Thursday, July 03, 2008

Birfday Thanx

Today's Boston Globe Birthday Horoscope: You have a lot to contend with this year. Step up and take responsibility for whatever situation you find yourself in. This is not the year to complain, overreact or put the blame elsewhere. Deal with any dilemma or situation you face so you can let go of the past and move into the future. Your numbers are 11, 16, 23, 30, 44, 49.

Today's Boston Herald Birthday Horoscope: You have all you need to move into this beautiful new phase of your life. The magic that happens in July is that you're embraced by the very person you want most to accept you. A golden goal is in hand in December. Capricorn and Aquarius adore you. Your lucky numbers are 11, 19, 45, 28 and 13.

I knew there was a reason I'd read the Herald all these years. What can I say? They're a sensationalist, 3rd grade level tabloid style publication that borders on yellow journalism, but I like the book style layout with the single fold down the middle as opposed to gatefold the Globe has. That, and they have better horoscopes. What? You expected I'd read a newspaper for the actual news? Please.

So, yes, it's my birthday today. Feel free to send presents. Although, truth be told, I just felt like writing a little something because it's been a while and I'm in a grateful sort of mood. Now, I'll try not to get all sappy on you. It's just that this particular birthday - 33 - is, for whatever reason, one I've been looking forward to. Alright... that's not exactly true. It isn't "whatever" reason. It's actually a really stupid one. You see, 3 is my lucky number. In fact, if you believe Schoolhouse Rock (and later Blind Melon) it's actually a magic number! I was lucky enough to have been born on the 3rd (as was my sister, albeit six years ahead of me. Happy Birthday, M!) and so lucky number it became. Now, when I was 3 years old, I couldn't really comprehend all this. Further, I think the chances of my living to 333 are pretty remote. Therefore, if there was ever a time to celebrate good luck, this year would be it.

It got off to a great start, even before the actual day (ignore the obvious error in that last sentence. You know what I mean.) I came home to my apartment last Wednesday to find a bevy of friends, family and girlfriend all waiting for me - surprises at the ready. Turns out Goof, completely unbeknownst to me, had planned the whole soiree a good month or so beforehand. Let me tell you, there are few things better than coming home to lots of loving smiles, Blue Ribbon BBQ, and Blue Frog birthday cake. Think she's something special? Well, yes. Yes, she is.

And, really, that's what it's all about. Horoscopes, as fun as they are to try and find meaning in, are largely bullshit, and it doesn't matter whether I'm turning 33, 12, or 84. Birthday's come with an inevitable dose of self-reflection and this year, not only can I do so without regret or angst, but, more importantly with hope and love. That's due largely to those people I mentioned before. The people, incidentally, who read this blog. In other words, you folks - which brings me back to the real reason for this post. Mainly, that I'm a very lucky and grateful dude who owes you all a huge amount of thanks. And, who knows? 33 may turn out to be fairly kick-ass like the Herald says, or it may be more challenging, if you believe the Globe. I've had both types of years, and really, that's just the ups and downs and cyclical nature of life in general. Either way, it winds up a whole lot better with people like you around. So, thanks everybody!

Now, anyone care to join me in playing some Wii? I got TWO games in this years haul. Man, I'm lucky...

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Simon In The Land Of The Yangtze

There are two reasons why I'm usually not found at book readings. The first is that the books I tend to read are by authors that are long dead. Therefore, seeing them read from their most recent tomes would be an unnerving sight, indeed. The remainder of the books I read (and the second reason I don't go to book readings) are of such low critical acclaim that to actually have a reading for said works would be an embarrassment for all involved - especially the fans who would have to own up to liking them. (See this post, and yes I recant my earlier statements. I'm fickle like that.)

However, as luck would have it, I happened to catch a quick glance in the local hippie rag events section about a reading being given at the Brookline Booksmith by one Simon Winchester. Many of you will know him as the man responsible for The Professor and The Madman - an excellent read about two critical figures central to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. (Incidentally, Winchester has written an even more comprehensive work about the dictionary's creation called The Meaning of Everything - also an outstanding read.) As it turns out, Mr. Winchester has a new book out entitled The Man Who Loved China, and it's recent release was the reason for his appearance at the Booksmith.

Now, I haven't actually read the book yet (although Goof was kind enough to pick up a copy of it for me at the reading) and, truth be told, at first glance the subject matter seems a little blah. Who wants to read a book about some fruitcake who loves China and wants to write about it ad nauseum?

But, then again, who wants to read a book about dictionary making either? Or an earthquake that occurred 100 years ago? Or the last remnants of the British empire? Winchester has written about all of these things, and done so in a style that keeps you (or at least me) turning the pages. The man, it must be said, is an exemplary storyteller.

And, that was on display last night as well. He's not that imposing a figure (rather nondescript, although he does sport a very distinguished British accent) and he didn't read a lick from his book. Instead, he provided details about the book's central character while juxtaposing it with his own personal and strangely relevant stories about his experiences with China and it's culture. Oh, and he's good with a quip as well.

So, call me a sucker for a sales pitch, but I (and Goof) now own an autographed copy of a book (he gave both of us 'Best Wishes!') that, were it not for the author, I wouldn't have looked twice at at the bookstore. And despite this, I'm really looking forward to getting through my other books so I can read it. Sometimes open-mindedness has to force it's way in with a crowbar, after all. So, as soon as the hunt for Moby Dick is over, Nick Hornby decides to stop by, and I can step away from my Wii (another post - coming soon) long enough to actually read, I'll give China and those obsessed with it a shot. After that, maybe I'll hit the book reading circuit again. I hear Dan Brown has something in the works.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sittin' In The Park And Reminiscing...

Unearthed the following gems on YouTube that any child of Channels 38 & 56 in Boston in the 70's and 80's ought to recognize. Ah, memories... Mr. Abominable? Care to start things off?

I cannot tell you how many times I've responded with "Balancin' my meal! Doo do do DO do..." over the years when asked what I was doing. Both that "junior consumer tip" and the one that follows are among the most vivid memories I have of childhood television.

We'll hear from those folks again, but first this message:

"This is the captain speaking! Come In Earth!

"I can walk like a penguin!" (Would this ever be allowed on TV today?)

I have a whole post to write on Woodsy Owl at some point, but for now.. love the way these kids help "spread the word." Real effective, kids! Keep up the good work!

And check out how these kids fight over trash. Heh.

Sorry - another "real" ad:

Monsters! Oh no!

Hey! Abominable's back! I'll take the balloon.

Oh, and don't forget about the four food groups!

Does anyone remember this one? I vaguely do... but I think they might have discontinued it before I hit my prime viewing years...

Crappy quality - kinda like the kite - Dumb Dumb.

Alright - that ought to tide you over for now (I need to save some for future posts after all.) However, it would be borderline criminal if I didn't include this. Oh, and of course Martians have Boston accents! What did you think?

(Special thanks to A.K. for that find.)

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Dancin' In The Streets Of Hyannis

Back on board the M/V Eagle again - this time heading back to Hyannis after two very relaxing days on Nantucket. Goof and I experienced Nantucket the way the island's earliest settlers must have - namely without Internet access.

Alas, the inn where we took shelter from the bluster of the four winds had just upgraded their computers and "network" and was unable to get their wireless signal working correctly. Some nerve they have... making us rough it like that. I thought about telling them I work in computers for a living, and offering to take a look, but Goof wisely pointed out that this would be a good opportunity to put the laptop away for a bit and enjoy some of the island's more simple pleasures. After all, did I go on vacation just to surf the Internet? Well... yeah, I did. But I wanted to surf it in Nantucket, which was not doable.

We made do, however, and still had a fantastic time. Much of our time was spent idling away the hours during long walks, browsing local bookstores, or hanging out with the vagrants in the local coffee shop. In between, we enjoyed some fantastic food, beautiful scenery, and charming old world atmosphere (we never did get the camera to work, so think cobblestoned streets, lots and lots of weathered grey shingled houses, and a fair bit of gas lantern style streetlights.)

We found out some interesting tidbits about the island, too. For instance, it is FULL of money. Not surprising, of course, but in looking at some of the realtor's listings (there are over 40 realtor's offices on the island) it was almost impossible to find a house for under $1,000,000. Those that did fall below that price were almost certainly fixer uppers. Just insane. This didn't stop one of the locals from telling me to apply for the open IT position for the Nantucket school system. Tempting, I suppose, but I don't want to have to rent for the rest of of my life. They have a beautiful library (they call it an Atheneum) and a pretty neat whaling museum. Or, at least, it looked really neat from the outside. We didn't actually go in. Don't think Goof is all that into hunting sea bound mammals (speaking of which - Can Whales Get Rabies? Seems like they can.)

Now, however, we're heading back to the mainland and our apartment's, situated in the plain of Jamaica. Nantucket was indeed a great little getaway, and t'wont be the last trip for us, methinks. In between now and our next visit, however, I'll be sure to stock up on Internet access, and maybe brush up on a little pirate talk. Arrrr.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Yo Ho Ho And a Bottle Of...

...Chocolate Milk. And, actually it was a small little carton, downed by Goof (who has posted again - YAY!), on board a big ass boat that's on it's way to Nantucket.

Yes, indeed. As I write this, Goof and I are on board the M/V Eagle (at least I think that's the name) and are traveling to Nantucket Island for a few days of chillin'. Below us in the car hold are two HUGE Stop & Shop semi's which are, presumably, going to restock the islands food mart. That ought to give you some idea of how big this vessel is.

Anyway, enough about the boat. We're both very excited, never having been to Nantucket before (in fact, neither of us have been to Nantucket OR Martha's Vineyard. That's borderline sacrilege for a born and raised Masshole such as meself.) If anyone reading this has any tips on where to visit on the "Grey Lady" in March, please feel free to share them.

