Sunday, September 30

I Must Remember To Use My Noise-Canceling Earphone More Often

Here are some disturbing sentence fragments I recently have overheard:

-- "I managed not to burn myself, but ..."

-- "The best use of Velveeta is ..."

-- "... but John Gruden, my wife, I'll never forgive him ..."

-- "... but if we got half a dozen brown girls to entertain us, we'd be fine."

Fortunately, I didn't hear the other parts of these sentences.

Why don't human beings have earlids -- you know, the aural equivalent of eyelids?

Saturday, September 29

The Four Questions From Denver

The Colorado Rocky mountain high / I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky / The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullaby / It's the Four Questions high:

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is back in the hotel room, and wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Earlier he was wearing a -- what's that thing called, the whaddayacallit with sleeves? -- oh yeah, a jacket. He had to wear it because it was -- what's that other thing called, the thing where it's not hot and humid? -- that's right, chilly.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave has a terrible headache right now.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave believes his headache is caused by Denver's famously low levels of oxygen. Dave explains that Denver is located about ten thousand feet above sea level, and therefore there's much less oxygen in the atmosphere here than there is, say, in a place that has more oxygen. Dave also explains that the lack of oxygen has made him forget everything he ever learned about geography, and hindered his ability to create compelling metaphors.

Q. Is there any possibility that Dave will suffer permanent brain damage because of his exposure to low oxygen levels in Denver?
A. Dave says his mental capacities remain as sharp as even.

Mile-High Hi

Greetings from Denver, where the local time is 12:26 a.m., and the year -- judging from the decor in our hotel, the Four Points Sheraton -- appears to be 1978. The furniture looks like rejects from Frontierland at Walt Disney World. The interior decorator seemed to pick out colors and fabrics by asking himself or herself what would go best with a coonskin cap.

Britt and I don't seem to have good luck with hotels in Denver. The first time we came here to visit his sister and her family, the hotel we stayed at was hosting a convention for some sort of fringe religious group. Last year, we checked into an Embassy Suites that shared the same color scheme as the house on "The Brady Bunch."

Friday, September 28

America's Sweetheart Says Hi

America's Sweetheart Michael Fechter just paid me a visit in Starbucks.

Michael Fechter in Starbucks

Fechter and me in Starbucks

In the second photo, Mike is pointing to me in the same way Stephen Colbert points to his minority friends on "The Colbert Report." My face is at an odd angle because I'm holding up my MacBook at arm's length to take the picture.

The Four Questions For Rabies Awareness

The Four Questions is a proud sponsor of Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run For The Cure.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is wearing a blue dress shirt and a black-and-white tie, and his sports jacket is lying on the back seat of his car. Dave is also wearing jeans and sneakers, as he will be hopping on a plane later today and won't have a chance to change clothes. This isn't very fashionable, but Dave isn't too concerned because he only needs to look professional from the waist up when he tapes his Business Report segment for WFLA this afternoon. Also, Dave is wearing Band-Aids over his nipples to prevent chafing.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is entertained.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave is still smiling from the season premiere of "The Office" last night. He convulsed with laughter. So many bits were brilliant: the accident, Michael's announcement about the accident, the religious discussion, Sprinkles' demise, the rabies bracelets, the fun run, Andy's nipples, the pixelated privates, the carbo loading, the carbo unloading.

Q. After watching last night's "Office," is Dave now superstitious?
A. No. Like Michael Scott, Dave is just a little stitious.

Today's Haiku: Haiku

America's Sweetheart Michael Fechter confessed yesterday he didn't understand the appeal of haiku. I put my response in the form of a haiku.

Haiku: a challenge.
Self-forced minimalism.
Verbose verboten.

A Programming Note

Here at the Daily Dave 2.0, my goal is to bring you the freshest, most original, most up-to-date inane blather as often as possible -- or, to be somewhat more accurate, as often as I feel like it.

You might see a drop-off in posting activity over the weekend. I'm heading to Denver to visit Britt's sister and her family. (Yes, Britt is coming too. He had better be coming. It would be so very awkward if I were going to see Britt's sister all by myself, wouldn't it?) I'll have my computer, but I don't know if I'll have much free time.

We're planning field trips to the new Denver Art Museum and a Colorado Rockies game, so I should have plenty of pictures to post online when Britt and I return to Tampa.

Thursday, September 27

I Am The Epitome Of Health

I just returned from the doctor's office. I have shed several pounds, and my blood pressure is 115 over 75. I got good results on all my other tests too, which is surprising as I didn't study for them.

Where Unwanted Books Go To Die

There's a place in our newsroom where all of the unwanted, unsolicited books and promotional handouts go to die. It's called the freebie table.

Among the dreck, you'll find some interesting juxtapositions of titles.

Some examples:

Pay Dirt & The World's Dirtiest Film
"Pay Dirt"
"The World's Dirtiest Film"

"Boca Moon" & "South Beach Chicas Catch Their Man"
"Boca Moon"
"South Beach Chicas Catch Their Man"
Just a short hop away on I-95

"Postpartum Depression for Dummies" and "End of the World Blues"
"Postpartum Depression for Dummies"
"End of the World Blues"
I wonder if Tom Cruise has written the forward to either book

"Destination Weddings for Dummies" and "Postpartum Depression for Dummies"
"Destination Weddings for Dummies"
"Postpartum Depression for Dummies"
It's a before-and-after set

"Andy Roddick Beat Me With A Frying Pan" and "A Clubbable Woman"
"Andy Roddick Beat Me with a Frying Pan"
"A Clubbable Woman"

Today's Memo: NBC

From: Dave
Date: Sept. 27
Subject: "Bionic Woman"

I don't understand. Is "Bionic Woman" supposed to be a male fantasy (look, it's a hot chick, but she's also kind of a robot)? Or is it supposed to be a postfeminist statement (look, she's so empowered that she's literally empowered)?

Oh, I don't really care. Either way, you made the bionic woman kind of wimpy. I imagine her using her bionic implants to read "Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus" at super speeds.

Now, the evil bionic woman -- the evil one, the blond with a killer sense of humor and the killer sense of, um, killing -- she totally kicks ass. Please show more of her.

I've Been To Paradise, But I've Never Been To The Four Questions

Every Thursday night at The Four Questions is ladies' night.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is wearing a red shirt and khaki pants. He hopes he doesn't have to go to Target today, because he would probably be mistaken for an employee.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is a little tired.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave woke up a little early, so he could write a few blog posts before his 8:30 a.m. appointment at the doctor's office. He then has to go to work.

Q. Does Dave have anything exciting planned this weekend?
A. Dave is heading to Denver this weekend to spend a little time with Britt's sister and her family. Britt will be there too. He had better be. He is not allowed to leave Dave alone in Denver. Not for one second. Not if he knows what is good for him.

I Am Reconsidering My Decision Not To Go Law School

I recently heard a lawyer discussing Michael Vick and the Virginia grand jury indictments on one of the 24-hour cable news channels. He said -- and this is a direct quote -- "You can indict a ham sandwich, and you can also not indict a ham sandwich."

If people can now get their law degrees from Subway, why am I still toiling in the news business:

It's The Five-Year Anniversary Of The Infamous Balcony Boning Of '02

I've seen a lot of peculiar things at work. Five years ago today, I saw one of the most peculiar ones. Here's the post I wrote on the original Daily Dave on Sept. 27, 2002:

NEWS CENTER SEX! Talk about an afternoon delight -- a rather frisky couple were just having sex on their balcony at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Tampa, which sits directly across the Hillsborough River from the News Center. As intrepid investigative journalists, we felt it was our duty to observe (and mock) these people. As one of my coworkers put it, "It's better than watching the printer."

The hotel is a Sheraton now. Here's a recent cameraphone picture:

Site Of The Infamous Balcony Boning Of '02

If you click the photo, you'll be taken to my flickr page. I've added a note to the picture and identified the balcony where the festivities took place to the best of my recollection. I could be off by a floor or two, as I am an old man now and often can't remember what I ate for dinner last night.

When this happened in 2002, I remember someone asking if the couple were so stupid as to think that no one would have seen them. I pointed out that their balcony overlooked a massive four-story building that's brandished with a TV station logo, newspaper logo, topped with satellite dishes, and an NBC peacock perched on top of a weather tower. I said the schtuppers would have to be complete idiots if they didn't know they were performing in front of journalists in a building filled with cameras. Someone else pointed out that perhaps the couple wanted to perform in front of an audience in a building filled with cameras.

People are weird.

Wednesday, September 26

More Proof That We Are Rapidly Running Out Of Viable Snack Names

I noticed a new snack on the shelf at my neighborhood gas station:

Doritos Collisions

If you get into an auto accident while eating a bag of Doritos Collisions, will Alanis Morrisette write a song about it?

Today's Memo: The Guy On "Deal Or No Deal"

To: The contestant on "Deal or no Deal" right now
From: Dave
Date: Sept. 26
Subject: The excitement level

I know you're excited. After all, you're a contestant on a nationally televised game show, and there's a million dollars at stake. But do you think you could dial it down just a tad? You're acting so flamboyant that I'm starting to worry that actual flames will come out of my teevee set and singe me.

