30 November 2007

A Dependable Stalker

"Hello? Good afternoon, miss." The voice sounded pleasant enough. I looked up from the kitchen island from where I was working on the computer and saw a man who looked like Ken Berry peeking through the front screen door. Typically, I don't even open the door to anyone over 12 unless I absolutely have to, and in those cases, I usually talk out the first floor window, over the shrubbery. But I was working a cross breeze this afternoon and the front door was open. I talked to him through the locked screen door. His name was Cliff, he worked for Dependable Cleaners (I saw the van in the driveway) and he was here to tell me about a new drop-off/delivery promotion they were running. I tried to head him off, saying I work at home and my wardrobe, consisting of yoga pants and fleece, was entirely machine washable. He was not dissuaded. This guy was old school, robotic and overly rehearsed, part Willy Loman, part Orlando Jones selling magazine subscriptions in "Office Space." He never strayed from the script, although he did appear genuinely offended when I told him I used Dryel.

Long story short, he held up a Dependable Cleaners nylon laundry bag and told me to hold onto it. I could leave it at my side door on Tuesdays and Fridays if I had any drycleaning and the van would pick it up and drop it off. He then held up two coupons for $10 off the first two orders. There was neither a credit card number nor commitment required on our part. I still told him I really had no need for it either way. Undeterred, he asked if my husband would use the service. Doubtful, I said. He's been going to the same drycleaner in West Roxbury for years and is unlikely to switch as it's near the Middle Eastern bakery. "Well, why don't I just leave the bag and you can ask him," Cliff says. If neither of us want the service, we can just leave the bag with a note saying so. Fine fine fine. Give me the damn bag. I just wanted to get back to work.

Well, I should've never accepted the damn bag. I hung it up in the laundry room then immediately forgot about it. Then the calls started. The following Tuesday afternoon. Private name/Private number. It's Cliff. "Did you forget?" Forget what? "The driver said there was no bag at the side door." Oh, right. I had no drycleaning. "OK. Friday, then." I told him not to bother as I'd have nothing Friday either. This didn't matter. Like clockwork, every Tuesday and Friday, he calls and/or leaves messages. "You know, those coupons are going to expire if you don't use them" etc. Last week, he called at 9 p.m. and seemed angry when James answered the phone. "Can I speak to Kate?" "Who's calling?" "Is she there? "Who is this?" "Oh, never mind." Then he unceremoniously hung up. "You've got to go down there. Do you want me to go down there," James said. This was getting ridiculous. By now, this had been going on for weeks, yet each Tuesday or Friday, I was nevertheless forgetting to leave the bag with the Dear John letter to Dependable Cleaners by the side door. Mostly because in between these harrassing incidents, Dependable Cleaners was the furthest thing from my mind. Or maybe I was subconsiously gaslighting Cliff. For whatever reason, I seemed to forget about Cliff's calls almost immediately after, much like the initial screen door sales call.

That is until Cliff showed up at the house this week!!! Passive aggressive, palms up, shrugging. "Not one blouse? No Pantsuits?" (Pantsuits?) "Surely you must have some things that need drycleaning. You DO have Dryel in the house. Why do you buy Dryel if you don't have things that need drycleaning?" I almost chucked a hoodie at him to make him go away. I closed the door without a word. I'm heading down there this morning -- bag in hand, possibly swinging -- and telling Dependable Cleaners - and Cliff - in no uncertain terms, to frig off. If I go missing, you know who to look for.

27 November 2007

Leftovers with the Primeminister

This morning I was trying to stuff the scant remains of a 12 lb turkey into a full trash barrel outside when my thoughts began wandering. I stood in my barefeet thinking about what would happen if I just hurled the leftover turkey into the woods. Then I remembered Code Red's story about the mammoth turkey carcass she spotted on the streets of Chelsea last Friday. Someone had just tossed it out onto the sidewalk instead of disposing of it properly, sending the neighboring pooches, including Baron, into a collective conniption. If I threw this bad boy into the woods, Lord knows how many species of wild animals would descend upon the yard.

