Saturday, February 28, 2009

That kid with the cell phone

I don't feel much older than I did last week, but I suppose I am. I'm 27 now, just three years from the dreaded 3-0.

This isn't time for some predictable life crisis, but I did have a revelation while working on my smooth jump shot at the basketball court last week. In movies or books, the main character usually makes a big discovery, about himself or life in general, while observing something mundane. The fictional detective or lawyer always finds the key to the big case while sitting in the park alone watching a dog catch a Frisbee. Or the main character stares out one sunny afternoon to find children frolicking in a golden field and the camera closes in on the face and a little tear drops from the corner of the eye. And so on.

While draining my shots with Ray Allen-ish flair, two boys no older than 12 appeared. They goofed around the whole time, especially one, who talked on a cell phone. Then I thought about my cousin, who is about 12 or 13, who already has a cell phone, a laptop and an iPod. My family did not own a computer until I was a junior in high school, around the year 2000. But perhaps these goodies are equivalent of that Simon Says toy and Nintendo when I was that age?

During the heady days of my youth, my friends and I played manhunt, four squares, touch football and kickball. Now they text each other and flirt on MySpace. Once you get to the "these damn kids are so different" stage, then you know you're getting up there.

Another sign? I do not own a Nintendo Wii, a PlayStation 3, an iPhone, satellite radio, GPS, high-def television, Tivo or DVR. I still play PlayStation 2, listen to FM radio and tape shows with a VCR. Even my parents use DVR. Part of the reason is I'm cheap/don't make a lot of money. I have a deeply ingrained aversion to spending, and when I do, it's on international trips. (Stupid, weak American dollar!)

How about some more? I have no clue or any interest whatsoever in Twitter. I think it's dumb and useless. I can't name the Jonas Brothers. I take ten minutes to text "hey" on my obsolete cell phone. I still listen to CDs and purchase them in person. I remember the Abraham Lincoln administration. I think back to the LA race riots and think, "Those were the days." I remember being in a social studies class when the O.J. verdict came down and the whole class cheered, except little Stevie. He was pissed. I remember being baffled by the concept of "DVD."

I try my best to keep up with the times. Facebook, MySpace, iTunes, even this here blog help out in that department. (Though I was late with each of these.) I was also liberal before it became cool. OK. Maybe it's not cool, but it's not the dirty word it used to be. I watched 24 from Day 1 and now it's the biggest show in the history of the world. So the cutting edge isn't only for everybody else.

But ... seeing that kid talk so freely shot a cannonball into my subconscious. His friend was climbing up the basket, and this is the truth, I wanted to tell him to stop because he might hurt himself.

Oh well. I still have some years left, hopefully. Now it's time to eat some graham crackers, read a .... what do you call those paper-y things ... oh yeah, a book and watch some CBS programming.

The kids like Everybody Loves Raymond, right?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spread the word

For those who don't know, I traveled to the great country of New Zealand last summer. One song I heard for the first time over there is "Sweet About Me" by Australian artist Gabriella Cilmi. It's the one tune I associate with the entire trip. It sets off all my memories, like elitist wine tasting and malfunctioning vehicles.

The video made an impression on me. First, because the singer is what some would call a good-looking person. Like the first time I saw "Hit Me Baby One More Time," I couldn't take my eyes off the screen.

Come to find out, she was 16 years old. I felt like a dirty old man. But can you blame me? Watch this video and tell me she looks 16. She has to be at least 33. Maybe 45.

So while listening to a pop music station on Sirius, this song came on. And I was excited. This little song I liked from New Zealand has come to America! It's finally on iTunes! Maybe she's finally starting to make it in America. Why not? She has an Amy Winehouse type voice except you don't turn to stone when you look at her. (Yeah, it's superficial but we all know how important looks are.) Oh, and she might live past 30.

So there. I like the song. It reminds me of New Zealand and I think this one has what it takes to make the big time. I expect a big commission.

I continue to enlighten you people on other cultures. You're welcome.

Big whoop. Wanna fight about it?

Introducing a new feature here at Famous Last Words. These will be random confession-type columns. After each bullet point, read to yourself the title of this blog entry. And if you happen to scoff at what I have to say, well, you can answer to this fellow...

