Thursday, October 27, 2011

Phil vs. RMV

My driver's license expires in a few days. The way it works in Massachusetts, every other time you get your driver's license renewed you have to physically show up to the RMV and have a new picture taken, and unfortunately this was my every other time. So I printed out all the information I needed and headed to the Leominster RMV, less than a 10-minute drive from me.

The parking lot was empty, and I was excited. Then I tried walking in and the doors were locked.

Crap. I forgot.

The RMV doesn't open until 10 a.m. on Thursdays.

I ran some errands to kill a half-hour of time. Of course, when I returned, there was a line wrapped around the sidewalk.

We all herded in like cattle at 9:59 a.m. when they opened the doors. As I waited for my number to be called my mind wandered (How come you can get a Patriots, Red Sox or Bruins vanity plate but not a Celtics plate?)

I got called up. I gave the woman my paperwork. I kept expecting there to be a snag. The woman asked me to look in the viewfinder to do the eye test. I recited one line, then the computer that runs the eye test stalled.

"Eh, you're good," said the woman.

Then she took my mug shot and after a minute or two spit out a temporary license for me. No overdue excise bills or any bullshit. The real license should be in the mail in a couple of days.

It still took 40 minutes, but it could've been worse.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Barbecue Sauce

I was with some friends Tuesday night for a writer's retreat. Of course, this place is also a restaurant/bar, so we ordered food.

As the waitress came around with the sandwiches, I felt something brush by my side.

The waitress panicked.

"Oh my God," she said to me, "I just spilled barbecue sauce on you."

I looked down. There was a spilled cup of barbecue sauce on the floor next to me. I look at my pants. They look dry.

"Oh my God, I'm so sorry," she said.

As best as I can tell, the brushing was the bottom of the cup of barbecue sauce. Lucky for me. Better than the other end. My cohorts, Erin and Linsey and Trueblood, are laughing.

"Just let me make sure you didn't get any on you," the waitress said. I get up. I don't see any sauce on me.

"Just turn around real quick," the waitress said. I turn around. There is apparently no sauce on my backside.

The retreat continued. I dodged a huge bullet. The waitress came by every few minutes and makes sure we're OK. Service with a smile.


Sunday, October 23, 2011


The people demand to know: Phil, what's up with your blog.

I'm in mad thesis mode right now. I'm trying to get it done and to my mentor and then second-reader so that I can fulfill the requirements for my MFA. (Of course, my upcoming birthday has to interfere with my plans, too.)

I will try to do quickie blogs when the idea strikes me. But this is why I haven't been blogging as much of late, and this trend will continue for the next couple of weeks. It dawned on me that I owe this to my readers to let them know.

Until the next idea strikes me, I will talk to you intermittently.

Friday, October 21, 2011


There's been this +1 button on my blog for awhile. set up by Google. I'm wary of it.

Part of me wants to click on it and see what happens. Part of me feels like I'll be sucked into a world of indentured servitude to Google. I'm already on Gmail. Google is trying to force-feed me Google Chrome. There's that Google+ thing that apparently wants to be like Facebook but seems to have fizzled. Or maybe it'll scream out to all my friends about how I'm a +1 or something.

Or, maybe it'll secretly unload a stash of nuclear weapon and destroy the world.

Oh well. Here goes nothing. Apologies in advance for whatever happens.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Meet the New Triceratops, Same As the Old Triceratops

This came out a year ago, but my friend called it to my attention again a few hours ago. Some paleontologists now believe that Torosaurus was actually an older specimen of Triceratops.

Makes sense on some levels. The skeletons are almost identical, except that Torosaurus had a longer frill. No juvenile Torosaurus specimens have ever been found. And Tricertops frills tend to become longer and thinner as they get older.

But those paleontologists are a feisty bunch. I'm sure some of my dinosaur-loving friends will be passionate about this one way or another.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bottle Bill Redemption

I was at Market Basket this morning and redeeming some bottles and cans. The machine reported back to me that "This store does not sell this container," which would make it ineligible for redemption at Market Basket under Massachusetts' bottle bill. This actually was not true, but oftentimes you just need to slide the bottle into the machine just the right way.

