Friday, December 26, 2008

Possible Blogging Topics.

I am giving serious consideration to posting another entry on this blog in the near future. I haven't yet decided what I will blog about though. Here are some possibilities:
* The weather has been fairly unpleasant lately here in Cleveland.
* Christmastime has arrived and the New Year is on its way.
* We will soon have a new President of the United States.
* The NFL season is winding down and the Cleveland Browns are not quite as good as I'd hoped.
* I recently had a birthday and am therefore another year older.
* The economy is going through some bad times.
* I was recently chased through the streets of Prague by a gang of desperate, knife-wielding crossword puzzle enthusiasts and only managed to save myself by climbing down an open manhole whereupon I came upon a hidden civilization of mole people hidden deep under the ancient sewer system of Prague. These people treated me at first with suspicion, but later came to see me as a kind of deity. I lived with them for a few weeks, but grew tired of their constant sycophancy and the fact that pears are the mainstay of their diet. I hate pears. So one night I sneaked out of their hidden city, having left a thank you note, and returned to civilization.
* Air travel is not what it used to be.
* Some people put up their Christmas decorations early, and some people take theirs down the minute Christmas is over.
* I really hate getting up in the morning.
* How about those gas prices?
* Every Christmas it seems that I eat quite a bit of food.

These are all possibilities for blogging, as they are all quite interesting topics. I will in the coming weeks narrow down the possibilities and announce my choice. In the meantime, keep watching Fishbrick. And happy New Year.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The UbiquitousTip Jar

I recall a time when it was common practice that certain service workers would receive tips from grateful customers to augment their low wages. Thus, waiters and baggage handlers, cab drivers, shoe shiners and others have become dependent upon and expectant of the tips proffered by their patrons. Ideally the amount of the tip has been commensurate with the quality of service received. With most of these types of jobs this tipping has been going on for decades, if not centuries. It is tradition. I have no problem with that. However, times have changed. Now we have something known as the "tip jar." This jar is placed on the counter next to the cash registers of ten million newly deserving service workers. Now the kid who hands you the mustard packet or rings up your purchase of breath mints is eligible for a tip. Why? Because there is a jar in front of him that has the word "tips"scrawled on it. I don't like this. What makes the ice cream scoopist or the latte pourista suddenly worthy of the tip where once they were not? Somebody just decides to place a "tip jar" in front of them one day and we must now tip them? No matter what they do?

It's not that I'm cheap (I am), it's just that it seems to me that this is not an organic process here. This is not a tradition forming by the common practice of grateful customers. No, it's a contrived, forced, coerced practice foisted on us by copycats who see a good thing and want a part of it. "They're asking for tips at the Starbuckles across the street, so I'm going to put a tip jar here at my locksmithery." And lo and behold, our locksmith makes a key, and the well-trained customer, seeing the tip jar on the counter, gives him a dollar. Voila, a fake custom is born.

Now, I have nothing against a happy customer giving the locksmith a tip, but I am against the locksmith having a jar there, silently badgering his hapless customers into giving him extra money. If this customer wanted to give the locksmith extra money, he can simply say, "keep the change." That's a real tip. That's how the customer expresses his gratitude at a job well done. Being guilted into throwing money into big fat "tip jar" is not the way to do it. And I happen to know that the workers put seed money into the jar to make it look like everybody else is leaving tips for them, so we will feel obliged to leave ours.

It seems to me that if all one has to do to receive tips is to place a one of these jars in front of himself, then we will start seeing tip jars in places heretofore undreamed of. For instance, I can imagine tip jars being placed in doctors' offices, or in front of bank tellers; held out by umpires at home plate; hanging from cockpit doors; a black-beribboned jar on top of the casket at the funeral home; a jar on the desk of the IRS agent auditing you. Why not have a tip jar for every person you come in contact with throughout the day? Then, when Mildred in Accounting hands you the Hoopnagel file, you put a buck in her tip jar. Of course, you would have your own jar, so maybe you would come out ahead in the end.

But why not forestall this kind of insanity ever coming into vogue by stopping this proliferation of tip jars now, while there is still time. I think next time I come across one of these jars, I am going reach into the jar and grab a few bucks as a reward for taking the trouble to patronize the establishment. That way, the service person won't have to say thank you after taking my order.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Trivia Time

Due to uncountable requests from avid readers of this blog, I have decided to revisit something dear to my heart, namely, trivia. My last post concerning little-known historical facts was a huge hit with the public, even causing some people to swoon. In fact, one of these swooning people has filed a lawsuit against Fishbrick and Google to recover damages. That, however will not deter me. I think that trivia is too important to keep hidden from the populace, even from those who are swoon-prone. So, without further delay, I give you Trivia.