Oh yes, why Nantucket in March? Well, it's cheap, for one, and it's not jam-packed with lots of other people like us, wondering what the hell to do and generally getting in each others way. I've got my copy of Moby Dick, and Goof has my library copy of Nightbirds on Nantucket (yes, I know - we're dorks) and we're good to go. If time permits - and I can remember - I'll keep you posted with updates and photos (if we can get the damn camera to work.) Toodles for now, hepcats.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Can Y'all Dig It? O'Yes.

Just got finished pluggin' a bunch of numbers into TurboTax. You know what happened when the final tally appeared on my computer screen? I came to the stunning realization that I'd just dropped 50 bills for the privilege of finding out that I needed to drop another 250. Don't seem quite right, do it?

Ah, but it matters little. Truth be told, I purposely set it up that way when I started my new job. Figured I might as well earn a little interest on my own cash before dispensing with it, so I had them take out a little less every couple o' weeks. Oh, and I'm getting it all back - and then some. Turns out the federal government sees that 300 and raises it a further three. Economic stimulus, they call it. I call it more money for my emergency fund. Not sure that's what they mean by stimulus, but I'm excited! Although, I can't quite figure out how one stimulates the economy by taking a big hole o' debt and making it larger. But, if they want to send the money my way anyway, I can dig it. Know what else I dig? Lots of stuff. This is what's keepin' me busy these days in the absence of blog posts.

TurboTax: I can't badmouth the product because they charge a fee. Yeah, I ended up having to pay rather then collect, but the process they use to find that out is incredibly simple. Done in just a few hours, and most of that time was me trying to find the necessary paperwork. As good as it is however, it's still a pretty boring link. I mean, taxes? They're never fun.

Facebook: I can't really figure out social networking sites. I've always thought they were places where folks could establish a free Internet shrine to themselves in the hopes that other people they're "friends with" will actually pay attention to it. You know... basically serving the same purpose as um... a blog. *cough* Anyway, every year or so a new one becomes all the rage. Last year it was MySpace. The year before that it was Friendster. Actually, Friendster was never really the rage, come to think of it, but in any case Facebook is it, now. I tried to resist for as long as I could. Really, I just couldn't see the point. I'm 32, not 12. Using anagrams such as OMG and lololololol had little appeal. But then Goof (who shall not be linked to until she writes a new post - notice served) started showing me how you could play Scrabulous (Facebook's Scrabble ripoff) against other people and hit your other friends with "the people's elbow" (among other things.) It was all pretty amusing. Plus, you can post videos, befriend other folks you haven't seen in years, and waste tons of time. Currently I have 61 "friends" (low by most people's standards and even that's largely bullshit - most of them are friendly acquaintances who I've begged to be friends with me so I can look more popular) many of whom I'd lost touch with years ago, only to reconnect with them through Facebook and subsequently kick their ass is a game of Scrabulous. Oh, and to see how good they look and how well they're lives have progressed, etc, etc... *yawn*. Facebook is definitely worth some time if you want to reconnect with folks, or are simply bored. Oh, and by the way, 'ZA' is a real word. Good to know in a pinch.

I'm a sucker for these newfangled TV shows that are little more than male soap operas. When it comes to shows like 24, Lost, Alias, The Wire, etc... I'm one of the biggest pushovers there is. But I have a few conditions. Most importantly, the first season of said show has to be available on DVD. I flat out refuse to watch these serials on TV as they air. I'd go nuts having to wait a week to see what happens, and my memory isn't all that good anyway. As it turns out, Heroes was an accidental discovery. Goof and I had finished watching the 1st season of This American Life (yes, they've turned it into a TV show in addition to a radio show and it translates very very well) on the Netflix "Watch Instantly" section, and were looking for something else. We came across Heroes and neither of us had much hope. I, for one, had heard bad things about it and wondered how an X-Men ripoff was going to be worthwhile. That was 20 episodes ago - watched, I might add, over a period of 19 days. Yup, fair to say we're hooked. What's more, they've released TWO seasons, and both of them are available on Netflix to rent or to watch instantly. Note: If you're not a Netflix subscriber, you can watch the first five episodes of Season 2 here. I can't vouch for them as I haven't seen em, yet, and I can't imagine you'd want to start in the middle of the story. But, whatever floats your boat.

Bronchitis: Actually, I don't dig bronchitis one bit, but I've been confined to my house for the past five days while I suffer from it. Just thought it worth mentioning. See? Don't you feel bad for me?

Nantucket Literature: I've kind of been on a reading frenzy lately (notice the book on the sidebar has finally changed?) In fact, you might call me a "voracious reader." Part of that has been me being sick. There's only so much bad TV one can watch. But, as it happens, Goof and I'll be taking a little trip to Nantucket later this month (you won't believe the bargains you can get off-season. Er, well... it remains to be seen if it's a bargain. It is Nantucket in winter after all.) Having never been there I figured I'd get into the spirit of things by reading appropriately themed literature. The first book - Nightbirds on Nantucket - was one my mother forced me to read back when I was 10 years old or so. At the time I remember being pissed (she wanted me to read something - anything - so she took Nightbirds out at the library - seemingly at random - and brought it home.) However, after all my grouching, I ended up loving the book. After reading it a 2nd time I'm not so sure why, but whatever. Like I said, I was 10. (Siblings of mine should take note that Nightbirds on Nantucket is part of 'The Wolves of Willoughby Chase' chronicles. How's THAT for a blast from the past?? And who knew those were a 'chronicles?') The 2nd book, of course, is Moby Dick. Never read that one either (although I know how it ends), and it's not quite the light reading that Nightbirds on Nantucket was. Still, I'm finding I really enjoy the rather observant style with which Melville wrote (a first for me - normally I despise extraneous ramblings in literature) and I'm looking forward to following it up with the film (Gregory Peck version) that used to scare me shitless as a child when it was on T.V.

There's more stuff I'm wasting my time with, but it's either stuff I've written about before or may do so in the future, and...

Jesus, I almost forgot. Today's St. Patrick's Day! Good Lord, there's probably not a sober one among you reading this (if anyone still reads this, that is.) O.K. well, you know what else I dig? Irish accents and prank phone calls. Check this one out. Dublin Castle, me arse!

Sláinte, everyone.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mr. Stevens, I Presume?

What little free time I have these days has me spending most of it with Goof (I linked to her in the hopes that she'll use it as incentive to post something.) With the remainder, I've been getting flat tires fixed (twice), working at a new desk which everyone in the company can easily see, reading my book, watching Project Runway, and playing video games. Mind you, I can only devote, like, 32 seconds a day to each of those things, but I still find them enjoyable. Well, except the first two.

So... I promised a real post "soon." Thank God for ambiguous terms. "Soon" it shall be, and I think we'll just leave it at that. For now? A Youtube video that's given Goof and I hysterical fits of laughter for days. We're both Eddie Izzard fans, and someone took one of his stand-up bits and set it to cinema with Lego pieces. Don't laugh too hard, now. I'll see you shortly.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hola. Yo Soy Julio Iglesias!

A new post will be coming shortly, but for now... more Flickr fun.

The sleeveface pool on Flickr is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. At time of this posting there are 921 examples. I've only been able to thumb through the first couple of pages but below are some of my favorites (and there was a Tracy Chapman example I would've loved to have posted, but I couldn't grab the photo for whatever reason.) This is just the thing for a lazy Friday afternoon at work.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Meanwhile, Before You Were Born...

I think I was born about 45 years too late.

I mean, I've been accused of living in the past before but this is probably a bit much. As I sit writing tonight I'm listening to an old radio episode of Dragnet from 1949. On the wall next to me is this photo in a frame. When I finish writing this post, I'll probably watch an episode from Ken Burns' Jazz documentary (excellent, by the way) that details the dawn of the Jazz Age in the 1920's. Two of my all time favorite films are Hitchcock offerings from the 1930's. Hell, all I need now is some Brylcreem and maybe a hula hoop, and I can go meet my pals down at the ice cream parlor.

Granted, today's technology is the only thing that makes any of this possible. Dragnet comes to me via an Internet radio station, for example, and you can thank Mr and Mrs. DVD for the documentary and Hitchcock films. is a "100 year old photo blog" I visit every day. But still, I can't help but find it a little odd to think that I'm yearning for a time when I didn't even exist. I'm not sure why this is, exactly. To say it's because "times were simpler back then" would sound cliche, and I'm willing to bet every generation throughout history has said that about the years prior to which they lived. I don't know. Even though there were no video games and deodorant wasn't widely used, I guess I just like relics of days gone by. Maybe I should have been an archaeologist or something.

I'm waxing nostalgic (if you can even call it that) not because I'm bored, but merely to act as a preface. It's rare that you get to see photographs from this time period in color, much less in sparkling detail. But, the Library of Congress has just posted a treasure trove of such photos on Flickr of all places (you'd have thought they'd have created their own site for them.) I've posted a few of my favorites below, but make sure and check out the page. There are over 3,000 photographs to take a look at, many of them just as captivating. In fact, if you weren't paying attention, you might have thought they were taken yesterday. Enjoy.

Rural schoolchildren in San Augustine County, TX (1943)

Garage mechanic near Newark, NJ (1943)

Tenement buildings in Brockton, MA (1940)

Boy near Cincinnati, OH (1942 or 1943)

Rural schoolchildren in San Augustine County, TX (1943)

Worker at a carbon black plant. Sunray, TX (1942)

Worker in a smelting furnace in Muscle Shoals, AL (1942)

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Just a Little Trim...

I'm not much for musicals, but man, if you can stand a little blood you have to go see Sweeney Todd. Five stars in my book. No question.

Here. Here's a sample.

