Wednesday, October 31

A Programming Note

Sorry for the lack of new posts. I'm just not in a blogging mood.

Monday, October 29

My Book Has Been Adapted Into A Movie

For our anniversary, I made a book for Britt. It shows all the places we've visited over the last five years and, appropriately enough, I titled it "Around the World in 1,826 Days."

As it's physically impossible to post the actual book on the blog -- not even with duct tape! -- I have converted it into a slideshow. Enjoy.

Five Years And Counting

Britt and Dave at Coco Falls

Happy fifth anniversary to Britt and me.

Saturday, October 27

Here Kitty

Here's a really short video of the cat that followed me home Wednesday. I forgot to send it from my phone to my computer until just now.


Yeah, it's not thrilling stuff, but what do you expect? I'm a schlub with a cellphone, not Steven Spielberg.

I Really Don't Care Who Wins (As Long As Georgia Loses)

The Florida-Georgia game is underway at last. Ten minutes into the first quarter, the score is tied at 7-7.

I lived in Georgia for four years when I went to Emory University, but have lived in Florida for much longer, and my brother and sister-in-law are both University of Florida graduates. Therefore, I'm rooting for Florida all the way.

At work yesterday, lots of people were wearing orange and green in support of the Gators.

Regrettably, quite a few people were wearing red and black for the Bulldogs:

Are you trying to seduce me, Mr. Belcher?

In the above photograph, Walt Belcher (whose leg is in the foreground) clumsily is reenacting a scene from "The Graduate."

Actually, he is showing off his garish University of Georgia sock to Dale Hokrein. Dale appears to be taking waaaaay too much interest in Walt's hosiery.

Mary Shedden, one of my favorite humans, didn't wear anything special to work Friday morning. She came back from lunch with a Gators hat and button:

1026071350.jpg

My favorite Gators booster is my nephew Ryland, the Cutest Baby in the World. Lee and Michon forward this photo from Jacksonville:

Ryland says: Go Gators!

Ryland is tired because it takes hard work and determination to cheer on the Gators properly.

Friday, October 26

The Four Questions Are Bigger Than You, And You Are Not Me

That's me in the corner.
That's me in the spotlight, losing my Four Questions.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave looks resplendent in his Papageno costume.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is feeling worn and frustrated.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave is sick and tired of carrying around this stupid glockenspiel. He's also wondering why he has to keep following around this stupid Tamino guy, when he should be out looking for his own freaky bird-looking creature. Also, Dave is wondering what's up with all the crazy Freemason symbolism.

Q. Dave heard the Queen of the Night aria from Die Zauberflöte on his iPod, right?
A. Dave says yes, and that's why he's making all of these stupid Magic Flute references.

Miles To Go Before I Weep

The long drive home

Sometimes I'm jealous of my coworkers who have lengthy commutes.

I assume that after a crummy day in the office, the commuters enjoy a half hour of solitude in their cars. They listen to music. They muse on their thoughts. They get to decompress, like deep sea divers after a day on the ocean floor.

It takes me less than 10 minutes to drive home from work. If I leave the office in a shitty mood, I arrive home in a shitty mood.

Today I am much less jealous of the commuters. I had to cover a story yesterday afternoon in Clearwater, and I went home in the thick of rush hour.

I was not enjoying the music and contemplating the Big Issues of Life. I was stomping the brake pedal, wondering how much more frustrating the experience stop-and-go (but mostly stop) would have to get before I literally began screaming.

I chugged my way back across the Courtney Campbell Causeway, slogged through Rocky Point, navigated through the parking lot that is supposed to be the intersection of Memorial Highway and Kennedy Boulevard.

I can't believe I had ever romanticized the concept of commutes!

Thursday, October 25

The Wild Four Questions Thing

I introduced myself as Loc, and she said, "You're a liar."
I said, "I got it goin' on, baby doll, and I'm on fire."
I took her to the hotel; she said, "You're the king."
I said, "Be my queen, if you know what I mean, and let us do The Four Questions."

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave looks stunning in a dark blue polo shirt and a a pair of olive green pants. He bought these clothes either in Milan, at the Gucci store, or on Dale Mabry Highway, at the Target store. He gets the two places confused.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is eager for the work week to wind down, and for the weekend to begin.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave's looking forward to the weekend because he and Britt have tickets to see "Jewtopia" at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center Friday night, which promises to be great fun. (Dave is bringing a notebook, as he's promised to write a review for the Tribune.) Also, Dave and Britt may head to the zoo this weekend to visit their baby elephant friend Tamani. If the weather is foul, they have several unwatched Netflix DVDs to watch.

Q. How much weight has Dave lost so far with Weight Watchers?
A. Dave has lost nearly 15 pounds, but he may gain all that weight back very soon as Giordano's, the Chicago-based restaurant chain known for its delicious deep dish pizza, finally opened a shop less than five minutes from Shirlanoff Manor. Dave has not been to Giordano's yet, but he knows he cannot resist temptation for long. By this time next week, Dave expects to weigh approximately the same as Jabba the Hutt.

But, Mom, He Followed Me Home

I know it's bad to feed stray animals. However, this cat followed me from my car to the front door of the house in the rain yesterday afternoon, and he looked so sad and lonely. Also, he sounded a little bit like Watson.

Wednesday afternoon guest

I gave him a little turkey and a cup of water -- that's what you see him chowing down in the picture above. You probably would have done the same thing.

Aww, Even The Chinese Are Against Me

It is Open Enrollment Season here at work, which means that we workers are busy weighing our options and trying to figure which company-provided health care plan will best fit our needs and wallets in 2008.

I went to the presentation and Q&A session on health care plans yesterday afternoon. On the shelf near the auditorium door stood the usual array of sodas, waters and salty, fried chips with names ending in -itos.

There was something else, though. There was a container filled with fortune cookies. Not just any kind of fortune cookies -- these were packaged especially for our health care company, Cigna.

Cigna fortune cookies

What the hell would a Cigna fortune cookie say? I made a joke about cracking it open to find a message about prescription drug costs rising. The people around me laughed.

The fortune was much more disappointing and bizarre that I could have imagined. (And the cookie itself was disappointing -- it was stale and had lost its crunch and tasted too lemony.)

The message said: "Many problems can be addressed if detected. Get an annual physical exam. Schedule it the month of your birthday."

What a bummer! Could you imagine getting this fortune after a nice dinner of lo mein and mu shu chicken? I'd call back the waiter and demand another fortune cookie!

As Daily Dave 2.0 regular readers know, I believe that all things that happen can be linked to events in "The Simpsons." My incident with the fortune cookie yesterday reminded me of the episode in which Homer is attracted to a new coworker, Mindy. They are sent to a convention out of town, and have just eaten dinner at a ritzy Chinese restaurant, and Homer is still trying desperately to fight temptation.

Then Homer receives his fortune cookie and cracks it open. He reads it out loud.

Homer: 'You will find happiness with a new love.' Aw, even the Chinese are against me! (He sighs.) What's the point? I can't fight fate.

Immediately, we see the inside of the Chinese restaurant's kitchen, where two workers are standing over two barrels. One barrel is empty; the other is sealed.

Worker 1: Hey, we're out of these "New Love" cookies.

Worker 2: Well, open up the "Stick with your wife" barrel.

It Was Only A Matter Of Time, I Suppose

I have joined Facebook. I don't know why I felt compelled to sign up, except that all the cool kids were doing it.

this is Dave's profile

First impression: Facebook is a lot like MySpace, without the garish color schemes, cartoony graphics and musical interruptions on every page.

