Thursday, March 31, 2011

Memo To Baseball Fans Everywhere

Yesterday was Opening Day for some teams, with the remaining Major League Baseball teams opening today.

Football is my favorite sport, but baseball has always been a close second. One of the things I don't like about baseball, however, is the fans' sense of humor. It's not that baseball fans don't have a sense of humor. It's that they have a tired and shop-worn sense of humor.

This is particularly problematic around Opening Day, when hope springs eternal and everybody's passion is at its highest, and it comes out in bad jokes and, in this day and age, social networking posts such as the one below...

<<In honor of [your team's] Opening Day, put this as your status if you know someone who suffers from being a [your team's rival] fan. Being a [your team's rival] fan is a real disorder and should be taken seriously. There is still no known cure for being a [your team's rival] fan and sympathy does not help, but we can raise awareness. 100% of [your team's] fans will repost this...simply because we know how to copy and paste, as well as tie our shoes and win.>>

Here's another one...

<<..A [your team] fan, a [neutral third team] fan, & a [your team's rival] fan are climbing a mountain & arguing about who loves his team more. The [neutral third team] fan insists he is the most loyal. ''This is for the [neutral third team]', he yells, & jumps off the mountain. Not to be outdone, the [your team] fan is next to profess his love for his team. He yells "This is for the [your team]!!!" & pushes the [your team's rival] fan off the mountain. (Repost if you're a [your team] fan!!)>>

 This is followed by hoots and hollers and thumbs-ups and Re-Tweets, as if this joke came fresh out of last night's opening monologue from Jay Leno or some other comic genius who, luckily, just happens to be a fan of their team!

Which is silly. These are the same tired one-liners I've been hearing since I was in grade school. And anybody with half a brain can tailor these jokes as they wish, cutting and pasting their hated rivals into the punchline, as I just proved above. I've seen the above posts tailored toward both Red Sox and Yankee fans, depending on where the poster's rooting interests lie, and I'm sure in other parts of the country Cubs and Cardinals fans, Dodgers and Giants fans, and fans of every other baseball team do the same thing.

 It's old. It's boring. It's lazy. Can someone at least think of something a little more original?

I mean, come on, everybody knows Red Sox and Yankee fans would never go mountain-climbing together.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

April Whine Day

I know what's coming Friday, and I'm sick of it.

No, I'm not talking about the snow.

I'm talking about the people bitching and moaning and whining about the snow.

According to Channel 5, Boston is expected to get a dusting to 2 inches of snow on Friday. In my neck of the woods (Worcester) we're supposed to get 2-6 inches. I trust Channel 5 because they tend to only moderately embellish snowfall totals -- if Channel 5 says 2-6 inches, then Worcester will end up getting 1.8 inches. On Channel 7, if they say we're expected to get 12-24 inches, it means we're getting a dusting.

I know snow can be a pain in the ass, especially after the kind of winter we just had. If we get two feet of snow, like we did on April Fool's Day 1997, then I get people's frustration. I highly doubt that will happen. Besides, this is NEW ENGLAND, people. We get snow in April. It happens every year.

Here are the facts. In an AVERAGE April,. Boston receives 1.1 inches of snow and Worcester, which is farther inland and at a higher altitude, receives 3.3 inches of snow. Unless Harvey Leonard totally undershot the forceast, which I doubt, Friday's snowfall is perfectly in line with a normal April.

So I don't want to hear from people complaning, "Waah, I have to go outside and shovel," or, "Waaaah, my hydrangias froze," or, "Waaaaaah, 1.8 inches of snow is going to ruin my Friday night plans." I have plans this Friday night, too, and I'll drive carefully and move forward with them.

Snow in April -- that's how we roll up here. Let's stop the bellyaching and remember what Mark Twain said -- if you don't like the weather in New England, wait a minute. Or move to Arizona.

Hope Springs Eternal

This is interesting. Though I can't find it anywhere on, Channel 7 reports that Sports Illustrated is picking the Red Sox to win the World Series.

Not sure how I feel about this. I think the Red Sox are capable of winning the World Series, given their talent level and steady manager, Terry Francona. In the offseason they added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.

But people forget they also lost a couple of pretty good hitters in Victor Martinez and Adrian Belte. Besides, hitting wasn't the problem last year -- the Red Sox were second in Major League Baseball in runs scored (818) last season.