Happy Birthdays

Two of my favorite journalists are celebrating birthdays this week: Vicki Lim, who is smart, sassy, fabulous and beautiful; and Mike Fechter, who is smart, sassy and fabulous.

You'll notice that I didn't describe Fechter as beautiful. A more appropriate adjective would be luscious.

Happy birthday, Vicki. Happy birthday, Mike.

A Quadrumvirate Of Questions

When I was just a little boy I asked my mother, "What will I be? Will I be handsome? Will I be rich?" Here's what she said to me:

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is wearing olive green slacks, and a black polo shirt. He totally wishes he were wearing the t-shirt that he just saw some other guy wearing in Starbucks -- it shows the the dashboard of KITT, the car from "Knight Rider."

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave has "Knight Rider" t-shirt envy.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave knows it's not Friday. He wishes it were Friday.

Q. Did Dave see anything disturbing in the pastry case at Starbucks this morning?
A. Yes. Dave was alarmed to see the Black and White Cookies replaced by something called Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Eclipse Cookies. Dave says they may look like Black and White Cookies, but they are not Black and White Cookies, and therefore they are evil and must be destroyed.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Eclipse

Mmm, Television: Teacher, Mother, Secret Lover

As I skip middle age and settle comfortably in senility, I find that I don't get excited about new TV shows as I used to.

Years ago, I would get excited about the advent of new series like "NYPD Blue." Recently, however, I've tuned out all the hype about new programs. I haven't seen a full episode of "Heroes," "Grey's Anatomy" or "Ugly Betty." I have heard wonderful things about "Mad Men" but haven't been compelled to write about it.

I suppose part of the issue is that I'm a 35-year-old curmudgeon. I don't watch that much TV, and I already have a few shows I like, such as "The Office," "30 Rock," "South Park," and "The Daily Show."

I'm also skeptical about new shows because I've already been let down so many times by television. How many hyped new programs have I watched, only to be disappointed? I have lost count.

This fall, something weird has happened. I have not really gone out of my way to watch any of the new TV series, but I have seen three of them -- and I have liked them.

The first, "Torchwood," is on BBC America. I've already written about it. It's fun to watch a TV show that's set in a place you've been -- especially one you have a great affinity for, like Cardiff.

The second, "Chuck," premiered on NBC Monday night. It's something of a geek fairy tale, about a nerdy mensch who unwittingly inherits all of the government's secrets and has to become a secret agent. The plot holes are pretty big, but I'm willing to overlook them because the story is as good-natured as the main character. Plus, "Chuck" seems like fun. My only complaint was that the producers should have spent a bit more money on props: the government's supercomputer, seen in one of the earlier scenes, is controlled through a Mac like the one I had in my dorm room in 1990, and the explosives used in a later scene looked like a reject from a Road Runner-Coyote cartoon.

The third series, "Reaper," premiered last night on the CW. Kevin Smith, who directed "Slackers," is the executive producer. The show is about a Sam, an underachieving kid who discovers on his 21st birthday that his parents, before he was born, promised his soul to the devil. The devil needs Sam to help round up beings that have escaped from hell. I have always liked the dialogue in Kevin Smith projects, and "Reaper" didn't disappoint. The effortless apology between Sam and his best friend (named, I think, Sock) could have been between Randall and Dante in "Slackers":

Sam: "I'm an asshat."

Sock: "Yes, you are."

Sam: "So, we're cool?"

Sock: "Yeah."

I've got TiVo set to record more "Torchwood," "Chuck" and "Reaper." I still won't go out of my way to catch any new shows this season, but it's nice to know that there are some surprising, good programs on TV. It's nice to turn on the television and be delighted.

What Happens In Shul, Stays In Shul

A local newspaper reports Gov. Charlie Crist, who is not Jewish, attended Yom Kippur services in Miami. His companion was a former Playboy model.

That loud scream you just heard was me, biting my tongue. Biting it hard.

As a member of the media, I know better than to share my opinions publicly about anything -- especially when a political figure is involved.


Tuesday, September 25

Thinking About Bank Logos

Why must big bank logos be so uninspiring?

Bank of America's blue-and-white logo is a stylized American flag. To me, it looks like three equals signs that have begun to melt. It also reminds me a little bit of three hilltops in the countryside.

Here in the Southeast, Regions Bank is celebrating its acquisition of AmSouth with a new logo: a lime green pyramid with four white spikes radiating from the bottom. It has a plantlike feeling to it.

Citibank recently did away with the red umbrella in its logo -- a symbol of protection and a reminder of its connection to the Travelers Cos. Now the bank's logo is a red arc that links the two lowercase I's in the word Citi.


Perhaps I'm being too harsh. After all, it's not like I have a long list of alternatives to suggest. Perhaps big banks have to use generic logos because they can't use a specific geographic logo, like smaller, local banks. (For example, the Bank of Tampa has a beautiful logo that incorporates a local icon, one of the minarets at historic Plant Hall at the University of Tampa. The Bank of St. Petersburg also has a wonderful logo showing the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.)

I suppose all banks have a hard time with logos, actually. If you're running a pizza parlor, you can incorporate a piece of pizza into your logo. If you own a florist, you put a bouquet on the sign. But designing a logo isn't that easy for a bank -- your business isn't about money, it's about financial services. You can't just stick clip art of a dollar bill in your logo. Not if you're smart.

The Bank of America, Regions, Citi logos et. al. wouldn't look so bad if there weren't some really good bank logos out there, making them look shameful in comparison.

My favorite is the Wachovia logo, rolled out several years ago after the First Union-Wachovia merger.

The Wachovia logo recalls the etching and fine printing on bank notes, cheques and financial documents. It's simple, but it's asymmetrical, so after all these years it still captures my attention. The colors are great -- not bland but not too bold. And, on TV, the logo is dynamic: instead of just appearing as a completed piece of art, it constructs itself on the screen.

(Once again, let me offer my standard disclaimer: This blog post should not be construed as my opinions about any bank or the banking industry. It is merely my opinion about logos. I am a reporter, but I do not cover the banking industry.)

And Now, Another Exciting Installment Of The Four Questions

Here's a little bit of background on the Four Questions:

When I first started the original Daily Dave, the preternaturally grumpy Doug Stanley (who no longer works for the Tribune and is no longer grumpy, but I am in no way insinuating that those two things are related) referred me to some site in which some woman in New York answered the same four questions each day. I liked the idea, so I ripped it off imitated it -- you know, as a tribute. As the woman's fourth question always dealt with coffee, and I don't drink coffee every day, I decided I would change my last question every day.

I have always written the answers in the third person. I have no explanation for this. If you don't like it, go start your own blog and write you own regular daily question-and-answer feature.

The original Daily Dave no longer exists. (It died, regrettably, after scarfing down and entire bag of Pop Rocks and then guzzling a can of Coke. How sad.) However, the Four Questions live on. Viva la logorrhea!

Now on to the questions:

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is wearing a blue dress shirt, tan khakis, a black tie and a blue sports jacket. He is dressed for teevee. He doesn't ordinarily record a Business Report segment on Tuesdays, but coworker Shannon Behnken is under the weather today.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is feeling kind of contemplative today.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave isn't quite sure. He just feels reflective and pensive, and wishes he had time to sit somewhere, under a tree near a river, to read Very Important Books and listen to Beethoven. However, he suspects that if he were given the time, he'd squander it watching teevee.

Q. Does Dave have any thoughts about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia University yesterday?
A. Dave is intrigued by Ahmadinejad's claim that "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country." Dave wonders how Iran has made this happen, as the source of homosexuals is, in fact, hetersexual parents. The only surefire way to prevent new gay men and lesbians from entering the world is to stop all straight men and women from breeding. What is going on in Iran?

You Shuffle Me Right 'Round

On the Entertainment Weekly Popwatch Blog, a writer confesses that the first five songs that crop up randomly on his iPod when he selects Shuffle are a bit, er, fruity. As he puts it: "Apparently, my iPod is saying I'm gayer than a tangerine wearing a feather boa shopping for ginger bodywash at Origins, but I think most of you already knew that."

I wondered what would happen if I selected Shuffle on my iPod. Here's what came up:

-- "Casey Jones," Grateful Dead
-- "Mrs. Robinson (Live)," Paul Simon
-- "Candy Everybody Wants," 10,000 Maniacs
-- "Sewn," The Feeling
-- "New Moon On Monday," Duran Duran

I've only got one song from the last 20 years, but I don't think I come off looking too bad. A few more clicks produced "Us Amazonians" by Kirsty MacColl, "Rio" by Duran Duran, "Take Your Mama" by Scissor Sisters and "Angel, Won't You Call Me?" by the Decemberists.

What happens when you press Shuffle on your iPod? Leave a comment and let me know.

Monday, September 24

Koans for Jews

At the Yom Kippur service Friday night, Rabbi Birnholz spoke about the difficulty of reconciling spirituality and reason.

