Who Cares Who Watches The Watchmen

Happy Shootin’ DudeI love superhero movies. And I like them dark. I’ve really enjoyed the recent Batman movies starring Christian Bale. So when I saw the trailers for The Watchmen, I was excited. I’ve never read the comic book the movie is based on, and loved the idea of being introduced to a brand new world of brooding, slightly flawed superheroes.

In the recent surge of superhero movies hitting the big screen, it hasn’t been necessary to have any background whatsoever to enjoy these movies. And in fact, the biggest flaws these movies often have is spending too much time on character backgrounds, and not enough time  on the action we crave. It’s a forgivable offense, they’re trying to make sure we’re all on the same page. Even the folks that are a little slow on the uptake.

Spoiler alert. What is written below may ruin the movie for you, or even convince you not to waste your time seeing this deep-dish slice of Suck smothered in a rich sauce of FAIL they call “The Watchmen.” You have been warned.

The character background was my first clue that The Watchmen was going to be a dreadful movie. Early in the movie there’s a montage that serves to give viewers the scoop on where we are in the movie. A moment or two into this scrapbook-y tour of the past I’m thinking, “Cool, it’s gonna be based in the 40′s or 50′s.” But pages keep turning and character quirks start appearing. OK, one of the heroes is a lesbian. That’s unique. Another is has Bruce Wayne riches, OK, that explains how they buy their nifty super-gadgets. The pages keep turning, and characters we’ve only just been introduced start being killed off or institutionalized. What the hell? By the end of the lengthy slide show, I’m more confused than I started. Who the hell is still alive in this show?

When it’s done, the introduction to the current characters is at best incomplete. You’re in for another long introduction to the “heroes” who are still around. They spend their time bitter and moping or wistful about a times past. And to make things even better (and by better, I mean much worse), almost none of them are active in any sort of heroism. Not only that, as characters, they are completely devoid of any of the altrusim and idealism you expect from even the most flawed heroic characters. Well before any real action takes place in the movie (aside from a fight with “The Comedian” early on), I came to the realization that I just don’t care about any of these characters, and hope that they meet the same fate as the Comedian. Sadly, even this wish is not granted.

The only character I came moderately close to liking was Rorschach. He was the only character who actually did anything for the first half of the movie. But soon, even he started to irritate me. His lengthy meandering bitter monologues, made me want to shout at the screen, “Shut the F*ck up already! We get it, you’re disturbed, dark and angry!” Thank god even this was inconsistent, Rorschach’s narratives were like much of the movie, just randomly placed and useless.

Dr. Manhattan, the only character with actual superpowers was completely unable to rescue this flop of a movie. And it’s clear from his long-awaited appearances in the movie that he didn’t much care either. He’d far rather look down his nose at humanity while doing some incredibly cliche hovering meditating on Mars. It’s just a shame he didn’t stay there, it really would not have made a bit of difference if he had.

The final insult was the end of the movie. My wife, who is still bitter that I brought her along, was nearly vomiting at the forced melodrama and complete ridiculousness of the premise. (Her tastes in movies are much more refined than mine, and this blow may send us to marital counseling.) I really didn’t care that many major cities around the world were obliterated. This Watchmen reality sucks, it’s just a shame the whole planet wasn’t blown to bits, ala Star Wars. What annoys me is that Rorschach was obliterated for sticking to his principles and the villain is embraced by the remaining super-zeros in an intelligence-insulting ends-justify-the-means rationalization. My guess is their next super-deed will be to enforce Eugenics and Euthanasia on people older than 50.

My guess is that the people who dropped this steaming, fly-covered pile of film on the public think they’ve authored a dark, complex masterpiece that imparts knowledge and inspires thought. I hate to break it to them, what this is is an adolescent, self-absorbed, meandering monstrosity. The only lesson to take from this nearly three hours of pain is that never hurts to read movie reviews before you part with ten bucks.

So to answer the question posed so many times in the movie by graphiti, who watches the Watchmen? People who have just been ripped off, that’s who. If this review gets to you in time, I’ve done my own bit of heroism in saving you ten bucks.