They will need to avoid the injury problems that plagued them last year. They also need more consistent pitching from guys like Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Therein lies the rub. They've bolstered their bullpen, which blew a lot of games for them last year, by adding Bobby Jenks, but he's probably on the downside of his career.

Then there's the issue of the SI jinx. At least they're not on the cover -- that honor goes to the Phillies this year. But SI has made some bad calls before. In 1987 they picked the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series and they lost 100 games that year.

We'll see.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Not Angry Enough

Hey New Englanders, it's time for a wake-up call:

I've lived in New England most of my life, and we bring certain things to the table. We're stoic and unfriendly. We're wiseasses who keep to ourselves. And we're proud of it.

So you can imagine how incensed I was yesterday when I saw an article that ranked the angriest cities in America, and Boston ranked only 20th. That's right, Boston. The de facto capital of New England. Twentieth.

It gets worse. Of the 19 cities ahead of Boston, nine of them are in the Old South. This is bullshit. We can't even out-piss-off cities in a region of the country known for its hospitality.

As if that wasn't insulting enough, there's more salt in the wound.  The least angry city in America is Burlington, VT, which is also in New England.

Now, I'm not 100% sold on the criteria for this study -- aggravated assaults per capita, number of people with high blood pressure, amount of time spent in traffic during rush hour and anger-management specialists per capita. Seems a little like throwing spaghetti against the wall. Also, I find it hard to believe that New York City, where angry is a state of mind, ranked 43rd angriest -- one behind Manchester, N.H. (though as a New Englander I do take a certain amount of pride in that).

Still, we can do better. And we will do better. What the fuck, New England? We can do better. We can do angrier.

Let's Make a Deal

A couple of years ago CBS wheeled out Let's Make a Deal from old-show basement and rebooted it. The new version stars Wayne Brady.

I was a game-show nut growing up, but LMAD was the one game show I never really got into. For some reason I always found Monty Hall a little creepy, maybe being a little too realistic as the game-show host/used-car salesman.  And people dressing up in costume just seems weird. And I find it odd that they get suckered into bad deals so easily. For example:

Wayne: "I'm about to give you $2,000, but I'll let you trade it in for what's behind Curtain #2. And I'll give you a hint, the prize behind that curtain has four wheels."

Contestant (dressed up as Captain Zonk): "I'm taking CURTAIN #2. WHOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

(Curtain reveals to find four wheelbarrows)

Anyway, Wayne Brady is entertaining and that makes this somewhat watchable. But this isn't appointment television, and example of when life is better with the TV off.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Lost Art of WEEI

In the past few weeks WEEI has really shaken things up.

Gone is The Dale & Holley Show middays from 10am-2pm. Michael Holley has taken his talents to 2pm, where he now teams up with Glenn Ordway on The Big Show. The other half of D&H, Dale Arnold, is now in some sort of floating purgatory -- he does Sundays with Steve Buckley, occasional Red Sox games, and is a fill-in for when other regular show hosts take vacation time (which probably means that when Glenn Ordway takes his annual summer vacation, Dale and Holley will be back together from 2-6). D&H have been replaced by some guy named Mike Mutnansky and old Providence College and Red Sox friend Lou Merloni in the Mut and Merloni show.

This feels like a panic move.

For years WEEI was the 800-pound gorilla in the sports talk radio market, the only game in town. From time to time other radio stations would switch to an all-sports format to compete with 'EEI, but with little financial backing from their corporate owners and an on-air staff of glorified college interns and an occasional pseudo-big name, it would always be a short-lived challenge. 

Then in late summer 2009, a new kid came to town -- 98.5 The Sports Hub. Not only did it have the backing of CBS Radio, which allowed it to take over as flagship staton of the New England Patiots, but it also stole some of EEI's on-air talent -- Michael Felger, Jon Wallach, Tony Massarotti. Suddenly there was an hip, edgy new home for sports talk radio.

This forced WEEI to adjust -- gone were the 15-minute commercial breaks and long soliloquies from Ordway or John Dennis or Gerry Callahan about nothing in particular, or, worse, about golf. Pete Sheppard, Big Show Flash Boy, was let go in a cost-cutting move. But this apparently wasn't enough. A disappointing 2010 Red Sox season led to more declining ratings at 'EEI (the Red Sox flagship station).

And now, this.

I understand 'EEI wanting to make changes. It's probably a good thing. (I mean, who the hell wanted to sit through 15-minute commercial breaks?)  But these are not the best changes, I fear.