Now, go on. Go to the theater. Scat!

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Thumpity Thump Thump

Frosty the Snowman and I are not tight. I never really liked him, and I was definitely guilty of showing notable disinterest when he came around every year. That aside, I still felt a small obligation to pay attention when he hollered, “Happy Birthday!” A Christmas special is a Christmas special after all, and regardless of how you feel towards a particular character, it remains every Christian child’s solemn duty to park their ass in front of the television and watch whenever 60 Minutes gets preempted in favor of the latest offering from Monsieur’s Rankin and Bass. Yup. Must see TV, they are, and while Frosty and I never really did hit it off, I can’t say the same about 90% of the other specials that hit the airwaves.

But what exactly was it about Frosty that I didn’t like? Well, for one, he was animated, and as any child well versed in the art of Christmas specials can attest, the best specials featured puppets and stop motion animation (a la Rudolph.) The two notable exceptions to this are A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Why? Because the first included the Peanuts gang and it would have been extremely weird to see them as stop motion puppets. The second is a Dr. Seuss creation, and Dr. Seuss is exempt because he’s the best children’s storybook author ever. (Important Note: The Jim Carrey movie, The Grinch, does not enter into the discussion anywhere. The fact that it was made at all was an insult to the good doctor’s memory. It does not count as a Christmas special. Whether or not it counts as a film is debatable. Carrey doesn’t even look like the Grinch for God’s sake. He looks like a mutant cousin in the Country Bear Jamboree.)

Anyway, since this was the first time since before puberty that I actually got to watch most of these classic old shows, I figured I’d play critic and post some highlights, lowlights, and synopses in case you happened to miss any of them. Of course, it only makes sense to start with…
  • Frosty The Snowman: You're familiar with the catchy tune, of course, but the Christmas special bears no resemblance. Frosty (bearing a horrific New York accent, thus ensuring the derision of many a New Englander) comes to life when a young girl named Karen places a magic hat - stolen from a bumbling magician named Professor Hinkle - atop his head. Nothing much really happens until Frosty, in his ignorance, enters a greenhouse and melts, much to Karen's dismay (and my joyous cheers.) Santa, however, comes and saves him though, and as Frosty takes off in Santa's sleigh, he exclaims "I'll be back again someday!" The end... mercifully. As an added bonus, Jimmy Durante (the narrator) inexplicably sings the theme song for us at the end of the show. Not bad, but one wishes he'd cleared his throat first.
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: The king of all Christmas specials. Unlike Frosty the Snowman, this special pretty much follows the song, although it adds another element not previously sung about for a new wrinkle. The show starts off with Burl Ives (as a jolly snowman) telling us about the time Christmas was almost cancelled. Rudolph, just out of the womb, shocks his parents with his shiny red nose. Santa himself (a delightfully rude and prejudiced character in this special) voices his own disapproval when he comes to check in on Donder's newest son. At the same time, at Santa's workshop, Hermie, a blond-headed effeminate Niles Frasier type elf is also being ostracized because he doesn't like to make toys, and instead wants to be a dentist. Rudolph and Hermie both decide to run away together when they meet Yukon Cornelius - a prospector who can't find anything worth prospecting - and they all end up on the Island of Misfit Toys in an effort to escape the Bumble snow monster (who scared the crap out of me as a child.) Long story short, they come back to find they're useful. The bumble is subdued (and bounces as a bonus), and Rudolph with his shiny nose saves Christmas because he allows Santa to fly through the storm of the century and reach all the little children. See? Misfits rule. As a side note, I know all the words to this special and the lyrics to all the songs in it. I can recite them at a moment's notice. This special is a delight.
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas: I've written about this special before, but here's a brief rundown anyway. Charlie Brown is going through a funk. He doesn't really get Christmas and just sees it as a holiday filled with greed and commercialism. Lucy, in an attempt to bestow upon him the holiday spirit, asks him to direct the Christmas play (which leads to some wonderful scenes involving a jazzy soundtrack and signature dance moves from all the Peanuts gang.) Trouble is, the rest of the Peanuts crew hates Charlie Brown's direction and they revolt, choosing to dance instead of rehearse. Charlie Brown then goes out and gets a Christmas tree only to find that the gang doesn't like that either. They blame him for not being able to do anything right, and send him into exile. Charlie brings the tree with him and sulks. Later on, the kids show up again, turn the tree into a thing of beauty, scream "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!" and sing 'Hark, The Herald Angels Sing.' Despite the crap synopsis I've just given, this special truly is a masterpiece. It's quiet, simple message is a joy to witness. The animation is spectacular, and the soundtrack can't be beat. Also, Linus gives a performance that rocks the house.
  • The Year Without A Santa Claus: Rudolph may be the king, but this one is certainly the court jester. Further, this special introduces us to two of the most beloved characters in all of Christmas specialdom - Heatmiser and Snowmiser (who can be seen doing their thing in the Youtube clip two posts down from this one.) Santa, suffering from a cold, decides to make some changes to his Christmas routine and take a holiday. Fearing the worst (yet another cancellation of Christmas), two of his elves scour the world looking for people who still have the Christmas spirit and can convince Santa to, you know, actually do his job. They land in a place called South Town, where the reindeer they were flying gets mistaken for a dog and thrown in the city pound. The towns mayor, jerk that he is, says he will only release the reindeer if the elves prove they are who they say they are and make it snow in South Town for Christmas (this is where Heat Miser and Snow Miser come into play.) Eventually, all that is hoped for actually occurs and Santa makes his trip after all. Rankin/Bass get another 'A' here for content, animation and music, but they lose points for, once again, using a heavy New York accent on one of the characters (this time a little boy named Ignatius Thistlewhite - a non-believing little heathen who pronounces Claus like Clawwwwz. Despicable - and in South Town of all places, too. I expect a twang, dammit.) Still, a great special nonetheless.
  • Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas: I love this special. I always identified with the Grinch growing up. Not because I hated Christmas, mind you, but because I fancied myself a grump. I adored the Dr. Seuss book, so when the special aired and it turned out to be exactly the same thing, but animated... well, I was hooked. Oh, the story... the Grinch, who lives on the top of Mt. Crumpet, absolutely hates Christmas and the Who's down in Whoville who celebrate it (located at the mountain's base.) The Grinch has lots of reasons for disliking the holiday but chief among them seems to be the "noise, noise, noise, noise!" So, he devises a plan to steal Christmas from the Who's. While they're all asleep, he goes down and steals all their toys, decorations, food, etc... Basically he steals everything from under their noses in the hopes that they'll wake up, act all depressed and keep their mouths shut. That, however, doesn't happen as the Who's still manage to celebrate Christmas even though they've been deprived of all their wordly goods. The Who's gather around the town square, clasp hands in a circle and sing the Fa Who Forays song. Seeing all this, the Grinch's heart grows three sizes and he becomes a do-gooder. He brings the stolen goods back down to the Who's, celebrates Christmas with them, and even gets to carve the Roast Beast. Not bad for an angry green man. This show's trademark is the Grinch himself. He's nasty, in a lovable sort of way, and his pet dog is pretty cool. too. Plus, the animation and story are all excellent. As an added bonus, heavy drinkers will enjoy playing 'The Who Game' during this special. Anytime the word 'Who' is said, participants must do a shot of their preferred beverage. Makes for some interesting discussion.
  • The Life & Adventures Of Santa Claus: This special first aired in 1985 and was based on a 1902 children's book by L. Frank Baum (of The Wizard of Oz fame.) Unfortunately, I wasn't privy to this information prior to first seeing it. A Rankin/Bass puppet stop motion animation job, this special is bizarre - and that's putting it mildly. It tells the story of Santa Claus as an abandoned baby found in the woods by Ak, Master Woodsman of the World (not to mention a bearded man with antlers.) Ak places the baby Claus in the care of the lioness Shiegra, however Necile - a wood nymph (huh?) - steals the baby because she wants to raise a child of her own, just like us mortal folk. This is agreed to, and the rest of the special describes Santa Claus' rise to fame (he takes up residence in the 'Laughing Valley of Ho Ha Ho' - what we know of as the North Pole, I guess) and starts delivering toys to kids. A council convenes to discuss whether or not he should be bestowed with the 'Mantle of Immortality' so that he can keep doing his thing indefinitely. See where we're going here? Neither do I. I'd go on, but I'm finding it a bit too painful. The special wasn't bad if you could suspend disbelief for a bit... wait, never mind. I forgot what we were discussing here. It might be worth seeing once, but avoid watching with kids. They will be thoroughly confused, and will have all their certainties about Santa shattered.
  • Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town: It's been years since I saw this one, but I will never forget the character of Burgermeister Meisterburger, simply because he has such a wonderful name. This one also throws the Santa story out of whack, but it's somehow more credible than the one used in 'The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus.' In this special, Santa Claus actually uses his real name, Kris Kringle, wears a red suit, and does Santa like things. But, more importantly, the story is interesting enough where you're willing to take it at face value. It's not too ridiculous to be dismissed. Plus, the bad guys, Burgermeister and the Winter Warlock, are truly frightening, and Fred Astaire narrates. Fred Astaire! Yup. This one is well worth viewing... even though I can't remember much of the storyline.
Many of you will note that this list barely scratches the surface. Indeed, the Rankin/Bass catalog is a huge one, to say nothing of those created by other visionaries. Perhaps next year I'll tackle some of the more notable omissions (Nestor the Long Eared Christmas Donkey, The Little Drummer Boy, etc...) Maybe I'll even include some films (I can only ignore 'It's A Wonderful Life' for so long.) For now, though, I hope this list will tide you over.

