Archive for July, 2006

In Which I Miss The Nineties, Got Something For Free And Felt Profoundly Creeped Out

July 24th, 2006 No comments

Why don’t you just stay in your little cow-town, meet a little cowgirl and have little cow-babies?

A month or so we needed groceries.  The weekend flew by and the shopping didn’t happen, so on a Sunday night around 9:30pm, I ventured out to Stop And Shop.  The parking lot looked suspiciously empty.  Lucky me, I gloated as I parked the car and made for the front door.

“We’re closed,” Sammy Stopnshop informed me.

This sentence made no sense.  Ok, it’s not New York, but last I check we’re down the street from a major metropolitin area.

“Wha?,” I asked.

“Closed,” he repeated, “We close at 9pm.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?!”  I tried to stop myself from saying this.  I failed.  The kid shrugged, non-plussed.  “I….it’s….cl-…wha?”  I stumbled off, dazed.

Remember the 90’s when everyone rolled up their stock options and snorted vast amounts of cocaine which companies supplied gratis as motivation to work ungodly hours?  Ok, I didn’t but…um…I heard about folks who did.  (Or at least a friend told me.)  The point is this – everything was open 24/7.  Everything.  We were all so busy cranking out code, maintaining servers or blowing venture capitalists for companies like eYak, or eForksOnline or Zooba that nobody left work until 3am.  Need food at 4am?  Hell, yes, we’re open!  Even scarier were the number of other sleep deprived cubicle jockeys picking up a case of Crank2o at that time of the morning.

And, then, well…you know the rest of the story.  In one version the letter read – “The board will buy back your stock options (bought for 1500 bought for $250) for one dollar.  This is not a per-share price.  This is the price for all 1500.”

A couple years later, we’re looking at a 9pm closing.

Thankfully, I remembered this as I jumped in the car.  Against my well-entrenched hatred of Shaws/Star Market*, I had no choice.  The TVs stay on until midnight there.

I’m not sure if the Mt. Auburn Shaws/Star Market* was built over an Indian burial ground but something disturbing generally happens there.  Tonight, it manifest itself in the form of a short, overweight 50-something woman in a pink track suit (“the Southie tuxedo”, as EJ Murphy calls it) pushing a full-size shopping cart with upwards of thirty pink stick of women’s antipersperant.  That was all.  No food.  No liquor.  No kitty litter.  Just antipersperant.  Were they on sale?  Does she sweat that much?  Does she buy stocking stuffers early?

I can answer none of these questions.  Satre would have felt nauseous, but then he usually did anyway.

Shaws/Star Market* runs a new wacky checkout scam now.  They call it Xtreme Savings.  A better name, however, might be “Getting Rid Of Shit That No One Bought”.  It works this way – the store obligate your cashier to mention this OUTSTANDING DEAL as you’re check out.  If the cashier is too bored or doesn’t speak enough English to tell you about the OUTSTANDING DEAL then you get the item ABSOLUTELY FREE!

A few months ago, I found myself at the checkout counter of Shaws/Star Market* faced with a quandry.  The cashier had not pointed out the Xtreme Deal, BUT it was something along the line of Box ‘O Trans Fat ‘n’ High Fructose.  It’s free, I thought, but do I really want it?  The answer was no.  But I’d be remiss if I didn’t say the guilt mechanism didn’t play a part in the decision – to get the OUTSTANDING DEAL I needed to point out the incompetance of the cashier and possibly get her in trouble and she seemed very nice.

This evening, however, the cashier claimed she scraped her finger on a peach as she chatted with the cashier next to her.  I looked at the Chocolate Chip Mint Pop Tarts that could and would be mine.  Yes, they would probably suck, but who cares.  I really disliked her.  I waited until my card went through.

“Do I get my free Xtreme Deal?,” I asked.

“Help yourself,” she said, “they kinda scare me.”

I tossed one in the cart and left.  That was that.  No controls.   No paperwork.  Just a prayer of thanks from the manager for reducing his stock by one.

