Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Oven’s Commentary on His Coworkers

The Dishwasher is a moron. I don’t mean that in a mean way, I think he seriously has mental problems. He whines, shakes and drools constantly. I mean, he’s like a scared dog. There is a puddle in front of him at all times. It’s just gross. He does work hard and is damn good at his job, though, I gotta give him that. And it’s even more impressive considering he’s always getting loaded. He’s like an idiot savant. He’s like Mozart to The Sink’s Salieri.

Speaking of The Sink, I feel bad for the guy, losing all his business to The Dishwasher, but it’s kinda his own fault. He’s inefficient, slow, constantly complaining of being drained and yet somehow is completely full of himself. However, I’d wager his personality defect is due more to insecurity than conceit. But he should be thankful. He doesn’t face near the pressure of The Dishwasher.

For such a big guy, The Fridge is a little bitch. Any time I’m pissed at anyone and let them know how I feel, he tries to step in as the “cooler head.” That’s his expression, not mine. I’m not that blatant with my metaphors. Anyway, half the time he doesn’t even have a handle on the situation, but he butts his big stainless steel head in like he’s some sort of natural mediator. OK, so you wanna play the good guy, I get it, but here’s some advice, The Fridge, BRUSH YOUR DAMN TEETH. Worst breath ever.

That reminds me, have you met The Coffeemaker? Oh man, that guy STINKS. I don’t know what the hell he does while he’s sleeping but every morning he smells like he rolled all over the dirty ground outside. That actually wouldn’t surprise me since he sleeps all day. 10 minutes of work when he gets up, then he gets the rest of the day off. Must be nice.

But I don’t hate everyone. The Toaster Oven just started here and she is unbelievably hot. She’s compact, she has an amazing rack (two of them actually), and she gets turned on so easily. It’s like flipping a switch with her. It’s cool because she’s sorta my assistant. She can’t handle much, but I give her the smaller jobs I don’t have time for.

As for me? Contrary to what my name might suggest, I like to think of myself as unconventional. The others cry about my temper, but that’s just because they can’t take the heat. In which case, they should just get out of here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

MLB Bailout Program for NY Mets Fails

September 30, 2008 - A proposed plan to rescue Major League Baseball’s New York Mets from another pennant race collapse has been rejected by commissioner Bud Selig. The controversial program would have changed the National League playoffs from a 4- to 6-team format, allowing both the Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks to participate in the 2008 post season.

The Mets’ season ended in familiarly embarrassing fashion Sunday, September 28 with a 4-2 loss to the Florida Marlins, eerily reminiscent of the playoff-eliminating 8-1 defeat to the same Marlins one year ago.

Hope was resurrected, if briefly, in the hearts of those supporting the big-market New York franchise, when Mets general manager Omar Minaya proposed a plan that would allow the team to participate in the 2008 post-season, while also providing for $400 million of relief to the organization. According to Minaya, the program would give Mets fans the confidence they needed to continue to attend games, while enabling the organization to sign marquee free agents CC Sabathia and Francisco Rodriguez in the off-season.

Selig, a Wisconsin native and former Milwaukee Brewers owner/president dismissed the bill, saying, “Why should we bail out these huge market teams when they’re the ones who created this overpriced free agent mess in the first place?”

So the Mets faithful once again continue to wait and cling to the taught rope of confidence that keeps them dangling over the pit of mediocrity.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gil and Cal Talk Sports and Entertainment

Gil: Hey Cal, what’s up? Watching SportsCenter?
Cal: Yeah. I wanted to see the highlights from the Sox game last night.
Gil: Cool. How many Brett Favre stories have they run so far?
Cal: A lot. Apparently Favre accidentally mixed his colors with his whites last night and now his undershirts are all pink.
Gil: Man, I’m so sick of this whole saga. I’d rather hear a million more stories about Barbaro dying.
Cal: Who’s Barbaro?
Gil: You know, Barbaro the horse.
Cal: Oh. Is he related to Barbaro Seville?
Gil: Um, no. First of all, Barbaro is dead. Second, it’s not Barbaro Seville, it’s The Barber OF Seville. And that’s not a person, or even a horse, it’s an opera.
Cal: Oh yeah, an opera horse. I know I’ve heard that term before.
Gil: Ugh. It’s not “opera horse” it’s “opera house.”
Cal: Ohhhhhhhh. That makes more sense. I always pictured Mr. Ed singing Inflator Mouse. Always made me laugh, a horse singing a song about a giant mouse.
Gil: Cal, I don’t even know where to start with that one.
Cal: What do you mean?
Gil: You really want to get into it?
Cal: Yeah, let’s get into it, Mr. Knowitall. I wanna get into it. Let’s get right into it. RIGHT. INTO. IT. You and me. Into it.
Gil: Are you through?
Cal: Yes.
Gil: OK, first of all, Mr. Ed isn’t real.
Cal: Yes he is, I watch his show on TV Land all the time.
Gil: Well, yeah, there’s a real horse in the show, but he can’t really talk.
Cal: But you can see his lips move!
Gil: Supposedly they jammed a carrot up his ass to make his lips move like that.
Cal: Wow, how much do you think he got paid?
Gil: Mr. Ed? Pretty sure nothing.
Cal: No, the guy whose job it was to stick the carrot up Mr. Ed’s ass.
Gil: I have no idea, Cal. Not much.
Cal: Yeah, you’re right, they probably just had an intern do it. Can you imagine filling out your intern diary if that was your summer job? “Day 1. Shoved a carrot up Mr. Ed’s ass. Day 2. Shoved a carrot up Mr. Ed’s ass. Day 3. Tried to shove a carrot up Mr. Ed’s ass but Mr. Ed kicked me in the face.”
Gil: I doubt they had interns on the Mr. Ed show, Cal. So anyway, back to the opera thing—
Cal: Wait, I just thought of something. Do you think they used the same carrot every day? I mean, why waste a good carrot if it’s just going in his ass?
Gil: I would be very surprised if they didn’t throw it away immediately after using it. So Die Fledermaus—
Cal: Hey Gil?
Gil: Ugh. Yes, Cal?
Cal: Do you think Mr. Ed had really good eyesight?
Gil: Goodbye Cal.
Cal: OK, I’ll look it up.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Under My Skin

The last thing I remember was her crying.