I'm totally down with "reassigning" Dale Arnold. He's boring. He seems physiologically incapable of being critical of anyone or anything without qualifying it ("I'm not saying the Red Sox' bullpen is weak, but..."). He's the stodgy, middle-aged man who lives down the street from all of us, the one we try to avoid conversing with because he never has anything interesting to say. That's bad enough in real life, it's worse when you're being paid large sums of money to do it on the radio.

But Michael Holley carried the D&H show. And moving him off of middays and alongside Glenn Ordway, 'EEI's other quality on-air talent, is like signing Peyton Manning to back up Tom Brady. You're bolstering a position of strength while ignoring weaknesses elsewhere.

And this is where I have the biggest problem with what 'EEI is doing.

The Big Show was at its peak, its most entertaining, hilarious self, when Ordway was the ringleader of a round-table format.  He shared the studio with Pete Sheppard and two other guests-of-the-day, depending on what was going on in the sports world -- Steve DeOssie and Fred Smerlas the day after a Patriots game, Steve Buckley and Sean McAdam after a big Red Sox game, Cedric Maxwell after a big Celtics game.  And they all complemented each other perfectly -- Ordway was the rich, spoiled brat with the luxury-box seats, Sheppard the yahoo Boston sports fan, and everyone else filled in the gaps. End the show with the "Whiner Line" and you have four hours of ecstasy.

Now Sheppard is gone, a victim of the economy, and with the onset of Holley the roundtable guests have been axed as well. Only the Whiner Line remains, and even that isn't as funny any more.

I understand the rationale behind getting rid of Sheppard -- it makes no economic sense to pay someone six figures to be a glorified Flash Boy.  But the show has also lost something, the ensemble cast that made it so appealing. Granted, in the Golden Age of the Ordway-Sheppard Big Show (2001-08) the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics were also winning championships, which certainly heightened the show's appeal, but each of those teams is still competitive enough to win it all given the right circumstances.  The irony is, in a lot of ways, Felger and Massarotti, 98.5's afternoon drive show and Big Show competition, is everything the Big Show used to be but isn't anymore -- loud, outspoken hosts who would poke fun of themselves just as much as they made fun of callers.

It's a smart idea for 'EEI to make moves in response to the competition. But they have to be the right moves. With these moves, I fear 'EEI may have just handed the baton over to 98.5 for good.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Charter Screws Up Again

Something's up with the cable again. The volume's all fucked up and everyone's talking in a deep, deep voice.

This is not the worst thing in the world. It makes that Planet Fitness where the dude keeps saying "I lift things up and put them down" that much more entertaining. It also makes SpongeBob sound more interesting, as well as any female voice and the voiceover guy on SyFy Channel ("Next on SyFY Channel -- "Death Tunnel").

After a half-hour, though, I can see it really getting on my nerves. I think I may have to go out for some breakfast to get a break from it until Charter gets its head out of its ass.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wheel of Fortune

I watch Wheel of Fortune on occasion. When I was a kid my grandmother and I would watch and see which of us could solve the puzzle first.

But you don't have to be a regular Wheel Watcher to be bombarded with commercials on Channel 4 the past month about their special show Thursday, in which a contest winner got to be Vanna White for the day. So I decided I should watch last night. I mean, what if the guest Vanna was cute?

One problem -- Channel 4 is also CBS, which means Thursday is also NCAA Tournament night, which means there was no Wheel of Fortune on last night.

Why the hell did Channel 4 run all those ads when they knew well in advance they wouldn't be televising Wheel?

I checked my listings, and Channel 4 will be airing an episode of Wheel at 2:37 a.m. Not sure if I want to stay up that late to find out. With my luck, it'll end up being a repeat. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Marshall Islands -- Where Coke Really Is the Real Thing

Yesterday, the President of the Marshall Islands announced he's legalizing cocaine in his microstate.

About time. 

I don't endorse cocaine use, nor do I use cocaine. But it's not because I'm worried about going to jail. It's because I'm worried about dying.

We should all follow the example of the Marshall Islands. Can we all admit The War on Drugs is a colossal failure? Seen footage from Northern Mexico lately? Or Colombia? Or Bolivia? The term War in Drugs dates back the early 70s, when President Nixon signed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 into law.