-In 1856 Sir Benjamin Fullbright became the first person in history to choke to death on a doorknob.
- 1950's Democratic presidential contender Adlai Stevenson was a competitive eater, setting records in both the cow's brain and stick butter categories.
- MGM head Louie B. Mayer wore the same suit every day for 28 years. He didn't change it until 1955, after he accidentally dribbled some ketchup on his lapel.
- The planet Saturn had no rings before 1988.
- If you drink molten lava fast enough, it won't hurt you.
- Ringo Starr's real name is Ringo Malph.
- World War II general Omar Bradley was one of the original Three Stooges, but his allergy to pie caused him to leave show business in the early 1930s, just before the Stooges hit the big time.
- Canada's original flag was not a maple leaf, but was a goat juggling tennis balls.
- In the early years, due to a typographical error in the by-laws, Alcoholics Anonymous served booze at their meetings.
- A 1990 study at Yale found that people who live in glass houses are twice as likely to throw stones as those who live in wood or brick houses.
- The population of Bavaria skyrocketed in the 1790s due to a turnip blight there.
- William Shakespeare had three rows of teeth.
- Humphrey Bogart was not the original choice of Warner Brothers to play Rick in 'Casablanca.' The studio wanted Shemp Howard originally, but he declined their repeated entreaties and recommended Bogart for the part.
- From 1939 to 1946 Eleanor Roosevelt provided the voice for Elmer Fudd.
- Charles Darwin lived in mortal terror of having chewing gum get stuck in his beard.
- Contrary to popular belief, George Washington wore powdered teeth and a wooden wig.
- The Kentucky Derby started out as a race with just jockeys running against one another. The horses weren't added until the early 1900s.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Run-on Sentence

If ever you go against your better judgment, against your publicly stated resolution, against your solemn vow to yourself never to be caught dead or alive at any time or for any reason either inside or near a KFC; and doing so, order a new chicken wrap combo, knowing that this particular combo contains nutrients insufficient to sustain human life; knowing that the fat and sugar in this meal will surely add unsightly fat to your body; knowing that you will be disappointed with this meal even upon taking your first bite; and especially, knowing that KFC tends to produce inside your digestive system strange and unpleasant effects; and you wolf down this unholy mess anyhow, and thus find that, a full day later, you are still suffering from one of the worst cases of heartburn you have ever had, then simply take a teaspoon of vinegar and you will find sweet relief.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Gift to You

Okay, folks, here's another post. I might as well blog while I'm in the mood, because I might not sit here a-bloggin agin fer a month a Sundays. So here goes.

Recently, I helped to write a letter for a friend of mine attempting to get out of a speeding ticket she got in small town Virginia. I had no hope that the judge there would listen to her plea or do anything at all for her to reduce the punishment. I was wrong, however. And though the judge did not waive the penalty, he did reduce the amount she owed by about one third. I had no idea that the judicial system in Virginia could be so swayed by my soaring prose. If I had known that mere words could influence the bench, I would have sent a nice letter to Judge Carroll in Lakewood for my own recent traffic incident. But I digress. I have decided that, as a token of appreciation to those loyal Fishbrick readers who so enthusiastically supported my recent extended sabbatical from the blog, I am going to provide a sample letter to use in case they receive speeding citations of their own. Just fill in the appropriate blanks and utilize the proper pronouns (if applicable.)

Dear Judge,

Recently, as I had the great good fortune to find myself driving through _________ I was stropped by a member of your crack police department who apparently was between naps. I was doing nothing wrong; transgressing no laws, but he/she/it felt compelled to pull me over anyway. This despite the important business I had waiting for me outside of your "fair city." Not that I would never have any business inside your town, but it's just that I don't personally have any dealings with the methamphetamine industry.
Now I don't blame Officer _______ for stopping me. He/she was just doing his/her job in seeing to the safe operation of the town's lucrative speed trap. I'm sure he/she would rather have stayed in the patrol car eating his KFC/donuts/Fruit Rollups, but a quota is a quota, and somebody has to pay the courthouse salaries. When he/she waddled over to my car, I explained with the utmost tact and respect that I had done no wrong and in fact was driving below the posted limit. But I think the long walk from the patrol car to my car irritated his/her otherwise good nature, and the result was that my entreaties fell on deaf ears. (By the way, I have never seen a human being sweat as much as the good Officer _______ did after walking that 15 yards. )
I realize that Officer ______ may not have been allowed to change my ticket on the spot, or that he/she may not have understood every word I said, some of them being over two syllables long. Thus, Your Honor, I turn to you with my plea and ask you to do what you must know in your heart of hearts to be the just thing. And that, sir/madame, is to waive punishment for this non-offense, and let your act of justice shine forth as a beacon to corrupt local officials the world over. Let this be the beginning of a new day of tolerance and understanding, peace and harmony, love and good sportsmanship. And please know, too, that by doing the right thing, you thereby increase the chances of my once again driving through the town of ______ , but this time with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. Who knows, I may even stop at that filthy diner off the highway and use the restroom. If I see you, I will shake your hand.


Blogging Under Duress

Well, it's that time of the year again. Time to post to my blog. At least according to Laura, who is forcing me to do this or she will withhold a large amount of money conditionally pledged to a jog-a-thon I was in (see video here). Personally, I think it is too soon for another post, but it's out of my hands. Ironically, the last time I posted was when the Cleveland Cavaliers lost their home opener back in October. An inauspicious beginning, that. However, they turned their foundering ship around, improved their performance, made some big trades and got into the playoffs against all expectations. And then, finally, they reverted back to their normal state and lost to the Celtics in the second round of the playoffs, after dragging us through an excruciating seven game series.

Oh, well, things are better here in Cleveland than they were for many years, at least sportswise, so I will be content for now with my teams achieving upper-level mediocrity. The next Cleveland team to put us through the wringer on the way to losing the big game will be the Indians. I've learned, though, to endure the disappointment. After all, I am an Ohio State fan, and they have lost three championship games in two years. That is good practice for fans of Cleveland's pro teams. Wow, this blogging thing is fun. I think I'll do another one.