Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Your Browser Is No Longer Supported By Blogger

I was toying around with an idea for a new blog, hit the new post button and this came up....

Your browser is no longer supported by Blogger. Some parts of Blogger will not work and you may experience problems.
If you are having problems, try Google Chrome. | Dismiss

I tried fooling around with various aspects of Internet Explorer to try to continue to work, but let's just say it's unwieldy at best.

WTF? Really Blogger? Has Google taken over the world? Is Google Big Brother/Goliath Corp. now?

I downloaded Google Chrome strictly for the purposes of continuing this blog and, to be honest, there are a few aspects of Chrome that make Blogger a little easier to manage (better spell-check).

Still, I hate it when I have to give in to the cyborgs. Also, I feel like Blogger is doing this to fuck with me. I like to be able to choose which browser I use, just like I like to be able to choose which soda I drink or which sports team to cheer for.

After almost a year or blogging, I finally found someone who hates my blog. Blogger.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What I Learned Today

What I learned Tuesday:

I learned that I’m a lousy writer at 8:45 a.m.

I learned that narcissists thrive on Facebook.

I learned that the cable remote control will stop working in the middle of a Red Sox-Yankees game, after I change the channel during a commercial break, forcing me to watch an episode of NCIS. And then, mysteriously, the remote will start working again an hour and 15 minutes later, for no apparent reason.

I learned that I didn’t miss much by missing the Red Sox game.  

I learned that Piers Morgan buzzes pretty much every act on America’s Got Talent.

I learned that Tropical Storm Katia is rumbling through the Atlantic, and though I don’t know if it’ll head our way yet it looks like it’ll become a hurricane soon.

Twitter Cyborgs

OK, this Twitter thing is out of control.

I've been trying to get into the habit of posting a couple of things a day on my Twitter account. My blog is easy. That's one. Then I have to try to get creative.

So this morning I just tried to get cute:

"#Redsox #Yankees game scheduled to begin tonight at 7:10 and end Sunday morning at 9:15"

Within seconds, I get an email. "LiveMLBCha​t (@LiveMLBc​hat) is now following you on Twitter!"

How the hell did they see this instantaneously and decide to follow me?

It's the cyborgs, man. They're out to get me.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Four Weddings and a Hurricane

In the midst of Hurricane Irene was the wedding of my friend Masha.

Unlike most everything else, you can't really postpone a wedding. Invites have been sent out, people fly in from out of town, etc. So off I drove to Sherborn yesterday. The road weren't too bad -- a downed tree here, a lake of water forming in the road there, but nothing too earth-shattering. As I got closer, though, I saw traffic lights that weren't working. When I pulled into the church, a guy rapped on my window and said the power was out and everything was being moved to Masha's parents' house.

We pulled in and the power was out there too. But Masha and Eddie walked down the aisle (actually, down the steps to the living room) and, outside of Irene the wedding went off without a hitch. We used candles and flashlights, set up a fire pit outside, and played music, the first time I've ever heard Pink Floyd's Pigs (Three Different Ones) at a wedding. And we drank (in my case a little too much vodka, I hope I didn't piss anyone off, things got a little fuzzy after awhile). And all the while outside the wind blew and it rained stormed.

Masha has been a big influence on my life. She was the person who, four years ago, introduced me to yoga. She also re-ignited my passion for writing. I wouldn't be writing a novel or pursuing an MFA if it weren't for her.

When I woke up this morning, Irene was gone, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Despite a little rain, it was one of the best weddings I've ever attended. I wish Masha and Eddie all the best.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Comfort

Hurricanes can really suck. So can social media.

That said, when the entire East Coast is under the gun from Irene, it's a reality check. And while it can be repetitive after awhile, it's also nice to see everyone band together on Facebook and Twitter. We argue about a lot in life -- politics, sports, personalities, etc. -- but it's refreshing when New Englanders and New Yorkers and Philadephians and Marylanders and Virginians and Carolinians can comfort each other and let everyone know on their respective statuses that (thus far) they're all OK.