You'll note that I've put a picture of me and Ryland in my Facebook profile. I believe that, as a proud uncle, it's my job to show off my nephew as much as possible. He is, after all, the Cutest Baby in the World.

Wednesday, October 24

Ann Coulter And Nana

On Friday, I said that both Ann Coulter and my grandmother were mentioned in synagogue -- which was bizarre, but that there was a perfectly logical explanation.

Here's the perfectly logical explanation:

Ann Coulter discussed during Rabbi Simon's sermon. Nana's name was mentioned a few minutes later because it was her Yahrzeit, or the anniversary of her death.

It was only after I had left shul that it dawned upon me that I would never have expected to hear those two names -- Ann Coulter and Adele Simanoff -- so close to each other. It really wasn't so bizarre, but it seemed kind of weird. My grandmother and Ann Coulter seem to belong to two completely different universes. One belongs to a completely politicized realm that only exists on television, and the other is long dead and only lives in my memory.

Rabbi Simon began his sermon by talking about Ann Coulter's recent appearance on CNBC's "The Big Idea."

That's the talk show on which she told host Donny Deutsch (who happens to be Jewish), "We just want Jews to be perfected... ."

Rabbi Simon lingered on this thought for a while, and said there are plenty of fundamentalists Christians that share Coulter's thought that the entire world should be comprised of people just like them. Similarly, he said, there are fundamentalist Jews who want the world to be made up of fundamentalist Jews, and fundamentalist Muslims who want the world to be made up of fundamentalist Muslims.

How sad it must be for those people who embrace hegemony over diversity, he said.

Rabbi Simon then switched gears and spoke about something I hadn't heard about -- which is surprising, as I work in a newsroom, and I'm usually in the know. He said Gov. Charlie Crist recently put a mezuzzah on his office door in Tallahassee.

Rabbi Simon said the mezuzzah makes him uncomfortable because it blurs the line between church and state. He said that line's not very clear though, because the First Amendment doesn't actually call for a separation between government and religious institutions -- it just forbids the government from establishing its own state religion. Thomas Jefferson interpreted the First Amendment to mean that there should be a wall between church and state, he explained.

So, is Charlie Crist's mezuzzah OK?

At this point, Rabbi Simon paused.

"You may notice that I've yet to make a point," he said.

Why is it so hard to define what's acceptable expression of religious belief and what violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, he asked. Because we still don't have all the answers, and because we as a society will sometimes make bad decisions when it comes to this topic, and move backwards when we should be making progress, he said.

We're a lot like Abraham, Rabbi Simon said.

In this week's Torah portion, Lech L'cha, G-d instructs Abraham to leave home. It's G-d's first test for Abraham, and Abraham passes.

There are many more tests to come, Rabbi Simon said, and Abraham fails some of those. Whenever he fails, he dusts himself off and moves ahead.

The lesson to learn from Abraham is that it's important to keep moving forward even if you've taken a step backward, Rabbi Simon said. That's true if you're a figure in the Torah, or a diverse, multi-ethnic evolving country trying to figure out the role religion plays in government and society.

The other lesson from Abraham?

"Ask the tough questions, even when they don't provide definite answers," Simon said.

Of course, as a world famous reporter who must remain objective, I not going discuss my views publicly about politics, religion and Ann Coulter.

(What, you thought I was going to disagree with my rabbi? He went to rabbinical school, and I can't even remember which Hebrew vowel makes the 'oo' sound and which one makes the 'ow' sound. I think he has a bit more insight into religion than I do.)

Five Days 'Til Five Years

In five days, Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley and I will celebrate our five year anniversary.

As we are not married -- and, in fact, are not allowed to be married -- we decided a long time ago that we would celebrate our anniversary each year on Oct. 29, the day we met.

Awwww, awen't we wuvvy-duvvy womantic?

We'll probably eat dinner in front of the teevee, and then go to sleep early. If this doesn't convince you that gay couples are no different than straight couples, then I don't know what will.

It's A Toothy Hat, But Not Houndstoothy

Complementary Spouse (and lifelong University of Alabama fan) Britt Shirley tries on a Gators hat and, somewhere, Bear Bryant is weeping.

It's a toothy hat, but not houndstoothy

The Barrel Crack'd

Every time I'm eating at Cracker Barrel, I have the exact same thought: I can't believe I'm eating at Cracker Barrel.

I didn't grow up in the South. I have no emotional attachment to Southern food. I don't particularly appreciate the chain's countrified theme, or its schlock-filled stores.

I'm not saying that Cracker Barrel is bad. I'm just saying that if there were a fan club, I wouldn't sign up.

Having written all that, I must confess that every few months or so, Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley and I will be driving somewhere and we'll pass a Cracker Barrel sign and I'll get an inexplicable hankering to eat there.

That's what happened Sunday night as we were returning from babysitting my parents in Jacksonville (my parents were there babysitting my nephew). And that's how we ended up eating dinner at the Cracker Barrel in Altamonte Springs, just northeast of Orlando.

We were seated right away. I had a great view of Bambi's mother's head, glued to the wall:

Welcome to Cracker Barrel. We killed Bambi's mother

It's an eight-point deer, in case you're wondering. I love the gun mounted underneath the deer, by the way. It's a great design touch!

Whenever I go to Cracker Barrel, I always pore over the menu and select something that seems reasonable and tasty. Then, at the last minute, after the server asks me what I want, I notice something that I didn't see before -- and it's always something like "Aunt So-And-So's Down Home Something-Or-Other." The word "smothered" inevitably appears in the description, as does "family recipe."

I'll ask the server if the new thing I just discovered on the menu is any good, and he or she will profess it's the best thing that Cracker Barrel has ever made. I'll order it. I'll be disappointed. I'll wish I had stuck with my original selection, which was something simple like pancakes or a chicken breast.

One of the things that I detest about Cracker Barrel is the peg game that's sitting on the table.

I hate these things

The goal of this thing is to jump the pegs, removing as many as you can. If you're smart, you should be left with just one peg. I am supposed to be smart. However, I seem to end up with more pegs than I start with. I don't even know how that's possible. The game mocks me.

The most shocking thing about this trip to Cracker Barrel was a discovery I made in the country store, which is usually filled with things like ceramic angels, snowglobes depicting rural scenes, candles, country music CDs, John Deere and Coca-Cola collectibles, and the like.

And then, tucked away in a corner of the store, I found this:

Hanukkah stuff ... in Cracker Barrel?

I couldn't believe it. It's two shelves of Hanukkah stuff. I felt I needed to take another picture to prove that these things were actually in Cracker Barrel:

Hanukkah stuff ... in Cracker Barrel?

Of course, I'm disturbed by this. What's next? Cracker Barrel yarmulkes and mezuzzahs? Will they be catering bar and bat mitzvahs?

I wonder how many Cracker Barrel customers actually know what menorahs and dreidels are.

On Monday, I told America's Favorite Food Writer Jeff Houck (host of the incredible Side Salad blog) about our adventures at Cracker Barrel -- and our discovery of Hanukkah stuff in the country store.

Houck surprised me. He said that Roy Yamaguchi, a highly respected chef and founder of Roy's, is a well known Cracker Barrel fan and is partial to the chicken-fried chicken there.

Really? You're kidding. No? Whoa.

Well, I don't know when Britt and I will end up back in Cracker Barrel, but at least I know what to order: the chicken-fried chicken.