Thanks to the War on Drugs, we waste taxpayer money on law enforcement, court time, extra prison space and covert military operations abroad.

We make enemies abroad when we spray herbicides abroad, because we also kill legitimate crops and damage fragile ecosystems.

We make enemies here at home because the War on Drugs dredges up issues of race and economic disadvantage through sentencing guidelines.

Thanks to mandatory-minimum sentencing, people who possess small amounts of drugsb can serve years in prison, while violent criminals get eleased early thanks to prison overcrowding.

Seventy-five percent of Americans think the War on Drugs has failed.

Have people stopped doing drugs? No. People do drugs at similar rates as they always have. So why do we continue to fight the War in Drugs?

Is anybody listening?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Census Update

Since I spent nearly two years working for the Census Bureau, and I'm kind of a numbers geek, I feel like the taxpayers should get their money's worth.

I present to you the most populous municipalities in Massachusetts:

1) Boston -- 617,594, an increase of 28,453 and 4.83 percent over 2000. People talk about how Massachusetts is losing population and a Congressman, and certainly this is true compared to the South and West, where there's still plenty of open space left to settle. But this is actually Boston's biggest increase in total population since the 1950 Census, and the biggest percentage increase since the 1920 Census. So something must be bringing people in.

2) Worcester -- 181,045 and the home of yours truly. An increase of 8,397. I'm proud I had something to do with it. It doesn't look like Rhode Island's numbers have been released yet, so until I see Providence's numbers I won't know if I live in the second of third largest city in New England.

3) Springfield -- 153,170

4) Lowell -- 106,519

5) Cambridge -- 101,355

The total population in Massachusetts is  6,547,629, an increase of 198,532 (3.1 percent) over 2000.

There ya go. Your tax dollars at work. Don't say I never provided a service for you.


Monday, March 21, 2011

RIP Knut (2006-2011)

A warning to Charlie Sheen: media circuses can be deadly.

Just ask Knut, the polar bear who became a celebrity a few years ago when his mother rejected him at a German zoo. All the high living, the babes, the booze, the sex.

Knut died over the weekend. He was 4 1/2.

Winning? More like dying.

Shark Tank

One of my favorite midseason replacements last year was Shark Tank, a reality TV show in which wannabe entrepreneurs lobby for financial backing from five self-made multimillionaire tycoons. The tycoons, from varied industries (real estate, tech, fashion), if they're interested in the project, offer to write a check for a large sum of money in exchange for a percentage of the business.

Shark Tank is back. ABC has launched a second season of it, which began last night (normally it'll air on Friday nights, apparently replacing Supernanny). I missed the first half, because I was watching Family Guy and didn't know it was on. But the second half was a good time.

One thing I like is that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is one of the new sharks, replacing Kevin Harrington, an informercial guru who was boring and never bid on any projects. According to the trailers Jeff Foxworthy will also be a replacement on certain episodes, which seems a little weird to me, though he is rich and you could argue he's an expert on the comedy/entertainment brand.

The other four sharks -- tech moguls Robert Herjavek and Kevin O'Leary, real estate tycoon Barbara Corcoran and FUBU founder Daymond John -- are back and entertaining to watch. Kevin is the real "shark" of the shark tank, the guy you would expect to steal pennies from a dead man's eyes. Barbara and Robert  will often fight with Kevin and put him in his place. And Daymond usually sits there silently until he wants to make an offer.

Last night they weren't in a giving mood, as they all rejected the two wanna be business owners, though I can't blame them. One as a cool guy who wanted to sell shrimp burgers (an intriguing but not super-original idea with high overhead) and the second owned a winery and wanted to sell wine from cans (interesting, but he wouldn't separate the wine and bottling businesses). Watching Kevin and this guy go back and forth on the numbers for the final 10 minutes was pretty fascinating.

Anyway, it's nice to see the sharks back. I look forward to more episodes.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spell Check

I had a blog all set for today. It wasn't a great blog. But it was serviceable. It would've gotten the job done.

Then I hit spell check.

Or at least I thought I hit spell check. I somehow hit the wrong button and deleted the entire blog.

It's not a timely blog. It's something I'll probably rewrite for next week.

But for now, I think I'll just write a blog about how I'm angry at myself for deleting my own blog. Nice job, Phil.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

When Four Networks Are Worse Than One

I like basketball but wouldn't call myself a huge fan. I'll flip on the Celtics here and there to see what the score is, and have an idea of where they sit in the standings throughout the year. But, until the playoffs start, I don't watch the C's from tipoff to final buzzer. And I don't watch any college basketball until the NCAA tournament starts.