The phone rang. It was LPD. She was stuck in Route 3 traffic and her thoughts were wandering with regard to some leftovers as well -- musical ones. Apparently she's been playing "Pop Goes the Weasel" by 3rd Bass for Sweet Baby James and he's been digging it. For those unfamiliar, 3rd Bass -- MC Serch, Primeminister Pete Nice and DJ Richie Rich -- was an interracial rap act, popular in the early 90s, the antithesis of Vanilla Ice. With early 90s hip hop on the brain, a question popped into LPD's head like a squirrel tryin' to get a nut, 16 years later, on Route 3 by Babies R Us in Braintree.

"Remember we went to see that 3rd Bass concert at UMass," she asked.

Remember? Yes, of course I remember. An odder crew has never assembled for a show since: LPD and I, some gazelle-wearing Dorchester boys and gaggle of future jarheads of America made the pilgrimage together. It was a standout evening for more reasons than its mere unlikelihood.

"Why was there a press conference?"

I'd nearly forgotten. It was a strange event, one that we never questioned at the time. It was not the typical meet-and-greet that served as a prelude to shows on college campuses, but a very formal media event, like a debriefing after a Red Sox game or a political scandal. Journalists were barking out some serious questions at 3rd Bass. At this preshow gathering, there were no musical discussions or free swag but blistering discussions of 90s zeitgeist: the white appropriation of hip hop culture, the use of rap as a political vehicle, etc. LPD and I -- out of our element and giggling behind a blue student press pass -- decided to elevate the dialogue further. We also wanted to engage Pete Nice who had something of a Sean Penn thing going on.

I stood up, giddy from the slushy Bud Light in the car ride over, and smashed the intellectual glass ceiling: “Mr. Primeminister, what’s with all the Elvis references?"

Pete Nice turned serious and stood up from the table.

Oh my God. Why is he standing up? What is he doing!? LPD and I clutched each other's sleeves. A hush fell over the room as Pete Nice swung his trademarked pimped-out cane and busted into a very animated response:

“Yo, you know it’s like 'Yo, I’m Elvis with the words of wisdom,'” he rapped. Then he winked at us and slowly sat back down.


“Ok. Thank you, Primeminister, Thank you. hee hee.”

Pete Nice, elemental like uranium

"Seriously what was that all about?" LPD was still bewildered. I still had no answer. It was one bizarre evening in a decade that could launch 1000 whys on any given topic. Why were we hanging with those dudes? Why were we all wearing baseball hats? Why did Auntie run me over?
Maybe the "why" lies in a simple Latin phrase I've committed to memory: "Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit." Translation: "One day we will look back on these things and laugh." Which is exactly what we did this morning.

After LPD and I hung up, I did not chuck the turkey into the woods to deteriorate in relative obscurity like my old 3rd Bass CDs. Instead I downloaded "Derelicts of Dialect" off iTunes and relished the musical leftovers while tossing out the Thanksgiving ones.

Random: A Google search shows that Pete Nice is now a sports historian and documentary filmmaker. Good for you, Mr. Primeminister Sinister.

20 November 2007

Not Thankful for Thanksgiving Buzzkill

This article made me irrationally angry this morning. Today show nutritionist and diet editor Joy Bauer wants us to know that we fat slobs could consume up to 5,000 calories this Thanksgiving. If that's not bad enough, she provides a detailed gastrointestinal analysis of what consuming this many calories in one day does to your body. Wait, it gets worse, there’s a sidebar: Advice and recipes on how to cook an entire turkey dinner under 1,000 calories and a comprehensive calorie listing of typical Thanksgiving dishes. Did you know that there are 500 calories in two tiny mini quiches? I didn’t. Needless to say, I want all of this information about as much as I want to know what they put in hot dogs. It’s beyond buzzkill, it’s straight up mean. So, screw you, Joy. I’ve been good all year with the damn leafy greens and whole grain everything and multi-vitamin supplements. I plan to live a little.

That said, the following is the PU’s official response to Joy’s list of "helpful" suggestions:

1. Eat sensibly and lightly throughout the earlier part of the day.
Mini-quiches, proscuitto, shrimp cocktail, calzone. These are just the appetizers. According to your malevolent calorie counter, Joy, I might as well stuff a canned ham down the back of my pants right now and get it over with.

