Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Trying to be One of Those Guys

When I was still living at home and before my mom got me that sweet gig working at a muffin cart, I had to come up with $200 a month for room and board. Not a lot of cash certainly and considering the circumstances (read: stupid kid should be out of the house by now), very reasonable. However, it did mean that I needed gainful employment and as I may have stated earlier, I had no marketable skills. That's not entirely true. If you needed a surly, ill-tempered guy to stack things on a shelf or be vaguely rude to your customers then I was your guy. Problem being that I didn't have my driver's license yet so my options were somewhat limited as far as travel was concerned.

So every day I'd take the paper and scour it for jobs that a big dummy like me could handle and were close enough to public transportation. This is when I came across an ad from Greenpeace. "Holy hell!" I thought, "Greenpeace is like a group that I can get behind! I can do some work for those peeps surely." The office was on Centre St. in Jamaica Plain which at the time might as well have been on Mars to me. I had no frickin' clue where that was. I asked my dad who drove a truck all day in Boston and all he said was that it was pretty far away. I'm sure he was conflicted because on the one hand he wanted me to get a job but when I mentioned that it was working for Greenpeace he sighed and said "Oh, so you want to be one of THOSE guys?" I have to admit that I'm still not entirely sure what he meant by that. There are a number of interpretations certainly but I think he meant I'd be one of those annoying people who ring your doorbell on a Saturday morning trying to get you to give them a donation. Either that or he was annoyed with me for once again not understanding what he considered a real job to be.

After a bus ride, train ride and a walk I finally made it to the Greenpeace office. There were people sitting around in a meeting of some sort (so should have been a drum circle or something...that would have ruled) and there was no one at the receptionist's area at all. I stood there trying to look like I wasn't annoyed for a good 10 minutes before some schmuck came by and asked me if I was looking for someone. I told him about the ad in the paper and he said "Oh dude, that's what this meeting is all about! C'mon over!" Oh, see, there's absolutely no way I could have fucking known that Chad, so maybe you douches need to work on your communication skills and knock off the hacky-sack practice. 'kay? 'Kay.

I follow my new enemy over to the group and he motions to a pillow on the floor (not kidding) as if to say "Take a seat, dude". I just assumed that this guy says dude after every sentence. I opted to stand. I could hear my dad's voice saying "Get out of there now stupid. You will HATE this." but I of course ignored it. He doesn't know everything right? Wrong. Apparently I hadn't missed much in the time that I had been waiting because they were still in the let's-go-around-the-room-and-give-a-brief-reason-for-being-here stage. "Hi, I'm Mark and my mom says I need to pay her two hundy a month or she'll stop cleaning my underwear. Really, though, can't I just fill out an application or some shit?" There were probably 15-20 people in the meeting and from what I remember most of them were newbies answering the ad from the paper. I looked around and it was pretty clear that I was the only one who maybe didn't understand it was about mother earth not the commissions.

The head nozzle basically told all us recruits that we would be sent out with an experienced canvasser for a couple of days and then we'd meet with him to see if a) we were still interested and b) if the trainer thought we could do the job. Oh, and these 2 days would be unpaid. How's that for a red flag? Yea, I ignored that one too. We all piled into a few shitty vans and then headed out to an area where some chumps had previously given to Greenpeace. In this case it was Nahant. The van dumped us all off and then my trainer douche and I started walking around a pretty nice neighborhood near the coast. He had a stack of leads that were not quite the GlenGarry leads but maybe had a couple of guilt-ridden folks in there.

The big selling point for this campaign was how many poopy diapers we as Americans throw away and how they're now choking the landfills. Nice opening huh? Hey, I know you're a really busy new parent with limited time and money but stop using disposable diapers. SLAM! Soooooooo many doors got slammed in our faces. Or people would open the door, listen for a sec and then politely decline to donate. Or people just wouldn't answer the door at all (which is the option I would have gone with personally...but I would have been glaring at us from the upstairs room until we gave up and walked away..now you know Jehovah's Witnesses! Just look up and you'll see me there just behind the curtains!). But every now and then he'd get someone to donate. And they were pretty decent donations too. So I had witnessed my trainer douche actually making his commission. Not that hard at all I thunked.

The next day we did pretty much the same thing but in Duxbury. Apparently there are a LOT of people in that town that have money to donate so my trainer douche did really well. I think we were offering a magazine or a newsletter as a thank you for the donation maybe? I forget the incentive other than alleviating middle-class guilt. After we got back to the office (which was after a long-ass day too by the way) I met with the head nozzle and told him that I was still interested and could start the next day. I went home and told my parents that I had accepted the job and would be a contributing member of society soon enough. They were unimpressed and if I remember correctly there may have been some head shaking.

My first day as a canvasser for Greenpeace started out with a cramped van ride from the office back to Duxbury. I remember one guy asking everyone in the van who they thought was the best guitar player of all time. Really? That's what you want to talk about? It depends, ok? How's that for an answer? I can tell you it isn't anyone from The Greatful Dead or Little Feat ok? I survived that conversation and when we got to the neighborhood I'd be covering they gave me a clipboard, a small outline of a script (chock full of fun bullet points such as Japanese whaling, poopy diapers lasting 200+ years and strip mining in Russia) a stack of names and addresses of people who had donated in the past and sent on my merry way.

I remember walking up to the first door and having a guy from the window next to the door say "Don't bother, I'm not giving this year." Wow. This is gonna be an awesome job. It took another 10 houses before I was even allowed to get all the way through my spiel. And that lady only gave me $10. I think she had to give at least $18 for the newsletter thing. So, let's do the math. I've been out here for about 2.5 hours, had people tell me to get off their porch and I've made 3% of $10. Best. Job. Ever. At this point I had come to the conclusion that maybe this wasn't going to be my career choice after all but I still had another hour and a half before the van would come back for me to take me to the next neighborhood. I was in the middle of some neighborhood looking very much like the proverbial sore thumb when I thought that maybe I'd just go sit on a rock until the van showed up. That's when the cops came.

Now, the head nozzle had contacted the police to let them know that we'd be in these neighborhoods (I think it was like a permit deal too) but someone hadn't gotten that message. The cop car pulled up and the cop in the passenger seat turned the big ol' spotlight on me. At 11:30 in the morning. Sun not bright enough sir? No? Ok, you have the gun so I'll go with your judgement on this one. They asked me what I was doing and it was a much more existential question than they had anticipated. What WAS I doing? Jesus Christ I need a ride home so bad.

The cops left me to my rock and the van showed up a couple of minutes later. I told the head nozzle what had happened and he got all flustered about being "hassled by the cops". Huh? Wasn't it me that this happened to? And it wasn't really all that bad. They asked me who I was and what I was doing, they checked my stuff and that was the end of that. Calm down trust-fund hippy. Find something else over which to launch your protest about the man. Now this is when I should have told him that I wanted out and didn't want to go walk around another neighborhood for 3 more hours please. But as you may have guessed, I didn't do that. I figured that maybe it was just a bad morning or neighborhood or something and that I should give this another full try before bailing. At the next house the woman actually let me in and had me sit at her kitchen table until the husband came home and kicked me out sans donation. We had a nice chat at least though. I didn't mention poopy diapers once.

The van picked me back up at the end of the day and we drove back to the office. Everyone else had had fantastic days and really connected with the people of the community and made a difference and SHUT UP ALREADY! I get it! I'm no good at this. Now, let me out near the train station so I can go home and watch my father slowly shake his head as I tell him I quit on the third day and no I will not be getting paid.

Now-a-days when I see the canvassers in Boston I feel some empathy for them but I still cross the street so I don't have to listen to them talk about 200-year-old strained pea poopy diapers.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Supah Powers

I have a super power. I have the ability to look at someone as soon as they spit. ... Hey, I didn't say it was a great ability, but it's mine and I'm going to own it. I can be walking down the street (not likely by the way...I'm lazy), driving behind someone or even just looking out the window and I'll see someone spit. That is to say, the person may not even want to spit but if I look at them, they spit. At least that's what I suspect. See, I'm not a spitter. I can't for the life of think of the last time I just spit on the sidewalk or whatever. I just, well, don't do that. So, either EVERYONE ELSE spits, or I have a super power that compells people to spit when I happen to glance at them in public. I think I could quickly look over at a nun and she'd hork something horrible up and let it fly.

To sum up: people are gross and need to cut that shit out.

(To clarify: I'm not saying that the people look at me and then spit. That I'd understand..no, I'm saying they have no idea that I'm looking at them when this occurs)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Old Man

My 20th high school reunion is today. Holy piss. This is distressing not in the "where has the time gone" kind of way but more like "there's no fucking way I can really be that old, can I?" Oh hell yes I can. And am.

Until recently I was really only in touch with about 5 people from high school. With the advent of Facebook I've been in contact (sort of) with some more people (come to find out that one of them actually works for the same company I work for. Small world). My high school experience was one of non-participation. I just didn't buy into anything really. Maybe I should have, I dunno. It may have made the time there more interesting certainly. The friends that I hung around with back then also weren't really interested in doing typical high school stuff (well, typical sanctioned high school stuff at any rate), so we just kinda didn't have a real involved connection with the school. It was just a place that we had to go to.