  • My 401(k) statement came in the mail last week and I have yet to open it. I'm too scared.

  • Those cute kids in the Microsoft commercials are starting to annoy me. Yeah, you're an adorable child who knows more about technology than me. What of it?

  • I would welcome Stephon Marbury to the Celtics. Corey Dillon, Randy Moss and Manny Ramirez were all supposed to destroy their teams. Two of them lead their clubs to championships and the third would have if it weren't for a fluke play.

  • I have a Paula Abdul song on my iPod.

  • I just don't get the furor over Angelina Jolie. And I don't think I ever will.

  • I'm not all that pumped about baseball starting. I blame my job. Once it becomes your work, it sucks some of the fun away. All I do is make stories about steroids, pretrial hearings, arbitration, contracts, stupid injuries and so on. AP sent us a story about a bullpen catcher's opinion on the A-Rod controversy. We're supposed to care? So as baseball starts, the workload multiplies by 10. I'm saddened I'm already on the track to Miserable Copy Editor status. I just need to gain a few pounds and I'll be right outside the door.

  • I haven't done anything special for my birthday in a long time.

  • I think Coldplay may be the best band of this decade.

  • But The Killers are better. (Take that, Scoop Jackson)

  • I've lived in Florida for more than two years and I've been to the beach about three or four times.

  • I've lived in Florida for more than two years and have yet to attend a spring training game. (That will change today.)

  • I feel superior to almost everyone I know since I jumped on the Barack Obama train back in 2004.

  • I thought Vin Baker was going to have a good career with the Celtics.

  • I've given up on reading extra stuff about Lost. Either the show covers the subject itself or I don't care anymore.

  • I still bite my nails, eight years removed from high school. It has to stop sometime.

  • I still wear many shirts I've had since high school, as well.

  • I still eat Fruit by the Foot.

  • I've never read anything by Mark Twain.

  • Anytime I have dreams I remember, random people from my dark Rhode Island past are in them.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Good night

It was a show perfectly tailored to my sense of humor: absurd, non sequiturs and ironic. For the latter part of my high school years through college, I watched it as much as I could. I consider it one of the funniest shows I've ever seen.

So as Late Night with Conan O'Brien shuffles off, I will remember some of its best moments here. There were many.
  • Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's trip to the Star Wars: Attack of the Clones premier in New York. This is the funniest thing I've ever seen. I remember losing my breath and falling to the floor with tears spilling out as the puppet insulted the Star Wars dorks.

  • The Martha Stewart talking thing. One of the well-known parts of the show is when Conan interviews cutouts of famous people where only the lip moves. There was a run of interviews Conan conducted with Mrs. Stewart where she would calmly answer the questions until suddenly turning into a satanic demon with eyes of fire and a evil, deep voice. The first time they did this I lost it completely.

  • The Masturbating Bear. Need I say more?

  • Nosey Joe

  • Drunken Billy Joel Point of View channel.

  • Joel Goddard. The increasingly creepy and homosexual announcer who likes to scare you with his frozen smile and always enjoyed an Asian male hooker here and there.

  • Max Weinberg. This stone-faced serial pervert always had a great rapport with the host as their awkward conversations would attest.

  • John Tesh. One of my favorites, Tesh was constant fodder for parody. The coup de grace was the moment he played the NBA on NBC theme song on a keyboard in a pen of turkeys.

  • The Walker, Texas Ranger lever. What other show displayed random clips from one of the campiest programs in history? The Haley Joel Osment "Walker" clip is the leader in the clubhouse.

  • Michael Bolton. Who else could engage in a rivalry with the great crooner. This became legend for me when Conan would belt out melodramatically, "Bolllllltooooooooooonnn!!!!!!!"

  • NASCAR-driving, gun-toting Jesus. In an attempt to cater to the red state audience, he introduced this lovable character.

I could go on and on. The random, off-the-wall humor suited my tastets, and while I regretfully lost track of the show once I got a job, I'm sad it is ending. I'm not sure how much of this type of humor Conan can try in the 11:3o slot. Will we see the Jewish turtle riding a mechanical bull? Or barfing Kermit? I doubt it. But Conan will find something. He's too funny to fall flat on his face in L.A.

