My friend Made A Rockin’ Christmas song; I’m Going To Ramble

My grandma is in the hospital. I just talked to my Grandpa he and told me that Audrey Litchfield will hopefully be released today.

I’ve never seen my Grandma angry. I know that when my Dad was a kid, their house was THE house. It was the neighborhood house where all the kids hung around and felt at home.

When all her kids grew my Grandma worked at Macy’s to help save for retirement.

Before I go into New England, and say a thing or two about the water, I just want to apologize for my pedestrian sea-faring vocabulary. When I went back east the summer before sixth grade, my Grandparents drove me from their house in Rhode Island to Boston. We walked the freedom trail, which led to the USS Constitution. We stood at the dock in silence for a second until I said “Yup… that’s a nice boat.” My Grandpa began laughing immediately. The Constitution is not a boat, folks. It’s a ship.

That summer, I stayed at my grandparent’s house in Barrington, RI for two weeks. My cousin Allison, also ten at the time, came along. It was one of my favorite childhood vacations. Honestly, it was the childhood vacation. It was the vacation I fell in love with New England and told myself I was going to move there someday. My Grandparents were in their early sixties. Lately, I’ve grown to appreciate how lucky I was to grow up with such young parents, and relatively young Grandparents (all of mine are still alive. I’m 29.) On this vacation, my Grandpa Litchfield took me out on a rubber boat with a little outboard motor. We carried it to the shore of the Narragansett bay and spent the day on the water. We brought a cooler with soda and sandwiches that my Grandma made. I’m sure that on that day he told me that the two greatest days in the life of boat ownership are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. (In addition to the rubber thing, he owned a real boat) He probably told me that hard work pays off. He probably told me to keep a positive mental attitude. He probably told me as the clouds quickly drifted overhead that if I did’t like the weather in New England, I should just stick around a bit longer.

I love my Grandparents. I love my Grandma Audrey. I call the Grandparents on my mother’s side “Mom” and “Pop.” I call Mom and Pop’s daughters by their first names- Mari,  Megan, and Shanna. Growing up, I saw them more frequently than the opposite-coast aunts and uncles from my Dad’s side. During my New England visit, My Grandma was quick to inform me that my father’s siblings were my uncle Bobby, and my auntie Robin. My uncle Chris and my auntie Sarah.

On that vacation to Rhode Island, Allison and I were alone in the house for a brief time while Grandma and Grandpa were out. As we watched Grandma’s car pull up the driveway we decided it would be funny to scare her. Allison and I positioned ourselves behind furniture and shout-whispered commands to each other. Then one of us gravely suggested that maybe this wasn’t a good idea. Grandma was in fact our Grandma, and that meant she was old. What if we gave her a heart attack? We abruptly abandoned the plans.

As Grandma walked in, we heard her laughing at us. Heart attack. She’d heard us suggest that we might spark a cardiac arrest by startling her. The idea that her little grandchildren could give her a heart attack was absurd. She hadn’t been in the hospital in nearly thirty years- when her last child was born, and she wasn’t going to go back for almost another 20.

Merry Christmas, and get well Grandma.  Now here’s a band new Christmas song from my pal Jason Reyes.


Boston Colleges

This is really about the most annoying colleges in Boston. In the summer of 2009, I had the idea of writing about Boston’s annoying colleges and I took some notes.  I never got around to writing it beyond that. I figured I’d have to talk to more people and ask questions and do research. Eventually, I forgot about the idea. That’s my creative process- Enthusiasm, frustration/doubt, bury.

Some of the notes from my notebook:

“Talkin about the most annoying colleges in Boston. As measured by their students.

1) Berkeleyeyeyey College of Guitar Backpacks And 15-yr-Old 18-yr-Olds.

2) Note here, Number Two was inspired by a conversation I overheard from a group of young Harvard lads [probably freshman/sophomore] in what seemed like a pretty typical beginning-of-semester conversation.  They were exuberantly talking about people, perhaps slightly more veteran Harvard crewman that were likely to row in the Olympics and make billions of dollars out of the gate that sits at the front there on Brattle street or JFK.  The name of a Senior Crewman was dropped by one of the Young Men of Harvard who went on to unveil that this Fully-Realized Man of Harvard they were speaking of was from Argentina or something. The other Young Man of Harvard exclaimed- “Chalk up another person I know from another country!”


Gravitas, Hometown Buffe-itas, Chalk-Up-Another-Person-I-Know-from-another-country-itas.

3) I have a few friends with Emerson ties, so the following was a struggle.

Emerson- Not #2 for Allie’s sake.”

I asked my friend Gabriel what he thought about the annoying college thing and he told me he felt that MIT was lame because of their “pretensious seclusion.” Allie agreed and added that their self-sustaining college was almost a “sovereign freaking nation, with folks smoking freely in the halls and such.”

Sort Of

Natalie Portman said “sort of” about three times in a one-minute span the other day.  I was listening as she talked about her new ballerina movie on NPR.  I thought perhaps she could use other words and phrases to describe her dancer film.

That’s what the dictionary says that Sort Of means somewhat or rather, though Natalie used in in a capacity that isn’t yet listed in the dictionary.

“Sort of” is now often used in casual conversation when someone is trying to describe something and maybe not confident in their ability to convey.

Example:  “Ballet sort of forces you to do things that your body sort of isn’t able to do?”

“Sort Of” statements like that begin sounding like one is in fact describing something, but then the person “sort of” loses confidence and throws in the towel with respect to describing anything. The “Sort Of” sentence basically ends sounding like a question- as if the describer is asking the asker if what’s being descibed is making any sense, whatsoever. Example:

“-that your body…sort of…isn’t able to do?”