It's only with hindsight that I can see the benefit of having a more involved school experience. High school for me wasn't an awful time but it wasn't particularly pleasant either. It just kind of ... was. I didn't have a choice so I went. It was kind of like having a crappy job. But along the way I met some pretty cool people who made it tolerable. I didn't keep in touch with a lot of those people over the last (jesus christ) 20 years though and seeing some of them might be interesting but I don't want to make those reconnections at an official reunion. Maybe that's due in part to the not having a connection to the school. I don't associate places with time or memories. I'd rather go grab a beer or something. That way we can fully enjoy the uncomfortable silences and awkward lulls in conversation more fully.

I know that some of the people that I've seen on Facebook are going to this reunion tonight and that's great for them. I just can't do it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Cost of Living Here

Ok, so living in this part of the country is expensive. Last year I tried (and failed) to cut down on my commuting costs by taking mass transit. That didn't work out so well. Economically it makes the most sense for me to take the train in but ... I really can't take the train and not end up in prison. Plus, they recently upped the parking lot fees at the train station from $2 to $4 per day. That's significant.

I drive to work (car-pooling with the Wiff) and while not the cheapest way to go, it is by far the quickest and most likely to let me retain my sanity. We live north of Boston so in order to get to our office here in Cambridge we have a few options: One is the Tobin Bridge which is constantly under repair or painting or some other bullshit and therefore almost constantly choked with other cars. There's also the fact that in order to get to our office we'd have to go over another littler bridge that is also choked with cars. It's not a quick route. And the toll on the bridge is $2.50 (since we have the E-Z Pass doo-dad).

Another route is to take Rt. 16 all the way from Revere to Everett and then jump on Rt. 99 and even typing that sentence made me cringe. That route would also dump us onto the shitty little Gilmore bridge over by Bunker Hill that is constantly choked with cars. Not a decent option but, no toll. Just lots, and I do mean lots, of lights. Please to remember that I drive a 5-speed and stopping and starting sucks balls.

The third option is our current one. That is to take the airport tunnels (Sumner and Callahan). As of right now the tolls (which are only for going INTO Boston not LEAVING Boston thankfully) are $3 (again with the doo-dad). However, these are poised to increase to $6 come February or March of 2009. Holy fucking fuck people. That is some Grade A bull poop. That will mean that our current toll costs will increase from $60 a month to $120. This irks me.

What to do? Aside from winning the lottery (please baby jeebus? please?), it looks like I'll be choosing option #2 or some variance come next year. Why not go with the Tobin? Well I figure that the bulk of the people who, like me, refuse to pay the increased toll for the tunnel will be taking the Tobin instead. I already didn't like taking the bridge to begin with so adding another say 20-30,000 pissed-off drivers per day onto that dilapidated structure isn't an option I'm willing to consider. I'll do the stop-and-go portion of Rt. 16 to 99. I won't like it, but I'll do it.

There is also talk of increasing the state gas tax rather than increasing the tolls. I'm more in favor of that because it more evenly spreads the burden across all of drivers in the state. Plus, we have a pretty low (based on national average) tax as it stands right now (23.5 cents/gallon). I guess the biggest annoyance is that all of this debate over whether to raise the tolls or the gas tax is all due to the amazingly shitty job they did managing the cost of the Big Dig. All $15 billion+ of it. I'm sure the peeps in the state who never even use the "improvements" that the Big Dig made would much rather have the toll increase but this isn't their blog so f 'em. Heh.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Found Some Pictures

I was poking around in the batch of pictures that I have and I came across a couple of gems. The first one is of my dad at my sister Theresa's first birthday party (this is the apartment where I grew up. I still have dreams that take place at ol' 70 Linwood Street). I just love the look on his face. I can't decide if it's just a really happy expression or a "Holy shit this is for real now, thank god for beer!" look. I'm gonna go with the former. Plus I like the super-pale legs blending into his white socks.


The second one is my mom with what appears to be a gang of angry teenagers. The pic says it's from 1958 so that would make her 22 or so here. My mom is the one in the center of the pic with the dark shorts and pudgy knees. Even though she looks like she's about to kick the ass of whomever is taking the picture I'm pretty sure it's just the sun in her eyes. Plus, she only kicked ass with a wooden spoon in her hand. And I don't mean cooking. That shit hurts.

I miss them a lot.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama Gets My Vote

I voted for Barack Obama today. It felt...right. It felt as good as voting for Clinton in '92 (and waaaaaaay better than voting for Kerry in the last election..nevermind Dukakis in '88 when I broke my voting cherry. He wasn't gentle at all). But this was different. I think I can say that this was the first presidential election where I was honestly voting FOR a canidate rather than AGAINST the other canidate. Now all I (and everyone else too I suppose) do now is wait. And worry. I just want to plop down in front of CNN and make myself crazy. Must...resist. I'm gonna put up the new insulated shades in the dining room and pretend that I'm not freaking out.

UPDATE: Hoooooooooraaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ow ow Quit It ow ow

So I dun cracked a toof. When I went to the dentist last week to get my teefs cleaned I mentioned to the hygentist that I thought that I had a cavity on one of my molar things. Turns out it is actually a crack in the backside of the toof. We took some lovely x-rays (bite wings they called them. I've heard of "bat wings" before... Oh, that's rich! Am I right fellas?! ahem..sorry) and the dentist dude came in and said that since the one in question is possibly cracked that I should come back the next day so he can "drill out the old filling and see what's going on underneath". Ugh. Oh! And do you know what sucks? Having a dude banging some metal thing like a frickin' hammer on your cracked tooth over and over again. Yea, that sucks real hard.

The next day I went back and he did just that, confirming in the process that my tooth is fucked and I'm going to need a crown. But I don't need it right away because he ground down the back of the tooth so that when my jaw is closed, the tooth won't come in contact with the teeth above it. He also put in a temporary medicated filling (which I didn't know existed). He then told me to call him on Monday (which is today actually) and let him know how it feels. This will determine whether or not I have to get the work done right away or if I can wait for a bit.

It is now Monday and I don't wanna get the work done right away. I feel ok and the sensitivity to cold liquids is gone (that's initially what made me think I had a cavity). This post may actually be the world's most boring post of all time but you still read the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oh Canada!

Overheard this morning at my dentist's office:

Three older women (mid to late 60's) sitting not anywhere near each other in the waiting room (each one in a separate corner). The eldest one picks up a magazine and makes a "Huh!" noise. She then looks over at the woman in the direct opposite corner and holding up the Newsweek with The Demon Sarah Palin on the cover (nice up-to-date magazines there Mr. Dentist Guy) says "Gladys! Look at her! I bet she HATES this cover!". Gladys does a snort and says "At least she's white!" I swear to fucking god. My jaw STILL hurts from hitting the floor. The third lady says "Yea, and I think she's pretty. I LOVE her glasses!"

We're fucking doomed. I'm moving to Canada.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fire Good, Cat Snot Bad

Yesterday was the first real chilly day where it was cold enough (41°F outside when I woke up) to have a fire going all day. I still haven't seen just how this fireplace insert will perform when the temperatures outside get seriously cold but it'll be interesting (to me anyway). I thought I'd shoot a quick video of the fire going but Oliver (one of our cats) decided that rubbing his face on my hand was way more important.



For whatever reason, he is terrified of the Wiff when she walks down the stairs. I dunno why exactly. I think it's her shoes. They make a clunk-clunk sound and it freaks him out. He's a bit of a weenie. That's why he takes off at the end of the video, she dared to come down the stairs.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Open Letter to the crow that sits outside my office window

Hi Crow, it's me, the guy behind that big clear thing. No, it's solid. Yes, it's called glass. No, there's no way you can "just fly right through it". Really. I'm not kidding. But that's not what I wanted to talk to you about. Y'see, here's the thing...I HAVE to sit here behind this window because that's where my desk and all my work stuff is. No, don't make me explain that to you. It's just ... look, I like you. Honestly. You have like nice feathers or whatever and you can fly so that's cool...but you keep fucking crowing every 15 goddamn seconds. I timed it. Yea, I know that's what crows do. I understand that. Right, you're a crow so the whole "crowing" goes along with that. But my point that I'm struggling to make is that you don't have to do that right fucking here. This is a big area, you could totally do that somewhere else. Hell, even if you just really dig sitting on this building, maybe you could go to the other side of the building and do that CAW! CAW! CAW! CAW! bullshit over there before I shoot you with a motherfucking BB gun.

Just a suggestion.

-yer pal, Mark

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mike Schank RULES

I watched "American Movie" last night and lemme tells ya, what a fantastic documentary. I can't for the life of me remember who recommended it to me (Chris maybe? or did I just read about it somewheres? Like Pajiba? A.V. Club? I dun'member), but I had actually forgotten that it was even in my Netflix queue. So when it showed up Thursday I was like, oh yea, I wanted to see that. I'm really passionate about stuff huh?