The problem, he said, is that it's impossible for a thinking, logical, sensible person to wholly believe what the Torah tells us about G-d, and also to accept what our own experiences as human beings tell us about life and the universe. The myths don't align with the realities.

(Of course, I'm summarizing here. I'm know I'm missing a lot of the finer points. I think I've got the gist right though. I've heard Rabbi Birnholz talk about this issue before, and I think he's a brilliant guy. He's a large part of the reason why Britt and I joined Schaarai Zedek.)

Rabbi Birnholz says the solution isn't to force the spirituality and the reason together. (I guess this would be the theological equivalent of a toddler attempting to jam the square block through the circular hole, and it would produce a Rube Goldberg-esque belief system that would fall apart easily.) Instead, Rabbi Birnholz says the solution is to understand that we're not supposed to be able to reconcile spirituality and reason.

I like this idea. It's challenging. It's philosophical. It's difficult to comprehend yet, in some way, comforting.

It reminds me of a Talmud passage that I learned a while ago from Rabbi Birnholz. This has become my mantra, my koan. To try to understand it, you have to assume that there is something in this universe that is outside the laws of nature, something for which these words might be true:

All is foreseen, and free will is given.

Wrap your head around that one for a while.

Happy Belated Birthday, Sarah

Happy belated birthday to Sarah Varga, one of my favorite humans and a Tribune refugee. She has been Sarah Varga for ages now, but I still think of her by her maiden name, Sarah Knupke -- pronounced Kuh-nup-kee.

John Reinan, a.k.a. Mr. Mom, once bestowed the nickname Knupcakes upon Sarah. I don't think the nickname stuck, but I always kind of liked it. Sarah is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. I love cupcakes and I love Sarah.

When Sarah got married, I started saying "Mrs. Varga, we're needed," whenever it was time for us to go to lunch. It was a reference "The Avengers," that old British TV series: secret agent John Steed would always call on his partner, Emma Peel, by saying, "Mrs. Peel, we're needed."

Sarah had no idea what I was talking about. She had never seen "The Avengers." She smiled politely when I tried to explain what the whole Steed-Peel to her. Even when I had crossed the border of nonsense and entered the realm of inanity, Sarah always made me feel special. And that's why she's one of my favorite humans, and why I love her, and why I wish her a year filled with happiness, health and prosperity.

Die Vier Fragen

Now ist ze time on Sphrokets vhen we do zhe Four Kwvhestions.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is wearing tan slacks and a pink dress shirt. His sports jacket is in his car. He has only just now realized that he is wearing the same tie that he wore Friday.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave wishes it were Sunday, because that is his fun day, his I-don't-have-to-run-day. Today is just another manic Monday.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave wishes that confounded Bangles song hadn't just popped into his head.

Q. Did Dave and Britt sit near any interesting characters at yesterday's Buccaneers game?
A. They did, in fact. Not too far behind Dave, there was a rather loud gentleman who must have been a world-renowned expert on race issues, because he kept offering his opinions on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. A pair of young, scantily clad, large-breasted women arrived late for the game, exclaiming loudly to no one in particular that they couldn't find the stadium. Dave found this to be quite odd, because to find Raymond James Stadium on a game day, all you really have to do is head anywhere in between West Shore and downtown and follow every single other car. Dave believes, perhaps unfairly, these women should have invested more money in education and less money in implants.

Sunday, September 23

Redskin. Noun. Dated. Offensive.

Right now, Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley and I are watching the end of the Potomac River Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons game. (They're losing to the New York Giants, but they have the ball and there's about a minute left.)

I can't decide what's uglier: the team's throwback jerseys, or the fact that we, as a society, continue to tolerate "Redskins" as the name of a professional sports franchise.

It's a close call. The jerseys are reaaaaaaally ghastly.

Final Score: Buccaneers 24, Rams 3, Questions 4

Aren't you lucky? The Bucs win again and you get to enjoy another edition of the Four Questions!

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave, now freshly showered, is wearing shorts and a t-shirt. The Joe Jurevicius jersey he wore to the Buccaneers game earlier today is hanging over the shower rail in the guest bathroom; it's still soaking wet from the downpour at halftime. The other wet clothes are in the hamper, which actually means they are in a pile on the floor somewhere in the vicinity of the hamper.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels dry and victorious.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Obviously, Dave enjoyed going to the game with Britt. He is happy the Bucs won. He is also looking forward to the season premiere of the Simpsons tonight.

Q. Does Dave have any marketing-related thoughts about today's game?
A. Yes. Dave thought it was somewhat weird to see Dodge signage around the stadium today. Dodge is a Buccaneers sponsor, but its logo is a ram -- the name and the symbol of the opposing team in today's match-up.

Today's Memo: The Cheer

To: The other people at today's Tampa Bay Buccaneers game
From: Dave
Date: Sept. 23
Subject: My suggested cheer

I had hoped we could all rally today behind my suggested new cheer, "Wham, bam, fuck you Rams!"

Instead, everyone else insisted on clinging to the old favorites: "Tampa ... Bay," and "Dee ... fense."

Excuuuuuse me for trying to bring a little originality to the game. Next week, I won't propose "Nothing could be fin-ah than fucking over Caro-linah."

Saturday, September 22

Think Fast! It's The Four Questions For Yom Kippur

On Rosh Hashanah the Four Questions are written, and on Yom Kippur they are sealed.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is now wearing a pair of khaki shorts and a maroon polo shirt.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is sooooo sorry and sooooo hungry.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave has been observing Yom Kippur, so he has been fasting and atoning. From time to time, he has also checked his e-mail, watched a little football, and browsed the Web. (Don't worry: Dave checked and the Torah doesn't explicitly mention teevee or the Internet.) There also may have been a little nap in the afternoon. Dave does not recall.

Q. What was Dave's reaction when he received a cellphone photo of Ryland, the Cutest Baby in the World, earlier today?
A. First, Dave thought that his nephew was cute enough to eat. Then Dave had to ponder whether he meant that literally or figuratively. Dave is actually that hungry.

Does Anyone Have Abe Foxman's Phone Number?

I have reason to believe the vending machines at my office are anti-Semitic.

Yesterday, I had gone to the break room in search of one last snack and drink before sundown. I dropped 65 cents in one of the vending machines and selected a Snickers bar. The machinery whirred, the candy bar fell, and then -- as if shot from a cannon -- the Snickers ricocheted off the glass and into a vacant space near the gum and mints.

It just could have been a fluke of physics, but it felt as if the vending machine deliberately threw the candy bar against the glass, instead of just dropping it, so that it wouldn't land in the right place.

I fished in my pockets and came up with another 65 cents. I selected another Snickers. There was a pause, a hesitation, but eventually the machine let the candy bar fall.

Then I went to buy a drink from the neighboring vending machine. As I didn't have enough change, I unfolded my wallet and retrieved a dollar bill.

I inserted the bill. Didn't work. I tried another. Nope. The machine wasn't even reading the bills and spitting them back out: it wouldn't even suck them in.

If I hadn't been forced to buy a second candy bar from the first vending machine, I would have had enough coins for the soda vending machine. Of course.

Yeah, it's kind of pathetic that a nice Jewish boy has to resort to a Snickers and a diet Coke as last meal before the 24 hours of repentance, prayer and fasting that we call Yom Kippur. (And, in this case, I didn't even get the diet Coke.) These are the sorts of compromises that I'm assuming nearly every Jewish American makes as we try to fit our religious holidays into our professional, secular lives.

However, it's really pathetic when the vending machines in your office conspire against you as you're trying to eat one last bit of food before you rush off to Yom Kippur services.

I went back to my desk and ate my Snickers. I complained a little. And, of course, I did make sure to go back and leave a note on the vending machine that owes me money:

Oops! In an effort to weed out extraneous photographs from my Flickr account, I accidentally deleted a few necessary pictures from my blog, including this one.

If I remember correctly, the note I taped to the vending machine said something like: "Denying someone a Snickers bar before sundown on Yom Kippur -- that's just cruel! This machine owes Dave Simanoff 60 cents." A few days later, I finally got a reply: it said that people who "loose" money in the vending machine should contact the security department to arrange for a refund. (Added on Dec. 13, 2007).

Typo Or Freudian Slip?

In a recent e-mail to one of Britt's coworkers, I accidentally referred to myself a "Dave's better half."

Talk about dating yourself.

Friday, September 21

Names, People. I Need Names.

One of my favorite things about writing the original Daily Dave was bestowing nicknames and titles upon the people who showed up regularly in the blog.

