Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ms. BananaHammer Goes to Bradenton

(Part I)

I bitched, but secretly, I was looking forward to jury duty Monday. (Yeah, I don’t have a lot going on right now.) I looked forward to it last time, whenever that was—last year or so? But that time they released us all with nary a juror selected.

But here’s the thing: I stayed up waaaay too late on Sunday night. 6:30 a.m. Monday was not good. Not good at all.

First thing I did when I got to the big juror holding pen was make a B-line for the soda machine. And then I promptly, accidentally bought a Cherry Coke Zero.


Man, that was not a good start. I chugged it anyway and just barely managed not to hockey-burp myself into contempt of court.

“Juror No. 257?”


“Ok, yeah, you’re going to jail.”

Various judges and juror-corrallers use a mic to talk to the room, explain stuff, give instructions, swear us all in, etc. I swear to god, every time someone finished speaking and went to hand the mic off, I had to stop myself from applauding. Weird how strong that impulse is.

But my heart warmed, because I am a cheesy bastard: I like seeing so many different people who came only to perform their civic duty—a beautiful cross-section of humanity, brought together simply to serve the idealistic essence of our judicial system. I’m always so cynical about people’s motivations; it’s neat how everyone here is entrusted with a responsibility to be considerate, thoughtful and honest in analyzing information and working together to come to a consensus. And just by entrusting people with that great responsibility, they embrace it.

And then they wait. And cough. In addition to a model of human service, the juror corral is a TB petri dish.

Around 11, they called my name among a group that was scheduled to see the judge at 1. So I ventured forth for food.

I wasn’t particularly hungry; my stomach was full of Cherry Coke Abomination and pretzels. But I knew I needed to eat, because fainting in a courtroom is not on my bucket list. After a quick stroll up and down Main Street, I decided a hot dog seemed like the most tempting option.

Oh, god, people. The hot dog. Oh god.

Now, I figure a hot dog vendor outside a courthouse is a safe bet. I don’t know why; just seems like if you’re going to set up in such a pedestrian-heavy area, you’re going to be held to high standards.

Oh. God.

From my notes for the day.

From my notes for the day.

First of all, when I walked up and asked for a hot dog, the first thing the old man did was open a little drawer in his cart to deposit his nub of a still-lit cigarette. Homeboy had a built-in ash-tray. He asked what I wanted on it; I suddenly realized I had no idea what to expect of a hot dog cart.

“Onions?” I asked.

I got a onion sauce that’ll knock yer socks off.” He sounded like Billy Crystal in The Princess Bride.

The hot dog? Was grey. The sauce? Was orange.

He sent me away with, “You never had a hot dog like that before, I bet.” It…kind of sounded like a threat.

I was already getting queasy, but I took an obligatory bite as I turned away—because apparently I don’t want to offend creepy people.

I cannot describe to you the texture. There was no texture. It was so soft as to be almost nonexistent. The bun was more toothsome.

You do not want your hot dog to dissolve on contact.

Oh. God.

I did not take another bite.

I walked all the way around the courthouse in search of a trash can somewhere far away from people—because I didn’t want to be seen throwing out a whole hot dog. Apparently that’s embarrassing. I have no idea why my brain sucks like that.

At the far side of the building, I found a trash can…and then looked up to see Council’s. Right there. No idea it was so close. Council’s has one of the best hamburgers in Southwest Florida, y’all. I’m not even lying. And I’d just opted for a hot dog that rendered me hungerless for the foreseeable future. That sucked.

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What’s the Story?

Writing about writing, the last resort of the desperately
blocked writer.
–Oh Yes, I Just Quoted Myself

No help from Elfman this time.

I’m trying to pick a topic, a theme, for a blog post, and failing miserably. Of all the things that happen, what’s to be a story and what’s to float by unacknowledged? What’s my “about” today?

I could write about Friday, a glorious evening in which, thanks to an early morning hockey engagement, I’d given myself permission to accomplish nothing—just a six-hour wander from couch to porch to couch again, playing Wii, watching TV, reading. A familiar story about the glories of the little things.