But goddamn this movie rules. Specifically, MIKE SCHANK RULES. He is the king of non-sequitors. He's like a hairier, less verbal Karl Pilkington. Observe please (Mike's the guy in the purple hat):



But above all the Mike Schank-ness the movie itself is a great story about Mark Borchardt and his journey to get his short independent film "Coven" made while trying to keep the chaos that is his life from spinning out of control. Does he succeed? I ain't sayin'. Just watch the movie. You'll be glad you did.

UPDATE:
I have been informed that it was Jackie and Solh who told me about this movie. That makes sense since they call their oven "Oven". See the movie and you'll know how to pronounce that.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Me Am Cultured

The Wiff and I went to my sister Mary's opening last night at the Laconia Lofts Gallery in the SoWa district of Boston's South End. The show looks great and it was a chance to see Mary's stuff as well pieces from Sara Hairston-Medice and Resa Blatman. We took some pics and they came out ok but the flash tends to wash out the details as well as make big..uh, flashes on the pieces, but here they are at any rate:


this is in the lobby of the building.


one of Mary's.


another..the camera had a hard time with the colors.


and another..


this is an installation of some of Sara's work..so cool.


more of Sara's work..these are hanging from the ceiling in the corner.


Sara again.


this is a ginormous piece by Resa that greets you as you enter the gallery.


More of Resa's. This was the Wiff's favorite.


Another of Resa's. I kept coming back to this one.

So, yeah. Go there and take a look for yourself.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Oral Hygiene

I have a quick-ish question: during your daily ablutions when you come to the brushing the teeth portion of the festivities, how do you apply the toothpaste to the teefs?

For to be examples please:

1. dry toothbrush, apply toothpaste, start brushing

2. dry toothbrush, apply toothpaste, wet toothbrush under faucet, start brushing

3. wet toothbrush under faucet, apply toothpaste, start brushing

4. wet toothbrush under faucet, apply toothpaste, wet toothbrush under faucet again, start brushing

5. forgo the whole toothbrush thing completely and just start mashing toothpaste on your teeth with your fingers

I'll tell you what I do. I'm a #4. Although I will sometimes be a #3. Are there other options on the brushing the teeth front of which I am unaware? Might you educate me on this? You might rabbit, you might. Leave yer comments please...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

5-Song Shuffle (again)

I'm gonna do one of these again. Kind of a cop-out on the posting front but this shuffle is a bit different in that I'm using the music that's on my computer as opposed to just what's on my MP3 player-thingie. So there's more stuff to shuffle is what I'm getting at...

1. Deftones - Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)
2. Beastie Boys - Root Down
3. Throwing Muses - I'm Alive
4. Silver Jews - Federal Dust
5. Cat Power - Fool

That one didn't satisfy. I'm-a-gonna shuffle another 5.

1. Madvillain - Sickfit
2. Judas Priest - Screaming for Vengeance
3. P.J. Harvey - Beautiful Feeling
4. Minor Threat - I Don't Wanna Hear It
5. The Pipettes - Pull Shapes

Ahhhhh. That's better. A thoroughly confusing mix.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More Wicked Good Ahhhhht

Hey interweb peeps. My sister Mary is having an opening October 3rd (it's a Friday). The show is called "Overflow" and it is at Laconia Lofts Gallery in Boston. Go and see it and stuff.

By the way, the Drawn to Detail show is still up at the DeCordova through January so get crackin' folks. That is all. I now return you to your regularly scheduled goofing off.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Shutup Billy

I was in a training this week from Tuesday until Thursday and I was glad to have the break from my routine (although driving down Rt. 128 at 7:30 a.m. with a 5-speed is not fun: 1st gear, 2nd gear...1st gear, 2nd gear...3RD GEAR!...1st gear, etc). The class itself was helpful and I think there's some things that I can use but for the most part it was lost on me not because of the topic or the materials or the fact that I'm a big dummy but because of Billy Joel. Yep. Billy Joel won't shut the hell up in my head for some reason.

Lemme 'splain. About 2 or 3 weeks ago I happened across the BBC broadcast of a show Billy Joel did for them back in 1978. I guess it was the first time it was broadcast in the states and PBS was showing it during their beg-athon. So hey, cool I haven't heard some of these songs in a while and who doesn't like a little Billy Joel every now and then? Seemed harmless enough. So I watched it and it was a good show. I'm not a head-over-heels fan or anything but that band and those songs will always be welcome in my world.

Then it happened. I'd be doing something, anything really and all of a sudden the song "Movin' Out" would creep into my head. It's been in there interrupting my thoughts for a good 2 weeks now. All during the class, the instructor would be talking and I'd be listening and then all of a sudden "...he's trading in his Chevy for a Cadillac-ACK! ACK! ACK! ACK! ACK!" would spring up and just ruin any chance of me grasping whatever concept was being offered. I tried staring at the instructor and really concentrating on what he was saying but ultimately that just made In-My-Head-Billy louder and more apt to mix verses which, in my anal retentive ways, made me have to correct In-My-Head-Billy and make him sing the corrected verse over. And over.

No, In-My-Head-Billy; Anthony is the one who works in the grocery store and is saving his pennies. It's Sgt. O'Leary who works at Mr. Cacciatores (down on Sullivan Street). Get it right will ya?

You outta know by now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Why I'm Not In Theater

When I was a chubby third grader, the music teacher at my elementary school tapped me to play Santa in the annual 3rd grade Christmas pageant. Thanks Mrs. Whatever-the-Hell-Your-Name-Was! My self-esteem will be perfectly fine! Nothing says "Please don't notice that I'm the fat kid" like being cast as the fattest guy ever! Awesome.

So blah blah blah I'm in the play. I remember the rehearsals and how I had to come out from the fireplace (which was a real fricking mantle too by the way). I would stand behind the curtain and wait for my cue and then emerge from the mantle/fireplace which was right in front of where I was standing. I had like 5 lines but they were THE MOST IMPORTANT LINES IN THE PLAY! They summed up the whole "Peace on Earth, good will towards man" rigmarole that the faculty was clumsily trying to hammer into our tiny skulls. I had to wait for my cue, come out of the mantle (on my goddamn hands and knees), walk over to one of my elves (who was a girl that I had a HUGE crush on...so that's not awkward), put my hand on her shoulder and say my lines. Not a huge amount of things to remember certainly.

My buddy Stephen was a coo-coo bird in a clock (hey, c'mon..they have to create a role for everyone in the class) and he stood with his head poking out of his clock stage left of the mantle thing (see what I did there? with the fancy theater jargon?). His main role was to announce the scenes kind of like a narrator (it's hard to remember just how involved he was but it isn't really important. Just know that he's there next to the mantle-thing. And when I'm at center stage with my hand on the shoulder of my 3rd grade crush, he is the only other person on the stage with us). He knew that I liked this girl (Jennifer maybe? Ann-Marie? I forget...I'm old now) and would tease me endlessly about the fact that I was being forced to not only talk to her but touch her too.

We had probably 5 rehearsals or so and everything went well enough that it was determined that we could do the show as scheduled in the cafeteria in front of the whole school. This means that not only would it be the other 3rd grade classes but the other classes as well. Oh, and our parents. And brothers and sisters. And pretty much everyone we knew up until that point in our little lives. I'm sure this will go smoothly and not be traumatic at all.

So the day of the play comes and I can't remember just how long the thing was but if memory serves it was frickin' looooooooong. My big moment was at the end of this train wreck so I have to stand behind the heavy, heavy curtain in a scratchy, shitty Santa suit with my buddy Stephen occasionally leaning back from his clock opening and laughing at me. I don't hang out with Stephen anymore. Then all of a sudden my cue is about to come up! Holy crap! Here it comes! I'm gonna have to go out there soon. My mom's out there! And my little sister! And everybody else! And here I am with the MOST IMPORTANT LINES IN THE PLAY! And just before I'm supposed to go through the mantle and crawl like an asshole to my feet and say my amazingly important, theme summarizing, world uniting lines Mrs. Whatever-the-Hell-Her-Name-Was comes back behind the curtain with me and stuffs a frickin' pillow under my costume to make me look fatter! Oh fantastic. This wasn't in the rehearsals.

Here's the thing. She put the pillow in sideways so that it was wider than it was big. Wider than, say, the opening to the mantle for instance. Can you see it coming? I didn't. So, pillow gets stuffed with no quality control at all, and I force my way through the opening in the curtain and emerge from the fireplace right on goddamn cue. I'm a fucking professional, people. I struggle to my feet (which was harder to do with that big ol' pillow in the way) and march over to my true love to deliver my mind blowing lines. That's when I notice her expression. She looked terrified. I heard a weird noise and then Stephen said "Maaaark! Look oooooooouuuuut!" That can't be a good sign can it?