For example:

  • Michael Fechter, on different occasions, was referred to as Michael "Stop Your Lies" Fechter, Fech Walsea (apparently because of his leadership and vision), the Thieving Blog Dog (because of his "skillful harvesting of great articles from the Internet"), and Hannibal Fechter (because he once ate a census taker's liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti).
  • Doug Stanley also several nicknames and titles, including Ivana Grumpalot and America's Favorite Technology Writer Other Than Walt Mossberg
  • Cherie Jacobs was Miss Cherizon
  • Watson Simanoff was America's Favorite Housecat
  • Britt Shirley was the Complementary Spouse
  • Pat Kane was America's Favorite Domestic Terrierist. (You have to read that one carefully. She loves Fox Wire Terriers. Please, government, don't put her on any additional watch lists.)
Sadly, the original Daily Dave disappeared mysteriously sometime in 2003. No one fully understands what happened, but several scientists believe that chupacabras were involved.

Now that the Daily Dave 2.0 is up and running, I'm finding that many of my original nicknames and titles are no longer appropriate. Some people in new jobs, some are in new relationships, and some are incarcerated.

Britt, of course, remains the Complementary Spouse. I'm still struggling to find appropriate titles and nicknames for everyone else. I have started calling Cherie Mrs. Cherizon Featheringcobs (which rolls off the tongue beautifully like the most graceful of poems) and Mike America's Sweetheart (because he recently placed 2nd in the Miss Teen USA pageant), but I'm always willing to reconsider.

Any suggestions? Leave a comment.

The Food Questions

The Four Questions are cramming their mouth full of food as they prepare for Yom Kippur, which begins at sundown tonight.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is wearing food a grey suit, blue food dress shirt and blue-and-grey food tie food.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave food knows he's going to be the world's food crankiest betch once the Yom Kippur fast sets food in. So he's preoccupied food with food. Food.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave is thinking a lot about food. It's the first time food he's been so concerned food about food since food starting Weight Watchers food.

Q. Does Dave have a subliminal problem with food today?
A. No. Food food food food food food food food.

Mommy, When I Grow Up I Want To Have A Unicorn ... And A Palm Treo

A few months ago, Sprint unleashed a new television ad to promote its existing high-speed wireless offerings, or to announce its new high-speed wireless offerings.

I don't think it was a really good ad.

Visually, it was stunning. You've probably seen it. It starts at dusk, in a park setting with an urban skyline the background. Children are playing and the sky darkens. The kids play with flashlights, which seem to magically leave light trails in the air. It's as if we're seeing drawings of rocket ships, volcanoes, fish and hula hoops come to life. The effect is very cool: the pictures look like pulsating neon.

There's one part, toward the beginning of the ad, that I just love. The kids draw giant eyes, which then wink at the viewer. Before the wink, they look like giant boobs. This bit always makes me smile because it strikes me as the sort of thing that a kid really would draw on his or her picture -- overly simplistic eyes that look like cartoon breasts -- without being prurient or conscious about it. It's only lascivious adults that would make the connection.

For me, it's the voice-over that ruins this ad. The narrator begins by asking the narrator what he or she dreamed about as a child. The questions are timed to the children's actions.

Then the narrator takes a jarring turn, asking "... or maybe you dreamed of a magic screen you could carry in your pocket?" At this point, the children start making squares with their flashlights. The narrator then asks if the magic screen of our childhood dreams could show photographs and fetch sports scores from the Internet.

I have to turn on the Caps Lock key here for effect. ARE YOU KIDDING? As I see it, Spring is asking us if our childhood dreams are equatable to a new cellphone.

In other words, when you were a kid and thought you were invincible, when the world was boundless and no one -- not even yourself -- put limits on your imagination, was one of your dreams to own a Blackberry?

I have always loved gadgets, but I don't think a magic screen was ever a childhood dream. I think that's why I find this Sprint ad so jarring: it's because the narrator talks so convincingly about childhood dreams, and then brings up something that I'd have a hard time believing any child has ever dreamed about.

Perhaps I'm wrong. I'm sure Sprint's advertising and marketing firms spend a lot more money on market research than I do.

I thought this Sprint ad had disappeared, but it cropped up again last night. Oh yay.

Once again, let me offer my standard disclaimer: This blog post should not be construed as my opinions about Sprint Nextel Corp. or its advertising or marketing partners. It is merely my opinion about one of Sprint's advertisements on TV. I am a reporter, but I do not cover the advertising industry.

Today's Memo: Asshole In The Grey Audi

To: Asshole in the grey Audi, behind me yesterday at the intersection of Armenia Avenue and Horatio Street
From: Dave
Date: Sept. 21
Subject: The honking

You're such an asshole. I had only been stopped at the intersection for 10 seconds before you honked at me.

I wasn't idling for fun, you fuckwit. I didn't pull forward because if I had, I would have been sideswiped by a big ol' car heading south on Armenia. You couldn't see it because (a) you weren't sitting in the same location as me and (b) you're a huge giant asshole who horn should be removed from his vehicle and shoved forcibly and painfully into a very particular orifice. I'm pretty sure you know which one.

Thursday, September 20

iCave In

I broke down and bought a new iPod Classic with a 160 GB hard drive. I know I said I wasn't tempted by this new crop of iPods, but I just couldn't resist an iPod that runs for more than 40 hours on a single charge, and is capacious enough to accommodate all of my music and videos AND a full backup of my MacBook's hard drive, with room left over.

The old iPod goes on eBay this weekend. It will make someone else very happy: even though it's been all over the world, it looks and works just like it came out of the box. (Yes, I'm one of those anal retentive fussy people who always keeps his iPod in a case. Yes, I know it's inexcusable to hide an icon of industrial design inside a rubbery-plasticy shell. However, I also know that scratches are ugly, make even the most beautiful products look like shit, and drag down resale values.)

I didn't know what to name the new iPod, so I'm going with SkippyPod. That's the name of the last iPod, and the one before it. Apparently, my fervent gadgetlust hinders my ability to think of creative names.

Indiana Jones And The Four Questions Of Doom

I'd like a venti iced cafe con leche with skim milk, two Spenda, and the Four Questions, please.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is wearing a black polo shirt and a pair of chinos. If he were ten times as perky and half as old, he could be working at the Gap.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is starting to worry he's surrendering to middle age without much of a fight.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Right now, Dave is sitting in a Starbucks on South Howard Avenue in South Tampa. It's where he's been coming in the mornings for several weeks now to work on his blog. He was shocked to look around and realize that he looks just like all the other people there -- and they're all in their late 30s, or 40s, or 50s. He's also alarmed that everything in Starbucks seemed to be targeted at a much older demographic, from the 1960s muzak piped through the speakers to the Baby Boomer compilation CDs sitting by the registers. However, when Dave thinks about seeking out another place to write in the morning, he comes to the conclusion that Starbucks is comfortable and he doesn't like change. Perhaps Dave should be worried that he is surrendering to old age without much of a fight.

Q. Does Dave have a request for Daily Dave readers?
A. Dave would be grateful if people might suggest other good early morning writing spots in South Tampa. He says he's looking for a place with wi-fi, iced coffee, decent chairs, and music that doesn't suck ass. He says that people should just leave a comment at the end of this post.

Happy Birthday, Pauly McGuire! (Updated)

If you're reading this in London, I order you to immediately stop what you're doing, find Pauly McGuire and treat him to a pint of beer (or two) for his birthday.

I'd do it myself, but I'm on the wrong continent.

Pauly deserves the beer. And the admiration.

Pauly was my freshman roommate at Emory University, which means he put up with me for an entire year. That's hard enough to do now that I'm ostensibly an adult, but back when I was pompous 18-year-old kid, it must have been murderous. (I'm only slightly less pompous now.)

Pauly had his faults, too. Loads of them. He wasn't an easy person to accommodate. We were both young and immature.

When Pauly and I got along, we got along famously. When we clashed, we were terrible to each other. I'd like to think that we both learned from those experiences.

Years later, I remember all the fun times clearly. I only remember bits and echoes of the bad times.

Pauly and I lost touch after college, but in 2002 he found the original Daily Dave (now lost somewhere in Loch Ness) and contacted me. We began e-mailing each other. Pauly started his own blog, the Tao of Pauly, which is still going strong. We finally met up again in January 2004 at the Cedar Tree, a famous bar in New York:

I'm proud of Pauly for ditching his miserable Wall Street job to focus on his writing. That difficult career decision has led him in surprising directions. He now writes professionally about one of his passions, poker. It's a lot of work, but it takes Pauly all over the world.

That's why Pauly is in London right now.

And that's why if you're in London, you should stop what you're doing, find him, and buy him a beer. For me. For his birthday.

Pauly, happy birthday. I'm glad we're no longer roommates. I'm even more glad we're friends.

UPDATE: People of London, stop looking for Pauly! He is now back in New York. I didn't know he had returned to the United States yesterday. I now expect the people of New York to immediately seek out Pauly and buy him many, many beers. (6:19 p.m.)

They're Tighty, But They're Not Whitey

Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley loves magazines. He doesn't love reading them as much as he loves signing up for them, especially when there are frequent flyer miles involved.

At the Simanoff-Shirley household (which, Mrs. Cherizon Featheringcob suggest, should now just be called the Shiranoff household) we receive every travel magazine you've heard of, from Conde Nast Traveller to Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel. We get Newsweek, Money, This Old House, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly (my favorite). We've let so many subscriptions lapse that I couldn't possibly remember them all.