2. Hit the gym in the morning.
Right on, Joy. Then we’ll fly off to my parents’ house for dinner on the back of Pegasus.

3. Wear something fitted and fabulous. You’ll be less apt to overeat when there’s no room to expand.
This is just bad advice. You’re assuming snug clothing gives you willpower. In the face of chorizo stuffing and butternut squash and apple pie and turkey gravy, a ruched blouse will not save the day any more than good intentions. When the wine is flowing, you’re not thinking about the hangover. In turn, people will not be thinking about splitting their ill-fitting pants as they gorge themselves on pie. I’m busting out my old maternity jeans with the expandable waist band.

4. Splurge selectively.
That’s borderline oxymoronic. Sort of like your byline on this article, Joy. You seem hellbent on sucking the joy out of the entire holiday.

5. Send leftovers home with your guests (and if you’re a guest, resist taking leftovers from gracious hosts!)
We will not only be taking some leftovers home, we’re actually cooking our own turkey dinner with all the fixings here purely for the sandwiches! What do you think of that, you hag?

BTW, all in the Pointy Universe are invited to stop by Sat or Sun for a 2,500 calorie post-Thanksgiving sandwich!

18 November 2007

Baby Bags II: It's a Boy!

(Yo little brother)

If you are curiously hearing Nolan Thomas' 7-inch remix from V-66 in the background, there is a reason. It's in celebration of Jack's big brotherhood! Baby Bags II aka Daniel Joseph arrived last night at 10:33 p.m., weighing in at 6 pounds, 4 ounces, 19.5 inches long. He was scheduled to arrive via C on Tuesday but he's already proven himself an early bird, a trait he likely inherited from his dad. (Anyone who's received a text message from Bags at 4:14 a.m. can attest to this) All are doing well. Congratulations, Auntie, Bags & Jack. We love you all!

16 November 2007

Paulie Shorn II

Paulie walked downstairs and appeared to be suffering from what looked like an errant cowlick. Upon closer inspection, it was clear a chunk of his bangs had been lopped off. Evidence in the upstairs hallway, a clump of wavy brown hair, confirmed this fact. "Paulie, who cut your hair?" "Caroline." CAROLINE! "Isn't he handsome?" she replied. Apparently, she sat him down on a footstool, wrapped a towel around him and gave him a little trim, or more specifically, the Lloyd Christmas. I can't believe child scissors cut through those Britpop locks. It's the toddler equivalent of shaving off someone's eyebrows, absent of malice of course, and my digicam couldn't have picked a worse time to be busted. I found a way to comb it to make it less conspicuous. And even though Caroline's in trouble, she's right about one thing: He is handsome.

14 November 2007

Random Quizzilla

1) Did you have a pet as a child? If so, what kind and what was its name?

Yes. A miniature schnauzer, Muffin. Muffin facts: She was only affectionate to me and a "cold german bitch" (my mother's phrase) to mostly everyone else. She slept on a Star Wars pillow next to my bed *I named her Muffin because there were three other dogs in the neighborhood named Muffin (I was 7) * KW once fled my house in hysterics, claiming "that dog has shoulders!" * As she got older, Muffin accumulated all kinds of health problems. Cataracts. She'd bark at the dining room chairs at random. Whenever someone walked in the house, she'd bark at the fridge. Gingivitis. She eventually lost all her teeth except for one fang that jutted out the left side of her mouth. She also had "scratch and sniff" skin condition: Whenever she scratched herself, she released something foul into the air. Still, we loved her, perhaps even more so. She lived to be 16 years old and is memorialized annually on Goy's birthday. This year, I wished Goy a happy 38th birthday and a happy 15th anniversary of Muffin's death. (* This tradition was trumped by a “Happy Birthday, my cat has cancer” card sent to me many years ago -- not from Goy)

2) What does the color purple make you think of?

Prince, but more specifically of an incident. One time, Jen W wore a purple blazer to work that was the shade most would associate with his Purpleness. A coworker, as he passed her in the hallway, unexpectedly yelled out -- quite loudly -- “SO WHEN YOU CALL UP THAT SHRINK IN BEVERLY HILLS…”

3) If you could choose to be in a TV commercial, what would you advertise?

It'd be a commercial for Fresh 'n Clean Dog Shampoo directed by Christopher Guest in the style of Best in Show. After Vito's near-fatal encounter at the dog groomers a few weeks ago, we've been bathing him ourselves. This shampoo leaves him smelling fresh as a daisy for days on end, and his nose wrinkle no longer smells like a cow. It's even curbed his massive shedding. A neighbor walked up to him yesterday and said, "Vito, something's different. Have you lost weight?" (He hasn't)

4) What year did you start using the Internet?

