Friday, July 27, 2007

My Girl

I've never read any of the Harry Potter books, and I don't intend to. But that doesn't stop me from reading the spoilers. I've gone to websites with detailed character histories, plot outlines and summaries, timelines...and I'm not even sure why. When the last book came out, I got up at seven in the morning and read the Wikipedia entry about it, and found out everything I needed to know. They even have a neat little chart diagramming who dies, who kills them and how. Like Clue.

I just need to know things. I always snuck downstairs and peaked at my presents before Christmas. Sometimes I go online and read the endings of movies I've never seen. The other day I read the summary for Heathers. I go to a website for Lost spoilers, which coughs up pieces of information throughout the week until Wednesday, when someone actually writes a summary and review of that night's episode less than eight hours before it airs. None of this "ruins" it for me, I have an unnatural craving for it. I just hate surprises.


Whenever I go out to lunch, I try not to go to the same place too many times in a row, or order the same thing all the time. Even if I really only like one menu item, I'll order something else to avoid being a "regular." I'm sure 99% of the population is the exact opposite. It must be much faster and convenient if they know what you're going to order the minute you walk in. They'd probably be inclined to be friendlier, too. But I don't care about any of that. I just want to blend in. Having someone know what I want to order kind of weirds me out, like they already have too much information about me.


Last week I was walking through the Public Garden. I usually walk along the pond, up the stairs and over the bridge, but that day I stopped short when I saw a couple sitting on the bench closest to the bridge. The guy got down on one knee and pulled out a velvet ring box. I was witnessing a marriage proposal. Kind of a weird place to do it though. Sure it's overlooking the swan boats, but it was after five o'clock and they'd stopped running for the day. And it was overcast. But what do I know, maybe that bench is where they met or something. Anyway, there's only about two feet of walking space between the bench and the edge of the water, so rather than walking past them and possibly spoiling their big romantic moment, I turned around and walked up and around another path to avoid them. For a moment I thought it might have been funny if I'd said "Congratulations" as I walked past them, but then I thought, "What if she said no?" I'd just be adding insult to injury. I'm still not sure if taking an alternate route so as not to spoil a marriage proposal is polite or just one more step I've taken to avoid human interaction whenever possible.

The point of all this is Michele has to put up with all my crap on a daily basis. Some of you would have surely buried me under the floorboards by now, but she's always here for me and for that I am forever grateful. She's a beautiful, caring person and she raised an amazing kid. Happy birthday, Michele. I love you more than I hate making eye contact with strangers. Which is a lot.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Talking in Circles, eh?

Good Morning, good morning everyone, in the news this morning, good morning. A follow up to our top story, Trina is not dead. Ms. Smith, however, still is.

In other news, John Mooney, the coyote guy, has been moonlighting on the weekends as a security guard at a swanky apartment complex. I think it's an apartment complex. It's festooned with swank, whatever it is. He's also trying to learn French for an upcoming trip to Canada. But he's having trouble finding time to listen to the French CD, and he can't listen to it when he's stressed. I would have thought that he could listen to it at his security guard job, all he has to do is sit at a desk all night, right? Unless he's one of those security guards that patrols the grounds with a flashlight and a night stick, like the guy in Mannequin. And it was that thought that set off a chain of cyclical conversations here in the office.

Before I go further, check out this picture.

You may be thinking, "Why are Phylicia Rashad and Robert Downey Jr. at my local mall with a couple of mangy looking puppets?" Well, that's not your local mall, and that's not Phylicia Rashad and Robert Downey Jr., although I will concede those are some mangy looking puppets. If you were weened on Nickelodeon in the 80's you'll recognize the picture as the cast of Today's Special, a Canadian-produced kid's show about a department store where a mannequin comes to life at night and learns valuable life lessons with the help of a the display designer, the puppet security guard and a mouse. Obscure? Maybe. But it's still somehow managed to work it's way into an office conversation on more than one occasion.