And now CBS is testing that. This year, CBS is partnering with TBS, TNT and TruTV (Really? TruTV? Didn't that used to be CourtTV?  I mean, I know basketball is played on a court, but that's stretching the definition) and so the games are broadcast on all four networks. The hook is that every game is televised in its entirety.

This is a stupid idea.

The whole appeal of March Madness is live look-ins. If you're watching the BU-Kansas game, and Washington-Georgia is tied with 5 seconds left, CBS would keep BU on the corner of the screen while giving us a live look-in of the UW-UGA finish. Now, I have to check the scoreboard crawl at the top of the screen, then flip the channel. CBS claims they'll still bring these critical junctures, but they whiffed on the finish of the Temple-Penn State game, which was decided on a bucket with .4 seconds left, because they were in a commercial break. And, as best as I can tell, I don't even have TruTV on my cable package.

I know that, as a guy, I'm supposed to have this uncontrollable urge to cradle, caress and fondle the remote control. But the less I need to change the channel, the better. I don't want to have to flip through four different channels to get my college basketball fix. Maybe I'll be able to adjust. Maybe I'll feel differently next year. But right now, CBS has ruined March Madness for me.

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

I used to get really fired up for St. Patrick's Day, even though I don't have a trace of Irish in me. I'd try to get the day off work (on those days that it fell on a weekday), and if I could pull that off I'd wake up at 8 a.m. and find a place to quaff some Guiness at a nearby tavern.

This never happens anymore. Yesterday I woke up at 8 a.m., but it was to go to the gym. I killed myself at the gym (to the point where I'm now sore) and went home and watched the college basketball tournament (more on that in tomorrow's blog). Then I wrote for a little while, flipped over to American Idol, wrote some more and watched some more hoops and went to bed.

I didn't even think about trying to make plans for St. Patrick's Day.

I guess this means I'm getting old.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mason's Road

Hey, you fiction-writing types, here's your chance.

As one of the fiction editors of Mason's Road, an online literary journal sponsored by Fairfield University's MFA in Creative Writing, I'm inviting anyone who's written short stories to submit your masterpieces anytime between now and May 1.

(Oh, we also publish nonfiction, poetry, drama and craft essays -- chicks dig craft essays.  But I'm only involved in the fiction operation.)

If you have any questions, let me know. Happy writing.

New Yoga Poses

I've immersed myself in yoga lately, for a variety of reasons -- it's a great workout, it has a calming influence on me, and there are a couple of yoga scenes in my novel.

Every so often I still learn a new pose.  For example, I just learned that there is a crocodile pose, which looks relaxing, and a scorpion pose, which looks painful and I doubt I will ever be able to perform.

I'm proposing some other poses. I think in the interest of promoting yoga, I think we should figure out a way to make these work.

*Snoopy pose (I think I can make an executive decision that this would involve lying on your back on top of a doghouse-shaped mat)
*Tyrannosaurus pose
*Jaguar pose
*Armadillo pose (would have to involve curling up into a ball)
*Coca-Cola can pose
*Aardvark pose
*Cheburashka pose
*Salmon pose

We'll see if this catches on.

Monday, March 14, 2011

One Space Or Two?

Somewhere -- though I can't find it now -- there was a place saying it's okay to leave one space between period and new sentence, instead of the traditional two.

I've been accused of being a minimalist, so maybe I'm just falling into character. But I kind of like it. Tighter.  Maybe a little more busy on the page but I don't care.

How does everyone else feel about this?

Too Lazy

I'm driving home from White City Plaza, a few minutes away from my house.  At the intersection, I'm behind an SUV idling at the green light.

The car must be stalled, waiting for AAA or a tow.  When it's safe to do so, I intend on pulling into the next lane so I can pass the car.

As I'm waiting, a fat guy crosses the street, walking toward the idling SUV with a Papa Gino's pizza in his hands.  He opens the door to the car, gets in and drives off.

This is what it's come to.  We're too lazy to park now. We have to stop our cars in the middle of the street to pick up fast food.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Last night SyFy Channel premiered Battle of Los Angeles.

Not Battle: Los Angeles that you've been seeing trailers for.  Battle of Los Angeles.