To all of you reading, I wish a very Merry Christmas (if that's your thing), and I hope Santa brings you lots of fun toys to play with. I'll check in again before the New Year, but in the meantime, all you need to do is just "put one step in front of the oth-er, and soon you'll be walkin' cross the floo-ooo-oor!"

Stay cool, Misfits.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Enough Already!

IknowIknowIknowIknowIknowIknow! This is inexcusable! You can blame holiday parties, cultural events and meaningful relationships with friends, family and my significant other.

Repeat - BLAME THEM. I am NOT to be held responsible.

know how much you like to waste time here, but they... well, they just won't have it.


A post is coming before Christmas, I swear. In fact, it's been half written for two weeks now, so I just need to write the other half.

While you wait, play this "Travelers Quiz." This one's much better than the last one I posted several months ago. It's got a groovier interface, and is more fun to play. Oh, and it's not in Japanese either. I got to Level 10 before it told me I couldn't continue 'cuz I didn't have enough points. Curses.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Snowy Souvlaki

That post that was supposed to occur "sometime soon?" I had grand plans for it this evening. That was before my normally 45 minute drive home from work took 5 1/2 hours. Such is life in the Northeast. So now, I'm far from in the mood. But here's a link to Souvlaki Tetris. Hold your mouse button to skewer more than one. It's fun, and mindless. Kind of like me!

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Hark! He Brings Tidings!

Real life has gotten very pleasantly busy, but take heart, a new post is coming soon. Care to guess the topic? Here's a very obvious hint:

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Hi Um... Ho

Last week, in a scheduled early morning meeting, my supervisor called me into his office, shut the door, then turned to me and said, "Well, the good news is that you're safe."

My first impulse was to swear - loudly.

Thankfully, however, I was able to practice restraint, and so I sat stonefaced the remainder of the meeting while nodding at certain key points. Good news? Safe? Jaysus, Mary & Joseph, Mr Supervisor, whose pipe you been smokin' and what was in it? Perhaps you and I differ on our definitions of "good", but missing out on a four month paid absence does not necessarily a happy man make.

You see, times are more than a little tough at the company I work for. So much so, that about two or three months ago they announced that layoffs would be occurring (they weren't so bold as to use the term 'layoff' anywhere though. In typical corporate speak, they preferred "expense and head count reduction.") At the time of the announcement, I, like most of my fellow employees, was more than a little nervous, and numerous questions littered my tiny little mind. Would I be among the forsaken? How would I deal with the sudden loss of income? I totally sweet talked my way into this position - how on Earth would I ever find another job?

To make matters worse, I had every reason to suspect I'd be handed a pink slip. For one, I'm easily expendable. I don't say that to demean my position by any means, but my role is primarily a training role. I (supposedly) learn a lot about many different things, but operations will certainly not come grinding to a halt if I'm not there. Also, one of my managers (perhaps the one who had the most input regarding my future employment status) seemed unusually distant after the initial announcement, and I of course decided to read too much into it. Yup. I was gone. I knew it, and I was legitimately concerned...

...until they announced the severance package.

Two months notice (during which you were not expected to work) followed by an additional two months severance with health coverage for the entire four month span. Essentially, four months of vacation on their dime. FOUR MONTHS!

Screw future employment. I'll take the severance package, thanks. Suddenly, my internal discussions focused not on how I would scrape up enough cash for Ramen when the inevitable layoff occurred, but what exactly I'd do with all that free time. After all, there were so many movies to watch, books to read, hours in which to play Warcraft, further hours in which to sleep, lots of places to travel, etc... ALL of it would be at my fingertips, and I couldn't wait.

Mind you, I'd been through a layoff before and it was definitely a less than pleasant experience. I'd arrived at work one day in 2001 (hungover as all hell I might add, which only made things worse) to find that I was no longer needed. Kindly leave immediately and take this small severance with you. And so I did, but at the time I was fairly bitter about the whole thing. I was in a much different situation personally and professionally, and given the market at the time and my general lack of experience in my field it took me much longer to find a job than I would have liked (although in retrospect, the layoff was exactly the kick in the ass that I needed for reasons I won't get into here.)

But... well, this time around, they were just so damn nice about the whole thing.

"Everyone will be treated with dignity and respect during this tough time."

"We realize people have families, etc, etc..."

It was a completely different experience. This time, they talked a good game, and backed it up with a tremendous "goodbye" package. Further, not only did we know well in advance that layoffs would be occurring, we knew the EXACT DAY they would take place. There were almost no secrets regarding the process. And so, for a good month, I went to work still thinking I'd be gone, wondering whether or not that was a good thing, and waffling back and forth on which outcome I'd prefer (but secretly preferring the layoff. Wait, no I wasn't. Er... yes, I was. No. Yes. No. Yes.) Always though, I kept my relative unimportance to the company in the back of my mind and thought that more than reason enough for my layoff.

And, maybe because I thought it a foregone conclusion, I started noticing things I didn't like about the company; things I'd be glad to be rid of after my dismissal. Examples? The corporate atmosphere for one. Truly loathsome words and terms like "value-add", "metrics", and "leverage" are thrown about with such reckless abandon, you might think you're in a high school physics class, but no, at work they take on completely different meanings (it took me months to figure out that "leverage" - used, for some reason, as a verb - essentially means "to make use of existing resources.") The bathrooms are nasty, too. They smell, and are tiled in beige and dark brown, the color of... well, you know. Leftover hand wash water is all around the sinks, and people aiming their paper towels for the wastebasket often miss and don't bother to pick them up. I could go on, but it's pointless and petty. Nitpicky stuff, for the most part, but stuff you notice when you allow yourself to.

And so, when the fateful day occurred last week and I was told that I was not going to be laid off, and that I was, in fact, going to receive more responsibility, well, my stomach did a few loop-di-loops. I said all the right things, and appeared interested when I was supposed to, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking, "Man! Four friggin' months! And there are coworkers of mine who would kill to be in the position I'm in. Wonder if they wanna trade?"

This whole process has made me question a lot of things about myself, not least of which is whether or not I want to continue down my current career path. These are not easily answered questions and I think I still have a lot of soul searching ahead of me (to say nothing about fear of the unknown.) But, for now, I'm going to take this lack of an event the same way I took the layoff several years ago - namely as a reason to be grateful, and a way to get myself in gear and place renewed focus on my job. Easier said than done, in a lot of cases. Today, for instance, I sat in a department meeting and felt completely lost, having no idea what people were talking about, and having even less desire to find out. "Care" (as in 'I do/I don't') seems to be in rather short supply these days, but give me a minute to catch my breath, please. I'm still trying to get over the fact that I actually have to work for a living.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Beware Of This And That

Christ, it's been awhile.

My excuses? Mystery Science Theatre 3000 DVD's, lots of laundry, Bella Luna restaurant, listening to all sorts of neat podcasts, watching 24 (it is taking me a day and an age to get through this season. Not because it's not good. Just the opposite, actually. But I have so much other stuff to do too. Can't you tell?), playing Warcraft, hanging out with Goof (who just moved up to Boston. Yay!), reading The Cigarette Century (see '24' excuse), working, anticipating a possible layoff while working (more on that should it actually happen, hence the lack of links - I'll just say that none of the possible outcomes really worries me), dogsitting (see post below), studying Visual Basic, and watching playoff baseball (You go, Red Sox!)

Between all this, I've been a little tired and bleary eyed. Much as I love it, the baseball is especially killing me. The games start around 8:30 or so and don't finish much before midnight. Yawn. But, fear not. As soon as things settle down a bit - hell, even before then, I'll make with the postin.'

Oh yeah - I've also been quizzin' shanizzin'. Most recently: Which Peanuts Character Are You?

I think the result is rather appropriate:

Which Peanuts Character are You?

You are Linus!
Take this quiz!


Make A Quiz More Quizzes Grab Code

(Back before I hit puberty, Linus was one of my nicknames. Apparently I sounded like him, and the little heathens I went to school with used to try to get me to pay homage to The Great Pumpkin.)

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Love Me Two Times

There's no delicate way around it, so I might as well come right out and say it.

There's another female in my life.

Well, more than just "in my life", I guess. I'd actually say we're pretty intimate. And, um, in fact, I'd say... we're sleeping together.

It's true. For the past several months or so, we've been seeing each other off and on. It's one of those deals where we'd known each other for years, and were finally set up through an intermediary. Truth be told, I was kind of reluctant at first, but after expressing my misgivings, I was assured that the relationship would be a pleasant one.

"She's really nice!", I was told, "The two of you will have so much fun together! Just give it a shot."

I demurred.

"Did I mention how cute she was?"


For our first date, back in the summer, I met her at her house. She arrived at the door, and, well I wasn't disappointed. The girl was cute alright. In fact, she was pretty damned adorable. She also seemed excessively happy to see me, which caught me a little off guard. You see, I'd had somewhat conflicting reports. Despite the assurances of her kindness by the person who set us up, I'd also been led to believe by others that my new date was a bitch. Frankly, I didn't know what to expect, but when in doubt, go with the more negative approach, I say. Your expectations will either be correct or they'll be exceeded, and no disappointment will result.

Anyway, if I told you that the girl kissed me kissed me right away, I'd be guilty of telling half-truths. In point of fact, she jumped me. Like, in a good way. Taken aback, I did my best to calm her down, which she did, eventually, although she seemed a little hot under the collar for the entirety of our date. Rather than go out that night, and ensuring our own discomfort in unfamiliar surroundings, we decided to simply go for a long walk along the beach, followed by a quiet dinner for two back at her place and a little TV. It proved to be a wonderful evening, and it was clear - right from the get go - that we enjoyed each others company. So much so, that that night... well, we slept together.