What do you think? Have you seen this movie? I’m curious if people who were already fans of The Watchmen comic book found it a more enjoyable experience than I did.

Fear And Stupidity In Atlanta

Happy Shootin’ DudeI’m happy to report that Atlanta and I have returned from surprise visit to the 1970′s. On a Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago I stopped in at a local gas station for a routine fill up. This generally unmemorable event immediately became more noteworthy as the tires of my car rolled onto the filling station’s pavement. The air around the car started to twist and writhe like it was filled with gas fumes.  And then there was a bright light. While my vision recovered, I noticed my radio, which had been tuned to a top 40 station was playing “Afternoon Delight”. What the hell?

My vision recovered not a moment too soon. I slammed the brakes and just missed rear-ending a vintage gas guzzler. “Where the hell did that come from?” I said aloud. From the road, I could clearly see that this gas station only had one other car, and it was gassing up at pump on the far side from this entrance.

I took a deep breath and looked around. There were cars everywhere. And not a single one of them from this century. Come to think of it, not a single one of them younger than 20 years old. What is this, a vintage car show? I wondered. Then I noticed the strange looks I was getting, sitting there in my pint-sized 2003 SUV. And stranger than the looks were the people giving them. It was like I was surrounded by extras from Dazed and Confused! Bell bottoms, wide collar expanses, and giant mops of hair were all around me.

Clearly, the last cigar I smoked had something in it besides tobacco, and I was freaking out. My instincts, which I generally trust, said “get the hell out of here, right now.” But as I began to shift my car into reverse, a land yacht of a Cadillac pulled in behind me. Trapped! Screwed! Nothing to do now but go with the slow flow of groovy cars as they wait in line to gas up.

Before long retro folks in their vintage cars lost interest in my SUV and stopped staring. I started to relax when it became clear that they weren’t zombies from a low budget 1970′s horror film and meant me no harm. And as I relaxed, I started to feel boredom coming on. This line wasn’t moving. Waiting for gas sucks. A lot. The radio wasn’t helping. I switched it off when Barry Manilow started singing about writing the songs that make the whole world sing. I didn’t feel like singing, and Mr. Manilow wasn’t gonna force my hand. I grabbed my crackberry to amuse myself with some web browsing while I waited. No service, dammit.

As I dropped my phone on the passenger seat in disgust, I started to smile. I looked around, and sure enough, there wasn’t a singled idiot bellowing into his cellphone. Whenever I’m stuck in line, it seems like there’s always that moron who seems to think that shouting into his mobile will ensure it doesn’t lose signal strength.

Slowly the line creeped forward, and I amused myself with people watching. Man, these people are skinny! I’m used to being about average weight-wise in any group of people, but clearly I’m the fattest guy here. And dear god, the tight polyester, how the hell can these people stand this heat and humidity wearing that crap?

Finally it was my turn. 13 gallons for $7.67. Damn, that almost made it worth waiting 45 minutes and the weird looks.

As I pulled away from the pump, I felt a cold shiver. Oh god, I hope I’m not stuck here. I can’t imagine programming with punch cards! And just then the air outside my car got strange again. Another flash of light. And as I looked in my rear view mirror the old cars and and people were gone. The gas station was again mostly empty. The price sign listed unleaded gas at $3.91 a gallon and my blackberry buzzed to let me know I had a new email about cheap herbal Viagra. I sighed in relief and burned rubber getting the hell out of that gas station.

I think I’m going to start taking the bus.

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg (or vote for it if its already there)!

I! Am! Megatron!

In the vein of all movie previews these days, I find it important to shout each word of my proclamations in the most dramatic, angst-filled, spittle-rattling way possible. Thanks for that 300.

Especially things as ridiculous as this:


I AM
68%
MEGATRON

Take the Transformers Quiz

So go take the test, and come back here and either join me in destroying all Autobots, or to receive a vicious cinematic beating, as appropriate for your test results.