Fingers crossed for one more day where we all end up safe.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Names

I apologize to the world. My blog last weekend on Hurricane Bob seems to have jinxed us, as we now have Hurricane Irene headed our way.

In an attempt to placate the hurricane gods before Sunday, I will try to come up with some kinder, gentler hurricane names that we can rename Irene.

Hurricane Skippy
Hurricane Tiffany
Hurricane Phineas
Hurricane Lady Gaga
Hurricane Cheburashka
Hurricane Linus
Hurricane Norman
Hurricane Grover
Hurricane Ochocinco
Hurricane R2D2

Hopefully one of these names works.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Router Fail

I thought my router wasn't working. I've only had it for a month. That sucks.

I went to the library today to get their wireless Internet. This meant actually going to two libraries -- because the Whitinsville library had Sluggo the Clown there today to entertain the kids, so I ended up going to the Uxbridge Library instead. Geek Squad is schedule to come over between 8 a.m. and noon Friday. This throws off my whole day.

A cursory search of the computer room a few minutes ago revealed that my roommate took the ethernet cable out of my router and plugged it into his desktop.

Now things are back to normal. I'm slightly less of a computer moron now than I was 15 minutes ago.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Millionaire Taping In NYC

Wednesday, I went on my annual pilgrimmage to New York City to see a taping of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

Normally getting to ABC studois is uneventful. Get up at 4:15 a.m., drive down to Providence train station, take Acela to Penn Station (33rd St.), walk to ABC studio (67th St.).

Here's the thing -- now that Meredith Vieira no longer does the Today show, they open the studio for taping at 9 a.m. (It used to be 10:30 a.m.).

My train gets into Penn Station at 8:45 a.m. And actually, today it was 5 minutes late.

It's a 30-minute walk from Penn Statio to ABC.

Still, my friend Susan and I were like, "They won't really let everyone in at 9 a.m. sharp."

At 9:05 a.m. I'm at Columbus Circle (59th St.) when Susan calls.

"They're letting everybody in now. Ya gotta get here quick."

So I'm huffing it up Broadway and 60th, Broadway and 61st, Broadway and 62nd. I now realie I'm still woefully out of shape. I turn onto 67th St. (by some miracle there was no oncoming traffic) andz keep running. I get to the line and I'm sweaty and drippy and tired and I look like I'm about to pass out. The guy in line next to Susan and I thinks I'm not a contestant but a political prisoner sentenced by some ruthless dictator to play Millionaire and get all the questions right or die.

Susan managed to tolerate my sweaty self for the morning and early afternoon while we watched the taping of three shows.

Guess next year I'll have to try to find an earlier train.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


This is going to be the shortest of blogs. Maybe not Twitter short, but I have a long day ahead of me (one way or another).

So I'm sorry. I feel like this will let you down, and I'll talk more about it in the not-too-distant future, but in the interest of conserving energy I'm gonna call it a blog.

More to come soon.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Brush With Greatness

I'm starting to get versed in this Twitter thing. I've been tweeting on a daily basis. I microblog about anything and everything, dinosaurs, current events, the Red Sox etc., and try to stay lighthearted and humorous.

And on Monday morning, someone responded to my Sox tweet -- Jerry Remy. (It's definitely him, it's a verified account.)

Now I'm nervous. I really have to bring Twitter my A-game. I don't want the color commentator of Red Sox games to unfollow me because I'm boring.

Pressure's on.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Facebook Stanger

One of the things about having a new laptop is that the touchpad is often unpredictable -- either too sensitive or not sensitive enough. A few weeks back this came into play when I was trying to click onto a Facebook photo and accidentally sent a friend request to a total stranger.

This really bothered me. I mean, we all have degrees of Facebook friends, but generally all of my Facebook friends are someone with whom I've at least one conversation with in the past. I've had friend requests from people who I did not know and always found them confusing and a little creepy.

