Friday, October 17, 2003

Bring Me the Head of Grady Little!...

This is why I hate baseball. Obviously there are no baseball Gods, or if they are, they are sick, twisted, cruel little creatures with black hearts who thrive on crushed hopes and forsaken dreams...

I'm looking at my little notebook. Seven outs to go, Two men on, 4-2. Little Evil Karim Garcia is the tying run. Soriano is at the plate. Ball. Foul. Strike. Foul. Ball. 2-2 count. Pedro strikes him out, for the fourth time that evening.

I went upstairs, told Wifeypooh Pedro has just masterly saved his bacon and got out of the seventh, and we were going into the eighth ahead 4 to 2, but Pedro was definitely done for the night.

Eighth inning.

Manny bats, out. (By the way, what the heck's with all that scmooze on some of the Red Sox batting helmets? Looks like dog crap.)

David Ortiz, Pappy. Homerun. 5-2. Little note in the margin: "wine".

Bottom of the eighth.

Six outs from the World Series. Six outs. Five batters later we're five outs from the World Series, except it may not be us, because it's tied 5-5 after Grady "Forrest Gump" Little lets Pedro stay in after bringing not one, not two, not three, but four batters to two strikes before giving up hits. At this point Pedro has thrown approximately 9,000 pitches and his right arm is seven inches longer than his left.

"Aw Crap" is scrawled along the bottom of the notebook.

Six freakin outs.

I knew it was over at that point. Oh, sure, my heart leapt a little when Ortiz hit that nice double, but I knew as soon as Kapler was sent in to pinch run we were done for. Not that Kapler can't run, but that putting in a pinch runner who can score from second is a smart managerial move -- which assured that Kapler would never make it home; as nothing Grady Little ever does looks like a smart managerial move.

Jeez. At this point I'm ready to bring back the Gerbil.

Listened to Grady Gump's post game interview. Two questions. Both basically the same. To paraphrase: what the Hell were you thinking?

Of course, had Grady sat Pedro after the seventh and someone from the bullpen came out and lit themselves afire, as had been the case for huge chunks of this season, then Little would share John McNamara's fate, who seventeen years later is still answering the question "Why didn't Roger go out to pitch the eighth?"

Well, for new Red Sox fans this was certainly instructive. I don't know why I fell for it this year; I feel like a fatter, hairier, version of Charlie Brown as the BoSox yet again play Lucy with the football.

Oh, this was supposed to be different. This was so different. Looking at the notebook now: "9:25 PM EDT - Clemens' career ends as he's pulled in the fourth. Score: 4-0."

Now he gets another ring, and we get... what exactly?

Well, the media will be happy at least, they, like the Baseball Gods, feed on misery and despair. Chow time, fellas.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Just to be on the record before tonight

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "the Red Sox are going to win the Pennant."

Tonight's the big night. Seventh Game. One Hundred Years after the first Boston World Series win (held on what is now the Alma Mater, no less), and it's Red Sox / Yankees for all the beans.

The Yankees; winners of 101 regular season games, four World Series' since 1996, with the biggest payroll in baseball (okay, I'm making that up -- I don't have time to look up the actual numbers) versus

The Boston Red Sox; perennial "wait til next year" victims of improbable and sometimes sensational August / September / and October train-wrecks, the underdogs, the lovable mutts with their shaved heads and Johnny Damon's Mullet.

I'm a big time beliver in a heavenly bureaucracy: there's God, and then there's all these minions that handle things like, well, like nipples on men. Things that are really out of the whole life/death/cosmos area that's the purview of the big guy.

So, this "heavenly bureaucracy" (see, as a bureaucrat myself I like to imagine bureaucracies are necessary parts of everything) finds the time to get involved in other stuff. For instance, as Gregg Easterbrooks from ESPNs Page 2 points out, there are the Football Gods. My belief in the football gods got a big boost when the Pats beat the Rams. Look at that story: it's the 9-11 year, a team named "Patriots" wins, only after their longtime QB is lost for a huge chunk of the regular season, but comes back to save thier bacon in the AFC championship game, etc etc. It had destiny writen all over it.

Can't you feel that same thing happening with this Red Sox Team? C'mon, only the baseball gods could write an ending of the Roger Clemens / Red Sox saga like this. Either his last game is a loss to his former team, putting them in the World Series for the first time in 17 years, or he again stabs out the heart of New England and ends his career in the World Series, pitching for the mercenary Yankees. After which, he descends directly into Hell for his assorted misdeeds.

I prefer not to think that the Baseball Gods could be so capricious; I have faith in bureaucrats - the want the happy ending. And tonight's happy ending has the Traitor Clemens getting the L.

If the Red Sox win, then Basball can be saved -- baseball has meaning, for the Gods of Baseball offer salvation and mercy. If the evil minions of Lord Steinbrenner again take the prize, then there are no Baseball Gods, and the sport is a hopeless parade of random violence and soul-crushing despair.

In this battle for the heart and soul of Baseball Nation I am reminded of this exchange between Connor MacLeod and Ramirez from Highlander (the coolest movie of all time).

He cares about nothing or no-one.
He is completely evil.
If he wins the Prize, mortal men will suffer an eternity of darkness and slavery beneath his boot.

How do you fight such a savage?

With heart, faith and steel.
[In the end, there can be only one…]

Yes, there can be only one. And tonight, that one will be the Boston Red Sox.

Saturday, October 4, 2003

Hitman Needed, Include References and Salary Requirements

"It's just that wasting old ladies isn't nice." - Otto West, A Fish Called Wanda

One of my many bosses at work is planning a nice little mid-fall trip, one of her many, many vacation forays, to a tropical island in the western Antillies. Problem is, her elderly aunt is at Death's door. Well, perhaps walking up Death's front walk, or maybe just admiring Death's farmers porch. She is certainly loitering somewhere in Death's front yard like a meter reader searching for the watermeter, and, wouldn't you know it, Death hasn't trimmed his hedges in ages.

If Auntie were to shuffle off this mortal coil, then, in proper Irish-American fashion, Little Mary Wimpypooh would have to fly home from her tropical vacation and do the whole waking/mourning/drinking/arguing/burying/drinking/arguing thing. Now, if Auntie were to have the common decency to pass three or four days before the flight is scheduled, then Mary could do the proper Irish mourning, and wing off to climes tropical.