But instead of spitting the bottle back out, the machine ate it.

It's only 5 cents I missing out on. It's not gonna kill me. But when these things happen to you it's frustrating. I tried to talk myself out of being pissed.

And then I looked behind me and there was an empty bottle of Coke.

Bingo. I got my 5 cents.

Monday, October 17, 2011


The silver lining on a really, really bad Monday Night Football game between the Jets and Dolphins (24-6) was that it ended early. I was fired up. I could switch over to Channel 7 in time for Jay Leno's opening monologue.

Then I discovered the truth. Leno is a repeat.

Sometimes even when things work out perfectly, they don't work out.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I keep getting these Facebook invites from people who don't keep their invites private. Thus, if there is one Facebook friend invited/attending, I get these invites for birthday parties, weddings, funerals, for people I don't know.

I've decided what I'm going to do.

I'm going to RSVP for one of them and say, "Yes! I can't wait to attend! It will be great to see everybody!"

I'm dying to see what the reaction will be.

Friday Night Wedding

When I left yesterday for the wedding of my cousin Dan and his fiancee Samantha, it was pouring, though not as heavily as the last wedding I went to, which took place during a hurricane.

By the time the ceremony began, the sun was trying to peek out. I'm a big believer in good omens. There's something about Friday night weddings that always appealed to me. I wasn't intimately involved in the plans but everything else seemed to go without a hitch. And this time I wasn't put on the spot to give another impromptu toast.

I got to talking to the father of the bride before dinner and the conversation inevitably gravitated toward the usual topics -- what a great moment this is, how weddings are symbolic for letting go of one's daughter, and the groom. Dan is the first of "the grandchildren" to get married. If you had asked me years ago I never would've pegged him as the first.

"Samantha's good for him," I told her dad. "He needs someone like her."

Congratulations to Dan and Samantha. Here's to many years of happiness.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


The thing I love about October is that AMC and SyFy Channel always celebrate my birthday and Halloween with a month-long tribute to cheesy horror movies.

For example, right now on AMC, Silver Bullet, 1985's best bad horror movie, starring Gary Busey, is on. I was first initiated to this movie one night in college when I stumbled home drunk from the bars and flipped it on in my dorm room. Best bad werewolf movie ever.

And next weekend on SyFy, we'll be treated to the Pumpkinhead franchise.

It's a great month to be me.

The Forgotten Blog

About a month-and-a-half ago, before my life became crazy, I wrote a blog about how I had a good blog idea and then forgot it. Now that my life is slowing down a bit, I thought I'd take this opportunity to write about it.

I was getting an oil change. It was a nice, sunny day and I was standing outside. Suddenly the ugliest dog I've ever seen began to wander toward me. It looked like a deformed coyote. But it was big, which was a greater concern of mine.

It continued running right up to me. This would be a really crappy way to die, mauled by the world's ugliest dog.

It stopped a few inches from me. My adrenalin kicked in. Fight or flight. I did what I had to do.

"GET LOST!" I shouted.

Just like that, the dog took off as quickly as it came. I wish I could b that persuasive in everything in life.

There. If that wasn't worth it, I apologize.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

GChat Beep

My GChat stopped beeping Tuesday morning. This is a problem because I usually have four or five windows up, and the beeping lets me know someone is pinging me.

I checked the volume to see if I had muted it. Nope. Volume was on high. I checked the gear thingie in the upper right-hand corner to make sure my settings did not mute the beep. Nope. They were normal.

This was pissing me off. I dont want to have to check my GChat window every couple of minutes to make sure nobody's pinging me.

I was bemoaning this to a friend when she suggested I x out of GMail and trying calling it up again.

Worked. GChat was beeping like a rock star again. The tyranny of mundane Internet issues is over -- at least for now. 