I became a regular user in 1995 but my first encounter with the Net was in 1994 when I was housesitting for my friend Dave and his cat. I spent the entire weekend drinking wine and chatting on AOL, getting into arguments, making outrageous claims, drunk with anonymity as much as vino. I didn't realize at the time, however, that I was doing all this chit-chatting under my friend's screenname. He ended up receiving so many bizarre emails in the following weeks that he had to open a new account and change his email address and screenname. (Still sorry, Dave.)

5) What food or drinks have you snuck into the movie theatre?

Granny smith apples, Ziploc bag of grape tomatoes, McDonalds, Charms Blow Pops, wine coolers, Dunkin' iced coffee.

12 November 2007

Scarlet Oak Serengeti

The Scarlet Oak Tavern is currently one of the most popular places on the South Shore and it's as tough to get a table on a Tuesday night as it is on a Friday. If you don’t have reservations or arrive after 4 p.m., you’re going to be standing around for a very long time. Still, many people try their luck in the bar where seating is first-come-first served. It's an honor system that nobody honors because, let's face it, people are hungry. Unfortunately, this has created an "every man for himself" kind of atmosphere in there. Regardless of how many times other patrons smile at you and say “excuse me,” beneath the polite exteriors are bloodthirsty predators, seething with resentment, jockeying for coveted tables and barstools and especially the half moon leather booths in the corners that accommodate up to six people.

This weekend, six burds crowded around a high top that barely accommodated our olives and focaccia, let alone wine glasses. Still, we were among the lucky ones. LPD noticed a couple at one of the half moon booths (spacehogs) was finishing up their dinners. She also noticed another couple standing next to them who’d noticed the very same thing. LPD, mama bear in full effect, walked over and brokered a deal: "Give us the booth, we’ll give you our table.” She pointed to the five of us, smushed together, but a pregnant Auntie -- in full-on mama stance with palms on the small of her back – likely sealed the deal. LPD somehow roped our waitress into the deal as well and within moments, we were passing our co-conspirators in a hand-slapping victory line and sliding into the booth.

Another group who’d been eyeing the booth began circling us like territorial wildebeests. Their faces smiled but their eyes were threatening us with steak knives. To the victors go the spoils. A round of turtlenecks! A bellydancer! A turkey sandwich in a blender! We dug into some Scarlet salads and steak tips and Auntie enjoyed her third meal of the evening, a side of squash that she couldn’t finish after we remarked it looked like a baby food.

The view from the booth was much different. People were getting louder and more animated and less able to perform fine motor skills. We realized that when you’re waiting so long to eat, and standing around drinking, it’s only a matter of time before you begin to sway. This scene played out in all around us but the ladies loo was something else entirely “It’s the Rocky Horror Picture Show in there.”

A posse of ladies, 50-somethings, completely pickled and achingly well groomed had taken over the restroom. They were hanging in there with their drinks, sneaking cigarettes and barking at each other from beneath the stalls. One woman stood at the sink holding a glass of red wine in one hand while furiously brushing her hair with the other. I walked up to wash my hands and noticed a tiny nest of hair had accumulated in the sink.

She looked down at me, swaying, wine spilling out over the sides of the glass.

“It’s crazy here tonight, huh?”
“Yes,” I said.

I don’t know what the ‘fuck’ retort was all about, but I slunk away without drying my hands because I was scared. I exited the ladies room where a very tan man with shocking white hair was leaning against the wall outside the door. He wore a skin tight red, white and blue parka and was holding a martini. He nodded his head up and down as women came and went: “Hi.. hi… hi…hi…hi…hi.”

Who said people watching is no good in the burbs?

Cameo noted the bathroom ladies will likely be us in 10 years. Either way, we will live to see another night at this Serengeti of the South Shore.

09 November 2007

Auntie's Dream Diary Returns

(Right on)

The arrival of Baby Bags Dos just 11 days away, Auntie's psychedelic dreams have returned in full force. And once again, they are oddly manifesting Red Sox-related themes.


"Last night she was the female Jacoby Ellsbury. She was called up by the Sox, put into the game and ended up having two hits. Don Orsillo and Remdawg were very vocal with her highlight reel play. I was supposedly jealous and seemed disinterested."