I could also write about how, and not for the first time, I spent parts of the weekend listening to Randy Newman’s “God’s Song” on a loop, savoring the bluesy melody and spiritually sadistic, hopeless lyrics. That’s an analysis of art, lyrics and music—not my strong suit, but that hasn’t stopped me in the past.

I could yet again revisit the satisfaction of a hockey day like Saturday, with the fun of the sport and the even-more-fun of the social time. But I’ve told that story a lot, and while the experience doesn’t get old, the topic has, and I should probably leave it alone until I find something new to say about it.

I could write about the beauty of a cold, sunshiny day at the polo match Sunday—or about how such a beautiful day got its pall from a horse dying on the field. A weighty story, to be sure, but not one I want to linger on.

I could write about the random phone call I got at work just now regarding a former associate’s upcoming court date for all manner of craziness. Like, “guns and death threats and handcuffs” kind of craziness. But I’m not sure I can tell that story anonymously enough, and I don’t want to be interfering in current court proceedings (or implicated in future ones).

beer face

Nothing new to write about, but folks like Lefty and Progeny always help make for fun after-hockey times.

I could write about how dealing with writing all day makes you overanalyze other people’s casual words in ways they themselves couldn’t possibly have intended. Literary interpretation is a poor substitute for social skills. That’s a story of self-discovery.

I could write about motherfucking meteorites. I could write about what I’m going to have for dinner.

This is the kind of thinking editor-types and others have to do at work all the time (except at work I’m not allowed to do a cheap cop-out like this). It gets to be a habit, scooping stories out of thin air. Not just the topic itself, but the scope and mood of it. This is what I get all John Nash neuroses-as-schizophrenia from: What details do you pick out from the slice-of-life, stream-of-consciousness chaos of your daily experiences that can be assembled into an orderly description of circumstances united by a theme?

A lot of times, stuff jumps out at you. Sometimes, you have to look into more philosophical matters. Or there’s times like today, where I’m sure I’ve come across a story or two that are suitable, but my radar’s down; everything’s going by at the same volume.

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10 Short Letters from Me



Dear Mr. Ford Explorer on Gulf Drive,

Thank you for not hitting me as I rode my bike back from Publix. In return, I offer you this observation: I should not be able to smell your cologne outside of your car.


The Bicyclist with a Bourbon Bottle Sticking Out of Her Backpack




Dear friends,

I’ve decided I shall throw a party in celebration of the completion of the puzzle I’m working on. No need to worry about disturbing the vacationneighbors; it’s going to be fucking June before I get this shit done.


Until then,

Sad, Sad Puzzle Lady






Dear Alex Trebek and the peacocks,


SHUT. UP. You pompous, preening, stupidly vocal bird-brains. ARGH.




Person Who Shouts at Animals and the TV



P.S. If you run in front of my car again, I’m not braking. For any of you.







Seriously. SIX WEEKS.






To the Angry German pedestrian on St. Armands:

To answer your question, although it seems it should have been apparent, no, I am not going to stop for you. First and foremost, you were not near enough to the road warrant stopping; had I glided right through, you would not have had to break stride, as I would have been past the crosswalk already. Secondly, I regret that I had to stop on the crosswalk in your presence, but you see, I’d just gotten cut off by a motherfucking horse-drawn carriage that did not yield appropriately. I thought you might have noticed that, being a horse’s ass yourself.

Still, I was in the process of offering you a conciliatory wave when you threw your arms up in the air and began expressing your assholeishness in a vocal manner. This, and not any innate character flaw on my part, is why I told you to fuck off.



Auf wiedersehen,

Frau F-Bomb



P.S. Way to stand in the middle of the road and yell at me like a crazy old fart as I drove off. I hope that horse shit on you.






Dear IRS,

I know we’ve had our differences, but…I love you. It’s not about the money.