I’m listening to Blink right now, a book about behavior and the benefits of snap decisions.  This kind of promotion, in light of the book, smacks of behavioral experiment.

Bonus Item – Has anybody invented Shopping Cart Putting?  If not, I just have.  The goal is to push your shopping cart into the corral from as great a distance as possible.  Given the well-documented unpredictability of the wheels and the grade of the parking lot, it’s harder than it sounds.  Sorry to the owner of the Humvee with the dent in it.





*Personal Note To The Poor, Sad Marketing Admin That Has To Monitor The Google Alerts – Are you still on the email list?  Did you get the last one?  Guess we’ll find out, huh?

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In Which It Went Through My Head While Installing A Server

July 19th, 2006 No comments

[I spent from 5pm to 1am working by myself in a print shop assembling their new network.  You never know whether weeds or flowers will germinate in your head.  I’m still not sure.] 

She’s furious.

“Why did you invite him,” she hisses at her husband.

Barney arrived drunk and proceeded to clear the dance floor, first by gropingly attemping to dance with the newly-teenage girls and then, having failed, screeching for the “MOTHERFUCKING MACARENA”.

“This is our daughter’s bat mitzvah, Sid,” she continues, “and your goddamn brother is ruining it!  What posessed you to invite him?!”

“I didn’t,” her husband replies sheepishly.

“But you told him about it, didn’t you.”  She waits as the silence damns him.  “Didn’t you.

He stares hard at the chandelier in the ballroom, thinking of Uri Geller.  If Uri Geller could bend spoons with his mind then what’s stopping him from loosening the bolts on it and sending it crashing to the floor?  Surely, something like that would switch the focus of this increasingly tense situation.  It might even fall on his brother and cave his head in.

“…know what I had to go through to get this place?  It’s the only hotel in town that would…” His wife’s fingers snap under his nose and disrupt his concentration.  “You’re not even listening to me!”  The accusation in her eyes forces him to step backwards.  She could loosen those bolts, he thinks.

“Well,” he simpers, “honey…he’s my brother.  I can’t not tell my brother about his niece’s bat mitzvah.  I mean…he’s family.”

“You fucking well could have,” she spits.  “He’s a goddamn disgrace.  47 years old and never had a girlfriend for more than a few months?  Is he gay?”

He rolls his eyes.  “He’s not gay and you know it.  It’s just…well, he just hasn’t found -”

The force of her snorts sends a jet of air that ruffles his tie.  “Hasn’t found the right girl?  There is no right girl for him.  Period.  No one can stand him.  NO ONE.  He’s got so many restraining orders on him he can barely leave the house anymore.”

“Now, that’s not fair.”

“Please.  Why do you think there’s cops outside almost every church in this town?  Because he kept hanging around Al-Anon and Overeaters Anonymous meetings trying to get some one, anyone to talk to him!  Even those poor girls have some kind of standards though.”

“So?  He’s a little…brash.”

“Brash?  Who gets a refund from a Russian bride scam?  Let me tell you something, mister, Homeland Security has a whole division working around the clock to come up with a stronger word for asshole.  And, family or not, he’s leaving.  Now.”  She turns on her heel leaving a scratch in the dance floor.


He doesn’t even have to look for him.  On the right side of the hall, girls in expensive dresses clump in a frightened huddle behind boys who form a protective wall around them.  On the left, Barney slumps at a table with three pimply faced geeks grateful that someone, anyone will talk to them.  Even with the music at top volume, Barney’s voice manages to cut through.

“Oh, yeah,” Barney slurs, “comedy is fucking hard.  I almost made it, ya know.  Oh, yeah!  Shoulda been the next big thing.  I was doing shows almosh every night o’ th’ week!  Small shows, sure, but,” he burps the word “but” making the Pimple Patrol giggle, “it’sh all about gettin’ people to shee you.  A show with 3 people ish just as important as a show with 1000 people.  You can believe that!  Then those cocksuckers put me on a blacklisht.  Yup.  They did.  ‘Don’t use Barney,’ they told everybody, ‘Barney’sh not funny.  Barney’sh fucking annoying.’  Fuck them.  Fuckety-fuckety fuck them!  Heh.  That used to be my catchphrase on stage.” 