So I tried figuring out if I could withdraw the friend request for a few minutes, before finding something more interesting to do on Facebook and moving on with my life.

Apparently my worries were not shared. The next morning I fired up my laptop again and saw the following email:

"[Total Stranger] (not this person's real name) accepted your friend request."

Turns out this person has close to the maximum 5,000 Facebook friends and is actually somewhat famous (i.e., this person is the subject of a Wikipedia article).

Sigh of relief. Hopefully this person will never suspect that I'm creepy.

Short Stories, By Phil

Weirdest dream ever: I'm at my graduation residency and I find out that my three published short stories  are being turned into a book.

Which is hilarious, because combined, the three short stories add up to about a 40-page book. (If you throw in "The Montana Project" you could stretch it out to about 65). But the publisher came up with a great way to sidestep that. They made it a very small book -- if you stood the book up it was only two inches tall, enabling them to stretch out what would normally be 40 pages into 224. They also threw in some pictures.

I wasn't thrilled about the bland title -- Short Stories, by Phil. Still, this was great news -- having an already published book looks good on a query letter for my novel.

Unfortunately, in the publishing world things happen at the worst possible times, and the excitement about my collection waned as a sea monster ran amok on the island.

Yet, there's a silver lining -- the Fairfield MFA faculty praised my collection as "having captured the true spirit of the sea monster." This, even though I wrote all the stories before I even knew about a monster.

Wow. And I don't even do drugs.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Twenty years ago this weekend, Hurricane Bob rolled through New England.

Usually in New England, when we get hurricanes they've been severely weakened and are no longer hurricanes and the news refers to them as "The Remnants of Hurricane XYZ..." To date, Bob is the last hurricane to hit New England as a hurricane. (In 1996, Hurricane Edouard brushed by Nantucket with hurricane-force gusts, but a hurricane has to have sustained winds of 74 mph or higher.)

I remember the day Bob hit. I was at home, and in a moment of bravado and silliness I decided to go outside and sit on the front steps.

I was living in Belmont, Mass., at the time, and being inland probably helped a great deal. It's not like I felt like I was about to blow away, but being pelted by rain and bobbing and weaving with the winds got old after 20 minutes.

It was more fun to watch from inside.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hole In One

On Thursday I went miniature golfing with a friend and her two kids. It's always fun to get together with them.

The highlight of the day came on the 14th hole, when I hit a hole in one. I mean, it's miniature golf, so who cares? I've hit two or three holes-in-one in my life on the mini golf course.

But it was one of those holes where you can't see the cup from where you begin, so you're shooting pretty blindly. I angled it perfectly along the corner of the green and in.

I'm no Tiger Woods (come to think of it, he kinda sucks these days too). Heck, I'm no mediocre, wannabe golfer. But for one hole one one day I felt like a competent putter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Final Destination

Last week, there was a murder about two blocks from where I used to live in Brighton.

On Tuesday, a father drowned and his son narrowly avoided a similar fate at the pond around the corner from where I currently live.

I'm uninvolved in either incident and safe but I feel like I'm in a bad remake of Final Destination. It's creepy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Printing Out the Draft

On Tuesday, I had to print out the first draft of my novel to send off to my new mentor.

Easier said than done.

First I ran out of paper. Off to Staples to get more.

Then my printer stopped printing and displayed the "order black cartridge" message. I didn't want to run back to Staples until I absolutely had to, so I took paper out of the printer and fed it back in -- past experience has revealed this will fool the printer to printing 20 more pages on a bum cartridge before giving me the message again. This is great, except that I had just started printing and had about 300 more pages to print. So I had to keep doing it 15 times.

The fifth time a fed the paper back in, the printer somehow changed to envelope printing, so I had to change that back to 8 1/2 x 11 sized paper printing.

On the 10th time, the printer reported to me "paper jam." So I had to pull the printer apart and clear that. Then back to feeding the printer again.

Finally, I finished printing the first draft and was able to run to the post office to ship the first draft off. Then I returned to Staples to get more black cartridge.