I turn just in time to have the frickin' wooden mantle slam down on my right foot. Then all the decorations which were all in some way attached to the mantle (don't do that by the way...) came crashing down one by one. Giant candles down. Giant wreaths down. Coo-coo clock thing down. All stringers and/or garland down. Christmas tree down. Every-fucking-thing down. Plus, everyone else on the stage bailed. People on the side of the stage bailed. Except me. I stood my ground partly because of the giant wooden thing on my foot and partly because the big pillow made a quick escape kind of difficult. Then the laughing started. It was my Carrie moment minus having the ability to make them all pay.

So I'm standing in the middle of the stage all by myself with all of Lincoln Elementary (and their parents) laughing at me. Can you relate? No, you cannot fucking relate. The janitor dude comes out and lifts the mantle off my foot (thanks Mister) and Mrs. Whatever-the-Hell-Her-Name-Was says to me "Say your lines!". WHAAAAAAT?! Are you mad? I'm 8 years old and I want to murder everyone here starting with you and you want me to say these lines about peace and love now? NOW?! She pushes the girl out to meet me on the stage and I do just that. I finish the show. The show must go on and goddamn it it did. All the decorations were on the ground, the janitor with his giant ring of keys is now holding the mantle in place (hmmm...maybe they should have anchored that somehow), and my right foot is swelling up but I finished that frickin' play.

All I can say is thank jeebus himself that no one had a video camera or 8mm thing running at the time. I don't remember much of what happened after that.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Conversation Whiplash

Last night was the opening of Drawn to Detail, the show at the DeCordova Museum that my sister Mary is in. The turnout was really good and the show itself was excellent. I'd never been to the DeCordova before and it's an amazing space. There were a couple of exhibits in the show to which I was drawn (ha! see what I did there? with the "drawn" reference thing? no? moving on...). Laura Kim's stuff is gorgeous. Daniel Zeller has this attention to detail and a way of adding so much depth to his abstracts that I literally could have stood in front of them for hours. There's so much stuff to see in this show (which runs through January 2009) that I definitely recommend making the trip out to Lincoln, Ma.

Also, my Playstation 3 is back from the dead! After a harrowing 18 days of no Grand Theft Auto and a lot of weeping openly into my scotch, it is back! When I sent it back to Sony I was under the impression that they were just going to send me a different one but they just fixed mine and sent it back to me. I prefer that honestly. We've been through so much together that I'd feel cheap playing with different console (unless it's the Wii which also rules by the way). Plus, bonus! This weekend is supposed to be all rainy and gross so how's that for a reason to not bathe and play games in my own filth all weekend? Hooray!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Go See This

Hello Interweb peeps. It is now time for proud bruddah pluggings.

My sister Mary is in a show at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Ma. The show is called "Drawn to Detail" and it is showing from August 30th (that's tomorrow) through January 4th. The opening night is this upcoming Thursday, September 4th from 7 - 9 pm. Click on the linky thing there to get more details. I'll be there, will you? Come on down if you're in the area and see some wicked good ahhhhht.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Quick Update

The coffin for the PS3 arrived on Friday and at this very moment it is on its way back to Japan. I'm told that the new one will arrive within a week or so. Hope so...those virtual missions aren't gonna solve themselves.

In Neon news: the Neon is gone. They were scheduled to come pick it up for the donation tomorrow (Monday) but on Friday when we got home, there was a big ol' flatbed truck waiting for us. They loaded the car and off they went. It didn't even occur to me until after they were gone that maybe I should have taken one last picture of the little car. Meh. I did the typical Irish Catholic thing and pretended that nothing was wrong.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rest in Peace Playstation 3

On Sunday August 17th my Playstation 3 passed away suddenly of optical drive cancer. It was 9 months old. Funeral services will be held in Japan as soon as arrangements can be made. Playstation 3 leaves behind many games such as GTA IV and Gran Turismo 5 Prologue.

When reached for a comment I said, "Motherfucker work! Work damn you! Don't you leave me! Don't you LEAVE ME!" and then began sobbing like a little bitch. A wake will be held in my living room tonight and every night until I can get the replacement back from Sony. Scotch and bitterness will be served.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Everybody Has Their Own Opinion

Back in 1991 I was living in semi-squalor in Jamaica Plain (Haverford Street HOLLA!). I'm not saying the apartment was messy but that was only because my roommates and I didn't own much of anything. We had a stack of empty beer bottles that we would store next to the refrigerator until we had accumulated enough empties to turn in to buy a case of beer. We'd load them into my roomie Sterling's (also known as "Girl-ing") little pickup and zip over to Blanchard's on Center St. and repeat the process.

My room was (eventually) the little one off of the kitchen at the back of the house. I had a mattress (no bed frame...not even a box spring, just a full-size mattress on the floor. What's up ladies?), a bass amp and a bunch of milk crates into which I crammed all my clothes. Our apartment was the first floor of a triple decker and we got broken into a few times. Once they dumped my other roomie Dave's change jar onto his bed and took only the nickles, dimes and quarters. That takes TIME people. They actually picked through my CDs and didn't take any. Well, fuck you too Mr. Crackhead burglar. I have excellent taste in music thank you very much.

Right next to our house was an empty lot where the neighborhood kids would play a hybrid version of football and soccer. Basically it was soccer played with an football that had a slow leak. The rules of said game were in a constant flux. This usually meant that they would end up playing in our yard too which was fine really since we weren't using it. They had spilled into our yard so many times during these marathon games that I'm not sure we could have kept them out even if we wanted to. It had become common ground to them. I would typically drown out their shrieking with obnoxiously loud music and/or booze (I must have been a terrible roommate actually. I was dirt poor and really bad at managing what money I did have. I was constantly late with rent and my share of the bills plus I was loud. Wow, I suck). But one day the kids ruined me.

I had been trying to teach myself the bass guitar for a while (although never really committing to it in a significant way so every time I got the urge to pick it up and try again it was like starting at square one) so I was in my room with the bass amp up too loud trying to learn the opening of "Mountain Song" by Jane's Addiction (shut up. It was 1991). I would play the song on the CD and then try to mimic it not really knowing what I was doing (tuning? what's that? don't these things come, like, pre-tuned or whatever?). Over and over again I did this eventually making some progress in that it sort of almost sounded somewhat close if you tilted your head and had never heard the original song.

I was kinda psyched about my mad skills and then I noticed that it was now really, really quiet outside. I turned to look out one of the windows and was greeted with about 5 or 6 grinning faces all piled comically around the window. "What're you doin'?" one of them asked in a sing-song voice. "I'm, uh, playing the bass." I said and actually stood up to show them. "You're not very good." a little girl in the corner of the window said and they all burst into peals of laughter that at this very moment I can hear. Fuckers. They then took off and went back to making the world a more shrill place.

I'd like to say that I persevered and overcame my critics (especially since they were 7 years old, 8 tops) but I haven't. I eventually gave the amp and crappy bass to a friend who was in a band and needed them. At home right now I have another bass amp and bass guitar (no idea what kind..) and I'm thinking I should try again. Gone are the dreams of being like Bruce Foxton but maybe I can have some fun. Plus, I'll practice on the 2nd floor so the little shithead kids in my neighborhood can't offer their opinions.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Special Treat in my Lunch!

I love Peggy Lawton Choco-Chip cookies with all of my black little heart. The Wiff snuck a pack into my lunch (yes, I'm 5 years old) and I did a little dance in my cube. Hooray Amy!

Everything is Wet

Summer and I do not get along. I don't enjoy the heat and jeebus knows I don't handle humidity well. But this summer has been excessively humid in the Boston area. Every year I forget what it means to have a dewpoint in the high 60's or lower 70's but when it hits and then stays for months...I cease to function. Yes, I know I said the same thing about winter with the snow and blah blah blah but it still holds true that winter also overstays its welcome.

One of the worst parts about how many sticky, humid days as well as all the rain we've been getting lately is that everything in my house feels moist. Gah, that's a gross little word. mmmooooiisssssssssstt. It just feels damp. About 3 years ago we bought our first set of brand new living room furniture. This was a new concept for both of us having grown up with hand-me-down stuff as well as furnishing several apartments and eventually our house with a hodge-podge of stuff we got (mostly) for free over the years. I'm not putting down mix-and-match decorating but it just was time for us to have stuff that matched. So we bought it and it looks lovely.


an older pic but the layout is the same.

Here's the rub. We didn't opt for the stain guard chemical thing and we really should have. Not so much for the occassional spilling of beverage and/or dropping a bit of chicken tikki masala, but more so for the ... how do I put this ... summer months? You see? It's hot out? No air conditioning? ew(I should point out that this really only applies to my chair and not so much the couch where the Wiff tends to sit. She's nowhere near as gross as I am). And I'd like very much to shampoo the furniture but goddammit everything is already wet with the humidity. So I have to wait until the drier months come so that the cleaner will actually dry.