07 November 2007

The Writers' Strike: The Bad (for me), The Ugly (Eva Longoria), and The Good (for Nic)

BAD: LOST could be lost. The season premiere is scheduled for Feb 2008 but Michael Ausiello of TV Guide said today if the strike extends into the new year and beyond, there is a chance ABC may delay the new season until the fall. Or worse yet, Feb 2009. NO! It’s bad enough we insomniacs are watching "Awesome Pawsome" on Animal Planet instead of Letterman, but LOST! I can’t even go there in my head right now. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

UGLY: Mucho-overrated Eva Longoria crying on the picket line. There she was, carrying a pizza, crying for the fate of her hair and make up artists and how they could possibly lose their homes in the wake of the strike. I don't believe for a nanosecond that this woman cares about her underlings. This is a woman who was “livid" and "outraged" when she found one of her contractors squatting in her multimillion dollar Hollywood mansion during another super-extravagant renovation. We know what this is really about. She doesn't care if they lose their homes, she just doesn't want them showing up at hers with pup tents.

GOOD: Horrid reality shows arriving en masse. Normally, I would file this under "BAD" but in this case, it could mean that Nicola’s reality show creation of a few years ago could finally see the light of day.

Temptation Ireland. Instead of tanorexics cavorting in hot tubs in the tropics, the show would feature pasty drunkards stumbling out of pubs and tending to live stock. Nic, screw nutrition and science, this is your moment in the sun (don’t forget the SPF 50 lest you freckle and buuurn)

06 November 2007

Not the Iranian President

(Throw the infidels under the school bus)

Paulie is not dictating an uprising among impressionable three year olds at his preschool. He simply asked if he could stand up on the circle rug and sing "We are the Dinosaurs...Whaddaya Think of That," (If you have kids between 1-5, this song probably invades your personal space on a daily basis; it's tougher to expel from your mind than 1-800-54-Giant.) Apparently, he took the song very seriously, pointing (whaddaya think of that!) kicking, stopping to take a rest and then "roaring" through the finale. His teachers took some pictures because they almost couldn't believe that this was soft spoken Paulie. They credit his performance to his being in a different classroom and out of Caroline's shadow this year. She used to follow him around, mother-henning him to the point where she'd follow him into the toilet to make sure he washed his hands. But now, he's come into his own, and is in fact following in her footsteps with regard to performing. After playing one of six Dorothys in the preschool production of the Wizard of Oz last year, Caroline staged many a spontaneous production among unwitting spectators in the months following. She recuited participants, gave excrutiatingly detailed stage direction and got royally pissed off when anyone screwed up the lyrics and accompanying sign language to "Somewhere over the Rainbow." Anyone who was in the bleachers during one of the interminable rehearsals at Renegades games can attest to this. Still, maybe one day they'll be a brother-sister team like Maggie and Jake or Justin and Justine, just dear God not like Michael and LaToya (regardless of the fact they have 'Kathryn Jackson' as a mama).

Bonus video "Roar Roar Cheese":
Ready for his close-up, Paulie nails the role of T-Rex, but after noticing the cameras, remembers to be gracious to his fans and say "cheese."

04 November 2007

An Evening with the Waterboys (somewhere near Best Buy)

While we still get out and see our share of shows, LPD and I realized there have been a number of subtle changes to the experience over the years. For instance, more often than not, the shows we get tickets for tend to be billed as "An Evening with [insert band name here]," as if we were taking in a PBS figure skating exhibition. Case in point: We headed out to "An Evening with the Waterboys" at the Berklee Performance Center to rock out to the Celtic anthems of our youth.

On the drive into town, we noted another subtle change, this time in the way the city's skyline looks from the south. As we exited 93, we marveled at how the Belvedere building resembles a massive Stormtrooper's head eclipsing the Pru tower. Captivated by this sight, we nearly rearended a Lexus on the off-ramp.

The show may be billed differently these days but preshow is just as important as it's always been. Heading up Mass Ave, we exchanged ETA calls with the rest of the concert crew. Jen & Matt were already at Match, our preshow destination, ordering up some miniburgers (that tasted like hotdogs.) LPD and I were looking for a parking space when we got the call from Mike, et al who’d just entered the city limits.