Portman’s use of sort of stood out to me because I’d heard another Harvard grad who used sort of in casual conversation (Interesting note: I almost finished the sentence I’m in the middle of right now as follows: “…another Harvard grad who used “sort of” in casual conversation KIND OF often. Basically I’m a huge idiot) quite often.

So when I heard Natalie Portman say “sort of” 3 times in 1 minute, I thought of Becky Lou, the girl I met at a gay bar the first month I lived in Boston, who’d also graduated from Harvard- and get this, you’re not gonna believe this-Becky Lou had NAT PORTMAN for a lab partner. Where they perhaps developed a sort of constricted, elitist, I’m-real-smart-and-have-lots-of-positive-reinforcement-from-home-but-maybe-I’m-not-like-as-brilliant-as-I-think-I-am vernacular.

Which brings me to the sentence I thought of while cleaning the bathroom, (Yeah, I know it’s my week in the rotation, but um, ladies, maybe coulda cleaned up after you HAIR-CUT hmm? Conspicuous timing in the cleaning rotation for the HAIRCUT.) …So the sentence I thought of while squeezing the trigger of the tub cleasner along to the beat of TEMPTATION by New Order was this: “Hmmm, maybe shake up the vocab a little bit, HARRRR-VARRRRD?” The prior sentence made me step down off the fence and into the yard belonging to “Yeah, it’s worthy.”

Notes about this Post:

  1. In speech and writing I use empty words and idioms quite regularly. Examples: Maybe. Kind of. Quite. Very. Probably even “sort of” FAIRLY often.
  2. I recognize that Portman might have been nervous when she was talking to the NPR guy. And what’s with the high standard? She didn’t get a degree in English, so I could probably relax a bit with respect to this topic.
  3. I also recognize that Portman is hotter than sin and were I to encounter her in public I might say something like this:

“Hey, umm, Natalie Cole, I mean Portman geez ur hotter than sin Um hey I saw you in um The Professional which was like so cool wow ur like on the beautiful side of beautiful- I also saw you on that show- I think it was like a reality TV cooking sort of thing or was it like  a fashion model thing or wait, was it both?  Oh, no, it was Jessica Alba, oh yeah, they like made dresses for JessAlba and she wore the dress of the winning fashion contestant- oh and yeah, she looked so much hotter than Heidi Klum. I DON’T LIKE Heidi Klum she bugs me- anyway Jessica Alba was hotter than sin too geez OH YEAH DUH, you were on that cooking show, and you were (probably still are) vegan so they had to make you vegan food which was like challenging and whatnot – anyway um, I sort of… have a crush on you?- I hate my life I mean what’s the point?- Yeah so I love you let’s get married- but seriously what’s the point? I’m 29 and I slice meat for a living-

Reviews: Movies that I saw a long time ago and/or vaguely remember.

We Were Soldiers

After he enjoyed Lethal Weapon glory but before he suffered international admonition, Mel Gibson played a Vietnam Colonel. The movie begins with typical lightheartedness. A scene shows Greg Kinnear and other “wild animal” soldiers playing baseball with beer cans, I think.  I remember the point is to show that Greg, (best actor in this movie) is a free spirit. Perhaps he doesn’t belong in the army, doesn’t like rules and stuff.  I’m not positive that the players in this expository baseball game pitch and hit beer cans instead of baseballs, but the point is to show rowdiness, and fun. Lots of shirts off. Yelling and loud laughter.  A Credence song probably blaring, and Credence is good.

So still cheery, sunny, and safe at home in a USA army base, we watch as movers move books into Mel Gibson’s new house.  Two privates or otherwise low-ranking boyish soldiers note that the new Colonel must be smart cuz of the books. This shows that Mel isn’t your ordinary stupid army person I suppose.  I remember this movie sucking because Kerri Russell…you know what? that’s enough.  Chris Klein is in it.  He sucks. It sucks.

This Movie, I Only Caught The End

A LOOONG time ago, when I was maybe 14, I turned on the TV and caught the last five minutes of a movie that consisted of messages left on answering machines.  Shots would show the answering machines and the empty rooms they were housed in.  For instance, one setting would be of an answering machine on a nice wood desk in an office of a nice home.  The shot would show the desk and behind it, a sliding glass door with the curtain drawn, exposing beautiful Southern-Californian foliage. I can’t remember what was said in the messages but I remember them as bittersweet and nostalgic.  Perhaps a female’s voice mentioned characters and places I would have been familiar with had I watched the first two hours of the film.  Perhaps Cindy called and left a message that she was eating lunch at Highland Kitchen when she saw Luzy and Stevo.  And they looked so lovely!  Another answering machine might have been in a darker setting, like clearly a single and wealthy male-  A shadowy apartment with expensive but cold looking furniture.  A bit of sadness in the voicemail left on this machine.  Maybe it’s Dale, and it’s the third time he’s called.  Maybe he nervously laughs after he asks “We still friends Stevo?”  Maybe there’s an invitation for Stevo to go to lunch at Highland Kitchen.

If not cold, rich, and single Stevo’s apartment, most of the answering machine shots showed sunshine and greenery out the windows and sliding doors and whatnot.  It was very late-80’s/early-90’s and it was very LA.  Birds of Paradise and Ice Plant were definitely on display. Birds of Paradise existed before 1985 and after 1993, but I feel like they were very much in their prime in the late-80’s/early-90’s.  I think the Brat Pack should consist of Emilio Estavez, Rob Lowe, Everyone that was ever in a John Hughes movie, and a Bird of Paradise plant. This movie, the name of which I’m unaware of, is probably better than We Were Soldiers.