I wonder just how much more Megatron I would be if I had preferred to own oil-rich Iran over an iPhone. I guess I’ll be able to have both once I deal with that pesky Optimus Prime. I’ll have to watch that Transformers movie again to see how it all plays out. I have a good feeling it will work out in my favor this time.

But back on the topic of 300, am I the only one that’s noticed a number of blatant, high profile rip-offs of the iconic “This is Sparta” scream? I’m not talking about the many lolcats (or, uh, lolbritneys) based on the still, or the fantastic photoshop work over at fark (which has disappeared). It’s enough now that it’s a cliche. A really, really bad one. And until I saw the recent trailers for the new movie Doomsday, I thought a dead one. With any luck, a little time in the shame spotlight will prevent this become a full on Hollywood outbreak.

Brian’s Scream-opedia of Rip-Offs
Apologies in advance for longish clips. (Hey, finding better ones would have actually required some effort!)

300: The original manly roar. Don’t try this at home. Please don’t. Please!

Beowulf: Good movie, but painfully obvious rip-off. (Scene of the crime at around 1:29.)

Doomsday: Wow, don’t you guys think you missed the whole scream-a-phrase trend by, what, a year? (Cheap rip-off at 1:26.)

Am I missing any? Do let me know!

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg (or vote for it if its already there)!

The Yellow Dust of Despair Approaches

Happy Shootin’ DudeWith only few short hours to go before almost certain indulgence in green beer, I felt it coming. Coming fast. Like a horse of the apocalypse with a burr under it’s saddle, that wait-a-second-I-feel-funny feeling. Within an hour of that first throat-tickle blossomed into a full fledged head cold. I’m famous for catching a bug on a holiday, but man that was fast. And the holiday wasn’t even a very big one. Thanskgiving? Sure. St. Patrick’s Day? Really?

That first day I wasn’t in a state to question the strangeness of my ailment. I was too busy just fighting the symptoms. And by fighting, I mean I was riding the green waves of Nyquil and talking to myself under the influence of “non drowsy formula” Sudafed. It wasn’t until the clouds of medication broke for a moment that I became aware of what was really going on.

My wife and I were off on an errand. As we drove down one nicely treed road, my wife commented on how pretty the trees were. I returned from green sea for a moment to say comment that they did look really nice. All covered with white flowers. Wait a minute. The trees! The damn trees are flowering!

When we got to our destination I yanked my Crackberry out of it’s holster and punched in the weather channel website. What I saw wasn’t pretty. It looked a little like this:

The Fearful Forcast

I swear I didn’t edit that graphic. Too much.

At this point, you probably don’t know what the big deal is. I didn’t either before I spent a year in the area. This sudden blast of reproductive dust is just the opening act. Looking back through the archives, it was just about this time last year that the yellow blizzard hit us. It coats everything. Lungs, cars, small woodland critters, big woodland critters. You name it. It forms sand bars on the road along the curb and permanently tints all carpeting everywhere. It’s evil. And it results in… more promiscuous trees!

Pollen On Da Hood
Half a day’s accumulation of happy powder on a car’s hood.

It’s a very good time to get out town. But I fear it’s too late! Those damn slutty trees.

(I take no responsibility for this post. I’m outta my head on Sudafed right now.)

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg (or vote for it if its already there)!

Inconvenient Convenience: Signs Your Retail Website Sucks

Happy Shootin’ DudeSomething has been bothering me for a while now. And this morning it came to a profanity-hollering head, which means it’s time for a rant. But first let me ask you a few questions: When you step up to the checkout counter at your local grocery store, do you have to fill out an application to make your purchase? No, just hand over a fistful of green and walk out with your grocery bags. And how about the electronic store? Same story right? Now what about the post office? Do you need to your information on file to buy stamps? No again, right?

So why in the name of Lucifer’s left ass-cheek should you have to create a profile when you make a purchase online? Isn’t shopping online supposed to be a convenience? Isn’t it supposed to be as easier to buy on the internet than in real life?