SyFy does a lot of work with The Asylum, a studio that specializes in "mockbusters," movies that are ripped off from the blockbusters of the day.  They've put out other gems such as Transmorphers, Snakes on a Train and The Da Vinci Treasure

(In The Asylum's defense, they do also produce some movies with no tie-ins/ripoffs to other current blockbusters, and these actually tend to be good, such as the award-winning
Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, starring Debbie Gibson and Tiffany.)

I did not see B:LA Friday night when it premiered in theaters.  I did, however, watch BoLA when it premiered on SyFy on Saturday.  There's a creepy monster, spaceships, an alien plot and a general who sounds like Wolfman Jack.  Oddly, Los Angeles is obliterated eight minutes into the movie.  (Or maybe it's not so odd.  Maybe that's part of The Asylum's evil plan.)

The folks at The Asylum should do their next movie about a sinister studio's plan to deceive people into thinking they're watching one movie when  they're really watching another.

Friday, March 11, 2011


It's looking more and more like the 2011 NFL Season will be at least shortened. Talks between the owners and players association broke down yesterday and the union voted to decertify.

To the players: stop complaining. Anyone who pursues a career in football knows both the short- and long-term health risks associated with it. Nobody forced you into this career. If you don't like it, don't play.

To the owners: you make shitloads of money, and you opted out of the current CBA two years ago. What did you expect would happen? Get a grip.

They have until Sept. 8, which is when the regular season is set to start, so I'm not panicking yet. But this is stupid. There's no reason why they can't come to the table and hammer out an agreement.

Besides, the last thing I want is the Green Bay Packers to be Super Bowl champs for an extra year. (Okay, okay, it's slightly better than having the Pittsburgh Steelers being Super Bowl champs for an extra year, but not much.)

I'm Back

I took a couple days off to finish an excerpt from my novel.

It was a difficult excerpt, for a variety of reasons. It took me some places emotionally that I didn't want to go.  I'm getting close to the end, which means this will become something that's prone to rejection letters, rather than a concept or something that's hidden in the back of my closet.  And it just didn't come as naturally as some of the other portions of the novel.  And as I've noted before, I'm a lousy multitasker.

This means I'm not as perfect as I'd like to be.  I can only do so much, and can't beat myself up for it.  There are worse things in the world than a failure to multitask -- I'm told there was an earthquake in Japan yesterday, and Charlie Sheen is still Charlie Sheen, and there is still strife and corruption across the world.

All I can do is keep trying to the best of my abilities.  I'll try and make up for the lost blog day at some point in the future. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

As Bad As It Gets

Here's how bad it's gotten for me:

Charlie Sheen is writing poetry.

Snooki from Jersey Shore has published a novel.

And I'm still trying to finish my novel.

So using the logic of rock-paper-scissors, I'm a lesser writer than Charlie Sheen or Snooki.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Multitasking In the World of Writing, Or the Failure Thereof

A realization I've come to in the past few days -- when it comes to writing, it's nearly impossible for me to keep the fiction and nonfiction sides of my brain turned on simultaneously.  Seriously.  It took me about 20 minutes to write that first sentence.

In the next 24-48 hours I have to send out a packet of about 27-34 pages of my novel to my mentor.  All my creative energy is (attempting) to go toward that.  This leaves little creative energy for my blog.  I fear that this is how it will be for a few days.

I apologize.  I've failed you again.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Charlie Sheen and the Wacky World of Oversensitive Warlocks

You knew this was coming -- some warlocks in Salem are offended by Charlie Sheen's "Vatican assassin warlock" comment.

I wish we could go back to the days when you could call someone a warlock and it had a positive connotation. And I wish warlocks would take back these words and wear them with pride.  Or at least just roll with the punches, cast a spell on the offender and move on with their lives.

Come on warlocks!  Get a thicker skin!

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent, least of all a troubled actor and his collection of goddesses and bloody tigers.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Weekend In

Recently my social life went on an unexpected uptick.  For some reason, lots of things were going on, which kept me busy on Friday and Saturday nights.

This weekend it's been just me sitting at home (and an occasional IM). I'm thankful for the respite from weekend activity.  It's actually nice to sit here and get some writing done.

Not that it's great writing, but at least it's something.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Having a bad week?  Had customer service issues in both the public and private sectors? 

Well, sit down and relax.  I have just the thing for you.