Also, I'm thinking we made a mistake buying furniture stuffed with down. I think (no actual proof mind you) that it feels hotter in the summer months than say foam would. I dunno just bring on September already will ya?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gotta Have It...Not Sure Why

I like to collect things. Even when I was a little kid (with a giant head) I collected stuff. I had quite bunch of Matchbox cars for instance. I remember being about 12 or so and thinking that I had outgrown my little car collection so I gave them to my cousin who was about 5 or so. Flash forward about a month later and my family goes to his house for a cookout. And there's little cousin-o-mine sitting on the sidewalk smashing MY CARS with a hammer. "They got in a crash." he said, as I was held back by my sisters. I vowed then and there that I would hoard shit that no one really needs to be hoarding.

I eventually moved on to comic books (of course), little toys (like weird little figures and stuff like that) and music (albums, cassettes and much later CDs). This new fangled thing with digital music kinda bums me out cuz I like to HAVE the thing, be it 7-inch, 12-inch, CD or whatever. I like the physical item. Now they're just files on my computer, more convenient sure but not tangible and collectible. I also did a dumb thing (shocking I know) when I was extra poor in the early 90's. I sold a bunch of comics and records so's that I could continue to have a roof over my huge melon. I have since been trying to slowly get those things back. I don't think I'll be able to afford the comics that I sold but I can at least rip friends CDs to get some of the music back. The Wiff and I bought a record player thingie that you can use to turn your albums into MP3 files. I have yet to use it but I like the idea. Most of my records are gone now but the Wiff still has a bunch (about 500 or so maybe). I should see if there's anything good in there worth converting. She has some questionable tastes though (ahem...80's hair metal...ahem).

So collecting..yes. Back when I found out my sister was preggers with my nephew Cam I thought it would be awesome to get him a bunch of Matchbox cars (generic term for me by the way. I don't like calling them die-cast cars cuz that sounds stoopid. Say it to yourself: Bleah, right?). So I went out and did just that. But of course the collecting gene kicked in and not only did I get him some cars, but I got myself some too. And then I got some more...pretty soon I had amassed quite a bunch of them. But goddammit it if I didn't have a blast.

There is a tipping point for me with a collection. I don't know exactly what the formula is that will turn me off of the latest obsession and focus my attention on the next shiny, shiny thing but price is a factor for sure. I had started grabbing up these little vinyl figures called Dunnys from Kid Robot in NY a few years ago and I now have a bunch of them. But the price went up to $8 a piece and that just was too much for me. I couldn't justify spending actual real money on them anymore. I still really like them (they come out with a new collection or two every year), I'm just not buying. But goddamn that Kid Robot site along with Rotofugi and My Plastic Heart rope me in with the shiny lovelies. Fugitive Toys does too now that I think about it. I often find myself on those sites with a shopping cart full of stuff that, let's face it, I shouldn't be buying. I've had to tell myself "NO! Put that back where you found it! Don't MAKE me tell you again!" on several occasions. I throw a fit and make a big scene but I just tell myself that I can yell all I want but I'm not made of money. Eventually I delete the stuff in the cart and cry myself to sleep but I'll thank me later, you'll see.

There's a tiny bedroom on the second floor of our house where I have my computer and I used to have all my crap displayed (it is important to note that the door was always closed to this room because my cats would often abscond with my toys and hide them. They're mine you little shitheads. Get your own toys). I had all the cars out, the Dunnys and all my old miscellaneous toys sitting on these old pine bookcases that we bought in Allston 100 years ago. There was not rhyme or reason to the display and it was sort of overwhelming to look at. I frickin' loved it. But then last year we put our house on the market so I had to pack all my goofy stuff away. When the house didn't sell (thanks economy!) and we decided to take it off the market I thought I'd immediately put all my crap back on display...but I haven't. We took the house off in November of 2007 and I still haven't put anything back up. Nothing. Hmm.

Today I took my nephew Cam to the comic book store (Harrison's in Salem) and it was so much fun to see him get really excited about not only the comics but all the stupid little toys and figures that I love so much. I had introduced him to Dunnys a couple of years back at Christmas (you're welcome Patty!) so he was familiar with those but this place has just a wealth of dumb things that simply rule. I ended up getting him a Munny which is this do-it-yourself vinyl toy. It comes with some accessories but you get to design how you want it to look. You can use acrylic paints or permanent markers and just draw right on the little bugger. Over lunch at the 99 we used the placemats to draw faces and designs that Cam tells me he may or may not use on the final version. Tough crowd. Either way buddy, I hope you dig it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Spaced & Stuff

I'm a little slow on the uptake on the whole Simon Pegg thing (just saw Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead this year) but I'm sold. So sold in fact that I just picked up the Spaced box set. I had never even heard of the show until this month (it just wasn't on my radar. Actually, mostly my radar is focused on single malt scotch but that's another story...mmmm Dalwhinnie). I stumbled across it while channel surfing on BBC America. I recorded a few and watched 'em with the Wiff. Such a funny show. It has great references to pop culture and the cast is perfect.

Speaking of which they must be on a big promotional tour because Simon and Jessica keep popping up on my shows (such as Attack of the Show, and The Soup). I can say that the show is really good and the DVD set is a good one to own. There is a little documentary on one of them about the making of the show (the show ran in 1999 I think. Hold please...I'm gonna check the always accurate and never half-assed researched Wikipedia...ok I'm back..I guess it was from '99 to 2001. Close enough). The commentaries are good too (with guest stars who are fans of the show along with the cast and director..one of the guests is Patton Oswalt). So what am I saying here? I guess I'm saying that if you want to borrow my DVDs then that's ok with me.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yes, I know I stalled. Thank you for beeping at me. That's wicked helpful.

Done and done. We are now the proud owners of a diesel Jetta. Did I mention that it's a 5-speed? Oh, and that I haven't driven one in over 11 years? Note to self: budget new clutch for car in a few months.

We picked it up this afternoon and the Wiff drove the trusty Volvo home and I took the Jetta home (I have to name this one. Let's see, it's silver and it makes stinky diesel smells. Any suggestions?). Boy, stalling sucks. At one point I had decided to go see if Bruce and Rene were home and of course they live on a hill. You know what's not fun? Stalling in front of the guy who was just nice enough to let you go. I get to this intersection and I'm just waiting for my turn to make a left. I'm on a slight incline and this one guy gives me the "go ahead" wave. I think "thanks sucker!" and make my move. My move consisted of turning the car in front of this guy and BRRG-B-B-pfhtth! I stalled. Of course I did. Right in the middle of the intersection blocking the dude too by they way. I did get it started and get moving relatively quickly but just not as quickly as I (and that guy) had hoped. Oh, and Bruce and Rene weren't home either. Hmph.

But enough of that stuf...I'm on VACATION! Hoo-frickin'-ray! I sooooo x10 need some time off. Luckily for me I have a giant zit on the very tip of my nose. Sexy stuff.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Good Night Sweet ... uh, Neon

This year is going on record as one of the most expensive to date. Frick. After close to a decade of semi-faithful service, the almost trusty Neon has to be put down. Put out to pasture. Sent to that junkyard in the sky. Two in the hat. Not quite that dramatic but we are getting rid of it. The reason? Well several really but the main one is that the transmission has decided that shifting isn't a top priority anymore. There are other issues (needs brakes, muffler, body work, mystery rattles and noises) that while certainly don't warrant getting rid of a car, certainly don't make me want to drive it either.

What car are we looking to purchase in it's absence? An older VW Jetta diesel. Or maybe a Golf diesel. I'm talking 2002-ish. Yeah, yeah, diesel is more expensive but right now if we commute in the Neon we get maybe 21-22 mpg (it's about 15 miles from home to work). A diesel VW would get about 45 mpg in the city. That's a drive to work, back home and then back to work on one gallon. Pretty sweet if'n you ask me, which you didn't.

The timetable on this purchase is a leisurely stroll. We don't technically NEED another car but it has become a convenience that I don't think I can convince the Wiff to forgo. So most likely by the end of July we'll be buying a new-to-us car. Actually we already looked at some at the place where we bought the old Volvo in Saugus. I liked dealing with the guy Miran who owns the place since he was straightforward and didn't try to pressure us.

What's kinda sad is that the Neon was my first brand-new car ever. I bought it back in 1998 for $16k (whatta dummy) and I did enjoy the little car for what it's worth. It's fairly peppy and easy to park and handles ok too. Not a bad city car all and all. But then it got older and rustier and dented and scratched. Sort of like me but with wheels. And about a year and a half ago I rear-ended a Volvo wagon (not ours) and smooshed the front bumper (and the headlights, and the turn signals, and the fog lights, and the hood latch). Instead of that happy look the Neon is famous for, it had a permanent frowny face. Permanent in the sense that I'm not going to pay to fix it.

this isn't mine but it looks just like mine

We will end up donating the car to a charity (cancer? NPR? lung society?) rather than try to sell it because I don't think it's a) worth the time and b) worth any money. I thought I'd be driving that thing until it really completely fell apart but I think that maybe I've lost my love for the Neon. I never even named it.

I'm breaking up with my car.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fun Facts!