Let me explain why this incredibly stupid process has me foaming at the mouth this morning. As a great fan of taking care of as many chores as possible on the internet, I decided to go online to print out some postage for some cigars I’m sending to a friend. I know I have an account on the USPS website, so I spend fifteen minutes trying to remember what my user ID and password are. In no time it becomes clear to me that not only do I not remember it, I apparently made a typo when I answered the “secret question” to reset my password.

No matter, I’ll just buy the postage without signing in. No big deal. So I enter a page worth of shipping details and click continue and boom, I’m looking at a login or register page. What the hell? I can’t buy postage without surrendering all my personal details for them to store in their customer database for my convenience? What if I don’t want you to remember my credit card information and address for my convenience? It’s not very convenient to have to enter all my details twice to make a purchase, especially if I almost never use your service!

To add insult to injury, what’s the deal with all the password restrictions? If you require the user to enter a password with 2 uppercase letters, 5 lower case letters, 3 symbols, 2 numbers and a picture of Al Gore in a sombrero, all your securing is the fact that the user will never, ever remember this password. Unless you’re a bank, YOUR WEBSITE IS NOT THAT IMPORTANT. If I want to make my password 1234, which is about as secure as the average person’s ATM PIN, dammit, let me! I’ll even go half way with you on this. If my password isn’t up to snuff, refuse to save my credit card information. Sound fair?

And while I’m on my soap box, let me just mention that if you do make me login to see what’s at the end of link you email me, you damn well better remember where I was going after I sign in. I can’t tell you how much it pisses me off to follow a link, be forced to log in only to be dumped out to the homepage. (Fortunately for things on my desk the USPS website did not do this to me.)

So in summary, let me help all the online retailers out there with a short, simple lists of things to fix to make your user-friendliness to go from crap to cool.

Signs Your Retail Website Sucks

  • You require your customers to create a profile to purchase things you could just as easily buy in a brick and mortar shop.
  • You require your users to create a password more cryptic than the Voynich Manuscript. Unless you’re a bank, a brokerage firm, or traffic in information requiring security clearance. (No, secret recipe barbecue sauce does not qualify!)
  • You make me login to follow a link, and then forget where I was going. You forget me, I forget about your website.
  • The only thing I should ever have to enter more than once is my 25 character password, and only when I create that stupid profile.

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg (or vote for it if its already there)!

The 11th Most Ridiculous Street Name

Silly Atlanta Road Names on Google MapsIt’s been nagging at me for a while now. For weeks it seems that every time I hear a traffic report on the radio it’s there. Sneering at me. Daring me to notice it. Double-dog-daring me to revisit ancient blog history. Well I’m taking the dare.

I’m announcing here that I’ve found the long lost street that deserved a slot of (dis)honor on my original list of the 10 most ridiculous street names in Atlanta. (If you haven’t enjoyed that classic of western literature, you’re missing out on at least three minutes worth of intermittent chuckling.)

This new low in infrastructure monikers is Welcome All Road. What’s comical about this name is not only does it have a nauseating folksy charm to it, it also happens to border one of the most dangerous places in Georgia. None other than the infamous College Park, GA.

To give you an idea, here’s a handy little break down of College Park’s more charming attributes:

Murder: 1.32 the national average.
Forcible Rape: 2.78 the national average.
Robbery: 3.00 the national average.
Aggravated Assault: 2.55 the national average.
All Violent Crime: 2.83 the national average.

And that’s just violent crime, to find out how much more likely you are to have your car jacked or your house burned to the ground, check out this page of stats from a 2003 FBI report. (Note: I’m linking to Google’s cached version of the page, the actual page is down with some errors.) Of course, these figures are probably lower now that I’m no longer working in that area.

This also reminds me of a famously bad quote from an old X-Men video game, which is, and I quote, “WELCOME TO DIE!!!” But I digress. The point is, this is road’s name is not only incredibly ridiculous and heckle-worthy, it’s also ironically inappropriate. Simply delicious. And for this reason, I crown Welcome All Road the new heavy weight champ of poorly named strips of concrete in Atlanta! Take a bow, Welcome All, you’ve won this title without hardly lifting a glove.