So on Saturday morning at about 1:30, it will be over. May the masturbating bear and FedEx pope rest in peace.

He's back!

Bill Belichick listens to me. Tully Banta-Cain is back with the Pats. (Tip to mysterious reader J. Schaible for the heads-up).

How soon should I start looking into Super Bowl tickets in Miami?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

An Ode to Coffee Milk

I enjoy coffee milk and I've made it my mission in life to spread it.

Some call it the "foul concoction." They just don't know. Even some of my co-workers were skeptical. Coffee milk? Like coffee with milk? Then I had them taste it and it was a giant success.

It's Rhode Island's official drink and, gosh darn it, America must learn about this. Still can't find the stuff down here at all. I've had to do some nasty things to attain "the stuff."

With that in mind, I thought about a new way to spread the word. Through the beauty of poetry. While poems may not be my speciality, everyone loves a good rhyme. So I composed the following diddly.

From the smallest of states came a gigantic treasure
A fine local blend to give us all pleasure
Throughout the land, sad ignorance runs wild
Of a grand, precious product given no trial

"Coffee milk? Why, that'll make us ill!"
The pundits will say
"I'll never partake in such dastardly swill!"

They ignore the sweet taste of a gallant little sip
That Autocrat and Eclipse bring to our lips
Perhaps they are scared, the peons of today
So dismissive they be, from Newark to L.A.

"Coffee milk is no drink I will ever try"
Protest the weak simpletons
"I would rather gouge my own eye"

Do they forget what RI has done for out nation?
Family Guy, Dell's, the Vinny Pazienza creation

The state of Rocco, hot weiners and Salty Brine
A land of James Woods, Art Lake and R.J. Heim

"You've convinced me dear sir, I'll drink if I may"
Will concede the stubborn
"If Buddy Cianci says so, then I must obey"

Here forth the word of this heavenly drink shall spread
The scintillating sensation will consume all, don't dread
Finally these yokels shall see the errors of their ways
And proclaim their allegiance until the end of days

"Oh what greatness! Oh forever protect us!"
The converts will cry
"The Liquid of the Gods! The Nectar of Justice!"

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cain and Adams

Sometimes, even in this age of instant news, I fall behind. That's precisely what happened today when I found out the 49ers released Hall of Fame linebacker Tully Banta-Cain last week.

Like most who leave the Patriots, my man TBC struggled. For a player of such talent, for such a disruptive force, it was shocking. I blame the San Francisco system. While initially saddened by this development, I am now excited.

This means TBC can go back to the Pats!

It's common knowledge that the Pats would have a 19-0 season to their credit if they had retained TBC's services. Even his most vociferous and delusional detractors would admit that. Add him to a linebacking group with rising stars Jerrod Mayo and Gary Guyton and you'll have a dominant defense for years.

So get on the phone, Bill. Now.

Also, after what seemed like 55 years, Family Guy returned to the airwaves last night. Finally. It was a very solid episode with the highlight being Stewie Griffin's music video: a tribute to the genius of Bryan Adams.

They're taking the clip down all over the place, obviously. (Damn you, Adams Communications!) So I will not bother linking to it. The whole episode in on Hulu however. You just have to find a way to watch Stewie's version of "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)." It's one of the best things Family Guy has done in a while.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Boston University vs. Northeastern University

I'm back.

With that out of the way, it's time to delve into one of the biggest decisions I ever made: picking a college.

It came down to Boston University and Northeastern University. Both schools accepted me (of course!) and the decision wrecked me. I disliked the tour of BU, especially since the campus is one long street. I loved visiting Northeastern. The campus seemed modern and state of the art. I remember walking into the Marino Center with my mom and looking up awe-struck at all the levels of machinery and the glass walls. I was easily impressed back then.

Sometimes I think about what would have changed if I chose BU. Would I have worked for the Globe? Would I be working at CBS right now? All I really know is I would have graduated one year earlier. I would know a whole new set of people and I never would have had a ping pong table --impeccably painted in Celtics green and white -- in my apartment.