We don't get Cat Fancy, Doll Magazine or Penguin Taxidermist Monthly. Yet. You might want to check our coffee table six months from now.

Of course, Britt and I also subscribe to several gay and lesbian magazines: Advocate, Out, Genre and the like. One of these magazines is called Instinct, and its coverage veers toward celebrities, fashion and entertainment.

Last night, as I was reading Instinct, I came across a two-page advertisement for underwear. The underwear comes in bright colors, like Starburst candies. It has the company's name, Otter, spelled out in rhinestones on the left thigh.

What's this colorful, constricting, glittery product called? Disco Sex underwear, of course!

I never see ads like this in Newsweek.

You can see Disco Sex underwear for yourself at the Otter Fashion Web site. Warning: this site is not safe for work -- not because there's anything dirty on it, but because your coworkers will question your judgment when they see the words "Disco Sex Underwear" on your screen.

Wednesday, September 19

Darren Aronofsky Has A Blog

Director Darren Aronofsky has a blog but, sadly, it's kind of barren.

Aronofsky created three of the most creative, original and thought-provoking films I have ever seen: "Pi," "Requiem for a Dream," and "The Fountain." He is more visionary than a boatful of Oscar winners. He tells stories in such a way that it's impossible to envision them as anything but films. They are visual, non-linear, coded with information, dense as novels, yet as perfectly paced as a symphony. I couldn't imagine Aronofsky living 150 years ago, forced to whittle down his vision so it fits on a printed page or onto a canvas.

Two things on Aronofsky's blog so far: news that he's close to committing to his next project (yay!), and a director's commentary to "The Fountain," which anyone can download for free and listen to as they watch the film.

I'm downloading the commentary right now. It's been six months since I saw "The Fountain," and I'm still haunted by some of the imagery in the film. There were so many questions I couldn't begin to wrap my head around. I hope Aronofsky's commentary doesn't turn out to be like the answer guides at the end of your high school math textbooks -- the resource you could turn to for all the answers. I don't want all the answers spelled out so easily for me. Instead, I'm hoping Aronofsky's commentary will help me discover the bits of information embedded throughout the the storylines, the scenery, the characters, the props and the dialogue.

One hour ago, I didn't know that Darren Aronofsky had a blog. Right now, I've posted a message on his Web site, and I've been inspired to write to write this post for my blog.

I don't entertain any illusions that Aaronofsky and I will somehow start up an e-mail dialogue, elevate that into an Internet relationship, and eventually become close friends. That's simply not going to happen. But it's possible that Aronofsky will see the short comment I left on his Web site. Perhaps he'll even smile at it. And that, just by itself, would be pretty cool.

Stop The Presses -- For A New Blog? I Don't Think So

A real estate broker in Florida issued a press release today to announce he's starting a blog. Wait, that's not quite true. The broker hired a public relations agency to issue a press release announcing that he's starting a blog.

This is considered newsworthy -- in 2007? What's next: a press release about a CPA that has just bought a Blackberry? Or one about a lawyer who just created a screen name on AOL Instant Messenger? These are professionals on the cutting edge of communications technology, people, and they deserve Page One stories in the newspaper.

Stop the presses -- somewhere in Florida, a mechanical engineer just discovered LinkedIn!

The broker and the PR agency aren't located in the Tampa Bay area, and I haven't covered residential real estate in ages, so I have no idea I even received the press released.

(Let me also state, as something of a disclaimer, that I don't think it's inappropriate to write a blog post that points out that such a press release is utterly ridiculous in 2007, especially considering that the parties involved aren't local. I have been sensitive to these kinds of issues ever since the original Daily Dave disappeared mysteriously along with Glenn Miller somewhere over the English Channel in 1944.)

Some Subtle Signs Of Progress

Tomorrow will mark 10 days since Britt and I began Weight Watchers. While I don't see much improvement in the mirror, the number staring back at me from the bathroom scale is definitely smaller than it was last Monday.

A little smaller, but smaller nonetheless.

And even though I haven't graduated to a smaller pants size, my current pants no longer laugh derisively at me. That's progress.

He's Just Not That Into My Story

For a while now, I thought it would be fun to work "He's Just Not That Into You" into the lede of one of my stories.

I never imagined I'd use it to kick off a story about a Federal Reserve Board rate cut. However there it is, in black and white, on the front page of today's Tampa Tribune: "Ben Bernanke is just not that into you."

It works. It works great because Bernanke is the Fed Reserve chairman, and the gist of the story is that the cut's mostly about reassuring people on Wall Street, and doesn't really do much for you and me -- or our wallets.

(By the way, lede is not a typo. This is how it's spelled in the newspaper industry. I have always been told that lede is written this way so that, in the old-timey days when reporters rode to work on dinosaurs and wrote stories on contraptions called "type-o-writers," there wouldn't be any confusion between the lead paragraphs in the stories and the lead spacers used to lay out pages. So there. Thhhhpppt.)

The Doodles Speak!

Pat Kane passes along the following message:

Dear Daily Dave,

The staff of Mr. Doodle's Dog thank you heartily for your shout-out of this morning.

It was a generous gesture on your part, and the compliments ... we were pinching ourselves. "He's talking about us?"

You know better than most how difficult it can be to capture the firefly one let out into the yard some time ago. You know the firefly is out there, and you think you can catch it. But then, what do you do with it? Will the firefly still shine for you, or will the light and the magic have dissipated long ago?

We can see you're leading your own firefly around by its tail. Maybe we can do the same. The four of us, and there are four, have lots of ideas. If only we had someone at home with us full time to help us execute them.

Oh, well.

A big thank you, DD, and may your firefly always shine.

-- Nigel (celestially), Gimlet, Sammy (yawning) and Joe the Cat (waiting to go out and catch something other than a firefly. He likes bunnies.)

P.S. Please get word to Watson, if Nigel hasn't already, that we'll be contacting him for an interview once we've firmly re-established ourselves online.

Thank you, my canine and feline friends. I am certain that, where ever they may be right now, Nigel and Watson are collaborating on one heck of a project.

Movie Math : Renaissance

I saw "Renaissance," a French-made English-language sci-fi film noir thriller, last night on DVD. It appeared to be one of those films where the actors are filmed in front of a green screen, and then their motions are used to produce an entirely computer-generated image.

Visually, "Renaissance" is done entirely in black and white. There isn't a single shade of grey on screen. It's an idea that may have sounded great in concept, but didn't quite pan out on screen, as sometime the effect was photorealistic and sometimes it was cartoony. The characters were hard to make out, but the scenery of a futuristic Paris comes across quite well.

The plot deals with a missing scientist (young, brilliant, beautiful), her even more beautful but less brainy sister, a headstrong police detective, and a powerful but sinister corporation. Yawn.

Here's the math: "Renaissance" = "Sin City" + "Blade Runner" - compelling story

Avast, Ye Mateys! It Be Time For The Four Questions!

Today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Here be yer Four Questions:

Q. What be Dave wearin' today?
A. Dave be wearin' a red polo shirt, and a pair o' chinos. There be a parrot perched on his shoulder.

Q. How be Dave a-feelin' today?
A. Dave feels like a scurvy dog, mateys. Arrrrr!

Q. What be t' factors affectin' Dave's mood today?
A. T' weather be cloudy in tampa. That may make it harder t' find buried treaaye today, Dave thinks.

Q. Arrr! Does Dave think this whole pirate idea, which seemed cute a' first, be now just tiresome and stupid?
A. (Sigh) Aye.

A Few Words About Jeff Houck

When I learned Jeff Houck had received a new fryolater -- is that the technical term? -- I suspected it wouldn't be long before he treated the office to something tasty.

I wasn't wrong.

On Monday, Jeff bought in a bag of homemade potato chips. They were flavored with rum and barbecue sauce and a bunch of other things, Jeff said. They were absolutely delicious -- 100 times better than anything that's ever come out of a Frito-Lay bag.

I told Jeff I'd pay money for his chips. Good money. On a reporter's salary, that's a huge compliment.

Really, I have nothing but compliments for Jeff. He's one of the most inventive and fun people I've met in the newspaper industry. Before he took over our Flavor section, I thought all food-related stories in newspapers were the same: white-haired ladies swapping casserole recipes. Jeff's Flavor sections are a feast of engaging features and interviews, all told in interesting ways.

Jeff's also the guy who decided one day it would be fun to take pictures of everyone he knew wearing sombreros and -- click! -- the Sombrero Project was born. He's a prolific blogger, and I check his wonderfully written Side Salad every day.

I'd like to think that I, in some small way, helped nudge Jeff into the world of blogging. I talked to Jeff about the original Daily Dave before Jeff started Side Salad. In fact, one of Jeff's earliest posts thanks me for recognizing his fledgling site on the Daily Dave.