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg (or vote for it if its already there)!

On Boot-Licking, Name-Dropping And Success

Tom Presenting Brian Autographed Haint PosterIn a recent cigar review, a reader left a comment oozing scorn that accused me of licking the boots of cigar industry insiders and dropping names. You could just feel the pulsing, jealous ire of said reader, as he commanded me to never again review anything but average cigars that are always available, inexpensively priced and widely smoked. If he couldn’t find it or afford it, I shouldn’t smoke it and write about it.

Wow. All I can say is… Awesome! I’ve gotten the blogging world’s equivalent of hate mail! As you probably are well aware, it’s very easy to write things that people don’t care about and don’t read. It’s slightly more difficult to write things that people will read and find pretty good. But to bring somebody to a twitching, teeth-gnashing rage without discussing obvious things like politics and religion (and sometimes the Great Pumpkin), well that just takes skill! To celebrate, I’m going to light up the rarest, most expensive cigar that a person with a famous name handed to me for free. (I’m having trouble coming up with which cigar that’d be, as I don’t actually mingle all that much with people are well known. I guess that RTDA Stradivarius might do the trick. Mmmm… 34 dollar cigar I didn’t pay for…)

Seriously though, I make a point of finding cigars that are either new, or new to me and reviewing them. And when I can get my hands on a pre-release cigar, even better. One of the great things about the cigar industry is that it’s growing. In fact, I’ve heard that the cigar industry is now at around 80% of its size during the boom of 1990′s. New things are coming out all the time, and from completely new cigar manufacturers. Isn’t it useful to be able to read about these cigars before you buy them? I know I search for cigar reviews all the time before pulling the trigger on a “deal” I come across to make sure it’s actually a deal. Also, how are you going to find out about new cigars out there if nobody ever reviews anything new or unusual? Just because you can’t find a cigar right now, doesn’t mean it won’t be in every store in a month or two! And just because a cigar is out of your price range doesn’t mean it’s out of everyone’s price range. (You aren’t everyone, no matter how big your waist size gets!)

As to the name dropping aspect of the tirade, I find that even more surprising. The thing I like the most about the cigar industry (well, after the cigars, that is), is that it’s full of unpretentious, friendly, down-to-earth people, that are very accessible. I mean, how the hell else would I have met so many of them? The heads of cigar companies come to herfs and cigar promotions to meet their customers and talk about their cigars. They mingle, they shake hands, they walk, they talk, they breath… Oh my god, I think they’re people just like you and me! And they’re not behind bullet-proof glass, or surrounded by secret service! If you’re reading this, and you haven’t met a cigar “celebrity” (if that word even applies), I recommend checking out the event calendar at your local brick and mortar. (Or check out this list on Cigar Cylopedia.) They will be there, will you?

So in summary, I’ve met at least a dozen famous cigar people, including such names as Kinky Friedman, Jose Oliva, Lito Gomez, Carlos Torano and Tim Ozgener, by going to cigar events. (I’ve never yet had a cigar celeb travel anywhere just to meet me.) I have a bunch of cigars that I didn’t have to pay for, but will spend hours of my own time to smoke and document for your reference for no reimbursement whatsoever. Please leave your hate mail in the comments below.

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg (or vote for it if its already there)!

Weekend Realizations

Brian's Random Thoughts: No nutritional value, but tasty!Though I do my very best to avoid it, I found my self thinking this weekend. My wife hadn’t realized I had a free moment to myself, and my mind wandered. And these are the random things that came to mind.

Advertising is sucking the meaning out of our words. I came to this realization as I watched a ridiculous feel-good commercial for some boring product or business. The lyrics to the background music featured the phrase “just another ordinary day miracle“. I’m sorry, but weren’t “miracles” supposed to be rare, amazing occurrences that were difficult, if not impossible to explain using rational or scientific means? I’m sorry, your underdog hockey team winning a prestigious game is not a miracle. It’s just unlikely. And it’s probably the plot for fifty unimaginative sports movies.

