As we meandered through [tag]Tampa[/tag] Friday we heard on the radio that we were arriving just in time for [tag]FetishCon[/tag]. (May not be work-safe, don’t know: the site wouldn’t load for me so here’s the MSNBC coverage instead).

We didn’t stop in Tampa.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that all of my underwear was stolen the day after the convention ended.

To keep the Florida/monkey/old classmates linkage going, here’s [tag]Rick Dakan[/tag]’s [tag]monkey[/tag] collection

(my blackberry has been my only internet access since a lightening storm apparently cooked the cable – regular posting will resume shortly, although it sounds like our housesitters may be staying forever – I always suspected they only loved us for our tivo…and of course our dogs, but how can you not love those big lugs?)

Cocktail hour. Watching a Friends rerun with Mom (Chandler and Joey get a chicken). Remembering how boring Friends got. Remembering my scrawled notes from our flight down, which I decipher for you now, because it’s better than watching television and dinner isn’t ready:

“I don’t hate many people. 2. Maybe 3. But I can tell, by the end of this flight, that I am going to hate Chandler. Chandler is sitting directly behind me. Chandler has to go potty. Chandler needs a tissue. Chandler needs to kick the back of my chair. Chandler needs his ipod. Chandler needs a tissue.

To which I would add: Chandler needs to chill the fuck out because we haven’t even pushed back from the gate yet.

Then I put my notebook away because my agitated scribbling was worrying the woman next to me, so the rest is vague reconstruction of the flight.

To be fair, I didn’t start out hating Chandler. I felt bad for the kid. I knew all of these things about him (knees to me vertebrae notwithstanding) because the woman he was travelling with made pronouncements about his welfare non-stop. I was willing to cut Chandler some slack. Until, that is, I turned around to give him The Death Stare for the kicking and realized that Chandler wasn’t a child. And he was reading the Wall Street Journal, so I doubt he was mentally incapacitated.

Chandler was a pussy-whipped, Dockers-wearing Yuppie.

That’s when I started to feel the hate.

This all went on a bit longer and then: Death Stare #2.

The second Death Stare was the charm and he seemed to develop a touch of self-awareness about where he was placing his knees. At least for 20 minutes.

The woman even lowered her voice, although that may have been coincidental. Soon I realized to my horror that we were seated in front of Chandlers Sr and Jr. And Jr was merely unconscious.

Somewhere over North Carolina, I decided I might not actually have to kill the Chandlers. I would instead pity the Chandlers, I decided somewhere over North Carolina. The fate of Mother of Chandler Jr/Wife of Chandler Sr was still on the table. But the Chandlers, they would be spared, I decided somewhere over North Carolina. Somewhere over North Carolina was also when the second valium kicked in.

Somewhere over South Carolina, Chandler Jr revived, there was a seat rodeo and Chandler, Jr ended up seated behind me.

That little bastard had on cleats, there’s no other explanation for how one human could be that annoying kicking the back of a seat.

On the upside, the prodigious amounts of gobby mucous issuing from his nose ended up in the hair of the woman next to me. She was travelling with a toddler so I figured she didn’t care. Woman with Chandlers didn’t seem to care, which perplexed me a bit, because it wasn’t like he did it once and stopped. Or that he sneezed quietly. It was a profound quantity of phlegm. It glimmered like gossamer in the woman’s frosted blonde updo (that may have also been the valium talking).

Despite the snotting and the horking and the smearing, Woman With Chandlers never stopped nagging. I’ve never heard anything like it.

Somewhere over Northern Florida I believe I was possessed by the disembodied spirit of a trucker. A steady stream of silent obscenities thrummed through my brain.

I wasn’t sure how much longer I was going to be able to keep from turning around and disemboweling one or all of them.

That’s when we hit massive turbulence of the kind that makes people shut up and make peace with their god. I love that kind of turbulence. It gets nice and quiet on the plane. People seem to be largely incapable of praying and pissing me off at the same time, and I’m good with that.

The New York Times just ran a short piece on the impact of non-native species on the Florida environment, and the $100 billion dollar a year impact of non-native species on the U.S. economy as a whole.

“A Movable Beast: Asian Pythons Thrive in Florida.”

Opening a packed freezer in a park laboratory, Mr. Snow sifted dated plastic bags containing fur, feathers, bones and other vestiges of recent python prey.

“We’ve found everything, from very small mammals — native cotton mice, native cotton rats, rabbits, squirrels, possums, raccoons, even a bobcat, most recently the hooves of a deer,” Mr. Snow said. “Wading birds and water birds, pied-billed grebes, coots, egrets, limpkins and at least one big alligator.”

The South Asian snakes, which can top 200 pounds and 20 feet, probably entered the park as discards or escapees from the bustling global trade in exotic pets. Year-old, footlong pythons are a popular $70 item at reptile fairs and on the Web but in a few years can reach room-spanning, cat-munching size, prompting some owners to abandon them by the roadside. That practice may not pose an ecological problem in Detroit, Mr. Snow said, but in a near-tropical Florida park, it is an unfolding nightmare.

[read the rest of the article]

On a tangent (here? never!) – I’m familiar with the list of non-native species of concern in Florida, but this is the first time I’ve noticed that the Nile Monitor is not only on the list, but has been breeding for ten years. I’m creeped out by monitors, you’d think I’d have noticed that before.

Last night I was sitting barefoot and in shorts on the front patio, looking out over the endless vista of cowpasture while drinking a nice cocktail. This after the usual lovely late-night swim. This morning however, there were the tranquilizers and the pre-flight complimentary cocktails and next thing I knew I was waking up in Baltimore.

Now I’m wearing too damned many clothes and there’s this slippery white stuff all over the ground and a lovely walk and latenight swim are most assuredly not on the agenda.

Damn. How’d this happen? I clearly migrated north too early.

Last week, as you well know, I was down in la florida. Life is so strange there that it’s normal, if you know what I mean.

I laughed hysterically when I saw that Inverness was planning a month-long “Cooter Festival” but then didn’t even bother to mention it here because I figured it wasn’t that interesting. I figured I was just getting in touch with my inner Beavis and Butthead the first day I saw a poster advertising the festival (now I wish I’d stolen one of the posters).

Consequently, when I saw last night’s Daily Show, I laughed til I couldn’t breath. I actually thought I was going to pass out. I’m both relieved that other people find it funny and disturbed that I passed so quickly into acceptance when I saw the ads for the festival in the first place. You can take the floridian out of florida, I guess, but there’s apparently no cure for our particular brand of madness.

The press in Florida still doesn’t seem to get why it’s so damned funny:

‘Daily Show’ crew gets crack at city

By Mike Wright
For three guys used to dealing with the media, this was something quite unusual.

A city manager, a newspaper editor and a government critic all were put on the spot Wednesday by a crew from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” a news program that tends to poke fun at small-town life.

The crew was in Inverness for a story about the Cooter Festival or, more accurately, the strange controversy that has erupted regarding the festival’s name.

City Manager Frank DiGiovanni said the festival, which debuts in October, was named after a small turtle common to small lakes such as Cooter Pond.

Greg Hamilton, editorial page editor for the St. Petersburg Times’ Citrus edition, wrote a column last month that noted the “cooter” also is a slang word that refers to the female anatomy.

[read the rest of the article]

I just refuse to believe that the reporter who wrote this piece – or anyone else – thinks this is funny just because the Daily Show likes to “poke fun at small-town life.” People, people, people. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel, making fun of this festival. I don’t think Ed Helms had to go far out of his way to make the whole thing look silly.

I think Inverness is just bitter because Allendale, South Carolina already owns the domain name for Cooterfest.com.

Here’s a recent phone conversation with my mom:

Mom: How are you?
Me: Fine. You?
Mom: Fine.
Me: What did you do today?
Mom: Not much. Beat a snake to death with a shovel.
Me: Where was it?
Mom: In the living room.