Alas, the original Daily Dave was lost forever in the great Zombie-Unicorn Wars of 2003. (Give me a break -- if you don't know the real story, it was ancient history, and if you do know the story, you don't need to have me recount it for the n-teenth time.) However, if it were possible to peer back through the veil of space and time to Monday, Sept. 30, 2002, you would have seen this posting on the original DD:

Ah, I've enticed yet another person to the world of blogging. Please take a look at Jeff Houck's Side Salad. (I had nothing to do with the name.) It's kind of spartan now, but I'm expecting big things from Jeff's Side Salad. (Once again, let me repeat, I had nothing to do with the name.)

Thanks for your ingenuity and wit, Jeff. And, once again, thanks for the potato chips. I can't eat too many of them because I am now on Weight Watchers, but if you let me sneak a few chips every now and then, and agree not to tell Britt, I will remain in your fan club forever.

(Note to Britt: Anything you read here about potato chips falls under the Josh Turner rule. It is all a typo. I don't know from potato chips.)

Tuesday, September 18

Keepin' It Israel

America's Sweetheart Michael Fechter directs us to another gem on JewTube -- er, YouTube:

Welcome Back, Mr. Doodle's Dog!

I'm delighted to report that Pat Kane is once again updating her wonderful blog, Mr. Doodle's Dog. Pat is an excellent writer and gifted artist, and I have missed her online insights and wit over the past two years.

My favorite Mr. Doodle's Dog feature was the interview Pat's dogs Nigel and Gimlet conducted with my parents' cat, Watson, in 2003. Yes, really. Sadly, Nigel and Watson have passed away. You can still find the interview here.

The IV Questions

Open the door, get on the floor, everybody walk the dinosaur. Boom boom, acka-lacka-lacka-Four Questions.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is wearing olive-colored pants and a blue polo shirt. He is pretty sure these things match, although there are no Garanimals sewn inside his clothes.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is happy right now, because while he's answering these questions he's also talking to his brother Lee through Google Chat.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Duh. Dave's chatting with Lee.

Q. Today's fourth question, suggested by Lee: She-b'khol ha-layloht anu okhlin bayn yosh'bin u'vayn m'soobin, bayn yosh'bin u'vayn m'soobin. Ha-lahylah ha-zeh, ha-lahylah ha-zeh, koolanu m'soobin?
A. Dave thinks Lee is being much too literal.

Q. Bonus FIFTH question, posed to Lee: Why did the youngest person always have to read the Four Questions at Passover?
A. Lee says he doesn't have an answer, but he thinks it was a stupid policy. He says the youngest person at the seder table sometimes didn't know how to read. "No wonder we were in the desert for so long," he writes.

Run Ryland Run

Ryland, the Cutest Baby in the World (remember -- I'm using capital letters because this is an Indisputable Fact, and not a matter of opinion), has already begun his Olympic training regimen.

The video comes from proud parents Michon and Lee.

A Supernova Of Blogging Activity

It has been over a month since I have fallen back in love with blogging. I don't know what has made me so passionate about writing online again, but I'm just as excited about the Daily Dave now as I was when I started the thing in 2002.

You know there's going to be a chart, right?

This chart represents the number of posts I've written each month since relaunching the blog in December 2003. (What happened to the original Daily Dave? Nobody knows. It's one of those unsolved global mysteries, like Roswell and the Bermuda Triangle and Carmen Miranda's hat.)

As you can see, I started the new blog with a torrent of posts but lost interest quickly. You'll see a huge spike in posts starting last month. This month, which isn't even over, has been the most productive month in DD2.0 history.

What's the point in all this? One, I'm proud of myself for rekindling my enthusiasm for blogging and for reviving the Daily Dave 2.0. Two, I hope that people enjoy reading this drivel as much as I enjoy pounding it out. Three, I really, really hope that the MacArthur Foundation gives out genius grants for people who want to pursue advances in useless but shiny charts and graphs.

Monday, September 17

Watch Movies The Britt And Dave Way

A few years ago, I tested out Netflix for the Tampa Tribune. I don't recall exactly what I wrote in the review, but the gist was basically this: Netflix's online catalog was great, but DVD shipping times were much too long, and too many DVDs seemed to get lost in the mail.

Since then, I had heard that Netflix had expanded its logistics network, opening distribution centers around the country. Service improved. DVDs arrived promptly. Customers were raving about the company.

Eventually, I decided it was time to give Netflix another chance. Britt and I enrolled earlier this year, and we've been happy customers since then. Sometimes we'll watch our three DVDs over the course of a weekend. Sometimes days -- even a week -- will pass between movies. Since Netflix doesn't impose deadlines, there's no pressure to watch films. We pop in the DVDs when we're in the mood to see them.

Want to see Netflix for yourself? Britt and I can help. The company says we can invite friends and family members to test out the service free for one month. The deadline to sign up is Sept. 30.

If you sign up, Britt and I will get a free rental.

If you're curious, drop me a line or leave a message in the comments. I'll forward the e-mail message that you'll need to sign up for your free one-month trial.

I hope I'm not coming across like some kind of Amway salesperson. I'm not trying to pitch anything. All I'm saying is Britt and I have got one-month trial Netflix offers to distribute, and if you haven't tried Netflix yet, you might want to give it a go.

If you want one of these trial offers, let me know. If you don't, not a problem.

Today's Haiku -- Or Is It Hyaku?

Hyaku or haiku?

Rommie Johnson had this Hyaku-Shiki action figure on his desk this afternoon. He's not exactly sure what the action figure is, or what it's supposed to do. He's not getting much help from the description on the box, which only has one phrase in English: "Mobile suit in action!"

I'm amused by the word hyaku, which seems incredibly similar to haiku. Here's a poem I've written:

Serene poetry
Is now a killer robot.
It will crush your head.

You Should Be Able To Tell A Book By Its Cover

Here's what I think. I think that if you're going to publish a book called "Street Nurse," and you're going to put a picture on the cover that shows a nurse hanging out on the sidewalk, then that book had ought to be about sexy nurse hookers. It should be filled with dialogue along the lines of: "Here, big boy, let me take your blood pressure. No, no, no, put your arm down. I'm going to take your pulse somewhere else."

Am I right? I'm right. I know I'm right.

However, here's the book that was lying out on the freebie counter at work -- the place that unsolicited books and CDs and other flotsam in the newsroom go to die:

"Street Nurse"

It's the autobiography of a legitimate nurse. Even though I'm gay, and therefore not the target audience for nurse sex kitten literature, I thought this was a huge letdown.

I think a more appropriate title for this book should be "The Utterly Nonarousing Adventures Of A Totally Genuine Nurse, Who Makes Housecalls But Not The Kind You've Seen On Cinemax After 11 O'Clock."

A Brush With Fame (In Which I Am The Famous Person)

At Target this evening, as I was stopping by the pharmacy, an elderly lady approached me and asked, very politely, "Aren't you Dave Whatever-It-Is, the guy from The Tampa Tribune?"

"Yes, ma'am, I am," I replied.

"I see you in the mornings I television," she said. "You're very good."

"Thank you very much," I said.

As she walked away, I wondered if anyone has ever called Matt Lauer "Matt Whatever-It-Is." I was amused, but not offended. After all, I'm not on TV every day, and I don't have a particularly memorable last name.

Later, as I drove home, I realized that I never actually told the lady my last name. I picture her on the phone, excitedly telling her friends, "You'll never guess who I ran into at Target! Dave Whatever-It-Is! No, I don't know his last name. No, apparently he didn't know it either."

The Four Questions Would Like To Be Added To Your MySpace Friends List

Another day, another dollar, another installment of the Four Questions.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is wearing an orange jumpsuit. He is being held without bail in a Las Vegas jail after an alleged armed robbery at a hotel and casino there.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is a little tired, despite getting a full night's rest. Perhaps he needs some caffeine.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave is usually in a bad mood when he's being held without bail.

Q. What was Dave allegedly trying to steal in Las Vegas?
A. Dave wanted those little soaps and shampoos from the hotel bathroom. Allegedly.

Last Night's Emmys

I only watched one hour of last night's Emmys but my favorite part, by far, was the American Express commercial with Tina Fey. The bit where she's reviewing scripts and accidentally tells a writer that his divorce papers are hilarious? That's brilliant!

There were so many parts I didn't like. High on the list: Ryan Seacrest's two creepy sex jokes about teenage TV actresses. First he made a coming-of-age comment about the cheerleader from "Heroes" in his opening remarks. Then, later in the show, he accused a blogger in the audience of ogling naked pictures of that actress from "High School Musical."

Sunday, September 16

Liveblogging the Emmys

I don't know how much of this I'll end up blogging, as I'm tired and I really can't tolerate Ryan Seacrest.

7:58 p.m.: We're still in the pre-show dreck, and some British guy is telling us that everyone looks "sensational" and "fabulous."

8 p.m.: The show kicks off with a song by Brian and Stewie from "Family Guy." It's got a great "Sopranos" gag. I like the theater-in-the-round layout.

8:03 p.m.: Ryan Seacrest walks on stage. I can't believe it, but I would have preferred John Madden as host.