Writing is tough. Printing out what I've written can be even tougher.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Bachelor Pad

ABC loves to capitalize on its hit franchise The Bachelor/Bachelorette. Thus, Bachelor Pad was born.

Bachelor Pad takes past contestants from the other two shows and lumps them together in a house. They participate in silly challenges and win immunity. They flirt. The speak in sexual innuendoes. They walk around ether in clean-cut formalwear or scantily clad bathing suits.

Occasionally there are (gasp!) hookups. But the real prize is the $250,000 the winner receives.

It's really just like watching a dating reality show. And when you have contestants like Vienna,

who is the perfect reality-show contestant because she's good-looking and melodramatic, it makes the show that much more fun to watch.

So, if you're looking for TV that's gonna grow new brain cells, this is NOT that show. But for the eye candy appeal, it'll do, particularly on a night like tonight, with a dull Monday night preseason game between the Jets and Texans.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Redesign, Part Three in 3D (Or Not)

I got a lot of comments on my trippy experiments in blog redesign. A few liked it, and some didn't.

Then, I got a lot of comments on my second redesign with fighting dinosaurs background. And they were overwhelmingly positive.

Alas, there was a bug in that dinosaur-fighting background and it wouldn't allow people to post comments. I love dinosaurs, but I don't want to mute my blog followers, who give me great feedback.

So it's back to basic black I go.

Hey, at least finally rid myself of the boring egg on my Twitter account. I mean, that's progress, right?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Twitter Twit, Part Two

Yesterday I asked for help on maximizing my Twitter account.

Luckily my friend AJ had a little too much espresso and was awake in the  late-night hours to help. First order of business -- get rid of the silly egg pic in my Twitter account.

I needed a photo that didn't eat up a lot of memory -- apparently it has to be less than, like, .0001kb to post on Twitter. None of my photos qualified. AJ used some file-reducing software thingie to fix that. So I used the old photo of my sixth-grade "novella," "The Montana Project". Success.

Except that I uploaded it to Twitter and it didn't change my photo. The egg remained. I continued my email conversation with AJ and it ended with me saying "Fuck Twitter."

This morning, however, I went back on Twitter and my new photo was on. And, I even got a new Twitter follower -- someone I do not know. This is great.

Thanks to AJ for helping me out. I will try to be a better tweeter.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Twitter Twit

I'm lousy with Twitter.

My Twitter account is full of untapped potential. Sure, I tweet my blog updates daily but that's more or less all I do. Writer Wednesday? Follow Friday? I've tweeted for them every so often but I can't see to remind myself to do it regularly.

I fear that I've hit my maximum social network capacity and am not capable of doing more.

Many of my followers are better at it than me. Any of you who can give me tips on how to be more Twitter disciplined, I'm all ears.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

NFL Football Is Back

NFL football is back.

OK, it's just preseason football. But it's football nonetheless. Even though most starters only play for a couple of series (if at all), the beauty of preseason football is that it's still fun to watch. Young kids fighting for roster spots and all.

And even by preseason standards, this preseason is fascinating.

The NFL will happen this year. The season won't be canceled. I don't have to worry about following a Canadian football league team or live my life vicariously through the football team in my novel.

And the new collective bargaining agreement makes it interesting -- shorter and fewer practices, a whirlwind, two-week free agent period, potential for more injuries from players, not to mention some risky but intriguing signings by the Patriots, none of whom played in the Pats' 47-12 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The United States may be a credit risk, the economy may still suck and I may have writer's block, but the NFL is back. And that's why I feel good tonight.    

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Redesign, Part Two

Yesterday on a whim I redesigned my blog background. I was hoping or a consensus of opinion one way or another -- either, "Wow, Phil this looks great," or "Phil, this looks horrible. What a dumb idea."

I got no consensus. The opinions were more or less split down the middle. So, I may fool around with the redesign for a week or so and then make a decision. Hell, maybe I'll redesign every week. (No. I won't do that. Way too much hassle.)

