Category Archives: Reminiscing

Fourth Grade

It’s amazing some of the things you remember from when you were in grammar school. For instance, every great once in a while I remember a superstitious trick that my fourth grade teacher taught us about the first of every month. She said that if you say “Jimeny Cricket” as the very first words out of your mouth on the first of a new month, it’ll be a lucky month for you.

Now, I’m not saying that she was a superstitious freak.. it was just more of one of those things she said in passing one day to amuse her students.. to this day I remember this. Before today, I can’t remember the last time that I actually said these words upon waking.. I rarely even think about it.. sometimes it just happens, though.

After thinking about this for a bit while I was in the shower this morning, I was wondering if I could remember how to spell my fourth grade teacher’s name, Mrs. Goeckel. After a minute it came to me.. “George’s Old Eagle Caught Kyle Eating Limes.” She taught us this mnemonic on the very first day of school and I believe that she quizzed us on the second day. How do I remember this? I don’t consider this valuable knowledge.. meanwhile, I can hardly recall the fomula for the quadratic equation that I spent at least 6 or 7 years of my life working with in various math classes. It’s strange how the human memory works.

In case you’re wondering about the quadaratic equation.. it’s:


Arrested by The Police

I feel like a kid again.  I cannot tell you all how excited I am that The Police are back together.  However, this is The Police we’re talking about and I am petrified that Stewart and Sting will get in a fistfight at tonight’s Grammy Awards, which will lead to yet another broken arm/wrist/hand for Stewart, yet another black eye for Sting, and yet another break-up by The Police.  Ahhh, but that’s the intriguing thing about this group – they never actually broke up.  They became international super-duperstars on the heels of Synchronicity, toured the world for a year or more, passed the torch to U2 at the Amnesty International show, and took a much needed break from each other after six straight years of touring and recording. 

I’ve mentioned to many friends of mine how I came to be a fan of The Police.  My childhood best friend, Greg, was blessed with a young, hip mom.  She had him when she was 20, so she was a cool MTV mom and very much into The Police.  I thought she was the coolest because she had a giant Police poster in the living room and played their records (oh yes, back in the good old vinyl days) all the time.  I was sleeping over in 1984 at the tender age of 7 when they announced their hiatus and she was bummed out, but upbeat about a reunion soon enough.  Then, two years later, our wish came true and they regrouped to record a new album.  But Stewart broke his arm falling off a horse, objected to using a drum machine on the album, and only an updated “Don’t Stand So Close To Me ’86” resulted before the fighting began anew and the boys parted company once more. 

Still, Greg’s mom was hopeful they would get together again.  That was nearly 21 years ago and only the lucky guests at Sting’s wedding in the early 1990s saw a Police reunion.  I’ve read enough magazine articles and seen enough interviews with Stewart and Sting to come to the conclusion that they didn’t need the headaches and hassles that came with The Police.  I thought perhaps their one-off Hall of Fame induction ceremony performance 4 years ago would have to satisfy diehards such as myself. 

Well, here they are.  Together on stage in public with promises of a summer tour and I didn’t have to give up one of my kidneys or testicles (a common refrain of mine over the last decade has been “I would gladly give up a testicle to see a Police reunion.”).  I am giddy at the thought that they are a mere 4 hours away from making one of my childhood dreams come true.  And when they roll into Fenway Park this summer, I’m sure Greg’s mom will be there, too.

M.A.S.K.

At Google, we have a number of meetings or training sessions where you’re required to introduce yourself. Besides the usual "name, department & start date" there’s always a unique question that is asked. "What is your favorite meal?","What is your Favorite Smell?","What was your last concert that you went to", etc.

This past week in a training, the question was "What was your favorite childhood cartoon." And you had the usual answers: He-Man, Transformers, Smurfs, some of the younger employees even said Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Towards the end, people were struggling to come up with unique answers.. it was a fun exercise, regardless.

I was going to say "M.A.S.K." however, when I asked a few of my neighbors, they’d never heard of it. I found the intro on YouTube and wanted to share.. Does anyone else remember this show, or am I crazy?