The whole process came back to me while I watched BU win another Beanpot title ... against my Huskies. Yes, I only care about college hockey for one week in February each year, but gosh darn it, I want a Beanpot! If I chose BU, I would have several all to myself. So I'm here right now to settle it once and for all.

Let's break this down Nick Bakay style.

Academics: My half-brother urged me to pick BU and he had his reasons. Frankly, it's a more prestigious school. It's not Harvard by a long shot, but it's a fine institution. Northeastern, until recent years, was a commuter school and way outside the Top 100. It's making strides, and I certainly had my share of good professors and interesting classes, but NU still has a way to go.

Advantage: BU

Campus: Northeastern is a ten minute walk from Fenway Park. Maybe some places in BU are within a similar distance, but you couldn't ask for a better location in Boston. Just minutes from the Prudential Center, Mass Ave, etc. BU has the Charles and many nice buildings, but it's one long street. NU is like the new hot-shot conglomerate sprouting up high-rises like weeds. As a journalism student, I was barred from entering any place constructed before the Civil War, but those engineering buildings sure looked spiffy from the outside.

Advantage: NU

Athletics: BU's hockey team has NU beat. That much is clear. However, BU has no football team. Their baseball team has been off-and-on concerning varsity status. Their basketball team? They had Rick Pitino once. But we had Jim Calhoun, who's better. NU has storied Parsons Field, the Lambeau of Boston. Opponents would rather move to Afghanistan than play a road game in the raucous Cabot Cage. Or maybe no one really cares about sports at NU. You can't blame them. But Carlos Pena and Reggie Lewis (RIP) put NU over the top.

(Note: The "Sucks to BU" phrase is almost as tired as "Yankees suck" or "Overrated" chants. Instead of BU, say PU! That's the ticket.)

Advantage: NU

Fine Dining: Nothing beat going to the NU cafeteria for some French Toast sticks in the morning and the brick-oven pizza and stir fry at night, topped with some ice cream. They even provided free laxatives in every meal. BU mostly served it's pampered students with caviar and fine steaks free of charge. They handed out champagne and brought Bobby Darin in to sing during each dinner. But did they have Chicken Lou's? BHOP? Boston Shawarma?

Advantage: NU

Famous Alumni:

BU -- Martin Luther King Jr., Howard Stern, Geena Davis, Marissa Tomei, Stephanie and Shane McMahon, Bill O'Reilly, Tipper Gore, F. Lee Bailey, Stan Grossfeld, Rosie O'Donnell, Faye Dunaway, Jason Alexander, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Joan Baez.

NU -- Shawn Fanning (founder of Napster), Will McDonough, Don Orsillo, Jeff Schaible, Jane Curtin (SNL), Jose Juan Barea, Reggie Lewis, Carlos Pena.

Advantage: BU

Co-op program: Do you know NU has a co-op program? Do you?? So let's see how BU's co-op is.... Oh, they don't have one. FAIL.

Advantage: NU

Students: While definitely populated by its share of drunk morons, NU's student base is middle-class, down-to-earth and wholesome. All the Kaitlin McNeelys of Walpole and Frank Darrigans of Wrentham always have a home at Northeastern. Meanwhile, Chatsworth Farmington Cloosenbury V can have his driver take him to Comm. Ave and hold a Nikkei Index party. We're just fine pissing off Roxbury and Mission Hill residents with our sexy parties at 1 a.m. (I never got my invitations to these), thank you very much.

Advantage: NU

The Derek Jeter/Jason Varitek Intangibles: Did NU have hot girls who expressed themselves with jogging pants equipped with lettering on the ass? You betcha. Did it have more Red Sox hats than you could ever see at Fenway? Sure. Did it represent a wide swath of America, from the snowy villages of Maine to the douchebag factories of Long Island and New Jersey? Yes sir! To be fair, BU probably had all these as well. And they always were blessed with cool commencement speakers. And I've never heard of the BU shuffle.

Advantage: Push

Reputation: People all over the nation respect BU and its degree. As for my school .... here's a common conversation.

Random person: So why did it take you five years to graduate?

Me: I went to Northeastern. It has a co-op program and -

Random person: Ah, Northwestern. Fine school.

Me: No, Northeastern.