I have hang-ups coming out of my hang-ups. Here's a few listed in such a way that it may lead you to believe that I should be medicated:


  • In high school I created a cartoon character called Herbie (The Hand With the Answers). It was essentially just a hand that sort of stood on two fingers and fought crime. No, I'm not kidding. It was a left hand too now that I look at the drawing. And no, you can't see it.
  • I have never owned a dog nor do I want to.
  • The last actual honest-to-goodness fight I was in was in the 4th grade. I lost (to frickin' Ricky Crotty) and my mom had to break it up.
  • I have been to Graceland twice. On purpose.
  • When I worked at the Malden Public Library I wrote the lyrics to Don Henley's "The Boy's of Summer" on the wall in the stacks. Not ironically either. I thought it was the shit.
  • At a party I played "air bass" to almost every song that came on the stereo and couldn't for the life of me understand why the ladies were not impressed (hmmm, maybe they go for air guitarists?).
  • I once threw up on a Christmas tree.
  • I was married in Las Vegas.
  • The Heimlich Maneuver has been used on me twice (thanks Mom!).
  • I've never broken a bone but I did have my gall bladder removed.
  • When I was a little kid, if I saw a car (or anything really) I thought was cool I would "add it to my collection" by tapping my right thumb on my right index finger. The more I tapped it, the more of that particular car/thing I would have in my collection. I would "delete" things by doing the same thing but with my left hand. What?
  • The first boobies I can remember seeing were my nana's.
  • I know all the lyrics to every song in Jesus Christ Superstar.
  • I have a tattoo on my arm of a triskle. I tell people it symbolizes the three stages of life. I actually just like how it looks.
  • I wrote a short story about a guy who kills his wife with a ladle.

There's more of course but I have to go to bed now. After all, it's 9:45 pm. Paaaaaaaaah-tay!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Winter Can Come Now

How did I spend the Summer Solstice? Why stacking wood for the winter of course. We got our delivery of wood Saturday morning (and by delivery I mean the guy dumps about 3,000 lbs of wood onto the driveway and then leaves with your money) and I set to stacking the mofos.


Before


During


After (wanna stain my deck for me?)

Unfortunately for me the delivery came at 11 a.m. so by the time I had finished the stacking, it was about 850 °F in the driveway. I was a bit sweaty and, well, revolting. But the wood is all stacked and ready to heat my house this winter.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Formal Shorts are Bullshit

Hey there fellows! Do you wish you could wear your shorts to work (if you CAN wear your shorts to work, then you're dead to me...)? Would you even go so far as to wear fancier shorts than the shitty crop of paint-stained and slightly fraying cargo-ish shorts you currently own? Would you promise to never wear the cut-offs that are in the back of your drawer again (seriously, stop wearing those)? Well, too bad. You can't. You must wear long pants to work because that's the frickin' rule.

But not so for the ladies. They get to wear "formal shorts". They also get to wear skirts and sundresses too but I'll concede those. Don't even get me started on the flip-flop issue. It's like they're taunting me with their comfort. I do get to wear sneakers but ONLY on Fridays. I'm pretty sure that no one would really give a hoot if I did wear my sneakers on say, a Tuesday or whatever but officially I can't unless it is a Friday. But I've seen (and heard) flip flops every day of the week during the summer months.


Hers are a-ok! His are pure evil and will bring down corporate America!

See? His are just as formal and business-ready as hers are! What the hell is the problem? I will say that he should really should cool it with the pocket pool and the giant leather wrist band for (I assume) his watch is unnecessary but other than that, I don't see much difference.

5-Song Shuffle

1. The Walkmen - New Year's Eve
2. The Smiths - The One I Want I Can't Have
3. Danger Doom - No Names
4. Buzzcocks - Oh Shit
5. Death From Above 1979 - Black History Month

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I Wanna Live in Maine Please

This past weekend The Wiff and I made our way up to Maine. We were invited up by Andy and Nerissa to stay at their campsite. Actually we had been invited up Memorial Day weekend but the Volvo only wanted to go as far as Saco. Luckily we were able to limp the old girl home and get the repairs made and this time the car worked perfectly. Since it was predicted to be 1,000 degrees here in Boston we were psyched to get away from all the asphalt.

Since gas is so expensive I drive like a little old man with a hat. Not to mention that the Volvo is about as aerodynamic as a armoire so driving fast just kills the gas mileage. So the trip took longer than I'm used to. But, so much less stressful. Try it next time you go on the highway for a trip. Just go slow in the far right lane and you'll be amazed at how much more relaxed you'll feel. At least I did.

We got to the camp, unloaded our crap and immediately got stung to death by mosquitoes. Why does nature have to be full of bugs? They had some bug spray that was labeled "Family Scent" so we doused ourselves in that. We all smelled like family (tip of the hat to Nerissa since that's her joke). Andy and I decided to go to The Liberal Cup and have a beer or two. They have special handmade ceramic cups for the regulars (members of the Mug Club). The bartender sees you come in, grabs your special mug which is hanging in the bar with this little contraption and fills it with the brew of your choice. Marky want. I need to move here.

Back at the campsite it must have been frickin' breeding season or something for every species of frog that weekend because those little dudes were making a huge racket. I could ignore it for a little while (sort of letting it become white noise) but there was a few of them on our side of the stream and it sounded like they were in the trees. I grabbed my flashlight and walked into the woods behind the cabin and waited for the chirp so I could pinpoint it. After a little bit I was able to find a little gray tree frog about 2 1/2 inches long. Holy crap that lil' guy could make noise.

The next morning we went into town to the A1 Diner and on the drive back we came across a family of woodchucks or gophers or something (look, I'm from the city. All small animals are either a squirrel or a rat) on the dirt road to the campsite. We were in their Prius so it was pretty quiet. We drove up to them and stopped to take a look and I was pretty sure all that we would see is their little butts high-tailing it away from us. Nope. They decided that it would be a really good idea to run UNDER the car. All of them. There must have been 5 or 6 of the furry little dumb-dumbs. Andy beeped the horn to hopefully frighten them out from under the car but that didn't work. So The Wiff got out and very animatedly tried to shoo them away. She was successful with the exception of one stubborn bugger (plus it was hilarious to think that if someone was looking at her and didn't know what she was trying to do, they'd just see this crazy lady on her hands and knees on a dirt road yelling at a car). She gave us the go-ahead to drive slowly forward so Andy did. I looked back and I could see the gopher/woodchuck/whatever-the-hell chasing after the car. "GO!" I yelled, "Quick! He's gonna catch us!" You'd think that we were being chased by a black bear or something. Finally he gave up the chase, cursed out The Wiff with his tiny rodent barking and took off into the woods. I was exhausted.

By noon on Sunday the heat had finally made even Maine unbearable so we said our goodbyes and made our way back home. Turns out it was a good thing that we weren't around Saturday night since there was a shooting right up the street from our house. Sigh. Maine is taunting me.

Open Letter to My Neighbors

Hi, It's me. Mark. Yeah, I'm the guy who tried really hard to move away from you jerks last year and the economy kicked me in the balls and said "Nope, yer stayin'". Yep. Since it looks like we'll be living near each other for what seems like eternity, I'm gonna ask a couple of favors from y'all (Hee. I never get to say "y'all" in real life. BLOGGING IS AWESOME).

In no particular order here goes:

1) if you have to pick someone up from their house could you maybe not lay on your horn every 10 seconds? Maybe you could, oh, I dunno, go ring their fucking doorbell? Oooh. Or you could call them on your cell phone! I know you have one because every asshole on the planet has one. Maybe you could even decide ahead of time when you'll be picking them up so they'll be ready and waiting for you outside on their porch! That would be fantastic. Thank you.

2) if you have a motorcycle could you perhaps not have the pipes be SOOO fucking loud that it not only shakes my crappy windows in their frames but makes me wish that horrible, awful things would happen to you. I know what your gonna say: "Loud pipes save lives". Well, I'm telling you that we can hear you fine. No need to shake my house. I can't hear Battlestar Galactica when you go by and I'm right in front of the TV. Are you compensating for something? How is it that you can actually stand to ride on that thing anyway? It can't possibly be comfortable. Look at your handlebars. If something happened right in front of you right now you wouldn't be able to react in time would you? So dumb. Great idea in this part of the state too. Y'know with all the traffic and lights and crappy roads. Ah, the feel of the open road. Which one? mm-hmm. Remember, I'm a very timid woodland critter so I will not actually be confronting you on this. You're going to have to step up and take the initiative. I'm glad we understand each other.

3) if you have decided to breed and the little shits want to have a kiddie pool I ask, nay I BEG you to please for the ever-loving-sake-of-jeebus-christmas-himself limit the sheer amount of SHRIEKING that they will inevitably do? I get it (sort of) that kids need like care and attention or whatever but they're not mine so I don't wanna hear them. These little buggers can hit frequencies that frankly, I didn't know existed. They can make my fillings buzz. I don't want to hate your children. You're making me hate your children. Just...just shut them up ok?

4) car stereos. 'nuff said.