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We’ll miss you, Bob

Yesterday, Bob Barker announced that he’ll be retiring from The Price is Right next June. Even though I don’t get to watch this show more than a couple times a year, this news hit me hard. I remember some serious bonding time as a pre-schooler watching TPIR with my mom. I also remember watching it at the Ell Student Center (before it became the Curry) while scarfing down lunch and speed reading before my afternoon classes freshman year. I’m sure the show will continue, but no other host could possibly do it justice. Bob Barker IS TPIR. Alex Trebeck IS Jeopardy! Pat Sajak IS Wheel of Fortune. The game show landscape now includes Howie Mandel and Bob Saget. In other words, we’re screwed. Howie Mandel and Bob Saget as game show hosts? I owe Bob Barker an apology for even including those hacks in his blog entry. Anyway, don’t tell my boss, but I plan on taking more sick days over the next seven or eight months so I can catch the swan song of a legend.

Take the candy, leave the crowbar

Happy Halloween, everybody. I heard something on a morning radio show on my drive into work today that made me remember something I hadn’t thought about in a long time. As a kid, there were years when I had some good Halloween costumes – I was Dracula one year, a pirate another year, and I actually won first prize in my grammar school’s costume contest for one of my lesser costumes ever. I was the grim reaper, but I didn’t have a sickle and my hooded garment was plastic, as was my mask. It’s not like there wasn’t stiff competition, either. There were plenty of kids with much better costumes.

Anyway, I think it was when I was in third grade that I wasn’t really into finding a costume that year. Actually, I don’t remember the reason why, but I had to scramble the night before Halloween to come up with something, anything that I could wear to school and trick-or-treating afterwards. What I scraped together was a half-assed murderous zombie, with ratty, old sneakers, blue jeans, one of my father’s old, gray sweaters, a pair of my father’s leather gloves (way too big for me), and a monster mask that my dad had worn to a Halloween party a few years earlier. It was just a full-head rubber mask with a gray face, gray hair, warts, scars, a big hooked nose, an evil snarl, and quasi fangs (to which I added fake blood).

Something was missing, however. I needed a weapon to appear more menacing. I had learned from my mistake the year prior when I didn’t have a sickle to complete my grim reaper ensemble. There was no time to go to a store to buy a plastic axe, so, without telling my parents, I went down to the cellar on Halloween morning and grabbed a crowbar and hid it in my sleeve. When my sister saw me carrying a crowbar to school, she warned me that I’d get busted. I didn’t believe her or didn’t care. I thought our school would grant a special dispensation allowing me to carry a blunt instrument seeing as how it was Halloween. Well, the nuns didn’t take too kindly to that. The crowbar was taken away, but in the end things worked out alright because the nuns didn’t tell my parents and didn’t give me detention. So I guess even a Pagan holiday celebrating the dead has the power to soften a ruler-wielding nun.

The Day They Killed Recess

My brother-in-law just forwarded me this article about a nearby town that decided to ban all contact during recess. Reading the article instantly sent me back to my halcyon recess days from first grade through fifth grade. Once we hit sixth grade, of course, our recess time was briefer and became more of a boy-chases-girl social setting than a time and place to get sweaty and dirty. It’s too bad these kids will never get to even play two-hand tag football during recess.

We used to play Killer Spud with raquet balls and tennis balls. We also played a game where some brave kid would run parallel to a brick wall and about 15-20 kids would get to pelt him with raquet/tennis balls. I don’t remember what we called this game, but running the wall was the only way you gained any respect in the schoolyard. And when it rained outside one day and we had recess in the gym, we made up a game called Footsweep. We’d run around at full speed, slide, and take someone’s legs out when they weren’t looking (because they were too busy frantically looking the other way for attacking Footsweepers). Naturally, we all got in trouble and Footsweep was banned. That’s when boys were boys.

Nobody broke any bones or lost any eyes playing Killer Spud, Footsweep, or almost-tackle football. We had fun, we let out all the stress from school, and we learned to toughen up and impress the girls who were always watching us. I feel bad for these kids that have to grow up in an over-protected world.

The Twilight Zone, better known as Western Mass

Last weekend I drove back to Mass for my cousin Amy’s bachelorette party and my friend Jodi’s bridal shower. In this short weekend, I managed to see domestic abuse and the cops, attend a car show, meet a Massachusetts state senator, and dance on a stripper pole. Did I enter the Twilight Zone? No, just Western Mass.