I had shown her parts of myself no one had ever seen, both literally and figuratively. But man, I went too damn far. I offered her a piece of gum, but she dismissed it as an empty gesture. Of course she did. I make her cry and my only condolence is a piece of Double Bubble. I am an idiot. Well, I WAS an idiot. I don’t know if you can still be characterized as an idiot when you’re dead. I may have been an idiot when I was alive, but you get to start fresh when you die, right?

So here’s how it happened.

I met this girl in the grocery store. In the grocery store! I mean, how often does that shit happen? It’s the kind of scenario that goes down so infrequently that desperate, aging women use it as an excuse for online dating: “I have no choice. Where am I going to meet someone, the grocery store?” Well I did just that. I was standing there, she walked up to me, checked out a couple of my friends and before I knew it she swept me off my feet and we were on our way back to her place.

Now, before I continue, let me just explain something. I am NOT nuts. I’m not impulsive. I’ve always considered myself very grounded, with an attitude firmly rooted in common sense. But there was just something about this girl. I’d seen hundreds of them come and go, but no one looked at me quite like her. And I knew—I just KNEW—I was part of her plan. Whatever that plan was.

So anyway, we got home and I sat playfully on the counter while she went about her business. I waited anxiously in the kitchen as she ran back outside to grab something from her car. I remember my mind racing through attractive thoughts. Maybe she bought some kind of sexy outfit that day and she was getting it from the car to model it for me.

I heard the car door slam and my heart leapt. Maybe even skipped a beat. Whatever it was, my heart did something it didn’t normally do. I felt like I needed a drink of water or a deep breath. I took the latter.

But what I should have taken was the 326 back to the grocery store. When she re-entered the kitchen, she looked no longer like the curious girl I met just minutes ago. She looked more like a woman on a mission. From the purposeful ponytail on her head to the shimmering blade in her right hand.

I didn’t fight the thoughts. This was the end. And it’s a good thing I didn’t fight those thoughts. Because before I could think one more, she plunged her newly purchased knife inside, nearly bisecting me. With a ruthlessly quick movement, she brought the knife up and let it fall with her weight behind it, finishing the job.

Looking up as the last drops of life left me, I noticed her eyes. Tears filled him, making her look, well, not vulnerable, but human again. Maybe that movement wasn’t as cold and heartless as I thought.

And that’s the last thing I saw before dying.

I remember hearing a lot of my friends talk about what happens when you die. One of my friends used to say that you never really die, you just come back as the thing you most wanted to be in your previous life. I think he was full of shit. But if he was right, I’m definitely coming back as a hawk or a coyote, or something that runs around free of any concern other than the location of its next meal. I don’t know for sure, but whatever I choose, I’m sure as hell not going to be an onion again.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Conversations Between Gil and Cal

Gil: Hey Cal
Cal: Hi Gil, what’s up? How was your weekend?
Gil: Pretty good. We went up to Vermont to Chuck’s summer house.
Cal: That place sucks.
Gil: No, actually it’s pretty awesome. Well, it WAS pretty awesome.
Cal: What do you mean, “WAS”?
Gil: Well, Chuck got really pissed at us because we got drunk and did donuts on his lawn.
Cal: You did donuts????? On his lawn????
Gil: Yeah, I know it was pretty stupid.
Cal: Well, I don’t know if it was stupid, but it sounds pretty weird.
Gil: Why weird? He has a huge green lawn that just kinda begs you to do donuts on it.
Cal: That’s really gross, Gil. I think you need help. Wait, how many of you were doing donuts?
Gil: Um, four of us I guess.
Cal: Together?
Gil: Yeah, we were all in one car.
Cal: Wait, so you did donuts in the car? Together?
Gil: Yeah, how else do you do donuts?
Cal: Um, I don’t know, Gil, I’ve never personally done donuts. So you drove the car on the lawn and then did donuts in the car?
Gil: Yup.
Cal: Let me ask you something. Did it feel good?
Gil: Yeah, it was really fun at the time. Until we got yelled at.
Cal: I guess I can understand him being mad. I would be pissed if I caught a bunch of guys doing donuts on my lawn. I mean, I’ve never even heard of something like that before.
Gil: You’ve never heard of anyone doing donuts?
Cal: No. Why, is it a common thing?
Gil: Well, yeah, we used to do it all the time as kids. We’d pick a guy we hated, get a bunch of guys and do donuts on his lawn. You know, so when he gets home he sees his lawn and it’s all fucked up.
Cal: As kids??? Wow, how have I never heard of this, it sounds amazing!
Gil: It’s really nothing special, it was just fun because it was such a big lawn and you didn’t have to worry about hitting anything.
Cal: Yeah, I have that problem a lot.
Gil: So anyway, what are you up to tonight? Cal. Cal? CAL!
Cal: What? Oh, sorry, I was just thinking about this girl I met last night.
Gil: Oh, I thought you were still thinking about doing donuts.
Cal: I was. There’s a huge field down the street, do you wanna get in your car, drive over there and do some?
Gil: Um, why not, that could be fun. I’ll go get the car.
Cal: Nice! I’ll go get the donuts!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Amputeens: Episode 1, Part 3

Roger swung open the driver's side door, letting it rest open on its hinges. He approached the scene unfolding up the road, first jogging then, as his eyes brought things into focus, accelerating to a full sprint.