8:05 p.m.: Ryan Seacrest is hitting on Eva Longoria ... and seems to know a lot about her shoes.

8:07 p.m.: Ryan Seacrest makes a creepy comment about the 18-year-old cheerleader from "Heroes" and Jeremy Piven from "Entourage."

8:08 p.m.: Ray Romano comes on stage and Fox mistakenly cuts away during his first punchline.

8:12 p.m.: And the Emmy for supporting actor in a comedy series goes to Jeremy Piven, which means Rainn Wilson from "The Office" was robbed.

8:14 p.m.: Vanessa Williams looks like a gorgeous lime sherbet bird. She and America Ferrera announce that the best supporting actor in a drama series is Terry O'Quinn, whom I have never heard of before, of "Lost," a show I have never seen before. I wanted William Shatner to win because, after all, he's Captain Kirk!

8:17 p.m.: Commercial break. Why does Jessica Simpson agree to appear in advertisements that reinforce her public image as a complete airhead?

8:21 p.m.: Ryan Seacrest is back. He just insinuated that Paula Abdul tokes up.

8:22 p.m.: Tina Fey is presenting an award! I loooooove her. So is Julia-Louis Dreyfus, whom I love but not nearly as much. Jaime Pressly is named best supporting actress in a comedy series, beating out Jenna Fischer from "The Office."

8:25 p.m.: Katherine Heigl corrects the announcer after mispronouncing her last name! As someone with a last name that's often mispronounced, I love the chutzpah.

8:29 p.m.: Another commercial break. So far, with the exception of the opening animated song, I haven't been very impressed by anything I've seen on the Emmys.

8:33 p.m.: Ellen DeGeneres is here ... to introduce a montage of political one-liners, that segues inexplicably into a farewell to Tom Snyder? At least Ellen was able to hold our attention until Fox was able to get its TelePromTers working.

8:37 p.m.: Eva Longoria and the "Entourage" boys announce that Katherine Heigl of "Grey's Anatomy" wins the award for best supporting actress in a dramatic series. Everyone pronounces her name correctly.

8:44 p.m.: So far, the videos for the Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program nominees was the funniest thing I've seen all evening. For the "Colbert Report" video, each of the writers slapped Stephen Colbert. Writers' names was inserted into Alberto Gonzales' testimony for the "Daily Show" video. The "Real Time with Bill Mahler" video was a none-too-subtle homage to Larry Craig.

8:46 p.m.: More commercials.

8:50 p.m.: Christina Aguilera and Tony Bennett are singing "Stepping Out with my Baby." It sounds great, and she looks very pretty. They are accompanied with the usual cadre of dancers; the men, inexplicably, appear to have had enough time to put on their tuxes, but not enough time to button up their shirts.

8:53 p.m.: I'm starting to doze off, so the liveblogging ends here. Perhaps something amazing will happen after I switch off the TV. Maybe, as rumored, Britney Spears will show up to apologize for her appearance at the Video Music Awards last week. I don't think that's going to happen though. If it does, I'll be content to read about it online tomorrow morning.

Saturday, September 15

Touching On "Torchwood"

I finally saw the premiere of "Torchwood" on BBC America today. The show appears to be a hybrid of "Doctor Who" and "Men in Black." I can't figure out why the lead character is an American, but I was delighted to see the series is set in Cardiff. In fact, the Torchwood team -- the top-secret group that hunts down aliens -- has its headquarters underneath Mermaid Quay and the Wales Millennium Centre, just a two-minute walk from where my parents lived last year.

Here's a photo I took:

Who knew my parents lived near such a hotbed of extra-terrestrial excitement? For that matter, who in the U.K. would have figured Cardiff would have been a hotbed of anything?

"Torchwood" may not be able to answer those two questions, but it seems like an entertaining show. I've set up a season pass on TiVo.

The FO_R Q_ESTIONS: I'd Like To Solve The Puzzle, Pat

All my exes live in Texas. That's why I hang my hat with the Four Questions.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave's wearing grey shorts and a grey t-shirt. He's monochromatic.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels bored and passive-aggresive-ey.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave would have liked to go out and done something fun today. However, Britt has been content to sit around on the couch, watching college football on teevee while surfing the Internet on his MacBook, so Dave has remained upstairs, flipping through the various football games and listening to music.

Q. Surely, Britt has offered to go somewhere and do something today, right?
A. Yes, but by that time, Dave was already feeling very neglected and just wanted to be left alone so he could make up new words like "passive-aggressive-ey."

Those Shoes Are Hers, Betch

So, it turns out Margaret Cho wasn't the only celebrity making a cameo appearance in the Dresden Dolls' "Shores of California" video (see my previous post, here). The drag queen who smooches singer Amanda Palmer is named Kelly, and she seems to have quite a following on YouTube. Based on the following video, I have surmised that (a) she likes shoes, (b) she really likes shoes, and (c) let's get some shoes.

This totally made me crack up.

From now on, I'm pronouncing bitch with a short e vowel sound, instead of a short i vowel sound. Take that, betches!

Update: Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley says: "This is the sort of thing Andy Dick wishes he had done, betch!"

Friday, September 14

Smiling In Springfield

Today has been full of Simpsons references. I wrote about cromulent and embiggens this morning. I wrote and taped a Business Report script that quotes Ralph Wiggum. And Homer gets a brief mention in my next Get Ahead column, running Monday in the Tribune.

Why do I love the Simpsons so much? I don't know. I wouldn't even know where to begin. I just know that when I hear exchanges like the ones below, I can't help but smile:

Homer: You know, when I was a boy, I really wanted a catcher's mitt, but my dad wouldn't get it for me. So I held my breath until I passed out and banged my head on the coffee table. The doctor thought I might have brain damage.

Bart: Dad, what's the point of this story?

Homer: I like stories.

Message From Britt: "Did We Just Move Back To The 1960s?"

As a member of the media, I do not make my opinions known publicly. As an employee of the Tampa Tribune, I certainly won't point out something in a competing newspaper.

However, there's nothing stopping Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley from doing either of those two things:

Hey, there's a story in the St. Pete Times about some "pro-white candidate" running for office in Pasco. Did we just move back to the 1960s? I don't know what's worse -- the news, or the comments underneath the story. Thought you'd like to see the "We want you ... to die to Israelis don't have to" signs that this guy's friends were apparently handing out yesterday when you were sitting in temple. Here's the link.

I have nothing to say on the matter. I'm just cut-and-pasting Britt's message in case anyone else should be interested in the issue.

It's 11 O'Clock. Do You Know Where Your Four Questions Are?

It's not really 11 o'clock. My Four Questions are right here:

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. After wearing suits for two days, Dave has decided to wear jeans to work. However, since he must tape business reports for teevee later today, he is also wearing a dress shirt and tie. His blue sports coat is in the back seat of his car.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels a little paranoid.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave suspects that someone from the New England Patriots has been videotaping him. How else, he asks, can you explain the fact that Tom Brady was in his kitchen this morning with a Sony Handycam?

Q. Is Dave having a difficult time thinking of a fourth question this morning?
A. Yes.

Embiggening My Blog, One Cromulent Post At A Time

Kudos to Sarah Knupke and Cherie "Mrs. Cherizon" Jacobs! These divas (both Tribune refugees) were first to contact me about the use of the word cromulent in one of yesterday's posts.

Cromulent isn't a real word. It appeared as a joke in "Lisa the Iconoclast," a Simpsons episode that originally aired in 1996. It's used, in fact, to justify another made-up word.

In "Lisa the Iconoclast," we're told that Jebediah Springfield, the founder and namesake of the town where the Simpsons live, is famous for saying "A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man." Everyone in town is familiar with this expression but few people recognize that embiggens isn't a real word.

In class, as the children are watching a film about Jebediah Springfield, teacher Edna Krabapple turns to and confesses: "Embiggens? I never heard that word before I moved to Springfield."

Miss Hoover responds: "I don't know why. It's a perfectly cromulent word."

I love this. I abso-fucking-lutely love it! I laugh everytime I think about it.

You probably won't see either of these words the New York Times anytime soon. However, Wikipedia reports that embiggens and cromulent have appeared in physics research papers, video games, rap music and some online dictionaries.

Perhaps they are catching on.

How perfectly cromulent.

Bad Jews, Part Two

I couldn't believe it. She was sitting one row ahead of me. She wore a red dress, and had reddish-browish hair. And right in the middle of Rosh Hashanah services yesterday afternoon, she lazily fetches her cellphone out of her purse and checks her e-mail messages. She didn't even bother to turn off the sound -- I heard every peep, click and boop coming out of her handset.

Bad Jew!

Today's Memo: Nouns

To: Nouns
From: Dave
Date: Sept. 14
Subject: Self-Defense

C'mon, guys! Stand up for yourselves! Are you going to stand idly by while the philistines turn another innocent noun -- effort -- into a crude verb?

