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, 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,, my appearances on 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 18, 2013

My latest for the Tampa Bay Times and other music links

Getting back into the groove in regards to writing regularly again. As I write more, I meet more interesting people who have great stories I can write about. It's a great cycle to be in.

My latest article is on a veteran of the Tampa hip-hop scene, an MC named Paradox. Formerly known as Spike La Rock, Paradox is attempting to unify Tampa's hip-hop under the Zulu Nation banner. He has been around hip-hop since the early days in New York City and it was great spending time with him and hearing his story and his future plans.

Tampa rapper aiming to launch Zulu Nation chapter - Tampa Bay Times, 18 July 2013

Now a few music items I didn't write:

1) Sad news: Bluesman T-Model Ford passed away this week. Although not as well known as bluesmen with more lengthy and distinguished careers, T-Model Ford was a Mississippi Delta blues performer whose sound echoed that of the Robert Johnson, Son House, and other blues legends. I saw T-Model Ford play an acoustic set in Clarksdale, Mississippi in what remains as one of the best music trips I have ever taken. He was a great performer and a great musician.

2) Disturbing news: Varg Vikernes, former leadman of the Norwegian Black Metal band Burzum, was arrested in France this week for "plotting a massacre". One, I didn't know Vikernes was a free man - he was found guilty of murdering a fellow musician, Mayhem guitarist Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth. According to the almighty Wikipedia, he was released in 2009. Second, who let Vikernes correspond with the guy in Norway who killed 77 people and blamed it on hip hop and video games? According to reports, that correspondence led French authorities to arrest him and his wife when Mrs. Vikernes (he is married?) bought four rifles.

(Update: Vikernes and his wife were released due to lack of evidence. Makes sense, as correspondence with a homicidal extremist, writing racist blogs, and arming yourself does not actually make you a threat. But I am sure the French authorities will continue to monitor him.)

3) On the subject of anti-authority, albeit far less violent, Rebel Frequencies wrote an interesting piece on Woody Guthrie, American protest folk singer. Although best known for singing "This Land Is Our Land", Guthrie was a staunch anti-capitalist. (This was written back in October, but I just found it among my bookmarks. Still worth the read.)

4) In other Tampa Bay-based news, sports injury writer Will Carroll wrote a blog post dissecting the mechanics of singer Carly Rae Jepsen's ill attempt at a first pitch during last week's Tampa Bay Rays game. Very interesting as Carroll breaks down Jepsen's body motion and figures out exactly where she went horribly wrong.

5) Last, but not least, here is a page where you can download Tampa MC and hip-hop writer Slick Worthington's latest album. Support local music. Maybe I should write about him soon.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Thoughts on Writing by a Writer

One of my most favorite blogs is 20-Nothings, a blog by now-LA based writer Jessie Rosen. Jessie and I probably have as little in common as two people could. She is a female under 30 living in Los Angeles who is giving the writing career an honest to goodness try and I am an over-30 guy on the East Coast who moonlights as a writer on occasion. But it is her honesty and rawness that makes me really like her blog.

Did I mention Jessie is also a writer?

As a writer, she often writes about writing, which is not that unusual for writers to do. Back in December, she wrote a great piece on what happens when writers don't feel like writing. She compares it to going to the gym - sure one day off won't kill you, but if you want that six pack abs or that below 10% body fat, you better suck up your laziness and get to the gym.
The creative process is about as easily explained as it is understood, but at its core, it is just another form of work. There are days when you'd rather procrastinate with absolutely anything rather than sit down to write the pages you need to write. I have re-organized my closet in ROYGBIV order; experimented with varying degrees of a smokey eye, thank you!; and assigned myself to a personal Quick Fire Challenge: vegetarian chili, contents of your cupboard, 20 minutes, go!

"But you're a writer!" you yell at yourself, "writers write!"

That is true, but that doesn't mean that we don't hate it from time to time. I know that I can write - I've done it countless times before - but that doesn't mean there aren't still days where I wake up gravely fearing the blank white page, days when I am certain I have no idea what I'm doing.


Kinda reminds me of the hook from rapper Skyzoo's song "The Rage of Romello":

The rage of Roemello
My name tryna echo
Staring so long I swear the page saying hello
I'm hearing these songs but tryna change up the metro
It feel like he'ron the way I'm straining wit the let go
The rage of it all, I swear to God

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 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 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.