Of course, I'll probably end up changing my mind at the last minute when I see Uncle So-And-So's Down Home Whatever on the menu. I'm sad and predictable that way.

The Four Questions Have Returned

After a few days away from the blog, Dave has returned to Four Questions duty:

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is dashing in his brand new Armani tuxedo.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is kind of tired. He expects to be cranky by mid-afternoon.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave has been getting plenty of sleep, but still wakes up feeling tired.

Q. Why is Dave wearing a tuxedo?
A. Dave is hoping he'll have a chance to spontaneously act out the "Puttin' on the Ritz" musical number from "Young Frankenstein" sometime today.

Monday, October 22

A Programming Note

No posts today. I'll have something fresh tomorrow evening.

If you've got a proposal for Question No. 4 of tomorrow's Four Questions, leave a comment.

Sunday, October 21

And The Oscar For World's Cutest Baby Goes To ...


A larger (but not longer) version of "Sunday Morning with Ryland" can be found here.

Incidentally, you're looking at one of the reasons I love owning a Mac. I took all the footage with my MacBook's built-in camera, pieced together the video in about five minutes using iMovie, and had "Sunday Morning with Ryland" up and running on my .Mac gallery page early this morning. I did the whole thing sitting on the couch, hanging out with Britt and my parents and, of course, Ryland. I felt like I was enjoying the moment and preserving a part of it for posterity.

Operation SOUP Is A Success

Britt and I arrived in Jacksonville yesterday around noon, making Operation SOUP (Surprise Our Unsuspecting Parents) a complete success.

Operation Surprise Unsuspecting Parents

My parents are here babysitting my nephew (aka their grandson) Ryland. My father, on a consulting assignment in the UK right now, flew in to help out my mom. What can I say? We're a family of jetsetting.

My parents have babysitting duty because my brother and sister-in-law, Lee and Michon, are in Chattanooga this weekend, attending a wedding. I feel guilty about coming here, staying in their home and spending time with their son when they're not here, but I discussed Operation SOUP with them in advance and they approved of it. They understood that this was the only opportunity Britt and I would have to see Ryland and my father until Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 20

Top Secret

Britt and I embarked on Operation SOUP last night at 2230 hours. We can't give you any mission details, but we are close to achieving our objective.

Of course, we can't reveal our mission plans until the operation is complete. These highly classified photos might provide some clues, though. Warning: these pictures will self-destruct after five seconds.

Operation SOUP: Mission Update Photo 1

Operation SOUP: Mission Update Photo 2

On with the mission. Hooah!

Friday, October 19

Shul Strangeness

You know what's kinda weird? When the rabbi mentions both Ann Coulter and your nana during same shabbat service.

That's what happened earlier this evening.

Oh, there's a perfectly sensible explanation, which I'll write about at some other time. Regardless of the reason, it was just bizarre to hear my late grandmother's name brought up just a few minutes after Coulter's. They are two names I never thought I'd hear mentioned so close to each other -- and certainly not in synagogue.

The Four Questions Are Happy To See You

This morning, Dave will interview an expert on body language and non-verbal communication. To prepare, he offers the following non-verbal edition of the Four Questions:

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave gestures toward his jeans and blue dress shirt. He also make some sort of spastic pantomime gesture at his upper torso, which is his pathetic way of trying to say that he has a blue sports jacket in his car.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave shrugs and smiles at the same time, which really signifies absolutely nothing. He's absolutely terrible at this non-verbal communication stuff, isn't he?

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave rolls his eyes and makes several strange and wholly incomprehensible gesticulations.

Q. What was the point of this whole exercise?
A. Dave sighs. To be honest, he just likes any excuse to use the word gesticulation.

Bistarrobucks

Greetings from the Bizarro World Starbucks.

I have an interview this morning in the West Shore area, so I'm writing this post from the Starbucks at the corner of West Shore and Kennedy boulevards, instead of my usual haunt on South Howard avenue in South Tampa.

What a difference a few miles makes!

At the South Tampa shop, tables are filled. People chat with friends, meet with business partners, sit alone and read the newspaper, or work on their notebook computers. It's a lively place. It hums.

Here, the line seems twice as long -- and the shop is nearly empty. People come in, place their order, linger for a minute or two while their drinks are made, and then bolt out the door. It's a busy but lifeless place.

What's even more bizarre is the number of children I've seen here. Not teenagers, but middle school kids. Their parents pull up in SUVs and wait outside as their children buy frappucinos and lattes. I've never seen anything like it. I didn't know the Hannah Montana crowd was also into caramel macchiatos. With their drinks in hand, these kids tumble back outside to be chauffeured to school by mom or dad.

Thursday, October 18

A Very Special Edition Of The Four Questions

Today, we direct the Four Questions at our friend, reformed sourpuss Doug Stanley.

Q. What is Doug wearing?
A. Doug claims to be wearing "Garanimals for Grownups -- something from the Michael Fechter collection."

Q. How does Doug feel today?
A. Doug writes: "Doug is straight. He does not discuss his feelings."

Q. What are the factors affecting Doug's mood today?
A. Doug: "Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy."

Q. Doug has just been offered tickets to an all-star concert featuring the Counting Crows, Aimee Mann and R.E.M., but he's already got tickets for an all-expenses paid trip to play some of the world's best golf courses. What does he do?
A. Doug: "Alter my itinerary, if necessary, so that I could play the best available courses and attend the concerts. If this could not be accomplished, I would do what all Great Americans do: Blame Fechter."

Cuteness And Brains: A Powerful Combination

As everybody knows, my nephew Ryland is the Cutest Baby in the World. I use capital letters because this is an Established, Quantifiable fact, and not just my opinion.

What we didn't know until just recently is that Ryland is also the Smartest Baby in the World. (Note, once again, the use of capital letters.) He is already competing in local trivia contests, helping out his mom Michon and pop Lee. Look at him, deep in thought, as he tries to remember the name of the second Pope:

Ryland, deep in thought

The answer, Ryland said, was St. Linus. Of course, Ryland can't talk yet, so he has to be doubly smart to convey his answers to his parents. This time, he sucked his thumb and grabbed his blanket, pantomiming the Peanuts character Linus.

My nephew is so cute and so smart that he's already receiving application forms from Mensa and "America's Next Top Model."

Somewhere, We'll Find It: The Rainbow Connection

I've already mentioned (in a previous Four Questions) my thoughts on Radiohead's experiment in music retailing.

Now that I've purchased "In Rainbows," it's probably time to discuss what I think of the music tiself.

I've listened to the "In Rainbows" completely twice, and I've played some individual songs a few additional times. I feel the album was good but that I still need to listen to it some more, because there's something elusive that perhaps I should have heard but I didn't quite get.

You know that feeling when everyone else understands the punchline of a joke and you don’t? I felt a little bit like that. I wonder if there’s an epiphany on the third listen-through, or if "In Rainbows" will always feel over my head.

While the album as a whole felt out of grasp, some of the individual songs were brilliant – the first one, “15 Steps,” is a knock-out. And even if I didn’t grasp the entire album, at least it felt more enjoyable than Thom Yorke’s solo album.

All in all, I’d rather keep listening to Radiohead and feel challenged than listen to Coldplay and feel pandered to. It’s the difference between reading James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code.”

Congratulations To The Blacks!

Mazel tov to my friends Michael and Chandler Black, who are expecting their second child. That's great news.