As shown in Figure 1. (below), Mooney works weekends as a security guard, like G. W. Bailey (Captain Harris from the Police Academy movies) in Mannequin, which was about a mannequin that came to life at night, just like Today's Special, which featured a Canadian puppet as a security guard, closing the circle back to Mooney. Plus, Today's Special was a Canadian show, and Mooney's planning a trip to Canada to see a "female friend," which is why he's learning French and bartering with his cell phone service for a good deal on calls to the Great White North.

Joe has his own office, as does John T. But I share an office with Mooney, Amy, and a revolving cast of temps, freelancers and interns. The latest version is an intern that Amy knows from her hometown. I guess you could say the more interesting conversations usually stem from this room. Not all of them, but with Joe busy in his office grunting and lying about going to funerals, and John T sticking it to The Man by not wearing his shoes and microwaving fish, it's up to us to keep the conversations going, even if the subject matter tends to be repetitive. It's not that all we talk about is Canada, mannequins and security guards, it's just that once you get caught in the loop it's hard to break out of it.

Thanks to Mr. Schprock for the photo of feral Mooney and his deadly stapler!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Morbid Etiquette

A few months ago, I got a cryptic email from Trina with the subject line "mishap." It read "Can't blog. Had an accident. want exclusive?" followed by her phone number to get more details. I was a little worried. What could have happened that she couldn't write in an email? Maybe she was just a head in a jar, using what little power she had left to type with her tongue. Concern and curiosity (and much prodding by Michele) prevailed over my hatred of talking on the phone, and that Sunday I called and got the story.

This is all old news now, of course, how she went up in the attic at work to fix a leak, lost her balance and fell through the ceiling, landed on the copier eight feet below, broke all kinds of body parts and was laid out for weeks. Since she wouldn't be able to post, my job was to let everyone know she wasn't dead.

That was back in April. Since then, she's still somehow managed to write more often than me. Not that that's particularly difficult. But her last post was July 3, about an upcoming trip to Lincoln. The promised week-long hiatus came and went, and here we are almost at the end of July, and still no update. Not only that, but no comments on other blogs, and no emails.

Judging by her blog, people in Trina's town have a habit of checking out early. At first I thought she might have Jessica Fletcher Syndrome, but after seemingly disappearing for weeks, I'm really getting worried. Even the normally aloof Lord Loser is concerned; if you look closely, you can see the tear stains in his beard.

So here's the thing: she hasn't been heard from in weeks, I've still got her number, and it looks like once again I've got to be the one to find out if she's still among the living. Should I call, or wait it out some more? I've gone much longer without posting, but this is someone who writes something new every day. It's just kind of embarrassing to call someone and say "I thought you might be dead." Then again, I'm not sure devoting an entire post to the subject is any any better, but at this point, a comment from Trina making fun of me for all this would be a welcome sight.

And what if something bad did happen? I'm not very good at giving bad news, and I'm even worse at hearing it. To buffer myself from the worst-case-scenario, I went back to her post about her friend that died in Iraq, and Googled his name, NE and Iraq. From there I found the local newspaper article about him, and, with one eye closed, checked the paper's obituaries for the last 60 days. She wasn't in there, so that's a good sign, right? Unless they haven't found her yet.

I'm hoping there's a simple explanation, like she hasn't been able to get internet access, or her arm is stuck in a vending machine. Or maybe I'm out of the loop. Maybe someone else knows what's going on. But I've got this nagging feeling like this is serious. And there's only one way to find out. about a text message? I don't usually do those, but in my warped mind it's less scary than actually speaking on the phone. Is it okay to text someone you've never actually met to make sure they're alive?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Unfortunate Product Placement Theater

It's kind of weird that some of Boston's homeless have achieved levels of fame reserved for heads of state, and a select few have even shot through the stratosphere to stand shoulder to shoulder with coked-up celebutantes and reality show contestants in terms of name recognition. But of all the homeless people in the area that I've heard of, Mr. Butch wasn't one of them. He may not have had a roof over his head, but he's got his own Wikipedia entry, so he's one up on me. Despite my ignorance, Mr. Butch was an icon in the Kenmore area for three decades. He even had a following in the local music scene and played a few clubs in the 80s. Sadly, Mr. Butch died this month after an accident on his Vespa scooter.