I hit the road after 9 pm on Friday after dropping LTJ at Captain and Mrs Larby’s for their summer shingdig (sorry I missed it!). As I drove past the sign for Monson, I was waxing nostalgic on my childhood days. Some of you Diatribers dispute the existence of Monson, but I can assure you it is real. Whether or not it’s part of the Twilight Zone is another story.

I ended up hitting Palmer at 1:30 am and went to the local hangout to meet my cousin Melanie as it was just after last call.

Now that I have moved on from the backwoods of Western Mass, I hate to make generalizations, but I have to admit after the bar scene that greeted my eyes, I was very happy that I no longer live out there and have that for my Friday night excitement. It was a depressing mish mash of poofy hair and white wife beater tank tops. I scene of boredom and repetition, as I know all those people are there every Friday night of their life, unless they are making the “big trip” out to Springfield to party. And I hate to use the word “white trash” but let’s face it, that’s probably the most accurate way to sum it all up. At the very least these people are trapped in a dimension of time, the land that time forgot… I was starting to wonder if maybe I really was in the twilight zone.

Melanie’s first words to me were along the lines of “we need to get Sonya out of here. she’s wasted and starting fights.” Come to find out, she’s starting fights with the girl who hooked up with her boyfriend when they were broken up. Now, I was really feeling back home… as a similar scenario occurred another time I was home over a year ago and in that one a girl jumped me…

I followed Melanie driving Sonya’s car back to Ware (not Where?). We arrive at Sonya’s boyfriend’s house just as my phone rings. It’s LTJ and I say I have to run as we’ve just arrived. Before we hang up he warns me not to get into any fights (also referring to the time I was jumped in Ware). I laugh. How could that possibly happen tonight?

Fast forward a few minutes and suddenly Sonya is outside the house shouting at this girl that was there. Then Sonya’s boyfriend goes outside and is yelling at Sonya. The next thing I know he’s shoved her against the car and is pulling her by her hair. I am watching in shock, eyes wide. She runs into her car and he’s screaming something about how she hit the back of his car and he escalates into a severe ‘roid rage. He jumps into the passengers side of her car and is grabbing her by the throat. I run over to the driver’s side (the window is down) and I yell at him “If you don’t let her go right now, I am going to call the cops.” During the pause, Sonya punches him in the face a few times, jumps out of the car, and starts walking down the street.

We all go back in the house and he is yelling at me about how I threatened to call the cops on him. I respond by saying that no matter what she did he had her by the throat. He says I can leave his house. I say gladly and leave with the words “you people are all crazy.”

As Melanie is giving me the directions to get back to her mom’s house, two cop cars arrive at the house. In this close-knit town Melanie knows the cops and assures them that she will smooth over the situation.

Senator Stephen Brewer
Laughs at “the Internet is just a bunch of tubes”

So yes, LTJ, in a little under 30 minutes, I managed to get into a fight and see the cops. Nothing like being home.

The next day I meet Melanie and we go to this local ice cream stand / burger joint to grab food. The place is packed with hot rods. We have just landed ourselves in the middle of a car show.

While we are waiting for our food, this older man approaches us and introduces himself as Joe Schmoe, actually his name is Stephen Brewer, a Massachusetts state senator. He asks where we live and what we do. He says “Oh, I don’t know that much about computers or the Internet” to which I could not help myself but to reply, “Oh, the Internet is just a bunch of tubes.”

Saturday night is Amy’s bachelorette. We are in the middle of nowhere, Hardwick at my aunt’s and the party bus is late to arrive. The driver had a hard time finding it, surprise surprise. On the party bus, there was a pole and we made each girl dance on it…

So no, I was not literally stripping, just dancing.

Back in My Day…

Am I getting old or is the world just changing faster than I can keep up? Last weekend, Swedish Girl and I went out for some drinks and appetizers and wanted to catch a movie – My Super Ex-Girlfriend, to be exact. I’m a fan of Luke Wilson, Rainn Wilson, and I don’t mind Uma Thurman. I had seen the trailer and I was game. It seemed like a decent 90-minute comedic diversion. I even had two free cinema passes given to my by my boss, so I was looking forward to a good night. Unfortunately, the mulitplex didn’t cooperate.