As he closed the gap, everything slowed but maintained a sort of dull blur. Two cars in a twisted embrace of mangled metal and rubber, positioned as if heedless of the double yellow line bisecting Pleasant Street. An overweight man in a dirty undershirt. A snarl curled by anger, Jim Beam and likely a lifetime of blue collar servitude. A burly forearm thrusting through the open driver's side window of the car in front. A female face with the blank countenance of a woman experiencing the unlikeliest of Monday mornings.

Roger halted his gate with a sneakers-on-concrete squeak behind the man. Without hesitation, he hooked his right arm around the man's swollen, grimy neck, reaching up with his left elbow to lock him in a makeshift sleeper hold. He drove backwards with his legs, pulling the man by the throat away from the now flailing woman who was hanging out the window of her Mazda 626, half in and half out.

As the man struggled to reach behind him and address the agent of this unexpectedly uncomfortable predicament, Roger slowly lowered to his knees, bringing the man onto the seat of his navy blue Carhardt pants in the process. He maintained his hold around the man's neck, gradually loosening as the man's ability to struggle ebbed. When the man slipped out of consciousness, Roger released him. His head hit the pavement with a soft thud. Roger stood up and, seeing the small crowd that had gathered, had the familiar sensation of having gone through an entire experience without hearing a thing. The sensation, or lack thereof, was not a pleasant one and he briefly wondered why it occurred before stepping over the crumpled man and approaching the woman, still folded awkwardly out her car door.

Roger reached down and offered the woman his hand, pulling her up as she slid back into her car.

"You OK?" he asked almost indifferently.

"Um, yeah, I'm fine. Thank you. I...thank you."

But Roger was already walking back down the road to his Nissan.

The incident wouldn't make the evening news. It wouldn't even make the local paper. But one person saw the entire event unfold, from start to finish. And he would be the one who would change Roger's life.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Bacon Gap

June 30, 2008

MEDFORD, MA—The Lighthouse restaurant on High Street serves breakfast and lunch to local residents from 6 AM until 3 PM seven days a week. Despite the range of colorful characters who dine at The Lighthouse with varying degrees of regularity, some things are always the same according to owner, Pat O'Malley. "Every guy orders bacon. Not all the women do. Some do. But to my knowledge, every single man who's come in here in our 10-year history has ordered bacon and eaten it all." So you can imagine Pat's surprise when something very different occurred yesterday at 9:30 AM.

"So this guy walks in, must've been 5'10", 180", dark hair, you know, just a regular looking guy," O'Malley continues. "So Michelle--that's our hostess--seats him right over [in the corner]. I goes over to take his order and I remember exactly what he orders. I've always had a good memory for that. This guy, he orders a Wagons West. That's our name for our Western omelette. We like to give them fun names. Like, our Spanish omelette is called the Spanish Indigestion. You know, like that. But anyway, he orders a Wagons West, an OJ and a side of white toast. So a few minutes later I bring him his food with a side of bacon. See, most people these days don't bother to mention the bacon because we know they all want it. So like I said, I bring him the food with the bacon. He says, 'I didn't order bacon.' I says, 'Oh, I just assumed you wanted it.' He says, 'No thanks. I don't really like bacon.' I tell ya, I'd a eaten my hat if I didn't already have a plate of bacon in my hands."

Surprisingly, this is not an isolated incident. Reports have been filtering in from across the country, claiming that some men are turning down the opportunity to order, buy or even taste bacon. So what is the cause of this? Are men simply losing their taste for bacon? A new study suggests that might be the case.

Dr. Carleton Westgate, a research professor at West Carolina State Junior College of New Jersey, spent the last 6 years analyzing bacon consumption among American males, age 42-48. "When I first began testing, men averaged about 12 strips of bacon a day," Westgate explains. "And now they're at about 12.5. I know that sounds like an increase in consumption, but you have to realize that in the 6 years previous to testing, bacon consumption had risen about 16%. And now it's at just over 4%. So, yeah, I guess we'll still increasing our pork intake, but at a much lower rate."

When asked about his testing methods, Westgage confesses, "It was easy. I just counted how many strips of bacon I ate each day for six years. I know it was a sample of one, but I'm a pretty average guy, so the way I figure it, my bacon consumption is pretty close to average, too."

Since adult bacon consumption isn't yet in decline, the answers lie elsewhere. One source is the educational system. It has become increasingly clear the United States is no longer the world leader in bacon consumption. Asian and Indian students now consistently score higher on Bacon Capacity Examinations (BCE), widely considered the international standard in pork product intake assessment. This suggests the consumption gap is due largely to the poor quality and quantity of bacon in American elementary schools, a problem that has been growing for 25 years.

Carleton sees the issue firsthand. "When I was in school, we could get bacon on everything. Eggs in the morning, American chop suey at lunch...everything. Now my son is lucky if he gets 3 strips with his sloppy joe. He complains about it, but there's not much we can do. It's the responsibility of the schools."

And until schools and community realize how far Americans are slipping in the global bacon race, a future without bacon seems terrifyingly likely.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's Over

From up here, Tim could see everything.

He could see the statue in the square. The one with the 19th century-clad gentleman holding a none-to-pleased baby and a countenance that made you question the man's intentions. He could see the stop light on the bridge over the highway that bisected the town into North and South. He could see the surprisingly well-maintained gazebo and the patch of green grass it sat upon, freckled with dandelions. Those dandelions always reminded him of Lisa. It wasn't that they were reminiscent of the small splash of freckles across her cheeks and nose. Or that she used to beg him to save some of the pesky dandelions in his own yard any time he mowed. Actually, Tim didn't know what it was about those things that reminded him of Lisa, but it wasn't either of those two thoughts.