His eyes harden.  An air of violence descends over the table making the Pimple Patrol shudder.

“Those motherfuckers.”  His voice drops to a whisper as he speaks into the bottle of Ripple he holds tightly in his hands.  “It’s all fucking set up so that the talented ones…they get fucked up the ass like an altar boy.  You little jerk-offs know what a Furry is?”

“BARNEY!”  He hits the table and the Pimple Patrol, sensing danger, scatters gratefully.  Barney blearily tries to focus on his brother.  “I didn’t see you come in!  Hey, can I talk to you a sec out in the hall.  I can barely hear myself think in here!”

Drunk as he is, Barney knows this ploy.  Out in the hallway and then security sneaks up, pins his arms behind his back and, boom, out on his ass.  It’s the same all over.  He tried to rouse himself to save face.  Some small sense of humanity prevents him from getting the cops involved but he doesn’t have to remember getting kicked out, does he?  Make the bastard break a sweat, at least.  He up-ends the bottle of Ripple and smacks his lips before looking up.

“SID!,” he bleats, “You’re wife’s a whore heh heh I’m just kidding she gives it away heh heh except for blowjobs ‘cuz she’s a Jew after all!”

Boom.  It’s over.  Sid must be working out, Barney thinks just before losing consciousness, because two years ago it took a couple of punches.

Or maybe, he say to himself,  I’m just getting old.

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In Which You Should Listen to Emma Zunz

July 18th, 2006 2 comments

It’s been quite some time since I went out to hear music.  But I’m so enamored of Emma Zunz, a duo out of Seattle, that I felt compelled to go.  And it was completely worth it.

One of the pleasure of indie stores of any kind are the employee reccomendations.  For the most part, you’re not going to get a job in a small, hip store which out possessing a modicum of hipness yourself, so when the card behing the Emma Zunz EP said something to the effect of “Kate Bush meets Tom Waits in 1750’s England” it’s a given that you have to buy it.  The music drifts over you like dense fog and you aren’t sure if you shiver from the mist or the very real possibility of a guy with a top hat and a very large butcher knife materializing before you.  That they make this happen just as effectively live as they do on the CD impresses me to no end.  I couldn’t quite figure out how they got the almost theremin sound that runs through the album.  It turns out they use a bowed electirc guitar and, surprisingly, a bass bow brings out a different tone than a violin bow.  Who knew? 

Anni Rossi started the show.  She’s a violia player who coaxes her own odd sounds from her instument.  The one song that stood out was a song about growing up in Minnesota in the winter.  She worked her bow in a circular pattern well up into the fret bringing out the scratchiness of shovelling while keeping a taut, harsh melody going.  It’s not dance music.  She played a couple of songs solo and then brought up some guys that, it turned out, played in the band that followed.

“Hey,” she yelled out, “where’s Sam?  Sam?”

Sam, it turns out, had plopped down in a seat on the other side of the bar.  After a minute or two, he poked his head around and yelled-muttered over the bar, “Yeah.  I’m not playing.  Sorry.  Not doing this one,” and went back to his table to chat with a thin, heavily tattoo’d woman.  What a dick, I thought.  Who turns down stage time?  Sure, it’s a Monday night with almost no one there, but what else is new?  She finished off with another solo song and the crowd, what little there was, went wild.

Emma Zunz got up and…well…I don’t have enough time to rhapsodize about them.  Oh, boy!