Things have progressed from there, although you could make the case that after that first date we'd be hard pressed to actually "progress" anywhere. I mean, talk about starting off strong. But, there are some little things that have happened that might indicate a healthy, developing relationship. I have a key to her house now, for instance, and I now stay over for days at a time, as opposed to the occasional date here and there. We still don't see each other all that often, though. My work keeps me busy, and then there's the fact that we're both involved with other people...

Oh yeah... that. The question you're all undoubtedly asking. Or more like, questions, plural. How could I do such a thing? How could I betray my girlfriend like this? And to announce it this way - TODAY, of all days? The day she actually moves to Boston?

I know. It looks bad, and I don't know that I can offer an explanation that will satisfy you all... but here goes. I had to write this today. I couldn't keep this bottled up any longer, and I felt it was best that you all know the truth about me and my relationship(s.) My girlfriend? Well, she's already aware of the situation, actually. I've been as open and honest with her about this whole situation as I possibly can be. I've never wanted to lie to her, or any of you for that matter, and so I've decided not to. Everything I just wrote? She's been aware of it for weeks. And, you know, she's taking it about as well as could be expected. Actually, scratch that. She's taking it way better than I could ever have hoped.

But, that still leaves me in a precarious position. I could sit here and tell you that I'm going to break it off with this girl - this bitch, as others have called her, but, well... that wouldn't be fair. I owe her more than that. But I also owe my girlfriend more, too.

Dammit, I just don't know, really. I'm not looking for any sympathy here, by any means, but I'm stuck. I'm going to have to take the weekend and think this thing through. I'd planned on spending it with this girl anyway, so perhaps we can have a heart to heart. She's just so dependent on me, though, and, although she's involved with someone else, I can't just leave her high and dry. At least not this weekend... I promised I would be there for her when she needs to poop.

**Translation: I have been helping out my brother and his wife on numerous occasions over the past several months by house sitting and taking care of their dog - a female Yorkshire terrier named 'Murphy' - while they're away. Gotcha. I can't believe you were thinking what you were actually thinking. Oh, and yes, Murphy sleeps in the bed with me. She demands it actually, and will not have it any other way.**


Monday, September 24, 2007

Banshee Wail

Today, whilst stuck in traffic on the way home from work, I slowly rolled by a house for sale on Rte 9. This abode, from the outside at least, seemed rather unremarkable and the fact that it was situated on a fantastically busy thoroughfare made it that much less so. Still, it managed to catch my eye for one simple reason, namely the "For Sale" sign out front. The house, you see, was being sold by Susie Hsu.

While the music buffs among you have already gotten the reference immediately, the rest of you are undoubtedly scratching your heads. Susie Hsu? Huh? What's all this about?

Not much, really. Just a delightful little play on words and an excuse to play some music. You see, Susie Hsu, whom I'm sure is a top notch realtor, also has a homonymed compatriot (or, if you're feeling really adventurous, an evil twin sister) named Siouxsie Sioux, who is more famously known as the front woman for Siouxsie and the Banshees - one of the more famous Goth/Post-Punk bands to come out of England in the late 70's and early 80's. I didn't get into them until the early 90's, when I hit musical appreciation puberty, and when they were decidedly more pop (they somehow managed to chart a Top 40 hit - an event which caused many of their "loyal" fan base to that point to label them sell-outs.) Regardless, Siouxsie was one of the original and more influential "not to be messed with" front women in punk and modern rock, and she (and her band) have influenced countless popular music acts since their dawn - including, I might add, a certain fiery redhead who cites her as her biggest influence ever and whom I've written about before.

So, needless to say, I was delighted to find she was selling houses in Massachusetts. I can only imagine what the interiors of the properties she sells look like - all the walls painted black and gray with decaying statues of gargoyles and saints. Sheer magnificence! Remind me to look her up if these damned housing prices ever drop. In the meantime, I got some tunes to tide us all over. Enjoy.
  • Spellbound - From their 1981 album, Juju, Spellbound is one of their most classic and most recognizable tunes. I love the guitar work and frantic energy throughout this track. Fun stuff.
  • Cities In Dust - The newer more pop sounding Siouxsie & The Banshees. This one's off the 1986 album Tinderbox, and this tune with it's synthesizers and electronic bells in the beginning definitely raised some hours. The rather dour lyrics however confirmed that it was indeed the old Siouxsie, though, and besides, the tune is just so damn catchy.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Long Distance Information...

As alluded to in the previous post, I recently made another trip down South - this time to accompany Goof to a wedding in which she was a bridesmaid, and I, her fortunate date. Unlike all previous trips to Dixie, however, the city of New Orleans was not involved. Alas, it will probably be a while before ol' NOLA and I cross paths again, as Goof no longer lives there, and there aren't too many legitimate reasons for me to be on Bourbon St. otherwise.

Not to worry, however, as the trip still had plenty of noteworthy moments. One does not have to travel to Louisiana to have a journey worth writing about. One can actually spend their entire vacation in the state of Tennessee and have a fantastic time - hard as that may be for us Northern folk to believe - and that is, in fact, exactly what I did.

You'll have to trust me when I tell you that I made four previous attempts at writing a sort of "travelogue" for this post. None of those attempts proved fruitful (I'd write a few paragraphs, stop, erase the whole thing, and start over again) and I am thus forced to admit that as a formerly lapsed blogger, I'm struggling to find my voice once again. So, rather than start attempt #5 in "story form", I decided to list the highlights with bullet points. Believe me, it'll be easier on your eyes. So, without further ado...

Reasons why I enjoyed Tennessee, and which you may or may not (some of them, hopefully not):
  • Arriving in Nashville to be greeted at the baggage claim by Goof and her mother. Now we see where Goof gets her good looks, charm and sense of humor.
  • Eating lunch at the White Trash Cafe in Nashville immediately after landing. The White Trash Cafe is built out of cinder blocks and has an old metal bathtub and sink right outside. Inside is full of all sorts of kitsch, and you could spend the entire day just scanning the walls. Thankfully, however, we were distracted by our waiter who greeted us by saying, "How do?" Not to be outdone, Goof's mother, upon hearing this, looked up from her menu and said, "Oh! How do?" I, of course, was delighted, and immediately gave Goof a grin that would have made Guy Smiley jealous. You see, way back when we first started dating I used to greet Goof on the phone by saying, "Howdy do?!?" When she asked why I always said that, I responded by asking, "Don't all Southerners say that?" Truthfully, I didn't need to even ask, because I already knew the answer. Of course they do. I'd seen it on Deputy Dawg when I was a kid, and more recently in the movie The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada when Levon Helm (yes, that Levon Helm, from The Band), playing the role of a blind 80 year old Texan, greeted authorities as they visited his shack. So yes, Southerners say it. However Goof, refusing to see the light, has protested vehemently against this fact for the entire year and change that we've been dating. Yet, how does the first person I encounter in Nashville (aside from Goof and her mother) greet me? With a hearty "How do?" He even did me the favor of dropping the '-dy', making it sound more authentic. And, how does Goof's own mother respond? With the exact same phrase. Case closed. (Side note: To be fair, Goof's mother mentioned afterwards that she had NEVER used that phrase before that moment, and I believe her. It might have been an unthinking reaction type of thing. Still, precedent has been set. Let there be no doubt.)
  • The drive down I-40 from Nashville to Memphis, known as the Music Highway. The reason for the naming is obvious enough. Memphis and Nashville are (or was at one time, in the case of Memphis unless you count Hustle and Flow) music industry powerhouses. Both have contributed mightily to American music history. Still, the highway didn't really seem to reflect this, and for the first half of the four hour trip, I wondered why they bothered to name it the 'Music Highway' at all if they weren't going to have some sort of other recognition/roadside memorabilia to go along with it. That was until we stopped for a break at a rest area and found out that it was, in fact, the 'Johnny Cash Rest Stop.' There was nothing to indicate this other than the sign proclaiming it so. No guitars, no Johnny Cash music wafting overhead. Just a sign saying 'Johnny Cash Rest Stop', but I could only conclude that the other rest stops along the highway were named after other famous musicians. So, it was a little boring in that respect, but still, it's comforting to know that I took a long piss in Johnny's urinal.
  • The Memphis Public Library. Now this, my friends, is a cool library. Yeah, they might lack the tomes and treasures that Boston may have but at least the "new addition" to their library doesn't look like the headquarters of an accounting firm. In fact, the entire library is new, and architecturally, is VERY pleasing to the eye. Plus, the layout makes perfect sense. Things are easy to find, and they were selling remainders for cheap, cheap, cheap. Good books, too. I bought a Dennis Lehane offering in hardcover for a whopping $2.00.
  • Eating dinner at Charlie Vergo's Rendezvous. Located in an alley in downtown Memphis, the Rendezvous is perhaps one of the most famous restaurants in town. The ribs and sauce were excellent (although not the best ribs I had on the trip - I'll get to that in a bit), and the place was surprisingly crass, yet comfortable. Paper plates and napkins are pretty much thrown at you, and the whole restaurant has a loud, boisterous atmosphere. I left the place a barbecue sauce covered mess - but a very happy one.
  • Southern Accents. Back when I was 12 years old and had nothing better to do on a Saturday night, I used to watch the TV show Cops, largely because there was little else on. Of the multitude of episodes that show aired, my favorites would be those that were filmed on location in some area where the cops in question had an accent (except if they were in New York - then I knew to skip it.) Invariably, they'd go to some Southern state, and the show would be that much more enjoyable. A Southern drawl has to be one of the best accents this country has to offer. Charming, yet not too sophisticated, the accent just puts you at ease in a way that other accents can't. And, if you're really unfamiliar with it, it might just make you laugh (although that might be considered rude. Still, sometimes I can't help myself.)
  • The Stax Museum of American Soul. Located on the site of the former Stax recording studios (where Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, and Booker T. and the MG's recorded) this small little museum has some great exhibits, displays and memorabilia. Well worth a visit, and at $10, a very cheap entrance fee.
  • Presbyterian Weddings. I'd never been to a Presbyterian church service before, much less a wedding, and it was, without question, the quickest nuptials I've ever been fortunate enough to witness. Clocking in at just about 30 minutes, it was as if the celebrant had one eye on the bride and groom and the other eye on the time clock for the UTennessee football game (and make no mistake, Southerners LOVE their college football. Wedding guests were constantly checking scores, starting immediately after the proceedings and into the reception.) It was a delightful ceremony which, while quick, still maintained it's poignancy and seriousness throughout, and the bride and groom and their families can look back and remember a very special and meaningful celebration. Plus, one of the bridesmaids was shockingly attractive. Were I not already a lapsed Catholic, I might have considered jumping ships.
  • Home cookin' (and hospitality.) My last night in Tennessee, I had the pleasure of driving back to the middle of the state (although unfortunately chose to stop at a Phillps 66 with the nastiest bathroom ever as opposed to Johnny Cash's Rest Stop again) and spending a night under the roof of Goof's parents, who are the very definition of Southern hospitality. They served a feast of Southern food for dinner, with the highlights being the ribs (cooked by Goof's father, and which were the best ribs I've had - seriously) and the Key Lime Pie (made by Goof's mother of 'How do?' fame - simply delicious.) Dining with us were several members of their extended family who came up from Alabama (and surprised me with a 'Bama football t-shirt) and later several neighbors stopped by to say hello. This being the first time I'd met any member of Goof's family, immediate or extended, I fully expected to get grilled and ribbed (pun intended) about my "Yankee" heritage. Nothing of the sort happened, however. In fact, everyone managed to make this northern boy feel quite welcome and at home. Goof and I closed out the day with a nice walk around the town square (exactly as you'd think it might be - city hall and the common in the center, with lots of independently owned shops and boutiques surrounding it - very Southern, and very nice) and it ended up being a great ending to a great trip.
And, as if all that wasn't good enough, I somehow managed to snag a free round trip ticket from the airline by volunteering to fly on a later flight (the plane I was on was over its weight limit. I didn't know such things were possible, and I was only too happy to let them book me on another aircraft - even if the flight they booked me on was delayed by two hours.) That means, of course, that I can do it all over again. Although next time, I think I might look out for the Faith Hill Rest Stop, as long as the bridesmaid don't object, y'all.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