I’m seeing this in the cigar world too. At one point, a “premium” cigar would have been a top dollar, high quality cigar, full of rare and well-aged tobacco. Now almost any cigar that’s made by hand with long filler claims the word. So what is a really great cigar to do to distinguish itself in the “premium” forest? The only thing that can be done is to stack up increasingly meaningless words. Hence the new labels “super-premium” and “ultra premium”. If I ever come out with a cigar line, I’m gonna slap “hot-fucking-damn premium cigar” on the label, and outline the words with fire. And since I can’t count on any of those words conveying the desired meaning, I’ll also have a Navy Seal fist-fighting a dragon in front of a massive explosion on the cigar band. (Anybody see the move Idiocracy? I’m totally thinking about it right now.)

If pot is a “gateway drug”, the Nintendo Wii is a gateway activity. Suckered in by the lower price tag and fake scarcity of the Wii, I finally took the plunge and bought one. Holy crap, I love it. It’s the first new game console I’ve purchased in years. And I do mean years. The last brand new console I purchased was a Super Nintendo! I feel a review coming on. But that will have to wait until I’ve given it a good workout. (Or vice versa.)

But it’s dangerous. After a weekend of playing tennis and fishing I’m reminded of when I actually did these things. For real. Outside. And I kinda want to do them again. Its scary to think that around the country there might be chubby, pasty white guys remembering what it was like to be physically active. And emerging from their basements to fish, play baseball and tennis! It been like a zombie movie, only with more mountain dew. That can’t be good for video game sales.

The tasks my wife has for me multiply to fit the my available hours. As I’ve been scaling my weekly work hours down to something that doesn’t make me want to light myself on fire and leap from a freeway overpass, my wife is ramping up the random tasks she expects me to get done. They’re multiplying like guppies unattended. (Or attended. I don’t think presence of an audience makes a difference.) It’s simply not possible to accomplish even half of them, but when I start working on one, she gets excited. She gets a look in her like she’s won an expenses-paid shopping spree. So while I’m trying to complete one task, she’ll rattle off fifteen more that I really must remember to do.

Sound irritating? It is. But the good news is that even she can’t remember all the random chores she comes up with in the heat of the moment. (It really is like blood in the water for a shark.) To maintain sanity, I try to forget them all. The ones I can’t forget are probably the ones that really need doing. Or the ones my wife keeps bringing up. So yeah, the ones that really need doing. I find a similar approach often works in the office. (Use at your own risk.)

It’s been a week since I put up a post. It’s also been a week since I started this post. I really need to get adjusted to the new schedule. This new job is so absorbing that it’s easy to work longer than normal hours. And the convenience of working from home just magnifies that. That’s the danger of working from home: Because you can work anytime, you may just start working all the time!

OK, I’ve got some cigars to smoke, and some reviews to write. And it I think I hear the footsteps of my wife coming heading this way…

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg (or vote for it if its already there)!

Boycott Bullshit: No Cigars Means No Smoking!

Happy Shootin’ DudeThe sometimes loved, sometimes loathed angry, irritable Brian returns today to discuss an issue that’s bothered him for a while now: Bullshit smoking policies. In particular, a policy that both wastes your time and insults you with surprising efficiency.

As I’m beginning this post, I’m on my third attempt at getting lunch. The previous two establishments I’ve tried failed a very simple test and have officially been added to Brian’s Bullshit Boycott list. That’s right, I sick of this ridiculous crap, and I’m not gonna sit idly by and let the anti-cigar bigots continue to operate in ignorance under the radar.

Who’s on the list and how did they get there, you ask? I’ll tell you. And I’m naming names and pulling no punches. I’ve spotted bullshit and and I’m calling the bullshitters out on it. They got on my list by failing a simple two question test.

Brian’s Bullshit Detector Test

Question 1: Do you allow smoking?