Luckily, I have some sophisticated blog followers who really only want one thing -- for my content to stay the same. Content trumps all. That was the most popular sentiment, and I think it's a solid one.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Life In The Philloverse: Redesign

Life In The Philloverse: Redesign: "Yep. I did it. I put my blog through a redesign. I don't know why. I was responding to a comment from my MFA little sister Erin on yeste..."


Yep. I did it. I put my blog through a redesign.

I don't know why. I was responding to a comment from my MFA little sister Erin on yesterday's blog and just started playing around. I like basic black but it gets boring after awhile. I like sans serif fonts for blog titles but a serif or two never hurt anyone.

And I just decided, why not? Newspapers redesign their mastheads from time to time. Fox and CBS redesign their scoreboard graphics boxes in the corner every couple of football seasons. I can always change it back.

And this is where you come in. I'm curious to see how you feel about the redesign. Be honest. If you hate it, just say, "Phil, the redesign sucks." Or if you love it, say that too. It'll help me make this a better blog.

Someone has to.  

Monday, August 8, 2011

501 Things To Do If You Dare

On the advice of my friend Rebecca, the other night I bought the book 501 Things To Do If You Dare for 90 cents at Barnes & Noble. It's an interesting book. The premise is self-explanatory.

Some of the dares are things I've done in the past and will never do again (No. 1: "Ride a roller coaster").

Others I've done not as a dare but by accident (No. 18: "Drive the wrong way on a one-way street").

Some I've never had any interest in doing and never will (No. 107: "Run with a herd of bulls").

Others are dares that, in my current life situation, I can't do. For example, No. 444: "Take your significant other to a strip club", will have to wait until a time in my life when I have a significant other.

I have to say, though, I consider myself a fairly reserved, risk-averse person, so I was surprised that I have actually done 161 out of the 501 things. That's nearly one-third (32.14%).

And the single most risky, scary thing in the whole list is something that I have done:

No. 247: "Write a book."

The Blog The Wasn't

I had a blog all formulated out in my head last night. All I needed to do was sit down and type it. Except I made one big mistake.

I flipped on the Red Sox-Yankees game.

Sox-Yankees games never last less than 3 1/2 hours. And for an 8 p.m start (when the series is played over the weekend, the game is required by federal law to be picked up as the Sunday night ESPN telecast), four hours is the norm. When these series have playoff implications, as they always seem to, Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon will start taking even longer than usual in between pitches, and after the starters are yanked Joe Girardi and Terry Francona will go to the bullpen after every other batter. And ESPN's Bobby Valentine will slow down the game even more by constantly talking about himself.

And then, as last night, the game will go into extra innings.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that the Sox got to Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the 9th. But this meant I could kiss the blog goodbye. It ws 12:05 a.m. and the teams were tied at 2 and I had to get up early this morning to run some errands.

Luckily, Girardi yanked Rivera in favor of Phil Hughes for the 10th and predictably, the Sox got to Hughes in the bottom of the 10th and won the game 3-2. Maybe Girardi had a blog to write too. But I just lost all the momentum to write that blog I had in my mind.

So I'll just write it for tomorrow.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hot Yoga

Someone I know from the gym invited me to attend a free hot yoga session, and I took her up on it.

Hot yoga is something that draws many divergent opinions. Some of the yoga folks I know think it's a great and beneficial workout, others think it's unwise at best and dangerous at worst.

As you can infer, we practiced yoga in a really hot room. They say it's 105 degrees. It was definitely hot but to me it felt more like 95-100 degrees -- but I could be wrong. Of the handful of guys who attended (it's a mostly female group), I was also the only one who kept his shirt on, which probably made me hotter. But I'm modest and I don't think too many people want to see me shirtless. (Of course, my T-shirt was about 98% water and sweat by the end.)

Either way, it was very hot and a challenging workout. Long, too -- 90 minutes. I brought water with me to keep myself hydrated. I felt myself losing steam toward the end, but I made it through.