More Thoughts From The Dark Recesses

Some random musings from a mind suffering from lack of use over a long weekend. The purpose of this exercise is simply to jump start things a little bit. As I think it, so I'll write it. If there's a link in there, it's something that I thought of while writing and decided to add it after the post was finished.
  • I really hope I don't write anything profane or pornographic. That would be highly embarrassing.
  • Stop thinking that way. The more determined you are to not think about those types of things, the more likely they are to be thought about.
  • Stop it.
  • Nope - you're not allowed.
  • If you build it, they will come (do NOT read into that, folks.)
  • Red Sox are tearin' the cover off the ball. Go'head, boys! Swing that stick!
  • Jesus Christ.
  • See? Now we're on the right track. Religious thought. No way religion, sex and bad words could all mix it up.
  • Oh... nevermind.
  • If runners score as a result of an error, does it still count as an RBI for the batter?
  • Yawn. Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn.
  • What did I do this weekend? Well, I saw Superbad. That was good. I had dinner with my Pops. That was good too. Who knew Ruby Tuesday had become more upscale? It was actually a very decent meal and salad bar. I went to the batting cages and ate Rocky Road ice cream! I'm sore as a result of the former... still. But, I very much enjoyed the latter. Gorgeous weather, too. See? The weekend wasn't a total loss.
  • Long distance information, gimme Memphis, Tennessee. Tryin' to find the party trying to get in touch with me.
  • You know I'm going to Memphis this week? Actually I'm going to Nashville, and from there I'll drive to Memphis. Why? Goof's got a wedding to go to, and I get to be her 'and guest' (benefits of being a boyfriend and all...) She's a bridesmaid... and apparently the bride actually has some taste. We will not be going to a wedding in which the bridal party look like a bunch of lettuce leaves.
  • Just started Season 5 of 24. How much more can they do with this show? Have I reached the point of desensitization? Jack Bauer must be ready to pass out. Am I gonna enjoy this as much as previous seasons?
  • You know what I love? This picture of the Last Supper with cartoon characters from Popeye replacing all the major players. I love Popeye. I really love old Popeye, circa 1920's and 30's. Sometimes I think I'd like to travel back in time and live back then. It seemed a much more simple and enjoyable life. And God knows, the music was better. Plus, I could still smoke and not have any idea it would be killing me. But then, I wouldn't get to see the Red Sox win a World Series, and there'd be no World of Warcraft. Still, I bet I could hang. Hell, I'd probably make a fortune. Or not.
  • You know why else I like Popeye. I really dig anchors.
  • Dammit! Well folks, I lied. But not on purpose. I got interrupted by my roommate who wanted to have a lengthy conversation on various spectator sports. I tried to give one word answers and drop a few hints. Didn't work. BUT, I'm back now. And in full effect.
  • I love it when you call me Big Poppa! Throw your hands in the air...
  • Wait, what the hell? I hate that song. Thanks Notorious B.I.G. You're a dick.
  • Goof keeps IM'ing me and asking to see an advance copy of the blog post - you know, because it's been so long since I've posted and she's anxious to see something new up here. I told her she has to wait like the rest of the commoners (her words, not mine.) She wasn't pleased. She accused me of being grumpy (in a roundabout way), and said she should get special privileges. This post doesn't lend itself to that. You can't show someone an advance copy of a stream of consciousness post. That's ridiculous. She'll see once she reads it. She'll understand. Sheesh. It's a good thing she makes me laugh.
  • I can't... stop.... yawning.
  • I don't want to go to work tomorrow. Work is a struggle. Has been for months. Not struggle as in, "This is hard" but struggle as in "I really don't want to get started on any of this." Makes me wonder if I'm in the right line of work... but then, I don't have any better alternatives at the moment. Any ideas, folks?
  • I could be a professional baseball player. Some of these people don't look very good. Plus, you should have seen me at the batting cages. I was foulin' off pitch after pitch, and even hittin' some on the fast setting!
  • If you were a musician, what kind of musician would you be? I think I'd like to play the drums, but then again everyone wants to play the drums. I could sing! Maybe. I wouldn't want to be a flutist, though. Maybe the recorder? The triangle?
  • I've been wearing sandals a lot lately. Very unlike me, but I'm finding them rather comfortable which is indeed surprising. When I was younger, my feet would get scratched to shit every time I wore sandals. Made me look negatively on them for some time. It made me wonder why Moses, Jesus, the disciples and all those bad boys made them their footwear of choice. Didn't they get nasty, scratchy feet? Didn't it sting when the sand got in there? Yuck.
  • I've started waking up really early and going to the gym before work. It makes me feel better to have worked out first thing, and I don't have to worry about it when I get home. However, I don't think I'll be doing this tomorrow, because I want to stay up a little later than usual, and I'm still sore from the batting cages. See how easy it is to talk yourself out of it? Pathetic.
  • 1,2,3 o'clock, 4 o'clock rock.
  • I have had WAYYYY too much water today and now I am utterly sodden with drink. I keep having to go to the bathroom. You probably didn't need to know that but hey, am I honest or am I honest?
  • Goof just interrupted me again. Waiting for me to publish this thang. Guess I shouldn't keep her waiting any longer. Man, am I whipped!
  • Alright, how do I end this?
  • Maybe I just end it.
  • Maybe I say goodbye.
  • Nah, too final.
  • Well, hope you enjoyed everyone! No sex, religion, or bad words here today!
  • Whatever. That was a lie. I was foolin' y'all.
  • Now, I'm just being annoying
  • I kinda like it.
  • Fine. O.K. O.K. O.K. Fine. I'm finishing up.
  • BYE!
  • For now!
  • *wave*


Monday, August 13, 2007

Ride Em, Cowboy

When you get out of the habit of writing, the act of getting back into it seems a monumental task...

At least, that’s the way it feels at the moment, and I’m writing a simple blog post. I can’t imagine what a mess I’d be if I were writing a book. Still, I figure it’s time to get back on this ol’ horse again and nudge her into a slow trot. Question is… what’s fueling the horse? Easy. Hay. Ummm… O.K… but what kind of hay?

Aha! That’s the question. What do I write about? A quick glance on (or not so quick as it turns out – I’ve spent the morning surfing the Internet due to both of my bosses being out today) reveals plenty of topics:

The Red Sox recent woes? NO. Absolutely not. Call me escapist, but if there’s one thing I don’t enjoy, it’s reading about how the Red Sox lost a game. Find another dupe, sports scribes.

Karl Rove’s resignation? Going to have to decline again. I can’t write about politics. I’m no good at it. I never have all the facts (nor do 99% of those who write about politics – something to keep in mind) and I’m too proud to have holes punched through my theories. Plus, political writing (and inevitable ensuing debate) is a tricky thing. It takes a sharp mind to distinguish between those who have a selfless interest in thorough explanation and analysis, and those who use political messages and rhetoric to do little more than scream, “I AM RIGHT!” and hope like hell they find some affirmation (here’s a hint: the former are usually calm.) I’m not well read enough to entirely make the distinction, and I don’t know that I could embark down the road of political discourse without becoming one of the latter. Plus, criticism is fruitless. If you want to do, then do – don’t whine (although I will say I found it rather telling that when asked what would be the first thing he’d do upon leaving the White House, Mr. Rove answered he would “go dove hunting.”)