I've known Michael and Chandler since my family moved to South Florida in 1988. We were all in the same youth group: the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization. (Haganah AZA Chapter 2400 totally rules, and our sister chaper Shoshana BBG kicks ass too!)

Here's a picture that Mike recently sent me. I'm not completely sure about the story behind the photo, but I'm guessing that Mike promised to do something embarrassing if his employees met an important goal.

Here she is: Miss America -- er, Mike Black

I assume that Mike's team missed its goal, as this, to my recollection, is how Mike always looks.

Mike and Chandler live in South Florida, but Mike's heading to Tampa for business soon and I'm eager to catch up with him.

Wednesday, October 17

America Loves The Four Questions

If you're not with the Four Questions, you're against the Four Questions.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is wearing a burgundy polo shirt and tan pants.

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

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave's been in Starbucks, writing and inhaling a lot of caffeine. Here at Starbucks, coffee isn't just in the cups -- it's in the atmosphere. Dave's theory is that little caffeine particulates swirl through the air, get breathed in, and are absorbed into the bloodstream. Just as miners suffer from black lung disease, frequent Starbucks customers can contract brown lung disease.

Q. How does Dave plan to deal with his hyperactivity?
A. Dave thinks a nice Mountain Dew, followed by a Red Bull chaser, will calm him down.

Spam, Delightful Spam

I get a disgusting amount of junk mail at work. If spam were Spam, I could feed the world.

The only redeeming thing about receiving copious amounts of spam is that I get to see lots of ethnologically suspicious names listed in my inbox. I have been keeping a list of most improbable (and, therefore, most amusing) names:

-- Abraham Fernandex
-- Chaim Comfort
-- Yong-King Holyfield
-- Rodolfo F. Griffith
-- Evangelina Clemons
-- Gilberto McBride
-- Jaček Schweizer
-- Colon Flush

That last name could be a person or a product. Who knows?

I have also received at least one message addressed to "Hello Kitty Baby Simanoff." I am assuming that this is a random series of words, and not a sign that the Internet marketing world has learned of my fascination with Hello Kitty.

I receive much less spam in my personal e-mail accounts, but some of the junk messages I get are spectacularly inane. One was titled "We think your house may be Haunted!" Here is the text:

Dave Simanoff

Three houses in your neighborhood have had high amounts of spiritual activity. Our instruments show strange energy radiating directly from your home.

Please dont wait until it is too late!

Click Here to find out if your house is Haunted.


Obviously, I didn't click on the link to find out if my house is haunted. I've seen "Ghostbusters." I don't want Bill Murray to come by, crack jokes, and break Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley's collection of ceramic elephants.

Wait! At the very bottom of this spam, there's long stream of fine print, obviously crafted by a cabal of lawyers, that makes it very clear that the "IsYourHouseHaunted Club Subscription Service" will send you three text messages a week to your cell phone, for which you'll pay $9.99 a month.

Wha-wha-what? These aren't licensed ghost hunters trying to help me rid my house of negative spiritual energy? This is some kind of text messaging racket? I am shocked -- shocked and surprised! These people are giving the legitimate ghost-detection-through-e-mail business a bad reputation.

Today's Memo: Everyone (Especially America's Sweetheart Michael Fechter)

To: Everyone (Especially America's Sweetheart Michael Fechter)
From: Dave
Date: Oct. 17
Subject: Proper spelling

As many of you know, I spent many of my formative years in the United Kingdom. As a result, you'll occasionally find a word spelled the proper English way on my blog and in my e-mail messages.

I'm not apologising.

The English have cared for their language for nearly a thousand years. Americans, it seems, have always sought new ways to muck up English.

I'm American. I've been back in the States long enough to fit in. I know to spell honor without a U, and that words that end in -ise in the UK usually end in -ize in the US.

But what's the proper way to spell all these words?

The answer lies on the other side of the Atlantic.

But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others

On one of the desks in my office, you'll find a University of Florida gator sitting astride another gator, like a cowboy riding a horse:

Gators riding gators?

Every time I walk past these two gators, I'm troubled. Why does one gator think it's okay to ride the other? Why does one gator get to wear clothing, and the other does not? It's like seeing the entire plot "Animal Farm" distilled into two stuffed animals.

I can't help but think of the universe of Disney cartoon characters, in which both Pluto and Goofy are dogs, but Pluto is a pet and Goofy can stand upright and talk. Why is one dog Mickey's pal, and the other Mickey's property? Wouldn't it be degrading for Goofy to walk Pluto? Wouldn't it be infinitely more degrading for Goofy to own Pluto?

The most important thing to recognize in all of this: I should put more waaaaaay thought into my career, and less thought into the rights and imagined slights of stuffed animals and cartoon characters.

Don't Sing About It If You Do Not Have It

On iTunes, a singer named Mya is touting her new single, "My Bra." It appears that the song is designed to raise awareness of breast cancer, or some portion of the proceeds will go toward stopping breast cancer. It's all very noble, don't you think?

I have just one quibble: if you're promoting a song called "My Bra," shouldn't you be wearing a bra?

Mya: "My Bra"

Admittedly, I am not an expert on women's undergarments. I don't have a lot of experience with the things, for all of the obvious reasons. But don't they have straps in the back? Mya doesn't have any straps across her back.

Tuesday, October 16

Today's Memo: Goyim

To: The Goyim
From: Dave
Date: Oct. 16
Subject: Decking the halls

It's waaaaay to early to be beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Really? You're kidding me. It's not even Halloween yet. It's waaaaaay to early to begin looking a lot like Christmas.

You'd never see a dreidel for sale two-and-a-half months before Hanukkah.

More Bad Judgment In Advertising

Oh, you've got to be kidding me. Chevrolet is using Don McLean's "American Pie" in its advertisements? That's not just wrong -- it's so painfully and absolutely inappropriate, it hurts.

Here's the part of the chorus you'll hear in the commercials:

So bye-bye Miss American Pie,
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry.


Here are remaining lines of the chorus, which, for some reason, Chevrolet isn't putting in the ads:

And the good ol' boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing "this will be the day that I die,
This will be the day that I die."


So we've got an upbeat commercial that uses a song that everyone in the world knows. Even if Chevrolet doesn't provide the full lyrics, listeners know the chorus ends not just by referring to death, but by repeating that reference.

Such a wonderful car commercial!

I'm no advertising expert, but I'm pretty sure that just because a song mentions your company's product or service, it doesn't necessarily make it the most appropriate song to place in your commercials. (Incidentally, even if a song doesn't mention your company's product or services, it still might not be a good fit for your products or services. You've got to wonder who paired Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.)

Why Do All These Complete Strangers Want To Be LinkedIn With Me?

Suddenly, it seems that everyone with a LinkedIn account wants to be my friend.

This is very troubling, as there are something like 15 million LinkedIn users. I only have 67 people in my network right now, and I'm not really looking to become one of those users with hundreds and hundreds of LinkedIn connections.

The bizarre coincidence is that I've seen a lot more requests from strangers since Mrs. Cherizon Featheringcobs (whose name rolls off the tongue like the most graceful of poetry) asked me how I handle unwanted LinkedIn requests.

I told Mrs. CF that I always responds politely and tell the requester that I'm only using LinkedIn to keep in touch with people I know well and work with frequently, or to get back in touch with friends from college or colleagues at former jobs. Then I decline the invitation.

Now, I've made some exceptions for people that seem very interesting -- people whose questions and answers in the LinkedIn forums have intrigued me, for example. For the most part, though, I'm shooting down flacks left and right on LinkedIn.