But the problem is, Auntie is rallying. Or maybe not. Allegedly in a coma two or three days ago, she was downright perky last night. But there's still enough time until departure for a couple more go-arounds; rallying and failing, rallying and failing. And it's not like we're talking about some middle-aged person for whom their passing would be for their family a tragedy beyond all understanding; this is an ooooold lady who's about to get her reward for a lifetime of 9:00 weekday masses and at least three Mary's on the Halfshell (seriously, there oughta be a law...).

So, in the interest of helping out Little Mary Wimpypooh, I am seeking the services of a gentleman with certain, shall we say, talents. Now, we've taken up a collection here at work, and we've gotten it up to about $8.37, but, really, it's not like I'm asking you to take out the Pope, for goodness sakes. One well-placed trip over a cord could probably do the job. Think of the good you'd be doing; Mary would get to go on her annual pilgrimage to tropical climes where pliant non-english speaking cabana boys await to fufil her every desire (hey -- get that mind out of the gutter, I'm talking about drink orders!! -wink wink-), Auntie would meet her maker and finally learn the truth about what happened on the Grassy Knoll, and, for you, Mr. Professional Assassian of Old Ladies, there may be some work in it for you later -- Motherdear ain't getting any younger. Or, for that matter, is Wifeypooh....

Friday, October 3, 2003

There but for the grace of God....

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - An enraged Ethiopian mother of five will be tried for the murder of her husband who died after she crushed his testicles in a fight, police told the state-run Ethiopian News Agency.

Police said on Friday the man was so embarrassed after the incident that he declined to seek treatment for the injury, and died days later.

"Following a disagreement over the husband's spending habits, his wife refused to give him his dinner and also decided to sleep alone," police in the western region of Wellega said.

"The husband was so angered by this affront by his wife that he tried to beat her. In the melee that followed, the wife grabbed and twisted his testicles causing serious damage."

Police said the unnamed woman, a resident of Wayu-Tuka district in Wellega, had had several arguments with her husband about the amount of money he spent on booze.

So, Men, be grateful she's only throwing plates at you for spending the last $20 on that football pool at work. It could be worse. Much, much, worse.

And Next Week, an Interpretive Dance Praising Stalin's Agricultural Policy...

Dear Old Alma Mater is hosting a "multimedia tribute to the Black Panther party," titled “The Black Panther Suite: All Power to the People” composed by "cutting edge Asian-American artist" Fred Ho. Well, Fred's pieces are always interesting, for instance, "The White Peril" which, as the Village Voice says:

" burned with a seething inner flame, its passion so restrained and compressed that it shot out of his sax bell in pithy phrases of irresistibly cogent logic ... Rage eloquently channeled is always a thrill."--Kyle Gann, The Village Voice

Oooh, more seething inner flame, please! What manner of eloquently channeled rage are we in store for at Dear Old Alma Mater. Apparently audience members in the first couple of rows should wear fire-resistant ponchos, as Ho is some sort of pyromanical Gallagher, what with his seething inner flame shooting out of his sax bell.

According to the advertisement, "Power to the People" is an

"interactive video and martial arts choreography that addresses the civil rights struggle of the 1960s and 70s, and explores its relevance for modern America."

Hmm. Here's Black Panther relevance for modern America: when someone stabs someone in the head with a kitchen knife, as Huey Newton did at a party years before founding the Black Panthers, don't let them out of jail.

When a petty thief, the self-same Mr. Newton, who used to lurk outside emergency rooms and steal from the cars of people rushing in for medical attention, forms a group posing as Social activists, watch out.

When a person kills a 23 year old police officer, and wounds another, in a traffic stop shootout, don't screw up the trial and let them get off on "reversible error."

Penultimately, when an organization murders their bookkeeper when she discovers they've been embezzling from anti-poverty programs, don't write "multimedia tributes" to them.

And, finally, when you are a major urban university and host this multimedia tribute, don't hold your breath during pledge time.

Monday, September 22, 2003

The Lesson

Lileks turned me on to this one, but didn't link. James, James! Specificity is the soul of credibility!

Anyway, read this story about those fine examples of humanity, the folks who guard the tomb of the unknowns in Arlington National cemetery. They were offered the chance to bug out when Isabel was barreling down on Virginia.

Thanks, but no thanks, was their reply.

In essence, these guys were willing to sacrifice their lives to guard some dust brought back from overseas. I'm not going to make a point about how great this country is because these men were willing to stand guard at the tomb. Because if you read the story, and the quote from the ringleader of the decision to stay behind, it had nothing at all to do with this country. It had everything to do with the anonymous soldiers buried under the granite.

"Did they volunteer? Did they get drafted? How did they die? They did their job and this country paid them back by not remembering who they were ...."

The humanity in this statement is overwhelming. I feel honored to be guarded by men and women who believe as such. At the end of this war, when the forces of civilization have triumphed, it will have been not because of the strength of our armies, or the superiority of our technology, but because of the human heart that beats within each and every American, British, Polish, and, yes, French and German man and woman. It is because of the clearly apparent superiority of a culture that places value in an individual, and regards each human life as sacred.

We may not win this war for a long, long time. There will be more events that will shock and depress us. We have much work to do on the homefront as well; taking on a "Fifth Column" within that forgets the ascendancy of our nations is because of our trust and respect in the individual. Those that forget; they that revel in power, control, and disrespect for inconvenient life (the unborn, the aged, the powerless), those that forget must be reminded. Gently, and with love. One gesture at a time. One lesson at a time. Lessons given by the most unlikely of teachers, like a member of the Old Guard who refuses to leave his post: not because the charnal remains he protects are those of American soldiers -- but because they are those of another human being.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Performance enhancing drugs in football...

See this story, I'll wait while you go and read it:

Patriots ink Levitra marketing deal.


Okay, baseball is one thing. Rafael Palmeiro can go and talk about Viagra and he'll get razzed, but it doesn't hurt his team. There's something vaguely not quite right with Baseball anyway, as baseball has references to players with "three balls" and bats are called "wood". Maybe baseball is appropriate for groinal issues.

But please, "The New England Patriots football performance brought to you by Levitra: when you're flogging a wet noodle, think Levitra and the New England Patriots!"

"Brady sets up to pass, the rush is on, he scrambles, evades the sack!, And remember, when you're penile dysfunction problems cause you to evade the sack, think Levitra and the New England Patriots!"