“Where are you guys?”
“We’re just passing Best Buy on Newbury St.”
“What? Best Buy! Where is that?”
“It’s the old Tower Records.”

"The Virgin Megastore.”
“That’s a
Best Buy, now? Jesus.”

Indeed there was something unsettling about this behemoth of a Best Buy on the corner of Newbury and Mass Ave., kind of like a Walmart on the Boston Common. Which is why we took a photo of it; we were not sure it would actually show up on film. Not so subtle changes on this city block. Less than a year ago, we'd meet at “Blue Cat” by the Virgin Megastore. Now it's “Match” by the Best Buy. This is exactly why we insist on referring to places and landmarks by their most familiar incarnations, like Harborlights and Great Woods. Tower Records, etc.

One thing that has not changed: Some people turn into self-absorbed jerks when it comes to securing a parking spot. LPD and I swung down the Newbury extension where we ran into a sidestreet traffic jam caused by some idiot who was parked in the middle of the road, on his cellphone, waiting to get into the Harvard Club’s parking garage. He just sat there blocking the street as eight, nine, ten cars backed up, all the while ignoring the chorus of horns and hand gestures rising behind him. We sat there for eight full minutes, all too aware the only thing separating us from our pre-show cocktails was this ignorant butthead. Thunderclouds appeared over LPD’s head in the passenger seat. She jumped out of the car with tiny fists of fury and marched up to the driver, pointing out the traffic jam born of his own rudeness. Still on the phone, the driver swung in an inch or so to let the caravan of cars edge past him. Everyone booed as we passed by (including a Condi Rice look-a-like with steam coming out of her ears behind the wheel of a Suburban). LPD shook her fist out the window, “You IDIOT!”

(Don't mess with Mama)

We rounded the corner onto Comm Ave and the clouds lifted. A light from above, a divine streetlight, glowed down upon a metered parking spot right by the Elliot Hotel. The gift of time, returned to us.

At last, we joined everyone at Match, Burgers & Martinis, where this group of seasoned concert veterans couldn't find out if there was an opening band or not. It suddenly dawned on us all at once that “An Evening with the Waterboys” was likely just that. We quickly settled up, bolted over to Berklee and slid into our seats, 30 minutes tardy.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Mike Scott appeared to be dedicating songs to the Burmese government.

“OH. This is not good.”

Nothing brings down a show faster than the details of the military junta offensive against civilians in Eastern Burma.

Wait, isn't it Myanmar? I thought it was Myanmar.
Does it matter?

Important world issues should be discussed in a proper forum; we just didn't think that forum should necessarily be here on this "Evening with the Waterboys" where people have come to distract themselves from the world's horrors. Luckily Mike Scott, a natural storyteller, lightened up and carried the show higher and higher with each song and anecdote, far, far away from Myanmar and back to Mass Ave. A headbanging fiddler and a keyboardist who resembled Ozzy Osbourne backed him up with much fervor. It was so evident that these guys love what they do, they love the music and to perform and their energy was infectious. They even did some straight-up dance numbers, busting into irish jigs during “When will we be Married” and “Raggle Taggle Gypsy." Scott also performed a spastic jazzercise beneath some strobe lights during one lyric-free jam. You know you’ve seen a good show when you don’t recognize half the songs but you’re blown away by all of it and can’t wait to go home and download the new tunes immediately. (New downloads: “Love will Shoot you Down” “She Tried to Hold me” and "Sustain” -- all very good but so much better live.) Of course, the old favorites, sublime: “Whole of the Moon,” “Killing my Heart,” “The Pan Within.” They ripped through two encores, including “Fishermen’s Blues” and a swing-out cover of Johnny Mercer’s “Accentuate the Positive.” You could tell the band didn’t want to leave the stage, and the crowd didn’t want them to either.

Alas, the houselights inevitably came up and we spilled out onto the sidewalk, giddy in our exceeded expectations, recapping among the throngs. Rare is the show these days that can turn a bunch of jaded old fools into born again rookies. This one did just that.

LPD and I even got the water giggles on our (very silly) ride home. Absolutely giddy over our "Evening with the Waterboys," we headed back to the burbs, blaring Kanye West:

“LPD, you can be my Black Kate Moss tonight.”

Good times, all!