Besides, it didn't matter anymore.

As Tim looked down and watched the people crossing the street, walking up the sidewalk head down or just sitting on a park bench, he laughed. He actually laughed! Here he was, about to commit to the final act of quitting, "The Big Quit" as he had affectionately dubbed it weeks ago, and he was snickering. The one reason - the ONLY reason - he wished he was going to be around to witness his own death was to take in the startled reactions of whoever happened to be in the vicinity when his body lay awkwardly twisted on the cement. But that was pretty much the definition of a catch-22, wasn't it?

As he gazed down onto the street, Tim felt a twinge of disappointment at how few people were actually out and about. He was hoping for a bigger crowd. Oh well. Here goes.

With that final thought, Tim leapt off the 15-story tower. Never afraid of heights, he enjoyed the fall. Even spread his arms like a glider, embracing the acceleration of gravity and cold air rushing against his face, whipping through his clothing.

As his descent quickened, his excitement spiked. This was it. This was really it!

And then in the moment before his carefree body hit the pavement, in the very last instant before his head assumed all the form and function of a Gallaghered watermelon, one thought popped into is head, filling his doomed body with regret for the very first time.

"Shit," he thought. "I forgot to turn off the oven."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Seventeen

I have one chair in my dining room. Just one. It's not part of a dining room set. It's not an easy chair. It's not a loveseat, a lazy-boy or a papasan. It's an otherwise nondescript metal folding chair with a cheap vinyl padded seat. But it's the only chair I am absolutely certain I will have until I die.

_____________________

I found out at about 3 PM Tuesday I was going to Game 6 of the NBA Finals at the Garden. My buddy JD had an opportunity to buy a pair of tickets and floated the idea by me. I'll spare you the details of how much it will cost me in 47 easy payments, but I decided I might not get another chance like this, so I had to do it.

The first thing I noticed as I walked toward Causeway was the absolute sea of green and white. I've never seen anything like it. Every single person I saw was wearing a BEAT LA t-shirt, a Celtics warmup jacket--I even saw a white #20 jersey with the name "Shuttlesworth" embroidered on the back. As the Celtics bandwagon grew over the preceding weeks I had grown increasingly frustrated as one of the few people I knew who had actually stuck with the team during the Jimmy Rogers, Chris Ford, M.L. Carr, Rick Pitino and Jim O'Brien eras. Every girlfriend I'd ever had hated sitting through two hours of green futility 3 times a week, only to have to deal with me being a sourpuss the rest of the night. But when the Celtics ended the 2007-2008 regular season with the best record in the NBA, completing a turnaround that the most optimistic of pundits failed to predict even in hyperbole, the number of Celtics "fans" swelled into the millions, regardless of gender.

However, walking to the Garden on a beautiful early summer evening on my way to hopefully witness history, all was forgiven.

Amid "Beat LA!" chants and choruses of "Seventeen! Seventeen!", JD and I made our way inside the Garden. Usually upon entering, you can spot the people who don't belong. The clueless teenage girls out for the night thanks to Daddy's season tickets, the greasy douches on a mission to bag the teenage girls and the thugs on a mission to beat up the douches. But tonight it was different. Maybe I was swept up in the excitement and wasn't as observant as usual, but every ticket holder I saw was a real fan. The kind with whom you can have a basketball discussion without wanting slit your wrist afterward.

We stopped between escalators on our way up to the balcony and grabbed a few beers. Neither of us having eaten, we spotted a guy with a plastic tray loaded with nachos and couldn't resist, even though we knew they'd be as soggy as a bowl of 4-hour-old Cap'n Crunch in about 45 seconds. We found our seats, victuals firmly in our beer-soaked hands and could instantly tell how different the atmosphere was. Here we were, an hour before game time, standing in row 5 of the balcony and already people were standing. The guys behind us were referencing their experience at Games 1 and 2, so we knew those were the guys we wanted to be around. This was going to be great.

After the expectedly overdramatic (though no less goosebump-inducing) player intros, Bennett Salvatore leaned in to throw the jump ball. Gasol didn't steal the jump as much as Perkins remained completely sedentary. For a guy playing with a bum shoulder, that was not a good sign.

Immediately Kobe came out sizzling, knocking down three quick 3s, which led to JD turning to me and saying, "Shit, Kobe's going to score 50 tonight." And me replying, "Yeah, but he's taking 3s! I'm can live with him out there all game." As confident as I sounded, I was petrified. We've seen Kobe go nuts like this a few times and when he does, he's almost impossible to stop. Almost.

Despite Kobe's marksmanship, the Cs played the Lakers even through the first 6 minutes thanks to an aggressive KG and repeated Rondo'ing. I've said it before, but Rondo is just incredible to watch in person. He's almost always the smallest guy on the court--he can't weigh more than 155, I don't care what he's listed at--but he has a nose for the ball, as well as the athleticism and hands that allow him to do things you just don't see from guys that size. It's a little like watching Nate Robinson, you know, minus the thuggery.

Anyway, midway through the second quarter, the Cs start to pull out in front. A HUGE 3 by House puts them up 11. I can't say enough about House. He hit a ton of big shots in the regular season, then Doc Rivers completely yanked him around in the playoffs. He didn't pout. He didn't mope. He was up waving the towel during every big moment, and when Doc finally went his way during the Detroit series, he ran around like a House afire, played harassing D and hitting several big shots. Just don't ask him to handle the ball.