How Boston is the “bloggiest” city in the U.S.? Well, duh! We’ve got more bloggers per square mile than McDonalds has franchises. Or, as House of Pain so eloquently put it in their early 90’s hit Jump Around, we’ve “got more rhymes than the Bible’s got psalms!” Kind of surprising actually, when you think of places like San Francisco & New Dork City. Why are we #1? According to the article “blogs thrive where locals are wired, well-educated, and obsessed with politics, a topic that inspires bloggers to unleash their prose.” Ugh. Well, maybe this isn’t a good thing, then (see above.) Let’s move on. Nothing new to see here.

The antioxidant properties of martini’s? No. Just… no.

Truth is I’m becoming a master of writing about having little to write about. Maybe I missed my calling. Maybe I could have been a writer for Seinfeld, if Seinfeld were monotonous and unfunny. Still, I can string random words together and still call it a post (and in fact, just did.) I can try to write something or I can just write it. The distinction is subtle, yet important, and Master Yoda tells us the latter option is preferable. In 2nd Empires, Chapter 7, Verse 6 he tells us "Do, or do not. There is no try." Who am I to disagree? When it all comes down to it, Master Yoda provides the hay, but... well, hay is still just hay. Nothing special about hay, man. It’s all what you do with it, and as far as this post is concerned, you can think of it as a chiffonade cut topped with Cool Whip. Or, I can search for a better metaphor. Either way, I'm glad to be back on the horse.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Gracias, Amigos.

Hmm... how do I even begin? I guess most of you who read this space are aware of the events in my life the past few weeks. If not... well there's no real easy way to say it, but my mother died a little over two weeks ago. She'd been diagnosed with cancer back in late April, and right from the initial diagnosis it proved to be horrifically fast moving and aggressive. Her death occurred not from the actual cancer itself, but from a stroke that was directly attributable to it, and really, it turned out to be a blessing. My mother, having been a nurse for over 40 years, knew how bad the cancer was, and we all (her family) knew that cancer deaths can be very long, very slow, and excruciatingly painful. Thankfully, she was spared much of that. Hers was a kind, peaceful death.

I wasn't sure if I was even going to write about it, to tell you the truth, but it would have been exceedingly awkward for me to jump right back into writing posts as if nothing had happened. I suppose I could have used this space to write a long, loving tribute, but I don't think I will. The wake and funeral very much served that purpose (not to mention proved exceptionally fitting - enormous amounts of people showed up) but also, all of this - my mothers death, the loving relationships she had with everyone, all her wonderful attributes and her personality traits - it's all fairly personal and I don't know that I could properly articulate it. Suffice to say, I am doing pretty well, considering. I'm sad, of course, but I'm also incredibly proud to be my mother's son, and incalculably thankful and grateful to have shared 32 amazing years with such a wonderful woman as her - and, by no means do I consider my relationship with her over, either.

But, what I did want to say in this post was, simply, thanks. Over the past few weeks I've received a huge outpouring of love and support from all over. So many of you showed up at the wake and funeral. I received more emails, cards, and phone calls than I could have ever imagined (and I can imagine quite a bit.) People who I would never have expected to hear from offered their support along with countless other friends, family members, and even acquaintances. It was clear to me, very shortly after my mothers death, that I'd get through it and be alright. In fact, you folks probably wouldn't let me be otherwise, and I'm almost certain my family can say the same. So, for that, I'd like to express my unending gratitude. You folks have been gently and kindly helping me and my family through a difficult time, and, honestly, I can't thank you enough.

Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Vacaciones! Una ves mas!

Well, the streak had to break sometime. I'm back to a more normal posting schedule, although a few sentences here and there isn't exactly normal. Still, just wanted to check in and mention once again that I'll be away for the next few days, visiting Goof and taking a little Southern Fried Road Trip. A nice little jaunt from New Orleans to Memphis (and back again) is the plan with lots of time set aside for museums, kitsch, fried pickles, and whatever else we may find whilst travelin' along the ol' Mississip. I'll be sure to take lots o' pictures and, rest assured, I'll be posting every once in a while from the road.

'Course I cain't quite speak Southern yet, so I'm fixin' to have a hard time communicatin', right? Guessin' ah kin jist wear one o' these here t-shirts, and start pointin' t'different thangs. That'll learn 'em, don'tcha thank?

Catch you in a few, folks.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Help Me Hive Mind!

Remember my Ask Metafilter post from a few weeks ago? I'm still addicted as all hell to the thing, but now I've put it to practical use.

Yes, that's my question right there. Look at all the response! Best five dollars I ever spent! (Accounts cost five bucks. Helps pay for the servers and keeps the meanies at bay. No one wants to pay five dollars just to be insulting or a troll.)

You may further deduce, by the nature of the question, that I'm going on another Southern Fried Road Trip soon. Your deduction would be correct. I'll be leaving in the middle of next week, and when I come back, I hope to have more pictures to display - maybe something similar to the Grizzly Burger.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Oceans Ahoy

You know, you can live in a city your entire life and never see all of it. At the very least, you can still find surprises.

Case in point: I drove to South Boston ('Southie' to its locals) this evening to pick up a package at the FedEx depot, and also hit their local library to grab a book that wasn't available at my neighborhood branch. I was a little concerned. This is Southie we're talking about. They don't like outsiders, and I most certainly qualify as one. It matters not that I grew up in a Boston suburb, and currently live within the city borders. Because I'm not a born and bred Southie local, it's OK to treat me with lots of suspicion (although to be fair, I'm grossly exaggerating. The demographics of the region have changed dramatically in recent years as well, with yuppies buying up all sorts of condos and townhouses. The old guard are pissed about it, too, but one of the more delightful consequences of their anger is in their referring to these outsiders as 'DINKS', which stands for "Dual Income, No Kids.")

Anyway, screw the suspicion. I needed both the package and the book, and got both without incident. And, because it was a beautiful summer night, I decided to drive five minutes down Broadway to Castle Island where I could grab some dinner and enjoy the ocean. Castle Island is a wonderful way to while away some time. Back in '01 & '02 when I was unemployed and had nothing better to do, I used to take long brisk walks around it for exercise, and just fell in love with the place. It offers some stunning views of Boston to one side, and the harbor to the other. Logan Airport isn't far away either, and the planes often fly directly overhead offering some magnificent sights. Standing in the middle of the island, however, is Fort Independence, a pre-revolutionary military installation built originally in 1634, but which has been through seven incarnations since. It's a fairly impressive structure if you're into that sort of thing. From the outside, it looks like a very sturdy garrison, and not a whole lot else. I must have walked around the thing a thousand times and never gave it much thought. It was either never open or I never bothered to check, and kind of just always assumed it was boarded up for good.

To my slight amazement, however, it was open tonight (and apparently is open every Thursday night during the summer from 7:00 PM 'til dusk.) I sheepishly walked in and was greeted by all manner of Southie locals warmly welcoming me to the fort. I was too stunned to speak, and the cynic in me immediately thought they were only being this kind because their boss must have just yelled at them and was secretly watching. But, no! They really were that friendly and helpful, and were also chock full of information about the fort. Tidbits such as the various construction dates, the notable events that occurred there, and the odd and amusing stories were readily offered up. (Note: Edgar Allen Poe was stationed there for five months (he was known as Edgar Allen Perry then) and it is believed that his story "The Cask of Amontillado" was influenced by a duel that happened there.)

Anyway, they impose pretty strict limits on where you can actually go within the fort, but you are absolutely allowed to climb the ramparts and see Boston in all its glory. I sound like a broken record, but it really is a magnificent sight, and, there were no heroin addicts to be seen, anywhere. Shocking. On my way out they offered me a donut (a donut!) from the multiple boxes of Dunkin' Donuts purchased for visitors, and handed me a pamphlet with historical details while also telling me to come back on the weekends when they offer free guided tours (from noon until 3:30 - weather permitting), and make the previously off limits areas available to the public. I then went next door to Sullivan's (another hidden gem) and got a delightfully delicious and fatty double cheeseburger, fries and ginger ale, and ate 'em all while watching people fly kites over the harbor.

All in all, a pretty nifty way to spend a summer evening. So much so, that I thought I'd pass it along on the off chance you were looking for some time to kill. Check out the links below for more information, if you're interested. I'll catch you tomorrow.


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Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Happy 4th of July, everyone!

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I Did It! I Did It!

Well, as of tonight the experiment is over, and I say it was a fairly successful one - successful enough that it'll continue for a little bit.

Yes, indeed. What I didn't mention in the above linked post was that I had a time frame in mind when I started doing this whole "post every day" thing. Although I didn't mention it because I didn't want to jinx myself, my goal was to write a post every day until I hit my birthday, and that day has (thankfully) arrived.

I've enjoyed posting every day, even though some days it was clearly a challenge. I used the "I needed something to post tonight" joke WAYYY too many times. I perhaps relied too much on YouTube clips, and maybe my topics were a bit dry, but I posted something every day for no other reason then I wanted to and I thought it was a good idea.

When you get out of the habit of writing, you, well... get out of the habit of writing. Personally, when I'm not doing in consistently, I can think of any number of things I'd rather do. Part of my posting every day was to see if I could do it (yes), but more importantly to see if I enjoyed doing it (mostly yes.)

So, my attitude now is, why not just continue with it? So, that's what I'll do. And looking at the time now, I have only a few minutes left in today to get this post in under the wire. That's all for now, folks, Catch you tomorrow.


Monday, July 02, 2007

What Do Giraffes Know About Trivia?

Well, I think I've waited long enough. 'Tis time to reveal the answers from Monday's trivia post and award the winner. Yes, I know it's only been two days, but there don't appear to be any more answers forthcoming, and quite frankly, because the answers received were all of such stellar quality, I've decided to pull rank and close up the contest...