"The snap, the ball is down, Vinateri kicks, Patriots score!!! Which is more than you're doing if you don't take Levitra, the Official Erectile Aid of the New England Patriots."

Actually, this works on many levels. Perhaps they could bring back Zeke Mowatt as a celebrity endorser. Maybe even Lisa Olsen.

Well, that's it. Say goodnight, Gracie. The 2003 New England Patriots football season is officially over.

(Note, this was written before today's dismantling of the Philadelphia Eagles. All is forgiven. Go and support your team, go out and buy some Levitra today.)

Friday, September 5, 2003

It's All... Stupid

Ok, there's a new show on ABC this fall, It's All Relative, that they've been promoting up the wazoo (so it must suck like an electrolux), which is billed as a sort of La Cage Aux Folles taken to the "what next" stage.

Lenny Clarke plays a Boston Irish Catholic whose son is engaged to a Harvard Medical student. Lenny's son is a bartender, and his fiancee has two gay dads.

Comic goodness ensues.

The ads run last night feature delightful light hearted name calling, featuring such lovey words as sissy-boy, pansy, etc etc.

It's being billed as sort of an Archie Bunker for the new millenia. Three episodes. I hope this thing keels in three episodes. How do I hate this? Let me count the ways....

1) Stereotype-o-rama. You want to offend? This baby's got it all!!! Gay men are well-coiffed, wordly, sophisticated and bitchy. Boston Irish Catholics are knuckle-dragging troglodytes who would call their prospective inlaws derogatory names (to their faces, and before the wedding, all true Boston Irish Catholics know to wait until at least the reception). Harvard students?: Modern and progressive. Working class joes?: Backward and offensive.

2) Fact idiocy. If you're going to offend people, do it with some intelligence. On last night's promos, as Lenny Clarke was bringing the nationwide view of Boston Irish Catholics (they hammered that point endlessly: he's not just from Boston... He's Irish! He's Catholic! My goodness, he probably is a repressed altar boy abuser himself!!!!) down a peg or eight, the two sophisticated gay gentlemen spewed their own invective: "Irish Catholic" "caveman" "Republican".


Just as now nation divided may long endure, and as a house built on sand will fall into the sea, no television show with writers for an abject disdain for truth will long entertain an audience. The strength of situational comedy lay in believable absurdity. Take a memory, event, or truth, particularly something painful or hurtful, push it two degrees past truth and caricature to create a safe distance, and you have humor. But you've got to base these things in truth, so that people will see it, recognize it, and appreciate it's difference from reality.

This is where "It's all relative" drives off the cliff. There is no such thing as a Boston Irish Catholic Republican. There may be a Loch Ness Monster, there may be a Big Foot, and there may be a pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow, but there ain't no such thing as a Boston Irish Republican.

(We gots plenty o' Boston Irish Republican Army sympathizers around here, but that ain't the same thing).

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

requiescat in pace, Cherry (A work in progress)

Bought a new car last night. Well, okay, not a new car, which would be completely out of character, but a newer car. The newbie, a 2001 Saturn SL1 (the link goes to a picture of a car the same year and color, not my actual car), will replace Cherry, who has 144,000 rode hard and put away wet miles.

The new entry to the Kalezac Kar Stable got me to thinking about those who had gone before, so I thought I'd try to lay electrons to monitor screen in reverential reminiscence of them that had gone before.

1. 1974 VW Karmann Ghia. Ah, the first car. Is there anything better than a first car? Bought sometime in 1987. With Dad's money. Of course. Car actually ran on the road only a couple of times, as I was still with driver's permit, and Motherdear and Stepdad Version 1.0 were somewhat deaf to its charms.

As an air-cooled Volkswagen, heating was an option only available during the summer months. In addition, Karmann had a big hole in the dash where a radio had once been, which let in lots of nice, fresh, brrrrisk air. Had a nasty habit of in transit windshield icing, but that was okay, as it usually happened on the inside of the windshield, and could thusly be scrapped off without having to stop the car. By the time I got her, Karmann had been extensively “modified”, including the replacement of standard VW seats with low-slung Chevelle sport buckets, making it damn near impossible to see out of the kraut-burner.

I got a lot of practice sculpting bondo and finishing with ferrous oxide, and single handedly kept the local car parts store sold out of WD-40 during the year and a half I “worked on” her – which consisted mainly of taking parts off and stowing them in the garage (many of the unidentified automobile guts still in Motherdear’s cavernous barn-slash-garage are remnants of Karman).

Karmann became carro non grata when I took Motherdear out for a drive and the failing vacuum advance failed to advance. Right in front of a big truck. She was not amused. Orders came from on high that Karmann was not sufficiently safe to be a daily vehicle for a freshly minted driver, and I was instructed to find alternative transportation. Karmann lingered in the yard, a visible manifestation of the festering rebellion of my teenage years, and witnessed the passage of many of the following vehicles, finally being sold to some enterprising middle-aged gentleman (perhaps his buttinski mother had just passed on) for $25 about the same time as the decommissioning of the SS Impala.

2. 1979 Plymouth Volare , (My car, a 1979 with a two-tone tan and brown color scheme, mag wheels, and louvers on the rear 35rd quarter windows was even more guido'ed up than this picture). After the deposing of Karmann, Motherdear filled the temporary wheels gap by arranging for a friend of Stepdad V 1.0 to part with his 1979 (?) Volare for the measly sum of $475. Now, back in 1988, when Kal’s nights were spent busing tables and breaking in on poor little oysters and clams just so some pseudo-yuppie could eat them, $475 was big money.

Fortunately, the $1100 I got for the Volare three months later was bigger money. Motherdear was not amused, as I assume the $475 was a somewhat discounted “family and friends” rate, and her ungrateful issue was taking advantage. But, c’mon. $1100 for a Volare?!? Who could resist?

This gap in wheels necessitated a quick replacement, as the slowly disintegrating Karmann was still not an option. The unexpected windfall provided the opportunity to move up a bit in the automotive genome, and perhaps buy something with a little class.

Naturally, squandered that opportunity:

3. 1981 Mustang Hatchback. First foray in Ford. Should've learned my lesson then. Much unhappiness and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments would've been avoided. Much sorrow that was mine could've been others. And, actually, that's what happened.

Bought the pig sometime in my junior year. Brown interior, brown exterior. In-line six (although not the fabled in-line six of the Volare which, as Motherdear proclaimed, would run until the cows come home. Well, Motherdear, of course the engine keeps running. It's trying to distance itself from the ugly guidofied body it's stuck in...). Automatic transmission.