If they answer no, they pass the test. I support a business’s right to go the non-smoking route. To be honest, there are places I just don’t want to smoke a cigar or smell second hand smoke. (I know, I know, that’s sacrilege. A crime almost worthy excommunication from the world of premium tobacco. I’ll do my “Hail Don Pepin” penance later.) For some reason, a sushi bar comes to mind here. (You thought I was gonna fail ‘em if they said no, huh?)

If the answer is yes, then the follow up question is asked.

Question 2: Do you allow cigar smoking?

If the answer is yes, then they’ve not only passed the test, they’ve probably just been added to my unofficial list of favorite places. However, if the answer here is no, you’ve just detected bullshit.

OK, so you’ve detected something foul in the state of Denmark, now what? Do you walk away? Do you quietly sit down and abide by the rules? Do you kick the unwitting test-taker in the Jimmy? No. (And please don’t assault the wait staff, they don’t make the rules, they only follow them.) Here’s what you do.

How to deal with a bullshit peddler

Step 1: Educate.
Because they’re not yet sure if you’re a customer yet, you have a captive audience. Tell them that cigars are made of exactly the same thing as cigarettes. In fact, it’s made of fewer things. And cigar tobacco has been aged to reduce the amount of nicotine and other chemicals naturally present in the leaves! (Cigarettes, on the other hand have been processed to increase the amount of nicotine, and contain additives to improve their burn.) Cigars both smell better and release fewer chemicals into the air, making them arguably less of a health hazard. You might be surprised, they might actually agree with you, even though they can do nothing about the policy.

Step 2: Announce your intentions.
Tell them simply, “If you don’t allow cigars, you don’t allow smoking. I cannot support an establishment with such biased and hypocritical policies. I’m taking my business elsewhere. Please pass this along to the management.” Bonus points if you take the time to fill out a comment/complaint form. Doing this makes it more likely that management will actually get your feedback. Kudos to you if you take the time to do it!

Step 3: Leave.
When it comes to the world of commerce, few things speak louder than money. If you continue to patronize a shop with ridiculous and discriminatory smoking polices, you are supporting those policies.

And the Crusader Step: Revisit And Repeat
This step is for true Knights of the Premium Leaf. Brothers of the leaf that want to go above and beyond the call of duty can return to the same establishment in three to six months and repeat the process. You never know, they might change their policies to reflect the feedback they’ve received from cigar smokers, and you might find a new cigar-friendly establishment. If you do, give them your business, and tell them why you’re there! Otherwise, you have the opportunity to strike another blow for cigars and cigar smokers in your community.

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a war in progress. And I’m not talking about Iraq. I’m talking about the war on cigars. This might sound like a tremendous hassle, but if we want to continue to exercise our right to smoke cigars, it’s time we all adjust our dangling man-orbs and make our feelings known the way they’ll be most appreciated. With our wallets. It’s the most powerful weapon we have. (And if you haven’t done it recently, why not head over to the RTDA website and tell your congressman to knock it off with the excessive and punishing cigar tax increase?)

Oh yes, and I said I’d name names. These establishments are the first on the newly created Brian’s Bullshit Boycott list:

  • Taco Mac at Lindberg (Most of them have a stict no-smoking policy, which is fine, but this one allows cigarettes, but no cigars! Bullshit!)
  • Everybody’s Pizza in Virginia Highlands
  • Highland Tap in Virginia Highlands

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg (or vote for it if its already there)!

Jury Duty: Pauly Shore Not Included

Happy Shootin’ DudeIf my wife was less organized, there might have been a warrant out for my arrest today. On Monday I was sitting in the office doing the things I do for money and my phone rang. It was my wife with some bad news. “Hey, you have jury duty, remember? You need to call this number after 5:00 PM for instructions,” she said and gave me the number. This seriously couldn’t come at the worst time. I’m juggling two jobs, two blogs and trying to beat a business paperwork deadline at the same time. And I think I might be coming down with a cold. And that’s really gonna make my next cigar review difficult.

Crap. Not only do I not have time to watch a bitter couple slug it out in divorce proceedings or listen to a irresponsible booze hound trying to weasel out of a DUI, I don’t have time to do anything about it. So I was told at the juror check in desk. If I had been on top of things, I could have written in for a deferment.