Outscoring LA 34-15 in the second quarter gave the Cs a 23-point lead at halftime. I could not believe what we were seeing. The Cs looked completely dominant on both sides of the ball. They were suffocating Kobe and the sharpshooting Lakers on D and absolutely imposing their will on the offensive end. Posey, House and Ray (despite being the recipient of a brutal eye gouge that of course wasn't called) couldn't miss, and even Big Baby made his presence felt by bellying up Pau Gasol, 6 inches his vertical superior. They were actually doing it!

Deafening is not the right word to describe the crowd. It was almost the reverse. It seemed like it actually heightened my senses. You know those warm summer mornings when you're walking alone outside somewhere and you look around everything seems so green and clear? And you wonder why everything doesn't always look like that? That's what it was like being in the Garden. I felt like I could see every detail in the building. I could literally count every purple and yellow jersey freckled throughout the aisles. If I tried, I could listen hard enough to isolate every crazed individual's voice screaming "NO MEANS NO!" while Kobe shot a free throw. If there's a heaven, I'm not so sure it's not the Garden when 20,000 of us smell a championship.

People will tell you the second half was anticlimactic. It wasn't. We've seen three historic comebacks in this series alone and I was not comfortable. Heading into the 4th quarter with the Celtics up 29, the jumbotron showed a few local athletes and celebs. The crowd erupted when a giddy (for him) Bill Belichick appeared for the umpteenth time, but then a stoic Danny Ainge appeared on the screen staring at the court with a look that said, "I am not looking up and acknowledging anything until the horn sounds. I know you're filming me but I'm not looking up or smiling, so stop it before you jinx this." That is exactly how I felt. I even got a text message from my buddy AC that read, "Congrats! Years of feeling like crap about your team are over. We got KG!!!!" That last bit was something we had repeatedly sent to each other during games over the season, reminding each other just how lucky we were.

But I wasn't thinking about that. I was thinking about Game 2 and how LA shaved off 24 points in about the time it takes me to open a Slim Jim. So I wrote back, "Shut up!" And being the voice of reason, he came back with, "The Lakers would need a 40-9 run to win. Over!"

He was right.

True to form the Celtics continued to play hard despite having a lead that approached 40. Ray hit three straight 3s and ended up with 7 triples on the night, capping a roller coaster postseason for the best pure shooter in NBA history. KG was a beast on both sides of the court, going to the hoop the way we all wished he did in Game 5 and hauling down 14 boards. And more than any other, this was the defining game for Paul Pierce. It wasn't the Game 7 dual with Lebron, or the 38-point explosion in Game 5 of the Finals. No, this was the 2007-2008 Paul Pierce. The Paul Pierce who doesn't need to take 25 shots for the Celtics to win. The Paul Pierce who re-dedicated himself on the defensive end making him the most complete swingman in the NBA. The Paul Pierce who, despite 10 years of ups and downs (mostly downs) won an NBA Championship in the only city he ever called home as a professional. This was the Paul Pierce who shut down one of the best scorers the world has ever seen, outplaying the titular MVP in every facet of the game. This was the Paul Pierce who etched his name into the stone of the Celtics foundation, flanked by Bird, Russell, Hondo, Cousy and all the names you've heard a thousand times during the playoffs. This was Paul Pierce, officially one of the Celtic greats.

As the buzzer sounded, JD and I exchanged a few violently celebratory manhugs and enjoyed the moment. Players, trainers, coaches and Celtics employees of every stature flooded the court. David Stern shrugged off the boos to hand out the championship trophy and Stuart Scott conducted the compulsory interviews. 45 minutes after the game ended, and after standing for at least 46 of the full 48 minutes of game time, not one member of the crowd had left. I scanned up and down the rows to find someone, anyone walking up the ramp. None.

To get a better view of the mayhem, JD and I snuck down the floor level and onto the court. A Garden employee walked by, a little black wagon full of Celtics championship Wheaties boxes trailing behind him. JD grabbed a box and we headed up the stairs. I had to both outdo his theft and leave with something of my own other than a pocket full of green and white confetti. Noticing a row of folding chairs in front of a concrete facade, I grabbed one, and we calmly, but quickly, left the Garden via the carpeted stairway, occasionally taking detours around Garden personnel.

Jubilant, and still feeling like, "Holy crap I can't believe we did it!" we took in the hubbub outside. Green and white everywhere. Cops dressed like Judge Dredd brandishing little tan clubs that did not seem to have the desired effect of deterrence. But what was there really to deter? People were happy. Unspeakably, unabashedly, understandably happy. The war, exponentially increasing gas prices, a fledgling career, late 20s bachelorhood...none of it mattered. My favorite team playing my favorite sport in my favorite city just won it all and I got to see it happen.

And I stole a chair.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Conversations Between Gil and Cal