My opinion: mixed. To me, hot yoga is like the sausage that street vendors sell outside the ballpark -- tasty but you don't want to see how it's made  I definitely felt like hot yoga was a great workout, but I'm not sure I want to go through that routine to get the great workout. The good news is I survived with no adverse effects.

Maybe if I get asked again I'll do it. Not sure I'll do it on my own initiative, though.  

Friday, August 5, 2011


Let it be known:

I hate texting.

As a general rule, if someone wants to contact me on a phone-like device, I would prefer to have an actual conversation.

Now, don't get me wrong -- there are a few people whom, because they like to talk a little too much, I find it refreshing to be able to text them, because then I don't actually have to have a real conversation to them. That said, I try to avoid those people in general, and the folks of those ilk whom I find myself actually needing to talk to from time to time I can count on one hand.

I have a slightly upgraded cell phone plan, though, which allows me unlimited texting for an extra $5 a month. I hate this. Because last night I found myself having a text conversation when I could've just called that number and had a real conversation.

This has to stop. I refuse to give in to the cyborgs.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Change Of Address

Since my move, I've been picking off all my normal monthly pieces of mail and notifying them of my change of address.

Yesterday, I got a piece of mail from one of my credit card companies, who sent a piece of mail to my old Worcester address, because I got it here in Whitinsville with the yellow label attached from the post office "Notify sender of change of address."

"That's funny," I said to myself. "I could've sworn I changed my address with them."

So I hopped online and double-checked, and indeed the new address is on my account.

The letter said,

"You are receiving this because you have notified us of your change of address to [my old Worcester address]. If this is in error, please contact us immediately."

I thought about calling them, but didn't. They probably would've just screwed up my address again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dressed Resembling a Mentor, Part Two

I gave everyone a little taste of my impersonation of Porochista Khakpour  last night. But now, finally, the real photos are out. Here's a few with the real PK herself....

The shades add a nice touch. By the way, PK tells me she used to be a hair model and on the night of the talent show said she liked my hair better, which is complete bullshit -- her hair still totally wins. (She's also a better writer than me, but hey, that's why she's faculty. I'm trying to learn from the best.)

And one more of me either right before or right after our skit, I'm not sure which.

I think this is the last of the Porochista photos. There are a few others where I actually look like some goofy guy named Phil, but that's no big surprise. Now back to old business.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dressed Resembling a Mentor

Someone finally unearthed a photo of my talent show performance as my mentor last semester, Porochista Khakpour. I was waiting for this to show up and here it is.

I have to say, I think I look kinda cute (though Porochista is more slender than me). I was hoping the photo of me and Porochista together would materialize but apparently not yet. Maybe there will be more to come. 

Thanks to AJ and Ioanna for their help with my wardrobe.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mason's Road, Aug 2011 Launch

The latest issue of Mason's Road is online.

Yours truly was the fiction co-editor for this edition. The other co-editor Jean Medeiros and I and 17 fiction readers sorted through nearly 200 short stories submitted during the reading period. We selected seven for publication.

Of course when you get that many submissions, some of them are bound to be not so good. That said, I was really happy with the seven we selected. I felt like they were all excellent stories, the types of stories that I would say to myself, "Wow. This is good writing." In fact, there were a couple of stories that we felt were really good, but had to turn down because we can only accept so many.

So you can click onto the link above and check out the stories we selected. You'll also find a mug shot of me on the editorial board page, and a letter from the fiction co-editors, co-written by Jean and I. Good stuff.

And, I'm told the new submission period begins Aug. 15. So get your short stories and essays and poems ready.

4 a.m.

I woke up in the middle of the night, sweat dripping off of me.

The whirring of two fans rotating next to my bed was really bothering me, so I turned them on low instead of high (it's summer but it was late enough at night that it didn't feel like summer anymore).

Then the stressing began.

I began going over in my mind a scene in my novel that I haven't been able to nail down.

Thus begins my thesis semester.