

For example, the refrain in the song that goes "I am / I am / I am Superman / And I can do anything" seem quite appropriate for a vehicle that can scale rugged terrain and traverse muddy paths.

However, the entire song isn't about having exceptional abilities. It's about stalking an ex-girlfriend.

Here's the full song, with some of the repeated stanzas cut out to save length:

I am / I am / I am Superman, and I know what's happening.
I am / I am / I am Superman, and I can do anything.

You don't really love that guy you make it with now, do you?
I know you don't love that guy cause I can see right through you.

I am / I am / I am Superman, and I know what's happening.
I am / I am / I am Superman, and I can do anything.

If you go a million miles away I'll track you down girl.
Trust me when I say I know the pathway to your heart.


It's hard to know what's more disconcerting: that a band of R.E.M.'s reputation now appears to be selling off pieces of its catalog to advertisers, or that people making the ads think that it's a good idea to connote their client's products (SUVs, in this case) with obsessive, jealous ex-boyfriends.

Of course, perhaps I'm right about the connotation idea. Perhaps the advertising agency is suggesting that Toyota SUVs are so nimble, yet rugged, that they are the perfect vehicle for people stalking and spying on their exes.

If I'm correct about that, I expect we'll soon see a new Ford Explorer campaign wrapped around the Police classic "Every Breath You Take."

Update: Feb. 2, 2008, 10:43 p.m. — Check out the comments I have received since writing this post last night. It turns out that R.E.M. was just covering a song that was written by someone else. Even if R.E.M. has a very tight leash on its own intellectual property, it probably can't exert much control over others' music and lyrics. Ergo, we get this "I Am Superman"-Toyota ad.

I still believe that "I Am Superman" is a poor musical selection for an an advertisement. One of the comments suggests the song doesn't have nefarious overtones: it's just about a guy who's trying to win a woman away from her current beau.

I disagree. "I Am Superman" is creepy. The claim that "I can do anything" is disturbing. And when the singer boasts that knows what's happening, he'll track down the woman, and "can see right through you," it doesn't sound like wooing. It sounds like a threat.

"I Am Superman" isn't a torch song. It's a love-me-or-I'll-torch-your-house song.

Catching Up With The World's Cutest Baby

Ryland in Publix

Our nephew Ryland, the cutest baby in the world, is new seven months old and grows cuter by the nanosecond. Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley and I saw him last weekend and were stunned by his cuteness. It's a good thing Ryland was not born behind enemy lines, where his cuteness might be studied, dissected and turned into some kind of cuteness weapon!

Ryland now has three teeth and is beginning to figure out how to hold on to a sippy cup. He's so cute.

Click here to see a video I made of Ryland in action. And click here to see my latest Ryland photo gallery.

What I've Been Doing

I try to update the Daily Dave every day -- or, at the least, every weekday. Sadly, I have been lapse in my blogging duties this past week. Please let me offer my humble apologies to my legions of fans around the world, and tell you what I've been doing:

MONDAY: Began inventing my own language, using only vowels and consonants D, L and W. Terminated my efforts when I discovered such a language already exists: it is Welsh.

TUESDAY: Started reading "The Secret," the bestselling New Age self-help book that claims positive thinking are the key to wealth, health and happiness. Completed the book in one sitting. Instead of thinking of wealth, health an happiness, I found myself thinking of women's undergarments. Realized that I had accidentally read the Victoria's Secret catalogue instead of "The Secret."

WEDNESDAY: Qualified for U.S. Olympic Unicycle Hockey Team. Was later informed that there is no U.S. Olympic Unicycle Hockey Team. In hindsight, I realize (a) it was foolish to pay the $500 qualification fee entirely in cash and (b) it was odd to be accepted to the team when I have never ridden a unicycle.

THURSDAY: Founded the Tampa Bay chapter of the Michael Showalter fan club after seeing "The Baxter" on DVD. Mr. Showalter has already mailed me a fan kit, or, as his lawyers call it, a "restraining order."

Return To Sender

I don't know if this particular item of junk mail is intended for me or Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley:

Mrs. David A. Simanoff???
Mrs. David A. Simanoff

Either way, I'm offended.

After A Brief Hiatus, We Are Proud To Present Again The Four Questions

And away we go:

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is prepared for teevee today with a cream-colored dress shirt and a blue sports jacket. He is wearing one of his favorite ties: the one with the gold-and-black geometric pattern. Here's a poorly lit photograph, courtesy of the built-in camera on his Mac:

Photo Booth picture Feb. 1, 2008

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels like an airplane pilot who has circled the runway for hours but is still waiting for instructions from the tower. At this point, he doesn't know when he might be allowed to land, or if he should head toward the next airport.

Q. What the hell does that mean?
A. Dave says: "What am I, a philosopher?"

Q. Does Dave have any big weekend plans?
A. Dave believes there's some kind of football game on teevee this weekend.

Just Overheard In Starbucks

"My baby girl just got her first tattoo."

It was said rather nonchalantly by a bespectacled middle-aged guy with gray hair and a white goatee. He's wearing khaki pants and a yellow button-down shirt. When he's not trying to strike up conversations with the people sitting next to him, he's reading "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne.