Thursday, July 25, 2013

Writing for the Struggle Bus



A few years ago, back when I was giving stand-up comedy my first spin, there was a website called The Struggle Bus.com, run by fellow comedians Eric Prae and Jenn Belso. The website was a chronicle of adventures and funny situations and was even featured in the local newspaper. Unfortunately, it has since been shut down and sucked up by another business venture. Because I like publishing my work, I am posting the one article I did for them here so it can be read and cherished by future generations.

Greetings. I am Jordi Scrubbings. Like Eric, Jenn, and the dog, I am a writer/comic in Tampa. I also like to call myself a “creative genius”, but to be honest that’s a bit of lie – I failed the child genius test by one point. But if it worked for Wile E. Coyote, I’m making it work for me.

Anyway, you may know me from other ventures such as my website, www.theserioustip.com, my appearances on Deadspin.com and other sports sites, or my tweet venture, TheManInc, a log of everything The Man is doing to hold people down. I’m all over the place, and now I am here.

I have weird ideas. Like I once thought that the movie Men in Black was made to desensitize the general population to the evils of the real-life Men in Black, you know, those government agents who made people disappear. I also used to think Joe DiMaggio killed John F. Kennedy because JFK slept with Marilyn Monroe. Then I also thought that my GI Joes and Transformers came alive when I went to sleep and protected me from evil spirits and nightmares. But I don’t think those things anymore.

I’m grown up now. Or so they tell me.

These days I find myself hanging out various places around Tampa. Of course, I’m at the Improv, I’m at sporting events – I’ve been a Rays season ticket holder the last few years, I go to a lot of concerts, and when I am not doing any of those things, I’m checking out the modern spectacle that is professional wrestling.  Little known fact: I made a cameo on this site a few months ago. Yup, that was me in the big afro wig in Jenn’s wrestling write-up. But Jenn loves me now and I love her too. She was just disappointed that a guy with that big of an afro could have a little penis. What can I say? I came up short, just like in the child genius test.

But I will be writing here once a week or so. Maybe I’ll write about sports and sunshine, maybe it will be about beer or barbeque, or maybe I’ll be penning a sonnet to my dear Reese Witherspoon.

By the way, should I find it weird that she has a kid born on my birthday? I think getting into a relationship with a girl with a kid would be challenging enough, but having to share my birthday with that kid would make it even tougher. My birthday should be my day, the day she spoils me. But if it’s her kid’s birthday too, then we have to do the party thing with the balloons, the cake, and the pin the tail on the donkey. And then not only will the kid get all the presents, but at the end of the night, after everything is cleaned up and all the rugrats have gone home, Reese would probably be too tired to give me some birthday lovin’.

And that’s a total dealbreaker.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Charlie Brown: The Last Lovable Loser

The economy is in the crapper.

People fight and kill over religion.

Gas prices are high.

You still can't pee on the Alamo.

But at least you're not Charlie Brown.



You know, sometimes I think the fact that Charlie Brown was such a lovable loser was good for society back in the day. There aren't any new lovable losers anymore. There are characters that keep failing and make a show of it or ones that act out to fight their oppressors - they would have fought Lucy or punched her in the nose. But they don't have the grace of Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown isn't a bad guy, he is just a guy who didn't win.

And no one gave him a trophy just for showing up, either. He went home empty handed.

Then he tried again.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Victor Licata, Trayvon Martin, and Marijuana



Few people have a favorite ax murder. Devouring details of people hacked to death is usually the territory of criminologists or psychopaths.

Yet ever since I learned the epic ax murder that changed the face of public opinion on marijuana occurred in Tampa’s Ybor City, I have been enamored with the case of Victor Licata.

To summarize, on the night of October 17, 1933, someone killed five members of the Licata family with an ax. According to police reports, blood was everywhere. From author Paul Guzzo’s article in a 2011 issue of Cigar City Magazine:
“On the bed in the front room they found Michael Licata lying in a welter of blood, killed with one swing of an axe. In the adjoining bedroom they found the bodies of the family’s 22-year-old soon-to-be-married daughter, Prudence, and her 8-year-old brother, Jose, both hacked to death. In the rear bedroom they found the murdered mother, 44-year-old Rosalie. On the bed beside her lay her 14-year-old son, Philip, alive but suffering from numerous axe wounds. And lying on the floor next to the bed was the murder weapon–a blood-stained axe.”
Reports continue by stating the police found 21-year old Victor Licata, the sole Licata family member still alive, cowering in his room with blood stains on his shirt.

Sounds like an open and closed case, right?
Not so fast.

Victor Licata’s supposed use of marijuana (he was labeled the “Marihuana Maniac”) was a key part of the prosecution. The fact that marijuana was associated with the murder made the drug public enemy number one, leading to the “Reefer Madness” phenomenon.

It also led to many pro-marijuana advocates to re-examine the Licata case. A few writers even believe Licata was innocent. That's what makes the case so interesting.

Many of their points, for example, are on the site “The Reefer Madness Museum”.
  • There was a serial Axe murderer operating in the Tampa area at the time

  • That the Licata family was NOT the only Tampa family cut down by an Axe murderer.

  • That one of the other families slain by the serial Axe murderer was the Rowell Family - same last name as the author of "On the Trail of Marihuana, the Weed of Madness”

  • That Victor Licata (to his dying day) denied that he has ever used Marihuana and that there was never a scratch of evidence to even suggest that he ever had?

  • That at least one of the major players (the Detective chief who had accused Victor Licata of having committed the murders) has been caught (documented) lying about the matter?

  • That much of the (alleged) evidence against Victor Licata was fabricated and so fake it wouldn’t have stood the light of day in a courtroom?

  • That many of the senior people within the Tampa judicial justice system knew the truth – and choose (for whatever reason), to deliberately keep quiet?
Also adding to the dispute is Victor Licata’s size. According to reports, he was only 5’8 and 120 lbs. Not a big man by any means. Could marijuana have made a skinny young strong enough to move furniture and wield an ax with such brutality?

It is now pretty much popular consensus that marijuana did not play a huge role in the Licata family murders. Medical reports indicate Victor Licata had several other mental problems, and wasn’t exactly fit for society. And back in the day, Tampa wasn't exactly a paradise of proper legal process. So there may just be room for debate.

As it is my "favorite" ax murder, the other day I mentioned the Licata case on twitter to Tampa Bay Times writer Ben Montgomery. Montgomery has been tweeting about the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin trial since it started and was discussing Martin’s supposed use of marijuana and what role if any the drug might have played in the incident that led to Martin’s death.

Based on our discussion, Montgomery used the Licata case as a topic for his own article comparing it to the Zimmerman case. Definitely worth the read. Check it out:

At Zimmerman trial, marijuana testimony echoes famous Tampa killings

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More thoughts on Natural Rhythm



A little over three years ago, I wrote a blog post on string theory and natural rhythm. I read a few articles and theorized that there is much we don't know about the natural rhythms of life and of our brain and how the whole thing is linked together. I always thought it was one of the smartest things I have ever written.

Over the past few months, I have collected two more articles (both from Wired.com) on the brain and music. In the first, Human Brain is Wired for Harmony, writer Elizabeth Norton discusses recent scientific conclusions that have helped take the first steps in learning why our brain does not like dissonant noises but prefers smoother consonant sounds.
In a musical chord, for example, several notes combine to produce a sound wave containing all of the individual frequencies of each tone. Specifically, the wave contains the base, or “fundamental,” frequency for each note plus multiples of that frequency known as harmonics. Upon reaching the ear, these frequencies are carried by the auditory nerve to the brain. If the chord is harmonic, or “consonant,” the notes are spaced neatly enough so that the individual fibers of the auditory nerve carry specific frequencies to the brain. By perceiving both the parts and the harmonious whole, the brain responds to what scientists call harmonicity.

In a dissonant chord, however, some of the notes and their harmonics are so close together that two notes will stimulate the same set of auditory nerve fibers. This clash gives the sound a rough quality known as beating, in which the almost-equal frequencies interfere to create a warbling sound. Most researchers thought that phenomenon accounted for the unpleasantness of a dissonance.
In another article, writer David Dobbs of Wired.com discusses the music he uses as inspiration to write to. In the article, he links to another post on the Public Library of Science website where several other prominent authors list their own musical muses. Both are fascinating articles that list a lot of classical pieces, such as Bach. While most writers choose the instrumental route (Miles Davis was a common pick), very few seemed to go towards the modern rock or indie route. And there was no heavy metal or dissonant music at all.

Perhaps that says something about what type of music best fits and is able to stimulate the writing part of the brain.

Personally, it depends. If I am writing in the middle of the day, I might try something faster to get a rhythm going - to include death metal, preferably something with unintelligible lyrics. But if I am writing at night and I want the brain to calm down and get into a deep analytical thought process, I will lean towards the aforementioned Miles Davis or perhaps Buckethead's Colma, Electric Tears, or Electric Sea albums.