Yes. Automatic. Automatic, in-line six. Varoom, indeed.

It was a serviceable ride for a junior in high school, but parking lot braggadocio had to be backed up, and a fervent quest began the August before Senior year to find more chick friendly wheels for the final year of high school.

Unfortunately, this quest ran somewhat awry and produced a vehicle, while still the favorite all-time best Kal vehicle to ever be driven solo (aka, without learner's permit), was, probably, just maybe, possibly, a chick car.

4. 1982 Mazda RX-7. Ah, the second "one that got away". Like Karmann, the Rex was a high school parking lot head turner. And she was fast. In Massachusetts at the time it was the law that if you got three speeding tickets in a twelve month period you'd lose your license for some period of time; maybe six months, can't quite remember. Anyway, I went eleven months with two tickets (got two tickets in the space of a month). To this day I maintain that part of my problem was that I had just started dating Wifeypooh, whose Dad was the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen (think Mayor, and also serves as Police Commissioner) of Pleasantville.

Anyway, ran her into a state trooper. A big state trooper. Not good times. Totaled car. Ruined insurance rating for ten years. Paid hundreds in fines.

5. 1980 Triumph Spitfire. Actually my dad's car. Borrowed her for a time after I crashed the Seven. Broke it and gave it back to Dad. Borrowed it again after I got married and needed a second car. Broke it again. Hasn't been on the road since. Haven’t spoken to Dad in three years. Brotherdear reports in the one conversation he has had with Dad in the interim discussion of Kal's destruction of the Spitfire is prominently featured. Like the stabbing of Frodo by the Fell Riders, Kal's destruction of the Spitfire is a wound to be carried the rest of his father’s days…

6. 1982 or 3 Pontiac 1000. Mine was turd brown, had four doors, and interior plastic that was crumbling like chalk. Cost over $1000 in brake work. What a pig.

7. 1983 Mazda RX-7. First sunroof. First lesson that all sunroofs, no matter how caulked or otherwise "fixed", lead like sieves. I had kept the destroyed Rex, as her motor was still good and I was hoping I could find another Seven with a bustermarated engine and swap them. Success! Dad and I switched the motors over and Rex II lived for a couple of years before finally succumbing to my insatiable appetite for new wheels (well, and to be fair, she had exhaust problems which would've cost thousands and thousands of dollars that I didn't have.)

8. 1971 Chevy Impala 2-door. The SS Impala. Not an Impala SS, which would have been cool. No, this was the SS Impala because driving it was a little like driving the Queen Mary. You didn't so much steer this car, as you aimed it. Gas gauge never quite worked, and she got about four gallons to the mile, so driving it was like a form of automotive roulette.Only ran out of gas once though, which was lucky because the thing weighed about four tons and was a bitch to push.

9. 1986 Subaru XT. Take a look at those pictures, especially the interior. That car was like a spaceship!

10. 1992 Ford Probe. Was my brother's car, my wife drove it until someone ran into her and totaled it.

11. 1986 Nissan Stanza Wagon

12. 1989 Ford Probe. Was my mom's car. First year of Probes. Gave me a good year after many years of slumber at Mom's house. Unfortunately suffered massive multi-system failure requiring thousands and thousands in repair work. Final act of fealty to the family: served as a trade for our first Brandy-new car ever, a 2003 Pontiac Vibe!

13. 1994 Eagle Summit. I got the Summit when we bought the Vibe. That was in March. By July the Summit was in need of $1500 in exhaust and engine work, and sporting 144,000 miles.

14. Earl the Saturn.

Looking back, I believe my continuing bad luck with vehicles stems not from my own complete disregard for the principles of vehicle maintenance and my Mario Andretti on Crystal Meth driving method, and is actually the continuing effects of a curse; a curse first uttered by a dejected 1974 VW Karmann Ghia – her autumnal years relegated to yard planter status and forced to watch her erstwhile owner – nay, her former lover, under the sway of a progression of hulks of iron, plastic, and rubber.

Hopefully Earl will end the insanity and provide some degree of long-term transportation. All these cars hold a special place in my heart (okay, maybe except for the Pontiac 1000. PIG!!!), but it's time I grow up and get some reliable transportation.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Korea, Iran, Bulger, Oh My...

Goddam it.

For some godforsaken reason, my browser decided to jump to another page, destroying at least a half an hour of midnight ramblings about the state of the world. With links galore, no less. Well, screw it. I'm tired. I'm grumpy. The world's going to hell in a handbasket. Film at 11.

Okay, quickly: because you don't need to a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, you just need a browser, a passel of links, and a curious mind.

Maybe because we live in such an instant age we're knowing more than we ever did, but, Christ, this little green gem of rock, water, and various carbon-based life certainly seems poised for one big clusterf*ck, don't it? Or, actually, a bunch of medium sized ones.

North Korea, the socialist workers paradise, is in the midst of an eight-year famine. Couple of delightful consequences: according to a UNICEF study in 1998, North Koreans seven year olds are, on average, eight inches shorter than their South Korean peers. And a new delicacy is popping up more often in North Korean markets: special meat. Here's another story about it. Motherdear is probably gloating right now, as she's a vegetarian. But, hey, who knows, maybe these industrious Koreans are on to something. "People, the other white meat". Too bad Robert Mitchem's still dead, I can almost hear him doing the commercial voice over.

PJ O'Rourke once wrote "Man developed in Africa. He has not continued to do so there." Horrible stories of cannibalism are coming out of the Congolese Civil War. The Guardian had this story in January about pygmies being eaten by rebel troops. Other news outlets have these atrocities being practiced by both sides. The UN has ridden in to save the day, sending unarmed observers who don't speak the language. And then letting them get slaughtered. Of yeah, Kofi and his Anamaniacs really would've had Saddam on his knees with just a few more months.

In happier news, it looks like something is getting ready to happen in Iran. Iran has a huge cohort of twenty-somethings. They are a product of a repopulation program undertaken during the devastating Iran-Iraq war. These kids have no love lost for the Mullahs, and are starting to get pissed off at being told what to do. Their college professors are getting in on the act and protests are popping up across the country. Now, as a particularly snarky friend of mine said to me today (unless it was on Instapundit, if so, sorry to Blog Master Glen), "so, you're saying it's like USA, circa 1968?". Well, except, wasted youth and hippified college professors during the summer of love and the Cambodian Moratorium had middle class lives and concerns to get back to. These kids in Iran got nothing. And when you ain't got nothing, you've got nothing to lose. It will take some time, these are secular kids missing the "will of God" fire that toppled the Shah in '79, but it'll happen. That'll be tic-tac-toe, three in a row: Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.