Friday's Metro had an article about "a New Orleans style procession through the streets of Allston" and a tribute to Mr. Butch Sunday night. It also had, due to an unfortunate editorial decision, an ad for Herb Chambers Vespa scooters on the same page.

Until then, I'd never even seen an ad for a scooter. And now, of all the days, of all the pages, of all the gin joints in all the world, they stick it six inches below the Mr. Butch article.

This sort of thing happens all the time on the internet. You write a fiery 2,000 word denouncement of cheese, going into intricate detail about how much you hate cheese and how you're sure that cheese will usher in the apocalypse. And after all that, what lines the borders of your anti-cheese revolution? Google Ads for cheese! Serves you right. Who doesn't like cheese?

At least online that makes sense. Google Ads just look for the most common word on the page, they can't make the distinction between whether you're for or against something. But a human being made a conscious decision to run the scooter ad on the same page as the story about someone who died on one of those same scooters. The ad says "These days, Vespa scooters make more sense than ever." Ostensibly, they meant that with gas prices being what they are, scooters offer a more economic, fuel efficient alternative. Or maybe the Scooter Libby trial brought scooters back into the forefront of the public psyche at a level not seen since the Muppets. But paired with that article, it sounds like they're saying, "Vespa scooters help reduce the homeless population."

I waited all weekend to for the backlash on the letters page, similar to the time they ran an ad for an upcoming gun show alongside an article about a preteen who fatally shot a cousin with handgun left out where he could find it. But there was nothing about it today. The common Metro letter writer, regardless of age, gender or political stripe, all share the same intensity and passion about whatever topic they're angry about. The people I count on to overreact and blow the simplest things way out of proportion didn't jump on this. I feel let down. What would Mr. Butch say? I don't know, I've never even heard of him until after he died. But come on, I expect the letters page to contain something a bit more entertaining than volleys between the pro- and con- trans-fat-ban camps. Hey, that's only one letter away from being trans-fat-band camps, which I imagine is like band camp for overweight transsexuals. This one time at Trans Fat Band Camp...

Anyway, the letter writers may have let me down, but today's Metro featured a front page headline proclaiming Mitt Romney compared Hillary's economic plan to "Socialist Karl Marz". See, that's why I love the Metro. Way more typos than the stuffy Globe, yet not tacky and unapologetically tabloid-y like the Herald, and not sad and desperate like Boston Now.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Nothing But Net

This morning I was scanning the headlines on Yahoo News when my eyes stopped on one that left me shocked and puzzled.

"Holy crap! Larry Bird died?! When did that happen? And why is Laura Bush going to his funeral?"

In my defense, it was early in the morning. What kind of name is Lady Bird anyway?

Just to review:

Not dead
Larry Bird
Lady Bird

Friday, July 13, 2007

Man Vs. Microwave

Yesterday I thought I'd make a cup of instant coffee, or to be more accurate, microwave up some water and powdered French Vanilla cappuccino mix. The instructions say to heat 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz) of cold water in a measuring cup on HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes or until hot. Then empty the contents of the envelope into a mug and slowly pour the water over it. Easy enough.

But what if you don't have a measuring cup? Or even a second cup just to heat the water in? All I've got is a "Weymouth MRI" mug of indeterminate origin. I think it might have been Joe's; he's probably had a few CT scans in his day. I could have heated the water in the mug and then mixed the powder in afterwards, but then the powder gets all clumpy and doesn't mix right. So I emptied the packet into the mug and then filled it three-quarters to the top with water.

