Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Are You Sure You Want to Leave?

Recently I deactivated my account on Facebook. I had joined about 3 years ago (I think...maybe it was 2 years ago?) on the suggestion of a work friend. I liked connecting with people I hadn't talked to in forever (like from high school and such) and it was helpful in keeping in touch with my large extended family members. But then something happened where I found myself just spending way too much time on the site. I'd browse through photos of smiling people I did not know at events I did not attend simply because one friend had been "tagged" in a blurry cell phone shot. I felt like a creep. Like a voyeur. I didn't like that feeling, so I left.

I have to admit it was hard. Would I miss playing Scrabble (or Lexulous, whatever. I hated that name) with friends? Would the fear of "missing out" be too much to bear? Can I survive without knowing daily thoughts of some person I haven't actually seen in over 20 years? I kept the bookmark in my browser for the first week "just in case". I'd hover my mouse over that bookmark trying to decide if I wanted to click on it or not. On the computers that I normally use, Facebook was typically one of the first 5 bookmarks. As of this writing, it still appears in the favorites in the browser on my work computer. I'm on vacation this week so I haven't had an opportunity to delete it yet (other than the 3 days last week when I certainly could have deleted it quite easily, I just wasn't mentally strong enough yet).

Quitting cold turkey for me was the only option. I'm a bit obsessive by nature so I knew that if I did nothing or attempted a scale-back model to try to wean myself off of the site I'd never truly give it up. Now I'm not down on Facebook nor will I judge others who still use the site (the Wiff is still on there for instance). If you use the site and have fun with it, that's great. I just know that for me, it was eating into my productivity and keeping me from actually getting things done. That includes doing things like writing on this blog. This is currently my only creative outlet and I hadn't given much time to it lately. Even though I get embarrassed when I talk about this site (I'm blushing right now...seriously), a few people have actually come up to me and told me they like reading my rambling, barely coherent drivel. That's incredibly flattering and I never know how to react. I don't take compliments very well.

What does this mean for ye olde blog moving forward? Well it will eliminate those sometime visitors who found the link on my profile and clicked to visit the site. There wasn't a lot of those people anyway. What I hope it means is that I will be able to dedicate more time to writing here. When I started this a couple years ago my intent was to post once a week. I've kept to that loose schedule for the most part. Maybe without the FB distraction siphoning my time and energy I'll be able to post more dumb stories about my life. Wouldn't that be wicked awesome? Of course it would be. So if we were Facebook friends just know that you have one less virtual friend online. I'm still available in person for realsies though. Heck, you could even stop by the house and see the new kitchen! Yes, pictures will be forthcoming of the kitchen renovation.

Friday, June 11, 2010

This Just In..

I believe that people who are on TV and in movies should be older than me. But as I get older (and older) this practice has become unsustainable (no one would want to see the kids of Glee portrayed by 40-somethings). Being immature and an old codger is very confusing. I still feel, maturity-wise anyway, like I'm 17 or so but then what happens is I am reminded of the harsh reality that I am so NOT 17 (like if I walk by a mirror for instance). Watching the NHL playoffs put my age in perspective every time the announcers talked about how OLD Chris Pronger is. He's 35. I've got 5 fuckin' years on the dude. There are guys in the NHL who are older than me (Mark Recchi and...well, just him really) but the bulk of them are under 30. It's enough to bum a guy out.

Music can be a different beastie when it comes to age. Again, I feel like people who's music I enjoy should always be older than me but for whatever reason it doesn't seem to bother me as much when I find out that they are (much) younger. Maybe it's because I generally don't watch videos or go to shows that much anymore. I remember the Wiff and I went to see The Futureheads a few years back and I was almost surprised at how young they were. It's like when we go out to see a band play at a club I think to myself that I'm close to being "that old dude" at the bar. This feeling of time slipping rapidly by also holds true for some books. The book I just finished was written by a dude 7 years my junior. As I was reading and enjoying his work there was a nagging thought at the back of my mind saying, "What the hell have I been doing with my life? What will be my legacy? A bunch of snarky remarks on a website that gets maybe 4 people a day reading it? Oh and a sizable dent on my side of the bed?"

There is one place where I know I can be certain that my Utopian ideal that the people on the idiot box must be older than me will be upheld: It's the local news here in Boston. If I stick to Channel 5 and (for the most part) Channel 4, I'm fairly safe. I cannot abide Channel 7 for a couple of reasons:
  1. They have embraced the green screen, let's-all-be-standing-around-randomly, swooping robo-cameras, flash-cut shiny-shiny-shiny style of news broadcasting that FOX "News" pioneered. But Channel 7 has ramped it up to a degree that makes it unwatchable (to me anyway). Both Channel 7 and the FOX affiliate seem to assume that everyone watching has A.D.D. and cannot concentrate on an image for more than 3 tenths of a second. 
  2. Everyone on their broadcast seems to be fresh out of school, all tan and just as shiny as the chromed-out set they are on. I can't take a story seriously if the dude announcing it clearly just had his teeth whitened or if the woman sitting next to him looks like she came from a Barbie factory.
This is why the old crows on Channel 5 are my favorite. And it's not like any of these stations actually report on more than just the surface of a story either. Oh no, all local news is simply headlines with very little in-depth investigation or journalism. They all do a similar job in that respect. If I actually want to learn more about a story I'll watch BBC News or PBS. God, I sounded like such a pompous twat there didn't I? But it's true dammit (although Jim Lehrer's beady little eyes do creep me out)! No, the reason I like Channel 5 is that they still have people working there that I fucking recognize from years ago. Even Channel 4 still lets that old lush Jack Williams stink up their airwaves. Ok, maybe that one is a mistake.