Some predictions (all guaranteed to be wrong, but if they aren't: remember you heard it here first).

1. North Korea will implode within a year. If the drought/flood cycle persists, and Kim who-ever continues his Dr. No ways, he'll have his head on the end of a pike (supplied by the North Korean army) by next June. One Caveat: the army is the only thing Kim is paying any attention to, and to whom he is diverting what little food he has. Maybe they're too loyal. But, man, it looks like that breaking point is close, doesn't it?

2. UMASS President William Bulger will disclose in testimony to the House Government Reform Committee tomorrow that his brother James "Whitey" Bulger actually passed away of natural causes a couple of years ago, and is buried in Ireland, or maybe even Southie. Just a funny feeling. Completely unfounded. I just think that this saga demands some sort of poetic ending like that - that's the denoumount of the "Lawmakers and Lawbreakers, The James and William Bulger Story" telefilm, brought to you by AC Delco, on the SuperStation: President Bulger emotionally tells the House Committee about his brother's secret funeral in a small cemetery in Killarny on a misting April morning. The final scene, naturally, features an umbrellaed drink being brought on a tray to a man lounging in a chaise facing a setting sun on some Carribean Island. "Your drink, Mr. Baxter..."

3. The Red Sox will win the pennant.

4. And monkeys will fly out of my butt......


Friday, May 23, 2003

A Perfect Morning in an Imperfect Time

Did you ever think that you would be looking back so fondly to the Halcyon days of 1989?

I think I graduated from high school at the most perfect of times. Our senior year, 88-89, saw "The End of History" as the cold war ended, the commies turned into nice guys, and the Wall fell. We were in college for the 90-92 recession, so the bad job market didn't really hit us, we left college with the New Economy in full swing and either got established in "old economy" jobs with enough time to burrow deeply enough to avoid layoffs when the bubble burst, or made truckloads of dough in the new economy that gave us the abliity to ride out the 99-03 recession (the economy's waking again, feel it?). We're old enough so that Osama and the end of the world scares us just enough to take it seriously, but we're not young enough to actually believe this is the End of the World (I assume that people my age in 1982-83 were just as frightened of Reagan/"evil empire" as folks are these days of Bush/"american empire").

We really are a lucky few. I look around to those younger than I, who were broomed out of their first jobs without so much as a "fare thee well", who are looking at the world situation and seeing nothing but terrorism, war, and cruelty until the end of time, and I truly feel sorry for them.

Actually, it's the computer science and business majors I feel sorry for. The history / poli sci / and even english majors understand this as just another variation on that favorite disc of time's jukebox: "Man's inhumanity to man". (ooo boy, get a load of that! I crack myself up sometimes.).

So, as for my part, things are going fairly well. Job is motoring along; hopefully they'll keep me until I don't wanna be kept anymore. Wife's good. Kids good. New cat is a laugh-riot -- if not a bit annoying at 5:15am when he's reminding me it's time to get up and chase the sun. And I actually like this weather. I think perhaps it's the Scottish in me -- but this morning, walking to work with the old Jethro Tull on the MP3: "Grey the mist cold the dawn; cruel the sea and stern the shore. Brave the man who sets his course for Albion", I could imagine my Scottish ancestors keeping watch in the towers of Castle Moil, waiting to raise the chain that ran from Skye to the mainland to collect the toll on the ships sailing southerly down the coast.

Just a perfect morning of a perfect life in the perfect time. At any rate, beats the shit out of the alternative.

Fun with chemistry

An interesting piece in the NYTimes about those mobile labs.

While we have not been able to definitively determine whether they had actually ever been used to produce chemicals (the mobile labs had been decontaminated with an "unknown caustic agent" prior to their discovery by the Americans), I think the tiniest bit of Socratic reasoning allows us conclude:

1) Hussein used chemical weapons (against the Kurds, during the Iran-Iraq war).

2) These labs have very little utility beside the production of biological agents. (One of the competing theories is that they are used to make hydrogen for weather balloons, and of course, the usual pesticide dodge. Apparently, Iraq has more "pesticide" plants per person than any other nation on the planet.)

3) The U.S. has transcripts of Iraqi military officials that seem to point toward a concerted effort to hide the existence of chemical weapons: "We evacuated everything. We don't have anything left." On the second, one Republican Guard commander told another, "Write this down: Remove the expression 'nerve agent' whenever it comes up in wireless instructions."

4) why would someone clean to the point of microbacterial decontamination equipment for producing hydrogen for weather balloons?

To sum: he had 'em, he used 'em, he had to make 'em, these labs don't look like they could've made anything else, ergo: these mobile labs are the chemical weapon smoking gun.

So why did it take so long to find anything, when apparently, according to Colin Powell, Iraq was so cluttered from chemical and biological weapons that Hussein had to bring in "Merry Maids" every Thursday to tidy up? Slate notes that General Tommy Franks admits that US Special Forces bribed a number of Iraqi military officials to sit on their hands during the conflict. He has defended this as essentially a cost-benefit decision: one Tomahawk costs $1 million, we can demobilize an entire unit with one $1 million bribe. Looks like a good deal.

A natural conspiracy theory that could run off of that news is that, perhaps, some of our bought and paid for Iraqi generals know a little more than they're saying about the location of chemical goodies, and, just maybe, the US govt., figuring that they'd be able to find good evidence elsewhere, have "excused" them from divulging everything they know. The reasoning being that there is no way the US Govt could "harbor" military folks they know had possession of / had been ordered to use chemical weapons, buuut, if we never asked, then bribing these guys and bringing them over is okay. Sort of a don't ask, don't tell, chemical weapons version.

Your theory?

Thursday, May 15, 2003


The Independent, a British newspaper, has online [pardon me while I dangle my participle] a story about a new study with the troubling news that the planet's languages are being lost at an alarming rate. Faster, indeed, than those subspecies of newts and gekkos we typically get ourselves so worked up about.