After they enchanted the crow, The Dead Science took the stage.  Eventually.  Sam, it turned out plays guitar and sings the only vocals.  Tall and lanky with Ed Grimsely hair and a rodeo/Swingers leisure shirt, he swaggered onstage and picked up a big, black stratocaster with a good eight inches of guitar string whipping around the tuning keys.  The sloppiness stood in marked contrast to his overly precious external presentation.  The band tuned up and made we’re-gonna-get-started noises.  The sound engineer faded the background music out and…

Sam started a set list conference onstage and off mike.  It went on long enough for the engineer to turn the music back on to cover the awkward silence that descend over the crowd.  At last, Sam made up his mind.  And…

Spinal Tap Mach 2?!  Some kind of odd free-jazz fusion with a-rhythmic drums, full strummed bass and jazz-chord guitar, all played heavy metal style, barrelled off the stage.  Whatever.  But then they switched to crooner-style Paul Anka on quaaludes.  Aw, hell.  And then back again.  All through it, Sam sang in this high-register, chicks-dig-falsetto voice.  You couldn’t make out the lyrics.  Maybe you weren’t supposed to or maybe the sound engineer took some well deserved revenge.  They finished the first song and, despite the fact the audience doubled by then, got half the applause of Anni and Emma Zunz.  Next song, same formula.  And the next.  And the next.

They brought up a guest backup singer for a cover of….Terrence Trent D’Arby’s Sing Your Name Across My Heart.


I realize I’m old enough to have hated this song when it came out, but let’s do a little compare and contrast.  Emma Zunz does a slow, pyschotic version of Tom Jone’s She’s A Lady.  The cover points up what a miserable prick the bastard who signs it is.  What kills you (and probably her, in this version is the final verse)

Well she knows what I’m about,
She can take what I dish out (8 beat pause)
and that’s not easy,
Well she knows me through and through,
She knows just what to do,
and how to please me. (8 beat pause)
She’s a lady

The Dead Science, as far as I could tell, covered Terrence Trent D’arby in almost the exact same style but the only motivation I could find was – “heh, heh…we cover Terrence Trent D’arby!  Pretty fucking wierd, huh?”  (Scruffy The Cat, btw, did a kick ass cover of Ode to Billy Joe).  And, if they wasn’t hacky enough, Sam introduced a song mumbling something about Emma Zunz and alternative instuments.

And the drummer pulled out a shiny new hubcap.

That’s just insulting.

I plopped down at the bar TV until the set finished.  I really wanted to thank Emma Zunz and Anni Rossi for a nice evening.

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In Which I Suck At Photoshop

July 13th, 2006 No comments

Otherwise, the visual component would lift this obscure, esoteric joke about Akira Kurosawa’s new music video “My Nips Don’t Lie” into the stratosphere of funny.
Bueller? Bueller?

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In Which I Bid Democracy A Fond Farewell

July 11th, 2006 No comments

Who knew it would be Arizona?  Except for John McCain and a churlish refusal to adopt Martin Luther King Day, Arizona seemed, if you thought about it at all, so…I don’t know…normal.  But then again, so did the BTK Killer.  And so, with a ballot initiative prepped for November, Arizona lays the seed for the death of democracy.

The issue: Arizona voter rewards: a $1 million ballot lottery

So simple and so deadly – If you vote YOU could win one millions dollars in cold, hard taxpayer cash!  But ya gotta play t’ win!

Put simply – Americans care so little about America and their responisiblity to it that the only way to get them to the polls is bribery.  “Vote?  In an election?  What’s in it for me?”  Erm…a voice in the way that you’re governed?  “Fuuuuck you.  You think I care about that when I’m gettin’ bled dry in taxes, gas is at $3 a gallon and my kid’s getting shot at in Iraq?  I got more than enough on my plate than votin’.”

It’s not just that someone came up with the idea to treat adults like a two year old who gets five bucks every time s/he uses the “big potty”.  Turning the very basis of democracy into the chance to strike it rich (outside of the grotesqueness of that statement) holds the horrifyingly real possiblity John and Jane Q. Loterywinner might walk into the polling place and, without even looking at the ballot or understanding who’s who and what’s what, randomly check off names.  Should this idea take off (and, face it, it probably will) a 2012 presidential ballot could look like this

President of the United States
[    ]  Ralph Reed
[    ]  Madonna
[ X ]  Joe Stalin Jr
[    ]  Lyndon LaRouche

Remember in the 2000 election when all those Jews in Florida voted for Patrick Buchanan?  Imagine an election where 25% of the public doesn’t even care who they vote for.