Random person: Oh ... is that the riot school?

Me: :::sigh:::

Advantage: BU

There it is. When you look at the numbers, it's simple. NU wins, 5-3 with one push. BU may have the legacy, the names and the Beanpots, but they lose where it counts -- my rating system.

It's time to admire my NU degree.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Technical difficulties

There's a reason I've been absent the past few days. My computer is in the repair shop and I've gone without it for three days and counting. I feel like my child has been taken away from me.

So I apologize to my fans for the Werchadlo-type neglect I am showing this blog. When I get my baby back, I will continue with the hilarity and the insight.

Until then ...

Monday, February 2, 2009

25 Random Things

I give in.

In protest of Facebook and its reign of random terror, I will provide my list on this blog.

Tags: President Obama, Alf, Nina Meyers, Krang, Bob Holmes, Mr. Osso, Vishal and Jelly.

1. I was supposed to have a twin sister, Stephanie, but I killed her in the womb. It was crowded in there and someone had to go. It wasn't me.

2. I am addicted to the scent of gasoline.

3. I deliberately left out Dave Doyle from the award-winning series "The Chronicles of Mordor" because I just don't like him very much.

4. I traveled to New Zealand because I thought I could kill Zach there with impunity and collect the life insurance without Jack McCoy getting on my case.

5. I hid satanic messages in my Duxbury boys lacrosse stories while at the Boston Globe.

6. I think that green female M&M on the commercial is hot. She can melt in my hand anytime. Giggidy.

7. I enjoy going to random elementary schools to tell children that there is no Santa Clause and that life is a series of failures and humiliations.

8. When we played handball in high school gym class, I was by far the best player of the group.

9. I've lived in Rhode Island and have never been on the Block Island ferry because, frankly, I don't want a trip back to care free times.

10. I secretly voted for Libertarian Carla Howell for governor of Massachusetts in 2002.

11. To this day I fear the ice cream man. He has this funky white truck and it's hypnotic music that seeks to lure children from out of their homes for "treats." Always seemed like some liberal plot to destroy the nuclear family, if you ask me.

12. For some reason I used to love tuna fish as a kid, but I can't eat it anymore. I also used to hate pickles on my hamburgers but now I can tolerate them.

13. I handed out free cigarettes and liquor to underage kids while working as a cashier for Phred's Drug. I ran a whole smuggling ring from the trunk of my 1988 Toyota Tercel - the Robin Hood of the Cranston/Warwick line the kids called me. It's always nice to be admired.

14. I paid Cranston High School East 27 dollars to win the English Award, teaching me at just the right age that bribery is the WD-40 of the professional world.

15. I broke Jeff Schaible's Simple Plan CD because it was either that or kill him because I cannot be associated with anyone who likes that band. It was simple, really. I scaled the outside wall and cut a hole through the window and tip-toed around the discarded Mike's hard lemonade bottles. I found the CD but I was too weak to snap it in half so I contracted the job to my Russian mob associates in downtown Boston.

16. One day I will burn Cabin X to the ground and dance around the fire.

17. I cried when Myrth York lost the governor's race ... each time.

18. My childhood crush - and idol - was April O'Neil. So sexy in that yellow jumpsuit and a reporter to boot!

19. I believe Groundhog Day should be outlawed.

20. On my days off I go to senior citizen bars to hang out. I then trick them into handing over their life savings by getting them drunk on moonshine.

21. I spend more time at Starbucks than at Dunkin' Donuts. Why would I pull off such treachery? Because I just loooove the music at Starbucks. Entice me with some winsome, soulful singer/songwriters and you might bring me back, Dunkin'.

22. If I was a girl, I'd be called Juliette and my boobs would magically grow bigger and bigger by the season on some strange, South Pacific island. I could also speak Latin.

23. Sometimes I wish I was born in Norway or Finland. Sure there's like a 50 percent chance I'd kill myself, but I think I'd be one of the coolest people in the country. I'm not appreciated enough here.

24. I wish I could wear glasses just so I could take them off before saying something grave and dramatic.

25. If you can quote Shakespeare, you're a dweeb and deserve an expense-free trip to Gitmo. If you can quote Family Guy, you're my soul mate.