Apparently this planet has only 6,000 languages. (Actually, from experience in the Modern Historical Metropolis in which I work and play [don't tell wifey-pooh], I would say that that is about right. And 5,999 are spoken by local cabdrivers. Unfortunately, English is not one of them.) So, six point two billion people , 6,000 languages. Works out to about 104 million people per language. The US has, give or take, 290 million people, so we need about 2.9 languages. Makes sense: Spanish, Chinese, and American English, which is about .9 a real language.

[brother goodson interrupts: Hey, moron. Do the math. 6 billion (6 x 10^9) divided by 6 thousand (6 x 10^3), when dividing you subtract the exponents and get 1 x 10^6, or 1 million. (I took this right from his email, well, the math, not the "hey, moron", that was implied.) And yes, he's right. I did the math on my little calculator and figured out that I miscounted the zeroes. Fine, fine. The question is: who the hell actually does math with exponents? Sure, I may be a math imbecile, but at least I'm not a Freak. Here, here's a buck, go buy another pocket protector. Freak. We return you to the story, already in progress]

[brother goodson retort: Yeah, I'm a freak. With a Z4. And no wife. Suckaaaaaah]

Unfortunately, it doesn't work out like that, and 200 to 250 languages are the big bullies, all above one million speakers each, and 357 languages have under 50 speakers. Forty-six are known to have just one native speaker. One of these, no doubt, is wifeypoohish.

(I crack up just looking at that word. Wifeypoohish. Wifeypoohish. I'm dyin'!).

While wifeypoohish is related to English, it, much like the bushman language from "The Gods Must Be Crazy", contains several seemingly nonsensical sounds which actually carry significant linguistic importance.

Drawing another analogy from more commonly studied languages, like the Eskimo dialects which contain thirty-three words for snow, wifeypooish uses at least four hundred homonymic grunts and groans which, depending upon context, phrasing, tone, time of day, phase of the moon or butterfly migration patterns in China, can infer happiness, unhappiness, hunger, or deep homicidal intent.

And in closing: that Eskimo thing is bunkum. English has a ton of words for snow too, and, as a language that uses adjectives as appurtenant to nouns, and doesn't rely only on creating new words out of combining roots, we gots snow words up the ying-yang. Being frugal in most things, I only need one word for snow: shit.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Thoughts for a Monday Morning

Ah, it's been almost a half month. In truth, I was just trying to up the anticipation. Or, I had nothing to say. You pick.

So, some random thoughts:

The ongoing Bob Ryan controversy:
Jason Kidd, who actually smacked his wife, got a $200 fine and agreed to undergo counselling. Bob Ryan, who said he would like to smack Kidd's wife, got a one month unpaid suspension.

Sooo, Jason Kidd, who actually beat his wife, loses 200 bucks. Bob Ryan, who only says he would like to beat Jason Kidd's wife, is out, at least, 10 grand.

The lesson: in America it is cheaper to actually beat your own wife than to say you want to beat someone else's wife.

Does this send the right signal? What the heck is wrong with this country?

And please, the nattering nabobs: I am not condoning wife beating. My mother taught me never to hit a lady. She taught me to duck and run when the lady is throwing vegetables, plates, cutting boards, etc, at you.

Actually, the disparity between Ryan's punishment and Kidd's (and put aside that Ryan's punishment is by a private party with which Ryan has a consensual relationship -- that is, if he were ticked enough about this he could tell his employer to go pee up a rope and he could take his golden prose elsewhere, while Kidd's penalty is imposed by THE MAN), anyway, Ryan's rather stiff penalty vs. Kidd's slap on the wrist, just perpetuates the double standard that domestic violence prevention labors under. Threaten a person outside your personal sphere -- big time trouble. Threaten (and hit) your wife -- well, that's a different (somehow less serious) matter. This is lunacy.

What Ryan did was essentially to get up on a park bench and say he would like to smack somebody. This is somehow worse than me going out and actually smacking the next passer-by? Oh, no, I see, if the next passerby was my wife, then that's a matter for counseling. But if it was a private citizen then it's off to the hoosegow with me. See this for a discussion of the term hoosegow. I just like that word.... This double standard makes absolutely no sense at all.

Okay, back to the trivial...

And you were expecting?:
The new JD Powers survey says the Hummer owners are slightly upset at the vehicle's gas mileage.


Boy, getting 10 mpg rather than that 12 you had expected is certainly a bummer. Are these folks really that dense? This frickin' car weighs like 9,000 pounds! It has more interior room than my first apartment! A hummer with a gun rack is enough firepower to coup d'etat at least four or five central american nations!

And you pay $50,000 and are worried about gas mileage? It's like griping about the lack low number of cupholders in brother Goodson's BMW Z4.

Morons. A nation of morons. Of rich morons.

Evil triumphs, because good is stupid.

Well, Jenna picking up the $1million was fairly pukey. Talk about a hobson's choice though: vapid jenna or crazy matt. I guess I just don't understand Christy. I mean, somebody did tell her that you wrote down the person you wanted to win, right? Motherdear will be devestated, although not as much as if manboobs bob had won. She thought rob was the nexus of all evil in the universe, but isn't that the lesson we take from the six seasons of survivor? Evil is rewarded with the million bucks, good wins a car.


Drove brother Goodson's Z4 this weekend.


Mucho boosto, as our south american friends would say. Shift that baby into second and step on the gas. Woooooosh. One problem. The nose is entirely too long. How do I know this? Because I managed to hit the curb while parking in the local donut establishment. Sickening "crunch" sound. Abrupt stop. Nausea. Visions of fratricide.

Relatively unknown BWM safety feature: it is impossible to put one's head behind a tire and commit suicide by releasing the parking brake. Car is too low to the ground to accomodate normal human-sized noggin.

brother Goodson was very understanding. Am only banned from driving said Z4. Can still oogle it and wax once per month.

Okay, that's all for now.

Did the hip among us get the movie reference? As always, emails to guarateed to be completely ignored.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Red Dragon v. Manhunter

Some thoughts while trying to not obsess about the computer solitaire game the KEEPS CHEATING ME SO I CAN’T GO TO BED. (Yes, yes, we are developing a nice little obsessive compulsive tic that requires I beat solitaire before I go to bed. And I’ve got to beat the four different solitaires on my Palm Pilot in sequence to have a good day at work. I tell you, I’m about two degrees separated from needing live chicken blood and the earth from a graveyard harvested under a full moon to get dressed in the morning….)