Good night and good luck.

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In Which I Offer A Paradox

July 7th, 2006 No comments
Why is it that, if they’re doing it right, born-again Christian couples look gay?
Take this fabulous couple from  Honey, with that suit and tie and that hair, you’re not even trying to follow the Lord!  Do you honestly think that Jesus ever-so-feyly cupped his cheek in his hand like that?  Oh, no, he di’int!
And, wifey, gimmee a ber-reak!  Big enough watch, dear?  Don’t wanna be late to change the oil on that ’67  Corvette you’ve got in the garage.  Then there’s leaky sink to fix, too.
Sweeties, it’s time to face the fact that Christian Reparative Therapy just doesn’t work. Get yourselves a couple of rainbow flags and stop moping around!
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In Which We’ll Go Over It One More Time

July 6th, 2006 9 comments

BROOKE left a well-reasoned refutation of my disgust over the whole Natalee thing.

You are one selfish, cold, heartless bastard and I hope you burn in hell with whoever did murder or abduct NATALEE HOLLOWAY!!!!  Dont worry if I ever see your name on TV as being abducted or murdered I will feel glad that you got your PAYBACK you sick son of a bitch…….Karma comes around and i hope it rapes your ass for being so cold hearted…….FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!  HOW WOLD YOU FEEL IF THAT WAS YOUR CHILD!!!!!??????? I hope your realize one day that life is more than just about YOU, you fucking cocksucker!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well done, BROOKE.

One word and one phrase leap out immediately.  “Selfish” and “life is more than just about YOU.”  Which is kind of the point.  I’m happy that BROOKE and her buddies found a nice hobby in Natalee.  And it is a hobby for most of them.  Once cable news finally tires of the story (and this could be years), most of the Blogs For Natalee crew will fall away and take up quilting or boycotting gay-friendly businesses.  Very few of them (and, admittedly, I have no proof of this) will make the leap from obsessing about the fate of one, specific child to working tirelessly toward the protection of all children.

BROOKE, if my child went missing (and I’d done nothing to make you call me a “fucking cocksucker”) would you honestly care?  How many children go missing in your community each year?  How many of their parents have you lent your support to?  Since I don’t know you, this is an honest question and maybe you do help everyone you can.  If so, then I hope your community appreciates your efforts.

However, the sense I get from reading the Blogs For Natalee forum is that there are a whole lot of people looking to fill a hole in their lives that, when abstracted, has nothing to do with Natalee.  They get a thrill in involving themselves in a real life soap opera.  They don’t have to watch CSI: Buttfuck, Alabama, because they live it.  It’s as if all the people who couldn’t get taken seriously by the Lady Di devotees decided to create their own cult of personality from scratch and give it a southern accent.

Beth Holloway-Twitty, through some alchemy of luck and cunning, figured out the secret formula to guilt-trip the cable new networks into keeping the American public informed of all the missing and abused children in United – OOPS!  Did I write “All the missing and abused children”?  That was a mistake.  She only interested in one very specific missing child.  Her own.  That, you might say, is selfish.  You might say to that person “life is more than just about YOU.” 

Last I checked (and since I stopped drinking and no longer black out, I say this with a high degree of certainty) I haven’t taken out a personal vendetta on a country because I didn’t get immediate results from their police force.  The Vanity Fair article on this whole mess has the parents showing up in Aruba and metaphorically pissing on the police because they hadn’t given the case top priority.  Back-asswards Aruban police (aka: incompetent “cocksuckers”) didn’t take bow down to the much smarter Holloway-Twittys who could have wrapped up the case in a heartbeat. 

Nor do I think that I’d have the ego, money and power (not to say “selfishness”) to insist that the governor of my state call for a boycott on travel to a country simply because fate conspired to take my child away from me.