Gil: Hey Cal, what's up?
Cal: Nuthin, just playin some sports.
Gil: I can see that. Nice shot.
Cal: What's that supposed to mean?
Gil: What's what supposed to mean?
Cal: You know damn well what I'm talking about.
Gil: Um, actually I don't. I said, "Nice shot" and you flipped out.
Cal: There you go again, being all condescending.
Gil: What are you talking about? How am I being condescending?
Cal: Oh come on, you're the SMART one, you should know how you're being condescending.
Gil: Well geez, I'm sorry if I sounded condescending.
Cal: You know, it's that attitude right there that makes me want to bust a cap in your face.
Gil: It's "ass," Cal.
Cal: You know, it's that attitude right there that makes me want to bust an ass in your face. That can't be right.
Gil: The expression is bust a CAP in your ASS.
Cal: Why would you want to shoot someone in the ass when you could shoot them in the face?
Gil: I don't know, maybe it's a humiliation thing. Like, if you shoot a guy in the face, they're pretty much dead, but if you shoot them in the ass it's kinda like the ultimate insult. And they have to think about it every time they sit down.
Cal: But what if you shot the girl in the cheek so the bullet just tore a hole in her cheek but didn't go into her head or anything? Like what happened at the end of Fight Club. He shot himself in the cheek, right? And he was OK?
Gil: Your creepy misogynous tone notwithstanding, yes, I think that's what happened in Fight Club. Edward Norton shot himself in the cheek and while it left him disfigured, it killed Brad Pitt, with whom Norton shared a body.
Cal: Shared what body? Helena Bonham Carter? Yeah, they really did share her body I guess.
Gil: No, I mean they shared one body.
Cal: Yeah, Helena Bonham Carter.
Gil. Geez, no, I mean they inhabited the same body.
Cal: Oh I get it. Hey, Gil, you know that girl Sarah I told you about.
Gil: Yeah.
Cal: I inhabited her last night. Twice!
Gil: Goodbye, Cal.
Cal: What did I say?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Amputeens: Episode 1, Part 2

Living on a main thoroughfare has its advantages:

No one has trouble finding your house.

Commerce is always a short walk or drive away.

Your address is generally a nice large number like 452 or 1681.

But backing out of your driveway into traffic at 8 AM on a Wednesday is most certainly NOT one of those advantages. After what seemed like 20 minutes but was probably less than 2, Roger gunned it in reverse, cut the wheel hard with his palm and accelerated with a slight lurch. No matter how gently he shifted into drive from reverse, the Sentra always lurched. Every time.

Easing down Pleasant Street, Roger steadied the wheel with his left elbow and reached across his body with his right hand, instinctively knowing the placement of the driver's side window button. As the window lowered with a sound that could be described as something between a buzz and a rattle, Roger thought about how odd it was that everyone still uses the term "rolling down the window." No car built in the last ten years has had manual windows. People just have a hard time letting go of what they're used to.

With the window down, Roger got a whiff of the nostalgia offered by the warm, late summer air. That smell always reminded him of playing four-square in elementary school. He wondered why that memory always popped into his head. He hated four-square and was always terrible at it. But for those few formative years, Roger played it every day during recess on the pavement court marked by aged, flecked white paint. Did you even call it a court? He didn't know. But every morning the kids would be lined up waiting for one of the lucky four sharing the court to hit the cheap red rubber ball outside the lines or to break a rule recently decreed by the current four-square king. Hey, since there was a king, it probably SHOULD be called a court. Roger made a face at himself for even thinking such a lousy joke.

Roger glanced out the passenger side window as he passed plot after plot of predictable architecture (if it even warranted the lofty term). The uneven lawns were home to an endless array of once brightly colored toys, their cheap plastic now faded after a summer of harsh sun and disuse.

"Man I hate Rhode Island," he thought.

He turned his attention back to the road and realized he was driving 15 MPH. But he wasn't the cause of the slowdown, more the result. This was strange. Pleasant is usually busy at this time, but it's never bumper to bumper. "There must be an accident," Roger surmised.

Now completely stopped, Roger leaned his head out the window to get a look past the traffic. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust down the road, but when they did, they widened in horror.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Man Digs to China

Man Digs to China
June 2, 2008

BOSTON, MA—Today the old adage, "Sometimes the only way to get out of a hole is to dig yourself out" rings true to at least one Massachusetts native.

At approximately 4:30 PM, Sunday, June 1, Gary Newsome, a serial murderer and life-long resident of Brockton, officially completed his dig to China.

"I never thought it was possible," Newsome explained enthusiastically. "I mean, you always heard those stories when you were a kid about how if you keep digging, eventually you'll get to China. But this? This is just surreal."

Nearly 16 days ago, Newsome began his now legendary descent in his backyard.

"I was burying some stuff that I had to get rid of. Some latex gloves, a hatchet, some lime, you know the stuff I generally use for my murdering. Anyway, obviously I didn't want anyone to find all that, so I figured I'd bury them deeper than usual." That's when things got interesting.

As the minutes became hours and hours became days, Newsome fought through the fatigue and kept right on digging. He would give himself incremental challenges. For example, he'd see how many feet he could dig one day and try to break that record the next.

"It kinda became an obsession," Newsome confesses. "You know, digging that hole was a lot like serial murdering. You get fixated on something and you just have to follow it through no matter what. You just keep doing it and doing it and you can't stop."

And he didn't stop. Not until he had been boring through earth, bedrock and molten core for over two weeks. Not until, by a mind-numbing twist of equilibrium, he had somehow found himself digging up instead of down. Not until, with one violent hack above his head, he punched through the windswept surface of Tiananmen Square.

"My first thought was, 'Where the heck am I?' My second thought was, 'Wow, these little guys are gunna be so easy to murder.'"

Is that enough reason to prompt Newsome to set up permanent residence across the globe?

"Nah," Newsome dismisses. "Now that I finished the hole, I need a new task. Maybe I'll try to jump so high I touch the sky. Or murder an albino king or something. There can't be many of those, right?"

But even if he never reaches those lofty goals, Gary Newsome's name has secured a place on the lips of schoolyard children across the continent. He dug so far down, he got to China.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The 5 Keys to Preparing a Successful Bath

1. Preparedness
First, and perhaps most importantly, make sure you have a towel in the bathroom with you before you begin to remove your clothes. You don’t want to step out of hot bath only to realize that you’re forced to hastily streak from the bathroom in search of something to dry and cover your skin. This is especially important if you share a living space with someone who does not regularly see you naked. That you know of. Bath success has a direct relationship to towel availability.