Rented “Red Dragon” on Friday night. In a fit of typical maleishness, slept through good portions of it. Went back the next morning and watched it while wifey-pooh and the fruits of my looms were out. While I was grouting. You know, if you’re ever too scared of a movie to fully enjoy it, just watch it while you’re grouting. There’s nothing like polishing that skim coat of grout off tiles 400 times to dull the terrifying effects of a movie.

Of course, try writing a review of said scary movie at 1:30 in the morning in a house full of various and sundry sounds. Not good times.

Not that Red Dragon was particularly scary. Actually, I didn’t find it at all scary. Or in the least scary. Or the teensiest bit scary. Well, perhaps Ed Norton’s pathetic attempt at Wil Graham was scary. Yeesh. I hold no particular grudge against Ed Norton. I haven’t seen American History X, so I can’t see him as a tough guy. I did see him in that god awful film with Ben Stiller and Jenna Elfman, where he plays a nice guy priest, and I think I’ve seen him in some other films where he basically plays a nice, dull, young man.

But Wil Graham ain’t a nice young man. He’s a tortured, world-weary veteran of mayhem, death and destruction. Ed Norton as a world weary detective able to see through the eyes of a homicidal sociopath – I’d rather be forced to sit and watch Al Gore speeches, for goodness sakes.

Now, perhaps had I come to this movie as a “Red Dragon” virgin, then perhaps I could’ve bought the whole thing. But I didn’t. You see, Manhunter, the 1986 version starring William Peterson (“Hey. Ain’t that the movie with Grissom?” Says wifeypooh. Pretend not to shudder…. Pretend not to shudder…. “Ah, yes… It is…”) is perhaps one of my favorite movies of all time. And Red Dragon, for all it’s production values, for the valiant consistency with the printed material, just, well… sucks. Let’s do a tale of the tape and compare these movies side by side, Manhunter from 1986, and Red Dragon from 2002.

Wil Graham: Ed Norton (02) vs. William Peterson (86). ADVANTAGE: Manhunter.
Manhunter came along at a very impressionable time for me. And William Peterson’s portrayal of Graham, combined with his role in “To Live and Die in L.A.” and the HBO Bull Durham rip-off “Long Gone” remain the trifecta of crusty, world weary, macho dude role models. There’s a scene in both versions where Graham is talking to Freddie Lounds, feeding him the B.S. story meant to draw the Tooth Fairy into a trap. Peterson-Graham (I keep trying to write “Grissom”) comes off as contemptuous of Lounds and impatient with the whole charade. Norton-Graham practically giggles like a school-girl comparing notes with Lounds (played in 02 by Phillip Seymor Hoffman, who is very good). You do the math.

Lecter: Sir Anthony Hopkins (02) vs. Brian Cox (86) ADVANTAGE: Manhunter.
Ah, yes, you say to me. Obvious proof the boy has flipped his lid. Sir Anthony is a member of the Royal Shakespeare theater… Sir Anthony has been knighted by the Queen… Sir Anthony was in “Remains of the Day” a costume drama period piece you actually liked! All these things you say to me. I respond: true, all of the above. I say to you: Sir Anthony chewed so much scenery in this movie (and Hannibal) that I needed a sympathetic dose of Maalox. He’s become a caricature of himself. And his accent has become weird to the point of distraction. What the hell is it with that phony southern affectation he does from time to time? And he looks absolutely awful. In one of the DVD extras the director says that Hopkins put on 30 pounds for the role – was it to try and bloat up so the wrinkles wouldn’t show so prominently? This movie was supposed to take place before the other two! Sir Anthony playing Lector has become like Jack Nicholson to me, just playing the same character on autopilot. Cox WORKED to give us Lector, and it’s much more satisfying.

The Tooth-Fairy: Ralph Finnes (02) vs. Tom Noonan (86). ADVANTAGE: Manhunter.
Well, Duh. The Tooth Fairy is supposed to be a scarily deformed man who is shy and awkward with others. Tom Noonan is freaky. Uber freaky, as our good friend Shaggy would say. I mean that little scar on Finnes-Dolarhyde’s upper lip is supposed to be enough to turn him into a serial killer? Puh-leeze. And Finnes accent?! Ye Gods. Between Finnes and Anthony Hopkins it’s a murder-the-generic-american-accent fest. Plus, Ralph Finnes spends entirely too much of this movie naked. Now, I don’t need to see that. I really don’t need the scene where Finnes-Dolarhyde has his morning-after dialogue with the dragon (the dragon wants him to off Reba, Dolarhyde thinks about blowing off his own head instead). When Finnes-Dolarhyde comes bounding up the attic stairs, we are treated to…. Well, you know… Suffice it to say: Damn you Ralph Finnes, for making me feel inadequate to a cleft-palate homicidal sociopath bedwetter. Like I needed to feel any more insecure.

Crawford: Harvey Keitell (02) vs. Dennis Farina (86). ADVANTAGE: Silence of the Lambs.
Okay, okay. I like Harvey Keitell. I loved him in Reservoir Dogs, and I haven’t seen The Bad Lieutenant, so I don’t get PTSD flashbacks from seeing him on screen. Farina from Manhunter loses points for doing that god awful “The Inlaws” series last year. Sure, that’s not fair, but nobody said life was fair. Of course, both of these Crawfords are far inferior to Scott Glenn’s portrayal in Silence of the Lambs. Scott Glenn rocks. Jeez, they brought back Frankie Faison as Barney the Orderly, why did they feel the need to change Crawfords each movie? Bastards.

The obligatory girl in trouble, Reba: Emily Watson (02) vs. Joan Allen (86). ADVANTAGE: Push
Actually, thinking about this, I’m going to change my mind. Joan Allen gets the nod here, for one particular scene. The tiger scene is in both movies, the scene were Dolarhyde brings Reba to “see” a tiger. It’s during this part of the movie where Dolarhyde gives us a glimpse of his suppressed humanity and we begin to root for him, just for a moment, to be able to get himself out of his psychosis. Joan Allen really sold this scene, laying on the tiger to hear it’s heartbeat, caressing the tiger in this, perhaps not so, subtle foreshadowing of her laying with a far more dangerous creature later in the movie. Emily Watson basically pats the tiger, and listens to it with a stethoscope. Ho hum. Just another day at the office, fondling a ten foot long tiger. (Actually, the tiger in Red Dragon seemed a lot less sedated that the tiger in Manhunter. Perhaps Ms. Watson was afraid of being eaten. Perhaps Ralph Finnes had yet again taken off his clothes and was prancing around naked just off camera. Either way, she doesn’t really communicate the sensual nature of the contact, and what it means to her. So, we gotta give this category to Joan Allen and Manhunter.