Plus, I needed something to post about tonight.

So, here we go. Drum roll, and all that hoo-ha, please....
  1. What type of insect is kept in apiaries? Bees are kept in apiaries, which are places where they build their hives.
  2. Only three American presidential candidates won at least 520 electoral votes in their race for the White House. Who are they and how many votes did they get? Franklin Delano Roosevelt garnered 523 in 1936; Richard Nixon, 520 in 1972; and Ronald Reagan, 525 in 1984. Each of them was running for a second term.
  3. How long have people cooked with chili peppers? Archaeologists have found evidence in northwestern Ecuador that chilies were cultivated and used in cooking 6,000 years ago.
  4. Why should you be concerned if your elderly grandparent suddenly likes rock and roll? According to a recent report by researchers at Italy's National Center for Research and Care of Alzheimer's Disease, sudden changes in musical taste may be an indication that an elderly person is suffering from dementia.
  5. For what activity is baseball player Moe Berg best known? As a player, Moe Berg was only a journeyman infielder/catcher who had a .243 lifetime batting average over his sixteen year career. But, Moe Berg was also a spy for the Americans. Among other things, in 1934, while touring Japan with a team that included Babe Ruth, he took photographs of Tokyo that helped guide American bombers during the war.
If you want to get technical, AK was the winner with a whopping two correct answers. However, what Tim & Jesse lacked in correct answers, they made up for with humor, which counts double. AK was also humorous, but he sacrificed some of it in order to show off and actually be right.

So, from my perspective we have a three way tie. I could be a right jackass here and declare that because of this stalemate, no one gets anything. However, I'm not a jackass. I'm a nice guy. Therefore, everyone gets a prize! Specifically, since I like it so much, they get a copy of the book where these questions came from - Do Giraffes Sleep Standing Up? It's great to just thumb through when you have a few moments, or when you're stuck writing a thesis/dissertation which, as luck would have it, all three of our contestants are smack in the middle of doing. Come to think of it, doesn't it strike you as odd that these three people, who should be hard at work, are the only folks with enough time to bother posting answers? Hmm? Don't let the intellectual elitism fool you, people. These learned friends of ours are busy gettin' advanced degrees in Intarweb surfin!!!

Anyway, yes, a copy of the book it is. Except for Goof (Jesse.) Since she gave me the book in the first place, she gets Mad Libs - Dan Brown edition if they have them. Congratulations to all, and look for an email from me in the coming days to find out where exactly I should send your prize. Toodles until tomorrow!

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Dark Side of iTunes

A little over two years ago, I wrote a post about hidden songs in music and mentioned as a side note this whole business about syncing up Pink Floyd's album, Dark Side of the Moon, with The Wizard of Oz (also known as 'The Wizard of fluid ounces', according to Goof - scroll to the bottom of the linked post for the actual content.)

I want to revisit the topic again - not so much the sync up of the music to the movie as that's been covered ad nauseum, but the album itself. I just read this article on C/Net News. Dark Side has always enjoyed phenomenal success in record sales. It's spent close to 30 years on the Billboard Top 200 (chart of the 200 best selling albums) - a feat I can't even really wrap my mind around given the 'Here Today, Gone Tomorrow' aspect of the music industry these days. Now, it's sales are through the roof again - this time on Apple's iTunes (now the 3rd largest distributor of music in the world) where it's enjoying a 270% resurgence.

It's been years since I actually listened to the album in it's entirety, so I just now started playing it in the background, and yes, it's excellent. But, top seller for nearly 30 years, excellent? WHAT is it about this album that does it for so many people? Personally, I always enjoyed Piper At The Gates of Dawn a bit more (their first album - more trippy and fun) but there's no denying that Dark Side is more layered and complex. It's also, I suspect, a much more enjoyable album to get high too, which I can't help think might be the reason for it's success - at least in part. Anyway, something to ruminate over. For now, I'm going to lay back and maybe fall asleep with this album wafting trough the speakers. I'll let you know if I have any revelations in the morning. Night, folks.

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Saturday, June 30, 2007

No Googling Allowed!

After last night's escapades, I think I'm going to make it an early night tonight. So, instead of being boring and posting another YouTube clip, I'm going to post five, count 'em FIVE trivia questions from the new trivia book Goof sent me in the mail today. I won't mention the name of the book until I post the answers (I wouldn't want you to go run to the store and look 'em all up) but, needless to say, being the trivia hound that I am, I'm thrilled with Mr. FedEx man's most recent delivery.

The first person to correctly answer all five questions will receive some sort of prize for me which I haven't thought of yet. Prize expense will probably be determined by how much I like you. If I don't like you at all, I'll just say you cheated, provide no real evidence and disqualify you anyway. Sounds fair, right? Good. Ready? Here we go:
  1. What type of insect is kept in apiaries?
  2. Only three American presidential candidates won at least 520 electoral votes in their race for the White House. Who are they and how many votes did they get?
  3. How long have people cooked with chili peppers?
  4. Why should you be concerned if your elderly grandparent suddenly likes Rock and Roll?
  5. For what activity is baseball player Moe Berg best known?
Answers will be given in a future post along with the title of the book these questions came from. Good Luck, all you Cliff Claven wannabes!


Friday, June 29, 2007

Poop Airways

I hate getting up on a soapbox (so it therefore makes perfect sense for me to have a blog) but I feel I can no longer stay silent on this issue. It is time for me to hate on Continental Airlines.

Why here? Why now? Easy. I'm supposed to pick my sister and her family up at the airport - or rather, I was supposed to pick them up at the airport yesterday, but they've been stranded in Newark, NJ.

Now, some of it is the airport's fault (I've known from my days working in the travel industry to stay well away from Newark and Atlanta airports - delays like you wouldn't believe) but I, and now my sister, have had several bad travel experiences, and Continental has always been at the center of them.

Will you allow me to entertain you with a few travel horror stories? They'll be quick, I promise (unless of course, my sisters flight is delayed again. Then we might be here for a while.)
  • In 1999, I am flying from London to Boston via Newark on Continental (unfortunately I was rebooked on this flight, and flying through Newark was unavoidable.) I get pulled out of line twice (not Continental's fault, but it's part of the experience) and searched by London's finest. I imagine this is because I have both an Irish and an American passport (dual citizenship), long hair, a surly attitude, and at the time smoked like a chimney (which you could still do at Gatwick airport.) They probably thought I was an Irish terrorist. Anyway, we get to Newark without issue, but when I arrive I'm required to collect my bag so I have it with me when I go through customs. I do so, and when I finish, I put the bag on a conveyor belt for the trip to Boston, making it the last time I ever saw it. After six months and constant complaints, inventorying, and check-ins, Continental reimburses me $500 and calls it a day. Oh, and that flight out of Newark was delayed for three hours.
  • In March of '06 I fly Continental from Boston to Houston (first class on the way down thanks to the generosity of my cousin Brian who was using his miles to pay for the trip as a birthday present.) The flight down is delayed by an hour. The flight back by two. Otherwise, they were both very pleasant flights with good service.
  • This next one doesn't involve me, or anyone I know, at all but it seems so ridiculous that I had to mention it. Two weeks ago, an eight hour non-stop flight from Amsterdam to Newark ended up being a 32 hour ordeal with an unexpected layover in Shannon Airport in Ireland. That's not the worst part. Once they finally got airborne to Newark, the passengers had to deal with toilet sewage overflowing into the cabin (that link goes to the Boing Boing coverage of the story which provides several more links, including lengthy written accounts of the whole ordeal.
  • Yesterday, my sister is returning home with her family from a vacation to Europe and are flying from Barcelona to Boston via Newark on Continental. As the plane approaches Newark, they discover they're not allowed to land due to congestion and potential thunderstorms. The plane is instructed to circle until they're given the all clear to land. Unfortunately, the plane didn't have enough fuel to circle, so it was diverted to Newburgh, NY where it could refuel, and then proceed back to Newark, which it does. Unfortunately, however, almost everyone on the plane who had a connecting flight has now missed it, including my sister and her family. When attempting to rebook they find that all flights to Boston are canceled due to thunderstorms (which certainly didn't take place in Boston last night, although they may have in Newark - I'm not sure. When I talked to my sister yesterday, however, it was bright and sunny.) The earliest flight they could get booked onto was for 7:00 PM this evening. All well and good, however as you'll have noticed earlier in this post, I still haven't picked them up. The arrival time has been pushed back at least six times since it's scheduled departure - three of those coming since I started writing this post. The reasons given by the airline were that they were waiting for the plane to arrive from another flight, and when it finally did, they then had to wait for the crew - coming in from another flight - to show up. I have - just this minute (10:33 PM) - received a text message from my sister saying "Finally leaving!" and the flight status page on Continental's website indicates an arrival time as 11:43 PM, but it still lists the flight as "delayed."
OK - so looking back on it, this isn't so much a "hate on Continental" as it is an explanation of previous experiences with the airline, and my expressing an extreme reluctance to fly on the airline again given them (I could conceivably fly them to Houston again, if Brian wanted to provide the ticket. Ahem. Blatant hint there... Oh, hey there, gift horse! Nice mouth!) I understand that bad airline experiences are a common occurrence and that everyone has one - on every airline - but there are too many incidents here to ignore, and I think I'm finally getting the hint. Thanks for letting me vent, amigos. Until mañana.

[Update 06/30/07 - 02:10 AM: Just got home after dropping sister and family off at her place. She thought I should mention that Newark Airport was almost entirely to blame for her travel woes over the past couple of days - particularly this evening. They brought all ground traffic to a halt which is why both the plane and the crew couldn't get there in time. So, apologies to Continental for the rush to judgment. But, I still want my suitcase back.

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