2. Gravity
If you’re a first time bath-taker, please take note. As you begin to fill your tub with water, keep the drain closed. This can be accomplished with a metal slider or switch built into your tub that changes your drain position from “open” to “closed” or with a standalone stopper (available in some older tub models). If you fail to do so, your tub will fill quite slowly, if at all, and once you turn the faucet to its “off” position, the tub will immediately begin to empty. Improperly closed drains are a leading cause of unsuccessful baths.

3. Temperature
Immediately after you turn your faucet to the “on” position, water will begin to flow into your tub. Many modern tubs allow you to select your desired water temperature with a color-coded dial on which blue denotes “cold” and red, “hot.” However, simply positioning your dial is not, in itself, a fail-safe method of temperature selection. You must continuously monitor your water temperature with your hand throughout the tub filling process. Remember, your water temperature will gradually change during the time it takes to fill your tub to it appropriate level (more on this later).

4. Level
As student of Advanced Fluid Mechanics 401, you have learned that displacement occurs when an object of measurable mass is immersed in a fluid. The fluid then rises within its container to accommodate the additional mass, allowing you to determine the object’s volume. Therefore, it should be no surprise that as you enter a full tub the water level will not remain constant. As stated, it will rise to accommodate your substantial bulk. This is why you should always leave room for displacement. Do not fill your tub to its capacity before submerging your body, or spillage will occur. As a general rule of thumb, leave at least 8 inches of vertical space between the water level at its highest point and the top of the tub. Hazards of overfill include post-bath bodily slippage and resulting head trauma. (See: Louganis, Greg)

5. Enjoy Yourself!
Ultimately, any bath should be a pleasant experience. But if you find yourself with nothing to amuse you, feel free to bring in a rubbered duck, plastic motorized boat or any brightly colored object fitted with a suction cup. Unless you happen to be washing off the shame of a lifetime of underachievement and rejected sexual advances, you should complete your bath feeling clean, refreshed and with the sense of accomplishment that accompanies a job well done.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pour Baby

Martina was frantic. Where was Ella? Her precious baby girl? The love of her life? One minute the two are enjoying a bath, the next she’s gone.

Ella had just begun crawling, so she can’t have just taken off. Besides, their studio apartment didn’t exactly afford a 6-month-old girl much opportunity to hide. All the closet doors were closed. The oven secure. The fridge door handle impossible to reach.

Martina tore open the cabinets, feeling more and more desperate as each second ticked by. Nothing. She struggled to move the futon away from the wall, one side at a time. Nothing but dust and a few ancient popcorn kernels. She stooped to peer under her computer desk. Empty CD cases, a fuzzy Cheez-It but no Ella. Where the fuck is she!?

Martina began to wonder if she was losing her mind. “Is this how it happens?” she thought. “Do you misplace something here or there and suddenly you’re insane?” Martina even briefly let herself entertain the thought that Ella never existed. That she was a product of Martina’s increasingly diseased consciousness.

Martina looked around the room. Ella’s toys were scattered about. A few brightly colored pieces of plastic designed by “doctors” to stimulate Ella’s intellectual development. The toys surely proved Ella’s existence. Right? Martina looked down at her midsection, pulled out her waistband and saw the C-section scar. “OK, so I’m not crazy,” Martina concluded.

But where was Ella? Where was she?

With a start, Martina made for the apartment’s lone window. En route, her foot caught under the lamp’s cord, causing her to pitch forward and take the lamp with her. Martina quickly recovered, leapt to her feet and bolted toward the open window, a light breeze ruffling the old beige curtains that had been hanging there the day she moved in and likely for decades before that.

Martina thrust her head through the window and looked down to realize what she dread. There, two stories below, was Ella, naked on the soaked pavement, a rubber duck in the grass five feet away and a tangled washcloth draped across the child’s legs.

Martina had thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Conversations Between Gil and Cal

Gil: So I was watching Teen Wolf 2 the other day and I noticed something.
Cal: I didn’t watch Teen Wolf yesterday.
Gil: No, I know, I didn’t say you did.
Cal: You said “I was watching Teen Wolf, too, the other day…”
Gil: Yeah, Teen Wolf 2. Teen Wolf PART 2.
Cal: What do you mean “PART 2”?
Gil: What do you mean what do I mean. I mean the second Teen Wolf.
Cal: The second Teen Wolf?
Gil: Yes, the second Teen Wolf. Teen Wolf 2. Teen Wolf Part 2. What is so confusing here?
Cal: I don’t understand. They made Teen Wolf twice? Did someone remake the movie?
Gil: Ugh, no, it’s a sequel.
Cal: What’s a sequel?
Gil: You don’t know what a sequel is?
Cal: No, is it some kinda submarine?
Gil: Yes, Teen Wolf 2 is a type of submarine. That makes a lot of sense.
Cal: Hey, don’t get all bitchy. I’m not the one making up words.
Gil: I’m not making up words! Sequels are really common! Haven’t you ever seen Batman Returns?
Cal: Sure. With Christopher Walken, right?
Gil: Well, yeah, but he’s not really the main character. It was more a Michael Keaton, Danny Devito, Michelle Pheiffer vehicle.
Cal: Oh, I disagree. I think Walken’s character played a huge part in the plot. Without him, they never would have—
Gil: OK. Fine, Walken was important. But my point was Batman Returns was the sequel to Batman.
Cal: The sequel to a TV show?
Gil: NO! The sequel to the MOVIE Batman.
Cal: The one that came out in the 60s?
Gil: Jesus! No, the movie that came out in 1989.
Cal: I didn’t know a Batman movie came out in 1989.
Gil: What? It was one of the biggest movies of the 80s!
Cal: Well I don’t remember it.
Gil: So, you know every nuance of the plot of Batman Returns and you’ve never even heard of the original Batman?
Cal: The original Batman was in the 60s.
Gil: God dammit! I mean the 1989 Batman.
Cal: I didn’t know there was a 1989 Batman, and frankly, it sounds made up. Why would they name a movie 1989 Batman. Unless…ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I get it. It’s a “sequel!”
Gil: Oh my god. I’m leaving.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Amputeens: Episode 1, Part 1

In one motion that was somehow awkward and effortless, Roger one-handedly whipped his messenger bag over his head and slipped it onto one shoulder. He exhaled slowly, raising his head to look at himself in the cheap frameless mirror bracketed to the inside of his bedroom door.