Hurricane Phil

The World Meteorological Organization has developed a rotation for all its hurricane and tropical storm names. So, unless a name gets retired, like Katrina, all the storm names are recycled every six years.

This year one of the storm names is Philippe, the wussy French version of my name. Six years ago the 2005 edition of Hurricane Philippe stayed well out in the Atlantic, the biggest impact being gusty winds and .15 inches of rain to Bermuda.

Over the past two weeks the 2011 Hurricane Philippe has had a nearly identical track, causing virtually no damage to land. It's been such a nonfactor, it doesn't even have its own Wikipedia page, being forced to settle for a mention in the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season page.

I'm glad there was no significant damage in either storm. That said, I wish the WMO would anglicize the name. Hurricane Phil sounds a little more badass, if only by default.  

Monday, October 10, 2011


A couple of weeks ago I went to a birthday party for my friends' two kids, aged 12 and 10. Ice cream cake. Presents. You know the drill. I won't go into details, but they come from somewhat of a disadvantaged background and it was nice to see them have a great day.

This past week I got a card in the mail from the kids, thanking me for being there. And one of them concluded it by saying:

"You are like a father to me. You do fun things with us."

There's more to being a father than having ice cream cake with the kids and doing fun things. That said, this was one of the nicest and most touching things anyone has ever said to me.

I will probably never be a real father. But it's nice to know I've made a difference in the life of a couple of kids.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Am Not Timmy

At the CVS checkout line, I'm swiping my card and the creepy guy in line behind me gets closer. It's been a few days since his last shower, and when he gets to the point where he can whispers into my ear I can practically feel his scruffy 5 o'clock shadow against me.

"Are you Timmy?" he asks.

I try to create space between him and myself, but since I'm at the front of the line there's only so much I can do.

"No," I say.

"Oh, OK. 'Cuz you kinda look like Timmy."

For future reference, just because I "kinda look like" someone named Timmy doesn't mean you can violate my personal space.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Computer Table

I have a computer table again.

A friend of mine whose father is downsizing generously donated the computer table to me. It's the perfect height for me and my computer and printer.

This is my life now. I downsized a few months ago to shack up with roommates, and now that I've discovered I'm really much better at living alone I need furniture again. The computer table is the beginning of my upsizing again.

I will now go onto Craig's List and to try to pick up some new stuff. I don't need a lot. A sofa would be nice. Maybe another table for eating.

Then ups and downs of the Philloverse continue.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Big In The Netherlands

Blogger sends me info on where in the world my pageviews come from. Obviously most come from the United States.

In the past month, though, I've had 29 page views for my blog from The Netherlands. That's quite a lot from another country.

I have no idea why. None of my blogs have had Dutch-oriented themes. I can only name three cities in the Netherlands -- Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. I don't know anyone from The Netherlands. I'm not even sure I know anyone who's Dutch. According to Bear v. Shark: The Novel (my Bible), the Dutch don't even have a culture.

I would like to see more Australians and Ecuadorians follow my blog. But I'm not complaining. I'm happy that people are following. 

The Story Behind the Status

My MFA Little Sister, Erin Corriveau, is in her third semester and is required to complete a critical thesis (in other words, a project) this semester. Her topic is pretty cool. I'll link the web site for it here.

Think about it, we all have stories behind our Facebook statuses and our tweets. I've been asked so many times about what my numerous Facebook statuses mean that I've begun to default-answer "If you don't get it, it wasn't intended for you."

Here is my chance to be less snippy, and your chance to participate as well. Now you can write a little blurb (up to 1,500 words) about the story behind the status. Send it to Erin (submission info here) and you can be a part of this project. Who knows, it may end up being published as an anthology.

Come on, help a girl out.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Yesterday I looked out my window and there was a squirrel hanging from the gutter. It managed to climb up and scurried onto the roof.

It's a 30-foot or so drop to the ground from my apartment. I certainly wouldn't want to be hanging from the gutter.

I'm amazed at how unafraid of heights squirrels are.