Now I'm getting two or three LinkedIn requests a day from strangers. I'm thinking of typing up some kind of boilerplate denial, so that I don't have to keep writing the same sort of message from scratch.

LinkedIn still seems like a valuable tool for professionals, and I'm going to continue using it. I like looking over my network list and seeing a roster of contacts from college and past jobs. However, this flackery madness must end!

Penelope Trunk's LinkedIn etiquette guide should be required reading for all LinkedIn users. If you're a complete stranger and a flack and you want to be my LinkedIn buddy, you should expect a link to Penelope's blog and a big fat denial in your inbox.

More Than A Press Release

Let's put all the politics and science aside for a moment.

If I ran a company, and a member of my board of directors won a Nobel Prize, I'd want to do more than issue a press release. That's why I was incredibly impressed to see Apple Inc. use its home page -- some of its most valuable marketing and promotional space -- to congratulate Al Gore on the Nobel Peace Prize.

Apple.com home page

Before you start huffing and puffing about global climate change being fraudulent science, remember that I said that this post wasn't about science and politics. It was just about what I would do if I ran a big company. All I'm saying is that Apple's move was very, very cool. Unlike global warming. Oops, no, I didn't say that. That was a typo.

A Birthday Reminder I Didn't Need

Frankly, I didn't need MySpace.com to e-mail me on Friday to remind me that my brother's birthday was on Saturday:

Birthday Reminder

It's been over a year since Michael died, and I keep discovering and rediscovering places on the Internet that still think he's alive.

It's jarring and disconcerting. Maybe in a few years, I'll think it's comforting. This year, I didn't.

But Honestly, Folks, There's Nothing Funny About Engine Leakage

Here in Florida, even our oil stains look like Mickey Mouse:

In Florida, even the oil stains look like Mickey Mouse

You know those people who flock around the world because they think they see images of Elvis in a grilled cheese sandwich, or the Virgin Mary in a tortilla chip? Would they make the pilgrimage for a misshapen Mickey Mouse oil stain in my company's parking garage? And could I sell souvenir T-shirts, keychains and mousepads at ridiculous mark-ups?

After A Very Brief Hiatus, We Return To The Four Questions

Without further interruption, it's the Four Questions:

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is wearing a pink dress shirt, tan pants, and tie with a gold-and-blue geometric pattern.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is feeling rather adventurous.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. All of the comfy chairs at Starbucks were occupied this morning, so Dave's sitting outside, enjoying the sights and sounds of South Howard Avenue. It's a radical change of venue for Dave. So far, most of the sights and sounds involve cars driving past, and people gabbing on their cell phones. There are also a handful of people reading newspapers.

Q. Is Dave enjoying this outdoors adventure?
A. Yes, Dave is very proud of himself for trying new things, and for not being afraid to -- wait, one of the comfy chairs inside just opened up. Dave's gotta run and claim it.

Happy Birthday, Mom

Here's a quick video I made last night:


Please, don't tell the record companies I used a Beatles song as the soundtrack. I don't want Yoko Ono to break my knees with a baseball bat again.

Sunday, October 14

A Programming Note

I'm taking a blogging vacation this weekend. Expect some new posts Monday morning.

Friday, October 12

The Four Questions And The 700 Club

This installment of the Four Questions represents the 700th post on the Daily Dave 2.0.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is wearing a blue dress shirt, a pair of olive green pants, and a blue tie with a stepped geometric pattern. It is a fetching ensemble, inspired both by the runways in Milan and the boardrooms on Wall Street. Or, more accurately, it's a bunch of clothes that were clean and seemed to match.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels it would be great if he could make it through a day of work without (A) drama; (B) surprises; and, (C) construction crews performing their Symphony in C For Jackhammers And Mallets on the floor directly beneath him. Dave also feels he will be greatly let down.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. If Dave seems a little sullen or contemplative today, it's probably because it's his brother's birthday tomorrow. He and Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley would like to do something appropriate to commemorate Mike's birthday, but haven't yet decided what to do.

Q. How did Dave celebrate National Coming Out Day yesterday?
A. What do you think Dave did -- change into a full-length evening gown, climbed on top of his desk at work, and sang "Somewhere over the Rainbow" in a fine falsetto? Of course not. He went about his daily life, knowing that the best way to defeat bigotry and stereotypes is to just be himself. So of course he didn't sing "Somewhere over the Rainbow" in a full-length evening gown! You should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking such a thing! (He sang "Material Girl" in a sequined cocktail dress.)

Wayne Garcia Notices Me!

Wayne Garcia, one of the Tampa Bay area's most prolific and prominent political bloggers, linked to the Daily Dave 2.0 yesterday!

He alerted his readers that the Mac Poseur is back. This is good, because we should all be on the lookout for this Dell-toting wanna-be, and Wayne's Political Whore blog has legions of loyal readers.

I, too, have loyal readers. But certainly not enough to comprise a legion. Not even a squad or a platoon. I suppose I have just enough to form my own A-Team. Perhaps I could talk Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley into being B.A. Baracus.

Thanks for popping in, Wayne. I read the Political Whore daily. I'd love to tell you how much I enjoy it, but I don't want to tick off my corporate masters.

Thursday, October 11

Time To Revise Your Promos, Guys

One of the local TV stations changed their pre-primetime lineup of syndicated sitcoms a few weeks ago, and also introduced a handful of new promos to inform viewers what times these shows are on.

Pity that these promos, which run several times a day, aren't correct. They say that "The Simpsons" airs at 6:30 p.m., followed by "King of Queens." Here's a picture I took with my cellphone:

No, "The Simpsons" is on at 7 p.m.

In fact, "The Simpsons" airs at 7 p.m. I, of course, know this because I'm a diehard "Simpsons" fan and will eagerly park my butt in front of the TV to watch a syndicated episode, even if I've already seen it a dozen times.

"The Simpsons" is preceded, not followed, by "King of Queens."

As I have already mentioned, these promos have been running for several weeks. I'm amazed that no one at the station in question hasn't noticed the mistake yet and corrected the error.

(To answer the obvious question: No, it's not the TV station I appear on. I don't believe this TV station has its own local news broadcast. I assume that's why it broadcasts all these syndicated sitcoms.)

I know this isn't an egregious mistake. I know it's not the sort of thing that leads to a libel suit. Still, every time I see this promo flash on my screen, I think it's embarrassing and sloppy for the station.

Why not just hand out business cards with typos on them?

My New Mon.i.ker

If one of the members of the Black Eyed Peas is allowed to call himself Will.i.am, why shouldn't I start calling myself Si.man.off?

The Mac Poseur Is Back

I'm sitting in Blog Central, a.k.a. Starbucks on South Howard Avenue, and the Mac Poseur has returned. He's the guy who has slapped an Apple sticker over the Dell logo on his notebook computer.

He has defiled a thing of beauty!

I am referring, of course, to the Apple sticker as the thing of beauty.

We're Here. We're Queer. We're The Four Questions.