Beth Hollowy-Twitty demands that the entire country step up to the plate and devote their full efforts to finding Natalee and bringing about resolution to her own personal tragedy.  The entire country.  BROOKE, just step back from your rabid hatred of me for a minute and think about that.

Done?  Good.

Now, let’s talk about what the word “selfish” means.

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In Which You Might Jump To A Diganosis

July 3rd, 2006 6 comments

Read the following

The taxpayers WILL CONTINUE TO PAY for the two buildings’ repair, upkeep, utilities, and etc. — there will be only one major change — THEY WILL NO LONGER BE USED AS LIBRARIES. And your taxes will not “go down”!

Ok.  Maybe just a little bit more

She is going to have the same amount of departments in the library — not adding departments! Does she have a crystal ball? We must not allow the branches to be closed on assumptions! — The closing of the branch libraries has been approved and the town takes over July 1, 2006, THIS IS DONE WITH NO PUBLIC PLAN FOR THE COMMUNITY USES.

When I first moved to Boston, I would see these kinds of tracts, screeds, whatever you want to call them, plastered on lamp posts, telephone poles and kiosks all the time.  Generally, they read something along the lines of

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH harbors SPACEMEN FROM MARS in the VATICAN!!!!!  Most Roman Catholic priests are actually ROYALTY FROM THE PLANET X-89B and are on this planet to CORNER THE MARKET IN ASPHALT AND VENETIAN BLINDS!!!!  I have seen them in HOME DEPOT trying to buy both items IN BULK!!!!

I had the rare privilege of watching one of these signs put up by an obese man who looked as if he hadn’t bathed since the stuff about flouride in the water came out during the Cold War.  In my second apartment in Boston, the guy I replaced would LEAVE THOSE KINDS OF NOTES for his roomates which turned out to be the reason he got kicked out.  In an odd twist of fate, I knew the people in the apartment he moved to.  They kicked him out of that apartment, as well.  I heard that his parents committed him shortly afterwards.  It turns out he wasn’t taking his pysch meds. 

This is neither of those things.  This is an excerpt from a letter to the editor in the Watertown Tab.  Who’s it from?  The cranky guy who blames gays and liberals for everything?  No.

The odd thing about this is that they REPRINT THE FORMATTING VERBATIM!!!  Including, yes, the dreaded double exclamation marks!!

I have tried desperately to be the voice of those who want to keep our libraries open — But I have been silenced!!

Someone call the fire department, it’s gettin’ HOT IN HERE!!

Enough coyness.  It’s not from a homeless person, or some random community crank.  It’s from Town Councilor Marilyn Petitto Devaney.  Yes.  A member of the local government.  It’s not her first LETTER TO THE TAB and I sure as heck hope it won’t be the last.  I remember a wonderful letter she sent accusing the Watertown Police of HARRASSMENT because she forged someone’s signature on a certificate of merit and though the person didn’t remeber giving her the OK to do it SHE SWORE THAT SHE WAS TOLD IT WAS OK.

How much more fun would life in the United States be if bush issued the same kinds of out-of-sync-with-reality pronouncements.

Oh.  Wait.  He does.

Forget it posted this.

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In Which I Find Yet Another Reason To Dislike The Beatles

July 3rd, 2006 2 comments

You say it’s your birthday

Why, yes, it is.

It’s my birthday, too, yeah

I don’t honestly give a fuck if it’s your birthday.  Why are you trying to passively aggressively co-opt the announcement of my birthday?

We’re gonna have a good time

No, I’m “gonna” have a good time and you are getting thrown out of my birthday party on your ass.  I didn’t invite you.  I don’t know who invited you.  I don’t want you here.  “Sod off”, as you say “across the pond”.

Oh?  I should be ever-so-happy to host The Beatles at my birthday party because they’re musical innovators?  So was Charles Ives and I didn’t invite him, either, and he didn’t crash my birthday party and try to make it all about him.

So.  Happy Birthday to ME.

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