Whenever I attempt to heat water in the microwave, it always takes several tries before its even mildly hot. That's why the instructions say 1 1/2 minutes or until hot. It's because on the first try, it's always tepid. Then lukewarm, and finally whatever you call a step above lukewarm. Regular warm, I guess. I thought I'd skip all that this time by just putting it in for four minutes.

Four minutes later, in place of the box-promised "delicous cup of rich, sweet, creamy cappuccino", there was, well, this:

Now you can say all you want that maybe four minutes is a bit excessive. You could say that the instructions said 3/4 of a cup, as in the unit of measure, not cup as in the variable-sized drinking vessel. But I think the driving force behind this little drink-turned-science-experiment was putting the powder mix in the microwave. Somehow, the combination of the powder, water and microwaves caused all but about a quarter-inch of water to expel out of the mug and onto the microwave tray, while hardening the powder and water froth to give it the texture and appearance of coral. For a minute I wondered if I'd stumbled upon a delicious new treat in the form of hardened rocks of cappuccino, but I was sadly mistaken. Still, it was surprisingly chewy for something that cemented itself to the wall of the mug.

Today, I made popcorn. The bag said two minutes. The bag is a filthy liar.

So let's see, with the caramel, cappuccino and popcorn, that's microwave 3, man 0.

Speaking of fires, I can climb the highest mountain, cross the wildest sea, I can feel St. Elmo's Fire burnin' in me, burnin' in me...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Unsolicited Information: Things I Did Not Know

July 9th. This is only my 19th post of 2007. I should probably pick up the slack a little bit, huh? Still, that averages out to almost 3 a month, which is better that some people. If you haven't read Schprock's blog, you're probably still wondering what happened with good ol' "Open Casket" Joe and his latest whopper. Well tough clams, I haven't gotten to that yet. Instead, here's an informative yet unsolicited glimpse into a series of trivial matters I only just recently discovered.

Until about a week ago, I thought that show was called Sex in the City. Then I played a trivia game where the show was the answer to one of the questions and I got it wrong. It's Sex AND the City. Huh. You learn something new everyday. I've never seen the show, but I don't think I like the real title as much; it makes it sound like Sex and the City are the two main characters, like B.J. and the Bear. At least with Sex IN the City, you know the show's premise...a bunch of women having sex in the city.

I always get Andy Garcia and Gabriel Byrne mixed up. I don't know why, they don't really look alike, but I can never remember which one was in The Usual Suspects. USELESS TRIVIA: Gabriel Byrne was in Enemy of the State with Barry Pepper, who was in Saving Private Ryan with Matt Damon, who was in Ocean's Eleven with Andy Garcia.

Here's one I just found out today: in the Steppenwolf song "Magic Carpet Ride", the guy finds Aladdin's lamp and makes a wish, but someone steals the lamp. That part I knew. But I always thought after looking around, a lousy can was all he found. Turns out it's a candle. See?

Last night I held Aladdin's lamp
And so I wished that I could stay
Before the thing could answer me
Well, someone came and took the lamp away
I looked around, a lousy candle's all I found

Not that it really matters, I mean, he could have found some chewed gum or a Franklin Mint M*A*S*H Commemorative plate, he wouldn't get any wishes out of it. I guess candle makes more sense, because it serves the same purpose as a lamp. But in my head, I'm going to continue imagining some guy rummaging around and finding an old can of beets or something.

For the longest time I thought John Mellencamp wanted WBZ sports icon Bob Lobel to come and save his soul in "Jack and Diane".

So let it rock
Let it Roll
Let the Bible Belt come and save my soul

Once again, I kind of like my version better.

Let Bob Lobel come and save your soul

Non it pronounced like Ecuador or equator? I'm never sure how to say it so I try to avoid saying it altogether.

Well that's it. Will there be another post this week, or even this month? Maybe. The only way to find out is to obsessively check back here every few minutes, which I highly recommend.