"... if you removed all the homosexuals and homosexual influence from what is generally regarded as American culture, you would pretty much be left with 'Let's Make a Deal'." -- Fran Lebowitz

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave's wearing a black polo shirt and a pair of tan dress pants. Today is National Coming Out Day, and Dave had intended to wearing something symbolic, like a pink polo shirt. However, Dave doesn't own a pink polo shirt. Dave does own a Human Rights Campaign T-shirt, so he's wearing that under his black polo shirt -- which, yes, he is forced to admit, defeats the purpose of wearing the T-shirt in the first place.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is trying to look at the events of his life as a comedy, not a drama. He wonders if his life could also be a sci-fi story, like Bionic Woman, which is turning out not to be nearly as satisfying as the first episode has promised. The first bionic woman has gone from being an icy, heartless bitch -- and the coolest villain with the greatest one-liners on TV -- to a needy emotional wreck who misses her sister and just wants to be buddy-buddy with the new bionic woman. Of course, Dave is oversimplifying the situation here because he doesn't wish to recap the entire series story in his blog. He suggests you start your own blog if you want to discuss "Bionic Woman" plot minutia.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave apparently watched "Bionic Woman" last night.

Q. Is Dave more concerned with "Bionic Woman" or National Coming Out Day?
A. Dave thinks it would be totally cool if all the gay men and lesbians in the United States suddenly possessed bionic powers.

Wednesday, October 10

Today's Memo: Moot

To: Moot
From: Dave
Date: Oct. 10
Subject: Usage

Yesterday, I heard someone refer to something that was no longer significant as a mute point.

Are you going to take that kind of abuse? Or are going to stand up for yourself? It you let people mistreat you like this, you'll render yourself ... well, you know.

Baby, Where'd You Get Your Four Questions From?

I got my Four Questions from my mama!

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave's wearing a dark red polo shirt and khakis. He wishes he were also wearing a pith helmet, mostly because it's fun to say "pith helmet."

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels smooth, with a big, bold, full-bodied blend of Asian and Pacific flavors accented with rare, aged Indonesian beans. He's a favorite we look forward to this time of year. Wait, no -- that's not Dave. That's Starbucks' Anniversary Blend.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave can't always get what he wants, but if he tries sometimes he finds he can get what he needs.

Q. What's with all the musical references?
A. Dave's all about the music this week! He's very impressed with Radiohead, the massive British band that's bypassing the major labels and selling its latest album directly to people as a digital download through its Web site. Radiohead says fans can set their own price for the album, which is an absolutely fascinating proposition and an amazing experiment in music retailing. Dave paid £5, which is roughly $10. That's much less than people pay for a CD on the High Street in the UK, but it's what US customers pay for an album on iTunes or for a new release at a big box retailer like Best Buy. So, on this side of the Atlantic, Dave is paying the market rate, but on the other side of the pond, Dave is a massive cheapskate.

Tuesday, October 9

Happy Anniversary To The Featheringcobs

Happy 3rd anniversary to Mrs. Cherizon Featheringcobs (whose name rolls off the tongue like the most graceful of poetry) and her husband, Bill.

Here's a photo I shot at the Featheringcobs' wedding three years ago:

Cherie and Bill on the beach

Here's another photo, taken a few seconds later. I'm not sure if I said "say cheese" or "pretend you've just been lobotomized" this time:

Cherie and Bill think I'm not taking a picture, but I am

It's Always Ladies Night At The Four Questions

It's always Happy Hour, too.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave's wearing tan pants and a green polo shirt. It's casual Tuesday.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels like an underdog, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. He has been listening to "The Underdog" by Spoon, which is a rallying cry for underdogs everywhere. Actually, it's more of a warning to those who would underestimate the underdogs. Here's the chorus: "You got no time for the messenger, / Got no regard for the thing that you don't understand, / You got no fear of the underdog, / That's why you will not survive!"

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave knows that, in life, everyone is occasionally a windshield and occasionally a bug. He just wishes he got to be the windshield more often. (Cf. Dire Straits, "The Bug")

Q. So, what should we be listening to -- "The Bug" or "The Underdog"?
A. Dave recommends listening to them both. While you're at it, check out Bruce Springsteen's "Radio Nowhere;" KT Tunstall's "Saving My Face;" and, James Blunt's "1973." They're all at the top of Dave's iPod playlist right now. So is "The Sweet Escape" by Gwen Stefani, but that's kind of embarrassing for Dave to admit, so he's not telling anyone.

Monday, October 8

I Repeat Myself. I Apologize. I Repeat Myself.

Yesterday, I posted an ostensibly hilarious observation about the "Perfect Stranger" DVD that Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley and I saw this weekend in Best Buy.

The idea of comparing a Bruce Willis-Halle Berry thriller to the 1980s sitcom with Uncle Balki and Uncle Larry seemed a little familiar.

This morning, I remembered why. I made a similar (and similarly pathetic) comment when the film came out in theaters.

Le Quattro Domande

When the Four Questions hit your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave's wearing a blue dress shirt, black tie, and tan chinos. His blue sports jacket is in the car. It's another teevee taping day today.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels pretty, oh so pretty; he feels pretty, and witty, and bright. What, you were expecting some other lyric from that song in "West Side Story"?

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave is trying his hardest to ignore the fact that the weekend is five days away.

Q. Has Dave learned anything disturbing about Britt's sister's family?
A. Yes. Dave was informed yesterday that Frau, the family dog (as seen in the recent Denver photos) is a cold-blooded heartless kitten killer. He cornered a poor, defenseless stray that was passing through the back yard -- and strangled it. Bad dachshund! Bad Frau! I am not petting this dog the next time I go to Denver.

A Movie Contest I'm Not Going To Enter

"Into the Wild" is the true story of the worst travel adventure ever. It's about a college graduate (an Emory University college graduate, in fact) who treks off into the wilderness to find himself -- and dies, miserably. He freezes and starves to death in Denali National Park in Alaska.

"Into the Wild" was published over 10 years ago, but it has just been turned into a movie. Lonely Planet, the UK-based company that publishes travel guides, is running a contest to promote the new film. The grand prize is your very own wilderness adventure to a location of your choice. One of the options: Alaska!

If you've just read a book or seen a film about a someone's grisly death in the middle of nowhere in Alaska, wouldn't you want to win a trip to the exact same spot? I know I would! Thanks, smart contest guys!

Into the Wild Lonely Planet contest screenshot

Sunday, October 7

I Always Knew My College Education Would Pay Off Someday

I graduated from Emory University with BAs in English and history -- but who cares? According to the Fox.com Web site, I'm smarter than a fifth grader! I'm tearing down my diploma and nailing this to the wall instead:

I Am Smarter Than A Fifth Grader!

Sample questions: A glossary is a compilation of synonyms and antonyms -- true or false? (Answer: False. The question is describing a thesaurus.) Lake Erie is one of the Great Lakes -- true or false? (Answer: True. Duh.) There were some truly elementary math questions, and one about when Veterans' Day falls on the calendar. The only one that I guessed at was about the Tappan Zee bridge: I knew it was in New York but I wasn't sure which river it crosses. (It's the Hudson. I guessed correctly.)

I'm a little disturbed at the idea that there's a game show that pits ordinary American adults against fifth graders. I'm even more disturbed by the thought that these are the sorts of questions that ordinary American adults aren't able to answer correctly.

Saturday Errands Photo Dump

Here are some delightful photographs I took yesterday when I was out running errands with Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley:

1006071452.jpg
I really don't know what disturbs me most about this film: (A) that every single TV series from the 1980s is being remade into a film; or, (B) that neither Bruce Willis nor Halle Berry have the deft acting skills and comedic timing to portray a role as nuanced and complicated as Cousin Balki Bartokomous.

Cluster PAK!
This logo caught my attention because I thought it said something very different. I was relieved to see it actually says Cluster PAK, and not what I originally thought. You know, P's and F's look similar in script typefaces.