Hair: Stylishly messy with just the right amount of product.

Clothes: Crisp white button-down dress shirt with ragged jeans and white sneakers, a nice blend of new and worn.

Left arm: Still missing from just below the elbow.

As Roger took himself in, he thought about what his mom had been badgering him about the last few weeks. That this was a chance to start fresh. A new school. A new year. An opportunity to put everything behind him—the suppressed aggression, the violence, the incident, the trial, what began with exhilaration and ended in humiliation.

Roger thought for a moment and opened his bedroom door. He skipped down the stairs, but it wasn’t a carefree, whimsical skip. It was a hurried gate that was more out of habit than anything else. And he was determined to leave the house before his parents knew he was even awake. He didn’t want the questions. He didn’t want the encouragement. He just wanted to get this over with.

Roger slipped out the front door, careful not to make a sound. As the door softly clicked behind him, he sighed with relief at the avoidance of confrontation, no matter how well-intentioned it would have been.

It was August so the early morning air was still warning of the heat to that would come with the afternoon sun. A little more upbeat, Roger fished for his keys in his right pocket. Extracting them, he manually unlocked the door of his cherry red 1993 Nissan Sentra SE-R. He tossed his backpack onto the passenger seat, temporarily smothering a pile of fast food wrappers, ATM receipts, loose change and other useless odds and ends.

Pulling out into the road, Roger felt the familiar fluttering of butterflies. He’d spent almost an entire day at an orientation session at the school two weeks before, but he still hadn’t met anyone who didn’t fall into the “administrator” category. He wasn’t na├»ve enough to think that part of his past wouldn’t be waiting to greet him at the school’s entrance, but he was hoping to get through at least this first day without incident.

Unfortunately, hope is no match for destiny.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Proposal

I know this is sudden. I know we haven’t been together a long time. But I know, I just KNOW, this is right. When I hold you, I feel like I can see deep inside you. Read your thoughts. And you know what? They’re just like mine. We think so much alike, it’s scary sometimes. But it’s just further proof that this was meant to be.

You know, the first time I saw you, you were with another guy. Telling him everything he wanted to hear but still maintaining the air of mystery that ultimately drew me to you. In the end, I know I stole you from him. You can blame yourself all you want, but I know in my heart that I am the reason he left you. And if he wanted you that badly, he wouldn’t have left you alone at the bar for me to pick you up. Do you remember what I asked you that first time?

“Is he coming back?”

“Don’t count on it,” you answered.

Something about your confident tone and blunt manner almost knocked me off my feet. From that moment you had me in your pocket. And somehow, despite the din of the bar, every word you said came through with a clarity and foresight that was refreshing. Not at all like the others. And there have definitely been others. Certainly one for every day of the week. But I shouldn’t go on about that because none of them matter.

Back at the bar, my voice straining over the music, “Do you want to get out of here?” I looked at you expectantly. My mind sliding across your potential responses, clinging to the one I so desperately wanted.

“Yes – definitely.”

True to form, you didn’t mince words, and your answer gave my heart a jolt.

And that was the moment I knew you were the one. You shook me from the very beginning, changing my perception of what true love was all about. So that’s why I brought you here, to where it all began. You sitting at the bar, me standing, gazing down at you. Magic 8 Ball, will you marry me?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

MBTA Rider Finds Seat

MBTA Rider Finds Seat
June 7, 2007

BOSTON, MA—Philip Stevenson, a 31-year old IT professional from Cambridge found an empty seat on an inbound Red Line train Thursday.

"It's amazing," Stevenson said. "I catch the train near the city so the car is always packed. There's never any empty seats, and when there is it's usually got spilled coffee or something on it."

Added Stevenson, "When I got on today it seemed like the same old thing. Packed train, no seats. But today was different. Today was just…special."

What happened next was an experience Philip will never forgot.

When Stevenson entered the "T" (as its known by local residents), he immediately spotted a vacant seat. "It was like the perfect storm. Someone must have just gotten up and there were no babies or old ladies around. So I took advantage."

But it was the location of the seat that made this such a memorable experience.

Stevenson continued, "The best part was that the seat was right next to the door. So I only had to sit next to one person and on the other side I could rest my arm on the pole. And when I got to my stop I could be the first one off the train."

"I saw the whole thing develop," says Catherine Mayweather, a fellow Red Line commuter who happened to be standing down the aisle at the time. "The guy who was sitting there got off at Kendall. I was going to make a move for the empty seat but right then this other guy gets on the train and beats me to it. It was OK, I was getting off at the next stop anyway."

But Philip isn't shedding any tears for those who missed out on the opportunity. "God knows I've lost out on my share of empty seats. It's part of riding the T. It's usually a pain, but a day like today makes it all worth it."

Will this experience change him?

"Nah," Stevenson shakes his head. "I'm going to be the same T rider I've always been. I mean, maybe I'll tell someone at work the story, but you can't ride the T and expect a seat every day. You'll just end up being disappointed."

But for today at least, disappointment is the farthest thing from Philip Stevenson's mind.