Thursday, September 13

You Won't See This on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve

Many thanks to America's Sweetheart Michael Wilbur Fechter for bringing this to my attention:

Hit The Four Questions Baby One More Time

It's the Four Questions, bitch.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave's doing the full suit thing again, because it's Rosh Hashanah. He's wearing a blue dress shirt and black tie. He's also got his favorite blue-and-white knit yarmulke, although he's not wearing it right now. It's in his shirt pocket.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels a little worn-out today, but is doing OK.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave is looking forward to a nice weekend with Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley. He's also looking forward to the chicken parmigiana that Britt is cooking for dinner tonight. He just wishes he didn't have to wait for these things.

Q. What are Dave's thoughts on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act?
A. As a member of the media, Dave does not share his opinions publicly about anything at all. (When asked if he believes kitties are cute, he neither confirmed or denied it.) On the topic of ENDA, he suggests that you look at the information provided on the Human Rights Campaign's ENDA Action Center Web Site and decide for yourself whether to support the effort to pass this legislation.

High-Ho-Hum Holidays

Last night's Rosh Hashanah service felt like a chore. I simply wasn't in the mood, I guess. I kept losing my place in the prayerbook. I didn't even try to read along with the Hebrew parts. I just felt unfocused and lifeless. I was going through the motions but nothing seemed to connect at a deeper level.

It was the spiritual version of Britney Spears' performance at last weekend's Video Music Awards, I suppose. (I haven't seen it, but the reviews I have read were just brutal.)

When I started coughing, Britt and I left. It turned out I just needed some water.

During the service, my mind kept drifting off. It would invariably end up at the same two thoughts:

1. The readings much have seemed so much different 100 years ago when the word Israel only meant the Jewish people, scattered at that time throughout the world. Today, it's impossible to hear the word and not think first of the country and its political situation.

2. Does my breath stink?

I'll be back at synagogue today for the second round of Rosh Hashanah services. I hope I'll be able to concentrate a little bit more. And I'll be bringing mints.

More Starbucks Weirdness

Also in Starbucks this morning: There's a guy sitting to my right, reading a book called "The Armchair Millionaire." He's sitting in a wooden chair, even though there is an empty green overstuffed armchair just five feet away.

Think Different

I am here in my usual ayem blogging spot, and there's a guy sitting over by the window working on his Dell notebook computer. There's a big ol' Apple sticker covering up the Dell logo.

I'd take a picture if I could do so inconspicuously.

Two thoughts: First, does this guy think he's fooling anyone? I'm pretty sure no one's walking past and mistaking his Dell Latitude-or-whatever-it-is for the new MacBook Pro. Second, I'm fairly certain no one has ever defaced their new Apple notebook with a Dell sticker.

Today's Memo: Jews

To: Jews
From: Dave
Date: Sept. 13
Subject: Behaviour

Okay, which one of us has been whipping out the Nikon in synagogue?

At the start of Rosh Hashanah services last night, Rabbi Birnholz reminded everyone to turn off their cell phones and pagers. That's a perfectly cromulent thing to do, as practically everyone carries a cell phone or pager these days, and it's easy to forget to switch it off.

Then he pointed out that since we were in synagogue, and about to begin a religious ceremony, it would not be appropriate to take photographs.

I was flummoxed. Who doesn't know this? I just assumed that everyone knew it was an improper thing to do. It's even in the Torah! (It's somewhere in the back, I think, near the part that says "On the 2,102,400th day, G-d invented TiVo, and He saw that it was good.")

With the exception of enthusiastic relatives during bar and bat mitzvahs, I've never seen anyone taking pictures during a religious service in a synagogue. I've certainly not seen it during a Rosh Hashanah service.

However, I don't think Rabbi Birnholz would have made an announcement about picture-taking unless it previously had been a problem.

So, my fellow Jews, it's time to fess up. Who among us has turned into the synagogue paparazzi, rushing the bima and blinding the rabbis and cantor with a non-stop barrage of flashes? Bad Jew! You'll have to atone for your wrongdoing. Fortunately, Yom Kippur is right around the corner.

Wednesday, September 12

Happy New Year

Britt and I would like to wish all of our family and friends a happy, healthy and prosperous 5768. L'shana tovah!

In Judaism, it's customary to celebrate the new year by dipping apple slices in honey.

Jewish tradition says the apples and honey are supposed to represent the sweetness of the year to come. Weight Watchers says a small apple is worth one point, and a teaspoon of honey is worth another point.

Four More Questions

The Four Questions are to be delivered only to the named addressee(s) and may contain information that is confidential, proprietary, trade secret, work product, attorney work-product, attorney-client or otherwise privileged. If you are not the addressee indicated in this message (or responsible for delivery of the message to such person), you may not copy or deliver this message to anyone. In such case, you should destroy this message, and notify us immediately.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is wearing a suit (the jacket's in the car), a pink dress shirt, and a blue tie with a very cool geometric pattern. His yarmulke (the white and blue one he bought in Israel in 1993) is in his jacket pocket. Dave is dressed up because Rosh Hashanah begins tonight, so he and Britt are headed to services at 6 p.m.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is in a good mood.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave loves the various rituals related to the High Holidays, so he's looking forward to services tonight and tomorrow. He's also happy to report that after three days with Weight Watchers, he doesn't feel hungry and isn't tempted to break down and cram a dozen Kit Kat bars into his mouth.

Q. What are Dave's thoughts on the word yarmulke?
A. For many years, Dave had no idea that yarmulke was spelled this way. He thought it was spelled phonetically, like yammicka. Whenever he encountered the word yarmulke in print, he thought it was pronounced yah-MAH-look and had no idea what it meant. He was maybe 15 years old before he figured this out. Incidentally, when Dave lived in the UK, no one called yarmulkes yarmulkes. They called them kippas, which were pronoumced CUP-ols. This proved equally confusing to Dave. Looking back over all this, Dave is forced to admit that he is a very, very stupid man.

Best. Song. Ever.

Starbucks is currently playing one of my favorite songs of all time, "Uncle John's Band" by the Grateful Dead.

When I was a freshman in college, Pauly McGuire and I would put this play this song all the time. Sometimes we'd put "Skeletons in the Closet," the Grateful Dead greatest hits album, in the CD player, turn the stereo all the way up, point our speakers out the window, and head outside to play football or hang out in the field across the street from our dorm.

So much fun. We pissed off a lot of people.

The grassy field is long gone -- it's now underneath Emory's new business school building. Pauly travels all over the world, writing about the world of professional poker. And I'm here in Tampa, working for the local daily newspaper. Once in a while, when I'm lucky, I get to sit here in a chain coffee shop and work on my blog. When I'm really lucky, I get to hear a great song that brings back fond memories.

Come hear Uncle John's Band by the riverside,
Got some things to talk about here beside the risin' tide.
Come hear Uncle John's Band playing to the tide, come on
Along or go alone, he's come to take his children home.

Advertising Vehicle

About a year ago, General Motors debuted a television advertisement that drove me nuts.

Here's the storyline: First, we saw drivers and passengers stuck in traffic in different areas around the country. Everyone is frustrated. Next, the General Motors vehicles magically levitate, surprising and delighting the occupants. Finally, those cars and trucks zip above the non-General Motors vehicles. We see the GM products flying through urban cityscapes, over palm-lined causeways, and so on.

The none-to-subtle message, of course, is that General Motors cars and trucks are a step above the competition, and they're exhilarating to drive. In fact, they're so much fun to drive that you might even feel like you're flying!

The problem with the ad, I thought, is that is clearly shows GM products doing something they can't do. It shows the cars flying. GM doesn't make consumer cars and trucks that fly!

Yes, I know that the ad is supposed to be a metaphor. I'm an English major and a professional writer, so I know all about symbolism. However, I also know that it's misleading when a company shows its products doing something in advertisements that it doesn't do in real life. Shouldn't the Federal Trade Commission have forced General Motors to have put a disclaimer on the bottom of the ad: "Cars do not actually levitate or fly?"

When these ads were still on TV, I felt like walking into one of the GM dealerships here and demanding to buy a flying car, just like the ones in the ads.

I remember seeing the flying vehicles in a second GM ad, sometime around Christmas. The cars and trucks had replaced Rudolph et. al. and were pulling Santa's sled around. I didn't mind this quite so much because, after all, if we're supposed to believe that reindeer can fly, why not suspend disbelief further and believe Pontiacs can too?

GM's flying vehicles are gone from TV. I don't know if the advertising campaign ran its course, or if the ads didn't work, or if some wiseass like me actually pointed out to the company that the spots were deceiving. However, I've noticed a new TV spot for GMC (a division of General Motors) that again shows vehicles doing something they can't do in real life.

In these spots, older models of GMC trucks are smashing through cinderblock walls and emerging, undented and unscratched, as newer models. Once again, I understand the symbolism involved: GMC trucks are breaking through barriers and so on. However, the ads imply that if you drive your GMC truck headfirst into a solid brick wall, you and your truck will come out unscathed.

I'm thinking of heading to the local GMC dealership and asking to test drive the GMC truck that can drive through brick walls. I can't wait to see the look on the salesperson's face.