The original?
I love the fact that "The Original" is printed over the product name, as if there were lots of other clam-tomato juice products sitting on the shelves and customers were standing in the aisles, scratching their heads, saying, "I have no friggin' idea which one to buy! If only I knew which one was the original!"

New Hot Tamales Ice?
As seen in the oxymoronic candy aisle

Star: "Britney Hits Rock Bottom"
Dave: "I don't think that's really Britney."
Britt: "Me neither. I think they Photoshopped her and Chris Farley together."

West End Boys And Four Questions Girls

If, when, why, what? How much have you got?

Have you got it, do you get it, if so, how often? And which do you choose, the Four Questions option?

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave's wearing blue shorts, a T-shirt and a pair of flip-flops again. He looks like a million bucks, subject to taxes and adjusted for inflation.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels like a bagel in a world full of croissants.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave is pondering Life's Big Questions: Who are we? Why are we here? What's up with those weird Ketel One magazine ads?

Q. If Dave were to quit his job and become a Mexican wrestler, what would he call himself?
A. Dave would like to be known as El Chupacabra Guapo.

The Unimaginative University of Alabama

Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley is a patient, reasonable, handsome man.

Except when the topic of conversation is University of Alabama football.

Bring up the Crimson Tide or Bear Bryant and Britt can be irrational. He gets defensive. He's clearly uncomfortable with facts and statistics that don't sync with his romanticized notion of the football program and its history.

I don't fault Britt for any of this. He's a dyed-in-the-wool fan and I love him for it.

Yesterday I was reminded of how deeply Britt's Alabama fanaticism can run. We were in his car, listening to the Alabama-Houston game on Sirius radio, and the announcer mentioned something about the University of Alabama's Million Dollar Marching Band.

Why do they call it the Million Dollar Marching Band? I asked Britt.

Britt explained that a sportswriter heard the band playing years ago and wrote that they sounded like a million dollars. The name stuck.

I thought about that for a second. It sounded familiar for some reason. Then I remembered why -- Britt had told me that the University of Alabama's nickname, the Crimson Tide, also came from a sportswriter.

Britt also told me, a long time ago, that the team's mascot, the elephant, originally had nothing to do with the University of Alabama. It was the logo of the Alabama-based company that made luggage for the team's equipment in the early 1900s. Over time, the elephant became associated with the football team too.

If Britt is correct about all these things, it means that the University of Alabama didn't develop its own mascot, or devise its own team and marching band names.

I challenged Britt on this. I said the University of Alabama seemed a little unoriginal. I asked how the University of Alabama got its school colors -- how could Britt be sure that a sportswriter didn't suggest them?

Britt clearly didn't like my questions. He said it didn't matter where the names and mascot came from. He said that the Crimson Tide came from an Alabama sportswriter, which invalidates my point.

Finally, he said: At least Alabama doesn't have THREE team names, like Auburn.

My response: Yeah, maybe -- but I'm sure that Auburn chose all three names for itself.

Saturday, October 6

Baby Pictures (Updated!)

My brother Lee took an unbearably cute picture of Ryland (the Cutest Baby in the World) this morning with his cameraphone and sent it to Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley -- but not to me!

What chutzpah! I sent Lee a text message demanding to know why I hadn't received a picture. Lee said he, in fact, had sent me the picture too.

This can only mean that Ryland is so cute that the Verizon wireless network could not handle transmitting the picture to more than one cellphone at the same time. If Lee had tried to send the picture to three people, the entire telecommunications system in the United States may have collapsed!

(When I thought Lee had forgotten to send me the photo, I was planning to make him feel guilty by telling him I had decided to root for LSU over the University of Florida in tonight's big football game. I reconsidered this plan after about three seconds. Lee would have seen right through me. And the idea of supporting the Tigers made me throw up a little in my mouth.)

I still haven't received my cameraphone picture of Ryland. I imagine it's slowly winding its way through the internets, like an overweighted canister in a pneumatic tube.

Fortunately, I don't have to wait to see the World's Cutest Baby. Lee sends along this video:


UPDATE: The cameraphone picture arrived! Check it out:

Ryland and "Tigers Bleaux" T-shirt

Subterranean Homesick Videos

I've never been a huge Bob Dylan fan.

It's not that I don't like Dylan. I love the bizarrely wonderful song "Subterranean Homesick Blues," especially for the lines "Twenty years of schoolin' / And they put you on the day shift." And I love "Tangled up in Blue," although I think the Indigo Girls' cover injects more heart and more drama into the song.

Beyond that, though, I could take Dylan or leave him. I don't disagree that he's a genius who has made a huge impact on American music. It's just that, like Joni Mitchell, he's an icon that belongs to a generation that preceded mine.

Among the three Simanoff boys, Michael appreciated Dylan the most. After Michael died last year, I had nearly all of his CDs shipped down to Tampa. He owned nine Bob Dylan albums, and one CD of Dylan covers. I'll never get to ask Michael why he liked Dylan so much, but I can always load those albums into my iPod and try to figure it out for myself.

I'm thinking about Dylan these days because he's just released a large box set called, appropriately enough, "Dylan." To promote the set, there's a new Dylan site that makes incredibly cool videos:


Apparently, these customized clips are based on an ancient music video Dylan made for "Subterranean Homesick Blues." Of course, as a member of the MTV generation, it seems to me that Dylan is ripping off INXS's "Mediate" music video:

Brrrrrrrrr -- It's The Fourrrrr Questions

It's still summer in Tampa, but it's approximately -30 degrees inside Starbucks this morning, where Dave is busy answering The Four Questions:

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave's wearing blue shorts, a grey t-shirt from Provincetown, and a pair of flip-flops that show off his beautiful Size 13 feet. He wishes he were wearing flannel-lined jeans, a heavy jacket and one of those crazy hats with the built-in earmuffs.

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

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave is a little ambivalent about the weekend, because once it's over, he has to go back to work. He wishes there were more 3-day weekends.

Q. Why is it so cold in Starbucks this morning?
A. Dave has several theories: (A) It is part of Starbucks' efforts to promote "An Arctic Tale;" (B) the ice maker is broken, so the entire store must be kept this cold so that iced coffees and teas are served at the proper temperature; and, (C) the mostly male staff behind the counter is trying to bring about the scientific phenomena known, in Latin, as othay irlsgay ithway ardhay ipplesnay. If (C) is indeed the correct theory, it's not working, as there aren't any otgay irlsgay here.

Friday, October 5

Downtown Tampa Sightseeing Tour

It's still summer here in Tampa, with uncomfortably high humidity levels and temperatures in the 90s.

We Floridians aren't scared by a little heat and moisture, though. What are we going to do -- drive to a meeting five minutes away? Ha ha ha ha ha!

(Actually, I have done that. Don't tell anyone, OK?)

Here are some pictures I took yesterday afternoon as I walked to an interview in downtown Tampa.

100 N. Tampa
The 100 N. Tampa building

The bird
Looks innocent, doesn't it? Well, Tippi Hedren probably thought the first bird she saw in Bodega Bay looked cute too, and we all know how things turned out there, don't we?

Looking down upon work
From 41 stories up, I look down upon all my coworkers.

Get A Plan!
I saw this bus on my way back to the office. While I think it's great to remind people to prepare for hurricanes, I'm not sure I'd feel entirely comfortable riding on a bus with a huge natural disaster painted on the side.