There are of course drawbacks to having older people on TV in this age of high definition. I've already mentioned Mary Richardson before but what about Susan Wornick? Holy hell. Someone box that thing up quickly before the children see it. If you are fair skinned, do not go tanning. Let Susan be a warning to you all. Is that being a hypocrite? Probably. It's certainly me being a dick. For the most part the reason that I like having these folks around is not that I think they're necessarily giving me a better product, it's all the same stuff generally, it's that watching them let's me briefly feel like I'm not on the downhill portion of life. I mean, hell, they're still on TV so it must mean that I'm still in my 20's right? Sigh...

And no, the kitchen is not done yet. Don't ask.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Knight Out

Last night the Wiff and I went to go see Keith Knight, gentleman cartoonist, speak at the Malden Public Library and sign some of his books. He wasn't scheduled to begin his presentation until after 7pm so we decided to go grab some food early-bird style. The first place we went to was over in Malden and after standing by the sign that said "Please Wait to be Seated" for what I determined to be far too fucking long with no one coming over to us, we decided to leave. Just as we turned to leave a hostess/waitress finally came over and asked "Two for dinner?" Yea, not anymore lady. We're outsies.

We decided to head on over to Melrose so we could check out Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet's new-ish store right there on Main St. The store is run by Rebecca and Gene Bernaldi and I went to high school with Rebecca. She is what I would describe as super smart and a genuinely nice person. I couldn't be happier for her success. Unfortunately, Rebecca wasn't working when we were there but since the store is really well done and the layout is intuitive, it was fine. They made great use of the space and the choices offered are impressive. Plus, the woman who helped us look for a bottle of wine was friendly and knowledgeable. I sound like a commercial or something. Whatever, I liked it. Go there if you can.

After buying the wine we went across the street to this little restaurant that the Wiff had wanted to check out for some time. Stearns & Hill's Bistro certainly looks the part of a good, neighborhood restaurant with the brick and dark wood facade and with the name of the place done in tile above the doors. The bar and restaurant area are all tastefully decorated and I liked the muted lighting in the place. However, I think most of the attention to detail has been spent on creating the atmosphere and not, in my opinion, where it really counts: the food. We ordered the calamari appetizer since it's usually a good gauge on how much control a kitchen has over the quality of the meals it produces.

The appetizer came out and although the presentation was decent, they failed the true test. The calamari rings were just this side of being rubbery little gaskets and the breading was far too thick. Ok, not a great start but let's reserve judgement shall we? I had ordered a burger done medium/well and the Wiff got a shrimp salad doo-dad. When the burger came out it was quite well done (overly cooked and super dry) and the fries were greasy little blobs with not even a hint of crispiness. Bummer. The Wiff said the shrimp were also over done. The overall vibe I got from the food was that the kitchen was lazy. They didn't seem too interested in trying to win new customers. The prices were reasonable but even a decently priced meal that isn't tasty will feel like a rip-off. Ah well, next time we'll just go to The Blue Ox.

During our dinner the thunderstorm that had been threatening to come finally did. The skies opened up and dumped an impressive amount of rain down onto the quaint little streets of Melrose. I looked like a movie where they have those huge rain maker things. It was epic. I put the thought that all our windows in the house were wide open out of my head and we made our way over to the library after the rain stopped. Keith's talk was cool and it was interesting to hear him talk about the projects he's been working on. I also didn't realize just how far ahead a syndicated cartoonist has to have their strips ready. It's like 5 weeks ahead for a daily strip. That's a lot of work. Even though he went to the same high school as me (go Tornados!...or..y'know, not) and I've been a fan of his stuff for years, I'd never actually met Keith. The Wiff went to college with him and I did know one of his sisters though. The guy is just super laid back and confident and it's nice to see he's doing what he loves to do and that he's able to be very successful. Thumbs up all around peeps.

What was not a thumbs up was the fact that the building where I had my very first job is now closed. The Malden Public Library is now in a whole new-to-me section that while I'm sure is better in the sense that it's not a crumbling building that is impossible to heat or cool it just does not have the same "cool factor" as the old building. I dunno when they moved but I'm sure it's been twenty years or something like that. I've not been there since 1988 myself. It didn't even smell like a library y'know? I just kinda...was. Hmph. Stupid reality.

We made our way home and as we turned onto our street it became pretty clear that the little storm we saw in Melrose had been much more intense back home. There were tree limbs and leaves everywhere. Several trees had major damage and it looked like the wind had blasted right down the street stripping leaves and branches like a big hand. We pulled into our driveway and went into the house to deal with the water that had been blown into the house during the storm. Luckily for us it wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. The big ol' tree in front of the house had only lost a relatively small branch which had fallen harmlessly onto the curb. Whew. That could have been much worse (and had been for some).

Then at 2:30 am I was awakened to a bizarre noise that I could not identify. I was still in a sleep fog when I heard it again. It sounded like a giant shopping cart with a stuck wheel and is full of empty bottles being dragged down the street sideways. I laid there listening to see if it would happen again and sure enough it did. GGGRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrararttllllllllllebbbbbrrt!!! Oh. What. The. Fuck? Who the hell is collecting recycled beer bottles at this time of the night? Goddamn crackheads, just cuz you can't sleep doesn't mean the rest of us want to be kept awake to listen to the crazy adventures of your sad existence ok? Go away...damn you...go away. Then, as I woke up some more I thought, "Hmm, that's no shopping cart." I got up and went into the front bedroom. As I looked out the window I saw the source of the noise. A huge truck with a fucking wood chipper on a trailer behind it was parked right in front of my house. Two very fat men were tossing branches into the big gaping mouth of the machine. BBBbbllllllllllrrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaAAAHHHaaarchhTT!! Sigh. Goddamn city living.

I whispered my very best gypsy curse upon them and went back to bed. I will eventually move away from all these people. Someday this WILL happen, just not today.