So I spent the morning weighing my options. I’m not 70 or older and I didn’t bring a wig and a walker with me. Looking around, I don’t see any walkers or people wearing gray wigs, so that’s out. I’m not pregnant, and as much fun as that’d be to fake, I’m not committed enough to shave the goatee to pull it off. No kids either, though don’t people make up kids all the time for tax purposes? I wonder how they do that. (That might come in handy now and then again at tax time. Fake kids: the gift that keeps on giving.) OK, short of pleading with the judge, should I get selected as a juror, I’m stuck here in the jury pool stable, crossing my fingers, and waiting on the roll of some mysterious computerized dice.

At that point, the question became, can I get the entire room to participate in a highly coreographed song and dance routine? Looking around I figured my odds were fifty-fifty. I might make it as far as croud surfing while singing the chorus of Cuban Pete before an angry group of potential jurors give me the beating they’ve wanted to give Pauly Shore for well over a decade. The “chick-chicky boom” would be the sounds of peoples sensible shoes digging into my ribs at high velocity. The odds were better than even that I’d deserve it for that.

So that pretty much left me blogging on my crackberry, feeling irritable and drinking coffee. Speaking of irritability and coffee, I have one big beef with this jury duty thing. I had to pay for coffee while I was there. We’re not talking about fifty cents here, we’re talking Starbucks rates. A buck fifty for a cup of dark water? Gas station quality at best, and none of the froo-froo additives? C’mon! The least you can do is provide us with some caffeine so we can stay awake for all this nonsense. Newsflash, some of us don’t function well at 8 AM without some joe. (For me it’s a lot like being in a different time zone.)

If your going to deprive us of our ability to earn our living for the day, you can at least set up a coffee pot in that huge room I like to call the “juror stable”. Am I really asking too much? Don’t you just hate it when you help someone out and are forced to pay expenses that arise from the effort? “Thanks for showing up! Coffee? Yes, we have some I can sell you!” It’s kind of like asking your friends to come over to help you move, and then when everybody’s worn out and hungry from moving your crap all day, you sell them pizza and beer. With a steep mark-up.

And while we’re discussing things that irritate Brian, here’s another pet peeve. We were informed that we’re not allowed to make or receive phone calls in the juror stable. That means that the ringers should be turned off. And if that weren’t completely obvious, they told us that they should be. No excuses. Of course within 30 seconds of the announcement several phones rang back-to-back at full volume. Within ten minutes the lady behind me answered the phone to say “I can’t talk right now” and proceeded have a short conversation anyway. People, if you really can’t talk, press the damn button that sends the call to voicemail. Don’t answer it, because that means you can talk. It’s not a crime to let a call go to voicemail! You’re paying for it, use it. People will understand! This sort of brainlessness isn’t limited to the action-packed world of jury selection, I’ve seen (well, heard) the same brilliance in meetings and in movie theaters. Is it too late to implement an IQ test as part of the requirements of getting a cellphone?

And for the love of God, when a phone rings, do something about it. Either answer it or send it to voicemail. Please, please do something to make that obnoxious noise go away. Don’t just sit there staring at the phone, trying to puzzling out where it’s coming from (“Hmm… Is the 541 area code Tuscaloosa? That reminds me I should call Bob…”) while the ringer blares Barbie Girl. Worse still, do not dance to that ringtone you foolishly paid four bucks to download. We don’t want to hear it, we don’t want to see you jam, make it go away, or we’ll make the phone go away. I won’t tell you where, but I can promise you’ll spend a lot more time standing in the future.

Let me tell you, the end of the day could not come soon enough. The good news is that by 3 PM, my civic duty had been fulfilled, and I walked out of the court house a free man, with a slight case of caffeine withdrawal, a headache and cigar in my teeth. But I was happy. I paid good money for this unexpected afternoon of freedom. It cost me eight hours of pay. But I was off the grid, and I was going to make the most of it.

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg (or vote for it if its already there)!

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.