Except, well, actually, it is, yeah. But that doesn’t make my love any less real.



Thanks for the refund,

Broke lady






Oh CJ,

Honey. No. Stop licking the floor.







Dear Awesome People Behind the Counters of Various Downtown Sarasota Businesses (You Know Who You Are),

You are awesome. Everybody thinks so. We talk about it all the time. You greet us so warmly—many of you even remember our names—offer us the best service, make small talk without being cheesy about it. You even forgive us when we come up short, or say things like “Just get us next time” when we try to pay for a $1 soda with a credit card.

You are a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. And on sunshiny days? Forget about it. We appreciate ya.

Keep being awesome,

Hammer and friends






To the current vacationneighbors:

Please do not be alarmed that I listened to the Lawrence Wright Scientology interview on NPR and then immediately listened to it again on the interwebs. I simply appreciate public radio. Do not report this, or you will be declared a Potential Trouble Source.

Ta-ta for now,

Operating Thetan




Hey, Lady at the Gym,

The stairmill is less effective if you prop yourself up on the handrail so your legs aren’t bearing any weight. Why not get some parallel bars and stay home? Just sayin’.



The Sweatmonster Next to You



P.S. I know it’s a locker room, but…just…stop being naked.



Dear orchid,

Please don’t die. I don’t know what you want. Open up to me.  I’ve tried being there for you. I’ve tried giving you your space. Nothing makes you happy. Believe me when I tell you that you’re a very special flower. Please. Let’s work on this together.


Your Confused Life Partner

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Strange Soundtrack

[Yes, apparently I’m on an S-alliterative title kick. No, I’m not going to change it.]

Wanna change your perspective on a weird, annoying, unproductive Monday morning? Take a long walk over the bridge in the beautiful, 68-degree weather—nothing but clear blue skies, a light breeze…and the Beetlejuice main title music playing in a loop on your iPod.

Seriously, that assigned a whole new outlook on the day. Looking at the world through Burton-colored glasses. I have a feeling the smile I wore would best be described as “disconcerting.” At least, I hope so.

I haven’t had a good soundtrack moment like that in a while, where the music makes you feel like you’re strutting along as the main character in your own movie. And Beetlejuice. I mean, this is not your typical action hero story or dramatic feature. This is exciting and weird: the dark, bouncing tuba and the swirling strings and clarinet, and the manic, suddenly storming trumpets. Danny Elfman’s music is a major part of the Tim Burton signature style: dark, wry and melodramatic, as well as self-deprecating, funny and sweet.

Much like myself.

…or so I enjoyed thinking as I marched over the bridge, tight-lipped smirk, inflating the world’s standard, suburban abnormalities into charming, grotesque cartoonishness: the blubbery runner; the old man on the recumbent tricycle; the gaggle of sinewy gargoyles pushing jogging strollers.

Like the movie’s weird dirt-moving machine clawing at the lawn as the Deetzes begin their renovations, or when the swirling dust from the guys sanding the wall turns into an eerie fog when Lydia first climbs the stairs to the attic.


All the office stuff turns, too, from everyday plod to quirky and creepy. The IT issues and medical revelations aren’t the standard and boring things that happen every day in every office everywhere; they’re indicators of darker, weirder things at work. Everything is funhouse mirrored.

A coworker just ordered a singing telegram for her husband. I desperately want it to involve a Harry Belafonte song.

I like things that shade your outlook like that—assign you a perspective instead of looking at the world from every possible angle with no rhyme or reason or restriction (which, by the way, is my brain’s favorite pastime). I tend to go all John Nash trying to solve the world like a math equation—like in A Beautiful Mind, when he’s looking at newspapers and documents trying to string together different clues, but they’re really just schitzophrenic impulses that have no larger meaning. It’s nice to let something else take charge, to quell that impulse to try to fit pieces together endlessly and simplify the world into a single, recognizable shade:

This is what the world looks like. This is my movie.

And it’s fucking weird.

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