Graham’s wife: That chick who Josh Lymon gets down with on West Wing (02) vs. Some oldish haggard blonde (86). ADVANTAGE: Manhunter.
In the story, Graham’s wife has a 11 or 12 year old son from a previous marriage. The relationship between Graham and the boy, how the boy learns about Graham’s past and begins to fear him just a bit, really shows us how different Graham is from us, and maybe how much he is like the men he chases. The wife plays very little role in this whole thing, so it’s not exactly a juicy role for an actress. You’ve just gotta be the Mom and wife figure. So, if you don’t bring anything to the party, please be sure to just not pee in the punchbowl. Josh Lymon’s girlfriend fails miserably in this regard, distracting me throughout the movie with thoughts like: hey, this chick is my age, what’s she doing with a 12 year old? And: hey, is the kid the lovechild of her relationship with Josh?, etc etc.

(editor’s note: Acutally, Ms. Mary-Louise Parker would have been 27 when she had the twelve year old in question. She just looks hotter than you. Kal’s note: I would hope freakin’ so.)

Ambiance: Silence of the Lambs look-alike (02) vs. Miami Vice look-alike (86). ADVANTAGE: Miami Vice baby!
Michael Mann, he of Miami Vice and MTV videos, directed Manhunter, and it shows. Everything is that clean, modern 1980’s look. Lots of white, very antiseptic. The soundtrack is moody and synthesized, except for the use of Iron Butterfly’s “Innagoddadavida” during the climactic scene. Red Dragon is very visually similar to Silence of the Lambs, with the sort of world-right-after-a-rainstorm look. It’s much more consistent with the written material: Manhunter almost laughably had Dolarhyde living in this bachelor pad with a large poster of Mars on one end of the living room and Japanese screens (all the better to fall through) in another part of the house.

(I may have made that bit about Japanese screens up. You see, this is the great benefit of writing a blog that nobody reads. No smartass can write you emails saying, “Kal, you ignorant sl*t, we learn that Lector is from Lithuania in the book “Red Dragon” on page thirty-seven, in paragraph six, obviously that’s where his odd accent comes from…” or “they were falling though the poster, not a Japanese screen, in “Manhunter”.)

But this movie captured so vividly a time I hold so dear: no wifey-pooh, no Fruits of my Loom, no mortgage, no J-O-B, that to watch it is to, for two hours, be catapulted back to the age of thin ties, stubble, and Ronnie Reagan. Red Dragon just makes me feel like I need a shower.

Final Score: Manhunter 6, Red Dragon 0, Silence of the Lambs 1.

Till next time, sports fans.

Oh – for obsessive compulsive finders of movie trivia: nothing in this posting, as it’s all about movies. Would be sort of redundant, wouldn’t it now?

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

A Boy's First Post

Northeastern called again the other day, ostensibly to make sure I was still getting the alumni magazine, but of course to ask me for money. While I am very grateful to NU for giving me -- er, strike that -- providing me the opportunity to earn a serviceable, if not spectacular, education, it cheeses me off to no end that they are constantly looking for money from me, after I just finished paying $250 a month for my 1/3rd share of college. (okay, I didn't finish paying it off, I rolled it into my mortgage, which thanks to these Great Depression Redux interest rates I raised the extra 20K for about $75 a month). And what the heck do they do with my $10? They build more freakin' buildings like the four-story health club -- that's right, health FREAKIN club -- on Huntington Avenue.

Now, not to sound like my dad, who walked ten miles to school each morning in the snow, uphill, both ways, in July, but when I went to Northeastern (cue music) we ate in a flippin cafeteria. With LINOLEUM. Probably ASBESTOS LADEN linoleum. And if the asbestos laden linoleum didn't kill you, the smoke coming out of the "game room", featuring one archaic Pole Position, a geriatric Asteroids, and perhaps Dig-freakin-Dug, that old whore of a game, would croak you. Like I want to make these kids' college years any more cushy. Screw that.

Anywho, I usually promise to throw them $10 per year, and then have to beg and plead with my wife, who wisely controls the finances, to let me send them a check after about 15 reminder letters from them, the cost of shipping and handling thus exceeding the $10 I eventually, grudgingly, send.

For some reason I was in a bit of an odd mood when the latest pimply faced workstudy student called looking for dough -- it was a guy, which perhaps doomed the effort to failure, as usually the voice of a youngish co-ed fresh from the leafy suburbs of Connecticut will elicit my interest enough to trade Professor McShane stories, after which I will usually promise the half-sawbuck, sort of the equivalent of the money on the dresser the morning after, I guess.

So I tell Mr. Sophomore that yes, indeed, I still get the beautiful alumni magazine. Which I read for the articles, really. Or, rather, would, if the articles were interesting. Which, is, not so much the case. Yes, I say, I get the magazine, which is rather puzzling as I graduated from Boston College.

Stunned silence.

Then, "Uh, you sure?"

Okay, perhaps he was asking if I was sure that I was receiving the Northeastern alumni magazine, not that I was sure I graduated from Boston College. I can understand him perhaps thinking I was addled enough to mistake the BC magazine for the NU magazine, as NU is quickly turning into a leafy green campus with expensive buildings, and the alumni magazine so rarely catches that real essence of Northeastern life, Punters Pub and classes at the Y (complimentary flak jacket included).

I am hoping that Northeastern has not taken to accepting students who would believe that I perhaps was not sure WHERE I HAD ATTENDED COLLEGE. I would have understood had he told me, "hey, you shitting me buddy?", or perhaps "oh yeah, you're the deadbeat who talks to the girls for thirty minutes and then promises ten bucks". But, please, am I aware of where I went to college? What the hell kind of question is that?

So, I said: Yup. BC, class of '93. Brilliant ad lib on my part, as due to Northeastern's patented water-torture-for-five-years I graduated NU in '94, but would've finished a normal school in 1993.

More stunned silence.

"Uh, could you hold?" So he put me on hold for 30 seconds, came back on, apologized and hung up.

So, no $10 bucks for Northeastern this year. Unfortunately, I may also lose my free subscription to the Alumni mag.

Jeez, I wonder if they'd print this story as an article? I'd read that.