5) if you are enjoying a lovely boxed fruit-like beverage and you have come to the end of said beverage, don't fucking toss the empty box on my lawn. Or anywhere really that isn't an appropriate trash receptacle. "Appropriate" in this sense can be someone else's lawn by the way.

6) speaking of lawns, how about mowing it once in a while? I'm certainly not a landscaper nor a gardener fascist type of dude but goddamn. We all have tiny, shitty, little lawns. It takes 15-20 minutes tops. Just remember to pick up the juice boxes first. They shred something awful.

7) if you have multiple vehicles and they all can't quite fit into your driveway, you're an ass. Don't park your behemoth SUV right up against my driveway so that I can't see cars whipping around the corner which are about to crash into me and kill me. Back that shit up a few feet.

8) speaking of cars whipping around the corner: slow yer ass down. People live here. You might crash into us. However, if you end up crashing into one of the Harley douchebags, then bravo sir.

9) if you are a shithead teenager jerkface, please don't walk by my house in large groups. It makes me nervous.

10) did I mention loud motorcycles?

To sum up, we all live in this neighborhood and we all have to respect each other's space. That space really should include my ears. Sound pollution is a given in my neighborhood since we live on a busy street but we can limit the amount of other controllable noises. At least until the housing market improves and I sell this thing. Then I don't give a fuck what you people do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How Did I Get Anywhere?

I was talking to someone about work, the economy and other happy subjects when the subject of getting laid off came up. I thought a minute about it and I realized that since 1991 I have been laid off 4 times (FOUR! Twice from the same company!) and fired twice from various positions. I really have a stellar record there don't I? Sheesh. But what I thought I'd discuss here is the first of the 2 firings (since the second one is pretty run-of-the-mill stuff).

In 1991 (on my birthday actually! Happy birthday to me!) I started a job at Copy Cop (oh, by the way, Copy Cop doesn't make copies anymore! Weird right? At least I don't think they do. Their website seems to be more geared towards digital print and computer stuff). I knew some people who worked there already and it seemed like an ok place to work for a guy with no marketable skills.

I worked at the store on Milk St. (corner of Broad St.) which I don't think is there anymore. The manager guy was a bit of a schmuck (ok, he was a complete schmuck) and we had our differences. By 1993 I ended up getting transferred to a different store (oy, I just remembered that they called them "precincts". God, that's so asinine) where although I was no longer working with a dummy, I still wasn't thrilled about my position. I somehow got it in my head that I should be a supervisor and/or manager-in-training or some shit. I really thought that Copy Cop was missing the boat on the Mark O'Malley braintrust working for them in Precinct 2! They disagreed.


The manager of the Milk St. store as
envisioned by Dave Blanchette


So because of this I decided that it was time to look elsewhere in the reprographic industry. I saw an ad for a manger position in Harvard Sq. working for the arch enemy of Copy Cop: Kinko's. The job interview was set up and all I had to do was get the day off, charm the pants off of those folks at Kinko's and then I'd be running my own store! Please keep in mind at all times that I had ABSOLUTELY no management skills/training/instinct what-so-ever. But the job I had being a shitty job had very little in the way of benefits (bennies don't come at $7.50/hr) so I had to either call in sick on the interview day (which was a Monday and therefore would call into question the validity of a 23-year-old calling in sick) or come up with a masterful excuse as to why I needed Monday off.

I decided to fake a funeral. Yep. I'm a class act all the way.

On the Wednesday before the interview I went to the manager of the store and told him that my uncle had died and I think the funeral would be on Monday. I told him that I'd have to confirm it with my mom and I'd let him know the next day if I did in fact need the Monday off. I thought that that would somehow make it seem more authentic. I don't know why I thought that anyone would even question the date of a funeral but once again I call your attention to my tiny brain. The next day I told him that yes I would in fact need to take Monday off but I'd be back on Tuesday.

Cut to the weekend. That weekend the "Storm of the Century" was barreling up the coast towards us and when it got here it dumped a stupid amount of snow and generally made life annoying (especially since it came in March when I'm just starting to allow myself to think that maybe winter will please fuck off for a while. But of course it doesn't. March is cruel like that). So, blah, blah, blah it snowed and was windy and crap like that. Monday comes and I go to the interview and completely blow it. Nice one O'Malley.

The next day I drag my sorry ass into work and when I get there, the manger dude (who's name I can't remember...) calls me into his office. That's weird I thought but whatever, I'll go see what's up. He starts off with "How was the funeral?" That's an odd question but I answer, "Y'know, ok I guess." (I have an amazing grasp of the English language) He then says "Oh, ok. Um, your mom called..." and he just let it hang there. It was like the words "your mom called" were still echoing off the walls of the office. Like they were physical entities running around the room crashing into furniture and knocking over things. So I replied, "Oh, really?" Brilliant comeback I'm sure you'll agree. He said "Yeah, she wanted to know how you faired this weekend with the big snow storm and all. I told her that you were at a funeral. With her." Oh lordy. Yep. My MOM called my JOB to see how I was. She NEVER did that before. EVER. Soooo busted.

And then he fired me. Meh, fair enough.

As I was stamping my time card for the last time I thought to myself that 1) god, I'm a dumb-ass 2) lesson learned: if you're going to use someone as your alibi, let them know. 3) don't tempt fate by pretending to go to a funeral when you're not. Oh, and call your mom when it snows a lot.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gurgle? ...uh oh...

Went to the AltCom Festival on Saturday (it was a 2-day festival but we only went to the 2nd show) at the Somerville Theater. It was a really good show but more on that later. Got to Davis Sq. and found a spot immediately (hooray Day St!) and since it was after 6pm, it was free. Then it was time to figure out where to go for dinner. For all of Davis Square's faults (and there are quite a few...no more used music store, no bookstore, no more little antique shop across from the theater, Tufts students) it does not want for good restaurants. As luck would have it, I actually remembered that I really don't like The Burren so I didn't offer that as an option. The Wiff would have had to calmly explain to my tiny brain that it's loud in there and it makes me cranky. But the options are pretty impressive.

We ended up going to Diva and that was a good choice. The food is really good and you can actually have a conversation. I got the tandoori chicken and I picked the "hot" version. Apparently there are 4 versions: mild, medium, hot and pretty hot. That's a quote from the waiter. I was going to go with the "pretty hot" but something in his face told me that my wimpy white boy digestive tract couldn't handle it. Tell you what, I was almost unable to process the hot version.

So after din-din we made our way over to the theater. We still had plenty of time so we hung outside on a bench across the street (the Wiff got an ice-cream from the JP Licks that took over the little antique shop's space. $3 for a tiny cup. Holy poop). While sitting there I was able to scope out what the crowd was going to be like (ever since The Pogues show I've been worried that every show I want to go to will have a bunch of jackasses polluting the crowd). But luckily the crowd looked sufficiently nerdy and safe. Then the gurgles started. The Indian food was rebelling. Uh oh.

I did the only thing that was available to me. I stared at the sidewalk and willed my body to digest. Do it you wussy belly you! I don't care that the food was brightly colored (orange!) and flavorful. You will ignore the generations of bland brown-gray food that you have been bred to consume. You WILL let the turmeric and cayenne pepper through! I must have looked like I was having a hard time because even The Wiff left me alone. She did however continue to eat her ice cream and I just couldn't even look in her direction for fear of ... well, y'know. Luckily everything stayed where it was supposed to be and we made our way into the theater.

I really like the main theater there especially since they re-did it. It's nice and clean and the people working the show were very nice. Once again I had a great seat. I was on the end of the row with The Wiff to my right. Perfecto. She really is a great people-buffer since she actually likes people. But that night was extra special because the guy who sat next to her was a large dude with the LOUDEST LAUGH EVER. For realsies. He was also a really easy audience too cuz EVERYTHING was funny to this guy. His laugh was like BWAH HA-HA-HA HA!! and then he'd sometimes repeat the last line he thought was funny or go "HOLY SHIT!!". He also clapped weirdly too...like waaaay too fast. Hee. Poor Wiff. Oh, and she said that he was stinky too.

But dude, how come you didn't switch places with her? That's totally not cool of you. Yeah, I know. Well I'll tell you. I didn't for 2 reasons: 1. I'm a jerk. 2. I don't think I could have handled it. Please understand this: although this guy was a) large b) stinky c) crazy loud, The Wiff STILL had a great time at the show. She has the ability to say to herself "Ok, this guy is fat, stinky and loud but at least he's having fun." and she can move on and enjoy the show herself. I, on the other hand, would have been thrown out of the theater. Maybe even arrested. So there.