I was shocked and horrified to find out that, after lasting less than three weeks (JUST 3 WEEKS!), MSEG was pushed out of the theater. I stood there, incredulous, checking and double-checking both movie boards inside the cinema, as well as the big board outside. Gone. And later on, I checked on line and it’s only playing in two distant cinemas. And I’m not about to drive 30 to 45 minutes for a movie.

Is it just my rose-colored memory, or did movies used to stick around a lot longer years ago? Even really bad movies were guaranteed one or two months at the cinema. Guaranteed. And good movies stuck around for three months. Weren’t Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction around for half the year? What has happened over the last decade? I realize that this is a billion-dollar industry and cinemas want to have the hottest, latest movies, but this is ridiculous.

I’ve never felt pressured to hurry to the theater to see a movie within 10 or 12 days for fear that it will be pulled. Didn’t It’s Pat: The Movie even get a longer stay back in 1994? Maybe I’m just whining about nothing. Maybe this is yet another consequence of the fast-paced, attention deficit disorder, MTV generation. Maybe this is what we now get in the DVD era, where producers and movie studios don’t care about long box office runs and it’s only the opening weekend that really matters. However you define it, it makes me feel a bit old.

Smith & Roeper?

Let me preface this by saying that I made a conscious decision some years ago to stop watching Siskel & Ebert. I enjoyed the show and I found the hosts personable, engaging, intelligent, and thoughtful. I also enjoyed their chippy banter. These were award-winning journalists from rival Chicago newspapers and I got the feeling they only played nice for the camera. If it was an act, then I bought it. I never watched the show regularly, mostly because it was always on at the worst time, something like 11:30 pm on Sunday nights. I’d catch it now and then, but eventually found it affecting my movie fun. I had to cut Gene and Roger loose in order to walk into the cinema fresh and enjoy a movie on my terms.

I was flipping through the channels on Saturday afternoon and came across Ebert & Roeper . Hats off to Roger Ebert for being able to keep the franchise alive after the death of his co-host, Gene Siskel. However, Ebert has been in declining health over the last several years and the franchise is in doubt once more. I tuned into the show over the last couple of weekends and saw Ebert and Roeper reviewing movies and thought nothing was up. But when I tuned in on Saturday, I saw Kevin Smith sitting in Roger’s chair.

Now I love Kevin Smith. I still haven’t checked out Clerks II, but I do admire the guy. While I think it would be cool to have a different director sit in to co-host the show every so often, I missed Roger and I hope he’s back soon. Smith did a fine job, had a good rapport with Roeper, and appeared to be a TV natural. Nonetheless, seeing someone else sitting in Roger’s chair was sad. I know he won’t be around forever, and the franchise might continue, but it’s just not the same.

Don’t Call it A Comeback

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.

I’m still here.  Still kicking.  Just trying to culminate some Diatribe-worthy material.  There are rumors of another pub crawl.  This might go down in about three weeks and IF I partake, and IF I survive, then I’ll try to share some misadventures and maybe some pics.  That’s all I have for now.  Sorry.  Work has been crazed and Swedish Girl and I are apartment hunting.  I’m paying for my relatively relaxing summer of 2005.   

I’ll leave you with an incomplete thought of mine over the last couple of weeks – friends are a strange and interesting concept.  Make that friends and frienship.  Think of your friends and how you met them.  Most friends are either classmates or former classmates; college roommates or former college roommates; co-workers or former co-workers; and people you met through your existing friends. 

None of this is groundbreaking, but I was reminiscing about Captain Larby and LTJ and all the people I’ve met through them.  Larby was my college roommate and I met LTJ through him.  Larby met LTJ through his later college roommates.  In turn, Larby met Mrs. Larby through LTJ.  Now what if Larby and LTJ had never met?  A-ha!

I met my former roommate J.Lee through a roommate ad she posted on line.  Years later, she met her now husband, JC, on match.com.  One day, while they were out shopping in Boston, they ran into JC’s friend, Swedish Girl.  The rest is history.  Now what if I had not chosen J.Lee’s apartment as the one to move into back in 2001?  Or what if she had never found JC’s profile on line? 

So much of our love and happiness is dependent on our friends, our connections.  I suppose it’s all part of the master plan.  I hate to say it, but it’s the universe’s way of paying it forward.  Just pause for a few moments and think about how you met your friends or significant other.  So many little details had to allign perfectly at the right time and place.  Karma, right Earl?