My Name Is Questions. Four Questions.

"Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?"

"No, Four Questions. I expect you to die."

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave's wearing a blue shirt, blue tie and pair of khakis. His sports jacket is laid out on the back seat of his car. As you may have guessed, he'll be taping some TV this afternoon. Also, tonight he and Complimentary Spouse Britt Shirley plan to go to synagogue to celebrate Simchat Torah.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is mostly blah, with a 40 percent chance of meh later in the afternoon.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave just wants this work week to be over. He's sick of the construction noises.

Q. What is Simchat Torah?
A. Dave is pretty sure it's the holiday where all the Torahs are taken out of the ark and carried around the synagogue. There's usually a lot of singing, and sometimes some dancing. Children participate in the service. It's a fun, festive holiday. Dave believes Simchat Torah, which is essentially a holiday about a book, is one of the ways in which Judaism demonstrates how it celebrates education, knowledge and learning.

Thursday, October 4

Schmuck Of The Day

I saw this truck parked outside Starbucks this morning:

Asshole parking job

This guy (yes, it's an assumption on my part that it's a man, not a woman) figures it's OK to put one-third of his vehicle into the neighboring parking spot. He earns today's Schmuck of the Day award.

Three Two One Blastoff! It's The Four Questions

Gather 'round comrades for yet another installment of The Four Questions.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, Dave is dressed as a silver basketball and wearing several large antennae.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels very satellite-ey.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave just wants to orbit the earth and make beeping noises. He doesn't like being used as a pawn in the Cold War and Space Race.

Q. Is Dave Really So Enthralled About The Fiftieth Anniversary Of Sputnik?
A. Dave could care less about Sputnik. He is 35 years old and was born long after the US and USSR raced to put primitive satellites into orbit. His childhood memories of American space exploration consist of the Shuttle missions and "Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space."

More Ironic Book Juxtapositions

More humor from the Tribune book freebie table:

Peyronie's Disease 1
I'm sure Peyronie's Disease is painful and embarrassing. Next to these two books, it's the set-up for an infantile size joke and a dick joke.

Peyronie's Disease 2
This is some visual humor.

The Fasting Handbook & Joining The Thin Club
Six of one; a half dozen of the other.

Wednesday, October 3

I Want To Be A News Reporter That Interviews Baby Elephants

Mary Sheddon-Dolson-Shedden brought this book to work yesterday:

"I Want to Be a News Reporter" by Carla Greene

I haven't read it yet, but, as far as I'm concerned, this is the best book ever written about the newspaper industry. Why? BECAUSE IT'S GOT ELEPHANTS! And, as everyone knows, elephants make everything better. (Wait, no, not everything. Elephants don't improve politics or circuses -- and let's not even mention the whole ivory thing.)

Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley and I adore elephants. Elephants adorn every room of our house. Britt, a University of Alabama graduate, has been collecting elephant figurines for years. Once I suggested he might stash a few of them in the closet, or toss away the ones that were broken or held no sentimental attraction to him.

"You mean like a cull?" he said.

To this day, I'm still not sure if he was joking.

Britt and I won't travel anywhere without our stuffed elephant, Daal, and our emergency backup elephant, Little Elephant. For several years, I have been taking pictures of Daal in front of world landmarks. There are now 88 photographs in the Traveling Elephant Project, which can be viewed as a series of images, or on a world map.

Britt and I joined Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa right around the time Tamani, the baby elephant, was born. This was not a coincidence.

So, yes, you might say that Britt and I are obsessed with elephants. And when I saw Mary Sheddon-Dolson-Shedden's book yesterday, I had only one thought: When I grow up, I want to be a news reporter that interviews baby elephants.

How do I get that job?

It's WHAM! The WHIRRRR! Four DRILLLLLLL! Questions

If The Four Questions had a hammer, they would hammer in the morning, they would hammer in the morning, they would in the newsroom ...

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. In anticipation of the continuous cacophony of banging, clanging, rumbling and jolts at work today (see this previous post for an explanation), Dave is swathed in bubble wrap and wearing noise-cancelling headphones.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave's stomach feels a little off. He blames the garlic salsa that Britt bought last night. Dave suspects the secret ingredient was rancid cat food.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave does not believe the mild queasiness and periodic low-bass vibrations at work are ingredients for a happy, fun, productive day.

Q. Why must Dave always be a pessimist?
A. Dave replies: "Experience."

Denver Photos Are Now Online

Sunset and scoreboard in Denver

Britt and Dave went 1,500 miles west — and one mile up — to visit the new Denver Art Museum and attend a Rockies-Diamondbacks game. We also spent time with Britt’s sister’s family, and Dave met up with one of Michael’s friends.

Check out the photos here.

Tuesday, October 2

Cutest Baby In The World Update

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 now reached dangerously high levels of cuteness.

Before looking at the latest video and photo of my nephew, you might want to warm up by imagining something much less cute -- like, for example, puppies and kittens frolicking with baby penguins in a field of wildflowers.

Ready?

First, here's a video my brother took. Keep watching, because one of Ryland's little friends makes a cameo appearance:


Second, here's the latest photo of Ryland. What's that on his onesie? Could it be an elephant? Uncle Britt and I are swelling with pride!

Ryland in his elephant onesie

Today's Haiku: Construction

It's very difficult to concentrate at work these days because work crews are replacing all of the sprinkler system pipes on the floor beneath us. (I really don't want to know why the old pipes need to be replaced. Were they made of papier-mâché? No, no, don't tell me -- I don't want to know.)

Apparently, these workers are using jackhammers, F-16s or Metallica's bass player to install the new pipes. Maybe they aren't using any of these things, but they are really, really LOUD.

Yesterday, between the bangs, clangs and rumbles, I composed the following haiku:

It fuckin’ sounds like
A dentist’s drill in the floor.
So damn annoying.

The Four Questions-A-Go-Go

The Four Questions has a first name: it's O-S-C-A-R.

Q. What is Dave wearing?
A. Dave is wearing a blue striped polo shirt and a pair of khakis.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is feeling OK right now, but a little groggy. He had a low-grade headache all day yesterday, and went to bed at a ridiculously early hour last night.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave believes he could use another hour or two in bed, even though he slept like a zombie last night.

Q. Surely, Dave realizes that zombies don't sleep.
A. Dave grudgingly acknowledges that "slept like a zombie" is a stupid metaphor.

Untruth In Advertising

I saw these two advertisements Sunday in Denver International Airport:

"There's only one thing worse than missing your plane. Missing your favorite TV show."

I can only assume that this advertisement was written by assholes. Missing your flight is much, much worse than missing your favorite TV show.

Let's think this through. What do you think would be worse:

A. "Oh no! I don't know if Steve Carell said something inappropriate on 'The Office' tonight!"

B. "Oh no! I won't get to Dallas on time to make the presentation, and my company will lose the Henderson account, and I will be fired, and my family will have to eat ramen noodles and dog food for breakfast!"

(Here's an alternative to B: "Oh no! My company got the Henderson account, and my job is more secure than ever, but now I won't be able to get home tonight to celebrate this major accomplishment with the people I love most in the world: my wife/husband/non-legally-recognized significant other, and our children and/or baby elephants!")

I'm not an expert on advertising, but I'm pretty sure that one of the rules is that you shouldn't insult your potential customers' intelligence.

Here's the second ad:

"As a student, he was no Einstein."

This is just patently wrong. There was no time in Einstein's life when he wasn't an Einstein.