The show itself was great. The line up was The Walsh Brothers (who while funny, were really very one note. They did this bit on the Fung-Wah bus that was their entire set. Funny at first but it wore thin quickly), Morgan Murphy, Jim Jeffries (who I had never seen before but I would definitely see him perform again) and then Patton Oswalt. Patton did about 45 minutes or so of mostly new stuff and the show itself was a little over 2 hours. I really had a good time and if they do this again next year (which I assume they would), I'll check it out again. Now that we're old farts I think it's funny that right after we see a show there's no talk of "Hey, what should we do now? You wanna go grab drink or see a band?" No. There'll be none of that. Let's immediately pile into the Volvo and drive our old asses home and go to bed. Awesome.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fun on a Tuesday Night

For the second Tuesday night in a row, The Wiff and I went out and about. This past Tuesday it was dinner and then the Eddie Izzard show at The Orpheum. She has the week off so she met me here at work and we went over to The Burren in Davis Sq. for dinner. We sat at the bar because it's easier and usually you get better service I find. Well, not so much this night. For whatever reason the bartender wasn't very friendly. I don't mean to slag him off or anything, he was efficient and stuff like that but he just didn't seem to give a shit one way or the other. Maybe I'm expecting too much? I need to examine this I think. Here I claim to hate people and not want to interact with them (both true) but yet when they do leave me alone I get all whiny. Hmph. I'm so complicated aren't I?

So we ate our food and drank our Smithwicks and that took all of 45 minutes maybe? Maybe less? Now it's 6:45 and the show doesn't start until 8pm. Ok, let's just hang out here right? Nah. The problem with The Burren is it is REALLY loud in there. I think this is because every surface is a hard material so drunk obnoxious Tufts student's voices bounce happily off of the walls and enter my brain and crush my will. I voted that we leave and maybe fart around Davis Sq. or something for a bit. Unfortunately it was chilly and drizzly and unless you want to drink booze or coffee, there's no where to just hang out since sitting on a wet bench outside wasn't an option. We ended up standing outside the Somerville Theater for a bit to make fun of the people walking around but that gets old fast when it's raining. So we went into the T station and sat on a bench. You so want to hang with us don't you? Imagine how exciting that is! We sat there for a while too. Life in the fast lane indeed. Eventually we realized that we probably looked kinda creepy just sitting on the bench not talking to each other and watching trains come in and out of the station, so we got on one and went into Boston.

But the show! Holy crap the show! Wow. First of all, I had (for me anyway) a fantastic seat. My seat was abutting (hee...abutting) one of the entrances to the theater on my left so there was this big open space next to me (read: no people) with a place to rest my arm. The Wiff was seated on my right (read: people buffer). I had a direct line of sight to the stage. Perfect. The show was a little over 2 hours but it really flew by. If you get a chance to see him perform I highly recommend you do. I learned my lesson from last week when we went out on a school night too, I stayed home yesterday and slept in. Then at around 11am we went out for breakfast and it ruled. God, I love coffee and corn beef hash. Thank you baby jeebus for making animals so delicious.

And to top off my day, Grand Theft Auto 4 arrived via UPS at the house yesterday at around 3pm. Good christ almighty was I a happy boy. I put in a good 3 hours last night and I plan to spend more, sooooooo much more in the upcoming months. Unfortunately I have a family thing on Saturday so that cuts into my quality me time. Luckily I'm really evolved and mature so I'm able to forgive my nephew for having his 1st communion fall on the weekend after my game came out. Aw crap, I just realized I'm going to have to sit in a church on Saturday...I hope I don't burst into flames or anything like that.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Smooth Operator

Back in 1990, after a failed attempt at higher learning at UMass Amherst, my mom got me a gig working for the catering company that ran the cafeteria where she worked. She worked at a community college and the catering company wanted to have a little muffin and coffee cart in the lobby of the main building of the school. The kids and faculty would come in and march right over to my little cart where I served ginormous muffins and horrible coffee. It was pretty sweet really, I made friends with some of the students and I was making some money.

One day I was working the cart (I used to say that because I thought that it made me sound more official. It really just makes me sound like a tool) and I was bumming out because the girl I was sort of seeing had broken it off (why? was it the living with the parents? the no license/car? shitty job working behind a muffin cart in the lobby of Bunker Hill Community College? nah, she must have been a lezbo). This regular customer came over and noted that I was sad and asked what was up. She was this really pretty girl from El Salvador and she had a very thick accent. She listened to my pathetic tale of woe (whoa!...hee. Joey Lawrence rules) and then she asked me what I was doing that night. Why, nothing! I was doing nothing that night Pretty Lady! What do you have in mind? What she had in mind was a party with a bunch of her friends in Boston! She invited me to go with her to "a Babba Tahhk". Wow. Babba Tahhk. That sounds fancy and exotic Pretty Lady from a far away land. I would be honored to attend this event with you. So we made plans to meet at the school later that night and she'd drive me there. AWESOME! I'm gonna nip this Summer of Failure in the bud!

So, after my mom dropped me off at the school and told me to be careful and to have fun (I sooooooo wish that part wasn't true), I waited for my ride to show. She pulled up in a little car jammed with about 4 other people (so with me in there it should be really spacious and comfortable now). I climbed over some people and said hello to Pretty Lady (I wish I could remember her name). The people in the car were all REALLY friendly and REALLY interested in what my story was. It was odd but nice. Meh. Whatever, we're going to a real rager of a party right? Riiiiiiiiiiight.

We drove over to some apartment in god-knows-where and piled out. There was about 6 more people in the apartment when we went in. I remember the apartment being small, clean and absolutely devoid of alcohol. Hmph. Plus, they had carrot sticks and raw broccoli in bowls on the table. Uh oh. My radar had sent up a bunch of warnings but I chose to ignore it since there was a Pretty Lady talking to me. I could have been on fire and I'm not so sure I'd have noticed.

Once again the others at the party were all REALLY friendly and asked a lot of questions about me. There was this one guy who was trying to bond with me over the fact that we both liked The Jam. Pretty Lady was introducing me to everyone and whenever she did so she'd mention that I'd just broken up with my girlfriend. My radar was shrieking to no avail. I was too busy wondering when the keg was going to show up.

And then it happened. The oldest dude there (a guy in his mid-twenties and therefore WICKED OLD) stood up in the front room and said in a loud voice "Ok, everyone! Let's get our bibles and form a circle in the living room!" Say what now? Get our what and form a what? Oh fuck me. For reals? Oh stupid, stupid penis. How could you bring me here?

All the people in the apartment (about 12 or so) did a sort of group "Hooray!" and ran to their bags. Hmmm, how'd I not notice they were all carrying bags before? Wow. There sure are a lot of crosses in this tiny apartment. They each grabbed a spot in the circle either on a chair, couch or cross-legged on the floor. Pretty Lady was beckoning me to sit next to her on the couch. Heh. Uh, no thanks there Crazy Pants. I'll just stand guard here over the Cherry Coke if that's ok with you. The leader dude asked me what was wrong and I had to confess that I had COMPLETELY misunderstood what tonight was supposed to be and could I please get a ride home now? No? Oh, ok. I guess I'll just sort of mill around awkwardly for the next FRICKIN' HOUR while you do your Bible Talk. Huh. "Bible Talk". "Babba Tahhk". Hmm. So, she didn't try to trick me after all. I'm just amazingly stupid is all. Wow..

To their credit the little christian people were still really nice to me. After they had finished, they drove me back home and Pretty Lady would still stop by and chat with me at the cart. But having been raised a Catholic, my views on religion and such are ... let's say repressed. It tends to freak me out. I still don't like raw broccoli at parties.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Left The House! And On A Tuesday Too!!

Last night The Wiff and I went out to see Ad Frank and the Fast and Easy Women play at Harper's Ferry in Allston. I hadn't seen them play in probably a year or so and it was a really good show. As it turns out, it was also a bit of a reunion of sorts. First off, Nancy and Mike were there! They're great people and I was trying to think of the last time I had seen them and it has to be about 2 years maybe? God, I need to get out more often. I suck. Mike occasionally plays keyboards for the band (actually I asked him and he said that the last time was probably 5 years ago...technically still occasionally right?). I also got to say Hey to Linda Bean P.! One of my all time favorite peoples.

Continuing with the reunion theme, I saw this guy Phil that I knew from a million years ago. Then later on I saw Joey Diaz whom I worked with at the copy place in Harvard Sq. (I worked at a few copy places in my day. I actually was working at a copy place during the time when that frickin' "Copy Guy" skit was playing on Saturday Night Live. People would come in and say "Heh..Makin' copies!" as if they were not only the first person that day to say it to me but the first person ever to say it. They weren't. Luckily for me, I was already dead inside. Side note: who knew that the "Copy Guy" had a name? It was Richard. Wow..I really do suck).

Then on came American Music Club and they sounded fantastic. I wasn't that familiar with their stuff but they're really good. Great even. We hung out for their set and realized that it was now 12:15 am on a school night. Fudge. The Wiff turned to me and said "I have to get up in 5 hours." By the time we said our goodbyes and got out of Allston and back to the castle we call home it was 1 am. So right now I'm functioning on about 4 hours sleep (thereabouts). Not horrible when your younger and dumber but when your old and (still) dumb, 4 hours really doesn't cut it. I feel jet lagged without having to take my shoes off and walk on industrial carpeting.