Recently a Russian friend of mine enlightened me with the pure genius of Cheburashka, a stop-motion animation sensation (though in the above link he doesn't appear until 2:45, so be patient).  He's a big-eared, 5-year-old-boy-sized, previously unknown creature who, in a series of Soviet cartoons, got stuck in a crate of oranges and wound up transported to Moscow, where he begins life again in a whole new series of misadventures with Gena, an accordion-playing crocodile who plays chess with himself for fun. The antagonist is some crazy old bag of a woman who has a pet rat.

It's great theater.  On the strength of just four episodes (about 70 total minutes), Cheburashka has won me over.  I'm a huge fan.  If you're not familiar with him, you will be too. 

It's too bad that over a 14-year period, only four Cheburashka episodes were made.  Apparently Soviet Disney (or whatever their equivalent was) didn't have much of a budget for stop-motion animation.

Goddam Soviets.  They could have made Cheburashka a universal brand, and instead they opted for the dictatorship of the proletariat.  No wonder their economy collapsed.


National Bad Customer Service Week

Since mediocre customer service has been the Theme of the Week, and since I'm deeply immersed in fiction right now and want to dust off something quick, here's an incident from last night.

I go to the convenience store down the street, where I pick up the following items:

* Two Coca-Colas (because they're this week's special: buy-one-get-one-free).

* Two Reese's peanut butter eggs (because with the accompanying coupon they're buy-one-get-the-second-at-half-price).

This should satsify my sugar fix for the next two days. I go to the counter, where someone I don't recognize is working. However, he has "Senior Sales Associate" affixed to his name badge. So I'm confident.

He rings everything up. The total comes to $5.26.

He's completely ignored the specials

"Aren't the Cokes buy-one-get-one-free?" I ask.

"Oh yeah, sorry." He deletes the second one from the transaction.

Then he rings up the total again -- $3.62.

"I have a coupon for those," I say, pointing to the peanut butterr eggs.

"Oh yeah, sorry."

Finally, everything is scanned corrrectly. $3.12.

It must be National Bad Customer Service Week.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Keystone Karriers, Part Three

My package has been found and is now in my possession. The carrier put it in the wrong slot the other day when she returned to the post office, so it almost went back to the sender, which would've been a huge problem.

I got a very profuse apology from the postmaster. And apparently the carrier is mafraid to come to my apartment complex now for fear of running into me.

The guy at the counter was much more apologetic and friendly yesterday when I crossed paths with him again to.

It only took two days, but all's well that ends well.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Keystone Karriers, Part Two

Today I went back to the post office to try to reclaim the package they seem to have lost.

It's still missing.

The only solace I have is that one of the other folks at the counter was talking about the guy I spoke to yesterday. He rolled his eyes and said, "Oh yeah, him. Working with him is like working alone."

The saga continues...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Keystone Karriers

Yesterday a package came for me in the mail, but I wasn't here to sign for it.  I know what it is.  It's an important package.  The carrier left a note for me that it would be available to sign for today at the post office in downtown Worcester.

I go down there this morning.  The guy at the counter disappears for 10 minutes and then he comes back and this conversation ensues:

Him: "It's lost."

Me: "What do you mean it's lost?"

Him: "Well it's not lost, the carrier has probably already left for his daily rounds. He'll bring it to you this morning."

Me: "I won't be home this morning."

Him: "He'll leave another note for you."

Me: "Can't they just leave it here so I can pick it up?"

Him: "You have to sign for this package."

Me: "I can sign for it here."

Him: "It's not here right now."

Me: "The note says it's available for pickup March 1, right?"

Him: "Yes."

Me: "Today's March 1, right?"

Him: "Yes."

Me: "How am I supposed to pick up this package if you keep trying to deliver it when I'm not home, and when I come here it's not here?"

Him: "I don't know."

Me: "What is this, the Keystone Kops?  This is really lousy service."

Him: "I can live with it."

What an asshole.  This is the absurdity of our bloated inefficient postal service.  By the way, you'll hear postal service employees tell you that the Postal Service is self-sufficient and privately funded and does not receive taxpayer money. This statement is total bullshit.  The United States Postal Service is supposed to be self-sufficient.  But every year that the USPS runs a deficit -- which, of course, happens every year -- they borrow from the U.S. Treasury to cover the gap. 

Where do they think the U.S. Treasury money comes from?

It's nice to know my important packages are in such capable hands.